Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Joe Quesada Steps Down From Marvel

Joe Quesada is leaving Marvel, and this is notable. Quesada has held a variety of roles at the company and arguably was among those who helped save Marvel from bankruptcy in the early 2000s. It was during his reign as Editor-in-Cheif from 2000 to 2010 that he brought in folks who would become massively popular at the publisher (Brian Michael Bendis, to name one) and he oversaw a bunch of popular (and controversial) storylines. Quesada also created the Marvel Knights line before becoming EIC, helped form the MAX imprint, and after becoming Chief Creative Officer in 2010 assisted with the early years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

In 2019 Kevin Feige assumed the CCO position and Quesada became Executive Vice-President and Creative Director for Marvel Entertainment as a whole. Quesada would occasionally still write or draw a comic, and by all accounts is a cool guy. Quesada has announced he is leaving Marvel to pursue working on films and is apparently still possibly going to have some comics coming out from the company as well. He seems to be leaving on good terms and just is ready to do something else after over 20 years as an exec at the company. I look forward to seeing what Quesada gets up to next!

Monday, May 30, 2022

An Escape Room Game That's Actually Like a Real Escape Room Sounds Wild

There are real-life escape rooms people go to. I have been to some and despite being bad at puzzles I have, "Won," some thanks to having a skilled group with me. There are also video-games that dabble in, "Escape this place," kind of gameplay but they are nothing like regular escape rooms. John Walker of Kotaku has played, "Escape Simulator," however, and finds it is a startlingly accurate virtual representation of what it is like to do real escape rooms. 

The rooms come with a timer but that is just to get a trophy, you can take as long as you want to figure a way out of a room. I appreciate that as someone who always finds the timer with real-life escape rooms stressful as it ticks down and everybody runs around the room in a panic. You can visit the website for, "Escape Simulator," here and decide if it looks like something you'd want to try!

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Film Friday (Ignoring How it is Sunday): The Bob's Burgers Movie

I am a big fan of the television show, "Bob's Burgers." Seeing that it has a movie had me excited and today I was able to see it with my wife, Samii. I wasn't sure what to expect. Would this be like a feature-length episode, but even funnier? Would the flick suffer from being longer compared to the tight runtime of the show or would it benefit? Well, having seen, "The Bob's Burgers Movie," I can say that it is as great a time as watching an episode, just a little longer/a bit more epic.

Without spoiling too much of the movie beyond what trailers have shown, a huge sinkhole forms in front of the restaurant right as a chunk of money the bank is owed finds itself overdue. Things just get zanier from there. Hilarious quips are said, adventures are had, and it is basically a solid, "Bob's Burger," yarn that longtime fans or casual viewers will both find pleasurable. The animation style is a little different, looking a bit more expensive for the flick and there are a few fun and in-depth musical numbers with very well-animated choreography (although this movie is by no means a musical). "The Bob's Burgers," movie is simply some good solid fun.

4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

"Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers," is an Astonishing Album

Kendrick Lamar took a chunk of time to bring us his album, "Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers," something he acknowledges on the double LP itself. "DAMN." was a tight and concise LP that seemed to barely let us breathe with how intense it was. "MMATBS," as I'll call it for short, is a bit more spread out and has us absorb its multiple messages throughout the variety of tracks. There is a strong feeling of learning and healing to this album. Lamar touches on generational trauma, being molested as a child by a cousin, having a distant father, and seeing how homophobia & transphobia hurt relatives who transitioned (that song has split opinions among LGBTQ+ critics). The album has a therapeutic and cathartic feeling and in some ways feels designed to help us heal with Lamar. 

On, "MMATBS," Kendrick Lamar talks about being a parent, the racial politics of America, and the complexities of life in general during a pandemic. Every song is great except for one that temporarily brings things to a screeching halt. "We Cry Together," features Lamar and actress Taylour Paige as a couple having a loud and angry argument. It is supposed to be shocking and a sort of story about a messed-up relationship, but instead it makes me more uncomfortable than anything else. The song feels like I'm in a restaurant or some other public place listening to a couple have a very loud and toxic yelling-matching that just is agonizing to listen to. It has some good lines (at one point Kendrick points out how society acts outraged about men like R. Kelly yet still listens to his music), but the song just has a really nasty and unpleasant vibe. Everything else is gold, however.

Kendrick Lamar warns us he isn't a savior, he's just a human being. He's arguably here to save Hip-Hop, however, as this is the best damn rap album I've heard in years. The genre seems to be infested with bland mediocrity (some fantastic exceptions aside) and then Kendrick just blows everything up over 18 tracks (17 if you don't count the one I dislike) and makes it clear that he's one of the greatest rappers of all time, up there on the metaphorical rap Mount Rushmore with Tupac, Andre 3000, Missy Elliot, Eminem, and the other superb talents. "Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers," is an album we waited about exactly half a decade for after, "DAMN." and--pun intended--but I'll be damned if the wait wasn't worth it.

5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, May 27, 2022

I'm 34 Today!

I love messed-up cake memes.

Today is my 34th birthday! Last year, I remarked how things were slowly getting better with my 33rd birthday being a lot better than the 32nd as that year sucked horribly. I think between the passage of time, extensive therapy, and growing as a person I'm in an even better place as I turn 34 than at other times in life. I have my wonderful wife, Samii, and our awesome son, Clarkson. Plus, I continue to relish doing this blog that all you wonderful readers enjoy. I appreciate all of you and thank you for growing with me too.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Ray Liotta Has Passed

Ray Liotta was in a bunch of good stuff. He's famous for, "Goodfellas," and was in other popular stuff recently such as, "The Many Saints of Newark," but I was always a fan of his work in, "Narc," and voicing Tommy Vercetti in, "Grant Theft Auto: Vice City," as well as being awesome in, "Smokin' Aces." He did funny films too, working with Adam Sandler on various projects and he was hilarious appearing as himself in an episode of, "Modern Family," where he tried in vain to get the kids to recognize him from a movie as he named various ones like, "Field of Dreams," to their confused shrugs. He sadly has passed at the age of 67. By all accounts, he was a great person and he leaves behind plenty of flicks to illustrate how fantastic an actor he was.

"Mr. Boop," is a Satirical Treat

Alec Robbins is married to Betty Boop. It is a 100% real marriage and she is real so when he makes comics about how in love they are and all the sex they have it totally is not violating IP laws. Hence, "Mr. Boop," starts out as a weird spoof of wishful, "I'm going to draw myself having sex with a cartoon character I like," stuff you see on Twitter before morphing into a hilarious mockery of a wide range of intellectual properties and the whole idea of copyright. Things just get stranger as Alec's friends (Bugs Bunny and Peter Griffin) start having threeways with him and his wife, as well as other famous characters. Oh, and Bugs gets a job with Amazon where they don't let him pee, and Sonic the Hedgehog goes to jail for almost killing Alec in a jealous rage (he wishes he were with Betty too) where he barely makes money but gets to pee.

Throughout, "Mr. Boop," reality keeps shifting in stranger and stranger ways, reality itself being drawn into question (pun intended there with how I said ,"Drawn," just so you know). Robbins art style is a treat, cartoony when necessary and startlingly detailed and realistic when called for as well. A number of guest artists stop by within the book too and the original webcomic that incorporated video segments at times cleverly is tweaked to work perfectly purely as a book and not a multimedia experience. Robbins eagerly thumbs his nose at various copyright laws whilst also carefully and repeatedly emphasizing what he is doing counts as parody/satire so please don't sue him.

To further delve into how fascinating this whole comic is there's a foreword by F. Stewart-Taylor that was originally published in, "SOLRAD," which discusses what fun little tightrope Robbins is walking. Silver Sprocket has some serious nerves publishing the book, and I applaud them for it. The whole book is a trippy and fun read--I loved it as much as Robbins and Betty seem to love each other. It is now hitting all finer comic shops and I'd recommend picking up a copy for sure!

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

One Thought on Our Nation and Mass Shootings

It's been yet another week where multiple times in the last seven days the news was filled with images from a mass shooting. Whether it is a racist attacking shoppers at a Buffalo grocery store or someone barely 18 with deadly weapons at an elementary school, this keeps happening. I've said multiple times my opinions on what needs to be done so I will simply offer one thought today that summarizes my overall response to the alarming normalcy (oxymoron intended) of mass shootings these past years in America:

Until our nation addresses its obsession with this absurd conception that any potentially dangerous yahoo can own a gun because it is their, "Right," none of this will ever stop. Thoughts and prayers won't help. Attempts at laws that stall in Congress or get overturned by courts will do nothing. We need to drill down to our country's weird dedication to this, "Right," to freely wield a lethal weapon with no restriction. The constitution is a living document that needs to be interpreted and tweaked. Clearly, it is time to do that in regards to our 2nd amendment, as I've said before in blunter words. Until that step is taken, we're going to just be in a vicious cycle forever.

That is my thought.

Monday, May 23, 2022

"Thor: Love and Thunder," Has a Full Trailer!

Back in April, we saw the teaser trailer for the upcoming, "Thor: Love and Thunder." Now, the full trailer has been released and explains a little bit more. We've got Natalie Portman with Thor-powers like in the comics, get a good look at Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher, see Russel Crowe's Zeus, and get a bit more of the delightful Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie. The Guardians of the Galaxy are there too, so it looks like a stuffed cast, but director Taika Waititi makes good stuff so I'm not concerned, it looks quite fun! Check out the trailer below:

"Thor: Love and Thunder," will hit theaters on July 8th, so not too far from now. I imagine it'll be a good time.

Goodness, the, "Barbie Girl," Song is Actually Quite Dirty

I've seen folks discussing the news how the song, "Barbie Girl," by Aqua will apparently not be in the upcoming, "Barbie," movie. That movie inexplicably has an amazing cast and is rumored to have a stellar script, but lots of people are perseverating about the song. Now, Mattel did at first sue Aqua for the song where it was pointed out that it was a parody and protected speech. They later actually paid to use a tweaked version in ads. The whole song itself is actually, um, pretty raunchy though. Just read this description of the song and you notice it is more sexual than one would notice at first blush. Now, if the movie is PG-13 then they could easily get away with this, or even just edit the song. As it is now, however, it seems, "Barbie Girl," may not be in the movie...unless this is one big clever case of misdirection. Time will tell.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Crypto is Crashing, I'm Not Shocked

Back in December of 2017, I advised people to stay away from Bitcoin. In January of 2021, I still said Cryptocurrency was not a risk I'd take. In April of last year, I said how NFTs just befuddled me. Simply put, I've never trusted the idea of Crypto because the only thing giving it value was people believing it somehow had value. As James Surowiecki of The Atlantic discusses, that means it could all evaporate without warning, which it currently is doing. Stocks are suffering and we may be entering a recession, but what is happening in the stock market is nothing compared to the immense loss of, "Value," that Crytpo has had. Every single version of Crytpo seems to be melting down

Yes, even if you bought things cheap years ago you still have made a, "Profit," but tons of folks seem to have invested a lot of money that's now simply evaporated. I am not surprised Crytpo is crashing, but I do feel bad for those who were convinced by others it was a smart investment when it clearly was not. Will Cryptocurrencies recover at some point and this is just the market stabilizing, correcting, or whatever? Maybe, but at this rate I could see the whole thing going down in flames. NFTs really need to end too, that is something I would douse in gasoline to help the fire go even faster.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

The New, "Savage Avengers," #1 Gives Us a Wild Team Within a Great Debut Issue

I really enjoyed the first volume/run of, "Savage Avengers." It featured a mish-mash of a team that included Conan the Barbarian (whom Marvel had gotten the rights to use before he enters the public domain in a handful of years) and was quite zany and funny. Now, the series is relaunching with an even more fascinatingly random team that features Conan at its core again. Written by David Pepsoe, this is his first Marvel work and I've enjoyed his other stuff before. The art is by Carlos Magno and he does a stellar job too.

Marvel will be losing some of the rights to Conan in the near future but can utilize him in, "Savage Avengers," as long as they don't use his name on the cover or such, apparently. In a meta-style twist, there is a Deathlok trying to erase Conan from continuity itself too--and a really random assortment of heroes come together (even more interestingly odd than the last series) to assist Conan. Cloak and Dagger, the Elektra version of Daredevil, Dane Whitman's Black Knight, the Flash Thompson Anti-Venom, and Weapon H of all characters form this sudden team. To Pepose's credit, he makes such a weird jumble work quite well with it being fun to see such a strange mixture of characters interacting. Magno illustrates the fighting spectacularly, making the action scenes pop with delight. It's fun stuff.

The first issue of, "Savage Avengers," does a wonderful job putting the whole team together quickly, introducing a threat for them to combat (the Deathlok who is after Conan), and manages to be very fun and look great too. It is a great debut issue and I'd rate it...

5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Film Friday: I Hate Flying so I'm Not Going to See, "Top Gun: Maverick," in Theaters, at Least

I was in the theater to see, "Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness," a bit ago and saw a trailer for that new, "Top Gun: Maverick," movie. It looked like the flight special effects will be incredible, with viewers really feeling like they are sitting there in the cockpit with Tom Cruise and the younger generation of pilots he is training. For that reason, I quietly muttered, "Oh Hell no," as I watched the preview upon a big screen. You see, I hate flying on a simple commercial flight. Therefore, feeling like I'm moving nearly at the speed of sound in a plane doing barrel rolls and all kinds of tricks does not appeal to me at all.

I find Tom Cruise to be a great actor when he is given the right role and terrible when in a role that is a bad fit. "Top Gun," is a beloved classic for many folks, however, and early buzz about this sequel seems really positive. Still, I am not going to see it on the big screen simply because just the trailer made my stomach churn into knots. Flying simply makes me motion sick and anxious as I don't enjoy being in a big metal tube moving at crazy speeds through the sky--I have zero desire to simulate that in the theater even if the movie is great. Maybe I'll watch it on the television when I can take ample breaks after it is done with its theatrical run.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

This Cthulhu-Themed Christmas Book is Adorable and Funny

"The Night Before Christma: A C is for Cthulhu Holiday Tale," is the latest Cthulhu-themed picture book from the, "C is for Cthulhu," creative team. With writer Jason Ciaramella and illustrator Joshua Janes this board book is designed to appeal to all ages and is a fun example of how we sometimes take horror and make it cute and funny. We as a society seem to take the creepiest and most nightmarish ideas and make them a little less intense and even more interesting by giving them a cute and funny vibe. It makes horror a little easier to ingest, in the same manner that Freddy Kruger is a bit less scream-inducing when he cracks a joke, to give an example. 

Something can have frightening origins but if you create a cute or funny version kids can love it just as much as the hair-rasing incarnation but not have nightmares from it! The C is for Cthulhu team clearly is aware of this as they've raised over $500,000 on Kickstarter with other books featuring their cuddly take on Cthulhu. I had a chance to read this latest publication with a digital advance copy and it is great fun. There is a Kickstarter campaign going for it right now that ends this Saturday. It has already raised a bunch more than the goal so go ahead and back it here if you want a fun holiday book about Cthulhu!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

We've Got a, "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law," Trailer

Yesterday the full trailer for, "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law," dropped. I watched it and found myself intrigued by the plot (people who work in the legalities of superheroes), excited for Tatiana Maslany as Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk, and a bit concerned by how the CGI just looked...off. Give it a look below:

I know the actual show's release is a bit of a way off, so perhaps they can tweak the CGI so it looks like it belongs in the scenes where Walters is She-Hulk and it appears less out of place. Besides that, I'm eager to see this mix of workplace comedy, superhero shenanigans, and a bit of romance too (it appears). I may have concerns about some of the special effects, but otherwise, I am eager for this and hope it is good! It'll be on Disney+ around August, I believe.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

I Don't Collect the Funko Sodas Much, but This One is Clever

I collect a lot less Funko Pops these days (focusing on specific lines I like) and don't really collect the Funko Sodas much even though they are snazzy. They are these little figures in faux-soda cans that you pop open and see if you got a regular figure or the rarer, "Chase." However, a new one is going to be bigger so instead of a can it will be in a, "3 Liter," bottle as can be seen above. That is cute and hilarious. It is, of course, the Wampa from, "The Empire Strikes Back," that finds itself on the wrong end of a lightsaber. Considering that is arguably the best, "Star Wars," film I would say a figure from it deserves a unique little soda bottle.

Monday, May 16, 2022

That Teaser For the New Predator Movie, "Prey," is Snazzy

I'm not going to get my hopes up too much over a 45-second teaser trailer, but the new Predator-themed movie titled, "Prey," does have a spiffy one. I am a big fan of the, "Alien," movies as well as the, "Predator," ones so it pains me sometimes to admit both have had more medicore-to-bad flicks than good--including the ones where they fight (although the first AVP is kind of dumb fun). Here is the teaser:

The last movie to feature a Predator was simply titled, 'The Predator," and reading the behind-the-scenes drama about how it got made was more interesting than the movie itself. Then there were rumors a movie about a Comanche warrior facing off against a monster was secretly a Predator movie from a director known for liking to keep his flicks kind of secretive, Dan Trachtenberg of the mostly-good-till-the-end, "10 Cloverfield Lane.

I am all for a Predator-themed movie set in the past that tosses out a bunch of the extra continuity we got in, "Predators," or, "The Predator," and just focuses on what the first two movies did well--a creepy alien hunting people in an extremely unfair manner thanks to all its weaponry. I can't say for sure if, "Prey," will do that, but if it does then it already has a big leg-up over a chunk of the other Predator films. We shall see when it premieres (on Hulu of all places) this coming August 5th.

I Tried Nitro Pepsi Draft Cola and it Was Definitely...Different

I generally don't like Pepsi. It just is not a beverage I'm a fan of drinking. That said, I love a good gimmick soda and when I heard Pesi was doing, "Nitro Draft Cola," in a manner riffing on those Nitro coffees folks love, I was down to give it a taste. I sampled the Vanilla one and my overwhelming response is a shrug followed by an, "Eh?" It wasn't bad, it just seemed like Pepsi that was really foamy (with some vanilla in this version) and otherwise, it was uninspiring. If you love Pepsi this might be a drink you adore, but those who are Pepsi haters such as myself are not going to be converted. Now, if they made a Nitro Coca-Cola I'd be quite interested, but as of now, that's just going to be a daydream.

2 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Fan Expo Saint Louis 2022 Thoughts

Have you ever been really excited about going to something but then once it happens, you feel kind of let down and realize it isn't your scene? I attended the Fan Expo Saint Louis (formerly known as Wizard World) and imagine people who went for things different than what I was after enjoyed it. If you want to wait in a line to see a celebrity and pay for them to sign a picture of themselves, then this show had you covered. I just said hello to Charles Martinet (the voice of Mario whom I've met before) because he's a cool guy, Jason Mewes because he also is a cool guy (we've chatted at other shows), and met Carl Weathers as the line wasn't too long for him and he was nice too. 

There were plenty of vendors, but almost none with actual comics. There were maybe three vendors with some comic books--it was slim pickings. There were a couple booths selling Funk Pops, so that was fun, but otherwise, it was lots of random booths with those obnoxious, "Mystery boxes," of junk, cosplay props, random knick-knacks, and maybe one booth with like cool old toys and such. Maybe I'm just jaded from all the great local shows full to the brim with awesome stuff for sale, but this was not a show to go to if you were after comics, toys (besides Funko Pops), or collectibles, and that's what I really like at cons. It was a bummer.

The saving grace for me (in terms of something fun) would be the artist alley. There were lots of awesome creators from bigger names to smaller ones. I got to see Jae Lee, Peter Tomasi, Tony Harris, Michael Golden, Ariel Diaz, Howard Mackie, Talen Caldwell, and more. That was neat to see a chunk of folks behind an assortment of cool comics and chat with them. They had lots of neat comics of their own for sale and original artwork and prints as well.

If you're someone who is big on the whole concept of, "Wow, famous people!" and the cult of celebrity as opposed to just thinking of them as regular humans who are known for acting in stuff, then as I said you probably would love this Fan Expo. That isn't a draw for me, however, and the lack of merchants selling actual stuff that I was after resulted in me just kind of milling about the one thing that did interest me--artist alley. Besides being able to admire some great artwork and compliment creators on the comics they've made that I have enjoyed I was just mostly bored. There was so much at Fan Expo in terms of booths, yet so little of it interested me. 

Assuming Fan Expo returns next year I'll probably sit it out and instead focus on other shows I'm more into like ToyMan, QuadCon, and so forth. At least the Saint Louis Comic-Con (which is oddly enough held in Saint Charles) is coming up in June and that's always a fun time. I guess I'm just not the demographic for what Wizard World morphed into. As I said, I'm sure other people loved this Fan Expo Saint Louis, but my highlight of the day was when I stepped out from the show and tried the, "Hi-Pointe," restaurant located nearby. That place was legit and after enjoying their food I can see why they've opened multiple locations in the area. Anyways, the show goes through Sunday if you're around the STL region and want to check it out. I'll be up to other things.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Flashback/Film Friday: Considering the Varying Tones of the, "Friday the 13th," Franchise

Today is, in fact, May 13th and it is a Friday. It is Friday the 13th.  The origins of why the day is considered unlucky have variations, but nowadays folks just find themselves wary upon any Friday the 13ths. I have never found I have especially bad luck on such a day and instead associate it with one of my favorite horror franchises. Yes, "Friday the 13th," is quite the storied line, with essentially 12 movies that feature the branding or star the slasher, Jason Vorhees. Interestingly enough, the movies don't just vary immensely in quality (as to be expected), they have intriguingly different tones flick-by-flick.

The first, "Friday the 13th," barely has Jason, he's more of a victim than anything. His mother is the killer and folks forget that. The flick is creepy and eerie with brief moments of gore but nothing like some of the later films. "Part II," introduces Jason as the killer and is also a creepy and dark yarn. "Part III," was originally in 3D and relies on some lame kills that maybe looked better with that effect but frankly I find the third entry to be dull (the jokes fall flat as well) and only notable as the entry in the franchise that introduces Jason's famous hockey mask. Thankfully, "Part IV: The Final Chapter," is my second favorite of films, giving us characters we actually care about in a story that is entertaining. Up to this point the movies have been relatively minimalist horror films, a gross-out misfire, and another solid entry. The tone hasn't shifted much, yet, but it does before long.

Let's not talk about the fifth film, "A New Beginning," much as it is boring and reveals the killer isn't even Jason. It tries to be a slow burn of creepiness but is drab. However, then we hit, "VI: Jason Lives," which is awesome. Part VI hits the perfect tonal balance of some horror, some humor, a helping of fun action scenes, and just is a treat to watch. Suddenly everything gets a bit science-fiction with, "VII: The New Blood," as it is basically, "What if a girl with telekinesis like Carrie fought Jason?" It isn't bad, it is just strange. "VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan," is basically just Jason killing folks in gruesome ways on a boat with a few minutes actually spent in New York City. It tries to be funny at points but marks--in my opinion--the point the franchise started going downhill.

"Jason Goes to Hell," is the ninth film. I've discussed before how it is awful. It starts with a promising idea--Jason is actually killed by a Government task force--but then goes off the rails with the introduction of magical possession, Jason having a secret sister, horrendously lame humor, weak special effects, and it just sucks. It is followed by, "Jason X," which imagines Jason in space, and if you take it as it is--a dumb silly movie mixing sci-fi with jokes--it isn't awful. The incredibly mediocre, "Freddy vs. Jason," only works as well as it does thanks to the power of nostalgia and mixes the silly-and-scary to a decent degree as it tones down both characters' weirder aspects to make them mesh together in a single film as they go head-to-head.

In 2009 there was a reboot of sorts simply titled, "Friday the 13th." It was completely unremarkable and not bad, I just remember basically zero things about it. It was just a generic horror movie with Jason wedged into it. That's been it since then as the franchise had some legal disputes over the rights. Whether we ever get another, "Friday the 13th," remains to be seen, but it would be ironic if the unkillable Jason were finally stopped by intellectual property disputes. As it is, the franchise leaves behind an interesting assortment of films.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

"Grim," #1 is a Great Start to the Latest Big BOOM! Release

The publisher BOOM! has put out a number of quality titles for some years now with, "Something is Killing the Children," being one of their most massive hits lately. The next big release is unrelated to that Universe but also has a bit of a snazzy horror vibe. Titled, "Grim," it gives us a lot to chew on in a jam-packed first issue that left me eager to read more. Sometimes comics get going too slowly, but, "Grim," just hits the ground running. Thanks for this is owed to writer Stephanie Phillips who isn't afraid to have us readers asking questions with answers coming (assumably) later. 

We are introduced to a grim reaper named Jessica Harrow who can't remember how she died but now, along with other reapers, claims souls who are dead. She takes one such recently deceased person over a River Styx of sorts to an otherworldly waiting room and then some other fun little plot twists happen to really pique our interest too. It was good stuff. 

Props are also due to Flaviano, the artist, and Rico Renzi, the colorist. The illustrations are fantastic, making the, "Real world," and the world of Death/afterlife/etc. both stand out as different and intriguing. The deep reds we often witness in the post-life realm are eerie and the supernatural elements coexist with the grounded stuff stupendously thanks to the art and colors. It's a gorgeous comic.

The first issue of, "Grim," gives us the basic plot, establishes some delicious mysteries, and has fantastic art and colors. It is a marvelous first issue and I look forward to seeing where the series goes. I give this debut...

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Happy National Twilight Zone Day!

I know sometimes it feels like we might be living in some version of The Twilight Zone, but today we actually kind of are! It is May 11th, National Twilight Zone Day! Created by Rod Serling, "The Twilight Zone," has had multiple iterations but I love the first series. Every episode is its own little yarn and while not every tale is a winner, many are amazing. A stellar piece of sci-fi (and sometimes dipping its toe in horror), "The Twilight Zone," inspired so many other people and stories--you've probably seen something that draws inspiration from, "The Twilight Zone," and have not even known it!

Why is May 11th the day we celebrate this show? Nobody seems to actually know. The reason it is today seems to be as mysterious as, "The Twilight Zone," itself. Whatever the reason, spend today watching some original episodes, the movie, or one of the rebooted versions if you'd like!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Television Tuesday: My Overall Thoughts on the, "Moon Knight," Show

Note: I spoil basically all the twists from the show in this post.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say we will be getting another season of, "Moon Knight," or some kind of movie to flesh things out further. There were too many little things left unanswered and one really big moment in the post-credit scene. Plus, May Calamawy is too good when she beomces a hero, the Scarlet Scarab, to not bring her back in another, "Moon Knight," project or with her own show/movie! Yes, Marc's wife, Layla, becomes a hero that actually existed in the comics years ago (as a male), and she kicks butt. That's in the final episode, however, which I quite liked and was pleased tied everything together. Even if the last episode was quite good, how was the show overall? Odd, but I enjoyed it.

We honestly did not get a ton of Moon Knight in, "Moon Knight." Besides some suited-up action in the 2nd episode and a whole lot of him in the finale, the suit (or suits, as Steven wears the Mr. Knight outfit) was/were used sparingly. The show was instead an interestingly blend of genres as it told the story of Marc Spector and Steven Grant, seeming a bit like a wonky action-comedy with slight horror vibes in the first episode, turning into more of an adventure-filled romp for the second and third entry. I was enjoying the show through the first three episodes but not really finding my attention that piqued. Then things got very weird, and I liked that. Throughout it all Oscar Issac was amazing too, carrying the show through the duller times.

May Calamawy makes a great hero.

The fourth episode was filled with creepy tomb raiding before pulling the rug out from underneath all of us (when Marc/Steven seem to die) and putting Marc and Steven in a surreal psychological thriller mixed with a sci-fi afterlife via a kinda-sorta mental hospital. The fifth episode kept that vibe going and was really depressing as we saw all the trauma Marc went through and then genres switched again with the finale. Suddenly we have giant versions of Egpytian avatars fighting as if we were watching a Kaiju flick and the aforementioned moments of Layla becoming a hero happen as well as tons of kickass action. I was having a great time watching the final episode but felt a little annoyed when everything seemed to be wrapped up with a tidy bow. Then that scene happened after some credits with Jake Lockley and a big smile filled my face.

The, "Moon Knight," show has been quite different from the comics, but that's okay as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has always tweaked a lot from the funnybooks they draw from. That said, Marc Spector has also had the alias/identities of Steven Grant plus Jake Lockley. The show hinted at Jake but never actually revealed him until that delicious last moment of the show where it turns out Jake has indeed been hanging around all along and is quite the troublemaker. Steven is quite different than in the comics and Jake seems a bit removed from his four-panel inspirations as well, but he still has the hat, so I'm happy. Seeing Jake raises a whole bunch of questions and I want to get some answers in a future season or movie! Plus, again, props are due to Oscar Issac for essentially playing two major roles in the form of Marc and Steven and then a third persona being added to the mix at the end just shows how much range Issac has. He and Calamawy did a ton of heavy lifting for the show and Ethan Hawke was a solid villain if a bit under-utilized considering how talented he is.

Oh snap, Jake Lockley!

In conclusion, "Moon Knight," was overall a good time that slowly turned into a great one. It dipped its toes in various genres and took a little bit to get going but as soon as it let itself get weird and trippy I was pleased. It is a little annoying how it starts strong, then drags a bit until the last third of the fourth episode, but it does eventually kick into a fantastic overdrive of bizarre and exciting from that ending of episode four and on. The entire show is worth watching, just be prepared to get through the duller moments for the really wild ones.

4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Honestly, Does Anyone Care About a New, "Avatar," Movie?

James Cameron made a film called, "Avatar." It was decently entertaining and had really good special effects but otherwise was quite forgettable. Many people said the plot was basically, "Dances with Wolves," and the dialogue and plot was clunky (they literally called the valuable mineral the humans were after unobtanium). "Avatar," was--for reasons still beyond me and others--a massive hit that made a ton of money. Then it barely left any kind of cultural footprint besides looking pretty. I seriously cannot member the names of any of the characters the actors played beyond the main one, Jake Sully. I only remember that because when I hear, "Sully," I think of the, "Monsters' Inc." movies. For years we were promised a sequel to, "Avatar," and everyone shrugged at the idea. Now, we have to face the fact that it is actually happening with, "Avatar: The Way of Water."

I saw the trailer for, "Avatar: The Way of Water," when I saw the new, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," flick. Upon watching the trailer all I could do was mutter under my breath, "Who is asking for this?" Here is the preview if you want to see it:

Yeah, that definitely looks like a movie. Not a movie that will necessarily be bad, by any means. It just looks like one that will have great effects and keep us busy for a couple hours...and then is promptly forgotten after a viewing. As you can tell, I'm not very enthusiastic about, "Avatar: The Way of Water," but it should be a perfectly fine movie. Just one nobody asked for.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Happy Mother's Day to All the Moms and Mother Figures!

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms and mother figures out there. I love my mom, Ellen, and the mother of our son, Clarkson, the wonderful Samii. All of you mothers and those who have served a motherly role are awesome!

Saturday, May 7, 2022

George Perez Has Passed

I learned earlier today that George Perez has passed at 67. He died yesterday after having previously disclosed he had pancreatic cancer and would be going on hospice. During the limited time we knew we had left with him fans gave Perez an outpouring of love. Also, "JLA/Avengers," was reprinted against all odds with profits going to the Hero Initiative, an organization of which Perez was a huge advocate. We all knew this was coming after Perez told us, but it still stings. I met Perez back in 2013 at Project Comic-Con and he was a delight. He chatted eagerly with attendees and made the most gorgeous sketches at astonishing speed. Perez was an amazing artist and an awesome guy. I'm tired of saying this--as I just said it about Neal Adams--he will be missed.

Film Friday on a Saturday: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

A local theater actually had a very early showing of, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," yesterday. For that reason, I was able to catch it at 10AM with my friend, Doug. Doug and I both enjoy Marvel flicks and he loves the works of Sam Rami (who directs this feature). I wanted to give it a day for the movie to settle in mind so I'm posting my review on a Saturday. Also, as this is still fresh in theaters I will offer some spoiler-free thoughts and then more spoiler-filled observations before my conclusion.

Relatively Spoiler-Free Segment
This is what you get if you marry the Marvel Universe with a horror movie. Rami has experience with both genres and to this film's credit, it doesn't feel too much like a bland, "House style," Marvel project in the same manner that, say, "Avengers: Endgame," was. I will forever say I liked that film well enough but found it to be a slog. The creepy imagery and visceral fight scenes honestly made me a little surprised this squeaked by with a PG-13 rating considering just how nasty stuff could get. 

I am of the apparently small number of people who really liked the first, "Doctor Strange," and this has a very different vibe but still features Benedict Cumberbatch doing a solid job balancing arrogance and humanity in his portrayal of Dr. Stephen Strange. Plus, it isn't spoilery to share (as they feature in the previews) that Elizabeth Olsen does a lovely job as Wanda Maximoff and Xochitl Gomez is a delight as a newcomer to the MCU, America Chavez. Rachel McAdams is back as Dr. Christine Palmer, but feels as criminally underutilized as she was in the first flick considering how talented she is. Between the great special effects and fantastic acting, what could I have been less-than-impressed by? For that, we need to discuss the plot a bit more and move into my spoiler-filled segments.

Spoilers Ahead
I and others have been kind of bummed that, "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," basically takes Wanda's story of someone living through tragedy and trauma the best they can and casts it all aside to make her a villain. For this film she literally turns into a blood-stained horror movie slasher, killing tons of people who get in her way whilst stalking her would-be victims through hallways as she snarls and her eyes glow their creepy red hue. Despite some efforts to make us feel a little bad for her--"I'm not a monster, I'm a mother!" she is still murdering a slew of folks in an effort to then kill America Chavez and use her powers to find a reality where she can have her children from, "Wandavision," that she lost as they didn't really, "Exist," in her reality.

Also, there is the much-buzzed-about Illuminati which features some fun actors stepping into roles such as fan-favorite Patrick Stewart returning as Professor X and John Krasinski appears as a universe's Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four. These and other appearances sadly are little more than cameos as the whole Illuminati essentially finds itself reduced to cannon fodder for Wanda. The exact continuity of these characters isn't really touched upon further (such as if we will get Krasinski as Mr. Fantastic in the main Marvel Universe now with that movie on the way) and they are basically big helpings of fan-service...before their brutal murders. If a viewer thinks of them more as a fun bonus addition to the flick as opposed to expecting them to play a huge role it isn't a big issue they are around so briefly, however.

Concluding Thoughts (No More Spoilers)
"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," is a fun movie filled with personality thanks to Sam Rami's skill and little flourishes. Even if certain elements of the story itself perturbed me the amazing effects and great acting makes it a lovely way to spend 2 hours and some change. Just be prepared for some shockingly gross and scary imagery. Those with sensitive stomachs or who dislike horror may need to sit this one out. Those into that kind of stuff will love this, however. Oh, and Doug thought it was great too.
4 out of 5 stars.

It is Free Comic Book Day!

Today, the first Saturday in May, is Free Comic Book Day! It is always a fun day where publishers release special comics which the shops then distribute at no cost! Many comic stores participate so go to a comic shop and get some free comics! Keep in mind that they don't get the books for free so maybe buy something too so that you can show your support. Now, go get some free comics!

Friday, May 6, 2022

Film Friday: This Documentary about the KLF Looks Fascinating

The KLF was a music group that made all kinds of fascinating and wild jams. They were making mash-ups before that was even a word. This article discusses how soon a documentary will be coming out all about the KLF and their zany story. Titled, "Who Killed the KLF?" they arguably destroyed themselves if one knows a little of their history, with the two members intentionally deleting their entire catalog at one point. There is undoubtedly a lot to the story, however, and when this documentary is released it'll be interesting to hear some answers!

Thursday, May 5, 2022

The Fan Expo for Saint Louis is a Bit More Than a Week Away

Fan Expo Saint Louis will run from Friday, May 13th of 2022 to Sunday, May 15th. Formerly known as Wizard World, I went to plenty of those and had a lot of fun. Therefore, I am eager to attend the Fan Expo in a bit more than a week! There are going to be so, so many celebrities at the show. From Ron Perlman to Michael Rooker, Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes to Billy West and Charles Martinet, it is going to be quite the event! I didn't even name all the folks in attendance just then either. We've got a bunch of the cast of, "Smallville," Carl Weathers, Luci Christian, Nolan North, and the list goes on! 

It isn't just celebrities at the show, of course, there will be vendors of comics, toys, video-games, and other goodies as well as gaming, cosplay, panels, and plenty of fun. I am excited to attend and hope to see some of you all there!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Today is a Big Day for Star Wars Lovers

The original expression is, "May the force be with you." Then the fan holiday of May 4th came about because it sounds similar when you say, "May the fourth be with you." Over time as with lots of things individuals come up with corporations have gotten involved and now May 4th is basically the biggest official holiday for fans of the Star Wars franchise. I have enjoyed the Star Wars-related stuff I have seen but am by no means an expert. It is cool to have a Star Wars-related day though!

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Abortion Rights Look Like They Are Going to Be Overturned in a Massive Step Backward for the Nation

I could go on about this for hours so I will try to be relatively succinct. A draft majority opinion leaked from the Supreme Court indicates that the conservative majority will be overturning Roe and abortion rights will lose all Federal protections. Yes, Justices who claimed that abortion rights were, "Settled law," or had, "Precedents," were, of course, lying and legislating from the bench with their own personal views impacting National policy. You know, lots of conservatives claims they value privacy and liberty and hate justices who let politics influence their decisions, but as soon as it comes to abortion, LGBTQ+ rights, and the like they love the Federal Government getting in people's business. I am disgusted. CNN keeps updating the news as things evolve, but the outlook is not promising.

Apparently, women or people who identify with other gender identities but who can give birth are nothing more than ovaries and uteruses on legs. We can't trust them to make their own decisions about their body and now it is a decision states get to make with about half of them chomping at the bit to ban abortion in almost all cases. I have been open in the past about my own family's struggle with losing a pregnancy and how because we had a heartbeat even if there was no way to have a viable baby we had to have what essentially counted as an abortion. I wrote back in 2020 this paragraph in my post about that:

"Even if we lived in a state that had outlawed abortion the procedures would have been allowed as this was a medical situation, but it is scary to think how much more paperwork there could have been or how much longer things could have taken. Samii could have died due to too much legal junk, and there was already a lot of legal junk we had to sign while sobbing because we wanted this baby, we just couldn't have it. Sometimes people who lose their babies become very anti-abortion. If anything, this has shown me how private a choice it is for a family to decide if they have to terminate a pregnancy or not. This is something that should be up to a family and their doctors. The doctors told us everything and it was clear after having all the facts laid-out there was no way to keep Samii and this baby alive. We truly appreciate everything all medical teams at Mercy and BJC did. We were in the midst of one of the hardest weeks of our lives and being given accurate facts and data allowed us to know what to do in order to save the life of my wife."

Now, however, plenty of people will have the Government sticking its nose in their extremely private and extremely painful moments. This is a violation of civil rights and as others online have pointed out, this is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Supreme Court overturning other rulings such as ones that granted the right of same-sex marriage. It seems like instead of a United Country we want to have little conservative fiefdoms carved out in some states that forbid any progress made in the last 50 years or so. I'm outraged, feel sick, and would say I'm shocked, but I'm not. This has been the endgame of the Right-wing for decades. They kept slithering their way into power and chipping away at abortion rights until they could break out the sledgehammer. They would go on about personal liberty, taxes, and jobs, but then use their power to fight any kind of social progress. Here we are in 2022 and abortion rights look like they're due to be overturned shortly with other progress soon to follow.

Monday, May 2, 2022

The Embracer Group Keeps Snatching Up Game Publishers

A publisher I've barely heard about keeps quietly buying up other game-makers. This fascinating article on Kotaku by Ethan Gach explains who the company known as the Embracer Group is and how they've been scooping up game publishers for years and then having them make decent games that then turn a tidy profit and keep Embracer Group making dough. They are getting more press as they just bought some studios from Square Enix and the rights that come with the deal. Eidos, Crystal Dynamics, and Square Enix Montreal are all getting sold by Square Enix proper and IPs such as Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, Thief, Legacy of Kain/Soul Reaver, and more are now going to be under the control of Embracer.

Embracer seems eager to let these studios keep chugging along making games (as appears to be the case with previous acquisitions that didn't get too much shaken up either). Hopefully, this won't lead to nasty lay-offs or a bunch of drama and will lead to some cool new games getting made.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

The ToyMan Show of May 2022 Was a Delight!

I was unable to attend the last ToyMan Show in March so I was extra eager to swing by the one today that kicked off May! I started the show by chatting with my friend John Chaffe of Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles as well as my good chum Spike from Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles. I ran into Vince of VK Toys and got to see Tom of Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games. Larry of Bug's Comics and Games had a ton of great stuff for sale as well. After chatting with my friend Tim Metzger at his spot I got a great deal on some comics from Dustin White and Tamara Gassert at their booth. Check out my finds:

That beat-up, "Moon Knight," #1 was just ten dollars and I can't say no to a Moon Knight comic! In the upstairs area I saw the good folks from Heroes for Kids from Perryville and Lindsay Hornsy was selling her awesome books from the Mega Giganto imprint. I chatted with creators and friends Jennifer Stolzer and Jessica Mathews about how Planet Comic-Con was (it happened recently and I didn't have the time to attend). I also picked up the latest book from them, "The Old Man and the Pirate Princess Meet a Magical Menace." It just came out and I am excited to read it to Clarkson! Give it a look:

The ToyMan Show is always incredible fun. If I were to ever offer a, "Complaint," about the show it would be how there is just so much stuff that you could never have enough time to check out all the awesome things for sale! Between the new toys, vintage toys, Funko products, Lego, comics, movies, model kits, and more it is just a show that is jam-packed with great items! You can visit the show's website here and start planning for the next one on July 10th of 2022!