Don't mess with Captain America

Non-comic book fans might not have heard of him before.

But US comic book writer Nick Spencer became the most notorious guy in the Marvel Universe more than three months ago, when he essentially turned Marvel’s greatest superhero Captain America into a villain in the first issue of the comic book Captain America: Steve Rogers, which was published on May 25.

It ended with the revelation that the character is actually an undercover agent for evil fictional terrorist organisation Hydra, with him saying “Hail Hydra”.

It was a move that shocked so many fanboys, they started tweeting hateful comments and sending Spencer death threats on social media.

The 38-year-old is in town as a guest for this weekend’s Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention (STGCC).

At yesterday’s STGCC media preview, he told The New Paper: “It’s been a whirlwind couple of months, (but) it’s really nice when stories have this kind of an impact on the audience.

“I think I’m generally able to take (the hate) with a grain of salt and recognise that people say things on the Internet that they wouldn’t necessarily say in person. When it comes to social media, people let their passion get the best out of them.”

But the threats died down after the second issue of the comic book was released in June, and people started to see the bigger picture and understand that it was part of a story that Spencer and his team had been building for a while, which was that Captain America’s memories have been tampered with by Kobik – the sentient Cosmic Cube that assumed the shape of a four-year-old girl – who is under the control of the superhero’s enemy Red Skull.

Spencer said: “For the most part, I’m able to enjoy (my time of being infamous). It’s just a reflection of how passionate these people are about the characters (that they love), and people want to see the characters do well. So when someone does something bad to one of the characters, people get protective and defensive, and that’s okay, that’s a good thing.”

He added: “There was a whole month before people could get any answers, but it’s my job to keep readers on the edge of their seat and excited for the next issue, so we couldn’t just come out and say what people wanted to hear, which is that everything’s going to be okay.”

Spencer, who has been with Marvel since 2011 and is a New York Times best-selling writer, is also currently writing for other Marvel comic books such as The Astonishing Ant-Man and Captain America: Sam Wilson.

And nothing would make him “happier” than to see his work adapted for the big screen as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although it’s something writers like him “don’t have any say over”.

He cited how his peer Ed Brubaker revived the character of Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier in the Captain America (vol. 5) story arc taken from Out Of Time #6, which was published in 2005, and it “very quickly got turned into” the 2014 superhero blockbuster Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

“What we try to do is just tell the best story that we can, and if (Marvel) decide that’s something they can use, that would be amazing... Fingers crossed,” he said.
Spencer is naturally a big fan of the Marvel movies and the latest offering, this year’s Captain America: Civil War, is probably his favourite.

For him, the Marvel Cinematic Universe definitely trumps the DC Extended Universe.

“I’ve not been a big fan of the DC movies so far. (Out of the three - Man Of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Suicide Squad), I felt that Suicide Squad was the best, but I’m not saying that I liked it,”  he said with a laugh.

“I like the DC TV shows (such as The Flash) though - those are really well done.”

 
FYI
What:
Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention 2016
When: Tomorrow, 12pm to 8pm, and Sunday, 11.30am to 7.30pm
Where: Sands Expo & Convention Centre, Level B2, Halls E & F
Tickets: $19, $28, $120 and $190 from http://www.singaporetgcc.com/, authorised retail outlets Action City and Superheroes Galaxy and on site

Singapore Twitter users react to the iPhone 7 unveil

The reveal of the iPhone 7 last night has surprised many Apple fans.

At 1am this morning (local time), Apple unveiled its 2016 iPhone release: the iPhone 7.

Before the reveal, fans and speculators had leaked some possible new features that would likely come bundled with the iPhone 7. These included the lack of a headphone jack, brand new colours, and a camera with two lenses.

Most of these were confirmed during the reveal.

Singaporeans have since taken to Twitter to share their thoughts about the new features.

And it's not all pretty.

No more headphones???

A revolutionary feature of the iPhone 7 will be the removal of the standard 3.5mm headphone jack.

That is the hole in your phone that you plug your headphones into to listen to Taylor Swift's imminent breakup song.

While Apple has promised that you can still connect your headphone to its lightning port through an adaptor, the Internet doesn't feel it's too great.

Some local twitter users express their anger...

Some are resistant to this change...

One user laughed at the strange shape of the new airpods, which will ship with each set of new iPhones...

New colours!!

The new iPhone will also come in a two new colours.

Other than the three colours available for the iPhone 6s (rose gold, gold and silver), the iPhone 7 will boast two shades of black - "Jet black" and... plain old "black".

However, the high-gloss jet black is only available via the Apple website.

The wide variety of new colours have left Apple fans undecided on which colour their new iPhone should be...

Some are just stunned at how beautiful the new phones look...

But, in general, users seem quite excited by the unveiling. Yet, it remains to be seen what the iPhone 7 will bring... other than a cheaper price tag on the iPhone 6s.

Daniel Craig offered $202m to play Bond again?

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Nine kidnap victims found chained and starving in M'sia

RESTRAINED: (Above) The victims returned to their families once a RM15,000 ransom was paid.
RESTRAINED: Items seized by police.
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Vietnam experiences technology boom

Insider says untapped market is fast-growing

VIP VISIT: French President Francois Hollande (seated, second from right) in Ho Chi Minh City.
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#Hiddleswift splits, and thank goodness

Taylor Swift's reason for break-up - Tom Hiddleston's dire need for limelight - not convincing given their public romance

SWIFT AND SHORT: Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift hooked up just weeks after she split with Scottish singer-producer Calvin Harris in June.
SWIFT AND SHORT: Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift hooked up just weeks after she split with Scottish singer-producer Calvin Harris in June.
SWIFT AND SHORT: Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift hooked up just weeks after she split with Scottish singer-producer Calvin Harris in June.

Guess who made headlines with her break-up again?

In case you missed the news that broke the Internet yesterday, you'll be happy to know that British actor Tom Hiddleston is freed from his Taylor-made chains, just three months after getting together with the pop star.

Yes, the death of Hiddleswift (a portmanteau courtesy of fans) came after the Grammy-winning singer cited the Thor actor's dire need for the limelight as the cause for the split.

Naturally, the Internet went crazy, with hilarious memes from netizens.

And rightly so, given her infamous short-lived romantic relationships.

One Hiddleston fan said on Twitter: "#HiddleswiftIsOver my phone battery life lasts longer than Taylor Swift relationships. Tom was too good for her."

Another wrote: "Calvin Harris is somewhere in the world, reading the hashtag and slowly sipping his tea #Hiddleswift #TaylorSwift."

How true!

The couple were first seen together just weeks after Swift split with Scottish singer-producer Calvin Harris in Juneand poor Hiddleston was subjected to mockery by association, which now seems to have been for nothing.

Sources close to the couple say the split was an "amicable" one.

The pair were reportedly last seen together in mid-August, when they spent a quiet weekend at her Rhode Island home.

An insider from the Swift camp told Daily Mail that the 26-year-old felt "uncomfortable" with the 35-year-old actor's desire to be "so public" about their romance.

Let's take a moment to imbibe this revelation.

Need I remind everyone that this is the same woman who has written a whole repertoire of chart-topping tracks based on her slew of failed romances, including those with Joe Jonas, Harry Styles, Jake Gyllenhaal, Taylor Lautner, John Mayer and her high-school beau Jordan Alford?

Throughout the short-lived relationship, the pair remained mostly mum about their romance, but did Swift really think that frolicking on a beach was going to keep their relationship under wraps?

How about jetsetting escapades? They made trips to Italy, where they toured Rome and made out endlessly.

Then they went to Australia and there was live coverage of their plane landing on the televised morning news in Sydney.

Could their relationship have been more public than it already was? I don't think so.

The break-up, according to reports in the US, was sparked after the Brit heart-throb had asked to take the Bad Blood singer to the Emmy Awards as his date.

Hiddleston is nominated for a Best Actor Emmy for his role in The Night Manager.

Let's face it. It takes a real man to cast aside her infamous reputation for failed relationships and want to walk down that red carpet with her.

Poor Loki. I just hope he realises that he's better off without her - and the drama.

I guess this means Taytay is set to release a new single any day now.

In a meantime, grab your popcorn and keep an eye out for who's next.

Is anyone taking bets?

Share your views with Catherine at crobert@sph.com.sg

Ron Harper: Jordan's Bulls better than Curry's Warriors

Ron Harper, member of the legendary Chicago Bulls squad of the late 90s, says Curry's Warriors are no match for his Class of '96

He played alongside "His Airness" in the effervescent Chicago Bulls team that won three straight NBA Championships from 1996 to 1998.

And Ron Harper has no doubt that that Bulls side, led by arguably the greatest player of all time, Michael Jordan, would blow away Stephen Curry's current Golden State Warriors team that took the NBA by storm in the last two seasons.

In Singapore to coach local youths as part of the Junior NBA programme, Harper (right) chuckled when The New Paper brought up his tweet from last season saying the Bulls of '96 would "sweep" the Warriors if the two sides played each other at their peak.

"It's the truth, though," said the 54-year-old with a grin.

VERY CONFIDENT

"What makes us the superior team is that we were a very confident side.

"We had some very good basketball players on that team.

"We had the best basketball player in Michael Jordan.

"Then we had a guy by the name of Scottie Pippen, who maybe is one of the best all-round players.

"We also had a guy by the name of Dennis Rodman, who was very colourful, but also a great defensive player and awesome rebounder.

"And you can add all the roll guys they had - me, Steve Kerr, Toni Kukoc, Bill Wennington.

"We had a more talented team.

"We probably had six or seven guys that would start in most NBA teams."

The main driving forces of that legendary Bulls side was Jordan.

"Air Jordan" was known for his intensity and for demanding excellence from all around him, and Harper admitted his drive to win was a big factor in the team's success.

"He's competitive, you know. We all are competitive," he said.

"Anybody who plays professional sports hates to lose.

"MJ just wants you to work as hard as he does when he comes in every day.

"And that's all we want.

"For a guy to come in and compete every day."

On the numerous stories of Jordan trash-talking even his teammates, Harper replied: "We all trash-talked! He didn't trash-talk by himself.

"You think I didn't trash-talk to him?

"For example, when MJ first came back out of retirement (in 1995), he told me, 'You better go home and sleep, because tomorrow I'm going at you (in training)'.

"I said, 'Well, I'm going back at you too. I'm not scared of you...'.

"That's all it was."

Looking ahead to the new NBA season, which kicks off next month, Harper said he was intrigued to see how Curry's Warriors team would evolve and develop, especially after the capture of 2014 MVP and seven-time All-Star Kevin Durant.

He railed against critics who said Durant only joined the Warriors - NBA champions in 2015 - from the Oklahoma City Thunder because he wanted an "easy route" to a Championship ring.

NO EASY WAY

"There's no easy way," said Harper.

"Listen, he was a free agent.

"When I was a free agent, I signed for the Chicago Bulls.

"When LeBron James was free, he went to the Miami Heat.

"You play the game to win Championships, and Kevin Durant, who is a great player, has won none yet.

"He's given himself the best opportunity to.

"But there's no easy route."

The former LA Lakers man also chimed in on the recent "anthem protest" by Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers NFL team, who chose not to stand for the American national anthem before games, to protest police violence against African-Americans.

"It's a positive form (of protest), I think," said Harper.

"It gives people a chance to speak out, and gives him a chance to get his message out...

"And I have no problems with that.

"(A statement like that) is long overdue... So whatever Colin's standing up for, that's his right.

"And, as you saw over the last week and a half, we had three or four different athletes join in now.

"People want to have a conversation now.

"That's the big thing."

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Ivanovic done for the season

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