Thursday, 7 February 2019

Reading Comics In The 21st Century


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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.

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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 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

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.

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.

Monday, 14 January 2019

The Punisher Returns


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.


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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!

Monday, 10 December 2018


Editor's Note:
Hey there readers, my Star Trek piece will require a bit more work.  In the meantime, find out how SHAZAM #1 became a gripe, instead of a pick.

Spotlight Pick  Gripe:
Last week DC fans were able to pick up the first issue of SHAZAM! to be published in twenty years. The title is, undoubtedly, being revived now in order to energize a fanbase for the April 5, 2019 movie release.

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I REALLY wanted to like this #1, I did.  I grew up with the character, and was anxious to read his comic book again.  Boy, did I waste $4.99.

OK, I had resigned myself to the fact that they could no longer call the character Captain Marvel, even though he was using the name long before Marvel Comics' Carol Danvers ever met the Kree.  Still, I'd begrudgingly accepted the fact going in.

The name was the least of this book's problems.  My main gripe is the fact that there was no action in the story.  Yes, there was a run-of-the-mill hold up, but with 6 Marvels/SHAZAMS to answer the call, there was no fight or tension to speak of.  If I'm going to pay $5 for a comic book, I want to see some high-powered action damn it!

Monday, 3 December 2018

A Fond Farewell to Old Man Logan

Editor's Note:

This week I only have a Spotlight Pick for my readers, but it's a must read for anyone who's a fan of the X-Men.  Coming soon though, I'll be sharing my thoughts on fan produced Star Trek movies in and episodes.  Stay tuned compatriots. ☺

Spotlight Pick:

In the fall of 2014, as the result of an alien virus, Wolverine lost his healing factor and was supposedly killed.

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Rather than leaving their X-Titles Logan-less, Marvel Comics brought Old Man Logan, from a parallel universe, into the main 616 universe to keep fans from going into Adamantium withdrawal.  While he never donned the blue and yellow tights, he delivered the same razor-sharp style of action and gruff attitude we were accustomed to.

Now that they're bringing the primary Wolverine back, Old Man Logan is getting a 12 issue send off.  I just read #1, and without giving anything away, which isn't in the promotional material, Logan knows he's dying, and he's determined to take down one last villain.

The first issue, released on November 28th, 2018, is a bit spendy at $4.99, but if you can swing it it's worth the read.  Future issues will drop to $3.99.

Monday, 19 November 2018

Picking Nits With The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Spotlight Pick:

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On November 12, 2018 the comic book world lost its, arguably, greatest creator, Stan Lee, at the age of 95.   If you're reading this blog, it's a pretty safe bet that you know who Lee was and you're familiar with his work.  Yet for those of you who live under a rock, Stan Lee was a prolific writer and creator at Marvel Comics.

In 1939,  Lee, age 19, was hired by Timely Comics, which would eventually become Marvel Comics.  After two decades of working on romance comics and western comics, he was given a crack at the superhero genre.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Stan Lee went on to create some of comic books', and pop culture's, greatest icons including; Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Ant-Man, the original X-Men, and hundreds of others.

He will be missed by true believers everywhere.

Picking Nits With The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina:

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October 26, 2018 Netflix dropped the first 10 episode season of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Because one of her parents was a witch and one was a mortal, Sabrina belongs to both worlds the same way Aquaman,  Namor, and Starlord do.  Walking the line between the two realms allows her to use her magical  super powers to help her mortal friends.

I knew going in that this show would be a darker version of the character Sabrina The Teenage Witch the same way that The CW's Riverdale in her darker version of Archie and Jughead.  I was prepared for an action oriented drama about good verses evil.  What I was not prepared for was the focus on devil worship.

While I am a Christian, I am not what you would you call a "bible thumper".  I can enjoy a Spawn or Hellboy comic book same as the next guy.  I can enjoy magic based shows such as Midnight Texas and Charmed as well.  However, those show don't feature heroic characters spouting, "Hail Satan," and referring to Christ as, "the false God," in almost every episode, in a bizarre attempt to hit viewers over the head with the satanic angle.

I could almost write it off as part of a fictional world if they had not gone out of their way to use the term Wicca.  By using the term, the show associates their characters with a real religion.  After college  I dabbled with the Wiccan religion for two years, and it has nothing to do with devil worship.  Real life witchcraft is about harnessing the power of mother earth and using it in a positive way.  To equate Wicca with devil worship reinforces the negative misconceptions which already exist in the world.

If your not like me, and a focus on devil worship does not bother you, you will enjoy 10 episodes of a magic based super hero show along the lines of Charmed and Legacies.  As for me, it makes me feel just uncomfortable enough to make me avoid season 2 unless they do a crossover with Riverdale. 

Monday, 29 October 2018

Women Can Be Doctors Too

Spotlight Pick:

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Since I last updated this blog, Netflix dropped the third thirteen episode season of its inaugural Marvel Comics series, Daredevil.  Picking up shortly after the end of the first season of Defenders, season 3, based loosely on the graphic novel "Daredevil: Born Again," tells the story of Matt Murdoch trying to recoup from his injuries and put his life back together.

While I'm a little disappointed that Matt utilizes his black costume from season one, rather than his red costume from season two, I'm enjoying the show.  The highlight of the season is seeing Vincent D'Onofrio reprise his role as the villainous Wilson Fisk AKA Kingpin.

On a related note, although the second season of Iron Fist was far better than the first season, Netflix decided to cancel the season after season two.

Women Can Be Doctors Too:

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Since 1963, the Doctor has traveled through time and space rescuing people from the forces of evil.  Being a Time Lord is dangerous work, which has resulted in the Doctor's death more than once.  Fortunately, every time the Doctor dies he regenerates into an all new person. The 13th incarnation (not counting John Hurt as the War Doctor) of the doctor happens to be a women played by Jodie Whittaker.

There was speculation for almost a year about how audiences would receive the a female Doctor.  So far fans have welcomed the lady doctor with open arms.  While I'm sure that the liberal attitudes towards sexualilty in England helped, I don't think it was the only factor.  Over the last two decades audiences have been softened up to the idea of gender transformation.

In 2004, the Sci-Fi Channel aired a revamped version of Battlestar Galactica.  In that show the characters Starbuck and Boomer were changed from men into women without loosing their heroic toughness.  It took some getting used to, but after the first season viewers accepted the cigar chomping fighter pilots as favorite characters in their own right.

Outside the sci-fi realm, the CBS show Elementary reimagined the characters Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson as modern day characters in New York.  The show cast Lucy Liu to play Dr. Watson was an Asian women.  While this was an obvious departure from the classic Doyle character, it worked. The character was still a smart courageous side-kick for Sherlock Holmes.

Over in the world of comics, Thor's hammer was wielded by a women for over a year.  After the initial grumbling died down, the comic sold as well as it always had.

After watching four episodes of Doctor Who, I feel safe in saying Jodie Whittaker has captured the spirit of the doctor.  We are still transported through time and space and treated to exciting adventures fraught with danger.  The Doctor still uses her wits and courage to save the day.

Perhaps viewers have embraced the idea that one's character isn't solely defined by their gender.  If so, there may be hope for society to apply this noble truth to life outside of fiction.  Wouldn't that be nice?

Keep My Heroes In The Light

- Current Pick: Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program . Now that I've ragged on dark comics, I just picked up issue No. 1 ...