Thursday, April 15, 2021

"The Tankies," Review

Garth Ennis is a comic creator who loves to write war comics. He excels at them and while some of his superhero work is where a lot of his fame has come from, I think if he were allowed he'd do nothing but write war comics. Carlos Ezquerra was a fantastic artist who collaborated with Ennis for a war comic known as, "The Tankies," which followed an assortment of characters who piloted tanks in WWII as well as the Korean War, with the link between the stories being Corporal Stiles, then Seagrant Stiles, as he tried his darndest to get his tank crews alive out of some seriously nasty battles. "The Tankies," has been collected in one big and impressive trade paperback by publisher Dead Reckoning and I was fortunate enough to acquire a copy for the purpose of review.

What else is there to say about a Garth Ennis war comic besides that with his immense knowledge of past wars and ability to write compelling characters that Ennis does a fantastic job making us care about all the Allied characters we meet--especially the link between all the story arcs, Stiles.  Ezquerra was a skilled illustrator too, with his drawing of the other main characters besides the humans--the tanks, being impressive in their detail and how imposing the metal machines of death look. "The Tankies," is a phenomenal read for fans of Ennis, war comics, or those who simply want an intense tale of battle that is blunt and honest about the brutality of war. Get yourself a copy at Dead Reckoning's website or all finer bookstores!

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Colton Underwood from, "The Bachelor," Has Come Out as Gay

I have been extremely critical of Colton Underwood in the past and didn't like his term as, "The Bachelor," very much. I also expressed concern when it came to light that after he and the woman he chose on, "The Bachelor," Cassie Randolph, broke up, he began stalking her to the point she took out a restraining order against him (it was later dropped). All of that said, I only want to offer my support towards him for having the strength and courage to come out as gay. He gave an interview to, "Good Morning America," where he said he wanted to speak his truth, and he did so. 

He attributed a lot of his past behavior to trying to deny who he was and, "Hating," himself. He admitted to dealing with dark thoughts and even contemplating suicide. Now, sharing he's gay doesn't excuse bad behavior towards others such as Cassie, but it does put a lot in context. To his credit, Colton said on GMA he wanted to specifically apologize to her for, "Any pain and emotional stress," she had during their time together and after breaking up. I am happy that Colton is willing to live as his true self and congratulate him on being open and honest about it. Plus, straight or gay he will always reliably be a media whore as in the very same day he came out (today) it was announced he'll be doing a reality show for Netflix about being out of the closet. No matter who we love sexually, it seems we all love the dollar equally.

Stealing is Almost Always Wrong, but When it's a Confederate Monument You Threaten to Turn Into a Toilet that's Just Funny

Excuse my extremely long post title, but I wanted to get my point across. My point being, it was pretty funny some pranksters stole a Confederate monument from the racist organization, The United Daughters of the Confederacy, and because it was a stone chair owned by Jefferson Davis they had the clever idea to threaten to make a hole in it and use it as a toilet. For those of you still unsure what I'm getting at, they were going to poop through it. This is tacky, childish, and just freaking hilarious. The organization in question was, "White Lies Matter," and they said they'd do this if the UDC didn't display a banner outside their headquarters with a quote by Assata Shakur. That quote? "“The rulers of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives."

The Confederacy lost the Civil War, but the way some people carry on about that centuries-ago saga in American history you'd think Jefferson Davis' traitorous, "Nation," was still alive and well. I don't think we should outright hide or get rid of Confederate monuments, but we shouldn't celebrate them either. Put them in museums, give them context, and then maybe you won't have to deal with people threatening to turn them into a toilet. This chair didn't suffer that fate as the police tracked down the chair after being given coordinates and finding it unharmed--some of the prank-loving thieves were found too. The chair has been returned unharmed to the UDC. I'm not sure what the lesson is here beyond how we shouldn't honor the traitorous Confederacy, but that was a lesson everyone should've known before a chair was stolen and threatened with being used for a dump session.

Monday, April 12, 2021

The Promise and Problem of, "Tomorrowland," at Disney's Parks

Disneyland and Disney World's Magic Kingdom both feature a Tomorrowland. It is both a neat theme for a park and one filled with issues. All the other lands are mystical and magical places that don't really exist while Tomorrowland is ostensibly our reality, just in the future. As someone who likes science-fiction and thinking about the future, I've always really liked Tomorrowland. It features Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe, my favorite park restaurant. It has, "Space Mountain," the whole area contains a neat design, it's just fun! As this fascinating article by SFGate's Katie Dowd points out, tomorrow always comes and can make a place dedicated to the future actually start to seem dated.

Tomorrowland promises us a glimpse into the future, but every decade our idea of what the future looks like changes. We used to imagine a World like, "The Jetsons," with flying cars, meals in pill form, and so forth. Now it's more about how we are always connected to the internet and constantly streaming and watching one another in a World with no privacy. The, "Future," keeps changing and makes the way, "Tomorrowland," pictured the future look weirdly retro for a vision of an upcoming time. It still holds an optimistic promise of a hopeful and happy future compared to how nowadays the upcoming decades look like they'll be trying between climate change, political unrest, a still-raging pandemic that could give rise to other problems, and so forth. There is no easy answer on what to do with the current Tomorrowland setups. I just hope if changes are made over time they keep Cosmic Ray.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

April 2021 Links and News

 April--a Month and a Popular Name

It's April, the weather is (mostly) nice lately, and I've got some news and links to share.

Get to Readin'

"The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," had quite the intense fourth issue. This article by Matt Patches at Polygon points out how the show keeps raising question after question about ethical and philosophical questions but seems to be overloading itself with ideas that lack much follow-through. We'll see how the last two episodes work out, maybe?

I've actually interviewed comic-creator Charles Forsman before and always love reading other interviews with him such as this one at NeoText.

Back in the day, we had shareware, demo discs, and such for our video-games. Kotaku examined the fascinating history of this method of marketing which with the rise of the internet basically disappeared.

Kyle Lukeoff shared in an article for Jezebel how he wrote the children's book, "Call Me Max," with the goal of writing a tale about a transgender kid so inoffensive and, "Basic," that it couldn't be protested on the grounds of questionable content for any reason unless the protestors were just outright complaining about it featuring inclusivity. People still protested.

I wasn't really digging Marvel's event, "King in Black," and felt they were forcing the big new bad-guy, Knull, on us way too hard. The comic has wrapped and you can find plenty of articles saying the whole event was basically a dud with a weak ending (I won't spoil it as the comic has been out less than a week, but it was pretty meh).

In closing, vaccine rates are increasing at a stellar rate in America, but the danger of COVID-19 variants is on the rise too. Anyone who can safely take the vaccine needs to do so.

Enjoy the Rest of April

We're halfway through April and working hard to get life back to a semblance of normalcy as the pandemic hopefully resides. Remember to occasionally take time for yourself. Take a deep breath now and then, focus, and get that bread AKA money.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Starbucks Debuts a Cup Borrowing Program

Starbucks is testing a program where you can, "Borrow a cup." You get a cup, pay a dollar deposit, and then when you return it that dollar is given back. So...kind of like mugs or tumblers? Five Seattle stores are testing this out and it sounds like it is going well. The cups are returned, sterilized, clean, and then sent back out with the coffee order of the next person to use them. So yeah, like using mugs or tumblers, how revolutionary! I'm being silly, but anything good for the environment is obviously a smart thing to try out. I applaud Starbucks for trying to cut down on waste.

Friday, April 9, 2021

DMX Has Died

Earl Simmons, better known as DMX, has passed. He was 50 and suffered a heart attack due to a drug overdose that put him in a, "Vegetative state," before his unfortunate passing. This has made me sad as I was a fan. I remember being a teen in the 2000s when so much great rap by artists such as DMX was coming out. I would play his debut album, "It's Dark and Hell is Hot," (which came out in 1998 but I discovered a bit later) a great deal, along with his later LPs like, "Grand Champ." His first album was always my favorite, however. 

Always a controversial figure who at times quarreled with other rappers I liked (he and Ja Rule would beef a lot), DMX made some stellar songs and was, in fact, a solid actor too. He was very great in, "Romeo Must Die," as well as, "Cradle 2 the Grave." As the AV Club points out, 2012's, "Undisputed," is now his last album released while he was alive, although DMX was apparently working on new material as of late. Sadly he won't be us to see how much we enjoy it when it hopefully comes out.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Matt Bors Retires From Political Cartooning

Matt Bors is a cartoonist who has put out some of the most clever, incisive, cutting political commentary in comic form I've ever read. However, he is now done. He recently announced, “After 18 years and more than 1,600 political cartoons, I’ve decided to retire my weekly comic. This is a decision long in the making, one I’ve slowly walked myself up to over the years, and have recently decided is time to commit to. My last cartoon was two weeks ago.” He isn't done with comics and may very well comment on politics in future works, he just won't be dealing with weekly pressures and the grind to get a submission done on time. I understand if after all these years Bors wants some breathing room. I imagine whatever he does make now that he can focus on new projects will be excellent.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Moon Knight is Indeed Getting a New Comic!

After reading some rumors I had my hopes up we were getting a Moon Knight comic. It has confirmed by Marvel that starting in July a new solo title is indeed starting up for the character! It'll somewhat acknowledge the really iffy Avengers arc Moon Knight recently appeared in but be its own cool thing with Marc Spector being a street-level hero as he normally is as opposed to how in that recent Avengers arc he channeled the Phoenix space-force briefly. It was weird.

The new, "Moon Knight," comic will have Jed Mackay writing (he's been good on other books I've read such as, "Black Cat,") and Alessandro Cappuccio doing the artwork (he's done some assorted comics like, "Power Rangers," and this is his Marvel debut). I'm excited and hopeful that this is a great run with the character!

A Tale of Two Ariana Grande Songs

I like the music of Ariana Grande. I've been a fan for some time. I first wrote about, "The Way," back in 2013 and discussed my fondness for such jams as, "Thank U, Next." There have been two songs by Grande that have become very popular lately and one is great while the other is pretty bad--in my opinion, at least. We've got, "Switching Positions," which has catchy strings, a killer beat, Grande singing and rhyming with expertise, and it's just stellar. Then there is, "34+35," which doesn't have metaphors so much as just outright dirty requests, a flimsy beat, and it's just drab. I don't mind dirty songs by any means--"WAP," is catchy as hell and extremely raunchy.

It's a tale of two Ariana Grande songs where one is amazing and the other is just lame and I'm surprised the same person who sings, "Switchin' the positions for you/Cookin' in the kitchen and I'm in the bedroom/I'm in the Olympics, way I'm jumpin' through hoops/Know my love infinite, nothin' I wouldn't do/That I won't do, switchin' for you," then has such snore-worthy lyrics as, "Can you stay up all night?/Fuck me 'til the daylight/Thirty-four, thirty-five (Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)/Can you stay up all night? (All night)/Fuck mе 'til the daylight/Thirty-four, thirty-five (Yeah, yеah, yeah, yeah). For those unclear, 34 and 35 make 69. Yes, she made a goddamn joke about 69'ing and that's the whole point of the song. Again, I love a good dirty ditty, but make it interesting and have a solid beat or melody to match it.

All I'm saying is that I hope Grande continues to make more, "Switching Positions," kinds of songs than she does, "34+35," pieces. In the meantime, I'll be listening to, "Switching Positions," on repeat as that is a banger of a track. I'll skip the other song though.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Mountain Dew Major Melon is a Pretty Subpar Soda

I've mostly given up drinking soda for weight-loss purposes. The last time I had some was to review the mediocre coke with coffee. I'd seen the new Mountain Dew with watermelon flavor and thought it was worth a try, however. I absolutely have loved Mountain Dew Code Red, think the regular flavor is fine, and have tried plenty of odd flavors that didn't impress me. Sadly, "Major Melon," is a Mountain Dew flavor that's simply dull. The watermelon flavor isn't overpowering, which is good. It just kind of sits there, making itself known without being particularly tasty or bad...it's just there. When the whole selling point of your Mountain Dew flavor is a yummy watermelon, have it actually be more than a passing vibe of, "Oh, I taste some crappy watermelon." This is a misfire when it comes to Mountain Dew flavors and I won't be drinking it again if I get an uncontrollable craving for some Mountain Dew. If that strikes, I'll just have some Code Red.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

"VHS Collecting: The Modern Relevance of Home Video," is a Fantastic Book about the Love of Tapes

In a Reddit group about VHS tapes, folks had been posting about enjoying a book by Cory J. Gorski. Titled, "VHS Collecting: The Modern Relevance of Home Video," I got a copy off of the internet and took the time to read it. It was a fantastic book! Clearly written by a fan of VHS tapes, the book breaks down the answers to the questions of, 'Why?" Namely, why do we want to collect a dead media? Why are some tapes worth a lot and others worth basically nothing? Why is VHS special and gets more attention than other formats such as Betamax or CED? Gorski expertly talks about why VHS is such a fun format and doesn't pull punches in admitting a lot of the appeal lies in nostalgia as well as how some stuff just can't be found on DVD or easily online, making a VHS tape a necessity for viewing some mostly-forgotten flicks.

"VHS Collecting," is a lovely introduction for those who are curious about VHS tapes and how to even go about starting a collection of them. It also is a good read even if you already collect VHS tapes sometimes and just want to read the thoughts of a fellow lover of the format. It's just a lovely and enthusiastic book! I'd encourage you to give it a gander if you have any interest in VHS.

5 out of 5 stars

Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Upcoming Big River Comic Convention Looks Exciting!

In April of 2019, I attended the first-ever comic convention in Hannibal, Missouri It was the Big River Comic-Con and it was a blast. There was going to be another one in 2020, but then the pandemic happened and that shut down basically everything. However, now in 2021, the COVID-19 infection rate is dropping in many states, people are getting vaccinated (including yours truly) and the Big River Comic Convention will be happening this April 23rd and 24th! You can find more details here about the show. I hopefully plan to attend and It'll be the first comic convention I'll have been to in over a year. I'm excited about the show and encourage anyone who feels they can safely attend it to do so!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Mike Wolfer Has a New, "Gallery of Chills," Kickstarter!

Mike Wolfer is a comic creator and all-around cool guy I've interviewed a number of times for the blog. I've also backed a lot of his stuff on Kickstarter. He has a new project that is 100% done and just needs to be printed for anyone who backs the Kickstarter. It is, "Gallery of Chills," and looks cool! It is a book full of sexy and scary horror pin-ups. I backed the $15 level where you get the printed comic as well as a pdf version. You can do a number of add-ons that include rewards from his previous campaigns if you're interested in Wolfer's other awesome works too. I'd encourage you to check, "Gallery of Chills," out. Here's the link again if ya need it.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

April Fools' Day is the Worst

I'd never actually hit a horse, living or dead. That said, I have beaten plenty of metaphorical dead horses and one that I'm always walloping is sharing my deep hatred of April Fools' Day. A day where you can't trust anything you read online even more than usual. A day some people decide to make dumb fake announcements or, "Prank," others in cruel manners. I just hate it. I'm not opposed to a fun little cute joke on the day, like how I got an email from The Parking Spot about how they'll be removing all spots from their logos or buses--the email quickly said this was a joke, of course. That's humorous and doesn't hurt anyone. 

Falsely posting you are pregnant is hurtful, fake deaths are terrible, and if you trick people into eating something gross you're the worst kind of person. I don't get why individuals or brands want to pull pranks as if this day gives you carte-blanche to be a rude idiot. If you want to do dumb jokes at people's expense don't do it the day we expect it and supposedly excuse your behavior. Be a jerk year-round so we know what kind of person you are. Let's try and get through this day as painlessly as possible.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Marvel is Doing ANOTHER Event with Symbiotes Called, "Extreme Carnage," and I'm Just Befuddled

"King in Black," is wrapping up with issue #5 and it was mediocre-at-best. It featured a, "God of the symbiotes," named Knull who had an interesting character design and little else going for him. Marvel was promoting Knull, hard, and now they have plans to do another event with more symbiotes? Yep! This July will mark the start of, "Extreme Carnage," and I'm just kind of going, "Really?" at this news. It isn't a mega-event, but still, maybe we should give the symbiotes a rest for a bit beside a solo Venom comic. For all I know it'll be a great read, but the optics, man, the optics are all off. Marvel is saying, "We know you're burned-out on symbiotes, but here's even more!" and I'll probably skim it but not bother buying it, to be honest. I guess we'll see what people say when, "Extreme Carnage," starts-up in July.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

A Comic Convention the Weekend of Thanksgiving Just Sounds Odd

We are slowly getting back to normal thanks to vaccinations for COVID-19 (I just got my first one). By the Fall it is quite likely we will be able to safely gather with loved ones for holidays such as Thanksgiving after reasonable people didn't have big gatherings in 2020. With this in mind, it is kind of odd that Comic-Con International, the company behind the massive San Diego Comic-Con wants to have a convention the weekend of Thanksgiving. It won't be as huge as SDCC but is a way for them to kick the rust off, so to speak. Still, airports will already most likely be clogged and many folks might want to see family for the first time in a long while as opposed to doing a convention. I'm not saying it's a terrible idea, but it just sounds like an odd way to spend the first Thanksgiving after a pandemic. Why the week before or after Thanksgiving wouldn't work escapes me, but there you go.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Soon I'm Gonna Watch Godzilla and King Kong Punch Each Other and I'm Gonna Enjoy it!

I'm a kid at heart. At least, that's what I tell restaurants when I want to order from the kid's menu. I'm also a kid at heart because the thought of watching Godzilla and King Kong beat the snot out of each other gives that child within me a big thrill. For that reason, I am interested in, "Godzilla Vs. King Kong," and pleased to see some good reviews saying it delivers on the fun. There have been some movies that have slowly led-up to this fight, and I liked the first Godzilla one in 2014 as well as appreciating, "Kong: Skull Island," in 2017

I haven't seen the, "Godzilla: King of Monsters," from 2019 but may give it a quick viewing before watching him and Kong punching each other--it doesn't seem like you have to have seen any of the other flicks to be ready for this one, however. After those movies, I am glad we are at the, "Main event," of sorts and that I can see it on HBO MAX if I'm not comfortable going to a movie theater (I am not yet wanting to do so). This is a pure, "Popcorn," movie with a focus on keeping things fun and I'm totally down for it. It'll be in theaters and streaming this Wednesday.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Finally, a New, "Moon Knight," Comic May Be Coming

While Bleeding Cool isn't exactly the most reliable website, they are better than the pure clickbait ones and sometimes their rumors pan out. I am hoping the, "Scoop," they claim they have about a new, "Moon Knight," comic in July is true! Apparently, it may be written by Jed Mackay with art by Alessandro Cappuccio. Whether it is good or terrible I'll read it, but I'm obviously hoping it'll be good. 

I've liked Jed's stuff on the current, "Black Cat," comic and Cappuccio has done some cool stuff on an assortment of titles as well, so it sounds promising. I'm eager for anything new with Moon Knight after him not having a solo title for a while and his only recent thing being having that appearance in Jason Aaron's run on, "Avengers," that could be described as...odd. I look forward to an official announcement!

I Got My First COVID-19 Vaccine Shot Today

I got my first COVID-19 vaccine shot today. Even though I have been working at losing weight so that I'm not, "Very fat," I am still currently, "Kind of fat." Therefore, I was advised by my doctor to get vaccinated for COVID-19 as I was in a high-risk category of people. I also am quite phat with a, "PH," but that isn't a medical concern, it just means I'm cool. What? I am cool!

Anyways, I was able to register for the Pfizer vaccine at a local CVS pharmacy by being online at midnight and quickly getting an appointment booked some days ago. Then, I showed up and got my shot today. It actually didn't hurt much at all and was done fast, which pleased me as someone who hates needles. My arm is a little sore and some hours later I feel a bit more tired than usual, but otherwise, I'm doing alright. I get my second dose in April and hope that goes smoothly too. In the meantime, I will still be wearing a mask and practicing social distancing because it is important to be safe whether we are vaccinated or not. We need to achieve herd immunity before we can relax our rules. That said, I am pleased to have gotten my COVID-19 vaccine and encourage others to do so if they are able.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Going (Band)Camping: Tenth Edition

 Wow, after this post I'll have done 10 of these? That's pretty cool. I've been enjoying spotlighting the interesting stuff I find on Bandcamp and I hope everyone had been liking my posts. As always, my reviews will have links to the albums so you can listen and then agree or disagree with my opinions. Without further delay...

Dante Elephante--Mid-Century Modern Romance

I was introduced to the soulful R&B of Dante Elephante by my subscription to VNYL as some of his stuff just recently came in my second package. I saw he had a Bandcamp account and listened to, "Mid-Century Modern Romance," numerous times as it is a crackling record. The first two tracks, "Find Somebody to Love," and, "Jeni," are both full of breathless energy as Elephante plays the smoothest tracks you've heard in some time and croons about trying to locate a lover and then an affection for a girl named Jeni he worries he will scare-off if he comes on too strong. A track riffing on the television show, "90 Day Fiance," suitably titled, "90 Days," is welcome too, as catchy as it is hilariously clever. "Mid-Century Modern Romance," is a masterpiece, simply put. Find out for yourself how great it is here.

5 out of 5 stars.

Burn TV--How Did I Breathe

The artist behind Burn TV actually reached-out to me via email. They'd seen my reviews of artists on Bandcamp and wondered if I would mind checking them out. I did and I liked what I heard on their one-track EP! They had an awesome music video for the song, "How Did I Breathe," they linked to as well on their Youtube and I loved its grainy and underground VHS aesthetic. The music is a bit rock, a bit noise (but not overly abrasive like some noise genre stuff), and very engaging. It's fun! Find it here at this link.

4 out of 5 stars.

I Have Four Names--Spike It EP

I reviewed an album by I Have Four Names back in my fifth edition of this series, and they've only managed to get better since. This EP is short but sweet, with the initial track, "Capital A's," being the one I found myself returning to often. It's just good, solid indie rock that smacks you in the face with its pounding drum, great guitars, and insistent-but-thoughtful lyrics. You can listen to this latest EP here.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Bryon Siren--Love/Hate

Some quiet lo-fi alternative rock entertains your ears once you start playing, "Love/Hate." The track, "Everytime," was my favorite, but everything is solidly listenable. Every song kind of hums along without offending my ears or really standing out. It's good, but not great. See what you think here.

3 out of 5 stars.

Nanny--Can't Remember Can't Forget

I don't know a ton about punk music, but I do know I generally like it when it's done well. Nanny's album, "Can't Remember Can't Forget," is great punk, for sure. The first track, "Friday, bb," is full of enthusiasm out the gate and the song, "Timeline," with its powerful drums and speedy guitar riffs is a standout track. It never gets too heavy (I'm not a heavy metal fan, usually), but does sometimes get a bit of a thick grunge vibe. I dig it. Find it here.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Marvel Leaves Diamond for Penguin Random House

Remember how big a deal it was when DC quit the monopolistic Diamond in a very messy manner during the pandemic (a pandemic that hopefully ends soon)? It made us wonder if Marvel would follow suit and how that would quite possibly signal a death knell for Diamond. Wellllll, Marvel just announced it is going to have Penguin Random House distribute its floppy comics and has some very favorable terms for retailers who go with that method (free freight). Stores will still be able to order via Diamond as a wholesaler if they want and trade paperbacks and hardcovers will remain with Hachette for distribution. This change happens in October and Diamond released a tersely-worded response that hides how they are probably panicking now that 50% of their business will quite possibly evaporate.

DC has its own distributor that was kind of thrown together in a slapdash manner (Lunar) but is kind of working after a shaky start. If it had failed maybe Marvel would've been more hesitant to go its own way too, but now Marvel is going with an established and powerful company to distribute their comics. A lot of smaller publishers that are currently with Diamond may start to explore other options. Some already have, with SCOUT Comics being distributed via Diamond as well as DC's Lunar. We may be seeing the birth of multiple distributors like in the olden days and seeing the beginning of the end for Diamond (or it undergoing a significant restructuring and shrinking). There will surely be more as this situation develops.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Disney Throws Arms Up in Air in Defeat, Plans to Release, "Black Widow," on Disney+ For an Extra Fee

Disney has dabbled some in releasing new stuff on Disney+ for an extra fee. They tried it with the live-action, "Mulan," as well as that new Dragon cartoon. Disney must be tired of delaying, "Black Widow," however, as it has pushed it back one more time to July 9th instead of May 7th and it will be released simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+ for an extra fee. They'll be doing this with that weird, "Cruella," movie too (I was very confused about who that movie is actually for by the trailer) with it streaming and in theaters on May 28th. 

I guess Disney crunched the numbers and decided enough people will shell out $30(!) to watch these at home before a general release on the streaming platform that doesn't cost extra some month later. I mean, I can see lots of people coughing-up $30 for, "Black Widow," and maybe splitting the cost with some friends. "Cruella," is most likely going to bomb though, sorry (I'm not sorry).

A gritty reboot-prequel about Cruella! That's what the kids will love?

Whether this is a sign of things to come for all future releases even as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides or a temporary measure remains to be seen. I'm just happy after being delayed what seems like forever that, "Black Widow," will finally at least be out. It looks relatively entertaining between the mysterious Taskmaster and David Harbour being his entertaining self. I really ought to watch, "Stranger Things," if for no other reason than he's on it.

Oh, and one more notable thing was announced along with, "Black Widow," going to Disney+. The, "Shang-Chi," movie now has an official release date of September 3rd, 2021. I expect a trailer will drop for it sooner than later. Whether it will be exclusive to theaters or streamable as well is still a mystery. 2021 is shaping up to be pretty full of entertainment, no matter how you slice it. Is that an expression? I'm going to make it an expression.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

I'm Surprised it Took This Long for, "BRZRKR," to be Optioned

When it was announced that Keanu Reeves would be co-writing a comic with Matt Kindt titled, "BRZRKR," I assumed before even the first issue came out it would have a media option announced. I was wrong, it took until after the first issue but before the second. Yep, "BRZRKR," a comic about a man who can't die and is working with the government as a violent secret agent in hopes of finally becoming mortal will be a movie and spin-off anime series on Netflix

One thing that is being heavily overlooked in all this is how while the comic's story was perfectly fine and might make a decent flick, the artwork was actually stellar. Ron Garney did the illustrations for the first issue (and upcoming issues) or, "BRZRKR," and he's been around long enough (getting work published since the 90s) that he knows how to draw everything from the explosive and extremely violent action sequences to the quiet flashbacks as our protagonist remembers the day of his birth 80,000 years ago--he is basically immortal and is able to remember a lot, you see.

Garney draws the (quite bloody) action fantastically.

The media articles about, "BRZRKR," getting optioned maybe have somewhat ignored Garney's contributions, but they sure seem excited to see another Keanu Reeves project. This is fair as he is a great actor, but I will admit feeling a little cynical these days when a comic seems to be made as little more than a proof-of-concept pitch for a potential movie/television show/etc. I don't mind stuff being optioned and there are in fact things I wish would get optioned. This, however, was destined to get bought for the screen before a single word was written or pen was put to paper (or tablet, you know what I mean). The comic wasn't bad by any means--as I said, Garney's art is amazing--so I imagine the movie and anime series will be fun. It still doesn't make me any less cynical though.

Monday, March 22, 2021

A Possible, "Echo," Show on Disney+ Sounds Great!

Echo is the superhero name of Maya Lopez. She was first introduced in the, "Daredevil," comic series back in the 2000s. She is a Native American and deaf. She also is great at kicking ass and is apparently going to appear in the upcoming Disney+ show about, "Hawkeye," before getting her own spin-off show. This sounds cool as while Daredevil isn't in the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet, this means he may appear. Plus, Echo has hung-out with Hawkeye some and my favorite character, Moon Knight. Moon Knight has his own show coming, of course, so I wonder if she'll appear in that too? 

A lot of this pure speculation at this point, but it seems quite likely she is actually getting a show. This makes me excited as she's always been a neat character and one of her co-creators, David Mack (he created her with Brian Michael Bendis), is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet in comics. I'm glad a character he was involved in making is getting some MCU-spotlight. It'll be a while before we get these shows, but it is fun to hear what's in the works already!

"Proctor Valley Road #1," is an Odd Blend of Genres that Manages to Work Very Well

I love the works of Grant Morrison. They've created some of my favorite comics be it original works like, "The Filth," or established properties such as their run on, "New X-Men," "Batman," and more. They've got a new original creation in the form of, "Proctor Valley Road," they've co-written with Alex Child and its a little messy, but it works out in the end. The messiness comes from how much is going on. We've got a big cast of teenage girls and boys--so many people I had trouble remembering names. The comic takes place during the Vietnam war and features these teens going to explore the (apparently real) Proctor Valley Road. 

The opening of the comic is scary as we witness a man faced with a haunted being, then the comic gets a bit of a chill slice-of-life vibe until towards the end going full-tilt horror with some really scary and bloody imagery. It's a mish-mash of genres and a lot of credit needs to go to artist Naomi Franquiz for balancing the everyday banality with the mystical horror in a way that it all just manages to fit together.

The blend of being a bit of a period piece, a humorous tale of a bunch of friends, and something quite terrifying with monsters result in a careful balancing act for Morrison and Childs, but I was quite entertained. I came to the book because Morrison's name was attached, but while they and Childs do a great job telling the story I was most impressed by Franquiz, as I've made clear. Her artwork just wowed me, especially when the terror kicks-in.

I wasn't sure what to expect going into, "Proctor Valley Road," as I thought it was going to be more straight-up horror. The mixture of scary-with-funny-and-the-everyday was stellar though. Between Morrison and Childs' writing plus Franquiz's stellar art, I quite liked it.

4 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Price of Comics Keeps Creeping Up

That $4.99 though...

There was once a man who ran for mayor of New York City as well as Governor. His name was Jimmy McMillan. He was a third-party candidate for the, "Rent is Too Damn High Party," and he often would exclaim, "The rent is too damn high!" He was spoofed by Saturday Night Live's Kenan Thompson and was a bit of a meme for a while. Sometimes I feel like Mr. McMillan when I look at the price of comics. I see news reports that DC is thinking of trying to charge in the realm of $4.99 for a 30-page comic and $5.99 for a 40-page book and I want to scream, "The price of comics is too damn high!"

I already don't read a ton of DC as only a handful of titles have appealed to me lately--the more off-kilter ones such as, "Man-Bat," "Strange Adventures," and, "Far Sector." Seeing that they may very well keep their prices creeping up makes me want to read even less or basically none of DC, however. I remember when almost any comic was barely $2, then $2.99 was the standard. After that, we saw a slow creep to $3.99 for almost everything. Eventually, we may see comic-books price almost everyone out of reading them at this rate. I read a report once somehow about how the price of comics is multiple times above the regular inflation level, they're just getting absurdly costly. I'm lucky as someone with a long-running website to get press access to a number of titles from various publishers, but I still have to pay for a chunk of stuff I want to read. At this rate, I'll be buying less and less.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

A New, "Predator," Comic With Kev Walker Involved? Yes, Please!

For the longest time, you could find some quality, "Predator," comic from Dark Horse. They had a licensing agreement with Fox to publish the comics. Then Disney bought Fox, and let the rights expire so they could give them to their own comic company that they own (Disney has bought a lot), Marvel. It's been a bit since we had Predator comics, but now there will be a brand-new series with Ed Brisson writing and Kev Walker on art. Wait, did I just see that Kev Walker is doing the art? This is gonna be good!

The comic takes place, "In the near future," as a woman who saw her family slaughtered by a Predator goes on to try and find it and kill it herself for some good ol' fashioned revenge. That seems sufficiently straightforward enough to bring us some stellar Predator-fighting action that Kev Walker will surely illustrate majestically. I'm pumped!

Friday, March 19, 2021

"Busy Little Bees," #1 Starts its Supernatural Horror-Thriller Tale with Style

 

"Busy Little Bees," is a new upcoming comic from Blue Fox Publishing. I'm on their press list and they keep me updated about titles, with the first issue preview I read of, "Busy Little Bees," being fantastic. Written by Marielle Bouleau with art by Emiliano Correa, the comic centers on a girl named Myna who lives in an institution with other patients that her rich family owns. Her brother, Sebastian, is the only one who still visits her as her violent outbursts alienated the rest of the family. One of the nights that Sebastian visits is unique, however, as a strange meteor shower is happening too and causing all kinds of strange things to happen--with Myna becoming quite different too throughout the night.

"Busy Little Bees," has a deliciously foreboding vibe, with Correa's artwork making the everyday and supernatural moments all work perfectly in sync whilst Bouleau's writing keeps us readers on our toes. I quite enjoyed reading this first issue and would encourage you to check out the Kickstarter for, "Busy Little Bees" when it launches sometime in April or May!

5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

One Free Comic Book Day Title in Particular Looks Awesome--"Red Room," by Ed Piskor

Free Comic Book Day is happening this year, albeit with a delay. Instead of the first Saturday in May, it'll be occurring on August 14th. A number of titles were just recently announced as being the free offerings from publishers--with some still kinda secret beyond a title (whatever the, "Hulk/Venom," one is has me curious). Out of the books that were revealed as being free this year, however, I was really intrigued to see, "Red Room," by Ed Piskor. Piskor did the incredible series, "Hip-Hop Family Tree," and now with, "Red Room," Piskor describes this comic as, "A cyberpunk, outlaw, splatterpunk comic that you can't unsee once you feast your eyes on the mayhem...think of, "Red Room," as modern day E.C. Comics, infused with the dream of Black Mirror. These are subversive, stand-alone stories that are all part of a larger, twisted narrative.”

Each issue will be its own tale--with the FCBD issue being a unique story as well--and all the future issues will slowly connect in little ways as a tale is told of cyber currency, murder, and mystery. I mean, Piskor could be writing about anything and as long as he's drawing it with his amazing skill I'd read it. Apparently, the FCBD issue is more PG-13, but the regular comic will be strictly for mature readers. I'm excited to grab a copy of the free issue and then buy the regular ones as well!

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Chris Gaines is Back! This is Good! Seriously!

I don't much like country music. I do adore Kacey Musgraves, like a solid chunk of the Chicks (formerly Dixie Chicks) discography, like Trace Adkins, and am fond of the works of Garth Brooks. That's about it though. I also, however, was a fan of Garth Brooks' secret alter-ego known as Chris Gaines. I think I may have been the World's only person who actually really dug Chris Gaines and his work. Garth Brooks being Chris Gaines was a bit of a failed experiment that seemed doomed to be a footnote in his works. Until now. We are inexplicably being teased with more Chris Gaines songs, and this pleases me. I don't know where Chris Gaines has been all these years (I mean, besides living life as Garth Brooks) but I'm excited to hear from him.

"Maria Llovet's Eros/Psyche," #1 is Deeply Affecting and Eerie

 

Throughout the first issue of, "Maria Llovet's Eros/Psyche," which is published by Ablaze, there is a major feeling of dread that creeps in. A girl named Sara joins a strange institution known as the, "Rose School," after passing an entry test. Within this all-girls school, she meets Silje. They become friends and have some stirrings of romance too. Sara keeps working hard at this strange school with its odd rules and customs, and the story proceeds with an almost dreamlike and otherworldly quality. Things feel strangely disconnected and off-kilter. Something is very clearly wrong. What exactly is going on is still a mystery as this is just the first issue, but it's an impactful debut.

Maria Llovet both writes and illustrates, with everything looking gorgeous. From creepy abandoned buildings in forests to groups of students sitting around discussing their cryptic homework, every page is a treat for the eyes. The art is what gives everything its, "Oomph," without a doubt.

"Maria Llovet's Eros/Psyche," #1 is a stellar beginning for this latest project by Llovet. Between the eerie vibe that the story imparts and the amazing artwork, I'd recommend getting a copy. It is on sale today at all finer comic shops!

5 out of 5 stars.


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Check out, "The Breakfast Bunch," Kickstarter Campaign!


A bit ago Ryan Little reached out to me about his comic, "The Breakfast Bunch." He told me about how the first issue would be launching a Kickstarter campaign as of today and offered to let me read it. After I checked out some sample art and heard what, "The Breakfast Bunch," was about, I eagerly read it! It centers on a team of breakfast cereal characters like the kind you'd see on boxes; they actually exist in a mythical World and are on a quest to find the, "Perfectly balanced breakfast." 

I loved this creative concept and the story of the first issue really delivers on it. Between the gorgeous illustrations and exciting challenges our heroes face (with a healthy dose of humor), I loved the first issue of, "The Breakfast Bunch." Little really manages to create a fantastical world full of lush colors and detailed creations from imposing dungeons to scary fanged opponents. I was very impressed with his work and loved this debut issue.
"The Breakfast Bunch," just launched its Kickstarter campaign today and you can find it here. I would rate this first issue 5 out of 5 stars and recommend giving it a look!

Monday, March 15, 2021

Bad Idea's New Comic, "Eniac," Is Out and I'm Gonna Review It!

 

"Eniac," is the first official comic to be released by a new publisher I've followed with great interest, Bad Idea. They had that surprise limited release of, "The Hero Trade," but this is the, "True," debut for the company. There is lots of hype about their limited number of stores, the rarity of the comics, all of that. Is, "Eniac," good, however? Well, I've read it and can say that yes, it's fun! The comic centers on a computer named Eniac from World War II that basically gained a sentience of sorts and against America's own wishes ordered the 2nd atomic bomb be dropped on Nagasaki once it calculated that would surely end the war. After that point, it eventually was smuggled out of its secret military base, found its way online, and has impacted a lot of the world in secret since.

That's the setup, but the big problem is that Eniac now seems to be counting down to something so the Secretary of Defense has hired two of the best spec op agents around to kill the dang computer before it potentially obliterates humanity. The ladies hired to kill Eniac though are at a lot of risk because this supercomputer is linked-in to everything. So kicks-off the first issue of, "Eniac." I'd say the writer, Matt Kindt, does a great job setting-up the immense threat of Eniac and artist  Doug Braithwaite is phenomenal. Braithwaite draws scenes with people simply sitting around talking or laying-out the plot so well it keeps our eyes as engaged as when there's explosions or gunfire--which he also portrays with aplomb.

The first issue of, "Eniac," is engrossing from its plot to its artwork. There has been so much press and controversy over the way Bad Idea is distributing their comics that the actual great content of this first (official) release has been a bit overlooked--and it's fantastic. While first-printing copies of, "Eniac," are fetching a pretty penny online, the, "Not first printing," copies shouldn't be too hard to find. Get yourself one and enjoy!

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

DST Had Me Exhausted Today

Today was Daylight Saving Time beginning. Anytime it happens I feel obligated to remind everyone how much I hate DST whether it is, "Giving," us an extra hour but plunging us into darkness in the early evenings or, "Taking," an hour and leaving us exhausted even if it stays brighter later. I've provided all the links before about how it harms us as a nation more than it helps. I've shared the articles about the way it makes everyone less productive and we all hate it. Despite the disdain for DST it seems to be stuck with us Americans unless we live in certain states that wisely abolished it. Perhaps someday it'll be gone, but for now, I just was exhausted today and needed a nap. What can ya do?