Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I Found Some of Those Comic-Bundles that Have Certain Retailers Upset

I saw an article on Bleedingcool a bit over a week ago about how bundles of comics had, "Retailers in a Tizzy," which is actually a really good headline in my opinion as someone who loves the word, "Tizzy." You see, apparently at Walmart (and other stores) a shopper can find bundles of comics from Marvel, DC, and other publishers. The comics apparently are just random issues and probably come from a huge chunk of back-stock bought by some distributor or another who then has the stuff sold at big stores. I haven't seen these comic bundles at Walmart myself, but I was actually at a Five Below near my house and stumbled upon them.  Here are some pictures of the front and back of three various packs:

The DC ones all seemed to have a lot of random, "Batman Eternal," issues and, "Future's End," stuff. There were a number of bundles that had Marvel comics of a wide-range, from recent-ish Avengers and X-Men stuff to that, "All-New X-Factor," pictured and other books that seemed to be put in a bundle with little rhyme or reason. The only pack that really made any sense tonally/thematically was the pack of G.I. Joe comics from Devil's Due which again were all random issues, but came with a free trading card and at least all were the same series--although it has been years since Devil's Due owned the G.I. Joe license (that went over to IDW before Devil's Due went out of business and then came back slightly changed and post-merge with, "F1rst Comic,") so someone was really digging in the back-issues to make these packs, I think. Five Below realized even with a trading card these comics would have less appeal as the, "G.I. Joe," books were only about 2 bucks and the Marvel and DC ones were 4 smackers. I think all the books were marked-down from an initial retail price of $5.00 a pack as well.

Now then, getting four comics for under five dollars is a seemingly great deal. However, these four comics are utterly random and I feel like these are meant more as gifts for kids/teens/adults like me from relatives who hear, "Oh, they like comics," and then see this bundle and go, "Ah, this'll work," because seriously, how is anyone who can read as opposed to just looking at the pictures going to have any enjoyment of and clue about what's going on in, "Batman: Eternal #8," if they haven't checked-out issues #1-#7? I understand some direct-market comic retailers are perturbed about these books, but I don't think they are really competition for you all.  These are stocking-stuffers/filler items for clueless gift-givers who just see, "Marvel bundle," and remember that Timmy/Tabitha really likes those Avengers and X-Men movies. 
Plus, people realize Amazon and Groupon do these bundle-things too, right?

The one area I can see a reasonable grievance is that plenty of stores bought these books from the publishers and now are attempting to move the back-issues in their own shops with these bundles clearly competing (and sometimes stores will even make their own bundles of series). That said, I don't think the people who usually check the back-issue bins also will be taking their chance on a mystery bundle at Walmart/Five Below/etc. in the hopes it has the one comic they're looking for. After all, these bundles contain four comics and you can only see two due to how everything is sealed. This isn't true competition to the comic-shops, and they really shouldn't be as worried as they are--at least that is how I feel after giving these bundles a gander. That said, I might go back to Five Below and grab at least one or two of those, "G.I. Joe," bundles because I heard the old Devil's Due books were pretty decent, and I get that free trading card all for 2 smackers.

In closing, I get why stores are annoyed. I just don't think the imagined worst-case scenario of someone buying bundles instead of visiting their store will occur--these bundles appeal to a much different demographic of buyer. That said, perhaps the best-case scenario could occur where someone is given this bundle as a gift and then goes to a store to seek out the other issues of a comic! Yeah, it is a little far-fetched, I know, but I'm trying to be optimistic here. Anyways, everyone just needs to calm down about these comic-bundles. I strongly believe this shouldn't cut into the business for comic-stores much, so let's all just chill.

Monday, November 28, 2016

"SP4RX" is a Rollicking Good Read!

I read, "SP4RX," by writer and artist Wren McDonald (published by Nobrow) and found it to be a really good time. Set in a miserable future full of class-stratification, "SP4RX," features our protagonist--the title character--navigating this world and teaming-up with some hackers as it becomes clear a seemingly helpful program for citizens called the, "Elpis Program," which is a computer chip of sorts installed in the brain, may not be so harmless.

I quite enjoyed this book but there were three things I absolutely loved about it. First off, the artwork is amazing. Wren McDonald both write and illustrates this comic, and the style is a delightful mixture of fanciful sci-fi and grim reality as our protagonist wanders between different, "Worlds," of the poor, middle-class, and rich. Plus, the robots always look great. As for the second thing I loved, I was pleased how SP4RX is presented not as some predestined savoir for the hackers he ends-up joining to fight against the, "Elpis," program, he is just some random guy who is good at hacking and fighting that ends-up being in the right place at the right time on a couple of occasions.
The third thing I adored was the clever way the Elpis Program itself is presented in the story. Sold to the local population as a way to keep yourself awake and working, the Elpis Program is a, "Free," way for the lower and middle-class population to dedicate themselves to working harder and theoretically making a enough money to become higher-class citizens. Basically this program is a Randian wet-dream where the rich give the poor a tool to work harder under the auspices it will help the impoverished, but at the end of the day the rich just get richer--as always.

The secret to the Elpis Program however is that it has some hidden code that also can turn anyone with it installed into a murderous monster. Through appealing to the hopes of the poor and the greed of the rich the (obviously evil) company behind the Elpis Program can get it put into countless desperate people and then make them turn-on and kill on another so as to, "Eliminate," any riff-raff. The Elpis Program helps make it so that , "SP4RX," creates a dark commentary on our current world and where it could end-up, as the best kind of science-fiction should do!
Were I to have any complaints, it would be that while SP4RX himself is a purely capable person, we don't learn too much about what makes him tick, why he lives the life he does, and things of that nature. We see how SPR4X helps others, but never really learn why he chooses to do so. Still, even if SP4RX isn't the most well-developed character, the world he lives in is fascinating enough to make-up for that flaw.

"SP4RX," is a wonderful book full of amazing artwork as well as clever commentary on class-stratification and what the future could hold for our society if we don't start getting our act together. I enjoyed this book immensely and would rate it as...
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Note: I requested a copy of, "SP4RX," from the publisher, NoBrow, for the purposes of review. I was provided the book but no other compensation or incentive was given to review it in any way other than honestly and with my true opinion.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

I Had News and Links for Thanksgiving, But...

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I had a bunch of news and links I had collected from across the web, but I made the post accidentally back-dated when it went-up and then when I went to edit it to today's current date I then deleted the whole thing. Now, it is gone and I seem to be unable to recover it in any way as Blogger doesn't save deleted posts. Sometimes Google Cache will save things, but I literally had the post up for all of 5 yeah. I've scoured the web to try and find a way to fix this but am unable. If anyone can help me fix this somehow I'll mail you some comics as thanks. I mean, the post was up for a split-second so maybe it can be found, somehow? Anyways, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

P.S. the permalink was this, but as I deleted the post it sadly goes to nothing now of course:

Monday, November 21, 2016

Thinking About Local Comic Shop Day 2016 and How it Went For Me

I always enjoy chatting with my chums on, "Comics Heating Up," and they had a post asking people how their Local Comic Shop Day was this year. I made a big comment discussing how LCSD 2016 went for me and thought I made sense to share it on the blog too:

I stopped by a number of shops earlier in the day (right around when the opened) and all were pretty quiet except one--however 80-90% of the crowd at the busy shop was there for a Noon-time Magic tournament or a 10 cent back-issue sale because the store wanted to liquidate a bunch of stock, so really at every shop it was just myself and maybe one or two other folk explicitly there to check-out the LCSD offerings early in the day.

I was disappointed none of the shops I went to had any of the Black Mask stuff or the, "Dollface," comic as I wanted those to simply buy for myself and read. They had plenty of the Marvel, "Champions," comic, as well as the DC, "Rebirth," hardcover, some had, "Moonshine,", everyone had the, "Archie Meets the Ramones," comic, and some stores had a ton of the Bloodshot Valiant comic but no Harbinger, and others were the opposite with none of the former and plenty of the latter. Also, everyone had a ton of the Doctor Strange hardcover, the Outcast hardcover, and everyone had at least one, "Klaus," hardcover that looked admittedly snazzy but I'm watching my budget and it was way too expensive. One shop had the WWE bag of goodies from BOOM! Studios too. There also were some other comics available like the Serenity one and random other stuff I didn't really take note of as I don't read it (I've heard Firefly/Serenity was a great show and movie though). Nobody had any of the statues or toys. Oh, some of the shops did get the Dollface print and were giving it to people for free, with one shop giving me it as I was the only person who had even asked about it and it didn't have a price marked on it--with one shop telling me, "It just came for free from them because we did the day; we were gonna put it in the back with the other random prints and have it on a table of free stuff when Free Comic Book Day Happens." So now I've got some snazzy, "Dollface," prints to decorate my comic-shelf with!

So yeah, not too much fanfare out here for LCSD although shops did put out stuff for it. I know last year it was big speculation-event but this year it was more low-key and quiet. I hope it continues as there are some cool comics for sure. In case anyone was feeling bad for me missing out on the Black Mask stuff, don't worry, I was able to buy a fairly-priced copy of, "The Forevers Magazine," and, "The Disciples," hardcover on eBay and I look forward to reading them! It is a shame about the, "Dollface," comic being so hard to find however, and how it is going for prices that are too rich for my blood online. It was still a fun day however and is arguably my second-favorite comic book-related holiday (with Free Comic Book Day being my absolute favorite).

As my comment illustrates, I found this year's Local Comic Shop Day to be fun and I enjoyed it even if I was unable to find certain titles. I hope everyone else had a great Local Comic Shop Day as well!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Happy Local Comic Shop Day!

Today is the 2nd Annual Local Comic Shop Day! LCSD encourages consumers to go to their local comic shop and purchase all kinds of cool exclusive items (here is a list of this year's stuff) that only stores who participate in LCSD can acquire and sell. LCSD is sponsored by ComicsPro, which is like a union/group for comic-book stores who aren't a part of big ol' mega chains and like the idea of being able to band together and advocate for one another.

There is a ton of cool stuff this year, but keep in mind that supplies will be limited at stores, and a number of stores may not even get certain items--so please be patient with your stores and keep in mind the exclusivity of the cool items!

So yeah, don't be like Batman and miss-out today:
The folk at Brave New Worlds whipped-up this cute image.
Poor Batman!

Anyways, I'll see you out at the shops!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Reviews of Some DC Collections I Read Thanks to the Library

I Really do Love the Library
I've read some DC Comic Collections lately thanks to my library system carrying all the books I've heard are interesting but which I don't want to buy because my collection is getting too big for stuff that I might enjoy (plus I only have so much funds). I quit reading a lot of the DC books monthly before the latest, "Rebirth," re-launch but wanted to check some of the books out that I had either followed before dropping them (like, "Batman,") or which good things were being said about. With that established, here are some DC collections of comics I've read!

Justice League Volume 7: Darkseid War Part 1, Justice League Volume 8: Darkseid War Part 2, and Justice League: The Darkseid War: Power of the Gods
Yes, that last book's title  has a colon within a colon. It is odd, I know. Anyways, I mostly quit following the, "Justice League," comic after, "Forever Evil," and Lex Luthor figuring out how Bruce Wayne was Batman (not that impressive considering a kid, Tim Drake, has done it too, but whatever, I'll give Luthor the win). I guess that resulted in Luthor being allowed by Batman/blackmailing Batman onto the Justice League because here he is fighting against Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor AKA the secret bad-guy behind the villains of, "Forever Evil," fleeing their ruined home-world. Other heroes and villains pop-up such as Mister Miracle and a lady named Grail who is Wonder Woman's evil Amazon counterpart due to being born the same day (or something), but things don't actually get all that interesting until toward the end of Volume 7/Part 1 when a bunch of the Justice League members gain incredible powers in the process of killing Darkseid.

To name some changes: Batman finds his way onto the chair of Metron and gains near-infinite knowledge, the Flash gets the power of death (or something) and Superman seems to be basically the same in strength but now fully black-and-white in coloration and really pissed-off all the time. These alterations to our heroes is explored further in the double-colon, "Justice League: Darkseid War: Power of the Gods," which collects some one-shots that came out during the even chronicling what our heroes got up to during their time gifted with immense power although I only found the, "Batman," one particularly interesting with its focus on Batman causing a headache for the legal system due to his now capturing perpetrators because they can actually commit a crime. The Superman one wasn't too bad either with it hinting how even when vaguely-corrupted by the powers of Darkseid a hero like Superman has bits of humanity in him still.
Once Volume 8/Part 2 kicks in since the climax of Darkseid's violent defeat the story gets moving a lot more as the Anti-Monitor tries to destroy Earth and Justice League has to team-up with the Crime Syndicate (the evil heroes from that, "Forever Evil," event) and release them from prison in order to fight the Anti-Monitor whilst fighting their own new powers that are making them act weird. Wonder Woman is one of the few heroes not corrupted so a lot of Volume 8 involves her viewpoint and thinking about how she's possibly the only person staying sane as the whole team falls apart--a nice touch as outside of her solo-comics we don't see much of Wonder Woman's viewpoint in regards to when she is in a team-book.

It was a little odd seeing the Anti-Monitor--a being who can destroy all of reality--just slowly destroying Earth considering his immense powers, but it is addressed how he is a bit weaker from his fight with Darkseid and in some ways likes having the more, "Personal," touch of evaporating a single planet as opposed to doing damage on a massive scale--a weak explanation, but an explanation nonetheless. Plus, compared to how weird and confusing things start to get toward the end of Volume 8/Part 2 that's nothing. You see, the Superwoman of the Crime Syndicate is pregnant, and gives birth to a baby, that somehow is morphed into a full-grown Darkseid who is controlled by Wonder Woman's aforementioned evil fellow Amazon, Grail. So we've got the Justice League dealing with corrupted powers, the Crime Syndicate reappearing, as well as extra villains and heroes from various planets resulting in the last few chapters of this volume being a bit of a jumble of a ton of characters struggling to get, "Screen-time." The Justice League of course overcomes evil and saves the day, but it is really messy considering how many characters and plot-lines are fighting for attention. Still, overall this was decently-entertaining even if it was heavily flawed, so I would rate it as....
3 out of 5 stars.

Batman Volume 9: Bloom
The conclusion of Scott Snyder's immense run on, "Batman," and I think the only Nu52 book that kept the same writer from beginning to when it ended for, "Rebirth," starting-up. A whole bunch of things happened over Snyder's run from the introduction of the Court of Owls, to repeated appearances by the Joker, the late-series introduction of this, "Bloom," baddie, and towards the end Bruce Wayne was, "Cured," of the trauma of being Batman and quit doing it long enough for Jim Gordon to step-in and tackle the job for a bit. Don't worry though, before that could stick for too long Snyder essentially resets almost everything as Bruce Wayne becomes Batman again and the only meaningful alteration is how a young man named Duke Thomas joins-up to become a new bird-themed sidekick (Lark).

Also, we never learn the true identity of who this, "Bloom," person is because I guess the concept is how anyone could be a terrifying monster or a hero? I dunno. At least some of the time we get awesome art by Greg Capullo who also was with this run from the start but had the occasional fill-in artist. Snyder and Capullo gave us a, "Batman," comic that was at times ingenious, at other times terrible, but overall was a pretty good time, kind of like this concluding book. Not too bad of stuff.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

The Omega Men: The End is Here
This book won all sorts of critical awards and through the sheer protest of fans alone was kept from being cancelled early when the creators had said it was planned as a 12-issue epic and DC threatened to truncate that. Happily it kept going and then once collected shot-up the New York Times best-seller list, so hooray for critical reception turning into commercial success for once too!

"Omega Men," takes place in the DC Universe but in many ways works to be its own removed entity, focusing on a solar-system that has purposely kept itself removed from the affairs of the Universe--even the galaxies-spanning Green Lantern Corps. However, lantern Kyle Rayner comes to try and negotiate peace between warring groups and then things just get really depressing. Essentially this is a comic about how sometimes no matter how hard we want there to be a happy medium or a positive solution, sometimes shit just ends up being awful. It is a message I'm not sure I fully agree with, but kudos to writer Tom King for giving us a comic that eerily-mirrors much of the drama befalling nations today with our whole, "War on terror," except the twist in this case is that the terrorists are actually the good guys, maybe?
You see, even with the right-or-wrong ideas the comics covers, a whole lot of gray still exists and you as the reader are never sure exactly who to cheer for---the morality of everything is extremely murky. It is a really good read and one I would recommend you check-out via your library/borrowing from a friend/buying at a store or online. It's a fantastically good read.
5 out of  5 stars.

Thanks Again to the Library!
Thanks once more to my local county libraries! As a resident of Saint Louis County I actually can acquire a library card for the City libraries too (Saint Louis City counts as its own County), and have done so--some of the stuff I read for my post about manga was actually from the city. I plan to read more books via those libraries too and in the future bet I will be thanking both the County and City profusely as I keep making posts about the stuff I've read!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

An "Inhumans," Show is Coming to ABC AKA The Final Nail in the Coffin for an, "Inhumans," Movie Has Occurred

I discussed a short time ago how it looked like Marvel was trying to quietly kill the, "Inhumans," movie and it seems the final nail has been put in the metaphorical coffin because what, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." started when the Inhumans were first discussed is now being finished by ABC and Marvel as an, "Inhumans," television show featuring  Black Bolt is officially in the works. The Marvel-themed television shows of course take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the Marvel Cinematic Universe films don't really take place in the television-world...if that makes any sense. You see, the television shows will draw from the movies, but the movies never, ever, mention the T.V. shows, lest it dilute the brand (an ironic statement considering how many movies there are now, but yeah).

If it is any consolation for people who were dying to see an, "Inhumans," movie happen (all three of you) the show will premiere in IMAX theaters to show off its fancy-budget that will surely impress everyone with great special effects before being promptly forgotten just as, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." has been by most people--because at this point it is basically just the Marvel Netflix shows people care about outside of the movies (unless they really love the Robbie Reyes incarnation of the Ghost Rider).
Sorry, but we just don't care about you much, Black Bolt.
This arguably lends a bit more credence to my theory that Marvel and Fox are getting along better as well, because if Marvel is giving-up on an Inhumans-focused movie perhaps we will be seeing some Mutants/X-Men in the Marvel-Universe before too long? I mean, they've already got some character-swapping going in terms of rights, and that's one of the first steps to earnest collaboration (just look at how Marvel and Sony slowly defrosted their relations and now bucket-loads of money is being made).

In conclusion, the "Inhumans," movie is dead, long-live the, "Inhumans," television show (or at least it'll maybe go a season), and Marvel and Fox maybe are getting ever-so-slightly cozier as time progresses. As with all things, we can only wait and see what the future holds.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Television Tuesday On A Monday: Dave Chappelle Was Exactly What Saturday Night Live Needed This Weekend

Dave Chappelle had an amazingly popular comedy central program, "Chappelle's Show," which he startled everyone by walking away from back in 2005 when he felt the messages he was trying to impart were being missed by way too many people. Chappelle arguably left his incredibly popular show because he feared that instead of mocking racism he was in fact promoting it, basically. After that he did the occasional movie or stand-up act, but mostly has been under the radar for 10+ years. Then came November 12th, 2016, and it was so good I could not wait until it was officially Tuesday to post about it.

Last Saturday Dave Chappelle arguably performed his first return to prime-time since leaving his show and hosted one of the best episodes of, "Saturday Night Live," in quite awhile. SNL is of course a program I have written about on multiple occasions, and one which often will stumble (Trump hosting in 2015 is a scar that will probably never heal) or have periods of dreariness. Howver, I stick with the show because episodes like the one we just had last weekend are a prime example of why I never give-up on the program. The opening with Hillary Clinton singing the recently-passed Leonard Cohen's, "Hallelujah," was a bit odd, but it led right into an amazing monologue by Dave Chappelle. Before I discuss it you should watch it first, here is a video-link:

Damn, just damn. That is exactly what many people needed to hear after the dreadful week of Donald Trump winning the Presidency (shudder). Chappelle spoke earnestly, bluntly, and expressed hope but also kept us in the realm of reality. It was honest, frank, and the story at the end of his monologue about the history of the White House was touching. The fact that the rest of the episode was stellar too, between Dave actually bringing back some of his characters from, "Chappelle's Show," for a clip themed as, "The Walking Dead," surprise appearances from multiple folk (including Chris Rock!), and a bit that was delightfully meta in its humor (the hair-filled restaurant skit that bombs terribly but then is revealed to have been purposely bad for a post-skit interview segment), this was an astonishing episode of the long-running program (40 years now and counting).

After how I was feeling during the week post-election, seeing this episode of, "Saturday Night Live," was just what I needed--laughter, a much needed dose of hope, and encouragement to stand-up for what I believe in as things will only be getting tougher soon.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Various Manga Titles I've Tried Lately

David's Reading Manga?
Okay, let's put aside any misery related to the election and discuss something more fun, like...manga?Yes, manga--which I know I've discussed in the past as something I don't seem to always really be especially into outside of a handful of select titles. I wanted to see if maybe I just haven't found stuff that really, "Grabs," me and from finding various recommendations on the internet, in podcasts, or thanks to various people I spoke with, there are some books I picked-up from the library (both county and city), borrowed from someone, or purchased that I have read and will now review!

Manga Magic...Or Some Alliteration Like That!
Death Note Volume 1
This wasn't bad at all! It is a really quirky book about a demon that gets so bored it drops a notebook to Earth that will kill anyone who has their name written in it. Little does the demon suspect that a High-School student named Light who picks-up the book is a genius who instead of using the book to kill of people like bullies (as a normal story might go) decides he wants to become a God of sorts and starts killing-off criminals in the hopes people will behave more. It is a weird swerve in the story and compliments the off-kilter vibe of the book. It'll have quiet and realistic moments and then suddenly introduce us to a mysterious detective named simply, "L," who is used by Interpol for impossible cases such as the one Light has caused (because when criminals suddenly start dropping dead of unexplained heart attacks it causes a panic). The story stays interesting though in how Light appears to always be at least one step ahead of anyone investigating him.

My favorite moment in the book was probably when the Demon tells Light he didn't actually, "Choose," him. Light just happened to find the, "Death Note," and turned out to be the perfect person to use it with his mixture of intelligence, cruelty, and being enough of a narcissist he wants to rule over a theoretical peaceful world he has forced into existence. That's the crux of it all, Light isn't some special choice, he just got lucky, and it seems deep down that irritates him a bit and is one of the driving forces behind his actions. I've read that while the manga is quite enjoyable earlier-on sometimes people get a big tired of it after various twists and turns in later volumes. Whether that will occur for me remains to be seen, but as of right now I found this first volume pretty fun.
3 out of 5 stars.
Monster Volume 1
I quite liked this manga as well, arguably even more than, "Death Note." This is a big honkin' book at more than 400 pages but as with a lot of manga I've tried I find it reads pretty quick--especially when a story grabs my attention. This book details a doctor named Kenzo Tenma who saves the life of a young boy when he and his sister (who is in shock) appear to have their parents murdered and the boy is shot in the head. As this first volume proceeds however it becomes apparent the little boy was a dangerous killer and now has grown into one of the worst sociopaths ever...all thanks to Dr. Tenma saving his life those years ago. This volume sets-up much of this plot and then brings the reader some brutally violent climaxes about 3/4 of the way through before then starting to set-up what is bound to be some more interesting volumes of Dr. Tenma trying to kill what is arguably his own Frankenstein's Monster--although wait, the kid was already awful before the doctor saved his life, so that metaphor kinda falls apart.

I looked on Google and apparently I'm not alone in really liking this manga, with it having won numerous awards and having had adaptations made of the comic. Author Naoki Urasawa has made a stellar book here and I'm excited to check out the 2nd volume. Between, "Death Note," and this  book maybe I'm finding out I actually really do enjoy manga, I just need the right kind of story!
4 out of 5 stars.
Gantz Volume 1 and Volume 2
If, "Monster," was the right kind of story for me, this is...well, it isn't the, "Wrong," story, but it definitely is a different and quite odd kind of story. Whereas, "Death Note," is a bit of an adolescent power-fantasy and, "Monster," is a suspenseful murder-mystery, this is a lot of over-the-top violence and nudity--so yeah, that kind of story.  Created by Hiroya Oku, this first volume introduces us to the basic concept of how people who have seemingly died are in fact still alive (maybe?) and have to follow the orders of a strange black orb--orders which consist of going off and killing folk. I read-up on the overall plot of the series (as I am the kind of horrific human who often doesn't mind spoilers/spoiling themselves in regards to a story) and have learned there is a bit of a riff on video-games with much of the story, as the protagonists under the control of the black orb/Gantz earn, "Points," for fighting aliens disguised as humans and if they fight/play well enough can resurrect teammates--"Players," are even stuck in a certain area/arena of sorts until all the enemies are eliminated. After that, everyone gets to go home and live a normal life until they are summoned by Gantz again.

It's a bit of a clever concept and while these first two volumes barely scratch the surface of all that, I still was moderately entertained by all the proceedings--after all, sometimes you just want to enjoy some absurdly-violent silly action and nudity (hence my saying this isn't the, "Wrong," kind of story for me, but a weird one for sure). I'm interested enough in what's going on to at least find a way to pick-up and read volume 3.
3.5 out of 5 stars.
Goodnight Punpun Volume 1
This is one of the weirdest stories I've ever read, so congrats to author Inio Asano, I think? Please note, I am not saying the weirdest manga, just most bizarre and outright demented yarn I've seen told in some time (I'm not alone in feeling this). Basically following the life of a kid named Punpun who lives in Japan, the thing about the story is that everyone around him is a Punpun is purposely drawn in a minimalist style which stands in an intriguing stark contrast to the hyper-detailed drawings of people and photos of locations around him (besides his family who are also drawn the same). The people, as I mentioned are all strange. Whether this is the school Principal who plays, "Hide and seek," with other staff, his friends who obsesses over a God made out of poop, or the girl he has a crush on who seems sweet but also threatens to kill him if he ever crosses her, Punpun's life is sort of weird--and that's before we even get to how his home-life is pretty much a mess.

It seems Punpun's father may have a drinking and violence problem as the story makes it clear early on he gets arrested and can't be near the house or Punpun's Mother who has a mysterious injury befall her. This results in the brother of Punpun's Mother moving in and besides being a huge angry cynic he seems to be the only person in Punpun's life who isn't messed-up. Punpun sometimes tries to talk to God about all this, and God is a smiling man with an afro who seems more interested in belittling Punpun than helping him with anything. As I said, it is all very, very weird. It is sad because Punpun really does clearly want to live a normal life, but even supposedly regular things he does turn weird. He and his friends find a porno-tape and are excited to watch it, but when they start viewing it the, "Action," suddenly cuts out to reveal someone taped a murder confession over the movie that may or may not be a hoax. The whole first volume of this collection is that way--normal things just go screwy.
I make this all sound very tragic, and while things are pretty depressing, this is also a pretty funny book. There is a lot of comedy in the sadness and while the book can at times be a really dark comedy, it still can be quite hilarious at the same time it is horrifically sad. I loved this initial volume of, "Goodnight Punpun," and am for sure going to seek-out future editions which have already been translated and released along with upcoming volumes.
5 out of 5 stars.

Good Stories, Hooray!
Well what do you know, I apparently do like manga, I just had to find the kind of comics that appealed to me. I read some good books and some great books, having found a number of titles I definitely would be interested in reading more of without a doubt. I look forward to reading more manga and know that while there will doubtlessly be stories I stumble upon that I don't enjoy, there is some fantastic stuff out there as well.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Depressed Today AKA Really America?

I'm shocked and depressed today. Our nation took some big steps forward over the years and now it seems like it won't be taking steps back so much as falling backwards on its ass. Enough voters showed they would rather embrace sexism, racism, homophobia, and other negative things as opposed to moving forward. Instead of being proud of my country I am embarrassed by and concerned for it. I fear for the safety of my friends who are Muslim, Latino, LGBTQ, and basically anything other than a White Christian Male. One of the worst candidates ever in the history of the Presidency won--someone with zero political knowledge or experience, hatred in his heart, and prone to telling lies.

So I now ask, really America? This is who enough of you wanted to win that he actually went from being a joke to our President-Elect? I just want everyone who voted for him to know they get to take full responsibility as gay rights, abortion rights, minority rights, and basically any progress we've made is eroded. Donald Trump is going to be our 45th President, I hope we survive it and he isn't our last.

Monday, November 7, 2016

If You Can, Please Vote Tomorrow!

If you are a United States citizen, over the age of 18, and don't have anything that keeps you from voting (such as not being registered), I would please encourage you to vote tomorrow. I don't care whether you are voting for the people I would support or against the candidates  I am/would be rooting for; I just want everyone who can vote to do so. I would rather see that a ton of people voted than the usual abysmal turnouts our nation has. Google has made it incredibly easy to find out where you go to vote and no, you can't vote from home or via your cell-phone despite what some internet-trolls would have you think. Also, as there is more than just the Presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on ballots, try and look into what your area has people voting on.

I hope everyone has a great election!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

I Hate it When Games Call Their DLC A, "Season Pass," and Am Going to Share Why

You all say, "Season Pass,"but I don't think you understand what it means.
When you buy a, "Season," of a television show digitally on Blu-Ray/DVD you get that whole show, with all the special features. Imagine if you bought a television show but were told to get the full, "Season," you had to pay more money, then you could download the commentaries from creators, extra scenes, etc. all piecemeal or as part of a, "Season pass." Wouldn't you say, "Season pass? I just bought the damn season!" You would be pretty pissed, right? This is why I hate when games call their downloadable content something that can be totally bought with a, "Season Pass," as we keep seeing constantly with upcoming titles like, "Watch Dogs 2," and other games.

Think about this: A game is in a way a, "Season," of entertainment. It should have a full story (or at least give you the kind of game-play where you create your own fun stories to share), provide you with a good amount of entertainment, etc. Therefore, saying someone can buy downloadable content (DLC) in a, "Season Pass," is stupid. I already bought the season, you're just trying to get more money from me for extra stuff you didn't put in the season. Now, this rule doesn't apply to game that actually come out in episodes and which offer a, "Season pass," to play the whole game. It is different if you can buy episodes of the game in downloadable chunks of the whole season of the title--that is exactly like television shows where you can download some episodes or buy a whole season when the show itself actually wraps. Hence, the adventure games Telltale releases in bits ("Walking Dead," "Batman," and so forth) or the most recent way the Hitman game came out are excused as they are actually following the way I think a, "Season," should play-out for a game. It ain't a, "Season," if you give me a whole game and then try to tack on a whole bunch of stuff though. No way, no how.
Again, you say, "Game of the Year," as if you understand what that means.
Now, I am by no means saying I am against paid DLC. If you want to release your game and then have a bunch of extra stuff people can pay to download, go for it! I mean, I probably am not going to buy the DLC and instead of purchasing the initial release of the game will wait for the later-version that collects everything (often called, "Game of the Year Editions," even if the title never won such an award from any publication), but feel free to do that. I will continue to admire when people do what the creators of, "Overwatch," and, "Titanfall 2," have done however, where all the actual good stuff you can play with is free and they just charge for fun little cosmetic things that don't impact the game. I'm really impressed when there isn't DLC and the whole game actually comes when you buy the actual game (or any and all DLC is free)--but these days that sounds crazy!

This sounds almost as whiny as my recent post about the upcoming, "Switch," from Nintendo, but I believe I actually am standing on some firm ground here. Plenty of people hate DLC and while I'm not quite as hardcore anti-DLC as some folk, I clearly despise companies trying to sell it to us as some kind of, "Season Pass," when the way they are doing  it (earlier-mentioned exceptions aside) is in no way what I think of when I hear I can buy a, "Season," of something. I feel better now that I got all this irritation off my chest--metaphorically speaking--I don't actually have any irritation on my chest (if I did, I would go to the doctor ASAP). Do you agree, or am I in fact just yelling into the void of consumer indifference? At this point considering how much money companies make off DLC I'm really not sure.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Well, I Have Bad Timing AKA Double Take is Apparently Shutting-Down

A bit earlier today I posted some further thoughts about the comics that came out from Double Take, having read more of the material and actually quite liked what I saw. Then later today I see Bleeding Cool posting that the company may very well be shutting-down. I really have bad timing considering how as soon as I discovered I liked this stuff it now comes to an unceremonious end. The irony is thick.

A Big Post Revisiting the, "Double Take," Comics And Discussing Bill Jemas

An Email Came One Day
Even my headline was pretty negative towards the comics!
Not too long ago I posted an article where I reviewed the first issues of all the, "Double Take," comics that used, "Night of the Living Dead," as a jumping-off point for telling some zombie-stories. I honestly stated I was unimpressed and found things bland despite some comics showing glimmers of potential. After that I went on with life until a couple of weeks ago I saw I had an email from Bill Jemas.

Bill Jemas was of course a big name at Marvel for awhile before he left to go do his own thing, and then came back into comics when none-other than Double Take asked him to spearhead their new comic's line and write some of the books. Therefore, I saw that the man behind some of the comics I called, "Dull, dull dull," and said, "Batted a 0 out of 10 with me," had written me an email. My first thought was, "The Bill Jemas reads my blog? That's cool," followed by, "Wait, Bill Jemas reads my blog? OH SHIT! He's probably going to curse me out or otherwise be really pissed!"
Imagine my surprise then when upon opening the message Bill Jemas had sent me that instead of it being full of rage he actually was really nice. He said he had seen my reviews and while he wasn't exactly pleased I disliked the comics, he was happy to see I took the time to read and review each one with detail about what I did and did not like. He then offered to actually send me the first trade paperback collections of the very series I had read and insulted for the purposes of review as he felt that upon reading the entire arcs I might in fact like the comics a lot more. I warned him that as I pride myself on being blunt and honest on the blog if I hated the stuff I would state so, and he expressed that he understood this. So, I gave Bill Jemas my address figuring either I would get some comics to review or this was all a ploy for him to find out where I live so he could come to my house and murder me for my negative reviews.

I in fact did some days later receive a big box full of the trade paperbacks, so Mr. Jemas was as nice as he seemed and wasn't planning to kill me. I've read through all the books and will offer some quick thoughts on each book along with if my initial impressions were right, but if you want to know my over all conclusions you can just skip to the bottom-segment

Thoughts on the Books
Wait, all those first issues I read made me think these were zombie comics! This book starts that way but then suddenly swerves into being a bit of a book about people with powers and is my first indicator that maybe there is more to these comics than I thought. Plus, the manager of the store carefully conducting business in a way that helps him buy-out the town was pretty darkly funny as well. The sudden swerve in story-telling with some characters gaining incredible powers as opposed to turning into zombies was interesting and resulted in my liking this quite a lot.
4 out of 5 stars.

Ah, my least favorite of the initial comics. Well, even though the concept of the youngest kid constantly swearing or being rude (and nobody can tell) never grew on me, the rest of the characters thankfully did and a seemingly boring family turned out to be a lot more interesting. It seems, if anything, the family is acting so dull because they hide some big secrets in the form of actually being from another planet. The story still drags a bit at some points, but that twist definitely keeps things a lot fresher.
3 out of 5 stars.

Hm. I still didn't really care for this story as much. I think the problem is that the main characters are just so unpleasant that I could not bring myself to care about their survival or to cheer for them. A few other interesting things happen with some other characters who come back not quite a zombies (or, "Ghouls," as the comics call them), but something weirder and just as contagious (and as, "Dedication," showed, not everyone is afflicted the same way). Still, this book dragged for me.
2 out of 5 stars.

This overlaps with, "Honor," a bit as the staff of the hospital meets-up with the police, and that drags some parts of the book down. Luckily, there are enough other interesting segments discussing why people could be coming back as flesh-hungry monsters and continued hints of otherworldly presences that I was pretty intrigued. This book like some of the others has the weird, "Character says a monologue," bits, but it flows okay and wasn't too distracting.
3 out of 5 stars.

Ah, now this comic surprised me because I ended-up loving it. The first issue/chapter is pretty dull as I said initially, but then things get a lot more interesting and twisted as the protagonist, Samantha, begins going a little stir-crazy and using the Ghouls for the purposes of all sorts of weird radio segments and going-against the FCC with rampant swearing and sex-talk before she inexplicably finds herself affected by whatever virus/radiation is causing people to change but instead of turning into a ghoul becomes a giant who uses banners and signs from protesters of her, "Indecency," to remain clothed. Dark, funny, clever, and otherwise great!
4.5 out of 5 stars.

This comic supposes that Johnny from the opening of, "Night of the Living Dead," actually survived and helps save Barbra at towards the end of the movie. From there it kind of expands out and is a more straight-forward take on how the Government would probably try to handle a zombie epidemic (they would bomb everything) and how the populace would respond to that threat (they would fight and run). It's a perfectly fine read but lacks some the off-the-wall charm of the other books and if anything plays things too straight and serious. Still a fine read though.
3 out of 5 stars.

Besides some interesting moments featuring an otherworldly/alien character trying to basically sabotage humans from within their own groups, this comic was one of the ones that dragged a bit. I did find myself amused by its point about how people never seem to respond to the death of other humans but will suddenly freak-out and protest if animals are mistreated the same way. Still, besides a hilariously macabre doctor and those bits this was a bit mediocre for me.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

This comic also at first draws from, "Night of the Living Dead," with protagonist Ben surviving the events of that day, but then unlike, "Rise," proceeds to get really weird as Ben suddenly keeps dying and repeating the day on a bit of a, "Groundhog Day,"-styled looping of time. It is incredibly weird and confusing at first before it becomes apparent what is going on, and I really liked how the book started-out seeming, "Normal," but then goes completely wild. Awesome stuff.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

This comic brings all the alien-stuff more into focus and explains a lot of it. After the uninspiring first-issue where I assumed people were turning into zombies who disappeared under the water at a lake, we actually get some interesting reveals of how Venus is essentially terrified at the thought of Earth discovering they have a habitable planet lest they be colonized, so the people of, "Earthwatch," have been monitoring our globe to keep it from realizing too much about Venus. Corny name aside, it is a fun sci-fi concept and explains all the aliens in the other books working to sabotage Earth (although the family in, "Dedication," seem unaware of that plan and may be their own unique otherworldly-creatures). Anyways, it is nice to get some more explanations and I've been finding when these books get a little zany I really like them, so considering how wild this book became, I was a fan.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

This comic has two men from Secret Service going to the outbreak of ghouls and trying to figure out what is going on. They discover there is a lot more than simple zombies--as the other books have discussed--and this book discusses some of the bombing of the town that occurs in the other titles. This is one of the books that kinds of, "Fills in the blanks," of the other titles and reads fine, but is mostly unimpressive.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

Conclusions/Was Bill Jemas Right?
Bill Jemas
So, after my initial negative impressions and Bill Jemas reaching out to me so that I could read the rest of the comics and see if I liked them, was he actually right? Did it turn out reading the entire story-arcs made me like the comics more? Well, I'll be damned, but despite some of the books still not impressing me I actually found myself overall liking the books a lot more and quite enjoying a number of them.

It seems Bill Jemas was right, as through reading the full-stories I could get more into the, "Vibe," of the comics and realized that while these are seemingly zombie comics at first, they are using, "Night of the Living Dead," and zombies as a way to spring-board to other subjects like super-heroes, aliens, and the like while also purposely trying to be a little campy, funny, and off-kilter to intentionally give readers some horror, but also a good dose of comedy. I've even said it can be unwise to judge something by its first issue/episode/etc. so this is another example of that statement being proven true. I am surprised as anyone else that I found myself liking these books to the degree that I did and that I am now interested in the upcoming comics that will be released this December.
I suppose the main person to thank in this scenario is Bill Jemas. I was highly critical of this work and instead of swearing at me/trying to run me over with his car he actually reached-out and offered to let me review the rest of the comics, because that was how strongly he believed in the books. I guess this was a case where Bill Jemas knew best. He hasn't always known best--as can be attested by those who remember, "Marville," and how weird that was--but in this case he did, and I'm happy he emailed me with the offer to review the books.

If I was wrong about these comics maybe I'm wrong about other stuff too? I mean, should I maybe reach out to Rob Liefeld and see if he isn't a jerk after all, or even apologize for saying Greg Land is a talentless hack? Nah, let's take this in baby-steps.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

News and Links to Kick-Off November

It's Becoming A Routine!
It is almost becoming a routine that I'll post links at the start of the month as opposed to occasionally at the end. I don't think this is a bad thing as whether we are at the opening or conclusion of a month there is always interesting stuff going on to talk about.

I really enjoyed this article about the author's conflicted feelings regarding a popular panel featuring Luke Cage.

I love the movie, "The Thing," and consider it one of John Carpenter's greatest works. The video-game spin-off/sequel that came out years later in 2002 isn't awful but for all of its creative ideas and inspiration underwhelming me overall in its game-play. This article at the AV Club about how the game pales in comparison to the flick sums up just how I feel. It is a really good and suspenseful film for sure though, so it is understandable it would be hard to equal.

A shortage of injectable-estrogen has put the health of transgender women at risk. This shows what happens when a handful of companies have all the rights to a medication and find themselves lacking the ability to make it. Sigh.
One of my aunts was actually at Busch Gardens that fateful day a goose hit Fabio in the face. When she tells the story I always crack-up. If he had been horrendously hurt it wouldn't be funny, but the sheer incongruity of it all makes me laugh. It is crazy to think people born when that happened are now in High School as a meme pointed out.

As if you needed this horrendous Presidential election to make it clear, American confidence in our institutions/organizations is generally extremely low.

Remember Neopets? Apparently it still exists but now is a virtual-reality wasteland, as is discussed here.
Out of the two cats my wife and I adopted, one has teeth that poke-out a tad (Ginsburg). He does't compare to this cat  though!

Dear God, when will the creators of, "Overwatch," quit toying with people as they have been for months and just announce who this damn, "Sombra," character is, already?

I want to get up to Toronto for their big comic-book festival/convention someday. It looks too cool to keep missing and is continuing to grow!
You know, I have wondered what would it take for Twitter to get serious about the harassment issues we always are hearing about? This piece discusses that.

I've been renting and enjoying, "Titanfall 2," thanks to my supply of Redbox coupons. I've spent most of my time in multi-player so far, but agree that the single-player campaign has had some impressive moments from what I've seen so far.

Now to conclude on something funny-yet-sad: It is hilarious in a depressingly twisted way when a birth-control study on men had to be canceled because the men couldn't stand the same side-effects women have had to put-up with for decades.

That's All for Now
I do so love how it looks when the leaves change color.
I hope you enjoyed all those links to start-off your November. Enjoy this abnormally warm weather in the United States while you can because before you know it the ground will be covered in snow and we'll all be freezing our buns off!