Thursday, August 31, 2023

"Skull and Bones," Had a Beta Test. It Was Surprisingly Good


I've been following the saga of the long-delayed game, "Skull and Bones," for years now. After the sea-crossing combat of, "Assasin's Creed IV," was such a hit with gamers, Ubisoft started development on a game focused mainly on ocean stuff and then it entered development Hell for a good chunk of time. There was a public-ish Beta test a few days ago where players could sign up to try a supposedly almost completed version of the game. To the surprise of everyone, it went...swimmingly (pun intended). Could, "Skull and Bones," turn out to be a legitimately fun time?

Apparently, the ship-to-ship combat was a hoot, the story was shockingly interesting, and quibbles about the game seemed minor when everyone expected more of a wreck than a functional game. Even though some games that go through a development nightmare seem worse for the wear by the end ("Duke Nukem Forever," comes to mind), maybe all the work done on, "Skull and Bones," will result in something solidly entertaining. Stranger things have happened. The game is supposedly due for release a some point before March 2024, so we shall see as long as there aren't more delays upon delays.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

"Immortal Thor," #1 Kicks the Series Off Quite Nicely

I adored, "Immortal Hulk," when it was coming out. Written by beloved talent Al Ewing (with art by the now-disgraced Joe Bennett, but enough about that), I was ecstatic when I heard Ewing was going to be launching a new Immortal book via, "Immortal Thor." Alex Ross would be back doing some gorgeous covers and the artist for this series was announced to be Martín Cóccolo--a superb artist. The first issue has come out, and I enjoyed it a great deal.

"Immortal Thor," #1 sets up some mysteries with Loki, introduces a new threat for Thor to face, and has some gorgeous splash pages that make something as simple as Thor flying around New York City have a majestic quality. If, "Immortal Hulk," were at its heart a horror story about the evil humankind is capable of I would say, "Immortal Thor," is shaping up to be an epic fantasy tale. "Immortal Hulk," was about the evil deep down within while, "Immortal Thor," looks to be about the power to do good even if a malevolent obstacle stands in the way. Buckle up, everyone, because Ewing and Cóccolo clearly plan to take us on quite a wild ride. I'm here for it.

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Television Tuesday: Telemarketers

HBO has aired all three episodes of, "Telemarketers," and the whole series now is streamable on MAX. I 100% recommend you watch this documentary as it is utterly fascinating, engaging, and will make you pretty pissed about how easy it is for telemarketing scams to keep happening. The docuseries focuses on Sam and Patrick--two guys who worked for a massive telemarketing company known as Civic Development Group/CDG. Sam started filming stuff in the office and eventually he and Pat started exploring just how horrifically corrupt and messed-up telemarketing was. 

The first episode mainly focuses on CDG and how it went about fleecing money from victims who thought they were donating to charities, but in actuality were mainly lining CDG's pockets. However, as the scope widens it is astonishing to see how brazenly corrupt a lot of telemarketing is with very few, "Good guys/gals," involved.

A big, "Ah-ha," moment comes in the second episode when it starts being dug into how even if companies like CDG took 90% of donations given towards the nonprofits they were calling for, those nonprofits often were pretty damn corrupt themselves too. These police unions or medical nonprofits always seemed to escape unscathed from legal attempts to shut down telemarketing companies, and Sam and Pat (with a handful of other people) feel like they are the only ones who care. It isn't only the telemarketers who are up to no good, it is often the supposed, "Good," agencies they allegedly took advantage of but actually were quite in cahoots with.

The third episode features a lot of Sam and Pat trying to get someone, anyone to take action as in the 2020s telemarketing has turned into even more of a fiasco thanks to the rise of AI and political groups being able to, "Fundraise," with even less oversight than the minimal amount that did exist. Throughout all three episodes, the personalities and sheer determination of Sam and Pat make them endearing and we viewers really cheer for these citizen journalists as they struggle against all the powers that be to make it clear that this shit is wrong--yet nobody is doing anything! Reviews for the show have been glowing pretty much anywhere I look, and I agree that this show is 100% worth watching. Now hopefully it will actually help spur some kind of action to have telemarketing face even the slightest obstacles to ripping folks off.

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, August 28, 2023

NFTs Are Cratering. We All Predicted This

Remember when those pieces of digital art people claimed they could, "Own," via the blockchain were popular with a number of gullible rubes? They were called NFTs and they combined the worst aspects of cryptocurrency with the art World. The whole market fell apart, but one saving grace was at least artists would make some money from their NFTs getting bought, sold, and traded, right? Apparently not, with the idea of giving artists royalties fragmenting the so-called NFT market even more and leading to a bunch of lawsuits. 

You've got NFTs that have lost 95% of their so-called value, artists getting nothing for their work, and the one NFT line that seems to be selling is Donald Trump-related. I guess scamming suckers is pretty on-brand for him. Everyone with some sense warned against cryptocurrency and really raised red flags about NFTs. Seeing they are faltering reminds me of that one Loki meme I shall now share:

I mean, really, it is sad folks have lost money, but they should've known better than to invest in something so foolish. Some people made a lot of money on cryptocurrency and NFTs, but those same people seem to have quickly gotten out of the market before it crashed. Everyone left, "Holding the bag," discovered their sack full of gold was actually pyrite (fool's gold) and that's the best metaphor I can offer for crypto and NFTs.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

The ToyMan for August 2023 Was a Treat!

I wasn't sure if I'd make it to this ToyMan Show as we had Gibson right after the last one. However, it worked out for me to go so I was excited to get some great comics and see all the cool folks! It was an outrageously fun show as always and continues to be the #1 show I recommend if you're after stuff. By, "Stuff," I of course mean comics, toys, Lego, Funko, old posters, diecast toys, and anything else cool you can think up. I kicked off the show saying hello to my friend Tim Metzger and chatting with John Chaffee of Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles. I then caught up with Spike from Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles. Tom from Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games had a lot of cool stuff too and I saw the delightful Kristen and Andy of Grape's Games. I traded some of my comics and threw in some cash to buy a gorgeous copy of, "Uncanny X-Men," #130 from Vince of VK Toys. There are some crazy-sounding rumors about Taylor Swift possibly having a cameo as Dazzler in the upcoming, "Deadpool 3," but I'm not sure how much stock I put into that. I just like Dazzler regardless of any film adaptations! Take a look:

When I went upstairs I had the chance to see my usual awesome friends, Jessica Mathews, Lindsay Hornsby, and Debbie Manbe Kupfer. They all are fantastic authors and I enjoy having a number of their works on my bookshelf! I also saw Amanda Baker who's Bound in Art business makes cool custom resin creations. I chatted with author Christine E. Schulze too, who had a number of neat fantasy books for sale. It had been a bit since I'd run into J.E. Nelson but she was doing great as well! Heroes for Kids was upstairs too, discussing how their recent show had been fun (I was unable to attend as Gibson had just been born). I bought a very cute alphabet sing-a-long book from Jacqueline James and I'm sure Clarkson and Gibson will both enjoy it. Here is a picture:

Today's ToyMan was full of lovely people, and awesome things to buy. It continues to be one of my favorite shows to attend as any time I go I'm basically guaranteed to to find something cool (or multiple things) I want to have come home with me. The next show is on November 5th, so mark your calendars and make sure to attend if you're able!

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Bob Barker Has Passed at the Age of 99

I have always enjoyed watching, "The Price is Right." Drew Carey took over hosting back in 2007, but before that, the long, longtime host was Bob Barker. The man was telegenic and charismatic. He was an outspoken advocate against animal cruelty. He had some scandals back in the 90s relating to relationships with models on the show but he weathered that controversy to have quite the career and a whole bunch of people who spoke of him fondly. I'm speaking in the past tense as Bob Barker just passed at the age of 99. He was a fun dude and will be missed. We'll always have hours of television featuring him and one of the funniest scenes in the movie, "Happy Gilmore," where he and Adam Sandler's character get into a brawl at a charity golf tournament. He will be missed.

Friday, August 25, 2023

Film Friday: The, "Good Burger 2," Teaser is Out

Back in March I wrote about how I was cautiously optimistic to hear we were getting a sequel to, "Good Burger." The 1997 movie grew out of a skit on, "All That," which was like Saturday Night Live for kids back in the day. "Good Burger," was funny then and still holds up pretty well to this day. Now in 2023 we're revisiting Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell's Dexter and Ed characters on Paramount+ to get a good hit of nostalgia and hopefully something that stands on its own feet too without being overly reliant on said nostalgia. "Good Burger 2," is due this Fall and the teaser has been released. Give it a look:

That isn't much to go on for now, but at least the, "Dude," jingle is there and the outfits are on point. Before too long we'll know if, "Good Burger 2," is a tasty sequel or something that should've been sent back. The part of me with fond youthful memories of, "All That," and the first movie hopes it is great fun.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

My Thoughts on that, "Prime," Energy Drink

There is an energy drink known as, "Prime." It is popular with the youth thanks to internet, "Influencers," KSI (I do not know who they are as I am old), and Logan Paul (I do know who he is and he's annoying). It has zero sugar but is full of caffeine to the degree the FDA has been petitioned to investigate the beverage. The issue is not exactly the caffeine content (about the same as two cups of coffee) so much as if this drink is being marketed to kids. The bottle clearly says you should be 18 or older to ingest this much caffeine, but nobody is gonna card you for an energy drink, obviously (besides in the old days when Four Loko had booze with caffeine, and that made lots of folks sick). 

There is some controversy, but I was curious if this drink even tasted any good. After all, I've tried Red Bull and that is awful. The only energy drink that ever tasted okay to me was perhaps Amp, and that seems to be mostly discontinued. I, therefore, sampled the Prime fruit punch flavor, and it was alright. It tasted like a diet fruit punch with some carbonation. The bubbles helped it, "Pop," a bit more than it otherwise would have. I wasn't retching from the drink but was far from impressed. As for the caffeine content, I am pretty much always drinking hot coffee or iced coffee regardless of the time of day, so I didn't notice myself feeling any extra awake or jittery. That said, someone who doesn't drink much coffee or caffeinated beverages and drinks down a whole bottle of Prime in a short sitting might feel some ill side effects. Your mileage may vary regarding flavor, feeling hyper, and so forth, in other words. Without the influencer cachet I doubt this energy drink would get much hype, so hats off for managing to get press--good and bad. In terms of actual quality, however, I'd rate Prime's fruit punch flavor 2 out of 5 stars. I'm in no rush to try any other flavors either.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Comic Book Resources is Going Full-On Dumpster Fire

Heidi MacDonald of Comicsbeat has a post up discussing just how badly things are going at Comic Book Resources. They use a dumpster on the fire as the header image, which is pretty accurate. I noted in May of this year how CBR was being overhauled but it was probably too late to save the site from continuing to suck (which it had since about 2016 when the current owner, Valnet, took over). Someone on CBR's own Twitter/X account threw shade (one assumes before being locked out of the account) about how the site has essentially no comic news anymore and will just be full of AI-generated clickbait (at least the current clickbait seems to be all human-based). Rich Johnston of Bleedingcool discussed this depressing-yet-also-funny event too.

This is a shame as CBR used to be a fantastic comic-book site. Now the best comic sites we've got are the aforementioned Comicsbeat and Bleedingcool (which is pretty tabloid-styled and full of intrusive ads but has its charms). I check or link to CBR so rarely it is like it might as well not exist. That could very well be the case sooner than later, the way things are going.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Television Tuesday: "Love Island USA," Has Been Especially Raunchy This Season

I lap up trashy reality television like a thirsty animal given a fresh bowl of water. Instead of H2O, I enmesh myself in drama and absurdity, and the latest season of, "Love Island USA," has been filled to the brim with crazy nonsense. The, "Love Island," franchise involves a number of countries, but the American version started out on CBS before the last season and this one shifted to Peacock. The shift to streaming allowed a lot more swearing and a lot more raunchy content to be shown--figuratively and literally in the sense we get more graphic discussions and see a whole lot more lady-ass and man-bulge. I honestly was a bit bored last season with, "Love Island," and felt Peacock didn't take advantage of how it could, "Go there," more. Well, this season of, "Love Island USA," has been absurdly horny and crazy.

The show has earned its TV-MA rating with lots of sex talk, a good deal of swearing, and plenty of barely-under-the-covers night-vision scenes of folks outright going at it in various ways. This season has been chock-full of folks eager to mingle without a doubt. Everyone is here to find love--in theory--but if we're being blunt these 20-somethings are gonna go for a handjob first and then hold hands/go steady afterward. It is funny that this season is much more sexual as the cast as a whole is a lot harder to like. Most of the men seem to want to say they’re committed to being in a couple and then go do something risqué as soon as a new woman enters the villa…then that first girl they were with always wants to forgive them for being dumbasses. Host Sarah Hyland herself has seemed befuddled by some choices as the coupling ceremonies. It’s incredibly messy but there are some bright spots in the cast.

A young man who goes by Bergie almost seems like he was put on the show by accident. He is fit and handsome but just seems incredibly different from the usual guys cast on the show. He struggled to make a connection with anyone in the villa a first but did find a lady and they seem happy together (perhaps when we all vote for the favorite final couples this week they’ll win as the internet seems to love Bergie too). I really liked a woman named Hannah too. She and Marco have been a happy couple for some time and could win the season too as America's favorite couple, I'd wager. Still, a lot of the men and women have been immature, rude, and a bit annoying…but again, these are young people full of hormones and a devil-may-care attitude, so you expect them to be a bit abrasive as many of us were in our 20s.

The second season, “Love Island USA,” on Peacock and fifth overall has been good fun but I am ready for it to wind down. Just like a big party, it is bright and fun at first. Eventually, you’re exhausted, sick of everyone sloppily going at it, and the jokes the host keeps repeating have gotten old (sorry, Iain Stirling, but I’ll forever prefer Matt Hoffman as the voice of the show). That said, even if I’m worn out I’ll be looking forward to next Summer when a whole new batch of horned-up singles attempt to find, “Love,” or at least do mouth-stuff to pass the time. God bless America.

5 out of 5 stars.

The, "Gothic," Remake's Voices Don't Sound Right and Mario Soon Will be Different Too

It's a bad week for video-game voiceovers. First of all, we've got the remake of, "Gothic," which is looking impressive visually, yes, but I have one concern regarding it. The original was a great brutal fantasy title set in a fantastical penal colony (I adored the sequel, "Gothic 2," back in the day, myself). The games also featured American accents. That's right, the "Gothic," games realized that just because something is in a medieval-ish fantasy world that doesn't mean everyone has to sound British. After all, it is a whole different reality, so why not let people in it have a deep-south accent in some areas and a flat no-accent accent like you hear in Nebraska at other spots? That said, the latest teaser for this, "Gothic," remake has--you guessed it--British accents. It's a little thing, but it kind of bums me out. I'm not alone, with Jason Moth of Dualshockers making the same observation.

The, "Gothic," remake having different accents isn't awful in the general scheme of things, but I am really saddened to hear that Charles Martinet will no longer be voicing Mario in video-games featuring everyone's favorite plumber. He will instead become a, "Mario Ambassador," and spread the good word of Mario a bit like a gospel, I suppose. I understand if he needs to retire seeing he's been Mario's voice since 1991 and is 67. I guess Nintendo does have Chris Pratt (the voice of Mario in the recent movie) or could hire someone else, but Martinet was definitely one of a kind. I always enjoyed seeing him at comic conventions.

Monday, August 21, 2023

"Batman: Off-World," Looks Like a Cool Mini-Series

I saw in the DC solicits that there would be a new mini-series starring Batman titled, "Batman: Off-World." It sounds like it features Batman being beamed into space to deal with aliens on his own (not the usual Justice League backup for space adventures). Jason Aaron will be writing the comic. Whether we get the concise and brilliant Aaron or the utterly insane and crazy version of his work (his recent, "Avengers," run was quite wacky), it should be cool. Plus, Doug Mahnke is doing the art, which really gets me excited as he's got mad skills, as the kids say. The first issue drops this November and I plan to check it out!

Saturday, August 19, 2023

"Save Scumming," Is Controversial? That's News to Me

As early on as when I was in grade school and would play video-games I would save my game often. I'd save it before a big moment so if something went wrong and I wanted to try again to, "Win," the situation I could do so--even if the game would continue if I, "Failed," a moment. I understood I could keep playing a game if I messed up a conversation/battle/whatever, but if I was committed to getting that situation right, I would save and reload the game as was called for. I continued to do this my entire lifetime of playing games. Apparently, this has a name and is called, "Save scumming." I never realized this until recently but it is controversial?

I've been save scumming for decades so clearly I have zero issue with it. That said, the release of, "Baldur's Gate 3," for the PC has resulted in a lot of debate over if players should be shamed for save scumming as opposed to just, "Rolling with the punches," when something doesn't go their way in the game. Kotaku has said people shouldn't feel bad about it, Polygon argues it is the best way to play an RPG, and PC Gamer has stated everyone is secretly doing it whether they want to admit it or not. I suppose there is a certain appeal to adapting in the game if your attempt to have a Bard charm their way out of a dangerous situation results in a huge fight as opposed to you actually succeeding and avoiding bloodshed. That said, if you really want the dice to roll in your favor of persuading some guards you're their friend, why not do some save scumming until the option that is the most fun for you occurs? After all, we're playing these games to have fun!

Losing a battle? Do some save scumming!

"Baldur's Gate 3," will be out on the PlayStation 5 this September, and assuming I play it you can bet I'll be save scumming. When I try out, "Starfield," on my Xbox there will be ample save scumming too. I've done it my entire, "Career," of playing video-games without even realizing it had a name so I have no intention of stopping now. If I want to be sure I succeed at something (or if I'm feeling frisky and want to be sure to fail at something) I'll do so. It's my game, after all, I'm going to play it how I want--we all should.

Friday, August 18, 2023

Flashback Friday: Moxie Soda

One of the first sodas ever to be created would be Moxie. I was reading random trivia articles as I enjoy doing and was fascinated by Moxie. Created way back in 1876 it is the OG carbonated soda, existing just before other famous brands like Coca-Cola. Unlike other old-timey drinks, it didn't have booze or cocaine at first either. It's mostly been the same for quite some time. A bit like root beer, I read it contains gentian root extract and therefore is sweet but has some bitterness to it. When first created it was advertised as being medicinal, but over time became more of a recreational soda. Coca-Cola actually bought the rights to it in the earlier 2000s and owns Moxie now. It is still pretty popular in the Northeast and is the official soft drink of Maine, but otherwise is a bit hard to find unless you order it online. I wanted to try the first-ever soda, so I got some off Amazon. I liked it.

Moxie is an acquired taste. It is an old soda but strangely enough, reminds me of some of the newer organic and herbal sodas due to its gentian root. I'd say this is more like root beer than a cola without a doubt and definitely has a little bite when you sip on it. I was pleased with Moxie but would completely understand if someone else did not like it. That said, it is fun to take a bit of a trip to the past by sampling the original carbonated soda all these years later.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

The Disney Lorcana Card Game Releases Tomorrow

I have some experience with digital card games such as Hearthstone or Marvel Snap, but I have not played physical trading card games (TCGs) much. Back when there were only 151 known Pokemon (and I was still in middle school) you could find me dabbling with Pokemon cards, but I sold all of them before the market crashed--and then came roaring back like 20 years later meaning my cards had some value, were worthless and now would be worth a lot if I kept them (so it goes). I've never played Magic: The Gathering as I always tell friends how I have enough hobbies that take my funds. That said, the company known as Ravensburger has worked with/for Disney to create a new TCG called, "Disney Lorcana."

Disney Lorcana looks fun from the descriptions I've read and videos I've seen. Like many other trading card games it has starter decks, booster packs, and cards of various desirability. People have had a chance to sample Disney Lorcana at recent gaming conventions and seem to like it with the official big release happening at your local gaming store tomorrow. "Big box," stores will get Disney Lorcana in September, but if you've got a shop that deals in gaming it might be selling Disney Lorcana as of August 18th. Some locations seem to have preorders sold out and be in short supply while other places still have a chunk in stock. I haven't fiddled with TCGs in years but am a bit curious about Disney Lorcana, so I may check it out. We shall see if it is a smash hit or struggles to catch on, but as of right now, there is a good deal of hype.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

The First Issue of, "Fishflies," is Enchanting and Surreal

"Fishflies," is a new comic written and illustrated by the immensely talented Jeff Lemire. I actually have read much of a version of this comic already, funnily enough. You see, the one and only Substack I ever bothered paying some money to subscribe to was the one Jeff Lemire had. He charged for it just for a year and via the Substack he talked about past projects, upcoming work, and shared pages of, "Fishflies," as it was in progress--with the warning that once it saw print alterations would be made. I loved reading, "Fishflies," while it was serialized online and was bummed it stopped being put in the Substack before ending. Then, I was overjoyed to see the whole thing would come out via seven 64-page issues published by Image. I'm glad issue #1 is out so everyone can see why, "Fishflies," is a great book.

"Fishflies," spends much of its time following a young girl named Franny Fox who lives on a farm in Ontario and ends up becoming friends with a fugitive--before things take a quite fantastical turn with a touch of body horror. The title of the comic refers to the insects commonly called fishflies that can cause quite a mess during their breeding season. They play a major role in the story and are the reason that the story goes from being a bit of a slice-of-life tale to a bit of a surreal sci-fi yarn. I'm being somewhat vague on purpose as the twist at the end of the first issue is quite attention-grabbing and will surely hook readers so that they want and read the rest of the series--spoiling it just feels mean for me to do as while I am someone who doesn't mind spoilers I know some folks do not enjoy being spoiled.

Besides a great story another massive draw for, "Fishflies," would be Lemire's art. Whether drawing the quiet emptiness of a farm or the eerie sight of a convenience store covered in fishflies, his beautiful illustrations always impress. I greatly enjoyed resisting, "Fishflies," and can't wait to read the entire story!

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

From Bootleg Tapes to Faux Funko Pops, Pop-Culture Fans Create All Kinds of Wild Stuff

Back in the day fans of bands would sometimes make bootleg tapes of their rarer B-sides, lives shows, and so forth. The Grateful Dead is a big example of this, but it has happened with many music artists. Fan-created VHS tapes abounded too, as well as shirts and other not-quite-legit merchandise. With the rise of Youtube and such you now see that stuff streaming online more, but fan-created products that both celebrate an artist and cash in on their name remain to this day. Hence, when I read this article by James Powel for, "USA Today," about what are essentially bootleg Funko Pops of Taylor Swift, I smiled in recognition of a time-honored trend.

Homemade Funko Pops are a popular industry. With some careful wording (always just say, "Figure," and never, "Funko," for instance) you can find all kinds of custom Funko Pops on Etsy or other sites. The trend is common with other popular items that maybe haven't had an official product made for them as well. I have a number of not-Lego minifigures of Moon Knight that I've bought at conventions or online from those who make custom ones that--again--are not Lego, but if we're honest are bootleg Lego. Moon Knight is finally getting an official Lego figure, but plenty of other fan-made options have been around for years.

Lego, but not Lego.

If you love something specific in popular culture (a movie, television show, band, comic, or etc.) you've undoubtedly met fans who feel the same way. A number of those fans have probably found a way to express that affection through unofficial/bootleg products. They continue to exist in a legal gray area (besides when trying to pass a fake off as authentic as that gets shut down fast) and are an intriguing way to see how we as a population interact with the mass-media products we love. Whether is a fanzine about comics or a DVD with clips of an old concert, if an official item doesn't exist, the odds are good fans will make it themselves.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Thanos and a New Illuminati Will be Fighting in a Mini-Series Titled, "Thanos," So That's Fun

I enjoy well-written stories with Thanos. The group of various heroes known as the Illuminati has been an exciting team over at Marvel too. Created under the pen of Brian Bendis, Jonathan Hickman had them basically become a bit evil and destroy other Worlds in an effort to avoid what became the last Secret Wars. Now Thanos will be going up against the Illuminati in, "Thanos," with the talented Christopher Cantwell writing the four-issue mini-series and Luca Pizzari illustrating. That's a great team working on some cool characters! 

The Illuminati has had various members and this latest iteration will include Emma Frost and the Blue Marvel (a fan-favorite character who is criminally underused by Marvel most of the time). The exact plot of this mini-series is a bit of a mystery, with it only written how Thanos is coming to Earth to try to reclaim something that will reveal a shocking secret to the Illuminati. That sounds fun and Cantwell is a great writer so I bet it'll be a good tale. Plus, Pizzari's artwork is always a treat too so a nice concise four-issue series should be a good time. The first issue is set to come out in November of this year so we don't have to wait too long to read about Thanos and the latest Illuminati in, "Thanos."

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Check out the CoMo Comic Book Show this Coming Saturday!

There is going to be a fun comic event coming up on Saturday, August 19th. The CoMo Comic Book Show will be at 2525 N Stadium Blvd in Columbia, Missouri, and runs from 10AM-4PM. It was organized by my friend, Drew Stuart of CoMo Comics. The vendor spaces are totally sold out so there will be 21 awesome sellers from all over and the space will be packed with awesome stuff. I won't be able to attend the show as we're busy with our fresh baby, Gibson. I imagine it will be a fantastic time and hope anyone who is able to attend heads over there!

Saturday, August 12, 2023

OutKast and the South Helped Take Hip-Hop to Fantastic Places

This fantastic piece by August Brown discusses how OutKast and the South--especially Atlanta--had a major impact on Hip-Hop. The year 2003 marked the release of the incredible, "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," but back when OutKast won Best New Artist at the Source awards in 1995 for, "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik," Andre had stated, "The South got something to say." We know that now with artists such as Lil Jon, Killer Mike, Lil Uzi Vert, and more being popular, but a chunk of years ago rap was all about the East Coast and West Coast. 

One could argue--and be correct-that OutKast was a major reason that shifted--with there being credit due to many others, but OutKast could be argued to be the match that lit a fire. OutKast is my favorite music group of all time so maybe it is hard for me to be objective when it comes to stating how much they did for hip-hop, but seriously, OutKast did a lot for rap.

Mr. Beast is Being Sued by his Own Burgers

I previously admitted to not understanding the exact appeal of Jimmy Donaldson AKA Mr. Beast. I later tried his branded food from a ghost kitchen, Mr. Beast Burger. I thought it was decent. Other individuals did not have a good experience with Mr. Beast Burger, however. There was enough negative response that Mr. Beast himself said he wanted to disassociate from the company behind the brand, Virtual Dining Concepts. They responded by suing him for not being supportive enough of his beastly burgers. Everyone is suing everyone!

I think Mr. Beast has more of a case against VDC as they are hurting his brand with food that is at times inedible and making people sick. He just tweeted how he didn't like people hating the food and that VDC should have focused more on quality than expanding into a ton of markets with a subpar product. Either way, get your Mr. Beast Burgers while you can before they're gone...just make sure they're cooked the whole way through too.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Oh Boy, THAT One Spider-Man Story is Getting a Sequel/Get Ready for, "Spider-Man: Reign 2," Soon

Back in 2006, there was a four-issue mini-series known as, "Spider-Man: Reign." It was written and illustrated by Kaare Andrews. It had fantastic art as he is a great artist. The story was weird and controversial. It essentially was a Spider-Man version of, "The Dark Knight Returns," featuring Spidey in the future as an old man who quit being a hero but returns one last time to save the day. Also, he'd accidentally killed Mary Jane due to her developing cancer from his radioactive blood (when she cleaned his wounds) and his semen. Seriously, I'm not joking. Peter Paker had radioactive sperm and his act of, "Loving her," as the comic put it resulted in his slowly killing her over the years. It was a strange comic, but as I said, the art was really good.

Marvel seems to be leaning into how, "Spider-Man: Reign," was controversial as they were advertising how, "The most notorious Spider-Man story ever told," was getting a sequel. There have been lots of stories that got people talking/enraged so there was some debate about what yarn was being referenced, but now it has been revealed Kaare Andrews is back for, "Spider-Man: Reign 2." It will probably be quite weird. At least I imagine the art will be lovely. It'll be here in early 2024, it appears. Try to prepare yourself mentally.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Hot Comics Revue 15--Strike Me Down, Deadpool

There is a huge strike happening in Hollywood and that's put basically all the superhero movies on hold. It hasn't prevented one particular movie from getting tons of press, rumors, and so forth. Yes, "Deadpool 3," has the market moving more than any other comic-based movie, I'd argue. Let's look at what comics seem to be especially hot due to Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman teaming up again for the first time (let's ignore, "Wolverine: Origins," maybe) as Deadpool and Wolverine.

First Meeting

First appearances are kind of a given and these characters were already incredibly popular and have had successful flicks. That said, if you can't afford, "Incredible Hulk," #180/#181 or, "New Mutants," #98, you could always seek out the initial time the two heroes met in issue #88 of, "Wolverine." It trends for an easy $80-$100 or so in great condition.

Random Characters and Alternate Universes

It seems that Deadpool might be killing the Fox Universe version of Marvel's characters. This had led to everything from Jennifer Garner's Elektra appearing to the mini-series, "Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe," getting hot as it's the closest thing in concept to what the movie might be. Other folks who haven't even been in a Marvel movie are getting traction too, however. The rumor of Channing Tatum as Gambit never dies and even Cassandra Nova--Professor Xavier's evil twin sister--has been thrown out as an appearance in this movie. Such rumors have made already-pricey comics like, "Daredevil," #168 with Elektra's first appearance costing even more and led issues that were mostly floating around $10 to shoot up as well.

Wolverine's Original Outfit

Yes, this is getting kind of silly. Wolverine first appears in his classic outfit on the last page of, "Incredible Hulk," #180, but, "Marvel Comics Presents," #95 tells the story of how Wolverine acquired the original getup he wore for a bit. This was a dollar bin comic but now I've seen it going for almost 20 smackers after set photos leaked of Hugh Jackman in this comic-accurate getup. Clearly even if, "Deadpool 3," is going to be delayed because of Hollywood being on strike that hasn't slowed down speculation relating to the movie.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

"Totally Accurate Battle Simulator," is a Hoot

Thanks to the good ol' Game Pass on my Xbox Series S, I can sample an assortment of games. I'd heard of, "Totally Accurate Battle Simulator," or, "TABS," before and wanted to try it out. Having played it a good chunk, this game is a hoot! You basically enter a level facing enemies and can place your own units to see how a fight plays out. If you want you can control a character too or simply float around the battlefield. 

There are all kinds of wacky characters and the zany physics makes the fights hilarious to watch. If you don't want to play, "TABS," more strategic levels you can always go into the sandbox mode and just fiddle around. Want to see if a bunch of potion throwers can beat two mammoths? Have at it! Curious if a ton of cavemen with clubs can take Zesus and his lightning powers? Nothing is stopping you!

"TABS," is really fun to play. There is a strange satisfaction to finding the right combination of units to conquer a level and it is always hilarious to start random fights in the sandbox. If you have an Xbox or computer with Game Pass I'd 100% recommend trying this game out. Even if you don't have those this is worth every penny if you choose to buy a copy to own as well. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have my scarecrow fight some knights.

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, August 7, 2023

"Heavy Metal," Magazine Seems to Have Ended

"Heavy Metal," magazine started being published in 1977 and as of 2023 seems to be dead. The long-running publication drew inspiration from a foreign publication, "Métal Hurlant," and contained all kinds of cool and edgy stories geared toward adults. It wasn't outright pornographic like underground comix could at times be, it was instead alternative, strange, and thoughtful...with some nudity thrown in for good measure. Issue 320 was going to be the final entry of volume 1 (it came out in April 2023) but then a relaunch was due to happen with Whatnot's publishing division. That plan fell apart and we've arrived at--as RM Rhodes' put it on Comicsbeat--"The Uncertain Death of Heavy Metal Magazine." It's been a strange road indeed.

"Heavy Metal," as a publication has had a lot of ups and downs. The last era one could consider, "Good," would probably be when Grant Morrison served as Editor-in-Chief for twelve glorious issues between 2016 and 2018. Things were rough at times before that, but after their reign, it all went downhill fast due to poor management and horrible business moves (NFTs, lack of order fulfillment, and more). The reason I and everyone else are pointing out this end isn't for sure would be that, "Heavy Metal," itself has not confirmed it is dead. Without a new publishing partner, it would appear the magazine has concluded, but the company remains silent. Barring some unforeseen rising from the ashes of failure like a mythical phoenix I would say, "Heavy Metal," is done.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

What is With People Throwing Stuff at the Performer When Attending Concerts?

A new trend kicked off when someone decided to throw a cell phone at BeBe Rexha. When he later was arrested he literally only offered as a defense that it seemed like it might be funny. As someone who uses his cellphone a lot, I can't get behind the logic of chucking one at someone unless you have some kind of backup, "Throwin' phone," for special occasions. That action seemed to kick off a bunch of madness this Summer, however. Since then all kinds of people have tossed all sorts of objects on stage or directly at singers. Drinks, vape pens, and even the ashes of a family member have gotten tossed (at P!nk). Recently, Cardi B had water splashed upon her and she responded by forcefully throwing her microphone at the, "Fan," who did it. The so-called fan wanted to press battery charges, but that went nowhere as the supposed victim instigated the whole thing. Why are people doing this now though? Well, the two most common answers seem to be:

1. The pandemic fucked us up mentally.


2. Social media has continued to fuck us up mentally.

It's a toxic combination. After all, we were locked up for a chunk of years and don't know how to act in public anymore plus social media puts us in these parasocial relationships with famous people where we feel like they are really our friends and owe us something. Many people spent two-and-a-half years stuck in the house thinking they were connecting with various celebrities they followed/practically stalked on social media. You don't have a friendship with P!nk and she doesn't want some of your Mother's ashes. Drake doesn't want your Vape pen either. Adele has made it clear she won't accept such action when she said as a half-joke, "..throw something at me and I’ll fucking kill you." It probably doesn't help that people who are obsessed with famous individuals maybe desire some fame themselves--settling for the infamy of being, "That idiot who hit BeBe Rexha in the face with a phone," if nothing else.

Yes, in the past fans would throw bras and panties onstage to express admiration/amorous feelings for a celebrity, this isn't a totally brand new trend. That said, when lovers of the Beatles tossed jelly beans at them because they heard it was George Harrison's favorite candy, that was done out of fondness. Practically blinding BeBe Rexha or soaking Cardi B's face in water just is a dick move you're doing to get attention in a crowded stadium. Get your shit together, people.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Today Was Gibson's Official Due Date and Would Have Been Kim's Birthday

Gibson being cute.

Today, August 5th, was Gibson's original due date. However, due to health risks, Samii had to have his birth induced and he joined us on July 12th. August 5th was also the birthday of my Mother-in-law, Kim. She passed suddenly in June of 2020 and I wrote about when she would've turned 58. She would have turned 61 today and been able to celebrate her birthday with a new grandson if she still were with us. I am overjoyed to have Gibson but an occasion like this makes me think about how many people were alive to enjoy Clarkson's birth but were gone by the time Gibson arrived. My Bubbie, my Aunt Martha, Sam's Dad Matt, Kim, and more. It all results in mixed feelings, as I've written about before

My parents came to visit during the week and got to meet Gibson. I was so happy they could hold him and show him their love, it just also made me think about the people whom I wish could have also loved Gibson now that he's finally here as our beautiful rainbow baby following the loss of our second pregnancy and the child we could not have, Shalom.

Kim and Clarkson when he was a much smaller little guy.

There are so many mixed feelings, but I know above all I am thankful for the love and support from those we have here with us as well as just as much love and support we would've received from those who couldn't be here any longer. Even if Kim has passed I know she would've been so happy to meet Gibson and it would've been a fun birthday for her. It just sucks that couldn't be the reality today.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Image Comics is Pretty Much Totally Done With Diamond

Back in May of this year, it was announced Image Comics would distribute all their individual comics/floppies via Lunar Distribution. This was a hit for Diamond but their trade paperbacks (a significant source of sales for Image) would still be distributed to bookstores by Diamond while could do wholesale of the comics--a slight saving grace for Diamond as it continued to hemorrhage publishers. Well, that's no longer the case as Simon & Schuster shall now get all of Image's graphic novels to bookstores. Ouch, that's gotta sting for Diamond as they now will only help with Image's distribution outside America (for now).

It is strange to think as recently as 2019 Diamond was the sole distributor of floppy comics and had a significant market presence in regard to distributing graphic novels. Then in 2020 at the height of COVID, we saw DC partner with the newly-formed Lunar. After that it was a bunch of dominos up to the present day as DC later become solely aligned with Lunar, Marvel partnered with Penguin Random House, and other publishers joined exclusively with Lunar & PRH (or partnered with multiple distributors) leaving Diamond taking a lot of hits. For years upon years, comic stores expressed to customers/online/to anyone who'd listen how much they hated dealing with Diamond and wished there were better options. There was trepidation as Lunar and PRH entered the scene, but now the market is quite diversified and it is doing great things for everyone...except Diamond, of course.

Diamond most likely will never totally fold. They still have some exclusive publishers, can distribute other stuff wholesale, and sell a lot of other collectible items to stores (toys, Funko Pops, board games, and the like). However, it wouldn't surprise me to see Diamond have to downsize operations more and more as they see their influence in the market shrink. It's been a rough three years for Diamond.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Wishing Donny Cates a Full Recovery

Donny Cates had seemingly disappeared from a number of comics he was the writer on and there were rumblings and rumors he was going through a lot of personal stuff. Apparently, it was even more drastic than that. Cates was in a major car crash (with scars to show it) when a car he was in the backseat of got struck. It broke ocular bones and left him unable to remember a good six months of his life due to a brain bleed. He's been through rehabilitation and also disclosed that one rumor was true that he was going through a divorce when all this happened. Cates wanted all this to come out as opposed to being, "Bullshit gossip." It has clearly been a long year for Cates and he discussed how he had to re-learn to tie his shoes and feed himself so that is why he fell off a lot of titles and hasn't been putting out much work. 

Clearly, being in an awful car accident and injured is a good reason to take time for yourself. I would hope this stops all the conjecture about just why Donny Cates seemed to be doing less work in comics and I wish him a full and speedy recovery.

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

The, "Werewolf Jones and Sons Deluxe Summer Fun Annual," is Some Twisted Hilarity

Simon Hanselmann is a fantastic cartoonist whose work I quite enjoy. His latest publication is a collaboration between Hanselmann as well as (in no specific order) HTML Flowers, Nate Garcia, and Josh Pettinger. A nice hardcover book collecting some previously published works as well as new stuff, the focal point is there in the title, "Werewolf Jones and Sons Deluxe Summer Fun Annual," although more seasons are represented too. The book contains a sampling of all the madness WWJ brings to the World because he is one big agent of chaos. Werewolf Jones is the personification of bad decisions. He's constantly engaging in unsafe sex, doing drugs, fighting folks, stealing, and otherwise behaving like an awful human being/werewolf. While other characters Hanselamnn has created are somewhat self-aware of their failings (Megg, Mogg, Owl, etc.) Jones feels he can do no wrong, even when almost anything he does is just plain wrong.

Within this collection, we witness Jones and his sons, Diesel and Jaxon (in one continuity they came out as Transgender and changed their names, but not in this continuity), going to a drug den as the kids sit around and attempt to avoid trouble, trying to trick or treat as things go horribly wrong, and in the one, count it one, instance where Jones does something sort of nice it still is terrible--he stops a teenaged bully from picking on his kids (albeit via hitting said bully with a car and then threatening to carve him with a piece of broken glass). As this is an anthology of sorts we have art by Hanselmann, Pettinger, and HTML Flowers. They all are fantastic creators and Garcia's colors in tales that were originally black-and-white are lovely--the bodily fluids practically jump off the page!

The, "Werewolf Jones and Son Deluxe Summer Fun Annual," is twisted and hilarious. Those who are easily offended should not dare touch this book, but anyone whose sense of humor could best be described as, "Dark," "Kind of off," or, "Utterly disgusting," will love this book. It's over 100 pages of Werewolf Jones doing what he does best--being the worst.

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Television Tuesday: We've Got a Trailer for, "Loki," Season 2

If we're being completely honest I am quite behind on a number of productions in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a bit burned-out on the MCU. The sheer number of releases and many of them being okay but sometimes a little dull/bland has resulted in me seeing a chunk of stuff but not all of it. That said, I really enjoyed the first season of, "Loki." The trailer dropped yesterday for the second season and it may be the first MCU project I'm hyped for since the "Moon Knight," show (which was decent and weird if not amazing). Tom Hiddleston is a treasure, Owen Wilson is always a delight, Sophia Di Martino is great, and Jonathan Majors is mired in controversy currently but also a skilled actor. We've got an awesome cast and if the story can manage to be as entertaining as the first season we should be in for a treat after some of the MCU feeling a bit like a slog. Check out the trailer below:

Fun, right? With everyone on strike, this may be the last MCU production we get for a bit (although I think, "Echo," maybe was in post-production and it might still release later) so at least it looks like a good time. The second season of, "Loki," starts on Disney+ this October 6th, so it isn't too long a wait.