Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"Y su nombre es 'Brent'"

I am not a fan of any incarnation of Star Trek. Never have been. I am aware of characters and actors associated with the franchise simply because they are a part of the pop culture vernacular. But never in a million years would I have ever guessed that one of the single most memorable lines ever delivered in an episode of Night Court was done so by a future Star Trek actor.

The down-on-his-luck West Virginian Bob Wheeler character always amused me in that sort of uncomfortable non-politically correct way most of Night Court did back in the ’80s. The whole show was sort of risqué for a kid who had only recently entered his teens and was getting to stay up late on a school night to watch TV with his parents. But Wheeler had a line that I still quote today as often as I do a line from Ghostbusters or Animal House or WarGames or any other pop culture touchstone of my youth. And I was surprised when I recently found out that Bob Wheeler was portrayed by Brent Spiner, who would gain geek fame on Star Trek: The Next Generation in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but I will now think of him every time I deliver the line “y su nombre es ‘Bob.’”

Check out the 5:58 mark of this clip from the classic "Hurricane" two-part episode from 1986. (And, yeah, that's Pam Grier as one of the pregnant ladies going into labor.)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Marvel Unbound - Spider-Man/Red Sonja

The Spider-Man/Red Sonja crossover miniseries from Marvel and Dynamite Entertainment was loads of fun! The miniseries, written by Michael Avon Oeming and drawn by Mel Rubi, is fantastic! I have been a fan of Oeming since discovering him through his collaboration with Bendis on Powers. I enjoyed his writing on the Ares miniseries and love his work with Bryan J.L. Glass on Mice Templar. He turns in a solid story here, continuing the struggle of Kulan Gath’s attempts to take over the Earth with magic.

Originally debuting in the pages of Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian comic back in 1972, Kulan Gath soon became a Red Sonja rogue. In 1979, Red Sonja joined Spidey in Marvel Team-Up #79 to battle Kulan Gath in what amounts to a single-issue version of the story retold and expanded on by Oeming and Rubi here two decades later.

But it’s not just Kulan Gath playing in this sandbox. Some classics from Spidey’s rogues gallery show up, too, like Scorpion, Lizard, Hobgoblin, and Venom. Venom’s actually crucial to t
he story as Kulan Gath takes control of the symbiote, eventually ripping it from Eddie Brock and becoming Kulan Venom. Joe Robertson is used to fine effect, as well as J. Jonah Jameson in a bit part. Mary Jane in the lynchpin of the five-issue arc just as she was in the original Marvel Team-Up tale. A modern-day Red Sonja herself, I imagine she’s a fun character to write, and Oeming seems to have a good time using her here.

There are some nice extras for being a fairly slim trade paperback collection. Michael Turner’s original covers for all five issues are included, along with his variant covers for issues #1 and #2. His Red Sonja is stunning and sexy. You also get two pages of Rubi’s character sketches – a full page of Spidey, plus a page of MJ, Red Sonja, and Venom. The best extra in this collection, however, is the inclusion of Marvel Team-Up #79. And if you’re not familiar with this Chris Claremont and John Byrne written, co-plotted, and penciled story, you’re in for a real treat! In fact, I would seriously recommend you read this story in the back of the collection first, before reading the update by Oeming and Rubi.

In short, with Spider-Man/Red Sonja you get a fun, expanded update on a classic Marvel tale, some gorgeous art (and eye candy), and a bonus from-the-vaults story by a couple of legends reprinted to boot, all for under 15 dollars! That’s good stuff!