Marvel’s Lovebirds – Elizabeth Ross and The Hulk

Marvel's Lovebirds

Despite the anger issues that have largely consumed the life of the Jolly Green Giant, true love has entered his existence in the form of Elizabeth Ross, the daughter of Air Force General Thaddeus Ross.

The two lovebirds developed a strong attraction for each other after they began working on a top secret Gamma Bomb project in New Mexico. Of course, this project was controlled by Thaddeus, who disliked the fact that a quiet, lanky scientist was falling in love with his daughter. Upon Banner’s exposure to the gamma rays – you know, super hero origin stuff – Betty stuck by his side and supported him in any way she could.

|| THE WEDDING CRASHERS, PART 1 ||

Her affection for Banner was evident and wedding bells were soon to be heard. Surprisingly enough, Betty’s father even provided his blessings. Combine that with the fact that Banner found a way to keep his Hulk persona at bay, things were looking extremely good for the young couple. However, hijinx ensued shortly after. It always does when super heroes and weddings are involved.

An old foe of Banner’s known as The Leader created a machine that had the ability to revert Banner back to his savage Hulk state. He used it on him during the couple’s first shot at a wedding. He then also let loose a stupid villain called the Rhino, who lost against the Hulk in an earlier fight, in hopes of him actually eliminating the Hulk for good.

The Incredible Hulk, 124 | 1970

The Incredible Hulk #124 | 1970

The Hulk defeated Rhino, but only after destroying everything around him and succumbing to the beast inside. Thaddeus got hit in the head too by falling debris. Understandably, Betty was devastated, but things just got worse.

|| GLEN TALBOT AND HARPY ||

Thaddeus’ security chief Glen Talbot became Betty’s rebound guy after Banner fell in love with Jarella, a queen from the sub-atomic world of K’ai. Jarella placed a spell on the Hulk that allowed the Banner personality to rise up and once again take control. Jarella accepted the Hulk for who he was. The two were in love, but Jarella unfortunately died while trying to save a boy from being crushed under a falling building.

hulk sad

Meanwhile, Talbot embarked on rescue mission to save Thaddeus who had been captured by the Gremlin, also known as Titanium Man. It was incorrectly reported that Talbot had died in the rescue. Betty had a nervous breakdown as a result, but the bad news didn’t stop there, as she was kidnapped by that scumbag of an organization known as A.I.M and was infused with an unholy amount of gamma radiation that turned her into the monster known as Harpy. Following several battles with the Hulk, Betty was eventually cured of her Harpyness.

Harpy

Harpy

|| WEDDING CRASHERS, PART 2 ||

The lovebirds tried to get married again, but their wedding was interrupted by Betty’s silly father who showed up with a gun and started terrorizing the place. Banner kept his cool and it was Betty this time, who handled the situation, telling her father how he’s controlled her for most of her life and that it was time for him to not be an idiot. Thaddeus complied, the wedding proceeded and they lived happily ever …

|| BETTY DIES ||

Being in close contact with someone who has a butt load of gamma radiation surging through their body is bad for you. Betty discovered the poisoning was taking its toll, so Banner invented a cure using his own blood. The Hulk’s ultimate nemesis, the Abomination, sneakily swapped Banner’s blood sample with his own before the transfusion. Betty’s condition worsened and soon after, she died.

hulk sad

 || BETTY TURNS INTO RED SHE-HULK ||

Following a complicated series of revitalizations, Betty returned as the mysterious Red She-Hulk. Her true identity wasn’t revealed until a sword pierced her body in the midst of a large-scale battle in New York between several characters closely tied to the Hulk, one of whom was Hulk’s son, Skaar. She unwillingly transformed back into Red She-Hulk before the wounds proved fatal and therefore healed herself in no time.

Hulk and Betty now share a complicated relationship, one that is largely occupied by the fact that both Banner and Betty now have a monstrous half residing within them. Trying to balance their power and responsibilities with their personal lives has proven difficult for the two. Though marriage doesn’t seem to be an option for them anymore, Betty Ross and Bruce Banner continue to be there for each other despite the overwhelming power they struggle to control.

Incredible Hulk #609 | 2009

Incredible Hulk #609 | 2009

Saskatoon Expo photo gallery

Other Published Work, Photography

Photos from the first annual Saskatoon Comic & Entertainment Expo.

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Apologies for the lack of microphones or intros. I just wanted to catch some of Su’s thoughts on video, but you can check out a much more extensive Q&A with Su here.

I also wrote a story about the the comic book culture in Saskatchewan, a theme that directly ties into the expo.

The entire weekend was a blast. The expo is certainly something I’ll be attending next year.

Reboot, Reboot, CG animation and more Reboot | A chat with Jim Su

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I had the chance to speak with Jim Su,  a professional illustrator and CGI artist. After graduating from Sheridan College for Computer Animation, he was hired by Mainframe Entertainment in 1999 as a CGI modeler. As he points out, many recognize him for his work with the popular Reboot series. He is currently the president of Beach Creative Studios Inc. and has worked on some mega block busters including Captain America: Winter Soldier and Wolf of Wallstreet, where he largely performed the role of rigging supervisor.

We talked about a variety of things including the development of CG animation, Reboot in comic book form and the general passion surrounding the beloved series. Though he isn’t involved with any potential revitalization of Reboot, which may or may not be coming from Rainmaker Entertainment Inc., he had some interesting things to say.

He will be at the Saskatoon Comic Expo this weekend, and so will I. Muahaha. More content to come.

Were you at the Saskatoon Comic Expo last year?

 

No I wasn’t. I went to the Regina Fan Expo earlier this year, that was the first time I set foot in Saskatchewan actually. It was great, I was surprised with the turnout. It was the inaugural show in Regina and the show was a success from a financial standpoint, which is partially why I wanted to jump on the expo in Saskatoon. I’m starting to branch off to do these smaller shows outside of Toronto and Montreal because I sell the Reboot art book and posters, and Reboot has this cult following in Canada. It seems like wherever I go to show these books off it’s met with a very positive reaction and good sales. People will come up to me, flip through some of my stuff, glance over pretty much everything but then they see Reboot and go “What?! you worked on Reboot. I love that show!”

 

I understand while you were growing up you were a big fan of Reboot. How did it feel being able to work on something you loved as a kid once you began working in graphic design/modeling?

 

That was pretty exciting because when I started working at Mainframe I think it was pretty much understood that Reboot was finished after Season Three. They were able to however, arrange for what I sometimes call a bonus season, and being assigned as the modeling lead on Reboot Season Four was just an exciting time and an honour. I knew its place in history back then already, but little did I know how much of a cult reaction there was in Canada. I think shortly after Season Four was finished, I pitched a comic book internally at Mainframe for Reboot. I didn’t have any data to gauge how big Reboot was with fans but later on when I left Mainframe I discovered how big it was and that’s why I pitched the art book to Rainmaker.

 

Do you still think there’s potential for a comic book surrounding Reboot?

 

Absolutely. I think – without revealing any plans Rainmaker has – a comic book is always a way we could tie up loose ends from the original series. Budget wise, it’s a lot cheaper than creating an animated show. Also, there’s been some precedence for that. I believe Buffy had its last season in comic book form which was written by Joss Whedon. I think it’s definitely possible in that sense.

 

Aside from the fact that the series is left wide open for more Reboot-related stories to be told, what is it about the source material that makes it an attractive project to tell stories in comic book form?

 

I think the strength of Reboot is no longer about its graphics. Although it still has this quirkiness in its visuals that people seem to still love, it truly is about the story that its creators crafted. Reboot was ahead of its time for North American animation because because of its longer story arcs, which people in Japan were used to. North American animation was generally comprised of episodic stories that wrapped up after each episode, that has changed today, but back then it wasn’t like that. When Reboot started, it stayed very true to North American animation storytelling, but then it started to develop this long story arc in Season Three, which lends itself very well to comic books.

Were you ever frustrated that the show ended on such a cliffhanger? And do you have ideas that you’d like to somehow see implemented within the Reboot universe?

 

I wasn’t frustrated at the time because we were slated to do three movies and we only got to do two – My Two Bobs and Daemon Rising – but even the creators back then Gavin Blair and Ian Pearson thought there was always going to be another season. They never thought that would be the end but there was never any real guarantee that the show would be renewed for another season, and that goes for any TV show really. But in the case of Reboot, these seasons came out years after the previous one, so there was never any regularity or consistency with the seasons of Reboot and so I wasn’t frustrated about that. However, it has been a long time, over 10 years, since Season Four finished up and the amazing thing is the strength of the show. It really shows because people still recall it vividly, and I think it’s reinforced by the fact that it was continually played on reruns after it was cancelled.

 

Is cosplay a big part of that dedication to the series?

 

It absolutely is. During the first convention I brought Gavin Blair to a fan expo, which I believe was in 2007 or 2008, and when fans got word of Gavin appearing, they did an entire cosplay show with pretty much everyone from the Reboot cast. They reenacted the guitar battle at the Fan Expo masquerade on Saturday night. They won best in the show and the cosplay was top notch. I mean, they had Captain Capacitor, Phong. I see a couple fans at every show I go to dressed up as people from Reboot, which is really cool.

 

When you started working with Reboot, what were some of the things you wanted to bring to the table? Do you think you succeeded?

 

One cool thing I wanted to work on was an update in the graphics, and that wasn’t just me spearheading it, a lot of people were involved. I got to work on the super viruses, so Daemon and Daecon, and you got to see an upgrade in the modeling, the facial development was more advanced. They were a little more up to date versus the general cast of Reboot. There were other people trying to make the facial developments of the other characters more advanced, but one of the things Gavin didn’t like was, because we were trying to upgrade the facial systems of the characters, they didn’t quite act look like what fans had known to that point. The more advanced they got, the less they felt like the characters from Season One.

 

It’s the same type of argument you can make with Yoda. You had the Jim Henson puppet that everybody loves and then when they had the prequel they had this full CG Yoda in the Phantom Menace. Fans were like, ‘that’s not Yoda’ and in the next two films they regressed it and gave him more of that puppeteer facial system. That’s one of the interesting things about Reboot is that you really saw the CG progression from Season One to Season Four. In Season One, there wasn’t even any shadow casting and by the fourth season there was. Even the rendering, the software we used changed from Season Two to Season Three, so you saw a huge leap in the rendering quality. I’m sure Reboot would have progressed the same way in future seasons, with updates and new graphics. That’s kind of what Mainframe did. It’s also hard to keep the old graphics as well. (Laughs) We can’t just dust off what we used 20 years ago and make it run. Even if Rainmaker were to complete the series today they would have a hard time achieving the same look the show had 10 years ago. Everything would be updated.

 

Was the rapid development of graphics in the Reboot series a reflection of how fast graphics are progressing within the industry in general, or is it more of a testament to Mainframe’s dedication to Reboot at the time?

 

I think its more of a reflection of how quickly things change. I’ve been in the CG industry for 15 years now and it’s just constantly evolving. As an artist and a technician I constantly have to keep up to date with what’s going on in the field. For instance, the stuff that I do now in feature films, is night and day compared to what I did in television years ago.

 

 What’s it been like working on movies with big ties to pop culture?

 

It’s cool, I mean I am working on these movies and contributing to pop culture but I’m just a small cog in the process. It’s still nice to say that I worked on Captain America, Tron Legacy or Resident Evil. It’s fun working on these tent pole movies that nearly everyone walking into a convention has seen.

 

When you watch a movie, would you rather see actors push physical limits as far as they can, or have 3D animation or some kind of special effect step in and be implemented even when the possibility of an actor performing those stunts is still possible?

 

That’s a good question. I think there are a lot of times in this day and age when an actor is not allowed to perform certain stunts. It’s just written in their contracts, the actor can’t do a certain thing. So it’s not necessarily about an actor’s limits, in fact, a lot of the time during our CGI process we’re replacing a stunt actor’s face with the actor’s face. You’re seeing two different people and that happens a lot. Sometimes, they just don’t like the actor’s performance, the actor couldn’t pull it off. We’ll then use CG to enhance the performance either by integrating some CG with the actor’s performance or completely removing the actor entirely with the exception of his or her face. There’s a lot of that going on. A lot of the stunts Mila Jovovich did in Resident Evil, we replaced her entire body so all that was left was her hair or her face. Her face could be projected on an actual CG surface, which is kind of neat. There are several different options.

 

What is your advice for anyone trying to enter the post-production field? Would that advice have been different 10 years ago?

 

I think the most important advice wouldn’t change from a decade ago and today, and that is the fact that it’s still an art form and you need to learn the art fundamentals such as human anatomy, usually for a modeler, animator, or in my position a character TD (technical director). You still need to know your anatomy and you should be strong, or at least disciplined, in illustration and sculpting. There’s usually a lot of competition for any given position, so your artistic talents are still the deciding factors for you getting a job. That hasn’t changed. However, today there seems to be a new epicentre for where you can get these jobs. You can’t just freelance from your home in Saskatoon, unless you’re in pre-production working as a character designer, but if you want to work on the actual post-production on a movie, generally speaking, in this country, these jobs are in Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal so you have to be willing to move to those cities. Even though the work I do is in the digital realm, CG, the traditional skills are still just as important. They form the foundation for any work that you’re going to do digitally.

 

There is also less of a barrier when it comes to entering the software aspect of the work, so while maybe 20 years ago the artists that were working on Pixar or Mainframe projects were more technologically inclined, that’s not the case anymore today. The best CGI modelers today who are going to get those jobs are the ones that are talented in a traditional sense. It’s definitely a competition for natural talent, not just talent when it comes to the operation of software, although, that is still important. You can’t just walk in being an oil painter and not have any exposure to the computer software and think you can be the best in that sense. There’s still a balance, but traditional talent still trumps all.

I got paid to write about Spider-Man! Weeee!

CG Magazine

This is a little late – I’ve been extremely busy the past few weeks with, well I guess the shortest way to put it is life, I’ll explain in greater detail in another post, nothing bad I assure you – but if you’re looking to read some interesting stuff on the go about comics and video games, check out CG Magazine’s digital issue for this month.

I had the opportunity to write about Spider-Man, specifically how stories surrounding the web slinger for the past few years were growing a little stale, that is until the recent Superior Spider-Man series written by Dan Slott rejuvenated this iconic character.

I spoke to Cameron Stannard, a huge Spider-Man fan and the manager of the Silver Snail in Toronto, who shared his feelings regarding Dan Slott, the Superior series, and older Spidey stories that were contributing to the character’s downfall.

Marvel’s Lovebirds – Clea and Doctor Strange

Marvel's Lovebirds

The Master of Magic found his eventual lover after his initial confrontation with the demon Dormammu.

Stephen Vincent Strange, former neurosurgeon, and the primary protector of Earth against magical and mystical threats, set his sights on the Dark Dimension when Dormammu threatened to destroy Strange’s old mentor, the Ancient One, and enter the Earth realm.

Dormammu Art by: El-Tortuga (Andrew) deviantart

Dormammu
Art by: El-Tortuga (Andrew) deviantart

During the conflict, Clea, the niece of the demonic tyrant, watched from behind the scenes, observing the bravery Dr. Strange put on display. Simply entering the Dark Dimension is a move one would consider a fatal mistake. Dormammu was eventually defeated and forced to never enter Earth Realm again. Strange also made him swear to never harm Clea, who was the daughter of the demon’s sister Umar, and often exposed to harm when the two siblings were engaged in conflict.

Following the abduction of the Ancient One, who Dormammu used as a bargaining chip to reel in Dr. Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme was once again thrust into the Dark Dimension. This time, Clea assisted Dr. Strange by removing the barrier which contained the Mindless Ones – faceless, practically mindless creatures who can be summoned via magic to do the bidding of others –  and ordered them to wreak havoc within the Dark Dimension to keep Dormammu busy. Enraged by his eventual defeat at the hands of Doctor Strange, alongside his niece’s betrayal, Dormammu banished Clea from the Dark Dimension, and over time, she joined Dr. Strange on Earth.

Dr. Strange extended Clea’s knowledge of the mystical arts, and together they defended Earth against Dormammu and other villains on several occasions. Their love for each other flourished, despite Clea’s trouble at times adjusting to her new surroundings on Earth. Eventually, the two joined forces to lead a rebellion in the Dark Dimension against her mother, who had claimed royalty over the realm. The two lovebirds defeated Umar, and Clea claimed the throne. A short time into her reign, Dr. Strange and Clea were married in the Dark Dimension.

Clea and Dr.Strange talk about their relationship

Master of the Mystic Arts # 45
Clea and Dr.Strange talk about their relationship

Though the two have distanced themselves apart recently, mostly due to Clea’s duties within the Dark Dimension, their love was, and still is, undeniable. Clea, an entity who is as mysterious as the mystical arts Dr. Strange indulges in, is quite possibly the only woman for the Master of Magic.

Marvel’s Lovebirds – Deadpool and Death

Marvel's Lovebirds

Easily one of the most bizarre love stories in the Marvel universe, these two are the very definition of bittersweet. Wade Wilson, the former mercenary turned government operative, turned sumo wrestler, turned anti-hero, had a few relationships before falling in love with Death itself. To this day however, it is Death who still tugs at the heartstrings of the “Merc with a Mouth”.

After being rejected from the Weapon X program (a government genetic research facility in Canada that creates living weapons), Wilson was sent to a government facility where failed superhuman operatives were treated, and often tortured. Following a series of horrific experiments organized by the deranged Dr. Killebrew, Wilson was on the verge of death, and as a result, came in contact with the abstract entity, who looked upon the damaged mutant as a kindred spirit. Fueled by his new found love, and thirst for revenge, Wilson escaped the facility, took on the name of Deadpool and for the most part, embraced the role of a freelance mercenary.

Since their first encounter, Death and Deadpool have met on several occasions, only to have their meetings cut short due to Deadpool’s healing factor. Knowing she can never have his soul due to the fact that Deadpool cannot die, she continues to look upon the loud-mouth mercenary with great interest, and shares a serious romantic bond with him. On the flip side, Deadpool’s ongoing quest to find a way to remove his healing factor, in order to die and join Death, lingers on.

Comic page from Deadpool #50

Comic page from Deadpool #50, April 2012

Interestingly enough, Deadpool is not the only one madly in love with Death. The crazed titan known as Thanos, fell so hard in love with Death after their first meeting, that he pledged to destroy the universe in order to please her. Nearly all of his activities since then have been done in order to win her over. He is obviously not too pleased with the fact that Death is in love with Deadpool, and not him.

This is a short clip from the Deadpool game – which despite its shortcomings in the gameplay department, is still really fun and often hilarious – which shows Death and Deadpool sharing a dance after being reunited for a brief period of time. These two lovebirds are in it for the long run.

Deadpool (game)

Developed by: High Moon Studios

Produced by: Activision

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Featured image by: AngryRabbitGmoD | Deviant Art

Bloody Debut: The Witcher takes over comics

CG Magazine

The Witcher series is entering the comic book world. Dark Horse Comics has teamed up with writer Paul Tobin and artist Joseph Querio to make a series of comics based on the popular Witcher role-playing games. Here’s a story on CGmagonline.com about why the Witcher was chosen as a concept for a comic, and how video game related comics are able to expand a universe and the characters within them.

Comic lovers in Hanover are growing

Other Published Work

Comics have been introduced to the Giddy Goblin hobby store in Hanover, Ontario. I talked to the owner Jennifer Heerema to see what motivated her to introduce them, to which she answered, kids. As a result I talked to a librarian from town to see how interested kids really are in comics and graphic novels. The answer is, they’re extremely interested. Here’s a link to the story.