Friday, July 19, 2019
Growing up, the members of Brothascomics all really enjoyed pro wrestling. Like we really enjoyed it. In the days before the internet and the Monday Night Wars, wrestling was only what you saw on tv. Yeah, we kinda had an idea that the outcomes were predetermined, but that really didn't matter. We really just loved seeing our favorite characters on Saturday beat the crap out of each other.
With the Monday Night wars and the birth of the internet, we got an inside peak into pro wrestling that was unheard of before. From dirtrags like Wrestling Insider and the Torch, to chat rooms, not only was the outcomes predetermined, we got a look into the business and how it was run and how dirty it could often be. Why is my favorite wrestler jobbing now? Why is ( fill in the blank) on tv so much now?
The pro wrestling term about a wrestler being over or getting over applies to a wrestler who has won the cheers( if a babyface/hero) or the jeers( if a heel/villain). There are several ways a wrestler can get over. Some get over by their look or their gimmick- like the Road Warriors and the Undertaker have great gimmicks.
Some wrestlers get over because they can work the mic... meaning they can talk or cut a promo and this makes the fans love/hate them depending upon if they are a heel or a face. Wrestlers like the Rock fall into this category.
Some wrestlers get over because of their in ring work... meaning they can flat out wrestle and can make a bad wrestler have a good match with them and the fans appreciate their work rate. Brett Hart falls into this category.
And when you have a wrestler that is good at all three, you have a legendary wrestler like Ric Flair( WHOOOOOOO!!) who was great at all three.
Well getting over in wrestling is not that easy. Its why for so long you saw many of the same faces being champions over the years( we see you Hulk Hogan). Getting a wrestler over takes talent by the wrestler for sure, but it also takes patience and creativity by the booker( the person who is writing the storylines). The booker decides who gets pushed( who gets a chance to be a star) and if they can get over...great... maybe they become a main event/headline wrestler. If they can't, they will get pushed back down the card and wont become a huge star.
Pushing a wrestler is a delicate process. If you push them too much or too soon, fans will reject that wrestler( like they did Rocky Mavia- before he was the Rock). If you push them for too long and they don't get over, the character can become stale and rejected by the fans.
This is a lot of preview ahead of my main question: Who is Hickman going to push for the X-Men? The reboot is wrapped in mystery and that is understandable. But, over the last four years, X-Men and their fans have been subject to several reboots and each one is like a failed push. From All New, All Different, to the return of Blue and Gold, to this most recent reboot that came out of Age of X-Man, there has been no real direction on who are the main event X-Men and who are the X-Men on the lower part of the card.
And there is a lot to getting a comic character over. ALOT! Its why so many comic books seem like they star the same people over and over. And much like wrestling, it takes creative booking to create a new star and have them get over. Creators use gimmicks and looks to help characters get over but sometimes there is not enough substance to the character and they just become their gimmick. Its why you see new characters make a big debit and then get pushed down the card. Its why we have so many books and stories with the same heroes and villains.
My initial thought is are they gonna push the Giant Sized X-Men team: Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Wolverine, and of course the resurrected Jean Grey. Those characters are all over with the fans but have been pushed so much they may have become stale.
Are they gonna push the 90's X-Men with Cyclops, Storm, Rogue, Gambit, and Wolverine as their base. Again, all of them over, but are they like Hulk Hogan where you cheer for him but know you've seen this act before....
Are they gonna push the more new characters such as X-23 and Honey Badger or do a mix of old and new characters like they did in X-Men Red. Many of these characters are not over with fans, but they do have a vocal fan base.
I really don't know. And what of characters such as Bishop, Cable, Domino, X-Force.... all characters that have great looks/gimmicks but are maybe not so over they need their own comic book.
This would be a fascinating conversation if we hadn't done this so many times over the past four years. The X-Men have been treading water on the mid-card of the show for so many years now. Maybe it was the lack of creative( booking), maybe the characters look/gimmick didn't resonate with fans anymore. Maybe the idea of a world that hates mutants just doesn't work anymore. Who knows? I do know this tho…. people are putting a lot of hope and faith into this Hickman reboot and if he does not deliver..... there will be another reboot in 2 years. And whatcha gonna do about that brother?
As a part of the human condition, we often seek out any and all outlets to avoid dealing with painful shit that life puts us through. Some people drink to numb the pain, some people shop, and some people fill their life with things and people just to not deal with real emotions because they can be overwhelming. And in that thinking, our judgment about who we are and how people see us can define us and nudge us into making even more poor decisions.
Its in this breath, the Amazon Prime show, Fleabag lives. Our title character is Fleabag, even tho no ones calls her by that name. And like most of us, life has dealt her some serious tragedies and instead of seeking help to move past those issues, Fleabag makes compromised life decisions that often makes life worse, not better.
Now you would think with that lead in, I was talking about a drama- and this show definitely has dramatic moments to it. But this is a comedy. A hilariously written comedy, by the shows star, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Fleabag the tv show is an adaptation of a play that she had written and starred in herself. Fleabag is a single woman living in London in the aftermath of those two tragic events. She has a loving, supportive live-in boyfriend who she is entirely bored with. She has an over achieving sister who is not Fleabags biggest fan, and she has a father who has grown quite distant over the past few years. Top that off with a failing business and you have a therapists dream patient.
The show is cleverly written and its punctuated by Fleabag constantly breaking the 4th wall and speaking directly to the viewers as things fall apart in her life. Its quite brilliant really because often she is speaking exactly what the viewers are thinking. The humor is biting, sarcastic, and in some of its best moment, wonderfully vulgar. It pushes the boundaries of what the viewer would find acceptable and makes you think how you would handle a situation.
There are two seasons; each with 6, 30 minute episodes. Season one focuses on Fleabag's relationship with her sister, Claire and how their relationship is strained( at best) and on Fleabags many dating and relationship issues. Also, there is a tragedy that I do not want to spoil that gives you more insight into how a seemingly well put together person can consistently make terrible decisions. Season 2 focuses on Fleabag's dads marriage to their Godmother and Fleabags attraction to the Catholic priest who is set to marry them. Season two is as consistently strong as season 1.
Fleabag is incredibly funny, yet dramatic without being overly preachy. The characters feel authentic and the actors and dialogue are incredible. So, try a new show out! Fleabag will not disappoint!!
Sunday, July 14, 2019
For the 3rd year in a row, I was fortunate enough to attend DragonCon in Atlanta as a member of the media covering the event for Brothascomics.com. As a Blerd and Atlanta resident for the past 25 years, I have seen DragonCon grow from this small event that only a few thousand nerds attended, to this international event that now close to a half million people attend over the Labor Day Weekend.
My experience with Dragoncon has come full circle. First I was a participant with my friends renting a hotel and gaming all night long. Later, I became an active volunteer working the in the game rooms and helping my new con-friends find and play games they have never heard of before. Now, as a member of the media, I get to see up close and personal some of my favorite stars and creators and bring that content to our blog and podcast.
But throughout all of this, the biggest change at DragonCon has been the needed expression of Black Nerd culture. DragonCon, like most conventions, can often become very white spaces and not welcoming to nerds expressing themselves in nerd culture. I have seen that as a fan and a volunteer. Over the past ten years tho, DragonCon has become such a cultural awakening for Black Nerd Culture in Atlanta and throughout the southeast. Black Nerds from around the country circle this event on their calendar to make sure they are to be seen with cosplay and heard in panels to make sure people understand that Black Nerds are here and want to express themselves and be seen and accepted in nerd culture.
One of the biggest ways to do this is through cosplay. I have covered so many events over the past few years, and no one shows up and shows out like DragonCon for cosplay. So many fans spend months and months getting ready for this event and it shows in their costumes. Brothascomics uses the tag #wehere as an expression that we are here and in this place and want to be recognized for our contributions to nerd culture.
Here are some of the many examples of Black Nerd Cosplay at Dragoncon this year
Overall just a wonderful experience again this year and I cannot wait to get invited back next year to cover this event. Its such an experience to be with like minded friends and fans for these 4 days every year!
Saturday, July 13, 2019
For the third year in a row, the great people at Orlando Megacon granted Brothascomics press access for their event and we are forever grateful. Check out my review of the con below and links to our pages for video and pics of the event.
Megacon is held in the Orange County Convention center and getting into the con can be challenging with the parking. Visitors must be aware of where they are parking in relation to entrance into the convention. If you arrive early enough, you can back in the north or south lot and walk into the convention space to big up your badge. If you arrive later, you will need to park in the west lot an that will require taking the free shuttle Megacon offers to get to the con. That may not seem like a big deal, but after a long day of nerding it up, looking to take a shuttle and then finding you car will feel exhausting.
|Yes that is the Predator riding on the Shuttle Bus|
The Badge Process
This process changed since last year. Much like the past three years, press badges are picked up at a separate location than the fan badges. Before that, you will need to go through security where they will check your bags and if you have props, they need to be cleared before you make it to the convention floor.
The badge process depends on if you are walking up and purchasing or picking up from will call or if your ordered on line. Megacon is huge and a highly recommend buying your badges on line and getting there early to pick up your badge. The lines can be long either way and frustration mounts very easily. And even if you purchase on line and get their early, the line for entrance into the convention is long. Very long! Bring your patience with you.
And an added wrinkle this year, once you have your badge, you need to register your badge on line at the convention which, with the limited bandwith was challenging. Then you need to scan the badge in with a worker before you could make it onto the convention floor. This was a new process for Megacon this year and it seemed to go smoothly, but my process as media was a bit different.
Megacon is Florida's largest convention the second largest in the southeast after DragonCon in Atlanta. The Convention center has plenty of space. This year, the crowds were even larger. My convention strategy is to go on Thursday and Friday to avoid the huge crowds and miss on Saturday's because Saturday convention is mega crowded. This year, Thursday and Friday at Megacon had huge crowds; it almost felt like Saturday on Friday and I was not expecting that. But with a great guest list, its easy to see how Megacon keeps growing and growing each year. I highly suggest, if you can afford it, get a hotel near the host site. This allows for you to go to the con, take a break, a nap, grab something to eat, and then head back to avoid the crowds. Saturday is a great day to con, but if you have issues with large groups of people in confined spaces, pick Thursday, Friday, or Sunday.
Megacon probably does not get its due for the quality of cosplay it receives. Fan cosplay is fantastic and you can see the hours that fans have put into their cosplay. Everyone is always open to take a picture either by themselves, in a group, or with you. There is a real sense of community and its one of the most enjoyable parts about Megacon. On top of that, their professional cosplay guests are diverse and welcoming to their fans.
In the three years I have been to Megacon, the guest list has not failed to disappoint. Whether its tv stars or movie cast reunions like Back to the Future and Goonies this year, you can definitely get that picture and/or autograph with someone you admire. My daughter met John Barrowman this year and even tho I do not watch a show that man stars in, he was such a delight to my daughter. I attended the Goonies Cast reunion panel and was able to relieve my excitement of watching Data, Mike, and Mouth tell stories about the filming of one of my favorite movies ever. Plus, we were able to attend a Zack Levi panel. and if you have never done that, you are truly missing out. What a wonderful human being and a treasure to have at Megacon.
If the celebrities don't do it for you and you are into for the comics only, Megacon has you covered there, too. Heavy hitters like Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder were there. Plus, awesome writers such as Tom Taylor and Charles Soule were also there and all were willing to sign and chat with their fans. Such a great chance and opportunity to meet with legends in the comics industry.
I joked a few years ago that Megacon could be called Vendor Con because the convention floor is so packed with vendors. Again, that is not necessarily a knock. The vendors allow you to find whatever it is you want in geek swag. Whether t-shirts, lanyards, comics, or toys... on the floor, there will be someone selling what you are looking for. Bring cash tho because the ATM's on site charge almost $4 per withdrawal and its easier to haggle with vendors with cash than with a credit card.
A great experience once again. This year, I did get a hotel and stayed over Friday-Sunday and had a wonderful time with my family at Megacon. It seems to get better and better each year and the moved up date off of Memorial Day Weekend was an added bonus. Once again, thank you to the folks at Megacon for putting on such a wonderful event this year!!!
It’s easy to be a critic. The level of effort required to create something – anything – compared to the level of effort to criticize something is no comparison at all. I feel compelled to say this to make myself feel different from all the other a-hole trolls behind a keyboard (a-trolls? That could totally be a thing.). It’s from that sentiment that this piece emerges, sort of a corollary to the adage, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
At Brothascomics.com, we’ve dissected the MCU over an over. Praised and ripped, ranked and sorted. I think there are some truly great movies in the MCU. I think the majority of them are not great, but they are perfectly fine, enjoyable movies. We all have our favorites, but the bottom of the ranking is pretty consistent amongst us. There are movies that I don’t like and that doesn’t necessarily make them bad movies. I wanted to go back and find the goodness if I could.
My bottom four (in order of release to keep it simple) are The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 3, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Let’s get into it.
The Incredible Hulk – By the time Marvel’s The Avengers came around, Marvel Studios had figured out that despite being the strongest there is, the Hulk works way better as a supporting character than a lead. Without that lesson, we get another Hulk movie and we are still stuck with the not particularly likeable Betty Ross and the not at all appreciable Thunderbolt Ross. This time, we at least get a villain that appears in the comics in Abomination instead of a character that is kind of like a comic villain in the Absorbing Man-esque version of David Banner that we got in Hulk. There is a tease of the Leader that we have to accept that we will regrettably never see payoff. Of the four movies that I didn’t like, this is the one I didn’t have to re-watch to figure out something I liked. I distinctly remember, sitting in the theater and watching Emil Blonsky, after receiving his first injection of the discount Super Soldier Serum, sprinting across the battlefield, popping off some sweet acrobatics and staring down a threat way above his power level. Obviously that didn’t go well for Mr. Blonsky, but I remember sitting there thinking, “Holy shit, this is what it’s going to be like to see Captain America on the movie screen!” So for The Incredible Hulk, the thing I like is the ties to Captain America and our first glimpse of a Super Soldier in action.
Iron Man 3 – The third Iron Man movie is the seventh movie in the MCU. You cannot take away from what Robert Downey, Jr. did in Iron Man to set the stage. If that movie bombs, we have a DCU situation on our hands. But it didn’t. Iron Man 2 gets a lot of hate, but I put it in the perfectly fine category. Iron Man 3 though … not good. We get lots of Tony Stark out of the Iron Man armor. We get a kid sidekick. We get an A.I.M. reference with no real payoff. We get inaccuracies in the computer hacking scene with an Internet Protocol address displayed on screen that clearly violates every Internet Engineering Task Force standard. Ok, clearly that third one is not going to bother everybody. Anyway, it sure seems a lot more like this is the movie that Shane Black and RDJ wanted to make, comics be damned. The part that I liked may seem like a cop-out, but I really like the Mandarin. Mandarin is a Fu Manchu-esque villain that is inherently problematic in 2013. The shift to a more general terrorist theme is interesting enough before we get the swerve (wrestling term) that Trevor is a deeply flawed actor fronting for a much less interesting villain. Iron Man purists were probably pissed, but only if they are racists.
Avengers: Age of Ultron – We talk about the Batman Begins effect, where a passable movie seems that much better when it follows a truly terrible movie. I think there is definitely an Avengers effect, where a surprisingly great movie lends creative control to a filmmaker who neglects the lessons imparted by Uncle Ben Parker. If I have to elaborate that lesson, you clicked on the wrong link at some point. This one gets a dose of studio meddling that normally hits the end of a trilogy. We get a shaky CGI re-creation of the panoramic scene of Avengers assembling that seemed way more organic in Marvel’s The Avengers. We get a big F. U. to the Marvel Television Universe as Hydra gets squashed (wrestling term) despite being the big bad of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. We get a poorly cast voice actor for Ultron. We get the totally surprising (sarcasm) death of Quicksilver. The whole farm sequence, which by most accounts was the major sticking point between the director and the studio, completely derails the character of Hawkeye. MCU Hawkeye sucks and it would have been better to just leave him out than to try and work him in at the end. There, I said it. You might think I would cite “Cap nudges Mjolnir” as the thing I liked, except the movie takes a dump on that when Vision tosses Mjolnir around like nothing. What I did like? The Hulkbuster sequence. I am not a huge Hulk or Iron Man fan – comics or movies – but that sequence was great. There are times when we get a comic book on screen. This was one of those times. “Go to sleep. Go to sleep. Go to sleep.” That said … Hulk probably would have still one that fight.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. – Remember that discussion of the Avengers effect? I present to you, Exhibit B. I absolutely hate Baby Groot. The soundtrack is way worse, and I loved the soundtrack from the first one. The humor of Drax seems forced. Everybody goes through the same story arc with some form of Daddy Issues. A scene chewing villain is never the answer. (Side Brotha topic – I’m going to allow an exception for Cate Blanchett as Hela, and I can’t elaborate without committing text to the internet that I will come to regret). I didn’t like this movie when I saw it and when I re-watched it, I liked it even less, so much so that I am willing to consider this as the worst movie in the MCU. My initial thought of what I liked was the Sovereign: the supposedly perfect race that was so clearly flawed, they had me chuckling at a number of points. But … I think there are about six people credited as Sovereigns and the one person of color that is credited is the “Sovereign Chambermaid.” I may very well be wrong about the casting and crediting, but if the people of color are still subservient when everyone has gold skin, then there is still a problem in the galaxy. I kind of like the scene when Rocket springs a trap for the Ravagers. If you thought I would like the reference to the OG Guardians (which technically exist in a future not yet covered by the MCU), then you would be wrong. Casting Stallone to satisfy some Tango and Cash fetish and calling him Starhawk by giving him some shoulder pads when he looks way more like Major Victory which is the way worse incarnation of Vance Astro who has a storyline that is at least as complicated as Cable from the X Men … that earns you a STFU. So, what did I like? I guess the best way I can end this piece is to channel THE most electrifying man in sports entertainment: “It doesn’t matter what I like!”