Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Television Tuesday: All These Reboots/Retools and My Favorite Cancelled Show Remains Ignored. Bring Back, "The Mick," You Cowards!

We are in an era where shows are getting rebooted/restarted at a dizzying pace. Some of these shows are great and some are getting really bad reviews. We've got older shows in the form of, "Night Court," somewhat recent programs like, "That 90's Show," retooling of the 70's iteration, and there is, "Velma," which is a really different take on, "Scooby-Doo," without Scooby-Doo (reception to it has been mixed). All of those just came out in January with plenty of rebooted/retooled shows happening in 2022 and even more on the way for 2023. "Frasier," is coming back, there is going to be a, "Zoey 102," and I just sit here enraged one show that ended up canceled is sitting ignored. Bring back, "The Mick," you cowards!

I just don't get it. We've got ,"Bel-Air," "Fraggle Rock," Karate Kid movies became a beloved series with, "Cobra Kai," not to mention, "Sex and City," which returned with new seasons after some flicks. "Quantum Leap," got a reboot, "Proud Family," came back, and "The Mick" just gathers dust. I loved it from the start and throughout its two amazingly dark and hilarious seasons. Kaitlin Olson's take on the titular character was a hoot and the supporting cast cracked me up as well. Mick was a sleazy troublemaker put in charge of raising some rich relatives after her sister fled a Federal indictment, but things just got stranger and weirder throughout the show. I miss it hope with basically all the shows these days coming back it will eventually get its time in the sun again.

Monday, January 30, 2023

I'm Outright Worried About IDW

Back in 2019, I was, "A tad concerned," for IDW. Then I was, "Quite concerned," in 2020. They've had issues since then and with the financial data about their 2022 now coming to light in early 2023, I'm just outright worried. IDW posted big losses with its publishing department struggling and having a bigger loss in 2022 than 2021, it is troubling. The entertainment division was a saving grace, posting revenues, but not enough to offset a general loss for the entire company..albeit less of a loss than 2021, so yah? 

The quote that sticks with in the article about their losses is, "While the company had around $10 million in cash at the end of the period, in its annual report the company said it may need to raise another $7-$10 million to fund losses over the next couple of years." I mean, what happens if they don't raise the money to fund losses? It is disquieting. Between AfterShock and their bankruptcy as well as Heavy Metal (we have no clue still what's going on there) there is a lot going on in comics. I'm sure there will be more as all this develops.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

The First ToyMan of 2023 Was a Load of Fun!

Readers of my blog may recall I missed the last ToyMan Show due to being sick for more than half of December with various ailments (I dealt at various points with flu-type stuff, food poisoning, sinus stuff, and otherwise being miserable). Well, thankfully I am currently in good health and could attend the ToyMan show today. It was a great time and I'm so happy I went there!

This Toyman kicked off with me talking to my good friend Spike of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles. He had his usual assortment of awesome toys for sale. I also saw Jack Thomas of Fortress Comics at this show, he said how he was excited to be at ToyMan! Jack had a ton of awesome stuff and I picked up a number of things from him as a bundle deal, including a, "Shanna the She-Devil," #1--a funny one to pick up as I have a friend with a similar name who loves the character too so they'll get a kick out of seeing I got a copy. Here's a picture:

I chatted with my chum Tim Metzger and enjoyed seeing John Chaffee of Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles too! Next, I admired some very cool comics that Tom of Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games had brought. Toys of our Youth was at the show and had tons of great items for sale. I also had a chance to chat with Larry of Bug's Comics and Games. He had the usual assortment of incredible vintage comics and more modern stuff available too (I always gasp at some of the Silver Age keys he has for sale).

Next, I saw my good friend Brian Lan who always is kind enough to, "Like" my Facebook posts sharing my blog articles. I then had a chance to chat with Vince from VK Toys. He had a bunch of stellar comics and I was able to acquire an issue of, "Avengers," featuring the first appearance of Count Nefaria. Here is a picture of that:

The upstairs area was where headed after catching up with everyone in the downstairs region. I saw my friend, author Jessica Mathews. She has a new book coming out soon featuring a Lepruchan that I can't wait to get for Clarkson! She also had her friend Jocelyn sitting by her at the neighboring table, who had written a book of poetry! Titled, "This is a Closed Book," it is about mental health and personal growth from trauma. 

I saw the always-awesome Lindsay Hornsby of Mega Giganto selling her superb prints, comics, stickers, and more. Author Debbie Manbe Kupfer was at ToyMan too and I had the pleasure of meeting her for the first time. She had a great assortment of books and I purchased, "Adana the Earth Dragon," for Clarkson to enjoy reading with us. Check out this picture of the book:

The first ToyMan show of 2023 was so much fun. I got some really cool stuff and enjoyed seeing all the awesome people who frequent the event! I would encourage you to attend the next show on March 12th, which you can find details about on the ToyMan website. If you love comics, toys, Funko, diecast cards, Legos, vintage video games, or basically anything folks like to collect, you'll probably find it at ToyMan!

Saturday, January 28, 2023

I Tried that New Starry Soda--A Review

Pepsico announced it was getting rid of Sierra Mist and in its place, we'd be getting something called, "Starry." Reactions to this news were mixed. Some folks really like Sierra Mist and others were totally indifferent to the drink that Pepsi basically created in an attempt to compete with Sprite. Starry has been hitting store shelves and I've tried it. It's fine.

Starry tastes more like Sprite than Sierra Mist did, so if that was the Pepsi Corporation's whole point of doing this, then congrats to them. It has that crisp almost, "Spicy," kick that Sprite has, but otherwise is not special in any way. It just tastes a lot like Sprite. Now, I wasn't overly connected to Sierra Mist as I've always preferred Sprite, but settled for Sierra Mist when necessary. Now, I'll basically prefer Sprite and settle for Starry when the situation calls for it. I'm apparently an old Millenial, however, and this drink is targeted squarely at those Gen-Z kids who refuse to get off my lawn. Perhaps they'll dig it, but I'm indifferent.

3 out of 5 stars.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Flashback Friday: "Simcity 4," Was the Best City-Building Game Ever

I had a post up earlier this month remarking with surprise how Trogdor turned 20 this year. Well, color me even more shocked that one of the best city-building games ever, "Simcity 4," is also two decades old this month. The, "Rush Hour," expansion is what truly made the game a masterpiece (which admittedly didn't come out until September of 2003) and I poured hours upon hours into crafting the, "Perfect," city.

I'd zone sprawling metropolises with all kinds of busy city centers and quieter suburbs along with intricate public transit designs, plenty of safety services, good schools, and quality healthcare buildings. Then I'd be over budget and have to go back to the drawing board so I didn't go bankrupt trying to keep my citizens happy whilst also maybe adding a tollbooth on a busy highway in the hopes that'd give me a boost to my finances (and not throw off the flow of traffic too dramatically). "Simcity 4," is one of my favorite games ever and still going strong thanks to a dedicated fanbase and modding community. If I can locate my old CD-ROM of it sometime perhaps I should install it, boot the game up, and see if I can manage to have a public library and fire station without going into the red.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

We All Should've Hoarded our DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs

Torie Bosch put up an article on Slate about how when she purged a bunch of stuff back in 2021 her husband, Chris, insisted on keeping all DVDs and Blu-Ray Discs. Chris talked about what people would do if streaming went away or something disappeared from a streaming service. The idea perhaps once seemed silly, but these days with HBO MAX cutting a ton of content, shows jumping from one streamer to another, and so forth...well, maybe we should've kept all those discs.

I'll admit to having eyeballed all my DVDs and Blu-Rays in the past and unloading a chunk for a little cash or store credit at shops that bought movie and television discs. Those stores then laughed all the way to the bank as folks ran back to re-purchase those discs when their favorite show disappeared from the internet. Now, some DVD and Blu-Ray sets go for insane amounts on sites like eBay because you simply can't (legally) stream something online you used to be able to easily click on and watch. It just goes to show, always keep a saved file of something on your computer or a physical disc you own/burned. We obviously can't trust Netflix/Hulu/Disney/etc. to keep our beloved programs safe.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

M&M's Announces They're Putting the Candy on an, "Indefinite," Hiatus in an Obvious Marketing Stunt

M&M's put out a social media announcing how they never expected the little tweaks they kept making to their candies would cause controversy (wink), and therefore will be discontinuing using candy mascots and have Maya Rudolph represent the brand instead. First off, I like Maya Rudolph so I have zero beef with her over this. To Mars Wrigley, the owner of the M&M's brand, I simply say, "Really? We're going to be this silly?"

Mars Wrigley knows what it is doing. They gave the green M&M sneakers and certain people freaked out over a piece of candy looking less sexy. It was absurd. Then they did a bag with only the, "Girl," M&M's represented (green, brown, and now there's a yellow candy too). A bunch of people protested it as being some kind of political move to appear, "Woke," while M&M's laughed all the way to the bank about the free controversy. Suddenly, M&M's is super worried about looking controversial so they will stop using spokes candy and have Maya Rudolph represent the brand, like in a big Super Bowl commercial. Surely that commercial won't reveal this was all a marketing stunt (like the death and rebirth of Mr. Peanut if folks recall that fiasco).

A bunch of news websites seem to be reporting this as if it's an actual straight-faced story. Thankfully, some folks see this as the trickery it most likely is. Perhaps I'm cynical and M&M's really doesn't want to cause controversy anymore, but I'm thinking this is all a crafty ploy to get more press for the brand and do a zany Super Bowl ad. Should I be wrong, I'll gladly admit it...but I'm probably right. As James Dator observes, "This is so transparently laying the groundwork for their Super Bowl commercial it defies belief." Well said, and yet folks believe it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Television Tuesday: "Paul T. Goldman," is the Weirdest Show Ever, and Extremely Entertaining

Is Paul T. Goldman a regular guy who found himself wrapped up in crazy events that forced him to adapt and go from a, "Wimp to a warrior?" Is Paul T. Goldman a genius villain capable of twisting reality to suit his version of a story? Could Paul T. Goldman be the victim who is doing his best against all odds or is he the mastermind playing chess while we think it's a game of checkers? My answer to all of these questions is simply: "Yes." Having completed all six episodes of "Paul T. Goldman," on Peacock, I can only say this is the most bizarre piece of television I have ever seen and was captivating.

What starts out as a bit of a true-crime documentary directed by Jason Woliner over nearly 10 years morphs into a bizarre and attention-grabbing masterpiece with all the thanks/blame falling squarely on our protagonist/unreliable narrator and star of the show, Paul. To explain everything about this program would ruin much of the enjoyment viewers will get as the puzzle unties and unveils itself, so I'll stick to the basic overview. A number of years ago, Paul divorced his second wife when it became apparent she was cheating on him--and possibly also a sex worker with a whole enterprise of employees. Paul actually appeared on the news discussing this and wrote a book about everything that happened which he self-published on Amazon to decent reviews. It sounds cut-and-dry, but things get weirder as the six episodes unfold.

The show features interviews with Paul and others plus includes many dramatic recreations of scenes from Paul's book. Everyone in these scenes is an actor, except Paul. Paul plays himself even while some actually notable thespians appear alongside him. You've got talented folks playing all this perfectly straight and serious while Paul is an amateur thespian at best struggling not to grin during dramatic moments or otherwise, "Break." With every episode, it becomes more and more apparent that Paul's, "99% true, well 97% true," story has a lot of holes in it and we're just along for the ride with Jason Woliner as attempts are made to figure out what's a fact, what's actually fiction, and just how deep this rabbit-hole of madness goes.

Paul T. Goldman himself seems like someone's fever dream of a sketch-comedy character come to life. He has a bug-eyed energy that seems both exhausting and endearing. Every sentence is yelled with enthusiasm and often punctuated with an odd laugh or giggle--even when it ruins the moment. Paul clearly can't act and is sincere to a level that's alarmingly naive--unless he's the best actor ever and playing all of us for fools, either scenario is quite possible. After you sit through the entirety of, "Paul T. Goldman," you'll have a clearer picture of what happened in Paul's life, but whether we're supposed to loudly cheer for his success or boo and hiss at the mere mention of his name is up for debate. 

I still don't know exactly who Paul T. Goldman is, but I know what this show about him is--extremely engaging and entertaining. I rarely tell people to subscribe to a streaming service for a single show, but you've got to at least try and get a trial subscription or do the ad-supported version of Peacock if for no other reason than to watch, "Paul T. Goldman." It is that astonishing and bewildering, kind of like Paul.

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Hot Comics Revue 13--2023 and a Cooling Market for You and Me

Thoughts on the Market in General

I last did a, "Hot Comics Revue," in January of 2022 and noticed I hadn't even done one since 2020. I would say I need to do these more often, but the comic market has actually cooled a ton since its 2020 and 2021 highs. Golden Age and Silver Age books have retained their value or even gone-up, but a lot of more modern books peaked a bit ago and plummeted to a more reasonable price in a bit of a market correction. Whereas an unslabbed, "Ultimate Fallout," #4 was almost worth a grand 12-24 months ago, now they trend for a cool 400 smackers, to give a single example, but the market is a lot more frosty in general. I'm not mad about it as I don't have anything super valuable that I paid a bunch for. The most notable books I got for a reasonable price and they are notable thanks to having tons of sentimental value even if they lack monetary notability. 

I do feel bad for anyone who spent a ton of cash when a lot of comics were peaking and now have lost half their investment, however. It just shows that it is true what everyone on Reddit says in my comic-book groups when people post a question like, "I want to invest in comics, where do I start?" They say, "Don't invest in comics, you'll probably go broke." That said, I do still do okay buying and selling when it comes to my own little comic-book hobby as I work to find good deals, buy stuff cheap, and then generally flip what I get fast if I want to sell the comics versus keeping them for myself. With all of that said, let's do what this segment normally is known for and discuss a comic that is warming up, one that is red hot, and in a tweak to the format, some comics (plural) with steamy potential thanks to a unifying theme.

A Comic That is Warming Up

Even if the comic market has cooled, one thing that helps keep books popular would be films and television. For one of the countless examples of that just look at, "Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk," #1. A random tie-in comic that was dollar-bin fodder for years, it features the first appearance of a character named Jentorra. She was in the trailer for the new, "Ant-Man: Quantumania," flick, so now the book trends for $15-$20 or so. Yes, that isn't anything you're going to retire off of, but should Jentorra make an impact on filmgoers the book could get even more popular.

A Red Hot Comic

Jack White is a cool guy. He makes cool music, is a solid actor, and by all accounts is quite a pleasant and chill guy. He also did some snazzy variant artwork for the comic, "Batman/Superman: World's Finest," #11. It wasn't really hyped up much by DC and even though it was an open-order variant (not a ratio), stores just overlooked it. Now this $5 book is trending for $50-$60 because folks are going nuts for a comic that Jack White made the cover for. As a side note, some folks think the cover is ugly and others love it. I think it's cool and reminiscent of, "The Department of Truth."

Comics With Steamy Potential

I honestly think that a chunk of comics that relate to Marvel's big, "Secret Invasion," event back in 2008-2009 have a ton of potential with the upcoming show on Disney+. It's been established in other MCU projects that Skrulls are not villains, but there are some evil Skrulls out there, apparently, and that is a big part of this new show. You've got the, "Secret Invasion," series itself, with the first issue being quite popular. Then, there is, "New Avengers," #40 which had the first appearance of the Skrull Queen, Veranke, in Skrull form (there is a second printing with her first cover appearance as well). "Mighty Avengers," #13 also introduced the Secret Warriors, Marvel heroes who were relatively new or unknown by anyone besides Nick Fury so he was able to be sure Skrulls hadn't replaced them. It is a bit of crapshoot to say which, "Secret Invasion," comics will really take off even more than they already have, but that's part of the fun in speculating, right?

Sunday, January 22, 2023

The, "Avengers," Comic is Relaunching With a Great Creative Team

Jed MacKay is a fantastic writer who has been doing a stupendous job on the current, "Moon Knight," series as well as other titles C.F. Villa is a lovely artist as well and come this May the, "Avengers," comic is relaunching with MacKay's writing and Villa's artwork. Jason Aaron has been writing, "Avengers," for a good chunk of time and his run has been extremely divisive as some folks loved it and others reviled it. A new run featuring a mix of O.G. teammates (Thor, Iron Man) some newer iterations of characters (Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel, Sam Wilson as Captain America), as well as other popular characters, will make for a good time.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Don't Do Those, "Pass it On," Food Chains at Drive-Through Restaurants

Those chains where people pay for the car behind them at restaurants sound nice in theory but in practice are awful. One time the car ahead of me at Arby's (don't judge, it tastes good) paid for my meal and wanted to pass on the message that, "I am loved." That was nice. No one was behind me. Therefore, I wasn't even asked to pay for the next car. Can you imagine if someone who was struggling to make ends meet had ordered a small meal and then was asked to pay like $50 for the car behind them, and pressured to look rude if they didn't do it, however? 

The whole thing is absurd and I agree with folks like Darius who posted a video online decrying the whole, "Pass it forward," food chain. Sometimes people can't afford to pay for others or maybe they just want to pay for their own meal and if it is covered, great, but why pressure them to make it some kind of chain? I'd instead take the money I saved at the restaurant and donate it to a charity close to my heart or such. For example, the Ronald McDonald house is a fantastic charity and I always round up my total at the drive-through or put some dollar bills in the donation box if I'm inside a McDonald's. If someone paid for my meal there I'd decline to pay for the next person, but eagerly give my total to a charity that helps others. 

Employees at many locations hate these chains too, with them observing you could, "Tip instead," when driving through Starbucks or other locations with tips. Not to mention, the whole process can be confusing for people trying to ring up orders. When the employees at a restaurant hate the whole, "Pass it on," chain that just further emphasizes how bad an idea they are.

If I pay for the car behind me at a restaurant for any reason, I will emphasize that the drive-through is to tell the person they are not to do it for the next car according to my request. I wanted to treat them and don't want them to feel pressured to create a chain or such. That's a true act of kindness and I'd encourage everyone to do that if they really want to pay for the car behind them, or tip extra/donate to a charity if they get treated. It is a lot easier than some wonky super-long chain.

Friday, January 20, 2023

Comixology as We Know it Has Been Destroyed

Back in 2014, Amazon bought a big source of (legal) digital comics, Comixology. I argued it wasn't a huge deal because Comixology wasn't the only source of legit digital comics and physical comics would be fine. Well, I was half-right. 

Physical comics are still doing fine but Comixology grew and grew to be the main source of digital comics. Then they changed the whole format a little bit ago and everyone was really mad. Now, Comixology has been suddenly slaughtered by Amazon via a bunch of layoffs impacting the whole company, but especially Comixology. I'm not joking, it is being called a, "Bloodbath," as 75% of the staff is gone with the other 25% to follow during the rest of 2023. As of now, a skeleton staff is keeping things somewhat functioning before whatever mysterious step comes next. If everyone is getting laid off then Comixology as we know it is being dismantled. What is next, though? Nobody knows, but I imagine things are only going to get uglier before answers arrive.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Steve's Comic Cleaning and Pressing Service is Fantastic!

I've tried a handful of services that offer cleaning and pressing over the years, and only write about one if it really impresses me. Well, Steve of Steve's Comic Cleaning and Pressing is fantastic! He has great prices and did a superb job on a comic I submitted to him. I had an older, 'Star Trek," #3 from when it was published by Gold Key that happened to be a double cover (you've all seen me write about how I like double cover misprints). He worked on it and the issue received an overall 7.5 as CGC grades all the covers but the main grade is always the most interior one. You can see some pictures of the final slabbed comic below:

I personally want to thank Steve and I encourage everyone to give his site a visit and use his services!

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

I Enjoyed the New Scooter's Coffee in Ellisville!

A new coffee drive-through location just opened in Ellisville. Part of the Scooter's Coffee franchise, I've had the chance to swing by a couple times now and really like it! There are hot drinks, cold drinks, blended beverages, and food! I really liked the candy bar flavors you can put in coffees and having a cup of just black coffee tastes lovely too. I've sampled the bacon burrito as well as the cinnamon roll and those were pleasing to my tastebuds too. If you live near Ellisville or any Scooter's Coffee location I'd encourage you to give them a try!

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Television Tuesday: "Gunther's Millions," Looks Like an Utterly Insane Documentary

It starts out like a funny story and then takes some weird turns. That is the vibe I'm getting from, "Gunther's Millions." It is a documentary about the World's richest dog (his owner left a fortune upon their passing) the whole thing sounds hilarious. Then a music group is formed, weird research occurs, hints of a sex-cult are sprinkled in, and more. Just view the trailer and see:
Polygon's Petrana Radulovic thinks it could be the next, "Tiger King," in terms of capturing everyone's attention. It looks bizarre enough that I plan to watch it when it is officially released on February 1st!

Monday, January 16, 2023

We Honor Martin Luther King Junior Today

Today is the day we honor Martin Luther King Junior. He and a number of other famous figures worked tirelessly to advance civil rights. It is alarming that nowadays schools don't even want to teach about how racism exists while meanwhile, we have people who lived through the civil rights movement still with us, it is literally living memory and a disturbing amount of people want the facts of the past (and present) buried. In some ways, MLK's dream of equality feels closer and in a number of ways it feels pushed even further off by a myriad of malevolent forces. 

My favorite MLK quote is simple: "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." It reminds me that awful people are out there, but even hating them is pointless and only will wear me down. All I can do is try to spread love and care to those willing to accept it.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Trogdor Turns 20 This Year

For those who grew up in the era of Homestar Runner and Strongbad being the coolest thing on the internet, you probably need to take some medicine for your sore back (I know I do). Also, the famous creature known as Trogdor (the Burninator) is now 20. Yes, 20. I feel old. Trogdor will forever be hilarious, and now it makes me feel ancient to talk about it. No matter how old Trogdor is in terms of memes, his song still slaps. God bless you, Trogdor.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

The Nofilter Machines at Our Local Malls are Really Cool!

A company called Nofilter makes really cool machines that can give you orange juice or coffee, and their machines are at local malls in my area! The coffee machines are specifically called, "Java Hype," and they are really snazzy. They can do everything from espresso shots and americanos to drinks with steamed milk and such. As someone who always enjoys a nice cup of coffee (or juice) I really like the machines Nofilter makes! Should you visit one of the malls they are located in around Saint Louis, give them a try!

Friday, January 13, 2023

Film Friday: M3GAN

"M3GAN," is a bit of a horror movie even though it isn't that scary. It's not a comedy but can be quite funny. Also, there is the titular smart and creepy robo-doll but with the rate that technology is advancing, it doesn't even seem too far-fetched or like a sci-fi flick--almost more allegorical about how we're becoming so advanced to technology we bond with it more than other humans. "M3GAN," isn't a lot of things, but it is pretty darn entertaining.

The film is quite clever at both having a message about our reliance on technology (without seeming like a dull and preachy essay) and slowly ratchets up the tension in a manner that we obviously know awful things are going to happen because of M3GAN, but we aren't exactly sure when or how violent the events will be. A ton of credit is due to the team behind M3GAN's design and physicality. She looks a bit off but not intentionally creepy (nobody would ever actually want a doll that looks like Annabelle, for example). She can move in a manner that seems mostly human but if she's glitching out looks more possessed and twitchy than an actual body could be. She's the uncanny valley staring right at us with those uncomfortably big eyes.

With a solid mixture of laughs, creepiness, and some clever social commentary, "M3GAN," is honestly better than it had to be. The flick and its creepy robot inspired so many memes and free press that it could've been a bland production and still done quite well. I'm glad the movie is actually really good. That, mixed with its box office success, makes me think we'll be seeing more of, "M3GAN," in the future if any cliffhangers in the movie are any indicator.

4 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Yet Again, "Skull and Bones," is Delayed

I have written about the pirate game, "Skull and Bones," and its development Hell at various points in time. Announced in 2017, I wrote about how it sounded like it was suffering huge issues in 2020. Then in 2021, I wrote about further problems. Oh, and in October of 2022, I wrote about how it had supposedly its last delay to March 9th of what is now this year, 2023. Guess what, ya'll? The game is delayed until the next fiscal year by its publisher, Ubisoft--meaning it won't come out until at least after April 2023.

"Skull and Bones," has morphed so much during its development that I'm not sure what exactly it will even be when it does come out. A single-player open-World action RPG? Multiplayer pirating combat game? Something that has a long grind as you level up but you can buy advancements with real money too via in-game purchases? I seriously just want a fun pirate game like we saw in a tiny bit of, "Assasin's Creed III," and the better parts of, "Assassin's Creed IV." We'll see what exactly we get from, "Skull and Bones," when it does come out. I just hope it is enjoyable as opposed to a Frankenstein's monster of ideas horrifically stitched together in a broken manner.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Bummer News: Birdcage Bottom Books is Shutting Down Publishing

In news that was I disappointed to hear, Birdcage Bottom Books will no longer be operating as a publisher of cool new indie comics. They'll be doing some shipping and fulfillment still of their books and partner titles, but after some publications in the pipeline come out they'll be done releasing any kind of new books. BBB isn't utterly ending right away but is clearly in the process of winding down. They've done some fantastic comics so it is saddening. I wish the founder of the company, J.T. Yost, the absolute best.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Picture Perfect Panini is Delicious!

The West County Mall has been doing the, "Pop up eateries," and it has allowed me to try some delicious new food places! Today, I had the opportunity to meet the folks behind Picture Perfect Panini and try some of their tasty food. I enjoyed their chicken bacon, and ranch panini with some fries, with it being yummy. I also tried their fried Oreos, those were a treat! Everything was really good and I'd encourage anyone in the region to visit the West County Mall while they are there through January 22nd or to visit their food truck whenever it is in your area during the upcoming warmer months.

Monday, January 9, 2023

People Are Really, "Excited," About the Newly Redesigned, "Clue," Characters and it Says a Lot About the Fantasy of Faux-Danger

The internet. It is a place where someone is bound to have an opinion the complete opposite of yours, no matter how absurd. Also, it is a place where everyone is horny--especially for danger. It happens often. We had folks wishing a 10-foot-tall female character from, "Resident Evil: The Village," would seduce them and possibly also step on them back in 2021, Now we have it where lots of people are hoping the cast of a newly redesigned, "Clue," will give them orgasms as opposed to blunt-force trauma--or maybe both? Seriously, I stumbled upon at least two articles on sites I frequent that covered how folks think the new box cover art for, "Clue," looks like everyone is giving you, "Come hither eyes," and/or plotting to kill you. Having looked at the cover art, I do admittedly see where people are coming from but I think the intentions do look more murderous than erotic.

While we all enjoy cute stories of happy romance, people also like danger. The risk is sexy. Hence, lots of people see the cast of Clue, notice the illustrations are a bit attractive, consider the danger that a murder might happen a sexy bonus, and get really thirsty--especially it seems for Chef White. No one wants to be in actual danger, of course, it is a fantasy. Just as people like to read erotic novels about characters in the Victorian era or a dystopian future, it is fun to imagine something dangerous and sexy. Folks role-play all kinds of stuff that would not be okay in real life because it is dangerous or illegal (if you ever actually have a naughty nurse during a hospital stay that is more likely to result in a call to HR than a letter to Penthouse). It just is interesting that of all the things that are intentionally raunchy on the internet that a whole bunch of people got horny for a game of, "Clue." I wonder if the Monopoly Man is due for a sexy redesign too? After all, what's hotter than real estate?

Sunday, January 8, 2023

People Are Mad About a Story Where the Joker Becomes, "Pregnant," and Vomits up a Shape-Shifting Mud Monster

Bear with me here. There is an out-of-continuity backup story in, "The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing," #4 that is intended to be funny with a dash of body-horror. The Joker angers the magician Zatanna and she casts a spell that makes him pregnant. He vomits up a sentient pile of mud that can shape-shift so it makes itself look like a young Joker in order to avoid the narcissistic psychopath from killing it. The whole thing is played for laughs. However, folks heard all kinds of crazy things about the story and got mad.

Some people think it is a story about the Joker being transgender and somehow having Batman's baby. To the credit of some sites, they realize this is silly (even TMZ can see the intended absurdity). Fox News totally missed the point, however, along with others who think this is some kind of, "Woke liberal conspiracy," as opposed to the Joker magically getting pregnant with sentient mud he throws up. I know a lot of people don't fully understand how babies are born, but they don't emerge as self-aware vomit.

There are no gender politics at play here, and even if there were, who cares? The Joker was magically made pregnant by Zatanna, puked up some shape-shifting mud, and more silliness will follow in the next issue. Chill out, people.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

I Wonder What Could Have Been With the Donny Cates and Ryan Ottley's, "Hulk," Run

One thing to get out of the way is how "Immortal Hulk," was an amazing comic and whatever came after it was sure to fail to measure up. Still, when it was announced Donny Cates would be writing a new, "Hulk," comic and Ryan Ottley would illustrate it, that gave me hope we would get something cool and different from, "Immortal Hulk," even if it wouldn't be as magical. Then the, "Hulk," comic started and it was pretty cool and zany! It crossed over with the, "Thor," comic Cates had been writing for a while and then...was really delayed. Super delayed. Suddenly fill-writers seemed to become permanent on, "Thor," and, "Hulk," with Ottley taking over the writing and drawing. At some point, Marvel decided it was better to just outright cancel the comic than retool it because after it became apparent Cates was gone and Ottley was going to be done too. Therefore, the whole thing will end with issue #14. It's like someone suddenly yelled, "Shut it down," and the series with its Titan Hulk and other fun weirdness went kaput.

There have been ample rumors about why Donny Cates has seemed to quit all his Marvel series as of late. More optimistic theories are that he is working on something big for Marvel--possibly with Greg Capullo. Some people think he had some kind of emotional breakdown for one reason or another. He has confirmed he is single and went through a divorce and needed a break due to various life events. I honestly don't know what Cates did or did not go through but as a fan of his work wish him the best. If it turns out he is doing something really snazzy like bringing back the Ultimate Universe or such I will be pleased, and if he simply needs to take time for his mental health and do a few creator-owned series and chill, I'm happy for him as well. I just wonder what could have been with his and Ottley's run on, "Hulk," if everything had continued as initially planned. 

Ottley has expressed he'll be moving back to shorter runs on various creator-owned series as after doing, "Invincible," a long time and now abbreviated, "Hulk," run he wants to dabble in various titles briefly as opposed to spending all his time on a single book. Cates is mostly radio silent about future plans with his comics but will probably share more when he is ready. It's just a bummer.

Friday, January 6, 2023

Flashback Friday: "Final Crisis," Was Great, Even if it Was a Mess

D. Emerson Eddy has a new post on Comicsbeat in which they discuss how, "Final Crisis is a bit of a mess. It’s also one of the greatest events that DC has ever published." I honestly could not agree more. "Final Crisis," was a mixture of its own self-contained weirdness thanks to writer Grant Morrison, something that had been led into via other DC series by different writers, and the climax of a bunch of Morrison's own other DC that was seemingly unrelated to, "Final Crisis," but arguably more important than official tie-ins or lead-up series. You can both read it by itself and be confused, or read it with everything that relates to it and...still be pretty flabbergasted, but still in a good way.

As Eddy says, "It's a spectacular mess." The art is great, even as fill-in talents were needed due to delays, the story is at its most basic about ultimate evil (Darkseid) versus ultimate good (Superman and other versions of Superman from various realities too). However, that is extremely reductive to say as all kinds of other random stuff gets thrown into the story too, from sentient computers (OMAC) kids from the future (Kamandi), other random New Gods, there is intrigue from outer space via Green Lanterns, the, "Batman R.I.P.," storyline Morrison was doing heavily overlaps with everything, Martian Manhunter dies, Barry Allen comes back to life, Monitor-related characters return, an Obama-inspired Presidential Superman appears, and more, and more, and more, damn it! People have talked about how, "Crisis on Infinite Earths," or, "Infinite Crisis," felt a bit like DC was taking everything and the kitchen sink and combining it into an event. Well, "Final Crisis," does that and shatters the sink into a bunch of random asides and concepts that don't quite glue back together perfectly but still manage to make something functional and cool.

I was not very familiar with the DC Universe when I read, "Final Crisis." The only DC series I had been following closely at that point were, "Green Lantern," and, "Batman." I was incredibly overwhelmed, confused, and unsure of what the Hell was happening in the event. I still had a great time reading it, though. If that isn't the definition of a mess that is also somehow amazingly great, I am unable to say what is.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Frankie's Comics Files for Bankruptcy/The Beginning of the End for Store Variants?

Frankie's Comics, an online store specializing in store variants, has declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. A, "Store Variant," is a variant cover for a new comic exclusively sold by one or a handful of stores. They can have great artwork but usually have zero value to speculators or such. They look good though and have been popular at points. I guess the popularity has clearly waned, though. 

I saw the bankruptcy discussed in some comic forums I frequent and then Bleedingcool made a post about it today as well. According to the paperwork, Frankie's owes about one million dollars to companies ranging from comic distributors such as Diamond and Penguin Random House to Paypal. Artist Ivan Tao is due $6,000 as well. One sticking point is that Frankie's isn't going out of business (in theory) with a Chapter 11 filing but can fix things and then supposedly get back on track. I doubt many companies would want to trust them again, however. It also sucks that Ivan Tao can't even be paid the 6K he is owed while they actively sell the comic he made the variant cover for--that personally strikes me as sleazy.

Ivan Tao's cover he is actively owed money for.

Full disclosure, a couple years ago I bought some fun store variant covers from Frankie's and other retailers off-and-on but I quit buying them as they just took-up space and basically cost a premium for the same comic you can get at any store with a slightly cooler cover. Having your business do essentially nothing but store variants just sounds like a bad idea, and Frankie's owing more than a million dollars to a bunch of people makes me wonder if we are at the beginning of the end of the store variant era? At one point it seemed every comic store was doing a store variant for the latest hot comic, but the market has significantly cooled and folks aren't spending nearly as much on, "Key," issues of comics, let alone brand-new store variants.

I will be watching with great curiosity if Frankie's Comics can weather this bankruptcy and emerge stronger and solvent. If they truly end up out of business, however, I do wonder if other retailers that specialize in basically just store variants will find themselves in trouble too.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

My Article About, "10 Movies That Show Why Dogs Are Great!," is Posted on Cinemaways!

I will write articles for my chums at other sites on occasion and I recently did just that for the good folks over at Cinemaways. I contributed an article about, "10 Movies That Show Why Dogs Are Great!" and enjoyed discussing an assortment of quality films featuring puppies and full-grown canines (both real and animated). Give my article a read here and let me know if I forgot any dog-featuring movies that you believe deserve more praise!

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

"The Journey Of Marcel Grob," Is a Fascinatingly Tragic Story

I am on the press list for the publisher Dead Reckoning and always enjoy the historically-centered comics they release. Their latest original graphic novel is, "The Journey of Marcel Grob." It is an intriguing piece of historical fiction, opening in the year 2009 as 83-year-old Marcel Grob finds himself questioned about ties to the Nazis back during World War II. Was he forced to join the Nazi army and did his best to not hurt anyone, or was he a willing volunteer who eagerly committed war crimes? Author Philippe Collin and illustrator S├ębastien Goethals explore Marcel's story as he discusses to a judge why he was conscripted from the German-speaking region of France known as Alsace but had zero desire to actually be a Nazi.

Collin does an expert job at showing us what it must have been like to be a regular civilian terrified that an occupying force is making you join them--and you know they're the villain but can do quite little about it. The Nazi's were unquestionably evil, vicious, and terrible, but Marcel is stuck among them trying his best not to end up on the wrong end of any fellow soldier's rifles.

It also really struck me was how superb Goethal's art was. The present is illustrated in a crisp and clear style, but as we move into the past things are a bit more loose and hazy, just as the memories of long ago would be in a symbolic sense. Goethal draws the beauty of the sun over a beach with the same careful precision as horrific scenes of villages being massacred.

There is a chapter of text at the end of the book featuring a descriptive historical account by Christian Ingrao--a specialist in the history of Nazisim--which breaks down the very real incidents portrayed in the book through the eyes of the fictional Marcel Grob. It makes it discusses how his story of being forced to join the Nazis was that of many French in Alsace who then had to deal with shame and embarrassment for the rest of their lives when it came to what they did during World War II.

"The Journey of Marcel Grob," is a beautifully done portrayal of a grotesque time in history. Collin's writing and Goethal's art are both superb and Ingaro's breakdown of the history itself serves as an insightful epilogue to the book. I'd rate this publication...

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, January 2, 2023

My Review of, "Bro-D Can't Be Broken," Is Up at Forces of Geek!

I wrote a review of the upcoming graphic novel, "Bro-D Can't Be Broken," for my friends over at Forces of Geek. Written and illustrated by Benjamin Humeniuk, this Young Adult-geared book was pretty snazzy! You can read my full review on the FOG website here.