Saturday, October 31, 2020

"The Shadow Over Innsmouth: Part One," Imparts an Impressive Horror-Vibe

The other day I was emailed by Simon Birks of Blue Fox Comics--a small indie comic publisher based out of the UK. He was one of the creators of, "The Shadow OVer Innsmouth," a comic that was being published in three parts with a collection of the issues due later on. They'll be running a Kickstarter campaign soon and were wondering if I'd be kind enough to review the first issue/part. I get random solicitations from time to time, but I wanted to review this first part of, "Innsmouth," as it quite impressed me!

The comic follows a gentleman named Robert Ormstead as he heads on his way from Newburyport to Arkham. He wants to go the cheapest way possible so he'll need to take a bus through a town often spoken of in hushed whispers, Innsmouth. The comic is heavily inspired by the mythos of HP Lovecraft and for this reason, comparisons are inevitable to another massively popular pseudo-adaptation that garnered lots of attention in recent years, Alan Moore and Jacen Burrow's series, "Providence." I am pleased to report that while both works riff on Lovecraft's immense mythos, these series are quite different from each other, only alike in how they (and Lovecraft himself) deal in an immense feeling of overwhelming dread.

As Ormstead learns more about Innsmouth and its possible terrors we readers feel increasingly ill-at-ease with things only getting worse once he hops on the bus and the horrors begin. The tone of writing and the artwork both express these feelings of fear and terror well, leaving me eager to see where the next issue/part will take the story. "The Shadow Over Innsmouth: Part One," is definitely worth a read.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Have a Fun and Safe Halloween/Turn Your Clocks Back

Even if this Halloween is going to be quite different (as I blogged about the other day) that doesn't mean it has to lack fun. Despite it being safer for this year to pass on parties and trick-or-treating either not happening or requiring many alterations, the overall vibe of Halloween is still with us and it is a lovely holiday. I always love Halloween, whether it's presented more as a scary event or a lighthearted humorous one. I hope you have a fun and safe Halloween yourselves and if you live in an area that observes Daylight Savings you'll need to turn your clocks back an hour tonight. Don't forget, as annoying as it is to have to do it!

Friday, October 30, 2020

"The Recount" #1 Advance Review

Reading the first issue of, "The Recount," from SCOUT Comics is like looking in a funhouse mirror of our country currently. You can see the bits of reality, but you can tell where things get warped just a little wrong too. The scary part is if you squint really hard it all looks so uncomfortably possible too. Writer Jonathan Hedrick brings us the tale of an America that is horrifically divided and partisan. It gets to a point where an apparently domestic terrorist group infiltrates numerous parts of society, kills the President with the assistance of a Secret Service sleeper agent, and now the Vice President has to try to keep the country in order while this terrorist group attempts to start an all-out Civil War. 

The fictional President doesn't resemble anyone currently in office and the new Madame President (once she ascends to the role) also is clearly fictional. Still, that funhouse mirror metaphor stands as if you squint hard enough a lot of this comic feels uncomfortably possible. After all,  we have domestic terrorists wanting to kidnap governors, we have people brawling in the street over their refusal to wear a facemask because the President says its a sign of weakness--everything is a mess. "The Recount," peers into the abyss of what our country currently is going through and asks what would happen if we pushed it just a tiny bit further. That makes it both a fascinating and terrifying read of a comic.

The art by Gabriel Ibarra Nunez is solid, imparting ample menace when we see shadowy figures in surreal costumes to disguise their identities delivering televised threats. It is a little minimalist, but the focus is always clear and it's scratchy and discomforting style fits the tone of the story perfectly. This clearly isn't an optimistic tale we're reading, after all.

The first issue of, "The Recount," is due to arrive at comic shops on November 11th--a week and one day after our upcoming election. Whether the election is even decided when it arrives and if our nation is relatively calm or pulling itself apart even more will remain to be seen. The unnerving topicality makes this a gripping read I'd recommend to anyone willing to peer into a slightly twisted (but still disturbingly recognizable) image of our nation, however.

5 out of 5 stars.

A digital copy of, "The Recount," was provided via a press newsletter from SCOUT.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

All the Cool Stuff Happens the Year Halloween Is Basically Cancelled

We aren't really doing much this Halloween as a Nation/World. Some people are trick-or-treating as safely as possible, but many are not due to COVID-19. This makes all the cool stuff happening this Halloween unfortunate. Three awesome things that normally would make this Halloween cooler are as follows:

1. It's a full Moon. Halloween having a full Moon hasn't happened since 1944 and one occurring on this holiday is just tonally appropriate. Ghost, goblins, witches, and a full Moon!

2. Halloween is on the weekend. You can go trick-or-treating and then sleep in because Halloween is on a Saturday. You don't have to wake up and go to the school or work the next day sore from running around or suffering from a candy hangover.

3. It's Daylights Savings, "Fall back." I hate DST in general as it throws everyone off. That said, this is the time when we get an extra hour of sleep in the Fall. Not only is it a weekend as my second point remarked, but you also get a whole extra hour of sleep! You can party all night...if it were safe to party.

Those are amazing benefits to it being Halloween this year...except we're in a pandemic. The irony would be hilarious if it weren't so tragic.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

"Great Naval Battles of the Twentieth Century," is a Fascinating Dive into History

Dead Reckoning is the graphic novel imprint of the non-profit U.S. Naval Institute. It has put out some cool comics about history, war, and the like. One of their latest books, "Great Naval Battles of the Twentieth Century," focuses on three key battles in naval history and presents them in the manner of historical fiction with various characters dealing with the very real events. The three famous battles covered are Tsushima, Jutland, and Midway. As I am more familiar with WWII history I most enjoyed the tale of Midway, but the Tsushima story is great too, showing how Russia's defeat by Japan hastened its turn to Communism as those disillusioned with the Tsar rebelled. 

Creators Jean-Yves Delitte and Giuseppe Baigurea build-up tensions for these famous battles with an assortment of characters planning and plotting, with some of the best-laid plans going sideways for those on the losing side of conflicts. The art is solid, with the clothing of the time and machines of war clearly well-researched and drawn with immense skill. If you're not a history buff this graphic novel may come off as a little dry, but if you're into reading about the past as I am you'll have a stellar time.

4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

I Was Blurbed By Northwest Press For Their TPB Collection of, "Dash," and I'm Honored!

I've been blurbed on the back of comics and books occasionally; it is always a treat to see my name when something like that happens. It means someone appreciated my review enough they want others to see it. Well, one comic I have often sung the praises of titled, "Dash," has been collected by its publisher, Northwest Press. You can see it for sale on their site and should one look at the quotes on the back, there I am among other folks who loved it! Observe:

Written by my friend and talented wordsmith Dave Ebersole with art by a number of great creators including Delia Gable, "Dash," follows a former hero cop in the year 1940 who got kicked off the force when he was outed as gay and now works as a private detective. A supernatural mystery comes his way and things get pretty zany (a mummy is involved, mummies are always cool). I can't recommend, "Dash," or as it is titled for the full collection, "Dash: The Case of the Mysterious Zita Makara," enough. Request your bookstore or comic shop order it and you'll be glad you did!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Oscar Issac Might Play Marc Spector/Moon Knight and That Works For Me

I like Oscar Issac. He's a solid actor who has been in some good flicks. If Marvel portrays Marc Spector and Moon Knight as having multiple personalities you'd need someone skilled to portray essentially four people--Marc Spector, Jake Lockley, Steven Grant, and the Moon Knight persona itself as it is more than simply Spector in a suit. I'd think Issac could tackle such a job quite well, so hearing he is in talks to play Moon Knight (and one would assume other personas associated with the character) sounds pretty good to me. I look forward to possibly seeing him on Disney+ and in Marvel flicks.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

October 2020 Links and News

A Lovely Month

October is a favorite month of mine, as readers of this blog know. Nice weather, pumpkin flavors, Halloween, it all goes together well. I have some assorted interesting news and links to share with you all as well this month.

News and Links To Go With Your Pumpkin Spice

I always love relaxing on the Carousel of Progress at Disney World. Polygon's Petrana Radulovic wrote about its optimistic retro-futurism having a certain charm they appreciate as well.

AARP of all people did a hard-hitting article about the sad last days of Stan Lee. As his health declined and the end neared there were some rumors about things being bad, but I don't think people suspected straight-up elder abuse.

Kieron Gillen did a lot of writing about video-games before he wrote a variety of stellar comics. He recently talked with one of his old stomping-grounds, RockPaperShotgun, about what comics and games can learn from each other.

There is an upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles spin-off comic set in the future called, "The Last Ronin." It has been delayed a number of times, the artist has changed, but it looks cool and there is a lot of hype for it. One annoying thing is that the publisher, IDW, decided on the print-run before FOC--meaning even if a store ordered a certain number of issues they may get less. This allocation has made the comic even more sought-after. It's a mess but sure to make anyone who actually gets a copy of, "The Last Ronin," grateful.

The PlayStation 5 will have a media remote that is much more streamlined than the one for the PS4. It still lacks a D-Pad, but otherwise looks pretty nice.

Let's close on one of my guilty pleasures. Week one and week two of the latest season of, "The Bachelorette," has passed, and clearly, Clare is gonna blow it up soon with somebody else coming in to clear the wreckage once she bails as a two-Bachelorette season (if rumors are to be believed). I know the show is trash, but I love it so.

Enjoy Fall

I hope as the temperatures continue to get cooler and the days shorter we all still enjoy Fall as safely as possible.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

"Runaways," is Back this Week!

One of my favorite ongoing comics is the current, "Runaways," series. Writer Rainbow Rowell has been amazing on the book since 2017 and I was worried that it was stealth-canceled. This is because an issue had not come out since the comic shutdown due to COVID-19 in March. Well, pleasant surprises are lacking in 2020, but we just got one--issue #32 is actually coming out this Wednesday, October 28th. Hopefully, this means other solicited issues will soon follow and we'll be seeing future ones in Previews before long. Considering how the book is more of a sleeper hit than a big seller I was worried it would be like other titles I love with a smaller readership and get canned (Marvel and DC can be pretty harsh that way). That isn't the case for now, though, so I'm overjoyed!

Friday, October 23, 2020

"Maids," By Katie Skelly Tells a Real-Life Horror Story With Gruesome Skill

Katie Skelly is a damn fine artist and a skilled storyteller. Whether she's giving us the tale of a vampire causing a ruckus or regaling us with yarns about a sexy spy agency, Skelly's comics are a delight. Her latest release, "Maids," is interesting in that it is a mixture of non-fiction (with embellishments) and horror. Skelly takes the very real case of the Papin sisters--two French maids who murdered a mother and daughter they worked for--and morphs it into a tale of class warfare and psychosis.

Throughout the Fantagraphics-published, "Maids," tension slowly builds, with it clear Christine and Lea have a deep well of rage bubbling up in them. Is it warranted for their horrific long hours and abusive conditions? Are they insane? Could it be a mixture of both madness and legitimate anger led to the gruesome results? Skelly doesn't outright point to one reason, but does make it clear a darkness was always present in the sisters; a darkness not helped by terrible employers.

Skelly's artwork always has a colorful and flowing appearance, which makes it all the more shocking when things turn violent and grotesque. Skelly doesn't shy away from how nasty the murders were but also doesn't bathe the book in blood--instead giving a hint of the gore to come at the opening and then saving the closing pages for the gruesome murders. We are outright told they are coming on the back of the book, leaving the final result never in doubt, but watching the slow way the violent climax sneaks-up is wonderfully tense and with Skelly's amazing artwork it is always great to look at.

"Maids," is another phenomenal work by Katie Skelly and serves as yet another example of how she is among the most talented folks currently making comics. Both beautiful and grotesque, "Maids," is a must-read for those into true-crime, horror, or simply great comics.

5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

We All Saw This Coming--Quibi is Dead

It had some good ideas, some neat shows, but it just couldn't make it work. Yes, I'm talking about Quibi. It is dead. Well, it is still kind of on right now, but it is a shambling corpse as of this moment. The pandemic takes a little bit of the blame, but in all honestly Quibi just was flawed. I hope the shows people liked find a home somewhere. Now we all get to argue if the reason Quibi died was a fluke due to its issues or a sign that the streaming market is getting overcrowded and we might see other services crash and burn soon too. Sorry you didn't make it, Quibi, you had a good six months. Well, not had six months.

The Last Debate of This God-Forsaken Election is Today

The first Presidential debate was such a mess I thought it might be the only one. When our poor excuse for our President became infected with COVID-19 the townhall debate morphed into a virtual one before being canceled for dueling town hall events. Despite all odds, however, the last debate is going to occur. Mics will be muted at certain points to stop Trump from constantly interrupting everyone, but it'll probably still be a shitshow. I hope Joe Biden manages to keep his cool and show why he's the better (and frankly, only logical) choice for President. As for if any flies appear to cause some hubbub, we will see.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Today is my Fifth Wedding Anniversary!

I met my wife on October 8th and we were married on October 21st (some years later, it wasn't all in the same year). Today is the fifth anniversary of our being wed. I continue to love Samii so much and our beautiful son, Clarkson. I am eternally grateful for both of them!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

"The Scumbag," Review

A dark comedy with a twist of espionage from writer Rick Remender and a different artist each issue in an interesting twist (Lewis LaRosa illustrates the first), "The Scumbag," is hilarious and a bit pitiful to read. Ernie Ray Clemintine is a man almost anyone who meets hates. He's rude, crude, on enough drugs its surprisingly he's alive, and is just a jerk. He also ends-up literally stumbling into the membership of a big spy organization and now one of the worst people on planet Earth has to save it, as we learn.

"The Scumbag," is darkly funny, with Clementine being such an abhorrent individual that in order for him to do any kind of good it has to greatly benefit him--and even then he might screw you over. LaRosa's artwork in great for this debut issue, making Clemintine look suitably worn-down and disgusting, as the text of the comic describes him to be. It takes until the end of the issue for the spy-shenanigans to really get going, but I'm thinking it'll be pretty fun to witness Clementine expected to play the hero when he really just wants to follow his own agenda. Pick the issue up this week (it comes out tomorrow) and give it a read, it's worth trying out!

4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Yet Even More Comic Distribution Shake-Ups Are Happening

DC Comics used Diamond for years to distribute their comics. Then during the pandemic shut-down, they helped create two new distributors for solely their books--UCS and Lunar. Once the pandemic ended DC shifted away from Diamond to solely using its distributors except in the UK where they used Diamond UK (Penguin took over TPB distribution). It's been messy, but things have at least somewhat stabilized. That is, till now. Suddenly today DC pulled the plug on having UCS distribute comics for them and just like that if you want DC comics sent to your comic shop you'll now be using Lunar. 

UCS distributes nothing but DC comics, yet in an email says it is not closing down and it'll soon be distributing other things, which is...odd. Also, now Lunar will require stores to buy $500 worth of DC comics a month to get anything shipped to them, which is...troubling. Really smaller comic stores that just do preorders for some customers and get a couple, "Shelf copies," of notable DC titles could very well not qualify to carry DC floppies, and due to this new rule find themselves unable to stock DC's monthly comics. UCS no longer will carry DC titles at the start of 2021 and then Lunar will have to essentially double its workload. 

This just is a huge mess and makes me wonder if DC will eventually come back to Diamond at some point to save itself all this trouble (and Diamond will be a big evil monopoly again, but things will be somewhat calmer). I have no idea what is going on right now with DC and its comic distribution, with everyone else seeming equally perplexed. I just hope this all shakes out okay.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

They're Discontinuing Tab Soda

Coca-Cola is discontinuing Tab and some other underperforming brands. I have had Tab soda at points and thought it was decent. Many maybe assumed it wasn't still being made, but it was...and now won't be. This is bit of a bummer and I'm sure anyone who loves Tab is upset as I was pretty bummed when Surge went away (and overjoyed when it returned years later). Grab some Tab while you're able as soon it'll be gone!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

"Analog Nightmares," is the Best Book about SOV Horror You'll Ever Read

SOV stands for, "Shot on video." It is a term used for when in the 1980s moviemakers started realizing they could make movies on tape instead of film to save money. It made stuff look cheaper, yes, but with much of television on tape, it wasn't too big a deal. This opened the doors to many wild and bizarre SOV movies, with the horror genre especially benefitting. Despite about two decades worth of history to be found in these marvelous low-budget wonders, there ain't much written about SOV horror. A recent-ish book by Bleeding Skull about weird 1980's horror flicks touched upon things, yes, but we needed someone dedicated to make a veritable encyclopedia of SOV horror. Well, Richard Mogg created a 400+ page tome of SOV horror from 1982-1995 and he named it, "Analog Nightmares." It is a sight to behold.

"Analog Nightmares," is a large book. Not just in page count, this thing is tall and wide. I am thankful for this, as it allows Mogg to cram a ton of stills from movies, images of posters, advertising, and astounding behind-the-scene snapshots. Mogg doesn't present everything in a sterile way you'd expect from an encyclopedia-styled book either, he reviews what he personally liked in the many movies, what he didn't like, if he was unable to watch a handful, and his love for cinema--and horror flicks especially--is quite clear. That Mogg himself has made some flicks is no surprise as this man seems to live and breathe movies. 

Between chapters that break-down every SOV horror film from a year that Mogg knows of he offers insight into the film and video rental industry at that time, interviews a wide range of directors, actors/actresses, and otherwise provides more detailed knowledge of SOV horror than you'll find anywhere else. Seriously, Mogg has probably casually forgotten more about SOV horror than 99% of us know. I also appreciate that Mogg comes at these at times hokey and low-budget features with a measure of appreciation and love, trying to find something to like in even the most miserable SOV production. While other books that touched upon SOV horror a bit-such as the aforementioned Bleeding Skull book--at times are a bit prone to mock how messy and wonky SOV horror could be, Mogg has an abiding appreciation for it all that is readily apparent in his writing.

"Analog Nightmares," was a delight to read and I recommend to anyone interesting in movies, horror, or exploring weird sub-categories such as the realm of SOV horror. As Mogg observes about our present time, now that we all have phones with cameras and can make movies with ease it isn't necessarily that era of DIY movie-making is gone, if anything it has only grown and become even wilder. That makes this look to the past in some ways an interesting glimpse at what the future of filmmaking is like today with more and more people setting out with little (or no) money and making their own backyard epics. The present is indeed a wild time, but reading about the past in Mogg's extensively detailed book was a pleasure.

5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, October 16, 2020

"Rorschach," #1 Review

A sequel series to, "Watchmen," is a dangerous thing to make. The television show pulled it off, but could a comic focusing-in on Rorschach work? The new Black Label series written by Tom King with art by Jorge Fornes in addition to colors by Dave Stewart is here and the answer is...maybe? This first issue has received glowing reviews, good reviews, okay reviews, and absolutely terrible reviews, so opinions are all over the map. One thing everyone agrees on is that Fornes and Stewart provide some amazing art and colors, that ain't up for debate. The art interestingly is not in the style of, "Watchmen," and its nine-panel grid, with it breaking free of that format giving everything a different kind of tone already. Even though the comic takes place in an alternate 2020 there is a strong 70's thriller movie vibe to it between the outfits, hairstyles, and again, general vibe. That's the art and colors, however. Why is the writing causing so much division?

"Rorschach," presents a mystery. A right-wing Presidential candidate has been targeted by an extremist leftist who wanted to kill him and that would-be assassin was dressed as Rorschach of all people. This is odd as Rorschach was known for being a quite right-wing objectivist who died years ago and became a symbol of sorts for those beliefs. This point leads to the first reason some reviews are mad--an extremist leftist? Really? You don't see those on the far-left usually trying to kill political candidates. You see right-wing domestic terrorists planning to kidnap governors or shooting-up peaceful protests, but I guess in the, "Watchmen,"-verse things are different. This, "Both sides have bad apples," kind of look has irritated a chunk of reviewers, however. Another reason some folk are upset at, "Rorschach," is because it exists in the first place against Alan Moore's wishes. Moore of course was supposed to get the rights to, "Watchmen," and all its characters, etc. back once the book was out of print. It became a huge hit and DC screwed him over, however. That alone makes some ready to come at the book with knives drawn.

A foiled assassination attempt leads to a mystery.

Putting aside some troubling political messaging and how the book existing is a slap in Alan Moore's face, I didn't hate it. The majority of the plot is spent introducing the mystery of the assassin and his female accomplice with any main characters (like a lead detective) being vaguely sketched-out with more character development to come later, I suppose. Again, this comic is gorgeous to look at, but as of right now there isn't much plot to speak of besides, "Who is this assassin, and how or why does he relate to the original Rorschach?" I didn't hate this comic, but it failed to do much for me either. This is itself a bit shocking as Tom King either usually is utterly amazing or absolutely terrible. I'm hopeful that with the basic groundwork laid for this mystery things will get in gear a bit more and if that does happen this could be a pretty snazzy read. As it is now though, it is a beautiful comic with a hopefully-not-pedestrian-for-too-much-longer story.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Terrific Production LLC. Wasn't Just a Dumb Company, it Was Apparently Quite Malicious

Remember some time ago there was that random comic-book publisher--Terrific Production LLC.--which had never actually published a comic and inexplicably bought the rights to Rob Liefeld's comic, "Youngblood," as you maybe recall? It was before COVID-19 so it probably feels like this all happened eons ago. Websites like Bleedingcool relentlessly made fun of Terrific Productions for lacking even a website and just having a Twitter account that between crimes against grammar managed to piss off everyone in the field of comic-books with bizarre offers to creators to come make a comic for them. The company seemed to be one man with some past experience in comics--Andrew Rev--acting like a total fool. It was more of a joke than a real company, we all said. Nobody could have taken it seriously or actually be done harm by this lark, right? Well, Beth Elderkin has quite the eye-opening piece for you.

Titled, "Comics, Contracts, and Covid: Inside the Scandal at Terrific Production," the article examines how Rev/Terrific actually managed to trick a number of those hoping to make comics into predatory and insulting contracts, lying to plenty of folks and getting a lot of work for basically none of the money he should have paid. Rev comes across less like a clown and more like a con man who knows you'll underestimate him and takes full advantage of it. This whole fiasco is disgusting and no one should support any comics from Terrific Production if they ever actually get something published. Since the article was published others have observed Terrific/Rev has not taken the criticism well. Whenever light hits cockroaches they do tend to get upset.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

"Paratopic," Would Nail the Horror Vibe if it Wasn't Often So Dull

"Paratopic," is a video-game you can play on your computer, or if you're me, Nintendo Switch. It is a short game, advertised as being maybe 45 minutes to an hour or so long. It doesn't cost too much and when it first came out on PC it got some glowing reviews as an eerie horror title with Playstation 1-style graphics that gave it a low-tech vibe complemented by an eerie lo-fi electronic soundtrack. There is an assortment of characters in the game who don't meet, and there are some mysteries about an old electric company, forbidden VHS tapes, and some creepy imagery to go with it all. "Paratopic," would be outright scary if it wasn't dull a good chunk of the time.

When you're the character smuggling VHS tapes across the border you have some off-kilter conversations with another resident of your apartment, gas station attendants, and you have long boring stretches of driving. When you're a lady hiking you can snap pictures of birds, stumble upon odd hidden areas that drip with atmosphere, and be annoyed wandering around unsure where you go next. The assassin you seem to play the least of and her story is one I would have liked more of. 

There are times, "Paratopic," has some elements of body horror that are really disturbing--the VHS tapes do something to people that is grotesque. Sadly, between moments of tense horror or gross-out effects, you have long stretches of drab driving or wandering around the wilderness unsure what direction is even the correct one to go. There are moments of terror in, "Paratopic," they just are few and far between for my tastes. It's worth checking out, but know you'll need to be patient for your hour-ish of playtime.

3 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

I Accidentally Manipulated the Comic-Book Market This Week

I am a fan of the works of Donny Cates. I just wrote how even if he seems to really be pushing that new Knull character, I figure he'll do a good job as so many of his works are great. I was a huge fan of some of his first comics, such as, "Buzzkill," and, "The Paybacks." I was sitting around the other day wondering if those characters would ever be written again so I tweeted at him, politely asking if we'll ever see more. He tweeted back to read his upcoming comic, "Crossover," and that made me happy to think some of his past works would be popping-up in his new big comic. I went to bed and that was that, or so I thought.

The next day I was flipping through the, "Key Collector," app for fun as I enjoy doing. I saw they had a post how Donny Cates had just hinted that past characters from his other works such as, "Buzzkill," might appear in, "Crossover." I immediately realized this post came about due to my tweet at him. I looked at sites like eBay and sure enough, "Buzzkill," and to a lesser degree, "The Paybacks," were suddenly hot books. I had inadvertently manipulated the comic-book market this week with an innocent little tweet at Donny Cates. 

There is no exact moral to this story, just me having a firsthand account of how a simple tweet can cause a lot of market-madness. I apologize to anyone who had to pay a bunch extra to get a copy of, "Buzzkill," and say, "You're welcome," to the folk who were able to make some extra scratch selling their spare copies. I honestly didn't mean to manipulate the comic-book market, but 2020 has been a weird year for sure.

The Sonic-Themed, "Fall Guys," Outfit is Terrifying

I enjoy playing, "Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout," and my son, Clarkson, loves watching thanks to the bright colors, fun sounds, and wild way the Fall Guys bump into each other. One big element of the game is unlockable and purchasable outfits. There is going to be a crossover with Sonic in that there'll be an outfit that...I want to say looks like him? It is actually scary, with the torso looking like a mouth just ain't good. The idea of the outfit isn't to scare us, but that is just what it does. 

The whole thing looks off-kilter and out of proportion. Perhaps this is because Fall Guys have some odd physiology that makes having them look just like Sonic kind of tricky. Maybe the designers of the outfit just didn't think things through. Whatever the case, this new outfit is nightmare-fuel and I'll be sticking to keeping my Fall Guy in his outfit of a pigeon head and gym shorts.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Marvel is Really Going Hard on All This Knull Stuff

Donny Cates introduced the character Knull in his current, "Venom," run. He is a God of symbiotes, evil, and has a somewhat interesting character design. He's...fine. Since then there has been a slow build-up to present him as some huge evil that is terrifying and threatens the World at a cosmic-level. I don't hate Knull, but I'm not sure he is interesting enough to keep dedicating more and more comics too as well as an upcoming mega-event titled, "King in Black." Almost every Marvel book seems like it will directly tie-in with, "King in Black," or have an extra one-shot issue that does relate to it while sparing the regular series a tie-in. 

It feels like not a day goes by without a new Knull-related book and today another one, "Planet of the Symbiotes," #1 was announced. It ties in past symbiotes and that, "Ravencroft," series that had Carnage's grandfather or such involved in it. Basically, if you have a Marvel comic it will somehow integrate Knull. I'm not upset or ecstatic. I will probably read the main, "King in Black," event comic because Donny Cates run on, "Venom," has been solid even with its at times heavy focus on Knull and it'll have Ryan Stegman on the art (who has been great illustrating, "Venom," as well). I will also read the, "King in Black," comics and one-shots that directly relate to series I'm already enjoying such as, "Immortal Hulk." 

I ain't gonna be trying to pick-up all these random tie-ins however because the days of me being a completionist for event comics are long gone. The only Marvel titles I'm picking up basically every issue of are the current X-Men titles because the reboot has been pretty rad, and even this big multi-issue, "X of Swords," thing is a bit much. I don't need that and a metric ton of Knull comics when I am so indifferent to the character. That's how I feel about all this, at least.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

"Saturday Night Live," Actually Got a Bit Edgy and Weirder Than Usual Last Night

"Saturday Night Live," returned last week with Chris Rock hosting and was perfectly fine, it usual decent-but-somewhat-toothless self. Last night, however, actually had some edge and at other points just got enjoyably weird. The show opened with what seemed to be a usual debate spoof with the always-welcome-back Maya Rudolph playing Kamala Harris and Beck Bennet portraying Mike Pence. It was fine, but took a weird swerve when Jim Carrey's Joe Biden tried to teleport to the debate and morphed into a fly that also talked like Jeff Goldblum (because, you know, he was the Fly before). Also, a reincarnated Herman Cain (played by Kenan Thompson) appeared as a fly and it was so bizarre that the internet mostly hated it but I admired the surreal direction SNL went.

From there we had host Bill Burr come out and true to his stand-up roots do a set that pushed boundaries. It started out a bit wobbly talking about, "Woke," culture with a, "I'm a white guy, what is this?" kind of vibe, but took a delicious swerve when Burr discussed White women essentially taking over Woke culture and ignoring how complicit they have been in much of the discrimination and persecution of minorities over the years--e.g. "White Feminism." Twitter erupted with many White women calling for Burr's head but also a number of my friends and other random folk saying, "Well, he isn't wrong." 

Burr's monologue/set closed a bit weakly with riffs on gay pride month being in a warm and fun month and Black history month being in a cold and short month, but the audible discomfort and nervous laughter in the audience was a refreshing change of pace for an SNL that often plays it safe. Everyone'ss response was mixed to Burr's monologue, but I thought it did what it set out to do.

It wasn't just the host bringing some pointed barbs, however. Weekend Update was refreshingly on point, with Michael Che outright expressing some minor disappointment that Trump is doing okay with his COVID-19 infection, comparing it to a horrific car accident where only the drunk driver lived. There was a sweet moment too with Kate McKinnon doing a bit as a smart doctor that was bombing before it took a swerve into her, "Breaking," character and discussing how with us not knowing so much about what the future holds she just wanted to be a character who did know something. This was of course a fully scripted moment and nobody actually, "Broke," as some websites are framing it, but it still worked wonderfully. Pete Davidson closed things out doing what he does best on SNL--playing himself just sharing comedic thoughts, and he pointed out the irony of how J.K. Rowling created a magical world where exotic mystical beings get along yet she has revealed herself to be a huge transphobe.

Besides the opening, Burr's monologue, and a solid Weekend Update the show didn't really have any stinkers of sketches. There was a fun segment about a couple going stir-crazy form COVID-19, a sports segment that goes off the rails as one commentator misreads the usual room's mood, and a mafia sketch that dragged a little bit with a mobster out of prison after 20 years struggling to adjust to new societal norms, but it still had its charms. Oh, and because some random newer country singer (named Morgan Wallen, methinks) partied some days before his SNL gig they canceled him for now and instead called-up Jack White who was more than happy to fill-in and absolutely rock the place. His mic was bit weak, making vocals hard to hear, but that man can play the guitar. I think SNL traded-up replacing Wallen with White, but that's just me.

All-in-all we had an episode of SNL yesterday that had some decent meat on the bone in terms of content. I love the show but will readily admit it sometimes can be a bit too eager to fall-back on predictable bits or reliable and easy segments like faux gameshows. The Bill Burr-hosted episode wasn't perfect, but Burr was willing to take some risks and the show did it with him too. I'll always take an edgy and weird SNL episode over a blandly entertaining one.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

"Carrion," is a Delightful Monster Game With You as the Monster

In many games, you play a protagonist going into a lab or such after a monster has escaped and wreaked havoc. Imagine a game where you were the monster, however. In, "Carrion," you get to be a ball of meat, teeth, and blood that flings itself around a secret base in the hopes of eventually escaping. There isn't too much plot besides some mysterious flashbacks, and that's okay. You're a monster, you eat people, and you do it with gusto--that's about all you need. I played, "Carriron," on my Nintendo Switch and I had lots of fun doing this eating.

As the unnamed creature in, "Carrion," you look a bit like John Carpenter's version of, "The Thing," and will need to use various abilities to at times sneak around and at other points brute-force your way through assorted threats and occasional environmental puzzles. I stink at complicated puzzles and nothing really stumped me, so that shows things are not too difficult, thankfully. Generally, you just need to get through an area using your abilities in clever ways. Sometimes you'll need to be invisible, other times you'll need to grow some sharp skin. The pixel-style graphics have a nice retro feel while still holding a modern sheen with some gorgeous effects such as how fluidly the monster (generally) moves or the gorgeous way fire from the humans' flamethrowers erupts. You almost want to stare at it, but doing so instead of seeking out some water to cool-off will result in you dying and going back to the last checkpoint.

Carrion isn't perfect. As your monster grows larger sometimes movement can feel a bit janky. A small monster moves with grace and ease, a big one kind of flops around and gets stuck in the game's tighter corners. Also, there are some points where you'll be back in the staging-area of sorts and not be exactly sure where you'll need to go--resulting in some trial and error. You'll realize you're back in the hub-area with some new skills and then kind of just muddle around until you realize where the next zone you need to stop by is. A map or optional objective-pointer would be appreciated.

Minor qualms aside, "Carrion," is great fun and a fantastic way to spend 5-8 hours depending on how quickly you breeze through it and if you look for extra hidden items/containment units. Between the great graphics and fun gameplay, I had a stellar time. 

5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, October 9, 2020

"Softies," Graphic Novel Review

Iron Circus Comics puts out an assortment of cool stuff from more adult works to all-ages books. Their latest release, "Softies," is a young adult graphic novel that is a bit like a younger-readers version of, "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy." Titled, "Softies," this book is written and illustrated by Kyle Smeallie and it is a hoot. "Sofites," follows the last human to survive an Earth that has suddenly exploded (the reason is purposely left unclear) named Kay as she ends up on a trash ship. 

There she meets a lizard-alien named Arizona and a fox-like alien who goes by the name Euclid. From there an assortment of vignettes occur as Kay, Arizona, and Euclid encounter all kinds of interesting aliens and situations. From a so-so comedy show to a diner being attacked by a mutated creature, a bunch of fun and humorous situations occur. There are some heartfelt situations too, as Kay comes to terms with the destruction of Earth, but I loved the more funny moments and Smeallie's artwork is fantastic at expressing how crazy and different these space creatures are.

"Softies," goes on sale October 20th and I'd encourage you to seek out a copy from your preferred comic-store/bookstore/online retailer at that time. I found it charming and if you have a younger reader around the ages of 10-12 who loves space this book will most likely be a perfect fit for them!

5 out of 5 stars.

Note: A digital copy of, "Softies," was provided for the purposes of review in one of the assorted press emails I often get.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

I Met My Wife 9 Years Ago Today

October 8th is a special day as it is when I met my now-wife, Samii. That occurred nine years ago today. We met at Crestwood Mall (which is now sadly a crater) after having spoken online for a few days and then went to a nearby Chili's for our date where I was extremely awkward. Thankfully, she was willing to go on some more dates with me and we proceeded to fall in love! I love her so much and am eternally grateful for having her in my life.

A Surprise Guest Crashed the VP Debate and it Was Amazing

The Vice Presidential debate last night was a relatively mellow affair. Compared to the mess of screaming that was the first Presidential debate, this was a pretty chill-but-tense event. That is, except for the full minute and a half-ish that a fly landed on Mike Pence's head and just...stayed there. Pence maybe didn't feel it, who knows, but it just sat there and sat there while he and Kamala Harris spoke. Fly's love things that are rotten, and nothing is more rotten than Trump's Presidency which Pence has happily been a part of, so the fly is a fitting metaphor. The whole thing was surreal and everyone has made plenty of jokes about it online, including Biden's own campaign. Who knew a little bug could have so much impact?

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

When, "The Bachelor," Leads to an Abusive Relationship and Stalking

I write extensively about my love-hate relationship with, 'The Bachelor," and, "The Bachelorette," extensively. The show is often a hot trash fire, but like a 20-piece box of spicy Chicken McNuggets, I can't stop indulging. One thing we often forget about these shows, however, is the lives of the folk on it continue after the program. Sometimes happily, with some marriages and kids coming out of these shows, but sometimes things take a darker turn. 

Colton Underwood's season of, "The Bachelor," was one of the more unpleasant ones. He was obsessed early on with Cassie Randolph despite her clear disinterest in him. He basically dropped any pretense of picking from a group of women and went right to relentlessly pursuing her in a way that came off as aggressive and toxic. She said no, and he didn't take no for an answer. She relented, they tried dating, it lasted less than a year, and it ended. That's it, right? 

Nope, she had to take out a restraining order, he would stalk her, he placed a tracking device on their car, it's been bad. As this article by Maria Sherman observes about all this, if you know what's happening now it frames those episodes of, "The Bachelor," quite differently. No longer is it a fairytale of a man convincing a poor confused lady she loves him, it is just a dude gaslighting a woman into thinking they should have a relationship and getting abusive once she realizes that no, she wants to stop being miserable.

There is no way the people behind, "The Bachelor," could have known things would get so twisted, so I'm not blaming them, directly. The show does try to create a fairy-tale sheen for everything, however, and sometimes things are more akin to the classic Brother's Grimm tales of messed-up people whose motives are kinda twisted. I truly hope Cassie can be left alone as she desires and Colton finds the help he clearly needs to stop his abusive behavior.  In the meantime, "The Bachelor/Bachelorette," will probably keep on keeping on with its themes and formula, for better or sometimes much worse.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

"Penultiman," #1 Review

I remember reading the little bit of an intro to, "Penultiman," in a comic from publisher Ahoy a number of months ago (pre-pandemic) that had samples of a number of series. The one that caught my eye the most was actually the Penultiman story. Picture a self-hating Superman and you're on the right track. The first (full) issue comes out tomorrow and follows how Penultiman is from far in the future where humanity has reached its ultimate form. However, his parent who created him has Penultiman at the stage right before ultimate evolution, he's the penultimate, hence the name. This has resulted in him being banished to our time where he's absolutely incredible to us, but still not good enough for his own home.

This sounds depressing, but it is all presented with a darkly comedic tone and you really feel for Penultiman while also thinking he should realize he's pretty great and should believe in himself. It's well written, with Tom Peyer balancing misery and humor quite well. Alan Robinson supplies the artwork and its absolutely gorgeous as well. The nice clean look is perfect for a Godly superbeing like Penultiman, but Robinson draws the character's sadness and self-doubt with expertise too. Plus, whenever fighting and explosions occur they are deliciously bombastic.

"Penultiman," is a fun story, has amazing art, and I loved reading it. From its first sample I was intrigued and this debut full issue delivered the goods. I would recommend getting a copy at your local comic shop or preferred (legal) online resource tomorrow. I can't wait for the next issue!

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Hot Comics Revue 11: All About Movies and Shows

 Flicks and Speculation

Comics can heat up for a variety of reasons, but lately, it seems when something has a rumor of being made into a movie or television show that is what triggers a lot of interest. The books I'll be discussing today all have confirmed or rumored adaptations occurring.

A Comic That is Warming Up

The newly-relaunched, "Shang-Chi," had its first issue come out recently. With a movie on the way and this comic apparently introducing his sister (she goes by, "Sister Hammer," right now) that has made this first issue start creeping above cover price, with variants that feature his sister attracting attention too. It's a mild heat right now, but as the movie nears and if we get Shang-Chi's sister in the flick this could get pretty hot later on.

A Red Hot Comic

"Black," was actually optioned once before some years ago by a company known as Studio 8, but that option has now been sold to Warner Brothers. This caught everyone's attention and took the comic from being found in dollar bins to the regular first issue trending for $30 and variants going for a lot more or a bit less depending on rarity. The comic is about a World where a very small percent of the population has superpowers, and anyone who does develop powers happens to be black (including being biracial, and so forth). This results in groups trying to keep it secret lest a race war kick-off, with one organization wanting to help people with powers and another wanting to exploit it. It was a good read and one of my favorite newer comics of 2016 when the earliest issues were released then. It is even more topical now in its discussion of race, politics, and such with everything going on in the World, so I hope it turns out well. My friend Bryan Edward Hill is actually writing the script, so that's a good sign!

A Comic With Steamy Potential

Indie publisher Aftershock is merging with a media distribution company and as a result a number of their titles now deserve another look. Some things have already been optioned, such as, "Undone by Blood," but one book that carries some steamy possibilities is, "Babyteeth." It's come out off-and-on and is written by Donny Cates, who since he started the series has become an extremely popular writer thanks to some big Marvel titles ("Venom," and, "Thor," for example). The concept is a young girl gives birth to the Antichrist and as a result, various people try to capture her and the child from those who mean harm to folk who want to bring about the end of the World. It was a bit of a dramatic comedy and quite dark. I could see it working as a movie or show and the controversy it would garner would make the comics hot.