Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 A Year In Singles: Side Two

OK, we've cruised through the pop half of my faves of 2010 mix-tape, now let's move on to my usual rock n' roll stomping grounds. There were a good amount of rock records I loved this year, most coming from old favorites That's good, because I love seeing bands I enjoy keep moving forward, but also unfortunate as there just aren't a lot of new bands out there that doing it for me. Let's go to the list.

1. The Like - He's Not A Boy from Release Me: Just a charming single from this all-girl band. Pumping out a sound that wouldn't sound out of place in some late-50's biker movie, this song is pure nostalgia for garage rock. It's just plain charming. While the album that followed later in the Summer was good, it doesn't come close to the heights that its lead single achieved.

2. Jason and The Scorchers - Mona Lee from Halcyon Times: Jason and The Scorchers is a band that I've sadly slept on for far too many years. I've read nothing but fantastic write-ups about them for years, and even enjoyed Jason Ringenberg's children's album, A Day At The Farm With Farmer Jason with my kids, but I just never took the plunge. Finally, after an enthusiastic e-mail from this guy, I bought their newest reunion record Halcyon Times and it's just fantastic. Full of barnstorming rockabilly, it's absolutely irresistible. This is just one of the many fantastic songs off of a fantastic album.

3. Teenage Fanclub - Baby Lee off Shadows: Another older band that is still putting out vital music. First pushed as the "next bog thing" during the first Brit-pop wave of the 90's, Teenage Fanclub has carved out a pretty great career putting out 60's style garage rock that is utterly infectious. I can't recommend picking up their new album enough (and it's only $5 this month here as added incentive).

4. Best Coast - Crazy For You off Crazy For You: Just pure breezy summer pop music. Can't say too much about it, but this is the type of music that immediately puts in mind sitting on the beach with an umbrella drink in hand.

5. Superchunk - Learn To Surf from Majesty Shredding: Speaking of both beaches and old bands still pushing out vital music, Superchunk came back after close to a decade off and put on two blistering shows in Chicago this year and put out one of my top three or four albums from them. Though they've harnessed a few of their rougher edges, they've done it by mastering a tunefulness that is undeniable. I love this band, I love this album and I love this song.

6. Stars - Wasted Daylight from The Five Ghosts: I really think I'm the only person who absolutely adored this album, but there it is. A bit of a departure from their previous albums, The Five Ghosts kind of felt like Stars was pushing all-in to break big, but I really liked what they did with their sound. Between this song and We Don't Want Your Body (the best Michael Jackson song he never sang), they made some fantastic music to dance to, and I really liked it.

7. Spoiler Alert! - Booster Gold from Spoiler Alert! EP: Art Brut frontman Eddies Argos took 2010 "off" from that band in order to head up no less than three side projects. Everybody Was In The French Resistance...Now!, a band that makes songs that answer famous pop songs; Glam Chops, a band that renders covers of pop songs as glam rock songs and Spoiler Alert!, a band that, in theory, for legal reasons, Argos has nothing to do with, but that sings songs exclusively about DC Comics superheroes. This song, explaining why Booster Gold is the "greatest hero that you've never heard of" is just amazingly charming and warms this old Booster Gold fan's heart. Which reminds me, I really need to pick up this t-shirt.

So that's it for my mix-tape for the year, I really do suggest putting it together as a playlist, it works rather well together (or *cough* contacting the author for assistance if need be). Finally, let's hit up some honorable mentions for the year.

New Pornographers - Together and Ted Leo + Pharmacists - The Brutalist Bricks: While neither of these efforts from favorite bands were as ground shaking as some of their previous releases, they were still damn solid and damn solid out of either of these two is better than 80% of the rest of the music I own.

Adam WarRock - West Coast Avengers Mixtape: Speaking of love for 80's superheroes, 2010 was a banner year for this old man, if only I could send this back in time to me in 2985, I'd be one cool-ass 11 year-old, let me tell you. FYI, if you want to check this out, it's available free thanks to the fine folks at Comics Alliance. Also, WarRock's website features over 50 other free tracks that are really damn good.

Chromeo - Business Casual and Girl Talk - All Day: You wanna dance some more? Here you go. (All day is free as well, just hit the link.)

Let's see if I can keep this thing going and come back to you about comics tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010: A Year In Singles Part One

2010 was a pretty great year for music, personally, I probably purchased more albums this year than at any time since the 90's.  While I generally hate writing about music, let's go through my favorite new songs from the pasty year, the order is unimportatn, other than the fact they make a nice playlist this way.

1. Adam WarRock - The Silver Age (f/ Tribe One) from The War For Infinity:  It's tough for someone to rap about comics oriented stuff and avoid getting labeled something with a derisive "nerd" attached to it.  Eugene Ahn avoids this deftly with the single off his excellent concept album, re-purposing Marvel's The Infinity Gauntlet to a world where the dispute was not settled with fisticuffs but rap battles.  The single, though it is separate from the album's story helps to inform the foundation on which it was built.

2.  Gorillaz - On Melancholy Hill from Plastic Beach:   It's tough to pick one track from Plastic Beach because it is truly a complete album, one that has a form of sonic cohesion that's rare in pop music today.  I tdo realize there is an overarching story line to the album (and indeed all of Gorillaz work), but I can't make heads of tails of it without viewing their (fantastic) videos as an accompaniment.  This is easily my favorite album of the year.

3.  Kanye West - Runaway from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy:  To paraphrase Aziz Ansari's description for someone else, Kanye West is an brilliant rapper/crazy person.  While his latest is not my favorite of his releases, Runaway is a pretty undeniable single.  My only wish is that it had come out in the Summer, since this is windows down on a hot day  music if there ever was any.

4.  Passion Pit - Little Secrets from Manners Speaking of Summer music, this song is it to a "T".  While the album it comes from is certainly good, this is one of those singles that just stands above the crowd.  Not too much else to say.

5.  Daft Punk - Derezzed from Tron: Legacy OST While I would have prferred a "proper" Daft Punk album this year, their rollicking soundtrack to the Tron sequel fits the bill quite nicely.

6.  Robyn - Dancing On My Own from Body Talk this year I really came around on pop music, and robyn's Body talk EP's (now collected into on fantastic album) really were the final nail in the coffin.  The fact that Lady Gaga gets as much press as she does for doing so much recycling and wearing meat dresses while Robyn simply makes great music in the trenches and is ignored by the mainstream is pretty depressing.  Regardless, there is great pop music out there and that's a great thing.

7.  Cee-Lo Green - Fuck You from The Lady Killer:  It's easy to write this song off as being cheap, "hur hur he says 'fuck' a lot" but, damn, this is a fine ass song.  That it's gotten several conservative commenters upset that someone other than Dick Cheney is using the f-word only makes it sweeter.

So that wraps up the first half of what I loved this year, tomorrow I'll come back with part 2 and the more rock-oriented half of the list. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Big Hits, Big Money

 I listen to a fair amount of sports radio, though I'd rather listen to NPR, the current pre-election news cycle is enough to get me from zero to RAGE in under 10 minutes and that's no good first thing in the morning.  Anyway, speaking of rage, the recent crackdown in the NFL on violent hits is turning even the rather calm confines of ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike into yet another edition of Sports Shouting.

If you're unaware, there have been a shocking amount of injuries this year, a lot from violent, and possibly illegal hits, especially ones that are helmet to helmet.  On Monday, after a particularly viscious Sunday, the NFL came down and said that they would start fining players harder and perhaps even suspend players for hits that have been, up until now, considered legal and part of the game.  Naturally, this has caused sports radio apocalypse, and the arguments against the new crack-down are as follows:
  1. The league has been acting rather responsibly on the point of concussions this year and though this year's injuries may simply be an aberration, they should continue to act responcibly and not make knee-jerk reactions.
  2. The players know what they're signing up for and it's part of the reason they get paid such huge salaries.  They know every time they strap on their helmet they may get carried off the field, perhaps never to walk again. 
  3. The NFL has long built itself on "big hits" being part of the game, going so far as to sell video tapes featuring their "greatest hits".  Just look at half of the highlights packages that play before games on Sundays, I guarantee there's at least 2 clips of someone getting absolutely demolished to every sweet touchdown or catch shown.
  4. It's fucking football.  Stop being such a fucking pussy.
Though those arguments are valid, I think they're missing, or perhaps even ignoring the point behind these rule changes.  The NFL is in business to do one thing, make money.  This is not a secret, this is not a bad thing.  Yes, I'm sure Roger Goodell and the rest of management want to protect players as well, but their first job is to make sure the league is profitable both today and well into the future and this brings me to the 2 big points why they are making these changes now and not hesitating.

I'm a fan of NFL football, though not necessarily a die-hard, but I'm certainly more than a casual fan.  I generally watch every game on Sunday and Monday nights, hell, I even lasted through a full half of that shit storm that was Titans/Jaguars last Monday night before giving up and switching to baseball.  I'm in a fantasy league and a confidence pool, however I do not bet on football nor go to games nor even think about laying out the cash for the Sunday Ticket.  So I figure this places me pretty much in the middle-ground of fandom.  The thing is, for me, and those who like the game as much or more than I do, the NFL doesn't have to sell us.  We've bought in to the extent that we will buy in, we're addicts and we'll show up every Sunday no matter how badly they shit on us.  Be it interminable commercials, be it Joe Buck, be it John Gruden, be it everyone pretending Matt Millen didn't ruin football in Detroit for a quarter of a century.  The NFL is no longer trying to sell to us, they're going after the casual fans.  The ones that maybe watch one game a week and maybe even go to or hold a Superbowl party.  The NFL wants these people, they want their money, badly, and when these consumers are confronted with mounting news stories of dreadful injuries to NFL players,  and of the possible horrible future that awaits these players due to repeated head injuries, they are far less likely to buy into the NFL.  These injuries, and the news stories and medical studies they spawn, are costing the NFL money today, and more importantly new money in the future.  The NFL has to be seen as being proactive, going out of their way to protect these players from these injuries and even from themselves.  That way these new consumers will feel better about handing over their cash to the league and not spending it on a new Cubs jersey instead.

Secondly, as a parent of two boys (4 and 7 years old), I'm deathly afraid of letting them play football.  My eldest has already had one concussion from an accident a few years ago, making him even more susceptible to them in the future.  While I would not go so far as to ban them from playing, I would take them to get base-line testing done prior to playing and pull them out with no hesitation at the first whiff that they could get hurt.  From talking to other parents, I'm certainly not the only one who feels this way and that's got to be a huge concern for the future for the NFL.  This cuts into both their future player-pool and into their future fans.  Unless they can reassure parents that their kids will be safe in the sport, the future could be rather grim.

Another aspect of this whole situation that I do think is being willfully ignored by the media, especially the NFL partners like ESPN, is the upcoming labor dispute.  As the NFL tries to push an agenda that both features paying the players a smaller percentage of their revenue along with the 18 game season, a season that features more injuries along with the release of more and more studies showing the long term effects on players it makes their position tougher both at the bargaining table and in the public eye.  With the looming idea of a lock-out next season, every single move the NFL makes has to be viewed through the lens of the effect it will have on the next labor agreement, but it is hardly even mentioned in the media and I don't think that's because they think it is of no consequence.  It's obvious that the more the labor issues stay out of the news cycle, the better it is, probably for both parties, but it's still odd to not see it mentioned, even in passing along with this debate.

As more and more of the true health consequences come to light of playing professional football, I have no doubt that drastic actions will be taken in the coming years.  From requiring state-of-the-art mouth-guards (which really could help immediately), to requiring players to wear tight-fitting helmets (most of the helmets you see go flying on game-day is because players wear them too loose) to draconian measures like legislating certain types of contact out of the game, I really have not doubt that the NFL we see ten years from now will look a lot different from today's.  This should be a good thing.  Protecting the players, be it for money or out of true altruistic care is a good thing and should be paramount in everyone's mind, but everyone needs to calm down and talk about this like rational human beings, not like the assholes they're being on radio right now.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Floppytown Reviews

Should have a bunch of reviews up at FLOPPYTOWN this week, including Avengers Prime #3 (already up),Captain America #610, Skull Kickers #0 & Action Comics #893.  Swing by and check them out.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Floppytown: Steve Rogers Super Soldier #3

Inspired by The Singles Jukebox, Matt Springer has wrangled a bunch of people into contributing brief reviews on single issues of comics each week at a new site called Floppytown.  The first post is up today, which is a review of Steve Rogers: Super Soldier #3 and I have a contribution. 

This looks to be a fun project, so swing on by and please contribute as the more will be the merrier. 

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

It Came From....The Vending Machine...AGAIN

After last week's exposure to the horrors of Mad Basil's Bavarian Bakery's "treats", I decided to play it safe and stick with something out Milton S. Hershey's proud company, the Hershey's Cookies 'n' Creme bar.

The bar itself seems to be a white chocolate delivery mechanism for bits of chip-shaped chocolate cookie that are not wholly unlike Oreo wafers. The "cookies" portion provide 90% of the taste, which is quite good, being encased in the viscous, not-quite-solid white chocolate keeps the cookie bits from being too dry. However, it is the white chocolate membrane that provides the biggest minus of the bar, the texture. The cookies are crunchy, but the chocolate is largely tasteless and gel-like, making if feel like you're eating delicious cookies encased in snot. If you can get over that reaction, it is not an unpleasant snack, but really, you should seek psychological help if that is the case.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


After skipping three weeks, went to the store on Friday and picked up a whole gang of comics that had been languishing in my box, let's talk about them.

Dracula: The Company of Monsters #1

I really love Kurt Busiek's writing and since Marvel's since decided that their cool, old-school Dracula wasn't cool enough and turned him into the refugee from Middle Earth by way of Twilight, I felt like checking out Boom!'s attempt to update him for the current age.

While this issue certainly isn't bad, it's esentially a 22 page info-dump setting up the series. It feels more like a "story-before-the-story" zero issue than the proper start to the book. Our main character is Evan, a middle-managment schlub who is stuck doing research on Vlad The Impaler for his boss and uncle Conrad. The issue goes onto give the history of Vlad as he makes a deal with the devil for immortality and Evan and Conrad fly to a secret dig site in Greece. That's really it, not bad, the art is certainly nice. Scott Godlewski's work elicits a John Romita Jr. vibe that serves the story well. Again, there's nothing bad here, just nithing that compels me to stick with it.

Thor: The Mighty Avenger #3

Can't really explain how much I love this comic. Updating Thor's origin to the present (and most likely bringing it more in line with the up-coming movie) this book has really been doing everything right. After the first two issues briskly introduced out main characters, the third issue begins our main storyline as Thor tries to remember why he's been exiled on Earth. This issue brings Hank Pym & the Wasp to Oklahoma to investigate the death of one of Hank's mentors (who was killed in the previous issue by My. Hyde). This brings them into conflict with Thor, who's having visions brought on by Loki, making him believe he's besieged by Frost Giants, forcing him to slug it out with Giant Man.

Roger Landridge, who does great work on Boom!'s Muppet comics, really comes through here. His characterizations of both Pym and the Wasp are spot on, and makes the usual "two heroes slog it out due to a misunderstanding" plot and does something interesting with it. Both advancing the main storyline and offering up a solid. single-issue story. Chris Samnee again provides excellent visuals and Matt Wilson's coloring is just luscious. Oh yeah, and did I mention that this is an all-ages title? This proves that all-ages, doesn't mean, "for kids only".

Action Comics #892

I've been seeing a lot of people on the internet dismissing this book simply because it's Action Comics and Superman isn't in it, and those people are really missing out. Paul Cornell has been a favorite of mine since his run on Captain Britain & MI-13 over at Marvel, here he's telling the story of Lex Luthor, addicted to the power granted him by the Orange Lantern ring during Blackest Night, he's scouring the Earth for traces of other power rings, determined to have their power for his own.

This issue, Luthor travels to the arctic to search out a plume of black-power-ring energy that has developed, bringing Deathstroke with him as protection. Unfortunately, the energy begins taking over his team, leaving him to out-fight it and out-think it.

This book is turning out to be rather fun. Luthor is an interesting main character, in that he's really the villain of the title, but Cornell does bring through his charisma that you can't help but root for the jerk, at least a little bit. As usual, Pete Woods provides some great art, and while I think he's probably the best Superman artist working today, I don't have a problem with the big blue boyscout sitting this one out for now.

Maybe some more later.  Going to try to dole this out in some smaller chunks.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This Is The Future (and I'm Not Sure I'm Willing To Pay For It)

After reading Matt Springer’s take on the upcoming releases of Apple’s iTV and Google’s GoogleTV do-dads, I went back to my nagging thoughts of giving up my cable and going it alone with nothing but a computer, an internet connection and a prayer for my TV viewing habits.  Matt lays out pretty eloquently the pluses and minuses of each system, but there’s still one thing that keeps me dropping $60 to $100 a month* on my cable bill is live sports.  As both a pitiful Cubs fan and rather angry Bears fan (with a rabid Packers fan girlfriend), without precious cable we would probably be left in the cold with Apple’s set-top box and up to the whims (and fees) of the NFL & MLB with Google. I know that Major League Baseball currently offers an on-line video plan for a reasonable fee that gives you the ability to watch just about any game going on....except games that are blacked out in your area.  That’s no fucking help.  

My other concern is that if you find a way to get these games, legally, live on-line you will most likely still have to pay a nominal fee for them.  But you’ll still have to deal with the ads.  Part of the plus of iTV is that with your 99 cents, you buy your way out of having to watch commercials.  With live sports, you’re stuck with those commercials, or almost even worst, stuck watching a blank screen on your TV/computer while those ads role and the teams pick their noses on the sidelines.  And there’s the rub, even if you’re paying to not have ads, you’re still stuck with them, and that just bugs me.  If those advertisers are paying the NFL (and the TV station or on-line provider), why the hell am I going to compensate them a second time?  

I’m sure these concerns have been thought of at Google & Apple HQ, but I’m sure they’re waiting to see how the cards fall and whether the general public flees the increasingly higher and higher cable & satellite bills for the new frontier of the internet and whether they balk at the idea of paying both for access to the content and ads during the content they already paid for.  Hulu is already giving this a try with their new, $10 a month plan, but screw that.  If I’m paying them $120 a year, I ain’t putting up with commercials just so I can watch Ironside (Raymond Burr is the shit, y’all).  I could go on for a while, but I’ll save it for my usual soapboxing at the corner of LaGrange Rd. & Ogden Ave. between 4:30 & 5:00 PM, doing my best to drown out the suburban street preacher on the opposite corner.

*Depending upon whether the fine CSR at Comcast has pity on me and throws a deal at me

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It Came From....The Vending Machine

Basil’s Bavarian Bakery Duplex Sandwich Cremes

Oh, what a horrible cookie. I like to think that Basil, having learned the secrets to the baking arts in late 30’s Bavaria and hearing the drums of war, he escaped from Germany, hiding out in a specially baked pastry that sadly destroyed his sense of smell and taste. Returning to England during the blitz, he found that his talents as a baker of tasty treats was of little use as shit was getting blown up all the time. Choosing to leave his homeland once again he struck out across the ocean for America, dodging Jerry’s U-Boats all the while. Once firmly ensconced in the US of A, he set to baking the best possible cookies for the men and women fighting for freedom across the Atlantic. Sadly, due to his tragic lack of both taste and smell, his cookies came out horribly, being rejected even for use on POW’s. The only bright spot was that they were found to have a half-life of close to 2,000 years, so they were packaged and placed into office vending machines that were becoming all the rage. And there they sat until and unsuspecting schlub (me) bought them for the hefty price of $1.00 this afternoon.

At first the cookie seems like your average Oreo knock-off, ala the Hydrox cookies your Grandma always tried to pass off on you. I will say that the center is rather creamy, comparing favorably to the sometimes chalky center of an Oreo. However, the cookies that surround it, at first, taste not bad but quickly devolve into something thoroughly unappetizing. Along with that, there’s just so darn many of them. The package contains 15 cookies, which really isn’t bad for a dollar (the recommended serving size is 3 cookies*), but oh God whatever you don’t try to eat them all. These things hit your stomach and immediately begin to expand like an alien egg gestating in your GI tract waiting until that 3:30 conference call you have coming up to burst forth from you and slither into ventilation ducts to go back to its vending machine nest.

 The Horrific Aftermath

According to fellow vending machinologist Matt Springer, Basil has since gotten the backing of the Biscomerica Corporation, funding his sad attempts to make the world atone for his tragic loss of senses. Damn you Basil, only a strike force made up of Little Debbie, Tony the Tiger, Twinkie the Kid and Kool-Aid Man could hope to storm your hollowed-out volcano fortress in Rialto, CA and make you pay for the horrors you’ve unleashed upon an unsuspecting populace. You mad bastard.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Review: Batman Odyssey #1

Neal Adams has returned to Batman with Batman: Odyssey, the first of two mini-series touching on the high-points of his career. While the art is certainly very nice, the story itself is lacking.

Batman starts the story, relating to Robin (Dick Grayson, though he’s drawn wearing Tim Drake’s costume) one of the earliest adventures of his career, back when he packed guns as part of his repertoire. The hook of the story is to explain to Robin why they don’t carry guns, though the phrase “Batman doesn’t kill” would seem to be good enough explanation for me. From there, Man-Bat wanders into the Batcave with some important information. Bats yells at him for using the Man-Bat serum instead of simply coming as his human self, stopping him from relaying some information that he thinks Batman needs to know. From there, Batman shows off his new Batmobile to Robin while driving/flying/boating to stop the Riddler who is, apparently, committing two simultaneous crimes.

This book is a mess, the Batman featured here seems to hew closest to Frank Miller’s “G--damn Batman” from his All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder’, berating Robin, while lamenting in his internal monologue that he should be more supportive of the boy. While I realize that historically that Batman did sport guns back in the day, I had long thought that had been retconned out, so it was just jarring to see them show up here as a plot point, the same for Dick wearing Tim’s costume. I realize that this was the first issue of a 12 issue story-arc, so it’s natural for it to throw out a lot of plot threads that will be followed up on over the coming issues, but there was a haphazardness to this that felt like it was throwing a ton of stuff at the wall, just to see what will stick. It felt like Adams drew a bunch of pages and then waited a year before worrying about grafting a plot onto it.

As for the art itself, it’s certainly very nice. Though not as smooth as his 70’s work, Adams can still draw the heck out of a Batman comic. The scenes with Batman driving his “new” Batmobile (actually a retooled model of Adams classic coup model from the 70’s) are just gorgeous, if only the dialogue written over them was not so clunky.

I had high hopes for this book, and I still do, but I can’t say that I’m not more than a little disappointed at the opening issue to this series. Hopefully, though Adams stumbled out of the gate, he’ll get back up and charge to the finish.

Batman: Odyssey Part 1
Neal Adams - Story & Art
Michael Golden - Inking (pp. 19 & 20)
Continuity Studios - Color
Rob Leigh - Letters
Mike Marts - Editor

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Review @ PopSyndicate: Zatanna #2

This week at Popsyndicate I review Zatanna #2:

After a slow week at the comics shop, I cast around on twitter to see if anyone had a good recommendation for a comic to review this week. The overwhelming favorite was Zatanna #2, and they were right. In current comics, it's very odd for the second issue of a new series to be a perfect jumping on point, but this one is jsut about perfect.

Zatanna, returning home after a rough night with the Justice League, just wants to fall asleep, but a nightmare-imp named Fuseli has other ideas. Since Z's home is impervious to both physical and mystical breaking & entering, Fuseli enters her mind via the nightmares of others, eventually entering into Zatanna's turning them against her. This leads to some frankly, beautiful full-page spreads by Stephanie Roux depicting their battle through the dream-scape.

Head on over here to read the full review.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Review @ PopSyndicate: Hawkeye & Mockingbird #1

In Marvel's most glaring ploy to get my business, they've brought back the main characters of the first superhero comic I started reading in earnest, West Coast Avengers: Hawkeye & Mockingbird.

As Marvel continues their roll-out of The Heroic Age, Hawkeye & Mockingbird picks up where they left off from the New Avengers: Reunion mini-series with the heroes reunited in body, if not in spirit.
Following up on the events of their miniseries, Hawkeye (no longer using the Ronin identity) & Mockingbird are running the underground law-enforcement organization WCA (get the acronym?) and open the issue hunting down a shipment of stolen weapons.  After a car chase, they stop the shipment, and run into two blasts from their past.  First Crossfire, the villain behind the plot that got these two together in the first place, shows up, somehow involved with the weapons.  Also, conveniently, teh granddaughter of the Phantom Rider (who Mockingbird threw off a cliff in the Old West) shows up and is not too happy to see her back in the land of this living. 
Read the rest here.  Also, if you're interested, check out where it started in Avengers: Hawkeye, West Coast Avengers: Assembled & New Avengers: Reunion.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Review @ PopSyndicate: Secret Avengers #1

Almost forgot to mention that I have a review up at PopSyndicate for Secret Avengers #1:
As The Heroic Age dawns on the Marvel Universe, Ed Brubaker tries his hand at writing his own Avengers team, bent on cleaning up the messes of the previous administration.

As in our own universe, the problem with suddenly deciding that things are going to be better now is that there are still problems left behind.  Under the care of Norman Osborn, powerful artifacts were sold off to the highest bidder, or just neglected so that any random do-no-gooder could grab them where they were left lying around.  Steve Rogers (the former Captain America), now in charge of the nation’s national security, has assembled a group of agents with the intention of using them to gather these objects.  Unfortunately, these things never are as easy as they seem.  When stealing back the Serpent Crown from Roxxon Oil, they discover that this was not the crown they were looking for, and that it may be related to Roxxon’s efforts to find oil on Mars, efforts that were suddenly abandoned and scrubbed from their records.
Head on over to read the full review.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Summer Reading: Grimjack Omnibus

Summer Reading is a series that I plan to update on Monday's during the Summer that highlights some books that are good for throwing into your bag while on the way to the beach, vacation, or even to work.
I've been enjoying the recent trend of releasing Omnibuses (omnibi?) of older, very influential work by some of the smaller publishers.  I've long wanted to give Grimjack a try, I've enjoyed both of the creators work for a while and this has always been th work that many have cited as their seminal work.

Grimjack is a pretty simple set-up.  A mercenary named John Gaunt (nicknamed Grimjack) lives in the city of Cynosure, a city that is the nexus of many realities, all in a constant state of phasing in and out of phase with each other.  Gaunt has had a long and checkered past, having been a criminal, a cop and now a man for hire.  Both the setting and Gaunt's history allow for incredible flexibility in story telling.   In this book alone, we get westerns, science fiction, noir detective mysteries and political intrigue.  All of the stories are grounded by the presence of Grimjack, who could very easily be written off as a typical Eastwoodian "Man With A Dark Past Who Does Good", but the character is very well written by John Ostrander (Suicide Squad, Hawkworld) so that the character shines through.  Also, the art by Timothy Truman (Scout, Hawkworld) is incredibly detailed and clear.  The art makes it worth while to re-read the book just to see the easter eggs sprinkled through out.  For stories that are over 25 years old, it feels very fresh and new.

As for the format, IDW Comics prints the first 8 Grimjack stories that were originally backups in the First Comics series Starslayer and the first 13 issues of Grimjack's solo title (along with a brief framing sequence that I believe was created for the last re-print of these stories) here in a 6x9 softcover.  It's a great package and I wish Marvel & DC would modify their Showcase/Essential series to this format.  I'd gladly pay the extra money for color pages and the smaller trim size which makes for a much more portable read. Both IDW and Dark Horse are publishing a lot of books in this format and I look forward to grabbing more of them.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Reviews @ PopSyndicate: Siege #4

Also this week @ PopSyndicate, I review the rather lackluster conclusion to Siege: 

Marvel's event comic to end all of their event comics (or so they say) comes to a close, not with a bang, but with a whimper. This is especially disappointing following on how strong the three previous issues were. Where did it all go wrong?
Check it out!

Reviews @ PopSyndicate: Sweet Tooth Vol. 1

This week I'm reviewing Sweet Tooth Vol. 1 over at PopSyndicate:

Jeff Lemire's new Vertigo series releases it's first collection this week. A post-apocalyptic adventure featuring a strange, and very sweet protagonist who shows us that even at the end of the world, there's still time for candy.

Gus lives by five rules his Father has imposed upon him:
5. Never have a fire in daytime, cause people can see the smoke.
4. If I ever see anyone other than my Dad, I run and keep running.
3. Always say my prayers so as God don't decide to come make me sick too.
2. Never forget to pray for Momma, cause she was the prettiest lady God ever made.
1. Never, EVER leave the woods.
Head on over here to check out the full review.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Thoughts on IRON MAN 2

Overall, I enjoyed the heck out of the movie. It was fun, though it had some fat that could have easily been trimmed. There was also one moment at the end that bugged the shit out of me. But, if you enjoyed the first one, this delivers more of the same. Maybe a little bit too much more. But you'll have a good time. Anyway, here are some SPOILERIFIC bullet points:
  • Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer was great as the anti-Tony Stark, Justin Hammer, but was almost a little too cartoonish.  And the fact that he didn't get punched in the face at least once was a little disappointing.  Regardless, Rockwell is fast becoming an actor who improves anything he's cast in. 
  • Scarlett Johansen was really good, but I went in thinking she was going to be really bad, so I guess low expectation paid off there.
  • The final battle just went on...and on.  After a while it was just metal crashing into other metal with some explosions.  They could have cut it down by half and made it better.
  • Two dudes in Iron Man suits drunkenly duking it out to "Robot Rock" by Daft Punk?  YES.
  • The biggest thing that bugged me was that they built up Pepper Potts over the course of the movie as being a strong, capable leader (especially towards the end when she took over the situation) to then have her freak out with the, "I'm a girl! I can't do this, save me Tony!" reaction at the end.  It was just a completely puzzling choice, unless they thought they had somehow emasculated Tony by making him no longer CEO. 
  • During the opening at Stark Expo, when Tony checked his blood toxicity for the first time, my girlfriend leaned over to me and asked, "Is his suit killing him?" I was confused for a second, looked up at the screen and saw the awful, shiny tux he was wearing in that scene and almost replied, "Well, it's certainly killing me."
  • The shout-outs to future Marvel movies were distracting and far from subtle.  I half expected Agent Coulson's last line to be, "I'm needed in New Mexico." *turns to camera* "Where you can seem me next Summer in The Mighty Thor!" 
  • And yeah, the easter egg after the credits was OK, but not nearly as cool as the last one.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Review @ Popsyndicate: Free Comic Book Day Round Up

Today over at Popsyndicate, I offer up a round up of my favorite books from last Saturday's Free Comic Book Day:

Another Free Comic Book Day has come and pass, and by the anecdotal evidence of the giant crowd I experienced at my local comics shop, and the glowing notices I have seen around my circle on twitter, it looks to have been a success. After reading through the pile, the rather large pile I might add, of books I picked up, it also looks to have been one of the best in terms of the actual comics that were produced for the day. Almost all of the larger publishers actually produced new content for their books and most of those were full issues of series. Here's a run-down of some of the highlights of the books I picked up.
Overall, it was a pretty great haul, with some minor disappointments.  Head on over here to read the full run down.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review @ PopSyndicate: The Brave & The Bold #33

Today at PopSyndicate, my review is up for The Brave & The Bold #33, and I am less than enthused.

J. Michael Straczynski continues his mining of continuity for new stories and comes up with mixed results.
There are fewer books that I've gone into this year that I wanted to like more than this one.  It featured three characters who I enjoy quite a bit (Wonder Woman, Zatanna, & Batgirl) but who rarely seem to socialize, and that was part of the hook for me, them socializing.  As much as I love punching in comic books, I also enjoy seeing heroes living and interacting in situations where they're just having fun and not trying to save the universe.  
Head on over here to read the full review.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Buy My Stuff...Please

So it's come to this, I've got way too much stuff.  So why don't you help me out, dear internet person and take some of this stuff off of my hands!  Below is a list of books I'm ready to say goodbye to, all are in good shape, some minor shelf-wear but other than that almost like new. Pricing is: Over-Sized HC's are $10, HC's are $7, and soft covers are $5.  Prices are negotiable, especially if you're buying several. If you're in the Chicago area, I'm sure we can work something out to meet up, if not, I'll be happy to ship anywhere in the US, however shipping will be extra.  You can pay via Paypal or just shoot me a check.  If you're interested, send me an e-mail at jurbanciz [at] gmail [dot] com and we'll work it out.

[Edit: obviously stuff that has a strikethrough has been claimed.]


Justice League: The Lightning Saga
JSA:  The Next Age
Wolverine: Enemy of the State Vol. 1 (Premier)
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 2 (over-sized)
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 3 (over-sized, missing dust jacket)
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 4 (over-sized)
Batman: Hush Vol.1
Batman: Hush Vol. 2
Superman/Batman:  Supergirl
The Walking Dead:  Book One (over-sized)
The Best American Comics 2006
Justice Vol. 1
Identity Crisis
Secret War (over-sized)
Uncanny X-Men: Manifest Destiny (over-sized)
Ultimate X-Men Vol. 1 (over-sized)
Ultimate X-Men Vol. 2 (over-sized)
Captain America: The New Deal (over-sized)
Marvel Zombies (over-sized)
Catwoman: When in Rome


Outsiders Vol. 3-5
Hawkman Vol. 3
Teen Titans (recent series) Vol. 4, 6 & 7
Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 9 - 16
Avengers: The Search for She-Hulk
Avengers: Red Zone
Avengers: World Trust
Supreme Power Vol. 1 - 3
Supreme Power: Nighthawk
Supreme Power: Hyperion 
Superman: Birthright
Girls Vol. 1 & 2
Noble Causes Vol. 1
Batman: City of Crime
Green Arrow: Moving Targets
Captain Britain:  Vampire State
Rising Stars Vol. 1
Justice League International: The Secret Gospel of Maxwell Lord
Sachs & Violens
Grendel: Devil's Legacy
Rex Mundi Vol. 1
Just Imagine Stan Lee Creating the DCU Vol. 1
Gotham Central Vol. 1-5
Fallen Angel Vol. 1-2
Amazing Joy Buzzards Vol. 1 & 2
Starman: To Reach the Stars
Starman: Sons of the Father
Starman: Stars My Destination
Starman: A Starry Knight
Starman: A Wicked Inclination
Starman: Grand Guiginol
X-Men: Phoenix: Endsong
Ultimate X-Men Vol 5 - 15
Top Cow's Best of Warren Ellis (includes Down & 2 Witchblade stories)
Ultimate Fantastic Four Vol. 4-6
Wolverine: Enemy of the State Vol. 2
Teen Titans/Outsiders: The Insiders
X-Men: Supernovas

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

True Geek Confession: Lois & Clark

Following up on last year's cross-blog event, "My Scott & Jean", the Alert Nerds have thrown down the gauntlet once again. This year's event is "True Geek Confessions" and I'll let them explain it:
Unpopular opinions: we can haz them. Sometimes you stand alone in loving a super niche-y run of a popular comic book series. Sometimes you’re the only person on the entire planet to ’ship a certain ’ship. Sometimes you simply Do Not Get a movie the rest of your geeky brethren is falling all over themselves about. And because a lot of fandom is about sharing loves and hates and communing with your fellow geeks, this can feel awfully lonely.
For a while there, I didn't think I really had one, but reading through Dan Faust's excellent post on the Family West, I realized that I had a similar love that largely goes unshared by the geek community: the marriage of Clark Kent & Lois Lane. Even as child, the dysfunctional love triangle that existed between Lois, Clark & Superman bugged me. Superman always seemed like kind of a dick, and Lois was necessarily portrayed wither as clueless, or as a shrill harpy, bent on getting Superman to marry her*. As befits the premiere investigative journalist of a major metropolitan newspaper, it seemed silly that Lois wouldn't be able to defeat Clark's cunning disguise of horn-rimmed glasses and brylcream eventually.

So in 1996 it happened, though Lois didn't figure it out for herself, the reveal was well done, with her slapping Clark for leading her on as two separate men for years, but their love won through and they were married. though the writing of their marriage hasn't always been perfect, there have been some wonderful moments that make me so happy that DC allowed them to "take the plunge". A personal favorite is the moment in Superman: Up, Up and Away by Kurt Busiek & Geoff Johns. After Superman lost his powers post-Infinite Crisis, he and Lois got to spend a blissful year as a "normal" couple, but eventually his powers started to reemerge. Though Clark thinks that his wife will be angry or upset that she will be "losing" her husband once again to the craziness of the superhero lifestyle, she only has three words for him: "Go get 'em".

Lois and Clark as a married couple compliment each other really well, she's not the hand-wringing wife, waiting for her man to come home from the fight, she's out there on the street getting the story, and though she needs saving every once in a while, she does a fair bit of saving her man's ass as well. It's nice to get to see my childhood heroes get to behave, and grow, like adults.

*Not to say that Silver Age Lois stories weren't freaking hilarious.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2010 Media Journal 2


Raiders of the Lost Ark: Rewatched this again this week, and holy shit, I forgot how great this movie is. It's one flaw is that after the amazing truck chase after the ark, the whole movie just kind of groans to a close. I mean, the whole "dudes faces melting off from viewin the glory of God" thing is pretty boss, but after Indy chucks a guy through the windshield of the truck, you can't really top that. I think I'm going to have to watch the other three over the next few days/weeks (yes, I even own Crystal Skull, don't judge me) to see how they feel. Raiders just has a different look to it than the others as far as I can remember. It looks and feels more organic. While Spielberg was going after those old school movie serials, it also has a strong noir vibe to it. Especially with his use of shadows. More on this as I watch the rest.

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Wild Wild World of Batwoman: Since me and my girlfriend are big fans of MST3K, we watch a lot of it, and this may very well be the worst movie we've seen yet. Worse than Manos: The Hand of Fate. Yes. really. Mike & the 'Bots do their best, but it wasn't quite enough. You'll want to avoid this one at all costs. I'd give you a plot description...but I think I'd pull something in my brain if I even tried to igure it out.


X-Factor: Nation X - A fun little one-shot. Apparently the X-Men have set up their on little island somewhere so they can just stay away from everyone who hates & fears them? X-Factor gets invited to come live with them and they stop by mostly to just tell them that it's a stupid idea and have a (good-natured) fight. Not much to speck of, but a good way to pass the time. Can anyone explain to me why Dazzler is now blonde?

Stumptown #2 - Another very good issue of this book. While the first issue seemed more self-contained, this one gets deeper into the story, so it doesn't hit as hard, but still very well done.


So my girlfriend is a Packers fan, and needless to say, Sunday was gutting. The game was probably the best game I saw all year, but did not have the desired outcome

So that's it for this week.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Review @ PopSyndicate - Siege #1

Over at I offer my thoughts on Siege #1:

I have not been a fan of Marvel Comics’s recent run of “event” comics.
Starting with Avengers: Disassembled five years ago, Marvel, with Brian Michael
Bendis at the helm has put out a series of ever-escalating events that seemed to
be leading…somewhere, but just never quite got there. It was incredibly
frustrating because they always seemed to be stories that had a beginning, a
middle, and then a “to be continued” that was in no way a satisfying
ending. While I understand that in on-going comic books, there really is
no such thing as “The End” since Spider-Man is still going to come out next
month whatever happens, but each one of these events simply ran into the next,
constantly losing momentum until it seemed the endgame was to simply get people
not to care anymore. So with Siege, we’re faced with what Marvel claims to
be the end. This is where it was all leading and, frankly, it’s pretty
darn good.

Head on over to read it in full.

Also, I am still going to be doing my weekly media journals, but I'm switching the scheduling so they'll publish wednesday mornings. Just works better for me, and this is all about me, after all.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

2010 Media Journal 1

Hey all, this year I'm going to attempt to post once a week with my thoughts about new comics/books/movies/TV shows I've read and seen each week. I probably won't post too many full-on reviews, but mostly just random thoughts associated with what I've been up to. Mostly this is to help me remember what I've been up to and also help organize my thoughts.


It was a slow week this week, with only one new release, but I took the opportunity to pick up a few books I had been eyeing.

20th Century Boys Vol. 2 - The near-universal acclaim that has been following this book on the internet made me very excited to pick it up, but the first volume left me kind of cold. It was certainly good, but it was a rather slow burn of a story and I didn't feel compelled to keep on going. Vol 2 still didn't make me a full-fledged addict, but it definitely has e eager to grab volume three. The only thing that bugged me about this volume is that it used a story-telling trick that has always bugged me. A character has information that is pertinent to the plot, he even tells other people this information, but the author covers up what he's saying so that the reveal is hidden from the reader. I understand that it's important to show the reader that the information has been discovered, but it just feels like such a tease.

Sugar Shock
One-Shot: The shop was giving this one-shot by Joss Whedon & Fabio Moon out for free during their New Year's Eve Eve sale and it's a fun little book (collecting stories that were originally put up on MySpace). The story is about a punk-rock band called to perform (maybe) at a galactic battle of the bands and it reads lie The Amazing Joy Buzzards had it been written by Whedon. There's not to muc heft there, but certainly worth the price I paid.


Doctor Who: The End of Time
1 & 2: Though I'm not a huge Doctor Who fan, David Tennant's run on the series has been a favorite of mine and these final two episodes were certainly very good, if a tad melancholy. A lot of people on twitter were complaining that the Doctor came off rather unheroic as he met his end, especially compared with his direct predecessor, however it felt fitting to me. Tennant's Doctor always was the reluctant hero who seemed that he'd always prefer be out having fun instead of saving the universe, so his final words seemed right to me. Also, Timothy Dalton chewed the hell out of the scenery in that episode and probably took some home in a to-go container.

Re-watched the ending of Battlestar: Galactica this week and was still really impressed with it, though I could have done without the "present day" coda. Still, really good.

Can't think of too much else I watched other than a few bowl games and repeated watchings of this one episode of The Batman that my youngest has become fascinated with.


For Christmas I got myself a Blu-ray player that also is compatible with Netflix Watch Instantly, so I'm going to be watching a lot of movies, some of which will not be very good, such as:

American Ninja: BeaucoupKevin was twittering about watching this yesterday ad so I threw it on late last night, thinking I'd be asleep in a few minutes. But shit, it was fascinating. In discussing it on twitter, Kevin said that it was "such an artifact" and it was. It hearkened back to watching awful movies just like it on cable on at my friends' houses back in grade school. Plus, there was a ninja that shot lasers at the end, that shit was off the hook.

Chocolate: The plot of this Thai martial arts movie: an autistic girl is able to repeat just about any movement she sees someone perform, so fo course she watches a bunch kung-fu movies so she can go collect the money owed to her former-gangster-mother in order to pay for her mother's cancer medicine. It was shockingly not nearly as exploitative as I thought it would end up being and was quite a good movie.

So that's about it for this week. Hopefully I'll have more for you in seven days.