Wednesday, May 18, 2022

We've Got a, "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law," Trailer

Yesterday the full trailer for, "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law," dropped. I watched it and found myself intrigued by the plot (people who work in the legalities of superheroes), excited for Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk, and a bit concerned by how the CGI just looked...off. Give it a look below:

I know the actual show's release is a bit of a way off, so perhaps they can tweak the CGI so it looks like it belongs in the scenes where Walters is She-Hulk and it appears less out of place. Besides that, I'm eager to see this mix of workplace comedy, superhero shenanigans, and a bit of romance too (it appears). I may have concerns about some of the special effects, but otherwise, I am eager for this and hope it is good! It'll be on Disney+ around August, I believe.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

I Don't Collect the Funko Sodas Much, but This One is Clever

I collect a lot less Funko Pops these days (focusing on specific lines I like) and don't really collect the Funko Sodas much even though they are snazzy. They are these little figures in faux-soda cans that you pop open and see if you got a regular figure or the rarer, "Chase." However, a new one is going to be bigger so instead of a can it will be in a, "3 Liter," bottle as can be seen above. That is cute and hilarious. It is, of course, the Wampa from, "The Empire Strikes Back," that finds itself on the wrong end of a lightsaber. Considering that is arguably the best, "Star Wars," film I would say a figure from it deserves a unique little soda bottle.

Monday, May 16, 2022

That Teaser For the New Predator Movie, "Prey," is Snazzy

I'm not going to get my hopes up too much over a 45-second teaser trailer, but the new Predator-themed movie titled, "Prey," does have a spiffy one. I am a big fan of the, "Alien," movies as well as the, "Predator," ones so it pains me sometimes to admit both have had more medicore-to-bad flicks than good--including the ones where they fight (although the first AVP is kind of dumb fun). Here is the teaser:

The last movie to feature a Predator was simply titled, 'The Predator," and reading the behind-the-scenes drama about how it got made was more interesting than the movie itself. Then there were rumors a movie about a Comanche warrior facing off against a monster was secretly a Predator movie from a director known for liking to keep his flicks kind of secretive, Dan Trachtenberg of the mostly-good-till-the-end, "10 Cloverfield Lane.

I am all for a Predator-themed movie set in the past that tosses out a bunch of the extra continuity we got in, "Predators," or, "The Predator," and just focuses on what the first two movies did well--a creepy alien hunting people in an extremely unfair manner thanks to all its weaponry. I can't say for sure if, "Prey," will do that, but if it does then it already has a big leg-up over a chunk of the other Predator films. We shall see when it premieres (on Hulu of all places) this coming August 5th.

I Tried Nitro Pepsi Draft Cola and it Was Definitely...Different

I generally don't like Pepsi. It just is not a beverage I'm a fan of drinking. That said, I love a good gimmick soda and when I heard Pesi was doing, "Nitro Draft Cola," in a manner riffing on those Nitro coffees folks love, I was down to give it a taste. I sampled the Vanilla one and my overwhelming response is a shrug followed by an, "Eh?" It wasn't bad, it just seemed like Pepsi that was really foamy (with some vanilla in this version) and otherwise, it was uninspiring. If you love Pepsi this might be a drink you adore, but those who are Pepsi haters such as myself are not going to be converted. Now, if they made a Nitro Coca-Cola I'd be quite interested, but as of now, that's just going to be a daydream.

2 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Fan Expo Saint Louis 2022 Thoughts

Have you ever been really excited about going to something but then once it happens, you feel kind of let down and realize it isn't your scene? I attended the Fan Expo Saint Louis (formerly known as Wizard World) and imagine people who went for things different than what I was after enjoyed it. If you want to wait in a line to see a celebrity and pay for them to sign a picture of themselves, then this show had you covered. I just said hello to Charles Martinet (the voice of Mario whom I've met before) because he's a cool guy, Jason Mewes because he also is a cool guy (we've chatted at other shows), and met Carl Weathers as the line wasn't too long for him and he was nice too. 

There were plenty of vendors, but almost none with actual comics. There were maybe three vendors with some comic books--it was slim pickings. There were a couple booths selling Funk Pops, so that was fun, but otherwise, it was lots of random booths with those obnoxious, "Mystery boxes," of junk, cosplay props, random knick-knacks, and maybe one booth with like cool old toys and such. Maybe I'm just jaded from all the great local shows full to the brim with awesome stuff for sale, but this was not a show to go to if you were after comics, toys (besides Funko Pops), or collectibles, and that's what I really like at cons. It was a bummer.

The saving grace for me (in terms of something fun) would be the artist alley. There were lots of awesome creators from bigger names to smaller ones. I got to see Jae Lee, Peter Tomasi, Tony Harris, Michael Golden, Ariel Diaz, Howard Mackie, Talen Caldwell, and more. That was neat to see a chunk of folks behind an assortment of cool comics and chat with them. They had lots of neat comics of their own for sale and original artwork and prints as well.

If you're someone who is big on the whole concept of, "Wow, famous people!" and the cult of celebrity as opposed to just thinking of them as regular humans who are known for acting in stuff, then as I said you probably would love this Fan Expo. That isn't a draw for me, however, and the lack of merchants selling actual stuff that I was after resulted in me just kind of milling about the one thing that did interest me--artist alley. Besides being able to admire some great artwork and compliment creators on the comics they've made that I have enjoyed I was just mostly bored. There was so much at Fan Expo in terms of booths, yet so little of it interested me. 

Assuming Fan Expo returns next year I'll probably sit it out and instead focus on other shows I'm more into like ToyMan, QuadCon, and so forth. At least the Saint Louis Comic-Con (which is oddly enough held in Saint Charles) is coming up in June and that's always a fun time. I guess I'm just not the demographic for what Wizard World morphed into. As I said, I'm sure other people loved this Fan Expo Saint Louis, but my highlight of the day was when I stepped out from the show and tried the, "Hi-Pointe," restaurant located nearby. That place was legit and after enjoying their food I can see why they've opened multiple locations in the area. Anyways, the show goes through Sunday if you're around the STL region and want to check it out. I'll be up to other things.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Flashback/Film Friday: Considering the Varying Tones of the, "Friday the 13th," Franchise

Today is, in fact, May 13th and it is a Friday. It is Friday the 13th.  The origins of why the day is considered unlucky have variations, but nowadays folks just find themselves wary upon any Friday the 13ths. I have never found I have especially bad luck on such a day and instead associate it with one of my favorite horror franchises. Yes, "Friday the 13th," is quite the storied line, with essentially 12 movies that feature the branding or star the slasher, Jason Vorhees. Interestingly enough, the movies don't just vary immensely in quality (as to be expected), they have intriguingly different tones flick-by-flick.

The first, "Friday the 13th," barely has Jason, he's more of a victim than anything. His mother is the killer and folks forget that. The flick is creepy and eerie with brief moments of gore but nothing like some of the later films. "Part II," introduces Jason as the killer and is also a creepy and dark yarn. "Part III," was originally in 3D and relies on some lame kills that maybe looked better with that effect but frankly I find the third entry to be dull (the jokes fall flat as well) and only notable as the entry in the franchise that introduces Jason's famous hockey mask. Thankfully, "Part IV: The Final Chapter," is my second favorite of films, giving us characters we actually care about in a story that is entertaining. Up to this point the movies have been relatively minimalist horror films, a gross-out misfire, and another solid entry. The tone hasn't shifted much, yet, but it does before long.

Let's not talk about the fifth film, "A New Beginning," much as it is boring and reveals the killer isn't even Jason. It tries to be a slow burn of creepiness but is drab. However, then we hit, "VI: Jason Lives," which is awesome. Part VI hits the perfect tonal balance of some horror, some humor, a helping of fun action scenes, and just is a treat to watch. Suddenly everything gets a bit science-fiction with, "VII: The New Blood," as it is basically, "What if a girl with telekinesis like Carrie fought Jason?" It isn't bad, it is just strange. "VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan," is basically just Jason killing folks in gruesome ways on a boat with a few minutes actually spent in New York City. It tries to be funny at points but marks--in my opinion--the point the franchise started going downhill.

"Jason Goes to Hell," is the ninth film. I've discussed before how it is awful. It starts with a promising idea--Jason is actually killed by a Government task force--but then goes off the rails with the introduction of magical possession, Jason having a secret sister, horrendously lame humor, weak special effects, and it just sucks. It is followed by, "Jason X," which imagines Jason in space, and if you take it as it is--a dumb silly movie mixing sci-fi with jokes--it isn't awful. The incredibly mediocre, "Freddy vs. Jason," only works as well as it does thanks to the power of nostalgia and mixes the silly-and-scary to a decent degree as it tones down both characters' weirder aspects to make them mesh together in a single film as they go head-to-head.

In 2009 there was a reboot of sorts simply titled, "Friday the 13th." It was completely unremarkable and not bad, I just remember basically zero things about it. It was just a generic horror movie with Jason wedged into it. That's been it since then as the franchise had some legal disputes over the rights. Whether we ever get another, "Friday the 13th," remains to be seen, but it would be ironic if the unkillable Jason were finally stopped by intellectual property disputes. As it is, the franchise leaves behind an interesting assortment of films.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

"Grim," #1 is a Great Start to the Latest Big BOOM! Release

The publisher BOOM! has put out a number of quality titles for some years now with, "Something is Killing the Children," being one of their most massive hits lately. The next big release is unrelated to that Universe but also has a bit of a snazzy horror vibe. Titled, "Grim," it gives us a lot to chew on in a jam-packed first issue that left me eager to read more. Sometimes comics get going too slowly, but, "Grim," just hits the ground running. Thanks for this is owed to writer Stephanie Phillips who isn't afraid to have us readers asking questions with answers coming (assumably) later. 

We are introduced to a grim reaper named Jessica Harrow who can't remember how she died but now, along with other reapers, claims souls who are dead. She takes one such recently deceased person over a River Styx of sorts to an otherworldly waiting room and then some other fun little plot twists happen to really pique our interest too. It was good stuff. 

Props are also due to Flaviano, the artist, and Rico Renzi, the colorist. The illustrations are fantastic, making the, "Real world," and the world of Death/afterlife/etc. both stand out as different and intriguing. The deep reds we often witness in the post-life realm are eerie and the supernatural elements coexist with the grounded stuff stupendously thanks to the art and colors. It's a gorgeous comic.

The first issue of, "Grim," gives us the basic plot, establishes some delicious mysteries, and has fantastic art and colors. It is a marvelous first issue and I look forward to seeing where the series goes. I give this debut...

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Happy National Twilight Zone Day!

I know sometimes it feels like we might be living in some version of The Twilight Zone, but today we actually kind of are! It is May 11th, National Twilight Zone Day! Created by Rod Serling, "The Twilight Zone," has had multiple iterations but I love the first series. Every episode is its own little yarn and while not every tale is a winner, many are amazing. A stellar piece of sci-fi (and sometimes dipping its toe in horror), "The Twilight Zone," inspired so many other people and stories--you've probably seen something that draws inspiration from, "The Twilight Zone," and have not even known it!

Why is May 11th the day we celebrate this show? Nobody seems to actually know. The reason it is today seems to be as mysterious as, "The Twilight Zone," itself. Whatever the reason, spend today watching some original episodes, the movie, or one of the rebooted versions if you'd like!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Television Tuesday: My Overall Thoughts on the, "Moon Knight," Show

Note: I spoil basically all the twists from the show in this post.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say we will be getting another season of, "Moon Knight," or some kind of movie to flesh things out further. There were too many little things left unanswered and one really big moment in the post-credit scene. Plus, May Calamawy is too good when she beomces a hero, the Scarlet Scarab, to not bring her back in another, "Moon Knight," project or with her own show/movie! Yes, Marc's wife, Layla, becomes a hero that actually existed in the comics years ago (as a male), and she kicks butt. That's in the final episode, however, which I quite liked and was pleased tied everything together. Even if the last episode was quite good, how was the show overall? Odd, but I enjoyed it.

We honestly did not get a ton of Moon Knight in, "Moon Knight." Besides some suited-up action in the 2nd episode and a whole lot of him in the finale, the suit (or suits, as Steven wears the Mr. Knight outfit) was/were used sparingly. The show was instead an interestingly blend of genres as it told the story of Marc Spector and Steven Grant, seeming a bit like a wonky action-comedy with slight horror vibes in the first episode, turning into more of an adventure-filled romp for the second and third entry. I was enjoying the show through the first three episodes but not really finding my attention that piqued. Then things got very weird, and I liked that. Throughout it all Oscar Issac was amazing too, carrying the show through the duller times.

May Calamawy makes a great hero.

The fourth episode was filled with creepy tomb raiding before pulling the rug out from underneath all of us (when Marc/Steven seem to die) and putting Marc and Steven in a surreal psychological thriller mixed with a sci-fi afterlife via a kinda-sorta mental hospital. The fifth episode kept that vibe going and was really depressing as we saw all the trauma Marc went through and then genres switched again with the finale. Suddenly we have giant versions of Egpytian avatars fighting as if we were watching a Kaiju flick and the aforementioned moments of Layla becoming a hero happen as well as tons of kickass action. I was having a great time watching the final episode but felt a little annoyed when everything seemed to be wrapped up with a tidy bow. Then that scene happened after some credits with Jake Lockley and a big smile filled my face.

The, "Moon Knight," show has been quite different from the comics, but that's okay as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always tweaked a lot from the funnybooks they draw from. That said, Marc Spector has also had the alias/identities of Steven Grant plus Jake Lockley. The show hinted at Jake but never actually revealed him until that delicious last moment of the show where it turns out Jake has indeed been hanging around all along and is quite the troublemaker. Steven is quite different than in the comics and Jake seems a bit removed from his four-panel inspirations as well, but he still has the hat, so I'm happy. Seeing Jake raises a whole bunch of questions and I want to get some answers in a future season or movie! Plus, again, props are due to Oscar Issac for essentially playing two major roles in the form of Marc and Steven and then a third persona being added to the mix at the end just shows how much range Issac has. He and Calamawy did a ton of heavy lifting for the show and Ethan Hawke was a solid villain if a bit under-utilized considering how talented he is.

Oh snap, Jake Lockley!

In conclusion, "Moon Knight," was overall a good time that slowly turned into a great one. It dipped its toes in various genres and took a little bit to get going but as soon as it let itself get weird and trippy I was pleased. It is a little annoying how it starts strong, then drags a bit until the last third of the fourth episode, but it does eventually kick into a fantastic overdrive of bizarre and exciting from that ending of episode four and on. The entire show is worth watching, just be prepared to get through the duller moments for the really wild ones.

4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Honestly, Does Anyone Care About a New, "Avatar," Movie?

James Cameron made a film called, "Avatar." It was decently entertaining and had really good special effects but otherwise was quite forgettable. Many people said the plot was basically, "Dances with Wolves," and the dialogue and plot was clunky (they literally called the valuable mineral the humans were after unobtanium). "Avatar," was--for reasons still beyond me and others--a massive hit that made a ton of money. Then it barely left any kind of cultural footprint besides looking pretty. I seriously cannot member the names of any of the characters the actors played beyond the main one, Jake Sully. I only remember that because when I hear, "Sully," I think of the, "Monsters' Inc." movies. For years we were promised a sequel to, "Avatar," and everyone shrugged at the idea. Now, we have to face the fact that it is actually happening with, "Avatar: The Way of Water."

I saw the trailer for, "Avatar: The Way of Water," when I saw the new, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," flick. Upon watching the trailer all I could do was mutter under my breath, "Who is asking for this?" Here is the preview if you want to see it:

Yeah, that definitely looks like a movie. Not a movie that will necessarily be bad, by any means. It just looks like one that will have great effects and keep us busy for a couple hours...and then is promptly forgotten after a viewing. As you can tell, I'm not very enthusiastic about, "Avatar: The Way of Water," but it should be a perfectly fine movie. Just one nobody asked for.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Happy Mother's Day to All the Moms and Mother Figures!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms and mother figures out there. I love my mom, Ellen, and the mother of our son, Clarkson, the wonderful Samii. All of you mothers and those who have served a motherly role are awesome!

Saturday, May 7, 2022

George Perez Has Passed

I learned earlier today that George Perez has passed at 67. He died yesterday after having previously disclosed he had pancreatic cancer and would be going on hospice. During the limited time we knew we had left with him fans gave Perez an outpouring of love. Also, "JLA/Avengers," was reprinted against all odds with profits going to the Hero Initiative, an organization of which Perez was a huge advocate. We all knew this was coming after Perez told us, but it still stings. I met Perez back in 2013 at Project Comic-Con and he was a delight. He chatted eagerly with attendees and made the most gorgeous sketches at astonishing speed. Perez was an amazing artist and an awesome guy. I'm tired of saying this--as I just said it about Neal Adams--he will be missed.

Film Friday on a Saturday: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

A local theater actually had a very early showing of, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," yesterday. For that reason, I was able to catch it at 10AM with my friend, Doug. Doug and I both enjoy Marvel flicks and he loves the works of Sam Rami (who directs this feature). I wanted to give it a day for the movie to settle in mind so I'm posting my review on a Saturday. Also, as this is still fresh in theaters I will offer some spoiler-free thoughts and then more spoiler-filled observations before my conclusion.

Relatively Spoiler-Free Segment
This is what you get if you marry the Marvel Universe with a horror movie. Rami has experience with both genres and to this film's credit, it doesn't feel too much like a bland, "House style," Marvel project in the same manner that, say, "Avengers: Endgame," was. I will forever say I liked that film well enough but found it to be a slog. The creepy imagery and visceral fight scenes honestly made me a little surprised this squeaked by with a PG-13 rating considering just how nasty stuff could get. 

I am of the apparently small number of people who really liked the first, "Doctor Strange," and this has a very different vibe but still features Benedict Cumberbatch doing a solid job balancing arrogance and humanity in his portrayal of Dr. Stephen Strange. Plus, it isn't spoilery to share (as they feature in the previews) that Elizabeth Olsen does a lovely job as Wanda Maximoff and Xochitl Gomez is a delight as a newcomer to the MCU, America Chavez. Rachel McAdams is back as Dr. Christine Palmer, but feels as criminally underutilized as she was in the first flick considering how talented she is. Between the great special effects and fantastic acting, what could I have been less-than-impressed by? For that, we need to discuss the plot a bit more and move into my spoiler-filled segments.

Spoilers Ahead
I and others have been kind of bummed that, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," basically takes Wanda's story of someone living through tragedy and trauma the best they can and casts it all aside to make her a villain. For this film she literally turns into a blood-stained horror movie slasher, killing tons of people who get in her way whilst stalking her would-be victims through hallways as she snarls and her eyes glow their creepy red hue. Despite some efforts to make us feel a little bad for her--"I'm not a monster, I'm a mother!" she is still murdering a slew of folks in an effort to then kill America Chavez and use her powers to find a reality where she can have her children from, "Wandavision," that she lost as they didn't really, "Exist," in her reality.

Also, there is the much-buzzed-about Illuminati which features some fun actors stepping into roles such as fan-favorite Patrick Stewart returning as Professor X and John Krasinski appears as a universe's Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. These and other appearances sadly are little more than cameos as the whole Illuminati essentially finds itself reduced to cannon fodder for Wanda. The exact continuity of these characters isn't really touched upon further (such as if we will get Krasinski as Mr. Fantastic in the main Marvel Universe now with that movie on the way) and they are basically big helpings of fan-service...before their brutal murders. If a viewer thinks of them more as a fun bonus addition to the flick as opposed to expecting them to play a huge role it isn't a big issue they are around so briefly, however.

Concluding Thoughts (No More Spoilers)
"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," is a fun movie filled with personality thanks to Sam Rami's skill and little flourishes. Even if certain elements of the story itself perturbed me the amazing effects and great acting makes it a lovely way to spend 2 hours and some change. Just be prepared for some shockingly gross and scary imagery. Those with sensitive stomachs or who dislike horror may need to sit this one out. Those into that kind of stuff will love this, however. Oh, and Doug thought it was great too.
4 out of 5 stars.

It is Free Comic Book Day!

Today, the first Saturday in May, is Free Comic Book Day! It is always a fun day where publishers release special comics which the shops then distribute at no cost! Many comic stores participate so go to a comic shop and get some free comics! Keep in mind that they don't get the books for free so maybe buy something too so that you can show your support. Now, go get some free comics!

Friday, May 6, 2022

Film Friday: This Documentary about the KLF Looks Fascinating

The KLF was a music group that made all kinds of fascinating and wild jams. They were making mash-ups before that was even a word. This article discusses how soon a documentary will be coming out all about the KLF and their zany story. Titled, "Who Killed the KLF?" they arguably destroyed themselves if one knows a little of their history, with the two members intentionally deleting their entire catalog at one point. There is undoubtedly a lot to the story, however, and when this documentary is released it'll be interesting to hear some answers!

Thursday, May 5, 2022

The Fan Expo for Saint Louis is a Bit More Than a Week Away

Fan Expo Saint Louis will run from Friday, May 13th of 2022 to Sunday, May 15th. Formerly known as Wizard World, I went to plenty of those and had a lot of fun. Therefore, I am eager to attend the Fan Expo in a bit more than a week! There are going to be so, so many celebrities at the show. From Ron Perlman to Michael Rooker, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes to Billy West and Charles Martinet, it is going to be quite the event! I didn't even name all the folks in attendance just then either. We've got a bunch of the cast of, "Smallville," Carl Weathers, Luci Christian, Nolan North, and the list goes on! 

It isn't just celebrities at the show, of course, there will be vendors of comics, toys, video-games, and other goodies as well as gaming, cosplay, panels, and plenty of fun. I am excited to attend and hope to see some of you all there!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Today is a Big Day for Star Wars Lovers

The original expression is, "May the force be with you." Then the fan holiday of May 4th came about because it sounds similar when you say, "May the fourth be with you." Over time as with lots of things individuals come up with corporations have gotten involved and now May 4th is basically the biggest official holiday for fans of the Star Wars franchise. I have enjoyed the Star Wars-related stuff I have seen but am by no means an expert. It is cool to have a Star Wars-related day though!

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Abortion Rights Look Like They Are Going to Be Overturned in a Massive Step Backward for the Nation

I could go on about this for hours so I will try to be relatively succinct. A draft majority opinion leaked from the Supreme Court indicates that the conservative majority will be overturning Roe and abortion rights will lose all Federal protections. Yes, Justices who claimed that abortion rights were, "Settled law," or had, "Precedents," were, of course, lying and legislating from the bench with their own personal views impacting National policy. You know, lots of conservatives claims they value privacy and liberty and hate justices who let politics influence their decisions, but as soon as it comes to abortion, LGBTQ+ rights, and the like they love the Federal Government getting in people's business. I am disgusted. CNN keeps updating the news as things evolve, but the outlook is not promising.

Apparently, women or people who identify with other gender identities but who can give birth are nothing more than ovaries and uteruses on legs. We can't trust them to make their own decisions about their body and now it is a decision states get to make with about half of them chomping at the bit to ban abortion in almost all cases. I have been open in the past about my own family's struggle with losing a pregnancy and how because we had a heartbeat even if there was no way to have a viable baby we had to have what essentially counted as an abortion. I wrote back in 2020 this paragraph in my post about that:

"Even if we lived in a state that had outlawed abortion the procedures would have been allowed as this was a medical situation, but it is scary to think how much more paperwork there could have been or how much longer things could have taken. Samii could have died due to too much legal junk, and there was already a lot of legal junk we had to sign while sobbing because we wanted this baby, we just couldn't have it. Sometimes people who lose their babies become very anti-abortion. If anything, this has shown me how private a choice it is for a family to decide if they have to terminate a pregnancy or not. This is something that should be up to a family and their doctors. The doctors told us everything and it was clear after having all the facts laid-out there was no way to keep Samii and this baby alive. We truly appreciate everything all medical teams at Mercy and BJC did. We were in the midst of one of the hardest weeks of our lives and being given accurate facts and data allowed us to know what to do in order to save the life of my wife."

Now, however, plenty of people will have the Government sticking its nose in their extremely private and extremely painful moments. This is a violation of civil rights and as others online have pointed out, this is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Supreme Court overturning other rulings such as ones that granted the right of same-sex marriage. It seems like instead of a United Country we want to have little conservative fiefdoms carved out in some states that forbid any progress made in the last 50 years or so. I'm outraged, feel sick, and would say I'm shocked, but I'm not. This has been the endgame of the Right-wing for decades. They kept slithering their way into power and chipping away at abortion rights until they could break out the sledgehammer. They would go on about personal liberty, taxes, and jobs, but then use their power to fight any kind of social progress. Here we are in 2022 and abortion rights look like they're due to be overturned shortly with other progress soon to follow.

Monday, May 2, 2022

The Embracer Group Keeps Snatching Up Game Publishers

A publisher I've barely heard about keeps quietly buying up other game-makers. This fascinating article on Kotaku by Ethan Gach explains who the company known as the Embracer Group is and how they've been scooping up game publishers for years and then having them make decent games that then turn a tidy profit and keep Embracer Group making dough. They are getting more press as they just bought some studios from Square Enix and the rights that come with the deal. Eidos, Crystal Dynamics, and Square Enix Montreal are all getting sold by Square Enix proper and IPs such as Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Thief, Legacy of Kain/Soul Reaver, and more are now going to be under the control of Embracer.

Embracer seems eager to let these studios keep chugging along making games (as appears to be the case with previous acquisitions that didn't get too much shaken up either). Hopefully, this won't lead to nasty lay-offs or a bunch of drama and will lead to some cool new games getting made.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

The ToyMan Show of May 2022 Was a Delight!

I was unable to attend the last ToyMan Show in March so I was extra eager to swing by the one today that kicked off May! I started the show by chatting with my friend John Chaffe of Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles as well as my good chum Spike from Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles. I ran into Vince of VK Toys and got to see Tom of Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games. Larry of Bug's Comics and Games had a ton of great stuff for sale as well. After chatting with my friend Tim Metzger at his spot I got a great deal on some comics from Dustin White and Tamara Gassert at their booth. Check out my finds:

That beat-up, "Moon Knight," #1 was just ten dollars and I can't say no to a Moon Knight comic! In the upstairs area I saw the good folks from Heroes for Kids from Perryville and Lindsay Hornsy was selling her awesome books from the Mega Giganto imprint. I chatted with creators and friends Jennifer Stolzer and Jessica Mathews about how Planet Comic-Con was (it happened recently and I didn't have the time to attend). I also picked up the latest book from them, "The Old Man and the Pirate Princess Meet a Magical Menace." It just came out and I am excited to read it to Clarkson! Give it a look:

The ToyMan Show is always incredible fun. If I were to ever offer a, "Complaint," about the show it would be how there is just so much stuff that you could never have enough time to check out all the awesome things for sale! Between the new toys, vintage toys, Funko products, Lego, comics, movies, model kits, and more it is just a show that is jam-packed with great items! You can visit the show's website here and start planning for the next one on July 10th of 2022!

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Neal Adams Has Passed

Neal Adams has died at the age of 80. He was an amazing creator. He made so many awesome comics and was outspoken about the people who made our beloved artform getting proper treatment. I saw him at two separate conventions and he was engaging and excited to talk about everything from, "Batman: Odyssey," to how people were getting famous on social media and that he wished he had that technology back in the day as the world was getting more and more connected in fabulous ways.

I would read stories of some people running into Adams at cons and him not being in the best mood, but I am pleased that any time I saw him he was extremely friendly and otherwise beaming with excitement to see fans at a convention. It cannot be stated enough how much Adams did for the art form of comics and fighting for creator's rights. He will be missed.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Film Friday: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a Stupendously Good Time

I was able to catch a showing of Nicholas Cage's latest movie, "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent." It stars Nick Cage as, well, Nick Cage. He plays a (slightly) exaggerated version of himself who is equally eager to work and exhausted with Hollywood. As the trailer for the film shows, to pay off some debt he goes to the birthday party of an eccentric rich guy who loves Cage's work and supposedly has made a fortune in agriculture but might be hiding some secrets. Pedro Pascal plays this fellow and is an absolute hoot. Pascal and Cage just being zany and off the wall is the main draw of this film and they deliver the goods. 

Watching Nicholas Cage poke fun at himself in such a self-aware manner while also actually making a convincing argument for himself as deserving of a little more respect as an actor gives the whole movie a surreal metafictional air. How much is drawn from real life and how much is exaggerated, one is left to wonder? Plus, it helps that this film is hilarious. Everyone in the supporting cast is terrific from Neil Patrick Harris as Cage's agent to Sharon Horgan as Cage's latest ex-wife and Lily Sheen as Cage's very annoyed teenage daughter. Plus, we get Ike Barinholtz and Tiffany Haddish as CIA agents who riff off of each other deliciously. At just over an hour and a half, "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent," is the perfect length, never wearing out its welcome but instead leaving us wanting more. This is definitely worth watching.

5 out of 5 stars.

Film Friday: Sony Is Making Some Random Spidey-Related Flicks

 

Sony owns the rights to characters that relate to Spider-Man. They've shared with Disney/Marvel so that everyone at both companies can cheer as money falls from the ceiling as if it were a game show. Seriously, the last Spidey flick was especially bonkers in how much it made. However, Sony does have its own flicks that can essentially acknowledge Spider-Man but not always the MCU, maybe? There might be a separate Universe? It is still unclear exactly how the rules work, but Sony is doing its own thing too with stuff like Venom, Morbius, a Kraven movie incoming, Madame Web, and now...El Muerto?

Yes, El Muerto is a character who appeared in a couple of, "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man," comics some years ago...then was never heard from again. He's going to be in a movie with musician Bad Bunny playing him. This was announced at the same time Sony mentioned the no-brainer of, "Venom III." People went from saying, "Of course!" to even those who know deep-cut characters that have interacted with Spider-Man scratching their heads and saying, "Huh?" I thought making a Madame Web movie was digging heavily into a list of Spidey's friends & foes, but this is as deep a dive as there ever was. If the movie will be good I don't mind by any means how random a character is getting a film, however. I'll just take some quality entertainment.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Time For an Article About How Wendy's Has Made Me Angry

I will never eat at the Wendy's near our house ever again. I will still eat at other Wendy's restaurants, but the one near our home has angered me to an absurd degree that I'm going full-on Karen, as the kids say. You see, I may live in one of the safest cities in Missouri, but I feel outright robbed by that Wendy's. I tried to handle everything in a respectable manner without going online and complaining as us David's apparently like to do, but all other options are exhausted and I shall use my very public platform to discuss how a fast food restaurant did me wrong.

It was April 19th of 2022 and I went to the Wendy's located at 14799 Manchester Road. I had ordered in the Wendy's app so that my order would hopefully have zero chance of being messed up. When I arrived there at 6:45 PM the line was crazy-long. That was okay, I know stores are short on staff so it is important to be patient. I waited in the drive-thru line (nobody was allowed inside the location and it was drive-thru only) and got to the order box. I told them my order and was informed I needed to pull up a bit so they could bring it to me when it was ready. After waiting some more my food was brought out. I had ordered two drinks and a Frosty. I was only given one drink and a Frosty but before I could say anything the employees had run back inside. It was 7:35 PM or so by this point and the store was set to close at 8PM so I just shrugged and figured that would be the only mistake, perhaps. I was wrong.

I got home and my wife's nuggets were missing, my chicken sandwich was totally wrong, and the drink that we did get was not even correct. Half the order was incorrect or missing. At this point, Wendy's was closed so I figured I would go the next day to tell them what happened and they'd be happy to fix everything. I was soon to learn that I was wrong yet again.

The next day I went to Wendy's after I dropped Clarkson off at school. I drove up to the order window and told them how I had placed an order in the app, came to get it, and that a big chunk was wrong. I said I could show them the app if they had any questions. They asked if it was a Doordash order and I explained that no, it was me in the app. They asked if I had gone back to the store yesterday or called. I clarified the store had already closed by then. I was told that because I hadn't made the problem known yesterday or called even if the store was already closed, I was out of luck. I was surprised to hear this because you know who fixes problems near our house if something is wrong? Basically any other fast food store near us. If I go to the McDonald's near our home at 15204 Manchester Road and inform them an item was forgotten or messed up, they offer to replace it or give me a gift card. I always have the receipt, but they say it is all good if I offer to give it to them--they just help me. Wendy's did the opposite.

I did some Googling and eventually found the number to call Wendy's hotline. I called and after holding for some time got a human. I explained everything that had happened so far to them. They said they could refund me the value of the items in the app or could inform the general manager at that specific Wendy's so that the manager could call and talk with me. I said I'd be happy to talk with the manager so I could discuss with them what had gone wrong and how things could be improved in the future. It has been a number of days and no manager has called from that Wendy's. 

I can only conclude that whoever is running the Wendy's near my house doesn't care that a customer is upset. They didn't know this customer had a blog that attracts a significant number of readers every month who enjoy pop-culture ramblings. They also didn't know that I'm perturbed enough to call out this specific Wendy's and then tweet the corporate account so they can be aware of how disappointing this specific location is. As I said, I'll still eat at Wendy's but don't expect to ever see me at that location closest to our house ever again. I'm far too petty, and I will admit that. I would still encourage people to eat at Wendy's restaurants that are near them, but if you're ever in my area and see this specific Wendy's, just keep driving up the street to the McDonald's is what I'd suggest.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

"The Death of the Justice League," Gives Us That and Little Else

Death in comics means basically nothing (at least in hero-focused stuff). When a character dies the odds are they'll be back. It might take less than even a year or decades, but they return. The saying used to go that nobody stays dead besides, "Bucky, Jason Todd, and Uncle Ben." Then they brought Jason Todd back as the Red Hood, Bucky came back as the Winter Soldier (and Captain America for a time). Uncle Ben remains dead, but seeing as how an alternate-universe version of Gwen Stacy now is a big thing and folks thought she would have to stay dead...who knows about some multiversal Uncle Ben appearing someday? My point is that death in comics is impermanent but if you make that death seem like it matters at least then the death itself can result in some good drama. Should killing your character/s produce some good storytelling, go ahead and do it even though we all know they'll be returning before too long. This leads me to ask, how could a comic about killing a bunch of the Justice League in, "Justice League," #75 feel underwhelming of all things?

I've not been reading the main, "Justice League," comic much, but have been following general summaries of the story and was dipping my toe into the, "Justice League Incarnate," that the main team encounters and works with this issue. Basically, a Darkness is sweeping the Universe and it seems like this is the kind of challenge that can't be beaten. Everyone teams up (the JL, JLI, and other characters who got pulled into the fight such as Black Adam) and a man known as Pariah appears and causes all kinds of trouble along with the Darkness as a bunch of the OG Justice League die. Some get smashed, others are instantly disintegrated, it is supposed to be dramatic, but it is less of a big deal itself than ending with the cliffhanger of, "Read Dark Crisis to see what happens next!"

Joshua Williamson is a skilled writer and Rafa Sandoval is an amazing artist. However, they have the unenviable task of taking an issue that is in some ways a big climax of storylines but has to set up an event, and this results in this feeling a bit like the ending half of one story and the beginning half of another instead of its own dramatic thing. I mean, a big chunk of the Justice League is dead, in the main DC continuity! That should be wild! Remember when other comic characters have died how it made National news? This wiping out of a whole bunch of major characters has barely registered a pulse among the media or readers. That's not for lack of Sandoval's stellar art either. He illustrates the heroes fighting the Darkness and those under its control gorgeously. The comic is basically one massive fight scene and thanks to Sandoval it is a stupendous one. 

I'm going to guess all or most of these heroes will return during or after, "Dark Crisis." I may be wrong, but I could see that happening--which is fine! As I said, superhero deaths happen as often as the common cold in comic-books. Still, I just wish this felt more like its own dramatic occurrence as opposed to a mix of a blasé ending merged with an attempt to start an event with a, "Shocking," number of deaths.

2.5 out of 5 stars overall (the art is worthy of 5 out of 5 stars, however).

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

I Reviewed, "Gnartoons," for Forces of Geek

I'll review things sometimes for my chums over at Forces of Geek. I just read and offered my thoughts on, "Gnartoons," by James the Stanton. It is a very strange comic without a doubt. Did I love it for that reason? Hate it? Read my review here and find out!

Monday, April 25, 2022

A Short Thought on Netflix and Their Silly Business Moves

Hey, Netflix. If you're losing customers (and your stock is in trouble) I don't think your responses are the smartest moves. You probably shouldn't start showing ads or cracking down on password sharing because I can think of plenty of people who would just outright cancel Netflix if ads pop up or sharing gets nixed. With so many streaming options out there Netflix is still the biggest dog in the game, but it is no longer the only big dog. Plenty of others are coming for the crown. Don't think investing in games is going to be a surefire way to stay on top either, Netflix. Maybe stop canceling shows people like so quickly, or before they can even give them a chance? You throw so much at all the walls and don't even wait to see what sticks. 

Other streaming services might have less in terms of the sheer amount of stuff, but what is there is nice and curated and enjoyable. Because you're the Netflix you don't have an exact niche like some streaming services that do specific things and do them well, you're all over the place. That's fine too, but asking us to pay more when other services cost a ton less and provide similar quality entertainment is dumb. You're making some silly business moves that are only going to make things quite bad before they possibly get better...or just become even worse. Tread carefully these next few months, Netflix, you don't want to piss everyone off and tank your stock even more.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

My Two Favorite Foreign Sodas Are Actually Both Owned by Coca-Cola


The Coca-Cola Corporation makes a lot of products. They have certain sodas you can only (easily) find in other countries. My two favorite, "Foreign," sodas are actually created by Coke and that's just trippy. I am referring to Inca Kola and Thums Up. Now, Inca Kola was originally its own company but due to corporate restructuring and debt, they basically let Coke take over the brand in 1997 besides in the soda's native country of Peru. Thums Up was created by Coke employees the Chauhan brothers and a research team in 1977 and is huge in India. Both drinks are very different yet tasty in their own unique way.

Inca Kola is sweet and fruity, with some thinking it reminds them of a cream soda with a slight hint of lemon. Thums Up tastes a bit like Coke but with a stronger smack of cinnamon and perhaps nutmeg--it is almost a bit spicy. You can find Inca Kola in America in South American specialty stores with Thums Up found in Indian grocery stores. I am, of course, working at drinking less soda overall, but when I get hankering for a carbonated sweet drink these hit the spot. It is just odd that these decidedly, "International," drinks both have a very domestic owner.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

A Madballs and Garbage Pail Kids Crossover Sounds Quite Fun

I've written before about being a fan of the weirdly hideous bouncy toys known as Madballs and the comics which featured them. Now, they and the parodic Garbage Pail Kids will be having an epic crossover via the publisher Dynamite! Yes, in July of 2022 there will be, "Madballs vs. Garbage Pail Kids," #1. Sholly Fisch shall be writing the mini-series and Jason Crosby is doing the art. This is probably going to be quite the wild little event and I'm excited about it!

Friday, April 22, 2022

"The Stretcher Bearers," is a Stark and Thoughtful Graphic Novel

I received a copy (for the purposes of review) of the graphic novel, "The Stretcher Bearers." Published by Dead Reckoning, they are the graphic novel division of the nonprofit organization known as the U.S. Naval Institute. This graphic novel is written by brothers Reid Beaman and Ryan Beaman with Reid illustrating. It is a superb piece of historical fiction that really puts readers into the thick of the World War I. The comic chronicles the lives of men known as stretcher bearers, soldiers, "who were tasked with running into harm’s way to rescue their fallen brethren from the clutches of death." We specifically follow Maxwell Fox with his fellow troops as they struggle to survive in the Hellish parts of the battlefield known as No Man's Land.

Reid's illustrations really impart how claustrophobic and crushing it must have felt being in the trenches as everything blew up or got shot to pieces around you, and his detailed art imparts how gruesome war could be without seeming intentionally nasty so much as just brutally honest about the horrors of combat. Whether facing poison gases, airplanes strafing them, or their own psyches' betraying them, Reid draws everything with fantastic skill as he and Ryan give us a tale of trying to find the faintest glimmers of hope in a nightmarish place.
"The Stretcher Bearers," is a fantastic book that shines a light on a war that often gets overlooked in our history classes and popular culture. Reid and Ryan Beaman do a fantastic job giving us a story that is harsh but not completely grim and definitely worth a read.
5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

My Article About the Worst Date Movies Has Been Posted at Cinemaways

I sometimes contribute articles to various places and one I wrote for Cinemaways has been posted on their site! It is about the, "Top 10 Worst Date Movies." Many of the movies are great, but really bad choices to view if you're with a potential romantic partner. Give the article a read and let me know if I forgot a flick that you would (or do) regret seeing on a date.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

"A Hunter's Tale," is a Thoughtful Poem-Meets-Comic

I like to try out comics I see that look interesting and when I saw the solicitation for, "A Hunter's Tale," I was super intrigued. Ryan Claytor (of Elephant Eater Comics) is a comic creator and he illustrates a poem by his Grandfather, Kermit Claytor. The poem is about a hunter finding a deer in the woods and thinking about life from the deer's point of view as well. It is a great poem about empathy and Ryan is a skilled artist who really brings the words to life as we read them over the pages.

I really enjoyed reading, "A Hunter's Tale," and would encourage you to ask your comic shop to order you a copy, or you can get one for yourself via this link! I give, "A Hunter's Tale," 5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, April 18, 2022

The Aqua Teen Hunger Force Has Returned!

Between Kendrick Lamar announcing a new album, the trailer for the next Thor movie, and what I'm about to report on here, today has been a good day for me regarding news about entertainment I enjoy! You see, it has been over seven(!) years since any kind of new content featuring the Aqua Teen Hunger Force (and friends). The series had a movie, changed its name off and on, and was always off-the-wall weird. When I met the voice of Frylock, Carey Means, at the 2021 Big River Comic Convention he hinted that something was maybe in the works (but couldn't say more). Then, less than a month later Adult Swim announced some cool projects were in the works, including new ATHF content. 

Now we have, "Aquadonk Side Pieces." There will be 10 one-shot shorts featuring various, "Famous," and, "Popular," characters from the ATHF mythos. As Polygon explains in this article, "Adult Swim will release a new episode of Aquadonk Side Pieces every day from today until April 17 via the network’s official YouTube channel, with each episode premiering at 12:00 p.m. EDT. The as-yet-untitled Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie sequel is slated to release sometime this summer." I do indeed wonder if there will be a big announcement on the 17th about the movie. One can dream, eh?

"Thor: Love and Thunder," Has Released a Teaser Trailer

It feels like we've been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for a trailer in regards to the new Thor movie. Today the official teaser trailer for, "Thor: Love and Thunder," dropped, however! We only get a glimpse of Natalie Portman wielding Mjollnir, and there is no Gorr the God Butcher as far as I could see, but this little taste has me excited. Have a look:


We get to see Chris Hemsworth's Thor hanging with the Guardians of the Galaxy, there's a little glimpse of Tessa Thompson (appearing to be stuck dealing with bureaucracy as the ruler of New Asgard). It looks fun, and if it can be half as entertaining as, "Thor: Ragnarok," it is bound to be a good time.

In Awesome News, Kendrick Lamar Has Announced His New Album!

Bust open the, "Break in case of emergency celebration," glass, everyone! Kendrick Lamar has announced that his new album, "Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers," is coming out May 13th, of this year! For some context, the last album Lamar released (not counting how heavily he contributed to the, "Black Panther," soundtrack) was, "DAMN." That came out April 14th, 2017. For further context, my now five-year-old son wasn't even three months old yet at that time. To say I've eagerly been awaiting a follow-up would be an understatement. When Lamar releases an LP it is generally my album of the year, so while I don't want to get my hopes up to an insane level, I am incredibly pumped! Now to figure out what it means that he seems to be using the moniker, "Oklama." I love a good mystery.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Archie Comics is Doing NFTs and Nope, Just Nope!

It was announced that Archie comics (with the help of an agency known as Palm NFT) will be bringing us an Archieverse in the form of NFTs. Folks will be able to buy one of 66,666 tokens for $66.66 each and then will get to play games and contribute story ideas for new Archie horror comics. If your ideas or artwork get chosen you get some royalties and story credit. In other words, people will have the ability to buy the right to pitch Archie comic ideas. It's quite the clever scheme if by clever you mean stupid. Individuals are expected to pay to enter some community with little alternate reality games and to get to try to break into the comic industry--the industry should be paying you, friends, not the other way around. It goes without saying that a lot of Archie fans (young or old) don't like this

This is a shame as Archie has put out some damn good comics in the modern era, with some of the horror ones being fantastic before they were horrifically delayed (to the point I doubt they'll ever actually conclude). We all know NFTs are a scam. The biggest supposed success story from them is a game that is basically digital feudalism and suffered a massive hack of the supposed super-secure currency. It is one big hustle, all of it. Alas, until NFTs come crashing down the grift will continue.