Friday, February 21, 2020

A Smattering of Later February 2020 News and Links

We Approach February's End
It's February 21st and the end of the month is nearing. We get one extra day this year in the form of February 29th, so that is snazzy. Plus, Clarkson's third birthday is the 28th, which normally is the last day of the month except for unique years like this (some people incorrectly think he was almost a leap year baby, he was born in 2017 however so he would've just been born March 1st if it weren't February 28th). Now that I'm done breaking-down the calendar, here are some news and links.

Stuff For Your Reading Enjoyment
This piece by Lyz Lenz for Jezebel examines the stark decline of the Miss America pageant from its glory days and looks at what's left with the question what it is like to be, "....placed on a throne without a kingdom while no one watched.

My thoughts on the latest season of, "The Bachelor," were recently posted and I find it entertaining but messy. The AV Club thinks it is too toxic to be fun and Vulture continues to kill it with their episode recaps. As the finale approaches it is going to be a glorious heap of drama.

Friend of the blog Kevin Kessler recently posted online how issues of his comic I quite enjoyed, "Universilent," can now be purchased for digital reading on Comixology!

The staff at The Root calculated how much taxpayers are spending for Trump to be able to play golf as much as he does. It turns out he's the 10th highest paid, "Athlete," in America in terms of cost.

Covid-19 or as it is casually called, "The Coronavirus," which has been spreading at an alarming rate continues to worry me. It is harder to contain than SARS and the exact lethality is hard to be sure of, but hopefully, it will be under control before we're at levels like the 1918 Influenza epidemic.

I've always loved Dinosaurs from a young age up to adulthood. Hearing about an impressive carnivorous Jurassic-era Dino named Allosaurus jimmadseni that could give the Cretaceous-era T-Rex a run for its money made my ol' imagination fire-up and imagine what it must've been like to see these creatures those millions of years ago.

Season 3 of, "Westworld," isn't even out yet, and already they are hiding secret trailers within their promotional clips. The show always has gotten up to crazy mischief so it's going to be a twisty season, ain't it?

The new Batman outfit and a Bat-bike can be seen online now and have an interesting style reminiscent of the, "Zero Year," storyline. It looks pretty cool.

Speaking of DC, there seems to be some breaking news that Dan Didio has left his position as co-publisher and basically the head of DC comics. That's pretty sudden and unexpected, so let's end this news segment with a big shocker like that. Didio was always a polarizing figure during his years at DC, so everyone's reaction has been mixed. I imagine there will be much more to come regarding this.

Enjoy the Rest of February!
I hope you all enjoy the remaining days of February! We are excited for Clarkson's third birthday for sure!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Interesting News From SCOUT Comics About Their New Imprints

I've written about how SCOUT Comics is a rad publisher before and was intrigued to get their latest press release in my email about how they are adding Don Handfield as a partner, co-owner, and board member and also creating a number of intriguing new imprints--six total. These imprints include those focused on inclusive storytelling, an all-ages line, one focused on one-shots, and more. My chums at Comics Heating Up found this news pretty cool too and I imagine fans of SCOUT Comics are as interested in seeing what new books are on the horizon as I am!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

One Thought on Tonight's Democratic Debate

I watched the Democratic Debate tonight in Nevada and have one thought: Man, that crowd was rowdy. I feel like other debates didn't have nearly as much cheering, booing, hooting, and hollering. I felt like I was watching an episode of Jerry Springer (I miss that show) or Maury. I understand people get passionate, but it was kind of disruptive. Did anybody else find it a little distracting, or am I just whiny? Anyways, that's all I really have to offer in terms of my thoughts on the debate because at this point haven't most people decided who they support?

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Television Tuesday: Peter Weber's Season of, "The Bachelor," is a Glorious Mess

I like watching, "The Bachelor," and, "The Bachelorette," on good ol' ABC. I do not watch them out of the misguided belief these people who date for a handful of weeks in unrealistic vacation scenarios are actually going to fall in love or stay together. No, I watch them for the nearly-obscene amount of drama I gorge myself on as if I were at an all-you-can-eat ice cream buffet. That said, I do wish everyone the best and it is good when the main bachelor or bachelorette takes everything with a grain of salt and at least attempts to form functional relationships with the guys/gals after their heart. Peter Weber is the bachelor this season and boy is he bad at this.

If I may quote a review of a previous episode on Vulture, "Peter has convinced himself that if he’s not working to make a relationship work or make his partner calm, then she’ll leave him because deep down, he’s boring. His utility in a relationship is making the woman happy, and then she’ll validate that he’s a good boy worthy of love. It’s bleak, but it’s what he’s dealing with." This desire to be so dearly needed has resulted in Peter sending home mature, well-adjusted, reasonable women and keeping the most sloppy and over-the-top gals possible, the kind who struggle to have any kind of serious conversation about a relationship without bursting into tears, accusing Peter of, "Being in a mood," or running-off and sobbing in a corner until he dashes over to comfort them.
Kelley was mature and realistic.
You know she had to be sent home.
Kelley and Natasha were the last grown-ups and went home already. Then, Kelsey was in the final 4 and for all her flaws seemed to at least have some defined goals and desires, but also was acting a lot more stable lately and needing Peter less so she had to go when it came down to her and the utter trainwreck that is Victoria F. Kelley told Peter a relationship can be, "Easy and fun," as people get to actually know each other and then the more difficult and dramatic elements can enter the picture when things get serious. Peter doesn't want things to be easy or fun, however. He has said he doesn't want a friend, he wants a wife. This viewpoint is horrifically flawed because pretty much anyone in an actually successful relationship will tell you their spouse is their best friend!

If you aren't friends with your wife and instead your relationship is built upon a vague idea of, "Chemistry," when you're not putting-out emotional housefires every 5 minutes that ain't a relationship, that's an unhealthy co-dependency. Peter wants to be depended on so badly he comes off as hollow and the women left on the show come across as the hottest of hot messes besides maybe Hannah-Ann who of the top 3 at least seems like a real person to some degree outside of cliches like Madison's, "I'm super-religious and sporty," or Victoria F.'s, "I'm likely to murder you if I can't have you," vibe.

The slightest hurdle in the relationship results in a rage-fit if you're Victoria F.
Peter Weber may be a perfectly fine guy, but man is he a terrible person to headline, "The Bachelor." He isn't the worst one ever, that will forever be Colton. Still, this season is a big dumpster fire of drama and Peter Weber loaded that dumpster up with all the gasoline before gleefully lighting the match. I still love it though and I'm here clapping with joy as it all burns to the ground whilst Peter shrugs and asks in his dumbfounded way, "What went wrong?" Just everything you did Peter, just everything you did.

Monday, February 17, 2020

The PlayStation 5 Sounds (Potentially) Expensive

A Costly Production
Sony is working at designing and finalizing PlayStation 5 design specs and it seems the thing will cost at least $450 to make. This leads to concerns due to the past. Let's travel back in time...

Back in 2006
The year was 2006. The iPhone did not yet exist, Pluto lost its status as a Planet, Lance Bass (the best member of NYNC besides Justin Timberlake) came out as gay, and the first Tweet ever was posted online. Plus, the PS3 was released. Now, people may remember the PS3 launched with two models and cost $500 and $600 depending on the version . That was 2006 and even in today's money that's a healthy chunk of change. It was a lot more than the Xbox 360 which had come out a bit before costing $400 at most and it took a lot of the gaming market-share as a result.

The tables turned when Sony launched the PS4 for $400 and the Xbox One cost $500, plus the Xbox One had a lot of initial drama and confusion about if games would not be resellable (and there was the Kinect they included whether people wanted it or not). Sony had a great head-start in that generation and kept the pace since then. The price of the console when it launches sets a tone and matters.

Returning to 2020

We return to the present where Sony could release the PS5 at $500 or so, but would that be too much for consumers even with inflation since 2006? What if the PS5 is $500 and Xbox undercuts it at a nice $400 or even $450? Sony may need to have the PS5 be what is known as a loss-leader, where they lose money every time one sells but make bank back through games, accessories, and Playstation Plus subscriptions. It may be better to take a hit now than have a potentially expensive console that results in lagging sales. Plus, everybody loves a good deal.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

People Are Going Nuts for the Upcoming, "Batman," #89 and New Character Punchline

A comic that is not out yet already has people paying big-bucks on sites like eBay to people who claim they'll have extra copies. That comic is, "Batman," issue 89 which releases this Wednesday, February 19th, 2020. It features a one-panel cameo appearance by someone who is apparently going to be a new sidekick for the Joker and possibly a, "Girlfriend," in a sense hopefully better than the abusive relationship he held with Harley Quinn. Her name is Punchline and she has a decent character design, but that's about all we know.

I do not know if she'll be an interesting character as nothing has actually been released with her yet, people are just getting hyped and DC is eager to make her a new hot character too with her popping-up in many books after the cameo. The first full appearance will be within the pages of, "Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen," #3, and then she will feature in the 90th Batman issue and I imagine other books. Also, she'll be on the cover of, "Batman," #94, which is pictured above, and that might be her first cover appearance if I understand things correctly. We shall see if the excitement for Punchline is warranted or this ends up being a big false start. For now, my suggestion is to try and get a copy of, "Batman," #89 for cover price if you can because otherwise, you may have to drop $35-$40 to see what all the fuss is about.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

I've Never Watched, "Stranger Things." Here is Me Guessing What it is About Based on the Latest Buzz

People Are Excited  About This Show...I Know Very Little About It
I have seen on an assortment of media website that a teaser for season 4 of, "Stranger Things," is now online, and features a shocking return of a character who apparently was thought dead, or something. I honestly have not watched even a whole minute of, "Stranger Things," and only have a general idea what the show is about from having seen some parodies on television shows or via internet memes. That said, David Harbour is on the show as a sheriff that everyone assumed was dead but isn't (I think), and he's a great actor, so I might try watching the program sometime in the future. Until then, I will summarize what the show is about based on my very minimal knowledge and a lot of guessing.

My Guess About, "Stranger Things."
The show, "Stranger Things," is about preteens living in a suburb during the 1980s. They love all kinds of 1980's stuff and enjoy watching movies and playing with now-vintage toys until they meet a girl named Eleven. She is from a secret research base where they experiment on kids and was the 11th test subject. She has powers but they give her nosebleeds. She also likes to eat waffles. The kids help her hide in-between enjoying 1980's stuff and the town's police force helps the kids too. 

The secret research base also discovers a place called, "The Upside Down," and one kid gets trapped there and becomes evil or something. Sometimes monsters escape, "The Upside Down," and they are called Demogorgons. Also, the Soviets are trying to do research on the kids with power as well and steal, "The Upside Down," to defeat America. I do not know what the theme music is for the show, but think it would be cool if it was this funk song fittingly titled, "Strange Things," by B. Lewis:

That is my guess about what, "Stranger Things," involves. Do please comment to let me know how right or wrong I am. In the meantime, I'll get around to watching the show someday.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Have a Lovely Valentine's Day

Whether you are celebrating it with someone you love romantically, observing the day with close friends, or simply pretending the holiday doesn't exist, I hope you have a great Valentine's Day (or simply a nice day if you're really going-in on ignoring what holiday it is). Now I will embed the best song ever about Valentine's Day below as I'll take any excuse I can to play this absolute banger of a jam from Andre 3000 and OutKast. It is suitable titled, "Happy Valentine's Day." Enjoy...

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Koze Makes Fantastic Coffee Cozys!

As someone who enjoys hot coffee, I am well-versed in how it feels when I pick up the cup at a coffee shop and it makes my hands feel like the first layer of skin is going to burn off. Some establishments have disposable cardboard cozys, but those so often sadly end-up in the garbage (even if they can be recycled) and usually fail to actually protect me from a blazing hot coffee. That is why I really like the reusable cozys from Koze. Koze is a small business created by my friend, Emily, and they are made of a nice firm fabric that saves my hands from being scorched, help reduce the waste of disposable cozys, and there are many designs that look really cool.

A cozy from Koze easily wraps around your coffee and can be adjusted for a smaller/tall cup or a large/Venti if you like having more brew to sip. The cozys range from having neat patterns to some really clever and elaborate designs. Koze has designs that feature coloring crayons and look great for teachers...

there is this magical unicorn...

plus a very cute baby space alien...
and more! Emily started Koze in early 2019 so it is now over a year old with a multitude of amazing cozys for sale! The designs from Koze are really cool and sure to have you smiling anytime you reach for your coffee or alternative hot beverage with the knowledge your hands are safe from being singed. I'd encourage you to check out Koze's Facebook page and send a message about any of the snazzy cozys you might be interested in! I love Koze's cozys and bet you will too!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Birdcage Bottom Books is Running a Kickstarter to Pre-Order Their Upcoming 2020 Titles!

Birdcage Bottom Books is a publisher who puts out a stellar assortment of indie comics. I've expressed my fondness for all the graphic novels and comics they publish before, and I'm on their e-mail list by my request. Today I received a message about how they have launched a Kickstarter campaign that allows people to preorder their upcoming releases for 2020 at great discounts. By backing Birdcage Bottom Books' Kickstarter you can ensure they have guaranteed sales for their upcoming titles to provide this small publisher with some more cash-flow and know you won't miss out on their fantastic reads! Check out the Kickstarter here and be sure to contribute and/or share about it with your friends.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Rant-Reviews: Just First Issues...and a Second One

New-ish Series
I thought it would make sense to review some series that are just starting up, are new-ish in that they tie-in with big ongoing events/follow-up other series, and talk about the second issue of a series as that is still pretty early-on and the comic is damn good. Proceed below for my rambling thoughts.

Firsts and a Second
X-Men/Fantastic Four #1
Chip Zdarsky writes his first X-book (in this new era the books have entered) with Terry and Rachel Dodson providing some great illustrations. This comic follows-up on some earlier allusions to how mutants are hoped to live on the island-Nation of Krakoa, and Franklin Richards is an immensely powerful mutant--but also the son of two members of Fantastic Four. The F4, despite being superpowered humans are still humans and the comic takes pains to not make the X-Men or Fantastic Four look like the, "Bad guys."

Franklin Richards apparently is a bit older due to events in another comic I did not read and is slowly losing his powers. This alarms the X-Men, who worry if that could bode anything for other mutants and think if he is now in his teens he can choose to live with his folks or on Krakoa. Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four are wary of mutants coming and taking their son before he's a fully-grown adult, regardless of his powers fading. This leads to some sharp dialogue from Zdarsky and excellently illustrated scenes of fighting when the disagreements get physical. It was a really enjoyable read all-around.
4 out of 5 stars.

Predator: Hunters III #1
This is a first issue but the third mini-series following a team of people who hunt Predators, so this ain't exactly new-reader friendly. Still, I've been digging this series. Most, "Predator," movies or comics are all about people trying to figure out what Predators are and what they want, this series has turned it on its head taking new characters as well as those from past "Predator," comics and have them be dedicated to hunting down the Predators who have made lives miserable before anyone else can be hurt.  I have a soft spot for the, "Predator," franchise and even if this series hasn't been amazing, it is consistently entertaining. Solid art, the story moves at a good clip, and I'm otherwise always pleased, so it is a good start to a new mini dedicated to the hunters of the Predators.
3 out of 5 stars.

Protector #1
A sci-fi comic set in a far-future where technology is mostly in ruins and the World is a weird post-post-apocalypse kind of place. That sounds relatively uninspiring, I know, but damn if the art in this comic doesn't keep my attention. A hodge-podge of a creative team (two writers--Simon Roy and Daniel M. Bensen--and three artists--Artyom Trakhanov, Jason Wordie, and Hassan Otsmane-elhaou) made this, but it overall works thanks to looking so snazzy. There are some interesting ideas of exploring future socio-cultural societies that give me hope for the plot to be more intriguing than it is at first glance, but I'm really just here for the art at the moment.
3 out of 5 stars.

Backtrack #1
This comic raises a lot of questions, but none of them are interesting enough for me to really want to follow-up. A bunch of people who can drive very well (former racers, getaway drivers, etc.) are offered the chance to undo a major mistake and fix their lives if they can manage to win a race being offered by a mysterious man who I'm already 99% sure is the devil or something like that. Why this race is happening isn't made clear, and when time-travel starts that makes things really wonky.

For a last-minute cliffhanger, there is a surprise reveal of a former winner maybe wanting to disrupt the race, and I see the general ideas at play here but nothing really, "Grabs," my attention. By the issue's end, you can see how this is going to be a comic with wacky locations each issue, racers trying to unify to survive, and the usual, "Big mystery," like something out of a television show such as, "Lost," or that new weird plane one, "Manifest." It just seems like there is an interesting idea in here (a race to undo your past errors) but then it tracks on a whole lot of formulaic stuff that makes me lose interest.
2 out of 5 stars.

The Man Who Effed Up Time #1
A lab assistant where they have a functional time machine with many strict rules travels back a week in time to try to make his life a bit easier and then all Hell breaks loose. The comic is about a man who messed/"effed," with time and boy howdy what a small gesture can do becomes apparent when we witness a World with a lineage of King Lincoln's ruling over pyramids and Dinosaurs used as transportation. The comic is funny in imagining such a zany World from one man altering time and I bet as attempts are made to fix everything it will all only get more humorously worse.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Suicide Squad #2
The surprise reveal at the end of the first issue was that the group of rebels Task Force X (AKA the Suicide Squad) was hunting were in face the team's newest recruits, and writer Tom Taylor keeps the surprises coming. At the start of this comic, the opening seems to show all Hell breaking loose before Taylor cleverly reveals what really happened at the conclusion. It is just one neat moment is a comic packed with great dialogue and plotting.

Jumping around in time is a common conceit in comics, but Taylor adds enough wrinkles to this it piques my curiosity whilst he continues to stack twist-upon-twist like a layer cake. Artist Bruno Redondo supplies some awesome moments with his art as well, as this team that hates each other attacks their own squad as much as their enemies. We are only two issues in but I'm already hooked.
5 out of 5 stars.

Starting Strong (Sometimes)
These comics all are new-ish series and some do a great job with their beginning and others falter to really grab my attention. As long as there was more good than, "Meh," I'd say it was a pretty good day, however.

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Oscars Were Last Night, Your Interest May Vary on the Results

Hey, the Oscars were last night. Depending on how much you care about them you were either super-pumped or actively tried to avoid any news regarding the show. I am somewhere in the middle of those two extremes--interested in the awards but I take it all with a huge grain of salt. One thing that surprised everyone was Eminem showing-up and performing, "Lose Yourself," which won an Academy Award way back in 2002 but he was unable to attend the show then to perform it, so why not now? Also, "Joker," won some big awards (like Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix) and will continue to divide everyone heavily on if it deserves any recognition for its content beyond at least us all agreeing on Phoneix being a fantastic actor.

I want to offer congrats to, "Parasite," for being the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture (it won Best Director too). Hopefully, this will encourage people to seek out more films with subtitles (America has a weird thing about that sometimes it seems) or at least examine the great variety of flicks director Bong Joon-ho has made over the years. It was overall a fine show and it did fine its second year without an official host. If nothing else, "Lose Yourself," always gets the crowd going...unless you're Martin Scorsese or Billie Eilish.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Attend the Micro Con Next Sunday!

A week from today STL Comics will be holding their latest Micro Con! Yes, Sunday at 10AM through 3PM there will be (as the banner says) comics, toys, and artists. One big guest at the show is none other than Kyle Starks who at a different previous convention drew me a stellar Moon Knight. He's super-talented and quite nice, so it is awesome he will be there. In addition, other guests such as Jeff Ewards and my friend Lorenzo Lizana will be at the show with a whole lot of fantastic vendors. The show will take place at the Manhattan Antique Marketplace (10431 Saint Charles Rock Road, Saint Ann, Missouri 63074), and is completely free to attend. I look forward to the show and hope to see you there!

Friday, February 7, 2020

Flashback Friday: The Last Time a Comic Utterly Shocked Me

I was thinking about the last time a comic came out of nowhere and surprised me, and it has been a bit, but man was it a shocker. Normally comics solicit certain storylines in advance so you have an idea what the future holds, or a seeming twist is undone quickly. Well, not in my most recent case, which is actually from a bit ago (2011), but still the most recent time I went, "Oh my goodness! I didn't see that coming!" Yes, I literally said it like that.

"Uncanny X-Force," #4 came out in early 2011 and followed a team of mutants who like previous X-Force teams were kind of a special-ops. This series involves them learning how the evil Clan Akkaba has created another rebirthed Apocalypse and the X-Men need him gone before he threatens the World. One hitch to their plan--he is currently in the body of a young kid...

Yes, Clan Akkaba figured the best way to create the perfect version of Apocalypse was not a fully-grown version that seems to always fail fighting humans and mutants alike, but a young boy who is a blank slate that can be taught everything he needs to know. He currently has hurt no one and even seems sweet, but he has horrific potential if his mind is poisoned by the Clan Akkaba.

By the time X-Force stumbles upon this young version of apocalypse they immediately realize they can't kill an innocent kid regardless of his genes as that is what humans have been wanting to do to all mutants for years. They start discussing how they'll take him back the X-Men mansion to raise him right and it all seems to be how you'd expect this to go do until there is a loud, "Bang," drawn and then this:

Fantomex, who had said nothing, shoots the kid silently.  The rest of the issue is them--without many other words--evacuating back home, upset and startled. I honestly did not see that coming, and later it is revealed how Fantomex takes some of the blood to create his own Apocalypse clone in a simulated reality he names, "Evan," in the hopes of testing-out if maybe there could be a good version of Apocalypse (the character went on to pop-up in various X-books) and he was too rash.

Even if that extra step of cloning an Apocalypse designed only for good counters a bit of the initial brutality, I was dumbfounded to see even one member of X-Force would, "Go there," when generally the plot would not do as such. I guess writer Rick Remender wanted to surprise us all (with artist Jerome Opena making everything look great too). The new team finds itself forever a little shaky by what it had to do even if they learn about the helpful clone later on. The rest of, "Uncanny X-Force," was a solid run, but nothing could live up to the bewilderment I felt reading issue #4. So, 2011 was the last time a comic utterly shocked me and hopefully, another one will again sometime soon.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

New Comic Publisher, "Bad Idea," Knows You May Think Their Plans Are Crazy

A bunch of alums from the reborn publisher Valiant who left it after some corporate shake-ups are returning to the publishing field with their new company, "Bad Idea." It has a unique concept for a distribution model that could work or end up being a catastrophic failure. It's got people talking though, and when I got the PR email (which ComicsBeat has as well as their thoughts on all this) it sounded interesting and had parts where I went, "What?"

The interesting parts are that an assortment of talented creators have been working on some comics (Matt Kindt,  Marguerite Bennett, Jeff Lemire, and more) and these books will not be available digitally, will not have variants, and there are no plans for collected editions currently. The only way to get these will be to go to your comic stores which will be allowed to sell one copy of each comic per customer (I guess to prevent too much potential speculation with books). How can that rule be enforced, however? This publisher is going to sidestep the usual comic distributor (the reviled monopoly Diamond) and sell to direct to comic stores. This all sounds neat, but the part that made me go, "What," is this: Only 20 comic stores will be able to carry these books initially, up to 50 by the year's end. 20 comic stores, in the World. No online sales. How the Hell are people going to get these books without turning to eBay or something?
Assuming the comics are good people will want to buy at least some of them, and besides eBay/online marketplaces or pirating the books (which I don't approve of, but I mention as people sometimes do it) that will be all but impossible if they aren't among the lucky number in the World near a comic shop selling these books. Again, 20 stores, up to 50 by 2020's end. That ain't a lot for the entire Planet. If the books are good though, that will create demand and result in more buzz, however, I would think. There is some solid talent involved, but still...just 20 stores? I hope if there are a lot of sales of quality titles the distribution will expand quickly.

This is either a genius concept that will surprise folk with its success or is due to quickly fizzle out in horrendous failure. Most batshit crazy ideas tend to either have shockingly great results or astoundingly bad ones. Whether this works out or not it is crazy and the company practically is begging folk to call it out by naming themselves, "Bad Idea." It has us all talking, however, and they've got the capital to at least get this started (the Valiant alums involved possibly got bought-out from the company for a healthy chunk of change). More on all this as it develops.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Hot Comics Revue: Eight is Great

Here we are with entry number eight of my now-and-then segment, "Hot Comics Revue." I must, of course, thank the stellar guys and gals at Comics Heating Up for inspiring me to do this occasional segment, which is a great site for comic speculation whereas my segment is about what it already warming-up, red hot, or has steamy potential. With that said, let's talk about three comics that fit that bill.

A Comic That is Warming-Up
Memetic #1
Optioned by Point Grey Pictures, this Seth Rogen-headed production company has plans to adapt this comic about a deadly meme into a flick. With Rogen and Mattson Tomlin (who most recently wrote for the script for the upcoming, "The Batman," movie) apparently writing the adaptation, it has been getting buzz and the first issue is going for about $30 consistently on internet marketplaces. Now, the problem with stuff getting optioned is that sometimes after such a thing occurs that's it--nothing actually gets made. Whether we will be enjoying a, "Memetic," movie in some years or so could really impact if this keeps warming-up or cools off.

A Red-Hot Title
Amazing Spider-Man #101
The first appearance of Morbius has been getting a whole lot of love since the trailer dropped and was surprisingly good. Now even a beat-up copy goes for $100 quite easily and Very Fine to Near-Mint copies being worth about a grand (when officially graded). Keeping in mind how a really high-quality copy was nowhere near that a year ago this time it is on fire. Now, if the movie bombs expect this to crater, but if it is a big ol' hit, well, this issue could go nuclear.

A Comic With Steamy Potential
Lois Lane #8
This one came a bit out of nowhere. Generally, when a series is some issues deep it is under-ordered compared to a first issue, and this issue has the first full appearance of a new character named Kiss of Death (she has a cameo in #7). Between the fact it is ordered less and has a potentially hot new villain, the book has started simmering to a solid degree and is trending for $15-$20 on various sites. It may get hotter or cool, it is hard to say, but right now it shows steamy potential for sure.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Huh, We Haven't Seen Much of Krakoa in the Dawn of X Comics Still

The big celebration on Krakoa when it was established as the new home of Mutants.
Josh Hilgenberg of the Comics Beat made a post today observing how all these new X-Men comics are about the X-men living on their own personal island-nation of Krakoa, but with little focus on the, "Living." We had the combination lead-in series, "House of X/Powers of X," that established the island for the mutants, but all comics since as part of the big launch of books under the banner, "Dawn of X," have had little focus on the island itself. That is a bit of a bummer. It is all about the island being invaded by an enemy here-and-there, the teams going to the rest of the World to fight other dangers or help mutants in need, going into space for fun, and other stuff. We have seen very little of what day-to-day life is actually like on Krakoa, the island-Nation mutants worked so hard for. It feels less like a real lived-in place than it does a way to move the plot forward.

Say what you will about the series, "District X," and how it was sometimes a bit wonky, it presented the story of an area of New York City where a bunch of mutants lived and it felt like a real place. Apartments, stores, and all that were in this place that seemed like a real district where mutants had gathered to live much how in cities you get certain demographics making an area a cultural hotbed. We got a feeling of a mutant culture and life in the city, as viewed through the eyes of mutant and non-mutant police trying to keep crime under control between uniquely mutant-affecting crimes and underground crime rings.
A mutant-focused nightclub in, "District X."
Then when reality was warped during "House of M," and the world temporarily was mostly mutants ("Mutopia X,"), it was interesting to see a flip-side where now the district was a grouping of what sapiens were left in NYC trying to make it in a World of mutants. The more things change the more they stay the same with someone always on top and someone always on the bottom.

"District X," felt like a real place in a city, Krakoa just feels like a storytelling tool right now. What do mutant residents of Krakoa do for work or fun? Is there a monetary currency, internet or television beyond how it is mentioned in one issue a cable hookup exists now to see what is going on in the outside world? Hopefully, as even more X-Men books keep coming out at least one or two will have a bit more fleshing-out take place of what life is like on Krakoa.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Considering Donating to the GoFundMe for Dexter Vines

Dexter Vines is a fantastic comic creator and he needs help. On January 27th he went to the doctor with lower back pain and was informed he actually had two fractured vertebrae due to Multiple Myeloma, a cancer that attacks the plasma of the blood. It thankfully has been found early enough to be treated and possibly even cured (although a total cure is rare). Vines has minimal insurance, but not nearly enough to cover how expensive treatment can be.

Funds are being raised to help cover the next 9-12 months he won't be able to work nearly as much and will be busy getting treatment. The goal has already been met but the campaign is going to run some extra days to ensure there is a cushion to help Vines during this trying time. Hopefully, he can achieve remission and continue to be a skilled comic-maker and awesome guy for many years to come. The fundraiser can be found here. Please consider donating, or if you are unable to donate it is also appreciated if the campaign is shared via social media and such. You are in all our thoughts, Dexter!

The Baby Mr. Peanut is a Crass and Blatant Attempt to Get That, "Baby Yoda," Hype

You know why Baby Yoda (who isn't actually Yoda, but yeah) worked so well? It came out of nowhere (they really kept it a secret) and nobody was trying to force us to think Baby Yoda was cute or, "A thing." It just became a thing because it was so damned fun. Planters made a huge deal about killing off Mr. Peanut only to attempt to surprise everyone with a rebirth that features a baby Mr. Peanut, or Baby Nut. The ad ran during yesterday's Super Bowl. I ain't into it.

Planters without a doubt want some of that Baby Yoda hype but as opposed to having something organically happen are crassly trying to shoehorn Baby Nut into Twitter discussions or news posts saying dumb stuff like, "There's a new challenger to Baby Yoda for cuteness!" People already hate the Baby Mr. Peanut and I do not blame them. Even if he is actually kind of cute, the blatant and cynical commercialism of him overrides any affection I could hold for the thing. I personally dread how many ads we are going to suffer through from Planters featuring this Baby Mr. Peanut, because you know they will have many planned.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

The Groundhog Did Not See His Shadow, And You Know, He Actually Stole This Gig From Me...

"I will eat your soul!"
The Groundhog known as Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow. This means we are due for an early Spring if he actually could predict the weather, which he cannot. He is right maybe 40% of the time, so a little less accurate than weather forecasters who I think are about 50% accurate for 10-day forecasts and up to 80% accurate for a couple days of advance forecasting. I like Groundhog Day as a fun little holiday, but put no actual stock in Phil's abilities and actually have a personal beef with him. You see, I used to have his job until it was stolen from me by that buck-toothed jerk.

Back in the day, I would wake up on February 2nd to find a large man in a top hat at my door. He would hoist me up by the scruff of my neck (keep in mind I'm naked this whole time) and carry me outside to a large crowd who would cheer as they awaited the news of if I saw my shadow or not. The man would lift me above a tree stump and refuse to let go until I declared if I saw my shadow. After I would say, "Yeah, I see it," or, "No, I do not," he would release me, at which point I'd scurry back into my house in search of some breakfast and pants. It sounds stupid, but I'm being silly to illustrate how we are literally just grabbing some animal out of a burrow and guessing about the weather--it is as accurate as if I run outside with my junk flapping in the breeze and yell-out whether I see my shadow or not too.
Thes things are really chunky.
Joking aside, this is a cute holiday as long as we remember this is just for fun and not a truthful weather forecast. I'll still never forgive Phil for taking that job from me though, it paid pretty well. I didn't get cash but was given a pretty good daily supply of Snickers bars and Dr. Pepper. At least I still have my other secret job as the tooth fairy's bookkeeper. Somebody's gotta keep track of those molars.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Rejoice, Fellow Millennials, Thousands of Flash Games Will Be Saved

If you are in your late 20's or early 30's the odds are pretty good you played a lot of free internet games back in the day. Before iPhones and their fancy apps one of the best ways to pass time in the computer lab at school (or at home if you had a decent internet connection) was to play games that ran on the Flash format. The thing is that Adobe has been planing to basically kill Flash for quite some time and it'll be unsupported and a pain to do much with once they officially axe it during this year, 2020. This could result in so many games no longer be supported, but there is good news! A group/company called BlueMaxima has created an open-source program that can save Flash games and make them playable offline like a standard video-game.

BlueMaxima's program, Flashpoint supports 36,000 Flash titles and if anyone doesn't want a game on it for copyright reasons they'll gladly remove it, but otherwise you can pick-and-choose what you want to download or (should you have a ton of memory free) download all 290 gigabytes currently available. This is super cool and I feel like I want to try the program out some time to find those classic Flash games I would play at school back in the day--always after I finished my work, of course.

Friday, January 31, 2020

I Just Realized This Sunday is Groundhog Day AND The Super Bowl

Today it suddenly occurred to me while watching the news how this Sunday, February 2nd, will be both Groundhog Day and the Super Bowl. Both holidays are full of superstition and crazy rituals. One is silly and scientifically inaccurate but did inspire a great movie with Bill Murray, the other has lots of science about its dangers people ignore and ads that feature huge celebrities, and Bill Murray may weirdly enough appear. Both get people fired up and have huge political aspects people try to ignore (climate change being politicized and protests/kneeling during the National Anthem). There is a lot shared between these two events!

Seeing how much Groundhog Day and the Super Bowl seem to have in common, I propose we create a Groundhog Bowl for this Sunday where Groundhogs play football. It sounds dumb, but they can't play any worse than the NY Jets (I kid out of love for the Jets). We already have a Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet, why not groundhogs? Make those fat little buck-toothed critters do something useful for once besides seeing their shadow (I don't like groundhogs, much you can maybe tell, I have personal reasons). We've only got two days to put this together, but it would be lit. Come on, everyone, let's mix
these two holidays like a mad scientist!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Can We Be Unironically Excited for a Sonic the Hedgehog Movie? I Am!

There is going to be a, "Sonic the Hedgehog," movie that seems to be essentially be getting dumped on the public when it is Valentine's Day of this year. I guess nothing screams romance like a furry blue ball that moves at lightspeed. I didn't hate the first trailer where Sonic looked kind of...different, and have been interested in seeing this flick since I first heard about it as someone who has always had a deep love for Sega products and Sonic. Many other people seem to be excited too, but in a less earnest manner. There are people who think it will be a trainwreck, "So bad it's good," or things like that. I just want to be able to have excitement for this movie without anyone thinking I'm being ironic or snarky.

Seriously, Jim Carrey is a pretty talented actor when you give him the right role (comedic or serious). James Marsden is criminally underappreciated and his characters always seem to get the short-end of the metaphorical stick (just look at the 2nd season of, "Westworld," for example) and end-up dumped or dead. Seeing James Marsden get to just be happy and pal-around with a computer-generated hedgehog sounds fun. Jim Carrey playing a Sonic-obsessed Dr. Robotnik/Dr. Eggman sounds fun too. The whole thing looks like a harmless good time and that's okay if it lacks any deep statement beyond some cute jokes and special effects. I want to see, "Sonic the Hedgehog," and I want it to be just a relaxed and chill flick I can smile at. You don't have to share in my sentiment, but makes me a bit sad when you're just sharpening your metaphorical knives ready to rip apart this movie. For all we know it might be legit good too! We shall see.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Three Songs I'm Digging All Have Weaponized Nostalgia

I've talked about the power of nostalgia multiple times on the blog and the idea of taking people's love of the past and basically making something designed to prey upon our nostalgic whimsy so we automatically have a certain fondness for it. Well, currently three songs I'm digging all have a big dose of nostalgia involved. Two of them are by Summer Walker (with one featuring someone to really give it that past-appeal boost) and one is by Mahalia featuring Ella Mai. Let's discuss the two Summer Walker jams first.

"Playing Games," by Summer Walker is the most subtle of these three when it comes to nostalgia. It doesn't outright sample any older songs, but has some key lyrics that call-out a classic jam. Basically, she suspects she is being cheated on and in the chorus asks, "So won't you say my name, say my name, if you claim you want me, it ain't no thang." This is undoubtedly a riff on Destiny's Child mega-hit, "Say My Name." Here is that lovely ditty:

It is minimal for sure, but it's there. Anyone who knows, "Say My Name," without a doubt would recognize the call-out to it. Subtly flies out the window for, "Come Thru," which features Usher, however.

"Come Thru," begins with one of my personal favorite Usher song's, "You Make Me Wanna," playing in a fuzzy way before Summer Walker sings about how a man she likes makes her want to, "Come through," and basically stop by and see him for good loving. It sounds like it is just barely riffing on the Usher classic at first before Usher himself starts singing some new lyrics...and by the end of the song they are outright saying lyrics from the old classic without any doubt what song, "Come Thru," is drawing inspiration from. "You Make Me Wanna," can be heard right below:

As I adore, "You Make Me Wanna," it gives, "Come Thru," an almost unfair advantage of being a song I like a good bit already, with Summer Walker and Usher sounding great on it too, nostalgia aside.

"What You Did," is our third song that weaponizes nostalgia and does it with a severity somewhere between the vague allusions on, "Playing Games," and outright saying past lyrics on , "Come Thru." "What You Did," is by Mahalia and features Ella Mai. It also samples a key sound and lyric feature of the Cam'Ron song, "Oh Boy." Now, back in Junior High, I bought the CD, "Come Home With Me," by Cam'Ron basically just for, "Oh Boy," that is how much I loved it--remember those days where you bought an album for just one or two songs? It has him and Juelz Santana rapping as a high-pitched female voice says, "Oh Boy," off-and-on. Here it is:

"What You Did," samples a bit of the beat and that key, "Oh Boy," voice that made the song a banger back when I was a teenager and hearing it really takes me back. Oh, and lest anyone accuse me of forgetting, the version of, "Oh Boy," with Mariah Carey and Cam'Ron was hot fire too, but the original was my main jam. Her's that one while I'm flooding this post with YouTube links to old music:

Some people might be critical of new songs using old ones in this manner, saying it lacks originality. I am fine with it because throughout history artists have sampled or outright ripped each other off to make cool stuff. As long as in these cases everyone is getting paid for their sample who deserves to be paid, it's all good. I'm just enjoying listening to new things whilst simultaneously having my fondness for the past fed that delicious ol' weaponized nostalgia.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Kicking Off 2020 Sick as Hell

Basically our whole household.
You may remember in October of last year my discussion of how I was sick. Well, now I'm sick, Samii feels bad, and Clarkson had a viral illness that went away, but the drainage led to a sinus and ear infection so now he's on antibiotics. We are kicking off 2020 sick as Hell. It is unfortunate but we are muddling through. Please send all the positive energy you can.

Monday, January 27, 2020

The First Volume of, "Way of the Househusband" Is a Wonderful Read!

There is a new manga series that had the first volume released in English a bit ago and the second volume (which I plan to read soon) just came out in English as well. It is titled, 'Way of the Househusband," and follows a man who was once an extremely dangerous Yakuza member known as, "The Immortal Dragon." The thing is, one day he just suddenly quit to live as a househusband. His wife goes to work and he uses his skill with the blade to cook, also cleans the house expertly, goes out looking for good deals on clothing, and otherwise keeps things in order. It is a setup which is a little like, "John Wick," if Wick had simply stayed out the mob underworld instead of getting involved again. The comic is mostly light humor with bits of really dark moments hinted-at but not fully explored. I loved it.

Perhaps because I am a stay-at-home Dad I relate a bit to being a househusband and how it can garner unique reactions from people. I was never a feared member of the Yakuza, but I'll still get stares if I'm the only guy out shopping somewhere or at a food event (the Immortal Dragon does not have kids, but would probably also get comments as I do about how cute my son is and those are welcome, weird questions about where mommy is are met with snarky replies). Funny moments abound as the Immortal Dragon intimidates people who see all his tattoos and wonder if he's dangerous, even if the guy just wants to take advantage of a clearance sale. Run-ins with past rival gangs lead to issues too, as few want to believe he truly has stopped being one of the most dangerous Yakuza enforcers around for a quiet and happy life.

There are many, "Misunderstanding," scenarios that are humorous and little clues about just how feared this man once was. When one former rival hits him over the head with a 2X4 he just laughs as his head starts to bleed and remarks it would be great for making some furniture. It scares them off, then he proceeds to take the 2X4 home and use it in a craft to make a cute and dainty children's chair. It is a surreal comic for sure.

One thing I would've liked, "Way of the Househusband," to explore more is just how the Immortal Dragon ended-up with his wife and how much she knows of his past. There is a moment toward the end it is indicated she first met him when he was in a bad way and she helped him (with them then falling in love shortly thereafter, one would figure). This was just the first volume of the series, so there is plenty more time to explore their relationship between shopping excursions and hilarious vignettes such as where a malfunctioning robotic vacuum cleaner wreaks havoc.

Kousuke Oono is the writer and artist; he does a masterful job illustrating this manga. The Immortal Dragon looks incredibly imposing even when being sweet, which makes sense as he was dangerous for years before becoming a househusband. For a book about a relatively peaceful life, it also is extremely kinetic, with a chase after the aforementioned robotic vacuum cleaner looking impressive and moments of creating tasty dishes full of gorgeous drawing where you can really sense the energy that goes into making a meal. The artwork and story are both superb and I can't wait to get a copy of the 2nd volume that just came out, and future volumes to enjoy as well!
5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

I'm Quite Concerned for IDW

Back in April of 2019, I wrote about how, "I'm a tad concerned for IDW." This post came about as the company was maybe having success in publishing comics, but overall losing money due to investments in television shows that were popular, but not exactly turning much (or any) of a profit. I observed something others had too, that the company seemed to be spreading itself a bit thin. Now we are in 2020 and IDW disclosed to investors (it is publically traded so it can't keep numbers to itself like many other publishers) how it lost 26.4 million dollars in 2019, will liquidate more cash in 2020, and hopes to be profitable by 2021 as its television properties that are sucking-up so much money hopefully start making funds.

Now, plenty of mega-companies lose money for a good deal of time before making money and they keep going thanks to investors with deep pockets and big dreams. The question is if IDW can manage to keep moving along to that point investors are pleased with actually getting venture capital back or cut their losses and IDW suddenly is insolvent/bankrupt? I'm no longer a tad concerned for IDW, I am quite concerned.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

This Infographic About American Gun Ownership is Fascinating

I have made it clear on my blog how I am extremely in favor of gun control/not big on how the 2nd amendment has been interpreted. I have had readers and friends who agree with me on this and those who disagree. As it stands, I'm not really a fan of civilian gun ownership. Therefore, I am probably about a complete 180 degrees in terms of views from most readers of a website called The Minuteman Review which is all-in on guns and the idea of the right to own as many as you want with no limitations. That said, when someone from the website reached out to me about how their site had assembled a massive guide about gun ownership in America and was seeing if blogs wanted to share it, I was intrigued.

Having reviewed, "The Ulitmate Firearms Industry Guide: Statistics, Trends, and Data," I can say I am impressed with how much raw data it complies into objective facts that are easy to follow and read. It breaks-down how much gun ownership there is in America clearly by multiple factors (race, sex, etc.), concisely lays out data about why people say they own guns, facts about concealed carry permits, and it has no pro-gun or anti-gun viewpoint so much as just tells facts. Now, if you are someone who is concerned about guns you would probably be alarmed by a fact like how 46% of the World's guns are owned by Americans, but someone who wants less gun control will probably be pleased to see that 29.59% of gun owners say they own more than five guns. It is all detailed data that those who love guns or hate guns can really dig into.

I don't agree with The Minuteman Review on guns in basically any way, but I will say they did an amazing job creating this guide and it is one of the most in-depth infographics on gun ownership I have ever encountered. Whether you feel the way I do about guns or are more closely aligned with the views of The Minuteman Review you will probably find the information interesting too. I thank them for contacting me about it.