Wednesday, July 6, 2022

"Batman," #125 Kicks off the Zdarsky and Jiménez Run With a Jolt of Energy

With issue #125 we have a new creative team on, "Batman," and I'm eager for more! Writer Chip Zdarsky is the only person I know of who has ever been scripting a Daredevil and Batman comic at the same time (some folks have tackled each at different points in their career). Jorge Jiménez is a fantastic artist and has partnered with Zdarsky for this new era of Batman, and they give us something pretty cool. Oswald Cobblepot AKA the Penguin is killing off anyone who is rich and refuses to donate their money, which puts Bruce Wayne and other people in his sights. Plus, Bruce is having nightmares--something that rarely occurs. 

Throughout the issue we have some new mysteries arise (something called, "Failsafe," activates), a villain's death I shan't spoil that actually surprised me a little (I don't know how long it will stick, but it did manage to shock a bit), and callbacks to past trauma's Batman has faced as new ones occur. It's the first issue of Zdarsky and Jiménez's run so they have to quickly and carefully lay out a bunch of stuff to build upon, but they're both pros and excel at doing so. The story has my attention and the art is gorgeous beyond belief (a rain-slicked Batman is always an impressively illustrated Batman). I'm a fan of both creators and if this first issue of their run is any indication we should be in for a great time while they're doing, "Batman."

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the back-up story in this issue that is also written by Zdarsky but features the artistic talents of Belén Ortega. It focuses on Catwoman as she deals with the social and financial fallout of the aforementioned villain who died. It ties together with the main story nicely while doing its own thing and zipping along delightfully with a bit more humor than the main Batman story. Should you be a fan of Batman you'll find the main and back-up story both great at scratching your fandom-itch and if you're a new/newer reader to the character you can follow along quite easily too. I'd say this is a fantastic...

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

A, "Web 3.0," Console Sounds Sufficiently Scammy and Dystopic

In news that had Kotaku absolutely cracking up at how obvious a scam it is, a supposed new console has been announced that will be focused on Cryptocurrency, NFTs, and otherwise is fake and stupid. Called the Polium One, it has no announced games, zero detailed specs, and is supposedly coming as soon as 2023 or as late as 2024 for an unclear amount of money/digital imaginary dollars. The logo also looks like they ripped off the Gamecube logo. My opinions on Crytpo/NFTs are well-known whether they are doing, "Well," or outright crashing. A video-game console designed with that grift in mind that is itself a scam is a bit of a perfect metaphor for all of this.

Monday, July 4, 2022

It's Independence Day...For What That's Worth This Year

Today is July 4th, Independence Day. I don't feel like there is much to celebrate in America this year, unfortunately. The Supreme Court is doing its best to destroy any progress our Nation has made in the last half-century (look at abortion, the environment, and so forth) with a fascism-obsessed GOP cheering it on. The Democrats seem more interested in discussing civility and compromise than actually realizing Republicans want to end any semblance of democracy, separation of church and state, and basically ban being LGBTQ+. The economy is a mess, gas prices are bad, COVID-19 still is a concern as much as folks want to pretend it isn't, and gun violence continues to run rampant (in case anyone forgot about that). Meanwhile, we have a former President who clearly encouraged the January 6th insurrection but somehow is still walking around free instead of in Prison for treason (Donald Trump was the worst President ever, I don't know how anyone could beat how horrific he was). Things are bad in America, yet despite all odds, I still have some hope.

I'm not proud of what my country is, but I'm hopeful about what it could someday be. If we can build off of the foundation we were given to make something great our Nation could be amazing. Right now it feels like the good ship America is going down in flames, sinking at a shocking rate. We are definitely at a low point as Nation, but I believe that stuff can get better. Some of the most awful people in power need to be voted out or they'll cling to power until they die of old age (seriously, look at some of the GOP and how decrepit, ancient, and hateful they are). We also clearly need to consider packing the Supreme Court, Biden needs to actually exercise some Executive privilege to fix a chunk of the messes going on, and basically, something has got to give as shit needs to change. But yeah, happy July 4th of 2022, maybe 2023 can be an improvement.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Oni Press--We All Seem to Have Questions With No Answers

Oni Press puts out some cool comics. I remember when they acquired Lion Forge and seemed to be doing well. Now, there seem to be some troubled waters. Multiple sites are asking what is going on with Oni Press? We've got multiple executives leaving, accusations of not paying creators their full royalties, and statements that titles weren't adequately advertised. At least, things weren't promoted beyond the inadvertent help provided to the title, "Genderqueer," when Republicans in Virginia complained it was obscene (because discussing anything beyond cisgender hetero lives is horrific in their eyes). Oni Press has remained relatively tight-lipped about any inner drama and it is worrisome. Oni Press/Lion Forge has given us some great comics. I hope everything gets worked out.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

When R&B Goes Country and Vice-Versa

When I was in the car coming back from Colorado my sister-in-law was playing various country songs, as she is a fan of the genre. I honestly don't listen to much country outside of some Johnny Cash, Garth Brooks, The (formerly Dixie) Chicks, and Trace Adkins. Hence, I was surprised to hear a very familiar song being sung by an unfamiliar voice. It was a man named John Michael Montgomery singing, "I Swear." I knew all the lyrics as apparently after he sang it the song became a smash hit with the cover version by the gentlemen of All-4-One. I had no clue it was even a cover as oftentimes people don't think about R&B and Country intersecting in such a manner. It has happened with some great songs that started as one genre and then became the other, however.

"Back At One," is a smash-hit song by the immensely talented Brian McKnight. However, some may actually know also as a country ballad by Mark Wills. Both are loaded with emotion, but they do indeed have a different vibe. Then you've got, "I Will Always Love You." Originally sung by Dolly Parton, it was later covered by Whitney Houston and went from a bit of a quiet song of love to an absolute epic when Whitney hits those high notes. Interestingly enough, Reba McEntire has a cover of Beyonce's hit, "If  I Were a Boy," but she has discussed she felt it didn't do the original justice and only released it due to pressure from her record label.

I didn't have much of a point to this post besides using it to show how a great song sometimes works wonderfully in multiple genres! Sometimes a good tune can work in all kinds of ways, and I like that. To bring us full circle I present a duet of John Michael Montgomery and All-4-One singing the song that gave me the idea for this post as a live duet to celebrate the success of both their versions:

 Wild to see both versions mashed up in a duet of sorts.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

"Take Your Kid to Work Day," #1 Balances Sci-Fi and Human-Focused Storytelling Superbly

I had the opportunity to read the indie comic, "Take Your Kid to Work Day," by Damian Starr and Peter Goffstein. Published by Starr's Illuminatus Comics, it balances the human elements of the story with some more sci-fi concepts in a great manner. The comic focuses on a young boy named Dennis whose parents are divorced and working through a lot of stuff. This is the grounded element of the story and helps you care about the characters before things get more surreal. Dennis gets to go with his dad, Dr. David Perdue, to a lab in a sort of, "Take Your Kid to Work Day," hence the title. However, reality starts to shift and break when the lab malfunctions, releasing all kinds of fictional creatures--some quite dangerous--into the World. Some cliffhangers hint that David maybe didn't realize just what the lab's true end goals were (it wouldn't surprise me if plans existed to weaponize the imaginary creations) and we witness as Dennis seems to go deeper into the strange altered reality within the lab.

I emailed Damian Starr about the comic and how I enjoyed it. He told me that a second issue may not be out for some time (various things in life causing delays) but if anyone would like to read the first issue they can reach out to Illuminatus Comics or his own Facebook page to ask about getting a copy. Damian also mentioned he has done some work for the publisher Outlaw Studio and would encourage folks to check them out as well. I'd recommend giving, "Take Your Kid to Work Day," a read as I enjoyed its mix of relatable human drama and wild sci-fi!

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

My Article Appears Yet Again in the Latest--and Last--Collection of, "Cinema Sewer," AKA the Eighth Volume

In the past, I have discussed enjoying reading Robin Bougie's zine dedicated to indie/trash/adult movies, "Cinema Sewer." Then I was honored to have an article in the 34th and final issue (Bougie has since gone on to do his, "Gutter Hunter," zine about underground comic books). Well, he has published the eighth and final collection of his, "Cinema Sewer," issues so my piece appears again within its pages! Bougie has extra material too and you can easily buy, "Cinema Sewer," Volume 8 at all finer bookstores if you ask them to order it, find it on Amazon (although it is only a preorder for now there), or order it from Bougie on his website so he receives more of a cut from the sale and you get it even sooner! I am so happy to have contributed to the legacy of, "Cinema Sewer," and am excited to read future issues of Bougie's new projects such as the aforementioned, "Gutter Hunter," and whatever else he gets up to!

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

"The Mighty," is Getting Republished by Image Comics!

"The Mighty," was a maxi-series from Peter J. Tomasi, Keith Champagne, Chris Samnee, and Peter Snejbjerg. It was extremely underrated and a bit overshadowed by a comic with a slightly similar theme, "Irredeemable." This series imagined a world with a single superpowered being--no others--who was secretly quite evil. Named Alpha One, the series followed a police captain named Gabriel Cole who uncovered a whole lot of stuff about Alpha One and had to stop him. Yes, it was to some degree a, "What if Superman were evil?" styled story, but it was actually fantastic and had a really satisfying ending (I know opinions are split on, "Irredeemable," and its conclusion). "The Mighty," has been out of print for years, however, until now.

Image will be reprinting, "The Mighty," in its entirety along with some hard-to-find eight-page stories, behind-the-scenes sketches, and more. I got a press email from Image announcing this new edition in the morning and it woke me up more than coffee as it got me so excited! Tell your favorite location to order you a copy and expect to see, "The Mighty," on September 28th (in comic-book shops) and October 4th (in bookstores). I'm pumped for it!

Monday, June 27, 2022

I Tried 7 Brew and Enjoyed Their Drinks!

On our way home from visiting family in Colorado (where I checked out a number of snazzy comic shops), we stopped in Topeka. While there we drove through a location called 7 Brew. Apparently, they originated in Arkansas but have expanded out of there to regions such as Kanas! They serve a variety of coffee, Italian sodas, smoothies, and so forth. As I love coffee I figured I would give the location in Topeka a try. I got a strawberry soda and some house blend coffee. 

When I pulled up the employees were very friendly and some were singing along to some music playing inside their big coffee stand (it is a strictly drive-through establishment, you don't stay there). I found my Italian soda to be very tasty and the coffee was delicious too. I purchased a sugar-free peach Italian soda for my wife, Samii, and she enjoyed it as well. If they were to open a 7 Brew in Saint Louis I'd probably eagerly frequent it. Should you ever be near one of their 20 or so locations I'd recommend checking them out!

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Three Great Comic Shops in Colorado Springs

I was recently on a trip to visit some of my wife's family in Colorado Springs. While were there I had a smidgen of time that I used to visit Three fantastic comics shops in the region! There were even more stores I did not have a chance to stop by (maybe on another visit), but the three I had a chance to explore were all lovely. Here they are in the order I visited them...

Video Game Exchange and Comics

Just some of the comics and books for sale!

This shop had a lot of cool newer and older comics in addition to selling a bunch of video-games, toys, and Funko Pops. The owner was incredibly nice and the comics were all priced very reasonably. I enjoyed digging through the comics for sale and admiring how much neat stuff there was within the store! The sheer amount of video-games present was just plain awesome as well, making this a haven for gamers as well as comic-book aficionados.

KaPow Comics and Coffee

If you love comics and coffee--like me--then this is the store for you! We met Matt, who handles the comic-book aspects of the store while his sister handles the coffee and such (she wasn't there when we stopped by). The shop had a bunch of new releases, tons of older stuff, and ample dollar bins! Plus, the names of various coffee drinks were inspired by comics which was really neat! There were some Funko Pops here as well and Samii bought a cute one themed for a Coca-Cola can!

EntertainMart Colorado Springs

Interestingly enough, EntertainMart is owned by the same parent company that has Vintage Stock (which we have in Saint Louis). This location was incredibly large, however, and chock full of items. Movies, music, books, games, toys, and the thing that I was after--comics! There were some more expensive books in the locked cabinets that an employee was kind enough to let me inspect and a bunch of good reads in the general back issues section as well. It was a fun place to close out my browsing adventures. I hope the next time I get back out here I can visit some more fun shops!