Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Rant-Reviews: Beginnings and Conclusions

The Start and End
I like to read the first issue of comics and also enjoy the satisfaction of following a story to its conclusion. With that in mind I shall review three books that are just starting and three that have recently wrapped.

Let's Begin (and Finish)
Batman: White Knight #1
Sean Murphy both writes and illustrates this interesting start to his take on the whole Batman Versus Joker mythos. The twist here is that he plays-up the aspects of Batman as a dangerous vigilante the police basically condone and support and argues, "Well, what if the Joker seemingly was cured and used his amazing intellect for good instead of mayhem?" That leads us to a fascinating comic that with Murhpy's stellar artwork shows Batman as something akin to a hulking and scary monster and the Joker--or Mr. Napier as he prefers once cured with some mysterious pills--as a man who is possibly more dangerous to Batman when he's helping Gotham than when he's harming it. After all, if the Joker can, "Fix," Gotham doesn't he arguably end any need for Batman?

Murphy's writing is strong but dear God is his artwork amazing. Whether presenting gorgeous splash-pages of the Batmoblie darting about the city, giving us a montage-image of times from the characters' lives, or simply showing Batman as a large and intimidating creature, Murphy is an illustrator who continues to be at the top of his game and always impresses. The story has piqued my interest and Murphy's art will always keep me paying close attention. This is stellar start and I am excited to see what comes next. You can buy, "Batman: White Knight," at Things From Another World, MyComicShop, or on eBay.
5 out of 5 stars.

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #5
This book was delayed to high-heavens for months upon months as issues trickled out and with its conclusion we finally get to the part where the kids rob the bank only for it to basically fizzle-out into a huge anticlimax. A part of me gets an anticlimax is kind of the point, but another bit of me felt like going, "Wait, that's it?" This was a fun comic but after all the delays and how much the story seemed to stretch things out and build the excitement up only to just kind of shrug at the end just left a super-bitter taste in my mouth and resulted in my making a huge sigh at its end. Oh well. Should you want a copy you can alway use MyComicShop and eBay, or you can pre-order the trade paperback at Things From Another World.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

Black Hammer #13
This comic has garnered more and more buzz whilst winning awards and all for good reason--this is one of the best books with a super-hero theme around. Whether being a bit meta with its riffing on changes in trends, or taking the time to make us truly care about this assortment of heroes stuck in a strange otherworldly place, "Black Hammer," has been a delight to read. This issue is kinda the end of the series, but it ends on a huge cliff-hanger and it has already been announced that a follow-up series is coming before too long and a spin-off series is beginning as well, so clearly these characters aren't going anywhere. It is weird to read a conclusion that isn't really the end, but, "Black Hammer," has been fantastic enough that won't be protesting us getting more of it. Grab yourself this issue at Things From Another World, eBay, or MyComicShop.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Graveland #1
I mentioned this in The Hot Comics Revue and was finally able to read it as well! Anways, in the past I've complained in the past about comics that seem to move too slowly, and this comic is as far away from that concern as possible. This book throws-out ideas and story-elements almost too fast, but the assortment of concepts somehow manage to mesh together in a way that results in something pretty cool. Basically, giants exist and have been wrecking the planet recently. The Government has a secret program to make super-humans and sends them to fight the giants. That happens and all kinds of stuff blows-up. As I said and you can see, there are some ideas that could stand alone as their own story but this comic laughs at the idea of taking things slow. I was entertained a good deal by this book and its desire to throw things at the wall and see what sticks. I'll be checking out the next issue for sure which I believe comes out soon. You can purchase, "Graveland," at Things From Another World, on eBay or at MyComicshop.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Punisher: The Platoon #1
I would say this book shows a lot of potential. I'd read in interview that Garth Ennis joked he tricked Marvel into letting him write one of his usual war-comics by making it about Frank Castle in Vietnam before he became the Punisher. It's funny, but also arguably quite true as outside of a framing sequence where an unseen person talks to the men who went to war with Castle this is basically the story about a Platoon of men struggling to survive in the Hell of war. That isn't to say this lacks quality however, because Ennis is one of the best writers around and his oft-collaborator Goran Parlov is an artist who excels at portraying the grit and grime of war, with the restrictive heat of the jungle practically steaming off the page. This isn't an amazing first issue, but it without a doubt was a good read and Ennis has all kinds of story-telling tricks up his sleeve for this mini-series, I would bet. You can buy a copy on eBay, at MyComicShop, or via Things From Another World.
4 out of 5 stars.

Infamous Iron Man #12
Well that was a huge let-down. I just said how the new, "Punisher: The Platoon," comic shows a lot of potential, and I kind-of recall saying that about, "Infamous Iron Man," when it first started. I perhaps should be careful when I use those words as this has turned out to be basically be 12-issues of time wasted as a Mephisto talks to us readers for a bunch of pages about how he just wanted to fuck with Dr. Doom because he thinks Doom acting like a hero is stupid. Therefore, writer Brian Michael Bendis is saying, "Oh the devil did it," to close the series. The seeming alternate-reality Reed Richard kicking-around from the Ultimate Universe? The Devil was faking that. Doom's Mother apparently coming back to life? That was the devil as well.

We basically end the series with a few cliffhangers indicating that Doom might have a child on the way and that a bunch of villians are mad at him before being told we can see what happens next with Doom apparently as a supporting character in the re-launching and re-numbered, "Invincible Iron Man #593." Were it not for the fact I really like Alex Maleev's artwork I would call this issue a complete failure, but at least it looks good. I feel like this clunker of an ending just makes the whole series feel like a big, "Gotcha," to readers, and as I just said, this was a massive let-down. You can buy a copy and see for yourself with MyComicShop, Things From Another World, or eBay.
2 out of 5 stars (thanks to the artwork).

We Learned Something
I think from these reviews we can see we maybe learned something. Namely, it is often easier to start a story than end it. There are good conclusions out there, but sometimes we get endings that feel like more of an anti-climax than anything else ("5 Kids Walk Into a Bank,") horribly disappoint us ("Infamous Iron Man #12,") or are good, but not even really endings as follow-up stories are coming soon after ("Black Hammer #13"). Oh well, perhaps the point is that sometimes its about the journey of a story than it is how it finishes? That, or just that endings are hard.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Film Friday: Terrible Reviews of Great Movies

A Fun Writing Exercise
I try to be a good writer who expresses opinions that make sense. With that in mind, how about I do the opposite and write awful reviews of good movies, absolutely trashing classics new and old--with everyone fully aware I'm doing this tongue-in-cheek? Let's begin.

The Movies
The Wizard of Oz
Goodness, where do I start with the problems with this movie? The entire plot involves this girl named Dorthy meeting a bunch of fellows with severe problems and they all hope that the titular Wizard can help them. Then, when they actually reach the macguffin that is driving the whole movie he turns out to be a big fraud and can't actually help anyone. It's a huge anticlimax and don't get me started on how the supposedly, "Good Witch," reveals to Dorthy at the end how our protagonist could have gone back home all along but was tricked into helping murder an evil ruler of a part of Oz (the Wicked Witch of the West) first. Sheer idiocy.

Jurassic Park
I really liked the opening of the movie, actually, and was excited when it looked like we would get to see how the park operated and functioned. Then they had to go and add this whole plot of an evil programmer sabotaging the park and causing it to begin descending into chaos. I personally would have been more interested in learning about everyday life in the park as opposed to dinosaurs rampaging around. At least, "Jurassic World," shows us a bit of that before it too falls into the same tropes as this stinker.
Toy Story 3
Okay, so in the first movie it was a huge struggle for some of these characters to just get across the street and now they're using the internet and just traveling all about? Also, what happened to those fun faux-outtakes Pixar used to do in their earlier films? I loved those and miss them. Epic fail.
The Godfather
Jeez, this movie is long. By the time we spend what feels like forever in Italy I was just zoning-out. Yeah, Marlon Brando is great, but when your movie feels like it is decades long even superb acting can only do so much. Also, the movie's pacing seems off at times being really dull with scene after scene of conversations before suddenly tons of overwhelming violence occurs. If this could shave an hour off its run-time maybe it would be watchable.
Citizen Kane
Almost the entirety of the movie is told in a series of flashbacks, which is so incredibly trite. Charles Foster Kane is a very difficult-to-like man and the more we learn about him the worse he sounds. Some of the supporting individuals are so much more interesting and Kane is just a bad man who desperately wants to be happy but fails at it, basically self-sabotaging so much it almost is darkly funny. At least, it would be humorous if this movie weren't so bleak and depressing.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Okay, now this is just fucking awesome. Shia LaBeouf is arguably the best young actor of our generation, the countless plot holes keep audiences guessing, and its got robots smashing stuff! Best movie ever.

Thanks Everyone!
Thank-you everybody for joining me in this little fun experiment. I hope everyone enjoys as the weather gets progressively more Fall-like!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Abuse of Power is Never Okay AKA Harvey Weinstein is the One of the Worst Kinds of Humans

When it comes to humanity there are certain aspects of it I consider horrible, reprehensible, and otherwise among the worst kind of people. Those who murder/take the lives of others are number one on my, "Awful humans," list. Not too far removed from that however would be, "People who use their power to abuse and hurt others." It seems far, far too often that if an individual is able to acquire a lot of wealth, influence, etc. they can get away with doing terrible things either indefinitely or for a disturbingly long period of time. So, when you have someone with an incredible amount of power who is also a terrible human being a whole lot of disgusting shit can happen. Hence, Harvey Weinstein.

It has been dominating the news for about a week now, but a number of publications (which were careful to verify all their sources lest they be sued) have spent a great deal of time investigating Harvey Weinstein and good God has some shocking material come to light. Harassment of actresses such as Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, a lot of money paid-out to silence anyone he inappropriately spoke to or touched, and audio of him that makes my skin crawl pressuring model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez to watch him take a shower whilst he claims he won't touch her and if she refuses it will ruin their friendship. He outright says he is powerful when making that request, seriously. I myself needed a shower after hearing that just to wash off the gross sensation all over my body. Oh, and he's quite possibly also a rapist.

Rose Mcgowan accused Ben Affleck on Twitter of knowing full-well that Weinstein was a sexual predator, recounting the time she told Affleck of Weintsein assaulting her.
Weinstein got away with all this for God knows how many years thanks to having a lot money, a lot of power, and a lot of men whom he worked with being willing to look the other way. A variety of male celebrities have been quick to distance themselves from this fiasco and claim they knew little-to-nothing of Weinstein's ways, but it sounds like it was an open secret in Hollywood that the man was reprehensible as opposed to some masterfully-kept secret that he was into groping and propositioning women in exchange for promises of fame and/or threats of a ruined career. The accusations that he may have outright raped a number of women when his come-ons were refused is just a logical next-step in his clear trajectory of getting sex however he could with what he had (e.g. the ability to abuse all this power).

How many times do we need to go over this, people of Earth? If you are someone who acquires a lot of money/power/influence you should under no circumstance use it in a manner that is clearly wrong. It seems obvious but also is apparently lost upon many. It isn't just men harming women too, of course. Terry Crews has shared that another man--a powerful Hollywood executive whom he declined to name--grabbed his genitals against Crews' wishes and Crews' felt powerless to do anything lest it hurt his career or he get in legal trouble for physically fighting back as he knew, "'240 lbs. Black Man stomps out Hollywood Honcho’ would be the headline the next day." I applaud Crews and all the other men and women out there for speaking-out when victimized by others trying to abuse their power.
Terry Crews has bravely shared he was a victim of sexual assault.
Everything coming to light about Harvey Weinstein shouldn't be taken to mean it was one bad apple or that this is exclusive to show business. This is a larger problem than that which afflicts countless workplaces, be they film sets, office cubicles, construction sites, or anywhere else. The sooner we realize having power doesn't mean you can take advantage of others the soon the world will be a lot better a place. Then again, when the very nation I live in will elect to the Presidency Donald Trump, a man who also admitted on tape to sexual assault, perhaps we are just doomed.-

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Marvel Teaming-Up With a Weapons-Manufacturer Was Not a Good Idea

Marvel, you done fucked-up again.

No, I'm not talking about how the company refuses to quit trying to shove the Inhumans down our throats, this is even more moronic than the beating of that dead horse. Now, as we all know Marvel will team-up with random companies sometimes (and has been doing so for a quite awhile) to promote everything from Hostess snacks to health insurance. This can mean Marvel characters appearing in television, internet, or print ads, and sometimes Marvel will even have a full-on comic that advertises a campaign, company, or product--remember when various Marvel heroes fought against cigarettes and the villainous, "Smokescreen?" Seriously, does anyone remember that? It is clear Marvel likes to partner with other companies to make money/raise awareness of issues/slowly take over all media as an arm of Disney's empire, but there is one recent partnership that raised eyebrows and a lot of ire--Marvel partnered with a company that basically makes money from selling wares of death.

I hadn't ever heard of Northrop Grumman, but apparently they are one of the largest arms-makers around, making billions on stuff like parts for Nuclear ICBMs, you know like anyone who would partner with a comic-book company does. They had a sponsorship deal with Marvel that featured a free comic where the company's superheroes teamed-up with some scientists at Northrop Grumman to fight villains, with there being some rich irony considering the heroes are working with a folk from a company that literally sells weapons of mass destruction. The idea was to promote learning science and math, Marvel claims, and also they didn't know what the sponsorship department was doing so somehow that removes any blame from the main company in this case of the left-hand needing to meet the right-hand; clearly Marvel is missing the point that it's all attached to the same metaphorical body so maybe taking some actual responsibility and just admitting this was a big mistake would be wise (that won't happen though).

As soon as people realized what Northrop Grumman was and expressed concerns to Marvel about how this was a bad look, a previously-announced panel at NYCC got itself promptly cancelled, all links to the digital comic promoting the partnership were shut-down, and I assume any physical copies of the comic were burned in a mad-panic with any that possibly escaped destruction now suddenly to become sought-after rarities. The usual bickering between people who don't think this was a big deal, people who are mad this happened in the first place, and other people just curious how to even pronounce, "Northrop Grumman," has been taking place on the good ol' Twitter and I would encourage you to not bother to look it up because when has reading Tweets ever changed your mind on an issue as opposed to just making you further entrenched in your viewpoint and enraged at all hateful people in the world? Yeah, exactly.

I personally don't care if Marvel wants to partner with a private company that makes weapons, they are a business and can work with any other business they want. The optics of it just don't look that great to so many people you would have thought in this era of strong opinions and even stronger (and louder) expressing of said opinions that someone would have thought this through. Considering the rough time Marvel has been having with, "Secret Empire," failing in an epic manner and, "Legacy," failing to excite basically anyone this was probably the last thing they needed. Therefore--as I already said--Marvel, you done fucked-up again. Plus, NYCC isn't even over--it just now is past Midnight on Sunday--Marvel has one more day to do something even more horrifically stupid if they want. Time will tell.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Almost All My Favorite Rappers Are Dead, Retired, or Having Babies with Kardashians and Jenners

Three Troubling Categories
I have talked about how I can be a whiny old man when it comes to today's popular music, hating a lot of the new stuff. That said, I still keep-up on what's hot and what's not, because I feel if you're going to talk smack about something, you should at least know it pretty well--otherwise you're just an ignorant asshole as opposed to...a know-it-all-asshole, I guess? Anyways, I was thinking about my favorite rappers from the past and present, with it occurring to me almost all of them fell into three categories, all troubling in different ways. Let's review.

Tragically Deceased

Tupac Shakur was a musical genius. Ol Dirty Bastard was probably the weirdest and wildest member of the Wu Tang Clan. Jam Master Jay was a key element of the success of Run DMC. Adam Yauch's voice always stuck-out the most to me (in a good way) on Beastie Boys Records. So many talented voices all silenced by terminal illness, drugs, or violence. It brings me so much sorrow that when I think about a lot of my favorite rap-groups that the member I liked best has passed, or that we've gone more than two decades now without Tupac on this planet. It sucks, but there really isn't anything we can do about it, is there?

Retired or Mostly Retired
Andre 3000.
Andre 3000 is a Goddamn genius but he only seems to pop-up on a record here-or-there to show it. The man knows he is the greatest rapper currently alive and realizes he doesn't have to do anything to prove it. He got bored with rapping and quit. Then we have talents like Queen Latifah and Will Smith who discovered they could make even more money just acting than doing much of any rapping.  The two men behind Clipse--No Malice and Pusha T--dissolved the group and do solo work but it just doesn't feel the same, Childish Gambino is moving more into singing than rapping as his most recent album illustrated, and Lil Wayne has threatened to quit (multiple times), which kinda sucks as he sometimes spits some solid bars.

Rappers threaten to retire to all the time without doing so, but ironically the ones I actually really like either made good on their claims of finding rap boring (Andre 3000 said it a lot before mostly stopping his raps) or just kinda stopped one day. We can't do anything about dead rappers (outside of creepy holograms) but retired ones can get back in the game...they just have to actually want to do so, and clearly lack that urge.

Having Babies with Kardashians or Jenners
Kanye West (Left) and Travis Scott (Right).
Seriously, what the fuck is going on here? I love Kanye West basically no matter what because, "The College Dropout," is a sheer masterpiece and, "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," is ingenious as well with plenty of his other works impressing. That said, I still can't believe he married and has continued to have kids with Kim Kardashian--AKA the biggest waste of publicity I've ever seen in the world. I figured one rapper having a baby with someone in the Kardashian and Jenner crew was fluke, but now I read that Travis Scott (AKA Travi$ Scott), one of the few newer rappers I like, is having a baby with Kylie Jenner?

If something happens once it is by chance, if it happens twice it is a coincidence, three times and we have a pattern. So, if a third rapper of the increasingly small number of them I enjoy gets another one of these women pregnant (or a female rapper has a child by one of the male Kardashians or Jenners) I'll have to put my tinfoil hat on and start babbling about a conspiracy. I'm already halfway there, as this article illustrates--especially seeing as I have three categories!

The One Glorious Exception: King Kendrick
All hail King Kendrick!
Kendrick Lamar is a rapper I can't quit singing the praises of and he is without a doubt the best rapper currently alive who is willing to--you know--actually rap. As long as he stays alive, chooses to keep rapping, and doesn't knock-up Kendall or any other of those girls he will get to be my glorious exception to this troubling trend of all the rappers I love the work of being dead, retiring, or having a child with the celebrity family that to this day makes me marvel at how loosely we define, "Celebrity." I'm begging you, Kendrick, please stay healthy, stay motivated, and stay away from those Jenner and Kardashian girls!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Television Tuesday: "American Horror Story: Cult," and the Power of Fear

I previously talked about, "American Horror Story," when I had gotten into it with, "Hotel," and began watching older seasons to catch-up. It feels like it has been forever since that most recent season, (what's that? "Roanoke?" I don't recall such a miserable season ever existing) but later tonight the fifth episode will air of what has been an interesting program so far. "Cult," has focused immensely on politics, with the 2016 election serving as a backdrop for much of the season, the fear and anger that election inspired and continues to foster playing a large role. Clowns have also been involved, because if you want to scare a large number of people using clowns generally seems to do the trick.

"Cult," started out a little so-so, honestly. It was unclear how certain characters seemed to know each other and what their motivations were, the amazing Sarah Paulson was playing a shrieking stereotype of liberals and Evan Peters seemed to be up to something, but just looked like an annoying Men's Right's Activist-boosting Trump-lover. Thankfully, around the 3rd episode of the four that have aired so far it started to become apparent that the whole point of Paulson's character was that for all her liberal posturing it didn't take much effort for her to start morphing into the kind of people she claimed to despise and the fourth episode was amazing as a ton of question marks became answered and Evan Peters' character of Kai was revealed to be something much more terrifying than a bland caricature of a Trump supporter (with Peters' stellar acting help sell the role too).
Evan Peters as Kai.
Kai is someone who isn't a Trump fan per-se. He is a man who sees people have fear, and he wants to use that fear. At first it was confusing why Kai was assembling a group of people who seemed to have little in common in regards to their views, but it has grown obvious. He wants people who are afraid. Billy Eichner is always a treat in any show and his character of a gym- rainer tired of being picked-on by his boss for being gay and suffering from bankruptcy is feeling terrified at the thought he is a failure. Kai sees this and uses it to turn Eichner into a murderer. A black female reporter sick of being judged for her race and gender, full of rage and scared she will never advance at her news station becomes a follower of Kai after he removes an obstacle to her advancement (a younger, cuter, and crueler reporter). A Trump-loving Good ol' boy played by Chaz Bono of all people (whom I did not know was actually such a good actor) is horrified that as a white male who, "Loves pussy," and guns will be told he's the problem with a country he no longer thinks is going the right direction until Kai steps-in to help him, and so on and so on in a stellar fourth episode where flashing-back to the election itself puts a lot in perspective with Kai. It is only a matter of time before his little group clearly becomes the cult promised by this season's title.

The main characters were at first presented as being a married lesbian couple named Ivy and Ally (Paulson plays Ally) but with the focus being put on Kai in last week's episode it is clear that none of these people are the protagonist--the main character is fear. Whether we are witnessing how fear can paralyze us, motivate us, or be twisted by others for nefarious means, fear is the driving force of almost every character we have seen this season on, "American Horror Story," and it is a fitting focal point with just how scary the world seems right now. I'm hesitant to assign a rating to, "American Horror Story: Cult," just yet as for all I know the upcoming fifth episode tonight could continue the positive trend of quality or very well suck. I think once the season wraps I'll post an update to this article with some final thoughts, but for now I'll simply say as long as things continue getting more and more interesting this may be quite the stellar season!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Tragedy In Las Vegas--The Worst Mass-Shooting in America Ever

I am so tired of all these mass-shootings that keep happening, and it alarms me that I'm actually at the point where I'm tired of seeing news about them. Yesterday night in Last Vegas the worst mass-shooting in American history occurred when a gunman (I won't even give him the dignity of stating his name) used the large number of rifles he had acquired to shoot-out the window of his hotel room and proceed to fire upon a crowd of 20,000+ people who just wanted to enjoy a big country-music concert. More than 50 people will killed, hundreds were injured, and it is disgusting.

The shooter by all accounts was not the radar of any law enforcement agencies, had plenty of money, no affiliation with any terrorist or hate groups, and basically everyone is just dumbfounded. It is awful, terrible, and I am just so, so tired of this happening. We woke up to news about the worst mass-shooting in our nation's history and I find myself asking a question I already know the answer to, "What is going to happen?"

Nothing, nothing is going to happen.

Our politicians will offer their, "Hopes and prayers," but then far too many will prevent even the slightest efforts to explore how this could have been prevented--be it gun control, background checks, or maybe just making it so a single U.S. citizen can't legally own more deadly assault rifles than fingers we have on our hands. Meanwhile most of us will mourn all this death and injury with speeches and candlelight vigils, urging our leaders to do something while forces such as the NRA and gun-manufactures fight tooth-and-nail to stop even the most common-sense gun control. Plus, a handful of jackasses will concoct conspiracy theories blaming gay people, immigrants, saying it is a Government plot, or other idiocy. A year later we will look back at this tragedy, feel sad, and most likely despite our best efforts to the contrary, nothing will have changed barring some miraculous change in our political leaders.

The depression I feel at knowing I can cynically predict almost beat-for-beat what will occur in the coming days, weeks, and months brings me more sorrow than you can imagine. When I see the news of another mass-shooting I just feel defeated. So many of us try to argue for the most basic kinds of ways to try and prevent what happened yesterday from occurring, but as is clear from mass-shooting after mass-shooting, nothing seems to ever change. We have to work to make things better, it can't go on this way, but right now it looks like it will. Let's do what we can to change that because if we can prevent even one more mass-shooting with a few simple changes then I would hope most of us are reasonable enough to want something, anything done.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The First Two Issues of "Mech Cadet Yu," Are A Treat to Read

I'm a fan of Greg Pak, he is a solid writer whom did a number of Marvel titles I quite enjoyed. I had not read much of his work outside of Marvel, but he and artist and oft-collaborator Takeshi Miyazawa has a new book from BOOM! titled, "Mech Cadet Yu," which has been getting so much buzz and selling well enough that it went from being a mini-series to now officially an ongoing title. In a time when many books seem to be announced as ongoing and end-up as little more than minis, it is great to see something go the other way, where the ideas of the creators strike such a nerve they are encouraged to keep going with their creation! Having now read the first two of the issues of, "Mech Cadet Yu," that have come out, I can see why people love it.

The general idea we see established in the first issue is that many years ago mechs started coming to Earth, finding humans they liked, and, "Bonded," with them in the sense they would only let those humans assist in piloting them. Decades later this process has continued to assist in the fighting of otherworldly aliens that the mechs seem to dislike as much as humans. There is a school set-up to assist promising youngsters in bonding and working with mechs. Standford Yu is not one of those students. He is a janitor with his mother and works at the school where some of the students are quite unpleasant towards him. Therefore, when a robot lands off-course and decides it wants to bond with Yu. It's an effective first issue in that is clearly lays-out the world, the characters, and makes it evident much fun is on the way.
After the first issue we follow the cadets in issue #2 as they train--and a mean cadet whose Father is also a general and whom has a human-made mech available for her usage. It is a fun read as well and at the end makes it clear that space-alien threat from long ago may be imminently returning. The issues read briskly and very entertaining, with Miyazawa's artwork doing a stellar job giving the mechs a look that is familiar yet also pleasantly otherworldly. The mechs are drawn with a fantastic fluidity when they move and the art is a stellar meshing of a somewhat manga-esque look with a Western-style as well. As I mentioned, two issues have come out of what was going to be a mini-series with four issues but which is going to be expanded, so it is still the perfect time to jump-on the book and start reading!

Also of interest, is that, "Mech Cadet Yu," will have the trade paperback collecting its first four issues released to comic-shops in January of 2018 but bookstores will have to wait until May to get copies to sell--with BOOM! saying this is a way to show appreciation to comic shops for helping make MCY a big enough hit it is now an ongoing series and such. An intriguing gesture of kindness to retailers for sure! Should you not want to wait for the trade however, as I mentioned only two issues are currently out and I would encourage you to give this book a read as I rate it a stupendous 5 out of 5 stars for each of the first two issues. You can currently buy and pre-order issues of, "Mech Cadet Yu," at Things From Another World, from MyComicShop, or via eBay.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Hot Comic Revue's Third Installment: Attack of the Threequel!

Third Time and Just as Charming

Here we are with the latest installment of The Hot Comic Revue. As always, thanks to my chums at Comics Heating Up who talk about what upcoming books look worthy of speculation and encouraged me to pursue writing about what's popular in regards to stuff that is already out.

A Book That Is Warming-Up
Gasolina #1
Any brand-new Image book isn't guaranteed to be a huge hit, but usually stands a decent chance. The first-printing of, "Gasolina," sold out both its covers from Diamond and the promotional ashcan that came out a bit before the first issue continues to briskly sell online. This book hasn't yet caught fire but it looks promising. Things From Another World, MyComicShop, and eBay all are good ways to get yourself a copy.

Two Red-Hot Titles
Spider-Gwen #24
Spider-Gwen already is a very popular-character who was created in 2014 and good ol' Venom continues to be a fan favorite after rocketing to popularity in the 1990's. So, when the news emerged this issue was arguably the first appearance of Gwen merging with a version of the Symbiote and thereby becoming, "Gwenom," the book started flying off the shelves. There actually is a variant cover featuring Gwen, "Venomized," and they both appear to be equally popular, with anyone who is selling both covers at once making a pretty penny. Right now eBay or MyComicShop are your best chance to snag a copy.
Sink #1
It pleases me to see that, "Sink," is a huge hit as I of course did an advance review where I described how I loved it and had the pleasure of interviewing the creators of the book, who are both stellar guys. A stellar comic that mixes horror and crime to great success, the first issue of, "Sink," has two covers that were printed in equal quantity and therefore are both desirable--with many people wanting at least once of each (there is less-common blank variant too that doesn't seem especially hotter)! eBay or MyComicShop both have copies for sale, with the comic going for quite a lot before settling into a popular-but-not-prohibitive $10-$15 for either cover.

Two Comics with Steamy Potential
Graveland #1
Scout Comics have released a number of books that have gone on to achieve great popularity and success. "Graveland," is one of their newest releases. It features Giants causing immense destruction and is a fun action-movie-styled read. Considering how many books from Scout have gone on to at least warm-up if not become blazing-hot it would be wise to maybe grab at least one copy of, "Graveland," if you can. It currently can be found on Ebay or at MyComicShop.

Wonder Woman Conan #1
Cross-over books between two properties and publishers (DC and Dark Horse) seem to usually get a bit warm or even really hot. Considering how popular Wonder Woman is right now thanks to the awesome movie and the fact that Conan the Barbarian tends to always have a solid fan-following, this book could appeal to a variety of people and has the possibility of getting steamy in the future. I'll be the first to admit this book may be more of a slow-burn however while we wait for the next, "Wonder Woman," flick or Conan to be adapted for the big-screen or television again (which it will be, because everything is getting rebooted and brought-back now). The first issue of, "Wonder Woman Conan," is purchasable at Things From Another World, MyComicShop, and of course eBay.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

"The Bloody Cardinal" Is Bloody Good Fun (I Know, That's a Terrible Pun)

I had the pleasure of reading, "The Bloody Cardinal," by Richard Sala. It fits perfectly into my niche of quirky comics with a mixture of horror, action, bleak humor, and plenty of stellar artwork. Centering on an infamous criminal whose name is the title of the book, e.g. "The Bloody Cardinal," he supposedly died many years ago yet anyone whom he used to work with and provide with his journals seems to die--as well as anyone who gets too close to studying his infamous story.

The book moves at a brisk pace and does creative things like opening with bits of the dangerous journal, showing us a report on The Bloody Cardinal, and cuts to various vignettes with the wide cast of characters--I appreciate the beginning of the book has a legend for some of the who's who as there are quite a lot of people involved!
The comic does a stellar job of balancing scary elements such as spooky houses and murderous hobos with a delightfully sardonic sense of humor as the mystery of what keeps killing anyone connected to The Bloody Cardinal unfolds. Sala's artwork has a Euro-comics vibe and he expertly illustrates the more morbid and twisted story-elements like vicious rats or mutilated dolls just as well. Plus, the mystery of if The Bloody Cardinal has returned and whom it could be did in fact keep me guessing up until the ending when I said, "I should have seen that coming, but didn't," so I tip my hat to Sala for that as well.

"The Bloody Cardinal," is a wonderful read, with great artwork, and bits that are both scary as well as humorous. I for sure would recommend checking it out if you like stuff that is a little off-kilter. I give it a pleased 5 out of 5 stars. You can find it at Things From Another World, MyComicShop, and eBay as well.

Note: A digital copy of, "The Bloody Cardinal," was provided for the purpose of review by the publisher, Fantagraphics.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Jeff Lemire Always Delights AKA Bloodshot Salvation #1 Review

I am of course a big fan of Jeff Lemire and have also enjoyed a variety of Valiant titles. I've dipped my toe off-and-on into his, "Bloodshot," work and the latest series, "Bloodshot: Salvation," is both quite accessible to newer readers and a solid continuation of what he has done before. With great artwork by Lewis LaRosa and Mico Suayan, the story jumps around a bit from a clearly unpleasant future to a currently-mellow present. Bloodshot has settled down with a lovely woman and had a child, all is well, and Lemire makes it clear that ain't gonna last.

I appreciated that the book laid-out everything from past books even if it resulted in us having to read a bunch of exposition--still, I would rather have things be a tad wordy and make sense than suffer being real confused. Plus, as a first issue it makes sense that we need to establish the foundation of what came before and the trouble that will also be on its way. I also really liked how the art/artists change depending on if we are looking at the upcoming future or back in the past/present. The smooth and flowing look of the present has a good counter to the more harsh and scratchy artwork in our glimpses of what is to come.
"Bloodshot: Salvation," is both a great continuation and a solid start to the latest comic starring the titular hero. Lemire is a superb talent and the artwork meshes with his writing fantastically (if that's a word). I'm already eagerly awaiting the next issue and award this a glowing 4 out of 5 stars. You can find the new, "Bloodshot: Salvation," at Things from Another World or as always eBay is a stellar resource.

Television Tuesday: The Megyn Kelly Hour of the, "The Today Show," Sucks

I know I've said in the past not to judge a show by its first episode or two, but dear God is the new Megyn Kelly hour of, "The Today Show," bad. I would consider myself a bit of a conissuer of, "The Today Show," having watched it as often as possible since I was a young child. Katie Couric was inspiring, I feel like Al Roker and Willie Geist are old friends, Jenna Bush-Haeger and Dylan Dreyer are a hoot, I was so sad when NBC did Anne Curry and Tamron Hall wrong, oh and, Matt Lauer is there too. The third hour of, "The Today Show," or, "Today's Take," as it was known for some time seemed like it was just a good hour of fun and news. After all the work earlier in the show the casters could sit down, kick-back their feet, and enjoy themselves. Plus, it makes a nice mellow lead-in to the general boozy-insanity of the delightful 4th hour with Katie Lee and Hoda Kotb--which thankfully have been left untouched by this Megyn Kelly nonsense.

Imagine yourself watching the blandest talk show possible and you've basically guessed what it is. A little bit of news, some interviewing people, and it is all as dull as a stale nilla wafer. While some people seem to just exude personality, Kelly seems to suck all the energy out of the room, doing her interviews as if she's just ticking-off a list of stuff to bring up and then move on to the next subject as awkwardly and nervously as possible.
Tamron got screwed.

The only thing on Monday that at least was bearable from a human-interest angle was the recorded piece about a nun who helps inner-city teenagers which of course is cliché but still sweet and heartwarming (I was pleased she got presents for being awesome when they brought her out). Even that has some uncomfortable overtones with this white lady going and helping all the poor black people though. That maybe wasn't the best thing to have in the first episode of a show for a woman who herself used countless dog-whistles to racists when talking about former President Barack Obama when she was a Fox News crony. Tuesday was basically just a big ad for, "This is Us," followed by a segment that was basically one big stroke-job on Kelly's ego where they interviewed her family and friends about awesome she is. Yeah.

Early reviews of the show are also not too kind, with The Washington Post describing it as a, "Bride of Frankenstein" which is made-up of various body-parts from other shows. The Atlantic mocked her stating how she's "Done with Politics," considering she spent years on Fox News doing nothing but politics before that ended in a ball of fire and she came to NBC because her station turned on her for not bowing-down to Donald Trump and speaking-out about being sexually harassed (the one, count em' one thing I admire about her, she didn't take shit from Trump or Fox News). Her nighttime news shows for NBC bombed tremendously so now she invades my beloved, "The Today Show," and ruins what used to be a great third hour. I give it six months, eight at most if NBC feels generous.

Monday, September 25, 2017

I Greatly Enjoyed the ToyMan Show Yesterday!

I've lived in Saint Louis for a bit over six years now and love going to cons and shows with toys, games, comics, etc. Therefore, it is a bit embarrassing to admit that up until yesterday I had never been to a ToyMan show. Chris, "ToyMan," McQuillen has been doing these shows multiple times a year in the Saint Louis region since the 1990's. The latest one just occurred at the Machinists Hall on Saint Charles Rock Road in Bridgeton and was a stellar time! I arrived bright-and-early as I always like to watch as things are set-up and to chat with vendors plus fans of a show who are passionate enough to be there when the floor opens. At 8AM the, "Early-bird," folk came in and the searching for cool stuff began!

As this is a, "ToyMan," show there of course was a ton of toys ranging from vintage die-cast cars and hot wheels, to Star Wars, Star Trek, classic television programs, old movies, and a ton of Funko Pops. There also was a great deal of classic video-games for sale from vintage Atari up to more recent Xbox and Playstation titles. A healthy helping of vendors were selling comics too, which as a big fan of comic-books was the main draw for me! Everyone was extremely nice and a number of people I talked to said how they like the ToyMan shows because they are very fairly priced in regards to entry fees and have such a wide range of items for sale.
Morning setting-up
While I've mentioned there was an immense amount of cool items atendees could buy, there were creative-type folk as well! In the upstairs, "Artist's Balcony," a number of small-press comic-makers, writers, and craft-creators were present, as well as special celebrity guest Butch Patrick who I previously spoke with at Wizard World and is always very pleasant to chat with. I also met Robert Mays of APG Grading, a newer grading company that will take toys, comics, etc.

I didn't bring too much cash with me, but I did have a number of semi-valuable comics I was hoping to trade with interested parties, and much to my delight I was able to use the combination of my money and somewhat-popular comics to pick up a Mr. PoopyButthole Funko Pop from Rick and Morty, the classic Playstation Game, "Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix," which is a series I've discussed having a soft-spot for, and an assortment of cheap comics in addition to a handful of really cool old, "Epic," magazines from the 1980's which feature Marvel work that wasn't subject to the Comic's Code--e.g. there was more violence, swearing, and nudity, so yah!
A cool Funko I got!
I had a fantastic time at my first-ever ToyMan show and would love to go again to future shows assuming that Chris AKA the ToyMan is okay with me continuing to pester him about what kind of awesome stuff to expect at the next show on November 5th!

Friday, September 22, 2017

"Bodak Yellow," by Cardi B is One of the Worst Songs I've Ever Heard

Time to Sound Like a Cranky Old Man Again...
Cardi B
I previously discussed how I seem to hate a lot of today's, "popular," music and how I worried that made me an out-of-touch old man. Sometimes I just have to ask though, "Seriously? This is what the kids today are liking?" Such a thought went through my mind when I first heard--and continue to hear played--the song, "Bodak Yellow," by Cardi B.

"Bodak Yellow," is on the radio a bunch and one of the top-streaming songs, but that doesn't hide the fact it is just awful. Cardi B's lyrics are insipid and vapid consisting of weak brags and threats at her haters (which plenty of rappers do, but actually do well), her flow is wack and disjointed, the beat sounds hollow, and the melody is nonexistent. It is just plain terrible. If you want proof here is the music video:

Look, I don't want to hate on Cardi B, I've read articles about how much she had to work to, "Come-Up," and all the struggles she has faced. I haven't watched her on the, "Love and Hip-Hop," reality shows that she apparently shines on thanks to a fun personality, and she seems like a perfectly fine human being. That said, "Bodak Yellow," a God-awful song.

Anytime, "Bodak Yellow," comes on I feel a painful throbbing in my head that makes me worry I'm going to start bleeding simultaneously out of my nose, ears, and eyes. Everything gets hazy and I have to change the radio station/streaming song as quickly as possible lest I begin screaming uncontrollably. This sounds like exaggeration, but it really is that miserable in my opinion.
How some people probably picture me.
I realize that at this point all the young folk out there are probably rolling their eyes at this almost-3-decades-old man bitching about their music. I know I sound out-of-touch and like I'm judging, but I in fact enjoy other popular music which is--you know--good. I'm aware at this point as I drone on and on anyone in their teens probably pictures me as some crotchety old man yelling at them to get off their lawn, and  I've come to terms with that. I just had to make it clear I can't stand, "Bodak Yellow," and while I wish Cardi B the best I seriously hope she can come-up with another single even the slightest bit better than this. Should you disagree with me feel free to buy, "Bodak Yellow," for all your streaming pleasure on Amazon, just please don't play it around me.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thoughts on More Books From my Local Libraries

Gotta Love the Library!
My favorite County Library branch
I continue to love my local County and City library, immensely enjoying utilizing them to check-out and read a variety of books. Whether anthropological histories, neat comics, or guides for screen-free activities I can do with my son as he grows older, the library has a lot of useful stuff! I'm not going to review these books per-se so much as some discussion about them as I pretty much liked everything I picked-up and am talking about here (stuff I felt like I didn't like was quickly skimmed and returned; hence, I don't mention those materials as I would need to read more to have a solid opinion).

The Books
Puke Force
by Brian Chippendale
I had read a lot of reviews online talking about how the intentionally busy and ugly artwork mixed with satire results in a fascinating collection of comics in Brian Chippendale's, "Puke Force." Hideous drawings of people and human-esque monsters in, "Grave City," are complimented by prickly Liberals, paranoid Right-Wingers, snarky tech-users, well-meaning hero-teams who seem pretty habitually lazy, and craven politicians (of course). Everything is just so busy in how it looks in the art and the ideas come a mile-a-minute in this surrealist masterpiece of showing a world that really sucks and shows what ours could become if we aren't careful. Basically nobody is safe from Chippendale's searing critique and God is it ugly-yet-beautiful. This book is by no means easy to read in how its formatting literally requires you to look at a legend for every page so you know the order to look at panels, or in the sense of how much content it covers and satirizes. It is for sure a rewarding book to read, however. I have found, "Puke Force," available for sale at Amazon and Things From Another World.
On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep
by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam
Parents often talk about how their babies won't sleep well through the night, and how it is a huge pain. We actually were both lucky and skilled in that with minimal work we have been able to get it where Clarkson generally will fall asleep sometime between 10:00 PM to right before midnight and sleep until 7:00 AM-8:00 AM or so. We actually did some of the things discussed in this book before I even read it, which shows we and the publication are both on the right track! Basically, the idea is that you don't just feed your baby if he has some cues, or based on time, you consider a mixture of elements, such as if the baby is really upset and clearly crying, or just showing some cues, how long it has been since he slept, and go from there to establish a clear sleep-wake-feed schedule over time so your baby knows he'll eat more during the day, have an extended period of sleep at night, and so forth.

There are other good pieces of general child-raising advice and feeding is covered in-depth too because when your child eats has major implications for when he wants to sleep as well. It all makes perfect sense and is invaluable advice for those parents who find their child refuses to sleep much of the night and want to work towards creating a a better cycle of nighttime sleeping and being awake during more of the day (with naps of course still playing a significant role, don't think your baby shall just be awake all day and sleep all night until he/she is much older). Should your baby be keeping you up all hours of the night consider this book mandatory reading. You can find the book on Amazon here.

Aquaman Volume 1: The Drowning
Aquaman Volume 2: Black Manta Rising
by Dan Abnett (writer), Scott Eaton, and Brad Walker (artists)
I've seen Aquaman written a number of ways, from the caring king who is good-natured to the sour-faced and cranky portrayal that we recently had under Geoff Johns. For DC's big, "Rebirth," re-launch writer Dan Abnett strikes a good balance between these personalities, giving us an Aquaman who is kind, but won't hesitate to get mad and punch Superman if need be. Throughout these two volumes we watch as Arthur Curry and Black Manta actually settle their blood feud in a surprising occurrence--but as the story continues it is all too clear that when Black Manta isn't trying to just kill Aquaman and being made fun of for losing to the, "Fish-Man," he is someone who poses a much larger threat to the world.

Scott Eaton and Brad Walker seem to split art-duty and have a similar enough art-style that the changes in issues is never to jarring. The art lacks much attention-grabbing imagery actually, but my eyes weren't bleeding from reading the comic, so while that is kind of damning with faint praise, the art was fine. Between the pleasant art and strong writing this current story about the King of Atlantis has impressed me and made me eager to read more Aquaman--so that's impressive in and of itself.
You can buy the first trade via Amazon or Things From Another World, and the second trade is of course on Amazon and at Things From Another World as well.

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus
by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy
This is a book that is depressing as it is interesting. Wasik and Murphy follow Rabies from its earliest discussions in history up to how its viewed now. A, "Most Diabolical Virus," it is fascinating to read of how it baffled early doctors with its violent and wild mystique and even today is sometimes misunderstood with even cures exaggerated (you don't need countless shots in the stomach if you're exposed, a myth that persists even now). There are many morbid accounts in the book of how rabies impacted our planet, and an interesting theme emerges of how in some ways rabies is terrifying because it takes our ideas of modernization and domestication and tears it down into a wild and dangerous primal thing. I would for sure recommend getting a copy are your library or purchasing the book on Amazon.

Perfume: A Century of Scents
by Lizzie Ostrom
Moving from rabies to something a bit less depressing but just as fascinating, we have this book which breaks-down various scents from the early 1900's up to near the present day. Most of us may just think of perfume as something we splash on to smell good, but Ostrom's exhaustive research shows how the scents of an era can tell us a lot about its history, culture, and the like. It's an interesting book as it breaks-down decades into certain perfumes, displaying how something we would barely consider--scents--can be a reflection of so much. It is a fun read and you can always buy it on Amazon.
150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids
by Asia Citro
My son Clarkson right now a young baby at six months/four months adjusted for prematurity. That said, kids grow-up fast and in this era full of technology (no matter how wonderful it is) sometimes limiting screen-time for our little ones can be a good decision, especially if we have awesome and fun activities for them to do! This book has stuff for everyone from infants to kids 5 and older--as well as some activities I'd want to try--and is invaluable when it comes to generating ideas of awesome stuff we can do with our young'uns. I love the activities that involve making cool creations or doing craft-type stuff as even if I'm not the most art-skilled I still am a fan of doing such things! You can find the book on Amazon at this link.
by Jeff Lemire
I've been a fan of Jeff Lemire ever since I picked-up some of his earliest work, the "Essex County," comics he did. He does a wonderful job whether he is writing or illustrating, but I feel he is at his best when he's writing and illustrating. Lemire has worked in a variety of genres from sci-fi to superheroes but here gives us something more realistic in the tale of a man named Derek who used to play Hockey and now is just basically a violent has-been drunk. When Derek's sister, Beth, whom he hasn't seen in years comes to town fleeing an abusive ex its up to Derek just how he wants to handle that situation and Lemire draws us in with his skillful work to make us truly care about these individuals.

The sadness and longing for joy felt by these people exhausted by the trials of life strikes a chord and kept me hooked-into the story up until I reached its conclusion. Lemire also does some fascinating things with color, having the present-day be almost always a washed-out blue with only the color red making an appearance (usually for blood). Scenes from the past that characters remember are illustrated in a lush color however, as if even the most painful of memories are more, "Alive," than being trapped in an unhappy present. I've seen, "Roughneck," listed as being one of the best books of 2017 so far and it wouldn't surprise me if even once we finish the year and much more stuff has come out that it remains proudly on those lists. Roughneck can be found on Amazon or at Things From Another World.
Big Mushy, Happy Lump
by Sarah Andersen
Sarah Andersen's comics may be the kind you often see on the internet as she has a way to make little moments absolutely hilarious. Whether riffing on the comfort-level of sweaters, discussing how self-doubt can be our greatest enemy, or touching upon the way women are treated by society, she is a stellar artist and great producer of hilarious comic-strips.  There were a number of times I found myself chuckling or loudly guffawing at Andersen's work in this book. Sometimes the best way to tackle serious subjects is with some silly jokes, after all. You can get, "Big, Mushy, Happy Lump," on Amazon's site.

Now to Return Everything Before the Late Fees!
I always am pleased to get stuff from the library, and I encourage you to frequent your local establishment of learning and lending!