Monday, December 22, 2008

Santa vs. Santa

Can't we all just get along for the holidays? :-)

Have a very, merry Christmas and a happy New Year's!!

I hope to be able to post a bit more next year.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Star Wars" a capella tribute

OMG!! Brilliant stuff.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Four-Color Fiend: Dark Secret Invasion with Spoilers on the side!


So I've spent the past nine months reading the various SECRET INVASION titles and it ends with a sociopath with a split-personality shooting the Skrull queen on national television. Boy, sure glad I haven't been wasting my comic bags on this!!

Norman Osborne, is the Green Goblin, for those who haven't been reading Marvel comics for the past three decades or seen any of the Spider-Man films. He's a multiple murderer, child abuser and (depending on whether you accept that storyline) a seducer of young women. Just the kind of guy the President of the U.S. would put in charge of every facit of American intelligence and allow to oversee the super-human community. He's probably a Republican, as well.

Norman has called in a group of super-baddies to act as his back-up, although there is apparently one other (who we don't see except partially in shadow) that will keep his 'allies' in line. I know I haven't been reading a ton of Marvels, except the SI books, but when did Namor start looking like Hugh Laurie? I also wasn't aware that Loki, Thor's half-brother is now sporting cleavage. Do I even want to know?

The next few months those heroes and villains who have survived the Skull attacks are going to battle each other, probably with reversed roles. I guess the folks at Marvel so how great the DC books were when Lex Luthor was President and have decided to try something similar. Good move! I'll be cancelling some of the Marvel titles I've been buying the past half a year.

On a positive note, if you aren't buying the current JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA title you are missing some wonderful stuff by writer Dwayne McDuffie. He did a nice alternate-world story featuring Vixen and is bringing the Milestone characters (many of whom he created or helped to create) into the DCU.

If you are into horror/dark fantasy, you really should be buying the Mike Mignola written titles from Dark Horse. Anything with Hellboy, Abe Sapien and the other members of the B.P.R.D. are well worth seeking in the shops and bookstores. Also, WALKING DEAD by Robert Kirkman remains one of the better books currently being produced, even if you are not a big zombie fan.

Happy Birthday - The Beatles

Today is my birthday! Happy birthday to me!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas

Who wouldn't want one under the tree?

Saw this on YouTube and couldn't resist.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cinemassacre's Top 10 Giant Movie Monsters

You can't go wrong with Giant Movie Monsters! Well, maybe if you trip while running from them...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Holiday viewing!

Caught my first "A Christmas Carol" of the season yesterday. It was an animated version, which I don't recall at all. I only saw the last fifteen minutes, with Scrooge getting the crap scared out of him by the Spirit of Christmas Future. No major singing here and Scrooge is accompanied in his journeys by two mice. While they don't speak there actions are semi-antropomorphic.

As some of you know I'm a sucker for the Dickens tale and will watch just about any half-way decent adaptation. I'll try to keep you updated during the season as to which ones I see.

On the comics front, I picked up the last two issues of Justice League of America (#25 & 26) written by Dwayne McDuffie. I've always liked Dwayne's writing and have had the chance to meet him a few times, back in the Other Life. Actually, it was because of comments on Tony Isabella's messageboard that I checked out the book. How could I pass up McDuffie introducing the "Brown Bomber" character? The black hero who would have been the star of DC's first comic with an African-American character was a bullet just barely dodged, thanks to our Tony I. It was a nice surprise and I know I'll be picking up the next few issues, since Dwayne will be brining back the Milestone superheroes as part of the DC Universe. Way cool!

That's it for now! If I can't get back before Thanksgiving I want to wish you all the best holiday.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I'm Voting for Popeye

Even if you aren't voting for the one-eyed sailorman, be sure and vote tomorrow!

Take care!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Playing catch-up!

Apparently the new filter system at work allows me to access Blogger on the weekends. If this continues I'll probably only post here on those Saturdays when I'm working, unless I 'share' a video from YouTube.

Donna and I have been watching horror movies the past week. Normally, my wife doesn't care for this type of thing, but there hasn't been much interesting on some nights and lots of stations are showing older scary movies. I finally got Donna to watch HALLOWEEN, which she had never seen and the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. These are two of my favorites so it was nice to share them. We also watched the Vincent Price film HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, a movie that Donna actually had seen before and enjoys. Lastly, we watched GHOST SHIP (2002), which had it's moments if predictable, especially the ending which I could have done without.

Nuclear Comics is having a sale this weekend, but the only thing I picked up (other than my usual pulls) was WALKING DEAD TPB #8, so I'm all caught up on the series. It remains one of my favorites, but I wonder how long creator/writer Robert Kirkman can continue without repeating himself.

Only one more issue of SECRET INVASION to go and things are nearing some sort of climax even in the tie-in books. Some of which (like SHE-HULK, INCREDIBLE HERCULES & Ms. MARVEL) already seem to be moving on or setting up future storylines beyond the Skull war. There are several Skrulls already established in some books who look to be staying around for a while, but I suppose that could change.

That's it for now! Enjoy the rest of the weekend and remember to vote next Tuesday!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

NYC GREENWICH VILLAGE HALLOWEEN PARADE 2007 PART1

There are things I miss about not being back in NY this time of year. I used to go down just about every year in the late '80s til the mid-90s. You never knew what to expect.

Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Wassup 2008

When these guys were hot I loved the commercials. The one in the Japanese restaurant still makes me laugh when I think about it.

Sorry, it gets political at the end, since I try to stay away from that here. Still I don't think anybody should be surprised who I support!

Have a good weekend and vote early, if you can.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Four Color Fiend: Spending Time with the Time Lords!


I’ve been enjoying the two regular DOCTOR WHO books from IDW (Doctor Who & Doctor Who Classics), so was happy to see that they are putting out two more series featuring the Time Lord. The first book features new stories with the Doctor #10, while the other reprints earlier adventures beginning with the Tom Baker version.

I mentioned DW: The Forgotten last month (featuring the current Doctor, David Tennant and the first, William Hartnell) and I just picked up the second issue, which has adventures of the second & third regenerations (played by Patrick Troughton & Jon Pertwee respectively). The Doctor and his companion Martha Jones are still stuck in a mysterious museum and unable to locate the TARDIS, plus it seems the still unseen villain has begun to activate some nasty surprises for our duo. Writer Tony Lee and artist, Pia Guerra are doing a nice job capturing the personalities and appearances of all the Doctors. While Guerra’s style may be a bit cartoonish for some I find her perfect for the title.

The same week a had second DW reprint book, Grant Morrison’s DOCTOR WHO, with tales of the Sixth & Seventh Doctors (who were played by Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy on television). This is a two issue series featuring the DW stories Morrison wrote in the ‘80s, before he brought back the DC hero, ANIMAL MAN in popular and award-winning series. While the Baker two-parter is nothing special, the done-in-one McCoy story has the Doctor helping an entire race avoid extinction. It also shows the Time Lord at a low point being reminded of why he does what he does.
I’ll try to throw in more reviews later this week.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I'm still here!


I haven't forgotten about this blog, but I haven't been doing much posting anywhere. Heck, I think Alex over at Poplitiko is about to cross me off the contributor list any day now. :-)

I've actually been doing more reading than writing lately, not that I think I have much to add to the general conversation. I'm also getting lazy and finding it easier to link to something or toss up a video from YouTube on the topic of the day.

I'm still trying to keep up with SECRET INVASION and still finding most of the tie-in books pretty decent. MS. MARVEL and BLACK PANTHER are interesting enough now that I may stick around post-SI to see where the characters go from here. In both books we have seen the titular heroes take a number of lives, mostly Skrulls but still it is bound to effect them. I've previous BP series, but had to be brought up to speed when I picked up the title a couple of months ago. I had no idea that he was married to the former X-Men, Storm.

I sort of like AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE, even though there are a lot of characters with whom I'm not familiar. I enjoy the fact that the 3-D MAN has become sort of a 'legacy' character with a new kid taking up the name & uniform of the retconned '50s hero. I'd never heard of the "Skrull Kill Krew" before and I'm not sure I care enough to do more than read the Wikipedia entry. On the other hand, if there are going to be Skrulls remaining on Earth after the end of all this, I might be interested enough to keep an eye on them. Of course, that depends on which characters might be part of that group at the time.

Speaking of Marvel, I really have liked the three "free" SAGA books that have been given out at shops. The DAREDEVIL issue pretty much centers on what has happened to the character since mystery/thrill writer, Ed Brubaker has begun writing the character. Still it was interesting. MARVEL: YOUR UNIVERSE covered a good portion of the last decade, filling me in on what led up to CIVIL WAR, SECRET WAR and background enough on what the Skrulls and other characters have been up to. There were also a few pages taken from the up-coming new MARVEL HANDBOOK, with the section on James "Bucky" Barnes (Winter Soldier & the new Captain America) especially helpful. Finally, last Friday I picked up MARCH ON ULTIMATUM SAGA, that had a great overview of the ULTIMATE universe at Marvel, something which I have not followed at all. Have to be honest and say that there wasn't much in the book that made me regret not buying the titles, except for missing the first appearances of the MARVEL ZOMBIES. I still plan on picking up the TPB collecting those issues, since there is a third mini featuring the 'undead heroes' coming next year.

Hope to have some more stuff on comics or television in a couple of days.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What am I up to?

No good, would probably be the best answer. Fortunately, it's not true. I've been to busy with other stuff to have a chance to post much, but felt I should drop by just so you'll know I'm still active.

My comics buying is almost 50% Marvel stuff related to SECRET INVASION. I'm certainly enjoying it more than I did almost any of the COUNTDOWN stuff that DC put out. In a way it is fresher, since the writers in the tie-in books actually seem to be relating their story lines to the Skrulls. Many of the DC books last year seemed to be ignoring what was going on in COUNTDOWN and even making it more confusing, as characters who appeared dead, injured or otherwise incapacitated in one book were just fine in another.

FINAL CRISIS is still confusing, even restricting myself to the main title. The only tie-in book I picked up was FC: Requiem, which dealt with the fate of J'onn J'onzz and nicely covered his history as it is/was in current continuity. Writer Peter J. Tomsi and artists Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy all did a good job presenting the story of one of my favorite characters. Although it was a good send off, I really would love to see the character return in some form or other.

If you are not already a fan of Mike Mignola you are missing some fun & exciting books. It doesn't matter if they feature HELLBOY, the B.P.R.D. or his pulp-inspired hero, Lobster Johnson. There is generally at least one title in the Mignola-verse coming out every month and I recommend them all. Right now you'll find HELLBOY: THE CROOKED MAN, with art by Richard Corben. Corben is inking his own work and, as usual, fills the pages with well-endowed beautiful women and the creepiest monsters & villains you'll see anywhere. For a more 'typical' story in terms of art & story you can also find B.P.R.D.: THE WARNING a follow-up to the previous WAR ON FROGS, which expanded on the already known menace of the 'frogs'. Trust me, they are not the ones you'll find in your garden or in the local pond. At least I would hope not!!

The DOCTOR WHO books from IDW continue to be a lot of fun, whether you prefer the antics of the Tom Baker incarnation in D.W. Classics or the current David Tennant version in D.W. A wonderful bonus is in the just started mini-series D.W.: THE FORGOTTEN by Tony Lee and Pia Guerra. There the current Doctor and companion Martha Jones find themselves transported to a mysterious 'museum' filled with mementos of the Time Lord's past incarnations. Exhibits include the outfits worn by the various actors who played the role and artifacts which became identified with them in the show. The first issue has a bit of an adventure with the original Doctor (played by William Hartnell) , his "grand daughter" Susan and her teachers, Barbara & Ian. The rest of the series will feature appearances of the other eight incarnations and we'll probably learn more of the 'mysterious' person behind this (although long time fans of the show might easily guess). Bravo!!

Other stuff on recent purchases when I get the chance.
(I had actually tried to post this yesterday (9/25) but Blogger was giving me a hard time.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Banana Man!


If you have a chance you should click over to Mark Evanier's page to watch a video featuring Sam Levine. Levine, as Evanier explains, was one of perhaps three men who performed a routine called "The Banana Man" for several generations of children and adults. If you're my age, as Mark is, you'll have some memory of the routine from Captain Kangaroo or some other show from that era.

Another found memory is of chatting with writer, John Ostranda one evening in New York and having him surprise me by having the same memories of Levine as I did. Just another reason why I consider John one of my favorite comics creators.
Watch and enjoy! Thanks, Mark!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Salty Brine profiled on PM Magazine

I used to listen to Salty in the mornings through the '60s and watched his TV show in the afternoon, after school.

Salty used to do the usual Popeye, naturally, and tons of other cartoons.

Four Color Fiend - I MARVEL at all this!

A few spoilers this time, but I’m not going to bother with making you scroll down. This is just a quick rundown of some of the titles I’m currently reading.

I continue to pick up most of the SECRET INVASION titles from Marvel. As I’ve said before most of them are decent or better, giving you a nice “what has gone before” page at the beginning and generally allowing you to figure out who is who. Only a few times have I had to go to Wikipedia to check out a character or two, mostly from AVENGERS: The Initiative. In many cases they appear to be old characters with new names or new characters assuming the names of older ones.

The SI storyline seems to be at the mid-point, at least in the main title, but it may be ending sooner or later in the books that currently tie-in. The two main Avenger titles (Mighty & New) continue to bring us the back story on how various heroes were replaced and how things on the Skrull home world developed up to the beginning of the actual invasion. Tony (Iron Man) Stark has been led to believe that he may be a Skrull double-agent, but still is working to repair the damage done by the actual aliens. It looks as if Reed Richards may be getting back into action and on his way back to aid his allies on Earth. As it appears that it was Richards’ mind which held the secret the Skrulls used to hide among us, it is probably Mister Fantastic who will discover the means to correct the situation.

Both INCREDIBLE HERCULES and CAPTAIN BRITAIN & MI: 13 are showing how the Skrull invasion is taking place in the realms of magic (in the case of CB) and among the immortal gods (IH). The events and characters in both books have enough appeal to me that I may continue to pick them both up after the Skrull storyline ends. Dr. Faiza Hussain, particularly, may be one of the most interesting characters to have appeared in quite a while, at least in my reading of the Marvel Universe books. It will be interesting to see where writer Paul Cornell and co-creator Leonard Kirk will be going with her in the next few months. In the Hercules book, it is Amadeus Cho (the 7th smartest person on Earth) who is the most interesting of the hero’s companions and I fear for the fate of his puppy, Kerberus (“Kirby”) at the hands of the Skrulls.

While I’m still reading MARVEL 1985, I feel a bit disappointed that Mark Millar is going a so dark. Considering the other things the man has written, I guess I should not have been surprised. I would have preferred a little lighter tone as the main character in the book, Toby Goodman, is only a young teen in the story. I certainly don’t remember the various Marvel villains being quite this blood-thirsty (in some cases almost literally), especially back in the mid-80s where this is supposed to be taking place. It remains a good read and it will be interesting to see where Millar will eventually take this.
Finally, at least with the Marvel books, I found THE TWELVE ½ among my ‘pulls’ at Nuclear Comics last week. While the covers are new, as well as a summary of the series on the inside front cover, the rest of the book contains reprints of the early adventures of three of the heroes who now find themselves in the 21st century. Rockman, Mr. E and the Fiery Mask all have a moment in the spotlight. Of note are the origin of the Fiery Mask by Joe Simon and a Rockman tale by Basil Wolverton.

I’ll probably have more on other comics either later today or next Monday.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Vacation viewing!

Had the opportunity to catch a couple of films while I was on vacation and thought I'm quickly mention them.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (seen on a decent size screen on the ship, while enjoying a Pina Colada)- is the second film in the Narnia series based on the novels by C.S. Lewis. I never had the chance to see the first film, although I did read the book years ago and saw the British television series based on it. I never got beyond the first book in the series, so was taken by by how dark the film was in some portions. Although some characters are revived (and we all know where Lewis was going with that symbolism) there are a number of deaths in the movie. While not especially graphic, I could see how young kids might be disturbed by the nighttime attack on the castle and some other scenes. While not up to Peter Jackson's brilliant Lord of the Rings trilogy, the film certainly was entertaining. Of note was Sergio Castellitto in the role of King Miraz, uncle of Prince Caspian and the major villain in the film.

The Happening (watched on a lap-top sized viewer in First Class flying from Anchorage to Seattle and enjoying a rum & Coke) - Is another strange and disturbing film by M. Night Shyamalan. Mark Wahlberg plays a high school science teacher who finds himself fleeing with his wife and others from Philadelphia after New York suffers an apparent terrorist attack. The film moves from Wahlberg and his fellow travelers, back to the city as events begin to escalate and spread. We see and hear newscasters, 'experts' and others speculating on just what may be happening and why. I saw the film in edited format on a plane, so some scenes and language may have been altered, but it was still quite chilling. Along with Wahlberg, we have solid performances by John Leguizamo (as one of Wahlberg's fellow teachers and close friend) and Zooey Deschanel as Wahlberg's wife (who has her own secret). Betty Buckley gives a creepy performance as the mysterious Mrs. Jones, a woman who allows Wahlberg to stay overnight in her home. As usual with Shyamalan's movies not everything is answered or explained, but perhaps it shouldn't be. Probably not the best film by the writer/director, but a decent addition to his resume.
I've found that the consumption of alcohol while watching movies can make any film an enjoyable experience. :-)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Off to Alaska, but first...

Donna and I will be leaving for our cruise tomorrow, so I won't be posting for the next 12 days or more. If I blog at all it will be over at Parting Shots, but don't hold me to it.
As an update to my previous post, I caught the last episode of DUST TO DUST yesterday. It wraps up the series nicely, but leaves things open for even more sequels, should the folks at Ghost House chose to make some. Congrats to Steve Niles & Co. for creating a really scary universe.

Anyway, take care and enjoy the Labor Day weekend. If you hear of somebody going over the side of the Island Princess, don't even bother to look for me. I'll be heading to Barrow! ;-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

30 Days of Night: Dust to Dust (with spoilers)


I wasn’t tired the other night and decided to take a break from watching the Olympics. Nothing could be more different than to switch over to On Demand and see what FEARnet had to offer this month. Fortunately, they were broadcasting the first five installments of ’30 Days of Night: Dust to Dust’ (DtD).

If you caught FEARnet’s BLOOD TRAILS (BT), you’ll know that was a prequel to the film 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. Chronologically, BT took place several weeks before the events in the film, while DtD is set a month or more after. BT set up the world in which 30 Days takes place and we learn that something is going to happen in Alaska. In the sequel, we learn that the general public has been led to believe that the town of Barrow, Alaska was destroyed in an accident that set fire to the town and killed all the residents.

Andrew Laurich is back as George Fowler, the junkie from ‘Blood Trails’, who accidentally learned of the vampire society's plans and possibly how they can be stopped. We were also introduced to a group dedicated to stopping them. George is now doing time for the murder of his girlfriend, who had become a vampire in the previous series. Apparently, some vampires are still after George for the code he has which would reveal many of their secrets. When the state decides to transfer him (in the middle of the night, naturally) his guards are attacked, along with a nurse who was administrating sedatives to George as he understandably resists the transfer. During the attack, George makes his escape and a manhunt begins. Meanwhile, the nurse Sara, who was not killed, begins to change as she had been scratched and thus infected by the vampiric virus.

Of course, things are never this simple, so it is revealed early on that Sara is the sister of former homicide detective, Nick Maguire. Nick confronts his former partner, Gina (played by the very, busy Shawnee Smith) who reminds him that he has no official authority in the investigation. Eventually, Nick finds George and together they try to find Sara, whom Nick believes he can still save.

I’m not going to give anything else away, not only because I don’t want to totally spoil the suspense, but because the series has not been completed as of this week so I don’t know what will eventually happen to all the characters.

If you enjoyed the first series, the feature film or the various '30 Days of Night' comics by Steve Niles and co-creator Ben Templesmith, on which the films were based, you will definitely want to go to FEARnet.com or the FEARnet channel (if your cable/satellite provider carries it) and catch this. I highly recommend both the online episodes and the film (if you haven’t seen it yet) for those who like this sort of thing. Count me in that group!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun!: A serious note.

Mark Evanier posted a link to this essay and after reading it thought it would be worthwhile reading.

I remember from my early con going experiences that female attendees were generally girlfriends or wives who were being dragged around, or those few female professionals who worked in the industry. Often you wouldn't see more then a couple ladies, until it was time for the 'costume' contest when they would magically appear. The past couple of decades has seen an amazing increase in the number of women both reading and creating comics. I think this is a plus for all fans of comics and for the industry itself.

Sadly, I have also overheard, witnessed and been told stories which mirror those in the essay. I am in total agreement that this type of behavior (no matter where it occurs) should not be tolerated. I'm frankly surprised that the SDCC doesn't have an established policy on this sort of thing and think that the organizers might want to consider creating one.

Anyway, see what you think:
Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun!: A serious note.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Four Color Fiend: Let's spoil this!


Over the weekend, between watching the Olympics, I worked my way through a couple of week’s worth of comics. More than half were Marvel titles and most of those were SECRET INVASION tie-ins. I’m going to just quickly go over them, not really reviews, but just quick comments. I also read a few DC books and independent titles, which I’ll cover in the same manner. Oh, there will be….

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Secret Invasion: Frontline continues the story of the first day of the Skrull invasion in New York City and how it affected the lives of a half dozen people. We see the Skrulls and various super-heroes, but the focus here is how the average citizen reacts in such a situation. Of course, since it is the Marvel version of Manhattan, you’d think those folks would be used to this sort of thing. You won’t find answers to the major questions the main title brings up, but the writer Brian Reed and artist Marco Castiello do a good job.

Peter David has been among my Top Ten favorite comic writers for years. I haven’t liked everything he has written, but even Charles Dickens had off days. He is the current writer on both She-Hulk and X-Factor, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise that given the natural crossovers taking place during the SI event that PAD would bring his characters into conflict. Currently, the X-Factor team is working as ‘mutant’ detectives, taking cases for private individuals and being forced to perform the same tasks by the U.S. government. Jennifer “She-Hulk” Walters is working as a bounty-hunter, along with her Skrull partner, Jazinda and naturally (or else it wouldn’t be a super-hero comic), Jennifer and various members of X-Factor end up fighting. I have to be honest and admit that I’ve never been a big fan of Larry Stroman’s art and in fact find many of the characters he draws in the X-FACTOR book (#33) ugly and misshapen. It’s almost jarring then to immediately pick up SHE-HULK (#31) and find the animation style work of Vincenzo Cucca. Wow, what a pleasant surprise! Both books are, of course, well written, but your mileage may vary depending on how you feel about the art in either.

I really don’t know where writer Dan Jurgens will eventually go with TANGENT: SUPERMAN’S REIGN, but he is doing a nice job so far of keeping my interest. About half the current Justice League, led by Batman, has gone to Tangent: Earth to rescue some of their members who have been captured by that world’s Superman. Having made himself the ruler of the planet, Superman feels that the ends will always justify the means when it comes to remaking the world in the way he sees fit. Reading the mind of Green Lantern John Stewart this Superman feels threatened by the hundreds of super-powered beings who exist on Earth One. Believing that his world would be threatened by ours Superman decides that he should strike first. The art by Jamal Igle with inker Robin Riggs is clean and keeps all the characters easily identifiable as the action heats up. As I said last time out, I have a bad feeling about the fate of Tangent’s Guy Gardner where he is a hacker picked up by what may or may not be the government, rather than holder of a green ring.

Final Crisis #3 may be the final issue in this series for me. I still have no real handle on where this is going and Grant Morrison makes no attempt at making things clear. Personally, the appearance of the bitchy Mary Marvel cuts any points I might have given the issue in half. The appearance of Barry Allen and the Atomic Knights on their giant Dalmatians doesn’t make up for it. J. G. Jones is a good artist and he certainly is doing a better than journeyman job on this book. Unfortunately, nice art and good dialogue do not make up for too many unanswered questions and the fact that I’m expected to buy several tie-in series in order to follow everything. While you could say some of that about SECRET INVASION, at least the Marvel folks are giving you a hand with a ‘what has gone before’ page in every issue. Check with me in a few weeks to see if I decided to give Morrison & Co. one more chance.

I finished off my pile with three books I have really been enjoying. First, you cannot go wrong with Stan Sakai’s USAGI YOJIMBO and #113 is a nice little done-in-one tale that brings an end to the partnership of Usagi & Gen. IDW continues to bring us two entertaining DOCTOR WHO books each month, one (DOCTOR WHO CLASSIC) featuring reprints of the tales of the Tom Baker Doctor and the other (DOCTOR WHO) stars the current incarnation of the Time Lord. Both are fun and recommended.

Finally, from BOOM! Studios we have ZOMBIE TALES: THE SERIES which is comprised of stand-alone and multi-part stories of survival. As in WALKING DEAD the world is coming to grips with an ever increasing horde of the undead. Whereas in WD the zombies are pretty much what you would assume zombies to be, in ZT the writers are given a free hand. Some stories actually have the zombies maintaining their intelligence and slowly rebuilding civilization, but on their terms. Namely, the ‘norms’ are corralled and raised as livestock for the undead citizens. In other stories, they are your typical Romero shufflers and pretty easy to dispatch if they don’t outnumber the living. The stories are a mix of straight horror, human interest and humorous or a mix. Writers such as Joe R. Lansdale and Steve Niles have appeared along with lesser known folks and a number of artists. To paraphrase something the late, Don Thompson used to say, if this is the kind of thing you like you will like it.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Finally, my San Diego pics

I just wanted to post some of the photos I took back in San Diego.
The guy dressed as The Joker was amazing, from the makeup to his laugh.

The vampire from 30 Days of Night actually scared the crap out of me, since I thought she/it was a statue, until I was about to touch her boot and she looked at me. D'oh!

The storm trooper and alien/Jedi (?) were part of the promotion for the new SW: Clone Wars movie.

That's Mike Nelson signing posters and photos while promoting RiffTrax and the MST3-K reunion on Saturday.

The lady behind the bar, whose name I forget, was serving up drinks and sarcasm at Dick's Last Resort. I had lunch and a brew there both Friday & Saturday. (Should I mention her Hello Kitty panties? Probably not.)

Various other photos are likely easy to figure out. On the other hand, the Kaiju/monster is from a strange show where folks dressed like that wrestle. I saw it once on YouTube, but can't recall anything else.

There are a few other photos, but these came out the best.























































Thursday, August 07, 2008

Four Color Fiend: More stuff from this week

Really quickly, having panned the S.I. tie-in for the latest issue of THUNDERBOLTS, I wanted to mention two other Marvel books worth the cover price.

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Both MIGHTY AVENGERS #16 and NEW AVENGERS #43 are also crossing over with the SECRET INVASION series.

In Mighty Avengers we have a flashback several months that shows how Elektra came to be captured by the Skrulls and replaced by one of their agents. Brian Michael Bendis writes this issue and is aided by the art of Khoi Pham with does a lot of nicely drawn silent, action panels that demonstrate just how formidable Elektra can be and why she was chosen by the Skrulls.

Over in New Avengers we get to see the Captain America who escaped from the crashed Skrull ship going up against some of the other heroes in the Savage Land. I don't want to give anything away, but Bendis again provides a lot of background and some incite into the Skrulls. Here he is aided by artist Billy Tan, who does a nice job with all the characters, both on the Skrull world and in the jungle scenes.

By the way, when did Shanna become so blood-thirsty? Wow!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Four-color Fiend: It was bound to happen

Since I've been sucked into the whole SECRET INVASION story at Marvel I have picked up just about every issue of any title that seemed to be tied into SI. I have to admit that I have been happily surprised to find that I enjoyed every issue I read. Oh, sure there were some that stood out from the others and might be titles I continue to purchase after the last Skrull has been revealed.

Still I guess it was inevitable that I would finally come upon a book that I didn't particularly like.
Unfortunately, it just happened to be THUNDERBOLTS #122, one of the last Marvel titles I was still buying before I dropped comics completely for a while. Created by Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley, the team was comprised of Marvel villains under the leadership of Baron Zemo, who pretended to be heroes in order to secretly gain power. As things went along, some of the members (now working under different code names) actually began to believe they could be like the heroes they formerly fought. While not entirely original, the book under Busiek was interesting and well written. He and Bagley turned a group of second & third-string baddies into characters we cared about. When the writing chores were turned over to Fabian Nicieza he continued to put the characters through changes, including bringing in former Avenger (and also one-time villain) Hawkeye to lead the team. An ill advised change in the book (keeping the title but making it about super-powered wrestlers) didn't last long and Niceiza returned with the NEW THUNDERBOLTS, making the book again something worth reading.

I haven't picked up an issue of the title in the past year, since starting to read comics again, but have read reviews (or rather pans) of what has been going on in the title during this time. Instead of trusting far wiser reviewers that the book wasn't very good I decided to take a chance. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...wrong!

S

P

O

I

L

E

R

S

This issue of T-bolts is listed as a SECRET INVASION tie-in, but unless you really pay attention to a couple of panels (always the check the eye color of characters in the SI books) you'll not understand why. Of course, the appearance of Captain Marvel (or rather the Skrull who thinks he is CM) in the last few pages might count if you know his back story.

Basically, you have an unlikable group of characters only two of which, as far as I can tell, were part of the old T-bolt team with which I was familiar. The team is managed/lead by Norman Osborne (sociopath, abusive father and murderer) who was formerly the Green Goblin, members include original team member Moonstone (manipulative, uba-b*tch and possibly a murderess), Venom (human encased in the symbiote costume formerly worn by Spider-Man and a multiple murderer & cannibal), Radioactive Man (not the cool Bongo Comic character, but a third-string Thor villain, created by the 'Red' Chinese government back in those good ol' Cold War era), Swordsman (who assumed the name of a one time villain, later Avenger and is apparently the son of Baron Strucker an old time Sgt. Fury villain and former Nazi; this guy appears to have an odd relationship with his late sister who he hoped to have cloned and who seemingly shows up during the issue {again note her eyes}), Penance (formerly the Steve Ditko hero called Speedball, who feels responsible for a the destruction of a city and the death of thousands of civilians, which more or less led to the events of "Civil War"), and finally, Songbird (also an original T-bolt, former villain and the only non-murderer as far as I can tell). Except for this last character, I couldn't find a single T-bolt likable and frankly all she does this issue is complain and confront Moonstone over who runs the T-bolts when they are in action.

Blah! Unrepentant characters, half of which should be serving time in prison, if not sentenced to death for their deeds. This is what the U.S. government with aide by fascist d*ckhead Tony Stark has brought together to confront actual heroes who have not registered.
Buying this was a mistake that I'm not going to make again.
(Thanks to Wikipedia, with link in the headline for giving me a lot of this information)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Remote Viewing: DOCTOR WHO season finale (No Spoilers)

Having caught the pen-ultimate episode of DOCTOR WHO a week ago, I set the DVR to make sure that I didn’t miss the season finale. I mean considering the cliff-hanger I had to find out if we were going to see..well, I better not say!

I don’t want to give anything away, but the show wrapped up quite a bit in that extra-length episode and set things up for possible future stories. We had a mix of both happy and sad endings, with several of the Doctor’s former companions returning home or going off on their own. We may also have seen the last of one of the Time Lord’s most persistent enemies (but I personally doubt it). Both these episodes were a delight for old and new fans, as they put the spotlight on each of the companions, giving each several nice scenes individually and with the Doctor. I’m not going to confuse you or spoil anything by telling you who they may have been.

David Tennant, the Tenth Doctor (not of course counting Peter Cushing, who portrayed him in two films, essentially adaptations of stories from the series), has become one of my favorites. He’s certainly the most flirtatious, and as the last Time Lord possibly the most driven. Given the events of this last episode and things revealed about his character, it will be interesting to see where the Doctor goes next and who his next companion may be.

I know the official BBC site probably gives away some of the events of next season, so I purposely kept away. On the other hand, I wasn’t as familiar with some of the companions as I was with others, so I cheated by peeking at the Wikipedia entries on several.

Now, I can’t wait for the next season to see what space & time hold in store for the Doctor and whomever he invites into the TARDIS.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Not much of a surprise, but....


We all knew that Manny Ramirez was not a happy camper in Beantown, but I was still surprised by the deal. I don't even have a clue who Jason Bay is?

On the other hand, I suppose it makes more sense then the proposed trade with the Marlins, which never made sense to me from Manny's position. The guy is used to playing in a major market, and LA certainly fits him better than the swamps down in Florida.
While we're on the topic of Boston vs. California, don't even bring up the Angels! I've been afraid to listen the the sports report for the past week. *sigh* Only the Sox being ahead of the Damned Yankees (if only by a single game) keeps me from jumping head first into the arroyo.
Maybe I can be distracted by the Olympics starting next week. Nothing like watching folks in speedoes to keep you from watching BASEBALL TONIGHT.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Do I really need another blog?

As if I don't already love ranting on my own two blogs I just received an invitation from Alex Ness to take part in his new comics review page, POPLITIKO. Alex and the others taking part are far better at sounding smart than I could ever pretend, so you might want to skim my stuff and read folks who are doing this much better than I could ever hope.

The site has just started so please be patient while we try and get our act together.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some more about SDCC '08!







For those who care about this sort of thing I'm going to quickly list some of the stuff I saw and did in San Diego. This list is in no particular order.

1) Where the hell were all the Klingons? You'd think with a new STAR TREK film getting so much buzz that I'd have seen more than three and those downstairs at the local fan club tables. While we're on the subject, I saw a number of Federation officers & crew around, wearing outfits from just about every incarnation of the show, but not a single Vulcan. I'm sure there were some around.


2) The "Quick Draw" challenge this year was as much fun as usual. Regulars Sergio Aragones & Scott Shaw!, along with moderator/quiz master Mark Evanier were joined this year by political cartoonist & creator of MOTHER GOOSE & GRIMM, Mike Peters. It seemed that Peters was having more fun than just about anybody and was laughing at all the suggestions. Both Peters & Shaw! won individual rounds, but Sergio continues to be the fastest 'gag' cartoonist I have ever seen.
3) It seemed that many of the Jokers were trying to recycle their Jack Nicholson/standard comics appearance, but smearing the lipstick to get that Heath Ledger look. I think I've mentioned this before, but this weekend (when I have time) I'm going to download the photo of my favorite Joker.

4) It's been twelve years since my last SDCC and the number of anime/manga cosplay folks have multiplied beyond anything I could have anticipated. Some young ladies, were basically going for the Japanese school girl look, but many had cleverly designed & made outfits that truly resembled their characters.

5) Considering the large number of Jedi/Seth/Storm-troopers that were running around there were only a couple of Darth Vaders in the Hall. One guy was easily 6'5" and looked amazing on Saturday.

6) Zombies were all over the place, along with a few '30 Days of Night' style vampires. Some folks looked like they spent about five minutes with white greasepaint and some fake blood, while others appeared to have been made up by professionals or spent quite a bit for the scars, wounds and gaping sores.

7) Saw two Comedians & one Rorschach on Saturday, but didn't recognize any of the other WATCHMEN characters. Of course, I probably wouldn't know Silk Spectre if she walked by. Seeing the Owlship on the exhibit floor was way cool! It's still hard for me to decide, from the trailers, how good the movie will be or how popular.

8) I know some folks don't appreciate it, but I happen to enjoy Dick's Last Resort over on Fourth. It's loud, crowded and the wait staff go out of their way to insult you, but that is all part of the fun of the place. I had lunch there both on Friday & Saturday, with Dan joining me on my second venture there. The bartenders and other front staff were dressed in costumes or wearing comics related t-shirts, which added to the fun of the place.

9) The Capa-Alpha breakfast was a disappointment, unfortunately. There were only six of us present at the Marriott Gas Lamp Saturday morning. Bob Ingersoll, one of those who did show up and sort of organized it, said that he'd probably just have us meet at McDonald's next year if this was what we could expect. Besides Bob and there was Joe Colgan, his son Elric, Jeff Gelb and Mark Verheiden who joined us a bit later for coffee. I remember earlier K-a meets where we would take over several long tables with a close to a couple dozen pros, fans and family hanging out. Just to name drop a moment we saw Bruce Campbell, a friend of Mark's come in and he waved, plus just about half the writing staff of LOST wandered by. Also, pointed out by Mark, since none of the rest of us would have had a clue.

10) Does seeing Doug Benson (of VH1's BEST WEEK EVER & "Last Comic Standing") and Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog count as star-gazing?

11) I got to chat briefly with William Katt (best remembered for GREATEST AMERICAN HERO & as Della Street's son in the later incarnation of PERRY MASON) who signed copies of his new comic SPARKS (from Catastrophic Comics) and the GAH preview issue of that comic. Robert Culp was joining him at the CC booth, but he was constantly being photographed and signing stuff, so I didn't want to bother him. Both gentlemen looked good and seemed to be enjoying themselves.

12) Sadly, a twisted ankle and energy drain stopped me from going to the MST3-K reunion on Friday night. Fortunately, I was able to hobble over to the RiffTrax booth and get Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett & Kevin Murphy to sign a poster for me. I also have a photo of the three of them signing stuff & meeting with fans, plus one of Tom Servo & Crow that I'll have to post here.

There are other things I'd like to mention, along with some comments about some of the comics and goodies I picked up, but I'll save that for another time. This has gone on much longer than I intended.

Good night, Internet!

Monday, July 28, 2008

I survived San Diego Comic-Con '08 and don't have a lousy t-shirt!



Clovy said he had a great time at the convention and it was good feeding on his fans. (To be honest, this isn't my photo, but from the San Diego Union-Tribune site.)

Seriously, I'll have more to say on the convention and some of the things I did and didn't do later.

It was/is overwhelming and I don't know that it is still something I'd like to do every year at this point. Ask me again in six months when it's time to register for '09. :-)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

On the road to San Diego!

Later tonight Dan and I will be driving down to San Diego for the Convention. We both are pre-registered for the entire con but we also had to work today. I think hitting the place for the three-day weekend will be more than enough excitement for both of us.

This is Dan’s first SD con, although he has been to others in New York. He’s more into gaming and action figures and has a list of stuff he wants. Great place to get some of the con exclusive and limited edition figures he collects. I’m just looking forward to hooking up with some folks I haven’t seen in over a decade, meeting some creators and getting as much free stuff as I can fit into my bags every day.


I’ll be sharing some of my adventures with you next week and probably some photos when I have a chance. I’m taking my digital camera down with me and plan to get some pics of folks in costumes, company displays and, if I can make it, the MST3-K anniversary reunion panel tomorrow night. I know that there are going to be dozens of ‘journalists’ and hundreds of bloggers roaming around and I doubt I’ll have anything to report that you will not have already heard or seen, but I’ll definitely have something to say about the rumors and news that will be coming out of the four days.

I have only a limited list of panels that I’d like to attend, although there are a few conflicts. There are always cancellations and changes, so I’m not going to be heart-broken if something happens. The panels and interviews moderated by Mark Evanier are generally the ones I go out of my way for, but there are also some previews and panels going on at the same time that sound interesting. Personally, the Capa-Alpha breakfast on Saturday morning is really the ONLY event that I have to attend, no matter what. I have seen or kept in e-mail contact with a few of my former apa-mates the past decade, but far too few to be honest.


Unless you catch me in the background of some YouTube video this weekend, I’ll be “seeing” you next Monday. Have a safe & fun one whether you’re at the convention or not!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show Ep. 1 - Lick Poop

I have discovered the true reason for YouTube. Kiko will be at San Diego next week. To be having so much fun then! :-)

Remote viewing: what we are watching!


Among the usual stuff on Animal Planet, ID & TruTV we have actually been catching two of the 'reality' entertainment shows on the networks. We got into AMERICA 'S GOT TALENT last year and LAST COMIC STANDING two seasons ago.

AGT is, I admit, a knock off of AMERICAN IDOL open to jugglers and tap dancers, but we get a kick out of it. It has The Hoff, so how far wrong can you go? :-) It was actually won, last season by a ventriloquist which was a nice surprise, so anything is possible. The show is just getting ready to start the semi-finals in Las Vegas (as is LCS), so you might want to tune in and see some of the better of the acts that were sent on. Trust me, that you might be grateful to have missed some of the ...it's hard to call them 'performers', that were to bizarre or just bad to make the cut. If you think the auditions for Idol are horrendous, you haven't seen anything like this since the days of the old GONG SHOW.

Last night, as part of the segment to gain immunity from expulsion the comedians on LCS had to do some prop comedy. Most of them had never done it before, or used it very rarely. Naturally, on this show the only person they could get or afford to act as 'judge' was Carrot Top. Let's be honest here, I have never thought the guy was funny, even when he was this skinny, annoying kid who looked like one of your old roommates. Now the guy is just flat out scary!

Apparently, somewhere along the line as his career continued to go nowhere, but college gigs, the guy decided he would be funnier if he bulked up. He is now this steroid jacked old guy with flaming artificial orange, thinning hair with what appears to be tattooed (rather then real) eyebrows. I had to post the photo (okay, the guy from MASK being there is a joke) so you wouldn't think I was kidding. Do a Google image search, if you don't believe me!
Dude, it was way uncomfortable!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Countdown to San Diego!

Wow! Can it only a week until the San Diego convention begins? I'll be there starting next Friday and am really getting psyched about it. Already planning some of the panels I would like to attend, especially a few moderated by Mark Evanier.

Even back in the early days of the convention (speaking from my own experience in 1975 & '76) there always seemed to be several panels, films or signings going on at the same time. You had to skip the Kirby signing if you wanted to hear Steranko or watch an episode of ASTRO BOY.
I have a list of comics I'd like to pick up to fill-in gaps, but also want to have enough to buy a few items from the folks self-publishing or from small publishers. I remember from when I was hitting the con pretty regularly that there were a lot of freebies and I hope to get a bag full of goodies (or several) in my wanderings.
It's been a while since I've been to SD. Anybody recommend a decently priced place to grab lunch within walking distance of the con? I know there was a small ribs/bbq place that was popular, but it recently was involved in a fire and has closed. Are the wings at Hooters really that good? :-)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Four Color Fiend: some quick thoughts

I'll try to get in some reviews later this week, perhaps tomorrow. I'm in the middle of a few projects at work so don't have much free time. However, I wanted to mention a couple of things from books I read this past weekend.

SECRET INVASION continues to kick butt! I have yet to read a single issue, of the main series or tie-ins, that has disappointed me. I want to mention both CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI-13 and SI: FRONT LINE as two books that present different perspectives of the invasion. The first shows us how the Skrulls seek to capture the magic of Marvel-Earth, while the second series presents former Daily Bugle reporter Ben Urich seeing the invasion from the ground, so to speak. As he did in his appearance in the MARVELS series, Urich is the common man caught in events shaped by forces beyond 'human', he gives us a street level perspective missing from the main super-hero books.

I even picked up the current issue of AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE, which ties in with SI and found that I wasn't totally lost despite the presence of dozens of characters I had never encountered previously. As with the MS. MARVEL and two AVENGER titles, it remains to be seen if I'll continue to buy the books after SI, but there is a good chance I might at this point.

I'll try to have more stuff in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Constrictor (Robot Wars Battles)

Remember a few years ago when this and Battle Bots were so popular? I get such a kick out of this silly stuff.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Four Color Fiend: Bunch of stuff



Since I'm not going to be logging in from Friday - Monday I wanted to mention some comics I just read, before I forget.



SECRET INVASION continues to be fascinating. The two Avenger titles and the first issue Young Avengers/Runaway mini are all interesting and much easier to figure out than the DC FINAL CRISIS title. I really like how they are using the Avenger books to explain how various heroes were replaced and what the Skrull queen was doing before she replaced Spider-Woman.

The YA/Runaway book is filled with characters I've never seen before but enough is explained (via dialogue and captions) so a new reader didn't feel completely lost. Don't know that I would go back and pick up the regular series in which they appear, but we'll see how many survive the next few months.

I'm glad that I also picked up MS. MARVEL the past few months since that ties in completely with SI. I can understand why so many folks spoke highly of the book. Finally, INCREDIBLE HERCULES is a lot of fun and the interplay of the gods is really good. I'd definitely picking up earlier issues of this title.

As for non-Marvel books, I continue to enjoy the TANGENT: REIGN OF SUPERMAN mini-series. Not sure if I want to see the characters from that world continue to interact with the Earth-One heroes when this wraps up. Of course, it appears that not all of them will be around come the last issue anyway at this point.

My major problem is that I find it odd that Superman-Tangent can so easily overcome the power of the the GL rings, but has been stopped by the power of the Tangent-GL's lantern. Also, odd that a character so powerful would utilize any super-powered beings for his purposes. It doesn't appear that he trusts them to any degree, so why not simply do away with or imprison all of them. Then again, I guess the book would be boring and if you couldn't use all the Tangent versions of DCU characters at least for a few scenes. Also, I don't think all of the half dozen characters appearing in the back-up story about the Nightwing agency are going to survive until the end either. Never trust mysterious women who pick you up in a limo! Who hasn't discovered that for themselves?

If you are a HELLBOY fan you might want to pick up B.P.R.D.: The Ectoplasmic Man. This one-shot comic tells the origin of Johann Kraus, a character who will be featured in the second HELLBOY film out later this month. Johann is an interesting character and it's nice to finally discover how he became encased in his suit. Not sure how he'll be introduced in the new movie.



Oh, and it was a HELLBOY PVC that I got at ALA on Sunday, since somebody asked

Monday, June 30, 2008

Four-color Fiend: What the...?!


Somebody want to explain to me what the hell is going on in FINAL CRISIS? For the past year I've been reading COUNTDOWN and various tie-ins, the INFINITE CRISIS and OMAC PROJECT stuff, plus the TPB collections of 52. In spite of all this I find that I'm clueless about a lot of the things going on. I'm not even going to mention SPOILERS because I don't know if I'm giving anything away at this point.

The cop/detective that has been narrating part of the story is apparently Darkseid and some of the Green Lantern Corps are actually his former flunkies. He doesn't know who he is, at least not until the end of the second issue of FI, and even there he seems unsure.

Oh and it looks like Barry Allen is back from or forward into the past of whatever time or world we are viewing. Don't even bother to ask about all that crap happening in Japan with some guy calling himself Mister Miracle, who has changed his race.

And the new Black Racer (who I have to assume is the scary guy on long blades) is just too creepy. Of course, folks made light of Kirby's version, so I guess DC decided he had to be more extra-worldly.

The thing is it is well-drawn and nicely, written, but I still don't know that I like it or where it is going. I mean there is some point, isn't there?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Giant Pile of Comics Attack! Part One.

She does this much better than I ever could!

Hail Eris!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

very creepy, disturbing children's cartoon, banned from TV

This is from Will Vinton's ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN, made back in 1985. There's a reason you don't see it much.

A quick Four-Color Fiend

Real quick F-CF for stuff I picked up last week. There may be a few SPOILERS.

Why did I stick it out through SALVATION RUN? I guess I expected something to happen of note and after four issues I figured I might as well get the final three. It was a bad mistake & a waste of money. It really resolves nothing, and the two of the deaths are of characters certainly more interesting than the dozens of third-raters that escape. Monsieur Mallah and The Brain were fascinating, if sometimes badly used villains created for the original DOOM PATROL. Their relationship was odd, but when handled well quite lovely. I’m going to miss them. Some of the last issue dialogue, plus a ‘house ad’ indicates that this was a lead in to one of the FINAL CRISIS books, none of which I’m going to be buying. I have been suckered too many times the past year by DC. Time to drop most of their titles.


On the other hand, I haven’t been disappointed by any of Marvel’s SECRET INVASION books. From the central title to the books featuring Captains Marvel & Britain and Ms. Marvel, the two main Avenger titles and surprisingly INCREDIBLE HERCULES I have enjoyed each issue. I have hopes for the FANTASTIC FOUR tie-in and may be buying some of the other one-shots along the way. For me the Marvel books have been consistently fun, unlike many of the COUNTDOWN books which seemed to be out only go nowhere.

As for some plot points, I don’t really think that Tony Stark is a Skrull, but rather that the Skull queen is playing with his head as she impersonates Spider-Woman. I didn’t read the Civil War events, but think it would really be a kick in the balls of the fans to suddenly pull a switch. Of course, it would make old time Iron Man fans happy since they could ignore the illegal and immoral stuff Stark did, since it wasn’t really him. It remains to be seen, of course. I’m a bit confused on some books as to whom some minor characters may be, but the writers and/or editors are giving me enough information for the most part so I’m not totally lost. In the case of the Hercules book, I think I’m going to go back and pick up the half dozen prior issues, maybe at San Diego. I also plan on purchasing some of the Civil War books or TPBs so I can try to catch up a bit.


I may have a bit more to say on other books later tonight.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Review: The Bribe by William P. Wood

This is the latest Joe Bob Briggs review. They aren't posting them, or much of anything else on the site, but I want to finish off the final batch of titles they sent along.
*******************************
The Bribe by William P. Wood
Published by Leisure Books; ISBN - 0843957034

When a controversial California Congressman and a cab driver are killed in front of an apartment building, where the Representative lives with his mistress, things may not be as simple as initially thought. After a possible robbery or car-jacking gone wrong are ruled out rumors begin circulating. Finally, Homeland Security and the White House announce that this may be a terrorist act. Things quickly become more difficult for two Sacramento homicide detectives and the Deputy District Attorney.

As the investigation continues, Detective Terry Nye and his partner, Rose Tafoya discovers that the FBI is not being totally forthcoming with certain information. They find on their own that the Congressman has been taking bribes and that his announcement that he was calling for legislation to stop this type of thing may have led to his murder. From the Congressman’s greedy wife, who may have political ambitions of her own, to his secretive head of staff and a shady, lobbyist with ties to the current D.A. there is no shortage of suspects.

Wood alternates the narrative from that of the detectives to that of Deputy D.A. Cooper as each begins looking into the career and private life of the dead Congressman. The trail leads from the former haunts of the one-time military hero turned politician to the halls of Congress in D.C. and back again. His mistress fears for her own life and everybody from the wife to the Congressman’s ‘business associates’ are hiding things from the police. Barred by the FBI from investigating certain aspects of the case, Cooper, Nye & Tafoya must follow the limited leads they do have before things spiral out of control and the case is taken out of their hands.

With a dozen different suspects and the personal lives of the lead characters to follow Wood doesn’t make it easy for the reader. Some aspects of the case go back several decades and it becomes obvious that, just as the detectives, we aren’t privy to every angle. As Joe Bob used to say in his video reviews, there’s way too much plot getting in the way of the story. I don’t want to accuse writer Wood of padding, but I think the tale could have been told in a swifter fashion.

Overall a good book with a successful outcome, and I enjoyed the digs along the way at the current political climate and jabs at the ‘war on terror.’ While I liked the main characters and would like to see them return in another book, I think the author might want to pare things down the next time around. I believe that choosing to focus on either Cooper or the two detectives would help things along.

Two and a half stars.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A few more Four Color thoughts!

This is just a quick follow-up on my post yesterday on comics.

In FINAL CRISIS #1 we see some heroes (that I either don’t know or remember) ambushed and seemingly killed by Mirror Master & Doctor Light. During this we have what I think is supposed to be joking banter between the two hinting at MM procuring some ‘erectile dysfunction’ drugs for the Doctor. This takes place while the villains stand over and further abuse the bodies of the fallen heroes, which would seem bad enough. However, given the fact that DL has been shown to be an abusive and unrepentant rapist & murderer, why are ED jokes supposed to be funny or even appropriate? I was taken aback at the time, but forgot to mention it yesterday while trying to cover several books. Probably another reason why FC may not be on my ‘buy list’ for more than one more issue.

I don’t seem to be the only one who feels this way, although perhaps not for the same reasons. In the reviews I’ve read and seen over on YouTube the general consensus appears to be negative towards FC. If this is what we can expect from DC then I’ll be spending my money on more Marvel and independent titles.

I picked up the hardcover edition of SECRET WARS at the library this past weekend and am really enjoying it. Besides being a good book on its own merits it explains why some of the heroes feel the way they do towards Nick Fury in the current SECRET INVASION storyline. I also really like how Bendis writes Peter Parker and Matt Murdock in the series, but wasn’t thrilled by his Logan, at least in the first couple of issues.

That’s it for now!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Four Color and More!

Those five days in Brooklyn and doing extra-help work in another library threw me off a bit. I’m way behind on reviews and other things so I’m going to try to catch up, with minor SPOILERS. Let’s face it, almost nobody reads my reviews anyway and I generally do it for my own amusement. Don’t mind me I’m not in the best of moods to begin with.


After all the money and time I invested in COUNTDOWN and related titles, I didn’t expect that DC was going to flip me the bird with the first issue of FINAL CRISIS. What the hell is going on? Is that Tor? That sure as heck is Kamandi running up on him later. I’m assuming that The Question and others do not see the armored guy on skis hanging over the crime scene, right? Seems at least some of the New Gods are not dead, simply hanging out here kidnapping kids and turning them into red-eyed fanged little creeps. I really don’t have a clue and am only going to give FC one more issue to make me believe. I’m also going to keep my promise to myself and not buy a single ‘Sightings’ tie-in.


On the other hand, the latest issues of NEW AVENGERS and MS. MARVEL keep the heat on with SECRET INVASION. We still don’t know who all the Skrulls may be, but do learn some things about those ‘70s Avengers who were held captive. Some folks aren’t too happy with a certain ‘dead’ hero showing up, but I don’t believe that is really him. On the other hand, it looks like we will be seeing the some familiar characters showing up in the MARVEL 1985 series. Wow! Talk about fanboy fantasy come true? What would you do if you found out that Doctor Doom & the Red Skull had moved in down the street? Have to thank writer Mark Millar and artist Tommy Lee Edwards for bringing us a wonderful fantasy for those of us who did believe in such things as kids.

Finally, I want to recommend DEAD, SHE SAID from IDW. Writer Steve Niles knows his dead folks, as the creator of 30 DAYS OF NIGHT, and here he’s teamed with artist Bernie Wrightson . Low rent P.I. Coogan has had a bad night. He doesn’t remember much about it, except that somewhere along the line he got killed and he’s not happy. When he is found over the torn apart body of the person who may have been responsible he has a lot of explaining to do to the cops. Wrightson inks his own pencils here and it shows. Damn, he’s good!

On the TV watching front, I caught promos for two new summer replacement shows that caught my interest. ABC’s WIPEOUT is a total rip-off of a Japanese game show, the name of which escapes me. One of the cable networks was showing an English-dubbed version, along the lines of IRON CHEF, where you really didn’t know how accurate the translation may have been. Of course that wasn’t the point. The goal of the show, as is that of the American rip-off, is to have folks attempt to get across this enormous water bound obstacle course. The ABC site calls it a ‘reality show’, but that term has long ago stopped really meaning anything of the sort.


Also from ABC is “I Survived a Japanese Game Show”, where a group of ten Americans are flown over to do exactly that. Or rather, they must compete in the stunts and competitions that are actually used in those shows, but they won’t actually compete against Japanese, but each other.

Hard to believe that the game show concept was created here, isn’t it? The first, “Uncle Jim's Question Bee", was broadcast in 1941, unless the British beat us to it. It seems that the ‘successful’ shows of the past few years are all adaptations of shows from Europe and now Japan.
I think it’s time for Donna and I to breakdown and get that DVR from Cox.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New links and a few other things

I just added a new link over on The Right that you might find fun.

Tabloia! is from Chris Wisnia, who loves comics, big monsters, the old WEEKLY WORLD NEWS and other cool stuff. From 'Dick Hammer' and 'Doris Danger' to 'Dr. DeBunko' and the weekly TABLOIA tabloid you will find a comic or tall-tale to your liking. Chris has contributions from such well known comic artists as Jill Thompson, Sergio Aragones, and Sam Keith, plus Silver Age greats like John Severin & Dick Ayers.

Not going to do regular comic reviews this week, as I'm trying to get caught up with work stuff before Friday. Donna and I will be in Brooklyn until next Wednesday (5/28) and I have a few reports that have to get done.

I do want to recommend that folks pick up the SECRET INVASION series and various tie-in stories from Marvel. Unlike DC's COUNTDOWN (which I liked better than some folks), the SI story involves an alien menace, but sticks closer to Earth. While heroes & villains were getting offed in the DC series you always had the feeling that things would eventually be worked out and with probably few long term effects. In SI you get a sense of real paranoia as the heroes don't know who to trust, which means the reader doesn't know either.

I have to give my thanks to Marvel editorial for giving the reader a 'what has gone before' page each issue. It allowed me to pick up several books which had not been reading, but not feel totally lost. The last issue of the just ended CAPTAIN MARVEL mini, latest issues of MS. MARVEL and NEW AVENGERS all tie in and really should be checked out. The second issue of the main SI book is really good and reveals that some but not apparently all of the heroes who were on the crashed Skrull ship are indeed Skrull's themselves. At least one hero we thought dead seems to be quite alive. I'm going to hold off on judging the SI: Fantastic Four series until the next issue. Lots of things are happening and I'm not familiar enough with the current FF continuity to be sure. On the other hand, I love when the Torch & Thing are the central focus of a story.

If you are not reading this series, at least pick up the main title as I don't think you'll be disappointed. Make Mine Marvel! (At least for now)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Popcorn for One: IRON MAN (with some spoilers)


A friend gave me some ‘free passes’ for the Edwards chain of movie theatres. I figured it was a good time to start using them, so I caught an early Friday afternoon showing of IRON MAN at the local theatre.

I’m sure if you are interested you have already caught the movie or are doing so this weekend. I don’t want to do a complete review, since there are plenty of those around if you are interested. There’s probably nothing I could add to what the professionals critics and other fans have to say. These are just a few comments about my general feelings on the film.

The movie opens with Tony Stark (played wonderfully by Robert Downey, Jr.) being caught in the ambush of American troops with whom he is traveling. The film then winds back to show us what occurred the previous 36 hours leading up to the assault. We get a feel for how Stark goes about his daily routines, seemingly not caring that his corporation is building weapons that could fall into the wrong hands. He’s an electronics genius who has used his abilities to build his father’s company into one of the largest of its kind. Despite his wealth and his playboy lifestyle, it is apparent that he is lonely, with few people with whom he feels totally comfortable.

The Tony Stark of the comics, at least until the recent events of ‘Civil War’, was very close to how Downey portrays him. Brilliant, flawed and only allowing himself a few close confidents. In the current Marvel Universe, he doesn’t even have that, but the Stark of the movie is a better person, at least by the films end.

The cast is very good, with some wonderful actors playing roles in what is after all a ‘super-hero’/action film. Not what you would expect from Downey, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeff Bridges, but all take their parts seriously without the scene chewing you often see actors doing in these sorts of films. Too many actors feel they can ham it up or just walk through these movie roles, which they seem to feel are beneath them. Than why take the role? Bills piling up?

Stan Lee, who co-created the character, has a nice cameo that made me laugh. If you stick around through the credits you’ll find Samuel L. Jackson showing up as another Marvel character, who hints that we might be seeing several other Marvel characters appearing along with Iron Man at some point. If you have read the Avengers comics you may either enjoy or being angered by the fact that Jarvis isn’t the Alfred-style butler we have become used to in the series. Also, an off-hand remark by Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes (played by Terrence Howard), Stark’s military liaison hints at yet another hero making an appearance in a future sequel.

Given the film’s success and comments already made by Downey, it probably won’t come as a surprise to see an IRON MAN franchise being announced shortly.

If you haven’t guessed by now I highly recommend the movie. Just stay through the credits for the fanboy moment!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Keeping track of all this crap...er, collectibles!


I have been using the online database, COMIC COLLECTOR LIVE for several months to try to keep track of my comics. Since it is free and constantly updated I have found it pretty decent, but with a few quirks.

If you've been around for a bit you'll remember that I used to utilize another free online database, ComicBookdb.com but the owner of that site eventually gave up on it, leaving a lot of us with dated & uncorrectable files. Just the other day I found that someone else has taken over the site name and is now providing a similar free service. This time, however, they carry ads and you can buy & sell, just as CCL does.

I'm now inputting my collection into both databases and finding that they each have problems. The main one being that I appear to be the only person to have collected certain titles, so now have to go through the hassle of getting approval to place them into the site.
I have found CBDB has some titles that CCL doesn't have and vice versa, but in some cases only individual issues rather than an entire book's run. (For example, CBDB lists ULTRA KLUTZ but only four of the 31 issues, meaning that I have to input the remainder.) Also with CCL, you have to go through a 'voting' process where majority rule can actually disallow your input. In most cases, you have to have to provide a link to another database or company website to prove the title actually exists! I'll be trying to put some items into CBDB this weekend and let you know how difficult or easy that will be.
Quick update: if a title is a one-shot CBDB makes it hard to add unless the person who originally put it in the database listed it as a #1, since you have to place an issue number in the databox.
I plan on picking up my bi-weekly haul of stuff at Nuclear Comics tomorrow, along with some Silver Age bags. I have some older books that have been stored in the same bags since I purchased them. Eventually, I'm going to have to buy some regular/current bags & boards since I left what I had back in Brooklyn with Dan & Christina.
By the way, I'm going to be boarding at Michael's in San Diego along with Dan, who is flying out for the convention. It should be pretty interesting, as this is his first SD and I haven't been there since '96. I'm sure to rant more on all this between now and late July, so bear with me!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Four-Color Fiend: The Mighty New Avenging Skrulls


There might be a few things given away so we will start with

S
P
O
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L
E
R
S

I’m not sure in which order they were published, since I picked them both up this past weekend, but I want to recommend both MIGHTY AVENGERS #12 and NEW AVENGERS #40. Given the stories I would recommend reading MA #12 first, as that will make the end of NA #40 even more of a shocker. Another thing is that even if you have not been reading previous issues these books were fairly easy to follow as they are more tightly woven into SECRET INVASION, so if you read the first issue of that title you’ll be just fine. Heck, neither of the Avenger teams really shows up except for few panels in either book this month.

MA shows us what Nick Fury has been doing since he last appeared. Here is a guy who just wanted to settle down after a life of action, but finds that events are happening which he cannot ignore. When he discovers that someone he trusts is not who they appeared to be he begins investigating. Using his own skills and some ‘borrowed’ S.H.I.E.L.D. tech, he uncovers the fact that there are Skrulls masquerading as humans and super-heroes. He turns to one of the few people he believes he can still count on, but the last page shows that he is still unsure about who may be a Skrull and who is still human. Fan sites are filled with folks guessing what the red & blue circled photos indicate.

In NA, we get a history of the Skrull Empire from the time that it was visited by a group of heroes more than a decade ago. Even then plans were being put in place that would lead to the invasion we see taking place in the current Marvel universe. We learn who some of the Skrulls leading this conspiracy are and why the Earth is such an important target. If you have been reading the SECRET INVASION series or other tie-ins you will be as shocked by the final page as I was.

Brian Michael Bendis wrote both of these books and as the driving force behind the SI event he was a perfect choice for these books, as they present just about all you need to know on background. Unlike at DC where you could ignore many of the COUNTDOWN spin-offs and still follow events, I think that I will be buying a number of these SI related issues, or at least skimming them at the shop to keep up with things.

I’m giving both these Three out of four stars.