Archive for Star Wars

Uncharted Territory: The Walmart Comic Rack

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 11/12/2016 by Kevin Entrekin

* Tuesday’s Gone- Metallica “My baby’s gone with the wind” RIP Sophie, my Baby Girl.

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I hate going to Wal-Mart. There is a suffocating air as soon as you walk in the place. An air that reeks of artificial attitudes and a tension that feels like a brawl could break out for no reason at any moment. Unfortunately, the store is only a two-minute drive from home, so I have to brave the sanctified aisles of the mega cathedral of consumerism to acquire necessities.

While I hurriedly was trying to find the shortest check out line to purchase my sriracha and boxed quinoa, I saw something familiar, yet out-of-place: Comics. Not individual issues mind you, but packs of three relatively recent issues from Marvel and DC. They were inconspicuously stuffed between Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon cards and had a nice round price of a fiver on them. (Edit: this is a more recent photo of the display, where it is now directly marketed as Marvel/DC packs and the Marvel issues are now $10).

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Maybe this isn’t anything new and I’ve just missed it. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, really. It’s a logical business stepping point for the Big Two to start selling books at… well, practically anywhere they can. Like when Piggly Wiggly had a random rack of comics next to a Pog vending machine when I was a kid (90’s kid trigger warning).

These comic packs are water-testers. I wager it won’t be long before people can go to their local mega store for Wednesday pick-ups. Yet another threat the local comic shops will have to weather.

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Let’s dissect the bag I bought: I picked up the more mysterious packaging of the two, the Marvel pack (Which isn’t advertised as a marvel set as you can see from the scan above). It promised the possibilities of “randomly inserted Bronze, Silver, & Modern Age Keys”. A promise I suspected to be hollow and fruitless before ripping the package open.

I was surprised though when I did actually open it up, because I was expecting some stuff from a fifty-cent bin. Instead they were all three relatively recent Marvel issues: Star Wars: Shattered Empire #02, Radioactive Spider-Gwen #01, and Hercules #02. The oldest issues (SW and Gwen) date back to only December 2015 and Hercules is as recent as March 2016.

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  • Radioactive Spider-Gwen #01

I guess this was the “key” (gotta sneak in that insider comic lingo like “keys” to draw in the kiddos) first issue the promotion bubble was talking about.

I love Spider-Gwen. Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez’s creation is one of the best things Marvel (had) came out with in a long time. But, this is the second number one Gwennie received in 2015. The first five issues were disrupted by the marketing series Secret Wars, and after a few months Spider-Gwen “continued” with a new name and first issue.

And even though this is a continuation, a lot of the uniqueness and fun of the original initial issues have been lost. Rodriguez’s art hasn’t changed and Latour’s writing isn’t much different. But the fun is gone, and I think I know who is responsible: Marvel.

Marvel is its own worst enemy when it comes to good series like this, Howard the Duck, and Spider-Woman. Secret Wars was forced into Gwen’s world and had to “start over”. Then only a few issues into Radioactive, Gwen was sidetracked once again with the Spider-Women arch (combining forces with Silk and Spider-Woman). That series was quite fun actually, but still off course. Then they saw that the cream was sweet and made a Gwenpool series, thus trying to milk a cow before it can produce..

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  • Hercules #02

Hercules was the mystery issue in the pack. For starters, I had not heard of it. For a series that came out this year, it went unnoticed on the shelves at my local shop and I had not heard any praise for it. But this was issue two, and a second printing at that apparently. Maybe there was some thing more beyond the Liefeld-esque cover.

There wasn’t, sadly. I secretly wanted this to work and I can see what they were going for: The tarnished hero that must seek redemption. But it doesn’t really work when all I keep coming back to is thinking of Thor. That doesn’t usually matter to me, but the plot itself is predictable and the art forgettable, making the hero himself forgettable.

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  • Star Wars: Shattered Empire #02

Shatter Empire was the most interesting issue, and the far superior read in comparison to Hercules (in comparison to issues I hadn’t read, as I already had read Spider-Gwen).

I don’t remember this 4-part series when it first came out among the slew of almost 20+ Star Wars titles Marvel released to promote The Force Awakens. Before reading I did a little research and learned it was about Poe Dameron’s parents essentially, which put me on edge that it was just a flaming fandom rubbish pile.

But the plot is handled by storied writer Greg Rucka, and it’s a strong plot. Although I had not read the first issue, it was easy to catch up and get involved in the story. It mainly focuses on Poe’s mother Shara Bey, who is an ace rebel pilot assigned to escort Princess Leia on a mission to Naboo, where things go awry.

I think what surprised me more than the good story was the art. The art by Marco Checchetto, Emilio Laiso, and Angel Unzueta is solid and beautifully colored. Especially the fight sequence at the beginning of the issue between AT-ATs and rebel squadrons.

While there are some weak/unnecessary plot like Princess Leia writing condolence letters, this isn’t just a random story thrown together to be a promo for The Force Awakens. Assuming the rest of the series is as strong as this issue, I am intrigued enough to pick up a trade and read the whole series.

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So, let’s break down what you get with this mix bag of comics: You get three comics from Marvel. Considering they are all fairly recent releases, for five dollars (or now it seems ten) you get twelve dollars worth of comics (each book individually cost $3.99). That is a bargain from a technical standpoint. But you have to consider what you’re getting: A mystery pack of issues that aren’t fresh. Yeah, I got a nice surprise with the Shattered Empire issue but still, that issue is for a series that ended a year ago. These are overstock issues comic shops have in discount bins so they can make space.

I see these packs, again, only as market testers. Something chain stores use as a litmus test to see if selling comics is profitable for them. I also see them as underwhelming gifts a family member gets you because “you’re into comics and I saw this while checking out”. Instead, do yourself a favor and venture into a comic shop. Yeah, you’ll have to pay regular price like the rest of the nerds, but at least you get something you want to read. And you’ll also maybe find a whole new community to be apart of.

 

My Favorite Ladies of Science Fiction

Posted in list, Nerdism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10/12/2011 by Kevin Entrekin

Science Fiction films have always fascinated me since I was young. Back then, it was the out of the world visuals that held me glued to the screen. The music, the characters, everything drew me in. As I’ve grown older my love for this genre of films has only grown stronger. Like many things as you get older, the story and complexities of the films begin to reveal themselves to you. You realize that they are more than just a fantasy film and that they actually have relevance to many issues today. And it’s not only in film. You see the labor of love put into television, literature, and video games as well.

Another interesting thing about Sci-Fi films is how strong the actresses are in them. More so than most genres of film. And as you get older, sexy is defined by strength and intelligence. Okay, the outfits occasionally don’t hurt either. And I figured it was time that I paid tribute to my favorite ladies of Science Fiction. So without further ado…

1. Carrie Fisher (Known for: Star Wars: A New Hope, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)

Carrie Fisher was my first crush as a young Padawan and still today holds a very special place in my heart. She is my “permacrush” I have been informed. Not sure I’m crazy over this word but it could grow on me. Anyways, there is just so much to love about her as Princess Leia. From her very first encounter with Darth Vader, she exudes confidence and strength. She will grab a E-11 blaster and take care of business while Han and Luke are arguing. She can even kill you while wearing a skimpy gold bikini. See what I mean about a lot to love? The simple fact of the matter is that in the Sci-fi universe, she is a queen instead of a princess.

2. Sigourney Weaver (Known for:  The Alien series, Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Paul)

Warning: Spoiler alert for those who have not seen Alien.

In space no one can hear you scream. Nothing makes the tagline for the movie Alien more true than the scene at the end when Ripley thinks that the Alien that has been terrorizing her and her crew is dead. But when she is at her most vulnerable, the Alien crawls out of it’s hiding place. Keeping a calm head, Ripley slips on a spacesuit and then kicks the alien out of her ship into the great unknown. Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in the Alien films is enough to cement her place as a Sci-Fi goddess, but she doesn’t stop there. She starred as Dana Barrett in the Ghostbusters films as well. And even as she has gotten older, she continues to rock the screen today.

3. Lara Croft (Known for: Tomb Raider series of video games and films)

In video games, there are important game changers (no pun intended). Halo changed how we interact and play together. Call of Duty took the formula of war games and flipped in on it’s head. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial showed how to nearly bring down an entire franchise. And Lara Croft changed how women are perceived in the gamer community. She’s strong, smart, and always ready with a quick quip. She can plug a slug in the back of a T-Rex’s head with ease. Oh, and her explorer outfits did not hurt either. The truth is she came into a genre that at the time was exclusive to men and made her presence known. Not only known, but put most of the fellas to shame (and still does). I’ve always loved Ms. Croft, no matter if she consist of 300 polygons or portrayed by Angelina Jolie.

4. Milla Jovovich (Known for: The Fifth Element, The Resident Evil series of films, Ultraviolet)

Leeloo from The Fifth Element is probably one of my favorite Sci-fi film characters ever. Her innocence and ignorance to the everyday activity in 23rd century Los Angeles is why she is my favorite character actress Milla Jovovich has done. All of here characters are strong but all of them are self-aware of this (Best example is Alice from the Resident Evil films). Except for Leeloo. For most of the film you think she is delicate until she in the latter half of the film challenges a horde of Mangalores to a fight. Which I image Jovovich would also do in real life.

5. Carrie-Anne Moss (Known for: The Matrix Trilogy, Red Planet)

Carrie-Anne Moss is one of the most underutilized actresses working today. She’s so talented it annoys me sometimes that she is usually only remembered for her role of Trinity in The Matrix. Although to be remember for such a great role isn’t a bad thing. Her strength is something that exudes of the screen, and many times she is stronger than Keanu Reeve’s Neo. And few women could legitimately pull off a full leather outfit in a gunfight and she’s one of them. Equal parts muscle and sexy? Good combo.

6. Michelle Rodriguez (Known for: The Resident Evil series of films, Avatar, Battle: Los Angeles, and Lost)

If there was one lady on this that I would for sure not want to piss off, it would be Michelle Rodriguez. Just look at that photo to the right; I didn’t post it because of what she is wearing (or more appropriately what she isn’t wearing), I posted it because of that stomach. The fact is that Ms. Rodriguez is a hardcore woman and her presence in Sci-Fi films are just as hardcore. She’s not always a leading lady, but simply her presence as a supporter is enough to make your side tougher. Whether fighting zombies in Resident Evil or fighting time travel in Lost, you want M-Rod on your side.

7. Sean Young (Known for: Blade Runner, Dune)

Probably the least known member on this list of Sci-Fi royalty is the amazing Ms. Sean Young. But she is also the lead actress in one of the greatest Sci-Fi films of all time, Blade Runner. In a movie that stars Daryl Hannah and Harrison Ford, you have to be able to hold your own. Sean Young does this and more. She makes herself strong yet vulnerable as a conflicted experimental replicant. Plus, she’s one of the few women who has actually been able to pull off over-the-top 80’s fashion.

8. Anna Torv (Known for: Fringe)

If there is one show that has had the most surprising success, it would be Fringe. Much of this can be attributed to the core cast which includes John Noble, Joshua Jackson, and Ms. Anna Torv. Her portrayal of Olivia Dunham is one of strength and determination. She always stays focused on the task at hand. She is beautiful yet never really acts that way. She rarely shows emotion or lets her guard down but when she does it’s an amazing moment. If you have not watched this series before, start now.

There were many strong ladies left out of this group. I’m sure I’ll get a few emails or comments here and there saying “Where’s Scully?” and No Katee Sackhoff or Raquel Welch?” Well I have not seen much of X-Files or Battlestar Galactica, although I will admit that what I have seen of these shows I was impressed. And even though One Million Years B.C., I have just never had the opportunity to see it. This is my list and I want to hear yours. So leave it below if you have time.


The Unstoppable George Lucas

Posted in A Few Thoughts, Nerdism with tags , , , , , , , , on 30/08/2011 by Kevin Entrekin

Some films have since their beginning had a following. And no film has brought in fanboys and fangirls more than George Lucas’s beloved trilogy, Star Wars. Like many kids since its release, I watched wide-eyed as the rebels took down the Death Star in A new Hope. I was stunned to hear Darth Vader confidently say “No, I am your father” to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back. And my first crush came in the form of Carrie Fisher in a gold bikini in Return of the Jedi (just as a side note, she still is to this day a big crush for me).

In fact when the trilogy was released on VHS in 1995, I was told if I could behave myself in class for an entire week, my parents would in turn purchase the glorious box set for me. After a week of dedicated and exhausting good behavior, the prize was mine and I would go on to watch each film multiple times.

But as I have grown older, instead of exclusively loving the films, I have also had a growing worrying feeling. Why? Because of George Lucas, who has taken it upon himself to try to dismantle his masterpiece. He has made revisions to these films many times now and nearly all of them have not been for the better.

The newer versions of the films are nothing more than random and unnecessary things thrown into it. They don’t add anything to the story and only serve to disrupt the flow of the film. I, like many others, squirm instead of enjoy these new additions when watching the films. And I’m not even going to start on the prequels. That would be another article entirely.

Now on the eve of Star Wars being released in glorious Blu-Ray, I should be celebrating its release. Instead I am more angry than anything. Because instead of catering to the wants of his audience by offering both the original and altered versions of the films, Lucas’s ego is only dishing out the altered versions. The reason as to why? He says that it would cost too much money to restore the original versions.

But wait Georgie boy, aren’t you converting all six films to 3-D in order to re-re-release them in theaters? I only bring this up because, although I do not have the figures in front of me, I’m guessing that converting six films to post-production 3-D is more expensive than cleaning up the original films to Blu-ray quality. Plus, looking at the statistics for this summers 3-D films, I’m thinking that more people would appreciate it if you would drop the 3-D project all together. And you would be in the good graces once again with the group of people who once considered you a Nerd god. But I’m guessing George is just going to ignore this piece of advice. Why would he listen to the people who have made him who he is today?

So on September 16 when other people will be dropping large amounts of cash the beloved films, I wont be. I’ll be saving that money for when Lucas finally decides to clean up the originals. Until that time, it’s just me and my VHS tapes.

Comments? Opinions? Leave them below.