Thursday, 6 June 2019

Bye Bye Westeros

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It's been way too long since I’ve written one of these blogs.  I have no excuse.  Well, that’s not true.  I have multiple excuses, but simply none that are any good.  I think my sails lost some wind when I couldn't get to the movies to see Captain Marvel or SHAZAM!

While I’ve been gone, the world of geekdom has seen several major developments.  I’m not going to address them all, but I want to touch on two of them.

SPOILER WARNINGS FOR AVENGERS/AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D & GAME OF THRONES
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I'm not going to address the events of End Game, it's been analyzed by a good portion of blogosphere has already picked it apart.  That being said, I feel the need to address a plot hole regarding Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  The show was synced with the Avengers’ timeline at the end of last season.  This season picked up one year later, which should put it a year after the snap.  Yet, the show completely ignores the fact that half the people on Earth are gone.  It's just lazy writing.  Grrrrrrrrrr…….  Enough said about that.


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I’d rather spend time giving my impressions of the Game of Thrones’ finale.  I know that’s been picked apart too, but I’ve been hashing it over with my friend Kyle, so I thought it'd be fun to post my thoughts here too.  Kyle, you can take a nap, I’ve told you all this.

I liked the way the story ended,  for the most part.  Although, I wanted Sam to kill Daenerys to avenge his father and brother.  Jon doing it though was powerful, but having Daenerys inadvertently create her own worst enemy would have been so much more epic.

In a similar vain, I REALLY WANTED Jaime to kill Sersi.  It would have been a great moment of redemption for his character.  Going from an incestuous sleaze who pushes boys out of windows to a knight who kills his lover for the good of the kingdom would have made a complete hero’s journey.  Still dying in each other's arms, while Bran came out on top was poetic justice.

When I watched it, I groaned at Bran becoming king.  I thought they did it just for the sake of the big twist.  I thought about it though, and given all the people who struggled to protect him, it made sense.  Hodor died holding the door to protect the one who would be king.  We live for the one, we die for the one.  Oh wait, that’s from a different saga.

I think Arya served her purpose.  Some people think she should've killed Sersi, but given that she had already killed the Night King and saved humanity from the White Walkers, it seems like a lot to ask.  Just saying.  There is a rumor she may get her own spin-off showing us what's west of Westeros.  We’ll see.

Right now, I’m gearing up for The Dark Phoenix Saga.  I know going in that they have to combine The Phoenix Saga with The Dark Phoenix Saga, so that won't bother me.  I just hope they do better with The Dark Phoenix Saga than they did with Apocalypse.

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Enjoying War Of The Realms

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Enjoying War Of The Realms:

When Odin of Midgard, Thor’s father, is, supposedly, murdered by Malekith’s forces, the Ten Realms are drawn into a war which will determine the fate of all existence.


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After reading issue #1, this is my non-spoilery synopsis of Marvel’s latest mega event, War Of The Realms. Like all mega events, since the original Secret Wars, the story consists of a main title, several tie-in titles, and relevant issues of ongoing titles.

Act 1: The World at War - April Books
War of the Realms #1 |
War of the Realms #2 |
Asgardians of the Galaxy #8 |
Avengers #18 |
Thor #12 |
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #43 |
Venom #13 |
War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery #1 |
War of the Realms: Punisher #1 |
War of the Realms: War Scrolls #1 |
War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #1 |

Act 2: (Title Unknown) - May Books
War of the Realms #3 |
War of the Realms #4 |
War of the Realms Strikeforce: The Dark Elf Realm #1 |
War of the Realms Strikeforce: The War Avengers #1 |
War of the Realms Strikeforce: The Land of Giants #1 |
War of the Realms: Spider-Man and the League of Realms #1 |
War of the Realms: Spider-Man and the League of Realms #2 |
War of the Realms: War Scrolls #2 |
War of the Realms: Punisher #2 |
War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas #1 |
War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas #2 |
War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery #2 |
War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery #3 |
War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #2 |
Fantastic Four #10 |
Venom #14 |
Giant Man #1 |
Giant Man #2 |
Asgardians of the Galaxy #9 |
Thor #13 |
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #44 |
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #43 |
Champions #5 |
Tony Stark: Iron Man #12 |
Avengers #19 |

Act 3: (Title Unknown) - June Books
War of the Realms #5 |
War of the Realms #6 |
War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery #4 |
War of the Realms: Journey Into Mystery #5 |
War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas #3 |
War of the Realms: New Agents of Atlas #4 |
War of the Realms: Punisher #3 |
War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #3 |
War of the Realms: War Scrolls #3 |
Thor #14 |
Champions #6 |
Avengers #20 |
Captain Marvel #6 |
Captain Marvel #7 |
Deadpool #13 |
Deadpool #14 |
Asgardians of the Galaxy #10 |
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #45 |
Tony Stark: Iron Man #13 |
War Of The Realms: Omega #1

Make no mistake, I DO NOT plan to collect every single tie-in. Not only would it eat up way too much of my bank account, I learned long ago (in 1991 with DC’s Armageddon 2001 and War Of The Gods) that many tie-in issues don't add much to the over all story.

As for me, I’m going to collect the main title, War Of The Realms: Punisher, War Of The Realms: Uncanny X-Men, War Of The Realms: Scrolls (because Captain America is in it), and the tie-in issues of the titles I normally collect. I recommend you do the same; find a few tie-in titles featuring heroes you really like, and don't knock yourself out trying to collect every single skirmish.


Editor's Note:

To make these blogs easier to post on social media, I'm moving the Spotlight section back to the end of each entry.


Spotlight:

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Happy!, arguably one of most bizarre shows on TV, has returned to SyFy for a second season. The show, based on the graphic novel of the same name, tells the story of, alcoholic ex-detective, Nick Sax being guided by his daughter's imaginary blue unicorn.

The first season was about rescuing his daughter from a sadistic Santa. This season revolves around a sado-masochistic Easter Bunny and a plot to control the Easter holiday by scamming the Pope. Happy! is a show jam packed with graphic violence, adult language, and sexually suggestive content. While the show is crude, violent, and COMPLETELY INAPPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN, adults will find a hilarious exciting series.

Happy! airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on SyFy.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

SHAZAM Is Just The Magic Word!

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Spotlight:
Based on Neil Gaiman’s book of the same name, American Gods has returned to Starz for a second season.

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Starring Ian McShane as “Mr. Wednesday," the show tells the story of the old Gods (Odin, Belquis, Czernobog, Anansi, etc…) trying to find their place in a world which worships Technology, Media, and similar new Gods. If such an array of characters wasn’t eclectic enough, Gaiman throws a zombie, a six foot tall leprechaun, and an excon named Shadow into the mix for good measure.

Stir the pot and the result is an exciting, mind bending tale filled with violence, dark humor, and profoundly thought provoking ideas about why we believe what we believe.

Due to the use of graphic violence and adult language, this is not a show for the little ones. Yet, adults, who tune into Starz on Sunday nights, will find new episodes of an intelligent entertaining series.


SHAZAM Is Just The Magic Word!
The movie Captain Marvel opened on March 8th, and has been breaking box office records. SHAZAM opens in theatres on April 5th. Bizarrely, at least to us old farts, the two movies are about two completely different characters.


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When I was growing up, Billy Batson shouted SHAZAM (Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, Mercury) in order to transform into the world’s mightiest mortal Captain Marvel. Now SHAZAM is the name of the hero Billy Batson turns into, and Captain Marvel is a female heroin in a different universe. So, WTF happened ?

Fawcett Comics, the original publishers of Captain Marvel/SHAZAM comics, cancelled the title in the 1950s. In the 1960s, Marvel Comics trademarked the name Captain Marvel for their own Kree alien superhero, which meant when DC licensed the Fawcett characters in 1972, they had the Fawcett character named Captain Marvel, but couldn’t call the comic Captain Marvel, so they used his magic word “SHAZAM!” for the title.

The rule applied to non-print media as well. When Billy Batson made his TV debut in 1974, his show was titled The SHAZAM/Isis Hour, which I looked forward to every Saturday morning. Eventually, DC grew tired of making the distinction, and renamed the character SHAZAM when they rebooted their line of comics as “The New 52.”

In my mind, SHAZAM will always be Captain Marvel, mainly out of tradition. Plus, if you think about it, it just makes more sense. If his name and magic word are the same, how can the hero tell someone his name without reverting to Billy Batson?

Thursday, 28 February 2019

The Umbrella Academy Graduates To Netflix

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Spotlight:

In 1975, the Justice League of America hit ABC’s Saturday morning air waves as the Super Friends. The first, kid friendly, season saw Wendy, Marvin, and their Scooby-Doo-esc pet Wonder Dog serving as the Super Friends’ interns. The second season saw the interns suddenly replace with the shape shifting Wonder Twins; Zan, Jayna, and their pet space-monkey Gleek.


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Unless you were fortunate enough to have read Super Friends #7, you had no idea the original interns had gone to Ivy University (Ray Palmer’s fictional university) and Paradise Island to further their educations, and the Wonder Twins had been sent from their planet, Exxor, to learn how to be super heroes. You only knew that when they touched hands, to activate their powers, he could turn into any water construct and she could turn into any animal.

Since the end of the Saturday morning series, in 1984, the twins have made occasional appearances in Extreme Justice, Teen Titans, Young Justice, and Smallville Season 11. Now, written by Mark Russell, with art by Stephen Byrne, DC has finally given the siblings their own title.

The new incarnation depicts the twins as exiles, rather than exchange students. Yet, like their TV predecessors, they're again being shepherded by Superman, and interning in the Hall of Justice, as they try to adapt to their new planet.

Wonder Twins is a light hearted comic book geared toward kids and teens, with plenty of super hero cameos and high school hijinks.  Think Archie meets the Justice League.


The Umbrella Academy Graduates To Netflix:


Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
On October 1, 1989, 43 women around the world give birth simultaneously, despite none of them showing any sign of pregnancy until labor began. Seven of the children are adopted by eccentric billionaire Sir Reginald Hargreeves. This is the first bit of information the audience is given as the Netflix series, based on the Dark Horse comic book series by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, begins.

What follows is a majestically off beat super hero drama. Seeing a loosely knit team of super powered individuals who don't all get along invites comparisons to the X-Men. Yet, the grand mansion and non-human staff reminded me of SyFy’s Sanctuary.

Without revealing spoilers, it’s safe to say we meet our characters just as their lives change and they're thrust into a mystery. As soon as we start to get into the mystery, another, more ominous threat rears its head.

I’m only three episodes into the series, and so far I'm having a lot of fun with it. Not only is their plenty of high powered action, but the characters are written with layers of complexity, making them come across as believable despite their powers.

Although this is a superhero show, I’d recommend watching it when the little ones are in the other room. Violence and use of adult language makes this a show for adults and mature teens.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Reading Comics In The 21st Century

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Spotlight:

Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
As a result of Flashpoint, during which Barry came to know Bruce’s father, the two heroes formed a bond. Batman and The Flash reunited in 2017’s The Button (Batman 21 & 22 and The Flash 21 & 22), which laid the foundation for the maxi-series Doomsday Clock.

The two detectives are together again in The Price (Batman 64 & 65 and The Flash 64 & 65). Without spoiling any significant plot points, Batman 64 opens in the middle of an exciting Justice League battle with a classic foe. From there our heroes are immediately thrust into a mystery, the result of which may have as great an impact on the DC Universe as Flashpoint and The Button. We’ll see.





Reading Comics In The 21st Century:
When I was a kid, I’d pick up the odd comic book at 7-11 to kill time. I didn't start regularly reading and collecting comic books until I was 19, in 1989. Through the decades I’ve amassed a sizeable collection.

Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.

I have jam packed boxes of comic books in my bedroom, the garage, and in a rented storage space in town.  That’s right, I’m paying to store comics which I’ll probably never read again.  It’d be one thing if I had loads of rare collector items worth loads of cash, but that’s not the case.

Back when the medium was in its infancy, most kids bought, read, and traded comics as though they were toys (which is how they were intended to be used and enjoyed).  If the occasional copy was found in mint condition, decades later, it was worth something.

Then news of a Captain America Comics #1 selling for $343,000, or an Action Comics #1 selling for $3,200,000 circulated through Nerdtopia and became folklore.  Pretty soon everyone with a copy of Batman in their attic thought they had a golden ticket to Easy Street.

Comic book companies caught wind of this mania and began labeling certain issues as “Collector Items.”  Savvy collectors began buying up, and carefully storing, these gems as investments.  Of course since the things were mass produced, they'll never be rare enough to be valuable.  Thus, I’m storing thousands of books for no reason.

I still enjoy reading new stories, but have nowhere to put them.   While I will miss the gang at my local comic book shop, I’ve decided to read my stories on ComiXology.com from now on.  They get all issues every Wednesday, just like the brick and mortar shops.

I'm not sure what the future of comic books is.  The romantic in me hopes the physical shops don't go away completely.  However, for me, until I have a mansion with unlimited storage space, digital comics are the way to go. -


Tuesday, 29 January 2019

The Best Star Trek May Be Non-Canonical

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Spotlight:
Planetary Union Captain Ed Mercer commands the Starship Orville as he, and his eclectic crew, explores the galaxy.


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Show creator, and star, Seth MacFarlane brilliantly straddles the line between literary allusion and plagiarism with this hit Fox series. While the alien races, ship designs, and technical babble are different from those of Gene Roddenberry’s well established universe, The Orville throws an obvious nod toward Star Trek: The Next Generation. The color coded uniforms, pristine well-lit ship, and bridge layout all remind one of televised tales of Picard’s heroic crew.

Sure, this show focuses much more on comedy than its predecessor, but between the jokes one will find well written science fiction stories filled with excitement, intelligence, and heart.

Technically it’s not Star Trek, but Thursday nights, at 9pm, it’s a fun way for fans to get their Trekkie fix.
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The Best Star Trek May Be Non-Canonical:
I've been watching Star Trek since 1977, and attending conventions since 1985. I'm a Trekkie in every sense of the word.


Subject: This image is a promotional poster for the Star Trek: New Voyages series
Star Trek fans, in general, are known for being... exuberant.  Most of us get our "Trek on" by dressing up and attending conventions once or twice a year.  However, a hand full of zealous fans, apparently, weren't satisfied with this level if fantasy, so they've taken it to the next level.   They've written and produced their own episodes.

The first of these fan-run production companies, I was aware of, was James Cawley's Star Trek: New Voyages.

With himself in the starring role of Captain James T. Kirk, Cawley & company produced 10 episodes of Star Trek, complete with authentic looking sets and costumes.

If the quality of the production wasn’t impressive enough, somehow they were able to pay Trek stars, including; George Takei, Walter Koenig, Denise Crosby, William Windom, and others; to do guest spots in episodes. Keep in mind, since they don’t hold the copyright to Star Trek, they’re not allowed to make ANY money from these episodes. These are purely products of the love of Star Trek.

Star Trek was always at its best when it used stories to talk about contemporary issues. The writers of this series didn’t forget that simple truth. One story arch, beginning with episode 4, involved Kirk’s gay nephew coming out to his womanizing uncle. Seeing Captain Kirk officiate a same sex wedding was marvelous.

Sadly, after ten episodes production ceased in 2015 and their website came down. However, the web series can still be found on YouTube.

I thought Cawley’s series was the only game in town. Not so, Number One Son. As it turns out, YouTube is peppered with such productions. The makers of the movie, Starfleet Academy, hired William Shatner, George Takei, and Christopher Plummer to star in their story. Walter Koenig stars as Admiral Chekov in Star Trek: Renegades, while the crews of the Farragut and Exeter explore space with entirely original casts of characters.

Of course the quality of the special effects, sets, acting ability, and wardrobe varies from production to production. Yet, motivated by love for the show, they've each captured the spirit of Star Trek in a way CBS’s current offering hasn’t.
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Monday, 14 January 2019

The Punisher Returns

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I haven't posted here for a while, partly because of a busy holiday, and partly because it's been hard to care about writing about nerdcentric pop culture when our country is self-destructing.  Yet, it could be argued that diversion, via comics & scifi, may be the only thing keeping some of us sane.

I'm still polishing my piece on fan-made Star Trek productions, but I wanted to get this spotlight up ASAP.  I think I'm going to post a "Spotlight" each week, whether, or not, I have a main feature ready.



Spotlight:


Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
This Friday, 01/18/2019, Netflix will be dropping season 2 of Marvel's Punisher.  Being a long time fan of the character, I devoured season 2 of Dare Devil (where Jon Bernthal debuted as The Punisher) and season 1 of Punisher.

While I liked Bernthal's portrayal of the psychotic brooding hero, Frank Castle, season 1 wasn't without its problems.  It's not a spoiler to reveal that the story involves Frank befriending a single parent family.  Seeing Frank visit a family in the burbs didn't feel like the Punisher to me.  Frank works best in either an urban downtown, or jungle combat, setting.  If he'd watched out for a poor, but honest, single parent family in Hell's Kitchen it might have been a better fit.

Nevertheless, the writing & urban combat action scenes were good enough to make me look forward to season 2 this week.  Plus, like I told my friend, Kyle, Jigsaw looks awesome in the trailer!  It looks like they're making him a hands-on criminal thug instead of a mob boss.  Can't wait!

Reading Comics In The 21st Century

- Spotlight: Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program . As a result of Flashpoint , during which Barry came to know Bruce’s f...