Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Stratum Lasertag

My coworkers and I went to Stratum Lasertag in Mesa, Arizona today, and before kicking Frank Caliendo's* kids' butts two rounds in a row, I noticed the walls were decorated in enlarged comic panels. In the right mindset, one could be immersed in a completely graphic sci-fi experience. Unfortunately, my head wasn't in the stars; I was just starstruck.

*Frank Caliendo is a Valley resident. I saw him at the Tempe Improv a few years ago, but nothing beats bumping into a celeb out of the blue . . . let alone schooling his kids at lasertag.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Is Kick-Ass Gonna Kick Ass?

Kick-Ass, inspired by the comic book Kick-Ass, is coming soon to a theater near you, but the movie has already attracted international attention, i.e. this article from The Guardian. The interview with writer Mike Millar poses an interesting question regarding the comics-to-film phenomenon: Should comics be written with the intent of cinematic adaptation? Of course, every writer wants to establish a franchise viable for cinema and cash in accordingly, but what does this make the comic medium other than a glorified storyboard? As a comic book fan first, I take issue (no pun intended) with this mentality; consider the following excerpt from Millar's interview:

"The trouble is that the superhero movies so far – and I don't want to be unfair to them because I think generally they have been good – have been made two generations after they've been created, and in Superman's case three generations after they've been created. So if the technology had existed to make a Fantastic Four movie in 1966 it would have been amazing, because you had Kennedy and the space race and all of that. But now, really, what is the Fantastic Four?"

The implication is, cinematic adaptation asserts viability, and without it, the Fantastic Four is . . . well, nothing more than a comic book, right? The elephant in the room is, forty years later, Marvel's founding family is still worthy of at least two feature films -- whether or not they were good is relative to Hollywood's desire to produce them. These characters are still worthy of attention. Will Kick-Ass be as viable 40 years from now? No, perhaps Millar realizes, now is the time to act, lest his creation fall by the wayside of pop culture. After all, comic book movies produced in conjunction with a new, monthly comic book have always paved the road to success in both industries . . .

. . . right, Todd McFarlane? Right, Frank Miller?

Monday, March 29, 2010

More Action Action

Another copy of Action Comics #1 broke the bank this month, as reported by the Associated Press. The story reports only 100 copies of Action #1 exist, so we're only 98 more headlines away from having them all accounted for.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spider-man Bubble Bath

I know Venom is a special exception, but I've never understood the use of villains on merchandise like bubble bath. "If you don't bathe, kids, an alien symbiote will come and getcha!" Or worse, what if Venom's on Spidey's tail because he smells so good? Talk about being in hot water . . .

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Under the Umbrella of Comics

My girlfriend and I went to another art show in the Phoenix area today, this time on Tempe's Mill Avenue, and the influence of comics was as obvious here as it was in Scottsdale earlier this week. Consider these two pieces, and Google "Holy Dominatrix, Batman" by the King of Pop Art, if you dare.

Friday, March 26, 2010

"I'm a Villainous Lawyer!"

On TMZ tonight, a pap was interviewing the child actress from the movie Valentine's Day. When he asked her to name her favorite personality from the TMZ newsroom, her (stage) parents off camera urged her to reply, "Harvey!" So, the young lady blurts, "Harvey! Dent!" -- obviously referring to another famous lawyer. The exclamation of independence proves . . . being two-faced in Hollywood starts young.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Further Influence of Comics

My girlfriend and I went to Scottsdale's Artwalk tonight, and even there the influence of comics was evident, from these weird Pokemon-looking creatures to this heroic painting that demands, "Further." Indeed.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Iron Man Slurpee Cups

I went to 7-11 this morning for a cup of coffee and found these Iron Man/War Machine Slurpee cups. After I took their picture, the clerk said, "They're cool, right? I'm getting one for my daughter!" Nothing like some awesome merchandising first thing in the morning.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Casting Captain American

It's official: The Human Torch is Captain America, and it made Yahoo's front page this morning. I'm excited about the casting choice, but now the question remains -- Who will play the Human Torch in the inevitable Fantastic Four relaunch?

I know, I know -- one big shoe at a time.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bookman's Used Comics

Over ten years ago, my high school speech team had a tournament in Flagstaff, Arizona. We had to spend the night in town, and our coach let us spend some time at Bookman's, a local entertainment exchange. There, I found a rack of used comics for $1, and I picked up some Batman issues from the '90s that surely every geek and his mom have by now. Still, I was grateful for the selection -- and come to think of it, that may be one of the first places I realized one could find a comic a day. Anyway, I live near a Bookman's now, and the selection still amazes me. Mostly DC and Marvel issues, the rack boasts mainly discarded Star Trek and X-Men titles, and while my inner compulsive collector wants to thumb through every dusty comic there, I'm also depressed by the sight of it, like it's the graveyard of old fanboys' collections. Were they smart enough to get rid of these comics, most of which are the result of last decade's burst bubble -- or am I still stupid enough to be holding onto them? Heck, if I traded in my collection, I could buy the whole store. I guess I take comfort in those more innocent days, when the value of a comic couldn't be calculated in a price guide, but just in the experience of finding it. Maybe the used rack isn't a morgue -- just an unemployment office. Some collector somewhere is always hiring. Now I know where to go when I have a position open.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rogues Gallery

One of the thrills of opening and displaying action figures: grouping rogues. Here are some of Flash's biggest baddies, together again for the first time -- in my living room.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Toys 'R Us Spider-man

My girlfriend and I had the exclusive opportunity to watch a homeless man open a Spider-man webshooter at Toys 'R Us today, read the directions, put it on his wrist, and proceed to coat two whole aisles with silly string. His was a moment of pure glee, and we were privileged to behold it. Oh, and it was absolutely hilarious. With great power comes great accessories!

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Quick Conversation . . .

. . . with my friend Nathan this afternoon.

ME: This is silly. The guy that played the Human Torch in the Fantastic Four movies might play Captain America, too.


ME: What if Marvel can ever have the two characters meet on film?

NATE: What if they do?

ME: Played by the same guy? That would be ridiculous!

NATE: Eddie Murphy talks to himself in movies all the time! And in this case, one character is wearing a mask, and the other is on fire!

ME: . . . Point taken.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Tales of Leornardo: Blind Sight #3

I mentioned the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles yesterday and just so happened to find a Mirage Studios comic at the top of my read pile this evening, so the luck of the Irish persists . . . though not for Leonardo, I'm afraid. In Tales of Leonardo: Blind Sight #3, by Turtles veteran author and artist Jim Lawson, Leo has been blinded by an old vengeful foe and is daunted by his weakness. Splinter offers him some "infinitea," which conjures a hallucination of feudal Japan, and Leo experiences the bittersweet life of a samurai. One moment locked in battle, the next in the arms of his loving family, Leo is filling the sandals of one torn warrior -- but to what end? Of course,Splinter knows what he's doing, and more so than any Turtles story, this is a teenage tale, one of coming of age and to grips with the larger world around you. Oftentimes, folks lose sight of the historical context of our culture and of the role we can play in it. Sometimes, we build a shell to protect us from these selfless thoughts. Yet, as we fanboys know, these turtles are best when their heads are poking out, when they're aware and fighting to make a difference. Lesson learned, Master Splinter. I see . . .

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

It IS Easy Wearing Green . . .

St. Patrick's Day is no big deal to us fanboys, because some of our favorite heroes wear green all the time. Here's a quick list to commemorate some of comicdom's jolly green giants.

The Savage Dragon. Any longtime reader of A Comic A Day knows that I love Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon, and that both were instrumental to my becoming a loyal comic book reader today. In Larsen's current storyline, "Dragon War," Dragon's deadliest foes have received a transfusion of his blood (stolen, of course), transforming them into gruesome doppelgangers of his usually heroic self. Unfortunately, Dragon too is somewhat transformed, as his brain was recently destroyed and regenerated into his former, alien despot self. So, in many ways, these characters are simply wearing a green facade -- something millions of folks are doing today, assuming that they aren't even Irish . . .

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I've had not one but two casual conversations with presumably non-comics readers about the Turtles in the past two weeks, proving that those heroes in a half-shell have transcended the realm of childhood fandom and become veritable icons of pop culture, not unlike Superman or Spider-man. I couldn't be happier for them -- and for me, since the hundreds of dollars my family spent on those toys in the '90s obviously wasn't for naught. It was so I could have conversations about the Turtles with non-comics readers.

The Incredible Hulk. Whenever Bruce Banner gets angry, he puts on a green suit of rage -- again, something I fear millions of folks will do tonight, after drinking a certain gamma-colored beverage, of course.

The Greens Lantern and Arrow. Hal Jordan and Ollie Queen are my favorite best friends in comics, notably because of their hard travels across the country via Denny O'Neil's direction in the '70s, but every now and then a writer will echo those sentiments and bring back the pseudo-political dynamic that made their friendship so current and viable. In DC Universe Decisions, the two actually come to blows, removing the weapons that give them their emerald stripes, yet proving that the clothes do not have to make the man. The winner? Black Canary. Always let the woman have the final word.

Finally, the dollar, the most powerful green of them all, has reared its head in the latest substantial comics purchase, this time of Flash Comics #1. Whether or not it will use its powers for good or evil remains to be seen. Perhaps tonight's St. Patrick's Day exploits will be the truest test of all!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ol' Jade Jaws Jigsaw Puzzle

I found yet another Hulk puzzle at a local antique shop last week, so I'm continuing the St. Patty's Day props with this, ol' Jade Jaws saving a school bus full of kids. Total awesomeness.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Moss Man-ic Monday kicked off St. Patrick's Day week with the debut sale of He-man's greenest friend, Moss Man. I'd love to review him for you later this month . . . but he sold out in, like, four minutes. So much for the luck of the Irish being on my side! Fortunately, Mattel assures us he'll be available again soon . . . maybe in time for Earth Day.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tiger Woods Action Figure

Now you can play the night after Thanksgiving with the Tiger Woods action figure, now on clearance at Toys 'R Us!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Today's Haul . . .

. . . includes some half-off graphic novels from Jesse James Comics in Glendale, Arizona, and the latest JLU figures I needed, courtesy a friend and fellow fanatic. Reviews to come.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Giant Foam Growing Figures

More Dollar Tree goodness! I'd show you the results after adding water, but I didn't shell out the buck. Sorry.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Marvel Tree

A detour to the Dollar Tree today was pretty productive, as far as finding cheap superhero merch goes. So, where's the DC swag? The House of Ideas - 1, the Distinguished Competition - 0.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More Comic Book Movie News . . .

. . . this time, of the blue-and-red tights variety. Christopher Nolan is at the helm of the latest Superman film, as Warner Brothers decides to put the world's finest golden eggs in one basket.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Curious Case of Iron Man . . . 2

The latest trailer for Iron Man 2 went live on Yahoo (and every other corner of the Web) yesterday, and if I couldn't wait before, I'm practically shaking with anticipation now. To further whet my fanboy appetite, Marvel distributed a free Iron Man comic book last Wednesday, and while I've never read an issue of Marvel's armored avenger before, Matt Fraction's introspective Tony Stark has piqued my interest. Just like Robert Downey, Jr.'s portrayal, this Iron Man is all playboy on the outside (arguably, his most endurable armor of all), all tortured hero on the inside. His "five nightmares" are the perfect representation of any innovative inventor's fears, tinged with the concept of a superhero reality. At the end of the day, Stark's most formidable protection -- is his iron will.

Monday, March 08, 2010

So Close, But Still So Avatar: A Quick Treatise About Science Fiction

Allow me join the Internet discussion: Avatar didn't win the Academy Award because it didn't tell a new story. It used advanced technology to depict an engaging allegory, but it didn't offer anything new. Star Wars didn't tell a new story, either. They're just amazing moving pictures -- like most science fiction. Think about that; true science fiction can't offer anything new, because then it wouldn't be scientific. The genre uses science in different ways, spins it through a different perspective -- hence, the fiction -- but it needs some foundation in reality to make it a believable alternative thereof. Oftentimes, that foundation is raw humanity, like the brashness of a Captain Kirk or the naivete of a Luke Skywalker. The sensationalism of the future and/or other worlds is more attainable through their eyes, through the science of human nature above all else. Cool space ships help, too. In Avatar, James Cameron encourages an escape from our inherent humanity. He's created an entire fictional culture as an alternative. (In fact, his film is exactly the opposite of Star Trek in its violation of the Prime Directive!) We've been enticed by the unknown via science fiction for years -- like I said, that isn't new. Introducing mankind as the enigma, finally understanding that these amazing fantasies aren't external adventures but introspective discoveries -- feeling comfortable in our own skin -- now that would be award worthy.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Stark Does Hollywood

Robert Downey, Jr. mentioned Tony Stark on the Academy Awards tonight. So, while my favorite animated short of the year, "The Kinematograph," didn't earn a nomination, I'll take it.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Superhero Underwear? Over There!

My girlfriend and I were amused and disturbed by this end cap at a local Target. Notice that Spidey panel . . . right in the center of the butt. Ah, the Rhino -- talk about a horny villain.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Comic Con is coming . . .

Comic Con Magazine was among my week's worth of mail. I haven't read it yet, but I'm grateful for an issue dedicated to writing. Writers often suffer from the cruelest of ironies -- getting written off. Thankfully, print isn't dead yet.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

What's Up, Chuck?

When my dad was in town last weekend, we went to the new Chuck Jones exhibit at the Tempe Center of the Arts. Chuck's grandson gave a heartfelt presentation before a short film festival, featuring such Looney Tunes classics as "What's Opera, Doc?" Watching these cartoons with my father emphasized how the work of Chuck Jones transcends generations -- from both sides of the drawing board.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Hulk Puzzle Smashes 600th Post

I posted this pic of the Hulk puzzle my girlfriend and I assembled last night as a bonus for the day, but when I realized this morning that it was my 600th post, I decided to give the ol' Jade Jigsaw his own entry. After all, that better way to commemorate 600 posts intended to deconstruct comics than by putting something together?

Superman Pop Toppers Candy

The earthquake in Chile knocked the earth off its axis. If that doesn't sound like the fruits of a Dr. Doom plot, I don't know what does.

Before the world ends, enjoy this shot of some Superman lollipops at my local 99 Cents Store.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Cop Out

Anybody that saw the Bruce Willis/Tracy Morgan buddy cop flick Cop Out this weekend was subject to many subversive comic book references, from the Marvel logo appearing on a storefront window, to a Black Canary Justice League International action figure cameo, to Bruce Willis' baldness likened to Professor X. Director Kevin Smith knows his audience and isn't afraid to betray his geekiness in the mainstream, either. When it comes to being a fanboy, he never, uhm, cops out.

Don't worry -- a subplot surrounding a lost baseball card is sure to appeal to you jocks, too. A good buddy cop movie has a little something for everybody . . .!