Greetings from the Odinson,
Welcome to the Year 2014! When I was a kid, I thought that by the time we reached the year 2014, we’d all be driving around in Landspeeders or traveling through time and space in a flying DeLorean. But the future is now the present, and there are no Landspeeders; there are no flying cars that run off of garbage! What gives?
2014 may not mark the dawn of a bold new frontier, it does, however, according to a list released by Diamond Comics Distributors a few weeks ago, mark the significant anniversaries for many, many major events in the History of Pop Culture.
2014 is the…
10th Anniversary of Anchorman – Great Odin’s Raven! Ten years ago, the Legend of Ron Burgundy began. Alongside Brian Fantana, Champ, and Brick, as well as the beautiful Veronica Corningstone, Ron Burgundy showed us the merits of Jazz Flute, the importance of when it’s time to Musk up, the underbelly and seedy side of the secret Anchorman War, and one man’s unconditional love for “lamp.”
10th Anniversary of Kill Bill – It’s been ten years since Quentin Tarantino released a movie so epic that it had to split into two films. Inspired by the Saturday Morning Kung Fu Theatre of our youth, Kill Bill is a revenge romp that features over-the-top action, a stellar soundtrack, and signature Tarantino dialogue. Rumor has it the groundbreaking writer/director has a follow up film to complete his revenge trilogy in his back pocket. Fingers crossed.
15th Anniversary of SpongeBob Squarepants – SpongeBob is an eternally optimistic sea sponge who lives in a pineapple at the bottom of the sea alongside his friends – Patrick Star, Sandy Cheeks, Mr. Krabs, and Gary the Snail. With jokes that fly for fans of all ages, this cartoon makes the ocean floor a highly entertaining place to visit. Not to mention, SpongeBob knows Aquaman!
15th Anniversary of Futurama – Having been cancelled several times over its TV run only to return better than ever, this futuristic animated comedy has more lives than a cat. Much like its sister show, The Simpsons, which explores and satirizes the Modern Day pop culture world we live in, Futurama takes a comedic look at the farflung future and the possible pratfalls mankind may one day take.
15th Anniversary of Family Guy – The Simpsons might have come first, but few shows in the history of television have pushed the envelope like this animated series about the most dysfunctional family to grace Prime Time since the Bundys. Fueled by show creator Seth MacFarlane’s unparalleled knowledge, Family Guy is riddled with a nonstop landslide of pop cultural references and guest-stars. Even 1960s Batman Adam West is a regular guest-star. But nothing tops Peter Griffin’s ongoing feud with that dastardly Chicken, the Boba Fett of Family Guy.
20th Anniversary of Hellboy – Mike Mignola’s cigar-chomping, big-fisted, demon-stomping, paranormal investigator turns twenty this year. Over the past two decades, Hellboy has starred in an award-winning comic series, original graphic novels, novels, an animated series, and two highly underrated major motion pictures.
Here’s a little anecdote from the Odinson’s past. Way back in 1990, I attended a comicon in Dallas where I met a young artist named Mike Mignola. This being pre-Hellboy years, there was no line, so I went over to get my copy of Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure signed. He took this opportunity to show me an original sketch and tell me all about his latest creation and a character he planned to one day make into a comic book. Completely uninterested, a sixteen-year-old Odinson rolled his all-knowing teenaged eyes and said, “That’s nice, can you sign my book now?” It was only years later that I realized the character Mr. Mignola was trying to inform me about was none other then Hellboy!
Well, I owe the great Mike Mignola a sincere apology, for Hellboy has brought me many hours of entertainment over the years.
20th Anniversary of Pulp Fiction – It’s the movie that broke all the rules of storytelling and changed the landscape of cinema for a whole generation. Bring on the Bad Guys as writer/director Quentin Tarantino pulls off the impossible and takes the most unscrupulous, amoral cast of characters and actually makes us root for them. With engaging, signature Tarantino dialogue, a fantastic soundtrack, and a mind-blowing tale told out of order, Pulp Fiction set a high bar and inspired a whole generation of film makers.
20th Anniversary of Clerks – Written and directed by twenty-three-year-old newcomer Kevin Smith, this low budget, B&W, day-in-the-life-of film completely encapsulated the GenX generation in a nutshell. With biting dialogue, insightful, pop culture-filled conversations, and soul-searching epiphanies, Clerks IS the movie that defined the 1990s. Not a huge box office success, though it did make money when compared to how much it was made for (only around twenty-seven thousand dollars), Clerks found its audience in the video store. See, boys and girls, way back when, in the 90s, we didn’t have instant streaming of movies and TV shows online. We went to these brick-and-mortar mom-and-pop shops called video stores and rented VHS tapes for our VCRs.
Clerks became a cult classic and spawned six more films, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Clerks II, and the soon to be released Clerks III, all set in the Viewaskewinverse. From discussing the ramifications of working on the uncompleted Death Star of Return of the Jedi to the Milk Maid to I’m not even supposed to be here today (the GenXers version of Avengers Assemble!), Clerks is a legendary, must-see film made by the fanboy that made good. Kevin Smith is one of us, and the Odinson is proud to say that he is a fan.
25th Anniversary of The Simpsons – It started out as animated shorts on The Tracy Ulman Show back in 1987. Over the years, The Simpsons has become a pop culture phenomenon and the longest running Prime Time animated series in the history of television and inspired a whole slew of animated programming (including Futurama and Family Guy). The Simpsons has had such an influence on American pop culture that it has even created words that have been added to the dictionary like D’oh!
30th Anniversary of Ghostbusters – I can’t believe it’s been three decades since Dr. Peter Venkman and his pals vanquished the demonic dark god Gozer and saved all mankind in the most hilarious way possible. From Slimer to the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man to one of the most underrated and under appreciated cartoons of the decade, Ghostbusters is most definitely a heavyweight in the realm of American pop culture. Who ya gonna call?
35th Anniversary of Alien – In 1979, Ridley Scott’s sci-fi/horror captured the imagination of movie audiences and showed the true terror that waits for us beyond the stars. Alien is a cinematic masterpiece that hits on all the right buttons. It spawned a franchise with three sequels (with Aliens being by far the stand out installment), two crossover movies with AvP and Aliens vs. Predators, numerous video games, dozens of novels, hundreds of comics, a prequel, Prometheus, and it introduced one of the greatest cinematic movie villains. The Xenomorph stands head-and-shoulders with other movie Big Bads like Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter, and the shark from Jaws. In space, no one can hear you scream.
40th Anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons – Whether it was the role-playing game, video games, novels, comic books, or cartoon, I can not tell you how many countless hours of enjoyment this wonderful little game has brought to my life. Inspired by the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien and Robert E. Howard, Dungeons and Dragons, designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Anderson, is the an amazing RPG set in a fantasy world populated by elves, wizards, dwarves, trolls, and, you guessed it, dragons. It is a game and franchise that has stimulated the imaginations of several generations. It birthed the fantasy worlds of Dragonlance and the Forgotten Realms and introduced me to one of my favorite writers, R.A. Salvatore, who gave the Odinson his all time favorite fantasy hero – Drizzt Do’Urden. Other than two absolutely horrible movies, I cannot say enough good things about D&D. Though it may not have been the first RPG, Dungeons and Dragons is, without a doubt, the undisputed heavyweight champion of role-playing games.
45th Anniversary of Scooby Doo – This canine sleuth has brought so much joy and happiness to generation after generation. Scooby and his friends drive around the country in the aptly named Mystery Machine and solve, you guessed it, mysteries. From the Phantom of the Park, to pop culture guest-stars like the Three Stooges to his dynamic team-up with Batman and Robin, Scooby Doo is one the greatest pop culture icons in American entertainment history. On the Mount Rushmore of Saturday Morning Cartoons there’s Bug Bunny, Spider-Man, The Smurfs, and Scooby Doo.
50th Anniversary of The Addams Family – They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky… Originally a syndicated cartoon strip created by artist Charles Addams, The Addams Family is probably best known for their much beloved B&W television series which ran from 1964-1966. There have been two Modern Age films telling the tales of this off-beat family. The family consists of the wily patriarch, Gomez Addams, his gothically beautiful wife, Mortica, their mischievous children, Pugsley and Wednesday, the corky Uncle Fester, the roving-hand, Thing, Lurch the giant butler, Grandmama, and Cousin Itt. They have had crossovers with Scooby Doo and their cross-town rivals, The Munsters. Speaking of…
50th Anniversary of The Munsters – In the 30s, 40s, and 50s, nothing captured the imagination and haunted the nightmares of movie audiences like the Universal Monsters. So naturally, in the wake of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, a decade later it was time for a friendlier monster. The Munsters lived at 1313 Mockingbird Lane. There was Herman Munster, Frankenstein’s Monster, his lovely wife, Lily, The Bride, their son, Eddie Munster, the wolfboy, Grandpa, the Count, Marilyn, their niece, and Spot, the fire-breathing dragon that lives under the stairs. From their TV show, television movies, specials, comics, and remakes, The Munsters are a fond memory from my youth when I watched the reruns on TBS after school.
60th Anniversary of Godzilla – My parents were in the military, so from the age of three months to three years old, the Odinson actually lived in Japan. My first words were in Japanese, or so I’m told for I unfortunately cannot remember any Japanese. But what I do retain from my days in the Land of the Rising Sun is my love for the King of Monsters – Godzilla! Thirty-stories high, he breathes fire, and has a tail that can smash mountains into powder, and depending on his mood, Godzilla can be mankind’s biggest threat or its only hope against the alien overlords that threaten Earth on an alarmingly regular basis.
Godzilla is a pop culture icon on par with Superman and Mickey Mouse. He has stood toe-to-toe with the mighty King Kong. He introduced me to the cybernetic hero Jet Jaguar, a hero inspired by the more popular Spectreman and Ultraman. And Godzilla stood side-by-side with fellow Kaiju Legends Rodan and Mothra against the invincible King Ghidorah!
One of my all time favorite toys as a child was Godzilla from the Shogun Warriors toyline. This was a magnificent two-foot tall plastic action figure with a fiery tongue that sprang from its mouth when I pulled the lever on the back of its neck, and its right fist shot across the room when I’d push the button on its forearm. It was awesome!
But my all time favorite memory of the King of Monsters is his world tour through the Marvel Universe (see Essential Godzilla). Here we see the mighty leviathan threaten and save mankind while crossing the paths of SHIELD, the Champions, Devil Dinosaur, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers. His return to the Big Screen in 1998 was less than stellar, so you can imagine my excitement for the new Godzilla movie set to hit theatres in 2014. The teaser looks amazing!
50th Anniversary of Daredevil – By day he is the blind lawyer Matt Murdock, a man that stands up for the rights of the common man, but by night, he is Daredevil, the Man without Fear and the Protector of Hell’s Kitchen. When the law of the courtroom fails, it’s up to the super ninja Daredevil to bring justice to the world. Daredevil has always been touted as one of Stan Lee’s favorite creations and from Frank Miller to Kevin Smith to Brian Michael Bendis to Mark Waid, the Man without Fear has been in the best hands of the business.
Many, many people hate the 2003 Daredevil Movie starring Ben Affleck but I’ll go on record as saying that is a highly underrated film. Sure it has flaws, but next to Batman and Robin and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Daredevil is Citizen Kane. The pages of Daredevil introduced Marvel mainstays like Elektra and Bullseye and made the Kingpin, a former Spidey C-List villain, into a criminal force to be reckoned with. Born Again is a seminal comic story every fan must read, and Mark Waid’s current run is an absolute can’t-miss on today’s stand.
75th Anniversary of Batman – Bob Kane. Bill Finger. 1966 Batman TV Show. Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. Jim Aparo. Frank Miller. Batman: Year One. The Dark Knight Returns. A Death in the Family. Knightfall. Kelley Jones. No Man’s Land. Robin. Nightwing. Tim Burton’s Batman. Batman: The Animated Series. Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. Grant Morrison. The Joker. Catwoman. Penguin. The Riddler. Two-Face. Christopher Nolan. Batman Begins. The Dark Knight. The Dark Knight Rises. Ra’s Al Ghul. The Court of Owls. And, Bat-Mite. I’m Batman. ‘Nuff said.
125th Anniversary of Nintendo – I’m not sure what they did for the first ninety or so years, but if you were a child of the 80s, then you know the significant impact of the world’s most successful video game company. Before Nintendo, we had very inferior home consoles like Atari 2600, Intellivision, and Coleco Vision. Now don’t get me wrong. I spent countless hours enjoying those products, but that magical Christmas in 1985-1986 when the Nintendo Entertainment System was introduced to America, the Odinson’s world changed forever. Games like Super Mario Bros., Legend of Zelda, and Castlevania are in the Hall of Fame. Along with other legendary games like Ninja Gaiden, Metal Gear Solid, and too many others to list here, Nintendo blazed a trail and set the standard for all others to follow. And with Super NES, Nintendo 64, Game Cube, and Wii, they are constantly reinventing and improving on their product and making sure that Nintendo is a name in video games kids will know for generations to come.
Now I’d say that every fanboy and girl can find something on this list that makes them smile. I hope you enjoyed this list as much as I did. I just thought I’d share what all these pop culture legends meant to me, and I’d like to thank Diamond Comics Distributors for compiling this list. The only thing I have left to say is – Where is my Landspeeder?!!
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell