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.