Monday, July 22, 2019

Summarizing the Stuff at CCI/SDCC I Found Interesting

Come and Gone
Comic-Con International AKA San Diego Comic-Con has come and gone, leaving in its wake a bunch of exclusive stuff being sold at a big markup (people love those Lego mini-figs) and an assortment of announcements to mull over. A lot clearly happened, and I found some of it interesting. Here, in handy bullet-point form, is some stuff I thought was neat:
  • My mentioning of Jeffrey Wright also reminds me that HBO was at the con, showing off more of the upcoming third season of, "Westworld," which is of course a show I love despite its tics, and they also revealed more about that new take on, "Watchmen," which looks weirdly interesting.
  • Image has a new series, "Undiscovered Country," on the way that sounds interesting with its discussion of a United States that walls itself off from the World for decades due to a pandemic.
  • Jonathan Hickman and friends revealed a whole new X-Men line including his, "Dawn of X," book featuring mutants in space. It is Hickman, so I'm gonna read it.
  • Tom King will be making another one of his usually-great maxi-series, this time about Adam Strange. His work is either amazing or terrible, but I think this sounds pretty solid.
  • The Russo Brothers (the directors of recent, "Avengers," movies) are going to be making adaptations of previously minimally-known but now soon-to-be-popular properties, "Grimjack," and, "Battle of the Planets."
It was clearly a big show, and lots more happened, but that was all the stuff that immediately comes to my mind as having an opinion about. Now the city of San Diego has a whole year to clean-up the mess left behind before doing it all again.

I Reported it Before Anyone Else AKA "Blade," is Getting Rebooted!

Remember a little over a year ago when I said I had some resources at comic-cons who told me various bits of scuttlebutt, some which seemed more plausible than others? One of these anonymous sources insisted to me that Disney/Marvel had plans to reboot, of all things, the character, "Blade," now that the rights had reverted. I thought it sounded a little far-fetched, but then at the most recent Comic-Con International/San Diego Comic-Con during its big panel Marvel revealed that none other than, "Blade," would be a part of their upcoming phase 4 of movies, with the talented Mahershala Ali as the titular hero.

As far as i know I was the first person to ever report this was happening. Perhaps because I am a smaller website nobody at Disney or Marvel took note of my discussion of a, "Blade," reboot being leaked to me way back in February of 2018, but there it is. I am both pleased there will be a new, "Blade," movie and also ecstatic people tell me stuff to then report. If anyone else wants to leak me juicy info I'm always open to reporting it and shan't tell anyone you spilled the beans to me, just to throw that invite out there!

Sunday, July 21, 2019

A Tale of Two Jesuses AKA Some Newer Comics Critically Examined Christianity

Comics and Christ
Two comics have come out relatively recently that feature an interpretation of Jesus. One of these comics is satirical and has the literal Jesus, another is more of a crime-thriller and features a person declaring himself, "The Christ," and performing miracles of sorts. They are both pretty good comics with pros and cons and each are published by smaller publishers who don't mind the possible controversy of touching upon religion. The books are, "Second Coming," from Ahoy Comics and, "Crucified," by SCOUT Comics.

Second Coming
"Second Coming," of course has gotten a good chunk more press, having started its life solicited as a part of a revamped (and now axed) Vertigo-line. DC got nervous when some arch-Conservatives whined about a book that dares question modern-dare Christians and how badly some interpret Jesus' gospel, so they gave the creators (Mark Russell, Richard Pace) the right to go to another publisher. Ahoy comics realized they didn't hate money (lots of press generally = sales) so they gladly let the creator-owned book come join the company. The first issue came out, and it is pretty solid. The general idea is that God is annoyed with how peaceful and laid-back Jesus is, wanting his son to instead dole-out some Old Testament-fashioned Justice to the dwellers of Earth. God notices a popular super-hero who is quite rough-and-tough, Sunstar, and asks him to take Jesus under his wing.

It is a wild concept and the book immediately does a good job showing how even if Sunstar is strong and powerful he isn't some hateful dunce (a sweet scene with he and his wife discussing wanting a child gives him a lot of humanity) and Jesus right away finds himself confused by this Earth he's returned to using the symbol of his death, a cross, as a representation of the religion that is supposed to follow his teachings. There is a lot of ground to cover in the first issue, but it does a solid job and nobody comes across as a caricature.
I would not say the book is anti-Christian at all as some people who didn't even read it claimed, it just is unafraid to take Christians to task for actually practicing what they preach. If any character is called-out, it is God himself for his treatment of humanity, growing enraged when it doesn't do exactly as he demands yet giving people free-will. Some of the jokes do fall a bit flat and I'm curious how the overall plot develops as we proceed, but it's a solid start.

Crucified
"Crucified," is published by another indie-company I adore, SCOUT Comics, and is as tonally different from, "Second Coming," as could be possible. Done by writer Sheldon Allen and artist Armin Ozdic, it focuses on Los Angeles where a year previously from the book's timeline a huge race-riot had erupted between the Black and Latino population. Mayhem raged for two weeks and when it looked like the more affluent regions populated by White folk (Hollywood, and such) were at risk then the Mayor did a last-ditch effort. He reached-out to a popular speaker whom had been amassing followers thanks to his preaching and apparent ability to heal others known only as, "The Christ." The Christ marched to City Hall, simply said, "Enough," and then the riots just...stopped. Now a year later everyone is reeling from the implications of all this and trying to figure this The Christ guy out. It is a really good hook, but the book gets a little overstuffed with a ton of subplots.

In terms of story-lines fighting for space, we have The Christ's head of security who seems to be a bit crooked, an assassin hired to kill The Christ by people concerned he will bring too much stability and ruin businesses that thrive on mayhem, a reporter trying to get an interview with The Christ, and some other stuff that results in a very busy book that I feel could've benefited from maybe a double-sized debut issue just to really get stuff fleshed-out. Then again, the fact I was so eager to read more is a good thing as well, because the book is great.
"Crucified," is a bit less about religion as it is more-so about race, politics, and how money can get people to do terrible things. The power of belief clearly plays a role, but with so many plots and subplots happening in the book one character I really would've liked to learn more about, The Christ, is still quite a mystery. I'm curious how all this stories will come together as the book proceeds I am without a doubt eager to see where this goes.

Why Critically Examine Christianity?

One could ask, "Why bother?" of these comics that engage with Christianity and Jesus from a critical standpoint. After all, those who are super-Conservative and refuse to have any of their beliefs questioned won't read one of these comics, and those who are open to critical discussion will find these books are essentially, "Preaching to the choir." That said, there are plenty of people who may be a little religious (within Christianity or another religion) and find it interesting to see the subject of Jesus and his teachings looked at from a modern-day lens.

Whether it is more satirical with, "Second Coming," where Jesus finds himself upset at how humanity now practices his gospel or, "Crucified," with its intricate look at the way we might respond to a potential second-coming and all the socio-cultural complexities that might bring, both books are very well-done in their examination of Christianity, and it helps they are good reads in general too!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

50 Years Ago Today We Landed on the Moon for the First Time

50 years ago today, at this moment, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were on the moon in their lander. At 9:17 PM my time (Central) that half-century ago Mr. Armstrong will have stepped out onto the lunar surface. It is an awe-inspiring thought that we as humans were able to point our rockets up off of Earth to reach the Moon instead of pointing them at other countries, if ever-so-briefly. My Grandfather, Raymond Burton, worked for NASA those years ago when we went to the moon and always had stellar stories about it and everything else. I miss him a lot, but all this reminiscing about when we went to the Moon would make him smile.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Mini-Run Review: Floppy Cop #1-#3

I've been reading some of the quality books from Source Point Press off-and-on for some time now, they have put out a number of quality reads with, "Achilles Inc." being one recent release I enjoyed. Another I wanted to spotlight with a mini-run review thanks to it being just plain clever and hilarious is, "Floppy Cop." Written by Dan Dougherty and illustrated by Seth Damoose, it follows an assortment of zany police officers (including one who seems to lack certain bones and just flops around) as they try to solve a series of crimes linked by mysterious crossword puzzles.

It can be really hard to be funny in comparison to being dramatic, sad, or shocking. I struggle to think of too many comic-books that have made me laugh out loud, but "Floppy Cop," succeeded in doing so multiple times. Whether it was the discussion of dirty crossword clues, or one officer attacked by the mysterious crossword criminal having a coma-dream about pretzels in soap-opera situations. Yes, I was cracking-up a lot. I attribute my laughter to Dougherty's expert writing and Damoose's stellar illustrations. Damoose draws everything in a manner that is realistic but makes the odd moments stand-out even more--e.g. Floppy Cop and his surreal body.

These three initial issues of, "Floppy Cop," were a treat to read. With the wonderful art, fun plot, and hilarious jokes I can't wait for more issues to come-out. I eagerly rate these first three issues 5 out of 5 stars.

Let Me Get This Straight: NOW A Bunch of People are Worried About Russia and Their Privacy?

Let me get this straight: A bunch of American citizen had zero cares about the idea Russian tech-experts were manipulating Facebook and other social media in an effort to influence the 2016 Presidential Election, but now suddenly are up-in-arms because pictures of them looking extra-young or extra-old might be in the hands of--you guessed it--Russia? That is the saga with this FaceApp that has been getting press. Apparently if the dumpster-fire candidate you want to win (Donald Trump) gets elected and his being in power doesn't negatively affect you because you're White and Christian, who cares if a foreign power interfered? Once these same carefree individuals suddenly find they could be affected by a foreign power (due to it having a whole bunch of personal pictures they consented could be used for anything because they did not read the terms and conditions of the app) however, well that is a travesty. I know tons of people may have downloaded this app who are concerned about privacy and foreign powers interfering in our politics, so I am by no means being sarcastic at them, my scorn is for all the folk who just loved the idea Russia helped get Trump elected but now are terrified.

I guess if Russia put your favored politician in power you don't care about the immigrants in concentration camps, persecution of LGBTQ individuals, or the destruction of a woman's right to choose. If Russia can take your smiling face and theoretically use it on a billboard, in an AI program, or make a deepfake where it looks like you're having raunchy sex with someone else however, suddenly you care about foreign powers with close ties to companies that do a lot of work in social media and social apps. Funny how that works, isn't it? Now a bunch of people suddenly are mad and care about how outside forces can influence our lives because that silly nude selfie they took to see what they would look like as a naked old dude/lady is in the hands of Russians who can do all kinds of terrible things with it. We started running a metaphorical tab when many people shrugged at foreign powers getting into our Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and other social-media apps. Now just one instance has occurred of the check coming due and folk are scoffing at the bill indignantly. They get none of my sympathy.
Yes, these are real.
Those people who wore shirts in public that said they would, "Rather be a Russian than a Democrat," can shut-up and accept it as the chickens come home to roost. Your President and his party isn't going to do anything about this, with Democrats actually expressing concerns about privacy, but Trump staying interestingly mum about a Russian tech company with possible Russian political ties doing all this shady stuff with their FaceApp. In the end, the thing that gets me is how could someone not be suspicious of a program as blandly named as, "FaceApp," considering all the scam/spam apps with equally weirdly-simple names? This is such a mess, as America seems to be daily ever since Trump assumed power.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Television Tuesday: Love Island is Deliciously Chill

There is a new (to America, at least) reality show that has become a fast favorite of Samii and myself. It is called, "Love Island," and it is deliciously chill. Unlike the current mess that is the, "Big Brother," season or a program a bit like, "Love Island," known as, "Bachelor in Paradise," which also sometimes gets way too emotionally heightened, everyone on, "Love Island," basically is just there to hang-out, make-out, work-out, and have some drinks (within reason, the show does not need a scandal like what BiP had). A huge hit in the UK, "Love Island," is all about couples pairing up--it can a bit heteronormative but bisexual and pansexual folk have been on and everyone is really chill about sexual fluidity and not at all homophobic (such as when two straight dudes chilled in a bubble-bath together last night to no rude jokes from anyone else)--then doing little challenges to win...well, there really is not anything to win. People can vote on their favorite couple in the end and that duo gets to split some cash, but otherwise all the contests or such are just for fun and so people can get to know each other. Everyone just relaxes, kisses sometimes, and it is like being on a vacation for an hour when you tune-in with a bunch of relaxed and moderately horny people chatting around you. Again, it is just wonderfully laid-back.

There is no, "Immunity," challenge to avoid getting voted-off, or special powers. It is just guys and gals choosing to spend time together and because there are always more men than woman or vice-versa, someone ends-up getting kicked-out due to the lack of anyone wanting to mack with them. Some reviewers have said the whole thing is a bit, "Boring, but hard to escape," with even critics admitting this is just weirdly watchable. It is a bit of a slow-burn, but Jezebel sees potential in it. Hell, lots of reviewers find themselves not being sure why they like the show, but wanting to keep tuning in--with it on 5 days a week there is plenty of content to enjoy too. Ratings have been lower-but-steady, with CBS usually being okay with less viewers in the Summer on these shows with lower budgets. I hope CBS gives it time as even the smash-hit UK version which is getting higher ratings than ever took some time to develop a following, "Across the pond," from us. Also, Matt Hoffman makes an awesomely snarky announcer so I am always eager to hear his thoughts on the various scenes of kissing and fondling. In the end, "Love Island, "is just really chill and maybe someone will find love at the end for all we know, or at least lots of heavy-petting and possibly even sex-stuff will occur. Either way, my wife and I are happy to just chill nightly on Love Island as long as CBS is willing to keep the show going--seriously, more people need to tune-in because I want more than a single season!
5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, July 15, 2019

News, Links, and General Nonsense for Mid-July

Sweltering and Storming

It's the middle of July and when it isn't raining here in Saint Louis it is hot as Hell. I suggest we try to take our mind off the downpours alternating with heat via some quality news and links.

Stuff to Absorb Into Your Mind
I was so excited for the new season of, "Big Brother," and then we got a cast full of absolutely awful people who are borderline-racists (or outright racists) bullies, and otherwise terrible. It is bad, everyone, really bad.

Speaking of racists who engage in bullying, Donald Trump is at it again, saying women who are members of minorities should, "Go back where they came from," which he can do because as Anne Branigin of The Root observes, "Because He Means It and Because He Knows He Can Win on It."

I'm always a sucker for alternate-Universe comic stories that imagine changes to popular characters or events ("What If," and, "Elseworlds," are my jam). Therefore, this new, "Dark Multiverse," line of comics from DC that introduces depressing results to assorted notable moments in history sounds fun (in a dreary way, at least).

A comic book about porn about that isn't porn but which features sci-fi astronauts having sex with space-aliens and filming it in order to fund their research? It has Tim Seeley as a co-scripter (I love a lot of his work) and is titled, "Money Shot," too? Okay, I'm all-in on this for sure.

Rob Zombie's films can vary widely in quality, and while I was mostly indifferent to, "House of 1000 Corpses," I found, "The Devil's Rejects," to be excellent in its surreal Quentin Tarantino-meets-Tobe Hooper vibe. How good the final movie of the trilogy, "3 From Hell," will be on that spectrum remains to be seen, but at least any scenes with Sid Haig are bound to be good.

As this article makes it clear, be very wary of men who claim to love, "Logic," or only think with logic. They tend to actually be highly emotional and irrational alt-right idiots who refuse to actually listen to reason.
Rock Paper Shotgun has a piece exploring why so many old games are coming back with sequels or remakes, delving into the power of nostalgia, something I've often talked about here on the blog too.

I'm a fan of Trevor Von Eeden's artwork and enjoy being friends with him on Facebook where he often muses on everything from the process of creating comics, to politics and everything else. This interview he did with The Comics Journal is a good read.

Lastly, Comic-Con International/San Diego Comic-Con is this week, so there will be lots of news, exclusive goodies for sale, and general increased buzz in the realm of popular-culture. If anyone is going there do please have a fun (and safe) time!

Stay Cool/Dry and Motivated
As the rest of July wears on I encourage everyone to try and stay cool as well as dry between the heat-waves and rainstorms. Also, remember that no matter what the World throws at you just remember you've come this far in life already, so you've got the rest of this month, year, and general upcoming future!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

July 2019's Toyman Show was Stellar Fun!

Today was another edition of one show I always enjoy attending--Toyman! Being held 8 times this year, it is always a pleasure to attend thanks to how much stellar stuff there is (and how well organized the all the vendors, artists, and so forth are). With a wide range of people selling almost any kind of toy you can think of (new or old) to many comic-vendors, and a lot of cool artists and creators, I always have a wonderful time and find cool stuff I want to take home. I'll talk about some of the rad items I acquired at today's show and stellar people I met now!

One of the first vendors I really enjoyed chatting with were the guys from Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games. They just opened this June in O'Fallon Illinois. I had the pleasure of trading some of my stuff for a fun trio of Silver Age comics. My favorite is that wild cover for, "The Flash," that I've seen before and always wanted to own! Another great vendor was Each Sold Separately who had all sorts of awesome toys and collectibles. Paul Spangenberg of Nightcire Toys & Crafts was really fun to speak with as well, he had an assortment of fun wooden projects and toys that were very neat and very reasonably priced. I also saw my good friend Eric of STL Comics (who has an awesome Micro Con coming up July 28th) and my chum Spike of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles.

I continued to do some more shopping and while I wasn't looking for a Batmobile, this die-cast toy just looked too appealing to pass-up! After I bought that I spoke with some authors of assorted cool books upstairs. I met Star Huddleston who is the writer and illustrator of the book, "What Am I?" about a real-life unique animal I won't spoil the species of, but which was fascinating to learn about. I next spoke with Dee Livers who paints beautiful watercolor creations and writes as well as illustrates an assortment of great children's books. Lastly, I met author and professional model Leigh Savage who was selling an assortment of spicy and exciting erotica books. The special guest at the show was Jeremy Miller of, "Growing Pains," fame and providing the voice of Linus in classic, "Charlie Brown," cartoons. He was super-nice and a joy to chat with as well. I'm just scratching the surface of the 140+ vendors and creators, but clearly a wide range of great products and talent was present!

Today's Toyman Show was wonderful fun. I am already pumped for the next one this August 4th and know that the founder and showrunner, Chris McQuillen will ensure yet another show is had!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Yet Another Streaming Service? Really?

Hey you, remember when the idea with Cable was that you could pay one flat fee and get a whole lot of content? Remember how eventually it got broken-up into various tiers of content, followed by other, "Premium," channels and then stuff got so fragmented it pissed everyone off? I remember.

Oh, hey you, yeah you again. Remember how when the idea of streaming shows kicked-off it was just one or two streaming services that allowed you to get all the content you want in basically a single place, much like cable was early-on? Yeah? I imagine you notice now how with all these different individual streaming-services that carry different fees and have differing content it kind of feels like the pain of when cable got so fragmented, doesn't it? It is annoying as Hell to think you need to get on one app for their exclusive program and then switch-over to another for reruns of a show you love, and yet another for some other damn show and now you're paying more than you ever did for cable just to get the handful of programs you like. Well, I have news. No, it is not good news, it is just news. We're getting another streaming service!

Say hello to HBO MAX and then after, "Hello," feel free to go, "Hell No." Now you'll be able to enjoy/despair over a bunch of content owned by Warner Brothers being exclusive to yet another streaming-service you have to shell-out dough for. You can now pay to access certain shows from the CW that won't be coming to other streaming services that used to carry the shows, like that upcoming, "Batwoman," program. There will be exclusive content too you'll have to get this service for, and Netflix is going to lose the rights to, "Friends," so if you ever want to be able to (legally) stream that again get ready to buy HBO MAX because could you be anymore tired of this shit? Oh, and there is HBO too, obviously, so who knows how that affects the standalone HBO-streaming service.

Yes, this is truly a brave new world we are entering. We'll be able to enjoy watching, "Orange is the New Black," on Netflix, then switch to Hulu for some of, "The Handmaid's Tale," followed by activating our Disney+ to watch a classic Disney cartoon, then we'll start streaming HBO MAX to catch-up on, "Westworld," before we turn-on Amazon Prime's service for some, "Good Omens," and then our smart-device explodes in our hands from the sheer stress of all these damn services existing with me having not even named all the most notable ones (CBS All Access, YouTube Red, countless more niche services)!

At this point it might actually just be cheaper to have Cable with a DVR and to pirate your favorite streaming shows (I don't endorse this at all, I'm just observing the costs). Hell, it might even make more sense to just buy a DVD collection of a one of those streaming-shows whenever they sometimes come out as paradoxical as it sounds for some folk to be buying DVDs nowadays. I'm sorry if I sound snippy, but I feel like this whole war of streaming services is turning into a huge mess where the biggest victim is the consumer.