Sunday, December 17, 2017

Call for Suggestions Regarding My "2017 In Review" Posts!

As we are well into December I am hard at work on my posts discussing the,  "_____ of 2017." I have many posts already under-way discussing things like my favorite television show, the most annoying thing in comic-books this year, and so forth, but I would love suggestions. If you have one please feel free to comment here or send me an email at davidbitterbaum@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Friday, December 15, 2017

I'll Be At The STL Comics Pop Up Shop Tomorrow

I'm always interested in comic-related events here in Saint Louis, be they Wizard World, the Saint Louis Comic-Con, Toyman, or shows put on by STL Comics. While the big Winter One Day isn't due to happen till March, STL Comics still has a number of smaller events coming up such as the latest Micro Con on January 21st and tomorrow they will be showcasing a whole variety of comics and collectibles at their, "STL Comics Pop Up Shop." It'll feature a ton of their inventory all in one place--Holiday Inn Airport West at 3400 Rider Trail South, Earth City, Missouri, 63045--and is sure to be full of awesome and inexpensive books all the way to pricey and valuable things.

I'm excited to visit the Pop Up Shop tomorrow and encourage everyone else in the region to attend--it's free and sure to be fun!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Disney Might Buy Fox, What Does that Mean Though?

Thanks for the funny image, Slashfilm.
Update: The deal went though. We will see what the future holds.

We kept hearing about how for awhile there were rumors Disney wanted to buy Fox (at least a chunk of it including the film division, leaving the news and sports channels alone). The rumors faded but now it seems an announcement may be made tomorrow/Thursday that Disney and Fox intend to merge/let Fox be bought-out/etc. What does this mean though?

Well, Comics Beat has a pretty succinct summary of it all, explaining how this is a lot more than Disney being able to use Mutants in their Marvel movies. This is the kind of deal that could give a single studio 40% of the market for films, which as someone who isn't a fan of monopolies worries me a tad (and as director James Mangold AKA the man behind the good Wolverine movies has pointed out, this could very well hurt creativity in the film industry). I'm as excited as anyone else at the thought of Marvel properties owned by Fox now being accessible to the rest of the Marvel movies, and yes my heart gets aflutter at the thought of the Avengers fighting Doctor Doom, but the ethics and questions of a single company having this much power are troubling.
I love Disney, I have relatives who work for the company in various positions and they enjoy it greatly, sharing stories of both the challenges they face and fun they have. That said, Disney bought Marvel, Disney bought Star Wars, and now Disney may very well buy Fox. The House of Mouse will own Iron Man, Luke Skywalker, and Bart Simpson (that'd be an interesting cross-over). This happening would be an entertainment earthquake, and we all know how destructive earthquakes can be.

We shall soon see what happens and if the deal would even be able to go through after courts give it a once-over. That said, a lot of money and stock options may be soon exchanging hands with Disney very well be about to have even more power.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Netflix Tweet Showed How Creepy and Intrusive the Internet Can Be

When you're on the internet, utilizing a service, it is watching you. Facebook can see every political post, opinion on a product, and smiling selfie you put-up. Amazon is aware of any item you ever bought and has data to show trends and recommend other stuff to you. That porn site  you gave your credit card information to for a couple months complies data from users so it realizes you clearly have a fetish, and Netflix knows every single thing you've watched, and how many times you've watched it. When you're on the internet you don't have privacy as soon as you click that, "Agree," button on a website so you can shop there/view its videos/etc. People try not to think about this, but a Tweet from Netflix (oh, Twitter knows a lot about you too) recently made the lack of privacy clear.

Netflix jokingly said the other day how it noticed a number of people had watched the cheesy Hallmark movie, "A Christmas Prince," a number of days in a row. It was meant as a joke and some people giggled and promptly moved on. Other people thought, "Wait, Netflix can know exactly what a person is watching that easily?" and started feeling very uncomfortable. It was creepy--no matter what Netflix claims--and clearly raises a number of privacy concerns. After all, a number of people at Netflix most likely can see what any subscriber does. I don't know if this could ever be used to blackmail someone or something else nefarious ("Give us $100,000 or everyone will know about your terrible taste in sitcoms, Senator!), but it just gives people a feeling of unease. It is kind of funny though, because so often we ignore how little privacy we get when it comes to the internet--it is as intrusive as any service can be. I'm not saying this is a good thing, it just kind of is a sad fact, and a simple joke-Tweet from Netflix reminded people just how uncomfortably little you can keep to yourself in regards to the World Wide Web.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

My Third Time at the ToyMan Show Was Fantastic!

Today, December 10th, I attended the last Toyman show of the year for much of the morning (and it wraps up soon this afternoon). I have now visited the Toyman show put on by Chris, "Toyman," McQuillen three times in a row, so I'm thinking that illustrates how much I greatly enjoy going to it! Seeing as I am now becoming a regular I'm even more impressed by how the vendors always seem to have a wide variety of stock every show and I always find some cool stuff! Chris has a great variety of vendors at the show as I spent a good deal of time looking at the classic vintage toys, Funko Pops, and comic-books. This visit I did not buy any Funkos but did come across some cool comics! How about I share some of them with you now?
My favorite find this show was a, "slabbed," copy of the first issue of, "Infinity Gauntlet," which I acquired from STL Comics. I've discussed mixed feelings about slabbed books on the blog before, but as I of course have this saga of a story in trade form I just thought it would be neat to display the first issue with its gorgeous cover-art, and while 9.4-and-higher slabs sell for absurdly high sums I got this 8.5 very fairly.
I also stumbled across an old issue of the, "Widow," comic by friend of the blog Mike Wolfer and was pleased to pick that up from a vendor.
The last item of note I got was this snazzy issue of, "X-Force," featuring the second-ever appearance of Deadpool. I don't have the kind of money to pay for his first appearance but the second time he showed-up I can buy!
One other thing at the show which I found really cool was a vendor known as the Comic Grind bus. It looked like a regular bus with lots of decorations from the outside, but once you stepped inside it turned out to be a full-fledged portable comic shop that also could serve food and drink (although it wasn't selling edible items today so as to not impede on the food-sales inside). I talked with one of its creators, Phil Trapp, and told him how impressive the whole set-up was. He thanked me for my kind words and told me about their website where you can actually book the bus to come to parties or special events. I know if I ever hold an event big enough I'd be sure to have them come as I'm gonna save-up some money to get that, "Marvel Spotlight," they had with Moon Knight on the cover!

This last Toyman show of the year was just as fun a time as the other two I have attended and as long as Chris doesn't mind me bugging him about coming to the shows I'll keep writing about them and how awesome they are! You can visit the site here and get excited for all the shows coming in 2018--you'll most likely see me there at a number of them!

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Hot Comics Revue: Fourth Edition Fun

Fourth Time May Very Well be a Charm
This is the fourth entry in the potentially never-ending series of, "The Hot Comics Revue." This is where we discuss books that currently out and getting some buzz, immensely popular, or have steamy potential. As always, I thank my friends at Comics Heating Up for the idea to do this, as they discuss upcoming books that might get hot and this bit talks about ones that are already out. I encourage you to visit them for all your comic speculation needs.

A Book That is Warming-Up
This variant for the third issue shows potential to get hot.
Batman: White Knight (the series in general)
Written and illustrated by the immensely talented Sean Murphy, "Batman: White Knight," has presented an interesting take on what things could be like if the Joker were to become a good guy and in the process points out how Batman is kind of a violent monster when his more-awful enemies aren't present to cast him in a better light. It also had the clever idea to explain the changes in Harley Quinn over the years by making her in fact be two people, with the new third issue resulting in one of the Harley's becoming a new Joker. The book has been slowly heating up and I wouldn't be surprised if we saw this idea of Harley being a Neo Joker appearing in other books as well, making the latest third issue where this happens potentially a sought-after item. The whole series could get pretty hot and I'll be keeping my eye on it. For now you can get the assorted issues for about 10 bucks each on eBay and I could picture prices going up for the first and third issue easily. DC has a possibly huge hit on their hands here.

A Red-Hot Comic
Teen Titans #12
There has been some debate over what qualifies as the first in-comic appearance of, "The Batman Who Laughs," a character in DC's, "Metal," event who is an alternate-universe version of Batman meshed with the Joker. The general consensus has been his first full appearance is in this issue however. As for who he is, its a version of Batman from an alternate reality who is really evil. His visage arguably infringes on the look of Judge Death from 2000AD, but if you're gonna rip-off a creepy face why not take from the best? As, "Metal," has been quite the successful series and ,"The Batman Who Laughs," is arguably the breakout character, his one-shot comic has been very popular and what most have agreed to be his first full appearance-- this, "Teen Titans #12," has become quite the hot book. It is currently going for between $25-$40 on eBay and may very well get even hotter if this Batman makes any other future appearances.

Two Titles with Steamy Potential
Kill the Minotaur #1 Regular Cover, Skybound Megabox Variant, or Ashcan
A mini-series from the Image imprint Skybound (the same imprint behind the massively successful, "The Walking Dead," comic), "Kill the Minotaur," went six issues and was recently optioned. It has a standard first issue cover, a Skybound Megabox (a popular subscription box from the company) exclusive variant of the first issue, and had a promotional ashcan. These versions of the first issue and the ashcan seem to show a lot of potentail and assuming that the option comes to fruition this could go from steamy potential to blazing hot.
Reactor #1
Donny Cates is a writer who has been on fire lately with hits like, "God Country," and, "Redneck," at Image and has recently started writing for Marvel. He still has some random titles coming out at other publishers however, such as this new book, "Reactor," from the publisher Vault. A sequel of sorts to his book, "Interceptor," that was published by Heavy Metal, if Cates in general keeps getting heat almost anything he does could go up in value. For now it is just hovering around cover-price on eBay, so we shall see.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Rant-Reviews: Image Firsts and Seconds

The Beginning (or Near it)
I enjoy first issues as well as second issues of comics (which sometimes help further flesh-out a story). I also am often a fan of books released by Image Comics. How about we combine these elements and review some Image first issues and second issues?

Starts and Seconds
Paradiso #1
I found this book both fascinating and mostly indecipherable. Best I can tell, there is a city known as Paradiso that everyone wants to get into but many have died trying. We have a protagonist who may have an, "In," with a special mechanical tool, but its stolen by some weird robotic dudes. Look, I was really lost reading this but it looked darn good and was still fun, so I ain't mad. Still, this is actually a title that maybe it would benefit me to have been able to already read the second issue--or even further ahead as this seems like a really slow burn of a book. All of my confusion aside, the artwork and atmosphere have my interest piqued enough I would rate this a worthwhile 3 out of 5 stars. You can get a copy of, "Paradiso," at Things From Another World, on eBay, or via MyComicShop

Sleepless #1
Now we go from a really confusing book to this one that is actually really straightforward. Basically, we have a daughter of a deceased King who is illegitimate (e.g. the King made a baby with somebody besides his wife) but still a part of the court. Her uncle is taking over and she may be in danger, but has a member of the Court to protect her whom she clearly has some romantic chemistry with. The whole thing read kind of like a Young Adult romance novel with an elaborate fantasy world, PG-level affection, and while I'm not really the target demographic I still actually liked this a good deal. Our princess (affectionately nicknamed, "Poppy," by some) is a fun character, her protector is a pleasant guy, and the mystery of who might want to assassinate her introduces enough conflict to keep things interesting. I quite liked this and would eagerly rate it 4 out of 5 stars. Get yourself a copy from eBay, at Things From Another World, or at MyComicShop.

Hack Slash Resurrection #2
I've been reading the, "Hack Slash," series off-and-on since its early days at Devils Due (before the company folded and then was reborn) and when it moved to Image. Original writer Tim Seeley had an interesting concept in a girl named Cassie Hack who went around with her friend Vlad killing, "Slashers." Kind of the super, "Final Girl," her job was to take out those supernatural killing machines that we know so well from horror movies. A whole elaborate continuity was built up over many, many issues, but for this re-launch of the series with new writer Tini Howard (whom Seeley has eagerly endorsed) the series has clever dropped much of the baggage and just told us what we know to tell an interesting story. Cassie killed Slashers because her mother once was one, her friend Vlad died, and she quit.

The first issue showed Cassie being recruited to come work at a camp and this issue follows her as she learns the camp is actually a place for kids who have lost loved ones to Slashers and want to be trained in killing these supernatural monsters. The second issue is as strong as the first with a mixture of humor and the clever way it shows how world-weary Cassie has become. When she confronts someone reanimating dead bodies she declares she doesn't even care about the fact the man is making zombies because she is exhausted debating the ethics of such things, she just wants him to keep the damn things contained so the camp she works at can be safe. This example of a darkly humorous scene encapsulates much of the comic's charm. Whether you're a long time fan of this series or brand-new to it I would for sure recommend this book with an eager 4.5 out of 5 stars. Grab this issue at MyComicShop, on eBay, or at Things From Another World.

Void Trip #1
It's the future (I think) and humans have the ability to travel through space. Some, like our two main characters in this comic, use that power for little more than getting high off various alien fruits. Yeah, this is clearly a quirky little book and I found it very silly (in a good way). Still, like Paradiso I found myself a little confused just what exactly was going on and didn't feel much of a connection to the main characters. The great amount of humor and jokes kept things entertaining however so I'd say this squeaked into a 3 out of 5 stars rating with future issues potentially scoring more or less depending on how much more characterization and plot development we get. The first issue of, "Void Trip," can be bought from eBay, via Things From Another World, or at MyComicShop in addition to all other finer comic stores.

Witchblade #1
I've only read bits and pieces of the old classic, "Witchblade," comics from back in the day, and this is a complete re-launch in a whole new Universe completely removed from any connection to the old stories outside of the most basic concepts of what the Witchblade is (a mystical tool, obviously). I'll be honest and tell you that not much about this issue grabbed me. The characters were bland, the art was passable but unimpressive, and the whole thing was just purely passable. Nothing was about this book, but I didn't start getting interested until right at the end when the powers of the Witchblade manifested in a spectacularly violent fashion. It was alright and I'd give it 2.5 out of 5 stars. Visit Things From Another World, eBay, or MyComicShop to buy yourself a copy.

No. 1 With a Bullet #2
I absolutely loved the first issue of this comic and having read the second I continue to be fascinated. This slightly off-kilter version of our world with technology having become even more intrusive than it already is presents a stark view of the kind of path we're heading down. The protagonist, Nash, is dealing with the fallout of a sex tape leaking that she didn't even realize was being made because the person she was having sex with happened to be wearing special contacts that can record anything the wearer does. The result is Nash feeling violated and really, really pissed. There are clearly other malevolent forces involved in utilizing this technology and I continue to be excited to see where the story goes next. This stellar book easily achieves 5 out of 5 stars. Buy this latest issue at MyComicShop or on eBay.

Done with the Ones and Twos
These newer books from Image either were okay, quite good, or just plain stellar. The best part is that as all of these comics are only brand-new debuts or in their second issues it's incredibly easy for you to start reading and enjoying them too (at least, the ones I liked and would recommend). Now the only hard part is waiting patiently for the next issues of these books!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Television Tuesday: Damnit, Do I Feel Bad for Billy Bush?

I was never a big fan of Billy Bush when he would appear on The Today Show or Access Hollywood. He struck me as kind of smarmy and one of those bland television hosts who dreamed of great success but got stuck just popping up talking about the celebrity news. There was of course a famous incident where a tape leaked of Donald Trump on a, "Hot mic," talking to Billy Bush and other people before an Access Hollywood segment was taped some years ago when, "The Apprentice," was at its peak of popularity. Trump essentially outlined how he was a in favor of sexual assault because when someone is rich and powerful they can get away with fondling women. Once the tape leaked Bush got fired and Trump...well yeah.

Billy Bush was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert yesterday and basically shut-down the idea that Donald Trump has been proposing lately that somehow he wasn't the voice on the bus saying he likes to grab women, "By the pussy," plus arguably laid-out a case for it being weird that he got fired for simply listening to Donald Trump back in the day while Trump got to become President. Bush discussed how considering Donald Trump's power at that time (and to this day) was there much he could do but laugh and assume Trump was just telling jokes, doing a routine?
Bush has also written an Op-Ed for the New York Times calling out Trump for what he's said and when on Colbert talked about how he went soul-searching at a retreat, "Off the grid," and when he was checking-in saw Trump being sworn-in as President, following up that story with the simple word, "Irony." They also discussed how Bush was fired from the Today Show and just recently Lauer was fired for actually engaging in sexual misconduct and assault, meanwhile Bush listened to a man brag about it was let go. This all raises the question of if I actually feel bad for Billy Bush?

I still don't really like Billy Bush, I would argue he could have called-out Trump on that bus for his foul language and statements regardless of how much power Trump had. That said, Billy Bush really did get screwed (no pun intended). We see him now saying how he is sad he never even got to apologize to viewers on the Today Show and how he supports these women speaking-out against Trump and basically offering a big mea culpa and I while I wonder how much is legitimate versus an attempt to get back in the public's good graces....yeah, I feel bad for the guy.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Online Comic Auctions Are Fun!

We all know about auctions that happen in everyday life. Whether its a car show, antique event, estate sale, or something of that nature people will gather and bid on items. In this era of the internet sometimes online auctions will occur, but up until a few months ago I hadn't ever tried an online comic-book related auction. Having seen some of one a few months ago and taking place in it from the start today I would say they are a good time!

Starbase 1552 Comics is a physical shop found in Franklin Tennessee that has the fun features of your usual comic shop. They also will sometimes do live Facebook auctions and they are really fun. A list will be posted of what's going to go-up for auction and then at the proper day and time the event will stream and people can bid via the comments section. I was able to snag the first four issues of the original, "Moon Knight," series as well as a copy of, "Jessica Jones #1," signed by David Mack for very fair prices.
Starbase 1552 Comics has an official Facebook page specifically for their auction events that you can find here and I would encourage you to check them out and, "Attend," the next auction. If you're a lover of comics (and comic-related toy merchandise) it is cool just to see all the items and even more exciting to bid on things you want! It is my hope this kind of thing catches on even more and other shops do it too, because it is quite entertaining!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

That Moronic Tax Bill Tho

So, how about that that joke of a tax bill Republicans and Donald Trump forced through Congress quicker than a hot batch of diarrhea? Seriously though, it is one big gift for the rich, corporations, and actually hurts the middle class. All of that aside though, the very way it came together at the last minute with hand-scribbled notes and people not having any idea what was in it reminded me of when you have a group project and wait until 2 hours before the due date and scramble to put something, anything, together, so you can slap your name on it and claim success despite it being a steaming hot pile of failure. It is all just so shameful.

Friday, December 1, 2017

World AIDS Day is Today

Today is December 1st, also known as World AIDS Day. Established in 1988 this is a day of remembrance for all those we have lost to HIV and AIDS as well as a time to note how far we've come--plus how much further there is to go. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can lead to an AIDS status when a person's immune system reaches a very low level--a CD4 level that could be as reduced as the low hundreds or even single digits (to put that in perspective, someone without HIV could have a CD4 of 1600) this of course can result in a person getting sick easier with a variety of opportunistic infections. Whereas when AIDS was first identified decades ago it was thought of as a death sentence it now is a treatable chronic condition.

If you are sexually active you should always make sure to regularly get tested as you have no excuse to be unaware of your HIV status. I no longer currently work in Public Health as the premature birth of our son, Clarkson, resulted in my wife and I deciding together for me to stay home. That said, I still am passionate about Health and as I worked in Medical Case Management assisting individuals with HIV as well as informing people about it, I just wanted to make sure all my readers were aware what today was, and how I would encourage them to know their status. There are numerous places to get tested and should someone live in the Saint Louis region I would for sure encourage them to visit my former employer, Williams and Associates, for a free HIV test as well as safer-sex supplies!