Last weekend, I made my 3rd trip to Retro Con in Oaks, PA. If you’re not familiar with Retro Con, it’s a fairly new pop culture convention devoted to the toys and cartoons of the 80s and 90s. The show has become something of an annual tradition amongst some of my Twitter friends, as it serves as a chance to meet up in real life. I made the trip up with my Thrift Justice partner Mike (@trooperlite), as well as my pal @classickmateria from The Cold Slither Podcast Network. We also brought along my good friend from college, James (@snoopyjenkins). James had never experienced anything like this, so I really didn’t know what to expect from him. He was in town for his job, and since he didn’t have anything to do before his flight home, I decided he should come along for the ride. I think he was a little apprehensive at first, but he quickly warmed up to the whole thing.
Yeah, I think it’s safe to say James had fun!
Once we got to the show, we jumped right into exploring the convention floor. In the past, I felt that the prices that dealers were asking were a little too “gougey”. A lot of us have come to know this phenomenon as The Toy Hunter Effect, as that show made everyone think their piece of crap was some sort of a rare gem. Well, that show’s over, and it seems like the Effect went along with it. The vintage items were all reasonably priced, and the new items weren’t that much more than retail. For example, I’ve been trying to track down the recently released Marvel Legends Hulkbuster wave. These figures have just started showing up at retail in the past few weeks, retailing for $20 each. I needed 2 particular figures in order to complete my Hulkbuster, and I ended up paying $25 each for them. I figure saving the time and gas was worth paying the extra $5.
Now, usually I would post a ton of cosplay pics, but I just wasn’t feeling it for this show. It’s not that there weren’t costumes, because there were quite a few. In fact, there was a cosplay contest hosted by the Real Life Peter Griffin who went viral a few months back. My issue, though, was that the level of creativity wasn’t that high, in my opinion. Sure, the folks looked like they were having fun, but having been to SDCC, NYCC, and countless other shows, I just didn’t feel like the craftsmanship was as sharp as I’ve seen at other shows. So, yes, I’ve become a convention snob. There were a handful of costumes, however, that impressed me.
You never see Putties! I’m glad these Rangers were there to save me.
This Serpentor was AMAZING. He even had the fan in the bottom of his chariot.
Crossplay Lion-O. Her kids were also Thundercats, but they didn’t feel like being in my picture :-(
Miles Mayhem from M.A.S.K. The host didn’t know who he was supposed to be, so she just kinda skipped announcing his name to the crowd. The hosts kinda sucked at identifying costumes…
As always, you can count on finding some amazing vintage toys at this show. As I said before, the prices used to be somewhat outrageous, but it seems like things are calming down on that front. I didn’t really buy anything vintage, but for those who were there for that, I’m sure they weren’t disappointed. Let’s take a look at some of the stuff up for sale, shall we?
My meager Retro Con haul
At the end of the day, it was an enjoyable time. I still don’t feel like there’s enough demand for the show to be a 2-day event, as that seems like the kind of thing you grow into. I’ve only done one day every year, so I’m not sure if they have a ton of folks who partake in the whole weekend. I did hear that dealers weren’t having the best day, as stuff wasn’t moving. This was somewhat disappointing, as the prices weren’t that high. Maybe it’s the kind of event where people like to look but not buy. I know I like to see a bunch of this stuff, but I have no real desire to own it (or I already own it, but it’s in storage). I hope the show did well, though, as I look forward to having it serve as the site of my yearly Twitter meetup. With that in mind, I’ll definitely be going back next year. For another take on the show, be sure to check out Shawn’s post over at Branded in the 80s!
The only thing I watched this week of note was Amy Winehouse BBC Sessions 2007 – Live at Porchester Hall. Apparently, I have some channel called Palladia, which is owned by Viacom, and only shows music programming. You know those folks who are all “Remember when MTV used to play music?” Well, this network is for them. Anyway, I was channel surfing and came across this special. I HAD to watch it ’cause I actually had a thing for Amy Winehouse. Like Demi Lovato, she was sexy in an ugly girl kind of way (ya know, like Sensational Sherri back in the old WWF days). The special wasn’t that great. Amy was drinking between and during songs, and slurred through some of the songs. She’d try to talk between sets, but I don’t know what the Hell she was saying. It was actually kinda sad, as I actually saw Amy live back when Virgin was still throwing the annual MegaFest (this predated the more recent FreeFest). That was a much bigger venue, but I felt like she handled herself better than she did in the intimate setting of Porchester Hall. It’s still such a sad story, considering what her career could’ve been. When you really look at it, she only had one album that mattered (nobody cared about her debut, Frank, until Back to Black became a hit), and I would love to know if her sound would’ve just been a flash in the pan, or if it would’ve evolved somehow. It could be said that Back to Black was as much Mark Ronson’s album as it was Amy’s, so I guess we could look to his subsequent work for clues. Welp, I guess we Amy fans will never know, and we’ll have to hitch our wagons to Adele.
Oh, I did watch something else – the Seth MacFarlane-produced Blunt Talk debuted on Starz last weekend. Starring Patrick Stewart as Walter Blunt, a Piers Morgan-esque TV host, I’m not quite sure how I feel about the show. Naturally, we’re going to like Blunt because, well, he’s Patrick Stewart. He’s simply impossible to dislike. That said, we’re supposed to dislike him, as Blunt’s a multiple divorcee with a substance abuse problem. In the pilot, he’s arrested for soliciting a prostitute, who happens to be trans, and then has to figure out how spin the incident in order to save his dwindling career. Does his plan work? Not sure. He collapsed at the end of the episode, so we’ll have to wait until next week to see. I’m typically a MacFarlane fan, but I’m not sure this show did it for me. I’ll give it a few more chances, mainly because I want to see if we get any more Trekcameos (Brent Spiner was in the pilot).
If there’s one thing that I am these days, it’s a fat kid. So, as a fat kid, imagine my joy when I learned of the McWhopper! Proposed by Burger King to bring awareness to World Peace Day (September 21, 2015), they wanted to create a sandwich that merged the popular Whopper and Big Mac sandwiches from both brands. BK designed a handy website detailing their plans, and they had thought of everything – uniforms, package design, etc. Sadly, they had decided to hold it at the midway point between both of their corporate headquarters, so the sandwich would only be sold in pop-up stores in Atlanta. They felt that the best way to be an example for peace would be, for one day, to call a truce in the Burger War between the two companies. All they needed was McDonald’s blessing. And McDonald’s said no. UGH!
McDonald’s didn’t allude to what this “something bigger” might be, so it just comes off as a cop-out. It’s especially sad since BK was doing all the work, and it would’ve been a cool gesture. I certainly would’ve cared more about that than some folks pouring buckets of ice water over their heads. Peace is a good thing and all that, but I also wanna behold the frankenburger that would be the McWhopper! I say BK should just go ahead and do it by themselves. After all, the Big King is a brazen rip-off of McDonald’s Big Mac (only the patties are flame-broiled), so BK already has all of the ingredients. They should just create the Peace Whopper for that day. Everyone could have their McWhopper and eat it, too!
On the music front, UK boyband One Direction announced that they will go on hiatus sometime next year in order to focus on solo projects. Take it from me – this is the end of One Direction. Their pop chart rivals, The Wanted, announced their own hiatus last year, and that was the last we ever heard from them. The whole “taking a break to work on solo projects” NEVER works. It can only end one of two ways: A) the solo albums fail and the group members crawl back to each other (see: Backstreet Boys) or B) one of them is wildly successful and leaves the others in the dust (see: *NSYNC). Remember, *NSYNC’s been “on hiatus” since 2002. Then again, UK groups do have a better track record with this sort of thing if the timing is right. STEPS got back together, as did S Club 7. And the reality show The Big Reunion showed that there are more UK groups waiting in the wings for the comeback treatment. So, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Meanwhile, read this hilarious take on the situation by “Joey Fatone”.
In comic news, Marvel announced that their 8-issue Secret Wars event series will now feature…a NINTH ISSUE! Man, this really grinds my gears, and I’m not really sure why. I mean, if it was originally supposed to be 9 issues, they should’ve told us that in the beginning. The book has already been shipping late, so how will this help things? It feels like a cash grab, which I don’t really appreciate. Plus, they say it won’t affect the All-New, All-Different launches that are planned for October, so this feels more like an epilogue. Why not just call it Secret Wars: Epilogue instead of renumbering the whole series? I know it’s all irrational, but it just doesn’t sit well with me.
Speaking of Marvel, this teaser image was leaked for Captain America: Civil War, revealing the sides that the heroes will take. I don’t really see many surprises here, although I think it would’ve been interesting if Rhodey had chosen Cap’s side. I mean, they’re both military men, and I’d love to see Tony and Rhodey at odds to see how that would play out onscreen. Plus, I really don’t see why Black Panther would choose Tony’s side. I mean, besides the fact that they’re both rich and smart, their ideologies are quite different. I can’t even remember whose side Black Panther was on in the comic, ’cause that was during that stupid period where he was married to Storm and they were making diplomatic trips across the globe.
Last week, I had the pleasure of joining the Nerd Lunch crew to discuss things in pop culture that get a “bad rap”. It started with a discussion of my thoughts on Fant4stic Four, but we covered other topics like Constantine, The Matrix sequels and more. Be sure to check it out here.
Things You Might Have Missed This Week
-Alison Brie & Dave Franco are engaged. Lucky son of a bitch…
-In “Duh” News, Vin Diesel is confirmed for Guardians of the Galaxy 2
-Speaking of Vin Diesel, he’s apparently returning to the xXx franchise. Filming will begin in December in the Philippines. Also, never Google “Vin Diesel xxx” while in polite company….
-Actor, and former NFL player, Matt Willig has been cast as Lash, an Inhuman in the upcoming season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I don’t know this dude or his character…
-In the most recent Captain Underpants book, one of the protagonists was revealed to be gay. With a move this bold and important, I’m amazed this isn’t getting more press anywhere.
I never thought I’d be an Adult Swim viewer. Back in the day, I thought it pretty much existed to entertain stoners. And while I wasn’t wrong, I soon learned that you could enjoy the shows while sober as well. One of the first shows I checked out was this weird thing called Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I had no clue what the title meant, but it was a weird show about a trio of fast food products that talked. Early on, they were supposed to be detectives, but they dropped that angle pretty quickly. I grew to love Frylock, Master Shake, and Meatwad, as they argued over whether The Highlander was based on a true story, or if their attic was haunted by a monster. After 15 years on the air, this week saw the series finale of Aqua Teen Hunger Force (now referred to as Aqua Teen Hunger Force Forever).
Titled “The Last One Forever and Ever (For Real This Time) (We Fucking Mean It)”, the double-length episode followed the trio as they embarked on a dangerous mission to replace Frylock’s jewel and save his life. Do they succeed? I won’t spoil that for you, but I will say that it was an oddly sad episode – not just because it was the end of an era, but also because of the episode’s epilogue. At 12:30 Monday morning, I said goodbye to 3 old friends. The Aqua Teen Hunger Force wasn’t going down without a fight, however. On Wednesday, in conjunction with Destiny: The Taken King, a secret final, FINAL episode was released online. Titled “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, it followed Frylock and Carl as they gained immortality from the Highlander himself, Christopher Lambert. After the heaviness of Sunday’s finale, it was nice to see them back to their old antics. It was the ATHF that I’d loved all these years.
According to reports, the creators weren’t ready to end the show. It was the longest-running original series on Adult Swim, and Adult Swim president Mike Lazzo simply thought it was time to move on. With 139 episodes under their belt, I doubt ATHF will be leaving Adult Swim’s schedule any time soon. So, for giving me 15 years of laughs (and for redeeming its finale with that secret episode), Aqua Teen Hunger Force had the West Week Ever.
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.
Jedi Family. I love that little girl so much!
Scarlet Witch in an awesome Marvel dress
Bazooka from G.I. Joe
Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop
Static Shock and Arsenals
Modern-Day Luke Cage
Bob Ross and his happy little trees
Casey Jones and April O’Neil
Crossplay Star-Lord and Rocket Raccoon
Agents Scully and Carter
Crossplay Assassin’s Creed
I HAD to take a pic of this guy’s shirt. Bonus points if you know what movie it’s referencing.
Batman ’66. And the “POW!” was the icing on the cake!
Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man
Power Couple Luke Cage and Jewel, AKA Jessica Jones
Captain America USO Girl
Big Hero 6’s Honey Lemon and Gogo Tamago
The Stalk from Saga
Squirrel Girl and Captain America USO Girl
Agent Phil Coulson
Power Rangers family
Captain America USO Girl/Crossplay Captain America?
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.
Well, welcome back to Thrift Justice: Yard Sale Edition. If it’s your first time here, this is where I share my hauls from yard sales, as opposed to the regular Thrift Justice, which is where I showcase my thrift store hauls. Anyway, I had a pretty nice weekend, so I thought it was time to dust off this column and get down to business. There are tons of yard sale haul posts out there, but there’s only one Thrift Justice. Well, two Thrift Justices. You know what I mean.
The day started out slowly enough, as I found myself at a sale that looked promising on Cragislist. In the pics, I had seen a LEGO storage head and something that I was pretty sure was a Kenner The Real Ghostbusters Ghostzapper. I got there just in time to see a guy walk off with a Star Trek: The Next Generation Enterprise-D in the box. Curses! After looking around a bit, I realized that they weren’t exactly charging “yard sale prices”. I should’ve known when I saw a guy with a trailer set up in the driveway, selling antique dolls. Those never go cheap! The LEGO storage head was empty, and not much cheaper than retail. Oh, and the Ghostzapper was actually the Ghostpopper, but they wanted $8 for it without any of its foam ammo (which can’t really be replaced in 2015). They also had a bunch of Thermoses, but nothing too exciting. I didn’t want to leave emptyhanded, though, so I took a look at the books. That’s when I found this Marvel 75th Anniversary magazine. Apparently, it was free when it was originally released, but I’d never seen it before. I hate paying for things that were meant to be free. Still, I like a good anniversary book, so I forked over the dollar. Trust me, the day gets better after this.
Next, I found myself at a church sale, which can really go either way. I find that church sales really depend on the denomination. Baptist sales won’t sell anything that goes against their beliefs. I once went to one that had taken some dinosaurs off the sales table because, well, dinosaurs. Luckily, this was not a Baptist church. I found these G1 Transformers in a quarter box near the door. What we have here are Insecticons Shrapnel and Bombshell. I wonder if I could’ve found Kickback if I had gotten to the sale earlier. Anyway, this was a good sign that I had stumbled upon something special.
My latest thing is collecting really old games, especially board games. Even if the pieces aren’t all there, I’m fascinated by the box art. If you get them cheap enough, you can get a good pic of them and then donate them or something. This is Don’t Break The Ice, which was released by Schaper Manufacturing in 1970. The game is still being made, as part of Milton Bradley’s Cootie Games brand, but the box art isn’t nearly as groovy. I got it for a dollar, so it seemed worth it. Here’s something I find interesting: 45 years ago, this game was suggested for kids ages 5-10. Now, however, it’s recommended for kids ages 3-6. We’ve gotten smarter, America!
The church had quite the vintage game selection, so next I picked up Tip-iT. This is the 1965 edition from the Ideal Toy Company. This game is still being made by Mattel, but it doesn’t look anywhere near this cool. That little girl is enthralled by what she sees happening, while the little boy is tackling the game with the precision of a bomb squad member. There’s another boy who apparently never learned that you never turn your back to the audience. Meanwhile, Dad is just glad that Mom’s in the kitchen making his dinner. Hey, it was a different time!
I love games like this because I’m a glutton for punishment. This Manhunt game is described as “The Electric Computer Detective Game”, but that probably means that the batteries have corroded in the “computer”, or it’s missing a battery cover or something. I have no faith that this thing works, but it’s like the lottery: you’ve gotta be in it to win it. Plus, look at the lapels on the kid on the box! I like how the box art is split between actual gameplay and the fantasy of gameplay. The left side looks nowhere near as exciting as the right, but they’re hoping you won’t figure that out. Anyway, it, too, was a dollar.
This really isn’t all that special. I just kinda liked the 1970s idea of “wealth”. I mean, look at those skyscrapers! They were so state-of-the-art at the time, but so dated now. Again, I grabbed it because it was a dollar. I was making it RAIN up in that church!
This I had to have because the box was huge by board game standards. It’s basically Battleship, but with a 3D board. Again, I have no idea if it’s complete, but it was so 70s that I just had to have it. Again, like the Manhunt game, I like the splitscreen showing fantasy versus reality. As big as the set up game looks, however, it actually seems to be more interesting than the fantasy of the gameplay. This was three dollars, but so worth it. At least, that’s how I feel without having taken inventory of all the parts. Out of all the games I bought, it has the most value on the secondary market, so I’ll flip it if it’s complete enough.
I went hardcore on Saturday, going to nearly 20 yard sales once everything was said and done. As these things are wont to happen, my greatest item came near the end of the day. I found myself at a Knight of Columbus sale, where everything was being sold under tents. There was a little house on the property, which served as the “boutique”. Everything under the tents was some garbage, so I didn’t expect to find anything great inside. Looking around the little house, I was right. The most promising thing I found was the Double Dare home game, but the box was kinda busted up. So, I decided to take one last look around, and that’s when I found this high up on a shelf.
Yes, it’s the recently released complete DVD collection of the 1966 Batman television series. And it was still sealed. Of course, it had a $100 price tag on it, so they were going for close to retail. That just didn’t seem to fit with the general ambiance of the sale, so I grabbed it and held it tight as I contemplated my next move. The devil on my shoulder told me to just peel the tag off so they’d have to figure out a price on the fly. They had tons of stuff there, so surely they wouldn’t remember what they had on there, right? No, that wouldn’t have been right (and no, I’ve never done that before!). So, I decided to just check and see if it was their final offer.
I went up to the guy manning the cash register, and asked, “Is this really $100?” He said, “Well, that’s what they sell it for online. In fact, they ask $200 for it.” I pretended to be surprised. I’ve had my eye on the set for a few months, so I knew what it went for. As I was putting it back on the shelf, as he said, “You could make me an offer.” I said, “Nah, I trust ya.” That’s when he surprised me. He said, “I’ll tell ya what – I’ll sell it to ya for $20.” Yes, the bill that everyone wants to put Harriet Tubman on. TWENTY DOLLARS. Instead of ONE HUNDRED. That’s cheaper than one season of the series on DVD, and here he was offering me the whole series for $20! “SOLD,” I told him! I quickly fished a twenty out of my pocket, gave it to him, and shuffled to my car before he realized he’d made a mistake. My eyes darted both ways, as if I’d stolen something. I couldn’t believe it. I love me some Batman, and I’d pretty much resigned myself to never getting this set, since it was so expensive and I had a convention bootleg set I’d never finished watching. I drove off and met my wife and kid for some well-deserved Chipotle. I did the right thing, and I was rewarded for it. Or I kinda robbed that guy. I don’t know. I guess it depends on where you stand.
This was a week of me binge-watching short comedy series online. I started things out with Other Space on Yahoo Screen. I mentioned the show in last week’s post, but I hadn’t gotten around to watching it. Created by Paul Feig (Bridesmaids and The Heat), the show is set in the year 2105, and focuses on the young, inept crew of a spaceship that finds itself stranded in a parallel dimension. I’ve admired Feig since I read his book, Superstud, so I had to check out this series. I came for the creator, but I stayed for Milana Vayntrub, AKA Lily Adams from the AT&T commercials. First, let me say this: I hate webseries. There’s always something “This isn’t quite good enough for television” about them. And this show looks and feels like a webseries. Still, I powered through the 8-episode run with ease, as the cast is good, and the writing’s pretty funny. For you Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans, Joel Hodgson and Trace Beaulieu are also part of the cast. It’s got humor, it’s got pretty ladies, and it’s got space – there’s something for everyone!
Next up, I binged Scrotal Recall on Netflix. Yes, that’s its actual name, but the show is so much better than that questionable moniker. Imagine if How I Met Your Mother had more sex, and no Lily & Marshall. That’s basically this show. There’s a Ted, there’s a Barney, and there’s a Robin. The hook, however, is a bit more mature than HIMYM: when Dylan discovers that he has chlamydia, he has to notify his former sexual partners to let them know that they need to get tested. Then, we follow those past relationships as the show jumps around the timeline. Meanwhile, Dylan is secretly in love with his best friend, Evie – who happens to also be in love with him. However, she’s about to be married to another guy. Will they finally admit their feelings to each other before it’s too late? The series originally aired on Channel 4 in the UK last year, and I continue to be impressed by how much British showrunners are able to cram into a mere 6 episodes of a series. It was great to see Antonia Thomas again, who I discovered when she played Alisha on the Channel 4 series Misfits. Also, if they ever make a US version of the show, June Diane Raphael HAS to play Helen. Anyway, I’m really hoping for a second season, as I really like the ensemble, and there’s definitely more ground to cover. In the tradition of My Name Is Earl, Dylan has a pretty sizable list of women he needs to contact, and we only get through the first 5 in this season.
Next, I watched The Babadook on Netflix. A 2014 horror movie with a lot of buzz around it, I felt like I had to watch this movie. Now, I’m not exactly a horror fan – in fact, I don’t like the genre much at all. Still, I’d heard nothing but good things about this movie, so it seemed to be worth my time. Well, what did I think? Babadook? More like Babadookie. Seriously, what did people see in this movie? If you’re not familiar with it, the movie focuses on a single mother and her son in Australia. Amelia’s husband died on the way to the hospital for her to give birth, so it’s just been her and the son, Samuel, for the past 7 years. And it’s starting to take its toll on her. One night, she lets Samuel choose the book she’s going to read to him before bed, and he picks a book called Mister Babadook. In the story, there’s a creature called Mr. Babadook who begs to be let in, and will never leave once you do so. The story basically terrorizes the son, as he begins to see the Babadook everywhere, and he’s scared something’s going to happen to his mom. The mom refuses to believe in the Babadook, but as she continues to go without sleep, strange things begin to happen around the house. That’s the basic gist of it. To me, the biggest problem is that the Babadook just isn’t that visually frightening. He looks like something from a Tim Burton movie. Anyway, I was pretty unsatisfied and I don’t get the hype that surrounded this movie. Was it the fact that it was a horror movie by a female director? Did I miss something? The main brunt of the movie seems to be “Single parenting is a BITCH!”, but the Babadook himself? Not so scary.
I’ve written about it a bunch, but it was officially announced this week that Fuller House is happening, and will premiere on Netflix in 2016. The show will follow widowed veterinarian DJ Tanner, who needs help raising her 2 kids (with another on the way). So, best friend Kimmy Gibbler, along with her own teenage daughter, Ramona, moves in to help out. Finally, Stephanie Tanner, now a musician, will also move in to lend a hand. John Stamos will produce the show, and also guest star as Uncle Jessie. I like this idea, but I’m somewhat surprised it went to Netflix. After all, this show seems tailor-made for ABC Family’s comedy slate, especially with the aging Melissa & Joey on the way out this summer. I can think of about 3 cable networks that would be a better home to this show than Netflix, but I guess Netflix is trying to expand its offerings. Based on the media coverage this thing has been getting, they just may have chosen a winner.
There was a lot of hubbub this week regarding Ben Affleck. No, I’m not talking about the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer. You see, Affleck was on the PBS series Finding Your Roots, where he discovered that one of his ancestors owned slaves. Well, thanks to leaked emails, we discovered that Affleck asked that that particular part be cut from his episode. Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., the host of the show, wasn’t sure how to handle the situation, as detailed in the email thread. Eventually, the show acquiesced, and the segment was removed. Once news of this broke, there was outcry that Affleck shouldn’t have asked/the show shouldn’t have complied with his request. Affleck finally addressed the situation on Facebook, saying:
“I didn’t want any television show about my family to include a guy who owned slaves. I was embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth.”
He also pointed out that Finding Your Roots isn’t a news show, so it’s not like he was compromising journalistic integrity. I kinda see both sides of the situation. On the one hand, if you’re an American, you’ve got to know there’s a *chance* your ancestors owned slaves. That goes for both races. However, he’s right in that it wasn’t a news show, and they had to go with what made the most sense from an entertainment standpoint. Considering he didn’t want that aspect known, and PBS didn’t initially want to cut it, I feel like they just should’ve scrapped the episode. Move on to the next celebrity and keep it moving. There’s currently an ongoing internal investigation at PBS to determine if the omission violated PBS editorial standards.
The television corner of the Marvel Universe certainly had a busy week. First off, it was revealed that 12 Years A Slave writer John Ridley was creating a Marvel Universe show for ABC. Later in the week, that rumor expanded, implying that he was working on a series based on current Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan. Next, Deadline Hollywood reported that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would be spinning off the characters of Mockingbird and her ex-husband Nick Hunter, in a Mr. & Mrs. Smith-esque spy drama. Finally, it was announced that Daredevil has been renewed for a second season, albeit with new showrunners.
Thoughts? Well, I kinda like Kamala Khan as a character, even though I think her powers are stupid. I wonder if America’s ready for a show starring a female Muslim hero, but “you never know what you can do until you try”, right? Ridley’s 2006 Wildstorm miniseries The American Way showed that he understands heroes, while his current TV series, ABC’s American Crime, shows that he can handle culture clashes. He’s an interesting choice for a Marvel project, but I’d be really curious to see what he could bring to that universe.
As for the Mockingbird show, I feel like they should focus on making Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a solid show before spinning off one of its best components. I’m not the biggest Mockingbird fan, but I’ll admit that the show has gotten more interesting since her debut. This new series is being looked at as a companion show to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and may run concurrently, like Once Upon A Time and Once Upon A Time In Wonderland so unsuccessfully tried last season. If they do a spinoff, I’d be OK with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. going away, and letting the spinoff replace it. It’d be like how Benson went on to last twice as long as Soap, the show that birthed it. I love Phil Coulson, but I’ve always felt that he was a “less is more” character. On the Age of Ultron press circuit, Whedon said that he felt the resurrection of Coulson kinda took away the impact of his death in Avengers, and I have to agree. He went from this guy we saw every few movies to in our faces on a weekly basis. They could get Coulson out of the field, and put him in an actual director capacity, which would keep him out of sight. It’d be the way they used Richard Dean Anderson at the end of Stargate SG-1 – we wouldn’t see him very often. This could also allow the AoS field team to disband and something different (potentially led by Mockingbird) could rise from its ashes. It’d be a good way to reboot the S.H.I.E.L.D. concept. Skye could move on since she’s now powered and really has no business with S.H.I.E.L.D. I’ve never really liked Melinda May, though she could stick around as The Muscle. And I’m kinda tired of Fitz and Simmons. The team needs a shakeup, and the current S.H.I.E.L.D. vs S.H.I.E.L.D. storyline isn’t doing enough to further that.
As for Daredevil, the news of a second season isn’t really a surprise. It seems, however, that this could delay the Defenders team-up that was originally planned to close out the Marvel Netflix series. According to Forbes, Marvel initially shopped the series around as a 60-episode package: 13 episodes each of Daredevil, A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, with the remaining 8 episodes being devoted to a team-up series with all of those characters, called The Defenders. Since second seasons weren’t part of the original plan, it stands to reason that The Defenders may get shuffled. The Forbes article even posits that The Defenders may actually precedeIron Fist – which doesn’t yet have a production date in place. Marvel seems to want to get the Netflix characters into Avengers: Infinity War, so it’ll be interesting to see how they handle the timeline over the next 3 years in order to make this happen.
Meanwhile, DC Comics had some news of their own, as they announced the creation of DC Super Hero Girls. It’s not the flashiest or catchiest name, but it makes DC look good during a week where Marvel is facing criticism for the lack of merchandise featuring female characters from their movies. Designed for girls aged 6-12, the cross-platform initiative centers around female super heroes and super villains of the DC Universe as “relatable teens”, according to the press release. Mattel is a partner, and will create a line of action figures specifically targeted towards girls. One thing you’ll notice from the art above is that the characters are mostly covered – something that’s unusual for female characters in comics. As a new dad of a baby girl, I’m excited to see where this goes.
I had the pleasure of joining Corey over at the MadCast for this week’s episode. If you’re not familiar with the MadCast, it’s the best Mad Men recap show around. We discussed this week’s episode, “The Forecast”, and I even got in some Three’s Company references. If you’re a Mad Men fan, check it out here.
Things You Might Have Missed This Week
-Bob Saget was NOT the original Danny Tanner
-I took the Jeopardy online test last week. I will not be on Jeopardy anytime soon.
-The official Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer was released. It did absolutely nothing for me.
-The latest Jurassic World trailer was released. Still felt nothing.
-The new Fantastic Four trailer was released. Actually starting to look forward to that one.
-Nicole Perlman (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Meg LeFauve (Inside Out) will write Marvel’s Captain Marvel film
–Agent Carter‘s Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark) has been cast as Jesse Custer in AMC’s adaptation of the Vertigo Preacher comic. He will be joined by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Ruth Negga (Raina).
-It was rumored that the title of the Arrow/The Flash spinoff will be Legends of Tomorrow. Meanwhile Edge of Tomorrow‘s Franz Drameh has joined the cast as a mysterious character named Jay Jackson.
-The next Star Trek movie will be released 7/8/16, and will be titled Star Trek: Beyond
-Speaking of Star Trek, it was revealed that a Galaxy Quest series is in development at Paramount. I think the concept worked well as a movie, but I don’t see it as a weekly series. It might work as a 13-episode Netflix situation, though.
-Sandra Bullock was named People Magazine‘s 2015 World’s Most Beautiful Woman
-After 53 years, Spanish-language variety show Sabado Gigante will end September 19th.
-Sony announced plans for a movie franchise based on the Valiant comic line. Good luck with that…
-Mr. Feeny will make his return to Girl Meets World in the season 2 premiere on May 11th.
-Animated Spider-Man film planned for 2018. Next to no other details are known at this time.
-Tyler Perry has been cast as Baxter Stockman in TMNT 2
After wallowing in obscurity for years, X-Men team member Iceman finally became relevant again this week when the latest issue of All-New X-Men revealed that the character is gay. And news outlets went crazy with their “An Original X-Man Comes Out” headlines. But that’s not exactly true. Long story short, the original X-Men of the past were brought to the present to see what their actions end up doing to mutantkind, in the hopes that their experiences will motivate them to change the present. Unfortunately, they can’t get back home. So, the teen versions coexist in the present with the adult versions. Seeing as how the teen version of Iceman is gay, but the adult version is not, it’s beginning to look like the past team is actually from an alternate timeline or universe.
Still, this has sparked a lot of….interesting online conversations. Most of the comments are along the lines of “How come they’re changing characters again?!” Well, they’re not, really. The Iceman you knew and ignored is still around, and still straight. It’s alternate timeline Teen Iceman who doesn’t like the ladies. To me, that’s kind of a copout. It allows Marvel to have its cake and eat it, too. Just say Iceman’s gay. It won’t negate any past stories (Sure, he dated Opal, but it’s not like gay guys don’t have women in their pasts), and it won’t change anything about his heroism (or lack thereof). I just want him to be *interesting* again – something that hasn’t happened since 1997’s “Operation: Zero Tolerance” storyline. I’ve always kinda liked Iceman, and if this means that he’ll be in the spotlight more, then I’m all for it. If they’re just gonna shuffle him to the back of the line again, then it was a useless gesture. At the end of the day, the X-Men are about the battle for acceptance, be it about powers, race, or sexuality. So, this feels pretty fitting. If they’d created a new gay character, as the naysayers are suggesting they should have done, that character simply would’ve been a token. No, it had to be an existing character. Plus, there hasn’t really been a “definitive” Iceman story, so he’s perfect. He’s an original team member with a ton of storytelling potential and little baggage.
I do, however, have problems with how Marvel handled it. Ya see, Iceman didn’t come out – he was outed. There’s a difference. This article goes into it much more eloquently than I can, but what Jean Grey did was invade Iceman’s privacy by reading his mind. So, hopefully there will be some ramifications behind that.
Also, this isn’t the first time that Iceman has been used in the Something Drastic and Permanent Has Happened to an Original X-Man role. You see, a few years back, Marvel realized that everyone and their cousin was a mutant and something needed to be done to thin out the herd. So, during the House of M miniseries, Scarlet Witch cast the spell “No More Mutants”, and this reduced Marvel’s mutant population to approximately 198 people. In order to make readers feel the impact of what had happened, of course they needed one of the original X-Men to lose their powers. Enter: Iceman. Iceman, along with Magneto (who later got a power recharge from the High Evolutionary), lost his powers and was seemingly just a normal human. Until Marvel writers or whatever got cold feet, and Iceman realized he still had powers, but some sort of PTSD from the events of House of M was preventing him from being able to use them. So, in the long run, all of the original X-Men pretty much made it through the mass depowering unscathed, though no new mutants appeared for the next 2 years.
I really hope Marvel follows through with this and doesn’t just retcon it via Secret Wars or something. If nothing else, however, this has given Iceman more attention than he’s ever received. And for that reason, Iceman had the West Week Ever.
John Travolta’s bald and he doesn’t care if we know it now! Apparently, this Justin Jones dude ran into Travolta at a Planet Fitness. There’s so much sadness in that last sentence. Anyway, they had a nice chat, and old Barbarino even agreed to take this pic with the dude.
The week started out as Amy Poehler’s golden globes made an appearance at an awards show.
Tuesday’s Agent Carter gave me a new-found appreciation for the character. While I thought she kinda came off as a bitch in Captain America and the pilot, she showed a vulnerable side this week, which served to humanize the character. I wasn’t sure I was gonna make the show “appointment television”, but I think I’m gonna stick with it for the next 6 weeks. Hell, I was even upset that the State of the Union is bumping it off the air next week.
On Wednesday, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia came back, but it just didn’t grab me. Apparently, the gang was trying to beat Wade Boggs’s beer chugging record, but it just wasn’t funny. I look at Sunny the way a lot of people look at things like The Simpsons or Family Guy: I don’t feel it’s been funny in years, but I’m amazed that it’s still on. I mean, 10 seasons?! Nobody thought it would go this long, especially not the FX execs. Even moving it to FXX didn’t kill it. Still, I’m waiting for the cast to move on to bigger and better things. Charlie Day seems to be on the rise, but the other guys just aren’t doing much. Plus, where are the other shows they were working on, like their Star Trek parody Boldly Going Nowhere? I haven’t heard anything about that in years. Is it dead? I just think it’s time for the guys at Paddy’s Pub to shut the doors for the last time.
Wednesday also saw the season premiere of Broad City. Kinda like Sunny, it just didn’t do it for me. All the major beats were there: Abbi was neurotic, Ilana wore a bunch of pairs of tiny shorts, and they smoked weed. What more do you need, right? It just wasn’t as witty as I’d come to expect from the show. The plot centered around them trying to get an air conditioner since the summer was hot as balls. They eventually tricked some college kids out of their A/C and hilarity ensued. There was also a running joke about rape culture, but I’m not sure it hit its mark as well as it was supposed to. It’s just the season premiere, though, so maybe they’ll come back stronger next week.
USA canceled the comedy Benched, which kinda makes me sad. I wrote about it when it premiered, but then I kinda forgot to watch it. USA gave it a terrible timeslot (Tuesdays at 10:30), so the network basically buried it like TBS did with Wedding Band (RIP). Tuesdays at 10 is when I watch Forever, ’cause I enjoy that show and it needs viewers (though I’m not a Nielsen family, so it’s not like I even matter). Are you watching Forever? If not, what are you waiting for?! Anyway, I always meant to go back and catch up with Benched on demand, but I don’t even see the point now. Maybe all the Happy Endings alums’ shows will tank, and then the show will come back. Well, a boy can dream.
Oscar nominations were announced yesterday, and people are pissed. Mainly it’s because there were no actors of color nominated for the major categories. I’m not much of a movie guy, so I don’t really have a horse in that race. It seems like everyone expected Selma to be nominated but, to me, it just seemed like the kind of movie that’s made to be nominated for an Oscar. I’m not saying it’s not good, but its release and marketing were strategic in trying to secure it a nomination, and maybe it was just a bit too obvious. People also seemed upset that The LEGO Movie was snubbed in the animation category, but that’s another one that I don’t understand. It was an enjoyable movie, but I kinda felt like it was overrated. And folks kept telling me that “Everything Is Awesome” would get in my head and never get out, but I didn’t find it to be that much of an earworm.
Ya know what had the West Week Ever? The Fox drama Empire. I’m approaching things a little differently this week because of the nature of this choice. Empire is basically King Lear for the hip hop generation. I know that 80% of you reading this have never watched it and never will. Hell, on paper, it’s not even my type of show, but I can’t stop watching it. Hip hop mogul Lucius Lyon discovers that he had ALS and probably 3 years to live. Instead of pouring a bucket of ice over his head, he decides to line up his successor. His record label, Empire, is about to go public, and all eyes are on his three sons to see who’ll one day have control of the company. Will it go to bipolar-but-won’t-take-his-meds Andre? Will it go to hotheaded rapper on the rise Hakeem? Or will it go to gay-but-the-hip-hop-community-might-not-accept-him Jamal? And as if this wasn’t enough, Lucius’s ex-wife, Cookie Lyon, has just gotten out of jail, after serving 17 years for taking the rap for Lucius. It was her money that started Empire, and she’s out to collect what she feels she’s owed. Lucius is trying to launch Hakeem’s career, while Cookie decides to back Jamal, convincing him to release a new album. Andre is just hoping that his younger brothers will destroy each other, and he’ll be the last man standing. And to cap it off, the music ain’t bad, either. I’m not a hip hop head, but I’m enjoying the songs that are coming out of the show. In the universe of the show, I can’t wait for Jamal’s album to drop ’cause I love his style (songs are available on iTunes, but I don’t love them that much). We’re only two episodes into the season, but those episodes have already been filled with shade, bibs, and murder. This is my favorite of the midseason shows, and I can’t wait to see where it goes. For that, Empire had the West Week Ever.
My birthday was pretty low-key last Tuesday, as most of my family members were under the weather. So, I spent the night clearing off the DVR. What did I watch? Well, I’m glad you asked! First up was Ride Along, starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. I’d love to travel back to the 90s and tell Ice Cube that his future is filled with cop roles. He’d probably shoot himself, unraveling time and space as we know it! Anyway, Kevin Hart gets accepted into the police academy, and to prove himself to his girlfriend’s cop brother (Ice Cube), he goes on a ride along. And hilarity ensues. Or does it? I enjoyed the movie because I love Kevin Hart, but it’s formulaic as Hell. Unless you’re a Hart fan, just skip it because you already know exactly how it’s gonna play out. There are no “Shyamalanian” twists or anything. It’s got some high speed chases, but felt like something directed by McG. Decent way to pass some time, but it’s not worth owning or anything.
Next up, I watched Walk of Shame, starring Elizabeth Banks. This movie was released directly to Video On Demand at the same time as its theatrical release. That should tell you all you need to know. Actually, the dual release probably helped it, as it was only released in 51 theaters and made a paltry $38,000 on a $15 million budget. Banks stars as TV reporter Meghan Miles who’s dying to get a network anchor job. Her opportunity arises, but she may lose it due to one very bad day following a one night stand. If you’ve ever seen the Michael Douglas movie Falling Down, think of this as a comedic version of that same template. A whole bunch of shit happens to Banks, while she runs around in a tight yellow dress. If that sounds like something you’d like, then this movie’s for you. Like Ride Along, however, this movie was SO formulaic. You haven’t even seen it, but you probably know how it’s going to end. So, come for the humor, stay for the tiny yellow dress. It’ll be worth a watch once it comes to FX, but you definitely shouldn’t go to any trouble to watch it or anything.
Finally, I watched R.I.P.D. This movie wants to be Men In Black so bad, but I don’t have a problem with that. I actually really enjoyed it and it’s a shame it bombed, as I’d be down for a R.I.P.D. franchise. Poor Ryan Reynolds can’t catch a break, as I’m sure he thought this would be a success when he heard that Jeff Bridges was in the cast. He certainly needed a win after the failure of Green Lantern. Sadly, the box office didn’t feel the same way. Reynolds plays a pseudo-dirty cop who’s killed by his partner. Once dead, he’s recruited into the Rest In Peace Department, and learns that there’s a whole supernatural world outside of the world that he knew. The R.I.P.D. is tasked with apprehending “deadoes” – evil souls that fell through the cracks of judgement. Teamed up with Western lawman Bridges, Reynolds vows to stop his former partner before he initiates a ritual that will return the dead to the Earth. One thing I found interesting about the movie was that it was the most secular take on the afterlife that I can remember. They deal with death, life after death, and the concept of evil souls, yet they never mention God. They do mention judgement, and that everyone has to take their chances with it, but the R.I.P.D. doesn’t work for the Man In The Clouds. They do seem to answer to a collective of elders from on high, but there doesn’t seem to be an ultimate, supreme being amongst them. The special effects are really good, as many of them are worth the price of admission alone. If you ever get the chance on a rainy Saturday, definitely give this one a chance.
It was announced this week that Justin Lin, director of much of the Fast & Furious franchise, will be directing the 3rd movie in the Star Trek reboot series. I don’t even know what to make of this news. First of all, it makes me think the Enterprise is gonna have a NOS button and have 13 warp nacelles, but maybe I’m being unfair. He’s proven he can do action, but can he do science fiction? Notes trickling out from the studio report that they want the movie to be more like Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy – whatever that means. Are they looking for more humor? More derring-do? What exactly would make Trek like GOTG, and would that even be a good thing? And is Lin the one to provide that? After a lot of shake-ups, it seems like Lin was simply the last man standing. After all, Roberto Orci dropped out of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers reboot in order to helm Trek 3, only to be sent packing months later. These developments don’t make me feel great about this next installment, especially when I wasn’t such a big fan of Star Trek Into Darkness.
In a reversal of fortunes, it appears that The Interview will see the light of day. There were screenings of the movie on Christmas Day, but you can currently watch it online via Google Play, YouTube, and XBox Video. I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet, but rest assured I’ll share my thoughts once I do.
According to the infamous Sony hack, Idris Elba was being considered for the role of James Bond. Of course, this would make him the first Black Bond, and certain folks, like Rush Limbaugh, aren’t too happy about it. I think the Bond franchise has done a pretty good job of changing with the times, so maybe it’s time for a Black Bond. Elba is certainly dashing, and he’s got the acting chops. It’s just a question of whether the audience is ready. After all, the racebending Annie remake isn’t doing so well in theaters, but it remains to be seen if that’s because of Black Annie or if it’s simply not a good movie.
This week, I discovered the Cartoon Network series Clarence, and my world was changed. I haven’t loved a cartoon this much since I discovered Regular Show. If you’ve never seen it, the show’s about a little fat boy, with an annoying voice, named Clarence. While that description might not sound positive, he’s actually an endearing character. Clarence is joined by his friends “Sumo” and Jeff. Here’s where things get interesting. Sumo is basically white trash, while Jeff’s parents are a lesbian couple. These two would never be friends naturally, but Clarence serves as the link between the two. I’ve never seen a kid’s cartoon have a depiction of lesbians before, and I’m also intrigued by its exploration of Sumo’s socioeconomic status. I making it sound heavier than it is as, on its surface, it’s just a goofy cartoon. Under the hood, however, there’s a smart, interesting show that you should check out.
If you’ve seen Love Actually, then you know that the song that’s #1 at Christmas is a big deal in the UK. This year, that prestigious honor went to TheX Factor winner Ben Haenow, with his cover of OneRepublic’s “Something I Need”.
I have a passing familiarity with the Kids React series, but I simply had to watch this. Folks forget that Power Rangers is over 20 years old, so of course the early days of the franchise might seem odd to today’s kids.
Jimmy Kimmel adds dialogue from Maury to Rudolph footage, and hilarity ensues:
Every wrestling fan has seen the video of Booker T calling Hulk Hogan the “N-word” but here he is, actually addressing the situation:
Here’s how Craig Ferguson signed off on his final episode of The Late Late Show. As a fan of finales, as well as The Drew Carey Show, I especially loved this:
Things You Might Have Missed This Week
-Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton have split up after 13 years. Yes, that sound you hear is everyone making the same “Who gets custody of Johnny Depp?” joke.
-The trailer for the Entourage movie was released this week. No, I’m not linking to it ’cause that show was full of douchebags. The only one I liked was Turtle ’cause he was fat and goofy. Then he lost all that weight, and now I’m a hater.
-Halle Berry-starring Extant will be back for a second season. I guess Halle’s gotta keep up with that child support. In any case, it seems that most of the supporting cast will be gone for the new season.
-Forbes named Adam Sandler the Most Overpaid Actor of 2014
I don’t have many decades-spanning friendships, so I cherish the ones that I do have. I wanna tell you about my friends James and Jenn. I first met James over 16 years ago, at the airport waiting to fly to Cornell. We were both attending Accepted Minority Student Weekend (yeah, that’s a thing), and we hit it off immediately. This was before the age of Facebook or really even cell phones, so I didn’t really think I’d see him again after that weekend. So, imagine my surprise when I ran into him during orientation, and he introduced me to his girlfriend, Jenn. This was funny to me because we had basically just gotten to campus, and he already had a girlfriend?! Surely, he wouldn’t be talking to her by Thanksgiving, right? Right?
Wrong. James and Jenn became some of my closest friends over the next four years, as we took trips to the comic shop, and they came to support me at my a cappella concerts. Still, this was just gonna be a college relationship, right? They’d move away to jobs and that would be it. Again, wrong. They moved to Tucson, Arizona and later moved to New Haven, Connecticut. They’ve been together FIFTEEN years now and I joke with them about how they could have a kid in high school by now.
Well, a few weeks ago, James contacted me because he needed my help. After fifteen long years, he’d decided that it was time to propose. He saw no reason to wait any longer. And he wanted me to sing. Now, I haven’t sung in about 10 years, but they still listen to my CD, so I had remained a part of their relationship in that capacity. So, last weekend, I hopped on the bus, and joined them during a New York City weekend where the surprise was going to go down. We went to a museum exhibit on the Chinese Exclusion Act (way more interesting than you might think), and then had dinner at a vegetarian restaurant (I love my meat, but it was actually pretty good. Except for the cornbread. That was a hate crime.). After dinner, James started talking about Cornell and how they used to come see me sing. This was my cue. I did a verse of Drops of Jupiter, which was their favorite song of mine. When I was done, he presented the ring and she was blown away. And she said yes!
As I said, James and Jenn have been some of my closest friends for a long time, and I wouldn’t even be blogging without Jenn (she’s created every incarnation of this website). So, I’m ecstatic for them, I love them, and to me, they clearly had the West Week Ever.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
You didn’t come for all that exposition, though, did you? You probably came for cosplay pics. Well, here ya go!
Magna Defender from Power Rangers Lost Galaxy
Harley & Joker
The Tick & Lil Deathstroke
Um….some anime something.
Kick Ass & Hit Girl
No clue, but it was cool and ornate.
Batman ’66 & Catwoman
Last Airbender Aang
The friendliest Joker you’ll ever meet
Guardians of the Galaxy
Supervillain Pirate Lasses
He is THE LAW!
No clue, but it looked cool
Arrow & Black Canary
A black Harley! A Blarley!
Rogue & Friends
No clue, but it was impressive.
Katniss (?), Batman, Rogue, and Logan
Joker & Harley #3? I lost track.
Poison Ivy and Lisa from Weird Science. I love the look on that dude’s face!
Man, has this been a week! Let’s not waste any time and just jump right into it.
Marvel turned this into a “Don’t Read The Comments” week with two announcements. First off, they went on The View (wow, this is my second blurb about The View in 2 weeks. They ought to be paying me!) to announce a new female Thor. Then, they went on The Colbert Report and announced that Sam Wilson, AKA The Falcon, would be taking up the mantle of Captain America. Ugh. While some folks are applauding Marvel for embracing diversity, none of these things matter. Not at all. It’s shortsighted storytelling, because the same white dudes will be in the suits again by the time Avengers 2 comes out. The Thor thing doesn’t even make sense because they’re now treating “Thor” as a title, akin to “captain” instead of the dude’s name. Other characters have lifted Mjolnir in the past and that did NOT make them THOR. Why? Because it’s the dude’s name! If I take your car, I don’t automatically become you. I just become Will in Stolen Car. It’s going to be written by Jason Aaron, a writer I usually trust, but I just can’t get excited for this. He maintains that this isn’t “She-Thor”, as I guess that moniker would lessen the character somehow. No, this is THOR…who happens to be a She. I don’t even read Thor, so I’m not gonna let this get my blood pressure all high!
As for Blaptain America (I really hope that catches on), it’s not a new concept to anyone who’s ever heard of The Truth – a miniseries from the early 2000s about the first Captain America, who happened to be black. THAT was controversial. This just seems like a retread. It could be seen as a well-deserved promotion for Falcon, but it doesn’t quite work. Instead of putting him in the white hero’s shoes, why not make his character more important in other ways? You don’t have to make him Cap in order for him to be front and center; you just have to give him more exposure on his own. Make him the leader of a team. Give him his own title. There are other ways. I’ve actually known about the Falcon thing for a few months, so I’ve had time to process it. Still, it doesn’t make any more sense to me now than when I first heard about it.
My biggest problem with all of this is that it’s being treated like Event Storytelling. In the 80s, something like this could’ve happened and it never would’ve gotten media attention. It would have been a storyline and then everything would return to the status quo. Since Event Storytelling got into full swing, every big change has to be reported to mainstream media, and then you end up with comments from the peanut gallery of people who don’t even read comics. The problem with this kind of thing is that it’s reported like “This is how things will be from now on”, while anyone familiar with comics knows that these attention-/moneygrabs are only temporary. Man-Thor and White Cap will be back. Count on it. I’ve been in comics long enough that I don’t fall for this stuff anymore, but it’s so tiring watching this cycle happen over and over in mass media. Superman’s Dead! Captain America’s Dead! Thor’s A Woman! Captain America’s Black! Give it a rest! At the end of the day, this isn’t some kind of “bold step” for Marvel, as everything will return to the way it was. The best we could hope for is that these gimmicks give the characters enough exposure to stand on their own when all is said and done. Like when Bucky took over the role of Captain America, it made him popular enough for his own Winter Soldier series. Maybe that’s what’ll happen with Falcon and She-Thor, and I guess that could be considered a “win”. Only time will tell, but I’m really just tired of the theatrics. If it’s a good story, tell it and it will stand on its own. Stop grandstanding for major media outlets. You’re trying to get a new audience into comics, but even if it works, they’ll be gone by the time you figure out what to do with these characters. Give it a rest, Marvel.
While we’re talking about comics and color-shifting characters, it’s been announced that The Following‘s Susan Heyward has been cast as Deena Pilgrim in the Powers series for the Sony Playstation Network. Powers is a police procedural, set in a world of superheroes, based on the comic series by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. As much of a Bendis fan as I might be, Powers just never really grabbed me. Still, it has its fans, and this television series has been in the works for years. There was a pilot shot for FX, with more established actors in the roles, like Lucy Punch as Pilgrim, but FX passed on the show. Eventually, it resurfaced at Sony as part of the Playstation Network, and the roles are being recast. In the comic, Deena Pilgrim is a white character, but you can see that Sony’s going a different direction. The news hasn’t been promoted in enough mainstream outlets to measure much of a response, but you can be sure that you probably won’t want to read the comments when you find it.
Oh, I forgot another comic this thing week. Archie died. Yeah, he took a bullet for his friend, Kevin Keller, a newly-elected senator who won on a platform of stricter gun control. I swear, not all comics have to be grim and gritty. I know that this occurred in Life With Archie, which is an alternative look at a grown-up Archieverse, but that seemed like the one area of comics that never needed to succumb to gimmick storytelling. Archie is Archie. There’s a band, Jughead likes hamburgers, Reggie’s an asshole, and Archie two-times Betty and Veronica. That’s all you need to know. If any comic title didn’t need to mirror real-world politics, it’s Archie. Comics are supposed to be fun escapism, and it didn’t get more escapist than the “Pleasantville” town of Riverdale.
Some of you TV fans will be happy, as it’s looking like The Big Bang Theory is in trouble at the moment. I like the show, but I know it has its detractors. Apparently, the 3 leads make $350,000 per episode, but now they want to triple that. Yes, TRIPLE. In a way, I kinda think they deserve it, based on the ratings (it’s the highest rated comedy on television), but I know that Ashton was making about $800,000 per episode for Two and a Half Men, making him the highest paid actor on television. Back in the 90s, you had situations where the Friends were making about $1M per episode for the final season, but the television landscape has changed, and folks aren’t being paid that much anymore. In any case, the cast isn’t showing up for work, and CBS is scrambling to figure out what to do if negotiations don’t end soon.
The axe is coming down over at Studio 8H, as it was announced that 3 featured players and a regular cast member are leaving Saturday Night Live. Brooks Wheelan, John Milhiser, and Noel Wells won’t be enjoying a second season live from New York. It’s kinda sad, as the cast was too bloated to give anyone exposure (other than Sasheer Zamata), so I almost feel like they never had a chance. In a departure that makes me really sad, Nasim Pedrad also isn’t coming back, but this is mainly due to her role on Fox’s Mulaney next season.
Harold & Kumar: The Animated Series is coming to Adult Swim. I dunno, but I feel like this is a day late and a dollar short. I mean, remember when Napoleon Dynamite came to Fox, and nobody gave a shit ’cause the movie was 9 years old? This feels like that. At least they got the original cast back, but I just don’t see this being a big hit.
There’s good news and bad news coming from the Storage Wars camp. The good news is that, following the success of their special, Jarrod and Brandi are getting their own show, Married to the Job. The bad news, however, is that Mr. Yuuup himself, Dave Hester, returns on August 12th. I guess he settled his lawsuit against A&E, but the show must be in some kinda trouble if they crawled back to him. It’ll be interesting to see how the newer buyers like Renee and Ivy interact with him.
The show’s over for Sam & Cat, as Nick has cancelled the series. At this point, it’s still not clear if it was due to the pay gap between the two stars or if it was due to Jennette McCurdy’s racy pics. Either way, Ariana Grande can focus on her singing, while Jenette will have to look for her next gig.
The Marvel news keeps on coming, as it was announced yesterday that True Blood‘s Deborah Ann Woll will be playing Karen Page in the Netflix Daredevil series. I know these things are supposed to be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but outside of Rosario Dawson, none of the casting decisions have really gotten me excited. I hope the execution of this show is stellar enough to put me at ease.
In movie news, we bring it right back to Marvel, as they scored the cover of the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly. There we got our first glimpse at the movie version of Ultron, as well as some hints as to his cinematic origin. In Avengers 2: Age of Ultron, it appears that Tony Stark creates Ultron as a robotic defense system in order to give the Avengers a break. And, of course, this goes horribly wrong. I’m really looking forward to this movie, and I don’t have any qualms with the new Ultron origin, as it fits with what they’ve been doing with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
It looks like Saban may actually be throwing some money at the Power Rangers movie reboot, as it was announced this week that Roberto Orci has been brought on as executive producer. He’s got actual industry credits (Star Trek, Amazing Spider-Man), so this is certainly a good sign.
Kacy Catanzaro became the first woman to complete the American Ninja Warrior course this week. I don’t really watch this show, but I was in a sleep center doing a sleep study and it happened to be on. Anyway, it’s pretty incredible and I just marvel at how many places in the course I would’ve just given up and gone home. I really need to get in shape…
I don’t talk about it much here, but I’m a casual wrestling fan. I used to be more into it than I am now, but I still enjoy bouts in the squared circle. So, it was to my disappointment that my favorite wrestler at the moment, Brodus Clay, was released by WWE a few weeks ago. He was never gonna win the Heavyweight Championship, but he was still fun to watch, as he was just so lighthearted. It was especially great when he danced with his Funkadactyls. Anyway, I’m gonna miss seeing him, so let’s pour one out for the Funkasaurus.
I may not like the announcements they made, but there’s no denying that Marvel dominated the week. Folks are still talking about She-Thor and Blaptain America, while that EW cover took over social media when it was released on Wednesday. Sure, these changes won’t last, and everything will eventually go back to the way things were, but the goal was to get the spotlight on Marvel and it succeeded. For that reason, Marvel had the West Week Ever.
This morning, around 12:15, I beat Injustice: Gods Among Us on XBox 360. This may not be a big deal to most, but this is the first video game I’ve beaten in about 16 years. You see, I’m not much of a gamer, and the last game I powered through to the end was Super Mario Bros 2 (I beat them out of order: 3, 1, 2). If you’re a long time reader of the site, you might be saying “What about Power Rangers Super Legends?” Well, technically, I never beat it. It just glitched and took me to the ending. Anyway, now that I’ve got this win behind me, I’ve got a few thoughts on the game and the experience.
-When did games become so easy? As I said before, I’m the furthest thing from a “gamer”. Remember, Super Mario Bros 2 came out in 1988 and I didn’t beat it for 9 years. That’s not because I was a slow kid, but mainly because I had no real interest in it after a while. I think Nintendo contributed to my anger management issues, so I’d take year long breaks at a time. Still, NES games took at least a week to beat, and that’s if you were A) GOOD and B) did nothing other than play the game and scour Nintendo Power or the Game Player’s Guide for hints. I, an XBox novice, managed to beat this game within 5 hrs of gameplay. That must mean it took about an hr for the typical gamer. $60 for an hour of fun? I know whores who’ll give you a better return on investment than that!
– I love the Batmobile’s ability to travel anywhere, simply to run over your opponent. In space? No problem. The Batmobile can get there!
– This game made me like Cyborg. He was more…”urban” to me than he ever came across in the comics. Not that that did it for me, but he seemed to actually have more personality than I’d experienced in Titans comics.
– I get most of the alternate universe: good guys are bad, bad guys are good – except Batman. That said, how did Superman get both Black Adam AND Captain Marvel on his side? Hell, how did he get Black Adam on his own? Do I need to read the comic to understand that?
– If you’ve never respected Aquaman, play this game and your opinion will change forever. He is AMAZING.
– I’m really bad at memorizing and executing combos, so I was sure that would keep me from getting far in the game. I couldn’t have been more wrong, which seems almost like a failing of the game. I feel like Doomsday should be harder to beat than simple punches and kicks. I should’ve needed to pull out all the stops, but he was no more difficult to defeat than Sinestro or Grundy. In fact, the only two real challenges are the Batman vs Batman fight, and the Superman vs Superman fight.
– As shitty as the Mattel figures look, the new character designs actually work for me within the confines of the game – even Joker! All of their looks (with the exception of maybe Flash) are functional and make sense within the plot. Like Star Trek‘s Mirror Universe, everything here is dark and “war-ier”, so they should have spikes, armor plates, etc. Mattel just did a terrible job translating them into plastic representations.
– During Wonder Woman’s speech to the Amazons, I got a glimpse of what her fans see in her. It’s probably the best writing she’s had in years, but it still wasn’t enough for me to think she deserves her own movie or TV show. It just goes to show she’d be an integral part of a team project, like a Justice Leaguemovie.
-Did NOT see that Nightwing twist coming. If they expand on that in the Injustice comic, I may just have to grab it once it’s collected.
Well, that’s my take on things. I’m new to the whole “next-gen” gaming experience, but I know I need to play more to unlock stuff and earn achievements. I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually. Keep in mind I got the 360 as a wedding gift. The wedding was in October, and I’m just now getting around to testing it out. So, check back in a year or so, once everyone has moved on to the X Box One. Ha! I barely got that sentence out. Anyway, what were your thoughts on Injustice? Have you read the comics?