21st Feb2014

West Week Ever – 2/21/14

by Will

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Welcome to our new look, thanks to @reappropriate! It’s still a work in progress, so bear with us during our construction.

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First up, let’s do our standard What Will Watched This Week. I Redboxed The Wolverine, and I’m surprised to say that I really liked it. When it comes to the comics, I HATE Wolverine In Japan stories. I loathe them. He suddenly changes from scruffy loner into a samurai, and it always seemed at odds with his other characterization. I mean, how do you have a code of honor AND a berserker rage? Anyway, the best part about this movie is that he had been to Japan in the past, but upon returning, there’s none of the noble samurai stuff. He doesn’t know the language, the customs, any of it. This way, he struggles to adjust along with the audience. I did find it odd that the movie had no opening credits whatsoever. You don’t see that in too many movies these days. Speaking of credits, the post-credits scene really has me intrigued for X-Men: Days of Future Past, so there’s that.

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Next up, I watched In A World…, which was written, directed by, and starred Lake Bell. Howie Decker (of UnderScoopFire!) and I have discussed how Lake Bell is an anomaly, as she can be beautiful, but she can also look like a refugee off the cover of National Geographic. Well, in this movie, she was at her refugee-est, as the slacker daughter of a famous voice-over star. Since the death of famed movie trailer announcing god Don LaFontaine, the hunt was on to see who would bring back his famous “In a world…” intro. Bell’s father is up for the job, as well as newcomer Gustav Warner. Through a crazy chain of events, Bell’s character is also in the running, and the race is on to see who will say “In a world…” for future epics. It was a cute little comedy, with a great cast. Along with Bell, there’s Rob Corddry, Dimitri Martin, Nick Offerman, and Ken Marino. I definitely recommend this movie.

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So, let’s start off with the fun stuff from the week. The Guardians of the Galaxy trailer came out, and it was pretty entertaining. It’ll be interesting to see how this movie does, however. It’s kinda jarring that Marvel Studios did a great job at grounding their movies in “reality”, and then all of a sudden, SPACE! I mean, do you understand that Peter Quill is a HUMAN in SPACE?! That’s a pretty big leap from what they’ve been doing. Sure, they fought aliens in The Avengers, but that was still as “grounded” an invasion as they could do. Guardians of the Galaxy, however, changes the scope of everything. Anyway, I’m not sure if it’s gonna break any records, but it should be a fun movie. And yes, Marvel got a talking raccoon in a movie before DC got a Wonder Woman movie off the ground. I’m so frickin’ sick of hearing about how Wonder Woman doesn’t have a movie…

legendary morpherSomething else that grinds my gears: adult Power Rangers fans pissed off about toys. Last week, I mentioned how Power Rangers Super Megaforce was premiering, in which the Rangers could call upon any of the Ranger powers from the past 20 years. Well, they do this via the Legendary Morpher, and since the show is pretty much a giant toy commercial, there’s a toy of said morpher. Each ranger has a key, which is used to unlock the powers. Bandai America produced the keys, which are sold in packs of 3, yet seem to omit most of the female rangers. Now, AFOPRs (Adult Fans of Power Rangers – let’s see if that catches on) are upset that the females are being omitted, ranting “Girls watch Power Rangers, too!” Yes, they do, but Power Rangers is a BOYS toy line. It was conceived as such, it has won awards as such, and that, as Stone Cold Steve Austin would say, is the bottom line. Sure, girls watch Power Rangers, but I’m sure some boys play with Barbies. Are they, however, clamoring for Ken’s Dream House? No, because the line was *primarily* meant for girls. AFOPRs seem to think that the omission of the female keys flies in the face of the Power Rangers message of empowerment and inclusion. I don’t think it does any such thing. I just think Bandai knew that they weren’t going to make much money slinging pink keys. Sure, there are some seasons, like Time Force, where Pink was pretty important, but I’m not gonna lose sleep over the fact that some 13 year old show isn’t getting its due in a 2014 toy line. As I said last week, the kids watching Super Megaforce are probably too young to know most of the teams that will be showcased, and the Super Megaforce powers aren’t gender specific, as we saw last week when everyone transformed into a different Red Ranger – including the girls, transforming into Rangers who’d previously been male. I’ve often said that if you’re old enough to bitch online about the decisions made on a children’s show, it’s not for you. I may come off as a hypocrite, but I’m bitching about the fans and not the product. The kids will like it just fine, and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.

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Yesterday, the Fantastic Four reboot cast was announced, and everyone lost their shit. Still, despite all of the changes that are apparently on the horizon, folks are still upset about Michael B. Jordan cast as Johnny Storm. I wrote about this a few months back, and my feelings haven’t changed. Comics change important details ALL THE TIME, so I’m not quite sure how changing his race hurts the character of Johnny Storm. Does it help the character? Who really knows? That remains to be seen. People say that it’s just change for the sake of change, but I have no real problem with that. I’ve never really liked the Fantastic Four, but these changes have me intrigued. Isn’t that the point? To get people in the seats? On the race matter, folks say things like, “Well, you’d never make a black character white.” Well, no. First of all, there aren’t too many, so you’d be dipping into a very shallow pool as it is. Second of all, you don’t WANT our heroes. Seriously, why would you want a black guy with falcon wings when you’ve got friggin’ Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc. White people already have all the powerful heroes, so why waste their time on “reacquiring” an ex-con with bulletproof skin? It just doesn’t make any sense. Still, folks say, “You’d never see a white Shaft.” OK, I’d totally watch a white Shaft, but it’s already been done and it was called Banacek. Never heard of it? See if you get Cozi TV on one of your digital channels, and tune in around 8 one night.

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As for the Fantastic Four cast, I have problems with everyone except Jordan. Miles Teller as Reed Richards? I hate his face. I’ve hated him ever since 21 & Over. I said it on Twitter, but Miles Teller has the face of the Class Asshole. Not the Class Clown. Sure, he does stuff for laughs, but he’s mainly a dick. I simply dislike the cut of his jib. I don’t know much about Kate Mara, as I’m the only person in DC who hasn’t watched House of Cards yet. According to IMDB, I’ve never seen anything with Jamie Bell, though that’ll probably change once I get my hands on a copy of Nymphomaniac. It might be good and it might suck. We won’t know until the movie’s out. It seems folks have already decided it won’t be good because it’s not from Marvel Studious, but maybe Fox can turn things around. Based on the ages of the actors, it seems like they’re going the Ultimate Fantastic Four route – taking a page from the Marvel Studios playbook, so that makes me happy. Maybe all of this change will be for the best. And for those not willing to see the movie due to personal beliefs or whatever, I know you’ll still see it. You’re the same folks who claimed Michael Bay “raped” your childhood until DINOBOTS!

I got the attention of the Toy Hunter on Twitter the other night. He was buying some original Star Wars action figures, and the math didn’t seem to add up to me. So, the following took place:

Toy Hunter Tweets

When I first read the “love your tweets”, a part of me got all squishy. “Jordan knows about my tweets?” Then, I realized he just meant he loved the tweets regarding the show. ‘Cause I hashtagged them. Stupid Will. Anyway, it was one of my better celebrity exchanges online.

Speaking of toys, I went to New York Toy Fair last weekend, but that’ll get its own post. For now, I just wanna say it was great meeting @MattGuzy, @T16skyhopp, @Preternia_, and @Tekcorps!

Links I Loved
5 Things You Should Never Say to an Adult Toy Collector – UnderScoopFire!

T-T-T-Toy Fair Roundup 2014! – The Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang

Cereal Prize! – AEIOU and Sometimes Why

Nutbusters XXX: A Review of a Ghostbusters Remake (NSFW) – The Robot’s Pajamas

In Which I Seek My Father – The Nerds of Color

In Case You Missed It This Week
Comical Thoughts – 2/19/14

One’s getting used to new claws, while another thinks everything is awesome in space. One’s got a smug mug, while the other’s got a problem with pink. Only one, however, had the West Week Ever.

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Nobody had a week like Chris Pratt. The LEGO Movie is still ruling the box office, while the trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy made its debut this week. People were clamoring so much for that trailer that they were eating up 15-second teasers of the thing. Pratt seems poised to become the big screen star that Taylor Kitsch couldn’t. They both have similar career origins (Kitsch on Friday Night Lights and Pratt on Everwood), but Pratt seems to be the real deal. If he keeps this up, one day we may eventually ask each other, “Remember when Chris Pratt was on that TV show?” That’s the same thing folks say about Clooney now. That’s a good thing. Anyway, for his rising star in Hollywood, Chris Pratt had the West Week Ever.

19th Feb2014

Comical Thoughts – 2/19/14

by Will

comicalI haven’t really discussed comics too much lately, even though I’ve still been reading a few. Here are some thoughts on what I’ve read recently.

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She-Hulk #1: good issue, but I’m not sure if this is a monthly for me. The one odd thing, however, was that the opening spread contains a pic of her drinking with Tony Stark and Thor. Um…Tony’s an alcoholic, though he’s clearly drinking a martini. It’s funny that Marvel can make sure that nobody smokes, but no one caught that? Anyway, the art works well for the story, even though I’m not really in love with it.

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Batman #28: a flash forward issue. Can I just go on record and say that I hate EVERYTHING that Scott Snyder has brought to the Batman mythos? There must be something wrong with me, as everyone else raves over his work, and I just don’t see it. I’m tired of Zero Year and I really don’t know if I’m onboard for this Batman Eternal weekly. Anyway, I hope the Spoiler fans will finally shut up after this issue.

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Red Hood and the Outlaws #25: This was important because it’s a Zero Year tie-in. Since Zero Year takes place six years in the past, and Jason Todd is 15, that makes him 21 now. We’ll come back to this later. It also links Talia to the weird mystical mumbo jumbo that Jason studied after his “death”.

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Cataclysm: Ultimate Comics X-Men #3: What an utter waste of a miniseries. Clearly, Marvel felt that every Ultimate title needed a Cataclysm spinoff, but this one did absolutely nothing for me. They spend three issues in a pocket universe, where Galactus isn’t even a threat to them. Wasted potential.

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Earth 2 Annual #2: I dropped the Earth 2 series early on because it wasn’t the “real Earth”. Still, I became fascinated when I heard they were introducing a new Batman, since that Earth’s original Batman died during the events of the first issue. Well, the new Batman turns out to be Thomas Wayne, and we’re given a different view of Bruce’s origin than we’ve had in the past. Thomas Wayne is essentially the Earth-2 Hourman, who happens to wear the Batman suit to honor the son he disappointed. I’m intrigued enough that I might give this book another shot.

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Batman and Robin Annual #2: this issue features the New 52 interpretation of Dick Grayson’s first mission as Robin, as told through flashbacks. The important thing about this is that Dick becomes Robin at the age of 16 in the New 52 and not much younger, as in other incarnations. Let’s say Batman took Dick on as Robin in the second year of his mission, so that’s 5 years ago, making Dick 21 – just like Jason. So, this probably helped the “visual continuity” of Robin, as the replacement looked to be the exact age of the Robin who left to become Nightwing. To criminals and Gothamites, it would look like Robin has been the same guy the entire time, even though there were two different people behind the mask. This is a lot less jarring than Batman replacing an 18 year old with another 12 year old. This seems like one of the rare benefits of the new streamlined New 52 timeline.

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Black Widow: I can’t decide if I like this book or not. Basically, it seems like Marvel wants to repeat the Hawkeye formula: here’s what an Avengers does on days off from the team. Sadly, I don’t find Natasha’s life that interesting. The art, by Phil Noto, is beautiful but the stories are pretty formulaic. She goes on a mission, she kills some folks, there’s a twist, and she comes back home. It also seems odd that she does this because I seem to remember that the Avengers have something of a morality clause. In Hawkeye, Clint got arrested and was reminded of said clause. How does that not apply to Natasha, out and about murdering people?

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Another problem is that I feel like I’ve read this story before. You see, back when Wizard tried their hand at publishing comics through Black Bull, they had a book called Beautiful Killer. It was about a redheaded assassin who happened to be drawn by Phil Noto. The book was clearly influenced by Black Widow and Spider-Woman, so to have Noto on the actual Black Widow almost seems like a retread. Each issue is self contained, so I can’t say that this series would probably read better in trade form. Four issues in, I just don’t know if this is a monthly obligation for me.

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Deadpool #23: I love this series so much. It’s funny because I never really liked the 90s Deadpool stuff, but I’ve been onboard since the Daniel Way series. I loved how Coulson was part of this story arc, and the Watchmen reference on the last page was pretty funny.

origin22Origin II #2: I’m not sure what to think of this mini yet. I’m wondering if it’s like its predecessor, in that Origin was really only a great reading experience after it was collected. To read it issue by issue made it feel disjointed in a way. Two issues in, it’s not grabbing me, even if Mr. Sinister happens to be a main character. I also wonder if Kieron Gillen is the perfect choice to write this. After all, this was Paul Jenkins’s territory, as he wrote the first series, as well as the bookend Wolverine: The End. Also, I haven’t really enjoyed anything that Gillen has brought to the Marvel Universe. He was great on his indie stuff, like Phonogram, but his mainstream work has left me disappointed. I think I might drop this in single issues and come back once it’s been collected.

Well, that’s me. What have y’all been reading lately?

12th Feb2014

Adventures West Coast – Superman: Earth One Vol 2

by Will

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I guess it’s kinda odd for me to write about Volume 2 when I never got around to writing about Volume 1, huh? Oh well, that’s just how I roll. Earth One was an interesting concept: Let’s tell stories about our marquee heroes that start from the beginning. No baggage, no continuity. In many ways, it was DC’s version of Marvel’s Ultimate Universe – a no frills modernization of classic heroes. In fact, a lot of the character designs (especially Batman) were based on early art for a DC “ultimization” that was shown in an old issue of Wizard Magazine. I’ll probably get around to writing about Earth One: Batman at some point, but we’re here for Superman today. The Earth One concept was somewhat unique until DC rebooted their universe with The New 52. Suddenly, a Superman wearing a hoodie wasn’t as revolutionary as a Superman wearing jeans and a t-shirt. No, Earth One Superman never went through a Superboy phase, but now neither had New 52 Supes. So, the real question is this: can Earth One Superman still carve out a niche when the regular product has stolen his mojo?

As the first volume dealt with Clark’s arrival in Metropolis, this installment finds him still getting settled into his new digs. There are subtle changes to set this apart from the Superman canon we all know and love. For example, it’s Clark, and not Lois, who gets this first interview with Superman. Not only is this something of an unethical conflict of interest (um, they’re the same guy!), but it also stokes the fires of the Lois & Clark rivalry. As such, this also means that “Superman” is a name that he gave to himself, rather than a moniker given to him in that first Lois interview.

The biggest aspect of this volume, however, is the origin/introduction of Parasite. I’m not an expert on Parasite, so I can’t tell you if this was an original origin or just an homage to something done in the past. Basically, it seems that he was a psychopath turned serial killer who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. This led to his transformation into Parasite, which left him with an insatiable hunger for power. Superman fights him, of course, and eventually beats him with the help of containment armor.

While Superman may have met his physical match, the most compelling aspects of the story are those that deal with Clark’s inability to fit in. We’ve experienced the tales where Clark is advised to keep his head down and not attract unwanted attention, but this story goes a long way to explain the cost of that behavior. It led Clark to be a withdrawn, straight C student with no friends. In this Smallville, there didn’t seem to be a Lana Lang or a Pete Ross to bring him out of his shell. So, instead we got a Clark Kent who took great pains to lead the most average life so as not to stick out as being different. In the most emotional part of the story, Clark tells a new friend about his favorite childhood pet, and it becomes obvious that the pet was the best friend he had ever had.

An interesting part of the story is that it features a flashback where Jonathan Kent tries to have The Talk with Clark. Though movies like to poke fun at it, I think this is the first time that a Superman comic has addressed the fact that his ejaculate could potentially injure a partner. This comes into play later, as Clark’s new neighbor is totally DTF. He clearly wants her, but his father’s words come back to haunt him, so he shies away from her. It’s probably for the best, as he later learns she hooks on the side.

Anyway, this leads back to my original question: is there room for Earth One Superman in a New 52 world? I think the answer is a resounding yes. I like the original graphic novel format, as it ensures there’s only one book you have to read for the full story, which is being told by one creative team. I like that there’s no real continuity outside of the two volumes. Anyway, if you’re looking for a fresh, modern take on Superman (no, Smallville doesn’t count), then you should definitely pick up this book.

17th Jan2014

West Week Ever – 1/17/14

by Will

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I didn’t watch anything on Netflix this week, but I used the time to catch up on some TV. First up, I watched Enlisted on Fox. Someone on Twitter said that it’s basically Stripes: The TV Series, and they weren’t wrong. It focuses on a war hero who, due to insubordination, gets bumped down to a Rear Detachment unit back home with his two brothers. He’s dying to get back to combat, and his Rear D unit is made up of a bunch of underachievers. By the end of the episode, however, he learns that Rear D is a valuable unit, as they take care of the families of the soldiers who’ve been deployed. The show was really funny and has a lot of heart. I’d expect big things if Fox had put it on Tuesday with the rest of their comedies. Instead, it’s being burned off on Friday nights with Raising Hope. The numbers weren’t too good for the premiere, but Fox execs say they’re committed to it for its initial 13-episode run. You should definitely add it to your DVR.

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I caught the 2-episode season premiere of Girls, and I still can’t figure out how I feel about the show. I don’t have HBO, but luckily they put the episodes on their official YouTube channel. I thought this meant that certain things would be censored. After all, when I watched the free preview of the House of Lies pilot, there were black bars over all the naughty bits. I was wrong to think that was going to happen here. Despite YouTube’s content rules, nothing about the Girls episodes was changed. We still saw Lena Dunham’s sad little boobies, and we also saw Jessa go down on another girl – all on free, non-age verified YouTube. I was kinda impressed by the balls on that decision. Anyway, the titular girls are still deplorable, and Adam’s even weirder than before. Nice cameo by Amy Schumer, but that didn’t really help the need for diversity on that show. Shoshanna’s still my favorite character, though this article points out that she seems to have no real motivation for being there.

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How I Met Your Mother‘s writers must’ve just said “Fuck it. It’s the last season.” No, I’m not talking about the quality of the writing, but I’m referring to the fact that this week’s episode was full-on yellowface. If you’re familiar with the show, then you probably know about the Slap Bet – Marshall won a bet with Barney and won the opportunity to slap Barney, as hard as he could, over the course of what became 8 slaps. In the continuity of the show, there’s always been some build-up to the slaps, and they tend to happen on “Slapsgiving”. Well, this season, in “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra”, the writers went full retard and told a tale of Marshall traveling to Shanghai to learn the Slap of A Million Exploding Suns. Yes, every chop socky Asian trope is displayed in the episode, and it even includes Ted looking like this:

slapsgivingThe creators have, since, apologized, but it’s a sour note for the show to go out on. After all, the series finale is in March, and this isn’t the kind of legacy that it should leave behind. I tend not to take things too seriously, but even I was watching the episode like, “Oh, shit. They’re really doing this?”

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It was announced on Wednesday that the 1966 Batman TV show would finally be released on DVD. This is a big deal because the rights have been tied up forever, as Warner Bros owns Batman, yet Fox owned the show. That said, I still feel like this was the worst-kept secret in Hollywood, as it was pretty obvious this was going to happen due to the onslaught of Batman ’66 merchandising over the past year. We’ve gotten everything from comics to action figures to Barbie dolls. There was no reason to be pimping an almost 50 yr old show if the DVD thing wasn’t happening. Still, as excited as people seem to be about the DVDs, I don’t really get it. I mean, if you really wanted them, you have them already. I bought my complete series for $40 at a comic show. Sure, it’s bootleg, but the quality’s just fine. I know that I’m not alone, so I feel that the extras are really going to make or break this set. There are folks lining up already, saying “Take my money”, but I’m gonna need to learn more about this before I get too excited.

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From here on out, I will be referring to the star of 12 Years A Slave as “Chitlin Ejector”. I can’t pronounce his real name, and I feel his new name is urban, yet futuristic.

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I had a bit of a milestone this week, as I got the most hits I’ve ever had in the history of the site. No, it wasn’t West Week Ever that did it. It turns out that a 10-year old post of mine was linked by NPR’s Code Switch blog. If you’ve never gone that far back in my archives (or you just don’t feel like clicking that link), I posted a quote from John Byrne’s message board where he gave his opinion of Jessica Alba being cast as Sue Storm. And he also said that he thinks Latinas with blonde hair look like hookers. Since his message board archive doesn’t go back that far, it seems like my snapshot of the conversation is one of the last remaining pieces of evidence that it ever existed. Anyway, the Code Switch blog was discussing race and identity in comics (you should totally read it!), and that link drove my traffic through the roof. I’m still feeling the residual effects of it, so welcome, new readers, if this is your first taste of West Week Ever.

When I wrote West Year Ever, I omitted another event that took place in 2013: my good friends James and Jenn came to visit. Jenn helped create this site, while you can see James in the Wonder Woman video clip I’ve been posting. Anyway, I didn’t have a pic of their visit, so they got no mention. Still, you can follow them on twitter: @snoopyjenkins (James) and @reappropriate (Jenn).

In Case You Missed It This Week

Track Star: Mr. Mister Vs. Boy Meets Girl

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On Monday, it was announced that Michael Douglas will be playing Hank Pym in Marvel’s Ant-Man movie. This is a pretty big deal for two reasons. First of all, the tabloids had Douglas on deathwatch just a year ago, so it’s great that he’s not only still with us, but ready to tackle such a meaty role. It’s also important because it means that Paul Rudd will actually be portraying the second Ant-Man, Scott Lang. This bit of casting made the Ant-Man movie plans that much clearer, and it’s gotten folks excited for the movie in a way that they hadn’t been prior to the announcement. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been pretty “meh” since the introduction of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but this was just the shot in the arm that the franchise needed. For this reason, Michael Douglas had the West Week Ever.

13th Dec2013

West Week Ever – 12/13/13

by Will

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SHIVAKAMINI SOMAKANDARKRAM!

The League

Sorry for that “Shiva Blast”, but I’ve been watching The League on Netflix for that past week. I’ve seen them all before, but it’s such a damn good show. Plus, when you binge-watch it, you realize it’s got the best continuity on television. Seriously, there’s a richer tapestry of timeline and in-jokes than How I Met Your Mother. The funny thing is that I don’t know the first thing about football, so why am I watching a comedy about a fantasy football league? Well, the football is just the thing that gets them all together, but the show’s about so much more. If you haven’t tried it, definitely watch a handful of episodes and you’ll be hooked.

To Do List

Netflix didn’t really have any new movies that I wanted to watch, so this week I resorted to Redbox. What did I come away with? The To-Do List and The Heat. First up, The To-Do List. Starring Parks & Recreation‘s Aubrey Plaza, it follows a recent high school graduate who doesn’t want to go off to college as a sexually inexperienced virgin. So, with the help of her slutty friends, she creates a sexual to-do list of all the things she wants to try before going off to school. There’s everything from HJs to dry humping to fingerblasting and more. At the end of the day, the moral of the story is that sex doesn’t have to be a big deal unless you make it out to be. When feelings are involved, it can be a special act, but otherwise it’s just some recreational thing that society completely blows out of proportion. If you’re a really progressive parent, and you want to prepare your own daughter before she goes off to college, this would make quite the humorous instructional video. Aubrey has such a one-dimensional deadpan delivery, but it fits here. I was scared she’d bring too much “Daria” to the role, but she’s convincing as the goody two-shoes Brandy Klark. The only annoying thing about the movie is that it’s set in the early 90s, so they constantly drop hamfisted references to remind you of the time period – things like, “Hey, let’s go get some slap bracelets”, etc. Anyway,  no one saw this thing when it was in theaters, but I hope it gets a new lease on life as a DVD/streaming.

The Heat

Next up was The Heat – the buddy cop movie starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. Ya know, I watch Mike & Molly and want to write McCarthy off as overrated. Then, she steals a movie like Bridesmaids, and now The Heat, and I start to think she might be the real deal. Seriously, she is HILARIOUS in this movie, while Bullock successfully plays the role of “slightly off” straight woman. I won’t really get into the convoluted plot, so let’s just say that they team up to take down a drug lord. No, that’s actually pretty much the whole plot of the movie. Sure, there are some speed bumps along the way, and the two have to learn to work together, but that’s the general gist of the movie. Plus, it ends in a way that could totally lead to a sequel, so I really hope to see The Heat 2 in the next few years.

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I know I’ve ranted about it before on Twitter, but it bears repeating: I HATE the concept of the “Fall finale” for TV shows. Originally, it was just something that cable networks did when they wanted to split up their seasons. In recent years, however, it has found its way to basic television dramas. Back in “my day”, we were smart enough to know how TV worked: your season started in September, and you had new episodes until November. Then you had reruns until January/February and you had your season finale in May. That was it. Everyone knew the cycle and they were fine with it. Now, this new system changes the way shows are written and filmed. You now HAVE to have some big dramatic cliffhanger in the middle of the season just to lure people back in February. This bothers me because I feel the midseason finales are actually stronger than the season finales nowadays, resulting in an unbalanced season. This also goes to show that the 22-episode season is antiquated, and maybe the fall finale should be the season finale. Just cut shows down to 13 episodes a season for tighter story arcs.

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Speaking of shows with limited runs, The Sing-Off is back. As an a cappella alum, I’m contractually obligated to mention that. I, however, haven’t watched since the first season. Here were my thoughts from that round.

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Jason Momoa is rumored to be joining the already bloated Man of Steel sequel. I’m actually surprised it has taken this long for him to get a comic movie role. I think he was up for Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, but that ultimately went to Chris Batista. I don’t care how many tough guy roles Momoa gets, he’ll always be Jason from Baywatch to me.

Jason Momoa Baywatch

Links I Loved

Over-Analyzing the Festively Rape-y Holiday Classic “Baby It’s Cold Outside” – UnderScoopFire!

Why Do People Love Donald Glover, But Hate Childish Gambino So Much? – UPROXX

Rambo Had a Christmas Episode. It Was Insane. – The Robot’s Pajamas

Inside the Rainbow Gulag: The Technicolor Rise and Fall of Lisa Frank – Jezebel

Top 15 Other DC Characters Jason Momoa Could Play in Man of Steel 2 The Nerds of Color

Two made me laugh out loud, while one just makes me laugh to look at him now. The other is considered a “queen” to some. Only one, however, had the West Week Ever.

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I’m not a huge Beyonce fan. I liked a lot of the Destiny’s Child stuff, but I never really followed her on her solo exploits. That said, it’s hard to deny that she’s become quite the juggernaut – both on her own, and through her marriage to Jay-Z. Last night, she flaunted that clout by dropping an entire album of new music, without warning or fanfare. The self-titled affair is comprised of 14 songs and 17 videos, showing that Mrs. Carter has been a busy girl. Still, the noteworthy aspect of the whole thing is how she just nonchalantly released it, sending the internet into chaos. Do you know how many artists release stuff on iTunes to no reception? There are VERY few artists that could get away with what she did, and it’s something of a game changer for the music industry. I can’t attest to the quality of the package, as I haven’t listened to it yet, but I’m definitely impressed by the delivery. She hit us when no one was watching and we truly weren’t ready for that jelly. For this reason, Beyonce had the West Week Ever.

02nd Dec2013

Virginia Comicon (& Rob Liefeld) In Pictures

by Will

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I know I said that my convention season was over, but “just when I thought I was out…” Here’s some backstory. It’s funny how you can meet people. About a year ago, when I started Operation: Trade Up, I was selling a bunch of my comics on Craigslist. That’s when I met John – a pretty cool guy with whom I ended up talking comics for 2 hours in a freezing parking lot. Though we never hung out as much as we should have, we kept in touch and talked comics over text. One of his favorite artists was Rob Liefeld, and Rob just happened to be coming within a few hours of us to the Virginia Comicon in Richmond, VA. John wanted to commission a sketch from Rob, so he was all about making the trip to see him. I’d been getting emails about the VA Comicon for years, but had never made the trip. Since John was moving back home to NY, this was sort of a last hurrah before hitting the road.

We got to the show at around 10, and the doors weren’t opening until 11. So, we braved the cold for an hour. Once inside, we immediately ran over to the Liefeld line, where we took turns waiting in what would be a 3-hour line. John would go to the bathroom, and I’d hold his spot. He’d come back, and I’d make a loop of the place, checking out the dealers’ wares. Rob’s flight was late, so that made the wait even longer. At around 2 PM, we finally made it to Rob’s table to meet the man himself.

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Now, I’ve met Rob Liefeld before, so I already had his autograph. I didn’t have the budget for a commission, so this show was all about John. It turns out he had already ordered a sketch online, which Rob brought with him. It was a gorgeous sketch reminiscent of a Cable & Deadpool cover. Now, John wanted Rob to draw Cable and Deadpool on a sketch cover comic that he’d brought with him. In the midst of all this deal-making, John had Rob sign a chunk of his comics. I mean, we’re talking a sizable chunk – comprised of X-Force, New Mutants, Hawk & Dove, and other books. We weren’t sure how many Rob would actually sign, as the promoters had quoted a limit of five items. John, however, was of the “it doesn’t hurt to ask” mindset, especially since he was commissioning a sketch. So, he had his chunk, and since I didn’t have anything for Rob to sign, he gave me a small amount to get signed for him. Here’s where things got a little messy. See, Rob’s main claim to fame is that he created Cable and Deadpool, and really hasn’t done much since. You know how I know that? Because he charges $20 to sign each copy of New Mutants #87 (first appearance of Cable) and New Mutants #98 (first appearance of Deadpool). On top of that, he charged $10 just to sign random issues of X-Force. So, having paid for admission to the show, as well as having stood in a 3-hr line, the only way to get something signed for free would be to have some of his less-desired books, like Hawk & Dove or his 2-issue Teen Titans arc. Anything “worthwhile” was gonna cost ya. John had given me some second printing copies of New Mutants #87, so these clearly had no value, yet Rob still wanted to charge for them, so I kindly said “That’s OK”, and handed him a stack of his lesser-desired books to sign.

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There was something I wanted to ask Rob about, but he had his son with him and I didn’t know how that would go over. Actually, I wanted to ask his kid: “How’s your Aunt Leanna?” Here’s some backstory for that. Remember the weird 5th season of Saved By The Bell, where Tori replaced Kelly and Jessie? Well, pseudo-lesbian Tori was played by real-life lesbian Leanna Creel – one of a set of triplets. Rob Liefeld married one of her sisters. Since he was the son of a preacher, and kinda devout, I hear that they don’t associate with Aunt Leanna, and didn’t go to her wedding to her partner. Now, I can be kinda messy, and my Saved By The Bell fanboyishness really wanted some info on how Leanna’s doing, but I didn’t want to cause a scene – especially while John was trying to get his collection signed.

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Rob was going to do John’s commission during the show, so we had to kill some time before it was done. My pal and former Diamond boss, Jim Kuhoric, was there promoting his creator-owned series, Dead Irons. In fact, he had some folks cosplaying as some of the characters from the story. After catching up with him, I was able to fill some holes in my collection from the vendors. I think John was able to grab a lot of stuff he’d been needing, as well.

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It’s not a comic convention without cosplay, and it was out in full force. I’ve gotta say that Harley Quinn has quickly become the de facto choice for female cosplayers, as I must’ve seen about 8. There was traditional Harley, Injustice Harley, Steampunk Harley, etc. I think we’ve reached the saturation point of Harley by now. Plus, the queen of cosplay herself, Yaya Han, was in attendance. Fresh off the success of Heroes of Cosplay, she was there promoting her brand and giving out hugs.

Once John got his commission from Rob, and they took a pic together with it, we hit the road. In all, I think a good time was had by all. I was certainly glad to grab the stuff I got, and John was glad to have finally met Rob. As a convention, VA Comicon’s nowhere on the level of Baltimore Comic-Con, but it’s bigger than the hotel comic shows I tend to frequent when looking for $1 comics. I’m not sure if I’ll ever go again, but it was a worthwhile trip. Now, I’ll leave you with some cosplay pics.

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And here’s my haul:

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25th Nov2013

Mail Call Monday – Facts & Figures

by Will

Welcome to the return of Mail Call Monday! I’ve been a bit of an eBay whore lately, so I’ve gotten quite a few packages. I wish I could say that these were holy grails or something, but they’re really just the result of boredom. Basically, I searched for auctions that were ending soon, and checked to see if any of them interested me. It’s a cheap tactic, but it yielded some pretty nice results. Let’s see what I got, shall we?

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I wish I could say that buying this figure was the result of some sort of racial obligation, but that’s just not true. I really just wanted him because he was rare, and he was the one Thor figure I never found at retail. Luckily, someone had him at retail price so I jumped on it. Sure, I know he probably turned up at Five Below of TJ Maxx (which I’m sure you’ll tell me in the comments), but I’m not disappointed. I also think there should be a metal band of all black guys called “Heimdall”.

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I really just got this to flip, as I already own it. I love this figure ’cause he’s really to scale with the rest of the Batman: The Animated Series/Justice League figures. This version of Tim Drake was much younger than Dick Grayson’s Robin, and the diminutive size of the figure shows that. Mattel has reused those BTAS molds time and again, but they haven’t done much with this one, so he’s still a bit harder to come by. As a strange coincidence, it turns out that this item came from Diamond – my former employer. Yup, they sold it through their Hakes Americana subsidiary. Small world…

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I got this from my dear friend @Ponderiss, as she accidentally ended up with two and knew that I’d love it. I think this may end up on my desk at work.

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“I’m The Juggernaut, bitch!” God, did that meme get old fast. And then Ratner made things even worse by putting that line in X-Men: The Last Stand. It wasn’t even in context with the scene and just came across as unnecessarily aggressive. Anyway, I collect 3 types of Marvel Legends: X-Men, Ultimate Marvel, and movie figures. This falls into 2 of those categories, and I only paid $5 for him so it wasn’t too much of a sacrifice.

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This X3 Colossus came from the same seller as Juggernaut up there. Again, he fulfilled 2 categories, and was another $5. The additional shipping to add him to Juggy was $1, so why not, right?

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This guy’s a longer story. $5 Figure Guy above had one of these for, you guessed it, $5. I bid on it but missed the email telling me that I’d been outbid. Turns out the winner beat me by $0.50. By this point, I’d already made up my mind that I wanted the figure, so I went looking for the next cheapest offering. I can’t say I got him doe $5, but I did OK – especially when I know that the seller lost money on shipping, based on the size of the box this came in.

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As I’ve written about in the past, I collect Toy Fair, industry-only catalogs from the major toy companies. I didn’t have any from Mattel, and this also happened to be a good year: 2003. In 2003, Mattel debuted the 6″ Batman line, which eventually led to the DC Universe Classics line. It was also in the middle of the Masters of the Universe toyline revival.Unlike most of the thin catalogs that I own, this one is pretty thick -basically the size of a modern IKEA catalog. Here are two of my favorite page spreads from the book:

 

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I also got a late 80s Kenner Toy Fair catalog – 1989, to be exact. While it was too late to have Super Powers, this was still a great year, as the book contains Police Academy, The Real Ghostbusters, Robocop, and Starting Lineup figures. Here are two of my favorite pics from that catalog:

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One day, I might get around to posting actual scans but that’s all you get for now.

So, that brings this edition of Mail Call Monday to a close. Expect another one soon, as I kinda went on a bender this weekend, including getting my first S.H. Figuarts Power Rangers figure. That was a can of worms I really tried not to open…

13th Nov2013

Thrift Justice – Fleas and Thank You, Xuxa

by Will

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Man, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Basically, there just hasn’t been a lot of awesome stuff out in these streets. The thrift stores have dried up, while the yard sales have yielded little. So, I’ve been forced to resort to the final frontier of thrifting: the flea market. It’s not my first choice, but it sometimes gets the job done. Here’s some stuff that I’ve found on recent visits.

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I’ve written about the Civitan Flea Market in the past, and while it hasn’t been as packed with goodies as it used to be, it still has a few conversation pieces. One of my current goals is to become the go-to American site for all Xuxa Google searches. This just helps me get one step closer to that goal. I got this baby for $1, but not without some resistance from the seller. He felt the need to tell me that it was odd seeing a man “buy a Barbie doll” and he wanted to know if it was for me. I corrected him that it was a Xuxa doll, but I told him it wasn’t for me. So I lied. I wasn’t getting shanked by some flea market bigot. Best to let him think it’s for my biracial daughter or some shit.

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On another trip, I managed to get this LEGO Hawkeye for $5. That might seem a bit steep, but it’s a lot better than having to buy the entire building set for him. Now, my LEGO Avengers consist of him, Cap, Iron Man, and Thor – all without having to buy some huge $60+ building set.

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The same vendor with Hawkeye also had these Marvel Universe Series III holograms. I don’t go into it much on the blog, mainly because they’re not as prevalent anymore, but I’m a sucker for some holograms. So, I had to have these.

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I actually already own this, but it was only a couple of bucks and I figure I can flip it on Amazon or something.

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Even though their rubsigns aren’t present, these Battle Beasts were a good acquisition for a couple of bucks. They probably would’ve cost more had the dealer known what they were. He waited until after I paid, and then asked, “What are those things called anyway?”

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When it came to DC Universe Classics, I’d made a conscious effort to avoid the “Lantern Corps” figures. I thought it was a dumb idea, and I didn’t feel like paying retail for a bunch of repaints. That said, he was only $3 and he’s so BLUE. I HAD to have him!

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I got these Joes at a booth where a woman was charging $0.50 each for them. This was a no-brainer, as that 25th anniversary Chuckles figure was only available in what has become a VERY expensive figure pack.

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After Civitan dried up, Special Forces told me about a flea market in nearby West Virginia. So, one Saturday morning, we made the trek to Harpers Ferry to see what we could find. This wasn’t really a “collectibles” environment, unless you’re into NASCAR and Hot Wheels. I did, however, find this guy:

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This Robin figure is from the Mego Corp, and he is PERFECT. And since his head is starting to turn blue, he even came with a better replacement head. I tried haggling with the dealer, but he wasn’t having it. Still, this was a pretty nice buy for $25. I found it odd that he wouldn’t give me the mailer box because it had his home address on it. Why didn’t he plan for that by scratching it off? Did he think I was gonna come rob him? Anyway, I ended up walking around, holding him for the rest of the morning, looking like a goober.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. What have you guys found lately?

27th Sep2013

West Week Ever – 9/27/13

by Will

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So, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. debuted this week, and I’m bound by the Geek Council to mention that. I already wrote about my thoughts on the show a few months back. After watching the pilot, nothing’s changed. I didn’t hate it, but it’s also not my new favorite show. It was a little too “Whedon” for me. A lot of folks I follow have been comparing Whedon to Aaron Sorkin, where his tried and true tropes are beginning to wear thin. I agree with that assessment, especially when it comes to TV Whedon. I’m never Captain Race Card, but I do think the team could use more diversity. Two Europeans and not even an Agent Rodriguez or Agent Jenkins? I think this is a gross oversight that I hope might be rectified in season 2. Anyway, how long before the Chloe Bennett Maxim spread?

DADS: L-R: Martin Mull, Giovanni Ribisi, Seth Green and Peter Riegert. DADS premieres Tuesday, Sept. 17 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2013 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: FOX

I’ve heard that people like my TV assessments, but I didn’t feel invested enough in any new shows to do a whole post aboutthe fall season. Now that we’re a week into things, I do have a few thoughts. First off, let’s tackle the elephant in the room known as Dads. It’s clear that it only got on the schedule to appease Seth MacFarlane, but we can all agree that it’s horrible. It’s going to be DESTROYED by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at 8 PM, so it’s only a matter of time before Fox blinks and moves it. It would be PERFECT for the Sunday As-Long-As-Football-Doesn’t-Run-Late 7:30 slot. That’s where Fox’s multi cam sitcoms go to die. It’ll be close enough to the Animation Domination block to get that Seth “halo effect” without actually breaking up the flow of the animated shows. This will allow them to bring back Raising Hope a bit sooner than probably expected, but they have more invested in that show.

The next disappointment is Back in the Game on ABC, starring Psych‘s Maggie Lawson. She’s a recently divorced single mom who moves in with her estranged father who helps her coach her son’s ragtag little league team of losers. If you’ve seen The Bad News Bears, you already know how this works. I’m convinced that this show was presented to ABC execs as Maggie Lawson in Little Shorts and it was greenlit immediately. I wonder what this means for Psych, but they’ve been hinting at the end for some time. I mean, it’s gonna have 8 seasons! Anyway, ABC clearly doesn’t believe in the show because they would’ve given it the post-Modern Family timeslot. The Middle is a reliable player, but it’s not a proven lead-in, which is why Suburgatory was moved around in order for it to gain traction. No, the darling spot has been given to Rebel Wilson’s Super Fun Night, which looks terrible. It seems folks think Wilson’s gonna be the next Melissa McCarthy, but I see her as the next Sara Rue/Nicole Sullivan – always a bridesmaid, but never quite a bride.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is good. Really good. Even if Andy Samberg goes full retard sometimes. I worry about it going against S.H.I.E.L.D. and I think I see how this plays out. The Mindy Project has been a critical darling, but never the strongest performer. I see Fox giving Brooklyn the post-New Girl slot for a few weeks just to see if that helps things. New Girl‘s lead-in really helped Mindy, and I think it could do the same for Brooklyn. If it works, though, what does that mean for Mindy? Fox doesn’t have another night for comedy at the moment…

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Speaking of questionable Fox choices, what’s the deal with the FX/FXX split? They shipped Sunny and The League over to the new FXX like it was a promotion, but was it? While Sunny is a longstanding performer for FX, it doesn’t have the clout of Archer or Louie – two shows that appear to be staying on FX. This almost seems like a vote of no confidence for FXX, especially when it could really benefit from having those two shows. What’s the point of FX as a network anyway, as everyone has already seen Taken and Iron Man by now. Isn’t that all they show? Are there big plans in store for FX other than burning off that 100-episode order of Anger Management?

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Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Don Jon is such a “wait for Redbox” movie that I wouldn’t be surprised if they co-produced it. It’s about a guy who learned everything he knows about relationships from porn. He sounds like everyone I went to high school with.

Last week, I was honored to be a part of the Nerds of Color videocast “Hard N.O.C. Life”, with special guests Larry Hama and Joseph Illidge. If you’re reading this site, you already know Larry (he created most of the characters for G.I. Joe!), but you may not know that Joe was editor of the Batman titles during the late 90s storylines such as “No Man’s Land”. I’ve actually known Joe for years, but it was great to talk to him in this forum. We discussed diversity in comics, the anniversary of Milestone Media, and more. You can check out the show here.

Links I Loved

Cynthia Rothrock in the Greatest Fight Scene EVAR! - The Robot’s Pajamas

Breaking Bad: How ‘Granite State’ Revealed Who the Flash-Forward Ricin is Intended For – UnderScoopFire

Deep Inside Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Taco – Fast Company

The Secret Behind Key and Peele’s Football-Player Names – Vulture

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Are Present, But Where’s Nick Fury? – Redheaded Mule

One is an aimless Fox show, while the other is an aimless Fox network. One is the TV version of The Avengers, while the other is the movie version of Jersey Shore. Only one, however, had the West Week Ever.

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I may not have loved it but a LOT of people did, as it was the highest rated scripted show of the night.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was good television. I’m still not convinced it’s going to be a weekly destination for me, but I’m just one person. It set Twitter ablaze, with folks either discussing it or bitching about spoilers. This show is gonna be a hit, so I’d be a fool to think it didn’t have the West Week Ever.

12th Sep2013

Con-flicted: My Trip to Baltimore Comic-Con 2013

by Will

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I go to Baltimore Comic-Con every year. This is nothing new for me. Still, something about this year’s show left me unfulfilled. I wanted to have some great two-part post like I did when I met Stan Lee. At the very least, I wanted to have a bunch of great cosplay pics to mock. Neither of those happened. I saw no real “stars”. Plus, I’ve been watching Heroes of Cosplay lately, and it has given me a new appreciation for cosplayers. It’s all about having fun and being comfortable in a skin, so why should I knock that? This is all a long winded way to say nothing at all.

Wanna smell like an old man? Sure, ya do!

Wanna smell like an old man? Sure, ya do!

I missed Saturday this year, as I had to go to CPR training at work. From Twitter friends, I heard that it was a crowded madhouse. From people on the floor, however, they told me that the crowds did not lead to dollars. Apparently sales were slow, and the crowd seemed sparse to me on Sunday. It’s nice that the show is gaining a higher profile, but with that comes all the stuff that shouldn’t be at a comic convention. For example, Geico had a gaming booth where they were giving away prizes and rate quotes. Next to them, someone was giving away a car. This is how it starts. In a few years, Hollywood’s gonna come a-knockin’.

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East of West cosplay, or so I’m told…

I’m kinda disgruntled when it comes to comics lately, as you could tell from recent posts on the medium. I’m just tired of spending money for stuff I’ve read before, but it’s not driving me into the arms of indie creators, either. I’ve been burned too much by them. So, I’m really on the fence with comics right now, meaning this wasn’t the best venue for me in my current state of mind. I went with a list of things I needed, but I found very little of it. As odd as this may sound, I didn’t feel like there were very many comic vendors this year. Sure, you could buy t-shirts and action figures, but some of the regular comic vendors were clearly absent. Kind of odd for comics to be in short supply at a comic convention. Don’t get me wrong – there were comic vendors, but not as many as I’ve seen in the past.And there were no deals to be had. I expected to go wild in dollar boxes, but all the stuff I needed was either cover price or above.

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IvyDoomKitty and Blyclops

I really wanted to see some cool cosplay, but I got there just as the costume contest was starting. It was planned to be 3 hours, and I didn’t want to miss out on prime floor time. Still, I got to see some pretty cool characters on the floor. Since “cosplay=/= consent”, I actually asked everyone if I could take their pic. Wanna see some pics? Sure ya do!

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Skelly’s metabolism ain’t what it used to be…

 

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WERK!

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This was one of SEVERAL  Zatannas.

This was one of SEVERAL Zatannas.

 

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According to the Baltimore City Paper, Storm here is a minor. Back off, pervs!

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The Princess of Power was kinda shy

 

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Deathstroke’s daughter never looked so good!

 

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I wonder if Raven knew Deathstroke’s daughter was in her midst…:

Usually they have to kick me out as the lights are being turned off, but I ended up leaving with hours to spare. Hell, I even left with money in my pocket! Something about it just didn’t click. I probably should’ve sat this year out, but I’m a sucker for tradition. Here’s my meager haul:

 

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So, at the end of the day, it was the Baltimore Comic-Con. I’m sure a bunch of people had fun, but I wasn’t one of them. I can’t put my finger on why, but it is what it is. I’m hoping that this weekend’s Retro Con makes up for it, as I’ll get to meet a ton of my Twitter pals! Will YOU be at Retro Con? Let me know in the comments!

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