The MCC Mighty Mask Try-On Haul!

Marvel Heads Mask!

Me sporting a brand new Marvel Super-Heroes mask in a pandemic-era downtown parking garage as gray and uncaring as the year 2020 itself.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: it’s been over five months since I posted photos of my initial masking possibilities for navigating our broken pandemic world. At the time, masks weren’t yet mandated by state or city ordinances. They were simply among the best ideas for reducing your chances of catching The Virus, besides simply quarantining at home and bricking over all your doors and windows from the inside like a reverse “Cask of Amontillado”.

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My 2020 Reading Stacks #7

Monster Graphic Novels!

Monsters! Everyone loves monsters, right?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

At the beginning of each year I spend weeks writing year-in-review entries that cover the gamut of my entertainment intake, including capsule reviews for all the books and graphic novels I’ve read. I refrain from devoting entries to full-length book reviews because 999 times out of 1000 I’m finishing a given work decades after the rest of the world is already done and moved on from it.

As time permits and the finished books pile up, I’ll be charting my full list of books, graphic novels, and trade collections I’ve read throughout the year in a staggered, exclusive manner here, for all that’s worth to the outside world. Due to the way I structure my media-consumption time blocks, the list will always feature more graphic novels than works of prose and pure text. Novels and non-pictographic nonfiction will pop up here and there, albeit in a minority capacity for a few different reasons. Triple bonus points to any longtime MCC readers who can tell which items I bought at which comic/entertainment conventions we’ve attended over the past few years.

And now…it’s readin’ time. Again.

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My 2020 Reading Stacks #6

Siler Raina Bob!

Siler. Telgemeier, Defendi. Keepin’ it random. Keepin’ it real.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

At the beginning of each year I spend weeks writing year-in-review entries that cover the gamut of my entertainment intake, including capsule reviews for all the books and graphic novels I’ve read. I refrain from devoting entries to full-length book reviews because 999 times out of 1000 I’m finishing a given work decades after the rest of the world is already done and moved on from it.

As time permits and the finished books pile up, I’ll be charting my full list of books, graphic novels, and trade collections I’ve read throughout the year in a staggered, exclusive manner here, for all that’s worth to the outside world. Due to the way I structure my media-consumption time blocks, the list will always feature more graphic novels than works of prose and pure text. Novels and non-pictographic nonfiction will pop up here and there, albeit in a minority capacity for a few different reasons. Triple bonus points to any longtime MCC readers who can tell which items I bought at which comic/entertainment conventions we’ve attended over the past few years.

And now…it’s readin’ time. Again.

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My 2019 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Top Ten

The Farewell!

Okay, who wants to tell Grandma that Awkwafina won a Golden Globe and she didn’t?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: In 2019 I made 28 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. In Part 1 we ranked the majority from pretty-keen to The Worst. And now, the countdown concludes with the ten most relatively awesome:

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Our 2019 Road Trip, Part 14: Hollywood, Georgia

Black Panther mask!

ATLANTA FOREVER!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Every year since 1999 my wife Anne and I have taken a trip to a different part of the United States and visited attractions, wonders, and events we didn’t have back home in Indianapolis. From 1999 to 2003 we did so as best friends; from 2004 to the present, as husband and wife. My son tagged along from 2003 until 2013 when he ventured off to college. We’ve taken two trips by airplane, but are much happier when we’re the ones behind the wheel — charting our own course, making unplanned stops anytime we want, availing ourselves of slightly better meal options, and keeping or ruining our own schedule as dictated by circumstances or whims. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’d been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we aimed for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness. Before we went to D*C, there was the road trip to get there, and the good times to be had before the great times at the big show.

As previously posted in haste from our hotel room several weeks ago, my favorite part of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum was the wholly unexpected exhibit titled “Georgia on My Screen: Jimmy Carter and the Rise of the Film Industry”. In 1972, Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter was instrumental in creating the State Motion Picture & Television Advisory Commission, which would eventually become the Georgia Film Commission of today. Through that increasingly generous division, laws and codes have been established to make Georgia ready, willing, and friendly to grant numerous tax breaks and other perks to Hollywood films and TV shows made there on a number of not-too-oppressive conditions. (That giant-sized peach logo you sometimes see embedded in end credits? They get an extra 10% “uplift” for using that.)

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Dragon Con 2019 Photos #7: Deadpool Presents the Deadpool Cosplay Parade Starring Deadpool

Ladys Deadpool + Grimespool!

Ladiess Deadpool and Sheriffpool!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’ve been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we’re aiming for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…

…such as that Saturday morning parade through downtown Atlanta. Longtime MCC readers are used to Deadpool variants showing up in every convention cosplay lineup. I promise we don’t show up at every convention center asking, “Pardon us, but can you direct us to all the Deadpools? There’re Deadpool cosplayers here, right? It would be so nice if there was Deadpool cosplay!” All we know is wherever we go, there he is.

Same cautions apply as last time: we’re pros, not fans; corrections are very welcome if we misname anyone; we do take requests, but can’t guarantee we photographed every parade participant; enjoy!

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Dragon Con 2019 Photos #4: Still More Cosplay on Parade

Maleficent and two fairies!

Maleficent with her foes Flora and Merryweather.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’ve been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we’re aiming for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…

..such as that Saturday morning parade through downtown Atlanta. In this installment we focus on characters of the Grand Disney Empire, including Marvel and Star Wars because why not.

Same cautions apply as last time: we’re pros, not fans; corrections are very welcome if we misname anyone; we do take requests, but can’t guarantee we photographed every parade participant; enjoy!

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Indiana State Fair 2019 Photos, Part 3 of 6: The Marvel/DC CAN-ematic Universe

CAN Black Panther!

Black CANther welcomes you to WaCANda, homeland of King TIN’Challa. (Look, I didn’t start it, okay?)

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context…

One of the many creative events each year is the Canstruction contest, which isn’t necessarily exclusive to local 4-H youngsters. Canstruction is a charitable organization that holds nationwide events in which engineers and other clever planners compete against each other in building the best sculpture made entirely from canned goods, preferably in recognizable shapes and not ordinary stacks with boring titles like “Can Do!” After the judging and the public displaying are over, all those meticulously planned figures are torn down and the components are donated to local hunger relief charities, who in turn forward them to needy families totally unaware their next few meals used to be Art.

In keeping with this year’s “Heroes in the Heartland” theme and its inclusion of beloved mainstream superheroes, contestants were asked to make superheroes out of cans. The results were amusing for all but the most cantankerous.

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Indiana State Fair 2019 Photos, Part 2 of 6: The Heroes Theme

FAIR me!

FAIR. Just like a superhero should be!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context…

Each year they used to celebrate a specific food theme. For 2019 they took a different direction and declared the fair’s overall theme “Heroes in the Heartland”. In the Midwest “hero” can mean many things, though first responders come immediately to mind for many. Being that this is a Midwest state fair, the definition had to have enough latitude to include farmers. As explained further on the official site:

“This year we will pay serious tribute to the heroism of everyday Hoosiers whose exceptional commitment and caring enrich our lives without the benefit of capes, costumes or superpowers. They are our nurturers, protectors, guardians, and guides –- our support and our strength. They grow our food. They feed our minds. They keep us safe and free.

“Here’s to our Hoosier farmers, first responders, teachers, law officers, firefighters, and Armed Forces members past and present — our Heroes in the Heartland!”

Many participants approached the theme with a different idea in mind: superheroes!

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“Dark Phoenix”: X-huming and X-amining the End of the Ex-Series

Dark Phoenix!

The all-new Firestar from a grim-and-gritty Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.

Remember the glory days when the prospect of a new X-Men film excited anyone who’d previously thrilled to their greatest spectacles, and not just the unconditional superfans?

Dark Phoenix isn’t the worst superhero film I’ve seen this year, but after the waste of resources that was X-Men: Apocalypse, I was fine with waiting until its fourth weekend to see it using free passes, sitting in a theater with half a dozen other viewers who likewise couldn’t be bothered to rush out to the not-quite-grand finale to Fox’s X-Men era (unless we keep holding our breath waiting for New Mutants). Their 19-year run had its highlights, but writer/director/producer Simon Kinberg’s Hail Mary of a retread isn’t one of them.

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“Avengers: Endgame”: The All-Spoiler Entry

Rocket War Machine!

Bow before the combined might of ROCKET MACHINE!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: Avengers: Endgame is here! You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, an audience roughly one-third the size of Thanos’ human casualties has seen it. I was fine with cranking out the obligatory “I liked it, it was much better than Cats” entry, but as with a few past blockbusters, I’m in the mood to type more paragraphs about its pros, its cons, and the questions it begs that could go either way depending on how sensible or stupid the answers are.

Random thoughts in very little particular order ahead. COURTESY SPOILER WARNING FOR THE WHOLE THREE-HOUR SHEBANG.

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“Avengers: Endgame”: It. Is. FINISHED.

Rocket Raccoon!

Thanos made this cute, fuzzy antihero cry. Now he must PAY.

One of the most exhilarating parts of seeing highly anticipated event films ASAP is the firm pivot point you pass between “before” and “after”. Once you’ve seen it, spoilers can no longer damage your viewer experience. Months and years of news sites hazarding half-baked guesses to the film’s content see all their handiwork either rendered obsolete and worthless or proven right but ultimately irrelevant once the thing becomes a reality rather than a theoretical construct in quantum-superpositional flux. Once the film “is”, the number of possibilities of how it “might be” dwindles ever downward toward one (1).

That’s not to say everyone has seen it yet, though Entertainment Weekly and other ill-mannered organizations live or die on the operating principle that every popular thing is instantly consumed now-now-NOW by the smartest, coolest readerships who are the only humans in the universe that matter. For folks who know how to use the word “courtesy” in a sentence, it means being careful with blaring spoilers in the faces of everyone who might glance in our direction. (When it comes to movies, at least. As someone who live-tweets the occasional CW super-hero show, I’ll own up to some hypocrisy here.)

It’s in that spirit of keeping up the spoiler-free environment for what’s left of this weekend that our obligatory Avengers: Endgame write-up was composed to the best of my ability. Fair warning: if you were so hardcore about no-spoiler purity that you’ve even avoided all the trailers and TV spots, I’m not sure I can help you at quite that level of dedication.

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Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 Photos #7: How to Draw Star Wars the Marvel Way

TIE Fighter covers!

TIE Fighter #1 hit comic shops this past Wednesday. Above are variant covers by Tommy Lee Edwards for the next three issues.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

April 11-15, 2019, was the ninth American edition of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Celebration, recurring major convention celebrating their works, creations, actors, fans, and merchandise, not always in that order. After jaunts around the U.S. coast and overseas, this year’s was in Chicago, gracing the Midwest with its products for the first time since 2005. My wife Anne and I attended Thursday through Saturday and fled Sunday morning…

Thursday had very nearly zero panels scheduled. The panels scheduled Friday and Saturday largely broke down into the following groups:

  1. Panels that might’ve been cool if the annoying lottery system hadn’t made them attendance-prohibitive
  2. Panels for fans by fans about fan stuff
  3. Panels about novels we haven’t read
  4. Writing advice
  5. The official Marvel Comics panel

Larger panels filled up quickly. Numerous panels, especially those devoted to Star Wars novelists, were often capped because too many people were interested. But as a comics fan, one who’s spending a fair amount per month to keep up with much of Marvel’s Star Wars output (not all of it), I felt compelled to make a greater effort to get a foot in the door. Getting in line 45 minutes before showtime did the trick.

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C2E2 2019 Photos, Part 3: Marvel and DC Cosplay

Thor family!

Friday in Asgard: Thor, Odin (with Huginn and Muninn!), Malekith and Hela.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! My wife Anne and I just got home from the tenth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″), another three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking. Each year C2E2 keeps inching ever closer to its goal of becoming the Midwest’s answer to the legendary San Diego Comic Con and other famous conventions in larger, more popular states. We missed the first year, but have attended every year since 2011 as a team…

…and do our best to take cosplay photos as a team. we’re fans of costumes and try to keep an eye out for heroes, villains, antiheroes, supporting casts, and various oddities that look impressive and/or we haven’t seen at other cons. First up: a great big batch of characters from assorted iterations of the worlds of Marvel and DC Comics, from their movies and shows as well as their comics. Caveats for first-time visitors to Midlife Crisis Crossover:

1. My wife and I are not professional photographers, nor do we believe ourselves worthy of press passes. These were taken as best as possible with the intent to share with fellow fans out of a sincere appreciation for the works inspired by the heroes, hobbies, artistic expressions, and/or intellectual properties that brought us geeks together under one vaulted roof for the weekend. We did what we could with the tools and circumstances at hand. We don’t use selfie sticks, tripods, or cameras that cost more than a month’s worth of groceries.

2. It’s impossible for any human or organization to capture every costume on hand. What’s presented in this series will be a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the sum total costume experience. Other corners of the internet will represent those other fractions that we missed, which is the cool part of having so many people doing this sort of thing.

3. We didn’t attend Sunday. As previously explained at excessive length, we also nearly never do costume contests anymore. Sincere apologies to anyone we missed as a result.

4. Corrections and comments are always welcome, especially when we get to Part 5, which will include at least two characters we young geezers didn’t recognize. I do like learning new names and universes even if you’re more immersed in them than I am.

5. Enjoy!

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Yes, There Are Scenes During AND After the “Captain Marvel” End Credits

Captain Marvel!

My son had to remind me Brie Larson used to be on Community. I thought he was confusing her with Alison Brie, but no, he remembered Brie Larson was Abed’s girlfriend Rachel, and I’m like WHOOOOOOA.

Years from now we’ll all look back on the historical debacle that was the Not-Great Captain Marvel Flame War of 2019 and we’ll laugh about it if only to keep from breaking down in tears at how deeply the fandom-at-large had reached yet another embarrassing nadir. Until then, here’s a shout-out to those millions of kids out there finding delight and inspiration in the sight of a wondrous super-woman punching her way through an evil spaceship armada at hyperspeed, like a young Princess Diana plowing through German soldiers.

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Comics Update 2018, Part 2 of 5: My Year in Marvel

Spider-Ham & Lockjaw!

Don’t mind me, just pandering to fellow Spider-Verse fans out there.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. Over the course of the next four entries…I’ll be sharing what I’m currently buying every Wednesday at my local comic shop — series and miniseries alike, budget permitting, broken down by publisher as of the very end of February 2019, including lists of 2018 works that are either done or dead to me.

In tallying the figures, I was a little surprised to discover I’d tried more projects from merry Marvel than from any other company. That doesn’t mean I loved them all unconditionally, merely that so far they’ve held my attention even though I loathe crossovers and avoid team books, which tend to be their bestsellers and constitute some 80% of their lineup nowadays. With the size advantage and with Captain Marvel hitting theaters this Friday, why not let them go first.

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My 2018 in Books and Graphic Novels, Part 3 of 3

Best Books of 2018!

I didn’t rank all 62 books in order, but here’s my Top 6 of the year.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Time again for the annual entry in which I remind myself how much I like reading things besides monthly comics, magazines, and self-promotion from internet users who have me muted. Despite the lack of MCC entries about my reading matter, I’m always working on at least two books at a time in my ever-diminishing reading time. I refrain from full-on book reviews because nine times out of ten I’m finishing a given work decades after the rest of the world is already done and moved on from it. I don’t always care about site traffic, but when I do, it usually means leaving some extended thoughts and opinions unwritten due to non-timeliness.

Presented over this entry and the next two is my full list of books, graphic novels, and trade collections that I finished reading in 2018, partly but not entirely in order of completion. As I whittle down the never-ending stack I’ve been stockpiling for literal decades, my long-term hope before I turn 80 is to get to the point where my reading list is more than, say, 30% new releases every year. That’s a lofty goal, but I can dream.

As with last year’s experiment, every book gets a full capsule summary apiece, because 29 years of reading Entertainment Weekly have gotten me addicted to the capsule format. The list is divided into a three-part miniseries to post on back-to-back evenings in order to ease up on the word count for busier readers. Triple bonus points to any longtime MCC readers who can tell which items I bought at which comic/entertainment conventions we attended over the past few years.

Part One is linked above. Part Two contained a bunch more. And now: the other part. Onward! One last time! For the trilogy!

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My 2018 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Year’s Least Worst

mary poppins returns!

Off we go!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: In 2018 I made 24 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. In Part 1 we ranked the bottom twelve. And now, the countdown concludes with the twelve most relatively awesome:

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Yes, There’s a Scene after the “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” End Credits

Spider-Verse!

Introducing: Spider Squad Six!

Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse one of The Year’s Best Films!

So…there’s that. But I can’t simply post a screen shot of Ralphie’s teacher from A Christmas Story writing “A++++++++++” on her chalkboard and be done with it, because we know that’s not how I roll.

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Stan Lee 1922-2018

Stan Lee!

Stan “The Man” Lee and a brief moment with one fan among the millions he entertained, inspired, and/or taught life lessons to through super-heroes and the power of comic books.

I knew something had gone wrong with the day when two coworkers approached and interrupted met at lunch. They usually know better, but they felt it was their duty to break the news to me that the legendary Stan Lee himself had at long last passed away at age 95. In many ways I’m glad they were the messengers, as opposed to finding out by stumbling into random, cryptic retweets from strangers.

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