Tuesday, May 31, 2016

End of May 2016 Links

The End of a Great Month
May has been a good month--and not just because of my birthday, but because I tend to greatly enjoy Mays. It is my second-favorite month after October, and as it wraps up I feel some sadness, but also look forward to the Summer. As we near the end of May here are some links for you to enjoy.

Countless fans of the, "Disney Infinity," games cried-out with dismay when it was announced the company is suddenly giving-up on the brand. Some fans also probably cried-out when Disney said they were getting rid of Disney Dollars too, but that was probably met with more of a disinterested shrug. Still, both the figures and Disney Dollars will probably gain some collectible value over the years.

Abhay Khosla has presented what is basically an in-depth legal brief about why DC's Editor in Chief, Dan DiDio, really should probably be fired. This is the best constructed and most complex arguement yet against DiDio, even if in the end the main conclusion is the same as when someone states, "DiDio sucks!"
I've had some time to listen to bits of the new album, "Coloring Book," from Chance the Rapper. It is some pretty good music and getting a lot of positive press. I wouldn't say I love it, but I have found it enjoyable.

Here is an interesting piece on how cults work.
I enjoy the, "Battlefield" games every now and then, plus I also find World War I to be a fascinating part of our history that isn't covered too often. Therefore, a new big-budget video-game that covers WWI under the, "Battlefield," brand may be pretty interesting, and help to increase interest in this often-overlooked part of the past.

Hey, while we're on the subject of the past this article about old games (not games set in older times, but literally old games) and how GOG helps bring them back was a good read.
"Farewell Mr. Bunting," was one of the best SNL bits this season. It takes the filmed skit awhile to get where it's going, but once it finally does, wow, just wow.

Somewhere out there is a, "Captain America: Civil War," script without Spider-Man in the draft.
We just don't need this every damn time.
Speaking of Spider-Man, this article expertly breaks-down how we don't need to be inundated with origin-stories as much anymore.

This continued talk in politics about rejecting refugees who seriously need our help--with some needing our help because of what we did in their country--can draw a lot of parallels to the past, such as during the Vietnam war.
Sigmund Freud got a lot wrong about Psychology, but to his credit he got us talking about sex more openly.

So, just what kind of car did the family drive in, "Calvin and Hobbes," after all?
It should be so easy...
I was reading this article about how people to this day still struggle to remember which button on their Playstation 4 is for the power and which is to eject discs. It struck a chord with me. I too have problems with this.

Lastly, I tip my hat to Chuck Tingle, whoever he or she really is, for expertly trolling the hateful members of Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies, Gamergate, and all the other ignorant haters.

What Did We Learn?
After reading all those links (or at least the ones that interested you) I hope you learned something useful. A day when you learn anything new is a good day indeed.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Rant-Reviews: Sex, Politics, and Zombies

The Things We Love and Hate
Almost all of us love sex, and almost everyone hates politics or at least certain aspects of it. We both love and hate zombies too. I wanted to do a post discussing comics that touch upon these subjects in various ways, so here we go!

Nudity, Voting, and the Living Dead = A Fun Time!
Sex #28
Joe Casey continues his ever-so-slow build of tension with this series that is still incredibly weird, but now is starting to show more of an overall arching plot that has taken awhile to become apparent.Plus, in its process of forming a story it has revealed to be holding quite a rewarding to those who have played close attention. The seemingly simple concept of what happens after a man named Simon Cooke retires from being a city's super-hero--The Iron Saint--morphed into tale of competing gangs, mid-life crises, and of course lots of sex (I mean, that is in the title).

This issue moves us ever-closer to the possibility that Cooke maybe isn't done being a hero which is a bit ironic as the always-fascinating back-matter which features the musings of writer Joe Casey talks about how he is feeling disenfranchised by mainstream super-hero comics lately. Piotr Kowlalski supplies the usual incredible art to compliment the increasing wild-vibe of this series, and I undoubtedly am excited to see where things continue to go.
4 out of 5 stars.

Citizen Jack #6
This comic jumped around so much for me, alternating between being a really clever and funny look at the absurdity of politics to being so on-the-nose that it was less funny than it was obvious. This issue concludes the mini-series but makes it clear more will most likely be on the way. It also throws in a joke about how other politicians have made deals with devils that I should have seen coming but did not. This was a series where I kept seeing lots of potential within and it occasionally was hilarious or clever, but in the end this petered out a bit. Perhaps the sequel its clearly setting-up will be good with Jack as our President.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

Nighthawk #1
I was interested when this comic was announced as I enjoyed the, "Supreme Power," comics until they sort-of trailed off and died (before the comic's world officially dying). The idea that one character escaped that reality and came to the main Marvel Universe is an interesting one (and he's part of a team full of refugees from other worlds as, "Squad Supreme" explores), and I quite enjoyed reading about this Nighthawk before in the older comics. This isn't a Marvel Max book anymore so swearing is blurred out, but the illustrations by Ramon Villalobos are sufficiently brutal as to remind me of those previous comics. Writer David Walker gives us a good balance of Nighthawk out being a super-hero killing white supremacists (who readers of "Supreme Power" know are responsible for his parent's death) and his civilian identity (his real name is Kyle Richmond but he can't use that on this Earth as there is another Kyle Richmond/Nighthawk too).

Watching Kyle balance his life between fighting criminals and then fighting corrupt businessmen is entertaining. Speaking of those businessmen, one wants to force out the residents of affordable housing out so he can build condos, and our hero wants to help fix-up them up, which is interesting with its introduction of class and racial elements into the book. I look forward to writer David Walker having that element more in the story as much of the first issue was focused more on Nighthawk fighting folk than his day-time activities. The political-stuff with Nighthawk's regular life always fascinated me as much as if not more-so than his heroics, after all, but this was still a solid start.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Afterlife with Archie #9
Everyone else reviewing this has already cracked all the good jokes about how long the waits are between issues, so I won't do any and simply say that yeah, it is pretty absurd. I has gotten to the point I dropped the, "Sabrina," book--which is another horror title in this line but set in a different continuity--due to its delays, figuring I'll read it in trade sometime. That said, I just won't ever quit, "Afterlife with Archie," even with its laughable delays as the book is just so good, so dark, and generally wild (plus it helpfully sums up the story so far at the opening for all of us who are bit hazy on things). Finally living up to its hint of Betty's life being in danger that the arc's title has carried, it seems that Reggie may be the threat the comic long hinted he was. I've always thought of Reggie as being a bit of a sociopath so having the comic discuss that, shut the idea down, but then bring it back with a vengeance was clever. Francavilla is the perfect artist for this book, providing amazing moody tones full of dark hues and drama. There just isn't much else to say besides, "Afterlife with Archie," is amazing no matter how late it always happens to be.
5 out of 5 stars.

Was it Good For You Too?
Whether you're making love, picking a politician, or fighting off some zombies, I hope you're happy and satisfied--although with politics the odds of you actually being satisfied are slim-to-none. After all, in sex and politics a lot of people get screwed. I know, that's a terrible pun to end this article on, but it's the one I chose. Maybe I should have done something zombie themed? Oh well. Wait, I've got it! Politicians are like zombies, they....um....damn it.

Friday, May 27, 2016

It's My Birthday!

Please note actually putting a sparkler in a cupcake is not wise.
Today is my birthday! I am relaxing and enjoying it!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Lot of Talk About Captain America Lately AKA Hydra, #Givecaptainamericaaboyfriend, and Platonic Love

Wait, WHAT?
There has been a lot of talk about the Steve Rogers version of Captain America lately. Nick Spencer, is a writer whose work I find to either be incredibly good or inexplicably God-awful (I talked about this long ago, actually, before Spencer absolutely killed it on, "Superior Foes of Spider-Man,") with little variation between. Apparently because people on the internet are dicks, Spencer has been getting death-threats for simply doing a new story about Captain America where it is revealed he is somehow a deep-cover Hydra Agent.

Putting aside how that basically makes little-to-no sense with the history of the character, and that I figure there is some other twist coming revealing how this is a clone/he's still a good-guy triple-agent or something, it is a moderately interesting (and extremely silly) idea. I mean, this gets press attention and makes people freak-out, but the kind of freaking-out where they go and buy the book to learn more, so kudos to Marvel for all the money they'll make off of this.
The other thing involving Steve that has set the internet ablaze is the idea that people want him to have a boyfriend for...some reason? Known on twitter as #Givecaptainamericaaboyfriend, I honestly am all for our comic characters being whatever sexual orientation their creators want, but I don't see the point in making Captain America gay or bisexual for any reason other than media attention or fan-fiction. The comics have never had a gay subtext, the character has always expressed interest in women, and it just seems forced.

I mean, these are fictional characters, so we can really do whatever we want with them, but even fiction needs to have logic. The reveal of Iceman being gay has some history and clarity to it and makes more sense than just going, "Hey, let's give Steve Rogers a boyfriend!" I mean, you could always introduce a gay Steve Rogers from another reality, or if you do a re-boot make Steve Rogers gay, but as it stands now with the character we currently have within the comics, it just would appear to be a purely cynical move to, "Break the internet," so-to-speak.
Plus, one thing that bugs me about the idea of #Givecaptainamericaaboyfriend is that it often involves Steve Rogers and his best friend Bucky/The Winter Soldier. I feel that by making them a gay couple it furthers the stereotype that two heterosexual men can't just be really close friends without a sexual aspect. The media often shows straight women who are very close friends, but as soon as two men express a great degree of care or fondness for each other it is considered, "Gay." By letting Steve Rogers and Bucky simply be two straight men who love each other in a platonic way that actually is more progressive than just going and stating, "They're gay now!"

That basically has been what kind of week we've had in regards to Captain America. There has been controversy over the idea of Steve Rogers being a terrorist, people protesting for and against the idea of him having a boyfriend (in the form of Bucky) and meanwhile DC is going, "Hey, you know we're doing another huge re-launch right? Please pay attention to us!" What cracks me up about all this is that if somehow Marvel were to give Steve Rogers a boyfriend I personally feel it shouldn't be Bucky. No, it should be someone he met after thawing-out of the ice who helped him acclimate to the new world. Someone who has different interests but still enjoys Steve's company. A person whom Steve has had many arguments with but in the end still considers a best friend and shares a close currently-platonic love with...
Yeah, if anything Captain America's boyfriend should be Tony Stark/Iron Man. That's just my thought though.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A Call For Stories From People Ripped-Off by Top Level PR/Crowd PR Guru/First Wave PR

UPDATE 10/17/16
Apparently they have changed their name yet again. Now known as, "First Wave PR," they still are just awful and should not ever be used.

I wrote an article some time ago about Crowd PR Guru before they changed their name to Top Level PR. It has been making its way around the internet and I have had some people comment on the post or contact me via email about how they were ripped-off by Top Level PR/Crowd PR Guru. Well, I'm thinking I would like to write a big article about the scammers who claim they can promote Kickstarer and/or Indiegogo campaigns. If you've been taken advantage of by Top Level PR/Crowd PR Guru or any other so-called PR company in the process of trying to get eyes on your crowd-funding campaign please do reach out to me.

Should you want to remain anonymous to prevent the risk of any sort of retaliation from these companies I understand and promise I will protect your confidentiality. If on the other hand you want me to be sure your name is put out there so the companies know how they did you wrong, I can assist with that too.
If you found yourself scammed by these so-called PR firms please do not hesitate to email me at davidbitterbaum@gmail.com. Once I have a lot of testimonials from people I will also reach-out to Top Level PR and offer them the chance to comment (again, while protecting your identity if you desire). Should they talk with me I'll include what they say in my article, and if they refuse to speak with me I'll note that also. I would hope they at least are willing to address what people claim, however.

It breaks my heart to keep hearing from people how their money was basically stolen; I can't stand a company doing something that is legal, but not at all ethical. Please email me with your story and let's continue to get the word out there about these poor excuses for PR companies.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Review of, "Fantasy Sports Volume 2," and, "Einstein," from Nobrow Press

New from Nobrow

I've read and enjoyed books from Nobrow before, and also was fan of the first, "Fantasy Sports,"  book that came out. Their press person over there, good ol' Tucker Stone, knows pretty well what I like reading, so when the opportunity arose to give a gander to the newest entry in, "Fantasy Sports," as well as an illustrated biography of Albert Einstein (titled, "Einstein"), I eagerly jumped on the chance to check them out--because if Tucker says I'll like a book he generally has been right. I got the books and was excited to see more fantastical sports form Sam Bosma and learn more about Albert Einstein through the writing and artwork of Corinne Maier and Anne Simon. So let's break the books down...

Fantasy Sports Volume 2
The, "Fantasy Sports," series had a great first volume in which the protagonists faced off against an evil Mummy in a game of basketball. It was hilarious, well-illustrated, and all-around awesome. This second volume features our heroes having to come-up against the champions of a town in a game of volleyball in order to get-back some treasure they had stolen. It was fun, and keeping in mind how I adored the first volume of, "Fantasy Sports," I really enjoyed this entry as well, but two things made me like it just a little bit less than the debut book.

 First off, this entry ends with a huge cliffhanger discussing how our protagonists, Wiz and Mug, maybe should learn more about the organization they work for (e.g. they've probably been employees for the bad guys all along and not realized it). We don't see the proof of this though, as the book ends right as they set-off to learn whatever shocking truths we will probably see in the 3rd book. I understand a series wanting to leave us readers eager for more, but I just wish writer-artist Sam Bosma had given us a teeny-tiny bit more as opposed to having it feel like the story cuts-off right as things are getting especially interesting.
The other issue I had with the book is purely personal in that I'm just not a big fan of Volleyball. I'm not a huge sports fan, but there are some I'm more likely to watch than others. Whereas I might enjoy a good game of Basketball, Hockey, or Football, I generally will pass on Golf, Volleyball, Baseball, and so forth. To the credit of Mr. Bosma however, he makes the game look exciting enough in the book that I still found myself intrigued by the match Wiz and Mug were playing. The artwork within, "Fantasy Sports," is just as good-looking as the first book, this time having a bit more of a blue-hue I would say, which is fitting as the volleyball game takes place on the beach in a town by the ocean.

With the stellar artwork and a great story, "Fantasy Sports Volume 2" is a solid sequel to the splendid first book. While there are some complaints I had about this title I still overall had a great time reading the book, and without a doubt eagerly await the third volume so that the cliff-hanger which upset me so much can be resolved!
4 out of 5 stars.

We all know of Albert Einstein, but many of us admittedly don't know much about him. The book itself has a scene that opens with this, featuring various folk with an assortment of opinions saying things like, "The E=MC² guy, right?" This bit of the book itself expresses one complicated aspect of reviewing a biography. Namely, the first challenge is to see if the biography is about a person who led an interesting life, and the second challenge is to observe if the way their life story is told does justice to the person. Oh, and there is a third challenge too--if the book well done!

Well, this book has the first challenge handily covered as Maier and Simon have a fascinating individual in the form of Albert Einstein who undoubtedly lived a fantastic life. The second challenge is well-met too, with the book giving us a solid look at Einstein from birth to death, using the technique of having Einstein himself narrate--almost as if this were an autobiography, but with Einstein as more of an omniscient narrator than just a human being--or as the book puts it when someone references his passing, "Albert Einstein is once again part of the cosmos." It's a strategy that pays off, as it allows the book to take comments Einstein made later in his life about the past, and insert them within events as they occur--almost as if he's there with us providing a footnote to a mistake he later regretted or idea he still couldn't believe he came-up with.
The third challenge of the book needing to be interesting to actually, you know, read is undoubtedly met too. One thing I especially liked is how the book lays out the facts of Einstein's life in a clear design, using your standard panels, speech-bubbles, and narration. However, whenever one of Einstein's theories is discussed the pages suddenly break-out of the constraints of panels and spill across the whole space, covering the paper with surreal imagery, artistic designs, and clever visual metaphors. This style does a marvelous job of differentiating between the absolute facts of the life Einstein lived, and the world of questions and ideas his mind thrived in where anything was possible, be it a theory of relativity or all other kinds of incredible concepts.

"Einstein," does a stellar job of informing readers about the famous physicist. It shows wonderful things about the man but also doesn't ignore his flaws. It looks amazing--as I already said--and thoroughly fills us in about the life Einstein led. This books meets three challenges I think of when it comes to biographies with ease and skill, so I would say this is fantastic biography for sure.
5 out of 5 stars.

Some Good Reads!
"Fantasy Sports Volume 2," and, "Einstein," both were great reads. While I found myself a bit perturbed by the cliffhanger at the end of this latest, "Fantasy Sports," and am not as intrigued by Volleyball it still was a fun book, and "Einstein," especially impressed me with its wonderful mix of story and surreal artwork. Nobrow continues to put out some superb books and I as always look forward to what they'll come out with next.

Note: Copies of both books were provided for review.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

DC Has Officially Gone Off the Rails with, "Rebirth."

I couldn't sleep last night, it was 2AM and I saw the silliest news report. I figured I must have been hallucinating so I went back to sleep. I woke up and it turned out everything I saw was true. In case you didn't hear, spoilers for the big DC, "Rebirth," comic have leaked all over the internet. I can only ask, "What in the name of reason are you doing, DC?" because dear God this latest project sounds like an awful joke. I can picture the pitching process now...

DC Executive A: "How about as a part of our latest re-launch we use one of our old comics and say it directly relates to the creation of our latest DC-Universe?"

DC Executive B: "You're saying for our supposedly new idea we take something really good from the 1980's or such and incorporate it into the other comics, thereby essentially devaluing a solid piece of work that stood on its own and in the process look like we are making a last-ditch effort for relevancy?"

DC Executive A: "I suppose that's one way to put it. We were thinking of saying that Dr. Manhattan from, 'Watchmen,' is directly responsible for how the DCU came together, using that awful, 'Before Watchmen,' stuff we did and nobody liked as a jumping-off point."

DC Executive B: "So, we're going to use, 'Watchmen,' as some kind of excuse for the creation of the DCU? Isn't that kind of like bad fan-fiction?"

DC Executive A: "Maybe. But I mean, we already have burned our bridges with Alan Moore and harmed the much-loved, 'Watchmen,' brand through our movie, games, 'Before Watchmen,' comics and such, so what's the worst that could happen?"

DC Executive B: "Whatever, I want to go to lunch, let's do it. Oh, and throw in some extra versions of the Joker, bring back the old Wally West, and otherwise just muck everything up because if we're going to make bad fan-fiction, we might as well go balls-out."

...and scene! Honestly, I already expressed some annoyed and angry opinions on, "Rebirth," but now shit is just getting silly. Plus, keeping in mind DC was supposed to have, "Watchmen," be a creator-owned work and screwed-over Alan Moore all those decades ago the whole thing is a bit sickening. If, "Before Watchmen," was also known as, "Fuck Alan Moore," then this is, "Fuck Alan Moore 2: the Re-Fuckening."
This whole thing just reeks of desperation, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I plan to read the upcoming, "Rebirth," special and post a review at some point when it comes out because I already ordered it thanks to a great deal (and it would be rude to tell the shop, "Oh wait, never-mind, I don't want it.") That said, these actions by DC do not give me much hope for their future books outside of some great creators (Christopher Priest and Tom King, to name two) who I figure will do awesome stuff regardless of this awful idea.

Time will tell how good or atrocious this could be. I'm not that optimistic though.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Film Friday--Three Movies I Like That Most People Hate

I Don't Care What They Say About You...
When it comes to entertainment I can be a bit cranky. There will be a variety of things it seems like everyone loves but I believe to be hot garbage. The fact that this appears to happen a lot makes it noteworthy when the opposite occurs--there is something I really like and everyone else just seems to despise it. There are three movies that come to mind as being flicks a lot of people hate but I have quite enjoyed.

I now present you a list of them from the least reviled to the outright mocked, starting with, "Terminator Salvation," then, "Predator 2," and closing with, "Movie 43." Yes, I did notice that two of the films oddly have featured Arnold Schwarzenegger in other franchise installments but don't have him in these entries.

The Mocked Quarter-Dozen. Get it? There's Three!
Terminator Salvation
I wasn't sure whether to consider this less-hated or more-hated than Predator 2 so I referred to the sometimes-useful website, "Rotten Tomatoes," and saw this had a 33% rating to the other film's 25%, so there ya go. This is by no means to claim, "Terminator Salvation," is a good movie, because it has some serious flaws. The man who made the franchise famous--the aforementioned Schwarzenegger doesn't even appear outside of a CGI cameo, making this the only flick in the franchise to lack the man most people associate with the brand. I mean, he even came back for that much-loathed, "Genisys," movie that came out recently, but let's just ignore that, everyone else did.

Considering how this movie lacks the face most people think of when they hear, "Terminator," it is kind of awkward. The best metaphor I can think of is if you were to make a film about all the popular Disney characters going on an adventure and you left out Mickey Mouse. Mickey is Disney and Arnold is the Terminator, so the movie already has that stacked against it. That major flaw makes it all the more remarkable how I kind of think this move actually works out pretty well in the end.
The plot has more holes in it than Swiss cheese, with the machines somehow orchestrating having a human-machine hybrid to meet a young Kyle Reese, have Reese kidnapped, and then the hybrid (played dully by a tired-sounding Sam Worthington) infiltrate the base and trick John Connor (Christian Bale) into going to rescue Kyle Reese from the machines so they can kill Connor and prevent him from sending Reese into the past--because as fans of the franchise know, Kyle Reese is the father of John Connor. If upon reading this you said, "Wait, if the machines have kidnapped Kyle Reese why don't they just murder Reese to stop John Connor from even being born, e.g. the whole point of the first movie?" then you my friend have noticed just one of the plot holes which I mentioned plague the movie and are thinking too hard about the plot, because this is not a movie I like for the plot.

What I find fascinating within this movie is how we finally get to spend a bunch of time in the future that the other movies had long teased us with glimpses of, and what a dark and twisted future it is. Full of barren highways patrolled by machines, bases with huge metal monstrosities that scoop up humans, eel-like water-robots, and all other sorts of fearful electronics, the atmosphere alone makes me enjoy this movie more than I should. The oppressive air of a world that humans started to ruin before the machines took over and finished the job carries with it an air of such sorrow that I can't help but be fascinated by the imagery on the screen. Sure, the story-line is a wreck, but God this movie looks good with its destroyed planet and big explosions during action scenes.

Predator 2
Mocked with glee by a variety of people, there actually have been more and more articles defending the film as being quite good, or other folk admitting they can at least agree it isn't too bad. As for everyone else who hated the movie? Fuck them, this is a great flick (although I will admit the whole "Jamaican Voodoo Posse is a bit of a silly cliché).

I won't argue the claim that the first movie is stellar piece of work, and the expectations from that unquestionably put, "Predator 2," at a huge disadvantage. Plus, the lack of stars from the first one has been viewed as a problem, but I would say this sequel still has a great cast with actors such as Danny Glover (I always feel he doesn't get enough credit) and Bill Paxton giving us some great scenes. Oh, and it has Gary Busey before he started looking as crazy as he does these days or as my wife put it when she saw him whilst I re-watched the movie recently, "Wow, he actually looks okay, not all insane."
Glover and Busey
I also appreciate how this film expands the mythos, further explaining where Predators like to hunt, how they have been at this for years, and of course that Alien-head in the trophy room at the end cleverly planted the seed for the,  "Aliens VS Predator," films which were so terrible even I won't defend them (still, it's cool the hint was dropped this far in advance). I also like that while this is an action film, its first half is kind of a slow-burn mystery. Yes, the audience already knows a good deal about the Predator (assuming they've seen the first film), but it is exciting to watch the characters realize just how big of a threat they are up against.

"Predator 2," suffers the curse of having great expectations thrust upon it to the point that when it was so different from the first movie it caused audiences to react with unfair disgust. I agree that, "Predator 2," is different from its forebear, but will disagree with all my might with anyone who states they think it is a bad movie, as of the three movies on my list this is probably my favorite and the only one I would claim is in fact a great film in general despite the haters.

Movie 43
If, "Terminator Salvation," is a mediocre movie with stellar atmosphere, and, "Predator 2," is an under-appreciated gem, I will admit that, "Movie 43," is crass, gross, and stupid. That said, I  feel it has some charms. The A.V. Club did a piece recently discussing just how terrible it is in their eyes, but many of the points they use against the movie I actually like. It is a cast of amazing talent doing really idiotic jokes just long enough that as soon as the joke begins getting old we're on to the next bit. I'm pretty alone in this opinion though, as, "Movie 43," has a cringe-worthy 18% on Metacritic and astonishingly terrible 4% on Rotten Tomatoes, should you put much weight in review aggregates.

The excuse for the various skits that populate the movie is that a producer (ably played by Dennis Quaid) is pitching his film ideas with increasing desperation, and the result is some absurd comedy. We get Hugh Jackman with testicles hanging from his chin, Terrence Howard delivering an inspirational speech to a basketball team that suddenly takes a wild turn into silly race-jokes, Johnny Knoxville fights a Lepruchan, Chris Pratt gets asked by real-life wife Anna Faris to poop on her, it is gross, dumb, and in some bizarre way fun.
The scene where Faris asks Pratt if they can take their relationship further.
By that, she means she wants him to poop on her.
I once discussed another sketch-comedy movie I despised, so it is fair to ask why I like this one. I guess the key is that the Farrelly brothers (who directed this movie) give us something not as good as their hits like, "There's Something About Mary," but not as bad as some of their most recent works. This is a film that so, so many people thought was a tasteless wreck, and while that is true, it is a tasteless wreck that weirdly has some heart. A lot of credit for that goes to the talented actors and actresses who inject some gravitas into the most disgusting scenes, and without the acting-skills on display this could very well have been a simply atrocious excuse for entertainment. Somehow though, the mixture of low-brow humor with incredible acting results in a movie that is--as I admitted--a mess, but a weirdly fun and enjoyable mess, at least in my eyes.

See? They Aren't Too Bad!
Should you have seen any of the three movies I just discussed and found them awful, I wonder if I've changed your mind or simply made you think, "What's wrong with this guy?" That said, you probably have some movies of your own that it feels like everyone hates yet you hold some affection towards. These were my three, and I'm sticking to them!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

More One-Sentence Summaries of Popular Songs

Music Once More!
I've done one-sentence summaries of comics off-and-on and did it for music once. I felt like doing it for audio again, so here we go!

Song Summaries Start...

"Work from Home," by Fifth Harmony
Also known as the other song about working that doesn't involve Rhianna, this song is a dull mess of droning repetition. 

"Can't Stop the Feeling," by Justin Timberlake
This is a good song, but I really prefer the weird and experimental Timberlake we got on, "Futuresex/Lovesounds," to this one that sounds more like your usual talented singer.

"Panda," by Desiigner
Anytime I hear this I hope it is the Kanye West song that sampled it, because the original song itself is kind of dull.

"All the Way Up," by Fat Joe, Remy Ma, French Montana, and Infared
I'm just happy to see Fat Joe back on the scene as he is a pretty talented guy who seemed to drop off the face of the world for awhile.

"I Took a Pill in Ibiza," by Mike Posner
Here basically is what some people feared techno would become if infected with pop--a blasé mess of dance-beats and empty lyrics masquerading as deep.

"Might Be," by DJ Luke Nasty
It clearly is using weaponized nostalgia to make me like it, but this is a dumb-yet-fun jam.

"Piece by Piece," by Kelly Clarkson
This is a raw and emotional song that serves as another example of how Kelly Clarkson has a great deal skill.

"Cake by the Ocean," by DNCE
It sounds vaguely dirty in a nonsensical way, but I'll be damned if it isn't a catchy ditty.

"Sorry," by Beyoncé
I have to admit I've just never been a big fan of Beyoncé or a hater, and this song does little to make me like her any more or less with its purely decent melody and singing

"Oui," by Jeremih
His first hit was the drab, "Birthday Sex," but since then Jeremih has shown he actually possesses a good deal of singing talent with songs such as this one.

"Love Yourself," by Justin Bieber
Holy crap, I kind of like a Justin Bieber song even though the guy always seems to be trying to make himself appear like a jerk.

Pressing the Stop Playback Button
There are the various songs that have been playing on the radio/Apple Music/Spotify/Tidal/whatever folk use now. Clearly I am cranky about much of today's music and don't seem to like a lot of it. That said, there are still artists I enjoy. Fun all around, eh?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Another Comic Confession: I'm Just Not Feeling, "Monstress"

I've written previously about how there is a comic called, "Sex Criminals," that I should like, but had to confess I did not. It was a hard thing to admit but I felt better afterwards. Therefore, I feel the need to admit what the latest comic is which it seems like everybody adores, but I don't find as entrancing.

Yeah, I'm just not feeling, "Monstress," like, at all.

Written by Marjorie Liu, the first issue was promising. It established this rich fantasy world, had some suspense where the young protagonist named Maika hinted at having scary powers and then released them, heck it had talking cats too ! Oh, and the art by Sana Takeda is just plain incredible in every issue. Seriously, I don't always like fantasy as much as science-fiction, but Takeda's artwork was probably the main reason I've stuck with this comic as long as I have. However, I'm five issues in now and it has become glaringly obvious, "Monstress," just isn't a book I particularly enjoy outside of ogling the amazing art.
Talking cats! Why do I not adore this comic?
I'm not sure if it is because the fantasy world that started out as exciting now just seems confusing with strange story-element upon story-element I don't understand, the fact that I find the plot to be crawling along a bit, or what the problem is. I do know that when the time comes to read, "Monstress," I lately sigh and go, "Alright, let's get through this." I just don't have funds to be spending on comics I talk that way about, so I should probably quit this title.

I feel a bit bad dropping, "Monstress," because a part of me thinks it might start impressing--after all, Marjorie Liu is a great writer, and I mentioned the art is stellar. That said, I just don't feel like taking that gamble and if the book does in fact become a spectacular piece of fiction as it goes along I can always pick up the trades someday, right?
That's my confession about how despite the great writer and stupendous artwork I just am not a lover of, "Monstress." It never feels quite right to read a comic you think you should adore, but just can't summon those feelings towards. "Monstress," is a very competent comic from a technical aspect, as I've thoroughly established, but my heart just isn't in reading it. I look forward to checking out other future works by Liu and Takeda for sure though!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Reviews of Two Debuts from Amigo Comics--"Alan Dracon," and, "Unleash."

What is Amigo Comics?
Amigo comics is a smaller publisher who have put out some good stuff--I was a fan of, "The Westwood Witches," for example. They also did a clever scary comic where the Pope is possessed by a demon titled, "Roman Ritual," and had another horror-hit in the form of their series, "Straitjacket." They recently just launched two new series I had the opportunity to grab and read. I enjoyed both but have a favorite of the two.

Alan Dracon #1
Something scary is committing murders,
it's up to Alan Dracon to find out who or what it is.
A black-and-white science-fiction comic, I found, "Alan Dracon," quite enjoyable. Written and illustrated by Stefano Martino, it takes place in a future where technology and corporate espionage run wild. Alan Dracon is a private security guard who is hired by a big company after some gruesome murder results in them being concerned their bio-research is being stolen. Considering this is a six-issue mini-series  I was both surprised and pleased to see the mystery behind who could be the killer solved relatively quickly. Normally comics will give us main characters--such as our Alan Dracon--and tell us they are skilled and intelligent, but then it'll take forever for an obvious mystery to be solved. The fact that Dracon is hired by a company to provide security and figure something out--and then actually does that, instills confidence in the reader we are in fact reading about someone as dangerous and smart as we are told.

Even though this issue involved a lot of sleuthing and sets-up what will surely be an action-packed 2nd issue where the murderer is going to be confronted, there still was some good action in this issue, and Martino's artwork compliments his writing quite well. Were I to have a complaint about the comic, it would maybe be that we only get some peeks into the mind of our title character, through the narration he provides which makes it clear he's a skilled yet sad and lonely individual. I would really like to learn more about Alan Dracon and imagine the upcoming issues will tell us more about him. This was an all-around great debut that gets me excited to see more of Alan Dracon in future issues.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Unleash #1
The, "Machine," is suitably imposing.
If I loved, "Alan Dracon," you could say I simply liked, "Unleash." It has an interesting and twisted idea, where a young woman named Emmie who was sexually assaulted in the past has trained some sort of twisted man to be an unfeeling machine that goes out and rapes rapists. An incredibly dark concept, this issue raises some intriguing questions (who is the machine?) and already seems to intentional be making readers wonder if the young woman who is assaulting criminals with the assistance of her machine is a bit of a monster herself too. The thing is, the book drags a bit with the introduction of some secondary characters who seem to be present to do little more than move the plot along, and a last-page twist that I saw coming from a mile away didn't impress me either.

Written by Jennifer Van Gessel and El Torres with art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta, the book looks really good--with the so-called, "Machine," appearing absolutely terrifying--but Emmie needs more fleshing-out beyond the fact we are told she is herself a victim who now goes out and hurts the victimizers. I see a good deal of potential in this title to impress me as it goes along, but as of right now the first issue stumbles a bit out of the gate. The series could very well find its footing and become a stellar read, or take a tumble and be a great idea with mediocre execution. I guess we will just have to stay tuned to find out! Plus, even if I don't like the comic in the end there is apparently a movie based on the comic which will be coming out soon, so that's snazzy too!
3 out of 5 stars.

Closing Thoughts
I look forward to the next issue of, "Alan Dracon."
These new books from Amigo Comics both have some great ideas, and while one book is really fun and the other has some flaws I enjoyed both and am interested enough in each title to keep following them to see where the stories could go. I encourage you to check out these comics out as you'll probably find yourself wanting to read future issues too!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Unimpressive and Boring AKA "DOOM," Single-Player Thoughts Based on One Hour of Playing It

I discussed my feelings about the multi-player mode of, "DOOM," when I tried the beta and mentioned I would discuss single-player once it came out. Well, I rented the game for my Playstation 4 and spent an hour playing the mode for individuals. I can conclude having given this fourth entry in the series a shot that I am just not the demographic for this game. What is the demographic? Thirteen year-old boys (and some girls).

Seriously, if you were to ask a thirteen year-old young man (and some young women) what would be in the perfect game this might be it. It's got blood & gore, demons, heavy-metal music (some kids may not like that, but some would), a bad-ass space marine who punches stuff, big guns, and did I mention the blood and gore? If you knock an enemy off its balance with some gunfire you can run-up and do a really gruesome finishing-move too, what more could you want? I'm not by any means opposed to my games being violent--I love Fallout 4--but this title literally opens with your character on a satanic stone-table, smashing the head of an approaching demon-zombie into the stone, and then otherwise grunting and killing stuff with nary much plot development. If some games are well-prepared meals of fun and enjoyment, this is a burger saturated in bland ketchup.
I mean, there is ostensibly a plot, but whereas, "DOOM 3," was an at times tense and creepy horror-thriller, this is just flat-out, "Run into a room, shoot a bunch of stuff, go to the next room," kind of game. It confuses being, "Edgy," with guts flying all over the place to the tune of electric guitars shredding. It makes me think about how I read an article discussing people being, "Aged-out," of the gaming industry and how I thought such a thing wouldn't happen to me. Well, as soon as I started playing the single-player mode of, "DOOM," I felt like I'd been aged-out with a vengeance. It was dull enough that after an hour I had to stop before I felt like my life had been too wasted.

The graphics were fine, the controls functioned well, but this just wasn't a game for me. The young boy I used to be might have marveled at sticking my fist in a, "Gore-nest," and ripping out its demon-heart in a blur of viscera and gross sounds, but the grown-me I've become just finds this dreary and asks, "We've established games are art for this?" Seriously, this is like the equivalent of a dull horror movie that thinks blowing its money on special-effects is the answer to all the other flaws, it looks nice but is otherwise laughable. This was unimpressive and boring, I just wouldn't recommend it. Keeping in mind I only played the single-player mode for an hour and this is by no means a thorough review, I give this...
1 out of 5 stars.

I gave it that one star for thankfully handling well and looking pretty. At least multiplayer still has some fun to it, but with so many good multiplayer games in existence or coming out shortly, why bother?

Darwyn Cooke has Passed

The announcement on his website.
My sympathies for the family of Darwyn Cooke, who passed away earlier this weekend. Age 53, the cause was cancer (the illness that has robbed all of us of countless friends and family). Cooke was a stellar artist whose, "The New Frontier," he did for DC was how I first became familiar with him. His adaptations of the, "Parker," books were great too and his contributions to, "Before Watchmen: Minutemen," made it the only, "Before Watchmen," book worth giving the slightest damn about.

Many of Cooke's peers have been sharing their responses to Cooke's passing. He will be missed.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Bathroom Rights/People Just Want to Pee!

I'm done saying logical responses to all the people who want to claim transgender people pose an inherent risk to others in the bathroom. A transgender person is more likely to be assaulted by someone than the other way around, by your logic the men you are worried about following little girls into the bathroom pose a risk to your sons--which you never seemed to whine about, etc. etc.. All your supposed statements and points just hide ignorance, and I'm done trying to use common sense. I'm just going to call you a bigot and refuse to engage with you, because you're on the wrong side of history, not being inclusive, and otherwise being a jerk. 

Transgender members of society and people who support them aren't going to quiet down. Sorry you can't get away with persecuting people as much now as in the old days. I'm done talking about this supposed controversy that is just an excuse for people to be hateful. I don't plan to address the right of a transgender person to the use the restroom again. I'm done talking about it on Facebook, tired of tweeting at assholes about how they are assholes, and otherwise am happy to just let them live in their little bubbles of hate while we all enjoy life. Plus, it just means more good deals at Target for the rest of us.

That's what I have to say about bathroom rights, and the last time I hope I need to address it. People just want to pee, can we please let them?

Comedy Within Tragedy As Expressed in, "Eltingville Club," and, "Secret Six."

Laughter in Sorrow
Sometimes the funniest moments come from really sad things. Two books with their share of sadness are the collected, "Eltingville Club," and the first volume of the much-delayed, "Secret Six." One book is about the kind of nerds people hate--e.g. the kind who forget their hobbies are about fun as opposed to hating on others--and the other is a book featuring a bunch of folk who aren't quite heroes or villains struggling to live life. In one book we have our protagonists hating suburban life and wishing things were more exciting, and in the other we have people with super-powers struggling to comprehend the concept of a quiet suburban life. Both also are quite often very, very funny.

There were a number of times I genuinely laughed out loud at these two collections. Whether it was watching people point-out how the four club members in, "Eltingville," know about everything except how to be nice human beings (putting aside Jerry, he kind of turns out okay), or the cast of, "Secret Six," each admitting to having, "Weird sex," on another character's couch, there are some hilarious segments that arise out of the tragedies. 
The so-called club in, "Eltingville," would be sympathetic as outcasts if it weren't for the fact they behave like genuinely terrible people. Evan Dorkin is the writer-artist of, "Eltingville," and really gets across how loathsome these people are. Treating everyone else like trash in their desire to get a bunch of collectibles or mocking anyone who expresses an interest in their hobby but lacks as much knowledge as they do (they really, really disrespect women), the Eltingville Club really is atrocious. The sorta-heroes within, "Secret Six," all have sad stories, be it that they were locked-away for a year in a literal pit, lost their spouse, or otherwise have sorrow in their background, things have been tough. Things just get worse throughout the book for everyone but there is always some humor within the sadness. Writer Gail Simone has been making comics expertly for some time, so it's no surprise that, "Secret Six," is as good as it is (she of course did a long run on the comic in the DC Universe that existed before the Nu52 which to this day is much beloved). The variety of artists help make things look great while telling a superb story too.

Both of these books have a lot of moments that made me feel sorrow, but they also are stuffed with humor--and often these funny moments come from the very sadness itself. Each title expertly shows how to draw hilarity from things that are terrible. I would recommend you check out both titles either at a store or via your local library as I did. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll do both at the same time too!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Image+ Discussion & Review AKA Was that "Image" Magazine-Sampler Any Good?

A Magazine With Comics/A Big Comic with Magazine Articles

Some months ago the publisher Image announced they would have a special magazine with comic-excerpts to help promote upcoming titles and tie-in with certain ongoing ones. Called "Image+," and pronounced, "Image Plus," it was to be sold with the popular, "Previews," magazine and be given away for free with any purchase of "Previews." Now, many stores give people with pull-lists, "Previews," for free so some stores just threw that in too, or had customers buy it when it came out this April. Now, note that it says, "July," because solicitations for comics are generally released two months in advance, so this is the April issue for July comics (it is admittedly a bit confusing).

A Digression About Underwear Models
Upon hearing about this new monthly title the first thing I thought of was the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Yes, this one:
The most recent show.
Please, let me explain.

Back in 1995 when I was but a wee grade-schooler the first-ever Victoria's Secret Fashion show occurred on television screens. My body hadn't yet been flooded with the hormones of puberty so I saw little appeal in scantily-clad women at the time, but on the news programs I enjoyed watching (because I was a weird kid who watched the news and cartoons, kind of like how I'm a weird adult who does both now) I heard a word that stuck with me. The term, "Advertainment," was used.

Advertainment is advertising that is also entertaining. The main goal is still to sell the consumer a product, but by making the ad something people actually want to consume because it is fun, exciting, etc. you have created advertainment. The Victoria's Secret Fashion show is a piece of advertainment. It appeals to the eyes of men who like women (and women who like women) while at the same time emphasizing, "You know all these great undergarments? You can buy them!"
Back to the Review Itself
The start of the origin of Negan.
This brings us back to, "Image+," which based on my previous paragraphs you now understand I'm getting at could be called advertainment. A magazine chock-full of interviews with creators who have books coming-out with Image currently (or in the future), previews of comics, and special tie-ins that can only be found in the magazine (The origin of Negan from, "The Walking Dead," for example), "Image+," is a way to put out content that looks editorial, but is at its heart advertising. This is perfectly okay though!

Yes, you heard me right, it is fine for Image to put out a magazine that is basically one big advertisement and charge us $1.99 for it (or possibly give it to us for free, but stay with me here), because as the end of the day it is in fact entertaining. After all, advertainment has failed it if isn't fun, but, "Image+," is pretty snazzy. The interviews may basically be fluff, but no more-so than supposedly journalistic websites such as Comic Book Resources (yeah, they mostly suck), and the samples of upcoming comics are substantial in their content. Plus, a wide rage of creators are represented from writers and artists, to the amazing colorist Jordie Bellaire.
It's always good to see Jordie Bellaire getting props!
"Image+," is basically one big advertisement, but it is a fun and good-looking ad. You get a lot of content for your $1.99 if you bought it, and should you get the magazine for free, that's even better! I would say this accomplishes Image's goal of promoting their various works, as I now have more knowledge about and interest in titles which I had up until now either not heard of, or had minimal plans to read (Bryan Lee O'Malley and Leslie Hung's, "Snotgirl," has me quite intrigued). If there is any downside to this magazine, it is that some of these comics look so good blown-up to a larger size that it will be a bit sad when they are released in just a standard comic-book format.

 As a piece of entertainment, "Image+," succeeds, and as an example of advertising it excels. Should someone buy it the price is a whole dollar less than a single $2.99 comic (and more and more are $3.99 these days, so that seems even better), and the fact that many people will get it for free when they either buy, "Previews," or simply have their shop hand it to them at no charge means that Image will undoubtedly get a lot of eyeballs on their titles that otherwise may not have drawn as much attention--and this assists them in promoting the heck out of their already sure-to-be-popular books (the aforementioned, "Snotgirl," will probably be a big draw thanks to O'Malley's pedigree). It's a fun magazine/comic sampler. I would check it out.
5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Rant-Reviews: Supernatural Elements Within Comics

The Spooky and the Supernatural
Comics of course span numerous genres, but sometimes within those genres certain themes can be found. For example, in titles ranging from mob-stories to super-hero comedies you can at times get a supernatural vibe. Today, let's examine some comics that all bring the paranormal into play

The Comics Themselves
Title: Daughters of the Dark Oracle: Orgy of the Vampires #2
Genre/Concept: Horror with heavy erotic and 1980's-movie-style themes
Supernatural Element: Vampires, in case the title didn't tip you off, as well as other monsters
The #2 next to the title is a bit of a misnomer, as this is in a sense the 7th issue of the, "Daughters of the Dark Oracle," saga of comics, with the first mini-series going fives issues and this one mini shifting the focus to a really evil vampire named Countess Bathory. This issue opens with her, but then moves to continuing the story of the mysterious, "Ragdoll," from the first mini-series, before closing-out in a way that makes it apparent the Countess and Ragdoll will soon be in conflict with one another.

Wolfer's writing and artwork are great (with art assists done by Mario Zimprich too for some of the linework), with the comic containing a solid mixture of serious horror and some of that over-the-top vibe from the old 1980's horror movies that knew when to throw in a good dash of nudity or gore. Wolfer apologies for release delays in the back of the comic and points out that issues three, four, and five of this mini have been re-solicited as a result of the delays. His apology is very kind as some of the big publishers delay stuff constantly with nary a, "Sorry," and if we get a comic as gorgeous as this due to delays I don't mind an extra month or two of a wait.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Title: Injection #9
Genre/Concept: Science-fiction meets action meets dark comedy
Supernatural Element: A self-aware computer system of sorts using the concept of ghosts
Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey bring us to the penultimate issue before this arc ends with #10 and we've got two volumes down of this increasingly bizarre yarn about a machine intelligence trying to learn the best it can about humankind by using our own weaknesses against us. What kind of weaknesses? Well, pretending to have the ghost of a businessman's love so that he helps the machine with money and can have sex with the ghost, to give one example of the increasingly interesting things The Injection as it is known has been up to. Shalvey's artwork is of course amazing and helps make the scenes of action really frantic (in a good way). I wonder what kind of shenanigans The Injection will get up to next in its effort to understand and then (I assume try to) destroy humankind.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Title: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #7
Genre/Concept: Super-hero story with strong comedic elements
Supernatural Element: A metaphysical force makes Squirrel Girl's choices for her...and it's you, the reader!
This issue of, "Squirrel Girl," cleverly riffs off of those old, "Choose your Own Adventure," books with an issue featuring her facing-off against the villain, "Swarm," who you could call a D-list villain, but that would be charitable. The baddie is purposely silly however, as it is pointed out no one would think to suspect Swarm might actually have a good plan to take over the world besides a hero who is used to fighting a wide range of evil folk from big-name to small-time. The twist of how the reader is manipulating the story gives everything a bit of a meta-vibe, with the characters remarking if the reader makes a choice that is uncharacteristic of the individuals being portrayed. Thankfully things don't get too confusing with readers having to flip around a ton with the pages, you just have a bit of following-around some arrows. "The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl," is one of those quirky Marvel titles I love, and an ingenious issue such as this helps show why.
5 out of 5 stars.

Title: Weavers #1
Genre/Concept: Mob-tale about a nobody trying to make it big
Supernatural Element: Spider-creatures that live inside of mafia members and give them powers
Writer Si Spurrier is someone who I've always thought of as being adept at coming up with wild ideas and then  (usually) making great stories out of them. Spurrier continues this trend with a story about mobsters who have supernatural spiders living inside of them which they use to run a criminal empire. A young man who happened to be the in right place at the right time has come into possession of one of the stronger spiders and is working at being accepted by a mafia that is suspicious of just how eager he is to be an accepted member (his excuse for being so excited? He was actually a pretty big loser before getting powers).

Illustrator Dylan Burnett creates artwork that is muted at times, but when the color red is called for gives us bright splashes of eerie spider-eyes or blood. Based on that synopsis alone you can see enough material for three different stories, but here Si Spurrier puts them all together and the result is something unique in its mixture of mobsters, super-powers, and mystical spiders. A lesser creator would stumble at writing such a tale, but with artist Dylan Burnett contributing some great illustrations they manage to pull-off an intriguing first issue.
4 out of 5 stars.

Don't Fear the Unknown!
As the comics discussed have shown, there is a wide array of supernatural elements that can be worked into a book. From things like vampires and ghosts, to 4th-wall breaking ideas such as making the reader an unseen force of decision-making power, regardless of the kind of story you're telling, you can always work-in something paranormal for a bit of extra fun.