Sunday, July 31, 2016


AC Comics' FEMFORCE #175 has hit the scene, and gosh oh gee, is it ever a stimulating blast!!!

The historic issue features some of the finest talents on the comic scene today: Mark and Stephanie Heike; Jeff Austin; E.T. Dollman; Andrew Hawnt; Francesco Savi; Gianluca Cerritelli; Dan Gorman; Leonardo Martena; Scott Shriver; and my dear Facebook buddies, Rock Baker; Mark Holmes; and Jim Johnston. (I'm so proud to know these guys; the care and depth they invest in their artwork and/or storytelling is meticulous and heartfelt.) 

Of course, we again have those gorgeous, fighting females: Dinosaur Girl; Nightveil; Rad; She-Cat; Synn; Tara; Ms. Victory; and Zazurra. Yes, all darn good reasons to ogle and droll, but as is the FEMFORCE tradition, their tales are character-driven, with refreshing, moral slants.

Add this fun-packed issue to your collection today by visiting... 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Collectible TIme #64: DC Multiverse Suicide Squad 6" Joker and Harley Quinn; plus AMT Bat-Missile Reissue

More by accident than by plan (i.e., by wandering into my local Toys"R"Us), I purchased a couple DC Multiverse "Suicide Squad" 6" figures: The Joker and Harley Quinn.

In this instance, Jared Leto's Clown Price of Crime is represented in a spiffy, silver jacket with protruding red shirt and is equipped with elegant, purple weaponry. 

Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn is naturally shapely and in this instance, tatooed, projecting an air of comedic danger with her enclosed, buffoonish hammer.

The figures are nicely packaged and well jointed for effective posing, costing (as do most 6" Multiverse pieces) about $20 each. They also come with parts that will complete an Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje Killer Croc, but damn it, why not just offer a full Croc figure for those who desire it, instead of making folks search high and low for additional figures that always prove elusive? (I really hate this kind of catch-ya stuff. Marvel is just as guilty with its Legends line.)

To balance these new pieces, Z&Z Hobbies surprised me with an AMT reissue of the "Batman Returns" Bat-Missile kit. Originally released in '92,  the "missile" is, in truth, just the center portion of Michael Keaton's Batmobile, but it's no less an official vehicle as such. Also, as with the '89 Batwing (see "Collectible Time #61": July '16), the Bat-Missile comes with a cool backdrop for display. (The kit sells for about $30 at most retailers.)

All in all, a pretty neat Bat-trio, I must say!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I saw the Killing Joke...

Before I saw "The Killing Joke" (dished up now as an apparent "Suicide Squad" warm-up), I read it: that is, I purchased Alan Moore and Brian Bolland's '88 graphic novel. At the time, the publication was all the DC rage: a mere year before Tim Burton's "Batman", which incorporated the novel's concept of how the Joker biochemically came to be. 

The novel is considered a classic. As such, it seems strange that it's taken this long for an adaptation (animated or otherwise) to reach film.

Nonetheless, the time has finally arrived, and as with the "Dark Knight Returns" two-part animated adaptation, the big question is, does "Killing Joke", the movie, live up to its comic-book foundation? I'm happy to report--heck, yes!!!

That the film, directed by Sam Liu and adapted by Brian Azzarello, adheres to the original source is to its advantage, though it also offers an affluence of additional footage: a sort of mini-film within itself, but that's all right. Once the story gets rolling (and alas, it does take a spell), it successfully sways between terror and poignancy, just as the original story does. 

Beyond the spirited (and unique-to-the-film) Batgirl, prologue, we're finally introduced to the Joker, who's presented as an aspiring comedian, struggling to provide for his family, but turns to crime (of the Red Hood sort) to compensate for his monetary failures. However, just prior to his first, big job, he learns that his wife and unborn child were killed in a home mishap. Their deaths lead to his complete, mental breakdown and to supplement his psychological alteration, he falls into some toxic goo, and well, you know the skin-bleaching rest.

As in the novel, the movie focuses on Batman's intent to unravel his foe's origins. He visits Arkham to get the nitty-gritty (and to prevent the strong chance that one will likely kill the other someday). However, he finds a decoy in the Joker's place. Yes, the Clown Prince of Crime has escaped once again, with mayhem naturally ensuing, this time with Commissioner Gordon and his daughter, Barbara (Batgirl, of course) becoming casualties of his spree: the latter shot and the former placed in a carnival "arena", where the Joker intends to prove (primarily to Batman) how fast madness can consume one. 

The novel concludes on a demented, but gleeful note, and the film mirrors this celebrated turn. The movie's style, however, is more in tune with the '90s Batman animated series: not religiously so, but close enough to appeal to those who've yearned for a return to that style of cartoonery. Also, from the '90s series, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are back as Batman and Joker respectively, which solidifies the tense, sentimental feel. (Ray Wise and Tara Strong also do a swell job vocalizing the Gordons.)

Gordon's sideshow-based torture is undoubtedly what earned "Killing Joke" a R-rating. Personally, though, I didn't find the intensity anymore over-the-top than in other "adult" oriented, DC animated features, but perhaps the extended, insinuated nudity is what confirmed this one's designation. All the same, sissified kids won't handle any of it very well, but I don't see it proposing a problem for those youngsters whose parents actually discuss such in-depth content with them. Heck, as hard-hitting as "Killing Joke" may be, it's still a worthy morality tale: more good for the soul than bad. 

It's also a damn good character study and an appeasing escape after those "Son of Batman" in-fighting offerings. Sure, it's grim and borderline sadistic, but it's still traditional Batman, with the conflict flowing just the way it should for this particular hero and villain. No matter how one slices it, whether on the printed page or on the screen,"Killing Joke" hits the maniacal mark. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Collectible Time #63: Jesse Gutierrez Las Vampiras Print

Just received in the mail the below, signed print from my wildly artistic friend, Jesse Lalochezia Gutierrez (see Tangible Vandalism #3: June '16) : a jaw-dropping, 11" x 17" promo image for his upcoming Tales of the Barrio #9: Las Vampiras!!!

In addition to the voluptuous vixens featured, Gutierrez has staged and colored the image after the lurid posters that accompany the works of Jess Franco, Jean Rollin, Freddie Francis and Terence Fisher. Yep, this one exudes the finest elements of European, exotic, imagi-cinema.

Gutierrez was also gracious enough to include a signed copy of the black-and-white foundation piece. To say the least, I'm one happy camper. 

Once again, Gutierrez exceeds expectations with his marvelous imagination. I salute him for carrying on a most honorable and stimulating tradition.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

An Alternate Reality #13: I saw Star Trek Beyond...

The classic crew is back, but with the new-phase actors, in "Star Trek Beyond": a Simon Pegg and Doug Yung scripted alternate-reality installment, directed by "Fast and Furious" maestro, Justin Lin and produced by masterful emulator, J.J. Abrams.

Back to the stars are Chris Pine as Captain James T. Kirk; Zachary Quinto as Mr. Spock; Karl Urban as Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy; Zoe Salanda as Nyota Uhura; Pegg as Montgomery Scott; John Cho as Hikaru Sulu; and the late Anton Yelchin as Pavel Chekov.

The new offering goes as follows: The Enterprise is attacked by mysterious, swarming crafts after answering a distress call. Lizard-like entities board the ship in search of a mysterious artifact, causing Kirk and crew to crash-land on a new world. There the dictatorial, energy-sucking saurian named Krall (Idris Elba) demands receipt of the object, while Kirk and crew are split up, trying to make sense of it all. They eventually rejoin, gaining an ally in the form of sexy black/white-striped Jaylah (Sophia Boutella), who's skilled at fighting, despises Krall and just so happens to know the whereabouts of an old starship.

There's plenty of hide-and-seek throughout, but the story is best classified as one of who-will-win-and-how. Also, for all of its skirmishes and lightning-fast chases, "Beyond" is predominately a planet-based adventure, where the main characters take turns stepping into the spotlight to push the plot along. The formula helps mount the suspense, as we wonder when the artifact will be revealed and what secret it holds. 

Pegg/Yung's script makes this chapter separate (in a sense) from its already established, refashioned history. In other words, we don't have anything akin to the destruction of Vulcan here, or a twisting on the "Space Seed"/"Wrath of Khan" story line. This is a stand-alone entry by design, designated to a new, franchise stretch, which only those-in-the-know will recognize, though a few nods to the original cast can't be denied. Nonetheless, if slipped into the ongoing, classic "Trek" amateur-series structure, this one would work without much modification.

I guess that's a good thing, but the question remains whether "Beyond" unequivocally captures the Roddenberry spirit. After all, some say the previous, two films are more action-oriented ("Star Wars" geared, that is) than philosophically bent, the way we normally think of "Trek".

One can debate the matter till the cows come home, but in some ways, "Beyond" captures the best of both worlds, with gritty zest and an interesting concept, which features old an new characters to appeal to old and new fans. Does its set-up make a sociological statement the way it should? Not really, but I suppose that all depends on how the content strikes one. That it steps away from its prior alternate-reality chapters seems to work to its advantage, and my hunch is, such will please those who aren't keen on the previous "Mirror Mirror" variations. 

Whether audiences get used to the new design (to the point where it no longer matters) is yet to be seen, but if "Beyond" falters, there's no need to fret. "Trek" isn't perishing anytime soon. If this incarnation doesn't blaze the trail farther, than there are others on the horizon that will. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Collectible Time #62: Polar Lights King Kong '33 and Wizard of Oz Wicked Witch '39

My friends at Z&Z Hobbies attained two Polar Lights specialties for me: pre-painted editions of the resin Willis O'Brien/Marcel Delgado "King Kong vs T-Rex" and "The Wizard of Oz"/Margaret Hamilton Wicked Witch of the West. 

Both pieces are marvels to behold, as evidenced by the featured photos. 

The 9" Kong diorama captures the mighty ape's fury (and superiority) over the ferocious (and in this case, defunct) Tyrannosaurus. The model was sculpted by Gabriel Marquez, who depicts "long face" Kong's chest-pounding intensity to the point where one can practically hear his victorious roar. 

This one is a remarkable achievement, and though pricier than most Polar Lights entries (running about $150), it's a bargain compared to similar Kong kits. 

On the more whimsical side, the 8.5", David Wilson sculpted Wicked Witch salute not only features Margaret Hamilton's iconic likeness, but one of her cute, winged monkeys; and within her crystal ball, there are figures of Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow and Tin Man, as they trek down the Yellow Brick Road. (Incidentally, one has the option to display the Wicked Witch with her broom; also, like Kong, the Oz entry costs about $150.)

Both models have been painted with delicacy and require only minor assembly. (Raw resin editions are also available.)

Considering that Polar Lights has previously offered a superb, resin "Alien"/Executive Officer Kane diorama (see Collectible Time #43: Oct '15), I wonder if the company may not produce more advance-modeler/pre-painted kits. If so, it would be a fun to see what other movie eras and characters it covers. If what exists currently is any indication, we're likely to experience some impressive additions. 

Saturday, July 16, 2016


AFTER HOURS: Episode 2 is now available for viewing on YouTube.

Perhaps you caught my initial assessment of Michael and Jennifer Ferentino's experimental-music series (June '16), where I praised its retro-MTV aura and anthology-show format. 

I'm pleased to report that Episode 2 offers the same wondrous, arcane ingredients, with Mr. Ferentino's sophisticated presence standing in for Rod Serling, John Newland and Alfred Hitchcock, as he introduces some of the most innovative examples of sight, sound and mind available today. 

This particular installment caters to Raffaele Pezzella's Sonologyst: the fabulous content of which jives with Bedtime for Robots and Tangerine Dream. In this regard, Pezzella's presented audio works come across as stimulating and in their own offbeat way, relaxing. Also, the flashing/pulsating visuals fit the stirring sounds: snippets of mad dreams caught on film, if you will. On this basis,  AFTER HOURS demonstrates that Sonologyst stands as a mind-bending force to be reckoned with and above all, revisited whenever a hankering for the unique and peculiar should surface. 

Episode 2 also features a Bedtime for Robots short called "Home": disquieting in its atmospheric (and horror-based) complexity. Trust me on this: Just for the raw imagery alone, this graceful "nightmare" will stay with you long after you've viewed it. (To accompany such, there's also the smashing inclusion of Ferentino's marvelously demented "Motorcycle Death Song" to accentuate the esoteric mood.)

Indeed, as far as new programs go, AFTER HOURS is hands down the best going on YouTube or any other source today. Check out the June and July entries when you have the chance. Your brainwaves will never be the same: good reason to rejoice!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Collectible Time #61: AMT Michael Keaton Batwing Reissue

AMT has reissued one of its most popular entries: the Batwing from Tim Burton's '89 "Batman" film adaptation, starring Michael Keaton.

The stylish plane figured greatly into the blockbuster, particularly in the classic scene where it ascends before the moon to make an inadvertent Bat Signal. 

The finely detailed kit is an impressive 14" x 10" x 2.5" and features a Keaton Caped Crusader in its cockpit. It also contains a handy base and atmospheric backdrop for display purposes. (The redesigned box artwork is also pleasing.) 

The kit, which I picked up at trusty Z&Z Hobbies, is a swell way to commemorate Batmania, which never really faded from the '60s, though the Burton/Keaton incarnation certainly swung the fervor toward yet another eager, pop-cultural spurt, which in turn led to other eager phases over the decades.

The Batwing reissue, which goes for about $25-$30 through most retailers, is rumored to be selling fast, so grab one while they last.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Here it is, folks: my pulp-hero, adventure novel from Airship 27: 

Trouble in Brink Town--It is 1938 in Brink Town, NJ, and a mayoral campaign is underway. What the citizens are unaware of is that their little hamlet has become the target of a demonic cult known as the Ministry of Chaotic Command and they are sponsoring a candidate who is in actuality a demonic being. But before the servants of evil can unleash their horror, Brink Town's leading businessman, Michael Mansford, is spirited away to a mystical realm that exists between life and death. There he is recruited as an angel of the Light by a supernatural being calling himself Mr. Surrogate. Surrogate bestows upon Mansford a magical golden mask. Upon donning this grim false-face, Mansford is transformed into a powerful mystic who will become known as the Persona. His task, to expose Hell's secret invasion, and defeat the Demon Monster that threatens all he loves and holds dear. But can he succeed? To do so he will have to sublimate his own identify and become this new and relentless warrior, THE PERSONA.

The novel is graced by the above cover artwork by Shannon Hall, interiors by Art Cooper and a back-cover design by Rob Davis.

For those interested, the novel is now available for purchase in paperback at   

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


Work continues on my pulp-hero novel, "The Persona" (aka, "Enter--the Persona!"), soon to be released through Airship 27 Productions. However, to tide you over, here's a shot of Rob Davis' excellent back cover!!!

Darn chilling, isn't it?

Monday, July 4, 2016


You were my first Lois Lane and whenever I think of you, I conjure the sweetest, most carefree memories. Please say hello to Kirk, George and Jack for me!

Friday, July 1, 2016

I saw Tarzan's Return...

"The Legend of Tarzan" is bold and brazen in its supreme rawness: a sequel/companion piece to all the Tarzan tales that have come before, which remains faithful to its Edgar Rice Burrough's roots. Above all, it proves that Tarzan doesn't need to combat a fellow good guy like the Phantom or Jungle Jim to remain relevant in this impetuous, clash-of-ideologies age.

Directed by David Yates, from a script by Craig Brewer and Adam Cozad, the new Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) is found comfortably occupying the role of gentleman John Clayton III, Lord Greystoke, but this man of extraordinary strength and high intellect has never abandoned his primal foundation. The proof comes via sentimental recollection and effective, simian-laden flashbacks (where Christian Stevens and Rory Saper's young Tarzans fill the bridges), establishing just enough retelling to give one insight into Tarzan's past, while never expanding it into a full-fledged retelling.

In this particular chapter, Tarzan is lured back to the jungle by the invitation of Belgium's King Leopold II to witness (and endorse) the "charitable" manner in which he's transformed the Congo. Tarzan, however, is wary of accepting the offer, but when the conscientious Consul General George Washington Williams, a character based on the real-life Civil War hero/writer, informs him of the actual exploitation occurring in the area, the jungle lord decides to go along for the ride, reluctantly taking his beautiful, American-breed wife, Jane (Margot Robbie), even though he knows the danger involved. 

The latter comes in the form of Leon Rom (Christoph Waltz), based on the real-life, Belgium soldier known for his sadistic ways, who hopes to hand Tarzan over to the vengeful Chief Mbonga (Dijimon Hounsou) in trade for diamonds. When Rom manages to kidnap Tarzan, Washington helps him escape, but that doesn't stop our villain from trying again. He grabs Jane and uses her as bait, leading Tarzan and Williams on a perilous trek to get her back, while in the process trying to break Rom's imperialistic expansion. 

The story isn't much more complicated than this, but through its simplicity, it shines, even mimicking aspects of Burrough's initial literary sequel, "The Return of Tarzan", along the way. It also covers a common conflict that one will find in any number of previous Tarzan movies, particularly the Johnny Weissmuller, Lex Barker and Gordon Scott chapters. It also instills the idyllic ambiance of Hugh Hudson's "Greystoke: the Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes", at least in its British-based and flashback passages. 

"Legend" also holds its own with the best of modern thrill rides. For one, Tarzan's vine-swinging sequences are dizzying and energetic, and though they do smack of computerized enhancement, they drive home the ape man's unparalleled strength and endurance. To strengthen these sequences, Skarsgard's physique makes Tarzan's preternatural athleticism credible. To boot, he's equally believable in the animal team-up scenes and an ideal match for Robbie's goddess-like beauty, which is culled straight from Burrough's 1912 novel.

Waltz, of course, is an excellent villain, as he's proven in such past roles, particularly in the Bond epic, "Spectre", injecting sophistication into his meanness and possessing a memorable spider-silk rosary as his weapon of choice. 

Jackson's Williams is also a great addition to the film: a Bass Reeves, cowpoke type, who's handy with a gun and respectful of the land in which he roams. He matches Tarzan and Jane's ethical stance to a tee: a supporting character initially, who eventually becomes an amicable lead. 

Above all, what makes Yate's take so impressive is that, by hook or by crook, the movie taps straight into Burroughs's pulse, allowing Tarzan to embody the best extremes of the human condition: a seamless combination of man and god, just as the author intended. 

The film isn't without its flaws, however. Skarsgard's Tarzan sports pants throughout ninety-nine percent of the film, instead of his traditional loincloth. The bad guys also get the upper hand on him in an early sequence and later (as well as in a related flashback), so does a great ape--utter bull! The film loses a point for these missteps, but otherwise, the story re-establishes a straight-forward standard that filmmakers should use when reintroducing old favorites. ("Spider-man: Homecoming" producers take note!)

Whether this particular Tarzan makes a splash at the box office isn't so much what's important. It's the respect devoted to its lead character (and his majestic mate) that counts. Anyone who loves Tarzan will appreciate the care poured into the production, but even modern actioneers won't be let down. This one covers the bases well: a delightful film for viewers of all varying persuasions.