Tuesday Toy Commercial: Ghost Rider

I love the random times when adult-themed comics somehow spawn cartoons aimed at kids. Punisher appeared on Spider-Man in the 90s and got his own Toy Biz action figure, Swamp Thing had his own cartoon and media empire and even Savage Dragon scored his own toon. And then there’s Ghost Rider. Before he starred in his own movies, everyone’s favorite motorcycle-riding DEMON appeared on the Hulk cartoon and got two series’ worth of action figures and vehicles from Toy Biz. And, if this commercial is any indicator, it’s not like they tried to downplay the character’s comic book roots. That thing’s pretty intense and yet weirdly awesome. Kudos, Toy Biz!

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Audiobook Review: The Bourne Legacy By Eric Van Lustbader, Read By Scott Brick

The Bourne Legacy is an interesting creature as far as stories go. First off, it’s one of the Bourne books published after Robert Ludlum’s death and written by an author named Eric Van Lustbader. This is the first Bourne book I’ve ever encountered, so I won’t be able to compare styles until I get to The Bourne Identity in my most recent Ambitious Reading List. It’s also interesting because, even though there was a film out earlier this year with this title, I’m fairly certain the two have nothing in common aside from names.

With all that out of the way, I actually really enjoyed this audiobook, which was read by one of my favorite readers Scott Brick (he does an awesome job on Nelson DeMille’s books and Brad Meltzer’s). From what I gathered and remember (it’s been a while since we finished this one actually, so some of the details might be a little fuzzy, Bourne has been doing his whole history professor thing for a while until someone tries to kill him and then takes out some of his friends. Bourne confronts the assailant, but neither kill the other. Bourne thinks he’s being framed and heads to France and Hungary to try and find out what’s going on. Meanwhile, the story also focuses on the assailant, a group of Chechen terrorists and a Lex Luthor-esque bad guy who, when not screwing with people in his secret, soundproof torture room, runs a global aid organization. In other words, there are a lot of pieces.

I liked the spy/adventure/Bond-ish nature of this story. The bad guy is a true, all evil bad guy, though some of the people he’s working with are more in the “I guess I can see where they’re coming from” vein. Bourne himself is a steadfast hero who wants to both clear his name and do the right thing. And, while I might have had a hard time following the details of the action in the fight scenes at times while driving, it was nice to listen to a book that wasn’t the usual crime, cop or PI drama. I dig those books and they work great for road trips, but it’s nice to read something different (I felt the same way when we listened to Kyle Mills’ The Second Horseman, which I now realize I never reviewed).

I want to get into some SPOILER territory here. I’m curious if other readers/listeners were tipped off to the relationship between the assassin Khan and Bourne? I felt like I knew he was Bourne’s son as early as the scene in the woods towards the beginning of the story. I don’t remember exactly what put the idea in my head, but it just clicked. I’m glad that we didn’t have to wait a super long time for them to bring it up in the story itself, but it still felt like a while.

All in all, I had a good time listening to this book. I didn’t feel like I was lost, even though this is the fourth book in the series. I just realized form looking at the series’ Wiki page that it’s actually the first one Van Lustbader wrote and the first one that came out post-Ludlum. It was a fun, taught ride that made me want to drive around even longer, which is the criteria by which I judge these things.

ARL3: Zombie Spaceship Wasteland By Patton Oswalt (2011)

I have very mixed, split-down-the-middle feelings about Patton Oswalt’s Zombie Spaceship Wasteland. Without going through and counting the pages, I think I liked exactly half of this book. It’s kind of a mixed bag of autobiography, faux greeting card explanations, epic poetry and comic stories all written by actor, comedian and long time book fan Oswalt. I’m a big fan of his stand-up, his ultra geeky character on King of Queens and the movie roles I’ve seen him in like the lead voice in Ratatouille and Young Adult.

When it came to this under-200-page book I got from the library for work purposes (I might be working on a list of Oswalt’s geekier non-stand up moments in the future), it didn’t take a long time to read and I’m not perturbed by the parts that I didn’t like, I just skipped or skimmed them. The parts I was drawn to were the autobiographical sections. Oswalt talks about the movie theater he worked at as a kid, how books and music influenced him, how his opinions on his crazy uncle changed over time, how different comedians dealt with their crafts and one terrible week he spent in Canada. My favorite part of the book was the title section in which Oswalt labels many of his fellow geeks, artists and angry young men as either a Zombie, a Spaceship or a Wasteland and how that relates to music, sci-fi and other artistic endeavors. It’s honestly brilliant, solid, well thought out and the kind of thing that everyone who considers themselves a geek should check out.

I was less interested in the epic poem he wrote about his Dungeons & Dragons character, the multiple pages of notes written regarding the punching up of a comedy screenplay or the explanations of fake greeting card artwork. There were definitely funny moments to these portions, but I didn’t want to read that when I wanted to find out more about Oswalt as a person. It wasn’t really fair of me because I was comparing my expectations to the actual product and down that path leads ruin. Oswalt even points out in the intro that the book is a hodgepodge and it really is.

At the end of the day, it only took me a few days to read this book, so my complaints are miniscule in comparison to the enjoyment I did get out of the book in a fairly short amount of time. If nothing else, it makes me like Oswalt all the more and hope that he takes the time to sit down and write more whether that’s a fictional story or an autobiographical one, I’ll be there to check it out. Essentially, ZSW is like a Patton Oswalt writing appetizer. You get an idea of what he can do in various styles and formats and probably have a good idea of what else you’d like to read of him in those styles and formats.

Friday Fisticuffs: The Three Musketeers (2011)

Hope everyone had a solid Turkey Day without eating too too much food and getting into too many awkward conversations with family members. I had a delightful time with my wife, daughter and parents. Anyway, I wanted to keep my not-nearly regular schedule of Friday Fisticuffs going even on this week of thanks because, well, I watched a cool action movie that I wanted to tell people about.

It’s not technically accurate to even call the 2011 Three Musketeers directed by Paul W.S. Anderson a Friday Fisticuffs because, while there is some hand to hand fighting, the movie hinges mostly on swordplay. But, since I don’t want to start Swordplay Saturday and have yet another regular column I can’t keep up with, we’re calling this one an FF, so just deal with it.

Like I said, I really liked this movie. It’s not brilliant or mind-blowing or anything like that, but it is super cool, bordering on awesome. PWSA is known for these big, bombastic, sleek looking action movies. For the most part, these movies are not well regarded. I myself have only seen Alien Vs. Predator (disappointing) and Death Race (don’t remember, but it’s got Statham), but with all that said, I greatly enjoyed 3M.

It’s just so damn fun. You’ve got a group of rogueish heroes including the wonderfully entertaining Ray Stevenson, a conniving woman who I can’t help but still like, period appropriate gadgets (or maybe not, who cares?), a series of villains ranging from pitiable to downright E-Vil and some of the prettiest damn action scenes I’ve seen in a awhile. Oh, and a blimp chase.

You know what, I’m calling this movie awesome. I had a ton of fun watching everything in this movie which did a great job of topping itself and upping the stakes as it went all the while keeping things light and fun enough. Again, this isn’t Citizen Kane with swords, but it is a gigantic ball of fun that I can spend a couple hours with on any given weekend. For what ti’s worth, my wife seemed to like it too (I’m guessing a big part of this was because Orlando Bloom was in it). She was also able to fill in some of the things I missed while cooking dinner as she’s seen an earlier version and knew more of the history behind the story. She’s rad like that.

Ad It Up: 80s Star Wars Video Game

 

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! I won’t be posting much today aside form this awesome ad for the home version of Star Wars The Arcade Game I got off the back of the second issue of the Machine Man miniseries from 1984. Look how excited that dude is! Hopefully you’re that excited about Turkey Day and/or Black Friday. I wish you luck in your endeavors, may the Force be with you.

Neighborhood Trade Post: District X Volume 1 & Deadshot (2005) #1-5

District X Volume 1: Mr. M (Marvel)
Written by David Hine, drawn by David Yardin, Lan Medina & Mike Perkins
Collects District X #1-6

I have a weird relationship with cop-oriented superhero comics. The first few volumes of Powers didn’t do it for me, neither did the equivalent of Gotham Central trades. Top 10 blew my mind the first time I read it, but it don’t hold up nearly as well upon re-reading. These things were going through my mind when I read District X Volume 1, a book that followed Bishop teamed up with a regular cop in the Mutant Town section of New York City. I was once again intrigued by this concept, but wasn’t sure if I’d dig it.

As it turns out, I did. See, one of my problems with the cop, crime or espionage comics is that I can just as easily see these kinds of stories in a movie or TV show. I know comics are versatile, but if you’re dealing with something relatively low budget like a revenge story, I’d kind of rather see that on a screen, unless it’s something with a ton of style like Sin City. District X understands that, while it is “NYPD Blue meets X-Men,” that doesn’t mean you can’t go bonkers with what happens and David Hine does that in these pages.

I mean, this book has a scaly fish lady who swims at a strip club, a woman who can make you see whatever she wants you too (also a stripper or hooker or something), a toad boy who secretes a substance used to get high off of, regular people turning into these cray branch-y creatures and a dude who can rearrange matter. I don’t know if I’d say that District X is better than those books I mentioned above, that’s obviously subjective, but I found myself liking this one a lot better. Still, reading this volume did make me want to give Gotham Central another try.

Deadshot #1-5 (DC)
Written by Christos Gage, drawn by Steven Cummings
Not a collection

I also happened to read the Deadshot miniseries from 2005, which also features comic book superheroics in a neighborhood setting. To be clear, this was not a collection, but individual issues my pal Kiel sent me that I’ve been waiting to dive into. In this five issue series by Christos Gage and Steven Cummings with Jimmy Palmiotti on inks, Deadshot discovers that he has an illegitmate daughter he didn’t know about. He visits the former-prostitute mother who has cleaned up her act and tries giving her money to move out of the slum they’re living in, but she refuses. So, Deadshot sticks around, kills a bunch of gang members and does a pretty great job of cleaning up the neighborhood.

It’s kind of a smaller scale Punisher that actually works. There are ups and down, but the way Gage handles Deadshot is so clear and concise with a well thought out plan that seems like it would really work in the real world. Kill some gang members and they’d be afraid to come back. If the gangs are no longer interested and the inhabitants start cleaning things up, that might attract new homeowners. A well placed threat to a slumlord will also keep the people in the neighborhood in homes.

But it’s not a cake walk. Deadshot has to deal with Green Arrow (the story takes place in Star City), a bullet proof bruised named The Closer and a small army of assassins like Deadline, Javeline and a bunch of guys even this one-time, die hard DC fan couldn’t name. All in all, this is a great series that I’m surprised isn’t collected yet. Gage is a pretty big deal in the industry and Deadshot got new life with Villains United, Secret Six and then the New 52 Suicide Squad. Seems like this series would be prime for a reprint. Actually, I’m okay with it not being. I have plans for an epic Suicide Squad binding project that will include all of that series, the 80s Deadshot mini, possibly the Giffen Squad reboot and this mini. I’m pretty stoked about it actually, now I just need to get like 50 more issues of Suicide Squad.

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Super Powers Super Mobile

I can’t believe it’s been two years since I posted a Super Powers TCT! Hopefully this one featuring the Super Mobile and the Lexor 7 (SP?) will make up for it. Looking back at that older post and then watching this clip remind me of how much I freaking loved toys back in the 80s. I used to have so much fun taking my guys (that’s what I called them) and having all kinds of crazy adventures around my living room, even building my own playsets and using whatever I could find to make things more dangerous for our heroes, just like the kids in this commercial. Do kids do this anymore? If not, they should be taught how to play based solely on Super Powers, Secret Wars, He-Man, G.I. Joe and Transformers commercials.