Saturday, December 24, 2011

"Chuck" Wraps Production 12/7/2011

Chuck wrapped production on 12/7/2011 and the final episode is set to air 1/27/2012. My favorite show on television is set to end and I can’t help but be grateful. It was a show whose first season only had 13 episodes in it and had to struggle from season to season for survival. Except for the first and the fifth season, none of the other seasons had the same episode count. Here is a breakdown of the episodes per season:

Season 1 – 13 episodes
Season 2 – 22 episodes
Season 3 – 19 episodes
Season 4 – 24 episodes
Season 5 – 13 episodes

Chuck is a fantastic show that deserved 22 episode seasons every season and it’s a shame that it’s going away so soon. Hopefully it did enough episodes for syndication and that a lot of new fans will find it there.

I just watched “Chuck Versus the Santa Suit” and there was so much emotion in that episode (and a kick-ass cameo by Stan Lee). I wish this final season had been longer but I’m glad the writers, actors, and fans are getting a proper goodbye.

And, as always, I’m glad I have more episodes to look forward to.

"Community" wins TV Guide's 2011 Fan Favorites Award

I know it happened at the beginning of December, but I was excited when I saw the TV Guide issue in the grocery store. I don’t usually get TV Guide and I don’t visit the website so I had no idea there was a fan favorite poll going on. I’m glad Community took top honor.

While Community isn’t my favorite show on television (that would be Chuck which is also on NBC), I have both seasons and have rewatched them several times. It’s the funniest show on television and I haven’t been able to watch it thanks to a grueling full time school/work schedule.

According to TV Guide’s article, “The network caused an uproar earlier this month when it announced Community won't be on its midseason schedule; online voting for the Fan Favorites award closed before that story broke.”

Hopefully NBC will listen to the fans and this amazing show will be renewed next season. Because this is Chuck’s last season, if Community isn’t renewed I’ll be losing two great shows next season.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Toastmasters Humorous Speech Contest

I have belonged to one of the many Toastmasters in San Diego since July 2010. I joined with a friend because she and I were going to take a speech class the following semester. Neither of us were comfortable doing public speaking but both of us waned to keep our grades up (she was transferring to SDSU and I wanted to know I could if I chose to).

What started as going as class prep has turned into something I do every Thursday night. At the beginning of August, one of the members encouraged me to compete in the humorous speech contest and, at first, I refused. Then I though of something I could talk about – action figure collecting.

I competed within my club and won that night. Six weeks later, on Oct 2nd, I was competing with the winners in my area and won that competition also.

Now, on the 22nd of this month, with my family and some of the club members in attendance, I compete in the Eastern Division. I’m only a few more competitions away from the International competition. I probably won’t make it that far but I’m still happy with what I’ve done and the super-small trophy that came with it.

Once I’m eliminated from the competition, I’ll post my speech on the blog.
My super-small trophy. It's awesome.

Sean Maher Comes Out

I didn’t see it coming which is okay since I have poorly developed ‘gay-dar’ (does anyone else use that anymore?). He says in an interview in Entertainment Weekly online that even his Firefly/Serenity cast-mates didn’t know.

His coming out may have consequences for him personally (all positive hopefully), for me it doesn’t change anything. I’m still a huge Firefly/Serenity fan. I’ve still enjoyed meeting him and getting his autograph a few times.

But I’m glad he came out. As most of us geeks know, it’s hard to act like something you’re not (like acting like you aren’t into comics for example) just because you’re worried about other people’s reaction to it. Of course Sean Maher had his career at stake so I completely understand not coming out before but I think that he’ll continue booking jobs and the fans will keep showing up wherever he goes.

Taped-Up Peace Sign: Adventures in Volleyball

This post is going to be a little different from most of my posts because I’m not going to talk about nerd culture (*gasp*).

I’m taking ‘Introduction to Vollyball at a community college near my apartment (I need it for a GE credit). There’s a girl in my class named Rania. Rania is a tiny girl probably still in her teens. In the first classes we had together, when the ball came near her she was timid and got out of the ball’s way. In the next few weeks she would go after the ball grudgingly, sometimes with success.

But last Tuesday, Rania showed up for class with the fingers you use to give the ‘peace sign’ taped up – just the two fingers on each hand. Rania was a different player – she went after the ball each time it came near her and had a lot of success controlling the ball.

We all noticed. We had to because every time she contributed to getting a point for the team or getting it over the net she would flash the peace sign at us with both hands. It was hilarious. By taping up 4 fingers she had transformed herself into a confident and enthusiastic player.

That made me think of the expression, “You have to fake it until you make it.” All that means is that if you act like a CEO, you will shape your life to gain the confidence and the skills to become one. It also reminds me that the reason you wear a suit to an interview is because how you dress impacts how other people view you but, more importantly, it also impacts how you feel about yourself.

I don’t know what my version of taping fingers up is in life but I know that Rania’s attitude had me going after everything that came near me too.

Thanks for giving me something to think about Rania (not that you’ll ever read this).

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Week With Buffy OR How I Played Hooky From Work To Watch “All My Children”

Wednesday, (Sept 21) I took the day off of work to watch Sarah Michelle Gellar’s return to “All My Children” – a series I’ve never seen before and a series I’m not likely to ever watch again. Why? I don’t know. I guess I thought seeing her on the show that she was once a regular on would be a big deal. She was only in the first 7 minutes of the show for about 2 minutes of screen time – BUT IT WAS COOL. She plays a crazy patient who claims she’s Erica Kane’s daughter (the role she originally played in the 90’s) and that she can see vampires (she left the show to be on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and there’s a bit of funny dialogue about vampires being trendy.

And watching “All My Children” was only the 1st of 4 times I spent with Sarah Michelle Gellar this week. I watched the first and second episodes of SMG’s new series, “Ringer” and here is a quick review of the series so far:


Sarah Michelle Gellar is back as Bridget, an ex-stripper who is a recovering addict and the only witness in a high-profile murder trial.

Sarah Michelle Gellar is back as Siobhan, a spoiled socialite with a troubled marriage who is having an affair with her best friend’s husband.

Confused? Don’t worry about it – Bridget and Siobhan are twin sisters. When Siobhan is presumed dead, Bridget takes her place to get out of testifying because she thinks it will make her life safer. Unfortunately someone is after Siobhan so Bridget has to survive assassins and fit into Siobhan’s life at the same time.

While the first episode was jam-packed with things, the second episode really capitalized on it. If you’ve seen it (and if you haven’t SPOILER ALERT) you know what I’m talking about. Bridget tries to bail Siobhan’s life by emptying out her ‘emergency’ account and skipping town but the pesky dead body in a loft she’s having converted is threatening to be discovered so she has to cancel her plans and keep the body hidden just a little longer.

Good: Sarah Michelle Gellar is back. The writers don’t waste much time trying to convince us Siobhan is really dead – she pops up at the end of each episode where she is talking to someone on a phone and trying to coordinate something. Bridget is an engaging character lost in someone else’s life and in over her head – Sarah Michelle Gellar’s return was worth the wait. The series is thrilling – every 15 minutes I’m thinking, “How is she going to get out of this?” In one of the last scenes of the second episode she’s helping Siobhan’s step-daughter ride out a hangover, holding her tight as she cries and decides that she’s not leaving – that she’s finally in a place where people need her.

Bad: I suspect that it will get canceled without an ending – most of the shows I enjoyed last season were. And when the main villain turns up looking to beat up or kidnap Bridget’s sponsor and gives up because someone runs up to talk to him, he looks about as threatening as a muppet (the writers are really going to have to do something to make us think this dude is a threat).

Watch it/Skip it: I’m going to watch it…obsessively. It’s a good show and I’m in for the long haul.

And I read the 1st issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 and here is a quicker review:


Buffy and the gang are back. Abandoning the Slayer Army she built, Buffy and the Scoobies have set up in San Francisco. But instead of actively looking for danger, the gang are all leading normal lives. Buffy is a waitress at a deli and has two normal roommates.

Good: Joss Whedon is back and he’s brought all the good dialogue with him. It’s great to see the gang interacting with normal people for a change and it’s great to see the gang in general.

Bad: Let’s see…the story jumps around and isn’t clear at times (what did Buffy and Xander do in her room and when was she walking around with Riley (during the party or after?)).

Read it/Skip it: Not a great start for Season 9. I read a few pages of a preview that had a few slayers come after Buffy and she gives them a beat down – that would have been a great way to start season 9. Oh, and I left a fingerprint on the spine of the book – come on Dark Horse, spring for good ink. But I know the next issue will add to this one and all will be made clear – I’m just impatient. If the book came out every week it wouldn’t be fast enough for me.

So my week with Sarah Michelle Gellar was great and I’m looking forward to the rest of season 9 and a (hopefully) full season of Ringer on TV. Welcome back to television SMG!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thundercats action figures

I was at Toys ‘R Us looking for “Marvel Universe Super Hero Team Action Figure Packs.” Wave 3 just came out and I’ve never laid eyes on any of the figure packs. It’s like Walmart, Target, and Toys ‘R Us stores in San Diego don’t stock it – or they’re ordering so little of it that it’s rare.

Anyway, I’ve been seeing the new Thundercats commercials and I haven’t seen the new cartoon but I was a fan of the original and I want to see the new one. The racks were stocked with the new 4” figures and I saw Cheetara. I looked a little more and saw that there was only one Cheetara and one Wilykit and there were enough figures to assemble all six Thundercats. So I bought the entire team.

It’s not every day I pick up an entire team of figures. I know they’re 4 inch figures but they’re Thundercats – they should be a little bigger than GI Joe figures.
 All six Thundercats

Justice League #1 review - SPOILERS

Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Scott Williams

SPOILERS AHEAD: This is the first issue of DC’s new launch and it’s awesome. It starts five years ago where it remains because I imagine this first arc is the formation of the team with Cyborg’s origin. I’m just guessing that this means all the heroes have been around for about 5 years when their books start.

The book begins with Batman chasing an extraterrestrial monster while the police chase both of them when Green Lantern shows up. This the first meeting between the two heroes and instead of a misunderstanding which leads to a fight before the heroes team up – the two team up to go after the alien. It’s great seeing Batman and Green Lantern get to know each other; Green Lantern is surprised when Batman tells him he doesn’t have any power and Batman swipes Green Lantern’s ring to get a closer look at it.

Before the pair can catch the alien, it screams something about ‘Darkseid’ and sets off a device that tries to incinerate them but thanks to Green Lantern’s construct, they’re safe while the alien is eliminated. Since the thing was alien, that leads the due to Metropolis to see a dangerous man they’ve never met – Superman. Unfortunately for Batman and Green Lantern, their first meeting IS a misunderstanding that leads to a fight.

Good: Geoff Johns does a great job with the characters. I like the scene where Batman steals GL’s ring and then gets a zinger in. This Batman is a little more likeable and not quite as pissy as the Batman who would scowl and say, “Hmmmm.” And the fact that Green Lantern has to tell Batman that there is a GL Corps means that the world hasn’t met them yet – we could get to see the first time each GL meets each member of the Justice League.  And we’re about to get Cyborg’s origin story – I don’t even know what his origin was so I’m excited to see it.

As always, I love Jim Lee’s art. Not just the new costumes or the way the characters move, but I love Green Lantern’s constructs. This Green Lantern doesn’t hit you with a block or make a bubble shield; he hits you with a fire truck and shields you with large riot police holding shields or puts you inside a safe. It’s awesome.

Bad: Because the story happens in the past, there’s no clues as to where we’ll be when the rest of the titles launch – will the authorities still be hunting the heroes or will the world be celebrating them?

Buy/Skip: Buy it. Buy them all if you can. I don’t know if you’ll ever see a comic book line relaunch again.

Angel & Faith #1 review - SPOILERS

Angel & Faith #1 by Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs

SPOILERS AHEAD: I didn’t know how I felt about this title. Angel or Faith should have their own title but I didn’t think they’d be great together. I was wrong…as I usually am when I doubt the wisdom of Whedon.

The book starts with Giles trying to help a woman whose daughter is being inhabited by a demon. He’s not powerful enough to get rid of the demon so he seals it inside the girl, promising that he’ll return one day to finish the job. Then we jump to Angel & Faith finishing what he started and freeing the girl from the demon.

As they kill the demon, Giles’ spell unravels and Angel winds up with the memories of the day Giles and Jenny Calendar fell in love – both of whom he killed by snapping their necks while he was someone else (Twilight and Angelus respectively).

Then we meet Nadira. She’s a friend of Faith’s who is a slayer. Nadira tells her about the day all of her slayer squad was killed by a pair of new big bads while Twilight watched and vows to kill Angel and everyone involved.

When Faith confronts Angel with the information he tells her about LA going to Hell and becoming Twilight because he believed it was the only way to keep the entire planet from going to Hell. That’s when Angel tells Faith what he wants to do: bring Giles back to life.

Good: Angel and Faith have taken up residence at Giles’ home where Angel is reading through his journals for things Giles left undone and getting to know the man better. The flashback of Angel killing Jenny and LA going to Hell was a great way to acknowledge that the writer knows the mythology and for the reader to know that the characters are still affected by these events.

The art is fantastic – unlike the hit or miss art of IDW’s Angel, Dark Horse has always had fantastic art on the majority of their Season 8 issues and now they’ve got Rebekah Isaacs onboard.

Bad: I don’t understand Whistler’s part but I imagine that will be revealed in future issues. Bringing Giles back from the dead isn’t something Angel would do if he knows Buffy was pulled out of Heaven. He knows Buffy was dead and knows she came back to life but I don’t know if he knows the circumstances. I’m not sure if Faith even knows. I guess if Angel and Faith don’t know what Buffy went through, that makes this decision very interesting.

Buy/Skip: This isn’t a gateway book. You can’t pick it up cold, have no experience with the characters, and still get the layers of story. If you’re a fan of Buffy and have gotten some or all of Angel’s IDW series, you’ll love this. It continues Buffy Season 8 and Angel’s IDW series perfectly and captures the characters perfectly. Join me in buying it and anxiously waiting for #2.

What I did during the Southern California blackout

Southern California had a huge blackout from Orange County to Tijuana and as far east as Arizona. Because most businesses closed when the lights went out and it was obvious that they weren’t going back on anytime soon, everyone got on the road at the same time. I had power-outage related problems at work so I didn’t leave until most traffic had cleared (around 8pm).

It was weird. I had to be really alert because none of the visual cues that told me when I was coming up on an intersection with a stop light. Even though they weren’t working, you’re supposed to stop at lights and act like they’re four-way stops.

When I got home I went for two things, a flashlight, and my lightsaber.

A few years ago, a friend and I were at Comic Con and they had specials on the lightsabers because sellers were getting rid of what was left of the Master Replicas line (now they are made by Hasbro under the name Force FX Lightsabers). A friend and I agreed that if we had the money to get one, we’d do it.

So there we were on Sunday deciding which lightsaber to get. He chose the Luke’s green lightsaber because it was his favorite. I picked Luke’s blue lightsaber because it was Anakin’s which was passed down to Luke. I also picked it because in the Star Wars saga, it’s the very first lightsaber we ever see ignited.

So after I loaded the flashlight in the moonlight (I like how that rhymed) I loaded the lightsaber up with batteries. There’s nothing like swinging a lightsaber around during a blackout to pass the time. I went out to the pitch black parking lot of the apartment complex and when I turned it on, it was so bright I could only see the saber and couldn’t see the cars around me. It was awesome. I don’t have a picture but everyone looks more awesome with a lightsaber.

Proof: a great T-shirt site for pop culture fanatics

I found out about teefury on the whedonesque website back when they were offering this T-shirt:

teefury's T-Shirt for April 18, 2011

Ever since I’ve been trying to check in once a day so I don’t miss anything cool. Teefury is a site where artists create pop-culture inspired designs that are only available for 24 hours at the low price of $10 before another shirt pops up to replace it.

Here’s a gallery of shirts I’ve purchased so far:

 Browncoats released April 25, 2011, Star Wars Kessel Run released July 7, 2011, and Dukes of Hill Valley released August 30, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Eliza Dushku Defends Hayden Panettiere, my bible (well…my homepage anyway), had an item about Eliza Dushku defending Hayden Panettiere charging for autographs at a fan expo. Here is the original article from the Daily Mail in the UK. 

Are times that tough Hayden? Actress Panettiere charges $30 an autograph at fan convention
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 4:10 AM on 27th August 2011

She found herself without a regular television role after Heroes was cancelled last year.

But it seems times have got a lot tougher for Hayden Panettiere.

The 22-year-old actress spent today at a fan convention in Toronto signing autographs for the princely sum of $30 a pop.

And if fans wanted a photo opportunity with the star, they would need to cough up $45 for the privilege, according to an accompanying sign.

The actress wore a low key grey T-shirt with her hair pulled into a ponytail as she greeted convention goers.

The four day Fan Expo Canada Convention in Toronto is for fans of  horror movies, comic books, science fiction, animé and video games.

Fan conventions such as these have more of a reputation of attracting actors in the twilight of their careers.

However, Hayden joined the likes of Harry Potter star Tom Felton and Buffy actress Eliza Dushku putting pen to paper at the event.

However, it doesn't seem that Hayden is washed up quite yet.

She starred in Scream 4 earlier this year, and will appear in drama Carmel next year alongside Lauren Bacall and Alfred Molina.

Next, she is said to have signed up to star in high school thriller Downers Grove alongside Twilight actress Nikki Reed.


Open Letter to The Daily Mail
Posted to News on Aug 30, 2011

Editor-in-Chief, The Daily Mail
Dear Sir,

I write to you because the piece of your paper that concerns me was anonymous. The piece was 27th August titled “Are times that tough Hayden?” ridiculing and attacking the actor Hayden Panettiere for participating in a Toronto Expo fan gathering where fans are charged money (Oh shock! Oh shame!) in exchange for autographs, signed pictures, and the chance for a bit of face time with their favorite celebrity.

My dear editor, how does Hayden’s action differ from what you do for much of the content of your “news” paper? There we have celebrities exchanging their name (sometimes willy-nilly, no permission asked), their time, and their pictures in exchange for a bit of publicity for their work. At least the fan shows (such as the current Toronto Expo one) are honest and up front about the exchange. In addition, at these shows both fans and celebrities get some precious small contact with each other as real people. Your paper does not provide that value.

Yes, you will have to tell me where you think you get off attempting to diminish a young actor who is attempting to reach out to fans in one of the only practical ways provided by the entertainment industry, an industry your paper is a part of and largely dependent on.

It is particularly shoddy that the author scoffs at Hayden’s lack of “Harry Potter” or “Spiderman” fame while leaving himself unnamed as “Daily Mail Reporter.” Talk about being a parasite! Does Daily Mail Reporter want to shoot down Hayden’s career, just at its beginning, and then take a salary for doing so? Seriously, Sir, for shame.

As someone who goes to conventions and pays for photo ops and autographs, how do I feel about it?

I remember when Comic Con was only able to get one celebrity to show up. I remember the year Jean Claude Van Damme came. I remember the year Tia Carrere came. Van Damme didn’t stick around for autographs, he came to plug TimeCop and bounced. Tia Carrere came to promote and sign autographs because she was going to star in either the television show or movie “Shi.” Crusade Comics had a comic book printed up with her likeness on the cover to celebrate.

That was in the early 90’s when no one charged for autographs. Then Star Wars actors came. I remember seeing Kenny Baker and I ran over to an 8x10 dealer to get a photo and I had him sign it and he asked for $10. I must have looked at him like he was from another planet because he said the price again. I paid and left and soon discovered that David Prowse and Peter Mayhew were also charging for autographs.

From then on, more and more celebrities came to the con, charging for autographs but they weren’t charging for photo ops until 5 or 6 years ago. Now charging for autographs and pictures with the celebrities is commonplace. What I appreciate about the Hayden photo on the Daily Mail site, is that there is a big sign that says how much she charges for each. When I have gone to Comic Con or Wizard World, there are celebrities that I’m interested in but I don’t wait in a line to find out how much they’re charging so I don’t bother.

I’m okay with the celebs charging with a few caveats.

1)      The price is visible and there aren’t hidden fees (one of Mick Foley’s handlers asked me if I wanted him to sign a photo as all of the wrestling characters he has played – I said okay and the guy wanted an extra $15 so I said forget it) so I don’t have to make decisions on how much a celeb is worth to me while I’m standing in front of them. That can be embarrassing.
2)      If your prices aren’t visible, you have to be VERY up front with people about what your charging for. I was at the Lightspeed booth at the Con one year and a woman wanted an autograph with someone from Star Trek (I can’t remember who) and she got the autograph and put down her money and asked for a photo with the celeb, when she was done with the photo they charged the fan more money. She didn’t know that a photo with the actor was extra.
3)      If I’m paying for a photo op and it’s not by a professional photographer but with my own camera, I don’t buy it. An autograph you might be able to sell if times are tough but I’m not paying extra money for the celebrity to stand up and smile (and I remember the times when buying an autograph got you a free photo with the celeb).

Creation Conventions (which I love) are up front with everything. You know how much things cost and get tickets for autographs and photo ops way before you’re standing in front of the celebs so you can just enjoy the time you spend in with the celeb. Wizard World conventions are also good for trying to keep the autograph prices of their celebs in attendance (not all of them because they don’t always know in advance) and Froggy’s Photos have all the photograph prices on their website before the convention.

At the Con it’s almost impossible to know what anyone is charging and it’s tough to justify standing in a long line for someone you might not get an autograph from when there’s so much other stuff to do.

I don’t love paying for autographs but there are some advantages to paying for them. When the Con has casts or people come out to sign promo items, they don’t charge for the autographs so even people who don’t care about the signing get in line for autographs. After the Con, those autographs end up on eBay. If I want to meet the celebrity and there’s some idiot in line who is trying to find out what that celeb has been in, it’s annoying. Charging for autographs helps weed out these ‘trolls.’ Charging also helps keep the lines manageable. People who don’t want to pay or think it’s too much to pay are separated from the fans who are willing pay.

For those celebrities I’m willing to pay for autographs from (and I’ve purchased them from Hayden at Comic Con one year and Eliza at a Creation Convention last year), I’m a big fan and the autograph is worth it to me. I was going to see Hayden again this month at the Wizard World Los Angeles convention until it was canceled.

The Daily Mail asks if Hayden is desperate. Most stars Hayden’s age are going out partying, getting hooked on stuff, and making headlines for whoever they happen to be dating. Hayden is a working celebrity who has been lucky enough to do projects that has given her a lot of fans. If she waited twenty years to show up at conventions, people might not care about getting her autograph as much so she’s striking while the iron is hot. Plus the time she spends smiling and shaking hands with the fans is enabling her to strengthen her relationship with the fans and gain new ones so that when she does a project, more fans will tune in or buy tickets. In the absence of anything to promote, Hayden is promoting herself. In the absence of anything to promote, Eliza Dushku is promoting herself.

Celebrities are making themselves more and more available as there are more and more conventions for them to attend and that’s a good thing. If you don’t want to pay for autographs or photo ops, don’t. As always, the strongest vote is the one we make with our wallet.

Hayden at the convention in question.  I wish I could have gone because she was a sweetheart when I met her.

Monday, August 29, 2011

RIP Wizard World Anaheim

I was looking forward to Wizard World Los Angeles when I discovered the date of the event had changed from September to TBD (to be determined). Now, according to the web page, not just Los Angeles has been removed but so has the Anaheim convention.

The Anaheim convention was fun while it lasted. Hopefully Wizard World will add a convention in Southern California. For now I can only wait and see.
This is a limited edition 2011 Wizard World Anaheim Exclusive Justice League of America Lithograph.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cool find at the Comic Store this week

Today I went to Southern California Comics (my favorite comic book store). Sometimes they get a hold of older action figures that line the walls and they had an old Iceman figure from 1993 for $4. I couldn't pass him up for that price. I know he isn't the 3 3/4 scale that I collect in, but I did want the figure when it came out - I just couldn't find it. This figure came with a slide you could put his feet on and then fill with water. Then you put the figure in the freezer and when the water was frozen you could take the figure off the slide and his feet were in a block of ice you could slide around. Very cool...literally.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Goodbye DC Universe, Hello Relaunch

Next month, Justice League #1 comes out and the DC Universe is reborn. I ordered a bundle of all the new #1 and #2 issues from and can’t wait to get them.

As I watch the DC books come out this month, I’ve gotten a few to see how the titles end. Some of them have ended with retrospectives on the character’s long histories (Batman #713) while others ended as they were rushing off to save another planet (Green Lantern Corps #63) or falling in love (Supergirl #67).

It’s been bittersweet reading some of the last issues, knowing that the next time I see these characters they’ll be reinvigorated by some of the best creators in comics.

It’ll be like the new Star Trek – continuity will be reset and the future and the back stories will be new and unexpected. Things like The Killing Joke will have happened, but Crisis on Infinite Earths or The Death of Superman may not have. It’ll be a universe where Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, and hundreds of others may have never died and come back to life.

A lot of people don’t like change – I don’t either. But the thought of rediscovering some of my favorite characters like I did with Marvel’s Ultimate Universe or DC’s All Star line, is exciting. I’ve only read the first few pages of Justice League in the preview issue but I can’t wait to get my hands on the issue next month.

Young Justice figures - a rip off

As a cartoon, Young Justice is great (I’ve only seen the pilot movie) and I plan to check out the entire first season when they’re available on Netflix. Since I’ve been collecting Marvel Universe figures I’ve really been hungry for great looking 3 ¾ versions of the DC Universe. There hasn’t been any yet and I was hoping that the Young Justice figures would be those figures.

The figures being 4” wouldn’t bother me if it wasn’t for all the other things wrong with the figures. On the positive side, the figures look like their cartoon counterparts. On the negative side, these figures have almost no articulation and some of the figures have weird poses (on the Batman & Robin 2 pack, Batman has his wrists toward you and his arms are curled like he’s lifting invisible weights).

The basic figures run in the $10 range (a good $1 to $1.50 more than the superior Marvel Universe figures) and the 6 inch figures run in the $20 range. The 6 inch figures are a better deal with lots of accessories and articulation but the 4” figures are a complete waste of time and it shouldn’t be long before they’re canceled.

Quick Review: Conan the Barbarian

I wasn’t a fan of the original movie so I wasn’t really looking forward to this new one. I have a friend who was really into the original film so he wanted to see the film. The theatre we went to didn’t have it playing in anything but 3D so we forked over $15 to see the film.

I’m a fan of Jason Momoa and Rachel Nichols so I was rooting for the film to be good since I didn’t want to see it in the first place and I spent $15 on it.

Good: All of the first part of the movie with Conan as a kid is fantastic. The 3D action could be a little distracting at times so I’d lose track of who was doing what to who in action scenes. It’s awesome to see Jason Momoa on the big screen. When Conan throws down with the main villain the first time, the fight is interesting and intense.
Bad: The story centers around a villain trying to reassemble and activate a mask that will give him the ability to rule the world but when he gets it working it doesn’t seem to do anything to give the villain even the slightest advantage in his fight against Conan.
Own It/See It/Pass: If you’re a Conan fan, you should pass – my friend loved the original and hated this film. For me it was worth seeing but not owning. Seeing it in 3D wasn’t worth the price so see it without.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Quick Reviews: Captain America, Cowboys & Aliens, Harry Potter 7 part 2, Transformers 3, 30 Seconds or Less

Captain America: The First Avenger
There’s one thing that Marvel films does better than anyone else: tell a great origin story. Marvel has always been about digging into who the character is as a person before giving them their powers and then exploring what those powers mean to the character wielding them. I roughly know Cap’s origin story (he got injected with Super Soldier Serum, fought Nazis, the Red Skull, and got frozen until the Avengers found him years later) but there is a lot of story in-between that the film deftly covered.

Good: Great origin story – well fleshed-out. Chris Evans does a great job being the hero that other heroes look up to (I can’t wait for Avengers). The part after the credits is fantastic and I can’t wait for Avengers (did I already say that?).
Bad: Very little shield throwing. But to be fair, I wanted him to throw it every 3 seconds in a fight scene.
Own It/See It/Pass: I’ve seen it twice and intend to add it to my blu ray shelf next to the other movies leading up to Avengers.

Cowboys & Aliens
There have been a lot of bad reviews. A lot of people hated this movie. I like it. A lot.

Good: The story was good and there were a lot of great scenes with Harrison Ford. The battle between the Cowboys, Indians vs the Aliens was fantastic.
Bad: The device around Daniel Craig’s wrist did most of the fighting for him through most of the film.
Own It/See It/Pass: I liked this movie a lot. Definite add.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
I watched Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone the day before the movie and two things struck me, 1) How young the cast was and 2) how great their acting has become.

Good: Fantastic story even if it didn’t conform to the book. I know how it ends (I read the spoilers (i.e. the book)) but was still tense. The action and the acting and the loving way these characters are portrayed really brought these characters to life.
Bad: Not enough Neville in the previous films. In the book, he has a tragic backstory but he’s growing to be more and more of a badass every book. The film did a great job of showing you the result of all of his growth but to people who have only seen the films, it might seem sudden. Also, I loved the books and the films and I’m not happy that it’s come to an end.
Own It/See It/Pass: See it 20 times and buy it 30 times. If it’s not on your blu ray shelf, your shelf will hate you for it.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Here is another film critics hated (as did most fans). This is another film I liked a lot. I know Sam was really whiny (which seems to be drawing the bulk of the venom toward the movie) but I saw it as a parallel between being a child star or an ex-millionaire. When a child star is popular and everyone is kissing up and they’re getting all the fan mail, money, and attention – they expect that. When their show is canceled, they have to adjust to not having any of that stuff (or at least not as much). Sam is a kid who helped save the world so he knows what being a hero is like and wants to do something important. When a Decepticon comes after him at work, he goes to the Autobots for help and is refused by the guards protecting their secret base. Of course Sam flips out – he’s saved the world, is friends with the Autobots, and he needs their help.

Good: Another great action sequence like in the first movie. The final action sequence is a non-stop fight for about 20 minutes and it is high octane, exciting, and everything we love about Michael Bay films.
Bad: As much as people love/hate Megan Fox, I don’t like the new girl and I didn’t like Megan Fox. I don’t like the female love interest because she hasn’t added much to any of the 3 films. Even the scene with her and Megatron at the end seems wedged in there to make her useful.
Own It/See It/Pass: I’ve also seen this movie twice in the theatre and considering all of the detail in the special effects (specifically the transformations) you should see this on the big screen. A friend of mine gave me the first two films for Christmas and I liked this film, so yeah – I’m going to add this one to the blu ray collection.

30 Minutes or Less
Description from In the action-comedy "30 Minutes or Less", Nick is a small town pizza delivery guy whose mundane life collides with the big plans of two wanna-be criminal masterminds. The volatile duo kidnaps Nick and forces him to rob a bank. With mere hours to pull off the impossible task, Nick enlists the help of his ex-best friend, Chet. As the clock ticks, the two must deal with the police, hired assassins, flamethrowers, and their own tumultuous relationship.

Good: There are a lot of great comedic actors here and Dilshad Vadsaria is super-hot.
Bad: The tagline for this movie should be “30 Minutes or Less: The Amount of Time You’ll Spend Enjoying This Film.”
Own It/See It/Pass: PASS.

Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Live Review

I went to see the stage adaptation of Joss Whedon’s, “Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” at the 10th Ave Theatre on July 29, 2011. I’m a big fan and really enjoyed this fan-based production.

It had been a while since I watched my copy so I think they might have added a scene or two so that the actor’s could change or get into position. The play was just as funny and entertaining as the original.

Good: Great acting, fun singing, and the way they used shadows and set pieces to replicate the special effects was great.
Bad: The gun exploding at the end and Penny getting hit was hard to see because I was in the back and it happened upstage.
See It/Pass: If you enjoyed it on the internet or on blu ray, you’ll like it just as much in person. I saw it with a group. Three of us had seen it while one of us hadn’t. The one who hadn’t already seen it was a little lost but enjoyed it. If you’re lucky enough to have this live show land anywhere near you, go and see it.

It's playing August 26-28 at Elmwood Park High School Auditorium in Illinois
Follow them on Twitter (@MindsEyePlayers) and on Facebook

 Dr Horrible: Nathan Turner, Penny: Jane Lui, Captain Hammer: Michael Minto

A half-black, half-Hispanic, possibly gay Spider-Man?

Ultimate Spider-Man has been my favorite title for the 10+ years it’s been going. So when I heard on the news that the new Spider-Man was going to be half black and Hispanic and saw all of the reactions on the internet, I had to chime in.

First, I’m going to remind everyone that the Ultimate Universe isn’t the Marvel Universe. The Spider-Man you’ve known and loved since the 60’s is still alive and well. The Ultimate Universe is a unique universe where the characters and situations are familiar but there are a lot of twists and turns. It’s a universe where Reed Richards can turn out to be a villain, Colossus can be gay, Wasp can be eaten by Blob, and Hank Pym can avenge her by (literally) biting Blob’s head off.

The Ultimate Universe has been the place where creators can make bold, shocking choices. It’s a universe where I’ve gotten to see Kitty Pryde date Peter Parker and Wolverine drop Cyclops into a deep hole in the Savage Land so he can have Jean Grey all to himself. And how great is the relationship between Peter, Johnny, and Bobby?

Marvel let a bunch of creators use their characters to create a different universe and allowed Brian Michael Bendis to write Ultimate Spider-Man for the entire run. And we almost got Mark Bagley to draw the entire run.

Killing off Peter Parker is a subject that I’m split on. On one hand, I was nowhere near done spending time with him. On the other hand, the guy who created the series and gave me such a consistently great read month after month has decided to end it. There is something amazing about the guy who created Ultimate Peter Parker being the guy who writes his death. I read the death and the fallout issues and they were amazing.

So what do I think a half-black, half-Hispanic teen (who may or may not be gay) named Miles Morales being the title character in the new Ultimate Spider-Man series? I’M IN.

Brian Michael Bendis has written a ton of things I’ve liked and there’s no reason to believe that this won’t be one of them. I liked his debut in Ultimate Fallout #4 and look forward to seeing him interact with Peter’s supporting cast while running into other heroes who will compare him to the original.

I’m looking forward to watching Miles Morales try to do the right thing while trying to get out from under Peter Parker’s shadow. And I’m sure Nick Fury will be right there to remind the kid how big a shadow that is.

I kind of like the fact that Peter Parker’s story is a finite series. If it had gone on longer than Bendis would have liked or turned it over to someone else, the title might suck and we might not care about Peter’s death. Having Miles Morales doesn’t take away from how much I enjoyed Peter Parker. If I want to visit Peter, I can check the regular Marvel Universe or read back issues of Ultimate Spider-Man.

 Welcome to the Ultimate Universe Miles Morales, hope you survive the experience!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Marvel Universe action figure wish lists

I’ve mentioned that I’m a huge 3 ¾  action figure fan. Specifically I’m a big Marvel Universe fan. A friend and I were debating which figures should come out. Some were practical (the standard and John Byrne version of Susan Storm and the John Byrne version of Reed Richards) and some are never ever going to see the light of day (the western version of Ghost Rider complete with horse).

I sat down and wrote down a lot of my favorite characters and figures I’d like to add to my collection. Recently, (WEBSITE LINK) added wave 15 & 16 (no pictures but I can’t wait to see what they look like). Wave 15 has Darkhawk – a character I who I thought would never get a figure.


Of the figures that have already been released, here are 10 alternate versions of figures I’d like to see in no particular order.

Angel (with wings, from early X-Factor) – Angel’s worn various costumes with the real wings so I suggest the red and white costume from X-Factor #15, his last appearance before becoming Archangel.

Kitty Pryde (as Shadowcat) – The blue outfit was Kitty’s main costume in the 80s and some of the 90s.

Cosmic Spider-Man – From Amazing Spider-Man #326-329, Spectacular Spider-Man #158-159, and Web of Spider-Man #59 (1989): Acts of Vengeance was an event in many Marvel titles where villains trade heroes and try to take them out. Spidey found himself imbued with Captain Universe’s powers in time to take on Gravitron, The Hulk, Magneto, and a Tri-Sentinel. Although he didn’t wear the Captain Universe costume much, Spidey in full cosmic garb is a playable character in “Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions.”

Ghost Rider (Danny Ketch) – In 1990, Marvel introduced Danny Ketch, a new Ghost Rider who wore a leather jacket, spiked gloves and gauntlets.

Ultimate X-Men – There has already been a lot of X-Men characters released but none have been given the “Ultimate” treatment yet.

Joe Fixit (Grey Hulk in a suit) – In the 90’s, Peter David gave the Hulk a few different personalities but, as Joe Fixit, Hulk wore a nice suit and worked as a casino enforcer.
 Joe Fixit and the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider would make my New Fantastic Four collection complete

Punisher (in Captain America costume) – From Punisher: War Journal #6-11 (2007): When someone is disgracing the memory of the recently killed Captain America, Frank dons a version of Cap’s costume and goes after them. 

Storm & Black Panther as Queen and King of Wakanda – They married in 2006, Black Panther #18 and while I don’t have a specific costume in mind, they have both made appearances in more ceremonial type outfits. This would make a great comic pack.

Nightcrawler (in Pirate outfit) – From Nightcrawler #1 (1985): While the costume is in the Nightcrawler mini-series, it isn’t the first time he appears in a pirate outfit. Plus, Kurt Wagner is a HUGE fan of Errol Flynn and dreams of being a swashbuckling hero.

Daredevil (in armor) – From Daredevil starting in 1993: Scott McDaniel was a hot artist who drew a lot of people to Daredevil with his stunning artwork and Daredevil’s new armored look.


Here is a list of 10 heroes I want them to come out with in no particular order.

Scorpion (Carmilla Black): This ex-SHEILD agent isn’t just a cool character but may also be the biological daughter of Bruce Banner. And she has a cool costume.

Scarlet Witch: C’mon…there’s already a Vision figure and she was responsible for several major events in the Marvel Universe.

American Dream: A female Captain America in the M2 universe. Would be cool to see the Spider-Girl from that universe too.

Rachel Grey: She’s descended from two of the most experienced and battle-hardened X-Men and possesses the Phoenix Force? Only thing better might be a Hope figure since it looks like she’s carrying it now.

Black Cat: What started out as a Spidey villain and supporting character has become a Marvel Universe staple and has appeared in many other titles.

Dazzler: I’ve always liked the character and her blue costume and New Excalibur costume are both cool.

Longshot: His mini-series was drawn by my favorite artist, Art Adams and he’s always been one of my favorites.

Cloak and Dagger: They are popular Marvel staples that found a way to make a big contribution during Civil War. This would be great as a two pack.

Ares: I know he’s dead but he was a serious bad-ass and he’d make a really cool looking figure.

Deathlok: He’s never been popular enough for a regular series but if I know he’s in an issue, I usually pick it up. Deathlok is one of the most interesting looking characters in the Marvel Universe.


Here is a list of 10 villains I want them to come out with in no particular order.

Mysterio: Visually there is no cooler looking character on the list and I don’t think this character has even gotten a decent action figure.

Lady Bullseye: Kingpin’s main assassin these days.

Kingpin: He’s the reason Daredevil has a mental breakdown every few years.

Flag-Smasher: This Captain America villain once used his organization, ULTIMATUM, to take a group of Americans hostage. In order to save them, Cap has to do the unthinkable. Wondering what the ‘unthinkable’ is - check out the cover of Captain America #321. If you have no idea who Flag-Smasher is, check out Captain America #348.

The Hood: The Hood has a kick-ass origin story and has been a huge villain lately, especially during the Dark Reign.

Dr. Octopus: There is a 3 ¾ figure in the Spider-Man series but I want Doc Ock to look like the comic book version.

The Marauders: These villains kicked off the Mutant Massacre and Arclight, Blockbuster, Harpoon, Riptide, Scalphunter, and Vertigo would make a great six pack (like the Giant-Sized X-Men set).

Omega Red: Another great X-villain.

Jack O’Lantern: While there’s been a few to wear the pumpkin, the one in the new Venom mini-series isn’t just cool looking but deadly too.

Ghost: Before he was a Thunderbolt, Ghost was an Iron Man villain in the 80’s. I want the version in the white armor (not the weird Thunderbolts version).


While I was making this list, there were a lot of characters that appeared that are considered groups. So here are the top five teams that I hope will get the Marvel Universe treatment.

The New Mutants (original and modern): Cannonball, Mirage, Karma, Wolfsbane, Sunspot, Magma, Cypher, and Warlock
One of my all-time favorites and not one character has been given a figure. Kitty Pryde did get a figure but she’s not a founding member or a long-standing member. I don’t know how you would pull of a Sunspot (maybe a variant where he’s all black?) or a Wolfsbane (would it be human and wolf in the package or the werewolf state she sometimes takes on).

Lady Liberators: She-Hulk, Valkyrie, Thundra, Hellcat, and Tigra
The Lady Liberators were a concept that isn’t new to the Marvel Universe, they first appeared in Avengers #83 in 1970. A few years ago, She-Hulk brought together her own team to fight the Red Hulk. I left characters off the roster above that have already gotten figures (Spider-Woman, Invisible Woman, Black Widow, and Storm). Plus, Hulk #9 had a great cover shot of them courtesy of the always amazing Arthur Adams.

I should mention that Mirage has a Pegasus named Brightwind and Valkyrie has a Pegasus named Aragorn. It would be awesome for Hasbro to release ‘Mirage with Brightwind’ and ‘Valkyrie with Aragorn’ packs – they could use the same mold for both mounts. They would even make great convention exclusives.

Exiles: Blink, Mimic, Morph, Nocturne, Sunfire, Sasquatch, and Magik
Exiles was one of the best books on the stands and introduced us to a lot of alternate worlds and versions of the characters we know and love. Other members of the team included Magnus, Thunderbird, Namora, Sabertooth, Longshot, Spider-Man 2099, Shadowcat, and more. There are a lot of possible characters from this series that can be created.

New Warriors: Night Thrasher, Nova (not Kid Nova), Justice (not Marvel Boy), and Namorita
Firestar has already been released as a Toys ‘R Us exclusive figure (the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends three pack) and there’s an upcoming two-pack with Speedball in it. I can’t believe Nova isn’t already a figure in the Marvel Universe line but the rest of the characters are obscure. Justice and Firestar dated for a long time and did a brief stint on The Avengers together. Namorita is the Sub-Mariner’s cousin.

Young Allies: Nomad, Gravity, Spider-Girl, and Toro
Again, Firestar has already been released. The Spider-Girl on this team is the former Arana and has a costume that hasn’t been released. Nomad is from the Heroes Reborn universe. Gravity is a newer character who has already helped the Fantastic Four save the universe and come back from the grave.


Since Hasbro makes such kick ass figures, here is my list of other lines that should get the Marvel Universe/GI Joe treatment.

DC Universe:  How great would it be to have the Avengers and Justice League stand in a display side by side? Think of all the great characters you wish would have adventures in the comics together can stage your own crossovers. You can own the Justice League, Teen Titan, or even The Wildcats. It would be great to also have Smallville versions of Clark, Superman, Black Canary, Impulse, Green Arrow, etc.
Wouldn't it be great to make this crossover?

Every Joss Whedon show: Okay, technically we’re getting an Avengers action figure line next year but how great would it be to have the Scooby Gang mixing with the crew of Serenity? You could have a Faith figure standing next to your Echo figure or a Wash figure standing next to an Alpha figure (I can go on and on with that kind of example). Imagine a 9 pack of Firefly figures with a variant edition of them in Serenity uniforms. There would certainly be a Buffy the Vampire Slayer “Amends” 2 pack with Buffy and Angel in packaging that makes it look like it’s snowing. How about a Dollhouse action play-set with the imprinting chair and Topher? Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my all-time favorite show and I have the MAC figures but I would have a hard time not spending every last dime on quality 3 ¾ figures.

Image Comics: Think of all the great properties that Image has or has had. It’s where Invincible and Cassie Hack live. It’s where Savage Dragon, Spawn, and Witchblade have enjoyed 10+ years of success. And don’t forget The Walking Dead and all of the success it’s enjoying on TV right now. Image is also home to J. Scott Campbell’s Danger Girl which have already gotten the McFarlane toys treatment but would be a great addition to any 3 ¾ GI Joe mission.

M.A.S.K. (Mobile Armored Strike Kommand): When Matt Tracker, the leader of MASK was released as a figure in the GI Joe 25th Anniversary line – I was excited. Three years later he’s the only figure that’s been released and there’s no sign of any other characters. Of course the original figures each came with vehicles which would be great. This would be a fantastic addition to the GI Joe line but it’s strong enough to stand on its own. And at the 3 ¾ scale, the GI Joe’s can also use the vehicles – hell, even Marvel Universe figures can too. Now that the Shout Factory is releasing the original animated series, maybe a new generation of fans will find this forgotten gem.

The A-Team: I know that no one but me is aching for these figures, but it’s one of my favorite shows and my list…so there. The movie had 3 ¾ figures but there was only one wave (No Jessica Biel figure? Are you nuts?). I would like multiple versions of Hannibal, BA, Face, and Murdock from the movie and TV show. I would also like the television versions of Frankie Santana, Amy Allen, Tawnia Baker, Colonel Lynch, Colonel Decker, General Fullbright, General Stockwell and Hulk Hogan (he guest starred in one episode but how cool would a 3 ¾ Hulkster be?).

Those are my lists, I’d love to hear from you guys what figures you’d like to see in the Marvel Universe line.