Monday, April 30, 2018

Nintendo Labo Actually Makes Me Kind of Want a Nintendo Switch

I've previously talked about how I just can't get that excited about the Nintendo Switch. Even now with it having some cool games and getting good reviews I found I lacked much interest. Then I heard about Nintendo Labo and thought, "If that actually works it could be pretty fun."

Nintendo Labo is an example of Nintendo doing what I like best--being unique. It is cardboard that you assemble around your Switch device or various controllers and it enables you to do all kinds of zany things from playing a piano, to doing a fishing game, making little bugs that shake, or creating your own strange and cool stuff. It isn't a game you win so much as a toy you play with. It's not about beating a high score or conquering opponents, it is about building a set that lets you become a cool robot for no other reason than it is fun!
Nintendo Labo is the just-right mixture of weird, creative, and fun that appeals to someone like myself. Now then, the only issue is that I'd have to shell-out the cash for a Nintendo Switch and all the somewhat-costly Labo, so for now I'll probably just watch videos of people enjoying it. Still, it is a cool-looking concept and I'm happy that reviews of Nintendo Labo indicate it is good fun for all ages.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Oh Cool, Marvel is Finally Collecting, "Soldier X," and the Earlier, "Cable," issues in a Big Trade!

A good long deal of time ago---2011--I made one of my big sprawling posts where I rambled on about a variety of subjects. In this case it was was the start of the New/Nu52, my love of Tupac's works, and the fascinating and underrated Marvel series, "Cable," in its later issues when it led into the equally stellar and less-known, "Soldier X." The last issues of that run of, "Cable," were #97-#107 and then things wrapped-up with, "Soldier X," over eight stellar issues...followed by three forgettable ones unrelated to the otherwise epic yarn told. Plus, "Soldier X," was never collected in a trade, which sucked. The end of, "Cable," and good chunk of, "Soldier X," were series as dark and disturbing as they were clever and hilarious. Now Marvel is finally collecting all this comic-goodness (and those pointless extra issues) in a big book cleverly titled, "Cable: Soldier X," as I discovered flipping through the latest May 2018 issue of, "Previews."

These books written by David Tischman and Igor Kordey (and illustrated by a number of talented people including Igor Kordey as writer too) are like hidden classics and you owe it to yourself to take advantage of an opportunity to read them without having to dig in back-issue bins or searching about on eBay. You can easily pre-order a copy via Things From Another World or at all finer comic shops. Trust me, don't, "sleep," on these books, as the kids (I think) say! God, I'm old.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Film Friday: I'll See Infinity War Soon, I Hope

The latest, "Avengers," film, "Infinity War," is officially out and I have not seen it yet. Life can just be absurdly busy and I feel like I need to re-watch some of the movies again as well as catch-up with the one or two I just happened to never get around to seeing. I will of course see, "Infinity War," soon, I hope, but am not going to overly stress about it or freak-out regarding spoilers as some folk do. I've heard mostly good things, so I'm optimistic it'll be a great time!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

"Robert and the Robots," Book Review

I'm a fan of the works of Saint Louis author Dan Killeen. I've bought a number of his books geared towards children as they are also entertaining for us grown-ups as well (I loved, "Derrick and the Dinosaurs," for example). Also, now that I have a son I'm always looking for stellar stories to read him. Therefore, when I recently saw Mr. Killeen at a the recent Wizard World show and learned he had just published his latest book, "Robert and the Robots," I was excited to purchase it. Having read the book myself and aloud to my son, I'm pleased to report it is delightful!

"Robert and the Robots," is on the surface a simple tale about little boy named Robert who loves robots and ends up causing trouble due to this affection for them, but it also has a good lesson we all admittedly could learn about over-reliance on technology. Basically, Robert uses his skill with robots to build ones that do work for him--taking care of dishes, walking the dog, handling math homework--and they work so well everyone else around asks him to build robots for them to use too. Before you can say, "This could end badly," Robert owns a huge factory churning out robots to take care of all our jobs so we can kick-back and relax. I imagine you see a bit of an allegory for our own love of machines theoretically making things easier and humanity's addiction to technology, yes? It isn't presented in a ham-fisted way, it just sort of happens that the robots end-up doing everything for us. The big issue arises when the robots declare that if they're doing all the work, they deserve all the credit, and rebel against us humans.
A robot stops Robert from being honored, pointing out they do all the work.
Much of the book is spent with Robert and other people trying to figure out a way to beat these robots that now know us so well, and I honestly did not predict the clever solution he comes up with which involves the famous Saint Louis Arch used in an extremely funny manner. The whole book itself is quite smart and funny, with Killeen's stellar artwork keeping things engaging as well.

Speaking of Killeen's art, it is great with its style that feels like the look of, "Peanuts," and, "Calvin and Hobbs," had a baby. It can be both realistic and a bit cartoonish, with a look to the drawings of the robots that makes them intriguing in their variety of shapes from curved, to blocky, familiar to outright-bizarre. Killeen's artwork makes me feel nostalgic for old Sunday newspapers full of lush colors and fun drawings, but now spread-out through a whole stellar book!
"Robert and the Robots," is a treat for both kids and adults who still have some child-like wonder themselves. It's fun, quite smart, and a delight to look at. Dan Killeen has outdone himself with this marvelous book and I know I'll be reading it to Clarkson often!
5 out of 5 stars.

You can purchase, "Robert and the Robots," at this link as well as all finer bookstores, and learn more about Killeen's other works for his, "Happy Fun Books," line at the official website.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What the Dickens is Kanye West Up To?

Kanye West created one of my favorite albums ever--his debut, "The College Dropout,"--and has made numerous other pieces I've adored. He's been outspoken and not afraid to speak his mind, once declaring in response to Hurricane Katrina what many were thinking--"George Bush doesn't care about black people." His aforementioned first album has as its first track (after a spoken intro), "We Don't Care," which discusses how society expects black people to fail or die in poverty and Kanye is out to correct that. He's always been a bit of a loudmouth and walked a dangerous tightrope between strongly believing himself and full-on narcissism. He also made me shake my head in disbelief when he married and had kids with Kim Kardashian of all people, but they fell in love so good for them. Still, imagine my surprise when lately Kanye has sounded more like a Neo-Con than a Liberal activist. Seriously, what the dickens is Kanye West up to?

If you haven't been following the news about Kanye, he basically came out of a self-imposed Twitter exile to declare plans to make a bunch of new albums that would be incredible masterpieces as well as both solo and in collaboration with other artists. He also stated he was writing a book on philosophy before clarifying his tweets were the book. So far the usual mixture of Kanye being creative and a bit outlandish, right? Well, then he randomly tweeted how he liked the way popular black-and-super-Conservative pundit Candance Ownen, "Thinks." Owens is known for saying how Democrats have, "Brainwashed," black people into voting for them and they should instead support Trump and his agenda. After that Kanye put-up approving tweets of videos from, "Dilbert," creator, Trump-lover, and annoying super-conservative Scott Adams rambling about how Kanye was some new hope for inspiring people to embrace conservatism. Kanye once seemed to be joking about an affection for ain't a joke no more, with his outright declaring on a radio show just recently, "I love Donald Trump."

People who once decried Kanye was some kind of uber-Liberal traitor to America now are embracing him thanks to his apparent pro-Trump stance. How did someone as seemingly left-leaning as Kanye morph into what feels like a sudden darling of right-wingers? Does Kanye in fact now think of himself as some sort of red-pilled-Conservative-supporting-Republican? Is this just a case of him retweeting support for anyone who says nice things about him regardless of what he actually believes? Considering how unpredictable Kanye West can be should the Trump-lovers be so quick to hitch their wagon to man known for changing his mind without warning? I don't know what is going on, but it kind of saddens me to see Kanye go from sounding more like an advocate for Liberal issues to spouting Pro-Trump views.

Monday, April 23, 2018

When the Hero is the Villain--"Belladonna: Fire and Fury" Mini-Run Review

I've been reading the latest mini-series from the publisher Boundless, "Bealladonna: Fire and Fury." Five issues have come out so far and they feature the usual violence and cheesecake-styled nudity expected in Boundless titles, but it has also contained an interesting story-element that has kind of been sneaking-up on the reader--namely, the protagonist, Belladonna, is arguably the bad-guy in the story. Without it ever outright being said or stated in the comic, the plotting has allowed the reader to see it slowly revealed that the supposed proud and strong warrior Belladonna is kinda evil. Considering how in this day and age readers of tales are often beat over the head with story-elements, I'm impressed how her villainy was been more of a subtext so far, carefully unveiling itself without the comic yelling, "Hey, Belladonna's pretty terrible!"

Belladonna and her warrior-woman known as, "Furies," spent an earlier mini-series fighting a terrible sorceress and seemed to be alright, but within this mini she and her crew tricked a kind village of magical women who commune with nature so as to steal their riches, and when found-out as theives violently killed anyone who stood in their path simply for trying to protect their own stuff. The first four issues had this occur and in the fifth issue Belladonna and her group now are shipwrecked and about to face a tribe of murderous cannibals--so someone actually worse than Belladonna. Still, while this group may be straight-up evil, all the previous people Belladonna and the Furies have killed seem to be gathering the little resources they have left after being defeated with a plan to get some revenge...and frankly you kind of want to cheer for the people eager to stop Belladonna.
"Belladonna: Fire and Fury," has featured the usual explicit sex and over-the-top violence Boundless prides itself on, but as I've said before when I comment about how they are a surprisingly high-quality publisher, their books are worth reading. This mini-series has so far been engaging as well as action-packed and full of eroticism. I'm excited to see what will happen as the people wronged by Belladonna and her Furies bolster their forces and if Belladonna can at least be redeemed a bit fighting a group of people even more violent and (literally) bloodthirsty than she is.
5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

I Enjoyed Visiting Animeggroll Yesterday!

As a resident of the Saint Louis Region I like to spotlight services and places I enjoy. Yesterday I was able to visit Animeggroll since they moved from within the Chesterfield mall to the Taubman Prestige Outlets. Animeggroll is a store dedicated to anime, manga, and other aspects of Asian culture such as statues relating to the aforementioned media properties, snacks, and more! I had a great time visiting them at this newer location for the first time where I was impressed with how much great stuff there was to peruse. The employees were extremely helpful when I told them what manga I liked and asked for recommendations, and I greatly enjoyed chatting with them.

As someone very familiar with Western comics but less knowledgeable in Manga I can find myself intimidated at times trying to decide what to read, so the employees being eager to assist me really made my day. I'm excited to go back and browse for more rad stuff (I want to watch more anime too) and would encourage other folk to check their store out as well! You can visit their website here or say hello on their Facebook page. For more information about Taubman Prestige Outlets itself you can check its site out as well.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Mean Girls Club: Pink Dawn," Graphic Novel Review

I previously read a short yarn about the titular Mean Girls Club from creator Ryan Heshka and published by Nobrow. I loved it and am pleased to see it was just a taste of the over-the-top goodness found in this full-length original graphic novel, "Mean Girls Club: Pink Dawn." Whereas the short comic about the club just showed a general night of the ladies causing mayhem, this book chronicles the attempts of a corrupt and evil mayor (along with complicit judicial and religious figures) to take-down the Mean Girls Club.

A young female mechanic named Roxy who gets entangled in a plot to destroy the club is the protagonist for most of the book, with it occasionally focusing on the club, but generally we get an outsider-view through Roxy of these mean girls who like to smoke, drink, take drugs, eat sugar-filled candy, and raise Hell. The Mean Girls are not good guys per se, but perhaps by being true to themselves as rabble-rousers, they end up being heroes as they take on a city full of crooked politicians and hypocritical religious leaders. It's a fun story made all the more entertaining thanks to Heska's stellar art-style.
Heshka's art for the comic looks like someone took 1950's nostalgia and made it twisted and absurd. The supposedly wholesome-looking dames of the era are morphed into rough-and-tumble women who defy stereotypes, creating a fantastic visual paradox of the kind of cars, radio, and clothes found in, "The good old days," but with a very modern-take on how things weren't that, "Good," and instead kept women disenfranchised and made second-class citizens. The colors are black, white, and pink, giving everything an extra feminine touch cleverly countered by the swearing, violence, and ample drug use of the Mean Girls Club. It's just gorgeous to look at and makes it so that the solid concept of the Mean Girls Club has incredible visuals to match.

"Mean Girls Club: Pink Dawn," is a great book full of excellent artwork and clever storytelling that results in a clever take on how we often may view the past through rose-tinted (or in this case, pink-tinted) glasses, but whether its the past or the present, there are people who won't stand for a corrupt status quo , and even if they have their own problems you sure as Hell want them fighting for you as opposed to against you. I can only hope we get to witness more misadventures by The Mean Girls Club in the future, because I adored this book and rate it...5 out of 5 stars.

You can buy a copy for your enjoyment at Nobrow's website or all finer comic shops.

Please Note: A copy of this book was provided by NoBrow in one of their usual occasional press mailings sent out to the media for the purposes of review, as they recalled I loved the first small comic about the Mean Girls Club.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

April 2018 News and Links to Accompany the Insane Weather

Cold, Hot, Rainy, Snowy, Etc.
If only April could be so serene.
They say April showers bring May flowers, but based on the absurd weather out here in Saint Louis I have to ask what April flurries bring? Seriously, I feel like we've had more snow, ice, and hail in this month than any other of what was our past Winter, and then after night where its freezing cold suddenly we flirt with an 80-degree day! The rest of America is dealing with sporadic bouts of heat, cold, and storms as well, oh and the rest of Earth continues to have the climate warm in dangerous ways too, short-term weather aside. Let's try to forget about all that for at least a short bit however and enjoy some quality news and links, shall we?

Interesting Stuff To Examine
Let's start with some wonderful news: Kendrick Lamar won a Pulitzer Prize for his musical talent. He's the first non-classical or jazz artist to do so. My many posts about the man show I feel he is a genius, so it is always nice to see that recognized by others as well!

Check-out this guide about the best way to introduce your kid to horror movies if they're into scary stuff. I myself enjoy fright-flicks but my wife mostly hates them. Time will tell how Clarkson feels!

This huge piece by Vulture about, 'The 100 Pages That Shaped Comics," is fascinating. It's of course subjective and countless people will go, "What about such-and-such a page?" but it still is interesting in that it takes a single page from various comic-works and elaborates on the importance or impact of those comics.
The first, "Iron Man," continues to be a modern classic.
Rewatching the original MCU flicks sounds like it could be fun just to see where it all started. Heidi McDonald has been doing so, finding she quite enjoyed, "Iron Man," remembered just how forgettable, "Incredible Hulk," was and loved, "Captain America."

The, "Far Cry," series needs to let things break again, in more ways than one, as this article argues.

"Cathy," as a comic-strip was something I would skim as a kid between reading the other strips in the newspaper I liked more. I think I, "Got," it even as a kid--"Oh, she really like chocolate and is stressed?"--but just was never that impressed by the strip. I didn't hate it however as many seemed to, and now decades after it began and 8 years after its end The Comics Journal has an interesting essay, "On Hating Cathy."
"Alias," was a favorite comic of mine and its years-later follow-up, "Jessica Jones," was solid too. The character's creator, Brian Michael Bendis, is leaving Marvel for DC and Michael Gayados has  almost always illustrated the character's best stories (by Bendis) and even if Gayados sticks around for the inevitable re-launch it won't be the same. This piece about the conclusion of Bendis' time with the character is a solid read.

So many video-games involve killing stuff, which can get old. What is this though? An open-world game where your protagonist paints instead of killing countless stuff? Sounds interesting and like something I'll keep an eye on for its release in the hopefully-near future!

The stellar CW show, "Black Lightning," just wrapped its first season. I am extremely pleased it is getting a second and only expect more good things!

Someone who hates Tom Brady and despises meal kits as well tried the Tom Brady meal kit to hilarious results. I personally think meal kits are cool but also hate Tom Brady for many of the reasons the article discusses (he's a cheater, he's entitled, he just is a jerk) so I enjoyed reading it,

So-called reporter and known moron Sean Hannity had relentlessly been defending Donald Trump and Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, without revealing he actually had Cohen as his lawyer too. This is the kind of conflict of interest you see at a level I couldn't imagine, but its a reporter at Fox News so who expects any ethics from the people there (besides Shepard Smith, the one decent human being on the Fox News payroll)?

To conclude, this article has a clever headline ("I Blame Chris Brown,") and is a great exploration of the complexities of race, music, and the audiences of that music via a lame song titled, "Freaky Friday," that has a rapper I've generally found mediocre--Lil' Dickey, and a singer with quite a lot of baggage--Chris Brown--engaging in a body-swap to supposedly hilarious results. The punchline to the song is Kendall Jenner talking about her vagina, so yeah.

Stay Dry
I'm never this happy to get rained on
No matter what kind of precipitation you are dealing with where you live, I hope you can stay dry and comfortable.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Album Review: "Golden Hour," by Kacey Musgraves

I have very wide-ranging tastes in music, loving everything from 1990's rap to weird undergroud rock, electronica, independent artists to big-names, etc. That said, I don't normally like new country-styled music much at all. I don't say that to try and sound like some kind of snob, I just find if I hear some old folk or country I am can get into it but a lot of today's supposedly, "Great," country music sounds warmed-over, watered-down, etc. Johnny Cash was a genius, Big & Rich ain't.

Then I saw a singer on two different occasions (once on, "The Today Show," and a few days later on, "Late Night with Stephen Colbert) who had these amazing, folk-and-country-styled songs that just sounded superb. As I don't know much about the genre I was unaware she'd been around for awhile, but upon hearing Kacey Musgraves singing, I'm a fan.
I'm not alone in greatly enjoying Musgraves new album, "Golden Hour," with plenty of people already labeling it as a classic or possibly already being album of the year. Whether its the quiet romance of album-opener, "Slow Burn," the sweet sensation of, "Butterflies,", optimistic observations of, "Love is a Wild Thing," the humorous mixed emotions of, "Happy and Sad," or the catchy-yet-longing, "Lonely Weekend," Musgraves can turn joy or depression into introspective and melody-packed tunes. I especially loved the aforementioned, "Slow Burn," as well as the song that matches the album's title, "Golden Hour," for how they make it feel like Musgraves is sitting there singing the songs just for you.

It's not all perfect, with, "Space Cowboy," feeling like its drags a bit even at only 3-and-a-half minutes and while, "High Horse," may be getting some play on the radio I actually personally think its the weakest and most, "Hey, I'm being commercial!"-type jam on the album. Still, there is plenty more good than bad, and even on the least-enjoyable pieces Musgrave's stellar voice and lyricism shine through.
I didn't know that Musgraves has openly talked about decriminalizing cannabis and is a big proponent of LGBTQ rights, but the fact she's a nice and chill person in general just makes me like her all the more. "Golden Hour," is a majestic album and one of the best LPs I have heard so far this year from an individual artist (the awesome "Black Panther," album has Kendrick Lamar involved for much of it but is arguably a mixture of various musicians on the assorted soundtrack). It is thoughtful, inspired, and just plain listenable. Give it a spin/stream, you'll most likely love it too!
5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Rant-Reviews: An Assortment of the Latest First Issues From this Week

New Week, New #1's
An assortment of first issues came out this week of some comic-books. I read  variety and have thoughts to offer, because you shouldn't always judge a comic series by its first issue, but you can judge the first issue itself, right?

Debut Titles
Exiles #1
I previously made a post about how I was at least somewhat excited for this comic to come-out, holding fond memories of the older, "Exiles," comic-books. This first issue basically just introduces the concept (a team from various Marvel Universes tries to save the Multiverse) and has us meet a chunk of the team, with my assuming the remaining members will be picked-up in issue #2. I'd be annoyed at how decompressed things feel--if assembling the team takes more than another issue I'll be quite perturbed--but the comic is written well enough with a good mixture of humor to compliment the, "Everything is in danger," drama that I was entertained. My concerns with the slow pacing aside, this was quite good!
4 out of 5 stars.

The Dead Hand #1
Image has been releasing a lot of first issues lately, with a good deal of them being smash-hits. I'm not sure if, "The Dead Hand," written by Kyle Higgins and with smashing art by Stephen Mooney will become one of those super-popular books, but if the first issue is any indication, it has more than enough quality to be a series people talk about. Higgins introduces us at the beginning to Carter Carlson, a Cold War operative who did a lot of terrible things but now lives a quiet and happy life in small and dull Middle-America town where everything seems great but also just a little off. The reason for that becomes clear with a killer reveal at the end of the issue that has me practically chomping at the bit for issue #2 to come out. It also helps that Stephen Mooney's artwork is amazing, with some splash-pages throughout the book just looking gorgeous in their intricacy. I am pumped to read more, without a doubt!
5 out of 5 stars.

A Fractured Mind #1
The latest release from Red 5 Comics, I've enjoyed an assortment of their works over the years and found, "A Fractured Mind," at first a little dull before a neat twist at the end of the issue piqued my interest. I was bored at first because the concept sounded a bit boilerplate. A serial killer has murdered a bunch of girls, one named Christie has escaped, and now two detectives with their own emotional baggage need her help to find the killer. I would be snarky and say, "Yawn," but if I may spoil things, at the end we witness that Christie might have something very wrong with her now and she's possibly not so helpless a victim as things first appeared. That hook at the end helped keep this interesting enough that I want to seek out the next issue and see where things are going, so mission accomplished in that regard.
3 out of 5 stars.

Xerxes #1
Frank Miller's long-promised comic-book sequel to, "300," (no, the movie-sequel doesn't count) finally has had its first issue come-out, and it is...fine, I guess? Written and drawn by Miller, the plot is basically a blending of history and made-up stuff mixed with his art-style that over the years has gone from impressively detailed-yet-rough-looking to now just being kind of sketchy-styled and rough-looking-but-not-in-a-good-way. Diehard fans of Miller should hopefully be somewhat satisfied and I guess it sates whatever small urge I had for minimalistically-drawn takes on the past through Miller's weird sociopolitical lens--which, as I've previously discussed, seems to have become a bit warped in his later years. This wasn't absolute garbage like, "Holy Terror," but is far removed from Miller's previous masterpieces. It's completely average, which when compared to the kind of things Frank Miller made in the past is actually quite depressing to say.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

Immortal Men #1
This latest of new DC books would be promising if it weren't so muddled between a confusing story and rapidly-shifting artists for no in-story reason that ruins any semblance of cohesiveness. A whole lot of people are introduced/re-introduced from other books and the general idea is there that these special people are being wiped out, but I found myself scratching my head at the general motivations behind what the villains were doing, what makes our protagonist (a young man) at all interesting, and just generally found myself underwhelmed compared to other new DC comics that I have been enjoying such as, "Damage," and, "The Terrifics." While I'm still picking-up copies of those I won't be reading issue #2 of this unless someone tells me it suddenly stops being such a mess of art and story.
2 out of 5 stars.

It Was a Hodge-Podge of Quality
The books that came out this week clearly were of mixed quality. Some quite impressed and others just left me feeling underwhelmed, confused, or both. The great thing about comic-books however is that there is always the next week of releases to look forward to regardless of how good or bad the stuff was from the previous seven days. That's part of what I love about this art-form, how there is always more coming!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Tales From The Dollar Bin: Secret Empire #1

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...

Secret Empire #1 AKA One Huge Disaster of an Event
Oh God, this was even more of a mess than I had heard and imagined. You see, I didn't read, "Secret Empire," because when it was revealed that Captain America was somehow a Nazi/member of Hyrda all along thanks to some fiddling with the Cosmic Cube I thought that was absurd. Then, when I heard he was going to somehow be taking over America and putting it under Hydra's reign that just sounded stupid for something supposedly in the normal Marvel Continuity. Maybe as an alternate-world tale, but a fascist dictator taking over our nation via apparently tricking all the other heroes, then rounding-up anyone else with powers, and shutting-down any dissent in the Marvel Universe which is supposed to be like the world out our window? That's just idiotic--and don't make jokes about how its like Trump being in power, he's a terrible President but as far as I know he isn't a Nazi. Also, he surely isn't able to keep us under a strict and violent rule, he can't even keep news about him boinking porn stars out of the media.

I didn't read any of the lead-up so I was extra confused as, "Secret Empire #1," reads like the second or third chapter of a story, with Hydra-Cap in power and being all cliche and evil. I suppose part of the reason for that is there apparently was a #0 issue and other lead-in stories. God help me though, I can't imagine reading anything else related to this steaming pile of crap. I mean, even if the whole concept is wretched if writer Nick Spencer had at least told the story in an interesting way I could muddle through this. Instead its just a bland mish-mash of, "Some heroes are rebelling, Captain America is doing evil stuff, here are some quick references to other characters getting their own tie-in comics!"
Captain America is sad he has to kill his friend he betrayed.
Poor guy?
The most notable thing in this issue besides the general idiocy of a Nazi Captain America running our nation is that Las Vegas is apparently destroyed at the end by Hydra-Cap because the city has been known for aiding some of the because a few hundreds of residents help rebels he kills millions mainly so the comic can make it clear--"This Captain America is so bad y'all!" Also, he murders longtime sidekick and friend Rick Jones but looks sad about it so we should apparently pity him even though he's become a Nazi/Hydra evil dictator--as if the comic can't fully commit to making Captain America completely laughable evil and tries to act like he still has a bit of humanity. He revealed he was a Nazi and has taken over America by force, I'm not going to go, "Awww, he's all sullen and wonders if maybe he's doing the wrong thing, poor Cap!"

I mean, it really just says something that such a recent event was in a dollar bin along with all the other issues that I passed on picking-up as I knew reading the first issue would be more than enough for me. The first issue of an event like, "Civil War," sells for above cover-price, and even if that Millar-scribed series had flaws, at least it was entertaining. This is just atrocious and I feel bad for anyone who picked, "Secret Empire," for full price as at a dollar I still feel like I threw away my money. It is such a waste of time I wish I could get the 15 minutes it took me to read it refunded so I can spend those moments on a better comic.
Fluoride and Chemtrails are seriously discussed as plots to keep people mind-controlled.
Also, note the quick mention of mutants as if it's saying, "Read their book for this event too!"
Marvel has since moved on from this and appear eager to bury any memory of, "Secret Empire," with the big news now being popular writer Ta-Nehisi Coates is going to be taking over writing a non-brainwashed Captain America  from Mark Waid (who had the thankless job of trying to rehab the character a bit after Nick Spencer ruined Cap) for what will most likely be a very-promoted run. That is something I would actually like to read, unlike this miserable...tale from the dollar bin!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

I'm Worried For Stan Lee

Stan Lee in happier days.
I'm worried for Stan Lee. He's 95, his wife died less than a year ago, and it seems everyone wants to take advantage of him now. Anyone he used to have looking out for his interests has been let-go by increasingly questionable characters and a daughter who seems more concerned with wealth than her father's well-being. There was an article in The Daily Beast. Then talk of questionable marketing gimmicks like Lee having his actual blood stolen to be used in ink-stamps, his seeming poor health at a recent convention, and now The Hollywood Reporter has a piece making things look even more grim, declaring that Stan Lee needs a hero like the ones he used to write to rescue him now.

Whether you feel Stan Lee deserves all the credit or none of the credit for the success of Marvel and its characters (people still argue the degree of work he did and his actual impact), he for sure is an important person in Marvel's history and a human being who deserves dignity in his old age, as opposed to being treated like a cash-cow to suck dry (literally, as the blood incident shows) and on the receiving end of what clearly sounds like horrific elder abuse. Stan Lee may not be long for this world and due to those who helped protect him from the vultures either passing away or being fired by those without his best interests at heart its turned into a fiasco of so-called friends with long rapsheets or a daughter who sounds physically abusive and obsessed with getting as much moolah out of the ailing Lee as possible before he passes. It's incredibly sad, and a tragic way for Lee to have his last time on Earth spent. Hopefully us fans can do something to try to stop this before it gets more tragic, like popular director and known comic-lover Kevin Smith who has seen all this news and has offered to help how he can.

The Danger of Overlapping Comic-Cons AKA Three Cons Happen at the Same Time in 2019

All happen at the same time in 2019
As this article from The Beat/Comics Beat discusses, in 2019 we will have WonderCon, C2E2, and Planet ComiCon all happening at the same time in 2019--March 29th-31st. This is both sad and dangerous. It is sad because I'm sure there are people out there who would like to be able to attend at least two of these and will find that extremely difficult. Now they might have to prioritize based on factors like cost, the guests in attendance etc. This is dangerous for somewhat the same reason--it divides fans, creators, vendors, etc. between shows they might otherwise attend two or all three of.

I get that as more and more comic-cons happen it makes it harder not to have overlap. I often see think-pieces asking if, "We have too many comic-cons?" or such, but disagree with any argument there are too many cons. There is such a wide range of interests, fandoms, etc. that I feel plenty of cons in existence is a good thing to have. The problem is when cons of similar focus, not too far from each other geographically, comparable in popularity, or a mixture of those factors find themselves happening at the same time. It just makes things harder for everyone and as I said, is dangerous for the continued success of the cons as it makes people choose sides/favorites.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Zedd is a Terrible Excuse for Electronica

Anton Zaslavski AKA Zedd.
Makes terrible Electronic music.
Zedd is just awful. Now, I am not some kind of annoying eletronica/techno fan who hates anything popular just because other people enjoy it. I've never hid that I'm a fan of Paul Van Dyk, for instance, and some folk decry him as one of the most commercial electronic music-makers there are. That said, I have to say Zedd makes some of the most bland, blatantly syrupy pop-techno I've ever heard.

Perhaps if you're in a club when, "Clarity," comes on it is good to dance to. However, besides a solid beat all its has are utterly nonsensical lyrics sung by a moderately talented lady and a predictable fast-and-loud-followed-by-quiet-and-slow rhythm. The latest big song from Zedd is actually so commercial you've probably heard it in literal commercials for Target. It is, "The Middle," and again features a solid beat but otherwise is...nonsensical lyrics sung by a moderately talented lady accompanied by alternately speedy or slow melodies.
Paul Van Dyk.
Also makes popular electronica but his stuff is good.
The kind of music Zedd creates makes me feel like someone wanted to cynically produce the most obnoxiously pop-styled techno possible. It's just supposedly-catchy melodies with a nice voice spitting out word-vomit. There is so much more electronic music out there--commercial as well as less-known stuff--that is a great deal better, and yet Zedd's music gets played on the radio or pops-up in ads for Target (seriously Target, I love your stores but then you gotta support such a crappy artist), its disheartening. Do yourself a favor and seek-out something better if you're looking for quality electronica/techno/etc.

Friday, April 6, 2018

I Tried and Quite Enjoyed the Battle Royale mode of, "Fortnite," Recently!

People love battle royale games--e.g. where folk land on an island full of players and have to survive while the map shrinks and be the last individual/team standing. It started coming to popularity with, "Player Unknown's Battlegrounds," and then a game that launched with a different focus known as, "Fortnite," introduced its own Battle Royale mode mainly as a fun lark and it blew-up in so much popularity people now barely play the game it initially launched as and everyone enjoys the Battle Royale. I've heard so much about it that I did what you are usually told not to do--I did an activity because the internet said it was fun. Unlike eating tide pods however playing, "Fornite," on my Playstation 4  didn't make me sick, but instead was actually a great time!

How does a match of Battle Royale work in, "Fortnite?" Well, you jump out of a flying bus that goes over the island, deploy your glider to land safely, and proceed to gather weapons, shields, health kits, and resources so you can build walls and stairs to keep yourself extra protected. In the meantime the other 99 players in the match do this too and slowly the map shrinks as more folk are wiped out by everyone else (or in some cases accidentally running of a cliff and falling to their death). It is a simple idea that works wonderfully in execution, as everyone either tries to gun each other down, hide as long as possible and let the other players whittle each other down, or some mixture of strategies. Plus, there is a mode where you can have a small team and that can result in some wacky matches also.
As readers of this blog no doubt know, I have an infant son named Clarkson. Having a baby makes it hard to be able to dedicate a big block of time to a video-game. "Fortnite," and its Battle Royale matches tend to be nice and quick, however, so that's perfect for me. Another thing that is wonderful would be how the game is utterly free. I don't even have Playstation Plus but I can still enjoy fighting against other players and the only thing that costs money would be cosmetic upgrades to make my character look different in wild outfits--people can never pay-to-win and all the matches start with everybody having nothing besides their pickaxe for harvesting resources and scavenging for everything else.

"Fortnite," and its Battle Royale mode is fun, fast, and free--three things I seek-out nowadays when it comes to my video-games. Having played it I can now easily see why the game has become such a phenomenon--it's a rollicking good time, after all! I'd encourage anyone who enjoys fun games to try it out as all you need is a device capable of playing it (PS4, Xbox One, PC, or even mobile phones now) and an internet connection. Give it a shot and you'll most likely love it!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

STL Comics Has Another Pop-Up Shop This Saturday!

The good folk over at STL Comics are doing another pop-up shop this Saturday. I always enjoy running into STL Comics at various toy and comic shows, cons, and other assorted events. Whenever they do their own pop-up shop it always is fun as they bring a ton of stuff and always are eager to sell!

I hope to have the time to get over to this latest pop-up shop this upcoming Saturday, April 7th, from 10AM-2PM at the Holiday Inn located at 3400 Rider Trl S, Earth City, Missouri 63045. If anyone in the area is able to go there too I'll see you there!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

I Absolutely Adore the New Canada Dry with Lemonade Soda

Look, I try to drink less soda the older I get. I know it isn't the best thing for me. That said, I enjoy one now and then. A soda-beverage I've always quite enjoyed is Canada Dry, which for my money is the tastiest ginger ale on the market. I was at the grocery store the other day and saw the new flavor of Canada Dry ginger ale with lemonade added. I thought I would give it a try. I was little nervous it might taste artificial, too tart, or otherwise not be good. It was fucking delicious.

Canada Dry with lemonade is like their usual awesome ginger ale with an extra zing that just makes the whole thing magical. It's crisp, refreshing, and sweet with just a little bite. I don't know what exactly makes me like it so much, but I love this new soda. I've been loving drinking it and hope it sticks around as opposed to being available for just a short while as its too tasty to disappear!

Note: As I always try to make clear, nobody reached-out to me about discussing this soda or offered me anything to do so. I just really loved this soda when I tried it and felt like sharing my affinity for it!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Television Tuesday: Scoobynatural

My sister-in-law is a big fan of the popular CW show, "Supernatrual." I have only ever seen a handful of episodes myself and besides all the continuity its built-up over these many seasons which leaves me hopelessly lost, find it to be good fun. One thing I do have a lot of familliarity with however would be, "Scooby Doo," as I watched repeats of the old shows many times as a child growing-up back when cartoon channels would have big blocks of old-school cartoons during the day. Therefore, when I heard about the big cross-over between these two properties advertised with the clever name, "Scoobynatrual," I was interested. The odds seemed pretty even this would be a clever and fun show or an absolute trainwreck. I read some reviews from sources such as the AV Club as well as The Outhousers and considering how those two entities seem to hate almost everything and liked this, I was excited to check it out. So, my sister-in-law came this weekend to visit (it was her birthday weekend) and we all gathered around the television and watched, "Scoobynatural."

"Scoobynatural," was quite good! As I mentioned earlier, I know precious little about, "Supernatural," besides the general concept. This episode thankfully stands mostly-alone from the regular series and provides basically all the information someone needs upfront to figure-out what's going on--Sam and Dean are brothers, they fight the supernatural, they have a friend named Castiel who joins them when they're sucked into an episode of, "Scooby Doo," etc. As for, "Scooby Doo," you again just need to know the basics to enjoy the appearance of that mystery-solving gang, and who doesn't know at least a little about, "Scooby Doo," after all?
The general plot is Sam and Dean are (as I mentioned) sucked into a television that clearly is haunted and find themselves trapped in an actual season 1 episode of, "Scooby Doo." Something is clearly off however as the episode unfolds in a way much gorier than usual and Sam and Dean struggle to keep the fact that supernatural forces actually exist a secret from Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy, and Scooby lest they spoil their, "Innocence," as Scooby-fan Dean states he worries about. The animation is solid and a lot better than an actual old episode of, "Scooby Doo," which is something acknowledged at various points (it is pointed-out a book leading to a secret passage is notable as it isn't, "Painted into the background," in a clever meta-moment). The laughs also come quick and most land quite well, with it never feeling like either, "Supernatural," or, "Scooby Doo," are unfair butts of the joke so much as having both their positives and flaws lovingly pointed out.

"Scoobynatural," is a delightful mash-up of two properties that at first wouldn't seem like an ideal match, but through their differences actually illustrate how similar they both are as well. I had a good time watching the program and die-hard fans of either property no doubt will pick-up even more in-jokes than newbies--but both experts and those less-familiar with these shows will have a stellar time watching. I rate this 5 out of 5 stars!

Monday, April 2, 2018

"No Better Words," Original Graphic Novel Review

I love me some smaller-publishers and Silver Sprocket is an independent publisher who has been putting out some stellar works. "Your Black Friend and Other Strangers," has garnered a lot of press to give one example of a hit book they have, but I'm going to talk about another recent release that I found both insightful, creative, and extremely erotic. That book is, "No Better Words."

"No Better Words," is a short original graphic novel by Carolyn Nowak described by her as, "Poetry+Porn." It focuses on a young woman dealing with her attraction to a man through expressing her desire as metaphors about loneliness and horniness that the protagonist herself admits could be considered either clever or terribly hokey--she really rails into herself for using the cliche of mazes. This book is gorgeously illustrated and quite introspective. Eventually she talks with the man she likes at a house party and they admit they both have feelings for each other.
For those asking, "If this comic advertises itself as being for adults only why doesn't it sound that sexy?" Well, that's because there is a lot of set-up to make us really care about the characters, but then yes, they do have sex, and it is drawn really explicitly and is made all the hotter by how we actually like these individuals we see fucking--then we also witness them talk and cuddle a bit more after having sex. It actually reads like how two people would in fact interact if they admitted they liked each other and fucked as opposed to the countless corny porn-stories that exist with minimal or predictable plot (e.g. "I didn't a order a pizza, but now that you're here...).

"No Better Words," is a brisk read at 28 pages but is a fantastic comic that inspires thought, arousal, appreciation, and excitement. I would encourage anyone who likes well-written stories and/or erotic yarns to check it out.
5 out of 5 stars.
You can buy a copy from Silver Sprocket here. You visit visit Ms. Nowak's site here.

2 Things You Should Basically Never Do in Cosplay

When it comes to cosplay I don't do it myself but enjoy supporting those who do and have even interviewed a rad cosplayer before, Ms. Alexa Heart. When it comes to cosplay one wonderful thing about it would be how there aren't really any rules. You can have the most complex outfit ever or just a wig, you can be whatever gender you identify as normally or dress as a different one. You can be tall and dress as someone short, you can be pretty and wear the outfit of a hideous zombie. Hell, you could be a human and dress as a vehicle if you wanted. Cosplay is a wonderful and fluid thing, but there are two things you should basically never do in Cosplay, and its alarming that a number of people don't realize this.
This Crazy-Eyes cosplay was fine until she went the blackface route.
1. Don't wear blackface
There is absolutely nothing wrong with someone white, asian, native american, etc. dressing up as a character who is a person of color. Hell, I'm all for folk getting decked-out in Black Panther outfits, rocking a classic Luke Cage yellow shirt and Tiara, or dressing-up like Vixen. Here's the thing though, the practice of blackface has such a sordid and painful history that its just offensive to do.You don't see black cosplayers trying to change the tint of their skin if they portray a white character (and Joker facepaint doesn't count) so why would you try to do blackface? I get you maybe want to look, "Authentic," as possible but it isn't okay, for a multitude of reasons that a number of other articles explain better than I ever could.
You think you're being sexy and ironic, but you just look moronic.
2. Don't dress-up as a Nazi
This one should just be obvious. It's not funny, cute, and even if you're supposedly doing it, "Ironically," you still look like a fool. Don't try to think that if you're a, "Nazi zombie," that somehow makes it clever or okay too. Any attempts to do a, "Sexy Nazi," are even more idiotic. It's just not okay, whether you're in America, Europe, Australia, or an Asian country where, "Nazi-chic," is something as stupid as it sounds. Nazis are an actual and horrific evil entity that in living memory tried to wipe out whole groups of people and decimate the world. Dressing-up as an actual evil is different than a fictional super-villain because no matter how many imaginary people were killed, they weren't real.

Now, this one can actually have some, "But what-ifs..." attached to it. Someone might say, "What-if I want to be the Red Skull? What about someone else from Hyrda?" To this query there are many opinions, but in mine I say you are more than welcome to be the Red Skull and even have the Hydra logo, but leave the actual Nazi symbols at home because, again, the Red Skull is fictional, even if his hateful ideology draws from something uncomfortably real. Seriously, the only place people dressing-up as Nazis even comes close to not being totally disgusting is maybe World War II reenactment events, and even then you wonder why someone wants to play the Nazi.

Easy to (Not) Do!
Cosplay is joyous and great. If you avoid doing the above two things you should basically never do in cosplay than you should have a fantastic time!