Saturday, October 20, 2018

The First Two Issues of Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia Are Great Fun!

I'm always pleased when independent or small-press creators of comic-books send me a message, tweet, or piece of pineapple with a message carved into it. There are so many comic-books out there that even I--a person who spends too much time on the internet reading about comics--don't know about, and if somebody has the time to pop-up in my DM's with something other than a dick-pic or hate-mail I'm always eager to receive it. Therefore, when Ed Kuehnel from Suspicious Behavior Productions sent me a message asking if I'd like to read the first two issues of his comic, "Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia," I told him I'd be glad to do so. Having checked the first two entries in his series out now, I'm glad he messaged me because its a great read!

"Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia," is a mixture of action, comedy, and science-fiction written by Ed Kuehnel and Matt Entin, with art by Dan Schkade, and colors produced by Marissa Louise. It follows a struggling wrestler named Rory Landell who basically as a gag when he quits professional wrestling due to being fed-up with the politics of it says he doesn't need a world championship because he is the, "Galactic Champion of the Universe." This attracts the attention of space aliens who don't take kindly to having their wrestling supremacy challenged and leads to a whole mess of trouble. It's a humorous idea and the writing by Kuehnel and Entin play-up how there is a silly element but they also ensure we see how Landell is struggling as someone who loves the sport/art of wrestling despite all the difficulties and hardship pursing his dreams of pro-wrestling has brought him.
Schkade's art and Louise's color-work are both phenomenal, at the kind of professional-level you'd expect from a comic sitting on the stands with other releases from big-name publishers. The stereotype at times goes that indie-comics have lower-quality/more abstract artwork, but Schkade is stellar from the elaborate wrestling get-ups to showing folk battling it out the ring with a feeling of frentic energy matched by Louise's effectively bright and striking colors. Between the great mix of humor and heart-felt sentiment with the fantastic artwork I can say the first two issues of, "Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia," are stellar. You can find out for yourself via following links from their website for the e-reading format of your choice. I rate both issues 5 out of 5 stars and can't wait for more!

A digital copy of both issue #1 and #2 of, "Invasion from Planet Wrestletopia," were provided for the purpose of review.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Film Friday: The New, "Halloween," Movie That Actually Looks Good Comes Out Today

The new, "Halloween," movie that actually looks like it won't suck is coming out today. It ignores every movie except the first (which is the only great one, although the 3rd which is basically wholly removed from the series has its charms) and the director of the original (along with other classic films) John Carpenter was impressed enough by it he was willing to serve as a producer and make some music for it. He's not directing as he doesn't want to direct anymore he has said, stating he'd rather spend his 70's jamming at concerts, watching basketball and playing video-games like, "Fallout 4." Most buzz has been positive and Jamie Lee Curtis reprises the role she played 40 years ago for the series (she's come back other times too, but again, those don't count this go-around) which is snazzy as she is a stellar actress. I hope to check it out at some point while its in theaters or to be sure to rent it on DVD/streaming/whatever technology we all use these days. If anyone sees it do please tell me what you think so I know how excited to be/not be for when I view it.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Someone Gave Bill Jemas a Lot of Money and I'm Eager to See What He'll Create With It

Ya'll know Bill Jemas, right? He helped raise Marvel out of bankruptcy in the early 2000's with some quality ideas (and had some bad ones along the way too, but it clearly worked out) then did a variety of other projects. Most recently he was the head of Double Take Comics. He actually reached-out to me when I posted a mostly-negative review of the first issues of a lot of the books and offered to send me more thinking I might like the books if I delved in deeper. He was right, and it made me sad when Double Take was dissolved. I like Bill Jemas, after all he was quite kind as opposed to trying to murder me in my sleep when I at first hated on his comics and then thanks to his gambit of giving me more to read I discovered I enjoyed what he had published.

Clearly Jemas loves comics and isn't afraid of taking risks. Well, those two things have combined with him getting a fat 5 million dollar check from a venture capital firm, "Lightspeed Venture Partners," a company with its hands in various stuff (for example, they were an early investor in that Snapchat all the kids love). With this money he has founded Artists, Writers and Artisans, Inc. which is going to of course make comics. I imagine with that kind of seed-money there are ideas to do various multi-media things such as get television shows, movies, or whatever made, but time will tell. One other interesting nugget in all this is that Marvel's recent former Editor-in-Cheif Axel Alonso--who either left Marvel of his own volition or was ousted depending on whom you ask--might be a part of this too. Jemas is smart and after how he was possibly hamstrung from doing the comics it was rumored he wanted to do at Double Take it seems like he's been sure to get his ducks in a row for this business venture, ensuring he's in charge and has plenty of time to put-out whatever he's got cooking, stating not to expect anything until, "2019 or later." I'm very curious what ol' Billy as I call him against his wishes might be up to, and I'm eager to eventually find out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Television Tuesday: Single Parents

The channel ABC has a mixture of comedy programs that are still relatively young and fresh ("American Housewife," just started its 3rd season) and ones that used to be great but now have long since worn out their welcome ("Modern Family," lost its spark about 4 or 5 seasons ago). In its effort to keep introducing new stuff to replace whatever gets cancelled or finally ends ("Modern Family," might actually wrap this year, I've heard), ABC has brought us, "Single Parents," and it is suitably funny thanks primarily to the strength of its cast injecting some life into what might otherwise be dull stock characters.

"Single Parents," focuses on  its titular group of single parents at an elementary school who take turns handling various responsibilities so as to have somewhat balanced lives. The characters might feel mostly like cliches if it weren't for the talent portraying them. Brad Garrett plays an old somewhat-conservative white guy who had to raise his two twin daughters when his young wife suddenly passed away. Taran Killam (I always loved him on, "Saturday Night Live," and am happy he has a new gig) appears as a very high-strung former weatherman who has made so much of his life about raising his daughter he struggles to have his own personality. We've also got Jake Choi as a very young dad to a new baby who still has a lot of growing-up to do himself and Kimrie Lewis plays a mother who is also a wine bar owner and a strong feminist (yes, she and Garrett's character argue a lot as you would've predicted).
Leighton Meester
Leighton Meester's character is probably the only one that isn't too exaggerated a stereotype. Meester is instead shown as a younger mom dealing with a somewhat over-clingy son, a work-romance she is both excited and hesitant about, and no particular overly-zany qualities like the other parents, so with her talent she excels even without a crutch of some over-the-top personality aspect to fall back on. She and everyone else have great chemistry, and the actors who portray their kids all do a solid job even if at times the show seems unsure if it wants the kids to get equal-billing with their parents as main characters or if they are more secondary to the various shenanigans the grown-up cast gets into.

There have been three episodes so far and each one feels stronger than the last. The premiere/pilot had the usual problem of having to nail-down all the main plot points and introduce everyone within a single episode, but after that things have been able to breathe more and allow us to get to know the characters and how they handle various scenarios from dating to helping their kids deal with the death of a pet. "Single Parents," isn't perfect, but it is quite funny more often than not and the cast makes even the silliest situations worth watching. I'd give what I've seen so far of, "Single Parents," 4 out of 5 stars, and I'm eager to keep tuning in!

Monday, October 15, 2018

I Really Like That, "Drew Barrymore," Song by Bryce Vine for Some Reason

Bryce Vine is not a music artist I am particularly familiar with. He apparently was briefly on a reality show for teen-singers where they competed to be on, "Glee," titled, "The Glee Project," which I did watch years ago, but as he was the first eliminated it doesn't surprise me I have zero recollection of his time on the program. That said, hes been working for some years making singles and EPs, with one he debuted in 2017 titled, "Drew Barrymore," starting to get a lot of play now in mid-to-late 2018.

His story is interesting, going from almost giving-up at music after struggling to get signed with a label to finally finding some success, and shows how hard he has had to work to get some recognition unlike various tweens who get found by record labels thanks to their videos on YouTube and then are groomed for mass consumption with bland pop-releases (Justin Bieber, Austin Mahone, etc.). Vine has been working and has a debut album coming out in 2019 that may be titled, "Carnival." I'm interested in hearing it because I like, "Drew Barrymore," so much. What makes it as enjoyable as it is, though?

"Drew Barrymore," is basically a song about Vine finding a woman attractive and having sex with her, one of the most basic song-concepts ever. The thing is, he works in so damn many clever metaphors, uses his sing-song raps expertly, and otherwise makes the whole thing weirdly entrancing that I can't help but want to listen to the song repeatedly. He paints a surreal picture of the room they are making love in, talking about a television that doesn't work, describing her as a hurricane sweeping through a desert like a "Hot Americana rain."

It is a strangely poetic song even as it admits that it is mainly about, "Fucking on the counter or the coffee table." The mixture of concepts and Vine's deep voice reminds me a bit of another talented lyricist, Mike Ladd, and that is meant as the utmost compliment to Vine. "Drew Barrymore," is a song I can say I really like thanks to being so intriguing as well as catchy. I look forward to hopefully hearing a lot more from Vine in 2019!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

This Weekend in Comics and Politics, The World and America in Particular Burned as Usual

America is of course metaphorically burning, with all the terrible people who shouldn't be listened to somehow gaining more and more power (Alt-Right, Neo-Nazis) in this surreal alternate Universe where Donald Trump is President, the hateful people claim we should engage in bad-faith debates with them, and Taylor Swift may inexplicably be America's last hope for democracy. This weekend was just one where things kept burning as usual, with two events helping to illustrate this.

First off, the folk over at Bleeding Cool (you know, that website with some good articles but which is slathered in annoying ads) apparently had an interview with super-troll and known hateful-idiot, Vox Day. The article talked about how terrible Day was as a self-described White Supremacist and fact-checked his absurd claims (Holocaust denial, etc.), but why even interview the moron and give him a voice? Nazi's don't deserve a kind debate, they need a punch in the face and someone as far-left as Warren Ellis agrees with me on that. People got mad at Bleeding Cool and they took the article down, apologizing and saying there would be some changes to who was in charge...which resulted in people asking, "Wait, just who is in charge there?" People stood-up against the terrible alt-right jackasses and good won the day though, showing we should fight-back against these intolerant assholes, right? It's not like reasonable people will be upset we fought against hate after all. Read my next paragraph and find out...
Comic-book writer Chuck Wendig was fired from his, "Star Wars," books for Marvel for actually fighting-back at hateful trolls who disliked that he dared did things like have LGTBQ characters in his, "Star Wars," comics. Apparently Wendig needed to be more, "Civil," towards the people spewing threats at him. This is one big gift/capitulation to the morons over at, "Comicsgate," as they continue to seek-out any way they can cause damage to folk who don't agree with their blind worship of Donald Trump, what do they believe besides that diversity is bad and the Cheeto-in-office is good? Now we've had James Gunn negatively impacted by right-wing trolls for old crass jokes (don't worry, he's doing okay now), and Chuck Wendig fired for doing nothing beyond calling-out stupid and hateful people.

I just love how the same people who want to be able to refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple, force women to take an unwanted pregnancy to term as some kind of walking incubator, march in the streets declaring how they won't be replaced by minorities, and insist that Jews run the media are the same ones declaring how we need to be, "Civil," towards them as they turn back the clock on any social progress made the last half-century and strip everyone of their rights whilst running the nation into the ground. Bleeding Cool fucked-up giving one of those people a platform and Chuck Wendig got fucked-over for refusing to treat the trolls with their desired but undeserved civility. You don't have a polite conversation with a Nazi, you punch it--and I'm saying this as a very polite and reasonable person. As Wendig said in one of his tweets, things are going to get worse before they get better and we need to make sure we vote (while we're still able). America is burning, and those who lit it on fire are chastising us for not speaking to them with civility.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Funko Friday: A Website Was Hacked for Exclusive Funko Pops and Dear God That is Silly

A Recipe for Trouble
Update: It went live for real today at 2PM and everything sold-out within 10 minutes. At least it was supposed to go live this time.

I've discussed before (I think) how with Funko Pops sometimes there will be ones that come out for big comic-conventions and if you're not at the show other retailers will sell them--a, "Shared Exclusive." For example, New York Comic-Con just wrapped and there were many Funko Pops produced to be sold at it or partner-retailer stores. If you couldn't get a, "Gearhead," at the show, Target had some, or if you needed the newest Pop of Supergirl, Barnes and Noble should've stocked her. One company that was given shared exclusives was Toy Tokyo, which has a web-shop but otherwise just has a retail store in New York City. Lately what they have done for their shared exclusives is make a webpage with a password and shortly after that page is created tweet the code out randomly a bit after the convention is done and they know what they still have in stock to sell. Some days ago they put up the latest page and kept telling people little hints about when it might, "Go live," trying to use cutesy metaphors about when Hobbits have meals or such. It was obvious that it would be a simple word however based on past occasions, and the page was up for awhile sitting there. People could even try and type in a password, and everyone was getting annoyed with the arcane clues being occasionally posted online, so that was a recipe for trouble. You can guess what happened next.

Hack Attack!
Yes, someone either was able to guess the password or programmed some bots to simply try a bunch of words as quickly as possible until somehow it was found-out that of all things, 'Nuclear," could get you into the web-page and able to purchase the Toy Tokyo pops in a bundle. It got tweeted, shared on Facebook, posted on Reddit, and so forth. Word spread fast. Once Toy Tokyo saw all these orders they shut the page down, declared any purchases would be cancelled, and said the official release date was going to be pushed-back, to which many people wondered, "Pushed-back from what? You never even told us a date or time!"

Now, I am disgusted that people were so desperate for Funko Pops that they actually dedicated time and effort to hacking the Toy Tokyo website. You must have gone a little crazy with this hobby if you're actually trying to break-into a website for a fun toy product. I also understand that Toy Tokyo acted in a  foolish manner in regards to having proper website security, plus they were making a lot of people angry with their daily vauge-as-Hell hints about when they'd finally sell their damn Pops. The hackers are in the wrong, but Toy Tokyo sure could have done a lot more to prevent what occurred. The whole thing is a mess and now I don't know when people will be able to get their Orange Chrome Batman or any of the other Pops. I just hope it is sooner than later and Toy Tokyo drops the whole cheeky-hints bit.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Hot Comics Revue: Getting Our Kicks with the Sixth

It's Been Awhile
I am aware that it has been a bit since I did an installment of, "The Hot Comics Revue," as the last one was in, let me see here...March of this year. There are consistently titles that are quite, "Hot," or showing potential though, so I thought I would do a new entry! Oh, and as always, I'd encourage you to visit my chums at Comics Heating Up for speculation on comics that haven't been released yet and could become highly desired.

A Comic That is Warming Up
Riptide (The Series So Far)
A snazzy title from independent publisher Red 5 Comics, this mini-series tackles the idea of an absurdly large tidal wave forming that pulls the ocean miles away from land, giving everyone only a limited amount of time to flee to safety if they are on the coast, and putting anyone currently within the ocean (such as on a cruise ship) in immense danger. It's a quite clever concept and I've read two of what I believe will be four issues. It's had some buzz and not many copies at all were published as this is a smaller publisher. If this idea were to get optioned for some kind of big-budget blockbuster however this title could become quite the gem. As for right now, first-print copies of the early issues trend for $10-$20.

A Red-Hot Title
Batman: Damned #1 (either cover)
We all have Batman's penis to thank for this one. I mean, I would've imagined a barely-visible outline of Bruce Waynes wiener would've caused some buzz, but dear God, who saw this coming (no pun intended, get your mind out of the gutter)? Apparently it has actually made some of the people in DC who hold a lot of power upset, and it could very well result in the Black Label line as we know it basically being dead upon arrival. If some nudity really causes DC to panic and move away from mature-reader books--which was the whole damn point of the Black Label--that's just spineless. We all know comics aren't just for kids anymore (as hacky news articles like to declare every couple of months) and you can have a Batman who sells toys coexist with the kind who brutally beats-up the Joker in, "The Dark Knight," or gets nude in the Batcave within, "Batman: Damned." The hilarious thing is that because all future editions of the comic will have the offending genitalia edited-out its caused more hubbub and everybody wants a copy of this book now (either cover) resulting in it easily selling for an easy $40 and up.

A Comic With Steamy Potential
Dark Avengers #1 (Regular Cover or Variants)
This title actually came out back in 2009, arguably serving as one of the main books during Norman Osborn's so-called, "Dark Reign," where he gained a whole bunch of political power thanks to helping save the day at the end of, "Secret Invasion." It was essentially a team of evil Avengers and due to a rumor that we may be getting a, "Dark Avengers," movie everyone is eager to grab a copy in the hopes it'll go from a former dollar-bin book to something super-sought after (kind of like how nobody once cared about Groot, and now we all want his early books). This could all be one big pile of lies, could simply be a title that actually doesn't draw from the comics at all (like, "Age of Ultron,") or is possibly an indicator of what the future holds for Marvel's films. Whatever the case, dig through your short-boxes for the copy of the first issue you put away and forgot about, it is starting to trend for at least 20 bucks.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Taylor Swift Now Reflects My Politics More Than Kanye West Does. What Happened?

Wait, I'm not mad at you?
I have to ask, what happened? Kanye West was outspoken and radical, speaking truth-to-power, being a bit over-the-top and full of himself, but still amazing and insightful. Then he let us all down, seemed to get red-pilled, drink the Trump kool-aid, etc. Meanwhile, I was always anti-Taylor Swift. I declared as recently as 2017 how she was bully, loved to play the victim, was the worst kind of white-privilege-having-Becky. Now though, in October of 2018, the whole damn world has gone topsy-turvy.

Taylor Swift posted on Instagram how she supported a number of Democratic candidates in her state of Tennessee. She wrote about how she wanted candidates to be elected who would represent all Americans regardless of race, gender, and sexuality. She discussed her support for making sure women receive equal pay, fighting against businesses denying services to gay couples (e.g. refusals to bake a wedding cake), she even said how the systemic racism sweeping this nation disgusted her. I agree with every damn thing she said in her post, and meanwhile Kanye West is rocking a, "MAGA," hat and otherwise makes me feel immense embarrassment that I once supported him so unquestionably.
This is the picture that accompanies Swift's now-famous post.
Some of Swift's fans were mad about her post, as folk assumed she must be a Republican and for some bizarre reason a chunk of the alt-right on the web thought she was secretly a white supremacist for assorted crazy reasons.  Now, a whole bunch of young people registered to vote while there was still time and it looks like a lot of that can be attributed to Swift. Has the world come to the point where Taylor Swift turns into the shining beacon of hope for the Democratic party as an outspoken supporter who does what so many others have failed to do--get young people to actually go to the polls and vote? Seriously, when did our reality get to a point where I was nodding my head in agreement with Taylor Swift and burying my face in my hands with disgust at Kanye West?

We truly are living in a strange alternate universe. I never thought I'd say this, but thank you, Taylor Swift, I appreciate what you did to further democracy in America and fight injustice. While we're clearing the air, I will also admit my dirty secret that I do like the song, "Blank Space," by Swift. Imagine Dragons actually does a cool cover of it that meshes into, "Stand by Me," that you can find on Spotify, I think.

"In Winter," is a Beautiful and Twisted Tale

People know I enjoy comics from the mainstream to independent, USA-based to International, and I'm always on the lookout for something cool to read. Therefore, whenever I hear from the good folk at the publisher Rotopol about any art or comics they have coming out, I'm eager to learn more. I previously discussed my enjoyment of, "I Hate You, You Just Don't Know it Yet," and was excited to learn about their latest work which is currently out in Germany and being released in the United States (in English) this November. Titled, "In Winter," it is reminiscent of one of those old classic children's fables--with all the twisted darkness such a thing includes!

Written and illustrated by Rita Fürstenau, I have to immediately say that, "In Winter," is absolutely a gorgeous comic. Fürstenau has an art style that is a mixture of detailed and abstract, with her tale of a starving cat that meets a cruel hawk featuring impressive illustration that makes your jaw drop it is so amazing. The mixture of black, white, and gray gives everything a suitably somber tone as well. As I mentioned, the story opens with a starving cat asking a hawk for help, finding itself dismissed by the rude and prideful hawk, and sadly dying. However, death takes pity on the cat and brings it back as a beautiful owl--an owl so beautiful the hawk that once ignored the cat now finds itself obsessed with the owl. Needless to say, the hawk learns a brutal lesson, but as for if the owl finds some kind of happiness or peace, to know that you'll need to read the comic!

"In Winter," is as beautiful in its illustration as it is cleverly twisted in its story. It is the kind of fable that carries with it a wise lesson and I could spend hours admiring Rita Fürstenau's artwork. Should you want to order a copy for yourself to be shipped when the book has its official release in America during the Comic Arts Brooklyn Festival (in the aforementioned month of November) you can pre-order it here at this link. I enthusiastically rate this book 5 out of 5 stars and look forward to reading more work from Fürstenau and all the talented folk published by Rotopol!

Note: A digital review copy was provided in advance of the comic's release in America for the purposes of review.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

"Tha Carter V," is a Solid, if Over-Stuffed, Return to Form for Lil' Wayne

After taking what feels like forever since, "Tha Carter IV," due to assorted legal disputes over what label would have ownership of it, "Tha Carter V," has dropped and is a massive hit. While it goes a little long, with a run-time of nearly 90 minutes, there is enough great stuff that the album never feels bloated so much as super-sized. We get a mixture of introspective Wayne ("Took His Time") and hyper-Wayne ("Uproar,") with an assortment of guest artists assisting him at times too. For example on the catchy, "Dope Niggaz,") he teams with Snoop Dogg for a jam that has a sample of the classic, "Xxplosive," mixed in, and on, "Mona Lisa," We get some verses from Wayne telling a story about a woman helping him rob men through her seductive abilities before he himself is fooled, and then at the end Kendrick Lamar appears on the track and just launches it into outer-space with a mixture of suddenly-changing melodies, altering his own voice, and generally being his amazing Kendrick-self.

The album isn't perfect, with some tracks seeming just muddled ("Dark Side of the Moon,") or decent but a little low-energy for me as someone who prefers Wayne's manic-raps as opposed to when he slowly drawls ("Famous,"). Still, there is enough quality material on this album absolutely stuffed with tracks that the quality content is much more plentiful than the lacking aspects. "Tha Carter V," is a very enjoyable listen, and one I'd rate...
4 out of 5 stars.

The Juiciest News I Heard Today: James Gunn to work for DC/Warner Brothers

Once Upon a Time There Was a Joke Told
As everyone may recall, James Gunn has been the director of an assortment of films during his career, including the loaded-with-charm, "Guardians of the Galaxy," 1 and 2, AKA the only Marvel movies besides, "Black Panther," and the first, "Iron Man," to also clearly have a director's, "Voice," seep thoroughly into the movie besides the general Marvel-house-style. People may also recall that when people who were mad at Gunn for his speaking-out against Trump dug-up old Tweets made by Gunn telling crass jokes, Disney fired the man. For old--admittedly tasteless jokes--that Gunn himself said he realized a decade later weren't funny then or now.

Despite various efforts to have Disney reverse the decision via actions taken by fans, the cast of the movies, and maybe even Marvel executives, Disney stood firm, and Gunn was gone as Director even if they would utilize his script for the 3rd movie--which is now permanently on hold. It was a mess and the one slightly funny thing about it was hearing people joke how now this freed Gunn up to go work for Warner Brothers/DC at fixing their cinematic universe. Well...

It Ain't a Joke No More!
What at first seemed like simple gossip is now being reported on multiple news sites that James Gunn is in fact going to be writing a brand-new, "Suicide Squad," movie for DC. Not, "Suicide Squad 2," but basically his own thing being allowed to do whatever he wants because Warner Brothers obviously realized by reaching out to Gunn with a friendly invitation he'd sign with them and we'd have articles expressing surprise and mine, I suppose. Now, right now he's just writing the script, but dollars to doughnuts I bet DC is more than eager to have him hop in the director's chair. I mean, "Suicide Squad," is a movie about a rag-tag group of heroes and villains who go on zany adventures--is it me or does that sound a little bit like his other movies for Marvel he had massive success doing?

This is some of the juiciest news I've heard today and in some ways it is both utterly shocking, and in other ways I'm surprised it took DC this long to snatch-up Gunn once they had the chance. I'm just hopeful this means we'll actually get a good, "Suicide Squad," movie if nothing else. It's possible, right?

Television Tuesday: Just Wanted to Remind You, "Black Lightning," is Back!

I just wanted to remind everyone that, "Black Lightning," returns with season 2 today and based on how good season 1 was, I am very excited. It is a damn good show with its mixture of super-powers, politics, family drama, and stellar acting from the entire cast. Make sure to tune into the CW at 9PM Eastern, 8PM Central (or set your DVRs, whatever works), and fun will be had!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Stuff from NYCC 2018 I Found Noteworthy

The Day After the Con
It is the Monday after New York Comic-Con. It also is Columbus' Day, but fuck him, I'm calling it Indigenous People's Day because there were people here before he, "Discovered," America in 1492. Anyways, NYCC 2018 had a variety of things that occurred or were announced. I by no means have a detailed list of all of them, just the things that I felt were noteworthy enough to discuss or I at least had a snarky comment to share about. Shall we?

News and Such
I really feel bad for Dark Horse. They lost the, "Star Wars," license shortly after Disney bought Marvel, they also had, "Conan the Barbarian," snatched-up by Marvel, and now they don't even have Buffy, with BOOM! getting the rights and planning to reboot the series for the modern day. I enjoy the stuff that comes out of BOOM! and am sure it'll be great with a creative team including the stellar Jordie Bellaire, but ouch.

Speaking of Conan and Marvel, apparently he will be getting a second ongoing comic from the publisher. Oh, and the, "Avengers," book is going to be weekly again. That is seriously the only thing regarding Marvel I found interesting--I think some other stuff was announced like a, "Cloak and Dagger," digital series, but I don't even care enough to look for a link. Okay fine, here, don't say I never gave you anything.

Lobo is going to be appearing on the second season of the television show, "Krypton." Also, apparently, "Krypton," had a first season?

I said above how I felt bad for Dark Horse, but things are still going relatively okay for them. They've got that, "Umbrella Academy," show coming to Netflix based on the beloved comic and the newest cinematic version of, "Hellboy," is getting some positive early buzz.

That DC streaming service is chugging along, with some talented folk involved in their, "Doom Patrol," show that I quite like, such as Brendan Fraser along with Matt Bomer. Also, their animated Harley Quinn show will star that Kaley Cuoco lady from, “The Big Bang,” theory show as Harley's voice. In case you aren't sure what, "The Big Bang," theory is, its that show that seems to always be on in the background at your relative's house. Oh, and it isn't coming-out on the streaming service until well after its theatrical run, but  DC released a whole five minutes of new footage from the upcoming, “Aquaman,” film, which I think means they are relatively confident to give people that big of a, “Taste,” of the flick.

Image had a great show, with plenty of goodies for sale, creator signings, and a panel about horror in comics that sounds like it was a treat for all in attendance.

Brian Michael Bendis will be continuing his many, many tasks at DC with the launch of yet another imprint from the company, "Wonder Comics." As this line isn't geared specifically toward mature readers the odds of us getting to see Batman's wang again are sadly quite minimal.

European publisher Humanoids had been gathering an assortment of talented creators for awhile in regards to some kind of unannounced project, with the exact reason just as unclear. At NYCC they declared they are actually going to be doing their own unique super-hero universe. I wish them luck, as it is possible, but surely going to be hard to do in a market already full of this content. At least, as I said, they've got some great creators on-board.

Lastly, here is something not at all shocking, we will be getting another war comic from writer Garth Ennis. It will probably be very well-written as most things by Ennis are, I just find it interesting how much this guy loves to make war comics.

That Does it for Now
That's everything from NYCC 2018 I can recall as being worth posting about. There may have been something else, but if I can't recall it right now perhaps that illustrates how actually interesting it was. I'd love to get out to NYCC someday and visit the vendor booths, artist alley, and perhaps take in a panel where stuff like the above news gets announced, but for now I'm content to just read about what occurred.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

To My Immense Surprise, "Venom," is a Box-Office Hit

I'm still working at gathering my thoughts about NYCC, but have something else immediately bugging me. It is just...I honestly did not expect this. I read reviews that declared, "Venom," was plainly terrible, and even positive reviews basically went, "It's not that bad." I had talked about how a Sony film universe featuring characters whose main defining trait is their relationship with Spider-Man could not work with that element removed. Then Venom goes to make more than $80 million domestically and top-out over $200 total with International sales put in the mix too. Wow. Perhaps there are lessons to take from this, but I'm frankly stunned.

Tom Hardy, the star of the movie, himself didn't seem that enthused about it during his press-tour, but I guess he'll be eager to get another check to do an assured sequel now (and from what I've heard about the mid-credits scene, there is at least some potential there). I just want to restate how utterly shocked I am that, "Venom," made as much money as it did, thanks I guess to a mixture of people with fond memories of his comics in the 1990's, young fans who thought it looked at least passably entertaining, and individuals who inexplicably find Venom super-sexy.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Appointment of Brett Kavanaugh is a Prime Example of Male AND White Privilege

The newest Supreme Court Justice.
Today the Senate was able to pass a vote to appoint Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. This is an embarrassment for many reasons. There was of course a lot of press about how Kavanuagh behaved back during his high school and college years, allegedly being a heavy-drinker and possibly even committing a variety of sexual assaults. Depending on whom you ask, Kavanaugh didn't do anything too terrible and was just a kid having fun, or did indeed drink way too much and maybe even raped women.

A female friend of mine who disclosed to me that when she was young she was sexually assaulted and  would readily share she hates Kavanaugh as a person also pointed out to me that when folk are in high school or college they have a lot of growing-up and development to do. This makes it hard to judge their actions decades later as long as they didn't do anything too heinous. This made me think for sure and even putting aside the question of how he acted in the past, his behavior in the present has clearly shown him unfit to be a judge, with the only reason he was able to be successfully appointed today arguably stemming from an equal mixture of male privilege and white privilege.
Brett Kavanaugh at the Senate hearings lied about what various things he had written meant, instead of owning-up to using foul and sexual language he claimed other meanings. He yelled, blamed Democrats and others as being against him, and otherwise showed he was not impartial. If a woman had acted the way he did people would have decried her being, "Too emotional," to be a judge. He got the benefit of the doubt however, as he is a man...well, a white man. Were Kavanaugh a black man people would have believed the women coming forward saying he raped them, because even a black teenager or pre-teen doesn't get the same leeway as a collegiate white male. Just look at the past and present for examples of how a black man even being suspected of whistling at a white woman or simply being out and about in public while black can get the police called and have them arrested or killed. A black man who was a, "Loud drunk," wouldn't get away with what Kavanaugh wrote about with his friends.

Brett Kavanaugh shouldn't be a Supreme Court Justice, it is an atrocity. As with so much of the Donald Trump Presidency however, terrible things keep getting forced through by the President and a Republican party willing to look the other way regarding how awful he is as long as their agenda gets to be followed and make America worse. I'm disgusted, simply disgusted.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

"High Hopes," by Panic At the Disco Is Oddly Catchy

When I was younger/in my teens I absolutely hated the band known as, "Panic at the Disco." Their debut album, "A Fever You Can't Sweat Out," would be played all day by my sister, with many songs repeating at least 5 times before she went on to the next one. As my room was next to hers in my folk's house and she blared it at an absurd volume it was a personal Hell that could drive anyone insane. Anytime I would hear the lyrics, "I chime in..." my body would instantly want to curl-up into a fetal position. Therefore, color me surprised that their latest song, "High Hopes," is one that I actually...enjoy?

"High Hopes," with its mixture of enthusiastic singing, spiffy horns, and quick-moving melody is quite the toe-tapper. As the music video up above shows, there is just something about its high-octane sound and positive energy I find oddly catchy. I am just pleased that, "Panic at the Disco," now has a song I can enjoy as opposed to having flashbacks to screaming at my sister to turn her music down.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

A Kieron Gillen-written, "Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt," Sounds Potentially Fun

I am a big fan of Kieron Gillen. He is a writer capable of great variation and unlike some writers who I adore but seem to stick to certain themes, ideas, or character archetypes, Gillen just is all over the place--in a great way. Gillen can write a comic book about a world where music is magical ("Phonogram,") give us a yarn about supernatural God ("The Wicked and the Divine,") or present an alternate universe World War II where the Nazi's developed superhuman ("Uber"). Therefore, hearing that Kieron Gillen is going to be writing a new, "Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt," comic for Dynamite makes me intrigued by how it sounds potentially fun.

I of course am probably the one person who remembers and really liked the, "Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt," comic from 2012, when Dynamite last had a book with the character (I believe there haven't been any others). One interesting thing about Peter Cannon is that he was of course one of the original Chalrton characters that Alan Moore based Ozymandias upon for his world-renowned comic, "Watchmen." Unlike some former Charlton heroes DC Comics has the current rights to however (The Question, Blue Beetle), Peter Cannon is an IP currently owned by Dynamite. That doesn't neccesarily have any bearing on the kind of comic Gillen will be making, but I wouldn't be surprised if a little bit of a Ozymandias-vibe ironically influences the character he was based upon. I suppose in January of 2019 we will know just what kind of Gillen-comic we are in for.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Television Tuesday: Saturday Night Live is Back, with All its Strengths and Weaknesses in Tow

On Saturday, September 29th of this year 2018, "Saturday Night Live," began its 44th season. Yes, 44th, it is astounding, I know (and especially impressive to think Kenan Thompson has been there since the 29th season). SNL is of course a unique beast in many ways, arguably the last living example of something akin to vaudeville with its variety-act structure. It also is a show that through lasting nearly a half-century has had an immense number of ups-and-downs in terms of show-quality, the strength of its cast, etc. Since we entered the new millennium the show has at times settled into a steady rhythm of relatively toothless political humor (the Sarah Palin stuff had bite, at least), decent parodies, and basically being a training ground for its cast to hone their skills and then go on to successful careers (or fade away into obscurity if they fail to break-out, it's a tough gig).

However, ever since Donald Trump won the presidency (and let's ignore the debacle that was his hosting gig whilst running for President) the program has gotten a bit of its old edge from the early days back. Not a ton of edge, mind you, but enough. When the whole damn country seems to have gone mad and elected a certifiable moron just speaking the plain truth can seem ballsy. Alec Baldwin's impression of Trump, for better or worse, has sparked an immense amount of public discourse, gotten a lot of attention, and has been supported by some great work from the cast or other guest-actors. SNL can at times rely a little too much on stunt-casting a celebrity for a role as opposed to just letting that week's host have much of the fun however, and that issue was on full display Saturday.
Matt Damon's sputtering and angry portrayal of Kavanaugh was spot-on.
The hearings to determine if Brett Kavanaugh is qualified to be a Supreme Court justice or is simply a petty and lying man-child who also has assaulted a variety of women have been an absolute shit-show. SNL had some ripe territory to mine, and it did indeed with the season-opener. None other than Matt Damon appeared as the judge and did a wonderful over-the-top job. The thing is, besides that and maybe two other segments the rest of the show was mostly forgettable outside of anything with musical guest Kanye West (who was terrible, but buzz-worthy). The two other segments worth discussing would be Weekend Update, which when it first began its run with Colin Jost and Michael Che was an absolute train-wreck, but then weirdly seemed to find its rhythm and somehow works quite nicely now. Their jokes have a solid punch behind them sometimes, and I like it. The other segment that I enjoyed was when host Adam Driver played a very elderly man who was the father to a student and screamed and yelled about being an oil baron at a career day event--it was weird, but Driver made it work--and he was not really present a lot of the episode, which makes me sad for him. Then there was Kanye, dear God, Kanye.

I don't want to discuss Kanye, Ye, or whatever name he wants to be called these days, as I've already previously made clear my feelings about him based on recent actions. That said, he was a last-minute booking to replace Ariana Grande (cast-member Pete Davidson's new fiancee, which was the subject of some jokes too) when she couldn't do the show and the whole thing seemed messy and slapped together. Whether he barely was present for, "I Love It," with fellow rapper on the record, Lil' Pump, outside of dressing like a bottle of sparkling water, or kind of stood around for the second song with Teyana Taylor (whose top basically displayed all of her breasts for everyone to see, so that was interesting), and then had some assorted guests for the third bit he worked-in whilst he again did nothing, it was a mess. Then again, isn't everything with Kanye frankly a mess now?
Adam Driver in heavy makeup as a ruthless old oil baron at career day was just weird enough to work.
"Saturday Night Live," is back, and it manages to be timely, have some solid jokes, and cast some great surprise appearances. It also at times seems like it is way too soft about all the madness going on in America, overly relies on stunt-casting, and for every amazing sketch it has there are three completely forgettable ones--plus depending on if the musical guest is good, bad, or simply bat-shit insane that can drag a whole episode down or lift it up to incredible levels too. This episode was the equivalent of 3 out of 5 stars, just squeaking past being average thanks to a mixture of Matt Damon, a solid news piece, and Adam Driver at least getting to shine in one sketch in addition to everything else that was passably dull. SNL is a show that at times hits its balls out of the park, and other times seems stuck bunting to the easiest and weakest joke possible I hope we get more home-runs this season, lord knows they have a ton of stuff they can talk about.

Monday, October 1, 2018

A Review of Indie Comic "The Elemental Balance," #1

I often enjoy reading independent and small-press comics, so when the person in charge of one, Zain Shenwari of, "InZane Comics," reached out to me about his comic he wrote, "The Elemental Balance," I told him I was happy to give it a read. Having now checked-out the first issue I can say I enjoyed it a great deal thanks to a mixture of fun ideas and a quick-moving plot.

"The Elemental Balance," follows a woman named Chole who we learn later in the first issue is hiding a secret--she has water-based elemental powers. The opening of the comic lays-out a lot of the sci-fi potential for such a thing, and it sets-up the later reveal quite well. It is hinted that during a cruise Chole was on something happened that unlocked these abilities, but in the process a whole lot of folk died (which may very well be a catalyst). Chole ends-up having a dream of a terrible disaster in Kenya, then when the news reports it rushes there to find what turns out to be another person with powers, a man who now has the ability to reshape the Earth. The issue ends on a bit of a cliffhanger as Chole agrees to share just how she got her powers (which issue #2 will most likely further explain).
A lot happens at a good pace in the book, with it never feeling annoyingly decompressed like some comics these days. Chole is a likeable character and when it is revealed later in the book she has water powers they are fun to see drawn by the artist on the comic, Luke Horsman. Horsman's style looks a little cartoony and sketchy, which works well for when all kinds of powers are being used. I also like how the book is a written in way where the characters have powers, but its not a super-hero book, things are presented almost more in a sci-fi and horror fashion, with these people scared about what they can do as opposed to wanting to put on tights and fight criminals. It is a good read and I hope to check out the other issues in the near future sometime too.
4 out of 5 stars.

Note: A digital copy of the comic was provided by the publisher for the purposes of review.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

NYCC is This Week

New York Comic-Con kicks-off in earnest this Thursday, October 4th. It is on my list of shows I have not ever attended that I would love to some day (along with Planet Comic-Con in Kansas City, Toronto's Comic Arts Festival, and the Small Press Expo in Bethesda). I will be following all the news that occurs before, during, and after the convention, and those of us who are not at the show will obviously be able to purchase, "Shared exclusives," with the convention from various stores both online and at retail locations (so if you're after particular comics, Funko Pops, or other goodies, it'll be a busy weekend). I hope everyone attending the show has a spectacular time and everyone following-along at home hears one or two announcements that get them excited as well.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Gail Simon Wrote About Her Former Friendship With Ethan Van Sciver

I of course posted not too long ago how I was, "Done," with Ethan Van Sciver. I did not know him super-well, he was one of those comic-creators I would keep in occasional touch with but by no means were we friends.  However, it made me wonder, how do his current and former friends view him? Comicsbeat reported on how Gail Simone recently made a large Facebook post addressing a number of claims from EVS, where he insulted her repeatedly in one of this rambling videos for Comicsgate. She discusses how they were friends and something clearly happened that put him in a dark place. It seems while he was in that metaphorical place he changed, and now we have the Ethan Van Sciver of today, who just is hateful and terrible. It's an immensely sad post to read, chronicling how two formerly close friends drifted horribly apart. It is worth reading however, if only to see how classy Simone is in response to Sciver's spiteful bile.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Flashback Friday: Warren Ellis' Comic, "Dark Blue," and its Twisted Majesty

I am a huge fan of Warren Ellis, and have a soft-spot for the period of time he made comics for Avatar Press. They were comics that could vary immensely in quality, but always had some damn good ideas (and the best ones, like, "Doktor Sleepless," are among my favorite works of his). One story he did with artist Jacen Burrows was titled, "Dark Blue." It appeared in short installments within the now-gone Avatar Press anthology, "Threshold," which often featured an assortment of creative, violent, or outright pornographic short-strips (now Avatar Press uses imprint Boundless for all their racier works). "Dark Blue," was then collected in a trade paperback, which is how I first read it back in the early 2000's. It stuck with me all this time, so clearly it did something right.

"Dark Blue," follows police detective Frank Christchurch. He lives a city within a world that just doesn't feel right. Over time things have been getting worse, with the safety of the city falling into shambles, the police force having its morals or sense of right-and-wrong disintegrating, and Frank himself starting to feel like he has a looser and looser grip on reality. Meanwhile, a serial killer named Trent Wayman is racking-up a huge body-count and leaving behind scenes too gruesome to stomach, yet everyone seems content to leave him be. Something is wrong with the world...and that's because as is repeatedly hinted throughout the earlier parts and revealed in the final third of the book, the world isn't real.
Frank isn't a cop. He was a a CIA agent who suffered a mental breakdown on a traumatic assignment and to help him recover he was enrolled in an experimental program. The CIA knew of a drug that induced shared hallucinations among users, chemically altered it, and was able to create a, "Narcospace," where people put-under on the drug all live within the same imagined city. Hundreds of folk who for some reason need to be knocked-out and allowed to repair their minds (or doctors monitoring the city by using the drug too) are, "Living," in this space. Frank is told this when he wakes-up out of some months-long time in Nacrospace how he was simply a Trent Wayman. Yes, Trent Wayman was one of these people, but he was accidentally given too much of the drug before it was fully understood, he was administered LD50, the dosage at which 50% of the people given a drug die. He's still in there though, existing in the city as some sort of ghost that nobody can stop or even fully comprehend, making things worse through his madness everyday.

Frank demands to go back, on the LD50 dose that will allow him the same powers in the Narcrospace as Wayman, even if it means he'll die. Frank finally stops Wayman, and the fictional world he values is saved as he too appears to pass-away, but with no regrets. All this occurs in a relatively short story of about 72 pages, with Ellis clearly working a lot into a short span of time. We've got a brutal and dark police story about corruption, a psychological thriller of a man not sure if he's going crazy, and a wild sci-fi concept rooted in some fact (in the afterword to the story Ellis writes about the drug DMT which is known to elicit the same, "Trip," in many users). It's an odd mixture of genres, but because Ellis is a masterful writer he makes it all work. Plus, considering how talented Burrows is, you know the art is amazing and brutal at the same time. "Dark Blue," is for sure what one would call a, "Deep-cut," when it comes to Warren Ellis' many creations, but it is without a doubt a read worth seeking-out.

"Rex Royd," Flirts with Genius, but Marries Unrealized Potential

Back when I was wrapping up my senior year of college in 2010 and Mark Millar's work still had some promise and wasn't just empty pitches for movies and television shows, Millar created a comic-magazine titled, "CLiNT," which by the title alone with its cheeky usage of a lower-case letter, "i," so as to kinda-sorta look like the swear-word, "Cunt," tells you basically everything you ever need to know about Mark Millar's sense of humor. The magazine had an assortment of Millar's works as well as contributions from other creators, and one strip that caught my eye due to being just plain weird and interesting was, "Rex Royd." Written by controversial Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle (whose comedy work I'm unfamiliar with but from what I've read about him tends to be a mixture of political, raunchy, and offensive) and illustrated by then-newbie Mike Dowling, I found, "Rex Royd," strangely fascinating.

"Rex Royd," in a purposely-disjointed manner chronicled its titular super-villain as he fought against super-heroes, God, secret organizations, and basically was a bad-guy who inadvertently would sometimes do good, but still was quite a bastard. "CLiNT," collected it occasionally and the magazine ended-up cancelled due to dwindling readership and a failed re-launch before the strip could conclude. Thankfully though, the original publisher of, "CLiNT," Titan, has collected the previous chapters as well as two final ones illustrated by artist Budi Setiawan (whose style is a bit like Dowling but also enjoyable on its own). The full collection of, "Rex Royd," is quite the read, occasionally flirting with genius, but not quite reaching it. It is funny how in the introduction Boyle says he was inspired by Grant Morrison's amazing work, "The Filth," as this is probably the closet comic in comparison to that masterpiece when it comes to the odd way the story unfolds. Much as, "The Filth," has a wide array of ideas, tangents, and an otherworldly feel, "Rex Royd," does too. The thing is, "The Filth," eventually comes together with all its off-the-wall ideas and, "Rex Royd," is just far too messy to pull that off.
One genuinely sweet and sad moment I liked,
Royd dreams himself into another, happier dimension.
Boyle's idea with, "Rex Royd," is to make it seem like we are seeing bits and pieces of a sprawling epic, trying to make sense of the small excerpts we witness. It's a clever idea that works in its concept at first, but as more and more ideas are thrown-out and the book gets increasingly meta with Boyle himself appearing within the comic towards the end (more shades of Grant Morrison and what he did in, "Animal Man,"), it just gets confusing. You also really feel the style of Millar at times, with the book making some quite tasteless jokes--repeatedly--that it doesn't really need to do (clearly Boyle and Millar like to get tacky). Perhaps this comes from Boyle being a comedian known for his offensive humor, but repeated pointless jokes about HIV/AIDS  as well as, "spazzes/spastics (a relatively mild insult in America but a nasty slur for people with Cerebal Palsy among Europeans)," just kind of left a bad taste in my mouth at times.

The thing about it that makes some sense is that Rex Royd is in fact the bad guy, he would make these jokes. After all, he blows up a city with a nuclear bomb hoping to kill one person he believes is hiding there, he travels back in time and kills God because he wants to recruit the biblical Eve to work for him as an employee, and he enjoys murdering do-gooders--Royd is a terrible person who sometimes happens to do what's right, but he's still a monster. Boyle makes this clear, and it is the one thing that is clear, as the rest of the comic is a surreal mixture of concepts, jokes, and some really clever ideas that impressed me, but as I keep saying, fail to reach their full potential.
By the time Boyle appears as himself in the comic, things have gotten really confusing.
"The Filth," is one of my favorite stories ever--comic, prose, any form of literature. "Rex Royd," is by no means as amazing as, "The Filth," but clearly draws inspiration from it and achieves a lot of impressive moments even if the final product falls just short of genius. It still is a fascinating yarn to finally read in one complete form however, and even if Boyle shot for the moon and missed, he still landed amongst the stars, if I may use an old cliche saying. Putting aside when it is shocking-just-to-be-shocking or how at times it struggles under the sheer volume of ideas, it still is a damn fine read, and magnificently weird. It ain't perfect, but I'll still rate it a very complimentary...
4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

"Rick and Mortry Presents: Sleepy Gary #1," False Memories and Sexual Fluidity Make for a Fun Read

I am of course a big fan of the, "Rick and Morty," television show. I also have at times dabbled in comics published by Oni Press related to the characters. When I heard there would be quarterly-comics spotlighting particular secondary characters I was intrigued to hear about, "Sleepy Gary," for a number of reasons, one being he introduces an interesting element of sexual fluidity to Jerry on the show, and the other being he technically doesn't really exist. You see, we met and saw the end of Sleepy Gary in the season 2 episode, "Total Rickall," where a mind-altering parasite invades the house and has the ability to pose as various people then convince others through false memories it is a longtime friend, relative, or lover. In that episode the Smith household was able to defeat the parasite as it rapidly reproduced itself through more and more false memories, but not before some interesting concepts were introduced.

Viewers of the show know that Jerry is of course Beth's husband--usually (they separated at the start of season 3 but reconciled at its end). He is the Farther of their two children, Summer & Morty, and hates how Beth's father, Rick, lives with them and otherwise belittles him. However, in the episode, "Total Rickall," the alien parasite was able to make the house believe that, "Sleepy Gary," was Beth's husband and the father of the kids, with Jerry simply being a family friend. It also however made Jerry think that at one point he and Gary began a secret relationship. This is interesting, as the show has never really discussed Jerry being at all bisexual, and resulted in some fan discussions of if Jerry was in fact also attracted to men, "tricked," by the alien, or what the case was. Most folk seem to agree the alien parasite preys upon what people most desire, and Jerry desires someone, anyone, to pay him attention and give him affection, with that person's sex being secondary. In other words, Jerry is sexually fluid.

The parasite never, "tricks," anyone else into finding someone attractive they otherwise would not be sexually interested in, so it is therefore quite likely that Jerry is indeed bisexual, pansexual, or simply sexually fluid in general, willing to fall in love with any person who is willing to give him attention, regardless of what kind of genitals they may have. Jerry is just simply is open to love. It's both sweet and ultimately tragic because Jerry is of course a loser who very few people--male or female--would consider worth dating. Hence, in this comic when Rick is attempting to figure out better ways to combat the parasite, he creates a version of a past kind they encountered--Sleepy Gary--and upon its breaking-out it realizes one thing that was a constant for it, loving Jerry (whether truthfully, or simply to assist in propagating itself is left open to interpretation), and it proceeds to find Jerry and convince him of the same.

Much of, "Sleepy Gary #1," is then spent with Rick and Morty working to track down Sleepy Gary once he escapes and proceeds to abduct Jerry, flees to Mars, and creates an elaborate bunch of false memories for he and Jerry as a happy and loving couple of an adopted alien baby on Mars. It is all fake of course, with Jerry angrily exclaiming how he and Gary should be allowed to spend their years in peace before Rick points out its actually been all of, "27 hours," since Gary escaped and kidnapped Jerry to Mars with their paper-thin facade of a happy life. The saddest thing is that this version of the parasite/Gary truly seems like it is trying to create a happy life, no matter how much of sham, with the little bits of false memories that the parasite itself seems to believe--it truly thinks it loves Jerry and may very well not understand it is simply a reproduction of a malevolent parasite that previous used Jerry as an end to its means of taking over the Universe. Sleepy Gary is himself a fictional construct that its own parasite wants so desperately to be real it builds its own false life that is little more than a metaphorical house of cards barely two days-old. It is both as clever as it is sad and hilarious.
Eventually Rick manages to kills the parasite, Jerry realizes just how much was faked again as in the, "Total Rickall," television episode and is quite mad at the parasite for tricking him into thinking they had a special romance--because again, Jerry is a loser desperately seeking love and affirmation. It is a really great comic for how it handles these ideas of sexual fluidity, false memories, and of course is an absolute riot as all the better, "Rick and Morty," shows and comics manage to be. Magdalene Visaggio is a stellar writer (I've read some of her work with Black Mask and enjoyed it) and I appreciate the skill with which she juggled so many concepts and ideas. CJ Cannon makes everything, "Look," like, "Rick and Morty," superbly as well, so a fantastic issue all-around I eagerly rate...
5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

My Thoughts on Telltale Games Shutting Down

When the news broke some days ago that the popular video-game studio, "Telltale Games," was abruptly shutting down, I was saddened. They made some damn good story-games whether it was the breakout hit of the first, "The Walking Dead," their take on, "Fables," an original, "Batman," story, "Tales from the Borderlands," or a variety of other words good and bad. Then I read how basically it was incompetence of the executives that resulted in the company hemorrhaging money, that employees were routinely mistreated, and that everyone was getting zero severance and had less than a month's worth of their health insurance before it expired as well. Upon seeing that, I was enraged.

People often don't think about how behind the creation of video-games we have none other than just that--people. Human beings work sometimes terrible hours in jobs with very little benefits or guarantees to give us an amazing and enjoyable product to play. Despite efforts to unionize the game industry it has been a constant struggle for the folk behind video-games to get much in the way of rights. This most recent fiasco only goes to show how much, "Job creators," actually care about the employees they trample upon in their efforts to maximize profits. It's a huge mess and I truly wish the best for all the employees affected (outside of the aforementioned awful execs who should be ashamed and are in fact now being sued). Hopefully this can spur further discussion on the rights of workers in all work-fields as well as the production of video-games.

Monday, September 24, 2018

"The Agency," By Katie Skelly is as Fun as it is Frisky!

I am of course a big fan of Katie Skelly, having said she was one of my favorite writer-artists of 2017 thanks to her works such as, "My Pretty Vampire." She has a new book out from the Fantagraphics' line, "Fantagraphics Underground," titled, "The Agency," and I loved it! "The Agency," collects a number of web-comics she did for Slutist (a sex-positive and feminism-focused cultural website) and self-published over a few years, all about various women with agent-number designations.

Skelly's writing as well as her artwork are both just amazing, with a mixture of subtlety and clever wit expressed through the dialogue, plotting, and gorgeous illustrations. "The Agency," has a heavy focus on the agent-women and their adventures in space, at the lairs of mysterious villains, or simply having a peppy photo-shoot. A lot of the stories result in sexual content, but it is never portrayed in a nasty or dirty way, instead given a fun and frisky element, often loaded with humorous content (a space-skeleton giving a massage to Agent 8 that turns decidedly raunchy is both erotic and hilarious).  Also, throughout each story an overall plot starts to emerge about mysterious individuals, cults, and other intriguing mysteries the book slowly unveils.
Katie Skelly's books are always such a delight to read. Her artistic talent and masterful storytelling are truly a marvel to witness, and "The Agency," is another example of her genius put to paper. I would without a doubt recommend acquiring a copy of, "The Agency," via Fantagraphics' website, or via asking your local comic shop to order you a copy. This is for sure a stupendous addition to my bookshelf!
5 out of 5 stars.