04th Jun2015

Comical Thoughts – Batman, and Archie, and Jem! Oh, My!

by Will

comical

So, I did something that I haven’t done in a LONG time – I actually read all of my Wednesday comics on release day. For the past few months, I’ve been visiting the shop religiously, but really only keeping up with Miles MoralesUltimate Spider-Man and Letter 44. Everything else was just stacking up in a pile. Well, I’ve done some reading, and I’ve got thoughts!

Batman-35

First up, I finally read the “Endgame” storyline that was recently running in the Batman series. I had actually read the first 3 issues as they were released, and then I just sort of stopped caring. So, I had to reread those issues before jumping into the second half of the storyline.

In case you’re not familiar with it, The Joker comes back to Gotham and wages what’s supposed to be his final fight against Batman. It starts out with so much promise, as a battle-suited Batman is forced to fight his Jokerized Justice League teammates. That battle takes all of 1.5 issues, and then it’s done away with. Sure, we’ve seen Batman vs. The Justice League battles before – most notably in JLA‘s “Tower of Babel” storyline, but this one just seemed like it was wrapped up too quickly. In fact, that’s the main problem with the entire story: pacing. It feels like so much happens and so little happens all at once. Certain story aspects were wrapped up too quicky (like the JL fight), while the story itself felt like it was too long at 6 issues. On top of those 6 issues, the Batman family titles also had “Endgame” specials that were tangentially related to the main storyline.

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The story starts in a weird place because it’s leading out of the yearlong, weekly Batman Eternal series that only the most die-hard Batman fans even kept up with. I was not one of those fans. So, you’re left with a ton of questions as things open up: Why are they in a Bat base? What happened to the manor? Alfred has a daughter? And she’s Black?! SO MANY QUESTIONS! Before anything is answered, the fight with the Justice League starts. That’s the first issue, but we’re even cheated out of that, as we never get to see attacks from Green Lantern or Cyborg. It’s almost like “footage” was cut for time or space concerns.

As the story rolls along at a breakneck pace, a ton of stuff happens. The city gets Jokerized. We meet up with Duke Thomas – a character introduced during the horrid “Zero Year” story – who we’ve seen may become Robin in the future (due to the Future’s End one-shot). We find out that The Joker might be immortal. Then, bad stuff happens to Alfred. And then Batman needs the help of his villains to take down The Joker. Then, they fight. I won’t spoil the ending, but I thought it sucked. Then again, I’m just not a fan of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo on this book. I feel like I’m alone in this, as everyone else acts like this is the definitive run on Batman, while I just find it to be kinda meh. Snyder has one trick, and it’s “dancing between the raindrops of continuity”. It’s all “I bet you didn’t know this happened!” And he’s been doing it since the beginning. Bruce Wayne has a secret brother. Dick Grayson was enlisted by the Court of Owls. The Court of Owls has been running Gotham for hundreds of years. He even dialed back the clock with Zero Year to create an entire storyline during a period that’s not even supposed to *exist* based on the standard Batman timeline. I mean, what the Hell is a “zero year” anyway?

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On top of being disappointed by Snyder, I really don’t think Capullo’s a great artist. This may sound like sacrilege to some, but I feel like Tony Daniel was a better artist, even though his style just evolved into a Jim Lee clone. Capullo is not good with action scenes, as was proven by the fights in Endgame On top of that, he brings nothing to the table in terms of distinguishing the characters out of their suits. There’s a scene with Dick Grayson that might as well have been with Jason Todd or Tim Drake because there is nothing special about how he’s drawn. I noticed this back during “Court of Owls”, as there was a scene with all the Robins in their civilian garb, and it just looked like the same white guy, wearing the same tux, at three different heights. No distinction between any of them. Maybe it was meant to emphasize the fact that Bruce recruits the same type of kid for his Robins, but I don’t think it really accomplished that. Instead, it just looked lazy. I liked what Capullo brought to other series, like Image’s Haunt, but I’ve just found his Batman work has left me wanting.

gordon batman

Now that it’s been revealed that Commissioner Gordon is the new Batman, I’m just waiting to be disappointed again. Sure, I could stop buying, but I’m a Batman fan, and I keep hoping it’ll get better. One thing I wish Snyder would realize is that not every Batman story need to be an “event”. Just have him solve some shit. Francis Manapul over on Detective Comics seems to understand this, as he’s cranking out some good mysteries. Meanwhile, everything Snyder does is like he wants to reinvent the wheel. I once read an interview with him where he said that you never know how long you have to write Batman, so you have to get out all of your ideas while you have the chance. I kinda understand that, but I need him to really get to the core of the character, which is something I don’t think he’s ever really done. He uses Batman as a prop in his stories, rather than as an actual character.

Speaking of upcoming DC stories, DC has launched an initiative called DC You, implying that there’s something for everyone in their new mix of books coming out. They even released a trailer of the new storylines, which was very Marvel of them. That said, I’m more curious about the books that they’re just glossing over. Sure, they’re telling us about Starfire and Cyborg, but they’re saying nothing about Red Hood/Arsenal or Martian Manhunter. They’re boosting Batman Beyond and even Deathstroke, but there’s nothing about Dr. Fate or Green Lantern: The Lost Army. Are these the dogs of the bunch? Should we start taking bets on their cancellation already?

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Since I mentioned Batman Beyond, let me just say that I HATE the new direction they’re going in with that character. If you’re not in the know, Batman Beyond followed Terry McGinnis who becomes Batman roughly 35 years in the future. He wasn’t Bruce Wayne’s initial choice as a successor, as Terry stole the Batsuit in order to bring his father’s murderer to justice. There was a whole 3-season cartoon about it. Well, a few years back, DC decided to bring Terry into comic continuity, though his adventures roughly followed what had been laid out in the cartoon. In the recent Future’s End series, however, they unceremoniously killed Terry and gave his suit to former Batman sidekick, Tim Drake. So now Tim is 35 years in the future, trying to carry the Batman mantle. However, due to the events of Future’s End, the future timeline isn’t what it was when Terry was there. So, in one fell swoop, DC wiped out Terry, wiped out most of his supporting cast, and apparently his rogues. See all those familiar folks in that cover image? Yeah, they’re not in the book. The future that Tim experiences isn’t the same as Terry’s world, as characters have been changed in drastic ways. On top of that, the entire plotline was basically lifted from Power Rangers: RPM, as an evil computer virus has taken over the whole world except for Gotham, which is somehow shielded from detection. I’ll keep reading for now, as I’m curious to see if anything is left of the old Batman Beyond world, but I feel this move is a slap in the face to the fans who had come to love Terry’s Gotham. Just the changes to Superman and Barbara Gordon alone are angering, as both characters had experienced a lot of growth in that world. Now, it’s like it just never happened. Due to the events of Convergence, I’d like to think that Terry’s world is still out there somewhere, but it doesn’t really matter if no one’s writing stories about it.

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One book I read last night was Archie #666, which is the final issue of the long-running series. In July, it’ll be relaunched with a new #1 and an updated look. I haven’t really read Archie books since I first got into comics, but I felt like this was a great series finale. It’s somewhat brief, but it gets to the heart of what Archie’s all about: he’s a good-natured kid who really cares about his friends. As I’ve seen previews of the upcoming series, I’m curious to see if this spirit will still exist in the new books. They say that the “familiar” style will still exist in digest form (ya know, the kind you buy at the supermarket), but the New Look is the main comic going forward. I trust Mark Waid and Fiona Staples, so I’ll definitely be checking it out. I’m just glad it had a fitting final issue, especially after the travesty that’s the current Archie vs. Predator miniseries.

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Not all cartoon characters can have great comics, however. A few weeks ago, children of the 80s had a fit when they saw the trailer of the upcoming Jem and the Holograms movie. What they saw bore no resemblance to the cartoon they watched as children. There were no Misfits, seemingly no powers, and it was just a teenybopper movie about a girl “trying to find her voice”. Meanwhile, IDW recently began publishing a Jem comic book, and I feel like it’s no more comforting than that trailer. At least the book involves hologram technology, and there are Misfits, but it seems like it’s just gearing up to be a battle of the bands. Now, I don’t remember a whole lot about Jem, but I felt like there was a lot more at stake than a simple battle of the bands, right? Was that what the cartoon was about? I mean, it’s been so long, and it’s not like I was a religious viewer anyway. I’m only 2 issues into the series (I still need to read the third), but this isn’t shaping up to be the exciting to me. Maybe it’s just not for me, and that’s OK.

Now for some quick shots-

Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1- This felt like a What If? comic. I mean, I guess all of the Secret Wars tie-in books kinda feel that way, but this really felt like one. It was interesting to see the modern storylines they allude to, such as the Rykers outbreak that caused the formation of the New Avengers, as well as the idea of MJ and Peter moving into Avengers Mansion. Still, despite those modern references, something about it felt very 90s. Oh, and Andy Kubert really phoned in that art. There’s a panel of Peter where he looks like a caveman. This really looked like a rush job.

Groot #1 – This was a cute read. Not something I’d normally pick up, but I was kinda speculating. I remember that Rocket Raccoon #1 became a sought after book, so I figured the same might be true of his partner in crime’s book. I might just wait until this is collected, as I’d like to see where it goes, but I don’t know if I wanna spend $3.99 a month on it.

Years of Future Past #1 – I had to choose between this and the X-Tinction Agenda book. Since I never read the original X-Tinction Agenda, I figured this was the safer bet. It’s an interesting premise: Colossus and Kitty have a teenage daughter, and we’re back in the somewhat familiar Days of Future Past reality (or a version of it), while incorporating the idea of assassinating President Kelly. It was interesting, but I’m not sure I’m gonna stick with it. There are simply too many Secret Wars tie-in books and, frankly, some of them look more exciting to me.

Secret Wars #3 – Well, this was much more interesting than #2. We got to meet God, as well as see a few familiar faces from before the final incursion. I’m really engaged by this story, and everything I learn just keeps me wanting more. I thought it was important that Doctor Strange pointed out that they had basically perfected how to get folks to acknowledge the merged timelines. I feel like this will be important for when they reshape things into the new Marvel Universe. Still, I can’t helped but feel like I’m missing out on certain characters’ motivations because I skipped Hickman’s runs on Avengers and New Avengers. And we find out that 8 years have passed since the Doom reshaped the world. I tend to hate time jumps, as they are a cop-out. Rarely are those missing time periods ever explained, but I guess enough time needed to have passed in order for the societies to be as stable as they are. Still, I hope we get some insight into those 8 years, as I’m already dreading the reported 8 month time jump that the characters will have experienced once Secret Wars is over.

So, that’s me. What did you all read this week?

01st Jun2015

Awesome Con 2015 Cosplay Gallery

by Will

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This past Saturday, I attended the 3rd annual Awesome Con in Washington, DC. I’d actually never been to the show in previous years, though I was aware of it. I kinda hated the name, plus I felt like Baltimore and New York Comic Con were superior to it, so I spent my time and money going to them instead. This year, however, I’m going to be missing both of those shows due to weddings, so I figured it was time to see what Awesome Con was all about. My verdict? It’s a pretty good show.

The layout, vendor selection, and guest list were reminiscent of Wizard World Richmond, which I attended last Fall. This show, however, seemed to have more vendors and bigger guests. While Wizard World Richmond had one Power Ranger (albeit arguably the greatest Ranger of all time), this show had four former Rangers. Plus, this show had marquee guests like William Shatner, George Takei, Sean Astin, and more. Still, you also had your sci fi cult stars like Dina Meyer, Casper Van Dien, James Marsters, and some of the Comic Book Men. So, there was something for everyone. As for vendor selection, most of the local comic shops were represented, as well as a few out of town shops – which certainly wasn’t the case for WW Richmond, which had about 3 comic vendors. While there didn’t seem to be a lot of current books up for sale, you could grab anything from discounted trade paperbacks to chainmail Jayne hats from Firefly. The show was very well-attended, but not overcrowded like NYCC and SDCC are these days. You could navigate freely without bumping into too many people. Like Wizard World, I still think the admission price was a bit steep; $42 for Saturday admission, compared to Baltimore Comic-Con’s $30.  Since I didn’t buy a ton of stuff, I spent most of my time taking pictures.

For this post, instead of focusing on the plethora of Harley Quinns, Arrows, and Jokers that you always see at these shows, I thought I’d focus on the cosplay that featured women, minorities, crossplay (gender-switched cosplay), or was just something you just don’t see at every show. I was impressed by all of these costumes, and I hope you’ll enjoy taking a look at them.

Robpool

Robpool

Crossplay Aquaman

Crossplay Aquaman

Black Jedi Family. I love that little girl so much!

Jedi Family. I love that little girl so much!

Scarlet Witch in an awesome Marvel dress

Scarlet Witch in an awesome Marvel dress

Bazooka from G.I. Joe

Bazooka from G.I. Joe

Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop

Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop

Static Shock and Red Arrows

Static Shock and Arsenals

Modern-Day Luke Cage

Modern-Day Luke Cage

Stormtrooper Dress

Stormtrooper Dress

Black Captain Britain

Captain Britain

Bob Ross and his happy little trees

Bob Ross and his happy little trees

Two-Face

Two-Face

Casey Jones and April O'Neil

Casey Jones and April O’Neil

Mr. Terrific

Mr. Terrific

Crossplay Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon

Crossplay Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon

Spider-Gwen

Spider-Gwen

Black Batman

Batman

Lady Thor

Lady Thor

Agents Scully and Carter

Agents Scully and Carter

Crossplay Assassin's Creed

Crossplay Assassin’s Creed

Black Starfleet Officers

Starfleet Officers

Xena

Xena

Kim Possible

Kim Possible

I HAD to take a pic of this guy's shirt. Bonus points if you know what movie it's referencing.

I HAD to take a pic of this guy’s shirt. Bonus points if you know what movie it’s referencing.

Pretty sure this was a Filipino Batman. And the "POW" was the icing on the cake!

Batman ’66. And the “POW!” was the icing on the cake!

Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man

Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man

'90s Rogue

’90s Rogue

Power Couple Luke Cage and Jewel, AKA Jessica Jones

Power Couple Luke Cage and Jewel, AKA Jessica Jones

S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent

S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent

Captain America USO Girl

Captain America USO Girl

Big Hero 6's Honey Lemon and Gogo Tamago

Big Hero 6’s Honey Lemon and Gogo Tamago

Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel

The Stalk from Saga

The Stalk from Saga

Squirrel Girl and Captain America USO Girl

Squirrel Girl and Captain America USO Girl

Agent Phil Coulson

Agent Phil Coulson

Power Rangers family

Power Rangers family

Captain America USO Girl

Captain America USO Girl/Crossplay Captain America?

Patriot from Young Avengers

Patriot from Young Avengers

Wasn’t that fun? At the end of the day, I had a great time, and I have to give Awesome Con the credit it deserves. Still hate the name, but I also hate clothes emblazoned with words to describe the wearer (you’re not a Cutie Pie, regardless of what that shirt says!). It just sounds so…grandiose, but you’ve gotta have goals, right? I know the Awesome Con brand got a bit tarnished when the Milwaukee edition was abruptly cancelled last year, but I think this show is on the road to being a force to be reckoned with. In the next few years, I wouldn’t be surprised if Marvel and DC had booth presences at the show. All I know is that I’ll definitely be checking it out next year.

08th May2015

West Week Ever – 5/8/15

by Will

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The only thing I watched of note was Avengers: Age of Ultron for a second time. I’ve got to say that I enjoyed it much more upon the second viewing. I still think Strucker was wasted, but that’s what happens, I guess. On a related note, it was neat how Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Theta Protocol tied into the movie, but it was pretty lame how the show just vomited out an explanation before the opening credits. Anyway, the movie made $191 million last weekend, so I’m sure I wasn’t alone in my multiple viewings.

civil war

Now, it appears that the AoU cast is gearing up for Captain America: Civil War. Despite the title, this is clearly Avengers 2.5. In fact, there are so many people in this movie that’s it’s easier to say who isn’t there: Hulk & Thor. Anyway, the official press release from Marvel describes the movie as follows:

Captain America: Civil War” picks up where “Avengers: Age of Ultron” left off, as Steve Rogers leads the new team of Avengers in their continued efforts to safeguard humanity. After another international incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability and a governing body to determine when to enlist the services of the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers while they try to protect the world from a new and nefarious villain.

The big question is whether or not Spider-Man is going to make his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in this film. All signs point to yes, but it remains to be seen how he would figure into the story.

suicidesquad

In the DC movie universe, they released this cast photo from the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. Someone on Twitter put it best when they said that some of the characters look like those Homies figurines you get in vending machines. I HATE this photo. So much. And the fact that there are people out there who like it really grinds my gears. It looks like an updated high school production of West Side Story. If nothing else, this cemented my thoughts that I don’t want DC to “pull a Marvel”. They don’t need a shared universe. In fact, I think I’d prefer they make their movies with very few connections, if any, to each other. I don’t like the tone that DC is setting with these initial movies. I get that some heroes need to be dark, but what are The Flash and Cyborg going to look like in this world? I just don’t like it.

Supergirl

In TV news, CBS officially ordered Supergirl to series, expanding the Greg Berlanti-led DC TV universe to 4 shows (including The CW’s Arrow, The Flash, and the spinoff now officially known as DC’s Legends of Tomorrow). As much as I like Berlanti’s shows, nothing about this series excites me. After all, Supergirl has no real rogues gallery. Then again, that could’ve been said about Green Arrow, and they seem to have figured that out. I just don’t know if CBS is the right home for it. CBS owns half of The CW, so why not just put it over there and let it join its “brethren”. They said that the door is open for crossovers, but it seems like there could still be some red tape. In other DC TV news, The CW has officially picked up the afore-mentioned DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which will debut in January 2016.

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Josh Trank was fired from the standalone Star Wars film he was set to direct. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Trank’s erratic behavior on the set of Fantastic Four spooked executives. It also didn’t help when he failed to show up to Star Wars Celebration, although it’s rumored that he was actually asked not to attend as Disney decided their next steps. According to sources, Trank is talented, but still has a lot to learn.

gibbler

Character descriptions were released for the Fuller House kids’ roles. Most interesting to me, Kimmy Gibbler’s daughter, Ramona, is biracial. And immediately I thought, “That makes perfect sense.” Instead of being half Black, she’s half Hispanic, and embraces her Latina heritage. She’s into boys, social media, and selfies. In other FH news, Dave Coulier has officially signed on to reprise his role as Uncle Joey.

It’s been a big TV week, as this is when we find out the shows that didn’t make the cut for a renewal. The information is still coming out, but here’s what we know so far:

Cancellations:

Hart of Dixie (The CW)

The Messengers (The CW)

Cristela (ABC)

Forever (ABC)

Revenge (ABC)

Resurrection (ABC)

The one that hits me the hardest is Forever. If you remember, it had the honor of having the West Week Ever and it was near and dear to my heart. Starring Fantastic Four‘s Ioan Gruffudd as a man who can’t die, I looked more forward to it on Tuedays than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Luckily, the finale didn’t exactly end on a cliffhanger. It was definitely a springboard for future stories, but I’m satisfied with how it will be left.

Surprising Renewals

Agent Carter (ABC)

American Crime (ABC)

Fresh Off the Boat (ABC)

The Middle (ABC)

Galavant (ABC)

None of the above shows had stellar ratings, so I’m pretty surprised at all of their renewals. Agent Carter is a welcome surprise, but American Crime seemed like a done-in-one limited series, as the case it follows ends next week. Fresh Off the Boat is a surprise because creator Eddie Huang was doing everything in his power to sink the show, and the ratings had taken a dive since the premiere. The Middle is surprising because it showed all the signs of a show winding down, especially since 2 of the kids will be in college next season. It also doesn’t help that the actor who plays Axl (Charlie McDermott) has already been cast in a CBS’s Super Clyde (which hasn’t been officially picked up yet). The most surprising, however, is Galavant. ABC had NO faith in that show, burning it off in one hour chunks over a four week period in January. The ratings weren’t great, but I’m amazed it made enough of an impression to gain a renewal in MAY. Curiously missing from the list of new shows are the rumored Marvel shows, including the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Mockingbird spinoff and the John Ridley Ms. Marvel show. There’s still a chance that they weren’t ready, and could debut midseason or next summer, but that remains to be seen.

MADCAST_LOGO

Last night, I had the pleasure of joining Corey again for the MadCast Podcast. This time, we discussed the past TWO Mad Men episodes, so be sure to check it out.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

-Sony has renewed Powers for a second season. I have no clue why, but it clearly has a budget of about $1,000 so it’s cheap to produce.

-Fox has canceled The Mindy Project, however Hulu is in talks to revive the show with a 2-season order.

-The CW has renewed iZombie for a second season. I’ve got to give that show a shot one of these days…

-Disney announced that Phineas & Ferb would be ending in June. Never seen it.

The Simpsons has been renewed for the next 2 seasons, taking its episode total to 625.

-Hugh Jackman has officially confirmed that he’s walking away from the role of Wolverine following Wolverine 3.

Links I Loved

Trivia and References in Avengers: Age of Ultron – The Robot’s Pajamas

Don Draper, Maverick Ad Man, Dead at 88 – MediaPost.com

WWF Hasbro Happiness! – Horror Movie BBQ

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Ya know who everyone was talking about this week? The new Hamburglar. Yup, McDonalds’ sales are suffering, so they decided to debut a new, live action Hamburglar. Because that’s what’s gonna make people eat more burgers. Anyway, the chain is debuting a new line of Sirloin Burgers, and they’re banking on nostalgia to help them move that beef. While most folks would probably prefer the return of Grimace of the Fry Guys, Hamburglar is what we got. And he looks odd. Seriously, his whole outfit looks like it was pieced together in a Goodwill. At least we know why he’s stealing the burgers. He simply can’t afford them. Based on the commercial I’ve seen, he’s got a kid now, and had left his burglar days behind him until the appearance of these new Sirloin Burgers. So, will his son follow in his footsteps? Will he abandon his family in the pursuit of hamburgers? SO MANY QUESTIONS. Anyway, it was a pretty slow week, so the new, hipster, pedophile-looking Hamburglar had the West Week Ever.

13th Mar2015

West Week Ever – 3/13/15

by Will

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oie_922142seDasWF9

So, I had a bunch of snow days last week, and just didn’t have the motivation to write. We’re back now, however, and we’ve got a lot to talk about!

sommore

Trying to clear off my DVR, I watched the standup special Sommore: Chandelier Status. If you don’t know Sommore, you’ve clearly never seen BET’s ComicView. You’re also probably White. Seriously, except for Celebrity Fit Club, Sommore really hasn’t broken out of the Black Comedy world. Still, I’ve found her to be hilarious in the past, so I thought I’d check out this special. It was really nothing to write home about. It was about an hour’s worth of “Black people do this, and White people do that.” That gets old fast. I think I laughed twice. Kinda disappointing, as I had high expectations for that special.

Aziz

While on the comedy topic, I also checked out Aziz Ansari: Live At Madison Square Garden. Now, I’ve gone on record to say that I didn’t like his last special, Buried Alive, because he spent too much time talking about grown-up stuff like having kids and his fear of marriage. Well, this special was really just more of that. I think I’m starting to realize that I like younger, less mature Aziz who talked about hanging out with Kanye and going to R. Kelly concerts. Older, wiser Aziz is WAY too introspective, and I don’t find a lot of *humor* in what he has to say. He’s more like a relationship guru than a comedian these days, and that’s just not what I’m looking for.

The-Marine-3-426x600

On TV, I caught The Marine, which has quickly become one of those “I have to watch it whenever I see it’s on” movies for me. I can’t really explain it, but I think John Cena is a pretty good action star. And whatever happened to Kelly Carlson? After Nip/Tuck, she seemed poised for bigger things. Sure, The Marine is just a WWE Studios production, but it was still a job. Nowadays, I hear she’s acting in some online spinoff of Supernatural. Eww, a webseries!

PowersRD-610

Speaking of disappointing webseries, this week saw the premiere of Powers on the Playstation Network. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s a police procedural based  in a world of people with superpowers, and it’s based on the comic of the same name from Brian Michael Bendis. Now, I have a complicated relationship with Bendis; I used to love everything he did, but then I met him. Don’t meet your heroes, kid. Anyway, as much as I’ve loved his work, I never really liked Powers. I felt it was overrated and moved WAY too slowly. So, I’m probably not the target audience for this show. That said, it was just as bad as I expected. The show had been in development for years, and eventually landed at FX with a pilot starring Jason Patric. FX passed on the series, but the creators were determined to get it on the air somewhere. So, they went back to the drawing board and gave us the show that we have here. The trailer for it made it look like a big budget fan film, and the actual product wasn’t much better than that. It felt like a really bad Canadian series that would air on Syfy. And no, not a American show filmed in Vancouver for budgetary reasons – I’m talking about a show made by and for Canadians, like Lost Girl or something. The effects are hokey, the casting is off (Sharlto Copley? Really?), and it just feels empty, though yearns to be so much more than it is. The series will air exclusively on Playstation Network, but the pilot is currently available on YouTube. If this show is indicative of PSN’s original programming capabilities, I am far from impressed.

kosher soul

It’s not all bad news this week, though. I have a new favorite reality show: Kosher Soul. Airing on Lifetime, the show follows the relationship between standup comedian O’Neal McKnight and celebrity stylist Miriam Sternoff. He’s Black, she’s Jewish and hilarity ensues! When the series starts, they’re planning their wedding and O’Neal is starting the conversation to Judaism, as it’s important to Miriam that she marry a Jew. O’Neal’s a funny guy, though I’m not that familiar with his standup. He’s friends with other reality show stalwarts like Fonzworth Bentley and Russell Simmons. Meanwhile, Miriam reminds me a lot of Bethenny Frankel – who was my favorite of the Bravo Real Housewives franchise. Right after their wedding, Miriam wanted to start trying to have kids, so that’s where we are at this point in the show. O’Neal and Miriam seem to have great chemistry, and I can see how their relationship has endured for 9+ years. Hell, they may last and they may not, but they’re trying to make it work. I’ve seen no hype about this show, and only watched it because I ran across it On Demand. It doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page yet! So, with my luck, it’ll probably be canceled after one season.

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Had I done a West Week Ever last week, that honor would have gone to The Last Man on Earth. I never thought it had a chance to work, and the jury’s still out on it, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the three episodes that have aired so far. If you haven’t seen it, Will Forte stars as Phil Miller – the seemingly only survivor of a virus that has killed the rest of the world’s population. So, the pilot follows him as he gets used to the idea that he is, in fact, the last person on Earth. Then, at the end of the pilot, you’re thrown for a loop, as you learn that he’s not alone; he may be the last *man* on Earth, but there happens to be a woman – Carol Pilbasian, played by Kristen Schaal. So, then the show focuses on the relationship between the two, as Carol thinks she and Phil are meant to repopulate the world, while Phil really wants nothing to do with her. I thought this would work as a movie, but I had no idea how they’d get an entire series out of it. Three episodes in, and I’m still not sure where it’s going, but I’m enjoying the ride so far.

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So, I was busy on the Internet this week, and some might even say I was trolling. I didn’t think that was the case, but let’s take a closer look, shall we? So, on Monday morning, I was tweeting with a friend about American Idol, and he mentioned Kris Allen. I replied, “Man, where’d THAT dude end up?” And he replied, “In the scrap heap along with Taylor Hicks, Lee DeWyze, and Scotty McCreery.” And then the floodgates opened. We got tons of replies from obsessed fans who clearly set filters for anytime those guys’ names are mentioned. They insisted that Taylor and Scotty weren’t on a “scrap heap”. Turns out they were right. I mean, I already knew of Scotty’s country success, but who knew that Taylor Hicks made $2.5 million last year? Apparently, he’s the first Idol to get a residency in Las Vegas. Anyway, as I got sick of these grannies blowing up my timeline, I tweeted the following:

guarini 1If you’re not familiar, a “stan” is slang for an obsessive fan – based on the Eminem song of the same name. Oh, and Justin Guarini lost to Kelly Clarkson in the very first season of American Idol. I didn’t really have to call out Guarini, but he seemed like an easy target. Kick a man while he’s down, I guess. I was riled up by all the old ladies defending their favorite Idols, and I was really just trying to call out some more fans, as I was amused by their terrible misspellings and grammar. And since he has nothing to do with his time, Guarini responded. He has since deleted his tweets to me, so let’s see if I can do it from memory:

JG: “*stars *shitty”

This was his was of trying to correct me. He thought I meant to say “stars” instead of “stans”. He was also correcting the end of my tweet to read “Justin Guarini ain’t shitty”

And I replied:

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JG: “Hey fan. I know a fan when I see one, fan.”

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Then things took off. He tweeted his response with the period before the @, so all of his followers could see it. So then everybody started favoriting his tweets to me. And then one theatre groupie tried to say that I was kissing up to him. I actually wasn’t. While my tone might seem conciliatory, in my mind I wasn’t done. I didn’t appreciate him reaching out to his followers for support. What I said was true – I had voted for him, and an ex had given me From Justin to Kelly. I failed to add that I sold that DVD and that I thought his album was a piece of shit. Seriously, it’s terrible as there isn’t one commercially viable single on the entire disc. I didn’t add any of this, though, because I had been an asshole and it was probably best to let it drop. The next day, however, I listened to Kelly’s new album and I got the desire to tweet Justin and ask him what he thought of it. I was just about to hit send, but I thought better of it. I like a good feud, but I’m not particularly a fan of a situation where I’m the bad guy.

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Last time, I mentioned that I had a bottle of Pepsi True in my refrigerator. Well, I tried it. And it tastes like bilge water. In the Stevia flavored mid-calorie cola department, Coke Life wins the title.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

– Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke lost a court case against the family of Marvin Gaye, who claimed that “Blurred Lines” ripped off Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up”. This decision resulted in a $7.3 million payout to Gaye’s children. I get that they kinda sound similar, but I really don’t get this decision. Plus, it sets a really bad precedent for anything that remotely sounds like anything else. Thicke had kinda been a bit of a douchenozzle over the past year, so I wonder if that played into the jury’s decision.

–  a new trailer was released for the Netflix Daredevil series. For a great scene-by-scene breakdown, check out this post at The Robot’s Pajamas.

Rolling Stone had a great minute-by-minute breakdown of the We Are The World recording session on its 30th anniversary.

– Have you ever wanted to see Earl Sinclair from Dinosaurs rap Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize”? Who cares. Here it is and it’s awesome:

– My pals over at the Nerd Lunch Podcast did a musicals episode that you should really check out.

– At a Disney shareholder’s meeting, it was reported that Star Wars Episode VIII will be released May 26, 2017. Also, Felicity Jones to star in the Rogue One spinoff. I have no idea who she is…

– My pals at UnderScoopFire tackle the Pop Culture Alphabet

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I had no idea I’d love this show as much as I do, and I don’t know what I did with my life before it came along. Yes, I’m talking about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. Originally developed by Tina Fey for NBC, the show was picked up by Netflix with a 2-season guarantee. It stars The Office‘s Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt who, along with 3 other women, has been held captive in a doomsday bunker for 15 years. When the series starts, they’re liberated from the bunker, and Kimmy moves to NYC to start her life over. Since she was in middle school when she was first abducted, Kimmy’s missed out on a LOT, including current music and slang. Once she gets to New York, she moves in with flamboyantly gay Titus Andromedon who eventually becomes her best friend. Meanwhile, she works for a crazy rich lady played by 30 Rock‘s Jane Krakowski, and tries to put her bunker life behind her.

If you loved 30 Rock, you’ll love Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. They share a sensibility, and I’d even consider them in the same universe if it weren’t for the fact that Krakowski and Tituss Burgess are playing different characters. Whenever they watch TV on the show, I keep hoping for a mention of TGS, Bitch Hunter or MILF Island just to confirm that Jack Donaghy and Liz Lemon are in the same city somewhere.

Part of what makes the show work so well is the casting. Kemper is simply adorable as Kimmy, as she manages to capture the wide-eyed wonder that the character would certainly experience by her new surroundings. She spent her adolescent years in the bunker, so her development’s a bit stunted. If you’ve ever seen 13 Going On 30, you know that Jennifer Garner was awkward as Hell as a 13 year old girl who magically becomes a 30 year old. This takes that formula and gets it right. Kimmy may be 29, but she’s still a 14 year old in many ways. And Kemper does an excellent job portraying that. Meanwhile, Tituss Burgess is AMAZING as Titus Andromedon. Everything he says is quotable, and he manages to straddle the line of self-serving and lovable. If you watched 30 Rock, you’ll remember him as D’Fwan – a hilarious member of Tracy’s wife’s entourage. Here, it’s like he’s playing the same character, but cranked up to 11. He and Kemper have great chemistry, and it’s fun to watch their friendship grow.

I don’t want to spoil the guest stars, or where the story goes, as that’s half the fun of the experience. The minute I was done, though, I instantly wanted season 2. I haven’t felt that way since Bojack Horseman – another Netflix series I fell in love with. All of my friends online have been talking about Kimmy Schmidt, so I see that I’m not alone in my love for the show. If you haven’t checked it out, remedy that soon. I’ve heard the first episode didn’t grab some folks, but stick with it. So, for being the belle of the comedic ball this week, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt had the West Week Ever. Troll the respawn, Jeremy!

07th Jan2015

West YEAR Ever – 2014

by Will

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The time has come to say goodbye to another year, and boy was 2014 a doozy! They say that every day is a blessing, but that was hard to agree with some days last year. It seems like it was rough for a lot of people, and it didn’t help that we had to deal with things like hacks and the word “bae”. In any case, this is where we take a look back and see what kind of year I had as I was bringing you the best in pop culture entertainment. Well, that was the goal, at least. Anyway, let’s get started, shall we?

Milestones of 2014

Saga

I finally gave in to Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga

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Mister Mister squared off against Boy Meets Girl in audio combat

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I was linked by NPR’s Code Switch blog

I met @smurfwreck & @shezcrafti at a toy show

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I discovered that the Quokka exists

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I reviewed Superman: Earth One Volume 2

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I had some thoughts on some comics

I had a Twitter dialogue with the Toy Hunter

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I went to Toy Fair and finally met @MattGuzy, @T16skyhopp, @Preternia_, and @Tekcorps in the flesh!

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I went to Walt Disney World for the first time!

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I dissected the problems with the How I Met Your Mother series finale

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I reviewed the classic Nick Fury Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D.

There was a Free Comic Book Edition of Thrift Justice

I previewed the upcoming fall shows from Fox, ABC, NBC, and CBS

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I examined what made The Cleveland Show special

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I discussed FX’s new comedies Married and You’re The Worst, and got a tweet favorited by co-star Aya Cash.

The cast of Power Rangers Super Megaforce said my name! It’s recorded!

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Special Forces got his own spinoff installment of Thrift Justice!

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I rebooted Three’s Company!


We said goodbye to Jimi Jamison, former lead singer of Survivor

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I made my annual trip to the Baltimore Comic-Con

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I discovered Nymphomaniac and Bojack Horseman

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Special Forces and I made the trip to Wizard World Richmond and I met Tommy, The Green Ranger!

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I did the Warrior Dash in Connecticut

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I finally met @Classickmateria and we (including Special Forces) met up with @LamarRevenger at Retrocon

Lindsay and I celebrated our second anniversary!

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I found out I’m gonna be a daddy!

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I made my return to the New York Comic-Con, where I met up with @Tekcorps and finally met @BionicBigfoot

I was invited to participate in my pal Dex’s Halloween Countdown, over at AEIOU…And Sometimes Why.

I hit post #900 on version 2.0 of the site!

2014 Hidden Tracks

While I tend to talk about everything on the site, there are a few things that happened during 2014 that I never got around to blogging about. First of all, I had my first paid writing gig, which was printed in Bleeding Cool Magazine. I interviewed the creative team behind Boom! Studios’ Hexed ongoing series. Seeing as how almost no comic shops carry Bleeding Cool (and the interview wasn’t published on the website), I have yet to actually see it, but I still got paid, so there’s that.

Near the end of the year, I found myself on TMZ Live, talking about Nicki Minaj’s ass. It all started when I replied to one of TMZ host Harvey Levin’s tweets. The next thing I knew, the TMZ account was asking me if I wanted to be a part of that day’s TMZ Live broadcast. I was getting off work early, so I figured “Why not?” They called me up, and had me talk about Nicki’s ex-boyfriend. Apparently, he’s been having suicidal thoughts since she broke up with him. My response basically boiled down to “Can you blame him? Have you seen dat ass?” I made Harvey laugh. And then they didn’t use the recording. Womp womp.

West Week Ever Recipients of 2014

1/10/14 – Sasheer Zamata

1/17/14 – Michael Douglas

1/24/14 – Richard Sherman

1/31/14 – Ryan Lewis

2/7/14 – Facebook

2/14/14 – Michael Sam

2/21/14 – Chris Pratt

2/28/14 – Jimmy Fallon

3/7/14 – Lupita Nyong’o

3/14/14 – Walt Disney World

3/21/14 – N/A

3/28/14 – Psych

4/4/14 – How I Met Your Mother

4/11/14 – Stephen Colbert

4/25/14 – Lupita Nyong’o

5/2/14 – John Boyega

5/9/14 – Now That’s What I Call Music

5/16/14 – Superman vs. Batman Batsuit

5/23/14 – Michael Jackson

5/30/14 – Charlie Cox

6/6/14 – Ghostbusters

6/20/14 – The Cold Slither Podcast

6/27/14 – Batman (1989)

7/3/14 – Community

7/11/14 – Garth Brooks

7/18/14 – Marvel

7/25/14 – SDCC 2014

8/1/14 – @MattGuzy

8/8/14 – Guardians of the Galaxy

8/22/14 – Taylor Swift

8/29/14 – Full House

9/5/14 – 14 Year Old Boys

9/12/14 – TMZ

9/19/14 – Alex Trebek’s mustache

9/26/14 – Forever

10/3/14 – “The Simpsons Guy”

10/10/14 – The Flash

10/17/14 – Arrow

10/24/14 – Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer

10/31/14 – Marvel Studios

11/7/14 – Taylor Swift

11/21/14 – Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B

12/5/14 – The Flash/Arrow Teamup

12/12/14 – Girl Meets World

12/19/14 – Ascension

12/29/14 – James Lamb and Jenn Fang

Totaling things up, we have a five-way tie, as Lupita Nyong’o, Taylor Swift, Marvel, Flash, and Arrow each won 2 weeks out of the year. Lupita doesn’t clench West Year Ever, as most of her impact came in the beginning of the year. The Flash doesn’t get it because, while it’s a great series, its second West Week Ever win was the result of a teamup between it and Arrow. The same goes for Arrow itself. So, that brings us to Taylor Swift vs. Marvel. Technically, Marvel Comics won one week, while Marvel Studios won another, and they’re not really the same thing. So, that leaves us with Taylor Swift.

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Taylor Swift’s 1989 was arguably the best pop album of 2014. Really a Robyn album in disguise, the synth-heavy 80s-inspired offering picked up the ball from Miley’s 2013 Bangerz and ran with it. It was a milestone for Taylor, as it officially marked her transition from country to the mainstream. She also rocked the industry model, when she took all of her albums off of Spotify. Everyone thinks that streaming is the future, but Taylor is one of the biggest artists to simply state that the model didn’t work for her. In October, she became New York City’s newest ambassador – due in part to her track “Welcome to New York” from the album. 2014 was the year that the ladies took back pop music from the guys, and Taylor led the charge. When everything’s said and done, nobody had a 2014 quite like Taylor Swift, and that’s why she had the West Year Ever.

2014 was also the second full year of West Week Ever, and I couldn’t do it without you, the readers. Thanks for all your support and I hope you’ll stay with me into 2015!

12th Dec2014

West Week Ever – 12/12/14

by Will

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Can someone pinpoint when Bruce Willis just stopped even trying? I watched A Good Day To Die Hard a few days ago, and it just as easily could’ve been RED 3 or The Whole Eleven Yards.  On the plus side, I was glad they went with an R rating for this one, so it didn’t feel as neutered as Live Free Or Die Hard. That said, it really just felt like a failed “passing the torch” movie. About 75% of Willis’s lines are “I’m on vacation”, while Jai Courtney isn’t charismatic enough to inherit the franchise from Willis. And that plot! This was the first movie where I had to read the wiki entry afterwards just to understand what I just saw. It had all of the ingredients to make me like it – it’s in Russia, it’s Die Hard, it’s rated R – but it just didn’t do it for me. I’m a big Die Hard fan, even though I initially watched them out of order (3, 4, 1, 2), but I can hardly even count this as part of the franchise.

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A Sony email leak revealed the fact that Marvel and Sony had been in discussions for Spider-Man to appear in Captain America: Civil War. The initial plan was for Marvel to produce a trilogy of Spider-Man films where Sony would still retain some quantity of creative control. Talks broke down, however, and now Sony is moving ahead with its own Spidey plans. For example, there are talks of an animated Spider-Man comedy from the 22 Jump Street team.  I’m in the minority here, but I don’t feel like Sony is as adrift with the Spider-Man franchise as some would like to believe. Sure, it’s not as strong as it was during the Raimi days, but I’ve enjoyed the Garfield movies. I don’t see why they just don’t move ahead with a third instead of all of these spinoff ideas (Sinister Six, female-led Spider film, etc).

22 jump street

Speaking of 22 Jump Street, that same Sony leak revealed plans to cross over the Men In Black and Jump Street franchises. The hope is to reinvigorate the MIB franchise, seeing as how the studio lost money on Men In Black 3, despite the fact that it made $624 million worldwide. It’s believed that Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones wouldn’t be in the movie, but would focus on Tatum and Hill interacting with the MIB universe. I’ve got to say that I don’t exactly hate that idea. I’ve never been a huge MIB fan, but I LOVE the Jump Street movies, so I’d be onboard for this.

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Entertainment Weekly got the exclusive reveal of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens character names, and it was done in the form of trading cards. I really hope Finn’s last name is Jenkins, but I’m sure they’ll go with something like “Starwiper”.

Song of the Week: “When Will I See You Again (Japanese)” – The Three Degrees

Things You May Have Missed This Week

-Time Magazine announced the Ebola doctors as their Person of the Year

-Former WWE star Phil “CM Punk” Brooks announced that he has signed with UFC

Mike & Molly‘s 5th season started on CBS

-FX’s Sons of Anarchy ended its 7-season run

Guardians of the Galaxy was released on DVD/Blu Ray

-iPod Classics are selling for up to $900 since Apple quietly discontinued the model

-ABC announced that new comedy Fresh Off the Boat will occupy the Tuesday 8 PM slot formerly filled by Selfie

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-New comic, Bitch Planet, was released by Image Comics. I read it, and don’t understand it, but I love that title.

Links I Loved

How Darude’s “Sandstorm” Became the EDM Track Everyone on the Web Knows – Gawker

Holly Jolly Ninja Turtles Gift Guide – Crooked Ninja

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

The Best Female Character in Sci-Fi & Fantasy – The Robot’s Pajamas

AwesomeToyBlog Holiday Gift Guide Day 7 – Power Rangers – Awesome Toy Blog

The Onion’s Person Of The Year 2014 (TIE) Malala Yousafzai And John Cena – The Onion

ROWAN BLANCHARD, SABRINA CARPENTER, RIDER STRONG, BEN SAVAGE, AUGUST MATURO, DANIELLE FISHEL

I’ve been a booster of Girl Meets World since it was in the rumor stage, but I sort of stopped watching it because it got a little schmaltzy. I came back, however, last week and boy am I glad that I did. You see, it was the Christmas episode and it brought back a lot of the cast that we loved from the original Boy Meets World – namely Cory’s parents and best friend, Shawn Hunter. I was amazed that they packed so much into a half hour episode, but it was a great dose of nostalgia. We even got to meet the teenage version of Cory’s little brother who was born near the end of BMW.

I do have a few little gripes, though: where were Eric and Morgan, and why weren’t they even mentioned? Boy Meets World has a tendency to forget about Morgan, but there’s no excuse for an Eric omission. The news is that he’ll be appearing in season 2, but it really would’ve rounded out the package if he had been in this episode.

Anyway, We find out that Shawn’s still got a wandering soul, as he now travels and blogs about it for his job. Cory’s daughter, Riley, wonders why Uncle Shawn never really pays attention to her when he’s in town, and it turns out that she just reminds him of what his life is missing. And I’m not saying that I relate, per se, but I definitely know where he was coming from. It’s so weird to see that these characters have grown with me, and are now dealing with 30-something problems that I, myself, have to confront. That’s sort of been my issue with Girl Meets World: it’s heavier than I feel a tween show should be. In my teen show experience, everything is supposed to be in neon colors, and the characters are supposed to get into wacky adventures. GMW forgoes all of that, and it really tries to be a coming of age tale of Riley and the things that she has to confront as she grows up. BMW was certainly a more lighthearted show, but maybe this is what this generation needs. What do I know? Well, what I do know is that seeing Rider Strong (that name will never fail to make me laugh) was a welcome treat, and it was nice to see what the character has been up to since we last saw him. Most of my friends who watched it said they loved it, so the show successfully catered to BMW‘s former audience, while still appealing to its new demographic. So, for its Christmas-themed nostalgia, the Girl Meets World had the West Week Ever.

17th Sep2014

West Week Ever – 9/19/14

by Will

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Powers Cast

The first set pic has come from the Powers set, and I’m not impressed. I’ve been following the casting in prior editions of West Week Ever, but I just don’t have a lot of hope for this show. The main thing going against it is that it’s not even on a real network. Hell, straight to Netflix would’ve even worked, but instead it’ll only be on the Playstation Network. Looking at this pic, though, it looks like a fan film. The casting feels off, and it just doesn’t feel like the comic. I could be proven wrong, though…

 

the hubThings aren’t looking good for Hasbro’s The Hub Network, as there are reports that Discovery Communications is trying to gain control of the network and rebrand it as Discovery Family. I never really understood why Hasbro felt they needed a network, especially when they didn’t use it to sell more toys. Sure, there are Transformers and My Little Pony shows, but there are also Blossom and Step By Step reruns. The network has a serious identity crisis, and a takeover by Discovery may be just what it needs.

the-real

First, there was The View. Then, there was The Talk. Apparently, some executive felt there needed to be an urban counterpart, as now we have The Real. Hosted by Tamar Braxton, Jeannie Mai, Loni Love, Tamara Mowry, and Adrienne Bailon, the show premiered this week on local Fox affiliates. It was given a try-out last summer in a few markets, and I guess it was successful enough for a national launch. I haven’t had the pleasure of watching it yet, but it looks like someone threw Bethenny, The Wendy Williams Show, and The View into a blender. I hope it’s the trainwreck that I’m imagining. That pic isn’t doing them any favors, as Tamar looks like a gremlin, while Loni looks tired already.

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Speaking of daytime television, there’s a new court show on the scene: Hot Bench. Have you ever felt like one judge wasn’t enough? No? Never? Well, too bad ’cause this show features 3 judges. Yes, 3 diverse judges listen to a case, and then they go back to their chambers to deliberate. If it’s 2 against 1, the majority verdict wins. It was created by Judge Judy, and I feel like the only reason she would give herself a competitor would be if it involved something crazy like this. On the plus side, they hired Judge Joe Brown‘s bailiff, Sonia Montejano, so she’s no longer out of work.

Darrell Hammond

It was announced yesterday that former cast member Darrell Hammond will assume announcing duties on Saturday Night Live, following the passing of former announcer, Don Pardo. Hammond was always my first choice as the replacement, as it was reported in Live From New York that he even filled in for Pardo a few times when he was too ill to announce. The audience never knew the difference. The question now, however, is will he do a Pardo impression or will he do his own thing?

7th Heaven Reunited

Rounding out all this TV news, the 7th Heaven cast (minus Ruthie) recently got together for dinner. It’s not talked about much anymore, but I always loved the Camdens, and the show ran for 11 seasons! It’s good to see that Jessica Biel still gets along with everyone, considering how badly she wanted to get out of her contract back in the day. As punishment, the writers really ran that character through the mud! Anyway, they all look good, except for David Gallagher. That hair’s not working out so well for him.

chad and avril

It appears the honeymoon is over for Avril Lavigne and Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, as they appear to be breaking up after one year of marriage. Seeing as how everyone hates both of them, I’m not quite sure who I’m supposed to feel sorry for. I’m sure they’ll both eke out some breakup songs, so I guess I should feel sorry for all of us, as we’ll be forced to hear them.

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Over the weekend, I was messing around on Tumblr, sharing old pics I’d posted on Instagram. Well, this pic of Batman in the Dairy Queen now has over 100 likes/reblogs, so let’s just say I’m back to using Tumblr again. Follow me at wbwest.tumblr.com!

In Case You Missed It This Week

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

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Well, since this was a TV-centric West Week Ever, it only makes sense that the winner of the week also come from television. After a 13 year absence (I really can’t believe it’s been 13 years!), this fixture returned to nightly television. That’s right, Alex Trebek’s mustache is BACK, and Jeopardy will never be the same!!!! Actually, I’m pretty sure it’ll be the same, but it’s like a bushy old friend has returned. What do you want from me, folks? Nothing really happened this week, so this is what you get! After a long absence, Alex Trebek’s mustache had the West Week Ever.

05th Jan2014

Adventures West Coast – Saga Vol 1

by Will

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OK, Saga. You won this round.

Saga

I really didn’t want to like this series, and it took me several tries to actually get into it. I first encountered Saga in the comic shop when the debut issue shipped. I made the mistake of turning to a particular page, which left me wondering “Why are these TV-headed people having doggiestyle sex?” Clearly, that wasn’t going to be the best introduction to this tale! I also decided that I didn’t like the art, so I walked away. Yet, the world continued to rave about how great of a book it was. A few weeks back, I found a reprint of that first issue for $1 at the VA Comicon, so I decided to give it another chance. I didn’t hate it as much as I’d expected, but it still didn’t do much for me. Still, the hype machine continued to laud the series with praises. A pal of mine told me not to judge it until I tried the first volume. Luckily, I got it on sale a few weeks back, and finally got a chance to read it over the weekend. Well, as much as I hate to admit it, he was right. The first volume was a much better sampling of the story, and I really enjoyed it.

Before we get into the whats and wherefores with Saga, let’s back up a little. Why was I expecting the worst? Well, it has something to do with writer Brian K. Vaughan. I’ve ranted about this to anyone who’ll listen, but it basically comes down to this: Vaughan is a great idea man, but he’s not a “closer”. The endings of his longform series have always left me disappointed. His major contribution to the Marvel Universe, Runaways, had a non-ending because new writers were coming aboard. Y: The Last Man switched gears about 2/3 of the way in, and became a story that was about the journey and not the destination. The ending of Ex Machina made me want to throw the book at a wall. The only Vaughan ending I ever enjoyed was the Marvel Knights Wolverine: Logan series – mainly because he only had three issues with which to work his story. Oh, and Pride of Baghdad was also good.

Going back to Y, that leads to something I dislike about Saga: because the story is told looking back from the perspective of the grown up baby, you know that the baby survives. I feel this takes some of the suspense out of the story, eliminating the “anything could happen” aspect. By using this vantage point, however, Vaughan is setting up from the beginning that this story is definitely about the journey rather than the destination. While I don’t tend to like those types of stories (because they tend to come at the cost of a satisfying ending), I’m more OK with it here since the story was set up that way from the beginning; there was no switching gears midway through the story.

So, what did I like about Saga? Well, the series is full of so many WTF?! moments that you can’t help but get engrossed. Why are the robots having sex? How are the robots getting pregnant? How is the topless, armless woman a spider?! Plus, there are enough crazy bounty hunters to give Cowboy Bebop a run for its money. What, at it’s core, is simply a story about two starcrossed lovers trying to protect their baby from threats from all corners of the galaxy, is enhanced by the rich world that Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples have created. This could have easily been “Romeo and Juliet with a baby”, but instead it’s so much more. Plus, how can you hate a book with a panel like this?

2014-01-05 02.01.56An alligator butler!

You got me, Saga. I wanted to hate you, but now I just wanna see what happens next. I’m trusting you here, so don’t let me down, Vaughan. I’m giving you one last chance, so please don’t let me down.

02nd Dec2013

Virginia Comicon (& Rob Liefeld) In Pictures

by Will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And here’s my haul:

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01st Apr2013

Comical Thoughts – Changing The Way I Think About Comics

by Will

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While I understand today’s date makes one question everything read, I assure that this is not a joke. This was actually a hard conclusion to come to, as I’ve been dealing with this for the past few months. Anyway, I have decided that the time has come to get rid of the bulk of my comic collection. While the show was a laughing stock of a disaster, there was one thing that I took away from Elyse Luray’s Collection Intervention: it’s important to curate a collection. We live in an age where everyone with a Twitter account thinks they’re a “curator of pop culture” and the like, but it all boils down to the fact that they’ve got certain taste, and what they follow should adhere to that. It’s all too simple for collecting to simply turn into hoarding. I’ve realized that I really haven’t collected in years. Actually, all I was doing was keeping, without any regard to whether or not possession was warranted. Eventually, the “collection” grew to 20 longboxes spread between two houses. I don’t know what I have anymore. All the covers bleed together, and I’ve got no sort of filing system. Long story short, I had about 10,000 books with nothing to really show for it. Something had to change.

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Let’s be honest here: none of these things are worth anything. The general rule is that, with a few exceptions, nothing printed in the past 25 years is worth anything. Think of it this way: those comics were printed under the guise of one day being collectible. The books that are worth money hail from an age when comics were a disposable pastime, purchased for a nickel. People abused those books, and few survived, so those that did are worth money. Fast forward to the 80s and the evolution of the “direct market”. Instead of buying Superman at the newsstand, there were now comic shops – whole businesses dedicated to the sale of what was once disposable. It’s like if a network of POG stores had arisen in the early 90s. To keep people coming back, and to promote the longevity of the medium, the collectability of comics was promoted. Instead of the old approach of “you should read this because it’s fun”, comics became “you should buy this because it’s an investment.” Notice how I didn’t say “read” in that last sentence. It didn’t matter if you read them. Hell, reading them actually hurt their value. No, instead you were to buy them, get minimal fingerprints on them, and get them safely into a bag, with a backing board for support. That’s why every first issue released in the late 80s/early 90s had “#1 Collector’s Item Issue” emblazoned next to whatever die-cut/hologram/prismatic/scratch & sniff cover gimmick they were using that month. I’ve admitted it before, but I fell for all of that.

Fast forward to when I worked for Diamond. This was before budget cuts at publishers, so comps were still being sent out. I amassed a ton of books I’d never actually buy from Image, Dynamite Entertainment, and even Marvel. I got all of World War Hulk that way, and I don’t think I’d ever spent money on a Hulk comic at that point. After a while, I wasn’t really collecting things I liked. Instead, I was just keeping things that I kinda loathed. There were series I despised, yet kept buying because I felt more fulfilled by knowing that I had a complete run of the series. What does that mean, really? Honestly, it simply cost me space and sanity. To look at it in real estate terms, the crap books were lowering the property value of the good ones. As I started focusing on Will’s World of Wonder, I had a lot less time for comics. I stopped going to the shop every Wednesday, and when I did buy comics (usually from Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million for convenience), they sat around, unread for months. The only books that I actually looked forward to getting were the Marvel Ultimate Universe books and Deadpool. Basically, comics just got in the way. As therapeutic as I find bagging & boarding (I do!), the books are just stacked in corners and in steamer trunks. That’s not how things should be.

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Then, the reboots happened. First, DC threw out their universe during Flashpoint (written about here), and restarted with The New 52. Yeah, except the books I was reading didn’t change anything. See, DC felt that took much work had been put into the Green Lantern and Batman franchises, so their events basically remained unchanged, yet were now forced into the compressed timeline of this new universe. So, I had to learn a new universe, while also trying to make it work with what I already knew. Ain’t nobody got time for that! I’d been reading the Bat books, but really didn’t enjoy them. People are prepared to give Scott Snyder their firstborn, while I’m simply not impressed by the non-event events he keeps forcing into the book. And I just don’t have it in me to reacquaint myself with characters I knew, yet apparently don’t know anymore. The first DC hero I loved wasn’t Batman, but it was actually Tim Drake’s Robin. My first trade paperback was “Robin: A Hero Reborn”. Now, however, he apparently was never Robin. Great…

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Meanwhile, Marvel hopped aboard the “clean slate” train, and gave us Marvel NOW – most of the books restarting at #1, with “bold, new directions”. Or Marvel just wants the comics to look like the movies. Whatever it is, I’m still in Marvel THEN. I haven’t read any of their gimmicks, from the recent “death” of Peter Parker, to the new flagship team of “Uncanny Avengers”, I just don’t have it in me. Why should I care? Once I get comfortable, they’ll just change everything for the sake of change. It’s like going back to a boyfriend who beats you. They don’t care about me, as long as I hate myself enough to keep giving them $4 (FOUR DOLLARS?!!) per book, per month. Something had to change.

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So, here we are. What am I saying? Well, over the past 6 months, I have offloaded about 2,000 books from the collections via Craigslist. Though it may seem like a drop in the bucket, it’s very freeing. I didn’t make a fortune off of them. In fact, I only got about $0.10 per book. Yup, I ended up getting 1969 retail for $2.99-$3.99 books. But I didn’t care. They were already a sunk cost, especially since they’re non-returnable. There are folks in the area who are getting back into comics, and they love the idea of a cheap, ready-made collection. Sure, the fanboy investor in me still kept a lot of the #1s, but I got rid of a bunch of junk. At the same time, it was more about the redistribution of space. Oddly enough, a 6-issue trade paperback takes up a lot less space than those same 6 issues individually. Plus, the TPB can go on a shelf, while the books have to go in something, taking up space. Also, I’ve always been impressed by people who talk about rereading favorite story arcs and series. Do you know how hard it is to reread comics that are in stacked longboxes, individually bagged and boarded, with scotch tape? There are times I’ve wanted to revisit an old tale, and then end up tired just thinking about all the work it’d take to get to the books. Collected editions are simply easier to read, easier to store, and easier to handle.

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So, I initiated Operation: Trade Up. Over winter break (I love working in education!), I used Christmas and birthday money, as well as whatever was in my Paypal (it’s not “real” money until it’s in a bank account) to find the cheapest trade paperbacks I could find. You see, there were stories that I enjoyed, but just didn’t need to have in their “original” versions. As for condition, trade paperbacks don’t have to be in great shape. They’re, by nature, reprints, so they could be beat to Hell as long as they’re intact. My only qualification was that the spine needed to be intact so that I can easily identify the book on the shelf. Other than that, the cheaper the better. I went through all the boxes, and got rid of everything I felt didn’t really belong in my “collection”. Books that held no special meaning, books I’d gotten for free, incomplete miniseries, and stories that have since been retconned. That’s how I got to the initial 2,000. I say initial because I’m not done. At the end of the day, I’d like to be down to no more than 10 longboxes. Seeing as how they each hold approximately 350 comics, we’re looking at 3,500 comics. That may sound crazy, but it’s not too bad when you remember I’ve been doing this for 20 years. That’s roughly 15 books/month purchased over that 20 year period, which isn’t absurd. And I think I can actually pare it down even further than that.

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Where am I now? Well, as I mentioned above, I’ve gotten rid of about 2100 books, and that’s just since I really started to focus on getting rid of books. I’d been doing 50 here, 100 there for the past 5 years or so. Meanwhile, I’ve foolishly had to repurchase storylines that, in many cases, I’d already purchased. Still, many of them were cheap enough that I had clearly spent more on worse. Just as before, I looked at the venture as an investment, only this time I wasn’t look at them for financial gain. Instead, this was an investment in sanity, space, and order. Over the course of the last 4 months, those 2100 books have been replaced by 112 TPBs. Not all stories were worthy of being rebought, while I’m still seeking a few others. Space isn’t really a concern, as I already have 2 IKEA Billy bookcases, and have the wall space for another, if needed. I think I’m heading in the right direction, even if the whole “rebuying” thing sounds questionable.

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Now, where does that leave me with current books? I’m not really sure. I’ve already soured on most of the new stuff coming out of the publishers, but I think I have the biggest problem with the price point. These things just aren’t worth $4 each. Same gimmicks, same bait & switch. Comics have succeeded in regressing back to being disposable. Lucikily, as I discussed here, I’ve found a cheaper alternative: $1 boxes at hotel shows. They’re recent books, and it’s just a dollar. How many things can you get for that price anymore? So far, I’ve taken advantage of it for the first issues of a lot of Marvel NOW. If I like what I see, I might keep buying. If it’s really great, I may upgrade to the collected edition once it becomes available. As with all things, the future’s unwritten, and always changing, but I think I’ve finally gotten a handle on the past. And that’s a good feeling. I’m done simply amassing, and I’m going to explore what it really means to collect again.

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