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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Three Great Horror/Sci Fi Anthologies.

Twilight Zone, Outer Limits and Thriller.

Lets start off with probably the most well known one first, The Twilight Zone. Of course, everyone knows Twilight Zone. Rod Serling’s, classic series, with more classic episodes than anyone could count. The series is still on television today and there is a yearly marathon on the SyFy channel. The series originally ran from 1959 through 1964. The praise over the years for this show has been abundant and deserving. Twilight Zone is probably the best series of this type. It was extremely well written, so much so that even the bad episodes were up to the standards for the day. However, the good episodes transcended the medium. The narrative is one of the best, Rod Serling, became just as much of the show as the stories themselves. The show is not only great entertainment but is now entrenched in our popular culture. I mean we all have at least one friend who does an impressive Serling imitation. There is just so many great episodes and so many stars who appeared on this show it is too numerous to go over. It is great television maybe the greatest television.

Another classic anthology series is The Outer limits, which ran from 1963 to 1965. The Outer limits is more of a Sci fi series than any of the others. The series was produced by Leslie Stevens and Joseph Stefano. Joseph Stefano had written the screenplay for Psycho. The series was more of a kind of a Monster of the week show, that used science fiction as a way to tell tales of the human condition. Much like Star Trek would a couple years later. The episodes of this show ranged from pretty awful at times to down right amazing. This show includes some of the best television ever. Episodes like The Architects of Fear, The sixth finger, and many others. The series also include two episodes written by Harlan Ellison, The Soldier, and the most amazing episode of all, Demon with the Glass Hand. This series also include some well know actors including Martin Landau, Robert Duvall, Dabney Colman and many more. However the greatest character in the series is “The Control Voice” , Vic Perrin. This show took a note from the Twilight Zone, with its own narrative opening which was one of the best on television. I watched this series as a young boy in reruns, and was truly frightened by what I saw.

Lastly one of my favorites Thriller also known as Boris Karloff’s Thriller, which originally aired from 1960 to 1962. This series is very unique , for its type. Starting off as a suspense show but soon turned to out and out horror. Although airing on television, it has some of the creepiest images I have ever seen. Like Outer Limits I watched this show when I was young, but not only was I frightened I had nightmares. Many years later I still had vague memories of this show. This one was not so easy to find in reruns it seems that after the 70s it was non-existence. Recently the show has been released on Dvd giving me an opportunity to refresh my memory. …and wow, this is really great stuff. Stephen King in his book, Danse Macabre called it “probably the best horror series ever put on television. There are really great episodes here, The Cheaters, The Hungry Glass, The Purple Room, Pigeons from Hell and the truly creepy The Incredible Doktor Markesan. Like the other two series, this show has a beginning narration. The narrator is the great Boris Karloff, and he is great, in most episodes he does only the narration but in a few he has staring roles and although in his 70s during the run, he is really creepy and amazing.

Okay, now why write about these old black and white shows, because they are black and white, because they are old, and because they are really damn good. In todays, mass media, streaming internet, 3D movie society there are many who will not watch anything in black and white. I don’t really know why this is, maybe they believe it is outdated, or they think its can’t be good, or they are just not aware. These shows are starting to fade away and it would really be a shame if there was a whole generation never got a chance to enjoy them.

Speaking of Streaming, you can watch The Twilight Zone and the first season of Thriller on Netflix and the Outer Limits is available to watch on Hulu. So give them a try.

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Television

 

DCnU week one, I’ve read every single issue.

The DC universe has once again rebooted itself. This time everything starts anew, right after the conclusion of events in the mini-series Flashpoint.

DC has decided to launch this new Universe (DCnU) in 52 all new #1 issues.

Lets start off with one week prior. Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1 were released on the same day, showing the readers how the new universe started and instantly showing us some of the differences in this universe.

Flashpoint #5 is the conclusion of Barry Allen the Flash’s story of being trapped in a alternate universe, in which he never became the Flash, Thomas Wayne is the Batman, Superman is an imprisoned alien, and Cyborg is the big gun in the DCU.

All along in the story, Barry Allen is convinced that The Reverse Flash is responsible for the new time line, however the real answer is surprising. In “fixing” the problem, The Flash actually creates a third time line, creating DCnU and introducing a mysterious character along the way.

I liked the Flashpoint storyline. It was a very interesting and entertaining way of creating this new universe as well as giving the creation a little depth and tragedy. So I think I can easily recommend Flashpoint as the introductory storyline for this new DC universe

 

 

Justice League #1 written by Geoff Johns, and drawn by Jim Lee.

It is noted that this issue takes place 5 years prior to all other DCnU titles. There is a lot of action is this book and some really great artwork. It shows a Batman being hunted by the law. The storyline hints at a return/introduction of a main DC villain, and the hunt for clues leads a younger version of Batman and Green Lantern to confront Superman for the very first time. I love the last line in this book, and look forward to the next issue.

OK, week one of DCnU

I’m going to go through these titles in alphabetical order.

Action Comics #1 written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Rags Morales.

This book takes place 6 years prior to all the other DCnU titles. I have to confess right from the start, I absolutely love Grant Morrison’s All Star Superman, so I was really looking forward to this title. Right off the bat it is a totally different Superman. This Superman is an outlaw, a renegade vigilante, trying to right perceived wrongs anyway he can, and fighting the law while doing it. Also in this issue is the standard cast of characters Lois, Jimmy, White, and of course Lex Luthor. In this story Luthor is working with the authorities to capture Superman. This book had a lot of surprises about the characters I know and love. I really enjoyed it and will continue reading this one.

 

 

 

Animal Man #1, written by Jeff Lemire, art by Travel Foreman

Once again I hold a special place in my heart for this character because of Grant Morrison’s brilliant run on the book twenty years ago. The character of Animal Man (Buddy Baker) is very much the same as I remember him, a family man. The book has scenes with his family from the start and then moves into some superhero stuff and then comes this dream sequence which is kinda awesome and creepy and had me thinking, “is this a horror book?”. The dream sequence also introduces the main villains of the book as well . The book ends on a creepy note that are related to events in the dream. I really enjoyed the book and this would be one of the titles that I would tell someone, they should buy.

Batgirl #1, written by Gail Simone, drawn by Ardian Syaf.

Barbara Gordon is Batgirl again (hooray!). The book is written by Gail Simone, who really knows how to write female hero characters. The book starts off with a mystery, and adds back story about “the shooting” and then mentions the miracle. So there is lots of superhero action, but a cut above the standard fair. The artwork is great and Batgirl is just plain fun.

Batwing #1 written by Judd Winick, art by Ben Oliver.

So this book is about an African Bat Character. It also establishes that Batman Incorporated is still around and funding heroes across the globe. Judd Winick has always been hit or miss for me and I consider this one a miss. Ya, it okay superhero stuff, but just okay. Nothing special and I can’t see any reason from the first issue why I would be compelled to buy any additional books.

Detective Comics #1, written by Tony S. Daniel, art by Ryan Winn.

Okay a Detective #1, there has not been one of those in over 70 years. Bruce Wayne is batman, the only Batman and he is in pursuit of the Joker. Everything is the same but just a little different, something is going on between Batman and Joker and a mysterious third party. The cops are after the dark knight but he still has an alley in Gordon. Good story so far and solid art work. ……and is Alfred a hologram?

 

 

 

 

 

Green Arrow #1, written by JT Krul with art by Dan Jurgens.

This is a younger version of Green Arrow, who owns a large corporation which funds his superhero activities as well as other heroes as mentioned in later DC books. This is very standard superhero stuff, nothing new, nothing exciting. There have been much better Green Arrow books in the past, the recent past. So pass this one by.

Hawk and Dove #1, written by Sterling Gates with art by Rob Liefeld (ya, Rob Liefeld)

So this is crap, garbage, shit. This book could have been released in the 90s. Oh wait Liefeld was drawing this in the 90s. The story is stuff covered in the past, oh by brother is dead, poor me. It is absolutely horrible. The only thing you really get out of it is that Crisis did happen in the new DC universe.

Justice League International #1, written by Dan Jurgens with art by Aaron Lopresti

Again we have another title that seems to be almost right from the 90s. An International version of the Justice League which is lead by Booster Gold. The series is written by Booster Gold creator Dan Jurgens who had some popularity on his 90s run of Superman. The Team consists of Guy Gardner, Rocket Read, Fire, Ice, Vixen, , August General of Iron and Godiva. Batman is also among them as an unsanctioned member. This version of Justice League, unlike Justice League #1 takes place in current DCnU continuity. Now I was a fan of the 90s version of the team, but that had to due a lot with the humor of the book. This current title has no humor and is pretty much playing it straight. I’m not really sure what the point of the book is and why the need to have a title filled with lots of unknown characters, but it was a pretty decent first issue and I’ll stick by it (for a while).

Men of War #1, (Joseph Rock, written by Ivan Brandon, art by Tom Derenick, Navy Seals, written by Jonathan Vankin, art by Phil Winslade.)

Okay So there are two stories in the first issue. The first introduces a new Sgt. Rock (ugh…), thats right the grandson of the original, but now deployed in the Middle east. I can’ tell you how much I hate this concept. Sgt Rock, was not only a DC character he was pretty much Joe Kubert’s character. I feel that the two are so much part of each other, you cannot have one without the other (even if its a new version).

The next story Navy Seals, just seem to be a really cliché war melodrama, piece of crap.

Both stories have cardboard characters in cardboard situations with no cartoony war stories which you can’t feel invested in at all. Seems to me the only reason they did this book was to try(and fail) to keep the Sgt. Rock franchise fresh and modern. Maybe in the future, with a better writer, but not with this guy.

OMAC #1, written by Dan Didio and Keith Giffen with art by Keith Giffen.

I’m a big Jack Kirby fan. I really loved the 70s stuff he did for DC, and OMAC was no exception. So that being said I really enjoyed this version. Unlike the original series this one takes place in present DC continuity and not the future. Also this book contains a new version of the Cadmus Project, another Kirby creation. The story in this first issues does not have much of a storyline so far, just OMAC breaking into Cadmus and stealing something and hints about upcoming stuff. What sells me on the book is the Giffen/Kirby style artwork and the energy it gives off. The panels are fun to look at and really has a very Kirby feel to them. I want to see what happens and I really just want to stare at the pages each month, so I’m In.

 

 

Static Shock #1, written by Scott McDaniel with art by John Rozum.

I never read the original Static Shock series or watched the cartoon. The book is set in a future version of the DCnU future. It an okay read, lots of standard superhero stuff going. However, I did not love the character, or really care about him. Also since this is the future of the DC universe, if its not Legion who cares? No, I don’t think this is my taste. Gonna skip it from now on.

Stormwatch #1, written by Paul Cornell with art by Miguel Sepulveda.

I’m not really sure how to take this one. Apparently Stormwatch is now part of the DC universe. So the question is how can a team like this exist along side of the Justice League, would the Justice League let this team go on, if so why? Also I am sure there are gonna be lots of geeky Apollo vs Superman stuff going on. A surprise is Martian Manhunter is in this book, but it also refers to him belonging to Justice League in the past. So this one has lots of question for me. Therefore, I am going to keep picking it up, until I get my answers.

Swamp Thing #1, written by Scott Snyder, with art by Yanick Paquette.

I have been a Swamp Thing fan, since I discovered the character back in the 70s and then just went wild about the character during Alan Moore’s run in the 80s. However, after that there was never really a writer who, well could write the character. It was like Alan Moore created this Swamp God, and nobody knew what to do with him. Recently the Swamp Thing came back to light, during Brightest Day (heh).

The book starts off with Alec Holland, thats right Alec Holland alive and (maybe not so well). Also there is an appearance by Superman in the book who is acting very much like the old Superman we know, other than a costume change.

In the end we do finally see the title character, in a I can’t wait for the next issue kind of way.

The story is moody and well written and the artwork is amazing and I love the Swamp Thing, so of course I’m gonna keep picking it up. 🙂

Okay thats week one, I know not a lot of detail about each book, but just enough to let you know if I’m gonna keep collecting each issue. So far the DCnU is really not so so new, but its kind of fresh, and still there are larger question about what really has changed in this universe and why? Well I guess for that reason alone, we all will probably keep reading DC, to find out 🙂

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2011 in Comics

 

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Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

Brett and I decided to give Lord of the Rings: The Card Game a try the other afternoon.

From Fantasy Flight Games:

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game is a cooperative card game that puts 1-2 players (or up to four with two Core Sets!) in control of the most powerful characters and artifacts of Middle-earth. Players will select heroes, gather allies, acquire artifacts, and coordinate their efforts to face Middle-earth’s most dangerous fiends. By cooperating to overcome the obstacles drawn from the encounter deck, you will complete the quest before you and claim victory!

In The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, players take on the roles of heroes attempting to complete dangerous quests. These quests take place during a broad span, beginning near the end of The Hobbit, and culminating near the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. Instead of directly retelling the classic stories that have previously been narrated, this game provides players with a variety of elements—characters, settings, enemies, events, items, artifacts, scenarios—that allow them to embark upon new adventures and share new experiences with these beloved characters during this ominous period of Middle-earth history.

If you have ever read this blog before, you know that I love cooperative games. Lord of the Ring: The Card Game is a little different, well its a card game 🙂 .

Two players, each have their own separate decks, working against the third enemy deck.  Each player starts with a set of heroes in front of them and then can pay resources to play other effect, attachments and event cards. What is really kinda neat is that each player can play effect cards on their team mates side, as well as their own.

Lord of the Rings, is really a hard game (and we played the easiest adventure) but it was lots of fun. I really like this very creative game mechanic, and can’t imagine that other games will not follow.

If you enjoy co-op games or card games like Magic, you should really give it a try.

 

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2011 in Games

 

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