Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

I'm not always the best about commenting about every notable holiday every year, but I wanted to be sure to wish everyone a happy Halloween as we come to a close of what is historically my favorite month of the year, October. I hope everyone enjoys this holiday in whatever way they prefer--be it handing out candy, or turning out the lights and hiding in hopes no children come to your door demanding sweets because you're that kind of household; I of course mean a household which doesn't observe the holiday for religious reasons (although if you think Halloween celebrates the devil you ought to know Christmas was originally a Pagan holiday too) or is simply being too lazy to give out goodies.

Our house never seems to get too many visitors so for the 5 or so kids who actually stop-by we will make them feel like they hit the jackpot with some candy, a Halloween mini-comic, and some fun-size play-doh. Although who knows, maybe this year we actually will get a ton of kids because the weather is supposed to be nice? We can dream!

End-of-the-day update:
We had absolutely zero kids come by. Seriously, none. We will be using the candy and other goodies for an upcoming party so as to ensure they don't go to waste. My wife and I were both disappointed by the lack of any trick-or-treaters and I feel admittedly sad. Oh well.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Comic Book Resources is Kind of Awful Now

There was a time I regularly checked-out, "Comic Book Resources." It had all kinds of good writers and the awesome, "Robot 6," blog. Then some people left it and I found myself reading other websites more and more as it became more of a website for fluff-piece articles and softball interviews from publishers who wanted easy and free press without any conflict or difficulty. Recently CBR was bought-out by another company and it went through a big redesign where it eliminated, "Robot6," and kicked-off I think every writer I liked. Many folk relocated to other sites (for example, "Tilting at Windmills," is now found on Comicsbeat), but what is really tragic would be how CBR is kinda of awful now.

"Comic Book Resources," is now mostly stupid, "List articles," which I'm guilty of doing for both fun or pay (I like money, so sue me) but while they can have their place, and even putting those aside, the rest of the writing is a bunch of clickbait nonsense (and of course plenty of the ass-kissing stuff too). The whole thing is just one big ad-spot for movies and comic-companies along with other media sources to the point that even though the website is, "Comic Book Resources," there ain't a lot of comic-book stuff on it.

To the credit of CBR, they at least are willing to pay anyone interested in contributing, so thankfully they don't go for that old chestnut of wanting people to make stuff, "For exposure." Still, there is basically zero reason for me to ever bother reading the website. It is a bit depressing. Oh well, at least there still are plenty of other site I enjoy reading.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Flashback Friday/Film Friday: "I Am Legend," AKA Revisiting A Great Movie Ruined by an Awful Ending (And Saved by an Alternate One)

Today I'm going to do a combination Flashback Friday and Film Friday post talking about a movie that I still think about from time-to-time. That movie is, "I Am Legend," and came out in 2007. I mean, at least the version I am going to discuss did. The novel it is based on has been adapted numerous times, but I really liked the 2007 version with Will Smith for a variety of reasons (acting, imagery, atmosphere, etc.) and would consider it a masterpiece, but for that damn, "Official ending." When I saw the movie in theaters I actually felt really let-down by the ending before I learned an interesting fact I'm going to discuss in a moment. Considering how I'm going to be talking about the conclusion of the movie you can imagine this post contains spoilers, but this piece of cinema seriously came out almost 10 years ago; if you haven't seen it now do you really still need to fret?

Okay, so its 2009 or so (in the movie, it was still 2007 when it came out) and least 94% of the world's population is dead due to a mutated virus. The other 5% turned into monsters known as, "Darkseekers," who burn in UV light (so the sun is a no-go) and maybe 1% of our planet was immune but possibly everyone who survived was killed by Darkseekers or other animals the virus mutated. Everyone except for Dr. Robert Neville played by Will Smith. When New York City was quarantined he stayed behind to try and find a cure for the virus using his immune blood. Since  some years ago when NYC was isolated (which we witness in flashbacks) Robert has been working to try and find a cure by capturing Darkseekers and running tests on them. Long story short, he abducts one Darkseeker female and finds a potential cure, but then his dog--one of his sole companions for much of the movie--dies in a heartbreaking scene.
Will Smith's character gets caught in a trap set by the Darkseekers
This scene occurs because it seems the Darkseekers have set a trap for Robert and his dog gets infected by some mutant creatures when defending Robert form their attacks. Robert is so sad about this he tries to kill himself by going out in the night to fight the Darkseekers...only to have a woman and her son who heard a radio message he's been broadcasting since the world ended rescue him. The problem is when they take him to the safehouse which he instructs them to drive to it seems the Darkseekers followed them and now know where to strike because the next night they try to break into Robert's safe-house and the lab in the basement...and here the movie enters the, "Theatrical ending," I hate.

So, Robert gives the lady and her son a vial of the cure and blows up his lab, killing the Darkseekers before the lady and her son apparently go to Vermont and find a base that was rumored to exist and is full of immune people whom they give the cure so as to help cure all the other infected creatures and humans who are still alive. Simple and dumb. But wait! The ultimate cruel twist and interesting fact I told you I would share is that an alternate ending exists that is so, so much better and was in fact the original ending before test audiences complained it made them feel bad. In the other ending the Darkseekers arrive at Robert's lab, but he realizes they are actually after the female Darkseeker he kidnapped. He gives her back to them and they leave his lab peacefully, a shocking twist for sure.
Upon being given back his female partner the Alpha-Male Darkseeker Leaves Will Smith's character alone.
At this point Robert realizes that the Darkseekers are intelligent beings and he has been doing horrific research in his effort to find a cure on smart, creatures capable of reasoning and feeling pain, sorrow, love, and so forth. This ending explains how the Darkseekers were smart enough to set a trap, and why they would even do so. Before the credits roll we see Robert, the lady, and her son driving-off to try and find other survivors (I guess at the military base we saw in the official ending) and we the viewer get to do some deep thinking about concepts of humanity, ethics, and the like.

Which ending sounds better? The one where Robert is pointlessly treated as a martyr and the Darkseekers remain portrayed as idiotic monsters, or the conclusion where we get to question if maybe, just maybe, Dr. Robert Neville is the monster? I know which ending I prefer, but the cynical side of me realizes that Hollywood probably thought people wanted the watered-down finale test audiences clamored for. I'm not the only person who thinks the alternate/original ending is better, with others commenting how test audiences really should have been ignored in this case.
"I know, I know; we shouldn't have listened to the test audiences."
"I Am Legend," is a stellar movie with an awful ending, but as a silver-lining actually has a superior resolution that can easily be watched as a special feature on DVDs of the film. If for some reason you haven't seen, "I Am Legend," or saw it in theaters and therefore missed the actually good ending, I would encourage you to buy/rent/borrow a copy. However, when you get the scene where the Darkseekers are about to break into Robert's lab please, Dear God please, stop the movie, go to the menu screen, and then play the original and incredibly better ending instead of the steaming pile of garbage that is the theatrical conclusion.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Steve Dillon and Jack T. Chick Died A Day Apart and That is Odd

"Preacher," on the left, an excerpt from a, "Chick Tract," on the right.
Both images involve religion and fire in vastly differing ways.
I was reading The Comics Journal and its obituary on comic-maker and proselytizer Jack T. Chick where I made a comment I wanted to share on my blog and expand upon:
"I’m not saying this to make any sort of point, but it is weird to think Steve Dillon–who illustrated many works but is best known by some for, “Preacher,” and Jack Chick died within a week of each other. One person worked on a book that was critical of religion and Christianity in particular and the other had so enmeshed within religion he dedicated his whole career to that focus. I don’t know if there is any epiphany to draw from this beyond that maybe God just wanted to bring them both up to comment on their unique art-styles? Either way, I hope Dillon and Chick ended up where they wanted to go."

After checking the dates I then added:
"Wait, it was within a DAY of each other? Wow, God has got to be making some weird, “Jam,” comic he needs an assortment of artists for."

It is weird, but true. Steve Dillon, an artist who had a drawing style that delightfully stood-out and which I can't say I ever saw replicated by anyone (at least not well), left this planet on October 22nd, 2016, with the circumstances around his passing still unknown. He illustrated countless comics but many know him for having been the artist on, "Preacher," which was the kind of book that gleefully would accept accusations of being sacrilegious. Meanwhile, Jack T. Chick passed away in his sleep on October 23rd, 2016, and dedicated his life to religion--for better or worse. Chick was the kind of, "Christian," who hated (and this isn't even everyone) gay people, Muslims, Catholics, people who played Dungeons and Dragons, people who like Halloween, and Jews--although he was a self-declared, "Zionist" in that he interpreted the Bible as stating Jews have to control Israel for Jesus Christ to come back at which point anyone who is Jewish will either accept Jesus as their savior or burn in Hell. He expressed these sentiments via small little comics often referred to as, "Chick Tracts."
Dillon could draw a great Punisher as well.
I think we can all agree that other than the fact both of them produced a lot of comics Steve Dillon and Jack T. Chick were very different men with beliefs that didn't differ so much as exist as polar opposites. I'm not the kind of person who would take these deaths as to, "Mean," something--we live and we die without ever knowing when the end is going to come and therefore should get the most from life we can--but it is just interesting how these two extremely different creators died within a day of each other. Personally, I was a huge fan of Dillon's and could admire Chick's dedication to his beliefs and putting them into the comic art-form even if I didn't agree with him in the slightest when it came to his views. They both leave behind a large body of work and an even larger number of fans who will no doubt miss them...although I'd be surprised if there is any one person who enjoyed them both equally considering how disparate of people Dillon and Chick were.

UPDATE: I said earlier today the cause of Dillon's death was unknown, it has now been confirmed he died of a burst appendix

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Either I Am Out of Touch or Nintendo's New Console, "Switch," is Confusing AKA I Admit I'm Out of Touch

The Nintendo Switch was announced recently, and either I am really out of touch with what people and, "The kids," want these days, or the new device is confusing. By, "The kids," I don't necessarily mean actual tiny children--which Nintendo seems to be avoiding aiming towards, in fact--just more-so the, "Young and hip," demographic it seems video-games are being marketed to more-and-more outside of the titles that explicitly geared towards a fan of old-school-style games (Oh, hey, "Wasteland 3," you look cool) or really easy, "Casual," games for smart-phones. I'm just befuddled about this device, though.

I mean, is the Switch supposed to be more of a home-gaming device or portable tablet? Does the fact it has multiple possible control-schemes mean games can be played a variety of ways or will certain games require certain control methods? Why can the controller both attach to the screen or be separate, and will that be useful? Is this really something I want to have to carry around with me if I were to be an owner of this device? I read articles about the Switch on Wired that supposedly answer my questions but I still just find myself asking, "Why don't I get it or feel excited at all?" The more details that, "Dribble out," the more bewildered I become. I get to the point I feel like I'm behaving in the same manner as Principal Skinner:
Are the, "Children," wrong, or have I truly become out of touch when it comes to a lot of gaming these days? Gone are the days where I want to explore every nook-and-cranny in a game with an obsessive-compulsive glee. Now I just like to breeze-through what appears to be the most interesting content in a game and find I'm often perfectly happy to sample a title and then quit it when it becomes apparent it wants to demand way more of a time commitment than I'm willing to give (the last game I did a deep-dive into was, "Fallout 4," and I didn't even get that far considering all the content it offers). I enjoy multiplayer games that let me jump in for a few quick matches and then quit because I don't always have the time to dedicate to a full-fledged campaign (hence a love of, "Overwatch," and my excitement for "Titanfall 2," which will have single-player but I'll probably focus on multiplayer).

There are so many games on older consoles (and old computer titles) that I still haven't gotten around to playing that buying an expensive new console like the PlayStation 4 Pro or even dreaming of a souped-up gaming PC seems absurd. I still like to rent games and dabble in new titles, but the days where I was a huge gamer seem to have passed in favor of a more balanced entertainment-focus where I've got my comics, television shows, movies, books, music, and video-games too. The need to learn a bunch of confusing control schemes for a game can sometimes put me off it, and I realize as this article proceeds I'm sounding more and more like a crotchety old man or, "Casual gamer," whining about how games used to better even though admittedly many today are more impressive than ever before...but darn it, I want to complain. I mean, don't even get me started on the exact 0% of interest I have in V.R. Headsets. If I may use another, "Simpsons," joke I realize this is probably me in your eyes:
I admit it, I'm out of touch. I'm not so removed I don't play games at all or enjoy following the news about video-games, but more and more often I shrug at the latest console announcements, bemoan when game seems to have hours of filler, or skip something that possibly looks interesting because I just don't have the time to play it and do other recreational things I want to do by myself or with my wife. So yes, I really don't understand what the deal is with the Switch and find myself less enthused by developments in the gaming world as time goes on, to sum all of this up.

I hope the day doesn't come I completely quit gaming, however. I doubt such a day will as I can always enjoy some games on my phone, but perhaps more and more I'll turn into that aforementioned, "Casual gamer," the internet seems to love hating on. Time will tell, time will tell.

Friday, October 21, 2016

I Got Married a Year Ago Today!

As this day, October 21st, 2016, draws to a close I am happy to look back on the year and think to how on this day one year ago--October 21st, 2015--I was married to my wife and soulmate, Samii. Our love has continued to be wonderful since then, with my life feeling like it in some ways did not truly start until I met her back on October 8th, 2011 (so October is clearly a special month for us)! I love her more than any words could ever successfully describe and am incredibly thankful to have someone so wonderful as my life-partner. Nobody is perfect, but I like to think we are perfect for each other.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Are Marvel and Fox, "Cool," Now? Three Pieces of Evidence

Not As Hateful?
Marvel and Fox have had a relationship that could at best be described as, "Super-motherfucking-acrimonious." To make a long story short, back in the early 2000's Marvel was practically bankrupt and sold the film-rights to a number of their characters to various studios. Then in 2008 Marvel (having somewhat recovered) made movies within their own studio, starting with taking a chance on, "Iron Man." It was a huge hit and Marvel became so profitable Disney bought them. Meanwhile, certain studios still own the rights to certain characters. Sometimes Marvel  has cut deals (thanks Sony, we appreciate the Spider-Man!) but Fox (who owns the rights to the X-Men and Fantastic Four) hasn't played ball. This has resulted in Marvel diminishing the presence of the Fantastic Four in their comics to spite the most-recent film (which bombed anyway) and trying to convince everyone we love the Inhumans even though we don't.

Certain developments have me thinking relations between Marvel and Fox may have thawed however, due to three pieces of evidence I am going to jump to drastic conclusions based on, as we are supposed to do on the internet.

Evidence #1: The, "Legion," Television Show
Marvel Studios (the television division) and Fox are actually working together on the show, "Legion," for the FX channel. This isn't the usual case where Marvel is barely doing anything besides having their characters used but the company is actually heavily involved and it sounds like they are working hand-in-hand with Fox to make this show (which also looks incredibly quirky and cool). If Marvel and Fox hated each other as much as it sounds like would they be willing to collaborate on this program? Perhaps if, "Legion," goes well we could see more partnerships in the future.
Evidence #2: A Bunch of New X-Men Comics
Marvel has been desperate to promote their characters known as the Inhumans. However, that has failed so badly the Inhumans movie may very well be dead and besides Ms. Marvel everyone could care less about the characters. For awhile Marvel seemed to be down-playing the role of the X-Men in the Marvel Universe, having a few team-books and of course Wolverine solo-titles, but nothing else (and please note Deadpool doesn't count here because even though he is related to the X-Men and owned by Fox he is popular enough Marvel is willing to milk that fame for all it is worth).

Suddenly Marvel is doing a whole bunch of X-Men comics in the near-future however, via what is being called, "Resurrxion." We're seeing announcements of a comic about Iceman, the potential return of Jean Grey and/or Wolverine (the original version, not an alternate-reality one) a, "Generation X," series and who knows what else could be coming? Putting aside how, "Resurrxion," is the most idiotic-sounding name ever and still does somewhat involve the Inhumans, it is cool to see more X-Men books finally coming out, and I think we can agree that if Marvel were still feuding with Fox we probably wouldn't see so many comics suddenly emerging.
Evidence #3: The December Collector Corps Box
Marvel does a subscription box that comes every two months full of exclusive goodies and which often ties-in to something popular or about to hit the silver-screen (with Doctor Strange due at the start of November they are doing a, "Doctor Strange," box for this month). Generally entities which are under the ownership of Marvel itself have been promoted besides in February 2016 when Marvel did do a, "Deadpool," box, but as I said earlier, he is an exception because he makes boatloads of cash-money even if Marvel doesn't have the film-rights to him. For December Marvel revealed a theme that this is my, "Smoking gun," of evidence because guess what the theme is?

Did you guess, "The X-Men?" I would hope you did as I have a picture of the announcement about the box above this text. Seriously though, why would Marvel even give the X-Men the time of day for their Collector Corps boxes if things weren't a modicum more cordial between Marvel and Fox? I suppose it is possible that Marvel's owner, Disney, could have said they want an, "X-Men," box and you can't deny the House of Mouse a request. That said, I'm leaning toward thinking that things have got to be better.

Case Closed?
This post is a bit of proof and a whole lot of speculation. I could very well be completely wrong about everything with Marvel and Fox still absolutely hating each other's guts. After all, just because there is some smoke that doesn't mean there is fire. On the other hand, you can't have a fire without smoke, so if we suddenly see the X-Men popping-up in stuff from Marvel Studios in the near future I would feel less surprised than a couple years ago.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Revenger," by Charles Forsman is Wonderfully B-Movie-Esque

I read and reviewed the incredibly depressing, "The End of the Fucking World," by Charles Forsman some time ago. A story about a young boy and girl who run away from home whilst the boy debates if he is a secretly a sociopath or actually a decent person, it was really good, quiet, and--as I said--sad. If, "TEOTFW," were a movie it would be one of those minimalist independent flicks that pop-up at a festival like, "Sundance," and makes some waves. I liked it enough I reached out to Forsman's indie-comic company, "Oily Comics," to compliment it and ask about getting on a press-list for updates. I never heard back, but I didn't take it personally as I imagine Forsmans is a busy guy. After all, he also now has been making a comic called, "Revenger," that other than being both written and drawn by him (as with, "TEOTFW,") couldn't be more different. If, "Revenger," were a movie it would be one of those 1980's action-flicks I love so much. It is brutal, violent, full of action, and oh-so-delightfully twisted (Hell, if I may spoil it, the bad guy turns out to be Russian cyborg)! I'm not the only one to get this kind of vibe from the comic, and boy do I love it. Others love it too, as in the process of my writing this article I see Comics Bulletin interviewed Forsman about the comic as well!

We never learn the name of the Revenger, and only learn a bit about her past (apparently she had a young son who was murdered and she now goes wherever she is needed via getting phone calls from desperate people). She clearly is not someone to be trifled with however, as when a young boy's girlfriend is kidnapped and forced into sex-work at the hotel of a big-time mobster, she has little hesitation about taking on anything that gets in her way. Over the five issues contained within this trade paperback the Revenger has her action illustrated expertly by Forsman who draws everything almost in a step-by-step motion when the fighting starts, making it look all the more rough and full of pain.
While, "The End of the Fucking World," was the kind of comic that made you think, "Revenger," is the kind of comic that is so over-the-top and wild that while it maybe isn't super-deep, it is super-fun. Forsman has been making a follow-up comics that can be found on the, "Revenger," website featuring the Revenger teaming up with other people known as, "The FOG,"and released a one-shot about the Revenger as well. I would highly recommend reading, "Revenger," and I know I'm going to be seeking-out the follow-up comics!
5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Review of the Stellar, "Secrets and Shadows"

As readers may recall, I met Jon Parish at the 1st-ever, "Saint Louis Comic-Con," and picked up all six issues of his mini-series, "Secrets and Shadows." I was eager to read it because when I met him at the con I was struck by his enthusiasm. Having gone to a number of conventions I'll often meet creators who don't seem that pumped to talk about their comic. Jon was the opposite of that. With him it wasn't, "Let me tell you about this thing I made," it was, "Let me tell you about this awesome thing I created and which I want to tell you about because you'll love it too!" Sure enough, I read, "Secrets and Shadows," and found it to be a fantastic book.

A superb comic reminds you of other great works while standing proudly as its own work as well. That is the case with, "Secrets and Shadows.". It takes place in a world where heroes exist but have become a bit of a corporate entity, with many operating under the domain of a cruel business--so a bit like, "The Boys." It also features multiple generations of heroes living in a world where much of the, "Old days," of super-villains has passed and everything is actually pretty calm and peaceful (Marvel and DC have both done, "What-If," and, "Elseworlds," books that have touched on this). That said, "Secrets and Shadows," takes these ideas and uses them to create its own interesting tale of a world where there are plenty of heroes, but they are mostly unneeded and least until the heroes start getting murdered.
Jon Parish
A young man named Joseph is the son of the greatest hero ever, "Dark Sun." "Dark Sun," has basically gone into hiding ever since his wife (and Joseph's mother) died. Joseph's brother has super-powers and is a big-name hero but Joseph doesn't have any abilities...or so he claims. At the end of the first issue we see Joseph has powers, but to much of writer Jon Parish's credit, he holds off until the sixth issue for us to see Joseph finally let loose. Joseph is easy to relate to and comes off as a well-rounded individual. This is good as some of the other, "Heroes," are anything but that, to the point some former villains who quit long ago end-up playing a heroic role themselves.

My only complaints about the book would be that the art in the first-issue is a bit too scratchy and unclear, but that is okay because as of the 2nd issue and all the way through to the end the artist changes to Dexter Wee and he does a really solid job showing-off the explosive action as heroes and villains go toe-to-toe. Also, the comic will at times jump-around a bunch in time, doing the whole, "1 hour ago," "3 weeks ago," etc. routine and that can get a tad confusing. Other than those two irritants (and one gets fixed after the 1st issue) this was some awesome reading.
At the convention Jon Parish got me really excited to buy and read, "Secrets and Shadows." I'm pleased to say I enjoyed the book just as much as he promised and would recommend without a doubt you check his website out here and visit his web-store at this link. I without a doubt can give, "Secrets and Shadows," a rating of...
5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Television Tuesday: Saturday Night Live and the 2016 Presidential Election

A Mixture of Quality
"Saturday Night Live," has often given us some of its strongest material when the political soil is ripe--e.g. a Presidential Election is arguably as fertile comedy-ground as you can get. Add an odious excuse for a nominee like Donald Trump and hilarity should ensue. That makes it all the more surprising how it took till towards the end of last season and finally during the first two episodes of this season for SNL to feel like it is taking advantage of laying upon the comedic farmland the pile of manure that is Donald Trump (and now you see what I did with that metaphor).

Perhaps because he had been a, "Friend of the show," there was hesitance to go for the throat with Trump, as the show even let him host after announcing his Presidency (and having already made horrible statements) in what was one of the biggest debacles I have ever witnessed SNL allow to take place. Thank God that ginger-handling of the topic of Trump has passed as it has become more and more obvious he is not only a horrific Presidential candidate, but an awful human being in general. During last Saturday's opening monologue when host Lin-Manuel Miranda started to state how Trump was a, "Piece of Sh..." before quickly cutting himself off so as to avoid saying a no-no word on network T.V. I cheered to see SNL has stopped its, "Let's make fun of both candidates equally," shtick and admitted that yes, Trump sucks. I mean, from Alec Baldwin's debut as Trump two weeks ago that has been pretty clear.
Ah yes, good ol' Alec Baldwin. Whereas Taran Killam (I miss him on the show) and Darrell Hammond gave us a Trump that was more of an attempt to mimic than mock, Alec Baldwin's surprise guest-casting as Donald Trump (for the foreseeable future at least) is a piece of parody-art. His Trump takes everything about the man and turns it up to an 11 of exaggeration. The scrunching of his face, weird pronunciation of words, general bad attitude, it is amazing. I don't know how Alec Baldwin does it but he must dig deep to create such a hideous masterpiece of hyperbolic skill. Plus, considering how Baldwin and Steve Martin often trade-off as being the people who have hosted SNL the most, Baldwin is without a doubt incredibly comfortable on the show and probably knows Executive Producer Lorne Michaels better than some of the cast. Plus, the fact the show got away with saying, "Grab them by the pussy," in last Saturday's opening was fantastic.

I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention how Kate McKinnon's has consistently delivered comedy with her hilarious portrayal of Hillary Clinton as someone obsessed with becoming President to the point she is eerily intense and kind of scary. Just two episodes in this season and I'm really missing Jay Pharoah and his Obama impression, but with McKinnon's Clinton and Baldwin's Trump the pain is at least bearable.
Last season of, "Saturday Night Live at times struggled to give us a show worth tuning into, especially when it came to its political humor regarding the Presidential Election. Hopefully if the first two episodes of Season 42 are any indicator things are going to be much better. Now it just remains to be seen what happens on November 8th. Hopefully we aren't all doomed/Donald Trump somehow wins.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention how considering how Baldwin is now playing Trump it is possible for Hammond to give us some Bill Clinton and have the two meet. I'm eagerly awaiting that for sure!

Monday, October 10, 2016

NYCC Thoughts and Observations Based on What I've Heard/Read

It is Done!
New York Comic-Con has come and gone. I would love to get to it some year but for now I can just observe all the news that occurred and comment on it, as I am wont to do.

Things that Happened
First some good news about Marvel, Miss America is getting her own series and it is about fucking time. I've been a fan of hers since she debuted in often-overlooked gem, "Vengeance," that Joe Casey did a great job writing and Nick Dragotta illustrated wonderfully. It is worth pointing out that the original creators are making their own pseudo-continuation featuring a character a lot like her so it is funny how it almost seems like Marvel is now ripping-off Image.

Some less-pleasing stuff in relation to Marvel occurred too; I always have been a big fan of Peter David (especially his  more recent Marvel work) but he really made an ass of himself at a panel where he insulted Romani/gypsy individuals. Axel Alonso also said how he was, "The furthest thing from an SJW [Social Justice Warrior]," using the phrase in a manner that is insulting and which even in context as this link from Bleeding Cool presents, rubs me the wrong way. Note that both of those links are Bleeding Cool and they seem very supportive of the creators. I guess Rich Johnson is trying to suck-up to Marvel after pissing them off. Other websites have pointed out that Peter David is looking pretty hateful, which sucks as I've loved much of his work and had a lot of respect for him. But wait, right before I posted this I saw that Peter David has full-on apologized and admitted he feels ashamed of himself. Can we find it in our hearts to forgive him? Maybe if he makes some more good comics with Madrox and X-Factor?

The folk at Saint Louis-based publisher Lion Forge have been quite busy between acquiring Magnetic Press and now announcing they will be launching a younger-readers imprint known as Cubhouse!
Batwoman will be getting her own solo book again. Most stuff featuring her I've ever read tends to be at least good and often great (thanks to some stellar creative teams) so this is cool news, especially with some great creators involved such as Marguerite Bennett on writing and art by Steve Epting.

I'm excited for the really cool-looking new show, "Legion," being made in a partnership with Marvel and Fox. I'm not that pumped that it actually ties-in with the X-Men movies, with David being Xavier's son. I would kind of prefer it is just completely separate.

The chances of, "Hellboy 3," ever happening continue to sadly disappear.
I like a lot of the stuff that comes out from BOOM! Studios and their panel sounds like it was cool, even if Frank Cho had to throw a fit.

Another panel that sounds like it was great? The, "Race and Sexuality," one with such great guests as Ta-Nehisi Coates, Steve Orlando, Roxane Gay, and more.

Black Mask will be publishing more interesting-looking books, including a 2nd volume of, "Space Riders," so that's good news.

NYCC of course had some amazing cosplay.

SCOUT Comics publishes some quality books and hearing they've got more coming makes me excited!

Frank Miller surprised people by signing comics for a very-costly $40, but all of it went to the honorable Hero Initiative, so that is admittedly a nice thing he did even though he's caused a lot of controversy in the recent years with some of his political comments.

Hearing that Sigourney Weaver will be the, "Big bad," for the Netflix, "Defenders," series is awesomesauce, as the kids say.

Apparently footage was shown of such films as, "John Wick 2," and the latest, "Power Rangers," reboot. I feel more comfortable getting excited for the former than the latter, at this moment in time.

Dark Horse will be putting-out more books involving, "Alien," as they have been doing for quite some time now. The handful of comics I've read with the infamous Xenomorphs weren't bad.

Good Times
That's what I found notable about NYCC. I hope anyone who attended had lots of fun!

Popbot is Getting Re-Released in 2017!

I am a big fan of Ashley Wood and his work. Whether he is doing paintings, comics, making action-figures, or whatever tickles his fancy he creates gorgeous stuff. I was a huge fan of his, "Popbot," back in the day and was happy to see in the October issue of, "Previews," that it is being reissued as a big hardcover by publisher IDW, collecting the entire series. I don't think the last issue before the series stopped coming out was ever collected in anything besides the, "Big Beautiful Book," that is notoriously rare and gigantic.

The story follows a cat that once led a band and wants to sell his bodyguard robot, but things get much weirder with sexy humanoid robots, what may be the Devil, and Sherlock Holmes pops-by too, in addition to  (sorta) Andy Warhol. "Popbot" is absolutely gorgeous, supremely weird, and something I would recommend you read. It comes out January 2017, mark your calendars!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Scattered Thoughts--Presidential Debate October 9th, 2016

The Presidential Debate today between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump just wrapped a short while ago and had me wondering how in the Hell we've come to this point. I have some scattered thoughts to offer you.

After those tapes of Trump saying awful thing about women leaked I didn't think this debate would be smooth-sailing, but Dear God I had not clue it would be this ugly.

I've never heard a U.S. Presidential candidate threaten to throw the other in prison if they win.

I've also never heard Anderson Cooper sound as annoyed as he did tonight.

Yet again Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton a bunch and she kept calm and didn't interrupt back. It made her look calm and he appeared to be an emotionally-volatile orange.

Thank God Trump didn't take it upon himself to go and grab Hillary Clinton by her, "Pussy [his words, not mine]," when she was making him extra-angry and he lurked behind her ominously.

Trump loved to keep saying the moderators preferred Hillary Clinton over him and were giving her preferential treatment, which is probably one reason Anderson Cooper sounded like he was ready to yell, "Fuck this, I'm going home," and leave.

All of Trump's comments about Bill Clinton might really hurt Bill's chances at getting elected in 1993, I say with an eye-roll. Seriously though, Bill isn't running this time, she is, and Trump is the one running for his party and he disrespects women horrifically.

There was plenty of talk about Trump's taxes and Clinton's emails. Russia was discussed too. Generally it was more-so a display of why each candidate thought the other was as terrible person.

Trump's go-to subjects seemed to be: Emails, locker-room talk excuses, Bill Clinton, how his taxes are Hillary's fault, and sniffing.

Trump loved to say we are handling Syria horribly but never offered any actual ideas.

I feel like Bernie Sanders was somewhere watching this debate and thought, "You know, maybe it actually was for the best I didn't get nominated to this shit-show."

For a debate about answering questions from voters I feel like we barely got through any questions and instead got to watch Trump and Clinton rattle-off their usual talking points when not vaguely-pretending to actually address queries.

When it was announced a, "James Carter," had a question during the debate my wife said quickly in a joking tone, "Wait, they've got Jimmy Carter there too, and he said he was undecided?" My wife has a quick wit.

I wondered if abortion rights and marriage-equality would come-up and towards the end they finally did. Hillary's statements were great, and Trump sounded like a moron praising the horrifically crooked and terrible Antonin Scalia as if he ever was anything other than miserable person. Also, Trump avoided talking about marriage equality or abortion rights and went with that old refrain of how, "The Democrats want to take away your guns!"

Why did Trump throughout the entire debate make it sound like all black people live within some kind of inner-city Hellscape full of non-stop violence? It was grossly offensive.

That last question though, where someone asked the candidates to say something they liked and respected about each other! Damn, give that audience member an award for, "Best Question."

In conclusion, this debate was like bad sex--you're exhausted and don't feel at all satisfied. I feel the way my favorite angry-faced feline feels. Take it away, Grumpy Cat:
Good night, and may God/Jesus/Mohammed/Budda/etc. help us all.

Disclaimer: I have made it no secret I support Hillary Clinton and think Donald Trump is an idiot, so clearly my statements are influenced by that.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Early-Month Links for October!

Early in the Month Again?
Yes, the previous link-post did indeed say, "Hello September."
I'm thinking of making it a theme, we shall see.
I know what you're thinking, "David normally does links at the end of a month, then he went and did some at the start of September before also choosing to post them earlier again in October!" Actually, you probably aren't thinking that as I bet you have little care as to when I post my links as long as I occasionally put-up interesting ones. Now then, here are some links.

I'm left-handed and we are slightly rare (1-in-10 people). This article discusses the question of why and how there still isn't really a good answer.

Don't tell my Sister-in-Law, but she is probably getting this card-game version of, "The Oregon Trail," in her Christmas stocking because it is the kind of thing she would love.

It was announced Warren Ellis is heavily involved (the word, "Curating," was used) in a DC re-launch of their Wildstorm books. Whether this means Wildstorm will become its own comic-Universe again, or how this impact current books utilizing the characters remains to be seen as more details are released.
I can use vinyl stickers to make my Playstation 4 look like an old-school NES? Awesome! Now we just need stickers to make your console look like an old Sega Genesis, or my favorite console of all-time, the Dreamcast.

Just because there is a technology start-up that doesn't mean it has to burn through a ton of cash and then either make it big or burn out in a spectacular crash. It can also grow slowly, steadily, and expertly, as this article on Mailchimp discusses.

As a big fan of Benjamin Marra I am excited to pick up a book collecting an assortment of his out-of-print and harder to find works. That this book has the best title ever considering his artwork and subject matter, "American Blood,"only makes things all the better.
World War I is not as often discussed as more recent wars, but has a lot of fascinating historical value. This article about how the introduction of tanks in WWI changed the battlefield is one example of how this war that is sometimes over-looked in popular culture deserves further discussion--and here's hoping, "Battlefield 1," is both a good game and encourages people to research the past further.

Is pornography turning us into mindless sex-zombies unable to be aroused by simple real-life sex due to the kind of wild things found online? Probably not, but as with all things moderation and responsibility is key, as this article discusses.

People loved the video-game, "Beyond Good & Evil," when it came out years ago and there have been countless rumors and false-starts about a sequel since. It seems an actual follow-up may be in pre-production, however, but time will tell what comes of this news.
Snickers is teaming-up with DC to publish a comic for New York Comic-Con. I still think DC should just admit Martian Manhunter likes Oreos instead of the fictional Chocos and do a comic about that.

The 2nd Presidential Debate will be happening here in Saint Louis on October 9th, 2016, at the University I went to for my Master's Degree, Washington University. I know this because WashU won't stop sending me emails about it and how excited the school is. I'm going to avoid that area of town on Sunday though because Lord knows traffic is going to be terrible.

Lastly, all this business about, "Scary clowns," and, "Killer clowns," is half a mixture of hoax, half people over-reacting. It really makes the people I know who hate clowns extremely uncomfortable though, that's for sure.

Enjoy the Month!

October is in fact my favorite month for a variety of reasons from how I enjoy the change in weather, to my love of Halloween, and how it is both the month I met and married my wife (in different years, of course). I hope you get out there and enjoy this month too--I'm excited for when the leaves change colors!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Rant-Reviews of the 2nd Issue of Comics!

Issue #2 You Say?
I have done a good number of reviews in regards to the first issue of comics. It could be argued however that while the debut of a series is obviously important, a lot can be learned from the follow-up issue. After all, something can start strong but quickly lose steam or begin in a mellow manner before really taking off. With that in mind I thought I would review issue #2 of a number of series and see what I liked (or didn't like).

Part Deux Reviews
Briggs Land #2
I have extremely mixed feelings about Brian Wood as more and more unpleasant things about him have come to light over time. That said, I found, "Starve," to be a decent read and wanted to give, "Briggs Land," a shot with it sounding like a potentially interesting book with its focus on a family dealing with drama...while leading a Separatist Nationalist group living in a compound in the United States. Yeah, that's a weird and fun-sounding mixture.

In practice, the comic has been okay, with the 1st issue setting the scene as the family Matriarch overthrows any remaining power of her currently-incarcerated husband and takes-over ruling Briggs Land; this is followed by a second issue full mostly of negotiations between family members about just how the peace will be kept (and if it actually will be). There also are some FBI agents investigating everyone who lives in Briggs Land and frankly these two issues have been most scene-setting and a lot of dragging-along.

The only character I find especially interesting is the youngest son of the Briggs clan, who actually went away and joined the United States Military, much to the chagrin of his separatist family. He's back home and I wonder what his motivations are. These two issues have been a bit slow and I'm thinking I'll probably wait for the trade and see if future reviews indicate things pick-up before I pursue reading much more. As it is now, this is a purely average comic.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

Kingsway West #2
Greg Pak generally knows how to tell a good story. In his first issue he introduces us to all the characters and in this one starts giving us the, "Meat," of the conflict, with his ability to tell a good story keeping me interested throughout that first issue all the way to the end of this one. Basically it is an alternate past where the discovery of a powerful, "Red Gold," has split the United States into various regions controlled by the Chinese Empress, the Mexican Empire, or New York with assorted uncontrolled territories as well.

This could be confusing, but Pak eases us into all this Geography gently and knows to keep the focus on his fascinating characters, such as the titular Kingsway West who is possibly the most dangerous gunslinger to ever live, as well as his wife Sonia who herself has skill in combat. Between mysterious pasts and the ominous Red Gold a lot is going on, but it is all understandable and fun. Some good stuff!
4 out of 5 stars.

Black Monday Murders #2
The first issue of this series was a big book that thankfully justified its $4.99 price-tag with a ton of pages full of weird content involving what appear to be deals with the devil and how they relate to money (which is, after all, arguably the root of all evil). The 2nd issue is actually just as large (and expensive) which surprised me as while Jonathan Hickman is a solid writer he is often prone to having some of his books (especially ones from Image like this title) face horrendous delays that kill any momentum. Lots of pages equal lots of writing and artwork, but thankfully he seems to have a number of scripts, "In the bag," for this series as he and artist Tomm Coker (who always does solid work) have this second issue out in good time after the release of the 1st and a 3rd one coming in two-or-so weeks. Does this second issue keep the strange horror of money, politics, and murder going that started up previously though? Yes, and quite well.

"Black Monday Murders," with its weird mixture of horror and economics creates something that is quite enjoyable and incredibly weird. With its continuing to vary between text-pieces and comic-segments as well as the table of contents at the start of every issue it really gives everything the feel of a large and dramatic novel that has been cut-up into various parts (e.g. these monthly comics). Just where this seemingly-epic book in the making will go however remains to be seen. That said, this is the first new work by Hickman that has made me really excited in a while--so that makes me happy.
5 out of 5 stars.

Jungle Fantasy: Ivory #2
The previous, "Jungle Fantasy," series re-launch only went for two issues but was clearly successful enough that publisher Boundless is now releasing this mini-series focused on the character, "Ivory," that is going to go for six issues, I think. This series continues the setup of the earlier one however, not telling a single ongoing story every issue but instead having multiple short pieces/vignettes that carry-over from issue to issue and which maintain the usual Boundless theme of tongue-in-cheek humor and plenty of lusciously illustrated T&A.

The two stories contained within the comic are a bit linked thematically in that they mention how Ivory is searching for her missing son, but other than that the focus varies. The first story in this issue continues the trend in issue #1 of having assorted pin-up style pages with Ivory in various states of undress and fighting prehistoric monsters whilst telling the story of her trying to track-down her son. The 2nd story is about Ivory having to fight against a tribe of people who live in tree-huts and who are really, really horny. I'm interested enough in the story of Ivory tracking-down her son to want to see what happens, and a little gratuitous sex-scene every now and then (as we see in the tree-people story) can be fun too.

These kind of comics are basically like the B-movies shown at 2nd-run theaters that are a step above the porno ones but a step below your usual Regal/AMC. They are a guilty pleasure without a doubt, but the hint self-awareness about how zany everything is gives the book a feeling like it is saying, "Hey, this is pretty silly, but we're all having a good time so just roll with it." I do indeed just roll with it, and found this issue to be delightfully absurd.
4 out of 5 stars.

Lady Killer 2 #2
Joƫlle Jones continues to bring us the story of a 1950's housewife who also dabbles in murder-for-hire. I don't know why, but this issue failed to grab my attention as much as the first one. Perhaps it is how the book has to go through a process of awkwardly setting-up a bunch of plot-points for the mini-series to follow with its discussion of a union of assassins, but this felt more like a ton of a set-up than anything else. It is clear some exciting things will be happening soon, but as it is this issue was just kind of dull other than Jones' amazing artwork continuing to impress.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

Kill or Be Killed #2
I in fact had not really read the solicits for this comic before the first issue came out, I simply saw it was the usually surefire team of Brubaker and Phillips and said to my comic-shop, "Put me down for a copy!" Therefore, based on the artwork and title I thought this was going to be more of a hard-crime comic in the vein of, "Criminal," or such. That made the supernatural elements that popped-up in the first issue and which continue in the 2nd all the more surprising and unexpected. What  is most shocking of all is how well the otherworldly mixes with the, "Normal," considering how another surreal comic by Brubaker and Phillips--Fatale--was quite the let-down for me compared to most of their work.

The first issue featured a young man named Dylan attempting to kill himself, being happy he fails at it, and then being told by a strange otherwordly Demon  (that says it saved him) he has to start killing, "bad," people or he himself will die. Dylan doesn't believe this but becomes progressively sicker until it becomes apparent he might just has to do whatever that dark force instructs. The first issue opened far in the future with a lot of guns and violence, but this issue is a lot quieter except for a dramatic conclusion where it becomes clear that Dylan is quite ready to kill so that he isn't killed. It's Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, this is almost for sure bound to be amazing and I'm excited to see what happens next. Two issues in and I'm ready to follow it to the end.
5 out of 5 stars.

As these reviews illustrated, the second issue of a comic can be as important as the first to keeping a reader interested. The 2nd issue can be where people decide to quit reading for now ("Briggs Land,"), when a reader gets fully hooked ("Kill or Be Killed,") or can simply be a solid entry that continues to build upon what the debut issue gave us. I hope my reviews of these 2nd issues entertained you enough and maybe got you interested in the books, because after all, you've only missed one issue so far should you choose to dive-in to a particular series!