Friday, September 28, 2012

Breaking Point

My breaking point would be getting peed on as well.  Just throwing that out there.

WTF 9.24-9.28

This will be the last instance of WTF for awhile.  If you want to see more of it, just let me know in the comments.

Do you want rage with that?

I dislike getting my order wrong at a restaurant as much as the next guy, but holy shit.  It’s a McDonald’s!  Are you really that bent out of shape out of a shitty $4 hamburger?  I know it is the principal of the matter but come on!  I think that it is kind of funny that he threw the soda in the manager’s face though.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Comic Review: Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose #76

            It is my opinion that many comic books these days take themselves way to seriously.  This, I would like to label the “Frank Miller Syndrome” after the legendary author of The Dark Knight Returns.  His take on Batman basically paved the way for the superhero companies to do away with anything truly goofy in their catalogues.  Because of this, we have been subjected to crossover after horrible crossover and the further alienation of children when it comes to superhero comics.  Sure, there are certain superhero comics aimed at kids (mostly ones based on cartoon series) but the ratio used to be completely flipped, with the majority of comics ok for kids to read and a few titles with more mature themes.
By mature themes I do not necessarily mean sex and violence either.  The subject matter in something like Marvel’s Civil War storyline is something that may be a little too over the top for children.  Shit, If my first issue was something from that time instead of a John Romita Jr. Uncanny X-Men comic where it was Cyclops and Cable versus the X-Cutioner that had just broke into the mansion (oh 90’s, I miss you) then I may not have continued on my current path.
Okay, the point of that rant is that I am constantly on the lookout for comics that don’t take themselves too seriously.  Comics that are well done, by talented creators that know that their medium is one that is specially suited for children are my holy grail.  I found that in The Goon, as Eric Powell is a master of crafting a beautiful story while keeping it fun at the same time and not taking himself or his medium too seriously.  From previous reviews of Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose, I thought that I would be able to find another such comic.

            Let’s be fair, comparing anything to The Goon, and any artist to Powell is ridiculous to begin with.  But I will say this for Jim Balent.  That guy can draw!  Much as Powell has his colorist supreme in Dave Stewart, Balent’s pairing with Holly Golightly on colors is a match made in twisted naked girl heaven.  They complement each other so well that it almost looks like one person does the whole thing (which is honestly what you want, especially in a creator owned book).  The cover itself is a beautiful example of this harmony between the two.  The figure of Tarot is beautifully rendered, however what I really like about the cover is the hands that are grasping at her.  The fact that the hands are used similarly to negative space (as they are colored the same as the background) adds a phenomenal design element to the piece itself that I really want to try myself.  There is even a slight narrative quality to the cover as it mirrors some of the later scenes in the book.  The white logo and text against the dark background is the perfect choice as well.  This is how covers should be set up.

10/10-  Even though Tarot is topless on the cover, any offending bits are obscured, so it is just as safe to display as any other superhero book out there.  The quality of the cover itself, from design to execution is top notch.  One of my favorites of the year for sure.

            I was hoping that there would be something here that would set this book apart from the other superhero led books that clutter the shelves of the local comic shops.  Sure, this one had not only well drawn comic girls, but naked ones at that (which came as kind of a surprise, I thought there would be a tit here or there but Balent goes all out).  What I was really hoping was that the writing would push this over the top, into something that I would want to pick up every week, or at least in trade.  Balent falls into the same decompressioned, vague trap that has swallowed two complete companies (Marvel and DC) at this point.  There are basically two characters fighting throughout the entirety of the book, Tarot and a Faery.  I don’t know if the Faery has a name because it is never said, and honestly, if the book had a different title, I wouldn’t even know that Tarot is the other character (and at this point I’m guessing) because her name is never said.  In an entire book that has he main character on pretty much every page, her name is not said once.  The action is interesting but the story devolves too far into porny-fanboy lipservice to be taken as anything but that.  Maybe that is what it is and has been for the last 75 issues, I’m not sure.  The review that I saw, that actually prompted me to hunt down an issue had a Gatling gun bra and Barack Obama, so naturally I was pretty excited.  But this issue didn’t do it for me.  It was devoid of all but the very skeleton of a plot and didn’t do much with that.

1/10-  If the book was going to be anything but porn, it would have to have a good story.  This had the story that you would expect from a porn.

            Everything negative that I said about the story, flip that around for the art, because it is downright gorgeous.  I am a little concerned with the future back problems that Tarot will have based on the size of her chest, but other than that the art is well done.  Unfortunately there is not one page that I can share here.  Something about including lady parts on the same url as a talking shrimp restaurateur just doesn’t sit right with me.  I will say though that everything that I said about the cover is true for the interior as well.  Where I dislike the pace of the comic because nothing really happens, it does pave the way for Balent to draw so pretty pictures.  Even the flashback sequence which is rendered in shaded pencil is phenomenal.  The coloring by Golightly is top notch throughout and she really sets herself apart as one of the better colorists I have seen.  I would love to see what she does over someone else’s artwork just to see how much is her and how much is Balent, but they are an incredible art team nonetheless.

9/10- I’ve already said all I can about the art.  Great job all around.

Overall: 5/10- If you are looking for a pretty book full of naked women, then this is the one for you.  If you are looking for substance to go with your cheesecake, better keep searching.

Flesh and Blood: Part 2

 “Sonia!  Sonia Durant!  If I find you with that boy I will skin you alive!”
             Sonia awoke with a start, the last remnants of her nightmare filtering out of her head like a dissipating cloud.  Any fear that still remained quickly evaporated as she realized the gravity of her current situation.  This was not a dream about flesh eating monsters; this was a real life problem that was worse than any zombie could be. 
                “How does your mom know where we are?” asked Levi Saint, getting up off the ground and quickly moving away from Sonia and eying the dark woods suspiciously.
                “I don’t know, Celia’s a witch,” replied Sonia, quickly getting off the ground to join Levi on the lookout for her mother, “I have no idea how she does half of the things that she does.”
                “Like a real witch?  Like cauldrons and eye of newt and stuff?” said Levi, putting his shoes on and preparing to run.  Levi wasn’t really sure if he believed that Sonia’s mother was an actual witch or not, but he knew for sure that she would have no problem finding ways to do him harm if she caught him with her daughter, regardless of the fact that the lifelong friends were still in the early “hand-holding” stage common of many young relationships.
                “Levi, if I told you about my mother you would never come around me again, trust me,” Sonia explained as she gave Levi one last peck on the cheek before pushing him off into the night.  This was not the first time she had snuck out so she had her story armed and ready to throw her mother off of the relatively harmless trail.  Sonia brushed the twigs off of her shorts and turned to face her mother, plastering a look on her face that would hopefully convince Celia that she was dealing with a chronic sleepwalker and not someone that had found her first love in the neighbor boy that she had been friends with her whole life. 
            “Mama…” groaned Sonia, throwing a little extra sleepiness into her voice for dramatic effect “is that you?”
            “Sonia!” her mother’s voice cut through the night air.  “What are you doing out here?”
            “Out here?  Where, where am I?”
            “Sonia you are out in the woods, what’s going on?  Have you been seeing that Saint boy again?”  The way her mother said Levi’s surname made it sound like a curse word.  But Sonia wasn’t going to let that get to her, she was determined to see this ruse through to completion.
            “I-I must have been sleepwalking again mama, I don’t know what happened.”
            “Come on,” said Celia, taking Sonia by the shoulders and leading her back to their home, “let’s get you home before something bad happens to you out in these woods.  Your father and I were worried sick about you.”
            “I’m so sorry mama, I don’t know what happened.  The last thing I remember, I was at home in bed, and then, this,” said Sonia, trying to pour on the scared little girl act in order to really sell her performance.  She couldn’t believe that her mother was buying it again.
            “It’s ok, dear,” said Celia, in her most comforting voice possible, “we will get you home and back to bed, I’m sure your father will just be happy that you are home.”  While Celia would have liked to have believed her daughter, at this stage of the game she knew better.  That Saint boy was always coming around, asking if Sonia was available, and each time he was rebuffed by Celia.  Celia was once a young girl, she knew how boys, and girls, at that age thought and was not about to let her only daughter become a pawn in some boy’s twisted games.  At this point all the “midnight sleepwalking” was coincidental at best, and not something that Celia could do anything about without some sort of proof, some concrete evidence that these two were getting together in the woods on these nights.
            The mother and daughter finished their walk home in silence, both thinking very hard about the events of the night.  One was reveling in the perceived ruse of her mother while the other was formulating a plan of action to put an end to these dalliances once and for all.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Flesh and Blood pt. 1

October 19th the Throop Haunted Trail at the town hall in Throop, NY begins.  Before you make your way over there to get scared shit-less, read the following story (new parts coming to you every Tuesday and Thursday on Eat @ Shrimpy's until the 19th) to get a back story on the characters and how we have gotten to the point of zombie apocalypse.   

            The hot night air hung heavy over the woods as Sonia Durant wound past twisted tree trunks and low-hanging branches.  Twigs cracked under her bare feet as she moved swiftly through the dense forest, dancing past patches of poison ivy and bramble bushes with the deftness of someone who had grown up in these woods and traced this path many times before.  Sweat and the muggy air caused her thin nightshirt to cling to her slight frame as she ran away from her pursuer.  The lumbering, heavy steps that trailed behind her were not cognizant of the same path that she was following.  Each footfall landed with a singular purpose; to hunt Sonia down, preferably before she reached the clearing that led to her home.  While Sonia would not be entirely safe there, it was better than getting caught out in the woods where no one was around to help. 
She listened as the steps grew closer, her pursuer was not only running, but also, because of the apparent disregard of the preordained path through the forest, was cutting a straight line through the overgrowth as opposed to zigzagging along as Sonia found herself doing.   
Sonia knew that if she did not take a chance and make one last, desperate plunge for the clearing, she would not make it.  Her pursuers would be upon her and she would be lost.  She could see the moon lighting the grass, like a runway to safety and knew that she would be safe. 
Just a few more steps.
As her bare foot hit the soft wet grass she felt a hand on her shoulder.  It was cold and clammy, as if the hand carried no life, and only sought one thing, her.  It pulled at her t-shirt, ripping the material as it tried to grab on to something more substantial than flimsy cotton.  She struggled to break free, more than willing to sacrifice the garment if it meant saving her life.  As she felt the shirt sleeve rip free, she thought she had made it, that she was safe and she would be home soon.  As she made one final push to get home she felt the cold grip return to her wrist.  As brittle as the hand was that clung to her, it refused to let go regardless of how hard she pulled.  She tried to scream but the heavy air and the exertion of running through the forest left only a small whimper in her throat.  Sonia lost her footing on the wet ground falling backward and landing sharply on her backside, still in the clutches of her pursuer.  She looked up into lifeless eyes and a toothless smile as dry, cracked lips peeled back across its face.  Tears streamed down her cheeks as the gaping maw of the dead man descended upon her, its only desire to satiate a hunger that grew within its once lifeless husk.  Sonia Durant was nothing more than a snack to this creature, a slight detour as it wandered, searching for its next meal. 
The first bite was the only one that hurt, as each subsequent piece of Sonia that was ripped away from her body just sent her into a further state of shock.  She was dead before she could remember the name of the creature that attacked her.

Monday, September 24, 2012

That Charming Personality

A big thank you to Lindsey for emailing this strip to me so I could post it on time!

Friday, September 21, 2012

WTF 9.17-9.21

AC Slater was a pussy

Yeah Mr. Belding!  I am not as big a fan of wrestling as I was back in the eighties and nineties, but I may just have to get back into it if they are going to have icons from my youth make guest appearances.  What’s next?  Alf?  Actually that would be pretty cool, as long as the other wrestler has something to do with cats.  Oh the possibilities. 

Here’s a solution

Okay, so maybe he is too fat to be put to death via lethal injection.  You know what doesn’t care how much you weigh?  A fucking bullet.  Quit being a bunch of pussies Ohio, it’s not like this guy gave a second thought to killing that hotel clerk, so why are you taking his well-being into account?  Oh, that’s right, because America is turning into a country of political correct bitches.  My mistake.

If she was driving the Love Bug, it would have stopped

She’s a train wreck, we all know it, and we all laugh at her for it.  Now she is hitting people with her car though?  And then fleeing the scene?  First of all, why is anyone allowing her to drive on her own?  And in New York City? Second, no wait, there is no second, because in the first point she HIT SOMEONE WITH HER CAR!

And people wonder why the Chinese are kicking our asses

I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that this actually happened, or that Yahoo is reporting it as “weird news” like it should involve a kitten with a funny hat or something.  School negligence is apparently running pretty rampant through this country as the government decides that the answer to making our kids smarter is to just make shit more difficult in school and force the teachers to focus on academics and not life-building skills.  At the end of the day, everyone is either so frazzled by the day they had, or are completely unqualified for the position that they are in, that mistakes like this happen.  These are mistakes that could lead to disastrous consequences for the child, especially nowadays.  Back when I was growing up, the threat may have been a little less, but regardless, a child got placed into a stranger’s car.  Luckily it was a car going to a daycare and not one going to some creepy guy’s dungeon.


Fried Brain Syndrome

I have not eaten rats at all much less three days in a row, so I can not necessarily attest to the validity of Shrimpy's statement.  However it does seem plausible, especially New Jersey rats.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Comic Review - Jennifer Blood #17

            Slow day at the comic shop this week as the only two “regular” comics that I picked up were ones that I had already reviewed (Battle Beasts #3 and KISS #4) so I had to turn my attention elsewhere.  Between the DC zero issues and the madness that is Marvel gearing up to do their “relaunch that is not a relaunch” it may be harder to spot comics from the smaller publishers on your comic shelf.  Hell, even proven winners Like Top Cow get very little billing in my local shop, which sucks because I am slowly finding out that they have a much more superior product than most people realize. 

            Regardless, this week I decided to go with a comic that has already been established for (if they stuck to a monthly schedule) about a year and a half.  This comic comes from the mind of Garth Ennis (even though he did not write this issue, which I did not find out until I got it home as the plastic sleeve had his name on it) and is published by Dynamite (the home of your favorite pulp characters like The Shadow and The Green Hornet.  If you have not guessed by now, I am reviewing Jennifer Blood #17 by Al Ewing and Kewber Baal.

            The cover by Tim Bradstreet comes in two forms.  You can get the regular cover (pictured), that looks like it has a tear in the page around the woman’s torso and features, what I can only assume, are images of past covers.  If your comic shop is willing to do whatever Dynamite asks to fulfill its retailer incentive requirement, you can instead get the more “mature” cover.  This is basically the same figure but instead of that rip showing previous covers, you get a shot of side-boob instead.  I know, risqué.  Regardless of which cover you choose (if you have a choice) they are both masterfully done.  The cover with the rip actually makes more sense based on the fact that the story is probably about 75% flashback, but they are both beautiful illustrations.  This fits right in with the Dynamite method of cover creations where they aim for singular iconic shots of characters as opposed to any kind of storytelling or group shots.  Sure, this has nothing to do with the story, as the character is not actually doing anything and there is no background, but Bradstreet just keeps getting better and better with every cover I see of his. 

9/10 – One point is knocked off for the “house style” of single iconic images that Bradstreet had to work with, but this cover is truly a work of art.

            This story, as previously stated, deals a lot in flashbacks, which is fine, something that I don’t mind seeing in comics at all.  Balancing out the flashbacks is Jennifer disposing of a body (of her husband or ex-husband, it’s not entirely clear what happened).  I have a feeling that this all went down in the last issue or two and we are just seeing the aftermath here.  That’s fine, as this comic does a decent job of filling you in on the backstory of Jennifer’s obviously failed relationship, but I kept reading, waiting to figure out what actually happened to this guy that she married. 

I got nothing.

            There was no real payoff to this story at all.  The thing is, this could have all been cleared up through a little more exposition during the quiet times when she is actually disposing of the body.  To recount the life through a series of pictures and the death through a series of text boxes would not only have been beneficial to the first time reader, but would also have created a nice juxtaposition to the life and death of that character.  Instead, I spent twenty four pages wondering what the hell happened.  What set this girl off and caused her to kill her husband?  I can actually see where a story would be in here somewhere but if I wanted to write my own, I would. 

2/10 - Nothing is actually expanded upon to the point of making this anything more than a “chapter”.  Releasing it as an actual comic is misleading.     

            Baal’s art is not bad by any stretch of the imagination.  He does a good job of making sure to work in backgrounds into the art and handles the more risqué elements with a decent amount of tact.  The most impressive thing about his art though, is the way that he handles the flashback sequences.  By putting a different border around those panels, almost one like you would find on an ornate picture frame, it gives a feeling like Jennifer is looking at and remembering a different time.  This is also helped by the fact that the colorist did a great job of coloring all of those flashbacks in sepia tones. Ultimately, the art is just adequate though.  Hell, even a superstar wouldn't be able to save the flimsy script.

5/10:  It’s ok, but nothing that would make me run out and purchase the book on a regular basis.


3/10 – Love the Bradstreet cover, but the fact that I just kept waiting and waiting for something to actually happen, and nothing did, just makes me sorry to have spent $4 on this.  It was not worth that much by a long shot.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Hey, at least this immunity challenge has something to do with their setting, there's no standing on a pole only to be tempted with peanut butter here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

KISS and Motley Crue: Kids under twelve get in free!

-Matt Magill

            “The Tour” as it has been billed combines two of the best live bands of their respective decades together under one roof.  It’s a live rock and roll wet dream really.  Just based upon the reputation of the two headliners it was bound to be the best show of the summer, and those expectations were met and surpassed.  Here’s why:

            Let’s just start this with a simple note on the opening band: The Treatment.  The tickets said KISS and Motley Crue, with no mention of this opener, and the tickets further stated that the show was starting at seven.  Upon arriving and walking through the gate at about ten of seven, The Treatment was already playing.  If the tickets do not even take the opening band seriously enough to mention them then I will not either (except to say that they were terrible-which they were).

            This was my third time seeing each of these bands live, and while some bands don’t hold up as well with each successive live viewing, that is not the case here.  Motley Crue actually put on a better show this year than I have ever seen before from them.  Even on one foot, Vince is a better frontman than 90% of the others out there (he broke his foot a couple days before the show, but aside from a slight limp and a walking boot-which he said he borrowed from KISS-you could barely tell).  Now he was the typical Vince when it came to singing, which meant a few garbled phrases and words combined with either going a little too fast or not following the song to a “T” as it was recorded; but if I wanted that I would stay home and listen to the CD.  I come to a Crue show for the experience, and what an experience it was.  They hit on every note in terms of their biggest hits while also throwing in the typical Tommy drum solo as well as two shorter but killer solos from Mick, which prompted my brother to exclaim that even though Mick can barely move (he was more mobile tonight than I have seen him in the past though) that he can play the hell out of a guitar.  The Crue also played their new song “Sex” for the crowd which, of course, prompted Vince to ask the question “who likes sex?” (did I mention kids twelve and under were free?) 
            The sound quality was a little rough on their opening song “Saints of Los Angeles” but it was quickly fixed and the only other issue in that department was on one other song (I think it was “Primal Scream” but can’t remember for sure) where the band just didn’t seem to be synched up in terms of tempo.  They quickly fixed this by the first chorus and there were no other noticeable issues for the rest of the show.  As I posted after the Crue left the stage at 9:15 Saturday evening “KISS hasn’t even gone on yet, already best show of the summer”. 

            Upon completion of the Motley set, there was a quick change of the stage, and I have to take the opportunity to praise the road crew who did a masterful job of tearing down Motley’s highly intricate set (including Tommy’s rollercoaster drum kit) and setting up the KISS set (which was more subdued but no less difficult I’m sure) in about the time you would expect a regular set change.  While the bands are both phenomenal, the road crews are the real unsung heroes here.  Anyway, KISS came on and jumped right in to “Detroit Rock City” with no problem.  They played many of their hits, but with a catalog that extends to the early part of the seventies, no matter how many songs they play, they will leave some out.  Not hearing “Deuce” or “Hotter than Hell” was kind of a bummer, but they replaced them with “Shock Me” which featured Tommy on vocals and “Black Diamond” that had a very prominent vocal role for Eric.  I had yet to hear either of these songs in concert so that was a major plus.  There was also a chance for each of the band members to perform their own solo (Gene’s led into “God of Thunder” and blood spitting as always, Paul’s led into “Black Diamond” and Tommy and Eric actually performed theirs as a duet which was great as both are incredible musicians with great chemistry on the stage).  Not only that, but we were treated to their new single “Hell or Hallelujah” from the forthcoming Monster album.  While it would have been nice to hear something off Sonic Boom from a few years ago, this was a welcome addition that sounded great and proved that they have not lost a step.

              The requisite Paul visit to the small stage in the crowd was during “Love Gun” this year and the stage itself actually rose out of the ground via the wonderful power of hydraulics, so originally I thought that part of the show was going to be phased out.  I am happy to see that they decided to keep it in as Paul continues to show why he is the best in the business, making a cold September night feel warm and inviting for those of us that couldn’t afford $100 tickets under the tent.  That being said, the price that I paid (I think it was around $100 for two lawn seats) was well worth it and I would do so again in a heartbeat next year.

            Now, about the title of this post.  Prior to departing for the show, a quick check of the Darien Lake website brought to my attention that kids under twelve actually got in free with the purchase of an adult ticket.  This was a great idea, considering the fact that the adult tickets were pretty pricey and that this was the last show of the season at this venue.  Now the fact that the bands were Motley Crue and KISS?  Maybe not the best choice.  Between Motley’s half naked dancers and song content (the aforementioned new single “Sex” that prompted Vince’s line of questioning), Tommy’s exclamations of “Fuck Yeah” and Gene’s desire to make sure that everyone got a nice, up close view of his new codpiece, this may not be the place for young children.  As adults, especially those that have either been to a show for either of these bands before or know their music in great detail, we pretty much know what to expect; and I have no problem with any of it personally.  I just found it incredibly odd that the offer for free admission for young children coincided with a show that kids probably had no business being around.

            There were only a couple issues with this show, and most of them were so small that they did nothing to dethrone this as the best concert of the summer (hell, of the year).  I am really not a fan of the excessive use of dry ice and/or smoke machines that are commonplace with all bands now.  I realize that they probably do it so that they cannot be easily filmed, and subsequently Youtubed by concert-goers, but unless you are in the front, it can get awful hard to see anything.  This wasn’t as bad today because they were outside and the smoke could dissipate after awhile.  The Megadeth show back in February was inside and it just collected on the stage which made it hard to see and really destroyed the quality of the show.

            The only other thing is the fact that Paul’s voice is finally showing its age.  Remember how I said, back during the Def Leppard review, that Joe Elliot couldn’t hit the high notes so he had the crowd do so?  Paul wasn’t about to do that, as he made sure that he at least tried to hit the high notes.  Sometimes he did, sometimes he wasn’t as successful, and his voice in general sounded more beat up and just scratchier than I remember from years past.  Did it sound a little off to someone that has been a KISS fan for the majority of his life?  Sure.  Did it ruin the show?  Not in the least.  KISS is still the greatest band in the world, and Motley Crue is definitely making a claim to assume that mantle when KISS hangs up the rhinestones and platform shoes.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Don't Ask

Really, there was no intentional correlation between the timing of these last four strips and this.  The fact that Proops looks completely different from strip to strip is 100% on me and the fact that these were not necessarily produced in the order you see them.  But if you squint he kind of looks the same.  Squint harder. Harder.  Okay, just close your eyes and pretend.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Take a Knee

It's never a knee, is it ladies?

WTF 9.10-9.14

It's been a trying week here, so please excuse the short post.  Back at it full strength next week!

Simple Solution

Hey, here’s an idea.  Any unauthorized submerged watercraft gets blown out of the water.  Problem solved.

Apple, aka: What is wrong with the country

I understand protecting your brand, really I do, but fuck you Apple.  Not only are you making money hand over fist with your new devices (with minor tweaks from the old devices) but now you are receiving settlement money because Samsung made a rectangular phone, and now this.  It’s a grocery store chain, and you know what, I bet they sell real apples, yeah the kind you can eat.  That’s right, there were things called apples before you came along.  I have never been happier to not own a Mac product than I am now.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Comic Review - Master's of the Universe #2

I have yet to review two issues of the same book, much less two consecutive issues, however, because the first issue came out July 1, and here we are on September 13, enough time has passed to warrant a fresh look (in my mind anyway, if you don’t agree then so be it). 

            Ok, the fact that the cover actually pertains to the story is a bonus.  I like the traditional purple/orange color palette as well, and He-Man is drawn pretty well.  The problem here (and throughout the comic itself in general) is Trap Jaw.  If you grew up with the cartoon, and especially the action figures, in the ‘80s, there is a good chance that Trap Jaw was one of your favorites, as he was mine.  Here, he is presented as the leader of a nomadic tribe that captures He-Man/Adam.  Just the fact that on the cover Trap Jaw is depicted wearing a robe of some kind takes away from the general bad-assery of the character.  Trap Jaw is a tough guy that lost his jaw and had it replaced by a mechanical one.  He also has a right arm that can transform into various weapons/implements such as a gun or pincers.  Bad character designs aside, the strange way that the color from Trap Jaw dissipates over He-Man’s charging form could probably have been handled better.

5/10 – It’s an ok cover composition with decent coloring, but the actual drawing on everything but He-Man is not my cup of tea.

            The premise is great, and it provides a way for us to get introduced to the characters, especially for the audience that has yet to be exposed.  However it is written by someone that admitted (in an interview with CBR I believe, Google it if it interests you) that he wrote the character treatments before ever seeing an episode of the classic cartoon.  While it did not really show through too much in the first issue, this issue is a harsh reminder of that fact.  There is only one instance in this whole issue that comes across as an improvement on the existing characters.

Skeletor is pretty badass here.  Now if only Trap Jaw didn't look like some kind of robotic simpleton this would be a decent page

The rest of the time, the characters that we grew up with are relative caricatures of their former selves.  I will admit that the MV Creations series from the early 2000’s was a bit too campy and felt like it was taken a little too much from the cartoon, but at least it had the heart and soul of Masters of the Universe.  This is just a pale imitation.  I think that the most egregious story twist, aside from the terrible dialogue, is that He-Man is now Skeletor’s nephew.  Did I miss something over the last thirty years?  Is this something that was mentioned?  I know that Teela is the Sorceress’s daughter, but this whole “everyone is related” thing is ridiculous. 
            He-Man does some pretty stupid thing himself, such as ask the mysterious guys with the creepy red eyes for a drink of water.  Really?  I know Adam in the cartoon played dumb to throw people off his trail, but I think this iteration really is dumb. 
            The whole redesign of Trap Jaw is terrible too.  The fact that his hand now changes into stuff based on some kind of glowing dragon bug thing makes absolutely no sense and it is never actually touched upon aside from a one-panel drawing of the bug crawling out of his arm?  Huh?  This is what took two and a half months to produce?

2/10 – The only reason it’s at two instead of one is that page that makes Skeletor look like a badass.  Other than that, it’s a pretty terrible book.

            This book took two and a half months to publish and the original creative team of Robinson and Tan had to be assisted by Keith Giffen (writing) and Howard Porter (pencils).  Unfortunately the extra time and the extra sets of hands do nothing to help this book in terms of the content.  Porter’s pencils are not good as his proportions tend to go out of whack very easily and his panel and page layouts are way more confusing than they need to be.  While Tan’s page layouts are clearer and his anatomy at least a little more consistent, his character designs and storytelling are suspect.
So apparently Skeletor likes fruit and using the Darth Vadar "force choke".  Do you hear that sound?  It's the sound of my childhood weeping.

What just happened here?  Did he turn some random woman to stone?  Can he do that?  Why are his proportions so out of whack?  Does that happen when he turns people to stone?

This is the extent of explanation you get for Trap Jaw's shape-shifting arm.  Yup, that is no explanation at all. 

And....Teela's derp-face.  If that doesn't sum up this abortion of a comic book I don't know what does.

2/10 – What was Santalucia doing that they couldn’t get him to help out?  Anyone that worked on the MV Creations titles would have been a huge upgrade.  I know that this is not one of the New 52, DC, but fuck, put some thought into who you hire for projects that are based on longstanding licensed properties.

2/10 – Here’s what I want you to do; take your hand, ball it up into a fist, and punch yourself right in the face.  That’s about as much fun as this comic was to read.  Seriously, the best part of this comic was the double page Joe Kubert Memorium.

It's coming...

The review is coming, i swear.  Just as a preview, here is some art that I did years ago that involves the subject matter of the review.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Hey man, I don't care about your sexual orientation, I would just rather that your big reveal of said orientation does not come while I am the "little spoon", that's all i'm sayin'.  Common courtesy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Now with even more bath salt goodness

This is what is consuming most of my time lately, so if you are in the area in October, come on down.  If you want to volunteer to be a part of the trail, even better!

I have written a story that will be tied in to the haunted trail (not required reading but it will give a ton of backstory and hopefully make your trip that much more fun.  It is currently in the hands of my editor and once it is revised and approved I will be posting it here in the weeks leading up to the nineteenth.

If you have any questions please contact me or Kathy and we will be happy to provide more info.

I've currently got another poster in production as well and will release that when it is completed.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Buddy System

Just in terms of full disclosure - I never had to sleep in the buddy system when I was a cub scout.

Friday, September 7, 2012


There are some seriously scary parts of South Jersey in general, and Newark specifically.  It gets worse when you don't expect to wind up there, like after a wrong turn or something like that.  The garbage smell gets worse and for just a split second you wonder if all the doors in your car are locked.
And I know that all bigger cities have areas like this, but damn, Jersey is just terrible.

WTF - 9.3-9.7

Further proof that Old Navy spends too much time on shitty commercials

How does this get all the way to the store shelves without one person saying “uhhh, I don’t think that’s 100% accurate.”  Of course, hasn’t Old Navy done stupid things with T-shirts before?

Oh good, we’re letting lawyers determine “art” now

The fact that the second sentence of the article mentions oral arguments is just classic.  The mention that these dances are choreographed does take a little of the magic and mystery out of the lap dance though, doesn’t it?  And I thought the girl really liked me and wanted me to be happy, not that she was counting 1, 2, 3; 1, 2, 3 in her head the whole time. 

Dumb and dumber

When in doubt, eat the evidence.  Seriously, who pays for something at a theme park with a fifty?  I don’t really have much more to say about this one, the article pretty much speaks for itself.

Yes, I actually received this.

This is not a link, but an actual email that I received.  Go ahead and read it, try not to laugh to loudly when you do.

Hello My Beloved

I am writing this mail to you With due respect trust and humanity, i appeal to you to exercise a little patience and read through my letter i feel quite safe dealing with you in this important business having gone through your remarkable profile, honestly i am writing this email to you with pains, tears and sorrow from my heart, i will really like to have a good relationship with you and i have a special reason why i decided to contact you, i decided to contact you due to the urgency of my situation, My name is Miss Linda Suleman Hassan, 25yrs old female from Southern Sudan in Africa.

My father Dr.Suleman Hassan was the former Minister for SPLA Affairs and Special Adviser to President Salva Kiir of South Sudan for Decentralization. My father Dr.Suleman Hassan , my mother including other top Military officers and top government officials where on board when the plane crashed at the regional capital (400km) west of Juba on Friday May 02, 2008.

some months after the burial of my father, my uncle conspired with my step mother and sold my father's properties to a Chinese Expatriate. On a faithful morning I opened my father's briefcase and found out document which my beloved late father used and deposit money in a Bank in Burkina Faso , with my name as the next of kin. I travelled to Burkina Faso to withdraw the money so that I can start a better life and take care of myself. The Branch manager of the Bank whom I met in person told me that my present status does not permit me by the local law to clear money or make a transfer of money into an account, he advice me to provide a trustee who will help me and invest the money or I should wait till when I will get married as it demand by their Authority.

I have chosen to contact you after my prayers and I believe that you will not betray my trust. But rather take me as your own blood sister. Though you may wonder why I am so soon revealing myself to you without knowing you, well, I will say that my mind convinced me that you are the true person to help me. More so, I will like to disclose much to you if you can help me to relocate to your country because my uncle has threatened to assassinate me. The amount i USD6.8 Million} and I have confirmed from the bank in Burkina Faso . You will also help me to place the money in a more profitable business venture in your Country.

However, you will help by recommending a nice University in your country so that I can complete my studies. It is my intention to compensate you with 15% of the total money for your services and the balance shall be my capital in your establishment. As soon as I receive your interest in helping me, I will put things into action immediately. In the light of the above, I shall appreciate an urgent message indicating your ability and willingness to handle this transaction sincerely. Please do keep this only to your self. I beg you not to disclose it till i come over because I am afraid of my wicked uncle who has threatened to kill me.

Sincerely yours,

Miss Linda Hassan

I just thought I would share that little gem with you.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Comic Review - Guarding the Globe #1

            Guarding the Globe #1 by Phil Hester and Todd Nauck takes the characters made popular by Robert Kirkman in his “Skybound” universe (along with the help of Ryan Ottley and Cory Walker) and gives them their own book.  For fans of Invincible, or some of Kirkman’s lesser known titles like Brit or Capes, this book is the coup de grace.  It brings all of those characters together in a comic that is very reminiscent of the aforementioned Capes comic that Kirkman penned back in 2003.  The whole premise is a global group of superheroes that look like they work for the United States government (if the inclusion of Invincible stalwart Cecil Steadman is any indication) instead of a private corporation of superheroes as was the premise of Capes.  Regardless of the similarities, this book tries hard to be a Kirkman/Ottley/Walker creation, but falls flat in areas that those creators would have most likely succeeded.

            The cover is a wrap-around, very reminiscent of many of the superhero comics of the nineties.  It is obvious that Kirkman has a soft spot for nineties comics, based on his past collaborations, but this takes a lot of the bad things in comics from that decade and throws them together.  That starts with the cover itself, which is a decent cover that tries to look like an Ottley or Walker cover but fails by not doing the little things right.  The cover itself is made up of figures of the individual Guardians, but all of those figures look very stiff and many have wonky proportions.  Just look at the girl with the goggles on the front cover for an instance of that.  It looks like her torso has been stretched and curved.  I like the coloring on the cover as they tend to get softer as they recede into the background, as they should.  The logo for the book also pops out quite well, and is just well designed overall. 

4/10:  Good coloring and logo design does not save a good but generic cover that suffers from stiff characters with strange anatomy.

            There are certain parts of the story that really work, such as the side story that involves Brit being notified that his son may have autism and the aside with Donald trying to come to grips with the fact that he is now more machine than man.  That is something that would almost be expected from a Kirkman comic and Phil Hester does a great job of implementing that.  Hester also does a decent job of introducing the characters throughout the book as well, which is a pretty high order considering the amount of characters that are present in the book itself. 
            Where the story falls flat is that the whole story seems very generic, from the collection of heroes, to the main hero (in this case, Brit) getting pissed about the inclusion of a member that he deems a loose cannon, to the last page introduction of the villain.  Instead of a nice feeling of nostalgia that has done a good job of creeping in to many titles of late, this feels like a retread of an early nineties X-Men comic.  It is also fairly obvious that Hester is trying to write clever dialogue, which is one of my favorite things of Kirkman comics.  He hits on the dialogue in the smaller, more emotional moments (like the aforementioned autism scene), but scenes that Hester tries to write as lighthearted or funny (such as the seemingly useless smoking dog scene that really goes nowhere) fall completely flat.  Would someone else have been able to write that scene better?  Would someone even bother to try and fit that scene in when it does not seem like it has any significance to the story itself?  I really couldn’t tell you, but regardless, taken at face value it was something that didn’t work. 

3/10:  Being able to show the human side of superheroes is a nice touch, but it is the only touch that works here as the rest of the story is generic and uninspired.

            There are some good things done here.  Nauck doesn’t go crazy with strange panel layouts, and the storytelling is pretty well done.  Also, the facial expressions and general acting of the characters are very well done and actually lend a lot to the story.  The same quality coloring by John Rauch that was on display on the cover is going strong in the interiors as well, and I can’t tell you how much that makes this book more enjoyable than it could be.  The reason I say this is because on nearly every page, there is something in the art that just makes you go “huh?”  The same proportion problems that Nauck had on the cover rear their ugly heads in the interiors as well.  This is sad because as is previously mentioned, the storytelling is actually pretty good.

Between "Bobble Head Girl" in the top right panel and "Rubber Leg" in the bottom panel, this page is a mess.

Heads do not turn like that, not without the body moving more.

I just thought I should throw in the smoking dog, and there is something about that girl's torso that doesn't look right but I'm having trouble putting my finger on it.

Very nineties villain reveal with the tilted image and the lack of feet, but if this guy is supposed to be a major threat, he should probably at least be fully on the page.  And I must say that his character design is incredibly generic (now I suuuuuuck at character design so I can honestly say that I would have done no better).

4/10:  This could have been a high point of the book, but the proportion issues are a big blemish that solid storytelling can’t overcome.  +1 for the coloring though, that was actually really good, I would like to see more of Rauch’s coloring now (and I’m not a follow the colorist kind of guy).

Overall:  4/10:  I expected more, and who knows, maybe this will improve as the series moves along, but at this point it is not a title that can stand with Kirkman’s other creations.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Video Game Review - New Super Mario Brothers 2

                At this point in the careers of the probably unemployed plumbers Mario and Luigi Mario (seriously, how can they keep a business going if they are constantly saving the princess), you pretty much know what you are going to get.  The princess is going to get captured, you are going to jump, run and semi-fly through upwards of eight different worlds with various themes (desert, water, snow) as well as fighting a Koopa kid at the end of each of those worlds.  The game will climax with a big fight against Bowser himself and you will undoubtedly rescue the princess again (until the next console release when you will do it all over again (much like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day).  The big thing is trying to mix things up a little bit with each new release, coming up with a new wrinkle to keep people interested and coming back for more.  To be perfectly honest, I have a feeling that gimmicks are no longer needed, especially given the fact that many of the other games that do not feature a major Nintendo character for any of their systems, handheld and console, are sub-par at best.  Each new Mario game is treated with the fanfare that it deserves, even though they can get a little stale after awhile. 
Correction, it’s not that they necessarily feel stale, just that they feel like one large game, broken up into multiple releases.  The latest addition to the Mario pantheon does not feel like a natural sequel to the first Super Mario Brothers game for the 3DS, just because of the differing format as this one goes back to the traditional, side-scrolling 2D.  2D, 3D it doesn’t matter as the storyline is the same; it is just the dimensions that are different this time around.  In my opinion, the traditional, side-scrolling adventures are more fun than the 3D format that is more prevalent in most of the current Mario titles (Mario 64, Mario Galaxy 1 and 2 et. al.).   It is not even the fact that the side-scrollers fall into line more with what we have been conditioned to expect from Mario (for those of us old enough to remember his adventures on the original NES and it’s subsequent systems).  For me at least, it just comes down to the fact that it is so much easier to jump from platform to platform when you are going from left to right than it is from front to back on a slight angle.  This may be just my personal preference though, what do you think?  2D, 3D?  It does seem like the Mario games tend to pack more in to the 3D adventures (Super Mario Galaxy was expansive, and that’s not even counting the second one which was basically an extension of the first), but the side scrolling Mario games just bring a certain nostalgia and comfort to them that can’t be beat by adding an extra dimension.   
This game actually feels like the next step after the New Super Mario Brothers Wii game that came out a few years ago.  The only change (aside from the different system) is that this game has instituted a coin collecting mode.  Not only are there more coins in each level, but the total amount of coins are saved at the conclusion of the level.  The coins do not carry over into subsequent levels (* correction, they do carry over, I just checked last night to be sure.  Also, in case you couldn't figure it out, Bowser is pretty damn hard in this one) but there is a tally so that you are now aware of your grand total.  This increase in the number of coins is definitely helpful in the amount of lives that can be quickly accumulated (I was up past 120 last I checked) but there is no real tangible benefit to the coin accumulation.  Maybe it is used for bragging rights in the online community, and I will admit that I am a few levels from completing the game so there may be a payoff at the very end, but at this point the inclusion of this additional feature doesn’t really distinguish itself from the other Mario games at all.  The only feature that really stands out is the inclusion of the gold fireflower.  Instead of shooting fireballs that simply kill the oncoming Goomba or Koopa Trooper, the gold fireflower allows Mario to gather five coins for each successful hit on a target as well as transforming regular bricks into gold coins with a well-placed fireball.  Sure, it’s not revolutionary but it adds to the coin collecting motif and gives the player something else to do.  Plus, the power doesn’t run out after a few seconds like you would expect it to.  If you equip the gold fireflower it stays with you until you are injured, just like any of the other powers Mario gets from random vegetation along the way.
The three large coins in each level are still included but are not as vital as they were in the past (for those of you that are still stuck on Mario Galaxy, the large coins are similar to the stars that you use to unlock new worlds).  The large coins (or the stars) were used to actually further the story, basically necessitating that one complete certain parts of the game and gain a certain amount of stars before moving on, but that aspect has been removed in this game.  Yes, as I said, the coins are still there, but they are now used as keys to the various Toad Houses that pop up throughout each map (and you do not keep accumulating them as you go, you have to actually spend the coins to unlock the houses).  While these are helpful, they are not vitally important and therefore you could breeze right through the game without even visiting them if you so desired.  Like many other Mario games though, exploration is rewarded as there are levels in each world, and even whole worlds themselves, that cannot be accessed without finding secret exits.  I found one in the ghost house in the first world completely by accident, and of course by trying to locate them, the secret exits have eluded me ever since.  So even if the initial game is relatively short in length (especially for people that are used to time-sinks such as Skyrim and Kingdoms of Amalur), the replay value is relatively high.  The levels are not terribly long and puzzle-filled either so they do not get old and tiresome after a few playthroughs.
This is by no means an easy game to beat.  Hell, I don’t think there has really been an easy game in the Mario franchise (except maybe Mario 2 for the NES, especially if you just pick the Princess and float through the levels).  That being said, the aforementioned ability to accumulate lives lessens the fear of the dreaded “game over” but does nothing to help you dodge the fireballs that pop out of the river of lava, or swim any faster away from those damn fish (water levels in Mario games are the bane of my existence).  The graphics are great and the gameplay is as solid as ever though, so if you are looking to continue on the same Mario adventure that you have probably been through for years and years, pick it up and give it a whirl.  While it doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, it is still fun nonetheless.  Hell, it’s not like the 3DS is brimming with quality titles right now anyway.   
8/10 – You might as well pick it up, and for forty dollars it’s not a bad value.  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lunch Special

Always be wary when something is referred to as the "special of the day".  It's probably the food that's either closest to going bad, or closest to clawing your eyes out.