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1953 - The battle over Judgement Day

Judgement Day is a story that was planned to be printed in 1953 and is a natural starting off point for Black History Month.  Blacks and African Americans had been featured prior to this 1953 project of EC publishing.  However, before this blacks were generally depicted as exotics, or in the background.  This is the first time that a Black person was featured in the forefront of the story.  What really makes the series even more interesting is the story itself and the battle to get it published.

Judgement Day is a snap shot of American attitudes towards race, politics and publishing in the 1950s.  Personally, I think Clint Eastwood should turn this into his next film project.    It is a great story that features The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. 

The Good:
Meet our heroes!  The guys at EC Publishing.  EC publishing is not necessarily a well known name anymore but they had a big impact on a variety of areas.  You likely have heard of some of their brands like Mad Magazine, and Tales of the Crypt.   They were a small publisher that were known early on for publishing Horror, Weird and Sci Fi comics.  When the comics code authority came out in early 1950s EC was one of the main targets.  One of the areas that EC tried to be on the forefront on was race.  On the topic of race, EC wrote a large variety of stories attacking bigotry.  The most well known story in this genre by far was Judgement Day.

The Bad:
The CCA comics code authority was created because of studies showing that comics and pulps were contributing to the delinquency of youths.  At the time comics became the scape goat for every wrong thing little Timmy, Billy and Betty Sue did.  Parents rallied around this idea that horror and weird comics were to blame and this political movement created the comic book gestapo the CCA.  The CCA banned things like the title Horror and Weird in comics.  They also took to banning things that were seen as sexually provocative, too politically charged, or in the case of Judgement Day something they were uncomfortable with.

(Beware giving people institutions control over what you can say or think. Beware censorship)

The Ugly:
ECC creates a seemingly benign story on bigotry.  An astronaut from an intergalactic republic visits a planet of a sentient robots to determine whether the planet will be allowed the republic.  In the end he decides the planet is not worthy due to the robots bigotry.  The robots you see are divided into two many colors, they live mostly separately with one color dominating the other in the power structure.  This story as is would likely have slipped through the comic book authority albeit uncomfortably however EC was known for inserting a little stinger at the end.  Each ending had a little twist that shocked the reader, and sometimes gave the bad guys their do.

I now give you the shocking, earth shattering ending of the story Judgement Day!


My guess is that most modern readers look at the image above and don't understand why it is so shocking so let me explain.

The astronaut who is judging this planet for being biggoted and thus denying their entry into the republic is revealed to be a Black man.  This would be one of the first times a black person was depicted in a position of authority and here he is not just in authority but also laying down the law as it were.  This to a 1950 audience was ......Shocking.  It was also a not subtle judgement of 1950s America.  The message was pretty clear, if aliens come down to America they are going to look at the country like it were filled with a bunch of biggoted savages.

The CCA  (Comic Code Authority) went ape crap over the story and demanded EC to change it.  Their first request was for EC to make it a non Black person in the Astronaut suit.  EC responded listen up you tyrannical dumb butts that is the whole point of the piece.  Then the CCA was like well can you remove the perspiration that looks like stars on his skin.  Apparently, the fact that stars were shining on his skin made him look too messiah like.  EC fired back hell no.

This conflict goes round and round the CCA aka the big bad Empire basically ends up winning.  EC refused to alter the story in any way.  They completely stuck to their guns.  The CCA refused to give the story their seal, so no stores would buy it.  The CCA successfully taught the little publisher a lesson.  Other publishers fled the space fearing they would too would be banned.  EC for many years would only publish its benign Mad Magazine.  Eventually, though the crazy people who want to blame scape goat art for their problems moved on to music, and later to video games.  As a result to the loss of focus, the comics industry eventually wrested itself away from the CCA stray jacket.  Later, when the major players in the publishing industry like Marvel and DC pulled away from CCA its power basically eroded to nothing.

The story of Judgement Day is full of revealing reflections of attitudes during the 1950s but also of some of the good being done by comic book writers.  Comic book publishers catch a lot of flack for not being diverse enough.  Some of this criticism is warranted.  Publishers though should also get attention for their good things they did.  In this case an entire company fought to get out a social message while under siege of the authorities.  That is by no means a small thing.

Who is the Human Torch aka Johnny Storm?

Who is the Human Torch?
The Human Torch aka Johnny Storm is a hero in the Marvel universe.  He is known for being a member of the super hero celebrity family the Fantastic Four.  The Human Torch has been depicted in multiple movies.  He was played by Chris Evans in Fantastic Four and Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer.  The Human Torch will be played Michael B. Hall in the Fantastic Four (2015) film.

First Appearance: Fantastic Four #1

Real Name:  Jonathan Storm

Catch Phrase: "Flame On!" Johnny often says this when he uses his power to ignite himself.

Human Torch News:
Fantastic Four movie head quarters, news, and casting

Human Torch in Multimedia:
Human Torch - Cool Comic Pictures
Pictures of Chris Evans as the Human Torch
Pictures of Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch
Flying Human Torch drone created to market Fantastic Four 2015

 Johnny Storm is the younger brother of Sue Storm.  He joined his sister, Sue Storm and her fiancee, Reed Richards on an experimental space flight.  During the flight he was bombarded with cosmic rays that imbued him with special powers.  After the incident Johnny could ignite his body in fire, fly and emit fire blasts from his body.

With his powers Johnny began to call himself the Human Torch.  This name was both a tribute to the WW2 hero of that name and also an accurate description of his powers.    The group that was aboard the experimental ship formed a Super Hero team / family called the Fantastic Four and began battling various super villains.

Franklin Storm - Father
Sue Storm - Sister / Teammate
Mister Fantastic - Brother in Law / Teammate
Ben Grimm / The Thing - Friend / Teammate

Crystal - Girl friend
Lyja - Girl friend  and briefly wife
Namorita -Girl friend
Frankie Raye - Girl friend

The Human Torch gained a variety of super powers due to the mutagenic process of being bombarded by cosmic rays.

  • Flight from burning air
  • Englulf body in fiery plasma that causes him no harm
  • Emit fire / plasma blasts
  • Control and move any fire mentally that is within his sight
  • Nova Flame is the name of Torch's highest level of heat, it fires plasma in all directions

Fantastic Four movie head quarters, news, and casting
Mister Fantastic
The Invisible Woman

Who is X-23?

Who is X-23?

X-23 is a marvel anti-hero who is a clone of the popular X-Men hero Wolverine.  Due to how she was cloned she is a female clone of Wolverine who is male.  Actress Dafne Keen plays X-23 in the film Logan.

First Appearance:  NYX #3

Real Name: Laura Kinney

Alias(es):  X-23, Wolverine, Talon, Captain Universe

Wolverine News:
Wolverine Multi-Media:
Wolverine Store:
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A new Weapon X facility is opened to recreate Wolverine.  After 22 failed attempts and reconstituting his DNA from an X chromosome the 23rd is successful and merged into an embryo.  A doctor working on the project Sarah Kinney acts as a surrogate mother to the embryo.  The child is born and lives for her first 7 within the confines of the Weapon X facility.  Sarah Kinney tries to remain emotionally unattached to X-23 but ends up having motherly feelings for her.   The other scientists on the project see X-23 purely as a means to an end, and train her to be an assassin without any sign of compassion.

X-23 is subjected to radiation material at the age of 7.  This very painfully activates her healing mutation.  Her claws are also coated in adamantium.  Further a trigger scent is created that drives her into a murderous rage when applied to a person.  The Weapon X facility plans to use the trigger scent as a means of targeting X-23 at specific persons.

Sarah Kinney's daughter is caught by a serial killer and she smuggles out X-23 and uses her to kill the killer and get her daughter back.  X-23 reveals that Zander Rice has used her to kill other scientists on the project.  Sarah is fired for her theft of X-23 but not before plotting X-23's escape.  She leaves a note for X-23 to kill Zander Rice and the other Weapon X's X-24 and X-40.  Laura does this but as she catches up Sarah disaster strikes.  Sarah had been coated in the murder scent and X-23 flew into a rage and killed her.  As Sarah died she tells X-23 that she loves her, and that her real name is Laura.  She gives her pictures of Wolverine and the Xavier Institute.

X-23 is then used again to target the sisters of Sarah Kinney.  However she learns of the plot and helps them escape.  She is confronted by one of her handlers from the Weapon X facility named Kimura and she kills her.  In the end Laura decides she must find the man responsible for her life and tracks down Wolverine.  She engages Wolverine in battle, and defeats him before revealing why she came.  Captain America also appears to arrest her for crimes but decides to let her go.

For a time X-23 works as a prostitute for sadomasochistic pimp called Zebra Daddy.  She eventually comes to her senses and kills him.

Eventually X-23 joins X-Force and later the X-Men before taking on the mantle of Wolverine after Logan was killed.  As Wolverine Laura must battle cloned version of herself that are attempting to assassinate her.

Wolverine Rogues Gallery:
The Brood
Lady Deathstrike
Madame Masque
Mister Sinister
Omega Red

As a clone of Wolverine X-23 has the same mutant power of Wolverine.

Healing Factor - Wolverine has regenerative power that allows his body to heal nearly any wound and fight off diseases.  The healing ability heals his body rapidly even from extremely grevious injuries.  This allows him to take serious punishment and keep fighting.

Longevity- healing factor also acts to slow down his aging process.

Animal Keen senses - Has hearing and smell of a wolf or other animal

Feral rage - Fights with a feral nature that seems to increase his aggressiveness and potency in combat.

Claws - Wolverine naturally has bone claws that he can use as weapons.  While Wolverine has 3 claws, Laura only has 2 in her hands.  However, she also has claws in her feet.

Items/ Upgrades:
Unlike Wolverine Laura does not have a admantium skeleton.  Only her claws are covered in the indestructible metal.

Actress Dafne Keen plays X-23 in the film Logan.


X-Men movie news, reviews, casting and art

Marvel - News, Characters, Reviews, Movies, and Comics 

Who is Graviton?

Who is Graviton?

Graviton is a powerful villain who has often battled the Avengers and the Thunderbolts.  He has the power to control gravity which means he can lift up buildings, objects, and persons.  He can hold an army of heroes in the air helpless.

Related Posts:
Marvel News and Speculation!
THE HUB: Home to latest SHIELD news and speculation 
Marvel Villains week it is time to get bad! 
Agents of Shield Rogues Gallery

Franklin Hall is a world renowned physicist from Canada.  An experiment that goes wrong causes graviton particles to merge with his own molecules.  This result him being able to control gravity.

While first he hides his ability he becomes seduced by the idea of power.  He takes on a costume and becomes a supervillain.

In his first major criminal effort he attacks a scientific facility by lifting it high in the air.  He is able to almost fully demobilize the Avengers with the exception of Black Panther. Black Panther sneaks away and summons Thor for aid.  The two battle and eventually defeat Graviton.  Graviton is seemingly killed.  He returns, dies, and returns again.


Has the power to create and control gravitons and anti gravitons thus giving him the ability to control the force of gravity.
With his control of gravity he can then fly, create force fields, simulate extreme superhuman strength, fire concussive blasts, crush people, lift objects and people.

Examples of his power in use:
He once lifted a 4 mile wide landmass into the air and caused it to float.

He once lifted an army of super heroes into the air that included a slew of heavy hitters and they were helpless in the air.


Marvel Cinematic Universe:

Agents of SHIELD:
 Graviton is created in an episode of Agents of SHIELD


Related Posts:
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THE HUB: Home to latest SHIELD news and speculation 
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Agents of SHIELD Season 2 Reveal New Characters! - SPOILERS

Who are the Whisperers in The Walking Dead

The Whisperers are group of survivors encountered by the network of communities set up by Rick Grimes after the events of All Out War.  The two groups quickly end up a battle with each other.

First Appearance: The Walking Dead #130

Whisperer News:
The All Things Walking Dead HQ

Walking Dead Store:
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Comic Bio:
Whisperers are a group of survivors who live among the undead in the world of the undead.  The group utilizes zombie suits made of decaying human parts so remain undetected by hordes of walkers around them.  The group grows to be quite large though there total numbers are never revealed.  The group is able to use massive herds of zombies as both shelter for other survivors and as a devasting weapon.  From within side the herd they can steer it toward enemies fully crushing those communities beneath the weight of their herds.

Alpha is the leader of the mysterious group.  She is sharp tongued woman with a bald head.  Alpha operates with a cold, near emotionless demeanor deeming all signs of emotion as a sign of weakness.

The group communicates in the herd by whispering to each other.  This is where the group get its name from.  They are able to watch other survivor groups and watch their movements.  They are also able to ambush survivors.  According to both Lydia and Alpha the Whisperers have crushed countless communities using their tactics.

The group attempts to live in an animalistic way without any form of shelter.  They have general philosophy of might makes right.  They view communities attempting to live in a more normal human way as weak.  Alpha comments that she sees Alexandria as nothing but a shrine to how people used to live.  Additionally, brutality such as murder and rape are allowed within the Whisperers.  Lydia the daughter of Alpha has said she was raped countless times in the community and it was allowed because it was sign of her weakness relative to another's strength.

Whisper War
After initial violent conflicts and kidnapping of parties the Communities under Rick and Whisperers agree upon a rough truce and set a boundary.  The boundary line is made up of heads on spikes of former members of the Alexandria and Hilltop communities.

Negan escapes and attempts or pretends to join the Whisper community.  He quickly sees that the Whisperers are too crazy (even for him) and assassinates Alpha cutting off her head and escaping with it.  He shows Rick the head and explains that at least he left them leaderless.    The Whisperers are not left leaderless for long as Beta takes the reigns.

The communities then create a plan to deviate the massive horde of the Whisperers.  Initially it seems they are successful.  However, Rick realizes that his forces only deviated a small portion of the overall horde.  The full horde is a like an "ocean of the dead" and it crashes into Alexandria.

The Whisperers have many members but few are given names in the series.  Most use a code name foregoing a real name.  
  • Alpha - Leader of the Whisperers
  • Beta - 2nd in command
  • Joshua - A Whisperer that is killed by Paul Monroe
  • Lydia - The daughter of Alpha is captured by Paul Monroe

Cllick to Enter the Walking Dead Headquarters!

Pokemon Go!

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Pokemon Go!

Pokemon Go is a free mobile game that utilizes GPS to create an augmented reality video game.  People walk around the real world and their phones GPS connects locations in the virtual world of the video game.  Players catch Pokemon and use them to battle in gyms.

The Toylab Pokemon Trainers are trying to keep on top of any news and updates the game does and of course the most current tips.  Our how to beat section lists detailed articles on how to beat specific Pokemon even powerful ones like Snorlax.

We are also working hard to sort out the coolest Pokemon Go Stuff that you can find in the Pokemon Stores and Mall below.

Developer: Niantic
Release Date: July 2016
Genre: Augmented Reality
Platforms: IOS, Android

Click Here to Return to Pokemon Go Dashboard

Pokemon Go Updates
We try to follow up on all of the major updates to the game.

Pokemon Go News!
Pokemon Go is a worldwide phenomena and a revolution in gaming that we are covering on a daily basis.  Here is the top Pokemon Go news!

Raid Cheat Sheets

GEN 2 is HERE!!! What you need to know

New features - NPCs, Quests, Dungeons and Badges

Pokemon War Journal
What is the Pokemon War? Why is Pokemon Go head directly toward it.  What are the clues we look at all of these things in the Pokemon War Journal!  Click on the link to learn more!

The Pokemon War Journal

Other News:

Pokemon Go Trainer Guide:
While Pokemon Go is absolutely a revolution and in many ways brilliant, it does not explain things very well.  There is no full official guide from Niantic.  As such we have tried to go through the most confusing parts of the game and add our own insights.

Starting Out:

Tracking / Finding / Catching:

Power Ups / Evolution / Eggs:

Find a cool Mobile Background for your phone:
It might not seem like much but adding a fun Pokemon Background can show your love for both the game and your Pokemon Go team.  This can help you meet other players who happen to check out your cool background on your phone.

How to Beat Tough Pokemon

We have compiled are popular HOW TO BEAT Pokemon in Pokemon Go into a nifty cheat sheet.  Bookmark it to pull up all the How to Beat information in a fast to locate place.

HOW TO BEAT Cheatsheet

There are some really tough Pokemon out there and particularly sitting in the gyms.  The Gym Pokemon tend to be each players most powerful Pokemon.  Some players have caught some tough rare Pokemon like the dreaded SNORLAX and others have built up and evolved their Pokemon like the feared Vaporeon.  Toylab is lucky to have multiple bloggers who are actively playing this game now have battle tested a few ways of taking down the best of the best.

We also have researched how to beat legendary Pokemon like Articuno, Mortres, Zappados and the dreaded Mewtwo!

Click Here to Return to Pokemon Go Dashboard


Click Here to Return to Pokemon Go Dashboard

Ms Marvel: Art, Pictures, and COSPLAY

Brie Larson as Captain Marvel

Brie Larson will be Captain Marvel and fan art work has begun to come out of Brie as the iconic hero.  However Marvel has yet to release anything official.  Carol Danvers has been depicted in many different ways over her years as a hero so certainly there are a lot of options to use.  My guess is that her look will be based off her recent runs as Captain Marvel.

The Captain Marvel cover with Carol donning that mantle for the first time has become iconic in a short amount of time.  I really think that will inspire the look as much as her previous looks will.
Captain Marvel #1

In an interview with IGN Brie described what Captain Marvel meant to her.
“I find it's really hard for me to condense what she means to me. I was once a young girl and I was confused by what a hero was and what I wanted to be when I grow up and what was important to me. And so, I think it's so complicated growing up and to attempt to become a symbol of truth and navigating through all the weird questions of growing up feels so, I’m getting emotional just talking about this, it feels so important to me. When it comes to her, I mean just the fact that she can be a bridge between two worlds, that she can go between Earth and space and that her own personal place is in this little area between where Earth ends and space begins and that’s only hers is so moving to me. I’m just inspired.”
She also described to IGN being asked about what her depiction of Captain Marvel will look like.
“I can’t say anything… I feel like this is a big conversation and every day I have people yelling at me on Twitter like you better have long hair, or you better have a mohawk, or you better wear the helmet, or you better not wear the helmet, so someone’s going to be mad.”
See more of Brie's interview with IGN at http://www.ign.com/videos/2017/02/21/brie-larson-knows-captain-marvels-hairdo-is-a-big-deal

Kris Anka's look:
Anka altered her look further by cutting her hair shorter, making her skinnier and less curvaceous.

Some have praised this look, and others outright hate it.

Mark Brooks look:
Mark Brooks is one of my favorite artists and he has drawn Carol in a way that is somewhat inbetween Anka's and her traditional look.

There is some great Ms Marvel artwork and COSPLAY out there.  Some of it is prior to Carol making her switch to Captain Marvel.

Here is cosplayer Belle Chere as Captain Marvel


Belle Chere Captain Marvel

More amazing art and cosplay!
See the Best COSPLAY At Denver COMIC CON 2014!
Who is Carol Danvers? Ms Marvel? Captain Marvel? 
 Scarlet Witch Pictures and COSPLAY

I think Greg Horn has done some of the best Ms Marvel covers.
Here is some of Greg's work with Ms Marvel.  In my opinion no one in her history has better covers than these of Carol.   (Note this is prior to Carol becoming Captain Marvel so she is in the Ms Marvel costume)


Other Ms Marvel works:

Ms Marvel Pinup by Okay2012

Ms Marvel by Comishart and Stacy Raven

Ms Marvel Costume

Marie Claude Bourbonnais as Ms Marvel

Here is Ivy Doom Kitty - (Professional COSPLAYER) as Ms Marvel
Ms Marvel Cosplay

Ms Marvel Cosplay

Ms Marvel Cosplay

Here are some of Carol Danvers in the new Captain Marvel costume

Dark Reign - Version of Ms Marvel Costume

Related Posts:
Who is Carol Danvers? Ms Marvel? Captain Marvel? 

More amazing art and cosplay!

Scarlet Witch Pictures and COSPLAY

Gamora Pictures and COSPLAY

See the Best COSPLAY At Denver COMIC CON 2014!

West Coast Avengers - Girl Power!


One interesting thing about West Coast Avengers is that you can see Marvel attempting to increase the number of female characters on the roster.  Out of the 5 founding members of the West Coast team 2 were females.  Now this may not seem like much but when you consider the initial Avengers team had only 1 out of 6, then this is a very significant increase.

Avengers  -  1 Female (Wasp) out of 6 members = 16%
West Coast Avengers - 2 Females (Mockingbird and Tigra) out of 5 members = 40%

 I think this was a deliberate move by Marvel to give more exposure to its female characters.  Traditionally, its been very difficult for female characters to carry a solo title comic book for very long.  DC's Wonder Woman has the best track record at maintaining a long running solo title.  For Marvel the female heroes have gone in out of publication in solo books with very little long-term success.  Female heroes however been more successful with the teams books like Avengers and X-Men.  Within these books Marvel successfully launched many female characters and they also created some unique and interesting characters.  In West Coast Avengers we get a lot of focus on two of these interesting females, Tigra and Mockingbird.

The West Coast Avengers did not just add these girls to the roster though.  They also were the primary focus of much of the team's early adventures.  Tigra's two soul problems are sorted out and she battles the demon based villain Master Pandemonium.  Tigra's story of self doubt is also one of the primary focuses of the first arc.   Meanwhile, Mockingbird and her relationship with Hawkeye is also a huge focus.  The story arc concerning Mockingbird killing Phantom Rider is also a major part of the stories.

Another female driven story is love story between Scarlet Witch and Vision and eventually the death of Vision and their children.  That crazy story sees all the important people in Scarlet Witch's life torn away from her and powerful mutant in mental shambles.  Eventually, this leads Scarlet Witch to alter the entire Marvel Universe in the House of M.

I think the stories for both of these female characters were significant enough that when you look back at them, the West Coast series was one of the primary, lime light moments in each of their publication histories.

Mockingbird joins her husband on the team and becomes his most stalwart support, and bitter foe.

Tigra joins reluctantly.  She really did not feel that she had what it took to be an Avenger.   She also must deal with her attraction to men, who also tend to be attracted to her.  Iron Man notices early on that Tigra wears a lot less clothes than any other Avenger he has been around before.

West Coast Avengers Sound Track  
Katey Perry - California Gurls - Its not a girl power anthem perse but it works.


All Avengers Movie news and speculation
Avengers who served on the West Coast Team include:
All Avengers Movie news and speculation

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