Saturday, June 30, 2018

No, They Actually SHOULD Make a Moon Knight Movie

I was reading Bleeding Cool between its constant barrage of annoying advertisements and read an article by Dan Wickline which was well thought-out but I still completely disagree with. Basically, his argument is that Moon Knight as a character would not work as a Marvel movie and instead should be something along the lines of a Netflix show. To this I say, "Nope."

Wickline uses the argument that Marc Spector AKA Moon Knight has too complicated a origin, too many personalities, too much of this-and-that to be fit into a film whereas 10 episodes of a show might help. I find this argument immensely flawed in that there are characters within the Marvel Cinematic Universe that had existed for decades more than Moon Knight with lots more comic-issues yet they were made into film characters. Plus, it isn't like certain aspects of Spector can't be tweaked for a movie, that's been done countless times for characters on the silver-screen.
Plus, no offense to the Marvel Netflix shows but they can oftentimes feel really padded-out with all those episodes. I'd love a tight, focused 2-hour Moon Knight movie much more than a 10-hour Netflix series, I think. Also, the Netflix shows basically aren't in any kind of continuity that is the same as the movies (the Marvel TV projects don't really cross-over with the movies), and I'd love to see Moon Knight interact with the Avengers, something that will never happen if he is on Netflix.

A movie starring Marc Spector as Moon Knight may be challenge, but it is clearly doable and could be something amazing. I would much rather see him as a member of the Marvel Cinematic Universe than relegated to the sidelines in a Netflix series, and I hope someday soon we see one of my favorite characters on the big screen.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

This is One of the Ugliest Comic-Covers I've Seen In Years

Look at that above this text. Seriously, just look at it. God, that's some atrocious artwork. I know I say Greg Land is pretty miserable as a comic illustrator, but good God! I mean seriously, that was submitted to a number of people around the Marvel office as the cover to be used to promote the latest version of a, "Weapon X," comic-book and everyone who saw it apparently said, "Yep, that works." I mean, I thought the idea was sometimes comic-books have crappy interior art but you try to have an impressive cover in the hopes it will engage potential buyers of the book.

This is possibly going to be the cover to the debut issue and this is the polar opposite of a good first impression. The artwork itself is hideous and the characters don't look like they were even all drawn together so much as illustrated separately and then photoshopped into one image--it doesn't feel cohesive at all. There seems to be the idea they are breaking through glass or barbed wire or something too, but that's messy as well. It looks like someone with rudimentary drawing skills and even less ability using photoshop wanted to make an extreme piece of art and failed miserably. If I may use an old meme...

Seriously though, the only cover worse than this that comes to mind is that one with a Green Lantern vomiting rage-blood. This isn't quite that bad. It is close though.

I Think, "The Walking Dead," as a Property is Really Being Milked Dry

"The Walking Dead," has of course been an immensely popular comic that had a smash-hit television show adapted of it (with spin-off show, "Fear the Walking Dead," being popular too). Besides comics and television there have been video-games that have varied in quality from amazing to terrible, as well as countless merchandising tie-ins. That said, I think right now the property is starting to milk itself dry. Perhaps this is a result of some panic by TWD co-creator Robert Krikman, AKA the man who gets all the credit for the comic despite screwing-over Tony Moore until they settled a lawsuit.

This panic of course might relate to how so many actors are leaving the main show in the near future and the comic is getting less and less buzz over the years. Hence, suddenly the timeline to capitalize on the popularity of all things TWD is getting shorter and Kirkman needs to milk that cow, baby. So now we've got the creation of, "The Walking Dead Day,"  15th anniversary store variants, and a Pokemon Go-styled mobile game? I mean, what's next, an officially licensed cookbook and oh wait that exists. God, Kirkman really is squeezing every cent out of this property he can, isn't he?
I don't know, perhaps the fact I was never a huge fan of, "The Walking Dead," besides enjoying some of the Telltale-created video-games is why I'm so cynical about all this. If I were a die-hard fan of the comics and/or television show I might want to buy everything related to the property I could. It just is starting to feel more and more like TWD-mania is starting to die-down and while the comic might continue for some years and the television show may even keep going for a bit, this is a property that is past its peak years of popularity. I could be wrong and some kind of resurgence happens, but I'm gonna go more with my thinking Kirman is running about of ideas and trying to make as much cash as possible than optimistically assuming things are only going to get better from here on out.

Monday, June 25, 2018

People I Met and Stuff I Got--Saint Louis Mighty Con 2018 in Review

Another Year, Another Great Show
I had a fantastic time at this year's Saint Louis Mighty Con/Comic-Con when I attended on Saturday (I couldn't make it Sunday) and saw a variety of stupendous folk and picked-up some cool things too. I thought I would offer a summary of some of the highlights!

Rad People and Cool Stuff
At the start of the show I had the pleasure of running into Tom Nguyen who I'd previously met before at a show. We chatted about a comic he had illustrated coming out soon titled, "The Switch," and how he had been busy assisting with concepts and design for the upcoming season of, "Big Brother," which premieres this Wednesday! After chatting with Tom I checked-out all the cool stuff being sold by retailers. I saw some cool Marvel Legends figures being sold by Space Monkey Toys, and then chatted with Bill of Ivie League Comics who had a slew of awesome books for sale. I then said hello to one of the big-name creators at the event, Jim Shooter, who had all kinds of cool stories about his years in the comic-book biz.

Next I ran into the always-friendly Bishop Stevens who was on hand to chat with fans of his work from when he was a professional wrestler and now as a an actor. I then spoke with author William Heinzen who told me about his novel, "Warrior of Light," which imagines the kind of world where the great evil of the story won. Following that I ran into Jim MahFood who I've spoke about on the blog before of loving the artwork of. He told me he was hard at work on the latest, "Tank Girl," comics that he was the illustrator for. I also said hello to an artist with an impressive display of works named Ashley Harp who thanked me when I told her how cool her stuff was.

I saw Brian Atkins at the show and picked-up his new comic being published by Devil's Due, "Final Street," which he illustrated with Scott Schmidt as the writer and he told me was inspired by a mixture of martial arts movies, and classic video-games. I picked up a copy and look forward to reading it! I also saw Timothy Bach of Moonrise Comics who created the, "Gargoyle by Moonlight," comic I reviewed a bit ago and is now hard at work on the series, "The Family Graves." Then I stopped by a booth featuring the work of Karen Swartz who had all kinds of delightful illustrations. I also saw another cool creator named Stephanie Gobby whose stuff was extremely impressive as well.

I ate some lunch and then fittingly after eating ran into Chef Ryan Callahan who I had met at a previous con and enjoyed chatting with. He of course is the writer of a combination comic and cookbook that has won a number of awards (with awesome artwork by Katie Hinrichs). I then interacted with USA Today Bestselling author Jay Noel who told me about his really cool assortment of books, including some with a steampunk focus! I also saw stellar illustrator and colorist Jeff Balke who had a bunch of cool stuff for sale.

I bought a comic from the publisher Apogee Comics who had an assortment of exciting titles for sale. Also, as I finished touring about the show I met Jak Lore, an author who had released two urban fantasy books under his Mythic Legends Publishing Inc. brand. I looked around a bit more, picked-up some assorted comics and trades, then left for the day.

Mighty Con Was Mighty Fun
This year's Saint Louis Mighty Con/Comic-Con was yet another fun time. Between plenty of retailers with comics, toys, Funko, and more there was a lot to shop for, and a wonderful number of creators from the famous to the lesser-known were present too. It also is a very reasonably-priced show, costing just $12 each day or $20 for a weekend pass with free parking--in other words, a weekend pass to this show is less than a single day at some other higher-priced cons! I would encourage everyone who couldn't go this year to attend the next show in 2019, and if you were able to come this time, I'll see you next year!

Awesome Cosplay--Saint Louis Mighty Con 2018 in Review

Cosplay = Hooray
I attended the Saint Louis Mighty Con/Comic-Con this year and while there I had a a great time! One thing I love seeing at cons is people engaging in cosplay. This year I saw a number of great getups I thought I would spotlight!

Impressive Outfits

One of the first cosplayers I ran into was this very detailed and impressive version of Beast (of X-Men fame). He actually told me about his Facebook page you can find here.

Speaking of furry fellows (or possibly a gal within the getup), this Ewok was very friendly too and looked like he/she had stepped right out of, "Star Wars!"

I was impressed by the incredible outfits being worn by Ariel ("The Little Mermaid," and Zuko ("Avatar: The Last Airbender")!

This woman had an amazing original outfit she said was inspired by the, "Dungeons and Dragons," character known as, "The Raven Queen." You really had to see her in-person to witness how awesome her cosplay was!

I was overjoyed to run into Chef from, "South Park." It made me smile!

Lastly, this dapper Jango Fett ("Star Wars,") and  Poison Ivy ("DC Comics,") were quite the cool contrast of a couple with his gray and blue versus her green and red!

Another Year of Stellar Cosplay
The cosplay at the show was great and has me already excited to see what folk will be wearing at the next Saint Louis Mighty Con in 2019! I'll have a post up a little later discussing all the people I met and stuff I got too, so stay tuned to the blog!

Friday, June 22, 2018

It's a Great Weekend for Comics!

Comic-Filled Goodness
This weekend there are two big comic-related events in the Saint Louis region for folk to enjoy! I am excited to attend them both and wanted to make readers of the blog aware about these.

Saint Louis Mighty Con
Also known as the Saint Louis Comic-Con, this event runs Saturday from 10AM-7PM as well as Sunday 10AM-5PM at the Saint Charles Convention Center. I have enjoyed going to the con from its first year to this year and am eager to see all the fun stuff in store! Tickets are $12 for a single day and $20 for a weekend pass.

Run by STL Comics, the latest Micro-Con is Sunday and goes from 11AM-3PM. It is all the fun of a con in a smaller form! There will be lots of sellers and a number of comic-creators as well. It is free to attend as well, which is awesome!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Rant-Reviews: Popularity Contest

Much-Discussed as Well as Little-Known
When comic-books are coming out (and long after their release) some find themselves with immense popularity and others struggle to gain much recognition. A number of factors can play a role here, from advertising, to word-of-mouth, how well-known the creator of a book is, what company publishes it, and plenty more elements. The quality of a book matters too, obviously, but there are a ton of critical darlings just as smash-hit garbage can exist too. With the idea of how some comics get immense buzz and others fly under the radar a concept inn mind let's review some assorted books of varying popularity!

The Books Many (or Few) Have Read
Babyteeth #11
While the writer of this series (Donny Cates) might be writing some red-hot titles for Marvel where he signed an exclusivity deal (his time on, "Thanos," sold like hotcakes), this little book he's been working away on for Aftershock (he started it before the deal, hence being allowed to continue it) hasn't quite gotten the same degree of buzz since a bit of interest when it first launched. The concept has been great--a teenage girl named Sadie gives birth to an Antichrist she names Clark and lots of people have motives relating to that--and the series has had Cates mixture of wit, action, and heartfelt moments. Perhaps because the book lacks any big-name superheroes people just aren't as aware of this as say, his re-launched version of, "Venom." That's as shame as the series continues to be a great read, using this issue to tell us about what is basically a version of Hell that Clark has ended-up within whle Sadie and others hope to go into to rescue him. As this issue makes clear however that isn't going to be an easy feat. It's a quieter issue that serves more of a purpose of setting-up the next big conflict (going into Hell)  than anything else, but Cates always keeps things interesting.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Black Hammer: The Dark Age #3
Jeff Lemire's comics about the world of, "Black Hammer," have been a certifiable surprise hit for Dark Horse, with a variety of spin-off books either having come-out or in the process of starting-up whilst the main series wrapped its first arc and then launched into this new, "Dark Age." The series has always been interestingly meta and minimalist, with heroes who defeated a huge evil force finding themselves stuck for years in a weird happy little town that's almost like an otherwordly limbo--one they want out of. Lemire has thankfully kept interesting developments coming quickly enough with shocking twists and turns (and just enough answers that this doesn't feel like a never-ending barrage of mysteries) that I've been loving the book. As I mentioned this has been a meta-styled comic, and that is ever the more apparent here as a character finds themselves peeking-in at various, "Stories," with some looking quite familiar (I see you, "Sweet Tooth," another work of Lemire!). It is discussed how all stories are in a way true and its delightfully odd. It serves as yet another example of why, "Black Hammer," has been such a fantastic comic and will hopefully continue to be a rollicking read.
5 out of 5 stars.

Damage #6
A lot of books launched as a part of DC's, "New Age of Heroes," and sadly many of them have either done modest numbers or outright flopped hard enough that it looks questionable if a single title will even make it to issue #12. That's a shame as despite some weaker books coming out there has been some solid reads such as the horror-comic within the DCU, "The Curse of Brimstone," the joyfully weird, "The Terrifics," and of course the comic I'm reviewing here, DC's kinda-Hulk, "Damage." The main character is a main named Evan who every 24 hours can transform into a big monster. He's on the run from the Government and in the process has bumped into all sorts of DC heroes and villains. Like, almost too many, with it feeling a bit like the comic is throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what--if anything--will stick. I can practically hear DC going, "Maybe have Damage fight Poison Ivy? No wait, Gorilla Grodd? Throw in some Swamp Thing too perhaps, something has got to boost sales!" As it is, this is a solidly entertaining comic and it is sad to see it along with most other of the newest DC books not quite finding their footing in the same way as re-launches of popular properties such as, "Justice League," seem to be succeeding.
3 out of 5 stars.

Bloodstrike: Brutalists #0
The early Image comics of the 1990's were of course big sellers, and they have been reinterpreted many times by creators at the publisher since. However, when I heard Michel Fife (a creator whose work I love) was going to be bringing his interesting art sensibility often found in more indie-circles to the quite mainstream, "Bloodstrike," I was intrigued to see this artsy-meets-commercial creation. Well, having the read first AKA zero issue I had a stellar time reading this! Fife gives everything a nice retro vibe mixed with his modern sheen and a few short pieces by other talented creators such as Benjamin Marra and Charles Forsman help round-out this delightfully oxymoron futuristic take on the past. It's some good stuff.
5 out of 5 stars.

Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #110
"Tarot," is not a massively popular property by any means. You don't see merchandise of the character in Target like other big-name entities, after all. That said, "Tarot," is probably the closest thing to an exact definition of a cult-favorite comic-book than anything else you'd come up with. After all, this series by Jim Balent and Holly GoLightly has been in print for over a decade and has gone past 100 issues--a major accomplishment for any comic, be it put-out by a big publisher or small one. A lot of success is owed to how, "Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose," has its general focus on Wicca and enjoyable cheesecake imagery, but besides that the comic is not beholden to any specific storytelling genres. Sometimes the book is more fantastical, other times scary, it maybe riffs on super-heroes, or has a humor-focused issue. It has its foundation but always builds interesting and new things upon this base, and that keeps readers coming back. This issue is in the vein of a big and epic story, with a lot of text accompanying various images. It is more Tarot-y goodness and sure to please any fans of the series!
4 out of 5 stars.

Thor #1
While there was a time his comics were doing so poorly Marvel actually killed him off for a couple years, Thor has lately been big business thanks to his movies and a number of high-profile comic events. We've got yet another re-launch of the book with the generally-great writer Jason Aaron at the helm (as he has been for a good deal of Thor's adventures lately). A new Marvel #1 generally sees a boost in sales, but does the latest relaunch of, "Thor," at least justify this stunt after Marvel made such a fuss about big ol' numbering for the failure that was, "Marvel Legacy," or is it a hollow effort? To answer that question, I'll say the comic is fine, but nothing screams that its some brand-new epic start to the saga of Thor. He still isn't, "Worthy," of holding the hammer as he has been dealing with lately, but is going by Thor again after Jane Foster has finished her stint as the character. It feels like we are just joining a lot of stories-in-progress in the main part of the comic and a back-up story reintroducing some characters from yet another run on a, "Thor," book Jason Aaron did before is solid too, but nothing amazing. It's just a passable comic that doesn't really make it clear why a, "#1," was needed as if marking some kind of special occasion. It'll still sell a ton of copies I bet though.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

Uber: Invasion #13
"Uber," and its sequel series, "Uber: Invasion," have been steady sellers for publisher Avatar Press, as writer Kieron Gillen imagines an Earth where World War II was horrifically prolonged by the development of Superhumans by the Nazis and then other nations as they struggled to catch-up. This series has been as dark and depressing as you could imagine, bringing a Garth Ennis-level detail to discussing warfare tactics within the comic plus a mixture of gruesome gore as these human, "Battleships," rip into one another. While this isn't some mega-seller, in terms of the kind of profits a smaller comic-publisher might like to achieve, "Uber/Uber: Invasion," has been a consistent winner. This issue moves the plot along, introducing some new wrinkles to fighting on, "The Eastern Front," as the Soviets find themselves beginning to struggle further in the war. Also, we meet one of the most hideous and deformed powered-characters yet, a design that is as interesting to witness as it is disgusting. I mean, "Uber," has never been known for skimping on gore or twisted flesh along with interesting alternative-takes on history, and this is more of that which is sure to continue being a solid seller for Avatar.
4 out of 5 stars.

Becoming Renowned or Possibly Suffering in Obscurity
Sometimes a comic is a hit, other times its a steady-seller, cult classic, or just kinda fails. I said quality matters, and I mean that, but we all know that one big element of comic-books is how at the end of the day it is a bit of a popularity contest. We all want the, "Hot," books and the ones less sought-after end-up in a dollar bin. It is nice when something is great and sells a bunch of copies too, of course. I just get sad when the things I love are cancelled, but so it goes.

Thoughts on the Controversy of the Life and Death of XXXTentacion, and How So Many Music Artists Get a, "Pass," for Terrible Actions

From the little I would hear in music-news about XXXTentacion he sounded horrible. He was a man who beat a girlfriend of his (Geneva Ayala) so badly she suffered nerve damage in her eye, bragged about assaulting gay people, and got in violent altercations with supposed fans. He was shot and died on Monday or as The New Yorker described it in a headline, "The Violent Life and Shocking Death of XXXTentacion." That piece delves into just how terrible a person XXXTentacion sounded like he was, observing his career was also growing and he seemed on the verge of something--the question is what, exactly? A timeline of his career paints a picture of someone who maybe had musical talent, sure, but was also a complete fucking monster.

His death has resulted in people mourning him in regards to his, "Growth," and, "Potential," but frankly even daring to put him in the same echelon of other rappers who tragically died violently seems absurd. He was no Tupac, no Biggie, no Jam Master Jay. He was an awful person who died the way he lived--violently. Many people gave XXXTentacion a pass for how he seemed to basically be a sociopath--I guess it helps he made songs that were apparently catchy enough to overlook his disregard for basic decency towards others?
Geneva Ayala after being attacked by XXXTentacion.

XXXTentacion has died, and death is tragic in general. I know many people are sad XXXTentacion has died, and I am too. I am sad things got to a point where he acted the way he did, lived life in the manner he chose, and people rewarded him for it with big record contracts. I wish he could have had the chance to be a better person who made music folk enjoyed and who also wasn't a violent abuser. There are many music artists whose work I have enjoyed who have done bad things at one time or another in their life (even John Lennon had admitted to having a pretty bad dark side, the dude who wrote the song, "Imagine," all about peace and love), but XXXTentacion didn't make a mistake here-or-there, he consistently and habitually hurt others out of anger or for a sick thrill.

Just because a song is catchy or a verse is really good that doesn't mean we give music-artists a pass or ignore the troubling aspects of their history. After all, despite his musical genius Ike Turner was a very disturbed and violent man, Elvis had a thing for underage girls, Sid Vicious murdered Nancy, and who even can keep count anymore of the sex-crime allegations against R. Kelly? We can't bury the less-glowing aspects of the past, but we can quit rewarding bad behavior in the present. XXXTentacion was a big example of someone doing all the wrong things yet having everything still go right for least, until his propensity for violence caught-up with him.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I'm Astounded, "Doomsday Clock," Has Been Good

"Doomsday Clock," as a title published by DC Comics sounded like such a loaded proposition. A sequel to, "Watchmen," of sorts that links it and the, "Regular," DC Universe could be an utter travesty, after all. There is the fact that Alan Moore has been against all the things DC has done with the, "Watchmen," property, rightly feeling what should have become a creator-owned property was ripped-out from under him once it had success. Also, "Watchmen," is in most ways a masterpiece--albeit an admittedly flawed one with a slightly weak ending and some boneheaded ideas about sexual violence. That said, I was moderately impressed with the first issue of, "Doomsday Clock," as I saw some potential there with the story appearing to be done the one way I think it could work, and that trend has continued.

This comic would suck if it just had been an example of, "Wouldn't it be cool if Rorschach and Batman fought while Doctor Manhattan and Superman fought?" However, if you get kind of meta and point-out how, "Watchmen," as a comic very much so changed all other comics with its existence things get interesting--an idea clearly being explored with its repeatedly discussed how DC's normal world strikes the characters of, "Watchmen," as a hilariously basic Good versus Evil, black-and-white, when these characters think of themselves as existing in shades of gray. The idea that Doctor Manhattan is hiding somewhere in the DCU as it fits his hopes for a simpler world is both incredibly self-aware of DC to print discussion of and almost a little self-deprecating in a way--I appreciate them not protesting writer Geoff Johns doing this. Using, "Doomsday Clock," to create a commentary on comics themselves--much as, "Watchmen," did back in the 80's allows the book to actually kid of, "Work," and not just seem like a big indulgence in fan-service for the sake of a cash-grab (like how, "Before Watchmen," was atrocious and thankfully is basically not in the continuity of all this).
Ozymandias mocks Batman and, "Pulp heroes."
"Doomsday Clock," is still an affront to the wishes of Alan Moore, but it is doing things the one way it could to kind of get away with being as tasteless as it is clever. Plus, artist Gary Frank is a genius and makes everything look amazing regardless of if it is characters simply talking or a page utilizing the familiar nine-panel grid of, "Watchmen," to illustrate Batman being beat-up and battered by an angry crowd. The book is by no means perfect, with an element about how most superheroes are American and it might be a conspiracy being a subplot that is simmering away but not yet at a boil, and a new wrinkle of Black Adam popping-up talking about a super-powered country unclear in what role it will play in the comic. Also, yet another side-element of the JSA from the past/another timeline and Saturn Girl from yet another timeline/possible future is making things extra dense as, "Doomsday Clock," threatens to buckle under the numerous stories all occurring at once. Oh, and I didn't even mention the weird duo of costumed criminals (Marionette and Mime) retroactively created as existing within the, "Watchmen World," and who are just kind of sauntering around looking for the Joker for...reasons?

As of now the plots seem to be very carefully balancing themselves out but I worry things will collapse into a confusing mess. The fact issue #4 was focused mainly upon one character (Rorschach and who this seemingly new version of the hero is) made things nice and simple compared to the sheer volume of stuff occurring before it and in the most recent issue #5. We are about at the halfway-point of this 12-issue maxi-series however and things are working well so far, so I'm optimistic. My hope is that "Doomsday Clock," will keep chugging along nicely despite it already suffering a number of annoying delays that kind of hurt its momentum. Again though, the biggest takeaway here is how astounding it is that, "Doomsday Clock," has been good. Here's hoping once it is finished and collected in a nice big trade paperback it all still holds together nicely.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Jurassic World: Evolution--Impressions Some Hours In

I love Dinosaurs, I am a fan of (most) of the, "Jurassic Park/World," films, and I have an affinity for video-games when I'm able to play them. Therefore, back a number of years ago I had a lot of fun playing a game titled, "Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis," on my Xbox. That game now is old and actually kind of rare, but I had hours of entertainment building my own Jurassic Park full of dinosaurs big and small back in the past. Hence, when it was announced some months ago we would be getting, "Jurassic World: Evolution," and be able to design our own Dino-filled parks again in this era of extra-fancy consoles and computers I got excited.

As much as I enjoyed, "Operation Genesis," the graphics could be lacking and the dinosaurs looked awfully basic. As long as this new game managed to be a solid park-building sim and remembered the main reason we're all here--dinosaurs--it should be fun, right? Well, having played a good deal of hours of, "Evolution," I can say from what I've seen so far it is a really exciting game only occasionally bogged-down by annoying and somewhat unneeded micro-management.
"Jurassic World: Evolution," tasks you with going to various islands with unique aspects (bad storms, losing money) and making a profitable, safe-ish, and enjoyable place for guests. You start out on one island, can leap between unlocked ones at any time to put advancements gained at one on another, and otherwise get to test out various designs and ideas on separate islands (or a sandbox-style island where you can craft whatever you like that apparently unlocks later-on). You build the fences, breed the Dinosaurs, and place them in environs that appeal to the creatures based on how they feel about trees, grasslands, and other species present. I've made good-sized pens full of social herbivores, smaller areas with grass-eaters less eager to be crowded, and crafted some electrified zones to hold the more dangerous and carnivorous creatures such as medium-sized meat-eaters and the small but deadly Velociraptor.

To keep guests further sated I've built gift shops, fast food buildings, t-shirt stores, and of course deluxe hotels to encourage greater park attendance. Plus, putting down some emergency shelters in case of a Dino-escape happens helps put people at ease too. The guests actually aren't really a focus in the game, however. You can't click on them or anything, they are just various clumps of people who you look at genralized stats about to know where to place some shopping. Guests are just a means to an end in this game, honestly, and that end is more and more incredible Dinosaurs.
The game doesn't tell you much about guests or bother to even render them that differently, but Dinosaurs are a polar opposite. Every Dino looks so lovingly crafted in its appearance it is positively striking. The detailed stats about how each specific one is feeling lets you know everything about what they like and don't like. It is breathtaking to zoom-in or drive the ranger jeep around and just gawk at these beings. They are simply polygons on a television screen/computer monitor but the most important thing, "Jurassic World: Evolution," needed to do right in order to succeed is what it excels at--making these Dinosaurs feel utterly real and breathtaking. The awe I feel watching a herd wander around by a pond and socialize with one another is wonderful, and something I keep coming back to when the when less-pleasurable aspects of the game rear their head.

When, "Jurassic World: Evolution," gets caught-up in duller details it makes me testy. For example: the park needs to be powered, which requires constantly laying down power lines, substations, and keeping your power stations going. It becomes an annoying mini-game of figuring out where you can place lines and such to keep things functioning. Once everything is working you then have to send expeditions out for fossils, examine those fossils in the lab to unlock dinosaurs, and otherwise click around a lot of screens just to be able to breed a damn Dinosaur. Then, you can tweak Dinos genes in interesting ways, but if you want to do that you need to research everything--another screen--and you maybe are too busy to research gene modifications because you're trying to develop the ability to treat some new disease making all your creatures sick, but you lack a medication, and once you finally have a cure you have to click each Dinosaur one at a time for your rangers to shoot treatment darts at--unless you upgrade your ranger station to allow more items on their, "to-do list." But wait, that requires extra power, which brings us all the back to that pain in the ass power station we need to keep functional! All I wanted to do was enjoy hatching some new Dinosaurs, but sometimes the game clearly gets in its own way in regards to it best feature.
The annoying barrage of screens you have to muck-around with in order to simply grow some Dinosaurs is a big pain, and little things that would make it easier aren't present that should be--perhaps your rangers could automatically re-stock Dinosaur-feeders instead of you always having to order them to do it or driving the jeep yourself? Still, once you finish the busy-work and get to just marvel at your creations as they frolic much of the irritation melts last until your raptors escape for the second time in 15 minutes and your stupid helicopter-team keeps missing in their attempts to tranquilize them whilst guests panic.

During the time I've spent playing, "Jurassic World: Evolution," on my PlayStation 4 I've unlocked various islands, bred exotic dinosaurs, and tried to come up with the perfect way to connect a monorail track, to name a few activities. I have had a great deal of fun without a doubt. I also have at times felt like I was doing tedious busy-work or been perturbed at design decisions that make things unnecessarily complicated and which could otherwise be pretty simple. That said, "Jurassic World: Evolution," is a gorgeous game full of exciting moments that only are occasionally tempered bydull bits here-and-there. A few flaws don't ruin an otherwise delightful time, and I'd recommend trying this game out for sure!
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day!

Clarkson taking a nap today.
Happy Father's Day! This is my second year as a Daddy to Clarkson and it continues to be a fantastic adventure. I hope everyone has a delightful time today!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Flashback Friday: The Alternatively Brilliant and Bizarre, "Secret Girlfriend," T.V. Show

I thought about doing this as a, "Television Tuesday," post but it so old, "Flashback Friday," makes more sense. Okay, so there was a television show that had a short six-episode first season on Comedy Central and then disappeared from the memories of basically everyone but myself and maybe a handful of other folk. It aired from October of 2009 to November of 2009, so short-lived is an understatement. It was both brilliant and quirky at times when not being completely and utterly terrible. It was disgustingly sexist yet almost self-aware enough when it was being that way as to make you think it had a clever probably didn't though. It was "Secret Girlfriend," and its whole saga is downright weird.

Apparently, "Secret Girlfriend," was at first a series of comedic web-shorts on the now long-defunct, "Atomic Wedgie," website. You see, kids, back before YouTube there were various websites that would have their staff post random cartoon shorts or live-action stuff. You had to actually buy bandwidth and junk if you wanted a video online, you couldn't just use YouTube for free in hopes of becoming internet-famous. These, "Secret Girlfriend," web-shorts featured the viewer as the main-character in a point-of-view fashion where women flirted with you and acted in various silly ways whilst getting disrobed to an appropriately PG-13 degree. Anyways, the web-bits were popular enough that Comedy Central paid a little bit of money for a show to be made titled--you guessed it--"Secret Girlfriend."
A screen-shot of the internet shorts that got a series order (with a new cast).
As the opening credits of every episode of, "Secret Girlfriend," tell you, the main character of the show is you, the viewer. Well, kinda. Basically, you're apparently this super-sexy, funny, smart, charming guy who women stare at lustfully. Also, you leer at women constantly, looking at their asses, breasts, and if they notice you doing so they just smile. It's a textbook example of the male gaze because you literally are nothing more than a male gazing, according to the concept of the show. You have an ex-girlfriend named Mandy (Alexis Krause) who is so over-the-top viewers are supposed to hate her, but she actually kind of has a point about your character being awful considering how much, "You," cheat on her--you're supposedly broken-up but always have sex with her when the chance arises. There is also a girl named Jessica (Sara Fletcher) you meet in the first episode and who is probably the only female character ever developed to be more than one-dimensional. She's funny, clever, and logical. Lastly, there are your two best friends, Sam (Michael Blaiklock) and Phil (Derek Miller). The majority of what I like in the show is thanks to them.

"You," never speak during, "Secret Girlfriend." Your face or hands are never even visible but sometimes a phone will pop-up to indicate you're texting. The show will do quick little cuts where if someone asks you question it then jumps to a few moments later when that person reacts to what you said. Basically, you're silent but assured by the show that you're hilarious, sexy, and desirable to many, many women. Every episode has some kind of PG-13 sex-scene where there is suggestive moaning and close-ups on a woman's face as she looks ecstatic. It is tacky and dumb. Yet, then we have Phil and Sam, and goddamn if they aren't hilarious. Apparently some of the writers behind this show went on to work at other programs I've loved such as, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," or, "Arrested Development," and the hi-jinks we witness, "You," Sam, and Phil get up to reflect some of that in the quirky humor.
In one episode the guys come-up with an idea to make a web video promoting a strip club's incredibly tasty buffet. Sam poses as a big baby with green-screen over his mouth so they can make him talk. It is pointed out he can actually talk repeatedly to humorous effect. In another episode Sam and Phil adopt a dog they name, "Chill," as it is incredibly lazy. They push it around on pallet or in a shopping cart. He dies suddenly a few days after being adopted and we get a touching montage of the limited footage they made with him and a picture of the empty pallet with text honoring how Chill lived with the guys, "Wednesday-Friday." Oh, and there is when Phil realizes his phone number is similar to a crisis hotline and uses that fact to hook-up with women and even make a commercial about it...until he gets in trouble, at which point he makes another commercial about how he is sorry and needs a kind woman to help better him (and of course sleep with him). Not all of the jokes involve Sam and Phil, but many of the best ones do (although I did love when Mandy meets Jessica and a lie is concocted to claim she is your cousin...which results in Mandy oddly getting more jealous before singing a song about the dangers of incest at an open-mic night). Sam and Phil are not good people, they are pretty awful much like the characters on, "Sunny." They're funny though.

Also, one interesting wrinkle to things is how it is strongly implied that Sam and Phil are not merely platonic but might in fact be together. They always talk about finding women, yet in one episode Phil mentions having dated men, and in another when mourning the death of their dog, Sam and Phil hug closely and almost kiss. They make jokes about how masturbation is, "Gay," because you're touching another man's penis, but even if it is gay they don't mind for...reasons. The concept of Sam and Phil possibly being bisexual is plainly there, but never played for laughs so much as just an idea that's more than hinted at, but not completely present. It's weirdly progressive for a show that treats women mostly as sexual objects--except for some lesbian characters who are understood to not be into men, but are still fun to watch kiss, as Sam and Phil declare.
"You," finally hook-up with your dream girl...
and then immediately want to bail.
One saving grace for all the sexism becomes apparent in the final and sixth episode where it is actually hinted that maybe--just maybe--your character is the bad guy. You see, at the end of episode five Jessica has broken-up with an on-again-off-again boyfriend and is ready to be with you. This results in you finally having had sex with her during episode six and things seeming actually pretty swell. She is an awesome person after-all, as the show has made apparent. The thing is, you still keep leering at other women, and Sam and Phil talk about how you've never been the kind to be tied-down. Then in the final moments of the episode Jessica and Mandy get into a brawl that results in them falling into a pool as they fight, and a neighbor of yours who we have seen at times during the season notices you at the party and asks if you want to leave with her...then the show cuts to black.

Based on the past actions, "You," have taken all season this episode puts a lot in perspective. I mean, Mandy maybe was kinda crazy but you were always still leading her on with sex whilst hooking up with other women. Jessica is the girl you've supposedly longed after for quite a bit of time, but once she's actually with you it is easy to throw it all away. Is it possible that, "Secret Girlfriend," has maybe, just maybe been quietly and expertly laying the groundwork to help viewers conclude in the end how all along it turns out, "You," aren't as awesome, desirable, and stellar as you've been led to believe? Maybe you're actually just a jerk who uses women and then ditches them? Is the final twist that this show loaded with crass jokes, sexist imagery, and which as I said is basically the male gaze distilled into its purest form turns out to be weirdly self-aware and making a cynical and dark comment, as the bits with Phil and Sam hinted at? I guess its possible, or maybe the show really was just kind of like a raunchy beer ad from the 2000's stretched-out into a half-hour with the occasional brilliant joke mixed-in between all the offensive misogyny. Six of one, half a dozen of the other, I guess.
The unnamed neighbor-girl that, "You," possibly leave with,
ditching two women who care a lot about your jerk-character.
"Secret Girlfriend," probably was destined to only last one short season. It was just too weird for many people and the gimmick of, "You," being the main character would have worn thin the longer they kept it going. The actors involved in the show went on to do other things and probably rarely even think about this series. Oh, although we do see Tiffany Haddish too, who has a tiny bit-role from long before she became famous in the first episode as a drunk co-worker of Jessica who hits on you. The series can be bought and downloaded on iTunes or via Amazon's digital options and if you want to witness something phenomenally weird I'd encourage you to check it out.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

A Lot of Folk are Suddenly Leaving DC

I made this meme, I'm proud.
Seriously, no other Kermit-drinking-tea-memes exist.
DC Comics has had its quite successful, "Rebirth," occur, that's a good thing. There have been little hints here and there however that some things were amiss or going to be changing. There has been much going on at DC with lines seeming to end (Young Animal), coming back (Vertigo), plus new lines (Black Label), as well as talk of needing to figure out what to do with the film division and the importance keeping the many television shows profitable--and always, when things change people jockey for power.  Well, after what was supposedly a temporary leave of absence that started in March, DC's Entertainment President Diane Nelson made it official she wasn't coming back. Then Geoff Johns stepped-down as COO but in the process gets to make his own company (Mad Ghost Productions) which will be involved in the creation of a DC movie about the Green Lantern Corps and this new role will keep him involved in DC T.V. productions as well as getting his own DC imprint (yes, another new one), "The Killing Zone." Whether Johns was forced out and this is a, "Golden Parachute," of sorts or he wanted to strike-out on his own but still have heavy involvement with DC is a question nobody is gonna answer honestly.

We had those two big exits happen from DC (well, a half-exit for Johns) and then Ethan Van Sciver made it apparent he was departing DC for the sole reason to focus on creator-owned work, and absolutely no other reason--like how he's made many people angry through his association with terrible people such as the idiots of Comicsgate who basically exist because they dislike women and diversity in comic-books. Yeah, methinks DC told him he could either leave or be let-go, and he chose the route that looked better for him. Oh, and on top of all this going on it seems the Batman movie that's been in development Hell for what feels forever won't even have Ben Affleck involved as Bruce Wayne/Batman anymore. Keep in mind this was going to be a movie he directed and starred in, then wasn't going to direct but at least be in, and now who the Hell knows what is going on besides hopefully at least Director Matt Reeves (who my heart goes out to for being what is essentially the captain of a movie that's the metaphorical equivalent of a sinking ship)?
I mean, Ben Affleck actually did a solid job with some miserable material in these movies.
Everyone at DC in an executive or creative position continue to assure everyone things are fine and these changes are for the better. It strikes me as purse chaos, but maybe things will in fact work out for the best? After all, the film division (other than the, "Wonder Woman," flicks) is a huge mess, certain aspects of the comic-line are shaky and need extra loving focus. Hopefully all of the changes happening at DC are carefully planned, being executed precisely, and this isn't just one big clusterfuck where we get a calm and optimistic veneer being shown to outside world that's hiding a core which is literally rotting-away as it sheds a bunch of employees. I mean, if we at least get a good Aquaman movie from all the crazy stuff going on that's worth it, right?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Real Deal Comix is as Nasty and Violent as it is Funny and Clever

From 1990 to present there has been an underground comic published off-and-on titled, "Real Deal Comix." Created by Lawrence Hubbard (AKA, "Rawdog,") and H.P. McElwee (AKA R.D. Bone) they both took the money they had from their jobs to put-out a periodical absurdly over-the-top and full of what they described as, "Urban Terror." McElwee Sadly passed away at the age of 43 due to a stroke followed by a heart attack in the 1990's but Hubbard has continued the comic with a variety of contributors too. Just what is, "Real Deal Comix," and what is, "Urban Terror," at that?

In the first issue Hubbard and McElwee said, "Urban Terror," was in essence a reflection of the complexities and difficulties of inter-city life boiled down to pure wild violence. Everyday events such as getting some fast food or relaxing over drinks at a bar suddenly erupt into a, "Massacre," of everyone punching, stabbing, and shooting. The comic often will focus on the character of, "G.C.," a large and anger-prone pimp who will just as quickly give a friend a hug as curb-stomp a homeless person who irritates him. Earlier issues also had a twisted version of The "A" Team called instead, The "R" Team who operate like a uber-violent and twisted version of that popular crew. 
I was able to read the first seven issues by purchasing a big Fantagraphics hardcover reprinting them and picked-up the most recent release of issue #8--now published by Fantagraphics as opposed to its underground days. They hit you right in face with the brutality expressed by these characters with caricature-ish faces yet realistic bodies (something Hubbard said he focuses on doing in his drawing in an interview I read within the hardcover). The vignettes we witness drawn by Hubbard (and initially written by McElwee) are full of foul language, anger, and everyone within the stories tends to be just an awful human. It is all done with a bit of a wink however and some super-dark humor. 

For an example of some immensely, "Wrong," humor, one of my favorite bits is when at the end of G.C. and a friend totally wrecking a, "Slop-burger," with their fighting they throw someone's dead body upon a car. A man declares how that was his his new vehicle and is asked what he thinks he's going to do about it. We get a spread of the burning Slop-burger and him simply responding, "Not a Goddamn thing," knowing any cross word could easily get him killed.
"Real Deal Comix," is not a pleasant or easy read. It is full of horrific slurs, extreme violence, and is just incredibly nasty. It is doing this to illustrate a clever self-aware point however about how for all the ways we try to act polite and civilized we as a society often are on a razor's edge of it all falling apart and everyone just fighting and killing each other--think Thomas Hobbes', "Leviathan," and his statements about life being, "Nasty, brutish, and short," if not for humankind agreeing to try and be orderly instead of living in anarchic chaos. Well, in "Real Deal Comix," anarchic chaos is the deal of the day and for many people life is a nasty and brutish as it can get, and very short.

These sociopolitical ideas actually are further touched upon in the newest issue #8 where G.C. meets a mysterious individual who informs G.C. he's been working to get rich off of the violence and mayhem caused by our protagonist and laughing all the way to the bank whilst the minority and impoverished individuals suffer. As is evident, beneath the over-the-top violence and mayhem lie some very insightful ideas within, "Real Deal Comix."
Hubbard and the sadly-departed McElwee created something supremely weird and fascinating with, "Real Deal Comix," and Hubbard continues to keep things entertaining as he does the book with various collaborators. The, "Real Deal Comix," comic-books are not laid-back breezy reads, they are nasty and rough. They still are very clever and quite funny too though and worth checking-out if you're into comic-books with a bit more of a edge.
5 out of 5 stars.
You can buy the, "Real Deal Comix," hardcover as well as issue #8 at Fantagraphic's website and all finer comic shops.

Monday, June 11, 2018

I Found an Actual Chick Tract in the Oddest Place

My wife, son, and I drove to Upstate New York to visit my folks recently. On the long drive back to Saint Louis we were at a big gas station/truck stop in Illinois and Clarkson needed a fresh diaper. I went to open the changer and lodged within where fresh paper liners are supposed to be stored (almost no place actually stocks it) was a bona fide Chick Tract, put there by someone who I guess wanted to spread their idea of the gospel.

A, "Chick Tract," is the slang term for comics created by Jack T. Chick, who passed away some time ago, but while alive made very many mini-comics that espoused far-right evangelical takes on Christianity. He made comics discussing the dangers of Dungeons and Dragons, homosexuality, rock music, Catholicism, Evolution, and basically anything that he judged sinful and would keep people from getting to hang-out in Heaven with Jesus when they died. Since Chick's death the company behind the tracts (Chick Publications) has had other authors make strips, but the one I found, "Fatal Decision" is a, "Classic," by Chick himself. It features a guy named John who is bitten by an animal, refuses treatment from the doctor, and dies. The idea is we refuse, "treatment," from Jesus or something. It's a metaphor, kinda?
I'm just amazed that I found a Chick Tract lodged in a diaper-changer in the middle of a truck-stop in Illinois. It was the most random thing to stumble upon for sure. I guess I'll take one aspect of the comic to heart, and if I'm ever bit by a mysterious creature and the doctor has a cure for me I won't refuse it.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

My Quick Thought on Gamestop Testing-Out Selling Comics

Background Information
Gamestop as a video-game retailer is dying a painfully slow death, with much of the wounds self-inflicted through their obsessive desire to shove pre-orders down customer's throats as well as relentlessly promoting pre-owned games when all someone might want is a game that just came out instead of solving a mental puzzle. Because Gamestop has had so much trouble with being a decent seller of games they now sell a lot of other stuff in stores, "Geek"-related toys, decor, and of course Funko Pops. Apparently in an attempt to stop hemorrhaging money Gamestop will be testing-out selling comic-books. If people will be able to have pull-lists, what titles exactly will be available, and all of that seem to be unclear. This background information all leads to my quick thought...

My Quick Thought on Gamestop Trying to Sell Comics
If we all hate how terrible Gamestop is at what should be the relatively simple business of selling video-games do we really expect them to have much success at the complex business of comic-books? Skilled comic retailers know what new books to recommend to potential buyers weekly, observe what sells versus what doesn't to adjust orders, watch market-trends, find out what local customers want, or basically do anything besides the crappy job Gamestop does of harassing you every single time you buy anything to get some kind of expensive rewards program, or pointless insurance on your game disc, and so forth. This could go well, but I'm thinking it mostly won't. The headline from the Outhousers, "Gamestop To Bolster Falling Game Sales With Comics Sales," is snarky as Hell, but also quite apt.

Friday, June 8, 2018

DC's Vertigo Line Rises From the (Sort-of) Dead

DC has long struggled about what to do with its Vertigo line. What was once a home to some of the biggest comics has for a good deal of time chugged along with barely anything of note coming out besides the occasional revisit to Neil Gaiman's mythos of, "Sandman," or such. Well, Vertigo just announced what is in essence a relaunch featuring a focus on a wide variety of creators in the hopes a wide-ranging line of titles will appeal to potential new readers with Mark Doyle (someone who got their start in comics with Vertigo) overseeing this new iteration. The press-release has buzz-words such as, "Returning to our roots," and, "New stories, new voices, new possibilities," but corporate-speak aside, the seven books that have been announced as spearheading this era of Vertigo do at least sound like the kind of quirky and unique reads it was once known for. 

The books include a tale of a superhero meeting Jesus in, "Second Coming," a funny-sounding sci-fi thriller about the regulation of pleasure titled, "Safe Sex," or a clever fantasy-political yarn where the damage of mystical monsters is blamed on, "Illegals," in, "Border State," these titles sound funny and interesting. It isn't all humorous stuff however, with the story of a biracial FBI agent passing as caucasian in a white supremacist group within, "American Carnage," sounding appropriately intense. There's also futuristic-sounding stuff like, "Goddess Mode," with its super-powered artificial intelligence and the woman who does tech support on it as well as, "High Level," set in the future after the world ended and rebuilt itself in odd ways. Oh, and a comic about witches brainwashed to become subservient housewives who of course are going to get some revenge, which sounds hilarious. 
Pretty much all of the seven announced comics in Veritgo's rise-from-the-grave sound interesting and I would hope they are all good reads. We will see this latest attempt to reinvigorate DC's original mature-readers line will succeed or wither on the vine. Whatever happens, at least we'll get that really striking cover for, "Safe Sex," you can see above that just looks like a cool and edgy piece of art.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

I Loved Visiting, "Heroes and Villains," in Cortland, NY!

I of course lived in Cortland, New York, from the Summer of 2003 to about August of 2011 when I moved to the Saint Louis region. I was actually living in Cortland when I began the blog and at the start of this Summer we have had the chance to take Clarkson to Cortland for his first-ever visit to where my parents (his grandparents) and my sister (his aunt) live. He's been enjoying crawling around my folk's house and witnessed the big Cortland Dairy Parade as well. While we've been here in Cortland I had the chance to visit the local comic shop, "Heroes and Villains," which was stellar fun!

I loved stopping by, "Heroes and Villains," as they had just opened when we last were in town and now have been in Cortland for a few years, which has resulted in them growing to have a nice selection of trade paperbacks/hardcovers, back-issues, and of course the latest releases. Whenever I visit a comic shop I am always impressed when they don't just carry the, "Big," titles but have a good assortment of smaller publishers too. "Heroes and Villains," of course had DC and Marvel titles, but also had a stellar selection of stuff from entities such as popular publishers IDW, Dynamite, and Image plus smaller but awesome companies including Alterna, Lion Forge, and local creators self-published books too!
I had a wonderful time chatting with one of the owners about our feelings regarding the latest comic-book movies as well as the surprising fan backlash against, "Star Wars," that seems to have occurred lately. She was extremely helpful in assisting me in locating some titles I was after and I was super-pumped to buy a bundle-set the store had made of some old Moon Knight comics--which as anyone who reads this blog knows, I love me some Moon Knight.

I also picked-up an assortment of back-issues including an old, "Cable," mini-series, and some manga-styled work from local creator, "Noel Comix." There was plenty of other pop-culture goodies as well including action figures, general fun fiction books, and of course my beloved Funko Pops. Plus, there was space for tabletop gaming and other fun events.
"Heroes and Villains," is a stellar local comic shop and my only complaint is that they didn't exist when I lived in town! That's alright though, as their being here now gives me a fun store to look forward to visiting anytime Samii, Clarkson, and I make the trek to upstate NY. I encourage you to check out their website here as well as their Facebook page found at this link. Anytime you're in or near Cortland be sure to give them a visit too, between their great selection and awesome employees they've got a delightful store for sure!