Monday, December 31, 2007


I mentioned in my comments to Mike the other day, when talking about my new iPod, that I use for doing downloads. There was a number of reasons why I chose this route to go.

First, the downloads are in MP3 format without any controlling file like iTunes does. So, I can use the download on any MP3 player I chose as it is a standard format. Also, I can put it on as many devices as I like (iTunes controls the number of computers their downloads can reside on to five boxes maximum). I liked the portability aspect.

Second, the price was right. I started out getting 50 free downloads for signing up. Then I could chose my own monthly price level: $9.95 for 25 downloads, $14.95 for 50 downloads, $19.95 for 75 downloads. That seemed like a nice counterpoint to 99 cents per song. Yeah, I'm frugal. The only downside: when your month clicks over, your remaining downloads do not rollover. So, you must use or lose.

Third, eMusic does remember what you've downloaded previously. And as long as your account remains active, you can re-download those songs you downloaded before without any additional cost. So if you accidentally delete the file, you can get it back quick. I like that too.

One negative about eMusic is that it is not supported by the four major record labels. So, you are not likely to find the latest and greatest releases from Sony, Warner, BMG, etc. here. What you will find is a lot of independent label stuff and a lot of older material from smaller labels of the 50's, 60's and 70's. That works well for me - as right now I am filling in holes in the 60's and such for my music library.

I've already eaten up my 50 free downloads and the 50 a month for my first month (I roll over again on the 15th). In the meantime, I'm going through my Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits making my list for the future. I'm only in the middle of the C's and I already have 80 tunes on my to-pull list. I think this will be a nice source for me for quite a few months to come.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Comics in December pt. 10

Countdown to Adventure #5 - Okay, first a misleading cover (not a good sign). Animal Man gets most of the focus in the lead this issue as he makes an attempt to cleanse the plague from San Diego. Some nice character moments in the story, but the ending was pretty telegraphed. So, that'll leave it up to a depowered Starfire to figure out how to fix things - most likely with Adam Strange's help - over the next few issues. The Forerunner back-up seemed very disjointed for some reason, and it only served the purpose to show how much of a tough character she's supposed to be. Yawn. I'm thinking the lead and back-up will collide by the end of issue 7 (just a hunch).

Countdown Arena #4 - this final issue of the mini-series spotlights the battle of the Supermen. While a good battle, it doesn't solve much. One ends up dead, one ends up fleeing so he can come back later (in Final Crisis) with an army, and one ends up in Monarch's army by default. Oh, and Monarch dukes it out with his 51 dopplegangers - the Captain Atoms of the multiverse. Amazing how quickly he takes them all out. This whole mini-series was sort of a fan-boy dream - pitting different versions of characters in battle to see who would be top dog. Kind of like those "x versus y" threads that end up on message boards. Something to consider for a few seconds but in the end pointless. Much like this mini-series. Ah well.

Teen Titans Go! #50 - the animated Titans team hits a milestone number, and starts out with an awesome jam-cover by Todd Nauck. Inside, the story is simple but it tells a lesson - one that Private Hive never seemed to get the first time around from Robin. Robin learns something too and puts in motion some plans that should give the writers of the book more concepts to work with in future issues. I like that. We get a glimpse of some "familiar" characters that'll be new to this Titans-verse as well - again hopefully folks who get touched upon in future issues.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Comics in December pt. 9

Another huge week - seems the companies are pushing out the items before 2007 ends. So, here's another trio reviewed from yesterday's pick-up:

JSA Classified #33 - this is the second part of the Green Lantern (Alan Scott) holiday tale. In the last issue, Vandal Savage taunted GL by stealing GL's powers and "resurrecting" GL's daughter Jade through the lifeforce of a small girl. Anyone who knows classic heroes knows how this one would end, as did I, but the writer was going for the emotional tug to reach that end. It didn't quite ring as true to me as it should have. Ah well.

Teen Titans #54 - finally the end of the "Titans of Tomorrow...Today" storyline. Man, was this all drawn out. Yeah, I know, this is the age of the trade paperback so stories often get pulled out to four parts. But this one did not benefit from that. At least the art by Eddy Barrows and company (the book had three pencillers total and four inkers, but it was pretty seamless through out) was okay.

Countdown to Final Crisis #18 - we haven't seen him since he vanished at the end of Identity Crisisbut now, finally, we learn where Ray Palmer went and what he's been up to. The entire issue is devoted to this and the story makes perfect sense all the way around. Kudos. If you're a fan of the silver age Atom, this is a must-read issue (oh, and that cliffhanger ending will want you to read next issue too). The villain two-page origin in the back is of Dr. Light who is the catalyst of all the Identity Crisis events too - so that is rather fitting to put his story in this issue as well.

Friday, December 28, 2007

6000 and Counting!

For Christmas, both my wife and I got iPod classic 80 gig models. After we got our son the iPod Nano for his birthday in October, we thought they were very cool and wanted ones for ourselves. Now we have them.

Now, to be fair, I have been preparing for this for a few months now. A number of years back I had already made CDs with MP3 files of songs from 1972 to 1983 (one CD per year with songs burned from my CD collection in radio-quality format allowing for a couple hundred per CD). So, I had a nice start to building my iTune library on my laptop computer.

The next step took a bit longer - which was going through all the rest of the CDs in the house and importing those as well. This included a number of years worth of free music CDs that came as part of a magazine called CMJ New Music Monthly which I had subscribed to since January of 1995; each issue came with a CD sampler with 20 or so songs on it of various types.

So, I've now brought in songs ranging from 1960 to today, for a grand total of over 6000 songs. Whew! The artists range from Aaliyah to ZZ Top with many varied performers inbetween. Genres from rock to pop, R&B to country, jazz to ska are represented. I even have holiday tunes, separated to their own play-list for easy access next year.

Needless to say, I love my iPod. Being able to listen to music at night just before bed takes me back to my youth - of lying in the dark with the headphones on listening to the radio. I put the iPod on shuffle and it's just like the radio days gone by. Only difference - the headphones aren't those giant clucky ones that looked like two Princess Leia hair-buns on your ears. LOL.

I love being able to carry my music wherever I go too. For a gift, I also got a car-converter that allows me to tune into my radio and play my iPod while it charges. That'll come in handy for long car trips.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Finally Read - JLA: Earth-2

Thanks to the local Hickory library, I was able to read another graphic novel that I previously had not read. This time it was JLA: Earth-2 - written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Frank Quitely.

Now, there were a couple reasons why I had not picked this up before. When it first came out, it came out at a $25 hardcover. I'm sorry, but I could not justify shelling out the cash for a first-time comic in hardcover. Nope, no way. It came out a few years later in paperback, but by then the creative teams on JLA had changed a bit so the story would have been out of place to read. Still, even for $15 I was not springing for it. Luckily, with the library, it was free.

The second reason is that it was part of Morrison's run. Now, I'm not one of those folks who think he was the second-coming to the League. His run, in my opinion, was good but not that great. I've been reading the League non-stop since the 70's - plus I've read all the early days stuff too - and Grant's stuff just doesn't do it for me.

As for this story, it started out okay. Earth-2 is a telling of a tale of an alternate Earth where evil triumphs mostly over good. This has been done before, in the JLA comics way back in the 60's with Earth-3 as well as in other forms of sci-fi - like Star Trek's mirror-universe, for example. So, the concept wasn't that original. Again, some of the story elements in this tale were interesting - but the story started to fall apart as the end quickly approached. I definitely did not like the conclusion - that the JLA would just throw their hands in the air and let things go back to how they were with the Crime Syndicate running things as they always had on their world.

So, for me, I was glad to have not spent a cent on this story. That would have been a penny too much for me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wild for Wings

This morning, my son and I had a special outing. First, we hit the local GameSpot and Best Buy stores to spend a little of the cash we got for Christmas on some new games. Second, though, was a lunch stop to one of our favorite restaurants here in town - Buffalo Wild Wings.

It seems that on weekdays from 11am until 2pm, they have a special. All you can eat wings and buffalo chips (potato disks-like-fries) for $9.99 per person. So, we decided to go for some good eating. They started us out each with a dozen wings. Okay, no problem there. Usually when we go he and I split an order of 18 wings - nine apiece. So, eating three more was no issue. After the first round, we decided to get a bit more. They bring the additional ones out six at a time. So, we each got another six.

Well, I managed to get eaten my seventeenth wing before I was full. My twelve-year old son, who was so sure he could keep up, got full after his fifteenth. So much for the kid besting the old man (for now...).

It was a nice father-son bonding moment on our vacation.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Comics in December pt. 8

Batman and the Outsiders #3 - despite a misleading cover (four of the seven figures on the cover do not appear in the issue in action), this was a solid issue. Chuck Dixon, the writer, is shaping this book up nicely as a new must-read title. I've enjoyed the first three issues enough to permanently add it to my pull list.

Justice League of America #16 - this issue wasn't so hot for me. The lead tale, behind another midleading cover of sorts, was really a prelude to another upcoming mini-series. I was hoping for more meat with the Tangent Universe characters, but this issue was not it. The back-up tale was so-so; I didn't like the art much.

Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #9 - another good, done-in-one read. This comic continues to expand nicely on the animated LSH universe from the cartoons. Great art too.

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

I am hoping that everyone has a safe, wonderful Christmas - whether you're home nestled all warm with your family or travelling across state/country to visit the ones you love.

For us, we've had two of our three Christmas celebrations so far.

The first was on Saturday. We drove 2 1/2 hours each way to visit my parents and brother for the day. While the visit was short, we did have time for two meals together, some exchanging of gifts, and a chance to just sit and talk.

The second was for our immediate household of three last night. After a wonderful dinner made by my wife, we went to the 9pm Christmas Vigil at the church. When we got home, it was time to open a few presents - that way our 12 year old wouldn't have us up at the crack of dawn to see what was under the tree. That was a lot of fun.

This afternoon, it is a short drive twenty minutes to my inlaws' house. There we'll do dinner and a few more presents.

So take time today and this holiday season to remember what is important to you. Spend that time with family and good friends.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Changing Plans

Well, our holiday plans shifted a bit last week due to some unexpected auto expenses and a vetinary experience with our youngest dog. Actually, it was the later that did it - we could not board her for a week after she had to spend four nights at the vet due to some intestinal issues. So, we're sticking closer to home for the holidays.

We turned our weekend trip to my parents' house into a day-trip yesterday. 2 1/2 hour drive each way (left 8am and home by 9pm) but we had a good time. It had been a number of months since we saw my folks. Did lunch, gift exchange, socializing and dinner. My in-laws came by to walk our dogs mid-day which helped make that period a little more bearable for the four-legged family members.

I ended up getting Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End on DVD as a gift along with some spending money. Most likely I'll use the later to pick up some CDs of music after Christmas.

Our trip to Atlanta next week has been put off, unfortunately. My in-laws will bring the gifts down to the neices and nephews there though.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Haven't Missed TV

With the Writers' Strike continuing and the usual holiday rerun-fest, I haven't turned on the TV in days. Sure, I taped Best Year Ever last Friday night and watched it Saturday, but that's about it. I even have the taped finale of America's Most Smartest Model sitting on the DVR since Sunday night - but I have yet to actually blip-blip-blip through it. I have to wonder - will this break really break me from regular TV watching again? We'll see.

Now, granted, Monday night we did spend a nice evening at my son's school. It was the annual holiday Choir and Band show. This is my son's first year in the band (he plays the French Horn). I have to admit that the 7th grade band sounded pretty good all together - especially since most of them are new to band and have only been playing for the past four months since school started. I found it to be a very enjoyable program.

Comics in December pt. 7

The Search for Ray Palmer: Superwoman/Batwoman - I had high hopes for this one-shot that would be taking the Challengers to a world where the genders were reverse (this world's "Superman" and "Batman" were women, this world's "Wonder Woman" was a man, etc.). It harkened back to a Superman comic from the late 70's when Mr. Mxyzptlk tried to confuse Superman by magically changing every he to a she and vice versa. Well, this one-shot really only had the gender changes going for it. Other than that, it was 22 pages of mostly yawns. I am so glad the Challengers will be finding Ray Palmer next week in Countdown.

Speaking of, Countdown to Final Crisis #19 - another so-so issue. Mostly it centered on the Pied Piper dragging around and talking to the Trickster's corpse. Sure, we get some of the goings-on at Paradise Island and some Jimmy Olsen stuff too, but mostly it was just so-so for me. Not very festive in a holiday mood.

Countdown: Arena #3 - the weekly slugfest continues. This issue we see the captives trying to organize against Monarch, again. We also see the short fight between the 'Starman' of three worlds, a medium fight between three 'Flash' and a nice knock-down fight between three 'Wonder Woman'. The mini series ends next week so I am looking for some kind of bigger pay-off. We'll see if I get a nice present for New Years or not.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Comics in December pt. 6

Finally, I'm caught up!

Captain Carrot and the Final Ark #3 - this issue concludes the mini-series and, it would appear, provides a final fate of the cast of the Zoo Crew. I admit, I was annoyed when I read the final pages of this comic for I felt that some favorite characters of mine were forever dumped on the trash-heap. However, I then read some comments by the creators on the DC Comics Message Boards. Scott Shaw and Bill Morrison did say that management wanted them to have a particular ending to the mini, but both creators feel optimistic that they can use this as a launching point should enough fans demand to see more of the Captain and his cohorts. And they seem eager to do more as well. But will it happen? If it doesn't, is this indeed the final 'arc'? I fear it might be. I hope that fear is proved wrong.

Booster Gold #5 - last month I was wowed by the possibility of what the final page of issue 4 showed. Could Booster stop Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) from being left wheel-chair-bound after the fateful attack by the Joker from a decade old story? I had hoped so. I really really had. But, like Booster, I got to learn the hard and fast rule - that not all past events can be altered. Some things are set in stone. To me, that's management speak for 'we aren't rocking the boat that much'. Still, I have to say this was a good issue in how it told that story and how Booster had to learn the hard way that not every thing in the past can be changed. But that begs the question: where is this series going to go if all Booster and company can do is fix time-glitches that aren't supposed to happen? It could get very dull very fast. I hope the creative team of Johns and Jurgens have some ideas on how to keep the franchise vital after the well-planned and engaging opening arc. The true test of any new title is can it keep the level up into the third, fourth or fifth story arcs. We'll see.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Comics in December pt. 5

Continuing to work through the pile...

Justice Society of America #11 - the next chapter in the "Thy Kingdom Come" storyline. Mostly we get the JSA and JLA validating this elder Superman's claim that he is who he says he is and is from where he says he is from (a destroyed universe). They conclude his word is true and his intentions are good. And from his thought-narrations, it appears that way as well. So, that leaves me wondering "what's the big hook/payoff of this arc?". Clearly another shoe has got to fall at some point. I expect that Geoff Johns and Alex Ross. The question is what and when. I am hoping for a huge payoff from these two. The art by Dale Ealgesham is wonderful, as always.

Salvation Run #2 - the second part of this seven part mini-series kicks the story up a notch. We get some deaths of villains (as expected) and we get the Joker in an outstanding scene where he shows why he's someone even other villains fear in the DCU. Very nicely if not brutally done. And, of course, we get to see what happens when Lex Luthor drops into this exile party. Lex does what he does best, and he shows he'll lead through a different sort of method. So, the lines seem to be forming - and I predict a big villain war on this death-world before it is all through. Who survives to make it back to Earth? I think half the fun will be who we get shocked with seeing NOT make it home, and why. You need to be reading this book!

Company Christmas Cruise

Last night we had to do a company Christmas party - it was for my wife's company, not mine. The party was a dinner cruise on nearby Lake Norman. Now, normally that would have been fun - especially if the warmer weather had stayed with us. No such luck. It was cold (in the 30's) and rainy. So we spent most of the time inside the two-tiered boat or on the covered deck outside.

Still, it was a fun party. Dinner was very late (it was like 8:30 before we got fed - an hour into the trip). Good thing we stopped for a burger on the way to tide us over. The food was okay - typical buffet items of salmon, turkey, chicken, corn, rice with beans and a choice of two deserts (key-lime pie and cheesecake).

There was a cash-bar so naturally there was some drinking. As designated-driver, I had water. That made it interesting to watch and observe the others around me who did imbibe. Saw some interesting things(!). And, of course, since I don't work with these people or know who's who, it made it like people-watching of strangers.

Still, it was a nice night out - to get dressed up and have adult conversations around dinner with other couples.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Comics in December pt. 4

Continuing the pile of books showing up this month (man, there have been a lot!):

Countdown to Final Crisis #20 - Okay, four really good issues in a row meant we were due for a bit of clunker. This week's book was it. Despite the wonderful art by Howard Porter, the story was back to hitting each of the main characters for two to three pages each. Yawn. Momentum is quickly losted faster than the Pied Piper lugging around the Trickster's corpse (I'm still stinging from that death - but now it's getting morbid and not in a funny "Weekend at Bernie's" sort of way). I hope things pick up again soon.

Countdown: Arena #2 - the slaughter-fest continues this week with showdowns between trios of Rays, Blue Beetles and Green Lanterns. I liked the touch of telling us which of the 52 Earths each of the heroes comes from. It helps to map out the Multiverse a bit better. Some of the combatants were familiar or vaguely familiar. Others had interesting twists. Some of these death-fights though were pretty gruesome. I'm really glad this book only runs for four issues - all this month. While this is an okay as a one-time-deal story, I wouldn't want to see a steady diet of this.

Tales of the Green Lantern Corps: Ion - this one-shot kind of serves as an epilogue of sorts to the recent "Sinestro War" arc in the GL titles. Mostly, it focuses on the passing of the torch between Kyle Raynor and the Daxamite who is to serve as the new host of Ion. I picked it up to go with the other GL book this week, but I wasn't all that thrilled with it. It was just okay for me.

Green Lantern #25 - this was THE book for me this week! Man, what an awesome conclusion to an awesome story arc. We get a super-sized issue with some gorgeous double-page panels - the art was fantastic through-out (and well worth the few weeks delay in schedule). We get a ton of action and a conclusion worthy of any Hollywood blockbuster epic. We get guest-heroes (which should be there when a huge invasion hits the Earth). We get some nice family moments between Hal and his brother, as well as Coast City showing their love for the hometown legend. We get heroes fighting without their rings - because in the end it isn't the power that makes a hero a hero. We see see the villains - Cyborg-Superman, Prime, the Anti-Monitor and Sinestro - all get served, as well they should. We get it all! And we get hints of what's to come - as the next major GL landmark event will be coming in the summer of 2009. I guarantee the build up over the next year and a half will be amazing. Geoff Johns has proven once more his love for these characters and that he has the ability to build upon the foundations of the past while moving the whole pantheon to the next level.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Doesn't Feel Like Christmas Yet

First, I feel bad for everyone in the midwest that got slammed by the ice storms and such this week. That is just horrible conditions. I hope things improve there soon.

Meanwhile, here in NC, it hardly feels like Christmas time. The highs this week have been in the 70's. Now, I'm not asking for snow and ice - God forbid as Southerners just freak out at the mere chance of flakes. No, I wouldn't mind a little drop in temperature - perhaps a brisk upper 40's or so with a gentle, crisp breeze.

I hear we're supposed to get some weather from the North pushing down on us later in the week. That would be nice. Just to have the feeling of Christmas back in NY, without all the slush, muck and such.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Comics in December pt. 3

Continuing the pile of books from the last week of November and first week of December:

The Search for Ray Palmer: Red Son - this one-shot in the series of one-shots in search of the Atom was just so-so for me. I never read the Elseworlds Red Son book, wherein Superman's rocket lands in Moscow instead of America. So, this Soviet super-friends-slugfest wasn't all that exciting for me. It really was a lot of filler - I should have passed it up.

Justice League of America #15 - the final part of the new creative team's opening arc was just okay. Any time you have such a huge confrontation set up - the Justice League versus this new Injustice League - it has a good chance of falling apart due to too many players involved. Sure, there were nice character bits and such but the villains were beat too easily given their emassed power. I guess my expectation levels were a bit too high. The offering of JLA membership to a certain hero was an unexpected surprise, for me, but I guess it works. Every new writer wants to pepper the team with characters they are interested in, so this team really isn't an exception in doing so. Here's hoping the next storyline has a bit more meat than a couple huge brawls.

Countdown to Adventure #4 - In the lead tale, the creative team shows us how resourceful Adam Strange can be even when his back is up against the wall. Despite having no powers, we are shown that he is a true hero in every sense of the word - fighting his way through a building of enemies. We also get a little bit with Animal Man and Starfire, the later whom I hope gets her powers back soon. The art on this lead feature was very nice as well. In the back-up, Forerunner keeps plodding along and showing she can't get along with anyone. I'm curious as to what role she'll be playing in the big Final Crisis next year; she's given all this set-up storyline so it needs to payoff at some point.

Death of the New Gods #3 - part three in this epic by Jim Starlin and company was enjoyable. The art fits the grand epic nature of this "twilight" of the Gods storyline. About the only thing that might make this more enjoyable would be to read this entire tale in one fell-swoop. However, it is such a good story that waiting for the trade would be too much torture for me.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Films We'd Like To See

Someone posted this link on a board I visit - so I don't know how long it's been around. Still, it comes across as a comic book movie I know I'd like to see!

Comics in December pt. 2

Continuing the plow through the comic pile from the last two weeks:

Countdown to Final Crisis #22 and #21 - wow! I am so glad I actually had stacked up two weeks of this mini series back to back. The final nine pages of #22 and the first three page of #21 were very powerful. And they include the final fate of a character I have enjoyed for decades. I was moved. Overall, I am happy with the way this mini series has tightened up its act over the past month or so. We are getting issues more tightly focused on one or two plotlines - as the whole plot ramps up towards a huge payoff in just a few months.

Teen Titans #53 - part three of a storyline I am getting bored with. I think the dragging of it out for four parts is hurting this one, especially when those four parts take four months to get out. One the plus side, I am loving the artwork by Eddy Barrows and Rob Hunter. These two make a great team.

the All-New Atom #18 - part two of the Atom/Wonder Woman team up. I enjoyed this a lot - thanks to Gail Simone's writing. She is bridging nicely from the character whose book she started and the character with whom she is taking over the writing chores. I think I might have to check out her work on Wonder Woman if this is how she writes the Amazon. And that last page - a nice payoff! I can wait to see Ryan's answer to the question.

Countdown Arena #1 - this is part one of a four week mini series. It basically pits three versions of various characters against one another in a Roman gladiator type competition. Three walk into the arena - one survives. The prize? To become a member of the Monarch's super-army. Fighting is not an option - you do or you die. I like the concept. What didn't thrill me so much was the artwork by Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens. It seemed too cartoony for something this intense and heavy. Give me someone like Perez and Jimenz on this book - that would have been awesome! Ah well. It is only four issues so I'll keep it on the list.

Parental Moments

I had two moments yesterday, as a parent, that filled me with two different emotions.

The first was pride. Yesterday, my son as part of his boy scouts program volunteered for two hours to be a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army at the local mall. He was there with another scout and an adult scoutmaster. This is part of his community service work to achieve his next level in scouts. It was very rewarding as a parent to see him out there, gladly ringing the bells and wishing people a "Merry Christmas" - whether they donated or not.

The second was concern. Last night, my son got a text message from a friend of his in class to go check out a YouTube video. My wife was there with him and checked it out with him. Turns out the video was of a bunch of girls the same age as the boys - at a pajama party, cavorting around and being silly. What was concerning was the girls in the video were classmates of my son and his friend. Twelve year old girls - putting video of themselves up on YouTube. One of the girls was the daughter of friends right across the street. And she was the one who told my son's friend how to find the video (word is she has a crush on him). Now, I didn't see the video - my wife said there wasn't anything sexual about it. What concerns me, as a parent, is that kids aren't thinking twice about what they put on the Internet. Like FaceBook and MySpace, these can turn into tools predators can use to target our children. Very very disconcerting to me.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Comics in December pt. 1

Due to other reading, I'm a bit backlogged on my weekly comic reading. So, I'm just going through the pile slowly. Since they overlap release weeks, I'll just lump them together in groups of four until I'm through. Oh, and one last thing - all images from weekly comic reviews belong to the DC Comics company (the links even come from their website - just wanted to mention that). Thanks. On to the books:

Justice League Unlimited #40 - the issue has more of a focus on Zatanna, the League's mistress of magic. There are nice homages to classic comic tales - like Zatanna's quest to find her father, etc. It is a nice, done-in-one tale. Rumor is this book is scheduled to stop soon. That's a shame if it happens - I enjoy it a lot.

Teen Titans Go! #49 - like the above book, this one brings a little classic comic stuff into the animated comic universe. The cover asks if it is time for the return of Slade (Deathstroke the Terminator). Inside, the answer is revealed - and astute comic fans can guess it. But for kids who might not read the mainstream books, I am sure it is a surprise. A good story with clean art by Todd Nauck.

Batman and the Outsiders #2 - I picked the first issue up on a whim a few weeks back and liked it enough to give the second a shot. I liked the second a lot. Chuck Dixon is the writer and he really makes these characters engaging for me. I think this book will be a nice new addition to my pull-list.

JSA Classified #32 - First off, I liked the cover. Very eye grabbing. Inside, I am glad to be back reading this title after dropping a few issues due to the horrible Mr. Terrific solo arc that ran for three months. This is part one of two parts featuring the original Green Lantern of the 40's. While the dialogue on the first few pages was way too expository for my tastes, it did fit okay. A father still frought with the grief of his young daughter's death would likely say those things aloud. I miss thought balloons. Anyway, good book.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Who Finally Read the Watchmen?

Well, last night I finished reading the copy of Watchmen that I checked out of the library. For those who aren't into comics, it is a twelve-part graphic novel, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, centering around a number of former super-heroes and how they face the changes in the world around them.

Now, I know many folks read it when it first came out in 1985 and found it to be very groundbreaking. I can certainly see that. Like Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen really told its story of heroes in a very realistic way, struggling to make sense of the chaos and try to make a better world. It was done in a style that up until that point had never been done before - or at least note in such a concentrated sort of focus. Sure Marvel Comics of the 60's really kicked into the genre the whole soap-opera type element, but these two titles from the 80's ushered in a new period of heroes forced to make some extreme choices. It was really the start of the grim-and-gritty period of comics of the late 80's and early 90's.

However, reading it for the first time today in 2007 with the ability to see it in hindsight and its context to the genre since, I didn't feel as much of its story impact as a probably would have if I had read it back in 1985. What I mean is that I've seen elements of Watchmen in so many comics since then - elements that I was not always fully aware until now that got their roots from Watchmen. And I don't just see it in comics I've read in the past 20 years; I can see television shows like Heroes drew from this thematic well too.

Was it a good read? Yes.

Was it something that a more mature reader would appreciate as opposed to, say, my twelve year old son? Definitely.

Am I glad I read it for free from the library as opposed to plopping down $20 for a copy in the bookstore? Very much so.

Is that a knock on the door by my comic-book compadrees ready to revoke my lifetime fandom membership card? Probably.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Heroes season 2 Finale

Damn! Now that's how to do a season finale!

Heroes had always planned to split the 2007-2008 season into two chapters/seasons if you will. The Writers' Strike just kind of pushed this one to that point a little bit faster.

Still, they managed to pack quite a bit of stuff into this episode - with lots of all-so-awesomeness as well! It is definitely an episode people will be talking about for days.

And that's good since the start of the season had been so-so. Tim Kring has admitted that he sort of lost some of the wind in the sails, but the last three shows really went far to make up for that.

Now we have to wait until 2008 (January? March? Septebmer?) to get the next chapter of the story. I think it will be worth the wait.

Hey, NBC! How's about getting out a DVD set for "season 2" to fill the void? Load it with commentary and extras too!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Passing of an Icon

As a child of the 70's, I can say that my friends and I often ended up setting up ramps made from bricks and boards on the sidewalks. We'd then get on our bikes, pedal as fast as we could, roll up that ramp and jump our bikes - hoping for a solid landing on two tires or, at the very least, to land on the softer grass rather than the cement. Why did we do it?

Two words: Evel Knievel.

This motorcycle daredevil was the stuff of dreams for ten year old boys in the mid-70's. His jumps on television - be they buses or canyons - were spectacles. Back in the day when TV consisted of three networks and little else, you couldn't miss them.

And, it was more than just watching the stunts. We had the toys - the stunt cylces that were powered by reving up a big plastic crank motor, and an action figure clad in the familiar white jumpsuit and helmet, adorned with blue and red stars. The image brought up that of America and super-heroes. And when he did interviews, the guy seemed tough as nails. I guess he had to be, given how many bones he broke over the years for stunts that didn't work as well as expected. Still, he seemed tough - Clint Eastwood "Dirty Harry" tough or any kind of John Wayne character tough.

By today's standards, folks would label him crazy or a kook. But back in the 70's, to us ten-year old boys, he was cool.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Finally Checking It Out

I went to the local library yesterday after a workout at the YMCA and was just browsing through the shelves for something to checkout. There, among the graphic novels, was something I had actually never gotten around to reading or buying in 20+ years. I had heard a lot about it, of course. Many consider it a pinacle of comic-storytelling. I guessed after all this time I figured I should check it out. After all, using the library, it wasn't going to cost me anything but the investment of time.

What am I referring to?

Watchmen. I'll let you know what I think when I finish it in a few days.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Stampeding Through the Decades

For the past thirteen years or so, I've been a huge fan of Rhino Records and their products. It started for me on my 30th birthday with their Have A Nice Day: Super Hits of the 70's collection - a twenty-five volume CD series that really covered all those niche and one-hit wonders of the 1970's very well. I was in a rather nostalgic mood at the time and this set was perfect for me. And it really was "love" at first

From there, I branched out into two 80's collections that Rhino also had: Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the 80's and Radio Daze: Pop Hits of the 80's. The former is a fifteen volume collection of some of the most known and quite a few forgotten new wave jems up through the middle of the 80's. The later was a five volume set that really featured some lighter pop hits of the same time - a nice compliment to the earlier 70's set. I was rather hoping this second 80's set would catch on and that more would come, but alas that wasn't the case. It must not have been as popular.

I was rather content with all of these disks, for they filled in holes in my CD collection rather nicely. As I said, a lot of the songs on these were hits by artists that didn't chart that often - so they were a nice alternative to hunting down any greatest hits sets. And, more likely, these collections are probably some of the only times some of these songs have even been made available on CD.

However, Rhino came back into my life again this past week. As you know, I've been prepping files on my PC from my CD collection so I'll be ready for my iPod come the holidays. What I realized, in going through my music, is that while the 70's and 80's were very well represented (and that makes sense too as that was my years of youth through young adulthood) I was lacking a lot of stuff from the 90's. In browsing around, I ran across another Rhino set - Whatever - the 90's Pop and Culture Box set. I luckily found it for half price so I couldn't resist getting this seven disk, 125 song set. Unlike the earlier sets, this 90's set seems to be more of a sampling buffet rather than a more focused, genre menu that the others provide. The 90's music scene included so many styles - pop, rock, R&B, rap, alternative, grunge, etc. - and this set tries to sample as much of those as it can. What you get is kind of a mish-mash of music that doesn't flow as seemlessly as other collections.

Some may look at Rhino's reissue offerings as sort of the K-Tel records of the 21st century (how many of you are old enough to get that reference?). For me, I'm okay with that. They've done the work to hunt down these various songs and make them available in affordable collections. Their selections may seem odd on the surface, but after many listening sessions you realize they've plucked some of these songs from the abyss for old fans and future fans alike to enjoy.

Now, I need to see what their 60's offerings are like....