Advertisements

My Free Comic Book Day 2018 Results: The Best and the Least Best

Maxwell's Demons!

A boy and his toys go to war. From Maxwell’s Demons #1, art by Vittori Astone.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on May 5th I once again had the pleasure of once again observing Free Comic Book Day, the least fake holiday of them all, that annual celebration when comic shops nationwide offer no-strings-attached goodies as a form of community outreach in honor of that time-honored medium where words and pictures dance in unison on the printed page, whether in the form of super-heroes, monsters, cartoon all-stars, licensed merchandise, or entertaining ordinary folk. Each year, America’s remaining comic book shops (and a handful in the UK that can afford the extra shipping charges) lure fans and curious onlookers inside their brick-and-mortar hideaways with a great big batch of free new comics from all the major publishers and a bevy of smaller competitors deserving shelf space and consideration.

This year my Free Comic Book Day involvement took on a different form. My local shop offered a special deal that sounds crazy on the face of it: for a fair sum of money, we could pre-purchase a bundle of all 52 Free Comic Book Day comics that their stores planned to order. Normally these would all be free, but you’d look like a schmuck for casually walking in, picking up all 52, and walking right back out. Instead they set aside copies of all those comics, bagged ’em up, and let buyers pick them up late Saturday afternoon, once all the furor and hubbub had subsided. I went for it. I liked the idea of playing the role of patron, donating extra cash to help facilitate Free Comic Book Day for other folks in town, in a way that would help my shop offset the costs.

I spent the rest of Saturday night and nearly all of Sunday reading all 52 and then posting my impressions on Twitter after each comic, along with photo excerpts from every single comic. I took photos rather than scans because (a) our scanner sometimes ruins the hard work of comics colorists, (b) I wanted to capture the feel of comics on actual physical paper, (c) I wanted to test my new phone, and (d) snapping pics was faster than scanning. This reading/photography project took until 11:30 p.m Sunday night to complete, and would’ve taken until sometime Tuesday if I hadn’t cut corners somewhere. I had to put this entry off for a few days because I needed a break after spending so, so much time with them all.

This entry, then, is a condensed version of that epic-length tweetstorm: my ranking of the twenty best books of the bunch, followed by my six least favorites of the entire stack. I never trust a comics reviewer or website that shares nothing but relentlessly glowing opinions — nor, conversely do I trust a critic who hates all comics and can’t be pleased — so this is my way of not becoming that which I disparage.

Up first: that happy Top 20. On with the countdown!

Continue reading

Advertisements

Yes, There’s a Scene After the “Avengers: Infinity War” End Credits

Thanos!

If you can see only one Josh Brolin film this year, skip Sicario 2: Soldado.

The short version of this entry: for anyone who’s sat through all three Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America films; the first two Avengers films; both Guardians of the Galaxy flicks; Edward Norton’s Incredible Hulk; Spider-Man Homecoming; Ant-Man; Dr. Strange; and the great and powerful Black Panther…as those fans hoped unanimously, Avengers: Infinity War is the ultimate, fitting culmination of all that. It ties lots of threads together, features unexpected team-ups, makes time for heroes punching heroes in the grand tradition of Marvel misunderstandings, hits hard with heavy emotional moments, allows a few quiet spaces to breathe in between the chaos, and has a few moments rigged to invite audience cheers and gasps, sometimes mere seconds apart.

However, it is not the season finale. It’s episode 19 of a 22-episode season eleven years in the making, with three more episodes to go: this summer’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, which takes place beforehand; the technical prequel Captain Marvel; and the true season finale, Avengers: Secret Subtitle. Anyone trying to approach Infinity War as a standalone work, clinging to the notion that any and every film should be a self-sufficient viewing experience in itself, will walk away disappointed. Infinity War has other objectives in mind. Comics fans are used to major crossover events and know how the game works, but some film critics are bristling at this new idea that threatens to make movies more like comics in the long term, and not necessarily like good comics.

Okay, that opening was supposed to be shorter. Even shorter version, then: upon a single viewing in IMAX, where the volume-17 sound system purged all intellectual notions out of my body, Avengers: Infinity War was extremely cool, somewhat depressing, and, as I suspected going into it, thoroughly futile on at least one ostensibly dramatic level.

That’s still too long. One more try: if you love Marvel movies to pieces, Avengers: Infinity War is more of that but quadrupled.

Caution ahead: spoilers are probably ahead if you’re the kind of deductive reader who can put two and two together too quickly. My movie entries are normally written as if I’m talking to a general audience who hasn’t seen the film, but we’re now on the nineteenth film, the biggest one yet (literally for me, since I saw none of the others in IMAX) and I don’t know if I’m about to make this entry quite so reader-friendly. I’m not indulging in stroke-for-stroke golf commentary, but a few aspects of my reactions — including my least favorite thing about it — can’t be covered coyly without rendering them into so much useless ambiguity. If you need to brake and reverse now, I’ll understand.

Continue reading

C2E2 2018 Photos, Part 1: Another Jazz Hands Gallery!

Justin Hartley!

You may know Justin Hartley from NBC’s top-rated drama This Is Us, but Anne and I were fans of his work on Smallville as The CW’s original Green Arrow.

It’s that time again! The ninth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″) just wrapped 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 cons in larger, more popular states. My wife Anne and I missed the first year, but have attended every year since 2011 as a team.

In this special miniseries I’ll be sharing memories and photos from our own C2E2 experience and its plethora of pizzazz. Normally we lead off every convention miniseries with cosplay photos, but we’re rushing this batch of photos to the front of the line because several of my coworkers have vested interests in a few of the personalities we met this year. Hopefully this all-star talent lineup brightens their Monday morning.

Continue reading

Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Black Panther” End Credits

Black Panther!

Local theater, doing it right.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: Ryan Coogler’s emotionally charged directorial debut Fruitvale Station was my favorite film of 2013. His follow-up, Creed, struck a bone-deep nerve inside me and was one of my two favorite films of 2015. It didn’t hurt in the least bit that the star of both films was Michael B. Jordan, who’s been raising his game with every project from his early start in The Wire to Chronicle (my favorite film of 2012) and beyond.

As a longtime comics fan who counts Christopher Priest’s ’90s runs on Marvel’s Black Panther as one of the all-time greats, and who wouldn’t have dreamed of this past weekend ever happening as a kid, I was beyond excited when the reins for the big Panther motion picture were handed over to Coogler, and that Jordan would be a part of it.

In a rare move for me, I kept my expectations unreasonably high. In a rare move for Hollywood, my expectations were blown away.

Continue reading

Comics Update: My Current Lineup and 2017 Pros & Cons

Comics A-X!

All my 2017 singles divided and alphabetized from A to X but skipping V.

[WARNING: This entry turned out several leagues beyond epic-length and may be the wordiest entry in MCC history, but I wanted it out of my system, and all at once in a single-take infodump. And now it is. Mission accomplished.]

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. My criteria can seem weird and unfair to other fans who don’t share them. I like discussing them if asked, which is rare, but I loathe debating them. It doesn’t help that I skip most crossovers and tend to gravitate toward titles with smaller audiences, which means whenever companies need to save a buck, my favorites are usually first on the chopping block. I doubt many comics readers follow MCC anyway, so it’s the perfect place to talk about comics all to myself. Whee.

2017 certainly hasn’t been a boring year for discussions. In addition to undergoing a light-handed version of the anti-sexual harassment revolution that’s sweeping Hollywood, the comics field has seen DC’s Rebirth initiative still going strong on the learning curve from the “New 52” misfire. Meanwhile, the “Marvel Legacy” campaign — their fifth line-wide restart in eight years or so — was founded on the assumption that old folks like me and the Kids These Days are dying to watch comics regress to the ’70s and ’80s. So far they’ve been wrong and sales have nosedived on a number of titles. The cancellations that made room for this ploy have been followed in short order by still more cancellations of their usurpers. I’m still finding Marvel-labeled reading to my tastes, but I’m glad they’re not the only choices at my local comic shop.

For reference and maybe unconscious oblique insight, here’s 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 December 2017:

Continue reading

My 2017 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Year’s Least Worst

Last Jedi!

The indefatigable Rey, future head of the New Jedi Order alongside her new best pal Mara Jade. Look, we can dream, okay?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: In 2017 I made 21 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. In Part 1 we ranked the bottom eleven. And now, the countdown concludes:

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: