Tagged: pop culture

Review: Spaceballs: The Animated Series

Review: Spaceballs: The Animated Series

There was once a time when Mel Brooks was considered a pioneer of comedy, a trendsetter in satire,  even a spoof master, but if the debut of [[[G4’s Spaceballs: The Animated Series]]], that time has long passed. This was a perfect example of how NOT to reinvent a franchise. It was bound to happen with films being made of Broadway shows and Broadway shows being made of his films that Mel Brooks (who is not only attached as Executive Producer, but also reprises his roles as Scrube and Yogurt) would try to reinvent the [[[Spaceballs]]] film with a poorly produced animated series, but whether it was a lack of his own creativity, or the network’s inane intention to hit a demographic, this show was terrible.

The series is supposed to follow the events of the film, provided that the ending never happened, and Lonestar and his band of heroes gets in wacky misadventures every week to foil the plans of Dark Helmet and President Scrube. There are various minor pop culture and [[[Star Wars]]] references, but it’s hard enough to get through the “jokes” as it is.

It’s unknown what legal issues went on during the production, but this show was originally slated to be released sometime in 2007, and then, without mention, disappeared until recently. The series has the feel of a flash-made web series, and is even edited for release on the G4 network. This only hurts the show more because instead of getting the vulgar visual humor, we get cut-and-paste images and voices that were changed in postproduction for the G4 demographic of boys under the age of 17.

The show could actually work, if they didn’t trade in the impeccable timing and vaudevillian dialogue of the movie with boob jokes and outdated Star Wars Episodes 1-3 references. The voicework falls in line with the poor production, as Brooks comes back to voice his characters President Scrube and Yogurt, while Daphne Zuniga comes back for Princess Vespa. The show, as a whole, is just awful and probably won’t last very long. If one day they decide to drop the censor bars and release the series on DVD or the web, it may be worth a watch, but until then; it should probably be avoided. RATING: 0/10

Webcomics You Should Be Reading: ‘Player Vs. Player’

It started as just a gaming comic, but expanded to much, much more. It’s one of the most popular independent webcomics out there. It’s spawned books, cartoons, shirts, and even plush toys. It’s won an Eisner Award. And it shows no signs of stopping after ten years online.

It’s Scott Kurtz’s PvP .

Cole, Brent, Jade, Francis and Skull make up the primary cast, and the staff of PvP magazine, a gaming-centric publication that’s typically ignored by the cast in favor of wacky misadventures. Cole is the responsible grown-up (when he’s not jumping ditches in his replica General Lee), Brent is the Mac-loving artist type (and constant victim of panda attack), Jade is the hot chick who also plays games (and is often the “straight man” of the group), Francis is the twitch-gaming teenager, and Skull is the loveable-but-incredibly-stupid mythological creature (he’s a troll).

Kurtz’s style is a broad-based humor, backed up with ongoing plotlines. Pretty much every strip has a punchline, but there’s a continuity over weeks and years, and the characters develop throughout the strip’s run. It plays like a newspaper comic, if the average reader was a software engineer, rather than a little old lady.

If you’re intent on paying for additional PvP, there are six books available, five through Dark Horse (collections of pamphlets produced by Dark Horse, which are “enhanced” collections of strips published online) and a book of original material produced by Dork Storm Press. Shirts and books (and toys, as they’re produced) are available from the store, and then the random-and-amusing animated series.


Review: ‘Starman Omnibus Vol. 1’ by James Robinson and Tony Harris

The true measure of James Robinson’s Starman is how, 14 years later, the series remains fresh and invigorating. The story of Jack Knight reluctantly taking his father’s mantle as Starman and protecting Opal City is endlessly inventive, an odd and challenging riff on the superhero.

Now is a perfect time to appreciate the series again, as DC is somewhat surprisingly collecting the entire [[[Starman]]] run into six omnibuses ($49.99 each). The first holds 17 issues, each filled with Robinson’s elaborately labyrinthine narration and plotting.

The first three issues are a perfect example of Robinson’s creative approach. In one night, Jack’s brother, who had assumed the Starman mantle, is killed amid a massive attack launched by an old Starman foe. While it’s a flurried and violent opening, Robinson stretches the story, mining each angle of the fight for richness.

Through that gradual unfolding of Jack taking up the cosmic rod, his character becomes immediately rich and deep. That, no doubt, helped the book to become such a lasting success.


Primary Sources, by Dennis O’Neil

Primary Sources, by Dennis O’Neil

In days of yore – my yore anyway – I briefly wondered if my particular literary backwater, the writing of comic books, would be properly remembered. It seemed to me that young snots such as myself were getting attention – interviews and the like – and the guys who were around at the beginning, the guys who virtually created the form, were pretty much ignored, although many of them were still alive and frisky.

I needn’t have worried and I didn’t, which is good because, even more than most worry, this variety would have been a waste of time.

I do wish there had been more interviews with…oh, to cite the first name that pops into the shopworn old psyche, Bill Everett. And I don’t remember ever reading a Q and A with Carl Burgos: if none exists, too bad. Even Bill Finger doesn’t seem to have left many historical footprints, and some of what we know about him comes from people like me, whose memories are emphatically not to be trusted.

Having said all that: comics are undoubtedly the most documented medium/art form in history. They came to their early maturity just in time to benefit from the explosion of media and distribution, and the belated realization that every art form was pop culture once, and none are prima facie inferior. And guys like Gerry Jones know how to use the information sources available and have the patience and literary skill to put the pieces together.


Hot podcast links!

Hot podcast links!

The holiday heat is finally cooling down and I can finally take the headphones off and sit back with a frosty iced tea and gather up all the news and notes from this week’s round of Big ComicMix Broadcasts:

• Even though Andrew Pepoy’s performance of The Hourglass in the Stop Time Chronicles has passed, the comic book based show itself continues from the Chicago Tap Theater. Get more info of upcoming events here.


• To get info on the advance release of the Ultimate #100 Project trade pb (featuring all 100 versions of that cover), plan on being at Wizard World Chicago – OR get info from The Hero Initaiative here. Remember you cab always order it from your retailer as well in the September Previews.

• The rebirth of Nexus is coming very soon – and there is a lot of preview material here, including a chance to join the NEXUS ARMY!

Stargate fans can preview the film written and produced by the cast and crew here. You can also get a copy of A Dog’s Breakfast at ITunes or Amazon Unbox.

• Don’t forget to check out Danielle Corsetto’s Girls With Sling Shots, updated three times a week – right here. Look for GWS coming to a comic shop soon as well.

Starting next week, we begin our Countdown To San Diego on the Big ComicMix Broadcasts. It’s arguably the nation’s biggest pop culture event (or as some call it, “The Geek Prom”), so don’t miss out. We’ll also have more summer reading tips, a big ol’ pile of new comics and DVDs to preview – and this little movie about some Boy Wizard! 

Rest up – you’re gonna need it!

Dennis O’Neil: Heroes and Villains

Dennis O’Neil: Heroes and Villains

Dennis O'NeilWhen writer John Broome, artist Gil Kane, and the real villain, editor Julius Schwartz, reinvented the Green Lantern in 1959, they were corrupting the youth of America, or at least the comics reading segment thereof, by promoting authoritarian attitudes and glorifying barely disguised fascism.

Weren’t they?

I mean, didn’t we agree, in last week’s installment of this feature, that Green Lantern was changed from a guy with magical powers derived from a lantern and a ring, a bit of a loner, not unlike Aladdin, into a guy with superscientific gimmickry who gave unquestioning obedience to his masters, the self-styled Guardians of the Galaxy? A member of a uniformed corps?

Well, maybe not.