Archive for March, 2010

31
Mar
10

Everything But Imaginary #346: From Blackest Night to Brightest Day

DC Comics’ mega-event Blackest Night came to a conclusion today, and so I take a little time to go over the unanswered questions and storylines that have been established for the upcoming follow-up series, Brightest Day. Be warned, spoilers abound, so if you haven’t read Blackest Night #8 yet, stay back.

Everything But Imaginary #346: From Blackest Night to Brightest Day

30
Mar
10

Blake Gettin’ Healthy Status Update

A few weeks ago, I announced my intention to shape up and finally start trying to get a little healthier, particularly in terms of weight. As the reason I actually made a post about it is because I wanted to be public, to keep myself honest, I decided I should do the occasional update here and talk about how I’m doing.

I’m doing… okay. I’ve really managed to cut down on the junk food, that’s probably my biggest accomplishment to date. I’ve got myself on a fairly rigid schedule — some sort of breakfast daily (fruit or cereal, low-fat milk), a decent lunch (cold cut sandwich, 100-calorie pack of chips), a mid-afternoon snack (fruit or cereal, low-fat milk), and a dinner that consists of more vegetables and smaller portions of the entree. I haven’t gone to a drive-thru window since I started this endeavor, which is probably a lifetime endurance record for me, at least going back to when I got a driver’s license. The closest thing to fast food I’ve had are Subway sandwiches. Tuna, mostly. A roasted chicken or two in there. I’ve cheated a little on the weekends because… well… you’ve gotta. You’ll go insane eating perfectly all the time, and if I’m going to be weak, I may as well do it on Saturday nights when I’m out with my friends at a pizza joint. Even then, even when I eat something that isn’t quite as good for me, I’m winning the battle of portion control — fewer slices of pizza, diet sodas or lemonade or the like.

Have I noticed any difference yet, you ask? Yes, a few. I do feel like I have more energy during the day. I don’t get tired as easily, and a lot of the general cruds I’ve gotten in the past haven’t been creeping up on me. Even my old arch-nemesis — staircases — have been easier to tackle as of late. I haven’t gone down a pants size or anything, but physically, I’m feeling some results.

I’m feeling other things, too: hungry. I’ve been told that, once you get yourself on a schedule like this, your appetite will subside. I wish it would freaking hurry up and subside, because I’m really sick of being hungry all the time. I don’t crave food any less, I’m just getting better at fighting those cravings. I keep my gaze trained firmly ahead when I walk past the candy aisle. I ignore a low rumbling because I know I’ve eaten everything I actually need for the afternoon. I chew sugarless gum. I’ve chewed a lot of sugarless gum.

When I’m really hungry, I admit, I start to get a little snippy. In the store earlier today, the guy ahead of me in line got a Coca-Cola from the cooler. As he did so, his wife said, “That’s your second Coke today!” My immediate reaction was to snap at her, “And how many times today have you bitched today?” But I didn’t. Because I’m nice.

This is just update number one, status report number one. I’m still going. Keep your fingers crossed for me, will you?

29
Mar
10

What I’m Reading: The Lost Books of the Odyssey

As you are probably aware, if you’ve spent any time on this blog, I’ve got a real fondness for mythology in general, Greek mythology in particular, and the adventures of Odysseus specifically. I do consider The Odyssey one of the finest adventure stories of all time, and the assorted interpretations of that book have entertained me to no end. It wasn’t a hard decision at all to give Zachary Mason’s book The Lost Books of the Odyssey a try.

The book labels itself as a novel, but it’s not really, not if you define define a novel as a book length work of fiction. Instead, Mason gives us a quick read full of 44 alternate takes on the tales found in the Illiad and the Odyssey. As the writer notes in the introduction, before the poet Homer’s interpretation of Odysseus’s story became the standard, there were many versions of the story that were used, moved around, and toyed with by storytellers putting their own stamp on the legend.

This book purports to be some of those “lost” tales, and several of them feel as though they actually could be. “Helen’s Image” shows the woman who launched a thousand ships making a different choice, for example, and in “A Sad Revelation” we see an Odysseus whose wife Penelope has not been as loyal as in the classic version. Some of the other tales, “The Books of Winter” for example, take the framework of Odysseus’s tale and wrap it around a context that would not have been thought of in Homer’s time. More than one of the tales dips its toes into the realm of metafiction, making a commentary on fiction itself.  “Record of a Game” reinvents both Homeric tales as document about the playing of one of the oldest games of strategy.

If you’re trying to accept this book as an actual “lost” tale of Odysseus, it’s not going to satisfy you, but as an alternate take, it works marvelously well. The stories come across like Odysseus told through the prism of the Twilight Zone or Marvel Comics’ What If? series — versions of Odysseus that branch off from or exist catercorner to the version that we’re all so familiar with. I greatly enjoyed this book. It really engaged me, charged up my imagination, and got me to look at Odysseus’s world from a different angle. I definitely recommend this one.

28
Mar
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 164: The Gamers-Dorkness Rising Commentary

It’s time for another Showcase Commentary episode! This week, Blake and Kenny sit down to watch one of their favorite geek films, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising. As they discuss the film, the guys tell tales of their own Dungeons and Dragons and role-playing adventures, talk about the works of cartoonist Aaron Williams, and discuss gaming comics and media in general. Head on over to NetFlix and queue up the movie in to stream along as you listen to the boys discuss it! In the picks, Blake has a great time with X-Factor Forever #1 and Kenny stays on-topic with the first collected edition of the gamer comic Looking For Group. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com!

Music provided by the Podshow Podsafe Music Network.

Episode 164: The Gamers-Dorkness Rising Commentary
Inside This Episode:


27
Mar
10

Summer Love Lives?

One thing I’ve regretted on this site has been my inability to finish the serial novel, Summer Love, that I was serializing here when I launched. As I’ve said before, the main problem I had was Percy Jackson. Great books. Too similar to things I had planned. The story died.

But now…

I make no promises, but I think I have a way to fix this. I’ll have to throw out some of the stuff I already have written and change all my previous plans, but this could work. I may even have a new title, finally.

I do promise this: unlike last time, I will not attempt to share this story until it is FINISHED. I’ve learned my lesson.

26
Mar
10

What I’m Reading: Green Lantern #52

The cover says Green Lantern #52, but this issue is pretty much Blackest Night #7 1/2, as the two main plotlines of the series finally converge in these many, many pages. The united Lanterns of every Corps fight a two-front battle this month. In the skies above the planet Earth, the entire Black Lantern mass of the dead planet Xanshi face off against the Lanterns who have converged from all corners of the Universe. On the ground in Coast City, the newly-crowned White Lantern Sinestro leads the assault against Nekron.

This is what you would call a “mythology” episode of a TV show, something that progresses the plot a bit and reveals a lot of the backstory. We get a definitive origin for life in the DC Universe, as well as the origins of the seven entities — such as Ion and Parallax — that embody the seven Corps we’ve become familiar with.

There are also fantastic, if unexpected, character beats throughout this issue. Fatality, one-time assassin of Green Lanterns and current Star Sapphire, has always hated John Stewart for failing to save her home, Xanshi, from destruction. Now we see them fighting on the same side against a desecrated version of that planet, and both characters are opened up to some real depth here. The stuff with Sinestro and the rest of the main cast doesn’t move along quite as much (that, no doubt, is being saved for the core Blackest Night finale), but Geoff Johns still succeeds in giving us great moments nonetheless. Sinestro’s duel with Nekron, in particular, has the potential for major ramifications in the climax of this series and, presumably, moving into the follow-up Brightest Day.

This series, this storyline, really has delivered consistently and almost without exception. Geoff Johns has long since proven himself as a storyteller to comic book fans, but Blackest Night takes him one step further. Now, he’s firmly established as someone who can orchestrate a line-wide event, adn make it better and more satisfying than any in recent memory. More than ever, with his new position as DC’s “Creative Director,” I fell that the DCU is in good hands.

Rating: 9/10

25
Mar
10

Everything But Imaginary #345: Throwing a Mighty Shield

The new Captain America may be the old Human Torch. What does Blake think about this casting decision? And does — or should — one have anything to do with the other?

Everything But Imaginary #345: Throwing a Mighty Shield
Inside This Column:
Chris Evans as the Human Torch

23
Mar
10

Toy Stories: Infinite Calamity

I have had terrible luck trying to find the new DC Comics 75th Anniversary Infinite Heroes figures in stores near me. I’ve been looking just about everywhere (I say just about because there is, in fact, one place I haven’t had an opportunity to look yet), but no luck. I have, however, had a modicum of luck snagging a few of the leftovers of the previous lines that are still available, including these two six-packs I got my hands on not long ago.

"Get 'em, Clark! GET 'EM!"

"Get 'em, Clark! GET 'EM!"

This first pack, OMAC Attack, is based on the OMAC Project storyline that DC ran a few years ago in the run-up to Infinite Crisis. In that story it was revealed that Maxwell Lord, one time benefactor of the Justice League, had gone bad and was running the anti-metahuman police force called Checkmate, and that he had created an army of OMAC cyborgs to do his bidding. If that wasn’t bad enough, he used his mind-control powers to use Superman as a weapon, an attack that was stopped only when Wonder Woman snapped Lord’s neck like dry spaghetti. It was awesome.

The two OMAC figures included in this set are identical to the single-packed figure I got some time ago. But as they’re “minions,” I’m okay with this. This figure marks the umpteenth Superman in my collection, but again, Mattel managed to get at least a little diversity. If you look close, you can see that his eyes are red, apparently signifying Lord’s mind-control. Either that or he popped over to the Batcave for dinner on the night Alfred made his Spicy Chili Surprise. Wonder Woman is a slightly different paint job than the single packed figure as well.

The two main reasons I wanted this set, though, were Max and Booster Gold. The Max figure is a good representation of the character from that storyline, and Booster is a character I’ve been dying to get in an Infinite Heroes form. Although why they couldn’t have included Booster’s best bud, the Blue Beetle, instead of one of the OMACs, is beyond me.

"Just don't look at them, guys. Just... just don't look."

Next up is the “Mallah’s Revenge” six-pack, featuring six Teen Titans and two of their more bizarre foes. Let’s get the bad guys out of the way first. Monsieur Mallah and the Brain (I’m sure you can figure which is which) are two old enemies of the Doom Patrol who found love with one another during Grant Morrison‘s truly freakadelic run on that title. On the other side, we have Cyborg, Robin, Raven, and Arsenal. One thing I like about this pack is that there are virtually no “stock” bodies. The Brain and Mallah obvious required totally original sculpts, and the Robin figure is a bit smaller than the usual males. It’s about time we had one to go with the 37 different Batman figures, even if Tim Drake is no longer Robin and the current Robin has a different costume.

Cyborg and Arsenal (also in a different costume these days) both look pretty good, with enough bits and pieces to make them stand out among the army of 3.75-inchers. The only disappointment in this set is Raven, an identical figure to the one that came with Starfire and Captain Boomerang in an earlier 3-pack.

22
Mar
10

What I’m Reading: Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies

I love movies almost as much as I love books. Books about movies? Jackpot. Kevin Murphy’s A Year at the Movies remains the gold standard, of course, but I just finished another book that gives it a run for its money.

Australian film critic Michael Adams decided to spend a year watching bad movies in an effort to determine what, exactly is the worst movie ever made. Adams compiled a library of hundreds of films based on the IMDB Bottom 100 and the recommendations of friends and film professionals, then began to randomly watch his way through one category of crap after another.

Like Murphy’s book, Showgirls, Teen Wolves, and Astro Zombies serves several purposes at once. On the surface, you get reviews of movies — a lot of movies. A lot of really bad movies. And Adams’ writing style is familiar and personable enough that you genuinely enjoy reading as he just talks about movies, something that a lot of professional critics fail to achieve. On a second level, there’s a lot of film history to be had here. Adams manages to interview many of the people involved in some of these spectacularly bad movies as well as noted film historians like Leonard Maltin and schlock-cinema superstars like Lloyd Kaufman along the way, getting their thoughts on movies in general and on truly bad movies in particular. Adams also chronicles a year in his own family, including layoffs, new jobs, and birthday parties. As most of these segments do manage to tie in to his movie watching quest, you never feel like he’s drifting away from the point of the book.

It’s important to note that Adams shares the sensibility of cinema fans such as myself. Sometimes it can be really fun to watch a really bad movie. So he clues you in on which films are enjoyable despite their badness and which ones are just plain painful to watch. as I read through the book, I found myself nodding along with several of the crappy films I’ve seen, showing slight dismay at the rare film he included that I actually liked, and logging onto NetFlix to add movies to my queue just to see if they could really be as bad as Adams claims they are.

He does manage to reach a conclusion in his bad movie quest, but he’s the first to tell you that his decision is by no means definitive. Bad movies are totally subjective, after all. But if you really love bad movies, that doesn’t matter. This book is more than worth seeking out and giving a read.

21
Mar
10

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 163: Avengers Assemble

Marvel has spent the last few weeks slowly rolling out the rosters for the new Avengers family of titles. This week, Blake and Kenny talk about the members of each team, make their Secret Avengers predictions, and chat about a plethora of other comic book news, including the new Power Girl creative team, the return of Batman Beyond, IDW‘s change in status with Diamond, Captain America casting rumors, J. Michael Straczynski‘s Samaritan X, and more! In the picks, Kenny takes the graphic novel Werewolf By Night: In the Blood, and Blake bids farewell to Dan Jurgens with Booster Gold #30. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com!

Music provided by the Podshow Podsafe Music Network.

Episode 163: Avengers Assemble
Inside This Episode:





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