Sorry to have been away for so long.

Sorry to have been away for so long.

So, I’ve been sort of sporadic about updating the blog because not only have I been busy with school (I get my Master’s Degree in June, hopefully!) but also….it has been Halloween/Comic Convention season during the past couple of months.

If any of you know me, you know what this entails: Lots and lots of time and money spent costuming.

So, I went to Coast City Comicon in Portland, Maine (where I live) and also to Super Megafest in Framingham, Massachusetts. Both were really fun, with Coast City Comicon being a true comic convention while Super Megafest was more of a pop culture convention.

I dressed up as Obi-Wan Kenobi for all of the events and was able to meet some really cool people. Ray Park (Darth Maul from Star Wars: Episode One) stabbed me with my own lightsaber. I taught Ernie Hudson (Winston from Ghostbusters) the ways of the Force. I also got to meet Lee Weeks (Artist from Daredevil) and J.K. Woodward (Dr. Who/Star Trek).

Here are some of the pics to show you how busy I’ve been. 🙂

Me with my friends Spencer Doe (Snake Eyes) and Nicole Marie Jean (Shredder)

Me with my friends Spencer Doe (Snake Eyes) and Nicole Marie Jean (Shredder) at Super Megafest

Me with some other Obi-Wan cosplayers of various ages at Super Megafest

Me with some other Obi-Wan cosplayers of various ages at Super Megafest

 

Me with Ray Park (Darth Maul from Star Wars: Episode One) at Super Megafest

Me with Ray Park (Darth Maul from Star Wars: Episode One) at Super Megafest

Me with Sergeant Slaughter at Super Megafest! He was one of my childhood heroes!

Me with Sergeant Slaughter at Super Megafest! He was one of my childhood heroes!

Lots of other talented Super Megafest Star Wars Cosplayers.

Lots of other talented Super Megafest Star Wars Cosplayers.

Me, teaching Ernie Hudson (Winston from Ghostbusters) some new tricks!

Me, teaching Ernie Hudson (Winston from Ghostbusters) some new tricks!

Me with Slave Leia at Super Megafest

Me with Slave Leia at Super Megafest

Me with Chewie in Salem, Mass

Me with Chewie in Salem, Mass

Me with Boba Fett and a Stormtrooper in Portland, Maine on Halloween

Me with Boba Fett and a Stormtrooper in Portland, Maine on Halloween

Me squaring off against Vader in Salem, Mass

Me squaring off against Vader in Salem, Mass

Me with Strawberry Shortcake in Salem, Mass

Me with Strawberry Shortcake in Salem, Mass

Me promoting artist J.K. Woodward's site as Obi-Wan at Coast City Comicon

Me promoting artist J.K. Woodward’s site as Obi-Wan at Coast City Comicon

The Mandalorian Mercs finally got me as Obi-Wan at Coast City Comicon

The Mandalorian Mercs finally got me as Obi-Wan at Coast City Comicon

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Thor: The Dark World (2013)

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Faced with cleaning up Asgard after Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) treachery in the first Thor film and in The Avengers, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) has a huge task ahead before he can be with Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) on Earth. Between Thor and his flame on Midgard (Earth) stands Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and the remnants of the Dark Elves, who want to return the universe to darkness. With Odin (Anthony Hopkins) wanting to step down from the throne and his brother Loki imprisoned, Thor must find the strength to stop the Dark Elf threat and return order to Asgard once and for all.

The tricky thing about making a Thor film is to not make it like a Superman film. Unfortunately, while this wasn’t the worst film I’ve seen….it’s just not unique enough to truly set it apart from other superhero films in the genre and it’s definitely not different enough from Man of Steel to set it apart from DC Comics’ much more popular, titular character.

The comic book version of Thor really is interesting. He’s noble and follows a code of honor but can also be a real misogynistic asshole. I mean, he’s a viking. He’s a demigod. He’s a womanizing tough guy with a heart of gold, somehow. So what we have in the movie version is a lame, good-looking, soft, warrior-archetype Superman clone with a hammer and an accent.

While I love Natalie Portman, her character in this film (and in the first) is mostly superfluous and unnecessary. It’s a way to tie him to Midgard, but the chemistry and connection between Thor and Jane doesn’t really exist on-screen and so when Thor wants to return to Earth to be with her, it’s just not believable. They should have focused more on his relationship with Sif (who is much more interesting than Jane, and a much stronger woman character). Whatever time Sif and Thor share onscreen is more dramatic and poignant than time spent between Jane and Thor. (I also want to note that people think Jane’s character is a sexist trope, but Thor is a demigod. She’s meant to be smitten by him. Guys would be equally as smitten by Sif if she showed up, as long as she didn’t disembowel them.)

Thor: The Dark World had the promise of being a more rich and intensive film experience than the first film, but really….it sort of fell short. Loki was the one saving grace of the film, not only because Hiddleston is a fantastic actor but because Loki’s character is allowed to roam free in the realm of human morality. Thor has that ability, too. He’s not just a jock with a hammer. He’s not just an alien demigod with a penchant for eating mutton and bedding babes. He’s Thor. He’s badass. Too bad he really wasn’t in this film.

It’s worth seeing at least once to complete the Avengers tie-ins (and it IS Thor), and there’s kind of a weird/creepy/unexpected cameo bit after the credits with someone you wouldn’t expect to see in a Marvel film. It just should’ve been better.

JOE Rating: ★★★

The Sixth Gun – Book One: Cold Dead Fingers (2011)

The Sixth Gun - Book One: Cold Dead Fingers (2011)

 

The Sixth Gun – Book One is a trade paperback which collects issues of the Oni Press comic book written by Cullen Bunn with art by Brian Hurtt.

Six guns with individual arcane powers were found during the American Civil War by General Oleander Hume and distributed among his most trusted (and wicked) associates. Over time, however, one of them – with the ability to grant its wielder visions of the future – disappeared. Then, in a time of need, the gun makes its way into the hands of a young girl – Rebecca Moncrief – who is later joined by a mysterious gunfighter and treasure hunter, Drake Sinclair. The two of them must unlock the secrets of the gun and its origins and figure out a way to lose their pursuers who are none other than a long-dead-but-returned-to-life General Oleander Hume and his posse.

If you know me at all, you know I love comic books and that I also love anything having to do with the American Civil War, so this book was a natural choice for me to check out. I had seen it once or twice and then one of the local comic book guys I know reminded me to try the first volume and I picked it up.

The artwork by Brian Hurtt is really nice and perfect (in my opinion) for the type of story The Sixth Gun is. The writing was pretty decent, too. The story moved along at a nice pace and I never really wanted to take a break. I flew through the first volume and it has a real cinematic feel to it. I’m betting this will be a mini-series or a movie in the future. I liked the characters, too. They never really felt forced and some of them were kind of complex (while others were throw-aways).

If you’re looking for straight-up Civil War action, this book doesn’t have a ton. The Civil War aspect is more just for “flavor” than anything else and provides a bit of context for the story and the world this book is set in. I’m sure if you like magic or fantasy or westerns or steampunk, then you’ll enjoy this.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

X-Men #1 (July 2013)

X-Men #1 (July 2013)

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Creative Team: Brian Wood, Olivier Coipel,

Jubilee is headed to the Jean Grey School For Higher Learning with a special baby in tow, hoping to give the infant the same chance at life she had when she first arrived at the (then) Charles Xavier School for the Gifted. However, she is being tailed by John Sublime, for reasons unknown. Storm, Rogue, and Kitty Pryde move to help her but they don’t realize what’s at stake, for them and for the Earth.

First off, I really dig Brian Wood’s (TMZ, Northlanders) writing. I am currently reading his Northlanders (links to my reviews HERE and HERE) series and so I wanted to give this X-Title a try. I haven’t really gotten into a lot of the newer X-Books, aside from All-New X-Men, but the novelty of an all-female team intrigued me enough to check it out.

Olivier Coipel’s (Legion Of Super Heroes, Thor) artwork is great and it works in concert with Wood’s writing very well. The issue reads somewhat at the same pace as if you were watching an action flick, despite being a little vague and confusing at times, which brings me to…

There were a couple things I didn’t like about it, but they were mostly minor. I think that having an all-female team is interesting, but I can’t help but think about the double-standard being held when almost every other book has to have strong female characters and not just have all male characters on teams. Also, the villain chosen for the X-Men to face in this instance is sort of underwhelming and seems set up (with him being an “attractive” male character, but also being evil) to deliver a sort of girl-power message in the end, after they face him with his slicked-back hair and unbuttoned shirts and all. Sure, this has been done before with the genders reversed (attractive, evil female) but this seems sort of forced, like it’s just because it’s an all-female team that the villain has to be a good-looking dude.

Still, with that said, if they can stay away from the same types of tropes that plague man-centric comic titles, this one should be pretty decent. New takes on team rosters and new group dynamics are always fun to explore within the Marvel Universe. In any case, I hope to give this a chance with a few more issues. So far, I am intrigued and can’t wait to see where the current story arc goes.

This title is an experiment and I think most people will like it well enough if they give it a shot.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Here’s A Sample Page From X-Men #1
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Comic Book Men: Season 1 (2012)

Comic Book Men: Season 1 (2012)

Original Air Date: February 12, 2012
Stations Airing: AMC
Number Of Episodes In Season: 6

Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash is a comic book store located in New Jersey where many familiar faces from Kevin Smith’s films (Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, etc.) are employed. Touted as being unscripted, Comic Book Men centers around the staff’s exploits as well as trying to capture the essence of fanboy culture in the comic book world.

Overall, the first season (and by extension, the show) was interesting. but even though it’s supposed to be unscripted, I can’t imagine that it’s NOT unscripted. Each episode fit neatly into a different theme and many customers came in with items seemingly relevant to the episodes as well. Other reality shows seem to be able to hide the scripted feeling a little better.

The best part of the show is actually the podcast portion, which is usually the only part where you get to see Kevin Smith (for those of you who are fans of his) and is also the only part of the show which feels unscripted and genuine. It’s just a bunch of friends hanging out and talking about geek culture.

Getting to see all the neat back issues and rare toys and artwork is another great reason to watch Comic Book Men. The comic collector in me squeals with joy in seeing the issues that I own being haggled over on television. There is a happy nostalgia and fanboy appreciation that the show encourages and succeeds in fostering.

If you’re a fan of Kevin Smith and/or enjoy Pawn Stars type of programming, or are a fan of seeing comic books and/or toys and artwork, this is the show for you. I will give the second season a chance but I will probably only do so at this point in order to check out all the rare and weird finds.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Trailer For  Comic Book Men

 

Northlanders: The Cross And The Hammer (2009)

Northlanders: The Cross And The Hammer (2009)

Publisher: Vertigo
Creative Team: Brian Wood, Ryan Kelly

Set in Viking-era Ireland, Northlanders Book Two: The Cross And The Hammer, collects issues #11-16 of the DC/Vertigo comic book series written by Brian Wood (DMZ, Demo) and illustrated by Ryan Kelly (Lucifer, The New York Four).

It is 1014 in Viking-occupied Ireland. One lone man, only known as Magnus, refuses to bow to the will of the Viking overlords and is leaving a bloody trail of insurgency in his wake. Magnus has no ties, no weaknesses, nothing to lose…except his daughter Brigid. Magnus’ killing spree and defiance catches the attention of Lord Ragnar Ragnarsson, a forensic specialist and confidant of the King who becomes obsessed with finding Magnus and ending his uprising.

When it becomes apparent that the only way to draw Magnus out of hiding is to provoke him by senselessly murdering innocent Irish families, it sends the two foes into a circle of psychological warfare and intrigue.

I was really looking forward to this volume after having already read Northlanders: Sven The Returned, which was amazing…so maybe my hopes were a little too high.

First off, don’t get me wrong. I would rather read this volume than not read this volume. Northlanders is a great series, and Brian Wood is doing some great stuff. Even the premise of the arc in this volume is decent and had me intrigued, but it all ended up falling a little flat.

Ryan Kelly is a great artist but I was honestly, the entire time, comparing his style (without meaning to) to Davide Gianfelice’s, who did the art for the issues collected in the first volume. In some ways, Kelly’s artwork is better for this Irish story but in others it just doesn’t feel up to par. There was nothing wrong for it save for the flavor, and despite some great splash page work some of it seemed a bit cartoony.

On top of that, I was sort of brought out of the story some by the way Lord Ragnar Ragnarsson spoke/wrote in the way that you might see a character do on an episode of CSI. I kept thinking to myself “This is so modern sounding. WTF is going on here?

Another thing to watch out for is the twist ending. It seems to be all the rage nowadays to give a twist ending on everything, but I don’t think they had to do so, here. It wasn’t super-compelling as it was and then to sort of glaze over it all with a twist ending such as the one found within the pages of this TPB, it just dulled everything down even more.

Overall, I wouldn’t miss this entry into the series, but it could have been much better. I hear that Volume III is, indeed, much better…so I’ll have to check it out. So, give this a read if you follow along but I’m not so sure this will be a favored volume in the series.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Here’s A Sample Page From Northlanders, Vol. 2: The Cross And The Hammer
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Change Is Constant, Vol. 1 (2012)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Change Is Constant, Vol. 1 (2012)

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Creative Team: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, Dan Duncan

This TMNT reboot is set about fifteen months after the Turtles and their master, Splinter, were exposed to some slime which mutated them into humanoids. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Change Is Constant, Vol. 1 collects issues 1-4 of the new IDW series, written by Kevin Eastman (co-creator of the TMNT) and Tom Waltz (Children of the Grave, Silent Hill: Sinner’s Reward) with art by Kevin Eastman (layouts) and Dan Duncan (Hulk And The Agents Of S.M.A.S.H.).

The Turtles, as you knew them, are no more. This new incarnation has the team split up after the ooze transformed them into humanoid creatures, but this time, along with a cat named Old Hob – who may turn out to be the TMNT’s greatest enemy. Raphael is split from the team and has amnesia and the others are searching for him before Old Hob finds him first to settle an old score.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this. I wasn’t aware that it was supposed to be a complete reboot, but with Kevin Eastman involved, how could I say “no” as a true TMNT fan?

I appreciated being able to see Eastman’s influence in the art style as well as on some of the covers and Dan Duncan did a good job trying to emulate the feeling of Eastman’s gritty art. The colors were okay, but they were sort of too muted or not muted enough to be super-effective.

The writing was decent enough, but I have to say that I wasn’t really surprised with where the story took me, even being a reboot. No big surprises, but that didn’t make it unbearable. It was just sort of predictable. (And somewhat anti-climactic.)

All the familiar faces can be found within the pages; Casey Jones, April O’Neil, Splinter, Raphael, Michaelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo.

One thing I didn’t really like, and I need to read further on to make sure I really feel this way for sure, is Old Hob. Yeah, it’s cool to see another humanoid creature running around, especially if it’s an enemy of the TMNT, but Old Hob was not especially intimidating or powerful. Also, I thought it was really weird that nobody cared about a bunch of humanoid monsters walking around.

I’m pretty sure fans of the original TMNT comics might be a bit let down, but c’mon…it’s the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’m sure it will only get better.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Here’s A Sample Page From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Change Is Constant Vol. 1
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