Sunday, February 25, 2007

Jericho Where Art Thou?

Basically, I haven’t been following any primetime TV shows. I’m not doing Lost, Heroes or CSI. Yeah, yeah, but life gets in the way. The one thing I am watching is Jericho, CBS’s post-apocalyptic drama. Sounds funny to have the words post-apocalyptic and drama in the same sentence, but essentially that’s this program’s shtick. It is really bizarre to juxtapose unrequited love and adultery with nuclear fallout and social disintegration but, hey, maybe that’s the appeal for me. I’m what I call a dissonant type of guy. I enjoy putting two seemingly unlike things together just to see what you get. Kinda’ like that Hegel dialectic if ya know what I mean. So, CBS is trying something different, and that is good, right? Sure, I guess.

The show is set in a small Kansas town that looks nothing like Kansas, with residents that struggle to survive the nuking of several major U.S. cities. Jericho’s characters are in the dark about what’s happening outside their one pickup truck berg while interpersonal relationships are pushed to the breaking point. Several characters have shadowy pasts, like Jake, played by Skeet Ulrich, and Hawkins, played by Lennie James. My understanding is Jericho is very Lost-like, but obviously the stakes are much higher as we’re dealing with a huge attack on the good old US of A and not events on some forgotten island. Although, I would say the creators have decided to go light on the nuclear holocaust in favor of soap opera sentiment. In other words, Jericho is like Party of Five meets The Day After.

While trying to do two very different genres in the same show, Jericho just manages to come out on the plus side despite some problems. Strangely, the love and angst tend to be rather predictable and there isn’t enough atomic horror for my fanboy tastes. What holds the show together at this point is the conspiracy of the who, the what, and the why, of the attacks and how the town fits into the scheme of things. Jericho will have to be careful with this though, as an audience can tire of hidden plots that string one along too slowly or for too long. Maybe that’s the reason the show’s creators are infusing it with so much drama. I do think the patience of the audience was finally rewarded with the 12th episode. I now have much more reason to like or be interested in these characters as some secrets and relationships have been revealed in this flashback episode.
The show may fail but I don’t buy “it’s too depressing” line that critics are spouting. After 9-11 and the Iraq debacle, I think Americans can handle a heavy premised program like this. Jericho earned a full season so apparently some folks want a “downer” of show. I genuinely like the actors, especially Ulrich, so if the plots and dialog tighten up we could be in for a good ride. Also, I have a sense after watching episode 12, CBS is willing to spend a little more on the budget. So, maybe I’ll get more of that atomic horror I’m looking for. As big post-apocalyptic fan I’d like this show to succeed. Maybe that’s why I watch it over other programs… …or maybe it’s because CBS had the sense to put it on demand.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Favorite Fictional Black Characters

For Black History Month I thought I would do something completely silly and list some of my favorite fictional black characters. These guys and gals made an impression on me and shaped my view of African Americans for good or ill. Just to be clear, I’m choosing Sci-Fi and Fantasy types of characters otherwise the whole list would be taken up by roles played Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington and Pam Grier. I know I’m missing plenty folks but seeing as how I want to get this out before the end of the month… In no particular order.
Punk Storm: the first X-men comic I read was Uncanny X-men #173. In it Ororo flips out shaves her head into a Mohawk. I grew up with the wild, punk Storm, that’s how I always picture her.

Sinbad’s Black Lightening: On a Saturday Night Live skit mocking the death of superman, Sinbad played Black Lightening, who crashes the solemn dignified ceremony. “I’m Black Lightning. Me and Superman were like that” as he hangs back around the food table eating Buffalo wings. As a college kid I thought, finally somebody gets it. “Man, I’m Black Lightening” (I wish I could find a clip or picture of this of this)

Uhura: OK this is obvious; of course a geeky guy like me would find her memorable duh!

Dr. M’Benga: since we’re on Star Trek, I should mention the good doctor M’Benga. He only appeared on two episodes of Star Trek but I really liked this guy for some reason. Maybe because he was a normal, well-spoken, intelligent Blackman, I remembered him. There weren’t that many on TV back in the day.

Fat Albert: Hey hey hey, this was the animated character that taught the other Cosby kids and me that there is nothing wrong with being bi-racial. What great message for a 7yearold!

John Stewart Green Lantern: long before the Justice league cartoon I was a big fan of this guy from the comics. He’s my favorite Green Lantern, ‘cause John gets the job done and gets the girl without all the angst stuff that the other GLs spew.

Zula: In some ways the opposite of Conan, who he adventured with in Marvel Comics’ Conan the Barbarian, Zula was of Royal blood and reluctantly educated in the ways of sorcery. He was the equal of Conan in battle and was the last of his tribe. Plus, he had a cool Mohawk. (I’m seeing a theme here).

Zoe: Firefly and Serenity created many memorable characters but none more memorable than rip-roaring; ex-career military turned privateer Zoe Washburne. She’s Tough as nails, cool as ice, and gave many a nerdy white guy hope.

The Duke of New York, “What did I teach you…?” If you don’t know this pre-chef role by Isaac Hayes, shame on you.

Mr. Glass, We always have folks teaching us how to be heroes. Well, now finally we have someone who really gave us a lesson in what it means to be the ultimate villain.

More than Honorable Mention:

Static Shock: good superheroic fun

Blade: the first successful Marvel Comics movie franchise.

Dr. Stephen Franklin: My favorite character on Babylon 5

Foxy Love: She makes me laugh… a lot

Geordi La Forge: I always rooted for this guy to get laid

Lando Calrissian: for the hilarious pseudo rant in Chasing Amy.

M’Shulla : 1st interracial kiss (and relationship?) in a mainstream color comic

Teal'c: Large and in charge

Frozone: everything about the Incredibles was awesome including Frozone


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Transformers... share the love

I found this transformers pic on the web. "Transformers... hot robot action in disguise." Hardy har har… Now I know why these toys were so popular. What's the jeep guy's name... hard charger?

Anyway, for all you Transformers fans the live action movie will be released on July 4th. Looks like it’s gonna be horror/action, at least that’s what the preview shows and we know how accurate previews can be. Although I don’t have much invested in the Transformers film, I hope it will be good. It seems like most live action film adaptations of cartoons are terrible. Animation fans have been screwed before. (Ha ha get it?)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Portland Comic Book Show

Always underwhelming but worthwhile if you’re looking for bargains; the Portland Comic Book Show made a brief appearance today as it usually does about twice a year. I don’t often go to these things much anymore except to meet the occasional guest. See the thing is this comic show is always held in the aging Memorial Coliseum where the Trail Blazers used to play eons ago. The place looks like a dingy, dirty dungeon with an off-white asylum paint job. It’s really not a pleasant place to be. Plus there aren’t any events. It’s just kinda’ a flea market stuck in hole. Now I’m sorry for ragging on Second Genesis, I know they work really hard to bring guests and dealers to town, but there is the brand new Oregon Convention Center one bus stop away. Why isn’t this show being held there? It’s nice, clean, has windows, and has proper facilities, like elevators for folks in wheelchairs or with baby carriages. Now it is probably supposed to be an issue of saving money but a nice atmosphere really makes a difference. I always wonder how many guests decided never to come back because the space is so uninviting. The Stumptown Comics Fest has only been around for three years and they managed to move into the convention center last year, so I don’t see why the Portland Comic Book Show can’t either. I think it would attract a lot more people including street traffic.
“Phew” sorry for griping it is just something that has been bugging for a while. But the big reason I went was to meet Andy Mangels. He’s a great, talkative guy who wears many hats. Mostly known for being a writer of Star Trek books, Andy also directs and writes material for DVD projects. Many Saturday morning favorites of yesteryear have been coming out with fantastic bonus material thanks to Andy. I’ve got a few of ‘em like Flash Gordon, Blackstar, the Animated Star Trek, and Dungeons and Dragons.
I asked Andy a few questions and he was really great about providing answers. He had a hard time choosing his favorite DVD project but mentioned Ark II as a real treat to work on, as it had always been a favorite show of his. Additionally Andy said he feels that the Prince Valiant boxed sets are the most underrated because despite being a children’s show they had many adult themes, included faithful elements from the comic strips and interesting twists on the King Arthur mythology. Mr. Mangels felt Dungeons and Dragons had the most bonus features and he was pretty excited about the Lone Ranger, Zorro, Jason of Star Command and Isis sets due this year as well.
When I asked about when Tarzan (one of my favorite cartoons) might come out, he informed me that it looks good but his group has to jump through a few more hoops to get the rights straightened out. But the best news of all: There is a good chance he’ll be doing Thundarr, (my favorite cartoon ever) although it might take some time. Andy said: “I know there is a lot of demand out there!” Boy, is that an understatement. I sure hope he gets to do the Thundarr DVD since his bonus features have been really stellar.

Michael Eury was another guy I was eager to meet. A long time comic writer Eury currently edits Back Issue a comics magazine. It’s quite a wonderful periodical published by Twomorrows which explores different aspects of comic book history using a well thought out departmental approach. I told Mr. Eury that I found Back Issue a rare pleasure because most other comics’ publications are rather boring to read, while his magazine is informative and fun. He really took that to heart and said he and his staff work really hard to find a good balance between history and entertainment.

Here’s a shot of Colleen Cover and Paul Tobin creators of Banana Sunday. I could be wrong but they look like the have a very fulfilling love life.

Here’s David Hahn who was gracious enough to appear in my documentary Portland Comics a few years ago. He had many wonderful pages of art for sale, which I could not afford to buy.

Darren Davis represents Blue Water Productions. They’ll be publishing comics based on undeveloped Ray Harryhausen stories including a sequel to Clash of the Titans titled Wrath of the Titans. Mr. Davis was nice enough to let me look at scanned images of the art. Looks good!

They had some Star Wars reenactors (can’t remember the group’s name). The cool thing was that they only portrayed original trilogy characters and none of those crappy prequel losers. The bad thing was I was using a borrowed camera so I screwed up most of the shots. Got a few of the Stormtroopers though.

It was funny because I ran into a drooling She-Hulk’s Bitch ‘cause he scored a huge stash of She-Hulk comics. I'll have to borrow them some time if the pages aren’t stuck together. (ha ha)

After the show I went with family for Dim Sum to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bands I Missed: Shonen Knife

I’m starting a new topic that I’ll come back to occasionally called: Bands I Missed. I’ve never been very good about looking for new music, going to concerts, or following up on bands that I might like. So there has been a lot good stuff that I missed out on. Of course with the web being as it is today, it is easy to sample, or stumble across something. So first up is: Shonen Knife.

This Japanse girl-group has been around since ’81 but didn’t start making waves in the US until the late ‘80s. Shonen Knife is kinda’ like the Ramones (which Shonen Knife are big fans of) in that many famous bands site them as an influence and admire their music, but the girls have never had a huge smash hit. The gals of Shonen Knife are innovators if not household names though. Their favorite music includes girl groups of the 50’s and 60’s and punk rock. It makes for a delightful mix of pop sentiment and punk honesty. I like to think of them as Go-Go Punk or Kitsch Punk. If Devo exposes the darkside of our pop culture than maybe Shonen Knife is the light. I have seen their CDs around over the years but I never picked one up and I really regret that now. College would have been so much better with Shonen Knife blasting from the Stereo.

Oh and because you might be wondering, shonen means ‘boy’.

Here is the first song I came across called: Riding the Rocket. It is a really fun song with great hooks. Also, the video has, what I consider, one of the most important pop images of all time… Godzilla with Mickey Mouse ears!

Join me in checking out more Shonen Knife!


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Is he strong? Listen Bud, He's Got Radioactive... WHAT!?

Getting the story from Redhead Fangirl’s blog, Evidently Spider-Man’s baby batter is radioactive… Huh… …not only that, it gives Mary Jane cancer and kills her! Blagha...! I think I just failed my sanity roll. This is not a joke this is an actual storyline from Marvel in Spider-Man: Reign #3. Who in their right mind at Marvel Comics ever thought this was a good idea. Is Joe Quesada on crack…?! I feel, now more than ever, that the opinions I expressed about Marvel in a recent post are justified. Justified beyond what I could have ever conceived of. Here’s a quote, provided by galleycat, from the comic:

“The doctors didn't understand how it happened! How you had been poisoned by radioactivity! How your body slowly became riddled with cancer! I did. I was... I am filled with radioactive blood. And not just blood. Every fluid. Touching me... loving me... Loving me killed you!”

No more BJs from MJ… right Marvel. But you see, Spider-Man: Reign is set 35 years into Spider-Man's dark future, Manhattan is a police state, masks are illegal and blah blah blah… who cares. Marvel’s ‘creators’ certainly don’t. I could go on with my rant and rave but I think what Bahama'at said on this thread at sums it up nicely:

”I am increasingly of the mind that the "business plan" for Marvel looks like a 35 year old man sitting in child's sandbox, making mud pies out of his own diarrheic feces while screaming "look at me! look at me! look at me!" with a look of desperation and hubris in his eyes.”

Superheroes giving their wives cancer from radioactive jisim is horrible storytelling and it shows only contempt by the current team for Spidey and his fans. You’d think that the folks at Marvel, whose jobs depend on Spider-Man remaining a viable property, would have said no to this one, but alas they did not. Well, I’m saying no. Good-bye Marvel. See ya again when you have folks who work there that actually give a rat’s ass about the Marvel Universe… but wait; I’ve almost totally abandoned Marvel already anyway. There’s nothing left for me to quit… except for… She-Hulk. Gah!

Well, OK maybe I’ll still get She-Hulk. It’s the last Marvel title that I’ll still buy, but if she starts killing her lovers with Gamma queffs I’m gone for good. Hey, maybe Spider-Man should have been boinking She-Hulk. She’s already radioactive.

“I wish I knew how to quit you Shulkie!”

Tag You’re It! …ah… Huh?

The picture is from artwork used in my documentary titled Portland Comics. I directed and co-edited it. My show concerns the amazing comic community/scene in Portland Oregon. I interviewed folks from Dark Horse Comics, Top Shelf Productions, and Mercury Studios, along with several individual creators and local characters. With this doc, I was attempting to get at what makes Portland such an epicenter for comic books and comic culture.

It was competed in 2005 and was shown at the Longbaugh Film Fest and the 2005 Stumptown Comics Fest. The few folks who saw it seemed to like it well enough. I never submitted it to any other film festival. Hmmm maybe I should do that.

The two characters represent the diversity of Portland; an urban Asian guy and a cool riot grrl show their disappointment over the quality of mainstream comics. With a name like “Hero Guy” it has to be good. Right?

Also, I’ve been considering starting a blog about the Portland Comics Scene someday… Selba has unknowingly forced all kinds of things for me think about.

Oh and ah...

Dean Wormer


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Savage She-Hulk Sensations

I was at a bookstore a while ago, doing what geeks do… perusing the trade paperback comics for anything new, interesting, and/or affordable when a man about my age brought his, I’m guessing, six year old kid over. This guy seemed pretty respectable i.e. he didn’t have the stereotypical traits of regular comic fans, but he was real keen on showing his kid the Hulk. Luckily his son was into it. Strangely as soon as he found the required Hulk books, he wanted to leave. He was embarrassed to be seen in the comic section, imagine that. Mr. Respectable was telling his kid “let’s go” when his child noticed an odd item on the shelf. “Hey, there’s a She-Hulk,” he said. “Dad did you know there was a She-Hulk” he continued on with a big grin. His Dad was like “Uh, that’s silly. Let’s go.” With a big smile, the kid muttered loudly “She-Hulk” one more time before being hauled away by his dad, with the manly regular Hulk in his hands. I thought to myself: well, She-Hulk is kinda’ amusing to say out loud, and I still remember the “funny” feelings I got as kid staring at her gorgeous green body. So, I guess I could understand the boy’s interest.

Pondering the womanly greenness that is “shulkie” (her sometimes nickname) I realized: “Wow, I’m not reading any other new Marvel Comics but She-Hulk.” How did that happen? I was a real Marvel zombie, a total freak about Spiderman, the X-men, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four. How was all that passion reduced solely to the jade giantess? I’m still buying collections of old stories occasionally, but what is it about She-Hulk that keeps me reading now?

Well when it comes to Marvel Comics this comment last year by Andrew Wheeler really describes the malaise I have. He’s feeling the same thing I’m feeling. Basically, they’re screwing up their established characters with bad writers and crappy shock value events. The present guys at Marvel are supposed to be stewards of pop mythology but they don’t really understand or respect the superhero characters they’re entrusted with. Spiderman just exposed his secret identity for goodness sake. Lame-ass writing has driven me away. A character should always be fun to read no matter how weird or dorky. If not, it’s the fault of the writers and editors and not the fault of a fictional character. A good analogy is the Hulk film; Ang Lee completely missed the point of the Hulk’s story and spewed some boring crap on the screen. So too has Marvel spewed unto their comics of late. So, I understand why I’m not into Marvel anymore, but why is She-Hulk keeping me involved? Maybe I gotta’ take a quick look at her past.

She-Hulk has a long history at Marvel Comics but not nearly as long you might think. You see, She-Hulk 1st appearance was in her own title The Savage She-Hulk in 1980. Her creation by Stan Lee and John Buscema was the culmination of several things. The first being licensing issues. It seems that Marvel realized that they needed to secure the rights to the female version of the Hulk, much like they did a little earlier with Spider-Woman. But more importantly they realized that Marvel had no strong major female characters, at least not ones exclusively on a team. She-Hulk, Spider-Woman, and Ms. Marvel were attempts to bring some gender balance to the Marvel Universe.

She-Hulk, whose real name is Jennifer Walters, started out as a lawyer but was gunned down by the gangsters for her efforts. Her cousin Bruce Banner, AKA the Hulk, gave her a blood transfusion to save her life. The side effect of this was that Jennifer started transforming into a muscle-bound, green giant during moments of stress just like the Hulk. Strangely, her
torn clothes still managed to barely cover her naughty bits though. After a short while, She-Hulk was able remain in control of herself while in green form and came to see her situation as a blessing rather than a curse. Unlike her cousin Bruce, Jennifer reveled in the increased power and fought the bad guys with a cheery disposition. Wow, now that’s subtext! A messed up guy who transforms into a child-like brute gives some of his body fluids to his female cousin. She catches his “illness” but is able to control it unlike the man that gave it to her. She enjoys the freedom and power it gives her and so she goes off and has a great, well-adjusted life while her male cousin feels guilty about cursing her. Phew! Ok… I feel dirty now.

Her series, The Savage She-Hulk was cancelled after two years but someone had the good sense to have her join the Avengers rather than let her fade into obscurity. She was a good fit for the team and added sexiness, sassiness and female strength to their adventures. Eventually, she switched teams and replaced the Thing on the Fantastic Four for a time during the celebrated run on that title by writer/artist John Byrne. Proving her versatility and spunk as a character She-Hulk fit right in again. Of course Byrne’s curvy drawings of her greatly added to She-Hulk’s appeal. Even more fans took note and She-Hulk became quite popular during her FF stint. I think my fondest memories of her come from this set of adventures, Va-va-voom.

After FF, She-Hulk got her own series again titled The Sensational She-Hulk. Byrne took unusual artistic license with her new comic and had the jade giantess break the fourth wall, possibly because of the goofiness of her name and origin. She was constantly talking to the reader, expressing her concerns and joking about the absurdity of her situation. Basically, she was aware that she was in fact a comic book character. It was because of Sensational She-Hulk, that Jennifer gained notoriety as a comedy character. Her odd adventures included all sorts of weirdoes like , Xemnu the Titan, the Headmen and outer space truckers. Sensational She-Hulk ended up being one of the most successful solo female superhero books at Marvel.

She-Hulk in her latest series, titled simply She-Hulk, works as Lawyer again and continues to have all sorts of zany adventures. The breaking of the forth wall has been toned down but it is still apparent if you look for it. Also, commentary about how stupid the Marvel Universe has become in the last few years creeps in as well. A good example includes bringing back the popular character Hawkeye from the dead via time travel after his pointless death. The current writer, Dan Slott, has really done a bang-up job balancing the comedy, action and emotional drama. In fact She-Hulk had been cancelled but the title was restarted do to his determination and deft plotting. The amazing comic book covers have to be mentioned as well for their outright sexiness and hilarity.

So obviously I’m buying She-Hulk because it is well written and illustrated but I think it’s more than that. You see, looking at her history, I realize that She-Hulk is really the modern super heroine next door. What I mean is, she’s familiar to me, she’s of my generation. She-Hulk acts like gals I know and thinks like somebody who came of age in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. She isn’t a stuffy goddess like Wonder Woman but a modern lady with a job. She’s a post-feminist hero, so her powerfulness appears natural and her story seems fresh. She’s a great foil to all the manly über-jocks comics have put forth. In fact her superheroic trysts are near legendary and her boyfriends can barely keep up with her. I dunno, maybe She-Hulk is a PG “superhero gone wild,” so to speak. To put her in personal terms She-Hulk is my Buffy. She’s strong, smart, funny, athletic and hot. So why wouldn’t I still be reading She-Hulk, she’s the only Marvel superhero left worth reading… But then again maybe I’m full of crap, and its “Shulkie’s” luscious green skin that still gives this fanboy the those “Funny feelings” after all these years.


Sunday, February 11, 2007

I Love you Dr. Zaius!

I'm sure you know about the Simpson’s Planet of the Apes parody. Now smustryder has posted his live action cut on youtube. This thing is so dam funny. I haven’t laughed this hard since I heard about psychopathic diaper wearing astronauts. You’ll love it. I sure did! Ha ha ha…

Speaking of love and Dr. Zaius, you can ask the old, curmudgeon orangutan for advice about your love life at this site. You have to email him your questions. It is a riot to read. Check out this sample:

My boyfriend and I had sex in his car... and then the next day... he doesn't know if he's in love with me... what should I do?

Dr. Zaius Replies: Ha! This should not surprise you. Realize that no matter how much sex you give a male human, he will not love you. If you are concerned with using sex to keep this male for a long term relationsip, this will not happen, especially if you give him sex in the back seat of his car.

See what did I tell yeah.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Let's drop some Star Trek man!

Every once in a while somebody posts a video on youtube that's just good fun. This must be shared. Jefferson Airplane meets Star Trek. It all makes sense now. Great Job starcrossedgirl!


Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The best joke I've heard in a long time.

The radio was on at my workplace when a DJ said...

"How do you know an Astronaut is trying to kill you?

...They're wearing diapers!"

Needless to say I lost it... I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. I can't wait for the TV movie. That must have been some badass bonking by William Oefelein for Lisa Nowak to nuts and throw away her whole life like that! Here is a link it you need it. This bizarre love triangle meltdown sounds like perfect fodder for a blog titled Atomic Romance. YEE-HAHHH!

I just had to add this weird animation... more laughs... disturbing laughs... YEE-HAHHH!