Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Black Superheroes: Static

Name: Virgil Hawkins

First Appearance: Static #1 (1993)

History: In Dakota City’s most crime ridden neighborhood all the local gangs, totally in about five hundred members, decide to have one last Winner-Takes-All battle royal in the intersection of their territories. The event would be nicknamed “The Big Bang” (As it's a gang bang, hardy-ha) and it was no secret; indeed the mayor initiated a plan to eradicate the city’s gang problem in one swoop. The police were to tag the various gang members with tear gas laced with a harmless radioactive tracing substance that would allow them to be easily tracked down, thus meaning that most of them would be behind bars by morning. However things went very awry. Virgil Hawkins, a fifteen year old high school student, was present at the site, not because he was in a gang but rather he had been convinced by some gang banger friends to join them in the fight so he could gain final revenge on the bullies who mercilessly tormented him at school. Though he had a change of heart and decided against participating he was still at the sight of ground-zero.

The gas turned out to be less than harmless as it had been spiked with a mutagenic substance; instead of simply tagging it’s victims it killed 90% of those who came in contact with it leaving it’s survivors either horribly mutated or with bizarre super powers (Those who lived through would be referred to as “Bang Babies”). Virgil survived his exposure and soon developed electromagnetic based powers. Being a fan of superhero comics he decides to use his new found powers to fight crime, taking the name “Static.”

Beta Says: It’s very possible that, as opposed to the vast majority of the black heroes mentioned on this blog, you’ve at least heard of Static as he is the only one profiled to star on his own Saturday Morning (Network broadcasted) cartoon. Meaning that an entire generation of kids (Likely now young adults) was exposed to this character for several years. Of course this was twelve years ago so he’s not exactly super pop culture relevant nowadays. Like Mister Terrific Static is a black character that got his own starring role in comic with the Great DC Reboot but, also like Mister Terrific, the book was canceled due to low sales. And again like with Mister Terrific I understand why, but that doesn’t mean I’m not pissed.

More after the jump.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Beta’s Super Awesome Unofficial 84th Academy Awards Blog: Even Harder

[The following intro was written before the show began]

Another year, another trip to the Oscars. If I recall last year was not as self-indulgent as some past events but still pretty dull. Also the hosts, Anne Hathaway and James Franco didn’t exactly set the world on fire. This year’s show has had its share of controversy already. Brett Ratner, director of X-Men 3 and the Rush Hour movies and a guy who is the forerunner for my Biggest Asshole in Hollywood list, was supposed to produce and direct this thing but was more or less fired after he said “Rehearsal is for [Gay Slurs]” in an interview because he is a huge dick. Eddie Murphy was supposed to host but he dropped out because I guess gays slurs isn’t really a hot issue for him. They have now been replaced by Don Mischer as director and Billy Crystal as host, which will be his ninth time. If you recall last year he showed up for about five minutes and I thought was about 1000% more interesting than anything else on the show. Clearly the people in charge agreed and now they’ve pulled him out of the closet, dusted him off and put him back to work. So much for appealing to the “young generation”. Which is just as well because clearly Hollywood doesn’t really understand how to do that anyway.

I have since seen a few more films up for awards since I did the pre-blog a few weeks ago. It sounds like the battle for Best Picture will be between Hugo and The Artist. I was able to see Hugo…and I have to say it really sucks that I missed out on watching it sooner because IT’S TH BEST F**KING MOVIE OF 2011! Seriously! If I had seen it before I wrote my Best Movies of 2011 blog it would have edged out The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. As for The Artist…still haven’t seen it. It’s an old school black and white silent film that has everyone in Hollywood pissing themselves with excitement. There’s a good chance that it will ultimately clean house here but I’m hopeful Hugo will pull it out. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo probably won’t be winning much tonight but maybe I’ll be surprised.

More after the jump

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Black Superheroes: Spawn

Behold! The Amazing Spider-Man Spawn!
Name: Albert “Al” Simmons

First Appearance: Spawn #1 (1992)

History: Al Simmons had a life once. He was a top notch CIA assassin, working for a top secret division. After a while however Simmons began questioning his boss Jason Wynn after series of increasingly morally depraved assignments. Unable (Or unwilling) to indulge his underlying Wynn ordered Simmons’ death, which was carried out by his own partner Bruce Stinson (AKA Chapel). But death wasn’t the end for Al; due to his many evil deeds as an assassin his soul went to hell. There he meets the demon Malebolgia who offers him a sinister deal: become a Hellspawn and in exchange he’ll be allowed to return to Earth to see his wife one last time. Simmons agrees and is subsequently sent back. However upon his resurrection he is amnesic, his body is burned and disfigured, and worse of all its five years later and his wife has already moved on…marrying his best friend! However Spawn, as he is now known, possesses the Hellspawn powers. Emotionally devastated he becomes a violent antihero and soon becomes a crucial part of a conflict between Hell and Heaven

Beta Says: I am not what you’d call a Spawn fan. I’m more of a superhero comic enthusiasts and the darker route of this comic never really got my attention. In fact he’s probably the poster child for the violent 90s hero archetype I dislike (Though at least he makes sense for his world, unlike a certain claw wielding fellow). Plus the book gets pretty goddamn hard to follow after a while. But the title was one of the highest selling books of the day, reaching rare heights of popularity and ultimately putting Image comics on the map and making its creator Todd McFarlane one of the richest men in the industry. It also led to an critically acclaimed HBO cartoon (One of the few adult cartoons that wasn’t a comedy or porn) and a less than critically acclaimed live-action film, not to mention numerous video game appearances. With the high sales and the exposure Spawn reached a level of mainstream exposure that almost no other African American hero, especially a solo hero, could lay claim to. Though his notoriety has gone down in the last ten years or so (For the most part) he may be in fact be the most successful black character in American superhero comics.

More on Spawn after the jump.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Anime Review: Demon King Daimao

Very recently I ended up watching three anime series back to back, which by the way is one of the worst things a human being can do to themselves. There’s nothing wrong with watching anime, of course, but watching that much in one sitting is hard on the brain. I’m not 100% sure I escaped with me sanity intact.

Still the bright side is that I can do a few anime reviews now for all you anime minded fans who visit the blog (Which judging by the page view counts is most of you…somehow). I’ll start with Demon King Daimaoh. This is the “translated” title for Ichiban Ushiro no Dai Mao. The English title actually means “Demon King Great Demon King” which is redundant as hell. The original title actually means “The Great Demon King in the Back Row”…which admittedly is also an awful title, but hey, at least it doesn’t repeat itself. [Editor’s Note: Starting next week Beta is Dead will be renamed “Dead Beta is Dead (Featuring Beta)”]

Whatever this show is called it’s based on a Light Novel series that as of this writing is still ongoing. It was produced by the studio Artland in 2010 and licensed and dubbed by Sentai Filmworks the summer of 2011. Sentai Filmworks, you may recall, were responsible for dubbing Highschool of the Dead, a show that I heavily criticized for its fan service. Keep this in mind.

Actually I saw the first episode of this show a while back on Crunchyroll.com but I didn’t keep up with it. As I couldn’t remember the exact reason I assumed it was because I just didn’t get around to it. Well…maybe that will learn me.

Full review after the jump.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Black Superheroes: Mister Terrific II

See? Look at that jacket. Cool as ice!
Name: Michel Holt

First Appearance: Spectre #54 (1997)

History: Michael Holt was brilliant at everything he’s ever done. A genius with a mind bogglingly aptitude for damn near everything Michael had a working understanding of such concepts as theoretical physics before the age of ten. He breezed through school earning no less than 14 Ph.Ds. He became a self-made millionaire through this company Cyberware. He earned a Gold Medal in the Olympics. He was also lucky in love, at least until the day that his wife Paula and their unborn child were killed in an accident. Devastated Holt decided to end his own life but was stopped by The Spectre (Of all people) who informed him of the story of Terry Sloane, the Golden Age hero Mister Terrific. Sloane’s background was remarkably similarly to Holt’s (Though Sloan was going to kill himself because he was bored rather than because he lost someone). Inspired by the tale Michael decided to use his own near perfect skills to help the world as the new Mister Terrific. With his scientific genius at his disposal he created the T-Mask, which makes him invisible to technology, and the T-Sphere’s, which had an assortment of uses. Also his badass leather jacket. Mister Terrific would go on to become a members of the revived Justice Society of America, where he eventually became chairman, and Checkmate as the White King.

Beta Says: Okay, so the reason I’m doing this one on Mister Terrific despite the fact that I’ve written on him just a few months ago is two-fold: I love the character and it gives me a chance to talk about the now failed new series.

More after the jump.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Black Superheroes II: Intro

I think he's technically nude. Gross.
This is later than I wanted it to be but we’ll be doing another round of Black Superhero Profiles in honor of Black History Month. There’s not much to say but here’s a few points I feel I need to make before I get started. 

-I will be doing a lot less this year. Mainly because of time restraint but also sometimes less is more. I’ll definitely be doing three and we’ll see how I feel about it after that. Unfortunately of those three none of them will be women, which bothers me as much as it might bother you. To at least partly make up for this I’m considering doing a series of profiles on female super heroes in a similarly style. If that’s something you’d like to read let me know. 

-Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t bring this up but I want to make sure my position is understood when I do stuff like this. Someone posted in the comment section on my post on Vixen a while back that I was a “modern day black supremacist moron”. Now I assume this is the opinion of one silly person who doesn’t actually understand what a black supremacist is but still I will say it out loud: I’m not necessarily saying anything about black superheroes somehow being better than white superheroes, nor am I suggesting that we need to get rid of the white superheroes and replace them with black ones. If you got that from what I wrote I have to say that you’re extremely confused (And possibly crazy). I am black, that is something I have always been upfront about. So just like any person I like to see myself in the characters I’m reading about, at least some times. I like Spider-Man (Or at least I used to) but at the end of the day I won’t ever be able to relate to him as much as a black hero in an equivalent book (Like Static, for example). That doesn’t mean I like Spidey any less; it’s just how it is. 

So anyway I’m not racist; I just like to see more people who look like me in the things I like to watch. Especially since the number is so uneven. You guys clear? Okay. Next time we’ll be looking at a character that I think may be DC’s coolest character but just recently fell flat on his face in his own solo title.