Archives for February 2014

Visit to the Childhood League Center

by Aaron Einhorn
The Childhood League Center is a preschool near Nationwide Childrens’ Hospital that provides preschool and special needs services to children from the ages of 18 months to 6 years old. Most of the enrolled children have special needs. Each year, a group of volunteers plan several activities throughout the year to enrich the students’ learning experience and provide respite for the caregivers. On Saturday, February 22, 2014, the volunteers offered a day of care for the children and to provide respite for the caregivers of these children. The members of the Heroes Alliance Ohio were invited out to take part in this day and to help brighten up the day for the children.

Batgirl, Captain America, Green Arrow, Green Lantern and Spider-Man were overjoyed to be able to go and visit with the children in their classrooms, getting to see the activities they were involved in, and to share hugs and high-fives with the kids.

Special thanks to Stephen Blanzaco and Rick Merola for out-of-costume support and photography.

Founded in 1945 by a group of visionary women, The Childhood League champions educational opportunities for all children. The Childhood League Center, located in downtown Columbus across the street from Nationwide Children’s Hospital, provides a broad range of early childhood educational programs and therapeutic services for children from birth to age 6 in an inclusive environment.

With generous support from the League, individuals and companies in the community, the Center is committed to providing the best possible early learning opportunities for children with and without special needs through a combination of home-based and Center-based programming. To learn more about the Childhood League Center and the Childhood League, visit http://www.childhoodleague.org/

To learn more about the Heroes Alliance, visit http://heroesalliance.org

Rebuilding a Superhero: Week Two

by Aaron Einhorn
Here we are, one week into consistently focusing on fitness, diet, health and costuming. And while we’re off to a slow start, it’s an encouraging one. I managed to stick to my calorie budget (for the most part), exercised all six days this past week as planned, and had some significant progress on both Cyclops and Captain America coming together.

Fitness

When I weighed myself this morning, Monday, February 24, 2014, I weighed 203 pounds after showering. I didn’t run this morning, but will tonight – so I could have weighed in a little lower than that if I had. My goal weight is initially to get to 185 lbs. again, and from there, I may shoot as low as 165 – but a well-muscled 185 is perfectly acceptable. Last week, I weighed in at 204.2 pounds, so we’ve got a little over a pound lost.

With the exception of Saturday, I tracked my food intake this past week using the LoseIt app on my iPhone. I am using the app to set myself a goal of losing two pounds a week, which gives me a rough calorie budget of this past week of 1,714 calories per day. I am also specifically using the app to track my recommended levels of Fats and Protein. Results:

  • Sunday, February 16: 1,681 (-33)
  • Monday, February 17: 1,485 (-229)
  • Tuesday, February 18: 1,562 (-152)
  • Wednesday, February 19: 1,547 (-167)
  • Thursday, February 20: 1,893 (+179)
  • Friday, February 21: 1,847 (+133)
  • Saturday: No tracking

My total for the week put me at 38 calories under budget for the week. I didn’t log any of my exercise in the app, which according to the specifics of the app, would have given me extra calories to eat.

I successfully hit my goal of working out six days this past week. Alternating Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday will be weight-training/circuit training using Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred, which was the backbone of most of my success last time around, and on Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays, I am returning to running. I’m using the Ease Into 5K app from BlueFin to motivate and log my running.

Sunday: 30 Day Shred, using 10 lbs. hand weights for the whole routine. I overdid this, and managed to strain some muscles in my right arm, which affected the rest of my workout schedule. Note to self: You can’t jump right back in with the same weight you had been using when you worked out regularly two years ago.
Monday: C25K, Week 1, Day 1. Most runs were performed at a 6 mph pace, and most walks were done at a 3.5 mph pace. Covered a total of 2.06 miles on the dreadmill, with most runs at a .5 incline.
Tuesday: 30 Day Shred, using 5 lbs. hand weights for everything except the Chest Flys in the third interval, which I used 10 lbs. for. This was a bit rough, because Cordy came downstairs and wanted to help, so I spend a lot of my time correcting her form.
Wednesday: C25K, Week 1, Day 2. Most runs were performed at a 6 mph pace, with every third performed at 6.5 mph and most walks were done at a 4 mph pace. Covered a total of 2.46 miles on the dreadmill, with most runs at a .5 incline.
Thursday: 30 Day Shred, using 5 lbs. hand weights for everything except the Chest Flys in the third interval, which I used 10 lbs. for.
Friday: C25K, Week 1, Day 3. Runs alternated between a 6 mph pace and a 6.5 mph pace and most walks were done at a 4 mph pace. Covered a total of 2.50 miles on the dreadmill, with most runs at a .5 incline.
Saturday: Rest Day

Costuming

There was a lot of progress on costumes completed this week, partially bumped forward because of needing to have Captain America ready this weekend for a Heroes Alliance event.

Cyclops (Claremont-Era Inspired)
This week, Cyclops saw his gloves and trunks arrive, his gloves get painted, and I got a replacement top that is a turtleneck instead of a crew neck. I also assembled the belt. All that remains on the costume now is to dye the trunks, and to re-touch the paint on the boots.

The gloves, from Leather Mystics, in their unpainted form.

The gloves, from Leather Mystics, in their unpainted form.

The gloves, now painted with Angelus leather paint, as recommended to me by my friend Allen Hansard. I will never again Nu-Life gloves.

The gloves, now painted with Angelus leather paint, as recommended to me by my friend Allen Hansard. I will never again Nu-Life gloves.

Belt assembled together. The buckle originally came from Peachykitty, whose shop can be found on Etsy, although I purchased it unpainted and painted it myself.

Belt assembled together. The buckle originally came from Peachykitty, whose shop can be found on Etsy, although I purchased it unpainted and painted it myself.

Costume assembled. The boots in this image still need to be touched up (they were the Captain 105s from Funtasma, and originally I used them for Jack of Hearts).

Costume assembled with the new turtleneck top. The boots in this image still need to be touched up (they were the Captain 105s from Funtasma, and originally I used them for Jack of Hearts).

Since the previous image looks a little "Captain Underpants," I pulled it into Photoshop and color-corrected the trunks and fixed the spots on the boots.

Since the previous image looks a little “Captain Underpants,” I pulled it into Photoshop and color-corrected the trunks and fixed the spots on the boots.

Captain America (The First Avenger Inspired)
It will be some time before I’ve got the money saved up to purchase a new shield (and I’m not really ready to undo all the work I did on my U.S. Agent shield), so in a stroke of amazing generosity, a good friend has loaned me his Factory X “Official” Shield of Captain America. At 27” diameter, this is considerably larger than the movie shield, as you can see thanks to my amazing model, Captain A-Mira-ca.

It is absolutely unfair that she is so much cuter in the helmet and holding the shield than I ever will be.

It is absolutely unfair that she is so much cuter in the helmet and holding the shield than I ever will be.

At the last minute, the Heroes Alliance Ohio team was invited to come out for an event this Saturday, and I desperately tried to get Cap assembled. Between the borrowed shield, my existing helmet, gloves, boots, belt and pouches, and the same suit I borrowed for the previous test picture shots, I managed to make it happen.

Captain America: The First Avenger, as he appeared for the kids at the Childhood League Center on Saturday.

Captain America: The First Avenger, as he appeared for the kids at the Childhood League Center on Saturday.

This is not a complete costume. For one thing, the suit seen here isn’t mine. For another, the gloves and boots both need the addition of straps and extra panels to resemble the versions used in the film. And once the suit does arrive, there are a lot of pieces to the suit that I intend to replace and upgrade. But it worked well enough for the kids to be overjoyed at meeting Captain America, which is the ultimate goal.

That’s where I’m at. Not a bad first week, I think. Thanks for sticking with me.

Rebuilding a Superhero: Week One

by Aaron Einhorn
Long, long ago, I created a column on Comic Hero News titled Superhero Transformation. This column existed to chronicle my efforts to get in shape and to build my first superhero costume in over a decade – Superman.

That effort was originally based around wearing the costume to San Diego Comic Con, but that costume ended up leading me into helping to create the Ohio Branch of the Heroes Alliance, and has led to a lot more costumes.

Of course, life being what it is, there have been changes since I originally dropped from 216 to 185 lbs. Changing work schedules and increased activity from my children has given me less time to work out, and bad food habits have crept back into my life.

A few months back, I noticed that the scale was creeping north of 200 pounds again. And I have been halfheartedly keeping track of my food intake and trying to work out somewhat regularly. But there have been times the lure of a Snickers bar has been too hard to resist, and many mornings that I would rather lay on the couch playing Marvel Avengers Alliance on Facebook instead of throwing in Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred or jumping on the treadmill.

Today, I weighed myself and realized that despite those half-hearted efforts, the scale has not budged in two weeks. And while it’s possible that there has been some muscle build to offset some fat loss, I’m neither feeling it nor seeing it.

To paraphrase Wanda Maximoff, “No more cheating.”

Nothing keeps me accountable as much as a public log of my efforts, and so that’s what I’m doing again. This won’t just be a log of my fitness though, because that would be utterly boring and of no interest to anyone who is coming here for the superhero stuff. I will also be showing off my WIP for the costumes I’m currently working on.

Fitness

When I weighed myself this morning, Monday, February 17, 2014, I weighed 204.2 pounds. This was after running this morning, and showering. My goal weight is initially to get to 185 lbs. again, and from there, I may shoot as low as 165 – but a well-muscled 185 is perfectly acceptable.

My intention is to track my food using the LoseIt app on my iPhone. I am using the app to set myself a goal of losing two pounds a week, which gives me a rough calorie budget of 1,714 calories per day. I am also specifically using the app to track my recommended levels of Fats and Protein. For future weeks, I will be including my daily results on sticking to that goal.

I also intend to work out six days a week. Alternating Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday will be weight-training/circuit training. I’m starting off with using Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred, which was the backbone of most of my success last time around. I intend to add some more intense upperbody and ab exercises in the evenings of those days as well, but those will not be for a few weeks, because my arms are plenty sore right now just from doing that video yesterday.

On Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays, I am returning to running. I’m using the Ease Into 5K app from BlueFin to motivate and log my running. I used their app last time, and got myself to the point where I did successfully run a few 5Ks without stopping to walk during the runs. I’d like to get back to that.

Daily run results and whether or not I actually did Jillian Michaels’ routine will be recorded here as well, starting next week.

Costuming

I’m currently mostly focusing on two costumes right now, with a third project slowly percolating on the back burner.

Cyclops (Claremont-Era Inspired)
Cyclops has always been my favorite of the X-Men, and Chris Claremont’s run on the comics through the eighties and into the nineties has always been my favorite timeframe for the book (up until just now). So, I’m aiming to do a costume mostly focused on that suit.

Here’s what I have so far.

The raw, unpainted kit for the visor. I lucked into a steal for the visor, and that's why this is a Claremont-era inspired costume, instead of strictly faithful.

The raw, unpainted kit for the visor. I lucked into a steal for the visor, and that’s why this is a Claremont-era inspired costume, instead of strictly faithful.

The visor, cleaned, sanded, painted, and assembled.

The visor, cleaned, sanded, painted, and assembled.

Wearing the visor with the hood and spandex top. This isn't the actual top I'll be wearing, which will be a mock turtleneck. The navy of the hood and the shirt aren't a perfect match, but they're close enough.

Wearing the visor with the hood and spandex top. This isn’t the actual top I’ll be wearing, which will be a mock turtleneck. The navy of the hood and the shirt aren’t a perfect match, but they’re close enough.

My belt buckle, sanded and painted. I have a red leather belt to attach this to - I just need to figure out how I want to do so.

My belt buckle, sanded and painted. I have a red leather belt to attach this to – I just need to figure out how I want to do so.

I also have a pair of white leather gauntlets from Leather Mystics, which will be painted yellow with Angelus paint, and a pair of Captain-105 boots from Funtasma by Pleaser, which are already painted yellow, but need a bit of touch-up. This makes this costume almost completed, once I do some painting, complete the belt, and acquire a new set of yellow briefs. Expect to see updates for this costume next week.

Captain America (The First Avenger Inspired)
Captain America is hugely popular with kids right now, thanks to the success of the Marvel movies. I actually already have a U.S. Agent costume, but the truth is that when I wear him for events, kids treat me like I’m Cap, and it’s easier to tell them that this is just a different costume than my “normal” uniform and be Cap for them.

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So, I’m working on creating a new Cap suit, and hope to have it ready in time for a Heroes Alliance Ohio event we’re doing for the premiere of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

This is the helmet of the costume, made by the awesome folks at Malmey Studios.

This is the helmet of the costume, made by the awesome folks at Malmey Studios.

The gloves, as a base version. I'm going to weather them, add the wrist strap, cuffs, and then split the seam and add the buckle at the wrist.

The gloves, as a base version. I’m going to weather them, add the wrist strap, cuffs, and then split the seam and add the buckle at the wrist.

The base for the boots. These need weathered, and to have the cuffs/buckles added. They're not the Cocoran's that are screen-accurate, but they're a good enough match and were a quarter of the cost.

The base for the boots. These need weathered, and to have the cuffs/buckles added. They’re not the Cocoran’s that are screen-accurate, but they’re a good enough match and were a quarter of the cost.

These are vintage WWII ammo pouches, and will be worn on the belt of the costume. They're not exactly the ones seen in the film, but they're a good enough match.

These are vintage WWII ammo pouches, and will be worn on the belt of the costume. They’re not exactly the ones seen in the film, but they’re a good enough match.

This is the base cosplay suit. This version was ordered by a friend of mine, but mine has been ordered and is on it's way. It needs modification, including replacing hardware, changing out the star on the chest, and adding a red stripe that will go over the zipper in the front, but it's not a bad base, I don't think.

This is the base cosplay suit. This version was ordered by a friend of mine, but mine has been ordered and is on it’s way.
It needs modification, including replacing hardware, changing out the star on the chest, and adding a red stripe that will go over the zipper in the front, but it’s not a bad base, I don’t think.

That’s where I’m at. Hopefully some of you have read this far and will keep me motivated. And maybe I’ll be able to motivate some of you.

EDITED: Why The Fantastic Four Reboot May Be Approaching Race and Gender All Wrong

by Aaron Einhorn
EDIT: Josh Trank has taken to Twitter to debunk the idea of a female Doctor Doom. Of course, directors have been known to lie in interviews.

Big news out of the superhero film and television casting arena this past week, with much of it focusing on Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot, and the CW’s Flash TV pilot. And it shows us where we, as comic fans, have fallen dreadfully behind on the whole idea of gender and racial equality.

To be frank, comics are dominated by straight, white men doing heroic deeds. This isn’t to say there aren’t women, people of other ethnicities and members of the LGBT community to be found in the pages of our superheroic funnybooks, but for the most part, it’s a whole lot of straight, white dudes.

The superhero costumed charity group I’m a part of has broken down characters into tiers, based on popularity and recognizability of the characters. Our “A” tier consists of Superman, Supergirl Batman, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man (and possibly Robin) – and it’s hard to argue that these characters aren’t the most well-known superheroes to American audiences. Our “B” tier consists of characters who are recognizable typically due to their supporting roles alongside the A-List heroes (so, the more popular Justice League members), have seen a swell of popularity (the characters who have appeared in Marvel’s Cinematic universe), or are a part of a recent and successful television series. Also, “family” members that share a chest emblem with the A-List characters.

So, between the A and B tiers, you basically have Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl and Black Widow to represent women. And you have (maybe) John Stewart Green Lantern, Nick Fury and Cyborg to represent people of color. You get a few more women and Storm in there if you include the X-Men in the B-Tier.

In other words, there clearly needs to be more done to bring female characters and non-white characters to the forefront. And in general, I am all for that. This also means that I have no problem when a casting director wants to change the gender or racial make-up of a character – most of the time.

You want to make Perry White into Lawrence Fishburn? Go for it. Jimmy Olsen becomes Jenny? Sure, why not? Nick Fury transforms from David Hasselhoff into Samuel L. Jackson? I think most of us consider this an enhancement. And if Heimdall needs to be played by Idris Elba, then the rest of us are grateful for that.

candice_patton_headshotSo, in an example of “doing it right,” I was more than happy to see that the CW has cast Candice Patton in The Flash as Iris West. Fans of the comic know that Iris ultimately ends up marrying Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), so if the pilot goes well, we can expect to see her for some time.

In case you haven’t picked up on it from the photo, Ms. Patton is bi-racial, being born to an African-American mother and a Caucasian father. She also happens to be gorgeous, and has a long enough filmography to be regarded as a serious actress.

I haven’t seen any of her previous work, so I can’t comment on her ability directly. But I can say that she certainly seems qualified, she’s good-looking enough to easily attract an audience on TV, and other than how it potentially affects the racial makeup of Wally West (who becomes Kid Flash, and eventually replaces Barry in the comics), I don’t see how changing her ethnicity from being a white woman into a woman of mixed racial identity affects the core of the character.

(I do have friends who have pointed out that potentially changing Wally’s parentage, when Wally was specifically raised by a conservative white couple could be problematic. But on the other hand, I have many doubts about this show ever lasting long enough for Wally to even appear, so I’m not overly concerned.)

All in all, I’m still looking forward to The Flash. Grant Gustin charmed me as Barry Allen when he appeared on Arrow, and I’m ready to see more. The casting of Candice Patton is a welcome addition, in my opinion.

michael_b_jordan_headshot_1Now, in a case of “getting it wrong,” we need look no further than Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot. Josh Trank (who directed Chronicle, the very well-received and critically regarded not-quite-superhero film) has been tapped to direct the film. So far, the only confirmed casting is Michael B. Jordan (who also appeared in Chronicle), who is attached as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch.

Now, I’ve got no problems with this casting, in and of itself. Because there’s no reason that a 2014 version of Johnny Storm can’t be black, while still retaining every element of his personality that makes him that character. And Michael Jordan is a very talented and skilled actor – I loved him in Chronicle, and quite enjoyed his (all-too-brief) appearance on NBC’s Parenthood.

So, seriously, the idea of making him Johnny Storm? I am entirely behind that. I think it’ll be great, and a welcome opportunity to take a character who has always been white in the comics, change his race, and add some much-needed diversity to the superheroic line-up. And it’s not like all of the existing comics, movies, TV shows and films where the Human Torch is a white kid are suddenly going to be winked out of existence because of this movie.

Bring on Michael Jordan as the Human Torch!

But here are the actresses that, according to The Hollywood Reporter, are currently in the running for Sue Storm.

Emmy Rossum

Emmy Rossum

Kate Mara

Kate Mara

Emmy Rossum and Kate Mara are both fine actresses, and I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing either of them as Sue Storm. But they aren’t black.

If you want to cast Michael Jordan as Johnny, then you should cast a black actress as Sue. If you want to cast Emmy Rossum or Kate Mara as Sue, then you should cast a black actor as Johnny. While it’s possible that you could include a throw-away line about them being adopted siblings into the script, it seems counter-intuitive.

Racially-blind casting is great, but you need to be consistent about it. And just in case I’m unclear on my position, I would be happy to see a black actress cast as Sue, and fairly upset to see Michael Jordan kicked out of his role as Johnny.

(And here is where someone will bring up the fact that, in Thor, Idris Elba and Jaime Alexander don’t look like natural born siblings. But the fact that Sif and Heimdall are brother and sister was never brought up in that movie, and really isn’t essential to the film. I’m not even entirely certain we ever see the two of them directly interact. But the sibling relationship between Johnny and Sue is integral to these characters.)

(Incidentally, if Fox did defy expectations and cast a black actress as Sue, I would be all the happier to see the relationship develop between Reed and Sue, and would, in fact, be eager to see the franchise succeed so that we eventually had a bi-racial Franklin Richards. Because if there was ever a time to make the most powerful mutant born in the Marvel Universe into a bi-racial kid, it’s now.)

Fox is also looking at Miles Teller for Reed Richards, and possibly Christian Cook for Ben Grimm. Aside from the fact that these two actors are both roughly the same ages as the actors being looked at for Johnny and Sue, I don’t have much to say about that particular bit of casting, which strikes me as wrong.

But here’s the quote that gets to me.

Dr. Doom is said to be the villain of the reboot (the character appeared in Fox’s two previous movies and was played by Julian McMahon). The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision is hearing that the studio is likely to go for a big name and isn’t ruling out switching genders for the role.

A female villain is a great idea. An absolutely fantastic idea, in fact. And to be honest, there is absolutely no reason that the relationship between Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom couldn’t be just as well captured if they made Victor into Victoria.

Cosplayer: Constantine In Tokyo  Photographed by: JwaiDesign

Cosplayer: Constantine In Tokyo
Photographed by: JwaiDesign

But… I don’t have any faith that they’ll do that right. Years of experience with Hollywood have taught me that there will be some element of jilted romance between Reed and “Victoria,” and all of the things that we love about Doctor Doom will end up coming off as nothing more than her being “a woman scorned.”

I can’t help but feel like Fox isn’t really interested in making a Fantastic Four movie. They want to make a film about four young-adult superheroes and their nemesis, and they want the marketing power that comes with the name. But they clearly aren’t interested in exploring the thing that makes the FF who they are – namely the family dynamic. And that’s ok – because as Disney/Pixar showed us with The Incredibles, you can create a great movie that is inspired by the FF without making it about them.

But money, oh you cynical beast, money. Fox isn’t going to let go of a multi-million dollar license and let it back into the hands of Marvel, even though integrating the Fantastic Four with Marvel’s existing cinematic universe would be awesome. So, they’ll push on with their film, and when it fails, they’ll say “I guess you can’t make a good movie about the Fantastic Four,” and shelve the property.

Until the license is up for renewal again…

EDITED TO ADD:
Josh Trank has taken to Twitter to debunk The Hollywood Reporter‘s article, writing:

The THR gender speculation is also bullshit. Next.

Of course, it’s worth noting that Directors and Studios have been known to lie to discredit advance news. It’s also worth noting that the original article never said that Doom would be a female, just that the studio was open to the possibility.

Still, I think it’s safe to say that, for the moment, the idea of Doom being a woman, should be taken with a tablespoon-sized dose of salt.

(Credits: Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter, Jwai Design Photography, and Constantine in Tokyo)

New Trailer for Captain America: The Winter Soldier

by Aaron Einhorn
So, I was watching the Superbowl. And then this happened.

Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-Poster