Andy’s Current Favorites: March 2019
Today’s post was requested by my brother, Ethan, when he said: “I gotta see more some Japanese Manga on these things. I thought we turned a corner a month ago when we did Battle Angel Alita”.
So in response to that, I decided to find what I feel is the epitome of why I’m not a bigger fan of manga, and why it still doesn’t appear in my blogs as much as it should. There I give you the “twisted as all hell” world of the…
- The Sleeveless Backpacked Spiderman…
- The Clunky Soundwave style Iron Man…
- The Ratty Frizzed out Firestar...type…ummm…person. Is that Firestar?!? Is she “unleashing da FURY”?!?
- There’s Japanese Logan…showing all kinds of raw ‘tude with his one red claw. You’re a bad boy, Logan. A bad boy because your claws are different colors. American society wants you to have one color, but no…you’re a rebel.
- Finally, Sailor Moon Steve Rodgers in the middle there which is simply unholy. Sitting there thumbing its nose to everything beautiful….I’m sure Cap is rolling over in his grave right now…well…that is if he was still dead.
Yup, complete and utter trash…let’s move on to things I actually like.
Current Book I’m Reading:
Jack Kirby’s Mister Miracle
My 2019 resolution to read more DC comics continues into this month with a collection that I was very anxious to finish reading. As you might remember if you are fan of the podcast, we did a review of Tom King’s Mister Miracle series last month on the show, and it was a huge hit with yours truly.
So much so that although at the time of the recording, I had read a only handful of the first issues of Jack Kirby’s classic original series, it did not sit well with me at all that I had not read it in its entirety. So right then and there, I made my mind up to rectify that concern, and over the past month I’ve been reading the rest of the series here and there in between the other books I have to read for the GotS.
And let me just say that between the Tom King series and now reading the rest of Jack Kirby’s series, I can honestly say that Mister Miracle is probably my new favorite DC character of all time. Well, scratch that. What I mean to say is Mister Miracle/Big Barda combined are my favorites, because it’s now impossible to separate them in my mind. They are two halves of the same coin and one of the most wonderful couples in all comics. In fact, I’ve already started thinking about what costume pieces I’ll need to make Nicole and I these costumes for the Stewart’s Halloween party this year. By the way, it’s super cool to think that Mister Miracle’s relationship with his wife Big Barda is based on Kirby’s relationship with his own wife, Roz. It really does humanize this titan of the comic industry to such a degree to know this little tidbit, so I’m happy to share that.
Anyways, the series by Kirby is simply delightful, filled with some of the best characters that he’s created since his days with Marvel. Not only do you get MM & BB, but you get Oberon who plays an interesting role as both Miracle’s sidekick but also mentor, combining two roles which you normally wouldn’t think would go together. And then there’s all the baddies: from Granny Goodness, to each of Barda’s former co workers in the Furies, to Doctor Bedlam, to Virman Vundabar, and even the Stan Lee stand-in Funky Flashman, they are all just so wonderful and fun, that it makes for a series that can be read over and over again.
I won’t lie. I’ve had some difficulty reading some other Jack Kirby series such as the pretty abysmal Machine Man, and even Devil Dinosaur had it’s ups and downs. But this series, this is the bees knees. No wonder of all the Fourth World series, this one lasted the longest during its original run at 18 issues, whereas Forever People and even New Gods were cancelled unceremoniously after only 11. Yup, even more than Darkseid, I think that Mister Miracle is easily Kirby’s greatest accomplishment during his time at DC Comics and a series I will reread often in future!
Current Favorite Album While Reading Comics:
Gary Clark Jr., The Story of Sonny Boy Slim
Gary Clark Jr. is a musician I’ve been a pretty big fan of for years ever since he burst on the mainstream scene back in 2012 with that solid guitar riff heavy tune “Bright Lights, Big City”. The issue sometimes though, and I’m being completely honest here, I’m a fan the musician but not really a fan of any of the individual songs. All of them sort of blend together, and when I saw him in concert a couple years back at Pilgrimage in Franklin TN, I didn’t really care what song he was actually playing. I just wanted to hear him jam on his guitar, which he does so extremely well. I didn’t care that one song took 15 minutes to complete, it was all about the jam. I didn’t care that the next song started a lot like the one before it, it was all about the jam.
Well, then my wife got tickets to Gary Clark Jr. again at Benedum Center recently, and I thought to myself “Well if I’m seeing this guy now twice in concert, I feel like I should really make an effort to know some of his songs better”. Y’know just in case someone was actually going to ask me what my favorite song was or whether he played it.
So all this month, while reading comic books, I’ve been listening to his last studio recorded album, the 2015 release of “The Story of Sonny Boy Slim“, which reached number one on the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart in October that year. The album’s title was created by blending his two childhood nicknames. Sonny Boy was the nickname his mother gave him, whilst Slim was given to him on the Austin Texas Blues scene referring to his tall and thin physical build.
I gotta say although I thought I was going to get a lot of true blues on this album, something similar to the stuff I love from Freddie King, but honestly, the mix of blues, soul, and R&B reminded me a lot more of something that Motown might have released in the mid 70s. It’s very Marvin Gaye sounding at times, especially the song I’ve decided to share below with everyone, “Star”.
Sure, the guitar work is still solid but I do love the fact that Gary flexes his vocal pipes in this tune, showing everyone that he’s not just one of the most bad ass guitar players on the face of the planet, but he’s the total package when it comes to song making. Although I will still say that a lot of his tunes tend to blend together after listening to them back to back, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as there’s a nice ebb and flow to the music, and if really just want something on in the background as you read Mister Miracle for example, its a decent enough album to do that with.
Current “Favorite” Video Game:
Praey to the Gods
For those of you that know me, I’ve been one to dabble in Kickstarter campaigns. I supported the MST3k reboot, got tons of high quality board games from Keymaster Games, and have even a couple comics such as Skies of Fires.
However, in 2016, I took a big gamble on Kickstart supporting a video game project with No Matter Studios planned release of a “Shadow of the Colossus” style survival game called Praey to the Gods. The reason I say it was a gamble was because my brother, Ethan, supported two games through Kickstarter and even we speak, the one he gave good faith money to get a copy of still hasn’t released anything…and he supported it 6 years ago. So unlike some other projects in other forms of media, with video games, it seems its a very calculated risk.
But nearly 3 years after I first supported it, the Beta version finally was sent to me earlier last month. Being still in the dead of winter and actually during some pretty vicious snow storms, I eagerly sat down to play this snowbound story of a young woman’s quest to survive an icy tomb of a world long enough to slay the gigantic monsters that seem to have imprisoned her there.
The problem was, after several play sessions, I realized this game is about 2 years too late for me.
You see, although I totally understand that to build a video game it takes years and years of development, in order to really have grabbed my interest and been something I hadn’t see before, it would have had to have come out shortly after the Kickstarter campaign ended in 2016.
However, that didn’t happen, and in the interim, I started playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. And now, this game what with it’s open world exploring of a somewhat post apocalyptic overly harsh environment, cooking meals, paragliding everywhere, giant colossus style beasts you have to defeat, it’s all been done before and done before better in my opinion by BotW. Plus unlike this game, which sort of just throws you into a story you have no real idea as to what’s going on with, at least BotW gives you the established Zelda mythology to fall back on.
So yeah, I gotta say, after a wait of almost 3 years, I’m very disappointed in the end result of this game based on just some early play sessions. Not because the game is of poor quality or glitchy or something, but it just seems wasted. Like they had so much time to put together something unique and exciting only to have beaten to the punch by Nintendo in the end. I mean I empathize with them and feel bad that happened, but it still doesn’t excuse the fact that I’m just playing a BotW clone at this point, and I waited so long just for that.
However, like some comic books that I’ve read that seem slow and derivative at first, I’ll probably muscle through some more of this game to see if it picks up from here, but in the end, I’m not holding out a lot of hope. I’m still every much enjoying BotW at this point, taking my time with that game and really exploring it. So if it’s a choice between spending what limited game time I have on that game or playing the clone in Prey to the Gods, you know Link and Zelda are going to win that battle every single time.
Current Favorite TV Show:
We Bare Bears
Now I know what you are thinking. Every month, Andy waltzes out here and says he’s going to talk about his current TV show is and after we get all excited about finally hearing about some sort of live action cop show or new murder mystery, he ends up slamming us with any kids cartoon!
Hey what can I say, I love me the animated series! They are normally shorter, funnier, and more original than shows you find on the major networks nowadays (Navy Seals…are you kidding me?!?). And when it comes to my cartoon fix, typically I don’t have to look very far than Cartoon Network to get my new jam.
The strange thing is usually I don’t catch on to shows on this Network until they have been already on for several seasons. Like Adventure Time for example, I didn’t find out about that show until they were well into season 5!
Any who, my new favorite jam is We Bare Bears. Created by Daniel Chong, who started his career as a storyboard artist for Pixar, the show follows three bear siblings, Grizzly, Panda, and Ice Bear (voiced by Eric Edelstein and well know comics Bobby Moynihan and Demetri Martin), and their amusing interactions with the human world in the San Francisco Bay Area. They rent a limo in one episode, start a Youtube channel, match wits with a bagel stealing rat, all very clever stuff. They even have a friend that’s a Bigfoot style creature named Charlie, and this episode where they play board games with him is hilarious!
The series was based on Chong’s webcomic The Three Bare Bears which is still available on line for all of you comic nuts out there by going to his website (even though there haven’t been new comics posted since 2011). However, they are still super good, and in fact, I’m going to post one below just to give you a taste of why Cartoon Network had to bite Fruit Stripes Gum and pick up this series.
Yep, that right mix of great humor and heart is what not only won my kids over into being huge fans of this show, but also their dear old dad. Trust me, I do watch a lot of cartoons with my kids, but there are ton they like which I just think are terrible. From the moment I saw the episode “Crowbar Jones: Origins“ of We Bare Bears, I knew this was going to be something special.
Plus, thanks to the episode “Hot Sauce“, my son, Jakob, now puts Sriracha sauce on everything now. Well, maybe not pancakes, but yes it’s his condiment of choice now. Can’t recommend this show any higher. Check it out today on Cartoon Network.com!