Don't forget to check out the classic Fred The Clown strips at the bottom of the page. Updated every Tuesday to Friday.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Enter Coachmatt!

Work has been eating me alive so I apologize once again for the lengthy amount of time it took to make another update. Thank goodness for friends and so now this site will get to have new contents again. We may not have the exact same taste for stuff but his choices are ones that I highly respect and we do kind of influence each other with our recommendations.

Okay I need to cut this short now and let him take over, Newsarama regulars know him as the poster Coachmatt and here's his first attempt at a review of The Thing series a few years back by Marvel.

The Thing

by Matthew Cradic or as you may know me, the poster formerly know as coachmatt05

It was the second Sunday in February back in 2006. I had been sitting in the car with my brother for half an hour, despite the snowfall accumulating on the ground, waiting to be the first one in the shop. My LCS was having its annual 75% off sale right before they took inventory. The less stuff in the store, the less stuff they'd have to pay taxes on. As usual, I came prepared to blow a large sum of money on comics. Seriously, at that kind of a discount you'd be a fool to not take advantage. The doors open and I attack the trade paperback racks like a man possessed. I claimed three volumes of Thor Visionaries: Walt Simonson for $5 a piece within the first two minutes. After that I moved to finish off my collection of Sandman trades. Little did I know that on that day I'd find a book that would become very important to me.

As I jetted around the shop I started to amass an ungodly stack of books. My brother happened across something that he decided he wanted. It was The Thing issue 1. I turned my nose up at it suspecting it to be one of the many subpar miniseries that Marvel puts out around the time a movie comes out. I questioned him on it, tried to get him to find something else, but that was what he wanted. After thinking about it again, I was glad that he was interested in a book that didn't have Wolverine in it. On the rack happened to be the second and third issues of this book. They were newer releases, but I was able to talk the owner into letting us have them at the same discount as all the back issues and trades. There was another book called Jonah Hex there that my brother wanted at the time. I simply laughed and told him that it was a western comic put out by DC. I mean, it couldn't have been good, right? You guys will hear lots more about ol' Jonah later. Anyways, looking back, I find it ironic that the cheapest books I bought turned out to be some of my all time favorites.

After leaving the comic shop I sped home with a back seat full of trades, back issues, and ginger ale. It took my brother and myself all of five minutes to unload all the items from our shopping spree and set them on the shelves in my room. I read some of this, skimmed some of that. Not really focusing on any one thing. I believe that I had just finished reading some horrific Spidey issue from the Other when my brother came into my room and told me that The Thing was actually pretty good and that I should give it a try. In an attempt to get the bitter taste of bad Spidey out of my mouth, I open up a fresh two liter of ginger ale and begin to read The Thing issue 1. I was hooked by the tenth page. Dan Slott was a genius! He captured everything that I had always loved about The Thing: the dialogue, the tough guy image, the heart of gold that Ben has. In a time that Marvel was starting to shift their focus, The Thing was the last shining jewel at the House of Ideas. In this work, Dan was able to capture more of what Marvel is about than any book I have read since.

For me, reading this work was a breath of fresh air from the cross over events that tend to leave the reader exhausted and burned out. The first arc was a three issue story about Ben and a party of celebrities getting kidnapped and taken to Murder Island by Arcade, who happened to be employed by a character parodying Paris Hilton. We have Constrictor, Iron Man, Nighthawk, and the Thing on this giant island filled with deadly traps trying to help the clumsy upper class escape with their lives. We get humor at a regular pace, but it never seemed to over power the title. We'd get a good fight every so often, look at the Hulk robots for example. Puny Bannerbot bites Ben's ankles while been swings and destroys a robotic copy of just about every form the Hulk has ever taken. Good, light hearted fun. Not only that, but we get to see the human side of Ben when he realizes that his actress girlfriend was dating him for his money, not for love. Obviously the reader could tell this from the halfway point of the story, but the way that Slott wrote Ben handling won my heart over.

Issue 4 introduced Lockjaw to the cast when he left the Inhumans to come be with Ben. I guess Lockjaw knew that Blackbolt was a Skrull well before Bendis decided to make him one. See that Bendis? Dan Slott was one step ahead of you the whole time you evil, maniacal fiend! Where was I? OH!

Unfortunately The Thing came out amidst big cross over events from both companies and saw the end of its run with issue 8. In it Dan gave us a fitting send off by having Ben's Bar Mitzvah, and a poker game. I won't tell who won, but I absolutely loved it, just as you should if you have a heart. Speaking of heart, that was one thing that you can feel while reading it; Dan poured his heart into it. Without a doubt, I would have to say this is my favorite series Marvel has put out this decade. We had beautiful art by Andrea Di Vito for the first 5 issues, and then Kieron Dwyer for the last 3. Andrea's was the best by far, but Kieron was able to come in and do a great job as well in keeping with the tone.

At a time that I find myself absolutely despising Marvel, I can always pick this up and read it and remember how the company used to be. If you can find a copy of the trade, The Thing: Idol of Millions, I would highly suggest it. Its out of print, but with Amazon and ebay, you can pick it up on the cheap.

I know that this is kind of an unorthodox review, but in case you didn't know I'm kind of an unorthodox guy. I sat down and tried to write this several different ways, but this seemed to have the best flow for me. Granted, its very much flawed, but as I go on and continue doing reviews for my friend's blog, my writing will improve. This has taken me a forever to get one up that I wasn't totally disgusted with, so I hope that you at least found some entertainment value from having read this.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Doom 2099 2nd arc (issues 5 – 10)

Written by: John Francis Moore
Pencils by: Pat Broderick
Inks by: Various

The load of doing an introductory story already done in the first arc and with most things established already, this particular story arc is admittedly better, more exciting and kudos to series writer John Francis Moore, even more interesting and quite gripping in my humble opinion. In here we are introduced to a few more future recurring and somewhat can be described as supporting characters, all the while even developing more the previous ones. It was handled in a way though with such an organic manner, further establishing and fleshing out more the world of Doom 2099. This time showing more of its cyberspace world and a somewhat formidable villain destined to fall to showcase Doom’s skills, character and cunningness. A slight twist of fate and serendipity added to provoke a sense of adventure and make our protagonist not too seemingly invincible. Doom may be honorable and driven (or at least he is convinced of himself) of good intention, but he is not a good guy and pretty much selfish and full of himself. Those said descriptions is really what makes this series interesting, whenever I had been lulled into being comfortably reading this as just another superhero comic, he makes such annoyingly selfish actions/decisions that grounds you from totally admiring him. This is no sci-fi version of The Godfather as there are no full blown romanticizing of his exploits. Admittedly, stories of men in power are really quite alluring or at least men radical enough to force their own way into society and show how far it could work (a thought that brings to light how thin a line can be between being a hero and a villain is sometimes).

Personally I found this story quite sexy, with a big thanks to a certain computer program gone sentient turning into a somewhat demigoddess of this reality’s cyberspace. I’d tell you more but I honestly don’t want to spoil anything as one of the big assets of this arc is being captivated while stuff are introduced and seeing them unfold and run. All I can say is that by the end of this story, Doom has grown more powerful through smart and devious dealings giving him even more awesome amount of resources, in the “real world” that is. He has tasted godhood in cyberspace and obviously he will go back there sometime in the near future to even at least try and reclaim what he has once tasted and had. You know he has too as it is typical of him and is his very nature.

This story is near perfect (though not groundbreaking nor profound) in its execution. It is a great genre entertainment that only had trouble in the flow of continuity thanks to the fill in issue by legendary cartoonist Ernie Colon in issue 9. I don’t know if they were having scheduling problems at the time or that they just really wanted to have him work on an issue, but it was obvious that even though Ernie had knowledge of where the plot is going and did competently set a bridge to fill the gap between the issues he has slipped in, the issue after him has not been done and so he has no idea how to perfectly fit it. Same with regular writer J. F. Moore, he probably had an idea on where Ernie Colon was ending his story and what took place in it but he has not seen how it was executed and the details that were presented, it really made for a clunky transition to the audience. I honestly don’t think it is that aggravating unless one is totally anal retentive of course. It’s just that I found it a pity to have such a blemish in such a decent story that was flowing so smoothly for quite a while since its beginning. I can only hazard that it probably wasn’t that big of a deal at the time as this was done in the early ‘90s, way before trades of story arcs were even a consideration, at least for most regular series. I would assume then that the transition would have not been so jarring with a month wait in-between each issue.

With all that said I will have to give credit to the writer for being able to produce a very entertaining story despite its limitations and a great flowing story blemished only by circumstances and the standard practice of its time. The work still holds up pretty well, again in my opinion and found it honestly inspired, especially in comparison to most of the stuff put out by its publisher at the time noting more importantly all the flagship properties. Again I say, this series needs to be released in trades in today’s market so that new set of audience can enjoy for what is in my eye a delightful and intriguing work unpretentious of what it really is.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Honey Flash!

Not really much of an update here. I will just share this Japanese music video I found fansubbed by Sailor Spork. It's the music video by Koda Kumi for the soundtrack of the Cutie Honey Live Action Movie. I've always maintained that the Cutie Honey OP song is one of the most catchiest tunes ever and this modernization cover is no exception. You wont believe how many months I was humming this song over and over.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Good Girl Art!

It's been a while since I attempted doing one again. Since I've been slacking in updating this place, I guess I could share simultaneously here alongside with Deviant Art anyways. Yes you can find the same artworks here and there somewhat. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Deviant Art!

It would seem I had slacked off in posting new entries in this blog. I love this blog and this has not been the first time where I kind of neglected this place so I wont make excuses. One of the reasons for the sporadic entries here besides work is I'm currently spending more time in my Deviant Art page which I just started by the way.

Make no mistake though, there are still tons of stuff I'd like to put here and I already have a checklist for them. In the meantime though head over to my Deviant Art page to see more stuff like the one below. More updates to come to this blog soon.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Excited for Kiva!

This new year, basing it from all the promo materials I've seen so far to rumors floating around about the new Kamen Rider series, I'm really excited and have my hopes up for Kamen Rider Kiva. Much appreciation to TV Nihon for providing us subtitles for this promo video. Check the clip and see if it looks promising to you as it does to me.

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