Inktober 2017: Week 2

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This year I am again participating in Inktober, where the goal is to do a drawing everyday for the month of October. So far I have been able to keep up with doing one drawing every day in real-time. Here are my drawings for the second week of the challenge.

DAY 8

joker.jpg

 

The theme for Day 8 was “crooked” and I can’t think of anyone more crooked than the Joker. I wanted to use red ink in the picture, for his lips. Then I decided the shot should be from Batman’s point of view and there could also be red blood as he beats the crap out of the Joker. I feel like this one turned out pretty much how I wanted it to.

DAY 9

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For Monday, I wanted to follow-up the Joker with Venom. I really just wanted a stark, black and white depiction here. No shades of gray with an inkwash. I wanted him to have a slicker look.
DAY 10

 

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“Gigantic” was the theme for Day 10. Therefore, I decided to draw giant actor, Rondo Hatton. While this is based on a photo of him, I tried to steer it in the direction of the characters he played. Specifically, his role in The Brute Man. For this I felt the inkwash was necessary to emulate the look of the black and white films he starred in.

DAY 11

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For the theme of “run” for Day 11 I thought I would do a version of the Flash. Originally, I envisioned multiple after images of Flash with him kneeling in the foreground. In my head, it was more of a “inspecting a crime scene” pose, but morphed into more of a “rap album cover” pose. While I don’t have a problem with that, I should have leaned into it more if that was what I was going to do.

I drew this late that night after I had recorded a podcast. What I had planned for this would take more time than I had that night and I think it shows. Maybe later I will revisit this one.

DAY 12

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After seeing multiple artists’ versions of Two-Face earlier in the month, I wanted to draw him too. I tried to picture how he could be posed and thought of him looking at his coin. I then realized that the side of the coin could be splitting his down the middle.

I drew the normal side of his face with markers that are easier to control, and the scarred side with brushes to get a looser look to it. For the shading on his fingers I used conte crayon which I thing works well with ink.

If you examine this drawing you will realize that Two-Face’s face could not be depicted this way literally as it would be stretched out. With the size of the coin in the front, I would have had to draw him with no nose, which would have looked weird. So, I chose to use some artistic license on this one and I’m pleased with how it came out.

 

DAY 13

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On Friday, I watched the movie Hand of Death starring John Agar. Paula Raymond was his costar in this and so I chose to draw her for this day. I haven’t seen her in anything before but thought I could draw her reasonably well. I also realized I hadn’t drawn any women yet for Inktober so I thought this would be a good opportunity to.

 

DAY 14

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To finish out the second week I drew Charlie Brown. With the news of the California wildfires wiping out Charles Schulz’s house and the museum being evacuated, the character has been on my mind lately. Also, I had picked up a Charlie Brown Funko Pop that day.

I did not strictly stick to Schulz’s model of Charlie Brown. I wanted to do my version of him and knew brushes would be the way to go. I reasoned it would be a good way to get the loose look of the characters that Schulz had.

That’s my drawings for the second week of Inktober 2017. Check back next time as I post a recap of what I did for the third week. Fingers crossed that I can keep up and not miss a day. Another reminder, if you want to see these drawings as I do them daily be sure to check out my Twitter account @detective651.

Thanks for reading.,

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We’ve Got Movie Sign!- Future War

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Welcome to the latest installment of We’ve Got Movie Sign! Continuing my reviews of my all time favorite t.v. show: Mystery Science Theater 3000! As before this one is very accessible (figuratively, and literally as it is currently available on Netflix).

SPOILERS

Future War -Episode 1004

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This movie is at the center of a very 90’s movie Venn diagram.

Era: Sci-Fi Channel

Host: Mike Nelson

Bots: Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo, Gypsy

Special Guest Villains: Pearl Forrester, Professor Bobo, Brain Guy

Summary: A Jean Claude Van Damme knockoff (or kickoff?), credited only as “Runaway”, travels to Earth from outer space from a presumably harsh existence as a slave. Once here, he is found by an ex-prostitute turned nun, Sister Ann. Along with a ragtag group of husky guys and gang members they fight off a couple of cyborgs and a pack of puppets dinosaurs who are intent on retrieving our “hero.” The local LAPD gets involved, in what probably wasn’t their craziest day back then. There also seems to be an underlying theme of “boxes”.

Host Highlights: Opening where the bots are trying to determine how many “times a lady” Gypsy is. Turns out Mike is 8x a lady. Pearl is conducting “secret” LSD tests that lead to Brain Guy burning his guitar Jimmy Hendrix style. Later, Mike and the bots thank Pearl for never killing them as she is launching a missile to do just that.

Best Riff: “Is this a halfway house for huge guys?” – Tom Servo.  Hilarious line that is also what the audience is wondering at this time in the movie.

Overall, the Sci-Fi Channel years are a good time for the jokes. By this, the tenth season, everyone involved knew what they were doing and the pace had really picked up. Not sure if the crew knew that this would be their last season, but here they are making the most of it.

Call Backs: “3 days away from retirement.” and “PACKERS!” Not necessarily callbacks to previous jokes, but ones that MSTies would surely recognize from previous episodes.

Memorable Movie Quotes: “Eeeh. Eeeh. EEEEEEHHH.” -Runaway’s attempts at communication.

“Yeah, I…knew a few pimps in my time.” – Sister Ann alluding to her sketchy past before she found the Lord.

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Boxfighter!

MST Musings: Oh, boy. For a good episode, this is a crap movie. It’s either really hard or too easy to explain what is going on in this movie. Again, the Sci-Fi episodes were usually pretty good just due to the experience they had by this point.

At one point, the creators of the show said that they ran into several late ’80’s and early ’90’s movies that had protracted opening credits sequences. Looking back, this was probably a cheap way for filmmakers to give their movies a more “important” feel and to pad out their runtimes. It is a recurring theme in movies subjected to MST3K and it seems like the writers were getting sick of it by this time. You wouldn’t know it from the quality of the jokes though, they are good throughout. “This is what happens when you deregulate credits.”

At one point in the story, Sister Ann enlists the help of some gang members she knows from her previous life. To explain to the gang bangers about the dinosaurs from outer space based threat they are facing, she tells them there are “Monsters in the Hood.” Now, I’m not a screenwriter, but surely there’s a rule about not invoking a better movie idea in your crappy movie. Monsters in the Hood sounds like a great movie that I now want to see. Maybe the Universal-type classic monsters facing off against a scrappy street gang on their home turf. We got two “Leprechaun in the Hood” movies, so don’t act like this can’t happen.

Future War reeks of the “straight-to-video” trend of the 1990’s. What was surprising though, was the apparent lack of a sequel. This movie was obviously made on a shoestring, so you would think if it made ANY money, they would have made another one. As far as I can tell there never was a Future War 2: Boxing Day, but honestly, I didn’t look too deep either.

Good Thing: Genre super-fan, Forrest J. Ackerman somehow has a cameo in this. Someone on the crew had to know him and he did them this favor. Ackerman coined the term “sci-fi” back in the day. It’s sad to think how he was on the Sci-Fi Channel just a few years before they suffered a brain injury and re-branded as Syfy.

Bad Thing: Robert Z’Dar’s not even Dollar Store, but more like Junk-store-out-on-Route 4-that’s-only-open-on-Thursdays-and-Saturdays knockoff Borg costume. Z’No is right.

Final Score:

Print

4 out of 5 Tom Servos

4 OUT OF 5 WE LIKE IT VERY MUCH

You’ve Got Movie Sign: If you are interested in viewing this episode Shout Factory released this as part of the MST3K 20th Anniversary dvd set back in 2008.

As I mentioned at the beginning, it is available on the new home of MST3K, Netflix, as of this writing.

It is available for purchase on vhx.tv. If you supported the MST Kickstarter and received digital rewards, you will be familiar with this site.

Amazon video also has this episode for purchase or to rent.

Stinger: His shirt fell off, honest.

Top 5 Steve Vance MST3K Covers

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Today I am discussing the work of artist Steve Vance. Specifically, Vance’s work on Shout Factory’s Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD cases. With the series of MST3K DVDs coming to an end with the next set, I thought it would be a good time to examine this aspect of MST3K.

Originally, I knew of Vance’s work from Bongo’s line of Simpsons comic books. I remember seeing his name credited all the time on those. When I saw he was doing these DVD covers, it was notable to see his own artistic style, not emulating the Simpsons look.

REVIVAL

Bonus: Poster/Shirt Vance did for the Kickstarter campaign.

Vance has done dozens of these covers since Shout has been releasing the series. Unfortunately, that also means that there are no covers by him for the previous Rhino releases, unless Shout has re-issued it with a new cover. The number of covers he has created means that there are many to consider for this. That’s why I have selected the 5 that I think are his best.

If you disagree with my selections below, or if I left out your favorite, relax, it’s just a TV show.

5. War of the Colossal Beast

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Here is a great cover where the tables are turned on Tom Servo and Crow. Here Tom is the menacing giant. not the small fry on the Satellite of Love. The majority of these covers place Tom and Crow in the roles of characters in the movies. I’ve always assumed this is to avoid likeness rights with the actors or other legal entanglements. Either way, it is a great solution and a nice way to tie in the cast of MST3K with the movie on the episode. Tom’s cracked dome is a great reference to the title characters’ facial deformities in this.

4. Gamera

GAMERA

Anyone who is a fan of MST3K knows that Gamera is a highlight of the show’s run. While this is a great episode, this is also a great cover. Continuing the theme of incorporating the bots into the movie, here they are re-purposed as the child protagonist and scientist from the story. Tom as a child is interesting, as original host, Joel, had a fatherly relationship with his creations. This feels like it just reinforces those themes here.

3. The Pumaman

PUMAMAN

Another key episode from the show’s original run, this time from the Sci-Fi Channel era. Pumaman is a fan favorite, and one that it took years to finally get a release on DVD. These factors surely play into why I like this cover. However, Servo as Donald Pleasence, and Crow T. Robot as the titular hero, The Pumaman are also BIG factors.

Seeing how Vance solved the problem of Crow wearing human clothes is notable. His frame wouldn’t necessarily lend itself to mimicking a human shape. The best example of this would be when Crow donned the identity of Turkey Volume Guessing Man in the Riding With Death episode.

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Obviously Vance chose another solution as seen above. While his TVGM costume is how clothing would fit onto Crow, Vance’s version is more relatable. It’s also possible that the Pumaman costume adapted to Crow’s body would look too awkward and the reference might be lost on viewers.

2. Laserblast

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Laserblast was the last episode to premier on Comedy Central’s initial run of the show, and at the time, thought to be the last episode ever. Of course, that is not the case as the show was later picked up by the then Sci-Fi Channel, and more recently, Netflix. It’s also a hilarious episode. As I surmised in my review of Sidehackers, I think that the team worked well under pressure and knew when they had to hit it out of the park.

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/weve-got-movie-sign-the-sidehackers/

I believe that’s what happened with Laserblast, as everyone thought it was the end.

Here Vance selects Crow for the film’s “hero”, Billy. Tom is one of the number of victims, presumably. What stands out from the other cases that put the robots into roles from the movie, is the lack of wardrobe. Tom is Tom as he appears on the show. Meanwhile, Crow looks like he just picked up the weapon from the movie and is attacking Tom while the turtle alien’s Gillette spaceship is on the way to stop him. This gives the cover a more whimsical, mischievous tone than many of the others.

1. Devil Doll

DEVIL DOLL

This is a good episode from the Sci-Fi Channel run, but not one of the best episodes ever. I’ve really liked this cover since it came out and it has sort of eluded me why. Steve Vance’s art is great here. The slick look to the bots in their suits is part of it. Recently though, I think I discovered what I like so much about this one.

The movie is about a ventriloquist and his evil dummy. Here Crow is presented as the ventriloquist with Tom on his knee in the part of the dummy. Tom Servo, a literal real world puppet, is playing a dummy. I think that the meta context of this creeped up on me and it took me awhile to realize it. Being honest, when I’m watching the show, I don’t think of the bots as “puppets”, just characters like the other actors. Don’t look at me like that, you do the same thing with the Muppets, and they are literally puppets with an “M”.

With Shout wrapping up the DVD box sets of the show, it is likely that we will not see too many more of these great pieces from Steve Vance. Presumably, when they release re-issues or new DVDs, Vance will be providing the cover art.

Here’s hoping that we see more of these fun designs from Vance in the not too distant future.

 

Inktober 2017: Week 1

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Once again, this year I am participating in Inktober, where the goal is to do a drawing everyday for the month of October. So far I have been able to keep up with doing one drawing every day in real-time. Here are this first week’s drawings.

DAY 1

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To start off, I decided to do a drawing of the Rebirth version of Batman. Originally, I had decided to do a depiction of this version for Batman Day. However, as I discussed here

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/batman-day-week-part-5-the-bat-drawing/

I changed my mind after Adam West passed earlier this year.  Instead I chose to draw this version for Inktober and get it out of my system.

I’m not thrilled with the way this turned out. It feels stiff and poorly planned out to me now. Looking ahead, the theme for the final day is “mask”, so I may revisit this on the last day of the challenge. Time will tell.

DAY 2

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This was a sketch I did last Monday night. I couldn’t really think of anything and just started drawing this. It evolved as I went and turned into this. I decided to call this character Hothead.

DAY 3

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For this one I wanted to do a more traditional Clayface drawing. I’ve always like the flowing, runny look of the character and tried to emulate this here. This also lead me to using an inkwash on this piece. I loved the results it gave me and am now using it on other drawings this month. Watered down ink is something I have used before, mostly influenced by Tim Sale’s work, but I didn’t think I would have time for it due to the speed of which I have to crank these out to meet the daily deadline.  The results I got with this convinced me that it is worth the extra time.

DAY 4

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The theme of this day was “Underwater.” I don’t feel the need to be tied down to the prompts, but I decided to go with this one to do an Aquaman piece. Here I went all in on the inkwash to try to give it a murkier feel. Also, while I have used white out in drawings before, I have never used it to this extent. I am really happy with the effect it gave me here and am continuing to use it.

DAY 5

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For this day, I elected to do a drawing of henchman superstar, Jaws. That day was also Global James Bond Day as it was the anniversary of the premier of Dr. No, the first James Bond movie in 1962. I considered doing several James Bond themed pieces, but finally decided to do Jaws. For most of the day, I assumed I would draw Oddjob, and worked out several compositions in my head. Later on though, I chose Jaws due to my love of Richard Kiel and his signature grill.

DAY 6

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“Sword” was the theme for this day, so I decided to do my favorite sword-wielding character, He-Man. Having him stare down a battlefield with Skeletor reflected in his power sword was an idea I had awhile back but struggled to get the composition right. I couldn’t think of a better time to do this one though, so I worked it out. Online, this is the one that has had the best response from people, so I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do.

DAY 7

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The final installment for the first week I drew a scene from the movie Duel. This is a movie I hadn’t seen before but had been interested in. Last Saturday night, Svengoolie on his show, broadcast this movie. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I tweet during the show and am a big fan. I had thought to do a drawing centered around the Svengoolie show that day. Since they showed a movie I had been wanting to see, I picked this as the subject of that day’s piece.

Well, that’s it for the first week of Inktober 2017. Check back later as I post other drawings I do for the month. Fingers crossed that I can keep up and not miss a day. You can also check out my drawings as I post them daily on my Twitter @detective651.

Thanks for reading.

The Best Kelley Jones Batman Covers #6

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Today I am continuing to look at the best Batman covers of artist Kelley Jones. Jones started as a cover artist on Detective Comics and then Batman and eventually to the interior artist of Batman. These books along with some other various side projects constitute one of the most dramatic looks for the Dark Knight ever.

 

If you haven’t been reading the countdown, here are the previous entries to get you up to speed.

Number 10

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-10/

Number 9

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-9/

Number 8

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-8/

Number 7

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-7/

And that brings us up to number 6.

6. Batman #516

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While this might not be Jones’ most recognizable cover, like the previous entry, this one just about sums up his take on Batman. If there was cover that represented Jones’ thesis of the character, this would be it.

Batman, draped in shadow and a long, flowing cape, perched atop a mound of skulls, holding both a candle and magnifying glass. Of all the Batman artists over the decades, Kelley Jones is the most qualified to bring this scene to life.

Like most of Jones’ depictions of Batman, his signature cape is present here as well. The folds that form around and hang off of the figure must have been a joy to create. It’s hard to imagine Jones doing it if he viewed it as a chore. One of the standout aspects of this particular cape is the almost spine like ridges along the back made by the descending ripples.

While we’re on the topic of the figure of Batman, those ears have got to be a 10 on the Jones-Batman ear scale.

His signature woodcut style skulls always stood out to me over the course of his run. So to see so many of them here, really marks this as his work. Keep in mind that no two of them are identical here. This is not an artist on auto pilot redrawing the same skull over and over again. Attention has been given to each one to make them unique.

In Batman’s hands are a magnifying glass and candle. While these items may seem out-of-place in a modern story, they are right at home in Jones’ version of the Dark Knight. Typically, Jones would have the detective using outdated or archaic looking equipment. Most of the time, if Batman was using a gadget, it would look more at home in James Whale’s Frankenstein than CSI.

The candle is a more standard trope for horror stories and works within the style of Jones. Emanating from the smoke is a face that has several small skulls coming off of it. This applies to the villain in the story that is using a gas to make her victims hallucinate. Jones has found an interesting way to tie that into his illustration here.

Many of Jones’ Batman covers served more as pin-ups than actually forecasting what was in the interior. This was especially the case before he took over the interiors. Batman #516 is a unique case with this as it could stand alone almost as a poster, but it does relate to the tale within.

I’m not the only one that thinks that this is an important piece of Jones’ Batman work. Apparently so did DC Comics and Graphitti Designs as this is also the cover to the Batman: Kelley Jones Gallery Edition collection.

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Unlike the Batman 516 version though, this is the original art as it was drawn by Jones. You can see the brush strokes on the art and some of the shading done by the ink shows up clearer here than the comic cover. Close up, it is also visible where white-out or a similar medium was used to create effects on the art.

Ranking these covers has been more challenging than I thought it would. It has also been fluid during the course of these articles. While this is a great Kelley Jones cover, I am confident of its rank here. It is a great piece that sums up his take on Batman, but I feel it is number 6 in part, because of that. It doesn’t have the energy of some of his other covers. (More of those to come.) Batman #516 is absolutely a solid piece and can be identified as a highlight of a great run on the book.

Now that we’re halfway through the list, be sure to come back for the fifth greatest Kelley Jones Batman cover!

First Up – Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #1

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This article, First Up, will hopefully be a first in a series of articles about inaugural issues of comic book series that actually accomplished something. In the day of the trade paperback collection, so many stories are created for the six-issue arc and we end up with stories that are decompressed to accommodate this.

Inevitably, you end up with first issues that don’t really tell you anything or do much towards setting up a new series. Those issues have no place here. The comics featured here will grab you by the throat and make you want to come back. While they may not always be a complete story, they will make you want to read the rest.

First up, is a book that did that for me.

SPOILERS

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic #1

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Released in 2006 by Dark Horse, to support the massively successful (and my favorite) video game, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Written by John Jackson Miller with art by Brian Ching, this issue tells the tale of Jedi padawan Zayne Carrick.

ZAYNE

Zayne’s “class” is about to participate in a ceremony in which they will find out which of them will go to Coruscant to become Jedi Knights. Before this though, Zayne is determined to capture local criminal, Gryph.

GOTCHA

Over the course of the issue, we see Zayne’s efforts to catch Gryph and his inability to do so. Usually due to his own slip ups. This is a very entertaining story about a Jedi who is a novice and is trying very hard despite himself. Unlike typical Star Wars stories where Jedi are portrayed as superheroes in complete control of their environment, this is a refreshing take. At one point, Zayne literally falls into the pre-ceremony banquet he is supposed to be attending and is confronted by his Jedi masters.

JEDI

When Zayne is out of earshot, some of the Jedi masters discuss concerns that they have and how it will be a sad day for them.

After Zayne pays for the damages he caused to the venue, he is back out on the streets. The streets of Taris by the way. This is the first planet in the Knights of the Old Republic game. In the game, the planet is destroyed by Darth Malak, so it is nice to be seeing more of the world here and adds a foreboding tone over the story in general.  Zayne sees Gryph and chases him down once again. This time though, Carrick catches him with the Force and levitates him back to his speeder.

Triumphant, but late, he leaves Gryph secured to his speeder and rushes into the Jedi ceremony. Zayne opens the door to one of the greatest twists ever in a Star Wars story.

To reiterate:

SPOILERS

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What greets Zayne are the Jedi that trained him standing over the bodies of his fellow padawans.

The issue ends with Zayne running away from the Jedi to adventures that made up this great series.

Star Wars has had some great story twists in its history. From “I am your father” to the revelation that comes in the original Knights of the Old Republic video game, and this one stands up there with them. Never before, could we have imagined a group of Jedi, not Sith, slaying their apprentices.

The reasons for this became clear over the course of the series and Zayne continued to stay one step ahead of them. Of course, Zayne confronted them and made a motley crew of friends along the way. This issue would not be the last for Gryph if you were wondering.

Issue number one of this book gives you a great hook that really grabs you. I was a fan of the game so I was going to pick up this book anyway, but this first one made me have to come back for the second. Eventually, I would read the entire series as it came out and became one of the best Star Wars comics series ever. That nay not sound like a resounding endorsement, but go Google Star Wars comics, there have been a lot.

If you want to check out this book, the collection appears to be out of print, especially now since Marvel has the Star Wars license. It is on Comixology digitally and Marvel’s Unlimited service. Always check your local comic shop too if you’re looking for back issues.

Check back for future installments where we will look at other great first issues.

Justice League Heroes Trailer

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The new Justice League trailer premiered yesterday at the New York Comic Con. If you haven’t seen it, here it is:

The trailer starts off with some quick shots of the heroes and cuts to the logo.

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We then see Lois Lane apparently having a dream about Superman returning to her.

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For some reason, these movies seem to love their dream sequences. It seems as if the decades-long tradition of Imaginary Stories and Elseworlds from the comics has seeped into their movie universe. While I like those stories in the comics, if you have to rely on that to have something cool in your movie, maybe rethink the movie you are making. There is also talk of dreams in the trailer, so it’s possible that someone’s dreams are premonitions of events to come. If that’s the case, why did we have to wait so long for that to be used as a storytelling device? If it is at all.

Next there is a voice over of reporters implying that hope is lost with the death of Superman.

Again, how is the man who tore up a city and snapped General Zod’s neck a symbol of hope in this world? In the comics, sure. Here it makes no sense. I am really tired of them trying to shoe horn this into their story.  They clearly wanted it both ways. A dark gritty superhero, but someone who could be an inspiration when he was gone.

Even his defeat of Doomsday, when he sacrificed himself doesn’t help with this. Doomsday was a Kryptonian threat that wouldn’t have endangered Metropolis if Superman hadn’t been around. Most people would hold him responsible for what happened.

It does look like there will be some great action scenes in this. What I am guessing are invading forces from Apokolips facing off against the Amazons.

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With the success of Wonder Woman, it makes sense to play up her role in this. Plus, it gives the good guys an army that could play into a large-scale battle.

Another interesting thing that’s new in this trailer is this shot of Parademons apparently emerging from a cooling tower at a nuclear power plant.

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My inference from this would be that they are trying to instigate a meltdown in the hopes of creating a firepit on Earth, like those on Apokolips. This has been a recurring goal with them in the comics.

“Bro Aquaman” is here as well. While there seems to have been mixed reactions to this online, I am totally fine with it. Growing up through the “grim and gritty” era of comic books, I have had my fill of reluctant heroes. To see one that enjoys what he is doing is a relief. Especially given the previous trailers’ darker tone. Not everyone needs to be moody.

Speaking of tone, this seems to be the first trailer where we are getting Joss Whedon’s input in the movie. It does seem a little lighter than the other trailers. Also, the heroes seem to be having a better time and are now allowed to smile.

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Does Aquaman have his armor tattooed on him?

Batman seems to be the only hero who doesn’t get to smile. Perhaps they are instituting the old edict from the Batman comics where he never smiles. The flipside to that was, whenever this dark avenger of the night did crack a smile, you knew it was on. It was always super effective (or bat-effective).

The disappointing part of this is that these shots appear like they may have been reshoots that were dropped into the movie. Hopefully, they are more fluid in the movie than they appear to be here. Notably, this trailer end with Flash making a joke about the Batsignal that genuinely made me laugh. Something that I was not expecting.

Surprisingly, aside from Lois’ dream there is no other shots of Superman in this. By now, it’s sort of a given that he will be returning in this. Rumors of what part he is playing in the story seem to indicate he will be resurrected and fight the League, but nothing has been confirmed. A tease of the “S” logo or something similar at the end would have been expected. Maybe they will keep a lid on this until the premier, but more than likely this seems like something that will get spoiled at the last minute by a Lego set or the like.

Whatever behind the scenes issues may be happening, fingers crossed that we still get a good movie. At the end of the day, I have been a Justice League fan for most of my life and I want something good. I will definitely be “All In” for a great Justice League movie.

 

 

P.S. let’s hope Cyborg gets at least one good “Booyah” in this. Maybe like how Hugh Jackman kept trying to sneak in “Bub” into the first X-Men movie.

 

Batman in Noir Alley

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Last week, DC Comics released a comic in coordination with the TCM channel, Batman in Noir Alley.

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This giveaway was produced to promote the channel’s Noir Alley program. What intrigued me the most about this was what was on the back cover.

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I can’t think of another instance where the back cover of a comic book was what I was most interested in, but there it was. Towards the bottom you will see the name “Eddie Mueller.” I don’t have TCM so I wasn’t familiar with the program, even though I appreciate noir films, but Mueller’s involvement got my attention.

Mueller wrote two of my favorite books, The Distance and Shadow Boxer.

These noir inspired novels detail the tribulations of reporter Billy Nichols. I LOVE both of these titles and as far as I can tell, they are the only works of fiction Mueller has done. Why this is I don’t know. I would gladly read a series of books by him.

This is what I was so excited for with this comic. Was Mueller writing a Batman story? One of my favorite writers and my favorite character? I thought I had seen the creative team mentioned for this book previously, but couldn’t remember for certain. Surely, Mueller’s name would have been a red flag that I wouldn’t have forgotten.

I quickly turned to the inside cover to the credits and was disappointed. While I don’t have anything against Stuart Moore, I would have been thrilled for a Mueller-penned, noir Batman tale. Of course, it’s not like I threw the book away or anything, I then proceeded to read it.

A few pages in, my previous hopes were paid off, but in a way that I hadn’t expected. This wasn’t a story of Batman written by Eddie Mueller. This is a story of Batman with Eddie Mueller.

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You’d think Batman would be more suspicious of someone obsessed with crime.

After an incident at a movie theater following the theft of the “Moroccan Raptor” statue, Batman spies a shadowy figure and follows him back to his hideout. Once there, it is revealed that this man is Mueller. Interestingly, his lair looks a lot like the set he hosts Noir Alley from.

Their story continues as Batman and Eddie scour the streets in search of the purloined artifact. Eventually, the trail leads them to a troubled young woman who has the statue. Of course that’s where they end up, because this is a noir tale.

This part of the book ends with Batman saying goodbye to Mueller and they both agree that might run into each other again some time.

PATHS

The second part of this issue is a reprint of the 2001 Batman: Gotham Noir book by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. While this is very appropriate tone wise for this promo book, I’m not sure how relevant it is. If someone liked the preceding section, they are sure to enjoy this too, but I’m not sure if this book is even still in print. It’s probably available digitally (it is), but it feels more like they needed something to pad out the rest of this book.

Overall, this was a fun one-off Batman book co-starring a writer I like. Since I don’t have TCM, I won’t be watching the Noir Alley show this is supporting. Mueller’s involvement means that I would though. Hopefully, this introduction leads to Eddie Mueller scripting some future mysteries for the world’s greatest detective. I can dream anyway, can’t I?

DREAMS

 

MST3K PSA: Where to Watch

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MSTV.jpgFollowing Tuesday’s article We’ve Got Movie Sign!, where I discussed an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, I thought this would be a good time for this post.

Recently, I’ve found online that a lot of people, while they might be fans of MST3K, they might not know where to go to watch their beloved show. Here I will detail all of the outlets I know of for MSTies to get their fix of our favorite cowtown puppet show. Of course, if you know anywhere the show is available that I don’t list below, please comment or let me know on Twitter @detective651.

DVDs

If you’re like me, you still appreciate physical media. Well, MST3K has been available on DVD and VHS tapes before that, since the last century. While Rhino started releasing DVD sets back in the day, Shout Factory has been producing them for a while now. Shout Factory’s upcoming release of volume 39(!) has been reported as being the final regular set. My thoughts on that news are available for you to peruse here:

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/08/03/mst3k-the-last-dance/

Over the years I have purchased the DVDs from various outlets, but recently I primarily get them from Amazon.com or directly from Shout Factory. Typically, Amazon has the more affordable price. For the last couple years, Shout has started to release the DVD sets with an exclusive extra disc when you pre-order or purchase the sets from them. This has offset the extra cost for me in exchange for these exclusives.

Netflix

Now, Netflix is currently the new home of MST3K. With season 11 premiering on the streaming service, they will be the source for new episodes for the foreseeable future. While they have the new shows they also have a selection of classic ones too. Fingers crossed that the new season has performed well enough that they will fund new seasons to come. I know in my heart that I would support another round of Kickstarter, but I would prefer not to.

Hulu

This alternative streaming provider also has classic episodes. There does seem to be some crossover with the ones available on Netflix, but Hulu definitely has some that they don’t.

Shout Factory

The manufacturers of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD sets also have their own streaming site at http://www.shoutfactorytv.com/series/mystery-science-theater-3000  At first glance, there is clearly a lot of the same episodes that are on Netflix and Hulu. Guess what though, unlike those services, Shout’s is free. So you can enjoy their assortment of experiments without a recurring monthly fee. There are also collections of other TV shows and movies on their site.

Vudu

Episodes are also available on this platform. While they have several episodes for sale here, you also have the option of renting them if you don’t want to buy.

Amazon Video

Another service that lets you rent or buy single episodes. As of this time, I can’t seem to find any that are watchable with their Amazon Prime subscription. So you’re dropping a few dollars with Amazon to enjoy movie-riffing antics here.

YouTube

Online video juggernaut YouTube, has hosted episodes for years now. While there has been varying degrees of legitimacy of the shows, at one time you could find just about every episode produced. As is the nature of YouTube, the single episodes availability fluctuate and so there is no guarantee of what you are looking for to be there.

Now, there is an official MST3K channel on the service where you can find many episodes with annotations included, and an assortment of other related videos.

Pluto TV

This alternative to YouTube hosts an all MST3K channel. Unlike their competition though, you can’t choose which one you want to watch when. Instead, it plays like a continuous 24 hour channel, with one show right after the last. You can just keep it on and watch all day and it gives you a more traditional television viewing experience. Their app also has a Shout Factory channel that I have seen show episodes also.

Comet TV

To give yourself an even more television like experience, you can simply watch it on TV. On Sunday nights, Comet TV shows 2 back-to-back episodes. After the original shows cancellation, I never thought I would be able to watch MST3K on broadcast television again. This is a fun time and now with the advent of social media, you can riff the movies yourself and others. Occasionally, I will participate on Twitter, but there always at least a few people giving it to the bad movies.

The best part of Comet TV’s system is that even thought they broadcast their channel, they also stream it through their website. This is actually how I watch since I don’t get their channel. I cast it from my computer to my TV.

The only thing I’ve noticed with this is that their stream doesn’t have the regular commercials that the channel has. Now, I know what you’re thinking “who cares, the less commercials, the better.” That would be true, but that leads to the repetition of the same programming promos and station logos that NEVER END. Commercial breaks are getting ever longer, and seeing the same things over and over again, make them seem even worse. At least it’s better than the “We’ll be right back” DVD loading screen-like image they used to use.

MST3K.COM

While this should be obvious, the newly revamped official website, MST3K.com also has a variety of episodes. In the past, that has not always been the case. At the most, they typically had clips of host segments (and questionable flash cartoons). There has recently been an initiative to make this site the hub of MST3K fandom, so episodes have come into the picture.

These are all the outlets I know of that you can enjoy humans and robots making fun of bad movies (or that I can remember right now). However, I know if you are a hardcore MSTie, there is probably another avenue that you have been thinking of the entire time you have been reading this. I am referring to the tape trading community.

I have decided to omit the tape circulators because so much of it has changed over the years. The big difference is that now so many episodes are available through much more easily accessible means these days. While I am not trying to diminish the importance of tape trading within the world of MST3K, their importance is not what it used to be. The fact that it is called tape trading should be a red flag for that.

While the community has evolved and DVDs are part of the equation, there are so many websites out there, with so many inactive ones included, it would be difficult to know where to start anymore. Possibly, I may do an article just dedicated to the tape trading world in the future.

As I stated at the beginning, if you know somewhere else you can catch MST3000 and are yelling at me through your screen right now, leave a comment and let me know. I’m always looking to spread the good word so the more the merrier. After I post this, I’m sure to remember another platform I’ve forgotten.

If you want to check out my review of The Sidehackers episode of MST3K it is here:

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/weve-got-movie-sign-the-sidehackers/

Be sure to check back for future episodes reviews.

The Best Kelley Jones Batman Covers #7

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Today I am continuing my look at the best Batman covers of artist Kelley Jones. Jones started as a cover artist on Detective Comics and then Batman and eventually to the interior artist of Batman. These books along with some other various side projects constitute one of the most dramatic looks for the Dark Knight ever.

It’s been a few weeks since I posted one of these, so if you want to get caught up here are the previous entries.

Number 10

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/07/26/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-10/

Number 9

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-9/

Number 8

https://detective651.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/the-best-kelley-jones-batman-covers-8/

And that brings us to today’s entry.

7. Batman#497

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This is probably Jones’ most recognizable cover from his Batman run due to the events within. If you haven’t guessed from the cover, this is part of the Knightfall storyline where Batman gets his back broken by Bane.

Here Jones portrays Bane with a truly monstrous physique. While this wouldn’t be the biggest that he would depict Bane, it is the first instance where he shows him being this much larger than the Batman. The enormous size of Bane evokes the threat he is and the danger he brings to the story. With the buildup of Batman’s physical prowess over decades, the villain needed to be built up to show how he could dominate the protagonist so fully.

The attack here is also well-defined. Bane has crushed Batman to the point where his leg and Batman’s back are apparently melding together. A lack of delineation with the coloring adds to this. You can feel the force of the strike as Batman’s body conforms around Bane’s knee. On Batman’s face his anguish is clearly visible along with his twisting hands. The pain of the act is palpable.

Behind them the Batcave is visible. While showing the location of the battle, it also shows a violation in that Batman’s sanctum has been breached, adding to his defeat. The stalactites and stalagmites form a jagged, jack-o-lantern maw implying a vicious mouth since Bane’s is hidden by his mask.

I have chosen to show the cover above as depicted, but more than likely you have seen this version of the original cover.

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DC released the book with this paper flap obscuring half of the front cover. There was also an issue of Justice League America with a similar add-on released around the time of the Death of Superman storyline. Presumably, this was done in an effort to make the book more attention grabbing on an overcrowded shelf. Surely, this was one of the most economical cover gimmicks of the ’90’s. However, when I look at it, all I see is that it’s blocking half of a great Kelly Jones cover.

In recent years, this cover has been re-used for the first volume of the Knightfall collection.

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With this cover’s lack of trade dress that the original was heavy on, more of Jones’ work is visible with this version. However, the re-coloring of this edition feels colder and makes the piece seem flatter, especially the background. Side-by-side, I prefer the original version. They were smart enough to not include a black flap over half of the cover this time though.

Be sure to check back next time for the number 6 greatest Kelley Jones Batman cover.