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This WrestleMania weekend, we must all hail Botchamania!

March 28, 2015

WrestleMania, the premier professional wrestling/sports entertainment event, is this Sunday. It’s the annual “Showcase of the Immortals,” WWE’s answer to the Super Bowl, and over the years it’s become a festival of sorts. The week leading up to it is filled with expos and fan events, including a Hall of Fame ceremony where performers past — those in Vince McMahon’s good graces — are inducted into that company’s answer to Canton and Cooperstown. It’s the pinnacle of the industry, where, at least in theory, the absolute cream of the crop, the upper echelon of excellence, is on display and celebrated.

And then there’s Botchamania, which is pretty much the exact opposite. And it’s glorious. Read more…

Burton. Keaton. Nicholson. 1989. Be there. – Batman: The Official Comic Adaptation of the Warner Bros. Motion Picture

March 26, 2015

Batman movie comic

As mentioned recently in our post on the 2002 Spider-Man cards, it was great seeing J.K. Simmons get an Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards. He indeed deserved it for his performance in Whiplash, one of those supporting roles that totally makes the movie that it’s in. But he was no revelation, as he’s been doing solid work for years, everything from psychopaths to comedic foils, from Oz to State Farm commercials. And, of course, J. Jonah Jameson. It’s for that last role that we comic book devotees owe him a special debt of gratitude. It’s rare that a beloved (or hated-beloved) character is recreated so fully in flesh and blood.

Michael Keaton, star of Birdman, was also up for a lead actor award, but alas he didn’t take it home. There were surely many of us out there rooting for him, though, mainly because of his decades ago turn in the role upon which that film was a meta commentary. Today we look back in time at 1989’s runaway blockbuster: Tim Burton’s Batman — and its comic book adaptation. Read more…

The Speedee-Bilt model airplane promises “MANY HAPPY LANDINGS.” In related news, it lies.

March 24, 2015
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Speedee-Bilt Plane Kit

This ad promises “Many happy landings and launchings,” but one imagines that the “Speedy-Bilt” model planes were like others of their ilk: flimsy contraptions ready to fall apart at the slightest jolt. Especially when they augur right down into the dirt on their maiden voyage, like all these things do, ruining all the painstaking effort with that tub of Elmer’s Glue.

The Mission: Impossible — Rogue State trailer will make you believe a man can fly — stuck to the side of a plane!

March 23, 2015

The action and stunts here all look great, exactly the sort of thing we’ve come to expect from the endless Mission: Impossible franchise. (When I saw the dreadful Mission: Impossible 2 in a theater about 800 years ago, I would have believed that aliens would land in Times Square before any more would be made.) Read more…

In loving memory of the Red Menace – The Avengers #43

March 21, 2015

Avengers Red Guardian

We here in the West have been lacking a superpower boogeyman since the Soviet Union collapsed a quarter of a century ago, a real life ideological threat that always looms, never hits too close to home, and is therefore perfect for serving as an umbrella foil for all levels of fiction. Al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorism have somewhat filled that breach in tragic ways, but their antagonism is all too real. Yes, the Cold War flared through proxies, but those happened oceans away. East vs. West always had a cloak and dagger quality about it which signaled that it was partially a game, something worthy of the machinations of a John le Carre novel. It’s hard to think of 9/11 and ISIS as games. Read more…

Quicksilver speaks in the Avengers: Age of Ultron March Madness commercial!

March 19, 2015

While there’s tons of new footage to be had in this one minute spot, the biggest takeaway is Quicksilver’s snatch of dialogue. (Apparently he, like all other characters in the Whedon-Avengers-Verse, speaks mostly in quips.) Hey, he has an accent, and isn’t random kleptomaniac suburban DC trash. Progress!

Spider-Man squares off against the Legal Eagle, and we’re all left scratching our heads!

March 18, 2015
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Spider-Man and Legal Eagle Hostess ad

There are a lot of things to unpack in this one-page Hostess ad, so let’s dig right in — just like we’d dig right into a Hostess cupcake, amiright?!?! Read more…

Leslie Nielsen, back when he was hiding in the glen with a tail on his hat – Walt Disney’s The Swamp Fox

March 16, 2015

Leslie Nielsen Swamp Fox

I learned the Swamp Fox theme song by heart when I was a kid. There’s nothing remarkable about this in and of itself, as kids memorize any number of TV jingles when they’re growing up. What makes this stand out is that the TV show this one came from departed the airwaves two decades before I was born. If I recall correctly, my father used to jokingly hum the theme when he and I went hiking through the woods around our house, having had it drilled into his memory when he was a kid. So it was passed on, like an heirloom, or a story told around the campfire.

When something as ethereal as this is handed down from generation to generation, you know there was a bit to it. Read more…

Screw the Apple Watch, get yourself a Captain America wrist radio!

March 14, 2015

Spider-Man wrist radio

It’s unclear how a transistor radio fits in with school supplies (really, what scholar is complete without a Thor portfolio tucked under his or her arm?), unless Marvel is encouraging daydreaming and truancy. But who’s to complain? If you were a child of the 1970s you might have been lucky enough to have either a Captain America or Spider-Man transistor radio attached to your wrist, one that could receive AM signals up to 200 yards away from the station. Truly a halcyon age of pixies and rainbows — Apple Watch, eat your heart out.

Trading Card Set of the Week – Spider-Man (2002, Topps)

March 12, 2015

Spider-Man movie cards Topps

That Marvel is getting the Spider-Man movie rights back — or at least the creative direction of said movies — is good news all around. Sony has managed to augur two trilogies into the ground, the second not even getting to the third installment, and some fresh faces in the world of Peter Parker are most welcome. We’ve pretty much run the gamut of every permutation of the Mary Jane/Gwen Stacy romance angles, and it’s about time New York’s spindly, teenage hero found himself in some costumed company.

I’ve made no secret of my indifference/disdain for the Amazing Spider-Man films — the first was mediocre, the second was fairly dreadful — but not that long ago we had a genuine, viable Spider-Man franchise on our hands. One that, wonder of wonders, managed to capture the sunny joy of the wall-crawling world, the bright primary colors that made the original 1960s comic book run such a sensation. Well, at least until we had to suffer through the emo Spider-Man 3. But as Meatloaf taught us, two out of three ain’t bad.

Today we look back at the first Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire Spider-Man, through the medium of its trading cards. But before we dig elbow deep into the cardboard collectible adjunct, a word about the movie itself. Read more…

Trust a correspondence course magician and you take your life in your hands!

March 11, 2015

magician sawing a woman in half

Do we really want a magician who learned his trade through a comic book ad performing the “saw a woman in half” trick? Wouldn’t OSHA want to step in here? Doesn’t this guy bear too close a resemblance to a Snidely Whiplash type villain to trust with such a deed? So many harrowing possibilities!

Gird yourself for a heavy(…) dose of the Kingpin in the new Daredevil trailer!

March 10, 2015

I’m rather indifferent to Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock and his costumed alter-ego. I hope he does well in the role, and hope that he’s able to shoulder the burden that is the first entry in Marvel’s Netflix wing. But the real excitement here, at least from this corner, comes from Vincent D’Onofrio’s turn as the Kingpin. Get your popcorn ready. Read more…

Sunday Stupid: Hone your body, the Turkish Star Wars way!

March 8, 2015

In the annals of blatant foreign rip-offs of hallowed exemplars of American cinema, there’s one that stands above all others: Turkish Star Wars. It’s the dreadful standard by which all dreck is judged. How bad is it? It makes Indian Superman look like Casablanca. That’s terrible, people. Really, really terrible. Read more…

Jack Kirby’s version of Don Rickles roasts us all! – Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #141

March 6, 2015

Don Rickles Jimmy Olsen 141 Kirby

Jack Kirby’s sojourn at DC Comics might not have been an unalloyed blockbuster, but it provided a fertile creative soil that helps populate that fictional universe to this very day. Really, where would DC be without the villain of all villains — Darkseid? We all know that the eventual Justice League movie will have the stone-faced ruler of Apokolips as the big bad, right? Right. Indeed, the entire Fourth World has become one of the cornerstones of Earth-1 and its environs. (The First Lady of Heroines, Big Barda, is alone worth the price of admission.) The New Gods, The Forever People, and Mister Miracle might not have had long debut runs, but their legacies speak for themselves.

Of course, there was also that improbably ancillary Fourth World book: Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen. We all know how Kirby took the reins of DC’s lowest selling book, because why not — you can’t crash a plane that’s already augured into the ground. And Jolly Jack made that former bastion of Silver Age goofiness (Jimmy Olsen, Harvester of Tears! Jimmy Olsen’s TV Show!), well, he made it, how shall we say, interesting. He injected a bit of zaniness into the Man of Steel’s world, which had become a tad staid by this point. Like the rest of Kirby’s DC experiments, it didn’t soar, but it was at least different. Kind of wacky, in a good, charming way.

And nothing was more wacky than when Don Rickles showed up.

Yes, that Don Rickles. Read more…

The Vision is a vision in the new Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer

March 4, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron is just under two months away, for many of us it can’t get here fast enough, and Marvel has bestowed the final trailer upon us to further whet our appetites and whip us into a frenzy. It certainly has more scope than the previous promos, and mercifully ditches the somewhat overdone “There Are No Strings” musical motif. And it even has our first live-action glimpse of the Vision — or at least part of his face. Take what you can get, I guess. Read more…