Saturday, June 12, 2010

From now on...

Whenever you see an article pondering the "dark" and "gritty" aspects of Batman, I want for you to think of this picture:

found at Pop Culture Safari

Lois Lane gets Bronzed, All-New Aqualad

Lois Lane Statue

The annual Superman Celebration is happening this weekend in Metropolis, Illinois. Its the 32nd such celebration in the town, and, once again, I'm not there.

Miss Neil with George Reeves from "The Adventures of Superman"

This year Metropolis revealed their new Lois Lane statue, based upon the likeness of the lovely Noel Neill, who played Lois in the original Superman movie serials featuring Kirk Alyn as Superman. In season 2, she replaced Phyllis Coates as Lois on the television program The Adventures of Superman. Neill also cameo'd in Superman: The Movie as the mother of a very young Lois, then as Gertrude Vanderworth in Superman Returns.

Miss Neill and her amazing hat consult with Kirk Alyn

Miss Neil has, in general, been a part of the Superman media train since the very beginning. In recent years she's participated in Metropolis's Superman Celebration, where she has been dubbed "The First Lady of Metropolis".

Metropolis already features a 15-foot statue of Superman at the town center. Now, it features a slightly-larger-than-life-size statue of Lois Lane!

For far more photos and a report, visit The Superman Homepage!

All New Aqualad

In the comics, I don't think there's been an Aqualad since the 90's when the character grew up and changed his name to "Tempest" and got a Mike Tyson facial tattoo.

Well, I have a hard time keeping track, but I think Garth/ Aqualad/ Tempest is dead as of Final Crisis. But DC hates a vacuum, and so we're getting an all new Aqualad.

here is the new kid, apparently giving "Deadman" a hard time in the desert. No, I have no idea what is happening here.

I guess if I am excited, its because DC is demonstrating an ability to rebuild its best known characters and then create franchises around those characters. From Johns' Green Lantern, we will have three GL titles by the end of summer. Superman will have, technically, six titles going these days (Superman, Action, Supergirl, Legion, Adventure and the coming Superboy title). I have little doubt that DC will also build a Kid Flash title for Bart Allen and some other Flash title for either Jay Garrick or the West family. And the great thing is: it really feels fairly organic and handled well through story.

I've never taken well to anyone's re-imagining of Aquaman as so many writers couldn't just live with the main conceit of the character. I didn't get why giving him a harpoon arm or a magical water hand or whatever... was supposed to help draw my interest as a reader, but it seems Brightest Day will get Arthur back to basics, complete with a sidekick.

Another note: this same Aqualad will appear in the upcoming cartoon "Young Justice". Someone at DC Entertainment finally got organized.

At the Paramount: Giant, Taking of Pelham 1-2-3

I am likely flying solo to see "Giant" tomorrow (Sunday) at the Paramount at 2:00. So if anyone is looking for a hot date with yours truly, let me know.

On Monday, we're joining SimonUK (aka: The Si) to see "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3". This is the original, not the recent remake with Travolta and Denzel Washington.

So, Austinites, join us at The Paramount for stuff that is not "The A-Team".

Friday, June 11, 2010

BP Oil Spill: How You Can Help

Hey, Signal Corps. My home state has a whole lot of coast line on the Gulf of Mexico. All of us here on the Gulf are watching the recovery efforts from BP, the Coast Guard and volunteers with no small amount of anxiety.

But how can we help?

Gizmodo tells how.

Weekly Watch Wind: 06/11/2010

Superman/ Sports/ Shoes: Some of you may follow pro basketball. I quit following the NBA around the time I moved back to Austin and had better things to do than spend every night watching the Suns trudge their way to losing to the Lakers or Spurs in the playoffs.

However, it seems this fellow, Dwight Howard, is quite the popular player, and he's associated himself with Superman. Well, Howard also has a contract with Adidas, and now Adidas will be creating Dwight Howard/ Superman apparel, including shoes. Which, God willing, will be available in a size 14.

Read more here.

Achewood/ iPhone: Art imitates life when it comes to iNutz.

Dayman/ Fighter of the Nightman: Hey, one of my favorite shows, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, is now showing on Comedy Central. Not kid friendly, btw.

Re-runs of Sweet Dee is still Sweet Dee.

DCU/ Movies: Green Lantern 2 already GREEN LIT? Green. Lit. Ha. Also, maybe we're getting a Flash movie! here.

Marvel/ Digital Comics: Marvel announced a simultaneous release of an Iron Man comic in both digital and print formats. In the past, Marvel has delayed digital release of print material. Oddly, Marvel is charging more for their digital copy than a physical copy.

As an experiment, charging more for an item that has no physical presence is a non-starter. I have to assume Marvel is perfectly aware of what would happen were this issue to be released at the same cost, and so is kowtowing a bit to retailers and trying not to enrage their primary source of income. Frankly, I don't like what this says about the state of the Big 2 and digital strategy.

Superman/ Comics: An excellent piece on Superman and his place within the DC Universe.

I've recently alluded to a similar take. I sense a trend. Perhaps Matt Idleson can use this groundswell in a storyline? Maybe JMS already has it planned?

Superman/ Apple/ Cult of Steve Jobs:

It's a little conceptual, but if you've seen Superman: The Movie and follow Apple in the news, its pretty good stuff.

Watch the video here. Sorry, the embed code is freaking out on me.

found by Randy!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Big 12 Shake-Up/ Shake-Down

I knew eventually I would need to start talking about Longhorn football, but I am a bit amazed/ down that my first post on football will discuss the much discussed (in Texas, anyway) goings on with the Big 12 conference. Honestly, I planned on my first post on sports to be about World Cup soccer (or as our friends from across the sea call it "football", but they are wrong).

Sports talk radio, non-stop-ESPN, etc... aren't so much my thing, so if the rumblings of the fall of the Big 12 were building, I had no idea. I'd been checking college baseball scores to see how Big 12 teams were doing, but otherwise tuning out.

For those of you catching up, my alma mater is home to The University of Texas Longhorns, who were the #2 football team and volleyball team in 2009, and won some unbelievable number of baseball games this year (I'm hoping they place first in the College World Series). Both our men's and women's basketball team made it to the tournament, etc...

The Longhorns belong to the Big 12, which is a fairly respectable and competitive conference. While I enjoy the rivalries, I actually wind up watching a lot of Big 12 football, from all the schools.

The Big 12 had a not-great contract with media outlets, but the schools had large and loyal fanbases, and college sports, particularly football, are big money. So, conferences The Big 10 and the Pac-10 have been trying to meet with Big 12 schools to try to move them over with their superior contracts.

Read more about this thing here.

Anyway, I'm a little bummed that (a) the Big 12 may be no more by the end of next week, and (b) the extra revenue could disrupt traditional and regional play.

I understand the schools supposedly make money from shaking things up and say, a few schools joining the PAC 10, but... this is the Pac 10 we're talking about. I'm a romantic and an optimist in some ways, and so I like to think that regional relations make a difference in these cases. Joining the Pac 10 just seems so... calculated. It's like the rich, dopey kids asking if you want to hang out because they know you've got a new Sega Dreamcast, not because you've been hanging out for the past 100 years (sorry, Oregon and Oregon State. You guys are cool. Why do you hang out with those jerks, anyway? You're better than that.). So what happens when the DreamCast gets outed by the XBox?

Sure, there are some logistical issues and budgetary issues for sports that draw in smaller audiences, but I tend to think that the Texas/ Oklahoma powerhouse is big enough to work with the region and get a better contract.

Further, the biggest d-bag of them all, USC, just pulled an SMU and is totally dealing with his comeuppance. Dad just took away the entitled little twerp's Porsche keys. But, hey, if we notice that we had friends in our own backyard all along....

For the Texas and Oklahoma schools, its not such a big deal that Colorado has split off, and Nebraska seems ready to go, too (whatsamatta, Nebraska? Texas and Oklahoma too much for you?). But its hard to imagine football in the fall without the UT, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and other rivalries playing out as part of conference play. The thing is, by coming into other conferences, any of those schools could be peeled off. Already, Baylor is basically being told not to count on being a part of whatever happens. And that's a little sad.

So, if the Big 12 is croaking, here's my proposal for the Nu Southwest Conference (going classic, baby):

01. University of Texas
02. Texas A&M
03. Texas Tech
04. Oklahoma
05. Oklahoma State
06. Baylor (yes. Baylor. On principle.)
07. Texas Christian University (because those guys got good)
08. Kansas
09. Kansas State
10. Nebraska (fungible with any other corn-fed bunch of punching bags)
11. Missouri
12. University of Houston

That's right. U of H. Woot!

What do you guys think, because I think I just came up with a scheme that would make us all rich.

10 Things I Should Not Admit To

The Signal Watch is rife with admissions that may surprise people. I own no less than 2 capes of my own, and the dogs have their own capes. I have a collection of no less than 35 Batmobile toys. I have watched more "Sex and the City" than I ought. But, hey, if we're all going to get to know each other better here, then I think revealing some ugly truths about myself will help set some standards.

1) Yes, I am likely hiding your profile on Facebook.

2) I actually find a lot of those beer commercials where the guy has a misplaced love for beer over all else kind of funny, especially the first ten times or so. Less so by the 8th week of the football season.

3) I find "Flo" from the Progressive commercials oddly foxy

4) I have the best of intentions when NTT recommends a book, but I immediately forget to actually find and read the books he recommends.

5) Three years ago I bought the entire run of the DC series "Steel" in one shot for a 1/3rd of the cover price. But I've never read it. It's still in the plastic.

6) Sometimes, when nobody is looking, I watch reruns of "The Nanny".

7) Despite my professed interest in the dumb, I am always surprised when people assume I will go see a movie like "GI Joe" or "The A-Team" just because somebody made it. I have no clear definition of what constitutes a film or idea being so bad it passes to the awesome, but those won't meet that standard without box office failure and with 5-10 years of age behind them.

8) The "Death of Superman" storyline, probably the most famous Superman storyline, is not very good.

9) It is likely that the "One More Day" storyline in Spider-Man had more to do with my loss of interest in Marvel comics than I care to admit. And my overreaction is exactly the sort of bratty, fanboyish behavior I usually find boorish.

10) I quietly judge you by your musical tastes, because the stuff you like is awful.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

On: Scott Pilgrim

Well, when the first trailer hit, I got a few queries from Leaguers asking if I was psyched for the release of the upcoming movie Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

You may see the trailer here (until it is ganked):

A few years back I picked up the Scott Pilgrim comics for Jamie, and she liked them, so when I heard a movie was being released, I figured "I should probably see what the buzz is about". On the comics internets, Scott Pilgrim is an incredibly popular commodity. People love Scott Pilgrim, and my hat is off to Bryan Lee O'Malley for quietly creating a minor phenomenon.

To be truthful: This is one of those things, I realized about fifteen pages in, that is not aimed at me.

The art is a sort of post-manga-influence-on-North-America, employing some of the manga stylistic shorthand, etc... But O'Malley's characters are a bit Smurf-like, in that I had sort of a hard time telling which character was which whenever the scenes shifted and I had to figure out which character was which all over again (and the story is rife with crowd scenes). I don't need illustrative art, but I don't want to have to work to identify the characters in every panel.

the comics themselves are b&w, so it makes it a bit more of a chore.

I can't say who the book is aimed at, but I know its not likely me. I didn't find his titular character's foibles particularly amusing or adorable, and I was never clear on why I was supposed to give a @#$% about Ramona and why she's supposedly worth all the trouble. In fact, the story sort of suggests that she isn't worth it (to my reading), but Scott isn't quite clever enough to figure that out.

The comic does have a lot of clever stuff, and a lot of it will surely be visual candy to the filmmakers. I also think a seasoned screen writer stands a chance to more clearly make arguments for our protagonists that the comics fail to make.

We'll see what changes are made, and if director has managed to punch up what felt occasionally clunky or senseless in the comics (and, no, I am not talking about the wacky video game references). I have faith that Michael Cera will improve on O'Malley's character by roughly 200%, or at least not make me want to bop him over the head quite so much.

And, honestly, I was having some issues with the concept of "ownership" of Ramona, and how, while fairly clever, it all seemed sort of written from a kind of oddly unself-aware and immature perspective, even when trying to make the case that the quest for Ramona was sort of the quest to find romantic maturity. Or something. I don't know. The final volume hasn't been released quite yet.

Mostly, I'm both surprised and not that surprised that this series has been so heavily championed online. Its definitely got its clever bits, but I suspect yours truly would likely be cast as one of the villains (not an evil ex-Boyfriend) of the book.

Birdemic Returns to the Alamo!!!! - Cinema Series?

Austinites have two more opportunities to see Birdemic on the big screen (where it truly belongs!). The film is coming back to The Alamo!

June 16 at 10:30 pm
July 7 at 7:00 pm

Signal Corps, I am proposing a July 7, 7:00 pm screening.

You now have a full month to prepare yourself (if one can truly prepare) for BIRDEMIC!!!! Bring a coathanger, a check for one million dollars and a gun.

Cinema Series: GIANT at the Paramount

come back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean.

I have never seen the classic film "Giant", but if I'm going to watch it, what say you join me on Sunday, June 20th for four hours of epic Texas awesomeness? And a young Elizabeth Taylor, when that was a good idea.

Giant is showing at the Paramount Theatre on June 20th at 2:00 PM. Be there, or be square.

Executive Decision: We're Moving from Floppies to Trades

So, this last week, I made a decision.

By the end of 2010, I'm making a massive shift to the practice of "waiting for the trade". This means that of the DC and Boom! comics I buy, I'm now going to shift the vast majority of my purchases to buying the books collecting 4-6 issues (or more) at a time.

I'll be continuing to buy Superman and Flash comics as single issues at DC, and I'll pick up some issues of other series, such as Oni's "The Sixth Gun" as single issues. I'll also be picking up some other series I want to check out as they roll out from non-Big Two publishers, but I'm going to be reducing the number of floppies I'd normally pick up, while cutting out other series altogether.

And, no doubt, some of the series I picked up that I suspect I was just picking up out of habit... I have no doubt I'll drop.

Perhaps ironically, I'm making the decision at a time when DC is making efforts to keep me heading to the store every week. Interlocking series I'm supposed to read in the chronological order in which they're released (Ex: Blackest Night), and a focus on weekly release of series with a heavy social media push to make sure you're paying attention should have kept me heading to the store.

Certainly the cost if a factor. Trades are usually cheaper. But I can actually pull them off the shelf and re-read them, which is not something I can say for comics after I've bagged and boarded them. Also, it keeps me slightly separated from the crazy cycle of having to follow Previews and trying to guess if I'll like something, and reading reviews after I've already read the comic (we all got the comic on Wednesday, after all).

I can only suspect it will be a bit odd for me as this decision will mean I'm ending several collections, including a fairly impressive Batman collection( which i plan to do once Morrison leaves the character). I've got an unbroken collection of both Batman and Detective that's got to be 10 years long, but arcs back to around 1985 and earlier. Green Lantern and Wonder Woman seem like smart choices for converting to trade as my collections are fairly modest.

Probably the part I'll like least is that I do pick up single issues of comics just to check them out, and to see if I want to jump into or out of a series (this was how I got into "Birds of Prey" very late and "Wonder Woman" around 1999 or so). But at $3.00 - $4.00 a pop, my willingness to check out a title from an unknown writer has greatly diminished, anyway. Sorry, publishers, its true.

I'm hoping that this means my budget loosens up and I can look at more stuff outside of DC Comics, and do a bit of expansion on my Superman collection. We'll see what happens, I suppose. All I know is, its going to mean fewer long boxes and more shelf space, which doesn't help Jamie out at all.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Batman Musical Tribute

This was found at the superlative Pop Culture Safari.

For some reason its a musical tribute to the Batman TV show. If you weren't there, for some reason TV in the 1970's was full of lots of elaborate song and dance numbers. I blame Donny & Marie.

Its worth it to make it to the end to hear:

"up next: John Denver salutes Jacque Cousteau!"

there was something brilliantly weird about late 70's TV.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

In Brightest Knight! - Adam West/ Batman/ Paramount Theater

edit: You can read Steanso's post on this same outing with pics of the stage w/ West and Troubles and myself in the balcony

So this afternoon I attended a screening of "Batman", the film made with the same cast, props, effects, etc... as the famous Adam West starring TV series. If you ever remember seeing Batman's BatBoat, or Bat Shark Repellent or Batman running around with a lit bomb, desperately looking for a place to rid himself of the bomb (my favorite scene in the movie)... that's "Batman", or as some in the know call it "Batman 1966".

I grew up on Batman. I talked a bit about my history with the character way, way back in 2005 at the release of "Batman Begins".

Family lore has it that Mr. West's version of Batman aired in syndication each evening around dinner time, and as I was a restless baby, The Karebear figured out that this was the only thing I'd sit for while she tried to cook up some dinner. Further, the family lore states, my first word was "Batman". And, hell, it may be my last. And it's no less likely I'll be running around in a cape and diaper singing the theme song to Batman then.

Our Signal Corps Cinema Event was attended by myself, Troubles, Steanso, Julia P. and her beau, Bill B.

Adam West, Himself, was in attendance. The first thing you need to know about Adam West is that he is COOL. Like, Joe Cool-cool. He had on what looked to be a linen suit, he's still got that voice, and he seems to genuinely love that he gets to meet his fans. He's very witty, and he appreciates that folks appreciate his work.

I have no idea how many seats are at Austin's Paramount Theater, but its hundreds and hundreds, and the place seemed to be 95% sold out. Not bad for a movie that debuted in 1966, at that very same theater with all of the stars in attendance (Mr. West told a story that Burgess Meredith had his wife fly him in in her own plane so he upstaged their airport press conference).

The theater was full of all ages, from four years old to the elderly and everywhere in between. Austin Books made an appearance and showed up with a table full of Batman memorabilia and merchandise. Further, as the screening was part of Austin's bat-celebrating "Night of the Bat", Bat Conservation International was there with our local friends, the Mexican Freetailed Bat (it's a tiny, adorable bat that eats our local bugs) and an African fruit bat of some sort (that was inverted, very large and very, very cute).

Seriously, Austin loves bats.

Mr. West is philosophical about his role in the weird, wacky pop culture world around the character and icon of Batman. He seems to understand that Batman is bigger than anyone, or even any one concept of Batman and talked about how he thought the new movies were cool, but that was the Dark Knight. He was very happy being recognized as The Bright Knight, and I think that was a very popular sentiment with the crowd.

My preferred seats at the Paramount are in the balcony, so I did not get anywhere close to Mr. West, which is too bad. But the film print they had was awesome, the sound was better than I remember from the last time I was there, and the crowd was very, very into the movie (including the kids!).

Outside of the theater, I stumbled upon an amazing sight:

In my collection, I have roughly 35 Batmobile toys. 3 of them are this car.

I was, needless to say, delighted.

As a quick note: I am a Batman fan. I am crazy for Superman, but there's no doubting my Bat-fandom. But I honestly think I'm as much a fan of the Batmobile and its many crazy different incarnations as I am of, say, Robin. Or Alfred. Anyway, its weird to be a fan of a fictional car, but it all started with the TV show Batmobile, so seeing the car up close (yes, it was a reproduction, but a stellar reproduction) was sort of a thing for me.

I got off my posed shot. Pretty sharp.

But then I noticed that Batman had wandered off...

I only drove it around the block, like, three times (not really)

I must be a good 5 inches taller than anyone they ever expected to drive that car.

My buddy Batman poses for a shot with yours truly (that guy's costume was awesome)

Why, yes, Catwoman. I will swing by and take you out for a lovely dinner of Fancy Feast and dead mice.

The car was a reproduction created and charactered by Cy Productions. It was AMAZING.

Anyway, a terrifically fun day.