Friday, July 31, 2020

Flashback Friday: "X-Men Noir" Was Awesome

Some years ago Marvel had the idea to retell the stories of their most popular characters in a noir style. The only breakout hit from that ended up being the Spider-Man one thanks to his appearance in various other media forms (games and the animate movie). For my money, however, "X-Men Noir," was the best and most creative. It told the story of a man named Tommy Holloway investigating a group of sociopathic teens who were mentored by the discredited psychiatrist Charles Xavier whilst also facing off with a criminal Brotherhood (kinda like the Brotherhood of Mutants) that exercises a lot of influence on a Police Force run by Eric Magnus. A lot is going on.

Lots of interesting interpretations of famous characters from the X-Men appear, but Tommy Holloway is the main character and not an X-Man, he wants to be a super-hero, saying he feels like he's what, "Comes next." This gives the comic a nice meta-feel, commenting on how noir and pulp works eventually led into superheroes. Tommy goes by Angel (unrelated to the X-Men one) and in a further meta twist was one of the earliest comic-book superheroes at Timely comics before it became Marvel. The mixture of a strong story overall mixed with all the clever meta-elements gives this noir take on the X-Men quite a delicious twist. There was a sequel mini-series, "The Mark of Cain," but for my money, the original mini-series is perfect by itself.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Green Witch Recordings Releases Some Stellar Music

Update for 12/11/20: Due to issues with receiving later orders I placed with Green Witch Recordings I can no longer recommend ordering from them, at least directly. I have kept the post untouched below for a  look at how I used to feel, however.

I've had my new occasional segment Going (Band)Camping running for a bit and will have a new edition of it posted soon too. In the meantime, however, I wanted to share about one label that isn't on Bandcamp but which has released some stellar music I've enjoyed, Green Witch Recordings. I've greatly enjoyed their two anthology cassette tapes they've released, "Audio Spells," Volume 1 and 2, along with an LP by the band Mothra Stewart, titled, "The Times They Are A-Changin'."

Green Witch Recordings releases their music on cassettes as well a vinyl and I'd describe much of their output as stellar alternative/indie rock. Some of it is more chill and relaxed, some flits with being a bit punk-ish, but it is lovely stuff all around. I don't think there was a song I disliked on either, "Audio Spells," anthology, and the Mothra Stewart album was fantastic too. I'd encourage you to browse their wares and give one of their albums a try.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Bad Idea Comics is Now Promoting a Mysterious Button

I've written about my ongoing interest in Bad Idea Comics, whose ideas have seemed either clever or, well, possibly bad. They've talked of directly distributing their comics to stores seemed outlandish...but now even DC is doing it with their own distributors. Bad Idea Comics has also discussed strictly limiting comics to one per customer, which is either meant to cut down on speculation or encourage it heavily, that is TBD. Well, Bad Idea seems to have (jokingly) been taken over by what they call a Rogue A.I. that is now demanding everyone to click on a button.

Once the button has been clicked a billion--yes, billion--times, something will happen relating to Bad Idea launching their first comic It is already at 21 million since its announcement this morning, so we shall see how long it takes to possibly hit that billion-mark. You can go click the button here. I clicked it a few times to do my part, and because Bad Idea continues to astound me with how they manage to seem both ingenious and possibly teetering on the brink of collapsing without warning at the same time. I continue to argue that they are either going to be wildly successful with their unique plans and clearly different advertising methods...or are going to crash and burn spectacularly. They seem like nice folks tho, so I hope it all goes well. Let's all give the button a click in the meantime.

"Pimo & Rex: The Interdimensional Wedding," Looks Like a Fun New Release From Rotopol

Rotopol is a publisher of many fine comics. Located in Germany, a number of their books are in both German and English. This is good, as despite taking German for two years in high school I still have a minimal grasp on the language. Anyways, I receive press emails from Rotopol and they messaged me the other day to let me know about a new release, "Pimo & Rex: The Interdimensional Wedding." It looks wild and colorful, which makes sense as the writer and artist, Thomas Wellmann, has done freelance work for many animation studios and networks.

This original graphic novel features Wellmann telling the tale of the titular wedding, a quest for a legendary magic wand, and a volcano which threatens to cause a lot of trouble too, in addition to much more zany stuff. I will work at acquiring a copy for the purpose of review as, "Pimo & Rex: The Interdimensional Wedding." sounds like a real hoot that I'd most likely quite enjoy!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Television Tuesday: "The Umbrella Academy," Has Its Second Season Debut This Week

I am a fan of the, "The Umbrella Academy," comic-book series and thought the first season of the show on Netflix was stellar as well (and different from the comic, but still a treat). The second season will be available to stream this week (July 31st) and it is getting positive reviews, with The AV Club thinking it is even better than the first season and Polygon complimenting it extensively too. My wife and I found it great fun and incredibly watchable, so we will undoubtedly be tuning in for the second season when we have a chance.

Monday, July 27, 2020

A Small Helping of Links for Late July of 2020

We are nearing the end of July. It's hot, it's wet, and what August could hold in terms of schools, the economy, and everything else is a big question mark. Let's try to relax with some links and news. Not as much as sometimes when I do these posts, but it's all about quality over quantity, right?

Stuff For Reading

I've mentioned off-and-on here how I'm on a bit of an old-tech kick. As a part of that I've enjoyed listening to cassette tapes lately, and apparently, I'm not the only one. It seems cassette sales have more than doubled in 2020. Doubled from a tiny amount, yes, but still have doubled!

I've enjoyed everything that's been a part of the, "All Time Comics," line of off-kilter hero comics. Hence, when Paul Tumey of The Comics Journal did a deep-dive into their works I gave it an eager read.

Speaking of heroes and comics, JM Mutore of Polygon examined how comic-books and their related media tie-ins could examine the issues of superheroes and their, "Policing," of others as our real-World police face further scrutiny at this time.

The Eisner Awards happened recently, with a lot of questions surrounding discrepancies in the voting process. This, unfortunately, tainted things somewhat, but I hope the winners are pleased and congratulate them all!

The, "Sonic the Hedgehog," movie was surprisingly good and did quite well at the box-office. That made a sequel a sure thing, even if an exact date was unclear. Well, it seems we'll be getting another Sonic movie in April...of 2022. Whether the time needed for all the effects is the cause of the delay or COVID-19 is unclear, but it will be awhile.

On the subject of movies, let's close with an AV Club segment where they look at big blockbusters--it had its most recent segment feature Tom Breihan discussing, "Terminator 2." It nails a lot of points, from what worked (its amazing special effects) to what didn't (the kid sidekick gets annoying). I personally think the first movie with its low-budget grime and horror-flick aesthetic is still the best, though. I also will defend, "Salvation," as not that bad too, however, so what do I know?

That's All for Today
Small, but tasty.

I hope you enjoyed this reasonably-sized portion of links and news. Stay cool and stay positive out there.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

They're Going to Bring Back, "Fable," of all Things

"Fable," was a game series on various Xbox consoles. There were three entries of the main series and some spin-offs. It was made by the now-defunct developer and publisher Lionhead games who created some cool-but-flawed titled. Lionhead was known for much of its existence as being headed by Peter Molyneux. Molyneux was infamous for having amazing ideas that led to big promises and games that always failed to deliver on his claims. As a result, series like, "Fable," were full of neat concepts but could be kind of messy. This makes it interesting that a different studio is going to be bringing back, "Fable," in some form.

As far as I know, Molyneux is not involved in this new, "Fable." This makes me wonder if it'll have the same surreal charm or lack that vibe of, "Kinda broken but still fun," almost all Molyneux's games had. It still looks plenty quirky like the old, "Fable," games at least, but if you remove the heart of a series like, "Fable," with Molyneux being that metaphorical heart, is it really the same kind of series? I suppose we will see when the next, "Fable," game comes out in the future on Xbox Series X, which still strikes me as a such a bizarre name for the new console. Anyways, "Fable," is back. Kind of.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

"One Million Tiny Fires," is Erotic, Surreal, and Terrifying

Ashely Robin Franklin created, "One Million Tiny Fires," for the Intktober event in 2019. Fantastic smaller-press publisher Silver Sprocket assisted in it getting a 2020 print run and I'm glad they did because this is a stellar 40-page one-shot/original graphic novel. Described by Franklin as, "An erotic queer horror comic," I agree it is quite erotic but not erotica, and is full of horror but lacks any kind of jump-scares so much as overwhelming dread. It is for sure a sci-fi tale, but takes place at a really small-scale so it is more slice-of-life than it is some kind of bombastic Summer blockbuster.

The story of, "One Million Tiny Fires," follows Briana and Cassie, a couple in an isolated Texas farmhouse, who have gone from being deeply in love to arguing all the time and threatening to leave one another. One night a strange light lands nearby and Cassie investigates it. After that, things start getting weird. Cassie suddenly is a lot more amorous after having had no interest in sex for quite some time. She also seems kind of aloof and weirdly relaxed compared to how high-strung she once was. Brianna is happy to have physical intimacy again, but things otherwise just

As, "One Million Tiny Fires," proceeds things only get weirder, with the weather shifting and Brianna getting only more and more out of her normal character, it is intense and impressively full of foreboding. Franklin's artwork is fantastic, imparting the intimacy of erotic scenes as expertly as she illustrates some visceral body-horror when things get especially scary towards the end. I really enjoyed, "One Million Tiny Fires," blend of the erotic and the horrifying. You can ask your comic shop to order you a copy or you can buy one directly from Silver Sprocket at their website.
5 out of 5 stars.

The Dangers of Stating Assumptions on Twitter

Tom King is a skilled writer, great guy, and my friend on Facebook. That said, I'm not beyond pointing-out when my friends make a mistake. Tom King made a mistake and got some egg on his face for it. Basically, he has that, "Rorschach," comic coming out and skilled illustrator Jae Lee was hired by DC to do a snazzy variant cover for it. Tom King expressed his displeasure about this on Twitter because he knew Jae Lee had done some covers for people associated with Comicsgate and was therefore assumed to be sympathetic to that group (despite the fact Jae Lee is Korean and Comicsgate is pretty alt-right & lilly-white). Tom King publically called-out Jae Lee for being with a hate group, and this would be fine...except Jae Lee had never even heard of Comicsgate.

Jae Lee doesn't have Twitter. He apparently is not even on the internet that much and I read (then confirmed) he actually still has an email, that is how little he does with tech. The man is an amazing artist but is not really plugged-in to the digital World in the same way many of us are. He would sometimes get emails from people asking him to draw them a cover and he figured it was a gig, so he drew what they asked. If it happened to be a dumbass cybernetic frog created by the monstrous Ethan Van Sciver, Jae Lee had no clue it was related to a hate group, somebody just paid him to draw a stupid frog for a comic that seems like it'll never be coming out anyways (keep scamming your followers, Ethan, they don't seem to mind). Those of us who use social media hear about these things, but if you're relatively disconnected from it all as Jae Lee is, it is understandable you'd be surprised to hear someone was calling you out on a social media platform you don't even use for supporting a hate group you had no idea existed.
One of Jae Lee's Cyberforg covers he made in the past before learning it was for a hate group.
Tom King later tweeted out he had spoken to Jae Lee, Lee did not support hate in any way, and it was, "The best possible outcome." I kind of disagree with that last statement. If King were upset about someone he thought represented Comicsgate had involvement in his works he could have first privately reached-out to DC, or even Lee so he could have been told Lee had zero involvement with the organization beyond drawing some covers before he knew they were a marginalized hate group. Then this would have not blown-up all big and threatened to make Jae Lee look really bad when he's just a nice guy and fantastic artist who avoids social media and its scandals. I just hope King at least apologized to Lee for this as it was so awkward to witness.

Friday, July 24, 2020

"Crossover," Sounds Like a Fun Comic

Donny Cates is a stellar writer and Geoff Shaw is an amazing artist. Together they have done, "Buzzkill," "God Country," and massively popular run on, "Thanos." Hearing they will be teaming up again for a new comic at Image perks my ears right up. Titled, "Crossover," the exact plot seems a little unclear/still under wraps other than it imagines a world where there is a comic-book crossover event that is so amazing it bursts into the real-World (as we know it) and alters the very fabric of reality into a place where fiction no longer exists and anything fantastical can become real. It sounds trippy and over-the-top, but Cates and Shaw haven't let me down yet so I imagine they'll knock it out of the park.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

We're Getting a Season of Big Brother and Possibly Love Island This Year!

I like getting happy news at any point in the day, but there is something wonderful about waking-up to good news. When upon waking you are greeted with joyful news it sets a stellar tone for the rest of the day. Well, after rumors and rumblings it turns out there is going to be a season of, "Big Brother," this year! It seemed like it wouldn't happen, but it is going to occur, and it is going to be an, "All-Stars," season that brings back a number of fan-favorites (and most hated, I assume). This was awesome to hear, and in even more delightful news, my other guilty pleasure of, "Love Island," is possibly going to tape a U.S. season too! It isn't going to be an, "Island," per se due to travel issues. It may be at a big Las Vegas hotel which will have a metaphorical bubble placed over it to keep everyone safe, but true island or not, I'm incredibly hyped. Yes, this has been a good morning.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

You Did Me Wrong, Funko, You Did Me Wrong!

I haven't been collecting Funko Pops as much lately, but I had written about how interested I was in the Black Lightning one due to come out for a virtual comic-con event (that happened today). I also was aware at only 3,000 of them it would be hard. I understood that it was going to be a show exclusive if San Diego Comic-Con AKA Comic-Con International had occurred. COVID-19 resulted in no show, however, so here we are. I logged on this evening when Funko was supposed to have all its exclusives go live, and the entire system fell apart. Happy virtual con season, everyone!

Today, Funko's site was supposed to work for a big influx of users. Instead, the site sputtered, stumbled, and even once it let users through the pages for figuring out the cost of shipping took people upwards of 30 minutes to do anything. I sat and waited, and I was quick, but it was a wreck. If Black Lightning had sold out fast as I've seen some Pops do for other big events, I'd have understood. Waiting forever to only finally be told, "Sorry, it is gone," was outrageous, however. Everyone on Reddit and Twitter is extremely PO'd at Funko, and I'm quite sour myself. Their sever failed horribly, and they were ready with a dumb error message (as seen at the top of the post), but not ready to actually fix things. What a mess you've made, Funko. What a mess indeed.

I've Been Selling Almost All My Warren Ellis-Written Stuff

It started out as his name being mentioned as someone who was rumored to be preying upon women and engaging in sexual coercion. Then more and more women and female-presenting non-binary individuals came forth. Now there is a website, "So Many of Us," that has over 60 shared occurrences of, "...people who have been targeted and manipulated by Warren Ellis, author." It makes me feel sick to think Ellis engaged in this pattern of behavior for years--and even after issuing a weak, "Apology," recently kept acting in such a manner.

I was and in a way still am a huge fan of Warren Ellis. That said, as more and more has come out showing his treatment of a number of women and female-presenting individuals I have come to a conclusion. I personally do not feel like I want to own many of the hardcovers, trades, written works, and some floppies I have that were written by Ellis. I'm not here to debate his behavior (so don't bother excusing him) and have zero issues with anyone wanting to own his works. I just personally do not want to anymore and thought I would sell most of the things I own by him. I will be keeping my issues of his run on, "Moon Knight," because I am a completist when it comes to the character. I will not, however, be displaying those issues proudly anymore, instead hiding them away in a shortbox with my less-notable issues.

The rest is that big ol' stack pictured which I've been working at selling in online groups and selling websites. None of it is especially valuable, maybe worth $4 a trade and $8 a hardcover. I won't make a ton selling it, but I just feel like I don't want to have it anymore. When I look at his works I no longer am reminded of how much I enjoyed them, just what it is now out in the open Ellis has done to so many lives. There is no way to undo how much Ellis' work meant to me; I honestly don't want to forget how his works impacted me. I myself, and simply myself, just don't want to own his creations anymore.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Comic Publisher Dynamite Has Really Stepped In It Now--"It," Being Dumb Controversy

Comicsgate is a hate group known for harassing anyone who isn't a white, straight, male whilst putting out really low-quality comics (or getting such comics funding yet never releasing them). They are afwul and anyone with sense is sure to distance themselves from Comicsgate. Well, for a period of time the publisher Dynamite Entertainment--under the direction of CEO Nick Barruci--seemed to be uncomfortably chummy with certain folk who were Comicsgate-adjacent if one went looking into it (I never did, so I had zero clue). This went from subtle to outright apparent recently as Dynamite promoted a Comicsgate project on their Twitter with an Indiegogo campaign and had a sponsored variant cover for it. Many people were understandably upset and readers, as well as creators, made this displeasure clear.

A number of folk working at Dynamite said they would be leaving once their contract expired, fans said they were done with the company, a lot happened over a weekend. After a lot of chatter, Barruci announced Dynamite wouldn't be doing a variant cover, but said it was because the cover was, "Polarizing." He didn't denounce Comicgate or offer any kind of apology for seeming to be so close with a hate group. It's been messy. Now those who hate Comicsgate are mad at Dynamite and Comicsgate is all pissy that Dynamite has, "Betrayed," it or some dumb B.S. As a result of this, Comicsgate's arguable leader, the horrific Ethan Van Sciver, has said Barruci worked with multiple Comicsgate creators on projects secretly for a good deal of time, basically throwing his former supposed ally under the bus. Is Dynamite Entertainment going to have economic troubles now and/or hemorrhage creators? Will Barruci quit or be ousted? Will Comicsgate ever just finally go away? These are the questions, and we will have to wait and see for answers.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Advance Review: Zebedee and the Valentines

Abs Bailey is a new creator whose debut graphic novel, "Zebedee and the Valentines," is quite impressive! I had a chance to read an advance digital copy and was delighted by the illustrations and the story was a solid tale of a rock band struggling to make it big--with all the drama that can entail.

An upcoming release from Avery Hill Publishing,"Zebedee and the Valentines," takes place in 1982, "Somewhere," around the suburbs of Southern England. Zebedee is an egocentric lead singer for the titular band and the book follows his clash of personalities with fellow bandmates as a chance to compete in a massive, "Battle of the Bands," event brings with it both opportunities and conflict. The plot is solid and relatively straightforward in its telling of a, "Small band tries to make it big," yarn, but what really caught my attention is Bailey's artwork.
Abs Bailey's illustrative work is both outlandish and cartoony, but carries a bit of a dark edge that can get eerily trippy, with a dream sequence mid-book with Zebedee really astounding my senses. Bailey's drawing and colors are phenomenal and result in a book that is a pure pleasure to read from its start to finish. Between the good story and astonishing artwork, it makes, "Zebedee and the Valentines," a book that is absolutely worth checking out.

"Zebedee and the Valentines," is due to be released in the United Kingdom on September 10th, 2020; its release date for America is October 14th, 2020. Go ahead and preorder your copy at your local comic shop/bookstore/online retailer today. If you like quality comics you'll love this book!
5 out of 5 stars.

Note: I am on the press list for Avery Hill Publishing and they send digital review copies of comics often, this was one of them that was provided for free in hopes of/exchange for a review

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Those, "On Sale Wednesday Variants," Were Really Ugly

This started out as a fleeting thought, but it kept coming back. It wouldn't stop bugging me so I'm putting it out into the internet with my blog. Those, "On Sale Wednesday Variants," that came out this week from Marvel were truly ugly. Just hideous.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, here is the strange tale: DC of course now has different distributors and allows their comics to be sold on Tuesday. Marvel is still with Diamond, which has comics go on sale Wednesday. To commemorate this random fact, Marvel announced special, "On Sale Wednesday," variants to...I dunno, be petty? In an initial preview they featured one big blob of color and text declaring, "On Sale Wednesday." People assumed these ugly images were placeholder art for the actual special variants. They were wrong.

Despite rumors that these, "On Sale Wednesday Variants," would feature unique cover art or be, "Virgin," variants of the issues they were solicited for, they were actually just really covers, nothing more. The whole thing is dumb, ugly, and (as I said), petty. In the ultimate weird twist, some are still trending for above cover-price on eBay, meaning there are people who actually want to own these. The whole thing is bizarre and a waste in my opinion, however.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

"Stranger Things," is Getting Sued. Yes, Again!

Considering I've never watched, "Stranger Things," it is probably odd how intrigued I get any time there is a lawsuit about the show. Perhaps it is just because the dang program seems to attract a lot of statements of, "They ripped me off!" Now, when plagiarism is claimed it can either be due to the fact jealous people want money, but there could very well be some truth. I'm not going to draw conclusions either way about the Duffer Bros and their, "Stranger Things," lawsuits, but the first one was quietly settled the day before they would've had to go to court, and now there is yet another claim of, "They're idea bandits!" from Aaron Sims of Irish Rover Entertainment.

I imagine this case will either end-up being dismissed or settled before anyone has to testify because if it is flimsy it will fall apart real quick and if it does have enough legs to go to court--true or not--Netflix will shell-out enough dough to make it go away because they don't want any court testimonies to reveal information about what future seasons could hold and/or the slightest chance Netflix could lose a case will terrify the company. Anyways, should I start watching, "Stranger Things," sometime, seeing as I follow all this drama surrounding the show? It's been in my, "To watch at some point," queue for years.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Flashback Friday: Magneto: Not a Hero

You ever have a comic series or mini-series you really liked that everyone else seems to forget even existed? That is me with the four-issue mini, "Magneto: Not a Hero," from 2012. I don't know why it is basically unknown as it is quite well-written and has gorgeous art. Skottie Young--who is normally known more for his drawing--wrote it and Clay Mann provided some stellar illustration that really imparted how powerful Magneto could be when he let his power loose in some wild fight scenes. Plus, the series brought-back a long-forgotten plot point that was kind of a big hole in continuity (for you continuity-obsessives). Seriously, why is this forgotten?

The plot, as it were, features it looking like Magneto is committing anti-human terrorist acts, which kind of sounds like what Magneto would do even if he claims he's currently trying to be peaceful for the sake of the X-Men (this happened during one of the times he had joined up with a team of X-Men). It is revealed his long-forgotten clone, Joseph, who was thought to have maybe died previously but it was never conclusively proven, is to blame. This results in Magneto and Joseph (along with some other mutant clones Joseph has made) brawling, Magneto working to clear his name while learning Joseph is working with some nefarious groups, and again, it looks really good because Mann is a skilled artist who now does bigger-name books because he's gained acclaim.
"Magneto: Not a Hero," is a footnote of a mini-series that seems to only ever be thought of nowadays by Magneto completists. That's a shame as this is a fantastic bit of issues that really say a lot about Magneto, his views on mutants and humans, and fills-in some story gaps with a random character in the form of Joseph too. It is truly worth seeking out the individual issues (you can probably find them in dollar bins) or buying the trade paperback collection to give a read.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Film Friday Even Though It's Thursday: "Feels Good Man," Looks Like a Fascinating Documentary

Matt Furie created a comic called, "Boy's Club," years ago. I actually reviewed the 3rd and 4th issues in 2011. It was a fun comic full of gross-out, "Stoner humor," which featured a character who was a frog. He was named Pepe. Over time Pepe the Frog became a meme online and then was weirdly taken-up by hate groups and became a symbol of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and general terrible stuff. Furie was utterly shocked to see his innocent creation basically stolen and turned into something awful. He spoke out against this and went so far as to sue people who tried to profit off negative images of Pepe (e.g. selling products with Pepe he did not approve of featuring terrible imagery). It has been a surreal saga for Furie, and the documentary, "Feels Good Man," follows the whole strange story.

"Feels Good Man," premiered at Sundance in January of 2020, before the entire World fell apart (I vaguely remember the times before COVID-19) and received positive reviews. As a fan of Furie's work and someone who has followed the absurd usage of Pepe as a symbol of hate instead of fun, I am quite interested in watching this when it premieres--most likely on some streaming service or another.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A, "Rorschach," Comic is Coming

In news that did and didn't surprise me, we are getting a new, "Watchmen,"-themed comic. That part I could've predicted as, "Doomsday Clock," was relatively successful and the, "Watchmen," television show was a smash-hit. It is titled, "Rorschach," and focused on that popular character--again, not too hard to call. The part I would not have predicted is that Tom King will be writing it in the style of his 12 issue maxi-series that tend to be really good, with Jorge Fornés on the artwork. It'll be a Black Label book, as the other mature-reader lines are now dead (we miss you, Vertigo).

I'm intrigued about this new title as when Tom King is on, he is on with his works, and generally his maxi-series are his best work. Fornés is a skilled artist as well so the book is gonna look swell too. Seeing these properties used without the permission of Alan Moore--who was so horrendously mistreated by DC--fills me with a bit of dread and sadness, but at this point, DC clearly doesn't really care what Moore thinks and Moore is going to do his own thing as well. In the meantime, I hope King and Fornés give us something snazzy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Don't Use a Holocaust Quote to Promote Your Game

The upcoming game, "Watch Dogs: Legion," looks incredibly timely, as Kotaku observed. It is in a futuristic UK which post-Brexit is pretty fascist and totalitarian--cops brutalizing people, xenophobia everywhere, basically what America and Great Britan are currently grappling with. In an effort to impart a message of sorts, Ubisoft went and reworked a famous quote about the Holocaust to promote their game, something else Kotaku noted. No, bad Ubisoft, bad!

The quote is the famous one about how, "First the came for the ____," and the poet, Martin Niemöller, did not speak out because it didn't impact him, and by the time the Nazis came for him nobody was left to protest. It is pretty famous. Ubisoft tweaked it to be timely for their game and not be about Nazis. This is dumb. Now, I'm not saying you can't discuss Nazis or the Holocaust in your games. It would make perfect sense to use a Holocaust quote or alter it a bit if your game were about modern-day Nazis (which is something else that is depressingly timely), but, "Watch Dogs: Legion," is about fascism in general and as far as we all know has nothing to do with Nazis. This makes taking a quote about the Holocaust of all things and altering it to suit your purposes extremely inappropriate and tone-deaf.

Ubisoft is already dealing with tons of scandals so having this fiasco piled on top ain't gonna help. I just wish someone with an ounce of common-sense had put a stop to the idea of taking a poem about the Holocaust and using it to promote a game that has nothing to do with Nazis. That said, at least, "Watch Dogs: Legion," looks like it could be fun, idiotic promotions aside.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Sounds Like the July 2020 ToyMan Show Went Well!

As I mentioned last week when it was approaching, there was a ToyMan show that occurred yesterday. I was able to stop by early in the day before it kicked-off and wish everyone well, but had some obligations that came-up and which kept me from being able to be there much. I did see some chums such as John Chaffee from Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles and Spike Forester of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles. I also had the pleasure of meeting Jack Thomas of Fortress Comics who had come from some distance to sell some awesome books I enjoyed examining before I had to take off!

It sounds like the rest of the ToyMan show went well with everyone wearing their masks, practicing social distancing, and keeping themselves properly sanitized. There is another show on August 23rd and it should be stellar too!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

That Upcoming, "The Batman," Movie Already Has a Spin-Off Show

In news that makes me cautiously optimistic, there are plans in place for an HBO Max spin-off of that upcoming, "The Batman," movie which focuses on the Gotham Police Department. Tentatively titled like the comic that did the same thing some years ago, "Gotham Central," this could be a quality show. It would explore the morally gray areas of cops, police corruption, the sometimes overlooked supporting cast of Batman's universe, and how hard it must be to try and enforce any kind of rules in a city like Gotham. There is one current super-hero related show that does a good job showing the complex relationship between a vigilante and a sometimes-questionable police force--"Black Lightning," but I'd welcome more multi-layered examinations of law enforcement with the trappings of Gotham's rich lore.

Now, if the movie isn't good and bombs this will probably all go down the tubes, but again, I'm cautiously optimistic. Robert Pattinson is a solid actor (despite some folk being sour on him) and Matt Reeves is working on directing the movie and being involved closely with the series too, so clearly, this isn't some loose barely-related tie-in. Plus, if it means we get more of the amazing Jeffery Wright as Commissioner Gordon I'm all for it. Let's hope this all goes well.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Trump Isn't Even Hiding The Corruption

He got what he wanted.
Trump barely was hiding his corruption at first, but as time has gone on he and more and more brazen. Now, he has commuted the sentence of Roger Stone, who was supposed to do a bit under four years in prison for his part in letting a foreign power (Russia) try to influence the Presidential election. Roger Stone won't do a day in prison for his high crimes. I said to my wife if Obama had done this for a friend who got convicted the Republican party would throw a fit--but then we both agreed Obama doesn't have any friends who are doing these kinds of crimes (unlike Trump who seems to have ONLY friends committing treason--looking at you, Michael Flynn).

Trump isn't even hiding the corruption anymore and all the fools who support him still keep cheering with blind admiration; meanwhile, COVID-19 is hitting us harder than ever and people deny it is a problem while refusing to wear a damn mask so yeah, things are pretty bad in America right now. Please, everyone, vote Trump out this November even though he will try his hardest to commit fraud or deny any losing results. Vote, please!

Friday, July 10, 2020

CGC is Moving into Grading Cards

In news I find interesting, CGC is moving into grading cards. CGC is best known for grading comics as well as concert posters and the like, but have not graded cards before. They just now have started offering grading for cards from two trading card games, however. "Magic: The Gathering," and, "The Pokemon Trading Card Game," now can have their cards graded and encapsulated by CGC. This is pretty interesting, but it made me wonder, "What about sports cards?" seeing as that is a big business as well.

Less than a day after I pondered that, I received an email from CGC and saw articles discussing that email about how they are looking for experts so they can start authenticating and grading sports cards as well. It won't be CGC itself doing sports grading though, it will be a new sub-company, CSG, or Certified Sports Guaranty. Clearly CGC is expanding its focus with all these trading cards and sports cards being certified!

I haven't collected Pokemon cards since I was a young lad and have zero knowledge about sports cards. I also never did much with, "Magic," even though friends wanted me to give it a try because it looked like an expensive hobby to pursue (and I've spent enough on other things I enjoy that adding something else costly would be difficult). Hence, with my lack of knowledge, I'm not sure if CGC and their new CSG sub-company will be welcomed by those who collect trading cards and sports cards or met with some resistance--I simply am not a part of those circles. I personally find it interesting to see CGC expanding so much, however, and wish them the best. In the meantime, I'll just be sending them comics still, and should I somehow come across a bunch of valuable cards I'll know to have them help me with those too.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Marvel Reverses Course, Returns Some Series to Print

I had written about how Marvel decided to suddenly take some series that had physical issues already released and finish them out/keep them going as digital-only comics. Then DC decided to do the same thing as well. In an interesting twist, Marvel has changed their mind and comics that were going to be printed but then made digital are in fact going to be printed as individual issues--all 19 of them. This is good as now people who would otherwise be unable to have a whole series (besides in trade paperback) will be able to own all the issues of a title. I am not sure what made Marvel change their mind, but I'm glad they did.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The Next ToyMan Show is Less Than a Week Away

The May ToyMan show had to be canceled due to the impact of COVID-19 on...well, the entire World. However, this Sunday, July 12th, the next scheduled ToyMan show will be happening, and it is going to have a whole bunch of safety features so that people can attend with minimal risk. Face masks will be required as well as supplied, the hall capacity will be capped at 50% (about 250 guests in the large main hall at a time), and hand sanitizer stations will make sure the sanitizer flows freely for all. Between the vendors and carefully limited number of attendees, it should be a pretty safe and very fun time.

Should you choose to attend, it is as always at the Machinist Hall District 9 found at 12365 St. Charles Rock Road in Bridgeton, Missouri. They'll be a variety of vendors of toys, comics, and basically, anything of interest you can think of (there is always a ton of cool stuff) in addition to snazzy guests--you know the drill, it's a great event. It is understandable if some folk have hesitation about attending, and there will be future shows to go to as well; for those who are hankering for something fun to do, however, it is great ToyMan is taking so many steps for safety so folk can attend a fun show!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Television Tuesday: Space Force

Ah, "Space Force." The show loosely based on some quite dumb real-World event. Yes, it was savaged by critics, but lots of people seemed to watch it (as far as we know, Netflix is always cagey about viewership) and my wife and I gave the 10 episodes a shot too. We actually quite liked it, so I guess we're different than a big chunk of reviewers! Yes, it starts off a little slow but by the 3rd episode, it really gets rolling and continues to entertain. The cast is solid with Steve Carrell, Lisa Kudrow, John Malkovich, and plenty of other comedic folks who get smaller but hilarious roles involved. The show never makes the military look stupid but refuses to fawn over it as well.

Basically, "Space Force," is about a bunch of people who mean well but can't seem to agree easily. Be they the 4 star General played by Carrell butting-heads with Malkovich's civilian scientist, or the countless other individuals struggling to make this new military branch work as a talked-about but never named or seen (beyond some texts) President who is just called, "POTUS," or, "The President," wreaks havoc here-and-there.

It is clever this show doesn't outright mention or reckon with Donald Trump, as that would in some ways immediately date it. By having the President just be this unseen force of chaos it could be any fictional President causing trouble, just as easily as Donald Trump making a mess. "Space Force," and its ensemble of characters all balance each other out pretty well and the 30-ish minute episodes go by at a snappy pace, rarely feeling too long or overly decompressed as some Netflix shows are known to struggle with (the infamous and oft-discussed Netflix bloat).

Generally, each episode introduces a challenge for the cast of, "Space Force," they handle it as well as they can, and some subplots keep simmering in the background until the end of season 1 where we get a bunch of cliffhangers. It is a formula, yes, but it works and results in a fun show. I'm not sure exactly why the critics were so savage towards, "Space Force," and my friends all seemed to either absolutely love it or hate it. Samii and I thought it was pretty darn entertaining and we look forward to a presumed second season.
4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, July 6, 2020

I'm Annoyed How Limited This Black Lightning Funko Pop Will Be

I still collect Funko Pops of my favorite characters/shows/etc. despite having cooled a bit on the hobby due to it feeling oversaturated with new releases constantly spilling-out. That said, when Funko announced a Black Lightning Funko Pop to be released as a part of their virtual convention (what with Comic-Con International/San Diego Comic-Con canceled) I was excited! Then I saw it was limited to 3,000 figures. Come on, Funko.

Funko doesn't do limited runs as much now, and when they do it is generally a variant of a Pop (like its chrome, glow-in-the-dark, and so forth). This is not the case with Black Lightning. It is just the really cool Pop, limited to 3,000. If there were a SDCC it would have been exclusive to the show, methinks, but as everything is going to be online there is maybe a sliver of a chance people can buy it for retail. I know I'm going to try as I'm a fan of the character in the comics as well as loving the television show. Here's hoping it all goes well! Should I manage to get one, I might just see if friend of the blog and creator of Black Lightning, Tony Isabella, would be willing to sign it for me--now that'd be cool!

Sunday, July 5, 2020

"Blood Force Trauma," #1 is an Exciting and Funny Comic

Some months ago I backed the Kickstarter campaign for the first issue of, "Blood Force Trauma." It took it an extra month or so to come out due to COVID-19, but I now have it and greatly enjoyed reading it! Set in the futuristic-yet-retro Edge City, "Blood Force Trauma," is also the name of a popular (and extremely brutal) fighting show. In a unique twist a viewer of the show who books a ticket, Zap Daniels, ends-up being called-up to fight, and from there, things get pretty crazy.

Creators Jake Smith and Hiram Corbett provide some fantastic humor, great action, and the atmosphere of the artwork fits the tone perfectly with its neon excess and, "What the 80s thought the future might be like," styled vibe. This first issue never takes itself too seriously, but avoids being overly slapstick or just telling jokes. There clearly are some mysteries afoot and future issues will explore just why Zap is suddenly made into a BFT fighter. It is all very entertaining.
"Blood Force Trauma," #1 is a great read and I'm pleased I backed it when I saw it on Kickstarter a bit ago. I look forward to future issues and would encourage you to check it out too!
4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Be Extra-Safe This July 4th!

Today is July 4th, so don't just be safe this year, be a bit extra-safe. Normally I advise everyone to be careful in regards to drinking (and not driving), fireworks (try to avoid injuries), and all that. This year I'm saying to be even more careful, however, because we have COVID-19 to be concerned about as well. You know the drill--practice social distancing if you have any kind of gathering, wear a mask, and so forth. With all that kept in mind, you should have a great 4th of July! Oh, and if you live anywhere besides America, have a good regular day!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Film Friday: "Batman Returns," is the Best Batman Movie

I'm going to just say it. "Batman Returns," is the best Batman movie. Now, "The Dark Knight," is the best Joker movie thanks to Heath Ledger's incredible performance, but I love, "Batman Returns." The first Batman movie, 1989's purely titled, "Batman," is fantastic with Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, but I still love the sequel more. Keaton seems even more at home in the role, Danny DeVito kills it as the Penguin, Christopher Walken is a delightfully sleazy Max Shreck, and Michelle Pfeiffer is tied for best Catwoman ever with Eartha Kitt.

The cast is amazing, the plot is clever with its election tale of The Penguin being a monster but creating a positive public image to try and gain a position of power (always relevant), and the imagery is a crazy as you'd expect with Tim Burton directing (he directed the debut, "Batman," as well and just as with Keaton seems more at home in the sequel). From seeing it as a youngster to revisiting it as an adult today, "Batman Returns," is a cinematic delight and my favorite Batman movie when it comes to Batman--again, "The Dark Knight," wins when it comes to the best movie with a Joker involved.

Currently, rumors abound about Keaton returning as Batman for future DC movies. I'm quite eager for such a thing to occur if it turns out to be true as whenever I picture Batman, the person I see is Michael Keaton. I hear Kevin Conroy's voice coming out of his mouth, oddly enough (all those years of the cartoon), but I see Keaton. The reason for that is, "Batman Returns," the best Batman movie.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Going (Band)Camping: Edition 2

My last post was fun so here we are with the second entry of my occasional segment, "Going (Band)Camping," which I continue to think is more hilarious and clever a title than it probably is. The thing that unifies all of these albums and eps is that they can be found on the stellar music-platform Bandcamp. A great resource for indie or big-name musicians, I've loved finding new music and artists I know on Bandcamp since I started using it lately. Hence, here I am offering my opinions on what I've listened to lately. Let's begin...

Tenci--"My Heart is an Open Field"
Tenci is singer Jess Shoman and her band giving us some damn fine folk music. "My Heart is an Open Field," slowly released singles from the album over the past number of months, with many observing how good they sounded, and now its out and the whole thing is incredible. There is not a single track I disliked, but there were some I absolutely adored (such as, "Joy 2,") on this stellar release. The soft and thoughtful voice of Shoman along with perfectly relaxing instrumentation produces a truly beautiful LP that I give my highest recommendation. You can buy the digital download/vinyl record/cd/cassette here.
5 out of 5 stars.

Neon Vectors--Cyber Love
"Cyber Love," is an album full of music that people describe as, "Vaporwave." The genre of vaporware can best be thought of as if house music and disco had a baby and it went on to be obsessed with drenching everything in a neon glow along with having an 80's fashion sense plus a fondness for old tech. It's a wild hodge-podge, in other words, but it sure is catchy. The artist, Neon Vectors, has assembled a tight little album here, with some fantastic tracks, ("Facetime Tonight!" and, "The Way U Make Me Feel," and others that are solid even if they don't really grab you as much ("Night Disco," drags for me). Overall, "Cyber Love," is a rollicking good time and makes you want to get-up and dance when you're listening to it. Get a copy of the digital album here.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Spliff Jacksun--Sanctuary
Spliff Jacksun's latest release of beats makes for a delightful beat tape (whether you actually buy it on tape or another format). It is smooth, but never too relaxed, and carries itself with the self-assuredness of a rising sun while also giving of a bit of a groggy and hazy vibe that accompanies such an early morning. Sometimes a hint of strings or gentle melody will occur, but the various and well-crafted beats are what steal the show and make this album so listenable. You don't quite chill-out to, "Sanctuary," so much as you relax in a state of heightened awareness and absorb its pleasures. To summarize: It's great! Find a copy in your preferred format here.
5 out of 5 stars.

Mike Vass--Man Alone With Himself 
Vass released this experimental folk EP with a, "Pay what you want," pricetag for those who have had their income, "...adversely affected by the Covid-19 crisis," or who have supported fundraisers for this EP previously. That's very thoughtful of him, and the mixture of classic folk style with a bit of unique synth bass or other out-there effects at times thrown in creates a lovely four tracks. Only one song was not to my tastes ("Shadow in the Flame,") with all other three being just perfect and delightful to sit and hear play-out. Vass recorded this solo-ish layering the sounds himself with assistance mastering the mixes and such. It's a fantastic EP and considering you can pay what you like for it, I'd encourage you to contribute whatever you're able and get the digital download here.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Antarctigo Vespucci--Love in the Time of Email
"Love in the Time of Email," is a stellar album by Antarctigo Vespucci, a collaboration between an assortment of gentleman who had been in other bands but came together to make something special. I'd describe this album as being pop-rock/power-pop with an occasional punk edge in addition to sometimes just barely hinting at some emo vibes. Whatever the genre is, its damn good music. Every single track is listenable, but there are some that totally steal the show such as, "Freakin' U Out," "All These Nights," and, "Another Good Thing." The lyrics are clever, singer Chris Farren has a stupendous voice, and the instrumentation is consistently on-point. "Love in the Time of Email," is just a real treat of an album and should be in your regular rotation of favorite LPs. Cop yourself a vinyl/cd/cassette/digital LP here.
5 out of 5 stars.