Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Archive for September, 2013

Sale At The Store

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Over the weekend and into this coming Wednesday the store I work at is celebrating its 38th anniversary serving the Houston community and as part of the festivities we had artist Chris Foreman in the store. I had him hammer out a commission of Captain America eating chips and queso. Well worth it.

Please drop by the store and take advantage of some of our awesome deals. They’ll be going on until the 2nd of October. Get details at https://www.facebook.com/ThirdPlanetSciFiSuperstore

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Pop and Schlock Podcast – Episode 000

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Hey everyone! Remember when I talked about launching a podcast a while back? Well, the first miniature episode went up today, just to get the RSS feed in place and test things out. If you would, head on over to the page and give it a listen, or download the episode directly by clicking THIS LINK.

Thanks a bunch guys!


All-New Marvel Now Includes Relaunched She-Hulk Title

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As I type this I am staring at the ten volumes of the last volume of She-Hulk sitting on my shelf, begging me to re-read them. I consider the run to be the pinnacle of Dan Slott’s career. (Let’s not make this a Superior Spider-Man debate. That book is more of a punchline than anything now, regardless of quality) Well it seems that Chris Soule is stepping up to the plate to take his own swing at writing Jen Walters exploits as the All-New Marvel Now initiative that I mentioned a little while ago is now slated to include new She Hulk series written by the Superman/WonderWoman scribe and pencilled by Javier Pulido. Soule is a good fit for the title considering he ACTIVELY PRACTICES LAW IN NEW YORK CITY.

*Ahem*

Anyway, he had this to say about the series;

“One of the things I want to explore is the fact that she wants to be exceptional at everything she does, but that’s not always possible. You can spread yourself too thin. She’ll be out on her own, without much of a support group at first, a total underdog trying to make good. I love stories like that — Jen’s going to be very easy to root for.”

And now I’m excited and have another book to add to the pull-list. Good job Marvel.

 


Special Edition Review – Sex Criminals # 1

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I spent a good part of my time as a comic book fanatic turning Image Comics into a punchline. We all remember the nineties. Now it has the nostalgic place in our memories the way that previous decades did. You can use the nineties as a period piece now. We’re far enough removed from it to work. The way Scorsese made us look at the seventies and eighties when he made Goodfellas, I can imagine someone doing for the nineties; distilling the time period down to its elements and showing us what we were all too caught up to see. I look at the Image comics output of that era and, generally speaking, it was nonsensical man-child crap that was disposable then and outright embarrassing in hindsight.  So of course as a know-it-all nerd I would joke about how Image was a garbage imprint and that they could never put out anything worth reading. I feel like the last ten years have been a veritable challenge to every notion anyone ever had of Image. Kirkman’s Walking Dead and Invincible were revolutionary. Bendis cut his teeth on Powers there. It has become the creator-owned slice of heaven that the founders of the company intended it to be. Books like Morning Glories, Saga, Lazurus, and Thief of Thieves are the sort of thing that prove creator owned comics can be done to perfection and reinvent ideas associated around a single company. The last ten years have been a controlled burn in making me eat my words about Image as a company.

Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals is going to be another one of those books from Image that makes everyone sit up and take notice. While DC comics relies on gimmick covers to sell books with characters that nobody recognizes and Marvel works harder on mining their character catalog out for TV and Film adaptations, real visual storytelling is taking comics in the direction it needs to go and the one company publishing those books right now is Image. Fraction and Zdarsky give us a book that is unlike anything else on the stands. Visually or narratively, I dare you to find something that compares. The voice of our lead character recounts the story of her oddball sexual education in comedic and dramatic flashbacks that give us a good sense of who she is as a fully realized concept before ever getting to the crux of the book’s premise. We learn that she finds herself stuck in time, a swirling mass of colors and euphoria enveloping her as she reaches sexual climax. This is obviously a frightening and unnerving experience for her, one for which there is no context or assistance readily available. Suzanne is mysterious, and a mystery herself, but she is also fully fleshed out and her quirks and tics seem like logical and organic reactions to stimulus from the character’s background. The dialog that spews forth from her may seem hyper-realistic in the style of a Diablo Cody screenplay at times, but while Juno was just some quirky teenager, Suzanne’s sensibilities and personality traits can be traced back to her childhood trauma. What we see of her is a mix of the shield she puts up to cover her pain and frustration as well as the resigned true self that she tries not to let slip. This is a well written, character-driven book. Matt Fraction has really outdone himself here.

Chip Zdarsky’s artwork makes the book sing though. His artwork is unlike anything you will see at DC or Marvel. His line-work is crisp and doesn’t fall into the overly realistic post-Hitch style that we see so much of nowadays but instead presents us with clean artwork that flows from panel to panel effortlessly. He has a mastery of body language and facial expression that this book requires to truly work. Suzanne emotes more than a little bit with her body and a look in her eyes or the sloop of her shoulders holds as much meaning as any of her dialog. This is a book about sex, after all, and how important are the little details like the positioning of a hand or the angle of someone’s face when trying to convey a sense of intimacy? Zdarsky seems to understand this and peppers the book with expressive, emotive artwork that may not be everybody’s cup of tea but serves this book better than any artist out there right now.

In all seriousness, this is a compelling book. If you like truly well written characters and intriguing stories I suggest you buy this issue. My shop ordered a metric ton of them. Because myself and the store manager believe that the market for good, outside-the-box comics is only growing and we want people to have the opportunity to read something like this at its debut. Don’t kick yourself like you do for not getting in on Walking Dead, Invincible, or Saga at the ground floor. Pick this one up and remember just how engaging comic books can be.

Rating: 10/10


Commissioner Gordon Coming to TV

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With Agents of SHIELD premiering tonight, the news that DC has successfully sold FOX on a Jim Gordon centered television show set in Gotham before the first appearance of the Batman doesn’t seem all that shocking. Details are still coming in but it is known that Bruno Heller from The Mentalist will be handling the show and that it will simply be titled GOTHAM. According to press releases from Deadline the show will follow Gordon who is “still a detective with the Gotham City Police Department and has yet to meet Batman, who will not be part of the series. The Gordon character was introduced in 1939 in the very first Batman comic.”

DC has a good thing going with Arrow on the CW network with a Flash spinoff gearing up. If they can maintain that level of quality at the very least this should be an entertaining show. Let’s just pray it isn’t like that god forsaken Birds of Prey series from a few years ago. I don’t need to deal with that sort of nightmare again.


Review – Marvel Comics : The Untold Story

I have been a comics fan for a long time. I’ve worked in a comic book store off and on since 2006. I like to think I know a little bit about the industry and the community that surrounds it, but the extensive research on display within the pages of this book is so expansive and all-consuming that I found myself completely lost in the information being spilled onto the page. The revolving doors of Marvel’s management, the rise and fall of its star writers and artists, the trials and tribulations of those crushed under the restrictions of work-for-hire agreements; it is all spelled out in meticulous detail.

Author Sean Howe presents a look into the evolution of the comics business in a way that is equal parts documentary and sensationalized narrative. The people who built Marvel; Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Roy Thomas, Gene Colan, Gerry Conway, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Jim Shooter, Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee, Avi Arad, Joe Quesada…all these names come with preconceived baggage for the established comic fan. Within the pages of the book they come to life as if you worked in the bullpen right along with them. The book feels like Mad Men: Marvel Edition at times. As a reader, you get drawn in and start to become emotionally invested in these people, even if you might already know where their story ends.

I cannot recommend this book enough to comic fans, I recommend it equally to anybody who is a fan of detailed history as well. This is just as interesting as any other book chronicling a decades long timeline of a niche element. Culturally speaking, Marvel’s influence is so far-reaching that I cannot imagine anyone not being enthralled by this particular book.

The book also has an internet supplement on Tumblr with pictures and references galore. I would classify Marvel Comics : The Untold Story as a potential rabbit hole that is easy for anyone to tumble down.


Joss Whedon Tinkers With Thor

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We’ve heard about reshoots on the set of Thor : The Dark World, and now we’re hearing via SFX magazine that Joss Whedon has been brought in by Marvel to toy around with certain parts of the film in the hopes of bettering the finished product. They seem to be playing it up as the architect of the Marvel cinematic world lending his golden touch but does it spell larger problems for the Norse sequel? Director Alan Taylor had this to say about the situation;

“Joss came in to save our lives a couple of times,” laughs the director. “We had a major scene that was not working on the page at all in London, and he basically got airlifted in, like a SWAT team or something. He came down, rewrote the scene, and before he got back to his plane I sort of grabbed him and said, ‘And this scene and this scene?’ And he rewrote two other scenes that I thought had problems. Then finally we let go of him, he took off again, and we shot the scenes; and they were just much better and much lighter on their feet. Much more fun, much more surprising than what we had been trying to do. I can relate to guys who come out of the TV world, since that’s where I come from. And being able to land and work and solve a problem quickly… I really was grateful.”

It seems like Marvel wants to do anything they can to make their Phase 2 films work. It feels like they aren’t putting much stock in the creative teams they’ve hired from the outset and prefer to tinker after the fact, which might spell trouble down the line. Let’s hope we don’t hear of the need for similar fixes for Captain America : The Winter Soldier. The last thing we need is a visible pattern.