Friday, March 27, 2009

My New Comics

This week’s best cover is Showcase Presents Ambush Bug. I love how DC made the big three green for this cover as they weren’t on the original Action Comics 565.

Star Trek The Next Generation: The Last Generation #6, IDW. Meh, It looks like they didn’t know how to end this thing, so they just did.

The War That Time Forgot #11, DC Comics.

Trade Paperbacks:
Showcase Presents Ambush Bug DC Comics. It’s Here! All the Ambush Bug goodness from the1980s and early 1990s stories. BTW, what the hell happened to issue #6 of the Ambush Bug Year None miniseries?

Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941 Fantagraphics. In your face golden age stories by some of the greats of comic book history but with forgotten characters that weren’t quite so great (although I've got a special place in my heart for Basil Wolverton's Space Hawk). I love this because it’s a time of experimentation. The writers and artists are learning their craft and there aren’t any established rules yet. Sure to please fans of “I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets.” It also has an excellent introduction by Jonathan Lethem. For more see here.

Back Issue #33 TwoMorrows Publishing. The teen heroes issue. I’m not all the excited about this issue but it does have an article on Power Girl. Finally I’ll have some clarity on her mixed up back-story. Oh and Nova is in here too.

Update: Rob! pointed out that he had has a piece published in this issue of Back Issue #33. Its about the Teen Titans Megos. It was the first article I read and I didn't even pay attention to who wrote it! How cool and stupid is that!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Moody's Photo Tag

Moody Minstral tagged me way back in February. Better late than never... Gulp! (His post is really sweet so make sure you check out the link)

Anyhoo, I'm supposed to go to my photo archive, look in the fourth folder, post the fourth photo in it, and talk about it. Then I tag four more folks.

I was really happy that the picture ended up being quite interesting and comic book related rather than something lame. What's even better is that this picture was taken during my honeymoon. Ironic that Moody, who is in Japan, tags me and its a picture from my first trip to Japan.

In December 2002, I snapped this shot during a quick stop at Osamu Tezuka World, in Kyoto Station (for a good blog post about it see here). It's a smallish attraction dedicated to the god of Japanese comics (yes they really call Mr. Tezuka the god of Japanse comics. In the states, godfather of manga might be a better translated title). The statue in the image is Princess Sapphire from the manga and anime series Princess Knight. It's a lovely little children's story set in a fantasy middle-age setting. It's one of the manga grand-master's more famous works after Astro Boy (Atomic Boy), Phoenix, and Black Jack although it has a much more spotty release history in the United States, sadly. I wasn't familiar with PK before I went to Japan, so it was nice to be introduced to her and to other Tezuka characters that aren't as famous in the US. Going to Osamu Tezuka World was kinda a booby prize for not being able to go to the The Osamu Tezuka Museum in Takarazuka which is outside of Osaka.

It's important to note that Osamu Tezuka's impact on Japanese comics and animation is incalculable. Everything goes back to him. All the norms in Japanese graphic-storytelling from big eyes and fantasy/sci-fi lead straight to him. In America, he's often called the Japanese Disney, which chaps my hide, because, one, he's his own institution and two, the analogy is not encompassing enough. Tezuka is more like the Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Walt Disney, Chuck Jones, Harvey Kurtzman, Stan Lee, Tex Avery, Max Fleischer, Wally Wood, Jerry Siegel, and Joe Shuster of Japan (and few more names too). I'm really happy that his entire legacy of characters and stories is finally being released in the states in total. FYI, BlackJack happens to be my favorite work by Osamu Tezuka.

Way back when when Mrs. Swinebread and I were planing our trip to Japan, I really wanted to see Kyoto because of its historical importance and landmarks. Unfortunately, at the time we went (December) three of the major attractions I wanted to see were closed, The Golden Temple, Nijo Castle, and Toei Movie Land. This was a hugh disappointment. I didn't even consider that such a thing might happen because in the states lots of folks have vacation during the Xmas season so most attractions are open. On the plus side, the temples and shrines that were open weren't very crowded and so we had a much more peaceful time than we could have exploring these national treasures. My wife has been to Kyoto three times now, and every time the The Golden Temple has been closed. I guess we'll have to go back again someday... maybe with Swinebread Jr!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Star Trek Crew Review

When Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry introduced the first pilot, "The Cage," to NBC executives in it's said that the network hated much of what they saw. The network made two demands of Roddenberry if they were going to allow the show to move forward. The first was that he "lose the guy with the ears." The second was that he replace the actor playing the second in command of the Enterprise, Majel Barrett, with a man.

This was 1964 and the idea of a woman in a position of leadership, even if it was an imaginary future, was absurd to the old men who ran NBC. Roddenberry was able to keep the character of Spock but had lose Barrett's "Number One." Because Gene Roddenberry married Majel Barrett shortly thereafter she is often said to have joked about Gene's choice "kept the Vulcan and married the woman, 'cause he didn't think Leonard would have it the other way around."

IDW and writer John Byrne in particular been on a roll with their Star Trek comics this past year. Byrne is one of the first Trek comic writers in a long time that actually "gets" the original series. He has an understanding of the universe but, most importantly, an ear for the characters which makes his dialog shine.

When I heard that IDW was going to do a mini series based on the nameless first officer Majel Barrett played in the "The Cage" I was in at the premise. This comic did not disappoint.

The story follows Number One as she joins a small crew of cadets for a shakedown cruise of a new constitution class cruiser.

Of course things quickly go wrong for the these cadets and they find themselves in a life and death struggle. There's a very high body count in this story, with few of the crew making it through.

Number One is an action hero here in the Trekian sense. She works outside of regulations, operating on hunches. She kicks ass in hand to hand combat. She saves the ship and honorably gives the credit to someone else.

There's an excellent little side mystery on earth that involves the bodies of one of the cadets who died in a creative and rather horrible manner. The investigators on earth figure out what's going on about the same time Number One does back on the ship.

The artwork hearkens back to the 70's with a neat retro feel. I love the little details such as the lamp dealies hanging off the helm (see photo below) that the artist includes.

There's very little I didn't like in this comic. There is a bit of the George Lucas shrinkage problem that's been showing up in Trek in that everything has to be tied to the Enterprise in some way. Stories about other ships would be okay once in a while.

But these are minor quibbles in what was really an excellent read. Still not convinced? You can read the first four pages of the comic here.

This is a scotch n'cigar comic.

- Dean Wormer

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Battlestar Galactica Finale

Oh I get it. Kera came back from the Ship of Lights, the phantom Baltar and Six were Seraphs, and the Japanese are making Cylons. Domo arigato Captain Apollo! Nice nod to the original show. Too bad the Classic BSG haters will never get it. Heh heh Heh.

Hey maybe Daniel could Count Iblis. heh heh heh

Oh and Overdroid.. you're barely a Cylon at all so suck it!


Friday, March 20, 2009

My New Comics

This week’s best cover is The Amazing Spider-Girl #30.

Fall of Cthulhu: Apocalypse #4, Boom Studios.

Red Sonja #42, Dynamite Entertainment.

Kull #5, Dark Horse.

The Amazing Spider-Girl #30, Marvel Comics. The final issue. I picked this up because, in a way, it’s the last 80s comic book. Think about it. Tom Defalco, Ron Frenz, & Sal Buscema… Plus, Peter and Mary Jane have a baby boy… how could I not get this one. The end of an era.

And last week I picked up
Walking Dead #59, Image Comics.

I saw Watchmen last week, twice actually. The first time I wanted to see it on my own terms so I went to a Wednesday matinee alone. Before the previews, I took particular delight in passing the time by reading a section of the Ten Cent Plague. With Watchmen coming to the screen, it felt as if the damage done by the comic book witch hunts of the 1950s was finally being lifted… at least creatively, but I digress.

That first viewing of the film was transportative. I didn’t come away thinking Watchmen was a perfect film. But I feel that I had seen as good of an adaptation as anyone could have pulled off. I was in a highly meditave state when I left the theater, something I hadn’t felt since… well…Groundhog Day of all things. I couldn’t stop thinking about the film and the comic. Then on Saturday, I went again with the wife and saw the movie on it’s own terms. Nobody walked out of either showing. No one bitched about the film and no dumbass brought preteen children to the movie. Mrs. Swinebread was lost, unfortunately, but that was more due to the fact that English is not her first language. She did like the fact that it was an adult film and she thought it was great that it didn’t have happy ending. She is Japanese after all.

There is so much to discuss about Watchmen that I could never mention it all but let me start with a that fact that Zack Snyder was screwed. If he adapted Watchmen for a general audience then the fanboys would rebel and tank the film. If he made a more direct adaptation of the comic then general audiences would be easily confused and the risk of financial failure looms. Snyder went with the latter, and I see it as the only real choice. And for the record I think 300 is an awful movie (although it’s not too bad if you think of it as a joke or a parody film).

There are several controversies that I feel I must address. The first, of course, is Dr. Manhattan’s Penis. All I can really say is “GROW THE F UP.” Seriously, folks need to get over their puritanical prudery. A naked man doesn’t equal porn. We’ve had full frontal female nudes in film for forever and now we get one CG cock and the whole world ends just because immature folks can’t stand the sight of the male member. This film has adult content. What a surprise, it is rated R. I take particular delight in hearing stories of families having to race out of the theater because their kids saw Dr. Manhattan’s wang. Rated R means rated R. If you are gonna get upset about something, then get upset about fact that one of the characters guns down a pregnant women. A funny thing is that I’m starting to see more positive comments from women about Doc M’s nudeness.

The sex scene on the owl ship is was probably too long and yes the Shrek song didn’t help sell the scene. I would have preferred a sweeter, more romantic coupling. I do understand what Zack was going for though. There is an unrelenting darkness to Watchmen and I think he was taking the time too lighten things up a little, plus if I thought the world was really gonna get nuked soon I’d be having raunchy sex in an owl ship too if I had one. I’m not defending Zack’s choice here but I do understand where he’s coming from.

It’s too violent? Zack likes his violence hardcore and so punched up the gore in several scenes. The brutality is all there in the GN but it isn’t as graphic as Zack makes it out to be. I didn’t have a problem with it personally except when Dr. Manhattan splattered the gangsters onto the ceiling. That distracted from the plot. There is a certain horror to the violence in the Watchmen comic but most of that horror happens in the mind of the reader. Zack tried to bring that same sense of horror by clearly displaying the awfulness of it directly. Of course there were no bodies in New York so that’s one point that went the other way. While shocking I was pretty neutral about it.

Is it’s too dark? A lot of folks complained that it was much too awful for a superhero movie. I recognize it is a downer of story but folks are bringing a lot of cultural baggage of what constitutes a comic book movie and what doesn’t. There’s a whole universe out there in the world of comics waiting to be discovered and it’s time for folks to look passed the X-men movies. That said, WB did market the film as a regular superhero flick in the vain of Dark Knight.

The ending was changed. Not a big deal. I was pretty neutral about it. The Squid would not have translated to the screen and would not have been understood or accepted by a mainstream audience. Plus, just think of all the exposition that would have been added to the film. *Shudder* Dr. Manhattan is the only preternatural thing (besides Nixon’s nose) in the film and to introduce a fake preternatural alien would have been too much.

It should have been updated? Oh Please, this is simply laziness on the part of some of the younger folks in the audience. It’s the same old “the past is not real and so has no significance” rant. Part of the problem here is that most folks don’t know a thing about history and don’t want know. Watchmen is a very complicated story moving through different eras but I guess some in the audience couldn’t tell the difference between 1985 and 1945. Detaching Watchmen from the events that shaped the America in the 20th century renders the story pointless. Plus, the Watchmen narrative is a cracked mirror of comic books trends and stereotypes from the 1940s to the mid-1980s.

Things I liked:

The attention to detail was fantastic. I got Blade Runner vibes.

Of course, Jackie Earle Haley was great as Rorschach

The Silhouette’s V-J Day kiss!

Sticking as closely as possible to the comic.

All the stuff with Molock

The Sally Jupiter Tijuana Bible… it’s all gravy after that

I liked most of the stuff with Janey Slater

The opening… but everybody liked that

People are reading the comic… that’s cool and the best thing about this whole project

Things I didn’t like:

The music choices were not the best. I know zack was trying to make it feel like the time period but some of it didn’t work. As a good score would have been better. Did I mention the Shrek song?

The two lead gals acting wasn’t quite up to snuff.

There were some problems with tone. Zack sometimes has trouble capturing those softer moments.

Ozy’s exposition about himself didn’t work.

Having Janey Slater show up and say I got cancer was sorta off… although I understand Zack was pressed for time.

Billy’s vocals were not strong enough for me. The dispassion was good but the level was not.

Missed opportunities:
Zack tried to cram in as much as possible, so for me it’s not about missed opportunities but rather his interpretation of elements of the comic.

Things I was neutral about
The new ending
The new costumes
The running time
The Violence
The Mars stuff

I liked the Watchmen a lot but can see why some folks would have problems. It’s a very adult picture and people need to know this before they enter the theater. Snyder worked very hard in replicating the GN but he does have a few problems with communicating the right tone with Watchmen. If he was a little more experienced I think some things would flow better. We’ll get the extended DVD so that might mitigate the minor pacing and plot problems. Regardless, people are debating the merits of the film and the graphic novel and that kind of attention given to an actual comic book story is fantastic.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hitler finds out about the new Watchmen ending.

Hitler finds out about new Watchmen ending.

This was uploaded before the film came out but, oh man, is this still funny.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Drag Me To Hell

So many good trailers for upcoming movies lately. First "Star Trek" and "Terminator Salvation" now we have the trailer for Sam Raimi's upcoming back-to-basics horror film "Drag Me to Hell." This looks like a cure to the torture porn that's smothering the modern horror genre.

Raimi is best when he's got little studio oversight and can just let his demented mind run wild. I am so there on opening night.

- Dean Wormer

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Battlestar At The Bagdad

There is no better experience for a fan than sharing something we've enjoyed in a communal setting with people who feel the same way. Last night's viewing of Battlestar Galactica at the Bagdad theater and pub was that sort of experience. The fact that actress Katee Sakhoff was there with us just added to the joy of the whole thing.

I arrived a couple of hours early and the line already for the free screening already stretched around the block at about five hundred people. The theater only holds six hundred. Even with that I got pretty good seats that were close to the stage and had an even greater perk that I'll mention later.

The Bagdad theater has been around Portland since the invention of film. It's an absolutely beautiful old school theater with carved ornate pillars and Egyptian designs throughout it's interior. I have happy memories of seeing the King Kong remake in 1976 at this theater (and even better memories of seeing the original Kong at the Backstage theater directly behind the Bagdad which is sadly now a bar.)

The gorgeous Bagdad theater.

These showings have been hosted by local rock station personalities Cort and Fatboy. I listen to these guys on my commute home from work because, besides being super funny, they're both tremendous geeks who read comics, watch sci-fi, etc. With these guys you'll might hear references to Star Wars, Star Trek, Watchmen and Thundercats all within a five minute span of their show. You can see the appeal for me.

Before Battlestar began they started showing a live feed of the Sci-fi network as they were setting up. Next Generation popped on and the crowd cheered. That was when I felt like I was hanging out with the right people.

Hey, that's not Starbuck!

Just before Battlestar aired Cort and Fatboy took the stage. Of course they look nothing like I imagined from their radio voices. For one thing Fatboy isn't a fat boy. He's a short, skinny very buff guy.

They laid down the ground rules for when Katee arrived- telling us to keep it clean because her parents and boyfriend were going to be there. Then they got the crowd cheering in chants of "so say we all!" and doing the Battlestar clap. While they were talking Katee Sakhoff and her crew snuck in and sat just a couple of rows behind me. The crowd roared in approval when she arrived.

The episode was pretty good but to be honest I got a bigger kick out of watching Katee Sakhoff watch us react to the stuff that was happening. When Baltar would say something weasily and the crowd would laugh she seemed to get a tremendous kick out of that. Screen/ television actors probably don't get to enjoy this sort of direct feedback to their work very often.

After the episode had ended and we'd watched the previews they called Katee to the stage and she took questions from a line of mostly women. Judging by a big part of the questions Katee has a very big lesbian following.

She told some hysterical stories about Edward James Olmos (that model of the sailing ship he smashed up a couple of seasons ago was on loan from a museum and valued at 50k - "anybody else would've been fired") and a sad story about the actor that plays Sam who she's very close to in real life. He was apparently in an accident recently and may not walk again, which is why they had to put him in a tub in these final episodes.

Katee also talked about recently being diagnosed with Thyroid cancer and some of the other challenges she'd faced as an actress. She told about how she decided to get into acting after watching Jaws when she was six years old with her dad. This almost led to divorce among her parents. That story hit a little close to home as I did the same thing with our young daughter and Mrs. Wormer was none too happy.

All in all I found her very engaging and funny. She ended by apologizing that she couldn't be here for the finale next week.

That's Cort and Fatboy next to Katee.

The rest of us were told no photos with Katee but not KUFO employees.

- Dean Wormer

Friday, March 13, 2009

Finally we have some high fashion that makes sense to me.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My New Comics... From Last Week

Swinebread Jr's Grandma has been in town, so I've been busy but here is last week's list.

This last week’s best cover is The Age of Sentry #6.

Jonah Hex #41, Marvel Comics. I’m getting a latter-day Conan/Red Sonja vibe going on between Jonah and Tallulah Black. This comic hasn’t let me down yet.

Last Reign #4, Boom Studios. I wonder if they realize that the plot in this issue is stolen right out of TMNT RPG After the Bomb.

Doctor Who Classics Series 2 #4, IDW.

Army of Darkness #37, Dynamite Entertainment.

The Age of Sentry #6, Marvel. The End of another mini-series, and thus my box list gets smaller.

Trade Paperbacks:
Savage Sword of Conan Volume 5 Dark Horse. Yeah Baby!

With all the money I’ve been saving I went ahead and picked up the paperback of Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman. I can’t wait to dive into this one, but I gotta’ finish the paperback version of The Ten Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How it Changed America first. The Ten Cent Plague is must read for anybody that wants to understand how pop was culture negatively transformed and how the comic book medium’s potential was basically destroyed for the next 40 to 50 years. A chilling and sadly forgotten chapter (outside of comicdom) in US history... until now.


So Much Booze Even Colonel Tigh Would Love It.

This Friday I'm going to head over to watch the penultimate episode of Battlestar Galactica at Battlestar at the Bagdad. If any of you frakkers are from the Portland/ Metro area I'd love it if you joined me since the wife doesn't get off work early enough.

A word of warning: Portland native Katee "Starbuck" Sackhoff is going to be there so it's going to be even nuttier than usual.

The Bagdad is 21 and over so no Boxeys allowed.

So say we all.

- Dean Wormer

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I Watched The Watchmen

Out of the gate- I'm a latecomer to the graphic novel. I only read it myself a couple of years ago so I don't have years and years of imagining this film. So all I took into this movie was a love of comics and a love of film.

My my 15-year old daughter read the book this last summer when we were camping and she's become obsessed with the Watchmen, convincing many of her friends to follow her lead. It was really important to her that it was just the two of us who saw the film together. We went to a matinee yesterday afternoon.

(Before I go any further let me just say the new trailers for Star Trek and Terminator Salvation both sent my inner geek on overload. They both sent chills up my spine.)

I don't think I have to post a spoiler warning here. I won't give any details of how this film deviates from the book. If you've read the book then you'll know what I'm talking about.

What did we think of "Watchmen?" This movie was about 90-95% pure genius in our opinion. When it worked, such as during the first 15 minutes of credits that summed up this alternative history through flashbacks to the tune of Bob Dylan's "Times They Are A-Changin'" - it literally kicked our asses.

And when it didn't work? Not all of the acting was up to par. I'm talking to you Carla Gugino. Fans of the book should shrug off some of the klunkier scenes and dialog in recognition that they were included to track the book and for fans of same, not to advance the film's narrative. That seems to be what mainstream critics who aren't familiar with the book are getting hung up on.

They could've cut the sex scene or shortened it. That's not something I'd usually type but there was so much other win in this movie.

But for the most part this film was flat out awesome. Some of the standout stuff-

  • Jackie Earle Haley's Rorschach. He was pitch-perfect and menacing. I hated knowing what was coming for this guy.
  • Jeffery Dean Morgan's Comedian. He sold a very unsympathetic character.
  • Some standout scenes including the opening, Comedian's funeral and Rorschach in jail just before the jailbreak.
  • Dr. Manhattan was very, very well-endowed. I'm glad they did cheat on showing his Johnson but did they have to make him John friggin' Holmes?
  • GREAT special effects which is saying something in this digital age.

Dean and his daughter give this movie two thumbs up.

Dean Wormer

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dean's New Comics

Dean's cover of the week.

Cthulhu Tales #12, Boom Studios.

You can read the entire first series of this title online here.,

Buffy the Vampire Slayer #23, Dark Horse - these books are pretty much for fans of the show. There's a lot of inside stuff from the seven years of the series. I love them.

Army of Darkness #17, Dynamite Entertainment- Consistently a strong title.

Sonic Universe #1, Archie Comics - Sigh.

Conan the Cimmerian #8, Dark Horse.

Sgt. Rock The Lost Battalion #4, DC Comics.

The Haunted Tank #4 , DC Comics.

I'm enjoying the hell out of this very adult take on a comic I loved in my childhood. The ghost of Jeb Stuart is forever condemned to help his ancestors if they bear his surname and they're soldiers. His modern ancestor is the commander of an Abrams tank during the Iraq war who just happens to be black. The writers don't shy away from the racial conflict this engenders. The tank action is pretty good as well.

War That Time Forgot #10, DC Comics.

- Dean Wormer

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Watching the Young Turks

Blah blah blah blah Watchmen

I'm too tired to comment on my hopes and fears for the film

so just watch this nice non-spoiler (for the most part) review by the Young Turks

Oh I do have to say that I think casting Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach will turn out to be and inspired choice. It just seems right.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Random Comic Panel

It's nice to see that Peter Parker doesn't let a little thing like a straight Jacket stand in the way of flirting.

This comic panel reminds me of Lori Petty's first line in this scene from Tank Girl:

Sooooo... in honor of Lori's line, I adjusted the panel accordingly



More Star Trek news than you can shake a Klingon disruptor at.

The Star Trek Experience is reopening in Vegas. Yahoo! Now I don't have to make my own Warp Core Breach.

The upcoming Star Trek MMORPG may suck me in but I still think this Klingon "Raptor" class ship looks like crap. I prefer the old school ship look to the blah Next Gen style that's been here since the 80's. And what's with the Klingon's naming a ship? The whole thing is they're too busy kicking ass to bother with naming their ships. That's why they just use classifications like "D-7."

Bryan Fuller of "Pushing Daisies" wants to bring the Trek back to television. I'd forgottent that Fuller has a lot of Trek experience as a writer/ producer on two of the t.v. series. His vision is a retro-Trek utilizing the 60's style. I love this idea which is why it will never see the light of day.

The entire Next Gen cast including Patrick Stewart will be reuniting on an upcoming episode of Family Guy.

I love the original Trek but the idea of the series on Blu Ray makes me ill. The print/ quality of the original stock just isn't that good not to mention the fact it was shot to be displayed on the crappy tvs of the era. Under DVD quality you can see Shatner sweat under Klieg lights and easily discern where Nimoy's rubber ears are glued on.
- Dean

Monday, March 2, 2009

Brett Warnock Talks About the Top Shelf Name

Here's small part of my interview with Brett Warnock that didn't make it into my Portland Comics Documentary. Brett talks about the Top Shelf Comics name and how that name is perceived in the UK.