Friday, October 28, 2011

How to make a Flash Halloween costume

If I did it when I was seven, you can do it too! Here we go...

1. Get a pair of red sweatpants or pajama bottoms.
2. Get a long sleeve red shirt.
2a. If you can, use a pair of red pajamas, preferably a onesie, but a two-piece can work. If it's got footies, bonus.
2b. No footie pajamas? Locate a pair of yellow rain boots (or just wear your sneakers).
3. Grab some paper, cut out a white circle; color a lightning bolt in yellow--or use yellow paper--cut that out and then glue it on the circle. Use staples, tape, glue, whatever you prefer to adhere the symbol to your chest.
4. The secret weapon: A red swim cap.
5. Cut a domino mask out of red paper and either tuck it in under the cap or cut holes on the sides and run a rubber band or string through to hold it on your face.
6. Take some yellow pipe cleaners you can make little wings out of and stick them behind your ears.
7. Take remaining yellow pipe cleaner and make a "belt" that you can stick by your method of choice to the waist.
8. Voila!

NOTE: I did not make this costume for Halloween, I was just bored.

Be safe out there and have fun!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

90's Animated X-Men: Where are they now?

While I grew up in the Blue and Gold era of the X-Men and tended to follow Adjectiveless mostly because Fabian Nicieza wrote it and Andy Kubert drew it, I never really acknowledged Psylocke as a true member of the team and constantly wondered where Storm, Jean Grey and Jean Grey's ponytail were. Why? Because the core team on the 90's Animated Series were my X-Men.

And while Morph was on that roster for a sec before getting destroyed (can't say killed) to the degree that even Sinister's science couldn't cure the bags under his eyes and Cable guest-starred enough to seem like he was legit, I only truly acknowledge the X-Men who had their own rad name sequences during the theme song montage (including Wolverine in his underwear and Beast reading a book).

That means Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, Rogue, Gambit, Beast, Jubilee, Jean Grey (no code name) and Professor X with blue lines radiating out of his head.

With the X-Men getting a new line-up and because I was feeling a bit nostalgic, I figured I'd do a quick visual check-in on the gang...

Dammit, Cyclops! Why can't you get along with anybody/keep your pants on/prevent Jubilee from becoming a vampire?!

Oh well, at least he and Storm are still getting along...

Also, here's Gambit

Things will be fine if you guys just support each other...

...right, Morph?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Five Comics Worth Reading - October 2011

When Duane Swierczynski was announced as the new writer of Birds of Prey and the direction of the book in the re-launched New 52 line-up became clear, it was one of those “duh” moments for me, a creator-title-mission pairing that seemed so obvious and tailor-made. Two issues in, I think Swierczynski is not only fulfilling the lofty expectations I had for him on this series, but it’s a success story of DC’s attempt to infuse their line with more than just super hero material, as this is an espionage thriller infused with just the right dash of spandex and illustrated with nice detail by Jesus Saiz. The Black Canary seen here is one whose portrayal respects all the work done on the character by everybody from Mike Grell to Gail Simone, but also seems to have evolved to the next level as a capable leader possessed of the human compassion we expect but not consumed with proving herself. Swierczynski is doing a nice job revealing one member of the team an issue, giving them a nice bit of spotlight and allowing the cast to build organically; both the outgoing starling and dark Katana provide contrast to the grounded Canary and I look forward to seeing what Poison Ivy adds to the mix. Saiz does great work here as his women are beautiful in a way that’s natural rather than bombastic and he draws nice action. The driving mystery/conspiracy thus far is one that grabs me and I’m not entirely sure where it’s going—a good thing—but the dynamic between characters is what has really sold me, and I’ll eagerly follow that from arc to arc.

I recently got a collection of the original Deadman stories by Arnold Drake, Carmine Infantino and Neal Adams from Rickey and took a shine to them even more than I expected. I enjoyed the metaphysical exploration angle and of course the great art, but more than that, I could latch onto the character of Boston Brand as a rough and tumble imperfect guy different from most DC heroes struggling to find his place in the greater tapestry of the universe more so than really serving justice for the sake of or trying to avenge a wrong. The initial stories by Paul Jenkins and Bernard Chang in this title hearken back to that material and have Deadman challenging the “natural” order of things and searching for answers in a way that holds my attention. Jenkins does a nice job balancing Boston’s personal quest both to resolve his situation and at the same time challenge the inconsistencies he’s discovering while also presenting “cases” and examining a broader view of DC’s mystical landscape. There’s a nice mix of fun and gags as well as action and mystery, but I’m most enjoying the character work; I grew up with a wry Deadman who only showed up to guide other characters on journeys, but I really like this more desperate incarnation who doesn’t have all the answers and distrusts even the ones he’s got.

I have no familiarity with the John Carter mythology whatsoever, but this series has me wanting to dive into it, however it’s also a fun story on its own that I need no context to enjoy—what more could you ask for? As he showed on Thor: The Mighty Avenger and even with his Muppets work, Roger Langridge is great at taking fantastic elements as well as generally weird stuff and making them seem like the natural backdrop to a fun story rather than overwhelming set pieces that distract and detract from the narrative. Here we’ve got a human trapped on Mars, surrounded by crazy looking aliens, plunged into the middle of some sort of war, and smitten with an alien princess, but that’s all just window dressing for a hitting on primal themes like the stranger in a strange land, missing home, the inherent unfairness of class struggle, and of course the unlikely love story. Carter is a great everyman, at times charming and wry, but also way out of his depth, overwhelmed by the enormity of his situation, and prone to emotional overreaction that leads to those around him paying the price. Langridge takes care to introduce the world slowly, taking us on tour with Carter through a personal space that gradually expands from his room to the city to the battlefield to all of Mars. Though Dejah Thoris has really only just been introduced, again, Langridge plays her with the right amount of mystery, spirit and standoffishness that we can understand why Carter feels an instant attraction. Filipe Andrade’s art is so unique and suits this story perfectly as it’s bizarre enough to make things around Carter seem truly alien, but there’s an inherent beauty that shines through in everything from the characters to the buildings to even the monstrous creatures.

The idea of Peter Parker’s teenage bully/Spider-Man’s number one fan Flash Thompson, grown up to be a decorated military man who lost his legs, becoming a black ops government-sponsored incarnation of Venom is one of those ideas that sounds pretty awesome on paper as a high concept, but you wonder if it can sustain beyond the initial story; Rick Remender’s answer to any doubt on that score has been a resounding “heck yeah” that nearly a year in I both agree with and don’t see changing any time soon. Rick and his array of artists have delivered on the promise of Flash being a neat choice for a hero role as well as the slam dunk prospect of the Venom symbiote with military/secret agent applications, but more than that, they’ve created a series with tremendous heart and depth. Flash Thompson had come a long way from one-dimensional jock jerk way before Remender got his hands on him, but as Venom, he’s quickly becoming one of the most compelling protagonists at Marvel and in comics. Here’s a guy who has spent all his life wanting to be a hero, did everything by the book to get there, suffered tremendous loss and then when he was finally offered what he figured would be his big change, it came with the caveat that he’s not so much the champion on the front lines, but the monster necessary to do the dirty work (that he wanted to be called Spider-Man but had to take the name Venom instead because it strikes more fear and thus fits his mission better says it all). Here’s a guy who has struggled with addiction and now has been thrown into another form of it where “going sober” not only dashes his dreams, it hinders his ability to save lives; it’s a pretty intense inversion of the usual “addict story.” The issues of Venom tying into the Spider-Island event provide a perfect glimpse at how the book excels on multiple levels: tremendous all out action with Venom against Anti-Venom and The Queen, but at the same time a very human story of Flash Thompson racing to the bedside of his dying father and struggling to forgive a man who let him down so many times. This series is working on so many levels and exceeding expectations.

Sometimes lost amidst the shuffle of Schism and Regenesis and whatnot, Victor Gischler’s adjectiveless X-Men book is telling fun, action-packed stories with great guest stars, cool character pairings, and nice Easter eggs plucked from the vast scope of Marvel history. The most recent storyline that took the X-Men and Future Foundation into a lost world amidst the Bermuda Triangle to tangle with extra-dimensional invaders was a great example of what Gischler and this series do so well. First off, the story traded on old continuity with vintage X-Men supporting character Lee Forrester serving as the motivator to get jumpstart the action, and Gischler did a nice job cluing newcomers in that she was an old girlfriend of Cyclops and Magneto without making the point crucial to the plot, just a nice little side dynamic. Next, Gischler gives service to both the character dynamics you were waiting to see explored—Doom and Magneto feel each other out as “good guys”—as well as perhaps those you didn’t know you wanted to get a look at, but they’re worth one—I’m thinking of Emma Frost getting under the skin of perpetually polite Sue Richards with lines like “You’re lucky no women are interested in Reed.” Throw in a forgotten guest star like Skull the Slayer, include some requisite twists and questions of loyalty, build to some solid fights and then have Jorge Molina draw the heck out of it all. X-Men may not always be in the thick of things as far as the big continuity shake-ups, but I like that, and I enjoy the service it provides greatly.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Paragraph Movie Reviews: Footloose (2011)

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

Hey, no fooling, this is quite a good movie! It's not anything heavy, it will unlikely be an all-time classic, but it's fun and accomplishes that rare remake feat of paying tribute to and respecting the original work while distinguishing itself and even improving in some areas in a way that doesn't come off heavy handed. The primary strength of Footloose v2.0 is that Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough as Ren and Ariel have enough swagger and charisma to light up a small city (if technology allowed such a thing). Their chemistry is great; it may even surpass that of Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer from the original. I'd definitely argue that Hough tops Singer on her own as Ariel, approaching the character and her inner turmoil with superior ease, making the 2011 incarnation more believable and multi-dimensional than her 1984 counterpart. It's not really fair to stack Wormald against Bacon in one of the latter's signature roles, but the newcomer does fine in just about every respect (his angry dance, while technically excellent, falls short of the original, but that's near cinematic perfection), bringing where needed an even rougher edge to Ren that brings him into the 21st century nicely. It is a little tougher, admittedly, to accept the whole "kids died in a car accident clearly because of alcohol so we're going to ban dancing" premise without the benefit of being able to wave it off as 80's foolishness, and attempts to justify it don't hold up too well, but they make up for that by including scenes to flesh out the characters and their relationships I wish were in the original, most notably the pre-prom pow wow between Ren and Reverend Moore. Unfortunately, the one performer I'd say fell a bit flat was Dennis Quaid as Moore; John Lithgow was one of the pillars of the first film, bringing an ambiguity and conflict to Moore that Quaid can't seem to latch onto, instead just settling into brow-furrowed concern and disapproval. The rest of the supporting cast is top notch though, from Miles Teller admirably filling the late Chris Penn's comic relief shoes as Willard to Ray McKinnon stepping up as Ren's uncle in a role greatly expanded from the original to provide a father figure who fits in nicely. Indeed this movie seemed to excel at knowing when to follow its predecessor line-for-line, when to veer off to the extreme, and when to toss a wink but then still do something different; kudos to Craig Brewerfor treading that line. One more weakness I'd chalk up would be that pretty much every cover of a song from the original was inferior, but Wormald, Hough and company make up for that by bringing the intensity when it's time to dance. I'd be curious how somebody who has never seen the first Footloose would come to this movie, as I clearly spent a lot of time comparing the two, but obviously I dug it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Art Attack: January 2012's Coolest Covers

-When I was a little kid and saw The Little Mermaid, my mother, an artist herself, sat next to me and pointed out during the first scene where people were swimming how an animator had illustrate every single bubble around the figures and every movement; it was a moment I'll always remember as when I truly came to respect people who create visual art and how much work the smallest details are. Anyways, Ivan Reis' Aquaman cover here reminds me of that moment, and certainly that is meant as a high compliment.

-I'm not sure of the story in Greg Pak and Mike McKone's first arc on Astonishing X-Men, but Agent_M and I like to imagine it is set in prospecting times where Wolverine has a handlebar mustache and golden claws. Action figure, please.

-That Avengers cover by Daniel Acuna is one of the most striking images of Storm I've seen in some time, and that covers impressive ground.

-Clayton Crain's cover for Carnage U.S.A. and Art Adams' sea monsters from Fear Itself: The Fearless are going to combine to give me nightmares.

-I love how Ryan Sook is experimenting with persepctive and the sense of reality in his DC Universe Presents cover work. It's the right character for it and the results have been great.

-As awesome as Skottie Young's cover to John Carter: A Princess of Mars is, I also need to give a quick shout out to the comic itself, something I'll need to expand on soon.

-Amanda Conner draws fun stuff.

-That Six Guns cover by Butch Guice is not just rad, it's so different than anything he's done lately or maybe ever. How did he do that?

-Kaare Andrews' cover to Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #6 isn't just pretty, it's well-constructed; it presents not only the character in action, but demonstrates his powers, gives a nod to the guy behind the mask and conveys his demeanor in just his facial expression.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #677 by Lee Bermejo
AQUAMAN #5 by Ivan Reis
ASTONISHING X-MEN #46 by Mike McKone
AVENGERS #21 by Daniel Acuna
BATMAN AND ROBIN #5 by Patrick Gleason
BATWOMAN #5 by J.H. Williams III
CARNAGE U.S.A. #2 by Clayton Crain
CHEW #25 by Rob Guillory
DAREDEVIL #8 by Paolo Rivera
iZOMBIE #21 by Mike Allred
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #633 by Stephanie Hans
MAGNETO: NOT A HERO #3 by Clay Mann
PIGS #5 by Dave Gibbons
SCARLET #7 by Alex Maleev
SIX GUNS #4 by Butch Guice
SWAMP THING #5 by Yanick Paquette
VICTOR VON DOOM #3 by Sebastian Fiumara
X-FACTOR #230 by David Yardin

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Still tired...

Some days it's like you're Adam-X fighting the Juggernaut, gang.

Working hard at the day job, hoping to be back to night writing (that sounds awesome) soon as well.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Survived New York Comic Con, I'm Exhausted

It was an awesome show, but a long, long show. Posting may take longer to resume than normal as a result.

As always, please enjoy this picture of Adam-X the X-Treme in the mean time.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Tomorrow kicks off the 2011 edition of the New York Comic Con, and while it will shut down this blog for a bit, you can find us Cool Kids across the board covering the action and doing what we do.

I'll be reprising my role from San Diego Comic-Con as Ryan "Agent_M" Penagos and I host Marvel Live from the start of the show all the way to the end. We'll have dozens of great guests from comics, movies, video games and more, so tune in here.

Kiel will be decked out in his Sunday best filing news and video reports for Comic Book Resources and you can follow his adventures as well as all the latest headlines there.

Finally, Kevin and Rickey will be manning the DC Comics booth, shaking hands, kissing babies, signing autographs and educating fans on what's up with the New 52 and more, so stop by and say hey!

We'll "see" you guys back here next week, but hopefully we'll see some of you at the show! Have fun!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My first comic book crush

I can already sense this is going to be an embarrassing entry I will probably regret; I do this for you.

When boys begin to come of age and feel that rumbling in their loins—I swear you have not clicked on the wrong in all sense of the world blog, bear with me—as girls stop being gross and start being terrifying, they often become timid around the young ladies their own age who spurn their advances—seriously, you guys were the worst—and find comfort by crushing on figures of womanhood out of their league for whatever reason. Perhaps they’re older, perhaps they’re famous or perhaps they’re even fictional; that’s totally normal, right?


Well, I guess we’re going down this road now, might as well continue, for better or for worse (I originally wrote “far worse” in a revealing Freudian slip).

I thought real girls were cute, but as a comic book fan around the tender age of nine or so, of course no woman could compare to the flawless four color beauties whose adventures I followed (or more accurately they could but wouldn’t talk to me). Since New Warriors was my favorite comic, ergo the lovely aquatic princess Namorita was my first comic book crush.

If you’re looking to shrink my childhood head at all as far as what I was looking for in a woman—or at least an unrealistic and implausible crush—I liked that Nita was bold, outspoken and aggressive with a sharp wit and cutting sense of humor. If she had an opinion, she expressed it with words or fists where Firestar might have held her tongue. Her physical power carried over into an emotional strength that manifested in a deep bond with her cousin, Namor, passionate defense for the environment, and a willingness to stand up and by her friends and teammates without question.

Perhaps it also says something about me that I preferred the girl who wasn’t shy about pursuing what she wanted romantically, but also demanded to be pursued herself in return. Yeah, the love of Namorita’s comic book life happens to be Nova, a character of whom I am somewhat fond, but I swear that’s kinda a coincidence (sorta). When I started reading the book, they would flirt now and again, but it never seemed like it was going anywhere serious. Marvel Boy and Firestar were the alpha couple of the book, the “too cute” made for each other fairytale love story; Night Thrasher and Silhouette were number two because they had an intense history and thus deep bond. Nova and Namorita were just the attractive singles who were never going to settle down with anybody, let alone one another.

But as ever, Fabian Nicieza wrote a great story when it came to Nova and Nita’s romance. They were both too strong to admit they needed each other and both suffered before they could get to a place where that admission came; and then once they did express their true feelings circumstances conspired to keep them apart.

Oh, and speaking of those circumstances, certainly it was mildly—MILDLY—traumatic for me when they decided to transform Namorita into the blue-skinned, web-footed Kymaera, seemingly in an effort to impart on young Ben the lesson that beauty is skin deep, yada yada yada. Hey, the bulk of my childhood crush came from the fact that Namorita was saucy, smart and a bit sarcastic, but I’d be lying if I said the fact that Mark Bagley and Darick Robertson knew how to draw a sexy blond in a green bikini didn’t help.

I’m making it worse; time to bring this home.

As I grew and my interest in comics waxed, waned, and returned stronger than ever, I of course discovered an ability to connect with real girls along the way, and it was eventually time to leave childhood crushes on made-up mermaids behind. Did that young infatuation inform my future relationships? Maybe? I’ve definitely always been drawn to women who speak their mind and generally have a wicked sense of humor. By the same token, I’ve never been seriously involved with a blond or anybody who counts swimming among their most frequent hobbies.

Of course the girl I married had dyed blond hair when I met her and was on her junior high swim team but is now a brunette who rarely goes in the water, perhaps a commentary on my childhood fantasy blossoming into the woman I would fall in love with.

Or maybe my wife is just awesome. Besides, she has her own comic book character.

Hopefully this blog post made you as uncomfortable as it made me.