20th Mar2015

West Week Ever – 3/20/15

by Will

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First off, thanks to everyone who read my Batgirl post, as I had my best traffic in over a year. Who knew that something I wrote in the middle of the night would garner that much discussion? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click the link!

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This week, I caught the series premiere of Transformers: Robots In Disguise and I don’t really know what I saw. Taking place years after Transformers: Prime, it features Bumblebee (voiced by Will Freidle) as the leader of a ragtag group of Autobots trying to recapture some Decepticons who had crash landed on Earth. I love Will Freidle and I love Bumblebee, but I I’m not sure I love Will Friedle as Bumblebee. Also, it was kinda jarring that the sequel to the CGI Prime is a standard 2-D animated show that looks more like the sequel to Transformers Animated. I’m not the biggest Transformers fan, so I kinda don’t have a horse in that race, but I still thought I’d check it out. It didn’t hold my attention, so I can only imagine how kids are gonna feel about it.

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On the cable front, I checked out Tammy. Yes, I know that some people hate Melissa McCarthy and, yes, I know that they trailer did a horrible job explaining what the movie was about. Still once it hit DVD, I knew I was gonna watch it. I’d meant to get it from Redbox, but it premiered on HBO last weekend. So, what is it about? Well, after a really bad day – where she finds out that her husband’s cheating on her and she’s fired from her job – Tammy (McCarthy) sets out on a road trip with her grandmother (Susan Sarandon). Was it funny? I thought so. It’s produced by Will Ferrell’s Gary Sanchez Productions, so you’ve kinda got an idea of the type of humor that it contains.

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Speaking of movies, some drama’s been going down concerning upcoming Aquaman, Jason Momoa. Apparently, he signed a fan’s poster with the words “Fuck Marvel”. While some folks are saying this was unprofessional, others are happy that he’s igniting a true cinematic rivalry between Marvel and DC. DC fans say that the Avengers stars run their mouths about how their movies are superior, so why is this any different? I think it’s more a case of the fact that Marvel’s proven its worth. Momoa’s untested and hasn’t even acted in anything yet in the DCU, yet he’s already knee deep in a “rivalry”. If Henry Cavill had said it, I’d take it, since he’s already gotten his feet wet with Man of Steel. As it stands, however, Momoa really doesn’t have anything to back himself up. Someone on Facebook tried to say that Momoa passed on being Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy, so clearly he must have more faith in DC by taking the Aquaman role. I beg to differ. I think he realized he’d made a mistake when GOTG went on to be HUGE and he jumped on the next train that came along. Anyway, let’s see who’s laughing when Dawn of Justice finally comes out.

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On the comics front, I got my hands on an advance copy of Archie vs. Predator #1. Sadly, I probably know more about Archie than I do the Predator franchise (I’ve never seen any of the movies). So, I’m sure some Easter eggs were lost on me. Still, the story should still be rather accessible, right? Wrong. It just doesn’t flow well. The characters’ personalities are off, as they seem to exist at extremes. Reggie’s REALLY a dick. Betty’s REALLY a dumb blonde. If Jughead had more than 2 lines, I’m sure he’d be REALLY hungry. It felt like a book made by someone with little familiarity with Archie for someone with little familiarity with Archie. On top of that, the level of gore that we get at the end of the issue doesn’t fit tonally with the rest of the issue. It reads like a “My First Archie Story” for kids, and then ends with eviscerated corpses hanging from trees. There are 3 more issues in the miniseries, but this one didn’t leave me with the desire to read more. I was expecting them to pull it off, like Archie Meets The Punisher, but this wasn’t on that level. If you love Archie or Predator, you’re gonna hate this.

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In the video game world, it’s rumored that game developer Hideo Kojima has left Konami. Now, I’m the furthest thing from a “gamer”, but I do know that he’s behind the highly successful Metal Gear franchise. That game series holds a special place in my heart, as I almost beat Metal Gear Solid II: Sons of Liberty, and that game’s theme is what I want played at my funeral. Seriously, just listen to it:

Anyway, if Kojima has left Konami, this will be a huge blow. Apparently, there’s been a falling out between Kojima Productions and Konami, and Konami has lashed out by removing Kojima Productions branding from Twitter and the Metal Gear website. For now, if he hasn’t left already, it’s believed that Kojima Productions will leave following Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes, as well as what happens to the Metal Gear series.

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It’s been confirmed that Toys “R” Us won’t be renewing their lease for the well-known flagship store located in the heart of New York’s Times Square. TRU has been in the space since 2000, and they occupy 110,000 square feet. This is a sad development that shows the current state of the toy market. In fact, the brokers are convinced that they won’t be able to find a single tenant for the entire space, so it’ll end up being divided. It’s rumored that TRU might actually lease retail space at the nearby Marriott Marquis, but I’m not sure if they’re going to take the giant dinosaur and the Ferris wheel with them to the new location. The move should take place next February.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-In the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic, one of the turtles was killed this week. Hint: It’s not the one who leads, the party dude, or the one who’s cool but rude.

-The series finale of Glee airs tonight. I’ve seen, like, no fanfare for this thing, so I wonder who even knows about it.

-a well known comic blogger was accused of cyberbullying a former comic editor, driving her to the point of PTSD. I’m not naming names ’cause at least one of them seems like to type to Google her name. Yeah, the blogger was a dick, and the editor never really seemed screwed on too tightly. That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

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-One of my tweets was used in an Essence.com recap of the Empire season finale.

-I joined the guys at Nerd Lunch to discuss TV series finales. The episode will go up Tuesday, and I’ll post a link in next week’s post.

-I’ve been obsessed with the ’60s group Jay and the Americans lately. Here’s their hit “Cara Mia”:

– The California Raisins are coming back in a live action/CG film

-President Obama might be buying the Magnum P.I. house

-Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Ruth Negga has been cast as Tulip in AMC’s Preacher adaptation.

Links I Loved
Batgirl Variant Cover Glorifies Sexual Violence | #CancelTheCover – Reappropriate

MTV Spring Break Used To Rule – Deadspin

The 100 Sexiest Women on Television | 2015 Edition – UnderScoopFire

Ranking Marvel’s Superhero TV Movies – The Robot’s Pajamas

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Community is the little show that could. After 5 seasons on NBC, it seemed like all was lost. Then, Yahoo stepped in and picked the show up to be featured under the Yahoo Screen banner. Well, the first episodes hit the Internet this week, and it was good to see the gang again. It was also kind of jarring to realize how much they’ve lost over the years. Troy’s gone, Pierce is dead, and now Shirley’s gone to her own spinoff (it makes sense when you watch the episode).

Certain things didn’t work. For example, Abed didn’t seem like himself. It’s like he’s trying to be a new person, and he no longer seems interested in imagining that they’re all characters in a sitcom. Also, things didn’t really work on a technical level, either. You see, Yahoo Screen can be viewed via a browser, but it can also be used through an Android or iOS app. The Android app is pretty janky, as it was constantly buffering – sometimes for periods up to 5 minutes. I thought it might’ve been my connection doing it, but I’ve read that others had the same issues. So, with that going on, it took about an hour to watch a 27 minute episode.

Certain things did work, though. The writing is still there, and it definitely feels like Dan Harmon work and not the episodes from the “gas leak season” (the one during which Harmon was fired). I also enjoyed the addition of Paget Brewster, as I’ve loved her ever since Joey and Chandler were fighting over her on Friends. Her character, Frankie Dart, seems like she’s there to keep the show grounded, but it’ll be fun to watch her get sucked into the madness that surrounds Greendale.

The show’s joke was always #sixseasonsandamovie, and they just might pull it off. It nothing else, they might get another season on Yahoo Screen. Either way, I was glad to see it back, so Community had the West Week Ever.

17th Mar2015

Much Ado About Batgirl

by Will

So, usually I’d just let this kind of thing go, or just drop a casual mention of it in West Week Ever, but I was inspired to say more about this particular thing. Last week, DC Comics revealed a variant cover for the upcoming Batgirl #41, which can be seen here:

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The cover, by Rafael Albuquerque is an homage to Batman: The Killing Joke – the 1988 graphic novel where The Joker shoots Batgirl/Barbara Gordon and paralyzes her. This was a violent and pivotal storyline, resulting in Barbara eventually adopting the role of Oracle to the DC Universe. The reason this cover is controversial, however, is because of this page from The Killing Joke:

Killing Joke

You see, after shooting her (in her Barbara Gordon guise), Joker then showed pictures of her, naked and bloody, to her father, Commissioner Gordon. Over the years, it has been surmised that Joker actually sexually assaulted Barbara before and/or during the photoshoot. The creative team of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland have never confirmed whether or not this was a depiction of the aftermath of a sexual assault. It’s really left open to interpretation by the reader. I can see where that idea comes from, with the S&M imagery of Commissioner Gordon’s garb to the facial expressions in the photos. That said, until DC Comics comes out and says “Yes, Barbara was raped” (and yes, they are just dumb enough to do that), then I’m going to assume that she was not. I don’t even think DC would go that far.

So that brings us to the variant cover above. Many people felt it was in bad taste because it harkened back to this assumed sexual assault. The Joker with his arm draped around her, holding a gun pointed downward, while her eyes fill with tears. The Internet heated up with demands for DC to cancel the cover, via the #CancelTheCover hashtag. Eventually, things got out of hand as death threats were being hurled around, and DC finally announced that they were cancelling the cover at the request of Albuquerque. Well, what do I think about all this? So glad you asked!

I think the Batgirl cover’s uncomfortable, but I also think that’s *the point*. There’s more storytelling in that image than anything current Batman writer Scott Snyder’s done. As my Twitter pal @Friginator put it,

It’s supposed to trigger a response in you. They want the reader to think that there are high stakes involved. That said, I’d probably cry if I were cornered by the guy who paralyzed me. He wouldn’t have had to have raped me to trigger that response. To me, the cover is just another Big 2 crossover tactic to make you think something worthwhile may actually happen in the book. That said, covers haven’t really correlated to a comic’s content in years. For all we know, Joker’s on the cover, but Batgirl’s probably saving the local coffee joint in the story (if you haven’t read recent Batgirl, she’s moved to the hip Burnside neighborhood, which is Gotham’s stand-in for Williamsburg). At the end of the day, it’s probably much ado about nothing.

I’m also surprised that this kind of uproar is the result of a VARIANT cover. If you’re not familiar with how the comic industry works, variant covers are considered incentives to the retailer. Let’s say a retailer typically orders 35 copies of Batgirl. DC would like retailers to order more copies, so as an incentive to do so, they’ll give the retailer a special cover if they increase their orders to, say, 50 copies. The idea is that the retailer can then sell that variant cover at a price that’ll make up the difference in copies that may never actually sell. It’s a common practice, and variants can be offered at any level. Some publishers offer a variant cover for every 10 copies ordered, while some high dollar variants are 1:100. In this case, there are 25 Joker-centric variant covers released in June to commemorate the character’s 75th anniversary. The main point that I’m trying to make is that these aren’t the regular covers going to consumers. Right now, it’s unclear as to what kind of ratio in which the variants will be shipped. People were worried about what kind of impression the Batgirl cover would make on a new reader, but that’s probably not the cover that a new reader will see. The regular, common cover of the book looks like this:

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This isn’t the first time in recent history that a variant cover has caused fan uproar. Just a few months back, Marvel commissioned a variant cover for Spider-Woman from noted erotic artist Milo Manara. After all of his years in the profession, Marvel had to know what it was going to get from him. The result was this:

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The uproar was deafening, though Manara just did what he had been asked to do. He did what he does best, and apparently that’s drawing apple bottoms on crazily-contorted superheroes. Whatever. The point is that Marvel couldn’t play dumb since they knew the guy’s resume, but they also didn’t want to alienate the fans. So, they canceled the cover. Which was a variant. Which most people would never see outside of the websites bashing it.

I can understand the side that opposed the cover, even if I don’t share that sentiment. What bothers me is the precedent that this sets. Kinda like the Robin Thicke/Marvin Gaye decision, I fear for what this means for the future of the comic industry. Are they going to have to run everything by The Mary Sue (popular website by and for female comic fans) before they approve it? Does Gail Simone (DC Comics’ most prominent female writer) have to give her approval for everything concerning women before it’s universally accepted by fans? Are all controversial comic decisions going to have to be approved by some sort of committee comprised of fans and professionals? Nobody needs to be hurling death threats over *comic books*, so this clearly escalated quickly. Did DC make the “right call”? Well, that’s in the eye of the beholder. In his statement following the cancellation of the cover, Albuquerque said, “I respect these opinions and, despite whether the discussion is right or wrong, no opinion should be discredited.” I think this whole thing uprising was a bit much, but that’s just my opinion. Convince me I’m wrong in the comments!

27th Feb2015

West Week Ever – 2/27/15

by Will

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No, I’m not gonna talk about that dress…

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The week started off with me watching After Earth, starring the men of the Smith clan. I know the movie bombed in North America, and I’m not exactly a “Will Smith fan”, but I really enjoyed it. More than that, I enjoyed Jaden. I know we’re supposed to hate him, since he’s insufferable in real life, but he brought such intensity to his role. I guess there was supposed to be a message in there, that Man ruined the Earth, turning it into something designed only to kill humanity. That message, whether sadly or thankfully, got lost. If it was supposed to be a cautionary tale, it failed on that account, but as a survivalist thriller, I thought it succeeded. Their accents were somewhat off-putting, but I guess that’s somewhat to be expected with it set 1,000 years in the future. It was an M. Night movie, but luckily there wasn’t a crazy twist at the end. I don’t say this often, but I’d watch it again. I’d never seen a Jaden Smith movie before, but I think I might like his acting. What’s happening to me?!

cloverfield

Next up, I finally watched Cloverfield. I’d been curious about it since it was in theaters, but it was never really “my kind of movie”. I don’t really do disaster movies, but I remember it had been shrouded in secrecy, and it was filmed in that “found footage” format. It was about what I expected it to be. I’m glad that the format eliminated the need to explain where the monster came from, or to even explain how/if it was defeated. It’s a shame we never got a sequel, as there are so many questions, but the format didn’t really allow for a sequel. If anything, it would have had to be the same night from a different point of view. I had no clue that TJ Miller was in that movie, but I was also surprised to see friend of a friend Ben Feldman in the film. Too bad his character probably died. Anyway, it was refreshing that the Black girl was the one to survive. At least I think she was Black. Maybe she was a halfy? Who cares. She lived. I didn’t hate it, but I don’t think I ever need to see it again.

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This week saw the season (?) finale of Marvel’s Agent Carter, and I’m surprised to say that I was sad to see it go. When they first announced the show, I thought it was a dumb idea. Nobody cares about Captain America’s stupid girlfriend. Then the show actually debuted, and I found myself drawn to that world. I came to enjoy it much more than I ever enjoyed Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,and I’d rather have 5 more seasons of Peggy Carter than stupid Skye/Daisy Johnson. As someone said on Twitter, Agent Carter did more with 8 episodes than S.H.I.E.L.D. has done with nearly 40. I know part of the problem is that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is so beholden to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while Agent Carter can get away with more, being set in the ’40s and all. Anyway, I have to admit that I need to rewatch the finale, as I was a little distracted when it actually aired. From what I caught, I felt kinda like it wrapped up a little too quickly. I know they only had 8 episodes to work with, but the finale felt somewhat rushed. Again, I need to rewatch it, as maybe my opinion will change. Ratings were never really stellar, with an estimated 4 million households tuning in every week, but S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s ratings haven’t been great since the premiere, so they’re pretty much in the same boat. I think it’ll get a second season, but we probably won’t hear anything until May. According to rumors, the character is in Avengers: Age of Ultron, so it’s safe to say that we haven’t seen the last of Peggy Carter.

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Deadline is reporting that The CW is in the early stages of developing an Arrow/Flash team-up spinoff, starring recurring characters from both shows. Some folks online are saying that it’s essentially a Justice League TV show, but it doesn’t sound like that to me. If anything, it seems closer to the Brave and the Bold team-up concept. I’m glad to see that Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer is joining the show, as I’ve come to like that character. They also announced that Caity Lotz, better known as Arrow‘s Sara Lance/Black Canary I, is involved, but it’s unknown if she’s playing the same character or a new one. This news is pretty surprising, as there had been rumors of that universe being expanded, but it was assumed that it would probably be an A.T.O.M. or Firestorm show down the road. I know that Flash is firing on all cylinders, but Arrow seems to have taken a bit of a turn in the “suspension of disbelief” department. I’m scared that they might be diluting the brand by rushing another show into development in that same universe – especially since CBS’s Supergirl is supposedly in the same universe, should they choose to cross them over. In Berlanti I trust, however, so I’ll just wait and see.

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Speaking of Supergirl, Calista Flockhart has been cast as Kara’s boss, Cat Grant. I’m not sure how I feel about this casting. If you’ve read Superman books recently, you know that Cat Grant is kinda of a cougary go-getter. If I had to cast the role, I probably would’ve gone with someone a little closer to Elizabeth Banks. Sure, she’s not at the point in her career where she has to do television, but that’s the age and look I would go for.

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DuckTales is coming back in 2017! Yeah, I guess this is good news, but I’d much rather have Darkwing Duck back. Anybody remember Quack Pack? It’s the follow-up to DuckTales where Huey, Dewey, and Louie were teens. Apparently, it was supposed to be an extension of Donald Duck shorts instead of DuckTales, which is why you never see Uncle Scrooge and other DuckTales characters. It seems like most people I know had checked out of The Disney Afternoon by the time that show came along.

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I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but I’ve become a fan of NBC’s The Slap. Sure, it’s got a dumb name, and seems built around a dumb premise, but it’s so much more than that. It really centers around a Greek-American family, and the drama that’s boiling beneath the surface in all of their lives. One character’s marriage is strained, and he’s falling for the teenage babysitter. Zachary Quinto plays a successful car broker, who has anger issues and is also cheating on his wife. Uma Thurman is a successful TV producer who’s dating a much younger man, and finds out that she’s pregnant by him. It all comes to a head one afternoon at a family party. A guest’s child is out of control, and when Quinto intervenes, the kid kicks him in the shin. As a reflex, Quinto slaps the kid in front of everyone. The kid’s parents go apeshit, and the party goes to hell quickly.

Here’s some backstory on the kid: Hugo’s 4 years old and he’s a little asshole. The whole party, he was throwing iPads and having tantrums. Meanwhile, his parents are hippies, and the mother still breastfeeds him (HE’S FOUR YEARS OLD!). He totally had something coming to him, but I guess it was up to his own parents to make that call. I’m completely fascinated by this, as it’s such a cultural thing. Had this been a Black cookout, the party would’ve kept going. When you employ the whole “It takes a village…” model of raising kids, you run the risk of someone else disciplining your child. It just comes with the territory. We live in a society now where people don’t want to raise a hand to their kids, but I just feel like this is the kind of show that could only really be dramatic at this time in history. Anyway, now the hippies are pressing charges against Quinto, Uma knows about Hector and the babysitter, and everyone’s life is in a spiral right now. It’s no Empire, but it’s still a really engaging show. If I had to compare it to something, I’d say it’s like an edgy Parenthood.

coke life

I’m a sucker for gimmick sodas, and my latest drink of choice is Coca-Cola Life. For lack of a better description, it’s what I would call a “pairing soda”. On its own, it tastes kinda janky. However, if you drink it with a meal, the food enhances the flavor and makes it taste like Pepsi. I guess I could cut out the middle man and just drink Pepsi, but I’m just kind of intrigued by how it all goes down. Coca-Cola Life is sweetened with Stevia, so it has fewer calories than regular Coke, but is much more caloric than Diet Coke. A 20 oz bottle of Coke Classic will run you about 240 calories, while the same amount of Coke Life will run you about 160 calories. Pepsi has followed Coke’s lead, releasing its own Stevia-sweetened cola, Pepsi True. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve got a bottle in my refrigerator, so I’ll update in the future.

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I debated whether or not to talk about this, as I sometimes think I write too much about Power Rangers – especially since Power Rangers fans don’t really give a shit about my opinion. Still, it was on everyone’s timeline this week, so it bears mentioning. Producer Adi Shankar released Power/Rangers – a dark and gritty short film starring Katee Sackhoff and James Van Der Beek. This film had everything you never wanted from Power Rangers, including machine guns, threesomes, titties, and curse words.

The movie kicks off with the Rangers, suited up, fighting with machine guns. It turns out that Rocky (Red) sold out to the evil Machine Empire, and he’s interrogating Kimberly (Pink) to discover the whereabouts of Tommy, the Green Ranger. So, I’ve got some questions. First off, why Rocky? He was the replacement Red Ranger, yet there’s no mention of Adam and Aisha – the replacement Black and Yellow Rangers. It just seemed like a reach to make him the traitor. And the machine guns? The Rangers are essentially magic, so why bring man-made weapons into the mix? And I don’t even want to get into the social implications of Zack’s interracial threesome.

At the end of the day, it was clear that this was not a love letter from a longtime fan of the franchise. Most fans realized this, and many took to social media to state how displeased they were. Meanwhile, the laymen who do’t realize there have been multiple incarnations of the franchise for the past 21 years, seemed to like it. All the podcast hosts and members of the Power Force (yeah, such a thing exists. Don’t get me started…) decried “THIS IS SHIT!” while most “normal” people were like, “Huh, that was kinda cool.” All day Tuesday, headlines ranged from “You Won’t Believe This Piece of Shit!” to “The Power Rangers Get Gritty And It’s AWESOME!” Needless to say, it was a very polarizing video. On top of that, Saban Brands has been trying to get the video taken down, as it infringes upon their trademarks, and doesn’t classify as “parody”. So far, it has been taken down from Vimeo (that was the version with the titties), and now it’s gone from YouTube, too. I can understand that, based on the tone and language, it’s not the kind of thing that Saban wants out in the world representing his product. Now, the debate has gone from whether or not the video sucked to whether or not it deserved to be taken down by Saban. Those opinions are just as polarized as the opinions on the clip’s quality.

It was clearly a well-done fan film, with great special effects, but at the end of the day, it wasn’t Power Rangers. It was something else entirely, but it just didn’t work as Power Rangers. It demonstrated a lack of knowledge of the source material, as Power Rangers can be gritty without being….whatever that was. Power Rangers has gone dark before. Check out Power Rangers RPM – I recommend it to anyone who’ll listen to me. This, however, ain’t Power Rangers.

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This week saw the series finale of Parks & Recreation. After 7 seasons, and 125 episodes, Leslie Knope dined at JJ’s Diner for the last time. Or at least, I guess she did; JJ’s wasn’t even shown in the episode. Anyway, the episode featured flash forwards to give us a glimpse into the futures of the characters we had come to love. April and Andy had kids, Craig got married, Donna became a real estate mogul, Tom became a motivational author/speaker, Gary/Jerry/Larry/Terry Gergich enjoyed multiple terms as Pawnee’s mayor, and Ron became the head of the Pawnee National Park. Meanwhile, Ben became a Congressman and Leslie ran for Governor of Indiana. We even got a flash forward for fan favorite Jean-Ralphio, as he faked his own death.

The first half hour wasn’t really high on laughs, and went more for the heartstrings. I felt like I was watching the Six Feet Under finale all over again, and didn’t really like the experience. The second half hour, however, felt like classic Parks & Rec, and we even got cameos from Ann and Chris. I’m kinda sad they never even attempted to mention Mark Brendanawicz, but the show really wasn’t very good when he was around, so I can forgive the omission.

By no means was I some kind of Parks & Rec superfan, but I always enjoyed it when I watched it. Its ratings were never anything to write home about, but it was NBC’s “little comedy that could”. Though it was initially developed as a pseudo-spinoff of The Office, I feel like its legacy will be much stronger once history has its say. For one thing, Amy Poehler didn’t leave the show before the end of its run, so it had that going for it. Also, Parks & Rec just got stronger, as the cast gelled and became a well-oiled machine. NBC definitely doesn’t have anything else on its schedule like it, and it will be a long time before a show that good comes along again. So, for giving us 7 seasons of laughs, and for going out on top, Parks & Recreation had the West Week Ever.

23rd Jan2015

West Week Ever – 1/23/15

by Will

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The week started out with me watching The Chernobyl Diaries, which was a departure for me because I’m not really into horror movies. I am, however, into most things Russian, and I’m fascinated by the abandoned city of Pripyat. If you’re not familiar with the whole Chernobyl incident, Pripyat was the city where the Chernobyl workers lived with their families. It’s just tons of apartment buildings and an amusement park. When the Chernobyl reactor blew, everyone had to evacuate immediately, without being able to gather most of their belongings. So, now Pripyat is a ghost town, where nature has reclaimed most of the land, and it just looks like everyone got raptured. It’s beautiful and eerie all at once.

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So, The Chernobyl Diaries was about a bunch of Americans on a European vacation who decide to take a side trip to explore Pripyat. Once they get there, however, their van is sabotaged, and they’re forced to try to survive in what is partially a nuclear wasteland. Spoiler Alert: they all die. What happens to them doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and I’m still kinda confused after having watched it 1.5 times (it aired again the next morning, and I caught the ending of it).I also don’t get why it has diaries in the title. There was nothing concerning a diary in the entire thing. This isn’t Anne Frank we’re talking about here. Where’s the damn diary?! Since I’m not a connoisseur of the horror genre, I can’t say whether or not I recommend it. Overall, was it a good movie? Not really.

maron2

I also started watching season 2 of Maron, now that it’s on Netflix. I’ve said it before, but I prefer Maron to Louie. I can relate to Marc Maron a lot more. He’s bitter, damaged, and he’s going through the whole “Why are my peers doing better than me?” thing. Sure, that doesn’t paint me in the best light, but I can understand where he’s coming from. He tackles things that speak to me, like how hard it is to make friends as an adult. There’s an episode where he thinks Ray Romano is becoming his friend, when Ray is really just making Marc his bitch. It’s funny and poignant at the same time. A lot of folks are fans of Maron’s podcast, but I’m not sure if they’ve all checked out his show. It’s a great chance to get a glimpse of the man behind the mic.

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In the world of television, it was announced that CBS has cast Melissa Benoist as their Supergirl. I can’t remember if this was ordered direct to series or if this is only for a pilot. In any case, it’s by Greg Berlanti, and the rumor is that his deal to produce the show was that it had to take place in the Arrow/Flash universe. People forget that CBS owns The CW, so it’s definitely doable, although CBS brass have said that a crossover wouldn’t happen too early in the show, as they want Supergirl to stand on her own two feet for a while. I know nothing about Benoist, since I still haven’t seen Whiplash and I dropped Glee years ago, so I have no real opinion on the casting. I’m not the biggest Supergirl fan, but in Berlanti I trust, so I’ll check it out.

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It was announced this week that Milestone Media would be returning to the world of comics. If you’re black, you’ll remember this as the comic company that gave us Hardware, Icon, Rocket and more. If you’re white, then you’ll know it as the company that gave us Static Shock. Yeah, 20 years later, and its only real legacy is Static Shock. I’m kinda conflicted by this news. On the one had, comics could use some diversity, and Milestone had the best shot at injecting that into the industry. However, as someone who has almost every issue of Hardware, I didn’t think they were that good. Maybe they were ahead of their time, and I just wasn’t the right age to be reading them, but Milestone books were just a little too ghetto for me. And I don’t say that because they were black. I say that because they were set in Dakota City, which just seemed like a dark, dank ghetto. There was no joy to the books. They fully encapsulated the EXTREME edge of 90s comics, and just added some color to the mix. That’s not really something I’m looking for in my comics today. The characters made an appearance in DC Comics a few years ago, and it’s not like they really set the night on fire over there. So, I’m not quite sure why this announcement came this week. According to the Washington Post article heralding its return, the creators only promise that the comics will be available both physically and virtually, but they didn’t announce a publishing plan, and they only hope to have some promo art ready by San Diego Comic Con. Right now, it just seems like they put the cart before the horse by announcing this now. I guess time will tell whether or not this was a good idea.

MarvelSecretWars

Speaking of comics, Marvel announced this week that this summer’s Secret Wars will essentially reshape their comic universe going forward. Ripped from the pages of Avengers and New Avengers, the Marvel Universe (616) and the Ultimate Marvel Universe (1616) will smash into each other, and the chips will fall where they may. As Editor In Chief Axel Alonzo stated, it’s like a pizza where some toppings will combine, while other toppings will fall off. the aftermath of the event will be the Marvel Universe going forward. I have so many thoughts on this, and it’d probably be easier to say than write, but this is the medium I have at my disposal, so let’s see how it goes.

What It Means for 616: This is a big deal for the mainstream Marvel Universe, as it serves as the first time that they’ve really embraced a universe-spanning reboot. Sure, DC Comics does this every 10 years through their Crises, but Marvel has pretty much managed to avoid having to do this by employing a loose, sliding timeline. Over 50 years of continuity were somehow crammed into a timeline of about 11 years as far as the characters were concerned. They’re essentially wiping this out for this new future. What’s odd to me, however, is that they’ve gone to great lengths to make the comics more like the movies. They introduced Agent Coulson to the comics, and they halfassedly created a black Nick Fury so that he’d be familiar to moviegoers. Now, they say that their goal ISN’T to make the movie and comic universes one and the same, but their actions say otherwise. So, why do all that only to just blow it all up now? Also, Marvel just did a whole diversity push with Falcon becoming Captain America and the debut of “She-Thor”. What happens to them? This also means that Marvel gets out of the corner it painted itself into in several instances. There’s no need to bring Wolverine back from the dead, because nothing matters anymore. There’s no need to return Steve Rogers to a younger age, because nothing matters anymore.

What it Means for 1616: This sounds like the death knell for the Ultimate Marvel Universe, which makes me sad. Created in 2000 as a newer, hipper take on the Marvel Universe, Ultimate Marvel reimagined classic heroes in modern settings. It was as if the Marvel Universe had started in the ’00s instead of the ’60s. I enjoyed the concept because, to me, it was like what it must have felt like to have been a fan in the 60s. The beginning of the line was full of excitement, as architects like Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis introduced us to modern takes on classic ideas. Spider-Man became Ultimate Spider-Man, a critically acclaimed, all-ages take on Spider-Man as a teenager. Avengers became The Ultimates, a widescreen Hollywood blockbuster of a book focusing on new versions of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and The Hulk. I became a dedicated fan of the Ultimate U, and I have a full run of every book that’s been released. It’s fair to say that the Ultimate Universe is near and dear to my heart. So, it saddens me to see what has become of the universe in recent years. Unlike in most comic universes, in the Ultimate Marvel universe, dead means DEAD. So, as they killed off known heroes, they never really did much to fill that void. As my friend, Jenn, said, recent Ultimate Marvel has simply been Spider-Man standing amid the littered corpses of reimagined X-Men. There’s only one jewel in the crown of the Ultimate Universe at the moment, and that’s the current Spider-Man, Miles Morales. I’ve written about him at length before, so I won’t get into all of that here. Let’s just say that Miles is one of my favorite characters in recent history. And it’s safe to say that he’s really the only thing left in the Ultimate Universe worth saving. So, I’m sure he’ll survive the event, but at what cost? What happens to his supporting cast, like best friend Ganke, or even his dad?

Anyway, Marvel tends to get West Week Ever quite often, but that’s usually for something that the movie division has done. The comic side of Marvel is constantly coming up with event after event – all promising to CHANGE THE MARVEL UNIVERSE FOREVER!!!! This is the first time, however, that I feel they may actually mean it. So, for that, Marvel Comics Secret Wars had the West Week Ever.

09th Jan2015

West Week Ever – 1/9/15

by Will

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Welcome to 2015! I hope, by now, you’ve all had a chance to read West YEAR Ever. If not, you can do it now. I’ll wait. Good? Cool. So, I had a stomach virus for most of last week, so I spent my time on the couch, watching DVR and Redbox. So, that brings us a movie-heavy WWE this week.

obvious child

I’ve been a fan of Jenny Slate ever since she accidentally said “Fucking” during a live SNL broadcast. So, I’ve especially loved whenever she popped up on shows like Parks & Rec and Married. When I heard about Obvious Child, I knew I’d never see it in theaters, but would pick it up on Redbox – which is exactly what I did. Plainly put, it’s an unlikely love story centered around an abortion. Slate’s character ends up pregnant from a one night stand, and immediately decides to have an abortion. The movie follows her as she shares her decision with the people around her, while also getting to know the father of the child. I highly recommend it, and one of the bonus features is the original Obvious Child short film from 2009, so it’s interesting to see how a 30 minute short was fleshed out into a feature-length film.

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Edge Of Tomorrow/Live. Die. Repeat. really wasn’t what I’d call “my type” of movie, which is why it surprised me that I really enjoyed it. If you haven’t seen it, it’s Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers. Tom Cruise plays a communications officer who finds himself on the front lines of a war against alien invaders. Due to ingesting the blood of one of the aliens, he finds that every time he’s killed, the day resets to right before he’s placed in his unit. Cruise may be crazier than a shithouse rat, but he’s really hard to dislike. He’s great in the role, and Emily Blunt is a surprising action hero. If the talks of her becoming Captain Marvel are serious, I’m certainly on board, as they could do a lot worse. The thing I found funny about the movie is that the invasion seemed like a European problem. Sure, the invaders would probably eventually make it to America, but part of me was like, “Why are we in this war again?”

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Wish I Was Here is an interesting little film. Did you see Garden State? If yes, then you’ve basically seen Wish I Was Here. Zach Braff only seems to know how to write one type of movie. They’re not exactly “coming of age” tales, but it’d be more appropriate to call them “failing into adulthood” movies. They focus on that unrest that precedes quarterlife/midlife crises, and that feeling of “There’s got to be something more”. This movie was somewhat controversial because Braff sought out Kickstarter to get financing for the film. A lot of people felt that Kickstarter is for the up and coming creator, and not an established writer/director like Braff. At its core, the movie is about Braff as he tries to get some meaning out of life as his father dies from cancer. Yeah, it’s bit of a downer, though it does have its bright moments. As much as it was fan service, my favorite scene was probably the Guy Love reunion of Braff and Donald Faison. There are several outtakes on the disc of just this scene, which shows that those guys still have great chemistry all these years since Scrubs.

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The Incredible Burt Wonderstone was actually a decent movie. Steve Carrell and Steve Buscemi play a magician team whose act grows stale once a new, radical street magician (Jim Carrey) hits the scene. That’s pretty much it. Olivia Wilde plays their assistant. There aren’t any twists or turns, and it’s a pretty straight-forward riches-to-rags-to-riches story.

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Non-Stop, or as I like to call it “Taken To The Skies”. Seriously, one day, when you find that 4-movie Liam Neeson collection in Target, this is the movie that’ll be in the #4 slot, along with the other 3 Taken movies. He’s basically playing the same guy, only now he’s on a plane. The interesting thing about this movie is that the cast is wasted on the material. You’ve got Julianne Moore, Lupita Nyong’o and Lady Mary from Downton Abbey.  Apparently, it was filmed in 2012, but didn’t come out until last year, so they were just waiting for the supporting cast  to have a bit more heat on them before releasing it. At its core, it’s a message about how “safety” in the post-9/11 world is just an illusion, but it’s a pretty clunky delivery method for that message.

skeleton twins

The Skeleton Twins was not what I expected at all. If you told me that Kristin Wiig and Bill Hader were doing a movie together, I would’ve told you it would be a guaranteed laugh riot. And I would’ve been wrong. God, this was a dark movie. It basically begins and ends with a suicide attempt, so that should let you know what you’re getting into. Hader goes through a breakup with his boyfriend, so after an unsuccessful suicide attempt, he goes to stay with his sister (Wiig), who’s struggling with issues of her own. The movie does have some funny moments, like the “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” singalong, but it’s a dramedy with full emphasis on the drama.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, either. I don’t hold any of the TMNT movies in that high of regard, so it pretty much held its own with the rest of them. That said, I did have some issues with the cultural misappropriation. In the past, the turtles were just teenagers, but something about them this go-round made them seem more like minority teenagers. They were either Black or Puerto Rican, but there was some ethnic stuff in there that hadn’t been a component of turtles past. Look at the bandanas, which hang more like du-rags, or the sagging pants on Mikey. Something about that just kinda bothered me. Also, as dumb as Splinter’s origin seemed in the original movie (kung-fu rat who mutated), it seemed even dumber in this version (mutated rat who teaches himself martial arts from a book he found in the sewer). I also didn’t really buy Megan Fox as April. I feel like she really tried her best, bless her heart, but that wasn’t good enough. I get that it’s a movie for kids, but I feel like even a smart kid could pick out the plot holes in the movie. For example, why does Sacks have a ton of deadly chemicals in the spire of his building BEFORE he even knows there’s a cure out there in the form of the mutagen. After all, he thought the mutagen was lost, so why would he create this doomsday device without the antidote?

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Man of Steel is certainly a movie. A joyless hunk of a movie. I’ve never been much of a Superman fan, but it’s amazing to contrast this with the Christopher Reeve movies. He brought such wonder to the role. You wanted to be Superman. I don’t wanna be Henry Cavill’s Superman. That dude’s just built and sad. Who do you think gets the FEMA money first? Metropolis or Smallville? Those were the kinds of questions I was asking myself during the fights. And, seeing as how the Snyder/Nolan DC films take themselves so seriously, are we still supposed to believe that humans are dumb enough to be fooled by a pair of glasses? I get that these movies are about suspension of disbelief, but that’s not how this was filmed. This seemed to want to be a realistic take of “What would happen if we found an alien amongst us?” I thought that the movie was going to give up the identity of Clark Kent, and I felt that was a bold direction in which to take the character. This Superman would just be Superman all the time. Then, they went and made him a reporter at the end, which is just an insult to the intelligence of everyone involved.

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A Million Ways to Die In The West was much better than I’d been led to believe. I’m pretty much a Seth MacFarlane disciple, so he can do very little wrong as far as I’m concerned. I’m still willing to call him out when there’s a misstep (like this year’s Christmas episode of Family Guy), but I’m typically a booster of everything that he does. The movie bombed in theaters, so I figured it had to be bad if his other fans didn’t support it. That wasn’t the case, though. I think the idea of a comedic western is just polarizing to a lot of people. In some circles, Blazing Saddles is the gold standard of that genre, and can’t be touched. I’m gonna say something that might be blasphemous to some, but I never really found Blazing Saddles all that funny. Sorry, but I didn’t. I’m not a fan of the west (ironic, I know), so I can understand others not jumping at the chance to watch this movie. Having seen it, however, I LOVED it.

What else happened this week? Oh yeah, someone went into my car and stole some stuff that I was planning to donate. I can’t say they “broke” in, as I had left it unlocked, but I was in my mom’s driveway, so I figured it was safe. I got back in the car several hours later, and noticed the donation bag gone. And I think they stole my GPS (I’m not sure, and it was almost obsolete anyway). In any case, I hope they’re happy with their dictionary of real estate terms and some Harley Davidson puzzles.

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The was an Ant-Man teaser released this week. It was kinda meh. If you want a good scene-by-scene takedown, check out this post from my pals over at The Robot’s Pajamas.

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I’ve been looking forward to Galavant ever since I wrote my ABC fall preview post. Now that it has actually aired, I’m not quite sure where I stand with it. I finally watched the two-episode premiere the other night, and while I enjoyed it, I have to agree with some critics that the pacing somewhat hurts it. Whose idea was it to make this a 30-minute show? And to air it in one-hour blocks? Lately, networks have embraced the “burn-off” technique of airing shows (NBC with Parks & Rec, for example), but it really is to the detriment of the show itself. It’s almost like a vote of no confidence, and it’s the network saying “We paid for this, so we might as well air it.” I was a musical theatre kid, so I love the musical aspect of the show. Still, I found myself unable to fully pay attention to everything going on. Knowing it’s only a 4-week “event” is good because it shows that it will actually have an ending, but it almost makes me want to wait and watch it all once it’s over. It just doesn’t feel like the kind of thing I’ll watch in real-time, and I feel no obligation to try to “save” it since the season’s already been shot. It’d be great if it could get a second season, but I never had high expectations for the show. I was excited for it, but I knew it’d be a long shot. If it doesn’t do well, ABC can just spin it as “Hey, it was just a special event, and was never meant to be a regular series.”

I’m probably the last person to know about this, but I found it hilarious. My pal Keith showed it to me on New Years, and made me promise to mention it this week. In any case, I’m really impressed by all the artistry that went into making this. I can’t really say much more about it, so just watch:

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

– USA canceled Covert Affairs after 5 seasons

-John Travolta was cast as Robert Shapiro in FX’s OJ biopic American Crime Story

-Marvel’s Daredevil series will debut on Netflix on 4/10/15

-It was announced that the X-Men spinoff Gambit will be released on 10/7/16 – giving us 3 X-Men movies in one year.

-Neil deGrasse Tyson is getting his own weekly talk show, called Star Talk, on Nat Geo. Yay.

-Bob’s Burgers was renewed for season 6

agent carter

The week belonged to Agent Carter. Spinning off of the successful Captain America: The First Avenger, Agent Carter follows SSR Agent Peggy Carter as she battles nefarious foes in post-WWII America. While she could’ve gone down in the annals of movie history as simply “Captain America’s girlfriend”, Agent Carter found a way to make her a strong character in her own right. Every review I read gushed over how it was this bold step for women. I don’t know if I’d go that far. It was better than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so it’s got that going for it. Personally, I don’t like the Agent Carter character. She’s kind of a bitch, without a sympathetic side. Sure, she’s doing the whole “People who get close to me get hurt” thing, but there’s really no evidence of that so far (well, except for her dead roommate). Still, the episode did rather well, and it accomplished its goal of keeping the audience excited about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So, for all of that, Agent Carter had the West Week Ever.

19th Dec2014

West Week Ever – 12/19/14

by Will

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Welcome to post #900! Actually, I’ve written a whole lot more than that, but I cleaned up my archives a few years ago, so this is post #900 of version 2.0 of the site. Anyway, let’s get to the pop culture news that you love so much!

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There’s no bigger news this week than Sony and their handling of The Interview. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, Sony was set to release The Interview on Christmas Day, wherein Seth Rogan and James Franco’s characters are tasked with killing North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. This led to the Sony hacks, which we talked about last week, which have been traced back to North Korean hackers. Next, they issued terrorist threats that there would be 9/11-ish attacks if the movie were to be released. Sony balked, and decided to cancel the theatrical release of the movie. This sets an interesting precedent as, to some, it means that “the terrorists won”.

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I’ve discussed this on Twitter, but I’m torn. I think it goes without saying that it was a pretty irresponsible film to make. Sure, Team America got away with it, but that was a different dictator and a different time. And they were puppets. I’m sure it all seemed like it was “in good fun”, but you run a risk when you mock a sitting dictator. I don’t quite see how there was a “right” answer here. To remove the movie from theaters, it appears that we gave in to terrorist threats. To have shown the movie, with the threats out in the open, it would’ve been just as irresponsible as making the movie in the first place. If people had been killed, what then? And don’t say we’d go to war. This is America, so we’d do what we always do when there’s mass death: NOTHING. At least that’s how we treat our own terrorists. Anyway, it just seemed like a no-win situation. Sucks, ’cause I definitely planned to watch it once it came to Redbox. At the moment, though, there are no plans for DVD or Video On Demand. So, The Interview will probably end up one of the most sought after movies of our generation, and I bet it’s not even that good. I mean, it’s being marketed as “From the guys who brought you Neighbors“, which I found to be a serviceable, yet forgettable, movie.

Craig Wayne Boyd

Craig Wayne Boyd won this cycle of The Voice. As a member of Team Blake, he maintained Blake Shelton’s dominance as he’s the 4th Team Blake winner in the show’s history. Since winners of The Voice never really go anywhere, this is probably the last time you’ll see his name. Unless he ends up killing someone. He’s got one of those assassin names.

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It was announced that The Help/How To Get Away With Murder actress Viola Davis has been cast as Amanda Waller in DC’s Suicide Squad movie. I’m kinda disappointed because they’re clearly going for New 52 Waller. For you non comics folks, allow me to explain: When Amanda Waller first appeared, she looked like everyone’s Black aunt. She was short, fat, and full of attitude, but she was a BOSS. She was behind some of the most secret aspects of the superhero world, and she got shit done. About 3 years ago, DC Comics initiated The New 52, where they restarted most of their series from scratch (initially released as 52 new comic titles), and reimagined a lot of their characters. As a result, the new, modernized Amanda Waller is svelte and pretty, much like her depiction in Arrow. She’s still a ballbuster, but I feel that Waller’s physical appearance was so integral to her character. I mean, they didn’t call her “The Wall” for nothing, and it just seems like another example of comics wasting the opportunity to create something real. Anyway, while I wanted CCH Pounder for the role, she doesn’t currently have the heat of Davis. I was sort of holding out hope that they’d let Angela Bassett reprise the role from Green Lantern, but there was no chance of that happening. If they had to go with someone whose star is rising, then I’m pretty pleased with the casting of Davis.

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Also in comic movie news, the word on the street is that Andrew Garfield is out as Spider-Man. Sony doesn’t really know what to do with the Spider-Man franchise at the moment, and if Spider-Man does eventually merge with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel’s gonna want their own guy. This saddens me, as I loved Garfield’s Peter Parker. I know people hate those movies, but I don’t think they’re that bad. What do I know, though? I also love the Daredevil movie. Still, it’s a shame that Garfield won’t get to fill out his own trilogy, and it just adds more unneeded turmoil to the whole Spider-Man franchise.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-The Colbert Report wrapped up its 9-year run last night, as Stephen Colbert prepares to host The Late Show on CBS

-Kris and Bruce Jenner are officially divorced

-Due to our renewed relationship with Cuba, you can now enter the United States with $100 worth of Cuban cigars

-Former Florida governor Jeb Bush announced that he’s looking into a Presidential run in 2016

-7th Heaven‘s Stephen Collins has admitted to having inappropriate sexual contact with underage girls between the years of 1974 and 1994.

-Christina Aguilera will be returning for the next cycle of The Voice

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Nothing dominated my week quite like Syfy’s miniseries Ascension. Originally conceived as a 6 episode miniseries, Syfy chose to burn it off over three nights in 2-hr chunks. Where to even begin with this? OK, in 1963, an organization launched Ascension – a spaceship on a 100 year mission to colonize a new planet called Proxima. When the the series starts, the crew is at year 51 of their mission. Since they have been away from Earth for all that time, they missed out on so many social movements, like Civil Rights, the Sexual Revolution and more. On the flip side, they also missed Vietnam, 9/11, and the last season of Roseanne. They’ve created their own class system, based on the deck on which you reside. The lower deckers are the poor, while the higher decks are home to the more affluent passengers. A seemingly idyllic existence is interrupted when a murder takes place on the ship, where the victim was shot. This is notable because no guns were allowed when the ship launched, and this is the first report of one in the past 51 years. This throws the ship into chaos, as they try to solve the murder mystery. I kinda thought of it as a grown-up version of Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy (space station launched to colonize new planet), and I was OK with that.

Then, everything you thought you knew is thrown out at the end of the first installment. We find out that Ascension NEVER really left Earth! It’s really more of a social experiment to see if humanity could survive such a journey, but the ship and its passengers have been in a secret bunker for the past 51 years. Then the series bounces between the murder mystery on the ship and the folks on Earth trying to protect the secret. There’s sex, there’s Tricia Helfer ass shots, there’s a little girl with powers, and Billy from Ally McBeal was something of a mad man. It was such a mindfuck of a miniseries, which was clearly a 6-hour pilot. I say that because nothing was answered, and the whole thing felt rushed over the 5.5 hours that it had to tell its story. To be honest, I don’t even know if they even solved the murder mystery. It’s just so engaging, even though there are 8,000 things going on at once. Is this what people felt when they watched Lost? There HAS to be another miniseries or regular series coming because this was definitely setting up something big. If you didn’t get the chance to see it, Syfy will be showing all three parts over the next few days; I highly recommend you check it out. For keeping me on the edge of my seat, and constantly checking googling to see when the follow-up is coming, Ascension had the West Week Ever.

Happy Hanukkah & Merry Christmas!

05th Dec2014

West Week Ever – 12/5/14

by Will

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So, this whole time I’ve been watching Netflix, I totally forgot that I have movie channels as part of my cable package now. So, over the past week, I’ve had the DVR working overtime to record some movies that I’d wanted to see but never got around to watching. The first movie I watched was The Internship, starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. While I was expecting Wedding Crashers 2, I got something completely different. Vaughn and Wilson star as former watch salesmen who put themselves in the running for jobs at Google after their company folds. As part of their internship, they’re teamed up with a bunch of other “outliers” who also hadn’t been chosen for teams. So, this team of leftovers has to compete against overly ambitious tools in order to win the chance to work for Google. Because their characters were salesmen, and due to their slimy performances in Wedding Crashers, I kinda expected the same thing from Vaughn and Wilson in this movie. Surprisingly, they’re really nice, genuine guys in this film; I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but they really served as older, experienced mentors to the other interns on their team. They didn’t try to hook up with young girls, and they didn’t fast talk their way out of trouble. In all, it was surprising characterization in what was otherwise a predictable story. The weird part, though, is how the entire movie is just a commercial for Google and its products. I haven’t seen anything this blatant since 1989’s The Wizard. I checked the wiki page to see if Google invested any money in the project, but of course there’s no information about those kinds of things. I can see why nobody saw this in theaters, but it’s not bad if you catch it on TV on a boring Saturday afternoon.

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Next up was Delivery Man. THIS was the Vince Vaughn I was looking for. This could have been a spiritual successor to Dodgeball, as it’s not the same type of humor, but Vaughn plays the same type of character as Dodgeball‘s Peter LaFleur. He’s a down on his luck, middle-aged man saddled with massive debt and no direction in life. This all changes when he finds out that he has 532 biological children due to a mixup at a sperm bank he’d donated to years ago. The center had fallen on hard times, so for several years, it relied solely on his sperm samples for its clients. Now, the kids are of legal age, and have decided that they have a right to know who their father is. Due to confidentiality agreements Vaughn signed when he first donated the sperm, the kids aren’t allowed to know his identity. So, the movie is about how he secretly gets to know his kids, while they are fighting in court to get him to reveal his identity. Like The Internship, it’s a fairly predictable movie, but it’s not without its moments. I hate when people say they got “the feels”, but there are some moments with a lot of heart. This is another film worth watching on cable if you catch it when it’s on.

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Finally, I watched The World’s End, with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and those guys. Out of director Edgard Wright’s “Cornetto Trilogy”, I liked it more than Shaun of the Dead, but not as much as Hot Fuzz. Five old friends reunite to recreate a pub crawl they’d started 20 years ago, but never completed. While on the pub crawl, they start to realize things don’t seem right in their old hometown. They discover that much of the population has been replaced by robots, and the pub crawl turns into them running for their lives. My favorite aspect of the movie was that this time Nick Frost is basically the straight man, while Simon Pegg is the fuckup. The ending was kinda wonky, though. Still not sure I know what to make of it all. If you’re a fan of Pegg, however, I’m sure you’ve already seen it, so I’m preaching to the choir.

OK, so there’s been something controversial in the news that I haven’t really been talking about. It’s already polarizing, and has ended some friendships. I’ve come to a place in my life where I don’t like to comment on something if I don’t have all of the facts, and in this case, I have to say that I’m not too well-versed in the major bullet points. It also involves issues of race, which is never a fun topic. Yes, I’m talking about the Star Wars teaser trailer. Didn’t love it, but didn’t hate it. Already, folks have written too many words about the new lightsaber that everyone’s losing their minds over. I’m not a big enough Star Wars fan to have any strong emotions about it, but it’s definitely got me curious.

Squad

Speaking of movies, the cast of DC’s Suicide Squad film has been announced, and it includes Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. Deadshot is not black, so you can imagine the outcry from fans online. My issue with the casting is that it simply makes Deadshot less interesting. Will Smith only plays Will Smith, so he won’t really bring any nuance to the character. Anyway, Suicide Squad is about a bunch of criminals who are chosen for suicide missions because nobody would miss them. It’s always been an interesting comic book, but I don’t know how it’ll play as a movie, especially since they’ve added The Joker (Jared Leto), who wouldn’t really work in that environment. Yeah, that’s another problem I have with this movie – The Joker. They know they need him for name recognition, but he would never be a member of the squad, as he doesn’t work well on teams.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-The Girl Meets World Christmas episode, featuring the original Boy Meets World cast, airs tonight on Disney Channel.

-Marvel went against my choices, and cast Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones and Mike Colter as Luke Cage for the Netflix series.

-Speaking of Marvel, Benedict Cumberbatch was confirmed as Doctor Strange in the upcoming movie.

-Wrestler CM Punk went on Colt Cabana’s podcast to explain why he left WWE. I HATE Punk, but I think I gained an ounce of respect for him after listening to that show.

-Ryan Reynolds has officially signed on to play Deadpool

-90s heartthrob Andrew Keegan formed his own religion.

-TV adaptation of the comic Preacher has been picked up by AMC.

-Madonna named the world’s richest recording artist, with an estimated worth of $800 million

-Terminator: Genisys trailer was released. Still looks like a fan film.

-The 24th James Bond movie was announced. Spectre will star Daniel Craig, Cristoph Waltz, and Monica Belluci

-Parks & Recreation to be burned off with back to back episodes every Tuesday in January. Series finale is set for Feb 24th.

-Fox cancelled Red Band Society at 13 episodes, and has left it off its Spring schedule.

-NBC is ending production on Constantine at 13 episodes, but says that a second season is still possible. Fans are now clamoring for said second season, though it’s pretty safe to say that the show is done.

Olivia

-Twitter got on the case to determine the identity of #oliviafromsonic. Then, it turned out she was a high school junior, and it felt like a Dateline trap.

Links I Loved

Re-Creating My Dad’s Long Lost 1986 Treadmill Mix Tape – UnderScoopFire!

It Happened To Me: Nick Took Over My School And Wouldn’t Leave – ClickHole

A Former Welfare Kid On Why Donating Toys Matters – The Robot’s Pajamas


Too Many Cooks (Looping Cello Version) – YouTube

flarrow

Gotham and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have their fans, but nobody does comic book drama like The CW. Three seasons ago, they roared onto the scene with Arrow, detailing the exploits of Oliver Queen and his allies as they try to protect Starling City. This season, we got The Flash, as Barry Allen does the same thing for Central City. While the heroes met briefly last season on Arrow, before Barry got his powers, this week was the first time that we got a superhero team-up between the two. On Tuesday night, Arrow, Diggle, and Felicity traveled to Central City on a case, and ended up meeting The Flash and his allies. Barry gets into a fight with villain Roy G. Bivolo, which made him experience extreme hatred, leading to a fight with Ollie. Meanwhile, Dr. Wells and the Flash crew discovered that Oliver Queen was The Arrow. It was a thrilling hour, and that was only part 1 of their interaction. Now, I’ve got to be honest – I didn’t watch the Arrow episode because I’m still in the middle of season 2 in my bingewatch, and I didn’t want to be spoiled by anything. The Flash episode dropped one little tidbit that I hadn’t gotten to yet in Arrow’s second season, but it didn’t spoil too much. Since the Arrow episode would be more entrenched in the goings on of Starling City, I decided to wait it out until I catch up. From what I’ve read, though, part 2 was just as good as the first. These are thrilling comic-based shows that make us excited about their universe, which I can’t say about the aforementioned Gotham, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is finally starting to understand. In any case, for knocking off my socks with their team-up, The Flash/Arrow Teamup had the West Week Ever.

17th Oct2014

West Week Ever – 10/17/14

by Will

photovisi-download (2)

 

oie_922142seDasWF9

2014-10-12 11.59.49

The week started with a quick trip up to NYC for the New York Comic-Con. I hadn’t been to the show in years, as it tends to fall on the weekend of my anniversary. You see, the show used to kick off the convention season in February, and then someone got the bright idea to move it to October, thus thwarting my plans! I caught an early morning bus, and got to the show about noon. Remember how I got into Toy Fair? Well, seeing as how the show was sold out, I employed a similar tactic to gain access to NYCC. My name for the day was “Juan” (When I was gonna write a standalone post recapping the show, I thought about calling it “Juan For The Road”, but I got lazy).

2014-10-12 13.03.10

Anyway, after about 10 minutes on the show floor, this chick came up to me and gave me a card about a Dark Horse series called Concrete Park. I looked at the card, and knew she only gave it to me because I was black. I looked up at her, and blurted out, “Hey, I know you!” It was actress Erika Alexander, better known as Cousin Pam from The Cosby Show/Maxine Shaw from Living Single. She had written the comic, and told me to come by the Dark Horse booth at 1 for a free signing. I later went to that signing, and got the above pic taken with her.

2014-10-12 12.28.04

Soon afterwards, I met up with my pal, Jay, and we tried to navigate around the show floor. There were simply too many people there. With a reported 151,000 attendees over the weekend, NYCC is now even bigger than San Diego Comic Con. There have been a lot of articles lately blaming cosplayers for the decline of convention commerce. The argument is that cosplayers jam up the walkways, and take attention away from the professionals trying to make a living. Up til now, I’d been on the side of the cosplayers, as I thought this was just a case of sour grapes from the comic folks. After NYCC, however, my opinion has changed. They really do congregate at the WORST places for photo ops, and it was hard enough to get through as it was. I saw a lot of great cosplay, and would love to have taken pics for a blog post, but I wasn’t about to add to the traffic jam. It’s a shame because there was so much great stuff to see, but no time or space to enjoy it.

2014-10-12 12.51.30

Jay had a 2:00 bus to catch, so after he left, I finally got to meet my Twitter pal @bionicbigfoot (Chris). We’ve been trying to meet for some time, and I’d missed him at Toy Fair. He’s a great guy and the best Archie historian around! At the same time I met him, my buddy @Tekcorps (“Sprocket”) came up and we all walked the show floor together. They got some great deals on dollar box comics, but I just couldn’t find anything to spend money on. The toy selection wasn’t that great, and I couldn’t find any comics that I needed to fill gaps. Still, it was great hanging out with those guys, as it definitely made the trip worthwhile. After Chris left to do an interview, Sprocket and I headed to Artist Alley to see what we could find. It was there that we ran into Twitter buddy @T16Skyhopp (Nik). Since the show was winding down, Sprocket and I decided to leave before the mass exodus of people. We were both headed to Penn Station, so we were gonna split a cab. Unfortunately, we found ourselves on the wrong side of the street of the first available cab. We walked out into the street just as the light turned green, and almost got his by a bus! Let’s just say the cabbie wasn’t too pleased with our stunt, but our money was green, so… Anyway, Sprocket hung out with me as I waited for my bus, and I got to know a lot about him, Eventually, we parted ways, and I headed back home. In all, it was a great trip, but not necessarily because of the convention. The show, itself, was just too much. I’ve been to San Diego, and this felt worse than that. I don’t really like crowds, so this was not the place to be. I didn’t really get anything awesome, and I took part in virtually NO convention programming. What made it a great trip, however, were the people. It’s always great to put a face to a Twitter name, and I look forward to hanging out with them again at Toy Fair. Oh yeah, I’m going back. I just need to figure out who I’m gonna be…

 

Civil War

So, some pop culture news. Reports surfaced that Robert Downey Jr. would be appearing in Captain America 3, seemingly kicking off the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s version of the Civil War storyline. If you’ve never read it, Civil War featured Iron Man and Captain America on opposite sides of an ideological battle. Following the destruction of Stamford, Connecticut, the public calls for regulation of super beings, complete with registration with the government. This was the side that Iron Man chose. The Cap side, however, believed that registration was a violation of their rights, and that they had no reason to make their identities public. As we saw in The Winter Soldier, Cap is already in a place where he doesn’t exactly trust his government, so things are likely to get worst before they get better for him. Still, this movie isn’t coming out until 2016, which feels so far away, so I’m going to wait to get excited about it.

trinity

Speaking of comic movies that are so far away, Warner Bros finally revealed their plans for their comic book movie universe. Ten movies are slated through the year 2020, and the list includes:

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice directed by Zack Snyder (2016)
Suicide Squad directed by David Ayer (2016)
Wonder Woman starring Gal Gadot (2017)
Justice League Part One directed by Snyder, with Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill and Amy Adams reprising their roles (2017)
The Flash starring Ezra Miller (2018)
Aquaman starring Jason Momoa (2018)
Shazam (2019)
Justice League Part Two directed by Zack Snyder (2019)
Cyborg starring Ray Fisher (2020)
Green Lantern (2020)

Where to even begin? It looks like the reports of Momoa as Aquaman were correct, but it’s a shame what’s happening with The Flash. This news should’ve been announced at SDCC, before the premiere of The Flash. Instead, they allowed The Flash to break CW viewing records, and now folks are falling in love with a hero who won’t get a shot at the big screen. This is reminiscent of when Brandon Routh was cast in Superman Returns, while Smallville was a television hit. Things didn’t work out so well for Routh (who now finds himself on the TV version of a DC franchise, Arrow), and I don’t see it working out for Ezra Miller. I don’t know anyone who wants a Cyborg movie, but it shows DC beating Marvel to the punch in terms of diversity, as the slate includes a solo movie for a woman and a black hero. Still, Marvel has several mystery movies that haven’t been announced yet, so they could still shock us by announcing Black Panther or Captain Marvel. I think it’s funny that the Shazam movie is 5 years away because it’s almost like they’re waiting for a star to rise who can hold his own against The Rock. It’s odd that they would cast the charismatic actor as the villain, as there really isn’t anyone who can currently match him onscreen. It almost would’ve made more sense for them to have cast him as Captain Marvel, which would’ve been terrible casting, but would’ve solved the problem of needing a hero with star power. Anyway, I’m sure there are folks out there excited by this news, but I’m not one of them. It’s not the projects themselves that leave me wanting, but it’s the fact that they’re so far away.

Tyrus

In wrestling news, my recently-released favorite WWE wrestler, Brodus Clay, has resurfaced in Total Nonstop Action as “Tyrus”. I love me some Brodus Clay, but I don’t love him enough to watch TNA Impact every week. I just can’t do that to myself. So, I wish him luck, but I’ll catch up with him when he eventually makes his way back to WWE.

This has not been a great week for me on Twitter. First off, some dude called me a “Geekmudgeon” because I hate-watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s just not a great show, and it’s too bad people can’t see that. Anyway, it escalated to the point where I ended up blocking him, and I never block anyone! Things got worse, however, the next day. You see, I had missed the premiere of Casey Wilson’s Marry Me, and tweeted about it. In that tweet, I also kinda mentioned that the fact that it starred SNL alum Tim Meadows meant that it wouldn’t last. It’s true! Look at his IMDB! Anyway, guess who Twitter searched his name?

meadows

Not only did he find it, but he retweeted it! Then, when I acknowledged that I noticed his retweet, he retweeted that! It’s like he wanted to mobilize his fans against me, but nobody said a thing. Why don’t people ever see when I say good things about them? I DO! Sometimes.

revengerclassick

Have you been listening to Classick Team-Up lately? Not only did he have the debut of the Thrift Justice duo on a podcast, but he’s also had some great interviews with @LamarRevenger and @P0lishPhen0m lately. Head over to the Cold Slither Podcast Network to check it out.

Arrow

“YOU HAVE FAILED THIS CITY!” Oh man, oh man, oh man! Guys, I am so late to the party here, and I completely acknowledge that it’s my own fault. You’ve been telling me that Arrow was great, and I just wouldn’t listen. I reviewed the pilot when it first aired, but then I never went back. Last Saturday night, I decided to rewatch the pilot on Netflix and I’ve been bingewatching it ever since. I’m still on season 1, so please don’t spoil anything for me! I LOVE this show, and I think I prefer watching it like this, as I don’t think I could wait a week between some of those cliffhangers. Stephen Amell is great as Oliver Queen, and he’s like a young, hotter Chris O’Donnell. Meanwhile, Laurel is like a pretty Maggie Gyllenhaal. And socially awkward Felicity Smoak is my new favorite fictional character. Everything I thought about this show was wrong, and I can’t get enough of it. I want to discuss it with folks and shout it from the mountaintops, but I’ve got to get caught up first. I’m sure this probably should go to NYCC or the DC announcements, but nothing rocked my world this week like Arrow. For that reason, Arrow had the West Week Ever.

 

10th Oct2014

West Week Ever – 10/10/14

by Will

photovisi-download

 

oie_922142seDasWF9

First of all, thanks to everyone for the kind words in regards to my West BABY Ever?! post. We’re all excited at West HQ, and we’ve got a lot to do between now and March. I know some of you out there are also moms and dads, so I’ll take any advice that you might have to offer!

mulaney

In television, the week started with the premiere of Mulaney, the Fox sitcom starring standup comic/former SNL writer John Mulaney. I had high hopes for this show, but none of the clips I’d seen made me feel good about it. Once the show premiered, my hopes were further dashed. At its best, Mulaney is a pale imitation of Seinfeld. It starts out with Mulaney doing standup for the audience, a la early Seinfeld, and Nasim Pedrad is doing her best Elaine Benes. There’s even a quirky annoying neighbor named Andre who fills the Kramer slot. At its worst, it’s just a dreadfully unfunny sitcom, made even more unbearable by Martin Short hamming it up. I’ve never been a Short fan, and I feel like he just makes a bad show worse in this case. One of my major gripes whenever comedians get shows is that they write episodes based on their act. While it’s new to those unfamiliar with the comedian, if you’ve already heard the jokes, then it just feels tired. Mulaney’s pilot is based off a joke in his act where he describes how he went to the doctor to get a Xanax prescription, but goes too far in describing his ailments, and ends up getting a prostate exam. It’s actually the combination of two separate Mulaney bits, but they’re much funnier as jokes than as a sitcom subplot. The rest of the episode involved Mulaney trying to prove himself to the eccentric Short, who has hired him as a writer. I LOVE Mulaney’s standup, and if you’ve never experienced it, check out New In Town or The Top Part. This show, however, is not the best showcase for his talents. Ratings were pretty poor, so it’s probably not long for this world, which is a shame. It had so much potential, but I can see why NBC passed on it.

TwinPeaks_openingshotcredits

Next, minds were blown when it was announced that Twin Peaks is returning to television in 2016, as a limited series on Showtime. I’ve never experienced the show, but I love the theme song, as it was on the first volume of Pure Moods. I figure now’s as good a time as any to get acquainted with the show, so I know I’ll catch up somehow before 2016 rolls around. I’ve got time.

635482677524950002-STEPHEN-COLLINS

Then, shit got crazy as it turned out that the LAPD is investigating 7th Heaven‘s Stephen Collins on possible child molestation charges. This sent ripples through Hollywood, and resulted in Collins being fired from Ted 2, as well as a guest spot on Scandal. He seems to be laying low for the time being, but I see this situation getting worse before it gets better. What I’m curious about, however, is how the news got out. Apparently, Collins admitted past incidents during a therapy session that was recorded. Now, I thought things said in those environments were confidential, but I guess it’s different if they were scared he’d strike again.

blackish

Black-ish received a full-season order from ABC yesterday, which is great news for the show. I, however, am on the fence as to whether I like it or not. My biggest problem stems from the fact that every episode seems to involve Anthony Anderson trying to figure a way to “black up” his son. In Anderson’s eyes, Andre just isn’t black enough. I have problems with the idea that something makes someone more black than someone else. Maybe this is something that hits close to home for me, but I tire of watching Anderson try and fail to make his son live up to some standard of blackness that he holds. I’d love for an episode to end with Anderson realizing that Andre is OK just how he is. We kinda got that ending this week, but the show will be back next week, and I’m sure Anderson will be back at it again. I enjoyed this week’s topic about the Black Guy Head Nod, but in educating the public, I almost feel like the show is giving away our cultural secrets. Whatever. I’m just talking out of my butt and it’s late. All I know is that no one should have to live up to someone else‘s standard of blackness. That’s just ignorant.

Amazing-Spider-Man-2-Official-High-Res-Banner-570x301

In movie news, there are rumors that Marvel and Sony are in talks for Spider-Man to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. On top of this, there are also rumors that the Spider-Man franchise may be rebooted AGAIN with the planned Sinister Six movie. It’s being reported that whether or not Spidey appears in something like Avengers 3 will hinge on the box office success of the Sinister Six film. I think we all knew that it would be rebooted eventually, but I think we were just getting used to Andrew Garfield. Anyway, we should get used to stunts like this as Sony will stop at nothing to keep those rights from reverting back to Marvel. Sure, they may share Spidey, but they’re not gonna just give him up. I don’t care what they do as long as I don’t have to sit through another origin. I already know his origin story. Everyone knows his origin story. Let’s just start the next iteration in media res.

BM_Cv35_ds

In comic news, Batman was about to become the first monthly $4.99 comic, but writer Scott Snyder came on the scene and said that he would talk to DC about lowering the price back to $3.99. Earlier this week, he announced that next month the book would be back to the $3.99 price. Now, I don’t know if it’s because I’m cynical or what, but I refuse to believe that DC lowered the price because a writer asked them to do so. Comic companies don’t care that much about the talent, and they certainly don’t consult them on business decisions, such as pricing. Maybe retailer outcry did it or maybe fan outcry did it, but I refuse to thank Scott Snyder for something that I really don’t think he had a hand in changing. It certainly makes him look good to the fans, however.

No, this isn't from a comic. I couldn't find a good scan as of press time.

No, this isn’t from a comic. I couldn’t find a good scan as of press time.

While we’re on the topic of comics, something really grinds my gears in Marvel books lately. I’ve noticed a lot of guest spots with Tony Stark showing him drinking. Now, if you know anything about Stark, it’s that he’s an alcoholic. The movies don’t really get into it, but the comics have certainly dealt with it. Now, I forgot that he fell off the wagon during the Fear Itself event. They made it seem like he “magically gave up his sobriety”, but that’s a fanciful way of saying he fell off the wagon. And I guess he never got back on, as he’s still being depicted drinking. I think that’s kinda irresponsible coming from the company that refuses to show anyone smoking anymore just because Joe Quesada’s dad died of lung cancer. It seems like they’re picking and choosing their high horse, and it just seems sort of wrong to me. They’re saying that smoking’s bad, but drinking’s whatever. I, personally, don’t have an issue with either, but I feel like if you’re gonna hitch your moral wagon to lung cancer, you could also do so for alcoholism. I feel stupid for even getting upset about this, but this is the sort of problem you run into when comic companies want to apply real world politics to their books.

Weeabos lost their minds when Hatsune Miku performed on Letterman this week. If you’ve never heard of Miku, that’s because “she” is not real – it’s a hologram. Yeah, I don’t really understand it, but here’s some video:

My pal Keith submitted this for West Week Ever, and it almost won. In high school, they used to call me Carlton and, yes, I can do the dance. That’s why this clip from Dancing With The Stars made me smile:

The-Flash

This week, we experienced the premiere of yet another comic book television show. Unlike Gotham and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., however, this one hit all the right notes. The Flash premiered on The CW, giving the network its highest ratings in five years. Those viewers were deserved, too, as the show is superb. It’s an optimistic show, with colorful heroes – a nice departure from the current stuff that seems to be ashamed that it’s adapted from a comic book. I just can’t get into Gotham, but I loved every second of the Flash when I first saw the “leaked” pilot over the summer. Grant Gustin makes me care about Barry Allen – something I never thought was possible, and I love the entire cast, from Jesse L. Martin to Tom Cavanagh. And that final scene?! I will definitely be back next week, and without a doubt, The Flash had the West Week Ever.

 

 

16th Sep2014

Wizard World Richmond 2014 – A $25 Show at Twice The Price

by Will

2014-09-13 10.46.50

So, that title isn’t too optimistic. At the end of the day, it was a good experience, but it wasn’t without its issues. I’d never been to a Wizard World show before, so I didn’t really know what to expect.  Considering Wizard has been putting on shows for years, I expected a well-oiled machine, even if this was their first foray into Richmond.  I had been to the VA Comicon in Richmond, so surely it had to better than that, right? Right?! Why was I making the +2 hour trip to Richmond? One reason: to meet Jason David Frank, the original Green Power Ranger. After crossing meeting Stan Lee and Adam West off my bucket list, that left one person I wanted to meet. My Power Rangers fandom has been covered at great length, so this should come as a surprise to no one. This as the closest Frank appearance in years, so I talked Special Forces into joining me, and we made the trip.

2014-09-13 10.55.42

We got to the Greater Richmond Convention Center around 10, just as the show was starting. We didn’t prebuy tickets because we didn’t want to pay the online fee. This meant that tickets at the door were $55 for one day. That’s more than twice the Sunday price for Baltimore Comic-Con. Surely, I’d get my money’s worth, right? Or so I thought. We walked into the showroom and started to make the rounds. We were done by 11 AM. There just weren’t enough booths to fill up all the space.

They eventually put up a curtain so kids couldn't see all the vibrators

They eventually put up a curtain so kids couldn’t see all the vibrators

The first thing to know is that this is more of a pop culture show than a comic convention. This meant that there were only 2 comic vendors, and they were selling the kinds of books that would’ve been on Wizard‘s Top 20 List 20 years ago. Stuff like Venom #1 (not Agent Venom, but the original brain eater) and old issues of Uncanny X-Men. The rest of the vendors sold toys and collectibles – several of whom I’d just seen in Baltimore the earlier in the week. They seemed so pressed for vendors that there were some decidedly non-Con companies there, like Lasik and Adam & Eve. The local CW affiliate was there, promoting this fall’s new shows and giving away temporary Flash tattoos. Artists, like Neal Adams, Arthur Suydam, and Kevin Eastman, were scattered amongst the vendor booths.

At the back of the room were the celebrity autograph booths. In addition to Jason David Frank, there was Ernie Hudson, Sean Patrick Flanery, Giancarlo Esposito, Dean Cain, Ron Pearlman, Batista, Michael Rooker, James Marsters and Lou Ferrigno. Oh, and the guy who plays Slade on Arrow. On top of the admission paid to get into the show, you then had to pay extra for autographs and photo ops. These prices ranged from $30-100, depending on the celebrity. I was amazed by how much Dean Cain thought he could charge for an autograph, and I wasn’t alone, as he didn’t have much of a line all day. Oh yeah, Harry Kim from Star Trek: Voyager was there, and he didn’t seem to have much demand either. I mean, he’s one of the lesser characters of the most hated Trek show. What do ya expect? Cameras weren’t allowed in that area, as they wanted you to pay for pictures, so we didn’t linger there for long. Seeing as how my prepaid photo op with Frank (another $55) wasn’t until 6:30, we had to find some way to kill the next 7 hrs. We were gonna have to go to some panels.

Usually when I go to cons, I avoid the panels because they take up valuable showroom time, and most are recapped online anyway. Lately, I don’t even look at the con programming, since I have no plans to take part in any of it. This time, however, we had to go to some panels just to kill time. The first one that caught our eye was a 30-minute preview of Gotham, courtesy of Fox. It seemed odd to me that they would only show us 30 minutes of a 45-minute show, but free is free. The panel was from 12:00-12:30, and they didn’t get started until about 12:10. Before it starts, they tell us they had plans to show the whole pilot, but Fox had pulled it from them the day before. So, we’d now be watching a 20-minute preview sent by the network. What we ended up getting was a 10-minute future DVD featurette about the show and nothing else. People started leaving the minute we were told it wasn’t the pilot, but more people left during the featurette. I don’t believe that the Wizard World staff ever had the whole pilot because the pre-printed programs already mentioned that it was a 30-minute preview, which wouldn’t have been enough time for the pilot anyway. I think they always meant to show the featurette and just covered it up by saying Fox pulled the pilot from them.

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Once the Gotham thing was done, we went back to the show floor and made the rounds a few more times. Mainly, we’d stop by the CW booth to see if they had their prize wheel out again. It was at this time that I finally talked Special Forces into doing Sci Fi Speed Dating. If you’ll remember, about a year ago, TLC had a special called Geek Love, about sci-fi speed dating – an event that took place at SDCC and the New York Comic-Con. I guess the guy decided to expand, as here he was in Richmond, VA. We had passed his table several times, and he’d called out to us. I couldn’t do it, ’cause ya know, married, but SF was fair game. Once I agreed to finance it (it was free for women, but $20 for men), he finally agreed to do it. When I heard that it was $20, I blurted out, “These better be some top shelf women!” The speed dating host tried to shame me and replied, “And what if they aren’t?” My answer should have been, “Then I want my money back”, but I knew what he wanted to hear. I said, “Well, I guess that’d be alright, too.” Ugh. Anyway, when Mike was done, I asked him how it went. All he could say was “It was stupid! It was dumb.” So, I don’t really know what happened behind those doors…

Packed house for Adam & Burt

Packed house for Adam & Burt

While he was in speed dating, I went to the Adam West and Burt Ward panel, commemorating the release of Batman on DVD and Blu Ray. It was your standard Q&A, complete with stupid questions. One kid asked how many Batphones were used during the filming of the show, while some other folks asked Mayor West questions. No real juicy tidbits came out of it, but it was good to see them in a panel setting since I didn’t get that when I met them at Monster Mania last year.

2014-09-13 15.39.11

After that, we went to the Jason David Frank Q&A session, which was really good. He’s engaging and great with his fans. Like any Q&A, the questions ranged from good to stupid, but he had great answers and stories for all of them. He told us how he’d been invited to Neverland Ranch, but that it was OK because he was over 18. And he told us about how Amy Jo used to get calls from prisoners. In all, it was the best panel of the day.

When it was finally time for my pic with Jason, I was really nervous while I waited in line. Would I smile? Would I pose with my Morpher? I met him and he shook my hand. The pics were an assembly line, but he was nice and gracious the whole time. I told him it was an honor to meet him and shuffled off to pic up my print.

will west with green ranger

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

You didn’t come for all that exposition, though, did you? You probably came for cosplay pics. Well, here ya go!

Wolverine

Wolverine

 

Magna Defender from Power Rangers Lost Galaxy

Magna Defender from Power Rangers Lost Galaxy

 

2014-09-13 10.22.30-1

Harley & Joker

 

The Tick & Lil Deathstroke

The Tick & Lil Deathstroke

 

Um....some anime something.

Um….some anime something.

 

2014-09-13 10.38.42

Kick Ass & Hit Girl

 

No clue, but it was cool and ornate.

No clue, but it was cool and ornate.

 

Batman '66 & Catwoman

Batman ’66 & Catwoman

 

Last Airbender Aang

Last Airbender Aang

 

"MASTADON!"

“MASTADON!”

 

Ghostbuster

Ghostbuster

 

Nick Fury

Nick Fury

 

The friendliest Joker you'll ever meet

The friendliest Joker you’ll ever meet

 

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

 

Supervillain Pirate Lasses

Supervillain Pirate Lasses

 

Boba Fett

Boba Fett

 

He is THE LAW!

He is THE LAW!

 

No clue, but it looked cool

No clue, but it looked cool

 

Loki

Loki

 

Firefly Jaynes

Firefly Jaynes

 

Arrow & Black Canary

Arrow & Black Canary

 

A black Harley! A Blarley!

A black Harley! A Blarley!

 

Steampunk Ghostbuster

Steampunk Ghostbuster

 

Zatanna

Zatanna

 

Rogue & Friends

Rogue & Friends

 

No clue, but it was impressive.

No clue, but it was impressive.

 

Bat Family

Bat Family

 

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman

 

Katniss (?), Batman, Rogue, and Logan

Katniss (?), Batman, Rogue, and Logan

 

 Joker & Harley #3? I lost track.

Joker & Harley #3? I lost track.

 

Poison Ivy and Lisa from Weird Science. I love the look on that dude's face!

Poison Ivy and Lisa from Weird Science. I love the look on that dude’s face!

 

The second greatest Ranger of all time.

The second greatest Ranger of all time.

 

Batman & Storm

Batman & Storm

 

MEGATRON!

MEGATRON!

 

Ursula

Ursula

 

Gamora

Gamora

 

Cassandra Cain Batgirl

Cassandra Cain Batgirl

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