A return, again and Captain America: The Winter Soldier

So, I tried to restart with this baby back in November but the continued stress of life led me away from the internet and into reality. That said, I think now that I have some spare time, I will be getting back to my favorite hobby, writing short, immature reviews of the comics I subscribe to. No one is waiting for me to let them know what I'm doing or for me to do a blog and or review but here I am. Since almost everything I sub to comes in this week, expect a good deal of reviews come Friday, the day after I pick up my books.

That said, hows about a quick post about the current Marvel film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Jumping Jehosephat!(Sp?) What a punch in the gut! I've now seen it three times, if my budget was bigger it'd be more, and every time I like it more. Still not big on these cinematic costumes but I can deal. The story was amazing, the fights were phenomenal and the visual effects were great and is it just me or once Buck loses the mask, does he not look like he just walked right off the comic page and into the screen? THAT, my friends, is how you do a comic character. The whole film was so well done. Man, Avengers 2 is going to seriously have to up the ante to top that. Let's hope.

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Life, Turtles and change

I thought it had been a long time, then I read my last blog entry...wow. It has been nearly a year since I last posted and I know I didn't have anyone sitting around waiting to hear from me, but I was sort of saddened by that. So what's the deal? Well, I'm sitting in a pile of my own things waiting on my dad to call and let me know he is on the way with the truck that will move me and my now wife into the home we recently purchased. That pretty much sums up the year for me. Life happened. In the time since my last post I have had some trouble mentally, climbed my way out, rekindled my relationship with God and made a LOT of changes to my life. Comics, however, remain.

Speaking of comics, enough of my life, let's talk shop. Honestly with all that's going on I only buy what I can. That's Captain America, as always, everything Turtles because I have to, Thor, Fantastic Four and FF. That's all. It's not much but on my budget I have to be cautious. So, things have changed a lot in the past bit, so let's talk about those books.

Cap is a mess. We're in the teens in issues and I can only point at one issue and say it was good. I like Remender, his X-force was unbelievably good, but Cap isn't his jam. I have seen his work on Uncanny Avengers, and though I think the idea of and Avengers/X-Men team is sort of redundant, he is doing some good work over there, even when he writes Cap but it's almost like he's writing two different characters. Anyway, yeah, I don't like the current Cap run but it's what we have. However, Thor...wow Thor is good. The best I've seen since Simonson. Aaron is knocking it out of the park and blowing minds. It's a great run that I am glad I've been following because the god of thunder is definitely one of my favorite heroes and this book is doing him justice. Highly suggested by me. As for the Fantastic Four the books are decent, nothing to squeal over but I like them. FF is usually a lot of fun since it's a bit of goofy mixed with serious. It's been a bit hard to follow with the jumping around but it is a decent read and both books are about to change with the reset if someone wants to jump on board, more on that, later.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I can not say enough about the books. Wow. Even the books based on the new cartoon is a good read. I love it. That is something that has developed over the year, my love for Turtles is just as big now as when I was a kid, no doubts. I can't say if I like them more than Cap, but man do I love everything Turtles anymore. Check the new stuff out, it's amazing.

Now that that's done, my thoughts go to Marvel. I don't know about anyone else but always going back to number 1 is starting to piss me off. I know they aim for casual readers, to give them a start point, but few casual readers make it past issue 5 and less make it to 10 at least in my experience with my local comic shop. I know 1s sell more but come on, part of the pride of the old books was how long they had lasted and how there was so much history, now it's start at issue 1 and don't use too much history so as not to confuse anyone. Bleh. I get it, but it sucks for us old codgers. It just kills me that with a movie or something new they go to issue 1. Anyway, I'm done ranting and need to see if I can find anything else to shove in a box. So long.

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A day in Middle-Earth

I don't consider this blog to be anything other than a chance to write down my thoughts and experiences with comics,normally, but I felt I would do one for the Lord of the Rings due to my day. My favorite local theater began promoting that they would be showing all three extended Lord of the Rings films, back-to-back in one sitting, a few weeks ago and a close friend invited me. Being a HUGE ringer, there was no choice to be made, simply a purchase. Today was the big day and beginning at 11:00am the Fellowship of the Ring began. Let me pause here a moment.

I have watched these films, even the extended ones, hundreds of times, but the theater is something special. You can watch something at home any time but seeing it on the big screen, in those theater rooms, it's very special. I saw the Fellowship when I was 16 and being rarely able to go to films, it was the first theater film that I actually watched. No talking, no making out with the girlfriend, just watched. It holds a special place in my heart because it opened me up, not only to the realm of Fantasy but to what the theater really is:an experience. I didn't even know what it was, having never even heard of the books, and once I saw the film, I delved deep into the realm of Middle-Earth and have read the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings once a year since. It actually turned me into a reader, something I never was, comics excluded.

All of that said when the first notes rang out and the clear voice of Galadriel began to speak, I was bombarded by memories and sensations. I was suddenly back in 2001. I could smell my girlfriend at the time`s perfume, seriously, and she was nowhere around. I felt younger. The theater experience slapped me in the face like it did then. I was 16 and falling in love with Middle-Earth all over again. It was an amazing experience.

Each film brought it`s own sensations, it`s own memories from that time, from that experience yet at the same time I was living in the moment of seeing it today. As my 28 year old self. It was fun, it was nostalgic and the films in their extended cuts on the big screen were simply beautiful both in story and visuals. I felt sorrow when Gandalf fell, I was angry when Boromir tried to take the ring, I was weary when Aragorn and company were seeking the other halflings, I was horrified when Helm`s deep was blown to pieces, I was tired and near breaking down when Frodo lay at the foot of Mount Doom, so close to his final task and I cried when goodbyes were said before the last ship left. Obviously I left out many things but you catch my meaning. I am thankful for this day. I was afraid that due to the 12 hour timeline, I would tire quickly but the movies gave me such energy and strength that the clock vanished. When it was all over we hadn't eaten all day, save a candy bar a piece and I rationed my water bottle to last all three films. We ate at a restaurant nearby and all we talked about were the films and the books. We were sad it was over because it felt we had just arrived. The trilogy is on bluray but, nothing quite matches the theater and so we were sad to see it end.

All this amounts to is this: I had an amazing day.

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Less Hero and More Super

I love comics. I want to make that an absolute and clear fact. I really do love the medium. I love so many characters, I love the windows into worlds unlike anything I could experience, but I've noticed something missing. I'm a fan of the Silver Age of comics, especially right at the brim of the Bronze Age when we got stories with serious undertones but still the old Silver Age, kid-friendly material. It was all about the hero who has to rescue the people from the bad guys and at the same time deal with his own personal demons. It was amazing to see Captain America fight off some villain and the day after consider himself useless because he wore the flag. That dynamic is mind-boggling. We see our heroes fight things that would kill us instantly and then have so many doubts, so many problems. Iron Man was a billionaire who had anything he wanted and could make a suit of armor for any and all situations and yet had to live at the bottom of a bottle to deal with who Tony Stark was. It's these moments I think are truly missing in the comics of today. The heroes, anymore, seem to, instead of being written on the ground saving folks from villains doing bad things that evolve into thick plots, deal with constant world-ending threats. I know the old way may seem cheesy to folks, but it's where they got their beginnings. Look at the modern issue 1 of Aquaman, it was so awesome to see him stop a group of bank robbers. It was quick, it was fun and man was it good. The issue wasn't about Aquaman fighting some terrifying, world-destroying thing but him dealing with his day-to-day while being both a hero and the king of Atlantis. We need more of that in comics.

When was the last time we saw the Avengers just hanging out? When was the last time you saw an argument that didn't lead to a Civil War or a Vs? These books were good, but at their heart they tend to contradict the heroes beliefs. Would Captain America, Iron Man and SHIELD really go into a war that would practically destroy entire cities and just leave it at that? I see Cap standing his ground but meeting on neutral territories like open desert or something along those lines. Not New York. I know some folks would probably accuse me of being a prude or close-minded but hang on! I think crossover events are ok. Infinite Crises was an amazing world threatening event that started and ending AMAZINGLY! The story was not 100% invasive to every book but every reader knew what was going on if something did happen in their book. It was done right. It was grounded.

The problem I see is that things have shifted from the hero to the super. Instead of stories involving men and women who risk their lives against villains and threats on the ground we see epic battles spanning nations and even worlds. Yes, we get the occasional story of heroes fighting everyday threats, but it builds into giant city threats. It's funny to sort of think, if there were so many bank robbers in the old days, whose stopping them now? So in closing to this long, pointless rant. Grab an old book and see if you can spot whats missing.

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Change, the other side of the coin. (A rant)

A couple weeks ago I did a blog on how change should be accepted and how it's not always a bad thing. I still prescribe to that notion, but I felt like I should do a second blog on the dark side of change. The primary example that comes to mind is DC`s New 52, a horrible attempt to revamp the DC universe by pressing the proverbial delete button on the vast, elaborate history of a fictional timeline. This is without a doubt the best example of the dark side of change. Now, before I get off on the bad stuff, let me first say that it's not ALL bad. I am VERY happy with how Nightwing, a character I hold dear, has been handled. As a matter of fact, the whole Batman family has been great. Also Swamp Thing and Animal Man, both horror titles, are unbelievably good. These are all I know of, so bear with me on my lack of knowledge on some books. So that was the good, let's move on to the bad. New 52 erased roughly 80 years of amazing stories and spat in the faces of us fans who have followed these characters for years. At the same time, since DC owns the characters, the extremely 90's characters of the Wildstorm universe are spilling into the pages of some icons like Superman. They took something amazing, changed it, and ruined it. Look at this crap, this is Heroes Reborn all over again, just DC...

Gah, it hurts my eyes!!! He's the man of steel, not the man who wears steel. Why is Aquaman a dudebro? Okay...ok, I'm picking on DC too much, I know, but they just fit the bad change so much I couldn't help but throw in some punches. Let's I like more than the DC stuff. I used the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as an example of good change last time, but I can use them for bad too. Michael Bay is still threatening to allow his spin on the franchise to become a film which means we would get Turtles from space...yep, not mutant turtles, aliens. *Facepalm.* Again, I'm ready to accept change but doing something stupid like that...why? The original is so well done, let's make some tweeks to change it to a new version but don't completely ruin what they are and have been for 20 years.

Why all this rant and ridiculous image posting? I'm angry. I gave in to change and felt good about it and then I read a DC book, that for the time being will remain nameless, I wanted to scream. I wanted to punch everything in sight and cry like a 5 year old girl who wet herself. I'm not even a huge DC fan, I just like Green Arrow and Nightwing, but guys, come on! Even I know better! I had to post the other side of things, to show anyone out there that yes, if handled right, like the current TMNT series, change can be amazing, but in the wrong hands, like Michael Bay or whoever at DC, your fears may be justified. Be open-minded, be ready for change, but always keep your guard up. Thanks for your time and patience with a babbling idiot.

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Change Really is a Constant

There is a word in the english language that strikes fear into the heart of every nerd/geek/collector/fanboy. That word is change. We all treasure the things we love wether it be a comic book character, a tv show or something beloved from our childhood. What led me to this post was while a friend and I watched the latest episode of Nickelodeon`s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I had an epiphany: Change is ok. I have seen posts about the new show and though it is a lot of positive reaction to the show, there are those who nit-pick every small detail. I'm learning though, and trust me it isn't easy, that some times things just have to change. This is coming from a man who has been a long time naysayer against change since I was a teen. It wasn't until today though, with the changes made to the Turtles, something I have cherished since I can remember, that I really saw why change happens. You have to let things go and realize that something you like, even if it is old and timeless like Superman or some other hero, people are changing all the time and the audience and potential buyer is evolving and guess what the company then must do? Evolve. Granted, I think bits of the old should always carry over, something to nod respectfully toward the creators but instead of going nuts over the change, I see why it happens.

Take my example, for instance; the Turtles have always been a phenomenon since the comic hit the stands. How the die-hard fans of the books must have felt when the Turtles cartoon was all kid friendly and silly. YET,it's what I found them through and because of it, once I was older, I found those original comics and still to this day find them to be the best presentation of Turtles media. That change led me to the past, to the original. Couldn't that happen to other folks too? I suppose all of this is rambling to some of you but I'm trying to reach out to my fellows to help you see that change may be scary, it may not be what you want it to be, but it can be done right. Instead of immediately grumbling and griping over every small thing, let's look at the bright side. When the Captain America film was about to come out and I first saw the costume I was furious. It looks so horrible, but when I saw the film it was Cap on the screen, it was him fighting the Red Skull and it was real people. Instantly I didn't see the costume, yeah it was ugly, yeah I hate it, but it's Captain America up there moving around and punching bad guys in the face. Nit-picking has become something our society loves to do anymore. I don't think I want to be a big part of That. I used to be one of the big voices cap-locking my way into arguments over why Cap should have wings on his mask or why Thor should have had his helmet on but I'm through fighting. It's pointless. I guess the point of all this ranting is simple: Change is constant, get used to it or you'll be left miserable with nothing just because it isn't what it used to be.

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A Walk Through Time Beside the Emerald Archer

It has been many moons since the last time I did a blog. It's not that I haven't had time, I just don't have a lot to say and I only have 10 followers so it's not like anyone's waiting for me to do anything. In the 4 months since I last did a post I have continued my journey through each volume of Green Arrow and as of today I have finished my journey. I started this trek through his books with issue 85 of Brave and the Bold, his first appearance in the costume we all know and love. It doesn't fit anywhere in the timeline but I read it for a specific reason: Green Arrow up to that point had been just a Batman clone who used bows. It was in this issue that, though out of nowhere, we see an angry, liberal and redesigned GA come into the fold influencing changes to the character in every book he guest-starred in. From there I read the oh-so famous, oh-so amazing Green Lantern/Green Arrow run in which we see the street level GA begin schooling a holier-than-thou GL about what it is to be a hero. This series touched on topics from racism to drug addiction and led to changes to both heroes that resonated up until the New 52. After seeing the 70's GA I then read the 4-part mini-series from the 80's which was GA`s first official self-title book. It was a great read but nothing significant that I can remember other than this leading to the 3-part series that would change my life, The Longbow Hunters. From writer/artist Mike Grell we see a "back to basics" Ollie who gets caught up in something bigger than him which leads to the brutal beating of Dinah "Black Canary" Lance. This is a very important mini because it was so well received, and also so well done, that it launched the series into Green Arrow`s first volume of books. Grell gave us 80 issues of a realistic Green Arrow on the streets of Seattle, not Star City, that to this day is considered the definitive run of the character. No more trick arrows, no more hits to wound. GA donned a hood and an even more Robin Hood-esque uniform and became a hunting, terror on the streets of Seattle. Once Grell was done the series continued on switching creative teams before settling on writer Chuck Dixon who gave us the death of Oliver Queen but using seeds planted by Grell gave us his son Connor Hawke. Despite it being a new Green Arrow it was so well done and so well transitioned that you actually still loved him just like Ollie. Sadly the series ended at issue 137 and Connor joined the ranks of the JLA. That was in 98 or 99 I believe. From there we jump to 2001 when Kevin Smith launched the next series by resurrecting Oliver Queen and sending him on a quest of rediscovery. It's a great run that led to 75 issues which in my opinion were all fantastic. Judd Winick handled writing duties for most of the run and did an amazing job of it and with issue 75 launched the next series, Green Arrow and Black Canary. The newly wedded couple experience a lot of ups and downs in a short-lived, but still wonderful, 32 issue run that ended when Green Arrow acted out at the end of the Cry for Justice mini. Yet again the last book was a launchpad for his final series which lasted a short 15 issues written by J.T. Krul. The series was great at first but the more it tied into Brightest Day the worst it got. After 15 issues the New 52 happened and that is where I ended my journey. I've read most of the new series and I refuse to read any more unless something drastic happens. You may love it and that's fine, read what you like, but it isn't for me.

In this journey I have seen Ollie at his lowest and his highest. I have seen him drunk, lying in an alley in his own filth and I have seen him standing high in the light of the Sun, side-by-side with the family he came to love more than anything in the world. I've seen him cry at the injustices of the world and laugh with heroes he calls friends. It's amazing to see these stories unfold in the pages of a comic book, yet feel like it all happened. To think what they've done to the character now, the fact his family doesn't exist/never happened. To think he hasn't endured the trials he once did, it breaks my heart. Still, this was definitely a journey worth taking. I've laughed, I've cried and I've chatted with friends for hours over events and it shows what comics can be and should be. I think any fan should give this a try. It took money, more than a poor man should have spent, but I would do it again if in a heartbeat if I had to. Try and buy what you can, see what your heroes have been over the years. It'll be quite an experience.

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The Day DC Died

I begin this with a long sigh inserted before my first sentence. I consider myself a fan of DC. It took years for me to finally cross over to that company but I did it, I love old DC. With the new 52 I got the chance to hop on with other heroes in that verse I liked but I didn't care for many of the books. My only lasting subscriptions were to Aquaman and Nightwing. Aquaman quickly began to lose my attention and become a mess of confusion. Nightwing is utterly amazing. Then it seems like every week DC was doing some new thing to draw attention. I have been on edge with this company for a while what with their extreme views and changes made to historic characters but I have trekked on since I only get one book. Today`s revelations finally did me in. In what universe does Wildstorm`s characters belong in the company of heroes such as Batman and Superman? I'm done. I'm sick of the "Imagification" of the DCU and with that the company is dead to me. I needed a place to vent my frustrations so I called my friend who recently cancelled 12 of his books, all from DC because of their choices. I joined him. No more Nightwing. My 3 dollars deserves a better home in my opinion. So here I am to further vent and let it go at last. It's back issues for me. So long.

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The Good Captain

So, let's talk about Captain America for a moment. When I was a kid I thought Cap was stupid, plain and simple. I didn't understand him. Then close to 10 years ago I decided to try him and I have been hooked since. I always start with the classics with any hero I read and so the Tales of Suspense on into his first volume opened my eyes to who and exactly what this character is. Maybe I should say was. I'm not a comic book writer and saying thus I know I am no one to bash any professional but I have to say that the way the character is written anymore is not what I like to see. Obviously the Cap of today has been through some terrible things:Civil Wars, Dis-assemblies, death and so much more. Once he was a man so moral, standing strong and trusting and believing in everything he stood for. Not so anymore. We find Cap often wondering who he is. He acts out of character frequently and sometimes doesn't even resemble the hero we used to see and know, ie the double-cross in Civil War when Stark offered peacefully work things out. Since when does Captain America prefer to put lives in harms way instead of doing whats safe, whats right? Let's look back.

For years Cap was driven by the failure of his last days before his time on ice. Always brooding on the death of Bucky Barnes. For song long this drove him to be better and then he found that his country, his president, was leading an organization hellbent on the destruction of America`s ideals and government. He was ready to throw in the towel but eventually saw the error of his ways. He saw that it wasn't he who needed America, but America who needed him. He was pumped for a time, happy to don the flag and for so long it kept. Always he had doubts weather he should don the costume, weather he deserved it.

Since that time he has faced disaster after disaster including his own demise, twice. He discovered that all the years tormenting himself for failing Bucky that day were wasted as all along Bucky had lived, although mentally enslaved by Russians. He never got the chance to rebuild his relationship with Bucky as Buck ran once his memory was restored. Then began Civil War and Cap`s death. Upon his return he again faced the demon of the flag, leaving the man who had taken his place to do that particular task. For a while Steve remained free of the flag working as SHIELD top cop and working the shadows but when push came to shove he donned the flag again and has kept it. He again saw that America needed Captain America as Bucky had died in the events of Fear Itself. So now that we know Bucky is alive what happens now? Will Cap eventually turn the job away and possibly back to Bucky? Judging from his actions Cap will maintain but not the swashbuckling, jolly-go-save-the-day hero we know. There's a part of him broken and I think so long as America needs him he'll stay.

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Green Arrow and More Awful Mistakes

So I have expressed before my concern for the current state of comic books. I have also stated my disappointment in the new version of Green Arrow. Let me get into some detail on that because reading my Mike Grell and onward GA's has got me in a mood ever so foul and ready to gripe. It pains me, truly pains me, to see where they have taken the emerald archer. Not only have they removed the creed by which Oliver Queen lived, but they have turned him into a poorly written sad shade of a character. He's not alone either. Many of the heroes I have come to love in the past few months have changed in new and terrible ways. GA means so much to me so I in all seriousness feel a tear forming at what the book has become, at what most of DC has become. What will the future tell? I don't see the "geniuses" leading the company allowing a change back to form. Yes, there are some quite shiny gems in the heap of mess that is the new 52 ie; Aquaman, Green Lantern and the Batman family of books as well as some horror titles. My heart pines over what once was and because I waited so long to become a DC fan I feel as though I am too late, like I missed out on the glory it had. Tonight I am a sad, sad fan.

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