Category Archives: Hobbies

Marvel Comics August 2019

Introduction

I think I wrote in my last article that it was going to be the final one written in that format. So, i present to you my review of Marvel Comics for August 2019. The comics are actually from last month, but that’s more recent than the first reviews. So, as I’ve said a few times, unless I get famous and they start sending me reviewer copies, this is as recent as I get.

I’ve also reconfigured “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”. I still have 3 categories, but I’ve renamed them. If you’ve been reading this whole time, you know why. If not, allow me to explain quickly. I’m sure this will be a standard note at the top of future articles.

I’m a reviewer who tries to find the good in creative things. You might think this is dishonest. Sometimes people think that positive reviews are simply to get in good with companies for free stuff. While I wouldn’t turn down free stuff, that’s not my motive. I’m a frustrated self-published writer, so I try to encourage creativity whenever possible.

The Great (I Have a Feeling These May Not Change Much)

Amazing Spider-Man #25 and 26 (Zeb Wells, Keaton Patti, Nick Spencer, Kev Walker, Humberto Ramos, Ryan Ottley, Todd Nauck): I was worried that the book might suffer after what was a really good story in “Hunted”. However, the follow up story has been excellent, as well. I wasn’t too sure about Mysterio because it felt like cross promotion in the worst way. I’m glad to be wrong. The Mysterio story has been interesting. Also, they are introducing (? They’re new to me) the Sinister She Six and MJ’s and Spidey’s relationship are no longer on the rocks. All in all, a solid book.

Venom#16 (Donnie Cates and Juan Gedeon): This has probably been my second favorite ongoing Marvel book behind the new Hulk. They have done a slight retcon on the origin of the suit. Again, I’m not positive about that. However, that retcon has added a bit of a horror element to the book that is appealing. Plus, the “new” Venom with the dichotomy of Lethal Protector is awesome as far as I’m concerned.

The Immortal Hulk #20 and 21 (Al Ewing and Joe Bennett): Truth be told, this book is the main reason that I decided to rework the format of reviews for the page. I couldn’t ever think of a bad thing to say about the book, let alone ugly. Like I texted to Chris, this and Justice League Dark have just been solid books since the relaunches and I don’t think there has been a bad issue with these teams. Keep up the great work.

The Good (Avengers and Dead Mutants)

Uncanny X-Men 21 and 22 (Matthew Rosenberg and Salvador Larroca): Chris and I were texting about books that we have been enjoying lately and I mentioned this one was getting good again. He replied, “I might be wrong, but I thought they killed it.” FFS, sure enough, he’s right. Well, add this one to the pile with Weapon X of books that died right as they were getting good.

Avengers #21 (Jason Aaron and Jason Masters): I haven’t enjoyed the Avengers comic book as much as I have the movies. I will say that I’ve enjoyed Tony Stark in the Avengers book more than his solo book. But, more on that later. This issue was some clean up from War of the Realms. This is the first “event” that I didn’t read in quite some time, but Chris said it wasn’t that good, so I’m glad I missed it. With that being said, this issue was a bit slow, but it was a nice set up for what’s to come.

The Decent (This Would Make for an Odd Team Up Issue)

The Punisher #13 (Matthew Rosenberg and Szymon Kudranski): I have never been a huge fan of the Punisher. Oh, sure, when I was a teenager, he and Deadpool were the anti heroes that I needed. Now, however, it’s just more of the same. I will say that I enjoyed the part where the Punisher took it to the cops that thought he was doing right. An interesting take on current events.

Thor #15 (Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo): I texted Chris after reading this issue to say that War of Realms seemed like an overly complicated way to get Mjolnir back to Thor. Sure, that’s a big deal and all, but did they really need to do a whole event? I got the idea just from this issue. Oh well, what’s done is done.

Tony Stark, Iron Man #14 (Dan Slott, Jim Zub, Valerio Schiti): Tony Stark by himself is insufferable. I don’t mind him in the Avengers book, but I just can’t stand this version of Tony Stark. I do like the story of him not being sure if he’s real or not, but I don’t know how long they can keep it going.

Doctor Strange #16 (Mark Waid, Barry Kitson, and Scott Koblish): Normally I am a fan of both Doctor Strange and Mark Waid. However, this issue just fell a bit flat for me. It revolves around a Pyrrhic victory. Or, is it a Faustian bargain? Either way, the issue was fine, but doesn’t make me want to keep reading.

The Verdict (Overall Marvel Comics August 2019 was a good month)

I was going to do a “Forgettables” section, too, with Absolute Carnage. I obviously haven’t read it yet, but I’m not a fan of just retelling the same stories over and over again. That’s why I’m glad that recent reboots have gone out of their way to not have origin stories. Also, hopefully the reboots are done for a while.

But, I digress. I then learned that the Venom team was going to work on Absolute Carnage and that changed my mind. As mentioned above, I enjoy the Venom book very much. So, I will at least give Absolute Carnage the old 2 issue try to see if they can capture that same magic.

As far as Marvel Comics August 2019, these books overall were entertaining. The last four in the decent category have been uneven overall, but I have enjoyed them all on some level. Many of the books I’m reading seem to be getting cut from the lineup, so what i fear is that I’m no longer the target audience. Don’t ever grow up, kids. It’s a trap.

DC Comics Week of 6/16/19 Review

Introduction (DC Comics Week of 6/16/19)

Note: These aren’t actually DC Comics from the week of 6/16/19. This is just when I finally got around to reading them and writing up my review.

I haven’t been as good as I had hoped about updating the page again, but that is to be expected. Still, I’ve been better than in the past, so that’s progress. And, please, bear with me. I actually do have a plan to get things rolling and keep this page relevant (or at least not dead) for the foreseeable future. Now, without any more delay, my DC Comics review for the week of 6/16/19.

Aquaman #48 (“Mother Shark”)

The Good (The King Returns?)

I enjoyed the beginning of the Rebirth Aquaman series. They went with a “the king is dead, long live the king” story that gave Arthur amnesia. I’m sure that they’ve done it before. I haven’t read Aquaman regularly, so it was new to me. But, it was handled well and got me to be a regular reader of the series. Even now that they are giving him back some memories, I’m still in on the character and would like to see where this all ends up.

The Bad (Did they rip off the movie?)

The whole Mother Shark angle is pretty fresh in my mind since we just watched the movie a few weeks ago. It wasn’t great, but by DC standards, it was one of the better movies. Nevertheless, this isn’t a movie review. Still, is this Mother Shark thing a part of the Aquaman mythos or are they trying to piggy back off the success of the film?

The Ugly (Do Do Do Do Do)

I got the song stuck in my head. What song, you ask?

Action Comics 1009 and 1011 (“Leviathan”)

The Good (This isn’t Doomsday Part 2)

I was a bit worried that Leviathan was going to end up being some big, dumb super powered villain on a mission to kill Superman, a la Doomsday. I should have known that BMB would try his hardest not to be that hacky, but he is pretty busy right now. It was a pleasant surprise that Leviathan was not just your run of the mill idiot.

The Bad (This story is a bit confusing)

I mean, there is at least one issue missing and I haven’t read any of the lead in issues, either. So, this is probably my fault. I say that a lot in these reviews, which isn’t exactly awe inspiring. However, I am reading the books more regularly for the reviews, so this is one of the last times.

The Ugly (I kind of wish this was Doomsday Part 2)

It’s not that the story is bad. It’s just a bit convoluted right now. I will probably go back to reread it and see if I can’t a better handle on what exactly is going on. Admittedly, I wasn’t fully invested in the book as I read it. Therefore, it’s kind of ugly that I wanted this to just be a big, dumb ugly and not the nuanced story that BMB is offering.

Justice League #19-24 (6th Dimension)

The Good (This Story is Compelling)

This is going to sound weird along with the bad and the ugly for this book, but this story is compelling. I found myself enjoying it in spite of the warts. Scott Snyder has always been one of my favorite comic book writers. I was a little worried about how he’d do on a multi character title, but he has performed well so far on Justice League.

The Bad (Source Wall? Meh…)

Chris has been a bit down on DC Comics lately. He was one of the first ones I heard say that maybe Tom King’s handling of Batman was losing some steam. More on that in the next section. He also was not impressed with all of the source wall stuff as he called it. I might have been a bit poisoned by that comment, but I agree that it is all a bit too much at this point.

The Ugly (Another Reboot?)

I don’t think they are planning another reboot so soon. It’s not out of the question. Marvel rebooted 3 or 4 times in about that many years a few years ago. But, I feel like the companies have learned from that lesson and wouldn’t be doing so again so soon after what has been a pretty successful one. Still, this feels like a reboot.

Batman #70 and 71 (Bane)

The Good (This Story starts awesome)

So, Tom King is off of the Batman title as of 85 if I remember correctly. As I said earlier, Chris has been a bit out on King for a few months, but I didn’t think it had gotten that bad. I do remember texting him when this book first got announced that it looked like King might be redeeming himself some and he has. This story is good so far.

The Bad (The Narrative Structure is Wonky)

I found myself having to reread issue 71 a few times over and I’m still not entirely sure what is going on. I’m usually a fan of that type of back and forth narrative, but this time it was just strained. I’m saying that a lot of these stories are confusing. Maybe I just have summer brain.

The Ugly (Things got Ugly between King and DC)

Even with people (including Chris) piling on Tom King, it still came as a rather abrupt surprise that he’s not going to be writing the comic anymore. It has been over 70 issues and companies tend to rotate talent sooner than that, but still, things seemed to be humming. The most likely scenario that I saw is that he was going to have Batman kill someone and someone higher up got squeamish about it.

The Verdict (As of 6/16/19, DC Comics are still in good shape)

In my previous reviews (here, here, and here), I had very good things to say about DC Comics. I come here today not to bury them, but to praise them still. They can’t stay on top forever and it is the nature of the comics business for the two big companies to leap frog one another as the big boy. But, for now, I’d still rather read most of the DC books than most of the Marvel books. The gap is closing and my favorite book is a Marvel book. Immortal Hulk for those scoring at home. Look for more on Friday when I post my Marvel review for the week. See you then!

Detective Comics 1000 Review

Introduction

Okay, this is more like it. Detective Comics 1000. Surely after reading and enjoying Action Comics so much, I am going to love Detective Comics 1000. After all, Batman has always been one of my favorite comic book characters. Plus, there is a lot of crossover as far as writers between the two issues. Well, not so fast.

After reading it, I texted Chris that surprisingly I didn’t like it as much. I will get more into it with the individual story reviews. Overall, though, it just wasn’t as enjoyable experience as reading Action Comics 1000. Read on to find out why.

“Batman’s Longest Case” by Scott Snyder

Wait, they are starting with Snyder? That feels like a bold choice. I mean, I know you want to start strong, but one of the best and longest tenured Batman writers in recent history? This book is going to be great. (Narrator: The book wasn’t great. It was good. But, not great.) The big deal about this story was that the twist actually surprised me. That doesn’t happen often. A good start.

“Manufacture for Use” by Kevin Smith

I wrote “puns” and should have known. I’m not sure if this means that I should have expected puns from Kevin Smith or I should have expected some plot device because of the puns. I suspect that it is the former. This was a great story and the ending gave me goosebumps. Nice. 2 for 2.

“The Legend of Knute Brody” by Paul Dini

I actually liked this story from Paul Dini more than his Action Comics story. That’s not a surprise since he is known for writing Batman. Still, this was a funny story. I liked the idea of the family masquerading as an inept henchman to foil the plans of the villains. Clever.

“The Batman’s Design” by Warren Ellis

This story wasn’t vintage Ellis, but it was a good story. I enjoyed the way Batman psyched out the enemy. It was vintage for the character and one of the things that I most enjoy about Batman.

“Return to Crime Alley” by Denny O’Neill

This is Batman’s defining story, but it is told in a very different way. It was cool to see the bat judged for what he does and has been doing. He doesn’t kill people, but he is still very dark and welcomes others into that darkness.

“Heretic” by Christopher Priest

All I wrote here was “Meh. Tibet.” This is perhaps my least favorite part of the Batman mythos. I know it explains much and fills in some of the details of the character, but it is just tedious at times.

“I Know” by Brian Michael Bendis

A “last” meeting between Penguin and “Bats” (well, an older and supposedly invalid Bruce Wayne. Penguin tells Bruce that he always knew and could have ended it at any time. Bruce pulls one last one over on the old man by showing that he isn’t invalid. This was a cool concept and well done.

“The Last Crime in Gotham” by Geoff Johns

Bat’s birthday seems like a much more solemn occasion than was Superman’s. His wish is all our wish. Well, my wish for him. That he gets to stop being Batman and live his life.

“The Precedent” by James Tynion IV

This is a cool origin of Robin story. Very well done. I’m going to miss Tynion on this title. I enjoyed his run. At least I still have him on Justice League Dark.

“Batman’s Greatest Case” by Tom King

This isn’t his best effort. I can see what Chris means when he says that maybe King needs a break from the main title. DC agrees. Not that Chris gave them his input, but they’ve taken King off of the title. Still, it was okay and there was a great spread of the whole family.

“Medieval” by Peter Tomasi

I’m not a huge fan of Tomasi. I texted Chris when he mentioned something about the story that I wasn’t sure how Tomasi would do. He said that he’s liked it. I enjoyed this intro of him on the title similar to how I liked Bendis getting introduced in Action Comics. I’m definitely sold and I will read the main story now.

The Verdict (Detective Comics is good but not fun)

I talked in the opening paragraph about how Detective Comics 1000 wasn’t as enjoyable as Action Comics 1000. Then I spent 11 paragraphs talking about how good the stories were. Isn’t it enjoyable to have good stories? Well, technically, yes. That part of the book was enjoyable.

However, I feel like the dark and brooding Batman has been done. Maybe I’m just getting older and I want more fun from my stories. I can’t do the dark as much as anymore. Heck, even The Lego Movie made fun of Batman being emo. There’s room for fun and laughs in the Batman universe. Or, maybe not. Comic book nerds can be an unyielding group. Oh well, I think a little less grumpiness could go a long way.

Action Comics 1000 Review

Introduction

I was never a fan of Superman. Okay, that’s not true. I liked the Christopher Reeves movies, but you’d have to not be human to not enjoy those movies. They are just good fun. But, I never read the comics other than Death of Superman and a couple months of the Reign of Supermen. If ever there was a candidate to miss the epic issue of Action Comics 1000, it would have been me.

I hated the Zack Snyder interpretation of Superman. Could not stand a single one of those movies. Okay, that’s sort of a lie. Did Snyder do Batman vs. Superman? Because I sort of hate like that movie. What’s my point? I’m not sure at this point. Maybe I’m reiterating that Action Comics 1000 wasn’t on my radar and I could have easily missed it.

I didn’t. Not only am I a collector in addition to reader, but I had heard that Bendis was moving from Marvel to write for Superman and was curious to see his take on the character. I did enjoy Man of Steel, but I haven’t read any of his more recent stuff. And, catching up on comics and the web page, I figured now was as good as any to read Action Comics 1000. Continue for my review.

Note: I will forego the good, bad, and ugly for this particular review. This issue is a who’s who of comic book writers and all of the stories are good.

“From the City Who Has Everything” by Dan Jurgens

This is a good old fashioned feel good Superman story framed in a different light. It is set up as an “Appreciation Day” for Superman. There is both the suspicion that something larger is at play and also the event turns out to be an elaborate stage for a former henchman to tell how Superman helped him turn his life around. A solid start.

“Never Ending Battle” by Peter J. Tomasi

This story was fine. The ending was good with a nod to Krypto at the very end. Otherwise, it was some time travel (?) nonsense that was an interesting way to look back at the history of the character. Definitely not one of my favorites.

“An Enemy Within” by Marv Wolfman

This one tells the story of a school held hostage by a principal who is being mind controlled. Underlying is another classic Superman motif. We are all heroes. This was a good story, but the school hostage situation hit a bit too close to home for me.

“The Car” by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner

Not to toot my own horn or mention myself in the company of such great writers, but this one is like one of my “what if” or “beyond the scenes” stories that I like to write. An example that I’ve published on the page is Tales from Marvel Civil War: I Am Spider-Man.

“The Fifth Season” by Scott Snyder

All right, here we go. One of my favorite writers tackling one of my least favorite characters. Snyder does a superb job. The interaction between Lex and Superman has always been one of my favorite things from the book and he does a great job of capturing that. I think this might have been my favorite story.

“Of Tomorrow” by Tom King

I’m not sure if it still fashionable to like Tom King, but I absolutely do. I haven’t read some of his recent stuff and Chris says it isn’t as good, so maybe I will change my mind. But, he is a thoughtful and thought-provoking writer who isn’t afraid to take chances. He does so with Superman facing down the end of Earth to say good-bye to his parents. Solid concept and good execution.

“Five Minutes” by Louise Simonson

I have only written fine here in my notes. I guess it was. The story was fine. Superman is Clark Kent and he’s fast.

“Actionland!” by Paul Dini

Paul Dini is better known for Batman and The Animated Series. I’m not sure if he introduced Harley or reinvented her. If only someone would invent that repository of information so that I could be able to research these topics. Regardless, the story was fun, but I got definite Harley/Joker vibes from the story. I guess you write what you know.

“Faster than a Speeding Bullet” by Brad Meltzer

That’s literally what the story is about. That’s what I wrote here in my notes. “Faster than a Speeding Bullet”. It’s an okay story to illustrate that and gives a little bit of suspense, but ultimately it’s just that.

“The Truth” by Brian Michael Bendis

Here we have the introduction of Brian Michael Bendis and his retconning of the destruction of Krypton. I’ll give the guy one thing. He has some balls to come in and rewrite Superman’s history first thing. And, sure, the story is interesting, but I’ve already read it, so I didn’t exactly catch the hype train from this one.

The Verdict

I’m still not a huge fan of Superman. I’ve been reading the DC Giants and Brian Michael Bendis books, but the character is just too much for me. As a teen, I was more into the anti-hero like Spawn or the weird book like The Maxx. As I’ve grown, I want my heroes to be a bit more complex. Spawn gets to be too anti for me and Superman is too wholesome. But, I did enjoy the stories in this book for the most part and if, like me, you avoided it for months, now is a good time to head out and get the book.

Comics Books: How Marvel is Killing the Industry One Gimmick at a Time

For the last few months, I’ve been in denial. In denial of the slow decline of comics. There, I said it: Comics are declining. Shawn had texted me a couple of times in the past saying as much once he left the hobby behind. I didn’t want to believe it, and in those cases agreed with his observations but not necessarily that the entire industry was in trouble. After all, DC Comics was still putting out quality books. Well folks, the industry is in trouble. DC Comics is still chugging along producing really great stuff (Batman, Batman: White Knight, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Dark Nights Metal), but Marvel Comics has stopped pulling its weight.

If you remember it was only last August that Marvel announced their “Legacy” initiative after Secret Empire concluded, which was essentially just a fancy term for going back to original numbering on their line of books and “bringing the fun back to comics”.

I gritted my teeth and said, “Ok, it feels like a reboot-ish thing but I’ll try a few titles out.”

I fell under the spell of the Lenticular covers, fully aware that it felt all too familiar. It felt like the same mistakes that were made back in ’96, when the industry essentially collapsed and Marvel declared bankruptcy. Gimmick covers, reboots, character deaths,..etc, it turned off both the casual reader and the collector. Cripes, I still remember standing in line just to pick up Superman #75 because it was the end of Superman. At that point we were not yet conditioned to the fact that a death isn’t a death in comics. A little while later after enduring the painfully crappy “Funeral for a Friend” crossover and the god-awful Four Supermen crossover, Superman was alive and well and the industry was, well, not.

So what happened this fall? Marvel puts out their fancy little covers and we all flock to buy them. Wrong. We actually didn’t all run out and buy them. I mean, I did because I’m an idiot but a majority of people realized that a cover doesn’t matter. It’s what’s between the covers that matters. And what was between those covers was of the same quality that existed before Legacy, and that quality wasn’t great in comparison to what DC was putting out. Sure, there were a few good storylines, but as a whole Marvel was in trouble.

One of their most talented writers, Brian Michael Bendis, decided to jump ship and joined the competition. He later revealed that Marvel tried to convince him to stay by offering him a Deadpool or Wolverine book. Typical Marvel. This brings me to my next point: riding the hype wave of a popular character until people stop caring. How many Deadpool books can they pump out? Again, sins of the past..Do you remember how many Wolverine books were around in the 90’s? How many cameos he had in other books? It was mind-boggling. Deadpool is being treated the same way. You can’t base an entire company off of one frickin’ character. I’ll be honest with you, DC is starting to fall into the same trap with Batman. Since Scott Snyder wrote the hell out of the “New 52” series and sold a ton of books, there has been a real focus on Bats in the DC Universe. Are the books good? Absolutely. Just yesterday, I told Shawn to give White Knight a try. However this doesn’t mean that every month there should be a new Bats series, and its starting to be that way. DC just released Brave and Bold: Batman & The Wonder Woman #1 as well as Batman: Sins of the Father #1. That’s two new titles in the same month. So while DC is putting out better quality, I do get worried that they will fall into the same traps that Marvel has.

One thing they haven’t done is raise their cover prices, which in the end is what most people care about. They even lowered the price on their Dark Nights Metal books once they saw that the sales were so great for the first two one-shots a dollar. Maybe it’s just me but that shows that they listen to and appreciate their audience. I read an interview with Marvel chief Joe Quesada where he takes the exact opposite approach and defends the $4-$5 cover prices essentially saying that the fans have enjoyed underpriced books for too long and Marvel charges what they think the creativity in their books is really worth. My guess is that he feels untouchable because Marvel Studios is an absolute juggernaut in the box office, and soundly kicks the bajeezus out of DC. Fun fact: Did you know that Black Panther has already surpassed Justice League in total domestic sales in its first week?! So while, Quesada might feel untouchable in that aspect of the business, he, unfortunately for him, only runs the comic side. The lesson that is being learned as we speak is that movie viewers do not turn into comic readers.

So how does Marvel try to remedy this problem? By rebooting. Over and over again. Y’know to give any new readers a “jumping on point”. So in May, coincidentally when Avengers: Infinity War is due to release, Marvel is going to, yup, reboot again! All that Legacy “bringing the fun back to comics” stuff? Gone! Long-term readers? Eh, go screw! I don’t understand the mentality of this decision. Do they really think that because a gazillion Avengers tickets will be sold that it will translate into a gazillion issues of Avengers #1 being sold? What happens when the second Avengers: Infinity War flick is released? Another reboot? This logic alienates current readers in order to possibly attract new ones, which obviously hasn’t worked.

They are calling this upcoming reboot their “Fresh Start” initiative. (Shakes head)

After many conversations with Shawn combined with the points I’ve made above, I believe that your buddies at 2 Guys has a solution to save the industry, or at the very least, save Marvel Comics.

-Drop cover prices to $2.99 to be even with DC. Your books currently suffer from low quality writing and art, so the excuse of us having to pay for their creative value holds no water.
-For the love of ****ing God stop rebooting.
-Hire some new talent, get some unknown pencillers, some unknown writers, colorists,..etc, who knows? You might discover the next Scott Snyder or David Finch.
-No more Lenticular covers, no more shiny covers, hell, I wouldn’t be sad to see variants go away in general.
-No more cheap gimmicks like mish-mashing ****ing characters like “Weapon H” or “Red Goblin”. Do we really need another Wolverine-like character? No. No, we don’t.

Well, that’s my two cents as far as the comic industry goes, agree? Disagree? Let me know. I think that one thing we can all agree on as comic fans is that our hobby needs to be protected from cash grabby schemes and we deserve better than what Marvel is selling us. DC? Well you’re doing fine, but watch those Bat books and the foil covers, we’ve got our eyes on you….

Rapid Fire!..Random Thoughts 2/19

-To buy a box of M25 or not? I wish the spoilers were flowing a little more freely since the boxes are below $200 at the moment and while the thought of possibly pulling a Jace, the Mind Sculptor out of a pack is dancing in my head, ita��s not quite enough to make me jump and preorder. My prediction for the big ticket cards in the set: Enemy fetches, Tarmogoyf, Aether Vial, Liliana of the Veil, Wurmcoil Engine, Force of Will, Mana Drain and Crucible of the Worlds.

-The first DLC characters for Dragonball FighterZ have been announced; Borly and Bardoc. Bardoc is Gokua��s pops so ita��s essentially another Saiyan which is a little disappointing. While I have gushed uncontrollably about the game, I do wish they would bring in some more non-Saiyan characters. On the other hand Borly should be the largest character in the game so ita��ll be interesting to see how powerful the character actually is.

-A Japanese bike company (Khodaa-Bloom) designed a really cool Megaman themed bike. It can be yours for the low, low price of $2700 USD. For that price, it better come with a friggina�� Buster Shot on the front.

-Not sure where Ia��ve been, but somehow I missed the fact that Gamestop managed to swing a deal to have a Secret of Mana remake for the PS4 be a Gamestop exclusive. Interesting to see if this becomes a thing, (i.e. Target gets exclusive games, Walmart gets exclusive games,..).

-Only 59 more days until God of War 4 is released. But whoa��s counting?

-For all of my Star Wars fans out there, you can preorder the largest Star Wars toy that Hasbro has ever made, Jabbaa��s Sail Barge, for a mere $499.99! This monstrosity is 4 feet long, a little over a foot wide, and a 1 A? feet tall, and comes with either divorce papers or a letter from your child expressing their undying love and gratitude. There is a catch, Hasbro will only start production if they get 5,000 preorders by 4/3 (currently, as of this post, they have 1,259 orders). You can place your preorder at www.hasbrolab.com.

-Finally, I want to thank everyone who follows us on Twitter and/or Instagram!

On Trains and Childhood

Introduction

I’ve talked on my One Guy Outdoors page recently about how much tradition means to me and our family.A� We aren’t bound by traditions, necessarily.A� It’s just that when we find something that we enjoy doing, we tend to put it into a routine that becomes tradition from year to year.A� One of those traditions is the Hobby Railroad Show at the Big E.A� I don’t remember how we discovered it.A� It was definitely during Liam’s Thomas phase.A� Looking for something to do with a train obsessed preschooler during the long and gray months of December and January, we stumbled on the train show.A� It didn’t hurt that it was near my birthday and I don’t often ask for anything for my birthday.

Those first years we went as a family.A� It was even as recently as maybe 3 or 4 years ago that all five of us took the trip.A� Last year or the year before, it was just the boys and I.A� This year, the only one that was able to make the trip with me was Aiden.A� Christine made plans for Quinn to do a “Cookies and Canvas” event put on by their school’s PTO.A� Originally, Aiden was supposed to join him, but he backed out.A� She suggested that he come along with me to the train show since I was a bit upset that it looked like we might not make it this year.A� To my surprise, he said that he’d rather do that.

Journal

I started to hedge a bit this morning, saying things like that I didn’t want to pay $20 for two people to go since we used to pay $30 for 5 people to go and trying to push Aiden to go to the Cookies and Canvas.A� He held steadfast that he didn’t want to go and wanted to go to the train show.A� I finally relented as part of my newly found attitude of saying “yes, and…” when faced with a decision like that. A�I’m glad that I did.

It started in the car ride. A�When it is just me and one of the boys, I try to find podcasts that they will enjoy, too. A�Aiden is a pop culture freak and he likes all of the current music, so I could have gotten away with the radio. A�I, on the other hand, abhor most of today’s music, so I compromised with the podcasts again. A�I chose the “Playing with Science” episode about soccer and the leftovers of an “Only a Game” episode about Gene Mingo, a football player that I had never know before hearing the episode.

He was only slightly interested in the soccer episode, but it was mainly because he was reading a book. A�He did laugh a few times. A�However, the Gene Mingo episode hooked him and he flipped off the radio when they reported on Mingo’s accidental shooting of his wife. A�We talked about guns and the drugs that led to the accident. A�It was a good talk.

After the episode, he agreed that it was compelling. A�I told him how I like that show because it isn’t like most of sports media. A�Chris told me that he was going to go off on sports media in his latest articleA�and he didn’t hold back. A�While Chris has a valid point about WEEI, ESPN, and much of sports media these days, that wasn’t exactly my point when talking to Aiden. A�I only listen to two podcasts that qualify as sports, “Only A Game” and “Hang Up and Listen.” A�”Hang Up” occasionally gets into the regular stories of the day, but they often give a fresh take. A�”Only a Game” more regularly goes off the beaten track and tells compelling stories that I’d have never heard otherwise. A�I like that. A�Much like the Patriots, sports media just bores me. A�I’m glad that Aiden was able to enjoy the show, too.

Aside from the ride, it was nice to have one on one time with Aiden. A�I don’t know when the last time that happened. A�As the boys get older, they become busier with friends and activities and it becomes more difficult to spend any time with them, never mind hours of uninterrupted time. A�It was time that he volunteered, at the sake of spending time with his friends, and that makes it even more valuable. A�Aside from that, it brought us together with a common interest.

This surprised me. A�Aiden is a “cool kid” in the purest sense of the word. A�He wants the latest sneakers, listens exclusively to popular music, wants to be with the in crowd. A�I never expected that he would be the kid who became the one most interested in model railroads. A�But, here we are. A�He said that he really wanted a train set and even had plans for where he would put it. A�In talking with Christine, I wondered out loud if it might end up being a Paddington 2 scenario where he eventually gets too cool for them and we’ll be left holding all of these expensive train cars. A�But, she said that he asked for one for Christmas last year, but waited until the last minute to do so.

He will grow out of them eventually. A�He may come back to them after he’s done with his teenage years and when he has kids of his own. A�But, and this goes along with why I went to the train show with him even though I wasn’t feeling it initially, he is interested now. A�I want to seize upon that interest and have something that we can have together. A�Something that will let us hold on to his rapidly dwindling time as a kid for just a little while longer.

Well, that got a bit heavy there. A�Sorry. A�The show itself was fun and informative. A�As soon as we walked into the first building, Aiden started looking at trains and I mentioned how they weren’t very expensive. A�The guy at the booth started talking to us about the different kinds of trains. A�I suspect that they don’t get much interaction from people outside of the community. A�Other than kids who just want to see the trains, when someone comes in and shows a serious effort to enter the hobby, they go out of their way to explain things and welcome them. A�We would do well to learn from that attitude, fellow nerds.

For the rest of the show, I was looking at various types of trains to figure out which one I want to get to let him try his hand at building. A�Another couple of people made us feel very welcome and answered our questions. A�We ended, as always, and as you may suspect, at a Lego display. A�I wondered aloud if they still made the powered Lego trains. A�He confirmed that they did, so that might be where we start.

Epilogue

I don’t know the last time that Aiden and I had one on one time that wasn’t interrupted by technology. A�It was an experience that I won’t soon forget and hopefully it had the same effect on him. A�As I stated earlier, you have kids and they are initially with you 24/7. A�They get older and go off to school, meet other people, and get other interests. A�You never know when that mythical “Cats in the Cradle” moment might happen, but you know it’s coming.

I’d like to put it off for as long as humanly possible. A�We have plans to go to at least one hockey game over the next two weeks before the season ends. A�I might just splurge and get tickets to both games because they have a buy one get on free deal going on now. A�I think Christine might have gotten it via email because she bought the tickets. A�A bit surprisingly (but perhaps not because it was Saturday night and college students have better things to do), the game wasn’t very well attended, so they’re pulling out all of the stops to get people to come.

Well, I’ll take advantage of their misfortune and get some time with Aiden as well. A�People tend to only take a look at those around them during times of tragedy. A�The Facebook posts “Hold your kids extra tight tonight and tell them you love them” only come after a terrorist attack or tragic fire. A�I don’t understand why you wouldn’t do those things each and every night. A�We only have a limited amount of time and don’t know when it’s up. A�Tell the people you love them every single day and just do the damn thing.