Monday, October 31, 2022

Happy Halloween 2022!

I wanted to wish everyone a fun, safe, and spooky Halloween this year! Whether you're going trick or treating, handing out candy, watching some movies, or otherwise just chilling, I hope you have a great night. Enjoy this frightful night as tomorrow everything and everywhere will be all about Christmas with a little lip service paid to the upcoming holiday of Thanksgiving. For now, though, let's have some scary (or not-so-scary if you prefer) fun!

Sunday, October 30, 2022

"Flesh Eating Cheerleaders From Outer Space," is a Fantastic Riff on B-Movies in Comic-Book Form

Dren Productions is a publisher who has done a number of Kickstarter campaigns and recently started releasing their comics in a wider format via Previews magazine and such. I was intrigued when I saw the solicitation for the fun-sounding comic, "Flesh Eating Cheerleaders From Outer Space." Intended as an homage to classic B-movies while also not skimping on the cheesecakey artwork, I decided to get the first issue and give it a read. I am glad I did as it was extremely fun!

Written by James Mascia with art by Felipe Obando, this comic follows some worm-type aliens that arrive on Earth via a seemingly innocent meteor and proceed to possess some collegiate cheerleaders with the intention of feasting on human flesh. It sounds silly, and that's quite intentional. As with any good hokey horror movie, there are some sex scenes, moments of extreme gore (the aliens are quite hungry once they possess a human), and a very tongue-in-cheek vibe to everything thanks to Mascia never taking things too seriously.  Obando's artwork is great as well, making the raunchy moments look a bit titillating and the violent segments quite bloody. Reading this comic is like sitting down to watch a good trashy horror movie--if that's something you're into you'll love this comic! I look forward to the rest of the issues as they come out and am eager to see what other future publications Dren Productions releases!

5 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Christopher Reeve Was the Best Superman, Without Question

Over at Polygon, there is a new article by Pete Volk. It argues the best person to ever play Superman is Henry Cavill. Look, I think Henry Cavill is a great Superman and I'm pleased (spoiler alert) that the, "Black Adam," movie made it clear he's coming back for more films. That said, as good as Cavill's Superman is/was he and nobody else can hold a candle to Christopher Reeve. Reeve was a talented actor who by no means is only defined by his time as Superman. However, Reeve defined Superman. 

The way he played Clark Kent versus his powered alter-ego was so skillful you really could believe he'd fool people into thinking his mild-mannered reporter lacked a big secret. His Superman made you want to believe that someone with that much power truly would just want to help people as opposed to being an egocentric and destructive jerk (look at all the, "Evil Superman analogue," stories). Reeve was an amazing Superman and while Cavill is great, let's not go saying Cavill is the best. The gold medal will arguably forever go to Reeve.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Film Friday: "Ant-Man: Quantumania," Looks Interesting. I Do Have One Nagging Concern

I watched the trailer for the new, "Ant-Man: Quantumania," film the other day. It looks kind of like Marvel meets Star Wars (both owned by Disney, funnily enough) as they go into the Quantum realm and encounter all kinds of alien Worlds as well as Kang. It looks fun, but I have this nagging feeling that it will feel less self-contained than the other flicks with Ant-Man and instead feel like one big lead-in to the Avengers movie featuring Kang ("Avengers: the Kang Dynasty," which itself will lead to, "Avengers: Secret Wars." The man playing Kang, Jonathan Majors, is a fantastic actor and he was stellar as a variant of Kang (He Who Remains) in the, "Loki," show. I do wonder if those who skipped Loki will be a bit confused by who exactly he is, however. 

I imagine the movie will be good fun, but I hope it gets to do some of its own thing as well as setting up all the future stuff. We've seen what happens when a Marvel movie is more concerned with getting upcoming projects teased than telling its own story--we get, "Avengers: Age of Ultron." That was a perfectly fine movie, but it ain't on anyone's top 5 list for best MCU movies and shows. No matter what, at least we'll get more of Paul Rudd, that man is a treasure.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Please, Don't Use Apps/Websites Where you, "Bet," On Losing Weight

It is something that sounds appealing at first blush. You go on a website and, "Bet," how much weight you will try and lose and how fast. It might be motivating and you can win money! It's a gamble, however, and when you gamble the odds always heavily favor the, "House," or in this case the for-profit company you're giving money to. I keep seeing ads for sites like, "HealthyWage," or, "Dietbet," and while they sound like a fun way to lose some pounds and get some cash, there is always a catch. With these sites there are multiple, "Catches," actually. First, even if you lose the weight they take a huge chunk of fees and will give you a tax form if your wager was above certain thresholds. There are no refunds even if something out of your control occurs (like an emergency hospital visit or something). These apps and sites are for-profit, so in the end, they want you to fail in the same way a casino would prefer you don't leave with more money than you entered with. 

I get why these sites sound good--I have often struggled with my weight and am currently trying to eat better and be more active. That said, I'm not going to bet on whether I can lose the weight and act like it motivates me to try harder--especially when even if I do succeed the reward is incredibly minimal. The best reward for me trying to get healthier is just that, getting healthier. Plus, if I really want to bet on something I think the Saint Louis Blues have better odds of winning a game than me melting off the pounds quickly even if I am walking more. It's a process.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

"Gotham Knights," is Hiding a Fun Game Somewhere in All the Rubbish

The, "Arkham," Batman games were fantastic. I wrote a post recently about how the opening of, "Batman: Arkham City," is one of the best game beginnings ever. All, "Gotham Knights," had to do was take those blueprints and apply them to Batman's sidekicks (Nightwing, Red Hood, Batgirl, and Robin) and the new game, "Gotham Knights," could have been a treat. Instead, it wants to lock a bunch of moves behind upgrades you grind for, make enemies take forever to knock out if you haven't been leveling up your heroes to handle them, and otherwise add a bunch of pointless, "Features," that make you feel less like a superheroic badass and more like Dick Grayson the first week he became Robin--even though in this game he's already Nightwing, but the example stands!

There is cool stuff in, "Gotham Knights." The story is interesting, the characters all interact like a true group of friends who've turned into a family, riding around the city on your souped-up motorcycle is actually fun and quite kinetic (that's the one thing better than, "Arkham Knight," and its tank-like Batmobile, even though I still have a soft spot for that thing). All the good stuff is locked behind pointless looting and crafting-style mechanics, tons of grinding, and otherwise feeling like a ton of unnecessary padding was added to a solid foundation to the point there's more extraneous junk than anything fun. I didn't play enough of, "Gotham Knights," to feel I can offer a concrete review, but if I were to offer anything like a rating it would simply be to go play one of the Arkham games again instead of this disappointment.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

James Gunn and Peter Safran Will be Heading Up DC's Film/Television/Animation Division

DC has struggled to some degree for its films to inspire much excitement or cultural relevance. Outside of some die-hard fans of Zack Snyder's take on everything the franchises have mostly floundered with some notable exceptions. One of those big exceptions was the latest, "Suicide Squad," movie James Gunn directed. Folks may recall James Gunn did the, "Guardians of the Galaxy," films, but was fired from the third when old inappropriate joke-tweets he did were used against him by alt-right conservatives mad he mocked Trump. However, he was hired by DC to make a new, "Suicide Squad," then got rehired by Marvel to do the third GOTG flick, and now is apparently going to be a co-head of everything DC-on-the-screen as his, "Suicide Squad," is a rare recent DC movie that did well and received good reviews (folk dug his, "Peacemaker," spin-off show too). 

Gunn has definitely come quite far and the other person who will head everything, Peter Safran, has worked with Gunn a good deal via his production management company. They will both report to the much-hated David Zaslav who has slashed a ton of stuff at Warner Brothers Discovery, including killing the, "Batgirl," movie. Hopefully, Gunn and Safran will be afforded enough power/control/independence to get the DC film, television, and movie stuff all on a better track than there currently is. I actually feel a slight bit optimistic about DC's future output now--for the first time in a long while--so at least that's good.

A School Shooting Happened in Saint Louis Yesterday, at this Point One Just Feels Exhausted

I'm disturbed, horrified, disgusted, and above all exhausted. I've written about gun violence so many times on this blog and basically, nothing has changed. I shared my one thought on our nation and mass shootings earlier this year. I observed how, "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." It keeps happening, and yesterday a mass shooting happened in Saint Louis at a high school. My heart goes out to the families of those we lost and anyone injured. Information is limited but it seems the shooter was a former student who had access to high-capacity rounds and other insanely dangerous weaponry despite being only 19 years old and a civilian.

One struggles not to be numbed by the unending violence our nation seems to suffer from. Our country slathers itself weekly--if not daily--in the blood of mass shooting victims and acts like these deaths are the price of some vague concept of freedom equating to guns. Until something is done nothing will change. Currently, it looks like nothing will change. At this point, gun violence is as American as apple pie.

Monday, October 24, 2022

Lelise Jordan Has Passed

Leslie Jordan was a fantastic actor known for a wide range of roles. He was currently doing a fantastic job on the usually quite funny sitcom, "Call me Kat." He passed today at the age of 67 after being in a car crash that is thought to have potentially related to a medical emergency (e.g. something happened to him while he was driving and he crashed). All I can say to this news is, "Aw, damn." Jordan was such a cool guy and I'm just perturbed he's no longer with us to share his hilarious insights and acting talents as well as being an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ issues and individuals. He will be missed.

"Cane L. Grey: Werewolf Bounty Hunter," is an Engaging Comic That Just A Launched a Kickstarter Campaign!

"Cane L. Grey: Werewolf Bounty Hunter," is currently Kickstarting its first issue--I had the chance to an advance copy and I was quite impressed! Written and illustrated by Chris Holmes, this debut issue follows a man who claims to be a reporter looking for stories about monsters in the Louisana bayou. It isn't too big of a spoiler to say this man isn't who he claims and the person who says they can tell him more about the monsters is fibbing a bit too. The story uses scary creatures but isn't a horror comic so much as it is a bit sci-fi (with its discussion of many cryptids existing and having a tenuous treaty with humans) and loaded with a great action-filled fight scene. My interest was especially piqued at the end when the titular bounty hunter (who is also a werewolf, obviously) is informed of a new monster that also has political aspirations--a clever little twist that gets me excited for more issues after this one!

The art in, "Cane L. Grey: Werewolf Bounty Hunter," is great. It has a little bit of a cartoony edge that makes the monsters more fun and wild-looking than overly gruesome, but everything is still grounded enough to seem set in a possible feasible reality where monsters could very well secretly lurk among us, only held at bay through complex agreements to be left alone by society. Between the fun story and delightful art, I really enjoyed this comic and would encourage you to check the Kickstarter out at this link.

5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

The October 2022 Quad Con was Loaded with Comics, Toys, and Fun!

Today I attended the latest Quad Con event in Saint Charles. I had an incredible amount of fun, meeting a ton of stellar comic dealers, folks with creations to sell, and just generally chatting with fellow fans of popular culture! I kicked off the show by saying hello to my friend, Spike (of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles). He had a bunch of cool stuff for sale and posed for a pic:
Jack of Trade Up Comics had a booth full of great reads and I saw my good chum Bruce Reynolds who was selling some neat books as well. I checked out the booth for Bartertown Toys and Collectibles where I enjoyed digging through their comics and looking at all the toys they had. I proceeded to see my the always-awesome Jack Thomas of Fortress Comics who had so many superb books for sale! I snapped a picture of him:
I had a chance to check out Orion's Dragon Gems, their booth had some really cool jewelry available. I said hi to Larry of Bug's Comics and Games as he was selling at the show too. I then chatted with Red Den Studios about their snazzy paintings and prints. They were happy to be in a picture as well:
I met the folks at the booth for LuvKnotz and admired their amazingly done crochet. My good friend Chris McQuillen was selling wares too and we talked about how I looked forward to the next ToyMan show (which he runs). I then saw the Hero Initiative at the show, a fantastic charity that helps comic creators in need. I had the chance to talk with my friend Eric Meyer of STL Comics and bought a really cool, "Hulk," comic from him (I'll show what I got at the show when we reach this articles' end). He was pleased to have his picture taken with all his great stuff:
As I continued to explore the Quad Con I met Perler artist Leisure Time Treasures. I also chatted with creator Bilbus Thiq, he was very nice. My friend Justice of Wayne Kent Collectibles was there too! I met the folks behind Strangeville Comics, a cool multimedia entity that does comics, movies, and more! I got a picture of their cool booth:
I had a fantastic time at the latest Quad Con! I didn't even mention everyone at the show as I forget to get some folks' names or to take pictures, but there were other comic dealers, folks selling toys, collectibles, Funko Pops, and more! It was really fun and I was able to buy a snazzy, "Batman," comic from when Grant Morrison was writing for the series, that aforementioned, "Hulk," issue, and a, "Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars," #10 with a classic cover. Here are those:
This latest Quad Con was as awesome as I hoped it would be! I really enjoyed seeing lots of my old friends, meeting new people, and picking up some fantastic comics for myself. I'd recommend following them online so you can go to any other shows in the area and/or plan to attend the next one in Saint Charles!

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Marvel Snap is an Absurdly Fun New Game

Back in the day, I played Hearthstone a decent amount. However, I grew tired of the decks full of cards and all the strategies that entailed resulted in a meta that felt more like homework than fun to do. One of Hearthstone's former bosses (Ben Brode) went and made a new digital card game that is wildly fun, uses Marvel comic characters, and is simple in some ways but complex enough to always keep things fresh. I'm talking about Marvel Snap.

It came out this week and Marvel Snap is a digital card game that also has puzzle elements as you place your cards at various locations to optimize their usefulness. The cards interact with each other in a number of ways that keep players on their toes. Plus, it is loaded with fun Marvel characters! You don't have to pay anything to get cards and can unlock a ton of them by simply playing, but you can unlock cards faster with little power-ups you also earn through playing or with some cash. I only paid enough to get the season pass and unlock more bonuses faster, as I felt with the amount of time I've already put into Marvel Snap it was worth $10 to have more missions and such. 

I'm not alone in loving Marvel Snap. Many people appreciate how the matches take 5 minutes or less too with the smaller decks. It is like Marvel Snap trimmed all the extraneous stuff from Hearthstone and created a tight and streamlined (but still quite clever) optimized title. Plus, I love Marvel so that's just gravy on this delicious metaphorical biscuit! If you've got Steam or a smartphone, you need to try Marvel Snap out!

5 out of 5 stars.

Friday, October 21, 2022

Flashback Friday: Thinking About When OutKast Took Over the Grammy Awards

I've made it abundantly clear on this blog that my favorite musical group of all time is OutKast. Big Boi and Andre 3000 are each musical genuises in their own right and as OutKast they created masterpieces. I was listening to some of their 2003 album, "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," and remembered how it swept the 2004 Grammys, winning best rap album and being one of the few rap LPs to win best album of the year, period ("Hey Ya," also won best urban/aternative performance). Even if the Grammys are rigged, seeing OutKast get recognition is always a good thing. I went searching on the internet for the live performance of, "Hey Ya," that brought the house down back then, and actually found a clip! Be forewarned the performance does appropriate a lot of Native American culture, but it was 18 years ago so a lot of things haven't aged perfectly these days. That aside, the performance rocks:

I swear, I continue to wish we get just one more OutKast album before the World ends in a fiery ball of war, fiery ball from global warming, or something else terrible that seems inevitable with the state of our planet these days. One can dream (which I actually have done).

Thursday, October 20, 2022

I Miss the Old Kid Cuisine Penguin

Kid Cuisine has a penguin mascot named KC (his name is literally Kid Cuisine, I assume). He has had a variety of designs over the years but has always been in the style of a drawn cartoon. In the past couple of years, they changed KC to look like a strange computer-generated monster. This saddens me immensely as someone who has enjoyed Kid Cuisine as a child and as an adult when I want a small and easy little meal. Kate Hagan Gallup of Mashed wrote a fascinating article about Kid Cuisine and its history I'd recommend reading. I'm just annoyed that the KC I was fond of is now a creepy creature with soulless eyes. The meals still taste good, though.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Reminder: Some Musicians Are Delightfully Nice and Others Are Bullies, Just Like Everyone Else

I like reading about people being nice whether they are famous or just a, "Regular person." Sometimes fame and wealth seem to be a corrupting influence that amplifies a person's worth personality features, and other times it doesn't impact their being pleasant one bit. More and more stories have emerged lately of Post Malone being just a really nice dude, and that's good to hear. Post Malone has some songs I enjoy and others I hate, but overall his stuff is at least listenable. Plus, any news story I read about him discusses how he's really friendly and fun. One recent story is about him chatting with a fan who was celebrating their 21st birthday and who happened to have autism. Malone seems to always come across as delightful and humble.

Meanwhile, Nicki Minaj is picking fights with plenty of other rappers and proving herself to be a bully. I have written here before about how I've never been a fan of Minaj and if I had the option of listening to her music or Cardi B, Doja Cat, Latto, Saweetie, or any other popular female rap artist I would pick them anytime over her. I just don't like Nicki's songs or how she seems to treat others. Reading that she harassed the woman who accused her husband of sexual assault just is disgusting. At least by all accounts some of my favorite music artists (Big Boi and Andre 3000 of OutKast, Kendrick Lamar) are cool and not jerks.

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Television Tuesday: "The Paloni Show! Halloween Special!"

As everyone argues whether Cartoon Network (and by proxy, Adult Swim) is dead/dying or just fine, Hulu has quietly dropped a Halloween special that seems a bit like a way to backdoor pilot a slate of its own animated show ideas. This occurs within a program/one-shot/pilot itself that dropped yesterday, "The Paloni Show! Halloween Special." 

Created by Justin Roiland (one-half of the, "Rick and Morty," founding team and a creator of Hulu's show, "Solar Opposites," too), the framing device of this hour-long program is the Paloni family as they struggled to host a quality Haloween show between having to babysit a nephew with absurdly long legs, avoiding a serial killer, and other dangers. Between the Paloni family's mayhem, there are 13 shorts that vary in their animation style (one is claymation and another is actually live-action). Many of the shorts incorporate the holiday Halloween or riff on horror movie concepts, but nothing is especially, "Scary," so much as sometimes over-the-top silly in a variety of ways including some cartoony violence. 

When it comes to the shorts, I would say 1/3 are fantastic, 1/3 are okay, and 1/3 are...well, they're bad (some shorts are just dull and lack much of any idea or are simply really ugly in their animation). The good stuff really sticks with you though, like a town where the mayor banned anything scary that increases in absurdity as the bit goes on. I also really liked an animated Megahex segment that was made by the comic's creator, Simon Hanslemann. A weird story about a seemingly ineffective apartment complex manager also becomes inadvertently bittersweet as it features one of the last recorded performances of Gilbert Gottfried--who passed earlier this year.

Overall reviews of, "The Paloni Show! Halloween Special!" are mixed. I've seen some positive takes that admire how bizarre and off-kilter the whole thing is. I have also spotted reviews that have the same opinion I do about how the shorts vary immensely in quality, but overall it is a fun program that sets up possible future Hulu shows in a cleverly subtle manner (please, PLEASE give us a full Megahex series). I would say the entire thing is a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars. If you like the kind of weird shows Roiland makes this is mandatory viewing, but if you've found yourself struggling to ever enjoy the kind of stuff on Adult Swim or the like, maybe pass on this. I liked it.

Monday, October 17, 2022

I Love Our New Vacuum

I am aware there is a certain humor to how I recently made a post bemoaning how I'm old and then shortly after that creating a post about my affinity for a vacuum. That said, I really love our new vacuum. We had an old one that was really heavy, struggled to get the job done, and otherwise needed to be replaced. I did some research on what was the best vacuum (at a reasonable price) and thanks to some sales going on we were able to purchase a Tineco Pure One S11 without breaking the bank. This thing is amazing.

Our new vacuum is cordless, can easily have the filters changed, and you can pop various attachments on and off to tackle almost any cleaning task. It literally detects how dirty a carpet is and adjusts its suction based on that. When I use this vacuum I feel like I've jumped a decade into the future. Vacuuming now feels less like a chore and more like a sci-fi experience.

Note: I was not asked by Tineco to write this post, they don't even know I exist. I just felt like making a post about my love of our new vacuum.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

The Trunk or Treat at LifeBridge Partnership Today Was Great Fun!

LifeBridge Partnership is a nonprofit found here in Saint Louis which has been around for over 90 years. Their mission is, "Building bridges to a life of social independence for individuals with disabilities," and they do lots of good work. They held a big Trunk or Treat event today and our family went and checked it out. It was a lot of fun! There was a DJ playing music, a free hot dog lunch, face painting, ample cars doing the trunk or treat, and a cool, "Haunted," bus that I got a picture of Clarkson on:

We enjoyed walking around and as you can see from the top photo and this one right below with my wife, Samii, we were waffles and syrup! Have a look:

The Trunk or Treat at LifeBridge Partnership was lovely. I'd encourage you to check them out!

The Death Penalty is Arguably Useless as a Deterrent and Often Used Unfairly

I am against the death penalty. There are some people who do not deserve to walk this Earth because they are such horrendous human beings, but the death penalty itself is often used so unfairly or in a manner that promotes systemic racism that I am opposed to it. The Parkland shooter--I won't even give him the dignity of using his name--is someone who unquestionably has no reason to be alive. He committed a mass shooting with pure malice and hatred. However, it was recommended he simply get life in prison. Meanwhile, the death penalty is often unfairly used much more heavily against people of color in a manner that makes it clear not being white--or especially if you are of color and your victim is white--greatly increases the odds of the death penalty. My own region's prosecutor, Wesley Bell, has discussed this before as well. This is when it should be pointed out the Parkland shooter is a white male. 

Plus, there are still cases where someone is later proven innocent through new evidence and has already been executed. Even one innocent person being killed on death row is too one too many. The death penalty is something that should be useful in theory but ends up being used in a prejudicial manner and not even used when it would make perfect sense. This is all without even going into how cost-ineffective it is to our nation's budget. If we give the death penalty to certain demographics without hesitation but then disagree about giving it to a mass shooter who happens to be white this program that works in hypothetical situations is horribly broken and should simply be eliminated.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Two Things Made Me Feel Really Old This Week

I'm getting older, which is fine! We age and sometimes we feel kind of old for various reasons. Two different things made me feel quite ancient this week even if I'm just 34, however.

1. I was at Half Price Books and browsing the magazine section as I always check there, the comics section, and so forth. I found one from the 1980s with a big feature of Debbie Harry of Blondie. I was excited to get it and pointed it out to the employee barely in his 20s at checkout. He told me, "I'm sorry, but I honestly don't know who that is." I named various songs and he was apologetic, but I could feel myself withering away into primordial dust.

2. A song called, "Sunshine," has been on the radio by Tyga, Jhené Aiko, and Pop Smoke. It doesn't so much sample the classic song also titled, "Sunshine," by Lil' Flip and Lea, as it does function as a cover version with the many elements wholesale ripped off from the original song. The thing that made me feel old was I have seen multiple people acting like it is a brand new song or being confused when they hear it samples a previous song. The original, "Sunshine," came out in 2004, which I guess is now 18 years old and therefore seems like aged classical music to some young folks these days.

I have turned into the stock photo cartoon of the old man you can see above. It's only a matter of time before I tell kids to get off my lawn.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Flashback Friday: "Batman: Arkham City," Has Arguably the Best Video-Game Opening Ever

Before we discuss the masterpiece that is, "Batman: Arkham City," we need to talk about what came first. When the video game, "Batman: Arkham Asylum," was released, it astounded everyone. A video-game company named Rocksteady--who had made one decent first-person shooter and was basically unknown--released an absolutely incredible Batman game. Before this came out it was basically a joke that super-hero video-games usually stunk. How could Rocksteady possibly follow up such an amazing game set within the infamous Arkham Asylum? Why not make a big junk of Gotham one big open-world prison? It was so crazy it worked and, "Arkahm City," is arguably even better than the first game. I feel one reason it manages to be so amazing is it sinks its claws into you from the earliest moments with one of the best openings ever.

Now, one caveat must be said. Before the game proper starts there is a little segment with Catwoman that is all of 5 minutes or less long. When the game originally came out you had to enter a code to even play this moment and the other Catwoman sections (later editions automatically included this). Therefore, technically there is a little Catwoman segment before the opening proper in many versions of the game, but let's not dwell on, "What about-isms." In my opinion, the real opening of the game is that prologue with you as Bruce Wayne getting a feel for the nightmarish city before you even put on the Batman cowl. Here is a clip of the prologue of sorts and then my thoughts on it all:

The game opens with a white screen along with the voice of Hugo Strange taunting Bruce Wayne about a mysterious protocol and how if Wayne tries to stop him he'll reveal he's Batman. Between this strange screen, we see an intro movie of Wayne protesting Arkham City as a horrible idea and getting arrested. Then the screen reveals we are now in control of Wayne as his eyes adjust to the lights. We're chained up and staring at ourselves in a mirror. When I first played the game I didn't realize I actually had control but then I motioned for Wayne to tip the chair over. 

This brings a guard in that you beat up and steal a piece of tech from. Then you're picked up and thrown into the city. Prisoners mock you, and other villains can be seen getting tasered and forced into the city. You can walk a bit, but don't have to do any fighting for a good bit as the scene just drips with atmosphere. Eventually, you fight a little bit and (after smacking around the Penguin) climb up a building to call your suit down. It's an ingenious mixture of introducing the story, setting, and giving you a bit of gameplay. It is fantastic.

That is just the first 10 minutes in what becomes hours of wild fun. A whole bunch of villains appear, puzzles are solved, ample fights occur, and it all results in, "Batman: Arkham City," being simply incredible. Some games take a while to get going and run the risk of losing a gamer's attention (or at least mine) if it takes too long for anything cool or fun to occur. "Batman: Arkham City," manages to hook you right at the start and that is why when I think back over the best openings in games, this one is possibly the top dog...or should say bat? Yeah, that's an awful joke, I'm sorry.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

When a Situation Makes Eric Andre be Serious, You Know it is Bad

Eric Andre is a hilarious individual. From acting in various television shows or movies to doing his surreal talk show/variety show/fever dream of a program, "The Eric Andre Show." I rarely have seen him on camera not being silly, so when he's deadly serious you know something is horrifically messed-up. Well, a program done at airports that asks people to allow a, "Consensual," search in the name of finding drugs that clearly engages in racial profiling--and almost never found anything but essentially stole money from travelers, is pretty darn bad. 

Hence, Eric Andre and another comedian, Clayton English (who on a separate occasion found himself harassed with no probable cause) have filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia's police department in an effort to get the, "Jet bridge interdiction program," declared unconstitutional. The program sounds like it fails in every manner besides providing the department with ill-gotten cash, so I wish Andre and English luck in getting it shut down.

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

What Were you Thinking, TwitchCon?

Twitch is a popular streaming platform where people play games or do some kind of hobby and chat with viewers. I've checked Twitch out on occasion and see the appeal although I'd usually rather play a game myself than view someone else doing it. Twitch had a big convention full of popular streamers called TwitchCon and it was going well until multiple people injured themselves in an incredibly poorly constructed foam pit. People were encouraged to jump into it and streamers twisted ankles or hurt their backs on some foams placed on a concrete floor just a few cubes deep. 

A streamer named Adriana Chechik broke her back in two places and has been tweeting she will require surgery. Apparently, Chechik hasn't just streamed safe-for-work stuff on Twitch, she recently was doing Onlyfans/other pornographic content and in a disturbing trend, some people have made jokes about her being hurt or otherwise indicated that because she's done sex work she deserves injuries. I've stated before that I believe sex work is work and if we destigmatize sex and legalize all sex work that will actually help put more funds towards actual sexual abuse and trafficking instead of wasting resources on prosecuting consenting adults engaging in sex work/porn/etc. I'm on a soapbox thanks to my MPH, however, so I digress.

When you have any sort of attraction at a convention, theme park, renaissance faire, or so forth you need to make sure it is safe. You can't just slap together something that looks fun and think the fun factor overrides the importance of public safety. Again, the public health student in me is immensely disturbed by the apparent lack of standards for avoiding getting people horrifically hurt. I already hesitate to jump into foam pits at trampoline parks, I can't imagine just diving into one built on a floor with zero padding.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

My Review of, "Kratt," is Up Over at Forces of Geek

I reviewed the flick, "Kratt," for my chums over at Forces of Geek. Filmed in Estonia, it is very zany and sometimes a little violent.  Did I like it? Read my review over at their site and find out!

Monday, October 10, 2022

Interesting News From NYCC 2022

I said I'd probably have a post on the interesting news from the 2022 New York Comic-Con, and here we are. There were some intriguing tidbits so let's cover them!

NYCC 2022 Tidbits

  • DC Comics is going to introduce a new digital subscription tier that allows subscribers to read comics just a month after they've come out. DC is aware this might upset comic shops and is attempting some damage control.
  • Marvel laid out a bunch of upcoming events with a number of them involving the X-Men in some capacity. It is quite different from those years when the X-Men were shuffled to the side and an attempt was made to heavily promote the Inhumans. Clearly, having the film rights to mutants back has made Disney/Marvel quite bullish on the franchise. Blade's newly-introduced teenage daughter is getting a mini-series as well. I like Blade so I hope it is a good read.
  • The publisher Heavy Metal has been having a lot of trouble lately, and Whatnot is going to partner with them and do all the actual publishing. An embattled company teaming up with the live-selling app's publishing venture sounds quite random. It could work or go down in flames. I'm 50-50 on it. Either way, I still enjoy the Whatnot app itself.
  • "The Super Mario Bros." movie had a trailer debut. The internet had thoughts about Chris Pratt voicing Mario.
  • The, "Wednesday," show that focuses on the titular character from The Adams Family had a trailer too. This upcoming Netflix show received a seemingly more excited response than Mario got.
  • In terms of the news that surprised me the most; Joe Quesada spent decades at Marvel as a bigwig but left at the start of the Summer while indicating he wasn't done with comics. DC announced he'll be doing some variant covers and possibly other projects for DC in the future. It is just wild to see Quesada doing DC work after so long at Marvel.
  • Overall, it seems a lot of fun was had and that this year's NYCC delivered plenty of entertainment and cool news.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

"Fruiting Bodies," is some Great & Creepy Storytelling Loaded With Body Horror

"Fruiting Bodies," is the latest comic from Ashely Robin Franklin. I was a big fan of, "One Million Tiny Fires," with its eerie story and, "Fruiting Bodies," is even scarier and at times pretty grotesque with some impressive body horror. The comic follows Frances as hitches a ride to the Pacific Northwest with her brother, Charlie, and his best friend, Trent. Frances is on her way to live with a new girlfriend and the guys are eager for a trip. Then everyone gets lost in the woods and all kinds of creepy stuff happens. I don't want to spoil what the group encounters in the forest, but it definitely impacts the physiology of all who encounter it. 

Franklin illustrates all kinds of weird morphology expertly in the comic, making things delightfully gross and horrifying. As the comic proceeds the terror ratchets up and I was pleased with how spooky the whole comic was. Franklin excels are making scary comics--and comics in general. I loved, "Fruiting Bodies," and eagerly give it 5 out of 5 stars. It is in stores this week and I'd highly recommend giving it a read! You can ask your comic shop to get you a copy or buy it directly from the publisher, Silver Sprocket.

Saturday, October 8, 2022

"Werewolf by Night," is My Favorite Marvel Production In Some Time!

It isn't quite a movie considering it clocks in at under an hour and it is a single episode as opposed to a streaming show. This makes it hard to say what exactly the new Disney+ addition, "Werewolf by Night," is besides calling it a, "Special." You know what? That works, as this was wonderfully special indeed. Brisk, action-packed, a little scary (but not too frightful), and with atmosphere and mood to spare, I loved, "Werewolf by Night." This has to be one of my favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe projects in quite some time.
The plot of the special is mostly straightforward. Ulysses Bloodstone has died and a bunch of monster hunters--including his estranged daughter--have shown up to fight for the rights to his bloodstone. The show is basically all black-and-white except the Bloodstone, which glows an equally impressive and imposing red. The hunters are mostly nameless tough guys/gals besides Elsa Bloodstone (Laura Donnelly) and Jack Russel (Gael García Bernal). Plus, Harriet Sansom Harris, is fantastic as Elsa's horribly twisted mother. The monster everyone ends up hunting has been hinted at by trailers so it isn't too big a spoiler to say it is the Man-Thing. As such a name would probably inspire a few giggles he is referred to as either just, "The Monster," or his name, Ted (he was Ted Sallis in the comics too before his change). We watch the hunters fighting, some awesome special effects occur, and we wrap up before even 60 minutes have passed in a nice succinct manner.

The general tone is a bit more serious than lots of other Marvel projects lately. There are some funny moments, but this special is more interested in knowing winks at classic horror movies than telling puns. I don't mind the quippy movies and shows in the MCU, but this cleverly worked just a little humor in at the right moments and balanced any levity expertly with action and horror. It was a treat. This is without a doubt one of the best things to come from the MCU in some time, with director and composer Michael Giacchino creating something quite amazing. More of this from Marvel, please.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Film Friday: "Community," is Getting a Movie!

I am a little embarrassed to admit that outside of an episode or two I never really watched, "Community." Recently, my wife and I started viewing it from the start and it is a fantastic show (I am aware the fourth season without Dan Harmon's involvement is the least-liked and will be ready for it). The fact the show is fresh in our minds made it humorous how a movie has actually been announced which will stream on Peacock. Six seasons and a movie actually came true! A chunk of the cast has been confirmed, some remain up in the air, and Chevy Chase will not be back, obviously. I am excited about the movie and hope to be ready for its planned release in 2023!

Thursday, October 6, 2022

New York Comic-Con 2022 Begins Today

The New York Comic-Con starts today in New York City. It will have a bunch of guests, tons of creators, and looks like a fun time. I'm not going this year as life in Saint Louis has us far too busy for me to just dip out for half a week. I do hope to attend NYCC someday though. I have enough friends in New York thanks to having lived there for some years previously I probably could at least crash somewhere as opposed to having to get a hotel room, so that's theoretically a bonus. Anyways, the show kicks off tomorrow and will probably have some cool news coming out of it I'll discuss during or after the weekend.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

"Mount Pleasant," is a Wild Comic-Zine by my Friend, Robin Bougie

I have written before about the talented Robin Bougie. For years he put out his zine about underground/weird movies, "Cinema Sewer." I was honored to actually contribute an article to the last issue. Now, he has been doing a zine about bizarre comics titled, "Gutter Hunter." I am unsure where he finds the time, but he just released a large magazine-sized comic with the publisher Spread Love Comix. Titled, "Mount Pleasant," the cover is edgy enough I cropped out basically everything besides the title to keep my blog safe for work. As for the actual contents of the comic, the illustrations and strips are wildly raunchy, silly, funny, and have a cute bit of winking self-aware charm. As long as you don't mind a lot of dirty-but-clever jokes about sex that are expertly drawn, you'll have a fantastic time reading, "Mount Pleasant."

Bougie's illustrative talents can result in everything from cartoony cats driving cars to hyper-detailed portraits of famous models such as Bettie Page. One page will have a silly robot with a surreal mechanical appendage and the next will have a written rumination on the concept of artists' exploring, "Problematic," concepts through their work...with some really explicit drawings noting how in a way, "Pornography is a funhouse mirror," of the urges lots of society attempts to repress. See? It's smart and uninhibited! In all seriousness though, if you enjoy great art and comics--plus you aren't offended if it is incredibly saucy--"Mount Plesant," is a great prestige-sized comic! Buy yourself a copy at this link.

5 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

"Old Dog," #1 Scratches the Sci-Fi and Spycraft Itch Nicely

Declan Shalvey has written and illustrated many quality comics, with his latest release, "Old Dog," (published by Image) featuring him both as the writer and artist. This benefits the comic greatly as the debut issue of this combination sci-fi and espionage comic (Image calls it, "Spy-Fi,") is a treat. The comic follows a longtime CIA operative named Jack Lynch who horrifically failed a mission in the past (little is revealed but a lot of people apparently died) and now is mainly stuck at a desk job. However, after a strange encounter with some top-secret enemy tech, our protagonist finds himself biologically changed in a variety of ways that make him a prime candidate for getting back in the field with a new mysterious Governmental division.

Shalvey's art is unquestionably on point here, with the aged Jack Lynch's wrinkles each looking like they could tell a detailed story. The comic has a number of action-packed moments and they feel intense and adrenaline-filled thanks to Shalvey's masterful illustrations. Shalvey's writing is superb too, making us genuinely care a bit about Lynch and wonder what exactly happened to him years ago to make him so miserable. A little last-minute twist revelation of the nature of another character in the comic makes me wonder if this comic will be focusing on the dynamic of an "Old dog," with a younger partner as well in future issues. It's a great debut issue and I look forward to more!

5 out of 5 stars.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Yeah, I Bought the Adult Happy Meal

Do you know those new McDonald's Adult Happy Meals? You should as I wrote about them back on Thursday of last week. Well, today was their first day on sale and therefore I felt it was my obligation to buy one so I could write about it. That, and I was hungry. Having purchased what is officially known as the Cactus Plant Flea Market Meal I will say it provided what I expected--a large Happy Meal.

The box for these Adult Happy Meals is easily double the size of your usually kid-sized meal. You get 10 nuggets or a Big Mac, some fries, and a toy all packed in there, and your drink on the side. I got a Grimace toy and he was ugly but in-person is a bit more charming than pictures of these toys would suggest. If we're being totally honest these are little more than Value Meals with some fancy packaging and a toy. You know what, though? That's alright! It adds a little fun to your grown-up meal and that is a good thing.

The Full, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," Trailer Has Been Released!

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," is the upcoming sequel to the stellar, "Black Panther." There have been some promotional images and even a teaser trailer, but now a full trailer has been dropped online for us all to enjoy. the movie will be released on a rapidly-approaching November 11th and the trailer features some cool moments ranging from more glimpses of Riri Williams/Ironheart to Namor flying about with his little wing-feet. Plus, in one quite spoiler-styled moment (you've been warned) we see Shuri seeming to don some Black Panther armor and taking up the Kingdom's mantle. Give the trailer a viewing below if you haven't seen it already:

I'm quite excited for, "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." If it can be as good as the first movie or even better we as an audience will be in for a stellar time.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

The October 2022 ToyMan Show Was Loaded With Good Stuff!

Before this most recent ToyMan show, it was advertised there would be some new vendors and vendors who were newer to the show. I met some folks who I hadn't seen before (and bought some new cool goodies) so that was indeed true and made for quite a fun time meeting new people and seeing old friends! When I walked into the show I first saw my good buddy Spike of Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles. I also saw the always friendly Tom from Alliance Comics, Toys, & Games. I proceeded further onto the show floor (which was stuffed as always with awesome things to peruse) and saw Vince of VK Toys at his table. He had a bunch of great comics and toys. I met the good folks behind Back in Time Comics & Toys who had a great copy of, "New Avengers," #40, the 2nd printing which features the Skrull Queen Veranke's first appearance (and cover appearance). Give it a look:

Then I went over and chatted with my awesome friend John Chaffee of Bigfoot Comics and Collectibles. I also saw my good chum Tim Metzger selling comics. I made the acquaintance of the owners from Retro Resale and enjoyed looking through all the great comics they had brought to the show. In the upstairs area, I saw the talented Lindsay Hornsby of Mega Giganto--she always has the most fun comics/stickers/pins/so forth! I met author Jacqueline James and checked out her books as well. Back downstairs, I saw Toys of Our Youth and then Konnor Tate and Co. of Tatertot Comics and Collectibles had a table set up and I got a stellar deal on the first appearance of Madame Web and the first appearance of Damian as Batman. Observe:

This ToyMan show was a fantastic way to kick off my favorite month of the year, October. The sheer amount of toys, Funko products, die-cast cars, magazines, comics, and other neat stuff was astounding as it is anytime I come to show! I would undoubtedly recommend coming to the next ToyMan show on November 13th, with all the details available via the show's website digital flyer.