Archive for October, 2009


Halloween Party: Trick ‘r Treat

Trick 'r TreatI thought it would be appropriate to end the 2009 Halloween Party with a flick set on the big night itself, and Trick ‘r Treat fit the bill nicely. One would be justified in approaching this movie cautiously — after all, it was originally scheduled for a 2007 release, got pushed back twice, and finally went straight to DVD on the Warner Premiere imprint this year. “Straight to DVD,” in the past, has been as good as a code phrase for “utterly worthless.” But this film, written and directed by Michael Dougherty, totally defies the odds to be one of the best Halloween movies in years.

The movie is a sort of hybrid between the old-school “anthology” horror film like Creepshow and the sort of artistic ensemble film with several sets of characters and concurrent storylines that touch on each other once in a while (such as Short Cuts or Love, Actually). There are four separate, interweaving stories told over the course of the movie, plus a few other grisly tidbits that make for a lot of fun. Dylan Baker plays a principal who takes out some of his frustrations on a few trouble students. Anna Paquin is a young woman looking for a special companion at a Halloween party, only to run across a bloodthirsty man in a mask. A group of kids decide to explore a local urban legend about a Halloween massacre, and Brian Cox plays a grumpy old man who has no Halloween spirit of his own — until a true spirit shows up to teach him a lesson.

The movie works on so many levels. Each of the stories would be perfectly effective on its own, but the moments of connection are very effective. You’ll find yourself wanting to re-wind and watch the movie over and over, looking for the points where each story comes into contact with the others. There are a lot of surprises, a lot of points where the film defies convention, and other points where convention is adhered to nicely.

It isn’t the greatest Halloween movie ever made, but it’s certainly the best in recent years. Since the DVD finally came out, response has been almost universally positive, so that bodes well for the chance of Dougherty making a sequel. If he does, I hope it gets the theatrical release it deserves. This really was a surprisingly good little film.


What I’m Reading: Blackest Night #4

Blackest Night #4Hal is off in space, so this issue we focus on the Flash, the Atom, and Mera as they serve as the front line against the invading Black Lanterns… a Corps dedicated to consuming the hearts of the living to charge their central power battery… and as the issue begins, the charge is already up to 93 percent.

This issue, more so than the others so far, is really about the great character beats Geoff Johns tosses our way. The main plot isn’t really advanced much until the last few pages, mainly because Hal Jordan is off trying to assemble his anti-Black Lantern force over in his own title. So instead, we watch our Earth-bound heroes in their efforts to kick a little ass. The “new Trinity” of the Flash, Atom, and Mera, works remarkably well. The obvious love Johns has for writing Barry Allen is infectious, it bleeds into the reader and makes you anxious for the upcoming Blackest Night: Flash miniseries more than ever. Even Mera, a character who has never even achieved the popularity of her late husband Aquaman, becomes someone we root for to take a triumphant stand against the darkness.

The final scenes, with the Justice Society, give us a confrontation as dramatic and heart-wrenching (no pun intended) as the stuff with Firestorm last issue. It’s going to be interesting to see which heroes stay dead when all is said and done (the body count on this series has been so high already it’s difficult to fathom that DC would allow all of these characters to “remain dead”), but somehow that doesn’t diminish their war or their sacrifices.

The true “big bad” of the series is finally revealed here, and while part of me is a little irritated that the reveal was spoiled in the Previews solicits a couple of months ago, a larger part of me is geekishly gratified that I called the reveal back in July, before the solicits were released. That’s right. I’m ending this review with an “I told you so.” Nyeah.

Rating: 8/10


What I’m Reading: Green Lantern #47

Green Lantern #47While his Justice League pals try to hold the line on Earth, Hal Jordan is in outer space hoping to find the allies he needs to destroy the threat of the Black Lanterns. An uneasy alliance has already formed between Green Lantern Hal, Indigo-1, Star Sapphire Carol Ferris, and Sinestro. Before they can move on to recruit Atrocitus, Saint Walter, or Larfleeze of the remaining Red, Blue, and Orange Lanterns respectively, an army of Black Lanterns overwhelms the battlefield, including one significant to both Hal and Sinestro — Abin Sur.

Surprisingly, the bad guys really are the stars of this issue. Hal isn’t riding the bench, but the real focus goes to Sinestro as he faces Abin sur and Abin’s sister, who also happens to be the mother of Sinestro’s daughter, Green Lantern Soranik Natu. Geoff Johns has really picked into Sinestro’s character and developed a more humanizing backstory than he’s ever had before. It’s what he does best.

Still not having much of a backstory, but not really needing one, is Atrocitus. The Red Lantern is forced to stop hostilities against the Greens when a wave of Blacks attacks him, thirsting for the rage in his heart. Again giving us nuggets of plot disguised as moments of cool, we see just what happens when a Black Lantern tries to consume the heart of a Red… and it’s a pretty big surprise.

This title continues to serve as the other half of the main Blackest Night comic. When this storyline is collected, if these issues aren’t in the collected edition with the core series, it’s going to be a big mistake. This is great stuff regardless, and it fits perfectly.

Rating: 8/10


What I’m Reading: Blackest Night-Titans #3

Blackest Night: Titans #3Continuing to surprise me with its unexpected levels of awesometude, Blackest Night: Titans #3 wraps up J.T. Krul and Ed Benes‘s exploration of what the rising dead mean for DC’s not-ready-for-prime-time superheroes. With two dead Hawks leading the charge of the Black Lantern Titans against the living variety, our heroes are facing some hard choices. Donna Troy, wounded by the undead form of her infant son, fears what the infection will do to her if left unchecked. Beast Boy is forced to face the truth of his greatest loss, and Dove may somehow hold the key to salvation.

Donna, Garth and Dawn really tale the spotlight this issue, with each of them making terrible, gut-wrenching choices that do more for their characterization as true heroes than any other comics of the past three years. Krul puts them each through seven kinds of Hell, but the fact that they can rise the way they do is nothing short of remarkable. Dove’s importance to the overall Black Lantern story seems to mark this book as a more direct tie to the main series than some of the others, but other threads promise to lead into the upcoming two-part crossovers in Teen Titans and Outsiders as well. While all three of the spin-off miniseries thus far have been wonderful reads, this surprises by potentially being the most significant.

Rating: 9/10



Evercast #1: It’s Time to Play the Music

Evercast LogoOkay, friends, I’ve been teasing this long enough. And unlike on Tuesday, when that weird… stuff happened on my blog, I’m going to talk about the Evercast today.

It’s no secret that I love stories and I love storytelling. Also not much of a secret: I want to tell more stories and I want to find new ways to tell them. I’ve got some things I’m working on, things I don’t want to announce yet. You know that. But it’s time to start something bigger.

After months — heck, a couple of years — studying the works of new media mavens like Scott Sigler, J.C. Hutchins, and Mur Lafferty, I’ve decided to take their lead and launch a new podcast feed dedicated exclusively to my work as a fiction writer. By that I mean — I’m giving you stories. New stories. Audio stories. For free.

I’ve got some novels in progress that I’ll release as an audiobook. I’ll pop in with short stories from time to time. I’ll give rants and audio columns and whatever else strikes my fancy. And sometime next year, I’m planning a new full-cast audio sitcom with a twist. More on that later.

Today, with Halloween this weekend, I’m kicking things off with a short story called “It’s Time to Play the Music.” It’s creepy, is a little silly, and hopefully you’ll think it’s as much fun as I do.

Next week, the first Thursday in November, I’m going to be back with the first episode of my novel A Long November. More on that next week. But expect something here weekly, friends. I won’t promise 52 pieces of fiction a year — I may need a break in-between larger projects — but there’s going to be something here to tide you over.

But now for your part, my friends. I want this to be big. I want this to be the biggest thing I’ve ever done. But I can’t do that alone. So I’m asking you to help me spread the word. Do you know someone who likes audiobooks? Send them the link. Do you have a blog, a Facebook page, or a Twitter feed? Pass it along. Burn the shows to CD and hand them out like candy — just don’t change the file and don’t try to make money off of it (because that just isn’t nice).

In the meantime, you can enjoy the Evercast in two ways. Either you can download the first episode directly, or you can subscribe to it. I’m still waiting on my iTunes confirmation (the show is that new), but if you’ve got iTunes you can still subscribe by going to the advanced settings, clicking on “subscribe to podcast,” and pasting this link into the box:

If podcatchers aren’t your thing, you can download the episode with this link, or left-click it and listen to it streaming on your computer:

It’s Time the Play the Music: Evercast #1

Finally, a couple of shout-outs. First, thanks to my friend and brother Jeff Hendricks for providing the highly spiffy theme music you’re gonna hear in this episode. Second, thanks to my friend and sister (biologically, this time) Heather Petit-Keller for designing that equally spiffy Evercast logo you see hovering before you.

And that’s about all there is to it for now. I’m sure I’ll think of something I forgot as soon as I post this, but that’s no big deal. This is a long-term thing for me. And I hope it will be for you too. So click on the link, enjoy the story, and Happy Halloween!


My iTunes approval has come through! If you’ve got iTunes on your computer, you can go STRAIGHT to the iTunes store and subscribe to the Evercast by clicking on this link: Evercast on iTunes


Everything But Imaginary #326: A Bag of Halloween Treats

With just a few days left until Halloween, I thought it was time to look into the creepy comics that have hit the shelves this year. I don’t think I’ve gotten ’em all, but here are the 2009 Halloween editions I managed to find, all in one dandy column.

Everything But Imaginary #326: A Bag of Halloween Treats
Inside This Column:


Halloween Party: Everc[ CONTENT OVERRIDE: KILROY2.0 IS HERE!!! ]

Okay, guys, the time has come for the explanation, don’t you think? For some time now, on Facebook and Twitter, and here at the Realms, I’ve been hyping something called the Evercast, something that is due to launch this Thursday, October 29. I’ve kept you in suspense long enough, guys. This is something I’ve been working on for a long time, longer than you know, and I’ve been waiting for just the right time to spring it.

What I’m kicking off is really a first step in a long campai



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art off with some Halloween scares. As you can see, it’s gonna be a hell of a lot of fun. Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. Launching Thursday, October 29. Be here on the ground floor, friends. It’s gonna be a blast.


Halloween Party: Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men

Nice Girls Don't Date Dead MenA few months back I reviewed a new book that had caught my attention, Molly Harper‘s debut novel Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs. In that novel we were introduced to Jane Jameson, an ex-librarian who was shot by a drunken hunter, found by a vampire, and turned into the undead to save her… um… life. Now these days, there’s a buttload of vampire “romances” in the marketplace, but Harper’s book had something very unique going for it — unlike any of those other vampire novels you can name, this book was funny. Really funny.

In the sequel, Jane’s best friend Zeb is engaged to a werewolf, a fact that is of particular upset to his mother, who has always harbored a belief that Zeb and Jane would wind up together. Jane’s boyfriend/sire, Gabriel, has a tendency to rush off to parts unknown for “business,” and her grandmother the serial monogamist has brought a date to her latest fiance’s funeral. Harper pulls in a slew of disconnected storylines that all seem to revolve around Jane and her group of friends, and despite the fact that most of these assorted stories don’t actually connect with one another, the book still has a nice, cohesive feeling to it. Even more so than the first one, though, it feels incomplete. There are a lot of storylines left dangling — Jane’s estrangement from her family, whatever is taking up Gabriel’s time, the fate of the occult bookstore where Jane now works, and several others. I guess it’s safe to leave some plots hanging when the next book in the series is scheduled for a January release, but it’s still a bit disquieting.

When I reviewed the first book, one of my few complaints was that Gabriel was a bit of  nonentity as a character. This time around he’s still kind of underdeveloped, but it’s getting better. The mysterious routine actually ties into the plot this time around, and seems to be feeding into the third volume as well, so I’m feeling a bit more forgiving. The big plus to this book is Harper’s character development. Zeb and Jolene, Dick and Andrea, all get much more facetime in this book, and we learn much more about them. The vampire and werewolf cultures of Harper’s world are explored much more, and the confrontations with Mama Ginger and Wilbur near the end of the book work well for a middle chapter, as this seems to be.

If you’re passing on these books because you’re sick of angsty vampire romances, rethink it. The tales of Jane Jameson really don’t fall into that category at all. Instead, we get something clever, something enjoyable, and something fun.


2 in 1 Showcase Episode 142: Batman-The Long Halloween

The shadows fall across the Halloween Spooktacular, as we round out the month with our story spotlight on Batman: The Long Halloween. The guys discuss the origins of the story, the tale itself, the repurcussions for Batman’s life on the silver screen, and the status of Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale collaborations in the years since! In the picks, Blake goes with Chew #5, Kenny picks Power Girl #6, and Mike gives us a graphic novel pick: Infinity War. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at! (Special thanks to Jacob Bascle for the Spooktacular Album Art we’ll be sporting all month!)

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 142: Batman-The Long Halloween
Inside This Episode:


Halloween Party: Trick or Treat, Charlie Brown!

With the big day just one week out, soon I’ll be ready to break out the DVD of the greatest Halloween cartoon ever made: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. But before I pop in the DVD, I’ve got to take out Chuck and his friends in plastic form. Let’s look at a couple of the Charlie Brown toys.

Although I know there are at least eight toys in this line I’ve only been able to get these two from my local CVS. On the left is the familiar sight of Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace, his Sopwith Camel having been shot to Hell by the dreaded Red Baron. This is a great-looking toy, but it is hurt a bit in terms of practicality. Although there’s a small indentation for Snoopy to sit, the figure is terribly unstable and falls off the doghouse at the slightest breeze. There’s no such problem for vampire Charlie Brown. I don’t know if this particular costume was ever seen in the comics, but it definitely wasn’t in the cartoon. I like it. It’s kind of bizarre to see Charlie Brown with a white shirt, but it’s undeniably soothing to see him looking so happy. Plus, I love it any time an action figure has a cloth cape.

Next up is the Flying Ace himself, Snoopy the great, re-cast as a Jack-O-Lantern. As the odds of ever finding a real gourd with the right proportions to play the “funny lookin’ kid with the big nose” are slim to none, this plastic replica is a nice substitute. While nothing can replace the thrill of carving your own pumpkin and lighting it up on the front porch, perishable decorations don’t work for month-long celebrating. Stuff like this is fun to put out all of October, saving the star of the show for Halloween night. (This is also a CVS find.)

Finally, last Christmas I brought you a view of Charlie Brown’s Toboggan Run. This was exactly the same technology used the year before in another toy, Charlie Brown’s Prowling Pumpkin Patch. The Pumpkin Patch was purchased before I started doing these toy reviews, but it served as the setting of one of my all-time favorite Halloween pieces, The Marvel Zombies Mini-Mates Present Themselves.

The Prowling Pumpkin Patch, like the Toboggan Run, plays music while magnets twirl the seasonal aspects of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and Lucy around the patch in a circle. It’s still, it’s goofy, and it’s a lot of fun. I could play with this thing for hours.

I especially love the little Charlie Brown under the ghost costume.

Happy Halloween from the pumpkin patch!

October 2009

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