04th Dec2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/4/15

by Will

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First up this week, I watched the film Bernie. You’ve probably never seen it, as it was a smaller black comedy, but Jack Black stars as Bernie Tiede, an effeminate funeral director who befriends Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), the meanest and richest woman in the town of Carthage, TX. The movie surrounds the townsfolks’ reactions when it’s revealed that Tiede killed Nugent and kept her death a secret from everyone. It’s based on a true story that happened back in 1996, and Tiede was actually released on bond earlier this year. The movie is interspersed with town gossip from both performers and actual residents of Carthage, and they really help make the film what it is. I’m used to Black in goofy roles, but he was really great here. I highly recommend this movie.

Next up, I’ve got a bone to pick with Disney Channel. You see, a one-hour special is NOT an “Original Disney Channel Movie”. That is merely a SPECIAL. Anyway, I caught The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar, which is basically the pilot for an upcoming animated series. Returning us to the world of The Lion King, Simba’s now an old fuddy duddy (voiced by Rob Lowe, of all people) with 2 kids, Kion and Kiara. Since Kiara’s older, she’s being groomed to be the future Queen of the Pride Lands, while Kion is kind of the screw up. So, imagine everyone’s surprise when it turns out that Kion has The Roar, which is a power that draws upon the spirits of the ancestor lions. The prophecy is that the person with The Roar would be the leader of The Lion Guard, which is an assemblage of lions that are responsible for protecting the Pride Lands. Unfortunately, the last one to possess the power was Simba’s uncle Scar, the last leader of the Guard who went on to destroy the other members. When the Hyenas catch wind of Kion’s new power, they see him as a threat and decide to attack before he had assembled his team. Which just makes him assemble his team faster.

Bunga

Where to begin with this story? First of all, it’s not very good. It feels like a cash grab, as Disney returns to one of its deepest wells. In some ways, it could be seen as an anniversary project, but in that case it should’ve come out in 2014. The animation is basic and not very detailed. Part of me was sad that carefree Simba grew up to essentially be his father. I know he has responsibilities as King of the Pride Lands, but it felt like he really hadn’t retained much of his time with Timon and Pumbaa. He’s all business. Speaking of Timon and Pumbaa, they show up because their nephew, Bunga, is a honey badger who’s also Kion’s best friend. Bunga is probably the brightest spot of an otherwise mediocre story. In an #AllLionsMatter twist, Simba gets pissed at Kion for recruiting non-lions to The Lion Guard. They somehow managed to get James Earl Jones back for a cameo, but it just felt wasted. And the whole thing about The Roar seems to come out of nowhere. I mean, a big part of The Lion King focused on Simba trying to find his roar. Once he did, he never became the leader of the Lion Guard. And at that time, Scar no longer had the position because he lost the power after killing the rest of the Guard. So, it would’ve been ripe for Simba to take over. But of course this never happened because this was NEVER PART OF THE ORIGINALLY INTENDED STORY. It’s just a retcon. Also, the special has about 4 forgettable songs that don’t even deserve to be part of The Lion King canon. I guess you could say it introduces The Lion King to a new generation, but the whole Power Rangers of the Pride Lands angle doesn’t work for me.

Chaos On The Bridge

On Netflix, I caught Chaos On the Bridge, which is a documentary that covers the first 3 turbulent seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s a documentary that basically supports my longest held belief about The Next Generation: the show didn’t get good until creator Gene Roddenberry died. It’s a terrible thing to say, but the evidence pretty much supports it, combined with the fact that Roddenberry was physically in no shape to be running a show. In a nice little Trek twist, the film was written and directed by Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner. My biggest problem is that, at 59 minutes, it felt rushed. It also didn’t help that it’s filmed in this music video/motion comic kind of format that makes it feel like the whole thing is simply the trailer for a much longer movie we never get to see. Some of the things I already knew (TNG was slated for Fox before it got syndicated, Diana Muldaur never really clicked), but some stuff was new (they basically fired Gates McFadden for being uppity, Roddenberry had a mistress). It was interesting that the various Star Treks were indicative of where Roddenberry was in his life. During the original series, he wanted to be the ladies man who captained the ship, while he wanted to be the wise, old sage during the TNG era. He had delved into the study of secular humanism and, unlike most sci fi, he felt that things would actually get better for humanity as time went on. In his mind, by the 24th century, humans would have eliminated all conflict, which was a BITCH for the writers, as drama is fueled by conflict. It was really interesting to hear how this was received behind the scenes, and how writers found ways around it. If you’re a fan of the TNG-era Trek, I highly recommend this documentary. If I had one complaint, I only wish it were longer.

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In TV news, Adult Swim announced that Samurai Jack would be returning to the airwaves in 2016. I’ve only seen one episode, and didn’t really understand it. Still, people I respect rave over it so maybe I’ll give it another shot one of these days.

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Meanwhile on TV, FX announced that You’re The Worst has been renewed for a third season. This show features one of my favorite TV relationships, so I’m really happy about this news. If you’ve never seen the show, it’s about struggling writer Jimmy and hot mess Gretchen who have a one night stand after a wedding. Even though they’re both not “relationship people”, they still feel like they’re a good match for each other, so they try to make it work. This season’s been particularly dark, as Gretchen’s dealing with severe depression and basically pushing Jimmy into the arms of another woman. Oh, and it’s a comedy. Anyway, I highly recommend it.

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I’m not really one for Lifetime Christmas movies, but ’tis the season and all that. Well, imagine my surprise that the Winslows are coming back in The Flight Before Christmas. Airing tomorrow night, Reginald VelJohnson and Jo Marie Payton of Family Matters fame will be reunited in a Christmas movie starring Mayim Bialik (that’s not weird to anyone else? Was Kellie Martin busy?). Anyway, Bialik plays one of two travelers who end up stranded in Montana when their flight is diverted. And I take it they fall in love, or discover the true meaning of Christmas or some shit. Yeah, I won’t be watching this, but I look forward to someone making GIFs of all of the Winslow scenes.

BP

In comic news, we saw preview art this week for Ta-Nehisi Coates’s upcoming Black Panther run, and I am NOT digging it. I’m somewhat familiar with the work of artist Brian Stelfreeze, as I even have a Batman sketch from him. That said, I was expecting something a little slicker, a little more stylized. I’m hoping these are just sketchbook doodles, and that the finished product will have more Wow Factor. In regards to the story arc, part of me wonders why Coates is even wasting his time on this. I mean, on paper, he’s the smartest person to work for Marvel in a long time. He won the National Book Award for nonfiction. He won the MacArthur Genius Grant. Why is THIS guy writing something like Black Panther?

Meow

Speaking of Black Panther, there was quite the controversy this week as Entertainment Weekly revealed their Captain America: Civil War cover. While Black Panther is featured prominently between Captain America and Iron Man, his appearance is notable for 2 other reasons: 1) he’s not unmasked like the other two (EW said that was Disney’s call) and 2) the word “Meow” is written next to him. They went on to say that he that he “has claws that a Real Housewife would envy.” A lot of people took offense to this joke, as it seemed like they were trying to emasculate one of the few marquee Black superheroes. I was busy while the controversy was blazing across Twitter, so it was basically over by the time I learned about it. At the end of the day, I think it was just someone trying to be cute, but I can see where folks were coming from. EW Senior Writer Anthony Breznican was really receptive to the online criticism, and he seemed glad that people had pointed it out. I think they’ll be hesitant to do this kind of thing in the future.

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So I guess we’ve gotta talk about that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer, huh? First off, during this week’s Gotham, viewers were treated to a 30-second tease of the movie. Featuring Batman in a trenchcoat, being unmasked by Superman, the snippet did nothing to excite me about this movie. Then, Wednesday night, Ben Affleck went on Jimmy Kimmel Live (seriously, how is Kimmel getting all of these exclusives?!) and brought the full trailer with him. You’ve already seen it, so I’m not gonna go and post it here.

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To me, it was the trailer equivalent of Fant4stic Four: The first 2/3 were serviceable, and then it just went off the rails. I was fine with the footage of Clark and Bruce. I’m now more intrigued about Affleck’s portrayal of Wayne. In fact, I’m more interested in his Wayne than in his Batman. And then the fighting started. OK, whatever. It’s a common comic book trope: when heroes first meet, they have to fight ’cause of “misunderstanding” or whatever (Imagine how many fights would’ve occurred on Three’s Company if they had thrown down at the hint of every misunderstanding. It would’ve been a bloodbath! But I digress…). We knew they’d fight, so the trailer shows them fighting. I get it. Then Wonder Woman shows up, and we see the very minute they STOP fighting! Um, wasn’t that the point of getting us to see the movie? You wanted us to want to see the end of the fight? Welp, we’ve seen it. But then the biggest slap in the face happens: the movie features Superman foe Doomsday.

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Even if you don’t read comics, if you were in alive in 1992, you know that Superman “died”, and he was killed by Doomsday. I don’t need the guy who FUCKING KILLED SUPERMAN to be in Henry Cavill’s SECOND appearance as Superman. Pace that shit out! It’s like they couldn’t fucking wait to use Doomsday and, frankly, the DC Cinematic Universe hasn’t *earned* that yet. That’s a development for the Justice League movie or something – not movie #2 when you’re still world-building. BUILD the world before you start tearing it down. The inclusion of Doomsday in this movie is just such a fan service kick to the balls to me. It’s not needed, and it’s just one more unnecessary aspect to an already crowded movie. They already had me, and then they pushed too hard. As I said on Twitter, I was on board with the trailer until Doomsday showed up. It’s like getting ready to have sex with a hot girl and then her penis is bigger than yours. Think about that for a minute.

Goldberg

In social media, I had another exchange with a Hollywood type. Rather, instead of an “exchange”, Adam F. Goldberg, creator of The Goldbergs, decided to reply to a tweet I posted back in October. Kinda weird he decided to even acknowledge it, two months later – especially since I didn’t even tag him in it. I swear, these people need to quit it with the TweetDeck filters and go about doing their jobs. I didn’t even reply, as I didn’t feel like his reply warranted it. And it does still bother me they won’t commit to a year. That 70s Show never seemed to have that problem!

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On the podcasting front, I had the pleasure of joining the Recurrent Events Podcast again last night. We discussed Ecto-Cooler, Gremlins 3, Rambo and more. Be sure to check it out here.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Pamela Anderson Playboy

-After asking her sons’ permission, Pamela Anderson will grace the cover of the final “adult” issue of Playboy. No, really.

-MTV has decided that the post-Millennial generation will be known as the “Founders”. That’s some sci fi level shit right there. They’re gonna kill us all, aren’t they?

-Coldplay will play the halftime show for Super Bowl 50. I can’t figure out if this is better or worse than Bruno Mars’s rumored return to the halftime show.

-DJ Earworm released the 2015 “50 Shades of Pop” edition of his annual United State of Pop mashup, and I only recognize about 3 songs. I’m officially an old man.

Links I Loved

We Were a Nielsen Family — Here’s What It Was Like – Vulture

Ten 80s Cartoon Characters Who Are Impossible to Christmas Shop For – UnderScoopFire

Star Wars The Force Awakens Countdown T-Shirt Challenge Day 3 – The Robot’s Pajamas

Sunset. – Team Hellions

Wrestler Executes Devastating Finishing Move with His Penis – SB Nation

Flarrow Crossover

This week saw the premiere of “Heroes Join Forces”, the 2015 iteration of the annual crossover between The Flash and Arrow. The 2-night event featured the debut of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, reincarnated Egyptian lovers on the run from the immortal Vandal Savage. Executive producer Greg Berlanti said that the goal of the event was to make the episode of The Flash feel more like an Arrow episode and vice versa. On that count, I think they delivered. The crossover started with Team Flash making the trip to Star City to get protection for their friend Kendra who’s been targeted by Savage. Kendra doesn’t seem to understand why she’s a target, and Barry Allen doesn’t feel like he can offer the protection that she needs. They all get attacked by Savage, Hawkman appears and tries to remind Kendra of their past together, and Oliver discovers a secret from his past. And that’s just part one! The next night, it’s Arrow‘s turn, as everyone gets together to devise a plan to take Savage down once and for all. Oh, and Barry does some time traveling. If you couldn’t tell from my brief synopsis, part one was clearly the strongest of the 2 episodes, but it was a great crossover that laid more of the groundwork for the upcoming DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (premiering January 21st!).

I was late to the Arrow bandwagon, but it’s now one of my favorite shows. Meanwhile, I’m still technically on season one of The Flash, so there was a lot going on that went over my head. That said, I still felt like more happened on The Flash than on Arrow over the course of the 2 nights. I skipped out on Smallville before they started introducing every DC hero and their mom, so it’s kinda of novel to me to see this DC team get formed. At this point, we already have Green Arrow, Black Canary, The Flash, The Atom, The Hawks, and Firestorm in continuity. Not to mention John Constantine and the other folks slated for Legends. Plus, there have been a LOT of hints of Hal Jordan, so it’s only a matter of time before he joins the party. I really like what Berlanti is building here, and this crossover just got me more excited for Legends of Tomorrow, so “Heroes Join Forces” had the West Week Ever.

27th Nov2015

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 11/27/15

by Will

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Happy Black Friday! Here’s my meager haul so far. Yes, I know I’ve said that I hate Gotham, but I’ll give anything a shot for $10. About half these things are on Netflix, but I tend to be in situations where I can’t stream, so I figured physical media would help me out with that. How did you all do?

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So, I’m a bad geek, as I haven’t finished Jessica Jones yet. It debuted a week ago on Netflix, and most people have binged it already, but I’m just not really in a binging mood right now. At the moment, I’m about 2.5 episodes into the series, and I like what I see so far. I doubted Ritter’s casting, but so far she’s convincing as the character. And the sex! Every time Luke and Jessica bang, I think, “Take THAT, racism!” Anyway, people seem to like it, so I guess Marvel and Netflix have another hit on their hands. I’ll have a better review when I finish the season.

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In addition to watching The Marine for the umpteenth time, I rented a few movies from Redbox. First up was Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham. I know I seem to be in the minority in my circle, but I feel like Melissa McCarthy can do no wrong. She and Paul Feig are a winning team and, if it’s rated R, you’re especially in for a treat, as she can cuss with the best of them. If you haven’t seen it, Susan Cooper is a schlubby CIA analyst who finds herself in the field as an agent to avenge the death of her partner. Feig brought back some of his familiar folks, like Rose Byrne from Bridesmaids, and the result was hilarious. It was also really refreshing to see Statham in a comedic role, and I’d like to see more of that from him. It being Redbox, I was only able to rent the theatrical version, but I’d love to see the unrated version, as some of the jokes in the red band trailer didn’t seem to make it into the film.

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Next up, I watched Vacation, and man did that feel like a chore! I should probably admit that I’ve never seen the original. Sure, I saw European Vacation a couple of times, and I saw Christmas Vacation about 20 years ago, but I’ve never seen the original Chevy Chase goes to Walley World film. I like Ed Helms. I’ve liked him since he was Andy Bernard, as we were both obnoxious Cornell a cappella alums. So, I want to see him do well. I’m not sure he was right for this role, though. I remember Rusty Griswold, and I’d hate to think he grew up to be square Ed Helms. I guess the lesson is that we all grow up to be our fathers, but I didn’t think Rusty would’ve grown up to be so…boring. Anyway, the entire cast, from Helms to Christina Applegate, is wasted on a thin script. Basically, to bring his family closer together, Rusty Griswold decides to take his family on a vacation to the Walley World theme park, just like his father had done years before. Meanwhile, his marriage is shaky, as his wife is unfulfilled, and his one son is a nightmare of a bully, while the other is uber sensitive. The jokes really fell flat, and the only time the movie has any real life to it is when the Griswolds deliver a Bundy-style beatdown to another family. Unless you’re just a die-hard Vacation completist (which means you probably also liked the made-for-TV Christmas Vacation 2), you can go ahead and skip this film.

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Then, I watched Get Hard, starring Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell. On paper, this movie is perfect to me. Two of my favorite comedic actors in the same film. Sure, Kevin Hart pretty much always plays himself (“volatile little guy”), but you never really know what to expect from Ferrell. In execution, however, this movie left me wanting. In fact, for most of the film, it feels like Ferrell is woefully miscast – odd, considering it’s from his production company, Gary Sanchez films. Kevin Hart’s just fine, but Ferrell doesn’t really get comfortable until Act 3, when he can really get crazy. If you’re not familiar with it, Ferrell plays a successful money manager who finds himself framed for fraud. With 30 days before he’s sent to prison, he hires Kevin Hart to teach him how to survive in jail. He figures Hart’s been to jail since 1 in 3 Black men will be incarcerated at some point in their life so, naturally, Hart is that 1. Surprisingly, however, Hart hasn’t been to jail, so he has to fake it so that he can get Ferrell to pay him the $30,000 that he needs to move his family into a better neighborhood. The entire basis of the movie is kinda racist, and there’s something of a lesson to be taught about assumptions and cultural appropriation, but this isn’t the kind of movie you screen for your college sociology class. It pretty much begs you not to ask questions. At the end of the day, it was funny, but it could have been funnier. For this one, I think you can wait for it to come on TBS.

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Finally, I watched Miss Congeniality on TV. Yeah, this movie’s 15 years old, but there are a LOT of movies I haven’t seen yet. Sandy Bullock (yeah, we’re cool enough that I can call her Sandy) is just so cute, but I wonder if she’s tired of playing the slightly socially inept cop. I mean, her character in Miss Congeniality might as well be her character from The Heat, as there aren’t many differences between the two. Maybe that’s her sweet spot.  Haven’t seen it? It’s about a hot mess of a federal agent who finds herself undercover in the world of beauty pageants. Michael Caine works his magic and turns her into the belle of the ball. Anyway, that was a cute little movie. I enjoyed it enough that I DVRed the sequel.

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This week, it was announced that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be rated PG-13. Well, duh! Ya know why? Because EVERYTHING is rated PG-13 these days. It’s not like it was gonna be rated R, ’cause they want the kids to see it, plus it’s not like the Jedi are cussing up a storm and having gratuitous sex. That’s my issue with trailers that say “This Film Has Not Yet Been Rated”. That’s basically the studio saying, “We’re still debating how many ‘shits’ we can get in the film and have the MPAA leave us alone.” It’s ALWAYS gonna be PG-13. In this day and age, it’s pretty much impossible to have a live action PG movie. That rating is reserved for Pixar and Universal animated films (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day is the only recent live action example I can think of). Everything else is PG-13. Apparently, it and Revenge of the Sith are the only ones in the franchise to not have a PG rating, but the industry has changed a lot since the prequels.

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In other movie news, it’s reported that the next Men In Black movie will prominently feature a Woman In Black. That’s not really a big deal, as they’ve shown women in the organization, but since the movies are set to shift away from the J and K partnership, maybe she’ll be front and center. Also, it seems like they’re still committed to having it in a shared universe with the 21 Jump Street franchise (first revealed in the Sony email hack). Exactly how that’s gonna work remains to be seen. It’s also not clear if Will Smith is coming back. He seems to hate sequels lately (see Independence Day: Resurgence), so I wouldn’t be surprised if he bailed. Hell, I wouldn’t even be surprised if he somehow convinced the studio to hire Jayden or Willow instead.

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In music news, *NSYNC said “Bye bye bye” to their album sales record, as Adele broke it by selling 3 million copies of 25 during its first week. I really never thought that record had any chance of being broken in today’s music sales climate, but there we go. Meanwhile, Justin Bieber broke a record by The Beatles with most number of singles on the Hot 100 at once. The Beatles had 14, and Bieber has 17, but he kinda cheated. Usually, you release a single at a time, so as not to cannibalize your progress. Bieber, however, released videos for 17 of the 18 songs on Purpose simultaneously, so it was pretty easy for him to break that record. This is the new music industry, so I pretty much expect someone like One Direction to come along and do this with their next album, thereby breaking Bieber’s record. And so on and so on.

courtesy of hopeless-romance45.deviantart.com

courtesy of hopeless-romance45.deviantart.com

I don’t talk much about wrestling these days, mainly because I can’t stomach 3 hours of RAW every week. Still, my favorite wrestler of all time is The Undertaker. Sure, he kinda seems like a dated gimmick now, but that’s the point. He hearkens back to a bygone era when wrestlers had gimmicks and things that made them special. Nowawdays, they don’t even come with creative names. For example, if I were in the WWE, my name would probably be Bruce Williamson. Back in the day, that would’ve been the name of a “jobber” (the nobody who fights the superstar to make him look better). Now, however, Bruce Williamson could be the new heavyweight champion of the world. Now, some people might see that as “progress”, but I see it as the sport losing its mystique. So, as cheesy as he may seem, I ride or die for The Deadman.

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Well, this week we celebrated 25 years of The Undertaker, as he made his in-ring debut during Survivor Series in 1990. This is a big deal, as you will NEVER SEE THIS AGAIN. Sure, there are people who’ve been wrestling for longer, but they bounced from promotion to promotion. The Undertaker has never jumped ship to WCW (though he did a stint there prior to WWE) or TNA. Sure, he takes a LOT of breaks, but he always comes home to WWE. He’s apparently a major positive force in the locker room, and he’s been rewarded for it. A 21 year streak at Wrestlemania is what he’s most known for. Now, yes, it’s scripted entertainment, but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t let The Streak happen for just anybody. No, Taker earned that, as he always performs…even when he probably shouldn’t. His days are numbered, and there may not be an Undertaker pretty soon. I certainly don’t think we’ll be celebrating 30 years of The Undertaker, but stranger things have happened. I have a feeling Vince McMahon will step in and tell him “it’s time”, just like he did when he decided it was time to end The Streak. When that time comes, I just may have to be there for his final match.

Storage Wars

In the world of social media, I had the above exchange with Rene from Storage Wars. It was less an exchange and more of “he clearly had a filter on for Storage Wars mentions and decided to respond”. I didn’t really have anything to say back to him, though. I guess nice guys do win every now and then. But I’m scared of that Mavrick dude. Half his body is pure tattoo.

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In the world of comics, the first issue of The Dark Knight III: The Master Race came out this week. I tried to read it, and didn’t get past the first page. Part of the problem is that I’ve completely forgotten everything that occurred in that previous installment, The Dark Knight Strikes Again. I mean, c’mon, it was 12 years ago! I just remember it being really bad. If you’ve never read the original The Dark Knight, it’s about an older, grizzled Batman coming out of retirement to fight mutant gangs and a governmentally brainwashed Superman. It sounds kind of “out there”, but it’s a classic, and is rumored to be the basis of Ben Affleck’s portrayal in the upcoming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Anyway, in a surprisingly dick move, before the issue even came out, original writer Frank Miller announced that there will be a Dark Knight IV. From what I’ve gathered, it seems like Miller’s “cowriter” on DK III, Brian Azzarello, is actually steering the ship, and I don’t think ol’ Frank wants him to have the final say on The Dark Knight Saga. So, Miller has decided that he’ll just keep going as long as DC will let him. And since DK stories is like printing money, it’s not like DC’s gonna stop him anytime soon. Unless DK III is a colossal bomb. Which it could be…

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This is pretty much the most useless week in the calendar year, as nothing really gets accomplished before Thanksgiving. As such, no real news came out this week either. We were all set to just accept this and ready ourselves for turkey. Then, Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. showed up on Jimmy Kimmel Live with a surprise: they had the teaser trailer for Captain America: Civil War. After the show, the full trailer was uploaded to YouTube. Haven’t seen it? Here ya go:

Did you see Black Panther?! I’ve NEVER cared about that character, but they actually made him look cool. I may actually be looking forward to his solo movie now (seriously, most of Phase 3 is kinda “meh” to me right now). I’m probably more excited about this movie than Star Wars (yeah, I know, I know…), so May 6th can’t get here fast enough.

That said, I’m kinda disappointed that this was Cap 3 instead of Avengers 3. Considering the cast list, everyone jokes that it’s basically Avengers 2.5, but I feel that making it a Cap movie indicates that Cap is the hero, and I don’t feel the Civil War situation (at least as presented in the comic storyline) is that cut and dry. To be honest, I was Team Stark when that whole thing went down. Heroes DO need to be regulated, and it’s a natural reaction from a frightened populace. In the comics, they kinda portrayed Stark as the asshole, while Cap was the “hero”, even though Stark was the one upholding THE LAW. Now, there’s the whole argument of “Do you acknowledge laws that are wrong?”, which is pretty much what Cap’s stance was. The whole thing was marketed under the banner of “Whose Side Are You On?” Because this movie is about Cap sticking up for his friend, Bucky, I think it kinda adds a slant to the argument. It feels like they’ve already made up our minds about whose side we should be on, especially when you see things like the dual beatdown The Winter Solider and Cap give Iron Man in the trailer. I really hope things are presented a big more evenly in the film but, like I said, I’m not really expecting it. Anyway, for getting me excited for a movie I really didn’t have on my radar, the Captain America: Civil War trailer had the West Week Ever.

 

04th Nov2015

Will’s Really Late NYCC 2015 Swag Grab Recap

by Will

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So, it’s been almost a month since New York Comic Con, and here I am finally putting my thoughts to “paper”. I meant to do it sooner, but there really wasn’t much to say at the time. I mean, I always enjoy the chance to go to a comic con. I missed Baltimore in September for the first time in 10 years, due to my sister-in-law’s wedding. So, NYCC was meant to fill that void. Did it? Not really. You see, Baltimore is still a somewhat intimate show, even as it has grown. NYCC is just straight out of control now. Too many people. No me gusta!

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As you know from my past convention reports, I tend to post a lot of cosplay pics from the show, but I just couldn’t do it this time. That’s not to say that there weren’t cool costumes, but it was too overwhelming. For example, I really wanted to take a picture of Black Dick Tracy, because it was a cool costume AND I really wanted to type “Black Dick Tracy”. Welp, I guess I got to accomplish half that. Anyway, my pal Chris Piers gave me a challenge: he wanted me to figure out which property/character was being cosplayed the most at the show. Discounting all the Harleys, Deadpools, and Banes (I no longer even notice them anymore), I’ve got to say that Rick & Morty won hands down. I know the show is great, but I had no idea it had the reach that it does. To see so many folks cosplaying as the duo means that there’s quite a strong fanbase behind the show. Coming in a close second would be Spider-Gwen crossplay. By that, I mean that I saw a lot of dudes wearing Spider-Gwen hoodies. I still don’t know how that character has taken fandom by storm like it has (I’ve got all the issues, but haven’t read them yet). It’s just amazing to see that it’s taken off so quickly.

So, after quickly realizing that taking pics wasn’t gonna be “the look”, as the kids say, I knew that I’d have to come up with some sort of plan. Since conventions are known for their swag (that’s “free stuff”, for the unenlightened), that was gonna be my ticket: I was gonna see how much free stuff I could rack up over the course of the day. That’s not to say that I didn’t buy anything, because I did and we’ll get to that. Still, I wanted to see what I could get for nothing, and I think I made out pretty well.

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Almost 5 minutes into the Javits Center lobby, and I had my first shot at some free stuff. There was a booth set up to promote Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, seeing as how the free wifi at the show was being supplied by “LexCorp”. All you had to do was follow @AlexanderLuthor on Twitter, show them that you followed him, and they gave you a free LexCorp rechargeable power bank. Score! I hadn’t even set foot on the convention floor yet, and I was already getting stuff. The show was starting to look promising.

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The DC Comics booth, for some reason, was also outside the main hall, so I picked up this Dawn of Justice themed LEGO poster.

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The DC booth was also giving out this free comic sponsored by KFC. I remember reading about this before the show, and thinking I wanted a copy, but I completely forgot about it until someone handed me a copy. I was kinda hoping it would tie into the whole Darrell Hammond/Norm MacDonald thing going on with the commercials, but it seems to be its own thing. All I know is that KFC is doing a lot of head scratch-inducing marketing lately.

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Marvel had a booth set up just to promote the upcoming Netflix series Jessica Jones. I got a promo poster with art by Alias artist Michael Gaydos promoting the show. There was also a preview comic, also with art by Gaydos. I also got business cards for Alias Investigations and Nelson & Murdock – Attorneys At Law. Finally, I got a picture and video of myself at the desk of Alias Investigations.

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The Marvel booth was giving away this poster promoting the animated Guardians of the Galaxy series on DisneyXD. I’ve heard absolutely nothing about that show, either good or bad. Has anyone seen it?

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Marvel also gave out this double-sided poster promoting the ABC Marvel series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter.

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I got this Groot crown, also designed to promote the Guardians TV series.

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As for comics, Marvel was relying on their FCBD offering, by giving out copies of All-New, All Different Avengers. I took my copy to Artist Alley and got it signed by artist Mahmud Asrar. I also got a free Avengers comic meant to tie in with the Playmation system that just came out. Finally, I got a Secret Wars print by Skottie Young.

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At the ABC Family booth, they were surprisingly not promoting their upcoming name change to Freeform. I guess the banners and stuff had already been printed up by the time the news broke. Anyway, they were giving away this poster tube promoting their shows Stitchers, Pretty Little Liars, and Shadow Hunter. It wasn’t until I got home that I actually looked at the posters and realized they were commissioned by Marvel:

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I really like the Pretty Little Liars one, as it reminds me of Fables. However, I’ve never seen the show, and have no idea what I’d do with it, so back into the tube it went.

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The Dark Horse booth was also relying heavily on their FCBD offerings, but I didn’t get a chance to get Fight Club or the Avatar book when they first came out, so I grabbed them. I also got a Call of Duty: Black Ops III comic, as well as an ashcan for a comic called Rebels. I just liked the poster for Joe Golem: Occult Detective, but it got kinda messed up on the way home, so I chucked it.

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At the Del Rey booth, they not only gave away a Star Wars sampler, but they also gave away a complete novel – Star Wars: Tarkin. I’m never gonna read this thing, but it was a whole book. For free!

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I’d never heard of 451 Media before, but their booth guys were just shoving these into people’s hands. One guy was like “You want me to sign ’em?” I had no clue who he was, but I was like, “Sure”. It turns out this is a media company co-founded by Michael Bay. Each comic has a card in the back that you scan with an app, and it’ll unlock more content. I haven’t tried it yet, but the art in the books is actually pretty good. I’ll get around to reading them one of these days.

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There was a guy handing out the Den of Geek Magazine as you got off the escalator. Meanwhile, I collect convention programs, so I had to grab one of those, as well.

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All they seemed to have at the IDW booth was this Star Trek: Starfleet Academy ashcan comic. I’m not even sure if I like NuTrek, but it was free, so…

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At the Diamond booth, they were giving out this little Cardcaptor Sakura figurines. No interest in that franchise, but again, it was free.

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At the Valiant booth, I got this 2016 Preview book. I’ll talk a bit more about Valiant later.

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The LEGO booth gave away what is probably the thinnest poster I’ve ever held in my hands. I swear, it’s like 1/2 ply. Anyway, it was to promote the upcoming NEXO Knights line.

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Finally, while not exactly free (I bought the comic at a shop before I left for NYCC), I had a nice conversation with writer David Walker, who signed my copy of Cyborg #1. We actually did a podcast together about a year ago, so we talked about that, and it seems like he might want to do it again soon.

So, in all, it wasn’t too bad of a haul. I don’t want a chunk of that stuff, but that wasn’t the point. I really just wanted to see if you could have an enjoyable experience without shelling out a ton of money. I think you can, as I had fun tracking down all the different swag. But I told you in the beginning that I did buy some stuff, so let’s take a quick look at that, shall we?

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If you read last year’s post, you might remember that I met The Cosby Show/Living Single actress Erika Alexander on the convention floor. It turned out that she and her husband, Tony Puryear, had written a book called Concrete Park. Well, I bought the first volume from them last year, and Tony was here selling the second volume. To be honest, I haven’t even read Volume 1 yet, but I always think it’s cooler to buy a book directly from the creator than at a shop, so I picked up Volume 2.

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Somehow, I found myself in the Valiant booth. Let me tell you a little something about me and Valiant. I’ve NEVER taken them seriously as a comic publisher. Back in the early 90s, when they were first getting started, I wanted nothing to do with their books. When their revival started up a couple of years ago, I didn’t think they’d last a year. Their stuff just never seemed interesting to me. Still, while I was in their booth, I was approached by one of their marketing guys, and he was so friendly. He asked me what kind of stuff I liked to read, and then he immediately was able to find a Valiant book comparable to it. Like Batman? Then try Ninjak. That sort of thing. Plus, since it was the last day of the convention, they were running a special: trade paperbacks were $10 each OR you could get 5 for $30. They were basically giving you two for free. I couldn’t pass that up, and he even sold me a copy of Quantum and Woody that had been signed by the creators. So, I went from completely ignoring Valiant to actually being excited about their output. I’m pretty sure I’ll write about those books once I get a chance to sit down and read them.

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Finally, there was a booth that had trade paperbacks for half price, so I got these 6 books for $5 each. I remember wanting to read Freelancers, plus I’d been intrigued by the all-female Ghostbusters story arc when it came out. I loved the first Dr. McNinja collection, so I was glad to find “Timefist”. I grabbed those Axe Cop books because I enjoyed the first collection, but never really wanted to pay $20 each for the other volumes. At $5 each, that’s just a little over what a single issue would cost, so I jumped on it. Then I got home, and found that I actually already had 2 of them. I really need to catalog my collection so this stops happening…

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In all, did I have a good time? Yeah, I guess so. I mean, I originally wanted to go because I thought it would be a great chance to meet up with some of my Twitter friends. Unfortunately, I never made any concrete plans. So, when I sent out the call that morning, it fell upon deaf keyboards. So, it was actually kind of a lonely experience, to be honest *cue sad violin*. I enjoy comic conventions, but NYCC has gotten to be a bit much. It needs a bigger venue, and I’m not sure that even exists in the city at the moment. As it stands, though, this may be my last NYCC. If I go again, it will be with a strict agenda, i.e meeting friends, checking out particular projects, etc. instead of just wandering around, killing time.

02nd Nov2015

Mail Call Monday – SummerSwap 2015

by Will

In the words of the immoral theme to Enterprise, “It’s been a long road, getting from there to here.” Not only has it been about 2 years since the last “Mail Call Monday”, but I should’ve written this post about 2 months ago. You see, over the summer, my pal @Dex1138 decided to hold the SummerSwap 2015 – he filled a Priority Box full of geeky stuff, and sent it off to someone. That person was to take what they wanted, and then replace those items with more geeky stuff, and send it off to the next person. And so on and so on. A lot of the folks participating were former members of The League of Extraordinary Bloggers, so I knew I was in good company. I got the box around August, and here’s what I grabbed:

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First up, we’ve got some stickers. I’m a sucker for stickers. When I was 3, I covered out refrigerator with Garbage Pail Kids stickers. My mom initially thought they were cute Cabbage Patch stickers…until it was too late! Muhuhahahahahahaha! Anyway, when I saw these in the box, I had to grab them. There’s a pack of stickers from the Cult Film Club Podcast (check them out if you haven’t already!), and CFC co-host Shawn also included a sticker for his own blog, Branded in the 80s. There’s a pretty sweet Avengers car decal, as well as a nice Masters of the Universe sticker. Rounding them out, there’s a Goonies sticker from the Goonies trading card series.

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Next up, there were the DVDs. First, I grabbed a movie called Manborg. I’ve never heard of it, and I have no clue what it’s about, but it looked too campy to pass up. I look forward to watching it one lonely Winter Saturday. I also grabbed Shogun Assassin, as I actually don’t have any martial arts movies in my collection, so it seemed like as good a time to add one. Finally, I grabbed the Ghostbusters Blu-Ray. I already own the movie, but it’s in DVD format. When it comes to upgrading to the Blu-Ray format, I made a promise to myself that I would only get “epic” movies that deserved to be Blu-Rays. Sure, I kinda broke that rule when I got This Is 40 (long story short: the store was going out of business, and it was, like, $3), but I think Ghostbusters fits that description.

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And here’s the rest. I figured we should take a closer look at each item, so you’ll get a full understanding as to what I grabbed.

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First, there’s a small graphic novel called The Black Wraith. I feel like I actually used to own this, but I’m a sucker for intriguing indie GNs, so I’m looking forward to reading it.

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Next up, I got a glow-in-the-dark mini Mordle. If you’re not familiar with Mordles, you clearly don’t know @JohnDoctorKent. They’re cool little monsters that look great on your desk.

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Then, there was a tiny Pac-Man candy container that works pretty well with 4″ action figures. I plan to take tons of pictures of Finn and Batman, only to post them on Instagram to be completely ignored.

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This is a 20-yr old Happy Meal morpher from when the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie came out. Whoever put this in the box must’ve known it was coming to me. The moment my then-5 month old saw this, she immediately put it in her mouth (that’s her seal of approval). At that moment, there was no doubt that she was my daughter, and I cancelled our trip to the Maury show.

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Finally, there was this mini Bluetooth speaker. The wife was just saying that she wanted one, and voila! Superman sure works in mysterious ways. It’s even got a suction cup, so you can mount it in the shower. There was also a Wolf-Man mini bust, but my pal Keith is a huge Universal Monsters fan, so it found its way into his possession before I could take a picture.

So, what did I add to the box? Well, you can see a lot of it here. Needless to say, I added a LOT of Batman stuff. LEGO, trade paperbacks, etc. And since the box seemed to have a decidedly horror theme to it, I threw in some of that stuff, as well.

Oh, and the box had an official mascot in the form of Dracula. Once we received the box, we were to take pics of Drac in his new surroundings.

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Here’s Drac with the wife’s wine bottle collection. I guess he heard there were “spirits” nearby. Ha!

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Gamera and Alex wanted to show Drac their cork collection. He was far from impressed.

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BIFF! SOCK! Dracula was invited to a swinging 60s party, but he wasn’t really feeling it.

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Drac later checked in on the local villain scene, but realized he was overdressed for the festivities.

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Finally, Drac hung out with Not Hobbes. Yes, that’s what I named him. The Target Corporation is really skating on thin ice with this one. The photo is blurry to protect Drac’s identity when Bill Watterson’s lawyers come calling.

In the end, it was a fun experiment, and I’d like to thank Dex for putting it together. I hope he organizes it again next year, as I definitely want to participate. And I promise not to take so long with my recap next time. Meanwhile, be sure to check out his blog AEIOU…and Sometimes Why.

09th Oct2015

West Week Ever – 10/9/15

by Will

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Do ya like superheroes? Chances are, if you’re reading this site, you do. Well, have you heard of SuperMansion? It’s a stop-motion animated show about a ragtag group of superheroes, created by the folks behind Robot Chicken. Need more reason to watch it? Well, the team is led by Titanium Rex, voiced by Bryan Cranston. New episodes go live every Thursday on Crackle. Never heard of Crackle? That’s cool – a lot of people haven’t. It’s Sony’s streaming platform that they don’t quite know how to succeed with. Anyway, the show premiered officially yesterday, even though the first episode has been available for a few weeks. I watched it while I was in Denver, and it was pretty funny. If anything, though, it might be too long. I tend to hate the Adult Swim 12-minute episode format, but I think this show would actually benefit from it. I kinda wish it was on something other than Crackle, which just isn’t a destination site for me. Right now, it probably ranks below Yahoo! Screen, and I’d probably be more interested in seeking it out on something like Netflix. Yeah, I guess I’m a streaming snob now.

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Speaking of networks, on January 1st, ABC Family changes to Freeform. It’s part of their rebranding to appeal to Millennials, who make up most of their audience. I hate the name (especially as a hashtag), but I’m also not their core audience. In fact, up until recently, I was convinced that nobody watched ABC Family. I mean, Melissa & Joey? Baby Daddy? Who’s watching that shit? Now, my wife did watch that deaf girl show, and other folks have told me their wives have got them watching shows on there, so maybe instead of Freeform they should’ve gone with Whipped.

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Keeping it in the ABC/Disney family, let’s talk about this new Disney princess. Auli’i Cravalho will voice the title character in the upcoming animated film Moana. It’s about a teen from 2,000 years ago who sets out to fulfill an ancestor’s quest. The movie will also star The Rock (yeah, I thought about typing out his full name, but he’s always gonna just be The Rock to me). Folks seems so excited about another princess of color, but the door for acceptance was shut after Mulan. I don’t see that chick from The Princess and the Frog showing up in any Disney parades. Sure, there’ll be a marketing push when the movie comes out, but I’m skeptical that Moana will be invited to join the exclusive club of Disney Princesses that everyone knows and loves.

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Disney announced their release dates for the next few years, and folks are upset that Toy Story 4 has been delayed due to Cars 3. I could really do without either of them. I still haven’t seen any of the Cars movies, but I did see Toy Story 3. Maybe I’m heartless, but I still don’t understand why folks consider that movie to be such a tearjerker. It did nothing for me. It was a serviceable movie, but I’m in that “Pixar Can’t Make Me Cry Unless It’s The First 15 Minutes of Up” crowd. Anyway, Disney will be soaking up all your tears with the cash you’ll undoubtedly give them for Toy Story 4: Cash Grab. Who am I kidding? My kid will be old enough to go to movies by then, so I’ll probably be sitting right there in the theater with you.

Picture courtesy of @nerdlunch

Picture courtesy of @nerdlunch

This is a nice segue into Marvel news. That same Disney release date schedule included 3 unnamed Marvel movies slated for 2020. More importantly, though, it indicated a shift in the previously-announced Phase 3 schedule. Black Panther moves from July to February, Captain Marvel moves from 2018 to 2019, and the newly-announced Ant-Man and The Wasp is now slated for July 6, 2018 (Black Panther‘s old date). The Black Panther shift is interesting because not only is it no longer positioned as a summer blockbuster, but now it’s actually coming out during Black History Month. Can you believe that? The Ant-Man sequel is interesting in that it appears to be giving The Wasp equal billing. And I kinda feel like Marvel’s stalling on Captain Marvel, even though the adjusted release date doesn’t give them that much more time to get it together.

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Speaking of Marvel on film, earlier this week I made the remark on Twitter that Yancy Butler would’ve made a great Jessica Jones – if it were 10 years ago and she didn’t have a huge drinking problem. After all, when looking at Michael Gaydos’ original art, that’s pretty much how I pictured the character: indicators of attractiveness, yet still a little “hard lived”. Plus, I see a lot of parallels between Jones and Sara Pezzini, the cop Butler portrayed on TNT’s Witchblade. It’s no secret that I’ve not a fan of Krysten Ritter’s casting in the role, and I just feel like Butler would look a bit more like the character. Well, as commonly happens on Twitter, some rando came out of the woodworks, trying to tell me that I shouldn’t be judgey about Butler’s alcoholic past, as the same thing happened to Eric Dane on Grey’s Anatomy and nobody shunned him like they did Butler. Wow. Everybody’s a superfan these days. Anyway, I explained that I wasn’t being judgmental, but Butler’s past with substance abuse has clearly had a negative effect on her career. And who the Hell cares about Eric Dane?

Power Man and Iron First

This week is just segue-palooza, as we move from talking about Jessica Jones to talking about her husband, Luke Cage. It was announced this week that Cyborg‘s David Walker will be writing a new Power Man and Iron Fist series for Marvel. I’m a fan of Walker’s work, so I’ll check it out, but I’m still not sold on Sanford Greene’s art. It’s a little too “Chris Bachalo” for me, meaning it’s kinda all over the place. Not quite sure how to interpret the tone of the book from it. Still, I’ll check out the first issue. It’s not like it’s gonna last longer than 2 years anyway. That’s not a diss on the creative team. It’s just the proven track record of recent books starring those characters.

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This week, writer/filmmaker/artist/crazy old man Frank Miller revealed his cover for Dark Knight Universe Presents: The Atom, and the Internet lost its shit. I mean, just look at it. Look at how bad that is. Still, some industry pros came to Miller’s defense, saying that we should be glad he can still put out work at all. The rumor is that he has cancer and couldn’t even hold a pencil without shaking just a year ago. So, we should all be glad he got well enough to make this cover, right? Right? Wrong. Look, I don’t wish any ill on the man, but that’s bad work. And before somebody comes at me with the “Well, could you do better?”, I probably could. So, on the plus side, Frank Miller’s not dead. On the negative side, he hasn’t retired yet.

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In Power Rangers news, Naomi Scott has been confirmed as the Pink Ranger in Lionsgate’s upcoming Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie. I know absolutely nothing about this chick, but apparently she was one of the stars of Fox’s canceled Terra Nova. Oh, and she’s married to a Black soccer player. So, she’s OK in my book! Really, though, I can see why they’re skewing more to unknown-ish actors, as no self-respecting actor wants Power Rangers on their resume, yet this is the perfect kind of thing for an up and comer. It’s just weird to me that she was born in 1993 – the same year that MMPR started. Like, has she even watched MMPR before? By the time she was “of age”, they were probably on Lost Galaxy by then. Anyway, I’ve really got no strong feelings about this movie. I want to get excited, but I know Saban will do things on the cheap. Meanwhile, I don’t really understand the affinity for the Mighty Morphin incarnation of the brand. Sure, it was the first, but it only holds meaning to a bunch of old people who’ll take their kids to see the movie. It doesn’t really mean much to the kids themselves. I’d almost rather them do something completely original, under the Power Rangers umbrella, with the same sentai overtones. New characters, new Zords. Hell, even new, original suits – they basically did it for the first movie. I’d be excited about a Power Rangers movie, but I’m not too keen on another Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie. I guess only folks familiar with the fluctuations of the franchise will understand the distinction.

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Meanwhile in Power Rangers news, the original Pink Ranger, Amy Jo Johnson, turned 45 this week. A moment of silence for our lost pubescence.

Links I Loved

Rick Moranis Isn’t Retired ( He Just Doesn’t Know How To Change His Wikipedia Page) – The Hollywood Reporter

THE HALLOWEEN WHOPPER! – The Horror Movie BBQ

This MMA Fighter Pooped All Over The Ring After Getting Choked Out – UPROXX

Inside the Intense, Insular World of AOL Disc Collecting – Vice

On burnouts and buttheads – Cool and Collected

NYCC

At this point, I think it’s safe to say that New York Comic Con is going to be huge. As San Diego Comic-Con got huge and sold out to Hollywood, NYCC has gotten huge in just a short amount of time – and still primarily focuses on comics. Starting yesterday and running through Sunday, look for some big announcements from the major publishers this weekend. Most of the big SDCC announcements leaked before that show this year, but there seem to be some surprises in store for NYCC. Also, in what I believe to be a first, the Javits Center will be offering free wifi, courtesy of LexCorp. Yup, free Internet from Lex Luthor himself. I may not be looking forward to Dawn of Justice, but I’ll take the freebies that come along with it. I’m looking forward to it, as I’ll be making my grand return to the Javits Center Sunday morning. I missed Baltimore Comic-Con a few weeks back, so I’m making up for it by making the sojourn to The Big Apple. Needless to say, I’m a little excited, as I hope I run into a few of you on the con floor. So, in my mind, New York Comic Con is having the West Week Ever.

21st Aug2015

West Week Ever – 8/21/15

by Will

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Man, did this week suck! Work is kinda kicking my ass, so this might be a short one this week.

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This seemed like the week of lost heroes. First up, Jared Fogle – Subway’s mascot for over a decade – pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, as well as traveling to have sex with a minor. Apparently, he would call up local escort services, and offer a bounty if they could find him young girls. “The younger the better”, he apparently said. This all started a few weeks back, when his home was raided. It was originally thought that it was in relation to the child pornography charges against the former head of his charity, but it turns out that guy had shared the videos with Jared. So, now everyone’s making jokes about all the “footlongs” he’s gonna get in prison. While it’s laughable, I find the whole thing kinda sad. I always liked Jared, and I hate to know that he was such a creeper.

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Another hero fell, as Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox called it quits after 11 years together. Now, every neckbeard across America is gonna think he’s got a shot with her, but think again! The Summer of Lost Love continues. Better luck next time, David Silver…

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Over at ABC, it appears that Mockingbird spinoff isn’t dead after all. Now called Marvel’s Most Wanted (which sounds like a really bad comic reprint collection or something), the show will follow Bobbi Morse and ex husband Lance Hunter on their “continuing adventures”. They’re now saying, however, that it’s not a “spinoff” per se, so it’s not clear if they’ll be distancing it from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Right now, it’s just at the pilot stage, so nothing may come from it, but only time will tell. I still think this is a bad idea, as those 2 are probably the most interesting members of the team. Unless they use time travel to make Agent Carter travel to the present and join the team, I really don’t see what could make that show interesting if Bobbi and Hunter leave. I wouldn’t say they’re carrying the show, but they would definitely be missed if they left.

Aaron Carter

So, I’ve been doing this Twitter thing for over 6 years, but never had a celebrity follower. There was that brief time I was followed by Ronda Rousey’s mom (or some chick pretending to be her), but I never had a gen-yoo-wine celebrity until Wednesday night. I was busy live-tweeting Catfish when I got an email: “Aaron Carter is now following you”. Aaron Carter?! “That’s How I Beat Shaq” Aaron Carter?! Backstreet Boy Nick Carter’s little brother, and former boyfriend of both Lindsay Lohan AND Hilary Duff Aaron Carter?! Surely this had to be a fake fan profile, right? Nope, look at that checkmark. Verified, baby! His career never really took off like his brother’s, but he was kind of a big deal in Europe before he hit puberty. What’s he doing now? Well, apparently he filed for bankruptcy back in 2013, so there’s that. And now he’s following a bunch of nobodies on Twitter. Huzzah! Actually, I really don’t know how I feel about this. I mean, what about me made him follow me? Sure, I talk a lot about boybands, but I don’t think I’ve ever discussed him or his career. How long will this last? Surely he’ll be gone by Labor Day, right? Maybe I should tweet him and see if he replies. So conflicted!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Craig Robinson’s Mr. Robinson ended its 6-episode first season on NBC

-Josh Duggar, of 19 Kids and Oh God, My Vagina! fame, was outed in the Ashley Madison hack, resulting in his confession that he’d not only had an affair, but had also spent almost $1,000 on the site. First he touches his sisters, and then he pays to cheat on his wife. Dude’s got NO game.

-Disney revealed footage from Captain America: Civil War at last weekend’s D23 Expo. Since the footage isn’t online, I’m not gonna waste my time describing someone else’s description of what they saw. I’ll just wait for the trailer.

-Presidential candidate Deez Nuts is gaining on Donald Trump

Links I Loved

Being An Uber Driver Is Great, Until You Pick Up A Crackhead – DewanGibson.com

Actors Who have Played Multiple Marvel Comics Characters – The Robot’s Pajamas

Time To Start the Teenage Angst! – OAFE

Well… August 20, 2015. – Team Hellions

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Now, I don’t get into this too much, but I have a No Death policy for West Week Ever. It’s never happy, there are too many of them to mention every week, and I’m sure I’d end up missing someone who’s important to readers but not to me. So, I just stay away from death announcements. This week, however, I have to make an exception. You see, Leonard B. Robinson, also known as Route 29 Batman, was killed last Sunday while checking his engine on a business stretch of road. If you haven’t heard the story by now, Robinson went viral a few years ago when he was pulled over by Montgomery County police along Route 29. His story, it turns out, was that he had made a fortune in the cleaning business, so he decided to dress up like Batman and visit sick kids in hospitals. He had a souped up Lamborghini that served as his Batmobile, and it was this very car that he was driving when tragedy struck.

I’ve often wondered why no one has actually tried to be Batman. Sure, it’s fiction, but some rich guy could easily decide to become a vigilante and take matters into his own hands. Well, Robinson actually did that. No, he didn’t fight crime, but he was a hero to many, as he brought smiles to the faces of the kids he visited. He would dress up in a 35-pound costume, which took 45 minutes to put on, just to brighten up the lives of area sick kids. He would give anti-bullying speeches at local schools. He would give out Batman merchandise to kids, autographed by “Batman”.

Maryland isn’t Gotham City, but we’ve had quite the cast of characters running around. We’ve got a guy covered in question marks, screaming about how you can get free money from the government. We had a sniper, who was just shooting up random gas stations. And we had a man dressed like a bat, trying to brighten the world in which he lived. I never met Leonard, but I really wish that I had been given the chance. I always wondered why Batman wasn’t real, and it turns out he was here the whole time. This week’s West Week Ever is dedicated to the life of Leonard B. Robinson.

14th Aug2015

West Week Ever – 8/14/2015

by Will

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Last week, I said that the Deadpool trailer had the West Week Ever, even though I don’t really agree with how the movie’s being marketed. My friend Glenn, however, believes that everything is as it should be. In my attempt to be fair and balanced, I thought I’d share his thoughts on things. We had a lengthy Facebook conversation about the matter, and he pointed out that Deadpool is the “Merc with a Mouth” and is only censored in the comics because he has to be. This movie, however, will give him a chance to cut loose. He said that while there are always going to be things that are cross-marketed to kids and adults, this isn’t the kind of movie that he’d take his 5 year old daughter to see. Anyway, he made some good points, and then we trailed off into talking about how awesome Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is. Since we’ve had a week to think about it all, thoughts anyone?

It was announced this week that The Lion King would be getting another sequel. At first, I didn’t understand why this was big news. I mean, the thing had 2 straight-to-video sequels in The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride and The Lion King 1 1/2 (which was more of an inbetwequel). So, even though James Earl Jones is coming back as Mufassa, why is this big news? Well, it appears that the TV movie sequel, The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar is actually a pilot for a new television series called The Lion Guard. It’s being described by Disney as “The Lion King meets The Avengers”, and that sound you hear is all of the world’s cash registers ringing at once. The series follows Kion, the youngest son of Simba and Nala, as he assembles a team of animals to help protect the Pride Lands.  Anyway, a sneak peak of the show is expected at this weekend’s Disney D23 Expo.

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The rumor coming out of Warner Bros is that a private viewing of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was held for the high up muckety-mucks, and they loved Affleck’s portrayal so much that he’s being offered his own standalone Batman trilogy. I think a standalone Batfleck film was announced at SDCC (it’s getting harder to tell the rumors from the confirmed news these days), but this is the first mention of an entire trilogy. Seems kinda odd, since this movie adapts parts of The Dark Knight Returns – a story that shows Batman at the end of his career. Still, I’d much rather have more Batman than Aquaman, Cyborg, and all the other DCU movies that have been announced.

In other DC news, it’s been announced that Matt Ryan will guest star on Arrow next season as John Constantine. This is pretty important because he starred as the character on the recently cancelled Constantine, and Stephen Amell had been lobbying to get him on the show. Now, I’ve never seen an episode of Constantine, so I’ll need some of y’all to chime in: does he fit into the world that Greg Berlanti has created in Arrow/The Flash/Legends of Tomorrow? I mean, tonally and thematically, is that going to work? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Speaking of Berlanti, he mentioned during the Television Critics Association press tour this week that Supergirl wouldn’t be crossing over with any of his other shows for the time being. That sucks, seeing as how CBS owns half of The CW, so it’s not like it would be that hard logistically. I think, however, they want to focus on establishing her as her own hero. Plus, introducing her into that world is a whole different can of worms, because that, then, admits that Superman exists in that universe, and I don’t think I’m prepared for that. Especially if they do something like they’re doing with Constantine, and bring Tom Welling back to play Superman. Meanwhile, it was also announced that True Blood‘s Brit Morgan would be playing the villain Livewire.

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In a surprising move, it was announced that the next 5 seasons of Sesame Street will now debut on HBO. The deal will allow them to create 35 episodes a year instead of the current output of 18 episodes a year. After the initial 9 month window, the episodes will then be available to air on PBS. Meanwhile, PBS will be airing recut versions of classic episodes. First of all, I’m kinda surprised they only produce 18 episodes a year. The show comes on every day, and while it has quite the video library under its belt, I really thought they were producing something like 60 a year. That’s the approximate number of other kids shows that air in strip, 5-day-a-week format. Something feels wrong to me, though, that the rich kids with HBO are getting these episodes first. As some folks on Twitter pointed out, it’s like we’re gentrifying education. Sesame Street used to be an important way that lower income students were able to learn, and now we’re giving them scraps after the kids whose parents can afford HBO have had their way with them. It just seems wrong somehow. Anyway, the deal also calls for a spinoff show starring the Sesame Street Muppets.

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Back in the day, BET had its own version of Skinemax known as BET Uncut. Young Black kids used to tune in hoping to get a glimpse of boob while videos played the hip hop hits of the day. The show ended in 2006, but its legacy was never forgotten. So, imagine everyone’s surprise when BET suddenly announced that the show would be returning on August 11th. When viewers tuned in, however, they were met with a surprise: the whole thing was a ruse to promote the debut of BET’s version of Punk’d. If you remember, Punk’d was conceived by Ashton Kutcher and ran on MTV for a few years back in the mid ’00s. Well, this new version will be hosted by YouTube stars Andrew Bachelor and DeStorm Powers, and it debuts next Tuesday. Never watched the original, and I probably won’t be watching this one, either.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

Modern Family‘s Ariel Winter revealed that she’d had a breast reduction as she was tired of the unwanted attention her body was receiving

-Target created a shitstorm when it announced that the toy section would no longer have gender-based signage. These means that Barbie is no longer a “girl’s toy”, while action figures are no longer “boys’ toys”. Folks came out of the woodwork, acting like the sky was falling. It’s not like they’ll change the planogram, however, so you probably won’t see Barbie sitting next to Iron Man on shelves.

-A new Jem trailer was released this week, which made it look like the same bad movie, only now with an Earth to Echo spin, as they’ve added a tiny robot.

-The CW is reportedly developing series based on The Notebook and Friday The 13th

-Adult Swim renewed Rick and Morty for a 3rd season

-Bravo renewed Jill Kargman’s Odd Mom Out for a 2nd season.

Kindergarten Cop 2 is currently filming, starring Dolph Lundgren. It’s slated to be a direct-to-video release.

The Exes was cancelled on TV Land

-Shelly Fabares will not be returning for NBC’s Coach revival, as her character, Christine Armstrong, has been killed off.

-Google’s parent company changed its name to Alphabet.

FF

I LOVE weeks when the thing that had the West Week Ever is controversial. Folks might disagree, but then I just remember, “Hey, Will – it’s your site!” and then I feel OK about it. So, in the immortal words of the bard Samuel L. Jackson, “Hold onto your butts!”

Last week, a friend and I made the impromptu decision to catch a late showing of Fant4stic Four. The reviews had been terrible, the rumors even worse, but I felt that I needed to see the movie for myself. I actually like the other 2 Fantastic Four films (I’ve never seen the Corman version), as I have a mancrush on Ioan Gruffudd who played Reed Richards. So, in my mind, the bar wasn’t set all that high, and I felt like I knew what I was walking into. AND BOY WAS IT HORRIBLE – is what you want me to say. But I can’t do that. As I said on social media, to listen to the online fanboys, Fant4stic Four ascended to the heavens, slapped Jesus, and pissed on your dead grandma. If you read anything about this movie on Twitter, it’s the worst thing since Hitler and New Coke. Fant4stic Four is not a great movie, but it’s also not horrible.

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The most positive thing I’ve read about the movie is that it had a strong first 2/3rds, and then loses its way during the 3rd act, and I would completely agree with that. The early scenes with young Reed are great, and it’s touching to see the dawn of his friendship with Ben Grimm. Once Reed is recruited by the Baxter Foundation, they almost become star-crossed lovers, as Reed is too impressed by his new surroundings to realize what Ben realizes instantly: their bond can’t last. You’d think they would just naturally grow apart, but that doesn’t happen. Instead, Reed invites Ben on the journey that will end the research that they started together. No, it’s not being from 2 different worlds that will tear them apart. It’s that Reed accidentally turns Ben into a rock monster. This is the first time in my dealings with the Fantastic Four that I actually felt like Thing was a sympathetic character, and a lot of that was due to us seeing him before his transformation. I appreciated that. A lot of people have made a big deal about the origins of “It’s Clobberin’ Time!” (though it’s Thing’s signature catch phrase, in the movie it’s uttered by Ben’s abusive older brother before he assaults him), but that didn’t bother me so much. I kinda felt like it added another dimension to his character.

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I also felt the family dynamic between the Storms. No matter what you think of this movie, you can’t deny that Reg S. Cathy as Dr. Franklin Richards was one of the strongest aspects of the film. You really felt that he just wanted his son to do something productive with himself. You could also feel the tension between Johnny and Sue, where it was clear that Johnny felt that Sue was dad’s favorite, which caused him to act out. People always say that the Fantastic Four concept revolves around family, and that was pretty evident in the first 2/3rds of the movie. Their families didn’t understand them, so Reed and Ben had become their own support system. As strained as it might’ve been, the Storms were also trying to hold on to the family that they had. Meanwhile, Victor Von Doom (formerly known as mad blogger Victor Domashev before the Internet had a field day with that news) is probably the character in the film with the most personality. Just as Sinestro was the true hero in Green Lantern, there’s very little here that makes Doom a villain, per se. In the context of family, he’s on the outside looking in, as he doesn’t have what Reed and Ben have, or what the Storms have, but he knows it’s lacking and he resents it.

It felt like they were laying the groundwork for some grand thing that would bring them all together. In the comic, that was the cosmic event that gave them their powers. Well, that’s not what happened here. Instead, the arrival of their powers drives them further apart. And this is where the problems begin.

Once Reed, with his newly-acquired powers, escapes from the secret facility, there’s a title card that says “One Year Later”. Time jumps are rarely good things, as they’re usually an excuse to keep from explaining something. Well, it can be said that everything after that title card is when things go downhill. At this point, it clearly plays like a movie “made by committee” as certain things don’t make sense anymore. And it’s also where you’d expect to see all those action scenes from the trailer. Welp, you’d be disappointed. Better sites than mine have made comprehensive lists, but you can immediately see that a LOT of editing went down on this film. Remember the shot of Thing falling out of the plane onto a tank? It’s in every trailer and TV spot? Well, it ain’t in this movie.

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Let’s talk about Thing for a minute. The government has convinced him to be an operative for them, with the weak promise that they’ll help turn him back to his human form. So, he gets dropped into these countries as this killing machine. In one scene, you see that he has 43 confirmed kills. KILLS! He’s not Wolverine! Now, I know he’s upset by the transformation and all. Anyone would be. I also know that he comes from an abusive past. But I don’t think all of that would make him a killer. And he’s not overly patriotic, so it’s not like he’s doing his duty for Uncle Sam. No, he selfishly decides to kill in order to get things back to the way they were. That doesn’t sit right with me.

Sue is wasted, as she just becomes the Token Girl. If people weren’t spending so much time talking about how terrible the movie is, I’m sure The Mary Sue or someone would’ve written an article about how marginalized she is in the film. Hell, she doesn’t even get to go on the trip that gives them their powers! She got hit by some kind of aftershock, and ended up being able to turn invisible. All the powers, with none of the risk. Were they afraid to send a woman into that dangerous environment? If that’s the case, they certainly don’t discuss it. In fact, Reed goes through the trouble of calling Ben in the middle of the night, to get him to come down to the Baxter building and travel to the other dimension, but at no point does he, or anyone else, say, “Hey, shouldn’t we let Sue in on this?” And it’s not like she had built up this reputation as a hard-to-work-with bitch or anything, so it’s kinda bad that she’s just an afterthought to them. However, they never would’ve made it back alive had it not been for her. I don’t feel like she’s ever appreciated enough in this film.

Johnny’s kinda brash, but not the joking ladies man he appears to be in the comics. Somewhat like Sue, he doesn’t really get to develop much. He seems to hate being in the shadow of his sister and father, so he acts out. Once they get their powers, he’s all about doing the government dirty work because he feels like he might finally have a purpose. He doesn’t care about right or wrong – he’s just a gun waiting for someone to aim him at the bad guys.

And Reed. Where to begin with Reed? I like Miles Teller now. I used to want to punch him in the face, because he just had one of those faces. Then I saw Two Night Stand and Whiplash, and now all is forgiven. As much as I like him now, I don’t think he was right for this role. I can see why he was cast: rising star, he’s quickly becoming a “name”, etc. But he wasn’t Reed Richards. He’s capable enough in the role, but you don’t leave the theater saying “THAT was Reed Richards” the way you did when you first saw RDJ as Tony Stark. My biggest problem with Reed is that he’s not very smart – the thing that he’s primarily known for. Sure, he’s smart enough to want to try to build a matter transporter in middle school, but it seems like he peaked at that age. I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that Reed’s able to stretch his brain, effectively making him smarter. He doesn’t display the capacity for that in this film. And no, I didn’t expect to see his head stretch or anything to signify that it was happening, but he just doesn’t do anything that would make you say “He’s smart!” I mean, something as simple as rattling off a calculation. He doesn’t really do it. And in the final battle against Doom, he doesn’t outsmart him. No, it’s instead a physical, hand-to-hand battle. Reed Richard is not a fighter, and he would’ve found an intelligent solution other than a simple Hail Mary play.

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Let’s circle back around to Doom. In the first 2/3rds of the movie, he’s just antisocial. Sure, they end up having to leave him in the Negative Zone, but he didn’t HATE them. He just kinda resented them. So, when he pops back up a year later, with his environmental suit fused to his body, you’d think he’d want revenge on them for leaving him over there. I mean, surely he’d find them responsible for ruining his life, right? NO! Instead, he LOVED it over there, as he experienced true power. And all he wants to do is go back. That’s it. He wants to go back to his world and his power, and the Four are all, “No, you can’t go back”, like they actually give a shit about him. If they’d have just let the man have his wish, nothing bad would’ve happened. In what was clearly the result of reshoots, Doom walks through the corridor, making everyone’s head explode – even people who aren’t in his way. It’s like there’s a clearance sale going on for head explosions, and he just can’t get enough. So, in their refusal to let him go back, the Four actually set into motion the thing that makes him a “villain”: the portal back to the Negative Zone created a sort of backdraft that was pulling Earth into a black hole. The reason I say the head explosion scenes were reshoots is because someone at the studio must’ve known that something else was needed in order to make Doom appear evil. Otherwise, without that scene, the Four actually look worse than Doom does.

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And that final battle. It just didn’t add up. Doom supposedly had all this power, but we never saw much of it except in his creation of the portal. The Four defeat him in combat when they never should’ve been able to get close to him. As I said before, Reed should’ve defeated him by out-thinking him and not punching him. And he goes down too easily, but not in the ambiguous “We’re trying to keep him around for a sequel” kind of way. I mean, they could bring him back, but the movie doesn’t really end setting up a sequel. All that happens is the team is officially formed. Yet, the viewer still has no real reason to care about the characters, as none of the relatable stuff from the first 2 acts is even relevant anymore. It’s like these are 4 different characters; it’s not like they’re showing growth, either – they’re just 4 people who look like and have the same names as their counterparts from the first 2/3rds of the movie. And they’re not especially likable, nor are you particularly rooting for them. I mean, the movie’s named after them, so they must be the heroes, but that’s really as far as it goes.

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And one little problem lingering from adapting the comic: the lack of Thing’s pants. This might seem petty, but it’s actually pretty important. I mean, up until this point, we all just assumed he still had a penis, only it was probably rocky now, too. It’s the kind thing 12 year olds sit around and talk about. Instead, he now no longer even has a penis. My God, no wonder he hates Reed so much!

Anyway, at the end of the day, it’s a movie with problems, but it’s hardly the abomination that some are making it out to be. The odd thing, however, is Fox’s involvement in the whole thing. As I wrote about last week, the director, Josh Trank, posted a tweet that alluded to the fact that there was studio interference in his original vision. That tweet was quickly deleted. Over the weekend, the rumors started to fly. It was rumored that Fox was considering giving Fant4stic Four 2‘s 2017 release date to Deadpool 2, assuming that Deadpool will do better than FF did. On Monday, however, Fox announced that they are “still committed to the characters”, but nobody knows if that means they’ll push ahead with the same cast or reboot AGAIN. Good or bad, Fant4stic Four was on everybody’s lips the past week, even if folks didn’t see it. In fact, it only pulled in around $25 million, making it a worse box office than even Daredevil. Still, I think once the dust settles, and folks start seeing the stuff I was talking about in the first 2 acts, we may look back on it more fondly. And if Trank’s ever allowed to release a Director’s Cut, then it may be redeemed just as much as the Director’s Cut has seemingly redeemed Daredevil. In my mind, nothing had a week like Fant4stic Four, and that’s why I’m saying it had the West Week Ever.

07th Aug2015

West Week Ever – 8/7/15

by Will

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This week, Joel McHale confirmed what most of us already knew – that Community is over. He explained that Yahoo wanted another season for their Yahoo Screen portal, but they simply couldn’t afford the cast since their asking quotes  have gone up since the show began. Because of that stupid #sixseasonsandamovie thing, they’re still saying they’d like to do a movie. Honestly, I don’t even know what that would entail. How do you translate a sitcom into a theatrical feature? Has that been done before? I mean, it works the other way around. Movies get TV adaptations all the time, but not vice versa. I can’t think of a Community storyline that would even be worth a theatrical release. Keep in mind, I have the same reservations about an Arrested Development movie. Just let these things die, so they can be fondly remembered. Show creator Dan Harmon has said that he’d be interested in writing the script once he’s gotten to a place where he misses the characters. So, we’re at the whim of his sense of nostalgia.

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In other TV news, there were a lot of casting reveals for the DC shows on The CW. First up, Casper Crump has been cast as season one big bad Vandal Savage for Legends of Tomorrow. Also, Falk Henstchel has been cast as Hawkman in the series. Meanwhile, The Flash has cast Wally West, who will be played by Keiynan Lonsdale. I haven’t heard of any of these weird-named dudes. Lonsdale’s Australian, so he’s probably done a stint on Neighbours or something – that’s like a rite of passage down there. Anyway, a lot of people not familiar with DC’s New 52 reboot didn’t realize that the new Wally West is Black, so of course the usual complaints spread across social media: “Why make him Black when he’s always been White?” As my pal Tim would call it, #rabblerabble.

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Even I’ll say that New 52 Wally seems like diversity solely for the sake of diversity. Then again, I guess his race never really had an impact on who he was, so he could be anything. The problem, however, is that Wally had quite the legacy. He’s one of the few heroes who replaced his mentor and it STUCK. Most of my generation grew up with a Wally West Flash and NOT a Barry Allen Flash. Barry was boring and DEAD by the time we started reading comics. So, to just randomly introduce him in the New 52 universe like, “Hey, here’s Wally – only he’s not the dude you remember, and he’s Black now” kinda seems disingenuous. My problem with introducing him on the show, however, is that it just seems too soon. They couldn’t wait for season 3? I mean, we’ve just gotten used to Barry, and we like him, so why dilute that with Kid Flash or whatever Wally’s going to become on the show? My biggest issue with the Greg Berlanti DC shows is that I fear he spreads himself too thin. Arrow was great until The Flash came along, and then it started to suffer creatively. This season, he’s adding Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow to the docket. One can only imagine what that’s going to do to The Flash, and I shudder to wonder how much lower Arrow can go.

photovisi-download(1)You know who almost had the West Week Ever? Hollywood divorce lawyers! This week alone saw the announcement of splits between Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani, Reba McEntire and Narvel Blackstock, and Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. Plus, the week kicked off with the annual, yet erroneous, announcement that Will and Jada were calling it quits. In the words of Carrie Underwood, “There must be something in the water.” The Gavin/Gwen split wasn’t a total surprise, as I recall hearing that things had been rocky ever since the paternity test revealed that he was the father of model Daisy Lowe. The Reba divorce is pretty sad, as they had been married for 26 years! That’s my biggest fear: to get old and divorced. Young divorce is fine, but divorce after you’re all used up? No siree, Bob! And I’m pretty sure that the Kermit and Piggy thing is just publicity for that The Office-inspired Muppets show coming to ABC this Fall. They break up all the time, so who really cares? I mean, they were broken up in Jason Segel’s The Muppets back in 2011. Did everyone just forget that? Anyway, I can’t even think of a celebrity couple I’m rooting for at this point. You’re just courting disappointment with that game.

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This week saw the Television Critics Association’s Summer press tour, where TV critics were introduced to the stars of the upcoming new network shows. Yesterday was Fox’s day, where three things happened. First off, it appears that critics were shown a clip from the X-Files reboot, and the consensus was not good. I’ve heard that it almost played like parody, and it wasn’t clear if that was the intention of the scene. Second, they announced that Prison Break was returning for a 10-episode event, similar to last year’s 24: Live Another Day miniseries. Apparently, the original stars are on board (interesting, since they’re both attached to Legends of Tomorrow, so I guess they’ll film this while they’re on break?), and some of the deaths from the original series seem like they’re being retconned in order to make this work. I watched the first episode of Prison Break, but I just couldn’t get on board for that series. I didn’t feel like it would last long enough for a resolution. I was wrong, but I still don’t feel like I missed out on anything. Finally, Fox also updated the status of bringing back 24. They said that Kiefer Sutherland isn’t interested in returning right now, so a new 24 would probably feature new characters. It’s just not 24 without Jack Bauer! If I wanted to watch an entirely new ensemble, I’d just tune into ABC’s Quantico (Sundays this Fall!).

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Oh yeah, Fox also did something else: they confirmed plans for an television spinoff of the X-Men films. They said that they’re close to a deal, but they’re waiting to see if Marvel will approve it. Since Fox only owns the X-Men rights, don’t look for any crossovers with Daredevil or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The big question, though is what does Marvel get out of the deal? Right now, Fox has already lined up writers and showrunners, so this will happen sooner rather than later. I’m OK with this idea if they’re really allowed to run with it. Maybe focus on some mutants who don’t get any movie screentime. I mean, I’m pretty sick of the Xavier/Magneto dynamic. WE GET IT ALREADY! There are other characters. Hell, some of the X-Men’s best adventures occurred when Xavier wasn’t even around. I don’t see why they have to be in all the movies. I’m scared however, this will be some watered down thing, so as not to step on the toes of the film division. Remember what happened the last time we got a watered down X-Men television show? It was called Mutant X

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The box art was revealed for this Winter’s LEGO Avengers. I have SO many comic-based LEGO games to get through, but I’m a sucker, so I’ll probably get this one, too. It helps that they’re releasing it on “older” systems like Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, as not all of us have graduated to the next generation. I really wish Rocksteady had done this with Batman: Arkham Knight. I mean, it kinda sucks that there’s a trilogy of games that can’t all be played on the same friggin’ system!

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*Sigh* So, I guess I’ve gotta talk about Fantastic Four, huh? The movie officially comes out today, but the review embargo was lifted on Wednesday and it wasn’t pretty. I’ve heard everything from that fact that it had a strong 2/3 but tanked the 3rd act to the whole thing was just a disaster. You know comic folk can be a passionate bunch, so I’m not really sure who to believe. I’ll see it, but I’m easy to please when it comes to comic book movies. To date, out of all the ones I’ve seen (no, I still haven’t seen Catwoman), I only hated Elektra and The Dark Knight Rises. I was actually fine with the two Fantastic Four films that we already got. It probably helps that I’ve never really liked the comic version of the team, so I didn’t have high expectations. Anyway, they say that this version borrows heavily from the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic, which should be a good thing, since I love the Ultimate Marvel Universe. Sadly, I found that book to be so boring that I still have about 20 issues I haven’t read, and the book’s been cancelled since 2009. Then, things took a real bad turn last night when the movie’s director, Josh Trank, tweeted this:

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So, Trank’s basically blaming the studio. Not a great move from the guy who was pushed out of his Star Wars directing gig due to his erratic behavior. So far, the only hit he has under his belt is Chronicle, and I’m not sure how long he’s going to be able to coast on that. Is there any coming back from this? Is the movie so bad that it’ll sink his career?

No links this week, as I’m behind on my blogs, so let’s get to the meat and potatoes: Who had the West Week Ever?

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On Tuesday night, Conan O’Brien probably saw his biggest ratings since his move to cable. No, it wasn’t because of a guest, but rather the fact that the Deadpool trailer was slated to premiere during the episode. In fact, the episode’s rating was TV-MA because they would be showing the red band, not safe for work version of the trailer. Welp, once the trailer debuted, it seemed there was a huge divide between those who loved it and those who just weren’t feeling it. I fell into the latter camp.

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First, let me explain that I consider myself a Deadpool fan. I haven’t been there since his debut in X-Force, but I’ve been reading his book for the past 8 years or so. I’ve also gone back and read the older stuff, so I think I have a pretty good handle on the character. He’s not a top-tier character, so you might not be familiar with him. Deadpool is Wade Wilson, a mercenary who underwent an experimental procedure to cure his terminal cancer. As a result, he emerged with a healing factor, and it might’ve done something to his brain – making him think he’s a character in a comic book, and resulting in his breaking the 4th wall to interact with the reader. He’s like a cartoon character, and though violent, it tends to be a cartoony violence. Think Roadrunner cartoons. If you saw him, you’d probably ask “Why does Spider-Man have all those swords and machine guns?” That’s basically his look. He’s not someone to be taken seriously, especially in recent years where he’s been trying to be accepted by the hero community.

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So, imagine my surprise when they created a movie not about cartoony wacky Deadpool, but sadistically violent Deadpool. This is a far departure from the way he’s been presented in recent years. The violence and language are so amped up that it’s going to be rated R. So, all that said, I really don’t know who this movie is for. My main issue is the R-rating. While his video game was rated Mature, I think they’re cutting out a big swath of the potential audience by making it 17 and up. Parents like to take their kids to comic book movies. Not this one. Add in the fact that he’s not a hero. He’s a mercenary. He kills for money. He’s not saving the world, or fighting aliens. He kills mobsters for other mobsters. I don’t know if you’ve read the recent Deadpool book by Gerry Duggan, but Deadpool really doesn’t kill all that much anymore. He’s kinda gained a conscience, and even has a daughter. If you’re a fan of that Deadpool – ya know, the one currently making money for Marvel – this movie ain’t for you. My pal Carlin brought up the fact that Deadpool’s recently been featured in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, which his son loved. Unfortunately, this is not a movie that he’ll be able to share with his son.

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I’m not saying that a PG-13 rating would make the movie a success, but an R will certainly keep it from being one. There are only 2 R-rated comic book movies that have been successful: Blade and Kick-Ass. Blade’s success has more to do with folks’ love of vampires (and then-love of Wesley Snipes) than the character of Blade. And Kick-Ass was just a fluke, as seen by the failure of its sequel. Even Spawn, a movie about a soldier for THE DEVIL, managed to get a PG-13 rating when it probably should’ve been an R to be “faithful” to the source material. Marvel really needs to rethink how they want to allow Deadpool to be used. He can’t be their Mickey Mouse AND their Terminator. I think this movie is a thematic misfire, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, everyone was talking about the trailer Wednesday morning, and it sparked some of the best online discussions I’ve had. So, for all of that, the Deadpool trailer had the West Week Ever.

17th Jul2015

West Week Ever – 7/17/15

by Will

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It’s been so long since I’ve done one of these that I’m gonna have to kick the dust off everything. Basically, brace yourself for a whole lot of “This Is What Will’s Been Watching”.

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A few years ago, I read Shopgirl, by Steve Martin (Yep, that Steve Martin). I remember it because we had lost power due to an intense heat wave, and I really had nothing else to do. Plus, as a novella, it was short. I remembered enjoying it, but feeling that it was a bit of a sad story. So, last week, when I saw that the movie was on (also starring Steve Martin), I thought, “Well, I remember liking this. Let’s watch!” I have to say that I don’t remember reading most of what was in that movie. I’m not sure if there was that much of a departure, or if my memory is just that bad. I watched that thing like I had never even encountered the story before, as everything felt new to me.

If you’ve never heard of Shopgirl before, it’s about a girl who works in a department store (Claire Danes), who begins an affair with one of her customers (Martin). He’s not looking for love, but she is. Meanwhile, Jason Schwartzman is there, being Jason Schwartzman – trying to get Danes to notice him. It’s a typical love triangle, and ends like you’d expect. Would I recommend it? Um, sure? I dunno. I seem to say this a lot, but there are worse ways to kill 90 minutes. If you’ve ever wanted to see Claire Danes’s ass, this is the film for you. Other than that, I’m not sure I like Steve Martin in a dramatic role. I know everyone’s doing it, from Robin Williams (RIP) to Bill Murray, and he’s certainly capable at it. I just prefer the Steve Martin who “was born a poor Black child.”

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The next movie I watched was the unnecessary sequel, Horrible Bosses 2. I enjoyed the first movie, as it has a likable cast. Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day? Hilarious! Throw in Jamie Foxx as “Motherfucker” Jones, the ex-con who’s gonna help the guys do in their overbearing bosses? Priceless! I can understand the desire to get the band back together, but there was no real reason for a sequel. The plot is really flimsy, and the antagonist isn’t even technically their “boss”, so the title is a misnomer. This time around, the guys have invented a product to revolutionize the way people take showers, when their investor decides to screw them over by forcing them into foreclosure and taking the product for himself. So, to get back at him, they decide to kidnap his son and ransom him to get back the money they need to pay off their loan. Only the son WANTS to be kidnapped, to stick it to his dad. And then I just stopped paying attention. It got way too convoluted for a comedy. This ain’t Oceans 11! Do not watch!

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On the TV front, there are a couple of new shows I’ve been checking out. First up is HUMANS, on AMC. In the near future, people can buy “Synths” – synthetic humans designed to make their owners’ lives easier. The duties performed by the Synths range from cooking and cleaning to more…sensual matters. The show really sort of focuses on how people react to having the Synths in their lives. Meanwhile, there seems to be a group of Synths who have gained autonomy, and they’re being hunted down because of what they might mean for the future of Synths and humanity. It’s a really interesting show, and if you’ve watched any British shows in recent years (it’s a joint venture between England’s Channel 4 and AMC), you’ll recognize some of the actors – like Katherine Parkinson, from The IT Crowd. It’s an 8-episode season, and AMC has only shown the first 3 episodes so far, so it’s not too late to jump in.

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Meanwhile on USA, I’m watching Mr. Robot. It’s a show about a hacker who gets recruited by a hacker collective known as f society, who plan to take down an evil corporation. To be perfectly honest, the whole take down plot is completely lost on me, but I enjoy the show because I like the characters. I haven’t watched a show with such a morally-ambiguous cast since Nip/Tuck. Now, I didn’t end up finishing that show, as boredom eventually kicked in (some cable network should really be showing reruns of that show. Get on that, somebody!). I hope the same thing doesn’t happen here, as I could feel boredom creeping in during this week’s episode. I’ll still watch for now, though, as the lead looks like SNL‘s Pete Davidson, so it’s fun to imagine that the show is just a really long, elaborate sketch.

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Over on Bravo, I fell in love with the scripted comedy Odd Mom Out. Starring Jill Kargman (and based on her 2007 novel Momzillas), the show focuses on a fictionalized version of Kargman as she has to navigate the excess and affluence of New York’s Upper East Side. When I first watched the show, I thought that everyone sucked at life. Then, I realized you had to get into the mindset of the show. The primary Bravo audience is tuning in for Real Housewives shows, so how would they receive the show? Now that I’ve seen the 6 episodes that have aired so far this season, I love the show. Kargman has this cool vibe to her where I’d really love to be best friends with her. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that she always favorites my tweets when I write about the show. Abby Elliott costars as Jill’s sister-in-law, while The Office‘s David Wallace (Andy Buckley) plays Jill’s husband. It’s not for everyone – especially not the geek crowd that tends to read this post every week – but I think a few of you out there may really enjoy it.

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Finally, over on Fox, I discovered Wayward Pines. I originally meant to watch this show back when I wrote my Fox Upfronts post last year. Then, it debuted and I just kinda forgot about it. Well, I started watching it Monday night and ended up watching the first 5 episodes in one night. I thought it would just be a Twin Peaks ripoff, but it’s so much more, and it’s SOO GOOOD! Matt Dillon wakes up after a car accident and finds himself in a small Idaho town, called Wayward Pines. The townsfolk seem to be filled with fear, hidden behind forced smiles, and everyone’s under surveillance. Dillon tries to leave the town, but finds that he can’t because it’s walled off from the rest of the world. And that’s when shit REALLY gets weird. In Episode 5, you learn the truth about the town, and it will BLOW. YOUR. MIND. The show is executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan, so you really shouldn’t be surprised that there’s a twist. Still, Shymalan’s career has taken a beating in recent years, which is probably why they’re trying to downplay his involvement here. It’s a shame, because this could be seen as his comeback vehicle. The series finale is next Thursday, and I’m filled with questions. Also, I’m kinda surprised that Fox is sticking to this being a one-time limited series, since it seems to be a summer hit. I just can’t imagine they wouldn’t try to somehow develop a second season out of it. Anyway, you’ve got a week to catch up On Demand, so you can watch the finale along with me.

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Yesterday on social media, everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) made the same Ivan Ooze joke about the depiction of Apocalypse in the next X-Men movie (I didn’t even know that many people had seen Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie!). It does, however, lead back to an apprehension I’ve had since the X-Men movie franchise began. While it’s nowhere near as grounded as something like the Netflix Daredevil series, the X-Men movies have been grounded enough in their own version of reality that it was going to be hard to shift into some of the more “exotic” villains like Apocalypse and Mr. Sinister. Based on the world that Bryan Singer created, there would never be an option to go against something like Mojo or The Brood. Luckily for them, they’ve wasted all their movies telling yet another iteration of the Xavier vs. Magneto sparring match. I just think there’s a wealth of characters that could be mined for an X-Men film, but they painted themselves into a corner. Now, they finally decide to go for one of the more outlandish X-Men villains, and this is how it’s received. Apocalypse just doesn’t fit in the world that they’ve crafted. Let’s hope he looks better when they slather him with effects.

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Speaking of comic book movies, the trailers for 3 anticipated films debuted last weekend at San Diego Comic-Con. These included the latest one for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as Suicide Squad, and Deadpool. Of course, bootleg versions of the latter two leaked online, as these things are wont to do, and Warner Bros were none too happy about it. They decided to officially release the Suicide Squad trailer, but only because their hand had been forced by “piracy”. And they made sure to address this while releasing the clip. Fans contrasted this with Marvel’s reaction to leaked Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, where the company simply tweeted a jocular “Dammit, HYDRA!” Basically, the tone of the Warner Bros message was basically “We had no intention of showing this to you, but thanks to a few bad apples, we decided to show you the trailer as it was originally intended, and not in the low quality version that’s making the rounds.” They seemed to think they were getting in front of the issue, but seemed like such a bunch of crotchety old fogies while doing so.

Anyway, my thoughts on the trailers:

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – I’m no more excited about this movie than I was before. That’s to say, I’m really not excited about it. At all. I don’t really like the Snyderverse, as I didn’t hate Man of Steel, but I didn’t love it, either. I’m also not sure about Affleck’s Batman. I saw Man of Steel On Demand, and that just might be the case here. The only reason I’d see it in theaters is because Batman’s in it, but I’m not sure this is my Batman.

Suicide Squad – Again, not very excited. I’ve seen people losing their shit, talking about how awesome it looks. I’m happy for them, but I don’t share that sentiment. I can’t get out of my head how someone said that the promotional image of the team made them look like those Homies figures you get out of vending machines. That was SPOT ON! I’m not a big Will Smith fan, I don’t really like this version of Harley, and I don’t even know what to think of Leto’s Joker. Again, the only thing that might get me to see this in theaters is the fact that Batman’s in it.

Deadpool – looks fun, but Ryan Reynolds is box office poison right now. He’s got a string of flops behind him, from Green Lantern to R.I.P.D. to Self/Less. I’ve been a fan since Two Guys, A Girl, and A Pizza Place, but times are not great for him lately. Reynolds aside, I think the biggest problem is the R-rating. I’ve said it before, but I don’t see anything about Deadpool that deserves an R-rated movie. His comic isn’t a MAX title, so it’s not Mature Readers. That means there’s no sex and no cursing. While it could be pretty violent, it’s a cartoon violence, and nothing on par with, say, Punisher. I think they’re really cutting out a big chunk of their potential audience by making it rated R, as parents like to take their kids to superhero movies. The only 2 R-rated comic movies that have been successful are Blade and Kick-Ass. I still say that Blade did well because it drew in the vampire fans moreso than the comic people (Comic fans don’t really love Blade, as he’s never had a series to last more than 13 issues). I got nothing for Kick-Ass. Also, people will debate me on this, but I don’t think Deadpool’s a household name. Sure, comic fans know who he is, but if you showed him to the man on the street, he’d ask “How come Spider-Man has swords now?” I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how this all turns out. Don’t get me wrong – I WANT it to be a hit, but I’m just skeptical right now.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

– 50 Cent filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Where’d all that Vitamin Water money go?

– Brandy sang on the New York subway, and was shocked when nobody gave a shit

– I watched the ending to Batman: Arkham Knight on YouTube (way to not release it on the 360, Rocksteady!) THAT’s how you tell a Final Batman Story!

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My pals, Zac and Adam, co-host the No Topic Required podcast, and this week’s episode was very special, as it was the FINAL episode. Luckily, I was invited to take part, and it was a pretty fun time. I’m always sad to see one of my favorite podcasts go (looking at you, Cold Slither Podcast), but I’m sure that Zac will be back with something new once he recharges his batteries. In any case, you should go give the episode a listen!

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You know what didn’t have the West Week Ever? San Diego Comic-Con. Usually an informational mecca for the pop culture set, nothing really came out of there this year, outside the trailers I already mentioned. Marvel and Image had already revealed their big plans, so it was really DC’s con to lose. And lose they did. They announced the Milestone characters would be returning as Earth-M in the Multiverse (meh), Adam Kubert and Klaus Janson would be the artists for Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight III: The Master Race (meh), and Ben Affleck and Geoff Johns would be teaming up for a standalone Batman film (I’m listening…).

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Since I skipped 2 weeks, and left you all without a true WWE in that post, I didn’t want to come back and say that nobody had the West Week Ever. So, you know what had it? Go Set A Watchman, by Harper Lee.

Have I read it? Nope. Have I heard good things about it? Nope. In fact, it’s probably just a cash grab, resulting from Lee’s manipulating caregivers. Still, its release this week is pretty important to the literary world, as it’s the sequel that no one thought they’d ever see. It’s the Ghostbusters 3, Who Discovered Roger Rabbit?, and Goonies II of literature. And that’s gotta count for something, right? I mean, Lee retreated from the fame generated from the release of To Kill A Mockingbird, and vowed to never release another book. Yet, here it is. It almost doesn’t even matter if it’s good or not. The most important thing is that it exists. And as of this past Tuesday, you can own it and read it for yourself. I definitely plan to read it, so I’ll share my thoughts once I do, but for now, Go Set A Watchman had the West Week Ever.

26th Jun2015

West Week Ever – 6/26/15

by Will

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I watched absolutely nothing this week, so I’ve got nothing for this part of the post. Oh wait – I did watch The Briefcase on CBS. Have any of you seen it? It was pretty controversial when it first aired, and the season finale is already airing tonight. Basically, they present a briefcase filled with $100,000 to two different poor families. The families, then, have to decide whether to keep the money for themselves, or to share some of it with the other family. So, they’re demanding poor people make a Sophie’s Choice over this windfall that could be seen as a gift from Heaven. I mean, they all could use the money, but they don’t wanna look like assholes by keeping it all to themselves. Later in the show, once the families meet, they realize that there were TWO briefcases, and not just the one that was presented to them, so there’s $200,000 up for grabs. On the episode that I watched, one family gave $20,000 to the other family, while the second family gave $11,000 to the first family. So, they both ended up with the bulk of the money. For each of them, the amount given was such a drop in the bucket that I would’ve been offended, but they at least pretended to be thankful. They both owed so much money that the full $100K still wouldn’t have solved all their problems. I really hope there’s a “Where Are They Now” episode next season if the show gets renewed.

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Lots of news in the world of Spider-Man this week. First off, it was reported that Miles Morales, formerly the Ultimate Spider-Man, will be the MAIN Spider-Man in the regular Marvel Universe following the Secret Wars event. The new series, Spider-Man, will be handled by the Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man team of Brian Michael Bendis and Sarah Pichelli, and it also appears that a retired Peter Parker will serve as his mentor. I’ve written about my love for Miles in the past, and I’ve also written about how an association with Peter could only be a good thing for Miles. This is a pretty big deal, as Miles will also be one of the New Avengers as that team rebuilds following the event. I’m really excited for this, but part of me is wondering “How long is this really gonna last?” Comics have tricked us with “cowl rental” in the past, and the original wearer always comes back. I’m drinking the Kool-Aid, and I really want this to be a permanent thing, but I just know better than to get too excited about it yet.

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Meanwhile, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel and Sony decided on Tom Holland, and not Asa Butterfield, as the next actor to portray Peter Parker/Spider-Man. A moment of silence for Andrew Garfield. Not only will Holland star in the 2017 Spider-Man film, but he has been confirmed to debut in next Spring’s Captain America: Civil War. In fact, they say that he has already been sent to the set to start filming his scenes. Meanwhile, Jon Watts has been tapped to direct the next Spidey film, which will only be his third feature film.

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Also this week in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was rumored that Selma‘s Ava Duvernay had been hired to direct Marvel’s Black Panther. While Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige has confirmed that they’ve had talks with DuVernay, her hiring is still just speculation at this point. While I know she’d bring a certain amount of, I guess, “legitimacy” to the movie, I don’t really know if that’s what her career needs. Sure, Kenneth Branagh directed Thor, but I kinda hate that we live in a period where it’s assumed that EVERY director needs to have a superhero film under his/her belt. I mean, other than the fact that they both feature Black casts, why would you think the director of Selma would automatically be the best person to showcase the king and world of Wakanda? To me, that’s just as dumb as the marriage between Storm and Black Panther which seemed based solely on the fact that they’re both African. It’s just sort of stupid that once you’re on everyone’s radar these days, it’s assumed your next move will be a superhero film.

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Also in movies this week, Rotten Tomatoes held a Q&A livestream with the cast of the Independence Day sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence. I guess the importance of the event was to showcase the new title, but it just seemed kinda like a sad affair. Instead of being excited about the movie (which is a year away), I was more sad for these actors that they didn’t have anything else lined up. I mean, even secondary characters like Vivica Fox, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch are back. Hell, if Harvey Fierstein hadn’t died in the first one, they probably would’ve gotten him back, too. But there is one glaring omission: Will Smith, who reportedly wanted $50 million to do the two planned sequels. So, instead of having him, they cast actor Jessie Usher (who?) as Smith’s character’s son. Anyway, since filming just started a month ago, they really didn’t have much info to share. I’m not sure whose idea it was to schedule this thing so early, but it was just an awkward, uncomfortable mess.

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Photographer Dennis
Stylist Lin

Some San Diego Comic-Con exclusives are starting to trickle out (you can get up-to-the-minute coverage over at Awesome Toy Blog), but my favorite is probably this Toys “R” Us exclusive Batgirl figure. I was a pretty devoted collector of the Batman ’66 line, and I’ve been waiting for this figure since it was announced over a year ago. I really kinda hate that it’s an exclusive (especially since it’s a TRU exclusive, exclusively for SDCC – it’s an exclusive inception!), as that means it’ll be harder to get than just walking into your local TRU store. It seems that TRU actually posts these for sale on their website during the convention, so I’ll try my luck at getting one that way. I’ll need two – one to open and one to put in storage. Yes, I’m that guy. Sometimes.

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It was quite a week for fallen child stars. First off, young Anakin Skywalker, Jake Lloyd, who apparently suffers from schizophrenia, attacked his mom before setting off a high speed police chase. Then, Saved By The Bell‘s Dustin Diamond was ordered to serve 4 months in jail for stabbing a guy back in December.

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In the world of music, Taylor Swift surprisingly became the voice for artists’ rights when she declined to allow her album 1989 to be offered via Apple Music’s streaming service. This is nothing new for Taylor, as she also yanked all of her albums off Spotify a few months ago. Still, she wrote an open letter to her fans, saying that she couldn’t go along with Apple, seeing as how they weren’t going to be paying artists royalties for the first three months of the service. Well, she cried and Apple listened. Responding to her on Twitter, Apple senior vice president of internet software and services, Eddie Cue, said, “Apple will always make sure that artist are paid,” tweeted Cue. “#AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period. We hear you @taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.” Now if she could only squash that beef with Katy Perry that easily…

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I don’t usually get too political on here, but this has been some kind of week. As I’m sure you know, there’s been a lot of movement to get the Confederate flag taken down at southern government buildings. Then things really shifted into turbo, as Wal-Mart, Amazon and more announced that they would no longer be selling items bearing the flag. Then Warner Bros announced that they wouldn’t sell any more Dukes of Hazzard merchandise with the flag on it. When all of this stuff was happening, I jokingly tweeted that I was fine with the flag being on the General Lee. And then they pulled it. Finally, Apple kinda screwed the pooch by removing Civil War games from the App Store because they depicted the flag. I say “screwed the pooch”, as this is almost like pulling a textbook because the flag was in it. It’s a part of history, but that’s where it should remain. If it’s a game or book about history, then it seems kinda fitting for it to be in there. It just probably shouldn’t be flying high like we’re still all in 1861.

As a Black man in America, it should be pretty clear where I stand on this matter. As someone whose relatives hail from the South, it has even more meaning to me. I’m conflicted, though, ’cause I grew up loving The Dukes of Hazzard. I guess you could say that I didn’t know any better, but I was an avid fan of the “Cars Jumping Over Shit” genre of television that ruled the early 80s. I was asked to write a guest post about my stance on this, and I really didn’t know how to approach it without coming off like some kind of race traitor. I hate the flag, but I love the General Lee. I’m not going to get into a debate about whether or not the flag represents racism or any of that. You already have your opinion, and some rando’s pop culture blog isn’t about to change that. I will say this, though: Nice work, America.

I say that sarcastically because this whole thing was NEVER about the flag to begin with. I have a pretty strict No Death policy for West Week Ever, but everyone knows that 9 people were killed in a church last week. And, as these things are prone to do, the debate about gun control was just about to start up and then all this flag shit happened. This is what they want. Instead of doing something about guns, they’ve diverted our attention to this other matter, hoping we’ll forget the first thing. And I don’t say this as some kind of “Nobody needs guns!” kind of person. I honestly haven’t fully fleshed out my views on the matter, but I do know that a church is supposed to be a safe place. Just like a school. Or a movie theater. And none of that is true anymore.

Keep the flag or get rid of it. That’s not what any of this is about. It’s about changing the conversation, and it’s been very successful. I guess we’ll revisit the original conversation after the next mass shooting. Or maybe we’ll finally change the Redskins’ name instead. End of soapbox rant.

Links I Loved

‘Star Trek’: The Story of the Most Daring Cliffhanger in ‘Next Generation’ History – The Hollywood Reporter

Paul Rudd and Marvel’s Kevin Feige Reveal ‘Ant-Man’s’ Saga, from Director Shuffle to Screenplay Surgery to Studio’s “Phase Three” Plans – The Hollywood Reporter

Why I Left Scientology – Gawker

Harmony Korine on ‘Kids’: ‘It Would Be Impossible To Make That Film Now’ – The Guardian

The Least-Plausible G.I. Joe and Cobra Vehicles – The Robot’s Pajamas

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Now this is typically the part where I tell you who had the West Week Ever, but I’m gonna try something different this week. You see, I’ve been working on a project that I kinda want to share with you.

After guesting on some 40+ podcasts, I always get the same question: When are you going to start your own podcast? Well, I never really wanted to because A) I’m lazy and B) I didn’t really think there was a demand. I mean, I already have to beg folks to read this thing every week, so why would I think they’d want to listen to me, too? It just didn’t seem worthwhile. Then, I had a conversation with my Twitter Sister, Brandi Brown. I call her that because we’re basically the same person, only she’s a stand-up comic in Minnesota, and I’m not. We started talking about Carmen Sandiego, and then we just fell down the rabbit hole trying to make sense of that whole franchise. We decided that it would probably be a good idea for a one-off podcast. As we kept talking, we realized that we had a few topics that deserved to be discussed – the only catch would be that this wouldn’t be a weekly show. Hell, it might not even be monthly. Think of it like a series of specials. If they do well, then we’ll figure out where to go next, but for now, we’re just thinking of this being an occasional sort of thing. Well, our good buddy Classick, over at the Cold Slither Podcast Network, invited us to be on the latest episode of his Classick Team-Up show. That episode was to serve as something of a “backdoor pilot” for the show that Brandi and I had devised. Oh, you don’t know what a backdoor pilot is? It’s when an episode of an existing show is used to spin off a new show. Got it? Good.

It was a lot of fun recording this, as we tackled topics such as Rachel Dolezal, paying it forward, and the conspiracy theories that we hold dear. The project is clearly a work in progress, so bear that in mind. We’ve got to figure out things like audio levels, podcast setup, mics, etc. Still, I think there’s a lot of potential here. So, I ask that you give it a listen and let me know what you think. Do you want more Brandi & Will? It’s all up to you. If not, I’ll be cool with that, too. Sure, I might cry a little, but I’ll get over it. So, in lieu of a West Week Ever, I give you Classick Team-Up #27 with Brandi & Will.

Oh, and there won’t be a post next week ’cause y’all never read it on a holiday weekend. So, unless something crazy happens and I write it on Thursday, we’re taking a week off.

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