Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nightwing #1-9

Hi, kids. 

Nightwing.  The mere mention of him makes me think about this It also makes me think about reading 9 issues of Nightwing all in one sitting.  

Without getting into spoiler-type review writing, I am going to keep this simple.  Nightwing is an excellent comic.  Great characterization, great art, and great storytelling.  Written by Kyle Higgins, and drawn by Eddy Barrows and Andres Guinaldo, they are taking Nightwing into some interesting territory.  The first arc spans 7 issues, and deals with Dick Grayson inheriting Haly's Circus.  He explores his history, and gets to experience a little betrayal thrown in for good measure.

Barbara Gordon, back as Batgirl, makes an appearance in the story, and the dynamic between her and Dick is always fun to read.  If any two characters in comics should be a "couple", it's these two.

Issues 8 and 9 deal with the big Bat-crossover "Night of the Owls".  Thankfully, the stories were self-contained to Nightwing, as opposed to buying 73 other Bat-titles to know what in the hell was going on.  Night of the Owls is another look into the Grayson family, and Dick gets to meet a long lost relative.  

Excellent stuff, to be sure.  My only complaint, and it's a small one, is the costume.  Replacing the lighter blue accent is a red one, and while it doesn't look bad, the blue was better, in my opinion.  Again, who really cares?  The art and story is excellent.

5 out of 5 circus freaks.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Comic Shops, Volume II

Greetings, fine people of the internet!  Last time we (I) talked about Comic Book stores.  Specifically Dragon's Lair in Omaha.  Since I no longer live in Omaha, I have to find someplace that will keep my addiction alive.  Here in central Iowa, you may assume I am talking about crystal meth, but it's a comic blog, after all.  

When I moved away from Omaha, I went to Amarillo, Texas, and found a nice store, Big Apple Comics.  Great store, and had everything I needed being away from home.  From Amarillo back to Omaha for a short time, and then off to Bloomington, Indiana.  We lived there for only a year, and I cannot remember the store's name.  A search on the internet shows a downtown store called Vintage Phoenix Comic Books I think that was the place.  I remember it being dark.

In 1999, we finally settled in West Des Moines, Iowa.  Naturally, my first task was to find a suitable comic shop.  Apartment hunting and groceries could wait.  I found Dragon Fire Comics in Clive, Iowa.  The Des Moines area consists of Des Moines and about 693 different towns that all hang out with Des Moines...Clive being one of them.  I went there for years, and they closed up.  Little did I know that Mayhem Comics and Games was just down the road.

I am not sure what was first, the Ames location or the one in Clive, but I think we should all just be happy they are there.  I have not been to the Ames location because I don't live there.  Pretty simple strategy, really.  I don't frequent comic stores in Pakistan or Tibet, either.  I cannot begin to tell you how glad I am I frequent Mayhem.

Stolen logo from the internet
Let's start with the store.  Spacious, CLEAN (which is why my wife will go in with me), and just full of new comics, trade paperbacks, and a decent stock of back issues keep me interested.  They have a TV set up in the shop that always has something awesome on, whether it is a comic or sci-fi film, it is always just nice to hear it as I shop.  

Let me stop right here for a minute for one of my typical sidebars (I will keep this one short): whoever came up with "syfy" (cable channel) needs to be beaten within an inch of their life.  I'll gladly help.  The channel is fine, but don't get all cutesy with your channel name.  

Sorry.  Back to my favorite place in central Iowa.  If you are a gamer, which I am not, there is a HUGE game room attached to the store, and there is always activity there.  They do have a wide selection of games, from Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons, a lot of other RPG's, and a ton of different board games.  In short, it doesn't get much better than this.  Magic is actually a great game, and I play it on my Xbox360 with my good friend Marcus.  I have to be honest, I'd like to play at Mayhem, but my problem is I am not that competitive and do not care at all if I win or lose, I just like to play.  Some of these guys look like they take their gaming pretty seriously.

Okay, so we have established that the content of the store is varied and extremely awesome, what about the service?  Sadly, I only know one name, Jeremy.  He is super nice, approachable, and will chat with you.  While I may not know the names of the other guys (or gals) that work there, they have always been great, and that is much more important than anything else.  Service keeps me coming back every single week, and the service is 7 out of 5 stars.  

I have been going there since Dragon Fire shut down, and will go there as long as I am able.  This store gets it right in every aspect, and am glad to be able to give them my hard-earned cash.

On Facebook, and on the web you can find them at so visit the links, and more importantly, visit the store.  

Next blog: Nightwing!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Comic Shops, Volume I

In the 1970's, the only place I knew of to get comics was the 7-11 a few blocks away.  There I could get my fix of Green Lantern, Batman, and the Fantastic Four.  If I had extra allowance I would throw in some Spider-Man.  We left Omaha for another town, and my comics mysteriously vanished in the move.  Chalk it up to some elaborate scheme involving international terrorists led by some elite sniper named Helmut.  It's been many years, but I will have my revenge.

Anyway, when I was 20, a guy at work and I were talking comics, and I was reminiscing while he was talking all about his collection.  At the time, I was heavy into NBA basketball (don't ask me why), and could understand his fanaticism.  He asked me if I had heard of Dragon's Lair.  I hadn't.  In my head I was thinking, "Dude, I don't want to join some quest or anything."

We went over to the Dragon's Lair on Blondo in Omaha.  Life as I knew it got radically more expensive.  Comics everywhere.  New comics, old comics, 25-cent comics, and big giant comics that collected entire stories.  I decided then and there I would risk being single for the rest of my natural life.  Fortunately, my then-girlfriend has since married me, and is STILL with me today.  Do NOT tell her how much of a mistake she has made.  Seriously.

I lived in Omaha for years, frequenting Dragon's Lair a minimum of once a week, and spent literally thousands of dollars.  That money is represented in the form of long boxes stored in a remote location where Helmut and his band of nefarious killers will not be able to get to it.

If you are reading this blog, you are either a comic fan, my wife, or some friend or family member who is looking for material to make fun of me with at some point.  If you are a comic fan and are in the Omaha area, I cannot say enough good things about Dragon's Lair.  They now have two locations, and both are excellent resources for all of your comic needs.

If you are looking for something you need, ask for Craig out in the Millard location.  Sadly, after 22 years, I do not know Craig's last name, and if I did, I wouldn't post it here, but a nicer guy cannot be found.  Having moved away, I now frequent another store (I'll review that one in the next installment), but if I am missing anything, or am looking for something, Craig and Dragon's Lair have never let me down.  They have even held stuff for me until I came back to Omaha for a visit. 

I love the shop I go to now, but Dragon's Lair is on my list of things to do when I am back home.  Every time I am back, I will buy something I do not need, just as my own goofy way of saying thanks.  Thanks to Bob at Blondo for the hard work and great place to go read about super-heroes.  Thanks to Craig for always taking the time to talk to customers.  BIG thanks to Craig for introducing me to Mike Grell's run on Green Arrow.  I got to meet Mike Grell a few years ago, and that was excellent.

Go spend money there, now!

Dragon's Lair Facebook:
Dragon's Lair website:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Comic Book Movies: The Bad

So...let's start with The Avengers.  

Har!  I crack me up.  I loved everything about The Avengers, but am going to use it as an example in this scientific examination of comic book movies and why they can be a little irritating.

Origins and Reboots

The thing that we, the audience, has to know is how and why our hero came to be enamored with costumes.  What is their motivation?  Why are they turning to a life of fighting people who dress like scarred clowns, have Red Skulls, or are named Obidiah Stain?  I mean, Tony Stark is a genius, am I to believe that he did not know that a guy with the name Obidiah Stain was not a douchebag?  Let's be real.

Seriously, I understand the need, especially in a movie, to provide the necessary background to explain the character.  If you want wide appeal, then it is important to follow the old formula.  Let's go out on a limb here.

Everyone knows Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man.  Don't get me wrong, Nolan's Bat-films are awesome, and I have enjoyed them very much, but what pisses me off is what will happen the NEXT time someone wants to make a Batman film.  Prior to Nolan's Batman, George Clooney barely escaped an attempted murder charge when he wore the Bat-suit.  Attempting to kill a beloved pop-culture icon just isn't cool, Clooney.  Now go bang some ridiculously hot model.

The upcoming Spider-Man film looks promising, but if I have to sit through more than an hour of origin re-telling, I am liable to take my shirt off and scare away theater patrons.  Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man movies grossed over 2 BILLION at the box office.  That means just about everyone in a developed nation has seen it.  We know who he is.

The Avengers hit a home run, has been well-received by critics, and guess what?  We didn't sit through what feels like weeks of origin rehashing.  There were tidbits of dialogue that explained it perfectly.  

The Dead Waynes, my new indie band name.
Movie studios assume the audience is stupid, for the most part.  They forget we saw Spider-man 1, 2, and 3.  In 5 years when Batman is rebooted, I am going to have to watch Thomas and Martha get shot.  Again.  These two poor saps have been killed on screen more than anyone.  It's like Groundhog Day.  I wake up every morning and see Bruce Wayne's parents murdered.

Superman Returns was widely considered a failure.  They had the premise, however, right.  They didn't need a one hour expose' on who the hell Superman is.  They just screwed it up by giving Superman a super kid, and having him creep Lois Lane like a crazy stalker.  Had they stopped the movie after the plane rescue at the beginning, I would have said, that was an awesome 20 minute film!!!  

So to all my friends in the movie industry (zero), please take note of The Avengers.  A comic book movie the way it should be.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Comic Book Movies

Hello internet.  Just a couple days away from the domestic premier of The Avengers.  I am extremely excited for this one.  On my iTouch, I have The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, and Thor on my video playlist.  Iron Man is coming.

This movie seems to be getting very positive reviews from critics, as well as fans overseas.  I am ready for the midnight showing, and so is my understanding wife.

In general, comic movies are my favorite, because I am a complete nerd.  At my age, I am completely fine with that.  So let's do a quick rundown of our friends from Marvel's premier super team.

Captain America: If you haven't been reading Brubaker's Cap over in the comics, cast shame upon your house and slice off a pinky or something.  That book is consistently amazing.  As a character, Cap is kind of the boy scout, with a Superman-esque attitude and idealism.  In the Captain America movie, Chris Evans did an excellent job playing Johnny Storm Steve Rogers.  Granted, I was a little hesitant knowing that the part of cap went to Johnny Storm.  That said, I feel like the movie was phenomenal.  Fun stuff!  

The Hulk: After two movies, the Ang Lee disaster and the recent one featuring Edward Norton, we have had what most people would call dismal to mediocre exposure to the Hulk on the big screen.  Personally, I felt that Ang Lee's Hulk was good in parts, but just didn't cut the mustard.  The recent Hulk movie I enjoyed very much.  To each their own.  I have read that Hulk steals every scene he is in.  HULK SMASH.

Thor: Excellence.  The movie was excellent.  Kat Dennings aside, Thor was just one of the most enjoyable comic films I have ever seen.

Yes, there is a higher power.
Iron Man: I can't picture anyone else as Tony Stark.  Robert Downey Jr. is simply amazing in the role.  Iron Man 2 may have had a goofy-ass Mickey Rourke in it, but Downey is a genius, with probably the best verbal delivery this side of Ric Flair.  Huh?!?!

Hawkeye: Our exposure to him was the cameo in Thor.  I hope he blows some shit up with some explosive arrows.

Insanely hot Scarlett Johannson is Black Widow.  Personally I could watch 2 hours of Scarlett taking a nap and feel like I got my money's worth.  Rawr.

Nick Fury: Samuel Jackson finally gets more than one scene!  I hope there are no snakes on any planes.  

I hope this movie does ridiculously well at the box office and is critically acclaimed.  It just helps the genre.  Go see it multiple times.  I know I will.

Next blog: what drives me nuts about comic book movies.  Where there is good, there is also bad.  Very bad.