A theory for 'Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.' (major spoilers ahead)

My theory begins back in episode 14, or T.A.H.I.T.I. After the team, consisting of Coulson, Ward, Fitz and Garrett, enter the Guest House facility, they are met by two armed guards whose duties are to defend the facility with their lives. When the agents do not know the response to a coded sign, the two guards go to arms and a shootout begins. The agents take them out fairly easily (if the viewer ignores the explosives lining the building.) Garrett personally kills one of the guards and takes his ID to learn his name.

He says (paraphrasing here): "Sorry, Bob. No hard feelings."

This is when my ears perked up ever so slightly. We knew that Nick Fury ordered Coulson's medical procedures at this mysterious facility, but we also knew that it was not actually a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. Aware (based on previews) that the upcoming Captain America: The Winder Soldier was going to involve corruption in the upper echelons of S.H.I.E.L.D., H.Y.D.R.A. had been on my mind. My exciting, but brief, thought was: "Did Garret just kill H.Y.D.R.A. Bob?!"

Why in the world was that line in the script? It served no purpose to the plot or characters at all, except possibly as a small preview to fans.

The return of H.Y.D.R.A. in The Winter Soldier brought this unlikely association back to my mind momentarily, but there was no subsequent mention. It was to remain exactly that, an unpurposeful coincidence...

...until episode 18. Titled Providence, this episode showed Garrett gathering his H.Y.D.R.A. forces, including putting Raina back in charge of his supersoldier program, Centipede. Only this time, she was armed with the mysterious blue drug that revived Skye, and that resurrected Coulson. These vials of liquid were all numbered differently however, and none "worked quite right."

He reveals the body of a man that he had tested a drug on:

Quite the looker. But where have I seen that beautiful rotten, pustule-covered mug before?

Who does that remind me of, especially when I consider people that are associated with H.Y.D.R.A. Bob?

That's right. Deadpool!

I think they may be gearing up for the revival of Wade Wilson, and the introduction of Deadpool in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's a long shot. I'm aware.

But what do you think, Viners? Is this theory as crazy as Deadpool, or is there a chance we might find the Regeneratin' Degenerate on prime time television?


Neil deGrasse Tyson signed my Action Comics #14!!

I figured this would be the venue to proclaim this, because having a physicist sign a comic book has got to be up there on the list of nerdiest actions, but here it is:

As you may know, Dr. Tyson appeared in this issue as the representative of the astrophysics community, in order to show Superman the death of Krypton, who's light was just then reaching Earth.

It was a great experience, to meet him and hear him talk in person. Plus, this might now be my prized possession :)


Christopher Kent: Last Son, Later On

Many things have changed since the dawn of the New 52. Some have changed for the better and some for the worse. Those are matters of opinion. But for better or for worse, they have changed nonetheless. Oftentimes, I find myself frustrated by those parts of DC stories that have affected the continuity of the past. The soft reboot of the DC Universe meant that they were not starting over, but were adapting and shifting what already existed.

Clark Kent and Lois Lane are no longer married. But in a different timeline, they were, and they loved each other very deeply. Those of us that are familiar with Superman's history (despite a lapse in judgment of the writers of Superman Returns,) know that they are a couple cursed with the knowledge that they are of different worlds, and different species. They love deeply but can never create life out of that love. Yet, despite vastly different physiology and genetic material, for a brief period of time, Superman and Lois Lane had a son.

In Superman: Last Son, a young boy was mysteriously released from the Phantom Zone. As the story would unfold, he was revealed to be the son of General Zod, born and raised in the Zone, and part of a plot for his father's escape. He was, however, just a boy, and succumbed very easily to the love and support of his temporary adoptive family.

The beauty of this story is that we find a Superman that finally has something he has always wanted. He is able to have a family with the love of his life, something that he assumed was impossible. It becomes only more powerful as the young boy he comes to see as his son sacrifices his own liberty and happiness in order to close a door to the Phantom Zone, and save the world from the tyranny and violence of his biological father.

Superman loves...and loses.

Loss seems to be a recurring theme in Superman's life, but the growth that this story shows is of an adult Superman, expressing adult feelings including the desire to settle down, marry and raise a child.

A common complaint of the post-Flashpoint DCU is the compression of the old timeline of stories into five years, the years between the formation of the Justice League and the present. Many people debate the prospect that these characters' entire histories could possibly fit into just five years. I thought today of Christopher Kent, the youngest Kryptonian, and the effect that he had on Superman (a man in his mid-thirties) during his short time on Earth. I considered what Superman felt after the loss of his adoptive son, and concluded that this story could not have happened in the five years since he stepped out of the shadows and alleyways to fight the likes of Brainiac and Darkseid. Ignoring the obvious contradictions such as his marriage, Superman has simply not been ready for this story up to this point in his life, having been changed to a young adult.

It's an odd concept to mix the comic world and ours, but this story cannot have existed, not because it wouldn't fit into the five year history, but because the thematic elements we see don't fit into Superman's life stage. As a young man in his twenties, he would not have felt the longing, bliss and then the total loss present in this story about a "son figure." At best, it is a possible future event in Superman's life. At worst, it is the terrible loss of a beautiful story, about the son that Superman will never have.


Man of Steel: First thoughts on a teaser

When Man of Steel was announced as in production a couple years back, I was...how can I put it...cautiously ecstatic? Naturally, I was excited. This movie is a second chance to see Krypton's last son on the modern big screen. The first opportunity (the more or less unsuccessful and unpopular, Superman Returns) got many things right, but many wrong. That's for another blog. But this film along with Superman's rich 1980s cinematic history has caused a bad taste in the mouths of many fans whenever the words "Superman" and "movie" are used in succession.
That brings us back to Man of Steel.
Here, we have a movie that looks terrific on paper. The film's producer and screenwriters are the men behind the critically and financially successful Dark Knight trilogy; the visual director is Zach Snyder, the man who brought us such visually astounding films as Watchmen and 300 (promising a brand of action that hasn't been seen in a live action Superman movie EVER); and I haven't heard one choice for the all-star cast that I don't love. Have I missed anything? Don't tell me if I have. I don't need higher expectations for this movie.
And now, we have a trailer. It's just a teaser, released a year prior to the movie's premiere, but a teaser is, for all intents and purposes, the beginning of a film's advertising season and an opportunity for the creators to showcase the film's tone. And as simple as this particular teaser is, it’s honestly beautiful. There are two visually identical versions of the trailer, differing in the narration voice-overs. They both begin by showing what I take as scenes from a rural childhood; possibly the earliest memorable moments in a young Kansas man's life. The images then move on to actual images of Clark Kent doing what? Hitchhiking. Working on a deep sea fishing vessel. Regular Superman stuff, right? Not even close. But scenes that made some people smirk and comment, "What, is this an Aquaman trailer?" showed me a man looking for his destiny, a man searching for his place in the world.

These scenes are what tie the two voice-overs together. One showcases lines spoken by Jor-El, Superman's Kryptonian birth father, speaking of the great destiny that his powers make him responsible for. "You will give the people an ideal to strive towards." He uses the word "will" six times in the minute and a half trailer, expressing the expectations that a father has for his son.

The second version of the trailer gives us fatherly advice from a Kansas native, Jonathan Kent, the adoptive father and moral inspiration of the Man of Steel. While he is also aware of the greatness in his son's future, he is also aware that he is releasing a fully autonomous young man into the world. "You're going to have to make a choice." He knows which choice he would decide for Clark, but understands that it is not his place to make it.

So we have a major distinction between these two fathers' words of advice. They pose a dichotomous internal struggle, putting destiny and free will in the ring together to duke it out. It's not a new idea, but it's one that every person contemplates at some point (or many) in their lives. Maybe I'm pulling too much philosophy out of less than two minutes of footage, but my point is that, without mentioning superpowers or a villain with plans of revenge and indecency, the creators of this movie have created conflict – conflict that every living person can identify with.

As each of Superman's fathers concludes his spiel, it becomes clear that, whether by design or by choice, Clark Kent fulfills his fathers’ wishes to become an ideal and a defender: we see a young boy with a red beach towel around his neck standing regally with fists on his hips, emulating his hero, and then a Sun god soaring above creation in a marvelous display of modern computer graphics.

Every bit of news I hear about this film piques my interest a little more. I was excited as the trailer started, and it honestly wasn't anything like I expected. As it ended, I found myself disappointed that The Dark Knight Rises was beginning so soon after because I wanted to talk about what I'd seen so badly. The brass facts of Man of Steel look good on paper, and that inspires hope, but it's another thing entirely when a sample of the product lives up to that hope and becomes more than words.


Superman: Broken Home (video game idea)

I'm considering turning this into a full story. Let me know what you think about the plot, characterization, etc.

Superman: Broken Home

The game would begin with Superman in a Fortress of Solitude simulation, set on Krypton, acting as a navigation and flight tutorial. The simulation is interrupted when the Fortress' computer announces a breach in the Phantom Zone portal. Superman is awakened from the tutorial and must fight his way through the Fortress to the portal control room, acting as a tutorial for the combat system.

He would then return to Metropolis for the rest of the game. The city would be massive and free roam. It would be divided into the usual districts including Hobb's Bay, New Troy, etc. The plot of the game would be largely driven by the public's opinion of Superman, based on the actions you take in the different districts. This would be determined by the frequency of successful missions in that district and the damage done to the city.

Many missions would be time challenges, getting to a rescue as quickly as possible, but it important to note that every action Superman takes has an effect (e.g. flying too fast in the city causes gusts, colliding with a building imparts damage, etc.) After a few rescues, there will be battles with stronger opponents at the end of the races, all of which can either end well or poorly. Every once in a while, there will be a mission that Supes can win, but that have bad consequences regardless of the player's outcome (e.g. a beloved landmark is destroyed, the villain gets away, an innocent dies, etc.) These lead to the eventual and inevitable public dislike of Superman, to the point that Clark cannot appear as Superman in public without being harassed and attacked by citizens and police. This would lead to covert missions in which Clark must stop tragedy without being seen using his powers.

Throughout the game, as either cinematic sequences, or as playable detective segments, Clark, Lois and Jimmy would become suspicious of these many random tragic events and investigate them. They would eventually discover a connection to Lex Luthor and guess that his goal is to architect the renouncement of Superman by the public. Superman confronts Luthor, and Lex activates his power suit and begins a battle. After a long fight, Lex is beat and Superman is about to deliver a final blow (to the suit, mind you. It is Superman after all.) As he winds up, a hand grabs his fist from behind him and actually stops it! He is thrown backwards through a wall and as the dust clears he sees Luthor struggling to his feet behind a smiling General Dru-Zod. Zod reveals that in the Phantom Zone breach at the beginning of the game, instead of attacking Superman directly, he fled the Fortress in the confusion. He sought out Luthor and came up with the plan to destroy Superman's credibility and his image with the people of Earth. "But why not attack me in the first place? Why go through the effort of this and destroy innocent lives?" Superman asks. Zod says that it was not enough to kill Superman. He wanted to destroy the last son of the House of El physically and mentally. Zod wanted to force him through the anguish of being rejected, hated and feared   by the planet and city that he loves, before finally killing him.

Superman rushes at Zod and the final battle ensues. After the battle, both Zod and Superman are badly wounded. Lex comes behind Zod and they smile to each other, knowing that Luthor now has the ability to finish Superman off. Luthor activates a compartment on his suit and reveals a dagger fashioned from Kryptonite. He turns to Zod and, enacting his betrayal, turns the dagger to him, as well. Luthor would never defeat one alien elitist pseudo-savior just to replace him with another one. Before Lex takes Zod's life, Superman, thinking quickly, superheats the dagger using heat vision, causing the crystal to burst and incapacitating Lex. Superman struggles over to Zod and discovers that he was been pierced by Kryptonite shrapnel. He is slowly dying and Superman tells him that the stasis of the Phantom Zone is the only short term solution. They fly as fast as they can to the Fortress and Zod is transported to the Zone, still swearing his revenge on El.


Flying is like breathing.

Who would win in a footrace: Superman or the Flash? 

Look who's in the lead
This has been said to be one of the greatest questions in the comic book world.  Of course we know that it's been answered.  Barry Allen is faster than Superman.  As a result of a freak accident, Allen became the source of power to an energy known as the Speed Force, allowing him and several others the ability to ignore the rules of normal physics and move at speeds even faster than time (wrap your head around that one.)
But what about other super speedsters?  Surely Superman doesn't tap his speed from this mysterious force.  His powers are explained in a much different way: a biology different from human beings.  With an energy source as infinite as the sun itself, Superman's physiology converts electromagnetic radiation into chemical and physical energy in his cells and uses it to power his extraordinary feats.  Put simply, Superman's power RELIES on normal physics instead of defying it.
But then, what is the source of Superman's super speed?  Could the extraordinary force that his muscles provide propel him fast enough to keep up with a man that can ignore atmospheric friction?  Probably not.  That force would give him the ability to, say, leap the tallest building and would definitely give him a bit of a speed boost but it wouldn't give him the ability to run as fast as he's shown to without greatly increasing his stride distance.  In a footrace, Superman would appear to be bounding or even skipping instead of running.
How then does Superman achieve great ground speeds without moving like a kangaroo?  The answer might be simple, at least to a super man.  Flight.  The ability to propel oneself in any direction would definitely benefit a speedster.  
So Superman's been cheating...and still losing?  Well, kind of.  Although it isn't necessarily fair that he uses a force other than his leg muscles in a foot race, he might not be aware of it.  Flight is probably as much a part of running for Superman as breathing is of speaking for you and I.  He's probably never known another way.  Flight might be a small and unconscious part of everything movement that he makes.  Imagine mild mannered Clark Kent eating his morning bowl of Wheaties and defying gravity in order to lift the spoon to his mouth.  
Flight could be a natural part of every day and every movement and likely a considerable portion of Superman's strength.