The Violent Blue blog***Comics, Horror and Pop Culture***Updates Tuesday through Friday (and occasionally at random)

Comic Bookshelf

Muppets Mayhem

Muppets Mayhem landed on Disney + with a whimper, rather than a bang. Not a lot of promotion and honestly, while I like the netflix model of releasing a whole season at once, for Disney to do it this way shows a lack of interest on their part. That’s a shame, because the people making this threw thier heart and soul into it and created some of the best Muppets I’ve seen in decades.

Thats not a statement I make lightly. I was seriously critical of the last TV outing for the Muppets. I still can’t go back and watch it, even though it was one of the offerings listed on D+ (but no muppets tonight! WTF?). And while I defended the first Disney Muppet movie (as well as Muppets Wizard of OZ.) Muppets Most wanted was just…meh.

Insted of trying to reinvent the uppets and trying to be a new fersion of the prime Muppet Show, they decided to try something diffrent. Insted of being Cheers, they decided to be Fraiser. Insted of being the Andy Griffith Show, they decided to be Gomer Pyle USMC.

And it works.

We get origins we never knew we needed. We get unprecedented development for more background characters like Zoot and Lips. More importantly, they cracked the formula that has always worked for me in sitcoms – pretty girl, smart mouth puppet (s) outragous humor (especially wordplay) with a dash of drama halfway through, then ended with a bang of a gag. We get music that is genuinely good – and a series where the soundtrack actually MATTERS every bit as much as the soundtrack to The Crow, Frozen or the original Muppet Movie.

It’s heartwarming, it’s funny, it’s cute and there’s a bunch of new figures I’ve got to 3d print now. Go watch this series because I’m DYING for a second season.

Advertisement

Free Comic Book Day 2023

It’s that time again, Free Comic Book Day is upon us. It’s not quite the social event that it used to be back when we still had midnight parties to celebrate. Still, Carol and John’s does their best to make it celebration on the day itself, creating a small bazaar of artists and crafters at the overflow space they use for the day. While they limit people to 12 of the 40 books offered, they also make up for it by throwing in an extra graphic novel and creating a poster for the day. This time around, they even had the artist who made the poster available to sign it.

It’s a lot of that social aspect that keeps me driving out there those Saturday mornings. There’s enough people around to make it worth dressing up in costume (This year it’s Kraglin. Sean Gunn’s character from the recent Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3), and it’s where I’m most likely to run into friends and acquaintances. Indeed, as I stood in line, the Cleveland Ghostbusters Ecto mini rolled up and found a parking space. Everybody in line was ohhhing and awwwing at it and then looked at me in disbelief when the Ghostbusters jumped out and ran over to come and hang out with me and chat for a while!

Heroes Alliance was there wandering through with Star Wars and Clack Widow characters, and even the Grinch came out on his motorcycle!

After Carol and John’s, I still headed over to Comics Are Go. They offer one of every fcbd comics they have, Which takes the stress out of trying to get a more or less complete set. I skip over a few things… Marvel voices really doesn’t appeal to me anymore than a lot of the kids stuff. But manage to grab a couple of duplications for Maddie, who was just not getting out of bed this morning. You know, teenagers. It’s also a great opportunity to pick up passes for NEO comicon. Even without the passes though, I notice I always spend more over at comics are go. They’ve got really good dollar boxes, and usually an interesting deal spread out on their sidewalk sale. It’s great fun. Between the free comics and the ones that I bought, I pulled a stack about 50 home with me.Looks like I’ll be set for reading material for a while!

(At least until next Free Comic Book Day!)


Finales

With no Flash or Superman and Lois this week, we find ourselves very sci-fi heavy. Both Picard and The Mandilorian had thier finales this week and I couldn’t think of a more interesting dichotomy.  Both wrapped up thier stories just fine, but to diffrent effect.

The Mandalorian did what Star Wars does. plenty of pew pews and big booms, even a nice “We are Groot” moment. It’s ends the whole series sufficiantly, with Mando able to kick back in a quiet house on the oustskirts, while Baby Yoda plays wiht frogs by the pond. It’s fine. But it’s not quite the great hope for Star Wars that it was when it first burst on the scene. Too long a break between seasons. This allowed management to shift and the story direction really redirected. It makes it uneven. If this was really the story they intended to tell, they could have done it in about two seasons. Insted we got sideqquests, and redirects. However, I’m glad we got some sort of resolution. It was a little shoehorned, but was fine. Season was okay. I think it’s not that it was bad….but rather that it wasn’t as spectacularly good as the first two years with thier inspiration and focus.

Picard on the other hand, privides a shockingly god climax to a genuinely hopeless situation. It’s overwhelming odds and the first time I’ve felt real stakes in Star Trek in DECADES. It’s tough to make the Borg even more terrifying. Star Trek ahs tried to do it by increments – and this really does push them just another step further in the terror levels.

Not only that, they managed to introduce new characters, and set up a spin off series perfectly. A new Generation of Star Trek that I’d clamor to watch… if the current regime in charge of Star Trek had any interest in making it (They don’t). And the real shame of that is that Picard has brought viewers back. It’s undone 90% of the deconstruction and watering down that has extensively damaged the brand since Secret Hideout took it over (Perhaps even all the way back to JJ’s 2009 reboot). It’s really Star Trek done right. It’s beyond the megar sufficiancy of the Mandalorinan season3, and is the spectacular standard, (much like Mandalorian season 1-2) something we haven’t seen from Star Trek since First Contact. moreover, it’s the farewell that the Next Gen didn’t properly get with thier final film. If you haven’t watched this series….Definately hunt it down. 

And maybe hit up the Mandalorian as a light chaser.


Comic pulls for a week of 3-15

Let’s kick things off with Batgirls. It’s a nice little one-shot which is a good change of pace after the somewhat have your story arc we just finished. There’s some familiar Batman villains in it… in fact there’s a lot of Batman imagery here. It’s almost as if the writer was reveling in the fact that they get to write a Batman book. Maybe not the Batman book, but at least a Batman book! The enthusiasm is fun. That’s really what has carried this series from the word go. Just how fun it is.

Over at Marvel, the Amazing Spider-Man declares itself to be the issue you’ve been waiting for. Well,  that’s not entirely true. It’s about half the issue that I’ve been waiting for. We’re starting to get into the flashbacks on what happened between Peter and Mary Jane, how we arrived at our current status quo. It’s taken long enough, but even then, you left me on another cliff hangar! Like seriously, just explain to me what’s going on and let me decide whether or not I like it. I know I praised this sort of reverse character development in World’s Finest, but to be fair, in that book…. the character development was for the supporting characters, not fundamental to the central continuity that you’re building. When you’re doing this with the main characters (which affects the entire story), then just dropping us into the middle of it….. it’s frustrating. I’m still gonna ride this out for at least one more issue… simply because I have to know what happened. So in that respect, I suppose it makes sense. You’re getting the sales… but you’re frustrating the fan.

Also a little frustrating is the fact that the best stuff Marvel’s putting out are these infinity comics like Alligator Loki! It’s still adorable, even this week with him looking at Venom and Carnage and thinking about how cool it would be to bond with a symbiote!

For the most part though, it was Star Trek week. Up the mainline Star Trek book, which is getting better by inches, they found their way into the dimension that the Klingon gods used to dwell in, and there’s some intrigue going on here. However, this brings Worf into conflict with Sisko, and Worf leaves… which brings us to Star Trek Defiant issue 1. This is a spin off of the main series, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. With the way that they are doing these jumbled patchwork crews, I almost feel like we would have been better off just running the series as a bunch of Minis, and picked up this Defiant book after the current run of Star Trek is over. The crew here is going to be B’elanna Torres from Voyager, Ambassador Spock, and for some inexplicable reason, Lore. The timing couldn’t be better though. Releasing this book at the same time that Picard is running is either really good timing, or really good luck. Worf is featured heavily on Picard in a covert role, much like what we’re seeing in the Defiant series, and a lot of that goodwill is going to spill over. We also saw previews with Brent Spiner in this final season of Picard and everybody assumed that Lore was coming back. Now that we know that the series is all about changelings, I’m reconsidering that suspicion, but it still got him back in the public consciousness, just in time to appear in this comic book. Well done.

The jewel of this stack though, is still Star Trek Resurgence. It concludes its story with issue 5 in a very moving way. It’s been a nice little self contained side adventure in one of my favorite eras. It didn’t go too far with fan service, but kept enough just keep me roped in and interested. I’m sad this series is over and I genuinely hope they’ll do another one. There doesn’t seem to be plans for it, But the game seems to be continuing on. Since I’m not attending Concoction this weekend, maybe I’ll scour YouTube to see if I can find a play-through to watch. I’ve really come to enjoy these characters. And isn’t that really the entire point of expanded universe, whether it’s for a television series or a game?

It’s been a good week for comics. It’s been a good week for Star Trek for that matter too! And what’s that? Superman and Lois is back? Well, I think I’d better head back to the living room and catch upon my television!


Last week! 3-11-23!

It’s pretty common knowledge that Baby Yoda was supposed to be basically written out of season 3 and a lot of the Mandalorian going forward. I’ve heard talk that the marketing department basically came to John Favro and told him “You can’t do that period it’s the only mech we can actually sell!”

Whatever happened, The Mandalorian definitely got the message and Baby Yoda is absolutely pervasive the series. He’s so ever-present to the point where he actually gets some of his own action, piloting a ship and going to get Bo Katan to rescue Mando. Mando on the other hand is wondering “How did I end up on the set of the Descent?”

It’s funny, because I watched The Mandalorian and Star Trek Picard back-to-back. It’s interesting to note how differently they both treat technology. I’ve never noticed it before, but star trek still tries to fill you with wonder at the high tech. The characters on screen are impressed and astonished by the bounty hunter ship. The method of communication that the bad guy uses to talk with her evil overlord is shocking. There’s a real healthy respect for technology and what it can and can’t do. On the other hand, Star Wars is very casual about its tech. We just assume that Baby Yoda’s antigrav stroller is just gonna float. It’s just a matter of fact that this stuff works. High Tech robots are sold with the same disdain and casual flare as a beat up ’89 Chevy. In star trek, technology is still a miracle, where it is in Star Wars it’s just a fact of their existence. I think it’s an interesting contrast.

Picard basically a bottle story this episode. Our heroes are trapped in a gravity well due the miscalculation on Picard’s part, and everybody’s going to die. It’s kind of an examination of what do you do when you know there is no hope…

Of course they eventually escape. I mean come on, we know we have another 5 episodes are so to go so that’s not really a surprise. What it is, is a chance to sit back and watch some character development. It’s an exposition heavy episode, but it doesn’t feel like it. It never drags, and because these are characters that you genuinely care about… and they’re acting in character, (Along with a few new fan favorites) It’s really just a nice little hang out at the bar with friends. That’s one of the things that I keep pointing out about how Picard really gets star trek right… for the first time In probably a decade and a half.

I remember talking a little bit last week about how the first part of the red death 2 partner here felt like it should have ended with that episode. I’m actually still of that same opinion. This second part felt a lot like filler to me, and when you’ve only got half a season, you really can’t afford to be wasting time on filler. Sure, there’s some shenanigans, with the Red Death duplicating herself like Agent Smith in the Matrix and then going all Minority Report on central city… but it still feels stretched out. Like we could have gotten this earlier. I almost wonder if this 2nd part was Entirely so that we could squeeze in a Batwoman cameo. For those who weren’t fans of the character of the show, it’s OK, it’s brief. But It really serves to showcase the service that Leslie was given a real disservice in that character. When Ruby Rose left, it always felt like they just reached out and grabbed the first lesbian they could to fill the suit. Add POC for a diversity upgrade…and that was it. That didn’t give Leslie a chance to really spread her wings as an actress, that didn’t give her a great deal of characterization beyond “gay and black”. I enjoy far more watching her chew the scenery as the Red Death. When you put this character with flaws and depth next to the fairly flat and bland Batwoman, it really becomes apparent that Leslie has a lot of talent that she just wasn’t given a chance to use in her own series. Despite being a bit of a filler episode, the Flash is maintaining a good baseline of quality, and I really am going to miss it when it ends. The news about Grant Gustin hanging up the suit for the final time last week really hit me. I’m gonna miss these characters, but after 9 years of it? It’s really a case of “Don’t be sad that it’s ending, be grateful that it happend.”

foodSpeaking of things that I’m grateful are happening, The Food That Built America has just been piling up on my DVR. I don’t know why I haven’t gotten to this recently, because it’s just such a good show, and I caught up this weekend.
They’ve moved from a lot of stuff that you would expect… a lot of the staples of American food and are getting more specific. It’s not just breakfast cereal in general now, it’s Pebbles and Pop Tarts and Eggo waffles. We explore the origins of the Buffalo wing, And marshmallow peep. One of the things that really strikes me, is how recent a lot of these innovations are apparent if you’re a Gen Xer like me, you grew up always having holiday candy for each season. But a lot of that stuff got started within my parents lifetime. It’s Interesting to understand that Pop Tarts and leggo my Eggos were born right around the same time I was; indeed, just a few years earlier. It’s almost unthinkable to realize that until the last thirty years or so, nobody really ate chicken wings or Buffalo wings outside of New York. We tend to forget that wings only gained national prominence and came of age in the early nineties… around the same time I was coming of age myself. We take a lot of the stuff for granted, and this show is particularly good in reminding us of the rapid innovation and development of our society. It helps really put us in our place in history. That’s the thing that I’m thoroughly enjoying about it, and if you missed the first season, it’s usually in frequent reruns on the History Channel. Set your DVR and get to watching this. You won’t be sorry.

 


Last Week’s Pulls, Week of 3-1-23

I’d actually enjoyed Superman issue one so much that I thought I’d pop over and see what’s going on in Action Comics. Oh wait, there’s that super team that I wasn’t interested in…

It’s a difficult place to start too. I don’t know where a lot of these characters came from and it just seems like they’re all there, jumbled together. The book isn’t terribly accessible to new readers. Oh well, I wasn’t that interested in it anyway.

I also saw a new Spider Gwen series. I was hoping it would be a good jumping on point, but really, it’s just more of the same. I am so tired of the endless parade of derivatives that we’re getting out of the spiderverse. It almost seems like because Spider Gwen was a knock off herself, that the only people that she can hang out with are clones and other knock offs. Spider Gwen Octopus… Spider Gwen Sandman… it’s all really tiresome. Gwen herself was an interesting creation, but it seems like Marvel just doesn’t have any idea what to do with her right now, so it’s just variant after variant. I really would rather us just get back to good storytelling.

Can you tell it’s been an unsatisfying week? Even the Rogue and Gambit first issue was a little confusing. I’m always glad to see these two, and I do like the whole look that they’re giving Gambit now. It’s a little bit more simplified, but still evokes the classic costume. And Rogue flat out is in her nineties outfit… probably the best version of her costume we’ve ever seen. We’re definitely starting on a caper here, with The character Destiny sending them off on an adventure to go collect Manifold and rescue Lady Deathstrike… I think. Look, this one I’m still gonna ride out just because of a lifetime love of these characters, and we’ll just hope that things get clearer from here. I may go through and read this one again to try and get a better idea. The X books have been largely their on little fifedom for the last 10 years or so, but if this can shine on its own, I’m all for it.

I also decided to dip my toe in the glorious mess that is Barbarella. Look, I’ve seen the movie, I figured I knew what I was getting into… and, not so much. We arrive at the planet Barbarella’s traveling companion… a fluffy bunny sort of alien, where they’re having issues and hes trying to rescue them and…. it’s just weird. It starts off as generic sci-fi, then shifts into funny animal comedy, then morphs into a furry fantasy. The book is all over the place, but then again, this IS Barbarella. That’s probably par for the course. I’m not sure that I’m gonna keep on with this duck at that but it seems interesting enough for me the to want to drop in on it once in a while.

And then there’s The Human Target.

Remember when this series started? Remember how excited I was for it? Remember how much I loved that 1st issue? How on Earth did Tom King mess this up so badly?

I even forgot this thing was being published. I’ve said that a couple times now, and it continues to be true. I managed to grab the last issue, after having missed the past 4… and you know what? I don’t feel like I missed anything. Chance is dead, we’re wrapping up loose ends, and Ice is trying to prove that she’s a lot more hardcore and not so sweet anymore.

Here’s the thing. This particular series was way too long. I mean, there is not nearly enough story to stretch 12 issues plus an intermission… no wonder I lost interest. This thing should have gone 6 issues and out. But moreover, it’s missing everything that makes the Human Target attractive. That 1st issue had it. Christopher Chance in disguise, being the stuntman/bodyguard for The imperiled. We’ve got a good mystery starting off within the edges of the DC universe, “who tried to kill Lex Luthor”, and we’ve got some stakes. Chance has to find out in time to find the antidote to the poison and save his own life. This is good stuff. It’s a great setup. But we never actually get back to it. We get a few months of him romancing Ice, feeling sorry for himself, and drinking himself stupid. We don’t get any more costumes, we don’t really get a whole lot of actual investigation… it’s mostly just an excuse to deconstruct not only Christopher Chance, but the Justice League International is well. Who thought this was a good idea?

Look, I get that the JLI is not everyone’s cup of tea. Personally, I like the campy and jokey take… but I was never happy that it was the main, prime Justice League title. It always worked better when it was a backup idea… A mini series like “I can’t believe it’s not Justice league“, I’d rather see them as the super buddies than the JLA. But whatever else you want to say about them, it gave purpose to a lot of forgotten characters. It gave us a real revitalization for Booster Gold and Blue Beetle, both titles said it kind of fall in flat on their faces. It elevated fire and ice from backbencher’s, to recognizable b-listers. It gave Guy Gardner something to do then just be a reserve Green Lantern. It worked… and it worked because it didn’t take itself seriously. Because they wanted to grim superhero action. In fact, when they tried to play at straight in extreme Justice, it demonstrated just how much it didn’t work. And this is the team that you want to deconstruct?


Peter Milligan already did the deconstruction thing with Christopher Chance. He did it while telling mysteries and stories with a Vertigo flare, and he did it better. And you know what? I didn’t like it then either. You know what I DID like? The Human Target TV show. Both of them… not just the cheesy Rick Springfield one, but the serious bodyguard based 1 that we got in the early 2 thousands And that’s why I keep saying, This could have worked. I liked the whole hard boiled pulp detective take. I liked the fifties aquamarine noir take. If you’d given me a mystery and some distinctly human target action this way,… it really could have worked.

It’s astonishing how sour I got on this book over the year that they were publishing it.

Sorry, hopefully this week will get some better entertainment.

 

 


Week of 2/22/23

Right off the bat I’d like to make a statement that I don’t think should be controversial.

Darkwing Duck does not need 29 variant covers.
No, seriously. This is second issue. The SECOND issue especially should not need 29 FLUFFING variant covers! Look, this is a nice entertaing book. Standard storytelling. Fun but nothing special. Twenty nine covers. TWENTY NINE! Even if you don’t count duplicate images and BW ones, it still comes out to a whopping 19 different cover images! Dynamite execs? If you’re reading this? I’m not going to collect this book. All of those varient covers are going to end up in the dollar bins and confuse anyone wanting to put this run together. You’re DISCOURAGING me from buying it.

Second statement I’d like to make. She-Hulk? More of this please. Lots more.

I’m kind of at a point where I just want to see the casual pause books that come up between arcs. I’ve always been a sucker for them, but these are really what are giving me exactly what I want. Case in point, World’s Finest #12. Do you guys remember these panels from way back in issue #2?

Well in issue #12 we finally get the details. And boy, you can tell that Marc Waid has just been DYING to tell this story from day one. I keep talking up this series, and it more than just the nostalgia. there’s some really good writing going on here with some genuinely interesting character arcs happening. What’s REALLY interesting – Waid hasn’t just given Kara and Dick character arcs – he did it IN REVERSE. he presented the characters as they were, teased it, and then went back and cohesively showed how they got there. It’s absolutely a master work. Also, monkeys.

I Hate Fairyland #4 is also pulling off an impressive trick. Putting a average to kinda attractive female front and center in the issue, leaving her naked through most of it and being as gross as possible. 

And I mean as disgusting as can be. Skottie Young is known for being outrageous, but the gross outs are usually more gore focused and less scatological. This one leans heavily to the latter. It’s not for the faint of heart or those with a weak stomach.

Sadly, if that’s really all that stuck with me, then I can’t exactly say it’s a recommend either. Outrageousness is great when it serves the story. This issue seems transgressive just for the sake of it, not pushing the narrative much as we go.

Amazing Spider-Man #20 wraps up the winter getaway with Black Cat two-parter. It’s nice straightforward adventure and shenanigans, ruined only by White Rabbit’s really irritating characterization. honestly the dialogue in general for this issue drags down the story from fairly fun to kinda meh. It’s still loads better than the last six months of this book though. We needed a good compartmentalized mission like this, and here I had my hopes up for perhaps rekindling something with Felicia. I’m less hopeful after seeing the preview of the next issue’s cover with Mary Jane and Peter huddling together. I know I keep complaining about “Get back to the Status Quo, or at least tell me what’s going on and how we got here!” but it’s REALLY bothering me.

Speaking of status quo – I’ve been saving Superman for last, because I had such trepidation as to what’s going to go on with that book. I’ve seen the previews, the white suit, and whole bunch of “team Superman” heroes… the thing is, the more of these kind of derivitive characters you shoehorn in, the more you water down your original. Just look at what’s going on over in Spider man.

Nevertheless, that is a spectacular cover and things look pretty inviting, so I thought I’d give it a try. It starts off with some standard Superman heroics. A quickie fight with Livewire (a fan favorite that manage the jump from animation to comics).  With her safely put away, he notices that the minister officiating the wedding below him ran off in all of the chaos and proceeds to marry the couple himself. We get some funny photos from the reception, and it’s all very Superman. But I’m also really enjoying the emphasis on the supporting cast. This has always been one of the strongest elements of the Superman books. It’s something they understood for decades, that the unpowerd supporting cast,  the mere mortals rubbing shoulders with this demigod, they’re what really gave the book character and heart. We’ve got a new police chief in town which is interesting enough. A slick and modern look to him, with the button-down vest. I don’t know how hes getting away with that ponytail, But on all it’s a good look. I still miss the rumpled seventies detective look of Inspector Henderson, but Metropolis has frequently been portrayed as “the city of the future” and Chief Kekoa really fits the more modern esthetic.

We get some good bits with Jimmy and Lois, and Clark gets to do some very Clark Kent stuff as well. Sometimes writers forget how important these relationships are, so I enjoy seeing these front and center… I’mfar more interested in this than in a team with superpowered kids nipping at his heels.
There’s also some interesting set up… a future collaboration with Lex Luther certainly seems to be in the works. Moreover, there’s a mysterious threat in the background that definitely appears to be on the rise. It’s all good stuff, complimented by absolutely magnificent art. Jamal Campbell  Is absolutely knocking it out of the park. It’s stylized, but not ridiculously so. Superman is very recognizable, even as you can see it’s Campbell’s Superman. It’s the classic costume, complimented by a very classic attitude and  Handling by Joshua Williamson. I’m so pleased to how well this turned out. It’s very much the book that Superman  deserves. If you could just give me more of this for a few years, I’d be absolutely content perfect. However, truth is I’m probably gonna jump off the second the glowing white suit and the legion of super kids shows up,  But let’s not worry about that now. That’s in the future. For right now, let’s just enjoy some good Superman…. for as long as it last. Definitely pick this one up.

 

 


DD, Meow and some anticipation

 


So I don’t know what amuses me more….the fact that Marvel Meow is in it’s 12th issue, the fact that they’ve introduced a Loki cat, or the fact that Jeff the Landshark is basically crossing over to EVERYTHING now, including this series.

In all honesty, I can see how the inclusion of something like Cat Loki was necessary. Marvel Meow is really a one note gag and you can only stretch this out so far. Having Cat loki there gives us a visible protagonist, especially in issue 8, where he’s causing some mischief with Jeff and Pizza Dog. (Great idea to slip him in there too!)

I’m really enjoying these infinity comics. It’s nice lighthearted schtick in the “Funny animal style. But I can’t help but noticing, there’s a tiny ulterior motive. They are using them to insert a lot of the new and shall we say, less popular characters that Marvel has been pumping out lately. It probably wouldn’t be so noticeable if they were using more Spider-Man and Cap and Black Widow, ect like they were when the series first began. A better mix please!

Also caught up with Daredevil. We’re in full ninja mode now. That should annoy me, but it turns out that Chip Zdarsky really seems to know what he’s doing here, and it’s really captured my interest. Watching Stick, Elektra and DD build the Fist – a rival organization to the Hand has been absolutely fascinating. Watching DD pushed further to the wrong side of the law has been far more compelling than I had imagined it would be.

The interesting thing as well is – remember who’s currently leading the Hand? That’s right. Daredevil’s new mission will put him on a direct collision course with the Punisher.

I dropped the Punisher book a while back because I think the utter vandalization that Jason Aaron is doing to Frank’s origin is utterly despicable, and that he just doesn’t get – OR EVEN LIKE the character.  Nice to have the Punisher showing up over here. A conflict between matt and Frank is ALWAYS good stuff.

That’s it for this week – all that’s left is to wait excitedly for The Flash to come back! We’re down to less than a month and Feb 8th can’t come soon enough.

 

 


Catching up with Jeff and Alligator Loki

I think it has more to do with these being infinity comics rather than off the shelf books from Comic Are Go. But still, I love Alligator Loki and It’s Jeff!  And I hadn’t even realized they had come back so I’m WAY behind. That’s a real mistake because I even missed the CROSSOVER! Go find these and read them now. Seriously.

While You’re at it, pick up Joe Fixit. I was assuming this was goign to just be a reprint, but not so! It’s a throwback to Peter David’s run and features Joe vs. The Kingpin while Spidey just kind of looks on. It’s the best thing to come out this week, possibly all month! I know, there’s another issue of Star Trek out, but really, this one almost feels like a filler issue. What a waste of Q. As for Spider-Man, well, I’m still waiting for it to give me a reason to keep reading beyond sheer momentum.

 

 


The Guild

I discovered Felicia Day a little bit later than everybody else. I’m sure I was aware of her by reputation, and I’ll admit I found her absolutely delightful on the Mystery Science Theater 3000 revival it was probably around that time that a copy of her autobiography dropped in my lap, and in the middle of that it felt like it was time to finally get around to watching her signature series, The Guild.

The Guild is OK. It’s not my world, but it’s interesting enough and she describes it well enough that you’re drawn in. The fact that you can burn through this entire series in a weekend is also pretty nice. The bite-size nature of the episodes helps. 

I’ve noticed the inclusion of guild stories in a couple of free comic book day offerings over the years, but they were never enough to really make me sick out the full stories, until I happened across a complete three issue run during one of the comicpalooza events. At $.50 a book, it seemed like a good time to try them.

I’m shocked at how much I really enjoyed this. A lot of theories don’t need a prequel, and a deed… For The Guild it’s still pretty optional. That’s actually part of the beauty of producing this as a comic series. It’s a nice add-on, which doesn’t take anything away from the series if you don’t read it, but if you want to know just a little bit more, its there.

The other thing is really nice about it is the similarly short nature. Easily digestible chunks of story, which, altogether build into a fun narrative about how Day’s character Codex first got into MMO‘s, and how she met all the various characters that would, by the end of the story, form her guild. When we first open the streaming series, Codex is getting over a bad break up, and in the comics we can kind of see what led to that. It’s all good stuff, and the characters voices all seem true. They’re each recognizable and very individual. This isn’t surprising, considering Day was directly involved in writing the comic.

Sometimes these comics adaptions are a waste of time. Sometimes they’re actually better than the source material. Sometimes they’re just meaningless side quests… It’s really hard to tell, and tricky to get right. But The Guild does. It absolutely gets it right and contributes a story worth reading, especially if you’re already a fan of the series.

 

 


Week before Thanksgiving 2022!

It’s mostly comics this week, but I wanted to mention a couple of TV picks first as well!

After a highly accessible episode of Star Trek : Prodigy last week, we’re going into full on continuity mode. In fact, it’s really the one we’ve been waiting for… Where Dall meets the real Captain Janeway… And of course messes it all up. The scallywag from the doomed star base they visited a couple episodes ago is still slandering them in an attempt to make himself look good, the crew of the Protostar he’s having a hard time connecting with Starfleet. It’s only made harder by the fact that they are ship has a weapon inside it just waiting to infect any other ship or Starfleet entity they come in to contact with. As much as I enjoy the standalone episodes, I have to admit, the payoff we’re getting here has been really good. This episode feels a little bit more Star Wars than Star Trek though, taking place at a remote outpost that feels like a frozen Mos Eisley. Still, they make it work, and leave us on a cliffhanger that just has me squirming in my seat waiting for more.

Stargirl too. Stargirl has at this point, gone full on soap opera continuity. Basically, the show is going to be in accessible to anyone newly discovering it, but then again, I supposed they can afford to be, considering they’re not getting a fourth season.

That’s what makes it so unusual to me that DC would pick this time to launch a new Stargirl miniseries. Stargirl : The Lost Children teams her up with Red Arrow, in a relationship that feels very much like her friendship with Yolanda on the Stargirl TV show. Together they’re out to investigate the disappearance of all of the kids sidekicks from the DCU. Not the current ones, but rather the classic ones… Truth be told I don’t recognize a lot of these guys. Airwave, definitely. But a lot of these are more obscure ones that I’ve only ever heard whispered of long ago in legends. Still, the amount of goodwill that the television series has built with me, it’s got me jumping into this to see where they go. Legacy characters have always been a thing for me, and mixing it with a hero that I’ve recently come to know and love is a great way of doing this.

Really, it feels like it’s teen sidekicks all around. this month.

I somehow missed issue eight of Worlds Finest, so I grabbed that and issue nine together. We still have that kind of kryptonian refugee from another world or dimension and their integrating him into the teen titans. I have to admit, I’ve never been a fan of the Titans, so this is a bit of a low point for me… On the other hand, it’s just nice to spend time here in a DC universe that I know and recognize, as opposed to what the DCU has become in the last five or six years. That’s probably worlds finest greatest strength. Pure superhero stories in a setting in style and at legacy readers. It’s why I’m still gonna be reading this thing even when they’re featuring characters like the Titans that I just don’t care about.

Speaking of characters I don’t care about, you can pretty much skip She-Hulk this month. It’s featuring a side quest… Setting up supporting characters or villains or something along those lines… But Jen really doesn’t show up, and this issue isn’t actually about her. I have to be honest. I didn’t buy this one. I was going to, but it’s just not worth it to me this month.

On the other hand, Nightwing just continues to be stellar. I was an issue behind on that one as well, so it’s a back to back read. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Issue 97 is kind of some loose ends with a good straightforward adventure, and one of the great bits of banter that I’ve really been enjoying between dick and Barbara regarding this month’s villainous psycho whos carving out vital organs from his victims.

 

But issue 98… Oh issue 98!

You may or may not know that I am a fan of bat mite. I mean, The characters in general always appeal to me. Spider ham is another one on that list (no curiously enough, Mr. missile pic isn’t. I always found him frustrating and annoying rather than fun) well it seems like Batman’s not the only one out there in the DC universe who can attract a fifth dimensional imp… And issue 98 introduces us to Nite-Mite.

It’s not all over the top goofiness, but just enough of it, and Nite-Mite is illustrated with just enough cartoonish joy to make him fun but not to push him over the top into irritating. It’s well balanced and well handled, and I love it. I don’t want to see it every issue, but this was a wonderful surprise, and one of the reasons why I still feel like Nightwing has got his groove back. We’re back to the heights of the Chuck Dixon run back in the 90s. It’s just that good. Honestly, they should just bite the bullet and rebrand this as Nightwing and Batgirl… Because it’s just the perfect team the way it’s being written right now.

 

I Hate Fairyland is back and I have mixed feelings about it. See, the thing is I really enjoyed I Hate Fairyland during its original run. There’s something about that juxtaposition of the hyper violent angry a little girl hacking and slashing her way through a fairy tale universe. It was great fun. But if you want a return to I Hate Fairyland it has to get us back to basics. It has to reestablish the character… And as such we we see what happened to poor Gert after she returned to the real world. It’s not just that she can’t adjust, I don’t think she ever was meant for this world in the first place. She’s a drunken slacker loser. That kind of breaks my heart. Somebody once said that if you really love the characters and survivors of a horror movie, the last thing you want is for a sequel to come out… Because much worse is coming their way if they have to return. I almost feel like That applies to I Hate Fairyland. I liked seeing the psycho little girl, but it feels different watching that grown-up version of her stumble through adult life. Maybe it’ll be better once we get into the thick of the series. I hope so, because this first issue re-introduction was just a downer.

New Star Trek this month too. I guess Star Trek Resurgence is based on a game? I know nothing about this. But it’s taking place in the TNG movie time period, and that’s a definite plus for me. It’s life on a starship outside of the Enterprise… And that’s actually also something I enjoy. An unknown unique ship, a peek into the workings of a crew that we don’t normally see, I’ve always dug that. It’s nicely illustrated and it’s actually got me feeling a lot more goodwill to it than I did with the new Star Trek ongoing featuring Sisko and Paris and Scotty and what not. I almost feel like this may be the Star Trek series to follow… Will definitely find out. But I’m glad that IDW comics are leaning into the license. I’m especially glad that we’re getting stuff outside of the Bad Robot “prime” timeline, the Abrams “Kelvin” timeline, and instead getting back in that separate original Paramount universe. More of that please

I’m still behind on Iron Man and ghost rider I think. By the time I can get into that part of the stack, they’ll probably be a new Spider-Man out too… All stuff I can talk about next week. But before I go I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out the Gambit miniseries that’s already in its fifth issue. How did I not know about this? I suppose probably because most of the X books are dreck, and a shadow of their former glory. But this is good. This is really fun. The premise is that after a recent encounter with the villians Nanny and Orphan Maker, storm was de-aged back to childhood. That messes with both her power… and her memory. Remy rescues her from the Shadow King and they head off on their own adventures. See the thing is, the storm was a thief when she was a kid, back in Cairo. It’s something that she has in common with Gambit, making him an ideal mentor for her. Marvel is describing this as an untold chapter in Gambits life, which means I have NO idea when this is set and that’s cool with me. Because what we get is a really rollicking adventure with gambit and little storm… And the chemistry between the two is just amazing. I’m a little late to this game, so I’m hoping to get this collected in trade, but either way, it’s definitely worth your time and attention. Go check this out.


 

 

 


Week of 11-9-22

There’s times when I think I’m really enjoying Sventoonie even better than Svengoolie. There’s something to be said for blowing through some of these old Public Domain movies and encapsulating them into a half hour show with host bits rather than trying to present the whole thing and watch the same old movies again and again (it’s one of the things that really burned me out with online Horror Hosts like you see on the Monster Channel). Indeed, it worked way better for Bucket of Blood and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. The quick summary and visit on those was everything I needed to feel satisfied, almost like watching the movie without actually watching a movie (I have similar feelings about movie trailer compilations). It’s even better though last week, because the subject was Night Tide… A killer mermaid movie that I’ve never seen. And yet, I still feel like I’ve pretty much seen the whole thing. The show makes good use of jaws parodies and general schtick , and it’s just in enormously fun to watch. On the other hand, you have nights like this week where they screen clips of Brother from Another Planet. It’s another one I’ve never seen, and now I feel like I must go seek it out. I absolutely have to know what this is about! Again, the real beauty of these kind of shows. I’m gonna actually be pretty sad when I finish up this quickie season.

Stargirl remains solid. Actually, you kind of expect them to be better than solid, you’d expect them to be really good considering we’re entering the end of the series. But this week really felt more like part two, a good follow up from last week and the attack on the elder icicles. Seth Greens Thunderbolt continues to be the high point of the series for me. I feel like they’ve gotten into the right groove with him now. They don’t overuse him… That character could get annoying really fast if overexposed. On the other hand they don’t underuse him either… The way they did all of last season. He is a genuinely good character, and watching him and the two boys kind of do their own mini Scooby gang thing… The young All-Stars instead of the JSA, it’s really been fun. For me that’s the perfect B storyline. A group of young burgeoning superheroes to balance out the teenage jSA that really keeps the show together. Like I said, solid. I will admit though, we got some killing at the end that really took me by surprise. It shouldn’t, considering that since this is the end of the series, anything goes. But still, I was a little shocked and sad. You never know when they’re going to kill off the character that you like.

Speaking of solid, the only comic book worth mentioning this week really was Amazing Spider-Man #13 which resolved the current goblin story nicely while setting up more stuff happening down the line. They are still maintaining that interesting feel with all of the supporting characters, and that’s really the thing that’s been keeping me coming back to this book during this run.

Solid is also the word to describe Nailed It. I know I’m using that description a lot, but average television is still better than bad TV, so I’ll take it. I only have a minor quibble with this particular season. As much as I like the fact that they’re going Halloween this time around, I wish they pick different subjects. Look, I’m familiar with the Witcher, and I’ve heard of the umbrella academy. I don’t watch either of them. Yes, I Realize it’s basically cross series promotion on the same network, but only having a passing familiarity with these series makes me wish they had picked something with a wider familiarity. Do Dracula and Frankenstein instead of just hitting your other network shows. With that said, there’s not a whole lot to complain about. Really if that’s my biggest beef, then I’d say the show is still doing pretty good. Honestly, I wish they’d have longer seasons and more of them. This one’s been a perennial favorite in our home since the kids discovered it and it’s really the only context I enjoy Nicole Byer in!

Speaking of my kids, I recently noticed something strange. My younger daughter is obsessively watching the 100. My older daughter just finished seven seeds and is considering going back to the hunger games. My wife is watching a series called the society. Basically they’re all watching TV shows set in fairly post-apocalyptic settings where the kids are left on their own to try and build some sort of a society. They’re all nihilistic and depressing. I on the other hand and obsessively watching Star Trek Prodigy. It’s also about a bunch of kids left to their own devices, but in the best traditions of Star Trek, it’s hopeful and optimistic! 

The Trek Culture channel over on YouTube made an interesting observation this week. They pointed out that this weeks episode actually acts as a great jumping on point… A good introduction to anybody who has been watching the series. You’re absolutely right about this. Aside from the opening where Jayne was still trying to get information about the lost Protostar from a semi catatonic diviner, the story is actually. A nice straightforward adventure for the crew of the Protostar. It begins with some narration from Dahl, explaining that the Protostar has a weapon hidden on it, one that is designed to infect Starfleet if they ever come in contact with them, or even open up a hail. Until they can figure out how to get rid of it – a task that is driving Jayne come mad – they’re going to continue to try and Explore space, and help people. To that end, they’re answering a distress call (And doing it in uniforms by the way. As much as I’m not a big fan of these uniforms, I’m so glad to see they they are staying in them most of the time now. Uniforms are a PART of the Star Trek aesthetic, even if this current production team seems to hate them.).

What they discover is an unknown planet populated by people with very familiar names like Keurk and Suoo-looh, wearing a stitched together facsimiles of original series uniforms. Turns out, the shuttlecraft Galileo somehow got lost and crashed here with a supporting character from a single episode of the original series, Ensign Garrovick, from the episode “Obsession.” Garrovick accidentally First Contacts them… mostly to warn them away from the forest where fuel is leaking from the shuttlecraft . It’s a fun episode, and good storytelling. There’s a lot of ‘member berries in this one though, and I know that’s something I’ve complained about in the past. The thing is, it works here. This is a story that is built around all those callbacks. It’s designed around the exploration of a society that came into contact with Starfleet, but nobody knew. 100 years later, these characters are the stuff of legend, passed down through oral tradition… Well, oral tradition with a theater kid twist. It makes these callbacks feel organic. We have a crashed shuttlecraft, images of the bridge, and all these characters being able to imitate the motions and the controls of the Enterprise. At no point do I feel like it’s just ‘member berries for the sake of “hey remember this?? You love this!“ It’s not patronizing, like watching Mariner on Lower Decks suddenly whip out a batlith to cut someone’s arm with just because it’s random and funny and “remember Klingons? You love Klingons!“ This works. It just feels right, Especially considering it doesn’t happen every week.

I was crushed to learn that the Big Bad B Movie show with Leopold and Lenora has met its end. Change of management means no third season, but you can still catch Lenora on her YouTube show up on the found footage fest channel. Check out Lenora’s Midnight Rental and see what you think.

We’ll be back with more television and comics next week! (Probably).


Last Week’s Pulls

A new Star Trek book hit the shelves! The line is just being referred to as “Star Trek”. Not “Star Trek : This new series”, or “Star Trek :That new ship name” and I’m of two minds about that. Usually a title that’s just ‘ol Star Trek refers to TOS or ’09. You know, Kirk and company. This on the other hand is an ensemble book. It’s a team made up of characters from various series and incarnations, including Captian Sisko, Commander Data, Dr. Crusher, Lt. Tom Paris and Mr. Scott. I can see why it might defy catagorization, yet, I almost feel like I’d like some specific identifier for this series.

Sisko is back from the Prophets, and off on a new mission. He’s assembeled a special team aboard an experimental starship and off we go in search of dead gods.

The book itself is okay. I don’t care much for the new uniforms and don’t understand the current need to give each ship it’s own uniform (Perhaps it’s just because it’s an experimental one, like the Protostar on Prodigy, but it’s still a peeve). Not sure how I feel about Sisko’s return (Even if he is my favorite Captain). And I basically just want to slap the Vulcan. He’s a jerk. I’ll hang on for a few issues though. I’m curious to see where they’re going. Comics often get Star Trek right – sometimes even more so than TV.
 
I also picked up issue 3 of The New Champion of Shazam. I could swear I mentioned this book a few months ago – it’s a Mary Marvel book and it’s been fairly well done. Giving her some intresting character and really delving into her. That’s kind of nice to see considering the “naive little princess” routine DC had been doing with her up until the New 52.
Issue 3 starts off with a funny bit on social media.
 
I liked this. I laughed. Not just at the position it puts Mary in, but also at her flustered response. It’s a good point too – what do we call her? We’ve changed Captian Marvel to just…”Shazam”. Well, actually we kind of changed him to no name at all. But then how do we address Mary, who’s always been “Mary marvel” (The worst code name ever….after Kato that is….) Lady Shazam has a nice ring to it….
 
And then book went full She-Hulk.
 
Once again, the fans are the problem. They’re all critics and trolls and I’m just so tired of it. Fandom is Toxic and if you criticize a gender swap (which neither this nor She-Hulk were, and which NO ONE WAS DOING regarding these characters) then you’re the bad guy of the book. Forget it. I’m done with this title. a shame too because the bits with Darla (and especially the Bunny) have been gold.
 
One of the things I like to tell people is that I was a fan of George R. Martian before it was cool. I’ve never gotten into Game of Thrones, but man, I absolutely devour Wild Cards. I had the trade back in the day and I’ve been absolutely loving the series that Marvel has been publishing. (That’s another one, like Shazam, that I swear I’ve mentioned before but don’t see anywhere on the blog!). We’re up to issue four and I feel like I’m getting a different on-the-ground perspective than I do in the old Epic Graphic Novel or the books. We’re walking through the release of the alien virus, the creation of the mutants and heroes and getting reacquainted with some old friends like Doctor Tachyon and Jetboy and the Sleeper. If you’re a fan of this series from the late 80’s early 90’s, it does the property right. If you are intrigued and just looking for a jumping on point, this series is perfect.
 
Speaking of great jumping on points, there a new Guardians of the Galaxy book out. In a lot of ways, the buzz and momentum for the Guardians has basically ground to a halt, in no small part to both the too-long wait and gap between film entries, and also the news that James Gunn has jumped ship from the MCU over to DC. We may have always understood that Guardians of the Galaxy was always meant to be a trilogy and that Gunn would be bowing out after the third film, but still, this announcement definatley knocks the wind out of Marvels sails. So to generate some interest, they’ve started pushing a one shot holiday special on D+, as well as the new ride at the Disney parks and that makes this the perfect time to release a book that helps to draw you in – especially for a new crop of readers/viewers, who wern’t properly around for the MCU’s Phase two when the original film was released.
 
Guardians of the Galaxy : Cosmic Rweind is named after the ride but it’s really more of a getting to know you story focusing on the movie lineup. No tagalongs like Iron Man or Thor or Venom or Kitty Pryde here… just the core team in a generic battle that’s really just an excuse to visit with the crew. We get each character taking turns doing an interview bit schtick while the flashing back and forth to the fight. It’s fun, and it ‘s charming and it’s a great intro to these characters if you’ve only just heard a bit about them and want to check out the larger world.
 
Over in the Punisher #7 we’ve got Frank facing off with Daredevil which is always a good time. Well at least it SHOULD be a good time. And I mean, those parts of the book are. They really are. The big problem with this story is the flashbacks.
 
I first called them out on this way back in issue #3 The writers here (and there’s three of them listed, so I don’t know who’s contributing what)  have decided to rewrite Frank’s backstory – or at least, reinterpret it . It’s not something I like – this attempt ot make Frank more…evil. More bloodthirsty. It’s distasteful to me. That’s not who the Punisher ever was.  It’s certinally not how he started out, and yet, there we have it back in issue three. A portrayal of a young Frank, already a killer. Already a psychopath.
 
That’s not the Frank Castle I know. And this one they are trying to portray in this issue? I don’t know this guy either.
 
When the series began it’s run, everyone was freaking out about the change of the Skull logo and removing Franks guns and how that would ruin the character LOL! I was largely dismissive of that sort of alarmism. This was never going to be a permenant change, so just treat it as a limited series and if you don’t like it, wait for the next relaunch and #1. It was never anything to really be worried about. 
 
This on the other hand, is EXACTLY what we should have been concerned with.
 
When you make it so that Frank was a psycho BEFORE he went to war, BEFORE his family was killed, then you miss the point. The Punisher is a man pushed too far. It’s a theme we still understood in the 70’s an 80’s. You would still see it in things like the Death Wish films. Even the novel – written by a stauch, proud “bleeding heart” liberal, manages to understand and explore it, despite having an opposite philosophy. In 2022 however, we suffer from a modern sensibility, a belief that we’ve evolved past such things and such highly evolved beings could never be corrupted like this unless they were really damaged from the start. Like I said,  they miss the point and misunderstand the character – especially because in modern America, the very though of a character like this is “problematic”. As such, what is being written here is a vandalization of the character, and I fear it just might do permanent damage.

Need a palate cleanser after that? (I sure did) Deadpool is relaunching again with a story that is extremely okay right up until it kicks in to high gear on the very last page. I’ll be casually keeping an eye on  this one for the time being. And then, just because I can’t stay away, I peeked a look over at She-Hulk #7 this week. All I can say is if you just do MORE OF THIS (and less of everything else the title is doing) you’d have a perfect book.
 
 
Also over at Marvel is that ongoing Spider-man series. Look, I’ll admit I’m not sure how I feel about Spidey on a Goblin glider and the whole working for Norman Osborne is just weird. The kinda murky status quo still honks me off, but here’s a real positive I have to grant. Zeb Wells is REALLY leaning into that supporting cast. He’s building up the rest of the background characters from Black Cat to MJ to Betty Brant and Ned Leeds. he’s got all of these resources and he’s using them to make it feel almost like old times. It’s cool to see.
 
Also like old times, is spending just a bit of time leaving the Hobgoblin a mystery, with misdirect on top of misdirect, leading to a fairly shocking cliffhanger at the end of this book that really left me wanting the next issue RIGHT NOW. That’s some talent there, taking a book that alternately interests and frustrates me but keeps me coming back for more. I feel like I’m back in the Ultimate Spider-Man days again.
 
I also dipped my toe back into Damage Control. The book left me REALLY unimpressed with the first issue, but I wonder if I was judging it to harshly. I’m pretty sure I was expecting something different, but either way, It looks like they really hit their stride now with issue #3.
 
The thing is, while the overall story is fine – throwaway and kind of forgettable, it’s the background gags and visual humor that really make this thing pop.
 
 
Things start off with a story about Thor fighting a giant monster in New Jersey, swings over into an insurance fraud plot, and ends with a kaiju and giant guinea pig. It’s exactly the sort of loony stuff I used to enjoy from titles like Ambush Bug or (1990’s)Slapstick. Seriously, go pick up this book.
 
That’s it for this week. I’m encouraged that I’ve got a couple titles that really have me wanting to come back to them next time. Hope you’ll be here too!
 
 

 

 


Week of 10-25-22

Stargirl is totally gearing up for a spin off. I swear it is. This weeks episode of infinity Inc. part two, resolves the whole story about Jade searching for her brother obsidian. I’m not sure if I’m completely on board with the look they’ve given him sit in here, it’s really just black and smoky… And they’re really leaning in to the idea that he is shadow and that she is light. I literally said to myself “they’re really trying to go for their own version of Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger aren’t they?“. Still, there’s worse directions they could go. The other thing that really amuses me is how the episode kept the shade and stripes he trapped in the Shadowlands for most of the hour. The thing about the Shadowlands… You know how the CW kinda has this thing where you’re constantly seeing “attractive people standing in dark hallways talking about their feelings“? Well that’s basically what the Shadowlands is. It’s the ultimate dark hallway for people to sit and talk about their feelings as their deepest fears and regrets are probed. It amuses me to see The CW double down on this… They’ve practically gone meta with It.

But all around, it was a nice little side quest. This two episode story doesn’t really feed into the whole rest of the seasons whodunnit theme, but rather, as I said, seems to be setting up a spin off series. As Jenny and Todd leaves The asylum – the helix house, Mr. Bones ponder as whether or not he should put together a team of his own, just like Stargirl has. Jade and Obsidian on the other hand, are heading out to find the son of the Sandman. He’s having dreams that for tell the future, and may need help. It’s a heck of a loose end that they’re just dangling there. Series biz. Watch and see if they don’t throw together an infinity Inc. series to be announced next summer or fall (especially since Stargirl has now been cancelled), once the CW And Warner Bros. have shaken out their transition. It may not be on the CW, but I bet it’ll still show up SOMEWHERE (And feature bits of the Stargirl crew too).

I was delighted to see that Star Trek Prodigy was back. I knew it was coming out sometime in late fall or winter, but never had any real indication of when. I’m grateful that there’s actually Star Trek out there that I can watch, and this continues to be the best of all the modern Star Trek series. We see the kids pulling up the Protostar to the nearest star base… Basically a relay station on the edge of the known galaxy. I’m actually kind of delighted to see that the uniforms look pretty correct. They’ve added black to the shoulders, but otherwise it’s the future uniform from all good things, including thesame. com badge. I always liked this look, and the black gives it a bit more of a transitionary look… Like they’re eventually going to be a solid color rather than the TNG style they are evoking. And also confirms that strange and ugly pajama like uniforms the kids are wearing were specific to the protostar. How do we know? Because we get flashbacks to the Protostar’s launch and Janeway sending off Captain Chakotay. It’s good stuff, and I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed these characters as much as I do in this show. it’s not just nostalgia, Chakotay is given an actual role here, and Janeway just feels right in both her admiral role and in the mentor role that we get on the ship.

It’s also great to see the crew back. We get a little bit more information on their races. Even with Dall, we get clues to his identity… Some thing that’s been a minor subplot throughout the whole thing. Of course, it can’t go smoothly… Drednok, the robot bad guy from last season has been hiding his consciousness in the ships computer, and is now ready to emerge. He downloads himself into the star base and wreaks some havoc there, giving us a nice little adventure on the front end. In the b story on the other hand, we have Admiral Janeway on an expedition to figure out what happened to the protostar and find Kote. Well, she doesn’t find him… But she does find The Diviner (our head bad guy) floating in suspended animation. We’ll see what kind of answer if she gets from him in the next episode!

You know, with all of the talk about the television that I watched… There is a show I have neglected to talk about. It’s because I generally catch it late, and because it’s obviously just a bit of a Temporary fill in for Halloween. You may have noticed occasionally that I happen to be an old fan of horror hosts. In Cleveland we had big chuck and little John, but back in the 60s 70s and 80s almost every market had something. Elvira was probably the most well-known, managing to go national for a bit, and in Chicago, there was Svengoolie. Recently our cable package shuffled again, and I discovered that added METV to the lineup. I have been overjoyed to be able to watch Sven again, even thoguh I don’t usually talk abotu it in the blog since it’s mostly a movie show (Though from time to time, I do review the movies he screens!). This year, during spooky season, they’ve expanded his presence, giving him extra blocks of shows like the twilight zone to host, and tagging on a special exploring the hosts history. But the other thing that they’ve done, is added An after show… Sven Tooney. Like the old-fashioned local UHF stations, METV also has kids programming in the morning. It’s a block of cartoons, Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, that sort of thing. It’s hosted by Bill Leff and Toony. Toony is a puppet of a red tuna… And every now and then he’ll pop over to Sven’s show, to harass Svengoolie’s rubber chicken Kerwin. Well apparently last year, when I couldn’t watch the show, they spun Tooney off into his own spoof of Svengoolie show. Sventoonie! Apparently he’s returned this year, with his own parody of Sven’s show where he, his DJ blobby (A blob fish with an electric charge like an eel), and Trevor, a dead video store clerk, do some comedy bits and talk about old public domain movies. They cut the film up so that they can fast forward and summarize it, while still throwing in their own bits. I actually almost enjoy this more than Svengoolie! The thing is, with a horror host, in that two hour block, you get about 15 minutes of the host. The rest is the movie and commercials. That’s still fairly true here, but it’s a half hour show, so 50% or better is dedicated to the hosts and quite frankly that’s what we’re here to watch! It’s a great little thing to sit down and watch at lunchtime on Sundays, and a really nice companion to Sven’s show. Looks like it’s only going to be the six episodes this year, and that’s fine. It would probably grow old fast if it were overexposed all year, but I’ve really been having fun with this, and it’s been the highlight of my week this October.

With that said, Happy Halloween to everyone, and will be back next week, hopefully with some more thoughts on Netflix CGI he-man and the masters of the universe!


Cleveland Comic Book & Nostalgia Festival Fall 2022

“And now, it’s time for you to die!“ I heard the high-pitched voice exclaim from behind me. I creamed my head a little bit and noticed the katana blade at my neck! Two teenage Demon slayer girls had come to take down venom.

I have to say, it was actually the highlight of the Jeff Harper show on Sunday. This one’s not really a cosplay show, but I thought I’d throw on venom anyhow. He’s easy to see through and move around in as I go through long boxes in the large flea market going on at the Westlake double tree. Despite not being a costume show, I usually like to wear something anyhow, because parents bring their kids… And this time around, they were a bunch of middle school age teenagers running around, trying to get the most out of their anime costumes, and it gives the young people something to see. I’ve gotta say, the Harper show is pretty chill about it as well, there are times when it feels like vendors don’t want the cosplayers around, but these guys were all chipper greeting me with a “hey Eddie!“ And I never felt unwanted. Of course, I’m also there’s a shop. That’s really what the Harper shows are all about, and this one in particular you can usually find weird offbeat stuff, like the skyscrapers of Oz manga I scored, or the Star Trek manga that I didn’t even know existed! I found another book that plays with next generation concepts in the style of famous writers who never got to do Star Trek… People like and Rice or Stephen King. All of it proves to be an interesting read… And I finally capped it off buying a stack of buckaroo banzai. I’m still trying and failing to understand and appreciate the appeal of the character in the series. It just doesn’t vibe with me, but maybe the comics will help.

Seriously, I must be out of my mind to try and pack three conventions and one weekend. It’s not the same as hanging out at wasteland or concoction for three days… Different venues, different costumes, different style of conventions, it’s exhausting. But the Harper show is a nice way to ease my way out of the weekend, and I came home with a bunch of really interesting stuff. The Sunday show is literally 10 minutes away from my church, which makes it an easy hop over to the hotel, and definitely worth the extra hour or two spent digging.


Recent Pulls!

 

Did I really miss a whole month of comics? Because it sure seems like it… I had a lot of two issue runs waiting for me when I finally headed to the comic shop to catch up. That’s gonna happen again in the near future I suspect, I tend to get really busy around Halloween and just forget about everything else. Still, I had a pretty free weekend and it seemed like the right time to catch up on television and comic books.

Along with some of my other usual suspects, I actually decided to take a chance on Ms. Marvel and venom. It’s such a weird team up that I kind of had to take a peek. I think about Miss Marvel is it really all depends on who’s writing her. Some people write her as a wide eyed teenager, some people write her as a full grown adult, some people only want to write her as a crusading social justice warrior. You gotta get the right balance with her or else she becomes insufferable. Venom too, he’s not an easy character to write… But he learned some self well to one shot like this, and the book ends up being very solid and entertaining.

Also solid and entertaining our old standards like Iron Man and Elvira. These are good books that are pretty much delivering exactly what I want. Nothing earth shaking, nothing it’s gonna change the world, but engaging and entertaining stories that keep me coming back every month. I do still feel Like I missed something in Iron Man, the way they’re kind of shifting backwards to tell the story from the past to the present is a little confusing, but it’s been good reliable fun with Tony and Roady. Elvira too, a lot of fun as this month she is in nightmare in street, although we get a really strange cameo from the time displacement authority from Loki…. They are just pushing the boundaries of copyright as far as they can aren’t they?

So remember when I was talking about worlds finest last time and mentioning that it felt like they had wrapped their story up in five issues, and suddenly had to put together a filler issue…like a weird epilogue? But that was perhaps why Robin got lost in time? Well, I still stand by that opinion. This story feels very much like a standalone filling issue. It’s Robin trying to make do stuck in the time period that he’s in, but it’s not like we’ve got any real epic quest for survival on his end or a long arduous search for him on the part of our heroes. Robin basically leave them a note etched in stone, and they were able to travel back in time to the correct moment and bring him back.

It’s so anticlimactic that I almost wish they hadn’t bothered at all. Then again, as part of a greater hole, it’s still retains the fun familiar feel that I’ve been getting from worlds finest, and it Times up all the loose ends so that I can now move on to the next story arc.

It’s a Multiverse story, we’ve got basically a Superman like figure on a dying planet sent to our dimension. Superman‘s trying to take care of him, and Batman suspicious. All of this is pretty standard operating procedure.

The thing that I really enjoy about this one though, is it gives us another one of those rare glimpses of just how much fun Robin can be when he’s in the right hands. Indeed Robbins always been fun when paired up with Superman. The fact that he’s kind of Batman‘s light side… Designed a balancing out means that he matches really well with Superman, and I remember very fondly some early Tim Drake adventures with him, as well as really enjoying seeing him team up with Nightwing. These guys aren’t quite as cynical as Bruce and are able to enjoy Superman‘s company in a way that Bruce never could.

Daredevils doing some interesting stuff too. I feel like this title is very slowly ramping up to its story arc, and that’s nice. Issue two still gives us some good daredevil action in New York, and has been butting heads a little bit with the newly elected mayor Luke Cage. It’s good stuff, and really my only complaint is I do still miss the secret identity. I always liked the juxtaposition of Matt Murdock; lawyer, versus daredevil; vigilante. Still, they’re keeping up the intrigue and the almost detective bit, and it works. And then….there’s that moment, when it REALLY works.

I’ve talked a little about what’s going on over in the Punisher. It’s actually right up there with Iron man and Elvira….solid storytelling (Though it still feels more like a gimmicky mini-series rather than a return to any kind of status quo). DD and Frank have always had a complicated relationship with each other. Some writers like to portray them as two sides of the same coin…I’m not sure that I entirely agree with that though.  They really have diffrent aims. Daredevil is out for justice, while The Punisher is out for revenge. THAT’S what really disturbs Matt about him. Not the killing in of itself, but the darker motives.

And that’s why you can see sheer terror on his face when he’s informed that Frank is now in charge of the Hand. I should have seen this coming, but I didn’t and I love that they can still get me once in a while. It’s just a great moment.

Much to my surprise, I’m still sticking with Nightwing.
This has been a really pleasant run, reminding me a lot about all the things I really enjoy with this character. The main thing that has reall appealed to me in this particular run has been the way they are reestablishing the relationship between Dick and Babs. I mentioned noting this in both previous issues of nightwing as well as it also showing up in Batgirls
We get a potentially heavy moment regarding that relationship kind of subverted in this issue, but it provides me a lot of anticipation for what may be coming up in both titles.

 

It’s all so charming and exactly what I want from a Nightwing and Batgirl series. I really hope it grows from there. Good stuff ahead.

Or is it? Because I saw this ad in the back of the book and it really REALLY bothers me….
Maybe we’ll talk about why next week.

 


Week of 9-22-22

I finally did it! I finally got around to catching up on Stargirl! I’m not sure why I dropped off exactly… I know that Maddie wasn’t really interested in watching it much anymore, but honestly, I thought I Was way further behind than this. There were only four episodes left in the Summer School season, and maybe it’s just because we’re at the climax, but wow, did they deliver.

So, where were we? Eclipse it was free, he’d blasted shiv into oblivion, and was now in the process of haunting each of the JSA members. That’s not too big of a problem, because they’re each dealing with her own baggage. Yolanda still has guilt over killing Brainwave Jr, Beth is watching her parents marriage fall apart, and her only solace is the slight contact she’s managed to get with the original Doctor Midnight. Hourman’s hourglass is broken, and for some reason he’s developing a bond with Solomon Grundy… All of this is fertile ground for Eclipso to work in. Nevertheless, they manage to come together to try and defeat a clip so… And the process, Stargirl is blasted away. It’s pretty shocking, considering how close to the end of the series we are… But we discover that what’s happened is she’s been banished to a shadow realm. a sort of purgatory where Eclipso can toy with her and others, to feed off their negative emotions. It turns out, Shiv is also there… As well as Dr. Midnight. With the help of the shade end guidance from Dr. Midnights goggles, Courtney’s parents managed to rescue them, and heading for the final showdown.

It’s really good, really well done. The characters are rich and complex, and current politics, while sneaking in around the edges, are kept to a minimum… Kind of feels like the good old days.

With that finished, it’s time to move from the summer school season into the Frenemies season. I don’t know if this will be a full 22 episode run or another 13… I have to admit, doing the 13 episode runs has really worked for stalker all. It’s giving them just enough time to do what they need without bogging everything down with filler.

If I have any real complaint about the Frenemies season… It’s that they’re building it as a murder mystery, but the title doesn’t feel congruent with it. Frenemies is a very high school kind of term, well this is leaning heavily into the sort of Agatha Christie murder mystery milieu. On the other hand, it makes sense because the beast storyline is an exploration of whether or not villains can really change… Whether they can truly reform and become allies. This is a very superman take. I pointed this out both and superman and early Supergirl… That part of what they want to do is take the bad guys, find them and fix them… Maybe turn them into friends instead of enemies. Courtney’s cut very much from that same sort of mold… Really trying to embrace shiv and incorporate her into the justice society. Of course sports master and his wife have also moved in right next-door to her, complicating things more than a little bit. Artemis also wants a spot on the GSA… And let’s just say, her mother is quite insistent. Hon

She Hulk on the other hand is a whole different story.

I gotta tell you, it almost feels like a chore watching the show now. Like, I don’t want to give up considering how far into the season we are, and I’ve managed to stick it out this far… But the show is just such a disappointment. This week sees Jen at a wedding, and it really reinforces the whole victim complex that she constantly revels in. Everybody’s mean to her, nobody’s nice except for her… Course the fact that she gets raging drunk and then gets into a fight with a super villain… Well that’s not her fault. Titania hit her first right? Of course back in the B storyline, the assistant and the lawyer from last week are taking over her current case… A “mister immortal“ who can’t die… So he gets married to unsuspecting people, then once he’s gotten what he wants financially or if it just starts to go to Dale, he dies, which terminates the marriage contract, and then comes back to life. It’s one of these stories that you could almost watch them going down a checklist. Seriously, it’s custom made… A “men are bad“ story with room to display a conveniently diverse group of ex-wives… And one ex-husband. Everyone’s different ethnicity, and everyone has a different beef… And it’s just so intentionally politically correct that it knocks you right out of the story. If it had been a group of white haired ladies in their late 50s and 60s, it would actually ring more true and feed into the stereotype they’re going for. I’d also be more convinced if they looked similar. Same race, same general figure. And you can’t make them all black… Because that would just mean Mr. Immortal is a racist. But seriously, most guys have a type… Just look at Hugh Hefner.(sorry, but he’s on my mind because of the trashy podcast Holly and Bridget from the girls next-door are doing). That sort of guy who can get just about anybody he wants is going to go for the same type repeatedly. Doesn’t have to be blonde and busty like Hefner, but skinny, fat, African-American, Latino, men… This is not a natural pattern, and again, it’s smacks of a diversity checklist Rather than organic chemistry, and it’s so jarring that it yanks me right out of the story.

Not there’s really much story here to begin with. She hulk shows up at a wedding, gets to complain about how they don’t want her to be Seahawk at the wedding and take attention away from the bride… She feels like everybody’s being mean to her, Gets into a fight,and then goes home. Seriously, I had a bridesmaid like this. We kicked her out of the wedding party. It is true, that most of the people in this episode are portrayed as jerks and pretty bad folks… The problem is, so is Jen. I don’t like Jen… But I’m supposed to be following her and rooting for her. And that’s kind of the root problem with she hulk in general. She’s just written as such a jerk, and that’s not the Seahawk that I know. It’s a shame too, because I like she hulk. The CGI model looks just fine to me, and I can’t wait to see her team up with the fantastic four. But man, this version is just a drag.

It’s no wonder the show is hemorrhaging viewers, and even though I’m sticking with it for the sheer masochistic duty of it, it’s not one I could recommend. Ugh. Just give me more Stargirl instead.

 



Last couple weeks’s pulls

It’s been a busy few weeks, so I’ve fallen behind on stuff like comics and television, but I finally made it back out to the shop to pick up my pull list,  and a couple of things off the shelf. Nevertheless, my stack was significantly smaller than I would’ve expected.

I’d actually forgotten about the Human Target. It’s been a while since the last issue came out… And seeing this on the shelf made me wonder if I had just missed a few months and the series had wrapped up without me? No. It’s still solicits issue seven at the back, so apparently the title was just paused or late. I’ve got a bone to pick though, with calling this tales of the human target. This is not a human target book. This is a justice league international book. That’s a problem. Not just the branding, but dropping a JLI book into this run, because the thing about justice league international was the book was funny. It was at just the right time, right in the middle of the comics boom, and shortly before the implosion… At a perfect time for an experiment. A perfect time for a silly book that could play with superhero tropes and give us something a little more lighthearted. It worked in that context for a while, but as the market shrink, we would see the pendulum swing back towards adventure and playing it straight with Gran morrison’s JLA.

Human target is not a funny series. And when you drop a group like the JLI into a slightly nihilistic deconstruction, it’s just awful. Justice league international when written as a satire is goofy and silly and fun. But when written as a straight up deconstruction, it makes the heroes look sad and incompetent. It’s just not a fun book.

What’s even more frustrating, is that I was warned. I’ve been enjoying human target, with a quibble here or there, a few decisions I wasn’t big on, but for the most part Tom King has just slightly touched these characters bringing them into visit as side characters in the background.They told me Tom King was up to no good, and I should’ve listened. Because this book right here is no good. I don’t know if it was planned as a bunch of back up stories or a companion piece, maybe something to throw in the back of the tree paper back… Dropping it right here in the middle when you’re already late feels like a misstep. It stops everything dead cold, and quite frankly turns me off enough that I’m not so sure I’m interested in continuing the series. Maybe I’ll just take a peek when it’s over.

Ghost Rider on the other hand continues to be good. It’s an interesting supernatural adventure… And one that’s very much in ghost riders wheelhouse. Out in the wastes we called the devils backbone, there is an annual motorcycle race… At the end of the race, you meet the devil. When you meet him, you can ask a question or a boon or something… And it’s just a cool concept well done. We need more of that. It’s interesting, because you look at some of the faces here, Dr. doom, wolverine, a lot of familiar marvel characters and it makes sense to put them in this context, that’s sort of desperation. It’s almost reminiscent of the secret six story arc about the various villains chasing after what basically amounted to a get out of jail free card, only for hell. I like this. It’s one of the better runs of Ghost Rider I’ve ever seen, and I hope they keep the creep and the quality up.

Over at Iron Man I am again a little confused, because it felt like I missed an issue. No, this is actually going back in time a bit. Before the previous issue where Tony’s captured and fighting for his life, we’ve got a rewind to remind ourselves of his relationship with war machine. That’s gonna be important, because war machine someone coming after him, complete with that black stealth suit that we see painted onto the cover. It’s a set up and a pause and again, I have to note that these sort of stories really do killed him I meant about the title, but at least in this case, it’s done well and stays engaging. Unlike that pause in human target, this issue does a good job of setting up where we’re going next.

And then there’s Batgirls. This title is also in the middle of what feels like a bridge story. We’re kind of done with the last arc, and setting up the next one, which gives us a nice excuse to hang out with the Batgirls for shenanigans. And shenanigans it is. Look, one of things I’m really enjoying here is the character development. You know, I dipped in and out of Cassie‘s Batgirl series back in the day. I was particularly interested in the brief “will they or one day“ with Superboy, and shocked by the whole “getting fired“ storyline. There was good stuff here and there on the cruise ship, things that helped us get to know Cassie, but the entire point of her character is that she doesn’t have any character. She’s basically a blank slate, and it’s harder to develop that and draw it out when you’ve just got her paired up with a mentor like Barbara. Pairing her up with Stephanie, I feel like we see so much more character development here in these nine issues than I’ve seen in the past 10 years with the various appearances in and out of her own series.

There’s also some interesting character development going on over in Spider-Man. We’re starting to see some carryover from the past series, particularly in how they’re handling Norman Osborne. It’s interesting, I’ll definitely give you that. There’s so much here that I like, and yet I’m still not sure if it’s enough to balance out the frustration over what I don’t know. This is one of those titles where I find myself more often than not dipping in and out of i’m not consistent with my reading on this one, simply because without enough information, I just don’t feel committed. The JR JR art isn’t helping me any either, but I’ve looked past that before and the colorists really does help prop him up.

Nevertheless, the writer definately has a handle on Peter’s voice. Spidey is always at his best when the writer gets him and his humor, and I think my single favorite moment in this issue is when the Vulture complains about Spidey telling someone he’s a murderer –

“But aren’t you trying to murder me right now?”

Then there’s She Hulk. Not necessarily a comic, but certainly a comic property. The first episode was OK. I think OK is really the operative word, otherwise some things that I didn’t care for. In particular, don’t let your kids watch the after credit sequence. Dropping that F bomb was a little bit shocking and didn’t make any of us particularly happy. The series has of course gotten the majority of his coverage over Jennifer‘s rant about how she does being angry better than Bruce… I don’t need to cover that here, except to say it was a dumb thing to insert. It’s not compelling, if anything it’s a self-inflicted wound. I can blow it off though, because this Jennifer Walters… She’s not a good person. She’s narcissistic self involved and aspires to victimhood. “She Hulk? That name better not stick. I can’t even exist without being a derivative of the Hulk?“ Well no. You can’t. Because that’s exactly what you are… A derivative of the Hulk. That’s what the character always was! It’s stuff like this it just turns me right off and sours the stuff that actually manages to be funny. I think Mecharandom42 on Youtube put it best – “Stop lecturing me about how bad you have it.” I agree. You office and home are WAY nicer than anything I’ve ever had. It’s just…..*sigh*.

And the funny parts? You’ve already seen all of episode one in commercials basically. It’s not untill we get into part two that we really start to get in to the story, but even then, the pity party continues. Jen is hired by a firm developing a new superhuman division. However, they want her because she’s She-hulk. She walks through the halls, bitter and angry; “I’lll never know if they hired me for my skill or just because I’m She-Hulk!”. No, you do know. You ABSOLUTELY were hired because you’re She-Hulk. And it’s gotten you a massive corner office and high salary. Here I’m just hoping that this is a character arc and that she’s a better person on the other end of this, because right now- she LOOKS like She-Hulk, but the character is still utterly unrecognizable. The Jen Walters I know, doesn’t resent being She-Hulk. Big and green actually gives her confidence and makes her feel beautiful and empowered, not….whatever this is.

Disney/Marvel? In the words of Sam Wilson  – “Do better”.

 


Last Week’s Pulls

Let’s face it, it’s just all about Worlds Finest. And I don’t even have a whole lot to say about it. On issue five they still haven’t jumped the shark, it’s still great fun and good adventure. In fact, we pretty well finish up the storyline, with Superman employing some clever tactics, and some good back up by the Doom Patrol. It’s just good. It’s all good.

Well, maybe Robin doesn’t think it’s that good, last issue Supergirl accidentally dropped him in the time vortex, but that’s just collateral damage right?

Nope because even as we finish up the story and close up this chapter, the title for the next issue is all about rescuing Robin all Search for Spock style. It’s weird. It almost feels like an epilogue… albeit at an extended one. Like the story didn’t quite have enough to stretch it out to six issues, so we’re going to tack on this weird little side quest at the end… But I can’t say I mind. I’m really enjoying riding along with all these characters, so give me another issue with us. And then give me 100 more.

It’s not just the characters, it’s the respect that they’re shown. No attempt to deconstruct or moralize, and quite frankly, I’m really enjoying the style of costume as well. Superman needs the red shorts… But they’ve done some really fun stuff with Robin and Supergirl as well. And Batman? Whatever’s drawing this is heavily influenced by Batman 1989. My compliments. You’re doing it right.

I was feeling so optimistic that I actually picked up a copy of dark crisis young justice two.

That was a mistake.

As respectful and straightforward as worlds finest is? Young Justice is the exact opposite. A cynical deconstruction that pokes fun at the original series as hateful and misogynistic and homophobic and whatever other istaphobic adjectives you wanna throw in. Basically, if you like the old one, you’re stupid and probably some sort of a bigot as well, because young justice wasn’t the best ever, our new young social justice… That’s the best ever!l

Here’s the thing, the audience that you’re writing this for? They’re not the ones buying this book. They’re not the ones who have nostalgia from Young Justice… At least not the comic book. Maybe the cartoon. But all this is really doing is driving away the nostalgia baited audience that you presumably marketed this for… And I’m just very disappointed. I’m sure there’s a market for this, I’m sure there’s somebody out there who wants preachy social justice comics, but this ain’t it… And sales numbers are showing it, especially when you compare the sales numbers of these last two books, as well as the last young justice miniseries with the 90s run. Just saying.

I had some criticism of Nightwing last time out, and I still stand by them, but I also stand by the statement I made then that this really does remind me of that first late 90s run of Nightwing. I’m getting real early run Chuck Dixon vibes here… and the books being handled very well. It’s still a continuation of the same story, Nightwings taking down the corrupt police force in the haven, with the aid and research of Barbara Gordon. You know what? That’s half the appeal of this book. Just spending a little bit more time watching Babs and Dick hang out and schmooze. Serious biz, I could go for just a whole book of this. Like lessen her role In Batgirls to strictly mentor and guy in the chair… A.k.a. Oracle, and then change this book to Batgirl and Nightwing, and make it all about Dick and Babs. I would eat that up with a spoon. Seriously, Nightwing and Batgirls is really the best that any of the Batman titles have been for me in a good decade or so.

I thought I’d dip my toe back in over at She-Hulk. I have to admit that this issue is a better intro than the last one I grabbed. We start off with a brawl…but it’s a weird fight. The bad guy is a hulking super strong dude with the mind of a child, and he mistook She-Hulk’s friend Jack of Hearts for a bad guy from a fairy tale…..it was all a misunderstanding that Jen and Jack go chat about at a nearby restaurant.

I have to say – having read a couple of these issues and seeing the commercials for the upcoming TV show – I think I’ve got the feel of this series. It’s not for me. Good to know.  Also good to know that I can skip an issue and so little will happen that I can feel like I haven’t missed a thing. Yeah. Not for me.

What HAS been for me though is New Fantastic Four. It’s still as off the hook as the first issue and I’m just really enjoying this neo classic team up again. We throw Human torch into the mix and now we’ve got a party.

Seriously, this is what I’m reading these books for – it’s a get together with old friends. It’s putting the band back together. It’s just a bunch of old chums hanging out together in the Marvel Universe.One of the things that really strikes me about this series is despite the demonic supernatural nature of this current villians, this take on Ghost Rider is so vastly diffrent from what they’re doing over in his main title. It’s actually a really fun thing to have these two diffrent takes – one horror edged fantasy in the main book, as opposed to a more superhero take over here. It’s really smart.

The other thing I’m enjoying on this book is just how authentic every one is. The author has REALLY captured the voices of each character and what makes them so distinct form each other. The cynicism of this era’s Hulk isn’t easy to get right – he can easily become a downer if you don’t get that balance right – and Spidey? He’s as fun and effervescent as ever!

I’m not sure what brought me back to Iron Man. I mean, I was pretty stoked with last months, but come on. Monkeys. I’d buy a comic featuring Putin if he were fighting monkeys.

This is a very straightforward adventure. It actually reminds me of a conversation between two comic writers, a man and a woman. The man asked her if she’d ever had one of those fantasies about getting on a plane and hijackers taking over.  She was appalled, and pointed out that all she wants to do when she gets on a plane is grab a drink. Get to her seat. maybe take a nap. The man explained, that’s not the point. The point is the plane gets taken over  and YOU are the one to save it! That story resonated with me – it’s a fundamental boy’s adventure fantasy (maybe substitute a plane with the mall….or the local burger joint). Well Iron Man is going back to basics and putting out this exact scenario right at the beginning of the book this month.

The bad guy jumps and Tony pursues….and they find themselves in a wilderness stalking each other. Really digging this. A lot more fun than I expected and they’ve managed to build up enough curiosity on my part that I think I just might be back next month!

 

 

 

 


Early July

What took them three months to release Suicide Squad Blaze part 3? I mean, Rogues as well, but I jumped off that train with part two anyhow. 3 months for these black label titles???? *ugh* This isn’t Image comics you know guys! And everyone keeps trying to tell me the comics industry isn’t broken.

It’s strange too . the title actually got a lot worse in the intrum. I know I keep harping on the Amanda Waller as a villain thing, but they REALLY turned her into a terrible person here – off the charts. The story goes esoteric off the charts and gives the strangest Vertigo title a run for it’s money. It’s one of those things – you can go too freaky, too weird, and too edgy. Blaze revs up and goes right off that cliff.

It’s a beautiful fall though. The art is absolutely gorgeous and inspired. Standing alone it’s some wonderful rendering. But for this thing to fall apart here is a big disappointment to me – especially with me digging the first couple issues.

I’d actually completely forgotten that Batman ’89 was still going. I probably should have just waited for the whole thing to wrap up and grab a trade. I still might, now that it’s all over. a trade would look really nice next to my copy of the actual film adaption (By Jerry Ordway – my favorite Superman artist no less!)

It’s genuinely an interesting take on this universe. I’m not sure I would have been happy with it if this had been the actual third film, but then again – I wonder how much like this a film would have been. I don’t feel as much Burton influence as I think we would have seen had he made it. I also remember not being real thrilled with the racebending on Robin when it was rumored back then, but then again, I was similarly disappointed with the recasting of Two-Face when we ultimately got Batman Forever (which I DO really like). Because this exists as an exercise in theory, I think it becomes far more palatable and it’s been an interesting enough read – with the occasional moments of brilliance.

I also checked in with Daredevil. You may recall me pointing out that Devil’s Reign didn’t quite reestablish the status quo that I really wanted, rather redirecting DD into a whole new globetrotting direction – but before we do, it’s time for one last night out on the town in the big apple, busting heads with Spidey. It’s genuinely good. It’s everything I want this title to be. We’ll see where issue two goes, but this one bit of storytelling sure did make a good deposit of goodwill in the bank.

Over at the Punisher though – my patience is just about wearing out. They are doubling down on this garbage about Frank being a trouble kid and trying to retcon a foreshadowing of the Punisher into his ten year old self and ….UGH! Just read my last review. It’s all there.

There’s some cool stuff here once we get past that bit. It’s particuarly interesting to see Lady Bullseye and her companion show up to do battle with Frank…and we may just be seeing the real turning point here where he turns on the Hand. It sure feels like it, but I’m honestly not sure where this is going. For now I’m still on the ride and just enjoying the pretty pictures.

By the way, is anyone else reading Flashpoint Beyond? I grabbed issue three on impulse and then had to go back and read the rest of it. Perhaps it’s got to do with me recently reading through that amazing Flashpoint special ediditon trade, but I really enjoy this. I find most Batman comics from the last decade or so to just be impenetrable, but this actually works for me. It’s a cool continuation in that universe and actually does these characters some justice. Seriously, give this title a chance and see if you don’t dig it.

Speaking if digging stuff…I finally figured out why this current run of Ghost Rider has got me so hooked.

Quite frankly, it’s Hellblazer. This title is absolutely a new version of Hellblazer – but with more motorcycles and chains. (and not THAT many more chains – John got into some WIERD stuff)

It really occurred to me when I was watching the cop who’s pursuing him do magic. Her partner isn’t into it, so it feels cheeky and alien to him, but it’s that sort of mystical edged horror that we’re really seeing here in Ghost Rider. It gives it a freshness of dark delights that just has me totally hooked. It even spills over onto the other characters in the series. This issue it’s Ghost Rider vs the Circus of Crime. Now these guys are fine – but on the goofy side. very 70’s marvel….

This issue is the Circus of Crime like you’ve NEVER seen them before… and they are TERRIFYING.

Batgirls continues to be delightful. Normally I’d be annoyed that Babs is coming in and taking center stage, taking the focus off of Cass and Steph, but man. She’s just so CUTE with Dick. Like, I barely remember what the actuall misson was. I was just there to watch her and Nightwing flirt.
They don’t skimp on the action, never fear. There’s plenty of jumping and punching and foiled evil, but the way these characters are written is just SO compelling and I haven’t ben THIS into Dick and Babs since the ORIGINAL Birds of Prey when it was running simultaneously with the original run of Nightwing. This stuff is ABSOLUTELY back on form. I can’t believe this is one of my favorite comics going right now but is totally is.

The other title I’ve found myself looking forward too every month is the current relaunch of Archer and Armstrong. The books was always a little cracked, but it’s just complete Lunacy these days and enormous fun. Imagine opening the book to see something like this….


Like I said….just really fun. And that’s a lot of what I’m looking for these days. I know we’re only on issue three of this run so far, but it feels like I’ve gotten way more than three issues of reading out of them. I’ll leave you with this image and check back next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


So much TV! – week of 6/22/22

It’s gonna be a crowded week. I know my wife was just complaing that it’s all summer reruns for her, but for me, everything is firing on all cylinders, full speed ahead.


Superman and Lois is back, and there’s something to be said for a series like this… Where every single episode feels like the penultimate episode. As bizarro world attempts to merge with earth, Superman is down for the count and powerless. It’s up to all of our second string heroes, including Jordan as well as stealing his daughter to protect Smallville. In the meantime, The evil doppelgängers are back, looking for their counterparts and looking to take out Clark while he’s still vulnerable. All of this goes on, Lana finds herself coping not only was just learning the job of being the newly elected mayor, but also dealing with an extinction level superhero crisis and trying to pull the town together in the midst of it.
I gotta say, the thing that keeps coming back to me here, the thing that appeals to me the most about the show is that they genuinely get Superman. Clark feels helpless, worthless because he can’t get out there and save everybody, but Lois remind him that it’s not the powers that make him Superman… And right now the town needs Superman… Someone to rally around someone to give them hope. It’s just brilliant. It shows a true understanding of who Superman is, and what his appeal really is. Superman is an aspirational figure, more than just a hero.
Over in The Flash, I gotta say, I almost feel now like I’m reading comics again. This episode picks up where last week left off, with our new speedster, and her boyfriend who is definitely not the reverse flash. Definitely not. While flash attempts to train her, and iris tries to cope time jumping sickness, the avatars of the different forces show up again, this time very definitely the villains of the piece. I’m enjoying this, because we get a lot of interesting continuity, despite these being very self-contained episodes. We’re getting callbacks we’re getting characters from various stories mingling, it’s very much a comfortable old friend. It’s very much pulp fiction. It’s very much just like reading a comic book… And I think that’sThe Flash achieving its highest and best destiny.
 
Then there’s Miss Marvel… which is nothing like reading a comic book. Last week I mentioned that I was starting to see a pattern, and I think I really have cracked their formula. 85% world building, 15% action. Because that’s really what this is. It’s a very talky 35 minutes or so and 15 minutes of superhero shenanigans. The story is mostly concerned with Kamala getting ready for her brothers wedding… And the wedding itself. The Band playing the wedding by the way? “BROWN Jovi“. I absolutely screamed. I’m not sure if I’m finding it appalling or hilarious… Equal parts both probably.

They frontload the episode with an infodump, that the aunt who the bracelet belonged to, she and a bunch of her friends are actually aliens from another world, and the inspiration for the legend of the djinn. I’ll admit, I like this, it actually gets me back into the mood to watch Wishmaster again. It’s also an interesting take.

The rest of the episode is basically Kamala struggling to decide whether or not she’s going to help them and maybe escape with them or whatever… Kamala is actually the McGuffin of the story! Our alien friends however, aren’t waiting around. They come for her… right in the middle of the wedding reception and chaos ensues.

Do you know what bugs me here? We’re three episodes in and we have yet to see that costume that they were so quick to show off and all of the promotional materials. Honestly, I’m watching this because I want a superhero show, and Disney+, in typical fashion are dragging their feet! Yes, I’m probably gonna follow this all the way through, but it’s incredibly frustrating and there’s a reason why the show had the lowest debut numbers of any marvel show yet. In the words of falcon… Do better. Seriously Disney, do better.

So, does Obi-Wan stick the landing? It’s a really hard question to answer. It does and it doesn’t. I get all the resolution I was looking for and a lot of what I wanted… But it also comes with a lot of stuff that I just don’t care about. You see the problem with stretching this film script out into a six hour mini series, is all the stuff you have to fill-in, and I have said repeatedly, I am certain that Reva is an add-on designed strictly to stretch this thing out to six hours with a B storyline. The thing is, we still need to wrap up that be a storyline… And she takes up half the episode to do it. I feel a little bit like I did back in the day, watching the Phantom Menace. Specifically, watching the finale of the Phantom Menace. I did not care about watching little Anakin Skywalker fly a fighter craft, I didn’t care about the Gungan massacre, all I wanted to do was watch Qui-Gon Jin and Obi-Wan Kenobi fight Darth Maul. Every time they cut away from that fight and the jewel of the fates, I would just roll my eyes and count down the minutes until I can get back to the A storyline… The thing that mattered to me. I felt that a lot in this episode. Reva heads out to Tattooine to murder Luke… And she gets an attack of conscience, flashbacks of Anakin killing younglings… And just can’t. That’s it. That’s all it is. But it takes up at least 20 minutes of this episode, interspersed through what we really want to see… The showdown between Vader and Kenobi.

I almost wonder if they’ve been watching the Orville… Because this episode was full of ship porn, with tons of beauty shots of that huge star destroyer. We get all of the aesthetic from the Empire strikes back that we ever wanted, and if you’re a fan of the Star Wars style spaceships, this is absolutely gonna fill you with glee. Obi wan abandons the refugee ship, and the star destroyer predictively follows him. Vader comes down to the planet and they have at it.

If I have one real criticism of this showdown, it’s that the set just looks so cheap. I mean seriously, it’s planet hell from Star Trek… It’s not even Star Trek next generation, it’s Styrofoam rocks and light painted backgrounds from the original series with some fog thrown in for good measure. It’s just cheap. Even Uncle Owens farm where Reva is hunting Luke feels cheap. Still, a good story and good dialogue can rise you above that. This mostly manages to do that. Not entirely, but mostly. There is some good banter, and considering the way the tide turns and how spectacularly Vader loses the duel, you can almost justifying him saying that he was perhaps, “still a student” the last he met Obi-Wan… But now in a new Hope he considers himself the master. You may even argue, that is perhaps because he has in the interim between this and a new Hope, given up on his hunt for Obi-Wan. He’s finally squashed his feelings and become a true Jedi master… I’m sure there’s 1000 fan explanations for this… Though, it might’ve been nice if they’d give us a proper one.

There is one particular wonderful moment that I think Star Wars really needs to learn from and do more of. Vader is down, but he assures Obi-Wan that his failure with Anakin wasn’t entirely his fault. Vader says “you didn’t kill Anakin, I did.“ This is a brilliant piece of dialogue. Seriously. It’s the sort of ‘member berry that doesn’t just explain nostalgia, but enhances what it’s come before. I’ll give them full marks for this very smart moment. I will also extend a heartfelt F@#$ YOU to everyone who is sharing this photo 12 hours after the episode dropped. I didn’t get to watch it for two days, and all of you ruined what should’ve been a moment for me. This should’ve been a shocking surprise, but it was all over the Internet, and that does piss me off. I didn’t even get a day grace… And it’s one of the reasons I’m getting less and less patient with the Star Wars community.

By the way, this series just hates Luke doesn’t it? Not only is he just background… When we finally do get any of kid Luke, he’s just the McGuffin for the B storyline. Leia gets to be a fully developed character in the center of the action, and Luke is just… Well, throw away. It does seem like they are setting up for season two of the adventures of Obi-Wan and Leia by the way, and I’d really rather they didn’t. Oh I want a second season of Obi-Wan Kenobi… But I’d like to fast forward another five years and see him watching over Luke on tattooine and maybe getting him out of a jam or two as a young teenager. I don’t need any more Leia. Truth be told, the whole meeting and relationship between young Leia and Obi-Wan Kenobi… That feels 100 times more canon breaking to me then this meet up between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader.

So at the end of the day, did it stick the landing? I think it did. But I stand by my opinion that I really would’ve rather of seen this as a 2 to 3 hour film, rather than this mini series… And I needed to see it sooner. 10 years ago, this would’ve done gangbusters. I’d probably even own a copy. On the other hand, the real question is is it good enough for me to ever revisit it? Certainly I’m gonna pull the Prequel recap for my daughter once we finish return of the Jedi… But I don’t know that I really care to sit through six hours of this again. Two hours? Yeah that I might do… Especially with friends at a party. But no, I can’t see me ever coming back to this series… Although of all the Star Wars that’s come out since return of the Jedi… This might be the most likely candidate.
And then, there is The Orville.
The Orville has done an excellent job of really being Star Trek… Copying the aesthetic and the trajectory… And for the first time I wonder and worry if they’ve also swallowed the poison pill of modern Star Trek. The Orville hasn’t been without its social justice and political points… Although it’s generally been fairly evenhanded with them. But with this episode, featuring the election of the Krill… The bad guys, basically religious Klingons, I wonder if they’re getting a little heavy handed with their political commentary. We have an election that changed suddenly… mysteriously… almost overnight! And yet we have the leader who wins being very much A nationalist and an ideologue… All the things they said President Trump was. Of course one could also apply that to current President Biden, who governs every bit as an extremist as they all said Trump would be. The fact that there is suggestions of a stolen election… Or a challenge to it… Like I said. It’s heavy-handed and I’m feeling a little attacked. I actually chatted with us a little bit with one of my friends who does not share my political leanings. He’s not necessarily my opposite or even in the middle, but more of a cynic… and unlike other people who I hear frequently say “I hate all politicians“ and claim to be independent… He actually is. From his viewing, he saw a bit of skewering of both sides… And I’m content to leave it at that. I know my bias. Still, it’s clumsy and really not what I want to watch The Orville for. It’s a shame too, because the episode is gorgeous. The Krill homeworld is shocking how detailed and well realized it is. It’s just gorgeous and a monstrous bit of science-fiction design. Is everything you want from a future alien city.

With the upset of the election, a potential peace treaty with the galactic union is also shot down… Leaving our representatives on planet in peril. It’s a good time to mention that Bruce Boxleitner is guest starring in this episode… Except they’ve buried him under a ton of prosthetics! Still, that voice is unmistakable and as soon as you see the eyes paired with it… I know exactly who I’m looking at. He gets a good performance despite it all and of course, it’s another one of those ways where The Orville really does established sci-fi cred. The new Krill leader by the way, is Seth MacFarlane’s old lover… One who had infiltrated the ship in the previous season… And she’s got a secret! There’s a child… All of this makes the whole situation more complex and politically charged… And in a different political climate, I think I’d be a lot more into this intrigue. This is another one of those series where I’m watching and kind of wondering if they’re gonna stick the landing, or if they are going to stumble into the political Meyer like far too many other shows half. The Orville has until now, been a safe haven for a lot of us political refugees from science fiction… I’m still a fan, but when it comes time to revisit the season… This may be the episode I skip.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


Last Weeks Pulls 6/22/22

I’ll be honest, I have absolutely no interest in DC‘s Dark Crisis or any of the repackaged 5G that they’re trying to roll out here. They’ve largely made the DCU so unrecognizable to me that it’s off-putting and, the stories just aren’t that interesting.

Still, I wanted to check out the Young Justice story they were doing. Young Justice is one of those titles that I really enjoyed back in The day, because it was just… Fun. It was just interesting. Peter David had been getting increasingly spicy and ideological and a little preachy in his writing around that time, and to see him approach Young Justice with straightforward adventure, centered around teen sidekicks that were actually… Well, teens! It was refreshing. One of the strengths of Young Justice is of course the youth of the cast. DC has a tendency to want to age up kid characters as soon as possible, and it always backfires. Tim Drake Robin, Connor Kent’s Superboy, heck even Jonathan Kent’s Superboy… They’re all more interesting when they’re 12 or 14. Once you bump that up to 19, they’re just another cape lost in the crowd. Young Justice leaned into the fact that these kids were kids, and The title was genuinely fun. I know they’re trying to rope us in with nostalgia, but fun was what I was still hoping for.
 
I don’t feel like I got that here. We get classic costumes, and a lot of member berries, but it’s permeated by the general angst of the DC right now. That is perhaps a complicated way of saying this just wasn’t what I wanted from this title are these characters. And these versions of these characters feel strangely out of place when you drop them in next to the 5G characters… The young Justice cast is really from another time… A time that DC has decided it’s best moved past.

Speaking of something else that was nostalgia bait, they released a new issue of New Fantastic Four. That’s that strange 90s team up between Grey Hawk, ghost rider, wolverine and Spider-Man. I don’t know where these gimmicks are coming from …I don’t know who’s green lighting the stuff… But on the other hand, I’m obviously encouraging them because I keep buying it. It’s an interesting revisit to that era… I’ve always wanted to read more Grey Hulk, so this definitely scratches that itch. It’s also a nice demon based story, kind of in line with what we’re seeing in the current ghost rider run. A bunch of people being mind controlled by some demonic thing and attacking everything in sight. Come to think of it, it almost feels a little bit like what we’re seeing in Worlds Finest as well. In any event, it’s an interesting little story, although I almost wish I’d been a one shot. We get a to be continued… And I’m not sure if this is going to have the legs to go multiple issues or to keep my interest that long. We’ll see what happens.
 
A big surprise for me this month was the Perry White book. Much like New FF. I have NO idea who’s idea was to put this out… A collection of stories featuring the editor in chief of the daily planet… with some hijinks involving Jimmy Olsen as well. But you know what, this was delightful. Way more interesting that had any right to be. We got a team up with Wildcat… charmingly titled “old guys talking in bars”, we get some reprints here and there – I’ve only read about Perry’s super cigars, I’ve never actually seen them. Good to see Curt Swan reprinted and to finally experiences classic story upfront. Not sure how they got away with it actually, considering the anti-smoking sentiment we have in 2022!
No, but seriously, the book is just fun. I’m shocked at how much fun I had with this… But perhaps I shouldn’t be. After all, I’ve always said that one of the great strings of the Superman comics is in fact the supporting cast.

Likewise, Worlds Finest also continues to bring the fun, and man this book is getting crowded. Do you know how we were talking about supporting casts? Worlds finest is increasingly supporting cast. It almost feels like that first run of Batman Superman – Public Enemies with Ed McGuinness drawing… Where Superman and Batman are public enemy number one. All sorts of other superheroes crowding in the edges… it’s a very similar take… and it’s good. I actually really enjoy this version of Supergirl, heck, I enjoy both his version of Supergirl AND Robin! They are extremely well done and complement the main characters very well, and have so much fun chemestry.
This issue is still just a beat down issue, we’re in the middle of the devil controlling other superheroes to take down Superman and Batman. There’s a little more to it, but you get the jest… Now go read the book. I’m absolutely buying this in trade when it comes out. This is one of those stories that needs to be collected… Although I must say, the once a month format isn’t bothering me on this nearly as much as it is Spider-Man.

Of course that’s probably because Spider-Man still a convoluted mess and I don’t know what’s going on. There’s a sort of Spidey saves the day resolution for this issue, and another one of those sort of bread crumbs drops… “What’s going on here?“. Black cat swings by to see Mary Jane for some reason and it’s weird, it’s almost like she’s surprised to see the daughter. “Hmmmm. Cute kid.” You know, that’s remarkably cryptic. Impressively so considering it’s simplicity. 
 
Full disclosure. I miss the days when Nightwing was the best kept secret in comics. Chuck Dixon really had interesting directions to take Dick in, and when the comic got popular it felt like it mainstreamed a little bit more. More editorial dictates and control over the direction it went… It was never quite the same. I have to say, this issue feels a lot like the old Nightwing series… I’m really enjoying watching his relationship with Barbara start to takeoff again. This is something that I see them exploring both here and in Batgirls, and I’m really up for it. There’s not an enormus amount of Nightwing shenanigans going on here though… It’s a fairly simple straightforward story. I picked a good issue to try out with a contained narrative. This area of the Haven is seeing increased crime, and the police are using it as a excuse to hassle the locals. Of course the police force anywhere near Gotham is going to be corrupt, and it turns out these guys are using the crimewave as an excuse to step up patrols and triple the amount of cops in the area. They point out, quite correctly actually, that if there’s increased crime in the area, you need a increased police presence… But Nightwing replies, asking if making these kids feel like criminals is gonna make them feel safe…
 
And this is where the problems begin.
 
The thing is, we had a lot of these kind of stories in both Nightwing and the Batman titles back when Nightwing was a new title. However, this sort of thing takes on a different context in 2002 then it did back in 1997. After the better part of a decade with politicians on a certain side of the aisle demonizing cops, saying they’re all bad, saying they’re all bullies, and suggesting that any sort of increase patrols is just racism… seeing it portrayed here, it’s not nearly as palatable. These can’t be read as just caricatures of villains… The writer is trying to make a political statement here. It’s one that bothers me too, because it’s misinformed, and it’s incorrect. When the corrupt police chief says an increased police presence in high crime areas is going to make people safer… He’s right. And the hero tries to suggest that he isn’t. This is how Giuliani cleaned up New York. This is something that a lot of the poor want in their neighborhoods. Something I definitely want in mine.

Now, of course these bad cops take it a step further, hassling kids playing basketball in broad daylight at noon on a Sunday or something…, But I still feel a suggestion that all police activity is harassment, all cops are bad, and that if they just left it all alone, everything will be all right… After all it’s probably the cops causing all the trouble anyhow! It’s a drag too, because I was really liking this book… Until I got smacked in the face with a large baseball bat labeled “the message“.

On the other hand, there’s absolutely no message in Elvira… Other than cleavage is good.
We take a trip to the overlook hotel this time around, although the names have been changed to protect the innocent… From legal action.
I know I keep saying this, but it’s a ridiculously self-aware book. The best part of it being, Jack Torrance keep speaking in Jack Nicholson quotes. There’s a lot of Batman quotes here, along with the occasional “You can’t handle the truth!“ At one point he confronts Elvira with a “did you ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?“ To which she responds “you wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts!“ It’s all insanely glorious. There’s a couple of pokes at Kubrick‘s directing style as well, the use of banner slides to tell you which day it is… That sort of thing, and even an acknowledgment of the recent Dr. Sleep film. But the part that’s truly horrifying is when you see what’s written on Jack’s typewriter instead of “all work and no play makes jack a dull boy“. It’s genuinely good stuff, and we can see by the end of this book, that is leading her into her next film… Alien. Once again, I can’t wait.

The thing that is so charming here is that it’s really the best possible venue for the character. Elvira has always been fundamentally a horror host, so dropping her into these movies… It’s really just an extended version of the things that a lot of posts like Zacharly would do, green screening themselves into the movie. Elvira is taking this to a whole new extreme, but it fits. It gives her a chance to be a character, while still retaining her identity as a host.

If you’re a fan of the current ninja Punisher run, You may want to check out Punisher war journal. It’s a nice self-contained story, but it’s a side quest. Definitely something that they’re doing in another book so that they don’t interrupt the flow of the main story going on in the main book. Or journal still evokes a desire for gunplay, and I have to admit, while this is a Punisher story… It’s a Punisher story largely without firearms. There’s a few, but I have to admit I miss them. Then again, props on them for at least giving us a scene or two of ninjas with guns. I understand cinematicly why you never see them using firearms in the movies, but realistically, just like any good spy I would assume a ninja would use any weapon at his disposal… That includes firearms. I think at the end of the day, this is still gonna go down as just one of those “weird“ periods in the Punisher’s history, much like the mobbed up ponytail storyline, or the Demon Hunter one… Marvel’s just not sure what to do with him right now because he’s a little too politically incorrect, but at the same time a little bit too popular to just rest the character. I’d still prefer all of this is the side quest, and alternate universe whatever sort of thing, but I’m still enjoying the ride a lot more than I expected to, so I’m sticking with this.
 
 
 
 
 

 


Last Weeks Pulls 6-15-22

You’re not alone Gwen. At this point, I kinda hate the sound of your voice too.

I know, I know, I should have known better than to pick up this month’s Spider-Gwen, but man, I REALLY want to like this book. I want to like the concept and the quirkyness and I just DON’T. This arc is just full of low effort copy and paste versions of an already derivative character ….AND it’s going on at the same time they’re doing THE EXACT SAME THING with Miles Morales over in What if!  Gahhh! (and now I’m going to have to build that Iron Gwen armor for Maddie aren’t I?)

On the other hand, I have to say, I noticed something this month in a lot of the flagship titles. They were fun. Good old fashioned adventure.

Cap is a relaunch, but this run of FF and Iron Man have been going for a bit now so that’s one of the real tests. Can you just drop in to see whats going on, and have some fun in a single issue? You sure can. I can see we’re in the middle of a bigger story in FF, but never felt to lost. Yeah, I can see that there’s some interesting relationship stuff going on with Tony and Patsy in Iron Man, and I can roll with it since it doesn’t take away from main feature – Tony in the suit vs a Gorilla. (It’s the Silver Age at DC all over again!)

Over in Cap, it gets a little introspective- trying to set the tone of the series, but it’s all supporting a good old fashioned bad guy beatdown. Bucky/winter Soldier is back at Caps side for some reason, but okay. Cool. You can see they are setting up for something bigger – I don’t know If i’m up for that much bigger ride yet, but this first issue was great.

And hey…I’m behind on Batgirls aren’t I? It’s weird…I don’t know how I missed issue six, but considering it wraps up that first run, I had to grab it before i started up on number six.

This series has been a been a fun ride, built mainly on the strength of our two young Batgirls. Watching Cass and Steph fight together is always a fun  time- there’s a choreography to them, both in action and personality that’s really worked well over these first six issues and now I really want a trade paperback collection.

My only objection is the whole ex-boyfriend drama between babs and the villian. Not even the drama itself as much as how dumb it’s portrayed. Panels like this and the whole “W were never official!” thing….it’s just jr high cringeworthy. This isn’t Friends. You aren’t Ross and Rachel. This is…. *sigh*. It’s a misstep. That’s all. It’s also a perfect example of how Barbara’s best contribution to this dynamic is as mentor and manager, rather than participating directly in adventures.

Still, with that one done, it’s time to move on to issue seven and….wow. Just wow. As much as I was into the style that Jorge Corona was bringing to the series, wow o wow, huge props to Robbie Rodriguez for seriously stepping up the art game on this book. While Corona leaned into the heart and sometimes goofy nature of the ladies,  Rodriguez gives the Batgirls a more flowy look that is highly evocative of early Jae Lee and creates a drama that just flies.

There’s not tons to say about the story. We’ve kept the same writing team and it’s a part one that sets things up with a good adventure, but like I said before, the real reason we’re here is to watch Cass and Steph hang out. It’s just us spending time with some friends and perhaps remembering the better parts about being that age… you know. if you were also a superhero.
Dick Grayson shows up at the end to help Babs infiltrate the Iceberg Lounge (Cass watches them from a roof top lamenting how much fun it would have been if she and Steph could have dressed up too!) and I really can wait to see more of that.

Good pulls this week. The world needs more fun comics.

Then again, maybe it needs some more disturbing ones too. I finally got through most of my Free Comic Book Day Stack, and the one book that really stood out to me was a creepy little book called “Bunny Mask” It’s hard to describe. Bunny mask is a strange entity looking fore sickness, and doling out justice as she sees fit. It’s exactly the sort of book Vertigo would have published and it deserves to be just as big as an indie as it would have been with Vertigo. It’s disturbing and creepy and absolutely beautiful. This one is really my highest recommend. It’s on issue two this month so you don’t have to worry about being to far behind. This is the perfect time to jump on board.

 

 


Week of 6-15-22

The Flash kicks things off right this week, jumping right in showing a race between the flash and another speedster dressed like a ninja. It’s a funny coincidence, considering I spent the weekend watching a bunch of ninja movies…

The black suited speedster in question is Dr Mina, a scientist who seems to have developed a machine that can grant a person artificial super speed. Or is it really artificial speed force? Barry’s taking it upon himself to help train her, but things go sideways when he meets her partner… Ebon Thawn, the Reverse Flash. This is the blonde hair blue eyed version of Thawn, and he’s lost his memory. It’s suspicious enough to send Barry running to check on Tom Kavanaugh‘s reverse flash, still stripped of his power, and cooling his heels in iron heights prison. Together they realize that what Mina has created is a machine that Thawn designed 200 years from now in his own quest for super speed… But it’s not creating artificial speed force. It’s tapping in to the negative speed force. Much like an atom can have a negative charge and a positive charge, Barry is the avatar of the speed force and carries the positive charge. What Mina has discovered is the negative charge of the speed force, and a lightning bolt from her hand can cancel out Barry’s powers.

It’s just a great solid superhero adventure. Mina actually stopped just short of kind of becoming a female reverse flash… And indeed, Barry even says “Central City can always use more heroes“. No it can’t! What it needs is more villains! and I’d love to see her go full Reverse Flash here. When you’re at the eighth season like this, it wouldn’t really be just a gender swap replacement of an existing character, but rather a variant that moves right along in the continuity, not taking away from the already established character. let her be a reverse flash for an episode or two, and maybe even climax it with three reverse flashes after Barry. Either way, you can tell that I’m digging on this episode, because of all the speculation…

Moreover we get not one, but three stingers at the end, it seems that there wasn’t really enough time to dedicate to the b storylines, so they’ve got a cliffhanger us at the end here with glimpses of Cecile and her powers going off the scale, A potential resurrection for killer frost, and new devious plans hatching with the reverse flash. It gets me very excited for what the back end of the season has to offer. You also can never go wrong with a cameo from Ray Palmer. Even if it is just Brandon Routh skypeing in, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Everything that Brandon Routh brought to the table with Clark Kent… All the charm and gawkiness without being… Well, stupid… (The way Christopher Reeve played him) it’s all dialed up to 11 when Routh plays the atom, and it just works so well.

But then we get to Ms Marvel. And see, I don’t understand Disney. They bought Marvel… A company mostly built on superhero adventure franchises. Colorful characters in colorful costumes punching people. Then they proceed to make these Disney+ shows with very few costumes, muted colors, and nearly no action, adventure or punching. I understood there wouldn’t be tons of action in the first episode because we’re basically getting an origin, but the second episode seemed even flatter. It’s Kamala’s got a crush, and somebody’s stealing shoes at the mosque. That’s basically what happens. There’s about 10 minutes of a superhero rescue towards the very end and quite the cliffhanger, but the 40 minutes or so that proceeded… It’s all just people talking. You know, I feel like I’ve said this before… Oh wait, I have. I said it for six weeks with Loki.

Part of me wonders if Marvel just hasn’t gotten The formula right… I mean, the Disney+ shows sure seem to be following a specific structure, but it’s not the right one. In a film, the first act is world building. You get 30 or 40 minutes of that before you move into the second act which is conflict, usually resulting in a big problem or falling out that has to be resolved shortly into the third act just before the climax. It’s a reliable structure, and when you deviate from that, you start feeling like the film is dragging. On a traditional 22 episode network television series, you probably get about 20%-25% of each episode divided world building, maybe a little bit more or less depending on the story, as well as character development all throughout, while never neglecting the action and adventure itself. For all of my talk about how the CW shows really do love their scenes of attractive people talking about their feelings in dimly lit hallways… They still understand that balance, And don’t deprive us of the important punching moments.

And yet every week I hear my friends gushing about “Marvel has done it again!“ And have the newest Disney Marvel show is the best thing ever! And I just don’t get it. I almost wonder if they’re reacting more to that shocking cliffhanger that they do seem to like leaving us with rather than the contents of the absolute self. That would make sense to me, but honestly, it’s not enough to run a series on that alone.

Fortunately, they haven’t forgotten about the action when it comes to making Obi-Wan. The imperial forces are bearing down on the underground railroad base, and it’s basically up to Obi-Wan to buy them time to evacuate… and get Princess Leia to safety.

We finally get some of Reva’s backstory… But it’s no exaggeration when I say literally everybody I knew, whether they were Star Wars fans or not, whether they like the show or not, EVERYONE ABSOLUTELY KNEW  she was going to end up being one of the kids in the Jedi temple and that somehow she would’ve survived the massacre from Revenge of the Sith. Obi-Wan suggests that the reason she’s doing all this is really to able to get close to Vader to kill him… Which is weird, because she’s been serving Vader for a decade or two now, but it’s only now that Obi-Wan’s  dreamy eyes are enough to convincing her to try and kill him? No, I still insist that this character feels very clumsily inserted into the story for purposes of padding out the length to get it to six hours, and to make sure that there’s some sort of diversity first. It’s not even that she’s awful, it’s just that she’s unnecessary. The imperial turncoat that’s been helping Obi-Wan and Leia escape…? The one that will occasionally don her old imperial officer uniform? You could have given Reva’s entire backstory to her and not missed a beat. She could have still headed up to confront Vader this episode and had a far more interesting death. And all the tracking and torture and villainous stuff Reva’s been doing? It’d all be WAY more interesting if that were Vader. I’ve said it before, but it bears reapeating. you have one of the greatest cinematic villians of all time at your disposal. Not just of sci-fi, not just of star wars….ONE OF THE GREATEST VILLIANS IN THE HISTORY OF ALL MOVIES….but you’d rather use Reva.

I can kind of see how Obi-Wan really did start off life as a film script. You can feel the pacing, especially now that we’re fully immersed into the third act, and this thing absolutely would’ve blown our socks off as a three hour film, rather than a six hour miniseries. In fact, I could go for a couple of two-hour Obi-Wan films with these kind of production values. Still, while this probably wasn’t the series best destiny, it’s still been the best of any of the Disney Star Wars that I’ve seen.

With no Superman and Lois this week, we’re rounding things out with the Orville. The thing is, I’ve never been a fan of imaginary stories. I don’t enjoy the stuff like Shore Leave, or the holodeck hijinx of Casino Royale or the Big Goodbye. Still, I’ve gotta admit, Seth MacFarlane is not gonna be able to fully realize his dream of doing a Star Trek series without at least one of these type of stories. He provides us with a sufficient McGuffin, and to his credit, the story actually gives us more of a twilight zone feel to them than a fantasy diversion. It’s an interesting aesthetic, but for me these still always feel like a waste of time.

McFarland also manages to tack on what Harlan Ellison used to refer to as “that dopey utopian bull$#@% that Gene Roddenberry loved” tm. McFarlane puts it in the mouth of the MacGuffin, a highly evolved creature, that’s at least 50,000 years beyond us… more really, since they learned how to manipulate and control their evolution. She suggests that humanity is on the right track, having left behind it’s gods and it’s myths and it’s nations, but when you become as involved as they are, you even move beyond any other identities… Explorer, captain, husband, even man or woman. Now, before people start pointing fingers and triumphantly exclaiming “See! Star Trek was always woke!“ Not only can I just kind of brush it off as one line of dialogue… (And being a student of history, I’ve noticed that every generation seems to think that they’ve evolved past a lot of those traditional concepts and identities… past ideas of God and nation and identity (and then history or reality reassert themselves and we find ourselves drawn back to those traditions). Sure I CAN address that myself, but I don’t actually have to, because in true Star Trek fashion, the show plunges forward to explore the statement further. McFarlane points out that while humans may not be as involved as our McGuffin, we’re old enough that we don’t run experiments on lower life forms the way the McGuffin has just done on us. It’s an interesting statement. It doesn’t necessarily contradict her, but it certainly gives you something to think about… and makes you wonder whether or not the McGuffin’s evolution is truly progressive and positive or not. The crew discusses it over dinner in the mess hall that night at the ship…

McFarland is pushing an atheist view here, that when you die there’s nothing, but that’s something to wrestle with. It’s an idea that we can’t truly wrap our heads around. Even the idea of it just being a formless black void after we die… We still have to be conscious in some way to perceive that… How do you perceive nonexistence? Bortus on the other hand suggests that death is noble. It’s a part of life and it has it hazards on virtue. McFarlane dismisses it as the traditional philosophical idea, but even in the dismissal, we get to listen to the point. Despite all of this, the first officer seems shocked that McFarlane would wish to live forever. He gives a marvelous justification though…

“I want to see what happens.”

I love this. I disagree with the primary tenant that McFarlane really wants to espouse, but he does it smartly – it’s classical liberalism which wants to debate the comcept, talk about it and chew it over and eventually come to a conclusion. It’s a difference between this and any of the modern Star Trek we see on Paramount plus which merely wishes to push it’s message, unquestioned. The Orville maybe stating its own opinion, but more importantly, they want to start the discussion. That’s why a single line can spark so much explanation from me here in this blog. That’s what Star Trek used to do.

Of course, you could justifiably say that I’m over thinking things here. But then again, hasn’t that always been the point of science fiction in general and Star Trek in particular?

See you next week.