Form Vs Function

Today I had one of “those” moments. One of those moments where I sacrificed functionality for the look of the thing.

Let me rewind a little bit. In July, as a birthday present to myself, I purchased a completely bespoke tailored suit, then over the months that followed I proceeded to eat and drink all sorts of crap and have put on a fair bit of weight. Over the last month however I have started taking better care of my self, I’ve been eating better, drinking less beer and have even cut back on my Achilles heel, coca cola.

So cut  back to today and I’m getting ready for a meeting this afternoon, I put on my beautiful three piece, double breasted, pinstripe suit, did up my silk tie, looked in the mirror and realised my outfit was on point, and I looked good.

However I went to put my wallet in my jacket pocket and it spoiled the  whole flow of the outfit, so I did the only sane thing and ditched my wallet and sacrificed any function my outfit had…. But damn it I looked good.

 

The A-Z Of Super Teams

The Avengers

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Marvels flagship super team formed in the 1960’s and originally comprising of Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Ant-man and the Wasp, this team has gone on to produce multiple spin off titles and has run for over 50 years. Even being the focus of the current Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Big Hero Six

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Japan’s premier superteam introduced by marvel in the 1990’s, originally comprising of Hiro, Gogo Tomago, Honey Lemon and Baymax along with X Man Sunfire and former villain Silver Samurai, this team was formed by the Japanese government to protect their shores. This title was short lived running for only 3 issues in 1997, then ressurected as a mini series in 2005 before enjoying success as an award winning Disney animation

The Champions

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In the aftermath of the Civil War II storyline, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Man (Miles Morales), and Nova have left the Avengers and make plans to “put the world back together.” After recruiting The Totally Awesome Hulk, The Vision’s daughter Viv, and a time displaced cyclops, they form the Champions.

The Defenders

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Originally formed of The Incredible Hulk, Namor The Submariner and Dr Strange the team came together in order to take on lovecraftian villains the undying ones, who are hell bent (pun most defiantly intended) on taking over the earth for themselves. The defenders would enjoy a great deal of success over the years and, unlike regular superteams, would feature a rotating cast of characters depending on the mission at hand. The defenders name lives on to this day and will feature as a new television series as a joint venture between Marvel Studios and Netflix.

Excalibur

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Britain’s Premier superteam, consisting of various European and American X-men led by the mystical hero Captain Britain and his wife, the Roma Gypsy, Meggan. Conceived as a team when the X-men were missing and presumed dead, Excalibur dealt with a number of threats, including aliens, werewolves, alien werewolves and a whole series of extra-dimensional misadventures. The original series ran for 125 issues and then came back as a mini series, then another 24 issue series entitled New Excalibur, which then morphed into the Captain Britain and Mi 13 series.

Fantastic Four

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Marvels first family was arguably the beginning of the silver age of comics as far as marvel are concerned, a team made up of the Thing, The Human Torch, The Invisible Woman and the bizarrely titled Mr Fantastic (the man has an excessive amount of doctorates but whatever). The Fantastic Four have endured in comics since their development in 1961, however have not enjoyed much success in other media, with every attempt at hitting the big screen being a disaster, including one film so bad it was never released.

Guardians of the Galaxy

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There’s been more than one team to bear the name Guardians of the Galaxy, a team from the year 3000 who would sporadically appear in the pages of the Avengers, and the New team, coming in the Wake of Marvels Annihilation and Annihilation Conquest events, this version featuring Star Lord, Gamora (the deadliest woman in the galaxy) Drax The Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon and Groot (the sentient tree and Monarch of Planet X) have stared in 2 series (25 and 27 issues respectively) with a third ongoing series under way, as well as a major motion picture (with a sequel to be released next year) that many are claiming is the high point of the Marvel Cinematic universe.

Heroes For Hire

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Heroes for Hire is literally as it says on the tin, the concept started with Luke Cage the Hero For Hire, who teamed up with Iron Fist, and then various other superheroes forming heroes for hire inc.

The Invaders

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The Invaders were Marvels superteam of world war two featuring Captain America and his teenage sidekick Bucky, The original Human Torch and his teenage sidekick (sensing a pattern?) Toro, Namor The Sub Mariner, Union Jack and Spitfire. They took the fight to the axis powers and did what they could to further the allied cause, before Captain America and Bucky became frozen in the ice cold Atlantic.

Justice League

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The Justice League of America is DC’s flagship superhero team, originally formed of Batman, Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and The Martian Manhunter. The Justice League has featured almost every hero from the DC universe at some point or another. The team has enjoyed great success as a title, running almost non stop since the 1960’s, its spawned two animated tv series, various animated feature length pictures and a major motion picture is just around the corner.

Knights of Pendragon

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The team is formed to be agents of the Green Knight; a mystical entity representing the natural cycle and spiritual growth. The Knight is in ageless conflict with the Bane, an unnatural destructive force of warfare and winter, apparently led by the Red Knight, the Green Knight’s adversary. The Green Knight invests power, in the form of a possessing spirit bestowing powers, to various groups throughout British history, to protect nature; one such group were the original Knights of the Round Table; the Knights of Pendragon are a modern-day incarnation.

Legion of Superheroes

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The Legion of Super-Heroes is a fictional superhero team in the 30th and 31st centuries of the DC Comics Universe. Initially, the team was closely associated with the original Superboy, and was first portrayed as a group of time travelers who frequently visited him. In later years, the Legion’s origin and back story were fleshed out, and the group was given prominence on par with Superboy’s in a monthly comic. Eventually, Superboy was removed from the team altogether, and appeared afterwards as an occasional guest star.

Midnight Sons

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The midnight sons came together from the mystic corner of the Marvel universe, comprising of Blade, both The original and the Second Ghost Rider’s Johhny Blaze and Danny Ketch, Morbius the Living Vampire and Doctor Strange, they came together to fight threats like Vampires and Lillith the mother of demons. The team was rather short lived even though the concept was pretty cool.

Nextwave Agents of H.A.T.E

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The Nextwave series features a collection of minor Marvel superheroes: monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone; Monica Rambeau, the former Captain Marvel; Tabitha Smith, formerly of X-Force; Aaron Stack, the Machine Man; and new character the Captain, previously called Captain ☠☠☠☠ (the obscured words being so horrible that Captain America allegedly “beat seven shades of it out of [him]” and left him in a dumpster with a bar of soap in his mouth). These individuals are assembled by H.A.T.E., the Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort, to fight Unusual Weapons of Mass Destruction (U.W.M.D.s). The Nextwave team learns that H.A.T.E. is funded by the Beyond Corporation©, an organization formerly known as terrorist group S.I.L.E.N.T. As a result, the heroes leave H.A.T.E., stealing a vehicle called the Shockwave Rider. They destroy the U.W.M.D.s that the Beyond Corporation and H.A.T.E. have hidden around the United States, while being pursued by H.A.T.E. Director Dirk Anger.

Outsiders

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Originally formed by Batman The Outsiders have had three incarnations. They were founded by Batman, whose ties to the League had become strained. The Outsiders were reformed in the early 2000s by Nightwing and Arsenal after The Titans dissolved following the events of the graduation day story line, in which the heroine Donna Troy was killed by a rogue Superman android. The intention of this new team was to act as ‘hunters’, actively searching for superhuman criminals currently on the loose, rather than waiting for them to act and then responding as other super-vigilante groups often do. In its most recent formation the group’s leadership was relinquished by Nightwing to Batman, who recruited former members and newcomers. He has stated his intention to use the team as a black ops version of the Justice League, able to take the proverbial “fall” in public opinion when the League cannot. After Batman’s (apparent) death in Final Crisis, he posthumously charged Alfred Pennyworth with recruiting a new team of Outsiders for a forthcoming mission of “great importance”.

Power Pack

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Power Pack is a fictional team of comic book superheroes consisting of four young siblings who appear in books published by Marvel Comics. They were created by writer Louise Simonson and artist June Brigman and first appeared in their own series in 1984. The series lasted 62 issues. The characters have since appeared in other books. Power Pack was the first team of preteen superheroes in the Marvel Universe and the first in comics to operate without adult supervision. The title retains a cult following and in 2005 was relaunched as a title aimed at younger reader

Quantum and Woody

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Eric Henderson and Woodrow Van Chelton are adoptive brothers. After years of estrangement they are brought together by the mysterious death of their father (Woody’s foster father). They set out to find their father’s killer and, in the course of their investigation, are accidentally imbued with powers.

Runaways

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The Runaways are an interesting concept. Take the children of a group of super villains, let them inherit their superpowers, then upon discovering that their parents are murderous villains instead of doing the superhero thing and fighting them, they run away.In August 2016 Hulu ordered a pilot for a TV series based on the comic.

Suicide Squad

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Take villains and make them heroes, its a simple concept, that has made DC a fair bit of money over the last year, Suicide Squad is has been around in its current incarnation since the mid 80’s and this year has managed to become one of DC’s highest grossing cinematic releases to date.

Teen Titans

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What started out as a Justice League for teenage sidekicks has over the years evolved into one of DC’s best selling titles, spawning its own animated series and several animated features including the upcoming Justice League vs Teen Titans. Originally featuring Robin, Aqualad, Speedy and Wonder Girl the Titans have expanded to feature fan favourites such as Cyborg, Raven, Beast Boy and Starfire.

Ultimates

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The Ultimates are The Avengers, but from another universe, thats pretty much all you need to know.

V Battalion

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The group was originally a British agency formed in World War II to fight Nazis,the leader of the organization was John Watkins. However, in his superhero alter-ego, Citizen V, he was strangled to death by Baron Zemo. In time Zemo hunted down and murdered most of the original organization. Citizen V’s pregnant lover Paulette Brazee was kept in hiding to protect her and her unborn child. She would later give birth to a son named John (JJ) Watkins, Jr. In time both Paulette and JJ took up the mantle of Citizen V as well as JJ’s son John Watkins III.With the original organization destroyed, a group of Golden Age heroes choose to reconstitute the group, including Roger Aubrey (the Destroyer), Betty Barstow (Silver Scorpion), and Helmut Grueler (Iron Cross). The organization operated out of Symkaria and one of their primary missions was to hunt down Nazi war criminals. The team has constituted 2 mini series and one or two sporadic appearances over the past 20 or so years.

West Coast Avengers

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The team is founded by the Avenger Hawkeye in response to a suggestion by android and fellow Avenger the Vision, who at the time wished to expand Avengers’ influence. Hawkeye recruits Mockingbird, Wonder Man, Tigra, and War Machine, Together the team defeat a petty criminal called the Blank and later the Avengers foe Graviton. The team would later take on Henry Pym as a scientific advisor and compound manager. Due to constant in-fighting and a general lack of organization, Captain America intervenes and disbands the team. Several members of the West Coast team—including a returned Iron Man—are unhappy about the decision and leave to form another team, called Force Works.

X-men

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The X-Men were formed by Charles Xavier and his dream of peaceful coexistence between humans and the mutant race. Facing racism and fighting for survival these days the term X-Men pretty much just refers to any mutant out there, but the dream still lives on even if they fight for it. The X-men is arguably marvels biggest franchise with over 30 different ongoing titles over the last 50 years and and 9 major motion pictures (with a 10th to be released in 2017), as well as 3 pretty awesome cartoon series (with possibly the best theme tune outside of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

Young Avengers

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The Young Avengers came about after the actual avengers called it quits following the events of Avengers Disassembled. Featuring a Young Vision, the twin sons of the Scarlet Witch and (The adult) Vision, The half Skrull/ Half Kree Hulkling, and female teenage Hawkeye and a young black Captain America wannabe. They have slowly become a fan favourite, with two ongoing titles and various miniseries and one shots the Young Avengers are definitely here to stay.

Zoo Crew

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Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! (give me a break, nothing starts with z) is a DC Comics comic book about a team of funny animal superheroes called the Zoo Crew. The characters first appeared in a special insert in The New Teen Titans #16. followed by a series published from 1982 to 1983

 

 

Poppy Appeal Launch

Today was the launch of the British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. It was my privilege to attend the launch with my daughter, who now has her second poppy. It was good to hear from our local Member of Parliament and of course the Deputy Mayor of Torfaen. It was also nice to have highlighted the vital work of the British Legion.

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The British Legion do vital work to help all members of the British Armed Forces (both the regular Army and the Territorial Army, Navy, RAF and Royal Marines) as well as their families also running the poppy appeal and remembering the fallen.

I’ve always thought that the work of the British Legion was important, and it was a pleasure to help kick off this campaign.

Seeing Red (Razors) A 2000ad Review

What sounds better than making criminals pay for their crimes, by actually making them uphold the laws that they have broken? This is the concept of Red Razors. Brainwashing dangerous criminals into becoming the police force of Russia in the late 22nd century, what could go wrong?

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The series focuses on Razor’s the first of the Red Razor’s rehabilitation program, a former member of the Red Death gang, Razor’s is finally brought to Justice by Chief Judge Yeltsin, who after extensive surgery puts Razors to work cleaning up the streets of East Meg Two (the last population centre of a future Russia ravaged by nuclear war). Razors is a accompanied by his partner Ed, the talking horse.

Mark Millar (Civil War, Kick Ass) has managed to show a society that is overrun by violent crime, corruption at the highest levels, and the complete Americanisation of the world, there are lots of little nod’s and satirical references throughout, such as John Major’s Stand Up Comedy Club, the Mcburger and the Church of Elvis which left this hound dog chuckling right in the face of Armageddon and the violence that ensues, when the OAP KGB get their hands on a nuclear device supplied by a Mr Huggy Bear.

Steve Yeowell provides excellent art throughout and it really is quite well complimented by Nigel Dobbyn’s work in the second half of the book.

It was bloody, violent, shocking and managed to highlight the effects of capitalism on countries that aren’t used to such things as freedom of choice, this is why I devoured the book in one sitting and was then sad to find that that was itfor the Red Razors, hopefully one day there may be a sequel.

Aberfan: Fifty Years On

This evening I had the honour to attend a memorial service marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Aberfan Disaster. It was a very moving service paying tribute to the 116 children and 28 adults that died on that day. As you can imagine it was a very somber service, the death of just one child is an emotive issue, the death of over 100 is almost incomprehensible. It was nice to see such a big turnout, with civic dignitaries from 10 different local authorities, the police, fire and ambulance services as well as the red cross.

It was an emotional evening, but what else would you expect from what is possibly the worst man made disaster in the history of Wales.

Experiencing Early Dredd (A 2000 AD Review)

Several weeks ago I picked up 2000ad’s prog 2000, and given how new reader friendly it was, I was determined to familiarise myself with the worlds of 2000ad. To that end I purchased 3 trade paperbacks from 2000ad. I picked up Slaine: Warriors Dawn, Red Razors and Judge Dredd the Complete Case Files Volume 1.

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Judge Dredd Complete Case Files 01

Being most familiar with Judge Dredd, having seen the two film versions and having already read the Batman Judge Dredd crossovers, I dived right into Volume 1 of the Complete Case files.

Being a modern reader of mainly Marvel and DC Comics, I’m used to colour, but the early dredd’s being in black and white were still easy to read and the lack of colour actually enhanced the artwork in some respects. Not being artistically inclined I always feel like a massive dick for criticising art work, but the only downside (and not much of one at that) is that because there is a different artist each week (for practical reasons I know) I feel that the lack of continuity in terms of artwork is a little off putting at first, although once you get used to it, it does lend to the story and almost makes it seem as if Dredd’s world is being seen from many different points of view. No mention of the Artwork would be complete without mentioning the fantastic work of artist Brian Bolland (of Batman the Killing Joke fame), who to my mind stands out head and shoulders as the best artist of this volume.

 

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Brian Bolland’s Artwork

The writing flows naturally, and the dialogue feels natural, even when you factor in such things as Walter the Wobot’s (Judge Dredd’s speech impeded service droid)  massive lisp and the villainous tropes from characters such as Ricco Dredd and Call-Me-Kenneth, there are some exceptions such as Dredd’s landlady Maria (a somewhat stereotypical Italian Matriarch) and the less said about Judge Tex, the Luna Colony Deputy, the better.

These stories do paint a picture of a dystopia, struggling with overcrowding and crime and I loved every page of it, I will be investing in further volumes and you can look forward to future reviews, after reading this volume I can say that I am most definitely a converted Dredd Head and can’t wait for my next trip to Mega City One.

Father Knows Best

My daughter Marianna is an absolutely terrible child, she’s quiet, she sleeps through the night from about 7:30 through til 9:00 in the morning and she hates touching anything messy. She has an amazing vocabulary knowing over 300 words already (at the age of 21 months). She’s also wise beyond her years, in as much as she doesn’t talk to strangers. So when her speech and language development was assessed at 18 months, even though she could talk, she refused to, infuriatingly even saying goodbye the moment we closed the door on the health visitor.

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Me And Marianna

Because of this I now have to take her to Talking Tots every Tuesday, where she goes to play with other children who don’t talk, while being watched by strangers. I really don’t see how she benefits from this, her speech is fine and is probably somewhat advanced for her age (having only one child, and not wanting to have more, I have no idea whats normal).

I have found, as Marianna’s primary care giver, that I do seem to be discriminated against, health visitors and doctors will address questions and queries to her mother, even  though she is with me the majority of the time. An example that sticks in my mind is not long after Marianna was born a midwife was shocked that her mother was going back to work after three months, and that I would be looking after the baby while working from home, stating without irony that “dads can attend any mother and baby group.” Even now though no matter where I take Marianna for an appointment invariably the first words out of whoever’s mouth will be asking the location of the mother.

Maybe I’m being oversensitive, but equality goes both way. I’m just as capable as any woman at parenting, I can put together outfits that are both functional and cute as hell, I can go on the play dates and clean porridge out of my hair. I thought men were supposed to be taking more of an active role in their child’s development, but god help you if your going to try for a leading role.