The X-Factor; Designer Superhero Workout Training Tips and Advice

Greetings true believers

With the new series of articles on Designer Superhero Workouts just beginning; I thought it only wise to give you some handy tips and advice to help you get the most from your workouts.

That’s right, beloved reader, today we learn from that diverse gang of Super Heroes, the X-Men. Thus, Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor will be sciencing you upside the head mutant style.

So what can we learn from these genetically mutated folk?

We can learn a lot of handy training tips and tactics from these diverse and over-the-top politically correct chaps.

Periodization

What’s this periodization business? 

Periodization can be defined as a system for program design that plans appropriate cycles and training phases. The system used in the Designer Superhero Workouts.

The human machine, being what it, is an incredibly adaptive organism; quickly responding to its input. You lift heavy you get strong. You stretch you’ll get flexible. You run for hours upon hours per day, you will have improved cardiovascular endurance.

But because it adapts to the input, it will become complacent, thus reducing the results. When this happens things need to be switched around a bit, to ‘shock’ the body into having to adapt again, producing new results. Do you think the X-Men do the same training day in day out in the danger room? Nope.

It has been time and time again proven for success in achieving training goals and has a track record of over 50 years of development. Research has confirmed that periodization has the ability to produce significantly better results than straight set training or normal progression type training. Michael JordanMuhammad AliUsain Bolt, Babe Ruth, Tiger woods, and Bruce Lee have all used this wonderful training tactic. It also provides the ultimate training log. Looking back on a year’s periodized training will really give clarity on how much you have accomplished over that time.

Program Design

This represents a periodized table of progression, working up to a competition.

Any good training programme should be considered as ongoing and therefore broken down into calendar based blocks of time based periods that usually termed as ‘cycles’.

During each cycle prioritize working on the attributes which will benefit the athlete. Within these cycles we have Macrocycles, planning the overall outline of the program and commonly lasting for three-month periods, give or take, depending on the individual athlete’s goals.

Macrocycles are then, in turn, broken down again into smaller more manageable segments called Mesocycles.

Training Phases

These are the Mesocycles, which enable the athlete to efficiently track their progress, maybe reassess their goals if necessary and tailor the routine to suit and desired changes; such as training tactics, nutrition, intensity etc. The cycles run from 3 to 12 weeks, but great yields can result from longer or shorter periods, dependant upon genetics, muscle fibre composition and already established attribute levels. A 3 to 8 week Mesocycle suits most people.

Hypertrophy phase: During this is the phase for the athlete will be most effective hitting a rep range between strength training and endurance training; that will stimulate all the different fibre types, thus, the greatest overall hypertrophy.

Hugh Jackman preparing to do some heavy squats for a hypertrophy phase.

Strength / power phases: Characterised by extremely high levels of intensity, all-out short distance sprints, lifting extremely heavy but for very low reps or a three-minute round in the boxing ring.

The easiest transition between phases is from strength to power; gradually decrease the reps from the usual 8 down to a range of 1 to 6, whilst also removing some exercises to really focus on the core movements for power: such as barbell squats, deadlifts,  bench press, bent-over barbell rows, military press etc.

Endurance phase: This phases consists of lower intensity but higher-volume workouts. Muscular and cardiovascular endurance will be the primary focus. It also functions as an experimental phase of sorts.

If there are new exercise techniques that need to be introduced, this is the phase for it. Given the low intensity, (weight usually), gives the athlete the opportunity to master them, the added repetitions required for the high-volume element.

Transitional phase: This is the transitional phase, to morph one phase into another. For example:gradually bringing the reps up when moving from a strength phase to an endurance phase, and visa versa.

Swimming is a fine example of ‘active rest’. I’m sure there are rules about adamantium claws in the swimming pool though.

Active rest: On ‘rest’ days it can sometimes be a good idea to get  what is known as ‘active rest’, keeping you geared up athletically but recreationally.

Body-weight Exercises

Hank McCoy demonstrates the value of bodyweight exercises.

If you wish to attain Beast-like agility, then add body-weight exercises as often as possible, like chin ups, pull-ups and bodyweight dips. When you can add extra resistance to those, you’ll be able to perform great feats of agility.

It’s common sense; let’s say you perform jumping squats whilst holding 2 dumbbells; when you get rid of the extra weight of the dumbbells, your jump height will be significantly higher.

You can also add a flexibility routine. A greater range of movement will facilitate greater dexterity.  

Break it down and rebuild it

BAMF!

When Nightcrawler teleports, all of the atoms in his body disassemble, pass through another plane of existence, then reassemble at another point in space and time.

A similar process is occurring in your skeletal muscle when you are working out, the exertion of the training breaks the muscle down, actually damaging the tissue. The body then reacts to this by re-growth geared toward the new input.

This anabolic process occurs when you are resting and eating, that’s when the cells get reassembled. Once the skeletal muscle has been nicely broken down, even they haven’t travelled through another plane of existence, we still need to put them back together.

Thus we need . . .

SNIKT!

“Recovery bub”

The sooner one can recover from a training session, the sooner one can train again, speeding up the results. That’s simple for Wolverine; he regenerates. It doesn’t matter how much he gets cut, smashed, pummelled, drinks or smokes; he never takes any lasting or permanent damage or even gains a scar.

So, bereft of mutant powers how can we get recovering at such a rate?

Protein: Already covered this in ‘The Asgardian Power-House‘, but a little more detail couldn’t hurt. Get plenty of it, from high quality sources. The reason for this is that the building blocks of protein are called amino acids, and they all have a different and vital function.

Human protein is formed from 20 amino acids that are found within proteins.  Alanine, Arginine, Asparagine, Aspartic acid, Cysteine,  Glutamic acid, Glutamine, Glycine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Proline, Serine Threonine,  Tryptophan, Tyrosine and Valine.

Humans can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids. The others must be supplied in the food. Failure to obtain enough of even 1 of the 10 essential amino acids, those that we cannot make, results in degradation of the body’s proteins—muscle and so forth—to obtain the one amino acid that is needed. Unlike fat and starch, the human body does not store excess amino acids for later use—the amino acids must be in the food every day.

Non-Essential amino acids: The 10 amino acids that are essential, those that can be converted by the liver from other nutrients are; alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine. Tyrosine is produced from phenylalanine, so if the diet is deficient in phenylalanine, tyrosine will be required as well.

Essential amino acids: Are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. This means we must consume them and / or supplement them in our diets. Supplementation may be the only option for some of these if you’re vegetarian and the only option if you happen to be vegan.

Glutamine

This is the stuff I’m talking about, the very brand that yours truly uses. It’ll have you recovering like Wolverine.

We’re going to focus on one really important one for regeneration. Glutamine plays a role in a variety of biochemical functions, including: Protein bio-synthesis, as any other of the proteinogenic amino acids, regulation of acid-base balance in the kidney by producing ammonium, nitrogen donation for many anabolic processes including the synthesis of purines, carbon donation, as a source, refilling the citric acid cycle, nontoxic transporter of ammonia in the blood circulation.

Basically, whenever your body needs to make a repair, glutamine is the primary amino acid it goes to for most reparation chores. When any part of your body needs healing, say from a cut, recovery from a hangover or even sleep deprivation, it’s glutamine that gets used, and a great majority is extracted straight from the skeletal muscles. Unless there is some spare via supplementation. There aren’t many supplements worth spending your hard-earned or hard-stolen cash on but glutamine is without doubt one of them, get it in powdered form, for ease of absorption.

Sleep

Most of us don’t get anywhere near enough sleep, the regeneration magic happens then But when we are so busy in our daily lives with those vile afflictions known as day jobs, those wondrous affairs called social lives and those horrors we address as responsibilities; sleep is the first thing Sleep deprivation can have a big impact on our metabolism; slowing it down and hoarding fat and not getting enough sleep slows glucose metabolism by as much as 30 to 40 percent, causing even more fat gain. EEK

Eve Van Cauter, PhD , from the University of Chicago Medical School, studied the effects of three different durations of sleep in eleven men aged 18 to 27.

For the first three nights of the study, the men slept eight hours per night; for the next six nights, they slept four hours per night; for the last seven nights, they slept 12 hours per night. Results showed that after four hours of sleep per night, they metabolized glucose least efficiently. Levels of cortisol were also higher, which has been linked to memory impairment, age-related insulin resistance, and impaired recovery in athletes.

Van Cauter said that after only one week of sleep restriction, young, healthy males had glucose levels that were no longer normal and showed a rapid deterioration of the body’s functions. This reduced ability of the body to manage glucose is similar to those found in the elderly. This study shows that sleep deprivation can negatively impact physiology that is critical for athletic performance — glucose metabolism and cortisol status.

While no one completely understands the complexities of sleep, this does indicates that sleep deprivation can lead to decreased activity of human growth hormone (which is active during tissue repair), and decreased glycogen synthesis.

Psylocke demonstrates sleeping. Never mind showing off all the psychic abilities and martial skills, eh?

So how much sleep is required?

It going to differ from person to person, but the general consensus is 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, more for is required for athletes due to greater physical exertion. A minimum of 6, preferably 7, and if you’re raining hard 8 to 9 hours.

Some of our genes act as internal clocks and release hormones according to cycles called circadian rhythms, which are triggered by darkness and light and alternate over 24-hour periods. When we mess with these rhythms by not getting enough sleep, our metabolism of glucose declines, and our level of cortisol increases. Further, sleeping for long stretches is naturally anabolic.

During deep sleep, our bodies release growth hormone, which stimulates the healing and growth of muscle and bone. So while it’s possible to push through a lack of sleep during any one day, proper sleep helps athletes by boosting areas of performance that require cognitive function, reaction time, hand-eye coordination and of course it aids recovery from grueling workouts.

Anything else? It is a pretty big team to learn from

Use your mind.

The mind-muscle-connection

Great things can be accomplished with strong focus, concentration and visualisation. A technique utilised by many athletic pros to maximize muscle and performance. By developing a strong ‘mind-muscle connection’ ,this connection is made by visualizing the muscle being trained and focusing on the feeling of it working through its complete range of motion during each rep.

When applying the technique don’t think about where you feel the muscular stimulus, think about where you’re supposed to feel the stimulus. For example; during press ups the muscle that should be shifting all the weight are the pectoralis major, but a lot of people end up focusing too much on the arms, triceps specifically, which are only assisting the movement. Instead you must focus on contacting the pectorals thereby bringing the arms together and forward, the triceps assisting only to extend the elbow joint. Continue with this thought process during the negative phase of the movement, focusing on the feeling of the pectorals stretching.

Keeping your mental focus channeled in this manner will direct the majority of stress to the target muscles of your chest, maximizing muscular stimulation. It sounds daft, far-fetched even a little sci-fi but believe in your Rogue Advisor, beloved reader, the mind-muscle connection is the real deal.

Visualization

Some athletes routinely use visualization techniques in both training and competition. Those who’ve used these techniques have cultivated not only a competitive edge, but also found renewed mental awareness, and a heightened sense of focus.

Visualization is also referred to as guided imagery, mental rehearsal, mediation, etc. Regardless of the term applied, the techniques and concepts are the same. Visualization is the mental process of creating an image or intention of what you desire.

Colossus. Clearly.

“Throughout my bodybuilding career, I was constantly playing tricks on my mind. This is why I began to think of my biceps as mountains, instead of flesh and blood. Thinking of my biceps as mountains made my arms grow faster and bigger than if I’d seen them only as muscles.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

This technique can be used to increase the ‘intent’ of the result of a competition or training session. By visualizing the desired scene, complete with reverie of a previous best performance or a future target, the athlete is then ‘steps into’ that feeling. While imagining these scenarios, the athlete will imagine in perfect detail, all the myriad sensations of the way it feels to perform in the desired way, or the results wanted from that training session.

And finally

Keep it cool.

No really. It does wonders for you. Every time you get stressed out, start vexing or get your raging bellyache on, you get a massive surge of nasty old cortisol, which breaks down muscle tissue. So when you have to skip a meal or a workout, don’t be miffed but don’t use cortisol as an excuse to slack off either. Temperature also affects testosterone levels. Everyone knows that guys who sleep in the cold have a higher sperm count right? That’s because testosterone is boosted when the testicles are at just the right chilly temperature. Yay.

Until next time. Stay informed.

 

Taskmaster

As requested by the infamous, nefarious and downright decadent Zsa-Zsa-La-Trine; your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor presents one of Marvel comic’s gems. He looks cool and has a cool power.

There he is in all his finery. Powers Unknown.

There he is in all his finery.
Powers Unknown.

Taskmaster

To avoid any confusion, this is Taskmaster. Powers known.

To avoid any confusion, this is Taskmaster.
Powers known.

The Taskmaster, (created by David Michelinie and George Pérez), is more often than not primarily portrayed as a villain rather than the anti-hero he really is. Real name speculated to be Tony Masters, is a mysterious figure believed to have been born in Brooklyn, New York City, and once went by the  alias Contingency T.

He made his first appearance in Avengers vol.1 #195, (May 1980),before making his full début in Avengers vol.1 #196 in which he was introduced as an enemy, and gave them a pretty hard time. Although the Avenger’s line-up, with the exception of Iron man, was fairly lame at the time.

Because of his notoriety he usually finds employment within criminal organizations as a training instructor. However, in Taskmaster vol.2 #3 (2011), it was revealed he was a sleeper agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. planted by Nick Fury for the purpose of intelligence gathering. During this time though, Taskmaster had trained quite the contingent of super hero imposters meant to discredit the real thing; Blood Spider the criminal version of Spider-Man, Jagged Bow and Death-shield were trained to be replacing Hawkeye and Captain America.

So what’s this groovy power you mentioned?

Checking out all his bad-ass equipment may give you a clue.

Checking out all his bad-ass equipment may give you a clue.

Photographic reflexes

Photographic reflexes is the ability to essentially copy any skill, talent or ability you see. Anything that you see, even video footage will be sufficient. As long as he spends enough time observing another’s physical movements, no matter how complex, he can then go straight ahead and duplicate them without even needing to practice. Sweet. The drawback to this groovy power is that the new knowledge he gained from each observation will replace his previous non-skill related memories.

Due to these powers he can almost imitate super powers. For example he has discovered that watching Martial arts movies on fast-forward he is able to briefly duplicate the moves at a greatly increased velocity, effectively giving him a limited form of super-speed.

He was previously a naturally gifted athlete who trained himself to superb physical condition. He committed the fighting styles of:

Captain AmericaDaredevilElektraHawkeyePunisherTigraUSAgent, Spider-ManAnt-ManBatrocBoomerangBushwackerBlacklashGenis-VellCableDeadpoolFalconFataleFirestarIron FistJusticeMoon KnightPower Man, SilverclawSilver SamuraiShatterstar,  and Wolverine to memory, as well as many others.

As well as fully utilising his ability to copy the fighting techniques of others, he had mastered hundreds of forms of unarmed combat, both ancient and modern, and had created some of his own original techniques as well. As if that wasn’t enough he is skilled in the use of all conventional weaponry, an unerring marksman, master of swordsmanship, gymnastics with aerial acrobatic capabilities and adept at sleight of hand. This is not an individual you would ever want to get in a ruck with.

He has often shown the ability to actually predict an opponents next move before they make it if he has studied their fighting style enough. Opponents who are skilled at improvisational fighting styles, or who have a more random unpredictable style are less likely to have their moves predicted by Taskmaster. He is a master strategist and tactician, which he has used to great effect against Captain America and Iron Man during the siege of Asgard.

In addition to his already formidable abilities, he went about training his body to be in peak physical condition and engaged in intensive regular exercise. His strength, endurance, stamina, reflexes, and agility are on the level of an Olympic athlete. That means he can lift 440 lbs / 199.6 kg, that’s close to half a ton. Due to the intensity of his training he was nearly the physical equal of Captain America, and that’s without all the super soldier steroids.

He then went about recruiting a top team of scientists to recreate duplicate version of the weapons used by super-humans, which after having studied their skills, could utilise them with just as deadly efficiency as their respective original wielders.  Among such combat based finery was a copy of the Black Knight’s sword, Daredevil’s multi-purpose billy club, Hawkeye’s trick arrows and bow, a .45 calibre Colt automatic similar to the Punisher’s, and a shield designed like Captain America’s but it was not forged from Adamantium, therefore wasn’t indestructible; it was made from an Osmium alloy, the same alloy that the X-Men’s Colossus‘ flesh morphs into.

That's kick-ass guy with kick-ass gear. Take note y'all.

That’s kick-ass guy with kick-ass gear. Take note y’all.

Taskmaster has come to blows and also teamed up with Deadpool a number of times; the two became friends when Taskmaster started dating Sandi Brandenburg, Deadpool’s Personal Assistant when both were employed by Agency X at the same time.

Two of the badest mofos in one scene. Nice.

Two of the baddest mofos in one scene. Nice.

 

Taskmasters work with Deadpool, and thus observing and learning from him, led to a considerable change in appearance; he designed a costume that could efficiently accommodate all his spectacular new gear and was modelled on tactical battle armour. He ceased to encumber himself with the arsenal of duplicate weapons. His primary arms became a pair of semi-automatic handguns and a Katana, which he wielded with deadly grace after having observed the Silver Samurai’s fighting style. But by far his most efficient piece of gear is a prototype wrist-mounted device, stolen from S.H,E.I.L.D., that can spontaneously generate solid energy shapes. It can even be used to duplicate Captain America’s shield and Spider-Man’s webbing. Nice.

Deadpool should feel very flattered.

Deadpool should feel very flattered.

Weaknesses

  • The Taskmaster was not capable of duplicating a physical feat if the effort to do so requires a superhuman effort. For instance, he could never fly, have X-ray vision or any abilities outside the parameters that a human could attain.
  • His abilities were also limited in that they did not grant him an innate understanding of underlying disciplines. For example, as a child, he nearly drowned after imitating a dive because while he was able to mimic the dive, he did not know how to swim. Because of this, he has a fear of drowning.
  • Taskmaster was unable to copy the moves of Alex Hayden ,(Agent X), for unknown reasons
  • When Taskmaster copies something new, it pushes old memories out of his brain in a form of amnesia.

Until next time. Stay informed.

The Good the Bad and the Unforgivable

Sorry, beloved reader, the title of this post is somewhat misleading; there is little good involved, apart from maybe laughing your abs into a six-pack at what follows. Here at Level Up our geek glands rage 24/7, whether it be for fantasy, Sci-Fi, RPGs or comics. But whenever there is good, there must be bad. A sad and kind of Taoist truth. Nerdy entertainment does seem to be a metaphorical yin-yang rollercoaster of laughter and tears. Today it’s tears I’m afraid. Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor has searched high and low for the most terrible, offensive and downright awful. For every Batman or Tony Stark, there’s a Kylun or a Typeface. Prepare to be impressed / unimpressed by characters that had to be created whilst drunk, high or threatened at gunpoint.

Kylun

A crappy Thundercat rip-off with crappy powers.

A crappy Thundercat rip-off with crappy powers.
Essentially he is a humanoid tape-recorder.
How very 80’s.

Once a member of the British mutant team Excalibur and looking like a humanoid lion pretty much explains this blasphemy in printed format. He basically, being rather cat-like, had slightly better strength and agility than most and better senses. His main power wa to be abl to mimic nay sound. That’s it. That’s his angle, that’s what got him in a superhero team that defends the entire UK against super-powered threats. He also had magic swords that could not cause harm to the pure of heart, these lame blades turned up in later comics when the writers realised that he was so very rubbish. Needless to say, even with the new swords, he didn’t last long.

Wraith

You'd think he'd be much groovier with a name like that.

You’d think he’d be much groovier with a name like that.

So, what can this Wraith character do? Can he become ethereal / incorporeal? Is he some sort of demonic other-worldly monster? Maybe even a soul-sucking, hell-born beast to be feared by all mortal men? Nope. Hector Rendoza’s ‘fearsome’ power is to have invisible skin. The X-Men took pity on him after he had been beaten s**tless by some normal, genetically average, humans. In a fight that he started. He nearly died from his wounds, but it was really easy to see if he had eaten that cheesecake you’d been saving in the fridge. He can transfer his transparent epidermisery to other people, making him the only mutant so terrible that his own body is trying to offload the X-gene. There were other characters in the Marvel universe called wraith too, all of them a damn sight more useful. There was John Wraith, he had military training, an extended lifespan and could teleport. There is also Brian DeWolff, known as Wraith, an ex-policeman with psionic powers and then we have Zak-Del Wraith who is immortal and has a gun that can transform into any kind of gun imaginable. Why Marvel? Why did you create Hector Rendoza the kid with invisible skin?

Jihad!

Un-freakin'-believable.

Un-freakin’-believable.

That’s right, beloved reader, freakin’ Jihad. Marvel comics presented us with is genie in a Fantastic Four storyline, where the bright green turbanless behemoth sent them on an item retrieving mystical quest. The character was a little controversial, his first appearance was eleven days before the September 11th attacks, and Jihad was a character bent on world conquest. For reasons I cannot fathom he hasn’t made an appearance since.

Typeface

Unemployment is hard to deal with in the USA apparently. It drives people to use giant lettering as weaponry.

Unemployment is hard to deal with in the USA apparently. It drives people to use giant lettering as weaponry.

The economy is the real villain in this tale. Ex-US Army soldier Gordon Thomas went home to become a sign smith. The American dream. But alas, poor Gordon’s dreams were shattered when he was laid off from his job at ‘Ace Signs’ when a man named George Finch takes over the company. Mr Thomas does what anyone else would do in that situation; he wrote a giant ‘R’ on his forehead, for ‘retribution’, called himself Typeface and went on a rampage with an arsenal of giant letters. The saddest part of this tale is that he actually kicked the crap out of Spiderman. He then changed the ‘R’ on his spam to an ‘A’ for ‘Annihilation’.

Squirrel Girl

She is kinda sexy. Anyone else developing a squirrel fetish?

She is kinda sexy. Anyone else developing a squirrel fetish?

Doreen Green is her name and she can communicate with squirrels. Yup, that’s right beloved reader, once again Marvel comics have subjected us to more lameness. For some reason though, she is extremely accomplished in the area of villain butt-kicking. Teamed up with her squirrel companion Tippy-Toe, she has defeated Doctor Doom, a task that the entire of the Fantastic Four have difficulty with and in another story line the bushy-tailed duo have even defeated Thanos. For those of you who don’t know who Thanos is, please follow the handy link to discover how incredibly powerful and god-like he is. But give credit where credit is due, the Marvel writers had to be pretty creative to pull off those stories.

Hemo-Goblin

hemo-goblin

What can I say about this guy? Really?

It’s DC comics turn to bow their collective heads with shame. This character covers the trendy topics of racism and AIDS in one horrifying package. He is basically a vampire, which generally are powerful enough critters to take on super powered folk. The skinny albino blood sucker was created, laboratory style, by a white supremacist group to rid the world of anyone who wasn’t a honky. This is accomplished by giving them AIDS, which he managed to infect some of the members of the New Guardians with. Thanks DC.

These characters are terrible. How can it possibly get any worse?

Behold!

Armless Tiger Man

Pfft. Ha. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Pfft. Ha. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Yes, beloved reader, we’ve saved the ‘best’ for last. Armless Tiger Man is a man – wait for it – with all the power of an armless tiger. Like our feline chum Kylun, Gustav Hertz has the augmented agility, strength, senses etc. of that great hunting cat, the tiger; but without the baggage of having arms. Who needs the encumbrance of four limbs? Especially prehensile ones. This extremely bipedal chap was a WWII villain who lost his arms whilst working as a machinist. Quite appropriately he then vowed vengeance upon all things industrial. He was eventually caught by the Gestapo who sent him to America to wreak his two limbed, anti-machine hatred.

Until next time. Stay informed.

The Dark Side of Comics

It looks like our chums at DC comics are actually going to go ahead with the Justice League movie, even imdb has an entry for them stating the release date as June 2015.  Christian Bale may even be returning as Batman as DC try to strike back at Marvel and all their recent hyperbolic skullduggery. But it seems DC have an ace up their sleeve.

Justice-League-Dark-Game-Faces

Justice League Dark

In a recent interview with Total Film about his new movie Mama, Guillermo del Toro discussed characters he wanted to bring to the screen from comics.

“I am going to be presenting my storyline to DC and Warners of where I want to take this universe. We do have a writer, but until that is firmed up, I have to keep it a secret. I hope it happens,” he said.

“It’s going really well. It’s like meeting old friends. I grew up with Demon Etrigan, with Swamp Thing, with Deadman, so these are characters that are near and dear to my heart.”

“I’d love to use the origins that are proper to each character. I love the idea of Jason Blood as a paladin and a knight…. I love the entire Constantine mythology, the Dead Man mythology, the Alex Holland Swamp Thing mythology. These are really rich things to well, and to dig.”

The rumours flying around give the still unconfirmed project the working names of Heaven Sent, Dark Universe and of course Justice League Dark. The anti-hero super group features the likes of John Constantine, who already had his own movie in 2005 staring Keanu, (fight off the woodpeckers), Reeves, Swamp Thing, the protagonist of Wes Craven’s 1982 film of the same name and also The Demon, Phantom Stranger, The Spectre, father / daughter magicians Zatara and Zatanna, and Deadman, a title del Toro was rumoured to be bringing to the silver screen until it was stalled in development.

With these tasty tidbits of rumour and / or information, it seems that DC, if all goes well, will have the perfect counterattack against all the gems that Marvel have turned up and have future plans to continue. That is unless the hybrid freak known as Disney-Marvel-Lucas Film retaliate with . .

darkavengers

Dark Avengers

That’s right, beloved reader, whenever one or the other, DC or Marvel, has a version of something, you can bet your flux capacitor the other will have their own counterpart.

Just who are these clearly nefarious characters?

Iron Patriot: Norman Osborn, (Green goblin), managed to take Tony Stark’s place as director of H.A.M.M.E.R. which is S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s successor after the Invasion of Skrulls storyline. Osborn went about creating a new avengers team, but lacking the actual Ironman and Captain America. Without these heroic figures he came up with the Iron Patriot, StarkTech armour improvised from items confiscated from Stark’s armoury together with Cap’s colouration to goad the public with iconic imagery.

A shot of the Iron Patriot from upcoming Ironman 3. Other shots show James Rupert "Rhodey" Rhodes inside the armour. Surely he should be War Machine.

A shot of the Iron Patriot from upcoming Ironman 3. Other shots show James Rupert “Rhodey” Rhodes inside the armour. Surely he should be War Machine.

Osborn’s technical expertise, however, was lacking and he couldn’t get the armour’s repulsor generators to work, (let’s be realistic about things, he’s no Tony Stark, eh?), he ended up replacing it with the weaker Uni-Beam, that had a star-shaped output.

Venom: Not the original Venom; Eddie Brock. Not the second incarnation; crime Don Angelo Fortunato, but the third to take up the symbiotic suit; Mac Gargan. Formerly known as the Scorpion. Whilst wearing the suit and capering alongside the Iron Patriot, he poses as your friendly neighbourhood Spiderman. Nasty business.

Bullseye: He dresses like Hawkeye but this isn’t Clint Barton. This is Lester, the psychopathic assassin that has an uncanny aim, only on a few rare occasions has he missed moving targets. He uses the opportunities afforded by his profession to satisfy his homicidal tendencies and to keep his mind off the grudge he holds against Daredevil.

Lovelly chap really. Apart from his personal vendetta against a blind lawyer.

Lovely chap really. Apart from his personal vendetta against a blind lawyer.

Daken: Real name Akihiro, he is the mutant son of Wolverine and his deceased Japanese wife Itsu. He poses as his father without difficulty, having similar powers; accelerated, (to extreme regenerative craziness), healing factor, heightened sense of smell and retractable Muramasa steel coated claws, (created from the original Muramasa blade), 2 of which originate from the back of his hands, whilst the third comes from inside his wrists. He obviously doesn’t have the adamantium skeleton  like his dad, but makes up for that disadvantage by having telepathic immunity and a crazy pheromone ability. He can use this pheromone manipulation ability to disguise his own smell, making him ‘invisible’ to Wolverine’s scent tracking and also to change the emotional and sensory state in other beings, instilling sensation such as fear, psychotic rage and even sexual attraction. Definitely one of the nastier characters in both Avengers and X-men. EEK.

Duking it out with pops.

Duking it out with pops.

Moonstone: Real name Karla Sofen, born the daughter of a butler to a movie producer, she managed to become somewhat of a success with her own psychological practice. She used her psychiatric credentials to access the prison cell of Byron Becton – the original Moonstone. Then using hypnosis, she warped his mind into believing he was a disgusting, hideous monster. She was so convincing  that the psychological trauma caused his body to reject the moonstone and it became hers. In the Dark Avengers she poses in the place of Ms.Marvel.

Why are the evil ones always so sexy?

Why are the evil ones always so sexy?

Ares: The son of Zeus and Hera. Quite the credentials. It was never really confirmed who he was supposed to be posing as; one would assume he was meant to take Thor’s place but he always brought his customary sword and / or axe to the party. No matter though, he didn’t last long. He was killed in Siege #2 by the next chap.

Ares taking a kicking from The Sentry. Embarrasing really.

Ares taking a kicking from The Sentry. Embarrassing really.

The Sentry: Yep. As you can see from the picture above he’s one of those, run-of-the-mill-not-really-thought-out-caped-twats-with-vague-powers. His abilities ostensibly come from a serum, similar yet more powerful than the one used on Captain America, that moves his molecules an instant ahead of current time. Whatever that means. Doesn’t really matter, because he went rogue in Siege #3 just before being killed by Thor in Siege #4. Thanks Thor.

Noh-Varr: A prize-winningly cheesy name for a character. Noh-Varr is a member of the Kree race, from the alternate reality of Earth-200080, (we are on Earth-616 by the way). So we’ve got alien and another dimension story in one. He was also enhanced with insect DNA, ahem, giving him enhanced reflexes, speed, strength, and endurance as well as being triple jointed, allowing him to negotiate even the trickiest close environments. Probably his greatest power is the ability to re-route neurological impulses and suppress any stimulus that is unwanted. In Civil War: Young Avengers /Runaways he uses this ability to perform a ‘White run’, defeating Hulkling, Karolina Dean, Wiccan and Xavin in under 5 seconds. His constitution allows him to digest any organic compound without harmful effects, this also increases recovery from wounds or extreme stress.

nohvarr

Mr. Varr. Try saying that with a straight face.

In addition to all that whacky business, Noh-Varr’s spit has infectious biological properties that cause hallucinations and gives him a small degree of mind control. Each of his fingernails can grow into a crystalline spike, which can then be inserted into an opponent and left to explode! He also has access to a wide-range of Kree technology and has the know how to create the means for interdimensional travel. As much as an asset as he was to the team, pretending to be Marvel Boy, he left Dark Avengers #6 and joined the actual Avengers.

I hope that got your geek glands juicy.

Until next time. Stay informed.