The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: July 4 – 10, 2018


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

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The best comic I read last week was Batman #50.

 

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Mikel Janin and Various

In a week where Ta-Nehisi Coates’ and Leinil Francis Yu’s Captain America debut hit the stands, something very special was going to have to beat it as the best pick of the week. Batman #50 did just that.

I was not entirely surprised.

Tom King’s run on Batman, as I have mentioned time-and-again, has been utterly unexpected, exhilarating, emotional and breath-taking. This 50th issue was no exception. The final issue and culminating chapter of the story of the wedding of Batman and Catwoman, Batman #50 goes places that most comic books do not have the courage to go. Beyond the fact that it is a beautiful book – ace artist Mikel Janin is joined by some of the greatest artists of this (and past) generations who supply a series of full-page spreads – and is perfect on almost every technical level with twists and turns that amaze and delight, Batman #50 does something readers have come to expect from King, it wallops them emotionally.

In a series of scenes leading up to the nuptials, readers are presented with distillations of two of the most critical relationships in Bruce Wayne’s life: with Selina Kyle and with Alfred Pennyworth. It is pointless to rank which is the more affecting. Both are poignant. Both are heartwarming. One is affirming, the other shocking.

The total effect of Batman #50  and this arc overall is to redefine the character and set him up for the next series of issues and this is brilliantly accomplished.

I have read that many anticipate a darker, more sinister Batman to be the result of the events of this story. I, for one, do not believe that King would go anywhere so obvious.

He has not done so on this run at all.

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Filed under Batman, Comic Book Review, Comic Books, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Weekly Comic Book Review

Link’n’Blogs – 7.6.18: Perception/Reality


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as fun or thought provoking as I have.

One of my good friends posts thought provoking material so frequently, I could likely call this blog “Posts from Bill.”

This week, he shared a piece from The New Yorker that seems critically important to all of us who work for and with others in an immediate way. It is a good reality check for all of us. Click the picture below.

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The Fourth Is Upon Us, 2018


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Happy Independence Day, America!

Cap 4th

Posted from the And There Came A Day Archives

The older I get, the more patriotic I become. I have noted that progression in myself for years. I think it’s a good thing. While there is a lot to be critical of, there is also a lot to love about living in the United States of America and being an American citizen, but politics are not the subject of this blog. Impressions of the Fourth of July are!

One: COOKIES!

Two: Patriotic Trek

Did you know there are all kinds of patriotic episodes of Star Trek? You should know (and watch them!). Declare Your Independence with These Classic Star Trek Episodes (from trekmovie.com.)

Three: Star Trek Screws up Patriotism

There are a number of egregious references to the United States of America (not involving time travel) in the original Star Trek television series but here are two that really, really stand out: In the episode “The Omega Glory,” Kirk and the crew encounter two warring factions on a planet called “the Yangs” and “the Khoms.” Allegory alert anyone? How subtle is the clip (called by some “Kirk’s Greatest Speech Ever”) you can see HERE?

Worse, though, is the episode entitled “The Savage Curtain” during which Kirk and company encounter a being that believes he IS Abraham Lincoln! Ouch.

star-trek-lincoln

Four: Neil Diamond Gets Patriotism Right

I could listen to Neil Diamond music all day long. In fact, sometimes, I do. Somehow, some way, a number of Neil Diamond songs have become anthems for patriotism. A less obvious example is “Sweet Caroline” which Diamond admitted he was inspired to write by a young Caroline Kennedy. In recent years it has developed into a 7th inning stretch favorite for the Boston Red Sox. At no time was this more poignant than after the Boston Marathon bombing when not only the Red Sox played it (Neil was there to sing it), but stadiums around the country followed suit. You can see Neil belt it out HERE.

More obvious is Neil’s Coming to America. The break out hit from Diamond’s more-watchable-than-you-remember The Jazz Singer, Diamond’s song is a passionate anthem for the immigrant history of this country. This song has a special place in my heart as I once sang it on the radio to try to win a contest for free Neil Diamond concert tickets but, as the radio hosts were about to award me the tickets, they accidentally dropped my call. I am still bitter.  You can hear Neil HERE.

Five: The movie Independence Day

You remember the speech. Watch it HERE again. Then stand up and salute! Better than the sequel from what I hear…

Six: President Obama Almost Cancels Independence Day 

The Cinnamon Girl has, in recent years, made am AMAZING Fourth of July cake.

Here it is:

Three years ago, wondering if the cake had lost its appeal at the traditional family gathering, she suggested she was going to bring a different dessert. I let The Mater know, as she was hosting the family as she had for years, so that she could plan accordingly. About an hour later, the phone rang and Dad was on the saying: “President Obama called. He’s canceled the Fourth of July unless you bring the cake. Bring the cake.” She brought the cake.

4th Cake

Happy Fourth of July, all!

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Filed under 4th of July, Family, Holidays, Neil Diamond, Star Trek

The Best Sequential Art I Read Last Week: June 27 – July 3, 2018


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I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.

Then I read them.

Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.

Comics I Read Last Week:

 

The best comic I read last week was Man of Steel #5.

Capture

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Adam Hughes

Adam Hughes in one tremendous artist. Among those artists who have trusted themselves enough to allow their styles to adapt over time and to specific content and characters, Hughes is the exemplar. His work in 2018 looks hardly similar to when he burst into the industry decades ago. He was always good but there is depth and gravitas in his approach that is impressive and most fitting Superman. GREAT to see his work  between the covers of a monthly.

Brian Michael Bendis has brought his unique, decompressed style to DC Comics and to Superman and I, for one, am loving it. He has created a story in Man of Steel that has high stakes, stakes that have been played out to almost genocidal effect already in the story. He is setting up a fascinating Metropolis, an intriguing family dynamic and an exciting Superman. There is more to be said about the character and Bendis is finding new areas to mine.

I am thankful for that and as impressed about Superman as I have been for a long time. Given that he has been handled by a series of talented creators recently, this is saying something.

Superman and Batman are recharged by their creators. Give them both a try. It is a great time to read the flagship characters!

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor? – A Movie Review


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wont you be

After the showing I viewed of Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, I departed the theater (after a surprise, final scene embedded in the closing credits – watch for it!) and headed into the bathroom as is my habit. I recognized the other bathroom goers as patrons of the same movie I had just seen. This assembly of men, colliding in the restroom, was the most polite, most kind, most considerate group I have ever encounter in this context.

I wonder if our collective dispositions had anything to do with the movie we had just watched. No, I do not. It had everything to do with the film we had just watched.

Lovingly directed by Morgan Neville and featuring conversations with Fred Rogers’ friends and family, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? weaves the compelling history of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood over the course of a far too short 94 minutes. It is clear that Rogers’ colleagues, children, sister and wife loved the man and it is equally apparent that the man we saw in his program is very much the man Rogers was: gentle, kind, compassionate and loving.

One of the most poignant suggestions of the movie is that these very qualities are not only lacking in our world today, they have somehow become square or stale, unrealistic or weak. Watching Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is an exercise in recalling that kindness and compassionate are mindsets that can make a world of difference.

That is a message to share.

Much of the narrative work of the film is accomplished with archival footage of Fred Rogers himself, telling a series of interviewers why he does what he does. Additionally, the audience is treated to plenty of scenes from the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood shows, scenes which triggered many warm memories of afternoons at my childhood home watching PBS. It is almost impossible, I would think, for anyone to see this movie and not find her or himself moved by the earnest Rogers as he thoughtfully struggles with how best to connect with children. Likewise, some of the moments Neville chose to share in the documentary cannot help but tug at the heartstrings: Rogers talking about divorce? Check. Rogers explaining assassinations in the wake of Bobby Kennedy’s death? Check. Rogers post 9-11, coming back to television after his retirement to discuss the tragedy with children? Check. Rogers meeting and talking with Koko the gorilla? Check and pass the Kleenex.

An audience will have to work hard to find a more affirming, uplifting and challenging time at the theater this summer. It will likewise have to work hard to find as much joy. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? tells us that life is good, that we are good, and that Mister Rogers’ message of kindness and love is more timely than ever.

I could not agree more and I cannot wait to see the movie again.

WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? receives FIVE CARDIGAN SWEATERS out of a possible FIVE

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Link’n’Blogs – 6.29.18: Sir Paul


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I loved Lincoln Logs when I was a kid. Though I never entertained the idea that I would be a designer, engineer or architect, something about putting together these wooden and plastic pieces was simply simple fun. Connecting to ideas through the blogosphere seems similar to this pursuit, hence the title of this weekly post. Each Friday, I intend to post something interesting I’ve read out there on the internets. Hopefully others will find these posts as fun or thought provoking as I have.

Absolutely the best thing I saw last week (and am likely to see ANY week) is the below video. I challenge you to play it and not smile.

Pure joy. Pure Paul.

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Jurassic World | Fallen Kingdom – A Movie Review


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jurassic world official

It was amazing. It was revolutionary. It was genuinely thrilling. It was thought provoking. It was nuanced.

It was released 25 years ago.

My affection for and anticipation of movies with “Jurassic” in their titles owes everything to Stephen Spielberg’s original Jurassic Park. It is still a masterful work of art and hues most closely to the message and moral compass Michael Crichton, the author of the original novel, had in mind. Of the resultant sequels, Spielberg can only be held responsible for The Lost World: Jurassic Park. And I liked that one. No, while he has produced the other movies, they are not really his fault.

The fact that they are still being made (and the third in the Jurassic World trilogy will likely be coming soon to a theater near you judging on box office) is the fault of people like me. If I am honest with myself (and I do try to be), I will see the next movie, too. I will resist. I will say I am not going to see it. I will encounter the trailer. I will hear the latest re-arrangement of the classic John Williams theme. I will buy a ticket.

A friend of mine saw the trailer for this latest Jurassic and said “that looks like a movie I really would have liked as a ten-year-old.” As it turns out, that is an almost perfect review.

Jurassic World | Fallen Kingdom plays like some pre-pubescent’s fever dream mash-up of GI Joes and dinosaur toys if the dinosaur toys can be broken apart and spliced together in increasingly ridiculous combinations. It is a collection of homages to earlier films in the series (none of which actually pay off), an adventure movie where very little adventurous happens (unless you count increasing gory human deaths) and a “what if” scenario taken to absurd conclusions  (no, sorry, the conclusion will be forthcoming in Jurassic World | Final Cash Grab). I rushed to see the movie this weekend because I truly despise spoilers and I had read that there was a spoiler at the end of the film. There was one. It was not worth the price of admission. I had heard the movie sets up a wild and crazy sequel… to that I say “damn you all to hell” or something like that.

The movie does manage to do something we have not seen on screen lately: it manages to make lovable lead Chris Pratt boring. His Owen Grady had a shine of charisma in the first installment (or, perhaps, I was just picturing Star Lord running from raptors, another concept they will probably try to wrestle into the next movie) which is absolutely lacking in this one. And Bryce Dallas Howard, as Claire Dearing, undergoes a radical change of character between the films which is unexplained and unsupported. But at least the movie makes a point of the fact that she is wearing sensible, running around footwear this time out. Thanks for that. The rest of the characters, including a bland stereotype of a villain and a retroactively added character with links to the first movie, make little to no impression. Even the token child-in-danger (upon whom major plot points rest) is unengaging.

The filmmakers know we have seen this all before, so they try to up the ante. At almost every point, they fail. The dinos do not take ones’ breath away, the characters barely rise above cardboard cut-outs, the action is repetitive to the point of tedium, the stars are stripped of charm. Yes, there will be a third film and, God help me, I will go see it.

But all hope of succeeding the original is gone. Like the cloned and spliced dinosaur breeds in this movie, the franchise yields less bang for more bucks.

That is a shame because there used to be thrills here.

JURASSIC WORLD | FALLEN KINGDOM receives TWO AND A HALF MASSIVE PLOT HOLES out of a possible FIVE.

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