Category Archives: Snap *censored* Pop Culture

Fail Hydra

(Editors Note: A�We’ve reached the end of Secret Empire and, with it, comes my review of the overall event. A�I’ve already done at least 2 (maybe 3) reviews of the beginning and middle (so, I guess 2) and promised that when all was said and A�done, I’d be back for the big send off. A�Away we go…)

The Good: A�This was a good story. A�I remember when the event started that I wasn’t completely on board with the idea. A�It seemed to go against everything that the Captain America character has ever stood for. A�How are you going to make Captain America into a facist? A� I understand that comics maybe aren’t selling as well in the face of movies and television shows that provide the same entertainment value at a possibly reduced cost for the consumer. A�But, come on, there are some things that you just don’t do. A�Turning Captain America into Hydra is something that you just don’t do. A�There are numerous instances of him fighting facists. A�One of the most recognizable images in comic book history is Cap punching Hitler straight in the face. A�I’ve shared that very image on this page probably to prove a similar point.

And, if punching Nazis is wrong, I don’t ever want to be right. Give ’em hell, Cap.

I won’t say that I ever came to terms with Captain Hydra. A�However, this story did a decent to good job of explaining a situation that, for many (myself included), had no good explanation. A�Granted, they jumped through hoops and the suspension of disbelief was almost too much at times. A�Still, it got me back into reading and enjoying comics and that is the name of the game. A�Well played, Marvel. A�Well played.

Aside from all of that, the story was compelling. A�It followed a good, logical arc with plenty of all the good kinds of conflict that make me want to invest my time in the story. A�In fact, I became so invested in the story that I did what I told myself I wasn’t going to do and I bought all of the crossover issues for the event, too. A�The last time I fell for that trick was the first Civil War and some of those books just felt like filler. A�That wasn’t the case with this event. A�Every book, even the crossover books, told a piece of the story. A�When you put them all together, you get a well executed event.

The art, for the most part, was very good, too. A�In a previous review, I mentioned that one of the reasons I enjoyed Civil War was Steve McNiven’s art. A�He didn’t do all of the books, but there was only one or two that I didn’t care for the art because another one of my favorite artists, Leinil Yu filled in for a couple of issues.

The Bad: A�I already mentioned that there were a couple of issues that I didn’t like the art. A�Granted, in the issues that I didn’t care for the art, there was a reason to use that particular style. A�I understand that, but I just didn’t care for it. A�It took me out of the story and, for me, had the exact opposite of the intended effect.

By my understanding, the art is supposed to convey an otherworldly or dream feel. It does make sense as this is an alternate reality, so every once in a while, it was interesting to have the art break down into the gauzy and ephemeral which was a stark contrast to the hyperrealism of Steve McNiven. A�However, for me, it was a reminder that this was only temporary. A�Steve Rogers was not going to remain a Hydra agent and Marvel insisted that things weren’t just “going to magically go back to normal at the end” during the whole event.

The art isn’t bad. It’s just different. Normally, I wouldn’t have a problem with that, but it just didn’t fit well in my opinion.

I’ve recently heard rumors that initially, they meant for the Captain Hydra event to lead to another “Dark Reign” type storyline, at least temporarily. A�But, response to the change in Cap’s character was met with such resistance (probably the most out of any of the recent changes) that they had to figure out another way to wrap it all up. I don’t know about all of that, but I will say that another bad thing about this arc is that it got pretty dark in the middle. A�Granted, there were things happening in real life that probably exacerbated my feelings about Hydra ruling the country. A�But, I strongly considered not reading anymore.

The Ugly: A�Other than that middle “despair” arc of the story, the ending was not all that great. A�I think that we all agree that if they were going to end the story in this fashion that this was the only logical ending. A�Still, I’m a guy who likes a good ending and this one was just okay. A�It was what was supposed to happen and it happened.

So, why put this one in the ugly column? A�Well, it’s disappointing for one major reason. A�They said all along that this wasn’t going to be one of those stories where everything just gets fixed and we pretend that nothing happened after a few months. A�Before reading that, I was convinced that the cube would realize her mistake and work to fix what she broke. A�Then, I read that’s not how it would end and I was intrigued as to how they would end it. A�Chris suggested the old Dallas “it was just a dream” ridiculousness. A�While I didn’t have to make good on my threat and return all of the books that I bought if they actually went through with that, the ending was sort of along the lines of what I initially suspected. A�Okay, fine, but given everything that they said about it not being that ending, this deserves an ugly.

The Verdict: A�Similar to Civil War, this event will go down in history as bringing me back to comics. A�I didn’t enjoy this one as much as that one, but I did like the cohesiveness of this story with the crossover titles. A�So, this one might end up being more enduring and keep me in comics for at least the next year, if not more. A�Soon after Civil War ended, I found other things to spend my money on and quickly dropped comics.

Even though I complained to Chris about not having enough comics as the event wound down, I still found a way to spend almost 40 dollars this week. A�I’m back into comics in a big way. A�I have branched out from my almost 40 (well, with a few decades of breaks in between) year status as a Marvel zombie to read far more DC books that I’ve ever read. A�I have even picked up several independent books that aren’t Image while sticking with Spawn long enough to start to appreciate that book again. A�I have no idea what the future of comics holds but, I’m along for the ride no matter what.

Comics Round Up: World’s Greatest

(Editor’s Note: A�We postponed this edition of Comics Round Up to give me an opportuinity to actually read the latest Batman and first issue of Metal. A�As I said to Chris, I ration my books so that I have something to read the entire week. A�I could have moved the books up by a couple of days, but what are we if we aren’t true to ourselves?)

Aquaman

The Good: A�This is a well written and engaging story. A�I’ve never heard of the writer or the artist, but they work well together to bring this story to life.

The Bad: A�While the story is good, the narrative style is a bit dense. A�I’ve complained about Batman being a “talkie” recently and this book has action, but there are just so many words on some of the pages. A�It’s distracting.

The Ugly: A�Well, I’ve added another book to the monthly pull that I initially said that I was only going to experience in trades. A�DC knew exactly what they were doing with this Rebirth event. A�There are so many new jumping on points and all of the books are great. A�My wallet is going to suffer badly.

The Verdict: A�I had virtually no experience with Aquaman previous to his introduction in Batman vs. Superman. A�I’m sure that I watched the old Justice League cartoon and he might have even had cameos in others like Scooby Doo (?), but I was one of those guys who always derided him as the dude who can swim fast and talk to fish. A�This book has changed my tune completely. A�I like the “King is Dead, Long Live the King” story and they’ve done it in a way that makes it feel not quite so much of a retread. A�I might have to shelve it again after the conclusion of this story, but that’s only because my monthly comic budget is pushing 200 at this point.

Justice League

The Good: A�Another perfect jumping on point to get started with another comic book that I haven’t read before. A�This one even has an interesting premise.

The Bad: A�That premise doesn’t quite live up to my initial ideal. A�I know this next statement might seems strange as this is the “bad” section of this review. A�However, the story isn’t bad. A�It just seems very slow. A�The whole book is the set up for a story that honestly isn’t as interesting as I had hoped.

The Ugly: A�I don’t think that I want to keep reading this story. A�However, I’m not a quitter, either. A�I’ve started the arc and now I might just have to keep going, but I won’t be happy about it. A�Hopefully, it gets better. A�Otherwise, I’m going to be out about 20 bucks and it’s going to get ugly in here.

The Verdict: A�I was very excited to meet the “future children” of the Justice League. A�I also thought it was cool to see that future. A�However, the overall arc of the story and narrative was just too uneven. A�I will give it one more issue. A�After all, the Venomverse intro event had a similar feel and I got some enjoyment from sticking with it.

Mr. Miracle

The Good: A�Tom King is one of the best writers in comics today. A�His Batman has been as good as (and, blasphemy!, maybe even better than) Scott Snyder’s, but I can’t say that with confidence. A�I only know Snyder’s Batman from The New 52 and that was good, but it didn’t have me on the verge of applause as Tom King often does. A�This book was no different.

The Bad: A�As is rapidly becoming a theme, I arrived way too late at the Tom King party. A�Chris was much more versed in his work than I am, meaning that when we were discussing this book, he said that he liked both King’s Batman and his work with Vision, a book that I haven’t read. A�Still, art is supposed to be his thing and writing my thing, so it was a bit embarrassing.

The Ugly: A�That opening scene. A�My goodness! A�I know that it’s often good to go for shock value, but I’m becoming much more aware of these types of things since there are kids in the house. A�Aiden had a friend sleep over the other night and he grabbed a stack of comics. A�I had to stop him and he asked, “Oh, they’re not appropriate.” A�I had to admit that I hadn’t read them and I didn’t know if they were or not.

The Verdict: A�Initially, I didn’t care all that much about this title. A�It seemed interesting, but it wasn’t really something that ultimately grabbed my attention enough to buy it. A�For some reason that changed when I saw an ad in one of the DC books that connected it to Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday. A�I’m always a sucker for the origins of comics and the old guys. A�I’m glad that I followed Jack Kirby on this one. A�They steered me in the right direction. A�I’m hooked after only one issue and can’t wait to see what happens next. A�I might have to go back and read some Vision now.

Wonder Woman

The Good: A�This story has been decent and has continued the theme of Diana trying to balance the expectations of Wonder Woman with the fact that she is living with humans who can’t possibly understand her burden.

The Bad: A�The writing is not nearly as good as it was with Greg Rucka. A�I’m still interested in the story, but I’m not as engaged by the characters or the story. A�Maybe it will get better, but this might be one that gets cut for later reading as trades.

The Ugly: A�I’m majorly upset that it has come to this. A�I’m almost positive that my current comic budget is not sustainable, even if I am teaching 5 classes next semester, but this is one of the books that I was sure would survive the cut.

The Verdict: A�When we last left DC, Wonder Woman was one of my favorite comic books. A�Now that we’re back, things have changed a bit. A�The book is still decent, but it isn’t the same. A�Since I don’t have the same connection to the character, writer, or artist as some other books that I might give more of a chance, this might actually be the first book to go if I decide that my budget is getting out of control.

Batman

The Good: A�I’ve already fawned over Tom King in the Mr. Miracle review, so I won’t repeat myself here. A�However, this book is a prime example why he is such a great writer. A�He wrote an entire comic book around the premise that Bruce Wayne invited the two sides of the war to dinner and created a story that I couldn’t put down. A�Both the set up and the execution were perfect. A�Great book.

The Bad: A�I struggle to find anything wrong with this book. A�In the past, I said if I had to find a flaw, it would be that it was too much of a “talkie” and not enough action. A�I can’t even say that anymore. A�This book was just so well executed, even though there was absolutely no action, that I just don’t care.

The Ugly: A�I have no idea if this is the plan or not, but for a war between the Riddler and Joker, there has been surprisingly little action. A�If they are going to blow it out with one huge blowout finale, that’s exactly what it’s going to be. A�The streets of Gotham will run red with the blood of both armies. A�It’s going to be brutal.

The Verdict: A�Batman is still the best monthly book right now. A�I might be enjoying some of the event books just as much and maybe more, but this book is the best thing to happen to me every month when it comes to comics. A�The writing is fantastic. A�The art is amazing. A�The stories are engaging and entertaining. A�If, as I suspect is possible, we are in fact going through another golden age of comics, people will point to this book as one of the primary reasons why. A�Superman might get the headlines and Wonder Woman might grab the lady readers, but Batman is DC’s flagship title and they are absolutely doing right by it. A�Superb.

Dark Nights: A�Metal

The Good: A�Snyder and Capullo. A�Capullo and Snyder. A�The introductory books contained art from Jim Lee and JR JR, too, but this one is back to basics. A�While it was fun to see the influence of the other artists, less is definitely more here. A�Just two guys who are amazing at working together to make great comics doing just that. A�It’s still early to tell if the combination will continue to work, but previous experience and the pacing of this book suggest that it will.

The Bad: A�Scott Snyder is one of these “talkie” guys that are so prevalent in comics these days. A�I have no idea if he is one of the first, as I remember the push for the current state of comics coming in the 1990s with Brian Michael Bendis and his tendency to push narrative and dialogue over the usual super hero shenanigans of punching and kicking their way through a book. A�However, he fits in very well with that crowd and his books can get a bit tedious at times.

The Ugly: A�There are a ton of open threads in this story right now. A�Scott Snyder said himself in an interview that some of the references and stories come from his earlier Batman books and that he’s been dropping hints for years. A�This book does some to tie up a few of those threads, but it adds even more. A�I’d like to think that he can bring everything all together in a coherent and satisfying fashion, but I worry when stories get this spread out.

The Verdict: A�When I first saw the announcement of this series, I texted Chris with a picture of the talent and the simple message, “I’m going to end up going broke.” A�That was before: A�(a) I had even read an issue. A�Now that I have, I realize the size and scope of this event and realize that it is possibly on par with Secret Empire, if not bigger and (b) I saw that it was a cross over event. A�If Secret Empire has taught me anything, it’s that I buy every stupid book in the event. A�Given that the first issue already has me looking forward to what comes next and wondering how many books this might hook me into eventually buying on a weekly basis. A�Well played, DC. A�Well played, indeed.

Comic Round Up: The Little Guys

(Editor’s Note: A�We said something about plans in our previous article and how they easily go awry. A�We planned to do a Comic Round Up on Marvel next, so enjoy this article about few independent titles that I’ve (re)discovered since coming back to comic books again.)

It feels weird calling this article the “little guys” when I’m reviewing 2 Image books. A�I mean, they have some comics that have a definite “little engine that might” quality, but they also have the old gray mare in Spawn and the 900 lb. gorilla that is The Walking Dead. A�Still, they are considered independent, and with the rate I’m picking up titles, “the little guys” might soon outweigh even that 900 lb. gorilla, so I’m sticking with the title.

Chris and I were talking a few weeks (maybe a month) ago about our newly found interest in comics. A�I was still in my Wonder Woman trades only, Batman, and only books that had the Secret Empire flag on them phase. A�One of us mentioned that there were so many good books to read right now. A�If it was me who said that, I followed up with the following. A�If it was Chris, then it was my reply. A�In either case, I said, “I know, and I have barely even touched DC comics and haven’t even considered any of the independent books.”

Side note: A�I was still reading Spawn, a book that will be included in this independent book review. A�What can I say? A�I didn’t consider Spawn an independent book then and I’m changing my mind now to suit the theme. A�As if there’s no precedent for that around here.

Well, I’ve now ventured into the world of independent comics outside of Spawn and my poor budget is about to take even more of a hit. A�Similar to my adventures into both Marvel and DC, I have really enjoyed both of the new books that I’ve read and that will most likely lead to me spending more time with the independent rack. A�It’s either the best of times or the worst of times, too, as August promises to be light on volume each week due to the “extra” Wednesday. A�Oh well, more fodder for the next article!

When I picked up the latest issue of Spawn, the woman who owns the store that I’ve adopted as my LCS remarked something about a new Spawn in my pull.

Side Note: A�I’ve only started the pull, am not sure that I set it up the way that I wanted to get all of the issues I want, and am a little embarrassed by my “mainstream” tastes. A�The comic book store is in a very eclectic city and I always get the sense that the town itself is judging me for my comic book tastes.

Nonchalantly and trying not to let my embarrassment over my comic choices show, I replied, “Yeah, Spawn is a relic from my reckless youth.” A�It must have worked on some level because she chuckled and said, “Yeah, we all have those, don’t we.” A�Whew, crisis averted. A�She also continued the conversation by saying, “It’s about the art,” to which I nodded and then she continued, “and this cover is so cool.” A�That’s the cover up there and yes, it is cool.

As far as the story goes, it’s been a bit hit and miss. A�The first issue that I read felt very familiar as if it’s all been done before. A�I know that the book has been around for over 20 years, is about 2 years short of #300, and hasn’t experienced a full reboot or crisis in that time. A�So, it’s gotta be tough to keep coming up with new stories. A�Still, it was slightly disconcerting to come back to such a ho hum issue. A�I even considered just jettisoning Spawn to the trash bin of history. A�I did so with The Walking Dead and while I’ve recently considered a return, Chris talked me off of that ledge.

But, Spawn and I have history, Man. A�I was there from the beginning. A�I bought issue #1 off of the rack when it was released. A�I replaced the first 150 issues (because I threw them out during one of my moves) 20 years ago when I got back into comics again for the Civil War event. A�The Walking Dead was part of a phase. A�It was a college thing. A�I was curious, okay?! A�Spawn will have to get a lot worse for me to abandon the book completely. A�So far, that hasn’t happened. A�It’s actually steadily increased in quality as far as the writing goes. A�The latest arc, that’s starting with 276, isn’t great, but it’s good enough to keep me interested at least in the short run.

The Good – The art quality for this book has always been great and some amazing artists have worked on the book. A�That hasn’t changed. A�Todd McFarlane has an eye for what works visually on this book.

The Bad – The writing is uneven and was almost enough to turn me off from the book, but it has shown signs of improving.

The Ugly – I called Spawn the old grey mare. A�While she isn’t as long in the tooth as some of the Marvel or DC books (and they’ve even tried changing some of those books to loud and angry nerd shouts), but it is one of the longest running books not published by one of those two. A�It is showing it’s age.

The verdict: A�If you’re a fan, you know what you’re getting. A�If you’re not, there’s not really much here to recommend over some of the other books out there. A�I will say that if this current arc doesn’t pan out and I’m crunched for money, this will be the first book to go.

I was in line at the comic book store, waiting to pay for my latest haul of Secret Empire tie in books, when I overheard the guy in front of me talking to the owner of the store about Sam Kieth. A�I’ve already mentioned that I feel weird about not having as many “offbeat” comics in my reading list and Sam Kieth is as “offbeat” as they come. A�I’ve been a fan of his since discovering him during my first discovery of comic books as a teenager. A�Like Todd McFarlane, I wasn’t aware of Sam Kieth’s work with Marvel and DC. A�I found him through his Image book, The Maxx.

Side note: A�See, I used to be much more hip and with it. A�Image probably never was the “fringe” of comics, but it was alternative in a time when that word had a much more positive meaning. A�I suppose that I’m just getting safe in my old age, falling into patterns from my youth.

The Maxx was, and probably still is, my favorite comic book of all time. A�Like most Image books, it suffered from delays, but I always looked forward to every new issue. A�Also, like Spawn, I trashed my Maxx books, but bought the entire run again. A�Unlike Spawn, or any other book for that matter, all of the books are in a binder for safe keeping. A�I loved the weirdness of The Maxx and how it wasn’t typical comic book stuff. A�Now I might need to go back and read it again.

And, back to the present. A�After a casual conversation about the books in my hand, that ended with an awkward admission (as an attempt to gain some cred) by me that I thought Ultimates has been a really good book lately, I quickly changed the subject. A�”What’s Sam Kieth been up to?”The owner’s eye’s lit up, she mentioned the title, and took me over to the rack. A�Only issues 2 and 3 were available, but she said that she would try to get issue 1 for me. A�She was great about getting me issue #5 of Secret Empire, so I have no doubt that she will make good on it.

It might just be the bias of having read The Maxx, but similar themes run through Eleanor and the Egret. A�It is nowhere near a carbon copy of it, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t notice the similarities. A�Strong female protagonist accompanied by a non human ally. A�Weird creepy man in black. A�Flash backs (though in The Maxx, it was not always clear if they were flashbacks, flash forwards, or alternate realities) that serve to drive the story. A�Okay, so maybe there aren’t as many similarities as I thought and I’m just reaching here.

In any case, the book is very good. A�I don’t know the writer, but apparently he’s very well known for something that he did while I was away from comics. A�I will say that I’ve enjoyed this book so much that I might have to go back to read that series one of these days. A�Eleanor is not your typical comic book stuff, even more so than The Maxx wasn’t. A�It revolves around an artist turned art thief and her pet bird, who seem to have a bit of a bone to pick with another artist for some reason. A�They steal this other artist’s paintings and the bird eats them. A�I know. A�It sounds weird. A�And it is weird. A�In my opinion, it’s very good, too.

The Good: A�Sam Kieth’s art takes me back to the beginning and reminds me again why I love comic books. A�It isn’t always just about the beautiful photorealistic art. A�Sometimes, the fuzzy lines and muted colors work just as well, if not better.

The Bad: A�It’s not a book for everyone. A�If you are super hero only, avoid this book. A�There isn’t anything for you here.

The Ugly: A�As with any of these indy companies, I wonder how long they will last. A�I know that it isn’t the wild 1990s anymore, but I’d hate to get invested in a book only to see it killed due to low sales or delays.

This past week was light on the main books. A�There was no Secret Empire, only one or two tie ins, the Hulk generations book, and a new Batman. A�Instead of putting away the rest of my budget for next week, I started to wander through the independent titles. A�At first, I thought I might get suckered back into The Walking Dead, but the book just doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. A�I also found myself looking at Kirkman’s other book, Outcast. A�That looked really good, but I had already committed to my new obsession. A�Maybe next time.

While looking at the racks, I noticed the name “WARREN ELLIS” on one of the books. A�I know him best from his insane super hero book Nextwave: A�Agents of HATE followed shortly after by my discovery of his work on Thunderbolts at the same time. A�He was somewhat restricted by the characters in Thunderbolts. A�However, at that time, it was a book with completely bonkers Green Goblin, off his rocker Venom, nutso Penance and Bullseye, and slightly less crazy, but still perfect for Ellis’ off the wall writing style, Moonstone, Radioactive Man, Songbird, and Swordsman. A�He faced less resistance from the roster in Nextwave, as it was mostly 3rd and 4th tier characters that nobody ever heard of and he could be much crazier with them. A�I read his Thunderbolts, but I loved Nextwave and it put Warren Ellis on my must buy list.

While checking out, I remarked what a slow week it was for books and the owner replied, “Going to be that way all month because of the 5 Wednesdays. A�Need to spread it out.” A�I talked about picking up Injection to fill the void because of A�my undying love for Warren Ellis. A�She said that she loved the book, but it could get a little hard to follow because it is vintage Ellis. A�And, boy is it ever. A�If you thought I had a tough time explaining the plot of Eleanor, this one is beyond words.

The Good: A�Nextwave was Warren Ellis with minor restrictions. A�This is Warren Ellis with the gloves completely off. A�She said that it might be difficult to follow. A�I didn’t find that to be true, but the story is absolutely insane in the best way possible.

The Bad: A�I blew through the first two TPB volumes in no time at all. A�That leaves only 4 issues and then I think I have to wait until October for Issue #15. A�Bummer.

The Ugly: A�It took me until the end of Volume 2 to realize that he’s writing the series to focus each 5 issue story arc on one of the 5 main characters. A�I’m not sure how he will handle it if it goes beyond 25 issues, but that was a bit embarrassing.

Okay, I’ve branched out and bought a few other DC books. A�I’m now entrenched into two independent books. A�I’ve admitted to Chris that I may go hunting for the Dale Keown variant cover for the Hulk Generations book even though I already bought the main cover. A�I’m deep into comic books again and there isn’t much hope for me now.

Comics Wrap Up: DC

(Editor’s Note: A�I know that I have the good, bad, and ugly format for review articles. A�However, these comics articles are often going to cover several titles and that format might cause the articles to become so long as to be cumbersome to read. A�I’ll work the good, the bad, and the ugly into the articles somehow, but they won’t be the focal point.)

The title of this article is a bit misleading. A�Unlike Marvel, which has hooked me into buying multiple new books with their Secret Empire event, I’ve only read Batman and Wonder Woman from the DC Rebirth universe. A�That may change with the “Metal” event or as I become more adventurous and branch out into other titles. A�For now, though, enjoy my first edition of comic Wrap Up for Wonder Woman and Batman. A�Only two titles lets me test out some things and figure out what works and doesn’t.

Wonder Woman

Part of the reason that I haven’t gotten into more DC books is that I have been having trouble figuring out starting points for the books that are unfamiliar. A�Due to having grown up an unabashed Marvel zombie, most of the DC books are unfamiliar. A�I’ve always liked Batman, used that to get into Batman/Superman title of the early or mid 2000s, branched out from that into Superman for a very brief time, and not much else.

From the looks of things, Aquaman 25 appears to be a good starting point, so that might be the next DC title that I start collecting.

The new Wonder Woman movie led me to check out the comic book. A�Luckily, the 2nd volume of the trade came out during one of my visits to the store, so I picked it up. A�I found it strange that Volume 2 was titled “Year One” because I then had no idea what the story of the first book might be. A�Having never read any Wonder Woman before, though, I was thankful for the origin story.

After getting the first volume second, which actually made sense in the context of the two books, I did some research. A�I discovered that the writer was intertwining two stories concurrently during a particular story arc. A�As an example, the first 12 issues alternate between the year one origin story and another story where Diana is trying to find her way back to Themyscira. A�The odd issues tell one story and switched to the other for the even issues.

Because I bought the trades, I haven’t been able to experience how they worked together and if it enhanced the narrative at all. A�However, I’m a huge fan of alternative story telling methods. A�I recently watched Shimmer Lake and it was told in reverse. A�Hopefully, he keeps it up and I will be able to see if and how it affects the flow of the stories.

“The Lies” are leading the “The Truth”, which looks similar to a Buffy the Vampire Slayer storyline, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.

As far as the stories, they are of high quality. A�Having never read Wonder Woman, I only had the movie to give me any expectations. A�But the origin story moved quickly, set the scene and established characters. A�The other did the exact opposite and is serving to undermine the entire mythology. A�While they are antithetical and you might wonder why he’d immediately work so hard to destroy his creating, the stories oddly fit together. A�I see now how weaving them together A�heightens the drama and keeps the reader on edge. A�It is actually a brilliant strategy.

The Good: A�The stories are fantastic. A�They are well paced and complement one another and bring together what is an unorthodox story telling style that could have gone very badly.

The Bad: A�At least the first 2 arcs that I’ve read will be familiar to Wonder Woman fans. A�They might have switched some things up to modernize it a bit, but it is an origin story.

The Ugly: A�Infinite Crisis, The New 52, now Rebirth? A�Jesus, how many reboots do we need? A�At least they seem committed to this one for the long haul. A�Here’s hoping.

Batman

Unlike Wonder Woman, Batman has been a part of my life since I watched the old TV series with my father. A�I saw several Robins killed. A�Witnessed the Batman broken by Bane. A�Lived through watching the Tim Burton franchise lose all credibility when it grew “bat nipples”. A�Threw out an unenthusiastic “Meh” followed by a slightly less enthusiastic “this is fine” over the announcement and current reign of “Batfleck”. A�So, there’s little that they can do with the character that would surprise me.

So, even though I joined Batman around issue 23, I don’t have an incentive to fill in the first two dozen or so issues via trades. A�I will continue forward. A�If I have some left over some week in my comic budget (not likely), I will grab the trades and see if there’s anything new in the Bat’s history since Rebirth.

Remember when I said that not much could surprise me. Well, more on that in a bit.

As far as the story that I’ve read, I was wrong about there being no surprises. A�The first issue that I read involved a team up with Swamp Thing. A�While only a one off, it was so well written that it hooked me. A�Then, Batman (spoiler alert) proposed to Catwoman. A�Yeah, it’s a gimmick. A�But, holy crap, what a gimmick! A�Plus, the book is so well written with good pacing and dialogue that it doesn’t feel like a gimmick. A�Currently, they’re setting the stage for a huge arc with Joker and The Riddler. A�Chris has said a couple of times that this is his favorite book right now. A�I don’t know if I can say that unequivocally, but there aren’t many, if any books right now that I would put above it on my most anticipated every month.

The Good: A�Again, just good writing. A�Great story, characters are familiar.

The Bad: A�The pacing of the story is a bit odd. A�It’s a good story, but sometimes there’s a little bit too much talk and not enough action.

The Ugly: A�Oh man, that Catwoman thing has worked so far, but it could have been a book killer if they didn’t do it right.

Batman is great. A�Wonder Woman is great. A�For some reason, none of that has led me to explore other books. A�I grew up as a Marvel zombie, a Marvel zombie I remain, and some day I will die and rise from the grave as a true Marvel zombie. A�Secret Empire and the tie in issues have swallowed much of my comic budget. A�However, I’ve mentioned to Chris that the Trinity series looks intriguing and I might have to read some Justice League before the movie comes out in November.

Marvel’s Secret

(Editor’s Note: A�This secret is nothing like Victoria’s. A�Although, it wouldn’t surprise me at this point if Marvel did a series where it was revealed that a major male character wore ladies underwear.)

I’m not a huge presence on social media. A�Imagine my surprise then, when my feeds blew up a few months ago with the news that Captain America was a Nazi. A�First, if that seems incongruous, you are not alone. A�Along with many others, I took to Twitter (something I almost never do), to express my dismay at this development.

I also texted Chris about the news. A�We had our usual “old man” conversation about the state of comics. A�The stories aren’t as good! A�It’s a dying medium! A�They’ve run out of ideas and are just throwing things at the wall to see what sticks! A�This is a dumb idea to sell more comics and it will probably backfire!

And, yes, you damn kids better stay off my lawn!

Our old man sensibilities might have been right on for some of that, but we were dead wrong on the point that it might backfire. A�After reading the main comics, I went to the store to pick up some of the tie in issues. A�Well, during that trip, I discovered that a few of them were sold out. A�So, yeah, Marvel’s money making scheme has worked on more than just me. A�Know that I’m not the only sucker still out there made me feel a bit better.

Obligatory spoiler warning: A�Look, I don’t give 2 craps about spoilers, so this article will probably contain a buttload (an actual measurement by the way) of then. A�Let this be your lone warning.

I’m pretty sure that issue #0 is a reprint of a previous comic. A�Even if it is not, as a guy jumping in after almost 2 decades away, I was glad for the recap. A�Plus, it is well written and the art is by Steve McNiven, so it is top notch. A�It absolutely added to my enjoyment of the book. A�Some artists distract from the story by going over the top and others are just bad, but not him. A�I’ve always liked his work and I’m glad they put him on another major even book. A�I’m a bit bummed that they don’t have him working with Millar to recreate the Civil War magic, but Nick Spencer is doing well so far as writer.

No snarky comment. Just admiration of his talent.

So, what is this great story that made even you jump on board with the Captain America, Hydra Supreme angle? A�First, let’s all admit that we know that this isn’t going to last. A�There will be some conclusion to bring Cap back to his Nazi hating self. A�Sure, the even might finish with him in custody after Hydra surrenders or is otherwise defeated. A�However, it’s only a matter of time before ol’ Steve Rogers returns. A�In fact, it may have already happened.

Until they, they’ve given an outlandish, though not entirely implausible explanation for the transformation. A�Bear in mind that when I say “implausible”, we are talking about a universe in which Hulk ripped Wolverine into two pieces and the top half had to crawl to the top of a mountain to retrieve the bottom half. A�So, with that in mind, Red Skull apparently altered or recreated reality so that Captain America was raised from a young age as a Hydra agent. A�He was destined t become the Hydra Supreme and did so through a takeover of SHIELD and eventually the entire country.

His plan included isolating a group of heroes in space against a neverending attack from Chitauri drones. A�Another phase trapped a portion of Manhattan in a dark dimension. A�By the end of issue #1, he had moved into DC to capture the White House. A�I will say this about Hydra. A�They probably keep the trains running on time.

Okay, I admit. That was in poor taste. I’m sorry.

Issue #1 explored the resistance a bit by introducing a character that gets “saved” by them. A�There is also some development of the Cap character in that he is shown as little more than a figurehead as leader of Hydra. A�I will keep this part in suspense because it involves a death, but Steve isn’t able to “pull the trigger” so to speak.

While the resistance story is expected and predictable, I’m intrigued by the Captain America angle. A�In the past, Steve Rogers has been nothing if not committed to his values. A�Even during Civil War, he was willing to play the villain and split the super hero community over his opposition of the Registration Act. A�To see him conflicted to such a degree is both surprising and encouraging that some of the old Cap might be shining through the darkness.

This thread is tugged a bit harder in Issue #2. A�We see that, in fact, Captain America ultimately did not make the fateful decisions in issue #1. A�That fact weighs heavily on him and he feels a bit out of his element. A�Black Widow does what she does and attempts to set off on her own, but she is quickly joined by others and they set up a new team to fight against Hydra and take down Cap.

Surely, you know me well enough to know that was all just an excuse to show Scarlett Johansson.

The issue ends with a moment that literally had me say, “Oh ****” out loud and cement my interest in the story. A�I went from openly antagonistic to mildly interested in the main title to needing to buy all of the tie ins and read them, too. A�They aren’t crucal to your understanding, but they do fill in nicely. A�Plus, there aren’t a ton of them and the event is fairly short, so I don’t mind keeping up with them.

Look, I admit that I’m an easy mark. A�I can usually find some redeeming quality about most creative projects. A�But, this one is genuinely good. A�I can’t nor won’t necessarily recommend the tie ins unless you have the extra money. A�However, if you’re looking for a new series, getting back in after an extended break like me, or any other reason you might have, I say absolutely get the main series. A�You won’t be disappointed.

I am Groot!

(Editor’s Note: A�I won’t even bother to translate the title. A�It’s just another lame Dad joke that is becoming an unfortunate legacy of the page. )

I’ve been waiting for this movie since I saw the first one. A�Sure, Avengers, Dr. Strange, and Civil War are all cool, but my favorite book as a teenager was Guardians of the Galaxy. A�Unlike many of these endeavors, I also liked the reboot and introduction of new characters. A�Honestly, though, I was surprised that they made one movie for the Guardians. A�The book wasn’t exactly an A-list title. A�Moreover, not only have they made one film, but the sequel just released last week and before that one even came out, they announced a third. A�My obscure comic fan boy heart is bursting with joy.

This one became a family event. A�From the trailer, I knew it might be a bit dicey for the kids. A�Unlike Deadpool, though, they marketed this one right at their younger audience. Like I said to Chris, I don’t think our 6 year old is the intended demographic. A�But, you put a talking racoon and a baby tree creature in your movie and you get 6 year olds. A�So, I went the day before to scout and make sure that it wasn’t too inappropriate.

I am Groot? Yeah, I know little buddy. I can’t believe some of the language in the movie either!

Maybe I’m too lenient, but it passed my filter. A�Sure, there is some language that obviously scarred little Groot. A�The movie also has some “mature themes”, as Aiden calls them. A�He claims that he only knows what they are because he saw them on the video game label for Skyrim. A�However, I don’t know what “mature themes” there are in that game, so he might be trying to buffalo me. A�Either way, now that you know the potentially controversial topics, you can make your own decision. A�The movie is PG-13 after all. A�Now, on to the review!

The Good

At the risk of falling into too much of a pattern, I’m going to give this movie the same praise that I gave Power Rangers. A�The best thing I can say about it is that it is Guardians of the Galaxy. A�It takes what was great about the first one and improves almost all of it. A�I said to Chris that the first Avengers movie was still the gold standard of Marvel movies, but this one might be my new favorite. A�He remarked that Marvel movies often fall off from the original to the sequel. A�I replied that certainly was not the case with this movie.

This movie is funny. A�My cousin complained that they seemed to reach too hard for laughs. A�The first time that I watched it, I actually thought something similar. A�It was way over the top at times. A�Not necessarily that they reached, A�but that the movie was much funnier than the first. A�During my conversation with Chris, I said it felt like Marvel learned their lesson from handcuffing Joss Whedon in Avengers 2 and now let their directors just do their thing once they’ve proven themselves. A�So, while some might think he went overboard, I feel like it is in keeping with the absurdity of the characters.

I mean, honestly, look at this cast of characters. And, this doesn’t even include Howard the Duck.

Speaking of characters, in between the required humor and explosions there is an absurd amount of drama and character development. A�I remember when Ang Lee tried to bring the “feel of comics” to The Hulk movie–with decidedly mixed results and reviews–but this movie plays very much like the comics that I knew and loved back when comics weren’t so damn expensive. A�As an aside, though, I was attempting to sort my comics and it made me want to start collecting again. A�I might just have to troll eBay or Craigslist for cheap lots.

Now, back to the review. A�There is just so much good about this movie. A�If you are a fan, you will enjoy yourself. A�If you’re only watching because Marvel makes you watch movies like they make you buy comics during their mega crossover events, then it will be entertaining. A�I question if it is particularly informative in the context of Infinity War (which is strange since the Guardians are supposed to play a pivotal role), but at least you will know who these characters are if that rumor comes true. A�If you’ve already see the movie, go see it again. A�Trust me, it’s just as good the second time. A�Heck, I might even go see it one more time in the theaters because I enjoyed it so much.

Hey, I’m just as guilty of falling for the crossover. Secret Empire is part of the reason that I want to start collecting again.

TheA�Bad

This movie is not technically kid friendly. A�I already mentioned the swearing. A�Personally, I don’t much care about swearing because they’ve heard worse at home. A�Regarding the “mature themes”, the older boys are getting to the age when they will learn those things sooner rather than later. A�I mean, no questions resulted, so I get the feeling that one already knows and the other had them go right over his head. A�I know for a fact that the 6 year old missed them completely. A�He only cared about the parts with Baby Groot.

But, for real, that mother fricker is damn cute. But I don’t usually say fricker.

So, it’s a bit dicey. A�Especially if you are stricter about those topics than I am. A�It isn’t excessive, though, and you just have to make your own decision. A�I mean, you could always do what I did and watch it yourself to see if it is something that you can tolerate and handle. A�Don’t let that stopA�you from seeing the movie, though. A�Find a sitter and take the wife. A�Or, if your wife is lame like mine, leave the kids with her and see it yourself or with friends.

TheA�Ugly

Unlike Power Rangers, Marvel has had over a decade to find and walk that line between audiences for their movies. A�Plus, as I already mentioned, they have movies planned through at least 2019 and a third Guardians movie already announced. A�So, there’s no chance of one and done like I feared for Power Rangers.

But, I sort of painted myself into a corner with this new review format and now I’m stuck. A�I have to come up with an “ugly” section or risk exposing myself as a fraud. A�I guess the only ugly thing that I have to say about the movie is that I have to wait for the next one. A�Sure, we have Avengers, some great DC movies, and at least one Star Wars in the interim, but they’re not Guardians of the Galaxy. A�After this movie not only met, but vastly exceeded my expectations, I’m going to be through the roof for the third one.

The Verdict

This movie is awesome. A�Go see it. A�If you’ve already seen it. A�See it again. A�If you can’t wait for the third, watch the first one and then this one because 1+2=3. A�I’m out of words to express just how much I love this movie.

The Itch

Ah, comics…just the word brings back happy memories of sifting through bargain bins at a nearby sports card shop and of trudging every week to an office supply store in the center of town A�that inexplicably carried Marvel Comics. A�Ah, early 90’s, how I miss your $1.00 cover prices.

As I mentioned way back, maybe a couple of years ago, I had grown tired of my comic collection and decided to part ways with it via Craigslist. It seemed like digital comics were taking over and my comics were just sitting in boxes with just a few key Silver age issues on display in my man cave. To this day, it was one of the dumbest things I’ve done. A�It’s one thing to sell a collection of Modern age books, but it’s another thing to sell a collection of Silver age. Those, well..you don’t sell those. A�A few months ago, seemingly out of nowhere I got the itch. A�You know what I’m talking about; that itch so deeply rooted in your brain that the only way to scratch it is by running out of your house screaming like a lunatic and buying that game, comic, miniature, ..etc that you just have to have. A�For me, that itch was Tales of Suspense #81. It was my favorite cover from my old collection and I just had to own it again.

I figured that if I immersed myself in MTG and built some new decks, the comic bug would fade away. A�It did not however, instead it intensified becoming a nerdy tornado of materialism..I couldn’t stop thinking about comics. A�When I was at work, I was reading CBR.com and Newsarama.com articles. At night I would spend hours traveling through page after page at collectors-society.com, (You want to get hooked on comics? Go there. You’ve been warned.). Finally, in an effort to regain my sanity I logged onto eBay and found a copy of TOS #81 for $12 and bought it. No auction or “make an offer” bullcrap for me, I just bought that sucker. A�It was mine again.. that’s all I needed just that one issue…wait, what’s that? Tales to Astonish #91 with only a few seconds left?! Mine! House of Mystery #219?! For $6.00?! Mine! Oh man! I loved the McFarlane run on Amazing Spider-Man! Issue #318! Mine! It was a long night that night. I was exhausted the next morning at work but not as exhausted as my bank account.

A couple of days later, I found myself standing in Newbury comics with my better half, Caitlyn, eyeballing the newest issues on the shelf. I wasn’t sure I wanted to jump back into collecting new books just yet, but she convinced me to do so. She said that it makes me happy so it’s worth the inflated cover prices. A�She also made me proud by buying herself a Thor infinity scarf. A�It didn’t take much convincing for me to jump back in head first. After only a few minutes I had accrued about $40 worth of comics. A�Thankfully, it was a Monday evening and they have a BOGO sale on Mondays (you’re welcome, corporate guy at Newbury..could we get some swag?), so my wallet didn’t take a beating. A�Honestly, it was fun to buy comics again, I had never stopped reading them, but there is something about the hunt for that one issue, the interactions you have with fellow collectors, and of course the feeling of holding that book in your hand and not just viewing it on an iPad (iPad plug, Apple, send a couple our way). I also noticed that there is more of a diverse audience for them. Just by being in Newbury for 30 minutes, I saw men, women, kids, all flipping through comics. This is probably due to the emergence of comics in mainstream media via movies and tv shows. I think it’s fantastic that people are finally understanding that comics are not just for kids. A�Now if the publishers could just stop the reboot nonsense, we would be golden. As for me, I’m proud to say that I’m a collector again. A�My goal is to regain most of the Silver age issues I sold and build from there, maybe it’ll happen and maybe it won’t but regardless it’ll be fun to try.

 

 

Power Play

(Editor’s Note: A�TLDR: A�While not a perfect movie, or even a perfect representation of the franchise, this is a good movie and you should go support it so that they make more! I gotta have more Rangers!)

As I’m sure it is in many houses with boys, ours is a Power Rangers house. A�I don’t remember–and I don’t think–that Liam was a super fan. A�Aiden, on the other hand, loved the show from the first episode he watched. A�And Quinn is a super fan. A�He has watched parts of every season and will periodically rewatch parts of his favorite. A�He wore a Red Ranger costume around for the better part of a month a couple of years ago. A�He even wanted to wear the thing to go see the movie a few weeks ago.

That, of course, is why I’m writing the article. A�Christine mentioned that she wanted to take her dad to see the new Beauty and the Beast. A�As if by chance (and I”m realizing that there may not be any such thing as chance), I saw a trailer for the Power Rangers movie. A�It just made sense. A�She and her father can go to Beauty and the Beast and we go to see Power Rangers. A�With the plan hatched, all we had to do was bide our time.

MUAHAHAHAHA! Okay, I admit. As far as evil plans go, this one is pretty lame, but it is no less…evil.

The boys spent their time watching and rewatching old episodes on Netflix. A�I got into the fun because Twitch did a marathon leading up to the release of the movie. A�I also essentially put the trailer on a loop to hype myself even more. A�Hey, I’ll be the first to admit. A�I was excited to take the boys to see the movie, but I even said to Christine, “I think that this movie is just as much for me as it is for them. A�Maybe more.” A�I may be many things, but I’m not afraid to admit that I have never grown up. A�Have never and most likely will never.

The funny part about it is that I did not grow up watching Power Rangers like I did with some of my other childhood obsessions that have come back. A�I was a teenager when the first season released here in the states. A�I think that one of my brothers really liked the show and that might be how I got into it even though I wasn’t the primary demographic. A�Well, that and I had a crush on the pink ranger.

Who among us didn’t?

So, that’s how we ended up at the movie. A�The question begs, “Is it any good?” A�Well, that’s complicated. A�I know what you’re thinking. A�This is the guy who says he loves everything A�If he isn’t saying that it is unequivocally good, that’s a bad sign. A�Plus, it hasn’t exactly gotten the best reviews. A�Why should I see this movie?

Woah, woah, woah. A�Slow down there. A�First, yes i do like and can find the positive in almost anything. A�Also, I did not breathlessly state how great the movie is and that you should rush out and see it immediately. A�It is great and you should see it. Maybe not immediately, but soon and definitely in the theater. A�However, in an attempt to be taken more seriously as a critic and be more well balanced, I present a new format for reviews. A�While I will look and sound like a hypocrite and fraud after blasting Blizzard for doing this in many of my articles, I’m still going to call it “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”. A�It’s a format I used when I was writing for my Steelers web page many years ago. A�In spite of the possible repercussions, it was a good gag then and I think it will translate now.

Plus, this movie is 50 years old. Who on the internet has even seen it at this point?

The Good (Always start with the good to soften the bad)

The highest praise that I can give this movie is that it’s Power Rangers. A�I mean, it’s not classic Power Rangers, but I understand that they couldn’t take the cheesy effects and bad acting, slap some shiny power armor on it, and charge upwards of 15-20 bucks per ticket. A�So, if you’re expecting the putty noise or Bulk and Skull shenanigans, you’re going to be disappointed. A�On a quick side not, I was disappointed that Bulk and Skull didn’t at least get a small part in the movie.

Other than that, though, this is Power Rangers. A�There is comedy that made both me and the boys laugh out loud more than once. A�There is legitimate drama. A�Of course, there’s action an dfight scenes. A�I’ve seen one or two complaints of not enough Power Rangers in this Power Rangers movie. A�That’s always the potential risk in origin stories like this. A�And, make no mistake, this movie introduces the characters. A�They are based on the originals, but they mostly have new stories to be told. A�Heck, there’s even Rita, Goldar, Zordon, and Alpha 5. A�It’s Power Rangers.

Did I forget to mention the Megazord? How could I forget the Megazord?

The Bad

The criticism that I’ve heard most often and the one that I agree with the most is that the movie struggles to find its audience. A�It is only natural that a franchise that has been around for so long and has fans from 5 to at least 41 ifi you consider only our family demographics), you need to thread the needle a bit to try to give everyone what they want. A�In that regard, the movie suffers a bit from trying to do it all and almost doing nothing instead. A�Almost. A�There are a few sour notes, but overall, Power Rangers walks the tight rope successfully. A�Yay, mixed metaphor!

In addition, these comic book movies have a certain feel to them. A�Ever since Sam Raimi helped to revive the genre with Spider-Man all those years ago and Christopher Nolan Batman movies added their momentum, comic book movie have been HUGE! A�Some live up and add to the hype (re: Avengers/Infinity story). A�Others stall a bit and don’t quite reach their potential (re: A�Batman vs. Superman). A�More still have been determined not to be able to sustain a movie franchise and instead are TV shows (Flash, Luke Cage, etc.) and a few have fizzled completely. A�It is my hope that the fans of Power Rangers will be able to buoy the franchise against the tide of criticism enough to allow it to find that sweet spot that this movie only just missed.

For instance, they could have cut down on the “learning to be Power Rangers” story a bit. Although, the “death of Billy (spoiler alert)” was really cool and took me by surprise.

The Ugly

I genuinely liked this movie, so this section most likely won’t be very long. A�But, I do want to expand a bit on that last point. A�Making movies, like sports, has become such a big business that there is little room for failure. A�This attitude pervades much of our society, but especially where there is money involved. A�Teams, studios, and fans can be brutal when assessing what is success. A�Sports fans, especially, are quick to define anything less than a championship as utter failure.

As I say, Power Rangers is being met with mixed reactions. A�I was actually surprised to see that the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low. A�Now, I’m not one to be swayed by critics, but perhaps borderline new fans might be. A�I just hope that not too many are turned off by the perceived negative reviews and give the movie a chance. A�It had a decent opening, so all of this worry may be for nothing. A�Then again, it has stalled some, so…*fingers crossed*

Also, and this gives me more hope (hey, start with the good and leave with good), this might be the type of movie that gains a following on DVD/Blu Ray/Streaming. A�Those on the fence might just wait until then because it is less of an investment and find that they disagree with the critics, love the film, and go see the second one in the theaters. A�Because I definitely want more. A�If they don’t happen, though, I’m glad to have had this one to share with my kids.

I mean, there has to be at least one more movie because they post credit scened us with Tommy’s jacket.

Dr. Strange Love

(Editor’s Note: A�This was supposed to be a review of Logan. A�However, as is becoming an all too familiar theme in my life, being an adult stinks. A�So, instead of using my break to do things I wanted to do, I spent it doing things I have to do.)

All things considered, I suppose that I should consider myself lucky that I had 99% of this vacation to do with as I please. A�I used it to rearrange my new Magic cards. A�I applied my time and energy to make 2 Generations gaming into a functioning entity again. A�My wife and I even got to have a date night.

Still, I’m a bit bummed to realize that today is already Sunday and I was not able to see Logan or join a Modern Masters draft. A�Truth be told (and why would I lie?), I’m actually more upset about the draft. A�I mean, I’ve had a week or so to hype myself about Logan. A�However, talking to Chris, taking out my cards, and remembering the fun times I had with previous drafts on xMage have me wanting to try the real thing. A�Then again, and this might just be me out of practice, I tried a draft on xMage for this set and it did not feel like a good draft set to me. A�Maybe it is better as sealed. A�Maybe it is just a “draft a bomb and profit” set. A�Who knows? A�All I know is that I was having a difficult time finding the synergies in the cards. A�Perhaps more testing is needed.

I felt like I was being pushed into 3 colors. Maybe, from the above card, that’s intended. Maybe it’s a trap!

But, this article isn’t about Magic. A�I know that it won’t be the latest and greatest, but perhaps I can revisit this in May when we do our show on Magic. A�Now, I want to talk about Dr. Strange. A�Naturally, this may lead to side conversations about other movies this year. A�However, as this seems to be the year of DC with regards to movies, I will most likely be able to stay on target. A�Also, I really liked this movie.

I get the feeling that was not a common assessment. A�I have not heard overwhelming hate against it like I did Batman vs. Superman, but it was a quirky movie. A�As a kid, I always liked the lesser celebrated heroes. A�Sure, I collected Spidey and Hulk, but I also had Guardians, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Dr. Strange in my collection. A�This has followed me into adulthood in two ways. A�First, I’m infinitely more excited about those franchises coming out this year than Spidey. A�Some of that might be Spidey fatigue. A�The second aspect of my legacy of obscure super heroes lives on in Aiden. A�He loves Iron Fish and Flash is his absolute favorite book. A�But, there will be time to talk about that in November.

Now is the time for Dr. Strange and one of my main man crushes.

The movie hooked me with the casting of Sherlock heartthrob Benedict Cumberbatch. A�One of my favorite actors playing one of my favorite characters? A�Sign me up! A�I never got to see it in the theater for the same reason that I wasn’t able to see Logan. A�Okay, that’s not entirely true. A�I could have taken the boys to see this one. A�Maybe it was just a lack of time and money that kept me from this one.

Whatever the case, I wish that I had seen this one on the big screen. A�It’s rare that I say that about a movie these days. A�With HD wide screen TVs and surround sound, the theater experience is relicated quite easily with only 1.50 from RedBox. A�But, the special effects are the best that I’ve seen from a Marvel movie. A�I never saw inception. A�I know. A�accuse me of yet another geek crime and bring me before the tribunal already. A�However, from what I’ve seen of the Inception trailer, the visual style of Dr. Strange is very similar. A�Maybe I will finally see the movie and strike one of my crimes from the record.

There was only one part where the effects took me out of the fantasy of the movie. A�When the ancient one takes Strange on his tour of the multiverse, some of the efffects looked wonky. A�But, it was brief and the rest of the movie was so entertaining that I put the minor glitch behind me.

This is the part that looked most fake to me. Right after this when he went flying off into the distance. It wasn’t terrible, but it definitely looked like it was at the end of the production schedule and they rushed it.

That was the other thing that stood out to me about Dr. Strange. A�It was funny. A�I mentioned Batman vs. Superman earlier A�and the hate that it received. A�I didn’t agree with much of it, but DC is definitely missing the point by making their movies so dark. A�They got too much into the *Batman voice* “dark and gritty realism” that they forgot how much fun these stories can be. A�Like all of the Marvel movies, Dr. Strange made me chuckle several times and laugh out loud more than once. A�I have always been a Marvel zombie, but that added humor is why I prefer the Marvel movies to DC. A�They have gotten better. A�Aiden has been watching the Flash TV show. A�Between that and some of the trailers that I’ve seen, DC is slowly bringing more humor into their franchises. A�One big complaint about Batman vs. Superman was Batfleck, but perhaps his introduction into the universe will end up being a net positive. A�We shall see.

Before you think this is universal praise, there was one aspect of the movie that worried me and it wasn’t necessarily a fault of the movie. A�How’s that for some double speak? A�Comic book audiences have been trained for the big action and explosions. A�I know that Dr. Strange exists in that world, but he’s not so much about the punchy/kicky as he is about the hocus pocus. A�Would people think the movie is boring? A�Again, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was very entertained by the action present. A�There was plenty of punchy/kicky in the form of martial arts and there was even some explosions during the finale.

Heck, the punchy/kicky even added hocus pocus to the mix.

Above all of this, though, my favorite part of the movie did not involve punchy/kicky. A�Instead, Dr. Strange used some major hocus/pocus to defeat Dormammu and save the world. A�For those of you even lamer than I am, I won’t give away any more than that, but it is definitely worth the wait and does the character justice. A�If you’re a fan of Dr. Strange, you won’t be disappointed.

This movie didn’t surpass the first Avengers as my favorite Marvel movie. A�I’m not even sure if it cracks the top 5. A�However, it is probably the most entertaining comic book movie I’ve watched in the past year. A�If you are in the mood for a good time with great effects and more or less faithful to the source material (if that’s your thing), then you definitely want to see this movie.

 

Completely Ignorant NFL Conference Championship Edition

(Editor’s Note: A�Well, those of you waiting for us to fall of the wagon, get your Nelson Muntz “Ha ha” finger pointing and “told you so”s out of the way. A�We have some football games to get wrong!)

NFC Conference Championship

The Falcons destroyed the Seahawks in a game that I was actually grateful to get wrong last week. A�I’m already sick of the Seachickens and their budding cross conference rivalry with the Patsies. A�Aaron Rodgers’ team won in the closing seconds against the Pokes and set up a dream matchup for me, even though I had the exact opposite teams in my picks. A�This is probably the hardest game for me to pick. A�I’m leaning Atlanta because they are playing at home, Matt Ryan is the pick for MVP because the other players in the running are either a rookie or missed 4 games for various reasons, and it is just a more fun story for the Falcons to finally make it to the Super Bowl. A�However, Aaron Rodgers’ team is hot right now, just knocked off one of the leading contenders to win the Super Bowl in their home, and I don’t know if you heard, but they have Aaron Rodgers on their team. A�I am genuinely split on this one, but I will take the Falcons in a high scoring affair, 35-30.

AFC Conference Championship

I was deathly afraid of the Chefs last week and it turns out that there was some basis for that fear. A�The Steelers squeaked out a win over the Chefs with one of the oddest football scores I’ve seen in a while. A�They didn’t look overly impressive in the game, only managed field goals as scores, and gave me no reason to be positive going into this week’s game against the Pats. A�I didn’t see the Pats beat the Texans as the only game that I got right last week, but I heard that they weren’t that impressive even though they won by such a large margin. A�As a Steelers fan, I feel like I’ve seen this same stupid game against the Patriots five times before and it always ends in a 34-14 score. A�I have no reason to believe that this time will be any different, so there you have it.

The Super Bowl, which will again be shunned in favor of the annual Lucas-Mullen film festival is going to be the Patriots against the Falcons. A�Look for our hastily written preview only hours before the game.