Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lightbulb

He probably should have said "just for your looks" but I'm sure Shrimpy's tired 
(not that sleeping on the couch will help with that).

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hell’s Kitchen Episodes 20 & 21: All good things must come to an end, and so too shall Hell’s Kitchen

                Well, here we are, at the end of the road.  It’s been a long, interesting journey that has gone from eager anticipation of each new episode to kind of a hate-watch relationship (this season’s cast was the worst) to a quiet acceptance that cataloguing this season of madness was my solemn duty.  How did it all end?  Let’s find out.

                The first thing we need to do is determine who is joining squeaky voice in the finals.  Mr. Mohawk and skinny black girl were the last two chefs awaiting their fate.  And the chef that will be going up against squeaky voice is…skinny black girl!  Okay, a couple things about this selection.  First of all, Mr. Mohawk got screwed, I know it and he knows it.  Ramsay does let him down easy by telling him to keep his jacket and to keep his ears open as something will come up soon for him, but he should have absolutely been in the final.  Also, it took me all damn season to figure out what I hate the most about skinny black girl, but I did.  She speaks in sound bites.  That’s it.  She obviously knows that she’s on camera and figures that the more blatant she speaks in sound bites, the greater her chance of landing in the recaps.  I can’t stand that because not only does she speak in that way, but the volume is always elevated.  I will say though, that as much as I don’t like the final two, it is fitting that it’s an all female finale as the guys were dogshit this year (even Ramsay made a remark to that effect).

                Anyway, if I was to handicap the competition at this point I would put squeaky voice ahead slightly, but it’s way too close to call right now, especially when I haven’t seen each finalist’s brigade for the final service.  The next stop, as in pretty much every season, is Las Vegas.  The chefs get to their massive hotel room and begin to devise their menu.  Quite a few things happen next, and I honestly do not remember the exact order so I’ll give you a short rundown.  Ramsay’s Sous Chefs come in to help them refine their menus, they meet the president of the hotel in Las Vegas where Ramsay’s new restaurant will be, and they sit down with Christina, the winner of last season’s competition for a little one-on-two question and answer period.

                They then get back to Los Angeles and settle in to work on their menus some more, thinking that they will have some quiet time to do so.  You girls are so silly.  The best part is that every time something like this happens, they both act so surprised, like they’d never seen a Hell’s Kitchen finale before.  Give me a break.  They are told to pack for another trip and they are taken to a train station.  Here they meet their families, which is surprise number one.  Skinny black girl’s mother and sister come out to see her, while squeaky voice gets a visit from her mother and husband.  The second surprise is that they are not there to go on a trip, they are there for their final challenge in Hell’s Kitchen, the menu presentation.  They have to each create a hot appetizer, cold appetizer, beef, chicken and fish dish.  Each dish will be judged head to head and then whoever has the most points at the end of the competition will get the coveted “first pick” of the chefs.

                Does this competition ever not go down to the last dish?  At this point, you rarely see a dish that is poorly executed between the two chefs so I wouldn’t be surprised if Ramsay requires the chefs doing the judging to draw out the process as long as possible.  Either way, the result comes down to the final dish (duh) and skinny black girl wins (to which she replies with some sound bite).  Usually at this point in the competition, the chefs retire to Hell’s Kitchen and choose their teams, well not this time!  They have to pick their teams in front of the audience that gathered to watch the cooking/judging.  Because skinny black girl had first pick, she went with mixed up Cyndi, with squeaky voice picking Mr. Mohawk with her first pick.  The picks went pretty much as you would expect with snooty stringbean one being the last picked.  I didn’t think it was possible for his attitude to get worse, but it has.  Where many chefs on here are raising their profile considerably by showing up and working hard, I can’t see that guy as employable at all based on his attitude.  There is even a secret surprise that Ramsay gives the finalists; the opportunity to trade one person from their team with the other.  Of course squeaky voice tries to use this on snooty stringbean one to no avail.  At this point, I would give the odds to skinny black girl because she has the stronger brigade, but it’s still close.

                They get to cooking and all the little hiccups you assume would be there when you place chefs that couldn’t cut it in the opening rounds of the competition into something much more difficult are there in spades.  The finalists do a decent job of keeping their brigades on track and they don’t get too bogged down.  There was a major issue for each chef though as skinny black girl’s team was getting behind and not responding to her leadership.  Instead of wilting, she started barking out orders like a shorter, slightly less tan Gordon Ramsay.   Her team got back on track and finished their service.  Squeaky voice was getting shit from snooty stringbean one (surprise, surprise) over in her kitchen and instead of taking it, she kicked him out.  I personally think she put up with his shit longer than she should have, but the fact that she would rather go through dinner service a man down than deal with his shit showed me that she has the instinct to lead a kitchen.  Where that good faith came in, it quickly started to evaporate when she started losing her mind on the pass.  She would keep asking for food that was already in front of her face, or that she had just plated.  That lack of organization, even with the ability to send your weakest link packing, will not be looked upon very highly by Ramsay when he makes his decision.  After this, it was incredibly close, and I would give the slight edge to squeaky voice, but that might be because I don’t like skinny black girl and her damn sound bites.

                And the winner is…skinny black girl, because of course it is, they had to get a couple more sound bites in there before the end of the season.


                Well this was an interesting experiment.  If you have any shows on “regular” television that will be starting soon that you want to see a recap of, let me know.  I’ll take them into consideration.  Thanks for reading and joining me on this strange adventure.

Monday, July 29, 2013

What Do You Expect

I have to say that the worst smell in the world is the odor created by pureeing white fish.  That was my least favorite duty, and even though it didn't happen often, it was something that I dreaded when I read the menu for the day.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Travelin' Man

I wish I could say that this exchange wasn't true as well, but it's damn near verbatim of what Alan told me.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Comic Review: Transformers Prime Beast Hunters #3

                You’re going to have to bear with me for a few weeks as the funds are getting tighter than normal around here.  I’m going to have to stick to reviewing comics that I would normally have bought anyway as no comic shops in the area seem willing to pony up a $4 floppy every week in exchange for some free publicity.  Seriously, if you want to see more in depth reviews of different books, just call up the comic shops in the Syracuse area and tell them to loosen up a bit.  That being said, the next few months we’re going to see a lot of Transformers reviews as that is the bulk of my purchases now.  We start it off with the one book that I have yet to review, Transformers Prime Beast Hunters.



Cover:
                All of the covers to this series are produced by Ken Christiansen and they all have a certain feel to them like they are right out of the Transformers Prime television show.  Obviously this is a huge plus as the comic touts its connection to the show from the get-go.  None of the covers to the comics (this one included) seem to have much in common with the story being told, almost as if they gave Christiansen a bunch of characters and told him to go nuts and they would fit the covers in wherever. As far as covers not pertaining to the story go, these are incredibly solid though.  This current cover features three of the Dinobots surrounded by Decepticons that are masked by shadows.  You can tell that they are Decepticons because of the symbol on their chest as well as the fact that they are glowing purple (the popular Decepticon color-scheme). 

                While the lack of holding lines on the artwork itself can lead to some muddled moments in terms of the artwork blending together, there is enough variation using light to make the characters separate ever so slightly from the background.  The movement within the three figures on the cover shows a great design sense as your eye moves fluidly throughout the image.  One would think that with the way that the characters are colored, combined with the blocky nature of Transformers in general that it would be a bit more difficult to achieve that kind of movement but Christiansen does it easily.

8/10 – I have to give it a knock for being a bit generic, but it has its own narrative qualities and a phenomenal design sense. 

Story:
                The general story of this series is that the Dinobots are left on Cybertron after everyone else leaves (which you can see the lead up to in the video game, Transformers War for Cybertron and the aftermath in the Transformers Prime television show) and they are not only trying to hold society together, but also to find out more about themselves as they have been subjected to numerous experiments at the hands of the Decepticon Shockwave.  The first two issues were more along the lines of keeping the peace on Cybertron while this issue starts to deal more with the basic origin of the Dinobots themselves.  While I am intrigued as to where the story will go, there is not much to this issue itself and it turns out to be a pretty quick read. 

Storytellers Mike Johnson and Mairghread Scott (and specifically Mike Johnson who actually wrote the issue) may have something bigger that this is leading up to, but after the last two issues that had a lot going on and felt like they really lived up to the Transformers moniker on the cover in terms of quality, seem to fall a bit flat here.  The big reveal at the end, where Grimlock and Swoop are fighting against actual dinosaurs is probably a bit of fanservice as who doesn’t want to se Grimlock fight an actual T-Rex, but it raises more questions than answers in terms of carbon-based life forms and their ability to exist on Cybertron.  Considering the fact that this brawl happened at the end of the issue, I will give Johnson an issue to work out the details of atmosphere, time (as the Dinobots have been in operation in their current iteration for a little while in the comic universe, so how did the dinosaurs survive, much less know how and when to break out at this convenient moment) and overall luck as Grimlock and Swoop just happen to be patrolling near Shockwave’s lab that spawned the Dinobots.

                Again, I will give Johnson the benefit of the doubt that after the dust settles we will start to receive answers to these questions and that everything won’t seem as “convenient” as it is presented here.  Other than that, the dialogue is good, with the interaction between Grimlock and Swoop staying true to their character and really playing up their own distinct “roles” within the Dinobots.

6/10 – The quality dips a bit in this issue, especially after the very well done first two, but it does set up a lot of questions to add to the mythos and keep us coming back for more.  I just wish it took longer than ten minutes to read.

Art:
                Agustin Padilla provides the art here and while it is miles away from the art we see in other Transformers comics nowadays, it is still very good.  The ability to consistently draw these characters in all their glory, both in robot and their “alt” modes cannot be understated, and while the Dinobots don’t turn into vehicles (which would be the bane of my existence) drawing the robotic dinosaurs is no easy task either.  Padilla handles this admirably and adds his own bit of flair in making the art darker and grittier than his counterparts in the other titles. 

                While Padilla does draw everything well, robots and actual dinosaurs alike, my main problem is the utilization of space on the page.  There are many times where Padilla will leave a lot of space around the figures, almost as if he is expecting a lot of dialogue to be added and he was making room for it.  When that dialogue is not added it just looks like poor pacing on his part as the panel could have usually been shrunk while others were expanded.  Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a background in nearly every panel, so even though there is a big space, it is not necessarily devoid of something, however looking at a large metal wall that has no bearing on the story is not really useful in any way.  I am not sure if this is the fault of Padilla or Johnson, the writer just not filing the space (I don’t know the scripting method used so can’t make that determination with any certainty).

7/10 – The art is a nice change of pace from the clean lines and open figures of most of the other Transformers titles.  Padilla does a great job of breaking up the different surfaces with a variety of textures as well. 

Overall: 8/10 – While this isn’t the best issue in the series, if you have even a passing interest in the franchise or the Dinobots, you should be reading this series.  It’s easy to see how Transformers stories have been told for nearly thirty years now.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Also a true story

No lie, he actually said this to me.  While I didn't heed his advice, the guy was always smiling so there was apparently some credence to the "Jamaican Life" that he preached.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hell’s Kitchen Episode Nineteen: And then there were…two…kind of

                For the past few weeks, my choice for the final two has been Mr. Mohawk and mixed up Cyndi.  They both seem like the most ready, the best fits for Ramsay’s restaurant at this time.  Was I correct in that assumption?  We’ll see, but first we have to get through the individual challenge.  This one started out with a puzzle, an actual puzzle that the contestants had to put together.  The team of Mr. Mohawk and squeaky voice completed the puzzle ahead of the other team of skinny black girl and mixed up Cyndi pretty easily and wins…nothing. Of course.  The real challenge is the now infamous “Taste it Now Make it” challenge in which Ramsay brings out a fairly simple dish with multiple components that each of the contestants need to get right.  The dish this year looked a little busy in terms of plating, but I’m sure it was delicious.  The three components of the dish that the chefs need to correctly guess is the protein, the puree and the vegetable.  Everyone thinks that the puree is butternut squash, which is incorrect as it is carrot puree.  So no one gets eliminated there.  The protein is what usually trips up the chefs in these competitions and this one is no different as Mr. Mohawk and squeaky voice are both eliminated because they didn’t choose venison as their protein.  Mixed up Cyndi chose venison and buffalo but only plated the venison so she lucked out.  It all came down to the vegetable.  Mixed up Cyndi had turnip while skinny black girl had parsnip I believe.  Mixed up Cyndi wins!

                For her reward she gets a $1000.00 shopping spree at a kitchen supply store in which she purchases a stand mixer for her mother, among other things.  She also gets a one on one lunch with Ramsay at his new restaurant “Fat Cow”.  The other contestants have to not only clean the dorms, but actually move stuff out, all the beds and everything and then set up for dinner service that night.  There aren’t too many surprises in the cleanup, except someone left their thong laying in the corner somewhere.  They didn’t say anything about it being able to tie a boat to shore so I’m assuming it wasn’t fat black girl’s but I could be mistaken.

                Mixed up Cyndi returns to the kitchen and dinner service begins.  This is the night that each chef gets to run the pass, expediting and plating food while being the “last line of defense” as Ramsay likes to say.  First up is mixed up Cyndi, who does an ok job of running things.  She does miss the fairly obvious blemish of crab substituted for lobster in the risotto, but she does keep food moving at a steady pace.

Mr. Mohawk on the other hand gets his ass handed to him.  He misses the white fish substituted for the scallops in the appetizer.  That is ridiculous though as I don’t know how anyone could really tell without tasting the dish, or squeezing the “scallops” and having them fall apart in your fingers.  He also was thrown a curveball by Jean Phillipe as a diner requested that the prosciutto not be included in the Beef Wellington.  That’s all well and good, except the Wellingtons are all pre-wrapped, so there’s no way that’s going to happen without them tearing apart a Wellington (which isn’t going to happen).  I think Mr. Mohawk got screwed here, is what I’m trying to say, and if he went home after this service I would be disappointed, but not surprised.   

Skinny black girl is up next and does a decent job of running things.  There’s not much to say because I think she caught the mistake by Chef Andy and ran a pretty tight ship.  The same can be said for squeaky voice as she caught a big screw up where the Chef Andy sent up a Veal Wellington instead of a Beef one.  She also caught many of the smaller mistakes presented by the other contestants, something that Mr. Mohawk was unable to do in his time at the pass.  That voice of hers served her well in this instance as she was able to be heard among the din of the kitchen and her orders were carried out correctly, probably to shut her up but I’m sure that was okay for her. 

Elimination time came next, and the first person to make it into the finals was squeaky voice!  She wasn’t my first choice but she did show that she could run the pass and improved every single service for the most part.  I’m okay with that choice.  Of course this meant that at least one of my frontrunners wouldn’t be going through to the final round.  We are treated to the revelation next as Ramsay sends home mixed up Cyndi.  This was a surprise to everyone as I was sure that not only was she going through to the finals, but that she would win the whole thing.  Ramsay mentioned her lack of assertiveness to be her downfall, which makes sense, it’s just kind of sad to see her go after she has done such a good job up to this point.

That leaves one spot open for two people.  Who’s going to face squeaky voice in the finals?  No one knows, at least not until next week when we get the whole finals experience.  The trip to Vegas, the choosing of new teams, the final reveal (though I wouldn’t be surprised if they expanded the finale to two weeks).  We’ll see!


See you next week!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Friday, July 19, 2013

True Story

When I was a line cook at the hospital for the maternity floor, this would happen every single night.  The dietitian didn't want o walk from his office to the kitchen more than once or twice a night so he would horde orders for a good half hour to forty-five minutes and then drop them on me all at once.  

This is actually how I got the chef's job at the hospital as well.  I started out working in the cafeteria (I wasn't a volunteer like Shrimpy, I actually had a job there) and one night they were short a guy on the line and asked me to fill in once my shift in the cafeteria was over.  I said yes of course because, duh, overtime, but also because I love to cook (it was mostly for the money though).  Well I subbed that day and never went back to the cafeteria full time after that.  They kept me in the actual kitchen, mostly cooking on the line for the maternity floor, with other assorted duties that come with cooking in a large kitchen like that as well.  It would have been a feel-good story if it wasn't in a hospital kitchen for a couple bucks an hour.  That goes to show you though, if you get an opportunity to advance, take the reins and do it.  Knock their socks off and they will find a place for you.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Comic Review: Red Sonja #1

                I read a short preview of Red Sonja about a month ago.  It looked intriguing at the time, so I decided that when it was actually released I would give the whole comic a shot.  While I find it odd that Red Sonja is a Dynamite Entertainment property while Conan the Barbarian is still under the Dark Horse umbrella (meaning the chance of seeing these two characters in the same comic, even though they technically live in the same, area is slim) I did find the premise interesting enough to give it a look.  Any time I can find a comic that takes me out of the traditional superhero realm, or at least the traditional superhero tale, I’ll do so.


Cover:
                I broke my own rule on alternate covers for this one.  Usually if there are multiple covers for one issue, I’ll grab the one on top of the pile so I don’t have any preconceived judgments about the cover other than the fact that it is the first one I see.  For this issue, I knew that there were a multitude of covers and I searched for the one by Amanda Conner.  There are a couple reasons for this.  One, she is a tremendous artist who has only gotten better as her career has progressed.  Two, as a former Kubert School student herself, it’s nice to be able to see someone make good on that “education”.  Three, I met Amanda at a small local convention back when I was going to school at the Kubert School and she was one of the nicest, most accommodating people I have met in the comic business (I met Tom Raney there too and he was just as cool).  So even though me buying that cover probably doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, it’s nice to know that I supported one of the good people in the business in some small way. 

And finally, the cover is just beautiful.  The linework is clean and crisp, and the coloring is expertly crafted to reflect not only the light from the moon above but also the light from the fire behind.  There is so much detail in the cover and each different item has its own feel, its own texture to it.  The hair on her blanket and boots has a different feel than the foliage behind her and the leather of her boots and wine skins.  Not only that, but the hair on her head has a different texture than the other hair in the picture.  The more I look at the cover, the more I notice in terms of little bits and pieces of texture here and there within the piece.  Plus, and this can’t be overlooked, Conner drew a scene from the book itself.  This is not something you usually see from a variant cover as many in the past have tended to stick closer to the spot illustration of the main character kind of formula.  The fact that Conner took the time to craft her cover based on something that happens within the book shows more of a reverence for both the source material and the comic book medium than just simply slapping a figure of Red Sonja on the page and mailing it in.

10/10 – Conner shows why she is so sought after in the business and still (in my opinion) the best female artist working in comics.

Story:
                Gail Simone, mostly known for her DC Comics work, has crafted a story that not only shows how ruthless Sonja is, but how she got to be that way.  Yes, there is plenty of room left to expand upon her history and I am sure that Simone will do that, maybe even as early as issue two, but she does an excellent job of setting up not only the story she is trying to tell, but also the history from which the story is springing from. 

                I am not intimately familiar with the original story of Red Sonja, so I’m honestly not sure how this telling of her origin compares, but I do know that what we have here at this point is a very good story that makes Sonja’s expert swordwork and brutality plausible.  I’m not saying that it’s not a little generic (the woman that has survived the dungeon and the arena as a captive and unwilling combatant only to come out of it a ruthless fighter) but it is well presented.  I think it would have been less effective if we had seen the full story right away, from her capture to her incarceration, release and the immediate aftermath of that release.  Instead, we are shown snippets, only the essential bits to get the story rolling, and that helps to keep everything fresh and not make it seem like a recycled plot.  90% of stories are the same, it’s how they are told that makes the difference, and Simone has found an effective way to tell this one. 

                The dialogue is not the best part about the story in my opinion.  It may be the inflections that Simone tries to give the characters in the way they speak in order to show that they are from a foreign land, but there is very little flow to it.  It clears up a bit when the two women prisoners are released and we get to see what happens in the aftermath, however even then I’m not sold on the dialogue itself.  Also, the twist ending was met (by me at least) with an “of course it is” reaction.  Again, I have no idea if this is following the original story closely or not, but it’s pretty easy to see the cliffhanger coming.

8/10 – Simone does a good job of world-building and progressing the story at the same time.  The issues with the dialogue are minimal at best, and some of the telegraphed plot devices seem like they were mandated from the source material more than Simone’s own personal style (at least I hope).

Art:
                Walter Geovani handles the art duties on this book and he does a fine job at it.  For the most part, the storytelling is good and the anatomy work is spot on.  Anatomy is obviously a big concern when you are dealing with a titular character that wears little clothing, but he handles it well with her and all of the other characters in the book.  His female faces all look incredibly similar, but that’s really one of the only knocks against the artwork.  Geovani does an excellent job of transitioning between a battlefield to a dungeon to a forest to a city and back to a different battlefield while making them all stand on their own in terms of design.  His backgrounds are adequately spaced out, he doesn’t overload the page with panels chock full of background, but he also doesn’t limit the use of backgrounds.  Geovani finds that happy medium that not only tells the reader where they are (and continues to do so throughout the duration of the book) but he also reels it back a bit, allowing the figures to breathe a bit and stand on their own without being cluttered on the page.  This also allows the reader to take a small respite and not be overwhelmed by all of the detail, which could get confusing especially in the battle sequences.

8/10 – The similarity of the female faces is not a huge problem, and hopefully one that Geovani avoids in the future, but I will say one thing, the guy can draw the hell out of a horse.

Overall: 8/10 – This is a good book and looks like it will be a good series.  If you want something a little different than your standard superhero fare than I suggest you give this a shot.
                 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hello Alan

Alan is a very real guy, and was one of the head chefs when I worked in the hospital kitchen in New Jersey.  Pretty much everything he says here in the strip, he uttered to me at one point or another.  Stay tuned for those nuggets of wisdom.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hell’s Kitchen Episode Eighteen: The Non-Consensus

                Will someone finally be sent home for the love of all things Ramsay!?  It’s been nearly a month since an elimination (seriously, between last week’s repeat and the fact that this is part three of “Five Chefs Compete” it feels like forever since someone was sent packing).  Let’s see if Ramsay has finally had enough of his current crop of chefs and starts to whittle down some of the dead weight.

                We open with an individual challenge in which each of the chefs had to make their own gourmet burger.  Ramsay prefaces this challenge by showing them his own gourmet burger that he casually mentions can sell for upwards of $100.00.  Go back and read that again, I’ll wait.  That’s right, a $100.00 hamburger.  Holy shit what has happened to society when we are selling burgers for $100.00?  It’s not even that a chef would put that rich of a price tag on it, it’s the fact that we have people out there willing to shell out their hard-earned cash to keep it in demand enough for it to stay on the menu.  This thing had better be made out of endangered baby seal meat with an orphan-tear aioli and tomatoes grown in the ashes of holocaust victims (too soon?) for me to even consider paying that much for a hamburger. 

                Okay, rant over, I feel better now.  The competition itself is not just a standard “make your burger and Ramsay will judge it along with one of his colleagues” though.  Instead, Jean Phillipe, the snooty Maitre D has invited a bunch of his friends to the restaurant.  They will all taste the burgers and vote on their favorite.  Upon completion of the tasting, Ramsay reveals everyone’s least favorite burger (blonde girl, which is not that surprising) and then states with forty percent of the vote, which based on the fact that there were five people competing is a crazy number, Mr. Mohawk wins.  His reward is a spa day and he is allowed to bring one of the girls with him.  He chooses mixed up Cyndi because (as he says) “She’s one of the guys”.  This kind of makes sense, because I have no doubt the other three would be talking his ear off the whole time.  Well played Mr. Mohawk.  Not only that but these two are the strongest chefs and most likely to land in the top two, so banding together now would help them in the long run. 

                While Mr. Mohawk and mixed up Cyndi get their facial on (it’s not as dirty as it sounds) the rest of the chefs have a laundry list of stuff to do as Ramsay has given Jean Phillipe and his staff the day off.  This includes steaming the tablecloths, setting up the dining room and even washing Jean Phillipe’s car.  Not only that, but then they have to set up for dinner service that evening.  That’s a lot of work for only three people in the time allotted, but through the magic of television they get it all done.

                The dinner service is a mess compared to the previous one where the chefs narrowly lost out to the returning champions.  It is not really as bad as where the chefs came from (they completed it, so that’s a plus) but it is still not up to par with where they should be and far below Ramsay’s standards.  Mr. Mohawk and mixed up Cyndi have a solid outing (maybe because of spa day, I don’t know for sure) but the other three are train wrecks.  Squeaky voice sends up shitty fish, skinny black girl sends up risotto that elicits a reaction I’ve rarely seen from Ramsay.  When he tastes it, it looks like a baby shit in his mouth, his reaction is that pronounced.  Blonde girl decides that she wants to be “Top Chef” for the day and starts firing tickets.  The main problem is that she is firing the entrees on tickets in which the tables are still waiting for their appetizers.  Ramsay hands her his apron and walks out of the kitchen, leaving her to run the pass and her garnish station.  I will give her a little credit, she actually does it.  I mean, food goes out and we don’t see any of it coming back.  How much of that is her leadership as opposed to everyone else just upping their game, I don’t know for sure. 

                Elimination time comes and Ramsay asks for two nominees.  Everyone is in agreement that squeaky voice should go up.  She’s a good chef but this was by far her worst service.  The last spot has a split vote between skinny black girl and blonde girl.  The only problem is that it’s impossible to have a split vote when you have an odd number of people.  I have no idea how that happened, and Ramsay apparently doesn’t care as he calls up all three of the chefs and sends blonde girl home.  Before she goes, he does state that he may have a job for her in the future if she keeps cooking and keeps her passion.  This is news to me as I didn’t think Ramsay was really into the McDonalds franchisee thing, but to each his own I guess.

                Next time, with the four strongest chefs left in the competition, two get eliminated after they each get their chance to run the pass.  Is there sabotage, intrigue, bad food in store?  We’ll see next time (or we probably won’t).  Only a couple more episodes to go!


                See you next week.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

I. Can't. Leave.

This can also be known as "Matt wrote the end of the story in the last strip and then decided to extend the storyline by going back to the hospital".  You'll find out why over the coming weeks.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Comic Review: Boneyard #1

                No, we are not travelling back in time to 2001 today.  That was when the original Boneyard #1 premiered from NBM Publishing.  This one, from Antarctic Press, picks up where that original series ended (for the most part), with all of the same characters and the same humor that made that original series pretty damn perfect.  Will this one live up to its predecessor?  Let’s find out.


Cover:
                It’s a Richard Moore comic book, so there’s a great chance that there will be a scantily clad woman on the cover.  This one doesn’t disappoint as Abbey, one of the main protagonists of the book is shown in an actual scene from the story, trying to keep her dress from flying up over her head while she is fighting a monster.  The expression that Moore has placed on Abbey says a lot about the character herself (and Moore has always been a master of conveying emotion through facial expressions) in that she is obviously fed up with having to play the heroine when all she obviously wants to do is enjoy a nice dinner.

                While the expression is well done, the pose, while accurate, seems a bit wooden and stiff.  If it wasn’t for the fact that Moore tilted Abbey a bit on the page itself, she would be incredibly distracting.  When Moore paints his own work, he usually tends to follow a very monochromatic palette.  Unfortunately here it is not as effective as in the past.  While Abbey tends to pop based solely on the amount of black utilized in her overall design, the rest of the cover tends to wash out.  There is little variation in the color scheme used here, so it is more difficult to discern the different parts of the monster behind her.  Everything is a greenish-purple blob for the most part (especially since most of the monster is off the page anyway, so we can’t really see anything too clearly or make much of an educated guess as to what is what on the monster).

6/10 – Not Moore’s best cover, but it hits on all of the bases.  If know that showing Abbey was the most important thing, but he sacrificed clarity in order to do so.  A little more of a varied palette in terms of the coloring might have helped as well.

Story:
                I have waited quite a while (since the original series ended in 2009) for the return of these characters.  This was probably my first favorite comic book after I got out of the whole “superhero phase” from high school.  I found this series when it was still pretty much in its infancy so I was able to watch it grow and wait on each quarterly installment with baited breath (I was a super nerd) and this was the only comic book that I actively kept up on after I stopped buying comics altogether a few years ago.  There was anticipation as well as a little trepidation when I picked this up.  Would this be as good as the past issues?  Would Moore be able to pick up where he left off in terms of the tone of the book after such an extended layoff?  Was he a good enough writer to keep the “voice” of the series even after such a rough breakup with the original publisher, which must have left him a little bitter at the very least?

                Then I read it.  Everything was as it should be.  The writing was just as good as I remember it from the original series.  The humor and the heart is still there and even though the romantic tension that was a highlight of the original series (that whole will they-won’t they dynamic that Moore expertly crafted) was gone because of the pairing of the two main characters at the end of the original series, Moore still was able to take that transition to a different level, focusing on their problems as a couple (and one in which one of the participants is a vampire with an age of many thousands of years).  This makes for the main push of the story as Michael (the non-vampire) is trying to live up to the reputation of the many boyfriends that his girlfriend Abbey (the vampire) has had in her loooooong lifetime.  Hilarity ensues. 

                While the plot of anything that Richard Moore creates is always well done, I find that the way he handles the in-story interactions, and the smaller jokes to be where he really shines.  Something as simple as a conversation between Michael and Abbey could seem clunky and unrealistic in less adept hands.  The part where Abbey admits that on their date she wore her “fuck-me boots” and yet any time the word “fuck” is uttered a small bat flies over it obscuring the word.  While it’s not necessary (Moore has never shied away from more adult interactions both verbally and visually) having that bat obscure the word fuck just adds to the humor level of the comic, something you rarely find nowadays.  Every once in a while, something like that is a welcome diversion, and the fact that the joke rears its head at the end of the comic is perfect.

                The only thing that I could have asked for is the inclusion of more of the supporting characters.   They are what really filled out the original series and made it memorable.  I realize that it would have been difficult to add everyone in, given the fact that it is only a standard sized comic book, but hopefully we can see what everyone else is up to in the near future.  That being said, as thin as Macabre was last month content-wise, Boneyard is bursting at the seams.  It feels as complete of a comic as I have read in quite some time. 

9/10 – There’s a reason that I pick up everything Richard Moore puts his hands on, and this issue of Boneyard is a microcosm of that.

Art:
                Moore changed his style up a bit.  Okay, let me clarify that.  If you’ve been following Moore for over five or six years you will notice that he has gone from a straight pen and ink/black and white style to more of an inkwash-heavy art style.  I’m more of a fan of his earlier work in that respect, but his inkwash work is just as good, and the fact that he tends to combine the two here on Boneyard has made it even more palatable.  I think the reason that I liked his artwork in the past so much was just how clean it was.  Every line had a place and a purpose, much like Doug Baron’s work on Jump Back Adventures (which, if you’ve never seen it before, you need to check out, Doug is a good friend and a phenomenal cartoonist). 

                Even after the long layoff between the end of the original series and the start of this one, Moore has kept all of the characters on model, just with the addition of inkwash.  The backgrounds are both complete and ever-present in practically all of the panels, perfectly rendered and providing the mood along with the setting for the story.  The monster in the story looks like a fairly typical Richard Moore monster.  It is well crafted and looks both humorous and menacing at the same time. 

9/10 – I am glad Moore is able to just do his work without having to adhere to a Marvel or DC deadline or editorial demand.  That being said, my only complaint about Richard Moore is that there isn’t more of his work.

Overall:  8/10 – Hopefully we get more of these Boneyard books in the future as this has reclaimed its rightful place on the top of my “favorite comics” list.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Peace Offering

My father always told me to "put things back from where you got them" and I think this kind of qualifies.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hell's Kitchen Interlude

No Hell's Kitchen recap today because there was no new Hell's Kitchen last week (probably because Thursday was the fourth and everyone was outside lighting things on fire).  Have no fear though.  I scoured the internet for Hell's Kitchen memes that seem to be popping up more and more nowadays and bring you some of the better ones to tide you over until the recaps resume next week.  Well done to the individuals that created these and put them out there for all of us to enjoy.








And now, my three personal favorites, in no particular order.




See you next week!


Gigantour 2013: Hot time in the country.

                Six bands played at Gigantour this year.  For those of you uninitiated in all that is Gigantour, it is the (usually) annual concert festival headlined by Megadeth.  Kind of like OzzFest, but on a smaller scale and usually with less bands that you don’t want to see.  Last year, my brother and I went to Gigantour way out in Glens Falls, New York.  It was held at a hockey arena in February, and the experience was…shall we say…less than memorable.  The lineup included Volbeat, Lacuna Coil, Motorhead and Megadeth.  While Volbeat and Megadeth were good, Lacuna Coil was terrible and Motorhead fell under the “let’s crank the volume, who cares if it sounds bad” umbrella that seems to plague bands at times.  Not only that, but because it was indoors, the acoustics weren’t as good all around and all of the stage tricks like fake smoke and bright lights hung around a bit longer than they should, masking the experience of actually seeing the concert.  This year’s show was in an outdoor venue, in the middle of summer, so I had higher hopes that everything would come together and make this a more enjoyable experience.

                My brother and I rolled up to the show about thirty minutes before it started and got a decent parking space.  Instead of going right in, we hung out and tailgated for awhile, soaking up the fairly tepid tailgating atmosphere.  We had actual seats, so going early and standing in the lawn to get a good spot wasn’t necessary.  We are both getting way too old to stand for that length of time, and my brother was just getting over a cold, so the fact that we could sit down between sets was a godsend.  That also meant that we didn’t have to listen to the opening bands.  If a show has one or even two openers before the headliner, I’ll usually take a listen, even if I’m not in general admission seating.  When a concert boasts six bands, with a few that I have never heard of…not so much.  Not only that but my general fickle nature when it comes to metal music makes finding new metal bands that I like very difficult. I like classic, older metal bands.  Any of the newer stuff, the screaming, unintelligible metal bands are not my cup of tea for the most part.  That being said, my brother and I skipped Death Division and Newstead.  While it would have been interesting to see Jason Newstead in a non-Metallica roll, we heard the music from our parking spot, it was not something that we really wanted to partake in anyway.  We headed in after that though, and I’ll run down the four bands that we did see.  This was amidst a cloud of sweat and body odor so forgive me if my recollections are a bit hazy as the smell of Campbells chicken noodle soup tends to mess with your senses a bit (yeah, I’m looking at you green-haired girl two rows up).


The seats were better than I anticipated.  What you don't see here are the fancy Hellyeah rugs they had on the ground for the guitar players to stand on.  

Hellyeah:

                I don’t mind Hellyeah, at least up until their most current album.  Unfortunately, the crispness of their first two albums was completely lost during their forty minute set of live music.  Ninety percent of their set was unintelligible.  This was not only due to the frontman’s screaming/slurring delivery, but also the fact that the double bass on the drums was the loudest sound on the stage.  I realize that a huge part of Hellyeah’s credibility has to do with the fact that Vinnie Paul is behind the drum kit, but that doesn’t automatically require you to make his sound the only thing heard.  Beyond that, the rest of the instruments were unintelligible as well.  There are two guitars and a bass in the band and they pretty much all came across as one big wall of sound.  That lack of separation, combined with the too-loud drums and the vocals (if you can call them that) made for a poor opening experience. The fact that Hellyeah needed an extra guy in the back, screaming (just fucking screaming) into a microphone seemed incredibly silly to me, and it’s not something I would ever pay full price to see again.   I will give the frontman a little credit as he was definitely full of energy, jumping around the stage and running around without losing his breath (a bigger feat than you would imagine considering the way he was screaming pretty much the entire time).  Other than that though, you can color me unimpressed with Hellyeah.

Device:

                Talk about taking yourself too seriously.  I know, David Draiman, you used to be in Disturbed, but come on.  You were in Disturbed, not Led Zeppelin.  From the fact that he came out on stage wearing what can only be described as Dracula’s bathrobe, to the posturing while he was singing, and the way he barked at two women to leave the pavilion during his set because they didn’t stand up, really dude?  You look like Phil Collins and Kevin Spacey’s love child.  The fact that he kept referring to Device as “his band” was a little odd as well, and it was quite clear that regardless of the skill of the other musicians, Draiman wanted all of the headlines and glory.  Speaking of the band, there was no bass guitarist.  At all.  The sound was okay though, and I could detect some heft to the music, which means that the sound was probably piped in, making it feel almost “Guitar Hero”-esque in that there was music already being played that the band had to synch up to.  For someone that was at the show to see Megadeth and, more importantly, Black Label Society, you can understand my disappointment with that kind of “non-traditional” delivery.               

                I will give Draiman credit in that he noticed a nine year old kid in the audience and pulled him on stage to give the child the spotlight for a moment (the only spotlight he shared for his forty-minute set) as he acknowledged the importance of the child rocking out.  The child had noise cancelling headphones on, so he wasn’t being injured by the volume, and he seemed to be having a good time.  I know we can have a debate about bringing kids to concerts (I’ve had that debate) but as long as you take precautions and are not afraid to leave early if necessary, I don’t see a problem, and musicians will gravitate to kids in the audience, making them feel included and giving a special air to their experience.

                The best part about the Device set was the Nine Inch Nails cover that they ended with.  Playing “Wish” was the highlight of the set for sure, even though I’m not as enthralled by Draiman’s vocals as many people appear to be (but that may have a lot to do with the fact that I’m not a huge fan of him as a person).  All of the problems I had with Device were magnified by Black Label Society as the next band, who was basically the anti-Device.


The anticipation was palpable in the air as that banner unfurled over the stage.

Black Label Society:

                I’ve been a BLS fan for years and this is the first time I have gotten to see them live.  You can imagine my excitement as Zakk and the boys took the stage.  While I have been disappointed in the past when my “bucket list bands” have not lived up to my expectations, BLS surpassed those expectations with ease.  The set list was expansive, covering pretty much every album in the catalog (save Zakk’s solo stuff, Pride and Glory, and the underrated and underappreciated Hangover Music Volume VI album).  That being said, everything fit well together, with Zakk barely stopping his fingers from moving the whole time.  Seriously, the only time he stopped playing was to change guitars, and usually during those times an “intro” to the next song was playing.  All in all, Zakk played for just about sixty minutes straight, not stopping to chat up the crowd like the frontmen from Device and Hellyeah did (and they did it a lot), and only giving a small thank you at the very end before closing out the set with “Stillborn”. 


They tore it up, and Nick (who you can see to the right with the bandanna) was fully engaged with the crowd the entire time.



This is a short snippet of the lengthy solo that Zakk performed halfway through the set.

                There was so much that BLS did right during their set.  The song selection, the bare bones setup, showcasing just the music and nothing else, it definitely ranks very highly in terms of the best live bands I have seen.  The setup was as simple as it could be.  Four guys playing instruments, two guitars, a bass and a conservative drum kit (compared to the other bands that played with them anyway).  There were no lights, no smoke, no flash.  Just a huge stack of Marshall amps behind the guys.  The only thing that could even be deemed “flashy” is Zakk’s microphone stand which was crafted to look like a heavy chain and has three skulls hanging off it. 

The best part of the set was the end of it though.  Not in the same way the best part of the Device and Hellyeah sets was the fact that they ended, no.  The best part was that when the set ended, each member of the band, from Zakk on down to Nick Catanese (more on him in a second) to the drummer and bassist (who looked like he rolled out of the Shire and picked up a bass guitar) came together in the center of the stage, congratulated each other for a show well done, gave each other a hug and turned to thank the audience and take a bow.  There was no pretension, no feeling of anything but gratitude.  Based on the amount of BLS shirts in the audience, it was pretty obvious that most people (myself included) came out to the show to see that band.  They could have ended the set, tossed a couple guitar picks and walked offstage, but they celebrated, they were thankful, and they were real. 


This is how you end your set.  Everyone was thankful and ecstatic, and Zakk led the charge.

                After the band left the stage and the stagehands worked to tear down the BLS set and put the Megadeth set together (which they did quickly and efficiently – more than I have ever seen in fact) Nick Catanese strolled out of the backstage/VIP area and milled around by the seats to my right.  As soon as people noticed him he was mobbed and did the best he could to take as many photos and shake as many hands as he could before he walked backstage.  Then, he proceeded to come back out and head up the aisle, shaking hands and probably stopping for more pictures along the way.  He showed that BLS is full of the right kind of guys, musicians that are for the people that appreciate their fans and work to give them what they want, even if it’s just a quick cellphone pic.  BLS proves that fame, notoriety and legions of devoted fans don’t have to make you prima donnas.  That kind of action basically cemented my return to a BLS concert and comfort with spending my hard-earned cash on a quality product created by quality people.

Megadeth:

                There was one thing that Megadeth had to do this year to top last year’s show; use less fake fucking smoke.  Last year, my brother and I had tickets along the side of the hockey arena  in the seats, deciding that general admission standing room areas just would not work for us anymore as our knees and backs age and creak along.  We were not that far from the stage last year, but the sheer amount of fake smoke covered the stage, and that combined with the lighting made it nearly impossible to see the musicians at times.  The quality of the music itself was great, so by improving the visual aspect of the performance, it would have created the complete package this year.


My phone was dying by this point, so the pictures here aren't as crisp because I couldn't utilize the flash, plus Megadeth loves putting bright lights at the front of the stage.

                As Megadeth often does, they delivered.  Not only was the music itself of the same quality as it was last year (a pretty similar set list as well, just with the incorporation of three new tracks off their most recent release Super Collider) but they had little to no fake smoke.  I’m not sure if something malfunctioned in the mechanism or what, but the band started out with a little fake smoke and after that dissipated it was not really replenished.  This left for a clear and clean viewing experience, and also an ample opportunity for someone to film portions of the show on their phone.  That’s kind of the cost of doing business nowadays though.  I could have done with all of the visuals that they had going on on the three screens behind the band as I found it distracting at times.  I Came to the show to watch Dave Mustaine shred, and if they had left it at that it would have been ideal. 

                The band was incredible, as always, playing all of the hits and pretty much focusing their attention on all of the songs that people wanted to hear (ignoring anything past Risk except for the new album).  Though a heavy-hitter like “Moto Psycho” would have been fun to hear, its absence in no way reflected poorly on the rest of the set.  The band itself, much like BLS was courteous and thankful of the people that showed up, and while Dave Mustaine interacted with the audience more than Zakk Wylde did, it was way more accepted and welcome than that of the leaders of Device and Hellyeah.  It really looked like Mustaine was having a good time on stage (which could be due to the fact that this was only the third show of the tour) but he, and the entire band seemed loose and happy, which always translates well during the course of the show.  Mustaine even stayed out for a few minutes after the rest of the band left the stage and people started to file out, saying good-bye and thank you to everyone that had their eyes still transfixed on the stage.  It’s impressive that a member of the “Big Four” is still humble enough to do that. 


This was early on in the set as my phone was dead by the end, but needless to say, the guys killed it the whole time.

                 Between BLS and Megadeth, it proves that your stance in the music community and your history therein is not a reason to treat your fans like they owe you something.  BLS and Megadeth are doing it the right way and should be commended not only for their contributions to the art form, but for their character.


World War Z: aka Zombie Indiana Jones

                World War Z starts off as a creepy pandemic-movie, morphs into a zombie thriller for about twenty minutes and then stops.

Oh, you wanted more of a recap than that?

It was a solid movie with good acting and a decent plot.  For the record, I have not read the novel by Max Brooks, so I have nothing to compare it to, but as far as zombie movies go, it was ok.  The camera work was actually incredibly well done, mirroring the pace dictated by the script.  When the scenes were calm and more of a talking head variety, they camera was slow and “normal” but when the action kicked into high gear (and by action I basically mean people running from zombies) then the camerawork was frenetic, often losing the main focus of the scene (usually Brad Pitt) but showing everything else around him. 

One thing that I really enjoyed was the realism that was shown in the reactions to the pandemic.  It definitely felt like the writers tried to stay as true to human nature as they could.  Oftentimes when you see any kind of post apocalyptic movie (and this qualifies) you are shown extreme examples of behavior to drive home the severity of the situation.  In World War Z, everything feels organic in nature and relatively believable (though the “tenth man” discussion in the Jerusalem sequence was a bit far-fetched). 

The main issue I had with this movie though was the fact that it didn’t really know what it was, or what kind of movie it wanted to be.  It was almost like the producers took 28 Days Later, any traditional zombie movie, and Indiana Jones and put them in a blender.  At times, it worked.  The individual pieces were well crafted, but when you put them all together, it was easy to find something that was lacking.  For example, if you are making a zombie movie in any respect, you would think that it would have a bit more gore to it.  I realize that they probably had to trim that out to maintain the PG-13 rating, but I would have to ask why? Why was that rating so essential to this project?  You’re making a zombie movie, with a big-name movie star, based on a very popular book.  You can’t tell me that those three factors wouldn’t have got you your desired audience and you could have still made things a bit more authentic.  It doesn’t appear like any of the zombies really eat their victims; they just bite them and run away, so I can understand not showing any gore there.  However there is a sequence where Pitt’s character cuts the hand of a soldier off to stop the infection from spreading after she is bit.  It looks like, in that sequence as well as the part where he changes her bandages, that they are going to great lengths to not show you that injury, even from a profile view.  I’m not some bloodthirsty bastard that needs to see the bone and blood pouring out of the wound, but the camera work in those sequences is almost like the director said “whatever you do, don’t show the wound”.  It’s an insult to anyone that came to the movie looking for a real zombie movie.  It’s just too blatant-looking of a move to be anything but mandated from someone and not just a conscious decision of the director.

Speaking of the zombies, I liked them…to a point.  I know they aren’t traditional zombies, but I don’t think that is what the filmmakers here were trying to convey.  This wasn’t a traditional zombie movie at all.  It was a pandemic movie, where that pandemic was something that turned the hosts into zombies.  I would have liked to know a bit more about what caused it and, more importantly, how it kept them going.  The zombies were dormant when devoid of outside stimulus (like noise, they apparently hate noise) but when they get riled up, they go batshit insane.  While they don’t really run any faster than a normal human would, they keep going without an end in sight until they reach their prey.  Even then, it’s usually a bite and then they move on.  How in the hell are they able to do that?  If they aren’t actually eating any of their victims then they aren’t receiving nourishment (not that traditional zombies could really metabolize their victims, but they weren’t moving at an enhanced speed) so how could they keep up that pace?  I would think that after that initial push, their bodies would start to break down.  Yes, they wouldn’t stop, and would probably eventually turn into the slow moving zombies we all know and love, but it would be more believable.  Not only that, but early on in the movie we are treated to the hypothesis that this comes from a virus, and that is what creates the zombies.  Later on, when they are trying to devise a defense, we are informed that the zombies, not being alive, cannot carry a virus or bacteria around their bodies (and therefore can’t be stopped by biological warfare).  So which is it?  Is this not a virus, or is the virus only what kills them initially?  If that is the case, what reanimates them and keeps them going?  In short, I could have done with a bit more science and a bit less zombies walking around with their teeth chattering like a naked guy in the arctic circle.


While part of me was happy that “patient Zero” was not found, and the origin of the virus (if it was actually a virus) was never completely figured out, leaving the ending so open-ended it felt like a cop-out in a way.  I realize that finding a way to fight back (I’m trying to do this without spoiling anything for anyone, bear with me), and not actually fighting back, was probably the main conflict all along and therefore the climax of the story revolved around that.  However, a more comprehensive denouement than “we fought back” should have been utilized.  How much of the world’s population was infected?  What happened to the survivors? Hell, what happened to the world when the zombies were eradicated?  How could they be sure they had all of the zombies eradicated anyway?  Obviously if there was one left it could transform the world in months.  What about the people that were infected by the camouflage, any side effect to that?  None of these questions were sufficiently answered, hell the movie ended before answers were even available in the timeline of the movie itself.  It almost feels like we were cheated out of an additional twenty minutes of movie.  If they had provided a more succinct and comprehensive wrap-up it would have put a nice bow on the movie and made it a memorable chapter in the pantheon of zombie fiction.  Instead we are left wondering.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Jackie Chan

Whenever you're looking for a cheap laugh, just throw a character in a diaper. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Comic Review: Satellite Sam #1

                I saw a pre-release interview with Satellite Sam creators Howard Chaykin and Matt Fraction a couple weeks ago and the premise looked incredibly interesting.  I love stories that transport us back in time, even if it’s only a few years, and with this one sending us back to 1951 it really piqued my interest.  Let’s see if it lives up to my expectations.


Cover:
                Chaykin’s cover pretty much tells you all about the inciting incident of the series right off the bat.  While we don’t know who any of the characters on the cover are, we have an idea that the “spaceman” is Satellite Sam, so it’s pretty obvious that this starts with his murder at the hands of this random scantily clad woman.  The imagery of blood spatter inside the helmet with just a single bullet hole is gruesome and intriguing at the same time.  It is 100 times more effective of an image than if Chaykin had drawn it more realistically with the mangled face of the corpse visible in the helmet. 

                A couple issues I had with the art were not dealbreakers by any means, but made me pause a bit when I was looking at it.  Satellite Sam himself looks a bit flat.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of weight and depth to the character (which is in direct contrast to all of the revelations we are going to find out over the course of the series).  The foot of the woman is also planted firmly on the hand of Sam, and yet her leg is straight and her foot is flat, as if she is standing on the ground itself.  Chaykin could have moved the hand up a bit and it would have worked better in my opinion.  I would have thought that maybe, just maybe, the suit was empty, but there is no indication that is the case given the weight provided to the gloves and boots. 

8/10 – A striking narrative cover can’t be spoiled by a few graphic missteps.  The woman is well drawn (what little we can see anyway) and the coloring is great.  The attention to detail is incredible as well, especially in the undergarments of the woman.  Chaykin could have made up some silly design that didn’t look as realistic but was easier to execute, yet he went a more authentic route.

Story:

                The best thing about the story is that it starts with Satellite Sam already dead.  That sounds a little morbid, but the reaction to his death, from thinking that he just hasn’t shown up for his job, to realizing that he is gone but his job still needs to be done, is more impressive than a linear narrative that included the act as well.  Being on the periphery of the murder and experiencing it along with everyone else gives us a closer tie to the living than it would if we had just seen the murder happen because we are finding out with them without being desensitized to it.  Their reactions are our reactions and we are sharing something with them as opposed to just reading about them.  The fact that this story starts off with the death of the title character (or at least the guy that plays that character on the television show) serves to throw many wheels in motion that will most likely reveal more mysteries than resolutions for some time to come. 

                While the plot and the overall craft of the story is excellent.  The first twelve to fifteen pages, up and through the reveal of Sam’s death, does not feel like a comic book.  The feel of the story to that point is almost like a movie script.  The frenetic pace coupled with the way that the characters are speaking would feel more at home in a movie setting than in the static world of a comic book.  It almost feels like Fraction is trying to control the pace by throwing as much dialogue as possible at you from the get go, except it’s not really saying much.  I’m not against dialogue heavy comics (hell, I grew up with the X-Men in the early nineties for Christ’s sake) but that dialogue seemed to have a purpose.  The opening half of issue one of Satellite Sam feels like the opening of a movie, before the title card.  You almost expect the names of the “talent” to scroll across the page as if you were watching it unfold on the big screen of your local movie theater.  While I understand what Fraction was trying to do to a point, it doesn’t have the desired effect on me, so I would have to say that it was unsuccessful.

6/10 – The story is good, I’m just not too sold on the delivery system as of yet.  Obviously there is a possibility that it will even itself out (and it kind of did after we got out of the television studio) but if it dips back into that break-neck, throw all these words at you kind of pace, it will revert to the unimpressive nature that it was for the first half of issue one.

Art:
                First of all, I’m all for black and white comics.  Love them.  Second, Chaykin is a master of creating textures in this medium.  Where many comics nowadays are eschewing texture for clean, crisp lines that leave plenty of room for the colorist to work, Chaykin has instead filled up the entire book with texture and character.  This is done in all manner of ways, from zipatone backgrounds to ink splatter, grease pencil and straight up pen and ink textures.  I love it all.  Everything is detailed and realistic, with just a hint of cartoony in there so you realize you are reading a comic book. The characters are not stylized but they are not to the point where they look traced out of a magazine.  The backgrounds are beautifully done and look just like a legitimate backdrop of 1950s New York City. 

                Sometimes the art gets a little odd in terms of proportion (hands being too small and things like that) but the only reason that is inherently noticeable is because the rest of it is spot on.  When you have something that looks incredible, any little wart is going to stand out.  The warts here do not detract from the overall product though, as Chaykin has done an incredible job of utilizing all of the traditional comic-making media to his advantage in crafting a period piece that feels like a period piece.  This is not an easy feat given that it is all in black and white, but he does it, and does it better than I have seen in a long time.

9/10 – Chaykin delivers, showing that he is still one of the better artists out there and that a no-frills, back to basics approach to comic making can work well in the hands of a master.

Overall:  7/10 – The saving grace of the first half of the book is that it is pretty to look at.  When The story catches up to the writing it makes the book incredible.