Thursday, February 28, 2019

Happy Birthday, Clarkson!

He gave me a goodnight kiss yesterday!
Two years ago today my fantastic son was born. Clarkson came into this world at 8:14 AM weighing 4 pounds and 2.3 ounces. He was 10 weeks premature and spent 70 days in the NICU before coming home on May 9th. Clarkson is now a lot bigger and loves to run, jump, and climb. He likes to play with his toys, have books read to him, and is a big fan of listening to music. We try to limit his screen-time but when we do let him watch television he enjoys, "Moana," "Puppy Dog Pals," and interestingly enough, "The Price is Right," along with, "Wheel of Fortune," because we think he likes all the excited cheering people on the shows along with the lit-up games/wheel.

Clarkson is so wonderful and I'm honored to call him my son. It's wild to think he joined our family two years ago as a tiny little nugget and now is growing so fast. Samii and I love him immensely and feel joy everyday being able to call him our son. Happy birthday Clarkson, you are an awesome little guy!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Sonic the Hedgehog Lego Figures Would Be Awesome

Growing up I was a huge fan of Sonic the Hedgehog. I spent hours playing his first three games on my Sega Genesis, as well as, "Sonic and Knuckles," with its wild ability to pop some of the previous games into it and unlock whole new features. I also will defend the, "Sonic Adventure," games as being, "Pretty good," despite what haters may state. While Sonic has struggled at times to have games that are enjoyable as opposed to terrible, I still have a big affinity for the guy as well as Tails, Knuckles, and Dr. Robotnik/Eggman. Hearing the news that it is possible we could get Sonic the Hedgehog-themed Lego figures makes me very excited and hopeful that such a thing comes true.

Submitted to, "Lego Ideas," website which allows people to offer suggestions, requests, and so forth for Lego products, Sonic Legos is a concept I can eagerly get behind. I know I'll vote my support for it coming into existence. Check out the post for it here and feel free to note your support as well if you're as fond of the speedy blue fellow as I am.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

I Totally Forgot to Talk About The Hero Initiative the Other Day!

I put-up my post on Sunday about the fun I had at the most recent Micro Con. I realized today I totally forgot to talk about one entity there however that I is extremely important in what it does for others, The Hero Initiative!  A volunteer for the organization I am friends with, Brian Lan, was at the Micro Con with an assortment of items donated by others (including comics signed by creators) where the proceeds are donated to The Hero Initiative. I've made mention of the organization before, but for those unaware, it is a non-profit (the first one, in fact) which was founded to help comic-creators (writers, artist, etc.) in need. Assisting with everything from medical bills, to rent, and other quality-of-life aspects, The Hero Initiative does some great stuff.

Now, some may wonder why such an organization is even needed, and unfortunately while comic-creators today sometimes own the rights to popular properties or have deals in place to at least get royalties for their comic-book work, countless comic-makers who created comics decades ago did so with no promise of further income plus zero retirement or health benefits. It was work-for-hire that treated them thanklessly and now these people who made amazing work for the world over the decades face declining health and few resources. It is depressing that creators who made properties worth millions (or billions) or dollars can end-up struggling to even pay for their groceries or desperately needed medical care, and that is why it is admirable how hard The Hero Initiative works to help those who put forth blood, sweat, and tear to bring us such amazing comics. It is always great to see Brian at shows volunteering for The Hero Initiative and I encourage you to learn more about the organization and the good it does.

Monday, February 25, 2019

"Savage Avengers," Looks Cheerfully Insane

I saw artwork for an upcoming comic but didn't realize it was a book that was actually happening until my pal Tucker Stone at The Comics Journal mused on how bizarre it looked and the official solicitations came out. The comic is titled, "Savage Avengers," and it features the most violent heroes and anti-heroes around. Made-up of Venom, Elektra, the Punisher, Wolverine, Brother Voodoo ( because every Avengers team needs a random magic-user) and for some reason Conan the Barbarian--who Marvel got the rights back to a little while ago--this looks like a team of Avengers more likely to shoot, stab, and eat the brains of villains than any other Avengers team in history; that actually kind of sounds like a concept so crazy it could be fun.

It is as if Marvel wanted to think-up the most extreme and over-the-top team it could, then went that extra step further. Marvel went so heavy on fan-service it is almost gluttonous in its delicious absurdity. They're out here saying, "So we heard you like Venom and Wolverine a lot so we put them both on an Avengers team with the Punisher for optimal bloodshed, plus Elektra because she's probably our deadliest female character. Oh, and we took Conan the Barbarian and inserted him into the modern age with his big-ass sword. Why, you ask? Because fuck you, you want this, that's why!" Gerry Duggan is a writer who has done a good job furiously-straddling the line between funny-and-gruesome before on work such as his run with, "Deadpool," and Mike Deodato is a skilled artist who drew some impressively gross scenes of Venom literally biting-off people's appendages back in the days of the Warren Ellis-written run on, "Thunderbolts," so I imagine this book won't want for a colorist eager to use various shades of blood-red. Frankly, whether the comic is good or miserable I'm just excited to be able to read it so that upon finishing the book I can place it down and declare, "Man, those Avengers are savage!" Then I'll start to laugh loudly at my own joke, much to the confusion of everyone else at Starbucks. Good times.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Today's Micro Con by STL Comics Was Terrific!

Today I attended the latest Micro Con held by STL Comics (which I got home from a bit ago and wraps-up for the day in a couple hours) and had a stellar time as always. I ran into some of my usual favorite vendors including Spike Forster of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles, and my chum Drew Stuart of CoMo Comic Books who was kind enough to pose for a picture:
I also had the pleasure of seeing Justin Mosley of Wayne Kent Comics, and my old friend Jack Brown of Trade Up Comics:
I chatted with some guests too, such as the skilled Lorenzo Lizana, my talented friend David Gorden, and saw Kenneth Rocafort, who was kind enough to sign my trade paperback of, "Ultimates: Omniversal," which he was the illustrator for (of the collected issues). Oh, and I ran into the delightfully-wild James Doe of Cabal Books:
I was able to trade-for and purchase an assortment of books, but the most notable ones that got me especially excited would have to be a, "Marvel Spotlight," #29 which I bought from Drew of the aforementioned CoMo Comic Books--it will perfectly compliment the #28 I own (and which means I now have both parts of this two-issue story with Moon Knight). I also was able to acquire an old Spider-Man comic where Moon Knight guest-stars from another kind vendor:
Besides those books I was pleased to be able to trade a chunk of my stuff to get, "Special Marvel Edition," #15 AKA the first-ever appearance of Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung-Fu. The comic is in a lower-grade condition, but just being able to own it is fantastic:
Today at the Micro Con I was able to sell some books, trade a handful of things, and buy some fantastic comics. I just want to thank Eric Meyer of STL Comics for yet again having a stellar show. If any of my readers live near Columbia, Missouri, there will be a Micro Con there April 20th, and you know I'm already excited to see what is in store for the next Saint Louis Micro Con taking place on July 28th. It feels far away now, but I'm sure that date will be in here no time!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Xbox Games on the Nintendo Switch? How Interesting...

Microsoft has a digital game pass appropriately titled, "Game Pass,"where you can play an assortment of games upon your Xbox if you pay a monthly fee (not to be confused with Xbox Live which in its base-level lets you play games online but doesn't automatically provide this service). Apparently Microsoft is going to put some games onto the Nintendo Switch eShop for people to buy and has plans to let people with the Game Pass play the for free on their Switch--a nice perk to multiple-console-owners. This is quite interesting and further goes to show how Microsoft has been embracing cross-platform play as well as the idea of the Xbox less as a console as opposed to a service.

Microsoft already has worked to make Xbox games playable on a PC with the right tweaks, and has made gestures towards Nintendo before to build a chummy relationship. Remember how much of a drubbing Sony was getting about cross-platform problems regarding, "Fortnite," awhile ago before it relented, while meanwhile Microsoft was happy to let folk play the game on an Xbox, PC, smartphone, or a-okay if you wanted to use a Nintendo Switch? That along with the whole, "Better Together," campaign that allowed Xbox One and Nintendo Switch owners to party-up in, "Minecraft," together illustrated Micosoft was more interested in building bridges towards other platforms than trying to be its own island in the same manner as Sony.
The cross-platform update in, "Minecraft," was an early hint of what the future might hold.
It is kind of funny to think how Microsoft is slowly advancing towards this, "Games a service," concept on consoles, as when the Xbox One was first announced with plans to make games more of a digital product there was a whole lot of outcry and mocking from others. Now Microsoft is slowly moving in a direction where playing Xbox games will be more like booting-up Netflix on the device of your choice, even if there are apparently plans for at least one more Xbox-type console in the future (according to that earlier-linked article by Polygon). Still, it may not be too long before you can play, "Halo," on your Nintendo Switch, and one wonders if maybe even Nintendo will relent a bit on how rarely it shares its properties with other formats (a handful of iPhone games aside) and put a game here-or-there on Xbox; it is less likely, sure, but with this kind of stuff happening maybe not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

We could be at the dawn of some wild cross-platform partnerships for certain companies, but most likely my beloved PS4 (or PS5 whenever that gets made) will be a bit of a an aforementioned closed-off island, refusing to play with others until enough fan outcry forces at least some cross-platform concessions--and this is a big fan of Sony and its products saying this (I love em'), just image what haters might think! I'm not exactly sure what the future holds for cross-platform possibilities, but the fact that there even are possibilities is in itself a big deal.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Flashback Friday: Whatever Happened to the Ying Yang Twins?

You know what irritates me these days? People talk about Migos as if they are the first rap-group that does mediocre rhymes along with some decent music and weird vocal sound effects. This annoys me as everyone is clearly forgetting the Ying Yang Twins. Immensely popular throughout the early 2000's Kaine and D-Roc were perhaps lacking in lyrical depth, but made songs that were interesting in terms of the sonic-trickery and loved to do wild sounds with their voices.

The Ying Yang Twins would have jams that started with one particular melody before at times switching the BPM up all kinds of crazy-like ("Whistle While You Twerk," and, "Say Ay Yi Yi," are wild). They also had a song where the gimmick was they whispered the whole time, titled appropriately enough, "The Whisper Song." A weirdly minimalist piece with all kinds of strange echo effects from their voices and the quiet beat, it is phenomenal to listen to even if the lyrics are really lacking--the entire song is little more beyond them stating, "Wait'll you see my dick," and how the woman will greatly enjoy intercourse as they metaphorically beat her genitalia up with their superior sex-skills.

The Ying Yang Twins were massively popular then around the 2010 or so just...stopped. No studio albums of brand-new material since 2009, but a mixtape here-and-there. That was about it. Other than popping-up in the news if something bad occurred, little discussion happened about Kaine and D-Roc. Whatever happened to the Ying-Yang Twins? I looked into it, and they seem to be doing okay.

Kaine and D-Roc have apparently been working on a new album and in later 2018 said to possibly expect something in the near future. They and other artists are actively touring with B2K which is in the midst of its 2019 reunion tour. I have no idea if they actually will be putting-out new music anytime soon, or if concert-goers at shows featuring them will simply be treated to retreads of their hits, but it is good to know they are alive and apparently healthy.

My Only Comment on Jussie Smollett and His Apparently Manufactured Attack

Jussie Smollett
I write a lot about popular culture as well as race, sexuality, and the intersection of all these concepts. Therefore, I feel I should comment on everything that has been going on with Jussie Smollett and how it turns out he may have faked being the victim of a hate crime in the hopes it would boost his fame and income lest I be accused of some kind of bias or trying to ignore it. My one and only comment on this is as such:

I would find it really encouraging if all the people dedicated to making sure justice is served in this case were just as passionate about the countless LGBTQ people of color who are in fact attacked and often ignored, disbelieved, or victim-blamed. It is really telling that in a singular case where someone actually did fake their attack it has become a huge story and yet nobody cares how often individuals are attacked and sometimes murdered. As a friend of mine from college named Steven Canals put it succinctly on his Twitter, "I reject the rhetoric that Jussie has now made it harder for us to believe victims... cause let’s be honest. If they were Black/Brown, Women, or LGBTQ+, ya’ll weren’t believing them in the first place!" Oh, and Steven is the co-creator of the stellar show on FX, "Pose," which I'd recommend everyone watch, but that's off-subject.
Smollett may have lied,
but countless others have not.
My point is that I'm disturbed how much of a big deal people are making out of Smollett faking an attack, as they are essentially silently-but-obviously trying to say in a not-so-subtle manner that they think a lot of the harassment, attacks, and violence towards LGBTQ individuals, women, people of color, etc. is some kind of conspiracy to..take the white man down, or something? We need to believe survivors, and we need to believe victims. A water-droplet of a lie in an ocean of truth doesn't change anything, if my metaphor makes any sense. Smollett may have manufactured his attack, but 99.9% of the cases we hear about (or which go unreported out of fear) are true, no matter how much some people want to deny it or use this case as an excuse to write-off real survivors and victims.

That's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Rant-Reviews: Checking in with the Mainstream Publishers

It Has Been a Bit
Hey, I haven't done some rant-reviews for a bit, and I ought to discuss some of those more mainstream titles out there, right? Let's do this.

Reading and Writing (My Thoughts)
Captain America #7
Ta-Nehisi Coates has been giving us a bit of a slow-burn comic with some solid artwork by Leinil Yu but things are starting to finally get a bit more to a boiling point, if I may mix my metaphors. Steve Rogers has been accused of murdering General, "Thunderbolt" Ross because he realizes some nefarious force is looking to slander the name of Captain America--in the end it is about the shield and what it stands for no matter what America is going through. Coates is building-up a fascinating political conspiracy full of twists and turns, even if the pace is a bit slow.
4 out of 5 stars.

Oliver #1
Apparently there have been a number of new takes on the classic Dicken's tale, "Oliver Twist," but this one is just downright weird and only vaguely reminiscent of that classic story. That is probably also why I quite liked it. Image has been putting out a ton of #1 issues lately, probably because enough end-up becoming big hits that a smattering of failures is acceptable. I hope that this book gets a lot of good buzz however, because we have a splendidly odd comic here. It is the future, a bunch of mutant-soldiers live isolated from society, but a young boy named Oliver they adopted once his mother came to the nuclear wasteland and gave birth to him before she died (and he strangely survived) goes around causing mischief. Clearly Oliver is special and will be journeying to parts of the world not destroyed yet, and I am curious to see how the old book will be riffed upon and also quite clearly differ. Another solid debut from Image.
4 out of 5 stars.

Deathstroke #40
Christopher Priest's masterful magnum-opus run on, "Deathstroke," hits issue #40 here, featuring his usual mixture of pathos, purposely-disjointed pacing and time-jumps, and a solid dose of humor. Slade Wilson AKA Deathstroke breaks out of Arkham Asylum finally in this issue but learns some of the hallucinations he suffered from Hugo Strange (who took over the Asylum and let the inmates make a mess within it) may have been all too real (killing his therapist) and others quite fake (thinking he killed Two-Face). Oh, and he fights some space aliens because why not? Just an amazing series, and one I hope isn't impacted by DC's recent announcement of cost-cutting measures which will include reducing their comic-line.
5 out of 5 stars.

Immortal Hulk #13
Speaking of amazing series, albeit one a lot earlier in its run than, "Deathstroke," but no less impressive, here is, "Immortal Hulk." Al Ewing has been making amazing comics for some time now but seemed to not get much recognition. Well, his horror-themed Hulk comic which has now literally taken the character to a form of Hell is getting a whole lot of love thanks to his phenomenal scripting and (usual) artist Joe Bennet's disgusting-yet-incredible illustrations. In this issue the Hulk finally breaks out of the strange Hell but still has a whole lot of questions about the nature of just who/what he is to address. This is arguably the best Marvel comic on stands latley, and the best Hulk comic possibly ever--although Peter David's run a good deal of years ago was extremely solid, and I liked Planet Hulk a good deal too. Still, this is just off-the-charts incredible stuff.
5 out of 5 stars.

Savage Dragon #242
Just thought I'd dip my toe into the long-running and surreal weirdness that is Erik Larsen's comic, "The Savage Dragon." This issue just came out yesterday and it still is a bizarre mixture of heroics, sexy-stuff, politics, and general strangeness, Larsen is doing what he likes all these issues later. That it is delightfully entertaining decades into the series is admirable.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Green Lantern #4
I previously had a big review of the first issue of this Grant Morrison-written and Liam Sharp-illustrated comic. We are now four issues in and the weirdness expressed via the story and artwork has continued without relenting in the slightest. One of my favorite comics ever was written by Morrison and was a very off-the-wall science-fiction mini-series known as, "The Filth," so I clearly like when Morrison ventures into sci-fi stories. That perhaps is why I'm so far really digging his, "Green Lantern," run with its weird mixture of wacky aliens, space-law, and a dash of super-heroics from Hal Jordan and his fellow Lanterns. Morrison and Sharp fill these pages with a lot--a whole bunch of story and mind-bending artwork--but it hasn't been overwhelming yet so much as enthralling in its strangeness. I'm not sure where exactly this book is heading with its countless strange creatures and plots, but I'm eager to see where it eventually ends-up.
4 out of 5 stars.

Check-In Complete
Well, that was a productive post discussing what is going on with some assorted bigger-name publishers. Clearly even if I often am discussing the difficulties and complexities going on Marvel and DC (Image usually ain't having much drama) they still can publish some stellar work when not dealing with big fiascoes or controversies.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The, "Magnus the Brave," Kickstarter Looks Awesome and Still Has Some Time Left to Pledge!

I heard about, "Magnus the Brave," from my chum, Tony, who runs Comics Heating Up. Created by a fellow fan of CHU, Chris Rau, Tony mentioned it to me and readers of his website how it was a cool-looking comic with a Kickstarter that was going on to raise funds. I was intrigued when I heard how Rau does the story, artwork, and coloring, with some story co-writing by Ace Nuckolls, as having a creator who does most of the aspects of a comic is always cool to me in this era where sometimes comic-creation can be a bit fragmented between a big creative team. I had the opportunity to read an advance digital copy of the comic in my capacity as a journalist (that's what I call myself, at least) and was quite impressed. I can see why, "Magnus the Brave," met its funding goal so quickly and has continued to raise money from interested backers!

"Magnus the Brave," is described by Rau as mixing the identity of Conan the Barbarian with Samurai Jack to create a warrior who can fight in a bloodthirsty and viscous manner, but also values peace and introspection. Rau's art style is inspired by a cool mash-up of anime-styled over-the-top action and bloody violence. Imagine if the warriors of old who fought with swords and arrows could also occasionally bust-out a super-powered move full of bright explosive colors and you get the idea of what Rau is doing. The comic follows Magnus as he protects his village from all sorts of strange villains...villains who don't last long. The meshing of the ideas and the weird characters Magnus fights creates something that is original yet also readily appeals to fan of these different style of entertainment. I greatly enjoyed what I read of, "Magnus the Brave," and would encourage you to visit its Kickstarter page while there is still time to pledge (a bit under two days now) and to back it should the comic strike your fancy.

I Was Wrong About a Movie's Box-Office Potential Yet Again

At the end of 2018 I described how my biggest mistake of the year was predicting that the movie, "Venom," would be a box-office bomb as opposed to making a whole lot of money. I just had a post last week where I stated James Cameron was trying to get publicity for the, "Alita: Battle Angel," film he had executive-produced because I and everyone else was convinced it was going to bomb, hard. Well, I was wrong yet again and maybe should quit predicting box-office intakes as besides thinking that, "Aquaman," would be a big hit I've been wrong, often.

"Alita: Battle Angel," is by no means a huge, wild hit. It did place 1st in the domestic box-office this extended President's Day weekend, however, making about $43 million within America if you look at the stats for Thursday showings through Monday. The thing still cost nearly $170 million to make and has had a huge advertising budget, but between a solid first weekend in the US and decent International box-office sales it might very well end-up turning a tidy profit if it does well in China and Japan (it has not been released there yet) and getting a hinted-at sequel made--something I would have thought had the chance of happening of a snowball in Hell last week.

"Alita: Battle Angel," has proven it is not a huge bomb, but it also is struggling to some degree that others would say it is somewhat tanking. Still, I thought it would crater so I have to admit I was wrong to some degree. If in the end it has a quick drop in ticket-sales and inexplicably falters in Japan and China it could very well qualify as a box-office disaster, but the fact it even placed first in America over our combination Valentine's Day-to-President's Day weekend (albeit a modest first-place) is enough proof that as good as I sometimes am at predicting what comic-books will be hits or failures, my track-record with movies starting to look like it ain't that good. At least I can be pleased for the Director, Robert Rodriguez, whom I've always heard/read is a nice guy that simply loves making movies, big-budget like this one or smaller-scale stuff too. I'm happy for him, even if I am disappointed in myself.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Prudence Photography Is Fantastic!

Last year my wife, Clarkson, and I had professional pictures done and loved them, but the person who did those moved away. Thankfully, we got in contact with another professional photographer we knew. We were able to purchase the services of them in order to take photos commemorating how our son, Clarkson, is about to turn two years old! We had the pictures done over the weekend and they are just perfect.

Christy Prudence of Prudence Photography was phenomenal between her skillful shots, photo-editing, and overall patience as we wrangled our son to get some good photos. Between how nice she was, the great pricing, fast turnaround time to get our images, and the gorgeous pictures we are very pleased.
I always love sharing photos of my awesome son and wonderful wife, and the fantastic pictures Prudence Photography took are just amazing. I would encourage you to visit the website I linked to above but will provide another helpful link to here, or you can give Christy a holler via Facebook if you live anywhere near the Saint Louis region and want to have professional photography done of you, your family, etc. I know I'd encourage you to use her services--my wife and I are very happy customers!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Should I Try-Out This DC Universe Thing?

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

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

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Another Great Micro Con is in a Week!

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

Friday, February 15, 2019

Trump and the Emergency of His Own Making

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

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

Thursday, February 14, 2019

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Oh Hush, James Cameron

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

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

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

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

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

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

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

Monday, February 11, 2019

Marvel Cartoons for Mature Audiences? Yes Please!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Tales from the Dollar Bin: Toxic Crusaders #2

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 7, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

New and Links for Early February 2019/My Valentine's Day Present to You

The Day of Romance Approaches
We are still in the earlier part of February, but Valentine's Day is getting closer and closer (so if you have a lover or friend you want to show you care, get working on that). I have some assorted bits of news and links for you to enjoy. Consider them my early Valentine's Day present for you, because you are wonderful.

News, Links, and All That Good Stuff
The film, "The Matrix," turns 20 this year and it has had a lasting impact on our culture and concepts of truth--for better and worse.

I was fascinated by this piece discussing how, "Nextwave," from Warren Ellis has both aged spectacularly well and not at all well depending on certain elements. I don't know if I agree Ellis has disappeared from public discussion however--I just think instead of his comic-work being as focused on more talk is about his work on stuff like, "Castlevania," now.

The treatment of 21 Savage—or anyone—by I.C.E. continues to be alarming in how dehumanizing and cruel it is, and no amount of cutesy memes will change that.

Marvel is going to attempt get some of that sweet, sweet, “Venom,” movie-money in their comics with a comic focused on symbiotes and Spider-Men this Free Comic-Book Day which will of course lead-in to a massive and overstuffed event, I'm sure.

I like Edie Falco, so to see her talent wasted on the upcoming, “Avatar,” sequels in the same manner Sigourney Weaver didn’t deserve to have to muddle through the first makes me happy the flick will have some talent and sad she’s stuck committing to at least two of these.

As recently as this Monday I was bemoaning how the new game, "Apex Legends," seemed to signify the death of a true, “Titanfall,” game. Then I read this today and perhaps maybe, "Titanfall," as we know and love it isn’t in fact dead?

If you want Burt and Ernie (of, "Sesame Street," fame) to be gay they are, if you don’t want them to be gay, then they are hetero, seems to be the official statement. I personally have always thought of them as heterosexual--not out of any spite for the LGBTQ community of which I am a proud ally, but because so rarely in the media are platonic friends (gay or straight) shown as cohabiting without a romantic element. Plus, considering how relentlessly unpleasant Bert is I doubt Ernie would want to put up with that in any kind of romantic relationship. Oh, and this is all ignoring the fact that as fictional puppets they don't necessarily have any kind of sexuality, or genitals.

Is anyone surprised Disney is planning to put all the content they have the rights to on Disney+ AKA their own upcoming streaming service? I mean, we all saw that coming.

“Heroes in Crisis,” has been so bad it makes me sad it has plot-elements invading other titles like, “The Flash,” or another comic written by Tom King that is not good but at least passable, his aggressively mediocre run so far on, “Batman.“

I keep hearing good things about this, “Astroneer,” game and I always enjoy titles that focus more on the excitement of exploration and creation as opposed to bland, “Kill everything!” games.

The subject of discussion lately (including on this blog) has been questioning when (not if, when) the Direct Market will contribute to being a major reason the comic industry as we know it ends/runs out of money/tanks in a spectacular fashion, Comicsbeat had an editorial on just how grim things are looking.

Now to close on something that gave me a good chuckle. This article debunks the rumor that (most likely former) Superman actor Henry Cavill was demanding anything related to a possible, “Man of Steel 2,” script, which is silly and obviously false as I doubt anyone even is working on such a script. I mean, is there anyone chomping at the bit for more of that as opposed to Wonder Woman or Aquaman (I never thought I'd see the day people are clamoring for more Aquaman and tired of Superman)?