Friday, February 26, 2010

Thor Concept Art Mix-Up



Some of you may have seen this image floating around the internet over the last few days. Thought to be some concept art for the upcoming live-action Thor movie, it is actually some art unknowingly created for a Thor animated production.

Comic book artist Dan Panosian posted this story along with the picture on this DeviantArt page:

Want to a funny story that will bring a tear to your eye?

Of course you do. You're still reading this. So I get a call from an Art Director friend of mine on Saturday as I was preparing to get my place ready for the Fedor/Arlovski fight. He asked me if I could submit a last minute design for the Thor movie that Marvel is doing.

Over course I was thrilled. They needed it Monday morning. Fine, whatever! They could of needed it in a few hours and I would of complied. It's Thor! Hell, I did design work for [link] Superhero, the Movie - I was waiting for a REAL superhero movie to come along!

Anyway, I factored in a few things. Like creating a suit that could successfully pad an actor and give him some heroic bulk, etc. I also knew that the colors had to be a bit more subdued than the Kirby comic book. And sadly, I had to come up with something that wouldn't look ridiculous on. A tall order.

So, I did what I could and enjoyed every minute of it. I managed about 65% of what I envisioned. Generally that's a decent success when it comes to applying your vision to paper.

I even incorporated the marks on Thor's plates into his logo...

Here's the sad part. I turned it in and that's when the AD mentioned it was a design for the ANIMATED movie. I just assumed it was for the Live Action film I've heard buzz about... Clearly I need to learn to ask more questions...! Assumption is the mother of all... what's the word I'm looking for? ;)

Hell, at least I got to design a Thor costume, right?

Does this mean there is a new animated Thor project in the works? I'd say probably not. According to the DeviantArt page, this picture was posted in January 2009. Based on that timing, the animated movie that was mentioned is probably Thor: Tales of Asgard which was early in production at the time.

If you want to have a look at some actual Tales of Asgard concept art, check out the DeviantArt page of Phil Bourassa. Along with these character designs, Bourassa also worked on Planet Hulk and designed the cover for Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.

Weekend Round-Up - February 26-28



Here is a list of new superhero cartoons debuting this weekend in the US:

Sorry, nothing new this week!

Please note:
  • Batman: The Brave and the Bold will return at the end of March with new episodes.



  • Here is a list of new superhero cartoons debuting this weekend in the Canada:

    Sunday, February 28, 2010
    Teletoon, 12:00pm (ET/PT)
    Iron Man: Armored Adventures - Designed Only for Choas


    The Living Laser is dying, and Tony Stark is trying to save his life. But fate has other plans – the Ghost has been hired by AIM to 'steal' the Laser. AIM needs him to be a power source for their greatest creation, and when Iron Man arrives to rescue the Laser, he's too late – the Mental Organism Designed Only for Conquest is online. Not even Iron Man can withstand MODOC's mental power, and now his fate rests in the hands of the Living Laser – but will the Laser choose to save Tony Stark? Or destroy Iron Man?

    Please Note:
  • New episodes of Super Hero Squad and Batman: The Brave and the Bold will return soon.
  • A Prince There Was




    Season: 1
    Episode Number: 2c
    Season Episode Number: 2c
    Production Number:
    Airdate:

    Writer:
    Director:

    Voices: John Vernon (Namor), Peg Dixson (Lady Dorma), Bernard Cowan (Narrator), (Krang), (Seaweed Monster), (Ancient Atlantian), (Atlantian Bystanders), (Officer).

    Plot: In order to gain the next clue to the whereabouts of Neptune's Trident, Namor must face a giant seaweed monster!

    Review (Warning! Spoilers!): This third chapter is taken from the end of Tales to Astonish #71 and the beginning of Tales to Astonish #72. The story doesn't wrap up at the end of the episode like the other episodes of The Marvel Super Heroes that we've seen so far. Namor doesn't find the trident or reclaim his throne, he goes off at the end of this episode and will continue his journey in the next episode.

    This is fairly significant because most shows from this era don't have multi-episode storyarcs. Serial cartoons didn't really come into popularity until the 80s, although there are plenty of exceptions, like Rocky & Bullwinkle.

    The visuals in the Sub-Mariner segment are really much better than the other segments of The Marvel Super Heroes. This is largely due to the fantastic art of Adam Austen, who is actually Gene Colan working under a pseudonym. Colan, along with his contemporaries Kirky, Ditko and Heck, defined the Silver Age of Marvel Comics.

    Back to Episode Guide

    Escape... To Nowhere!




    Season: 1
    Episode Number: 2b
    Season Episode Number: 2b
    Production Number:
    Airdate:

    Writer:
    Director:

    Voices: John Vernon (Namor), Peg Dixon (Lady Dorma), Bernard Cowan (Narrator), (Krang), (Neptune), (Atlantian), (Guard).

    Plot: Namor continues on his search for Neptune's Trident, but Krang is planning a deadly trap for the Prince of Atlantis!

    Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Namor has a variety of super powers, thanks to his Atlanitan heritage. One of them is spinning his body around so fast that he can bore through solid rock!

    Many of Namor's powers are not often seen today. But since this is the sixties, they are all out on display for us to see!

    This chapter comes from the issue Tales to Astonish #71 and it follows it to a tee! There is a lot of action in this chapter, including a battle with a giant squid and the attack on Namor by Krang's battleship.

    The animators make good use of the limited animation in these sequences. It may seem a bit cheap, but this is what they had to work with at the time and they make it work.

    Back to Episode Guide

    The Start of the Quest




    Season: 1
    Episode Number: 2a
    Season Episode Number: 2a
    Production Number:
    Airdate:

    Writer:
    Director:

    Voices: John Vernon (Namor), Peg Dixson (Lady Dorma), Bernard Cowan (Narrator), (Krang),(Guard).

    Plot: While away from Atlantis, Emperor Krang has usurped Namor's throne, so Namor goes on a quest to retrieve Neptune's trident which will prove his rightful place on the throne.

    Review (Warning! Spoilers!): I talked in my review of episode one about how I couldn't find the source material for that episode, but it was easy to find the issue from which this episode was based, Tales to Astonish #70, the first TTA issue to feature the Sub-Mariner.

    Grantay-Lawrence Animation mostly used the stories from "Two-in-One" comics like Tales to Astonish and Tales of Suspense because these shorter stories don't get bogged down with all the continuity of the main character's solo title (if they had one at the time) and they also were able to take a whole story and adapt it into a 5 minute episode.
    Adam Austin Art

    The artwork in this episode is taken from the panels drawn by Adam Austin, who give life to the undersea world that Namor lives in. His drawings are incredibly beautiful, but unfortunately a lot of the detail is simplified to make the animation easier. But it still looks great, especially Lady Dorma. Austin's women are stunning.

    Character-wise, Namor is a lot less hot-tempered than we are used to. If this were modern day and Krang took Namor's throne, Namor would have gone on up to him and punched him in the face! None of this going-on-a-mystical-quest nonsense.

    Back to Episode Guide

    Thursday, February 25, 2010

    Sandu, Master of the Supernatural




    Season: 1
    Episode Number: 2b
    Season Episode Number: 2b
    Production Number:
    Airdate:

    Writer:
    Director:

    Voices: Chris Wiggins (Thor), Peg Dixson (Jane Foster), Len Carlson (Loki), Bernard Cowan (Narrator, Odin), (Sandu), (Bystanders), (TV Newscasters).

    Plot: Loki is not free to leave Asgard, so he watches from afar as he grants the psychic Sandu powers of levitation and teleportation. Sandu soon becomes crazy with power.

    Review (Warning! Spoilers!): The story started in the previous chapter (Journey Into Mystery #92) concludes here and immediately jumps into Journey Into Mystery #91, which stars a throw-away villain named Sandu. There isn't really anything interesting about this episode except that Thor loses his hammer again. That guy should strap a bungie tether to the hammer and his wrist.

    Many of the voices in this show remain a mystery. Most of the main characters have been verified through various different sources, but all of these secondary characters remain unknown.

    I can speculate based on what they sound like, though. These voice actors did several voices in the series. Sandu sounds like he could be Len Carlson, the voice of Loki. The Movie Director from the last chapter sounds like it could be Carlson as well.

    Back to Episode Guide

    Enchanted Hammer




    Season: 1
    Episode Number: 2c
    Season Episode Number: 2c
    Production Number:
    Airdate:

    Writer:
    Director:

    Voices: Chris Wiggins (Thor), Peg Dixson (Jane Foster), Len Carlson (Loki), Bernard Cowan (Narrator, Odin), (Sandu), (Police Officer), (Bystander).

    Plot: Sandu has trapped Thor, who is shackled in chains, in a ditch under a building. Without his hammer, how will Thor defeat the all-powerful Sandu, Master of the Supernatural?

    Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Finishing off the story from Journey Into Mystery #91, there are a few scenes left out that cause some confusion in the storytelling. For instance, Sandu has just placed a building on top of Thor when he is confronted by two police officers. After stopping bullets fired from their guns, Sandu tells them that he is teleporting them "back to the city."

    But they were already in the city! If the missing scenes were included, we would have scene that the police officers were teleported outside of the city along with the bank and it was there where the confrontation with Sandu took place. By removing the scene and not changing the dialogue, some continuity problems arose.

    Another continuity issue is the way the two artists draw Odin. Sinnott puts horns on Odin's helmet, but the reused footage from the previous episode has Kirby's art which has wings instead. I actually didn't realize at first that they were both Odin because the drawings are so different. I wish they would have been more consistent, but I understand the limitations that animation studios had in the sixties.

    Back to Episode Guide

    Chained Evil




    Season: 1
    Episode Number: 2a
    Season Episode Number: 2a
    Production Number:
    Airdate:

    Writer:
    Director:

    Voices: Chris Wiggins (Thor), Peg Dixson (Jane Foster), Len Carlson (Loki), Bernard Cowan (Narrator, Odin), (Heimdall), (Neri), (Director).

    Plot: Loki uses his mystical powers to attract the Uru metal in Thor's hammer to Asgard. Without his hammer, Thor can not return to Asgard!

    Review (Warning! Spoilers!): This episode goes to show you that Thor isn't a superhero without his hammer. First, he can't get back to Asgard without it, so Odin has to help him. Then he is trapped by Loki's tree creatures, so he creates a wooden hammer to defend himself. Then Loki attacks Thor with some monsters, so Thor has to carve a new hammer out of the rock in order to defeat the creatures.

    No super strength, no flight, no calling down thunder, only hammer power. I guess that is the reason Loki goes after Thor's hammer every time they meet in these early days.

    This chapter draw its material from Journey Into Mystery #92 with art by Joe Sinnott. Although, there is quite a bit of reused animation from the previous episode, which was based on Jack Kirby's artwork, so there is a bit of discontinuity in the art style.

    Back to Episode Guide

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    Under the Red Hood First Look Featurette



    This picture of Nightwing is one of the many things that you will see in the Batman: Under the Red Hood First Look featurette that was included on the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths DVD and Blu-ray that came out yesterday.

    There is a lot to look forward to in this upcoming DVD, like two great stories from Batman's history, an excellent sounding voice cast, animation art based on the work of the Under the Hood graphic novel artist Doug Mahnke, the animated debut of the Jason Todd Robin, and appearances from Joker, Black Mask, Nightwing... oh, and Batman too!



    The Origin of the Mandarin




    Season: 1
    Episode Number: 2c
    Season Episode Number: 2c
    Production Number:
    Airdate:

    Writer:
    Director:

    Voices: John Vernon (Iron Man), Peg Dixon (Pepper Potts), Paul Soles (Happy Hogan), Bernard Cowan (Mandarin, Narrator), (Chinese General) (Pilot 1), (Pilot 2).

    Plot: With Iron Man in captivity, the Mandarin recounts the day he found his mystical rings.

    Review (Warning! Spoilers!): Ah yes, the classic "death trap/reveal the plot" storyline that was well used in the sixties and parodied these days. It even seemed forced and contrived back then. This chapter takes the Mandarin's origin story from Tales of Suspense #62, however, they leave out quite a bit. There is no mention about his family history as descendants of Genghis Khan, or the history behind the rings. They basically boil his whole story down to 90 seconds: The Mandarin found rings on a fallen space ship and now he uses them to gain power.

    The end of this chapter borrows a scene from Tales of Suspense #63 in which Tony is found to be alive and well. This subplot of Happy and Pepper suspicious of Iron Man and investigating Tony's death is better played out in the comics. The storyline lasts a few issues long and goes into more detail about Happy and Pepper's relationship and how Tony's death affects it.

    It doesn't seem to be to important in this episode. In fact, by the time chapter three rolls around, I forgot that Tony "died" because I am much more into the Mandarin's story. And then they tack on that final sequence to resolve the issue, but it may have been better if they had left the whole subplot out all together.

    Back to Episode Guide

    The Hands of the Mandarin




    Season: 1
    Episode Number: 2b
    Season Episode Number: 2b
    Production Number:
    Airdate:

    Writer:
    Director:

    Voices: John Vernon (Iron Man), Bernard Cowan (Mandarin, Narrator), (Chinese Guard).

    Plot: Iron Man faces off against the Mandarin, but can the Golden Avenger defeat not only the Mandarin, but all of his household weapons as well?

    Review (Warning! Spoilers!): In a rather bizarre move, Grantray-Lawrence Animation decides to stick the first encounter between the Mandarin and Iron Man (TOS #50) right in the middle of the story told in Tales of Suspense #61 & 62. Lucky for them, they found a way to make it work just fine. However, there are inconsistencies in the Mandarin's character designs since artist Don Heck drew him a bit different in the two issues.

    Speaking of the Mandarin, this original version of the Mandarin is so completely different than any other version of the character. First, his costume is ridiculous. The giant "M"? The goofy mask/goggles? And it's not just the outfit, it is the whole Chinese stereotype that is ridiculous. The Fu Manchu mustache, the long fingernails and Bernard Cowan's attempt at a Chinese accent would never make it in a children's cartoon today, but it represents the ignorant Western view of "Red China" from the sixties.

    The Mandarin has become more of a mystic in recent years, not relying on gadgetry and technology as much as he does in this episode. He is basically a typical 60s villain. Big ideas and big schemes, plenty of weapons and brute strength, but not enough smarts to carry any of it out. He definitely becomes a bigger threat over the years.

    Back to Episode Guide

    The Death of Tony Stark!




    Season: 1
    Episode Number: 2a
    Season Episode Number: 2a
    Production Number:
    Airdate:

    Writer:
    Director:

    Voices: John Vernon (Iron Man), Peg Dixon (Pepper Potts), Paul Soles (Happy Hogan), Bernard Cowan (Mandarin, Narrator), (Police Chief), (Newsboy), (Radio Announcer).

    Plot: The Mandarin uses an orbiting satellite to destroy the home of Tony Stark, making everyone believe Tony died in the explosion. Iron Man makes his way to China to investigate.

    Review (Warning! Spoilers!): According to the various episode guides found around the internet, this is the second episode of the Invincible Iron Man segment of The Marvel Super Heroes, but it sure doesn't seem like it. First, Iron Man is in his Mark IV armour, which is consistent with the issue the episode is adapted from (Tales of Suspense #61), but is confusing since he was in his golden armour in the previous episode and will don it again in an upcoming episode.

    There are other continuity problems too. Happy and Pepper are already a couple in this episode even though they only met for the first time in the last episode.

    They also decided to mix up the Mandarin's appearances a little. TOS #61 is the Mandarin's fourth appearance, but the last scene in the chapter is the splashpage from TOS #50, the Mandarin's first comic appearance. Chapter two plays out the events in TOS #50 and chapter three resumes the original story that is continued in TOS #62.

    Don Heck's art is more prominently featured in this episode, including Happy Hogan, who was replaced in the first episode by a Happy that looked like it was drawn by Jack Kirby. Heck's Mandarin character designs remain intact here. Unfortunately, Tony and Pepper are still not the Heck versions.

    There is a lot to talk about Mandarin, but I'll save that for chapter two.

    Back to Episode Guide

    Tuesday, February 23, 2010

    New Brave and the Bold Episodes on iTunes.




    Batman: The Brave and the Bold director Ben Jones lets us know on his blog that even though Cartoon Network has delayed airing new episodes until March, iTunes is still releasing the new ones. You can already watch The Super Batman from Planet X and The Power of Shazam and if this trend continues, the highly anticipated Chill of the Night should be up this Friday.

    He also tells an amusing story about his lifelong goal to blow up the Red Tornado.

    Crisis on Two Earths Has Arrived!



    The long wait has finally come to an end! Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths arrives on Single-Disc and Two-Disc DVD and Blu-ray today! I hope you all can get out and watch it right away!

    Here are a few clips just to whet your appetite:







    Hulk Runs Amok




    Season: 1
    Episode Number: 2c
    Season Episode Number: 2c
    Production Number:
    Airdate:

    Writer:
    Director:

    Voices: Paul Soles (Bruce Banner, Rick Jones), Max Ferguson (Hulk), Peg Dixon (Betty Ross), Paul Kligman (General "Thunderbolt" Ross), Bernard Cowan (Narrator), (Torrak).

    Plot: Bruce Banner has figured out a way to stop the alien Toadmen, but he might not get a chance to use it if General "Thunderbolt" Ross gets his hands on the Hulk!

    Review (Warning! Spoilers!): So it appears that General Ross has decided that the impending alien invasion is no big deal since he has decided to go after the Hulk. Betty's in trouble, so I guess that counts for something, but the aliens don't even seem to enter his mind.

    Lucky for him, Bruce hasn't forgot about the invasion! In fact, he's figured out that gamma radiation should drive the alien forces back into outer space! Is this great pulp sci-fi or what?

    It's only the second episode in and there is a surprising amount of reused animation, especially when you compare it to the other segments in Marvel Super Heroes. The budgets are so tight that the people at Grantray-Lawrence Animation don't even seem to care that some of the scenes they reuse don't even fit!

    Of instance, there is one scene in which Betty is supposed to be hugging Bruce, but even though you can't see his face, it is obvious that the person she is hugging is her father, General Ross, because you can see his decorated uniform!

    I hope that you who are watching this show for the first time are able to understand the limited amount of time and money they were able to put into this show and watch it in context, because it really is quite good for what they were working with.

    Back to Episode Guide

    Bruce Banner Wanted for Treason!




    Season: 1
    Episode Number: 2b
    Season Episode Number: 2b
    Production Number:
    Airdate:

    Writer:
    Director:

    Voices: Paul Soles (Bruce Banner, Rick Jones), Max Ferguson (Hulk), Peg Dixon (Betty Ross), Paul Kligman (General "Thunderbolt" Ross), Bernard Cowan (Narrator), (Torrak), (Toad Man 1), (Toad Man 2).

    Plot: Thinking he has fallen in with the enemy, the General throws Bruce Banner in prison. Suddenly an armada of alien Toad Men surround the Earth.

    Review (Warning! Spoilers!): It is pretty remarkable what voice actors can do. The two main characters in this series, Bruce Banner and Rick Jones, are both voiced by Paul Soles, yet if I close my eyes I can still tell who is speaking. Soles went on to be the voice of Spider-Man for the 1967 series and would change his voice depending on if he was Peter Parker or Spider-Man.

    The entire cast of The Marvel Super Heroes is about ten or twelve people, all of whom do multiple voices. Paul Soles also provides voices for Happy Hogan in the Iron Man segment, and Peg Dixon is almost every female character in the five segments (and Spider-Man too).

    I haven't watched the show enough to identify who is voicing which minor or background character, but I hope to be able to pin a name to every speaking part in The Marvel Super Heroes eventually.

    This chapter, along with the other two chapters that make up this episode are taken directly from The Incredible Hulk #2, in which General "Thunderbolt" Ross thinks it's a good idea to drive a tank through his daughter's house in order to save her.

    Back to Episode Guide