Friday, September 30, 2011

DC Comics: More Quick Looks

This is the last week of the DC Comics relaunch, and what a month it's been! The move, whether considered good or bad by comics fans, is certainly a bold one, and only time will tell if it was the right one commercially. But as for the comics themselves, how did they turn out? Let's see!


This is the kind of experience you want from a Batman book!  Action, detective work, humor, intrigue, characterization, and a great cliffhanger.  A great #1 issue for new and longtime readers alike!  
Again, a great first issue for the most iconic of all superheroes.  Packed with both action and words--a whole, whole lot of words--I loved this one as well.  I enjoyed this much more than Action Comics. A great book!

Catwoman, while certainly not for the kids, was a fine first issue with gorgeous art from the excellent Guillem March.  I'm interested to see where Selina goes in this series.


Wonder Woman was a title I had great trepidation for, and it was warranted.  Despite writer Brian Azzarello's wish to write the title as a horror story, that's not what I want to see Diana involved in.  She's a superhero.  I'll be passing on this one.

I've never read an Aquaman comic before, but this was a fine one to start with.  Great art, and an Aquaman out to show both the humans in the story and real-life comic fandom that he's a DC big leaguer deserving of respect.  He's earned mine.

Voodoo #1 (image not available): an interesting issue to be sure, again with great art, but with so many comics out there, not one I'm on the edge of my seat to read any further.  Still, this is an interesting title for sci-fi fans.

Batman The Dark Knight #1 (image not available): See my review of Batman #1 above: think of the polar opposite and that's my review of this title.  The less said, the better.

That's the end of my look at the new DC Comics, and it's what I expected: a pretty mixed bag of great, awful, and in-between.  To decide for yourself, look for your local comic shop at http://www.comicshoplocator.com/ or buy a digital copy for your eReader or Smartphone at http://www.comixology.com/.

Please come back tomorrow for the Countdown to Halloween!  The host blog displays all the participating blogs' links at midnight tonight.  There are over 200 of them at last count, but please check out as many as you can (including this one, of course) throughout the entire month of October.  It's a great deal of fun, and that's what Halloween's all about, right?

See you then!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm


It's Tuesday, and that means another forgotten/overlooked/just plain good TV series, movie, or music. Today, since I've been in a DC Comics mood this month, I present the animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.

This was released on Christmas Day 1993, and is set in the same universe as the wonderful Batman: The Animated Series. Here, Batman (voiced by the popular Kevin Conroy) investigates the new villain Phantasm, who is knocking off Gotham's mob bosses. Who is he, and what, if anything, does the Joker (the excellent Mark Hamill) have to do with it? Mix in an old flame of Bruce Wayne (played by Dana Delany) and you have an intelligent, beautifully animated film that beats most live action Bat films.

Here is Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. The last couple minutes are missing, unfortunately, but you can surmise what happens.  I also had to change YouTube accounts at one point, so there is some footage overlap. Thanks!







Monday, September 26, 2011

The New DC Comics: Quick Reviews

Hey everyone! Welcome to a new week, and when it's over, a new month.  That new month would be October.  And do you know what that means?

THE COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN IS ALMOST HERE!!

That's right.  For my third straight year, I will be participating in the multiblog event in which we all post a Halloween item per day (or as close to it as we can get) up until All Hallow's 'eve.  It's a wonderful event that I hope you take part in, if not as a blogger, then at least as a reader.

But first things first...

I've been lax in my reviews of some of the new titles coming out of the "new" DC Comics, and I'd like to get to as many of them as I can between now and the Countdown.  These will be kept shorter than my previous reviews, so without further ado, here they are.


Justice League International #1: What a pleasant surprise this was! As decompressed as Justice League #1 was, this was fast-paced, action-packed, and set things up quickly but fluidly.  We were given the entire team lineup, their first assignment, immediate internal conflicts, and a adventurous cliffhanger in just the first issue.  There is nothing groundbreaking or overly dramatic here, but that's exactly why I loved it.  It was just good ol' fashioned superhero comics, which we need more of these days (not everything has to be The Dark Knight Returns).  As disappointed as I was starting to get in the new titles, this one came at just the right time.  My 2nd favorite title so far!


Swamp Thing #1: I've never read a Swamp Thing comic before, so I thought now was the perfect time to try one.  The art is very good, and the story, while a slow burn until the end, was interesting.  However, there wasn't anything here that hooked me and kept me on the edge of my seat.  This was certainly not a bad comic by any means, but I wasn't competely wowed by it either.  I may not stay with this one much longer.


Batwoman #1: OH HELLS YEAH!!  This was the one I was looking forward to the most, and it didn't disappoint.  This title, delayed for nearly a year after it was first announced, is fantastic from start to finish.  This may not have been the best jumping on point for those who haven't read the character before (as the story wasn't written with the line-wide relaunch in mind), but it gives you just enough of what you need to know.  The character is fascinating, the villain creepy, and the artwork?  Just Google "JH Williams Batwoman" and see for yourself.  Highest possible recommendation!!

Supergirl #1: I'm apprehensive about the reboot of Supergirl, as she was already in a great place creatively before the DC relaunch, thanks to writer Sterling Gates's great work on the character, turning her from an insecure, confused teen girl into a compassionate, confident young woman by the end of his run.  Unfortunately, they are starting from scratch again here, which is a shame.  However, this issue is a great starting point for those unfamiliar with Supergirl, as the issue chronicles her landing on earth and her confusion as to what's happened to her and where she is.  The artwork by Mahmud Asrar is very good, and the story, while not much happens, is intriguing.  I'm curious to see what happens next, which is all you can ask from a #1 issue.

I'll have more on the DC relaunch later this week.  Thanks!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Comic Book Review: Batgirl #1


Peering once again at the newly relaunched line of DC Comics, today I turn my attention to a title I was particularly looking forward to, Batgirl #1.  This was a bigger deal than other titles because this is the debut of the newly unparalyzed Barbara Gordon, who lost her ability to walk due to events in the one-shot comic Batman: The Killing Joke, my alltime favorite comic story.

Unfortunately, my curiosity as to how Barbara regained her ability to walk is still a mystery.  Writer Gail Simone has apparently decided to keep the reason secret for awhile longer to add to the interest of the story, a decision that I believe is a mistake.  Barbara has been wheelchair-bound for 20 years, and I believe to announce with much fanfare that she will walk again and then not reveal the reason in the first issue is a disservice to the reader.  My disappointment in this decision severely limited my enjoyment of the issue.

This is a shame, because despite that, there is much to enjoy here.  Batgirl gives some punk villiains a good ass-kicking, there is a tender scene between Barbara and her father, Commissioner Gordon, and a quirky new roommate for Barbara is introduced that could provide leaded levity in future issues.  I also enjoyed the artwork by Ardian Syaf quite a bit, especially her newly designed costume.



However, the omission of Barbara's recovery was such a blow to me that the issue was difficult to enjoy.  I will try the next issue, but if more substance isn't given as to Barbara's "miracle" (as Barbara calls it), I likely won't be back for issue #3.

Find your local comic shop at http://www.comicshoplocator.com/ or buy digital comics for your computer, iPad, or iPhone at http://www.comixology.com/.

Thanks!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten TV: Homefront



I'm a couple of hours early, but better early than never.  This week's Forgotten TV is the 1991 ABC drama Homefront.

Homefront was a series that focused on a small town's readjustment to life immediately after World War II through the prism of three different families.  Throughout the two-season course of the series, the show tackled several social issues including racism, women's rights, and other societal matters, but also had elements of soap opera.  One of the main stars of the series was recent Emmy winner Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights).

Here is the series first episode.  Enjoy!








Thursday, September 15, 2011

Comic Book Review: Action Comics #1

  

I'm more than a week late with my review of this, but better late than never.  As I did with the newly released Justice League #1, I'm examining the relaunched DC Comics through various titles that catch my eye.  Here, DC once again reboots the Superman mythos and reintroduces the character to the world.   Please read below for my review of the new Action Comics #1! Be forewarned, however, as possible mild spoilers may appear.

This incarnation of Superman, as written by Grant Morrison and penciled by Rags Morales, is a definite throwback to the Golden Age Superman: not nearly as powerful as his later versions, with a rougher, tougher personality and a penchant for being a social crusader, standing up for the little guy against the Powers That Be, even willing to bend the law to achieve his ends (something the Silver Age Supes would never do).

As with Justice League #1, this story is set in the past, 6 months after Superman's first appearance in Metropolis.  Clark Kent is working not at the Daily Planet, but at a rival newspaper.  He is friends with Jimmy Olson, but is, as in decades past, a rival to Lois Lane rather than husband or paramour.  One thing that hasn't changed, however: Lex Luthor remains a hardened nemesis to "the alien," as Lex refers to him (which is not inaccurate). The main focus of the story is Lex's first attempt to catch him, something he is hired to do by the military, led by Lois' father, General Lane.

While there was nothing terribly wrong with the issue (except I found the art lacking, especially with facial expressions), there is something about it that doesn't sit well with me.  That is likely because I don't think Superman needed rebooting--I think he was in a very good place creatively before the relaunch, rendering all of this highly unnecessary.  I don't mind seeing a more rough and tumble Superman, as long as he doesn't become an analog to Frank Miller's version of Batman.  I may just need to warm up to the idea of a freshened-up Superman, but that may take months.  DC will need to wow me with what they have planned for Clark if they want to win me over.




If you'd like to give the new Supes a try, pick up a print copy (3rd printings are on the way) at your local comic shop (which you can find at http://www.comicshoplocator.com/), or download a DRM-loaded digital copy at http://www.comixology.com/.

Up, up, and away!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten TV-Movie: Murder Can Hurt You

It's Tuesday, and therefore it's time for Tuesday's Forgotten TV/Movie/Etc.  My offering today is the comedic TV movie Murder Can Hurt You.

Murder Can Hurt You first (only?) aired on May 21st, 1980 (if I can safely trust the YouTube clip) and is a spoof of the many TV detective shows of the 70s.  Kojak, Baretta, Starsky & Hutch, Columbo, and others are presented here in analogue form, and the film stars many TV personalities of the time, such as Gavin McCloud, Tony Danza, Victor Buono, and Jamie Farr, to name a few.  For some strange reason, and a sad commentary on the way my mind works, I remember seeing this film when it aired.  I was 5 years old, and very foolish.

If you are in the mood for dumb (and I mean dumb) fun, here is Murder Can Hurt You in all it's glory.  Enjoy!










Monday, September 12, 2011

Comic Book Review: Justice League #1



If you're a comic book reader, your well aware of the details of the relaunch of DC Comics.  They're starting with a clean slate (almost) by aiming for new readers via shedding the baggage of the current line (that is, decades-long continuity) and utilizing a more convenient way for readers to purchase comics via digital platforms instead of comic specialty stores that sell print copies (which the general public can't always find).  The first title released in this new era is Justice League, the flagship title of the entire line.  What do I think of it?  Find out now!

I will assume that anyone reading this review has read the issue already, but just in case, I will be spoiling at least some of the issue, so if you want to read the issue but haven't yet, hold off on reading my review until you've picked up the issue.

Those wanting to see the entire Justice League in full action will be disappointed here, as the League has not been created yet.  The story, written by DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, is set "five years ago," when superheroes were just becoming known to the world, and the future members of the League have not yet met.  We only see Batman and Green Lantern in this issue, meeting for the first time, plus a last-page cameo of another Leaguer at the end.  Many readers have a problem with this story structure, but as I expected the story to be this way based on the free preview made available earlier this summer, I have no problem with it. And I'm intruged as to who they have chosen to be the villian, as it's been a couple of years since this villian has appeared.

The dialogue seemed awkward and unnatural, and, for lack of a better term, "dumbed down" to me.  I suspect that writers on these new titles wrote this way intentionally to be more "accessible" to a wider audience, but I think the dialogue just comes off as clumsy, and could potentially turn off a customer.

The artwork, however, is beautiful.  I've only been exposed to Jim Lee's artwork (who is now co-publisher of DC Comics) in the last year, and it is as stunning as I've always heard, so no complaints from me on the art.

In short, the dialogue could have been better, but the artwork is great and the story, while more decompressed than I would prefer, still has my interest.  I'm still curious to see the direction in which the title, and the DC Universe in general, is going.

To purchase a print copy of the issue (now going into its third printing in just two weeks of release), you can find your local comic shop at The Comic Shop Locator. To purchase a digital copy, go to Comixology (note that comics downloaded from Comixology have DRM software attached).

Thanks!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Goofy, "Teachers Are People"

Today is the last day of my Back to School Week, and I close it out with a look at that most important of society roles, the schoolteacher. My wife (who celebrates her birthday today--Happy Birthday, Sweetie!) is a teacher, and I have several friends who are teachers as well, so I have a great deal of respect for the profession.  And I can't think of someone better to demonstrate the qualifications needed for this career than--Goofy.

Here he is in "Teachers Are People."  Or in his case, dogs.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Back to School with the Peanuts Gang!



Wake up, sleepyheads!  We're back to school this week, which may have many of you down in the dumps.  Never fear, the Peanuts gang is here to get you through it.

Everyone loves to make fun of the trombone-sounding teachers from the animated specials.  Now you can enjoy--the remix!



It could be worse--they could have Cameron Diaz's Bad Teacher in charge of their class!



Finally, perhaps no other character has had more of a rough time of it at school than Peppermint Patty.  Here, she headlines an episode of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, the Saturday morning series of Peanuts antics, in all her sleeping glory.



Thanks!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Back to School TV Commercials

Continuing my Back to School Week "lessons", I have some TV commercials which I hope you find as entertaining as I do.

First up: a young goth girl goes shopping for school supplies at Staples with her dad.  But not just any dad!



Not to be outdone, OfficeMax reminds you that they are a great back to school destination.  But don't forget your lunch!



You'd be surprised what materials are necessary for school; you can't just think of pens and pencils.  You need fresh clothes as well.  Thankfully, we have Fruit of the Loom to remind us of that.



That commercial from 2010 possibly inspired this new commercial from Target, and it's my favorite new commercial of any kind in quite awhile.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you--DENIM!



Target also aired some other commercials in their back to school series, including a 2nd grade teacher and everyone's memory of a PE coach!

Finally, a quick but heartwarming commercial, courtesy of the masters of  heartwarming, Hallmark.  You really should do this for your children.  My wife and I give cards to our kids every year on their first day, and it's a small but significant way to show your children how proud you are of them.



That's it for this year's batch.  Thanks!

OK, maybe just a little more denim.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday's Forgotten Film: Three O'Clock High

Hello everyone!  I hope you all had a great summer and Labor Day weekend.  Now it's time to get back to business, back to work, and back to school.  Speaking of which, I'm unofficially declaring it Back to School Week here at the blog.  My two young ones are starting their new school year today, and my teacher wife was back in the classroom last Thursday, so there's no better time to focus on all things scholastic than this week, and we start today with the Forgotten Film Three O'Clock High.

The movie follows high schooler Jerry Mitchell (Casey Siemaszko) as he begins a day of school poorly which only gets worse, when he ticks off the new student bully, Buddy Revell (Richard Tyson), who threatens to beat the crap out of Jerry at three o'clock that afternoon.  The meek Jerry wants nothing to do with the altercation and tries a variety of methods to avoid it, from reasoning with Buddy, to getting himself detention, to hiring someone else to fight Buddy for him, all to no avail.  Jerry has no choice but to face the tyrant himself.  Who wins? Who loses? You'll need to watch to find out.

Fortunately, unlike many other Forgotten Films/TV I've written about in the past, Three O'Clock High is readily available on DVD and Netflix streaming.

Or, you can simply watch it here:








I'll have more back to school goodness all week, so please come back tomorrow.  For more Forgotten A/V, click here.  Thanks!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Muscular Dystrophy Association 2011 Labor Day Telethon


As I do every year, I am supporting the Muscular Dystrophy Association's 2011 Labor Day Telethon.  The organization has done amazing work to not only create a cure for neuromuscular diseases, but also to assist those afflicted with the diseases as well as educate the public on their causes and treatment.

This year will be a turning point for the Telethon, however.  The longstanding chairman of the organization, Jerry Lewis, has stepped down just a few weeks ago and will no longer appear on the telethon.  He was the one that attracted my attention to MDA as a child, as I always loved his goofy antics.  As I've become an adult, I've come to respect the work the organization has done, but it won't be the same without him.

Lewis's absence is not the only change this year.  Instead of a nearly 24-hour telethon starting Sunday night and running well into Labor Day itself, the telethon will only be 6 hours this Sunday night, from 6pm to midnight ET.  It will not appear at all on Labor Day.  That will really be strange for me.

As different as things will be this year, there is one thing that won't change:  the telethon will still entertain, inform, and most importantly, raise money and awareness to fight these terrible diseases, and I'm still happy to contribute.

To learn more about MDA, please click here.

Thanks, and have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend!



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