Archive for the ‘Blatant Insubordination’ Category

Blatant Insubordination: Sexiness and the Female Body

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I think Lena Dunham is sexier than Naya Rivera.

I didn’t know that until just now. I’d never thought to compare the two, and you can’t blame me for that. Dunham produces and stars in Girls on HBO, while Rivera acts on Fox’s Glee. Their work appeals to pretty different demos.

Now, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I am not saying Naya Rivera is unattractive. She’s pretty, a talented performer, etc. Additionally, I’m not saying that skinny women are, by nature, unattractive. I’m just saying, put Lena Dunham and Naya Rivera next to one another, and I’ll go for Lena every time. And I think a lot of women would be surprised at how many men share my opinion.

I’ve been lucky enough to amass a decent amount of female friends and co-workers in recent years. It’s funny how much women will actually tell you when you’re engaged and off the market. It’s like they become double agents, and start telling you all the little team secrets you never knew about when you were on the playing field. One of the things I hear about is body image issues. “I look fat.” “I’ve got to be [however many] pounds by [insert given date].” “He’s only attracted to skinny girls.”

These and numerous other little venting sessions popped into my mind the other night when Glee aired its 100th episode, and I noticed how friggin’ skinny Naya Rivera has gotten. Her character, Santana, is usually portrayed as the show’s sexiest girl. Case in  point, this particular episode saw she and two other girls cover Britney Spears’ “Toxic” while dressed as naughty school girls. And then I got to thinking about my female friends, and about how many young girls watch shows like Glee. Mind you, Glee is just an example I’m using. The majority of the younger actresses and performers in Hollywood are friggin’ twigs.

Is this a new development? Of course not. People were talking about this kind of thing when I was a kid, and probably long before that. It’s just the way the world works at the moment. The only difference is my personal perspective has changed. At the risk of sounding too hokey or clichéd, it kind of breaks my heart.

I certainly don’t speak for all men. God knows I wouldn’t wish my perspective on the gender at large. But I do think I speak for some men. And I think that some men would like to let some women know that society, the media, the machine, or whatever you want to call it has created a gross misunderstanding about what we think sexy is. Let me tell you about it…

At the end of the day, sexiness really isn’t about how fat or skinny you are, how tan or pale you are, how blonde or brunette you are, or anything along those lines. Certain details might add to the overall presentation depending on the man. But at the end of the day, sexiness is all about one thing: Confidence. And where does confidence come from? It’s from you being happy with yourself, and proud of who and what you are. With that confidence comes a certain honesty and genuity. You learn not to be afraid to be yourself, warts and all.

I can’t even tell you how many times I day I see women wearing too much make up, hair that’s needlessly overdone, or clothes they’re obviously not comfortable in, all for the sake of looking like the machine says women should look. In effect, these women are wearing costumes, complete with clown make up. There are times when I see these women and I just want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them out it. “It’s not real, Daisy Mae! It’s all a big lie! They’re trying to sell you lipstick!!!”

What I admire about Lena Dunham is that there’s a certain honesty to her image. She looks like a human being, as opposed to what the world seems to want human beings to look like. And hey, I like that she gets naked on the show. God forbid we see a woman in popular media who doesn’t appear to have been airbrushed halfway out of existence. Lena Dunham is a person. And when you get past all the dress up games and flirty foreplay, that’s what men (or at least some men) really want to connect with: Another person.

Maybe it’s just a matter of getting older and being able to see past the world’s smoke and mirrors. God forbid I ever have to raise a daughter and explain all this to her. Little Katniss Skywalker Siebert is going to be mighty confused…

I think what I’m really trying to say is: Ladies, eat some cake. Skip a work out. Forget the damn eye shadow for a day. Because when it’s all said and done, none of that matters. So leave the costume behind, and just be yourself.

Front page image from zimbio.com. Image 1 from skinnyvscurvy.com. Image 2 from fox.com. Image 3 from hollywood.com.

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Blatant Insubordination: Thoughts From the Batman: Arkham Knight Trailer

**WARNING: SPOILERS FOR BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY LAY AHEAD. BUT LET’S FACE IT, IF YOU’RE READING THIS, CHANCES ARE YOU’VE FINISHED THAT GAME ALREADY. AND IF YOU HAVEN’T, RUN, DO NOT WALK, TO ACQUIRE AND PLAY THAT GAME.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Batman: Arkham City was one of those rare things in life that actually lived up to the hype. It turned out to be as good, if not better, than what most of us envisioned. And the ending, by God the ending…

The death of the Joker, inside the very theater young Bruce Wayne attended with his parents on the night of their murder. The Joker stabs Batman, causing him to drop the very antidote The Joker needs to survive his Titan poisoning. It was masterfully written in a way that almost invokes The Killing Joke

Batman: “Do you want to know something funny? Even after everything you’ve done, I would have saved you.”
Joker: “(laughs, then begins to cough) “Actually, that is…(coughs, and begins to choke)…pretty funny.”

The scene, which is masterfully performed by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamillends with The Joker passing away with a smile on his face. Batman then carries his body out of the theater in front of various onlookers, and refuses to answer Commissioner Gordon’s simple question of: “What happened?”

As if that weren’t enough of an ending, various Easter eggs indicated Harley Quinn was, in fact, pregnant with a child that is presumably The Joker’s. Throw in some cryptic comments from Azrael (“From the ashes of Arkham, fires will rage and Gotham will burn.”), and you’ve got a gaming experience that left fans wanting a hell of a lot more.

And now, more is finally here…

So…am I a total troll if I say I’m kind of disappointed?

From a visual standpoint, the trailer certainly looks fantastic, though we’re obviously not seeing gameplay footage. It’s definitely cool to see the Arkham incarnations of the Penguin, Two-Face, and a most certainly not pregnant Harley Quinn. Though the game supposedly takes place a year after City, so I suppose she could have had the baby and gotten on one of those celebrity weight-loss programs. That’s obviously the Scarecrow’s voice at the beginning, what with all the “darkest fears” talk. Also, Thomas Wayne’s line about how “I will not see you grow into the good man you will become,” suggests he knew his life was about to come to an end when he wrote his will.

This is all interesting stuff. And if this were, say, the first chapter in the Arkham saga, this would be an awesome trailer. But here’s the thing…they ignored the most important stuff that happened at the end of Arkham City! Fans have been speculating for over two years about whether the Joker is actually dead, and the trailer doesn’t even reference it! No cuts to a Joker card stained with blood, no hints at the uncertainty about where the body ended up (see Harley Quinn’s Revenge), no word about any Joker demon spawn, nothing!

By the time the trailer wrapped, my response, in essence, was that I’d just seen a bunch of cool Batman stuff. But unlike the trailers for Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, it didn’t leave me salivating for the adventure to come. I think that’s what fans have come to expect from the Arkham series. So at the end of the day, what I’ve seen so far has left me feeling pretty flat, and not nearly as interested as I could/should be.

Now, needless to say, all is not lost. We don’t even know when the game is hitting shelves yet (Though presumably it’ll be in the fall, right?). Reportedly, Kevin Conroy is indeed back as Batman. And this united group of supervillains waging war on city could indeed result in the “fires will rise and Gotham will burn” scenario that Azrael mentioned in Arkham City.

I’m certainly not naive enough to think The Joker won’t be around in Arkham Knight. For cryin’ out loud, the entire Arkham series is based on the rivalry between the Caped Crusader and the Clown Prince. He’s got to be there. I’m just disappointed they didn’t give us that great hook to pull us into what is supposedly the final chapter in the Arkham series…

The final chapter, huh? So what does that really mean? At the very least, I expect that this’ll be Rocksteady’s last trip to Gotham City. As great as their Batman games have been, I’ve got no problem with that. That company has nothing left to prove in this arena. They’ve created the definitive model upon which most future Batman games will likely be based. So let’s let somebody else take the wheel and see what happens.

I just hope this isn’t the last we see of the Arkham continuity. Between the various continuity questions and confusions raised by the New 52, and Christopher Nolan putting a definitive end to his Batman film series, the Arkham universe is probably my favorite canon at this point. It’s got enough pieces of the “Diniverse” (i.e. Paul Dini stuff) to make it feel like an extension of Batman: The Animated Series. But at the same time, it’s not afraid to do it’s own thing, and set itself apart. Perhaps I’m asking too much, but I say let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water when it comes time for the next Batman game. At the very least, it’ll ensure Kevin Conroy continues to provide the voice for Batman every couple of years.

Ah yes…voice actors. Let’s discuss The Joker for a moment, shall we?

Troy Baker did a fine job in Arkham Origins. The guy was in an extremely tough position having to follow Mark Hamill. He essentially had to impersonate Hamill’s Joker, as opposed to putting his own spin on the character. But to his credit, he did about as well as anyone could have hoped. And if it’s him that voices The Joker in Arkham Knight, I’ll be fine with that.

But what if…what if

Mark Hamill said he was done playing The Joker after Arkham City, and The Joker died in Arkham City, so it all worked out. But if The Joker ends up getting resurrected  in Arkham Knight

PLEASE, Mark? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE????? Just one more time, and I’ll never bug you about it again! I promise! No, really! It’s for real this time! I’ll stop tweeting you! I’ll stop emailing you! I’ll stop calling your house! I’ll stop ringing your doorbell at four in the morning…

Pretty please?

Front page image/image 2 from newsarama.com. Image 1 from batman.wikia.com. Image 3 from playstationer.com. 

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Blatant Insubordination: Star Wars Blu-Rays

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It took more than two years, but I finally caved and got the Star Wars movies on Blu-ray his week. That’s right, folks. Rob Siebert has arrived in 2011. It’s just the original trilogy, mind you. I wasn’t about to spend more money on the prequels. But then again, it wasn’t my money that was spent anyway…

I copped out and got it as a birthday gift from my future mother-in-law, who I apparently freaked out when I noted I wanted the version with the various special features on it. In doing so, I was mainly looking to see the deleted content from the original trilogy, i.e. the famous Luke and Biggs scene from A New  Hope, the scene in Return of the Jedi where Luke assembles his lightsaber, etc. Of course, had I paid attention, I’d have noticed that content was only on the set with all six movies on it. Thus, to get the scrapped content from the original trilogy, you had to buy the prequels. Oh, George… (I can say that, because the Blu-rays were released before the Disney buy out.) Thankfully for both my poor mother-in-law and myself, you can find a lot of that content on YouTube, and various other cultural dumpsters on the internet.

So why did I wait so long? Anger and stubbornness, I suppose. Having seen movies like Jedi Junkies and The People vs. George Lucas, I told myself I would never be one of those fans who breaks into a sprint for the latest George Lucas table scraps. Until this week, the most recent versions of the original movies I owned were the original DVD releases from 2004. Oddly enough, those were a gift too.

When I finally got over my “prequel denial,” and it hit me just what George Lucas had done to his creation with those movies, I resolved to pour as little money as possible into the Star Wars machine, despite my love for the originals. They could have everyone else’s hard-earned cash, but no more of mine. No more action figures, no more DVDs, no more novels, I even swore off the comic books for a while. And of course, I freaked when I found out George had sold Star Wars to Disney.

It was all foolish, of course. To an extent, in my quest to move away from the Jedi Junkies crowd, I had actually jumped toward the other end of the spectrum: The “George Lucas raped my childhood” crowd. Star Wars and rape really don’t belong in the same conversation topic, no matter how funny that one episode of South Park was…

So here I am, on a Friday afternoon, watching A New Hope on Blu-ray. So what’s the experience like? It’s the same as always, really. It’s still the same movie I’ve seen hundreds of times, and can recite pretty much verbatim. Everything looks very crisp and clear, of course. The desert stuff in particular looks great. But as my buddies can tell you, I’ve never been a high-definition freak. To me, a good presentation is a good presentation, regardless of whether you have all the digital whosis and the sound whatsis. The Three Stooges are funny in Disorder in the Court whether you’re watching it on Blu-ray, or a worn out old VHS.

But if that’s the case, why bother buying the Blu-rays at all? Why not just stick with the DVDs? My answer for that is…I don’t know. I guess part of me feels like I owe it to Star Wars for all the joy it’s given me over the years. As bitter as I still am over certain aspects of Star Wars, the original movies still makes me happy. There are still times where I rave about them to my fiance. We have yet to watch a Star Wars film together. But when we finally do, I’m sure I’ll talk over half of it, because I’ll be like a giddy 10-year-old again.

And in the end, 40 or 50 bucks every 10 years is a worthwhile price to keep your giddy 10-year-old self alive and well. Especially if it’s not even your money…

Front page image from zekefilm.org. Image 2 from foxnews.com. Image 3 from starwars.wikia.com.

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Blatant Insubordination: Wonder Woman and the World’s Finest

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Yeesh, the stakes are just getting higher and higher for this Superman/Batman movie, aren’t they?

As you’ve likely heard by now, Gal Gadot has been added to 2015′s Superman/Batman movie as none other than Wonder Woman. Thus, this film will not only mark the character’s debut on the big screen, but it will be the first time DC’s “big three,” Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, appear together on the big screen.

No pressure, right?

Did we mention this movie has to follow The Avengers: Age of Ultron. And of course, the whole point of this film is to give Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment their own equivalent to the Avengers film franchise.

Oh, and let’s not forget the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman pissed off legions of fickle fanboys, who are going to need a hefty amount of quality thrown their way to curb their Batfleck cynicism.

Jeez, We’re a year and a half out, and I’m already having anxiety attacks for the poor suckers involved with this flick.

While I certainly won’t complain about Wonder Woman making her long overdue film debut, I’m skeptical as to what her role will be in a movie that’s supposedly going to be centered around Superman and Batman. When the film was originally announced, I assumed we’d get the Nolan/Snyder take on the traditional Superman-meets-Batman story of the last 25 years. You know, the one where our heroes meet, and initially they don’t take to one another (which in this movie’s case I suspect will result in a big fight), but eventually the threat posed by the villain forces them to put aside their differences and work together. In the end, both realize there’s room for the other’s brand of justice in the world. Thus, a team for the ages is born.

Granted, I’m acting like I know what this film is about before we even have an official title. But where does Wonder Woman fit into that equation? I’m not saying she can’t. I’m just wondering how we fit her into a scenario like that?

In 2008′s Justice League: The New Frontier Special one-shot, Darwyn Cooke gave us a short story in which Superman and Batman collide during an era in which all other superheroes have been forced into retirement. Wonder Woman ultimately stops the battle, convincing the two heroes that in such a tumultuous era, they should be putting their differences aside and working together against injustice. Cooke gave us a great pair of lines toward the end of the story: “For an Amazon, there is no greater deed than overcoming anger and conflict with love. To bring these two great men together has buoyed my spirit.” Would that sort of sentiment ever fly in a modern superhero movie, where everyone wants stuff to be “dark” and such? Probably not. But it would be a great way to bring DC’s big three together on the big screen.

But of course, that in itself brings up all sorts of questions. How much time do we spend establishing who Wonder Woman is? How much of her backstory do we dive into? Remember, this movie also needs to establish who Batman is in the world, as well as who our villain is. And who is our villain anyway? Lex Luthor? Brainiac? Darkseid? What about Zod with his head turned backward? Is that a possibility?

What concerns me about Wonder Woman being added to the mix here is that we’re moving too quickly to get the elements in place for a Justice League movie, in an attempt to catch up with the Avengers franchise. Considering the quality of build-up we got for The Avengers, not to mention some of the bad mojo DC has garnered itself on the film side of things (the relative failure of Green Lantern and Superman Returns, the largely divided reaction to Man of Steel, the inability to get Christian Bale back, the Affleck factor), not to mention some of the bad karma the company has build up on the print side of things, and I’ve just got a really uneasy feeling about all of this.

Could this all still work? Hell yes it could. But as much as I hate to say it, I just don’t have the faith in DC that I do in Marvel these days. That’s true for both the print and cinematic ends of the spectrum…

Good luck, Wondie. We’re rootin’ for ya.

Front page image from dccomics.com. Image 1 from collider.com. Image 2 from incognitomoustache.tumblr.com. Image 3 mashable.com. 

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Blatant Insubordination: Batfleck? Is That What We’re Calling Him Now?

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

So, seen any good memes lately?

Like a lot of fans, I was floored when I saw the news that Ben Affleck had been cast as Batman in 2015′s Superman/Batman film. We’d heard rumors about a half dozen other actors, including Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin, but Affleck’s name wasn’t a mainstay in any of the conversations. If anything, Affleck’s name was likely brought up as a joke. He was, after all, the star of Fox’s underwhelming Daredevil film. And there was a time when Affleck was something of a Hollywood punch line, appearing in flop after flop after flop. Cinematic disasterpieces like Pearl HarborGigli, and Surviving Christmas. So it’s an incredible shock to see that Ben Affleck’s comeback has seen him not only win another Academy Award, but get one of the most iconic parts in American cinema. Even if you don’t like him, you’ve got to at least tip your hat to him. He’s risen from the ashes like a damn phoenix.

And yes, let’s all make the Matt Damon as Robin joke. Are people making Jennifer Garner/Catwoman jokes, too? Let’s throw one in just to be safe.

All jests aside, this announcement was met with more than it’s share of jeers from fans, which isn’t even remotely surprising. There’s even an online petition demanding the actor’s removal, with more than 36,000 signatures. Affleck’s history aside, whoever got the role was destined to be met with a mountain of skepticism, criticism, and even outrage. And who do we blame for that? Christian Bale, of course. His often over-the-top hoarse delivery aside, he’s established himself as the quintessential cinematic Batman of the 21st century. Between his look and his acting chops, he was everything you could want in a Batman actor. And he lived up to the hype. Heck, rumor has it he was being lined up for a $50 million payday to play the role one more time. How does any actor follow that kind of reception?

I know some are crying foul because Joseph Gordon-Levitt won’t ever get to suit up as the Dark Knight. The whole Nolanverse, as great as it was, is now essentially null and void from a continuity perspective. As a fan, that’s frustrating. We’ve heard all this talk about Warner Bros. using Man of Steel to launch a DC Comics cinematic universe, just as Marvel has done with its movies. But I think the majority of fans would tell you the Nolanverse was the ideal DC cinematic universe, and there’s not necessarily a need to create another one, because we had a perfectly good one already. Let’s also not forget that the Superman/Batman film is being co-written by David Goyer, who had a hand in writing all of Nolan’s Batman movies, as well as Man of Steel.

There is a caveat there, of course. Nolan and Goyer wrote themselves into a corner with The Dark Knight Rises. They inexplicably set the film eight years after The Dark Knight, and of course, they had Bruce Wayne retire. So if a Superman/Batman movie were to be set in the Nolanverse, we’d likely have to go to the trouble of pulling Bruce out of retirement, which might needlessly hold up the proceedings. Yes, Joseph Gordon-Levitt would have made a fine Batman. But from a marketing and publicity standpoint, it’s ideal to have Bruce Wayne in the cowl. Especially since this is the first time Superman and Batman will be together on the big screen.

So if we can’t have Christian Bale, then we need a new Batman. Ergo, Ben Affleck.

Let’s not kid ourselves, here. Ben Affleck is entirely capable of playing a superhero role. Daredevil had it’s share of issues, but I didn’t have any problems with Affleck’s suitability for the Matt Murdock role. He certainly didn’t look out of place in a dark superhero movie. But I think what has people up in arms about the Batman announcement is the question of whether Affleck has the acting chops to portray a character as haunted as Bruce Wayne. His Matt Murdock certainly had some of those qualities, but Batman takes brooding to a another level entirely. Even casual fans are expecting that kind of character. So Affleck may have his work cut out for him. And you’ve got to believe he knows that. I’m sure he’s well aware of what his reputation is among fanboys, and that he’s going to have to move mountains to win their approval.

And as if that weren’t enough, there’s a lot, a lot, a LOT of money riding on this thing. Man of Steel laid the foundation for a DC cinematic universe, and now it’s this movie’s job to actually get the damn thing going. Even moreso than Man of Steel, the success or failure of the Superman/Batman movie is going to make or break Warner Bros. and DC’s ability to get more movies off the ground. What’s more, it’ll have a tremendous impact on the global perception of their brand, and their ability to compete with Marvel. And that’s to say nothing of the sky-high fan expectations for the film overall. Ergo, Affleck is arguably in a more difficult position than any other new Batman actor has ever been. A disappointing performance here would result in the disappointment (and even the downright rage) of millions of fans, and the loss of BILLIONS of dollars in future superhero movie revenue. Yeesh. Talk about pressure…

But all hope is not lost. One thing that’s definitely worth noting is that these Batman movies tend to bring out certain sides of actors that we never knew existed. Michael Keaton seems to be the apropos example to make at this point. When he was chosen for the title role in Tim Burton’s Batman, a lot of fans either scratched their heads or cried foul. Remember, at that point he was best known for his role in comedic films like Mr. Mom and Beetlejuice. But of course, he turned out to be perfect for the role. Some fans still consider him to be the best cinematic Dark Knight of them all.

And then there’s Heath Ledger, who won a friggin’ Academy Award for his performance as the Joker. But when fans learned he’d been cast, there was no shortage of outrage. Newsarama actually just posted an article, title Public Service Reminder: How the Internet Reacted to Heath Ledger as Joker Casting. It’s a great read if you’re looking for some perspective on all of this.

Interestingly enough, it was reported awhile back that director Zack Snyder was meeting with Frank Miller to talk about this movie. And when the film was announced last month, a passage was read from The Dark Knight Returns. This has lead to the speculation that an older Batman will be gracing the screen in 2015. As of this writing, Henry Cavill is 30, and Ben Affleck is 41. I wouldn’t read too much into that at this point, as Affleck is certainly capable of playing younger. But it is worth noting.

So what else is there to say at this point? Eh, not much really. To our knowledge, they haven’t shot a single frame of footage yet. But we do know this team produced a pretty good Superman movie, and that Cavill has a solid footing in the role. We know David Goyer’s track record with comic book movies is good, Blade: Trinity notwithstanding. And we know that Affleck, regardess of what people say about him, is a good actor. So while the stakes are high, there are definitely circumstances leaning in his favor.

Sadly, the only thing we can do now is wait for 2015. Or at the very least, a trailer.

Front page image from hollywoodreporter.com. Images 1 and 4 from mashable.com. Image 2 from facebook.com/comics.xaminer. Image 3 from ushumor.com. 

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Blatant Insubordination: “Villains Month” on a Budget

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The hype continues to build for DC Comics’ “Villains Month” in September. To coincide with the start of DC’s latest event series, Forever Evil (which comes right on the heels of Trinity War), almost every monthly series will feature a one-shot story dedicated to a particular villain.

What’s more, certain titles dedicates to “legacy” characters, like Supergirl, Batgirl, Nightwing and Superboy will go on the shelf for a month. In their place, multiple issues of pillar books like Batman, SupermanGreen Lantern and Wonder Woman will come out multiple times, with different creators revolving in and out. For instance, Andy Kubert, Scott Snyder (with Ray Fawkes), Frank Tieri and Peter Tomasi will all write an issue of Batman during September.

Hey, we all love villains, don’t we? Personally, I’d like nothing more than to gobble up every issue. The problem is, like a lot of fanboys, I’m on a budget. And considering most of these issues will cost $3.99, Forever Evil isn’t exactly wallet-friendly.

But have no fear, ya’ll. I’m here to help. DC is publishing a total of 52 villain one-shots in September. At $3.99 apiece, that’s over $200. Based on the solicitations, I’ve narrowed it down to 10 most-likely-to-succeed issues. These are your best bets to get the right bang for your buck come September.

TITLE: Batman #23.1
AUTHOR: Andy Kubert
PENCILLER: Andy Clarke. Cover by Jason Fabok.
RELEASE DATE: September 4

It’s The Joker. For some of us, that’s reason enough.

The solit for this issue indicates this will be one of Mr. J’s early adventures, and will answer the question: “…what led him on this devious path of treachery?” I always cringe when DC goes down this path, as they tend to end up fixing something that’s not broken (see the smiling Red Hood Gang guy in Batman: Zero Year). But I’ve always enjoyed Andy Clarke’s work. His work on Batman & Robin was awesome, and I’ve been enjoying his recent work in Detective Comics. Andy Kubert, who by now is a renowned Batman artist, being in the writer’s chair piques my interest as well. We’ve definitely got some great talent on board. Let’s just hope the damn thing isn’t a train wreck.

TITLE: Superman #23.1
AUTHOR: Sholly Fisch
PENCILLER: Jeff Johnson. Cover by Aaron Kuder.
RELEASE DATE: September 4

If I’m not mistaken, this is the first New 52 appearance of Bizarro. At first glance, he looks interesting. I’m glad they went with the t-shirt look, as opposed to something like the armored look Superman sports now. The solit indicates Lex Luthor is involved in the creation of Bizarro, which I’m also interested to see.

For me, the real draw here is Sholly Fisch. During Grant Morrison’s run on Action Comics, there were months where Fisch’s backups were more interesting than the main story. Particularly when the content revolved around the Kents or Steel, he was able to inject a good amount of heart and intrigue into things. I’m looking for more of the same here, only with a more tragic twist, obviously.

TITLE: Batman #23.2
AUTHORS: Scott Snyder, Ray Fawkes
PENCILLERS: Jeremey Haun. Cover by Guillem March.
RELEASE DATE: September 11, 2013

I’m not in love with what Scott Snyder is doing with Zero Year, but I have enjoyed his work with The Riddler. I’ve talked before about how the backup story done by Snyder, James Tynion IV and Jock in Batman #— was the character’s best outing in years.

For this issue, we’ve got Ray Fawkes on board. Fawkes was recently put in the extremely unenviable position of having to fill in for Gail Simone on Batgirl, the results of which were rather uninspiring. But hopefully with Snyder’s guidance, and Jeremey Haun’s pencils, he can cook up something worthy of one of Batman’s oldest and greatest foes. The market is certainly wide open for the next great Riddler story. I’m hoping we’ll have it in our hands soon.

TITLE: Action Comics #23.3
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
PENCILLER: Raymund Bermudez. Cover by Aaron Kuder.
RELEASE DATE: September 17

I’m gambling a little bit on this one. I’m not overly familiar with Charles Soule or Raymond Bermudez. But my curiosity about New 52 Lex Luthor outweighs my skepticism in this instance.

Aside from Superman and the Men of Steel, and the first issue of Superman Unchained, I personally haven’t seen much of New 52 Luthor. While Lexcorp does exist in this continuity, obviously we’ve partially dropped Lex’s “evil businessman” persona, in favor of the more classic mad scientist approach. I’ve got no complaints in that respect, as he’s still the same brilliant, narcissistic S.O.B. we know and love. But I’m hoping this issue gives us some more cool insights as to just who this Lex Luthor is, and how he’s different from the one we knew in the old continuity.

TITLE: Green Lantern #23.3
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
PENCILLER: Alberto Ponticelli. Cover by Billy Tan.
RELEASED: September 18

Aside from Sinestro, none of Green Lantern’s villains came out of Geoff Johns’ decade-long run on Green Lantern looking better than Black Hand. In terms of single issues, 2009′s Green Lantern #43 was a masterpiece. It may not be fair to expect a similar quality from this new issue by Charles Soule and Alberto Ponticelli, a little wishful thinking doesn’t necessarily hurt, does it?

The solit indicates we’ll find out how William Hand returned from being a “pile of dust in the Dead Zone.” Thus, chances are we’ll be seeing some nice Blackest Night back-from-the-dead juju. And based on what I’ve seen of Alberto Ponticelli’s art, that should look damn fine. Here’s hoping we get a nice little DC Universe zombie fix for the foreseeable future.

TITLE: Wonder Woman #23.1
AUTHOR: John Ostrander
PENCILLER: Victor Ibanez Ramirez
RELEASE DATE: September 18

I’ve never been immensely intrigued by The Cheetah. From a distance she’s always seemed like something of an odd arch-nemesis for Wonder Woman. The Joker to her Batman, the Lex Luthor to her Superman, etc. But Justice League #13-14 shed some light on that rivalry for me. In the New 52 universe, their feud is very personal. Diana feels as though she’s let Barbara Minerva down by not being able to redeem her, and Barbara insists that deep down, mankind is really a savage race. To their credit, Geoff Johns and Tony Daniel cut to the core of their dynamic very well, and I’m hoping we get to explore that more here. We don’t have Johns in the writers chair. But as a John Ostrander fan, I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with the material.

TITLE: Aquaman #23.2
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates
PENCILLER: Geraldo Borges. Cover by Paul Pelletier.
RELEASE DATE: September 25

I really enjoyed what was done with Ocean Master in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. (I’ll try and stay spoiler-free here.) The desperation we saw in him during that last issue, coupled with what ended up happening to him at the end was really intriguing. I loved the image of him trying to get what little water he could from that tap. And of course, the whole brotherly dynamic is interesting.

It’s nice to have Johns still at the helm for this issue, but it’s great to see Sterling Gates’ name too. The stuff he did with Supergirl a few years before the reboot was enjoyable. His short run on Hawk & Dove, and his current work on Justice League of America’s Vibe is also consistently decent. This isn’t the only title he and Johns are working on this month, and hopefully getting to work with a fresh set of characters will be a fun for both he and the readership.

TITLE: Batman #23.4
AUTHOR: Peter Tomasi
PENCILLER: Graham Nolan. Cover by Guillem March.
RELEASE DATE: September 24

I started reading comics in the’90s, so it’s exciting for me to see Graham Nolan, one of the perennial Batman artists of that era, attached to a Bat book. What’s more, he co-created the Bane character with Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench. Toss the usually stellar Peter Tomasi into the mix, and you’ve got a can’t-miss issue.

This is actually the only Tomasi book that’s on this list. But in truth, any issue he does deserves an honorable mention. It might not be PC to say, but I’ve actually enjoyed his Batman & Robin material more than I have most of the Snyder and Capullo Batman run. His work tends to have a nice soul to it, which tends to set it apart from the pack.

TITLE: Justice League #23.4
AUTHORS: Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates
PENCILLER: Manuel Garcia. Cover by Mikel Janin.
RELEASE DATE: September 24

When you look at the solits for Villains Month, the Secret Society’s name pops up constantly. “Now that the Secret Society’s done this…” and “This person’s a part of the Secret Society,” etc. So it’s clear that whatever happens at the end of Trinity War which leads to Forever Evil is Society-related. As such, this is likely an issue we’re going to want to pick up if we want to keep our fingers on the pulse of this company-wide crossover.

The use of The Outsider as the Society’s leader is a surprising choice. Oddly enough, the character was originally created in the ’60s as a temporary alter-ego for Alfred Pennyworth. Now he’s back in 2013, and I can only assume it’s not Alfred leading the Society. So…who is he?

TITLE: Justice League of America #7.4
AUTHORS: Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates
PENCILLER: Edgar Salazar. Cover by Tony Daniel.
RELEASE DATE: September 25, 2013

What’s curious about this issue is how it relates to what happened to Black Adam at the end of Johns and Gary Frank’s Shazam! story. Again, we’ll stay spoiler-free here. But I’m wondering how this issue is going to deal with that.

I haven’t had a chance to review Shazam! yet, but on the whole I was pretty happy with it. Now that the entire DCU has gotten a fresh start, it looks like the former Captain Marvel and his cohorts will get a chance to be as integrated into things as they’ve always deserved to be. A Shazam! series seems inevitable at this point. Here’s hoping this issue is just the next step in that direction.

Front page image from dccomics.com.

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Blatant Insubordination: Suggestions for Dynamite’s Heroes Comic Book

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

For yours truly, one of the more intriguing announcements to come out of Comic-Con International: San Diego this year was the news of a new Heroes comic book from Dynamite Entertainment, written by Cullen Bunn. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen our old Heroes friends, but given what we saw from that show in its third and fourth seasons, I’d say that’s probably been for the best. We’ve had some time to get the bad aftertaste out of our mouths, and we’re probably all a bit more forgiving by now.

So what can you do with new Heroes stories? A lot, really. There are so many different characters and settings and powers, etc. But at this point, what Bunn doesn’t do is just as important as what he does. We spent two or three seasons sitting through bad Heroes. I think we’re due for some quality content. Does Cullen Bunn need my help to create quality content? Probably not. But just in case, I’ve got a few tips for him…

1. She’s Not Cheerleader Jesus
Hey, I get it. Hayden Panetierre is hot. It behooves any show to put the hot chick in the thick of things. In season one, the Claire Bennett character obviously played a macguffin role, with everybody trying to help her, save her, or figure out who the heck she was. And like most things in season one, it was intriguing and well done. But after that, all the emphasis on Claire got obnoxious. I get that the kid with healing powers is bound to play an important role. But I think the show might have overplayed their hand as far as how much of that character fans really wanted to see. The protective dynamic between she and her father was interesting for the first couple of seasons, but eventually I longed for those characters to evolve, which never really happened in a satisfying way. And remember when Claire had a lesbian roommate for pure smut appeal? Blech. I just hope I don’t find Claire’s storylines quite as cringeworthy this time around.

2. No More “Painting the Future”
Having Tim Sale (Batman: The Long Halloween, Superman: For All Seasons, Spider-Man: Blue) produce original art for Heroes was genius in terms of fanboy appeal. The Isaac Mendez character would “paint the future,” and using Sale’s art, the show would provide some ominous foreshadowing. Toward the end of the first season, Isaac was killed off. But the showrunners kept trying to shoehorn the painting power back into the series through various other characters. I understood the desire to to keep it in there, because it’s a pretty cool super power. But again, the show overplayed its hand. Better to quit while you’re ahead. If Bunn wants to incorporate the illustration power into his series, as a fan, I’d hope to see him use it in a different way. An example off the top of my head: A character who can somehow read someone’s mind through painting.

3. Disperse Powers with Care
Peter Petrelli and Sylar, two of the shows top-tier characters, had the ability to essentially “collect” abilities from other super powered characters. This wasn’t a problem from a get-go, but it became very confusing as the series went on, most notably with Peter Petrelli. As the seasons progressed, it became difficult to keep track of what his powers were, what he could and couldn’t do, etc. As he was probably one of the show’s top two big protagonists, that was a hefty problem. It was also one of the major problems with Sylar, though not necessarily as much. For some reason, Ando and Mohinder were also given powers at one point, which didn’t make much given their roles. If I were Bunn, I’d enforce a “no switching” rule for at least a few dozen issues.

4. Sylar is a Bad Guy
I’m pretty sick of seeing “redeemable villains” everywhere. You know: “There’s still good in him! We can save him!” Heroes went that way with Sylar in season three. Certain aspects of it were interesting, and I’m all for putting the character in interesting situations. But I’m done with wishy washy Sylar. When I open this series, I want good ol’ season one Sylar back. I want the sadistic, merciless, power-hungry villain who saws peoples skulls open to steal their powers. Whatever the story Bunn wants to tell is, lets raise the stakes by throwing this extremely combustible element in the mix. Having never read the Heroes graphic novels, I’m very interested to see how the character comes off without Zachary Quinto’s stone cold performances. So bring on the bad guy…

5. Let’s Not Get Too Crowded
One of the many elements that made the first season of Heroes so great was that we had all these separate characters and plot threads, which would intersect at various points, but were all set to converge in New York City. When we got to season two, some of the excitement was gone because a lot of the characters knew each other. That question of “what will happen when X meets Y” was gone. So if you’re in Cullen Bunn’s position, how do you make up for that? Can you make up for it? I’m not sure. But if I’m in Bunn’s position, I’m keeping the cast small in the early going. Supposedly, the emphasis in the first few issues will be on Claire, Sylar, and Hiro. I’d say that’s a good start. But I wouldn’t be overly anxious to bring the other characters in. Let’s let the anticipation set in a bit, so readers can wonder just what has become of Peter Petrelli, Matt Parkman, and the others.

One way or another, Heroes #1 is going to be a must-read. But what I’m even more interested to see is the way the series progresses through issues #2, #3, #4 and beyond. This book will definitely have some eyes on it, so let’s hope it proves to be worth looking at.

Front page image from motivationalsmartass.com. Image 1 from bebo.com. Image 2 from comicvine.com. Image 3 from liveinternet.ru. Image 4 from mysanantonio.com. Image 5 from sidereel.com.

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Blatant Insubordination: Anna Kendrick’s “Cups,” Cycling, and Man of Steel

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

1. Anna Kendrick’s “Cups”

This just occurred to me a few days ago: Why is the song called “Cups?”

In the movie Pitch Perfect, Anna Kendrick does that bit where she sings a song, and does a little percussion with a plastic cup. Subsequently, the song has become a big hit, placing on the Billboard Top 100 and getting a music video. But the other day, I realized something was screwy. Watch the scene from the movie and see if you pick up on it…

The song is called “Cups,” right? But as you can clearly see, she only uses one cup. And don’t give me any crap about how a whole bunch of people play with plastic cups in the music video. On the original soundtrack, this version of the song is called “Cups.” Ergo, this song is complete BS.

Unless…it’s not about plastic cups. Notice how Kendrick’s shirt is needlessly low cut in that scene? And how she’s hunched over? Either this song is complete BS, or its a big rib so that we all have an excuse to say Anna Kendrick’s “Cups.” I mean, c’mon! It’s so obvious…

2. Cycling and Bike-Riding
Bill Maher once said something to the effect of: “There is a name for people who are always wrong about everything all the time….husbands.”

I’m not a husband. But I’ve been in a relationship for three and a half years. So I’ll be there pretty soon. And as most men who’ve lived with a woman for an extended period of time know, you’ve got to savor every opportunity you have to be right about something. Because those opportunities are going to be few and far between. Granted, if I didn’t already have a pretty awesome girlfriend, I wouldn’t be posting something like this online. But here’s the story…

A few weeks ago, I got a bicycle. Nothing fancy, just an $80 bike from K-Mart.

I got myself a bicycle a few weeks ago. Nothing too impressive, just an $80 Huffy from K-Mart. I’ve been using it a lot, because it makes me feel like a kid again. Before you get your learner’s permit, your bike is basically your only mode of transportation. As opposed to skateboards, which are basically your only mode for doing flippy tricks and nearly killing yourself.

Yesterday, my girlfriend asked me to go to the corner store and pick up a gallon of milk. I opted to take my bike. She balked, saying there was no way I could do that safely, and the milk almost certainly wouldn’t make it back intact. But I insisted it could be done. My choices were the local pharmacy, which is a few blocks north of our apartment, and the local grocery store, which is about the same distance south, but required me to cross a major intersection. For safety’s sake, I picked the pharmacy.

So I buy the milk, and try to hold it in my left hand as I pedal. That doesn’t really work. Plus, my hand starts to get uncomfortably cold. So I try to slip the handbrake through the carton handle, and sort of let it hang there. It actually DID work for a little while…until it somehow slipped off and crashed on to the cement. Kablammo! The pavement gets coated like Corn Flakes.

At this point, I have three choices…

1. Return home empty handed, admitting I was wrong.
2. Return to the pharmacy to buy another gallon, explaining to the cashier that I dropped the milk.
3. Ride all the way up to the grocery store, at least doubling the overall length of my outing, to buy a new gallon, and then try to figure out a way to cross a major intersection on a bicycle while holding a gallon of milk.

The choice was clear, ladies and gentlemen. What’s weird is that she didn’t seem to notice I was gone much longer than I should have been.

This kind of thing is precisely why I differentiate between cycling and “bike-riding.” What Lance Armstrong did in the Tour de France? That’s cycling. This little dairy-themed adventure I had while crossing a major intersection on my $80 Huffy from K-Mart? Bike-riding.

3. Kaley Cuoco as Lois Lane
This week the world learned Kaley Cuoco and Man of Steel star Henry Cavill are an item off-screen, but I think they’d have made a good couple on-screen. When I reviewed that movie, I mentioned one of the things Amy Adams lacked in her portrayal of Lois Lane was some of the character’s wit and snark. If you’ve seen Cuoco on The Big Bang Theory, you know that’s not an issue for her. Just give her some black hair dye and stick her in a newspaper office, and there’s your  Lois Lane.

People continue to give Man of Steel crap for all the destruction on display during the Superman/Zod fight. I can’t necessarily blame them, as it was a little over the top. You know what might have helped a little bit? If they’d emphasized that the city had been at least partially evacuated prior to the fight. Then they could have beaten the crap out of each other, and people might have been able to suspend their disbelief a bit more. Justice League Unlimited did a fight like that with Superman and Captain Marvel (or Shazam, as he’s now known). They ended up tearing most of the city down, but because there weren’t any people around, they didn’t look quite as much like assholes.

Oddly enough, that reminds me of another Power Rangers scene. At some point during the 2005 season, a monster named (*ehem*) Shortie is smashing up the cityscape (shown at left), as PR monsters are prone to doing. As he’s wreaking havoc, the writers made a point to insert the line: “Grrrr, I hate empty buildings!”

See? If they’d just put Shortie in Man of Steel, we wouldn’t have any of this fanboy whining going on. 

Front page image from indiewire.com. Image 1 from businessinsider.com. Image 2 from espn.go.com. Image 3 from people.com.

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Blatant Insubordination: Does Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze Secretly Suck?

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze is my least favorite film in the franchise.

For most Ninja Turtle fans, that spot is easily reserved for the almost universally panned Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. I’ve talked about that movie before, but I haven’t talked much about the second film. For a lot of ’90s kids, Ooze is a treasured piece of nostalgia, every bit as synonymous with the Turtles as the old cartoon show. Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap” song even turned out to be one of his most memorable hits. But like anything else, when you watch it back as an adult and you don’t necessarily have those nostalgic glasses on, you can actually see the forest for the trees. And for me, some of those trees are pretty tough to look at.

Some people chuckle at this, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie is one of my favorite flicks. There’s an obvious nostalgia factor there too. But I just love how unapologetically dark and gritty it was. Not a psychological or suspenseful way, obviously. But things are very shadowy, and the  city looks dirty and lived in, “Pre-Giuliani” as one retro-reviewer once put it. It looked and felt like a place where an evil ninja clan could exist.

The movie was also fairly violent, considering its targeted audience. In addition to some pretty good fight choreography, there was Raphael getting dropped through a window; the floor of April’s apartment collapsing and sending everyone falling through; an electrocution which results in said apartment going up in flames; Casey Jones smashing people in the face with a hockey stick; and a man being crushed in a garbage truck after falling off a multi-story building.

Throw in some nice acting by Judith Hoag as April, Elias Koteas as Casey, and the various voice talents, and you’ve got a world which feels very threatening, yet familiar enough to be relatable. And in contrast, you’ve got your four lovable, wise-cracking  heroes. It’s not high art, but the movie is so much better than it really had any business being. It’s a kids movie that makes you forget its a kids movie.

Ooze, on the other hand, makes no bones about being a kids movie. It’s lighter, it’s jokier, it’s friendlier. And oh yeah, there’s a dance number. Tonally, it panders much more to its young audience. This is largely because some parents didn’t like how dark the first one was. That’s fair enough, I suppose. But it’s that abrupt shift from dark to light which turns me off so much.

But maybe I’m being too hard on Ooze. It is beloved by a many a fan, after all. Perhaps it simply warranted a revisit…

So that’s exactly what I gave it. And in true overanalytic fanboy fashion, I took notes. Let’s dive in.

- Despite being annoying as Keno, Ernie Reyes Jr. could kick like nobody’s business. In that sense, he was bad ass. It’s just a shame he followed this movie up with Surf Ninjas.

- You know, you’d think all these masked thugs rummaging through a toy store in New York City would have sparked a little more notice. Especially when they left the door wide open for anybody to come in. Not to mention their getaway van…

- The shots of all the New Yorkers eating pizza is a great opener. It really gets you in the mood for a old school TMNT adventure.

- Robbie Rist, a.k.a. Cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch, has some pretty funny one-liners as Michelangelo in this movie. Maybe more than the original. The best one? “Combat cold cuts!!!!” Followed moments later by: “And next time I’ll use mustard!” Just a great casting choice. You can actually hear him play the character years later in the fan film Casey Jones.

- Splinter and Shredder were also cast very well from a vocal standpoint. Kevin Clash and David McCharen were both carryovers from the first film. Clash has a really great wise old sage voice. You’d certainly never guess the guy doing that voice was also the guy voicing Elmo.

- I’m not sure I like him Shredder in purple. That color worked on him in the old cartoon, but obviously different rules apply in the live action world. For my money, the blood red suit was much better. Again, it fit with the style of the first movie. So perhaps the lighter tone merited the lighter color. But in the end the intense eyes of the live actor, James Saito, combined with the bladed garb, make up for it.

- That bit where Leo says “Now you see ‘em, now you don’t!” is actually the only time in the film he makes uses of his swords. You’d think those would have come in handy when fighting giant mutants. But nope, this is a kids movie…

- Tatsu’s voice is very obviously dubbed. He has a few more lines in this movie, in addition to his usual grunts. That’s probably why it’s more noticeable.

- David Warner (Professor Jordan Perry) is really a credit to fanboy movies like this. In addition to Ooze, he appeared in Tron, and was in two Star Trek films. He was even in Titanic! He’s also done a lot of voice-over work, including Ra’s al Ghul in Batman: The Animated Series. He really sells his scenes with Shredder, and these big ass puppets he has to work alongside.

- Supposedly, the Professor Perry character was supposed to be revealed as an Utrom, the alien race from the comic books which the Krang character was based on. But they allegedly scrapped it because they didn’t want younger viewers to confuse Perry’s character with Krang. I don’t quite understand that logic. If you’re going to go to the trouble of creating a character who looks exactly like Krang, then why not just make it Krang? Obviously most of the kids in the audience were completely oblivious to comic book elements anyway. And how cool would it have been to see Jim Henson’s Creature Shop take on everybody’s favorite talking brain? Once again, Krang gets the shaft.

- It was the same situation with Bebop and Rocksteady. Supposedly Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird didn’t want them in the movie, so the filmmakers created Tokka and Rahzar to stand in for them. What the hell is that about? Even as a I remember thinking that was pretty lame. I love Eastman and Laird as much as the next fanboy, and normally I’m all about creator’s rights. But if this was actually what happened, they should have just bitten the bullet. The 1990 movie was obviously more influenced by the comic books than the cartoon. Here, for better or worse, it’s the other way around. So just let the kids have Bebop and Rocksteady! I guess there’s no use whining about it 20 years later. And hey, at the very least we had two more familiar characters to fight in the video games…

- Speaking of which, I remember Mikey’s “Didn’t we see these guys on Wrestlemania?” line being in all the TV spots.

- Did ANY lab in the early ’90s actually look like Professor Perry’s? Seriously, how could anybody get any work done in such dim lighting? Cool set for a fight sequence though, I’ll give ‘em that. Also, how does Donny type with those huge fingers?

- Watch the part where Mike throws the thingamabob at the ooze canister in Tatsu’s hand. They either cut it REALLY close, or the canister leaves his hand before the thingamabob strikes it.

- You know, it’s been more than 20 years since this movie came out, and somehow I’m just now understanding why Shredder, who was dropped into a garbage truck at the end of the first movie, bases the Foot Clan in a junkyard in this one. That’s actually a pretty nice touch.

- So when we get to the junkyard scene, Splinter shows up and saves the Turtles with a bow and arrow, which is pretty cool. But then in the middle of the fight, he just turns and leaves. Even though his arch nemesis the Shredder, who single-handedly handed all four Turtles their green asses in the first movie, is standing there and could easily jump in the right. It’s actually kind of funny. Did he have to pee? Was Seinfeld on? Where the hell is he going?

- Speaking of Splinter, out of the three films he has the best body/costume in this one. He actually looks like a big mutated rat who’s been cleaned up and groomed a bit. One thing about the third movie I’ll never argue about is how dumb Splinter looked. Ironically, the one movie in the trilogy that the Jim Henson crew wasn’t involved in was the one where Splinter and the Turtles looked the most Muppet-like.

- The Foot may be an super-skilled clan of ninjas, but they need to work on their rope tying skills. When Don finds Professor Perry, he’s tied up with two flimsy ropes and some duct tape. Raph was tied to the stake a little bit better, but not by much. I think this technique is from the Looney Tunes school of hostage taking.

- Super Shredder wasn’t really all he was cracked up to be, was he? Yeah, he was a big monster with Kevin Nash’s body, a scary mask and some painted-on muscles. But all he did was punch out all those wooden pillars, which eventually brought down the dock. A catastrophe the Turtles survived relatively easily, but he didn’t. For all the “stupid” cracks he threw at Tokka and Rahzar, he wound up making the dumbest move in the entire movie: Drinking radioactive waste and during himself into a brainless idiot. Also…how did his mask mutate along with his body? Has anybody every been able to answer that one?

- I hate the Vanilla Ice night club scene. I really do. It’s a mutant-sized shark jump, which doesn’t even have camp appeal to me. Even as a kid, I remember being puzzled by it. It just seemed off that in the middle of this big adventure, our heroes would suddenly stop to have a choreographed dance party with a rapper with weird hair. I get that it’s supposed to be light-hearted and fun, but it just feels like cheesy pandering kicked into overdrive. It was a little bit tough to watch actually. The song is pretty catchy, I’ll give you that. And obviously this scene is something people still remember all these years later. So I guess I’ll have to settle for being in the minority on this one.

So am I being too hard on The Secret of the Ooze? Eh, maybe. The movie obviously makes people feel good by bringing back treasured childhood memories. You can’t fault it for that. But once you start looking at it as anything but nostalgia, you’re going to run into trouble. As an adult, most of the stuff I like about this movie are the carryovers from the original film. Everything else is just little things.

Maybe it’s just a matter of growing up. Or maybe it’s just that the first film was such a hard act to follow. Or maybe it was that damn Vanilla Ice. In the end, it definitely could have been worse. Heck, it could have been made by Michael Bay!

Hey…wait a second….!!!!

Front page image from doblue.com. Image 1, image 5, and image 6 from imdb.com, images 2 and 3 from tumblr.com, image 4 from the sewerden.com. Image 7 from comicbook.com.

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Blatant Insubordination: How Felicia Day Ruined My Life

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m calling you out, Felicia Day.

Oh, don’t look at me like that. Don’t give me the innocent “Who, me?” look. Don’t try the adorably quirky smile, either. And don’t try to geek your way into my heart like you’ve done to so many others with your work on The Guild. You certainly can’t melt me with your singing, which we saw in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog. None of that’s going to work this time. It’s time for you to face the music. I’m going to expose you…

What? No. This isn’t a creepy fanboy thing. Just relax, you’re going to be fine. But I am going to expose you for the usurper of justice that you are. I’m going to tell the world about the travesty that you committed in Chicago at C2E2 this weekend. And most importantly, I’m here to tell you how you ruined my life.

It all begins with me and my people skills.

I like to think I’m pretty good with keeping my cool around famous people. Through my jobs, this web site and various comic book conventions, I’ve been fortunate enough to talk to or interview a lot of people with different levels of celebrity. From Justin Timberlake to Ernie Hudson to Peter Mayhew (the guy in the Chewbacca costume) to Jared the Subway guy, I’ve mingled with my share of stars. I even got a quote from President Obama during his senator days.

Then there was the time I made Lance Bass laugh. It was an ‘N Sync meet and greet (Shut up. I was in middle school.), and I said I “did not know there were so many teenage girls in the state of Illinois.” Alright, so it wasn’t brilliant. And it was only later we learned he was gay. But he laughed, so I’m calling it a win!

In essence, I always do my best to keep my cool and not freeze up around famous people. Awkwardness and embarrassment torture me. It’s an anxiety thing I’ve got. So when I get the opportunity to meet somebody famous, I take pride in being able to talk to them like they’re regular people, and not stammer or get star struck. I’d like to think they appreciate that on some level.

But this weekend, my non-awkwardness/embarrassment streak was broken. At C2E2 in Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center, one man finally broke me. He gave me a bumbling fumbling star struck brain freeze, and left me stumbling across my mental landscape to pick up the pieces of my shattered dignity…

It was Burt Ward. Robin from the 1960s Batman show. That’s right, folks. The man who would become America’s first black president didn’t get to me, but the Boy Wonder did. If that doesn’t illustrate what a hopeless fanboy I am, I don’t know what to tell ya.

As most people know, from 1966 to 1968 Adam West and Burt Ward defined the Batman mythos for a generation (for better or worse, depending on who you ask), as they POW, WHAM, and ZAPPED their way through Gotham City’s rogues. In the process, they became American icons and staples of popular culture.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who can cite the Batman TV show as my “gateway drug” into comic books. Burt Ward helped me find something that I’m passionate about, and gives me a lot of joy. Not only that, but his unwavering exuberance in everything he did on that show accounted for much of what made it great. As great as West’s performances as Batman were, he couldn’t have sailed that ship alone. Ward deserves just as much credit for making that show what it was. So imagine my excitement when I heard Ward was attending C2E2, which is practically in my back yard!

I arrived at C2E2, anxiously awaiting the meeting of Boy Wonder and Fanboy Wonder. After combing much of the convention floor, spending way too much money on action figures, and getting autographs from the likes of Brian Wood, Ethan Van Sciver, Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, the time had arrived. I’d given myself a few hours before approaching the entertainment guest tables, so my subconscious could whip up something charming and witty to say. We were going for another Lance Bass chuckle, ladies and gentlemen. Oh yes, we were.

This is where Felicia Day comes in…

When I reached the guest tables, I saw that Robin had found himself an adversary in none other than Felicia Day. With her two million Twitter followers and uncannily crushable geek goddess appeal, Day had a line that dwarfed our hero’s. That is to say, she had between 50 and 100 people, and Ward had about five. It was still fairly early in the day, but I’d say this was a fair indicator of where the fans were going.

I met Felicia Day at Wizard World Chicago a few years ago. She’s a nice girl. I liked her in Dr Horrible, and I got her autograph for my girlfriend. I’ve got nothing against her. But with that in mind I say…who the hell is Felicia Day??? After all he’s done for our geek subculture, and American culture in general, Burt Ward should be carried into comic book conventions on one of this big…uh, throne thingies. He shouldn’t have to sit there like a chump while fans furiously flock to the fiery follicled Felicia! This was blasphemy! Where was the justice?!? Someone tell me!

So in that moment, I became justice personified. I handed my back pack to my girlfriend, made sure I had my $50 for an autographed 8X10 (I know, it is pretty steep…), and marched my way up to Burt Ward’s table. He and his agent/publicist/handler guy were just finishing up with a fan. I got up there, greeted them both, and happily asked if I could have an autograph.

In response, agent/publicist/handler guy said: “Well gee, there’s a big line right there…”

And suddenly, it was all clear. I’d made a huge mistake. That huge line I’d seen wasn’t for Felicia Day! It was a line of anxious fans waiting to meet the Boy Wonder, and pay tribute to him for his contributions to geek culture! All was right with the world!

There are a great many questions I could have asked myself to avoid what happened next. I’m going to list the top three.

1. This agent/publicist/handler guy seems like a sociable dude. Is it possible he could be joking?
2. There are a lot of 8X10s sitting there at the table. Is it possible they haven’t had many visitors?
3. If the line is for Burt Ward, why are they all standing in front of Felicia Day’s table? (This one probably would have helped the most.)

But no, none of those light bulbs went on. Instead I apologized and walked halfway back the way I came. Then I noticed no one else was stepping forward to take my place. I immediately looked back, and saw Ward and agent/publicist/handler guy laughing and waving me back.

I’d gotten a chuckle, but it certainly wasn’t for my wit.

To his credit, Ward was pretty cool about the whole thing. Agent/publicist/handler guy gave me two signed 8X10s for just $10 more. I think he knew an embarrassed sucker when he saw one, and went for the easy sale. Ward seemed to pick up on it too, and kindly asked me if I had any questions for him. I blurted something out about how it felt for Bat-Mania to have lasted this long, to which he modestly said something about it being “crazy.”

At that point I went into recovery mode. We talked a little bit about how Adam West was supposed to have been there, but pulled out due to some herniated discs in his back (ouch). I was able to stick the ending a little bit, when I told him I was disappointed by West’s absence, but his presence still made the day worth it. Later, I was able to get a photo with him.

It all worked out in the end. But the fact remains, my witty celeb encounter streak is now broken. And it’s all Felicia Day’s fault. Her adorable, geeky, entrepreneurial presence at C2E2 completely threw my game off, and now Burt Ward thinks I’m a gullable sucker. So you live with that Felicia Day. Live with yourself knowing what you did to both the Boy Wonder and the Fanboy Wonder. Think about that the next time you’re on one of your fancy schmancy Hollywood sets.

Then again, Felicia Day’s line would eventually be eclipsed by the line for none other than Jason David Frank, who you might remember as Tommy from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. Heh. Maybe justice isn’t dead after all…

Front page image from wallpapers.co.uk. Image 1 from last.fm. Image 3 from fuckyeahdickgrayson.tumblr.com. Image 4 from tvsluts.blogspot.com. Image 5 from thebrotherhoodofevilgeeks.com. Images 2 and 6 from author’s collection.
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