On Saturday, January 25, I grabbed my little camera, and took myself to the Phoenix Convention Center to take pictures of hall costumes. Arizona fans have really been getting into cosplay the last few years, and the costumes keep getting better and better. I like cosplay, and cosplayers–they are so friendly, and some of them are really creative. They enjoy showing off their costumes and are usually very happy to be photographed. So, since I was born to have adventure, I went off to see what I could see.
The trouble with giant conventions downtown is parking. It is very expensive to park downtown. Event parking was $20 for the Con, and I didn’t want to spend that much money. The solution–park for free at ChrisTown and ride the light rail into the heart of the city. An allday pass is just $4. This is the first time I’ve bought a light rail pass since the line started, and I didn’t know how to do it–but a passerby helped me get through it. So, I bought my ticket, got my receipt, and didn’t know enough to pick up the actual plastic boarding pass. The transit police explained it all to me as I was riding downtown. Luckily, they did not arrest me. At least I had my receipt. The other thing that went wrong at the beginning was that when I tried to take a picture of the train at the beginning of the trip, the camera shut iself down–battery power too low. So, the whole photo expedition was not going to work because of lack of power. Luckily, I figured that out before I got downtown and tried to take pix with a camera that wouldn’t work. (It is truly better to be lucky than good.) I jumped back off the train, quick walked 2 blocks to the nearest Walgreen’s drug store, and bought myself a package of AA batteries–an unanticipated expense, but at least I have a supply of new batteries that that should last a couple of months. The rest of the trip was uneventful. I came out with some 87 usable pictures from my trip, and they’re all available on my Facebook page, but here I’m only going to share 42 of the best (in my estimation) shots. 87 might be a bit much . . . 🙂 Oh, this is funny, the pix filled up all the space available to me in this blog, and so I was only able to caption 2 of them. You’ll have to figure out all the rest. Bwa ha ha ha ha!
The first costume I saw on arrival. This young lady is Big Barda, a new god from D.C. Comics.
Three warrior maidens from Asgard posed with me, the totally out of place Trollgod. From left to right, the Enchantress, Thor’s Lady Sif, and a valkyrie. The goon in black is me, Ken St. Andre, Trollgod.
The Flash squares off against Deadpool.
Wonder Woman bounced some invisible bullets for me.
Captain Hook went outside to get a break.
along with his scurvy crew.
This Predator told me he was cooking slowly inside his amazing outfit. He looked really uncomfortable, but graciously gave me the shot.
The giant robot handed out Con literature and provided lots of photo ops.
Robin, red Robin!
I believe this woman is Ghost.
This might be Harley Quinn, the colors are right, or just a vampire lady, but a beauty in either case.
A character from the end of the Bleach manga. He told me his name, but I forgot it. Maybe one of you viewers can explain him.
I don’t know who this is supposed to be, but it’s professional grade body armor if I ever saw any.
This girl was so colorful and bright that I had to take her picture, nor could I exclude her mystical black-garbed friend.
Green Arrow, Oliver Queen, looked like he was ready to rock and roll.
Animated from anime!
Batgirl has gone public. No mask for this crimefighter.
I don’t think Ms. Marvel believed me when I told her I was in love, but she gave me a 20 megawatt smile.
Roller Derby Harley Quinn ditched her Puddin to be with Captain America. In fact, Harley was all over the place and seemed to be hanging with everyone but Mr. J.
She’s just another pretty face, but sweet and so close.
I think it’s some kind of superhero lineup.
Looks like Tinkerbelle has finally gotten Peter to notice her.
Princess Aurora was the soul of curtsy (pun intended)
Alien Smurfette or just a very brainy blue girl???
Rocket Raccoon was gratiied that I recognized her.
I talked to this guy a bit. He said he’s just an ordinary dude, but is his own character. He tricks out ordinary ties with all kinds of punk and kitsch ornamentations.
Wyatt Earp looked a little out of place in this crowd, but I think he qualifies as a 19th century superhero.
Most awesome shoes ever for a male character.
Who wants a Kiss? Not me!!!
The Adam West Batman showed up Great costume, but remarkably restrained by today’s standards of cool and awesome. Look! He actually has a batarang.
Jean Grey and Bucky Barnes seem like an unlikely pair.
Marvin the Martian promised not to deliver any earth-shattering kabooms while the Con was in session.
Batgirl as friendly supermodel. It works for me.
Jay Garrick, the original Flash was still prepared to run circles around his later imitators.
I did not recognize the outfit, so I asked her about it. She said she was the girl from Sucker Punch, the movie, which I have not seen. I asked for her picture, and wound up getting one taken with her by her companion. It’s the Hat–it gets me the pretty girls all the time.
Future Foundation Spider-Man looks absolutely terrified for some reason.
Harley and Ivy.
To infinity and beyond?
This is not Lady Blackhawk gone bad, but someone from Japanese anime. You can tell by the hair color. She liked the idea, though.
On my way out, I saw this graceful ninja flowing through a sword dance. The whole dance will probably be available on the ComicCon Facebook page.
Pirate Harley Quinn. This mixed-up villain has more looks than the Man with 1000 faces.
That’s all, Folks!
Amazingly enough, I was there for almost 2 hours and didn’t see a single person I knew, but what a lot of extremely cool people I did see. The Trollgod tips his beat-up old begoggled hat to all of them as well as to all the great costumes that you can see on Facebook, because I didn’t want this blog to be too long. It is too long, I know, but it could easily have been twice as long.
If you’ve ever seen cool hall costumes at a convention, why not leave a comment. If you recognize yourself in here, why not sign-in and tell the world what you were doing at the Amazing Arizona ComiCon.
Last night I finally got to see the Avengers, my most hotly anticipated film since Conan. I enjoyed it. The action scenes and the special effects were outstanding–Academy Award outstanding. The acting was superb. The scriptwriters and director gave good lines and plenty of screen time to all the major characters. I suppose I should stop and give a well done bit of applause to all the members of the cast. Here’s a few of them as listed at IMDB.com.
I am not a Hollywood groupie, and I don’t keep track of movie stars in my daily life. I have seen Robert Downey and Gwynneth Paltrow enough in other films to recognize their names. I still remember the terrific performances turned in by Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Helmsworth as Thor, but if you had asked me last night before the film who played Cap and Thor in those movies, I couldn’t have told you. Of course everyone in America knows Samuel Jackson from lots of different films–he does the Nick Fury, leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. routine. However, I thought the actors were very good, even the ones in throwaway bit parts. Tom Hiddleston as Loki really carried the movie. Super heroes require super villains, and he was great, combining arrogance, cunning, and sheer mad egotism in a bravura performance. I think there is a tendency to overlook the bad guys in hero action films, but we members of the audience should give those actors more credit. Without them the heroes have no reason to exist, and nothing to emote against. Think about it. There was one real bad guy in the film–Loki. He took on Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye, the Black Widow, and Nick Fury and gave them all they could handle. One vs. seven. I’m not giving away any secrets if I tell you they beat him in the end, but think of the odds. Hero stories are usually stacked the other way–more bad guys than good guys, and in a sense this was since Loki had an army of formidable aliens to back him up, but they were just extras. Loki, and for 2/3 of the movie, Hawkeye who had been mind-controlled by Loki, were the only real bad guys.
The plot can be summarized easily enough. Loki and his army of alien monsters decide to conquer the Earth. Loki’s main problem is in bringing his troops to Earth from their outer space/other dimesnional homeworld. Nick Fury and his agents of SHIELD, including the group he pulls together as the Avengers have to stop him. Lots of combat and property destruction ensue. Much of the conflict occurs on a personal level. Marvel characters are all people first, heroes second. They have their own motivations and lives, and often resent being forced to protect the world from one threat or another, but because they are good guys at heart–at least most of them are–they get over their greivances and cooperate to save the day. Take out all the character vs. character petty antagonisms and the movie is half as long.
I don’t know why the publicity departments for these films always choose the least interesting photos.
The movie really starts with the theft of the Tesseract (also known as the Cosmic Cube in the comics) from a SHIELD base somewhere. Loki takes on the whole base, beats it, and gets away with the maguffin. But it only gets interesting when we switch to the Black Widow, in her crimson underwear, tied to a chair, and being interrogated by an evil Russian general arms dealer. She gets a call from SHIELD saying they need her to “come in” and this leads to an escape featuring the most incredible display of chair fu ever filmed. Jackie Chan would be so proud. That’s the scene I want a picture of, not her in a black rubber suit pointing a pistol.
The two Chrisses. Blondes rule when it comes to street-fighting in New York.
Thor and Captain America, although no dummies, spend most of their time kicking butt and looking hunky. I suppose the beefcake is for the ladies in the audience, but there is a lot of barely concealed homoeroticism in superhero comics. These guys are just so damn pretty. I like it better when they’re kicking butt.
Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD, is a hands-on kind of guy. He does his own dirty jobs, and butt-kicking. Does he look like a mastermind to you? He doesn’t to me, but appearances can be deceiving. You can never trust a cyclops.
In the course of the film we learn that SHIELD is really run by a secret cabal who are utterly ruthless. I guess having it just be an arm of the United Nations or the U.S. government isn’t enough any more. We need conspiracies. And the government looks evil enough to the American public without the movies making it worse. Far better to have secret leaders who can’t be traced back to the Republicans or the Democrats or the Communists pulling the strings. Fury is shown to be a devious bastard, but still a man with heart who does his best to protect people.
Alpha-males never get along when they meet each other. Give them a common foe, and they can certainly cooperate, but social situations are just plain nasty.
Thor and Iron Man go head to head in combat about half way through the movie. I didn’t buy it. No matter how good Stark’s technology is, Thor’s hammer should have blasted through it like it was tissue paper. He’s a god. So, suspend your disbelief for this part and just enjoy the smashing and bashing.
Loki has the best costumes, the best lines, and the best smile in the movie.
Remember that building in the background from the Ghostbusters? When there’s someting bad in the neighborhood, who you gonna call? Bad doesn’t come much worse than Loki on a power trip.
Who ya gonna call? Iron Man, I guess. I like Iron Man–he’s witty, smart, courageous, lecherous, and rich–just like me. Heh. Well, I can match him in one of those characteristics, and it isn’t the rich one.
The movie ends in an epic battle scene. All of our Avenging heroes fight like heroes. Hulk and Thor do the heavy hitting. The rest take on the alien storm troopers who are quite bad enough to give any normal human being fits. This is the part of the movie I liked best. Bring it on! Take out one gigantic space dragon. Not bad. Here’s ten more of them. Now what are you gonna do, Hulk?
I liked the Avengers and give it 4 stars out of 5. **** If you like superheroes at all, don’t miss it.
One more thing: my personal rant–People are so hypercritical of the movies these days. The Avengers is an amazing achievement as a movie. Can you nitpick it? Yes you could. I’m not going to. Try to see the terrific acting, the great storyline, the amazing special effects (even if it was all done with computer animation), and skip over the implausibilities and impossibilities that glare out of the movie at you. It’s a comic book world, bearing a heavy resemblance to our world, but it isn’t our world. It’s a wilder place than our own universe, and wilder things happen. Accept them! Enjoy them!
Biggest surprise for me: Joss Whedon had his name all over the credits. Wow! He must be on top of the world right now. He is, imnsho, the best storyteller in Hollywood, perhaps in the world. Didn’t know he was a Marvel fan, but I stand in awe of his achievements.
If you have anything to say about the Avengers, the Ghostbusters, or Joss Whedon, please leave a comment.
Thor, Iron Man, Steve Rogers--no longer the best of friends
I read a lot of comics. Because of the availability of graphic novels at the public library, I read far more than I could ever afford to buy. Let me tell you, comics fans, the public library is your friend when it comes to comics. Whether you like American superheroes, Japanese manga, European sophistry, or the Independents, the Library is your best friend when it comes to getting an entertainment fix without breaking the bank. Of course, you could always just stand around the comics shop and browse through stuff on the rack, but really, who has time for that? And, it is hardly fair to your friendly local comics dealer.
I hardly ever buy Marvel, not because I don’t like Marvel comics–for the most part Marvel publishes high quality good stuff. It’s just that my finances are strained to the breaking point already in keeping up with the books inspired by Robert E . Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Michael Moorcock, and a few other notable purveyors of swords and sorcery, sword-and-planet, or jungle/lost worlds adventures. Conan, Kull, Tarzan, John Carter, Elric–these are the titles I must buy as they appear. Throw in the occasional Justice League or Green Lantern or Ka-Zar, and my finances are overstretched.
But, just as I love the Justice League, so do I also love the Avengers. And, last week I read the best Avengers tale ever. Here is a brief teaser for it:
They were friends, brothers and teammates through all of Marvel’s greatest adventures, but recent events turned them into the bitterest of enemies. In the wake of the siege of Asgard, Thor, Iron Man and Steve Rogers are brought together on the same side once more – but these great heroes can’t truly trust each other yet. They better start soon, because something only the Big Three can handle is tearing their world apart. This all-new, grand and dangerous adventure – uniting comics legend Alan Davis with Avengers scribe Brian Bendis for the first time – will catapult our heroes into the explosive Heroic Age! Collecting AVENGERS PRIME #1-5.
I’m going to sum up the story very quickly. The old Asgard is gone–I don’t know why–I’d better go catch up on Thor’s adventures at wikipedia.org. Thor has been rebuilding the Realm Not-So-Eternal in the boondocks of Oklahoma. Norman Osborn goes nuts and attacks it with his coalition of supervillains disguised as superheroes and government goons. The Avengers and other heroic types gather to defend it. That all takes place in other comics. Somehow, Thor, Iron Man, and Steve Rogers (not Captain America at the moment because Bucky Barnes–whose survival story is at least as strange as Cap’s–is wearing the wings and toting the shield) get transported to one of the other nine worlds–the world of elves, giants, trolls, and dragons. And none of them like Thor, or his friends–a fact that both Tony Stark and Steve Rogers are a little slow to appreciate. Thus they meet with hostility wherever they go. Throw the ever-beguiling Enchantress and the Death Goddess incarnate, Hela, Queen of Hell, into the mix and our boys have women trouble. Big trouble!
Green seems to be the color of evil in the Marvel universe.
I’m not going to go into the plot, the struggles, the heroics of the big three. They are heroes. You know they will prevail and make things right by the end of the book. Apparently, it was a 5 issue mini-series, but I like it better all collected into one graphic novel. How they do it makes for one of Bendis’s best stories ever.
Because, while most comics make me smile, sometimes even laugh, this one made me cry–or almost. I was so choked up at the end of it that it took me 10 minutes of walking to get my emotions back under control. You see, Bendis wrote a story of triumph, but it was shot through with sadness. A giant helps Tony Stark in his moment of need, and for that good deed, the giant is immolated by the dragon Fafnir. I identify with that giant who personifies the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” A beautiful Elf healer girl falls in love with Captain America. Without her help they would not have made it to the endgame. She is abandoned–her love was hopeless. No good deed goes unpunished. Thor has to shoulder the burden for every inequity ever commited by Odin and the gods of Asgard, and also take a sword thrust through the gut. He’s a god. He survives it. But it had to hurt a lot. No good deed goes unpunished!
Bendis might not have been trying to say “No good deed goes unpunished.” He was telling a story of the triumph of heroes over incredibly hellish difficulties and tremendous odds. He was talking about the renewal of friendship and the failure of evil to triumph. Those are noble themes, but my heart went out to the secondary characters who suffered in order to achieve the final triumph. Gods and heroes walked away happy. Lesser characters, mortals like you and me, suffered and died that the gods and heroes might triumph. I was left feeling incredibly sad, because I am not a god or a hero. It wasn’t my triumph. I know I would have been one of the dead ones in that story.
No good deed goes unpunished! Great story, Mr. Bendis. Terrific art, Mr. Davis.
If you have read The Avengers Prime, I’d love to see your comments on the story.