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Archive for April, 2008

Waiting on Trailer…and Pondering – UPDATED UPDATE!

28

Apr

Posted by Steve

As I write this, I am waiting on what will hopefully be a new Dark Knight trailer to make it’s debut online.  Since early this afternoon (Eastern Time) the viral marketing machine which WB has been using quite effectively to promote this film has been in high gear with a really cool way of introducing fans to the trailer.

Fans were led to various locations through the whysoserious website where they were met with instructions to go to nearby theatres. They were then given raffle tickets and shown the newest trailer for the Dark Knight.  Very cool.  Cooler still was the raffle was for the actual reel of film that the trailer was on.

Uncool, however, was the security in the theatre for the trailer.  Apparently they had people watching the audience with night vision to insure that no one was recording the trailer to place on youtube or some other website.

Why is that uncool?  Well, I understand studios preventing piracy of movies.  I understand cracking down on people who would try to profit off of films and keep those involved in making the films from being able to profit off of their own work. But consider this line of thinking…

1.  A trailer is a commercial.

2.  As a commercial, a trailer is meant to promote the film that it is previewing.

3.  Normally, advertising costs.

4.  If someone were to make a crappy home video of the trailer they are watching in a theatre and post it on the internet, thereby creating more buzz for a film that seems to me to be free advertising.

5.  I thought studios liked free advertising.

Put it all together, and you’ve got one confused Big Honkin Steve.  I’m not complaining mind you.   I just would like it explained to me why it’s a big deal for the studios to have a free commercial on the internet.  I honestly don’t think anyone can.

Maybe they see the benefits of free advertising. Apparently, the official trailer is coming Sunday, but this was first shown to me at around 1am. 9 hours later, it’s still there. Interesting…

 And it’s gone….

As I continued pondering the above query, I can only come up with one answer.  Best I can figure, WB wants to put geek butts in the seats when they release a film.  So, if they tell us that a movie is gonna have a trailer attatched to it, if people see it online first, they may not go see the movie to which the trailer is attatched.  For example, I went to see The Incredibles because of a Star Wars trailer.   I enjoyed The Incredibles, but probably would have waited to see it on DVD.  So, I guess I’m ok with companies not releasing their commercials online until they’re in theatres.  BUT!

(There’s always a big “but.”)

The marketing gurus at WB did fans a disservice last night as everyone got in a frenzy to jump through geurilla marketing hoops only to be told….wait ’til Sunday.  Granted a few thousand got to see the trailer and a handful of lucky people won the actual film reel of the trailer, but the truth is, there were thousands more people who were online, getting clues and racking their brains attempting to unlock the online secret only to get another advertisement.  I’m not gonna whine too much, (there’s plenty of that going on)but it wouldn’t have hurt them at all to have things come to fruition late Thursday night and go ahead and post the trailer. 

So, I guess that’s it.  Nothing to see here, move along.  Move along.  (Star Wars reference)

My Top Ten Favorite Superheroes:
Number 4 – The Thing

26

Apr

Posted by Steve

BenGrimmMyspace.jpgAunt Petunia’s favorite Nephew, The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing. You know the origin, while on a space flight with Reed Richards and Sue and Johnny Storm, Ben Grimm, test pilot extraordinaire was bombarded by cosmic rays. Upon safely crash landing (seems oxymoronical….I know.) back on Earth, Grimm found himself growing and changing into a monstrous looking form. He would from that point on be known as The Thing.

Arguable one of the most-liked members of the Fantastic Four, and one of the most-loved characters in the Marvel Universe, The Thing brings phenomenal strength, a sarcastic wit, and big heart to the game of the superhero biz.

I was introduced to The Thing through an old T-shirt of the hand-me-down variety that was floating around our house when I was a little kid. I wasn’t old enough to have seen the old Fantastic Four cartoon (where H.E.R.B.I.E the Robot replaced The Human Torch) or the even older cartoon where a kid named Benji had a ring that would turn him into the Thing. “Thing ring do your thing!” But I was always intrigued by this character. The look of The Thing always appealed to me. However, I never really knew anything much about him.

Then I was perusing some books in the school library when I was in fifth grade. I have no idea how to find these books today or when they were published, but my library had three hardback books for kids that explored the Fantastic Four, The Hulk, and Captain America. On the cover of Thing__comics_.pngthe Fantastic Four book, I saw him…The Thing. So, I checked that book out, promising the other two I would come for them. It was in this book that I first read the origin of the Fantastic Four and began to discover who this big orange guy was. I was hooked. On comics. On The Thing. And The Fantastic Four would be a book I would collect to this day.

I am a sucker for super-strength. I don’t know why, I just really like the big strong guys in comics. The Thing is one of the strongest…not THE strongest mind you, but he’s up there. It seems a prerequisite for being a team of superheroes to have a member that is primarily about strength. Near-indestructibility doesn’t have to come with the package, but it helps. I wonder if it’s not the Fantastic Four that kind of started that whole trend. I mean, sure you had the Justice League, but wasn’t that just putting all the top heroes in DC together? I digress. My point is I like the fact the Thing is strong, and even though he’s not the strongest joker in the Marvel U, it’s always fun to see they ways that various writers use that strength for Ben Grimm.

Like most of my favorite superheroes though, The Thing’s power is not what makes him great. Ben Grimm’s personality is a great fit into just about any situation. He’s serious enough to be a straight man to guys like the Human Torch and Spider-Man, but he’s funny and lighthearted enough to be the comic relief in situations with Reed Richards, Captain America, or even Dr. Doom. He is likable in every sense of the word. His brotherly fights with teammate Johnny Storm, his sarcastic wit employed whenever Reed Richards begins a scientific diatribe, and his tender heartedness with children Franklin and Valeria all add up to make Ben Grimm a well rounded character who is easy to enjoy.

200px_Fantastic_Four_310.jpgOn a more serious note, if Spider-Man had an appeal for kids because he started out as a kid, The Thing appeals to people because everyone has looked at themselves and not like what they’ve seen. One of the driving forces of the character of Ben Grimm since he became The Thing is his loathing over his appearance. Ben Grimm is constantly plagued with unhappiness because of what the cosmic rays turned him into. In a cruel twist of fate though, Ben Grimm could not turn back into his regular form like his teammates. In fact, Reed Richards once hypothesized that Ben had some mental blocks in place for various reasons that kept him from reverting to his human form at will. Ironically, this is a common problem people with low self esteem have. Instead of doing the things they need to do to try and improve their self esteem, they tend to wallow in their misery. (Stop preaching Steve.) There have only been one or two times though when Ben’s self loathing have kept him from being effective. Those times have provided interesting stories though. Ben’s lack of self confidence based on his appearance have made the big guy pretty easy for mere mortals to relate to.

Finally, The Thing has provided some of my favorite fights of all time. I’m referring to his battles with The Hulk. I love a good slug fest, and when those two tie up, even though a Hulk win is usually the outcome, it’s always a good slug fest. One of my favorite Thing/Hulk fights took place between Ben in his augmented Thing state and the gray Hulk. It started in FF #321 and ended in The Incredible Hulk #350. Dr. Doom started it…long story. Anywho, Ben finally beat the Hulk, but didn’t realize it til after the fact, because the Hulk was supposed to be dead and just before Thing finished The Hulk off, a robot Green Hulk showed up. The real Hulk came back in the end, but it was a cool fight that spanned two comic books and was a blast.thing.png

It started as a kid intrigued by an image on a T-Shirt. It’s carried on with me to this day. As I’ve read and become more and more familiar with the character, he’s only remained one my most favorite super heroes. The Thing is one of the biggest reasons that for most of my childhood comic collecting I was saying, “Make Mine Marvel.”

Finally, this final picture of The Thing was drawn and given to me to use by Michael Cohen. Michael is responsible for the current look of the site and is currently getting a new even cooler look for the site together for me. Michael does web design, and you can check him out at Arkwulf.com or his deviant art page at www.arkangel-wulf.deviantart.com. He’s recently gotten his one thousandth hit, so help him get to two thousand as quickly as possible, and if you have a business looking into a website, throw his name in the pot.

My Top Ten Favorite Superheroes:
Number 5 – Spider-Man

19

Apr

Posted by Steve

Spiderman.jpgHe is quite possible Stan Lee’s greatest creation. Lee along with artist Steve Ditko first introduced Spider-Man to the masses in the fifteenth issue of the failing Amazing Fantasy comic book. In fact, Lee’s publisher didn’t like the idea of a hero based on a spider because he thought spiders creep people out. So, when it was apparent that Amazing Fantasy was going to fail and Lee needed a story to fill the comic out, he stuck Spidey in there. All was forgotten, then the sales figures came back. Spider-Man was a hit. So, he got his own book. From then, Spider-Man grew in popularity and became a staple of American culture.

Spider-Man is a great superhero not only because of his powers, but because he is a great character. His witty banter and snappy comebacks always make his battles with the baddies so much fun to read. His unwavering bad luck adds a touch of drama and sympathy for the character. His deep sense of responsibility brought on by tragedy often brings more conflict into his life than any super villain.

amz_sm_fcbd_7avc.jpgSpider-Man is endowed with the proportionate strength, speed,and agility of a spider. His sharp reflexes and acrobatic ability allow him to fearlessly swing high among the skyscrapers of downtown New York on webs eminating from webshooters that Peter Parker designed. His strength allows him to pull of some remarkable rescues and hold his own against some pretty tough villains. His spider sense is an early warning system in his head that alerts him to danger. (Wish I had that.) He is still as vulnerable to pain and physical harm as any human though, so when he’s in the middle of a fight,the danger to Spidey is very real.

His powers aren’t really the appeal for Spider-Man though. Spidey has to be one of the funnest characters in comics to read when he’s written well. His one liners, snappy comebacks, and generally sarcastic and funny attitude make for one entertaining friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Nicknames given to supervillains from fat jokes about Kingpin to quips about the Shocker’s costume tend to be quite hilarious. It helps the reader know that even when Spidey is in danger, he enjoys the super hero biz.

Then, there’s Peter Parker’s constant bad luck. If things are every going good for Petey, just hold on, it’s about to get ugly. When he was sucked away to Battleworld in the Secret Wars, his costume was ripped to pieces, his web shooters were empty, and he got a crazy cool new black suit that responded to his thoughts and provided him with unlimited webbing.
backinblack.jpg It seemed great for a little while, but then we find out that it’s really a parasitic symbiote feeding off of Peter’s power and fueling is rage and aggression. When Peter was finally able to get rid of it, it wasn’t easy. Then it escapes it’s prison at the Four Freedom’s Plaza and comes back bonded with Eddie Brock as Venom. Talk about a good thing gone bad. Web shooters are always running out of web fluid. There is always something wrong at work. And don’t even get me started on the lady troubles. (Culminating in a deal with the devil that ended Peter’s marriage and brings us right back to the lady trouble.) Pete’s bad luck though only makes us sympathize with him more. Even when it’s Peter’s fault that things have gone wrong, we still feel for him, because we can all relate. We’ve all had days that go terribly wrong and one bad decision only makes the day worse. So, as we read the adventures of Spider-Man, we find ourselves rooting for the character because we know how it feels and it would be nice to someone get the upper hand on bad luck for once.

Ultimately what makes Spider-Man one of my top ten (and top five) superheroes is his sense of responsibility. Peter Parker’s mantra ever since the death of his Uncle Ben on that fateful night has been “With great power, comes great responsibility.” I have always bought into that. I love the idea of a hero so burdened with doing the right thing, that which right thing is best becomes the conflict for him. That’s a hero. Peter Parker, with all his powers (as I’ve said) is not invulnerable. His bones break, his skin can be easily pierced, he gets tired, and it is dangerous business every time he goes out. Yet, because he has the power to do something. Because the ability is his to stand in the gap. Because someone must help the helpless, and he can….he does. That’s a hero. Peter Parker could easily be a villain. He could (and did) only use his powers for personal gain, but due to a tragic and painful lesson he goes out and fights the good fight. That puts him pretty high on my list.

So, that’s number five, what do you think. Anyone missing so far? Predictions? Agree? Disagree? Let me know.

If you need to catch up on your Spidey, check out some of the stuff below…

Seeing Red – Hulk #3 Reviewed

15

Apr

Posted by Steve

Hulk3.jpgUpon reviewing the second issue of Hulk by Jeph Loeb, I tended to go on about how much I love Jeph Loeb’s writing and how much I truly enjoy Ed McGuinness’ art. I didn’t delve too much into the current storyline, or give any real thoughts as to what I think is going on, or even comment on whether or not I liked it. Since that review, and since reading that second issue, I’ve developed my theories and thoughts and ideas. The real question is, “How is this book holding up as a Hulk book?”

As of issue number 3 of Hulk, I can say with some degree of confidence that this book is holding up well. Jeph Loeb knows how to craft a story and dangle the carrot in front of the reader just far enough away to keep us going after it. But, before we delve too much into that, let’s jump into a quick recap of the issue.

Spoilers are ever-present, so if you haven’t read this issue yet and you are planning to, you may want to wait and come back later.

The issue opens with Tony Stark surveying the damage done to the hellicarrier by the red Hulk. It’s a complete loss. She-Hulk wants to go after Big Red, and Quartermain, Ross and Doc Samson are missing. Agent Hill alerts Stark to a video feed he needs to see. Stark watches as Ross and Samson talk to Banner in his underground prison about this new Hulk. Banner asks Ross to stay a moment longer before he and Samson leave and tells Ross something inaudible to the recorders.

Out in Nevada, Red Hulk and A-Bomb (The Rick Jones [huh?] version of Abomination) are fighting. In fact, we are treated to a pretty amazing two page splash of the two tied up. The fight ends up taking place inside of gamma base. In a frustrating moment, the automated guard shack give Clifford the Big Red Hulk a retina scan and recognizes him as…that’s all we get. Red Hulk smashes the shack before it can complete the sentence.

The fight between Red and A-Bomb includes fists thrown, bodies thrown, and even a gun. (The gun doesn’t do much good.) Then, the Red Hulk jumps on top of A-Bomb and begins to pound his head into the ground. With each hit, the ground quakes and cracks. We see that the hits cause an tremor measuring 10.0 on the Richter Scale. Deep beneath the earth, Banner’s cell begins to be crushed as debris falls on it. Banner pleads to be let out, but contact with the walls of the cell cause him to be gassed. However, Banner can hold his breath.

In a page that got me super excited, Banner is pounding on the glass attempting to escape. We see his fist, as it repeatedly hits the glass, grow, turn green, and cause the cage to crack.

Back on the surface, a robot harpie fashioned in the likeness of the late Betty Ross Banner attacks both A-Bomb and The Big Red Machine.   Red Hulk mentions how something like that would give Banner pause…but he’s not Banner.  Both monsters make quick work of the harpie.

As Red(eye) destroys the harpie, he turns and says, “Ok Rick, let’s finish this.”  To his pleasure though, it’s not Rick standing there….it’s the Green Hulk.  Hulk is talking in classic Hulk speak.  He says, “Hulk not Rick.  Hulk is Hulk.”  Red smiles and says he’s going to love this.

Whew!  Ok, I’m gonna calm down a bit to explain my rating scale.   I’ve stolen the method used by the guys over at Superman Homepage. The reviewers on that site give out-of-five ratings in three areas: story, art, and cover art. It works, so I am going with that way of rating comics as well.

Story – 5 out of 5.

I am on board with Loeb when it comes to this journey.  This issue was exaclty what it was supposed to be.  It was a slugfest.  The first few pages were the calm before the storm, and they were used to give us a little information and introduced a few more questions. 

The fight between fake Hulk and fake Abomination was outstanding.  Red Hulk had the upper hand most of the time, and that can be attributed to his lack of concern for the consequences of his actions.  He constantly referred to A-Bomb as Rick which leads me to suspect that my initial theory as to the identity of this Hulk may be off a bit.  I thought it may end up being the Red King from the Planet Hulk storyline.  We never actually SAW him die.  However, his knowledge of people and events in  Banner’s life kind of throw that theory out the window. 

Basically, the story is the fight.  But there are some deeper issues at play too.  The Red Hulk’s retinal scans were in the Gammabase database.  He admitted to being something completely different from Banner.  Interesting.

Then there’s the return of ole Jade Jaws.   I was literally giddy as Banner began to change.  Then there was a panel where we see a green hand reaching up from a crack in the ground.  And the final splash page of the two facing off is nothing short of exciting.  Yeah, I’m on board.  Thus far, Loeb is crafting an engaging, exciting tale.

Art – 5 out of 5

Ed McGuinness was born to draw the Hulk.  His over the top musculature is perfectly suited to the character.  But, the real success of the art in this issue was the perfect use of splash pages vs. paneled pages.  McGuinness is as much a story teller as Loeb.  The scenes of the ground cracking and Bruce changing were pretty powerful, and there is a lot to take in despite the apparent simple design of things.

Cover - 4 out of 5

I like the cover.  It reflects the main happening of what’s inside the book.  I knock off a point because I really don’t like the white background.  I don’t have a problem that there’s nothing there, A-Bomb and Big Red take up most of the page, but instead of white, black and nothing would have looked better to me.  I haven’t rated any of the variant covers because I don’t have any. 

If you’re even remotely a fan of the Hulk, and have been wondering whether or not to pick up his book, do it.  It’s an amazing story and it’s loads of fun too.

Weekend Reminder

12

Apr

Posted by Steve

Well, after the small firestorm struck up by my commentary on Trekkies yesterday, I feel it’s time to offer up the olive branch and remind everyone that Geek Out Loud, the official podcast of Geek Out Online, has moved. The new website for the podast is www.geekoutpodcast.com.

If you go there, make sure that you use the link available to subscribe to the new feed.

If you use iTunes, click here to go to the new Geek Out Loud page in the iTunes store and resubscribe from there.