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Iron Man

Superheroes vs the Cleveland Pops

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Summer is almost over and this weekend here in my hometown of Elyria there was a free concert by Cleveland Pops.

And a bunch of Superheroes.

The city coordinated the Orchestra’s visit with a local volunteer group called Superheroes to Kids in Ohio who work with kids in hospitals and terminally ill patients. They introduced sets and worked the crowd as the orchestra played selections from superhero films such as Avengers, The Dark Knight and Spider-Man. There was even a Frozen set.

This was a good time, in the middle of the city, surrounded by superheros, with the orchestral score playing in the background and fireworks in the sky. It’s also EXACTLY the sort of thing Elyria needs more of.

Happy Labor Day.

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By the way, even though it’s Labor Day there IS still a new Violent Blue up today!


fourth annual Lake Effect Comic Con

Conman

100_4115We had a good time this year at Lake Effect Comic Con. I really dig this con, not just because it’s a free one, but because it’s a small con that still really pulls out all the stops. A great artist’s alley including my acquaintance from the Pop! Culture Club Marc Sumerak (Marvel writer and former  editor). Chris Yambar (bongo comics), Bob Ingersol (DC editor) and Craig Boldman (Archie) not to mention a bunch of others.

Madeline and I both came in costume, me in my new Iron Man armor and her in her She-Ra costume. We both entered the costume contest, and we both got defeated! Maddie lost to a cute litle girl Jedi and I lost out to the golden age Sandman. The winner in the boys division was the coolest little David Bowie (from Labrynth) that  I have ever seen. Even though we didn’t win, we were both awarded heroclix for participating and that was great. I pulled a Super Nova I didn’t have and Maddie got a Terraix.

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A number of my Heroclix buddies were there as well for the tournament.  Sean spotted me and drug me into the tourney room where I declared “okay, who wants to play me? I better warn you though, I may take up more than one square on the map….”

We spend some time shopping as well, Maddie came away a bit dissapointed because she couldn’t find a Supergirl or Star Sapphire figure. She did however grab two issues of Super Mom signed by the creator Scott Bachmann. I pawed through discount bins and bought about thirty comics ( a LOT of silver age Daredevil and a bunch of X-Men right around and before the X-Cecutioner’s song). We shopped so long we missed the panel on worst kid sidekicks….but that’s okay.

Finally we ended the day with a screening of  A Little Snow Fairy Sugar an adorable little anime which they were showing on the big screen (If I hadn’t had Maddie I would have shown up earlier for Big Trouble in Little China).

Maddie had a nice day, and for this being her first comic con, she did very well. My Iron Man costume really diminished my dexterity – she ended up being my hands, paying people, rifling through boxes and pulling things off tables, not to mention taking photos (okay, some are blurry, but she did a good job for seven years old!) We can’t wait to go back next year! Until then though, there’s new Violent Blue up today!

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Lake Effect Comic Con This Sunday!

Lake-Effect-poster

Just a reminder, Lake Effect Comic-Con is this Sunday. There’s free admission, free movie screenings, a costume contest, comic creators and TONS of sales. I want last year  (https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/lake-effect-comic-con-need-to-update/) and it was a great time, not to mention finding great deals. Maddie will be coming with me this year and it will be her first comic book convention! She’ wearing her She-Ra costume and I’m wearing my new Iron Man costume. Hope to see you there, then back here for new Violent Blue on Monday!

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Free Comic Book Day 2013

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I started my Free Comic Book Day this year at Midnight. Well, actually a little before, 405895_10151573825462278_1154100036_nheading out to Carol and John’s comic shop for the Midnight release party.The midnight party features free comics, specially brewed drinks and food along with sales and costumes. I went to this a couple of years ago with my friends John and Carl, and remembered not liking it, but didn’t quite remember why.

The two and a half hour wait in line may have had something to do with it. I remember it being crowded, but not this crowded….and we were waiting forever. The young lady in the great Doctor Who shirt (Complete with a button that said “come along Pond!”) that I was in line with was getting a little worried that there might not be much left if we ever go in. (By the way, if your reading this, I owe you an apology. I was in a bad mood and didn’t realize we would be out there so long. I should have talked to you more and been friendlier. I was rude to just stand and read my book as much as I did). On Superman_CustomFacebook I joked with folks that we should have headed to the party and played a game of Heroclix while we waited. Seriously, there was enough time to get in a full game while in line. If I do this party again next year, I’m planning something like that. Cards or heroclix or SOMETHING.

Still, we eventually got in and I got my first selections, including the Cleveland edition of Superman. That was one I definitely wanted, especially since we’re celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the character – or trying to at least.

Madeline had ballet the next morning and we weren’t about to let her take off just to trot around town trolling for comic books with Daddy. We suited Lydia up and were batgirlready when Maddie got home at 11. We tossed her costume on, packed a lunch and headed back to Carol and John’s for the costume contests.

Wow.

We had no idea that half of the places we went for Free Comic Book Day would be OUT by the time we got there. Perhaps we need to start earlier, but it also seemed like there were a bunch more people out this year than before.

600745_569131633131264_696461426_n I saw the  line at Carol and Johns and my heart sank a little. It was as long this afternoon as it was at midnight. Ugh. The girls wouldn’t last an hour or two of waiting like that. Still, we were there in time for the costume contest, so the girls got their numbers and headed up. Maddie and Lydia were in different age categories, so they weren’t competing against each other. I think I’ve very glad for that.

To my great delight (and perhaps a little surprise) both of my girls placed. Lydia got third (and lost out to the cutiest set Power Puff girls EVER) while Maddie got second in her division. I couldn’t be happier.

321454_569132826464478_884028288_n 601916_569130963131331_525149132_n941203_569131093131318_799551964_nNext off, we headed out to Parma to swoop down the Polish corridor. B and L comics  was out, however  he had a few ones from last year and older on the counter to try and still have something for people….my girls and I were at the counter making our purchases (we raided the .50 box) and were asking about which free ones he still had and folks were reaching around us to snatch them away before my two little girls could get anything! How rude!

Traffic was bad enough that we skipped Northcoast Nostalga…a shame too, because 128880_457630_60they always have great discount bins – .25 and .35 bins, and I always rummage through those. York was running out, but the girls got some Strawberry Shortcake there and we bought some Trinity (because they had Wonder Woman on the cover). I also got my Uglydoll comic here. This was just the coolest offering the FCBD! The girls loved looking at the statues and figures. York was running out too, so they pulled stacks of old issues from the back and set them up on the free table so everyone could still get something. Very cool guys. On the way to our next stop, I became aware of Maddie talking in the back seat. Not to me….no she was reading on of the strawberry shortcake comics she had just gotten to her sister.

Thank God for Comics are Go! in Sheffield. They still had a decent stock and had save me one of the FCBD  Iron Man 3 heroclix! You guys saved the day. Seriously. Heroclix_New-300x300The girls had been getting a little discouraged. The other thing Comics Are Go! managed to find for me was a copy of the Walking Dead comic for this year. Not one place we went had that one still in stock. In fact, Mike ran into the back  and dug that and a Judge Dread out for me I wouldn’t have gotten these comics otherwise. Then again, that’s one of the things about having a shop you go to regularly. In fact,  I think next year, we may mostly just do Comics Are Go. (Maybe the midnight party at Carol and Johns, but maybe not).

While we were in Comics are Go! Maddie kept looking around at the toys and other 128886_457754_62comics, and she discovered the My Little Pony comic book. She asked me if we could get that one too, and I said yes (like last year, we want to buy something at every stop to do what little we can to support these places). She was also looking at the figures and discovered the Wonder Woman line – A Circe figure and a special agent Diana Prince figure. She brought those up the Scott, the store owner and asked why the boxes said “Wonder Woman” when it didn’t look like Wonder Woman inside. He smiled and explained who the figures were. It was unbearably cute.

Of course we dressed up. Me too. I tried something different this year, my costume was Perry White, with Maddie as She-Ra and Lydia as Batgirl. Funny, Lydia’s always 21305_569069549804139_1496418892_nrefused to wear masks, but this year she came up to me first thing in the morning and asked me to make her a mask for her costume! Rushed in to the basement to find some foam and elastic, but we got it done!

By the time we got home we were all tired and Maddie was eager to tear into the Lego set she won in the costume contest. The girls asked for a Wonder Woman cartoon so I fired up Netflix and turned on the Wonder-Woman centric episodes of Justice League. We played with Legos and plowed through our piles of comics. We didn’t bring home as many this year. The girls had about seven each. I 935666_569131116464649_793281673_nhad about twenty. I know they were a little disappointed by that, but we still had a fun day out and I still had plans for the evening. After all, what better way to end FCBD than with Iron Man 3 at Amherst Cinemas? I still had a dollar left over from comic book shopping and managed to scrape together two more dollars in change (remember the days when you could still hit a movie using the change you found in you couch or car seats?)

I got to the theatre just before the movie was supposed to start. Just in time to see them put the “Sold Out” sign up.

@#$%&!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comics shops running out of comics? Comic movie running out of tickets? I’m beginning to see a theme here. Time to pop in the Scott Pilgrim DVD I borrowed from the Library and try again tomorrow.

I did make it in on Sunday. Probably the best Iron Man movie of all of them, I prefer this director. However, while I liked it better than any of the other Iron Man movies, but I still  think it needed 30% more Tony-in-the-suit. It seems like the entire point of these films is to get tony out of the armor….I get that they are trying to make up for it by throwing in War Machine/ Iron Patriot, but honestly, for a film called “Iron Man” Iron man is actually not in it very much. I think we had more screen time with Tony-in-the-suit in Avengers. And poor Tony, he was getting tossed around worse than Bruce Campbell in an old cabin.

I really like the Iron Patriot suit though. I’ve got a bunch of foam in my attic. Wondering if I could make a suit….I think my cosplay for Lake Effect Comic Con might be Tony with just the arm and leg armor from the escape sequence. We’ll see.

We’ll close  this with some photos from the midnight party and FCBD. Some of these are mine, some are culled from around Facebook. And remember, new Violent Blue is up today!

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FCBD Tomorrow!

Don’t forget, Free Comic Book Day tomorrow! Head out and support you local Comic Book Shop! I’ve already got the girls costumes ready for them!

Made by Samsung DVC

Then that afternoon I’ll be hading down to Amherst Cinemas for Iron Man 3! Remember, Amherst is a $3.00 theatre, leaving me enough to go see Godzilla at the Cedar Lee! (If I don’t head over to Comics are Go for Heroclix that is)

 


Top Five Marvel movie heros

Time for a top five list I think. The glut of comic book movies hasn’t slowed down yet, though the tone is changing (https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/10/29/the-future-of-comic-book-movies/) and I decided to think about who my favorite movie heros were. Not from DC, that’s way to narrow a playing field, even if you include the vertigo stuff. Marvel however, has been pushing out every possible character into this new movie universe of thiers, along with the unprecedented move of making it a definitively shared universe (as opposed to a suggested shared universe suchas the hints we get that movies like Soldier and Prometheus are in the same universe as Blade Runner or the tease in Predator 2 about being in the same universe with Aliens) with the Avengers.

Spider-Man2002PosterI was surprised to find a lot of these favorites would be mirrored by my favorite Marvel characters in general and quality of the films has little to do with it…..

Spider-Man

Specifically the Rami version. There were some problems here, I never liked the idea that every villain had to be related to Spidey somehow and I wasn’t always fond of Tobeys Peter Parker – on the other hand it was a perfect 60’s-70-‘s Peter (i preferred the 80’s – 90’s versions) but he made a perfect Spidey and the suit was the best we’ve seen. Andrew Garfield makes a better Peter, but that’s about all he’s got going for him.

2_midiThe Punisher

No real specific one. People like to drag Dolph Lundgren through the mud about this role and blame him largely for the failure of his Punisher film. I find that completely unfair, and pretty inaccurate. He dis a good job on the character in my opinion, probably a better job that  Ray Stevenson even. Really, I actually like all the actors to play this character equally, though if I had to pick one, it would be Thomas Jane simply because he had a better story to be in…..but that’s another whole blog post.

the avengers movie poster ironman tony stark robert downey jr marvel comics new official 2012Iron Man

This character is one I really enjoy DESPITE the movies. I’m not a fan of these films because there’s so little we see of Iron Man in the suit. I’ve complained endlessly about this elsewhere so i don’t need to rehash it here. On the other hand, Robert Downey Jr. inhabits the role. He’s perfect in it and actually, I think Avengers was this Iron Man’s finest hour. The character looks great on screen, and they consistently get him right. I just wish his solo movies were better.

Daredevil

215px-Daredevil_posterI think i’m one of the only people who actually like this movie. I really do, it’s on par with Tim Burton’s Batman to me. It has a similar feel, definitely a first movie, an introduction without getting mired down in an origin story. There’s a fascinating arch wit the character and they keep the tone dark and dirty as the best Daredevil comics are. Sure you can pan it because it’s an Affleck movie, but really, we don’t see much of him in it. He’s always hidden behind glasses or a mask. He dosen’t ACT like Ben Affleck either, no (well, few) T-Shirts and his attitude is kept in check – it’s actually a performance for a change and not him just playing well, Ben Affleck.

Wolverine

wolverinejackmannew3-thumb-504x800Obvious right? Not so much. If you know me, you know I don’t actually like Wolverine. His appeal baffles me. The key here is Hugh Jackman. Jackman has mad this character accessible to me somehow. He turned him into someone I’m actually interested in and that’s no mean trick, especially considering I didn’t enjoy most of the X-Men movies, in fact I never even bothered with First Class. I still have no love for him in the comics, and really didn’t want to put him on this list. Surely someone like Cap or Nick Fury was more deserving right? But when I come down to it, I found I really do like Jackmans Wolverine more than most other Marvel movie heroes.

Time to get back to work on Violent Blue. You know, I suspect that the characters in the strip would have very different lists  than I do too…..something to think about.


The future of Comic Book movies

So blockbuster season is firmly in  the past. I saw what I was going to see, and successfully avoided Dark Knight (not a nolan fan, I’ll get around to it on DVD). and I’m wondering how much longer this can last.

Don’t get me wrong. Comic Book films aren’t going away. They never have. There have been comic book films pretty much as long as there has been cinema. I have old Captain America serials and Superman movies from the 40 and 50s. I think there were a grand total of five Shadow movies. But as you look over history, you can see certian…eras. Especially in the last few decades. Usually it’s started off by a Superhero film that redefines the genre. Superman did it, and that was really the model for a good chunk of the 80s, until Batman in 1989. That redefined things as gritty, dark and rubber suits if you were going to go with a costume like in Captain America – but you weren’t allowed to show the suits too much. No costume? You just went dark and grindhousey like in the Punisher. Oh and the supporting cast didn’t really have to resemble their comic book counterparts. You can toss Judge Dredd, The Crow, Spawn and Blade in there, probably even X-Men though around that time things began to change. Specifically, Spider-Man changed all of that. Now we were looking more at making the costume as closely resemble the source material as possible, like Cap and the Avengers and Thor and Green Lantern and Hellboy ect….and it also defined the Superhero movie as THE blockbuster event of the summer.

And that’s where we’ve been for a while. In fact, we’ve kind of gone from a comic book movie being an event because it’s so rare, to any other kind of blockbuster being an event because it’s so rare. Remember Independence Day? Mission Impossible (two was my favorite)? Godzilla? How about the original Total Recal or Terminator 2? Demolition Man? We don’t see these movies so much now because the Superhero movie has taken their place. Indeed, one of the reasons The Expendables has been such a big deal is because the 80’s action movie has become nearly extinct.

Which brings me to my point. How long can this last? We’ve been on the superhero blockbuster ride for a decade now and what really has me thinking about this is The Avengers. It seems to me that with the Avengers, the comic book blockbuster has reached critical mass. It’s a brilliant achievement in of itself, and really the epitome of everything Avi Avrad was trying to do when he set Marvel down  the path to making movies (his belief was that film was where Marvel would make it’s money and was the future of the company) in the 90’s.

But where do we go from here? Already the landscape is changing again. The Dark Knight seems to be the new template, judging by the look of The Amazing Spider-Man and Man of Steel. If Superhero film is moving in that direction, then the Avengers is already falling behind. And as DC moves forward to try and duplicate the success from the Avengers, the glut of Superhero movies on the market is only going to get worse, making market fatigue inevitable…and quickining it’s progress.

That’s really my fear. That it becomes so common place it breeds contempt. Without some new innovation, a REAL game changer (not just an tonal change like we got from the Dark Knight) that Hollywood will ride this train into the ground, until Superhero movies become box office poison. 

And here’s the really scary thought to me both as a comic fan and as a comic artist on Violent Blue

Because comics these days are so heavily tied to the movie properties to support them, when the Comic Book movie goes back underground or vanishes completely for a while (like it did in the seventies)…what happens to comic books?


Avengers!

I think the guys over at th PC Repair on Wheels blog may be right.  The Avengers merchandising has gotten a little out of control.

Still, not often I get a post that hits the interests of both Steve and Taylor from Violent Blue huh?


I did finally manage to get out to the Avengers movie this weekend. I loaded up the girls and we hit the local Drive-in. Now if I wanted to be controversial or appear overly intellectual, I could say I didn’t like it. However, that’s not really true. It was a fun movie, and it was everything it promised to be. A big spectical  superhero action flick that finally combines different franchises in a huge mash-up. It was fun.

But that’s where it stops.

In spectical , it lives up to the hype. But there’s really no story there. There’s not much in the way of character development.  It’s just….meh. It’s a mindless action film – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Ahhhnald made a career of that. Stallone isn’t far behind. I don’t object to the movie being a check-your-brain-at-the-door action flick. I object to people saying it’s the greatest film ever. My friend Jim mentioned that it ruined him for all other movies! That’s a GREAT line, but this film doesn’t deserve that kind of praise.

I think I get it. You see, this is the kind of film that most of us have waited our entire lives for. I’m not just taking about pop culture junkies or comic book fanboys either. Anyone who went to see Superman in the theatre and then came home and watched Wonder Woman and Batman on TV and wondered “Why can’t they put all of these guys in the same movie?”(and seriously, was there anyone who’s under forty right now that DIDN’T do that?)…this is the film you’ve been waiting your entire life for (possibly without even knowing it). Even if you grew up and haven’t thought about superheros in twenty or thirty years, a part of you remembers. That part of you is affected and we react on a visceral level.

The cool  thing about all of this is that it’s a good payoff. You get elements from the Iron Man films, the Thor and Cap movies and it almost feels like a reunion. It definitely gets the flavor of each of those franchises right, without short-changing any of them. If anything, I think it’s the best Iron Man movie of all. Joss Whedon understands something that Jon Favreau does NOT. If your going to make a movie about superheros…SHOW THE SUPERHEROS! Iron Man spent probably half of the film in his armor as opposed to the ten minuets he was in the suit cumitivly over the two Iron Man movies. I like that, and didn’t feel shortchanged at all with less Tony and more Iron Man.

I want to say that you just can’t go wrong with Cap, but a history of terrible Cap films obviously proves me wrong. Nevertheless this was a GREAT outing for him. The current handling of him has been really well done and it actually sent chills down my spine when he was diving out of the plane and telling the pilot about Thor “There’s only one God, and he doesn’t dress like that.”. Speaking of Thor, he was used well, and not overused as I feared he might be. looking at the heroclix set, he’s the most powerful piece and I was a little afraid that might be represented too much in the movie. It wasn’t and I’m very happy with that.

I asked my girls what their favorite character in the movie was. Maddie immediately piped up “Silly Hulk! Smashing that bad guy!”. I’m not a huge Hulk fan, at least in the movies. I got to admit this was a great use of him. I was really surprised at how well they managed to use him and make him a more sympathetic character. He probably had the biggest laughs of the entire movie.

All in all, it’s a good movie. It shouldn’t win any awards and I would not consider it a contender for the top five best Superhero films of all time, but it absolutely kept it’s promises and was a true pay off to the other Marvel films. I’ll be looking forward to part two. I bet the guys over at Violent Blue are too.


Since I’m not going out tonight, I thought we’d look back at a game a couple of months ago.

I was really trying for a Mad Scientist/Robot team. The game was 1000 points and each figure needed to be over 100 points. I’m really not used to playing with such high numbers, but it gave me a chance to use some figures I normal hold in reserve. I decieded against using the 300 point Superman, because if Caff over at Get’em comics taught me anything, it’s that Superman is just a target with a great big “Kick Me” sign on his back. I really wanted to try to fit Supergirl in there though. I just couldn’t fit her in – that’s okay, I ended up using her the next time (see the previous Clix Heros post “girly clix”). I threw in all my iron man suits including FCBD War machine (love this piece) and Iron Patriot. My Hulk had really busted some heads a couple of weeks earlier at the sealed tourny  so I wanted to try him again with a Hulk robot. The Lex and Braniac figure had served me well in the past too.

All in all, I though I had a good team going.

Then Aaron busted out his GALACTUS figure.  Remeber wha I said earlier about Superman having a great big “Kick Me” sign on his back? Yeah. It looked like the plan was immediately going to become dogpile on Galactus.

It ended up with me and Jesse really trying to get that last hit in on Galactus. Jesse distracted me by tossing a Juggernaut my way, but I don’t really think it made that much difference, it was roll of the dice. He ended up taking Galactus off the board, but it was still a blast to actually play against the giant.

I kind of wonder though, what the discussion between Lex Luthor and Tony Stark was just before that team up, don’t you? I think it would have gone a little like this:


Heroclix monday

Nice time tonight playing Heroclix with the guys over at Warzone Matrix. I got to play a couple of figures I’ve never used before (a punisher and FCBD War Machine) and ended up pulling one of Aramanth’s strategies where you wait for them to come to you. Kid of like in “Aliens” I found myself holed up in a building and seriously fortified the two entrances. Of course the game ended with the Punisher chasing Quicksilver across the board with a chaingun…(chaingun won)