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UPDATE: I’ve been so scatter brained lately that I completely forgot to plug my new dad blog Pop Poppa. Check it out for all things father and kid-related.

For CBR, I’ve talked to Joe Casey about Haunt, Matt Hawkins about Top Cow, Joshua Fialkov about The Last of the Greats, Kevin McCarthy about Epoch and Enrique Carrion about Vescell.

I also wrote my monthly Five Fave Avengers post over on Marvel.com. Last week’s spotlight was on Black Panther writer David Liss and all around swell guy to talk about comics with!

My buddies Zach Oat of Diamond Select Toys and freelance video dude Alex Kropinak put together an awesome video for DST’s M.A.X. MiniMates. I love the M.A.S.K. feel of it!

Jim Shooter‘s account of creating Dazzler is fascinating. Click the link and find out how KISS and Rodney Dangerfield were involved (sorta).

If you’re a comic fan and have been enjoying the behind the scenes goldmine that is Jim Shooter’s blog (seriously, check it out if you haven’t yet), then Ron Marz‘s explanation of how he “was offered” the writing chores on Secret Defenders is also right up your alley.

Roger Daltrey told Rolling Stone that Pete Townshend’s hearing is going. That news makes me sadder than it probably should.

My buddy and Marvel.com editor Ben Morse waxes poetic on the character Jack Flagg. He almost makes me want to read his appearances in Thunderbolts. Almost.

Esquire‘s got Dean Martin’s hamburger recipe. Damn, that dude was slick. I should make these burgers and watch Ocean’s 11 again.

Anthony Bourdain did a quick blog post on Travel Channel’s site talking about the beauty of Cuba. I saw the No Reservations episode and he’s right, it’s strangely alluring and beautiful.

Tobe Hooper talked to Wired.com about his new book Midnight Movie, which is about an old Hooper movie showing at South By Southwest and turning the viewers into zombies. Eh, I might bite if it’s on a discount table somewhere in a year. Puns!

Black Panther Trade Post: Little Green Men & Back To Africa

BLACK PANTHER: LITTLE GREEN MEN (Marvel)
Written by Reginald Hudlin, drawn by Francis Portella, Andrea Divito & Cafu
Collects Black Panther #31-34

One of the many blog projects I started for myself but never finished was going to be a book-by-book review of Reginald Hudlin’s Black Panther book for Marvel, explaining why I thought it was awesome. If you’re curious, you can check out my reviews of volume one and two. As I explained in the first one–which, damn, I wrote two years ago–I started reading the book three or four arcs into it’s run, got hooked and then went back and collected the trades. I really enjoyed how Hudlin utilized the Marvel Universe from the history of Wakanda to putting a team of villains together that included the Rhino and Batroc the Leaper. It reminded me of how I used to play with my toys as a kid. I didn’t care what line or movie they originally came from, they all got thrown into the box and pulled out as needed. “I need a ninja! I choose you, Karate Kid ninja!”

Hudlin continued this spirit into T’Challa’s search for a mate, his wedding to Storm, his stance throughout Civil War and his eventual joining of the Fantastic Four–along with Storm–when Reed and Sue took off to repair their awful marriage after CW. However, and I can’t remember specifically why, it was around this time that the book started to lose me. It might have had something to do with the fact that Black Panther and Storm were only in about one arc of FF, but they hopped around the universe with Johnny and Ben for twice that many in Black Panther. Or maybe I just wasn’t enjoying the toys Hudlin decided to pull out of the box like a planet of Skrulls who think they’re actually 50s gangsters and a golden frog that can traverse time and space.

Whatever it was, it didn’t carry over into my reading of these issues, thankfully. I don’t have the volume before this one in my collection, but I remember that it involved them going to the Marvel Zombies universe. They now find themselves on the aforementioned Skrull planet, which apparently the Thing spent some time on as a gladiator. They don’t seem to have learned their lesson and have a similar set up in their version of NYC, but this time, there’s a new group up in Harlem: Skrulls who have taken on the look of that area from the Civil Rights Era, including Skrull Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X. I’m not sure whether I like this story idea or not, but I did find it interesting that Storm found herself talking to Skrull versions of the characters that Professor X and Magneto have been modeled after.

Anyway, it’s a fun little story with some interesting call backs that I wasn’t familiar with going in (and actually wish there were some editor notes to explain, like when Ben was on this planet). Also, even though three artists drew four issues, there’s an iconic, bold look to the book. That’s not to say the style is completely uniform, I actually like Francis Portella best of the bunch because he threw in a lot more detail. I found myself comparing Things from the different issues and his looked the craggiest.

BLACK PANTHER: BACK TO AFRICA (Marvel)
Written by Reginald Hudlin, drawn by Francis Portella, Carlos Rodriguez, Kevin Sharpe, Andrea Divito, Cafu, Larry Stroman & Ken Lashley
Collects Black Panther #35-38 and Annual #1

Thankfully, Portella winds up being the main artist in the next collection which not only brought Black Panther and Storm back to Earth, but also got at least T’Challa back home (Storm had to go deal with Messiah Complex stuff). Things aren’t all hunky dory in Wakanda, though. His sister has been captured, some of his people think he’s been neglecting his kingly duties and the man he has never beaten in battle Killmonger has taken over a neighboring country and declared war.

The continue my metaphor from above, Hudlin pulled out some fun toys that I enjoyed with this arc. I wasn’t as familiar with Killmonger, but the point was made pretty quickly. Another set of villains is also brilliantly included and there’s even callbacks to previous issues of this series with items and characters returning and being utilized when T’Challa needs help the most.

I just realized while writing this, that in addition to playing with continuity and existing characters and doing fun things with them, the real reason I like Black Panther so much is because he’s such a strong character. He’s what Superman should be, but maybe a little more arrogant. T’Challa never doubts his skills or the ability of his people to overcome whatever threat they might face. He knows that he and they are warriors of a class the world has never seen. He might be more political than Superman, but he always does the right thing and never feels bad about it. He’s also got some Batman thrown in because he always has a trick up his sleeve to take out an enemy and, let’s be honest, you tweak like three things on his costume and he’s wearing Batman’s duds.

Anyway, this collection ends with an annual that takes a look far in the future of the Marvel U. T’Challa and Storm’s son is marrying Luke Cage’s daughter and we get to see the festivities while also learning what has happened to the heroes in the time that has passed. I read this book a little while back and don’t really remember anything about this particular comic except what I already mentioned, but I’m glad it’s in the collection for completest sake. I should also mention that this collection brings Hudlin’s run on Black Panther to an end, which is something I didn’t realize until just now. It actually makes a very fitting book end to the first trade thematically and set-up-wise. After this, Jason Aaron came on and did one of the better Secret Invasion tie-ins. I’m not sure what happened after that. I know his sister took over for a while and he’s currently doing his best to keep Hell’s Kitchen safe, but I’ve only read issues here and there for those runs.

Casting Internets

Sam Sarkar’s The Vault is a pretty interesting book, check out the story I did on it over at CBR. Same goes for All Nighter, Mysterious Ways and Shinku.

I also did some goodness for Marvel.com about the upcoming Black Panther Point 1 issue!

The hilarious and awesome Rob Bricken of Topless Robot fame did an excellent FAQ based on the never-to-air Wonder Woman pilot.

In the last year, I’ve discovered I’m a big fan of gin, so Esquire‘s Summer Gin Guide was quite informative.

I thought John C Abell’s post on Wired about how eBooks are falling short right now was a fun read.

Ed Brubaker’s Criminal has never really lit me up, but his recent interview with Tom Spurgeon definitely has me curious about this new mini.

I’m linking to my buddy Ben‘s post about Batman being the worst JLAer not only because he name checked me in it, but also because it’s a convincing argument.

This might be a little creepy, but I actually wished I had these kinds of video glasses when I worked in the city because, as David Cross said, when walking the streets of NYC you’re constantly deciding whether to look at the most beautiful woman in the world or the craziest guy in the world. I also would have settled for simple camera glasses. (via Wired)

Anyone interested in comics, regardless of what kind, should be reading Jim Shooter’s blog. It’s fascinating. Take the one about the origin of the Dark Phoenix Saga as an example. I love this kind of behind the scenes stuff.

Speaking of behind the scenes comic book stuff, check out Ron Marz’s latest CBR column where he discusses what went into his decision to leave Witchblade. If you just thought “Pfft, it’s Witchblade, who cares?” I recommend checking out the first trade, it’s good stuff.

Wow, Jimmy Page came out to reprise his role as session guitar player for Donovan’s Sunshine Superman in London. I hope someone recorded it. (via Rolling Stone)

The Red Hot Chili Peppers will have a new album out on August 30th called I’m With You with new guitar player Josh Klinghoffer. Their most recent records have been musically amazing, but not necessarily the most interesting records. Hopefully this one brings back more of the funk. (via Rolling Stone)

I’ve never been so interested in a headline and then immediately worried by a subhed as I was with this Rolling Stone.com example: JACK WHITE MAY RECORD MUSIC FOR ‘SCHOOLBOYS IN DISGRACE’ MOVIE Film version of Kings concept album is being developed by Bobcat Goldthwait.

Dig this crazy skate park designed like a pinball machine! (via Wired)

Kinect Star Wars looks exactly how I want it to. Can’t wait.

Speaking of lovely time wasting video games, Spider-Man: Edge of Time sounds pretty rad too. The fact that it’s written by Peter David is awesome. I’ve still got to get my hands on Shattered Dimension, but have plenty to keep me busy until the used price drops a little lower. (via CBR)

I’ve listened to and really enjoyed Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi records in the past (she’s an amazing vocalist), so I’m happy to see their new band Tedeschi Trucks Band got a good review for their first record on Rolling Stone.

Casting Internets

I talked to Greg Pak about him ending his run on Hulk with “Heart Of The Monster” over on Marvel.com. I also chatted with David Liss about his upcoming “Storm Hunter” arc on Black Panther.

I also talked to Jimmy Palmiotti about his upcoming one-shot called The Tattered Man with Justin Gray on CBR.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if the director’s cut of the 90s Captain America movie wound up being awesome? /Film only mentions a Blu-ray version, I hope they do a regular DVD as well because, well, I’m a Luddite when it comes to such things. Making it two hours and less action-y, though? We’ll see.

The new US co-produced season of Torchwood kicks off on July 8th on Starz which hopefully means it will be on Netflix Instant the next day. (via Topless Robot)

Yeah, this seems about right. Good work Sean.

My buddy Alex Segura talked to Robot 6 earlier this week. Interesting stuff.

Ben Morse sent me this link about Snooki being three hours late for a WWE shoot and reportedly being pretty sloshed the whole time. Remember when she wasn’t a walking parody of herself? Yeah, I’m starting to forget too. (via 411Mania)

If you’re a fan of reubens and macaroni and cheese, I highly recommend making Rachel Ray‘s Recipe for reuben mac and cheese, it’s AMAZING.

Beau Smith talks about things he misses over on The Flying Fist Ranch. I also miss him writing Guy Gardner Warrior, one of my all time favorite books.

I really enjoyed reading this Rolling Stone article about Alice In Chains from 1992.

Casting Internets

Super awesome excellent congratulations to my buddy Sean Collins and his wife Amy for welcoming in their daughter Helena to the world!

I worked on a piece for Marvel.com about Black Panther’s costumes, go check it out.

Someone needs to show the Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark people The Producers. There’s a way out, guys!

John Cryer went on Conan in response to Charlie Sheen’s “troll” comments. Good stuff.

I wish Doug Mahnke was doing interiors on Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown as well as pretty much every other comic. Flashpoint is getting curiouser and curiouser. (via The Source)

After watching nearly every Bond movie (I’m SO close) and disliking the 1966 Casino Royale it’s interesting to hear that an earlier version of the script would have been a lot more faithful to the book. (via /Film)

Alec Baldwin gives Charlie Sheen some advice over on HuffPo. Thanks to the missus for the link!

NME laid out the set list for the upcoming Foo Fighters cover record (actual vinyl) called Medium Rare. Looks like an interesting mix, if I can track a copy down and dig my turntable out, I’ll bite.

Finally, I’m not sure what to think about Sublime putting out a new record. I’m kind of not sure what the point is, especially if you’ve already got Long Beach Dub All-Stars. Anyone hear or see them live? (via Rolling Stone)