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 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….


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.








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!









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.