Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Cars 2, Audience 1

I went to see Cars 2 over the weekend and if you can't tell from the title of this post, I wasn't too thrilled. I start throwing spoilers around right after this shot of a model of the landscape from outside Radiator Springs:

Cars didn't make as much money as other Pixar films but it raked it in with merchandise. With the upcoming release of Cars 2, I started seeing ads for State Farm, oil changes and a HUGE glut of toys at Target. This didn't bode well.

Cars was all about slowing down, looking outside yourself, learning about other folks, and an awful lot about Route 66. It was the reason my wife & I traveled the road for our 25th anniversary and we learned, once again, how much we love each other. Cars holds a special place in our lives, much more than the other Pixar films, except maybe for Up!

Cars 2 is about... well, it's about Mater. Now that isn't all bad, but I don't know that I laughed at something that was genuinely funny in the film. There is a spy opener for the film and we see a car fall off an ocean drilling rig, hit the water and burst into pieces. A car actually dies on film! Well, it gets darker from there. We are then allowed to watch an execution of a car that is forced to burst into flame. This is all a little heavy handed from Pixar (even though there was a shotgun toting granny in that Rat movie).

There is a global Grand Prix and Mater gets mistaken for a secret agent, but the English agents are so dense that when Mater tells them he isn't a spy, they think he's still in character, even though he's bumbling around like some kind of automotive Jar Jar Binks. Mater eats a bunch of wasabi, Mater leaks oil at a bad time, Mater encounters a Japanese bidet all in the interest of Pixar trying to out-gross Dreamworks in the potty humor department.

Later on, Mater gets a bomb bolted to his air filter and then we learn that the bad guy is the car that developed an new alternative fuel, but has also discovered the largest oil reserves in the world and in order for folks to not use his alt fuel, he sabotages the racers using it so everyone will go back to using oil that he has found. So the Green-tech guy is really Big Oil and we all know that is evil, right? Did you understand any of that? I'm sure the kids in the audience did.

A lot of folks are griping about the Big Oil reference but I'm more angered with the toilet scene and the actual line where Mater sings "Like a good neighbor..Mater is there." Really, Pixar? REALLY!?!?!?

The problem with this film is that there is nothing from the first film that made us care about it. There is no relationship between Lightning and Sally, Doc Hudson is dead, Mater is still Mater but he is way overexposed, we see little to nothing of Radiator Springs. This film is empty and hollow, with no soul. There is nothing here to inspire anyone to have an adventure (Up!), love their children more (The Incredibles, Finding Nemo), learn to accept others (Toy Story1, 2, 3), be true to yourself and follow a dream (Ratatouille), or even get off your backside and exercise (Wall-E).

Roger Ebert gave this 3.5 stars but in his review he talked more about his childhood of playing with toy cars than the actual movie. I'm glad he got some mileage from the film, because I'm sure that hardly anyone else will. I have to admit, this is the big stinker from Pixar and this one clocks in at 1/2 star out of three for me. I liked Jonah Hex better than this failed attempt to print money.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Comics and Movies, kinda sorta

 Things that are comics related: I took a bunch of D and D books that I got for free from Craigslist to my local comic book shop/2nd hand book store to see how much credit I could get. Turns out I got plenty (don't worry about me getting 'taken'. I had done a lot of research and there was no market for them on ebay or Besides store credit is always more than cash on the barrel-head). So, with store credit in hand I splurged and grabbed another volume of Dark Horse's reprints of Little Lulu. I also managed to pick up the Showcase of Bat Lash. I can't wait to review those stories for ya'll.

One last thing. Every year our church does a series called At the Movies (this being the tenth year) where the pastor shows clips of recent films and then discusses a Biblical principle based on the clip. To celebrate the tenth year, our AV department decided to shoot promo teasers for the series and I got to be in the first one.

Yup, that's me, the handsome handsome devil...with the ax. Have I said how much I enjoy being the most famous escaped mental patient with an ax in our church? I also work in Children's Church as well, he he he he

52 ! Pick them up!

Other folks have been conjecturing what their 52 1st issues would have been if THEY had owned DC. Well, if DC stood for Dwayne Comics, here is how you guys would be spending all your cash in the coming months:

52. The Adventures of Brian Regan
51. Ultra, The Multi-Alien
50. Challengers of the Status Quo
49. The Legion of Substitute Super-Pets
48. Warlord
47. 'Mazing Man
46. Showcase
45. Jug & Demons (a retro 90's book by Leifield)
44. Chemo
43. George Perez Draws Whatever He Wants
42. Love, Twue Love Comics
41. Sugar & Spike
40. Phantom Stranger
39. Amanda Waller's Can of Whoop-Ass
38. Backup Comics (featuring El Diablo, Tommy Tomorrow, Ace the Bat Hound, every old backup feature)
37. JLA Regender (because you know everyone wants it)
36. Jimmy Olsen's Tag Team (an Olsen based B&B)
35. Roy Raymond, Internet Detective
34. Mr. Miracle
33. Gotham City Planning Commission
32. Weird War Tales
31. The Creeper
30. Firestorm
29. Lobo, starring Ambush Bug
28. House of Secret Mysteries
27. Batman Family
26. Suicide Squad
25. Our Army @ War
24. Secret Six
23. Blackhawk (the original)
22. Metal Men
21. Birds of Prey
20. Mr. District Attorney
19. Justice League, OKC
18. Lois Lane, Tot Reporter (Her adventures as a child)
17. Shazam Family
16. Green Lantern Butts Forever!
15. Apes!
14. Scalphunter
13. Swamp Thing
12. JLA, Rubber (Elongated Man, Plastic Man, ELastic Lad, Madame Rouge, Rita Farr, Bouncing Boy)
11. Flash (I don't care who it is, I won't read it)
10. Metamorpho
9. GangBusters!
8. Sherlock Holmes, Time Wizard
7. Batman
6. Wonder Woman
5. JLA, Furry (With Fox & Crow, Stanley & his Monster, and other funny-book heros. Wait, did I just invent Captain Carrot?)
4. Detective Comics (The last panel ends with "The killer is obviously...." and the reveal is next issue)
3. Superman
2. All-Star Western (really Jonah Hex all by himself)
1. Action & Equal but Opposite Reaction Comics

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The New DC, There's No Understanding Us Now!

I was kinda"meh" about the whole DC relaunch but mostly I was wondering how it would impact Jonah Hex. Today, thanks to a timely tweet from Justin Gray, I looked at the DC blog and saw their plans. I figured I would comment on that and all the other books they have announced so far. First up:

All-Star Western #1

Even when Gotham City was just a one-horse town, crime was rampant – and things only get worse when bounty hunter Jonah Hex comes to town. Can Amadeus Arkham, a pioneer in criminal psychology, enlist Hex’s special brand of justice to help the Gotham Police Department track down a vicious serial killer? Featuring back-up stories starring DC’s other western heroes, ALL-STAR WESTERN #1 will be written by the fan-favorite Jonah Hex team of Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and illustrated by Moritat.
It's been a Loooooong time since Gotham was a one-horse town (like maybe the early 1700's?), so the hyperbole is starting early. Hex in Gotham? Heck, I usually despise Hex being in the DC Universe AT ALL. That's because he is normally thrown in because somebody somewhere needs a 'cowboy' and we end up with crap like The Kents, Swamp Thing, Generations, and The Return of Bruce Wayne. Hex has been more accurately portrayed in Justice League Unlimited (a kids book!)! But Jonah Hex is a fixture in the DCU and I would rather he be handled by the guys that love him than by the guy who THINK they can write a story about him.

Now some folks over the DC Forums have been griping about Jonah heading east and this book is supposed to be a Western. They should calm the crap down. A Western isn't about a locale, it's about a time (the 1860-1904, normally) but more importantly it's an attitude. The Jonah Hex film (PUT DOWN THOSE BRICKS!! I'll talk about it if I want to!!) took place almost entirely east of the Mississippi river and, while most of the movie sucked, it looked like a Western and behaved like a Western. 

Now this sounds like a promising start. I enjoy the idea of Hex in the big city, J&J even took him there in the current book and Scalphunter wandered all over the Eastern seaboard in WWT. Hooking up with Arkham will give it a weird vibe that a lot of folks enjoy and I hope that it will bring new readers to the book. But let's consider the cover for a moment, what does the green stain coming from the W signify? And, of course, we can't miss all of those bats. Is Gotham on fire behind the sign or are those flames from various industries. The cover is cool enough for me to pick up just to see what is going on.

All-Star Western...sigh, we'll never live to see Jonah Hex #100 even though it was less than three years away. Part of me likes the nod to Jonah's roots, part of me thinks they chucked the Jonah Hex title thanks to JIMMY HAYWARD AND THAT $50,000,000 PIECE OF CRAP FROM LAST YEAR!!! (but I'm really not bitter, I just have these moments.) I will be picking it up because, well, if I didn't what would I start blogging about? The buttocks of some intergalactic police department? As IF! (seriously, I will continue to buy this book while J&J are on it. They could call it Adventures of a Dude and I'd have it on my pull list)

Sgt. Rock and the Men of War #1

Not sure I can get excited about this one since the Vertigo train wreck that was the Haunted Tank. I like the combo of the Men of War and Sgt. Rock titles and I love the fact that DC is expanding back into the two genres that they kept alive longer than anyone else (War & Western). I just hope beyond hope that they do include a story or two that would fall into the old Weird War book. Not sure I would buy this ongoing, but I might take a peek.

Blackhawks #1

They sure as hell better have someone named Hendrickson. That's all I'm saying.

Deathstroke #1

Looks like the folks that enjoy Conan & Warhammer 40k have a book to read now.

Omac #1

As much as I despise the art of Keith Giffen (have you learned to draw since your days on Hex?) as well as his writing (How many issues of Doom Patrol did I miss? None?! Then why is this more confusing than Lost rewritten by a three year old with ADD?) I think that he nails the Kirby look perfectly on this cover. Maybe this is the book he was born to draw. As for the writer? He has a lot to prove.

Hawk and Dove #1

HEY! Someone learned how to draw feet!!!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Jonah Hex: Two-Gun Mojo #4 "Vendetta Times Two"

Jonah Hex: Two-Gun Mojo #4 Nov 1993
"Vendetta Times Two"
Joe E. Lansdale, story - Tim Truman and Sam Glanzman, art and cover

Night- 30 Miles West of Nacogdoches Texas. Doc Williams slices noses and ears from the corpses he has, mixes various liquids into a bowl, dumps in several powders, and then, while invoking the Dark Elder Gods, he urinates into the mixture. Then he spits into the bowl, strikes a match and touches it to the bowl, resulting in an explosion powerful enough to knock Williams off his feet.

The pumpkin-headed midget gathers up the brew and they take it over to the barrel containing Jonah Hex. Williams takes a hose hooked to a funnel and shoves it into Jonah's mouth while expounding on how he learned the recipe to zombie-juice in Haiti (or maybe Texas?!?). The mixture is dumped into the funnel and it slides its way into Jonah's gullet. The bowl empty, Williams has the barrel resealed and we learn that Hex has been playing possum. Hex quickly shoves a finger down his throat so he can vomit up as much of the horrible bile as he can.

The barrel containing Jonah is strapped to the wagon and Williams tells Hex that he will be a mindless automaton by tomorrow night. During the night the wagon continues on its travels, Jonah sliding in and out of consciousness.

Next morning, Williams opens the barrel to see how Jonah is doing, but Jonah isn't entirely 'pickled' yet. Williams starts to gloat and asks Jonah if he knows who shot Slow Go, WILD BILL HICKOK!! That's who!! Williams relates how he traveled to Deadwood, South Dakota in 1876. He had just come from Haiti and had not yet purchased his wagon in New Orleans. He was wanting to study how Indians conjured up storms and he runs into Hickok in a saloon.

Hickok, however, isn't impressed with Williams and literally boots the "Doc" out the door and into the mud. It was then that Williams swore vengeance, however, it was Jack McCall that stole that delight from Williams. But the Doctor was not easily deterred and that night dug up the body of Hickok and discovered that even though he was shot in the head, the cowboy was still alive.

That night Williams, using a book that he got from a preacher in Waco, concocts a brew and shoves it down the gullet of Hickok, turning Hickok into a mindless, obedient zombie. Time passes and Williams buys the wagon and recruits, through bribery, assault, or kidnapping, the
rest of his motley band. The 'good' Doctor then takes his sideshow on the road and learns
that Zombie Hickok never misses a shot, is very strong and agile, but, sadly, very very

The Doc stops his rambling and the wagon to relieve himself in the woods and while the troupe is setting up camp, Jonah takes advantage to kick a hole in the side of the barrel. However, he didn't realize the wagon was parked on the edge of a very steep hill and...

Of course, the river does help cover Jonah's tracks and provides him with a means of transportation (as well as a meal in the form of raw rattlesnake). Jonah ends up clinging to a log and washing up on shore some unknown distance and time later. He is found by a farmer and his son. They pick up the soaked and tired Hex and ask him about his scar...

Jonah stays with them a few days, regaining his strength. He is loaned a horse, pistols and some cash and told that his face is on some wanted posters. Jonah rides off and ends up in Lubbock where he finds several fliers for the Wagon of Miracles. He also finds a cowboy wanting to make some quick cash by bringing him in. That ends in the way that we have come to expect. However, Hex is not catching up to the Miracle Wagon and tracks them across Texas and into New Mexico.

Out in the desert he comes upon some Apaches who are torturing a black Union soldier.  Jonah takes careful aim and shoots the soldier in the head, ending his misery, but inflaming the anger of the Indians who take out after him. Jonah ends up killing a few, but they eventually shoot his horse out from under him. Jonah holes up and gets surrounded but one mounted Indian gets too brave and Jonah takes advantage of it....

Jonah is once again making a run for it and turns the wrong way into a canyon, again getting a horse killed. He slides face first down a hillside and ends up...

Jonah, Williams and the freaks, and a Union Calvary are in a hole in the desert, surrounded by angry Apaches.

Statistics for This Issue
Men Killed by Jonah - 6
Running Total - 502 (432 past, 55 future, 15 Vertigo)
Jonah's Injuries - 'Pickled' and falls off cliff
Timeline - Unknown how long this issue takes, but I'll toss out a couple of weeks, just for grins.

This issue is almost like two books. The first is the dark rantings of Doc Williams (which I don't really enjoy) and once Jonah escapes we're back to the tracking and rough/tumble/shooting ways of Hex the bounty hunter. Needless to say, I enjoyed the second half of the book more. I'm actually looking forward to...

Next Issue: The final stand-off and the Disgust-O-Meter pegs out at 11!!

because we get a LOT of shooting and an end to this mess...... for now.