Andy’s Current Favorites: July 2018

Hello Fans! Back again for another Monday morning worth of good times and great tastes. Yeah, I know that didn’t make a hell of a lot of sense, but it’s what I’ve been conditioned to follow good times with since I was a little kid…AKA Mcdonald’s slogan for the years previous to “I’m loving it”.

“It’s a Good time for the great taste” will always bring my mind back to a simpler time, when I was 6 or 7 years old and getting a Mcdonalds Happy Meal with Chicken Mccnuggets was pretty much the greatest lunch you could give me on a Saturday afternoon following a whole morning of cartoons. Sure, in retrospect, there are reports that Chicken Mcnuggets are probably one of the worst foods you can give a kid so maybe when I say “simpler time” what I really mean is a “that time where ignorance was bliss” and if you were slowly killing yourself with chemically laced non food, then well, at least you were too young to think about it.

All I know is the Mcdonalds Happy Meal guys said it was fine to eat, and damn it I believed them. Plus, remember back when we were kids and they just flat out gave us Pop with our Happy Meals? No, milk or apple slices…just fries, sugar beverages, and a toy.

Maybe that’s what’s apparently wrong with our generation. I say apparently wrong, because it seems as if the only people that really say Gen-X is “wrong” are the Baby Boomers and God knows they have screwed enough things up. Maybe we were given Pop too early as kids, maybe TV ingrained too many catchy slogans, maybe we’ve never really grown up, living slaves to the 80s. Maybe that’s a blog for a later date when I have more time to develop even better arguments.

Regardless, speaking of Mcdonalds, if there’s one thing they are known for, it’s consistency of product, and that’s what I’m trying to emulate with my blog posts, so without further ado, there’s my Big 4 for this month!

 

Current Book I’m Reading:

Superman vs. The Flash by Various Writers/Artists

What I love about these blog segments is that it let’s me talk about some of the books that I’m just casually reading instead of ones I “have” to finish for a formalized read pile review. As a result, they are often more anthologies or other collections of particular runs that might not be “famous” but just put all these sequential issues together in one book, like a Masterwork or Showcase or something.

What I love doubly about this month’s segment is that it lets me throw a bone to all our DC fans out there, without actually having to make me review an entire DC book. Yeah, I’m really not a fan of the DC universe at all, especially books with any of their main superheroes, sans the Batman, which I’ve said on many occasions should be in his own universe.

Still, what I am a fan of is comic history and trying to be as knowledgeable about the topic as I can. So often times I’ll read certain books for no other reason than certain books are “important” from a historical perspective and I would have a hard time considering myself a self respecting comic fan if I didn’t at least read them once.

The Superman/Flash races I feel are some of those kinds of books, in which you might find yourself in a trivia contest or an argument over long boxes at your local comic shop about who exactly is faster, and at least then I can say, I read some of those races and spout off like I’m someone that gives a damn. ‘

As of this article, I’ve actually read the first 3 races included in this collection, and I’m sort of glad I don’t have to give a grade on them, because it wouldn’t be good. I mean, the first race is kinda good in a goofy way what with these evil consortium of criminals are betting on the results and trying all these outlandish ways to slow down either Supes or Flash so they can win the bet, like spraying Kryptonite dust on the road or the a pane of bullet proof glass. Again, silly Superfriends kind of stuff, which isn’t bad mind you if you are in the that mood.

But boy, that second race, that’s just hot garbage. It’s all over the place and way too busy, with the inclusion of the JLA members, confusing villains, and a very convoluted reasoning to have the race in the first place. And then it ends with some BS explanation that depending on how that you saw the first line, you could decide for yourself who actually won, which was whole god damned reason they had the stupid book in the first place! Mr. E. Nelson Bridwell, you tell me who won! Have some balls and step up and finish your story for us, not ask us to do homework.

The third race was actually the best of the bunch as really the race was more of an afterthought to the adventure where in Supes and the Flash had to speed across space to save the universe from the time wrecking Anachronids. That’s the real goal. Stop those bad guys. Flash just mentions that they should race in order to push themselves to be faster, but it’s more like deciding to run with your buddy instead of walk to the gas station because your car ran out of gas on that one road trip.

The race is just a means to an ends, and because it’s not the focus, or forced on you as the reader, it’s actually a very enjoyable little story. Plus, unlike the previous two, the writer, Denny O’ Neil, finally becomes the first to have the guts to name a real winner, as the Flash does reach the goal first. Good old Denny. No wonder this is best of those I’ve read so far, Denny rarely writes junk.

That third story also recharged my batteries a bit in my quest to finish this trade, so we’ll see what the fourth race has in store.

 

Current Favorite Album While Reading Comics:

Dave Matthews Band (Live at Red Rocks)

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This is probably the best DMB live album out on the market, simply because it was the first one they ever released. There’s something kinda awesome about Dave from this era, before he got ultra super big, back when his sound was fresh and new and you just wanted to hear more of it. Red Rocks was such a fantastic album that it started this huge long trend of DMB albums recorded at different live venues such as NYC Central Park, to The Gorge, to Piedmont (which is my brother, Ethan’s, personal favorite) I personally think he just likes saying Piedmont, like it’s just a pleasant word to roll off your tounge.

Of all the songs on there I listen while reading comics the most, it’s gotta be “Seek Up”. I picked this song from about 6 songs I could have put in this spot from this album because I like the lyrics a lot (especially the one about getting a monster to fight your wars for you) and the build up to the chorus is incredible…it’s like 12 minutes…but honestly…it could go on for 12 minutes more.

Honestly, Summertime and Dave Matthews Band. It’s like Peanut Butter and Jelly, folks!

 

Current Favorite Video Game:

The Original Gauntlet

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Gauntlet…wow…what a great game. Red Warrior now has temporary repulsiveness! What other game has a power up in which enemies flee from you because you happen to have bad B.O.

Having a six year old son means that I can rediscover a lot of old video games I loved as a kid, and right now on these hot summer nights, you can find me and Jakob downstairs in the basement, with classic rock on the radio, laying the smackth downth on these armies of ghosts and disappearing wizards on my Arcade cabinet.

I do have a gripe about my current favorite game though. I’m officially convinced that like the original TMNT Arcade game, Gauntlet was truly built to do nothing but be a quarters vacuum, sucking up poor kids money left and right without not a lot of return on investment.

Why is that you ask? Because for 1 quarter you start at like 400 health, and even if you don’t attack anything, your character just starts slowly dying. Life just ticks away and even eating big plates of grub and enormous jugs of dungeon moonshine only delays death for a few more precious seconds. And then comes the waves upon waves of undead hordes and smelly troll junkies smacking you around with their Flintstone Bam Bam clubs. Next thing you know, the strange disembodied voice demands that you need food badly and then seconds later you’re just pushing up the daisies. Hence more quarters, rinse and repeat.

I know dude, from experience. I have this game downstairs on my man cave Arcade cabinet. Unlike Pac-Man, Galaga, or the all mighty Kong which at least give you a fighting chance to survive if you play the game well, Gauntlet throws literally a character called “Death” at you and makes it nigh unstoppable. Well that is until it sucks half your life away forcing you to plug more of that laundry money into its greedy depth.

Now don’t get me wrong. I do love playing Gauntlet. Especially four players, there isn’t a classic game out there that can compare to the experience of shooting someone elses food right before they get it, but still the game could have at least some semblance of skill invovled instead of throwing yourself at the unwashed masses like a human/elf/wizard/swordchick cannonball.

Current Favorite Movie:

Ant-Man & Wasp

Ok, I know. We just did a review of this movie on our last podcast, so you’d think I would have gotten everything I needed to say about this movie out on that show.

Nope. I still got a truck load of afterthoughts! I mean what did you expect from me? That I wouldn’t love this movie?!? I saw the original Ant-Man movie 3 times in the theater. That was one more time than the original Avengers, and I hearted that movie to death. So there was no doubt that I would probably go see AM&W again, which I did, and so now here’s another does of Pym Particle lovin’ coming your way!

On the podcast, I gave the movie a solid B+ and I don’t think my opinion has changed despite now multiple viewings. My issues with it being a light on plot and conflict are the same, and that if it hadn’t been an MCU movie, it probably wouldn’t have been as successful. But luckily it is an MCU and due to the strong characterization, it doesn’t really need more plot than what it has. It’s an incredibly breezy little family film, and I still feel that once this one is released on video, it will one that I’ll watch a lot more than a ton of MCU movies just simply because it doesn’t demand your attention and you could put it on the background while you are cooking or watching the kids or before you take a nap, and not really fuss about what you might miss. They said it was like the “Rom Com” of the MCU, and like most Rom Coms, you can just tune in and out at will. It’s almost like one of my favorite Rom Coms of all time, the Barbra Streisand/Ryan O’Neal, vehicle “What’s up Doc?” especially with the chase around San Francisco at the end.

What I will add though in the second viewing is how much I like Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym in this movie over the first one. He really has an almost Reed Richard’s kind of quality in this, a fatherly inventor whose greatest wish is to take care of his family. Plus once he enters the quantum realm to look for Janet Van Dyne, that explorer aspect really kicks in and he really becomes a blueprint for what they should eventually do with Mr. Fantastic once Marvel and Fox get all those silly right issues out of the way.

Those scenes when he complainants the beauty and fierceness of the Quantum Realm, they are insanely sublime, the kind of ultimate purely scientific wonder and astonishment that we don’t see from Tony Stark or Bruce or anyone else in the MCU thus far. Plus I mean come on, did anyone else notice that the portal to the Quantum Realm looked almost exactly like the doorway that the FF uses to access the Negative Zone in the original Lee/Kirby stories. Yeah, I doubt that wasn’t on purpose.

In fact, the entire movie has a very FF style feel to it in that it focuses so much on families: fathers and daughters, the screw up son in law. It makes you happy to see that despite all the craziness of the MCU at times, there are normal people just trying to have normal relationships.

Speaking of relationships, I thought the Rudd and Lilly relationship was handled much better in this one than the first film, especially from Lilly, who is able to show some true warmth with her character, whether it was playfully prodding Scott when he has the problems with his regulator, or a wife like scolding of him running off to fight in Civil War without her, because she would have kept him safe. And wow, when she dives into the San Francisco Bay to save the unconscious Giant Man and that kiss when she realizes he’s okay, everything is just played with so much real chemistry and emotion that you really do end up loving this couple so much, and want to see them succeed.

Yep, another successful chapter in the blockbuster big screen TV series which is the MCU. Here’s hoping that this movie is successful at the box office as Peyton Reed said they had a couple great ideas that they wanted to explore in a 3rd film if Marvel/Disney gives them the green light. Here’s hoping we see more about Janet Van Dyne’s power set as that could be awesome to see more classic Hank/Janet in action as I love the generational thing they got going on in that we got two power couples both Antmen and Wasps working together to help save humanity. It’s what should happen with legacy characters everywhere in that they are allowed to age, grow, and move on while still helping the younger generation. Hint hint nudge nudge DC comics…

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