MARVEL! Shut up and take my money now!

Marvel has become the company who has a license to print money.

It’s got the top comic books out there, its TV show Agents of SHIELD is ready to head into its second season. Its got licensing up the yazoo, and it has one of the highest-grossing motion pictures of all time in The Avengers. It has got a slate of movie and television projects on the table that will take it at least 15 years to complete, and at the top of that list is The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Entertainment Weekly’s cover story this week, in advance of the San Diego Comic-Con, shows Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans as Iron Man and Captain America, standing in front of Ultron, the robotic figure, whose construction was well-intentioned on the part of its creator, Tony Stark.

For better or worse (trust us, it’s worse), his Tony Stark has devised a plan that won’t require him to put on the Iron Man suit anymore, and should allow Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and the Hulk to get some much needed R&R as well. His solution is Ultron, self-aware, self-teaching, artificial intelligence designed to help assess threats, and direct Stark’s Iron Legion of drones to battle evildoers instead.

The only problem? Ultron (played by James Spader through performance-capture technology) lacks the human touch, and his superior intellect quickly determines that life on Earth would go a lot smoother if he just got rid of Public Enemy No. 1: Human beings. “Ultron sees the big picture and he goes, ‘Okay, we need radical change, which will be violent and appalling, in order to make everything better’; he’s not just going ‘Muhaha, soon I’ll rule!’” producer-director Joss Whedon says, rubbing his hands together.

In the comics, Ultron was created by scientist Hank Pym, who was also a member of the Avengers as Ant-Man (also as Giant Man and YellowJacket over the years — long story). Pym will be introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe next year as well, played by Michael Douglas in the film Ant-Man — which is set to be filmed this fall at the new Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayetteville.

Presumably, there will be a teaser or trailer or something for  at Comic-Con. And I. Can’t. Wait!

Thor? A woman?! Really, Marvel?

The cover of this fall’s ‘Thor‘ #1

I guess DC doesn’t have a monopoly on screwing up characters.

Just a few short weeks after Marvel announced that a new man would wield the red, white and blue shield of Captain America and that the seemingly immortal Wolverine would indeed die, came an announcement that there would also be a new Thor — but that Thor would be a woman.

“This new Thor isn’t a temporary female substitute – she’s now the one and only Thor, and she is worthy!” Marvel editor Wil Moss said in the release.

Series writer Jason Aaron also emphasized that point: “This is not She-Thor. This is not Lady Thor. This is not Thorita. This is THOR. This is the THOR of the Marvel Universe. But it’s unlike any Thor we’ve ever seen before.”

Now, on the other side of the coin, and in Marvel’s defense, a similar hue and cry went up a year and a half ago, when Peter Parker was mind-swapped with arch foe Otto Octavius, then killed in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man, which led to not only an end of that title, but a complete change of the status quo for the Spider-Man character. A year later, the “Superior Spider-Man” made way for a return by Peter Parker as your “friendly neighborhood Amazing Spider-Man.”

DC earned the ire of many fans in 2011 when it completely jettisoned its entire 75 year history and continuity in favor of “The New 52” — a slate of 52 monthly titles, that by now have, for the most part, been replaced by other “New 52” titles. The unapologetic DC has moved toward a catering to the lowest common denominator and moved away from a unified history driven by intelligent stories and strong continuity over the years.

What does the future hold for Marvel’s new direction? Time will tell.

The KKK is recruiting in Atlanta!? What year is it again!?

The Ku Klux Klan is at it again — trying to recruit new members to its cause. As if that was bad enough, the even crazier thing is that a group tied to them spent this past weekend in the middle of the city of Atlanta, practically in the shadow of Sweet Auburn and the MLK Memorial, posting fliers on telephone poles and walls.

The fliers, which feature the legend “Loyal White Knights Neighborhood Watch” and a graphic showing a hooded klansman pointing in an Uncle Sam-like pose with the caption “The KKK Wants You,” were posted to walls and telephone poles in the Cabbagetown area.

The signs were ripped down shortly after they were posted.

The signs were very similar to ones posted in several Alabama towns last month. They’ve been recruiting across other parts of the nation quite a bit lately.

I know that a lot of conservatives are not happy with President Obama. Neither am I, but this is going completely off the deep end of the gene pool.

Then again, maybe it’s best the Klan-types are doing this — so we know which idiots ought to be deported and sent over to Al Qaeda land. Deport ’em anywhere. Just get ’em out of this country and away from civilized folk.

From the “It seemed like a good idea at the time” department

Los Angeles Angels at Chicago White Sox on July 3, 2014

During a rainy game last week, the Chicago White Sox tried to do the right thing by fans at US Cellular Field (I still want to call it Comiskey Park, no matter what!) and gave away white rain ponchos.

Rain, ponchos, sounds good, right?

It didn’t come out that way. Television images of fans at the game with the ponchos on, looked for all the world like a modern-day Ku Klux Klan rally.

I’m sure somebody in the front office was left slapping their heads and giving the Homer Simpson “D’oh!”

Costco backs down on decision to pull book

Thousands of Costco members threatened the warehouse retailer by way of their Facebook page on the heels of the wholesaler’s decision to pull copies of a recently-published book by anti-Obama author Dinesh D’Souza.

The company insisted the decision to pull “America: Imagine a World Without Her” was financial, not political. In interviews Wednesday, Costco’s CEO, Craig Jelinek said the controversy was overblown. He said the book was selling poorly. After beginning sales in 249 locations in early June, by early July, the title had only sold 3,753 copies — or less than 15 copies per store, according to The Seattle Times. Jelinek went on to say the book was being brought back to Costco’s shelves after the outcry over the removal has shot sales into orbit.

According to Newsmax.com, the book had sold some 700 copies in Costco locations over the past week.

This is not the first time that Costco’s book sales efforts have resulted in controversy. Last year, the chain mistakenly included The Bible in the fiction section at one of its warehouse locations.

In a statement, Jelinek said the uproar was “completely unwarranted,” insisting that “Costco is not a bookstore.” He says the chain cannot carry every title members want to read.

Many of Costco’s executives are open backers of Democratic candidates. Conversely, Republican darling and possible presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson is a member of Costco’s board.

Even Mr. Stamper likes the Falcons

Actor Michael Kelly, best known to fans of the Netflix hit series House of Cards as Frank Underwood’s right hand man Harry Stamper, is a die-hard Atlanta Falcons fan, which many of the Falcon faithful found out with a new profile on the Falcons’ website this week.

Kelly is a Philadelphia native, but despite his birth home being “up there,” he claims Atlanta as his home. His family moved to Lawrenceville when he was a youngster, and he spent a number of his years here before moving to Houston for a brief stint. When his family returned to Atlanta in his pre-teen years, his Atlanta fandom began to grow. Though the popular actor has lived in New York for 20 years now, he spends much of his free time deep in Falcons news. More details on AtlantaFalcons.com.