Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Wow, Chewy Has Great Customer Service

I was shocked by Chewy the other day--in a good way. I was trying to figure something out about some cat food and could not find an answer on the website. The site gave a number to call. I called it, and a human answered, asking how she could help me. I was quite surprised. No automated menu, no robo-voice I had to repeatedly yell, "Associate!" at, just a lady answering the phone ready to answer my cat food question. It was impressive. She helped me with my problem and within a few minutes, the phone call was done, with me knowing which cat food our kitties needed. Why can't more websites be this easy and direct? It would be wonderful if I could get in contact with AT&T anytime our television is acting-up with this much ease and a lot less navigating confusing phone menus. I appreciate you, Chewy, thanks for having great customer service.

Note: This is an opinion post, Chewy did not pay me for this and is not even aware I have a blog.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Bad Idea Announced Their Upcoming Comics Today and They Look Snazzy


After much teasing and a surprise ashcan (that was pretty good reading), Bad Idea has announced their upcoming slate of comics that'll launch in early 2021. I continue to be quite intrigued by this publisher and their unique ideas (direct distribution, no variants, etc.) so seeing that their upcoming comics look like they'll actually be really cool is encouraging. After all, if you have cool ideas but the comics suck why bother? Thankfully, all the announced books look pretty darn impressive. 

There is the previously-discussed, "Eniac,"  about an evil supercomputer with issue #1 kicking things off in March of 2021. We've got the one that really caught my eye--"Tankers," which involves big tanks traveling through time to try and keep the Dinosaurs alive a bit longer to make more fossil fuel--it is clearly comedic in tone. Another neat title is, "Whalesville," which is an all-ages tale of a young child being eaten by a whale and discovering a magical World in its belly. Plus there is the horror-sounding title, "The Lot," with a film studio that has a dark secret (I'm also pumped for that one), and lastly a one-shot about Santa Claus going nuts, "Slay Bells."

Every title will apparently be in interesting sizes (not just a standard floppy), be loaded with bonus features, have high-quality paper, and just cost $3.99. I'm very excited for 2021 when these all start coming out and continue to stand by my assertion that the way Bad Idea is doing things they are either going to be a smashing success or an incredible failure. I hope things go well though because these comics all look so rad.

Monday, September 28, 2020

An Open Letter to the Los Angeles Comic-Con on Their Terrible Idea to Do a Show in Late 2020

Hey, Los Angeles Comic-Con. Yes, I'm talking to you. I heard that despite the pandemic going on--you know, the one that has decimated the World--you plan to actually have a large comic-convention. I just wanted to tell you that this is a really bad idea. If COVID-19 were non-existent or even relatively controlled I could get behind having a show. After all, I love comic-cons, big and small. That said, delaying your show from late-October to December 11th-13th doesn't make things any safer. 

You can state you'll have extensive safety measures, but you're still putting a ton of people in a small space (regardless of how you plan to expand the convention area and stagger sessions of attendees), and if something goes wrong--which there is a high probability of--you've created a super spreading event. I will repeat my point again: This is a bad idea. We all miss comic-cons but we shouldn't risk our health and safety or the lives of others just to have some fun. I hope you listen to the experts, general folk like me, and simple common-sense. Don't do this show during a Worldwide pandemic. It's hella dumb.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Rant-Reviews: Some New Series to Examine

 Always New Comics

Basically, any week with comic-books being released will have some new titles coming out as well. Whether they are from bigger publishers or the indies, new stuff abounds. You can't always judge a comic/movie/show by its first issue or pilot, but you can still review it and get a general idea, right? I hope you agree with me because that's exactly what we're going to do today.

Heavy #1

Ah, Max Bemis. He has written some comics I liked such as, "Oh, Killstrike," and penned books I absolutely hated such as his take on Moon Knight. Where does his latest book published by Vault, "Heavy," fall on my scale of loving-or-despising? Well, I thought it was pretty good. "Heavy," is a mish-mash of ideas, involving a multidimensional World where people try to save others in various realities in order to get into the pearly gates if they died and weren't evil enough for Hell or good enough for Heaven. Our protagonist goes and beats-up shitty people in the hopes he'll qualify for heaven, but a twist at the end of the issue (that I saw coming from a mile away) throws a wrench in that plan. I was entertained by the more wild ideas in this comic even if certain plot points were telegraphed way too obviously early on. As I said, it was pretty good. I'll see where its going, I think, and if it keeps my attention I'll continue reading it!

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Hotline Miami: Wildlife #1

I've written about the first, "Hotline Miami," and how bizarre a game it is before. There is almost no plot until some last-minute reveals at the end if you've gathered puzzle pieces, otherwise the game is mostly a mystery of a secretive group finding a way to get people to start committing mass-murder. Murder of gangsters and other bad guys, yes, but still some violent stuff. How do you make a comic based on that with more than just a ton of bloody violence? Well, this comic starts out with a ton of gore, but then interestingly delves into what kind of people might get drawn into a weird conspiracy of answering phone calls, wearing Halloween masks, and committing murder. Namely, people who are already a 

When the protagonist of our story is obsessed with patriotism, does a lot of substances, and seems prone to anger, it seems maybe whoever is wanting to use him as a violent tool has some advantages in picking him compared to some other random person. There isn't anything revelatory in this first issue, but it is a decent start that does get you thinking a bit.

3 out of 5 stars.

Black Widow #1

Every year or two Marvel seems to launch another, "Black Widow," solo comic in the hopes this one is a hit. Usually, the routine is the same of her doing spy-stuff and beating people up while fighting another evil spy organization. It can get a bit rote. This issue actually starts out just like that, but then suddenly swerves. Natasha seems to suffer a surprise assault with a bunch of tranq-darts to the neck and then its three months later and she's going by a new name in San Fransico with a new job, a boyfriend, and a strangely peaceful life. Does she know what's going on? It seems she isn't undercover so much as being tricked--especially with the reveal of a surprise villain at the end who I'm 99% sure has never interacted with Black Widow before. This twist in the usual, "Black Widow," comic formula has gotten my attention, as instead of the usual spycraft something much weirder is afoot. I'm here for it.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Fishkill #1

Written by Dan Fogler and Laurence Blum, the fact this was illustrated by Ben Templesmith is what caught my eye as I'm a fan of Templesmith's work. It looks gorgeous for sure in this issue, which is a solid debut following a detective named Bart Fishkill who ends-up working as a bridge safety officer as punishment for repeated insubordination. The synopsis for the comic actually lays-out everything that is going to happen in this issue and future ones, which is interesting and indicates there is a big plan. We witness a terror attack on the bridge and the opening text indicates Bart will be blamed and hated by some and greeted as a revolutionary by others. This issue just ends with the bridge having the explosion, however, so it is hard to gauge much of the story besides that. Still, Templesmith's art is stellar and I liked what I read, even if it was just a snippet of what is indicated as coming.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Stillwater #1

It takes till the end for the main point of the comic to make itself known, but once it arrived I was very interested. Chip Zdarsky wrote, "Stillwater," the latest Image release, and while he's quite known for his humorous writing or art, he can do drama well too. With Ramon K. Perez on art we follow the story of two men arriving at a town where nobody can actually age or die within the city limits. I'd say that's a spoiler, but the comic was solicited with that as the big interesting hook the book would explore. It takes until basically the end of the issue for everything to become apparent, kind of like the above-reviewed, "Fishkill," but there's nothing wrong with some good lead-up. What exactly is due to happen now that some outsiders know the secret of the town (or if one is actually less of an outsider than one would think) remains to be seen. It was some good stuff, however.

4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

News and Links for September 2020


As the song goes, "Wake me up when September ends." Why do I say that? Well, October is generally my favorite month and September is kind of meh. Couple that with a horrendous year from 2020 and the sooner we get to a month I like, the better. That said, there has been some interesting news this month, so let's explore it.

News, Links, Fun Readin'

Celebrity cameos have kind of come to dominate much of, "Saturday Night Live," we all know that. The AV Club takes an interesting view in arguing maybe this isn't a bad thing, however?

Graham Smith of RockPaperShotgun pointed-out that people always get so hung-up on if a device can run the game, "Crysis," all these years later (or its new remastered version) that people forget it actually was a pretty creative and fun game wild graphics aside.

Reading that many of the more extreme Wellness-focused communities we find online that used to be pretty far-left have morphed into believing far-right conspiracy theories like that of QAnon is not surprising (they always bought into whacked-out theories about things like vaccines that put them in a paradoxical overlap with far-right people). It isn't surprising, but it still is extremely worrisome.

The co-creator of the Punisher, Gerry Conway, has been outspoken as his disgust at how the character is used as a hero by some. He recently shared some thoughts about the comic-book industry and how he would retool it. His statements that the Direct Market is a mess are accurate, but he goes pretty far in his plan to basically cancel and retool all hero-comics. An interesting viewpoint for sure, however.

The structural and institutional racism and sexism at the Virginia Military Institute is disgusting, as this piece by Michael Harriot for The Root explores.

I myself have said many times that if Trump loses the 2020 election he will refuse to concede. Now he has confirmed himself that he'll have to be dragged out of the White House kicking and screaming. I honestly pray Biden wins and we get a lovely image of Trump being thrown out of the White House in the same manner as Jazz would get tossed out on, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."

Mad Cave Studios is a smaller comic publisher who put out some cool books. They just announced they are going to be launching a young adult imprint known as, "Maverick," which has some really cool looking titles on the way.

Stacey Henley is not going to buy the new Harry Potter game because it only serves to help known transphobe J.K. Rowling and states why you should avoid the game as well in this piece. I don't have any interest in the, "Harry Potter," universe so it sounds less impressive I shall avoid it. Still, I'm happy to ignore the game and not give Rowling any more fuel for her hateful fires.

Finally, I was under the impression that Zack Snyder's version of, "Justice League," was done and just needed post-production. I thought that was he had said it constantly to anyone who would listen. Therefore, color me oh-so-surprised they may actually need to shoot some new scenes for his version of the movie. I swear, with however much money HBO MAX is dumping into this I hope they get the desired subscribers and glowing reviews some claim this 4 hour(!) flick will get. It will either be great or a terrible slog, and based on Snyder's track record I am indeed concerned. This is coming from someone who actually has kinda liked his movies, so yeah.

When September Ends...

Now then, I leave you as I have before in September-timed posts with my favorite cover of that classic song by a very talented musician:

Stay safe, everyone.

Friday, September 25, 2020

"No Going Back," Graphic Novel Review

 I previously made a post about, "No Going Back," when it first launched its Kickstarter campaign. I observed it looked like a really interesting original graphic novel, clocking in at 201 pages and focused on a town that built a wall to keep out the World when everything fell apart around 16 years ago. I was able to acquire a digital copy from the publisher, Arledge Comics, for the purposes of review and absolutely loved it.

Written by Mike Furth, the protagonist of, "No Going Back," is a young girl named Rebecca. Tired of hearing about how miserable the World is outside her town's wall she wants to explore. Without spoiling too much I will say Rebecca does escape and all kinds of wild adventuring takes place afterward. As much as I enjoyed the story, the art by Anna Wiezczyk is truly astounding. With a bit of a manga influence but also working in some surreal imagery that defies any Nationality, Wieczyk's artwork is amazing. 

The comic is mostly in black-and-white but at times has splashes of red that provide extra emphasis--it goes without saying that blood is red. With Natalie Coope as editor, the book flows well from chapter to chapter and between the great writing and gorgeous artwork, "No Going Back," is an absolute treat of a read. The Kickstarter campaign has a bit over two weeks to go and not too much more funds are needed for it to be fully funded. I greatly encourage you to back it if financially able as once a digital or physical copy is in your tablet/hands you'll love it!

5 out of 5 stars.

Flashback Friday: "Stubbs the Zombie," Was a Great Game With a Fantastic Soundtrack

Back in the latter days of the original Xbox there was a video-game called, "Stubbs the Zombie." It was a fun game where you played a zombie in the futuristic 1950's who went around eating people and turning them into zombies as well. As this was 2005-tech you couldn't  have a ton of people on the screen running from zombies or as zombies, but it still was great fun. The soundtrack was a hoot too, with many modern rock and punk bands turning-in covers of classic 1950's jams. I'm not alone in feeling this way, as Kotau's Zack Zwiezen made a post about the fun tunes. I swear, with all the games getting remastered versions lately good ol' Stubbs is just screaming-out for one too.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

My In-Depth Review of the Spicy Chicken McNuggets

I should not eat as much fast food as I do. I am behaving better, but still have a soft spot for such food as McDonald's Chicken McNuggets and their french fries. I don't think it is exactly a brag so much as a pitiful plea for help to admit I am a McNugget connoisseur. That is why the announcement that McDonald's would be bringing us a spicy Chicken McNugget perked my ears up. I was excited to try it and see if it does one of three things:

1. Improves upon the plain McNugget and is even better--like how Mountain Dew Code Red is better than the regular version.

2. Is worse than the plain McNugget and makes it less good--like how Mountain Dew Livewire is worse than the regular version.

3. Is tasty and equally good as the plain McNugget, just different--like how Mountain Dew's Black Label Dark Berry is just as good as regular Mountain Dew.

Putting aside how Mountain Dew has way too many flavors and getting us back on track, I went to McDonald's the other day and ordered myself a combo meal of spicy Chicken McNuggets with sweet and sour sauce as my dipping option. I did not get the new dipping sauce that is apparently, "Mighty hot," as it is vinegar-based and sounds nasty from the descriptions I've read online. Once I was home I bit into my nuggets which were....pretty good.

Spicy Chicken McNuggets are not better than regular McNuggets, but they are a refreshing twist on the old classic. When you eat them the spice doesn't hit you right away, it creeps up a few seconds after you've begun chewing, introducing itself in a manner that makes you go, "Oh," without absolutely burning your mouth. I appreciate the heat is mellow as eating something like the new spicy chicken strips from, "Jack in the Box," burnt my mouth to a crisp when I tried them and upset my stomach to a degree that our toilet may never recover from. 

McDonald's spicy Chicken McNuggets didn't make my eyes well up with tears or have me cursing my selection an hour later as my stomach churned and burned, they just offered a pleasant hit of heat that was even better complimented by the sweet and sour sauce, in my opinion. The cooling sweet mixed that gentle heat was a real treat...I was not even trying to rhyme, but there you go; this review is clearly my, "Hamilton,"-level masterpiece.

McDonald's spicy Chicken McNuggets will probably let down people who like their spicy food really spicy if we're being honest. That said, as someone who likes a mild heat with their foods, I found the temperature of the spicy Chicken McNuggets to be perfect. I'd recommend trying them with the aforementioned sweet and sour sauce for a nice mix of flavor and will without a doubt be having them again while they're still available during a moment of weakness when I should eat a healthy meal but want McDonald's instead. Eating healthy is a process for sure. Anyways, I would rate these nuggets a delicious 5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Archie Comics Goes Day-and-Date With Unlimited Digital Streaming

I get an assortment of press releases in my email off-and-on. One caught my eye today, however. It seems Archie comics, the publisher of such comics as, "Sabrina," and, "Archie," are going to be going day-and-date with digital streaming. This means when an Archie comic is released to comic stores (be it the all-ages ones or the more direct market focused titles for older readers like the horror ones) it'll be available digitally on ComiXology Unlimited the exact same day to read with a monthly fee. This is notable as while Marvel, DC, and many other publishers are day-and-date where you can buy a diigtal copy of a new comic, they don't put their latest releases on ComiXology Unlimited. Marvel's digital offerings you can subscribe to are generally on a six-month delay and DC's subscription service (which is currently dropping shows for just being comics) is similar, digital-first comics aside.

Why does this get my attention so much? Well, there are more and more rumblings from some readers of comics they would like an option where they pay a flat fee and a variety of publishers make their books available digitally as soon as they are physically released too. It is like music streaming services (think of Spotify). You pay the monthly fee and get the latest jams online, but you could always go to the store and buy a physical copy of your favorite new LP. Now, such a market where everything a big publisher puts out is available digitally for a flat fee or can be bought at a store with zero delays to digital would probably decimate the comic market if someone such as Marvel, DC, or Image did it. Making all your comics day-and-date streaming sounds kinda crazy if you're them. For Archie comics, though, it may just work out well.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Microsoft Bought Game Developer Bethesda and It Has Everyone in a Tizzy


Bethesda is a game developer behind such smash-hit series as, "Elder Scrolls," and, "Fallout." They've made a name for themselves with these games and have been involved in plenty of others. Microsoft just bought Bethesda, which dramatically alters the landscape of the so-called, "Console wars." Does this mean some huge franchise will now be exclusive to the new Xbox Series X/S and PC? Might they come to a newer-generation Switch--as Microsoft has been playing nice with Nintendo sometimes--but be purposely kept off of the PlayStation 5 for the purpose of competition and admitedly some spite? 

Microsoft has said things will be on a, "Case by case basis," but can you imagine how enraged many gamers might be if, "Elder Scrolls 6: Some Random Subtitle," is only on PC and the latest Xbox consoles? Some say we shouldn't panic yet, as Microsoft probably sees it could lose more money than it would gain making things exclusive, others might be feeling a tad antsy. As it is, this is a huge acquisition and could be a random occurrence, or a sign of things to come as the big console-makers consider trying to gain more control over the 3rd party publishers that make some of the most popular games.

Monday, September 21, 2020

The New "WandaVision," Looks Like My Kind of Weird

 I've observed/complained that some of the Marvel movies lately have had a homogenous feel. They are big and bombastic special-effects events full of wild fights and occasional jokes but they lack the weirdness I really enjoyed in the earlier films. The last Marvel movie to really, "Wow," me was the surreal and off-kilter, "Doctor Strange," for example. This is why the latest trailer for, "Wandavision," grabbed my attention as it gives off really strong horror vibes and is (in a good way). It's right above this text if you haven't seen it yet.

It starts out like a weird sitcom but morphs into something much darker and bizarre as time goes on. Is Wanda altering reality in some fashion? Is she being controlled somehow? These are all questions I imagine the show will address in some fashion and I'm actually pumped for something from Marvel for the first time in a while (the eventual, "Moon Knight," show I pray is good aside, as I'm cautiously optimistic about that for now). There are all kinds of comics this show can draw from while doing its own unique thing as well, so assuming it actually comes out in 2020 as is being claimed, I'll be watching on Disney+.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

They May Have Sadly Finally Stopped Making Games for Wii


The Nintendo Wii launched in November of 2012. It had a very unsuccessful follow-up, the Wii U, which after that had the extremely successful Nintendo Switch enter the scene. A rollercoaster of success-failure-success, frankly. Meanwhile, however, everyone kept making games for the Wii. Just less and less. Then the only big-release game left for it was, "Just Dance 2020," which came out in November 2019. In 2020 there has been a special release of, "Retro City Rampage," and, "Shakedown: Hawaii," for the Wii, but they were region-locked to European consoles as North American production of Wii games had basically stopped. Hence, it was tragic but expected to hear that, "Just Dance 2021," is most likely not getting a Wii edition. 

"Just Dance 2021,"  will be the first-ever, "Just Dance," game not also available on the Wii and the fandom of the game which owns Wii consoles and likes being able to play the year's hottest tunes on it is upset. Like, upset enough there is a petition for the publisher, Ubisoft, to find some way to release the game for the Wii. I understand to a certain degree--old tech is old tech and it can be more expensive to make things for outdated technology than newer stuff with less of a monetary return--essentially planned obsolescence making itself known. Even if I understand it is kind of a bummer though, as we enjoy playing all the, "Just Dance," games on our Wii.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Goodbye, RBG/Republicans Have No Shame

Ruther Bader Ginsburg was an amazing justice. Plenty of obits on the web break that down. I am sad she has passed. The Republican party, however, licking its chops, and less than 24 hours after her death Trump was tweeting about filling the Supreme Court vacancy. This is disgusting, and the hypocrisy is hilarious as Republicans said Obama couldn't fill a vacant seat as it was an election year when he had 200-ish days until an election. 

Meanwhile, Trump's hopefully impending defeat is approaching this November and people like the horrendous Mitch McConnel want to jam someone into that Supreme Court seat before (I pray) losing their control of the Nation. Instead of being able to simply mourn this incredible woman, we have to fight against all kinds of nefarious forces. Republicans have no shame, they've lacked it ever since the big orange moron took power. Goodbye, RBG, you will be missed. We will try our hardest to honor you.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

"The Hero Trade," #1 Review


I wrote the other day about how, "The Hero Trade," has been getting a ton of buzz thanks to being a surprise release from Bad Idea, a new comic company with some unique ideas on the distribution and selling of comics. It was sent to stores that are on Bad Idea's partner list as if it was a random indie comic by some unknown creators, but then Bad Idea revealed the writer was Matt Kindt and the artist was David Lapham--not just someone with a strong Lapham influence on their art. This has led to a ton of interest in the comic with people wanting to acquire a copy. What about the actual, you know, comic though? Is it interesting and worth the fuss? Well, I was able to actually read the black and white ashcan comic and have got to's pretty good.

I mean, it isn't surprising that this sampler is a quality read. Matt Kindt is a great writer and David Lapham has been a stellar illustrator (and writer) for decades too. What is, "The Hero Trade," actually about, however? It's fascinatingly disturbing. A seemingly normal man named Bob who apparently often has hustles going on has something unique for sale in the trunk of his car. He's been piecing it out for big chunks of money while driving all around the city. That special cargo? The body of superhero Captain Fab. Yes, this is a comic about a man selling body parts of a seemingly invulnerable and all-powerful hero. Why is he doing it? He refuses to say. How is he doing it? I imagine further issues will reveal more. 

As it is now, this is a darkly hilarious comic that seems to be riffing on how we treat heroes as commodities and things we buy and sell by having a comic literally make that subject. In a world where heroes are now big business for companies and seem to represent capitalism more than truth and justice, it's fitting to have a book where the subject matter itself is a man chopping-up and selling a hero piece by piece in the same manner conglomerates squeeze every possible profit out of their hero movies/comics/shows/etc. The meta elements aside, the comic itself is engaging and with someone like Lapham on art is there any doubt it looks incredible? 

Should you be able to find a copy I'd recommend giving, "The Hero Trade," a read for sure, or seeing as this is kind of a promotional ashcan, I imagine a more full release will occur in the future that'll be easier to scrounge-up a copy of. It's definitely a series that'll be worth following.

5 out of 5 stars.

The New Gaming Consoles Are Going to Be Physically Massive

There was talk about how the upcoming Xbox Series X was really big, while its discount version, the Series S was pretty small. Well, now the PlayStation 5 has had its specs revealed. It is what the internet might call, "Chonky," or, "A big ol' Chonker." The new generation of consoles are gonna be massive, Nintendo and its eventual Switch successor that will probably be the same size as before aside. 

It makes a certain degree of sense this is happening. With all the tech being jammed in these consoles they will need to be bigger, and the ventilation to keep all that tech running hard cool will take up a lot of space. Still, these things are gonna need a good chunk of space on your entertainment console. Oh, and they will weigh around 10 pounds, so don't think they're somehow light, they are chonky in every sense of the word.

I'm not upset these new consoles are going to be so massive, it just is interesting that as some tech keeps getting smaller, the consoles are getting quite big. The last thing I would want is for one to overheat so if being a chonker keeps the air flowing safely then I'm all for a big console, if I ever get around to buying one of these newer generations after they've been out for some time. I'm not in any rush seeing as how I don't play my PS4 that much right now as it is.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A Surprise Release of, "The Hero Trade," #1 from Bad Idea

I continue to follow new comic publisher Bad Idea with great interest as they advertise their upcoming books and how they are being directly shipped to comic markets in the near future. But wait, they surprise-released a comic already? Yes, "The Hero Trade," by Matt Kindt and David Lapham was sent to stores that will be distributing Bad Idea comics with a random note about how it was an ashcan of an indie comic (the creators weren't named and there was zero indication it related to Bad Idea as well) and more could be ordered of the little ashcan that was sent by September 13th. Then, after that date, Bad Idea revealed this random mailed comic was actually a surprise drop from Bad Idea.

This surprise release has gotten the comic a lot of buzz. Some people are saying it was a very clever way to build some hype, others are saying not revealing the truth until it was too late for stores to order more copies created artificial demand and was a...well, they said it was a bad idea, something the company probably loves hearing as that is their name and they're doing some crazy stuff. I continue to watch them with great interest.

Television Tuesday: Love Island's 2nd Season is Deliciously Dramatic

Let's be honest. As much as I enjoyed the first season of Love Island, it was pretty mellow. I called it, "Deliciously chill." There wasn't a ton of drama and it lacked a good deal of raunchiness you'd expect a show with a title like, "Love Island," to sport. Yes, the American version of the show was always going to be tamer than the original UK version seeing as Americans are a lot testier about sexy subjects. Still, things were quite PG. Season 2 started out a little slowly, but once they introduced a, "Casa Amour," twist (more on that later) things quickly got deliciously dramatic as well as quite hot-and-heavy in regards to the show's focus on good ol' fashioned making-out.

For those unaware of what, "Love Island," is all about. Basically, a bunch of singles come to an island, are coupled up, and from there sparks fly (metaphorically) between zany challenges. Due to COVID-19 there isn't an island this season so much as a rooftop in Vegas (which the show outright says, "Don't get too hung up on the island part,") and a bunch of singles who had to sit in quarantine for some time and don't go on dates too far away so much as within other levels of the hotel they're at (like a nice dessert bar). COVID-19 has resulted in some limitations, clearly, but we've still got horny singles and hilarious announcer Matt Hoffman so let's just call a rooftop an island and enjoy ourselves!

Speaking of enjoyment, things were slow at first. Everyone was kinda feeling the scene out, taking it slow, and besides one guy who was really toxic and went home fast, things were bland. Then we had the Casa Amour twist. The girls stayed at the one, "Island," villa and the guys were sent to another villa atop the roof of a different hotel. Then a bunch of new ladies came and met the men at their temporary home and a chunk of dudes came and introduced themselves to the women still at the villa. That's when lots of crazy kissing and dry-humping occurred, with the guys and gals both feeling, "Some type of way," when they returned to the villa with new matches or wanted to resume their relationships but had to confess to a lot of smooching and grinding with other people. Yes, this show is a just a bunch of amorous 20-somethings getting all upset their boyfriend/girlfriend of a week is now with somebody else after a day or two, but its lovely trash, and this season has ramped-up everything fantastically.
More of a rooftop than an island, but just roll with it.
The American version of, "Love Island," isn't as saucy as some other versions, but it still is a good time. It isn't a literal island this season either, but I'm having fun, the, "Islanders," are having fun, and announcer Matt Hoffman is having a grand time making fun of all the crazy events too. It is on almost every night of the week too so its like a nice relaxingly-dumb way to end the day. In the garbage fire that is 2020 I'll take what I can get, even if it is a show called, "Love Island," that isn't on an actual island.

Monday, September 14, 2020

A Review of "Bloodshot," #8

Let's do a simple good old fashioned review of a comic, I haven't done one for a smidgen, after all! I like the comics that Valiant puts out, but I sometimes fall behind on them. I was reading, "Bloodshot," but it has been a bit since I checked it out. We're into issue #8 of the latest series starring him and when I got a press email showing off a beautiful Clayton Crain cover (as seen above) it caught my attention and made me want to dip into this issue and see how lost I would be or if I could follow along. The good news is I was able to keep up pretty well. The bad news is...well, there isn't any bad news! A recap at the opening of the comic explains how Bloodshot has broken free of the evil group that was controlling him back when I read the series more regularly, but now he's set a whole bunch of other dangerous weapons loose and has to track them down. This leads to the issue I read.

"Bloodshot," #8 has a good chunk of action and intrigue, with it clear some nefarious forces are pulling the strings of all the weaponized people Bloodshot is after whilst he saves some negotiating political groups from one of these old dangers. Tim Seely is the writer, and I'm a fan of his, so I should've known I'd have a good time reading this issue. It had some humor, great action illustrated by artist Marc Laming, and the mysteries that are bubbling up caught my attention too. I was entertained, so I'm pleased. This issue will be for sale this Wednesday, September 16th, so look for that awesome cover in a couple days and then enjoy the stellar issue inside!
5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Mini-Run Review: Wolverine #1-#5

The, "Original," Wolverine has had a number of series. He also was dead for awhile with an old man version of himself from another dimension running about as well as his clone, X-23 and son, Daken, getting up to adventures. The latest thing with the X-Men though is that they are basically immortal, able to be resurrected at any time and never truly die--something Wolverine relates to a bit now that he's back and witnessing all the other mutants dealing with this newfound way of kinda-sorta healing from any wound. That is one idea covered in the latest, "Wolverine," ongoing, but writer Benjamin Percy actually simultaneously juggles a lot of plotlines quite well and interestingly with artist Viktor Bogdanovic illustrating it all wonderfully too.

In the first five issues of, "Wolverine," we've had different storylines come to the forefront, retreat a bit, and then return. We've got Dracula taking an interest in Wolverine and using the infamous mutant Omega Red as a way to get to Wolverine, we had black market drug dealers stealing mutant meds that were meant to go to Nations that recognized the sovereignty of the Mutant nation of Krakoa whom Wolverine teamed-up with a regular human to take down. Those two storylines kind of weaved around one another in the first three issues, then it seemed in issue #4 we were getting a bit of a break with Wolverine retreating to a bar in the middle of nowhere near the Alaskan-Canada border where he had been going to clear his mind. Instead, things got really twisty.

This bar had a bartender who remembered Wolverine wronging him. He used the internet to recruit other people who hated mutants--Wolverine especially--and they all tried to drug him (which Bogdanovic illustrates well as things get woozy and weird) and bury him in ice as he heals from any wounds as they know...only for Omega Red to kill them all and Wolverine's frozen body making a great keg for some vampires who use his blood to walk in the daylight as they turn others and use them to try and build a vampire nation in areas mostly abandoned due to economic hardship. It has been interesting witnessing Benjamin Percy careful dip in and out of assorted storylines, having them all play a part off-and-on as Wolverine just tries to come to grip with this new normal of mutants thinking they are immortal but not realizing other immortals--like vampires--maybe have an issue with others thinking they can take over their scene. Plus, one could argue if mutants were able to force themselves into having a Nation, why not vampires too? 

As Wolverine points out in issue #5, getting a lot of money can make good people better and bad people worse, with the same going for immortality. He worries some of his mutants will become evil and twisted now. It is an interesting consideration I don't recall any other X-book touching upon too much yet. Between Percy's writing and Bogdanovic's artwork, I've been really digging this latest, "Wolverine," ongoing comic. I worry with so many mutant-focused books coming out right now some might end-up being lost in the shuffle--after all, people may be going, "Eh, I don't need another book with Wolverine when he's in a bunch of others," but the quirky fun and crazy plotlines of, "Wolverine," make it worth a read.
5 out of 5 stars (for all the issues overall).

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Chuck Austen Returns to Comics

Chuck Austen is a comic creator whose work is often hated on. I'd say some of his stuff was actually pretty good, like his first, "U.S. War Machine," Marvel Max series, but I'd also admit he made some straight-up garage. He quit comics more than a decade ago, working on various television shows and I'd assume doing other hobbies that didn't get him constantly mocked by comic fans. Well, he's decided to return!

Yes, Chuck Austen is going to have a creator-owned series on ComiXology titled, "Edgeworld," which he'll be doing with illustrator Patrick Olliffe. Olliffe is someone whom Austen met back in his Marvel days and they'd had this idea for a bit, it seems. Austen admits in the press release for the comic he'd outright left comics, but he and Olliffe decided, "Why don’t we create a comic for ourselves? Just for fun?’ One rocket-sled ride later, and here we are. We never created this to sell to a publisher. We created it to create and that was very freeing.” Austen is basically saying off the bat to save your criticism because he's heard it all and this is just something he did to have a swell time. I say good for him. 

An underrated series Austen worked on.
The comic itself is about a character named Killian Jess, a former intergalactic soldier turned magistrate who works to protect the planet Pala with one of its native beings, Cheela--so it's like a police procedural, kinda? As someone who has actually been fond of some of Austen's writing, I wish him the best with this new project and hope it both does well and is--you know--good.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Funko Friday: I Am Intrigued by These, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," Funko Pops

I am a big fan of the television show, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," from when it is hilariously funny in an inappropriate manner almost all the time to those extremely rare sweet moments. I also like to collect Funko Pops of certain things I like. These two things I am fond of are now colliding as we're going to be getting Funko Pops of the gang from that amazing episode with the production of, "The Nightman Cometh." I hope these sell well so we get other hilarious potential episodes in Pop form. All I know is this set is rad and I think I need to get one of each for sure.

19 Years Ago Today

19 years ago I was in an eighth grade English class in West Virginia when a teacher came into our room and told another, "Something is happening to the World Trade Center." It was thought a plane had hit one of the towers or a bomb had gone off. Then in the next class I went to--a math class--it became apparent something awful was going on as we heard the other tower had been hit by plane--this was no accident. Everyone was confused and not sure how to process everything.

Some years later I moved to New York and met people who actually had lost loved ones during the attacks of 9/11/2001. It was tragic and we should always commemorate the day. Some online have pointed out there is a bitter irony to how some of the same people wrapping themselves in the American flag today and talking about how tragic the deaths of 9/11 were are the same people saying the many, many more deaths from COVID-19 that could have been prevented with more Government action are, "Not a big deal." Both 9/11 and the impact of the pandemic on our country were caused by intelligence failures and those at the higher levels of power not taking necessary action. I don't say any of this to diminish how tragic 9/11 was, just to point out some people have a lot of cognitive dissonance and hypocrisy if 9/11 brings them to tears but COVID-19 doesn't.

19 years ago we dealt with a horrendous tragedy. Almost 20 years later we are now in the midst of another terrible and tragic event. I mourn for those lost in 2001 and those lost now due to acts of terrorism then and the pandemic today. I just hope that we can come together as a Nation in 2020 the way people claimed we would back in 2001. We seem more divided than ever now, and that is one of the saddest things overall out of all this--the lessons we didn't learn.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

"No Going Back," is a Snazzy Looking Comic Kickstarter

"No Going Back,"  is a 201-page graphic novel written by Mike Furth, illustrated by Anna Wieszczyk, and edited by Natalie Cooper. I heard about it from its publisher, Arledge Comics, who email me press releases from time to time. It is about a town that built a wall to try and keep out danger, famine, and other terrible things, but a young girl named Rebecca curious if things are as bad as they say wants to escape the prison of sorts and explore the outside World. There are clearly some metaphors at play here, and I would be interested to see where the story goes. As cool as the story sounds, the artwork by Anna Wiezczyk is what really caught my attention.

The art is frankly gorgeous with a mixture of surreal and dreamy with some stark reds and otherwise is stellar. Between a cool-sounding story and the amazing illustrations, "No Going Back," is a book to keep your eye on. It currently has a Kickstarter campaign going that you can find here should you want to back it.

"Skull and Bones," Sounds Like it's in Development Hell

Way back in, "Assasin's Creed III," there was a small gameplay element where you could pilot a ship and get into fights with other ones. It was loved by players and led to, "Assasin's Creed IV," having sailing about around be the main feature--making it often thought of as the, "Assasin's Creed," for people who normally hate, "Assasin's Creed." Other games in the series have used boats a bit, but there was interest in a game announced in 2017 called, "Skull and Bones," which sounded like a pirate-themed game from the company behind, "Assasin's Creed," Ubisoft, without all the baggage. Again, that was 2017. It was mentioned by Ubisoft in 2019 as being delayed to 2020 and supposedly still getting work done. Now there is an, "Open letter," of sorts from the game's creative director, Elisabeth Pellen. This letter to the fans says how the game has a new vision and will be re-revealed in 2021 as whatever the new, "Skull and Bones," will be. This worries me.

I am concerned that, "Skull and Bones," is going to try and become one of those games that is a, "Service game," as rumors are saying, in that you buy it and then keep buying more upgrades and features. There are games that are essentially, "Free," and do this like, "Fortnite." There are also games like the new, "Avengers," one which you buy it, but then it also comes with a mode that offers a premium currency. These aren't monthly fees like in MMORPGs like, "World of Warcraft," these are games that want to technically, "Never end," and keep getting money as they add an update here and there with a new character/outfit/ship/gun/whatever. I'm not sure I want that, but Ubisoft maybe wants to offer that sort of game in the hopes it'll get, "Skull and Bones," out of whatever development Hell has been delaying it. When I first heard about, "Skull and Bones," in 2017 I was excited. Then I forgot about it. Now, I just don't really have much enthusiasm or hope for it at all.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

When Your Mini-Series Has a Surprise Crossover

The, "Agents of Atlas," comics have been in various mini-series lately that are chronologically linked but have different titles somewhat confusingly. The most recent mini-series with them has been, "Atlantis Attacks," which due to COVID-19 was of course delayed with many other books (the comic industry shut down for a bit). The book will soon be back on track, however, and the fifth issue surprisingly ties-in with another upcoming mini-series/event, "King in Black." That is an upcoming big ol' event with the evil God of Symbiotes, Knull. This is interesting and reminds me of when a, "Captain Marvel," mini-series was a part of two events, in a strange way.

During Marvel's, "Civil War," comic there was the surprise reveal that the original Captain Marvel had time-traveled or something and was alive, but still ill with the cancer that took his life back in his comic in the 1980s. Then, he got a mini-series about being back amongst the living, but thinking something was off. The mini-series did not solicit it at first, but there was a surprise reveal he was actually a Skrull sleeper agent for, "Secret Invasion," the mini-series that came a bit after, "Civil War." He did not realize he was in fact a Skrull and it was a shock to readers seeing this too. It was pretty clever, and led to him fighting against the Skrulls even though he was one and telling Marvel Boy to try and be Captain Marvel in the pages of (I think), "Mighty Avengers," when he ended-up drying in combat and indeed reverting to Skrull form.

It is always interesting to me when a comic ends up linking into another that it at first seems completely unrelated to. When it is an editorial mandate it can seem hamfisted and unnecessary, but at other times it works quite well, as with, "Captain Marvel," and hopefully coming up in, "Atlantis Attacks."

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Trey Songz and Summer Walker's Song, "Back Home," is Pure Weaponized Nostalgia--in a Good Way

I've written about weaponized nostalgia as well as songs taking other songs and making something new-ish from them multiple times here on my blog. I wrote about Trey Songz doing it with, "About You," and Summer Walker doing it with, "Come Thru." Now, there is a new song with both of them that not only samples another popular song ("Oh Boy") which has itself been in a newer ditty ("What You Did"), it says bits of lyrics from an even older song. It is like a hit of pure nostalgia.

"Back Home," features a sample of the lady saying, "Oh boy," in the classic Cam'Ron song at a really sped-up level and has Trey Songz in the chorus saying, "If it isn't love, why I keep coming back? I keep coming back, back home," a direct re-jiggering of the lyrics in the classic New Edition song, "If it Isn't Love," which goes, "If it isn't love, why do I feel this way, why does she stay on my mind?" It's subtle, but the way Trey says his lines they have the exact same tone and speed as the words when you hear them in the New Edition song.
Trey Songz and Summer Walker.
So, we've got the song, "Back Home," sampling a rap song from the 2000s and lyrics reminiscent of the 1980's while featuring an artist who rose to prominence in the 2010s (Trey Songz) and one who just emerged as we entered into the 2020s (Summer Walker, and yes, she had a commercial mixtape in 2018 and her debut album dropped in late 2019, but I'm counting it this way). We have the perfect mixture of newer artists and a fresh song that also appeals to younger Baby Boomers and older Generation X by alluding to lyrics those who enjoyed the '80s will adore and sampling a hook those of us who came of age in the 2000s (like yours truly) will adore. This song has basically covered all its bases, hence my assertion that, "Back Home," is a powerful hit of weaponized nostalgia--and of course a pretty solid song all on its own too.

As for what my point is in all this, I'm not sure I have one beyond that there is something powerful in taking our love of old media and tweaking it to work in a new setting. Whether it is movies preying upon our love of the past (like, "Jurassic World," taking us back to the park,) or video-games with their remasters of classic titles, or songs as in this case, folk love when their new stuff evokes their love of old stuff, for better or worse.

Monday, September 7, 2020

Enjoy Labor Day, and Thank Unions

Sometimes people are weirdly anti-union. It doesn't make sense, as unions help workers to be able to mobilize and defend themselves against employers. The labor movement brought us the weekend, workplace safety standards, and so many other amazing things. Labor Day celebrates that. Seriously, the U.S. Department of Labor's website says, "Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country." That means unions, whether some people want to ignore how important they are.

Some people wrongfully try to demonize unions (just look at Fox News today, or better yet, don't bother), but this is foolish. Labor Day and Unions are more closely linked than peanut butter and jelly. Unions have done much for us, make sure you thank them on Labor Day.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Going (Band)Camping: Edition 4

Bandcamp keeps giving me neat music (both newer and sometimes less-recent) to listen to and write about, so we've arrived at my fourth edition of this segment. I guess by the 4th time you do something its less of a lark and more of a habit, so I guess I habitually enjoy finding jams to listen to in the garden of plenty that is Bandcamp. Let's review some music that has no exact thematic link beyond being on the site that treats music artists right!

R.E. Seraphin--Tiny Shapes
I like alternative rock and what folk are calling, "Post-punk," nowadays, so I enjoyed, "Tiny Shapes," by R.E. Seraphin. Tracks such as, "Today Will Be Kind," and, "Fortuna," really capture a listener's attention and there isn't really a stinker on the whole LP. I basically at least liked everything I heard and a few tracks quite pop. It is definitely worth trying, "Tiny Shapes," should its style sound appealing to you. Get a digital copy or cassette here.
4 out of 5 stars.

Marko Bruiser--From Another Time
A nice dose of punk with a hefty lo-fi feel, "From Another Time," is at first solid-but-relatively-unremarkable. Then the last track on this EP, "Crazy," comes on and it is killer. Equal amounts melancholy, harsh, vulnerable, and just plain catchy, this song (with no relation to the same-named one by Gnarls Barkley, in case you wondered) is a fantastic closer and takes this EP from simply being good to me finding it quite phenomenal. I'd say you should listen to, "Crazy," for sure, but the whole EP is worth your time and makes for a great lead-up to the stellar closing track. Check it out here.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Beans--Team BreakUP
I've been listening to the music of Beans on-and-off now for nearly two decades, with his 2003 album, "Tomorrow Right Now," being my first exposure to him separate from the group he started-out with, The Anti-Pop Consortium. Since then I've listened to Beans at various points in time. I don't follow him closely, but anytime I wonder what he's been up to there is usually some new stuff. Hence, when I saw a tape of, "Team BreakUP," for preorder, I jumped on the opportunity. I've gotta be honest though, I was kind of disappointed.

"Team BreakUP," is more Beans doing strange sonic experiments than it is him doing any kind of rapping. That's a shame as when he does share some thoughts, he really does an amazing job, like on, "$4," which touches upon themes of racism, police brutality, and commercialism. Sadly, that's a diamond in the rough on an LP that mostly is strange bursts of horns, record scratches, sound effects, echoing voice effects, and the like. It's a listenable bummer, but a bummer nonetheless.
2.5 out of 5 stars.

An assortment of weird audio experiments and songs recorded from 2006-2019, "SECRET BODIES OF WORK," announces itself loudly and abrasively with its all-caps title. The album itself reflects this feeling as it is a scary, sick, twisted, screeching beast...that at times can actually be pretty listenable too. While I found myself thrown a lot of the time by the pieces that were more experiments in noise when things actually turned into an interesting song ("Robotic Lithgow," for example) I was pleased. Not an album for most people, and a lot of the time not even the kind of album for me, but admittedly attention-grabbing. People who are into this style of techno-heavy rockin' rage will love it, even if I'm a bit more cavalier.
3 out of 5 stars.

Brat Pitt--First One

Notice it is, "Brat," Pitt, not the actor who is known as Brad--just in case you thought he was making intriguing-sounding indie rock now. I was impressed by how the genres covered could shift with each track. My two favorites are back-to-back and take the album from sounding a bit like alt-country ("Stockholm,") to synth-heavy psychedelic pop ("Wallow") all while continuously entertaining. The only track of the five that didn't really grab me was, "(Still) Can't Fly," but the rest were all very enjoyable. A solid little LP for sure. Give it a listen and buy your copy here.
4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, September 4, 2020

Film Friday: I'll Say it Again, "Quantum of Solace," is Great

I saw an article on that served to remind me and make me want to remind others, "Quantum of Solace," is a great movie. The least-respected of the Daniel Craig movies where he plays James Bond, it often is forgotten or considered mediocre. This saddens me as its opening scene is amazing, and Polyon's article about how its villain is pretty darn great further shows why this is a solid flick. A bad guy who doesn't have a crazy weapon or weird physical ailment, he just is a rich and wants to control a country's politics via his billionaire economic influence. It is ahead of its time with so many villainous billionaires our World has now who seem to want to control everything.

 I know everybody loves, "Casino Royale," and, "Skyfall," with mixed opinions about, "Spectre," but I get exhausted seeing how little love, "Quantum of Solace," receives. If you haven't seen it, check it out, and if you did see it years ago and dismissed it, I request you give it another chance. With the heavily-delayed, "No Time to Die," finally coming-out soon (and hopefully it'll be available to safely watch on-demand and not just in theatres) now is a good time to revisit all the solid Craig-as-Bond movies, frankly.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Checking Out Some Zombie Comics--"Dceased: Dead Planet," #3 and, "Marvel Zombies: Resurrection," #1

You like zombies? You like comics? Well, buckle-up and get ready for some fun via zombie-themed comics that both have really long titles. I'm talking about the latest DC mini-series in the, "DCeased," line, "DCeased: Dead Planet," and the first-but-kinda-second issue of, "Marvel Zombies: Ressurection." I liked both for similar reasons--they are clever, a little gruesome, but also quite funny.

"DCeased: Dead Planet," takes place a number of years after the first mini-series, with a grown-up Damian Wayne as Batman and Conner Kent as Superman returning to their original Earth after fleeing to one from another dimension in the hopes of actually curing a zombie plague. Things have gone quite awry, however, and the people left alive on this Earth are both the best and worst of humanity. Trevor Hairsine illustrates the nasty zombies quite well and Tom Taylor injects levity where needed--such as when Damian Wayne and Jim Gordon hug and observe if any villains had realized Bruce Wayne's biggest fear was emotional vulnerability they could've run him out of Gotham with a reassuring pat on the back. There is also a bunker full of DC's richest jerks who've managed to use their money and some questionable tech to stay alive, and it is hinted they will be quite an issue a bit later. It's good stuff.
"Marvel Zombies: Ressurection," is a new take on the, "Marvel Zombies," that were quite popular some years ago, and although this is the first issue, it actually is a follow-up to a one-shot that laid the groundwork for this series some months ago pre-pandemic with the same creative team on that comic as this one--writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson and fantastic illustrator Leonard Kirk. I'm not as familiar with Johnson's writing as I am Kirk's artwork, but he gives us a solid yarn, discussing how the zombie virus seems to alter mutants and those with powers in ways a bit stranger than normal folk, and he keeps things light too such as with a sentinel that was reprogrammed to act and talk like British nanny for the Fantastic Four's kids--Franklin and Valeria. As with, "DCeased: Dead Planet," certain threats are foreshadowed and questions are raised (Franklin has mysteriously lost his powers and Spider-Man seems to know why but ain't telling) and thanks to Kirk the whole thing looks gorgeously disgusting.

"DCeased: Dead Planet," and, "Marvel Zombies: Ressurection," both provide quality zombie-related yarns thanks to great writing and artwork that fits the at-times gruesome scenes well too. I enjoyed reading both and would recommend checking each series and the issues that came before these out.
4 out of 5 stars (for both).

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

John Boyega is Refreshingly Honest About Being in a Franchise

When actors are in a big franchise they generally bite their tongue and don't comment if things are bad. "Star Wars," was pretty bad to Boyega, with multiple movies being unsure what to do with his character and toxic, "Fans," of the franchise harassing him for simply being Black. Since his time with, "Star Wars," has ended, Boyega has been open about how he felt it was terrible and he didn't enjoy it. Yes, he waited to be done to be completely open, but even now that would possibly put him at risk at getting the ire of Disney (who owns Star Wars and Marvel, and tons of stuff). Boyega wants to share his truth, however, and I respect that. Although it is odd he defends J.J. Abrams as his direction of two of the flicks Boyega was in could be described as quite aimless at best for characters of color.