Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Yeah, so I failed at the whole "posting daily" this year, didn't I. Anyway, it's New Year's Eve, so have yourself a good one, and more importantly a safe one.

I do plan on posting much more often in 2010, so I've got that going for me. See you in the future!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 23

I saw a fair amount of live music shows in 2009, but without a doubt one of my favorites was seeing a cover band. Tributosaurus is a Chicago collective that, once a month, picks a band and performs one show "as" that band, playing pitch-perfect renditions of their songs, obtaining all of the necessary musicians and instruments required. Though I've only seen them once so far, I got to see them "be" one of my absolute favorites, XTC. Which is nice, because we're not likely to see XTC ever tour, should they ever choose to reform, that is. Here's a infomercial they did to promote it:

They started of with a version of Life Begins at the Hop that blew the doors off, cycling through multiple vocalists and musicians in order to get every song exactly right, and they did.

It was a great night, both from my overwhelming familiarity with the music and with the fact that they played it so well. I can't wait to see them in just over a week when they play a New Year's Eve show "as" Tom Petty. I'm sure it'll be a fantastic evening.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Favorite Things II: Day 14*

A quick one for today, here's DC Comics Holiday Card, featuring Jonah Hex, with pencils by José Luis Garcia-Lopez, inks by Kevin Nowlan and colors by Matt Hollingsworth. Just a beautiful card.

click to Santa-size

Art via Kevin Nowlan's blog.

*I know, I know, I'm three days behind here. Will catch up tonight!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 13

Today's favorite thing is a repeat from last year, it's the internet. Mostly because of shit like this:

A compilation of all of the deaths from Total Recall. YES.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 12

Since it's a lazy Saturday here at the Phoning It In Industries compound, let's pull out an oldie but goodie, what is probably my favorite single comics panel:

It's from JSA: The Liberty Files, a DC Elseworlds title reimagining a Wolrd War II era Justice Society. But even on an alternate earth, Batman's still The God Damn Batman.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Favorite Things II: Day 11

Whew, almost missed today, well shit. Sorry about this, but I've been on a business trip, but let's go with one of my favorite artists of the last few years, Gene Ha. I got the chance to meet him at my local, Amazing Fantasy Books & Comics and he's a darn nice guy, he even did this awesome sketch for my youngest.

Anyway, though he hasn't done any interior work this year, he did do the covers for what was probably my favourite mini-series of the year, JSA vs. Kobra, here's one of those covers.

Anyway, he's a cool guy, and it just so happens if you're in Chicago, he'll be appearing at 3rd Coast Comics tomorrow from 12 - 5. Swing on by and meet him, grab a sketch and buy some books.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 10

Sorry, on a business trip this week, so I'm kind of out of sorts but here's an album that I love so very much from this year and it's great and you should get it*. Mayer Hawthorne's A Strange Arrangement is as fine an R&B record as I have heard this year and it is the JAM.

*Can you tell I'm a little drunk as I write this?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Favorite Things II: Day 9

Skottie Young has been on my radar for a couple of years, and though I generally enjoyed his cover work, I never eally got into his storytelling. However, this year saw the release of his & Eric Shanower's excellent adaptation of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Young's cartoonish art perfectly fit the book and it brought a wonderful story (that I was thus far only familiar with from the movie) to life. I highly suggest checking out the book, especially if you have kids as it is easily the best all-ages book released this year.

Favorite Things II - Day 8

Well, I've already gone over my favorite movie of the year, now let's talk about the movie I thought was the best.

Moon is easily the best movie I saw this year. Sam Rockwell puts in an amazing performance as a man working alone on the moon, waiting for his tour to end so he can return to his wife and child. One morning, he has an accident and from there, things get strange. I hesitate to say more and if you don't know anything else about the movie, I urge you not to seek out any more information before seeing it. While foreknowledge of the plot does not lessen your enjoyment of it, but the movie is best if you go in with no expectations. This is just a great movie and Rockwell is great in it. Co-Writer & Director Duncan Jones takes a simple story and did not go the easy route with it, so many times I expected him to take a different approach to the story, but where he went ultimately felt much more natural and "real" than most genre films. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't come to video till late January, but I urge you to seek it out, it's a winner.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 7

A few months ago, I wrote a post talking about my problems with Fringe. Fortunately, most of my problems were solved through the remainder of the first season, opening up the series universe(s) to show where creator JJ Abrams and co. were going with the show. The thing I like most about the show, and something it shares with his previous show, Alias, is that he's not afraid to blow up the shows status quo from season to season. Initially, we thought The Pattern was to be the big bad of the show, the enemy for our heroes to fight each week, but by the end, The Pattern were shown to be much more complicated than previously thought and then pushed aside to show what the true enemy was: another Earth, one that wants to take over our own.

Throughout this, they've kept the stuff I liked, Crazy Walter is still crazy, but his madness has been deepened and given reason, something that just about anyone can understand. Peter's mysteriousness has been given an edge, one that the character himself doesn't yet understand. And Olivia has been further humanized, both by the inclusion of her sister and the fact they've since allowed her to smile once or twice.

I've really been enjoying the second season thus far, though I could have done without the baseball playoffs throwing a wrench into the scheduling, but it's quickly risen to be one of my must watch shows. Glad to know there's something that will still keep me guessing in a few months once Lost is gone.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Favorite Things II : Day 6 *UPDATE*

Well shit, not 12 hours after I hit "publish" on today's post, does Saturday Night Live do a parody of the very same infomercial. Probably the finest thing they've done this year:

Favorite Things II - Day 6

Another lazy day here at the headquarters, but do I have a treat for you. This had undoubtedly been my favorite viral video of the year. Though you may be unfamiliar with the uniquely awful "musical" stylings of the Insane Clown Posse (once notable for being kicked off their label for being too obscene...and awful), but they have built up quite a large following, called Juggalos. This following is so large that they hold a massive, three day festival called the "Gathering of the Juggalos". To promote it this year, they made an infomercial. The most awesome infomercial I have ever seen. I warn you, it is close to 15 minutes long, but goodness, is it worth it. I'd recommend reading The International Society of Supervillains running commentary on the video as you go, as it is one of the best pieces of of internet comedy writing of the year:

Are you entertained? Disturbed? Good.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 5

As you may remember, Saturday's are lazy days of the Favorite Things. So here's a video featuring one (or rather two) of my favorite things of 2009: DRUNK EWOKS.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 4

As with most previous years, I only managed to see a few movies in the theater this year. Most of those were with the boys and for some, the less said, the better . Part of the reason I didn't see a lot was simply because this Summer's blockbuster movie season was rather lacking. No big releases that made me block out time in my schedule just so I could see it on opening night or make an evening of it with some one. That is the new reboot of Star Trek.

While I am a Star Trek fan, I am not a STAR TREK FAN. I am in no way scandalized that Paramount chose to re-boot the original series with an all-new cast. It makes perfect sense if you are trying to cast the net past the same fans that are going to see the movie no matter what. People who aren't fans know certain things just because they are ingrained in the culture: Kirk, Spock, "Beam me up Scotty", etc. To drop $150 million or so on anything that lacked those makes no sense.

Going into the movie, I expected some pretty explosions, and hopefully a few nods to the things that made Star Trek such a great show, the relationships, the nobility and promise of a hopeful future...and they nailed it. Instead of having the actors simply impersonate Shatner, Nimoy, etal, they managed to capture the spirit they brought to their roles and still make it seem new. And it's just all such a good time. Saw in twice in the theater and have seen it now a few more on DVD and it's just excellent. It certainly isn't the best movie of the year, but it certainly is my favorite.

*For more, go ahead and click over to my original review of the movie from this Summer.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 3

I'm going to try to stick to more theme-days this month, simply because it makes it a little easier to plans things out for me, so Thursday shall here-by be THUG THURSDAYS, celebrating some of my favorites in crime fiction from the past year (either new released or new to me).

Let's start with what is easily one of the best books of the year, Darwyn Cooke's graphic novel adaptation of Richard Stark's The Hunter.

If not the best of Stark's Parker books, it easily the most adapted, being made into films such as Point Blank and Payback, and many others that are not official, it is a simple story. After a big heist, Parker's partner and wife attempt to kill him and run off with the money. Living through the attempt, Parker slowly recovers, and then comes back looking for his money...and if he gets a little revenge along the way, so be it.

The best choice made with this adaptation is that they kept the setting in the sixties, which plays to Cooke's artistic strengths and the book is stunning to look at. Eschewing full-color to work in a muted palate of blacks and blues conveying the mood of cold dread throughout the whole book. Take a look at this preview of the fist 20 pages of the book to see how he conveys the silent ruthlessness of Parker, moving forward like a shark looking for his money.

I really can't praise this book enough and others have done it much better this year (and probably in the next few weeks since it is sure to end up on every year-end best-of list), so simply if you enjoyed the genre of crime books/comics this is an essential.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Favorite Things II - Day 2

It's Wednesday, so as most of you know it is new comics day so every Wednesday this month I'll try to spot-light a new comics series from the past year that has wowed me.

Let's start off easy with what is without a doubt in my mind the best series of the year, though not new, it is certainly a new direction, Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III run in Detective Comics, featuring Batwoman. I've been a fan of Rucka's for quite sometime, starting with his initial comics work, Whiteout*. Since then, through his creator-owned series Queen & Country and his excellent work on my favorite series Gotham Central (along with co-writer Ed Brubaker and artist Michael Lark) he has created/worked on some amazing female characters. When he created the new Batwoman, Kate Kane, in the weekly series 52, I was interested, though the media centered on the fact that she is gay, I saw that there was much more possibilities with the character than what we was initially on display. I kept up with her appearance in other event series, but she was never given a spotlight until now and man, was it worth the wait. We're still mid-way through the origin arc of the character, but it's something special and unique and it's nice to see that in mainstream superhero comics there's still room for something new.

Obviously when talking about this series you can't ignore the art, J.H. Williams II I a truly great artist. His painted work on the Batwoman scenes is just amazing and the effortlessness that he moves between other styles is just amazing. If you'd shown me this book without the artist credits, I would have told you there were at least three other pencillers working on this book, but he just makes it work so well, and instead of seeming a mish-mash it blends together so well. Here's an example of a fight scene that he did that is just amazing:

The fluidity of the image is amazing. And also, it include two face-kicks, which is awesome.

Also, I shouldn't leave out the back-up stories featuring The Question, the secret identity of my favorite character from Gotham Central, Renee Montoya. It's unfortunate that these stories are getting overlooked or criticized simply because they are very good rather than great. The first arc told a nice action story about human smuggling and Cully Hammer's art is perfect for it. It's good stuff, but it can't help but be overshadowed by the main story.

This is a great book, and easily one of my favorite things of the year.

*We won't speak of the, shall we say unfortunate, movie adaptation from this year.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Favorite Things II: Day 1

Ho ho ho folks, as it is the happiest season of the year (for some of us at least), I figured it's once again time to share some of my favorite things from the past year (and just the past). Anyway, let's start off light, though seasonally appropriate. though the idea of a Bob Dylan Christmas album sounds odd, I've found myself enjoying it quite a bit. I think the video for "Must Be Santa" sums it up quote weel, though Bob looks like he's auditioning for the role of the Mad hatter in a Holiday-themed version of Alice in Wonderland, it works within the rather mad-cap feel of both the video and the song.

So I hope you all are starting to emege from your post-Thanksgiving food-coma and are starting to get into the mood. Look forward to sharing a lot more over the coming days.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Coming Tomorrow: CONTENT

Hey folks, I know things have been slow around here other than the occasional post pointing out my reviews over at PopSyndicate, well boy howdy is that about to change, as you may remember from last December, I went into high-content mode posting about one of my favorite things each day of the month, leading up to Christmas. I'm doing it again, starting tomorrow, so buckle up fr 25 straight days of crap from me cluttering up your RSS feed!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

New Reviews @ PopSyndicate

Have two new reviews up at PopSyndicate today:

Adventure Comics #4

While Geoff Johns certainly has enough balls up in the air juggling his current event, Blackest Night, he decided to use this tie-in as a sequel to his last two event titles, Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds.

Punisher #11

If Jason Aaron’s Punisher MAX is the Punisher version of The Wire, Remender’s is the Punisher version of Crank.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009 Review: R.E.B.E.L.S. #10

My review of the Blackest Night tie-in, R.E.B.E.L.S. #10 is up at

I haven't been keeping up with DC's "cosmic" titles since 52, but since I was picking up a copy of R.E.B.E.L.S. in my quest to get all of the promotional lantern rings DC is distributing with various Blackest Night tie-in titles. My familiarity with this title is limited, though I had read L.E.G.I.O.N. back in the day because I was a fan of the event it had initially spun out of (Invasion!), I was unaware of what took them from being a "legion" to being "rebels". Though that information was not forthcoming, the issue itself was a good introduction to the characters and its overall concepts.

Go here to read the whole thing.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Review @ Popsyndicate - Assault on New Olympus

My second review is up on PopSyndicate for Assault on New Olympus #1:

Picking up from the dangling story threads from Incredible Hercules and The
X-Men Vs. Agents of Atlas mini-series, Assault on New Olympus kicks off the
story line that will be flowing both through the main Hercules story in
Incredible, along with the new, Agents of Atlas back-up story.

Read the full review here.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Book Review: Star Wars: Death Troopers

Let's get this out of the way first off, while I am definitely a Star Wars fan, I haven't read anything from the Expanded Universe since reading the Thrawn Trilogy back in High School/College. I always thought the EU was way too bogged down in "cannon" and when I tried picking up one or two of the novels a few months ago, they were darn near impenetrable. Anyway, seeing as how Halloween was coming up, I was in the market for scary things, movies, books, comics, what have you. So when I heard the elevator pitch of "Star Wars with Zombies", I was sold, or rather, whatever the equivalent term is for getting it at the library.

Star Wars: Death Troopers is exactly what you would expect from a mash up of Star Wars and zombie movies. In fact, it is everything you would expect. Take the following factors: a damaged prison ship/bus/space ship, an abandoned island/town/bigger space ship, and the usual motley group of well-meaning and cruel prisoners/guards, throw in zombies and you have the story right there. Hell, you've seen this movie, both on the big screen and probably six or eight times on TV if you enjoy SyFy Saturday original movies (like me!). But though the story is as familiar as any zombie story is, doesn't mean it's bad. It's a well done piece of work, taking the same old tropes and working in familiar settings and characters (whose identities are supposed to be secret since they are not featured on the book cover and don't appear until half-way through) of the Star Wars Universe.

The setting is, the deep-space, imperial prison barge Purge has come up lame somewhere outside of normal shipping lanes, finding an abandoned Star Destroyer, a party is sent aboard to scavenge for parts that may help them get underway. Unfortunately, the away team brings back more than parts. Suddenly it's up to a corrupt guard, a plucky Imperial doctor, two teenage prisoners and a pair of "rogue smugglers"* to get out alive.

the familiar tropes of the zombie genre are trotted out efficiently and done well. though there are a few twists added into the methodology of the zombies, it's nothing Earth-shattering. You get the horror of what is going on and the carnage is certainly not made more family-friendly since this is a Star Wars book. If made into a movie, this would definitely be "R" rated (though there are no boobs or swears, so you never know). At least suspension of disbelief is made easier since you can assume that George Romero movies have not made it out to the Outer Rim, so you don't have to wonder how stupid the characters are not to know to shoot them in the damn head.

It's a solid book, if you want a Star Wars zombie book, you can't go wrong here, but if you want anything more than simply that, you'll have to hope for a sequel.

*Three guesses as to who they are.

Star Wars: Death Troopers
Written by: Joe Schreiber

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Review @ - Beasts of Burden #2

I've started doing comics reviews for, for my first one, I chose Beasts of Burden #2.

With the on-coming Halloween holiday, it seems appropriate to discuss Beasts of Burden. Spinning out of Dark Horse’s horror anthologies the book seems to be rather simple, neighborhood dogs (and a cat) dealing with supernatural dangers to themselves and their families.

Go here to read the full review.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

JSA Vs. KOBRA - The Signening

Today, my local, and favorite comic book shop, Amazing Fantasy, hosted a signing for the art team for the JSA vs. Kobra mini-series, a book that I have raved about before. Suffice to say, it is still one of my favorite books hitting stands and it was nice to meet the guys and get some sketches from them. Since I had to bring my boys along, I let them pick the subjects of the art. Jack decided that the only two choices for him were "Batman or Ninjas" so I went with a Batman sketch from Don Kramer, penciller for the series who has also had runs on JSA and Detective Comics:

Sean, meanwhile, decided that he really wanted a drawing of Hawkgirl, so I asked Gene Ha, cover artist and also the artist for Top Ten, for a sketch and he rewarded me with the below:

Really, though I've only gotten a few sketches so far, this is probably my favorite one. He used one of Alex Roth's JSA covers for reference and he commented that it had an Alex Toth feel to it and I can see that in his art.

So a great time was had by all and a big thanks to Amazing Fantasy for hosting. Gene Ha, Don Kramer & inker Mike Babinski were all really nice guys ad I wish I could make it to Windy City Comicon next week to see them again.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Review: Dark Entries

DC Comics's adult imprint Vertigo recently launched a new crime line. I was fortunate enough to pick up the first two titles at the library recently and I barrelled through this one rather quickly. Getting star mystery novelist, Ian Rankin (author of the Rebus series) was quite a coup, the fact that he's writing a story featuring one of the stars of the Vertigo line, John Constantine is sure to be the icing on the cake. The only problem is that this isn't really a "crime" book at all, and only nominally a Constantine book.

Anyway, first things first. It's well done, and not having read any of Rankin's work up till now, it's obvious he has a nice ear for dialogue. The set-up is that John Constantine, paranormal/occult investigator is brought into a reality show, "Britain's Most Haunted". Apparently the contestants, who are locked in a "haunted" house are being, in fact, haunted. But it's not by the producers. Constantine decides that in order to diagnose the problem, he needs to enter the house.

It's around here that we hit the big twist of the story, one that it's really difficult to discuss the book without giving away, so if you want to skip the spoilers, scroll on down to where John's giving you the finger and read on.

It turns out that all of the "contestants" are really dead souls, pulled out of Limbo into a reality show being shown in Hell. The whole point of the show was to bring Constantine on board, the most requested contestant ever. It's here the story goes from being a detective story to straight up horror, and kind of loses the point as being marketed as being a crime story. But, it is quite good, so that's just an issue with the marketing.

My other issue with the book is that Constantine doesn't really feel like himself in this book. Sure, he's aloof ad a bit of a dick at times, but really, only at times. John Constantine is an asshole at all possible times, to everyone. This feels like the normal character on Prozac. I don't want to blame Rankin, maybe he (or editorial) felt they wanted to soften him up for wider consumption. But it just felt a little off for me.

The art by Werther Dell'edera is fine, nothing to write home about, but these books aren't meant to be artist's showcases anyway. HE does a fine job to set the mood and manages some touches that feel a bit like Guy Davis (B.P.R.D., Sandman Mystery Theater) in some of the later scenes.

A quick word on the format, it is damn nice. These small, 6" X 9" hardbacks have a very nice feel in the hand, reminiscent of the feel of Hardcase Crimes little paperbacks. Though they are small, they feel substantial. I may have to keep buy all of these just to see them all lined up on my shelf, much like how I like seeing all of my Hardcase books lined up. Yes, I realize that sounds a little anal/OCD, but the hell with it, one of the biggest charges I get out of collecting these things is seeing them all up on my book shelf. My preciouses....

Anyway, overall this is a good solid book, and I'm interested in reading more coming from the line, which is fortunate, because I have Brian Azzarello's book sitting right here, calling to me. Maybe if I get through this one quick enough I'll have something up about it mid-week, but I make no promises.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What's the Word?

The word is laaazzzzzyyyyyyy. Anyway, have been taking some time off from blogging lately for reasons both work (boo!) and personal (yay!). Anyway, in case you're not keeping up with me elsewhere, I can also be found on twitter:

Also, since long-form blogging seems to be beyond my attention span at the moment, I have been updating my tumblr blog quite a bit of late:

You can also clink on the linky thing over on the sidebar if you want to be my fake internet friend over at the Facebook. But I'm not there a lot.

But hey, it's Wednesday, so let's have a quick run-down of what I picked up this week at the shop*:

Batman and Robin #3
: So the first storyline wrapped up in this issue and I liked it quite a bit. I like watching Dick & Damien growing into their roles as Batman and Robin and there's a nice character arc for them, even though this an "All New!!! All Different!!!' Dynamic Duo, I'm glad that this allows them to actually grow the characters. Morrison's writing is in par with the rest of his Batman work of late (very good) and Quietly, though there are some sketchy panels, once again delivers, and hopefully he'll be back after the next arc is over. I like the mixture of campy old-school villainy mixed with the new, more grotesque style on display here.

Detective Comics #856
: While Batman & Robin is the flagship title of the Batman line, Detective is my absolute favorite book out there now. With Rucka firing on all cylinders at this point, it seems like he's finally getting to write the stories he wanted to after he created the new Batwoman in the pages of 52 (before she got drug into the whole Countdown/Final Crisis brou-ha-ha). This is some of my favorite work he's ever done, and he's long been one of my favorite writers working in comics, so that's saying something. As much as I can say about the writing, the art is just amazing. J.H. Williams III is turning in easily the best art that is being done on a big-two monthly comic right now. There's not much more than I can say about it other than to show off the cover below.

Wednesday Comics #8
: While the universal love for this novel series seems to be waning, I for one am still enjoying it almost completely. Sure, the Wonder Woman and Teen Titans strips are dreadful, but once you realize that it's just like any comics section, with thing you like and things you skip, it's much easier to deal with thos. Consistently, the three MVP's of this series for me have been Supergirl (fun, goofy all ages comics), Strange Adventures (Paul Pope Adam Strange...exactly) and Hawkman (dude with a mace, hitting things...on Dinosaur Island). There are other strips that I like, but suspect will be even better in collected form (whateve novel form that is).

Nova #28: Nova continues to be one of my favorite Marvel books, simply by delivering large-scale, cosmic action. Though I have a feeling I'm missing a bit due to only reading this part of the War of Kings cross-over, I still love this series. Also, kind of kicking myself for giving up the monthly on Guardians of the Galaxy. Anyway, not much to say other than this is good stuff here.

*who you can also follow on twitter at

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Sorry for the lack of bloggery lately, but Summer's seemingly just moved into full swing. Anyway, going to see The Decemberists tonight at The Metro, and am suitably stoked. Picked up their newest album, The Hazards of Love and am enjoying it quite a bit. Os a complete album, it holds together much better than The Crane Wife (which I liked quite a bit).

So after I've talked about their last two albums, here's a track from their album before that, Picaresque, just because I love the video so much, with it's Rushmore meets The Daily Show conceit.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Little Travelin' Music

While I promise to bang my thoughts about Pitchfork Music Fest into some kind of post before the week is out, I figured I'd throw some songs at you. Usually when I'm leaving work for the day, I need something to play in the car to wake me up from a day of staring at a computer and trying not to put my fist through it, so here's five quick tunes that help me work the funk out.

Lisztomania - Phoenix

1901, Phoenix's newest album is easily my favorite new music of the summer. Very reminiscent of Cut Copy's brand of indie-dance-pop, the whole album gets you wanting to jump up and down, but nothing is better than this, the lead track.

DC Comics & Chocolate Milkshakes - Art Brut

Though, I'll be honest, Art Brut's newest album is probably my least favorite of their albums so far, it's still damn good. This song, Eddie Argos sings about two of his favorite things in life, which also happen to be some of mine as well.

Safe European Home - The Clash

It's pretty safe to say that The Clash are my favorite band, so it's pretty easy for them to make this list. Nothing like singing this one at the top of your lungs with the windows open.

Pull Shapes - The Pipettes

I know, I know, I've evangelized about these ladies many, many times before, but I'm just going to tell you, this is great music and if you don't like it you're dead to me. Well, not really, but let me be dramatic just this one, k?

Evangeline - Matthew Sweet

Recently loaded Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend up on my work iTunes and damn if that isn't a perfect album. One of the few records I've listened to a million times in the past 18 years, and I still love it as much as the day I got it. And this is probably my favorite song.

So go get in your car, turn it up and have some fun people!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy Bastille Day!

Well, figured that post something...anything here, so here's a song with only a tentative connection to France:

Camera Obscura is a fave of mine and I highly suggest you check out their most recent album, My Maudlin Career if you like what you hear.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Comic Review: KICKBACK

Since David Lloyd, co-creator of V for Vendetta is going to be doing a signing at my local comics shop, I decided I should catch up on his more recent work, so I picked up his 2006 graphic novel, Kickback, and it's a nice little read.

Taking place in the fictional American city of Franklin City, the story begins with the police discovering a massacre in what looks like a drug deal gone wrong. Most interesting is that one of the victims is the city's biggest gangster, and soon the entire city is at war with the police paying the highest price. In Franklin City, every cop is on the take and it is a known fact that no one can prove. Our hero (such as he is) is Detective Joe Canelli, who at least feels bad about being corrupt, but explains it away as just being "the way things are". Along with investigating the case, Canelli has to deal with odd dreams he has of waling through some type of tunnel, dreams that have something to do with a child-hood tragedy.

Overall, this is a very good book, the setting and corrupt cops angle reminds me a lot of Ellis & Templesmith's Fell, another comic about being a cop in a corrupt city. Though this book is not nearly as aggressively weird as that one. It's also evocative of LA Confidential, which is about as high a praise as I can give a crime book.

Lloyd's art is as sharp as ever, he does some great work here, though some of the coloring looks a little muddy. Part of me wonders if that's an effect of the glossy paper that the book is printed on. Though my copy of V for Vendetta was lost in a flood*, I seem to remember it being printed on a much rougher paper that gave the colors a lot more depth. Other than that, my only other issue with the book is that a lot of the street signs and other background writing was added in digitally ad it doesn't seem to mesh well with the art on the page. A minor quibble.

This is a really good book, and Dark Horse has produced a nice hardcover for it, especially at the price of $12.95.

*I will be picking up a new copy at the signing.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Fourth of July!

Despite the weather being far less than ideal here in the Chicago-land area, I hope everyone is celebrating a happy and safe Fourth of July. Here's a shot of patriotism from The Muppet Show to help you get in the mood:

Video via twitter pal, Joseph Finn.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

What I Got - 7.1.09

Scored a boatload o' comics at the shop today, so let's talk about them.

Captain America Reborn #1

So he's back...or rather he's coming back. Maybe. But anyway, Cap's certainly alive and from the explanation we're given, it becomes pretty clear that they've been building this up since the very beginning of Brubaker's run on this series. Spoilers follow.

So Cap's become unstuck in time, and I had a feeling it would be something like this since the Red Skull and co. have made a lot of hints in the past that their plans involved one of Dr. Doom's time platforms. In the issue we are given the parallel stories of Cap in WWII, Carol trying to explain to the Avengers what's going on, Bucky & Black Widow breaking into a HAMMER heli-carrier, and Norman Osbourne meting with Arim Zola and all of them getting bits and pieces of the whole story.

Overall, this was very well done and though it's obviously a first/set-up issue, the pieces are moved into place nicely. My only problem with the issue is the art. Not that it's bad, in fact, this is far better work from Hitch than on Fantastic Four, but the inks by Butch Guice makes this look less like a Hitch book and more like a Butch Guice book. Again, I like Guice's stuff, and his art is very comparable to Epting and Perkins who were the back-bone of the art in Brubaker's Cap run, it just,seems odd. My other issue is that, during the flashback to WWII, Cap is in his Ultimate Universe outfit. I understand that Hitch probably spent a lot of time re-designing the costume for his gig on The Ultimates, but every time I saw it, it just pulled me right out of the book. These are all minor quibbles with the book, mind you. I'm really looking forward to see where this is going and I have a feeling it's going to be really good.

Justice League: Cry for Justice #1

I've been excited for this book since it was announced, however the preview that had been appearing in books last month left me cold. Once again, they were running out the old trope of a pro-active superteam, one that identifies threats and takes them down before they hurt people. We've seen this before (Justice League Elite, The Outsiders, etc.) and it never works. However, after reading the first issue I'm hopeful again. After we get the opening scene of Green Lantern yelling, "Fuck you Dad! I'm gonna fight crime on my own!" at Superman, we get a gathering of heroes who have recently met with a tragedy and who doesn't think that all of them have the same cause?

Anyway, it's well done, and I'm always happy to see James Robinson going back to Opal City, but the fact that so far we've only been introduced to 5 out of the 8 members of the team means we're probably not getting to the plot anytime soon. Anyway, it's good, maybe even very good, but I'm holding off on loving it till it gets somewhere.

OK, that's it for tonight. Maybe I'll get some more up tomorrow, including the best book of the week.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson

If you grew up in the 80's, and love good pop music, you probably have a mixed thoughts about Michael Jackson. On one hand, he was responsible for some of the most amazing and inventive music of our generation. On the other hand, he was widely suspected of committing some of the worst crimes you can think of.

Let's deal with the first one first. I don't know how you explain it to people who weren't around when he exploded onto the national consciousness with his performance of Billie Jean on the Motown 25 special back in 1983. Off The Wall had already been released and was a huge hit, but Thriller, and that performance in particular, turned him into the type of superstar that hadn't been seen since The Beatles, and has not been seen since (and most likely probably never will). Everyone was a Michael Jackson fan, when the Thriller music video was release on VHS (when I was nine), they actually took all of us out of class so we could all watch it at school. How did that happen? I have no idea, I just know I was caught along with it. I wanted a sparkly glove, just like Michael! So did everyone I know, and probably everyone you know that was conscious during that time.

But once that superstardom faded away, we were left with the music. Two perfect albums (and one that was pretty damn great), I still have my battered vinyl copies of all three of those (though only one is the original one that my Brother bought at Musicland at Orland Mall) and I'll be honest, I've really wanted to upgrade and get some nice CD's of all of them. And that's where the second part of Michael Jackson's legacy comes in. He was one weird motherfucker, and there was no denying it, really there wasn't a damn thing you couldn't accuse him of that you couldn't see being true, so when the pedophile allegations came out, no one had trouble believing it, and that's why I just couldn't drop any cash that could find its way into his pockets, much like the difficulties I have with other troubled pop genius/bat-shit crazy mofo Phil Spector.

So what am I trying to say here? Hell if I know, but it sucks that Michael Jackson didn't make more great music, and it sucks that his own ego/fucked up up-bringing/crazy-asssedness got in the way of that. But we still have the great music did make, and maybe his death will allow us to appreciate that a little bit more.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day Comics: Top Ten #4

Well, it's late on Father's Day 2009, and I just got struck with a great comic to talk about on this most "Dad" of days, and rather than let it marinate (and probably get forgotten about) for another year, I figured I'd just throw it out there before it's all over.

Top Ten is one of my favorite series of the last ten to fifteen years, part of Alan Moore's America's Best Comics line, it's the story of the police officers of Precinct 10, cops in a city populated solely by super-heroes. It's just an amazing series, and almost more that Moore's excellent writing, it is brought alive by the art of Gene Ha* and Zander Cannon. The sheer amount of detail thrown into the images is just amazing and it pays to go back over the art again and again for "easter egg" images. If you've been reading comics for any significant length of time, you owe it to yourself to check it out, as it takes the piss out of much from the genre.

Anyway, the Father's Day aspect of the book, during the course of an investigation, the detectives of the 10th pick up Ernesto Gograh who's father just happens to be the neighborhood Godzilla analogue:

Who happens to be not only a giant monster, but a drunk as well. Needless to say, things do not go well, as the drunk as a skunk monster-redneck throws up all over the neighborhood. Anyway, long story short, thanks to their staff size-changer, they manage to bust the big guy down to size:

So what does this have to do with Father's Day? Jack shit, but for some reason it just struck me as appropriate. So obviously, I have no idea what is and is not appropriate. Regardless, get the book, read the book, love the book..and then send me money.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Pre-Review: Underground #1

I've long made no secret of the fact that Jeff Parker is probably one of my favorite writers working in comics today, though most of his work that I've read of his has been his work for Marvel, specifically his excellent work on Marvel Adventures: Avengers and his own creation of Agents of Atlas. I've always intended to pick up his independently published graphic novel, The Interman, but have yet to. Anyway, when I heard that he was going to be working on a series with Steve Lieber, artist on one of my favorite series of the last ten years, Whiteout* I was excited to see what they were going to come up.

Fortunately, they posted the entire first issue on-line, so I took a looksie at it and it's pretty great so far. Very reminiscent of Whiteout, and not just because of Lieber's excellent artwork, though it certainly helps. The series is set in Marion, KY in the Appalachian Mountains, which has little going for it other than a set of spectacular caves which they are itching to turn into a tourist destination, however, it's up to the government whether they are allowed to turn a national landmark into a tourist trap. Though most of the residents of the depressed region are all for it, Park Ranger Wesley Fisher would like nothing better than to not see another human being step foot into the caves to preserve their unique ecosystem. Of course it's this clash of ideas that cause things to go wrong. Though the first issue is largely set up, it flows very well and gives you a great feeling for the characters. As I said above, Lieber's art is great and looks fantastic in black and white in the preview, it'll be interesting to see it in full color.

Anyway, the book so far is pretty great and I heartily recommend hiking on down to your local comics retailer and putting in an order for the first issue, hitting stands in September. Check out the web site they've created for the book to learn more!

*I hope to have a Favorite Things post up on Whiteout soon.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Always Remember....

Lobot was a stone cold motherfucker who
would kill you just as soon as look at you.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Captain America #600

So here it is, Captain America #600, the book that's been talked/bitched about for the last few weeks. Since my shop was kind enough to request the Monday delivery of the book I figured that I'd pick it up, and much like every issue of Ed Brubaker's run on the series so far, it's pretty darn good. Now mind you, it's an anniversary issue, celebrating 600 issues of Captain America in the real world, and a year since Cap was shot & killed in the Marvel Universe. Mostly it's a series of vignettes featuring the main characters in the book showing how they were going to mark the anniversary, along with some remembrances from some of his former supporting characters.

But that's about it, except for one plot point revealed in the very beginning, the big event that we all thought was going to happen, doesn't happen here. It's all a big "To Be Continued In Reborn" which doesn't really bug me, but if anyone actually picked up this book based on the mainstream media coverage, man, are they gonna be pissed since it doesn't happen here, just the ball starts rolling, but it all feels like a giant bait & switch. I love what Ed Brubaker's done with Captain America, making it one of the best superhero comics of the last 10 years, but Marvel's continuing jackassery about how they're marketing it is a giant thorn in my side.

Overall, if you've been enjoying this book, your enjoyment will continue. If you haven't been, well, start at the beginning.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, I got lucky enough to lay eyes on some of Don Kramer's original, inked art for this new mini-series and it was nothing short of stunning. I've been a big fan of Kramer's work for a little while, but this was some of the best work I've ever seen from him.

I'd actually been looking for this series for a while, mostly because of the writer, Eric Trautman, who hasn't written much, but served as Greg Rucka's co-writer on the far too underrated Checkmate!. In that series, they managed to take Kobra, what could have easily been DC's Hydra knock-off and turned it into a credible, currently-relevant threat to the DC Universe. Up until now, most of the "terrorist" organizations existing in the big two comics have been rather lacking in terror, but they've really managed to rachet things up very well.

So anyway, if you find yourself at the shop on Wednesday with an extra $2.99 burning a hole in your pocket, you could do a lot worse than to pick this one up.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Daredevil: Lady Bullseye

I'd been holding off on picking up the latest volume of Daredevil, partly because, though I've been enjoying Ed Brubaker's run on the title, my enthusiasm as waned a bit with each ensuing volume, and partly because most reviews I've seen have been rather lukewarm about it*. Anyway, so after a crappy day at work, I decided to give it a swing anyway and while it was certainly not bad, even very good in parts, I'm still not fully sold on it.

Part of the reason I've been cooling on the series as a while is that, frankly, I'm getting tired of Matt Murdock. I know, he's supposed to be the "hard-luck, self-destructive superhero", but now he's just turning into an asshole. After his wife was driven insane, he's now (guiltily) making time with private investigator, Dakota North. Even as he fights his wife's parents in a custody battle. I realize that if it wasn't for bad luck, DD wouldn't have no luck at all, but this is just getting to be too much. I half expect for Brubaker to have Matt adopt a cute puppy, only for him to cheat on it and then have Mr. Fear boil it for good measure.

The main thrust of the story itself is that with the ninja clan, The Hand in chaos after the events of Secret Invasion, they have designs on Daredevil, and some of his friends (including personal favorite, Iron Fist). Leading up this effort is the titular Lady Bullseye, who as a whole isn't a bad villain (no pun intended), but, as her name suggests, she lacks originality. As Lori** recently discussed, Marvel has seemed to have given up on creating new female characters and just is issuing female version of current male ones (or in the new She-Hulks case, new versions of female versions of make characters). While I really can't fault Brubaker's writing of this character, I just have a hard time buying into Lady Bullseye, because, at the end of the day, she's just a copy. Of a villain that, due to his recent ubiquity in the Marvel Universe, we're all pretty sick of.

But that's not to say that I didn't like it. It did have some really good parts to it. One of my favorite Daredevil tropes is his teaming up with other ninja-types and this book delivers on that, along with the aforementioned Iron Fist, we get the newly re-formed Black Tarantula, and Master Izo, who was apparently Stick's teacher. From there we get some good battles where the good guys lose some ad the bad guys lose some more, ending with an offer to Daredevil that I saw coming a mile away. And to be honest, I'm kind of sad DD made the decision he did (spoilers ahead).

As I had guessed early on, The Hand were sizing all of the heroes up to see if they thought any of them were ready to take over leadership of The Hand. While I have been enjoying the adventures of Daredevil: Hard Luck New York Lawyer!, I'd really like to see them shake up the premise a bit. It's been a decade since Daredevil was brought back to prominence and really, other than the unmasking, they haven't done too much to shake him up. It would be nice to get him out of New York and let him do something new. That said, the premise of "crusading hero takes over international criminal organization and tries to set them straight from the inside" is already being done, and done well in Agents of Atlas, so maybe they'll need a different tack to shake things up here.

Anyway, Brubaker's*** only got one more volume before he moves on from the title, so hopefully he'll toss in a curveball in the next little bit. Regardless, as a while, I've loved his run on the titles, more than anyone else's, short of Miller's run.

*Oh yeah, and also because it's over-priced...$17 for 5 issues Marvel? You really are a bunch of dicks, aren't you?

**Manager of my local comics shop, who has recently started her own blog, check it out!

***And along with him, excellent artist Michael Lark. It's a shame I didn't mention him earlier, but it's kind of hard to critique his art, since it's consistently perfect.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

What I Got - 6.3.09

Fuck it, I'm bored, let's talk comics.

Batman and Robin #1

So begins Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely's rebirth of Batman, etal. I have to admit, I wanted to like this book, no, I wanted to love this book and rarely does that lead to good things, but, as of right now, I gotta say I love it. While it's probably an understatement to say that Morrison often over-complicates his plots, this is a straightforward, very quickly* told story. He gives us an introduction to the new status quo and introduces the new threat to Gotham City in a very elegant way.

I must say, though I liked the idea of [SPOILER] Dick taking over as Batman, I wasn't exactly sold on Damien. He's always been a little shit and just couldn't see how they could make him into a likable character. But here, he seems to have turned a corner, though still arrogant, he's lost some of the asshole-ish edge that he had to him. It is an interesting dynamic (no pun indended) to switch up the personalities involved with the duo. You have Batman, who doesn't really want to be Batman, and a Robin who would only be too glad to take over.

Morrison's work on Batman has shown flashes of brilliance (the Club of Heroes story), but has also been a bit of a mess, but now you get the feeling that this was the story he signed on to tell. I look forward to see where this is going.

A note about the art, I realize that Quitely's art is not to everyone's taste, but he does some pretty great work here. There's one page that I just fell in love with:

I've always loved those cut-away shots that they did to show off the heroes' or villains' lairs and this one is no different. Plus, Wayne Tower even has bat-ears!

Agents of Atlas #6

This book has been another one that I've wanted to love so bad, but up till now, it just hasn't fired on all cylinders. I absolutely loved the original mini-series, but the on-going just has missed that certain verve the original had. Up till now at least, though I'm hesitant to say that it's made the leap back to where it was, it's building up. Part of it could be that this is the first issue of the series that's not dividing the narrative between the past and the present, allowing Jeff Parker to tell a more coherent story. Plus removing the team from the Mora's of the current Dark Reign crossoverclusterfuck makes it that much more enjoyable for the rest of us not following along.

I do like that they're following up on the Namorra/Namor romance brought up in Hercules recently, complete with an exhaustive explanation that their relationship is not incest**. It's also nice to see the return of former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Derek Kahnata, who figured in tot he original series greatly.

Also, special mention has to go to artist Gabriel Hardman, his work is very reminiscent to Michael Lark and Sean Phillips stuff and it's really grown on me. Hopefully they can keep him on this book for a while because I look forward to where it is going.

OK, looks like I only got two reviews in me for the night, but that's what I really loved this week.

*Very quickly, if there's one big criticism of this book is that it reads way too fast.

**"Ken Hale's, "I guess they even got hillbillys under the sea." is definitely the line of the week.


Just a friendly Wednesday evening reminder that if you're not reading The Incredible Hercules (comics' #2* purveyor of the finest violence-based onomatopoeia around), boy, are you missing out. What are you waiting for?

*#1 being, now and always, Walt Simonson's Thor.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Movie Review: UP

Pixar's tenth movie has just been released and I think UP is the most daring of the lot so far. Yes, even more daring than the one about the rat that was a chef. I'll get it out of the way up front, I loved the movie and thought it was excellent, but it (at least as of right now) isn't my favorite of their movies.

UP begins with the story of Carl and Ellie, who meet during childhood, joined by their love of adventure. We see, in a beautiful sequence, them fall in love, get married, and watch their dreams of adventuring together slowly fade away as life intervenes and finally Carl is left alone in their house awaiting the loss of his own freedom (as he is being put into assisted living). As a last ditch effort, to live his & Ellie's dream, Carl floats his house away on thousands of balloons towards South America, joined by Russell, an unwitting passenger, who is a Wilderness Explorer seeking to get his Elderly Assistance merit badge.

This is a beautiful film, but also a very melancholy one. From Carl's loss of his wife, to Russell's absent Father, hell, even the talking dog is sad most of the time. I think the key is that almost all of the characters feel that they've failed and are in some way useless. While it may seem odd subject to broach in what is ostensibly children's movie, it's actually pretty apt. Watching my eldest (age 6) push his way through Kindergarten this year, dealing with failure is probably one of the earliest lessons kids learn and rarely do we actually attempt to teach them anything about it. He's wanted to read so badly but it's very hard, especially when you have the patience of..well, a six year-old.

The one thing that surprised me about the movie is that is very emotional, while the inital Carl/Ellie courtship scene is sure to bring the tears, there are several other occasions that got things a little dusty in the movie theater.

Overall, this is a pretty fantastic movie, though there are valid criticims to be made, especially with regards to the sometimes slow pacing, I was still won over by it.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Programming Note

First let's start off with a joke, though Mike Sterling already made the most obvious one earlier this week:

This costume should really come with a Salacious Crumb* that you can velcro to your chest for added amusement/shame. Or better yet, a harness and S.C. infant costume so you can embarrass your child before they're even old enough to realize that you are making a fool out of them.

Anyway, I'm going to make a concerted effort to get some real content up this week, I've even got a few posts in the hopper already, but the mass of posts that have died during the editing stage cast doubts on even my best of intentions. But dammit, I will do this thing, and it will be good**.

*Oops, I'm sorry, apparently his full name is Salacious B. Crumb. Phoning It In Industries regrets the error.

**Or at least vaguely acceptable

Monday, May 25, 2009

Late to the Party

I've had this blog post sitting in my drafts for a few days, unfortunately, I hate blogging about music, since it's something I have a hard time putting into words, more so for things that I really like. Anyway, it all started when Johnny Bacardi, Matt Springer and I were discussing Jay Bennett's solo work, something I had been pretty unaware of until the last week or so. Then, yesterday I started to see some rumors on twitter, and finally last night I saw my fears were verified on Jim Derogatis's blog. Jay Bennett was dead at age 45.

I was a big fan of Wilco back in the mid-to-late 90's. I saw them a bunch of times (living in their home-town and all) and Summerteeth and the first Mermaid Avenue album rate pretty high on my desert island discs list. However, after the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot fiasco, they fell into the same hole that Radiohead fell into for me. While the ponderous, experimental music both bands have been creating after their popularity peeked may be more artistically rewarding for them, but I much preferred when both bands rocked. Since then, I've kind of listened to each new release with less and less interest.

After our conversations, I picked up Jay Bennett & Edward Burch's The Palace at 4AM (Part 1), used off of amazon (as it looks to be out of print)*, as Bennett's time with the band coincided with the peak of my interest and I was justly rewarded. It's kind of funny that I was completely unaware that Bennett was even releasing solo music, considering that this disc is 7 years old. The album itself is just great. Heavy on Brian-Wilsonesque orchestration and lyrics that I find very similar to Elvis Costello's (it helps that some of the vocals sound like him too). It's pretty much a perfect album to throw on while sitting outside this summer, enjoying a frosty beverage. Here are two of my favorite tracks, first up is one of the more Costello-ish cuts:

Jay Bennett & Edward Burch - Whispers or Screams

Next, is one of the best rockers on the album:

Jay Bennett & Edward Burch - Drinking on Your Dime

Obviously, it's pretty terrible that Bennett passed away, from what I've read, he's had a pretty tough go of it the last few years, but things were starting to look up. I look forward to getting into more of his catalog, but I'll feel bad that I won't get a chance to see him live.

*Looks like most of his stuff is available on eMusic (with a few tracks unavailable) and they're also up on Amazon for pretty cheap (though that may change). Also, his most recently released album, Whatever Happened, I Apologize is currently available for free download.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Movie Review - Terminator: Salvation

I loved The Terminator, in the way that only a 12 year-old boy can when he just saw the most awesome R-rated movie he'd seen up till then. It was everything I wanted in a movie: time-travel, guns, robots, boobs, and explosions. By the time T2 rolled around, I was 17, and though I was excited, it just didn't push the same buttons, mostly because they didn't really exist anymore, or rather, I hadn't gotten mature enough to discover that some of the immaturity of youth was worth holding onto. For all of the ground-breaking effects in that movie, I never saw it as much more than a perfectly adequate sequel. We'll just ignore the third one, mostly because everyone else has.

Anyway, that all was just my way of saying that, while my inner 12 year-old was suitably chuffed for the latest movie, it just didn't hold the same vibe for me. Finding myself with a few hours to kill yesterday I said "what the hell" and checked out Terminator: Salvation. It was pretty darn good.

Ditching the time travel scenarios that have defined the previous three films (and the TV series), we start up after Judgment Day, with the machines thoroughly winning the battle against humanity. John Connor, rather than being the leader, at this point is simply middle-management in the resistance, screaming to anyone that'll listen that he's the one who's going to save them all. Some listen, some don't. After a disastrous mission in which all of his men are killed, Connor and the leadership discover they may have a way to finally win the war, and also discover that they're all on Skynet's hit list, though some kid named Kyle Reese is #1. Also during this mission, Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) finds himself among the ruins. During the prologue we met Wright on death row, signing his body over to Cyberdyne Systems. From there on we have two storylines, Wright's traveling through the post-apocalyptic landscape, meeting with Reese and trying to figure what's going on. And Connor, planning the attack, and also trying to find Reese on his own.

It's no secret that they all eventually meet up, and that Wright proves to be a terminator. But regardless, the plot is just something to keep the action scenes coming, and they do, at a pretty quick clip. It's all pretty cool, lots of big robots, blowing things up, and if that's what you want, you can't go wrong here. Sam Worthington's pretty darn good here, though his Australian accent does slip a few times, overall, he does well facing off against Bale. Christian Bale does the best that he can with what he has to work with, but it's not much. Essentially, he's asked to play Batman, without the Bruce Wayne scenes to bring some pathos to the character*. Connor is all gruff, grumbling anger, which, let's face it is to be expected in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Obviously, a lot of the character development of this movie has been left on the cutting room floor. Connor and his wife, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, have virtually no time together, and the baby she's obviously pregnant with is not even mentioned. Also, Wright strikes up a relationship with a pilot played by Moon Bloodgood, that had to have more to it originally than the few meaningful glances that are included in the movie.

Anyway, this movie is virtually all action, and it's all well done. Is there anything deep or meaningful to the movie? No, but there wasn't anything deep to the previous three, so why should that be held against this one? Star Trek** is still my favorite movie of the summer so far, but this one will do when you've gotten tired of seeing that one. McG proves himself to be a pretty darn good action director, but it still doesn't make up for the fact that he had a d-bag name and unleashed two Charlie's Angels flicks upon the world.

*FYI, this movie is 82% more awesome if you just go into it thinking that rather than a terminator movie, it is, in fact BATMAN VS. ROBOTS.

** Actually, Star Trek is my favorite of the year so far.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Great Geek Disappointment of 1999

Hey everybody! Do you remember when this was the coolest, most exciting thing you had ever seen?

Well, that was 10 years ago yesterday, cause ten years ago today Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace came out and while we all tried to talk ourselves into loving it for a few months, we eventually admitted, despite a few moments of wonder, it was pretty crap. Anyway, if you don't plan to spend this dorkiest of anniversaries in a hazy, drunken stupor, I'd suggest popping over to Alert Nerd and down-loading Mat Springer's E-book, PooDoo: Bullshitting About Star Wars (1999-2009). I'm about half-way through so far and it's a hoot.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Random Comics Reviews: Solo Avengers Starring Hawkeye #17

OK, in order to jump-start this den of nothingness that I call a blog, I'm going to dive into my unorganized mess of back issues and randomly select and issue every week to read, review and quite possible ridicule (or praise).
Tonight's offering is Solo Avengers Starring Hawkeye #17 from 1989. It's hard to believe that back in the day that West Coast Avengers was such a hit that it spawned its own spin-off starring it most popular character. Each issue would feature a lead 11 page story starring Hawkeye, and other half would be given over to a tale starring another past or current Avenger.

The lead story, titled, I shit you not, "Even an Octopus Needs Arms!" written by Tom DeFalco with art by Al Milgrom & Don Heck features everyone's favorite purple-attired hero checking in on an anonymous tip called into Avengers mansion about an arms deal. Upon arrival, he's greeted by the recently reformed Sandman, who is casing the joint for his job with Silver Sable and decided he needed some back-up, thus Hawkeye.

Anyway, needless to say, things go sideways when Doctor Octopus shows up and the boys decide to bust some heads. From there, it's a few pages of the heroes bantering while trying to catch the bad guys and eventually losing them all because they're too busy trying not to get killed (well, at least on Hawkeye's part, that is).
The only truly interesting part of it is this panel:

Where Hawkeye references the hearing aids he got after suffering some damage, as he said, "months ago", despite the series being referenced having been published a full six years before. Damn, time moves slowly in the Marvel Universe.

Next up, we have a quick tale starring the Sub-Mariner by Danny Fingeroth and Dave Cockrum. Apparently Namor's looking for the children of his recently deceased wife, Marina. Whilst swimming about the ocean, he happens along a family who were thrown from their boat and he saves them and brings them back to land. Moved by the poverty that they live in, he gives them the gold that he just happens to be carrying with him*.

Anyway, continuing his search, he comes upon Power Man & Iron Fist's old office building which the Beyonder turned to gold and then was promptly sunk in the ocean by the government so it wouldn't tank the entire world's gold market. How's that for a bit of heavy continuity injection for ya? Namor, grudgingly agreeing with the Henry Peter Gyrich-wannabe** he's got to deal with heads out and agrees not to tell anyone about his lucrative find.

As he swims away, he passes a stealth submarine, manned by Goldbug, a super-villain I had only previously thought had existed in a Spider-Man Hostess pie ad***, stealing the gold building. Anyway, after we get treated to Dave Cockrum's Many Emotions of Namor:

He decides to do the right thing and mess up a C-list villain and get yelled at by the same government jackass, thus souring him once again on the human race.

Overall, it's pretty much the definition of adequate superhero comics in the late 1990's. Well worth my $.75, but not much more. Thanks for reading my rants concerning this weeks random folly of my youth, tune in ext week to see what I found lurking in the comics boxes in my basement.

*To apparently pay off a class action suit he had recently lost. This is a book I want: The Biggest Legal Battles of the Marvel Universe. I want action....LEGAL ACTION.

**This Guy:

***Which apparently I had imagined, I just spent nearly an hour looking for the damned thing on Seanbaby, and couldn't find it. If you happen upon an old school Hostess ad featuring Goldbug, drop me a note, just to show I'm not least about this.