Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Count3rCu1ture Mobile - 08.31.11

**SPOILER WARNING for "The Man of Steel"**

This picture just happens to leak today. The same day that the "New DC Universe" officially launches with Justice League #1.

Today's vocabulary word, class, is "corporate synergy". Say it with me now...

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Monday, August 29, 2011

C3C1 5 - Second-Tier Comic Characters

Welcome to as personal of a look at me as you’re going to get here.

“C3C1 5” is a series of lists detailing my personal favorite...whatever topic I happen to choose. I am trying to make these a weekly ongoing feature. Of course, my reputation for regularity isn’t the greatest in the world and even I realize that, but we shall see.

The reasons for this feature are threefold. One, I get to talk about stuff that I like. Two, you get an idea of how my tastes and philosophy in doing this site are shaped. Three, I understand lists are all the rage because the average internet peruser has the attention span of a hummingbird, so why not use that to my advantage?

Oh and for any “I can’t believe you didn’t include so-and-so” comments that may arise? Go play in a hurricane. The reason that “so-and-so wasn’t included” is because these are lists of personal tastes, not All-Time Greatest, Most Significant or anything of the like. These are simply my picks, and...hell, we’ll go with an oldie but goodie...

The views and opinions expressed herein are those solely of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of the rest of the human race.

Welcome to the first installment of C3C1 5. This week’s list of five is:

Five Fave Second-Tier Superhero Comic Characters

Yeah, I know - what a weird place to start, right? That’s because thinking of the very list you’re about to read is what inspired the idea of doing this feature in the first place.

That’s kind of a long title and I understand there’s some explanation of criteria to be had, so here it is. These are characters that have appeared in mainstream superhero comics, but are not, by any means, mainstream characters.

Only one of the below has appeared in a movie and one is about to get his own TV show, but overall these are characters that mainstream audiences would hear the names of and go, “who?” Yet, at the same time, these are characters that have helped shape my love of comics since I was a kid.

And this was tougher than I thought it would be, because there were quite a few characters that shaped my comic tastes back then. Off of this list, I had to carefully consider and painfully eliminate a few "Honorable mentions" such as Warlord, Vigilante (Adrian Chase), Etrigan, and a couple others. After mulling it over for several days, the list below represents the "Final Cut".

Speaking of the top five...

05: Blue Devil

This series was such a blast when it first came out - and off the norm of what DC was offering. That’s why I initially read it - to see something different. What I wound up with was a wisecracking “average guy” who worked in Hollywood - stuntman Dan Cassidy, who has the super-techno-advanced Blue Devil suit used for a movie fused to him during an attack on the set by a real demon. Cassidy remained a guy trying to live as normal of a life as he could while being stuck inside this suit - oh, and fighting bad guys who would keep showing up thinking he was something other than what he was. The comedy of errors blended with more of a real sense of someone being a reluctant hero put Blue Devil over for me. Now I only hope, during the reboot coming up in a few days, they decide to do something worthwhile with him other than making him a real demon (which removes most of the basis for his entire character) and so depressingly grim.

04: Kamandi

Strangely enough, one of the Jack Kirby creations that stands out to me the most is probably the least known of all of his works. Kamandi is "The Last Boy on Earth", and the first "post-apocalyptic" story/character I came in contact with. Of course, as a kid, the idea of an Earth with nothing/no one left was mind-blowing in and of itself, but the sole survivor was my age? Kirby did a great job with telling Kamandi's story and portraying the "animals" (or beasts mutated in to humanoid form by "The Great Disaster") around him. Come to think of it, One of the reasons I took to ThunderCats so well - both as a kid and now - could be due to the fact that, all things considered, ThunderCats looks a lot like Kamandi, only without the human boy.

03: Sebastian Shaw

This is the one people are probably the most familiar with now on this, having seen Kevin Bacon portray him in X-Men: First Class. Bacon did a good job with what he was presented as the character, but it wasn’t 100% right - and I don’t just mean his powerset. Shaw can only absorb and re-direct kinetic energy; or, as he puts it, “the harder he’s hit, the stronger he becomes.” So, how does a guy with what could be considered limited abilities become leader of the Hellfire Club alongside powerhouses like Mastermind and the White Queen, Emma frost? For the same reason I dig him as much as I do - for being a cunning and conniving SOB.

P.S. I totally had no idea that the actor that played the unmasked Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi has the same name until I went looking up pictures of the character. That’s rather interesting.

02: Legion

One of the most fascinating characters I’ve seen in any comic at any given time. (In fact, if a project I’ve been working ever gets off the ground, you’ll see a character inspired by him.) Legion is David Charles Haller, son of Professor Charles Xavier. He’s been referred to as autistic and schzophrenic, so his actual condition isn’t clear, but its effect is - Legion employs a variety of powers determined which of his personalities is in control if his mind at that moment. At heart, he is a good person who cannot control the harm he has caused. Sympathetic and why hasn’t Marvel done more with him again? And don’t feed me that “Age of Apocalypse” crap, either - that was so 90s.

01: Deadman

Boston Brand went from cocky, self-centered trapeze performer to a wandering spirit in search of atonement and his killer with a hook for a right hand. All it took was a bullet through the chest during one of his performances and a long fall from the big top. The stories told with him and walking a fine line between the supernatural and realism hooked me ever since I first saw him. He’s about to become the CW’s follow-up to Smallville, and that should make for good television. Someone described the concept as a supernatural version of “Quantum Leap”, and I suppose that’s rather accurate, if not simplifying the character a bit. There’s a rich history and story potential that follows Boston Brand, and I’ve always been a fan of that.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Atomic Comics R.I.P.

The market for the tablet has exploded in the wake of the success of the iPad, with nearly every electronics company rushing their own models in to production. Of course, the tablet is just the right size for reading comics, and the popularity of apps such as Comixology is growing right along with the tablet market.

But, where does this leave the traditional shops? Long seen as a haven for dyed-in-the-wool nerds, many people have normally strayed away from comic shops...For most shop owners that may not know how to adapt to changing times, the announcement of same-day digital releases can be a little scary…

- Me again, Examining the DC Relaunch Part 01: The Business,

Several news bits have come out this week that have made the above statements a lot more interesting.

First of all, did you see the movie Kick Ass? Remember the comic shop the gang hung out in? That was Arizona-based Atomic Comics, one of the biggest and most popular comic shops in the country. And earlier this week, they closed their doors for good.

All About Books and Comics is working to fill the shop’s orders to customers that have been left out in the lurch. That having been said, it has to be tough to be any comic shop owner and watch one of the giants fall with virtually no warning. Makes you wonder what hope any of the other shops have.

Interestingly enough, one of the biggest threats to brick-and-mortar shops is stepping in to help out. Digital retailer ComiXology has opened more than 100 digital “storefronts” for comic shops. The move is part of ComiXology’s comic shop affiliate program to help physical shops serve online customers as well, and seems like a good move. However, some owners of physical shops don’t think ComiXology’s terms are fair at all and are afraid that this may only hasten the death of the comic shop as we know it. And would that serve as the death knell for the market itself?

There’s certainly a lot of behind-the-scenes going on right now in the comic world, and some of it looks scary. Depending what side of the coin you call on, however, the future could look pretty bright as well. All of this merits keeping an eye on, because the future of an industry...check that, a culture could be at stake.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Man of Steel" Taking Lead From DC Reboot

WARNING: SPOILERS ahead for the in-production Superman: Man of Steel.

Another reason DC may be holding out information is the current lawsuit between DC’s parent company, Warner Bros, and the heirs of Superman’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. If the lawsuit is not settled by 2013, some core elements of Superman’s origin and character become property of the estates of Siegel and Shuster. Is DC planning a pre-emptive srtrike in completely changing the world’s most recognizeable superhero?

- Me, Examining the DC Relaunch Part 03: The Heavyweights,

It was a damn set-up.

Looking back on that statement, it certainly helps make the DC Reboot make a little more sense now. Sure, that's an awful lot of change, but it goes a long way toward reigning in a little more control of the biggest character in the industry (no matter how many wanna hate, let's face facts here).

Let's get right to it. Take a look at the cover for the new Superman #1 (drawn by the legendary George Perez), coming out in September, for just a moment:

Got it? Good. Prepare to use that as a reference point, okay?

Now, some enterprising individual(s?) happened to snap some set shots of Superman: Man of Steel, due out Summer, 2013. The shots are meant to be a revelation of the character Faora, played by Antje Traue. Before you ask the question, no, I don't have a clue who she is. The actress or the character. And really, it's not important here.

And I have to say, I normally tend to ignore spoiler shots like this. They very rarely tell anything about the final product because, in the world of CGI, there's so much missing. And a photo can't say a thing about whether or not the plot's any good. However, this one I came across - and these set pics happened to tell me a lot. Not about how the movie looks or how great of a story we're in for, but more of how DC and Warner Bros plan to get around this lawsuit issue and still create a new buzz for the biggest character in comics all at the same time.

Take a good look at the set photo. Pay particular attention to the man in red and blue:

Whoa wait, what? One more time, in slow-motion:

Yeah, I think that's exactly what DC has in mind. "Freshening up characters," "relating to real-world situations," and "injecting new life" all sounds good and fine, but exerting more control over your properties - and how they're portrayed in other media - is just as important.


A coupla music videos for ya. Well, one full one and one teaser.

The full one comes from my pals Shinobi Ninja. It is the title track from their record, Rock Hood, which packs one hell of a catchy melody. But don't take my word for it...

The teaser is from the forthcoming The Browncoats Mixtape from Adam WarRock and KHill of the ThoughtCriminals. Not what I'm used to hearing from these guys at all - and it sounds so cool...

Oh, and speaking of WarRock? Feel free to head to the link above to check out (among all the other good stuff this guy unloads) the free singles he's been releasing this month, the latest being "Commedia Dell’Arte". He's unloading free stuff as part of a donation drive to help handle expenses for his upcoming tour with Random (aka Mega Ran), MC Lars and MC Chris. Go help a brotha out. And score some excellent free tunes to boot!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ThunderCats (2011) Review

If you read the next paragraph and understand completely what I’m getting at with it, you’re more than welcome to click the “Back” button and go check out other like-minded folk such as Slacker and the Man or Nerdy Show. Because if you get the references, then you’ll have the review completely summed up in a few lines. Ready? Go:

The new Thundercats show is to the old one what “The Ultimates” is to “The Avengers”. Imagine Lion-O and the crew as written by Brian Michael Bendis. Or if J Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis were put in charge of Thundera. Yeah, exactly. That’s what you’re walking in to here.

Now, if you read that and are thinking, “What in the f--” -ollow me for the rest of this and I’ll explain everything, I promise.

I can’t state enough that if you’re expecting the new Thundercats show to be just like the old with a fresh coat of graphic paint and some updated slang thrown in just to sound cool for the kids, then know now that’s not what you’re getting here at all. The original series featured Lion-O, Panthro, and the gang stranded on “Third Earth”, battling Mumm-Ra and the Mutants. Now? Much different, as the ThunderCats are actually--

Okay, hold on. I suppose I should disclose there will be MINOR SPOILERS as we go on. Nothing that will ruin the show or anything, mind you; matter of fact, everything in the next paragraph is all revealed in the first hepisode as set-up. Anything past that (as we’re now five episodes in) will only hinted at so I don’t ruin anything for you. You know, a new study has revealed that, even if I did spoil some of it for you, you wouldn’t mind. But I won’t do that. You’re welcome. Digression over.

The ThunderCats are actually on Thundera. No “crash landing on Third Earth” or any of that. Lion-O’s father, Claudus, is still alive. So is Jaga. And Tygra is his older brother. They’re both heir to the throne of Thundera, with Lion-O somehow first in line (despite the fact that he’s the younger of the two). Oh, and another change that makes the new show worth checking out almost by itself? Snarf doesn’t talk. At all. Even characters like Grune and Jaga are given character overhauls here, and every bit of it serves a point.

I could list of all the different changes made from then to now until people actually get sick of the Kardashians, but that wouldn’t begin to explain what’s going on with ThunderCats. Rather than a “reboot”, this is a complete reimagining of the series and its mythos. Executive producer Sam Register, and producers by Ethan Spaulding and Michael Jelenic (writer of Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam and producer for Batman: The Brave and the Bold) have taken great care to honor the combined elements of fantasy and sci-fi the original brought to the table. However, in keeping that flavor, they have re-written the book on these characters. No one could have imagined, 27 years ago, the depth and power these characters were capable of. All it took was putting them in a setting that was familiar to them, but one we had never seen before.

And that’s exactly what ThunderCats comes down to. Taking familiar elements and re-presenting them as if we’re seeing them for the first time. Preserving classic elements of the original show, yet turning other aspects of it completely on its ear. If you’re among the purist type and can’t stand the thought of seeing Chetara, Panthro, Slithe and the rest of the old gang tampered with, think of this as “what could have been”. What if the ThunderCats stayed on Thundera instead of being pursued by the Mutants and winding up crash-landing on Third Earth?

The answer: much more epic than we could have imagined. Tobin "Ted" Wolf would be proud of what’s become of his creations.

Then again, he may have seen this crew and given up on the whole thing.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

C3C1 Mobile - 08.11.11

On the heels of the teasers released this week (covered in
Count3rcu1ture News Desk 08.11.11), Marvel announces today Fantastic Four #600 for November - as well as another teaser in the form of the title's cover.

So…is it the Fantastic Five now?

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Count3rCu1ture News Desk - 08.11.11

Count3rCu1ture News Desk - 08.11.11

Welcome back, script kiddies. Having took a minute to recover from Nerdapalooza as well take care of some other business, I check the interwebz to find some interesting comic teasers, some great news involving a comic strip as old-school as it gets, some new (and free!, in at least one case) music to check out now and in the future, and some upheaval in one of the most prominent Nerd Music labels around. Let’s get to this...

Oh, and for those curious - yes, I made sure I checked facts this time so as not to ruin my journalistic unprofessionalism.

”Four” What?

This past Monday, August 8, was the 50th anniversary of the release of Fantastic Four #1. The book that started it all for Marvel. And what better way to celebrate than with another media teaser?

So much for
the death of Johnny Storm lasting, huh? Not so fast. A second teaser appeared the day after:

Hurrm. Looks like the current Future Foundation to me. Four total. Not a Torch in sight. So, this was something completely different then, right? Sure – until Wednesday came...

Umm, I...wait—

Yeah, Kitty. That was my initial reaction, too.

Until I thought about for a little bit. Marvel hearts them some media buzz. Kinda the same way Vince McMahon does, only Marvel honcho Joe Quesada is actually good at getting that attention. Marvel does stuff like this all the time - keep us guessing until right before the issue comes out and then drop the big news on USA Today so we’re kept talking, whether we read these books all the time or not.

And that’s what’s happening here as well. It certainly looks like Torch may be back. And as of this typing we have 2 more days of teasers to go (if Marvel follows their standard MO) to see where this might be going. I’m betting on his return, personally. If for no other reason than the date the teasers keep featuring? November 2011? Would have been when Fantastic Four #600 would be on comic stands had Marvel not re-numbered the book.


Oh man, this makes me happier than Michelle Bachmann in an insane asylum.

“Does this suit make me look crazy?”

Anyway, Titan Books has announced the publication of The Complete Flash Gordon Library. No, seriously. All of it.

Going all the way back to creator Alex Raymond’s original strips, The Complete Flash Gordon Library is a representation of every single Flash Gordon strip in existence, re-colored, remastered, and in chronological order. Each page will be 11" x 10", and each volume will feature 176-plus pages of the saviour of the universe.

All I have to say is...two things, really. One, if you see the name “Flash Gordon” and your first thought is, “who?” -- get of this site right now and go back to TMZ where you belong. Second, if anyone is looking for any Christmas ideas for yours truly, starting here would guarantee a bond.

Music for the Hard of Hearing

Several new records have come across the pike within the last week or so. A couple of these, I owe my southern brethren Z a vote of thanks for the heads-up for, as he was kind enough to share his stash. Puff, puff, give. That’s my pal. We therefore have, in chronological order...

Up first is Illbotz’s Pudding is Delicious. This actually came out way back in February. Yeah, I’m a little late to this party, but the good news it was still going strong when I arrived. There’s almost no way it couldn’t have been with Stevie D, Big Perm, and DJ Samson bobbing and weaving with nerd references galore. Even if it was just nerdy, Pudding is Delicious would still be an excellent Hip-Hop record, as Stevie D can open up like Roadblock’s .50 caliber and Samson puts together some great beats. A perfect example of the two coming together is “Stank Ass Rappas (feat. Sarah G)”, which has Stevie moving at Warp 3 over a beat made up of Men Without Hats’ “Pop Goes The World”. Excellent stuff all around, you can find it for a mere $5 (a steal!) at the Illbotz bandcamp page.

Next record came out just two days ago and is a mixtape from Shinobi Ninja. Duke Sims and Baby G are in great form, oozing sexiness and dominance all over this record. DJ Axis Powers puts together some great mash-up beats for the group to tear all over, including some heart-warming melancholy on “Downhearted” (with Suzanne Vega and Primitive Radio Gods duking it out in the background). This record has a lot going on sonically and can take several listens to take it all in. You’ll need to catch your breath after the first run, though. This is an excellent way to enter the world of the Shinobi Ninja (who is my personal pick for Nerdapalooza 2011’s Breakthrough Performer), and you can do it for absolutely Ennh Oh (that’s Michael “P.S.” Hayes-ese for “Free”) at Shinobi Ninja’s website.

Last but by no means least is Supercommuter’s Products of Science. First of all, Wheelie Cyberman, Stenobot, and Tron Juan compose “8-Bit Sci-Fi Hip-Hop”. While that has my attention right off the bat, what I really dig about this album is that this is the first time I think I’ve had my eyes opened to what the Chiptunes (8-Bit) genre is truly capable of. I love some old-school video game themes as rap backdrop as much as the next guy, but here...there’s no old-school video game themes. It’s all original compositions used for the music. I’m sure they’re not the first ones to ever compose original tunes in 8-Bit, but they’re actually the first I’ve heard do it. And the melodies they come up with are another world unto themselves. Put all that on top of great mic skills? Sold. For $10, at the Supercommuter website. Official release date on that is Tuesday, August 16, but you can hear some before hand at the link provided. Go clickie!

Scrub Club - Transform?

Holy Dogsnot, has Scrub Club Records had a hell of a week.

The Hip-Hop label and Nerdcore beacon is undergoing some serious roster changes. The good news is that the label has signed Torrentz and Soup Or Villainz (which you saw announced on this very site).

Now, the bad news? Oh, man. Scrub Club has lost (between August 7 and now): Powerlifter, Krondor Krew / Shinobi MC (not to be confused with Shinobi Ninja), Dr. Awkward, ZeaLouS 1, Shammers, Lefthand, and Jay Bishop.

That seems a lot of bleeding, but label head MadHatter has confirmed on the label’s Facebook page that, “here's the artists for sure sticking around on Scrub Club: MadHatter, Kabuto The Python, HDninja, Dale Chase, Torrentz, Untested Methods, Soup or Villainz, Emergency Pizza Party, Deafinition, and King Pheenix.” To further elaborate on what the hell’s going on, Hatter announced with the departure of Lefthand and Bishop that, “ Now the roster is final!” - alluding to an earlier post that explained what the hell is going on:

“Oh, there will be plenty artists. We're in the process of switching gears a bit, and really pushing a few core values to the limit. Some are down for it, some are not. But Scrub Club continues on, stronger than ever with what we've got brewing. No worries!”

So, it seems that there’s more news to come from Scrub Club regarding the future of the label, which apparently involves a plan. I think I may try and get a hold of MadHatter himself and see if we can get to the bottom of what’s going on.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Morning Coming Down 08.07.11: Paul McCartney and Journalistic Espionage - Blogcritics Music

This could get uglier than the divorce...

You can't really see it now, but I screwed up pretty bad here.

I made a pretty big error in referring to Heather Mills as Linda McCartney. I wasn't 100% sure how that happened, but I now chalk it up to familiarity. I know the name Linda McCartney, but I know much less of Heather Mills. Regardless, it was my error and I'll own it. So be it.

I'm sure quite a few readers might want me gone, and that's okay, too. Please feel free to go back and listen to the 08.02.11 edition of "The Real Congregation" for an answer to that.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman

No face mask with ears? I'm actually in favor of that. The goggles are a plus toward the more realistic feel and design. And is she ganking Batman's bike? That's too funny.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

C3C1 Mobile: Henry Cavill as Superman

Henry Cavill as Superman. No way of telling which costume design they went with quite yet, but he fills out the suit well based solely on this. Looking forward to more.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Death and the Marketplace: Amy Winehouse, Jay-Z and Kanye West - Blogcritics Music

Thoughts on the passing of Amy Winehouse and rap's biggest duo make retailers mad.

Bear in mind as you read this that, while most of the form and content is indeed mine and I won't shy away from or disown from that, that there are some changes made to this article that I was not notified. For the most part they're so minor it's really inconsequential, but one or two are a little more important.

I just wanted that put out there before any heat I may get from this starts warming up. If I'm gonna be yelled at, I'd at least like it to be for the right reasons.