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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).

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Last week’s pulls (week of 2-9-22)

Of all the titles that DC could put out as black label, Suicide Squad actually makes the most sense. There’s been a lot of times during that original 80’s run where this title crept right up to the edge of mature readers territory… And quite frankly, the first Deadshot miniseries absolutely should’ve been mature. So I was definitely interested when I saw Suicide Squad Blaze.
 
It’s splintered off of the main continuity, doing it’s own thing, and it’s fine, because it’s not really focused on the squad we know.
 
The government has several doses of a new drug called blaze, that will give an ordinary person superpowers… The problem is it also kills them in about three months. However they have a threat that they just can’t handle on their own, so they go through Gen Pop looking for volunteers (That is, after some of the more regular members of the squad flat out refuse). So the story is generally told through the eyes of a lonely loser who stepped up because the girl he loves also volunteered. What does it matter if they’re gonna die in three months?
The mission goes poorly, in grand Suicide Squad tradition and that’s fun. It’s gorgeously drawn in that gritty photocopy style that always appeals to me. Along with our super powered experiments, we still have some familiar faces from the roster. Peacemaker is there because they’re still trying to make this a thing, and tie into the TV show. Harley is there, because she’s kind of become inextricably linked to the Suicide Squad over the years. We’ve also got king shark from the movie…Not quite so dumb as he is in the film, but not the super intelligent plotter that the comics have portrayed him as in the past. He mostly just fights for special privileges, it really just wants to call his Mom. Rounding out the team is Captain Boomerang, a personal favorite. Boomerang’s always been good as the amoral comic relief of the team… And always added an interesting dynamic. In a lot of ways his role is been usurped by Harley, but I’m always happy to see him whenever he shows up. Interesting, they’re drawing him to look a lot like John Simm. (You may remember him as my least favorite version of the master from Doctor Who, but really you should look up some of his other work. His early comedies like Human Traffic are brilliantly cynical in a year 2000 way. Reminds me a bit of Seth Rogen and a touch of Adam Sandler).

Harley for her part is interesting here. This isn’t a typical portrayal for her… In her own books she’s cute and sexy. She’s charming and funny, it’s a little cracked in a slightly homicidal way. In this black label story, they’re not trying to make her pretty. She’s an attractive enough girl at times, but she’s also dangerously insane. Her face contorts into crazed anger, and she’s genuinely a bit frightening. There’s a sociopath edge to her personality that we’re not used to seeing anymore. Gone is the quirky, cute girl Deadpool routine we’ve become so familiar with, replaced by a dangerous psychopath and I got to say… It’s refreshing. This is exactly the sort of character I want to see in Suicide Squad. I’m really happy with this book.
 
I picked up Batgirls number three. It’s actually turned into one of those tiles I look forward to each month now. We’ve got a kid on the street using Scarecrow schtick, fear gas and such. It’s a nice straightforward adventure, and just a fun chance to spend some time and hang out with Steph and Cassie.
 
Steph is one of those characters that can be effortlessly charming in the hands of most writers. She basically writes herself, and you can stick her into a variety of situation and costumes and have her come off well. (Quite frankly, that’s pretty much what they’ve been doing for the last 20 years) but Cassandra is more of a challenge. You need a good writer to really handle her well. She’s largely mute, and very withdrawn, except for her physical prowess. You can basically either turn her into a background character or a tank. That’s about all. I’ve never really connected with Cassie. Oh, there’s been moments… I seem to recall an issue of Cassie’s old Batgirl series where Barbara takes her on a cruise and chance of having to fight bad guys. There’s some good moments there, like when they’re at dinner, or describing how wearing a swimsuit makes her feel uncomfortable because of the way she reads the body language of everyone around her. The almost romance with Superboy peaked my interest and I didn’t go anywhere, and the way Batman fired her at one point did nothing for me. In the past They would try too hard with her when they try at all, like putting her in the classic Batgirl suit (“Look! She tripped on her high heels!” Bleh.), or portray her as quirky, walking around the Outsiders compound naked in front of people because she just didn’t care… None of it lands.
 
That’s actually what’s been so special about this book. Giving Cassie a foil to bounce off of helps develop her and draw out her personality. One of the strangest things to me was a dialog box where they describe Steph as her best friend. And attacking her best friend is obviously going to make her angry… That’s interesting. It’s interesting because I never really looked at Cassandra as someone who even had friends. Maybe Barbara, but she’s more of a mentor. Cassie with that sort of a relationship… The best friend… A typical teenager thing… I like it. It feels like growth.
 
Barbara Gordon is living her best life here too. When they rebooted her as bad girl in the new 52, she felt decidedly younger. I know she’s probably 19-ISH… the way she was in the silver age, but especially once we got to that Batgirl of Burnside thing in the rebirth era, she seriously looked and felt like she was a 16-year-old herself.
 
This Barbara feels more mature. She feels like a 30 something with the age and experience to really mentor these two girls (and I’d love to see that discussion between Babs and Bruce… About setting up basically the girls dorm of the Batman family, and him needing her to mentor them because there’s things that women need other women to teach them.). Barbara really feels like Oracle again here. And I gotta be honest, that was really her best destiny. I know that sounds ghoulish to say that her best, most ultimate form, was the ex superhero, paralyzed and trapped in a wheelchair, but Oracle really did more good with a greater reach and Batgirl ever did. Barbara Gordon had a greater maturity and depth in that era and it just makes her more interesting character rather than just a cute but derivative one. I like that I’m seeing some of that character in depth here, and all these elements together just make this a great book.
 
I had a friend in the Panels Comic Club mention to me that he may wait to get this in the trade… You can do that, but honestly, I don’t know how long this series is gonna last. After watching the untimely demise of the super sons, I’m honestly approaching this personally as a miniseries. If we get more than six issues, I’ll be pleasantly surprised. If we get more than a year, I’ll be shocked. But, as one of the few new comics coming out that I’m really liking, I’m going to hang on and enjoy the ride.
 
Don’t be fooled by the cover of this  next book. Spider-Man (Neither Ben nor Peter) appear in this issue. Issue 88.bey is strictly a side story and I got to admit, I really wish they’d just done a separate issue – kind of the way they did with that Mary Jane and Black Cat story last month. It was just a better way of doing things, even if this team starts to become bigger players in the main title.
 
That’s all I have to say about this issue. I probably would have passed on this thing if I’d realized what it really was.
 
I picked up Secret X-Men on a whim. Mainline Marvel titles like the Avengers books or the X titles I like to dip my toe in every once in a while just to see if there’s anything worth reading. X-Men hasn’t been all that worthwhile for quite a long time now. The X titles are ugly preachy books with some disturbing ideas. It used to be that X-Men was solid superhero storytelling with a subtext about equality. It would bubble to the surface here and there, and frequently they would deal with things in metaphor. The problem is, metaphor isn’t good enough anymore and the current crop of writers have put the subtext in the foreground and frequently forget to write an adventure. You know how I describe large chunks of the CW shows as “attractive-people-standing-around-in-hallways-talking-about-their-feelings“tm? The X-Men comics are all that. And all the talk is very much “Look how diverse we are! Look how gay we are!“ (It’s strange actually, every new mutant created seems to be required to have some LGBT characteristics. Just being a mutant isn’t enough… But then again like I said, these people don’t understand metaphor anymore. Wierd. It’s a statistical unlikelihood and sure fire Darwinian path towards extinction by the way). The X-Men themselves have become full on segregationists living on an island only for mutants. It’s actually almost crossed over into  kind of racist territory… Like I said. These books have gotten ugly.
 
Secret X-Men jumped out at me in large part because of the lineup. It feels a lot like an X-Force variation. I always really enjoyed X-force, perhaps even more than its predecessor New Mutants. They managed to keep the relationships and chemistry very much intact here. One of the real pleasures of reading this book is watching sunspot and cannonball interact. It’s too old best friends just falling right back in the sink… It’s just Roberto and Sam, and it feels very genuine. That’s sort of male relationship where you can let down your guard a little bit and where you just know each other. We need to see more of these kind of friendships.
I like a lot of this team. Boom Boom and Banshee have always sort of been fan favorites and Strong Guy is a really fun character when he’s in the right hands. I’m actually a little disappointed that we don’t get more funny stuff with him, although there’s a bit of a whopper towards the end involving holding breath at a graveyard.
 
I’m also really enjoying these costumes. A lot of the X-Men redesigns have been hit or miss, but as far as this whole uniform looks goes, it’s a great take on it. The artist blends the aesthetic of the classic Xavier uniform with modern elements like the digital X and the more ribbed and leathery textures.
 
More importantly, it’s a genuinely fun book. Bobby is hitting a party and trying to impress people by telling them he’s the leader of the X-Men… But this backfires when Deathbird recruits him because she needs the X-Men’s help. Bobby then recruits a crack team of familiar faces… Mutants who didn’t qualify for membership in the current roster of the X-Men, and off they go on a spacey adventure. It’s good times and it feels like 90s X-Men to me (an era I’m particularly fond of). I’m not sure if I’m gonna stay with this book, but I’m definitely gonna pick up the next issue just to see where this goes.
 
By the way, I’m also sticking with Devil’s Reign. It’s a hard book to review, because it’s really one big six-issue story, but it’s been good. REALLY good. Gimmie a crossover like this with political intrigue, super villians, the Marvel universe heroes, and put Daredevil at the center for a change? Yeah. I’m really liking it. Can’t wait to finish it so I can really digest it and talk about the whole thing.

 


Comicpalooza : a neighborhood comic book crawl

 

It’s been a couple of years since I last hit Comicpalooza… That is, if you don’t count the mini-convention they threw last year (and I don’t). Comicpalooza is basically a couple of comic dealers engaging in massive garage sales just a few blocks apart from each other. A while back, it became a thing and they started coordinating it. What’s really taking it to the next level though, is the addition of comic shops in the area joining in as well as extra residential stops. The fact that there’s no comic book conventions going on right now probably doesn’t hurt any either.

I made my first stop out at my local comic shop, Comics Are Go. I had to run out to pick up my free comic book day summer books anyhow, and the sidewalk sale was on in force. The shop at set up a huge table full of long boxes front and back, all for $.50. In addition to that, Shawn, The founder of Neo Comicon, had set up additional tables and filled them up with just as many pops as you’re likely to see at any convention! There were some boxes of loose toys, pins and patches, and generally fun bric-a-brac. I loaded up on 50 Cent issues here, and was particularly delighted to grab a copy of Ted McKeever‘s plastic forks. I brought it in and pointed it out to Eric, the shop owner. His reply was “I could have put this out as one of those weird, rare titles that nobody knows and nobody will pay attention to. I figured, it was a better idea to put in the 50 Cent bins so someone who really appreciates it would just… discover it.”

Definitely A good way to start the day. I headed from there to the first residential location in Amherst. Turns out, I’m doing the route backwards… At least the opposite order then when I previously going on this comic book crawl. The first stop was hot and I scored in a enormous stack of books, not least of which were some classic gold key stuff. A Lone Ranger, Ripleys Believe It or Not, that kind of stuff. It’s exciting to find these kind of books affordable. I also spent a lot of time padding my pre-crisis JLA. At this point in my life, I’m trying to collect more stuff from that mid 70s early 80s pre-crisis era and Comicpalooza didn’t fail me.

Next stop was only a block away but a much smaller set up, A tent with a few tables of long boxes for a dollar. While I didn’t come away from this one with an armload, I did manage to find some key issues, including the second issue of the Marvel Select Mandrake series. This is a beautifully painted series that keeps Mandrake the Magician in casual clothes while dropping him into modern times. It’s surprisingly compelling and beats any other version I’ve seen of him.

My final stop ended up being another deep dive, with me discovering A ton of Blackhawk – all set during that weird futuristic costume period. I also managed to pull out a little bit more justice league, fills some holes in my Suicide Squad collection and find some oddities. Oddities is a lot of what I ended up looking for. Stuff like the Sledge Hammer comic and fun odds and ends.

It was a good day. I probably walked away with over 100 comic books, just the kind of haul that would be normal for me going to a convention with some good quarter bins. I went broke before I could head out to the comic shop that’s located in the local flea market, but that’s OK, I’m already familiar with their stock and today I was more interested in these collections that I don’t usually get access to. I had a good time digging through those boxes in these guys garages, while chatting about our favorite independent series, and where exactly the industry is going to go next. It was also nice to bump into A couple familiar faces from the convention circuit  that I haven’t seen in a while. 

Definitely a good day, I’m always bragging about how the Cleveland area has such a wonderful comic book culture, but it’s events like these that really remind you just how good we have it out here! Hope your weekend was just as productive

 


Support in the time of plague!

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Man, Monday’s have been quiet lately huh? With no cons, FCBD cancelled and little going on, there hasn’t been a lot to write in this slot. So what have I been doing instead of cons?

96148617_3242198292491238_904961089714782208_nCleveland ConCoction actually did a virtual convention with several panels and musical acts done online. My daughter and I even participated in the virtual costume contest! Not a lot of shopping available there though – I missed being able to bring home a new catnip toy for Sparky.

My local comic shop; Comics Are Go, however has been doing online sales, including virtual dollar bin diving every Sunday night. They’ve been keeping my reading stack full and I’ve redirected a great deal of my convention savings towards those kind of sales, as well as getting take out from the locally owned burger joint, Midway Oh-Boy.

We’ve always advocated shopping small. it’s one of the themes of our anti Wizard World tours and right now is no diffrent. I hope you’re doing the same.

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Halloween Comicfest 2018

events44197871_10156566648277278_8772047484592586752_nLike a mini Free Comic Book Day, but better because there’s candy. And more horror. And it’s freakin’ Halloween!

44944489_10156594177012278_5581272093770645504_nLike FCBD, Carol and John’s comic shop holds an event every year. Anyone in costume can grab one of each of the free books, (and candy) but those not in costume are still welcome to grab three if they like (and candy). There’s also a photo op setup with a giant Pop figure box (and candy), and the shop cat Winston even dons his festive holiday sweater (he guards the candy)! Maddie and I donned this years halloween costumes and headed out. It’s one of my favorite events every year and no one does it as well as Carol and Johns (though my other regular shop; Comics are Go do thier best as well, inviting artists and making a big deal about it as well!). Not every comic shop does Halloween comic fest, so I hope you were all able to get out and find one who does! Here’s our photos from the day!

 


Free Comic Book Day 2018

eventsCoverIt was about 4:30 when the boss poked his head in my office. He said it wasn’t very busy right now and he didn’t expect anybody else to shop today – that I could head out early if 31945578_1919186758125738_829164490422484992_nI wanted to. I grabbed my Iron Man helmet and was out the door like a shot, on my way to Carol and John’s. About 5 o’clock I put down my lawn chairs, set up the TV tray and made myself a nest in line. Just like every year, I looked at the clock and wondered what was I doing? I mean, honestly what am I going to do for the next SEVEN HOURS? Of course, then the next time I checked the clock I was shocked to see it was already 11:30…
There are Free Comic Book Day celebrations to one extent or another all over The United States on the first Saturday every May. Even here in the Cleveland area, Comics Are Go brought in my friend Marc Sumerak from Marvel comics as well as local artist Rick Lozano to sign pieces and sell their work. Imaginary Worlds in Cleveland Heights seems 10to have picked up the baton from York comics, utilizing FCBD as a food drive and offering extra free comics to anyone who brings in canned goods. I always liked this approach, I’m glad to see somebody is still doing it.

Still, the fact is that nobody does Free Comic Book Day like Carol and John’s. The event the night before officially begins around 10 o’clock, but the line starts long before that. I mentioned that I got in around five, and there were already 20 people ahead of me. Card tables had popped up for people to play board games on, Magic tournaments were going on. Cards against humanity was out and in the streets there was dancing. A podcaster set up in the corner and was interviewing avengers as they walked 31898242_1893737123970493_231055518104289280_nby. As the day turned to evening and the skies got darker, Jedi and stormtroopers marched along the road – lightsaber battles took place in the night air. The Ghostbusters arrived, and super heroes were everywhere you looked.

At my nest in line, my friend Mayday was the first to arrive with his lovely bride Pam. We chatted for a while before joining the rest of the Scooby gang at the Red Lantern, two doors down. I grabbed an appetizer with them, and when I got back to my place in line my friend Jen had arrived with pizza for all of us.

When the doors opened at 10, we hit the bar for free beers, thier bottles adorned with artwork reminiscent of this years guest of honor comics legend Jim Sternanko. Across 31946010_10156190699692278_8902142860032212992_ntown, the comic shop had arranged a dinner with him and about 20 guests – my friends Nick and Taylor arrived back at the shop late from that dinner and just a few minutes ahead of Jim himself.

In the meantime we hung out at the art show and I was delighted to see one of the artists had contributed a painting of the Shadow! Stetnanko is famous for is Shadow covers, indeed the one piece of his that I have signed is one of his Shadow illustrations. It made my day to see this homage, and I grabbed a print of it for myself. Before I made it out of the art show, I ran into my buddy Ryan, his wife and new baby… I played peekaboo with the little one, using the visor on the Ironman helmet. While in line in there, a tiny Darth Vader chatted me up, fascinated by my “Bones” Iron Man suit and showing me the lights on his Vader costume. I caught him later, getting into a lightsaber fight with Kylo Ren outside.

9

31945847_814943612025019_5281759499957305344_nI made it back to the nest and gathered everybody up for a group photo over at the Rubber City booth, a little something to remember the night from before it was time to lineup for the free comic giveaway. As we got back, people in giant donut costumes wandered up and offered us tiny cupcakes. We packed up the nest, tossed the chairs in my car and got ready to go through.  It’s always surprising how quickly the night goes, and I’ll be honest – as soon as I’ve gotten out of the comics line I vanish back home because I’m only going to get a few hours sleep before it’s time to do it all again properly on Saturday morning!

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Saturday; the actual Free Comic Book Day, is always a much different kind of event in the evening one. There are  more kids, and they were absolutely enchanted by my Slimer costume. My daughter Maddie came with me, donning her now–too– small Supergirl costume and on the hunt for Pokémon, Simpsons, and DC superhero girls, and of course Marvel zombies once we got into the shop.
I ran into my friend Rhonda while making the rounds, and we all made sure to get our photos in the pop figure box… I wasn’t confident of my ability to get in and out of the box Friday night, and the photos showed up better during the day anyhow. Even in Slimer though, it looked a little tricky – I ended up taking off the costume and setting it inside the box and just taking a photo of that.31924679_1920078671369880_1781156270892384256_n

In the end I only hit three shops this FCBD. C&J’s, Comics are Go (Where they recognized Maddie from the Backyard Zombie Movie series) and Imaginary Worlds. I got all but about three books I wanted. As we headed home, Maddie was digging into her comics, and recommended sparks to me. She was right about how funny the story of two cats in a robotic dog suit was. She also pulled out the Doctor Who book and exclaimed “Dad, isn’t this your favorite Doctor?” Number seven is in fact, not my favorite, but certainly ranks among the top four. She brought home two books specifically for her sister as well, Invader Zim and Street Angel’s Dog. This is really cool to watch ger recommending stories to me and other people. For herself, Maddie found a copy of Supergirl meets Scooby Doo and it blew her mind.

And of course this is really the whole point of Free Comic Book Day – to support the local shops, and get involved in the community. Hope yours was just as amazing.

 


(Re)visiting X-Men

comics

dc expirimentalI think we’ve pretty well established that I am a DC person. I have always been a DC partisan. I think a lot of it has to do with when I really came in to comics – those years in the late 80s especially for a fascinating time for DC where they were dabbling in deconstruction long before it was fashionable. There were new prestige 12990856_1162340130477075_5221927102289294111_nprojects coming out it seemed, every month (books like the ones pictured above)– and I would gaze at them longingly in the ads that sat in the back of my Star Trek and Superman books. These were very hit or miss, but they were daring. Vertigo came around and changed everything, sorting all of that sort of thing into one place, and in some ways it feels like it tamed those tendencies. It’s certainly redirected them.

Still, even within the mainstream titles things felt different – like they were growing up. I saw themes and elements in Superman that I didn’t remember being there in the silver age, Batman was more violent, the JLI bickered and were dysfunctional – it all felt like DC was really trying to focus on writing and storytelling in an era that, as we rode into the 90s, seemed increasingly focused on art over a story – with superstars like McFarlane and Liefield creating a house style at Marvel that would eventually migrate over to Image… But never seemed to affect DC.

13015142_1162340050477083_3546158498580389158_nThe point being – I never read X-Men. Even when I was a young kid, picking up Spiderman and Superman comics, I always avoided X-Men. Something about the pointyness of their costumes always bothered me – it’s a crazy aesthetic peeve, but it’s pervasive in the 80s X books. The shoulders of Colossus costume, Nightcrawlers too– Jean Grey’s mask and wolverines whole outfit… So many points you could cut yourself just by looking at them! There was a exception, I do remember finding a copy of the Asgard wars and really enjoying it… But it was an anomaly. I was still by and large, reading DC comics even 12974426_1162340137143741_6960391579557794471_nwhen this volume fell in my lap. It had the advantage of featuring the New Mutants, which was an idea I really loved. Even though I wasn’t a fan of Marvel and X-Men, I was aware of the distinction between the main team, and the team of students – in fact it would be the gateway for me to enter that universe later on.

Asgard Wars also had the great advantage of introducing me to some of my favorite characters in the X-Men universe – in particular, Kitty’s dragon named Lockheed. Even without knowing much more about him then that particular story, I would be doodling and cartooning him for the next 10 years… Going so far as to have one of my birthday cakes done in the shape of his 13015262_1162340033810418_871404150190795508_ncharacter. Is it wrong that I was far more amused and intrigued by Lockheed then I was by Kitty? It kind of shows my complete disconnect from X-Men as I was growing up.

The other character that I fell in love with in Asgard Wars was Warlock. He is written and drawn in such a fascinating way throughout this entire story – quirky and funny and unpredictable. I would go on to collect tons of New Mutants later on in my life, always looking to recreate some of that same feeling of fun and whimsy that I got when I first read this book. They never quite found his voice again though. I was always disappointed that no one else quite captured how much fun this character could be and I have never loved him as much as I do in this book.

Me feeling dissapointed that Warlock isn't nearly as interesting in any of these as he was in Asgard Wars

Me feeling dissapointed that Warlock isn’t nearly as interesting in any of these as he was in Asgard Wars

Still, other than this I was not reading X-Men. I had a friend back in high school, whose name was Tim – he didn’t read any other comics but X-Men… And he had 13007092_1162340037143751_5833520867548055388_nbeen reading them for probably 10 years or more. He spoke fondly of it and had a real commitment to the series that I just didn’t understand.

It was about this time, the very early 90s, that I finally found myself dabbling. The Jim Lee run had exploded, and the cartoon was right around the corner, paving the way for what is arguably the most recognizable version of these characters since the brown suit Wolverine Claremont Era.

It started, as I mentioned with New Mutants, although at that point they were no longer the New Mutants – so rather it began with X-Force. It wasn’t the first issue, I believe we were somewhere around issue 19… A good jumping on point, as the team 13006501_1162347637142991_1283473157847782540_nchanges its roster a bit, changes its costumes, and attempts to go on without its leader. It was a good time for X-force, Fabian Nicieza was in full effect on the book and the next six months would be a fun story arc that gave you a real sense of continuity and a feel for the direction the book would be taking. The growth of the characters also was appealing to me. They had grown from High School kids into College age people. Sam had really grown into himself, and I was really having fun reading characters like Boomer and Rictor.

In the meantime, the X-Men cartoon was taking the community by storm, making the X-Men more popular than ever – and it was enough to suck me in, and was a very simple sidestep from X Force.

The thing is, the X-Men of this era were very superhero oriented – accessible but 12963590_1162340127143742_1670353489101401937_ncomparatively vapid. Classic villains would show up, but for no other reason than it was time for them to appear in the book. There were spurious tires to classic characters and storylines – even then I was aware of Clarmont epic run – who wasn’t? But this had really mutated into standard superhero soap opera fare. And that’s okay, but it still lacked that special spark that made my friend Tim such a devotees of this series. That’s not to say that there aren’t great points here – this is the series that took me from a mere interest in Rogue to absolutely loving her, it’s the series that brought us Gambit. And then there’s the white issue – this particular story tears me up every single time. Also coming out around this era was thier attempt to launch a new book to fill the New Mutant’s shaped hole that X-Force’s graduation to College age left in the mutant line of comics. The result was Generation X – a book that I absolutely adored. To this day I feel it got Back-Xsabotaged by the hiatus caused when Age of Apocalypse started…but I digress…you can read all about that in a short article over here – https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/in-defense-of-generation-x/

In recent days I’ve noticed a lot of the wonderful Essential volumes dropping in price – I frequently see them for five dollars, although Carol and Johns recently had a sale with them priced as low as three. I’ve been picking these up at conventions a lot, most recently at Great Lakes Comic Con and decided to take some time and really try to explore this classic Era.

What is fascinating is to encounter some of these storylines for the first time – Silver Samurai and the Brood and the Hellfire club, they all fit better in this period… They are introduced organically rather 13001060_1162340040477084_7714194724708277842_nthan the way they feel shoehorned in later on in the series. A lot of those stories I remember from the cartoon, I’m finally experiencing the source material – indeed, I’m coming in right around the time when my favorite little guy Lockheed was introduced! There is a strong continuity here, one of the things that appealed to me so very much about the Superman comics during the Byrne and Ordway Era. It seems like it would be hard to just drop in to this series though, and it’s one of the reasons I think I’ve always found it so inaccessible – it takes a commitment to read the stuff.

There is a better understanding of these characters to be had though, with a lot that I expected as well as some character development perhaps I hadn’t expected. Cyclops, who I generally find insufferable, is far more 12961466_1162340123810409_5544198016137198592_ninteresting in these stories – there is more to him than the stuffed shirt we get so used to in the 90s Era. It’s interesting to see characters like Yukio The Ronin show up here. I know her from the early Phalanx prologue with Storm, it was an issue I originally bored because I thought I saw Jubilee on the cover. You can hardly blame me for making this mistake can you? I mean take a look below at the image of the way Yukio is drawn in this issue compare it to how she is drawn in essentials number four. I’ll chop them up and put them side-by side.

I swear she has de-aged… Honestly, I like the way Paul Smith draws her better – there is more character on her face, she’s not as pretty, but still has that impish Full-of-life attitude and it’s far more evident in her face and body language. I’m looking at that later issue now, and she still looks like Jubilee to me.

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As I read on, it occurs to me to wonder if the success of X-Men during this period is about Claremont or about how well they fit into the 80s. Kitty is a quintessential 80s girl. I’m not even sure what it is about her, she’s not a stereotype but everything about her screams 1980s – her posture, the body of her hair (no Aqua net, not high owolverinejackmannew3-thumb-504x800r teased or anything like that, just the body and shape), The way she carries herself, her drive and her attitude – the same is very true of Jubilee, who is a quintessential 90s slacker girl. The problem with these characters however is that they root themselves or the stories and the team in that particular time frame. Still, they work so well in that time frame. More then any other era, Wolverine’s cowboy hat looks right at home here, cyclops is large glasses work better here, The technology juxtaposes better against the warm wood furnishings of the 80s mansion and it feels more fantastic… a period before high-technology became commonplace in our lives.

These days it seems like X-Men bounces between trying to be relevant, and trying to be familiar to those who have only seen the films. There are still fun periods, in particular I was enjoying the run about eight years ago where things have kind of reverted to a simpler adventure format – coming out of the Grant Morrison run. It was fun, and simpler and we were seeing the best elements of the best costumes rolled into modern interpretations.

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Today, it seems we have gone in the other direction – that continuity that I spoke 13010797_1162357293808692_3447845574088106483_nof earlier? Today it’s wound so tightly across the titles in the series, that much like the avengers books, it becomes insular and difficult to drop in and out of. Over the years, we’ve picked up so many different characters along the way that it feels like they need to shoehorn them all into the series at some point or another as well focusing on a cohesive team that works well together and has chemistry. It’s hard for me to get into the X-Men comics of today.

Perhaps that’s why I’m looking to the past.


Pop Meeting 113 Show and Tell

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These really tend to be some of the most interesting meetings where you can see some amazing things you might never ever have known existed. (like this Aquaman collection from one of the club’s founders, Jason Fitch)

Join us tonight at the Parma Heights Library at 6:30!


Pop Meeting 112 Comic Book creators

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Think of it as Mt. Rushmore. If there were a monument of the great comic book creators, whose faces would be on it? Gerry Conway? Denny O’Neil? Allen Bellman? (Mike Barr, definately)

Join us tonight at the Parma Heights Library at 6:30!


Pop Meeting 111 Star Wars

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With the new movie right around the corner, it seems like a perfect time to discuss Star Wars!

Join us tonight at the Parma Heights Library at 6:30!

Hey, does anyone else remember the time Mazinger Z fought off those two Jedi or did I just imagine that?

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Pop Meeting 110 How a comic is made

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 From concept to page and, if we’re lucky,some exciting insider tricks, tips and tantalizing tales from our own Marc Sumerak and Mike Barr! Indeed, the very first time I saw Marc was at Akron Comicon and he was giving a panal much like this on how a comic book is created, and it was simply fascinating. Trust me when I tell you, this is something you will not want to miss.

Join us tonight at the Parma Heights Library at 6:30!

309456_255196794524751_1414576572_n(Because let’s face it…just because I do Violent Blue and Kreepy Kastle Comics, doesn’t man I have a clue as to what I’m doing…..)

 


Pop Meeting 109 Street Level Heros

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Working from the shadows and alleys of the city streets, these are the blue collar crime fighters who save the day from evil’s embrace. I happen to be a big Daredevil fan from way back and of course everyone knows the Punisher.

Join us tonight at the Parma Heights Library at 6:30!


Pop Meeting 108

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Let’s face it- you guys already know I really like villians. This weeks it’s all about the bad guys.

Join us tonight at the Parma Heights Library at 6:30! (Death ray optional)

 

 


Pop Meeting 107

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Beyond the pages of comics books there is a whole world of cool collectibles and toys to entice our wallets and fill our houses.

Join us tonight at the Parma Heights Library at 6:30!


Pop Meeting 106

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This week, it’s all about Animation!

Join us tonight at the Parma Heights Library at 6:30!


Pop Meeting 105

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We take a break from the tights and capes as we explore the science fiction elements and not quite human characters of our favorite books.

Join us tonight at the Parma Heights Library at 6:30!


Pop and women in comics

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With so many great female characters and so many amazing women creators in the industry, it’s only right to celebrate their might! join us at 6:30 in parma!

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Pop- continuity shifts

After two meetings of riding the twists, turns, rearranging, shuffling, rebooting and retro-streamlining of our favorite companies and characters, we thought it would be a good time for some healing as we discuss the importance and relevance of the ever changing continuity of comics. Head on out to parma at 6:30 for a talk about continuity in comics!

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Lake Effect comicon this weekend!

lke effect

I love this con! movie screenings, creators, heroclix tournaments, and admission is free! you’ll find the best deals here and really, it’s always a great time! I’ll have the girls with me (They both got new costumes and I have to recycle my old Spider-Ham outfit. Somehow I don’t think that’s fair) so if you see us, tap me on the shoulder and say hi!

Lake Effect Schedule of Events

  • 7:00 – Dealer Setup Begins
  • 10:00 – Show opens for general admission
  • 10:30 – Scott Pilgrim movie begins
  • 11:00 – Door Prize
  • 12:00 – Door Prize
  • 12:30 – Panel One begins – Small Press discussion
  • 1:00 – Door Prize
  • 1:15 – Panel Two begins – Original Comic Art discussion
  • 2:00 – Door Prize
  • 2:15 – Costume Contest
  • 2:30 – Panel Three begins – Cosplay discussion
  • 3:00 – Door Prize
  • 3:15 – Sherlock Holmes Smarter Brother movie begins
  • 4:00 – Door Prize
  • 5:00 – Show closes

Lake Effect 2015

 

 


Crossovers at Pop!

swWow! 100 meetings! With Marvel’s “Secret War” looming over us, this is the right time to delve into our favorite crossovers, both between different companies and in house. Join the west side meeting in Parma at 6:30!

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popWhile everyone has a favorite “Elseworlds” or “What If…?” story, this will also be the perfect time to discuss the current DC Convergence at this weeks west side  Pop meeting in Parma!

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He-Man : the Sunbird Legacy

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This is an old one. I remember this being at school so I probably got it from the christmas shop at school, but I’m not sure.

This could possibly be the first graphic novel I ever got – It’s far more comic book than any of the other Golden books of the era. Interestingly enough, while this defiantely was written during the period that the cartoon was on, the imagry is strictly that of the toys. It still features characters lik the Socreress, and Prince Adam, looking a bit liek the cartoon, but King Randor looks far older and more regal. Many of the Golden books began to look more and more like the cartoon, they took great pains to replicate the look of the toys with this one. Teela is in her images2snake armor. Man At Arms is clean shaven, no moustache. Evil Lyn is bright yellow and she even turns into Screech – a character I don’t ever remember seeing in the cartoon.

The plot revolves around an ancient artifact that looks like a cross between images3a totem pole and a nuclear missile. It was disassembled and scattered across Eternia and it’s a race against the bad guys to reach it first.

Most He-Man fare from this era is very kid oriented, sometimes even silly ( the Marvel/Star comics immediately comes to mind). There’s some more serious mini comics in the first wave or two but after the cartoon defined the character the tone of the stories got a lot more watered down. This is surprisingly violent for the time period and for something so close to the cartoon. It’s refreshing actually, and one of the best stories from the time oeriod. I don’t see this getting reprinted any time soon, but you can frequently find these on eBay and I highly recommend picking this volume up.

 


This Weekend!

fooddrive2014THIS WEEKEND!

I’ll be heading out around 9pm to Carol and John’s comic shop for the annual Christmas party. If you want to pop in earlier that day though, starting right at 10am the following sales take place:

50% off ALL Back Issues
20% off ALL Graphic Novels
20% off ALL Action Figures, T-Shirts and Statues
10% off EVERYTHING else in the shop

but more importantly, All day long you will be able to participate in our art show / food drive for the Cleveland Food Bank (In conjunction with Pop The Comic Culture Club)

Bring in a can of food and get a ticket. (or) Donate a dollar and get a ticket. (They also do six tickets for $5) Tickets can be used in two ways. To buy comics out of the dollar bins or to be placed into a basket raffle to win custom covers by local artists including me. I’ve done up two covers and I would like nothing better than for one of my readers to walk away with one of them!

After the party, my daughter and I will be hopping over to White Castle at 3255 W. 117th St for our final trip there. They are closing down all the ones in Cleveland and while it’s not a particular favortie, i’ll still kind of missit (I always went when I had coupons).

Finally, we’ll be heading out to the Capitol Theatre for the midnight showing of Batman Returns, a great Christmas movie in it’s own right!

If you catch me at any of these stops, tap me on the shoulder and say hi! I hope to see as many of my Cleveland area readers there as I can!

And don’t forget to join us on Monday for the last new Violent Blue of the year!


Lawn-Con 2014

Conman

Finally! I’ve been wanting to make it out to Lawn-Con for three years, but it always fell the Saturday of Wasteland…and I’m not missing Wasteland. This year however, Chris Yambar moved it to Sunday to avoid a scheduling conflict with another show, so I did the unthinkable and crammed two cons into a single weekend.10351002_840455722665519_8204665829786687211_n

10703562_840451975999227_1597159163234946952_nThe venue was beautiful at the old B&O Railway station. I love these kind of places and they decorated it beautifully inside. a sort of tent town popped up outside of it with vendors and wares, along with a wrestling ring.  I believe the art show going on inside was separate but I’m actually not sure. Either way, they complemented each other and made for a great symbiosis.

I took the girls with me to this one, I’ve always heard it’s very kid friendly and wasn’t disappointed. They each got a book to take home and were fascinated by the art. They loved all the people in costume and for the very first time  they got to see a wresteling show.

In addidtion to the wrestling, there were bands outside and inside. I weas really enjoying the acoustic duo as we wandered the station and only caught the tail end of one of the bands outside.

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The real treat on stage however was Jason Delfosse doing side show antics. My daughters were fascinated and transfixed as he lifted a boat anchor with a chain attached to his tongue and walked up aladder made of machates, or ate fire and jumped bare foot into broken glass.

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We all entered the costume contest and the girls were adorable. I think I like Maddie better in that Supergirl outfit, but Lydia puts her own spin on it. I actually heard one of the judges complement her choice in boots. Maddie’s Poison Ivy was a great unique choice as always.

I went up and stood next to Iron Man (who I met back at All Americon) along with my friends Riley, Stephanie and Josh. There were some stunning costumes up there . The dragon still wows me, and that Batman Beyond just looked sick. I looked down and noticed that part of my foot had broken off – I’d been shedding bits and pieces of Groot all day. That’s a rough costume to wear.1920577_840511529326605_7914649208502742619_n

Imagine my shock when I won first place. My jaw dropped. I never get first. I’m still feeling a bit gleeful.

We ended the day with some shopping. Maddie was in the Yambar booth and I suddenly heard her scream “JEANNIE!” I couldn’t believe it. She found I dream of Jeannie comics which Chris was gracious enough to sign.

This is a really fun show and I hope to get back to it again. If it stays on Sunday we definitely will, but I suspect that was an aberration. In any event we were stoked to get out there this time and recommend anyone who can make it check this show out!

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