A forever in-work compendium of Marvel and DC canon immigrants. What's a canon immigrant? Go here to find out!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Appearance Spotlight: Valkyrie

In April (2018), Marvel will be releasing a new volume of Exiles, a series about a group of people from various alternate realities teaming up to save the multiverse. When they first announced the new series last week, their image showed Iron Lad, Khan, Blink, and Wolvie, but it had a mystery character blacked out. On Monday, they revealed who the mystery character was: Valkyrie!

But a very different Valkyrie than readers are used to. See, normally Valkyrie is white girl with two long, blonde braids and armor that is similar to Thor's.

The Exiles Valkyrie isn't based on that version, though. Instead, she's based on the version seen in Thor: Ragnarok (2017). She has the same skin color, armor design, and eye markings. Also, it's hard to tell in this picture, but she has a blue cape that matches the Exiles character as well.

As far as I can tell from interviews, this Valkyrie is meant to be the MCU Valkyrie, or at least as close to it as possible. It's common for Marvel alternate universes to have several other universes that are practically indistinguishable from them, for the purposes of having drastic things happen to familiar universes while keeping the "main" one the same. This - as far as I know, at least - is the first time the MCU has received one of those adjacent universes.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Item Spotlight: Infinity Stones

These are the Infinity Gems. They have a long history in Marvel Comics, beginning in Marvel Premiere #1 (February 1972), when the Soul Gem first appeared. The rest of them appeared during The Power of Warlock (1972) and were originally called Soul Gems as a group. In The Thanos Quest (1990), Thanos changes the name to Infinity Gems since only one of them controls the soul.

In the MCU, Infinity Stones (note they're not called gems) first confirmed to exist in Thor: The Dark World (2013). However, that's not the first time one appeared.

The Tesseract (aka the Cosmic Cube in the comics) was first mentioned in Iron Man 2 (2010), first appeared in the post-credits scene of Thor (2011), played a major role in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), and then was first confirmed as an Infinity Stone in Thor: The Dark World (2013). At some point, probably in an interview, the Tesseract was confirmed to be the Space Stone.

The Aether first appeared in Thor: The Dark World (2013). At some point, it was revealed to be the Reality Stone.

The Orb first appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). It was confirmed to be the Power Stone.

The Mind Stone first appeared (sort of) as the Scepter in The Avengers (2012). The Mind Stone itself was first alluded to in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), and then first appeared in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). As the gem that powers the Vision, it was combined with the Sunstone from the comics.

The Time Stone was first alluded to in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), then first appeared as the center of the Eye of Agamotto in Doctor Strange (2016).

The Soul Stone (which is orange) has not appeared yet.

As you may have noticed, the colors of the Infinity Stones do not match the colors of the Infinity Gems. Keep that in mind below.

In the Marvel Universe, the universe was rewritten following Secret Wars. In practice, this doesn't mean much. No previous Marvel stories have been erased from existence. But it does allow them to change a few things going forward, and one of those changes is that Infinity Gems are now Infinity Stones. Other properties have changed as well.

They started reappearing in Marvel Legacy #1 (September 2017) with this blue stone.

The next one to appear was this giant purple stone in Guardians of the Galaxy #147 (November 2017). The writer says it's so big because of how much energy it has, but that it can be compressed.

Captain Marvel #126 (November 2017) debuted the next stone, a red one that was found in another reality.

The most recent one was also the first to be specifically named: the Time Stone. As you can see, it is now green. It showed up in Thanos #13 (December 2017). Interestingly, only a piece of it has been found so far, and it was found in the future.

Based on that information, I think it's safe to assume that the purple stone is the Power Stone, the red stone is the Reality Stone, and the blue stone is the Space Stone, which matches the MCU. I'll update this entry as the other Infinity Stones are revealed.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Ray’s Sexuality

The Ray has a long history in comics, and has gone through a lot of changes throughout the years.

The first Ray was "Happy" Terrill, who was published by Quality Comics. Quality was bought by DC Comics in 1956, and in 1973, the Ray was grouped with other Quality characters as the Freedom Fighters, superheroes from Earth-X, a world where World War II never ended. Following Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985), the Freedom Fighters were established on the new Earth as active during WWII.

In 1992, DC introduced a new Ray, Ray Terrill, who was the son of the original Ray. He went on to join the Justice League, and has also been on teams such as Young Justice and a new incarnation of the Freedom Fighters.

Following Infinite Crisis in 2005, DC introduced a new Freedom Fighters and a new Ray named Stan Silver. He's not very important. Another new Ray, Lucien Gates, was introduced in The New 52, but he's not very important either.

A couple years ago, Grant Morrison redesigned the DC multiverse in a series called Multiversity (2014). He brought Earth-X back, but made a few changes; in addition to the world being called Earth-10 and now having a Justice League, albeit one that works for the Nazis, the Freedom Fighters were made up of people targeted by the Nazis. With that in mind, the Ray was now homosexual. It's not clear which Ray this is, but he's dressed like the original Ray.

In August 2016, DC announced it would be making an animated series called Freedom Fighters: The Ray, set on Earth-X and part of the multiverse that the other DC CW shows (Arrow, Supergirl, et al.) belong to. They also noted that this Ray would be Ray Terrill and the art they released with the announcement showed him wearing a version of Ray's classic outfit.

Surprisingly, Freedom Fighters: The Ray didn't debut until over a year later - December 8, 2017. This version of The Ray actually made his first appearance in the Arrowverse crossover "Crisis on Earth-X" the week before (November 27-28, 2017). That's why I noted when the show was announced, because in January 2017, DC released Justice League of America: The Ray - Rebirth #1, which introduced Ray Terrill to the new Reborn DC Universe - a Ray Terrill that happens to be gay.

Now, you may be thinking this could just be coincidence. Maybe the show and the book independently decided to base their Rays on the Multiversity one. That's possible...except check out which characters got Justice League of America spotlights:

The Atom is on Legends of Tomorrow (and that suit is based on his appearance in the show). Killer Frost is on The Flash. Vixen is on Legends of Tomorrow and Vixen (and that suit is based on her appearance in the show). And The Ray is on Freedom Fighters: The Ray. All CW shows, all part of the Arrowverse. I don't think that's a coincidence.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Appearance Spotlight Addendum: Nick Fury

Way back in 2012, I posted about Phil Coulson making his way into the comics and noted that he was bringing along a black Nick Fury as well.

The way they did that was pretty convoluted, involving a son of Nick Fury named Marcus Johnson who ends up losing an eye and changing his name to Nick Fury, and oh yeah, he also happens to be black.

Well, it turns out Mighty Avengers #13 (May 2008) managed to do it in a much simpler - albeit admittedly less long-lasting - way a couple years earlier: it was a disguise.

Given the time frame, it's possible that this was a reference to the Ultimate line of comics, which is where the black and bald Fury originated. Or it could've been a tie-in of sorts to Iron Man, which was released the same month. Either way it counts, as I've included cross-reality immigrants before (here, here, and here).

In case you don't know, here's what Nick Fury usually looks like in Marvel Comics:

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Character(s) Spotlight: Coldmoon and Dragonfire

In November 2011, Marvel released Point One #1, a comic that touted "The Future Begins Here!" It set up stories across the Marvel Universe, including major ones like Original Sin, Avengers VS X-Men, and Age of Ultron, but right there in the middle was the first appearance of two brand new characters: Coldmoon and Dragonfire, two yin yang-themed Chinese teenagers with fire and ice powers.

These characters were never seen again. According to Fred Van Lente in his Reddit AMA, they were created for the Marvel Heroes video game, by Gazillion Entertainment, to help the game appeal to the Chinese market and included in Point One to help promote that. Normally this is where I'd show you the video game versions of them as proof, but they never appeared in the game. This issue is literally the only time Coldmoon and Dragonfire appeared anywhere.

It's a shame; with such a high profile introduction, you'd think someone would've seized the opportunity to use them somewhere. Oh well. For all we know, someone will dust them off twenty years from now and they'll be the surprise character find of 2040. Worked for Squirrel Girl!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Appearance Spotlight: Hydra Logo

Hydra has been around in comics for a long time. In fact, their first appearance was in Strange Tales #135, all the way back in June 1965. And in that time, their organization's logo has pretty much been the same. Here are some examples:

The comics were still using this version of the logo in January 2011 when they published Captain America: Hail Hydra #1, and continued through all five issues of that miniseries:

When Hydra appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger (July 2011), they kept the symbol mostly the same, but they did make a few changes. The most noticeable is that it's red, both to tie in to the Red Skull - who leads it in this version - and to make the color scheme closer to the Nazi Party. The other change is that they made the negative space inside the tentacles resemble gears because this version of Hydra started as the Nazi science division. (There is an interview that confirms this but I can no longer find it. If anyone has a source for this information, please let me know.)

I don't have a definite date for its first appearance (although the earliest date I can find is 2013), but this symbol has become the standard in comics. Here are some examples of that:

As you can see, while all of the pre-2011 examples are green and yellow, the post-2011 examples have started using the red from the movie as well, in some cases.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

James Rhodes as Iron Patriot

I don't know how I feel about including this one. It's common for comics to make changes around the time of a movie or tv show to make themselves more recognizable to people who decide to buy the comics because they like the movie/show. Sometimes this produces canon immigrants, such as new characters or costumes. Sometimes it doesn't, such as Spider-Man getting his black suit back in time for Spider-Man 3. But sometimes it produces a weird middle ground where none of the specific elements are new but the combination is. This one is an example of that. And generally I try to avoid these, but to be honest, I have a streak going and I want it to continue. So here we go.

Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes took over as Iron Man following the death of Tony Stark, using a militarized version of the Iron Man armor, in Iron Man #284 (July 1992). The armor debuted three issues before. When Tony came back and took over as Iron Man again, Rhodey kept the suit and started going by War Machine in Avengers West Coast #94 (March 1993).

The Iron Patriot armor debuted in Dark Avengers #1 (January 2009), worn by Norman Osborn. It was purposefully designed by him to evoke both Iron Man and Captain America, I guess to give his team some legitimacy.

A few years later, Iron Patriot debuted in Iron Man 3 (2013) as Rhodey's new code name. The official reason was that the name "War Machine" didn't test well and they wanted something more positive in the wake of the Chitauri invasion.

So in Secret Avengers #6 (July 2013), only a couple months after Iron Man 3,  Rhodey takes over as the new Iron Patriot and also controls some Iron Patriot drones.

Rhodey is no longer Iron Patriot, but he kept the role for about a year and a half. That longevity, definitely more than one story arc, is pretty much the only reason I'm comfortable at all posting this.