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Wizard World Chicago 2017 Photos, Part 1: Comics Cosplay!

Tick!

I’m so old, I remember when the Tick wasn’t an Amazon Prime superstar, and creator Ben Edlund was still writing and drawing his adventures.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time once more! This weekend my wife and I made another journey up to Wizard World Chicago in scenic Rosemont, IL, where we found much enjoyment and new purchases alongside peers and aficionados of comics and genre entertainment. Friday night left us near death by the end of our day, after a few miles’ worth of walking up and down the aisles and hallways, with breaks to go stand in lines of varying lengths and value. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

…and what we nearly always do is lead off a new convention miniseries with the mandatory cosplay galleries. We captured whoever we could while wandering the show floor Friday and Saturday in between the long lines and longer waits. (For a few reasons we skipped Sunday this year.) I have no idea how many chapters this particular experience will run, but the first three will represent a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the costumes that were in the house. Because I always feel the need to divide cosplayers into arbitrary categories, our first set spotlights the stars of screen and page from the world of Marvel, DC Comics, and other publishers out there, as well as from their movie and TV adaptations. Gentle reminder: there are more than two comics publishers out there. Enjoy!

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Thoughts on Netflix’s Marvel’s “The Defenders”

Defenders!

That magical moment when Our Heroes meet but aren’t sure they can take orders from the Stupendous Scarfman.

Let the record show The Defenders is an exceedingly rare event, by which I mean it’s a Netflix series I finished watching within a week of release. Normally it takes me six to eight weeks to catch up with the cool kids. Don’t ask which of my work days suffered most from accomplishing that.

It helps that season 1 is only eight episodes, much more tightly edited, averaging 45-50 minutes each — a more concise spectacle than the padding and plodding that frequently dragged the other series to the 60- to 65-minute mark for indulgent purposes. I hadn’t planned to bulldoze my way through like this, but we have a convention this weekend where we know fans will be chatting about this brand new show to pass the time in the long lines. I’d rather not have to keep cutting them off with yelps of “AHHH! SPOILERS!” while stuffing my head into my carryall so I can’t hear them.

Additional motivation struck me when episode 3 — the one where all four main characters have their first rendezvous — turned out to be such an addictive, headlong rush of comic-book excitement in the mighty Marvel manner, despite the mandatory but middling Hallway Fight. Differently impressive was part 4, directed by ace TV veteran Phil Abraham (The Sopranos, Mad Men), basically a bottle episode in which Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist finally share moments, snipe, posture, threaten to walk, connect, and subtly weave all the threads and tones from their respective, disparate corners of the Marvel Netflix Universe into a coherent tapestry over a sumptuous if mostly ignored Chinese dinner. The characters’ flaws were laid bare with self-aware candor, the overlaps between their shows were extricated, dumplings were shared, and both humor and personal drama each found their entry points.

Results after those episodes were, uh, a bit more varied. The short version: generally a wild ride, but not without its sudden bumps and occasional missing pieces of track.

Fair warning: major spoilers lie beyond not only for The Defenders but for the preceding shows as well. If you haven’t watched those other five seasons first, parts of this show will be incomprehensible. That’s a disappointment to anyone who prefers self-contained stories to these interlocking continuities that marketing departments love to pieces nowadays, but that’s how the super-hero game is played on screens nowadays, for better or worse.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During AND After the “Spider-Man: Homecoming” End Credits

Spider-Man Homecoming!

Window painting at our local theater. Yes, it has been a while.

If Marvel had simply decided twenty years sooner that Spider-Man films should be made once every three years, and that a different young British actor should play him every time, perhaps fans wouldn’t have fussed about Spider-Man: Homecoming coming so soon after Amazing Spider-Man 2. We’d be used to the rotating lead spot by now. Granted, this would’ve caused seismic shifts in our entertainment timeline — imagine if Spidey had been played years ago by a younger Daniel Radcliffe and left a weird hole in the Harry Potter franchise. Ah, what might have been.

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FandomFest 2017 Photos, Part 2 of 2: Cosplay!

Spectre!

The Spectre, DC Comics’ renowned spirit of vengeance, bids you welcome to the land of the vengeful!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on Saturday my wife Anne and I attended FandomFest in Louisville, KY, the twelfth iteration of this entertainment/”comic” convention that’s quite low on comics, heavy on controversy, improper in its online customer service, saddled with a years-old negative image not really helped by the depressing role call of thirty-one canceled guests, and graded a solid F by the Better Business Bureau. But beyond the mountains of baggage, their volunteers were pretty friendly to us in person despite their upper management, and the fifteen actors in the house seemed like decent folks.

But enough about that. Are you as tired of reading about FandomFest’s issues as I am of typing about them? If not, I totally understand and I hope one day true customer satisfaction will be yours without requiring a nasty blood vendetta against the Lochners. Until then: we got costumes! Lots of costumes! Fans do love the cosplayers and their cosplay. Backroom shenanigans or not, dozens of cosplayers sported their finest duds this weekend and did what they could for the sake of convention quality-of-life and their favorite characters. Enjoy!

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Yes, There Were LOTS of Scenes After the “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” End Credits

I Am Groot!

I am Groot, I am Groot. I am Groot; I am Groot I am Groot I am Groot I am Groot…I am Groot. I am Groot!

If it’s Marvel, that means it’s time for summer blockbuster extravaganza movie-going season again! And what more appropriate way to kick off than a sequel. Thankfully Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is not one of those Marvel sequels that makes fans regret their obsession with seeing every Marvel movie ever. Better still, the series proves there’s no such thing as a useless character. If an angry space raccoon, an Ent with no vocabulary, and three remnants from Marvel’s 1970s sci-fi era can strike a chord in today’s world, any character can if a talented filmmaker is allowed to try hard enough.

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My Free Comic Book Day 2017 Results, Best to Least Best

Spectacular Spider-Man!

Spidey and the Vulture, both older than they’ll appear in the next film. Art by Paolo Siqueira, Frank D’Armata, and one of the four credited inkers.

On May 6th my wife and I had the pleasure of once again observing Free Comic Book Day, the least fake holiday of them all. Readers of multiple demographics, thankfully including lots of youngsters, flocked to our local stores and had the opportunity to enjoy samplers from all the major comic companies and dozens of indie publishers. This year’s assortment saw a metric ton of all-ages comics far outnumbering the adults-only options, served up by a plethora of publishers great and small, hopefully many of whom will still be around a year from now.

I never grab copies of everything, and this year I restrained myself a bit more than usual. Sometimes reviewing comics can be fun, but I wasn’t in the mood to read that many kids’ comics in a row. Also left behind were a few books based on cartoons and movies, reminders that some publishers see comics more as a second-tier merchandising stream than as a literary medium unto itself.

The fifteen comics in my FCBD 2017 reading pile came out as follows, ranked from Totally Not For Me to I Would Pay Monies For More, complicated by the fact that several of these contain two or more stories. I considered concocting some sort of system involving grade-weighting and averages that would even up the scores, but ultimately I’ve decided to base everything on subjective non-math and internal whims instead. As most listicles are.

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