Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Two Great Comic Shops You Should Visit in Belleville, Illinois

I live in the Saint Louis region but right across the river is the state of Illinois. Over in that nearby region is Belleville, and within that town, there are two comic shops that are worth a visit! They are Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles & Cosmic Comics Games and Collectibles. In the past, I met people from both shops at different comic events in the area and thought I would share how their stores are great whether you live in Illinois or don't mind a drive across the river from Missouri.

Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles

I'm friends with the owner of Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles, John Chaffee. I met him years ago through the ToyMan Show and have enjoyed visiting his store on a number of occasions. It is utterly packed to the brim with comics, toys, and other fantastic collectibles. I've heard some people who step into the shop describe it as, "Sensory overload," but in a good way. The store is full of older comics, newer comics, and tons of other cool stuff. Whether you're looking for cheap floppies to enjoy reading or rarer and high-end titles, Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles is a fantastic place to spend some hours digging for snazzy stuff.

Cosmic Comics Games and Collectibles

I met the folks behind Cosmic Comics Games and Collectibles previously at a Quad Con. I told them I would try to get to their store and now I've been able to visit it! At CCGC they get in a variety of new titles that come out weekly and have a good assortment of back-issues to dig through. Their store also has vinyl records for sale--something which I appreciate as a music lover. If you're looking for the newest comic releases or other fun stuff, give them a visit at Cosmic Comics Games and Collectibles!

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

The Pumpkin Spice Latte is Back for 2022!

I don't care if the calendar still says August. I also don't care if the heat of the Summer has a death grip on much of the World and refuses to cool. I just care that the Pumpkin Spice Latte is back at Starbucks! I have multiple posts discussing my affinity for all things pumpkin and pumpkin spice. I love the Fall season (October is my favorite month for many reasons), and I adore pumpkin as a flavor. The Pumpkin Spice Latte is back, therefore it is now Fall. Don't question me on this, just go with it.

DC Comics is Looking Pretty Tone-Deaf in Its Effort to Promote Hispanic Heritage Month


UPDATE: DC is going to use the original cover that Jorge Molina did. Thank goodness for that, at least.

Oh, DC Comics, you really stepped in it. In an effort to promote the upcoming Hispanic Heritage Month, DC is doing some themed covers. This is perfectly normal as we've had themed variants for plenty of notable months. However, the actual execution this time has resulted in some problematic optics.

Almost every single cover involves food. The characters eating it, or it being a part of the image. It's a little odd. One really cool cover that was done Jorge Molina did not involve food. As Bleedingcool tells it, "Only the variant for, 'Titans United,' featuring Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, appeared to feature something other than a food theme, homaging La Patria, a painting by famous Mexican mural artist Jorge González Camarena." The original image Molina did is this one:

That's not what DC chose to publish. Some changes were made (Molina has politely expressed he is not a fan), and now the image features Kyle Rayner holding a bag of tamales. Yes, seriously. Have a look:

I mean, what the Hell? A big part of many cultures would be food. It doesn't have to be the only thing though. As Samantha King of Screenrant observes, "Culture and heritage is about far more than food. Though it is one of the most effective ways to bring people together and to begin building bridges, it shouldn't be the sole focus of covers that aim to celebrate so many different cultures." It is reductive. This would be like reducing my Jewish heritage to a bunch of comic covers featuring matzah ball soup. I eagerly await to see what DC does in response to how awkward a look this is.

Monday, August 29, 2022

My Review of, "Anatomy of Comics," is Up at Forces of Geek

I enjoy doing the occasional review of stuff my friends at Forces of Geek think I'll like. They provided me with a fascinating publication called, "Anatomy of Comics," which chronicles various interesting/important/notable comics throughout history. I shared my thoughts on their site and you can read my review over there via this handy link.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

August 2022's ToyMan Show Was Splendid!

The last ToyMan Show of the Summer (the next one will be in October) was great fun--as is to be expected! I saw many of my awesome friends and was able to trade for and purchase some goodies. I kicked the show off saying hello to John Chaffee of Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles, he had his usual great stuff for sale! I next said hello to Tim Metzger. I got the entire first, “Kingpin,” mini-series from him for a stellar price!

My good chum Spike of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles had his usual impressive assortment of toys and collectibles (he’s a hoot too). I chatted with Dustin and Tammy for a bit as well and picked up a copy of the 23rd issue of, “Conan the Barbarian,” from them. This issue features the first appearance of Red Sonja inside! Give it a look:

As I continued exploring the downstairs area of Toyman I was able to chat with Tom from Alliance Comics, Toys, and Games. We talked about a variety of stuff and then I ran into Larry of Bug’s Comics. I also greeted Vince of VK Toys and admired some lovely new stuff he had, including a couple of old precode horror comics in slabs. There were tons of other vendors I didn't know as much, and I loved looking at all the toys, Funko Pops, Legos, movies, comics, and all the other items ToyMan is always packed to the gills with!

I proceeded upstairs after a bit and saw my great friend Jessica Mathews! She spoke with me about all the projects she’s been working on and how busy life has been! I also browsed some more vendors upstairs and got to chat with the always-awesome Lindsay Hornsby of Mega Giganto! She had a variety of her comics and crafted items for sale. I couldn’t help but buy a really cute pin. Here it is:

This ToyMan show was a superb way to close out the month of August! Anytime I visit the show I see so many cool items for sale in basically any fandom you can think of. If you haven’t been to a Toyman show I would encourage you to attend the next one (or any future show that you can)! I know I’m pumped for the October 2nd one! It’ll be the same place as usual, 12365 St. Charles Rock Rd, Bridgeton, MO, 63044. It will run from 9AM-3PM with early bird entry at 8AM. I hope to see you all there in a bit over a month!

Saturday, August 27, 2022

This Moon Knight Funko Statue is a New Favorite of Mine

I don't collect a ton of Funko Pops these days, but I always seek out the snazzy Moon Knight ones. There have been these Funko Pops styled to look like they are standing in front of a popular comic that featured a specific character, and Funko/Marvel released a really cool one of my favorite heroes. As you can see above, it is Moon Knight as he appears in, "Marvel Spotlight," #28, his first starring appearance (before that he appeared in other comics such as, "Werewolf by Night," or within the, "Hulk," magazine, but did not get solo billing).

Unfortunately, you cannot take this Pop out of its little statue area without breaking anything (the case is actually a nice harder plastic), but it looks snazzy standing there in front of the artwork it ties in with. This Pop is now proudly displayed with some of my other favorite Moon Knight stuff and I'm happy to have acquired it!

Friday, August 26, 2022

"V-Force: Veterinarians to the Rescue," is a Cute Promotional Comic-Book

I am a fan of odd and quirky comics, you all know that. Hence, when I was at the veterinarian's office for a check-up on one of our cats I spotted an interesting little comic--one which I obviously got a copy of to take home and read. Titled, "V-Force: Veterinarians to the Rescue," it is a publication by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). It centers on a variety of veterinarians in different positions as they help save the day. 

You've got vets on the farm, army veterinarians, and those involved in the food industry (that section was interesting as I didn't realize some USDA inspectors were in fact veterinarians), among others. Written by Matthew Zingale with art by Leo Perez, it is a cute little comic geared towards kids so that they understand how many different kinds of Veterinarians are out there and how they help. 

Obviously, real-life vets don't have x-ray vision or the ability to shrink themselves into the bloodstream, but they use all kinds of tools that allow them to help animals as well as people. "V-Force: Veterinarians to the Rescue," is a clever way to have kids read about vets and how they help us. You can maybe find a physical copy of the comic as your own local veterinarian's office or the comic is available to download for free at the AVMA website here.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

The Pokémon Toys/Cards at McDonald's Are Fun

Currently, McDonald's has a Pokémon toy as their little promotional bonus that comes with a Happy Meal. There has been a lot of hype on the internet about it and I figured I would get a toy to see what all the hullaballo was for. The toy is a fun little spinner, a pack of cards exclusive to McDonald's (the Pokémon featured are tweaked a bit for the restaurant chain, apparently), and directions about how to play a game with the cards. Here are the cards I got:

It is all quite cute and admittedly over my head as back in my day when I played Pokémon on the Gameboy or enjoyed the card game there were only 151-ish Pokémon that existed. Now when I check Google it says there are nearly 1,000. Still, kids love and plenty of adults are going nuts over this new batch of cards found at McDonald's too. I like the fun little game that comes with these cards and I hope everyone who wants some of these Pokémon toys can get them!

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

The Comic-Book Market's Profit Margins Are Getting Ever Slimmer

Comic-book/pop-culture stores operate on a pretty thin margin when it comes to the actual comics. One shop owner told me comics take up the most space at his store for the most little profit compared to trading card games, board games, and so forth. Comics operate under the Direct Market model where stores get a big discount to buy comics upfront and lack the ability to return them if they end up unsold. Now, ever since the distributors of comics went from being a single entity (Diamond) to three in the form of PRH, Lunar, and Diamond, that has made it a good deal messier for shops. All three distributors are under a direct model, but some are easier to work with than others. I've heard from my local stores and read online that the distributor Lunar--the sole option for DC floppies (but not graphic novels, more on that in a minute)--offers some of the hardest terms to meet in minimum orders and the least forgiving percentage of a discount. Brian Hibbs latest, "Tilting at Windmills," article for Comicsbeat discusses just that.

Brian Hibbs is a longtime comic journalist who also owns a comic business and he discusses how with the shoddy discount Lunar offers his store essentially breaks even with comics they sell from DC. He gets the trade paperbacks from PRH because Lunar does a poor job keeping many options in stock, so even if he got more stuff from Lunar it wouldn't be as many graphic novels and it takes a long time for a better discount with Lunar to even kick in. As he says in his last sentence of the article, "I didn’t leave periodical comics. Periodical comics are leaving me." It's a worrying thought that comic stores are going to have to be even tighter with ordering for fear of even making a sale barely helping them survive or losing even more money than before on dead stock if something doesn't sell. One would have hoped more comic distributors would've helped to fix this problem, not exacerbated it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Television Tuesday: "She-Hulk," Had a Great First Episode

First of all, thank God this show got pretty much all the background/set-up/etc. established and done in the first episode. As much as I enjoyed the Disney+ production of, "Moon Knight," it took forever for the show to properly explain the overall premise and--you know--give us Moon Knight. "She-Hulk," explains everything we need to know in the first episode, and I appreciate that. Jennifer Walters is Bruce Banner's cousin. Through an accident she becomes She-Hulk, she goes back to her job as a lawyer and is a combination crime-fighter and prosecutor. Bam, there you go. We get a chunk of jokes, a good fight scene, and fun is had. 

No insane World-ending stakes as every Marvel production acts like it has to have lately, just some good character moments (Tatiana Maslany is fantastic as Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk), a bit of explosive action, and as I said, it is fun. I'm all for a fun legal drama-comedy (or dramedy, as the kids say) that throws in some super-heroics while examining various wild and wacky Marvel characters (as previews have indicated we should be seeing). I know some people online complained it was campy and there are the usual haters who are mad a female is the star of a show (seriously, they're enraged about a lady leading a show and complaining that somehow makes it, "Woke," or, "Feiminist," in a bad way), but I liked this debut episode a lot. I will be tuning in for more!

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Coca-Cola Dreamworld Thoughts

I guess they didn't want to just call it, "Tropical Coke," for some reason? Seriously though, the new Coca-Cola limited time flavor known as, "Dreamworld," is a part of their, "Creations," line and it tastes like someone marinated a bunch of coke in a bucket full of tropical fruits. I ain't mad about it though as this is pretty good.

I previously tried, "Starlight," and found it, "Relatively enjoyable," with its weird mish-mash of flavors. I'd say this, "Dreamworld," flavor is just as good, with the caveat that if you don't like tropical flavors you will most likely despise this. I was cool with it and would drink it again, but it is by no means a replacement for the OG Coke or Cherry Coke.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

I Want to Read Jennette McCurdy's New Memoir

I loved Nickelodeon when I was a kid. It was pretty much my favorite channel. I was in the era where my favorite shows were, "Hey Arnold," "Rocko's Modern Life," All That," and I, of course, watched a good chunk of, "Nick at Nite," when the regular programming would stop back in the day. Seriously, I watched a ton of, "I Love Lucy." When I would watch the shows with child actors I always imagined how fun it must be to have a job at Nickelodeon. There were shows that came about after I had grown up a bit and started watching other programs more, such as, "iCarly" and the like, but I always wondered how cool it must be to have a job at Nickelodeon. Oh, what a fool I was as Jennette McCurdy makes clear.

Jennette McCurdy has written the memoir, "I'm Glad My Mom Died," and details a horrible home life, some terrible working conditions at Nickelodeon, and basically in a surprisingly humorous fashion shares her life with us. As someone who grew up on Nickelodeon, I would be interested to see the curtain pulled back a bit and we are a time for a reckoning with child stars and how they have been treated--at Nickelodeon, Disney, etc. The book is selling out everywhere though! My local bookstore said it is back-ordered with them but they'll get a copy in early-to-mid September, so I should be able to get the book then.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Stop. Making. Your. Games. Dependent. On. Cryptocurrency!

Another day another story about a game that depended on cryptocurrency going bust. "Untamed Isles," was a Pokemon-styled online game but with the addition of cryptocurrency within it as a big element. This resulted in the usual, "Play to earn," buzzwords and lots of people backing it to the tune of half a million dollars on Kickstarter anticipating that they too would somehow make money from the scheme that is crypto (although, as crypto was advertised as an optional element there were some backers who just thought it sounded like a fun game, I do sympathize with those specific backers). This has, as expected, all come crashing down. Development is going, "On hold," in a manner that sounds more permanent than the term, "Hiatus," usually implies. Also, they're broke (they claim) so nobody is getting a refund. The fact that the crypto market crashed did not help the fact they were gambling on it going, 'To the moon," or something.

All I and everyone else can do is emphasize that you should not ever have your video-games be dependent on cryptocurrency. You shouldn't really have anything dependent on crypto if you know what's good for you, frankly. I'd say to let what happened with, "Untamed Isles," be a lesson to folks, but some individuals just refuse to learn.

Friday, August 19, 2022

Flashback Friday: The 90s Are Back With Wildstorm

Wildstorm started up under Jim Lee in 1992 as a part of Image comics before it moved over to DC some years later (where Jim Lee became a powerful exec at DC) and it was its own imprint until a bunch of characters were folded into the main DC comic's universe. It was messy. That's beside the point, however, as it is the 30th anniversary now of Wildstorm beginning back in the day. Yes, the 90s were 30 years ago, let that set in. Anyways, DC is celebrating the line/characters' anniversary by doing some assorted special comics and variant covers. 

There will be a, "Wildstorm 30th Anniversary Special," #1. A new, "WILDCATS," comic shall launch as well (set in the regular DC Universe, however). Plus, an out-of-continuity Black Label book about Amanda Waller of the Suicide Squad going against various Wildstorm characters is going to come out too, titled, "Waller VS Wildstorm." The 90s are back with vengeance and considered vintage/retro/a flashback. I'm going to go lay down and rest my back.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

The HBO Max Metaphorical Bloodbath Continues

If anyone thought the, "Batgirl," movie and, "Scooby Doo," cartoon being canceled would be it, they were wrong. Warner Brothers Discovery has been cutting a swathe of destruction when it comes to eliminating current and formerly upcoming projects. A good 14% of staff has been laid-off and not even being a big name like Ellen DeGeneres can have your shows avoid getting the ax

At this point, if you have a project at HBO Max in the pipeline there is an uncomfortably high chance it's going to end up canceled as part of a massive tax write-off. I mean, upwards of 40 shows/movies/etc. are getting purged! It isn't just supposedly more expensive scripted programs, plenty of reality shows are suffering as well. Why any creatives would want to work at Warner Brothers Discovery after this is beyond me. I'd be worried that I would put months of work into something only to have it shelved for eternity. Seriously though, at the rate things are going there won't be much of HBO Max left to merge with Discovey+ next year. More on this mess in the future as it most likely gets worse.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Another Batman Comic? This Time With Marc Silvestri Involved, Though? Fine, I'm Interested...

DC puts out a ton of Batman-related comics. Whether it is Batman himself, his allies, his villains, or something that is somehow related to Batman, it makes up a lot of their line. DC also has been putting out a number of snazzy Black Label comics...many of which have admittedly featured Batman. You would think I'd be tired of Black Lable comics featuring Batman or Batman comics in general, and I kind of am! However, when I read that Marc Silvestri is doing a Batman comic, I do actually get a bit intrigured.

Marc Silvestri will be writing and drawing, "Batman/The Joker: The Deadly Duo." It shall be a seven-issue series out of the regular DC continuity and you honestly had me at Silvestri drawing it. I know his art is a bit of an acquired taste, but I've always dug it. Ever since he helped found Image in 1992 the only DC work he's done is a short story in the, "Batman: Black and White," anthology back in 1996, so it has been a while since Silvestri has graced DC with his presence. The series will involve Batman and the Joker teaming up to help save Commissioner Gordon and Harley Quinn from some mysterious entity that has kidnapped them. As long as it looks gorgeous I'm eager to read it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Television Tuesday: Love Island USA on Peacock

I miss Matt Hoffman. If you watch, "Love Island USA," you know who I'm talking about, or you're very confused. Matt Hoffman was the announcer for the American version of this show and he was an absolute delight. He was hilariously snarky and said what we were all thinking as we watched the show. It was like having a friend sitting with you riffing on the absurdities of this reality program. When the American version of, "Love Island," got bought by NBC/Universal to be put on Peacock, however, they made some changes. Host Arielle Vanderburg was replaced with Sarah Hyland, but the host is so rarely around it barely has made an impact. Matt Hoffman was out and the narrator of the British version of the show, Iain Stirling, was brought in to talk about this one too. He's been...fine. He tells just random jokes that kind of relate to what's happening, but that's about it. I started my post about this season of, "Love Island," talking about the narrator because it is such a huge part of this show and the lack of Matt has perturbed me and other watchers of the show too. How is the actual, "Love Island," however? It's decently entertaining.

If you want to watch a show about people hooking up and possibly falling in love happen in almost real-time then the, "Love Island," franchise is generally a good choice. With episodes almost every night and the chance for viewers to vote on favorite/least favorite participants. The people on the show tend to be relatively personable, funny, and it is mandatory they are young and attractive. There are flaws with the show almost always being pretty heteronormative with it being male and female couples, but at least mention will be made at points about people being bisexual (almost always the women discuss it, I can't recall a sexually fluid guy anytime too recently). As is prone to happen when 20-somethings with raging hormones are left alone couples will form and then temptations will arise to mess it up and lots of drama will ensue. It's good junk food for the brain, even if it isn't the best thing ever.

I still miss Matt Hoffman as the narrator, but what's this? He just started hosting the official, "Love Island USA," podcast that launched a chunk of days ago when the housemates temporarily split up for the Casa Amour twist, you say? Well, that is some good news! I'll continue to enjoy to, "Love Island USA," for what it is and have that little bit of extra joy from hearing what Hoffman has to say. Good times all around.

3.5 out of 5 stars for, "Love Island," itself this season.

5 out of 5 stars for Matt Hoffman as a person in general because he's hilarious.

Monday, August 15, 2022

"Average Joe," #1-#3 is an Exciting Indie Comic!

I always enjoy reading and reviewing smaller-press/indie comics. I was browsing Offerup, of all places, when I saw Thomas Ryan, the creator/writer of a comic called, "Average Joe," was selling some extra copies of the series he had leftover from Kickstarter campaigns. I purchased the three issues that had come out so far to be shipped to me, they arrived shortly after, and I've given them a read. I quite liked what I've seen!

The story reminds me a bit of, "Top 10," mixed with a less outright-visceral version of, "The Boys." It is a World where there are tons of superheroes and even if not everyone is superpowered many people are. This has led to an oversaturation of good guys and very little crime for them to fight. Hence, it is important for anyone who is a hero to heavily promote themselves in the hopes of getting any semibalance of fame, endorsements, etc. This leads us to the protragonist, Max Buchanan, a relatively ordinary guy who attempts to be a big of a vigilante himself after some tragic events make him lose faith in the capes, as it were.

The art by Thien Uncage is great. The heroic characters have an intentionally sterotypical clean-cut look whilst villains are quite creepy and Max is extremely unassuming, as one would think he is until he starts engaging in his own superheroics. If I were to have a complaint about these three issues it would be that things don't really get going until the first third of the second issue in terms of Max Buchanan becoming the, "Average Joe." I understand the importance of developing a World and its characters before too much happens plot-wise, however, so I'm not especially bothered by the slow-burn style as once the action begins the comic is quite busy--especially in a fight-filled third issue.

"Average Joe," is a fun read with an interesting mixture of concepts. You can find issues for sale at the website of the publisher, Vivid Panel. I'd encourage you to give them a read if you dig smaller publishers the same way I do!

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Interesting News and Links as August 2022 Concludes

Augusts' End Nears

August is about to be done and Summer will (unofficially) culminate as well depending on if your schools and such start earlier or wait until after Labor Day (another unofficial end to Summer). How about we enjoy some news and such as the rest of August rolls out?

Some Good Reading

Denny O'Neil and Denys Cowan created an absolute masterpiece of a run when they tackled, "The Question." I need to save up some pennies and get volume 1 of the new omnibus. Steve Baxi of Comicsbeat writes about how great a read it still is.

I wrote about the "Variant" comic mess brought about by an acetate cover stapled onto an "Ultimate Fallout," #4 reprint at C2E2. It appears the company behind it, Black Flag, had their plans to do more controversial covers stopped. There will undoubtedly be more news as this develops.

Unless you were under a rock lately you probably saw the FBI raided Trump's current compound/house down in Florida. It seems he had stacks of classified documents--illegally--and I honestly can't believe he just keeps getting away with crimes and is free of a prison cell. Meanwhile, his blindly loyal followers are threatening civil war, so great times all around.

This article discussing, "The Thing," is a fantastic look back at the classic film. I often discuss how it is just a great movie. See it if you have not yet!

There was a post I made about how there are concerns about Valiant in regards to its survival as a comic publisher. They've now cut back to one comic release per month so one continues to wonder and worry.

"South Park," turns 25 this year. It has had some great seasons and some weak ones, but it manages to stay quite culturally relevant and entertaining, so that deserves props.

I have a soft spot for the, "Gothic," franchise having absolutely adored, "Gothic II," back in the day. Seeing that the first game is getting remade has my attention and makes me hope the sequel might get the same treatment at some point too!

"Day Shift," sounds like a movie I'd be into. It is a combination of action, comedy, and a dash of horror. It has actors I like in the form of Jamie Foxx, Dave Franco, and Snoop Dogg (he's been good in some flicks, seriously). It is on Netflix so I honestly need to watch it soon.

Finally, readers of the blog know I am extremely pro-choice. I was pleased to see even if our nation is a dumpster fire right now when it comes to abortion rights that voters in Kansas voted to protect a person's right to choose.

Fall Rapidly Approaches
Fall is a wonderful season and it is rushing towards us. I don't have any beef with September, but October is my favorite month so hopefully, September goes by quickly and smoothly so we can get to the good stuff.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

"The Quarry," is a Terrifyingly Fun Game

Way back in 2015 I played and reviewed, "Until Dawn." The developer, Supermassive Games, has their latest big release out now, "The Quarry," and I loved it. With a story that is a bit more focused than, "Until Dawn," and a good number of self-aware jokes about the horror genre, "The Quarry," is a lot of fun for horror fans or those who enjoy interactive dramas (with many possible outcomes). Focused on camp counselors who end up stuck at the camp for an extra night, things start to go horribly awry when it becomes apparent some kind of creatures are lurking in the forest, and they're hungry. The game takes its time getting to anything especially scary, however, instead easing us into getting to know everyone and slowly introducing gameplay mechanics that will later literally mean the difference between life or death.

Yes, the gameplay, my one quibble with all this. Much like, "Until Dawn," there are times you are basically watching the game and get dialogue prompts or choices you can make that drastically impact the story. I like these elements. There are also times you may have to move the joystick or hit the X button for a quick-time event as they are called. These are perfectly fine. Then, at some points, you are given control of a character and can wander around an area looking for items of note until you walk to the right spot to trigger more interactive-movie-style moments. These parts of the game are my least favorite. The characters feel kind of floaty and are not always the most responsive to the direction I'm trying to point them in. Then, I'll be walking along and the game's camera suddenly shifts to a whole new angle and I find myself struggling to point a character in the right direction to go where I want them to slowly amble towards It's a bit tedious, but I enjoyed so much of the game besides those times I had to wander around looking for points of interest that I can't whine too much.

When you see these symbols get ready to move your joystick/mouse cursor.

"The Quarry," is an incredibly fun time and I was amazed how after I beat the game and Googled all the various possible ways the story can go for the differing characters. There is no, "Correct," ending in the game, but some endings are arguably happier than others when it comes to keeping everyone that you get to play as alive (or just intentionally messing up a bunch so everyone dies if you want that to happen as well). I played the game on my PS5 and the graphics were absolutely gorgeous, but it looks quite snazzy on older consoles as well, from what I've seen. Should you desire a good dose of horror or just want a solid story-focused game, "The Quarry," is worth the 7-10 hours it'll ask of your time to do at least one play-through.

5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, August 12, 2022

I Got a Comic at the Dollar Tree That Ties-In With Their Toy Line--And it is Actually Fun!

I was at the Dollar Tree with my wife and son browsing for various objects and noticed something interesting. There was a comic themed for the, "Final Faction," toys (and apparent animated series on YouTube). Titled, "Final Faction: First Impact," it involves the various soldiers who fight space aliens known as the Kharn. It's a bit like G.I. Joe mixed with Starship Troopers. You have troopers with various themes, creepy aliens, lots of accessories, and the whole thing is a little bit future-retro and tongue-in-cheek.

The plot of the comic centers on how in 2050 a comet strikes the moon. This reveals how long ago an alien race (the Kharn) were coming to Earth but got stuck in a form of space hibernation that resulted in a bunch of space debris forming around their massive ship--the moon was essentially a super dirty alien space ship, in other words. The First Faction is formed to fight the aliens and the comic climaxes in an epic battle within Death Valley. The Kharn are driven off (for now) but the back of the comic advertises how a second issue will be coming featuring a battle against the invaders within Costa Rica. It's good fun.

The toys that go with the comic.

The script of the comic is by Tony Osborne, who has worked on a variety of movies, television shows, and now comics. The art is by Chris Marrinan, who is known for his work in the past with Eclipse, illustrating, "Wonder Woman," and being the artist on, "Captain America," some years back. These aren't just random people, they are actual folks with experience, and it shows in how the comic is actually really good. It has a fun vibe like you're reading a tie-in comic for an old kid's cartoon, and the vintage feel is clearly intended with some faux-ads (by Pete Mcdonnell) at the back of the comic for funny fake products. It is a throwback to as if you're reading some old floppy from the 1980s at your local drugstore.

"Final Faction: First Impact," cost me about $1.35 to purchase (the Dollar Tree raised prices due to inflation a bit ago) and was arguably more entertaining than some full-priced comics that are hitting the stands at comic shops. Hence, I give this 5 out of 5 stars. Plus, this is an ingenious way to promote the toys. You've got the Youtube cartoon, the comic, and now the toys, all at your local dollar tree for a price that will make parents shrug and go, "Fine, we can couple because they're cheap." You can watch the show and read up on the toys at the Dollar Tree website for, "Final Faction." Give it a chance, it's really fun.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Yogi Donuts are a Delicious Treat

Over at the West County Mall, they have made one of their food court's spots a, "Pop up eatery." Various businesses will appear at it for a week or so and then be gone. It's a clever idea and I swung by the Mall to check out the first business to, "Pop up," Yogi Donuts. Yogi Donuts has a food truck that serves delicious mini-doughnuts with tasty toppings. To raise awareness of their truck and how you can book it for all kinds of events they were at the Mall and I bought some doughnuts to try. I got the honeylicious option that features the miniature donuts covered in sugar and topped with honey. It was quite yummy.

These made-to-order doughnuts are hot, definitely satisfy the tastebuds, and I am pleased to have tried them! If you live in the Saint Louis region I'd encourage you to stop by the West County Mall as Yogi Donuts will be there the rest of the week (Sunday is their last day). That, or you can always find them on Instagram and Facebook to find out where their truck will be next--or book it for your own event!

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Comic, "Variant," Mess That C2E2 Wrought

The Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo just happened and the event itself was a good time, by all accounts. That's not what everyone in the comic-sphere is discussing at the moment. A company by the name of Black Flag had an old, "Ultimate Fallout," #4 reprint (the first appearance of Miles Morales) variant laying around so they stapled a new acetate cover to it. Then they got this bootleg cover of sorts graded by CGC as an official thing and solid it at C2E2 to a bunch of vendors and popular, "Influencers," in bulk. This made it hard for other folks to get the thing and a perfect storm of controversy erupted. The talking points are...

1. Black Flag basically mutilated their original comic by stapling on a plastic cover that makes the whole thing ugly and has a grammar typo (it reads, "In God We In Trust,") yet CGC graded it with a universal label as if it is its own unique comic.

2. Marvel did not approve the alterations to the comic beyond the initial variant cover so it is essentially counterfeit in the eyes of Marvel, is being reported by folks as not legitimate on eBay, yet got graded as if it were legitimate.

3. Some folks were claiming that influencers and vendors were cutting the line for copies of the comic and the popular app Whatnot actually was involved in getting them access. I actually have a friend who wishes to remain anonymous and they attended C2E2. They filled me in on what they witnessed of this debacle. They say those people had pre-paid for the comics and were picking up their bulk orders, but were not skipping the line according to what my friend witnessed. Also, Whatnot itself had nothing to do with it, it was just some sellers who are popular on Whatnot that took the initiative to order a bunch of copies in advance. Apparently, the Whatnot app staff/owners were as caught off guard by all of this as anyone else.

4. Black Flag raised the price on the comic once people started flooding the booth trying to get it, hearing it was, "Hot," from those vendors and influencers on Instagram/Whatnot/etc. They started charging even more because everyone suddenly wanted this controversial comic and it sold out quickly because--as mentioned--a bunch of people had bought copies in bulk.

5. Black Flag has said they are going to do this whole stapled-on-acetate-cover again at an upcoming convention and has outright announced they will have two lines. A line for people they deem big enough, "Influencers," who can buy 10 copies of their new comic at once to then resell, and a line where normal folks can buy a single comic. This has rubbed people the wrong way that Black Flag is outright selling stuff to resellers for the purpose of reselling as some folks view comic reselling and speculation as a plague upon the industry. I like to buy and sell comics for fun as the ones I, "Flip," help pay for my personal collection, so my feeling on speculation and reselling are not that negative, but intentionally playing to speculators is just a losing game that results in a bubble waiting to pop--look at the comic crash of the 1990s.

Fans are pissed, CGC is embarrassed, Marvel is upset, Black Flag is unrepentant, and things are probably only going to get crazier at this rate.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Jelly Belly's Watermelon Sparkling Water is Surprisingly Tasty

I am a big fan of seltzer water/sparkling water/etc. I saw that Jelly Belly--of jelly bean fame--actually had their own seltzer. There are multiple flavors out there, but only watermelon was in stock at the store, so I figured I would give it a try. I was pleased with how tasty a drink it actually was. As it was sparkling water it was not sweet, just had a nice crisp watermelon flavor to compliment the bubbles. If you enjoy seltzers don't let the brand association of super-sweet jelly beans scare you away from giving a chance to this sparkling water. It is actually quite good.

Monday, August 8, 2022

The First Two Issues of, "Aquaman: Andromeda," Are an Eerie Delight

"Aquaman: Andromeda," is a Black Label book from DC written by Ram V with art by Christian Ward. It is one of those snazzy magazine-sized comics DC sometimes does with their Black Label and as it is geared towards older readers has some F-bombs. The Black Label is what emerged from the remnants of Vertigo and while I don't read too much of the regular DC books I've really been liking the Black Label output. This, "Aquaman," comic with its mixture of a sci-fi and horror vibe has hooked my attention much like other Black Label titles.

The comic doesn't focus on Aquaman, instead having him serve more as an ominous force that exists in the Ocean, with our main characters being a crew on an experimental ship sent to explore a possible alien craft that has landed in the Ocean from outer space. Black Manta has been hired to inspect the craft as well and Aquaman clearly has an interest too. This results in a whole lot of folks converging in the second issue upon the mysterious vessel and a lot of things going horribly wrong in a most creepy manner.

Ram V fills the comic with a sense of dread, emphasizing how isolating and otherworldly the ocean can feel. Christian Ward's art is perfect too, portraying a cold and mysterious underwater landscape. Then in issue two, Ward gives the strange alien ship a bright and colorful yet menacing vibe. It's a fantastic mini-series so far and I can't wait to see where it goes as the ocean and what it contains only get more dangerous.

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

We Need to Talk About Ezra Miller

We need to talk about Ezra Miller, seriously. Not in a, "Oh, they're being crazy and it's funny to remark about," manner, but a, "If something isn't done this is going to end horrifically," type of discussion is needed. Miller's life of late has been not so much fraught with controversy as completely enmeshed in it. They've been arrested for assault in Hawaii, accused of grooming teens in some manner, building a weird cult-like commune on a farm full of guns, and that's just some of the list. It has gotten to a point where Miller is allegedly driving around the country, armed to the teeth, and wearing a bulletproof vest. They are convinced they're being tracked down by some mixture of the KKK and FBI. This is not a joke, this is a person with a severe issue needing help.

DC most likely plans to replace Miller as the Flash after the movie is released. It is odd how, "Batgirl," gets canceled but DC seems to eager to try and sweep Miller's behavior under the rug, grit its teeth, and try and release, "Flash," in theaters come Hell or high water. The way things are going this cannot end well and I am legitimately concerned we are on our way to some tragedy with Miller and/or others hurt, possibly worse.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Okay, Now Valiant is Having Financial Trouble?

Oni Press/Lion Forge is struggling, HBO Max Discovery is a huge mess, and now the publisher known as Valiant sounds like it is in rumors started with the tabloidy-but-sometimes-accurate Bleeding Coola World of financial trouble. The rumors started with the tabloidy-but-sometimes-accurate Bleeding Cool and then other websites corroborated much of what was initially reported. It sounds like there are tons of layoffs, less and less comic output, and Valiant's whole foray into NFTs (yuck) has gone nowhere too. It is all very worrisome. I'd imagine more will become clear in the coming weeks.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Check Out Mike Wolfer's Kickstarter for His Debut Novel!

Friend of the blog, Mike Wolfer, has made many great comics over the years and had a number of successful Kickstarter campaigns. He has written and illustrated a lot of great stuff and now is releasing his first ever novel! Titled, "Daughters of the Dark Oracle: Doll of the Dead," it follows his popular Ragdoll character from the comics and provides her origin story in what he has described as, "An all-new erotic horror novel." As a fan of his comic work, I am excited to back his latest Kickstarter and would encourage everyone to check it out here!

Thursday, August 4, 2022

HBO Max & Discovery+ to Merge, DC is Trying to Make a Plan for its Films, and it is a Gigantic Mess

In news that all sort of relates as it is the same parent company (Warner Brothers), HBO Max and Discovery+ will be merging into a single streaming service the Summer of 2023 (in the United States, at least). Also, DC and its film/television/etc. division has the idea to do a 10-year plan of linked stuff much like Disney/Marvel has had as opposed to their mish-mash of stuff they've been creating for over a decade. It isn't unfair to compare it to their competitor as executive David Zaslav himself said it. 

Big changes are clearly coming from Warner Brothers Discovery or whatever the full company name is now. These big ol' plans clearly do not involve, "Batgirl," sadly. It's a mess or as Comicsbeat's Heidi MacDonald put it, "The DCEU is fine, if by fine you mean a flaming dumpster fire perched on the edge of a volcano full of poison sharks." That sums things up well.

The Third Issue of, "Clodagh," is Packed With Action

I enjoyed the horror vibe of the earlier issues of, "Clodagh," thanks to publisher Blue Fox letting me read them around the Kickstarter for the second issue. Now, the third issue will have a campaign in the future and I had a chance to read it in advance. Written by Simon Birks with art by Willi Roberts, this entry continues my enjoyment of the series by being quite action-packed! We see more of the evil witch who stole a child named Aine and her mother, named Clodagh as well as a man named Fillin trying to rescue Aine. Our heroes get closer to saving Aine in this issue after fighting all kinds of terrible creatures recruited by the witch. the battle scenes are gorgeously illustrated by Roberts and have an impressive kineticism.

The third issue of "Clodagh," is a great read and I look forward to when it launches the Kickstarter for this issue so that folks can back it and get a copy in their hands! In the meantime, I'd encourage you to visit the website for Blue Fox so you can follow all publishing news about, "Clodagh," and other great books!

5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

The, "Batgirl," Movie is Shelved/Cancelled

DC/Warner Brothers were making a, "Batgirl," movie that would release on HBO Max. I say that in the past tense because even though 90 million dollars had been put into it and the whole thing is shot and done besides post-production, it is canceled. The entire thing is shelved and won't see the light of day until something leaks or someone changes their mind about the flick. The New York Post of all places broke the news and is a very tabloid-styled newspaper so when I saw folks sharing its article I was a bit suspicious. Then, more reputable sites such as Variety confirmed the news. I'm frankly baffled.

Even getting the movie to this point took years and apparently, test screenings went awful for the movie. With new people in charge of various divisions who are eager to shake things up, it turns into a better tax write-off to cancel the film than to throw in on HBO Max. It would've cost a bunch more to finish the post-production and if a choice were made to put it in theaters and make it a bigger release that would've cost money too. It was too big and too small at the same time. I obviously haven't seen the movie so I cannot speak to its quality, but I feel awful for everyone who worked hard to make this movie that is now suddenly dead in the water. It reminds me a bit of that, "Fantastic Four," flick from the 90s that never actually officially came out but has ample bootleg copies available. How long till we get a leaked, "Batgirl," as now many of us are curious just how bad or unfinished it could be? How long indeed.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

"If I Get Caught," by DVSN is the Most Toxic-Yet-Catchy Song I've Heard Lately

DVSN is an R&B duo. They're singer Daniel Daley and producer Nineteen85. They are Canadian gents and signed to a label Drake (who has his own controversies) created, OVO Sound. They have a new song that is incredibly catchy and possibly one of the most toxic portrayals of a relationship ever. Titled, "If I Get Caught," it is basically about a man insisting that even if his lady catches him cheating, "That don't mean I don't love you." He also insists that she knew how he was when she met him and if she breaks up the relationship over his affair/affairs it is really her fault. It's about a man basically gaslighting a woman and even DVSN has acknowledged how awful the idea of the song is and that they are telling a story as opposed to endorsing the message of the lyrics. Still, the song slaps. Have a listen:

I'm not sure if it is the Jay-Z sample of, "Song Cry." The bassline, or how Daley croons so well, but, "If I Get Caught," is incredibly catchy and I have found myself humming it off and on these past few days since first hearing it. Jay-Z acknowledged it had a great sound but wanted to make sure it everyone knew he thought it was toxic. It is undoubtedly a song expressing an unhealthy view on relationships, but it also is fun to sing with. Just don't sing it with too much gumption or else your partner might get angry at you, as one commenter on YouTube said happened.