All So Comical – Catching Up and Cleaning Out

Buying and reading physical comics is harder to justify these days.  A few months ago when I was crossing off books such as “Rat Queens” and “Black Science” it was purely for the fact that I was running out of room in my box and had to “thin the herd”.  It was a hard choice, but between Rat Queen’s sporadic release-schedule and Black Science’s long-term commitment, it was easier to fall back on the familiar, and odder choices, among Marvel’s books.

What have I indeed been reading then these past few months?  Chip Zdarsky’s “Howard the Duck” series is pretty awesome, scratching that wacky-cosmic-capers itch.  Dan Slott’s “Silver Surfer” series also scratches the cosmic itch, though in a more nostalgic way.  Also, there’s “Saga” and “The Wicked + The Divine”, making up my Image books (I should read more Image books, though I do wait for trade for “Sex Criminals”).  Also, there’s Star Wars.

Howard

Star Wars remains so good.  Not just the “main” Jason Aaron book, either, but also Kieron Gillen’s “Darth Vader”.  Characters such as an anti-Dr. Jones, as well as murderous facsimiles of C-3P0 and R2-D2, and Vader himself, continue to expand the Star Wars universe in exciting ways and gives me confidence that the franchise, a favorite of mine, is in good hands.

The Jason Aaron train is one I’ve been enjoying riding.  “Star Wars”, “Doctor Strange”, “Thor”, and “Southern Bastards” provide most of my favorite reads.  His take on Strange is pretty original and he brings in some elements that I have never seen in a Marvel book before.  Thor continues to be the biggest bad-ass in that book and the plot keeps moving and I keep wanting to read more – so good!

DC Comics wise, I ended dropping Action Comics (though Super Man is my favorite superhero).  It just stopped being satisfying at one point.  I am reading Snyder’s “Batman”, but in trade form.  Any superhero fan would be hard pressed to not read that book, as well as “Justice League.”

Jack

Tastes change.  Lately I’ve tended to lean more to nostalgia and light wackiness in books.  “Samurai Jack” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” definitely scratch that itch, and are accessible with a couple of taps on my phone, or tablet.  There, space isn’t an issue.  It’s harder for me to justify buying actual books.  Maybe it’s the want to keep brick and mortar stores in business and a return to something comforting from my childhood.  I don’t plan to stop reading comics anytime soon, but how I read them definitely may change.

 

Comics are bought from Silvermoon Comics in Salem, MA.  Many graphic novels are purchased through Amazon.com or Comixology.  If you enjoyed, please like.  Feel free to comment.  And thanks!

 

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Writer’s Digest Weekly Writing Prompt, 2/23/16

Prompt By: Brian A. Klems | February 23, 2016

You are an expert at capturing alligators—they call you “The Alligator Whisperer.” Your work has helped scientists gather extensive information on the life of alligators and you are hailed as a hero in the scientific community. Everything is going great until one day the alligators start hunting you. What do you do?

Warning: This story has strong language and some disturbing imagery.

‘Shit!  Shit!  Shit!’ Harold thought as he hobbled as quickly as he could toward the Cold Turkey Convenience Store.  He was tired, dehydrated, had a twisted ankle, and was hearing voices.  To make it worse, it was night.

“Crush!”  One voice said.

“Kill!”  Another responded.

“Meat!”  Came yet another.

Harold gritted his teeth and did his best to move faster.  The voices were getting louder.  They were getting closer.  He was running out of time.

Inside the Cold Turkey, Ralph was leaning on the wall next to the scratch-off tickets.  His green vest was pristine, the store’s golden letters embroidered over his left breast.  Below that was his nametag, covered in grease after months of him swearing he would clean it.  His friend and trusty co-worker, Jay, was leaning against the front counter, arms folded next to the register.

“Yeah, man,” Ralph said, staring contemplatively at the hotdogs turning on the warmer.  “Darcy’s a bad-ass.  I mean, who gets to be a total dick and still gets the girl at the end?”

“Nah,” Jay said, shaking his head.  “It’s more of a statement of Elizabeth’s character, if anything.  She doesn’t even like the dude until she finds out he’s rich.”

“Money talks,” Ralph smirked, scratching the back of his head.  Jay snorted and shook his.

The unlocked-side of the banged open and in walked a very scared, hurt and tired Harold.  Both of the clerks jolted.  Jay gave Harold a weary look and white knuckled the front counter, his thumb hovering over the silent alarm.  Ralph casually leaned forward, hand resting on the butt of a baseball bat.

Harold flipped the lock on the door and closed the blinds. He thought, ‘How the fuck did this go so wrong?  Why would the gators wait so long?  Why now?’  He stood at the door, breathing hard, body tense, staring at nothing.

“Excuse me, sir!”  Jay said.  “We don’t close until 2 and it’s only 8.  It’s even still too early for a robbery, if you ask me.”  He smirked and looked at Ralph, who responded with a scolding look and a disappointed shake of his head.

“Yeah,” Harold quickly contemplated and nodded.  “This is a robbery!”  He reached inside his vest and pulled out his buck-knife.  Jay pushed the silent alarm.

“The problem here, sir,” Ralph said, pulling out the bat, “is that celebrities like you already have a ton of money.  I don’t think Harold ‘Wrangler’ Jacobs is having a hard time supplying for his family, or feeding some heavy drug-addiction.  I don’t think this is really a robbery.”

“Damn!”  Jay exclaimed, making Ralph and Harold jump.  “You’re the gator whisperer dude!  From TV!”

Harold licked his lips, panicking at being recognized.  He lifted his knife, Ralph his bat.  Sweat was streaming down Harold’s face, his eyes were wide with fear and adrenaline.

“Listen to me,” Harold growled.  “This is going to sound bat-shit.  There was a gator rescue tonight.  Three twelve-footers got into a retirement community’s pond.  Happens all the time.  Something happened and they- they’re coming for me!”

“The gators?”  Ralph asked, dropping his arms.  He then jumped and screamed as there was a loud bang against the front door.  There came a stronger bang that shook the blinds.

Harold walked over to the door and peaked through the blinds.  There, eye to eye with him, was an alligator’s face.

“Meat!”  It screamed in Harold’s head.

Harold jumped back and opened the blinds just in time to see the alligator get on his hind legs and fall toward the door.  Harold swore under his breath and moved out of the way as the gator came crashing down, breaking the glass.  Both clerks screamed and jumped on the back counter, against the wall.

The alligator thrashed, growling and snapping.  Harold hit a piece of metal and the gator stopped moving for a moment.

“Meat!  Meat!”  The gator screamed in Harold’s head.  It flipped itself right-side up and seemed to hiss victorious.

“Meat!” it exclaimed as it rushed Harold.

Harold dove out of the way, down a small aisle, canned goods.  The started turning, slowed by the lack of space.  When its back was turned to him, Harold thought a prayer, took his buck knife in his teeth and leapt on its back.  The gator thrashed hard, Harold barely managing to pin its jaws shut.

“Meat!” It screamed at Harold, emitting loud growls.

Harold started wrestling the gator, trying to get it on its belly.  This is what he did.  It was what made him famous.  Of course he was known for saving gators.  Not this one.

“Thrash!”  He suddenly heard another voice.

“Destroy!”  Came another.

He finally pinned the meat-gator and, after a second’s hesitation, stuck his knife in its brain.  A guttural cry rang out in his head and then came the actual sounds of two more gators growling.

Ralph was shaking as two more gators came in through what was the front door.  One seemed interested in him and Jay and the other prowled toward Harold.

The one interested in the clerks stopped and opened its jaws wide, hissing menacingly, its tail thrashing.  Ralph hugged his knees and kept his eyes on the gator.  It leapt and bounced off the front counter, but still managed to to almost tip it over.  Ralph looked away for a second to see the baseball lying on the floor.  It was too far away.

“Destroy!” the gator hissed in Harold’s mind.

“Thrash!” Said the other.  Harold was sure it was preoccupied with the clerks.  He hoped he could get to that one in time.

In killing the meat-gator, he had knocked over the canned goods shelves, leaving more space.  Harold swallowed and ran.  The destroy-gator took chase.

Harold knocked over shelves and threw things at the gator.  Part of him knew he was pissing the cold-blooded killing-machine off while actually succeeding at slowing it down.  Then he tripped.

Thrash-gator leapt at the counter again, snapping at the air.  It was pushing the front counter closer to the two clerks, as well as over.  All both clerks could think to do was stare.  There was a loud crack as the twelve-foot long alligator leapt again and completely flattened the counter.  Then came Harold’s scream.

Destroy-gator had his lower left leg in its jaws.  The pain was unbearable; Harold knew he was going to pass out.  The gator thrashed and disconnected Harold’s knee.  Harold yowled and passed out.  The gator then tore his left leg  off at the knee and started swallowing.

Thrash-gator was getting ready to leap again.  Then there came a high pitched whistle from the doorway.  It worked, whoever it was, the gator looked at the doorway.  The two clerks did too.

Standing in the doorway was a police officer with a double-barreled shot-gun.  “Come here, you son of a bitch,” she muttered and cocked her gun.  There was a crack and the alligator attacking Harold fell over dead.  The shot-gun officer’s partner shot from the police car, right through destroy-gator’s mouth.

“Come on!”  She then yelled.  Thrash-gator hissed and charged.  It opened its mouth as it got ready to attack her legs and she pulled the trigger against its head.

It was over.  Ralph threw up.

The other officer ran in with a first-aid kit and started tending to Harold.  He also called it in to the precinct.  The shot-gun officer turned to check on the two clerks.

“How’re you two doing?” She asked.

“F-fine,” Ralph managed, then turned to throw up again.  Jay nodded that he was fine too.

The shot-gun officer went and got the two clerks waters from the cooler, trying to not kill herself on the mess.  Ralph looked worse for ware, pale and clammy.

“I actually have a question,” Jay started when the officer returned.  “What do you think of Darcy?”

“Jane Austin’s Darcy?”  The shot-gun officer asked rhetorically, with a small smile.  “He’s a douche.”

Prompt is from www.writersdigest.com.   This is my first fictional story in a while.  If you enjoyed, please like.  Also, feel free to comment.  And thanks!

 

Better Late Review: Deadpool

Better Late Movie Review: Deadpool

deadpool-ver9-11e99

Superhero movies that focus more on the absurd, than the grounded-seriousness of reality, are rare these days.  Along successful R-rated film adaptations of Alan Moore’s grittier “V for Vendetta” and “Watchmen” graphic novels, Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” movies also embrace gritty realism over comic-book antics.  Marvel Studios has embraced both the gritty and the absurd, sometimes in the same movies.  Along the lines of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Ant-Man”, Twentieth Century Fox’s “Deadpool” embraces its absurdity and delivers a movie even the smallest of fans (yours truly included) deserves.

Being a slap-happy, action packed, raunchy, very R-rated romp, Ryan Reynolds fits naturally as the title character.  Reynolds (Deadpool/ Wade Wilson), is at his best as the infamous Merc-with-a-mouth.  His delivery of quips and physical gags impress, but he also embraces the character’s more serious and, subtly, legitimately crazy side.  Reynolds makes the title hero the rightful star of the show.

Plot-wise, the movie is unapologetically standard origin-story/ revenge-tale.  There’s a hooker with a heart of gold turned love interest, Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), sketchy best friend, Weasel (T.J. Miller), and British-accented villain, Ajax/ Francis (Ed Skrein).  Where the film excels is in its conservative fourth-wall breaking self-awareness and Deadpool’s overall absurdity.  It actually embraces it’s basic ‘80’s – ‘90’s formula by referencing such things as “Wham!”, “The Empire Strikes Back”, and holding a boom-box over your head outside of a window (while listening to Wham!).

Wade Wilson is a once-upon-a-time military elite killing machine, dishonorably discharged and turned mercenary.  He hangs out at a bar with other mercenaries and is ran by his friend, Weasel.  The bar is also where he gets his assignments.  One night Vanessa bumps into his life and Wade’s life seems to be vastly improving.  Then he gets cancer.  A very shady character (Jed Reese) shows up and offers Wade not only a chance to cure his cancer, but to become a hero, which Wade doesn’t particularly want to become.  It ends up the cancer curing place is not what it seems and Ajax tortures Wade Wilson causing him to become very deformed, but turning him into a mutant.  It is set in the X-Men universe after all.

From the opening credits, it’s very obvious the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously.  There are references to such things as the movie’s budget, and to Ryan Reynolds in general.  Be warned, though: if you’re not a fan of Reynolds, or Deadpool, this movie won’t change your mind.  This also isn’t a movie for kids: there is both male and female full-frontal nudity, sex-jokes, drug-jokes, overall silliness, gore, slapstick, flying decapitated heads, gore, f-bombs, old woman jokes, masturbation jokes, gore, and f-bombs.

X-Men and comic fans have a lot to chew on with this movie.  Colossus (CGI character, voiced by Stefan Kapicic) has a small part as a moral compass of sorts, as does lesser-known Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand).  There are many Easter eggs to find, speculate about, and be excited about the future of superhero flicks.

The movie’s strongest asset of focusing on Deadpool may also be its weakest.  Weasel is a character that could use a fleshed out story, as is the bad-guy, Ajax/ Francis, who just comes off as a super-powered asshole.  Performance wise, everyone knocks it out of the park.  Even smaller roles, such as Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), Wade’s blind crack-addicted (and Ikea furniture assembling) room-mate, are likable and believable in the context of Wade Wilson’s world.

A huge factor is that Deadpool looks like Deadpool.  This is the most authentic a superhero has looked like their comic book counterpart since Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” movies.  Even the many pants and vest pouches and the little flip-top to Deadpool’s mask are there.  CGI is subtly used to white out Deadpool’s eyes when he’s wearing the mask and to make it more emotive.  Brilliant!  Keep in mind of what you’re getting into with this movie – the full Deadpool experience – and what that implies.

 

My Grade: B

 

Deadpool stars Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, and Ed Skrein, is directed by Tim Miller, and, is released by Twentieth Century Fox.  It is rated R for: strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity.

Feel free to like, comment, and share.  And thanks!