WIP – The What If Podcast Episode 4 (The Avengers!)

Hey guys, the WIP, the What If Podcast that’s a work in progress, is bumping up the posting schedule in anticipation of the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Here I discuss the Avengers, including their early genesis, along with Wonder Man, Vision, Ultron, and how it could relate to Avengers 3…

Hosted by me, @theslimjames, the WIP is also available on iTunes, Stitcher, theslimjames.com, or as a complete playlist on YouTube.

A special episode is coming up next!
Thanks, -J

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Monday Morning Quarter-Bin: Blackhawk

 

No, this isn’t an article about hockey, it’s a review of a random back issue I got for free mixed in with a lot of other comics as part of a well intentioned Christmas gift. Blackhawk #13, published April 1990, features characters from the “Blackhawk squadron” (according to Wikipedia), and drops us into the thick of some World War II era spy action, with a “Suggested for Mature Readers” warning to boot.

Blackhawk 13 cover

What could be so lascivious about this book?

For starters, a murder scene in a sauna featuring a Russian assassin, his buttcheeks, and sweat droplets that more closely resemble chicken pox. Oh, and after the murder it’s implied the assassin has an erection. I feel dirty.

Gross

Other plotlines included some stolen jade and prototype aircraft, and a dogfight/emergency landing.

Honestly, the art’s not bad, and if you’re into dialogue heavy, plot driven, non-superhero comics, there are probably worse examples out there than this. If you can find this for cheap/free, it wouldn’t be the biggest insult to your intelligence.

Other notes:

The Butcher: Armed and Ready

Buthcha

“DC Comics’ first new Super-Hero for the 1990’s”, you say? I’m sure he went on to have a long and successful run…for five issues.

This movie.

IMG_20140330_161952

“Ford Fairlane”? Never heard of it, but you’re telling me it has Andrew Dice Clay, Wayne Newton, and Priscilla Presley? Good god…

In all honesty, it seems like one of those “send ups” of a genre that almost seems to be a parody, but is just really, really bad (Surf Ninjas, I’m looking at you).

 

Rewinding the week (3.30.2014)

Another week comes to an end, another week begins.  Some shows have ended, I guess (I never really pay attention to solicitations for tv) and others are ending soon.  What will I do?  Probably go back and re-watch Heroes, as they say that it’s coming back.

The Walking Dead: So, there’s only one more episode to go.  We all know something horrible will happen and people will die.  I’m glad some of our favorites have made it to Terminus, and hopefully the rest will follow soon.  And Glen and Maggie?  There’s only one thing that can sum that up.

In lieu of continued recapping, I’m going to make some predictions and hopes for tonight’s episode.

I know the internet is abuzz with the people of Terminus being cannibals and I’ll admit, the thought did come up here at home.  I’m hoping that it isn’t true though.  I would rather it be some sort of weird cult.  I’m thinking that since they were reunited (see above) either Glen or Maggie will die.  Also, I think Daryl’s group of “outdoor cats” will find Rick and a fight will break out with Daryl unsure of where his loyalty lies for a few seconds, and then will side with Rick.

The Simpsons: I think this week’s episode had a meaningful message.  Too often people only care about art or consider things art because of who created it.  I enjoy going to art museums and often am disappointed by some of the things I see hanging on the walls.  I don’t know, or care, who the people are, but I do know that a plain green canvas with one orange circle does not fit my definition of museum-worthy art.

Bob’s Burgers: I was happy that this week heavily featured Teddy, a regular at the restaurant (and no, that’s not a fat joke).  Again, this brought me great amounts of mirth as always.

Family Guy: Just when I thought Chris Griffin (aka Seth Green, the son of Dr. Evil) was being written out of the show, BAM! There he is, front and center in an episode.  I’m especially happy since I will hopefully being seeing Seth at the Middle East Film and Comic Con this coming week.

The Following: Special guest star Beth from the Walking Dead.  I guess this is where she was taken after being kidnapped a couple weeks ago.  Blood sacrifices and suspenseful action continue to make this show watchable.

Archer: I guess this is like a part three of the Columbia trip as it told the story of how they all got back to their headquarters.  Also, the first appearance of a cocaine-whipped cream bikini.

Chozen: I’m coming back around on this show.  This past week was a stronger performance and quite funny.  Next week is gearing up to be a huge concert which will hopefully be a great season finale.

Arrow: I know that secret identities are a crucial part to all things superhero, but come on!  How anyone can keep their identity a secret when they are face to face, inches away from friends and family is beyond me.  Cool to see the Huntress face off against Black Canary.  The season is dragging a little but hopefully will end on a strong note.

Brooklyn 99: The show opens with Jake getting fired, which was dealt with in a fairly predictable fashion.  As Slim James mentions, the show is “funny/dumb” but for me, usually more funny.  The end, I agree, was too sitcom.  Can’t wait for this to come back next season.

That’s it for the week.  No Agents of SHIELD, which is frustrating, but hopefully it will be back this week.  Stay tuned!

The New Ninja Turtles Movie Can’t be that bad

As echoed by my cohort Turner, it’s easy to hate on remakes because whatever is being remade will never be as good as the original, or at least as nostalgia remembers it. The new Ninja Turtles trailer inspired more of this sort of sentiment and sentimentalism, but it’s important to remember that even if Michael Bay Presents Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Explosion Edition looks cheesy, there’s a long precedent of cheese in the TMNT pantheon. Here are just a few examples:

Really, this should be the end to any discussion if the Michael Bay Ninja Turtle movie will be the worst Ninja Turtles movie made. No. No, it won’t. I remember seeing this movie in the theater when I was a kid, a rare treat, and I can remember the Pizza Hut pizza I got being the best part of the experience. Want to talk about a movie that isn’t what the Ninja Turtles are about? How about they travel out of New York City and fight no mutant monsters, just nefarious ninjas? The new Ninja Turtles can’t be worse than this. It’s not possible. (I hope).

Whatever this is. I remember this as a kid, too, on a bootleg VHS. I also remember sheer disappointment at what I saw. To quote Milhouse, “They’ve been singing for two hours!”

And this. What the hell am I watching? It’s like guys dressed up as the Turtles for a summertime parade decided to make a movie with the costumes after.

This at least returned the phrase “production values” back to the franchise, though the Turtles still remind me of the prehistoric, full body puppeteering sitcom “Dinosaurs“. Then there’s the controversial addition of Venus De Milo, who may or may not be topless the entire time and throws the whole naming convention for a loop (surely kids would cheer for a turtle named “Georgia O’Keefe”?).

So to all those saying nay to the new Ninja Turtles, I offer you some consolation: it likely won’t be the worst Ninja Turtles movie ever (perhaps rising as high as third best), and if you’re worried about it “not respecting the source material”, I say I’m fine with that, since everything I remember about TMNT quickly spiraled away from any source material in favor of franchise building. At least they’re putting production values into this one, and maybe, just maybe, I can rectify the injustice of wasting a trip to the movies for Ninja Turtles III.

5 Reasons to Watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

An optimistic look at the trailer.

Look.  I get it.  It’s easy to hate on remakes.  It’s easy to hate one Michael Bay.  It’s easy to hate on movie adaptations of things that were sacred to us as children.  But let’s try to at least find something positive in this trailer.

I’m sure you’ve already seen it, but just in case, (and no I don’t mean the Carmen Sandiego villain) watch it again.  Don’t try to find the flaws.  Look at it as a newcomer to TMNT.  I tried, and here’s my top 5 reasons why this might not suck.

1.  It looks a bit dark.  If we go back to the original comics, TMNT were meant to be gritty.  Now, this trailer doesn’t look especially noir, but it looks darker than any other film/tv version I’ve come across.  This shows they aren’t just trying to appeal to the younger audience, but also us older folks who have grown up a little since seeing it in the 90s.  Maybe we will even see Leonardo cut into someone with his swords.  Wouldn’t that be crazy?

2. The turtles look a bit more realistic than I’ve seen before.  It actually looks like their head could almost fit inside their shell, although their arms and legs probably couldn’t.  Granted, their faces look a bit deformed, but it’s a change that I don’t feel is going to ruin the movie.

3.  Mikey still has some humor.  I’m hoping that the “It’s just a mask,” is not the only joke in the movie, and that while it is darker, we will still see some of the trademark goofiness that we loved as kids.

4. There is a scene on a snowy mountain.  (Ok, I know I’m reaching a bit now)  A cold-blooded animal on the snow?  That could set up potential disasters that were never (to my knowledge) explored in the television show.  Will they slow down?  Go into hibernation?  Surely it can’t be all sliding and crashing into military trucks.

5. Okay, I’m really stumped now.  I’ve watched it through a few times, trying to find something.  Shredder… is not even Asian.  Ummmm, didn’t see Splinter at all.  Uh, there is… I don’t know.  Look, at least I tried, okay?  No one else was being that positive.  Four out of five isn’t too bad.

So, will I watch this movie?  Of course.  And so will every other complaining fan out there, if for no other reason than to be smug about the fact that they were right that it would suck.  And maybe it will suck.  But come on, we got to at least give it a shot.  One trailer does not a movie make.

I know something that would make it great!  If movie theaters offered pizza while you were watching it.  I mean, there has got to be a mention of pizza, amiright?  So go on, bash me for looking at it optimistically.  I had to try.

The Magic School Bus: Lost in Space

Today’s cartoon is an educational treat.  I recently watched it in my glass of grade fivers after doing some studying on the solar system.  Even with the language barrier, they loved it and I could see some learning happening.  But who cares about that?  Let’s talk toons.

If you’ve never seen or read Magic School Bus, it’s about a very small class with a crazy teacher that takes them on insane field trips to learn about science.  The school bus is, I guess, magical, although the source of its power is never explained.  It seems to be alive, but can’t talk.  Maybe there was some spell cast on it to animate it, but we may never know.  The class is, as I said, small.  I think if I ever had a class of 8 kids to teach, I would get so much done.  The cast is pretty diverse; only half the kids and Ms. Frizzle (the Friz! if you’re nasty) are white.  The boys and girls are split four each and no one is stereotyped.  Positive role models, everybody!  As is the case with most cartoons, the song is as catchy as herpes and spreads through a class even quicker.

In this episode, Arnold (the class wimp) brings along his cousin to class to show her how “unusual” the fields trips are.  They say Janet is his cousin, but she looks as though she could be his exact twin, dressed in drag.  She seems to be a brat off the bat and shows off whenever she can (examples to come).  It looks as though the class is just going to a boring old planetarium but then, to no one’s surprise, they blast off into space.  I’m serious.  No one is surprised that the bus turns into a space ship and blasts off from the middle of a street.  Not even Janet, who has never been on a Magic School Bus field trip.  She just say,s “Highly unusual” as though she is a British aristrocrat.  The space ship makes it close to the sun in less than a minute, meaning that is is travelling at about 8 times the speed of light.  I’m not completely up to date on the theory of relativity, but I’m pretty sure that means a bunch of time passed on Earth (I really was never sure about that).

The class loops around the sun and makes a stop off at Mercury, Venus, and Mars, where the class jumps around and climbs ice cliffs.  Janet is more occupied with bringing home proof that she was on these planets and so is always getting rocks and ice.  The only time she jumps, she shows the otehrs that she is the best jumper and even brings out her blue ribbon from a jumping contest at her school.  Who carries that with them?  Honestly, when would that ever need to come up in conversation?  She also has her report card which she pulls out twice to show people.

In the asteroid belt, the bus runs into trouble after hitting an asteroid.  The Friz and Janet go out to fix it, but Ms. Frizzle ends up getting knocked aside by a rock and she and Liz, the lizard (another brilliantly named creation) simply float away, but remain in radio contact.  Now the studenst have to try to decypher her clues as to where she is and explore the rest of the solar system.  Their map is also a bit broken, hence the title Lost in Space.

Janet takes control and almost crashes into Jupiter trying to get some of its red spot.  Luckily the class manages to keep her under control after that and so they don’t stop at Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune.  Keeping her in control means having Arnold sit on her lap and be buckled in on top of her which leads to the best line of the show.  Again, Arnold is sitting on her, so keep that in mind.  As they pass the 7th planet Janet exclaims “Uranus doesn’t do a thing for me, so you can get off me!”  Way to slip a dirty joke into a kids’ educational show (not as bad as fingering Prince on the Animaniacs, but that’s a story for another day).

They finally find Ms. Frizzle on Pluto, just stargazing with Liz (this was back when Pluto was considered a full scale planet, not just a dwarf).  This means that she floated faster than the bus, that was already going faster than light.  Insanity!  Anyway, the bus is too full with Janet’s souveniers to take off so they argue about what to do until Arnold just takes his helmet off, turning his head into a block of ice and forcing them to abandon the space rocks and rush for home (presumably at about 1000 times the speed of light by now).  It’s okay, though, as in the end, he just has a bit of a cold.

A great flashback to one of public television’s best shows and a big part of my science education as a kid.  Seriously, I had a bunch of the books and still remember lots from them.  If there is a better was to teach science than through the magic of cartoons, I don’t know it.

 

 

 

Friday Top 5 (It IS Spring, right?)

Today’s Friday Top 5 will probably be a little less media heavy, as I’ve been a little busy this week and haven’t really “watched” a lot of things.

1. $75, cash. (I figured a picture was unnecessary, so I included a link to the wiki answer for the difficult conundrum of writing a $75 check).
Obtained by me for a two hour focus group; all I had to do was listen to some uppity women complain about waiting at the doctor’s office. What’s great about this is it’s paying for my dinner at Gather, a restaurant specializing in locally sourced food and one that looks to have some amazing possibilities.

2. The Mind of a Chef on Netflix. This is hardly hot and fresh, but I burned through seven episodes this week and look to rack up a half dozen or more next week. While David Chang is hardly a compelling host, the subject matter, a mix of haute cuisine, food production documentary, and kitchen demonstrations, all with a recursion back toward Asian cuisine, have me craving more episodes.

3. The Habs 2-1 shootout win over the Bruins. As a Montreal Canadiens fan living in New England, I’m often subject to the obnoxious expulsions of Bruins fans, more so because of the B’s recent Stanley Cup success. Every time the Habs beat the Broons, a frenchie gets their wings (or at least a plate of poutine).

4. Brooklyn Nine Nine’s season finale – A nice little piece of plot progression for this comedy as [spoiler?] Andy Samberg’s Peralta will go undercover for the FBI in the coming months. Brooklyn Nine Nine quickly became one of my favorites after I gave it a chance, as it successfully straddles the line of “dumb/funny” rather than just “dumb/dumb”. My only misgiving was Boyle (spoiler) waking up in bed with Gina only to scream in the classic sitcom “what have we done” moment. To quote the late great Barenaked Ladies, woo hoo hoo, it’s all been done.

5. This “fan-made” Daredevil trailer.

Apparently this is part of the fella’s grassroots movement to get an audition for the planned Daredevil Netflix show. Probably won’t happen, but I appreciate his hustle. This can go with “Dirty Laundry” for the “Marvel Knights we’ll never see” collection.

Dishonorable Mention:
The comic seller (who shall rename nameless, because it’s not that big of a deal) who told me my online order was delayed because he was busy shooting a spot on some TV show. I hadn’t noticed any delay, and seriously, #humblebrag much? “Sorry, I’ve been soooo busy being an extra”. Gimme a break.


That’s better (and what an epic, tension-building lead in).

X-Men “Night of the Sentinels Pt. 2”

Season 1 Episode 2

Aired 11/7/1992

Previously on X-Men, we ended with Jubilee being captured and taken away by the Sentinels, and a group of X-Men just about to open a door with a squad of goons waiting on the other side. In the previous post I had said that the X-Men were breaking in to this facility to save Jubilee, which I found in this episode to be false. Jubilee is being held in an entirely different facility. The X-Men are breaking in to a different one for the sole purpose of destroying mutant records.

This episode starts back at the Mutant Control Agency, where Cyclops, Gambit, and Rogue are waiting outside for the rest of the team. Cyclops is whining because he doesn’t know what is going on inside with the rest of the X-Mean. Storm, Wolverine, Beast, and Morph are shown making their way back to the door from the end of the previous episode. Just as Storm is about to open the door, Wolverine can apparently smell the gun oil from the lasers that the guards have. Now Im no gun expert, but it seems to me that a laser gun wouldn’t need too many moving parts, which I assume is what the oil is for. But anyway, Wolverine can smell the laser gun oil and slams the door before Storm can open it. Storm then blasts the door and the guards beyond with a huge gust of wind, throwing them down the corridor.

Back outside, Cyclops has now become so impatient that he decides it would be a good idea to just blast their way in to see what’s happening. As soon as they enter through the face they are immediately attacked, and Cyclops makes sure to let Rogue and Gambit know that no humans are to be harmed. These people are trying to kill you!

Storm and the rest of the team on the inside find the room that holds the mutant records. Morph is sent in, posing as a military officer, and sends the guards away on a different mission. If it was this easy to get in there, why didn’t Morph just disguise himself and walk in the front door? That seems a little more efficient. After making their way into the records room, Beast in put on the task of erasing the files from the computer, while Storm goes for the filing cabinets holding the hard copies. Much to her dismay the cabinets are locked! What ever shall they do? Just have Wolverine stab the lock, that’ll do the trick.

The location shifts now to the Sentinel factory in Detroit where Jubilee is being held. A man by the name of Henry Peter Gyrich is interrogating Jubilee about her relationship with the X-Men. Mr Bolivar Trask comes into the room and sees that Gyrich has brought Jubilee to the factory and expresses his displeasure. Gyrich explains that the capture of Jubilee was a test to see how easy it would be to capture the rest of them. Gyrich is interrupted by a phone call from the Agency, which is now under attack by the X-Men. He tells the caller to “eliminate those mutants immediately!”.

Back at the Agency a full on battle is raging outside, while Storm and the rest of gang inside finish destroying the files. Just as Beast is about finish uploading a virus to destroy the files, Storm becomes impatient, and blasts the computers monitor. Now again, Im no expert in computers either, but I don’t think destroying the monitor will destroy the files. Apparently patience is not something taught back at school. After their mission is accomplished, they exit the facility and meet up with the rest of the team outside to make their way to the Blackbird. Before they can make it back, they are ambushed by Sentinels who were hiding in the trees. Wolverine greets the first one with, “hey tin woodsman! Im sending you back to Oz…In pieces!”. Probably my favorite line of this episode. More Sentinels begin emerging from the trees, so Morph, being that standup guy that he is, runs to Wolverine’s aid as the scene cuts away.

Jean Grey, back at the school, seems to suffer mild stroke while wearing the cerebro helmet. She takes off the helmet while saying, “It’s Morph, can’t you feel it?”. Professor Xavier puts on the helmet, and with a puzzled look says, “Morph? I don’t sense…anything”.

Back at the mansion, after an argument between Wolverine and Cyclops, we find out that Morph and Beast were left behind. Jean Grey delivers the news of Morph’s demise to Wolverine, who storms away to destroy Cyclops’ car.

Wolverine jumps in his car and goes on a drive to reflect on the recent events. Through the magic of the flashback, we are brought back to the battle at the Agency. When Morph has run to Wolverine’s aid, he pushed Wolverine out of the way of a Sentinels blast, and ended up taking it himself, and paying the ultimate price. Beast was also blasted by a Sentinel, and was thrown back into an electric fence and therefore electrocuted and captured.

At a local bar, Wolverine runs into some not so friendly locals during a game of pool. After whipping his claws out, the guys still seem oddly confident, and proceed with the trash talking. That is until Cyclops enters the bar, and one of the locals knocks his glasses off. At that point they just about crap their pants and beg him to put his glasses back on. Wolverine and Cyclops make their way outside where Cyclops presents Wolverine with a plan to locate the Sentinel base.

Gyrich and The President have a very short meeting in which the President instructs Gyrich to stop all activity involving the registration program. Gyrich goes out into the hallway to throw a mini tantrum, in which he throws his papers all over the White House hallway.

Cyclops goes to Jubilees house to meet with her foster parents, knowing that they are being watched by Sentinels. Cyclops emerges from the house and is immediately met by a Sentinel who instructs Cyclops to surrender. To which Cyclops replies, “of course…NOT!”, and then shoots the Sentinels arm off. The one armed Sentinels announces that he has been damages and must return to base for repair. Why it would need to announce this out loud is beyond me. The rest of the X-Men quickly give chase to the Sentinel as it is returning to its base.

Once back at the base, the one armed Sentinel crashes through the roof, disrupting the power, and therefore shutting down Jubilees restraints. The X-Men have followed the Sentinel back to the base and begin an all out assault, and destroy all the Sentinels at the base. You know they mean business when the intro theme song is playing in the background.

Jubilee returns home to gather her things so that she can move in to the school with the X-Men. The version of the episode that I found online cuts off pretty abruptly after Jubilee arrives at the school. Its around the 20 minute mark so there probably wasn’t much more so Im not too worried and you shouldn’t be either. Next weeks episode will most likely have a recap of anything I missed.

Next Week: ”Enter Magneto″

-A

WIP – The What If Podcast Episode 3 (the X-Men, and Andrew the Giant!)

Hey guys, the WIP, the What If Podcast that’s a work in progress, returns, and this time I’ve brought a co-host and cohort, Andrew The Giant! We discuss three issues of X-Men What Ifs, dealing with their origins (or at least their All-New, All-Different, Giant-Size origins) as well as movies and cartoons. My favorite episode so far!

Hosted by me, @theslimjames, the WIP is also available on iTunes, Stitcher, theslimjames.com, or as a complete playlist on YouTube.

We’re looking forward to getting AtG back in studio soon…
Thanks, -J

The Invincible Iron Man #521

Marvel Comics

Continuing on the streak of not issue number ones, here is another Marvel comic that gives the reader a look at one of the biggest names in the MU.  It’s odd to think that considering before the movie, Iron Man was just another guy, known by some, but not as popular as Spider-Man, or even the Hulk.  This issue is by Fraction, who I’ve mentioned before and usually enjoy.

The recap page tells me a great deal that I wasn’t aware of.  Rhodey faked his death and is now (then) Iron Man.  The Mandarin was inside of Tony’s head and partially in control of him.  And it appears the last issue ended with Stark kneeling to the Mandarin.  I’m not sure it’s the best jumping on point from that, but it is part of of a storyline.

So Tony is in some jail in “Mandarin City,” along with criminals and what I’m thinking is Ezekiah Stane.  I’m not really sure. I never was big on IM supporting characters.  He’s working for the Mandarin, building stuff with “Zeke.”  He gives his master a list of supplies and clearly there is something else going on with that list.  Probably some secret parts to build something to help him escape.  You would think Stark would get his ass kicked every day in jail with villains, but surprisingly, most leave him alone.  All except the Melter, who is one of many Melters.  I think he is the one from the Young Avengers: Dark Reign miniseries, but I am not 100% on that.  Anyway, he uses his power, or tries to, against Tony, almost gets blown up by the security system, and is only saved by the arc reactor in Tony’s chest.  Man, that thing can do anything, apparently.

I think the storyline of Stark in jail would be good.  I liked Daredevil in jail a while ago.  But the other storylines were a bit confusing, at least for someone who isn’t following the series.  There was the new CEO or something of Resilient (which I guess is Stark Industries?) giving a speech to shareholders.  There was Rhodey stopping a jailbreak with Pepper Potts as Rescue there too.  However, even she didn’t know who was in that suit of armor, which was pretty cool looking I might add.  I only know about Potts from a couple Dark Reign issues I read years ago.  Then there is a part with some boy who is talking with a cast of people I don’t know, including what appeared to be an Asgardian dwarf, since he was small and swore with runes.  Not sure what was happening there.

The art itself, done by Salvador Larroca, was good, but I don’t really have anything specific to say about it.  It was realistic, but not hyper-realistic.  Some peoples’ faces occasionally bothered me, especially the mouths, but in general I found it easy to look at.

Overall, the book was not one I’d reread, and did not make me want to purchase the next in the storyline, which I think is the whole point of the free comics.  If it was just Stark in a Mandarin-controlled prison, I’d want to know more.  But as far as the other storylines went, I found them boring, and confusing for a new reader.  Again, I don’t read IM regularly.  Maybe if I did, I would appreciate the rest more.  But as a new reader, it just didn’t pull me in enough.  Better luck next time.