Tuesday, June 24, 2014

11 Worst Things About X-Men: Days of Future Past


Well, the critics seem to love X-Men: Days of Future Past. Even the most critical of critics I know are praising this film for returning the dignity to the X-Men films. I gotta say, I don't see it. But then, I didn't think that the original films had much dignity to begin with. I'll get into that later...

For now, I'd like to share my personal top eleven worst things about X-Men: Days of Future Past.

Why eleven? Because there were eleven things that bothered me. What, do you think these numbers are arbitrary?

[NOTE: This is, of course, a review of the film and not the comic book story it is loosely based on. There will be plenty of spoilers.]

11. The B-Team and The B-Plot


In the opening of the movie, we see the X-Men battle a group of the future Sentinels (which seem to be based on Nimrod, but they don't call them that). There are three X-Men we recognize from previous films (Kitty, Colossus, and Iceman) and four we don't (Bishop, Blink, Sunspot, and Warpath). As the Sentinels attack, we watch the X-Men fight in unison and it looks pretty good, but eventually, they are overwhelmed and killed... but it doesn't matter because they have a temporal reset button.

Unfortunately, since this is the opening of a time travel movie and set in the far future, we already know that there are no consequences to these actions, so there is no tension. Furthermore, by using so many B-characters that have not been established in this universe, we have little reason to care when they die. In the original comic, it showed the death and desperation of characters we cared about.

The new X-Men lack any distinct personality traits and are used only as props. While Blink provides a visually interesting power which (admittedly) is very well-executed (though derivative to anyone who played Portal), her face paint makes her look like a cosplayer. Bishop's inclusion makes sense (given that he is actually from the future), but why was Sunspot included if they aren't even going to use his powers correctly?

The comic book Sunspot has super-strength. He is called "Sunspot" because his powers are fueled by solar energy. If they wanted someone who shoots fire, why not use the far more recognizable Sunfire? And Warpath is a character with no obvious powers who fights with a knife. With literally hundreds of characters to choose from, I can't image why they went with him.

10. Presidential Embarrassment


When writing historical fiction, it can be tricky to weave your story into actual history. Unless you're Quentin Tarantino, you have to try to maintain some discretion so that you don't make real history collide awkwardly with fantasy thereby creating a noticeable distraction. This film does just that in two major ways.

First, it tells us that Magneto was imprisoned for involvement in the Kennedy assassination. Xavier thinks he killed JFK, but Magneto claims that he saved him, replying that he was "one of us." The idea that a real historical figure is actually a mutant is stupid enough, but especially when applied to a figure as iconic and respected as Kennedy. It would be another thing if it were Houdini or Amelia Earhart or someone with an air of mystery about them, but the only mystery around Kennedy is his death... and that's not exactly something you can play with in a fun way.


Second, the film has a major role for President Richard Nixon who approves the Sentinel and is taken hostage at the end. Nixon is just as iconic as Kennedy (although not nearly as popular) and he has a very distinct appearance/voice that is difficult to accurately replicate. Its hard to take these scenes seriously when you don't see the president, but an actor playing the president.

9. Dwarfism is oddly unremarkable in the 1970s


While I'm happy for Peter Dinklage that he can get a role that has nothing to do with his size, am I the only one who found his casting to be a distraction?

As Bolivar Trask, he is dedicated to the extinction of mutants, but dwarfism itself is a mutation. I might be able to overlook this if the film gave him any motivation to fear this specific type of mutation, but aside from an anecdote about homo sapiens wiping out homo neanderthal, he has none. It is simply the same generalized bigotry we've seen in all of these films. If Trask had a tragic history, perhaps involving Magneto or Mystique, it would have been a lot more believable.

But the real distraction for me was how his dwarfism was never mentioned or even subtly acknowledged. In comparison, I was recently watching Injustice For All, a documentary featuring economist Robert Reich. Just under five foot tall, Reich doesn't have dwarfism, but his size is clearly an issue. He carries a box with him to podiums, he makes jokes about his height, and people are, perhaps, a little nicer to him than they would be to others.

Yet in this film, set forty years in the past, during the height of women's liberation and civil rights movements, there is absolutely no reaction from the white conservative patriarchy to a genius arms dealer who is less than four and a half feet tall? Is anyone going to mention the elephant in the room? I'm not saying it needs to effect the whole film, but just small touches like a look or an amused smirk when he enters the room would acknowledge that he faced some adversity. You could have him notice the exchange and make a point of embarrassing the individual... kind of like he does on Game of Thrones all the time.

8. Speedy Maximoff




I'd like to say I don't get Quicksilver's appeal, but I do. He's an off-the-wall character whose powers allow the filmmakers to do interesting things with timing and camera speed. In fact, the film could probably use more characters like him. Between his slo-mo kitchen fight scene and Blink's portals, we get to see the action play out in a much more visually interesting way than previous X-Men films.


However, he's also one of those characters who is very poorly thought out. His powers are shown constantly and the effect is like using a laser pointer with a cat. When we first see him, he's playing a game of ping-pong with himself. Its a neat little gimmick, but later, he is playing the arcade game Pong and listening to his music on what I presume is a portable 8-track player.

The problem here is that technology (and particularly 1970s technology) does not work at an accelerated pace. We see his Pong arcade game moving faster than our eyes can track and, in the popular kitchen scene, we hear his music at a normal tempo while bullets are flying at a snail's pace. This means that, in order for the sound to be consistent with visuals, his music would have to be playing at roughly 10,000 times the normal speed.

The film's interpretation of the character is like a modern day ADHD child who can't pay attention to one thing for very long. This is a very shallow look at the character and does not reflect his own personal reality. It is a voyeuristic look at his power, not a careful examination of character. This Quicksilver is like Bart Simpson with superspeed. He is a troublemaker who does whatever he wants because he has no impulse control, so he's constantly doing things and getting bored with them. Even this isn't fully thought out as he seems entirely satisfied with this lifestyle.

The comic character is more of an angry cynic known for aggressively confronting both friends and enemies. Peter David famously explained this behavior in an issue of X-Factor by comparing his reality to being stuck behind someone who doesn't know how to use the ATM when you are in a hurry. This helps us to understand that his agitation is based in impatience thereby turning an annoying trait into a sympathetic one.

In the film, Quicksilver briefly mentions that his mother "knew a guy" who had magnetic powers, alluding to the fact that Magneto is his father, but the opportunity to have that mean something is entirely wasted. Their relationship is completely irrelevant to the film, even though he is only there to rescue Magneto. After he performs that task, he is written out of the film, even though he proved himself incredibly useful and has no reason not to join our heroes.

We only see him once more with his twin sister, Wanda, in a brief cameo, but in this universe, she is apparently ten years younger. A strangely arbitrary change.

7. Futurism of Days Past


While X-Men: First Class adhered fairly closely to the technology of their era (Cerebro aside), Days of Future Past seems to have given up on that entirely. The Sentinels just don't make sense in the 1970s and their design looks incredibly out of place. In a time when your most basic computer was the size of a room, can we really forgo logic enough to design humanoid robots with heavy artillery, flight capability, and mutant detection without an ounce of metal?


I understand that it is a comic book movie and you can take some leaps with technology, but when you are telling a story set in the past, you have greater limitations. Compare this to Captain America: The Winter Soldier when they reveal Arnim Zola's consciousness uploaded to dozens of old tape-and-reel computers. Although clearly beyond the capabilities of the time, there is an attempt made to show them using the tools available to them. These Sentinel designs would look great in a modern era X-Men film, but they seem too clean and polished during the heyday of the Chevy Cadillac.

Worst of all, we never really get any good scenes with them. When they are finally revealed at the end, they just seem to provide crowd control as the X-Men face Magneto. Wolverine briefly fights one, but they end up being about as capable and threatening as Stormtroopers.

6. Doesn't connect with The Wolverine



Looking more like Droopy the Dog every year...
Despite the fact that Bryan Singer directed the stinger sequence in The Wolverine, it does not fit with the follow up film which he also directed.

The Wolverine is set in the present day (or the "not too distant future" if you go by the caption in X-Men). As Logan walks through the airport, we see Trask Industries advertizing on the monitors implying that the Sentinel program is just beginning. Yet Days of Future Past features the Sentinel program beginning forty years ago. You might say that Trask Industries has been around all this time, but if so, why weren't they relevant until this moment? Is something about to happen? If so, we never get an explanation

Also, in the previous film, Wolverine's claws are made of bone, not metal, because his metal claws were cut off in the climax of the film. In Days of Future Past, we see a future Wolverine with metal claws. So what happened to give him his metal claws back? Did he go back to Weapon X? Did Magneto do it? You can make something up to explain what happened in the intervening years, but why should you have to when its obviously just laziness? Seeing as Wolverine doesn't even use his claws in the future (except when he accidentally cuts Kitty), there is literally no reason for this arbitrary change. It can't be to "fix" the character, because the resolution of the movie essentially reboots continuity anyway.
I need you, Logan. I'm not the box office draw that you are.

Also, in the end of The Wolverine, we see Logan accompanied by Yukio, who in these films possesses precognition. They leave together suggesting that their adventures are only beginning, yet she isn't even mentioned in Days of Future Past. Since Yukio was not a mutant in the comics, I had assumed that her new abilities in The Wolverine would be used as part of the plot in Days of Future Past. Perhaps Xavier would project Wolverine's consciousness through Yukio's mind which, existing outside of linear time, could send it into the past. Obviously, I was reading too much into it.

So why did Xavier and Magneto to put aside their differences at just this moment, and why did they need Wolverine? The new film does not answer this question because it isn't until years later that the Sentinels destroy the world and they formulate a plan requiring Wolverine. We even see the plan being formed at the beginning of the Days of Future Past, so the stinger scene in The Wolverine had absolutely nothing to do with this film.

5. X-Men: The Missing Film?


About half way into the movie, I started wondering if I somehow missed a film somewhere in this franchise.

Mystique and friends
At the end of X-Men: First Class, Xavier is paralyzed, but rather optimistically looking forward to teaching his X-Men. In Future Past, he is a broken, depressed man who has lost all hope in humanity because most of his students were killed. In First Class, Magneto had just defeated the Hellfire Club and turned it into the Brotherhood of Mutants. He was rallying his troops to fight. In Future Past, he is in prison for attempted assassination, half the Brotherhood is dead, and Mystique has come to hate him for some reason that's never fully explained.

When added to the inconsistency in The Wolverine stinger, it honestly feels like there was a whole other movie that they never made. Maybe the movie was written much longer and they cut out the first half, but honestly, it just feels like a cheap way to dismiss all of the films Bryan Singer didn't make.

4. Days of Matrix/Inception


On a completely aesthetic note, I found the future depicted in Days of Future Past to be boring and derivative. Like the first X-Men film, the influence of The Matrix is shocking blatant. The drop ships house dozens of Sentinels that look like "squiddies" when in flight. The sky appears to have been permanently blotted out by a thick cloud. We get some brief looks at concentration camps, but most of the action takes place in a secluded Buddhist temple that looks like the cheap set it is. It actually plays out a lot like the end of The Matrix when our hero is another space-time while the others must simply wait and protect him against the inevitable robotic onslaught.


In short, we don't really see the future, much less feel what its like. We are simply given exposition that informs us that this is their last stand. It would be much more interesting if they traveled through the war torn environment and through one of the concentration camps. We could see the characters reacting to the plight of others, particularly Magneto who spent his childhood in such a camp, and then, we see their plan go into effect more like a heist than a mutant Alamo.

With the projected consciousness, juxtaposition of relative time, and the hopeless slaughter of our heroes, it really feels like a rip off of the endings to The Matrix and Inception, two of the most popular sci-fi movies of the past two decades.

3. Professor X's magic walking serum



Much of this movie's plot hinges around this cheap plot device used to impede our heroes. Xavier now takes an injection which has two very convenient effects: it enables him to walk (despite having a shattered spine) and it inhibits his telepathic abilities. This allows them to shoot the character without his wheelchair, but also keeps him from having a really easy way to resolve the story.

Again, this is the kind of convenient science that breaks my suspension of disbelief. I know Hank is a genius, but he just happened to develop a drug that can restore someone's ability to walk and inhibits telepathic abilities. This is just way too convenient for the crippled telepath who wants to be rid of his telepathy.

And why does he want to be rid of his telepathy? Well, he's just sick of hearing other people's thoughts. It's too hard. There is no real precedent for this behavior in the character as we know him, but we have to believe it based on events that happened between movies that is provided in exposition (refer back to #5).

2. Kitty Pryde's unexplained power


Kitty Pryde possess the mutant ability to move through solid objects. Its called phasing. She can also phase other objects, if she is in physical contact with them. This is established in all three of the original movies and is completely consistent with the comic book character. In Days of Future Past, not only does she have that ability, but she can project someone's consciousness back in time.

It is never explained how she has this ability. She has never had this ability in the comics. There are many characters with psychic or time travel powers that would make more sense, or they could have come up with an original character. Yet, for reasons I cannot fathom, this very critical element to the plot is completely and totally unaddressed.

This is the equivalent of Superman turning back time by spinning around the world. Even at its most basic, her power has absolutely no applications that might remotely connect to projecting consciousness through time.

1. Magneto reprograms Sentinels


Near the end of the film, we see Magneto fly behind a truck carrying Sentinels. We've been told that the Sentinels are entirely made of plastic, and therefore immune to his powers. Magneto pulls a few feet of railroad from the track, strips it for wire, then proceeds to intertwine this wire into the Sentinels thereby demonstrating that they are under Magneto's control.


Now, these films have shown Magneto doing a lot of stupid things with his powers, like lifting the Golden Gate Bridge to use as a method of transporting a small group of people... or slowly pushing a bullet into a guy that doesn't have the sense (or laws of motion) to get out of the way. But we are supposed to believe that he can reprogram advanced robots by just looking at them and weaving metal into their parts?

Is it supposed to be like a puppet, where Magneto is actually exerting his force over their own? If so, they don't move or act with the sort of stilted hesitation you would expect. It seems more like Magneto somehow actually rewrote their software to follow his commands. And he did that with wire? Just by looking at them? He doesn't need to know programming or a keyboard to input new commands. He just sticks his hands up their asses and they perform for him.

Its almost as bad as when he designed a machine to turn humans into mutants, but it can only run on his own power and it would kill him. Just because its a comic movie is no reason to be blatantly stupid.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Marvel Universe - Part 2: Cosmic Beings

Continuing from Part 1: Alien Races, this is the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Marvel Universe.

Here are just the most relevant and important members of Marvel's cosmology. While there have been many "all powerful beings" in Marvel's history, these are the ones who have been around longest and continue to make an impact in the Marvel universe. Created mostly by Jack Kirby and Jim Starlin, they re-envisioned a pantheon of gods for the scientific age.



PART 2: COSMIC BEINGS


Celestials


The Celestials are arguably the most influential cosmic beings in the universe. They do not communicate in any manner that lesser beings are capable of understanding (i.e. auditory, visual, telepathic, mystic, etc.) so their motives have never been entirely clear. However, their actions have shown them to a species dedicated to the forced evolution of life forms on multiple worlds, including the Earth and the Skrull homeworld. It is theorized that the predominance of superhuman variety and the evolution of the mutant race is due their prehistoric experiments on early hominids.

The initial appearance of the Celestials on Earth is known as the First Host, which occurred roughly one million years ago. This resulted in the creation of two sub-species: the Eternals and the Deviants. The Second Host occurred around 18,000 BC when they returned to judge their creations. Displeased with the barbarous nature of the Deviants, the Celestials sank their island kingdom known as Lemuria and, incidentally, the unrelated nation of Atlantis in an event that would be known as the Great Cataclysm. The Third Host occurred in the 10th century when the Celestials were confronted by the the Council of Godheads, represented the various pantheons of gods that had adopted the Earth since the Celestials' last visit (i.e. Norse, Greek, etc.). Yet even their combined power could not defeat the Celestials and they swore a pact of non-interference. Finally, the Fourth Host arrived only a few years ago to judge the Earth and decide whether or not to spare their creations. Convinced by Thor, the gods decided to break their pact by defeningd the Earth, but still, they failed. The judgement of the Celestials may transform a planet into a paradise or destroy it entirely. The Earth was spared only due to an offering from the Earth spirit, Gaea [see below].

In the potential future of Marvel's Earth X, it is revealed that the Earth was impregnated with a gestating Celestial and the superhumans were created as anti-bodies to defend it. This means that the role of Galactus is to destroy planets to prevent the birth of more Celestials. In Abnett & Lanning's Guardians of the Galaxy, the team finds their headquarters in the severed head of a Celestial, which possesses the ability to teleport to any location in the universe.

Notable Celestials: Arishem the Judge, Ashema the Listener, Exitar the Executioner, Gammenon the Gatherer
First Appearance: Eternals #2 (Aug. 1976)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/2

Galactus


The devourer of worlds, Galactus possesses the nearly unparalleled "power cosmic," which can do nearly anything imaginable, along with an equally powerful hunger, satiated only by devouring living worlds. Although he can change size at will, he is usually depicted somewhere between the size of a skyscraper and Manhattan Island itself.


Galactus only exercises his powers when necessary and has come to rely on heralds to seek out suitable planets to devour. Galactus was repelled from devouring Earth due to the betrayal of his herald, the Silver Surfer, and the interference of the Watcher known as Uatu [see below]. Since then, Galactus has devoured many other worlds including the Skrull Throneworld, sending their galactic empire into chaos.
Galactus was originally a humanoid scientist known as Galan. He was the last survivor of the previous universe. When engulfed by the Big Crunch, he was transformed and, after billions of years in gestation, he emerged as Galactus, devourer of worlds.

Notable Heralds: Silver Surfer, Firelord, Terrax the Tamer, Nova (Frankie Raye), Stardust
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #49 (March 1966)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/5


The Watchers


The Watchers are one of the oldest races in the universe, possessing unimaginable wisdom and power, yet they are pledged not to interfere in the development of other worlds. Instead, the Watchers observe, study, and record the development of other worlds. They often appear at times of great import.

The most well-known Watcher to Earth is Uatu who maintains a hidden base in the Blue Area of the Moon. He has violated his oath in subtle yet profound ways to ensure its continued survival. Uatu has been banished from his kind for his behavior, but he has been forgiven as well. Recently, Uatu was found murdered with his eyes removed. As of this entry, the investigation is in progress.

Notable Watchers: Uatu, Aron
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #14 (April 1963)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/3


Eternity


This entity is the very embodiment of the universe itself in corporeal form. He claims to serve the "One-Above-All," suggested to be the one truly omnipotent God in the multiverse.

It is said that Eternity has a twin sister named Infinity. Both representing aspects of "necessity," Eternity represents time while Infinity represents space, however Infinity has been excluded from this entry as she has not nearly been so prominent in major events.

First Appearance of Eternity: Strange Tales #138 (Nov. 1965)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/10

Death


The embodiment of Death is typically depicted as a beautiful, yet somber woman dressed in a dark hooded robe. Yet at times, she appears only as a skeleton. She says little to nothing, conveying no joy in her actions nor motivation beyond her given purpose. She has long been courted by the Mad Titan, Thanos, who seeks her favor. To date, he has been denied his request, despite his generous tributes.

Like Eternity, Death is said to have a twin named Oblivion, representing entropy and the void. Yet like Infinity, Oblivion has not had the exposure of his counterpart. Together with Galactus, these five are said to represent the entire struggle of existence.

First Appearance of Death: Captain Marvel #27 (July 1973)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/2



The Living Tribunal


The Living Tribunal is a multidimensional entity whose job it is to oversee and maintain the balance of realities. Although its difficult to grade cosmic beings in terms of scale (since they are all beyond human comprehension), the Living Tribunal is considered to be the second most powerful being in existence (presumably second to Eternity).

First Appearance: Strange Tales #157 (June 1967)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/10

Master Order & Lord Chaos



Fairly self-explanatory, these two cosmic entities represent the forces of order and chaos themselves. These opposing yet complimentary aspects are manipulators of lesser beings for reasons they are incapable of understanding. In the past, they have manipulated the heroes of Earth into battling both Thanos and the In-Betweener [see below].

First Appearance of Master Order & Lord Chaos: Marvel Two-In-One Annual #2 (1977)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/15

In-Betweener


As depicted by his form, the In-Betweener is an agent of balance and duality whose relationship with Master Order and Lord Chaos is one of both service and opposition. Like them, he seems to be part of a cosmic mechanism that we cannot comprehend...

First Appearance of the In-Betweener: Warlock #10 (Dec. 1975)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/20

Eon


Born eight billion years ago of Eternity and Infinity, Eon was charged with protecting the Celestial Axis, the pattern of life energy threading through the universe. It views our reality from another dimension it refers to as "the Mists of Time." Eon can project its power through a champion granting cosmic awareness and quantum bands which possess incredible abilities.

Notable Champions of Eon: Captain Mar-Vell, Quasar
First Appearance of Eon: Captain Marvel #28 (Sept. 1973)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/15



Ego, the Living Planet


When the planet Ego was formed, the coalescing matter was infused with a conscious bacteria (referred to as Super-Ego) which imbued the planet with sentience. Possessing nearly unparalleled psionic abilities, Ego has constructed a body out of the planet with organs the size of continents. While he has formed both a male face and gender, he speaks telepathically and can travel at interstellar speeds. However, Ego is mentally unstable and often threatens inhabited worlds for irrational reasons.

First Appearance: Thor #132 (Sept. 1966)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/10

Gaea


Unique from the other gods of Earth, Gaea is an "Elder God" and a manifestation of the spirit of the Earth itself. Created by the potential of life on Earth with her siblings, Set, Oshtur, and Chthon, Gaea was the only one to maintain her sanity and compassion while the others transformed into the Earth's first demons.

By mating with their creator, the Demiurge, Gaea gave birth to Atum, the Sun God, who destroyed the other gods except for Chthon and Set who escaped to other dimensions. Gaea then released her power into the Earth as a gift to all living things, however she has still been known to manifest her corporeal form, most notably when she mated with Odin to give birth to Thor.

First Appearance of Gaea: Doctor Strange #6 (Feb. 1975)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/30

The Stranger


Perhaps the oddest name on this odd list, the Stranger is an all-powerful alien being with a very silly mustache. He considers himself a scientist with an interest in genetic anomalies, which led him to kidnapping both Magneto and the Abomination. However, it has never been clear what his motivations and origin are. He seems to be studying for idle curiosity, yet his powers have placed him in the company of the other great cosmic beings.

The Stranger has a planet upon which he contains his test animals and performs his experiments. It is simply known as Lab-World.

First Appearance of the Stranger: X-Men #11 (May 1965)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/15

Phoenix Force


Born in the formation of the universe, the Phoenix represents life itself. It is immortal and uncaring, capable of nurturing life or suffocating it. It is a figure of worship in the Shi'ar pantheon, fabled protector of the M'Kraan Crystal (called "the Nexus of All Realities").

The Phoenix has been known to possess a human host, usually an individual gifted with significant telepathic abilities. An individual possessed by the Phoenix will have their natural abilities augmented by the nearly limitless power of the Phoenix. However, it is too powerful to be contained by a mortal host. In all cases, madness and death have been the end result for wielders of the Phoenix force.

Notable Phoenix Hosts: Jean Grey, Rachel Summers, Emma Frost, Cyclops, Colossus, Magik, Stepford Cuckoos, Hope Summers
First Appearance: The X-Men #100 (Aug. 1976)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/30


Captain Universe


The Uni-Power is an extra-dimensional cosmic energy which emanates from the Enigma Force, so named because its source it unknown. This power is often temporarily bestowed upon a single individual, transforming them into Captain Universe. The most recent host, Tamara Devoux, was identified as the embodiment of the universe itself and the guardian of Eternity.

Notable Captain Universes: Ray Coffin, Spider-Man, Juggernaut. Tamara Devoux
First Appearance: Micronauts #8 (Aug. 1978)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/15




The Elders of the Universe


As the name suggests. the Elders of the Universe are some of the oldest beings in the universe, each the last of their own race. They have discovered the secret of immortality and formed a coalition, yet they only find purpose in obsessive hobbies that have subsumed their own sense of identity. Each of the Elders has amassed incredible power by various means enabling them to be classified as cosmic beings.

Notable Elders of the Universe: Collector, Grandmaster, Architect, Caregiver, Astronomer, Contemplator, Explorer, Fallen One, Gardener, Judicator, Possessor, Obliterator, Runner, Trader
First Appearance: Avengers #28 (May 1966)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: Confirmed (Collector)


Coming Soon...


Part 3: Terrestrial Races

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Best of Original Internet Programming

Who needs television any more? It is way too expensive and the commercials are insufferable, even if you can skip past them. There is a lot of great original programming available for free online! These are all videos made either by private individuals for the sheer pleasure of doing it or are part of a small group of like minded nerds. 

FILM


Escape to the Movies & The Big Picture


Over at The Escapist, MovieBob has two different video segments done with his signature fast-paced delivery and barely repressed Boston accent. Although I have at times angrily disagreed with him (a caveat I could [but won't] put on every reviewer here), overall I think he is extremely insightful and clever.



Escape to the Movies is his weekly movie review show (spoiler sensitive) while The Big Picture features a broad variety of pop culture topics framed in a larger context.



Movie Defense Force


Contrary to the goals of most reviewers in this category, the Movie Defense Force does exactly what their name suggests. When a film is given a bad reputation, they step up to defend them. In some cases, this can be appalling (i.e. Batman & Robin and The Phantom Menace), but in other cases, like the one below, they clearly stand on the side of cinematic history... if not box office receipts.


 

Mr. Plinkett Reviews


While I hate to pick a favorite, there is only one that I can watch over and over, laughing my ass off the entire time. "Mr. Plinkett" is the fictional alter ego of Red Letter Media's Mike Stoklasa. He is a fat, old, disgusting, sociopath who just happens to watch a lot of movies and has surprisingly insightful things to say, although he occasionally lapses into bouts of insanity, rage, misogyny, kidnapping, and of course, murder. These are qualities that might be off putting to some viewers, so it may help to keep in mind that Mr. Plinkett is a character from Red Letter Media's previous short films which fall under the horror/comedy category.


These reviews became famous following Mr. Plinkett's review of Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace which clocks in at almost an hour and ten minutes long, but never seems boring due to the eccentric character and comedic editing. However, Plinkett had previously produced reviews of all four Star Trek: The Next Generation films and subsequently the remaining Star Wars prequels, Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, J.J. Abram's 2009 Star Trek reboot, and even children's films Baby's Day Out and Cop Dog.

Also featured on the site, audio commentary tracks for Star Wars: Episode 4 (the new cut) and Star Trek 5. While you might think that simple audio tracks would lack the comedy and production value of the edited videos, you would be wrong.

Half in the Bag


Red Letter Media also produces a semi-regular review show featuring recent theatrical releases. Half in the Bag is hosted by Mike Stoklasa and Jay Bauman, but like the Mr. Plinkett Reviews, they have a fictional framing device. They are both VCR repair men who frequently take advantage of the senile Mr. Plinkett in a series of vignettes in the style of a '70s sitcom. In these videos, Plinkett is played by the third part of RLM's principle trio, Rich Evans, who occasionally steps into a different character to join in their discussions... usually when the featured movie is a superhero or sci-fi film.

Best of the Worst


The third series regularly produced by Red Letter Media, this one reviews predominantly (but not exclusively) B-movies. Their goal is to find three terrible movies and find the Best of the Worst. Usually, all three movies are just awful, but occasionally they will find a diamond in the rough, whether they are laughing with it or at it. However, the worst of the worst will be destroyed in new and creative ways.


Best of the Worst also features a segment entitled the Wheel of the Worst where they review movies that pretty much no one would watch unless they had to: safety videos, home workout videos, pet enthusiast videos, and much much more. While they always look painful to watch, hearing them talk about them is always hilarious.


Nostalgia Critic


One of the longest running, most popular, and most well-produced film reviews on the internet, the Nostalgia Critic (as his name implies) specializes in reviewing films from his childhood... and since we are roughly the same age, these are also the films of my childhood. To date, the Nostalgia Critic has produced over a hundred reviews on everything from The Wizard and Patch Adams to Face/Off and Batman & Robin. Like Mr. Plinkett, the Nostalgia Critic is a comedic angry man, although considerably less sociopathic.

In addition to reviews, the Nostalgia Critic has produced numerous Top 11 lists, a television review segment called Raiders of the Lost Storyarc, a remake/reboot review segment called Old Versus New, numerous editorials, and overviews on the history of Disney animation, Pixar, Dreamworks, and Nickelodeon. Additionally, the Nostalgia Critic has gathered other amateur reviewers under a banner called Channel Awesome. These reviewers frequently appear in his reviews as guests in an effort to cross-promote each other.


Although there are many reviews that could demonstrate the humor and production value of a Nostalgia Critic review, my personal favorite was the recent review of Man of Steel.

The Bunny Perspective


As far as I know, this is the only film review show featuring a puppet. The Bunny Perspective features a cute pot-smoking bunny rabbit who offers his perspective on what just so happens to be some of my favorite things of all time including Boston Legal, The Maxx, and Six-String Samurai.



It also features a regular review called Runken Drecaps in which a volunteer agrees to drink excessively while watching a movie they have never seen before. They then try to explain the movie in front of a camera. Unfortunately, this one does not update nearly as often as the others.



Cinema Sins (AKA Everything Wrong With)


A very popular segment on YouTube, Cinema Sins features a quick count of every "sin" they can find in a film. These sins may include continuity errors, factually incorrect statements, or simply poor decisions on the part of the producers. Naturally, these sins are very subjective, but like any good reviewer, occasionally they will point out things that become obvious in retrospect and therein lies the humor. The recently started a second segment called What's The Damage? featuring a cost analysis of the damage featured in various films.



How It Should Have Ended


These short animated segments, as the name suggests, offer a "better" ending to popular movies. Usually these endings expose the kind of gaping plot holes that are typical of a Hollywood ending. How It Should Have Ended pretty much says all it needs to.



Honest Trailers


Honest Trailers produces authentically designed trailers with their own booming narrator who suggests a more honest (and far less marketable) way to advertise popular films. These videos are not only great at making fun of the movies themselves, but also the bombastic style in which film trailers are made. They have recently began a segment called Honest Action in which a doctor is asked to estimate the damage taken by leading characters in a popular action film.



GAMES


Angry Video Game Nerd


Now, by all accounts, it seems that the forerunner of this entire movement is James Rolfe. Beginning in 2004, James Rolfe began reviewing original Nintendo games under the alias of the Angry Nintendo Nerd. As he began to expand into reviewing other consoles, he became the Angry Video Game Nerd. He continues to publish these reviews and more under the Cinemassacre banner, which is currently at work on the Angry Video Game Movie. His iconic look consists of a flat top, glasses, and white shirt with pocket protector. He inspired probably everyone on this list, either directly or indirectly, and his videos are insightful, funny, and completely over the top. I would recommend this to any old school gamer. Just look up any game that drove you crazy as a child and you will find some reassurance here that your feelings were shared.



This show has actually been made into several video games which he has recently reviewed.

Zero Punctuation


Another reviewer from The Escapist, Yahtzee is a fast-talking Australian with a horrible, yet insightful mind. His brutally honest assessment cuts to the heart of the problems in gaming which always make his a wonderful exception to the often shallow world of video game reviews. Yet I think his greatest gift is his ability to find bizarre, yet perfectly relateable similes for common problems in the video game design.


Zero Punctuation reviews current games, so find one that you have played so that you can get a full appreciation of what he's talking about.

Table Top


An exception to the other reviews on this list, Table Top (naturally) reviews table top games and is hosted by Wil Wheaton who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The show features celebrity guests (usually from the world of internet video or television) who have been invited by Wil to play a game of his choice. It starts with a brief explanation, but the fun is in watching them play the game and learning along with them. This is a great show if you are looking for a game to buy or simply for watching funny, interesting people enjoy themselves.



Co-Optitude


One of the biggest names in internet video programming is Felicia Day who has appeared in such Joss Whedon projects as Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and Dollhouse. She also runs the programming company Geek & Sundry which includes the previously mentioned Table Top. However, the program of hers that I most enjoy is Co-Optitude where she plays an old school video game with her brother, Ryon. However, since they didn't grow up with proper video games, they are terrible and half the fun is watching exactly how terrible they are.



Extra Credits


However, if you are serious about video games and you want to understand how the relationship between the gamer, the game, and the game designer, you should absolutely check out Extra Credits.  This is a show for the thinking gamer and it is a must for anyone interested in game designer. Admittedly, this can go a bit too in-depth for the casual gamer, but they are the kind of insightful gamers that you wish were running the industry.




Hey Ash, Whatchu Playin'?


Now, if you want dark non-sensical comedy about some of your favorite video games, you owe it to yourself to check out Hey Ash, Whatchu Playin'? This series features Ash, a carefree and often cruel young woman, who is completely ruled by her ID. As Ash plays the latest video games, her world blends with their world in often weird and creative ways. Professional quality humor and production in short doses.




And there you have it! Plenty of quality programming out there and no TV necessary! Hope you found something you like!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Marvel Universe - Part 1: Alien Races

In preparation for Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy feature film, I have been reading the Guardians of the Galaxy and all assorted tie-in comics. And there are a lot of them... a whole freaking lot of them... an intimidating and confusing lot of them. Fortunately, most of them are good, so it works out, but it probably also helps to have a basic understanding of the world involved. I'm sure the new film will tell us all we need to know, but for anyone who wants to be able to identify all the references going in, I present to you... the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Marvel Universe!

DISCLAIMER: This guide covers only homodimensional races and entities. For information concerning the Negative Zone, Microverse, Asgardian realms, Olympus, Limbo, Otherworld, Mojoverse, or any other asynchronous dimension, please consult the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Marvel Omniverse (coming soon!).



ANOTHER DISCLAIMER: The above is an unofficial fan-made map, but it seems to be fairly accurate based on references to human star charts. However, Earth has also frequently been used as a halfway point between all three galactic empires, which conflicts with this depiction.


PART 1: ALIEN RACES

 

The Galactic Empires

 

Skrull


Located in the Andromeda Galaxy, the Skrull Empire is the oldest existing empire in the known universe. A humanoid species identifiable by their green skin, pointed ears, and chin ridges, the Skrull possess the ability to shapeshift for prolonged periods of time. This defense mechanism has formed the basis for their expansionist military strategy: mimic indigeonous lifeforms, infiltrate their system of government, and dismantle their defenses from within.

Formerly a peaceful people, the Skrulls turned violent when their technology was stolen and used against them by the Kree. This incident sparked a war that continued for millennia and shaped the development of two galaxies locked in perpetual conflict. At some unknown point in time, the Skrulls left their original homeworld of Skrullos for Tarnax IV (later renamed Throneworld) in the center of their conquered galaxy.

Roughly twelve years before present Marvel time, the Skrull discovered a space warp to a star possessing an equidistant link from Throneworld to Hala. The star contained only one inhabited world by a race that had barely begun to travel in space. The natives called it Earth. The Skrull sent a scout team to investigate, but they were repelled by the newly formed Fantastic Four.

The Skrulls soon experimented with duplicating the powers of the Fantastic Four in a single volunteer, an honored Skrull warrior named Kl'rt who was then renamed "Super-Skrull." Yet even he failed to conquer the Earth.

Soon after, Throneworld was unexpectedly visited by the planet-devouring entity known as Galactus (see Part 2: Cosmic Beings). With the center destroyed, the empire fell into chaos with rival lords claiming the right of succession. However, the Skrulls are highly adaptable and have continued to be a significant threat to Earth, the Kree, the Shi'ar, and the Xandarians.

The Skrulls have also mutated in recent years due to both natural and unnatural causes. Warskrulls were genetically engineered to mimic superhuman powers for the purpose of invading the Shi'ar Empire and replacing key targets. Soon after, it was revealed that a Skrulls were randomly developing superhuman abilities similar to human mutants (see Part 3: Non-Human Earth Races) and designated "K-class deviants."

These separate mutations became the basis for new Super-Skrull experiments that began a new an elaborate "Secret Invasion" of Earth. Unlike previous attempts, this one required the bulk of the Skrull resources. Rather than a means to an end, the Skrull Queen Vernanke used scripture to claim that Earth was the lost Skrull homeworld. This invasion was seen as a holy quest to the Skrull. When this invasion failed, it caused massive damage to the Skrull empire.

Notable Skrulls: Dorrek, R'Klll, Anelle, Veranke, Kl'rt (Super-Skrull)*, Lyja, Jazinda
Offshoot Races: Dire Wraith, Warskrulls, Super-Skrulls, K-class deviants (mutants) 
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #2 (Jan. 1962)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/2

Kree


When the Kree race was young and barbaric, they shared their planet of Hala with the peaceful plant race called the Cotati. One day, they were visited by aliens from another galaxy called the Skrulls. These aliens wished to share their wisdom and technology with the native people, but in order to decide which were the more worthy race, the Skrulls had to conduct a test. They took seventeen of each, Kree and Cotati, and placed them on distant moons with advanced tools to build their ideal civilization. When the Skrulls returned years later to judge their work, they favored the Cotati. Enraged, the Kree turned on them both, stealing the Skrull technology, and wiping out the Cotati. The Kree were very smart and in the time in took for the Skrulls to learn of this treachery, they had adapted and replicated the Skrull technology thereby beginning the Kree-Skrull War, defining each race and their galaxies in mutual enmity.

The Kree Empire quickly grew in the area of space known on Earth as the Greater Magellanic Cloud. As the Cotati were driven to near extinction, a pascifist group of Kree known as the Priest of Pama swore to hide and protect them. In time, the priest came to worship the few remaining Cotati.

Roughly 250 year into the Kree-Skrull War, the Kree heard rumors of a Skrull super-weapon called the "Cosmic Cube." Although a terrifying failure, the Kree did not know and thus wished to design their own. Unable to master the technology, they developed a hyper-intelligent cyber-organic entity which came to be known as the Supreme Intelligence (or Supremor). However, Supremor determined the Cosmic Cube would be too dangerous and refused to build it. In time, the Kree realized the value of their creation and the Supreme Intelligence became the guiding force of the Kree Empire.

The Supreme Intelligence recognized a flaw in the Kree genetic makeup. The species was no longer evolving. In order to prevent genetic stagnation, the Kree began conducting genetic experimentation on alien worlds. Although this did not solve their problems, it did produce powerful creatures which were initially encouraged as weapons against the Kree. On Earth, these creations were known as the Inhumans. These experiments were abandoned when they revolted, but the Kree left a single robotic Sentry on each planet to keep an eye on their creations - afraid that their creations might return to haunt them.

It wasn't until thousands of years later when the Fantastic Four encountered and narrowly defeated Sentry-459. The destruction of the Sentry brought the attention of Ronan the Accuser, enforcer of Kree law. When he was defeated by the same superhuman team, this led to the Kree conducting a spying mission led by Captain Mar-Vell. However, this mission ended in disaster when Mar-Vell betrayed the Kree Empire to defend the Earth. With rising tensions in the military command structure due to unprecedented failures, Ronan led a coup to remove Supremor from power.

With the discovery of a equidistant link between Hala and Throneworld near Earth, the planet soon found itself in the middle of the ancient conflict between the two warring worlds. This brought the attention of the Avengers who found themselves fighting both sides. The war was finally ended by the intervention of the Supreme Intelligence who channeled his vast power through a human boy named Rick Jones. This ended the Kree-Skrull War and bonded Rick Jones to the renegade Kree warrior, Captain Marvel.

Shortly after, the Kree were involved in brief conflict with the Shi'ar Empire in the vicinity Earth. Although the Earth was spared due to intervention by the Avengers, the Kree population was devastated by a Nega-Bomb in their space causing them to surrender to the Shi'ar Empire. However, it was later revealed that this event was engineered by the Supreme Intelligence to encourage Kree evolution. Although 90% of the people were killed, 10% developed a mutation and became a sub-species called the Ruul. These Kree could actually transform instinctively in hazardous environments. By manipulating the Kree political system, they had Earth declared a penal colony and, for a short time, the planet became the dumping ground for alien criminals. However, this decision was reversed due to protests from Earth's superhuman community. The current state of the Ruul is unknown, but it has been theorized that they have been eliminated from existence by Genis-Vell in a temporary case of omnipotent power.

Following the Negative Zone invasion known as the Annihilation Wave, the Kree Empire succeeded from Shi'ar rule. However, while bolstering their weakened defenses, Hala was victim to a sneak attack from the Phalanx. Although the Kree eventually won the war, their empire was shattered. Following the Secret Invasion of Skrull on Earth, the Inhumans decided to declare themselves a universal force by invading Hala. Ronan the Accuser eagerly surrendered, believing the Inhumans capable of restoring the strength of the empire. This strength was instrumental in defending itself when Vulcan usurped the Shi'ar throne and began expanding into Kree territory. Although both sides were devastated and the universe was horribly scarred, the war ended in victory for the Kree as the Shi'ar surrendered. However, the Kree were recently abandoned by the Inhumans following an event known as the Summoning reuniting Inhumans from six separate worlds. Although Supremor foresees his destruction in these events, they have yet to play out in their entirety.


Notable Kree: Mar-Vell (Captain Marvel), Ronan the Accuser, Korath the Pursuer, Noh-Varr (Marvel Boy), Yon-Rogg, Ko-Rel
Offshoot Races: Ruul
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #65 (Aug. 1967)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: Confirmed (Ronan the Accuser & Korath the Pursuer)

Shi'ar


"Sharra and K'ythri are the gods in marriage. The gods who didn't want to marry, but were forced into it. In marriage they found strength and in strength they found love. That's what the Shi'ar Imperium does. It marries other cultures. Shotgun weddings." - Warren Ellis, Starjammers #1

The Shi'ar is both a race of people and the name for an empire consisting of many different worlds. Although many of their world were conquered through military force, the Shi'ar see themselves as benevolent rulers bringing order to a universe that instinctively wishes to destroy that which is different.

The Shi'ar themselves are an avian humanoid species almost identical to humans. The primary difference is their thin build, hollow bones, and feather-like hair follicles. Occasionally, they will also grow vestigial feathers on their forearms. The Shi'ar are also an egg-laying species

The Shi'ar government functions by the rule of a single hereditary leader called the Majestor or Majestrix. The Neramani bloodline has been on the throne for many generations, but their hold on the empire became tenuous with the madness of Emperor D'Ken. After his death, the empire was ruled by Empress Lilandra until a brief coup by her cousin, Deathbird. Although Lilandra was restored to the throne, the empire was soon usurped by the human mutant Vulcan who led the empire to its most devastating defeat to the Kree Empire. Though both sides seem peacefully contented as present, this is likely a very temporary arrangement.

The most sacred object in the Shi'ar Empire is the M'Kraan Crystal, also known as "the end of worlds" or "Nexus of All Realities." Shi'ar legend says that it was a gift from their gods Sharra and K'ythri, but its true origins are unknown but it seems to be tied to connected to the Phoenix Force, a cosmic entity of life and death.
The Shi'ar maxim of strength through diversity is symbolized by their elite Imperial Guard which is composed of representative from many different member planets. Often when one of the guardsmen fall, their world will select a replacement to adopt their legacy.

Notable Shi'ar: Lilandra, D'Ken, Deathbird*, Cerise, Araki
Offshoot Races: Spartoi
First Appearance: X-Men #97 (Feb. 1976)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/5

 

 The Lesser Empires 

 

Badoon


The Badoon are an unusual species in that their society is has schismed along gender lines. They are ruled separately by the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of the Badoon. When the males won the gender wars, the females became confined to the homeplanet while the Brotherhood became conquerors, returning only when their mating instinct demanded it.

Despite being considered a lesser galactic empire, the Badoon have conquered over thirty percent of the Milky Way galaxy and are one of the oldest species in the universe. It is foretold that the Badoon will be come to be the greatest empire in the universe.

Notable Badoon: Aladi No Eke, Brother Royal, Czar-Doon, Dara No Eke, L'Matto 
First Appearance: Silver Surfer #2 (Oct. 1968)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 2/3

 

 

The Universal Church of Truth


The Church is a star-spanning religious empire literally powered by faith. Their "faith engines" are powered by the belief and dedication of their followers which empowers their army. They possess hypnotic abilities that compel devotion and worship. Those worlds that will not convert voluntarily are destroyed as heathens.

The Church is ruled by a woman simply referred to as "the Matriarch" but the subject of their devotion is the Magus, a dark counterpart to the genetically-engineered "perfect" human being called Adam Warlock. Possessing incredible abilities, both are god-like beings. The Church possesses Templeships to deploy their armies consisting of Cardinals, Grand Inquisitors, and Black Knights.

Since they worship a humanoid diety, the Church sees the humanoid form to be the ideal form and non-humanoids are lesser creatures which are either enslaved or killed as they see fit.

Notable Converts: Matriarch
First Appearance: Strange Tales #178 (Feb. 1975)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 2/3


Xandarians


The Xandarians are known for two things: their homeworld getting repeatedly blown-up and the interstellar guardians of law and order known as the Nova Corps. Xandar was first destroyed by the alien Zorr, again by Nebula, and finally by the Annihilation Wave. Prior to its final destruction, fragments of Xandar were maintained by a vast artificial support structure referred to collectively as "the Xandar Cluster."

The Nova Corps are a noble group of peacekeepers chosen from planets across the known universe. Each are given a portion of their collective power known as the Nova Force which enables flight, shielding, energy projection, and gravity-based powers as well as a connection to the Nova Corps' sentient supercomputer called Worldmind.

The ranks of the Nova Corp are as follows: Nova Prime (singular leader of the Corps), Centurian (elite), Denarians (mid-level), Millenians (low-level),  and Corpsmen (rookies).

Notable Xandarians: Rhomann Dey
First Appearance: Fantastic Four #205 (April 1979)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: Confirmed (Rhomann Dey)

Kymellians


A horse-like humanoid species, the Kymellians destroyed their homeplanet centuries ago in an anti-matter experiment gone horribly wrong. The survivors created a giant artifical world (Kymellia II) to rebuild their civilization. The Kymellians are ruled by a spiritual leader called "the Matriarch" and possess incredible natural abilities such as healing and teleportation. Those who possess greater supernatural abilities are called "Sorcerers.

The human preteen superhero team, Power Pack, gained their abilities from one such Kymellian Sorcerer.

Notable Kymellians: Aelfyre Whitemane, Kofi Whitemane, Ghostmare
First Appearance: Power Pack #1 (Aug. 1984)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/8

Rigellians


The Rigellians are a small, but respected empire of humanoids also known as "Colonizers." Their exceptionally large cranium is a byproduct of their incredible intellect and psionic abilities. They can even change their physical density with the power of thought.

Although not a major part of the Marvel continuity, they frequently appear in cameo roles due to their distinct appearance.

Notable Rigellians: Tana Nile, Guthar, Irani Rael
First Appearance: Thor #131 (Aug. 1966)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: Confirmed ("Commander Rael" of Nova Corps)

Ovoids


Similar to the Rigellians, Ovoids are humanoids with large oval-shaped heads, which developed due to their significant psionic abilities. In addition to telekinesis, the Ovoids have unique the ability to project their consciousness into cloned bodies, making them effectively immortal.

First Appearance: Fantastic Four #10 (Jan. 1963)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/8

Spartoi


A cousin-race to the Shi'ar, the Spartoi hail from the planet Spartax and are indistinguishable from humans. Their empire is ruled by an Emperor and a Council of Ministers. Although little is known about the Spartoi, they have a reputation as advanced warriors, particularly the human-hybrid known as Peter Quill AKA Star-Lord.

Notable Spartoi: Star-Lord, Jason of Spartax
First Appearance: Marvel Preview #11 (June 1977)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: Confirmed (Star-Lord)

Majesdanians


Recently introduced in Runaways, the Majesdanians are a humanoid species that is able to store and manipulate solar energy to enable flight, shields, and energy projection. This accounts for their natural bioluminecence. They have been engaged in a war with the Skrulls for well over a decade and seek to end the war with a royal marriage.

Notable Majesdanians: Karolina Dean, vaDrann, vaRikk, vaDanti, deHalle
First Appearance: Runaways (Vol. 2) #1 (Oct. 2008)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/15

Dire Wraith


A deviant genetic offshoot of the Skrulls created by the Celestials (see Part 2: Cosmic Beings), the Dire Wraith were driven from the Skrull homeworld when they became adept at black sorcery. Today, the male Dire Wraith are primarily invested in science whereas the females of the species continue to practice dark magic. Although both are shapeshifters, females tend to prefer their corporeal form while males prefer a cloud-like phantom state.

After fleeing the Skrull homeworld, the Dire Wraith settled on a planet orbiting a black sun in the middle of a dark nebula. They called this planet Wraithworld. In the black sun, they found they horrible creatures and learned to domesticate them as their servant pets - the deathbirds and hellhounds.

Notable Dire Wraith: Doctor Dredd, Fantasma, Volx, Wraithwitch
First Appearance: Rom the Spaceknight #1 (Dec. 1979)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/12

Galadorians


Ever since a Galadorian ship encountered the Dire Wraith in the Dark Nebula, the two races have been deadlocked in an unending war. A highly intelligent and enlightened people, the Galadorians see it as their duty to prevent the Dire Wraith from threatening the rest of the universe. To that end, Galadorian volunteers have permanently transferred their consciousness into cyborg bodies (called "Spaceknights") in order to combat the threat of the Dire Wraith.

Notable Galadorians: Rom, Ikon
First Appearance: Rom the Spaceknight #1 (Dec. 1979)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/20

 Nomatic Races

Korbinites


After their planet was destroyed by the demonic Asgardian entity Surtur, the Korbinites fled to find a new world... only for that world to be devoured by Galactus.

Continuing as nomads, the Korbinites are protected by their superhuman guardian, Beta Ray Bill, who was given a mystical uru hammer similar to Thor's by Odin.

Notable Korbinites: Beta Ray Bill
First Appearance: Thor #337 (Nov. 1983)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/30

Makluans 


A race of space faring dragons that are typically noble, peaceful, and extremely long lived. While in their immature phase, they resemble a large humanoid, they can grow to be hundreds of feet in length. The Makluans possess advanced technology that can seem like magic and, in fact, created the ten rings worn by the Mandarin.

Notable Makluans: Fin Fang Foom, Fraktur, Axonn-Karr
First Appearance: Strange Tales #89 (Oct. 1961)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/20

Acanti


Space whales.

Notable Acanti: Prophet-Singer
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #157 (May 1982)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/10

 

 

Parasitic Races

Brood


Inspired by the xenomorphs of the Aliens franchise,  the Brood (colloquially referred to as "sleazoids") are a giant wasp-like creature which reproduces by laying eggs in the stomach of a host body. As the egg hatches, the host body becomes possessed and slowly transforms into a Brood. The new Brood body will then possess the abilities and memories of the host body, but the original mind will be destroyed. These parasites are ruled by a queen and usually travel via space faring organic entities (i.e. the Acanti) or by stowing aboard alien ships. They often have wings and/or tentacles, but all have ant-like legs and a scorpion-like double-pronged tail.

Notable Brood: Brood Queen, Broo*, No-Name
First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #155 (March 1982)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/8

"Symbiotes"


Erroneously referred to as "symbiotes" by the people of Earth, this misconception is due to the entities seductive nature. Although this species has no known name, they are a parasitic organism that feeds on negative emotional energy while heightening natural abilities. They typically choose hosts that are prone to anger and encourage hostile activity, which it then feeds off of. The organism also has a natural camouflage that makes the host nearly invisible.

The major weakness of the species is exposure to fire or high-intensity sonic energy.  Due to their highly adaptable nature, the symbiotes are also highly prone to mutation, however the exact method of symbiote reproduction is not entirely understood.

All that is known of their history is that their homeworld was devoured by Galactus, leaving them destitute.

Notable Symbiotes: Venom, Carnage, Toxin, Anti-Venom
First Appearance: Spectacular Spider-Man #91 (June 1984)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/20

Technarchy/Phalanx


A shapeshifting techno-organic species from the planet Kvch, the Technarchy is an extremely dangerous and aggressive species that feeds on entire worlds. The Technarchy do no digest food, but rather feed by infecting lifeforms with a Transmode Virus which transforms the prey into a techno-organic being only moments before draining the subject's "lifeglow" effectively killing them.

If the lifeglow is not drained, the victim may become a separate species known as the Phalanx. Although vary similar to the Technarchy, the Phalanx is a collective entity directed by a single Hivemind with the solitary goal of assimilating all lifeforms to create a larger collective. The Technarchy consider the Phalanx to be an abomination (similar to a zombie) and will destroy them on sight.

The Technarchy have a very Darwinian method of reproduction whereby the offspring is required to combat and slay their parent ("siredam") to usurp their position. Since they tend to grow more powerful with age, the parent is rarely killed and few survive to adulthood.

Notable Technarchy: Magus, Warlock, Tyro
Offshoot Races: Phalanx
First Appearance: New Mutants #18 (Aug. 1984)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/30

Other Notable Races

 

Chitauri


Originally introduced in alternate universe of The Ultimates, the Chitauri were analogous to the Skrulls, possessing their shapeshifting abilities and even saying that they were known by that name on other planets.

When the Avengers feature film was developed, the Chitauri name was used to introduce an unrelated race of alien invaders. These aliens were redesigned to look like living corpses and were, appropriately enough, revealed to be the army of the cosmic death god, Thanos.

Although the Chitauri have recently been introduced in the primary Marvel universe series Nova, they have yet to be fully developed.

Notable Chitauri: "Herr Kleiser"
First Appearance: The Ultimates #8 (Nov. 2002)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/2

Centaurians


These blue humanoids are recognizable for their pointed ears and distinctive red fin along their head. Little known fact, Centaurians are marsupials (as shown here). Their language consists of a complex series of grunts, clicks, and whistles. Consequently, it is difficult for them to form alien syllables, so they have a reputation for being terse.

Centaurian society is relatively primitive and tribal with their culture is divided into two ideological sects: the Habaku, a religious movement translating as "the Circle of Life," and the Akuun, the secularists or faithless.. Despite the fact that they are a space-faring people, they still favor the bow and arrow as their preferred weapon. Their race also has a slight predisposition toward psionic and mystic abilities, but this is not reflected in the general population.

Notable Centaurians: Yondu, Chandra, Samaya
First Appearance: Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (Jan. 1969)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: Confirmed (Yondu)

Mephitisoids


Although gaining their name from the taxonomical designation for a skunk, the design for the Mephitisoids has become more cat-like over time. While they are considered part of the Shi'ar Empire, they are a rebellious planet known for insurrection. Most Mephitisoids consider their world occupied by the Shi'ar.

Notable Mephitisoids: Hepzibah, Morrow
First Appearance: X-Men #107 (Oct. 1977)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/5

Strontians


An extremely rare and powerful species, the Strontian homeworld was destroyed long ago leaving only one known survivor - Kallark. Better known as Gladiator, Kallark serves as Praetor of the Shi'ar Imperial Guard. Inspired by the power set of Superman, Gladiator possesses strength, speed, invulnerability, and powerful eye blasts that are virtually unparalleled in the Marvel universe. It has recently been revealed that there are at least two other Strontians: a psychopathic female called Xenith and Kallark's son, Kubark, also known as Kid Gladiator.

Notable Strontians: Kallark (Gladiator), Xenith (the Strontian), and Kubark (Kid Gladiator)
First Appearance: X-Men #107 (Oct. 1977)
Chance of Appearing in GotG: 1/30

Coming Soon...

Part 2: Cosmic Beings