Monday, February 18, 2019

Should I Try-Out This DC Universe Thing?

Okay then, I previously wrote about my confusion regarding exactly what this DC Universe app/service was. Now that it has been released and out for awhile I think I finally have a grasp on it. The thing essentially is a way to pay a monthly fee in order to gain access to a curated selection of all-you-can-read DC books (which side-steps Comixology and saves DC paying it, Apple, or Amazon--who owns Comixology--any fees) along with an assortment of DC films, television shows, and original content. It is a combination streaming-service, comic-app, and so forth. Am I right, I think I'm right? Anyways, I am thinking maybe I should try it out, as I am curious about if it is in fact a good service for watching/reading content, plus I've heard the exclusive-to-DC-Universe show, "Doom Patrol," is remarkably good. I mean, when I heard it had Matt Bomer and Brendan Fraser I was basically already all-in.

There is a free 7-day trial period, and those, "Doom Patrol," episodes are being released every Friday so I could watch at least two and get a feel for the show as well as exploring the app/service. I am a little annoyed there isn't an easy way to launch it on my PlayStation 4 and instead to get it on the television I'll need to use a work-around method like having it stream on the computer and be displayed on my T.V. via the Chromecast or such, but with my PC and our old iPad reading some comics shouldn't be hard. Yeah, I think I maybe will go ahead and try-out this DC Universe thing when I have some free time, even if I hate most aspects of it I still get a solid dose of Bomer and Fraser, after all, I love those actors.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Another Great Micro Con is in a Week!

I am a fan of local toy and comic events, and have often discussed my great enjoyment of the Mirco Cons put on by STL Comics. Well, a week from today there will be another Micro Con! That's right, February 24th, 2019, from 10AM-4PM you can see all kinds of great vendors, awesome guests (Kenneth Rocafort will be there along with such stellar guests as Lorenzo Lizana and David Gorden), and otherwise have a ton of fun for just $3 admission (kids 10 and under are free). I always find stellar stuff at the Micro Cons, which feature such fantastic vendors as Trade Up Comics, CoMo Comic Books, Wayne Kent Comics, Cabal Books, and more! I look forward to attending the show next week at the Holiday Inn located at 3400 Rider Trail South, St. Louis, MO, 63045. Should you be a local who reads my blog or just happen to be in the area I'd encourage you to attend--I'll be there buying wares and trading my own stuff!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Trump and the Emergency of His Own Making

Well, it happened. I previously wrote about my concern regarding any President declaring a State of Emergency to do things the Executive Branch should not be able to do, and my worst fears have come true (something I often say in regards to this dumpster-fire of a Presidency). Donald Trump is going to declare a state of emergency--an emergency of his own making--in order to get funds to build his stupid symbolic wall (that Mexico was supposedly going to pay for), a wall taht Congress won't allow--hence the previous Government shutdown. Trump has had enough people make it clear how terrible the last shutdown made him look (e.g. like a petty loser) so he thinks this will show strength or something if goes ahead and oversteps the bounds of his Executive power...all to build a dumb wall. What happens next? Nobody is sure. This is a big Constitutional crisis. The President is doing things the President should not be able to do, and this will result in folk suing him, further questions about if the 25th amendment should be invoked so he is removed from power, and just general attempts to block his stupid efforts. You can't say Trump's Presidency has gone off the rails because this crazy-train jumped the tracks months ago and is barreling through all common-sense. Trump has made his own emergency and now is diverting Federal funds for it. Should such a thing stand it sets a dangerous precedent for other mayhem Trump could try to cause with more future emergency declarations, as well as what later Presidents could attempt in regards to basically disregarding our Nation's laws--assuming this all doesn't end in nuclear apocalypse and Trump becomes the last President (America, it had a good run).

These upcoming days and weeks are going to be pivotal in determining if Trump will be allowed to run roughshod over America's foundational laws, or if his temper-tantrums will be put to a stop now that Democrats at least have some power again--lord knows his own party is so used to kissing his ass they ain't gonna do a thing. The ultimate irony in this of course would be if Trump gets his moronic efforts approved by the Supreme Court our next President, who willy very likely be a Democrat after what the GOP has done lately, will then have the right to push through all kinds of Progressive ideas even if Republicans protest. After all, if it was good enough for Trump why not have it be good enough for our future President, Ms. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Seriously, she is a breath of fresh-air among all these other ancient and corrupt politicians. Anyways, to summarize my article: Trump created an emergency to do what he wants, it is madness as usual, America is doomed. On the plus side, all that Valentine's Day chocolate that didn't sell yet is now heavily discounted, so that's nice.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

As I Have Said, Shit is Going Down at DC Coics

Just recently I observed that the comic-book publisher known as DC Comics had a whole lot of shit going down. People were being let-go, restructuring was clearly planned, and it seemed the company was getting more controversy-averse (for one example, see the Black Label/Batman's penis fiasco). Well, recent events only seem to further support how--as I have said--shit is going down at DC Comics.

Let's start with some less remarkable things occurring at DC. Namely, that the surprisingly-good series, "Doomsday Clock," has been delayed yet again, which isn't a shock as the artist, Gary Frank, is incredible but lacking in regards to turning-in his work speedily. Oh, and, "Batman: Damned," #3, the final issue in the series which started all the wiener-fuss, was delayed (probably to now clean-up any naughty bits in artwork)...and then all pre-orders were cancelled. Now, it is not uncommon for a heavily-delayed series to have issues cancelled to be resolicited at a later date, but maybe this signifies something else, such as possibly DC just wanting the series and the Black Label itself to quietly fade away (all the other new Black Label books also seem cancelled to maybe be solicited again too, after all).
An even bigger significant occurrence illustrating that DC is scared to rock the boat is that the upcoming Vertigo comic, "Second Coming," has been cancelled, but the creative team is being given the rights so as to take it to another publisher who won't mind some controversy (basically any other publisher, in other words). For those unaware, "Second Coming," was about Jesus returning to Earth and being extremely let-down to see how people were using his teachings, as well as appearing to worship a violent super-hero named Sun-Man more than himself. It is clearly a satirical comic and seems tame compared to other stuff DC's Vertigo imprint has made before--I mean, this is the company that gave us, "Preacher." Still, there was some media attention and so-called, "Christians," complaining the comic was offensive or blasphemous, so away it goes. I mean, these are the same people who protest they should be allowed to draw Muhammad in offensive ways thanks to our nation's freedom of speech, but when has hypocrisy ever stopped the far-right in our country?

DC seems to be wanting to do comics that carefully avoid pushing too many buttons, and instead of edgier work are going to give us stuff like, "The Year of the Villain," a comic-event where villains yet again go and work to take over the world (so..."Forever Evil," but this time it is villains from the same dimension instead of another one, I guess). It isn't all bad news at DC, however, as their planned films made by their owner, Warner Brothers, have had the ones with Jared Leto's mediocre Joker potentially cancelled, so we won't have any more of that to suffer through. Hopefully he'll be a better Morbius, as Leto has shown in other roles he is a solid actor (just not a good Joker). I'd be willing to get a whole bunch of crappy Leto-Joker flicks if it meant the publishing-arm of DC would actually put out challenging and thoughtful work, but that isn't my choice to make.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Oh Hush, James Cameron

Apparently James Cameron recently said in an interview how he thought the, "Aquaman," movie was, "Great fun," but also had a bunch of observations delivered in a vaguely passive-aggressive manner about how it required too big a suspension of disbelief because, "I could have never made that film because it requires this total dreamlike disconnect from any sense of physics or reality. It exists somewhere between a Greek mythic landscape and a fairy tale landscape. And people just kind of zoom around underwater because … they propel themselves mentally? I guess?" Oh hush, James Cameron. You've made movies about Aliens (verbatim, "Aliens,") whose reproductive cycle was already confusing before you introduced the idea of a Queen Xenomorph to muddy things further.  You made the visually-stunning but repulsively dull, "Avatar," with some of the silliest plot concepts ever (you literally named a hard-to-acquire resource, "Unobtainium," after all). I think I know why you're even stirring the pot like this too, and it isn't just to express your thoughts.

The upcoming movie, "Alita: Battle Angel," which you executive-produced draws from a manga about a robot-girl with weirdly big eyes (so very realistic). Also, I think you know full well it is probably going to bomb hard on a film-packed Valentine's Weekend, so you're trying to get some press by saying something outlandish. Seriously, as Edward Douglas over at Comicsbeat observed about this movie it appears it," going to be seen as one of the year’s biggest bombs regardless of how well or poorly it does, because it cost somewhere between $150 and 200 million to make...and it’s not likely to make more than $25 or 26 million in its first five and a half days even with the higher 3D ticket prices. (Fortunately, it’s already made $32 million overseas)." With box-office predictions like that, you probably figure you've got nothing to lose attempting to get some media attention for dissing the ocean-dwelling hero, am I right?
I can practically hear James Cameron exclaiming,
"Now this here looks realistic!"
You don't make especially realistic movies outside of your documentaries, Mr. Cameron, so please don't be so silly as to think we take you seriously when you say the movie is lacking in quality as it, "...doesn’t help us with our issues of actually understanding the ocean and exploring the ocean and preserving the ocean — though they did throw in a couple things like whales and things like that to remind us we are using the ocean as a garbage dump, so I applaud the film for that. Yeah, I couldn’t have made that movie." I see through you and how you're trying to get some press because nobody cares about the release of, "Alita," which I feel sad about--not because you worked on it as an executive-producer, but because the Director is Robert Rodriguez and he seems like a cool guy (who has made some fun films I like a decent amount too).

I haven't seen, "Aquaman," yet but plan to as it looks like good fun, realistic or not. I have basically no desire to see, "Alita: Battle Angel," however unless I can stream it for free in a few months because it frankly looks underwhelming in terms of quality and overwhelming in terms of overdone special effects. Nobody cares if you actually have issues with the realism of, "Aquman," or just want to cause a ruckus, Mr. Cameron, least of all the flick's fans or Warner Brothers (which is just happy to have a hit DC movie besides, "Wonder Woman," I'd bet). You're more than welcome to your opinion, but if you're just stating this particular one in the hopes it'll drum-up some attention for your bomb of a movie, then stop such shenanigans and instead go back to focusing on your not-at-all-eagerly-awaited sequels to, "Avatar."

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

I'm Surprised This Needs Repeating, but Blackface is Basically Never Okay

Not. Okay.
You know when it is okay for someone to wear blackface? Perhaps in a play or movie about the painful history of minstrel shows--e.g. the Spike Lee movie, "Bamboozled," or maybe if you have someone engaging in blackface to make an important social/cultural/historical point, such as Robert Downey Junior does as a clueless Australian actor named Kirk Lazarus trying to portray a black person in, "Tropic Thunder."  You know when else it is okay? Basically never (including cosplay). I can't believe this bears repeating, but between Megyn Kelly getting herself fired for her comments (I don't miss her as the third hour is good again), the state of Virginia being a mess thanks to its Governor and Attorney General engaging in blackface in the 1980's (oh, and the Liutentant Governor may have sexually assaulted at least two women, but that is a whole different article). Blackface has a painful and unambiguously racist history within America and it is startling to think possibly 1-in-3 people surveyed by CNN think it is okay, "Sometimes." I have zero problem with someone dressing-up as a character of color they admire. White people are more than welcome to enjoy Halloween or a comic-convention dressed as Luke Cage, the Falcon, Vixen, or so forth, but dear God put the black face-paint down.

I don't get it. I mean, you don't see black people wearing whiteface when they dress-up as white characters, and frankly the only time I see anyone wearing white face-paint to some degree is they are dressed-up as the Joker (which lots of races do, and that isn't whiteface so much as a dab of stark-white paint). Yet, a chunk of white folk either dress-up as black characters and apply blackface ignorantly at best, or maliciously at worst (e.g. not just blackface, but trying to look extremely stereotypical like the, "Sambo," cliche or such). I will admit sometimes people overreact to something and think it is reminescent of blackface when it is not--e.g. the recent controversy over Katy Perry's shoe-line that doesn't look like blackface so much as really ugly shoes. That said, for every time people are maybe being overly sensitive, there are 100 occurrences of actual blackface or blackface-related imagery that are stupid and offensive. Everyone, please just stop engaging in blackface, you'll only look like a fool.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Marvel Cartoons for Mature Audiences? Yes Please!

This morning while I was driving back from a fun event at The Magic House (it is a really cool place) with my son, Clarkson, my phone suddenly dinged a bunch. Once I was home and could check it I then saw that what has quickly become my favorite app, Key Collector Comics, was sharing the news that there were going to be four new animated Marvel cartoons on Hulu geared toward mature audiences AKA adults (but not in the, "ADULT," sense). I looked into it online and sure enough, Hulu is going to get a, "Howard the Duck," "M.O.D.O.K.," "Hit-Monkey," plus, "Tigra & Dazzler." Eventually all the shows will come together for what will either be a season or just a special (that seems unclear) titled, "The Offenders," which is admittedly a hilarious title that takes a little bit of a swipe at all the dramatic, "The Avengers," movies and, "The Defenders," show, may it rest in peace. Taking advantage of this info I made sure to dig-up my old Deadpool comics where Hit-Monkey first appeared (plus a random one-shot) and I'll put those aside in the hopes that when the shows come out they are hits and I can sell those comics and make enough money to cover my pull-list at the comic store for or a week or two (here's hoping).

The shows don't look to be throwaway cash-grabs either, with some solid talent involved. I'm talking Patton Oswald as M.O.D.O.K., Kevin Smith writing the, "Howard the Duck," show, and Chelsea Handler is involved in some capacity with, "Tigra & Dazzler," to name just some creative folk working on these shows. Now then, some people online were asking, "Why Hulu?" considering that Marvel is owned by Disney and Disney+ is launching soon-- it will have all sorts of Marvel content, to be sure. The best reasoning I could find is the idea that Disney+ will apparently try to keep everything in the realm of PG-13 and younger and these shows might easily tip-into R-rated language/TV-MA content (I mean, we are talking Kevin Smith here); so now that Disney will be acquiring much of Fox they'll basically have around a 60% share in Hulu, making it perfect for more grown-up programming. This has all just been announced so it may be awhile until we get the completed shows or even much in the way of teaser footage. That said, between the wacky character choices and great creative/acting teams involved, this sounds like we will be getting some shows that will be quite off-the-wall if nothing else.

For the First Time in Long While, I Agree with the Grammys About a Lot of Their Awards

I have not made it a secret that I often disagree with the Grammys. Their choices of winners for various categories sometimes makes me shake my head in puzzlement and I don't think I have agreed with their pick for, "Album of the Year," since they awarded it to, "Speakerboxxxx/The Love Below," way back in 2004 for OutKast's 2003 masterpiece (which some argue set an impossible standard for rap albums to win album of the year henceforth due to it being so, well, OutKast-y). However, last night the Grammy's awarded the coveted album of the year to none other than Ms. Kacey Musgraves for her incredible LP, "Golden Hour." I raved about, "Golden Hour," when I first heard it and didn't hesitate to say it was my album of 2018. She also won at the show for best country album, best country song (for, "Space Cowboy,") and best country solo performance (for, "Butterflies), all well-earned accolades.

I am as surprised as anyone that I loved a country album to this degree, especially considering I generally have not listened to the genre much outside of some Garth Brooks and Shania Twain. It truly did break out of the, "Country music bubble," thanks to a unique sound and how Musgraves herself has always defied the country-music stereotypes (she proudly supports LGBTQ rights, cannabis decriminalization, etc.) all to create this incredible music. While I did enjoy the, "Black Panther," soundtrack which was also nominated for best album and had a decent chunk of Kendrick Lamar on it (another musician with amazing work), I thought its mixture of artists resulted in a slightly disjointed overall theme/feeling, even if Lamar and SZA's, "All of the Stars," is a phenomenal song and deserves a win at the Oscars. I'm so happy for Kacey Musgraves and can't wait to see what sonic wonderland she makes for her next album.

Oh, and don't think I forgot that, "This is America," won song of the year, being the first rap song to do so thanks to Childish Gambino's/Donald Glover's exemplary song-writing. He also won record of the year, which is not to be confused with Musgraves album of the year win, as despite the confusing title record of the year honors a single song--hence, "This is America," winning that. He was awarded music video of the year too, so cheers all around for the amazing Mr. Glover. Yeah, it was finally a Grammys I agreed with more than not, for the first time in over a decade--who would have thunk-it?

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Tales from the Dollar Bin: Toxic Crusaders #2

There are comics which are worth incredible sums of money, but so many of the most interesting, tragic, or just downright weird can be found for a simple dollar or less in a  store's "dollar bin". There, comics that never gained much popularity can be found alongside those that sold so much as for a copy to be worthless. "Tales From the Dollar Bin" aims to explore these comics, be they a single issue or an entire run of a series. From the great to the miserable, some of the best treasures and worst nightmares can be found in those infamous boxes. Let's have a "tale" now...

This is an Odd One
Be forewarned that this starts out strange and gets weirder as we go along. There is of course the low-budget indie-film studio known as Troma and they make weird little gross-out comedy flicks. One of their most famous characters is the Toxic Avenger. Toxie, as he is sometimes known, is from New Jersey and fights crime in movies that had to be heavily edited to achieve an R-rating and which have all kinds of inappropriate, raunchy, tasteless humor...not for kids, right? Well, at one point Marvel made comics themed for the Toxic Avengers that were more youth-friendly. That's interesting, but in a further bizaare twist--I didn't even know about this one and I know a smidgen about Troma and Toxie--there was a 1990's cartoon aimed directly at kids called, "Toxic Crusaders."

"Toxic Crusaders," was about Toxie and a bunch of misfit superheroes fighting pollution--like a weird, "Captain Planet," kind of vibe, I guess. The cartoon ran all of 13 episodes and was cancelled, but Marvel made a spin-off comic of it for a short while, which went eight issues and had some surprising talent involved. There was no set writer or artist so there were at times Steve Gerber contributing, or Ann Nocenti, and more. That's bizarre and fascinating to think some folk who went on to become big names (or who were already known to some degree in 1992 when the comic came out) did this random comic, of all things.

Great art and a funny meta-joke about the captions?
This comic rises above its source material for sure.
Let's be honest, all those old, "Toxic Avenger," movies are pretty shoddy. They have a certain, "Oh no they didn't!" kind of charm, but to say the movies are actually, "Good," is pushing it. Hearing that a big-budget reboot might happen with Toxie at another film studio sounds like it really misses the point of the old stuff, but more power to anyone attempting that. Still, I'm just frankly bewildered by this, "Toxic Crusaders," comic series having its level of quality. I found issue #2 whilst digging in the dollar bins (you never know what gold you'll find in them, after all), and it features the writing of Hilary Barta and Doug Rice with pencils by Joe Staton (yes, the Joe Staton)--again, it is shocking the talent these books got. It's a perfectly well-done read full of clever jokes and it looks great thanks to the artwork. It is just odd to see these strangely competent and professional comics that relate (however loosely) to a film property from a studio that prides itself on being tacky and amateurish.

It is a little strange to find something as odd as a spin-off comic from a cartoon that was itself a weird kid-friendly outgrowth from another property ( one which was extremely adult in nature), but it is outright inexplicable that such a comic series be as good as it was with such a degree of talent involved. I suppose it goes to show how you can find a shocking amount quality in any comic, even one that is a...tale from the dollar bin!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

I Feel Like There is a Story Behind These Comics I Found

Comics and the Tales of Their Owners
I enjoy going to a popular somewhat-National chain known as Half Price Books. They sell all kinds of stuff, from (obviously) books, to comics, movies, music, collectible stuff, video-games, and are always buying those things from people too. It is a great place to unload your comics that aren't valuable enough to bother selling online because after shipping and fees you'd lose money, in other words.

As I've been selling some stuff lately to clear-out space I would browse the store while they examined whatever items I brought and in that process I stumbled upon some comics that got me wondering if there is an interesting story behind them. On one of the occasions I was at Half Price Books I was rooting through the old comics and found a, "Stargate," book that was published by Avatar Press. This one was notable in that it had a super-limited cover of which only 350 copies had been produced and it was sold exclusively at a comic-convention in Dallas (Texas). Observe a close-up:
As I have a soft-spot for Avatar Press as a publisher and like snazzy variant covers I picked it up for $1.50 and took it home. I added it to my pile of comics to read and forgot about it. Until, when I was at Half Price books again a week later to unload more stuff and found two other ,"Stargate," comics that also were extremely limited covers, this time from two completely different conventions--one in Arlington (Virginia) and another in Chicago (Illinois). Now, this struck me as odd, and made me imagine there must be a story behind these comics. I sat down, and imagined some things.

Imagined Yet Possible Stories
Possible Story 1: A young man or woman spends their time going to an assortment of comic-conventions and buying comics related to properties they love. They adore, "Stargate," and basically plan-out their conventions they want to attend based on if Avatar Press will be at a show with the super-rare covers. They buy these comics and treasure them, but something changes in their life--a relationship, a child, an illness, it could be happy or sad--and they need to unload all these comics. Perhaps they look online and see even though these covers were very limited there just isn't much of a demand for them. They sigh and sell these comics along with other stuff they've collected at Half Price Books for a lot less than they must have spent going to all the shows.

Possible Story 2: Someone learns that their relative has passed away. They go into their house and sort through their stuff. They stumble upon a bunch of comics and look online to see what is valuable and what is not. They look at this assortment of rare covers and are convinced this books must be worth hundreds of dollars, only to disappointingly learn they are worth maybe a few bucks each. The comics their relative had worked hard to acquire via either visiting conventions or buying them from the Avatar Press' website (sometimes the company would sell con exclusives online) are unceremoniously dumped at Half Price Books along with the other less-valuable comics while the ones with some worth are put on eBay or on consignment with a professional comic-seller.

Possible Story 3: Someone was sorting their comics and didn't mean to sell these rare variant covers of their, "Stargate," comics they acquired at comic-cons or from Avatar Press and are really upset right now. If that is the case I encourage them to contact me.

A Mystery Without a Doubt
Who owned these comics before me?
I feel like there has to be some kind story behind these comics and am incredibly curious who put forth the effort to acquire these rare (if lacking in monetary worth) comics and then jettisoned them at Half Price Books. I'm not judging, as I've had things that I once was desperate to own and then shrugged at getting rid of, but I wonder what exactly the tale is behind these books. I may never find out and just have to imagine the scenarios, and wanted to encourage my readers to do so too--or if they know someone in the Saint Louis region desperately trying to find their, "Stargate," comics to please reach-out. For now, it is a mystery indeed.