Friday, November 24, 2017


Mike Wise’s book, “I Always Take the Time to See”, may, in fact, seem too idyllic on the surface for “bizarrechats”, but I disagree. My posts are designed for products that spark the imagination and allow one to view life from various angles. “I Always Take the Time to See” does precisely that and more.  

Wise supplies both the text and images for his uplifting excursion and with each page captures (if I may be so comparatively bold) the contagious spirit of Charles G. Finney’s “The Circus of Dr. Loa”. The book instructs us, therefore, to take nothing for granted and to see the good Lord's blessings in all instances, even among those little, creepy-crawling manifestations that inhabit life's flower-fringed nooks and crannies.

The book’s rhythmic procession is primarily geared toward children, with Wise’s tour of the insect and worm worlds holding a distinct, parental air, but his elegant narrative will also lead adults to acknowledge those otherwise skipped-over miracles which reside right under their noses.

Wise’s paintings are an absolute joy to behold: brimming of rich pigments and populated by the fascinating specimens he exalts. Such imagery motivates the reader to appreciate the author's lovely philosophy even further.    

I've known Wise for a few years now and have become a fan of his poetry, but had no notion until recently that he had published such a tender essay. I’m actually baffled why his comforting creation hasn’t gained more exposure, but I do hope you’ll be wise enough to buy Wise's book. You, your children and grandchildren will treasure it for years to come: a guaranteed inspiration that will open your eyes to God's wee wonders each and every day.

"I Always Take the Time To See" is available for purchase at ...  

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Craig Manga's experimental, electronic surges are most invigorating, uplifting and on occasion, disturbing. They'd likely give the Frankenstein Monster a hardy jolt, not only via sound, but in the pure monsterized emotions they instill. 

Under the heading, Mangabros, Manga's compositions are, in truth, culled from a cloaked narrative, which (per what the artist has whispered in my ear) deals with a mysterious man devoid of memory, fingerprints, hair or eyes. However, he does sport a cryptic, crimson "Z" on his chest. I think it's safe to say he wasn't slashed by Zorro, but all the same, what is he (and this emblem) exactly? Is he a branded, zombie variant, perhaps? No, he must be more than that (and more than just some big, fat "zero"), but if he belongs among us, what's his purpose ... his plan... his reason for being? 

I suppose, it's anyone's guess (though I ponder what "Z" might be if it were turned on its side--hint, hint), but if one digs deep enough into Mr. Z's genesis, one will discover that he crawled from out a nuclear-test site and as a consequence of that radioactive plunge, gained luminous properties, including a most peculiar type of sperm (oh, my!). 

Not much is known of the woman with whom he choose to fornicate (whether she was willing or adverse to his advances). Nonetheless, the two conceived a most remarkable daughter, Nada, yet unborn, but with the uncanny ability to transmit reveries into our world: some spiritual; some solid; some part of our mad, shared psyche. When one listens to Deepfleshred, one is, I believe, absorbing the results of Nada impetuous fancies.  

Incidentally, the Mr. Z/Nada mythology was introduced by Manga in Soulcoalblack and will be ultimately continued in Shivacrowback next year, but for the glorious here and now, Manga's father/daughter dynamic sways both ways with his latest, Deepfleshred, which acts as a two-part epic: one called "Mars", the other "Venus". 

No matter which edition one listens to, the tracks create images as creatively radioactive as those of father/daughter: visions reminiscent of '50s cinema, where colossal men and beasts roamed the hills and streets, causing as much delight as they did panic. Wasn't that the underlying intent of those jubilant, science-gone-wrong movies, anyway? Well, that's the way Manga's lyrics and music make me feel ... perceive ... imagine.

The "Mars" entries arguably represent a harsher (perhaps more pessimistic) view than those of "Venus". As I listened, I initially imagined the plasma-pumping, tendril-flopping anomalies of "Akira" mating with the psychedelic tones and freakish inhabitants of "Angry Red Planet". That need to break free, therefore, to spread beyond one's confines, to crawl from out one's restrictive space (to get back home, while knowing there is none), became a suffocating sensation. 

Eventually, my perceptions changed to something more or less earthbound. It was from this point that I envisioned a parade of H-Men and Human Vapors, their hazy heads hung low in shackled sadness and defeat, fading only to make room for a queue of gargantuan manifestations, which tracked our dear Mr. Z from out the shiny slime. I marched along with these Atom Age misfits, vicariously experiencing their rage as they crushed and mutilated anyone who dared stand in their lumbering (though ill-fated) path.

For what it's worth, the "Venus" entries are no less haunting, but in their placid, "Twin Peaks" styling, they offer a promise for harmonious weirdness: compatible, soothing songs that spark an ebbing of numbed consciousness and of course, their countering deviations. Think of pretty Mothra, on either a good or bad day, wings flapping, fairies singing, buildings crashing melodiously onto the crumbling ground. That's what Deepfleshred's "Venus" invokes: a beautiful shell, but with a hard, cruel heart, just itchin' to crack.

In fueling these emotional concepts, Manga's creations are accompanied by visiting artists/singers/performers: Glen Manga; Paul Manga; Johnny Manga; Tim Manga; Jim Beaulieu; Jade Lee Saxelby; Yiki Tong; Rachel Gaskin-Whitrod; Kami Hall; Cheryl Janzen; Hanna Yli-Tepsa; Jumble Hole Clough; Microchip; and Lee Saxelby. Also on board, supplying much of the meat and potatoes, are Ian Cahill; Colin Robinson; Belial Pelegrim; Marina Vesic; John Ellis; Joshua Pearson; Harold Nono; Uncle Pops and the Dumbloods; Will Foster; John Peacey; and Michael Ferentino (of Bedtime for Robots), whom my readers know from previous reviews (e.g., "Filthy Gods in the Age of Exquisite Machines": Oct '17). These exemplary musicians and vocalists maximize Manga's fantastic flair for the dramatic, much in the way that Rod Serling's supplemental writers did for "Twilight Zone". The result--nothing short of sublime.

Beyond question, Manga's "Mars" and "Venus" complement each other to make one marvelous whole, but at the same time each subtitle stands as an individual journey. Their linking atmospheres, however, present a symbolic view of all the fleshy fringes and bloody holes that malformed monsters make. It's a mammoth concoction that's layered, shredded and displayed for all to enjoy in that special, Andy Warhol way. In other words, Deepflashred is a wicked work of art, placed before us on a large, silvery plate, waiting to be devoured by our eager interpretations, but throughout it all, it's still art, no matter how one slices, dices or labels it. 

I believe Manga would embrace this point of view, for his double-set offerings are too varied to pigeonhole, even with the guiding Mr. Z/Nada narrative. No matter how one consumes the contents, Deepfleshred and its audible mutants are ideal for anyone anchored by eclectic taste or a yearning to escape. So prick up your ears and extend a clammy hand: Mr. Z and Nada are more than happy to take you along their mystic ride. 

Deepfleshred's "Venus" can be downloaded today at ...

The "Mars" portion will make its debut on Black Box Recordings  on Dec 1:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

I saw the Justice League...

Questions regarding "Justice League'"s critical outcome have been discussed, predicted and debated over the past few months. People have wondered if the film would be as polarizing as “Batman v Superman” or as charming as this summer’s leading blockbuster, “Wonder Woman?” Others have speculated on whether it would be dark and brooding in the Chris Nolan vein or light and/or soap-opera-ish like CW’s television shows. Directed by both Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon, “Justice League” turns out to be a union of nearly all these things and isn't in the least bit polarizing. Well, okay, that's just the sound of wishing thinking, but still...

When it comes to villainy, however, we're dealing with the straight-and-narrow again, thanks to Ciaran Hinds' chilling, Lucifer-like Steppenwolf (CGI-enhanced pursuer of world-conquering boxes), who intends (as if we couldn't guess) to dominate the world. We've witnessed his coming through Bruce Wayne's "Batman v Superman" premonitions, of course; and with this larger-than-life villain comes a horde of larger-than-live, locust-like demons. There are so many, in fact, that it would prove hard, if not impossible, for any superhero/metahuman alliance to overtake them; and yet our champions are ever determined to bring the invaders down. 

The cast is familiar and effective: Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman; Gal Gadot s Diana Prince/Wonder Woman; Erza Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash; Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman; Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg; and (yep, here it comes!) Henry Cavill as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman. I don't believe I'm spoiling anything by acknowledging the Man of Steel's return. Warner Brothers hasn't in the least tried to conceal the Kryptonian's Christ-like return. It's more a matter of exactly how he re-enters that counts, but I won't spoil that juicy tidbit here. (BTW: a number of supporting characters also return: Amy Adams as Lois Lane; Jeremy Irons Alfred Pennyworth; Diane Lane as Martha Kent; and Joe Morton as Silas Stone. They're joined by new members J.K. Simmons as Jim Gordon; Billy Crudup as Henry Allen; and Amanda Heard as Mera.)

At any rate, all of the film's predominating, saw-it-coming/old-turf stuff doesn't make or break the story one iota. You see, “Justice League” isn’t merely another superhero teaming, but rather the story of sought redemption, particularly on Wayne’s part, but also a story of guilt, again on Wayne’s part (and in a precise Judus-based way, I might add). The script, penned by Chris "Batman v Superman" Terrio and "Marvel Avenger'"s Whedon, spews an almost religious zeal in its hope that Superman will gain his predestined, second coming and from there, help the league save the world from Steppenwolf's explosive, demonic possession.

Beyond the Biblical allegory, the film stresses the importance of individuality coupled with partnership. Oh, yeah, folks, one can still shine as an individual and help a greater cause without slipping into some Nazi-ish, conformist shade of gray. (Sorry, snowflakes, but that’s just the truth of the matter, but then those of your myopic ilk aren’t apt to view “Justice League”, even though you damn well should.) 

With these elements acknowledged, “Justice League” is, above all, a fun film. It still may be dark in its heart, but on the whole, it reflects its character mix. Batman is anguished and brooding; Wonder Woman, warmly glowing; Flash, a spree of crimson glee; Cyborg, shiny yet gritty; Aquaman, redesigned for sure, but when he bursts from out of the sea, soothing and calm. The styles of the two directors (though more an accident than a get-go intent) lends wonderful variance to the adventure, with some parts in tune with “Batman v Superman” and others reflecting the breeziness of most Avengers movies.  

The wavering styles also act as (if I may be so flag-wavingly bold) a reflection of the United States. I realize that may strike some as corny, but U.S. inhabitants are, in fact, part of a big melting pot, or make that a great, experimental salad, wherein each morsel holds a different flavor, but under the blanketing dressing, each tastes equally good. And “Justice League (of America)”, for all of its insinuated patriotic and religious seasoning, is exceptionally delicious. 

On another level, “Justice League” echoes an older and more admirable form of storytelling. The holier-than-thou, “social justice” writers of current DC and Marvel will surely degrade the film, since they've already taken contemptuous pride in dismissing all the fine attributes that once made their companies so inspiring. 

On the other hand, some "fans" will simply reject "Justice League" without even seeing it, assuming it's hip and cool to do so. A number of folks (mostly adolescents) will be too timid to give it a shot. Others will view it, but in the aftermath claim it's either too dark or light. Personally, I see the film as striking a swell balance, but enjoyed the experience mainly because I became involved with its heartfelt, human concerns. (Danny Elfman's score is also a blessing, considering that he incorporates traces of his Burton/Batman theme throughout. Ah, nostalgia!)

So, say what you will about good ol' "Justice League". Even persuade others to avoid it, if you want. No matter the result, it's here to stay and who knows? Maybe, by golly, if those dandy, post-credits sequences are any indication of the shape of things to come, it'll spawn a few sequels. Now, wouldn't that be somethin' to discuss, predict and debate? 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Strap in and prepare for takeoff, folks...Airship #27's latest podcast (Nov '17) is set to soar; and in the tradition of those wonderful installments that have come before, this one is sure a great listen!!!

The episode contains terrific tidbits on such Airship 27 publications as Greg Hatcher's weird tale of western sorcery, "Silver Riders", plus the upcoming "Mystery Men (and Women) Vol 5". 

In addition, Captain Ron Fortier and Chief Engineer Rob Davis chat about their soon-to-be-released "Secret Agent X" comic, "Race with the Devil", which will be published by Davis' Redbud Studio. Also, exciting, new Radio Archives titles are referenced, discussed and praised. (Ron and Rob even plunge into a neat, little tangent on "Sea Hunt", which gives the episode further, nostalgic glee.)

Tune in now at ... 

You're in for an entertaining and edifying trip!!!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


The Punisher: Vigilante Vengeance Hits Netflix!!!

I’ve always felt a connection to those who punish villainy, especially those who seek revenge because they've lost their families and perhaps for a time, their will to live because of it. That these broken souls are able to conjure the determination to pick themselves up, pursuing truth and justice in spite of their deep, dark woe, makes them all the more endearing to me.

Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson fall into that category; so does Mad Max Rockatansky. And then of course, there’s Frank Castle: the skull-chested Punisher, whose bereaving pain leads him to put his life on the line so that others may live. 

As fans know, Castle lost his loved ones to a system that allowed villainy to thrive with impunity, at least for spell. Castle set forth to remedy that wrong and boy, did he ever succeed. 

Now, Jon Bernthal takes on the role of Gerry Conway, Ross Andru and John Romita Sr.'s famed vigilante in Netflix's latest, Marvel online series. To reinforce its chances for success, it's produced by Steve "Hannibal" Lightfoot: an ideal choice for Marvel's most brooding character and an actor as intense as Bernthal.

Bernthal gave a stunning performance as Castle in “Daredevil: Season 2”--and was equally stunning in “The Walking Dead”, “Mob City” and just about every other production he’s occupied. He has that rare talent for conveying rage, guilt and sadness (often at the same time). Castle's time in Afghanistan will also be referenced in this solo-titled outing, and no doubt Bernthal will make such count with incensed precision.  

Bernthal is joined by a number of quality, supporting performers, including Deborah Ann Woll  as “Daredevil’”s Karen Page; C. Thomas Howell as Carson Wolf; Amber Rose Revah as Dina Madani; Daniel Webber as Lewis Walcott; Jason R. Moore as Curtis Hoyle; Michael Nathanson as Sam Stein; Ebon Moss-Bachrach as David Lieberman/Micro; Jamie Ray Newman as Sarah Lieberman; Paul Schulz as the adversarial (William) Rawlins; and Ben James as the belligerent Billy Barnes/Jigsaw (a character previously portrayed by Dominic West in Lexi Alexander's "Punisher: War Zone"). 

For better or worse, Netflix has stayed secretive about whom Castle will combat beyond (or in addition to) Rawlins and Jigsaw, but so be it. We’re sure to find the main culprits, as well as any possible cohorts, comparable to those real-life cretins we read about or see on the evening news: you know, the types who get off the hook (or receive lame excuses from the snowflake sect) for their godforsaken atrocities. Unfortunately, we may not be able to fix or erase what these loathsome perpetrators perform, but in a symbolic turn, the Punisher can; and we'll experience it all through Bernthal's aggressive actions. 

I predict "Punisher" will be a stand-out for Netflix, though considering the Marvel adaptations it's fashioned thus far, it only goes to reason. 

"Punisher" begins November 17, with all thirteen episodes loaded for our immediate and unapologetic indulgence. Awright!!!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Collection Recommendation #11: Batman '66 Meets Wonder Woman '77

An on-screen teaming of Adam West's Batman, Burt Ward's Robin and Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman wouldn't have been so far-fetched a few decades back. A couple of Justice League/DC video-taped team-ups featuring West and Ward had become a reality in the '70s (remember Hanna-Barbera's "Legend of  the Superheroes"?); and "Wonder Woman", like West/Ward's classic series, was known to invite big-name stars to the show and sprinkle it with good-spirited camp. Of course, if the crossover had occurred, it would have likely taken place in "Wonder Woman'"s third (Disco Era) season, though a crafty flashback could have connected the earlier periods. 

For what it's worth, such a crossover has reached fruition, and it even features an intriguing, time-linking prelude. "Batman '66 Meets Wonder Woman '77" is a 6-issue collection now available in one, easy-to-grab, affordable (hardback) volume, but to the chagrin of some, the content may prove as peculiar as it's fulfilling.

In this instance, writers Marc "Bruce Wayne: the Road Home" Andreyko and Jeff "Batman '66 Meets the Man from U.N.C.L.E." Parker give us the more recent Dark Knight adversary, Ra's al Ghul, who rejuvenates himself within the legendary Lazarus Pit to resume his post as League of Shadows guru. Along the way, he faces Bruce Wayne, whom he first met during the crime fighter's youth: circa WWII, when Diana Prince/Wonder Woman just happened to be on hand to rescue the youngster. (BTW: the latter initiates a surprising, new genesis for the Caped Crusader.)

Yes, an interesting concept, which does click for the most part, except the look and texture feels post '90s even when we're in the '40s, '60s and '70s, with characters sometimes appearing in tune with their original stations, yet at other times stepping from out molds that are far too extrapolated.

For example, though Ward's Boy Wonder consumes most of the plot, he's replaced (er, that is, becomes) Nightwing in the story's final phase. Whether Ward is, in fact, supposed to be playing the "matured" crime fighter is anybody's guess, since the depicted costume and height variance thwarts a precise impression. One's imagination is left to decide the matter, though for most of us, the idea of recasting would seem illogical, if not undignified. Clarity (via physical emulation or prevailing verbiage) would have helped. 

Also, though West's Bruce Wayne/Batman is represented by an apt likeness, Carter's Diana Prince/Wonder Woman does seem to fluctuate throughout the adventure (as she does in DC/Dynamite's "Wonder Woman '77 Meets the Bionic Woman": soon to be reviewed). At the same time, there's no mistaking the actress' enchanting glow, even when her physicality is blurred. In fact, the mighty Amazon's placement among the panels becomes the team-up's predominate highlight. 

On the whole, therefore, the artwork of David Hahn (as assisted by Karl Kesel; Bill Williams; Wes Abbot; Alex Ross; and "Madpencil") wavers in its execution, though when it counts, never fails to give the exploits a movie-serial vivacity, no matter what the decade. Fans will also appreciate the parade of supplemental characters who visit the panels: some in significant supporting roles and others relegated to cameos.

On the side of virtue, we find Batgirl (an implied, older Yvonne Craig) and Catwoman (okay, her virtue is debatable): at first represented by a villainous Eartha Kitt, who's then replaced by a Julie Newmar/Lee Meredith variant, acting at one point as the Dynamic Duo's for-appearance-only escort to Paradise Island. There's also a sprightly visit from Deborah Winger's Wonder Girl. 

Alas, as a missed-opportunity, Lyle Waggoner's Steve Trevor comes and goes, with any resemblance to the actor being at best minor. A definitive take would have made the performer's inclusion more ironic, since Waggoner was, after all, West's main competitor to portray Batman.

On the henchmen side, we're offered Ra's Al Ghul's daughter, Talia (both in adult and child form); Cesar Romero's Joker; Frank Gorshin's Riddler; and nondescript (though highly detailed) versions of Mr. Freeze; Killer Croc; Clayface; Copperhead; and Cheetah: a grand group for sure, though again, the modern manifestations often distract from the nostalgic feel. In other words, their appearances within their particular landscapes are welcome, but still present an uncanny-valley awkwardness.

In a similar fashion, the story's sprawling backdrops and intricate interludes seize one's attention with their mythological monsters, assailing warriors and CinemaScope maze, but are otherwise a bit much, contradicting what the original shows could have afforded during their runs. (On second thought, such ingredients could have been featured way-back-when, but would have been nowhere near as lustrous as they're drawn and pigmented within this parallel track.)

Again, such see-sawing forces "Batman Meets Wonder Woman" to stand as something other than its intent, which becomes further punctuated by its slick '70s segment. On the other hand, compared to most current, published superhero sojourns (whether DC or Marvel), the adventure avoids becoming condescending or politically highbrow. In that respect, even if the conceptualization seems more a thing of its own, in heart and soul, it does capture the originals' moral sensibilities: an honorable asset. 

On the whole, there's enough good (even well-crafted cleverness) in "Batman Meets Wonder Woman" to pave the way for more DC/Dynamite decades-hopping experimentation. The ending sure implies a Justice League emergence; so why not tinker with the various crossover potentials? It's always nice, too, to see our old favorites interacting again, if not on the television screen, then at least on the printed page, where (no matter the outcome) an imaginative seed can always take root. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

I saw Thor: Ragnarok...

"Thor: Ragnarok" is a blast--a blast, that is, for its video-arcade colors and surreal structure, more a dream than other Marvel movies, with the exception of, perhaps, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1-2" and "Doctor Strange". It's also amusingly austere and damn gusty in its adult sensibilities: a commendable contrast to the competing samplings of lame, juvenile magic and bad-is-good, playset antics that Hollywood has tried to force upon us within the past year. 

This new Thor journey, directed by Taika Waititi and scripted by Eric Pearson, resumes with Tom Hiddleston's Loki disguised as Anthony Hopkins' Odin. The once-epilogue springboard doesn't last long, steering us to the real story at hand: hellish Hela, the Goddess of Death (Cate Blanchet), seizing control of Asgard; and to rid herself of the competition, she uses high-powered sorcery to dispel her foes (by accident or plan) to fight in a distant junkyard arena. Jeff Goldblum's Grandmaster, a clever cross between Willie Wonka and Ming the Merciless, oversees the deadly matches, and at one point (as those who've caught the trailers know), the Mighty Thor and the Incredible Hulk go toe to toe. 

Much of the film's charm stems from the interaction between Chris Hemsworth's Thor and Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner/Hulk, whether they're clobbering each other or saving each other's butts. When these titans go at it, the screen adapts a psychedelic, raucous zeal that not even the most uninhibited, freewheeling graphic novels can surpass. In fact, their contentious collaboration returns us to those glorious Marvel days when the two swapped punches without apology or threat of cry-baby critique, but not before we experience heaps of crazy glitz. 

The precise (mis)steps leading to how Thor, Hulk and (for that matter) Loki enter the Hela's imposed conflict matters little, for the circumstances are comically convenient. As an unofficial "Spartacus" derivative, it's the fighting that counts in this torrential spree, which consumes about ninety percent of the tale and projects the Norse prophesy of Ragnarok: the end to everything. But fear not: Character development bridges the mayhem. Though "Ragnarok" may look and feel like an old, violent video game, it never skimps on substance. In other words, fans of "The Matrix" sequels may not be thrilled with the results; but those who fancy "Winter Soldier" and "Logan" should be satisfied.

Perhaps more than in previous Avenger adventures, "Ragnarok" becomes Hemworth's most hammering jaunt. He carries the film with brawny deftness and humble class, making him perfect for the fair-haired god. Though his interaction with Ruffalo's Banner/Hulk is the highlight, Hemsworth's affable aura also connects with several other characters, particularly Hiddleston's Loki. 

With that said, Hiddleston once more brings a cogent mischievousness to his scenes, just as Hopkins supplies his essential air of regal wisdom as Odin. Respectful nods must also go to Idris Elba as visionary Heimdall; Karl Urban as the reluctant Executioner; and let's not overlook Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange, who gives "Ragnarok" just enough manly mysticism to make his brevity important to the plot. 

Of course, the fellas aren't alone in dictating the tale's terms. Blachett's Hela is breathtaking, though rather in a dominatrix, Sarah Douglas/Ursa sort of way; and Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie is an equal sight for sore eyes. Those who might object to sexy babes in tight-fitting outfits (even if they're represented as strong and/or resourceful) may take issue with "Ragnarok'"s eye candy, but for those of unpretentious, open-minded tastes, these feisty gals add to the fun in more ways than one. 

Hey, folks, this ain't Shakespeare, any more than the "Guardians" movies are; but like those wonderful, intergalactic escapades, Thor's latest, big-budget exploit hits all the rapturous marks: a good, ol' two-fisted, transcendental action flick, and as such, one of the year's irrefutable best, no matter what the comparison or category.