Monday, July 25, 2016

News Occurred at Comic-Con International/SDCC 2016. I'll Talk About Some of it Now

Comic-Con International/SDCC occurred and some stuff happened.
Just to start, don't expect anything involving the, "Fantastic Four," in comics anytime soon, although Marvel claims to have a, "Long-term plan," for the characters. I assume that means doing nothing with them for a long term.

There were tons of movie trailers, from, "Wonder Woman," to, "Justice League," on the DC side, and, "Doctor Strange," and some teasers for the upcoming, "Thor," flick on the Marvel side. There was a, "Kong: Skull Island," preview too, but of all the samplings, it was actually a trailer  that is under two-minutes long and for a television show that really caught my interest. The video for the Marvel and Fox team-up, "Legion," looked so phenomenally weird and tonally varied it really drew my eye. One website described it as, "Eclectic," and that is an understatement. This article here on Vulture has all the clips of note.
On the subject of movies, Kurt Russel is going to be Ego the Living Planet in the 2nd, "Guardians of the Galaxy," flick. That is fascinating and I doubt anyone would have predicted that.

Someone from Bleeding Cool pissed off Brian Azzarello when a discussion occurred which pointed out the new, "Killing Joke," animated movie really makes Barbra Gordon/Batgirl look bad as a character (emotionally needy, unstable, and more). I don't think Azzarello needed to yell-out into the crowd that the person talking was a, "Pussy." That makes the whole thing a train-wreck from the movie to the panel where the insult occurred.

Brie Larson is officially Captain Marvel. I've liked her in the stuff I've seen that featured her talents, so I would say this is good news.

Besides those links it was all smaller announcements such as a Young Adult book featuring Miles Morales, "Jurassic World," comics coming out in the future, and how the X-Men are going to fight a bunch of characters yet again, but this time it is the Inhumans instead of the Avengers. Hey, after the aforementioned destruction of the, "Fantastic Four," I"m just happy the mutants still get comics too. Still, not too much to discuss from this year's convention.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The 2nd Season of, "Frisky Dingo," in 2007 Uncomfortably Predicted What Donald Trump's Campaign for the Presidency Would Be Like

Back in 2007 there was a cartoon made by the people who later created, "Archer," and went on to immense success. Before, "Archer," however they made, "Sealab 2021," and then two seasons of the show, "Frisky Dingo." In the 2nd season of, "Frisky Dingo," two people run for President: A super-villain posing as a good guy and a dumb-ass billionaire. They are both basically represented now in 2016 in the form of one person--Donald Trump. At one point a character suddenly finds religion (ring a bell?), corporations play an uncomfortable role in it all, and the whole thing is a shit-show.
A super-villain who wants to destroy the world, and Killface.
While the first season of, "Frisky Dingo," features the super-villain (Killface) facing off against a crappy hero (the billionaire named Xander Crews) in the 2nd season Killface accidentally cures global warming when in his effort to push the Earth into the Sun it actually moves away three feet. This results in Killface taking advantage of an easily-fooled country and running for President. Then Xander Crews runs as well because he's a rich guy who wants to be taken seriously after everyone mocking him. Hell, there even is a political ad where Killface stands at the border of Mexico with a wall talking about reducing immigration. Yeah, pretty strange.
Idiotic billionaire Xander Crews
About 3/4th of the way through the season they quit running for President and the show goes back to its hero-and-villain shenanigans but before that it follows a faux-documentary style and discusses politics. Much of the cartoon is just silly jokes but those ominous moments about a horrific person trying to be President are echoed by this awful man named Donald Trump. An old cartoon that just wanted to be absurd and funny really predicted some things uncomfortably well, and that in and of itself is terrifying.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Rant-Reviews: Getting Indie With It!

Lesser-Known but Not Lesser-Quality
There are of course the bigger publishers who sell bunches of copies of their books and get mainstream-media attention, mass-market deals--all that jazz. There are plenty of smaller independent publishers with books worth reading and discussing too however. Let's spotlight some of those books and maybe I can get you interested in something you might have otherwise missed out on.

Checking Out the Indies
4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #2
An intriguing book from the publisher Black Mask Comics, this series has centered on some young friends who have become embroiled in all kinds of crime-situations not even most grown-ups would be comfortable with. The mixture of humor put in the story by writer Matthew Rosenberg and the amazing art by Tyler Boss results in a really fun read. Tyler's fascinating way he lays-out a page depending on the situation works perfectly. When one character uses a computer he splits the page into a fascinating mixture of wires and digital imagery, for example. This group of friends is falling further and further down a rabbit hole of trouble, and I'm eager to see how wild things will get.
5 out of 5 stars.

Kim and Kim #1
Another comic from Black Mask, "Kim and Kim," can best be described as a buddy-comedy about bounty hunters set in outer-space with LGBTQ themes and discussions. I guess that isn't an especially simple description, but, "Kim and Kim," is a pretty delightfully complex book in some ways and straightforward in others. There is a lot of plot and scene-setting, but overall it is a story about two bounty hunters who discover their target maybe isn't the bad guy. Again, sounds kind of cliché, but the injection of science-fiction scene-setting and the delightful inclusion of discussion about sexual fluidity are welcome. Plus, when was the last time a comic had a trans person as a main character--and handled that well as opposed to it being some kind of stunt or horribly-written and offensive stereotype? "Kim and Kim," has a solid first issue here that maybe wasn't amazing, but was without a doubt a good read.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

SSBII
The acronym-filled sequel to Eric Powell's highly controversial, "Satan's Sodomy Baby," this book sets out to be silly, tasteless, and crass, and quite handily succeeds. Published by Powell's own, "Albatross Funnybooks," this title goes all-in on the idea of how people are both at once too sensitive about their own feelings and not sensitive enough towards the feelings of others. It mocks, "Liberals who hate comics with sexy drawings," and idotic, "Gamergaters," in the same page, points out the idiocy of people who claim we need more guns and that states should secede, really insults Donald Tump and concludes with the idea that if people can't figure out how to be good to each other regardless of our views we are probably all going to die in a fiery nuclear blast--one that is basically a self-inflicted death for our world due to the sheer moronic nature of humanity (that's a mouthful).

This is written and illustrated by Powell, and you can see his effort in every panel. It's dark, depressing, and also pretty funny even if a few jokes fall flat (aren't we past mocking Tom Brady at this point? I mean, yeah, he sucks, but it's just a fact of life). If you're easily offended this book will make you scream in rage, but if you can handle some hard truths being spoken--albeit in an often gross way--you will probably quite enjoy this book.
4 out of 5 stars.

Solarman #1
Originally a Marvel character, this version of Solarman published by Scout comics (becoming especially known for their, "Henchgirl," comic), is a very different take on the character, but doesn't yet have a particular, "Hook," to get me especially excited. We a have genius hacker who gains the power of the sun and appears ready to fight injustice, alien invasions, and etc. It all looks good and the story is decent, but nothing really impressed me enough to have me go, "I gotta read the next issue!" It is just a mish-mash of ideas put together (The kid is a hacking genius! Earth fights aliens!) and I'm not sure how well it will all gel together. Still, as I mentioned, the art is really solid and there isn't anything particularity bad about the story. it just is an above-average and unremarkable opening to the series. Perhaps it will really take off or it could just end-up as a pretty good yarn. We shall see.
3 out of 5 stars.

The Ravening #1
Published by Boundless, this publisher is in fact an imprint of Avatar Press so it maybe isn't exactly a tiny independent publisher, but the Boundless books have been interesting little titles with relatively smaller print runs (and considering how many covers an issue can have, certain versions can be really hard to find), so I'll count it as a smaller-indie because I made-up these arbitrary rules for this post and can bend them any which-way. Anyways, "The Ravening," is another one of Boundless' new comics that draw from old Avatar Press series to tell new stories while including excerpts of the old comics as back-matter. Some of the books are better than others but up to this one they have existed separate from each other in their own, "Universe," of sorts. This title actually draws from the, "Hellina," comic however to tell its story of two vampire women who as a result of losing their fathers now have to try and run their respective vampire, "Houses," while putting up with threats from other blood-sucking groups as well as shape-shifters.

If you're been reading any of the other Boundless books that reboot old series you know what to expect by now--humorous stories, bloody fights, and surprisingly explicit sex-scenes for a book that isn't straight-up porn, but clearly likes to show adult situations mixed with some solid storytelling and a dash of humor. Thanks to the solid art and good writing these books aren't just awfully-done, "Dirty comics," but instead are quite enjoyable reads that happen to also be a good deal raunchy in nature. A bit of a guilty pleasure-type read for sure, but when a book is this much fun you don't really mind.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Try Something New and Different!
Some of these books may be harder to find on the stand at your comic-shop unless they are the kind of store that orders a wide array of titles. Should you want to seek these out I would recommend trying various internet sites that sell copies, and as always, if you want future independent-books one big thing you can do is ask your local comic-seller to order you a copy. That way they know they've got a guaranteed sale for a book and the publishers behind these fine wares can feel more comfortable about how many copies their books might sell.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Rant-Reviews: Image and Marvel

Open-Up With The Text
I've read an assortment of books from Image and Marvel. These were some books I wanted to take the time out to discuss, although there is still plenty else of note from the companies (Loving me, "The Fix," for example).

Some Reviews For Your Eyeballs
The Wicked and the Divine #21
You know, the same team behind this book does, "Phonogram," yet that book has always struggled to get anywhere near the numbers this title does. That's a shame as  both books are amazing in their own unique ways, with this arc of, WIC+DIV, as it is also known, being so jam-packed with action and startling reveals it basically is one big pay-off for those of us who waited patiently throughout the (mostly) McKelvie-less, "Commercial Suicide," arc that at times was a bit slow. I didn't know we would go from, "A bit slow," to, "Mother-loving breakneck speed," however, but I'm loving it immensely. A must-read book from some must-read creators.
5 out of 5 stars.

Horizon #1
It takes the entirety of the debut issue to get to what is the apparent point of the comic--aliens are preemptively invading Earth to keep us from invading them. There are all kinds of great allegories in that idea, but the book just takes its sweet time getting us there. Before that we witness some perfectly passable art showing an alien on what is basically a road-trip, making its way to a meet-up point whilst fixing broken equipment she has. The actual concept of the story is fascinating, but I was just bored waiting for us to get there. I'll check out the 2nd issue in hopes that helps move things along, but this debut was just way too decompressed for me to get especially excited, even with that killer reveal of the comic's plot finally appearing at the end.
2 out of 5 stars.

Snotgirl #1
This has gotten immense press because the writer is someone beloved by many for his, "Scott Pilgrim," comics, Byan Lee O'Malley. The art is very expressive and by Leslie Hung who has done webcomics before but I think this might be her first work to be published (besides webcomics that were then collected)? I honestly was really ready to write this book off until the last few pages suddenly made things really interesting with a huge zag where I expected the book to keep zigging. Basically we follow the adventures of Lottie, a self-adsorbed fashion blogger who has bad allergies and terrible friends. A lot of plot and story is expressed via social-media messages as illustrated in the comic, everyone is in their 20's and thinks the world revolves around them. It took me a bit to realize, but those shocking last pages make it clear that perhaps we aren't supposed to like Lottie, and maybe just maybe this book is going to be a Hell of a lot darker and more intriguing than the preceding pages focused on dating-drama and fashion-concerns make it seem. Should that be the case this book has gone from a yawn-inducing story about shallow, "Millennials," to a delightfully twisted story about how one person's narcissistic obsession with being perfect can lead to violent results.
4 out of 5 stars (thanks to the extremely surprising cliff-hanger).

Moon Knight #4
With this latest issue we see the creative team of Jeff Lemire, Greg Smallwood, and Jordie Bellaire firing on all cylinders. The story continues to be mysterious but it is looking like a number of questions will be answered--or at least addressed to some degree. We soon should soon know what the deal is with this, "Other," Moon Knight running about, and I for one am greatly enjoying this take on the character with its mixture of mysticism and surrealism.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Vision #9
Upon reading this issue I actually went, "Okay, yeah, I can maybe see now why The Vision does some of the things it has been warned he is destined to do (e.g. attack the Avengers). Tom King has been expertly building an incredible piece of fiction here, however, and with Mike Del Mundo's stellar artwork and fantastic colors by Jordie Bellaire (whom I just mentioned as she seems to be on all the great books) I really am starting to agree with people who say this is kind of like, "Marvel's 'Watchmen'." That comparison fits in the sense it arguably could stand alone (although other comic-knowledge can help), it has a great mix of characters, and dear God does it keep you on the edge of your seat with its slowly building tension that has been starting to pay off spectacularly. The Vision went from nobody's favorite character to a fascinating character thanks to this comic with its mixture of heroics, nightmarish-horror, and deep musings on humanity and the nature of evil. I tip my hat to this entire creative team and eagerly await the remaining three issues.
5 out of 5 stars.

Conclusions To Ponder
There are all kinds of titles coming out right now in a variety of genres. I'm annoyed by how companies such as Marvel and DC keep rebooting as that harms the clearly solid titles they put out. If it takes a line-wide re-launch every 12-ish months to get something like, "The Vision," however I'll deal with it. Meanwhile with Image there are are lot of books coming out and some books are perfectly fine and others are immensely impressive, the joy is in discovering what you enjoy...or something vaguely-inspirational-sounding like that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Oh Yeah, Comic-Con International/SDCC is this Week

I remember when it was just a weekend thing, and then when Thursday was the, "Preview Night," but now it seems like Comic-Con International, or as it is better known, San Diego Comic-Con, starts Wednesday-ish and within a few years will probably just run a whole week. That's oddly amusing to me. Anyhow, considering that I'm a huge comic-nerd it is funny to think I honestly forgot CCI/SDCC was happening. I was reminded when all that Marvel stuff that was supposed to lead-up to the show leaked, but then promptly forgot again until I was looking at comic-news and saw the show mentioned.

Perhaps because it seems like comic-companies announce nearly everything before the show (or at other conventions) I don't find myself giving as much thought to CCI/SDCC. Plus, this convention has grown so absurdly big and bloated that--as many have been protesting for years--it isn't about comics so much as it is general popular culture. There is still plenty of comic-book goodness there, I imagine, but the fact it is an over-priced, over-crowded madhouse makes me go, "Eh..I'd rather go visit the big convention in New York," as I've mentioned before on the blog. I mean, I love all popular culture, but this show just seems like too much for me (I say, as if I've ever had the opportunity or offer to go). Still, I'll follow any news of note that comes out of the show and discuss whatever is worth talking about.

Monday, July 18, 2016

James Bond #7 Has A Darkly-Hilarious Joke about Gun Control

The seventh issue of the, "James Bond," comic coming out from Dynamite marks the start of the 2nd arc titled, "Eidolon." As with the last arc, this one is written by Warren Ellis and apparently the concluding one for him before someone else takes over the book. In this issue Bond attempts to rescue British citizen who has had her cover blown out in Los Angeles where she's been surveying a Turkish agency in the States. During this rescue-process he gets into a firefight but then due to certain rules about guns in the UK (that the book has been covering), he has to dump his weapon before he heads back to the airport for a flight home. That results in this scene:
To recap, when questioned about throwing a loaded gun in a trash-can, Bond simply replies, "It's America. I don't have time to give it to a child or a mentally ill person, so I'm leaving it in a bin for them to find." When it comes to critiquing our Nation's policy on guns that is just, well, ouch. It burns because it is uncomfortably accurate about how easy it is for one to get their hands on a lethal weapon and when someone can buy an AR-15 in about seven minutes, the joke is as unfortunate as it is clever.

I'm not sure how much of that line is supposed to be coming from James Bond and how much from Warren Ellis, but whatever the case it is hilarious, albeit in a supremely depressing fashion.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Greg Rucka Vs Frank Cho Vs Me Being Tired of This Faux-Censorship Nonsense

The controversy-starter
In case you haven't heard despite the big fuss it has caused across the internet, Frank Cho was doing variant covers for Wonder Woman, Greg Rucka didn't like them, and Frank Cho quit and is now crying-out about, "censorship." It's to the point that right-wing-bullshit-slinging website Breitbart have stepped into the fray to decry the, "Censorship," of it all. I put that word in quotation marks as people often misunderstand what censorship truly is. If you aren't in prison for writing something, you basically haven't been censored, to give the frankest definition. If you are hired to make artwork by a company that owns a character, find that someone at the company doesn't like the artwork, and as a result you quit in a huff, that isn't censorship. No, that is a work disagreement that you get so mad about you dramatically yell, "See ya!" and storm away. Greg Rucka has stayed pretty quiet about all this, but Cho has shared his thoughts off-and-on.

I know the question you've doubtlessly been asking during all of this, "Okay, I see all the fuss being caused, but what does David Bitterbaum think of all this? I really gotta know!" Well I'm going to tell you, as bluntly as possible, how I feel: I honestly don't fucking care anymore.
A sketch done by Cho to be ornery in the past.
I've shared my feelings about Frank Cho in the past, but at this point I am aware that if you hire Cho for art you should know what to expect. Also, if DC gave Greg Rucka complete creative control over, "Wonder Woman," so he would come back to the company (I recall him leaving DC with some anger awhile ago) then he has control. Should this control result in him not liking what was made when DC hired Frank Cho then that's that. Either DC should have realized this could happen, Rucka should have been more relaxed about Cho's art, or Cho should have been less upset when Rucka expressed concern about the imagery--or maybe a mixture of all of that. I'm really not concerned though, because I'm just tired of this nonsense.

Seriously everyone, this isn't censorship, this is business. DC is more concerned with keeping Greg Rucka happy than Frank Cho, so when Rucka said, "Nah," to Cho's variant covers, DC realized there was more money to be made in having Rucka be pleased, so now Cho is just fuming to anyone who will listen to his tale of woe. People are making a bigger fuss out of this than they need to, because no fuss really needs to be made. I don't care if we have sexy Wonder Woman covers, but Greg Rucka was against it, DC backed him on it, Frank Cho left the gig as this upset him, and here we are. Now Cho can go back to doing his, "Funny," sketch covers, Ruck can write Wonder Woman, and I'm now done discussing this non-issue.

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Oddly Cathartic Pleasure of T-Pain's Self-Deprecating Raps

Please Excuse the Wordy Title...
Seriously though, I know my blog post's title is a mouthful. It is true though! The rapper known as T-Pain is most popular for his auto-tuned voice, but one element I've enjoyed in numerous releases of his would be a self-insulting vibe in his raps that gives everything a bit of a humorous and sympathetic sound. After all, how many rappers talk about how great they are and all the women they've had sex with? A ton. How many make a jam about being turned-down by numerous women called, "Chopped N Skrewed?" Exactly.

Whether it is the aforementioned, "Chopped N Screwed," which features the sound of a chopped-and-screwed-style song, or other releases he has put out, there often is a fun self-deprecating tone to many of T-Pain's songs. "Therapy," features him angrily telling a woman that they may as well break-up, with him pettily stating, "One, two, three, four, get the Hell up out my door! Five, six, seven, eight, I don't need your sex, I'll masturbate!" Besides the catchy beat and melody, the lyrics create the image of a man pathetically trying to tell-off a lady who has upset him, but in the process he just ends up looking absurd.

The apex of T-Pain dissing himself can be found on the ,"Same Girl Triple-Up Remix." The original, "Same Girl," featured R. Kelly and Usher singing about a girl they both have met and fallen in love with before realizing their respective darlings are one-and-the-same. They have a laugh over it though and all is well. Things go differently on the remix. Give it a listen:

You can practically hear T-Pain saunter-up, introduce himself and then calmly begin talking about how he knows this woman the duo are talking about as well. The twist occurs when he declares she is in fact his wife, and both Usher and R. Kelly have been having a grand time with this woman he was working hard to keep happy and launch the career of, with him declaring via an angry sigh, "And don't tell me that you didn't see that ring on her finger, I was even trying to help her be a singer." He practically yells at the end of his verse he's through with this woman, and yet again we have a song where T-Pain has found himself left lonely due to a mixture of his own personal failings, and continuously pursuing the kinds of women where the end result is yet another angry break-up.

Not all of T-Pain's songs are about failing at love, of course, but a good number of the pieces I enjoy are set within this subject. I guess it is just a bit refreshing to have a rapper with enough of a sense of humor to rap about how much he sucks at love. I tried to reach out to T-Pain a couple of times via, "The Twitter," to ask if we could discuss how he does this in his songs, but I was sadly unable to get a response. Therefore I can't say whether this is an intentional theme or something which has come about accidentally. Whatever the case, it makes for some good music and I look forward to when T-Pain releases his next album--it's been awhile since the last one!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Marvel Has Leaks Upon Leaks AKA Bleedingcool Just Pissed Off Everyone at Marvel

Probably the Most Hated Person in the Comic-Industry Today...
Rich Johnston is the man who founded Bleedingcool, located on web at www.bleedingcool.com should you be unfamiliar with the site. I am confused as to how you would not know of it, as it is the source for some of the hottest industry gossip and leaks. This is probably because Bleedingcool isn't really indebted to anyone in the comic's industry besides Avatar Press, who own the website but basically take a quite, "Hands-off," approach of letting Rich and his journalistic posse do what they please. Within the last 24 hours that has involved Rich basically pissing off everyone at Marvel.

Someone whom Rich referred to as a, "Bearded insider," with access to loads of info from Marvel gave him the holy grail of leaks, it seems. Essentially every one of Marvel's big upcoming announcements set to occur as we get closer to San Diego Comic-Con/Comic-Con International were put up on Bleedingcool in a flurry of spoilers--with some promo art added as well a bit later. Someone out there, "...either hates Marvel, loves Johnston, or both." That article I just linked to breaks-down some possible ways this could have all leaked as well, but whatever the case, Marvel is angry. Oh, and all the media partners who were going to capitalize on the big reveals in assorted exclusive stories are probably none-to-pleased as well.
There will undoubtedly be a lot of fallout from this, possibly even lawsuits (I'm 100% sure if Marvel can find whomever leaked everything they will sue them into oblivion), but for now the wildest thing I've observed out of all this is that they are actually giving Slapstick his own ongoing comic. Yeah, not a mini-series, but a book that is tentatively an ongoing. Wrap your head around that. Oh, and I'm aware the character has been retooled to be different and darker since his first appearances, but still, Slapstick? I mean, I'll check it out for sure, it will undoubtedly be odd.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Now for a Post About How I Love Pirouline Cookies

I just felt like sharing I love Pirouline cookies. I frist tried them when my wife (knowing my love of wafers and cookies) bought me some she saw at the store. I was instantly enamored. These tasty rolled-wafer style cookies are amazing in the, "Dark Chocolate," variety and I was so struck by the delicious taste I wrote the customer service email about how great the cookies were.

In a sign of how Pirouline cares about their customers they actually wrote me back with thanks for my kind words and offered to send me some coupons. I gave them my address and not too long after I got in the mail coupons I put toward more wafery-choclately goodness.

I would without a doubt recommend you try Pirouline cookies, and if you're a lover of Hazelnut you'll be pleased to know they have that flavor too, as well as occasional limited-time ones. For real though, give these cookies a taste, you'll be pleased!

Note: The people who make Pirouline cookies were not aware I had a blog or that I was going to write a post about their cookies when I contacted them the first time and they offered me coupons. I just felt like making a post!