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At The Movies: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Well, that was better than I was expecting. Although, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. And I’m not saying it’s a great film, but it’s better than the last one, which admittedly isn’t saying much. I can’t imagine it being any worse than “Baywatch,” which is your alternative holiday weekend movie release.

I guess what I’m trying to say is “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” is kinda fun, pretty silly, too long, and nicely brings the story back around to its original characters and ties things up in a nice bow. It even gives an origin story of sorts for its lead character. If it were the end of the series, it would be a nice way to go out. So lets all hope it bombs at the box office so they don’t ruin things by making another one.

potc_dmtnt_poster_by_jackiemonster12-db3wuivHenry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), young son of Will (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) — the star-crossed lovers of the original trilogy — is looking for a way to break the curse that keeps his father trapped aboard the Flying Dutchman. According to legend, the answer is the trident of Poseidon, mythical god of the sea.

The key to finding the trident lies, of course, with that rum-loving pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp).

Now this can’t be a simple team-up and find the trident story, that’s not enough plot for a PotC movie. So enter Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem), an undead sea captain who steers a massive ghost ship and has a grudge against Sparrow. He wants revenge for past wrongs and will destroy every vessel in the ocean to get at Jack.

Then there’s Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), an astronomer (often mistaken for a witch) with a secret past who is also looking for the trident. And you can’t have a PotC movie without Jack’s rival, Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), who gets dragged into the story because Salazar is crippling his ships looking for Sparrow. And, of course, he wouldn’t mind having the trident for his own purposes.

“Dead Men Tell No Tales” shares all the pluses and minuses familiar to all the movies in the franchise. On the plus side, the special effects are impressive, the cast in engaging, and the action sequences are thrilling. On the minus side, the movie goes on too long, the action sequences go on way too long, the story is convoluted, and Jack just isn’t as charming as he used to be.

Still, it was good of them to bring back Will and  Elizabeth, even if only briefly, and resolve their story and wrap up others — at least until things get all upended for the next one.

 

 

At The Movies: Alien: Covenant

The good news is that “Alien: Covenant” isn’t the ambitious-but-muddled mess that its predecessor, “Prometheus,” was. It’s a tighter, much more straightforward, horror film.

The bad news is, well, it’s hard to be that scared by something you’ve seen played out six times now since 1979 (more if you count “Alien/Predator” movies). “Covenant” is basically a greatest hits of the “Alien” franchise. And just like any greatest hits album — you’ve heard it all before.

IMG_20170323_0950491The year is 2104 and a huge colony ship is bound for a distant planet. When the ship receives a very human transmission coming from an uncharted planet, Captain Oram (Billy Crudup) decides to investigate. After all, if this unknown world is habitable, they can shave nine years off their trip.

As you might imagine, there’s something ugly, violent and voracious on the planet’s surface. Also on the planet is David (Michael Fassbender), the android who was last seen heading for the planet of the engineers at the end of “Prometheus.”

Director Ridley Scott is once again at the helm of this second in a series of prequels to his groundbreaking “Alien” film. While he shows that he still knows how to deliver a taut, horrifying tale, he first broke that ground almost 40 years ago and doesn’t seem to have anywhere new to go.

These last two films have had a few interesting ideas but they all get shoved aside for more face-hugging, chest-exploding gore. I’m much more interested in the giant albinos but they never get to do anything and the meeting between humans and their possible creators goes nowhere.

I mean, am I supposed to be on the edge of my seat when some idiot sticks his head over a freshly opened alien pod? Do you expect me to still be shocked when someone starts convulsing shortly after an alien encounter?

And even though the actors change, the roles remain the same. This time around Katherine Waterston gets to be the indomitable woman who isn’t in charge but takes charge and drives the narrative. Danny McBride plays the down-to-earth guy who gives the film its small bit of comic relief.

And in a dual role, Fassbender gets to play both the evil synthetic (formerly known as Ash) and the good one (formerly known as Bishop). Which one will win out? Well, you have a 50/50 chance of getting it right, and either way will you really be surprised?

“Alien: Covenant” is a better film than its predecessor and the later films in the original run, but it doesn’t have the freshness or spark of the original and James Cameron’s sequel. The special effects are impressive, the actors are solid and the action sequences are thrilling. It’s the same old, same old, but very expertly done.

 

 

 

After You’ve Seen It: Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

Welcome to “After You’ve Seen It,” a new segment in which I talk more freely about a new movie or show that is meant to explain things about something you’ve just seen, as opposed to our “Before You Go” segment in which I explain things about something you haven’t seen yet.

Needless to say, Spoiler Alert. If you haven’t seen GOTGv2 yet, come back later.

Who Were All Those People?

Unless you’re a Marvel Zombie, you were probably confused by all the new characters who show up in GOTGv2. Heck, even if you are a longtime Marvel fan you probably had trouble making out who some of the people are since director James Gunn takes great liberties in translating these characters to film. I had to look up some of them just to be sure.

EgoEgo The Living Planet first appeared in the pages of “Thor” in 1966. A creation of the all-star team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Ego is pretty much what it says on the package: A sentient planet.

Like most cosmic figures he’s neither good nor evil but he does do things at times that run counter to what would be best for Earth, so he ends up in fights with people like Thor and the Fantastic Four.

In fact, the whole bit where Baby Groot drops a bomb on Ego’s brain was lifted pretty directly from an issue of FF by John Byrne. I bring this up only because I didn’t see Byrne’s name listed among the Marvel writers who got credited for their contributions to the film.

Mantis-Marvel-Comics-Avengers-Profile-bAs to just how far can you take a character from its comic book origins, meet Mantis. Mantis made her debut in “The Avengers” in 1973.

Created by Steve Englehart, Mantis was a Vietnamese hooker who met a down-and-out villain named The Swordsman at a bar. She rehabilitates Swordy and convinces him to go to New York and try to join The Avengers (One assumes she did this so she could move into Avengers mansion and out of some Vietnamese whorehouse). The team takes them in and shortly thereafter she begins flirting with The Vision, much to the chagrin of the Scarlet Witch.

Shortly after this it is revealed that Mantis is the Celestial Madonna, meaning her destiny was to one day give birth to a child who would become the most powerful being in the universe. At the end of a long and convoluted story she winds up marrying a plant person (think Groot but green and with a better vocabulary) and they go off into space. Mantis has various adventures and eventually joins the Guardians.

Originally, Mantis did not have superpowers, she was just very good at the martial arts. The “antennae” sticking out of her head were never really explained. I think they were just part of a headdress, they certainly didn’t give her any powers. After she became the Madonna her skin turned green (I guess from having sex with a plant person? I dunno.) and she gained the ability to communicate with plants. She does now have empathetic abilities, which is about the only thing about her that the movie kept intact.

Before I get into the rest of the newbies, who for the most part were just glorified cameos, a history lesson: The original Guardians of the Galaxy first appeared in 1969 in a comic called “Marvel Super Heroes.”

34143._SX360_QL80_TTD_Created by Arnold Drake and Gene Colan, the Guardians lived in the 31st century where they fought a never-ending battle with an alien race known as The Badoon. Team members included Yondu ( whom you’ve met, from Centauri-IV, played by Michael Rooker), Martinex (a crystal-like being from Pluto) and Charlie 27 (a big, bulky guy from Jupiter).

The fourth member, Vance Astro, was an American astronaut from modern times who somehow wound up in the 31st century. He has yet to appear in the movies.

Martinex and Charlie appear briefly in the movie (played by Michael Rosenbaum and Ving Rhames) as part of Yondu’s old crew. There’s also a character called Mainframe whom I blinked and missed. She’s a future version of The Vision who joined the Guardians at some point in recent years. The character was voiced by Miley Cyrus. Yes, Hanna Montana is now a full-fledged member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-45-huge-sale-fine-d84ec9ba5fba09e3b67e7e1968d258b4This original Guardians were later joined by Starhawk (Stakar Ogord, played by Sylvester Stallone) and his female counterpart Aleta (Michelle Yeoh). I say female counterpart because back when I was reading comics in the ’70s, Starhawk and Aleta couldn’t occupy the same space at the same time, so when one was dominant, the other was in “limbo” or somesuch. Kinda like the HULK and Bruce Banner, but not really.

I don’t really follow the Guardians and what I know about them is what I read from guest appearances in “The Defenders” and “The Avengers.”  I’m pretty sure Starhawk and Aleta (who, as you can see from the comic, bear little resemblance to Sylvester Stallone andMichelle Yeoh) are separate entities now and they’ve all moved out of the 31st century to modern times.

I don’t know how the Ravagers fit into this, they weren’t Ravagers in the comics that I grew up with but Marvel’s cosmic comics have changed a great deal since I was a kid. At some point the original Guardians were replaced by the characters we know today but I think they are all out there somewhere, probably guarding other parts of the galaxy. It’s a pretty big place after all.

The tall, bald guys hanging out with Stan Lee are from a race known as The Watchers. As the name implies, they are powerful cosmic dudes who just stand around and watch as the universe unfolds. Interstellar peeping toms, basically.

warlock1972series2Finally, if you made it all the way to the end of the film, you’re probably wondering what’s in the big cocoon that the gold lady had made. That would be Him, better known as Adam Warlock.

Him first appeared in “The Fantastic Four” in the 1960s, a creation of Lee and Kirby. Him was created by Earth scientists to be the perfect human. He was later revamped into a kind of space messiah as Adam Warlock by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. He rose to prominence under Jim Starlin as an arch-enemy of Thanos, whom you should already be well aware of.

Whether Warlock will play a role in the upcoming Infinity War story line in the Avengers movies or whether they hold him back for the third Guardians movie is anyone’s guess.

At The Movies: Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2

Many people — myself included — assumed that “Guardians of the Galaxy” would be Marvel Studios’ first big bomb.

After all, the comic book was never that popular. On top of that, they were using the team’s most offbeat lineup for the movie. Who’s going to buy into a film starring a sarcastic raccoon and a talking tree?

And yet, director James Gunn found the winning formula with a mix of humor, action, special effects and characters that you cared about — even if they were a raccoon and a tree. Oh, and set it all to an infectious classic rock soundtrack. “Guardians of the Galaxy” became a shining jewel in Marvel’s already impressive crown.

Now, Starlord and crew are back with more of the same. And that’s a very, very good thing.

9309ee7890499a5b4d7d825f02dbe80eThe action starts with the Guardians — Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) — trying to stop a huge monster from stealing batteries owned by the gold-skinned, imperious Sovereigns. They complete the contract but are soon being pursued across the galaxy by the Sovereigns because Rocket has stolen the batteries. Because, you know, Rocket.

The team’s ship crashes on a planet where they are met by the powerful Ego (Kurt Russell) and his assistant Mantis (Pom Klementieff).  Ego reveals that he is Peter’s father and takes Peter, Drax and Gamorra to his home planet. Rocket and Groot stay behind to fix the ship and babysit their prisoner, Gamorra’s troublesome sister Nebula (Karen Gillan).

While Peter is trying to connect with his father, the man who actually raised Quill — Yondu (Michael Rooker) — is trying to reconnect with his old buddy in the Ravagers, Stakar Ogord (Sylvester Stallone). Stakar rejects Yondu, and things only get worse for him when his crew decide to mutiny.

Yondu winds up teaming up with Rocket and they race to Ego’s home world so all the players will be in place for the big finale.

“GOTG Vol. 2” is just as charming and witty and visually intriguing as the original.  Gunn maintains the right balance of humor and action, delivers some nifty special effects and still finds room for heart and humanity with his very eclectic and not very human cast. Music continues to play a major role in the series and Vol. 2 features another quality and cringe-worthy collection of tunes.

And there’s good news for people who are tired of sitting through seemingly endless closing credits just to get to that brief end-credits scene. Gunn has sprinkled the credits with amusing bits and broken up the scroll with multiple epilogue scenes.

You may be confused by who Stallone was and who all the new people are who show up later, but we’ll get into that in another post.

Guardians remains one of the best franchises in the Marvel Studios stable. Or, as Groot would put it — well, you all know what Groot would say.

 

 

 

The End Of The World As I Know It

The first comic book shop I ever set foot in was probably the one in downtown Springfield, Missouri. It wasn’t really a comic book shop, it was an old, used bookstore, but in the window it had a sign: ‘Marvel Comics On Sale Here.’

I don’t remember how I got there — downtown was not a spot we ever visited in Springfield — but get there I did. It was old and musty with books stacked unevenly and all over. Classic old, used bookstore. But in one area were a couple of shelves with all new comics. Not the spinner-racks I was used to at Wood’s supermarket. Next to the shelves were stacks of old comics.

A store that specialized in selling comic books. What a wonderful idea. I wonder if it will catch on.

imagesSurprisingly, It did. The first comic book shop I was  frequent customer of was Rock Bottom Books and Comics in Columbia, Missouri. It was within walking distance of the dorm so I would trek there often to peruse the new comics. I still had a subscription to ‘Avengers’ and ‘X-Men’ back home so I didn’t need to actually buy any comics, but that didn’t stop me from walking up the long stairway to Rock Bottom and while away the hours looking through the spinner racks. I was young back then and didn’t see any problem with going into a store and reading their books and not buying anything. Eventually my subscriptions ran out and I did turn my business over to Rock Bottom.

There have been many other shops over the years, and even more locations (comic book shops tend to move around a lot). While living in Springfield I sometimes visited Duckburg Comics. Years later it would turn out the owners of that shop would be our frequent companions at LawyerCon.

When The Wife had a job interview in St. Charles I went along for the ride. While she was interviewing I went for a walk on Main Street and discovered the St. Charles Journal, where I would soon go to work, and FBN: The Fantasy Shop, a comic book shop just down the street. (FBN, I eventually learned, stood for “Fly By Night,” the Rush song) The Fantasy Shop went on to become the McDonald’s of comic book shops in St. Louis, with locations all over. They dropped the FBN moniker.

There are a surprising number of comic book shops in St. Louis. I admit I haven’t even been to all of them. For the most part I split my money between The Fantasy Shop, now in its third location since I moved here, and Comic Book Relief, which is next door to Beer, Bait & Bullets.

If you watch “The Big Bang Theory” you know that new comics arrive at the shop once a week. The day has changed over the years but for some time now New Comic Book Day is Wednesday. It makes for a nice break in the work week. Every Wednesday I pick up my son after work and we drive to FS or CBR, I rifle through the new books, check out any new merchandise, pick up a book or two along with the Comic Shop News (it’s free, as it should be because it’s not really worth paying for), pay the man at the cash register (it’s usually a  man) and be on my way.

It’s been part of my routine for almost 40 years.

The Internet, as we all know, has ruined everything. A few years back publishers started making comic books available in a digital format. Rather than buying a physical, paper comic book as God intended, you could download one off a website and read it on your computer.

What a stupid idea. Who wants to read a comic book on a computer? How inconvenient is that? Then tablets came along and suddenly it was maybe more convenient but still, why would you give up your comic book for a digital file on a computer?

marvel-digital-code-350x217Once digital comics took off, Marvel started offering free codes in its comics. Type the 10-digit code into your computer and you’d get a free digital copy of that comic. I still wasn’t sold. I continued buying my comics and ignoring the codes. Then one day Marvel had a special deal where you could download like 300 comics for free. Suddenly, digital comics didn’t seem so stupid.

I went through the various hoops and downloaded several books. I then proceeded to read them on my son’s Ipad. HOLY CRAP. This is awesome! The art is crisper. The colors are more vibrant. And best of all, you can zoom in on individual panels and blow up images as large as you like — making it significantly easier for old, cataracted, eyes to read the captions.

Digital comics, where have you been all my life?

I quickly began downloading every code in every comic I had that had not already expired. I now had a new weekly routine. Go to the comic book shop, buy a comic, bring it home and read it, download the digital copy, put the comic on the shelf, and hereafter re-read it in digital. It was the best of both worlds. So naturally it couldn’t last.

Last month Marvel announced that it would no longer include a free digital copy of the comic you just bought. I feared this day would come. Nothing good lasts forever.

Here now my dilemma: Do I continue as before, going to the comic shop every week and picking up a book or two and taking them home and reading them and eventually sticking them on a shelf or in a box…or do I come home, fire up the computer, go to Marvel.com and purchase a digital copy? I’m not going to do both.

000_0368Think about this people. This is no minor thing. Since childhood I have collected comics.I never stopped. Some sissies quit around high school and go back around college. Not me. I have them (not bagged and boarded, what a stupid thing) in two tall bookshelves, two short bookshelves, eight boxes in the unfinished part of the basement, two boxes in the bedroom closet, two dresser drawers in the bedroom, several stacked on my nightstand near the bed, and a few stacked on the living room end table. That’s not counting my graphic novels. I have comics from England and Ireland and Scotland and probably half the states in the union.

If I go digital, that all stops. No more “Where’s my comic book?” and “Why did you draw on my comic book?” and “Who tore the cover off my comic book?” The poor soul who inherits my comic book collection will find unexpected stops in the current runs of “Black Widow,” “Occupy Avengers” and “All New X-Men.” My wife will be the happiest person alive.

But it’s not just the loss of the physical item. What about my routine? Going to the comic book shop wasn’t just going shopping. It was like going to church, but without the preaching and that horrible contemporary Christian music that has ruined church. It was a hump-day break from the unending depression of work. And the social aspect — “How’z it goin’?” says the man behind the counter. “OK,” says I. “That’ll be $4.23.” “Hold on, I think I have some change.” “Thanks for coming in!”

No, I don’t know the names of any of the clerks or shop owners that I have dealt with weekly for the past 25 years. I’m not my wife. And no, I don’t talk to the fellow customers. Have you been in a comic book shop? Nerds. All nerds.

But they’re my nerds. And while I won’t miss them, I will miss the experience. I mean, I’m not a college freshman anymore, I can’t just show up every week, rifle through the new books, and walk out.

And so I must face the future. The advantages of digital are too great to ignore. I can store hundreds of comics in the space that one would take up today. They’re easier to read and so much nicer to look at. I can read digital comics on my phone, which means I can read them anywhere — sitting in a waiting room, waiting for the movie to start, in the bathroom at work — the possibilities are endless. My only fear now is a power outage. Or the Internet explodes.

tumblr_m3z1y9cyis1rvm5qqo1_1280

(I told you you wouldn’t care about it, assuming you made it this far)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gone: Maggie Roche

Money is not the problem
you have enough of that
now you must close your office
put on your coat and hat
put on your coat and hat

Now is the hour of quitting
twilight paints the town
Old industrial skyline
how does the sun go down?
how does the sun go down

You can go south in winter
be what you are a goose
you can live near the ocean
your clothes can fit you loose

Even as you are leaning
into that glass of wine
you and beloved business
have come to the end of a line
come to the end of a line

All of the gates are open
all of the charges dropped
talks are terminated
payments have been stopped
payments have been stopped

You can move north in summer
you can be in the breeze
you don’t need to notify
any secretaries

Old industrial skyline
drawing away from you
you are the one that’s moving
you are the fool that flew
you are the fool that flew

You can go south in winter
be what you are a goose
honk all the moon out the ocean
your clothes can fit you loose

Do I wanna be a dog?mi0003516016
any diddlin’ male would do
if I was a damned old dog
I wouldn’t be fussy for you

Do I wanna be a housebroken dog
eat better than an Indian
I don’t wanna be a damned old dog
I just wanna lick your chin again

I thought that I could convince you
I thought that I could get through
chew out a hole in the fence you
barked up between me and you

Limpin’ around in the moonlight
coverin’ up what I did
words decompose all around me
nuisances I committed

Do I wanna be a dog
cut the heat out of me
if I was a damned old dog
I wouldn’t have to goddamn human be

She came on the stage
in a dress like the sky
she had painted a sunset
around her eyes
and all of the people
were charmed and surprised
at how pretty and high and shy she was
pretty and high and shy

She at the window
and the prince upon the bed
they were for an hour
before he said
if she had no place else
she was welcome to stay
but she’d better get back
and she thanked him the same
leavin’ him pretty and high and dry
pretty and high and dry

The prince was confused
so he asked the magician
the magician arrived
at the answer profound
if she takes off her dress
the sky will fall down
cause she’s pretty and high and a lie
pretty and high and a lie

I work at the circus
and I sleep with the clown
when I took off my dress
the sky fell down
if the sky falls down
then we play on the ground
cause I’m pretty and high and only partly a lie
pretty and high and only partly a lie
pretty and high and only partly a lie

One in Louisiana
one who travels around
one of ’em mainly stays in heart-throb town

I am not their main concern
they are lonely too
I am just an arrow passing through

When they look into my eyes
I know what to do
I make sure the words I say are true

When they send me off at dawn
pay the driver my fare
they know I am goin’ down somewhere

O the married men
the married men
never would have had a good time again
if it wasn’t for the married men

One says he’ll come after me
another one’ll drop me a line
one says all o’ my agony is in my mind

They know what is wrong with me
none of ’em wants my hand
soloin’ in my traveling wedding band

O the married men
the married men
makes me feel like a girl again
to run with the married men

One of ’ems got a little boy
other one he’s got two
one of ’ems wife is one week overdue

I know these girls they don’t like me
but I am just like them
pickin’ a crazy apple off a stem

Givin’ it to the married men
the married men
all o’ that time in hell to spend
for kissin’ the married men

If you go down to Hammond
you’ll never come back
In my opinion you’re
on the wrong track
We’ll always love you but
that’s not the point

If you go with that fella
forget about us
As far as I’m concerned
that would be just
throwing yourself away
not even trying
Come on you’re lying to me

Well I went down to Hammond
I did as I pleased
I ain’t the only one
who’s got this disease

Why don’t you face the fact
you old upstart
We fall apart

You’d be okay if you’d
just stay in school
Don’t be a fool

Do your eyes have an answer
to this song of mine
They say we meet again
on down the line
Where is on down the line
how far away?
Tell me I’m okay

If you go down to Hammond
you’ll never come back

The Real “Show-Me” Avenger

Yesterday we discussed Marvel’s questionable (this is me being polite) decision to declare The Whizzer — a 1940s superhero who’d spent maybe 10 minutes with The Avengers — as the official Avenger of Missouri.

Today I will make my case for the real Avenger of Missouri. I give you: Clinton Francis Barton, aka Hawkeye, aka Goliath, aka Ronin, aka Hawkguy.

u-s-avengers_vol_1_1_missouri_variant

Oh God, not another Hawkeye post. You really need to give your obsession with this fictional character a rest, Roy. 

Hear me out. One of the reasons for my longtime love for Clint Barton was the knowledge that he was from my home state and not some New York elitist like all the others.

OK. You say he’s from Missouri. State your Case.

hawkmo1Gladly, your honor.

EXHIBIT A: AVENGERS 51, 1968.

Goliath (Hank Pym) is being electrocuted by a machine called the vibrotron. Hawkeye tries to pull it off of him and is thrown back against the wall. His response:

“That thing’s… got the kick …of a Missouri Mule!”

Now granted, that’s not birth certificate solid evidence, but why would anyone not from Missouri use a term like “the kick of a Missouri mule?” The more common expression is “that thing kicks like a mule.” Only Harry Truman would’ve thrown the word Missouri in there. It’s certainly not something someone from Iowa would say.

hawkmo2But for solid proof, I give you EXHIBIT B: Avengers 63, 1969. 

Hank Pym has abandoned the Goliath identity for a new one, that of Yellowjacket. He’s trying to impress his teammates with his new powers but Hawkeye’s not having any of it.

“Mebbe so…but I’m still from Missouri, Insect-Man! Are you sure you didn’t switch identities just so’s you could sport a new suit?”

Now, c’mon. What more proof do you need? He comes out and says he’s from Missouri and even alludes to the state motto. Again, why would someone from Iowa claim to be from Missouri?

And finally, EXHIBIT C: Avengers 79, 1970.

hawkmo3By this time Clint has taken over Hank’s old gig as Goliath. In this panel he’s punching Power Man, who was just boasting about how he was going to clean Goliath’s clock. Clint’s response:

“Go ahead, tough guy! I’m from Missouri! Show Me!!”

Now not only is he bragging about his home state but he’s explicitly bringing up the state motto. How many people from Iowa would even know the Missouri state motto? Does Iowa even have a state motto?

I rest my case.

That’s a pretty solid case. Do any other Avengers talk about their home state as much as Hawkeye did in the Silver Age?

Nope. It’s pretty safe to say that Hawkeye is the only Avenger who spent that much time bragging about his home state. Thor talks about Asgard a lot, but that’s not a state.

I wonder why that is.

Well, I suspect the answer lies with the writer of The Avengers at the time. Roy Thomas grew up in Jackson, Missouri, and in the mid-60s moved to New York City to break into the comics business. He became Stan Lee’s number two, writing every book Stan couldn’t write anymore which eventually became almost all of them. He eventually became Stan’s successor as editor-in-chief at Marvel. During this time he did a long, memorable run on The Avengers and turned Hawkeye into a fellow Missourian.

So where did it all go wrong?

official_handbook_of_the_marvel_universe_vol_2_5I’m not 100 percent certain, but all signs and my exhaustive investigative journalism skills point to The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. First published in 1982, the handbook was a 15-issue series that tried to compile all the stats and origin stories and whatnot for every character and organization in the Marvel Universe. Since these stories and stats change frequently, the handbooks were usually out of date by the time they were published.

It was here that some writer who hadn’t bother to do his homework, backed up by an editor who hadn’t done his job, listed Hawkeye’s birthplace as Waverly, Iowa. Why? I have no idea.

Well, I suspect it’s because Iowa is known as “the Hawkeye state” and the University of Iowa calls its sports teams “the Hawkeyes.” I’m sure Mark Gruenwald or somebody thought they were being too clever by having Hawkeye come from the Hawkeye state.

Too bad they couldn’t be bothered to read the comics to get the facts straight.