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Peter Bagge’s Other Stuff

Peter Bagge is a world-class grump, and I have to respect that. I tend to connect that to his libertarianism, but the direction of influence is unclear and it’s not as if comics isn’t full of grumpy loners outside of libertarians, either. But Bagge has had a long career both making comics about fictional grumpy, obnoxious people and making comics about how he is libertarian and so entitled to be grumpy personally about such-and-such, so he’s been leaning into it for some time now.

Although, come to think of it, the last decade of his work, focusing mostly on biographies of strong-willed but not necessarily libertarian people of the past, might show him starting to walk down a path of slightly less grumpiness — and I emphasize slightly.

But here I am looking at Classic Bagge, the man who spent more than a decade making a comic book called Hate and meant it the whole time. So expect every page to be pickled in bile, to mix my metaphors.

Peter Bagge’s Other Stuff  is the odds-and-sods collection from the Hate era, gathering stories he did with other creators (mostly as the writer) or for other purposes, most but not all of which appeared, first or eventually, in the quarterly or annual Hate comics of the ’90s and ’00s. It is absolutely chock-full of grumps and cranks and losers and weirdos of all types: you would be hard-put to find a single functional human being on any page of this book.

So this may be a book best read in bits rather than straight through. Bile and spleen can be fun, but too much will curdle. And there’s enough here to curdle the strategic federal cheese reserve.

What you will find in Other Stuff:

  • four stories about young hipster Lovey and her horrible friends
  • the Musical Urban Legends series, and a couple of related rock ‘n’ roll stories
  • a large section of collaborations, with work by both Hernandez brothers, Alice Cooper (writing), Adrian Tomine, Alan Moore (writing), Daniel Clowes, Johnny Ryan, Danny Hellman, R. Crumb, Rick Altergott, and a few others
  • six single-page biographies of scientists
  • several other assorted “true” stories, some of them vaguely reportage
  • a dozen-and-a-half strips of “The Shut-Ins,” early-Internet super-adopters and shunners of the outside world, created to appear on a website promoting Adobe products
  • and a couple of even weirder things
This is very varied and odd; the section with collaborative work is possibly even weirder than the stuff I gave more attention to above (a R. Crumb Cathy parody! Ack! Dilbert as a Muslim terrorist, offensive in so many ways I can’t even catalog them!). Bagge is a creator seemingly unafraid of letting out every idea he has ever had, which is good for the breadth and depth of his work but also can result in some what-the-hell?! moments. This book has more than a few of them.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

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Naturalist: A Graphic Adaptation by Wilson, Ottaviani, and Butler

When you’re talking about people who have an inordinate fondness for insects, you probably mean either God or E.O. Wilson. And only one of them is a person you can actually have a conversation with. (Well, Wilson is 91, and probably still busy enough that it would be tough to get some of his time — but you know what I mean.)

Actually, you can differentiate them a bit more than that — God is said to like beetles better, and Wilson was always an ant guy. Just in case the distinction becomes important in your life.

Edward O. Wilson is the towering biologist of the 20th century, which is particularly impressive since that was such a physics-heavy century. He won two Pulitzer Prizes for books he wrote, is responsible for hundreds of scientific papers and possibly the foundational biological theory of the era, and is one of the pillars of the conservation movement. Naturalist  was his memoir — the story of how he grew up, got interested in ants, got into science, and navigated most of his career. That book came out in 1994, when Wilson was 65, and just a couple of years before he retired from active teaching at Harvard — but, as I said above, he’s still going strong now at 91, and has published as many books since Naturalist as he did before it. So the idea probably was that Naturalist was going to be basically the story of his life, but he may need to add a second volume at this rate.

Naturalist has had a strong life, and has been particularly influential on young readers interested in science — obviously those kids who like bugs, but also the ones who end up going into chemistry or physics or possibly even (gasp!) engineering. [1] So clearly someone — maybe even Wilson himself, since he’s obviously a smart guy with a lot of ideas — thought it would be good to do one of those new-fangled “graphic novel” versions of Naturalist, since all of the kids love them these days.

(I may be deliberately making this sound silly for comic effect. But it was a good idea.)

However it happened, Island Press — the nonprofit that publishes the prose edition of Naturalist — found Jim Ottaviani, the premier and almost only writer of science in comics form, to adapt Wilson’s book into comics and cartoonist, illustrator, and cartoonist C.M. Butzer to draw it. Colors are by Hilary Sycamore, but the pre-publication proof I read only features color for the first seventeen story pages, so I can’t really speak to her work here as a whole. The graphic adaptation came out last November, and is widely available now — so now there are two versions of Naturalist available to be handed to a budding scientist, one of which features lots of pictures of ants to go with Wilson’s words.

As usual with Ottaviani’s work, there are lots of caption boxes and dialogue — he likes to get in as many of the real words of the books and scientists he’s adapting as possible. So this will be a denser graphic novel than many readers are used to: I’d say that’s no bad thing, since science is demanding and full of details that require close attention. Anyone looking for something quick and surface-y is not cut out for a life in science to begin with.

And, of course, this is the story of a life, and one intertwined with field exploration, collaboration with other scientists, and writing — some of it is about external action, but most of what was important in Wilson’s life happened in his thoughts, as he examined ants around the world, thought about them back in Massachusetts, scribbled ideas on a board with colleagues, and bounced their theories off the real world to make sure they actually worked.

I wish there were more graphic novels like this, and fewer about punching people, but that’s the world we live in. Intellectual activity is always less popular than punching. But this one is out there, and it’s really good at what it does. If you know someone who could be a scientist eventually, this would be a good book to give her.

[1] Note: your present writer’s son is a budding engineer, in the second year of a five-year undergraduate ChemE program, and so he kids because he loves.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

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Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru

A note to copyeditors of the future: the radio story from 1946 is “The Clan of the Fiery Cross,” styled in roman within quotation marks and spelling Clan with a capital C. The 2020 graphic novel loosely based on that radio play is Superman Smashes the Klan , in italics and spelling Klan with the K used by its namesake.

One suspects the relative political power of that real-world Klan, and possibly of the corporate entities that owned (then) National Periodical Publications and (now) DC Comics, are responsible for the switch from C to K. But that’s outside my remit here.

That radio story has been mentioned as a major factor in the waning power of the real-world Klan in the post-war years. I’m not a historian, but it makes sense to me — they are not generally called out as strongly active during the main civil rights era beginning the next decade, so the timing, at least, makes sense. And it’s a comforting message to superhero fans: See! we can do good work in the world, and not have to make any effort at all! Just being a fan of Superman makes the world better!

This graphic novel is not driving that message. Stories themselves generally don’t; stories are about action, not feeling good about yourself for liking those stories. The active verb in the title is there for a reason: this Klan of the Fiery Kross needs to be smashed, and it will not go away quietly by itself.

And, while Superman is the subject of the title sentence, he’s not alone here: Superman alone cannot smash the Klan. That takes more people: a Black police detective, some familiar reporters named Lois and Jimmy, the members of the Lee family at the center of this story, and even a local white kid at first hostile to his new neighbors. One might even say it takes a city, or a village.

The Lee family are moving to a leafy Metropolis neighborhood in 1946 at the beginning of Smashes the Klan, moving out of Chinatown largely because the father, Dr. Lee, is taking a job as chief bacteriologist of the Metropolis Health Department. They meet their new neighbors, who are mostly friendly — especially once it’s clear son Tommy will be a big asset to the baseball team fielded by the local interfaith Unity House. But our viewpoint character in the Lee family is daughter Roberta, who is less sure about their new neighborhood and home.

Tommy’s rocket arm dislodged Chuck Riggs, previously the star pitcher, from that position, which does not leave Chuck happy. Chuck’s Uncle Matt is also coincidentally — this is a Superman story — the local Grand Scorpion of the Klan of the Fiery Kross, so he seizes Chuck’s grievance and the Lees mere presence in their neighborhood as reason for an old-fashioned cross-burning and fire-bombing.

The Lee’s house is saved by quick action by Tommy and by neighbors, including that Black detective, Inspector Henderson. (Whose help Dr. Lee at first does not want, when he thought Henderson was just a random local Black man.) Daily Planet reporters arrive the next morning to report on the situation — of course it’s Lois Lane and Clark Kent, since the Planet has never had any other reporters in seventy years of operation.

But Superman is dealing with assimilation issues of his own. The day before, he fought a Nazi would-be supervillain, Atom Man, and kept him from destroying the Metropolis Dam. But Atom Man is powered by a strange green crystal — anyone who has ever consumed any Superman story is nodding right now — and that gives Superman first a strange wave of nausea and weakness, and then continued hallucinations of two figures who claim to be his real parents, aliens who rocketed him to Earth from  the doomed world Krypton. (Well, they’re not that succinct and specific to begin with. But we know the story, and it is the same story.)

Tommy gets in more danger, the Klan continues to foment violence, and that green crystal will of course come back. Dr. Lee’s employer, and some of his co-workers, turn out to be quite different than what we had expected.

In the end, Superman Smashes the Klan. But he can’t do it alone. And he can’t do it without confronting his own past and understanding who he is: without publicly claiming his place as an immigrant and alien. His story — an immigrant, coming to a new place, and wanting to be friendly and helpful — is explicitly twinned with Roberta’s, and with all of the other people the Klan hates.

This is a story for younger readers, and a story about Superman, so you can be assured everything will work out for the best, and only the most unredeemable will be smashed — anyone who can be brought around will be. Writer Gene Luen Yang will make sure of that, as he also makes his story deeper and more resonant than a Superman tale for pre-teens had to be. Art team Gurihiru gives it all a modern, clean, manga-lite look — easily readable and dynamic.

This is a book a lot of Americans should read: there are far too many Chuck Riggses out there, unthinkingly racist and led by family members or friends or media to believe evil things and, in far too many cases, to do evil things. This story says that most of them are redeemable; I would like to believe that. But they have to want to be redeemed. They have to want to smash the Klan.

For those who do, this book is there for you. And if you’re in a position to put this book in front of a Chuck Riggs, someone who might be amenable to it but does not, right now, want to smash the Klan — doing that would be a very good thing. 

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

New Images from Justice Society: World War II
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New Images from Justice Society: World War II

BURBANK, CA – The Flash speeds into the middle of an epic battle between Golden Age DC Super Heroes and Nazis in Justice Society: World War II, the next entry in the popular series of the DC Universe Movies. Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, DC and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, the feature-length animated film will be released on Digital starting April 27, 2021, and on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray on May 11, 2021. The film is rated PG-13 for violence and some bloody images.

Justice Society: World War II will be available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack (USA $39.99 SRP; Canada $44.98 SRP) and Blu-ray (USA $29.98 SRP; Canada $39.99 SRP) as well as on Digital. The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc in 4K with HDR, a Blu-ray disc featuring the film in hi-definition, and a digital version of the movie. The Blu-ray features a Blu-ray disc with the film in hi-definition and a digital version of the movie.

Justice Society: World War II finds modern-day Barry Allen – prior to the formation of the Justice League – discovering he can run even faster than he imagined, and that milestone results in his first encounter with the Speed Force. The Flash is promptly launched into the midst of a raging battle – primarily between Nazis and a team of Golden Age DC Super Heroes known as The Justice Society of America. Led by Wonder Woman, the group includes Hourman, Black Canary, Hawkman, Steve Trevor and the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. The Flash quickly volunteers to assist his fellow heroes in tipping the scales of war in their favor, while the team tries to figure out how to send him home. But it won’t be easy as complications and emotions run deep in this time-skipping World War II thriller.

Stana Katic (Castle, Absentia, A Call To Spy) and Matt Bomer (Doom Patrol, White Collar, The Boys in the Band), who made their DC Universe Movies debuts as Lois Lane and Superman in the 2013 film Superman: Unbound, return to the popular animated film series in the lead roles of Wonder Woman and The Flash for Justice Society: World War II. The star-studded cast includes Geoffrey Arend (Madam Secretary, Batman: Hush) as Charles Halstead/Advisor, Armen Taylor (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind) as Jay Garrick, Elysia Rotaru (Arrow) as Black Canary, Liam McIntyre (The Flash, Spartacus, Justice League Dark: Apokolips War) as Aquaman, Omid Abtahi (American Gods, The Mandalorian) as Hawkman, Matthew Mercer (Critical Role, Overwatch) as Hourman, Keith Ferguson (Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, Overwatch) as Dr. Fate, Darin De Paul (Overwatch, Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge) as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Ashleigh LaThrop (The Handmaid’s Tale, Utopia, The Kominsky Method) as Iris West, and Chris Diamantopoulos (Episodes, Silicon Valley, voice of Mickey Mouse) as Steve Trevor.

Jeff Wamester (Guardians of the Galaxy TV series) directs Justice Society: World War II from a screenplay by Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, DC Super Hero Girls) and Jeremy Adams (Supernatural, Batman: Soul Of The Dragon). Producers are Jim Krieg (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight) and Kimberly S. Moreau (Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles). Butch Lukic (Superman: Man of Tomorrow, Constantine: City of Demons) is Supervising Producer.  Sam Register is Executive Producer.

Justice Society: World War II Special Features

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray and Digital

DC Showcase – Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth! (New Animated Short) – Jack Kirby’s beloved DC comic creation features the last civilized teenage boy on a post-apocalyptic Earth ruled by talking animals. In this short, Kamandi and his friends Prince Tuftan of the Tiger Kingdom and humanoid mutant Ben Boxer are kidnapped by a gorilla cult dedicated to finding the reincarnation of their god, The Mighty One. Golgan, the cult’s leader, puts Kamandi’s team through a series of deadly tests to find if any of them know the secret of … The Mighty One.

Adventures in Storytelling: Justice Society: World War II (New Featurette) – The film’s creative minds chat about the methods used to produce the touchstone sequences in Justice Society: World War II.

A Sneak Peek at the next DC Universe Movie – An advance look at the next animated film in the popular DC Universe Movies collection, Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One.

Look Back – Justice League vs. Teen Titans (Featurette) – A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Justice League vs. Teen Titans, a 2016 thriller that follows Damian Wayne’s induction into the Teen Titans. Complicating his training is the growing presence of Raven’s satanic, world-conquering father Trigon, whose escape plan from his inter-dimensional prison includes spreading his demonic forces across the globe, infiltrating the minds and bodies of the Justice League to do his bidding. To save the universe and prevent a literal hell on Earth, the Teen Titans must rescue – or defeat – the Justice League, and intern Trigon for all eternity.

Look Back – Wonder Woman: Bloodlines (Featurette) – An intriguing glance into the production behind 2019’s Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, which finds Amazon Princess Diana helping a troubled young girl enlisted by a deadly organization known as Villainy, Inc., whose criminal members have their sights set on invading Themyscira. The expansive adventure is packed with brutal battles, mysterious mythology, and endless wonder!

From the DC Vault: Justice League: “Legends, Part One”, “Legends, Part Two”

Justice Society: World War II will also be available on Movies Anywhere. Using the free Movies Anywhere app and website, consumers can access all their eligible movies by connecting their Movies Anywhere account with their participating digital retailer accounts.

DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION ELEMENTS

On April 27, 2021, Justice Society: World War II will be available to own in high definition and standard definition from select digital retailers including Amazon, the Apple TV app, FandangoNOW, PlayStation, Vudu, Xbox and others. On May 11, 2021, Justice Society: World War II will be made available digitally on Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.

BASICS

PRODUCT                                                                  SRP

4K UHD Blu-ray Combo Pack                                   $39.99 USA, $44.98 Canada

Blu-ray                                                                        $29.98 USA, $39.99 Canada

Blu-ray Languages: English, Spanish, French, German

Blu-ray Subtitles: English, Spanish, French, German, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian

4K Blu-ray Languages: English, Spanish

4K Blu-ray Subtitles: English, French

Running Time: 84 minutes

Rated PG-13

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Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

I’m no more the obvious audience for this book than Gene Luen Yang was the obvious creator for it: neither of us cared all that much about basketball. The difference, I guess, is that Yang got interested in sports because of his community and a specific story at a specific time, and then created this graphic novel to tell that story and his involvement in it. [1]

Yang was a math teacher at Bishop O’Dowd, a respected private Catholic high school in Oakland, California. The men’s varsity basketball team there, the Dragons, had a strong program: they’d been among the best in the state (and California is a big, competitive state) on and off for a couple of decades. But they’d never won the state championship — coming into the 2015 season, there were 0-8 in that big game.

Yang was coming off his previous graphic-novel project, 2013’s double-barreled Boxers & Saints , and was still semi-aimlessly casting around for his next big personal comics project a year later. Of course, at the same time he was also negotiating to do more writing of other people’s properties, which Yang puts into this story as a secondary plot or background flavor. [2]

So my guess is that this was a more general period of “what do I want to do with the rest of my life.” Yang shows himself with four young children, and dividing his time in three: comics, teaching, and family. Turning comics into a day-job allowed him to simplify that down to just two divisions, which has to be appealing. His soul-searching over the Superman job is connected in this book to his being a teacher at the school: this is a book about the school and its basketball team, with Yang as the viewpoint character, rather than a story essentially about Yang’s career and life, with the school as a main setting.

But that’s what was behind it all. Yang wanted new projects, was probably already thinking on some level about needing to quit teaching to focus on comics fully, and wondered what the big deal was about the Bishop O’Dowd Dragons. So he went to talk to a fellow teacher, head coach Lou Richie.

And out of that conversation, and the events of the next year, he made Dragon Hoops , the story of primarily the 2015 team and secondarily about Yang learning about the history of the Dragons, about the players on the team in 2015, and about Richie. And then, tertiarily, about Yang himself and his career decisions — those are the least connected to the team, so Yang keeps them appropriately less important. (There’s also a minor thread about how Yang tells the story: there’s one loose, unfinished thread of this story that he didn’t want to include — but the fact that he mentions possibly not including it tells we sneaky readers that he already has included it.)

Again, Yang is the viewpoint character, and our lens into this world: this is a sports book largely for an audience that doesn’t deeply care about sports a lot of the time. But it’s not his story, and he’s not trying to make it his story. It’s the story of Richie and his players: superstars Ivan Rabb and Paris Austin, younger players like Arinze Chidom and Jeevin Sandhu, and a half-dozen others. It’s a book organized by the rhythms of a season: preparing ahead of time, early practices, the games of the season in order, and then (of course) the post-season, culminating in that big championship game again.

Yang was lucky in his story: teams fizzle out everywhere, every year. The Dragons could easily have ended up out of contention. It’s the danger of starting to write about a story before the ending is clear — Yang was something like a reporter telling this story, building blocks of how he wanted it to go while never being sure it would end the “right” way.

I won’t tell you what the ending was, or even the middle: the Dragons played a lot of games that year. And the women’s team, also called the Dragons, had some games that come in here. The story of whether or not the Dragons won is important, but more important (to Yang, at least, if not to many of the readers) is who these players were, how they worked, what they accomplished together, and how they came from different backgrounds to be part of something larger while still staying specific people.

Yang has always been interested in representation — most obviously with Chinese-Americans like himself — and Dragon Hoops is a book where he broadens that view to look more deeply at other ethnic groups in America. Most obviously, since this is about basketball and Oakland, Black Americans are central to Dragon Hoops. It was published in March of 2020, and so finished months before that — the specifics of the American racial-justice landscape have shifted hugely since that point, though not in any way that damages Yang’s story and understanding here. He is on the side of hyphenated Americans and ethnic Americans of all kinds, wanting them to have secure, real places in the world that are not reliant on the good will of white people.

Dragon Hoops never says the words “white supremacy.” But Yang writes about it nevertheless: from his own point of view, and from the lives of the Black young men who make up most of the Dragons. There are several scenes of bigotry here, directed at the Dragons — mostly trash-talking audiences at road games — and Yang picks up the way hate grabs onto anything to demean and attack, that there will always be something that those bigots use, no matter who they’re yelling at this time.

Because this is a real story. And a real story about a real basketball team of mostly Black teenagers in 2015 America is going to include some racial slurs. Maybe there will be a year when that won’t be the case. Yang hopes so. I hope so. The Dragons players hope so. But we’ll have to see.

[1] I frankly still don’t care that much about basketball: even when I did care about sports, it was the one I never got into. But I liked the book, he said brightly!

[2] Everybody’s got to eat, and everyone wants to do work that personally excites and speaks to them. So, if what Yang really wants to do with his life is write a bunch of stories about Superman punching things better, that’s great. I generally have very little interest in punching-things-better stories, though, so those background negotiations can feel to me, and readers like me, like he’s getting pulled into a sadder, lesser world after making personal stories and teaching for a living. 

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

DC Showcase Announces Third Wave of Shorts
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DC Showcase Announces Third Wave of Shorts

BURBANK, CA (January 28, 2021) – Beloved DC characters Kamandi, The Losers, Blue Beetle and Constantine are the focus of four new DC Showcase animated shorts for release by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment in 2021-2022.

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, DC and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, and inspired by characters and stories from throughout the iconic DC canon, the all-new quartet of shorts will be included on upcoming releases of DC Universe Movies, with exception of the lengthier Constantine short. The Constantine short will serve as the anchor for a compilation set to be distributed in 2022. More information will be released closer to individual street dates.

All four new DC Showcase shorts are produced by Rick Morales (Mortal Kombat Legends: Scorpion’s Revenge).

Directed by Matt Peters (Justice League Dark: Apokolips War) from a script written by Paul Giacoppo (Young Justice, Star Wars: Resistance), Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth! will be the first of the new shorts to be released. The post-apocalyptic thriller will be attached as a bonus feature to Justice Society: World War II in Spring 2021.

Launched in 2010, DC Showcase was originally comprised of four animated shorts: The Spectre (2/23/2010), Jonah Hex (7/27/2010), Green Arrow (9/28/2010) and Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam (11/9/2010). An additional short, Catwoman (10/18/2011), was attached the following year to the release of Batman: Year One. For 2019-2020, DC Showcase returned with five shorts: Sgt. Rock (8/6/2019) Death (10/22/2019), The Phantom Stranger (3/17/2020), Adam Strange (5/19/2020), and the interactive Batman: Death in the Family (10/13/2020).

Actors featured on DC Showcase shorts have included Malcolm McDowell, James Garner (in his final performance), Jerry O’Connell, Linda Hamilton, Karl Urban, Gary Cole, Alyssa Milano, Bruce Greenwood, Thomas Jane, Michael Rooker, Eliza Dushku, Neal McDonough, Ariel Winter, Danica McKeller, George Newbern, Michelle Trachtenberg, Charlie Weber, Arnold Vosloo, Leonard Nam, Jamie Chung, Peter Serafinowicz, and Michael Rosenbaum.

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Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye (2 vols.) by Jon Rivera, Gerard Way, and Michael Avon Oeming

I’m sure the creators will all insist that this is totally not a superhero book, that it’s much cooler and obscure and indy and retro and hand-crafted than that. But it’s a big DC Comics book with Superman in it, whose hero is a guy with a mysterious, technologically-advanced eyeball with unexpected and plot-convenient powers, who leads a team of people in jumpsuits and drives a weird vehicle with a silly name.

So, yeah, it’s absolutely a superhero book.

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye was a twelve-issue series — I’m not sure, at this late date, if it was meant to be mini- or maxi- or ongoing, and frankly I don’t care — from 2016-2017, about the very minor DC character of the title, who had previously appeared in some forgettable ’60s stories and a few random crossovers. It was part of the “Young Animal” line, which was an attempt to recapture the sales magic of Vertigo without the benefits of time, a deep bench of British writing talent, a healthier market, and (most importantly) Karen Berger. And, as I understand it, the Animals Which Are Young was modestly successful, but has not been a long-term sustainable thing — not that very much in guys-in-tights-punching-each-other comics is “a long-term sustainable thing” this decade to begin with.

That twelve-issue series was collected in two volumes: Going Underground  (ha ha ha) and Every Me, Every You .

Cave’s adventures were written by Jon Rivera and Young Animal guru Gerard Way, and drawn by Michael Avon Oeming (whose work I haven’t seen regularly since Powers, but who is still quirky and organic, even if I think his psychedelic extravaganza fight scenes are hard to follow and not his best work). The twelve issues all make up one long story, in which Our Hero (renowned spelunker Cave Carson) and his spunky teenage daughter Chloe steal the original version of his tunneling machine, the Mighty Mole, to chase the evil spelunking team led by the eeeevil heads of the company Cave used to work for, because they are pursuing the eeeeeevil plan of an extradimensional EEEEEEEEVIL monster that intends to eat the multiverse, more or less.

Cave’s dead wife — every superhero has a dead wife or three in the fridge; it’s standard issue — turns out to have been the princess of a secret advanced subterranean race, because of course she was, and so Chloe is the heiress to Vast Powers and Responsibilities, including the only possible way to stop the aforementioned monster from snacking down on all of the worlds with Cave Carsons in them.

It gets weirder and more bizarre from there, in best Young Animal fashion, and there’s a large cast of characters mostly so Rivera and Way can kill off lots of them in ways that make readers struggle to remember who they were and why we should care. (Was that jump-suited person still on Team Evil, someone who defected once Team Evil’s evilness was clear, or an OG do-gooder? Does anyone care? Does anyone besides me find that several of them look distractingly like Ron from Kim Possible?) The large cast tunnels through the ground of Earth-DC (or maybe Earth-Young Animal?) and then through the contiguous grounds of several other alternate Earths, meeting a Cave Carson Jr. and eventually his father. Doc Magnus appears, and is even more of a dick than usual, while still not being particularly interesting as a character.

In the end, the multiverse is indeed saved from being eaten, as we all knew it would be. DC would not stop publishing umpty-zillion comics just because Cave fucking Carson couldn’t save its bread and butter, now would it?

This is a loud, flashy, silly, overstuffed comic with some good moments and a whole lot of confusing action. It is somewhat more serious than the standard punch-fest, or at least aspires to be. I did not take it seriously for one second, but I did enjoy pieces of it, and was engaged enough to request the second volume from the library when I hit the end of the first one. And I have enjoyed dunking on it here. So it is not without its pleasures, even if those are highly particular and goofy. Caveat emptor.

Reposted from The Antick Musings of G.B.H. Hornswoggler, Gent.

Marvel’s First Family gets Fresh Look Back
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Marvel’s First Family gets Fresh Look Back

New York, NY— February 3, 2021 — The Fantastic Four celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. The iconic Stan Lee and Jack Kirby creation, credited with kicking off Marvel Comics’ historic Silver Age, have starred in some of the most memorable comic book adventures of all time, and now their illustrious saga will be presented in a radical new way in FANTASTIC FOUR: LIFE STORY.

Written by acclaimed writer Mark Russell (Second Coming, Wonder Twins) and drawn by Sean Izaakse (Fantastic Four, Avengers No Road Home) , FANTASTIC FOUR: LIFE STORY will be written in the same approach as Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley’s hit series, SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY. FANTASTIC FOUR: LIFE STORY will tell the entire history of the Fantastic Four from beginning to end, set against the key events of the decades through which their stories were published.

FANTASTIC FOUR: LIFE STORY #1 will take place in the “Swinging Sixties” when Reed, Ben, Sue, and Johnny took that fateful journey to space that changed the face of comic book storytelling forever. Against the backdrop of the Cold War and the Space Race, a terrible accident occurs that gives them great powers and a terrible secret, entangling them in Earth’s history forever as they transform into the world’s premiere super hero team.

“What I’ve always loved about the Fantastic Four is how it reduces the cosmic struggle of human survival to the scale of a family squabble while treating personal relationships as a matter of truly galactic importance,” Russell said. “Weaving their story and their world into our story and what’s happened in our world over the last sixty years was an important reminder to me of how smart it is to approach life like that.”

“Working on a story about Marvel’s First Family is not only an honor in itself, but what makes it even more so, is being part of the team that gets to tell such a moving and heartfelt story about these iconic characters, their struggles and triumphs in a new way that draws on what has come before,” Izaakse said. “If I do my job right, this story will be one that Fantastic Four fans will remember for a long, long time.”

Behold Godzilla in 4K Next Month
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Behold Godzilla in 4K Next Month

BURBANK, CA, February 2, 2021 – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced today that 2014’s Godzilla will be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Digital on March 23rd.  An epic action adventure directed by Gareth Edwards (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla marked the long-awaited big screen return of the King of the Monsters.

Directed by Edwards from a screenplay by Max Borenstein and a story by David Callaham, Godzilla is based on the character “Godzilla,” owned and created by TOHO CO., LTD. Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni produced the film with Mary Parent and Brian Rogers. Patricia Whitcher and Alex Garcia served as executive producers, alongside Yoshimitsu Banno and Kenji Okuhira.

Godzilla stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass), Oscar® nominee Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Inception), Elizabeth Olsen (Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame), Oscar® winner Juliette Binoche (The English Patient, Cosmopolis), and Oscar® nominee Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), alongside Oscar® nominee David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck., The Bourne Legacy”) and Bryan Cranston (Argo, TV’s “Breaking Bad”).

Ultra HD* showcases 4K resolution with High Dynamic Range (HDR) and a wider color spectrum, offering consumers brighter, deeper, more lifelike colors for a home entertainment viewing experience like never before.

Godzilla will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack for $24.99 ERP and includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features. Fans can also own Godzilla in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers beginning on March 23rd.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray disc of “Godzilla” will feature a Dolby Atmos® soundtrack remixed specifically for the home theater environment to place and move audio anywhere in the room, including overhead. To experience Dolby Atmos at home, a Dolby Atmos enabled AV receiver and additional speakers are required, or a Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar. Dolby Atmos soundtracks are also fully backward compatible with traditional audio configurations and legacy home entertainment equipment.

SYNOPSIS
In this gritty, realistic sci-fi action epic, Godzilla returns to its roots as one of the world’s most recognized monsters. Directed by Gareth Edwards and featuring an all-star international cast, this spectacular adventure pits Godzilla against malevolent creatures that, bolstered by humanity’s scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence.

Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray Elements
Godzilla Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously released special feature:

  • MONARCH: Declassified – Discover explosive new evidence not contained in the film that unravels the massive cover-up to keep Godzilla’s existence a secret.
    • Operation: Lucky Dragon
    • MONARCH: The M.U.T.O. File
    • The Godzilla Revelation
  • The Legendary Godzilla – Go behind the scenes with filmmakers and cast for an even deeper look at the larger than life monsters in the film.
    • Godzilla: Force of Nature
    • A Whole New Level Of Destruction
    • Into The Void: The H.A.L.O. Jump
    • Ancient Enemy: The M.U.T.O.s

DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION ELEMENTS

On March 23rd Godzilla  4K UHD will be available to own for streaming and download to watch anywhere in high definition and standard definition on favorite devices from select digital retailers including GooglePlay, Vudu, Xbox and others, and will be made available digitally on Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.

BASICS
PRODUCT                                                                                ERP
Ultra HD Blu-ray                                                                    $24.99

Standard Street Date: March 23rd 2021
EST Street Date: March 23rd 2021
Ultra HD Blu-ray Languages: English, Latin Spanish
Ultra HD Blu-ray Subtitles: English SDH, Latin Spanish, Parisian French
Running Time: 123 Minutes
Rating: Rated PG-13
DOLBY ATMOS   [CC]

Monster Hunt Tracking for Home on March 2
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Monster Hunter Tracking for Home on March 2

The film adaptation of the video game series, Monster Hunter, arrives on digital streaming February 16 and disc Mach 2 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

SYNOPSIS

Behind our world, there is another: a world of dangerous and powerful monsters that rule their domain with deadly ferocity. When an unexpected sandstorm transports Captain Artemis (Milla Jovovich) and her unit (T.I. Harris, Meagan Good, Diego Boneta) to a new world, the soldiers are shocked to discover that this hostile and unknown environment is home to enormous and terrifying monsters immune to their firepower. In their desperate battle for survival, the unit encounters the mysterious Hunter (Tony Jaa), whose unique skills allow him to stay one step ahead of the mighty creatures. As Artemis and Hunter slowly build trust, she discovers that he is part of a team led by the Admiral (Ron Perlman). Facing a danger so great it could threaten to destroy their world, the brave warriors combine their unique abilities to band together for the ultimate showdown.

BONUS MATERIALS

  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Monster Hunters: Cast and Characters
  • Monstrous Arsenal: Weaponry in the Film
  • For the Players: From Game to Screen

CAST AND CREW
Written for the Screen and Directed By: Paul W.S. Anderson
Producers: Jeremy Bolt, Paul W.S. Anderson, Dennis Berardi, Robert Kulzer, Martin Moszkowicz
Executive Producers: Edward Cheng, Howard Chen, Hiro Matsuoka
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Tony Jaa, Tip “T.I.” Harris, Meagan Good, Diego Boneta, Josh Helman, Jin Au-Yeung, and Ron Perlman

SPECS
Run Time: Approx. 103 minutes
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of creature action and violence throughout
4K Ultra HD: 2160p Ultra High Definition 2.39:1 | Audio English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible)
Blu-ray™: 1080p High Definition 2.39:1 | Audio English 5.1 DTS-HD MA
DVD: 2.39:1 Anamorphic Widescreen | Audio English 5.1 Dolby Digital