“Runaways” Confirmed Canon for the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Dr. Strange recently hit theaters and has already raked in a 122.3 million in it’s opening weekend but something even larger looms on the horizon via little-reported easter egg that popped up during the third act. That’s right the seeds for the beloved and critically acclaimed “Runaways”, created by  the legendary Brian K. Vaughan (Lost, Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Pride of Baghdad, Saga, etc), have been sewn. I’ll try to make this as spoiler-free as possible  but there may be minor spoilers for both Runaways (read it if you haven’t) and Dr. Strange.

 

In the third act, during a scene where students at the Hong Kong Sanctum are picking up their artifacts- an asian woman picks up a rather simple looking staff. It’s just a few second shot and she’s one of a bunch of people, but she’s kind of in the center of the shot. She’s a little behind Wong (By the way Benedict Wong, who plays Kuiblai Khan on Marco Polo is one of those untapped treasures) and no attention is paid to her. This object she’s holding is the Staff of One.

 

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The Staff of One is a terribly powerful artifact in the Marvel universe. Basically it’s a staff that can cast any magic, once. Each time the user needs to use a new word or phrase to describe what is desired. They could say “Stop” and their target would stop. They could never say “Stop” again and would have to say “Freeze” (which might, if the staff choses, encase their target in ice). It’s powered by blood, each time it is used a little blood has to be offered (there’s a great scene where Nico of the Runaways uses menstruation…) with greater amounts of it being required for more powerful spells. It kind of lives in the body of the user too and a little blood has to be spilled to call it forth. In the comics it’s wielded (primarily) by Nico Minoru (who occasionally uses the name “Sister Grim”), kind of the leader of the Runaways. It was used by her mom before her.

 

So, how do we know is this THE Staff of One and not just something that looks kind of like it? Well on the IMDB page for Dr. Strange Linda Louise Duan is listed as playing  Tina Minoru, Nico’s mom and the former wielder of the staff! How cool is that?! Add to that the order for a Runaways pilot Hulu just requested in August and we’ve got a very interesting set up!

 

runawaysFor those sitting there going, “Uh- so what?”, you clearly have not read The Runaways. The Runaways was a 2003 comic series from Marvel where a group of 6 kids (mostly teens) from Malibu who were all family friends discover that their parents are actually super villains. Each of their parents kind of fill one of those typical super villain archetypes (the evil wizard, the mad scientist, the crime lord, alien invaders etc). After their kids find out and unlock their own powers- they runaway and try to make things right. The story largely rests on Brian K. Vaughan’s strength as a writer, resulting in an Eisner Award for him for his work on the series (An Eisner is like a comic Emmy. The series actually got it’s second- Jo Chen won one for her work on it in 2009). The cast has strong characters with great arcs, a lot of humor, some gut-wrenching drama, and a lot of fun set ups (time travel, double/triple crosses, life on the street, etc).

 

So- yeah, get pumped! Dr. Strange may be killing it in theaters right now but Marvel has shown that it might be willing to take that plunge with one of its less well known gems! Stay tuned!

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Just-Good-Enough Comics

So I have not reviewed things since the end of November. This is not because I haven’t got submissions- I’ve got plenty. None have jumped out at me as being worthy of review. I get a LOT of submissions (2-3 a week) but recently they’ve all been… good. I don’t mean “holy cow, these are AMAZING!” good- just… good. Like they checked the boxes on the “this is a halfway decent comic” list, but I don’t feel like discussing them would really provide any sort of special insight to my readers. If a comic was truly BAD, I could at least discuss why it’s bad or if it’s something really special I can show it to you all as a hallmark of a GREAT comic… but most have just been “good enough”. So, that’s why I am holding off on reviews at the moment. I think it’s important to speak when it’s important to do so- not just flap your gums.

 

Happy New Years guys!

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Face My Enemy (Continuity Nods)

So I was watching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D tonight and I saw Agent May’s phone’s “Recent Call” list. It had a list of calls and I looked into a few of them and they had some interesting little in jokes/nods to old SHIELD characters! Check it out!

Agents of Shield

  • J. Larner: James Larner is an MI-6 operative. Link
  • Agent 60: Agent 60 is double agent working for shield from way back in the golden age. Link
  • Nat: There are a lot of possibilities here but is possibly “Death Head Scott” (Aka: Nat Scott) who was an old school mad scientist criminal. Link
  • Lt. Stone: This is probably Lt. Marcus Stone from a comic series called “Code: Blue”. Link
  • Burk: No idea on this one.
  • S. Johnson: Couldn’t find anything on this one either. Possibly a reference to a few Marvel comic artist or even to Nick Fury Jr. who goes by the name “Marcus Johnson”.
  • M. Huff: There was a SHIELD agent named “Margaret Huff”. She was Nick Fury’s personal secretary. Link
  • Bell: This could be a joke reference to the series  Executive Producer Jeffrey Bell. Could also be one of a few Marvel characters who have bell in their name like Eva Bell (Tempus)
  • Woo: Jimmy Woo is an agent of SHIELD. Link
  • Lt. Crouch: No idea on this one.

If you guys have any idea on the ones I didn’t know anything about, please comment!

Rant: How to Pitch a Small Indie Comic Reviewer

So let’s talk about something that happens with this site a lot: PR outreach. I’d say ICR gets hits up 3-5 times a week. Mostly it’s by people who have read another review on the site and want me to do a review for them. I am very happy to reply but unfortunately I can’t review every comic that comes my way. The proper way to reach out to reviewer is just to shoot them a quick little email. Something like:

“Hey ScottyG,

I just wanted to hit you up and see if you wanted to review my comic about super-powered crabs called, “Capt. Crabs”. Loved your review on [insert comic] and I’ve read [author’s name]’s work a bunch before.

Thanks!

Author’s Name”

 

Quick, personal (shows that he has at least read the site), informal, and doesn’t spoil anything. A reviewer knows you are looking to get reviewed and that you are probably reaching out to a lot of reviewers. They also know you probably didn’t have time to read every post from every one of those reviewers- but showing a little insight is always appreciated.

The wrong way to go about it is to blast a small personal review site like ICR with a generic PR/marketing blast. Something like:

“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Author WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE teams up with artist LEONARDO DA VINCI on the new title CAPTAIN JUSTICE AMERICAN. The comic focuses on BRUCE KENT and tells his origin as a billionaire farmer until his family was killed by an exploding planet. Now he fights crime as CAPTAIN JUSTICE AMERICAN with his sidekick BILLY THE KID. He tragically must kill his love interest/arch nemesis MISS DASTARDLY LADY who he learned is evil at the end of this FIRST ISSUE!

We will send you a comic and expect it reviewed sometime in the next two weeks. Please include a link to http://www.CAPTAINJUSTICEAMERICAN.com and make sure to review the first three issue we are sending you.

Thank You,

Bill Shakespeare”

 

Or something like…

 

“Hi! I am currently trying to promote a Kickstarter project for this generic superhero comics! What would happen if bunnies had magic powers and could talk in the real world!”

 

Both really don’t lend themselves well to being reviewed. They are impersonal, show no vested interest in the relationship they are establishing, sometimes outright spoil the comic for the reviewer, and place a lot of restrictions on them. Our review schedules are overbooked as it is, don’t give us a reason to discount you. I mean, you have to know your audience. If it’s some mega-syndicated comic/entertainment/game review site- yeah a PR blast works well but on a small indie review blog- personal works best.

 

I mean I even have the line, “Please don’t blast me with generic press releases… it is so impersonal. I’ll just make fun of you.” right above my contact form and I STILL get PR blasts all the time (FB is the worst!).

 

The indie comic community is pretty small one and blasting a bunch of folks with a press release or something super impersonal is a great way to make sure no one reviews your comic. We want to help though and we want to read good indie comics! This is the part of the sector where the magic happens! So just approach reviews right and we’ll be your best friends in the industry as you launch your comic.

 

Sorry for the rant folks. A lot of review requests come in and are really impersonal and demanding. It is just not the right way to go.