Category Archives: Snap *censored* Pop Culture

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.

My Completely Ignorant 2017 NFL Divisional Round Picks

(Note: A�Some of you might point out that this is the second time we’ve been late on a publishing deadline. A�Some of you might not have known that until I just pointed it out. A�Well, yes, this is our second time and we promised not to make it a habit. A�But, in our defense, once is a mistake, twice is a coincidence. A�So, we have one more chance to prove ourselves.)

CFP Chamionship Game Recap

We expanded our sports related ignorance into college football earlier in the week when we picked the Championship Game. A�We really wanted to be the ones that went out on a limb and pick Clemson. A�However, the recent rise of authoritarianism and hard line politics across the world scared us off. A�If ever there was a right time for an evil empire to squash a plucky band of rebels, this is the time. A�Then again, if I had thought about it a bit more, it seems as if sports has been immune to this phenomenon and feel good stories abound. Perhaps I was too hasty in my flippant assessment that sports can cure society’s ills. A�Maybe I can explore that another day. A�For today, I was not only wrong about the game, but I was wrong about betting the under with my fake dime. A�I guess I need to be a little less ignorant about things before writing articles about them.

NFL Divisional RoundA�

Then again, I was 3-1 in my coin flip picks last weekend and I basically just troll picked the Giants for all of my Patriots fans. A�I didn’t see the Packers blowing out the Giants, but they’ve been hot recently and I thought they’d win. A� Therefore, I was more or less 4-0 with an asterisk. A�In the interest of time, and to avoid any further asterisks, I will forgo the usual nonsense and just make my picks.

The Picks: A�Pats, Chefs, Pokes, and SeaChickens. A�See you next week for the Conference Championships.

Last Minute (But No Less Ignorant) CFP Preview

(Editor’s Note: A�We may be last minute on this preview, but we promise that it won’t be any less ignorant than our NFL coverage. A�Plus, this is 4 articles that we’re on deadline for and that’s gotta be some kind of record!)

In spite of the fact that I tried to swear off football, I have a friend that has become a bro date for much of the college football season. A�Like many of you, we had a bit of a falling out at the end of last year. A�I will spare you the details, but I’m sure you can fill in the blanks. A�It’s only relevant because of the college football playoff championship game tonight. A�Relax, I’m not going to talk about the healing power of sports. A�We just want to expand our influence this year and I figured college football would be the easiest since I’ve watched so much over the last few years.

Granted, it was sports that finally broke the ice again. A�He texted me about some daily fantasy contest he got entered into for winning his season long fantasy league. A�I got a similar invitation last year, but I bombed out of the daily contest and I haven’t tried since. A�I barely tolerate the week to week tinkering. A�I could never draft a new team and keep track of them weekly.

But, I digress. A�the point is that apparently football, not time, heals all wounds. A�At least, college football does. A�The NFL is mediocre at best and usually just boring. A�Yet another reason not to play daily fantasy football. A�Egad, my digressing has led to another digression. A�Stop me before I digress again!

Okay, enough of that stupidity. A�Notice that I did say “that”. A�If that’s your thing, relax. A�I’m sure there will be plenty of other stupidity. A�Before that happens, though, let’s see if we can’t approximate some serious analysis. A�After all, if we’re known for anything around here, it is taking silly games seriously.

Clemson

I have, inexplicably, been a fan of Clemson since I starting paying attention to college football in high school. A�I have no specific ties to the school or state. A�Heck, I spent the first few months thinking they were in California or Nevada because their stadium is in Death Valley. A�Maybe it was a color scheme thing that attracted me.

I do know that part of the reason I started following “the U” was their color scheme. A�Since there are so many colleges in the country, it offers a wider variety of colors, mascots, and uniforms. A�The internet was still a few years from being widely available to the public, so UniWatch wasn’t a thing. A�Damn, another missed opportunity. A�Oh, well.

Also, Under Armour wasn’t yet a thing, so uniforms hadn’t gone Oregon bananas yet. A�All he budding uniform nerds had was the occasional Hurricane “mascot” or weird orange based color scheme. A�Miami had the added bonus of having started to push the envelope a bit with their uniforms by changing up the block numbers to a more sleek design and adding stripes to their jerseys. A�I may be remembering this wrong and giving them more credit for being more pioneering than they actually were.

That was the other reason that teenage me found a kinship with Miami. A�They had personality. A�They had swagger. A�They had cocaine fueled parties with guns and other questionably legal activities. A�Okay, maybe that last one wasn’t great. A�But, the rest of it spoke to a renegade spirit that tried my hardest to rebel against the rebel my father claimed could not be done. A�Turns out, in many cases, that was true. A�But, I still had Miami.

So, what does any of this have to do with Clemson? A�Who knows? A�What does any of my ramblings have to do with anything? A�Well, I don’t remember Clemson being overly swagtastic, so it must have just been the orange and purple. A�Hey, who knows what lights up the pleasure center in a teenage boy’s brain. A�I mean, other than the obvious.

Whatever the reason, fandom of both Miami and Clemson have paid off recently. A�With the team of the college of my birth city (Pitt, to put it more simply) moving to the ACC, I can now claim both schools as home conference schools. A�While Miami has only flirted with their former greatness, Clemson has been consistently at the top of the polls for the past few years.

So, what does Clemson bring to the game? A�Clemson isn’t quite the machine of Alabama. A�Other than a loss against Pitt, they had close games against Troy and NC State. A�The game against the Wolfpack even went into overtime. A�But, they did win them and 9 others and the ACC championship to impress the committee enough for a number 3 ranking.

Well, they absolutely destroyed Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl to advance. A�They only lost that one game (to my wildly inconsistent Panthers, I feel compelled to mention again) all season, have a Heisman trophy candidate at quarterback, 6 All Americans on offense, 2 on defense, and are all orange for the game. A�Hey, as we’ve seen, uniforms matter.

Alabama

I’ve also been a big fan of Alabama. A�Hey, cut and paste that for future blackmail. A�Taken in context, it is damning enough. A�Taken out of context and I might lose my dirty stinking hippie liberal membership. A�Oh well, that’s a chance I will have to take to make my art.

After my explanation of my fandom of Clemson and Miami, it might even be more inexplicable why I’d be drawn to a team like Alabama. A�They are the team of solid color uniforms, always block numbers, tradition, jerk coaches, run oriented offenses, and everything antithetical to what Miami represented at the time. A�I even rooted for them in the Sugar Bowl against Miami in 1993. A�Hey, what can I say, I’m a complicated individual.

I will say that I’m no longer a fan of Alabama and it is only for one of those reasons above. A�Well, more accurately, I’m a fan of Alabama as a college football team. A�I am not a fan of Nick Saban as a college football coach. A�During this time when it felt like progressive ideas were taking over society and even starting to seep into the cathedral of college football, Nick Saban represents the old school methods that just need to go extinct already. A�That they still work so well represents an anathema to me and much of what I hold dear, especially as an aging dirty stinking hippie. A�And, yes, that is pretty much a metaphor for everything else, too. A�Hashtag, Snowflake.

So, what does Alabama bring to the game? A�Alabama is a machine. A�They churn out draft picks, All Americans, wins, national championships, and pretty much anything else you might equate with success in college football. A�Not many of their players are household names, at least not in my household, but they’ve won 26 games in a row. A�Like I said earlier, I may not like him, but he somehow gets results.

They are the defending national champions. A�They defeated Clemson in last year’s national championship game. A�They also have 8 All Americans on the team this year. A�It’s cliche to say, but also true. A�Note: A�I saw that statement recently and hated it so much that I just repeated it in a mocking tone. A�This is Alabama. A�They’re the best team in the country and it isn’t even close.

The pick: A�Everything says that I should pick Alabama and I think I’m going to have to do it even though it pains me to do so. A�I’m rooting for Clemson with every fiber of my being and it feels like they could be the kind of team that comes back to win the next year after losing barely the year before. A�However, this is not the time for such optimism. A�This is the age of crushing defeats and near hopelessness. A�The rebels might eventually win. A�For now, though, the empire rules with an iron fist.

 

My Completely Ignorant NFL Coin Flip Weekend Preview

(Editor’s Note: A�Look for a detailed analysis of the season preview after Super Bowl weekend. A�Also, we hope to expand our reach of ignorant sports coverage into college with a preview of the BCS Championship game before Monday. A�Holy cow, this is an actual editor’s note and not an attempted joke. A�We’re either losing our edge or attempting to go legit or both. A�Personally, I hope it’s neither.)

A couple of years ago, I had the idea to pick the NFL playoffs. A�I went 9-2, missing the Broncos/Indianapolis game and getting within a Beastmode touchdown of getting the Super Bowl right as a preseason pick. A�I took that success and was going to pick the games for last season (or this or both) against a coin and compare those records to “experts”. A�Why a coin, you may ask.

Well, I’m glad you asked. A�When faced with the prospect of picking Wild Card games in those playoffs, I made the offhand remark that the teams were so close that you might as well just flip a coin. A�This year seems less random, which is always dangerous, especially when discussing the NFL. A�As most games are decided by one score or less, there is no such thing as a sure thing. A�Except, eff the Patriots. A�I can guarantee that. A�100%. A�Every time.

Oakland @ Houston (-3.5)

This game has the potential to be the worst playoff game in the history of the league. A�Look, I get that we live in a time when everything is either the best or the worst ever and there is no room for nuance. A�However, I’m not one for hyperbole. A�Let’s look at the evidence.

Oakland is a surprise team by making the playoffs after a fairly significant drought. A�That rarely ends well for a team. A�Their quarterback–a big reason that they are relevant again–got injured and they’re now relying on a far inferior back up. A�About the only team that can (and has) survived such a tragedy is New England. A�Eff the Pats.

Houston is the perpetually underperforming team that they always are. A�It’s just that this year, Indianapolis decided to give in to peer pressure and stink like the rest of the division. A�Houston didn’t lose their starting quarterback, but they might as well have with Brock Osweiler under center. A�They did, however, lose JJ Watt and I’ve heard less imaginative people call him the quarterback of their defense.

When you take all of that into consideration, I see no compelling reason to watch this game. A�Heck, I’m having trouble focusing enough to pick it.

My pick: A�What to you mean I have to pick it? A�Does that mean I have to watch it? A�Dear God, I hope not. A�Okay, I pick the Texans to get annihilated by the Pats round 2. A�Eff the Pats.

Detroit @ Seatttle (-8)

This game promises to be bad, but in an entirely different way. A�Then again, maybe it will have some of the same awfulness. A�Detroit somehow made the playoffs, even though they stink like the Raiders. A�Okay, I guess that’s only one similarity. A�It still promises a terrible game.

Seattle is one of the elite teams of the last 5 years. A�Detroits bores us to death every Thanksgiving Day for some reason. A�Seattle has a Super Bowl winning quarterback. A�Detroit has…a quarterback, I assume. A�I mean, they have to have at least one on the roster, right? A�Seattle has a home field advantage that is so notorious that people think a 7-1 year is akin to 5-3. A�Okay, that last one is a bit of a stretch. A�I know of one person (Cousin Sal) that made that calculus, but quoting “people that know things” is part of this post fact world.

My pick: A�No matter how much of an exaggeration that last “fact” is, Seattle should roll in this game.

Miami @ Pittsburgh (-10)

I usually spare you my pictures with witty captions in these sports article. I’m also not much of a selfie guy. However, this picture approximates my face when I saw that line for the Steelers.

Okay, Pittsburgh is my team. A�I know these guys and their tendencies because I watch them and pay attention. A�You’d think so, right? A�Nope. A�Similar to a trip to Pats (Eff the Pats) training camp a few years ago, I can only name 3 players on the team and one of them only because he inexplicably still plays for them (James Harrison). A�I’ve watched more college than NFL again this year and I was more excited about Pitt’s annual appearance in the Toilet Bowl than the Steelers making the playoffs.

However I did watch the “Christmas Day miracle” against the Rats. A�I kept saying during the game that they’d either lose that one and be eliminated or get destroyed by the Pats (Eff the Pats) in the AFC Championship. A�Recent events have diminished some of that optimism, but Vegas really likes the Steelers and other fans are afraid of them for some reason. A�I think it is all Antonio Brown and his fantasy prowess.

Okay, enough about the Steelers. A�The Dolphins are in the same situation as the Raiders with their starting quarterback. A�The only difference is that their starter is only minimally better than their backup. A�Also, they have the dirtiest player in the game, Ndamukong (I had to Google his name twice to spell it right) Suh. A�Okay, enough about the Dolphins.

My pick: A�I still think the Steelers will win this game, maybe even convincingly, but I’m much more worried about the Chefs round 2 than I was the Raiders 2 weeks ago.

New York Giants at Green Bay (-4.5)

Now we’re talking! A�This is a game that people are excited to watch. A�Not me, of course, but I’ve heard people say that it is the best game of the weekend. A�Eh, who knows. A�Maybe the social media hype will get me and I’ll pay attention to the game.

Chris and I were talking a few weeks ago and I said that it would be funny to see the Giants run the table again so that I could watch Pats fans poop their pants over losing to Eli once again because eff the Pats. A�He isn’t convinced that the Giants will make it that far, but I hold out hope. A�Apparently, the big news for the Giants this week is that Odell Beckham went to Miami or something? A�I have no idea. A�That’s all I could make out from captioned ESPN while I rode a stationary bike at the YMCA the other day.

As far as Green Bay is concerned, they have Aaron Rogers. A�He seems to have taken Peyton Manning’s place as the other guy to Tom Brady’s golden boy. A�He makes a ton of commercials and is still one of the best. A�Um, unlike Peyton, though, Rogers! seems to be doing it with duct tape and paper clips, MacGyver style. A�Other than Rogers!, I can’t name another player on the team, except for “blonde guy on defense who thinks he is Hulk Hogan, but isn’t Kevin Greene”.

My pick: A�I think I’ve picked all home teams, so I will pick this one as my odd ball. A�Giants in a close one. A�Start pooping, Pats fans.