Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Another Batman Comic? This Time With Marc Silvestri Involved, Though? Fine, I'm Interested...

DC puts out a ton of Batman-related comics. Whether it is Batman himself, his allies, his villains, or something that is somehow related to Batman, it makes up a lot of their line. DC also has been putting out a number of snazzy Black Label comics...many of which have admittedly featured Batman. You would think I'd be tired of Black Lable comics featuring Batman or Batman comics in general, and I kind of am! However, when I read that Marc Silvestri is doing a Batman comic, I do actually get a bit intrigured.

Marc Silvestri will be writing and drawing, "Batman/The Joker: The Deadly Duo." It shall be a seven-issue series out of the regular DC continuity and you honestly had me at Silvestri drawing it. I know his art is a bit of an acquired taste, but I've always dug it. Ever since he helped found Image in 1992 the only DC work he's done is a short story in the, "Batman: Black and White," anthology back in 1996, so it has been a while since Silvestri has graced DC with his presence. The series will involve Batman and the Joker teaming up to help save Commissioner Gordon and Harley Quinn from some mysterious entity that has kidnapped them. As long as it looks gorgeous I'm eager to read it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Television Tuesday: Love Island USA on Peacock

I miss Matt Hoffman. If you watch, "Love Island USA," you know who I'm talking about, or you're very confused. Matt Hoffman was the announcer for the American version of this show and he was an absolute delight. He was hilariously snarky and said what we were all thinking as we watched the show. It was like having a friend sitting with you riffing on the absurdities of this reality program. When the American version of, "Love Island," got bought by NBC/Universal to be put on Peacock, however, they made some changes. Host Arielle Vanderburg was replaced with Sarah Hyland, but the host is so rarely around it barely has made an impact. Matt Hoffman was out and the narrator of the British version of the show, Iain Stirling, was brought in to talk about this one too. He's been...fine. He tells just random jokes that kind of relate to what's happening, but that's about it. I started my post about this season of, "Love Island," talking about the narrator because it is such a huge part of this show and the lack of Matt has perturbed me and other watchers of the show too. How is the actual, "Love Island," however? It's decently entertaining.

If you want to watch a show about people hooking up and possibly falling in love happen in almost real-time then the, "Love Island," franchise is generally a good choice. With episodes almost every night and the chance for viewers to vote on favorite/least favorite participants. The people on the show tend to be relatively personable, funny, and it is mandatory they are young and attractive. There are flaws with the show almost always being pretty heteronormative with it being male and female couples, but at least mention will be made at points about people being bisexual (almost always the women discuss it, I can't recall a sexually fluid guy anytime too recently). As is prone to happen when 20-somethings with raging hormones are left alone couples will form and then temptations will arise to mess it up and lots of drama will ensue. It's good junk food for the brain, even if it isn't the best thing ever.

I still miss Matt Hoffman as the narrator, but what's this? He just started hosting the official, "Love Island USA," podcast that launched a chunk of days ago when the housemates temporarily split up for the Casa Amour twist, you say? Well, that is some good news! I'll continue to enjoy to, "Love Island USA," for what it is and have that little bit of extra joy from hearing what Hoffman has to say. Good times all around.

3.5 out of 5 stars for, "Love Island," itself this season.

5 out of 5 stars for Matt Hoffman as a person in general because he's hilarious.

Monday, August 15, 2022

"Average Joe," #1-#3 is an Exciting Indie Comic!

I always enjoy reading and reviewing smaller-press/indie comics. I was browsing Offerup, of all places, when I saw Thomas Ryan, the creator/writer of a comic called, "Average Joe," was selling some extra copies of the series he had leftover from Kickstarter campaigns. I purchased the three issues that had come out so far to be shipped to me, they arrived shortly after, and I've given them a read. I quite liked what I've seen!

The story reminds me a bit of, "Top 10," mixed with a less outright-visceral version of, "The Boys." It is a World where there are tons of superheroes and even if not everyone is superpowered many people are. This has led to an oversaturation of good guys and very little crime for them to fight. Hence, it is important for anyone who is a hero to heavily promote themselves in the hopes of getting any semibalance of fame, endorsements, etc. This leads us to the protragonist, Max Buchanan, a relatively ordinary guy who attempts to be a big of a vigilante himself after some tragic events make him lose faith in the capes, as it were.

The art by Thien Uncage is great. The heroic characters have an intentionally sterotypical clean-cut look whilst villains are quite creepy and Max is extremely unassuming, as one would think he is until he starts engaging in his own superheroics. If I were to have a complaint about these three issues it would be that things don't really get going until the first third of the second issue in terms of Max Buchanan becoming the, "Average Joe." I understand the importance of developing a World and its characters before too much happens plot-wise, however, so I'm not especially bothered by the slow-burn style as once the action begins the comic is quite busy--especially in a fight-filled third issue.

"Average Joe," is a fun read with an interesting mixture of concepts. You can find issues for sale at the website of the publisher, Vivid Panel. I'd encourage you to give them a read if you dig smaller publishers the same way I do!

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Interesting News and Links as August 2022 Concludes


Augusts' End Nears

August is about to be done and Summer will (unofficially) culminate as well depending on if your schools and such start earlier or wait until after Labor Day (another unofficial end to Summer). How about we enjoy some news and such as the rest of August rolls out?

Some Good Reading

Denny O'Neil and Denys Cowan created an absolute masterpiece of a run when they tackled, "The Question." I need to save up some pennies and get volume 1 of the new omnibus. Steve Baxi of Comicsbeat writes about how great a read it still is.

I wrote about the "Variant" comic mess brought about by an acetate cover stapled onto an "Ultimate Fallout," #4 reprint at C2E2. It appears the company behind it, Black Flag, had their plans to do more controversial covers stopped. There will undoubtedly be more news as this develops.

Unless you were under a rock lately you probably saw the FBI raided Trump's current compound/house down in Florida. It seems he had stacks of classified documents--illegally--and I honestly can't believe he just keeps getting away with crimes and is free of a prison cell. Meanwhile, his blindly loyal followers are threatening civil war, so great times all around.

This article discussing, "The Thing," is a fantastic look back at the classic film. I often discuss how it is just a great movie. See it if you have not yet!

There was a post I made about how there are concerns about Valiant in regards to its survival as a comic publisher. They've now cut back to one comic release per month so one continues to wonder and worry.

"South Park," turns 25 this year. It has had some great seasons and some weak ones, but it manages to stay quite culturally relevant and entertaining, so that deserves props.

I have a soft spot for the, "Gothic," franchise having absolutely adored, "Gothic II," back in the day. Seeing that the first game is getting remade has my attention and makes me hope the sequel might get the same treatment at some point too!

"Day Shift," sounds like a movie I'd be into. It is a combination of action, comedy, and a dash of horror. It has actors I like in the form of Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, and Snoop Dogg (he's been good in some flicks, seriously). It is on Netflix so I honestly need to watch it soon.

Finally, readers of the blog know I am extremely pro-choice. I was pleased to see even if our nation is a dumpster fire right now when it comes to abortion rights that voters in Kansas voted to protect a person's right to choose.

Fall Rapidly Approaches
Fall is a wonderful season and it is rushing towards us. I don't have any beef with September, but October is my favorite month so hopefully, September goes by quickly and smoothly so we can get to the good stuff.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

"The Quarry," is a Terrifyingly Fun Game

Way back in 2015 I played and reviewed, "Until Dawn." The developer, Supermassive Games, has their latest big release out now, "The Quarry," and I loved it. With a story that is a bit more focused than, "Until Dawn," and a good number of self-aware jokes about the horror genre, "The Quarry," is a lot of fun for horror fans or those who enjoy interactive dramas (with many possible outcomes). Focused on camp counselors who end up stuck at the camp for an extra night, things start to go horribly awry when it becomes apparent some kind of creatures are lurking in the forest, and they're hungry. The game takes its time getting to anything especially scary, however, instead easing us into getting to know everyone and slowly introducing gameplay mechanics that will later literally mean the difference between life or death.

Yes, the gameplay, my one quibble with all this. Much like, "Until Dawn," there are times you are basically watching the game and get dialogue prompts or choices you can make that drastically impact the story. I like these elements. There are also times you may have to move the joystick or hit the X button for a quick-time event as they are called. These are perfectly fine. Then, at some points, you are given control of a character and can wander around an area looking for items of note until you walk to the right spot to trigger more interactive-movie-style moments. These parts of the game are my least favorite. The characters feel kind of floaty and are not always the most responsive to the direction I'm trying to point them in. Then, I'll be walking along and the game's camera suddenly shifts to a whole new angle and I find myself struggling to point a character in the right direction to go where I want them to slowly amble towards It's a bit tedious, but I enjoyed so much of the game besides those times I had to wander around looking for points of interest that I can't whine too much.

When you see these symbols get ready to move your joystick/mouse cursor.

"The Quarry," is an incredibly fun time and I was amazed how after I beat the game and Googled all the various possible ways the story can go for the differing characters. There is no, "Correct," ending in the game, but some endings are arguably happier than others when it comes to keeping everyone that you get to play as alive (or just intentionally messing up a bunch so everyone dies if you want that to happen as well). I played the game on my PS5 and the graphics were absolutely gorgeous, but it looks quite snazzy on older consoles as well, from what I've seen. Should you desire a good dose of horror or just want a solid story-focused game, "The Quarry," is worth the 7-10 hours it'll ask of your time to do at least one play-through.

5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, August 12, 2022

I Got a Comic at the Dollar Tree That Ties-In With Their Toy Line--And it is Actually Fun!

I was at the Dollar Tree with my wife and son browsing for various objects and noticed something interesting. There was a comic themed for the, "Final Faction," toys (and apparent animated series on YouTube). Titled, "Final Faction: First Impact," it involves the various soldiers who fight space aliens known as the Kharn. It's a bit like G.I. Joe mixed with Starship Troopers. You have troopers with various themes, creepy aliens, lots of accessories, and the whole thing is a little bit future-retro and tongue-in-cheek.

The plot of the comic centers on how in 2050 a comet strikes the moon. This reveals how long ago an alien race (the Kharn) were coming to Earth but got stuck in a form of space hibernation that resulted in a bunch of space debris forming around their massive ship--the moon was essentially a super dirty alien space ship, in other words. The First Faction is formed to fight the aliens and the comic climaxes in an epic battle within Death Valley. The Kharn are driven off (for now) but the back of the comic advertises how a second issue will be coming featuring a battle against the invaders within Costa Rica. It's good fun.

The toys that go with the comic.

The script of the comic is by Tony Osborne, who has worked on a variety of movies, television shows, and now comics. The art is by Chris Marrinan, who is known for his work in the past with Eclipse, illustrating, "Wonder Woman," and being the artist on, "Captain America," some years back. These aren't just random people, they are actual folks with experience, and it shows in how the comic is actually really good. It has a fun vibe like you're reading a tie-in comic for an old kid's cartoon, and the vintage feel is clearly intended with some faux-ads (by Pete Mcdonnell) at the back of the comic for funny fake products. It is a throwback to as if you're reading some old floppy from the 1980s at your local drugstore.

"Final Faction: First Impact," cost me about $1.35 to purchase (the Dollar Tree raised prices due to inflation a bit ago) and was arguably more entertaining than some full-priced comics that are hitting the stands at comic shops. Hence, I give this 5 out of 5 stars. Plus, this is an ingenious way to promote the toys. You've got the Youtube cartoon, the comic, and now the toys, all at your local dollar tree for a price that will make parents shrug and go, "Fine, we can couple because they're cheap." You can watch the show and read up on the toys at the Dollar Tree website for, "Final Faction." Give it a chance, it's really fun.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Yogi Donuts are a Delicious Treat

Over at the West County Mall, they have made one of their food court's spots a, "Pop up eatery." Various businesses will appear at it for a week or so and then be gone. It's a clever idea and I swung by the Mall to check out the first business to, "Pop up," Yogi Donuts. Yogi Donuts has a food truck that serves delicious mini-doughnuts with tasty toppings. To raise awareness of their truck and how you can book it for all kinds of events they were at the Mall and I bought some doughnuts to try. I got the honeylicious option that features the miniature donuts covered in sugar and topped with honey. It was quite yummy.

These made-to-order doughnuts are hot, definitely satisfy the tastebuds, and I am pleased to have tried them! If you live in the Saint Louis region I'd encourage you to stop by the West County Mall as Yogi Donuts will be there the rest of the week (Sunday is their last day). That, or you can always find them on Instagram and Facebook to find out where their truck will be next--or book it for your own event!

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Comic, "Variant," Mess That C2E2 Wrought

The Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo just happened and the event itself was a good time, by all accounts. That's not what everyone in the comic-sphere is discussing at the moment. A company by the name of Black Flag had an old, "Ultimate Fallout," #4 reprint (the first appearance of Miles Morales) variant laying around so they stapled a new acetate cover to it. Then they got this bootleg cover of sorts graded by CGC as an official thing and solid it at C2E2 to a bunch of vendors and popular, "Influencers," in bulk. This made it hard for other folks to get the thing and a perfect storm of controversy erupted. The talking points are...

1. Black Flag basically mutilated their original comic by stapling on a plastic cover that makes the whole thing ugly and has a grammar typo (it reads, "In God We In Trust,") yet CGC graded it with a universal label as if it is its own unique comic.

2. Marvel did not approve the alterations to the comic beyond the initial variant cover so it is essentially counterfeit in the eyes of Marvel, is being reported by folks as not legitimate on eBay, yet got graded as if it were legitimate.

3. Some folks were claiming that influencers and vendors were cutting the line for copies of the comic and the popular app Whatnot actually was involved in getting them access. I actually have a friend who wishes to remain anonymous and they attended C2E2. They filled me in on what they witnessed of this debacle. They say those people had pre-paid for the comics and were picking up their bulk orders, but were not skipping the line according to what my friend witnessed. Also, Whatnot itself had nothing to do with it, it was just some sellers who are popular on Whatnot that took the initiative to order a bunch of copies in advance. Apparently, the Whatnot app staff/owners were as caught off guard by all of this as anyone else.

4. Black Flag raised the price on the comic once people started flooding the booth trying to get it, hearing it was, "Hot," from those vendors and influencers on Instagram/Whatnot/etc. They started charging even more because everyone suddenly wanted this controversial comic and it sold out quickly because--as mentioned--a bunch of people had bought copies in bulk.

5. Black Flag has said they are going to do this whole stapled-on-acetate-cover again at an upcoming convention and has outright announced they will have two lines. A line for people they deem big enough, "Influencers," who can buy 10 copies of their new comic at once to then resell, and a line where normal folks can buy a single comic. This has rubbed people the wrong way that Black Flag is outright selling stuff to resellers for the purpose of reselling as some folks view comic reselling and speculation as a plague upon the industry. I like to buy and sell comics for fun as the ones I, "Flip," help pay for my personal collection, so my feeling on speculation and reselling are not that negative, but intentionally playing to speculators is just a losing game that results in a bubble waiting to pop--look at the comic crash of the 1990s.

Fans are pissed, CGC is embarrassed, Marvel is upset, Black Flag is unrepentant, and things are probably only going to get crazier at this rate.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Jelly Belly's Watermelon Sparkling Water is Surprisingly Tasty

I am a big fan of seltzer water/sparkling water/etc. I saw that Jelly Belly--of jelly bean fame--actually had their own seltzer. There are multiple flavors out there, but only watermelon was in stock at the store, so I figured I would give it a try. I was pleased with how tasty a drink it actually was. As it was sparkling water it was not sweet, just had a nice crisp watermelon flavor to compliment the bubbles. If you enjoy seltzers don't let the brand association of super-sweet jelly beans scare you away from giving a chance to this sparkling water. It is actually quite good.

Monday, August 8, 2022

The First Two Issues of, "Aquaman: Andromeda," Are an Eerie Delight

"Aquaman: Andromeda," is a Black Label book from DC written by Ram V with art by Christian Ward. It is one of those snazzy magazine-sized comics DC sometimes does with their Black Label and as it is geared towards older readers has some F-bombs. The Black Label is what emerged from the remnants of Vertigo and while I don't read too much of the regular DC books I've really been liking the Black Label output. This, "Aquaman," comic with its mixture of a sci-fi and horror vibe has hooked my attention much like other Black Label titles.

The comic doesn't focus on Aquaman, instead having him serve more as an ominous force that exists in the Ocean, with our main characters being a crew on an experimental ship sent to explore a possible alien craft that has landed in the Ocean from outer space. Black Manta has been hired to inspect the craft as well and Aquaman clearly has an interest too. This results in a whole lot of folks converging in the second issue upon the mysterious vessel and a lot of things going horribly wrong in a most creepy manner.

Ram V fills the comic with a sense of dread, emphasizing how isolating and otherworldly the ocean can feel. Christian Ward's art is perfect too, portraying a cold and mysterious underwater landscape. Then in issue two, Ward gives the strange alien ship a bright and colorful yet menacing vibe. It's a fantastic mini-series so far and I can't wait to see where it goes as the ocean and what it contains only get more dangerous.

5 out of 5 stars.