Wednesday, June 30, 2021

I Offer My Support to Al Ewing Who Has Come Out as Bisexual

Al Ewing is one of my current favorite writers. He has been fantastic on a wide range of titles--currently, he is doing a stellar job on, "Immortal Hulk," and getting lots of attention for it, but seek out his, "Ultimates," and, "Mighty Avengers," work and you won't regret that either (among other great reads). As I am always eager to take any opportunity to write about Al Ewing as he is a cool guy I thought I would take the time today to offer my support to him as he just came out as biseuxal. He wrote a blog post discussing his bisexuality and it was reported by some news outlets as well once he wrote about it. Al Ewing continues to be a fantastic writer and I applaud him for feeling comfortable telling us all more about himself.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

I Like the Mash-Up Songs William Singe Creates

I often will look for fun covers of songs or mash-ups combining various tunes on platforms such as YouTube, Spotify, etc. I enjoy hearing folks doing their own take on other artist's songs. This is how I stumbled across an Australian gentleman named William Singe. Apparently, he was in a boy band that was on the Australian version of, "The X Factor," some years ago and then went solo. He's had some of his own songs he's done that I have enjoyed hearing, but I really dig his covers and mash-ups of tunes. A mash-up, for those unaware, is when you take two or more songs and put them together in some fashion. Mash-ups were huge in the early 2000s but don't get quite as much hype now. 

I'm really digging his most recent release of, "Leave the Door Open X Stand In." It combines that smash hit by Bruno Mars and Anderson .Pakk with Singe's own tune. It is a clever way to both do a cover and work in your own ditty. He does covers and mash-ups that don't incorporate his own stuff as well, but I admire his creativity in combining a cover with his original work. Check it out right here below:

Isn't that fun? A lot of Singe's stuff is cool and I've been enjoying discovering his discography lately. I'd encourage you to look into his stuff too if you have any fondness for covers, mash-ups, or just want to listen to his own creations.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Mini-Run Review: "Rorschach," is the Strangest Mainstream Comic Coming Out Right Now and That's a Good Thing

The first issue of Rorschach didn't really wow me so much as it confused me. I wondered why exactly it was a sequel to, "Watchmen," in an alternate 2020 as that's a tall order to tackle. I also had concerns as it was basically an insult to Alan Moore that DC was doing stuff with characters that by all rights should've reverted to his and Dave Gibbon's ownership until DC screwed them over years ago (for more on that just look basically anywhere online). Then I found the politics odd as it seemed to be about an extremist left-winger trying to kill a right-wing candidate when we all know the alt-right and so forth pose a bigger threat to safety than any liberals (just turn on the news). I loved the art, though. I read the second issue and found it a bit more engaging, but I was not wowed. Then, slowly, "Rorschach," morphed into the most bizarre mainstream comic coming out right now and things clicked into place.

One complaint I offered about, "Rorschach," was the main character--an unnamed detective--was such a blank slate I had concerns if the story would work with them so dull. Well, we've still learned nothing about our protagonist, but in a way, he isn't the main character--the people he's investigating are. A dangerously misled right-wing woman named Laura Cummings who was raised to be a killer and an aged liberal comic creator named Wil Myerson tried to kill a Republican--Governor Turley--who is running for President against longtime leader Robert Redford. How they ended up coming together involves a love of comics and her preying on Myer's self-loathing and hatred of those who took advantage of him.
Then things get stranger when a real-life tape of comic creators trying to contact the dead has its background altered for this story and an alternate-universe Frank Miller appears as himself (with permission from the actual Frank Miller) and gets sucked into a surreal cult of sorts. A relatively straightforward attempted assassination mystery has morphed into what, "Watchmen," was at points--a comic about comics. After all, "Watchmen," itself imagined a World where comics were popular but due to the rise of real heroes pirates became a big thing. 

That continues to be riffed on by King with Miller having done a famous, "Dark," pirate hero (shades of his Batman work), and the mysterious tape that exists in the real World explains a lot about why someone like Cummings would turn on a Republican despite being far-right herself (a mysterious voice seeming to instruct Turley be killed mixed with his idealization of The Comedian being off-putting is a big element). Things seem to be getting only stranger after the most recent issue (#9) hints at an even grander conspiracy. This is a maxi-series so if King can land this story as the finale approaches remains to be seen, but man if this hasn't become an utterly bizarre (and quite readable) comic.
 
It should be noted Jorge Fornes continues to absolutely nail it on art every single page, with a complicated layout in the eighth issue where three different people have their alibis all displayed simultaneously on the pages managing to be fantastic thanks to Fornes. As this is a comic about comics it only makes sense it would play with the form in clever ways such as in the eighth issue or even the most recent one where flashbacks and the present suddenly collide in an ingenious manner when our unnamed detective starts piecing together more and more of what exactly might be going on, e.g. Cummings and Myerson may have had even more politically-powerful help in their plot to kill Turley than anyone would've imagined. Between King's writing and Fornes's amazing talent, "Rorschach," has morphed from a book that seemed a bit dull to a must-read mind-bender.

It still sucks Alan Moore is getting screwed, though, and it always will.

5 out of 5 stars (for the most recent issues of #7-#9).

Sunday, June 27, 2021

It Continues to Annoy Me You Can't Stream Discovery+ on a PlayStation

There are many streaming services. For that reason, it makes sense some devices don't support certain services/apps. That said, I love Discovery+ with its mix of educational content and trashy reality television from TLC. I do not love that you can stream Discovery+ from basically any device except a PlayStation 4 or 5. Seriously, you can watch Discovery+ on your phone, on numerous smart televisions, on a recent-generation Xbox, via a Roku, and so forth. It isn't on the PS4 or 5 though, nope. 

We like to stream things downstairs with my PlayStation 4 so that is really annoying. We've figured out a workaround where we use the Chromecast connected to the television and cast to it via my phone, but that results in a lot of buffering and such as it is processing through so many devices. Nobody online is sure why Sony hasn't made it possible to watch Discovery+ on their devices, but many folks are upset. There is actually a petition online to tell Sony they need to add Discovery+ to their devices. I signed it and really hope this oversight is corrected in the near future. In the general scheme of the World, this is a small issue, but it is annoying enough I thought it deserved a metaphorical light shone upon it.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

"Crash Site," is An Intriguingly Weird Graphic Novel That Struggles to Find the Right Tone

I saw one of my favorite comic creators, Simon Hanselmann, was heaping praise upon the original graphic novel, "Crash Site," by Nathan Cowdry. I also saw The Comic's Journal's Hillary Brown reviewed it. I read, "Crash Site," for myself (bought it from our local bookstore, Left Bank Books), then read what Brown thought and found we agreed on a good amount.

"Crash Site," is about a girl named Rosie who with her talking dog, Denton, are trying to smuggle cocaine. However, their plane crashes and things otherwise go haywire as a talking pair of underpants complicate matters further. The comic has a number of talking animal-human figures as well as that underwear which is, "Alive," in some sense. It gives everything a bit of a surrealist air and Cowdry's illustrative style reminds me a bit of if Charles Burns and Michael Deforge were mashed into one person--I mean that a compliment, by the way.

The plot sounds a bit straightforward and it is except for a bunch of random flashbacks and dream sequences that give everything even more of an air of unreality. "Crash Site," is loaded with sex jokes too, usually with a harsh and nihilistic tone as it either seems to be mocking, "Wokeness," or is simply poking fun at PC culture a little bit--such as in a scene where Denton excitedly reads a magazine dedicated to a woman brutally harming the Simpson's Apu in a comedic manner. Is, "Crash Site," making fun of people offended by Apu? Is it just having a laugh at the character's expense and actually pro-PC? One really can't tell as Cowdry seems more interested in, "Going there," than making an actual statement sometimes. 

The few times the comic flirts with being heartfelt--such as when Denton is truly worried if Rosie is okay after the plane crash as she falls ill from a mysterious tropical illness--it immediately follows up those moments with gross-out jokes or brutal bloody violence. It is intriguingly weird at times but struggles to get out of its own way. Does, "Crash Site," want to tell a dramatic-and-surrealist story about drug smuggling, plane crashes, and a dangerous rainforest? Does it want to focus on jokes about jizz, public urination, and flashing strangers at the beach? It kind of wants to do both, and that makes it a struggle for it to really succeed at either as the tone of the comic just lurches all over the place.

Tonal qualms aside, "Crash Site," is a gorgeous book. Cowdry's choice for the font in the comic is a bit odd, with the stark design of the text sometimes making it a little hard to read for no apparent reason other than Cowdry wanted a unique font. The art itself is lovely, however. Whether Cowdry is drawing a quiet and sweet moment or something more raunchy like Denton voyeuristically peering over the rocks at a woman peeing by the beach, everything is gorgeous. Whether regular humans or strange hybrid-looking creatures, the characters are well fleshed out in their appearance even if the written characterization is at times lacking. Even when the comic isn't quite comfortable in deciding on a tone, the art always has a lovely assured vibe.

"Crash Site," flirts with being spectacular, but lets its hesitance to be truly earnest or totally nasty leave it in suck in a middle-ground of looking amazing but not having much to say. I quite enjoyed reading, "Crash Site," even with its flaws, and would wholeheartedly recommend it.

4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Flashback Friday: OutKast Edition Volume 6: Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Intro

Andre was mostly tired of rapping. Big Boi wasn't. They were working together on some songs but both had a bunch of stuff they had done by themselves. Instead of making two solo albums, however, it was decided to release a double album. That resulted in OutKast's biggest album ever and the best OutKast album that kind of isn't an OutKast album at the same time.

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

September 23rd, 2003 marked the release of this beast of an album. 39 tracks if you count the interludes/skits. It was an astounding enterprise that almost everyone loved. It is one of the very small numbers of rap albums to win, "Album of the Year," from the Grammys, not that the Grammys really matter as we've all discussed. Big Boi's, "Side," of the LP, "Speakerboxx," is more southern hip-hop goodness we are accustomed to with a great blend of party-rap and conscious-rap. Andre 3000 gives us something quite different with, "The Love Below," though. A surreal blend of poppy rock, jazz, funk, a dollop of rapping, and tons of sonic experimentation, "The Love Below," is jam-packed with amazing tracks as well as ones that aren't always astounding, but always interesting.

On, "Speakerboxxx," the album starts (after a little intro) with the wildly fast, "Ghetto Music," and only rarely slows down on that track to let you catch your breath. After that is my favorite song on the whole album, "Unhappy." It reflects on the difficulties of life Big Boi faced growing up but how his family always persevered through it. "Bowtie," happens and is snazzy, then Big Boi's first big single from the LP, "The Way You Move," is just a pure delight with Sleepy Brown's crooning contribution sealing the deal. Next, we get a solid mix of songs I won't detail as they are enjoyable but don't stand out in my mind a ton. That is, until, "Flip Flop Rock," with Jay-Z and Killer Mike just bringing the house down with Big Boi as they are accompanied by some fantastic piano riffs, beats, and guitar strumming. The late-album song, "Reset," is a delight too, and then after a few more tracks, the album wraps. Well, Big Boi's half concludes, in some ways we are just getting started as now it is time for, "The Love Below."

"The Love Below," opens with a lush orchestral score and Andre singing softly and beautifully. It lets you know you're in for something quite different than other OutKast albums. We segue into, "Love Hater," which is just a jazzy and energetic treat and after the, "God," interlude we have one of the small numbers of tracks Andre does rap on, "Happy Valentine's Day," a song about a modern-day cupid who is a little disaffected by love. It is a stellar track.  After the raunchy, "Spread," and another little skit we get to an absolutely stacked lineup mid-album. The endearing, "Prototype," about falling in love, "She Lives in My Lap," which discusses falling out of love, "Hey Ya!" and its discussion of messy relationships and, "Roses," with its angry thoughts on a just-ended relationship. 

All of those songs are absolute bangers and, "Hey Ya!" dominated the radio for quite some time. After that mid-album assortment of masterpieces, the rest of the LP is solid. It takes till the end of the album for more amazing stuff to appear, however. We have a short little song, "Take Off Your Cool," sung with a just-starting-to-get-hugely-popular Norah Jones, the surreal and experimental, "Vibrate." The album closes with a long monologue-rap on, "A Life in the Day of Benjamin André (Incomplete)," where Andre 3000 starts to tell the story of how OutKast started. It is immensely listenable and gets up to around the release of the 2nd album, "ATLiens," or so. I still hope we get more of this story in the future as Andre even labels it, "Incomplete," in the tracklist.

Conclusion

"Speakerboxx/The Love Below," is an amazing double LP. Is it, "Truly," an OutKast album? I would say yes but feel free to have your own opinion. It sold tons of copies, won a bunch of awards, and could've been the perfect final album from OutKast. It wasn't though. We got one more release in the form of, "Idlewild," a flawed but beautiful work. I'll discuss, "Idlewild," in my final post of this segment next week.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Marvel is Doing NFTs Now and the Whole Concept Still Confuses Me

I made a post in late April about how NFTs really confuse me. I mentioned how the NFT market was becoming less active in a post full of links earlier this month. Therefore, now that the NFT ship has maybe sailed it, of course, makes sense for big corporations to come in and just muddy things up even more. Marvel is collaborating with a company called VeVe to sell NFTs and other digital goods because NFTs in theory have value (they really do not). 

People will be able to have virtual showrooms, use something called, "Gems," for their buying and selling of NFTs that can be cashed out and it has those virtual reality things so you can make it look like your virtual statue is sitting in your room if you look at on your phone, I guess? It all sounds weird and I continue to have no intention of putting any of my money into NFTs, ever. Good luck and Godspeed to those of you who do.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Warren Ellis Returns To Comics; I Still Don't Plan to Read His Stuff Anymore

Let's get one thing out of the way. If Warren Ellis wants to write some more comics that is fully his right. If someone wants to work with him to illustrate those comics that is their choice. If a publisher wants to put those comics out they sure can. People who want to enjoy his stellar writing can do so because despite everything, he was and I imagine remains an incredible author. That said, I just can't read Ellis's stuff anymore without thinking about all the pain he wrought on others. That's why upon hearing that Warren Ellis will be finishing his long-delayed comic, "Fell," I could only shrug. 

The comic hasn't had a new issue in over 10 years. 5 years ago I would've been ecstatic it was coming back, a bit over a year ago before all the news broke about Ellis taking advantage of women and non-binary individuals I would've been at least a little excited. Now, though? I shrug. Ben Templesmith is back on art and has gotten some ire for working with Ellis again. That's Templesmith's initiative however and if he feels comfortable working with Ellis once more I hope he enjoys his paycheck. I won't be reading the return of, "Fell," because no matter how much I loved the work of Ellis in the past, now I just think about all the lives he impacted in a terrible way. I'm not going to argue against Ellis working or anything--if people want to support him that's their prerogative. I just can't buy his stuff anymore because I am unable to enjoy it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Television Tuesday: "Rick and Morty," is Back for Season 5

"Rick and Morty," is one of those shows I really like but has a certain percentage of its fanbase that is best described as, "Problematic," or, "Toxic." Fans who miss the point of the show that Rick is--at the end of the day--a villain, a monster, and not ever someone to aspire to be like. Some troubling aspects of the fanbase aside, there are plenty of fans of the show who are great people--some I actually met thanks to the show. Hence, with the return of the series as it brings us its fifth season, we gear up for a fun time and hope we can avoid the off-base hot takes or tweets by the less pleasant fans. The first episode was on Sunday and it was great fun.

In Sunday's Episode, "Mort Dinner, Rick Andre," we spent much of the time dealing with Rick's apparent, "Nemesis," a Namor/Aquaman type named, "Mr. Nimbus," who might flood the planet Earth if Rick doesn't make nice with him for the folly of touching his ship down in the ocean during a crash landing during the episode opener (it seems agreements were in place that Rick doesn't mess with the ocean). The same night Morty has Jessica from school over to attempt a date, Mr. Nimbus comes to the house as well for a peace negotiation. He propositions Morty and Summer's parents (Beth and Jerry) for a threesome, threatens Rick a bunch, and drinks a ton of rare wine that Rick puts in a Narnia-style dimension that has time move quickly so it ages well. That little pocket dimension brings us our B-plot as the creatures there get increasingly upset at Morty for his meddling in their World every decade or so. It is the usual wonky and funny kind of episode you expect from, "Rick and Morty," with some self-loathing thrown in by Rick and a bunch of explosively violent action whenever Morty has to mess with the pocket dimension.

"Mort Dinner, Rick Andre," wasn't as thoughtful or depressing as some, "Rick and Morty," episodes happen to be. It was pretty light--which can be nice sometimes too. Mr. Nimbus is a hoot and Jessica continues to be a bit of a blank-slate character (Morty likes a girl, and that's basically all there is to her, she's an object of affection) but maybe shows minor growth after living in the pocket dimension for eons in a frozen state--or as she puts it upon heading home and having a stranger hit on her by the side of the road, "Fuck off, I'm a time-God." It's a whimsical little episode and the meta-gag that it took this many seasons to meet a random, "Nemesis," for Rick beyond himself was cute. If this pleasantly breezy opener is any indication of what upcoming episodes hold they should be pretty snazzy!

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, June 21, 2021

"The Fang," Volume 2 is a Stellar Follow-Up Loaded with Amazing Artwork

I reviewed the first volume of Marc Palm's work, "The Fang," previously and recently bought the second volume from his Esty store (it will be distributed by Fantagraphics to all finer bookstores soon too) Fully title, "The Fang: Weekend at Medusa's," it is more fun pulpy goodness with a mixture of humor, horror, and lots of stellar artwork. Palm brings us a story of, "The Fang," as she continues hunting monsters and finds herself facing Medusa--or someone possibly posing as her!

Palm's artwork continues to be amazing, whether he's illustrating the Fang experiencing a trippy hallucination from a snake bite or bringing us a high-octane fight scene between her and Medusa. Depending on what a scene calls for Palm sometimes is hyper-detailed and other times has a fun sketchy style that is a little minimalist. It all looks fantastic.

This second volume of, "The Fang," is a lovely read. I would encourage you to order a copy from your preferred comic or book store, buy it directly at Palm's Esty (here's that link again) and you can always follow him on Patreon as well! I can't wait for volume 3!

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Happy Father's Day!

We were matching a bit the other day!

Today was Father's Day of 2021. I am so thankful for our son, Clarkson, and my wife Samantha Stout. They are my favorite people in the World and they make every day special. Much love to my Pop too (he rocks) and all the dad's out there!

Saturday, June 19, 2021

My Article About the Craziest Movie Villain Schemes is Posted on Cinemaways

As you all know, I like to write for other sites when the chance arises (and the check clears). I've enjoyed writing pieces for Cinemaways before and had the honor of doing a new article discussing the, "Top 5 Craziest Movie Villain Schemes." It was posted today and you can check it out at this link. It features my usual astute observations and ramblings that you enjoy, but this time focused on some really weird plans assorted bad guys (and gals) hatched.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Flashback Friday OutKast Edition Volume 5: Big Boi and Dre Present...OutKast

Intro

It was the year after OutKast's fourth studio record, "Stankonia." Late 2001 was a scary damn time as September 11th had changed the World (more on this later). OutKast gave us an LP that wasn't exactly a greatest hits album or new material. They had subtly tweaked some of their older tracks and gave us three new songs that were each interesting for a variety of reasons. It was the first-ever OutKast album I bought because I figured it would be a solid introduction to the group when it came out that year and I wanted to start checking them out. It was titled, "Big Boi and Dre Present...OutKast." Whatever you categorize it as, it was a stellar time.

Big Boi and Dre Present...OutKast

The album opens with Andre 3000 posing as, "Uncle Jesse." An elderly man who wants to share the legend of a group called, "OutKast." They made amazing music and supposedly if you listen, "Real still," you can still hear them out in the forest at night yelling, "Hootie hoo." Then when he tells all us to be quiet, a loud far sound effect happens. It is the sole skit on the LP and as a fan of far jokes I have to admit I find it funny. From there we segue into a new track, "Funkin' Around," which offers one of the first hints how the next album--"Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," would be quite different as Andre says how he's been yelling, "Hip-Hop is dead,"to the puzzlement of others who ask him to prove what he means. Around, "Stankonia," it was apparent Andre was growing bored with rap, and he makes it clear here on, "Big Boi and Andre Present...OutKast," before making good on his threats to do something quite different next LP. Ominous tidings aside, "Funkin' Around is good fun." 

After that, we get a sampling of some big hits and arrive at the LP's big new single that absolutely tore up the charts and helped make Killer Mike quite well-known (he'd been around but this is when he blew up). Yes, "The Whole World." A song about everything from post-9/11 racial anxiety, to general societal stress, romantic complications, and it all sounds very melancholy but the dark lyrics are accompanied by a killer sing-along chorus and some of the most energetic horns you'll ever hear.

OutKast and Killer Mike

The rest of the album is full of other popular tracks including some questionable inclusions. How, "Cumblin' Erb," made it onto this album but, "Hootie Hoo," (also from the first LP) did not will always puzzle me. Also, as if to drive home the point of how, "ATLiens," was supremely weird, only one track from it, "Elevators," manages to be on this pseudo-compilation. The close of this LP provides a song that offers a solid hint of just what kind of direction Andre 3000 would at least be moving in.  "Movin' Cool (The After Party)," is a smooth jazzy track that sounds like practice for, "The Love Below," with its mixture of Andre (and guest artist Joi) singing. Big Boi throws in rap verse, but this song is Andre starting to make it clear what direction he's moving in.

Conclusion

"Big Boi and Andre Present...OutKast," is many things at once without being a single concept. It is a bit of a greatest hits LP even though it came out before what many consider OutKast's best album with their best hits. It is a compilation that includes new tracks. It is a great way for new fans of OutKast to get a feel for the group while longtime fans can find interesting aspects within it worth mining when studying the group (I just did, after all). Whatever you want to say it, "Is," we can all agree it is a great piece of work.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Please Never Offer Unsolicited Parenting Advice to Strangers--A Story About That Happening

Today we went to Walmart (an evil empire for sure, but sometimes it has great deals) to get some grocery items. While there our son, Clarkson, went up to the big coolers that hold frozen foods as he loves to open and close them. It is a newer infatuation of his and he could spend the whole day in there running from cooler to cooler opening and closing the doors with delight. The thing is, we can't stay there all day so often after letting him do it for a bit we will tell him it is time to go. Sometimes he is willing to leave the frozen food area without much protest and other times he gets upset. Today he got upset.

Instead of walking through the rest of the store without being mad, Clarkson yelled loudly and did this thing where he goes limp and tries to use all his body weight as he collapses to the floor so we let go of his hand and he can run back to the coolers. While he was doing this a number of people walking by just smiled as they understood kids can be difficult sometimes. However, an elderly man (probably in his 70's or so) decided to say--when he thought he was out of our earshot no less--"Whack him!" I was a bit further away from the man so I wasn't sure if he had said, "Whacko," or what, but my wife was closer and heard him clearly. She responded, "He has autism, so I don't think we'll whack him." The man grumbled something else as he walked away.

Clarkson and Samii at a fun playtime gym that is ASD-friendly and known as
"Rock the Spectrum."

That man knew nothing about our family, what kind of special needs our son possibly had, or anything else. Still, he felt it necessary to tell some strangers they should hit their child because he saw a toddler who was upset. Even if Clarkson were neurotypical and throwing a fit we still would not strike him as hitting your kids is just a bad idea in general (plenty of research shows that). Why some stranger felt he needed to say his unsolicited parenting advice to us is beyond me. He could've just kept his mouth shut, but chose to make a comment, and for what? To shame us as if we were ineffectual parents? I'm not sure what his main motivation was, but he came across as an ignorant jerk. Please, never offer strangers advice on parenting. You don't know their situation and you aren't helping.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

"Powers Fearful & Divine, "#1 Advance Review

I always enjoy the stuff released by Blue Fox Comics, so when they reached out to ask if I wanted to read the first issue of, "Powers Fearful & Divine," I was excited to do so. It'll be launching a Kickstarter in August and the advance copy I read was quite fun.

"Powers Fearful & Divine," takes a variety of real-life historical figures and imagines them all interacting in a clever manner a bit like, "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," but with actual humans. Houdini and HP Lovecraft essentially team up to try and stop Arthur Conan Doyle and the Spiritualist movement from unleashing a deadly weapon on Earth--with Nikola Tesla possibly being the best hope to create a counter-weapon. It's all very clever and fun to see various historical figures working together (or at odds) and writer Cy Dethan does a great job emulating the, "Voice," of everyone, although considering how miserable a person HP Lovecraft apparently was, he comes off a bit too likeable here. Still, Dethan clearly did their research on everyone, spotlighting how Houdini was famous for trying to disprove anyone who claimed to actually have mystical powers as opposed to doing tricks and illusions.

RHStewart is the artist and their artwork works well for the story. Everything looks suitably, "In the past," as it were and the historical characters look like their real-life counterparts, which is always tricky for artists when they are drawing actual people. Sometimes the style is very minimalist, but it looks good overall. There is a lot of dialogue in the comic, but RHStewart always gives us something interesting to look at with the discussions.

"Powers Fearful & Divine," #1 is a great first issue and has me excited to see what future issues will hold for the historical mash-up of famous figures. It does a great job drawing from actual history and inventing other elements. I'd encourage you to check out Blue Fox Comics website so you can stay updated about when the Kickstarter launches!

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Everyone is Talking About Batman's Sex Life

The internet loves to debate things about Batman. Should he kill the Joker and his worst villains? Would he have benefited more from trauma counseling than dressing up as a vigilante? Could he beat Superman in a fight? One thing that I've never heard argued about is if Batman engages in oral sex. Well, the past couple of days the internet has gone utterly insane due to a certain snippet of news relating to what Batman does or doesn't do sexually.

In an interview with Variety, co-creators and executive producers of the funny (and very adult) cartoon, "Harley Quinn," Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker disclosed one of the few things DC wouldn't let them do. They couldn't have a jokey scene with Batman going down on Catwoman. Apparently, "Heroes don't do that." This news tidbit was picked up and started trending on lots of websites, Twitter, and the like. Are heroes the kind of lovers who don't perform oral sex on others? I know some people don't like that sex act, but I've never had the feeling it was something, "Good," or, "Bad," people did. It's just another piece of sexuality some enjoy (giving or getting) and some don't.

After last year almost nothing surprises me anymore. The blunt question of, "Does batman eat pussy?" becoming a trending topic surprised me. As for my opinion on this matter, I just know Batman has trained himself to be proficient in anything he can. He knows all forms of martial arts, is skilled in tons of sciences, and he pushes himself to the limit in everything. I would think Batman knows how to do anything sexually that a situation calls for. I'll leave it at that.

Monday, June 14, 2021

"Shadow Doctor," Has Been an Amazing Comic

"Shadow Doctor," is published by Aftershock and is based on the true story of writer Peter Calloway's grandfather, Nathaniel Calloway. It follows Nathan as he strives to become a doctor during the prohibition era, can't find work at any hospitals due to being black, and ends up serving as a secret doctor for such mobsters as Al Capone. With art by Georges Jeanty, it has been a fantastic read for the four issues that have come out so far (the final fifth issue is due in July, I believe).

"Shadow Doctor," has been intense as we follow Nathan juggling his desire to practice medicine and help others with his fear he is only helping terrible men do bad things. Peter Calloway is careful to never totally excuse his grandfather's actions or heap scorn on him, he was just a man struggling to survive who did what he felt was necessary to do the most good for others--even if it meant some questionable choices. I'd wholeheartedly recommend reading, "Shadow Doctor," by picking up the issues that have come out or once the trade is released.

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Oh Yeah, E3 is Happening

I should've realized when I posted about the new, "Jurassic World: Evolution 2," game yesterday it was part of all the game announcements we are getting as E3 is happening this weekend. Remember E3? It used to be a massive video-game showcase and announcing event but significantly shrunk over the years and then became more of a streaming event due to the pandemic. It is funny to think how massive a deal E3 used to be and now I just check my videogame news websites this weekend and casually observe, "Oh yeah, that's a thing this weekend." 

Various games are being announced from vampire hunting ones to space RPGs to slime ranching sequels. I don't have time to play games as often, but I do still enjoy keeping up-to-date on what is happening in gaming. E3 may not be as big of a deal anymore, but it is useful for hearing about some new stuff.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

"Jurassic World: Evolution 2," Announced for...This Year?

Normally when a game is announced you can expect it to be in development for some years. That's why I was surprised to read that, "Jurassic World: Evolution 2," is due to come out before the close of 2021. The first game was a fun park-builder with the major selling point that you weren't just building rollercoasters or concessions stands, you were making your own Jurassic Park/World. I quite enjoyed the first game but did eventually grow a bit tired of how it could be clunky at times. A sequel that fixes up the kinks and introduces new elements (underwater Dinos and building customization sound snazzy) is quite welcome. It'll be out on various consoles and PC before we enter into 2022.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Check out the Grand Opening of STL Comics at their New Location This Weekend!

STL Comics has had a physical presence before, but now has moved into an awesome brand-new location! They will be doing a grand opening event starting tomorrow (Saturday) and running through this Sunday. Between 10AM and 5PM this weekend you can go to 4117 Old Highway 94, Saint Charles, 63304, and have a great time. I know I'm gonna swing by for a bit and see what goodies I can find!

Flashback Friday OutKast Edition Volume 4: Stankonia

 Intro

OutKast entered the year 2000 with a new LP. It featured Andre now going by Andre 3000, he and Big Boi actively being involved in every step of the tracks being created, and it was named, "Stankonia," after the name of the studio OutKast had purchased together to make this latest album. It was--as Wikipedia tells it with some reliable sources, "A word created by André 3000 as a portmanteau of the words 'stank', a slang synonym for, 'funky,' and, 'Plutonia,' the title of a poster in his bedroom depicting a futuristic city. He explained, 'Stankonia is this place I imagined where you can open yourself up and be free to express anything.'"

Stankonia

"Stankonia," has some of my favorite OutKast albums ever. It is also my least favorite album by OutKast overall. This leads to some complex feelings about the album and I won't be doing my usual track-by-track examination so much going in-depth with the highlights and lowlights. It is an album with a lot to unpack after all. Without, "Stankonia," we probably would not have gotten the masterpiece, "Speakerboxx/The Love Below." I say that as this features the first hints of Andre moving away from rapping and instead doing more singing or sonic experimentation. It has more instances than in the past of he and Big Boi both doing some tracks solo. Plus, while the earlier OutKast albums don't, "Feel," exactly like they come from a specific time period, "Stankonia," undoubtedly sounds like a 2000-era LP in one big aspect of how it is overloaded with skits.

Skits on albums seemed to be extremely huge in the late 90s and hit an apex of sorts in the 2000s. Rock albums, rap albums, they were there a lot. They've evolved/mostly faded away in terms of being comedy-focused and OutKast even had them somewhat on their earlier albums, but they were more sporadic and less comedic--they often just were used to introduce or segue into songs. The skits on, "Stankonia," range from some potty humor, to jokes about sex, drugs, nothing awful but little to amaze your ears. There are some tracks that utterly astound listeners, however.

I said, "Stankonia," has some of my favorite tracks ever made by OutKast, and when I say some of those songs you understand why. "So Fresh, So Clean," "B.O.B." AKA, "Bombs over Baghdad," and of course, "Ms. Jackson." These tracks are just masterpieces. "So Fresh, So Clean," is a little raunchy without outright being filthy and has the best little beat. "B.O.B." is a kind of rap-meets-rock combo that was about the futility of war and became all too topical when America invaded Iraq a second time some years later. Then, "Ms. Jackson," what else can be said about that track that others besides me haven't said better? It's vulnerable and a bit angry. It was a very real song as Andre came up with it as a ballad to the mother of Erykah Badu. He had a child with Badu and wanted the mother to know he felt he was doing his best as a father (for those curious, Badu's mother loved the song). I won't spend this whole post just talking about that one song, but know that I could.

Those are some amazing songs, but I said that, "Stankonia," was my least favorite OutKast album, and the lack of much that outright astounds me the rest of the LP is why. Other stuff is perfectly good, but with OutKast you normally expect everything to be more than good, generally. We've got the political, "Gasoline Dreams," the trippy, "Humble Mumble," an early appearance by Killer Mike on, "Snappin' & Trappin," but some tracks really drag. "We Luv Deez Hoez," sound more like a rejected, "2 Live Crew," track than something OutKast would have made. "Gangsta Shit," is dull, "Spaghetti Junction," lacks oomph too. I just find myself alternating between amazement at my favorite tracks and being horrifically underwhelmed with many other songs. The fantastic songs are some of the group's best, however, as I keep saying.

Conclusion

It's an odd experience, listening to Stankonia more than 20 years after its release and finding my first impression of when I heard it (a bit after it came out) is basically the same. There is cream that rises to the top and a lot of tracks I consider to be okay, but a bit skippable. Following, "Stankonia," was something that wasn't quite a, "Greatest Hits," album or a brand-new LP, it was, "Big Boi and Dre Present...OutKast." I'll cover it next week.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

I Greatly Enjoyed the First Three Issues of, "Harrier."

I always love supporting indie comic creators and here in Saint Louis I met Thomas Moran--the creator and writer of the comic, "Harrier." With artist Andrew Henry (issue 1) and Diego Albuquerque (issue 2 & 3) they have been able to put out three issues so far of, "Harrier," and I like what I have read! The series follows a detective named Olvia Jones who becomes embroiled in a massive conspiracy between shadowy organizations and the CIA--of which her father was once a member.

The first issue lays out who Oliva is and puts her through a lot of danger which she recovers from in the second issue (as best she can) and then the third issue is loaded with action as Olvia becomes the experimental, "Harrier," in order to protect a fellow detective from danger. I liked the third issue the most as it was full of cool super-powered fighting and felt like a big release after all the build-up in the earlier issues.

Andrew Henry's artwork is solid, sometimes a little minimalist and abstract but in a manner where everything still looks quite good. Diego Albuquerque is great as well and I love the action he illustrates in the third issue, as I mentioned. Between Moran's writing and Herny's illustrations, I found, "Harrier," to be an engaging read. You can find digital copies on Comixology or visit the Facebook page and message it for physical copies.

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Chris Harrison is Done with the, "Bachelor," Franchise

To quote a clever comment I saw online, "Chris, take a moment and say your goodbyes."

That's right, after being with the franchise from the start, Chris Harrison is officially leaving, "The Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor in Paradise/etc." I honestly thought he would be back after a taking break, but per Deadline, he's done and getting a fat check to keep his mouth closed about all the dirt he has. Is it wrong a piece of me wishes a deal weren't reached and he wrote a tell-all book? I mean, this guy undoubtedly knows where the bodies are buried and (allegedly) demanded 25 million to go quietly. For those who don't follow all the hot gossip about this show, Harrison made some mistakes a while ago when he defended a show's participant for attending a racist party and it was all quite awkward.

If I may steal another quote, "The rose has wilted," but at least we are getting some fun guest hosts in the meantime. David Spade, Lil Jon, Lance Bass, and other random people who apparently love the show and answered the phone when they were called shall be present for the upcoming, "Bachelor in Paradise," season, so that's nice. I've always had such a love-hate relationship with this show, but damn if it doesn't entertain me--whether it's the on-camera antics or all this behind-the-scenes drama!

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Television Tuesday: " Loki," Premieres Tomorrow

 

It's about the end of Tuesday and I'm about to discuss a show coming out on Wednesday. That show is, "Loki," the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe offering in Disney+ episodic form. Early reviews are enthusiastic and Tom Hiddleston is always a treat on the screen whether he's a trickster God, famous author F. Scott Fitzgerald, or he could read a phonebook and it'd be great. Now, this version of, Loki we see in, "Loki," is one who didn't pop up in a chunk of the other films as that iteration died in, "Infinity War," and then this one was in, "Endgame," when they traveled through time and accidentally gave the tesseract back to the Loki from way back in the first, "Avengers." Yes, it is confusing even if you read a whole article explaining it. I think the main idea of this show is that we get a mischievous Loki, there's time travel, and we're going to have some fun. 

Plus, Owen Wilson is present, he's a good actor too and actually worked with Hiddleston in the aforementioned, "Midnight in Paris." How weirdly cosmic that movie involved time travel and now here we are again with a vaguely similar theme. Anyways, Loki drops in the early morning of tomorrow. I'll be snoozing at the official release time but plan to view it soon after, perhaps with some breakfast toast!

Monday, June 7, 2021

Bad Idea Comics is Ending, but is it Really?

Bad Idea Comics is a publisher I have followed with a close eye. They release comics directly to stores with specific rules and their comics have been quite good--although that fact is often overshadowed by the FOMO of how they can be hard to get. That has resulted in them being a huge market on eBay and the like. Has the company itself been successful though? It seemed that way, but suddenly today I and others got a press email stating that at the conclusion of 2021 we would see the end of Bad Idea. I don't buy it.

Bad Idea loves to do weird promotions or otherwise troll people. Much of the internet is convinced this is all a ploy--despite what some creators for the company may claim--and 2022 will see this publisher perhaps, "Relaunching," with a new name or different distribution methodology that is more traditional. Basically, almost everybody is saying stuff like, "Guess we're getting, 'Good Idea Comics,' in 2022, eh?" Even the email says, "...as we know it," in regards to Bad Idea ending. This isn't a complete death of a publisher as we have seen on many occasions, this is most likely a rebranding. There is a 1% chance the company is actually folding, but I'm pretty sure Bad Idea is doing this to get people talking about it again, and here I and the rest of the web am, doing just that. Well played, Bad Idea, well played.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

June 2021 News and Links

 Hot as Summer...but not Quite Summer

It isn't officially Summer in terms of the laws of science until June 21st. That said, it has been as hot as Summer here in Saint Louis after a May that started cool and warmed up with gusto. Now we've got some heat and while you're hopefully kicking back someplace cool you can enjoy these links.

News, Links, You Know the Drill

Penguin Random House is really working at appealing to comic shops as the go-to resource for Marvel publications--and more! They'll be selling comic-book supplies such as bags and boards (with no shipping costs, unlike Diamond). Considering how mediocre a discount Diamond will offer stores on Marvel products who buy wholesale from them it just makes sense to go with PRH in most cases.

This article about how, "Sinead O'Connor Remembers Things Differently," points out how we maybe should've listened to her more in the past as she was right about a lot of stuff--remember when she spoke out against the Catholic church for sexual abuse before that became a big story? Now she's basically living in isolation and just enjoying a quiet life between working on music--although she plans to retire from that soon too--I'm glad she is happy.

NFTs always seemed dumb, and the market has collapsed compared to other months. Is anyone surprised?

I've always enjoyed our local Chesterfield Mall, but it has been struggling and is going to be heavily retooled in the near future, as this article discusses. This story could apply to many malls in America.

In other Saint Louis regional news, native of the area Ellie Kemper didn't win a KKK beauty pageant at age 19 before entering acting, but she did win a contest our city holds for only wealthy elites (most of whom are white) that I never even knew existed as I'm not a wealthy elite. It's called the, "Veiled Prophet Ball," and it sounds bonkers.

Wait, Netflix spent 200 million on that, "Jupiter's Legacy," show that everyone said was awful and looked cheap? I mean, the main draw of the first series for me was Frank Quitely's artwork and as live action show obviously lacks that. Mark Millar just often doesn't write very good stuff but his adaptations tend to better than his actual comics. That didn't happen this time, but maybe with the next Netflix endeavor based on his work, "Supercrooks." Maybe.

Record Store Day this year is actually two days--June 12th and July 17th. As someone who has an affection for music in a physical format (love me some vinyl, cassettes, and CDs) I would encourage you to support your local record store on these days--or any day, really!

"Cancel culture!" is often a cry hollered by those mad about being held accountable for their actions/statements. Comedian Katt Williams is a man known for being outrageous and confrontational in his humor and he especially for loves to get a rise out of others. He was asked for his thoughts on the subject of, "Cancel Culture," and before you worry he said something tone-deaf he gave an extremely thoughtful and reasonable response. It shows how you can be edgy or controversial without being a jerk.

Finally, I must admit that the, "Cruella," movie did not utterly bomb as I thought it might. It did decently in theaters and as a Disney+ extra-cost rental. That said, it took a great villain who didn't need a complex origin or to be redeemed and still tried to do so for reasons that seem more like a cash-grab than anything else.

Enjoy Summer Once it Officially Starts!

Soon it will truly be Summer and I hope we all have a good one!

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Marvel Is Announcing Various Comics and Some Caught my Eye

Marvel has been announcing new comics and creative teams. One that just was revealed and which has scant details so far would be, "The Death of Doctor Strange," which sounds ominous but also unlikely to actually happen as he's got that movie coming up--perhaps we'll be surprised. Jonathan Hickman stopped writing the main, "X-Men," title but will be doing, "Inferno," as Mystique goes and tries to burn everything the Mutants on Krakoa have built to the ground. Al Ewing and Ram V are both fantastic writers and will be taking on, "Venom," (art by Bryan Hitch) while Donny Cates is going to writing a new, "Hulk," comic with Ryan Ottley on art. If upon reading that you asked, "Wait, are Al Ewing and Donny Cates essentially swapping books/characters?" then the answer is yes, yes they essentially are.

Considering how amazing Al Ewing has been on, "The Immortal Hulk," I'm excited to see what he and Ram V have in store for, "Venom." I usually like Cates stuff so I'm hopeful for his, "Hulk," run but he has quite the act to follow after Ewing's stuff. Marvel probably has more stuff coming down the pipeline for the Fall, so we'll see what else is revealed these coming days.