Friday, May 30, 2008
All-Star Superman #11 gets an A- from AHR
This book is like a great dream you only half remember. There are characters I don't recognize and references to things I don't understand. But I was thrilled from start to finish, and the last page made me actually say "Ahh!" out loud. That is a quality comic experience.
Grant Morrisson week continues after the jump...
Final Crisis #1 gets a B- from AHR
JG Jones' art kicks off with a eye-popping prehistoric sequence, though it's down to business after that. There are a bunch of fun moments of villains bickering and a short appearance by Gnerd fave (or AHR fave) Renee Montoya, but the last half gets a little bogged down in Monitor-Land, the DC Universe's black hole of boringness. In true Don Quixote fashion Grant Morrisson is trying to bring some humanity to these wooden super-beings, but I resent the fact that I'm expected to have read Countdown at all.
Batman #677 gets a C+ from AHR
I love stories about how crazy Batman is, but hearing his newest true love repeatedly tell him that he's just a wounded boy on the inside is a little too old news. Plus I was really looking forward to the Joker after the cliffhanger in the last issue, and he's MIA.
Teen Titans #59 gets a C from AHR
Wait, so The Clock King is a terrifying juggernaut in hand to hand combat? Really? The guy with big glasses, kind of looks like Scarecrow without the mask? Okay, comic. The one thing that impressed me about this comic is that it ties in perfectly with a thread from Final Crisis, and how often do tie-ins EVER actually match up. Blue Beetle is given the only really funny line of the issue (referring to Clock King as "Rolex Chronoberg") and it makes me hope Jaime Reyes may have a secured a future in the DC universe as a comic relief character, when (sorry IF) his book gets canceled.
The show properly premieres Sunday at 11:30pm on TV, if you still have one of those.
Extra Bonus Funtime 3000: James Urbaniak, voice of Dr. Venture, celebrates the new season with by posting a David Bowie photo to go with each of the show's mains characters. This is possible because David Bowie has not just one outfit, but several ch-ch-ch-changes. Sorry, blame Flight of the Conchords.
In other less-free but still awesome Venture news:
Friday, May 30
- Battlestar Galactica
- $11.50, Midnight @ The IFC Center, 323 Sixth Ave, Manhattan
Bring me everyone. What do you mean, everyone? EVVVRRRYYYYYONNNNE!
Saturday, May 30
- The Central Park TV & Movie Locations Scavenger Hunt
- $26, 2pm @ Central Park, Manhattan (exact location comes with ticket purchase)
Sunday, June 1
- Moviehouse Presents: Leon (The Professional) and Snatch
- $7/day, FREE!, 8pm @ Galapagos, 70 N. Sixth Street, Brooklyn
*Animated Standfield GIF is the work of genius Jim Miles
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Entertainment illustrator Matt Busch (the man behind the instructional You Can Draw 'Star Wars' video) has produced the last in his series of official, limited-edition posters that commemorate various Star Wars anniversaries by honoring the excellent cast of villians. The posters for Hope and Empire are long gone, but you can snag the new Jedi poster for $50; the money goes to the National Lymphoma Society. That's not very villainous, guys. Although I guess Imperial dogma isn't necessarily in opposition to charity. Money doesn't seem to factor into their goals one way or the other; they're a dictatorship ruled by an insane wizard man who just wants...what does the Emperor want? People to join him? To break spirits? You probably need to read Expanded Universe books to get a bigger picture than that.
Close up detail on the ROTJ poster and some serious geeking out, after the jump...
I don't know if the rancor should be on there. He's as much a prisoner as anyone in Jabba's palace. In fact I'd rather not have any of the Tatooine crowd on here; I'm really all about the brit accented officers.
I should admit that what really makes this poster for me is the inclusion of Admiral Piett in the right hand corner. When I was fourteen, I was obsessed for about a week with that character. And Lord knows, there was plenty of craziness on the internet to encourage me. I think the inherent cloud of dread and stress his character exists in appealed to me. You may remember him on the Imperial command ship during the battle of Hoth, during which he inherited his Admiralship by default after Darth Vader killed his superior officer via teleconference. By the end of Empire, Piett had also failed to live up to Vader's standards, but surprisingly not in the literal sense; he showed up to everyone's surprise in Jedi, trachea intact. Hooray! He gets killed in the end by a kamikaze A-Wing, but at least it was quick.
And speaking of Imperial Officers who I'm way too interested in, where exactly is General Veers is all this? Hmm? I guess one of the corner portraits on the Empire poster could be him, but surely he should be dressed in his iconic AT-AT gear. You know what I'm talking about.
Link via Newsarama
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The idea seems so painfully obvious, I'm surprised no one beat Weezer to the punch. Get every YouTube celebrity you can wrangle and throw them into one big pot for mega-virally goodness. It would have been a bit more fresh if we hadn't just had the Southpark episode with all these guys, but SP's production turnaround is so fast I wouldn't be surprised if they got the idea from Weezer rather than the other way around. I know that may involve time travel, but I'm telling you those guys are supernatural.
As a whole the video works really well, I'd say. I was skeptical at first but by the end it was like a great big party with a bunch of old pals. Though I was quite sad not to see my main man Sammy Stephens.
[Thanks for the tip, Ethan!]
UPDATE: See something you don't recognize? Check out this excellent list of all the memes that are referenced in the video, with original YouTube links included!
Monday, May 26, 2008
Photos are one thing, but in order to really understand the mood of the Zombie Crawl, you need to hear the groans of the undead, observe their lurching gait, and hear the the plaintive shouts of the organizer; "Don't break the windows!" Enjoy Gnerd Johnny's 2 minute highlight reel of zombies on the move through Williamsburg.
Click the pics for high res goodness!
Most Surprising Scene - Avengers: The Initiative #13
Despite the fact that no skin is shown and few sex acts take place, this is a boundary pushing sequence.
Here we have Emery, a nerdy, shy teen who happens to be indestructible, and a ex-villain who burns up anything she touches. Alone at an unauthorized Initiative beach party, she realizes that his powers would allow her to have sex with him. So she gets on him and starts, despite the fact that he's not into it. Is this rape? That's a yes. In a medium dominated by male sexual power fantasies, it's extremely surprising to see a scene in which a young man receives genuinely unwelcome sexual attention, and in a way that's not played for laughs or irony. Here the reader is made to feel the discomfort and confusion of this young man, and it's a powerful, sad moment. The last time I remember seeing anything like this in a comic is in Bomb Scare, a great Optic Nerve story. Here's to Christos Gage and Steve Uy for pulling off something truly unconventional in a mainstream book.
Pop Art, Stephanie Brown, Reed Richards: Ladies Man and more, after the jump...
The Reclamation of Pop Art - Amazing Spider-Man #560
The villain in this Spidey storyline is "Paper Doll," a 2D woman unhealthily obsessed with celebrity Bobby Carr. Her and Spidey have a dustup in a Pop Art gallery in this ish, which justifies the awesome cover with Paper Doll actually becoming Pop Art and creeping up on our hero (look at those nails! Creepy!). Later Spidey lands a well-placed punch in front of an explosive WHAAM! piece. Awesome!
The Power of Fans - Robin #174
Wow. Those who hated the way the War Games storyline ended have had just about all their demands met as of the end of last week's Robin. Let the retconning begin!
Exhibit A: Steph never got a memorial because Batman never really thought she was dead. This also explains his insensitive-even-for-him reaction to her death in the first place.
Exhibit B: Dr. Leslie Tompkins, heretofore believed to have actually allowed Steph to die as an outrageously irresponsible warning to teen superheroes across the nation, actually helped the poor girl fake her own death in order to start a new life.
Exhibit C: Editor Dan Didio is killed. Guess that ties up all the loose ends!
Reputation Alert - Avengers: The Initiative #13
As seen in a previous issue of this series, Hank Pym's greatest fear is that he will be forever remembered not for his years of heroism, but for being a vile dirtbag who beat up his wife (BOOO!). He supposedly came to terms with that fear in that same issue, but now it looks like even the younger generation of heroes (who probably grew up on The Ultimates) aren't so forgiving. Sorry dirtbag!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Photos and write-up after the jump...
This being a 21 and over event, participants met up at Duff's, a bar which I was assured was the heavy metal bar in Brooklyn. Those shadowy figures on the roof are probably FBI agents making sure there's nothing actually supernatural going on.
A couple hours before the walk began, the event organizers had set up a make-up area on the bar's front porch where walkers could get bloodied up and rotted for the low low cost of nothing.
The woman who did my make-up had worked on the awesome ThrillerFest zombies a few months ago. I went with traditional grey, though other people were getting a more colorful dark green look, and some went with a more ghoulish white. Zombies come in a beautiful rainbow of colors, just like you and me.
A close up of my "killer" neck scar (stop me).
Me in full zombie documentarian regalia. I was going for a film student who decided it would be a good idea to get footage of the zombie invasion. Wap wap waaa! You can't see it here but there's fake blood on my camera and lanyard/shooting permit as well.
At about six o'clock, Organizer Zombie announced it was time to get moving through the streets of Williamsburg.
Just before we left Duff's, a photographer got in his car and asked the zombies to attack him while he shot from the inside. The zombies were all to eager to oblige, and I swear that bumper damage was there before we started.
Our hunting instincts now fully charged, the walk began west through the warehouse lined streets North 3rd towards the main artery of Brooklyn hipsterdom, Bedford Ave. Our final destination was Passout Records, where zomb-friendly rap artist MC Chris would perform a free set.
Some zombies declined to get into character, but a good chunk really went for it, groaning, stumbling, and most importantly, walking towards any sign of fresh brains. This improvisatory aspect of the walk (the RPG aspect, if you will) was the real draw for me; being given an excuse to act out all the horror conventions you've ever seen on screen in real life, and on unsuspecting bystanders, is a very surreal and engrossing experience.
The mob's first big civilian encounters was this SUV as it drove down North 3rd, alone and helpless.
My favorite moment of the whole day was when we passed Radegast Hall & Biergarten, a huge restaurant with rusty iron bars on the window. The mob got one look at those gothic, presumably sturdy bars and attacked the facade in what must have seemed like a scene from Night of the Living Dead to the diners inside. Most of those inside looked amused at this impromptu attack, some slightly less so (hipster hate, or more likely hipster self-hate sometimes provokes extreme eye-rolling towards these kind of goofy events).
After about 20 seconds of mobbing the exterior and doorway, Redegast's black-aproned host ran out with a menu in hand and beat the zombies back, obviously willing to sacrifice his life for his customers. He even closed the wrought iron front gates in order to keep the undead out, and the horde moved on, defeated. I'd expect he got some serious tips.
Zombies continued to gravitate towards cars all the way to Passout Records. Since zombies move slowly and don't pay attention to cross walks any more than other New Yorkers, we clogged up traffic a bit and at least one humorless and hurried citizen lay on his horn, to little avail. That was actually the only person I saw all day that seemed to be genuinely annoyed with the display, pretty much everyone else we passed in a car or on the street responded with positive or at least passive attention, and usually with cell-phone camera in hand.
Walking through Brooklyn brownstones...
It took less than ten minutes to make it to Passout Records, where a band was wrapping up their set. There a grill setup outside with free hotdogs and burgers, which made for a lot of freeform eating by the zombies. At that point some of the mob went back to Duff's to drink and get ready for the spooky cabaret/burlesque show later that night, and some elected to stay for the MC Chris show.
The Gnerd crew had to cut out at that point, but we got a few more pics of the horde outside Passout. One of my favorite things about photo coverage of these events is seeing the different spins on the "zombie look" that people come up with. As with my own costume, I love it when people create outfits that indicate where they were and what they were doing when they got zombified. With that in mind, here is our Zombie Look Book.
Armless Cowboy Zombie. Rodeo accident, maybe?
Doctor Zombie, aka Jay, who's an actual medical professional who made his outfit with actual scrubs. Zombie doctors are great; as anyone who read the first issue of The Walking Dead knows, hospitals are zombie hot zones; people come in who've been bit, then they turn into zombies and bite the doctors...let's just say it goes from bad to worse.
Wedding Party Zombies. Poster Tagline: Till Death DON'T They Part!
A literal take on the iPod Zombie stereotype.
Geek cred alert! "Trogdor's the man! Actually he's the dragon-man!"
Milkman Zombie out of character on Bedford Ave.
Even zombie teeth can't penetrate Mandalorian armor.
Jango says something cool before blasting the zombie horde.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
There's another big problem I see here... Cutscenes just aren't that good. I know I said I was a fan, and I am, but that's because it's easy to swallow bad acting and extreme cheese in two to (gasp!) ten minute bursts. But having to sit through (they are skippable, but c'mon) an entire feature-length movie of bad dialogue, stilted acting and meaningless plot exposition? MORE THAN ONCE IN THE COURSE OF ONE GAME? I've already watched Episodes I-III, thank you very much.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Dead, She Said #1 gets an A from Albo
The more of Steve Niles' work I read the more I like the guy. I picked up 30 Days of Night when it was on the stands back in the day and came away feeling it was a little thin. But Simon Dark, among other things, has made me take another look. This horror noir story starts with a private dick waking up and cracking his way out of rigor mortis... That's right, he's "dead," shot through the belly and he's determined to figure out why. Giant ants may be involved. Smart, original, well worth your dollars.
Reviews for Amazing Spider-Man #560, Mighty Avengers #14, and Fantastic Four #557 after the jump!
The Amazing Spider-Man #560 gets a B from Albo
Not much more to say that I didn't say in last week's review of #559. Just a solid Spidey story from Dan Slott with killer art from Marcos Martin. We learn a little more about "Paper Doll" this week, and she's turning out to be a pretty cool villain. Different, at least. Also this ish contains the return of a major Spidey character we haven't seen since this whole Brand New Day stuff started...
The Mighty Avengers #14 gets a B from Albo
Frank Cho being so slow of an artist forced Bendis to approach his Avengers books in an interesting way--he was trying to thread the two books into one ongoing story, but since Mighty was taking so much longer than New he ended up creating a lot of flashback stories as filler for New in order to keep the books on roughly the same timeline. Well now that's become a real style of his, as most of his Secret Invasion tie-in stories skip around in time more than a season of LOST. I say it works, even if it does get a little tough to put all the pieces together in my head. This ish in particular is about how the Skrulls have approached the "problem" of the Sentry, and it's a testament to the new era of comics that their solution isn't just "hit him really hard," because as we (and they) know, that never works for the bad guys. Well, except maybe Doomsday.
Fantastic Four #557 gets a C from Albo
Ahem. To defeat a giant robot that pummeled every Marvel hero in existence and destroyed dozens of military complexes around the globe, Mister Fantastic builds a bigger robot (which he inexplicably dubs "Anti-Galactus"... wtf?) in an AFTERNOON and bases his whole battle strategy on the ASSUMPTION that the robot's creator included him in a list of people that it couldn't harm. When he could have, oh I don't know, CALLED HER JUST TO MAKE SURE. Lazy storytelling from a guy that's probably too busy out promoting the movie adaptation of Wanted to give a damn. On a positive note, there is a really sweet scene at the end (which I woulda given an "A" if it were a standalone story) where Reed takes Sue out on an anniversary date--back in time to the moment they first met. And as a gift he gets her a ring with a "stone" that's actually a micro-galaxy with "over forty trillion couples ... all loving each other like I love you." What kind of softy have I become when I open a comic and prefer the date scene to the giant freaking robot fight?! Am I losing my Geekanerd touch? Or is Millar just better with character moments than action?
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
DC Prez Paul Levitz remembers Rory
Neil Gaiman on Rory
Warren Ellis on Rory
Matt Fraction on Rory
The Savage Critic talks about Rory
Comic Book Resources' article on Rory
The Comics Reporter tribute to Rory, with memories by Ed Brubaker, Dan Clowes, and others
Rory Root - 1958-2008
A few weeks ago, literary workshop space 826 NYC threw a fundraising event with a hell of a high concept; Dungeons and Dragons....with girls. And while there's always been at least one girl in attendance during any RPG session I've ever embarked on, I can imagine that many DnD aficionados, through little to no fault of their own, have never had the chance to quest with an adventurer of the double-X persuasion. And that is an innuendo as well.
The organizers insured some female attendance by making registration free for girls, and it worked; about a third of the crowd were ladies, it was just like the inclusive nerd paradise I've always dreamed of. A lady-type even won the grand prize of the night; a luxurious golden crown. For the record, I was the first one to die at my table, due to my gonzo warrior playing style.
A few more pictures from the night, including the crowned winner....
It was a strictly 21 and over affair (maybe not that strictly), so the basement-food classics (doritos, pizza and candy) were paired with cans of Bud and bottles of Stella. The alcohol was also a brilliant stratagem on the part of the organizers, because in true 826 NYC fashion, cheats could be bought for "donations" to the charity pot. The more empties that accumulated on our table, the more our party was willing to shell out bucks for the chance to roll do-overs.
Here's our party facing four goblins...this is after I tried to steal from jewels from the eyes of a statue. Now, I personally know you don't do that, but does my character? No. Hence, goblins. That's just how I "roll". (--dies--)*
The winner was the player who had accumulated the most experience points by midnight; and here she is; Tracey, the Monarch of DnD Night! I was at a table with one of her friends (also a girl, and one of the more impressively committed RPers at my table), who took this photo after the big night. That crown was heavy and metallic, not some chintzy plastic thing. Shiny...
*Get it? "DIE-s?"