Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

christmas commercial



Makes you tear up, right? Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Four-Color Fiend - DC's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents



A demonstration that you should not publish something to YouTube without previewing it. I had already deleted the original and did not realise I was repeating myself.

Doesn't change my opinion of the book, but I should have presented it better.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Four-Color Fiend #1 - comic reviews



My first attempt to do reviews on YouTube. What a geek!

Friday, December 03, 2010

CATACLYSM SONG WoW Kanye West Runaway Parody



I'm not a gamer, but I thought this was pretty clever.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Four-Color Fiend: DC's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS (a waste and an insult)



(WARNING & SPOILER ALERT: Much of the information in this piece is from memory so I may have some dates and names wrong. I hope that you'll forgive me and put it off as me ranting freely. I also give away the entire plot of the first issue of the DC book, in hopes that none of you will pay money for it.)

The cover you see reprinted was the 'alternate' cover of the first issue of DC's revival of the classic T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS. The original characters drawn and co-created by Wally Wood for the Tower Comic group. I loved the original series and having lost two earlier collections of the books, went and re-collected them along with the solo titles of DYNAMO & NO-MAN. I also have copies of the related U.N.D.E.R.S.E.A AGENT, and even the short-lived (as they all were) war title, FIGHT THE ENEMY. I totally loved the company when they were in existence and can still enjoy those books today.

Over the past several decades a number of companies attempted to bring these characters back, partially as it became widely believed that the characters were in the 'public domain'. I recall an issue of the old COMICS READER "summer preview" that listed well over a dozen TAgent books (as part of a running gag). When the dust settled (and I found myself with about a dozen T.A. issues both authorized and apparently not), the characters went into comics limbo with only occasional rumors about their return. Things actually seemed close when DC appeared to finally have the license, but that joy quickly faded and nothing appear to come of it.

The original agents of THUNDER (I refuse to keep typing those periods) were heroes. They were men & women who dedicated themselves to the idea that the world was a good place and could be better. They worked for the United Nations, when many people still believed in the promise of that organization and the concept of a world working together for common good. It was either a more innocent time or many of us were just too stupid to look at the reality of the world to come. The stories in the books were simple and action packed. Most were 12-pages or less and there was an attempt at continuity but the writers were not slaves to it. Plus, unlike most of the super-heroes of the time, some of these brave heroes died. They would sacrifice themselves to protect thier friends or innocents. Apparently it was only the deaths that registered with the current folks writing and editing the current DC incarnation of the characters.

I can't remember exactly how many agents die in the first issue since I stopped caring after the third or fourth. Did these characters even have names? They appeared in uniforms that were based on those of the original TAgents, but we didn't know who was wearing them. Frankly, that seemed to be the point. We didn't have to care, since all the 'heroes' that died (and we saw on the cover) were (if I understood the dialogue correctly)losers that nobody would miss anyway. That seemed to be the recruiting program. "Your life sucks, so why not let us give you powers that will end your useless life even sooner. Oh, we're too important to put them on ourselves. Why do you ask?"

In the original series, a drawback in the costume that empowered the super-speed character Lightning, caused the character to age rapidly. Each time the agent put on the suit and went into action he shortened his lifespan by months or even years. Now it seems that all the costumes/equipment has this same flaw. Now if we are supposed to be introduced in future issues to characters we are supposed to care about, than writer Nick Spencer has wasted his efforts. I don't care enough to buy future issues and can't see why anyone else would.

The book opens with two unidentified woman having lunch, which we soon discover is taking place in a building undersiege. Then we see some recognizable heroes (because of their uniforms) fighthing some armored thugs with spider logos. Old time T.A. fans will know who these are and newer fans will soon learn they don't care either. SPIDER is a group that, along with several others including aliens, fought the agents of THUNDER throughout their run. The only reason this organization existed was because super-spies always have arch-foes to battle (i.e. James Bond vs. SMERSH; CONTROL vs CHAOS). The current incarnation of this group is apparently so large and disorganized that they are not only fighting THUNDER but other divisions within their own organization. Do the Marvel lawyers know about this? Aren't ATLAS & HYDRA over at that universe doing pretty much the same thing. Guess Spencer has been reading "Secret Warriors" the last few months. We get a dozen pages of characters talking about how the people in the uniforms are doomed and they don't seem to care, so why should we.

I'm an aging fan boy who is not the market for this book. Frankly, I don't know who it is aimed at. Old T.Agent fans like me are not going to embrace it and I don't know why younger fans, who have no clue about these characters would either. The only half-way decent thing in the book is the art by CAFU (really???). S/he makes the characters identifiable, but since you don't care who they are it seems a waste of his/her/their talent.

Did I get around to mentioning that the book S*U*C*K*E*D? Pardon me while I dig out my yellowed copies of the REAL T.Agents and have some fun.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It all looks funny!


Can't recall if I mentioned this before, but I'm having trouble adjusting to our big HDTV set. Don't get me wrong...I love it, but the shows look odd. Not just that the characters are 'bigger' but even shows I have been watching for years suddenly take on a different look than they had on our old TV. Sometimes I can't even concentrate on the story as I'm checking out how strange everything appears. Boy, we do love Hawaii Five-O on the new set.

Also, nothing beats zombies eating a horse in HD, huh? I absolutely love THE WALKING DEAD on AMC. With some minor changes, which haven't really bothered me, the show has made a perfect transition from the comics. Nice choice of casting for the leads, with a balance of new and familiar faces. Even those actors I know from other roles are doing good jobs in WD, allowing me to accept them. Writer, co-creator Robert Kirkman warned readers in the book's letter column that we should not expect a page-by-page copy of his work. It is obvious the producers respect the book enough not to "F" with what was already solid work. A couple of folks at work are watching the show and keep asking me about what to expect. I hate being Mr. Spoiler, but have told them somethings that happened in the book that may or may not be reflected in the show.

Don't know if I should mention this in a 'family' blog (did I ever ask for proof of age here?) but Donna happened on this program run late night here, called Shop Erotic. Basically an hour of QVC-style infomercial for sex aids!! OMG!!! The funny thing is that Donna discovered that it was also broadcast back in NY, but not on a station we were getting. Imagine what we have missed!!

All probably more than any of you needed to know, but I found it pretty amusing.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

STUNNING - 'I REMEMBER, SO I'M VOTING, AND NOT REPUBLICAN.'



There is still time to vote today. Even if you are not voting Democrat, you should not let the GOP take control.

Walking Dead review



Not a whole heck of a lot I can add to Jeremy's review of the show. I think he nails it pretty well.

I if you already read WALKING DEAD you'll enjoy seeing how Robert Kirkman's characters are portrayed, but you don't have to be familiar with the title to enjoy what the AMC production is doing. They introduce the characters nicely and I can't wait to see how they deal with Rick's son, Carl. In the book the boy goes through some serious trauma and is much more mature than a kid his age should ever be. I hope they keep true to the series in that extant, even if they do make some allowances for series television. Plus, I wouldn't mind some surprises and not always be a step or two ahead of the show.

On a side note, never saw it on our Cox system but Donna & I were pretty taken back to discover a show called "Shop Erotic" on DirectTV. Sure don't recall seeing it back in New York with we had our dish. Do people really use those things?!?!?!?!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Does Comic Continuity Alienate Potential New Readers? (1 of 2)



Personally, I think the short answer is YES. On the other hand, a good writer can make the book accessible to a new readers. Sadly, many of the current DC writers & editors seem to have forgotten this. It's great that Marvel includes a 'what has gone before' page, but it should not be necessary.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Time for cutting back!


Maybe it was bound to happen anyway, but the upcoming move is causing me to rethink my comics buying habits. For those of you who know me, this is something that occurs periodically so it probably is not a surprise.

Even if the move was not going to happen I find myself in one of those periods where I am buying titles more out of habit than enjoyment. When that happens you are moving our of comics fan into collector mentality and that has never really been where I see myself. I'm not putting down those who do collect to keep their runs of a title complete or have writers & artists that they follow anywhere. Except for a Ditko period, I've never really been that type of fan. (And yes, I do still have dozens of issues of misc. Ditko stuff from series I never would have considered picking up otherwise.)

The last Friday I realised that I had picked up my bi-weekly bag of books and discovered that I had only read about half of the previous bag. We're not talking hundreds of books, since I often pick up fewer than a dozen titles each time I visit Nuclear. It also probably helps that I never remember to bring my list of titles and that the shop's owner sometimes has his part-timers filling the subscription boxes. I think they play favorites, since it is not uncommon to find that I have missed an issue, only when I get home and begin cataloging.

Off the top of my head I can think of a half-dozen titles from both DC & Marvel that I'll be dropping, along with all the Project Superpowers & Green Hornet books from Dynamite. Just don't care anymore. I think the DC & Marvel events (that oddly enough got me back into reading comics) have finally dulled my enjoyment, since it is pretty established that both companies already have plans for further sales boosting storylines. Time to get out while the getting is good and consider picking up TPB collections down the road.

Keeping on my list? The Doctor Who titles from IDW; Walking Dead, Vikings & Haunt (for the time being) from Image; Usagi Yojimbo, any Groo mini-series and just about all the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. titles and tie-ins from Dark Horse. Finally, American Vampire from DC's Vertigo imprint These are all books I look forward to reading and grab as soon as a new issue arrives.

I can't think of a single DCU book at the moment that I would miss at all, and certainly nothing I wouldn't enjoy just as much in TPB at some point. There are a couple of Marvel titles I like, but except for any that involve the Agents of Atlas or Hercules (with Amadeus Cho) I think I'll be dumping those along with the DCs. I'll let you know exactly what I'll be getting when I know myself.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Superhero Rewind: Justice League New Frontier Review



I actually have not gotten around to watching this myself, but really enjoyed the overview. Hope you like it as well.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Die Hard Review (funny movie review)



One of the best action films and the one that made Bruce Willis a star. You can watch this anytime and still love it. Hey, subscribe to the SchmoesKnows YouTube channels already!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Playing Catch Up!


I talked about the up-coming move over on Parting Shots, so I won't bore you with that. On the other hand, I haven't posted here for a while so felt I should mention a few things so you didn't think I'd forgotten you all. :-)

I have hit one of those points where I think it is time to start cutting back on comics. This time though I'm not stopping completely as I did before, simply because it is always expensive, time-consuming and a royal pain to have to get all those back issues. I'm just going to be cutting down to probably less than a dozen titles, all of which I really enjoy. Naturally, that means that just about all DC & Marvel titles will be scratched. I think the 'events', which brought me back into collecting again, have finally driven me back out. Anybody interested in a really good price on issues of SECRET INVASION & BLACKEST NIGHT??

Once I have my list pared down I'll let you know what the final count will be and what I just can't live without. I can already tell you that USAGI YOJIMBO & THE WALKING DEAD are staying on my 'pull list' at Nuclear.

Finally saw the film QUARANTINE the other day, which I had recorded weeks ago. It was pretty good, despite being a bit predictable. You get the general idea from the trailer and if you have seen enough horror films there aren't many surprises they can pull on you. I understand that are working on a sequel to the film, moving the action to an airport terminal. Not sure how interested I would be, plus John Erick Dowdle (the director and one of the screenwriters) isn't involved in the second film. He is directing M. Night Shyamalan' DEVIL, which looks pretty creepy.

BBC America is rebroadcasting the Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant episodes of DOCTOR WHO in order. I've been recording and watching the ones I missed originally and several that I enjoyed the first time around. I can't wait for the next season with Matt Smith as the Doctor. Neil Gaiman is writing a story for the series and I can't wait to see what he has in store for the Time Lord & Amy.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Popcorn for One: INCEPTION


After seeing this film I want to publically apologize to Leonardo DiCaprio for laughing at his death scene at the end of TITANIC. Sure it was funny then and worth hitting rewind several times, but now I have to admit the guy is a damn good actor. Sorry, Leo!

INCEPTION is probably one of the best films I have seen this year. It might not have hit the emotional points that TOY STORY 3 did, but Christopher Nolan’s film is a solid piece of moviemaking. The guy who saved the BATMAN franchise demonstrates that he can do an action film with intelligence. Fans of Nolan’s two super-hero films may have forgotten that he was also the man who brought us INSOMNIA (with Robin Williams and Al Pacino) as well as the cult favorite MEMENTO, another film that dealt with memory. As with that early film, with INCEPTION we begin to learn things as characters move back in forth in time as well as in their dreams.

DiCaprio plays Cobb, a one-time architect who now uses technology to move into the dreams of others to steal secrets. In this case, he must do more than that. He must plant an idea (an inception) in the mind of the son of a business tycoon. In order to do this Cobb must enlist the aid of various individuals already familiar with entering dreams, plus find and train a new architect who can design the landscapes in which everything will happen. Going to his mentor, Miles (played nicely by Michael Caine), he is introduced to one of Miles’ new students Ariadne (Ellen Page). Initially, doubtful of the concept Cobb is able to persuade her to join the group. We learn that Cobb has some secrets he would rather not reveal to her until Ariadne realizes that he could endanger them all unless he confronts his own past.

The stunts and FX in the film are brilliant and believable, as they would have to be in a movie about dreams and dreamers. The cast is all quite good, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as Arthur, Cobb’s right-hand man) a standout. He is fine in the straight scenes and really does an excellent job in the action sequences as well. Hey, he was Cobra Commander, in G.I.JOE after all!

This is one of those films that lived up to the promise of the trailers. In fact, the best stunts and sequences are only hinted at in the ads. Some of the action scenes rivaled anything Nolan did in THE DARK KNIGHT, while one was right up there with anything you’d see in a James Bond film.

I highly recommend the film, but let me know what you think about the ending.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Con Viewing - NotLD: Reanimated & Alien vs. Ninja



I was able to catch a couple of films, along with the usual trailers at this past San Diego Comic-con. Both films have been shown at film festivals or limited screenings previously, plus both will soon have DVD release (if they have not already).

Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated I first heard of on either Facebook or Good Reads (in the Zombie group). It sounded interesting and adding them as a Facebook ‘friend’ got me more information. As some of you may know, George Romero lost the copyright on his initial film, due to the actions of the original distributor. Because of this the film has fallen into the public domain. This was unfortunate for Mr. Romero, but fortunate for some fans. In this case, artist/filmmaker, Mike Schneider has gathered dozens of artists (in different styles & media) to re-imagine the film. Using the original soundtrack, artists have used techniques ranging from stop-motion animation, computer & hand-drawn animation, sock puppets and live actors to reproduce the movie. Some scenes are redone using filters of sorts or the artists drawing over the original film. Still others have used the soundtrack but slightly diverged from what we remember in Romero’s film.

Naturally, most artists wanted to work with the more memorable scenes (the graveyard, the girl in the basement, the attempt to escape, etc.), so some artists were assigned to do sections consisting of mostly dialogue and minimal action. To be honest, not all the styles worked, at least for me, but I appreciate the time and effort that went into it. It was interesting hearing some of the artists, in a panel following the showing, discussing what and how they did their scenes, as well as talking about possible future projects. One, apparently in the works, involves Old Time Radio programs in the horror/suspense genre. As these were never filmed the artists will have even more freedom to re-imagine them.

If you’re a fan of Romero’s film (and don’t consider this a total blasphemy) I recommend you seek it out. It’s available via Netflix and you can also purchase the DVD directly from the website.

ALIEN vs. NINJA is exactly what the title implies and if you scroll down this blog you’ll see the trailer for the film that ran on YouTube. AvN (as it is called on the posters), takes place in feudal Japan during a war between rival warlords. Following an attack against an enemy stronghold a group of ninjas witnesses a fiery object falling from the sky and are shortly attacked by a creature that apparently survived the crash. Lots of wonderful martial-arts action and disgusting alien infestation takes place. The gore, like the fight scenes, is way over the top, so expect streams of blood, decapitations and ripped off body parts. In other words, everything I love in a film.

AvN is the first in a series of Japanese action/horror films to be released in the U.S. by FUNimation Entertainment, under the Sushi Typhoon label. If you are into anime you probably already know that Funimation is one of the larger distributors of that product in the country. All the films released are in the original Japanese, but with English subtitles. AvN, not to give anything away, actually has a joke involving several of the characters speaking English in one scene. The crowd at SDCC loved it. The showing on Friday night, included the appearance of three of the actors who appear in the film (Mika Hijii, the female ninja; Ben Hiura, the lead ninja; and the actor who wears the alien outfit, whose name I sadly cannot recall).

I love this stuff, but if you need your horror movies to be serious, I don’t think that Sushi Typhoon is what you are looking for. It’s possible that some of their future films won’t be quite so over the top, but from what I saw in the trailers for three other ST films, AvN fits in perfectly. No nudity, some implied sex and some profanity, plus the violence and gore I mentioned before. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Alien vs Ninja trailer 2010



I saw this on Friday night. Highly recommended! More later.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

PUPPETS WITH GUNS



The Officer Meanie videos are some of the funniest on YouTube. Offensive, with plenty of profanities, drug humor and all sorts of fun stuff. Check them out!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Popcorn for One: IRON MAN 2 & Paranormal Activity on DVD


Popcorn For One:

IRON MAN 2 I finally had a chance to see the second film in the Iron Man Trilogy (?) and seemingly the third film that will lead up to the AVENGERS movie. Next up, I believe will be THOR, which will be followed by CAPTAIN AMERICA. (If you haven’t been following things on line, you may be interested to know that hints/clues about upcoming events are planted in this movie.)
Basically, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) has discovered that the energy supply that powers both his suit and his heart may actually be killing him. Meanwhile, elements of the U.S. military and some others in the government feel that Stark should not be the only one who has access to his technology. One of his few military allies, and friend, Lt. Col. James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes (Don Cheadle, stepping up nicely in the role) seeks to warn Stark that his continuing grandstanding will end badly. Events really begin going downhill when a Russian scientist, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke, being really creepy), who blames Stark’s father for the failure and fate of his own father, recreates the device that powers the IM armor. Finally, a rival of Stark, Justin Hammer (played by Sam Rockwell, who researched the role by watching episodes of the old BATMAN TV-show), allies himself with Vanko and uses Stark’s own technology against him. Huge Iron Man/War Machine (with Rhodey inside), Hammer-drone battles take up the later part of the movie and it is worth having sat through some slow stuff mid-film to get there. A happy ending with hints of things to come for most of those involved.

You get some nice moments with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson, never called Black Widow in the film that I can recall), both of whom may be showing up in later films prior to AVENGERS. Although, I’m know that Fury will, as he seems to be the one heading the Avengers Project, it wouldn’t make sense to have Natasha show up in a single film and then disappear. Whether Johansson would want to do the role again, is up to her I guess. Jon Favreau (Happy Hogan and the film’s director) along with Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) are also back this time out, with Favreau having a bit more screen time and even an action sequence.
Hate to sound like most of the other viewers in the Blogger-verse and YouTube, but I didn’t find this film as solid at the first. Still, I’m glad that I paid to see it, since I know it will be a major topic of conversation in San Diego.

Remote Viewing

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: I had several friends recommend this film ever since its theatrical run and another added her recommendation after seeing it on DVD. Along with the positive reviews that YouTubers did I figured I would check it out and I’m glad I did. I guess you could call it a less rural and higher grade video kind of BLAIR WITCH. (We’ll not discuss the alleged sequel to that film, thank you very much!) By which (no pun) I mean that a similar hand-held video technique is used, with most of the more intense scenes done at night.
Katie & Micah (played by Katie Featherston & Micah Sloat, respectively) are living together. Katie claims to have experienced strange things since she was a child, eventually leading to a fire at her home. She reveals to Micah that she has the feeling that things are happening at night. In order to see if they are or not, Micah purchases some camera equipment to tape them as they sleep. Minor noises and items which appear to move are the first indication that Katie may be correct. As the month progresses, so do the noises and disruptions in their lives. When a psychic seems unable or unwilling to help them, Micah decides to take matters into his own hands. Things only get worse, up to the final night when things come to a shocking conclusion.
The DVD I watched had both the theatrical release and an alternate ending. I think the director was smart in going with the ending that most people eventually saw, although both are effective.
If you like ‘scary movies’, I certainly recommend the film. Don’t expect the type of FX, make-up and photography you get in most Hollywood productions. This is a low-budget production and looks it. Wisely, the folks who did the film use those very things to produce a pretty, good movie. I’d give it a Thumbs Up.
************************************

IRON MAN 2 - SPOILERS: 1) Watch for the second (third if you were paying close attention to the HULK film) appearance of a certain shield in Stark’s lab. 2) Try to check out the map with areas designated with circles, behind Fury as he talks to Stark. Possible hints at the homeland of future Avengers. Africa? Hmmm… 3) Sit through the credits. ‘Nuff said!!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Four-color Fiend: Blackest Night is over! A Spoiler or two)

Well, I guess it really depends on what title you're reading, since there might be some delays on DCU tie-ins. For the most part though BLACKEST NIGHT appears to be at an end, with some heroes and villains returned from the dead. If you have been paying attention, even glancing at book covers or at the BN action figures it's easy to guess which heroes have come back. It will be interesting to see what these former JSA & JLA members will think of the newest incarnations of their old groups. I was really happy to see the King of the Seas reunited with his wife and couple of winged heroes also back together.

On the downside, was it really necessary to bring back the villain who started so much of this descent into darkness. I never thought much of the character to begin with and giving him the power that he appeared to have before he got his neck broken didn't make him any more interesting. Apparently some writers or editors felt they needed to bring him back, but I think I'll do my best to not read any books in which he's involved. A good time to cut back on DC titles.

Speaking of cutting back, SIEGE seems like a good jumping off point on some Marvel books. Time to start checking out more titles from the smaller, independent companies.

Anybody else reading the GREEN HORNET from Dynamite? Kevin Smith is adapting this from an unfilmed screenplay he wrote years ago. I'm finding it mildly interesting, but I don't know that I'm going to pick up the half-dozen or so related GH books the company plans to publish. Might you not want to see how the initial book sells before creating prequels, sequels and spin-offs? The company did that with the PROJECT SUPERPOWERS titles, some of which I enjoyed, but I don't know that GH has that large a fan-base. Maybe they want to saturate the market before the film version of the Hornet hits the theatres. If it's a dud it might take all these books down with it.

I just got myself a 'new toy' the other day and will probably have more to say about it once I have it figured out.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Thanks for stopping by!


I was asked yesterday if I still did 'my blog' and I had to answer that I did, but seldom post. When I first starting doing this blog I used it to cover books, comics, and movies, as well as what was going on in my life. Eventually I started Shot's Shack to cover pop culture stuff and to separate those from the political & social opinions that seemed to bother a few folks. For the most part I'd like to think that was successful.

Over the past year I've found that I have been commenting on Facebook more and more. I'm also spending a bit more time on several forums/message boards where I can talk about my interests with folks who share them. Sadly, doing either of my blogs has almost become a chore, which is what happened to my apa-hacking back in the day. I found that I had to force myself to put together a zine and that's how it feels when I blog now.

I'm not saying that I'm never going to blog again, but that it will probably be a while before I start posting on a regular basis again, if ever. Please feel free to look for me as Steven Chaput over on Facebook. I already have some 200+ "Friends" and you are more than welcome to join. Maybe we already have some mutual ones!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Four-color Fiend: Just a few things



First Wave #1 of 6 (DC Comics)
DC has gotten the rights to several pulp characters and rather than simply do solo tales they have created separate Earth where they co-exist with alternate versions of DCU characters. It remains to be seen, I guess if it is one of the former Elseworlds or part of the 52 series of Universes. This new world of non-powered heroes was first shown in the DOC SAVAGE/BATMAN one-shot. That issue introduced the Bruce Wayne and Clark "Doc" Savage, Jr. of this earth brought together in Gotham. As usual, for this type of thing, they fought and then teamed up although not totally trusting the other despite having a goal in common. I'm not clear if the one-shot adventure takes place before or after the events in this first issue, but it will probably become clear later.

This mini-series introduces some of those 'new' versions of characters we have seen before, either in the DCU or elsewhere. The first issue gives us Doc's old adversary John Sunlight, a new Rima of the Jungle (even though she is not identified by name here), The Spirit and a new generation of Black Hawks. Writer Brian Azzarello does a good job bringing this diverse group together, although it's not clear yet if they will work together or at odds. It has been announced that we will also be meeting a new Black Canary, The Avenger and possibly The Shadow. It's a large cast but artist Rags Morales gives the main characters distinctive looks so they are easily recognizable. I just heard that writer Will Murray will be producing new prose adventures of Doc Savage, but those will have nothing to do with this comic version. Along with the pulp reprints from Nostalgia Ventures, this is a pretty good time to be a fan of the Man of Bronze.

Walking Dead #70 (Image Comics)
Rick Grimes and his band of followers finally reach what may be a safe-haven in the outskirts of Washington, D.C. Writer & co-creator, Robert Kirkman introduces a new group of characters to his already large cast of survivors. Naturally, given all that Rick has gone through he continues to have his doubts about the situation. However, as he has since the beginning Rick's chief concern is his son Carl. Since the boy seems to be accepting his new surroundings Rick decides to give it a chance. Unfortunately, as the case often is in this world in which the undead roam, it appears that there are more secrets yet to be uncovered. From the first few issues, Kirkman has made Walking Dead into more than another zombie comic book. The undead still show up every so often, if only for a panel or two, but Kirkman has shown that the survivors of the plague can be much more dangerous than those who died and returned.

American Vampire #1 (Vertigo/DC)
Here's another must-have for you Stephen King fans out there. King (at least for the first five issues), along with comics scribe Scott Snyder present tales involving a 'new species' of vampire, unique to this country. The idea is that vampires, as other lifeforms do, will occasionally mutate into something different from their parents. Why should those who rise from the dead here, be exactly like those that came from Europe or other places? Might they not have different powers, different weaknesses? Snyder opens the issue with a story that takes place in the Hollywood of the Silents. Pearl a young lady, trying to make her start in films is attacked by a group of 'older' vampires. Earlier she had met a mysterious, cowboy who had begun to show up at the hotel where Pearl was living. In King's tale we find that the cowboy is actually Old West bank-robber & murderer Skinner Sweet. Sweet is not a likable character, having killed children in escaping from a robbery gone wrong. Captured by the Pinkertons, Sweet escapes when the train he is on is derailed by his gang. Before he can get away, he is attacked and turned by another vampire whose money Sweet had stolen. Both tales end, in this first issue, at the point where Sweet & Pearl become tainted, Snyder & King plan to give us the history of this new breed, from their origin up through the major events of the last century. I'm in for at least the initial run with King.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Is he still here?

Yes! In point of fact, I am still here, but not posting much at all. Well, except for the occasional videos from YouTube, as you can see in this morning's post. To be honest, that's about the only time I even remember that I have a blog, or rather two. Hell, I'm actually supposed to be posting to a third, but I don't think I've even read that one for almost a year.

I'm still enjoying, for the most part the main BLACKEST NIGHT titles & cross-overs at DC. Depending on how this all wraps up I will probably keep getting the Green Lantern titles, but I'm unsure about some of the others. I already dropped JSA and the current JLA book is borderline. That has more to do with the bad scheduling of JL: Cry for Justice, where things were given away in the regular JLA book before the final issue of the mini-series hit the stands. DC has also ticked me off with Flash, since it was difficult to keep track of the character (or characters, since there are several) in three different books (Rebirth, Blackest Night & his own title). Might pick up the first issue with Barry, but not sure how long I'll care.

I know that when the current Norman Osborne plot line finally wraps up, hopefully with the end of Siege, I'm going to be dropping a number of Marvel titles. Don't want to toss in some Spoiler Alerts, but it seems apparent where this is going at this point. I haven't liked the character Sentry from his introduction and retro shoehorning into MU continuity. Bad enough a Superman-level hero we didn't know about, and now it looks like he is going to be the focus of the next 'event'. Time to bail!

Speaking of Marvel, it appears they finally remembered that they were publishing a mini-series called The Twelve at some point. Imagine my surprise, after months of nothing to discover something called The Twelve: Spearhead. Nice retro story of the group of heroes back in WWII before they were captured and put into suspended animation. The icing on the cake being a reproduction in the back of the cover of THE TWELVE #9, with the information that it will be "coming soon". Well, how informative is that? Bet the pre-orders on that will be just through the roof, huh? ***sigh***

Maybe have mentioned this before, but I'm going through the dozen or so episodes of DOCTOR WHO that I recorded when BBC America did a marathon over the holidays. I'd already seen some of the David Tennant episodes, but it's great seeing them in order. Rose to Martha to Donna and the final confrontations with The Master. Man, it is going to be hard for the new Doctor to live up to these shows. I also read online that Tom Baker (my first & favorite Doctor) will be returning to the character via original audiobooks soon. Way cool!

That's it for now, at least until I get reved up enough to bitch about something else.

Zombie Jamboree - Rockapella

Zombies and Rockapella!! Saw them do this live and had it in my head for days after. Bet it does the same to you!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Kick Ass - Official Trailer 2

Tell me this is NOT awesome!!! LOL!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Doctor Who: Series 5 Preview - BBC One

He does look a bit young, but I'll give him a chance. Can't wait!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Comics and other stuff (I rant a bit)

Let's do this really quick, since there are other things I need to get done.

I'm still, for the most part, enjoying the DARKEST NIGHT titles that I'm reading. On the other hand, I'm a little ticked off that the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA book seems to have jumped ahead of both the DN titles and the last issue of the CRY FOR JUSTICE mini. The first few pages of JLoA give away the ending the mini and gives a hint (during the story and the final page) of the fate of some of those involved in DN. I'll admit that the guy at Nuclear warned me about this when I picked up the book, but it still bothered me. I mean why would I need to read the remaining books in either series if I already know what the outcome will be?

Over at Marvel, "Darkest Reign" seems to have given way to SIEGE, which will probably end with Norman Osborn losing his current legit status in the government. It's apparent that he'll give in to his Green Goblin persona pretty soon, as well. I think I'm in the majority here wishing that this whole thing would wrap up so the individual titles can move on.

I've been reading the various PROJECT SUPERPOWERS titles from Dynamite, but wonder for how much longer. I'm starting to get the feeling that the main storyline is open-ended and will just continue for some indefinite period. If there doesn't appear to be some kind of resolution in the next six months I think I'm going to cut the books from my 'pull list' and see if anybody wants to buy them. The writing and art are excellent but I need to know that this isn't just going to drag on for another year.

With all the death, maiming and destruction going on at the Big Two and in the PS series, it's interesting that the book that was the most positive was Robert Kirkman's WALKING DEAD. A couple of panels of zombies being dispatched, in the background, but mostly the characters coming to grips with a possible safe haven. WD remains one of my favorite titles.

Finally, anybody buying IMAGE UNITED care to let me know if you are following this at all? Maybe because I don't generally read any of the Image super-hero books the whole thing confuses me, but I'm sure there must be somebody who can clue me in.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Clash Of The Titans - Official Trailer [HD]

I think I prefer the original, but this does look like it might be fun.

Hey, somebody's favorite line: "Release the kraken!!"

Monday, January 11, 2010

Goodbye, Doctor. We'll miss you!


It has been said that your ‘favorite’ Doctor Who (DW) is the one that appeared in the first episodes you see. In my case that would have been Peter Cushing in the two DW movies based on the television show. Not hardly! As much as I liked Cushing as an actor his Doctor wasn’t particularly likable, as I recall. I saw those films in the theatre when I was a kid, probably as part of a double-feature with some other British horror/SF film. The Daleks looked even sillier up on the big screen, as you can imagine. It would be interesting to see them again, to see if my opinion is any different.

My ‘second’ Doctor was Jon Pertwee who starred in the first TV episodes I ever saw. This would have been in the mid-70s when his shows were being broadcast on local PBS stations. I only remember seeing a few and this older guy driving around in an old automobile didn’t really appeal to me. I thought it was a bad James Bond rip-off to be honest. It wasn’t until I was working in Westport, CT and one of the PBS stations began showing the DW program featuring Tom Baker that I finally became a fan. To me Baker was ‘my Doctor’ and the one to whom all others had to measure up. While I liked both Peter Davison and Colin Baker, I only recall seeing one installment with Sylvester McCoy so didn’t really form any sort of opinion. To be honest, I think I sort of liked the TV movie featuring Paul McGann, in his only appearance as the Eighth Doctor. An attempt to make the show more appealing to American audiences I think, but not enough apparently as the show remained in limbo for a few more years.

When BBC America began showing the new episodes, starring Christopher Eccleston I caught a couple of shows, after hearing some good things from friends. I liked Eccleston, possibly because his somewhat goofy manner reminded me of Tom Baker at his most whimsical. I was just getting into the DW habit again when another regeneration occurred and David Tennant became the Tenth Doctor. I think I liked him from the very beginning. You also could tell, from his actions in “Parting of the Ways” and the special “Christmas Invasion”. Here was a darker, Time Lord. The last of his race and although he could be light-hearted he would also take lives if it felt necessary for the ‘greater good’. As he says in one episode, “No second chances. That’s the kind of man I am.” Brrr….

Throughout his stint as The Doctor, Tennant made his incarnation into a DW we had never seen before. He was in a way ‘more human’, if you will, yet also able to portray a very superior and alien personality. The final three episodes, “Waters of Mars” and the two-part “The End of Time”, will probably go down as some of the best DW episodes in a series which has had a number of very, good ones. In both we see Tenant’s Doctor revealing a side of himself that is almost a reflection of The Master at his most smug. It’s pretty scary and revealing, as well. Sadly, we also knew from hints dropped throughout the past season (as well as stories on the Internet) that the next regeneration was not too far off.

If you haven’t watched the final two-part story, you really should. Even if you are not a big DW fan I think there is enough action and suspense to keep you interested. I’m going to really miss David Tennant and the new Doctor has a long way to go to even come close to matching what the last two Doctors (and the previous eight, to be honest) brought to the series.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Popcorn for Two: a review of AVATAR (with some spoilers)


I have to admit that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to shell out the money for AVATAR initially. There was plenty of buzz last year at San Diego about the film and there were several props available to ogle. Still a movie about a bunch of computer animated blue elves really didn’t appeal to me. Even the initial trailer didn’t get me excited. Of course, the weeks leading up to the release were filled with appearances of the actors on talk shows and then lots of pretty decent reviews online & in print. I went from ‘on the fence’ to deciding to see it if/when I had the chance. This past Sunday, Donna & I were planning on going to Kristina’s to help her take down her X-mas tree. While on the phone with Donna she asked if I’d be interested in going to the theatre with her to see it. Sure, why not?

We considered seeing the film in IMAX, but there was a long line and there was an earlier showing in 3-D, so we decided to go for that. After getting our tickets and the 3-D glasses we dropped by a Stonecold Creamery for ice-cream, since we had some time to kill. We were still were able to get into the theatre early enough to get decent seats (the theatre was almost filled by the time previews began) and buy popcorn. There were several previews and then a screen appeared telling us to put on our glasses. At that point we saw a trailer for Tim Burton’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND in 3-D, which was pretty cool!

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you much about the film, since you’ve probably read and seen enough about it already to make a decision of your own. Bottom line was that The Child and I both enjoyed the movie, although whether or not it changes Hollywood forever (as some seem to think) remains to be seen. It certainly blew us away when it came to visual story-telling, which given it was James Cameron, should not come as a complete surprise. You really do have to see this movie in 3-D, if not IMAX, to really appreciate what Cameron & Co. have done here. After the first few minutes of getting used to the glasses you will probably get so into the movie that you forget you have them on. Hell, even having to deal with wearing the 3-D specs over my own glasses didn’t bother me after a while. I have never experienced such realistic 3-D. There are some scenes where you almost find yourself swatting at the insects flying about in the forest. Also, if you have a problem with heights, watch out! Awesome!

The story itself could not be more basic: A large corporation based on Earth is mining a rare metal found only on the planet Pandora. The U.S. government has sent along a large contingent of Marines to ensure the safety of the operation and to keep the local inhabitants, called the Na’vi, from interfering. In an attempt to get this co-operation a group of scientists headed by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) has created synthetic beings which resemble the Na’vi. A human is able to transfer their consciousness into the creations, called ‘avatars’, which allows them to survive in the poisonous atmosphere of the planet. When his brother dies in an accident, paraplegic Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is able to take his place in the avatar program, as they share the same genetic code. Dr. Augustine is trying to learn the ways of the natives and discover what the corporation can offer them in return for rights to bulldoze and strip mine the place. Things are not going well on the negotiation front.

Naturally, the corporation (since they are all evil) isn’t happy with only limited access to the material they want so they recruit Jake to act as sort of a spy among the Na’vi, getting the military/industrial honchos enough intel to be able to go in and take what they want. Initially, more than happy to go along with all this Jake slowly begins to identify with the natives more so than with those who have brought him to Pandora in the first place.

If you expect anything new, outside of the visuals (which are stunning), I think you are going to be disappointed. The story is pretty predictable from the very, first time you see the corporation’s rep (Giovanni Ribisi) and the gung-ho Marine colonel (Stephen Lang). Saying both fit the stereotype of their characters is speaking the obvious. You know that they are going to push things to the extreme and make life difficult for anyone with whom the viewer has sympathy. Cameron makes his points and does so with a heavy hand, but because he does it so well and brings the world of Pandora to life we forgive him. Other reviewers (pro & con) have talked about the what each side represents and for whom we should be rooting . You all know me well enough to know how I feel about all of this, so we won’t go there.

All the actors do nice jobs, making you either like or dislike them. I cannot tell you how much I recommend this movie. If you are at all interested in this type of film or just to see what everybody is talking about you have to see it and in the theatre. I can’t speak for the IMAX version, but seeing it in 3-D on a big screen is the only way to view this. I don’t care what kind of HDTV you might have set up, there is no way you can truly experience the movie on DVD or Blu-Ray, although I’m sure sales on those will be through the roof!

I was going to also talk about my reaction to the last three David Tenant episodes of DOCTOR WHO, but that can wait. I’ve gone on longer than I had planned already. I’ll try and get to the good Doctor in the next couple of days. Brilliant, kind of sums it up though!