Speaking Truth

February 10, 2017

I was reading something the other day about how Tom Perez and his bungling a comment about last year’s Democratic Primary.  He acknowledged that the primary process was rigged against Bernie Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton and that the next DNC Chair Person would have to be “honest” and “transparent” to succeed.  Then he essentially retracted the statement, stating that he “misspoke”.  Or rather the party elders and establishment got wind of it and voiced their disapproval.  Cue the groaning and eye-rolling.  He was right the first time.

I’m trying to be a little less political, but this article I read kind of fits with my general train of thought on a number of matters.  Our whole political system needs an influx of new ideas.  Why do you think Bernie Sanders, the Green Party and the Libertarian Party had such a significant impact on the election last year?  However, those ideas cannot be expected to flourish if truth cannot be acknowledged.

One of the overarching themes I’ve tried to deal with in my writing this blog has been the “Idea of Ideas” and how important it is to always embrace new ideas and information.  When it comes to truth, I often quote Obi-Wan Kenobi from Return of the Jedi.  In explaining his misleading account of what happened to Luke’s father, Kenobi states that “Many of the Truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.”  I keep throwing that line out there, but it is a good line.

Ideas were a focus of mine here, but how we regard those ideas is also worth looking at.  Truth and belief can be subjective, but they can inspire ideas.  I will admit that something I’ve struggled with is knowing when to challenge people’s truths and ideas.  Where the lines are drawn.  I have disregarded a myriad of them, but sometimes that needs to happen too.  Although I would hope my writing here does occasionally inspire people to look at their beliefs, ideas and truths from a different perspective, I don’t claim absolute authority on right or wrong here.  I’m sure there a number of opinions on that.  I simply hope I challenged some truths and some new ideas came as a result of them.  Even if it is just an expanded perception, I think it would be a benefit.

Regardless of the situation, ideas and truth need to be challenged.

Been thinking about doing a recurring thing about comics lately.  I still get my newstands mailed to me every month, so might as well do some review type stuff.  Right now I’m collecting the following titles:

Marvel: Thor, Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, Hulk, Star Wars, Star Wars: Poe Dameron, and Star Wars: Doctor Aphra.  I’ve been cutting back on the Marvel a bit, mostly keeping the Star Wars titles.  I’ve really liked what Thor is doing lately and the first issue of Hulk was actually pretty decent.

DC: Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Scooby: Apocalypse, All-Star Batman, Batgirl, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, and the Flash.   I’d collect more DC titles like Action Comics, Detective Comics, and Superman, but there have been some need to keep to a budget.  Scooby: Apocalypse is fascinating if only for the reimagining of the gang in a post-apocalyptic hell-scape.

Others (Image, Dynamite, IDW, Titan, etc.):  East of West, Sex Criminals, Doctor Who (4th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Doctors), My Little Pony, My Little Pony: Friends Forever, Insexts, and James Bond.  Kinda kicking myself for not collecting the Torchwood series, but probably should cut back the number of books.  A lot of these are just odd ball series I collect because I’m intrigued by the creative teams, etc.  I used to get the MLP stuff for my ex, but I actually do like reading them and it is one of better all ages books out there.  Might try to complete the run and collect the series at some point.

 

I’ve collected others but there have been a few cuts of late.  Some were series that just came to their own conclusions–Darth Vader, Han Solo, A-Force, etc.–and others that just have lost me or had to be dropped for budget reasons.

The biggest one that’s lost me is Captain America.  I collected that book for a long time.  First there was Ed Brubakers run with the character and his spin-off work with the Winter Soldier, which was fantastic.  He did an amazing job of bringing the spy noir quality back to the character and much of his influence has been felt in the Winter Soldier and Civil War movies.  After that, the title was followed up with Rick Remender taking over as writer.  He brought it more to a traditional superhero story and played a lot more with the “Man Out of Time” aspect of the character.  That period also featured Sam Wilson becoming Captain America and a more team dynamic.

Which brings us to the present.  After the “Secret Wars” event, Remender concluded his work at Marvel and the Captain America title was turned over to a new writer, Nick Spencer.  Sam Wilson was still Cap, as Steve Rogers had been aged after his encounter with a supervillain called the Nail.  This led to a more interesting take on the character that started out with Sam Wilson trying to take a more socially aware approach.  This involved intervening when a number of illegal immigrants were being abducted by members of a terrorist group called Sons of Serpent.  His actions put him at odds with Steve Rogers who is a high ranking member of SHIELD and he finds himself a bit more on his own.  Then the events of Avengers: Standoff! unfold and Steve Rogers is restored to his younger self and we go straight into the secret agent of Hydra nonsense.

The basic premise of Avengers: Standoff! was that somebody leaked the existence of a SHIELD black site, called Pleasant Hill.  At work there was a sentient cosmic cube in the form of a little girl calling itself Kobik who is essentially brainwashing and altering villains to live peacefully in the idyllic little town.  When all the heroes go to investigate she loses control and the villains revolt, led by Baron Zemo.  As events unfold, elderly Steve Rogers finds himself face to face with Crossbones who begins to beat him to death.  At this point Kobik intervenes and restores Rogers’ youth and strength.  Later it is revealed that the Red Skull has made contact with Kobik and when she restored his youth, he is altered to believe he has always been a Hydra operative in service of the Red Skull.

Even before the obnoxius Deus Ex Machina aspects of Kobik and the Red Skull having Professor X’s mental abilities–a completely different storyline that annoys me–the storyline has fallen off the rails.  Steve Rogers would trust Sam Wilson.  He would trust his friend.  This is before Kobik and the Red Skull did their thing.  Rogers would trust the judgement of his friend.  He would not come down on his friend in the ways he did.  Not even Old Man Rogers would do that.  If he was not going to trust his friend and back him up, why give him the Shield?

So yeah, that’s why I stopped reading Captain America.  For something trying to be socially conscious in its own way, it does not seem will to push things like it should.

Also got my second round of CGC signature series books back  They are as follows:

Fantastic Four #46: signed by Stan Lee, graded at a 5.0.  Came back a bit higher of a grade than I thought it would.  First appearance of Black Bolt, King of the Inhumans.

Fantastic Four #66: signed by Stan Lee, graded at a 7.5.  Hoped for a wee bit higher.  First part of the two part story that Adam Warlock appears in.  Gives his origin.

Fantastic Four #67: Signed by Stan Lee, graded at a 6.5.  Hoped for a bit higher here too, but still a nice book.  Second part of the first Adam Warlock story and his first brief appearance.

Thor #165:  signed by Stan Lee, graded at a 7.0.  First full appearance of Adam Warlock.

Thor #193:  I had gotten this signed at NYCC in 2015, by Gerry Conway and John Romita Sr.  Last issue of Thor that Stan Lee worked on in his original run on the character.  In 2016, I got Stan Lee to sign it.  Came back at a 9.4.

A new year.  Didn’t do one of these last week because of Carrie Fisher’s death.  Kinda hit hard.

  • Star Wars has been on my mind a lot lately.  I had been reading a couple of the newer “Canon” novels, rewatching Clone Wars, catching up on Rebels, saw Rogue One.  Even though the prequels did fail to live up to the hype in a lot of ways, rewatching Clone Wars does give me a slightly higher opinion of them.  Clone Wars really was a fantastic war serial and helps to raise some of the weaker aspects of the movies.  Still, Lucas did leave some gaping holes in the movies.
  • Star Wars was really my first fandom and always will be.  Like I said the other day, Princess Leia was really my first crush and I grew up with those stories.  I might have strayed a bit during and after the prequels, but it was always the true love of fandoms to me.
  • It occurred to me the other day I haven’t had Indian Food in forever.  I kinda miss the saag and mango curries.  Might have to remedy that soon.
  • Working on scripting a new comic.  Developing it into a blend of Final Fantasy and Firefly.  I’m just trying to avoid making it out to be like East of West or The Dark Tower too much.  Those are the real standard when it comes to fantasy/scifi western stuff.
  • The Tom Petty song “Won’t Back Down” has been my theme of late.  So easy to get dragged down by the negativity and bullshit of everybody’s drama sometimes.

“To me, she is royalty.”

December 27, 2016

Fandoms become part of our lives.  While I’ve developed loves for a myriad of shows and novels, there was one that has always been there.  The first love.

Star Wars.

I remember being a kid and wanting nothing more than to watch Episode IV again.  And again.  And Empire Strikes Back.  And Return of the Jedi.

There were a lot of reasons for that.  There was a big one though.

Princess Leia.

She was just such a badass in those movies.  Every bit of snark she shot at Tarkin and Vader just made me want to love her even more.  Then she starts giving it to Luke and Han and you realize who the real badass of this movie and everything to come will be.  And that was a lot of who she was in real life.  I remember hearing a story about how Carrie Fisher’s mother was upset that her daughter wasn’t flying first class when they were filming Star Wars.  She was in the room when her mother was giving George Lucas and earful about it when Carrie took the phone and told her mother, “Mother, shut the fuck up.  I’m flying Coach.”  Might not be exactly how the story went down, but it really fits Fisher.

Carrie Fisher was really my first crush.  In a lot of ways, a lot of what I’ve looked for in a woman has essentially been defined by Carrie Fisher.

And I suppose there are worse qualifications.

Even after Star Wars, she continued to amaze.  After overcoming her various struggles–including the loss of her friend John Belushi–she became a writer and advocate for mental health.  Outspoken, opinionated and not afraid of the backlash, she was everything we needed her to be and more.  She might not have done movies on the scale of Star Wars in the years that followed but her impact was no less significant.

Of all the iconic figures who have passed away this year, this one feels like it hits harder.  She will be missed.

Finally saw it this morning.

Plot centers around the daughter of one of the engineers working on the Death Star after her father makes contact with members of the Rebellion.  From there she proceeds to lead a group of rebels on a mission to retrieve the plans to the Death Star, which segues nicely into Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

Overall, a powerful movie.  Very much lays out the groundwork for what transpires in A New Hope and gives it considerably more depth.  There were a ton of Easter Eggs and hints that I won’t even begin to get into.  All the characters were amazing, very much people you wanted to care about and did.

The thing I heard the most complaints about was the use of CGI characters, primarily in the character Tarkin, originally portrayed by Peter Cushing in the 1970s.  While I could understand those complaints, I thought it fairly well done and came across fairly well.  And the other characters were well done as well.

Star Wars Prequels Revised

November 7, 2016

Just saw something about how one of the Star Wars: Clone Wars series debuted today–the 2003 series–and that reminded me about how I threw out a few suggestions I had for where I would have liked to have seen the Prequels go.  Primarily the movies, as the Clone Wars did a fairly good job of reconciling a lot of the problems there.  Just having a bit of fun with it.  As a writerly type, I always felt like the Prequels were a letdown.  George Lucas didn’t really care and he was going to have to if we were.  We already knew where the story was going, so it had to have some twists and I always felt like there were a few directions they could have gone.  Having not really thought about it for a couple of months, I thought I would revisit this idea.

Episode One:  Same general plot.  Big changes I would have made were to have Anakin already be an apprentice and cut out the “Chosen One” nonsense.  Something along the lines of him being Qui-Gon’s apprentice while Obi-Wan is on Naboo in hiding, having been stranded there on a separate mission and joins up with Qui-Gon.  I just felt like there was a limit on how much fun could have been had once everybody knew his destiny.  Also, have Amidala execute the Trade Federation leadership after they surrender.  Having her in exile or imprisoned would allow the story to go darker sooner and focus the story a bit more, painting a bit more detail into Palpatine’s manipulations.  Feel like Obi-Wan taking over Anakin’s training more sense as they would likely bond over their mourning of Qui-Gon, while Yoda has begun to have suspicions about the potential that Anakin carries.

Episode Two:  Open with an assassination attempt on Palpatine, later to be revealed to be orchestrated by him.  As Obi-Wan and Anakin investigate, they find that it is connected to Amidala and she might be able to lead them to the conspirators.  While Obi-Wan continues to investigate and eventually learns about the Clone Army, Anakin goes to Amidala and tries to convince her to help.  Encountering the Clones, Obi-Wan realizes they are all of a believed dead Jedi Master, albeit with no force sensitivity.  It would be during these events that Yoda and/or Mace Windu begin to more seriously suspect that Anakin could be the Chosen One based on his skills and achievements.  Rest of the plot remains essentially the same, although I would have Palpatine expressing concerns about the Jedi to Anakin and thus leading him to question the righteousness of the Order.

Episode Three:  Anakin and Amidala are expecting the birth of their children as the Clone Wars rage on.  Palpatine continues to weaken Anakin’s faith in the Jedi Order.  Anakin’s frustrations grow as the Council begins to test him in secrecy to confirm his role in the Prophesy and fears for his wife’s safety.  Obi-Wan, dedicated to ending the war, fails to see what is happening to his friend until it is too late.  When the war has ended, Palpatine arranges an assassination attempt on Amidala and makes it look like the Jedi are responsible, turning Anakin to the Dark Side and triggering the extermination of the Jedi.  Though she dies, Luke and Leia are born and survive.  Obi-Wan goes to tell Anakin this, hoping to save his friend.  Obi-Wan finds Anakin too far gone, they duel.  Obi-Wan leaves Anakin for dead, with the twins being separated and hidden while Obi-Wan and Yoda go into exile.

Thursday of 2016 NYCC…

October 6, 2016

Not a bad day.  Just got back to the room.  Not much going on after 5PM that held my attention.  Got a lot done though.

Signings:

  • From Stan Lee, I will hopefully be getting copies of Fantastic Four #46, #66, #67 and Thor #165 and #193 signed.  Those are some key issues for one reason or another–First Black Bolt, first Adam Warlock, Last Stan Lee on Thor–so I’m pleased to be maximizing the value there.  Almost went and got Tales of Suspense #75 with that lot, but I decided to drop that one from the list.  Mostly cost, although I do acknowledge there could be a bit of subconscious exgirlfriend nonsense.
  • From Jim Starlin, I got Infinity Gauntlet #1-3 as well as Avengers Annual #7.  Thanos stories basically.
  • The rest were Star Wars variants.  I had a couple of Poe Dameron variant covers I got signed by Charles Soule.  I also had a Millenium Falcon variant for Han Solo #1 that I got signed by Mark Brooks and Majorie Liu.  I might move one or two of those fairly quickly, I don’t know yet.  Still thinking it over.

Panels:

  • Went to this Creators Unite thing hosted by Charles Soule and Jim Zub.  That’s good panel, I liked it.  Learned a lot about the years it took for them to get working at Marvel.  Kind of a good experience just to sit in on this.
  • Went to the Creator’s Meet Up.  Wasn’t quite as chill as I had hoped, maybe a bit too much pressure.
  • The last panel I went to today was a preview of an upcoming Hulu documentary called Batman and Bill.  Talking about the creation of Batman and how Bill Finger’s contributions were fairly known but not necessarily acknowledged by DC Comics until very recently.  This sneak peek was a bit of tear jerker without seeing it in its entirety.

Also picked up a couple of prints, three t-shirts and a folio for larger prints.  Tomorrow will be my Tenth Doctor Cosplay, so I’ll probably have more pictures.

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