Thursday, August 31, 2017

Okay, We REALLY Need to Talk About Marvel, Their Cover-Ordering Scheme Specifically

It Has to Stop, Seriously

Previously, I discussed how we needed to talk about Marvel and its Marvel Legacy plan, which--if we're being generous--looks like a huge fucking mess--and again, I'm being generous. Randomly switching to numbering that doesn't make sense mid-storyline with the same creative team on your books isn't any kind of cool relaunch, it just is confusing, frankly. The saving-grace for stores having to put-up with this shit of course was to be the lenticular covers e.g. shiny covers where the image changes when you move it around. Then, Marvel went and decided to screw retailers really good.

Things can get pretty technical in discussing why Marvel is giving retailers a bad deal, and I would recommend this piece by store-owner and journalist Brian Hibbs that breaks things down expertly. I can attempt to summarize why this is so bad too, however.

Step-By-Step Discussion of Why This Sucks
1. Stores order comics through a method known as the Direct Market which means they get a really big discount on the comics they order (a bit more than half-off the usual retail price) with the agreement they can't return books if they fail to sell--a store is just stuck with them to throw in dollar bins, use for kindling, etc.

2. Normally with lenticular covers stores can order them without much rules. If a store normally orders 10 copies of the latest, "Iron Man," they can feel free to order 5 regular covers and 5 lenticular covers, 10 regular covers and a few extra lenticular covers, or any other variation they please based on considering how many comics they generally order and how many extra they expect to sell thanks to the lenticular-cover gimmick.

3. Marvel is doing an idiotic requirement where if you want lenticular covers you have to order a higher number of a comic than you normally do, sometimes more than double what you normally buy. Therefore, if you generally order 10 copies of, "Iron Man," and it has a 200% requirement to be allowed to order lenticular covers, you now have to buy 20 copies of, "Iron Man," from Marvel to even be allowed to then add-on lenticular covers. So you have to buy 20 regular covers and then can order a bunch of lenticulars in addition.

4. Therefore, you are now buying possibly double what you usually get of a comic plus lenticular covers and have basically had to pay double what you normally do to even get access to the potentially-popular lenticular covers.

5. "But wait," you may be saying, "Stores get that big Direct Market discount so that helps a bit, right?" Well, Marvel is twisting a knife in retailers wounds by not offering lenticular covers at as big of a discount. Normally you might get more than half-off the books so that you can turn a profit, but with all the, "Legacy," lenticular covers it seems like a flat 50% off--exactly half.

6. You are now a retailer who has ordered double what you normally buy and expect to sell of, "Iron Man," plus you've spent additional money on lenticular covers, and those covers aren't at much of a discount. That's a pretty bad deal.

7. Now picture this shit deal occurring on 50+ comics and try to calculate just how much in the hole stores will have to go in order to buy lenticular covers.

Marvel is Playing a Dangerous Game
As those steps indicate, stores are either going to have to take a big bet on, "Marvel Legacy," being some kind of immense hit with a bunch of new people buying the books, or they will have to order a bunch of stock they can't sell and list the lenticular covers they had to jump through countless hoops to buy for well over the normal sticker-price to recoup any profit. Plenty of stores have openly discussed how they won't be ordering enough books to get lenticular covers, as that would mean risking huge amounts of money and potentially going-under. Other stores haven't declared that they'll be skipping-out on lenticular books but may still choose to opt-out. I have spoken with comic stores that aren't releasing a big statement shaming Marvel, but if customers ask have informed them that while, "Marvel Legacy," books can of course be ordered, lenticular covers can't be as they will be unable to meet the minimum requirement--unless a customer wants to volunteer to buy those extra 10 copies of, "Iron Man," of course.

Marvel is playing a dangerous game here, folks. In an effort to be able to declare that, "Legacy," is some kind of sales hit they are daring stores to recklessly inflate their ordering so as to be allowed to get the popular lenticular covers. Marvel is acting like an addict who thinks it can just abuse stores in order to get its fix of declaring event-success, and while you would think Secret Empire was the company hitting rock-bottom, clearly it can still fall. Nobody wants Marvel comics to utterly and unquestionably fail as that would hurt the comic-book industry from other publishers to retailers. "Legacy," isn't the answer though, it is Marvel thinking that, "One more hit," of absurd marketing gimmicks can't hurt, even though Marvel is doing damage to the very people it relies on most--retailers who sell its books. Everything could work-out fine and maybe, "Marvel Legacy," won't confuse people with its random renumbering, lack of clear story-direction, and God-awful lenticular ordering-scheme. I'm worried that it won't, though. Very, very worried.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Don't Mess With These Ladies: "Mean Girls Club," Review

I like NoBrow Press and I like their PR person, Tucker Stone, so I will often read NoBrow's books and bug Tucker to tell me funny observations about comics. Tucker Stone is of course a PR-person now at NoBrow but before that did a lot of hilarious and insightful writing about comics and still occasionally dips his toe into journalism. Besides working for NoBrow, sometimes writing about comics, and spending his remaining free time murdering horny teens who are foolish enough to try to have sex at his haunted camp, he gets to put-up with my responding to his press releases about the latest books from NoBrow. When he sent an email with NoBrow's catalog I actually noticed a book that apparently has been out for a bit but which I didn't see before. Titled, "Mean Girls Club," it is part of the 17X23 line of comics at NoBrow that are, "Designed to help talented young graphic novelists tell their stories in a manageable and economic format." I'm just happy to have read it as this is one zany, violent, and fun book!

The Mean Girls Club is a group made-up of Pinky, Sweets, Blackie, McQualude, Wendy, and Wanda. The book doesn't give us much motivation for their being mean girls and it doesn't need to. We witness the 113th meeting of the club being called to order and proceed to witness what the club gets up to--namely sheer and utter mayhem. Doing drugs, stealing cars, murdering and kidnapping, these women are some bad dames you don't want to cross paths with. Creator Ryan Heshka gives everything an art-style like a 1950's romance comic, even having an interlude in the comic near the end with paper-dolls readers can cut-out and play with. Despite the homage to those comics there ain't any romance in this book! 
The Mean Girls club is a brisk 24-page read that has gorgeous artwork and uses its mixture of black, white, and pink, coloring to create stark visuals. There is a hint at the end that maybe at least one Mean Girl has a soft side, but otherwise the comic contains a whole lot of trouble-making and bad behavior. The weird disconnect between the seemingly-sweet nostalgic visuals and style meshed with extreme violence and a general disregard for human decency gives us a comic that is a hoot to read and which I hope Heshka expands into a full-length graphic novel (which he indicated he plans to do in a blog post earlier this year). I would rate, "Mean Girls Club," as being a stellar 5 out of 5 stars and should you want to get a copy for yourself Amazon is always a great site to use.

Note: I contacted Tucker Stone/NoBrow Press and requested a copy of, "Mean Girls Club," for the purposes of review, which they supplied.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Jack Kirby Would Have Been 100 Today

If you have ever enjoyed a super-hero comic there are certain creators you owe thanks to--the earliest innovators, writers, artists, etc. One person who still can't be thanked enough is Jack Kirby. Many people of course know about Stan Lee because he is still alive and without a doubt possibly the most charismatic showman to ever grace this planet. Lee was the writer and editor however, and Kirby was the guy who took much of what Lee and he discussed and put the pencil to paper in order to give us amazing comics. Kirby clearly had mixed feelings about his time in the comic-book industry and to this day you'll find comic-book fans arguing over whether Stan Lee deserves most of the credit, Jack Kirby did all the hard work with their famous creations, or if the truth lies somewhere in-between. I will say without question anyone who is a fan of the comic art-form owes Kirby a debt a of gratitude, and on what would have been his 100th birthday I hope those who knew him as well as all of us who did not take at least a good long moment to celebrate his contributions.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Horrifyingly Fun AKA "The Howling: Revenge of the Werewolf Queen," #1 and #2 Review

A bit ago I gave Space Goat Publishing props for their Retailer Advisory Board and promised myself I would read more of their books. I was able to acquire digital review copies of the first two issues of their new, "The Howling: Revenge of the Werewolf Queen," comic and am pleased I proclaimed I would read more of their books as this is a rollicking good comic so far!

This series is based upon the first, "The Howling," movie (directed by the talented Joe Dante) from 1981 and serves as a sequel of sorts that directly follows-up the first movie in a way a lot better than the film-sequel. I think I saw the first, "The Howling," movie but enough background information is provided in the first issue as a recap that folk coming in cold should be fine. For those wondering why I say how I can't recall for sure if I saw the first, "The Howling," back High School I would rent a ton of movies from Hollywood Video and saw so many horror movies--both good and bad--that sometimes I struggle to recall what exactly I can or can't remember well. That said, reading the description of, "The Howling," sounded familiar to me and I also vaguely recall how other than the first movie and a quirky third film in the series, the rest is pretty much garbage and therefore this comic is well-served by only following-up on the plot of the first movie and disregarding later stuff.
Written by Micky Neilson and illustrated by Jason Johnson this comic starts right after the conclusion of the first film when a reporter named Karen White tried to expose who werewolves were real to the world by turning into one on television...before being shot by co-worker Chris Halloran with a silver bullet (he regrets it but has his reasons). After being shot Karen's body reverted to normal and he'd be in big legal trouble if it weren't the fact other's witnessed what happened in the studio and on television (although most T.V. viewers have written the whole things off as a hoax). The weird thing is all the witnesses are disappearing or dying-off at an alarming rate. Oh, and meanwhile, a werewolf named Marsha Quist AKA "The Werewolf Queen," escaped when a werewolf colony she lived at was attacked by the aforementioned Karen and friends. She's now cutting a bloody swath through L.A. in pursuit of a mysterious artifact and it is clear her and Chris' paths will soon cross.

Many people will tell you (myself included) that horror comics can be hard to do well. With the proper writing and artwork they can be intense and suspenseful pieces of entertainment, but mess-up on element and the whole book falls apart. Thankfully Neilson and Johnson make a stellar team and provide us readers with solid plotting and suitably scary (plus gory) artwork. Thanks to a stellar creative team giving us an awesome sequel to a fun movie, Space Goat Publishing has one great series they are putting-out and I look forward to reading more! Now I just need to re-rent, "The Howling,' flick so I can refresh my memory a bit more about it! I enthusiastically rate these books each as 5 out of 5 stars. Should you want a copy of either issue that has come out you can buy them at Things From Another World or My Comic Shop.

Note: A digital copy of each comic was provided for the purpose of review upon my request to the publisher to receive review copies of books.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Taylor Swift is Acting Like What She Once Railed Against: Being a Bully

America, we need to talk about Taylor Swift. She used to be an adorable, "Aw shucks," country singer who we were so impressed with for being a young teenager who could string together some guitar chords while bemoaning all the men she hated, but as time has gone on the shtick has gotten old and her love of choosing to play the poor picked-upon innocent has resulted in her acting like the kind of people she claims she hates--bullies. This playing-up of constant victimhood has turned into a big act and her latest song, "Look What you Made Me Do," doesn't just sound like lukewarm pop but also is arguably meant to be another, "Game," for fans to parse-out the secret meanings of which aggressors she is now admirably rebelling against because, "I'm the one being hurt here, you guys!"

The people she is calling-out but not actually naming? Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. I guess Taylor still hasn't got over how bad it burned when Kim leaked that video where Swift actually said she liked Kanye's lyrics joking about her despite previously claiming she was, "Like, so enraged you guys!" Seriously though the one useful thing Kim Kardashian has ever done for the public is releasing that tape where, Swift outright says, "I really appreciate it," to Kanye about his lyrics discussing her and proves herself to be a big liar. I haven't eve yet discussed how Swift is seemingly purposely releasing her new album on the 10th anniversary of the death of Kanye West's mother, Donda West (It will have been a decade since her passing on November 10th, 2017). Kanye has never been shy about expressing just how much his mother meant to him when she was alive and how her death impacted him. Swift basically sees this vulnerability and is choosing to exploit it, rubbing salt deep in Kanye's wound.
Donda West and Kanye West
One could claim this is all some crazy coincidence but considering how, "Look What You Made Me Do," is basically a thinly-veiled tirade against West and Kardashian things ain't looking that innocent. It is ironic when someone likes to act like the one being victimized so much that they end-up turning into a big bully, terrorizing others with their threat to, "Cry wolf," about being picked upon. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Swift set herself ups as this sweet little white girl who was picked-on by the big mean black man and has been milking that outrage ever since. Yes, Kanye was a dick that night at the VMAs back in 2009 when her interrupted Swift's speech, but her harping on that and the faux-anger she tried to foster when he rapped about her has turned into Swift just being vindictive and the chosen album release-date just feels like kicking West on a day he's sure to be feeling down. Swift is acting like the bullies she claims to despise. The next time Swift wants to call-out a bully maybe she should just look in the mirror. You can buy her new single on Amazon as a digital track if you want, but I wouldn't.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Film Friday: So, I Actually Quite Liked, "Alien: Covenant," Despite All the Haters

It seems in 2017 the movie that has inspired the most varied reviews is, "Alien: Covenant." Whether its fans are encouraging people to watch it again now that it's on Blu-Ray in order to better absorb its message, or other people are saying it is the worst, "Alien," movie ever and the product of a senile Ridley Scott (the director), people had strong reactions to, "Alien: Covenant," and after watching it earlier this week I have come to the conclusion that is actually is pretty good--at least in my opinion.

I would say one reason I liked, "Covenant," is that it takes aspects from various movies in the series and meshes them together in a satisfying way. It follows-up on the philosophical aspects of, "Prometheus," which I still defend as underappreciated, has scenes where trooper-esque folk fight a bunch of aliens on an unfamiliar planet (so, "Aliens," being riffed on), and just when you think things are winding down the flick spends the last 20 minutes riffing on the original, "Alien," as a Xenmorph stalks the halls of a big spaceship. It is like Scott took pieces from his other films I enjoyed and decided to mesh them all together in a film that isn't as good as the first two, "Alien," flicks, but comes in a comfortable 3rd place ("Prometheus," and, "Alien 3," kind of tie for 4th and, "Resurrection," continues to be an embarrassing mess of a film with the movies where the Aliens and Predators fight not counting as part of the same continuity, in my mind).
Fassbender is amazing playing two roles.
I won't say, "Covenant," is perfect. It takes it a little while to really get going, certain actions taken by characters don't make much sense after later plot-elements are revealed, and besides Michael Fassbender as two different Androids/"Synthetics," none of the cast really stands-out as interesting characters, but there is plenty of good stuff too that makes me really like this movie. There's heaping doses of philosophy, gruesome alien-gore, amazing and lush imagery, and the aforementioned Fassbender just kills it as the friendly Android/"Synthetic," Walter and dangerously-unstable David (last seen in, "Prometheus," and just as deliriously evil as ever), making two robots arguably the characters with the most personality in this movie!

From my discussion of what I liked and what annoyed me, "Alien Covenant," is clearly not without flaws, but I think it is a good movie and seeing how some people hate it with a burning passion just kind of befuddles me. I read the comments by everyone who liked the movie and nod my in agreement, but then read the thoughts of those who despised it and find myself confused by how the things they scorn tend to be what I found cool. It is normal for everyone to have different tastes and for every person who has a favorite movie that movie is most likely someone's most-hated film, but it just startles me how much of a divide there is between everyone in regards to, "Alien: Covenant." Regardless of all the mixed feelings I thought it was a damn fine movie and a solid addition to the "Alien," legacy. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. Should you want to buy a copy for yourself you can always use Amazon.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Sexy, Scary, and Fun! AKA "My Pretty Vampire," Review

When someone does a story about vampirism there are a variety of angles they can approach it from. Do you focus on the violent aspects of a creature that literally drains blood? Do you play-up the sexy aspects of the vampire as a sort of predator who thirsts for actual flesh? I think the best stories incorporate a variety of concepts with vampires and Katie Skelly's, "My Pretty Vampire," is a prime example of that.

From its lighthearted title and arousing cover you can already tell this is a book that doesn't take itself too seriously and is loaded with sexy imagery. Skelly's protagonist, named Clover, never actually has sex with anyone during the book, but the way she preys on men and women to fulfill her bloodthirsty urges is shown in a very sexual manner. The story starts with Clover stuck in a huge mansion with her brother named Marcel and a tutor named Elsa, sick of drinking ox blood and wasting away her nights cooped-up. Early on she escapes despite Marcel's protestations that she could be hunted and killed and once in the city is overwhelmed (and overjoyed) at all the fresh blood just waiting for her. Through reading, "My Pretty Vampire," it feels like Skelly is possibly presenting a tongue-in-cheek portrayal of female sexuality.
Clover is a young woman with urges who society wishes to punish for said urges. Clover is of course actually murdering people but there is a metaphor for how female sexuality is often treated as something to be ashamed of and never discuss--an urge which people claim would be destructive to act upon. Skelly basically is saying, "Oh, you think a young woman acting on her sexual urges is bad? Well, let me show you something actually terrible!" and giving us a violent-yet-fun read. I could be interpreting Skelly's intent completely incorrectly, but I think most would draw the same conclusions as me considering how historically vampires and sex have often had intertwined symbolism.

Skelly's fantastic art-style takes what reads like a horror concept and which does have plenty of gruesome elements, but thanks to her way of drawing makes even the darkest elements seem lighthearted and fun. The resulting story is almost like if you started-out with a standard violent vampire story featuring some of the aforementioned erotic metaphors, but then injected it with peppy art, played-up the sexy aspects, and made something just plain fun!
Were I to have any criticisms of, "My Pretty Vampire," it would be that the story seems to muddy itself a little with the introduction of an occult subplot/backstory that works to elaborate on how Clover became a vampire (basically Marcel didn't want her to die so he made a questionable deal) and the ending feels a little rushed, with a sudden climax and speedy denouement giving me a little narrative whiplash after the story's steady building of tension. Those quibbles aside I loved this book!

"My Pretty Vampire," is a lighthearted and erotic horror comic that pulls off the difficult task of being both impressively violent and good sexy fun. That is works so well is a testament to Skelly's skills as a creator. I've been a fan of Katie Skelly since I first read a comic by her in the, "Thickness," anthology and here she continues to show-off her writing and artistic chops. Should you want to buy a copy of, "My Pretty Vampire," for yourself you can do so via Things from Another World or of course Amazon. I would recommend you do so as I rate this comic as 4.5 out of 5 stars!

Note: A digital copy of, "My Pretty Vampire," was provided for the purpose of review upon my sending a request to the publisher, Fantagraphics, requesting a copy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Tales From the Dollar Bin: Marvel Boy #3

There are comics which are worth incredible sums of money, but so many of the most interesting, tragic, or just downright weird can be found for a simple dollar or less in a store's "dollar bin". There, comics that never gained much popularity can be found alongside those that sold so much as for a copy to be worthless. "Tales From the Dollar Bin" aims to explore these comics, be they a single issue or an entire run of a series. From the great to the miserable, some of the best treasures and worst nightmares can be found in those infamous boxes. Let's have a "tale" now...
Not Long-Lived, But it Was a Magical Time
There was a relatively brief time Grant Morrison did some work for Marvel. It was short but wonderful, with his, "New X-Men," being a tour de force and in my opinion the best X-Men comics ever (which people take umbrage with when I state, but oh well). Morrison's X-Men was stellar and still has a lot of popularity to this day, with many folk remembering it fondly. Morrison actually did other things for Marvel too, however, creating a character who has been through quite the creative-wringer since his introduction by Morrison, Marvel Boy. It wasn't exactly a hit seeing as how I was able to find one of my favorite issues from the mini--the third--in the dollar bin.

Weird, Yet Good.
Grant Morrison's, "Marvel Boy," at first wasn't clearly taking place in the Marvel Universe--at least not the main, "616," one we all know. Some people said it was clearly hinting at being in the Ultimate Universe or its own place. Later on he was tied into the main MU, but we'll discuss that toward this piece's end. Anyways, the book was taking place in a world that was Marvel-influenced and featured a young man named Noh-Varr who was a Kree alien that had DNA meshed with that of cockroach and traveled through various dimensions with a science-team. At the start of the first issue they end up on Earth and almost everybody dies.

From this point Marvel Boy tries to find a way home whilst battling an assortment of odd folk. The third issue involves him fighting what was kind of like DC's anti-life equation when a sentient corporate virus known as Hexus begins trying to take over Earth through marketing and branding. It is a fun joke about capitalism and between lots of explosions Noh-Varr manages to defeat it the only way possible--he sends the details of its marketing strategies and secrets to all the other big competitors.
It is funny and the rest of the six-issue mini-series was great too. Then Noh-Varr was basically forgotten about before--deep breath--randomly popping-up in an, "Illuminati," mini-series, fighting the Young Avengers and Runaways during, "Civil War," kicking-around a bit during, "Secret Invasion," randomly joining the Dark Avengers under Norman Osborn, joining the normal Avengers with the new name of, "Protector," and having all of those comics not really do a good job portraying him at all. Thankfully, after all that he popped-up in, "Young Avengers," simply stating he felt he wasn't a good fit for the regular Avengers and that his weird name was a phase (so we could all forget about it). Now he's hanging-out with the Inhumans for some random reason and I'm not reading about him currently because, I mean, it's the Inhumans. Some of the characters he fought appeared in other books too, like Dr. Midas and the Exterminatirx/Oubliette being in that Marvel event everyone just kind-of forgot about, "Original Sin."

I quite liked Morrison's introduction of Marvel Boy, and loved how he was portrayed in, "Young Avengers," but most other appearances have been forgettable-to-bad. You can get the original series in trade paperback form at Things From Another World or if you want just individual issues eBay of course works great too. It shouldn't be too hard to get some issues of the book because while it was quirky and enjoyable, since that first appearance most writers (besides Kireon Gillen with, "Young Avengers,") have struggled to know what to do with the character. Therefore, Noh-Varrr is someone with a lot of potential that sadly has rarely been reached. So it goes when we share a...tale from the dollar bin!

Monday, August 21, 2017

I Saw a Total Solar Eclipse Today!

Our family!
As I live right outside of Saint Louis and it was on the edge of the path of, "Totality," I had the immense pleasure of witnessing a total solar eclipse today! For early two minutes the sky got significantly darker, the temperature dropped, and it was a very strange and fascinating experience. I feel very lucky I got to witness my first-ever solar eclipse and hope everyone else who saw it partially or totally had a great time too--and was safe (I don't want to see a ton of news reports about people suffering eye-damage from staring at the sun, but know there will sadly be plenty)! It is funny to think I had to wait until I was 29 to see a solar eclipse in-person but my son, Clarkson, got to witness it before he even turns a year old! Then again he probably won't remember it too well, so I'm cool with being older.

Smart Journalism is for Suckers AKA Loser City Made Me Aware Today How Far CBR Has Fallen

This is real.
Look, all websites/blogs/tumblrs/whatever have their ups and downs. Heck, even I have had periods of time where I feel like I'm making great article after great article a s well as other weeks where I struggle to find the motivation to even think up a snarky headline about the latest stupid stunt by a publisher. Therefore, I can't  be too hard on some comic websites even if, say, Bleeding Cool is becoming a nearly impossible-to-navigate mess of advertisements hiding some decent articles (it still is one of the sites I check daily even if it is a pain, after all). That said, I quit going to Comic Book Resources AKA CBR awhile ago when it turned more into a list-article/listicles website than something that actually is a, "Resource," for comic-readers. That said, I didn't know how low it had sunken until I saw another culture-site I enjoy, Loser City, did a piece mocking CBR.

Apparently, "Down to Hulk: 15 Hulks You Want to Smash," is an actual article from CBR. Loser City makes sure to mention that not a single male Hulk is discussed, because apparently only 100% heterosexual men read these puff-piece articles, nevermind that women who are attracted to men or same gender loving men might enjoy an article that humorously points out how Bruce Banner is, "Someone you wouldn't like when he's angry, but might love when he's horny!" or some other moronic joke like that which I literally just made-up on the spot--which I think makes me more qualified to write for CBR than anybody else at that joke of a website. I mean seriously, who still says, "Smash," to refer to sex anymore too? That pun would have been weak even when the term was popular and used on programs like, "For the Love of Ray J."
She sure did, Ray J, she sure did.
The next time I ever doubt my only journalistic abilities I will remember that in August of 2017 a website that once was at least moderately useful for keeping track of comic book news completed sinking to the lowest common denominator with an article about which female hulks are the most fuckable. It doesn't even redeem itself by being tongue-in-cheek, titillating, or anything beyond shockingly stupid. I'm not opposed to sexy imagery or erotic storytelling in the least, but when your idea of a smart article is which hulk you want to penetrate that's just depressing. I personally want to thank Loser City for reading CBR so that the rest of us don't have to. I really hope you guys and gals can maintain your sanity.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

An Email Helped Me Realize Just How Little I Care About the Inhumans

I know it is currently in vogue to hate-on the dreadful-looking, "Inhumans," television show being done by Marvel, what with how the director of the show admitted he was hired to make something, "Fast and Cheap," or that even panels to promote the show are train-wrecks. That said, it really does look awful. I didn't realize how little interest I had until today however.

Today I was looking through my emails and got a message from Marcus Wehrenberg Theatres, which used to just be Wehrenberg until they were bought-out by the Marcus chain. As I had Wehrenberg rewards it was easy to switch to the new reward system so that I can earn points when I go to the theater and buy snacks. I also get emails about various other fun ways to earn points, which leads to my telling you how I got a message which informed me I could earn ten points simply by watching a trailer for the show. Observe:
I blurred-out my member ID cuz that ain't none of your business.
It was at this moment I realized I care so little about an, "Inhumans," television show I won't willingly watch a trailer for it even if it earns me a reward. To put this in perspective, I spent a chunk of a hour looking for the, "Avengers: Infinity War," trailer that was exclusively shown at D23 as well as CCI/SDCC and can be a pain to find a leak of. Meanwhile even if a theater-chain offers me  a smattering of points towards movie tickets and snacks if I just click on a link and let a trailer play on my phone--which I know I don't even have to pay much of any attention to while it runs--I just simply refuse to take part in even feigning interest.

I don't hold any anger or ill-will toward the, "Inhumans," television show which makes me want to go out of my way to insult it, I am just so incredibly indifferent it is hard to summon the energy to press my finger on an email-link to the trailer. When I can't even click a link related to this show knowing I'll get a reward if I do so, that my friends is a pretty bad omen for any future, "Inhumans," success. If anyone wants to make me a bet that this will last more than a single season I'll gladly take you up on it. If I'm wrong I'll buy the one good Inhumans story I ever read for you, and if I'm right you can buy me a reasonably-priced trade paperback of my choosing that I'll guarantee you will have nothing to do with the Inhumans.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Mid-August 2017 Links For The Pleasure of Your Eyeballs

Middle of the Month Linkage
It is around the mid-point of August so I thought I would share the assorted links of note I have been lucky enough to find or come across and found interesting/worth telling all ya'll about.

Commence the Links!

Let's start with something that isn't a huge deal in the general scheme of things but made me depressed--The Great Movie Ride has shut-down. Besides the already-gone ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, and Hollywood Tower of Terror that was one of my favorite rides.

Kotaku had a fascinating piece where the author--inspired by the awful events in Charlottesville--asked her Father about what it was like living in Selma back in the 1960's.

Also from Kotaku but far less serious a subject is how, "Heavy Rain," admittedly ended badly. It was a pretty weak conclusion.

I've talked about the, "Dead of Winter," comic based on the tabletop game and this piece by, "Paste," discusses the interesting challenges once can observe when a game of that sort is adapted for comics.

A great artist (Jacen Burrows) and a sometimes-good writer (Max Bemis) are taking-over on Moon Knight's latest comic-relaunch. I really hope it is good.

I've linked to it previously, but this piece about, "How America Lost its Mind," from, "The Atlantic," is really good.

This massive article on the small number of independent video-game stores still in existence is fascinating, and mentions a shop near me in Fenton, Missouri!

Before I forget to mention it, I just wanted to remind everyone that, "Plastic," is a great comic and if they've missed the issues currently coming out it will before too long be available in trade.
John Ridley is a great filmmaker and stellar writer of comics. This interview with him about his latest, "The American Way," mini-series is a good read.

If we're being honest, "South Park," isn't really counter-culture anymore or especially satirical . It still is often plenty funny, but we should be real.

Steve Bannon is a terrible human being, but even with him gone from the White House Staff that isn't going to change how President (for now) Trump is abominable.

I used to Play, "Sims," games religiously and bought all the expansion packs, but now with the constant micro-expansions and such it amazes me more people aren't burned-out yet. I tried the 4th one and it was fun, but I ain't gonna pay a bunch for random, "Stuff," packs.
Multi-Level Marketing AKA Pyramid Schemes are just bad, okay?

Robert Pattinson has really shown he actually has skill since the horrible, "Twilight," films, as this AV Club Film Club video discusses. Between he, Kristen Stewart, and smaller-role Anna Kendrick that awful series brought us some good talents. Video:

Also from the AV Club is when it shared its top comics of 2017 (so far) a bit ago. There are some good books on there!

Let's close on a safety-note. This Monday a good chunk of America will experience a total Solar Eclipse. There are many things to keep in mind to protect your eyes and the rest of your body if you're traveling. Stay safe!

Enjoy the Rest of August!
I hope all my readers have a great rest of the month and that their August leads into an equally good or even better September.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Good and Dumb Fun: "Justice League VS. Suicide Squad," Collection

Absurd, Over-The-Top, and Admittedly Entertaining
"Justice League VS. Suicide Squad," starts out pretty bombastic and just gets crazier and crazier with a myriad of plot elements and characters until we reach the point mid-way through the book where a bunch of stuff comes together to give us:

1. The Villainous Maxwell Lord (capable of minor mind-control)
2. Using the First-ever Suicide Squad
3. To fight against the Justice League and Current Suicide Squad
4. Who were kind of fighting each other
5. So that he can gain the powers of Eclipso
6. In order to gain mental control over the Justice League with his boosted powers, and...
7. Take over America and make it, "Safe," in his opinion, although Eclipso starts driving him mad.

Yes, this is a big book that includes a number of tie-in issues and even with all of that things seem to move at a pretty quick pace. It goes without saying that Lord's plan falls apart and Batman recruits a variety of people to make his new Justice League that currently is coming-out from DC. It is a really silly book full of lots of squabbles and action, a plot that just kinda makes sense if you let a lot of thing slide (especially with a big reveal at the end that places a lot of blame on Amanda Waller, because of course she's up to no good).
Lots of crowded scenes happen.
From that above summary of a variety of things that occur and all the characters you probably can imagine a lot of things are, "In motion," at a time as it were, and the pages do indeed get pretty busy. When you've got the Justice League, the Suicide Squad, an old Suicide Squad, and some other random folk all just duking it out things get hectic. The various writers and author of the main, "Event-comic," Joshua Williamson make it all work pretty well however. The art is a bit less impressive as it can really vary in quality, with the main book having a rotating cast of artists that make it hard to pin-down any kind of particular style for the series as the art keeps a-changing.

This book really is just some good dumb fun, with solid writing and passable art. I think it was the first big event to take place post-Rebirth and I liked reading it. "Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad," is nothing amazing but it is kind of like a popcorn blockbuster--silly, action-packed, and relatively forgettable.
3 out of 5 stars.
"Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad," can be bought on Amazon, at Things From Another World, via Mycomicshop, or from any other fine retailer.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

I Tried Parker's Water Ice and it Was Delicious!

They do soft-serve as well!
A couple weekends ago, Clarkson and I headed-over to the nearby Chesterfield Mall whilst my wife and her sister took my Mother-in-law to the movie, "Girls Trip," as a birthday present (they said it was really good and recommend folk see it). Whilst we were at the mall a vendor had popped-up in the main atrium (as often happens at this mall, but usually it is a jewelry event or something) who was selling a treat called, "Water Ice." I specifically tried the brand called, "Parker's Water Ice," and found it quite tasty! They were out of cherry or strawberry when I saw them a bit later in the day but I got grape and found it delicious! Water Ice is kind of like if a slushie had a baby with an ice cream or sorbet. It is free of dairy but has an intriguing thickness to it before melting in your mouth with its delightful fruit flavor.

I was very impressed by Water Ice and think I want to get myself some more. The company, "Parker's Water Ice," originates in Memphis, Tennessee but has an individual contractor named, "Angel Eaton," who operates out here in the Saint Louis region. I thank Parker's Water Ice for introducing me to this tasty treat and look forward to having it again!

Journalistic Integrity Note: Parker's Water Ice did not give me any money to write this or is even aware of who I am; I will be informing them I made this article once it is posted but that's it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Rant-Reviews: A Smorgasbord of First (and one Zero) Issues!

You Know The Routine By Now...
Seriously, you know how this goes at this point. I do all kinds of capsule/rant-reviews but keep going back to that well of discussing debut issues of titles because while many comics may not even get to a tenth issue, they all have a first (or a zero issue, which is the case with one book I'm going to discuss). I've got a veritable ton of first/zero issues I've been able to sample lately so it is time to dive-in...

Many New Books
Redlands #1
I talked about how this title was getting very hot in The Hot Comics Revue and it is nice to see when a book is both popular and very, very good. Written and colored by Jordie Bellaire (whom I've recognized as a stellar colorist before but haven't seen as a writer previously) with art by Vanessa Del Rey, this is a first issue that is clearly setting-up a lot without revealing too much at the same time. We see how it is about a corrupt town being overtaken by supernatural forces that also have a moral agenda of giving power to the disenfranchised--so horror with a social message, which is my favorite kind of horror. It's grim, violent, and I really enjoyed reading it. Redlands will have a second printing soon but until then your best bet for getting a copy is eBay or MyComicShop.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Mister Miracle #1
Another title featured in my first Hot Comics Revue, this book is written by the talented Tom King with Mitch Gerards providing the artwork. People are absolutely fawning over this book and I thought it was pretty good but don't quite see why people are going crazy about it. It's weird and off-kilter, has a real ominous feel, and Gerards artwork is amazing, but I don't really feel myself hooked-in yet. I'm willing to be patient however because while, "The Vision," grabbed me right away King's, "Omega Men," took a bit to really get going, but once it did that was a stellar book. As this puppy is so hot until there is a new printing you're going to need to do eBay or MyComicShop to get any copies, or find a shop that inexplicably isn't sold out.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Galaktikon #1
I am a fan of Brendon Small's work from Adult Swim's shows, "Home Movies, " and, "Metalocalypse," so when I heard he had a comic coming out I was excited to read it! I then learned the comic is actually an adaptation of sorts of a music album which has a sequel album coming-out soon as well--so that's interesting! Having read this first issue I now am actually a bit interested in checking-out the music as this was a oddly enjoyable title. Equal parts funny and depressing, watching a once-beloved hero of space deal with the difficulties of life via a ton of alcohol is sad, but the book's dark sense of humor carries it through pretty nicely. I liked it a lot and look forward to the next issue as well as giving Small's album a listen whilst I wait in the meantime. You can currently grab copies of the first issue of, "Galaktikon," on eBay or at MyComicShop.
4 out of 5 stars.

Danger Doll Squad #0
I've read the, "Dollface," comic before and this title brings her, the cult-hit Zombie Tramp, and another solo-character known as Vampblade together to form a team/squad. As is the trend with any comics featuring these characters there is a lot of humor, a lot of violence, and a whole lot of variant covers (with some featuring plenty of nudity). I was honestly a little disappointed in this zero issue as it does introduce us to all the characters and makes us aware of who they are, but does little else. After one big prologue we basically jump right into the action briefly before being told to pick-up the official #1 issue in October as well as future issues of, "Vampblade," for more set-up. It's a decent primer on all the characters, but that's about it. You can still find some of the zero-issue covers at Things From Another World and eBay is of course a great resource as well should you want to grab all the assorted covers!
2.5 out of 5 stars.

Ghost Money #1
I've enjoyed speaking with publisher Lion Forge before and they always put out an interesting assortment of books. This new series continues that trend with a yarn about terrorism, money, and politics. Starting in the past before moving about ten-ish years into a potential future, the book imagines a world full of hateful Neo-Cons, rampant Global Warming, and abject basically what the world is like now but with slightly more advanced cars and even more drones clogging-up the sky. It's a dark and ominous book, and I quite liked it although the first issue just seems to kind of suddenly-stop as opposed to ending on a solid cliff-hanger or making it clear what the next issue might hold. It's a solid read though and as the story is further fleshed-out I bet things will only get more fascinating and depressing. You can find the first issue of, "Ghost Money," on eBay or at MyComicShop.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Dead of Winter #1
The third book in this review-segment which also was mentioned in The Hot Comics Revue with this discussed as a title that might get pretty steamy/popular if fans of the game are into it. Based on the tabletop game of the same name, the first issue of, "Dead of Winter," is a fine read. For a comic set in a winter-filled zombie apocalypse there is actually a good deal of humor, but I found most of the characters were pretty paper-thin in terms of personality outside of the start of the comic, a dog named Sparky. It feels like he get the most character development of anyone and he can't even talk! I still enjoyed reading the comic however and imagine if I were well-versed in the game I might have gotten a bunch of references and enjoyed it even more. You can still buy copies at Things From Another World as of this posting should you desire!
3 out of 5 stars.

Tales of Science Fiction: Vault #1
Published by a comic-company--Storm King--that seems to release titles related-to or supervised by John Carpenter, their latest mini-series, "Vault," is a horror-influenced sci-fi tale with a first issue that frankly is a bit of a mess. The back of the comic explains the plot more clearly than the inside of the comic as the plot jumps all around in time, too many characters pop-up only to be easily confused with other characters in bland space-suits, and random stuff about space-fungus or monsters occurs...or something? It's really quite bad besides some decent artwork and I can't exactly recommend it, but should you want a copy MyComicShop or eBay are as always good places to buy from.
1 out of 5 stars.

Grumpy Cat/Garfield #1
I of course have a soft-spot for Grumpy Cat ever since it was the first book to, "Blurb," me on the back-cover as a reviewer. I also enjoyed reading old Garfield newspaper comic-strips when growing-up and have at times perused his comic-book. Considering how both cats are full of attitude, it makes sense for them to meet--and why not have them meet in a format they both excel in, comics? It is a little disappointing that our two stars don't meet until the end of the first issue (so the second issue will be fun for sure), but plenty of plot and funny jokes occur in this issue to make it well worth picking-up. Basically an evil CEO has a way to make cats behave more like dogs and needs some of the most difficult cats in the World to test his program before he sells it to the general populace in the hopes of making major moolah. Therefore, we witness in this issue Garfield and Grumpy being stolen through some clever methods. It's great silly fun and I would recommend it if you want to have a good laugh! Copies of one cover can still be bought at Things From Another World and eBay is a great site if you're after the assortment of variants.
5 out of 5 stars.

I Need a Break!
After reviewing eight new books I need to sit-down and take a breather. I hope you enjoyed reading my meandering thoughts on these assorted new comics and were inspired to check at least one or two of them out (or now know what to avoid if it isn't for you). I'd get up and shake your hand to thank-you for reading all this, but I'm a little winded so, let's just nod and I'll lie down here for a moment till the hurting stops.

"Dark Fang," Sounds Like a Fascinating New Comic

I generally try not to just copy and post P.R. releases from various publishers as posts, because plenty
of other websites I enjoy reading do that and if you're coming to my site you usually are well-versed in comic news or don't care about it and read my page instead because you want to read my scattered thoughts on the rest of the wild world of popular-culture. That said, a newly-announced comic from Image caught my attention enough that I wanted to share with everyone else how it sounds neat. The book is, "Dark Fang."

Written by Miles Gunter and illustrated by Kelsey Shannon, "Dark Fang," is an action-horror book about a woman named Valla who is a vampire and has lived peacefully at the bottom of the ocean, presumably subsisting on the creatures down there. Suddenly her whole home finds itself dying and she ascends where, "Searching for answers on the surface, Valla finds a world headed toward an environmental collapse that will ultimately wipe out her food supply. Now, to stay fed, she must take on the juggernaut that is the global fossil fuel industry." Yes, this is a comic about an environmental activist vampire. How weirdly awesome does that sound?

I know it won't appeal to everyone, but I personally would get a kick watching Valla lecture an oil baron about how what he does is hurting our planet and when he tells her to buzz-off she takes a big chomp out of him, it would be weird, funny, and cathartic considering just how doomed our planet currently looks in terms of how those in power are handling the environment. There isn't currently any preview art available and the book isn't due to be released until November, but I know I'm already excited to see what this story holds!

Monday, August 14, 2017

The STL Comics Summer 1 Day Show Was Fantastic!

A Stellar Time Was Had!
The raffle table during a brief pre-show moment of quiet
As earlier discussed in a previous post, I was pumped to attend the Summer 1 Day Comic Show and this past Sunday I did just that. I arrived shortly before the show-floor opened to the public and was able to snap some pics of the quiet before a sizable crowd made its way in. At 10AM sharp everyone was allowed to enter and upon paying an extremely fair $5.00 entry fee (free for kids 10 and under) the floor was open to all! Upon my entering the show-floor one thing struck me about this comic-show which I never realized could be so noticeable--there were a lot of comics. I know, it sounds funny to remark a comic-show had a lot of comics, but how often do you go to supposed comic-cons and find they are stocked with random celebrities or folk trying to sell you insurance? It was just striking to walk into a comic show and find it was full of actual comics, and that made happy!

Don't get me wrong, I am a fan of shows that are focused more generally on popular-culture or meld some pop-culture stuff with comics, but I also think it can be refreshing to go to a show that is almost entirely-focused on comics or if there are vendors who don't have comics, they have fun comic-related stuff. For example, I got to meet Lisa Pavia-Higel who is behind, "Geekery Gal," which she describes as, "jewelry and sass for geeks, chicks, and advocates. She had an assortment of awesome wearable objects that related to a variety of nerdy-subjects and I was impressed to hear that 10% of all profits go to charity! Also, I saw my chums from Aging Monster Press, met local author and comic-maker Brian Morris and chatted with illustrator John Lucas about a book he illustrated, "Shrinkage."
A cool old underground book I picked-up at the show!
Besides comic-makers the show was chock-full of vendors as well. There were people selling expensive books like first appearances of Deadpool, other recent hits, old Golden Age stuff, and plenty of dollar bins, which are of course one of my favorite things to root through for goodies. I chatted with folk like the, "Middle School Geek," Tom Barker who is in the process of setting-up a website for his comic-business but currently can be reached via email--and who had a lot of great books. There were some vendors with cool old underground comix as well and of course people with Funko Pops and old horror comics as well as horror flicks (if I had brought more money I would have picked-up a cool old VHS copy of, "Night of the Living Dead," but alas I gotta strictly budget my funds).

I had a great time at The STL Comics Summer 1 Day Show and for sure am going to attend the recently announced Winter Show happening March 4th in 2018. It feels like it is a good deal of time away right now, but I'm sure that date will sneak-up on me and I'll be enjoying another comic-focused show in no time!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Some Thoughts on Digitalization, Sexualization, and the Subjective Treatment Lately of Reality

Seeking Primarily Two Things Online...
I (obviously) like to write about popular culture and the trends I see in it. Well, more and more I see the fact that the internet connects us with much of the wider-world making our own personal worlds that much smaller. To clarify: In our ability to reach-out to anyone with an internet connection and learn about different views, exotic places, see new stuff, etc. we have purposely sought out basically only two things--other people who share our exact same views and sex-related content AKA porn.

We are now capable of talking to someone literally half a world away and discussing interesting subjects, but we use the internet to find people who share our precise views and/or will get naked on camera for us. As a book I read long ago once stated in a different context, (it was about genetics), but has a title which works perfectly, "The Future is Now." I would amend that however to state, "The Future is Now About Making Reality Fit Our Views and Getting Off."

A Comic and a Song
It's not a subtle comic, but its fun.
I started having these thoughts when ingesting assorted pieces of culture. For example, I was reading a comic--because this is of course a blog often about comics--which I mentioned when discussing 2016 in review. The comic was the zero issue of, "Lookers," a revamped concept from an old Avatar Press series now published under their, "Boundless," imprint.

"Lookers," is a comic full of sex as it is about cam-girls who take advantage of horny men on the internet who they learn are also social-media trolls so that they can track them down in order to beat them up and embarrass them in order to stop their picking-on other people.  It is a concept both clever and totally stupid at the same time. The first page (which I've edited to make safe-for-work) however makes an extremely pointed statement about the well-known communications concept of the, "Male Gaze," however. Observe:
Edited to be safe for viewing in public!
If you didn't want to bother clicking the image, it states how, "The Male Gaze is a webcam," which is pointed in how true it is. We no longer have to wait for mass media and advertising to create products for the male gaze to observe and consume, we merely have to type the right phrases into our internet search and a few confirmations of being 18 or older and entering a credit card later we've got women (or men) modeling for us in whatever manner we like. The, "Lookers," zero issue is now getting a mini-series tying-in with another comic about a female superhero named Ember hounded by paparazzi so hopefully that will be insightful--the first issue comes out shortly and the 3rd can still be preordered on sites like Things From Another World.

Oh, and I know not all entertainment and porn is designed for the straight male, but plenty a study will show the majority of it is made that way, and with the ease and privacy of the internet we now can easily head wherever we want online to find any sexual desire or fantasy (within reason and legality) we like. Sex has become digitized, and another example of this is the stellar song, "Digital Girl," by Jamie Foxx and featuring The Dream and Kanye West.
"Digital Girl," has a remix too, but I prefer the original.
On the song, "Digital Girl," Jamie Foxx croons about how he feels like he loves a woman whom he has never seen in person, but only knows via his computer screen. The lyrics are worth dissecting for sure, as Foxx goes on and on about how much he adores this lady he's never even met and that someday he wants to get her, "Ass up in this kitchen," but you wonder if in some ways Foxx prefers keeping it all digital. Frankly, the only thing more masturbatory about the internet than how many of us use it for literal masturbation is that many folk use it to find others who blindly agree with their beliefs.

A Reality of Our Own Making

On the internet we love to point out when people are wrong. Arguably, the only thing we enjoy more than that is teaming-up with others who share our views to point-out together how others are wrong. This piece by The Atlantic titled, "How America Went Haywire," is required reading for anyone wondering what the Hell has happened to society lately. Basically, we all live in our own realities that defy actual facts and how by finding others who feel the same way (such as online) we can make our lives an echo-chamber of nonsense until we truly believe Hillary Clinton ran a child sex-ring out of a pizza restaurant or that vaccines somehow cause dogs.

When we only go to websites that repeat this kind of nonsense and refuse to interact with anyone who feels differently than us we start to buy into the bullshit lock-stock and barrel. After all, if all our sources say Sandy Hook was a false-flag operation to bolster gun control efforts of course it was, the only news-sites and people we believe declare it to be the God's honest truth! We have gotten to the point where thanks to the internet we can enter a reality of our own making, but not just in video-games, it now can be done with simply some web-browsing.

It'll All Be Okay Though! Right?
Tech overload?
This piece so far has been pretty depressing and negative, which isn't my entire intention. As someone who is sex-positive and not at all a prude I want folk to enjoy talking about and watching consensual sex-acts to their heart's content as well as having a great time finding other people who share their social and political views so that they can engage in a jovial exchange of shared opinions. I just find it worrisome at times that as our access to the world expands we seem to be shrinking our personal circle that much smaller to only things that turn us on or people who agree with us.

I guess all I'm saying is when you're done looking at porn on the internet maybe find some articles that challenge your belief-system, pieces that state facts that you may dislike but are just that, facts. Even if you don't like the truth that doesn't stop it from being reality, and if you expose yourself to enough actuality you may turn into/remain a well-reasoned and thoughtful human being. That, or you can be one of those people who insist the Earth is flat. Your call.