The Summer Itch

The weather is warming up. The sun is shining, and flowers are blooming.

I wake up every morning, and head to my University.

I open the door, get my stuff, and walk out of the garage.

As soon as I step out of the garage, a little voice says in my head:

“Gotta have my bowl, gotta have cereal…”

Just kidding.

 

“Don’t go to class. It’s such a nice day outside. Enjoy yourself.”

It’s definitely Spring semester.

I, alike every other college student, am ready for classes to be over.

I’m ready to get out of classes, not just to be done with them, but to be closer to the big movies of the summer.

 

Thor comes out in less than a month on May 6th. It’s hard to imagine that it’s almost here. I remember when it was announced. Thor’s really almost here.

Then come the next big two: Green Lantern, and Captain America.

A lot of things I have been hearing regarding Green Lantern seems to be very mixed. Fans of Green Lantern are extremely pumped with the new trailer. Critics on the other hand appear to think that it’s losing steam and that it’s going to flop once it hits the box office.

I think it’s going to be huge. Yes, some sources are calling it “the next Star Wars”, which I think is over hyping it a little bit, but I think it will be the next step for super hero blockbusters. Thor will be good. Captain America will be good. But Green Lantern will be great.

The problem with Thor is that not everyone, even those who read comic books, are really interested in him. I for one was not interested in him at all until J. Michael Stracynski began writing his phenomenal Thor run. But, for a lot of readers he tends to be a “boring” character. I know there are some huge Thor fanboys out there, but I don’t believe Thor has the mainstream push that other super heroes might.

Captain America is a well known super hero. But, I think he falls into the same category as Thor. Yes, he’s iconic to the Marvel Universe, but how many people that are not comic book fans will go out and watch the film? The trailer is good yes, and leaves anticipating it’s release. Yet for people who have never read the comics, or just those outside of geek culture, will probably see him as a really cheesy super hero.

I mean, his name is Captain America.

Captain America.

Almost as cheesy as Super Man.

Green Lantern on the other hand looks to be a high octane, space odyssey. And if things go right, it will be the biggest hit of the summer.

Yes, he’s similar to that of Captain America and Thor with those outside of the geek culture not really knowing who he is, but I think Marvel has set themselves up for failure by letting Green Lantern come out after Thor.

Thor will create the want for more. More super heroes, more action.

Green Lantern will quench that thirst. And then it will begin to dwindle once Captain America comes out.

I will be going to see them all, so I’m not bashing Marvel here whatsoever.

Just guessing the future.

Oh, and before I forget. We also have the new X-Men First Class coming out as well. For that one, I wouldn’t expect too much. I would just expect to have a good time. It’ll be a fun movie regardless of the critic reviews.

Also, remember to tune into HBO this Sunday and 9:00 for episode 1 of Game of Thrones. It’s gonna’ be epic!

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Double Dipped Geekdom

How many copies of Star Wars do you own? I own them all on DVD, and VHS. But… How much is too much? How many times should the geek community continue to purchase the same film over and over again in order to get an extra 20 seconds worth of cut film?

I’ve fallen victim to this double dipping scheme many a times, and I don’t regret purchasing the same film or book over again. For example, the Absolute editions of comic books that come out are absolutely worth the cost if you were a fan of a certain comic book. You get a over sized hard back with all kinds of extra goodies to boot. But films are a little different creature. When you go from such a large change from VHS to DVD, I can see it being worth the money. But when the Blurays come out for Star Wars, they don’t add all that much. Yes, they will look absolutely beautiful on a nice HD TV, but how much more can Lucas put into them that he cut out from the original cuts? No one really wants re-done graphics, or merging Hayden Christenson into the film, or better yet Jar Jar.

The Star Wars blu rays come out this September with the set whopping class of $139.99. That price seems a little steep, but everyone knows the average Star Wars nerd will buy it.

Another series similar to Star Wars that’s been infamous for double dipping is Lord of the Rings. With the original dvds, they released the standard dvds, the director’s cuts, and then the ultimate editions. THREE different sets of the same film that came out within three or four years of each other. They’ve already released a blu ray edition of the trilogy, but it’s missing all of the extra features that the last edition on dvd came out with. So, most people bought that I’m sure, and once the ultimate edition comes out, I’m sure they’ll spend close to $139.99 to get them again.

Fans will be fans I suppose. But how many times can you release a film with extra stuff on them that the previous edition lacked? I can understand new formats… but come on guys. Help us geeks save a little money.

But you know… How can this get old… and Imagine this in blu ray.

 

 

The Geek Years

2011 and 2012 are the years of the geek.

Every fanboy’s comic book adaptations are becoming a reality.

Television is going the way of the comic book, as well as film.

But is that a good thing? Well, most would say “Oh my GAH YES!” but, in reality do we want these stories to be put into the big and small screens?

Walking Dead was a hit. There is no question there. The show did so well that the original date for season 2 (which was Halloween once again) got upped to sometime this summer. I want to say August. So, the success of the Walking Dead has brought on some other comic book titles that might become television shows. The comic book Chew by John Laymon has been in talks for awhile to become a television show. Chew is about a cybopath. A cybopath is someone who can eat something and see everything about that one particular thing (where it grew up, how was it’s life, how it died and what not.) He’s a detective for the FDA and works to solve cases regarding chicken (which has been outlawed.)

Chew has been optioned for a television show on AMC (right along with Walking Dead.) But as of recently, I’ve noticed many television shows coming out that are basically blatant rip offs of comic book material. Theres several paranomal investigation shows dealing with fairy tales (like Fables.) Cop shows that deal with super heroes (like Powers.) A guy who discovers he is someone like Harry Potter and that the books are real (like The Unwritten.)

In movies we’re getting Captain America, Thor, Amazing Spiderman, X-Men: First Class, The Wolverine, Iron-Man 3, and the Avengers. Lots of comic book films. The geeks dream. But here lies the problem. A cult favorite series which became a movie and recently came out on DVD and Bluray (Scott Pilgrim, and Kickass) were fanboys dreams. But the geek community made a fatal error. They did not go out and see the movie. Scott Pilgrim is due to the production company showing the movie for free at Comic Con MULTIPLE time during the week. So, all of the people that would have went to go see it in the first place and pay money for it did not go see it. Why? Because they saw it for free at Comic Con. Everyone wanted a Kickass movie also. I remember walking into my comic shop and seeing that Kickass (the comic book) would be constantly sold out. When the movie came out, no one went and saw it. Geeks MUST see these movies if these movies are to survive. The bigger titles will do just fine, but for the smaller cult titles that come out; if geeks do not go and support these films, they will just stop making independent comic books into films. And no one wants that.

People have to support these movies if this genre of film is to stay afloat. Big title or not, if these movies are finished and reviews negatively by critics and the fan base does not support the film, these movies will die. And the geeks dream of seeing Thor fight the Hulk will never come to fruition.

So, if you want your television shows to stay on the air longer, and if you want your movies to keep coming on. Go see them. Watch them. Support them.

If you don’t, be prepared for them to disappear.

Amazing Spiderman just can't come any faster, can it?

Getting Into Comics: Part 3

So, you’ve followed the first two parts and perhaps you have found some creative team that you like and you want to see more of their past work, or perhaps just catch up on the story thus far in whatever book you’re reading. Well, you’ve got several options.

The two prominent options are back issues and trade paper backs (aka trades.)

Back issues are more for the comic collector. Say you have issues 1-15, then stopped for awhile, and picked back up reading at issue 50. A lot of collectors, if they really like a series and have the majority of the issues will want to continue picking up the issues that they passed up. Now keep in mind, depending on what comic shop you go to, or how popular the series is, this can be a costly chore. On average, many back issues range anywhere from $4.00 to $6.00 or more. So, you’ll be spending quite  a lot to complete your collection.

Now, trades on the other hand are just collected comic book volumes. So, one trade might have four or five issues into one book. The prices vary depending on how many comics are in each trade, but they can run anywhere from $12.99 to $39.99 (the latter being the big collections.)

Therefore, if you’re not a hardcore collector, or a huge fan of the series, getting trades is probably the best way to go. It’s cheaper in the long run. Plus, you can also go to Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million and just pick up a trade, take a seat, and read it there if you’ve got some spare time.

Another thing, Trades do tend to look better on display. Why? Because they can sit on a shelf. Take a look at some of this stuff.

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2011/02/saturday-shelf-porn-4/

 

There’s an entire series of Robot 6 on shelf porn. So, if you want to see some amazing collections, definitely check them out.

Now, the last option there is (especially if you’re low on cash and you just want to learn more about the series) is to Wikipedia the book or series. This should give you a decent run down on what’s happened in the book and possibly where the series is heading.

I hope this little guide has helped. Getting into comic books is not an easy feat. Without help, it’s really almost impossible to really find some of the amazing gems that do exist in the comic book form of media. So, go out there and buy some comics at your local comic shop and support them! And most importantly, read!

Getting Into Comics: Part 2

Here comes the more time consuming aspect on comic books.

Getting to know which creative teams you like. I will admit, when I was first getting into comic books I spent a lot of time reading stuff that… just was not that good. A lot of this has to do with the creative team involved. Now, the creative team is referring to the writer and artist usually (as well as the inker, letterer, etc.)

To say the least, this takes some time. But, I will list a few of the writers and artists that I love and maybe this will give you a push in the right direction.

Writers

MARVEL

Brian Michael Bendis

Ed Brubaker

Matt Fraction

Mark Millar

Jason Aaron

Jeph Loeb (pre death of his son)

Greg Pak

Jeff Parker

Jonathan Hickman

Greg Rucka (was at DC… but I’m pretty sure he made his way over to Marvel now)

DC

Geoff Johns

Grand Morrison

Paul Dini

Peter Tomasi

Fabian Nicieza

Gail Simone

J. Michael Stracysnki

Independent (These writers also write for DC and Marvel from time to time. But typically are independent (i.e. Vertigo, Icon, Avatar)

Garth Ennis

Joe Kelly

John Laymon

David Lapham

Mike Carey

Scott Snyder

Pretty much everything these guys have written, I will read. There are a few exceptions here and there. Jeph Loeb for example, his work before his Ultimates run was pretty spot on. I love all of his “color” series, ie. Spiderman Blue, Daredevil Yellow etc. His work at DC was pretty great as well. One of my favorite Batman stories was written by him (Long Halloween and Dark Victory.) But for the most part, if you stick to these writers you will usually get a good, entertaining story. If you’re more into the snappy dialog without a lot of action, you may want to look into Bendis. He writes my favorite series, Ultimate Spiderman, which is phenomenal. Grant Morrison tends to be the smart man’s writer. Some of his stuff is pretty deep, and damn confusing at times. Mark Millar is the action packed in your face kind of writer that everyone loves from time to time. Ed Brubaker is a noir master. Matt Fraction is a fantastic with dialog. Geoff Johns is Mr. DC, so anything with his name on it is a must have. So, like I said. Any of these guys are fantastic when trying to get into comic books.

Artists

Tim Sale

Frank Quitely

Dustin Nguyen

Stuart Immonen

Ethan Van Sciver

Mark Bagley

Alex Ross

Jim Lee

Arthur Adams

These are just naming a few that I personally love. Sometimes its sad to say that the art DOES make the comic. I’ve read some comics by my favorite writers that are filled with artwork that I just can’t stand. It really does hurt the book. For example, some people LOVE John Romita Jr. I do not like him at all. His artwork just seems quick and sloppy to me.

Use these lists as a start point to get into some of the modern books. As you get into it, maybe try some other writers during a break in story arcs. They tend to put a one shot (one book story) in before a story arc switches over, or if another creative team is making there way onto the book. But, it the end it just boils down to who you like. The names I listed are just some of the biggest guys in the industry.

Next week, we’ll be getting into whether or not it’s better (or smarter) to pick up back issues or trade graphic novels.

Getting Into Comics: Part 1

I’ve spoken to several people over the last couple of years who have told me that when dealing with comic books that “I don’t know where to start.” Well, I figured I would put together a little guide on how to get started into a hobby of a lifetime. This will be a series split into about three or four parts as I go into detail about each thing I make when deciding what to read and what not to read. Let’s begin shall we?

Part 1. There’s too much out there!

A lot of people are discouraged when they walk into a comic store expecting to pick up a Batman comic book to find out that there are 4 active Batman titles that release monthly. Which one do I pick up? Will I understand what is going on? Calm down, take a deep breath. This is actually one of the hardest parts when someone is wanting to start reading currently. For starters, stick with something you KNOW you like. So, if I like Batman, I will just go in a pick up the newest issue of Batman. I’d leave Detective Comics sitting there on the shelf, as well as Batman and Robin, and I will just pick up Batman. If you know you like the character, the chances are you will get some sort of enjoyment from the comic book no matter what. You will probably run into some character while reading that you have no earthly idea who they are. The easiest answer to that, depending on how relevant the character is to the story, is to Wikipedia that character. If you do that, you will be given a complete background to the character as well as to why they are relevant to the story. Trust me, I’ve had to do this countless amounts of times, especially with DC titles. DC has some pretty obscure character property that the current creative team of certain books like to employ from time to time. Just be patient with it, it takes time. A lot of the times if that character is brought up in one issue, he/she won’t be seen again for a good while. And who knows, sometimes that character will become one of your favorites.

Yes, his name is Catman. But don't let that fool you. He's a badass.

My personal favorite: Iron Fist. I would have never have read his amazing series if it weren't for seeing him in Daredevil.

Catman and Iron Fist are pure examples of this. Without the help of one of my local Comic Shop guys, I would have never read about Catman. Now, he’s one of my favorite characters in both DC and Marvel. Iron Fist is the same way.

Another thing you can do, like I just mentioned, is to ask the guys that are working at your Comic Shop. If they are not willing to help, you shouldn’t shop there anyway. A good Comic Shop can be the life or death of a future comic enthusiast. Without the guys at my place, B & M Amusement, I would have never gotten into comics the way I have over the last four years or so. They know what they’re talking about there, and they are always more than willing to help with any question you have. Say you want to check out a comic book before you buy it. Most stores won’t even let you take the comic out of the bag to check it out, but at B&M they will let you open it up to check it out, and basically they will do whatever they can to help you find whatever you are looking for. So that’s another huge part of learning the trade. So, if you go into one Comic Shop and the guys there are reluctant to help, and all in all are just the typical Simpson’s Nerd guy, go somewhere else. Find a place that will help you.

If you see this guy when you walk in, you might as well leave.

So, in conclusion. Think of a hero you like and just go in there and find an issue. It can be ANY issue, it doesn’t matter. Go pick it up, read it, and see how you life it. Ask the guys that are working what they might recommend. You have to take the first step before you go anywhere in this field of media. You have to read some crap sometimes before you get to the absolutely phenomenal stuff out there. In part 2, we’ll be going into one of the more complicated aspects of comic books: the creative team. This becomes a large part of what you read and what you don’t read. But, I’ll go further into this on Thursday.

Until then, go pick up a comic book and READ!

Holy Bat and Bird Making Out, Batman!

Death; or something like it.

Everything dies eventually. Whether it be humans, animals, or plants; we all die. Except… if you live in a comic book universe.

Death happens in comic books also, but it is never final. And if it is, it is a very rare case. The Fantastic Four, Marvel’s first family,  have been all over the news recently since one of the beloved members of the Four died in the end of this past story arc.  *SPOILER* Johnny Storm *SPOILER* died fighting a horde of monsters. But, as always right he/she “died” the door closes and he/she “dies” off panel. So, you don’t see him brutally murdered, but it also leaves it up to the creators to eventually bring he/she back in the future. (highlight the blank space for the name if it already hasn’t been spoiled for you.) Is it a good thing to kill off people’s favorite comic book characters and bring them back countless amounts of times? Shouldn’t they just stay dead? Well, I know the answer of course is no, because the publisher makes money off of these characters each and every month. Even so, will the death issues ever stop? I’ve been reading comics for roughly four years now and I’ve read several death issues of some of my favorite characters. Captain America, and Batman just to name a couple of the more popular ones have helped the companies sell more issues. It’s just getting to the point where you have to read several issues of other comics that deal with that characters death, just to have the character come back in 6-12 issues. So, through all of this you’re missing out on creative new story lines that writers could come up with; instead your stuck with characters mourning. On top of that, at least bring the dead characters back in a some what plausible manner. The traveling through time to get back to your body has been overdone. Using a Lazerus Pit has been over done as well. Marvel is getting ready to rev up a new event in my favorite comic book series; the death of Ultimate Spiderman. Why? Why kill him off? It’s been roughly two years or so since the last major even in the Ultimate Universe that killed MANY of that universe’s characters. Spiderman was thought to be dead in that entire fiasco as well. So, once again we went through several issues of mourning in a mini series, just to find out that he wasn’t dead at all. Now, so they say, they’re going to really kill him. Yet, one thing I will say about the Ultimate Universe is that most of the characters that have died have not returned from the grave. Which is a good thing in the long run. I can see what they might do with Ultimate Spiderman in the future, but is it really necessary? Captain America, Batman, Iron Man, Johnny Storm, and now Ultimate Peter Parker? It’s really getting out of hand to the point of where it’s purely a money grab from the companies. I’m sure I am forgetting several other characters that have died in 2010 and now, but I hope this fad can end sometime soon and that we as readers can get back to just enjoying good story arcs and plots.

http://comics.ign.com/articles/113/1134884p1.html

WHY MARVEL? WHYYYYYYY