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.
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 2-22-22
Could whoever is running the control board over at Superman and Lois turn down the “soap opera“ dial a few notches please?
He was there when Marvel was still Timely
Nomad is really kind of a guilty pleasure. He’s quintessentially 90’s with the long hair, the gun and sometimes-trenchcoat. Paste this persona on a pre-existing character with ties to Cap so he has some history and volia! We have a winner!
There isn’t much more to this than what it appears. Biker hero with a gun and stun discs who spends half the run taking care of a baby (nice twist). If you ever watched the syndicated TV show “Renegade” around the same time, you get the picture.
These aren’t bad stories. I pick them up when ever I see them in a dump bin. It’s fun reading from an era I remember fondly, but don’t go into it expecting any depth.
The Muppet Show
One of the initial offerings from Boom! Comics, this comic really captured everything about the show that made it great. It didn’t ignore subsequent generations of Muppets (the way the more recent Disney films have) but it focused on the familiar, set it back at the theatre and really pushed to recreate the sense of fun and friends that we had wit the Muppets.
Boom really took advantage of this license, putting out side projects like Muppet King Arthur or Sherlock Homes alongside of the core title. They obviously got the characters and had great love of the source material.
Then Disney bought Marvel.
The Disney Licenses were yanked from Boom! which would have made sense…except neither Disney nor Marvel did anything with them. I would have understood if Disney was to start releasing it’s own muppet comics, but the closes they ever came to that was reprinting THESE stories in tabloid size editions.
If you’re a fan of the Muppets, hunt these down. They collected some into tades and those Disney collections are still around here and there. This is the best the Muppets have looked since the original TV show.
Spider-Man loves Mary Jane
I first discovered this at a Target in a tabloid edition. It was the first mini series (four issues) and cost about $5.00. I grabbed it thinking it was Spidey related and I’d save it for my daughters.
I never expected to get hooked.
See, Mary Jane is a tough sell for me. She’s far too often superficial, vacuous. Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of her in the Raimi movies is a perfect example. I hate her. I know it’s the Nerd-gets-the-girl cliché, but I just can’t stand her.
This series takes a different approach. It’s the Spidey universe through the eyes of a High School MJ. She still lapses into superficiality sometimes but you can see there’s more there and it’s a really great look at the Spider-Man story from a different angle.
The characters are all there, Flash is still a jerk, Harry is a bit of an amalagam of the comics and the movies (which, to be fair, NEEDED to happen) and Peter Parker is a bit more a nerd than usual. Makes sense from MJ’s POV. Liz is actually a lot spunkier than I recall and Gwen Stacy is portrayed as a bit of a spaz. The differences work though and somehow, Sean McKeever REALLY pulls it all together in this engaging package that I just couldn’t put down, finding myself eagerly awaiting the next month’s issue.
The initial four-issue miniseries, Mary Jane, originally intended as an ongoing series, began publication in June 2004 under the Marvel Age imprint, a line of comic books by Marvel Comics aimed at younger readers. a second four-issue miniseries, Mary Jane: Homecoming, which began publication in March 2005. Unlike the first series, Homecoming was not published under the Marvel Age imprint, but as a regular Marvel Comics title, because Marvel Age had by then been restructured into the Marvel Adventures imprint. a second four-issue miniseries, Mary Jane: Homecoming, which began publication in March 2005. Unlike the first series, Homecoming was not published under the Marvel Age imprint, but as a regular Marvel Comics title, because Marvel Age had by then been restructured into the Marvel Adventures imprint.
Unfortunately the series ended with issue #20 when McKeever left for an exclusive DC contract. An attempt was made to revive it but it never felt the same. The last series was cancelled after five issues. I jumped ship after two. A real drag for me as well, because for two years this WAS my Spider-Man title. It was the only one I was getting. Better than anything going on in the flagship title.
Still you can find the first and second series in digest form and I really recommend them. I’ve even see the first one at the Library in the Manga section. You may want to check it out first before deciding if you want to commit to hunting down the last twenty issues of that third series…(but trust me…you do!)
The Marvelous Adventures of Gus Beezer
I always liked this title but it suffers far too much from comparison to Calvin and Hobbes. This isn’t Calvin and Hobbes, it lacks the satirical wit that was aimed at adults. This is far more kid driven – but it’s GOOD kid driven.
Gus is a little boy with an active imagination who loves comic books and superheros- of course t he big difference is that he lives in the Marvel universe where there actually ARE superheros!
He sometimes lets his imagination get away from him and it begins to intrude on his real life…playing with his sisters jump rope and pretending she’s the lizard…
It was a fine series and was reprinted in tabloid size under the Marvel Adventures banner to be sold in Targets but never went any further than it’s original four issue run. You may find some of these still floating around. It’s worth it just to see his tirade at J. Jonah Jameson over his Spider-man editorials…..
These days, I tend to gravitate far more to film than I do to TV. I just don’t watch that much anymore. Some of that has to do with the serialized nature of modern television as opposed to the stand-alone episodic format I grew up with. Having to sit down at the same time every week is difficult for me.
That may have been one of the reason Agents of SHIELD was such a challenge for me. I wasn’t invested and quite frankly, I kept forgetting that it was on, although I’d stop and watch it if I happened to find it while flipping channels if it was near the beginning.
I’ve been aware of the hype behind Agent Carter but wasn’t really planning on watching it. It seemed like more of the same, and my attitude was the similar, that I would probably watch it if I happened across it while flipping channels.
Amazingly, that’s exactly what happened.
I really like that this has such a firm connection to Captain America : the first Avenger. I remember spending a lot of the early day in SHIELD expecting it to feel more like a spin off of the Avengers, but it never really managed to feel like a proper sequel. In this show however, we see carter browsing that Steve rogers file that was shown at the end of the first Cap movie, and we even get a flashback to it. This is exactly the kind of payoff I wanted and it makes it feel very connected.
I love Howard Stark in this. I really wish we’d see more of him, but I suspect that’s not going to happen and that’s a shame really, even a mentor part – a bookend to the episodes would really work well for me. It’s my hope that if this series goes somewhere that he will become a regular member of the cast after his name is cleared.
There are nice touches here. I happen to love this era and I’m really focusing on that. Throughout the episode we hear bits of a Captain America radio play which is another one of those great ties to the character, not to mention being a good juxtaposition between the perception of the agent – the Myth and the actual person. It’s not subtle by any means, but it fits, rather than the forced way Agents of SHIELD used to try and shoehorn a reference to “Gamma Radiation” or “Stark Industries” in every episode. Indeed, a lot of Agent Carter works in great part I thin, because the producers have better learned how to put a show like this together, and have a better feel for what the fans want, and how to tie it to the cinematic universe while grounding it for a broader audience.
If you like Agents of SHIELD, then It’s safe to say you’ll like this. They are both very much the same genre, while each having their own distinct personality and it’s interesting to see that Marvel is really developing their own sub-genres here, their own CSI franchise if you will. While Agents of SHIELD wasn’t my thing, I do believe I will probably follow this one all the way to the end. The fact that there is an end helps for me, and I can more easily make a commitment to seven episodes than I can to 22 and beyond.
He-Man : the Sunbird Legacy
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 snake 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 a 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.
Superheroes vs the Cleveland Pops
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.
By the way, even though it’s Labor Day there IS still a new Violent Blue up today!
Captian America : The Winter Soldier
I finally got around to seeing Captain America this weekend. I know I’m lat to this party, but you know me, I don’t visit movie theaters that are less than 70 years old. The Lorain Palace was showing it in 3d for 5.00 (as opposed to a 2d matinée at a normal theatre for 7.50 at least).
Here’s the thing. The Winter Soldier isn’t a superhero movie. Sure they try to fool you with some big set pieces in the beginning and the end, but make no mistake, this is not a superhero movie. It’s a political thriller – and really, that’s exactly what you would expect from Robert Redford in this role. With SHIELD infiltrated by Hydra, there’s far more intrigue than simple action here. I almost wonder if it’s too elevated for the subject matter.
I was really complementary about the first Cap film. I stand by my opinion that it was the best Superhero film I’d seen in a good decade. I revisited it recently and found it’s not as rewatchable as I had hoped. It’s still as good, but I can’t return to it again and again like I can with The Avengers. It makes me wonder if this film will have a similar feel. It’s an awfully complicated story for casual viewing.
Speaking of The Avengers – I’m having some issues with Scarlet Johansson and the way she plays Black Widow.
It’s not that I don’t like her in the role, I’m perfectly fine with the casting, but it seems like she never plays it the same way twice…does she just forget how the character is played every time? I also wonder if that’s part of the act….that she has so many faces, so many identities that all of them are false. If that’s the case then it really should be a little cleared. perhaps I am just over thinking this, but in her third time out it’s beginning to get to me. In the end she just comes off as really bland.
They also try to play up her dark past in this film. it seems a little late to be getting to this. We kind of acknowledge it in the Avengers, but it’s just in one line. Here it’s far more explicitly stated but feels like it’s too little too late – either tacked on for the fans or an afterthought to try and enhance what has always been a secondary character.
There’s a LOT of Cleveland in this film. This always takes me out of the movie a bit, I’ve spent a lot of time downtown professionally and I recognize so much of what we see here. That is one of the greatest car chases ever, but I know some of those streets. The scene in the mall is crazy. I take my daughters to those fountains. I buy coffee at that stand! I’ve done work in that building they’re keeping the Winter Soldier in….
Falcon is a nice addition in this film by the way. It’s a good origin story for him and he really has chemistry with Cap. I’m actually looking forward to seeing him in the next film…and let’s face it, they telegraphed the sequel. Then again, the commercials really gave away a lot of plot points, and I found myself waiting for stuff to happen. On the other hand it also let me know that I WAS going to see the familiar red white and blue costume for part of this movie and not just the slick blue and silver one. I was pleased that it was a full third of the film.
Interestingly enough, all the commercials and memes and internet chatter I was sure Nick Fury was going to really die in this. It was interesting that all of the spoilers actually hit me in reverse…
I really liked this film and can’t wait to see the next one.
Well, you know, after I see Superman vs. Batman.
By the way, we’ll be spending the whole week over at Violent Blue celebrating the new Cap film. Check it out! the first strip is up here : http://www.violentblue.thecomicseries.com/comics/680
This month we’re taking a look at an old favorite of mine, a title called Nightmask.
You may have seen a newer version of Nightmask floating around a few years ago as part of a series Marvel was referring to as “New Universal”. This was a re-imagining of it’s old “New Universe” where the superheros weren’t quite as super….
The New Universe was separate from the Marvel 616 universe. Technically it’s universe 555, but then again, back in the 80’s when this was being published, Marvel hadn’t really come up with the concept of a multiverse yet. Powers in the New universe were usually PSI based, grounded more in reality (or at least our current understanding of the paranormal as opposed to the fantastic nature of Spider-Man or Thor)
Of the New Universe titles, I always found Nightmask the most compelling. Keith Remsen and his sister survived an explosion which killed their parents and put Theodora in a wheelchair, but also helped unleash their telepathic powers to enter other people’s dreams. They spend the eleven issues helping people through dreams (where Keith appears as a superhero – Teddy is more an anchor – like Professor Stein in Firestorm) and occasionally unraveling mysteries.
This was during Jim Shooters era where most stories had to be resolved in one issue so it’s easy to pick up one of these and get a good feel for the character. I can see why it didn’t last, but it still intrigues me. I was disappointed that the reboot completely left these characters behind, I’d like to see more of them, especially now, grown up in the 21st century.
I found almost all of these in the fifty cent bin at Astonish! comics back in the 90’s. They may be harder to track down these days, but I almost guarantee you they’ll be bargain priced. The next time you do some online shopping at a comic site like Mile High, check a few of these out and ad them to the order. They’re great light reading and a really interesting comic alternative.
As I mentioned yesterday, we did the Halloween Comicfest over at Carol and John’s Comic shop.
Like on Free Comic book Day, publishers release special editions with the Halloween Comic Fest logo on them and these are distributed for free at participating retailers. It’s a way to especially get kids into comic shops these days. I’m still plowing my way through the stack of free comics I got, along with a couple I bought while I was there (I hate just showing up, grabbing the free stuff and leaving. Same as on Free comic book day, we make it a point to buy SOMETHING – even if just a couple issues from the quarter bin or dollar boxes), but here are some of my favorites so far….
Batman : Lil’Gotham.
I really haven’t been into this series. I suppose it’s fair to say it’s not aimed at me. Even worse, Damien is still alive in it and I hat him with such passion it’s unreasonable. There’s also something just ….wrong about cute gothamites. Batman villains just aren’t supposed to be…chibi.
This has some great moments in it though. Damien being completely unfamiliar with trick or treating so he goes and attacks kids in costumes….
it works as a fun kids book and was naturally one of the centerpieces of this years selections.
There was a My Little Pony book this year. I actually made a point to get to the comic shop kind of early In the day just to make sure I could snag this for my girls. Bronys are unpredictable and I could have easily seen this one getting sold out before we could manage to get in the shop. Thankfully, not only did both of my girls get a copy, I even got one myself. It’s a reprint of one of the stories form earlier this year, but it’s a good bit of the story and nicely scary – appropriate for Halloween.
Interestingly enough, this wasn’t the only pony book out there this year.
Another book called “Vamplets” was out with a kind of “Ghostly Pony” look to it. I almost missed the thing entirely until Maddie pointed it out to me. This and the My Little Pony books are bothe mini comics – about half the size of a normal one. Ashcans we used to call them. A lot of the kids stuff was set up this way. Still, fun books and perfect for Halloween.
Next up is Art Baltazar’s new book. I know, I keep gravitating towards the kids stuff, but Ity bitty Hellboy is just not to be missed. I really loved Tiny Titians, and this is just more of the same only with different characters. In fact, I’m not always into Hellboy that much, but this book was too much fun for words.
I did get through the Thor issue they had available and would actually really like to hear someone else comment on it. I’m not a big fan of Thor in the first place – he appeal has always mystified me, and lately a lot of his titles really seem to emphasize the elements of him that I really don’t like in the first place- most notably the big dumb football player personality with the big chin and no neck….and this issue is no exception. It sets up a new story arc about someone or something who is going around the cosmos killing small “g” gods. It’s an interesting enough concept, but with no investment in the character and a general dislike for beings who refer to themselves as gods or pantheon mythology in general this one really didn’t do a whole lot for me. Sorry guys. Like I said, I’d love to hear someone who’s a Thor fan chime in on this one. If I find something elsewhere, I may reblog it.
My last pick from the pack was Ultimate Spider-Man. This isn’t the actually Ultimate Spidey as in the Ultimate universe, or the Bendis run, this is more based on the cartoon that Disney and Marvel are currently running. I’ve watched it with my kids, it’s okay, and a good attempt to bring Spidey in to the Avenger’s universe. The book is divided into two features, beginning with an origin story, told as Spidey fights off the Shocker. Meh. The second feature where Spidey is shadowing an LMD of Samuel Jackson’s Nick Fury is much more fun. Inside are also a couple of one page gags where they’ve taken a page from the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko comics and redone the text pull things completely out of context. A really fun book.
Carl and John’s went the extra mile as well, also handing out candy and bookmarks and buttons (with Itty Bitty Hellboy on them). I’m really enjoying Halloweenfest, and I love that it makes Free Comic Book Day come twice a year now!
In retrospect, I really believe that Malibu should never have gotten into superhero comics.
For a very long time, back through the 80’s they have a very good business model, similar to Dark Horse. They republished old comics, ran licensed properties and published titles for other companies. In fact, Image comics stated as an imprint published through Malibu (That’s why you get vol1 and vol 2 of titles like Youngblood and Wild CATS – the first volume was published through Malibu). Image would later pick up on Malibu’s old strategy and publish books for indie artists at a flat rate depending on the length of the run (Brian Michale Bendis did a lot of his books through Image this way. MVCreations published the first run of He-Man and the Master’s of the Universe this ways as well).
But during the comics boom of the 90’s, everyone wanted a shared superhero universe and Malibu threw thier hat in the ring with the Ultraverse. Many of us remember Ultraverse heroes like Prime, drawn by Norm Breyfogel or Nightman, who had a brief and ill conceived TV series created by Glen Larson (of Knight Rider and Buck Rogers fame).
Not a lot of people remember the Solution. I don’t even remember seeing this on the racks in the 90’s. The series ran 18 issues and I’ve since found all of them in quarter bins.
The Solution are heroes for hire, willing to take missions for a fee. In Russia, nuclear bases are being attacked by Quattro, four ultra-powered mercenaries, and their nuclear warheads are stolen. Meanwhile, the Solution are in Hong Kong fighting the Dragon Fang, the world’s largest Triad group (and the people who stole The Solution’s leader’s fathers company. This is a vendetta). Eventually, an agent of the KGB tries to hire the Solution to stop Quattro from keeping the warheads.
Tech is the leader, in combat she’s your standard guns and ammo kind of girl, but what sets her apart are her skills as a hacker. She has wetware tech implants in her skull that allow her to cyberpunk any computer system wirelessly (and this was back in the days before broadband or wireless internet.)
Shadowmage is, predictably, their mage. She’s a trans dimensional being and In ever exactly caught onto where she was from – part of the Ultraverse continuity I wasn’t familiar with I think. Their brute Vurk is also inhuman, an alien who has a counterpart on the bad guys team. Finally there’s Dropkick, their martial artist.
Despite seeming like a cookie cutter superhero team, this group actually works together well and I suspect there was some thought put into what kind of Arch types to compile here. Tech is a reasonably original concept, and one not used a whole lot even today.
I like this series, but it is standard superhero fare. There’s some fresh ideas, but not enough to ever expect to see this title ressurected. Marvel bough out all the Ultraverse characters in 1994, for the sole purpose of keeping the Ultraverse out of DC’s hands. DC wanted to buy the Ultraverse. Marvel felt that a DC/Ultraverse competitor was too much of a threat at the time, and would knock them down to the number two publisher in the field. Qusada has adamantly said marvel won’t do anything with The ultraverse, and even though he’s not really in control over at marvel any longer, it’s a fair guess that The Solution is gone forever. Still, they left us 18 great issues to enjoy. In fact, I think I’ll go grab a couple of those after I finish some Violent Blue here….
Trinity of Sin
I had the dubious honor of playing in a game against the Trinity of Sin this weekend over at Comics are Go!. The game actually turned out to be a three way game, and for the most part, it was two teams trying to take down the Trinity.
What’s the worst thing about playing against the Trinity? It’s not the massive 16 click dial. It’s not even the tough 19 defense it starts out with. It’s not even the occasional poison trait. That only comes up occasionally, when Pandora’s face shows up on the dial. No, the worst part of this thing is the horrifying feedback damage from the mystics keyword. Instead of the normal one click, if you keep all your figures on the team base, you take two clicks of damage every time you make a successful attack.
Big Mike came in fast and hard with some heavy hitters, hoping to knock down that damage before the feedback destroyed him. I had a similar idea and really thought long and hard about adding the FCBD Thor to my team. He starts off with a 5 damage and an 11 attack. The problem is, even if he hurdles that 19 defense, he only gets one hit at 5 damage and that’s a charge. Not only is that feedback going to knock his damage down to 4, but he’s also stuck being poisoned knocking him down even further, not to mention being in the line of fire for anyone using pulse wave – a go-to power for dealing with Mystics.
I think Pulse Wave could have worked here actually, but so slowly with that one damage at a time trying to chip away at that deep dial. I pulled my Composite Superman and played him at the 80 point level, then pushed him one click where he goes into Pulse wave fro a couple of clicks. Unfortunately, I deployed him badly, then got distracted trying to pick up a Kurreth’s Hammer and got based, then blasted.
My main strategy for dealing with the Trinity ended up being Blackheart. He’s a hefty piece, but he’s a mystic too, and any time he takes damage it would feedback on the Trinity- a good start.
The main reason I choose Blackheart though, was his pets. He comes with two detachable gargoyles. When he uses his power of Dark Thunder, a gargoyle detaches and becomes a bystander with it’s own attack and defense and movement. When it’s KOed, it returns to the Blackheart base where it can be summoned again. I barely moved Black heart all game – in fact the only time he moved is when the red Gargoyle TKed him away from Trinity (on Mike’s suggestion – thanks!). I kept pulling up the gargoyles, placing them in front of Blackheart to protect him from ranged, then the red one would TK the blue one over to Trinity where it would attack. Trinity would then have to destroy it or take poison – taking one of Trinity’s actions. If there was no blue, the red one would make a ranged attack while Blackheart generated another blue one. My allies on the other side would perlex down that massive 19 defense to make it more manageable and I’d keep hitting, which would destroy the gargoyle but never give damage to Blackheart who would just pop another out. It chipped away at the Trinity dial while he was mopping up the other team.
It was fairly effective. We got the dial down to click 11, and I know I couldn’t have done that on my own. That’s why I said it was nice to play this as a three way game. It gave us both a chance. Still, that Trinity of Sin is a monster piece.
I did find one thing cute. Every time I’d detach the gargoyles, they don’t stand well on their own. They would topple over and I would just lay them on their side. When I’d TK the blue one over to Trinity, I’d lean it up by Phantom Stranger and say it was nuzzling him. If you can’t beat ’em, annoy them!
Okay, now that you’ve read that comic, head over to Violent Blue. We’ve got a new strip up today and meet us back here tomorrow!
Video Game Parents
A question has been occurring to me lately.
It first came to mind when Maddie and I were playing Gauntlet on the M.A.M.E. cabinet on night. Maddie frequently asks to play games with me on the rebuilt arcade machine, mostly the Marvel vs. DC M.U.G.E.N. game, but also things like Marble Madness or Crusin’.
This night she had asked for a co-op game, especially one with a princess. Gauntlet seemed to be the best solution and we played through dozens of levels.
The next time the question came to mind was when I was playing a game of Heroclix over at Comics are Go! in Sheffield. I had brought out some of my custom objects to play with the game pieces – an old 7-Up machine, a cigarette vendor and an X-Men 4 player arcade cabinet. We were talking about how dumb it was that no one ever ported this game over to any platform of the day or even to PC-CD (Though I’m told it’s finally available for ps3. Is that correct?) I mentioned that my daughter and I had played through the entire thing on my M.A.M.E cabinet.
So what’s the question? Here it is.
Are we the first generation of parents to use video games to bond with our kids?
It’s a devilishly simple question….and not as straightforward as it seems.
Sure parents probably played some video games with their kids, but how often? How did it fit into their relationship? It’s still a reasonably new medium thought that’s getting easier and easier to forget. One of the developers in the documentary “Indie Game” pointed out that this generation – people born around/after 1975-1980 grew up with games as a normal part of their life. It wasn’t a novelty, it wasn’t an occasional activity, just popping a quarter in if you happened to be at the pizza parlor or something. We had Atari’s and Nintendos and probably played a little bit on most days.
When we first got an Atari 2600, my parents played a little bit with me, but the novelty soon wore off for them and they moved on. For the most part, I played games alone or occasionally with friends. I imagine that was the case with most kids. Some dads here and there would get addicted to Zelda or Mario and perhaps they would take turns, but those are really single player experiences, not bonding games. The documentary “The Ecstasy of Order” describes a couple of families where they would competitively play Tetris, but again, one at a time, posting the score on a whiteboard or refrigerator.
Here’s the thing. I’m not a gamer. Not in the least. If you really stretch the definition, you might be able to label me as a retrogamer (one of the reasons I made Steve in Violent Blue one – at least that way I can know a little more about what I’m talking about). I enjoy classic games, and archive as many as I cam using emulators. I have a paticular love of old arcade games up through the 32-bit era. They tend to be short and the M.A.M.E. cabinet gives me unlimited virtual quarters and that’s a good thing because more often than not, I don’t have the patience to finish a game. I complete a game on my PC or DS approximately once every year or two. The last one I did was the new version of Y’s ….and that doesn’t exactly count since it’s just a rehash of the game I beat on my Sega Master System twenty years ago. I’m pretty sure I will beat the Spirit Camera game Amy got me, but even that three hour game has stretched out for months!
When I was a teenager I played every day, as an adult, I play games once a week or less…which brings me back to my point : NOT a gamer.
Having kids kind of changed that. I play more often now, because when they ask to play a game with me, I don’t want to say no. They won’t always be around to play games with me. When I built the M.A.M.E cabinet, I intentionally built in two controllers because I knew my kids would be playing games on it some day. Maddie and Lydia race against me in Mario Kart on our DS’s and pass around the tablet for the Hungry Shark game. We fight on Marvel vs. DC and on the old Capcom games, we co-op on Magic Sword. We play on the Genesis hooked up in the Livingroom (although those games actually don’t look that great on the HD TV) and Maddie has discovered she likes Scorpion best in Mortal Kombat.
Video games with Daddy has always been a part of their lives.
In Defense of The Punisher
A while back I mentioned that I was a fan of all the Punisher movies, though if I had to pick my favorite, it would be the Thomas Jane movie.
Really the big issue here is I think they are out of order. If you shuffle them around a bit, an arc begins to appear. Let’s do these in my order, starting with the Jane movie.
I know it’s an origin movie, but much like I do with the first Spider-Man movie, I usually start this guy in about halfway through so we have the origin out of the way. Still, that’s important to what I’m observing. The movie serves to tell us where Frank is coming from. It shows his tragedy and his immediate reaction, a lashing out at the gangsters who killed his family.
This film begins his descent into madness. You see him still in touch with humanity though, through the people in his apartment building, but even then – he’s pulling away. You know when he disappears, he’s gone for good.
This brings us to the Dolph Lundgren film.
Poor Dolph has constantly been blamed for the failure of this film. I couldn’t disagree more. sure, he could be a little more articulate, but then again, her dosen’t really need to be does he? The Punisher speaks rarely, and then only when there ‘s something important to say.
The costume has been blamed as well. This really isn’t a bad costume. I miss the skull. I do. Sometimes you’ll hear people talk about how the clever director shaded Dolph’s face so you could see the skull there. I think that’s overstating it a bit, but I understand. We also tend to forget just HOW different this costume was at the time. The modern Punisher wears a costume very similar to what we see Lundgren in, but back in the 80’s he was still in spandex like every other hero, with white boots and gloves. This costume was really a bit of a shock to the fanboys. Still it was a time period when it was fashionable to do superhero movies and change the costume completely.
The skull isn’t completely absent either, we do see it on the daggers Frank uses, but ti still would have been nice to see on printed on his T-Shirt – everything else the same.
No, what sinks this movie is the script. The more I watch it, the more i think this wasn’t written to be a Punisher movie, but rather just another low budget action flick, re-written to make it into the Punisher movie.
Having the Yakuza as the villain is a bizarre choice for a movie that’s trying to introduce a character to the public. it’s suited far more for a sequel. The dialogue is clumsy and the disgraced thespian turned alcoholic informant is just annoying.
It’s not all bad though. The “B” story with the Frank’s old partner seeking him out is very well done, probably the best part of the film. Louis Gosset Jr grounds the movie and gives us someone to relate to. I personally imagine he’s the same African American guy from the first movie who did the initial drug bust with Frank that resulted in Travolta’s son’s death. If you can get your hands on the workprint of this you really ought to. It shows far more range on Lundgrens part – there’s more flashbacks to before Frank became the Punisher, several which are referenced in the final cut. I understand that they mostly make the running time longer and drag the pace a bit but several things make more sense in it too.
Imagine now, that it’s been five years since the first movie. Frank is now living alone in the sewer, completely separated from humanity. his descent into madness is complete and he has little or no human contact. He’s dropped weight, note eating right, never venturing to the surface world except to kill. The sum of his human encounters is that once in a while he pumps an informant for information, but that’s strictly business, not personal. He is singly concentrating on wiping out the mob, and he’s almost succeeded, but his madness is wild, unfocused.
It takes the kidnapping of the mobsters children by the Yakuza to bring him back into the human race. He comes out to rescue them in the process encountering his old partner. He begins to see the need for human contact, for relationships. Perhaps he even sees the benefits tactically. That will lead him to build more contacts and wage his war on crime more effectively. Something we see in full swing in the next film : War Zone.
In War Zone, even more time has passed. The stated body count has increased from the Lundgren film. In this movei we see Frank has built a support structure both in his police contact Soap and his armoror Microchip. Micro’s supplies have helped fortify the sewer that Frank is still linvign in and probably helped him be a more efficiant killing machine. Now with his madness and rage fous insted of wild like the Lundgren movie, we see a more human Punisher, deadlier than ever. Children are still his best connection to humanity thoguh and we see that again here, a theme continued from the Lundgren movie. It fits best this way.
It’s a pity the way War Zone was received. The director has stated being frustrated by the cries of over the top violence in this movie (see my upcoming article on Judge Dredd for my opinions on what constitutes Ultra-Violence. This movie has a lot of kills, but not a lot of gore) when the critics didn’t understand she was coping most of those scenes almost panel for panel from the comics.
I don’t mind this movie, but I do think Ray Stevenson gets a little too chatty for the Punisher and the mistake of his, killing the undercover agent, which drives a lot of the story just turns me right off. I think it was poor choice. The Punisher doesn’t make those kind of mistakes, and if he dose, he doesn’t get this emo over it.
It was great to see Jigsaw here. I think he should have appeared earlier in the series, but then again, I suppose I understand why he didn’t. It’s a pity they made him so loony. Really a shame. It damages the character a little too much and combined with the other factors just drags the movie down when it could have been so much better. Still it serves as a good final chapter in this series. As I said, there’s a definite arc here and I could easily consider this an unintentional trilogy. It’s a pity there no more movies coming our way any time soon, but you can bet that the next time the Punisher hits the Silver screen, I’ll be there watching… and trying to see wher tit will fit in this list.
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.
I 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…..
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.
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.
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.
I 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.
Obvious 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.
Last Weeks Pulls
This week I dipped my toe in a bunch of titles that I haven’t been reading in a long time. The problem with doing this however, is you can feel like you just walked into the middle of a story and end up quite lost.
Spawn manages the feat of making me feel like I’m in the middle of a story I don’t quite understand while at the same time feeding me more of the same old same old. It’s more “Who do you work for????” “Jason Wynn!” “Wynn’s coming for you!” Chains, power countdown timer, menace. I’ve seen all of t his before. On the other hand, it’s been a long time since Spawn has been cutting edge. The most revolutionary thing they’ve done in the 21st century was to change the identity of the title character from Al Simmons to ….I don’t even know his name. Perhaps if I cared more….
On the plus side though, this has spectacular art. It’s very similar to Tim Bradstreet, very much like the dark noir look of the best modern Daredevil stories. Last week I mentioned that Jerry Ordway was one of my favorite artists. I’ve always favored a more realistic look to the dynamic, hyper stylized feel of a Liefield or McFarline drawing. This works really well. I’d love to see this guy do a Hellblazer or a Hellraiser.
Army of Darkness is always a fun title, but you have to understand, this series has strayed miles from the movies. That makes it easy to feel lost. The thing is though, they haven’t really done any world building. This isn’t a tight continuity. They seem afraid to move far from the established characters and continuity of the films, so we just wander from situation to situation without ever really creating a narrative.
When a female Ash arrived at the cabin (now floating in another dimension, at a causal nexus of some sort), I was really hoping they were making an attempt to integrate the new Evil Dead movie into this series. It would have been a smart move and all this talk of multiverses seemed to point that way. The cliffhanger makes it clear that it’s not.
Finally there was Hawken : Genesis. Despite the fact that there are several gamers in my Violent Blue comic, I’m not one. I built myself a Pac Man Machine and decided I never had to buy another platform.
The point being, I had no idea this was based on a video game. It’s a great idea though. The art is stunning and the concepts are fascinating. I can absolutely see how this would completely flesh out a game world. These are very short stories, about half the size of a regular comic, but well worth it if you can track them down. I ended up having to go online to find the previous entry in the series.
I also grabbed Extermination. This really seemed like just indie superhero fare, but seemed to get a little dramatic towards the end. I haven’t read enough of this series (this was the first time I’d noticed it) to know if it had earned that kind of theme. I think I’m too lazy to go back and find previous issues though.
I happen to love Sherlock Holmes. My grandmother introduced me to the character when I was a child, but I only really started to appreciate him when I was a teenager and rediscovering it in reading class. I wasn’t this comic to be good. i really do. It has a beginning and and ending t hat both catch you, but the middle of this book just slogs on. It’s part one of a story so you almost want to give it some slack, but it just doesn’t keep my attention enough and the art in it is awful. Technically good drawing I suppose but it completely misses the soul of the characters and the era. I’m just not into it. I will probably get the second part of this, but it better get real good real quick or I’ll be dropping it.
Speaking of dropping, I think I’m done with new Valiant’s Bloodshot for a while. It’s not a bad book, it just isn’t my thing. I didn’t really get way into the original series and that may be having an effect on me. Archer and Armstrong on the other hand, continues to be a fun ride and genuinely better than it’s predecessors. I like how they are trying to ease some world building into this series by introducing the Eternal Warrior and t he idea of the Geomancer in through this series – and it’s the perfect place for it. Armstrong always put me off a bit in the old Valiant, but I like him quite a bit in this incarnation. Maybe it’s the hair or the better dress sense. I don’t know.
The Green Hornet on the other hand….I do believe they have the shark in their rear view mirror, having jumped it about the time Britt jr and Mulan Kato started gettin’ busy. Now with an attack on the home base…I know these are all classic comic book tropes, but this series is only like, two years old. Isn’t it a bit early to be hitting these cliches already? I like some of the extra elements they’ve come up with and the expanded cast, and I’ll keep reading as long as it runs, but I don’t think I’ll really miss it when it’s gone.
I saw there was a new Crow series out and thought I’d give that one a try for old time’s sake.
Why do I keep doing that to myself?
Actually the idea of a Crow at a death camp in Nazi Germany isn’t a bad one, but it’s just not enough for me to care. This concept has gotten so watered down over the years, it almost seems like anyone who dies violently comes back as a crow. I half expect batman’s parents to come back as the Crow!
Grifter is still a good series. I’ve heard this one is getting cancelled and that really does make me a little sad. I’m liking it and really enjoying the newer take on the character. This issue has him facing the Suicide Squad which is pretty much just flat out fan service aimed directly at me….or it would be if it were a Suicide Squad I recognized. Still, it’s actually a better handling of most of those characters than I’ve been seeing in thier own book. I love how he describes them : “Everyone in t he squad is dangerous.They’re Black Ops criminals with nothing to lose”. I’ve never really heard them referd to in that manner before and I love it. This story also establishes a prior working relationship between Grifter and (the new 52 character who isn’t anything remotely like) Amanda Waller. This particular comment alone is enough reason to get this book.
I miss fat, middle-age Amanda Waller. I totally believed that character WAY more than I do with this young, slim imposter.
Anyhow. Can I talk about She-Ra now?
First and foremost, we don’t see She-Ra in this series, we don’t get the entire Secret of the Sword treatment either, but rather we get just before that. This character and series is apparently going to be intergrated into DC’s MOTU series eventually and I can’t wait.
It’s itneresting, they address something I had felt for years – Adora’s costume. In t his she is still aHorde Force Captian, just like in Secret of the Sword. However, in that cartoon, she was wearing the same Adora costume that she wore for the rest of the series (which is fine. I get limited animation and all of that). Essentially a jacket and a nice confy cotten shirt. Everyone else in teh Horde wore armor and bats and sigils and she just didn’t fit. This changes that… and her horde armor is stunning, not to mention the name : Despara. Just great stuff. She fits in better with the Horde here, rather than coming off like a princess wandering through the halls of evil treading on rose petals all the way….now, she looks evil. Moreover, when she takes that helmet off….she looks damaged. You can see the brainwashing in her eyes, the chopped hair just adds to it all. I love this.
When we open, it mentions that we are on Etheria – in the dark dimension of Despondos. That tells me that we aren’t throwing out all of the previous continuity from the failed MYP series in 2002, and that’s a good thing. While there were elements I really didn’t like about that series (most notably the designs for He-Man and the Sorceress) That series worked very hard to add some mythology to this world that had never been as well developed as it’s contemporaries in Transformers and GI Joe. It added a great deal to the MOTU story and I had feared most of that would have been thrown right out the window since that series was now out of favor.
That was in fact, enough of a boost for me to finally crack open that copy of the Origin of Skeletor I’d had laying a round for months.
Seriously. We’d gotten what I thought a spectacular origin for him in the MYP series and I was heartbroken that someone was going to come in and just re-write it. It turns out they didn’t exactly re-write it after all.
This story explores Skeletor’s past. Yes, we knew he was actually Randor’s brother Keldor. We had even expected that he was really his half-brother. And we see him treated as the Half-brother by his parents. Always out of favor, always passed over. Interestingly ( and heartbreakingly) enough, Randor is the one standing up for him. He is perhaps the only person ever to really love Keldor. Interesting but predictable. We probably could have guessed most of this.
What no one ever considered before, was that Keldor was the older brother.
Seriously. This changes everything.
Before, he was just some megalomaniac. He was just a James Bond villian who wanted to take over the world. Now….he’s the elder. He has a legitimate claim to the throne….perhaps even a more legitimate claim than Randor. His madness is what now makes him unfit to rule, but before losing his face and submitting to Hordak’s magic and apprenticeship?
This is a whole new dynamic. It took the MYP series to make this into a generational story. DC has taken it and turned it into a generational drama. I love this. I haven’t been this excited about MOTU in a very long time and it’s just great.
That wraps up this week. Christmas is coming. I hope you all survive it…I’m going to go look for He-Man shaped presents under the tree.
The Akron Comicon was a pleasant surprise. I really wasn’t sure what to expect as I drove the hour long trip to Akron. I checked the website earlier in the day and was disappointed to see P.Craig Russel had canceled, but otherwise everyone seemed to be scheduled to still show up. So I took the day off from Violent Blue, donned my Shadow costume and off I went.
I had a hard time find the parking the FB page recommended, but was just as happy to park on a side street and walk the block to the show. My cloak flowed in the wind and that always puts me in a good mood.
It was a smaller space than I expected, but it was used with extreme efficiency. Almost immediately I was approached by a fellow who asked If I’d like to do an interview about my favorite comics and why I was at the con today. It pays to wear a costume! I don’t usually cosplay at horror cons because I want to look normal for photo ops, but comic cons are different.
I got in a surprisingly short line for Gerry Conway, the man who created the Punisher and wrote the death of Gwen Stacy in the Spider-Man comic series. After taking their pictures with me, the guys in line behind me and I started to chat a bit. They showed me some beautiful reprints they were getting signed. Then on of them pulled out his copy of Spidy 120 – the issue before Gwen dies. I smiled and pulled out 121, and they nearly plotzed. IT was a good feeling. I related the story behind how I got that and the Punisher origin story (you can find it back here : https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/new-old-comics/ ) and they speculated on what these might be worth in the condition they are in. I was told I had at least a couple of hundred dollars in my backpack, but I wasn’t sure. These werent in great condition. They also pointed out that autographs don;t always increase value. That was something new to me, but in the end, I really wanted Gerry to sign them.
When I got to the front of the line I flopped them down on the table and re told the story to Gerry who handled then with a remarkably gentle touch. He seemed to revere them almost as much as the fans behind me, advising me “You have some really expensive comics here.” He then mentioned with a smile, “these are worth more money than I was paid to write them!”
I popped over to a couple of other tables, and got to see Mike W. Barr who wrote my favorite series of Star Trek for DC. I’m not so much a TOS person or a TNG person as I am a DC comics-movie timeline person. That’s real Star Trek for me. He was also kind enough to sign my copy of Batman and the Outsiders #1 for me and chat a bit about Jim Aparo. Jim defines the look of Batman for me and I always remember Denny O’ Niel saying how brilliant he was. Mike agreed with these statements and related a story to me about the one and only time he heard Jim complain; “It was a crossover with the Teen Titians and there were some supervillians on the cover too. He finished it and then looked at me and asked ‘They aren’t ALL going to be like this one are they?'”
It seemed like I was getting through all the lines really quickly….untill I hit Norm Breyfogels line. Now I understand he IS a bigger name, but honestly, Gerry Conways line wasn’t this long! Of course people weren’t asking him to sign entire runs of his work either. I know the sign says “No Limit” but seriously? Dropping a stack of fifty or a hundred comics to be autographed is just the lamest of fanboy behavior. Yes dude. I’m calling you out. You ARE the bad guy here and Norm was a saint to put up with you.
I attended a few of the panels, These could have been better, but were perfectly fine for a first year con. There was a fun moment during one panel on how comics are made. The presenter was using an slide show that he had already prepared for other seminars and it began with the question and definition of “What are Comics?”
“I think if youre here at this show, everyone probably already knows the answer to this one.” He topped for a moment. “Well, maybe not the guy dressed as the Shadow, but the rest of you I’m sure…” I had no comeback ready for this, but someone else did. From the audience I head a voice shout out “oh, the Shadow KNOWS!”
Lots of fun cosplayers, and a LOT of Doctor Who, including the cutest little Doctor costume I’ve ever seen on a baby. Not as many sales as I would have like to have seen though and very little in the way of film, bootlegs or rare. I would have expected at least something like the corman FF or the JLA pilot, or even Mockingbird lane. Oh well, perhaps next year.
And from what I heard, the con was successful enough to guarantee there WILL be a next year, and it totally deserves it. I’ll expect more next year, but for now, I had a blast at this years show!
The Mouse and the Jedi
Today’s Violent Blue comic strip is a little late today. I pulled the scheduled one because I wanted to weigh in a bit on the whole Disney / Lucas film controversy.
My reaction has been far less one of panic than surprise. My surprise has far less to do with Disney than with the very fact that Lucas would EVER sell. That I find shocking.
Disney is a parent company to scores of companies, and most of them aren’t really affected by the squeaky clean image of the mouse. Moreover, I can’t see SW being dumbed down and made any more kid friendly than it already has been. I can’t see it being merchandised any more ruthlessly than it already has been. Lucas and Disney have similar marketing strategies, and honestly if someone was going to buy it, Disney is the only company on earth with deep enough pockets. to do it. Again, my real surprise is that Lucas would ever sell the only thing he’s really done successfully (Don’t talk to me about Indiana Jones. That’s a collaboration and I see WAY more Spielberg in it than Lucas).
I’m going to stick with I just don’t care. The prequels effectively killed the last bit of interest I had in the series. The only thing I would worry about is that this could make it harder to get any more Indiana Jones sequels, but then again, considering the quality of the last one, that may be a blessing in disguise. For the most part I simply think it’s a non issue. It just means that now the mouse gets the money from the royalties of the characters likensses….so Carrie Fisher will have to start sending Disney a check every time she looks in the mirror instead of Lucas.
Head on over to the webcomic to see what the characters from Violent Blue think about all of this!
If you’re not sure exactly what is going on, check out this week’s Violent Blue.
The Spider-Man costume is real. What happend is we were given a box of custumes for the girls, and someone threw in an adult Spider-Man costume for me. No mask or gloves, but not a big deal.
Except I was broke.
So I was looking at this Spider-Man costume and trying to figure out what to do with it. I had a costume party coming up and wanted to wear it, but the mask and gloves were a problem. I considered doing the mask in facepaint, but my hair would still be showing. I don’t currently have a bald cap and it just looks band anyhow. I could do a Marvel Zombie, but to be comic accurate, I need a torn up mask. I don’t have an intact Spidey mask, much less a torn one.
Zombies still seemed like a good idea. I was thinking about the “Blackest Night” event DC had done in the Green Lantern comics a year ago. Those zombies weren’t just dead people, the black lantern rings kind of took them and turned them into gruesomely distorted versions of themselves. I came up with the idea of etching the spider web on my face and creating dark circles around my eyes in the shape of his goggles from the mask, then adding my black lantern ring to explain the lack of gloves.
I like it. The makeup was crazy long – over two hours. I could probably chalk that up to me trying out some new techniques. The cuts are cotten, colored with fake blood and the edges cleaned up with flesh tone greaspaint. A little black in there too to dirty it up and make it look infected. I could probably do it quicker now. I also added a little pink to the skin where the cuts join to add some trauma. Over all, I think it works well, and I like the idea of a costume that is in of itself a crossover. I like the idea though, that Taylor is wearing to to cause trouble. I used to wear Doctor Who costumes to Star Trek conventions for that EXACT SAME REASON!
Head on over to see this week’s Halloween hijinks at Violent Blue!
Turn off the Dark
Seriously. This is a terrible idea and the people who gave the go ahead should really consider another line of work.
So why can’t I stop watching it?
I got the DVD at Monster Bash. It’s not great, certainly no pro-shot, but it’s watchable….given that may alternative is sitting and listening to the OST with my eyes closed.
We all heard the stories about the nightmare production – actors in the hospital, budget overruns, script problems. The subject matter itself really isn’t suitable for stage. Mind you, it’s not the WORST idea for a musical…you need only go back to our post months ago on Carrie : the Musical to see that. ( https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/carrie-the-musical/ ) And it feels the need to rehash that origin story AGAIN. This is the reason I skip the first fifty minuets of Raimi’s first movie every time I watch it. Still, they manage to do something interesting with it. The idea of the hero persona being inspired by the myth of Arachne is an interesting take. We actually get to the MJ romance quicker and I honestly LIKE MJ in this. It’s a better actress and somehow she just feels more sympathetic.
Interestingly, we never get resolution from Uncle Ben’s death.
There’s a heavy film influence here. The costume is obviously based on the movies -and it’s certainly better than that crap Andrew Garfield is wearing. They add the romance angle from Doc Ock and his wife and transfer it into the Norman Osborn character. It’s MJ he drops off the bridge again instead of Gwen -I’m more willing to forgive that with a smaller scale like this though.
You know what? I think “Rise above” may be even more inspiring than “With great power comes great responsibility”.
It’s not U2. If you remember that, you’ll be fine with the music. It’s not u2. It’s showtunes that aren’t bogged down with the baggage of showtune tradition. It’s better than other novelty musicals like Evil Dead or Spamalot.
In the end though, that’s exactly what it is. It’s a novelty. It’s really more circus than theatre. It’s cool to finally see Carnage in a live action appearance (unless you count the Sega Genesis commercials back in the 90’s) and the cutscenes on the big screens of the villains and the backstory really works. It’s fun. The music is catchy enough for me to listen too at work. This production should be terrible….
But it’s not. I want to hate on it, but I just can’t. I’m not sure it’s worth the price of a broadway musical, but it’s definitely worth seeing. Hit up Youtube for clips and grab a bootleg if you can find one. (While you at it, check out this week’s Violent Blue!)
Every now and then I’ll check in on series that I kind of like but am not reading. Avengers related titles are on the top of that list. When it’s good, it’s really good, but most of the time, I just don’t care.
I noticed the Hawkeye redesign. I’m really liking the look, which of course is a direct result of the look from the Avengers movie, which in turn is directly related to the Ultimate’s series ten years ago. Yeah whatever.
I’m not a hater though. It’s a good look and fits with the modern design ethic. That’s not saying I don’t like the old costume. The purple and blue always worked for me. Somehow the pointed mask sold the tough guy feel of the character to me, and really, characters like Green Arrow and Shaft and Hawkeye NEED great costumes. It distracts us from the fact that they’re just these guys with bow and arrows.
Hawkeye’s usually gotten more development than that, but I really like the direction they are taking, where anything he touches could be a weapon, and making him more a marksman like Bullseye or Deadshot. It works well for the character and the new costume fits that idea better. It’s got me interested enough to pick up the first couple of issues of his ongoing comic series.
Speaking of ongoing comic series, there’s new Violent Blue tomorrow. Hope to see you there!