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
ALL-STAR BATMAN 8
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 25
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 18
HE-MAN/THUNDERCATS 6 (of 6)
I HATE FAIRYLAND 11
KILL OR BE KILLED 7
MIGHTY THOR 17
SUPER SONS 2
UNCANNY X-MEN 19
WILD STORM 2
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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