Posts Tagged ‘Comic Books’

Media Update 8/22/19

August 22, 2019


Spider-Man: Far From Home

After the crowning moment of Avengers Endgame, the MCU has to find a way to continue and this is the first movie to lead the way. This is the first movie to really address the post “Blip” world which is confused by some time travel. However, Peter is also still in high school and has to navigate that confusing mess as well as the loss of his mentor and being a hero. Tom Holland continues to be such a good Peter Parker and Spider-Man, so quick-witted and naturally gifted at humor and drama. Zendaya returns as MJ, and she is such a great character to have around and she is given more to do in this movie. Jacob Batalon returns to steal many scenes as Ned, this time along with comedy partner Angourie Rice as Betty Brant. Jon Favreau and Marisa Tomei are delightful returning as Happy Hogan and Aunt May Parker. We get the return of Samuel Jackson and Cobie Smulders as Nick Fury and Maria Hill, trying to figure out where they fit in. Finally, Jake Gyllenhaal is so good as Mysterio. The Spiderman movies are continuing the new trend of good villains and I love it. I definitely recommend this movie as it is packed with action, comedy, and a compelling story.


The Boys

I am not the biggest fan of comic books that get dark and graphic just for the sake of shock value. Often these comics are deeply racist and misogynist and just needlessly dark. I am specifically calling out Frank Miller, Mark Millar, and, I guess, Garth Ennis. Thankfully, people are getting better at adapting these sorts of things. While Frank Miller is unsalvageable, the Mark Millar series Kickass was redeemed through its adaptation and made more palatable. The same is true of The Boys. The creators of the show have adapted the comic book to have a serious message in our current climate. This show does have a good message. In a world where the United States has tons of superheroes, we see a more realistic fallout. Superheroism has been consumed by capitalism and cynicism. Superheroes have become sponsored, corporate entities and that has led to them becoming hedonistic, sociopathic creatures. The show examines what it is like inside of their world but also what it is like to be a normal, powerless person. It is a really dark show but it has a point. I hope people see that point instead of just reveling in the ultraviolence and sex. I definitely recommend it but it is definitely triggering so be warned.


Hellboy (2019)

The 2004 version of Hellboy made me a fan of Guillermo Del Toro and Hellboy, both of which I was not fully aware of yet. When I heard about that this new movie would be taking the place of a third Del Toro Hellboy film, I was disappointed. When I found out that David Harbour was getting the lead role, I was pleased and intrigued. I was willing to give this one a try. The movie set itself apart from the original while still staying fun and honoring the source material. The movie is R rated and they have a lot of fun cursing and getting bloodier. Harbour is definitely a great choice for Hellboy. He is funny but also good at being moody and dramatic. Milla Jovovich plays the villain, an ancient witch in one of her more charismatic roles that I have seen. In this movie, Hellboy gets new sidekicks in the form of Sasha Lane and Daniel Dae Kim, both of whom are a lot of fun. Ian McShane puts in his usual strong performance as Hellboy’s father figure. The special effects were fantastic and there was a lot of inspiring fantastic imagery. My only problem is that the script needed further editing and there were probably two or three movies jammed into one movie. I recommend it as I do not believe that it earned its abysmal Rotten Tomatoes score (I think some critics were overly bitter about Del Toro but they should have just gotten over it).

Music of the Week:
Ari Lennox – BMO

Depeche Mode – Useless

Grace VanderWaal – Waste My Time

Blameshift – The Enemy You Need

F. Virtue – License and Registration

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Comic Books Adapted”
– I watched more Stargate Atlantis Season 1
– I watched more How to Get Away with Murder Season 1
– I watched more Supergirl Season 4
– I watched more Riverdale Season 3
– I watched more iZombie Season 5
– I watched more Wynonna Earp Season 3
– I watched more Santa Clarita Diet Season 3
– I watched more Charmed Season 1
– I started Game of Thrones Season 4
– I started Mindhunter Season 2

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Comics DNA

March 4, 2019

There has been a meme going around where people post four comic books that helped form their “Comics DNA”. I thought I would try and tackle that challenge even though there was so much to choose from. Since reading the following comics, my tastes have continued to grow and expand and I regularly consume all sorts of comics media. Comic books have become so entwined in how I think about fiction and probably are one of the bigger influences on how I write and visualize my own art. I have been lucky to meet some of my comic book heroes and I hope that I continue to find more heroes and more inspiration each year. Anyway, let’s take a look at a few big winners.


Giant-Size X-Men

This was the first comic that I really remember impacting me. I was later shown comics starring the original X-Men but this was, pardon the pun, larger than life and so exciting. The idea of recruiting a new, international version of the X-Men to rescue the original X-Men was so fun. Apparently, the white guys (and girl) could not handle the job so they send in a more diverse team to save the day. This was the first time I saw Storm, Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Colossus, Sunfire, Banshee, and Thunderbird. Sure writers had a long way to go when it came to writing people of color but this was a great start. The powers and abilities of the new X-Men seemed way flashier than those of the original X-Men and I was excited to learn more. This comic came out 7 years before I was born but when I was allowed to read it, it definitely sparked a love for comics that has never died. The X-Men became an integral part of my Comics DNA and I frequently sprang for their titles when I was spending my allowance. Later this love spread to the Pryde of the X-Men, the X-Men cartoon in the nineties, and the X-Men film franchise and spinoffs.


Batman: The Long Halloween

Batman became an obsession of mine when the 1989 movie blew my tiny mind and introduced me to a version that was both entertaining and serious. I scooped up a lot of Batman comics over the years (along with Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman). This is the one that really stuck with me over all the rest. The story takes place in the Batman Year One continuity, a kind of stand-alone set of stories that tried to re-explore Batman’s early years. Batman tries to track down a new villain on the scene who goes by the name Holiday and kills on each month’s big holiday. Thus, each of the issues revolves around a potential murder on a holiday. The story explores the relationship between the old school villains (the Mafia) and the new school villains (Batman’s Rogues Gallery). Batman is used to dealing with the mob and traditional crime. Now he has to shift his thinking to deal with Catwoman, Joker, Riddler, Poison Ivy, Mad Hatter, and Solomon Grundy. The series is a real mystery and a real love letter to my favorite parts of the Batman mythos. All of the characters are written as their best versions, nothing fancy but definitely engrossing. In addition to all of that, the art is fantastic.


The Sensational Spider-Man

I was also a huge fan of Spider-Man. At its heart, it was a series about a boy (and later a man) just trying to do his best in the face of difficult odds. The series has always thrived when it has followed that formula. In the late nineties, they briefly replaced the original Spider-Man with Ben Reilly, a guy just trying to get his life back together. The new take felt fresh to me and I was excited to see where they could take it. The art was one of the first things that did it for me. Everything was so crisp and clean and the action was dynamic. Characters came alive with their facial expressions and their smooth coloring. After that, it was the writing. At the time, Peter Parker was living the good life thanks to his supermodel wife and his own photojournalism career. It was nice to see a hero who was struggling financially and had a supporting cast of people I could actually meet in my city. It was a better solution than the later One Day More storyline for sure. It also gave them an excuse to jazz up Spidey’s arsenal a bit as Ben had had time to come up with a few new tricks. He got impact webbing which was basically a spider web grenade and he got spider stingers which were tranquilizing darts. He was a lot of fun and allowed us to take a bit of a break from the long history of Peter Parker for a little while. They would use this idea later to create such characters as Miles Morales.


Sandman Mystery Theater

Sure, I did not actually get to this title until college but still, it changed the way I looked at comic books. Sandman Mystery Theater follows the character of Wesley Dodds who was a character during the golden age of comics and a founding member of the Justice Society of Comics. Except these new stories predated his adventures among the superheroes. There was nothing super about Dodds. These stories were in a film noir detective style as Dodds used intelligence to track down brutal murderers. The only nod to the supernatural was that he had dreams which gave him vague clues to the murders and drove him toward solving the cases. He used a gas gun (full of sleeping gas or some sort of truth gas) which allowed him to sneak around. He wore a suit, trenchcoat, and World War I gas mask. The artwork is intentionally ugly as it shows a lot of the seedy underbelly of society. It approached topics such as abortion, racism, antisemitism and the rise of the Nazis. It also included a female heroine, Dian Belmont, a former flapper who was every bit a detective as Wesley was. This was the first real non-superhero comic I became a fan of. It led the way for Sandman, Hellblazer, Hellboy, Pretty Deadly and many more heroes who did not fit the traditional mold.

RIP Stan Lee

November 17, 2018

I was rocked when I heard that Stan Lee died four days ago on November 12, 2018. I had to spend a bit of time getting my thoughts together so that I could do this right. I could not let a great man pass without saying a little something. So here are the thoughts that have passed through my head in the past few days.

I was a huge fan of comic books growing up. I loved them so much that I walked three miles to a comic book store and blew my allowance on a small stack of them. I bought both Marvel and DC (while some of my friends preferred Image). However, when I read them, I did not often think about who was making them. All I thought about was who was selling them and how I could get them. So I really did not know who Stan Lee was. I would have been impressed had I known his name because he created a lot of the characters I liked and was one of the godfathers of the modern age of comics that I enjoyed so much. Little did I know but he was a fixture on the letters page at the back of most comics but I usually skipped that while I grabbed another story to absorb. When I got a bit older, I started to read those pages and learned about Stan’s infamous No-Prize. It was the prize he (and the Marvel editors) gave out to fans who spotted continuity errors in Marvel comic book fans. A little fun smartassery pointed toward the nitpickier side of fandom. It was also a reminder that comics are just supposed to be fun and not taken so seriously.

However, the first time I really started to become aware of Stan Lee was watching a little VHS called Pryde of the X-Men. It was an animated television pilot released in 1989 (a magic year for me) for an X-Men cartoon show that never materialized. I thought it was awesome but it only spawned the one double episode pilot and the famous X-Men arcade game. (Fun Fact: Wolverine was given an Australian accent in the pilot which is a bit eerie now). I remember well how Stan narrated that first episode. That was the first time that I heard him use the phrase “true believer” and it really resonated with me. As somebody with a vivid imagination and a strong suspension of disbelief, that was a great description of what I am. He brought me right into the story and his voice could barely contain the excitement he had for the story that was about to unfold. Of course, 1989 Stan Lee probably had no idea how many shows and movies would feature he and his friends’ creations. He had to have been excited to see the X-Men clash with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in animated form.

So, years after Pryde of the X-Men, in the 1990s, I started to become more aware of authorship as I started to create my own worlds in my head and on the page. I became more curious about behind the scenes of comic books. I bought books to try and learn how to draw them but I just never took to visual art as much as the written word. I ended up collaborating with my friends on comic books since one of my best friends could draw and loved to do so. As I said, I started to look at the letters page. I also started to look at who was drawing the comics I liked and who was writing them. I started to look for them at the stores like I looked for directors and movie stars at the Blockbuster Video. As I got older, I became better at picking comics that I really liked, not just what was hot at the moment. As a result, I became a bigger fan of comics creators. When I saw interviews with a lot of these creators, they mentioned Stan Lee as their inspiration. He was the grandfather. He was one of the sources on high. He and Jack Kirby practically created Marvel with their own blood, sweat, and tears.

Now, the first time I saw Stan Lee was when I watched the movie Mallrats made by Kevin Smith. In the movie, he has his first live-action cameo, giving advice to a lovelorn and desperate comic book fan. In that cameo, he describes the characters he created being a reflection of what he felt inside at the time, a mirror to his emotions. Of course, later he did cameos in live action movies of his properties. One of the first cameos was actually my favorite since it was so pure. He appeared in Spider-Man (2002) as a man in the crowd. In a scene where Spider-Man is fighting against Green Goblin, he saves a little girl from being crushed by debris. The man who became famous for writing heroes finally got to act out being a hero. It was such a great moment to see a writer get to actually be in his own work. This sparked a chain of cameos in live-action movies leading more casual fans to lean over in theaters and ask “who is that?” which allowed fans to explain and spread his legend.

Of course, getting to be a hero in the movie was probably a thrill but Stan did not just write heroes, he was a hero. It is obvious from the outpouring of grief and respect following his death that he touched so many lives. He was one of many who inspired me at a young age to not only read but to write as well. His affable nature made comic books more accessible and fun, knowing that the people who made them did not take themselves too seriously. His legacy will continue and it is as unlikely that he will be forgotten as Shakespeare, Stephen King, or Jim Henson will be forgotten. He left an indelible mark on history and fiction that will stand as a monument to him. He also left marks on the psyches of those who consumed his stories and carried them in their hearts. Count me among them. He lived to the ripe old age of 95 so I will not see Stan Lee cameos and feel sad. I will smile and remember what he gave me and what he gave the world.

Unbreakable

April 25, 2017

I have always liked superheroes ever since I discovered the joys of comic books. Back in the day (middle school mostly), I would save up my allowance and I would walk over two miles to the comic book store. I was proud of that. I still am. It made getting them back home all the sweeter, reading my comics after a quick shower to wash off all that good exercise. I used to spend my walk there and back thinking about the adventures I was about to read. I used to think about what it would be like to have superpowers. What if instead of walking, I was flying over the northern parts of Baltimore City. I thought about how much time I would save if I had super speed. Unfortunately, there were only tall buildings for part of the trip so I could not swing around like Spider-man or Batman.

I remember going to watch The Sixth Sense. This was the first movie from a relatively unknown director named M. Night Shyamalan and I was interested in seeing a cool ghost story. I was in high school by then and I was totally into horror movies by then not only as part of Halloween but as a 365/24/7 kind of deal. This was before we knew about Mr. Shyamalan’s penchant for twists at the end of the movies he writes and directs. Thankfully, the well-known twist from The Sixth Sense had not been spoiled for me so I enjoyed something that in retrospect was a little pointless and anti-climactic. Still, the journey was an interesting one and the movie was seen for a long time as the one good Shyamalan movie but there was another that I have not seen to this day. That is why we are looking at the superpowered tale of Unbreakable.

The movie starts off slow and quiet and the movie actually continues to be pretty slow and quiet throughout. Bruce Willis is the lead once again in this one but he plays a more blue-collar character. I am used to seeing him as brash and mouthy but he was quiet and unassuming. This kind of matches the other major character played with Samuel Jackson who is usually loud and intense but he is also subdued. It gives the movie an offbeat sort of feeling. We get a lot of slice of life of Bruce Willis’ character and everybody is pretty quiet. That was really unsettling the more I think about it.

This movie was a comic book movie in the truest sense of those words. In fact, it might be the purest comic book movie we have had yet. The plot is a superhero origin story but it is largely driven by actual comic books. If superpowers actually appeared in our world, we would probably pay a lot more attention to comic books. A lot of the concepts and language are derived from or are in purposeful conflict with comic books. For a guy who grew up with comic books and still reads them, that is a pretty cool concept. However, the movie lacks a lot of the excitement and charm that most superhero books that I like have. While Bruce Willis’ character is likable and relatable, I just did not really want to hang out with him. He was too sad.

Overall, I really liked the concept of the movie but I did not really appreciate the execution. They started with a good idea but Shyamalan just cannot write normal dialogue. Everybody sounds like aliens trying to act like humans. The life and energy of usually talented or charismatic actors are sucked out and we are left with a passable performance. I guess I do not regret watching this movie but I could not in good faith recommend it to people. I just feel really blah about it. I think I am officially closing the book on M. Night Shyamalan. He just does not do it for me.

Quick Lass Pt. 3

August 27, 2016

It was a school night but Madeleine Price was already bored. She had already used her super speed to do all of her reading assignments in a fraction of the time. Of course, she had to slow down when she was actually writing out her assignments and do them at regular person speed. If she dragged her pencil along the paper at full speed, she would probably cause a fire from all the friction. In fact, she had lost a book report two years earlier that way. Homework was boring enough doing it one time, having to do it several times over was definitely torture. Homework was boring because it was too easy. If the teachers threw out a challenge on par with foiling a bank robbery now and then, Maddy would be more than happy to do a little math or read Romeo and Juliet.

So instead of doing homework or engaging in extracurricular activities, Maddy was laying on her bed and listening to police scanners. It was still a restless way to spend time but the local police were all stirred up and on the lookout for Quick Lass. Foiling the convenience store robbery was fun but it had put the cops on alert for super fast vigilantes. So, Maddy had bugged her sister Jan for a solution. She needed something to do before she started just going out and running laps in a field somewhere. If she was considering going on a run, she must be really, really bored. Thankfully, Jan had come through yet again. There was a reason that Maddy automatically gave the girl a percentage of her allowance. The genius girl made Maddy feel dumb but instead of leveraging that, Jan liked acting like Maddy’s Q. At least, she seemed to enjoy it when she was not working on her own secret projects.

Jan had developed a device that could tap into police and emergency frequencies from other nearby cities. She had it shuffling around, trying to find something to do outside of her jurisdiction. While she was happy she had not heard any big emergencies, she was getting bored. She had no other hobbies outside of fighting crime. Before her powers developed she had been way into video games but now they were an exercise in frustration. She was able to move her fingers way faster than current technology could keep up with and she had busted a controller at one point. There were few people at school that she felt like she related to. Most of the people she had gotten along with were anti-social and spent their time looking for space for tags at the trainyard or under bridges. She was stuck with fighting crime as her hobby but she could not do that if there was no crime to fight.

The scanner clicked over to Drake City and all of a sudden the dispatcher sounded like things were far more urgent. “Calling all cars. There is a 132 at Drake Nationa Bank. 51st and Cable. Be advised, suspects are armed and one them has some sort of ice projection powers. Surround and contain, SWAT has been deployed.”

Maddy jumped off the bed in surprise and excitement. A “132” was code for an armed robbery which meant that this was an honest to goodness bank robbery. Usually, she only got to bank robberies after the criminals had gotten to their getaway car. Most successful bank robberies were in and out and then they were speeding away from the scene of the crime. That’s usually when Maddy caught up to them and pulled them one by one out of their car. It was fun and the robbers usually looked really surprised. The kind of surprised that made a crook never want to try a robbery again. That is how things usually went but now it was a police siege with the criminals inside and armed and possibly with hostages.

There had also never been somebody with powers at the scene of the crime. Maddy hardly knew what to do with herself. On the one hand, she had never met anybody like herself before. She had always felt separate from the world around her although she suspected that Jan might have some sort of brainiac powers. She wanted to see somebody else with powers and talk with them and share all of her experiences. But the person at the bank would not be interested in that. They were a criminal. Not a vandal or a shoplifter like some of her friends but a real potential threat. Maddy could not imagine hurting innocent people with her powers and the thought suddenly angered her.

The superhuman icicle jerk would have to be stopped. She jumped to her feet and opened her window. There was no time to get caught by her mother or bargain with Jan to cover for her. The police were not equipped for this sort of thing. Somebody was going to get hurt if Maddy did not get to the bank and it was already fifty miles away. She would have to run fast but she would be there in minutes. She did not know if she would succeed but she also knew that there was no time for fear or doubt. Maybe this was why she had been given super speed abilities. Maybe this was her higher calling.

She changed into her costume with a press of a button and jumped out of the window. She started running the instant she hit the ground. As soon as she could, she pointed herself toward Drake City. She caught glimpses of shocked faces and startled drivers who must have seen her only as a blurred streak. She smiled to herself. They were all amazed by her and they had every right to be. In this costume, she was allowed to be special and now she was going to show the world again. She was on her way.

The Mystery Part 8

July 16, 2016

The Mystery

Detective Zaria walked up to Scott where he was struggling, pressed against the wall by a growing Frank. Frank was now twenty feet tall and his palm covered Scott’s chest making it harder to breathe and nearly impossible to move. Scott’s right hand was near one of his extendable batons but there was no way he had room to swing it. Besides, the Detective was close and would alert Frank before Scott could get anything done. Hell, even though her gun was holstered, Zaria could still shoot Scott for trespassing or really for whatever reason she chose. At his current size, Frank was stuck in the doorway he had thrust his arm through. If Scott somehow got out of his grasp and got that arm between himself and the Detective he would be home free. However, that was not the only play.

“Listen, I honestly did not come here to start any trouble. I came here for advice or help but I was obviously missing information. I can just leave and I won’t bother you again.” Scott said, doing his best to disguise his voice. He had not remembered to do so back in the alleyway but better safe than sorry. There really should be a manual for superheroes but Scott would just have to make do.

“Nice fake voice, Mystery,” Frank said, from the doorway. Scott was relieved that he had never told Frank his real name. “You really stepped in it this time.”

“I didn’t know you were dating a police detective. Also, I guess I should have called ahead.” Scott said.

“We’re not dating, you idiot. He works for me. If I wanted, I could have him crush you and bury you out back.” Detective Zaria said. Her stance suddenly looked a lot more relaxed and she looked tired.

“That does not sound legal,” Scott said. It was the first thing he thought of and it sounded dumb as soon as it came out of his mouth.

“Technically, neither does what you do. Focus up, Mystery.” The detective said. “The officer you saved is stable in the hospital right now. If that was not true, I would be handcuffing you right now.”

“I’m glad to hear it. The guy who shot him did it because of me, I think. I could not stop him and I felt terrible.” Scott said. It was the truth, obviously, he had nearly hung up his costume forever. He felt a weight lift when he heard that the officer was still alive and in good hands.

“Then we need to take him down. If he’s fixated on you then you need to work with us to take care of this.” The detective said.

“Work together?” Scott asked.

“Not like Frank,” Zaria said.

“Hey, being a cop in training isn’t so bad. I’m a little hard to miss so they were gonna catch me eventually. You’re a little more sneaky. Still, it took one bonehead move for you to finally get caught.” Frank said with a laugh.

“A bonehead move that came from a very real emotion. I can respect that and set it aside. The truth is, I think I can use you. Some of the higher ups do not trust your kind but I think you can be useful.” Detective Zaria said.

“Thank you,” Scott said. “I will try my best to help you out in any way I can.”

“Yeah you will,” Frank said. “Nobody says no to Zaria.”

“That’s Detective Zaria. I need you to write out a complete statement of what happened in the alleyway. I also need to stay in contact with you.” She walked back into the living room and then returned holding a small canvas pouch. “This is an orientation packet, of sorts. It has a flash drive with files on known costumed characters both powered and unpowered. It has contact information for me and it has a disposable cell phone. Let him go, Frank.”

“Aww. You never let me have any fun,” Frank said. He released his grip and started to shrink to human size. He stepped out of his bedroom. He looked different from the last time Scott had seen him. When he and Scott had worked together briefly, Frank had long hair and was scruffy looking. He had been big and buff like a cross between a surfer and a biker. Now, he was clean cut and sported a crew cut and looked even more cut. Scott could only guess that police work agreed with him. Scott looked away at Zaria and reached out and took the little package.

“There is also a GPS tracker in that bag but it is push button activated. If you run into trouble, you need to alert us. I do not want to be picking up any more bodies in alleys,” Detective Zaria said.

“Agreed. Neither do I. I will get that statement to you before morning. Is there anything else now that I have been thoroughly embarrassed?” Scott asked.

“No, do the statement. Keep me updated on your activity and I won’t have to arrest you.” She replied.

“Noted,” Scott said, “I will contact you soon. Frank, maybe you and I can talk sometime.”

“Count on it. Next time, don’t break into my place in the middle of the night.” Frank said.

“Also noted. See you later,” Scott said as he headed back into the bathroom and slipped out the back window before anybody could change their mind or pull any pistols. This was actually better than Scott could have hoped. He had been doing this basically alone and now he actually had a solid ally and maybe even back up. Now, it was time to start hunting that maniac out there on the streets. With no leads, it would be a lot of patrols and very little sleep. That suited Scott just fine.

Media Update 5/12/2016

May 12, 2016


Captain America: Civil War

I woke up last Friday with the knowledge that a lot of my friends were going to see this movie on Saturday and since I was attending my high school reunion, I could not join them. I felt bad about that but I knew that I wanted to go out and catch it before any of it was spoiled any further. I had seen a few trailers but I had taken to muting my television during later trailers and looking away. If I was forced to rank my favorite comic book movies, the Captain America movies are still in the top five if not the top three. I remember reading the original comic book storyline and I have rated it five stars on Goodreads.com. I occasionally like a well-written story where both opposing forces are both right and both wrong. This is one of those stories and the sides are even more even than in the original comic book and therefore, I thought it was even better. This one raised a lot of the same type of philosophical questions that the previous Disney’s Captain America movies posed. Is it just to follow an unjust order? What are we willing to sacrifice in order to be safe? What value is there in vengeance? How far do we go for a friend? The movie is also Avengers 2.5 and has a really strong ensemble backing up the brilliant Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. I absolutely recommend this movie as it is really awesome, touching and a lot of fun.


Kick-Ass 2

This was a strange experience. I remember being really interested when the original Kick-Ass movie came out because it was a franchise that I was unfamiliar with. The movie ended up being pretty good. It was colorful and shot really well like most comic book movies but the plot and characters were given a different twist. More or less Kick-Ass is kind of a depiction of what would really happen if somebody decided to become a superhero. There’s a reason that Bruce Wayne traveled the world to learn the skills to be Batman. You need those skills. The world of Kick-Ass is a world where the heroes are not always smart and skilled and neither are the villains. I then read the original comic book and I was disappointed. Mark Millar is kind of a horrible writer when it comes to his own properties. He writes to intentionally shock the reader with violence, sexuality and language and it feels like a ten-year-old trying to write superheroes. He is also one of the writers most well known for fridging female characters. Kick Ass was not a good comic and I only read a synopsis of its sequel. This movie was equally disappointing and it made me question whether the first one was even worth liking. Every character curses like a ten-year-old whose mother is out of earshot and the jokes are about as mature. The fights are interesting but they are worth little when the script keeps changing the character’s motivations every five minutes. Just pass this movie on your way to something better.


Batman: Bad Blood

I wanted to round out this week with a third comic book company and DC animation is just as great as their television. While television is kind of going for its own story, the animated features tend to more or less adapt established comic book storylines. I have no interest in the Frank Miller animated features and also no interest in the upcoming Killing Joke as I’m not a fan. I am a huge fan of Batman and, of the recent writers, I am very fond of Grant Morrison’s run. Before the reboot, he established Damien Wayne as the new Robin and did a great run with Dick Grayson as Batman. This animated feature adapts Batman RIP which was a good little story. The animation is really interesting and is kind of on par with the recent Suicide Squad: Assault on Arkham art style. As the title suggests, this movie does not follow Batman as much as it follows the Batman Family. Alfred, Damien, Grayson and Batwing were all great but the real stand out for me was Batwoman. Katie Kane was a great character for DC to bring back into the comics. Not only does it allow them to include a well-written lesbian character but she’s just a good character in my view. The movie also brings out a few lesser known villains along with a lot of memorable returning villains. Some of them are merely obstacles and some of them are nuanced, fleshed-out characters. All in all, I really liked watching this adaptation and I hope it leads to more features following Morrison or Scott Snyder’s runs. Check it out, Batman fans.

Links of the Week:
Goth Fitness
Foster the People – Houdini
Justin Timberlake – TKO (Black Friday Remix)
Utada – You Make Me Want To Be A Man
Gatas Parlament – Hokus Pokus

Weekly Updates:
– This week’s theme is comic book superheroes
– Next week is the one year anniversary of this feature. Wow.
– Fun fact: I went to college with Sebastian Stan
– Fun Fact: My middle school’s library promoted Free Comic Book Day
– I finished reading Squirrel Girl Vol. 2 and it was awesome!
– So is the new Hawkeye series so far
– I really want to see Keanu soon. It looks great.

Class Reunion/Free Comic Book Day 2016

May 9, 2016

So every year there is an event that I look forward to almost as much as Halloween and it’s Free Comic Book Day. Of course, this year Free Comic Book Day was on a day that was also scheduled for my Friends School class reunion. This was year fifteen so you know I was going to be there. In fact, since I attended the 10-year reunion, I promised myself that I would do whatever I could to keep attending reunions. A lot of these people were people I spent twelve years studying alongside and we grew to know each other whether we wanted to or not. Friends School is also an important place in my life as it was where I spent a lot of my most formative years. I knew I was in for a packed Saturday so sadly I had to skip out on tabletop gaming and going to see Captain America: Civil War with my friends.

I saddled up in the morning and somehow climbed out of bed even though excitement and nervousness had made it a little hard to sleep the night before. Also, I had very little sleep the day before but more on that Thursday. I hopped in my car and drove over to the school and I was surprised to find all of the parking in the world open to me. For some reason, I thought that everybody would be attending events all day like I was. I got my name tag and headed to the Math/Science building to meet up with my first event. I had signed up to go on a short birding trip mostly because of my relatives (Jack and Sandy). Everybody in the group was at least twenty years older than I was but it was still a lot of fun. The teacher and alumni who led it are bird experts and their interest was contagious. The coolest thing we saw was a Red-Tailed Hawk having a dogfight with an American Bald Eagle. I talked with another relative by marriage who (surprise!) is also a graduate of Friends. I also talked with a few other alumni who were very nice.

After that, it was time for a break from the school which was great because I was getting hungry too. I took off toward the Senator Theater and parked. I walked past Batman who was hanging outside of The Amazing Spiral and headed inside. The Amazing Spiral is my comic book shop when I’m in Baltimore because the staff is always knowledgeable and extremely courteous and welcoming. They always have a great selection of trade paperbacks and graphic novels which are usually what I spring for. I walked around and took the place in. There were people dressed as animals, superheroes and Disney characters and everybody had a smile on their face. Free Comic Book Day happens the first Saturday of May and is a nationwide holiday for geeks like me. I picked up my five comics and the second trade of Squirrel Girl. I also picked up Hawkeye #1 and an issue of Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat. I then drove north and grabbed a Qdoba burrito and headed back to the school to eat and listen to Chris Hardwick interview Bruce Campbell. After, I read a little bit of my haul as I relaxed.

Having observed the holiday the best I could without seeing Captain America again, I shut my eyes for a little to conserve my energy. I got bored of that after a while and I decided to walk around the campus for a little while to check things out. The campus had changed a lot since I went to school there and I wanted to walk around the place to see the new stuff and drink in the nostalgia of the old stuff. I ended up doing a lot of walking since it is a huge campus. Eventually, it was time for my schedule tour and I really enjoyed seeing all of the new stuff inside of the buildings. The school is a really good one and it seems that it is even better than when I went there. It made me sad that Baltimore public schools did not get the same advantages and awoke my liberal/progressive spirit at the unfairness. Seeing all of the stuff that was the same as when I went to school there was like a boxer getting hit with body blow after body blow. I felt swept up in memories every step I took and it was a really powerful tour to take.

Finally, we got to the cocktail party and I was excited and nervous since I had yet to run into anybody from my graduating class. I walked around the party and ran into Mr. Watt but time ticked by and I still had not seen anybody from my class. I thought for a moment that they had all blown off the event in favor of starting our private party earlier. Finally, I ran into one classmate and slowly that became four and then we were all together. Talking to them was like no time had passed but also felt like a million miles away from high school. High School really sucked and by the end of twelve years of being together, I never wanted to see my classmates again. However, as time has gone by it’s easier to remember all of the good times and forgive all of the stupid mistakes we each made. These people are all pretty good people and it was really a joy to have great conversations with them. We ended the night at Cosima’s at Mill No. 1 which was a little fancier than the places I like but it was a nice atmosphere to share with the handful of classmates who decided to show. I had a great time and I can’t wait until next time. It’s going to be a long five years.

The Mystery Part 4

June 6, 2015

The Mystery

Scott stood and turned toward the newcomer and made sure to keep his staff at the ready just in case. Whoever it was stepped from the shadows using slow, deliberate steps. They wore a hard plastic mask that was divided down the middle. One half was black and the other half was white. Their hair was long and impossibly straight and was dyed black and white to match the mask. The rest of their body was covered in what looked like black swat gear so that absolutely no skin was showing. They stood practically motionless with a very unnatural stillness.

“Who are you?” Scott asked, pointing at the stranger with his staff. If truth were told he was a little disappointed he hadn’t been the one to deliver Trixshot to the authorities. It shortened his temper a little bit.

“Such a paradox. Asking a man with a mask who he is.” They answered. Their voice was distorted by a voice changer which made it hard to tell who they were. It also made it hard to read emotion in their voice.

“What?” Scott asked, wrinkling his brow with a frown so much that he was almost afraid his domino mask would slip off. He silently thanked whatever forces that had invented strong special effects glue.

“A private joke. Sorry.” They chuckled. The sound was absolutely mirthless coming through the voice changer and more than a little creepy. “I am the Shadowtaker and I’ve been following you for quite some time.”

“Following me?” Scott asked and immediately kicked himself for not using the obvious “shadowing” pun. “Why are you following me?”

“Many people have donned costumes to either fight crime or commit crime. Some of those have incredible abilities and I have observed your healing powers from afar. Pretty soon those with special powers and abilities will outnumber the normal people in costumes. We need to prepare and preserve the balance.”

“I was an English Lit major and even I couldn’t say what any of that really meant. Yeah, I know there are people with powers. It’s kind of scary but I’m doing my best out here. If you want to help then great but A) you’re being over-dramatic and B) you’re being vague.”

“I apologize. I’m looking for people who can maintain the balance. This world needs order and a lot of force is required to bring about that order.”

“I know it’s kind of hypocritical but that sounds like taking the law into your hands a little too much. I might be breaking the law somewhat but I respect it and I’m happy to be a sheepdog, not a bloodhound. I don’t go looking for trouble.”

“That is unfortunate.” Shadowtaker replied, remaining stock still but somehow their stare became more penetrating. Scott tensed, ready for the fight.

“Police! Freeze!” The cop said as he turned the corner into the alley and drew his service pistol. Neither Scott nor the cop had time to react when Shadowtaker took a gun from somewhere and shot two rounds into the cop’s stomach.

“Asshole!” Scott yelled as he ran to kneel next to the cop. He tried to see what he could do. Thank God the library offered regular CPR and first aid classes. There was blood everywhere and it was all Scott could do to keep the cop from moving around. He brushed the cop’s gun away so nobody else got shot.

“I told you. It’s all about keeping the balance. One from one column,” He pointed to Trixshot “and one from the other.” He pointed to the cop. “The mission is of paramount importance. You will see that before the end comes. We will have order.”

“Shut up and call 911, you psycho.” Scott growled. The cop was beginning to go into shock so Scott ran to his bike and grabbed an emergency blanket and reached for one of the burner cell phones. He turned to go back to the cop and Shadowtaker was gone. Another psycho to look out for later. This one was creepy. Scott was back leaning over the cop when a woman rounded the corner and drew her own gun.

“Stay right where you are. You’re under arrest.”

Free Comic Book Day 2015

May 2, 2015

Free Comic Book Day is one of my favorite days of the year. Comic Books were a passion of mine as a kid and, even though I don’t collect them like I used to, I still love the comic book industry. I used to walk miles to my local comic book store to spend my allowance on Saturdays. That was Comics Kingdom which was bought and moved and then moved again since. Comics Kingdom was kind of an intimidating place to go into and it was very small. The new owners renamed the place The Amazing Spiral and moved it to just south of Northern and York across from the Senator. The new place is bright, big and the staff is very friendly and knowledgeable about comics and tons of geeky stuff.

The Amazing Spiral is where I’ve gone for the last three Free Comic Book Days and it’s where I went today. I got into the store shortly after opening and the place was packed but everybody was polite and nobody ever blocked access to a shelf for long. Several of the staff were dressed as costumed characters. We got a Spidey, Harley, Fiona (from Shrek), Loki and Finn (from Adventure Time) and that was just the staff. I saw a lot of kids dressed up in pretty great costumes. It made me feel good to see so many people there enjoying comics, especially seeing the next generation getting into the genre.

I picked up Grimm Fairy Tales’ Wonderland, Doctor Who, Avengers, Captain Canuck #0, Mega Man, Teen Titans Go! and I was lucky enough to pick up the last copy of Step Aside Pops. I am especially excited to see Step Aside Pops as I’m a huge fan of Kate Beaton and to see a webcomic artist hitting the mainstream is always cool.

I also picked these two graphic novels for the 25% off sale.

I’ve heard great things about this run of She-Hulk a it focuses equally on her law career and superheroics and mixes in quite a bit of comedy. I’ve been focusing a little more on female heroes lately because I neglected them when I was younger and, while I think I missed out, I think they’re written way better now.

I’ve been a fan of the Sandman Mystery Theater series since college. I like the Sandman (Wesley Dodds) character and I like the mix of 1940’s and dreamlike setting. You’re seeing the world through the eyes of an insomniac, a man troubled by nightmares who instead fights crime.

I hit Qdoba for a burrito and headed over to the Rotunda for Phase 2 of my day. Of course, it was Phase 2 literally because it was Avengers: Age of Ultron, the end of the second phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I got there right before the theater opened and ended up fifth in line to buy tickets. This turned out to be lucky because even at this matinee, the theater was packed to the gills.

The movie was awesome. I had high expectations after the rest of Phase 2 was so, so good and this movie actually exceeded those expectations. I laughed, I teared up, I gasped and several of us even clapped at moments. I don’t want to spoil anything but everybody turned in good performances, even the characters with the smallest amount of screen time. Please, if you like these movies even an iota, do yourself a favor and check this one out.

Now I’ve got plenty of read and plenty to think about before I see Avengers 2 probably about ten more times. It was a good day.


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