Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Super-Powered Web: The 8 Greatest Super-Powers of Michael Jackson

For one final time, Take the Helm will celebrate the life of Michael Jackson by looking back at his many videos and all the superhuman abilities he revealed to us in the process.

8. Iron Fist
Black Or White (original version)

Shown only in the original full length version of the video, Michael uses his vast martial arts ability to channel chi in to his fist and destroy an utterly defenseless motor vehicle. One would assume the same mystic techniques give him the ability to transform in to a panther as seen at the video’s end.

7. Group Emotion Control
Beat It

Michael shows up in the middle of a gang fight and makes short work of the sparring contestants as his mere presence is all it takes to stop the fight and convince everyone to group dance. Clearly MJ has the ability to control emotions on an outstanding level in order to exert such control.

6. Time Manipulation

In the lesser known video of MJ who not only halts the destruction caused by deforestation and war, he reverses it. He goes far as to revive a dead man in the hills of Croatia. This clearly is the most dangerous of Michael's abilities as it creates a worldwide wave of severe thunderstorms in its wake with winds powerful enough to even faze Michael. This severe weakness would seem to limit the power's usefulness in most settings.

5. Sand Control
Remember the Time

Having clearly used his time control powers to travel to ancient Egypt, Michael also reveals his ability to not only control the sand around him, but also alter his own body in to the substance, much like Marvel's Flint Marko. Unlike Sandman, Michael has the stealth and cleverness to use his powers to avoid the pharaoh's guards.

4. Teleportation
Black Or White

Supremely powerful in the Black Or White video, Michael also possesses the ability to teleport anywhere on the globe, even through flames and explosions. His abilities are instantaneous and he can do them without losing a step in his dance moves.

3. Speed Force
Smooth Criminal

Much like Wally West, Michael Jackson is clearly a master of the speed force. This can be clearly seen by not only his use of super speed but the fact that he can clearly pass the speed on to his associates. They all move so fast that we can barely see them move as they dance. All quite handy while fighting a future gestapo, or so I would suppose.

2. Light Control
Billie Jean

Michael’s every step, a flipped coin, a trash can, stairs, his every movement seems to cause the world around him to light up. He clearly can also use the power to create a flash effect, which he uses to escape a would-be P.I. He apparently can use the power to also refract the light around him, becoming invisible at will.

1. Lich King Transformation

Even in undeath, MJ possesses power beyond a mere singer. MJ proved in his arguably greatest video that even as a member of the undead he is supremely powerful. Clearly, Michael is no mere zombie but a supremely powerful lich. He not only summons dozens of undead minions but makes them perform elaborate dance moves.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Not Quite Super-Powered Fiction: Blood Groove

Alex Bledsoe does exactly what any new author wishes to do in a debut novel: he engrosses the reader in his world. Blood Groove takes an almost stale concept (vampires) and reinvigorates it by changing the setting to somewhere you would never suspect (1975 Memphis). In the process we are introduced to supernatural creatures not unlike a superhero.

The story’s lead is Baron Rodolfo Zginski, a nineteenth century vampire poorly staked and awoken again in 1975. As he explores his strange new surroundings, he quickly begins interacting with both the young vampires and the humans of modern day Memphis.

These vampires take a little bit after their Twilight brethren, but without the love and angst or the sparkles. But they do walk during the day (although severely weakened) and one even holds down a job. This creates a freeing range of motion for the characters as they interact in an ever tightening web.

Blood Groove takes its setting of Seventies-era Memphis and runs with it. Bledsoe does a perfect job of keeping the tone pitch perfect for the time period, but never lets it stomp over telling a good story.

A solid story, a great setting, and fascinating characters... Blood Groove is a great story for vampire and super-powered fiction fans alike. Check it out. Recommended.

R.I.P. Billy Mays

One last R.I.P. for a sad week around the world. Super-pitchman Billy Mays died yesterday of what doctors suspect was a brain injury. He by no means portrayed someone superheroic, but all the gadgets he peddled could give Batman a run for his money.

Here are his ten finest, as presented by his employers at As Seen on TV.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Almost Super Powered: R.I.P. Michael Jackson

A somber weekend in the household as I have been listening to and enjoying the works of the late Michael Jackson. Jackson is famed for being a life-long comic fan and was known to frequent shops until the day he died. It was just a few days ago I posted one of these for Mitsuharu Misawa. I shouldn’t have to post another one so soon.

Despite all the questions about his actions outside of entertainment (and I personally of the opinion that someone found not guilty of a crime should be given the benefit of the doubt), MJ was an amazing entertainer and he reshaped the world of entertainment across the board. No one innovated music and video the way he did, and no one ever will again.

Fifty is way too young for anyone to die. God rest his soul.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Living Legends 16 Notes

After last chapter, Isobel feels some ill effects of her late night rendevous. Look for this subplot to move forward quickly after the action in Riccapoor wraps up.

The Coward has already made an appearance in Tales of the Living Legends but it is right here that his role starts coming to the forefront of our story. Expect to see more of him in the months ahead.

Silver Streak was a rather weak character that debuted in the same title that gave us the Golden Age Daredevil. I hope to strengthen the character’s history a bit by making the name the first full-fledged legacy character of the series.

Yes, the cast is just getting bigger. AJ, Emma, and a few of these kids are an important part of the ongoing subplot featuring Dominique. More on that in future chapters.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Super-Powered Wrestling: R.I.P. Mitsuharu Misawau

I am not really all that familiar with Mitsuhara Misawa. His history in All Japan Pro Wrestling, the formation of Pro Wrestling NOAH, his rise to prominence as one of the best wrestler bookers in the world... all of it remains pretty much foreign to me. I have studied up on it recently, mostly do to the reason for this post.

Mitsuharu Misawa died last weekend. Saturday to be exact. He died in the ring after taking a belly to back suplex that caused spinal trauma. He was only 46.

Misawa will be a future subject of mine, as the cross pollination of my interests in superheroes and wrestling have lead me to review the career of the four wrestlers who have worn the Tiger Mask. Misawa was the second of these men to wear the mask, active in the second half of the nineties under the mask. It will still come to fruition, both on my super-powered and wrestling blogs, but it will remain down the line a bit.

Virtually unknown in America, Misawa is still a wrestling legend, especially among the so-called “smart” fans and professional wrestlers themselves. His legacy is a large one. His shoes will be impossible to fill. Tiger Mask or just a man, Mitsuharu Misawa was larger than life.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Super-Powered Web: Gundam at Night

Sit back and enjoy the relaxing image of a 60 foot tall giant robot at night. Sometimes the world is just a great place to live in, isn’t it?

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Flag-Smasher may not like it, but...

Happy Flag Day, Folks!

Flag Smasher © Marvel Comics

Friday, June 12, 2009

Super-Powered Web: It's Real, We're all Doomed!

Yep, that is a full, life-size (fifty-nine feet tall) Gundam right there. We are all going to die!

No, wait, supposedly, it doesn’t work. Except for lights and a moving head. I am sure Kim Jong-Il is breathing a sigh of relief right now.

Just to be safe, it would probably be best if the US military gets started on building the Exosquad: Season 1 immediately. Has J.T. Marsh even been born yet? Let’s hope so.

And sure, they were designed to fight in outer space against Martian super-men whose cause was just (although their decision to commit human genocide not-so-much). But I’m thinking that even a unit of like five to ten exo-suits can take out one Gundam. Besides that model Gundam has been obsolete for a good thirty years or so, ever since 0079.

Thanks to this site for the Gundam and this site for the Exo-Squad toy image.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Flood of '08: Looking Back

It’s been one year now since my base of operations, Cedar Rapids, IA, was hit by one of the worst natural disasters in the country’s history. It seems hard to believe so much time has past. In a lot of ways, the city has recovered admirably; in a lot of others, not so much.

A little less than a year ago, downtown Cedar Rapids looked like this:

This was the parking garage across the street from our old call center, and was actually taken somewhere around the Monday or Tuesday after the flood, several feet below the levels they reached the previous week.

I’ve been working my call center job for a year now in an old bed store. It is not exactly the best accommodations, but the company is slowly but surely working on a new facility. Honestly, I don’t have it nearly as bad as hundreds of others who are still waiting for government buyouts on their houses. It is a mess, and honestly it saddens me just how much a bureaucratic mess our leadership on the local, state, and federal levels has become.

Even so, it could have been worse. Iowans have a history of coming together in tragedy, and we did that admirably last June. That unity can still be seen in rebuilding efforts across the state.

So, I will join in commemorating the loss of property, life, and pursuit of happiness that occurred a year ago. And I will continue to show my support, just as I will encourage everyone else to give. Here’s a simple way. A local radio station has produced an MP3 that sets some of the news coverage from the station to music. “Devastation” can be listened to at the site, but if you download it for the ridiculously low price of 99 cents, every ounce of that money gets donated to local relief organizations. It’s not often you can help humanity for less than a dollar and get an interesting piece of history in the process.

Like him or not, I think President Bush summed up the situation perfectly in his own rambling way when he visited the devastation in mid-June: “Often times you get dealt a hand you don’t expect to play and the question is not whether your going to get dealt that hand the question is how you’re going to play it and I’m confident the people of Iowa will just play it really well.”

Thanks for reading.

Super-Powered Web: It's Whiplash!

From USA Today here is Mickey Rourke from Iron Man 2. And it is official: he isn’t Crimson Dynamo; he is the coolest Iron Man villain ever: Whiplash!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Out For Vengeance 2 Notes

With this chapter I start to develop the strange design of New Salem. Inspired by a few fantasy elements I have read in the past, I was inspired to design a city that grows upward do the geographical features surrounding it.

I like the Citadel, shame what I did to it in this story. Don’t worry though, it seems like a hero such as Vengeance will have to establish a base of operations somewhere.

Don’t mess with the Dapper Gentleman. That’s one mean old guy!

The subplot with our mystery villain will be a slow burn, but I do plan on making Vengeance the first character I really develop a rogues gallery for. Expect several new characters to be debuting in the next few months!

Be sure to give thoughts on comments on the story here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Super-Powered Prose: Enemies & Allies by Kevin J. Anderson

Perhaps it was bad timing for me to read Enemies & Allies just a few days after finishing DC: The New Frontier. The New Frontier is a work of artistic genius while Enemies & Allies is a novel by Kevin J. Anderson. Let’s be honest: Mr. Anderson is not the best writer in the world. While not talentless, he has made a name for himself producing average-at-best, hack work at worst.

I read his previous Superman-related work Last Days of Krypton a few months back. While not a bad novel, it is basically just an average science fiction yarn. Nothing really superhero oriented about it other than the pedigree of the lead.

Enemies & Allies, on the other hand, tells the story of the first meeting between Superman and Batman. The novel draws comparisons with The New Frontier for one major reason: a shared time period. For whatever reason, Anderson set his novel in the late fifties as the space and arms races both heat up between the United States and the Soviets.

One of the first things I noticed is how this isn’t really a Batman novel at all. This is a Superman story, and Batman plays a supporting role. Lois Lane gets an equal page count to the Caped Crusader as does the story’s sole villian: Super-nemesis Lex Luthor. No room for any of a dozen Batman villains here. Not a one. Alfred does make a few brief appearances, but for the most part, Batman is treated as a cast member more for his business rivalry with Luthor than anything else.

The story basically revolves around Lex Luthor’s attempt to manipulate both the USA and the USSR in to helping him in his quest to bring down Superman. This plot takes the form of a secret Soviet gulag and specially designed flying saucers. If it all sounds a little silly, that’s probably because it is. The story isn’t really bad; for a writer as lackluster as Anderson, it’s actually pretty good. But you don’t come away from it with any feeling of satisfaction. It feels as empty as a mid-sixties issue of World’s Finest, without any of the fun. Part of me wonders if they thought they could follow up Tom DeHaven’s It’s Superman (which I will get around to reviewing soon) with any old writer and have just as good a book. They were very, very wrong.

One last gripe: whenever we had Superman chapters, we constantly see him referred to as Kal-El. Not only does it get rather old, it strikes me as false. While I think Superman might think of himself as Superman, usually his mind would go back to the identity he holds truest: Clark Kent. I really don’t think Kal-El would play in to his mind that much.

All in all, Enemies & Allies is an okay, if mechanical look at a first meeting between two iconic characters. It could be better, but I’m sure it could also be much much worse. In my generosity, I will say that’s enough to give this book a Mild Recommendation but only if you are a big fan of one or both the characters.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Super-Powered Web: Super-Fails

That's jsut the beginning. You can see more of these freaks right here.

And you might then want to explore Funny Old Planet a little more. Never know when you will run in to a Hamster Assassin: