Saturday, December 30, 2017

Rank and File: Supporting Casts!

Martinex1:  I've always had a liking for Foggy Nelson over in the old Stan Lee and Gene Colan Daredevil stories.  I enjoyed his upbeat approach to all situations and his general support of his partners. And most importantly I think he helped round out Matt Murdock (and Daredevil) as a character.  The fact that these two - opposites in almost every way - were best friends made the book a fun read even when Daredevil wasn't romancing Karen or tackling villains.
This got me thinking about supporting characters.   Who are the best?  And what book has the overall best supporting cast?  Try ranking your top 5 of both cast and characters.

Here are some characters that leaped to mind for me:

Superman of course had Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson.  They were so popular they even had their own comic mags.  Poor Perry White had to be a guest star!

Batman had few hangers-on as he was such a loner and so dark and brooding, but surely the iconic Robin, Alfred, and Commissioner Gordon are A-List supporting cast members.

But what of lesser known characters, like Bernie Rosenthal over in Captain America?  I think her interaction with Steve Rogers elevated the character tremendously in those years.  She rounded out and even highlighted some flaws the perfect super-soldier.

And as far as casts go, can anybody beat Spider-Man's?  From the early Steve Ditko days, the roster was nearly complete with J. Jonah Jameson, Aunt May, Flash, and the gang.   But it only got better over the years.

DC's Flash had Iris and Wally West; and the Kid-Flash sure joined in many adventures.  Perhaps the strangest thing about the Flash comic is that the Rogues were almost a supporting team.  The interaction between the hero and the villains was on a different level than others in the early Bronze Age.

Team books, because of the headcount of  headlining characters, rarely had multiple characters in supporting roles.   The Avengers had Jarvis, but the Fantastic Four had Alicia Masters, Wyatt Wingfoot, Frankie Raye, Franklin Richards, and the very infrequent Willie Lumpkin.

And of course Daredevil also had Karen Page in addition to Foggy Nelson.

Rick Jones seemed to guest star and support every loner hero in the Marvel Universe, from the Hulk, to Captain Marvel, to Captain America, the Avengers, and ROM.  But I liked him best alongside Betty and Thunderbolt Ross in the early Hulk books.

After reflection, here are my top five supporting characters followed by top five supporting casts!  Without further ado:

Martinex1's Top 5 Favorite Supporting Characters:

5) Alfred: I'm not a huge Batman fan, but I do recognize Alfred's role in both the story and the craft.
4) Rick Jones: He is not for everybody, but he has been intrinsic to the development of so many Marvel characters.
3) Bernie Rosenthal: As stated, she really made Captain America more relateable and dare I say, "likeable."
2) Foggy Nelson:  He is a nostalgic pick as I stated above.
1) J. Jonah Jameson:  I cannot imagine early Spidey's stories or development without the infernal Bugle publisher.

That was a lot harder than I thought and I could easily knock most off with a proper debate, but for now those are my top five characters.

Martinex1's Top 5 Supporting Casts:

5) The Flash: If I get to keep the Rogues as support (and I do) then they have to make the list.
4) The Fantastic Four: It is interesting that often their adversaries later become support, like the Inhumans and Silver Surfer.  That moved them up in my ranking.
3) Superman: Just because I respect their longevity - Lois. Jimmy, Perry, Lana, Ma and Pa and the rest get a nod.
2) Archie: A little curve ball here, but can you deny that Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Reggie, Moose, Dilton, and the rest aren't spectacular?
1) Spider-Man: it is hard to believe how rounded and complete the surrounding cast is for Peter Parker.  From Mary Jane to Aunt May, from Flash to Robbie, from Gwen to Betty Brant, it has been nearly perfect for a long time.

Share what you think and rank your own as well.  Don't feel you have to limit it to the characters I've listed or to particular heroes or even to Marvel and DC (there is great reasoning to think Casper or Richie Rich or Blue Beetle have the best support). We'd like to hear what you think.  Cheers!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

All in the Game: Monopoly, anyone?

Redartz:  Greetings and salutations, fellow players! As we find ourselves deep in the middle of the holiday season, we often consider family traditions and pastimes. One activity found in many families is game playing: nothing like a hearty board game on a cold wintry night (as long as snacks and refreshing drinks are part of the mix). And one of the  most perennially popular games, certainly at our house, is Monopoly. 

Most of us probably learned to play Monopoly years ago. As youth we perhaps missed the socio-political themes inherent in the game (all I knew is I wanted the railroads) - we just tried to knock everyone else out. Truth be told, Monopoly was my favorite board game for years. I was so enamored of the game that I bought a book : "1000 Ways to Win at Monopoly". There probably weren't that many winning tips in the book, but it was intriguing nonetheless. Among the advice I recall learning:  

The Orange properties are the odds-on spaces most likely to be landed upon, followed by the Red properties. 

Buying Boardwalk and Park Place aren't the best investments (although my wife often seems to win and she ruthlessly pursues those spaces).

There are many ways to make deals with opposing players, which aren't prohibited in the rules (and are thus allowed). For instance, offering a 'free land', or 'permanent free lands' on one of your spaces in exchange for cash or property. 

There were many more, but you get the idea. In college, I was notorious for Monopoly marathons. Our game group, when not playing Dungeons and Dragons, would often go for a round of Monopoly (and that real estate game can be just as lengthy as a D&D episode). When our own family began, I made a point of teaching our boys the game early. Perhaps too well; they beat me frequently (which I will blame on luck; don't you hate when your first rounding of the board results in Chance, Jail, and Income Tax while netting you zilch in the way of properties?). 

We were such a Monopoly family that we had multiple sets. As you all are probably aware, Parker Bros. never fails to miss an opportunity to tie their game to any popular bandwagon. Our sons had Star Wars Monopoly. I had the Golden Anniversary Edition, and also Spider-Man Monopoly (released in 2002).


The Spidey version remains a favorite; it's cool to see the Webslinger's rogues gallery spread out for convenient purchase! And obviously I have to identify the artist responsible for each given space. Aaaaand, I either have to use the Spider-Man piece or the Green Goblin piece...


So who else among you are Monopoly mavens? Do you have a particular edition you enjoy? Are you a relaxed player or a murderous mogul? What properties are your 'must haves'? Roll the dice and take a turn. Just remember the Railroads are mine... 


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Follow the Leader: Episode 53: Best Comic Related Presents!

Martinex1: I hope you all survived the excitement and frantic nature of the holiday; and I hope all of the family gatherings and dinners and events went well.  Let's all wind down with a nice leisurely discussion of your making... it is Tuesday after all and the usual time for Follow the Leader!  Take it away...

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas from the BitBA Team! Red and Green All Around!

Martinex1: Redartz and I wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of the BitBA visitors, lurkers, commentators, and friends!  Happy Holidays to all!! Hope the New Year is a good one for everybody!  And as always, thank you for contributing and participating all year long. 

It seems the Hulks (Red and Green) are battling over the very thing we will be discussing today.  Who has the best Christmas-colored duds?   Whose costume with the not-so-common color scheme of red and green is your favorite?  We've got champions from both DC and Marvel, so let us know what you think about the seasonal fighting togs of these heroes?

First up is 3-D Man.  Not only does he have the look, but the colors are actually related to his powers.
Or how about Mr. Miracle?  His new series is getting high marks and is flying off the shelves.  And you have to admit that his name fits the season.

 For that matter, the original Starman should definitely have a shot at the prize as he is thematically appropriate as well.

Haven't decided yet, well how about the Vision?  He's a classic in red and green!
Or how about Hawkman and Hawkgirl?   Talk about a classic team, and they have the wings which makes them particularly appropriate.

 If these Golden Agers don't grab your fancy, what do you think about Dr. Mid-Nite? He wears a costume that is a favorite of mine, and it has changed so little over the many decades.
 How can we forget the Boy Wonder - Robin?  He was one of the first to embrace the red and green!

Still fighting it out?  Who has the best red and green costume?   What do you think about these?

Wonder Man and Vision share the same brainwaves, and obviously similar fashion sense!  And in case you think we are just spotlighting heroes, there is one villain we cannot ignore... the Crimson Centipede!

 So that is the selection for the day! What do you think?  What do you have to say?  Red and Green costumes are all in play! And did your comic-loving heart grow three sizes today?  

Cheers all!

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