I’ve been doing this breakdown of my comics pull-list as I adjust and budget for the future and have made a few observations.  I’m going to break it down by company.

  • With DC Comics, I continue to collect several titles.  Aquaman, the Flash, Batgirl, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Batwoman, Batman, All-Star Batman, Wonder Woman, and Scooby: Apocalypse.  Most of these titles I’ve collected consistently since the onset of the New 52, with a few changes made here and there.  I’ve thought about collecting Superman or Action Comics again, but I only have so much money to work with and I have to draw a line somewhere.  Although if there are enough ongoings out of the way, I might add them again.  Despite the flaws with the New 52 and Rebirth, I’ve actually been really impressed with a lot of what DC Comics has done.  It does feel like they have a good plan and are more willing to take chances with that plan.
  • Independent Comics are a steadily growing part of my collection.  From Dynamite Entertainment, I’ve been collecting the James Bond title.  Mostly because Warren Ellis had been writing the title, might drop that one now that some one else has taken over.  From IDW I have been collecting My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic as well as My Little Pony: Friends Forever, which is being replaced by My Little Pony: Legends of Magic.  Despite an exgirlfriend’s best efforts, I never could stand the television show, but the comics were top notch.  And this new comic is supposed to deal with the history of magic in the MLP universe.  From Image Comics, it has been a steady lineup of Bitch Planet, East of West and Sex Criminals.  All three of which have been excellent.  From Titan Comics, the Doctor Who series focusing on Doctors 9-12.  Kept meaning to get into the Torchwood comic as well, but never did.  Again, budgeting.  The last Independent comic I’ve been keeping on is Insexts, which has been this weird, delightful story.
  • Which leaves Marvel Comics.  This is where I’ve cut most of my books actually.  Mostly I’ve been collecting the Star Wars comics–Star Wars, Poe Dameron, Doctor Aphra, Darth Maul–while the core superhero titles is down to the Avengers, Hulk, the Mighty Thor and the Unworthy Thor.  Hulk has been a really good PTSD story, while Avengers and the Thor books have been fairly solid and consistent.

So I’ve outlined what I’m actively collecting right now.  I’ve observed this general shift away from Marvel, which has been for a number of reasons.  Not likely to ditch any Star Wars titles, but the core titles have been dropping fast.  Even the Thor or Avengers titles could go soon.  And here’s why.

  1. Creators.  Not that long ago, Marvel Comics had writers like Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Kelly-Sue DeConnick, Jonathan Hickman, Rick Remender, and Kieron Gillen working for them.  Artists like John Romita Jr., Dale Eaglesham and Declan Shalvey has since moved on from Marvel.  Every one of those that I’ve just listed had some role in the overall redefinition or rejuvenation of a character.  Most of them have gone to do work at Image or other independent companies.  Meanwhile, I look at DC and think they have done a pretty decent job of finding good fits for their overall plan and keeping them in positions to be at their best.  Not all the time, but a lot of the time.  I think it would have established a better consistency of tone with Marvel if they hand been able to keep a couple more of those writers and artists around.
  2. Stories.  Despite their flaws and missteps, DC seems to be sticking to a bigger vision for their titles and that comes out in stories on all levels.  From the solo street level characters up to the big cosmic team books, there has been a solid and consistent vision.  Marvel on the other hand, I just think they’ve been telling mediocre stories.  So many of their books are just building up to the next event so we don’t have an opportunity to see any character development.  Stories too dependent on ex machina gimmicks and Macguffins.  DC might be guilty of that too with the Watchmen button, but I argue the return of Wally West and the Pre-New 52 Superman made that a bit less of an annoyance.  Cosmic Cubes and Infinity Gauntlets are more what has become an annoying dependency for Marvel.
  3. Pricing.  I think Marvel could make more of an effort to keep more of their books under $3.99.  It is more the nature of the business, but I think DC has made a much more obvious effort to keep their prices under control.
  4. Diversity.  Marvel has tried to blame slumping sales on too much diversity at one point or another.  The one way that happens is if they force things too much.  I do think they have tried too hard to diversify, but haven’t necessarily given the conditions for those titles to succeed.

For if one is remembered by a friend, one is never truly gone.

-Star Wars: Thrawn

  • Finally broke the hour mark in Overwatch with Orisa.  In some ways she can be annoying, but her abilities can be useful.  I probably will play as her more often than I play as some others.
  • Weekend off coming up.  Hopefully going to power through some reading, writing and drawing that I’ve been putting off.  Getting closer to Comic Con season, so I stepping that up is a priority.  Might also start the process of selling off my comics.  That is a bit of a trickier thing, as I want to have a steady flow of books getting signed and graded as I sell them.  Maximize and extend my profit window.
  • I saw recently that Greg Rucka’s run as writer of Wonder Woman will be coming to an end relatively soon.  Part of me is kind of glad about that.  It’s not that he’s a bad writer, but I just get tired of him working with lesbian characters all of the time–I could argue Wonder Woman as more bisexual, but in the current storyline she has not necessarily shown an overwhelming interest in men.  Regardless, Rucka’s work–thinking of Rene Montoya, Kate Kane, Carrie Stetko–tends to focus on lesbian heroines.  I’m all for diversity, but I think there could be a bit more variation to the diversity.  Kind of goes along with my biggest complaint about Tracer from Overwatch.  I thought there were more powerful statements to be made with the character and the game in general.
  • Finished reading the new Star Wars: Thrawn novel.  Pretty solid stuff.  Think Timothy Zahn did a good job building up the characters and showing the functioning of the Empire at that time.  I was a bit taken aback when Disney announced that the novels and comics and video games from the last couple of decades were no longer canon, but I understood the need to declutter.  A lot of the material was clutter and detracted from the better stories of the Expanded Universe.  I’m glad they brought back Thrawn though.  The Thrawn books were some of my favorites from the novels, probably the most well written.  Makes me wonder if Thrawn or Eli Vanto will appear in Last Jedi or Episode IX.  In some form, maybe the character portrayed by Benicio Del Toro?

I like just posting a few links to avoid overloading people with these things.

  • Toxic habits in a relationship that most people don’t realize are toxic.  I will admit that this does describe some situations I’ve been in.  Hints and passive aggression?  Done and had it done to me.  Holding the relationship hostage?  Yeah and she effectively killed it.  Loving jealousy?  Oh yeah.  Buying solutions?  Definitely and I’ve observed others doing it.  To be blunt, this article basically describes a past relationship and it was exhausting.  This is really a big part of why I’ve chosen to remain single or avoid a standard relationship.  There are a lot of bad habits we are conditioned into believing are healthy and positive.  One thing I’ve tried to do is identify bad habits in myself and in past partners to better understand their impact and address them when I can.  Part of the problem is we’re conditioned into believing these are acceptable behaviors and that makes it difficult for relationships to work.  Also a reason I recommend Stranger In A Strange Land to people.
  • The GOP and Trump can’t seem to wrap their heads around healthcare.  Describing their repeal efforts as zombie is an apt comparison.  It will eat them alive.  Personally, I always considered the ACA a good starting point.  Not a finished product.  It does a lot of good and could do more if the glaring flaws are addressed.  Get costs down.  Stop letting the providers hold it hostage.
  • Dairy-free diets might not that good for you.  I’ve heard about how milk being not that good for you as it contributes to clogged arteries, but dairy in other forms has its benefits.  I stick to cheese, whey protein or Greek Yogurt for the bulk of my dairy.  Seems to work for me.  I am usually skeptical of Vegetarian and Vegan diets, if only because I’ve been of the opinion that our diets evolved the way they have for a reason.

It’s not a bad thing finding out that you don’t have all the answers. You start asking the right questions.

-Erik Selvig “Thor”

  • I see a story floating around about how the guy on that United Airlines flight was convicted of trading drugs for sex and was not actually a licensed doctor.  Question:  does that really matter?  I mean, his argument for staying on the plane might have been bullshit, but isn’t it kind of ridiculous that airlines overbook like that in the first place?  And that they handled themselves like that?
  • Saw the Thor: Ragnarok trailer.  Watched it five or six times.  Trying not to judge much based on it.  I wasn’t a huge fan of opening with narration like that.  Overused technique really.  Kind of continues the general direction of the Thor movies, although I do think they tried too hard to make it look more like Guardians of the Galaxy.  Guardians of the Galaxy worked because it stuck to being what it was.  It didn’t try to be like Captain America or Iron Man or the Avengers.  Making Thor more like GotG isn’t something I’m overly interested in seeing.  We will see what the movie turns out to be.
  • Tried making Garlic French Fries the other day.  Basically the recipe for baked french fries I know, only seasoned with crushed garlic and parmesan cheese.  Acceptable results, although I might try adding some cheddar cheese to try to avoid drying out the garlic as much.  A tweak I’m going to try.
  • I’ve posted various segments of novels, one of which was centered around bodybuilding.  In this scene I’m toying with, the characters are discussing the idea of submission and/or dominance in a relationship.  The idea I’ve been crafting for that scene essentially is that while one person may be stronger, it should be their job to raise their partner to their level in all aspects.  And if the one person isn’t as strong… well isn’t the point of life to grow?  To become stronger?  If someone drives you to be stronger, isn’t that a beautiful thing?

Ice-age heat wave, can’t complain.
If the world’s at large, why should I remain?
Walked away to another plan.
Gonna find another place, maybe one I can stand.

-Modest Mouse “World at Large”

Just a few more articles I came across that were interesting.

Some interesting thoughts on how open you should be about past relationships on a first date.  Given how much I’ve discussed past relationship or two here, this seemed relevant.  One of the reasons I’ve discussed a lot of details about how things went down was to be more open and honest about it, while still taking responsibility for my own mistakes.  Never really thought of myself as being right nor wrong about anything.  I like to throw that Obi-Wan Kenobi line about the truths we cling to on that.  Working nights, I’ve only gone on a real date or two since then–kind of blew it in that case–but I would be more than willing to discuss any of what happened in the past if only to make sure there is a clear understanding of what expectations are and how best to proceed going forward.

An interesting angle on Tomi Lahren’s recent dismissal from the Blaze.  Apparently the Blaze owns her Facebook page and could post in her name or just delete it altogether.  She’s apparently trying to get control of the page, but that won’t likely be successful.  Just as we need to be careful with who is given a platform, I think it is equally important to be clear about who’s in control of that platform.  You hurt the integrity of all involved if there is ambiguity about who is actually speaking.

Apparently Michael Bay thinks there could potentially be 14 more Transformers movies.  Overkill.  As much as I like explosions and action sequences, I think they are already taking this further than they really should and wonder if there is much more to offer other than racially insensitive caricatures.

Ghost In The Shell Movie could lose money.  Not surprising, given the controversy surrounding it.  I was kind of surprised when Scarlett Johansson took the part.  Seems like she would have been much more aware of the controversy involved and have avoided taking part in this film.

Mild Spoilers, anyone that saw the Ghost and Chopper in Rogue One kinda figured where the next step would be.  On a side note, Marvel’s doing an six issue adaptation of Rogue One set to start coming out in April?  Seriously?

So season three of Star Wars: Rebels came to a close this last weekend.  Was mildly surprised that the season did not end on the Battle of Scarif.  It essentially ended with the crew narrowly escaping Thrawn’s attack and proceeding to Yavin 4.  Sabine led a team of Mandalorians to the Rebels’ aid, briefly returning before having to go back to continue fighting to free Mandalore.  That storyline appears to be the main story for season four, which I do have a theory on.

Ezra and Kanan are still present with the team, but this season did introduce the Bendu, who added a new dynamic to the Jedi storyline.  One of the things that seems to be happening with them is that they are being pushed more to the middle between light and dark.  Between Maul, Vader and the Inquisitors, they were confronted or tempted by the Dark Side, with the Bendu being the first to truly advocate for the middle.  That continued throughout the season, leading up to the final battle.

Overall, it was a solid season.  I think they neatly wrapped up a few plot storylines before they progressed into the finale and set up the next season.  I know that they officially list the events of season three unfolding two years before Rogue One and Episode IV, but I can’t help but think there will be a general progression of events to bring that point about sooner.  Maybe have the Battle of Scarif be the mid-season event?  Or even to start the season?  I like the midseason idea myself, but I really don’t think the season will end there.

My theory is that the opening of the season will involve Kanan and Ezra learning about Jedi connections on Yavin 4, Hera getting a promotion, a couple of quick checks on Sabine, some missions for Agent Kallus as he adjusts to working with the Rebels directly–maybe working with Cassian Andor and K-2SO?–with the Battle of Scarif and the Death Star coming about in the middle of the season.  After that, Mandalore.  I think the Darksaber history will be revisited as Kanan and Ezra continue their journey.  Maybe even some explanation of Ahsoka Tano’s fate?  I saw some speculation that Episode VIII will have some connections to the Old Republic stories, so it would not necessarily be surprising to see some of that occur in Rebels.  Especially since a lot of that history that has been confirmed involves Mandalore.

So that’s my prediction.  The group will be straight off to Mandalore after the battle of Scarif and that’s the big arc and focus for the season.

“I am only an egg.”

-Stranger In A Strange Land

  • Saw something about Twitter changing the default avatar from an egg to a silhouette.  I was preferable to the egg myself.  In the novel Stranger In A Strange Land, Michael Smith often repeats the phrase, “I am only an egg.”  Basically he’s saying, “I still have a lot to learn.”  Having the egg I think was a good reminder that people people don’t necessarily know everything and that we all still have a lot to learn.  We all have something to learn and something to teach each other.  Plus, Twitter does have the bird theme.
  • Was trying to figure out if there was going to be a trade paperback of the Overwatch comics coming out anytime soon.  Doesn’t look that way.  I think Dark Horse has been putting them out digitally, but I would like to get a hard copy at some point.  It is really interesting how they have developed the world and characters of the game, in that there is no real story in the game play.  Been taking a break from that anyway.  A lot of Batman: Arkham Knight and Mass Effect: Andromeda with some Skyrim thrown in.  Finally cracking into the stack of games I haven’t gotten into as heavily yet.  Gave brief thought to plugging the Playstation 3, which I still haven’t done since I left Shoreham.
  • Saw an article the other day about how some people at Marvel Comics is blaming their drop in sales on “pushing too much diversity” in their comics.  Seriously?  You basically have all your books leading from one event to the next, constantly restart the titles each year, and recycle plots from the last few decades.  On top of that, Marvel has lost a lot of top talent over the last few years, probably on some level due to Editorial issues.  But anyway, tell me how “too much diversity” is the real problem.
  • Joss Whedon has apparently taken on the task of making a Batgirl movie.  At the first glance, I was excited.  Whedon has done an excellent array of work with female characters that most find admirable.  And the plan is to base it off Gail Simone’s New 52 run with the character, which was arguably one of the better parts of that initiative that DC Comics put out.  So that seems like a recipe for success.  However, he did have a brief flirtation with a Wonder Woman movie that failed to pan out.  And there was Avengers: Age of Ultron, which featured a disappointing direction for Black Widow.  Some of that could be attributed to creative issues with the studio, but it does raise a red flag or two.  So I’m cautiously optimistic.
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