29th Sep2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 9/29/17

by Will

So the week kicked off with me heading to the Baltimore Comic-Con. A tradition of mine for the past 14 years or so, I’ve only missed one in that span of time and, while I was kinda under the weather, I’m a stickler for tradition! How was it? It was OK. It felt sort of smaller this year, but that could just be the result of the odd layout of the place. It wasn’t in the main hall, as there was some sort of waste management convention going on in that space. I honestly think it was called WasteCon. I wanted to sneak in just to see what kind of swag they had to offer. Anyway, you get into the exhibit hall, and the photo ops section split up the main floor from the food court. The publishers were set up closest to the photo ops, while the vendors took up most of the floor. Meanwhile, the smaller press, Artist Alley folks were shoved into the back. It might’ve been the same layout as last year, but something just felt off about it. The way things were jumbled together just kind of overwhelmed me – a feeling I’d have for the rest of the show.

The cosplay was pretty decent, though. I was somewhat disappointed by what I had seen at Awesome Con back in June, and I felt like these costumes were actually creative. I spent most of my time digging through longboxes, though, so I probably missed out on much of the “con experience”. Didn’t get to say “hi” to a lot of my publisher friends. Didn’t really meet any comic writers or artists. Just spent a few hours digging for gold.

I walked away from the show with an epiphany: I’m seriously considering giving up buying comics on a monthly basis. While I enjoy the weekly ritual of going to the comic shop, and grabbing the latest books off the shelf, the money really starts to rack up. Your average comic costs $3.99 today, and that can go up to $9.99 sometimes (looking at you, Deadpool). While my local shop gives you a 10% discount, that only goes so far. At the show, it was clear that the industry has changed, as the majority of the vendors were selling comics for $1 each. And I’m not talking about old, dead stock. Some of those books had just come out last Wednesday. Over the course of the show, I bought about 120 comics to fill in some holes in my collection. And you know how much I paid? $120. Had I bought those books at retail, at minimum they would’ve cost $478.

If you’ve talked to me recently about comics, you know the sort of To Read backlog that I’m dealing with. I buy the books when they hit, but don’t read them for 6 months. I have an unread longbox of Marvel and an unread longbox of DC. Why am I sinking all this money into something that’s just going to sit in a box? If I time the conventions correctly, I can buy everything I need every 6 months or so, and be caught up by the time the next show, and the next batch of $1 boxes hits.

I also don’t feel like being taken advantage of by publishers. I got into an argument with Rich Johnston of Bleeding Cool because of a matter I felt he should be covering but wasn’t. You see, DC recently wrapped up Frank Miller’s third entry into the Dark Knight series, Dark Knight III: The Master Race. This was an 8-issue series, expanded to 9 issues over the course of the series, priced at $5.99 each. So, right there, a $47.92 commitment became a $53.91 commitment. Fine. These were higher end comics, with a thicker stock cover and a mini comic inserted into each issue. So, $5.99. I think it could’ve been done for $4.99, but whatever. So, fast forward to last Wednesday, when the hardcover collection of the series was released for $29.99. Yes, I said HARDCOVER (which is typically priced much higher than a trade paperback). All 9 issues are included, plus the mini comics are included at natural size. You’re basically being punished for being an early adopter if you purchased the series on its pseudo-monthly schedule. Johnston tried to say that it’s commonly understood that collections are cheaper than the individual issues, but I say not by that kind of margin! Single issue buyers, like myself, almost paid TWICE what trade-waiters will pay, and I don’t think that’s the right way of doing business. Again, Johnston tried to say that the thicker cover and inserted mini comic would’ve made production costs higher, but not by that much. People always forget I worked at Diamond in Purchasing. Needless to say, Johnston thought it was a non-story because he had to go dig through some Marvel exec’s dumpster, but I think it’s an important issue. People want to blame stories and SJWs and all that for the demise of the comic industry, but ultimately it’s gonna come down to price. Always follow the money. And I’m going to rethink how I invest mine in this hobby.

Speaking of money, Toys “R” Us doesn’t have any, and they filed for bankruptcy last week. Keep in mind, vultures, that they filed for Chapter 11 protection so don’t start waiting for the going out of business sales any time soon.

I worked for Toys “R” Us off and on for 10 years of my life, so I’ve got some thoughts on the whole matter. Right now, they’ve got to restructure, and I think one thing they need to do is eliminate their in-house brands. Nobody wants Fastlane when you’ve got Hot Wheels for a dollar. It’s kind of hard to compete with that price point. Also, I feel like their footprint is too large. I remember growing up, thinking that I loved Toys “R” Us. Then I started working there, and realized I only loved aisles 6D & 7D – action figures. When I had to work other departments, I was like “What is all this shit?” They need a more concentrated assortment of merchandise, taking up less space. Also, seeing as how they own the Kay Bee rights, they should spin off that brand and resurrect it as “The Toy Store in the Mall”. Of course, malls are dying, so these would mainly be located in town centers which are all the rage in commercial real estate these days. A decent sized Kay Bee had all that you needed, except for larger stuff like bikes and the baby stuff. They can keep Babies “R” Us as it is, as that’s the moneymaker these days, but they should really strive for smaller stores. I’m sure I could rattle off some more suggestions, but nobody’s paying me for my ideas, so I’ll just sit here quietly and see what the professionals come up with.

 

*Climbs up on soapbox* I’m tired of the echo chamber. I’m tired of hearing the same shit, with nothing behind it except opinion and vitriol. What am I talking about? I got into a…discussion in a Facebook group the other day about The Big Bang Theory. Someone posted an article about how the show turned 10 years old and “still sucks”. I said that was a tired hot take because where it “sucks” or not, there are people out there who still like it. I won’t lie – I enjoy the show. It’s no marvel of modern television, but when’s the last time anyone said that about a multi cam sitcom? It’s the single cams that win all the awards. In this day and age, you’re bound to get hate just for having a studio audience. Liking it isn’t a hill for me to die on, but I find it almost obnoxious how people will go out of their way to tell you it sucks. OK, that’s great, but that’s your opinion. “But everyone thinks it sucks!” Everyone you talk to, maybe. We live in a time when opinion is routinely taken as fact and I’m just tired of the implications of that.

Let me learn ya something: this week’s 11th season premiere of The Big Bang Theory had 17 million viewers. I consider myself a student of television, and I can’t help but marvel at a show whose ratings trajectory is so strong after all this time. Find me another show, in the modern era, that has that kind of audience in its ELEVENTH season. It’s unparalleled. “But popularity doesn’t mean it’s good.” What are you looking for? Shakespeare? Some folks enjoy it. Isn’t that enough?

There’s a lot of cultural elitism going around, and it’s from the smallest things like TV shows to the biggest things like politics. When people say, “Oh, The Big Bang Theory is a piece of shit”, OK, that’s their opinion. To take that opinion as fact discounts the opinions of 17 MILLION PEOPLE. That’s when one of you will retort with “Well, the Nielsen system is broken”. Fine, I get it. There’s an excuse from everything.

I liken this situation to American politics. To go online, everyone supposedly hates Trump. Still, for all you’re seeing of that, somebody still voted for him. A lot of somebodies. But when you’re in your echo chamber, you don’t really think about that. It turns into “I can’t believe this! How did this happen?!” I’m not saying to go out and hug a Nazi because that would just be stupid, but just take some time to understand that someone has a different viewpoint than you. I’m not even saying you have to respect it, but at least acknowledge that it’s there.

I’ve done a lot of introspection over the past few weeks, and I’m reminded that I don’t want to review something with “That sucks” or “That’s horrible”, because other folks’ mileage may vary. It’s enough to just say “That wasn’t for me.” It’s times like these when I miss my pal Ryan’s podcast, Positively Nerdy. He would always strive to be positive about the stuff he talked about, and it even broke cynical old me. What do you all have to gain by being so negative about shit? Just let people enjoy what they enjoy, and stop acting like it’s some unexplained anomaly. It actually makes quite a bit of sense if you take the time to really think about it.

They announced a Teen Titans Go movie for next summer, and I’ve seen folks just shit all over it. Why? Because to a lot of folks “It’s the show that replaced Young Justice!” even though those decisions were made independently of each other. I love that show. Like, it honestly brings me joy. I work from home on Wednesdays, and the other day they had both a Neverending Story AND a Goonies homage. If you hate it, that’s fine, but it’s not a piece of shit to me. Also, Cartoon Network is a business. Sure, a lot of you hate that the show is ALWAYS on (I’d even probably hate that if I didn’t like the show), but it’s scheduled like that because it’s highly rated. “Well, those people have no taste!” There you go projecting your opinion on shit.

Anyway, I’m tired of hearing the same arguments and the same sentiments, and I’m going to do my best to broaden my horizons in that regard. *steps off soapbox*

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Billy Bush and his wife of 20 years are calling it quits. Man, if you told me former Z104 DJ Billy Bush would end up the fall guy for a presidential administration, I never would’ve believed you…
  • Looks like Gina Torres finally chose the Red Pill, as she and husband Laurence Fishburne have split up after 14 years of marriage.
  • James Cameron said it took him a week to muster up the courage to ask ex-wife Linda Hamilton to star in the 6th Terminator movie.
  • It’s looking like Marvel has no faith in the Inhumans TV series (which premieres tonight), as it is now being billed as “the complete series” instead of “season one”
  • Rumer Willis is now a series regular on Empire. Huh? I can only assume her mom got her the job when she joined the show. So glad I dropped it a while ago.
  • Apparently the Riverdale folks are developing a reboot of Sabrina The Teenage Witch for The CW. Based on the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comic, I doubt it’ll feature hot aunts this time around. PASS!

 

  • This year’s Arrowverse crossover will be a 2-night event called “Crisis on Earth-X”, and we got the promo image for it this week.

  • We also got this promo image for season 5 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where the team apparently heads to space.
  • After 5 seasons, Chip & Joanna Gaines are walking away from Fixer Upper. Knowing HGTV, they’re fast-tracking Fixer Upper Vegas to fill the void as we speak.
  • A female-led reboot of the 70s series Kung Fu has received a put pilot order at Fox. This means it pretty much HAS to make it to air or the network will be out of a ton of money. Considering there are some seriously messed up racial politics with that show, I’m counting down to the shitstorm.
  • Black-ish creator Kenya Barris will write the script for Coming to America 2. I can only assume Eddie Murphy’s behind on child support or something.
  • The Mist has been cancelled by Spike after one season.
  • Reportedly the youngest of the Kardashian-Jenner dynasty, Kylie, is 5 months pregnant, with rapper Travis Scott as the father. As fucked up as it is, I can only marvel at how savvy Kris Jenner is. The original cast members got old and boring, so she orchestrated the dawn of the next generation. If you don’t think Kris had a hand in all this, you don’t know the Kardashians. Kris could’ve been an amazing force as the head of a network or something.
  • The Russo Brothers are adapting Rick Remender’s Deadly Class comic for a pilot at Syfy
  • Amazon is developing Greg Rucka’s comics Lazarus into a television series
  • Former congressman Anthony Weiner was sentenced to 21 months in prison for sexting a teenage girl. How on the nose is that? His name is “Weiner” and that’s what he was showing to people. Man, people better keep an eye on Senator Robert Scrotum!
  • BoJack Horseman has been renewed for season 5 at Netflix. One day I’ll finally catch up with that show. Never even started season 2…
  • Apparently Danny Elfman will be working the John Williams Superman theme into Justice League. Don’t really know what to make of that right now.

  • The Cartoon Network series OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes kinda confounds me, but it did find it cool that there will be a Captain Planet crossover on the October 9th episode
  • Saturday Night Live has hired new cast members Heidi Gardner, Chris Redd, and Luke Null to fill the void left by departed cast members Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa Bayer, and Sasheer Zamata.

  • I don’t consider myself much of a “movie guy”, but I remember trailers like this, so I thought this was pretty cool.

It was a big week for Star Trek, as Sunday saw the premiere of the long-delayed Star Trek: Discovery. In all, I didn’t hate it. That said, I’m starting to love Enterprise, so I’m not sure what the fanbase would say about that. For now, it feels like Star Trek in name only (like Enterprise), but I’ve only seen one episode. That said, it was a riveting hour, and I’m interesting in learning more about the main character, Michael Burnham.

According to online reports, about 9.6 million people watched the premiere, and CBS All Access had its highest signup day in history. Still, a lot of that has to do with the fact that the first month is free. I don’t think this show has staying power on All Access, especially with little other original programming to support it. It’s a lot like the situation Yahoo found themselves in with Screen. Sure, they got Community, but it was already a low-rated network sitcom, which wasn’t adequately supported by the other original programming on the platform. It folded after a season. I feel that if Discovery gets a second season, I doubt it will be on All Access. Right now, they can say “Well, at least we tried” if it ends up blowing up in their faces. It’d be hilarious if they pull a Supergirl and farm it off to The CW. I guess time will tell.

Also, this week saw the 30th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. What better way to celebrate a show that hardline fans said “Wasn’t really Star Trek” than with a new show that hardline fans are saying the same thing? I remember the day TNG premiered. Oh yeah, I’ve been there since the beginning. I remember because my mom’s boyfriend at the time was putting carpet down in our back room. He took me to Kmart and bought me WWF trading cards while he got supplies. He was a hardline TOS fan, and had no desire to watch TNG that evening. I think he finished the job before the show came on, and I watched it wondering “What the heck is this?” After all, I have no real affinity for TOS, but I like getting in on the ground floor of things. Even at a young age, I liked the idea of Star Trek, but didn’t really like the show, if that makes any sense. Anyway, that carpet’s still in that back room, I think that dude may be dead, and now we’ve got a new Star Trek on the air. The circle of LIIIIIFFEEE!

I didn’t love TNG in the beginning, as I argue that it didn’t get good until Roddenberry died. Cruel, I know, but that’s when they took off the kid gloves. I tend to dislike a lot of episodes people love, like “Encounter at Farpoint” and “All Good Things…” Still, the turning point for me was “The Best of Both Worlds Pt I”, which is still the greatest season finale in the history of modern television. After that, there was no looking back for me. Man, 30 years! I feel so old…

Anyway, I think it goes without saying that the Star Trek franchise had the West Week Ever.

 

Programming Note: I used to write about stuff I found at thrift stores. It was called Thrift Justice. It’s back. Check this space on Monday!

15th Sep2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 9/15/17

by Will

In movie news, it was announced that J.J. Abrams would be returning to write and direct Star Wars: Episode IX. This comes on the heels of Colin Trevorrow’s dismissal from the project. If you remember, Abrams was the creative voice behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and many fans seem happy about this decision. I’ve seen some folks say that it’s now the cool thing to say you didn’t like The Force Awakens, but I remember hearing those complaints when the movie first came out. I mean, a lot of people felt he just remade A New Hope, so will this be a remake of The Empire Strikes Back? I’m not the biggest Star Wars fan, so I don’t know what I’m talking about. If the fans are happy (and geeks are rarely happy), then that’s enough for me. To accommodate this change in direction, however, the film’s release has been moved from May 2019 to December 2019.

In other movie news, there’s been an interesting development with the new Hellboy movie. Ya see, Hawaii Five-0‘s Daniel Dae Kim has been cast as Ben Daimio, which is the role that was vacated by Ed Skrein. This is good, as it’s an Asian-American character who will now be portrayed by an Asian actor. Done deal, right? Well, now we have to get into the weeds a bit and point out that Daimio is of Japanese descent, while Kim is Korean American. Does it matter? Some might say no. I mean, in Selma, African American Martin Luther King Jr was portrayed by British-Nigerian actor David Oyelowo. That said, if Daimio’s Japanese heritage is important to his character, and you just cast another non-Japanese actor, then it somewhat contributes to the idea that Asians are interchangeable, which doesn’t help matters in their pursuit of fair representation in media. My friend Jenn articles this much better than I can. At the end of the day, does it matter? To someone out there, I’m sure it does.

Oh, and we got a pic of what David Harbour will look like as Hellboy. Not bad!

In TV news, it was announced that ABC will be rebooting 80s cult classic The Greatest American Hero, but with a twist: this time, the show will star an Indian American woman named Meera. She’s described as a 30 year old woman from Cleveland, who enjoys tequila and karaoke. Um, OK. Now, I see what they’re doing here. They want to challenge the notion of what it means to be “American” in this day and age. I see you, ABC. I guess that’s somewhat timely, but people tend to forget that the original show wasn’t exactly a ratings smash. In fact, it barely eked out 3 seasons. It’s probably most notable for its theme song, “Believe It Or Not”. And this also isn’t the first time they’ve tried this idea with a woman, as there’s a pilot for The Greatest American Heroine, where a woman is chosen to take over for William Katt’s character. The pilot never aired, but was reedited into an episode that was added to the syndication package of the show. I don’t see this working in 2018, but ABC apparently has a lot of faith in it, as it’s a “put pilot”, which basically means it’s guaranteed to make it to air or it’s gonna cost ABC a lot of money to pass on it. It’s ABC, though. Just looking at The Mayor coming up this Fall, they clearly don’t have the strongest comedy development department right now.

In comics news, it took 13 years, but Marvel’s finally bringing back Jean Grey. The ORIGINAL Jean Grey. Killed at the end of Grant Morrison’s run of New X-Men, she hasn’t been seen since around 2004, though we all knew this would happen one day. We’ve had a bunch of fake outs, with the character of Hope and the debut of teen Jean Grey from an alternate reality timeline, but this is the real deal. And I’m not quite sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, it’s comics and nobody stays dead. On the other, they left her dead a lot longer than they had to. I’d actually started to think she was gone for good. Silly me! I really do wish death meant more in comics. I’m smart enough to know the character will be back, so I’d prefer they not write like I’m a moron. I’d be willing to accept a concession, like we got recently with Tony Stark. He’s not “dead”, but in some sort of a stasis coma. When they need him again, he’ll pop out of it, right as rain. I’m fine with that. Put more characters into comas! Have them get lost in the timestream, and make them find their way home. But stop “killing” them when you, and everyone else, know it will just be temporary. Anyway, to check out Jean’s grand return, pick up Phoenix Resurrection: The Return of Jean Grey – part of the upcoming Marvel Legacy initiative.

In other comics news, there was a whole kerfuffle regarding the G.I. Joe franchise. You see, IDW Publishing currently has the G.I. Joe license, and they’re publishing a Joe comic written by freelancer Aubrey Sitterson. Well, on the anniversary of that day we’re supposed to never forget, 9/11, Sitterson tweeted this:

 

After getting some blowback, he doubled down with this:

Nice try, Aubrey, but 9/11 affected more than just NYC. Y’all just happen to be the ones who get most of the attention. I’m not one of the guys who gets all choked up in patriotism, though, so if that’s how he feels, whatever.

Well, the Joe fandom didn’t take too kindly to that. And apparently this was just the latest in a long string of what they considered antagonistic behavior from the writer. So, fansites, such as YoJoe.com and GeneralsJoes.com, decided that they were no longer going to cover G.I. Joe comics until something was done with Sitterson. At first it seemed like IDW was standing behind the writer, but they eventually released the following statement:

I’m on the fence on this one. I mean, you vote with your dollars and if you’re unhappy with something, then don’t buy it. That said, I have never been more glad that I no longer identify as a G.I. Joe “fan”. A lot of these guys come just come across as bullies. Sitterson was on his arrogant high horse, but a lot of the response is coming from veterans who are throwing around terms like “Commie” and “Libtard” just because their feelings were hurt by a funnybook writer. Sitterson comes from the wrestling world, so he’s reveling in the role of the “heel”, or the bad guy. This is all a gimmick to him, and the more riled they get, the happier it makes him. It means it’s working. That said, I don’t think he realizes that some of these dudes have a few screws loose. They don’t understand the game, and they don’t care. I really wouldn’t be surprised if he’s getting death threats right now over his opinion.

At the end of the day, G.I. Joe is a dying franchise. You could even say it’s dead, but there’s a small group of +40 year old men who are keeping hope alive. I’ve often said that the franchise needs to take a TMNT-like break, and give folks a chance to actually miss it. Plus, it’s time to give today’s kids their own Joe. Sure, folks are going to argue that kids don’t play with toys anymore but, just like comics, the core audience is going to die, and you’re going to need to replace them somehow. The A Real America Hero era has had a good run, but it’s time for the sun to set on it. No more Duke, no more Snake Eyes. Reboot the fuck out of it! Call of Duty is popular. Make G.I. Joe like that. There are ways to make it viable but the current approaches aren’t working. It’s like porn – there’s ENOUGH porn in the world. There’s really no need to make more. The same with Larry Hama-based Joe stories. There’ve been enough over the past +30 years. It’s time to move on. Sure, this will just piss off the same demographic that’s currently upset with Sitterson, but they’re gonna be dead soon anyway. But who am I to say that? Just another libtard with a website, I suppose…

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • I guess he’s over her humps AND her lady lumps, as Josh Duhamel and Fergie have separated after 8 years of marriage.
  • Watch out, conservatives, as Trevor Noah’s contract with The Daily Show has been renewed through 2022. Meanwhile, HBO has renewed Last Week Tonight with John Oliver through 2020.
  • Matt Bomer’s The Last Tycoon has been cancelled by Amazon after one season.
  • TBS has renewed Wrecked, The Guest Book, and People of Earth
  • John Wick: Chapter 3 will be released May 17th, 2019
  • Nick Blood will be reprising his role of Lance Hunter on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this season. I figure they’ll make some excuse for where Bobbi is, so she can pop up once The Orville gets cancelled.
  • Shaun Sipos will portray DC space hero Adam Strange on Syfy’s Krypton
  • Keke Palmer moves from Scream Queens to MTV’s Scream, as she’ll headline season 3 along with Power Rangers‘ RJ Cyler.
  • ESPN anchor Jemele Hill called the President a White Supremacist on her Twitter account, and the White House insinuated that she should be fired. Ya know, that thing the First Amendment specifically forbids them from doing…
  • Melissa McCarthy is now an Emmy winner, for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Role, for her work on Saturday Night Live last season.
  • The Black Lives Matter movement will be covered by Arrow this season, as well as an upcoming AMC drama, based on the book They Can’t Kill Us All, and adapted by a writer from Into the Badlands. Considering how bad Badlands‘ writing is, I’ve got more faith in the Arrow storyline…
  • It was revealed that Roald Dahl originally meant for the character of Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to be Black, until his agent basically asked “Why?” and said that it wouldn’t be the right move.

  • After nearly 40 years, it was revealed that Mario has nipples, and the internet lost its mind!

  • We got our first taste of the main theme for Star Trek: Discovery, and I don’t hate it. It’s no Enterprise theme, but I like the callbacks to the Original Series theme.


I’m not sure who had the best week this week. I mean, there’s the movie IT, which broke a whole bunch of records, and has made about $180 million. I don’t really care about horror, though, and will probably never see the movie. Still, this was a big deal for the horror community.

There’s adult film star Cory Chase who became something of a household name when Senator Ted Cruz’s personal Twitter account Liked a tweet containing her scene from Moms Bang Teens 20. Cruz has, since, said that it was done by an aide, while his spokesperson tried to insinuate it was a hack. Anyway, Chase was without power due to Hurricane Irma, so she didn’t even realize why she was getting all of this newfound attention. This was a major boon for both Chase and the Reality Kings website.

Horror or Porn? I really can’t decide. So, I’m gonna leave it up to you guys. Tell me: who had the West Week Ever?

08th Sep2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 9/8/17

by Will

So, we’re back after a holiday weekend and an extended break for the site. Long story short, I broke the site while updating some plugins, so it wasn’t really in a good place for a new post to go up last week. Everything seems to be better now, though, so let’s take her for a spin!

Well, since we last met, there has been some kerfuffle about race-based casting in Hollywood. Last time, I mentioned how British actor/rapper Ed Skrein had been cast as the Japanese Ben Daimio in Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen. After about a week of folks commenting on the whitewashing of the character, Skrein did something nobody really expected: he bowed out of the role. He released the following statement:

CLASS ACT. Seriously. He didn’t have to do this, but he realized it would be best for the character, the movie, and his image to decline the role. Now we’ll have to see if Lionsgate just goes and casts another White guy.

When I was tweeting about this development, I got the above question on Sarahah. I answered on Twitter, saying that they’re not the same thing. The only reason folks wanted a White Johnny Storm was because *he’d always been White*. However, there’s nothing inherently White about Johnny Storm. He’s a cocky, showboating ladies man, who’s not too responsible but is always there for his friends and family. Oh, and he sets himself on fire. That’s pretty much all you need to be true to who Johnny Storm is. Notice how I didn’t mention race anywhere. It doesn’t matter in that case. When you have a character where their race is inherent to who they are, then it’s imperative that you cast that race for the role.

As a counterpoint, folks ask “Well, then should Marvel have cast Idris Elba and Tessa Thompson in the Thor movies?” Honestly? No. There’s colorblind casting that makes sense and then there’s colorblind casting with ulterior motives. Representation is good onscreen, but when you’re dealing with Norse mythology, it’s kind of hard to really justify Elba and Thompson as Heimdall and Valkyrie, respectively. You can make the argument that there aren’t enough diverse characters in superhero films, so exceptions are made from time to time. There’s no shortage of roles for White actors, but there are fewer opportunities for minorities unless we make the films ourselves. Still, if I can acknowledge that Skrein’s casting was the wrong call, I also have to do the same for the Thor franchise.

In another interesting bit of casting, Disney’s live action Aladdin has created an original character, Prince Anders, just to cast Billy Magnussen in the role. Now, on paper, Aladdin is a diversity dream, but it’s almost like someone in Hollywood was like, “We can’t put this movie out without a White guy featured in it.” Right now, the cast stands with newcomer Mena Massoud as Aladdin, Power Rangers‘ Naomi Scott as Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, and Will Smith as the Genie. While details are scarce, it seems Anders might compete with Aladdin for Jasmine’s affection.

In other movie news, Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow is out as the director of Star Wars: Episode IX. This highly publicized dismissal comes just months after Phil Lord and Chris Miller were fired from the Han Solo film. Plus, don’t forget that Fant4astic Four director Josh Trank was fired from a planned Star Wars spinoff before production even began on it. There’s a joke on Twitter that there are now more Directors Fired from Star Wars than there are Directors of Star Wars. Now the race is on to find a replacement, who will probably come as a shock to fans. After all, did you ever think Ron Howard would direct a Star Wars film? I just hope they don’t give it to someone like Joss Whedon. I mean, the Rey character is the kind of archetype he gravitates towards, but he’s just really not as good as his reputation would lead you to believe. Plus, since the recent hit job published by his ex-wife, I think Whedon will be keeping a low profile for the foreseeable future.

In TV news, DC has filled out the cast for the Titans series coming to its upcoming streaming service. Australian actor Brenton Thwaites will portray team leader Nightwing, while Alan Ritchson and Minka Kelly have been cast as Hawk & Dove. If you remember, Ritchson played Aquaman on Smallville, so this is his second time at bat as a DC superhero. Looking at that photo above, it seems like Kelly would’ve made a better Starfire, but what do I know? Right now, they’re saying that Hawk & Dove will only be recurring characters for the first season, with an option to become series regulars for the second season. If they take off, there are even preliminary plans to spin them off into their own series down the road. This all just seems so…unsubstantial. I mean, we barely know anything about this DC streaming service, and this series certainly isn’t enough to make me want to subscribe to another service. The fact that Young Justice (a show that I never watched) will be on the service does nothing for me. While some folks might think an original series is a major coup for Warner Bros as they launch the service, I still think of Titans as the show that TNT passed on. TNT. It’s not like they have an embarrassment of riches right now on their schedule to justify turning away a quality show. So, that makes me think it’s just not up to par.

Speaking of Titans, Arrow has cast Liam Hall as Slade Wilson’s son, Joe. In the comics, Joseph is also known as the Titan Jericho. It seems Arrow‘s going a different way with him, however, as Joe Wilson will be a mercenary much like his father. This season of Arrow, also, will reportedly begin with a time jump. I guess they don’t want to have to film all those folks getting off that island.

In other TV news, ABC has reached out to country star Luke Bryan to join Katy Perry as a judge on their reboot of American Idol. The problem, however, is that their money is running low. Reportedly they started out with a talent budget of $40 million. Perry is getting $25 million, while Ryan Seacrest is getting $10 million to host. So, with cash dwindling, ABC has decided to lean on its corporate owner, Disney, to offer perks to potential talent. These perks include production deals, as well as licensing and merchandising deals for Disney properties. So, you might be standing in line for the Luke Bryan Rollercoaster (which is also the name of one of his biggest hits) the next time you’re at a Disney park.

On Twitter this week, I had my most popular tweet of all time. I’m still pissed at the new ratio, where you only get a fraction of the retweets that you get Likes. Somehow, I got over 700 Likes on this tweet, but only 200 retweets (someone actually UN-retweeted it, or they were a bot that was deleted, so I’m back down to 199). Still, look at these stats:

Yeah, I know a lot of y’all have had more popular tweets, but this is new for me, so don’t take this away from me!

Song of the Week

Last time, I gave you the lyric video, but it seems that Taylor wasted no time in releasing the official video for “Look What You Made Me Do”, as it debuted 2 nights later during the MTV Video Music Awards. A lot of folks think she’s stealing from Beyoncé in parts of this video, but I don’t really know what to make of it. She seems to want us to think she’s changed. After all, the Old Taylor is “dead”. This sort of personality change gimmick rarely turns out well, though, so it’ll be interesting to see if her upcoming album Reputation is more of what we’re used to, or more of whatever this is. This could be her Chris Gaines album or it could be her “I’m A Slave 4 U”, which pretty much cemented the sexpot Britney image. My problem is that I think I’m incapable of seeing Taylor Swift as sexy. She’s more like your best friend’s little sister who matures over the summer, catching you by surprise, but you still remember when she used to wear those sneakers that light up with every step.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Two to beam up to the altar, as former Star Trek: Deep Space Nine actress Terry Farrell is engaged to son of Spock, Adam Nimoy
  • SyFy went on the offensive, cancelling Blood Drive, Dark Matter, and Killjoys (after it runs another 2 seasons). I’ve never seen any of these shows, and had only heard of 2 of them prior to this announcement. Way to promote things other than Sharknado, SyFy!
  • Speaking of cancellations, Amazon has cancelled Christina Ricci’s Z: The Beginning of Everything, reversing its prior decision to produce a second season.
  • And the cancellations kept coming, as TNT cancelled their sexy young Shakespeare drama, Will, after one season.
  • Though I could never get into Veep, I know it has its fans – who are probably upset that it was announced it will end after season 7.
  • CBS announced that the US edition of Big Brother would have a celebrity edition that will air during Winter 2018. Way to catch up to 2001 England, CBS!
  • The BBC announced that the Doctor Who spinoff Class has been cancelled after one season.
  • There are reports that Drew Goddard will write and direct an X-Force movie starring Cable and Deadpool that will never actually be made…
  • Kacy Catanzaro, the first woman to qualify for the American Ninja Warrior finals, has signed with the WWE.
  • Alf Clausen, composer for The Simpsons for the past 27 years, was dismissed due to rumored financial concerns, but producers later promised he will “continue to have an ongoing role with the show”.
  • An all-female Lord of the Flies film was announced, and the folks on social media were NOT having it.
  • Toys “R” Us is reportedly looking into possibly filing for bankruptcy as it struggles to compete with big box and online retailers
  • ABC announced the next Bachelor, and fans are outraged because they don’t even remember him from his last appearance in the franchise in 2012. He’s so insignificant that I’m not even gonna Google his name to write it here.
  • Jamie Foxx and Katie Holmes have seemingly gone public with their relationship, as they were spotted holding hands while walking on the beach. They’ve been rumored to be a couple for years, but there are reports that Tom Cruise put a stipulation in their divorce that Katie couldn’t go public with a relationship for five years following the split.

Had I written a post last week, I probably would’ve given the West Week Ever to Ed Skrein. That said, I didn’t, so I couldn’t. This week, however, is a different story. While nothing truly amazing happened this week, we did celebrate the anniversary of a property near and dear to my heart, Batman: The Animated Series.

Premiering September 5th, 1992, Batman: The Animated Series came along and was like nothing else on television at the time. It had the action for kids, but it had writing that appealed to adults. It even aired in primetime for a stint – something that was only done for “adult” animated shows like The Simpsons up to that point.

The show is also responsible for producing the greatest Batman in history: Kevin Conroy. He may not look like a superhero, and you probably wouldn’t even recognize him on the street, but you’d never mistake that voice. That commanding presence is something that men from Keaton to Bale have struggled with for the past nearly 30 years. When you hear Conroy speak, you KNOW that’s Batman.

Plus, piggybacking on the Tim Burton movies, it helped to change public opinion of Batman, which had come to see him as “silly” due to the Adam West portrayal in the 60s. Finally, folks were seeing not only what Batman was capable of, but what the comics characters were capable of in other media if handled by the right people.

I wish I could tell you my all-time favorite episode of the series, but it’s hard because there are so many good ones. There’s “Almost Got ‘Im”, where Batman’s rogues play a late night poker game, sharing tales of how they almost defeated their common foe. There’s “Beware the Gray Ghost”, where Batman gets to meet his childhood idol, actor Simon Trent, who portrayed the hero The Gray Ghost (voiced by 60s Batman Adam West). Or there’s the “Robin’s Reckoning” 2-parter, where we get Robin’s origin story as he tracks down the man who killed his family.

While this is a controversial opinion, as many fans had left the show by then, but I’d even argue that the show got better when it was revived as The New Batman Adventures. Sure, some folks couldn’t get over the new character designs, but there are so many incredible episodes from that iteration, as well. “Over the Edge”, where we find out what would happen if Gordon found out, in the worst possible way, that Bruce Wayne was Batman. “Old Wounds”, where we find out why, exactly, Dick Grayson quit being Robin. Or “Love is a Croc”, which is a VERY twisted and mature half hour of television.

All told, we got over 100 episodes of the show, which merely served as the cornerstone of an even larger DC Animated Universe. Over the next few years, we would get Superman: The Animated Series, which would, then lead to Justice League, and then Justice League Unlimited. Plus, there are the ancillary shows, like Batman Beyond and Static Shock. A 14-year entertainment franchise was birthed from this one little show.

I guess by this point you can tell that I really love this show, and it makes me feel old as Hell to know that it was 25 years ago that I was watching it on Fox Kids. All of this is to say that, in commemoration of its 25th anniversary, Batman: The Animated Series had the West Week Ever.

25th Aug2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 8/25/17

by Will

 

In movie news, there was quite the controversial casting this week, as the color lines blurred for some comic book adaptations. First up, it was announced that English actor Ed Skrein would be portraying Japanese character Ben Daimio in the upcoming Hellboy reboot. Now, according to what I’ve read, Daimio’s Japanese heritage heavily influences the character, so this whitewashing of the character doesn’t seem to be in the best interest of the character. I mean, after the problems with whitewashing in Doctor Strange, Ghost in the Shell, Aloha, The Great Wall, and Ni’ihau, you’d think Hollywood would avoid shit like this. Yes, movies are made to make money, but it’s not like Skrein is a bankable star worth slotting into the role, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Usually this is done for the film’s STARS. Damon, Johansson, Stone. This is a secondary character, so it really wouldn’t have hurt them to seek out an Asian actor. Normally I’m just like “Well, Hollywood’s gonna Hollywood”, but this decision just doesn’t make a ton of sense.

Next up, 24: Legacy’s Anna Diop has been cast as Starfire in Warner Bros’ Titans series, slated to air on DC’s upcoming digital service. Some folks are saying they should’ve cast a Latina, but she’s gonna either be painted or CGied in orange, so it’s not like it’s gonna matter at the end of the day. Personally, if they wanted authenticity, I think they should’ve cast an actual orange alien princess. Right now there are just too many unknowns for me to get excited about this. I mean, DC announced the digital service without a lot of information. What’s gonna be on it? What will it cost? How much of the DC library will be available to be housed on it? As for Titans, this is the show TNT passed on. Ya know, the home of such illustrious shows as The Librarians and The Last Ship. I mean, they’re basically just about a notch up from what we got in the 90s from Universal’s Action Pack lineup. If Titans couldn’t fit anywhere on that schedule, then it probably just isn’t “ready for primetime” yet.

Speaking of aimless Warner Bros decisions, they announced 2 different Joker movies this week. First up is an origin tale, directed by Todd Phillips of Old School fame, and produced by Martin Scorsese. Hmm, one of those things is not like the other. I mean, why would Scorsese touch something helmed by the dude who gave us Road Trip? And who even WANTS a Joker origin story? First of all, it’s reportedly not even going to be part of the DCEU, so why confuse the audience with a story that won’t even really “count” in the grand scheme of things? Nobody needs a standalone origin of a take on a character they’ll likely never see again. This is just as foolish as Sony’s Don’t-Look-For-Spider-Man-To-Appear Venom movie. Next, the guys behind This Is Us (SO hot right now!) and Crazy, Stupid, Love are working on a Bonnie & Clyde-style Joker and Harley film, with Jared Leto and Margot Robbie reprising their roles from Suicide Squad. Since this would sort of negate the empowerment that Harley gained by the end of Squad, it’s believed that this actually means that the planned Gotham City Sirens film, also slated to star Robbie, is now dead. Honestly, I could do without either of these movies. I found Leto’s take on Joker to be…interesting, but Less is More with that character. Plus, I don’t really think the DCEU would be strengthened by this sort of movie. It’s not the world-building they need to be doing right now, as they haven’t even figured out the core of their star characters like Batman and Superman yet.

In TV news, Christopher Sebela’s comic Heartthrob has been optioned as a TV series by Felix Culpa – a production company launched by actress/Elvis’s granddaughter Riley Keough. Now, comics are optioned every day, and the final product never comes to fruition, but I hope this series sees the light of day. I’m actually a big fan of the comic, which is published by Oni Press. Set in the late 70s, it focuses on Callie, who’s received a heart transplant while the process is still in its infancy. Given a new lease on life, but still told she’s basically living on borrowed time, she decides to change her life when she meets Mercer, a charming guy with a shady side. She immediately falls for him, and he teaches her how to be bad, like rob banks and commit other crimes. She gets off on the rush. Pretty soon, however, she realizes that Mercer isn’t real. No, he’s actually the ghost of the guy whose heart is now in Callie. So, it’s a Bonnie & Clyde story where Clyde’s calling the shots from the afterlife. The book is published in “seasons”, so the first 5-issue miniseries wrapped up back in early 2016, while season 2 is hitting stores now. If you’re looking for a new comic not from the Big Two, I highly recommend it.

In music news, Taylor Swift did a whole social blitz to announce that her next album would be called Reputation, and would be released Nov 10th. On top of that, the first single was released last night, with rumors that the video will premiere at Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards. Ya know, the same awards hosted my Taylor’s enemy Katy Perry. Yeah, that should be pretty interesting to watch. Anyway, the new song is called “Look What You Made Me Do”, and I’m not too impressed. It lacks a real hook, while the chorus itself is basically spoken. I feel like it has all the ingredients for a great song, but it’s not living up to its full potential. If this is an indicator of what to expect on Reputation, though, I’ll admit I’m curious. It can’t be worse than Perry’s Witness.

Speaking of Katy Perry, we got the premiere of her video for “Swish Swish”, which was reportedly her diss track against Taylor Swift. After a lot of backtracking and sucking up, though, it seems Katy wants to put that feud behind her. That’s why this horrible video does everything it can to take the bite out of a song that was never really that biting to begin with. I mean, just look at it – Molly Shannon? Terry Crews? Even Nicki Minaj was clearly CGied in, as I’m sure she didn’t wanna be anywhere near this shitshow. The sad thing about the Perry/Swift feud is that Katy bailed on it the minute she realized the Swifties were a more powerful lobby than she had thought. Nobody was feeling her SNL performances, and Witness didn’t exactly fly off the shelves. She realized that she can’t really survive by making enemies, so suddenly she became conciliatory to save her ass. Plus, it’s kinda lame that this blood feud started just because Taylor stole a few of Katy’s dancers for her tour. Anyway, you’ll never get those 6 minutes back. You’re welcome.

I had the pleasure of joining my buddy Zac for his new podcast, The Zac Shipley Show. He’s treating these first few episodes as pilots for ideas he’s wanted to try, so our ep was called Streaming Pile, where we talked about the worst things we could find on streaming services. I talked about a Star Trek: Voyager episode where formerly perky pixie Kes returns all middle-aged and bitter. You should check it out, and give a listen to his other episodes while you’re there!

Song of the Week

I’ve been a big Maren Morris fan since she released “My Church”, and I was really into her next single, “80s Mercedes”. With this song she continues not to disappoint, as I love the groove on this thing. Listen to the bassline. It’s not a dance song, yet you can do a MEAN two-step to it. Hell, I think you could even do a casual version of The Hustle to it. This will definitely go to #1 given time.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • NBC’s planned reboot of Xena: Warrior Princess – which would’ve featured a full-on lesbian relationship between her and Gabrielle – is officially dead, as they said “it didn’t warrant a reboot”. Man, if only other studios would realize this about some of their projects…
  • Director James Gunn mentioned in a Q & A session that the 3rd Guardians of the Galaxy film would set up the next 10-20 years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yup, you’re just now realizing your own mortality. I’ll give you a minute to deal with that.
  • Speaking of Gunn, he’s attached to write the pilot for (and possibly direct) a reboot of 70s series Starsky & Hutch. This adaptation is supposed to be similar in tone to CBS’s upcoming S.W.A.T. and not comedic in tone like the 2004 Ben Stiller & Owen Wilson movie.
  • Surprising every critic in Hollywood, Netflix has renewed the maligned comedy Friends From College for a second season.
  • Known for controversial publicity stunts, Alamo Drafthouse is reportedly organizing a Clowns Only screening of the new adaptation of Stephen King’s It.

  • We got a new poster for Thor: Ragnarok. So many colors!
  • Michael K. Williams has reportedly been cut from the Star Wars Han Solo film, as Ron Howard’s reshoot schedule conflicted with another role that Williams had accepted.
  • There are, like, 8 different Knight Rider reboot treatments floating around Hollywood, but the latest rumor is that one of those productions is looking at John Cena as Michael Knight, with Kevin Hart as the voice of K.I.T.T. Of course, it would be a comedic adaptation, a la the popular Jump Street franchise.
  • Super Troopers 2, the sequel to one of the most overrated films I’ve ever seen, will hit theaters April 20th, 2018.
  • Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson will star in Nasty Women, which is a female-led reboot of the Michael Caine/Steve Martin classic Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
  • Independence Day: Resurgence‘s Jessie T Usher will star in Son of Shaft, with Samuel L. Jackson potentially reprising his role as John Shaft (from the 2000 reboot film), the nephew of the original John Shaft, played by Richard Roundtree, who is also in talks to join the movie. Man, that gave me a headache.

  • Always on the cutting edge, here’s Sesame Street’s parody of 2017’s song of the summer, “Despacito”
  • According to the creators, the Netflix series Stranger Things will most likely end after its fourth season
  • The actress formerly known as “Andrea Zuckerman”, Gabrielle Carteris, has been re-elected to a 2-year term as the President of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA)
  • Ryan Gosling will host the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, with musical guest Jay-Z, on Sept 30th.
  • Jamie Bell is developing a Jumper TV series, based on the 2008 film about teleporters
  • Suicide Squad 2 is reportedly being fast tracked, but I hope they fast track it right into the garbage. I mean, I enjoyed the first one, but I don’t need a sequel.

  • I like Nick Kroll, even though I never saw even a second of Kroll Show. Anyway, he’s got a new animated series about puberty called Big Mouth coming to Netflix and after watching this teaser I am ON BOARD!
  • We’re a month away from the premiere of Star Trek: Discovery, and it was revealed that it will be rated TV-MA, for Mature Audiences. Now, it doesn’t mean there’ll be tits and phasers, but it does mean they can tell more complex stories. That said, I still feel like they don’t truly understand the source material.
  • After a scathing essay from his ex-wife went public, accusing him of adultery and other generally shitty behavior to women, Joss Whedon went underground and the fan site, Whedonesque, shut down after 15 years.

  • We got a new teaser for Netflix’s The Punisher. With the rate I’m getting through these Marvel shows, I’ll probably get to it just before Evie goes off to Hogwarts.

There was a national solar eclipse this week, which was the first occurrence since 1918. I’m sure you might’ve heard something about it. It was kind of a big deal. Folks were pimping out special cardboard glasses on Craigslist for insane amounts of money, and the American President made news by looking directly into it. It seems that it had a strange effect on different folks. For example, Netflix viewership went down 10% as people went outside to view the phenomenon. Not everyone understood what was going on, bless their hearts. At work, a frantic parent called in and said “Y’all watching the news? You hear about this eclipse? Is it serious?!” Apparently she thought it posed some sort of danger to her kids and the school. No, ma’am. It’s just a beautiful sky ballet. Anyway, the eclipse was EVERYWHERE. I didn’t get to see totality, but it was still nice to stand outside for a bit on a nice day. What am I saying? I hate the outdoors! Well, it was nice to not have to work for a few minutes. You couldn’t escape the Eclipse Fever at the start of the week, so that’s why the Solar Eclipse of 2017 had the West Week Ever.

13th Jun2017

Toy Biz Hotline Bling: I Used To Call You On My Wall Phone

by Will

If you’ve been to this site before, you were probably brought here for my weekly pop culture news review, West Week Ever, that I post every Friday. It didn’t always used to be like that, though. No, I used to write about anything that popped into my mind, as you’ll see in my archives. Over my time online, however, I’ve found that anything I can do, a lot of other folks can do better. When it comes to the nostalgia game, no one does it better than Matt over at Dinosaur Dracula. So, imagine my surprise when something popped into my head that he hadn’t covered yet! That’s right, kids – today we’re gonna talk about the Toy Biz Hotline.

A few days ago, I saw that a Facebook friend had shared the video for a Knight Rider hotline where you’d call and K.I.T.T. would tell you a story. Considering William Daniels actually respects himself, it was more likely the chance to hear a randomization of pre-recorded dialogue from a K.I.T.T. impersonator. One of the perks of calling the hotline, however, was that you’d receive a free “Wuppie”, which is basically a cotton ball with googly eyes and feet. You’d be surprised how many hotlines used the promise of a Wuppie to lure kids into calling.

If you’re a youngin’, then let me educate ya on something: the 80s were chock full of these hotlines, mainly because we didn’t have the Internet yet and unscrupulous business folks learned how to monetize that thing hanging on your wall in the kitchen. To put it in 2017 terms, 900 numbers were the “in app purchases” of the 1980s. While they were required to tell kids to get their parents’ permission, these hotlines were designed to trick kids into racking up high phone bills – ya know, so they could talk to Santa and get a toy cotton ball.

While we were obsessed with our phones in a different way than we are today, I can assure you that not everything was designed to make a dollar. Before you could tweet your displeasure at a company account, you used to have to call them. That’s right, you had to be indignant and ask an employee, “What’s the number for corporate?!” Remember, you couldn’t Google that shit yet. If they weren’t too busy using that slide thingy to process a credit card transaction, they would take out a Lisa Frank pen and write down a number for you. If you were lucky, that number would connect you to a phone system that MIGHT eventually lead to a real person on the other end. Basically, customer service was handled solely by phone. Some companies, instead of just waiting around for complaints, decided to be proactive with their customer service hotlines. That’s what brings us to Toy Biz.

http://thecomicscode.weebly.com/x-men-toy-biz.html

“But what’s a Toy Biz, Uncle Will?” Well, back in the late 80s/early 90s, all comic book-based action figures briefly came from the same company! I’ll let you catch your breath there for a minute, as I know that’s a crazy notion in today’s competitive world. Not only did Toy Biz land the license for 1989’s Batman (for which they produced an assortment of a whopping THREE figures), but they also handled DC Comics Super Heroes, based on Kenner’s old Super Powers molds. Then, shifting into the 90s, they dropped DC in favor of the Marvel license when Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter bought the company. We initially got a Marvel Super Heroes series, but their real claim to fame was the 8,000 X-Men figures they would go on to produce. I’ve always said that nobody mines a property quite like Playmates, but Toy Biz was a close second.

This was probably the first toy line to teach me about waves, meaning that the toys were released in batches at a specific time.  Most toys don’t include an “evergreen” line of toys that you can always find on shelves at any time. They used to differentiate the multiple iterations of a character by Roman numeral. So, “Wolverine” eventually gave way to “Wolverine XVII”. For example, if Wolverine II came out in September of 1994, then you’re probably not gonna be able to find him on shelves in October of 1995, because Wolverine III will be out by then. How would you know which figures were supposed to be in stores, without your parents wasting all their gas driving around? That’s where the Toy Biz hotline came in.

 

Listed on the cardbacks of all Toy Biz figures was a hotline that you could call that served as Toy Biz’s customer service line: 1-800-634-7539. While I guess you could call them to let them know your Colossus had two left legs, that’s not why people called it. No, the hotline had a prerecorded message where an emotionless male voice rattled off the names of the figures in the latest wave, in many cases mispronouncing them because they couldn’t give two shits about what they were actually saying. So, you’d get them just putting two words together, like “Omega Red”, but you’d also get mistakes like them calling the X-Men villain “Mag-NET-o”, instead of “Mag-NEAT-o”. I can’t speak for other folks, but I didn’t care! My best friend, Brett, and I used to call that number ALL THE TIME. It was the centerpiece of our sleepovers. It was like “So, should we call the number?” as if we were discussing digging out one of our dad’s old Playboy stash.

From what I could gather, it seemed like the message was updated about every 6 months or so. As the Toy Biz catalog increased, the message got longer. There was the X-Force subset, and the Hulk series, the Fantastic Four series, and more. If you wanted to, you could just listen to the dude drone on for a good 30 minutes. I have to admit, though, that once Power Rangers mania hit, I left Toy Biz in the past. So, I missed the evolution of the basic figures into the dynamic, articulated sculpting of the Marvel Legends that soon dominated Toy Biz’s offerings.

The hotline also had an answering machine portion, where you could ask questions about the toys. You were told to leave your name, number, and address, and they would get back to you. To date, I don’t know a single person who ever heard back from them. According to this article, it doesn’t seem like anyone heard back from them.

Since most of Toy Biz’s output was Marvel figures, it made all the sense in the world for them to change the name to Marvel Toys in 2007 – only to give up the Marvel license to Hasbro later that year.

So, we were left with a Marvel toy company that couldn’t make Marvel toys, and the company circled the drain as it cranked out Lord of the Rings and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling figures. The hotline remained a fixture on Marvel Toys packaging through the release of 2007’s Legendary Comic Book Heroes line. By this point, they had established a website, but were still advertising the number as the best way to reach them. In 2008, with no fanfare, the Marvel Toys website was taken down, signaling the end of the hotline and the company itself. Nowadays the number belongs to a DirecTV promotions department.

Despite what the ladies of LiveLinks would have you believe, the age of the interactive hotline is over. The Internet came along with its promises of instant gratification and all the correct AND fake news that you could want. Still, there was something quaint about the “personalized” experience of calling a hotline. Sure, we knew the messages were prerecorded, but that didn’t matter to us. When calling that hotline, we felt like we were getting insider information. We could go back and tell the news to our friends who lacked phone privileges. “Wolverine VII? Yeah, he’s not out yet, but Black Tom Cassidy is. Oh, you don’t know who that is? Well, I can’t help you there.” The Toy Biz hotline: Building fandom snobs before the Internet.

So, am I alone in remembering this? Do any of y’all have fond memories of dialing up this number? Share your memories in the comments!

07th Apr2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 4/7/17

by Will

 

So, last night I became the last person in America to see Get Out. As I joked on Twitter, I’m totally getting a divorce now. No, I kid, I kid. Like everyone said, it’s really good, though it may be a tad overrated. Just a tad. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, Get Out is the story of Black man Chris Williams who joins his White girlfriend Rose Armitage on a visit to her parents’ home for the weekend. And then crazy shit starts to happen. I can see what the appeal of the film is. I really can. But I’ve got to level with you: this movie hit a little too close to home. Yeah, I know that one Black reader I have is like “That’s what you get for datin’ them White girls!” No, seriously, I probably would’ve ended up just like Chris. First of all, I have a thing for Allison Williams. Even as bitchy, self-centered Marnie on Girls, I still have a thing for her. When her father fell from grace, I just wanted to tell her everything would be all right. So I would’ve taken the bait. In addition to that, I’ve dated that kind of family. Yes, in those cases, you’re dating the whole family. They had the same socioeconomic status as the Armitages, their friends were the same way, with the same weird questions. Sometimes you don’t realize how Black you are until that’s ALL you are to some folks. What some folks saw as just fun entertainment is something that I kinda lived. They’d do weird shit, where I felt like they were testing me. I remember the first time I went to stay for the weekend, they put me in a room with, like, three Rolexes just laying about like they were nothing. No, I don’t think they would’ve killed me, but I can totally see how something like this could happen. Meanwhile, I’m here thinking that I need to get me a friend as good as TSA Rod. I’ve got a lot to unpack from that movie right now. I’d love to have a conversation with Jordan Peele, ’cause that movie came from a place of experience. I wonder if I’d ever see it again, or if it’s like Bamboozled, where it’s just gonna make me hate White people for a while. Naw, I can’t hate y’all. You’re the only ones who read my site!

In movie news, it was reported that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are set to produce a film based on the Image comic Invincible. I used to read the series back when I worked at Diamond and got the hardcovers for free, and I really loved it. It follows Mark Grayson, who’s half human and half Viltrumite. His father, who’s full Vultrimite, is the hero known as Omni-Man, and Mark seems to have inherited a lot of his powers. Mark becomes the hero Invincible and a bunch of other stuff happens. Hey, what do you want from me? I only read the first 48 issues, and that was, like, 7 years ago. The thing I like about the series is that Mark is allowed to grow and change. People die and stay dead. In comics, there’s always the approach where they give the semblance of change without actual change, but that’s not how Invincible works. I mean, he’s currently married with a kid, and they haven’t resorted to having the Devil erase it all, unlike some heroes… Anyway, I like the idea of a movie, but I don’t know if Rogen and Goldberg are the guys to do it. After all, they’re the team behind AMC’s Preacher – a show that I’ve yet to really hear anything good about. Mainly, I heard season one was just boring. So, I guess we’ll just have to see what they bring to the table.

In other movie news, Scarlett Johansson’s live action Ghost In The Shell adaptation bombed, and the congregation rejoiced. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the film because it was felt that the main character, played by Johansson, was whitewashed. They felt she should’ve been portrayed by an Asian actress, and even the studio is now saying the movie failed to meet expectations due to the whitewashing controversy. I’m really not educated enough to weigh in on this one. I mean, I’d always heard that Japanese identity politics went a little deeper than we might think, which is why their cartoon characters always have blue hair and shit, but never really look Asian. But again, before I say something uninformed, I’m gonna bow out of this one. For a better understanding of the controversy, check out my friend Jenn’s post on the film.

Speaking of outrage, there was a Pepsi commercial that ruffled some feathers this week. I’d post the video, but Pepsi is trying to scrub all reference to the thing. In it, Kendall Jenner breaks away from a fashion shoot to join a peaceful protest, capping it off by offering a stern looking cop a Pepsi. He accepts, takes a swig, and everyone rejoices. The problem, however, is that the ad was kind of tone deaf. It seemed to trivialize the act of protesting, and to add insult to injury, it installed a pretty White girl as the face of the protest. Now, I saw the thing, and it was hamfisted, but I’m not sure it was worth all the threaded tweets and thinkpieces that it generated. Like, I get why folks didn’t like it, but I’m not sure I’m “woke” enough to see the whole matter. Anyone wanna weigh in on this one?

In television news, Disney Channel officially ordered Raven’s Home to series. Serving as the sequel to That’s So Raven, it features Raven Symone reprising her role as Raven Baxter, only now she’s the divorced mom of twin tweens. She also lives with her best friend, Chelsea, who’s ALSO a divorced single mom. Things start to get crazy, though, when Raven’s kids start to exhibit her psychic powers. See, that was always my thing with that show. Sure, I was too old for it when it was a hit, but I love a good tween TV show. That said, I feel like Raven and her friends could’ve had zany adventures without the whole psychic powers gimmick. I mean, the kids of iCarly didn’t need superpowers in order to be entertaining. The psychic stuff made it too much like a mystical tween Three’s Company which, on paper, sounds perfect, but isn’t that great in execution. Anyway, I just typed all this to justify posting a pic of costar Anneliese Van Der Pol. This whole thing just sounds like Fuller House with powers. I’ve got no nostalgia for the original show, so I doubt I’ll be checking this out.

In other TV news, Freeform has ordered New Warriors to series, featuring fan favorite character Squirrel Girl. I’ve got to admit that I know next to nothing about that character except that she was the nanny to Jessica Jones and Luke Cage’s daughter, Dani. I know she was a Great Lakes Avenger, but she was never a New Warrior. Still, they’ve been trying to find a vehicle for that character FOREVER, so I guess they finally figured it out. Based on how WB/DC has handled Powerless, I’m not too eager to see another comedy set in a comic book universe. The one bright spot in the whole thing is that Kevin Biegel is rumored to be the showrunner. Not only does he follow me on Twitter, but he’s the creator of the Fox series Enlisted (which I loved), and he co-created Cougar Town. Knowing that, I think the show is in good hands. I still feel weird about being a 35 year old man watching Freeform. It’s like you’re paying for The CW. The news, however, makes me sad that The Middle is still going. If you didn’t know, a few years ago, when it looked like the writing was on that wall for that show, Eden Sher had a meeting with Marvel. While we don’t really know what was discussed, her name was thrown around in the same discussions of Squirrel Girl. With The Middle already renewed for next season, though, that takes her out of the running. Sucks because I think Sher’s perky, Sue Heck personality would be perfect for Squirrel Girl.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Barry Manilow came out as gay, which makes me realize that he’s actually been singing about Man D all these years…
  • Speaking of gay, on Doctor Who it was revealed that The Doctor’s latest female companion, Bill, is gay. I mean, her name is “Bill”, so, surprise?
  • NBC ordered 2 additional episodes of the Will & Grace revival, bringing the total up to 12.
  • Also in the Department of Things We Don’t Need, there are apparently outlines for 14 more Transformers movies


I’ve written about my love of The Undertaker a few times here on the site. Basically, he’s a relic of a bygone era in professional wrestling – an era of kayfabe, when enemies wouldn’t fly on the same planes together, or be seen hanging out together at IHOP. He’s from a time when people had flashy names and in-ring gimmicks to set them apart. The industry has changed a lot since then, but you could always depend on Taker. If I were to be a professional wrestler tomorrow, my in-ring name would be Bruce Williamson. That’s how they do it now. Other business ventures came along, like Total Divas, which even further blurred the lines between real and fake, but you could always depend on Taker.

In recent years, he’s basically been a part-timer. Ever since The Streak was broken, there wasn’t really much need for him to be around. The mystique was kind of gone by that point. But, like clockwork, he still showed up to Wrestlemania and did his job. In my heart, I knew the end was near. I’d always said that, given some advance warning, I’d even try to attend his final show. He means that much to me. Well, I didn’t even get to watch his final appearance, which was last Sunday at Wrestlemania 33. The card looked weak, and I felt I had better shit to do. Little did I realize I’d be missing history in the making. The Undertaker jobbed to Roman Reigns, narrowly missing out on his 100th pay per view victory. While the rumors of retirement had been floating for years, no one was ready for what would happen next. He donned his signature coat, gloves, and hat, and took one last look at the crowd. Then, he removed them, placed them in a pile in the center of the ring, and walked away. He kissed his wife, pretty much breaking character, and proceeded to walk up the ramp, where he was lowered until he disappeared. As the crew dismantled the ring, they refused to move his belongings – a gesture of respect to the man who brought us all nearly 30 years of entertainment. I hate that I wasn’t there, but I especially hate that I didn’t even watch it. Sure, in this technological age we can always find what we’re looking for, but I feel like I let him down. He doesn’t know me, doesn’t give a shit about me, but I know him, and I thank him. So, with that in mind, Mark Calaway, AKA The Undertaker had the West Week Ever.

18th Jan2017

West YEAR Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 2016

by Will

Thank 8 pound, 6 ounce newborn Baby Jesus that 2016 is over! I mean, I guess there was some good stuff peppered in there, but it was an overall rough year for a lot of people. I tried to keep my sanity here on the blog, but even I checked out for the month of November. Like Kenny Rogers told us, sometimes you’ve gotta know when to walk away. But I did make a return in December just to kick the year in the ass on its way out. So, besides celebrity deaths, what did 2016 bring us? Well, there was that week we were all mesmerized by Pokemon Go! Those were fun times. We got new X-Files episodes. Peyton Manning retired after winning the Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos. Atlanta and Luke Cage came along and entertained us on television. And things weren’t too shabby here on the blog either.

During Spring Break Week, I discussed several of the most underrated TV theme songs, including Webster, California Dreams, and Enterprise.

I also covered the worst Batman comic ever written, in the form of Just Imagine Stan Lee’s Batman

I did my annual Fall TV Upfronts post, where I discussed the upcoming fall lineups of the major broadcast networks.

A post that was several years in the making, I ranked the Hot Moms of Teen Shows over on The Robot’s Pajamas

I also did a guest post ranking the hottest Power Rangers Villains

It wasn’t all fun and games, though. The country was going through some dark stuff, and I’m particularly proud of this West Week Ever where I discussed the racial problems in the country.

I also experience my first live wrestling event as I attended a taping of WWE Monday Night Raw.

I brought back my graphic novel review column, Adventures West Coast, where I covered Wonder Woman: Earth One.

I also brushed off my Comical Thoughts column, where I discussed IDW’s disappointing Hasbro-centric Revolution event.

Finally, I closed out the year with a post that I’m particularly proud of, discussing the greatest problems facing comic retailers.

I saw about 13 fewer movies in 2016 than in 2015. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but there are only so many hours in the day. As you know, I’m not necessarily Mr. Movie, so I’m not even going to try to rank them. Here they are, simply in the order that I saw them. Wanna know my thoughts? Plug the title into the search box up on the top righthand corner!

Movies I Watched This Year

  1. Lucy
  2. Beauty Shop
  3. Bikini Spring Break
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey
  5. X-Men: Days of Future Past (The Rogue Cut)
  6. We Don’t Live Here Anymore
  7. Gone Girl
  8. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2
  9. The Martian
  10. Inside Out
  11. Sisters
  12. Batman: Bad Blood
  13. Son of Batman
  14. Batman vs. Robin
  15. The Hundred-Foot Journey
  16. Tomorrowland
  17. Deadpool
  18. San Andreas
  19. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
  20. Autism In Love
  21. Cop Car
  22. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
  23. Dead 7
  24. Justice League vs. Teen Titans
  25. Pacific Rim
  26. All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records
  27. CHAPPiE
  28. Unhung Hero
  29. Trainwreck
  30. Confirmation
  31. The Boss
  32. Captain America: Civil War
  33. They Live
  34. Ted 2
  35. Creed
  36. Zoolander 2
  37. The Ladykillers
  38. 10 Cloverfield Lane
  39. X-Men: Apocalypse
  40. The Intern
  41. You’re F@#k’n Dead!
  42. LEGO DC Comics: Batman Be-Leaguered
  43. LEGO DC Comics Superheroes: Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom
  44. Focus
  45. The Good Dinosaur
  46. Sleeping with Other People
  47. Big Hero 6
  48. Keanu
  49. Southpaw
  50. The Night Before
  51. The Equalizer
  52. The Bronze
  53. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
  54. Batman: The Killing Joke
  55. Sharknado: The 4th Awakens
  56. Suicide Squad
  57. The Day
  58. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  59. Independence Day: Resurgence
  60. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  61. Meet The Hitlers
  62. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates
  63. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
  64. Doctor Strange
  65. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

 

West Week Ever Recipients of 2016 (with commentary)

1/8/16 – Fall Out Boy’s “Irresistible” video

I’m a huge boyband fan, so the news that one of my favorite bands (Fall Out Boy) had reimagined the It’s Gonna Be Me video by one of my favorite boybands (*NSYNC) definitely made my week. The sheer fact that it didn’t really move the world of pop culture, however, shows you how slow of a news week it was. There would be many weeks like this in 2016.

1/15/16 – Power Rangers

This was quite the week for the Power Rangers franchise. First off, it was revealed that Saban would be skipping the train-centric sentai series Ressha Sentai ToQger, and instead adapt Shuriken Sentai Ninninger as Power Rangers Ninja Steel. This announcement was almost a year to the date of the premiere of the show (scheduled to debut next Saturday), and we spent the next few months getting casting and toy news about the show. Meanwhile, the #0 issue of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic was released by Boom! that week, setting up a series that is so much better than it has any right to be. I’ve written about it several times over the year, as I’m a big fan. And finally, former Wild Force Red Ranger actor Ricardo Medina was formally charged that week for killing his roommate with a sword. All in all, I think Power Rangers truly earned the West Week Ever that week.

1/22/16 – DC Entertainment

The Suicide Squad trailer was released this week, as well as the series premiere of Legends of Tomorrow. The Suicide Squad promotion machine would see its ups and downs over the year, the Legends premiere was fairly strong, even with a bunch of useless characters (I’m looking at you, Hawks). The show would get stronger in its second season, but this is where it all started. We also got a DC movie special hosted by Kevin Smith, giving us some Wonder Woman and Justice League footage. Marvel usually dominates the news cycle, but DC showed that they can also step up to the plate.

1/29/16 – The X-Files

When news of an X-Files revival hit, it was pretty big news. Then it launched, and it wasn’t exactly what folks were expecting. Clocking in at 6 episodes, only half of them focused on the conspiracy aspect of the show, plus they were aired out of order.  I went from really liking the premiere to completely forgetting it existed, in a very short amount of time. If it was going to get the WWE, it would had to have been this week of the premiere, as it ended with more of a whimper than a bang.

2/5/16 – UnderScoopFire Podcast

I appeared on the UnderScoopFire Podcast 8 times over the years, and had a great time on every one of them. Those guys are some of my good friends that I’ve met online, so of course I was sad to see it go. After 150 shows (give or take a few. Yeah, I’m not letting that go!), I think their swan song deserved the West Week Ever.

2/12/16 – Denver Broncos

I couldn’t give two shits about sports, but Lindsay’s from Denver, so we’re a Broncos household. So, everything was coming up Milhouse this week, as the Broncos won Super Bowl 50. Not only was it a nice, round, milestone number, but it also served as future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning’s final game. It was the perfect storybook ending that sports fans seem to love so much. So, yeah, they totally deserved the West Week Ever.

2/19/16 – Deadpool

Deadpool came out and blew away everyone’s expectations. I mean, this thing is getting nominated for awards. And not Razzies, too! Personally, I thought it was too gratuitous. I’ve gone over my reasoning before, so I won’t rehash that here. Still, it went on to become the second highest grossing superhero film of the year, just behind Captain America: Civil War. Totally deserved.

3/4/16 – Fuller House

After Girl Meets World came along, the runway was cleared for any and every nostalgic reboot to come along. And along came Fuller House. Every fan of TGIF awaited it with bated breath, hoping for the same mindless entertainment they got from the original show. And it did not disappoint! The second season just debuted a few weeks ago, and it’s already been picked up for a 3rd on Netflix. This show not only showed the power of Netflix as a home for original comedies, but also showed that old dogs still have some fight left in them. I think this was definitely the high point of that week.

3/11/16 – Jay Pharaoh

This was a slow week. Sure, Pharaoh did an amazing impersonation spree during that week’s Saturday Night Live Weekend Update. Like, it was AMAZING. And to pay him back, the show fired him at the end of the season. He’s OK, as he immediately booked a Showtime pilot, but the fact that this was the most noteworthy thing of the week shows how slow things were.

3/18/16 – Nothing

Some weeks you’ve just gotta call a spade a spade. Instead of insulting anyone’s intelligence, nothing had the West Week Ever.

3/25/16 – Wonder Woman

Like a lot of people, I did not like Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Like a lot of people, I also felt that Wonder Woman was the brightest spot in that dark film. Totally deserved

4/1/16 – Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice 

I may not have liked it. A lot of folks may not have liked it. But it made some money. A lot of money. And it was the true springboard to DC’s cinematic universe. So, for its money-making and its importance, I think it earned the West Week Ever. Just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean that it’s bad. It just wasn’t for me.

4/8/16 – American Idol

Idol‘s series finale aired that week, marking the end of a pop culture juggernaut. Unlike The Voice, Idol actually created household names. It gave us Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, Carrie Underwood, and Fantasia. On the flip side, it also gave us William Hung, Taylor Hicks, and Daughtry. It spawned so many copycats, but it was the original recipe. Its influence may have waned in later years, but no one can deny what it was in its heyday. I think it’ll eventually come back, but this was when we said “Ta ta, for now.”

4/15/16 – Marvel

That week, we found out Natalie Portman wasn’t coming back for Thor: Ragnarok, we got a teaser trailer for Doctor Strange, an we learned that the new Spider-Man movie would be called Spider-Man: Homecoming. Marvel definitely dominated the news cycle that week.

4/22/16 – Harriet Tubman

While it was pretty monumental that a woman (a Black woman, mind you) would be adorning American currency, it doesn’t really move the pop culture needle that much. So, I ended up giving the West Week Ever to a dead woman – in a column that has a pretty strict No Death policy. This was kind of a slow week…

4/29/16 – Beyoncé

The singer dropped the surprise album Lemonade following their airing of her HBO special. One of the songs alluded to the possibility that her husband, Jay-Z, might have cheated on her. For the next week, everyone was pondering the identity of “Becky, with the good hair”. This is the kind of thing the drives pop culture. Totally deserved.

5/6/16 – Captain America: Civil War

I had seen the movie, and thought it was excellent.

5/13/16 – Captain America: Civil War

Then the movie made a lot of money. I mean, a fuckton of money.

5/20/16 – Nothing

It was just one of those weeks

5/27/16 – DC Universe: Rebirth #1

DC Comics lost a lot of fans after the New 52 event, in which they rebooted their universe. So, the Rebirth event was something of a mea culpa to those fans. More like a “Please come back! We promise to make stuff you’ll like again!” And for the most part it has worked. This special not only brought fan favorite Wally West back into the fold, but it also sort of introduced the Watchmen comic into the mainstream DC universe. We don’t yet know how that’s all going to play out, but this move helped DC to dominate more market share than Marvel for most of the year.

6/3/16 – Ecto-Cooler

I never really liked Ecto-Cooler. I mean, it tasted kinda like tropical piss, but I loved the fact that Slimer was on the box. That’s about where my nostalgia ended. But a lot of y’all out there LOVED that shit! So, when it was announced that Coca Cola was bringing it back in conjunction with the Ghostbusters movie, y’all started assembling street teams to track it down. I swear, if the 2016 election had been run in a manner similar to the vim and vigor displayed trying to track down green sugar water, I might actually have some hope for tomorrow!

6/10/16 – Awesome Con 2016

Slow week. Cool show, great company, but slow week.

6/17/16 – Hamilton

I discovered the Hamilton soundtrack the same week that it won 11 of the 16 Tony Awards for which it was nominated. We’ll talk more about the show later, but the West Week Ever was deserved, even if the wins did fall short of the Tony Award record.

6/24/16 – Black actors in Hollywood

This was more of a joke, as every Black actor in Hollywood was being cast in the upcoming Black Panther film. That trend has continued since this post. Still, slow news week.

7/1/16 – The 683 New Members of the Oscar Academy

Another joke. Due to the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag, signifying that the Academy was lacking in diversity, 683 people were invited to be members, bolstering the number of women and minorities. Still, slow news week.

7/8/16 – TNA’s The Final Deletion

Oh, man! This thing was incredible. They went on to milk it for the rest of the year, andI missed all subsequent installments. Still, this got me to pay attention to a wrestling promotion not owned by Vince McMahon, and for a brief moment, all wrestling eyes were on TNA to see what Matt Hardy would do next. Completely deserved.

7/15/16 – Pokemon GO!

This game came along and took the world by STORM. To say it was a success would be an understatement. It was envisioned to promote fitness, as kids would have to walk around to find perks and to get their eggs to hatch, but there were workarounds. Hell, I drove around looking for Pokestops. For about 4 weeks, this was all anyone could talk about. It was the Tamagotchi of a new generation, and I think, outside of all the political stuff, it’s one of the things we’ll remember most about 2016.

7/22/16 – Ghostbusters

It was a slow week, but Ghostbusters and the Republican National Convention were the only newsworthy events of the week. As much as we want to pile on that movie, it did take in a respectable $46 million, and it set a record for Paul Feig/Melissa McCarthy movies. I know a lot of folks don’t feel the movie’s deserving of any kind of accolades. As you saw above, I didn’t watch it, but I still think it’s not as bad as people would like me to believe. I swear, though, had they named it anything other than Ghostbusters, we’d still be talking about it.

7/29/16 – DC Entertainment

DC, back with their SECOND West Week Ever of the year? The word on the street was that they “won” San Diego Comic Con, with their new footage of Justice League, as well as the debut of the Wonder Woman trailer. Considering Marvel usually dominates SDCC, this was a feat worth acknowledging.

8/12/16 – Suicide Squad

The movie made $160 million in 5 days, which is nothing to sneeze at. Plus, I actually enjoyed it. I didn’t like it as a component of DC’s cinematic world building, but I liked it as a standalone thing on its own.

8/19/16 – Ryan Lochte

He was an Olympian at the center of a fake robbery attempt in a foreign country, who then fled to let his teammates take the fall. It’s the stuff of a great Aaron Spelling show. He had the West Week Ever simply because he got away with it.

8/26/16 – Guardians trailer

Slow news week, even if the trailer is pretty awesome. Billed as “Russia’s Avengers”, the English version of Guardians trailer started making the rounds because of its crazy action and gun-wielding bear man. Yeah, you’ve gotta see it to believe it. The movie might not even be released over here, and if it is, it’ll never get higher than cult status. Still, if you want to know what everyone was talking about that week, it was Guardians.

9/2/16 – Are You Being Served? one-off special

Some might say this was a slow news week, but I think this applied the West Week Ever to an international stage when I typically just focus on the US. After all, this special didn’t even air in America (nor has it since, nor do there seem to be plans to do so in the future), and I had to resort watching it on YouTube. Still, I grew up with Are You Being Served? and I was more than curious to see how an update of it might hold up. With a few small exceptions, it was pitch perfect, and definitely in the spirit of the original series. This one might’ve been a bit personal for me, but I think it was the best part of this particular week.

9/9/16 – Atlanta

The show just won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy Series. I think I called this one correctly.

9/16/16 – Better Late Than Never

Another personal one for me, but it’s my site, so whatever. I’m more than certain none of my friends were watching this show, but I watched it weekly with my mom and we enjoyed it. I wrote about it to get folks to seek it out, but I doubt that happened. Still, in a week when nothing happens, things like this are allowed to shine.

9/23/16 – Lindsay West

Mah wife. Running your first half marathon is pretty impressive. And nothing happened in the overall pop culture world. If you’ve followed West Week Ever since the beginning, you know that every so often some random person gets the honor. Hell, last year, my kid had the West Year Ever, so you never know where I might play that card.

10/7/16 – Luke Cage

It broke Netflix! So many people tuned in that Netflix couldn’t handle it. I still haven’t seen it, but I haven’t heard a bad thing about it other than the fact that it kinda drags in the middle – like most Marvel Netflix shows.

10/14/16 – Will & Grace

Considering I think I was the only one impressed by this Will & Grace special that was designed to get folks to get out and vote, I’m sure a lot of folks disagreed with this choice. Still, if you were a Will & Grace fan, then you can’t deny how great it was to see those characters in a way that felt like they’d never left us.

10/21/16 – Logan trailer

Can’t say much more because the movie’s not out yet, but we were ALL talking about this after it dropped, and it’s on most folks’ most anticipated movies of 2017 lists. I don’t think it’s going to disappoint.

10/28/16 – The Walking Dead

I don’t watch it, but I did tune into this episode just to watch a man die. Or two men. Whatever. All folks could talk about this week was whether or not the show had gone too far. The Walking Dead dominated the discussion, so this West Week Ever was well-deserved.

11/4/16 – The Chicago Cubs

Um, the “cursed” team won their first championship after 108 years. Yeah, this was deserved.

12/2/16 – Search Party

I don’t feel like a lot of my readers had seen the show when I wrote this, but I know a few who checked it out because I’d written about it. That’s why I do this, kids! It was one of my favorite shows of 2017, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, I’m not quite sure what you’re waiting for.

12/9/16 – Hamilton

Hamilton for the second time this year. The last time was for its Tony wins, but this one was two-fold: The Hamilton Mixtape was released and a beautifully pirated copy of the play was uploaded to YouTube. I watched it during the 5 days that it was allowed to stay on the site, and I can now die saying that I saw Hamilton. This was on the heels of a controversy where the cast members took a moment to address Vice President-Elect Mike Pence while he was taking in the show. For the next week, the conversation was whether or not they should’ve done that. So, it’s safe to say that Hamilton was on everyone’s lips around that time.

12/16/16 – WWE’s New Day

Yeah, then they lost two days after I posted this. I guess that’s how the cookie crumbles. Still, they deserved the West Week Ever for all they had put in leading up to this point.

12/23/16 – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

It was the last thing to make a dent in pop culture before the clock ran out on 2016. A lot of folks are saying it’s one of their favorite Star Wars movies. I don’t really get that, but I’m happy for them if that’s the case. I thought it was entertaining, but I didn’t really like it. It’s hard to explain, and I’ve tried. Still, there’s no way anything else is going to take center stage when there’s new Star Wars to be consumed.

So, who had the West Year Ever? In the past, I’ve added up who had the most West Week Ever wins and then it’s a runoff. If we’re being honest, Death had the West Year Ever. There were SO many celebrity deaths this year, that it would take another post just to do a proper In Memoriam for everyone we lost. And of course, you have those guys who wanna “Neil deGrasse Tyson” everything by pointing out that people die all the time, or that the year is an arbitrary number. Whatever, asshole. That doesn’t help anybody, and it’s why you don’t get invited to many parties. Anyway, I don’t like to focus on death in West Week Ever -not because it’s morbid, but more because I feel like I’d have to acknowledge every celebrity death, even when I didn’t personally give a shit about that person. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Doing the math, it’s a three-way tie between DC Entertainment, Captain America: Civil War, and Hamilton. DC Entertainment really stepped up this year, taking a good chunk of the comics market share away from Marvel, as well as by launching their cinematic universe. After years of being the joke of the industry, DC finally started pushing back. And the Rebirth initiative didn’t hurt things, either. Meanwhile, not everyone loved Civil War. I did, but even I’ll admit that it’s basically “Dawn of Justice Done Right”. They’re both superhero slugfests that surround the concept of dead moms. Some called it “Civil Bore”, but I don’t agree with that. Still, I have to kind of acknowledge that there is a divide out there. Finally, there’s Hamilton. It had a big year, but I don’t know if we’ll look back and say “Hamilton really came into its own in 2016.” If anything, that’s more likely to happen at a time when the show can more easily be consumed by the masses. So, Hamilton’s year may actually be ahead of it, but it’s not 2016. So, I think it’s pretty clear. 2016 was the year where retailers stopped buying everything Marvel was selling, and so did the fans. The quality of Marvel’s output was in question more this year than it was in recent years, yet people still seemed to be able to find positive things about the DC Universe. Meanwhile, their movies might not be your cup of tea, but they made money, and the critics haven’t deterred them from forging ahead. So, with that, I believe I simply have to admit that DC Entertainment had the West Year Ever.

06th Jan2017

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 1/6/17

by Will

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017, where we’re gonna lose even more celebrities than we did last year! That’s right, kiss Betty White goodbye!

 

On the movie front, since we last got together, I saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Yeah, it didn’t do much for me. Now, let me back up a bit. I did miss the first 20 minutes because I had double-booked the night. So, I did miss the setup, but my friend caught me up so I’d know who everyone was. There was Hector “Space” Gonzalez, and Trixie Bang Bang, and Gay Karate Man, and He Who Shoots From Canister Vacuum. And they were fighting the evil Sir Capes A Lot, who was building the Death Star. I got all that. Still, something about it just left me empty. I feel like it’s a giant Easter egg of a movie for those hardcore Star Wars fans, but I’m not sure what it offers the casual fan. ***SPOILER ALERT***I mean, it’s just one big suicide mission. It’s impressive how they’ve worked it into the existing tapestry of A New Hope, but it’s not a story that had to be told, especially since no one made it off that beach. Just kinda bummed me out***END SPOILER***. Anyway, every Star Wars fan I know loved it, so I’m happy for them.

I finally watched the Justice League Action special I mentioned in the last post. It was OK. I mean, I loved that a lot of familiar voices were back, like Kevin Conroy and Khary Randolph, but I’m not sure I’m sold on the animation. First thing to remember is that it’s not the Justice League/Justice League Unlimited that we got over 10 years ago. It’s aimed at a younger audience, and the episodes are best described as “bite sized”. In the special, the Trinity team up with Captain Marvel, Swamp Thing, Green Arrow, Plastic Man and John Constantine to fight evil D’Jinn brothers. It was OK. Like, it wasn’t riveting, but it felt like the kind of thing that would be released directly to DVD. Not sure I’m gonna be DVRing it every Saturday morning. What did y’all think?

Since I’ve been a booster of it since the development stage, it’s with heavy heart that I can confirm that Girl Meets World has been canceled by Disney Channel. I was a huge fan of Boy Meets World, as I feel like I basically grew up with Corey, Shawn, and Topanga. Their stories weren’t as zany as the TNBC fare, but they weren’t always heavy, either. Sure, every now and then you’d get an episode about how Shawn’s poor white trash, but those episodes were few and far between. So, that’s kinda what I expected from Girl Meets World. And I’ve gotta say I was disappointed because that show got heavy as FUCK sometimes! Is there a God? Why did Maya’s dad leave? Is Farkle autistic? It’s like every episode just HAD to teach a lesson. Oh, and they reminded us Maya was poor white trash every possible chance they could get.

I loved the legacy aspect of it, but it just didn’t hit on all cylinders like I felt Fuller House did (which, by the way, was just renewed for a 3rd season on Netflix). Sure, Full House was treacly dreck, but then again, so was a lot of Boy Meets World. They were both ensconced in the world of TGIF at one time or another, and had similar ingredients. I just feel like Fuller House came back with nothing to prove, while Girl Meets World seemed like it was fulfilling some mandate from Disney that it had to be educational. It is surprising, however, that it’s not getting a fourth season, as Disney tends to love their 100-episode runs – the point at which the shows become no longer profitable to produce. Sure, Even Stevens and Lizzie McGuire only ran two seasons, but later hits like That’s So Raven and Hannah Montana got four seasons.

To be honest, part of me feels like the cancellation stems from star Rowan Blanchard’s tweets last year, where she came out as identifying as queer. Now, Disney is a pretty progressive company, but I’m not sure they knew how to spin that, and the renewal question has been up in the air since then. Still, a lot of folks are discussing the fact that Raven-Symone is a lesbian, yet she has her That’s So Raven reboot coming to Disney Channel, so maybe I’m wrong. Some fans are hoping the show will be picked up by Freeform (formerly ABC Family), where it could tackle more mature themes, but I think it’s done for now. The final 3 episodes air this month.

In TV news, there were a few bait and switch situations this week. First up, it was reported that Will & Grace was definitely coming back for a limited 10-episode run following the success of that voting video they did a few months back. Recurring guest star Leslie Jordan started blabbing that it was a done deal until Debra Messing finally came out and said that nothing had moved past the talking stage at this point. On the one hand, I loved Will & Grace during a tumultuous time in my life, but I’m kinda done with it. I want a Will & Grace reunion about as much as I wanna see a Mad About You reunion (God, that was a horrible finale!). Still, Hollywood’s out of ideas, so I’d say it’s still happening.

Next up, reports came out of The International Consumer Electronics Show that Conan would be moving to a weekly schedule, a la Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. It’s been rumored that the show had been having trouble booking high profile guests, and the best ratings came from when Conan would travel and tape on location. By the end of yesterday, however, TBS reported that there were no plans for a format change “at this time”. So, just like with Will & Grace, it’s happening. They’re just upset they couldn’t get in front of it fast enough.

Speaking of cable shows, Archer is finally moving to FXX this season. The original plan was for FXX to be Fox’s cable comedy network, while FX would handle the dramas. However, when FXX launched, it just became the home of The Simpsons until It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia got shuffled over there. The fact that they didn’t move Louie and Archer, however, made it seem like a vote of no confidence for the spinoff network. Archer’s is little long in the tooth these days, and it’s no longer the crown jewel it once was, but I wonder if it’s got the juice to get more eyeballs on FXX. I hope it works because I love Man Seeking Woman and You’re The Worst over there, and they could both use more viewers.

In comic news, DC Entertainment President Geoff Johns confirmed that there would soon be an announcement regarding a new DCTV television show. Now, it’s not clear if this is another Berlantiverse series, a la Arrow/The Flash, or an unconnected show like Gotham. I’m curious if it’s just a confirmation of the Black Lightning show that had already been ordered to pilot by Fox, or if it’s something completely different. Also, it’s being reported that Johns will write some Watchmen comics this summer. This is a terrible idea since so many fanboys treat Watchmen like it’s their Bible, so there’s no way this will be well-received. They tried the Before Watchmen series, which didn’t really catch fire. They just had to go and reintroduce the concept in DC Universe Rebirth #1, so now I guess they’ve gotta do something with it. I’ve never felt Watchmen was “untouchable”, but I have no desire to revisit that world, so this project simply isn’t for me.

In wrestling news, it’s being reported that Diamond Dallas Page and “Ravishing” Rick Rude will be inducted into the 2017 class of the WWE Hall of Fame during Wrestemania weekend. The latter one really means a lot to me. I think Rick Rude was my first favorite wrestler because he was my introduction to the concept of a “ladies man”. The way he would pick a random woman out of the audience, and bring her into the ring. He’d kiss her, she’d pass out, and then he’d gyrate over her. That was a true pimp move right there! Like most wrestlers, he died before his time, so I guess he’s gyrating over angels now.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Supergirl star Melissa Benoist divorced her husband of 21 months, Blake Jenner
  • Woody Harrelson is in talks to portray Han Solo’s mentor in an upcoming Star Wars film
  • Former UFC champion Ronda Rousey lost to Amanda Nunes in 48 seconds, after training for over a year for her comeback.
  • A Charmed reboot is in the works at The CW. It’s reported to be set in the 70s, but will have some kind of connection to the original series.
  • Mariah Carey “lost the plot”, as out British friends might say, when her pre-recorded track messed up on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. She claims they intentionally sabotaged her for ratings, while Dick Clark Productions reports that she didn’t even come to soundcheck.
  • 80’s pop star Richard Marx and wife, former VJ Daisy Fuentes, subdued a crazed passenger on a Korean airline. In other news, how the Hell did Richard Marx land Daisy Fuentes?!
  • It was revealed that Drew Barrymore’s upcoming Netflix sitcom Santa Clarita Diet is actually a zombie show. Meh. I’ve been over zombies since 2006.

  • In Arizona, folks reported seeing a winged demon, heralding the beginning of the apocalypse. Yup, 2017 is gonna be swell!

When I first heard about The Mick, starring It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia‘s Kaitlin Olsen, a lot of thoughts went through my head: Is Sunny over? Is Fox gonna bury it? Will it even be funny? Luckily, I got my answers pretty quickly. No, Sunny is still going, as they scheduled The Mick around its shooting schedule. Fox didn’t bury it, but instead gave it some prime real estate after one of the last regular season football games of the season. And was it funny? Yeah, it’s funny.

If you haven’t heard of it, Olson stars as MacKenzie “Mickey” Murphy who’s going nowhere in life. She’s got no money, no prospects, and a deadbeat boyfriend. She decides to pay a visit to her wealthy sister to hit her up for a loan when the FBI raids the party, carting her sister off to jail for fraud. Once released, Mickey’s sister and brother in law flee the country, leaving their 3 kids in Mickey’s care. There’s the college bound bitch daughter, there’s the privileged snob teen son, and then there’s the precocious little boy who doesn’t really know what’s going on. Of course Mickey butts heads with the older two, while befriending the maid, Alba. The pilot plays out somewhat predictably, as most of it had been shown in TV spots leading up to the show. It’s the second episode where things really kick into gear. A loan shark comes after Micky, while she and Alba are getting high at a rave. Meanwhile, the kids’ bitchy grandmother has come to take over the house, and grandma doesn’t play!

I thoroughly enjoyed both episodes that aired this week. As I said before, it debuted on Sunday, which I feel is a better night for it. Instead, however, its regular timeslot is Tuesdays at 8:30, following New Girl. It being a Fox show, however, it probably doesn’t have a prayer. After all, I thought Grandfathered would be a sure thing, and now Stamos is back on Fuller House duty. No, I doubt we get a second season of this thing, but I’ll enjoy it while it’s here. That’s why The Mick had the West Week Ever.

 

19th Dec2016

The Greatest Threat To the Direct Market Comic Retailer IS The Direct Market Comic Retailer

by Will

So, a few days ago, The Beat wrote the article “Why Are The Comics Retailers Worried About Mass Store Closings?“, which was your standard fear mongering about how the Direct Market is on its last legs. If you’re not familiar with the comic industry, here’s a crash course: the Direct Market is comprised of the comic shops who specialize in selling comics and related merch. If you buy the latest issue of Batman from Barnes & Noble, you’re not participating in the Direct Market. However, if you buy it from Jack’s Comics & Stuff, you’re a Direct Market consumer. Comics in the Direct Market are sold on a non-returnable basis, meaning that if retailers order too much of a book, they’re stuck with that stock, and can’t send unsolds back to the distributor unlike other periodicals.

The article posits a few different reasons retailers are afraid:

  • DC’s Prices Are Too Low – Um, $2.99 isn’t too low when most of those books are shipped biweekly. Simple math dictates that retailers will make more from selling two $2.99 books than one $3.99, even if it’s marginal. Sure, the retailer may want to make more money, but it’s a nice gesture of goodwill to the consumer – something Marvel could learn from, considering they keep releasing quarterly $9.99 Deadpool issues on top of the several spinoff series they have for the character that month.
  • Customers Are Disappearing – Well, duh. Minecraft and video games. Oh, and for the lucky older consumers, sex. Gotta pay for that sex!
  • Customers Are Switching To Collected Trade Paperback Format – Well, you get more bang for your buck that way. For example, each comic from Image has a cover price of $3.99, however each first volume of an Image series’ trade paperback collects approximately 6 issues for $9.99. Can you blame them?
  • Customers Don’t Like Marvel’s Output – When have customers liked Marvel’s output? No, when was the last time someone was like “Marvel’s really firing on all cylinders”? The first Civil War crossover? That was ten years ago. It’s not that Marvel’s necessarily worse these days. It’s that people are used to Marvel being better than DC, and now the gap between their quality is a lot smaller, due to Marvel trying to make lightning strike twice and DC getting a slight bump from Rebirth.
  • Rising Costs of Doing Business – Well, you can’t really fight that. Everything is more expensive.
  • Diamond Credit Crackdown – This is on the retailer. They knew they owed Diamond money, and kept letting it build up, not thinking Diamond was ever gonna come collect. It’s a business, not a charity.

A lot of comic shops are having a tough go of it, but the blame is being passed on to everyone from the distributor, Diamond Comic Distributors, to the Big 2 publishers, Marvel and DC. It’s always the same crap: “Diamond’s model is antiquated and comics should be returnable” or “Everything Marvel’s publishing is crap right now.” To read the comments on the post, however, you see a lot of folks railing against Marvel’s supposed “Social Justice Warrior” agenda, where they’re “forcing” diversity into all of their books. Really, if you wanna make a bunch of middle aged White men mad, start trying to diversify their funny books. Anyway, in a fit of anger, I wrote the following comment:

 

This is going to be a controversial opinion, but I see no overwhelming reason to support small businesses, and I don’t think I’m alone. Why am I paying more for something I can get cheaper elsewhere, especially with complaints of poor customer service, poor stocking of items, etc so pervasive these days? Now, call me an “ungrateful millennial” or whatever, but I don’t have fond memories of walking down by the crick, with a rolled up comic in my back pocket that I got from the local five and dime. It’s not an experience that I relate to. Same with comic shops. I have several I love, but the world would keep spinning if they shut down tomorrow.

The mentality that wants me to support Mom and Pop is the same one that wants Marvel to never change, and keep offering the same product it did 50 years ago. This is a common argument in the geek TV world. There are tons of adult fans angry at Power Rangers because it “sucks” compared to when they were kids, or hate Cartoon Network for showing nothing but Teen Titans Go – never stopping to realize they’re not the target audience. Thirty year olds wonder why today’s kids can’t love Snake-Eyes as much as they did, not realizing that maybe it’s time to give a new generation their OWN stories. There’s no shame in knowing when to walk away. I’ve seen folks say things like “I didn’t leave comics, comics left me.” Well, take that as a hint. Maybe the industry doesn’t want or need you anymore. Time to find new hobbies and pursuits!

 

What I said about small businesses is true. Just as I don’t really subscribe to the notion of “team spirit” (which is why I’m a terrible sports fan), I also never understood the push to support local mom and pop stores. I’m just fine with my big box retailers, with their affordable prices and decent customer service. These comic retailers chose to open their businesses, but now they approach them as if they’re victims. The distributor is out to get them because of the lengthy ordering window and lack of returnability. The publishers are out to get them because they keep publishing lackluster product. But it’s never “Ya know, I backed the wrong horse by buying into Marvel’s crossover hype.” It’s never “I made the wrong call”, but instead it’s phrased like “How dare Marvel make me order that tripe?!” That doesn’t even make sense. I think there’s a certain level of professionalism needed that’s not always there for small businesses. I don’t know what the CEO of Walmart thinks about the latest Hulk book, but you better believe Joe at Joe’s Comics & Stuff is gonna gripe to me about it. Not recommend it, or pivot to something better – GRIPE. That’s no way to run a business. Retailers are sitting there going “Man, Marvel sure is putting out a lot of shit”, but in the same breath asking, “Why won’t anyone buy books from me?” Maybe stop badmouthing your product and find a way to hype it! Even if it’s a turd, polish that turd and sell it because that’s your JOB.

There’s another unique thing about the comic industry that people never really think about: comics are the only industry where the consumer knows the distributor and is trained to hate them – trained, mind you, BY retailers! If a shipment gets messed up at Toys R Us, nobody blames Lash Tamaron, ’cause they don’t even know they exist. No, they blame TRU. In comics, however, retailers have this special ability to pass the blame on to Diamond when it’s their own decisions that got them in jeopardy. Didn’t order enough copies of a book, it’s easy to just say “Oh, Diamond shorted us”. Customer might mutter a “Fucking Diamond”, and both parties just kind of shake their heads together at the distributor’s ineptitude.

I might sound like a Diamond apologist, and in many ways I am. Full disclosure: about ten years ago (wow, has it been that long?), I was a purchasing brand manager in the print division of Diamond. That’s a big fancy way to say that I killed a lot of dreams. No, seriously, and I’m not proud of that. If Dave has had a lifelong dream of seeing his name on a comic sold in stores, I’m the guy who would have to work with him to make it happen. The problem, though, is that Dave has created some derivative superhero comic, and consumers have no reason to support his $3.99 black and white book when Marvel and DC have full-color superheroes covered. But I’d get him into the Previews catalog that all retailers use to place their orders, and I’d let the market decide. Then, for a variety of reasons that probably deserve their own post, I’d end up having a very difficult discussion with him about 6 months later. Why? Because a lot of creators aren’t business people. And a lot of comic shop owners aren’t, either. The successful ones have found ways to survive, but it’s the dinosaurs who were sitting pretty during the 90s bubble that don’t know what to do with themselves now.

Now, that’s not to say that Diamond isn’t without problems. It is antiquated. The men running that part of the industry have been doing so for the past 30 years, so there’s not a ton of new blood. There are problems at the warehouse. Back when the main warehouse was in Memphis, there was a UPS center across the street that paid more. The UPS center, however, required you to have at least a year’s experience in a warehouse environment. And guess where they’d get that experience: Diamond. So, the main warehouse is filled with a bunch of novices trying to pad a resume for a better position. No shame in the game, but it’s to Diamond’s detriment. And let’s not forget the publishing cycle: Diamond advertises books that will be available for sale two months from now, with no returnable cushion. So, a retailer does have to take a gamble when it comes to ordering the next month’s books, before they even have this month’s books in hand. But here’s the kicker: Diamond is so ensnared in the distribution process that it couldn’t extract itself if it tried.

Another quick history lesson: about 20 years ago, Marvel bought a distributor called Heroes World, which turned out to be a terrible idea, but I guess it seemed right at the time. In a mad dash for survival, Diamond signed everyone else to exclusive contracts for distribution. This drove a lot of smaller distributors out of business, lessening competition. Then, to make matters worse, Marvel declared bankruptcy and came crawling back to Diamond. This made Diamond king of the hill as the result of a flurry of activity needed for survival. In the years since, people have longed for a competitor to Diamond, but it just ain’t gonna happen. It’s the WWE of comic distribution, and there isn’t really even a TNA waiting in the wings. It’s an unintended monopoly, but a monopoly all the same. But as much as people clamor for the death of Evil Diamond, no one has stopped to consider what would happen if they went away. It’s not going to mean freedom for all the publishers. No, THAT will be the death of the Direct Market, because no one is equipped to take its place. And even if they somehow managed to do so, then they’d eventually become just as hated as Diamond. After all, “You either die a hero…”

The medium needs change, and those fighting that are part of the problem. My friend James once said that comics are for children, and that’s true. I’ve always felt that there’s a 20-year lifespan on comic fandom. If you stick around longer than that, everything becomes Been There, Done That. After 20 years, it’s time to move on. Start repairing old cars, or take your Harley for a three-day cruise. Comics are for the young, but the problem is that the young want nothing to do with them. Oddly enough, though, it’s a bunch of middle-aged armchair quarterbacks who think they know what today’s youth would like. “Spider-Man should be the same as he was when I was growing up!” they yell. Let’s see, kid whose parents are dead, lives with his old aunt in Queens, and he’s late all the time? Hate to break it to ya, but that’s a Black kid. They just didn’t have the social clout to do that back then. If they turned Peter Parker into a Black guy now, those fans would lose their shit. “Why can’t Marvel create NEW characters?” Marvel, then, creates Miles Morales, and then they cry, “Why are you forcing diversity down our throats?!” Is the mere existence of a minority the equivalent of “forcing diversity” on you? Well, I’m sorry the sight of me offends your eyes, Mr. White Man! I just think it’s time for certain fans to go. They don’t like what the industry is doing, and the industry is starting to realize that it can’t survive on mutton alone. There’s no shame in knowing when to walk away.

Anyway, this is all to say that the greatest threat to the comic retailer IS the comic retailer. Stop being a victim, and buckle down. You made this bed so now lie in it. But I also don’t believe in these crowdfunding attempts to keep shops open. The market has spoken, and you’re really just delaying the inevitable. Some shops need to go. That’s nothing personal. It’s business, and they simply lived out their usefulness. The more resourceful shops, however, will find a way. At the end of the day, Superman and Wolverine will outlive the Direct Market, so retailers can gripe all they want, but Disney and Warner Bros are gonna make that money with OR without them. Retailers need Marvel and DC, regardless of the quality of the output, but Marvel and DC don’t necessarily need retailers. The sooner Direct Market retailers realize this, the sooner they can start planning for the future.

And that’s where the post originally ended. And then I saw that I’d received a reply on my comment at the original post (I removed his name ’cause it’s not like I asked his permission to post this or anything):

 

@Will
“I didn’t leave comics, comics left me.” Well, take that as a hint. Maybe the industry doesn’t want or need you anymore. Time to find new hobbies and pursuits!

No, that`s a terrible attitude to show contempt at long-time customers who helped build Marvel. These long time fans deserve better than that!
Also be careful what you wish for as Marvel`s sales are in the tank, and they might be begging for those old time fans back one day!

 

I saw this and figured it was just another middle-aged White man, mad about change. His biggest mistake is that line about showing contempt for the customers “who helped build Marvel”. So, I had to address that:

 

See, that’s dangerous thinking, because Marvel doesn’t really owe you anything. You’re approaching this like a shareholder, when that’s not the nature of the arrangement.

As for the old-time fans, they’re gone. Plain and simple. Sure, catering to them might lead SOME of them back, but not enough to really make them the focus. The old time fan wants too much in order to come back. DC did Rebirth, basically as a “We’re sorry for what we did”, and a bunch of fans still wanted them to kiss the ring and do a little humiliating dance. The thing to remember is that these companies don’t *owe* you anything, long-time fan or not.

 

And then he had to go and prove my assessment of him correct:

 

@Will.
The thing to remember is that these companies don’t *owe* you anything, long-time fan or not.

Maybe my friend,but let`s sticky this post because I predict in less than a year Marvel will do a 180 with all their SJW theme comics and will please their old-time fans by bringing back the old school style. Marvel is going to have to go back to basics to stop their ship from sinking. It`s all about money, and Marvel`s old time loyal fans have the deep pockets that the majority of cosplay SJW fans don`t seem to have.

 

Ugh, he had to go and use a term like SJW. You can tell a lot about a person when they’re worried about the perceived Social Justice Warriors. He’s just another stick in the mud, resistant to change. So, of course, I couldn’t let that go:

And you just had to go and torpedo your argument with “SJW” nonsense. The injection of diversity is an attempt to get the dollars they’re not already getting, from audiences they’ve previously ignored. That, my friend, is the future. Any industry propped up by the buying habits of middle aged White men is an industry in trouble (unless you make Cialis or Rogaine), and they’ve finally come to realize that. What’s gonna happen when you die? Are you still going to be rallying from the grave “Put White Spider-Man back in high school!” to an audience base that clear couldn’t give two shits? The Marvel you grew up with is fine, but it’s done. I just don’t get why fans can’t grow up in their expectations.

I won’t exactly call it a “mic drop”, but I really don’t know what’s left to say after that.

16th Dec2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 12/16/16

by Will

The biggest news of the week is probably the fact that Star Trek Discovery is finally getting somewhere, as they cast the lead role of the series. Sonequa Martin-Green, most recently of The Walking Dead, has been cast as Lt Commander Shaznay Jenkins. I totally made up that name, but she will be playing a lieutenant commander, as they felt there have been enough Trek properties that focused on captains. Surprisingly enough, she’s still keeping her job on The Walking Dead. Now, I wonder if that’s actually true, or if they just don’t want us thinking too hard about the fact that her character is probably gonna be zombie chow soon. In all honesty, though, it makes sense for her to keep that job, as the Trek gig is supposed to be a one-season story. If there even is a second season, it’s unlikely it would follow the same cast, as that was never the original intention (keep in mind, intentions may have changed now that Bryan Fuller is no longer attached to the show). Still, it’s basically January (which was the original launch month), and they’ve got to put this thing together by May, special effects and all? I totally wouldn’t be surprised if it gets postponed again. I mean, they already missed the 50th anniversary, so they might as well just say “Fuck it” and take their time. Anyway, I wonder how Black they’re gonna take her character. Like, will she be Girl Sisko, or will she be more subdued? I mean, Sisko was In-Tense unless he was playing baseball.

 In WTF? news this week, Wonder Woman was removed as a United Nations Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls – just TWO MONTHS after receiving the honor in the first place. It seems that some folks were upset that a fictional character got the honor when there are real women out there fighting the good fight. Also, they felt that she wasn’t “culturally encompassing” (Too White) and “overtly sexualized” (Too Damn Hot).  Apparently, the UN received a petition with more than 44,000 signatures asking for her removal, from inside and outside the organization. This is a tough one. On the one hand, she is a fictional character, so it probably is a slap in the face to some women out there. But on the other hand, this is what you wanna waste your petition power on? Plus, it should be pointed out that honorary ambassadors tend to be fictional characters, as goodwill ambassador is the role reserved for the living. Former honorary ambassadors include Tinkerbell (honorary ambassador of green) and Winnie the Pooh (honorary ambassador of friendship). The character was chosen due to her roots in feminism, but many felt that she didn’t embody the image that the UN should be putting forth to the world.

In other DC Comics news, there are reports that Margot Robbie is donning the Harley Quinn costume again for a Gotham City Sirens movie, directed by Suicide Squad‘s David Ayer. I actually really liked Robbie’s Harley, so I don’t mind this one bit. I was also a big fan of the Gotham City Sirens comic, which was a buddy team-up between Catwoman, Harley, and Poison Ivy. They weren’t quite villains, but weren’t heroes either. They were almost like a super Golden Girls, lending support to one another. Sadly, though, they’re saying that Megan Fox is lobbying for the role of Poison Ivy, and that’s not a good fit in my opinion. But this is a DC movie, where they’re not known for their smart decisions, so Fox will probably get the part.

I’ve written about how good Boom!’s Power Rangers comics are, and the Kimberly-centric Power Rangers: Pink is no exception. The comic focuses on Kimberly after she leaves the team to go train for the Pan Global Games, with Kat taking her place on the team. Well, when the French village where her parents live is attacked, and the residents are turned into fish monsters, she’s called back into action. The Power Rangers are off-world, so they can’t help her, but Zordon utilizes the Sword of Light from “The Power Transfer” to infuse Kimberly with his own power. As the threat gets more intense, she realizes she needs a team of her own, and she goes and seeks out fellow former Rangers Trini and Zack. They end up with these cool, redesigned almost black ops versions of their MMPR suits. As the story goes on, they recruit 2 French teens to round out the team. At the end of this week’s issue, however, they threw us all for a loop when it was revealed that Trini and Zack are now a couple. Now, I’ve never been a fan of “shipping”, but I guess I always assumed Trini and Billy had an unspoken love, since they were the two smart ones on the team. I can’t even remember Zack interacting with Trini on the show, but somehow this comic makes it seem plausible. I’m really enjoying how these books are playing with continuity, managing to make stories that still “matter” even if they aren’t part of the canon that we’ve come to know.

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • NBC announced that their Taken prequel series will premiere February 27th. I’d watch a Taken prequel film, with a digitally de-aged Liam Neeson, but I have no interest in a TV show. There are NO stakes, considering we know he lives to be featured in THREE movies!
  • Taran Killam will assume the role of King George III for Hamilton on Broadway. I think this is PERFECT casting! It’ll be like his Jebediah Atkinson character on comedic steroids.
  • Tarek and Christina El Moussa of HGTV’s Flip or Flop announced their separation, following a crazy incident last May where Tarek flipped out and ran into the woods with a gun. Christina is reportedly now dating one of their contractors. And they still expect the show to continue!
  • Patrick Wilson was cast as Ocean Master in the upcoming Aquaman film. I’d ask “Who?”, but I know who he is. I’m just not impressed.
  • While we still await the first broadcast cancellation of the Fall TV season, Netflix cancelled Marco Polo, and WGN America cancelled Salem. I don’t even know why WGN tried to get into original programming. Manhattan failed, Salem failed, and Underground‘s days are probably numbered, as I’ve never met anyone who’s watched it.
  • R.L. Stine will be writing Marvel’s Man-Thing. Aw shit, son! They gonna get Goosebumps on their Man-Thing?! Better get some cream for that!
  • TBS renewed recent West Week Ever recipient Search Party, as well as Wyatt Cenac’s People of Earth for second seasons.

It ain’t easy being Black in professional wrestling. It’s even harder to be THREE Black guys in professional wrestling. Yet, somehow, New Day has risen above it all, and this week they were heralded as the longest-reigning tag team champions in WWE history. The previous record was 478 days, set by Demolition members Ax and Smash, but that was also a different time. In a lot of ways, that’s what’s so conflicting for me. I mean, what does it really mean to hold a belt over a year in the rigged world of “sports entertainment”. Back when Demolition did it, we still kinda pretended the stuff was real, in an era of gimmicks and ring names. Now, the title is held by Kofi Kingston, Big E Langston and Xavier Woods – all names that would’ve been held by “jobbers” 30 years ago (for y’all not into wrestling, a jobber is the no-name guy who’d get into the ring with someone like Hulk Hogan in order to make Hogan look better. Now they’re referred to as “enhancement talent”. Sounds like the ability to make your penis grow at will or something, but I digress…). So, now that the curtain has been pulled back, and we know how the sausage is made, what does it truly mean for New Day to be the champions?

Some might say that this is a triumph for Blacks in wrestling and, in many ways, it is. I mean, Vinnie Mac doesn’t cotton to minorities too often, so the fact that he hasn’t stripped them of the title either means that there’s nobody in the locker room with the heat to do it, OR he actually believes in them. I’d like to think that he’s caught up with the times and that it’s the latter. Still, when the #BlackExcellence hashtag started circulating earlier this week in regards to New Day, it was proven that many fans aren’t as “progressive” as McMahon. The slurs and insults began to fly! But is anyone surprised? I mean, it’s still 2016, where everything is horrible.

I’ve seen New Day, and I can believe the hype. It’s really hard to hate those guys, as they just bring a certain energy to wrestling that wasn’t there before. I can’t explain the Booty O’s and the unicorn horns or any of that, as I’m a casual wrestling fan these days, but whatever they’re doing is working. I will say this, though: I find the whole “record” thing funny because how is it a streak if you’re not constantly defending your title? For example, I saw them at my first live wrestling experience a few months back, and they lost. But their title wasn’t on the line that night. How convenient. It doesn’t mean much if you can just pick and choose when the title is on the line. At least, that’s not how I would run MY wrestling promotion. I’d have hardcore rules on all the titles, so you could get a chair to the head while standing at a public urinal, and it would all be legal. But I can’t give away ALL of my million dollar ideas!

On top of breaking the streak, this week also saw the release of a beautiful 3-pack of WWE Elite figures of New Day from Mattel. Designed to look like a cereal box of Booty O’s, the whole package is amazing. The figure sculpts are great, and it’s a package so gorgeous that you won’t want to open it.

Yes, everything was coming up Milhouse for New Day this week, and that’s why they had the West Week Ever.

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