Comic books are a mainstay in modern pop culture. From the summer blockbusters to the cartoon series, all the way into annual comic book conventions, people of the world can identify with comic book culture and its cavalcade of heroes and villains. The fandom originates from the pages of the comic books that help shape the state of their industry today. Due to the culture’s recent rise in popularity, one would assume the sales of comic books are at an all-time high. Last year, a report stated that very fact. However, there are now different means to obtain comic books. At one time, weekly titles were only available in local, brick-and-mortar shops that specifically sold new comic books. However, now there are many different digital applications that allow people to purchase comic books. The proliferation of so many innovative methods for releasing new comic books makes tracking the overall bottom line difficult. So, how does this digital revolution effect local comic shops?
A recent article from Movie Pilot reports that Marvel Comics suffered a significant hit in sales last month (February, 2017). One of the reasons—aside from competition—is likely due to digital sales through new comic-media apps. Diamond Distributors tracks the bulk units sold to the retail shops, but doesn’t track the digital sales (nor the individual comics sold by the local shops). The only merchants who have the true finger on the pulse of most comic book readers are the retailers. The question that must be asked in this digital age of publishing is: what does it take as a local vendor to make sure your pre-purchased comics sell?
Oral Frier is a comic book retailer in Orlando, Florida. He stands behind the glass display case presenting colorful comic book fodder at A Comic Shop each Wednesday. Frier gleefully greets the customers picking up their weekly pulls as well as the new possible readers interested in their local comic book shop. The store’s owner, Aaron Haaland, has a video blog that is featured weekly on BleedingCool—a popular pop-culture website. The store is nationally known, and has many customers in eastern Orlando. Whether the customer is loyal or late to the game, Frier welcomes all people with a smile. He knows that the comic book industry tries hard to make all books approachable for any reader. One way Frier attributes his success of selling comics to new readers is due to “retailer summits that give those in the industry insight as to what to expect in the upcoming months.” He continues, “You have a pretty good idea of what’s coming.”
Nick DeCicco spent a portion of his professional life working in comic book retail. I worked in retail for 10 years,” Nick says. “Specifically [in] the comics and memorabilia [industry] for 3 years.” He spent most of years within the now defunct Hobby Spot, another comic book and memorabilia retail shop in Orlando. “If I could have stayed and talked shop with people and made more money I would have for sure. Not enough people buying to give people raises, etc.” He reasoning is understandable. Did it have to do with the growing universe of new comics readers see on the shelves every year?
Readers often complain about the many comic book publishers like Marvel and DC Comics produce annually. Unfortunately, potential comic book readers often conduct research online about different series and see articles bashing the convoluted stories in unexplainable timelines, which can deter those potential readers from ever getting into a comic book series. Frier states that, “people are often hesitant to start a series because they believe they’ve missed too much. I hear this a lot when I recommend a particular story arc in a series that doesn’t begin with an issue #1.
In this modern era of comic book publishing, many long-standing titles get rebooted or roll back into new volumes starting with “#1.” Friar says, “with new readers, it gives them easy access, so they feel like they belong.”
DeCicco agrees in regards to the new readers. “I think comics restarting gives kids and new readers a chance to feel like they can begin from the start and keep up with [the respective series] instead of the daunting task of going back or getting and trying to read compendiums.”
These new strategies make reading comics may be somewhat approachable, but at the same time overwhelming for new customers, which leads to readers losing track of which new series to jump on. However, even with the seemingly endless amount of new volumes of comics, readers can always touch base with their favorite characters from time to time. “I have worked in the comic book retail industry for the past six years,” Friar says. “I am constantly reading and I think that is a vital part of selling books. I’m not saying you should read every single book weekly, but you should attempt to at least peruse a series you aren’t actively reading from time to time to see what is happening.”
Could the constant start-stop-restart methods of storytelling be another reason why it has been hard to track sales of different titles? Possibly. The retailers have to do the best they can pushing books into readers’ hands and cash into the retailers’ register. High-priced issues are often promoted by publishers as a jumping on point. This results in most titles shifting back to issue #1. “If it is done with restraint, it is a great way to get readers both old and new on a title,” Friar adds. With the prevalence of comic book lure all over Hollywood, merchants like Frier do what they can in order to gain new customers. “It is a two-pronged approach,” Frier explains in regards to gaining new readers. “If someone wants to start with X-Men, I like to start people with Grant Morrison’s New X-Men or Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men. The X-Men line is [historically] convoluted (hell, it is still convoluted to me, and I read it religiously), but those are solid places to start. That usually does the trick.”
As more comics are published digitally and in print, companies like Comixology and Diamond Distributors will likely come up with new, accurate ways to track the weekly sales of comics. Until then, the best place to gain a real idea of what flies off the shelves is through local retailers, like Oral Frier, who experience a myriad of sales and opinions on a daily basis. As the culture of comic book readers expands further into mainstream pop culture, the future of the comic book industry—although often hard to understand—will continue to spin stories that sell.
Late the other night (really late), I was watching an old documentary on Stock, Aiken, and Waterman. They’re the guys that produced Rick Astley’s and Kylie Minogue’s hits of the late 80’s. I don’t remember how a fell into this rabbit hole. Again, it was super-late. So here I am watching this nonsense and then I see a clip from (John Landis’) Michael Jackson’s Thirller. I finally lay down to be and throw the “Thriller” video on. After it’s finished, before I turn over into Sleepytown, I see that “Bad” is next up. Ugh. It had been a minute since I saw young-Wesley Snipes push around the “King of Pop.” My drowsy eyes endured the music video up until “Joe College” transforms into, well, The King of Pop—flanked by his “Deus Ex Machina” homeboys.
I woke up and grabbed my laptop.
Why has Michael effin’ Jackson never starred in his own on-going comic book? He was a comic book fan. Hell, Stan Lee offered MJ a chance to partner-up and purchase the then fledgling Marvel Comics. Captain Eo surely had its own book, but that was a one-shot. Maybe the main issue was the over theme or mood of the book. Panels of MJ dancing might not translate well. But if he was dance-fighting? Like the Moonwalker video game? With the right angle, how could this story not be worth a read? These guys are pretty rad.
Weeks back, I posted a blog regarding a speculative adventure with one of my favorite comic book teams, the X-Men. This particular entry you’re currently zipping through is more of an express, world-building exercise featuring MJ and the cast of characters from the “Bad” music video… as well as a few other creations and familiar faces. Let’s get started then, shall we?
B.A.D.: You Know It! You Know! (You Know!)
B.A.D.: Battle Attack Dancewarriors – Defenders of Old Big City from the treachery of villainy.
Shuh’mon (Hugh) Novitt (Team Leader)
Codename: The King
Abilities: “Moves” on a Cosmic level of power
Once dance-fought his way into another dimension. Dance-fought his way out. Can boogie beyond the capabilities of anything in the universes. Known for throwing disses in the midst of combat. (Hugh Novitt’s theme music.) Owns The Fedora Lounge, a nightclub in the Capone borough of Old Big City. Main-man of the city. You know him. You know it. You know it. Chum on-uh.
Codename: The Backpack
Abilities: Terrestrial Teleportation, low-level Sorcerery.
Teleports the entire squad by way of the Dangerous Dimension—an alternate reality where the human mind is incapable of withstanding the dimension’s atmospheric psychic energies. Able to phase through most objects. Stores all of The King’s weaponry in a magic backpack which only he can access. Anthropophobic—he can’t go anywhere without Hugh Novitt (See: above-uh, chum on-ah), whom Hooter saved, and then escaped out of the Dangerous Dimension years ago. His experience in the dimension caused severe mental trauma, which explains his disorder.
The most athletic guy on the block. ‘Thelics bets a lot; so, basically this streetwise tough-guy abuses his ability to control the outcome of events. Always sporting fresh duds and killer “Glowglitter” enhancement packs. Star player of Old Big City’s underground Stickball league, where B.A.D. fields a team. They’re okay. Dancers don’t usually translate to Stickball. Tino keeps them above .500.
Oh wait, I didn’t mention Glowglitter—a synthetic form of what we humans call “glitter” which enhances the abilities of B.A.D. It was first developed by Dr. Barahptat Daboodop, whom B.A.D. now refers to as their sworn enemy, Pharaoh Nogo. He attempted to sell the “enhancement supplement” on the black market. The King upended Nogo and locked him up in the clink before the drug, I mean, enhancement supplement was distributed. (Or was it?)
Codename: The Top
Abilities: Divine Body Control, Sonic Vision
Unable to be knocked off-balance, always lands on his feet (or head). Master of several street-level martial arts. Blind in both eyes. Years ago, Nogo, then Daboodop, impanted new eyes inside of Gil’s actual eyes. This was odd. Why not take out the old eyes and put in new ones? This is the greatest Super-advanced scientist of another place and time, is it not? Nogo is that, by the by. Anyway, the new eyes in the old ones have sonic enhancers. Then again, I wonder if Gil would rather hear in sonar that see in sonar? Wait, can you “hear in sonar?” I may have just discovered something. So, yeah, this is Gil the Top. He can hear with his eyes and ears
Soup Kristly and Poncho Kazimitzu
Codename: Good & Plenty
They share brains, finish each other’s sentences at an annoying frequency, and melt your mind. Not much is known about Soup and Poncho beyond that. They just show up. The rest of B.A.D. thinks they’re weird (aside from one or two members). The King welcomes them. But they’re still weird. Not in a, “those guys look like they commit crimes on the side” way. More like in a “those guys are looking at me like I’m not who I say I am and it’s creepy. Why are you two always sneaking around in the background getting down, fighting-style?” way. Why does The King and co. put up with this tandem? Because they’re arguably two of the strongest hit-makers. As in, making punches. With their minds.
Codename: The Curtain
Abilities: Master Analyst, Persuasion
Runs the numbers; controls B.A.D.’s assets. The King’s childhood best friend. Set up B.A.D.’s front—PYC’s, a cookie shop in the Blackerwhite borough of Old Big City. They sell the best cookies on the planet. A few members of the team prefer their Glowglitter sprinkled on top of Snickerdoodles. Tavares calls them “Glowglitterdoodles.” He’s a smart guy, just not extremely creative on the titling front. He did come up with “The Curtain.” So, there’s a little redemption.
The drummer of Tesla
Codename: The Drummer of Tesla
Abilities: Technopathy – Mechanokinesis
Rock star by day. Rock star by night. Builder of anything by midnight. TDT builds all of B.A.D.’s vehicles and weaponry. The King’s a big Tesla fan. Once the boss realized TDT was able to build literally anything out of anything, the acquisition of TDT’s services was finalized. Soon after joining the unit, TDT built their subbasement compound underneath PYC’s.
Codename: The Acrobat
Carny. Stylist. Louis’s biology naturally takes to Glowglitter better than the rest of the team. An acrobat in the Ol’ Old Big City Circus. Hair grows at will—from anywhere—and gains durability. (Example: chest hair as durable as Kevlar.) Only way to cut it, is to burn in. Louis is known to smell like burnt ass. Hangs occasionally with Good & Plenty.
Codename: The Ice-Cold Crusher
Controls weather within a limited radius. “Freezes” his skin making his exterior more dense and tough, like an iceberg. Enemies often risk frostbite if contact is made with D-Watt’s skin in freeze-mode. He’s moody, though. Don’t expect many sunny days on the blocks across the Blugangsta borough of Old Big City.
Codename: The Tonka
B.A.D.’s tank. Appears to move at near supersonic speed when pop, lock, and rushing enemies, when in actuality, The Tonka can “fall” toward them by controlling the direction of gravity around him. The Glowglitter takes to Samuel almost as naturally as it does to The Acrobat. His active gym-life increases his invulnerability. Samuel is a personal trainer and “Jam-ersizing” instructor at Gym In To Me—located in the Bubbles borough of Old Big City. You can see The Tonka occasionally attending Saturday morning’s “Boobs N’ Break’fus” at Dirty Diana’s on the south side. Good & Plenty are also valued guests of this establishment. They’re weird.
Codename: The Show-Gun
Abilities: Tactile Telekinesis, Genetically Enhanced Agility
Genetically bred by Pharaoh Nogo as part of Nogo’s alpha-stage experiments. Merely invincible. A force field protects The Show-Gun from severe physical damage and enhances his already enhanced enhancements. Commutes by way of flight at a supersonic level. Use field to act like sunglasses, shielding his outward appearance. Runs a self-defense dojo out of Gym In To Me. Often Tonka’s transport. Often waiting for Tonka to finish his business at “Boobs N’ Break’fus.”
OTHER NOTABLE CHARACTERS
Dr. Barahptat Daboodop
Codename: Pharaoh Nogo
Once the mentor of The King and his B.A.D. compatriots. A harrowing trip to the Dangerous Dimension left the mind of then Dr. Daboodop in ruins. The persona of “Pharaoh Nogo” was born when The Supreme Leader’s forces took over the southernmost point of Old Big City, detached the land mass of South Capone and transformed it into the island now known as Eo City. Fearing that B.A.D. stood zero chance of stopping the invasion, Nogo took on the, “if you can’t beat ‘em…” approach. Never once since working under the guidance of The Supreme Leader has Nogo stood face-to-face with the entity. Nogo now controls the criminal and scientific activity of mainland Old Big City, sworn to destroy B.A.D., the monster Nogo created.
“The Supreme Leader”
Codename: Supreme Leader
Emerging from the Dangerous Dimension, The Supreme Leader and her horde of loyal mercenaries took over southern Old Big City and literally took the chunk of rock as their own. Those of the Dangerous Dimension can tell you of The Supreme Leader’s terror. Unfortunately, humans and even “Dancewarriors” don’t last very long in that plane of reality. Once thing we do know is that she wants to rest of Old Big City to house his realm from the “other side”—a “core” at the center of two universes.
The Lost Children
A chorus of The Supreme Leader’s synthetic children literally shelved inside of The Supreme Leader’s Throne Room within her main headquarters on Eo City. The Lost Children consider The Supreme Leader to be their “mother,” often referring her as such. Much like obedient children, they carry out any orders under the guidance of their mother.
The Super Black Ninja
Exiled from their homeland in The Orient. Invades Blugangsta while B.A.D. is preoccupied with the discovery of Eo City. Honorable at any cost.
- Billie Jean Kong
Codename: The Unbreakable
Abilities: Aside from the powers the Super Black Ninja already possess, The Unbreakable is the master-defender of the clan. Unmatched in combat due to latent magical shield prophesized never to have reached full potential.
An orphan who once knew a young, Louis Lochart a.k.a. The Acrobat, before he joined the circus. Joined the clan after conning her way through her teens before reaching The Orient. Joined the ranks, endured the torture, and became a Super Black Ninja. Adopted by the clan itself. Her masters are her father figures.
- Kong Dao
Abilities: Divine Power Bestowal
The Super Black Ninja. Grants the special abilities to those who survive the torturous training to become part of the clan. All but Billie Jean. She is the prophesized Unbreakable. One comes every 100 years. Once thought he held the latent magic needed to become the master-defender. Still feels he would make a better Unbreakable. Jealous of how powerful his adopted daughter, Billie Jean, is becoming. Wants to overtake Blugangsta, cordon it off and by way of magic and culture, and cultivate the small island into a new kingdom for his exiled people.
This comic essentially writes itself. Establish B.A.D. cleaning up the bad guy interlopers sent by Pharaoh Nogo. They find out that The Supreme Leader is planning to take over the rest of Old Big City. Who is the Supreme Leader? What has become of Eo City? B.A.D. thought Nogo was problem, now this “Supreme Leader?” Fortunately, Bobby Hooter a.k.a. The Backpack, is familiar with The Supreme Leader’s presence in the Dangerous Dimension. He knows the only thing The Supreme Leader brings to Old Big City is doom and uncertainty. The King trusts Hooter and orders The Curtain and others to prepare B.A.D.’s business endeavors for war. B.A.D.’s philanthropy now switches gears to “strategery.”
As I’m writing this paragraph, it’s been nearly 24 hours since I thought of this idea. I’m currently outlining eight volumes of stories that began as ridiculousness, but has now turned into a brief obsession. I think there may be some mileage here. Once I finish the eighth volume’s outline, I’ll put it down and see if my brain stays in this world. If it does so, that’s usually when I know I need to finish what I started. Would love to hear your thoughts, readers.
Until next time.
Hey, gang! This week’s entry will be a rather short one. It’s been a busy couple of weeks. However, it’s no excuse to not keep up a discipline. I’ve enjoyed my return to the “Blog-o-sphere.” It also serves as a nice companion to my podcast, which is about to drop more pro-wrestling content as the “big week” steadily approaches. Speaking of, I’m looking at a nice, long weekend of cleaning my home as guests start to arrive this Monday for Wrestlemania weekend, next weekend. Good thing I got some needed entertainment out of the way last week. I’m going to be stressed for the next few days.
I finally watched Kong: Skull Island. To my pleasant surprise–at the film’s core—Kong’s a monster movie. The only reason I was surprised at how much of the film was a monster mash is solely based on previous attempts to reignite the fire of movie monsters. They all kind of sucked respectfully. The unfortunate aspect of KSI that I found similar to the crappy monster movies of years’ past was the A-list cast, working off a script an ambitious, 12-year old cinephile could write in the midst of his or her “monster film phase.” But what do I know? Did it work? Yes. That’s probably the most important thing to take away here. Kong: Skull Island is pretty cool.
The Kong fights are awesome. I’m not spoiling anything by revealing that Kong doesn’t interact with humans often, but when he does, it impacts the story on an emotional level. Oh yeah, and the post-credits scene. I’m sure a lot of people know by now what goes down. Fortunately, I was able to tune out anything “spoiler-rific,” although I had suspicions based on recent rumblings from Legendary Pictures. Not sure about you readers, but I’m not a fan on sitting through a film with a post-credit scene where nothing happens. The only exception: Marvel’s Avengers. If you’ve not yet seen Kong, think of the post-credits scene as the real story at the end of the day. Can you watch the last 30 minutes and figure out what’s happening? Most definitely. The ride is worth it, though. So is John C. Reilly. He’s hilarious.
At the conclusion of Kong, I realized that I’ve still yet to see Logan. Know me better than, you know, you, I don’t think I’m going to frustrate myself. I was totally not into X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It took me a second to remember that The Wolverine was the previous Wolvie picture, not Logan. (Which I didn’t see because of [see: prev link].) The X-Men: Origins franchise-to-be never got off the ground because (I think) the Wolverine movie pissed so many readers (me) and fans (also me) off. X-Men/X2-Wolverine works. I’m not getting into the other X-Men films—not directed by Matthew Vaughn—that have since graced us with their, um, “wonder?” Short answer: I’ve witnessed Wolverine do so much bad ass shit in the comics, I don’t want to see him take another one onscreen.
Admittedly, kids of my generation that first started reading comics in the late 80’s were enamored with Wolverine. I was eleven when first introduced to Lobo by some older kids at church who read comics. Even then I knew he was a poor man’s Wolvie. They disagreed. If Wolverine, The Punisher, The Comedian, and Rocket Raccoon were thrown in a blender, Lobo would be the gnarly result—by some weird, biological miracle. A “biker gang Superman,” essentially. Of course, I didn’t say that to those kids. Again, I was eleven. Anyway, you go back and read any Chris Claremont stories from the 80’s, “devil-horns” fly. Jason Aaron really got Logan as well. I dig that Wolverine as a character. I love the X-Men. Enjoy the films, readers. I’ll stick to the old stories instead. (Most certainly not the more recent ones.)
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] Oh, please. Not another riff on the apparent travesty that are X-Men comics of the last decade. It’s the same with fans of the Montreal Canadiens. Once, their franchise was unmatched in the NHL, but outside of a few flashes of greatness, they’ve been mediocre bordering on failures since the late 80’s. Sound familiar?
[ED:] Well that was racist.
I just thought that since you were from “Londonbury,” or “Oxlandshire,” that–
[ED:] You’re an imbecile. This is me taking my leave. Copy-edit your commentary regarding the “funny pages.” What’s on your pull list this week?
Sometimes it’s just too easy with that guy. Let’s press on, shall we? Last week was a hefty week of reading. It was a good week, but there was a lot of stories to dig through. This week is totally manageable to remain on-track.
PULL LIST FOR 3/22:
As you all know, Superman Reborn is at the top of my weekly stack. That’s pretty much the way it’s been since my first pull list back in 2000. I don’t know if I’ve ever read Superman series during a period of time where they were unquestionably the best comic books in the game. With Action and Superman each coming out every other week, the story has to be tight. I’ve stated before that Peter Tomasi and Dan Jurgens are killing it. I must also give props to Patrick Gleason, the artist on Superman, who is doing an awesome job visually introducing Jonathan Kent and his massive personality. But, yo, the rotation of artists (Patrick Zircher, Stephen Segovia, Jaime Mendoza, and Doug Mahnke) on Action Comics since Rebirth began has been most impressive. All styles work well in secession. You see this not work in some comics that switch artists like musical chairs.
Sort of like Extraordinary X-Men. It would’ve been nice if Humberto Ramos stayed on the title for a lengthy stay similar to Chris Bachalo’s art on Uncanny X-Men Vol. 3. Bachalo didn’t draw every arc, but a majority of the 30 or so issues contained his pencils. As soon as Ramos left the book’s interiors, so did my interest. Besides, as I’ve previously said, this doesn’t read like a Jeff Lemire comic. However, I am a completest. So, here’s to Extraordinary X-Men: another X-series I’ve wasted my money to complete.
Unworthy Thor is just the opposite. This series could be some of the best money I’ve spent on entertainment in years. Why? Because this companion series to Mighty Thor answers questions that the main ongoing series cannot. Odinson is sick of the notion and rational that he’s no longer worthy to wield Mjolnir. At first, I thought Jason Aaron was just going to have Thor/Odinson accept this and we would see only one Thor in the form of Jane Foster fight the Thor-fights. Oh no. This week, readers discover what it was that the true-blue Nick Fury whispered to Odinson on the moon way back during Original Sin.
That’s going to wrap up this week’s entry. Cannot wait to crack into this week’s stack. Here’s to happy reading, gang! See you next week, hopefully!
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!!FRESH EPISODE!! Recorded Mar 17, 2017
This KING-SIZE episode really packs a nostalgic punch for all listeners who are pro-wrestling fans. Matty welcomes back CWF Mid-Atlantic lead matchmaker and commentator, BRAD STUTTS, for this special episode which acts as the first of three podcasts focusing on professional wrestling’s fantastic eras, matches, and memorabilia.
The duo shares a similar wavelength when looking back on their favorite second matches in Wrestlemania’s past. (There’s a hard emphasis on the late 80’s cards, gang.)
Enjoy! And SUBSCRIBE!
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I don’t if any of you can tell, but I’ve been pretty busy adding new content to my website like speculative adventures with the X-Men to my latest episode of MattyLovesPodcast with CHIKARAhistorian, Kevin Ford where we discuss the three latest episodes in the “binge-able” batches CHIKARA Pro Wrestling has released on their streaming service, CHIKARAtopia. There are 30 episodes of MLP now available over at iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher. Of course, the full gambit (including the Wrestling with Football Podcast with Grant Sawyer) leading up to episode #52, is still avail in the YouTube archives. There you’ll hear the episodes that were more topical at the time of release. Stay tuned, there are more podcasts one the way.
I can’t tell you where this inspiration to add more content came from. What I do know that my productivity has a soundtrack. Music is very important to me. In my spells of downtrodden points, music has been a fantastic way of dealing with life’s obstacles. I’m sure you can relate. Music also helps me get out of creative funks, dig through my weekly pile of comics, and vacuum. Since the start of 2017, I’ve read a lot of comics. Last year consisted of me building up a stack and then grinding through it every month or so. Sometimes it felt like work. I’ve still needed to catch up a couple of titles because the backlog of a few titles was getting ridiculous. I dug out some collected editions out of the inventory to revisit with an adult brain (Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, Ed Brubaker’s X-Men run). Recently, I’ve been immersed in two genres of music while escaping into the comic book black hole that is my living room.
The first jammers aren’t really a genre, or maybe they are depending on who you’re talking to. On July 5th, I’m seeing Metallica at the Citrus Bowl down here in sunny Orlando, FL. I’m totally dialed in. However, ‘Tallica hasn’t been on the comic book-reading playlist, so much as being the stars of my “get ready for work” soundtrack. They’re one of those bands that I couldn’t wait to listen to once Mom thought I was old enough to rock. Metallica became an interest around the time I first started watching pro-wrestling. Older kids were on the school bus talking about …And Justice For All, then “The Black Album,” and then the Live Shit: Binge & Purge box set. I knew a kid up the street who had all that stuff to pique my curiosity eve more. Seeing Metallica live has been a lifelong quest. Sure, I’ve had opportunities, but I can also name all the extenuating circumstances that prevented me from seeing them all four attempts. Needless to say, I’m stoked.
The other genre is the soundtrack to any hero who: 1. Can drive fast vehicles, 2. shoot any gun, 3. karate anyone with expertise, 4. jump off high stuff, and 5. knows zero unattractive people in any aspect of personality or physicality. It’s also a brand of music that makes for fantastic background noise for reading, driving, or whatever. I’m talking about Synthwave music.
My curiosity started at an early age with John Carpenter. Fans of his work know that the score to his films make the film. Halloween, Escape From New York, and Big Trouble in Little China, to name a few, provide a rhythmic experience through the adventures, horrors, and magic of Carpenter’s motion pictures. Over the past few years, Carpenter released two volumes of Lost Themes which bestow upon listeners chances to imagine different stories that transpire during each of the previously unreleased tracks.
More recently, I came across the Synthwave band known as Power Glove. For most of you who know me, there’s no reason to explain my relation to the NES controller released in the late 80’s. Long story short, once I heard the sound, I thought of Kung Fury and Stranger Things. I thought of Miami Vice and Giorgio Moroder. I thought of Michael Knight and K.I.T.T. Synthwave takes me to places I want to be. The sound splits the atoms in my brain and sets off a creative explosion. The mushroom cloud of memory fills my head with nothing but a mission to unlock the “what’s next” and the new discoveries that await me within my own tales and the comics I read every day.
I’ll give you five more Synthwave acts that anyone would dig.
Mitch Murder – Have you ever seen the film Kung Fury? (Link’s above.) The awesome score is done by this dude. I first heard of the Swiss producer following my first six viewings of Fury. It’s got a killer soundtrack.
Robert Parker – Another Swiss producer whose sound is a mix of 80’s films and European disco and house beats.
Dynatron – This producer out of Denmark says he’s inspired by 80’s action flicks. I’m pretty sure all these producers are inspired by 80’s action flicks.
The Midnight – This songwriting/producing duo is based out of L.A by way of the southern U.S. and Denmark respectively. They also use a cursive, neon logo. (What’s up with that, by the way? Seems like that’s a thing.)
Lazerhawk – Possibly my favorite band name out of this set of Synthwave acts. This producer is based out of Austin, TX. I’m definitely keeping an eye out to see if he’s heading to the FL area soon.
So that’s what I’ve been jamming to while I grind it out here in the Mattcave. Moving right along, let’s now get into the comics coming out this week. I want to start off by addressing three characters and their respective titles that lived in my pull list rotation for years. It’s weird to think that characters like Batman, the X-Men, and Invincible will soon be eliminated from my weekly pulls. One thing is for sure, two of the three won’t be awaiting my arrival at A Comic Shop in the near future.
I’ll begin with Batman. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run on New 52’s Batman is comparable to Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern leading up to and during the New 52 relaunch. My reasoning is solely based on the conclusions Snyder and Johns set up. After I read N52’s Batman #52 and Green Lantern #20, I thought, “This is it. Like, why even write stories beyond this point. Nothing will ever be this good.” I tried to stay on and get into Tom King’s recent run of “Rebirth Bats,” but much like Robert Vendetti taking over for Johns on GL titles, it’s just not the same. Couple this with Snyder’s newest Batman series, All-Star Batman, and you have me longing for The Court of Owls. I know Snyder and Capullo have a new Bats project on the horizon entitled “Metal,” but if there is any sort of lead-up, I will be in the dark (unless Rob at ComicsExplained breaks down King’s Batman and the remainder of Snyder’s All-Star series).
Then you have the X-Men.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] Another X-Men rant, Matthew? Really?
Oh, there you are, “Ed.” I think I’ve figured out how to catch you, mid-edits.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] Obviously. This completely defeats the purpose of my commentary. You can just write me out.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] No. You can’t. And unless you want this to start turning into a Deadpool-type of scenario. Carry on with your gripes about a comic book series that really hasn’t been prevalent in 15 years.]
Look, I’ve made my bones about the travesty that Marvel Comics has made of the X-Men U. It’s awful right now. The X-titles are almost as bad as the scramble before and after House of M. Fortunately, Marvel still had the scribing services of one Chris Claremont to at least make Uncanny X-Men enjoyable. I read recently that Jeff Lemire is leaving Marvel. My high hopes for Extraordinary X-Men were shot once Apocalypse Wars (plural) got underway. In my experience with Lemire’s work, his recent announcement makes sense to why Extraordinary doesn’t “feel” like a Lemire title. I’m not even going to get into Uncanny. I’m sure I’ve asked in previous posts why Marvel’s (supposedly) main X-title consists of all villains. I won’t again. The next event for the X-Men is ResurreXion. Once again, we’ll have TEN X-Men titles that have nothing to do with one another. So stupid. Why don’t we just have Uncanny X-Men and that’s that? How hard would that be to simply build the team back up from a single title? No? You gotta have as much money as possible? I get it. Do your thing, Marvel-money. You won’t see much from my pockets in regards to the X-Men—until they announce the next volume of Uncanny, because, well, I have almost all of them anyway.
My final gripe may be the biggest one of all. No comic book has affected me emotionally as much as Robert Kirkman’s Invincible. I’ve produced podcasts about the series. I’ve gushed about the first 15-20 volumes in past blog posts. For the past two years, the book reads like its been written by a robot programmed by Kirkman to specifically kick out weak stories while Kirkman maintains his duties on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Oliver, Invincible’s half-brother, was recently killed—which is a another “wtf, man” type of tangent I could ignite. If Invicible’s end happened three years ago, I would’ve been wrecked. Due to the fact that the past two years (like, six total issues) of story evoked zero emotions up to the point of—and during—Oliver’s demise, I don’t really care anymore. Now that I know the series ends in ten or so issues, I just want it to be over with. Kirkman, in all intents and purposes, should’ve ended Invincible after issue #100. The past 33 issues have been a waste. Let’s just be real. What a shame. It’s still the best 100 issues I’ve ever read from any story in the super-hero genre. I’ll likely stand by that forever, unless the end is unbearable. Then that would really be a shame.
But enough of the yuck-yuck over comics. There are what they are. Bats, the X-Men, and Invincible will hopefully be back to form one day. Fortunately, there are plenty of titles I’m currently reading that are hitting their strides. Let’s take a look at some examples from my pull list for this week.
PULLS FOR 3/15
HE-MAN/THUNDERCATS 6 (of 6)
I must admit, this is the first hefty week of books in a minute. The Batman and X-Men titles respectively glare back at me. I’m up in the air about All-Star. There is still hope for the finale of Invincible. I probably will flip through Uncanny for the sole purpose that I’ve done so, much like the 500+ issues I’ve purchased before.
I love this mash of comics because the slate is a “time machine” of my favorite things. Let’s start with He-Man, the O.G. within my history of Geek. He-Man/Thundercats is a super-fun, “what if…” crossover where it’s basically the Eternians and Thunderians joining forces to stop Skeletor and Mumm-Ra from destroy everything. It’s a great time.
Superman and Action Comics really rock it out. Last week’s Action revealed that the “DoppelClark” was, in fact, Mr. Mxyzptlk. One really cool thing the folks at DC provided with was a background history of Mr. MITZ-EL-PLIK—oh yeah, and a confirmation that the way I’ve said his name all these years is the correct way. Well, that way, and four others. This week’s chapter will likely be the first book I crack open. The second being the trouble that Jonn-o Kent and Damian Wayne have gotten themselves into.
Warren Ellis’ Wild Storm continues. I dug the first issue where we basically get the introduction to the main cast, which includes Grifter, Zealot, Void, Jacob Marlowe, and Miles Craven. The only character I’m still scratching my head about is Michael Cray. When will be become Deathblow? Did that happen already? I still have a bunch of questions plot-wise.
“The Asgard/Shi’ar War” concludes this week. I’ve said it before (quite a few times, probably), the Shi’ar make things happen. They’re a wonderful combination of personalities and power sets to make themselves formidable—specifically on ground-level combat. You can never sleep on Gladiator. I don’t know if its Jason Aaron’s awesome stories and “Thor-verse” he created, or the insanely talented artists painting the pictures, but Thor-related events and stories for the past five (FIVE!) years have been incredible. Some of the best comic book content I’ve had the pleasure of absorbing in my life as a reader. I mean that. Thor: God of Thunder is a series I would not only recommend to new comic book readers interested in Thor, I would suggest TGoT to anyone who is interested in reading super-hero comic books in general. Jane Foster hasn’t disappointed me in the slightest.
And hey, hey Kill or be Killed is on the list! Again, this is likely going to win my “Best Comic of 2017” when the year is said and done. I’ll do another quick check to see if the series is being optioned as a television series. I haven’t seen anything yet. Just wait, gang. I’m telling you. This series would translate so well to a streaming service like Netflix. Hope you have considered this book to add on your must-read list.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] It is quite good.
See? “Ed” knows. And he’s super-anal when it comes to comics he considers to be palatable much less a form of literature.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] Excuse me, I read the “Archies.”
That’s kind of sad, Ed.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] And yet here you are clamoring for the next episode of Riverdale which airs Thursday night.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] Wrap it up, please.
Another reason I think KobK and other titles from Image Comics are so enjoyable is due to the fact that they’re inexpensive. They never stray from a hard $3.99 on monthly books containing zero ads throughout the story. Amazing Spider-Man #25 is “over-sized” and coming off the shelf at a $9.99 clip. Look, AMS holds one of the torches which continues to guide the Marvel through the endless caverns of canon. Dan Slott is one of the best writers in comics and will likely go down in history as one of the five best writers for the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Still though, $10? Really? The book is 96 pages. However, only “40” contain the main story penned by Slott. I don’t know, man. Let’s just hope the corners of the book aren’t torn.
That’s it for this week, gang. Here’s to another excellent week and a rockin’ comic book Wednesday. Have fun! I’ll talk at you soon!
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!!FRESH EPISODE!! Recorded on March 13, 2017
– MLP is excited to have back co-founder of PRO WRESTLING PONDERINGS and operator of THE CHIKARA SPECIAL, “CHIKARAHistorian” KEVIN FORD.
– This episode is the latest CHIKARA Pro update from Matty and Kevin. The duo takes a look at the third “trio” of episodes from CHIKARA’s “secret” Season 17. They also express their excitement for CHIKARA’s visit to sunny Orlando, FL at the end of March.
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Two weeks ago, the City of Seattle hosted its annual Emerald City ComicCon (ECCC) at the Washington State Convention Center to the delight of comic book fans in the Pacific Northwest and the event’s international attendees. Comic book conventions are places where the imagination can run wild. At conventions, comic-art—even in the form of costumes—is inescapable. Cosplayers dress up in attire dawned by iconic heroes and villains. They join other comic-clad patrons for the similar goal of taking part in the commerce, often debating with their friends over comics and toys, cruising around the floor while people-watching, and meeting their favorite comic book creators. Writers, artists, editors, and more await patient people who wait for the chance to land a five minute “thank you” and a possible autograph or photo opportunity.
Tom Taylor is one creator who wasn’t amongst the creative community at ECCC in 2017. Originally scheduled to attend, Taylor canceled his appearance days before the convention due to his feelings on the state of immigration in America. In particular, President Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order on the safety of the country’s “interior.” Taylor, a native of Melbourne, Australia, fears that—due to these new “enhancements” of the safety of America—he’s not “safe” or “welcome in this country.” Currently, Taylor is the scribe of comic book titles for both Marvel and DC Comics—a rarity for writers in 2017’s comic book industry. Marvel’s All-New Wolverine and DC’s Injustice: Gods Among Us—both penned by Taylor—are top-selling titles. Taylor continues to make a tremendous impact on the comic book landscape. Unfortunately, his fans missed out on the experience of meeting the talented writer at the ECCC ’17 events.
Taylor joins a few other creators who are taking similar a stance against the President’s Executive Order. However, Taylor may not have looked deeper into the City of Seattle—namely King County. The Mayor of Seattle, Ed Murray, recently challenged the authority of Washington, D.C.’s lawmakers and their federal agents’ involvement in enhancing U.S. immigration limitations. According to the Seattle Census Bureau, over 600,000 people live in Seattle, of which over 33% are minorities/immigrants. Murray wants the city to continue its reputation of being a welcoming community. The Emerald City recently made a request to obtain public records in order to gain more knowledge about how the new immigration laws in cities with high foreign populations will work.
Mayor Murray and Tom Taylor likely share similar beliefs, as do comic book fans in touch with the country’s political climate. It is unfortunate that Taylor was absent from a convention in a city where its leaders are willing to verbally stand up against the President’s recent Executive Order. With other comic book creators also refusing to travel into America, what does this mean for the future comic book conventions within the United States? Will Taylor’s perspective set and example for other comic book creators to follow?
Tom will tell.