Wednesday, November 15, 2017

‘Batman and the Outsiders’ is solid, underappreciated, fun series

When the first issue of BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS came out in 1983, I bought it on the newsstand, but I hardly read the rest of the series. Mostly because I wasn’t collecting comics much after that.

Besides, why would I want to read an ensemble series featuring two C-list heroes and three new ones — especially after Batman just left the DC Comics’ premiere superhero team, the Justice League of America?

But honestly I was always curious about BATO, created by writer Mike W. Barr and one of the greatest Batman artists in history, the late Jim Aparo.

Aparo was a master of comic book covers and his BATO ones are no exception. Every single cover draws you in. That is the case with every single Aparo cover, no matter the title, and BATO continued to catch my eye through every time I saw back issues on sale.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Overused humor overwhelms underwhelming, enjoyable 'Thor: Ragnarok'

As I watched "Logan" this weekend with the director's commentary, James Mangold's comment that the first twenty minutes of a film says a lot about its direction stuck with me.

And so it is with "Thor: Ragnarok." It's obvious the plan is to introduce humor to the God of Thunder's third film. The director and writing team go for "Guardians of the Galaxy"-style humor -- but less juvenile. The "Guardians" vibe was refreshing in the first time around since it hadn't been done before in Marvel films, overdone and ridiculous in "Vol. 2" and used as an odd inspiration for most of "Ragnarok."

But there is no let-up; the jokes are constant. The problem is is not many are laugh-out-loud funny. Several people guffawed throughout the well-attended screening at Norwalk Premiere Theatre 8, while I only managed a few short chuckles.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

‘Spenser: For Hire’ misses Susan in Season 2

A new lady in your life and a new set of wheels often sound like a recipe for success for nearly every guy’s guy. But that’s simply not the case for Season 2 of “Spenser: For Hire.”

Spenser’s long-time girlfriend in the late Robert B. Parker’s novels, Susan Silverman, is nowhere to be seen in the 22 episodes.

There’s no mention of her in the first show and it’s not until Episode 2 that Spenser (the late Robert Urich) provides an explanation — a lame one — that Susan (actress Barbara Stock) said he left him “gently and regretfully, firmly closing the door on our life together.” That doesn’t sound like she’ll be back for Season 3.

Instead of Susan there’s assistant D.A. Rita Fiori. Actress Carolyn McCormick is delightful, but she’s no significant replacement for Stock's Susan.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Great cosplays from Akron Comicon

AKRON, Ohio -- Another comic book convention, another day of great cosplays. Here are my favorite costumes from the 2017 Akron Comicon, which I attended Saturday while selling Silver Age and Bronze Age comics with Jamie "Phat Daddy" Stewart at his Phat Daddy's Comics booth.
The Arrowverse gang -- with Vibe! I really dig the Black Canary and Flash cosplayers' poses.
Beetlejuice and Doctor Strange (Check out all the accessories hanging off Strange's belt!)
Seeing a Shazam cosplayer is a rarity. These guys are from Rubber City Cosplay, whose members
were taking free photos at a booth. I also saw a Black Adam and a dark Mary Marvel.
This Judge Dredd says he often is accompanied by "a family of Judges." Parenting done right!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Black Widow, Firestar and Wonder Woman - oh my!

Beer drinkers might say "it's Miller time." Or even it's ladies night.

Really it's Marvel Comics time for lady superheroes. And don't forget about the Lynda Carter/TV take on Wonder Woman in these trade paperback reviews.

BLACK WIDOW VOL. 1: S.H.I.E.L.D.'s MOST WANTED: This BLACK WIDOW series is brought to you by the same co-writers and artist (Mark Waid and Chris Samnee) that brought you not one, but two (!), swashbuckling editions of DAREDEVIL. (Find it, if you haven't! Here are my thoughts on the second run.)

Samnee's gracefully choreagraphed action sequences and fight scenes pop off the page with a "pow!" of orange-, blue- and red-dominated color palettes from colorist Matthew Wilson. Black Widow is a fugitive from S.H.I.E.L.D. and in the process, realizes the mousy girl from the Red Room that made her the kick-ass assassin she his has created a new school of elementary-age would-be assassins.

Natasha Romanoff lets her ass-kicking do most of the talking in these six issues. And that's more than OK with me because Samnee's art and the many silent panels speak for themselves. I'm not really a fan of Black Widow being quite this violent, but she is an assassin after all, and there's nothing grotesque or macabre depicted here. This is a solid introduction to Black Widow for new fans, a great series for BW fans who have wanted her to have her own title and a great showcase for the mysterious redhead. Grade: A-

Monday, October 30, 2017

'Avengers assemble!' — at NASA Plum Brook (flashback feature)

The following news feature, written by CCC webmaster Cary Ashby, originally was published in the NORWALK REFLECTOR newspaper. Ashby, who covered the cops-and-courts beat for the paper for 13 years, currently is the features writer who covers Norwalk public and private schools, city government and is the general education reporter.

NORWALK, Ohio (July 15, 2011) — The Avengers will be assembling at the NASA Plum Brook facility in Perkins Township. At least their onscreen equivalents will be sometime in August.

"There is a contract being negotiated between NASA and Marvel Studios," NASA spokeswoman Sally Harrington said Thursday. "Until something is signed between NASA and Marvel Studios, that's all I can confirm or give you."

It's unknown when those contract negotiations started or when scouting for the area began. The news of the filming possibly happening at either NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland or NASA Plum Brook first was reported by the NORWALK REFLECTOR in mid-April (2011) in the "Cary's Comics Craze" column.

At the time, NASA Glenn news chief Lori Rachul said the REFLECTOR was the first area media outlet to inquire about the rumor.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

DC Universe Animated Original Movies ranked: Nos. 9-5

Life and free time being what it is, Cary's Comics Craze finally returns to its countdown ranking of all the DC Universe Animated Original Movies. We've cracked the top 10, CCC'ers, and here we look at Nos. 9 through 5.

Three of these five animated movies are adaptations of stories first published in ongoing DC Comics titles. Another film originally was a limited series. Two of these flicks had their animation adaptation written and/or produced by the same men who wrote the original stories, so it's no wonder they're so well done and Cary's Comics Craze ranks them so high.

Another similarity with these five choices are that Warner Bros. Animation was nailing it with their releases in 2009-'10 and 2017 — at least in this fan's humble opinion.

Off we go! And don't forget to click the first reference of the movie title, which will take you to the original CCC review (if it's still available online).

9) "Justice League: New Frontier" (2009): Call this a Justice League origin story featuring Hal Jordan (voiced by David Boreanaz, of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Bones" fame) and Barry Allen (Neil Patrick Harris) or a loving homage to the Golden Age of Comics, but definitely call the late Darwyn Cooke's story brilliant. Everything feels just right in this story set in the early 1960s. Much like Judd Winick writing the animated version of "Batman: Under the Red Hood" (No. 5), this version of "New Frontier" is a tighter and more efficient telling of the published story. Cooke's commentary — a rarity among the 30 DC Universe Animated Original Movies so far — is insghtful, recommended listening.