Thursday, October 31, 2019

smArt Pixelator

Get ready to get pixelated!  Flycatcher Toys presents its smArt Pixelator light up toy!

No, no,  smArt Pixelator is not a new type of Terminator, although you could make a 3D robot if you want.

Made for kids seven years old and older the smArt Pixelator uses light and digital technologies to create amazing portraits and art right from photographs and art!

Kids can use the enclosed art projects or create their own by downloading images using a smart device and the enclosed app.

With 50 projects included, the smArt Pixelator also lets children use six designs right out of the box with its preloaded SD card.  Turn it on and follow the light patterns.  Use the colors displayed or get creative and use you own color scheme.

The possibilities are endless!  Kids can pixelate any design and build 2D and 3D projects using Bluetooth connectivity, lights and creativity tools.

Included are an AC Adapter, two battery compartments, a SD Activity Card Slot, six Control Buttons, LED Indicators, 300 smART Pixel Beads. a Reusable Bead Tray, an Ironing Paper Sheet, a Bead Applicator, a light up Activities Display Screen and four Tray Holding Pins.

Pixelate photos you take or from existing photos
smArt Pixelator encourage creativity, eye/hand coordination, dexterity, and critical thinking and technical skills.

Additional Sets include an Organizer, Peg Set, Sequin Set, Beads Set and Bracelet Marker Set.

Kids will have a ball recreating photos in pixelated form, art and 3D objects.

It’s easy to use, simply place the beads or sequins, etc onto the tray using the applicators, remove the tray, cover with the ironing cloth, iron the design and before you know it kids have a perfect piece of art!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

DC Comics’ Star Trek

Star Trek has been around for a long time-50 plus years in fact.

It has spawned an industry of merchandise such as movies, books, toys and other mass media collectibles.

Star Trek has appeared in comic books from various publishers over the years.

But, to me, DC Comics published the very best Star Trek comic books.

DC Comics obtained the rights to publish Star Trek comic books in the early to mid-1980s.

The original series got its first issue in 1984 and featured a cover by artist George Perez. 

The series took place not long after the events of The Wrath Of Khan movie. 

Characters dressed in the film uniforms and continued the voyage of the Enterprise after Spock’s death.  Tom Sutton provided the art and Mike W. Barr the story.

It was an impressive launch.

Equally impressive were the three Star Trek Annuals that followed over the next three years.

Mike W. Barr provided the story for the first annual and David Ross and Bob Smith the art.

The story was aptly titled The First Mission! of the Enterprise under the command of Captain Kirk.

The second annual by Barr and artists Dan Jergens and Bob Smith chronicled the last voyage of the Enterprise: ending its first five-year mission.

The third annual is by far my favorite, written by Peter David and drawn by Curt Swan and Ricardo Villagran.

In it Scotty reflects on his life and the loss of his wife.  I still tear up whenever I read the story.

I believe the DC Comics original series Star Trek comic books featured some the best art and stories of the franchise and as the years pass future Star Trek fans are sure to want to add them to their collection.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Batman Beyond The Complete Series

Back in the early and mid-1990s Warner Bros. Animation produced a new animated series based on the Batman and Batman Returns movies directed by Tim Burton.

Borrowing heavily from the then current Batman mystique at DC Comics, Batman: The Animated Series was a huge hit with Batman fans.

It is still one of my all-time favorite animated series.

When it was announced that Warner Bros. would be putting out a new Batman (non-Bruce Wayne) animated series set in the future I was skeptical.

“Why?  What’s the point?”, I pondered.

Being curious I gave it a shot and was pleasantly surprised.

Batman Beyond kept the legend of Batman alive and added in a few twists and innovations of its own.

Batman Beyond centers on Terry McGinnis, a street-wise student/punk who has a talent for getting in trouble and staying there.

When Terry stumbles upon the secret that Bruce Wayne is Batman sparks fly.

For reasons known only to him Bruce agrees to let Terry don his super-tech Batman costume and fight crime under his direction and tutelage.

At first Bruce and Terry are at odds with other but eventually they learn to respect and trust each other.

Batman Beyond successfully updates the Batman legacy, introduces some futuristic versions of Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery and an impressive plethora of original villains of its own.

I love it!

Warner Bros. presents the new boxed set Batman Beyond The Complete series Blu-ray/Digital Collection.

Included with the complete series episodes are some outstanding extras.

Included with the set are a Limited Edition Chrome Batman Beyond Funko Pop figure and Lenticular Collector Cards with original animation artwork.

The 52 episodes set also comes with a Batman Beyond movie and several featurettes.

What a great Batman Beyond collection!  Celebrate 80 years of Batman and purchase this collection.

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw

A lawman.  A criminal.  Natural enemies, right?  Not necessarily.

Given the right situation they have to work together to solve a problem-a serious problem.

Lawman Luke Hobbs and criminal/outcast Deckard Shaw have always had a tenuous and competitive relationship.

One is always trying to outdo the other. The like to trade barbs and jabs.

They are not good friends-they tolerate each other-barely.

When a genetically enhanced criminal takes control of a new bio-weapon/technology that threatens humanity, Shaw and Hobbs must join forces (along with Shaw’s touch-as-nails sister) to fight a bad guy even tougher than themselves.

Dubbed ‘the best action movie of the year’ Hobbs &Shaw delivers with action, adventure, thrills, spills and humor.

This is the movie Fast & Furious Fans have wished for and it delivers-big time!

Universal Pictures Home Entertainment presents Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw a new Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Code Combo Pack that not only includes the entire movie but extras like:

An alternate opening.
Deleted/extended/alternate scenes.
How a fight scene is created.
Action planning.
A bad guy retrospective.
Shaw’s sister’s story.
The Hobbs’ family tree.
Shaw’s mother‘s back-story.
Special cameos.
Elevator action.
Stunt show secrets.
Actor commentaries.
And much more.

Chaos Impact

Chaos rules!  It affects everything it touches.  It’s impact threatens players and creatures alike.  Get ready for some serious Gladiator Beast comeback!

Konami’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game Chaos Impact includes nine Cards per Booster Foil Pack (including one Foil Card) and 24 Packs per Box.

Here’s what you can expect:

100-Card in the Booster Set!
Builds off themes from Rising Rampage.
New strategies to the light.
Supports some classics.
Harness fiendish spiritual power.
Summon monsters onto the field.
New Level 8 Fiend
Dive deeper with Marincess.
New Gladiator Beasts
A Continuous Spell Card to Special Summon a "Gladiator Beast"    
A playable Link-5 Monster, Firewall Dragon Darkfluid!    
New Cards for Decks like Aromage, Dinowrestler, Evil Eye, Salamangreat, Tenyi, and more!

The Chaos Impact Booster Set contains 100 Cards:

48 Commons
20 Rares
14 Super Rares
10 Ultra Rares
8 Secret Rares

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The New Mutants #18 and X-Men The Hidden Years #1

In an unusual move in the 1980s Marvel Comics took a daring step and allowed artist Bill Sienkiewicz to draw The New Mutants beginning with issue #18.

Sienkiewicz’s early pencilling style emulated Neal Adams work but changed to be more stylized and unique.

It was a bold step and at first fans either loved or hated his pencils. 

He also created the covers and they are still considered some of the most innovative and original covers ever created for a comic book series.

Besides the Bill Sienkiewicz artwork issue #18 also introduced the alien shape-changer Warlock and the physical presence of the Demon Bear.

The New Mutants #18 marks a decidedly different approach to story telling and is considered by many to be a clever shot at the status quo.

Back in the late 1960’s Marvel Comics’ The Uncanny X-Men title was lagging in sales.

Stan Lee tried to remedy the situation by assigning Roy Thomas as the writer and hiring on superstar penciller Neal Adams to do the art.

The result was some truly remarkable and groundbreaking issues that are considered classics today.

Unfortunately sales numbers did not increase substantially enough and the series was cancelled after issue #66.

Ironically if the sales tracking methods used today were available back then the sales numbers would have indicated a solid seller.

Later the series would continue through issue #93 as reprints.

Writer/artist John Byrne pitched a new X-Men series in the early 2000’s that would fill-in those lost issues with new stories.

Byrne had previously been one of the pencillers on the series and believed that fans would appreciate his attempts to fill-in the lost years up until the New X-Men were introduced in issue #94.

By all indications the series was a success.

For some unexplained reasons Marvel Comics powers-that-were abruptly cancelled the series with no viable explanation.

A possible reason could have been an editorial staff change and a new direction for the X-Men franchise.

This infuriated and shocked John Byrne and he left Marvel Comics in a huff and has not returned even to this day.

For true X-Men completists X-Men The Hidden Years is an important series that fills in the gaps of the classic series up until the introduction of the New X-Men. 

Friday, October 25, 2019

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Many Lives Of James Bond

When you think about it it is pretty remarkable that the cinematic James Bond has gone through so many actors playing the British super spy.

Not only has Bond appeared in movies but also in novels, comic books and TV let alone the massive promotional and commercial merchandise that has grown over the years.

But, what does it mean to be Bond?  How has he changed over the years?

In The Many Lives Of James Bond, by Mark Edlitz from Lyons Press, readers learn how the creators of 007 have decoded the super spy.

Actors, directors, production personnel, musicians and others associated with the James Bond film franchise offer their personal recollections, interpretations of the spy and what it was like translating 007 to the Silver Screen.

Game designers, graphic designers, artists and other mass media consumer product producers and promoters also weigh in on how they interpreted James Bond in their respective projects.

James Bond has often been associated with a simple two-dimensional character type. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Translating and interpreting 007 to whatever media is often complicated, time-consuming and even a daunting task.

The book is filled with information and insights that reveal multiple sides to James Bond, how he is envisioned by individuals and to society as a whole.

It makes for a fascinating and eye-opening expose on the super spy who is anything but secret.

Besides being an insightful look in to the world of 007, the book offers glimpses into the marketing and merchandising machine that continues to make the super spy as relevant today as the day he was first introduced.

Teen Titans Go! Vs Teen Titans

Two!  Count ‘em, two.

As if one Teen Titans team was not enough.  Now there are two!

When the Teen Titans Go! team takes on the Gentleman Ghost he attempts to take over Raven.

Her forehead gem is cracked and some of her demonic power is released.

Her demon father Trigon tells Raven her demonic half is taking over.  He offers to help-she refuses.

Out of nowhere appears the Master of Games who traverses the Multiverse pitting the 2003 Titans against the 2013 Titans but only after he threatens their worlds.

The 2003 team manages to defeat the 2013 team, save Raven who has manifested into her demon form.

The 2003 Raven unleashes her power against the 2013 Raven and snaps the 2003 Raven out of it.  They realize that the Master of Games is actually Trigon who is siphoning her powers to reanimate the 2013 Trigon.

The two Trigons escape to 2013 with the Ravens leaving the combined Teen Titan teams in a quandary. How do they travel to 2013 to stop them-if only they had a device?

It just so happens Santa Claus has such a device and Teen Titans battle him to get it.

The fight between the Titans and Mr. and Mrs. Claus is absolutely hilarious, especially when they start jumping from alternate earth to alternate earth.

There are so many Teen Titan teams; aquatic, cartoon, cute animals, robots and more.

The Titans defeat the Claus, get their alternate earth traveling device and travel to 2013 earth for the fight of their lives.

The Trigons are not pleased to say the least.

The Teen Titans Go! Vs Teen Titans Blu-ray/DVD/Digital code Combo Pack from Warner Bros. Animation pits the teams against other in a no-holds-barred battle with tons of action, lots of humor, some surprising moments and a shock ending that is sure to have Teen Titans talking for years to come.

It’s a fun, fast-packed, fantastic, in your face direct to Blu-ray/DVD animated adventure that also includes sing-alongs, several featurettes and nine bonus cartoons.

Wonder Woman Bloodlines

Warner Bros. Animation presents the origin of the Amazon Princess in Wonder Woman Bloodlines, a fantastic tale of science gone awry, magic and myth.

When Steve Trevor’s aircraft is attached by Parademons, Princess Diana (Wonder Woman) of the Amazon island of Themyscira, rescues him and brings him back to a mending chamber and baths him a healing purple ray.

Diana’s mother, Queen Hippolyta furious that a man has set foot on their sacred island and broken their long-held law against an outside man being on the island, she imprisons Steve. He wants to warn the world of the Parademon invasion.

Diana, who remembers a prophecy confirming Steve’s fears, frees him and returns to him to man’s world.

As punishment her mother disowns her and banishes Diana from the island and erases her memory of how to return.

Steve and Diana return to the outside world and teams up with Dr. Julia Kapatelis in Washington D.C. to prepare for the invasion.

Vanessa, the doctor’s daughter, feels jealous that her mother is spending so much time with Diana. 

After a short time Diana chooses Wonder Woman as her code name in order to defend mankind.

The story shifts to five years later and a new terrorist group (Villainy Inc.) threatens mankind. Dr. Kapatelis asks Wonder woman to find her missing daughter Vanessa who stole a valuable artifact to sell to the mysterious villainesses Docotor Cyber and  Doctor Poison, of Villainy Inc.

Now things get really interesting!

Hold onto your seat as Diana takes on Giganta with heightened powers, Cheetah (also possessing more strength and agility), Silver Swan, the Minotaur and a new super powerful Medusa.

Diana and Steve desperately try to return to Themyscira to save Vanessa and search down a mystic memory restoring elixir that when taken allows Wonder Woman how to find the island

Bloodlines is an exciting epic that interlaces modern technology with ancient myths and magic. 

As with all DC Comics/Warner Bros. Animation collaboration this direct-to-Blu-ray/4K UltraHD is packed with spectacular visual effects, a pulse-pounding soundtrack, a first-rate voice cast and packed with lots of extras.

It’s a ‘wonder’ to behold.

It’s Wonder Woman at her most powerful, compassionate, determined and lethal in a mesmerizing quest to save lives, save the world and bring evil to justice.

The new 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray/Digital Code Combo Pack also includes a ‘Death’ DC Showcase Short, special features about the Cheetah, a sneak peek at Superman: Red Son and two bonus cartoons.

Monday, October 21, 2019


Saddle up hombres!  It’s time to  roundup some rustlers! 

I grew up when Westerns ruled the movies and TV.  Western novels were some of the most popular literature of the time and it seemed as if the whole population of the United States had Western fever.

Our nation was formed on the backs of pioneers and those that tamed the Old West.  Ever since explorers crossed the Mississippi there have been tales of stalwart heroes, Indian wars, barroom brawls, cattle rustlers, bank and stage robbers, cattle barons, gunfighters, brave townsfolk, hard-working ranchers and cowboys and lawmen.

The Old West was a new frontier fraught with danger, the promise of untold wealth and the hope for a better tomorrow.

Men were tough and the women who went with them were just as resilient.

Life was hard and only the persistent, tough-as-nail pioneers and visionaries could survive.  It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make a living.

Literature glamorized and painted a picture of the men and women of the Old West almost as if they were super-human.  Nothing could have further from the truth.

Life was tough, hard times and hard work took it toll on bodies and minds.  It took a special kind of person to survive.

Still, dime novels were popular, radio and movie Western serials kept audiences glued to their seats and Western actors and actresses were the stuff of legends.

Author John Layne has recaptured the magic of the Western dime novels.

His Gunslingers A Story Of The Old West, published by Newman Springs Publishing, is filled with memorable characters from lawmen to renegades and classic Western locales.

It’s a story of how Western justice was difficult to enforce and sometimes it took extraordinary measures to see outlaws brought to justice.

U.S. Deputy Marshall Joel Thornton has put his six-shooters aside and has retired just outside the town named after him in Texas.

He owns a ranch and is slowly building a herd and learning to take care of other ranch business.

It’s a tough life but he’s confident that he will soon earn enough money to make a comfortable living.  He lives there with an old friend and his daughter.

Elizabeth, his daughter had returned after several years back East.  Not long after she arrived an old enemy of Joel’s shows up with his gang, shoots and nearly kills him, steals his money, kills his friend, wounds his daughter and rustles his cattle.

Hurt, but not deterred, he asks his daughter to track down his old friend, another U.S. Deputy Marshall: Ben Chance.  She manages to get help and her father survives.

Here’s where the story gets interesting.  The action shifts to Elizabeth and her attempts to find Ben.

Along the way she tangles with some Indians and is saved by a mysterious gunslinger that agrees to help her in her quest.

They find Ben, who also is saved by another gunslinger who is on a mysterious mission of his own.

Elizabeth, the two gunslingers and Ben head out to find the man who shot her father, retrieve his stolen cattle, bring him to justice and somehow manage to stay out of danger-hopefully.

This is the Old West as it was meant to be.  Outlaws, rustlers, Indians marauders, fast-draws, a dastardly villain and dusty and downtrodden locations all combine to make Gunslingers a memorable tale about the days when men were men and women wouldn’t have it any other way.  

The author really opens up the myths behind the Old West, populates his story with real people (not fabricated hard and unrealistic as steel heroes), and captures the true spirit of what life was like west of the Mississippi.

So pull up a chair partner, set your six-shooter on the bar, grab a shot of rotgut and get ready for a rip-roaring tale of the Old West laced with true grit, tumbling tumbleweeds and enough shootouts to satisfy the most ornery of cowpokes. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

They Coulda Have Been Contenders

Imagine if you will.  It’s the early 1900s and the movie industry is in its early stages.

Audiences flocked to movie theaters to see the latest silent film starring such luminaries as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Valentino and a host of other ‘glamorous’ movie stars.

Before long ‘talkies’ begin showing up at theaters and for the first time audiences can hear their favorite stars talk, listen to music and experience sound effects.

It was an exciting time during the genesis of film making in Hollywood and hundreds of hopefuls stampeded to the movie-making Mecca to make their fortunes as movie stars, directors and movie technicians and workers.

Most went to make a name for themselves as super stars.

Of the hundreds who arrived at movie lots only a handful would go on to be big name stars.

In writer Dan Van Neste’s new book from BearManor Media: They Coulda Have Been Contenders, twelve Hollywood immigrants arrive at the city of the dreams with stardust in their eyes and hopes and dreams flowing through their veins.

These are the stories of those twelve individuals who broke into the film industry but due to bad timing, bad luck, karma or whatever the reason none of them attained their ultimate goal to become a movie star.

While all found work in the movie industry and acted in major productions and even won awards, none reached the height of stardom they had hoped for.

All were talented, ambitious, hard-working and earned a degree of fame, fortune and acclaim.

Twelve in-depth essays, complemented with archive photos, examine the life, career and struggle each experienced on their aborted attempt at stardom.

Most of their faces are familiar to lovers of old movies.  Personal recollections, archival accounts and current research combine to create captivating examinations of why none achieved super stardom.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Rogues, Scoundrels, And Bounty Hunters

OK, admit it.  Everybody loves the bad guys in the movies, books and popular culture.

Good guys are milk toast, pasteurized, boy scouts and too, too perfect.  Unless...they are a bad boy, rogue or scoundrel.

Ask any actor or actress and they would say that they much rather play the bad guy or gal.  The same holds true for authors.  They prefer writing about the villains of their books.  They’re so much more interesting.

Just as interesting is a good guy with a little bit of larceny in their veins.

In Star Wars Insider: Rogues, Scoundrels, And Bounty Hunters lovers of Star Wars are treated to The Best Of Star Wars Insider-A Guide To The Star Wars Underworld.

Ever since Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Boba Fett and a host of other ‘questionable’ ethics characters were introduced Star Wars fans couldn’t get enough.

Over the course of the Star Wars films a plethora of characters that walk the line between good and bad have captivated moviegoers for decades.

In this new, square-bound, oversize magazine Titan Comics/ Magazines has compiled the best of the best of the bad boys of Star Wars.

They’re all here: Boba Fett, Bounty Hunters, Zam Wesell, Aurra Sing, Jabba The Huttt, Chewbacca, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Doctor Aphra and all of the other rogues, bounty hunters and scoundrels seen all of the Star Wars films and more are included.

The oversize magazine is packed with archival photos, art, promotional piece reproductions, character studies, behind-the-scenes information, history, merchandise tie-ins and so much Star Wars goodness even a Jawa couldn’t keep track of it all.

I especially like the production illustrations, designs, character development and creation recollections and the vintage photos and production art.

It’s a must-have publication for any Star Wars fan.

Duel Devastator

It’s time for some serious devastation!

Konami’s Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game Duel Devastator Box comes with 56 Ultra Rare Cards that transcend individual strategies.

Look for spectacular new variant artwork of Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit, Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion, and Ghost Sister & Spooky Dogwood!

You can turbo-charge your Extra Deck & Side.   Konami put together 30 of the most popular Side Deck choices plus 20 Extra Deck monsters.

Each Duel Devastator Box includes:

Variant Ultra Rare artwork versions of Ash Blossom & Joyous Spring, Ghost Ogre & Snow Rabbit, Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries, Ghost Belle & Haunted Mansion, and Ghost Sister & Spooky Dogwood.

A 6th Ultra Rare monster with a similar style. abilities.

20 Ultra Rare Extra Deck monsters.
30 more Ultra Rare Cards that work in Side Decks.

4 (of 12) Field Center Cards.

Each Duel Devastator box includes 56 Ultra Rare Cards (5 Ultra Rare variants, 1 new Ultra Rare, 20 Extra Deck monsters, and 30 Cards for Side Decks), plus 4 (of 12) Field Centers, and the heavy-duty Storage Box.

Monday, October 14, 2019

The Spectre and Swamp Thing

Most comic book collectors are aware of the fact that DC Comics reintroduced many of its Golden Age superheroes (albeit as different individuals and origins) back in the mid-1950s.

Over the next decades DC would bring back many of its earlier heroes in try out issues and eventually grant them their own titles.

The Spectre was once such character.

Introduced in the 1940s The Spectre was a supernatural force of vengeance and justice.

When police detective Jim Corrigan was killed The Spectre brought him back and inhabited his body.

Whenever a particulaly dastardly crime was committed The Spectre would appear and mete out supernatural justice.

In 1966 DC Comics re-introduced The Spectre in Showcase Presents #60 during the Silver Age.

Where was he the last 20 years?  This issue explains all and also bumps up The Spectre’s supernatural powers and his status in the DC Universe.

With DC comics’ current continuing and escalating stories featuring supernatural threats Showcase Presents #60 offers an excellent jumping on point for DC’s mystical side.

Readers of DC Comics recognize the name Swamp Thing.  Swampy oozes magic and supernatural forces and is dubbed the Avatar of the Green.

But, that was not always so.

When artist Bernie Wrightson and writer Len Wein introduced Swamp Thing he was scientist Alex Holland who got doused by his plant growing formula when he was set ablaze by some bad guys.

Running into the nearby swamp, Alex’s body, the swamp and chemicals all combined to make him the Swamp Thing.

In issue #7 of his ongoing series Swamp Thing teams up with another denizen of the night: Batman!

Swamp Thing goes after the man who ordered the murder of his wife with Batman not far behind.  It’s a powerful story of revenge and justice.

The Bernie Wrightson art alone is worth picking up this issue.  Combine that with the fact that it was the first time Swamp Thing met up with any of DC Comics heroes and you have a classic.

Early Swamp Thing issues continue to rise in price and because the series had a lower print than most DC Comics of the time, finding issues is getting more difficult.

Get them while you can

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Marvel Team-Up Annual and Not Brand Echh

Back in 1976 during the Bronze Age of comic books, Marvel Team-Up Annual #1 featured one of the first crossover events guest-starring The New X-Men.

Spider-Man joined The New X-Men in a double the action, double the thrills adventure as they faced off against a new threat.

A new team of villains fashioned after Hindu Mythology fought Spidey and The New X-Men.

Spidey and The New X-Men had to stop them before their pre-planned deaths.  For if they died, the earth died with them.

The issue featured a Dave Cockrum cover (the artist on The Uncanny X-Men).

The book spotlighted The New X-Men and their ability to fight as team, despite their cultural differences.

When Stan Lee still occupied The Bullpen he was never afraid to make fun of himself, the Marvel Universe or its Distinguished Competition.

By the mid-1960s the  ‘Marvel style” was thoroughly established.

Other publishers tried to copy Marvel’s success but couldn’t quite pull it off.

Confident in the uniqueness of Marvel Comics Stan created a new monthly comic book that not only made fun of Marvel Comics but also comic books from other publishers.

Thus was born Not Brand Echh, the comic magazine for non-believers who hate comic magazines.

Issue #1 introduced the mascot of the title: Forbush Man and proceeded to make fun of The Fantastic Four, Marvel Westerns, the original Human Torch, The Submariner and Sgt. Fury And His Howling Commandos.

Art was provided by Marvel greats Jack Kirby, Marie and John Severin, Ross Andre and Bill Everett.

“Who says a comic book has to be good?”

Not Brand Eech was insane, absurd and a whole lot of fun to read.

I’d like to interject here for just a moment.

I’ve been a comic book and pop culture collector most of my life.  I have been truly blessed that I’ve got to enjoy my hobby and had the opportunity and privilege of writing reviews for going on 28 years.

I do not take that responsibility lightly nor do I take credit for the success of my blog and other social media sites.

I than God everyday for allowing me to enjoy my hobby and the passion I have for it.

But, that passion can never replace my love for my Savior Jesus Christ.

Without him I would be nothing.  I know my weaknesses and my shortcomings.

I also know that I’m not smart enough on my own to do what I’ve done the last 20 plus years. 

God has blessed my family and me tremendously and I own him my life.  I would be and would have nothing without him.

Believe me when I say I am a hard nut to crack.  I’m stubborn, impatient, lack compassion on many occasions and am a work in progress.

Thank God I may not be completely who I need to be, but I’m a lot farther along than I used to be.

If you’re reading this I encourage to ask Jesus Christ to save you.  It’s not about going to church, giving money and following a bunch of rules.  It’s about a relationship with a Savior who loves you as you are-blemishes and all.

All it takes is to recognize you’re a sinner, ask Jesus to forgive you and to save you and he will.

No following a bunch of rules, no self-improvement or trying to impress God will get you to heaven, only faith in God‘s saving grace.  It’s a free gift.  God will take care of the rest.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Ultra Q and Ultraman

I won’t pretend that I know that much about the Japanese series Ultra Q and Ultraman.  I’ve watched several episodes of each and while by today’s standards the series seems a little corny and overacted, I recognize the heart and soul that went into creating them.

It was a bold move on the part of the Japanese movie/TV industry. 

You must remember that the original Ultra Q series was produced just barely over 20 years after the Japanese were defeated in World War II.  The memory of the atomic bomb blasts at Nagasaki and Hiroshima was still fresh in the minds of the Japanese.

They Japanese needed heroes: champions who could solve their problems and protect them.  Such heroes were Ultra Q Series 1 who, later on, led to the creation of Ultraman.

Filmed in black and white the 28-episode series followed the exploits of a group of investigators who tracked down mysterious events happening in and around Japan.

Think of it as an early Kolchak: Night Stalker or The X-Files prototype.

The entire series is lovingly presented in a brand-new, classic series DVD collection from Mill Creek Entertainment.

Ultraman Series 2 was the full-color late 1960s TV series that followed in the footprints of Ultra Q.

In the series a giant alien pursued an escaped space monster. 

Accidentally the alien crashed into a Jet VTOL and nearly kills the pilot.

In order to save the life of the pilot the alien merges with him and swears to protect earth from alien invaders and other dastardly types. 

Thus was born Ultraman.

At the time the series was one of the most expensive TV productions ever attempted in Japan. 

Colorful, action-packed, brimming with unique and outrageous characters and aliens and brimming with special effects, Ultraman was an immediate hit which coincidentally was shown on TV when a similar new American TV series with similar attributes was airing: Batman.

The entire Ultraman series has been remastered and enhanced in a brand new DVD collection from Mill Creek Entertainment.

The Rise And Fall Of American Science Fiction

What was it about Science Fiction that made it so fascinating to readers during the 1920s up until the 1960s?

I have my own theory.

Beginning in he 1920s America was experiencing the Great Depression.

People were looking for an escape from reality-any escape.

Dime novels, cheap tabloids and movies offered an inexpensive means by which audiences could experience flights of fancy-be they Westerns, Adventures, Crime and Justice, Historical and Science Fiction.

Of all the genres, Science Fiction offered the most imaginative escape. 

Imagine plying the space ways, visiting other planets, saving entire civilizations and the like.

As the decades progressed the world was plunged into World War II.  The grime reality of war could be supplanted by flights of fancy and thrilling tales of science harnessed for the good of mankind or Sci-Fi could be used as an allegory for the war.

The fifties brought prosperity and the belief that anything was possible.  The mighty American industrial machine, the government and private industry dared dream of space travel and visiting other worlds.

It also brought the fear of Atomic War-a nuclear holocaust and the dangers of radiation run rampant.

The 1950s gave way to the 1960s spiraling into social injustice, questioning authority, rebelliousness and speculations about alien societies, strange new life and traditions shattered.

Science Fiction boomed. 

Times changed as well as tastes and Sci-Fi found itself turning into a parody of itself and with a dwindling readership.  

The masses had spoken and thought-provoking and challenging Sci-Fi literature and films gave way to sill and trite stereotypes of the genre.

There were exceptions of course, but few and far between.  The status quo ruled and uniqueness dwindled.

In The Rise And Fall Of American Science Fiction, From The 1920s To The 1960s, author Gary Westfahl and McFarland Books look at 20th Century Science Fiction and how it changed over the decades to its current state. 

Careful consideration and study have gone into this book examining how the genre evolved, what contributed to its growth and shrinkage and the art, the sub-genres, the anthologies and impact Science Fiction experienced and contributed.

A Dragon and A Taxi

A kid’s book inspired by the artist/architect Gaudi’s Casa Batllo?  You bet!

A Dragon On The Roof is as colorful, surprising and exciting as the famous building.

Young Paloma is a mischievous young girl who tends to get in trouble whenever her nanny snoozes.

One day while fidgeting in her chair she waits until her nanny falls asleep.

Quietly she sneaks to the nearby window to peer outside.

Without warning a frightened bat flies in the window exclaiming to her that it is being chased by the destroyer who eats everything.

Suddenly the room and entire building shakes and rattles and a huge tail rambles through the building.

Never one to shy away from danger or a mystery, Paloma chases the tail only to discover it belongs to a dragon.

But not just any dragon-a friendly dragon that doesn’t want to hurt anyone or cause a problem.

Paloma follows the creature that climbs to the building’s roof and takes a snooze.

A Dragon On The Roof, published by Prestel Publishing, is a wonderful book that is so bright and colorful!  I absolutely love the illustrations that emulate the Casa Batllo! Cecile Alix and Fred Sochard have created an outstanding story that kids are sure to enjoy. 

Even better: a section in the back of the book talks about the Casa Batllo, the artist Antoni Gaudi and much of the symbolism used in the book.

It’s time to take a taxi ride.  But, not just any taxi ride.

It’s time to take a Taxi Ride With Victor.

Victor is a funny-looking alien that owns and operates his own outer space taxi service.

He’s kind, anxious to please his customers and does a good job.

The only problem is he has a lousy sense of direction and tends to get lost.

Imagine his customers’ surprise when he winds up taking them to destinations other than the one they wanted.

As bumbling as Victor is he always manages to take his customers to places where they need to go-not necessarily where they want to go.

All through the week Victor gets lost, winds up at the wrong locations and somehow always manages to please his riders.

One day everything goes wrong-or so Victor supposes.  When he finally arrives at his final destination a big surprise awaits him.

Sara Trofa and Elsa Klever take kids on a taxi ride like no other.  Aliens of all sorts travel the space ways in Victor’s Taxi. 

Delightful illustrations and clever text combine to make Taxi Ride With Victor a fun interstellar trek that teaches kids about the weekdays, the importance of persistence and the value of friendship all courtesy of Prestel Publishing.

Friday, October 4, 2019

What If? and Young Avengers

Sharp-eyed collectors are sure to have spotted two potential key comics currently at reasonable prices-but for how long?

Marvel Comics’ Wolverine premiered in The Incredible Hulk #180 in a cameo shot. Hulk #181 is the first ‘full appearance’ of Wolverine.

If you are a budget conscious collector like myself you can’t afford to buy Hulk #181.  It’s climbing in value at an unprecedented rate.

But, what if I told you there is a viable alternative?

In 1982’s What If? #31 comic book, the epic battle between Wolverine and the Hulk is recreated but with a different outcome--Wolverine kills the Hulk.

While not the original story the comic book does make for an affordable purchase for most collectors.

With the recent events in The Avengers: Endgame movie it appears that a new younger Avengers team may be in the works.

Speculation is that Marvel’s Young Avengers title is the possible inspiration for the new team.

Young Avengers #1 has already caught the attention of collectors and expect the price to rise as rumors continue to fly about the next phase of The Avengers movie franchise.

Get a copy now before it’s too late.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Bakugan Battle Planet Origins Of Species DVD

Something has woke up!  Whatever they or it are Dan Kouzo and his friends Wynton and Lia are there.

Mysterious and powerful creatures known as the Bakugan have awoken from their long sleep.

Dan, Wynton and Lia decide to join together to protect the Bakugan from those who would enslave, control or destroy these remarkable creatures.

With powers and abilities never seen before by man many would consider the creatures a threat.  Dan and his friends know otherwise and will do whatever it takes to protect and defend the Bakugan race.

Follow Dan and his companions as they return to defend the mysterious, magical and majestic Bakugan in 13 pulse-pounding episodes filled with action, adventure, danger and intrigue.

It’s been 12 years since the three friends (The Awesome Ones) experienced the Great Collision and began to unravel the mystery of the Bakugan. 

As they discover new Bakugan, The Awesome Ones prove their bravery as they defend their family, friends, neighbors and each other as they battle dark forces that wish to destroy or enslave the Bakugan.

It’s shape and size shifting Bakugan magic as The Awesome Ones take on the bad guys and save the world from danger.

The Bakugan Battle Planet Origins Of Species DVD from Cartoon Network includes all 13 episodes of this fun, fast and fantastic series.