Black Science #10 Review

Black Science 10 CoverNate and Pia along with the wookie/sasquatch child they rescued have been brought to the palace of the millipede death cult and now find themselves before their leader or king. He wants to know where “the key” is and the children try to tell him they don’t know of let alone have any key so he puts the psychic whammy on Nate to extract the information from him. Pia recalls that the helmets on their suits are designed to filter out anything and jumps into action but not before the bad guys get the location of the pillar. The kids beat a hasty retreat with their hairy pal in tow and make their escape on a flying hippo/insect creature as Pia once again curses her father’s memory for all his faults and for leaving her in this situation. Cutting back to the not-quite Egypt from the end of last issue, other Kadir is delivering what he was tasked to retrieve, a control rod for a pillar, when other Grant busts in, ruins his day, and saves the girl. And that’s not even the biggest twist on that page…

Returning to the kids winging their way back to the pillar, Pia’s still deep in her “dad sucked” rant, laying out every little way Grant ever failed them while Nate does his level best to remind her that she isn’t blameless in the whole affair either. Speaking of the pillar, what’s left of our League is still huddled around trying to think of something when Rebecca lets loose and tells Shawn that the whole thing is her fault. It was her that convinced Kadir to take the pillar project, her that manipulated him into hiring Grant to build it, knowing that Grant would do anything to stick it to Kadir, make any breakthrough to prove him wrong. Shawn tries to reason with her when Pia and Nate make their grand entrance on their bizarre mount but the celebration is short-lived when they inform the others of their impending guest arrival. And the fact that Kadir no longer has a helmet does not bode well for their chances.

A common theme since the beginning of the series, blame is never in short supply or long left undiscussed. However, in a situation as chronically tenuous as that of our characters, is it any surprise? Blame falls on everyone it seems, from Kadir sabotaging the pillar to Grant building it to Rebecca getting the ball rolling on the project all the way back to Grant being a superior douche in college and birthing his rivalry with Kadir. It’s human nature to want to pin a wrong on the person responsible, especially if it’s convenient for it to land on someone you already dislike rather than seeing your own faults. In fact, it sometimes seems that you can’t get out of your own way and get to improving your circumstances until you feel like the proper villain has been named and indicted for your troubles. Then and only then can you get to the matter of getting yourself out of whatever predicament you find yourself in. Hopefully the League will be able to set that task aside for the time being and come up with some way to hold off the crazy insects approaching their position long enough to jump to their next destination.

 

RoboCop: The Definitive History Review

Untitled_2As a kid growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I distinctly remember religiously watching the original RoboCop film, recorded off of Showtime on an old VHS cassette. I never got the social satire as a kid, but I knew I loved the concept of the film, as well as the over the top violence and pulp comic concept that has since married the character to all forms of pop culture: comic books, video games, wrestling, toys/merchandise and television. RoboCop was, is and always will be a cultural touchstone, clearly iconic in look, feel, and sociopolitical message. Which is why, it’s great to finally have Titan Books provide Robo fans with a definitive history of the franchise, complete with new interviews with key creators, actors, and personalites, such as original film writers and character creators Michael Miner and Edward Neumeier, RoboCop directors Paul Verhoeven, Irvin Kershner, Fred Dekker, and Jose Padihila, actors Joel Kinnaman, Nancy Allen, Kurtwood Smith, Robert John Burke, effects wizard Phil Tippet, producer Jon Davison and a slew of other contributors to the sci-fi action legend that is RoboCop. All this information is expertly assembled and culled courtesy of writer Calum Waddell, who crafts an impressive visual odyssey that accompanies the narrative across all things RoboCop.

Beginning with the landmark original film, the book kicks off discussing the brainchild of writer Miner and Neumeir, their search for a director who would see outside the lens of American society, Paul Verhoeven almost turning down the film, the Orion studios bankruptcy crisis, and the extremely low-budget that the first film had to rely on. A great deal of detail is lent to the social commentary and satire that has become a trademark of the franchise, but was really only captured with the first two films and the remake. It’s also interesting to listen to the stories from the actors, including the “mime coaching” actor Peter Weller used to portray the iconic Cyborg.

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RoboCop memorabilia.

A bigger success than Orion anticipated, a sequel was natural, yet missed the mark by quite a bit. Various people and a quick need for cash by Orion completely altered the idea for the second film, and left legendary comic writer Frank Miller to write a screen story that was adapted by Walon Green because Miller’s treatment was “deemed unfilmable.” This is where the unraveling of RoboCop really begins, with actress Nancy Allen being cast in a lesser role as Lewis, and her friction behind the scenes with director Kershner. For all the problems detailed within RoboCop 2, the truncated budget for the third film led to a total disaster, as Night of the Creeps and Monster Squad director Fred Dekker attempted, with Miller on scripting duties, to transform a hard R adult film into a PG-13, family friendly, comic book style movie. The results detailed within the history shelved RoboCop for a while, only to see his resurrection on television, and eventually the remake which was released in 2014. It is interesting to read this final chapter, to see where the filmmakers ideas came from in terms of keeping the social satire and melding it with the current real world issues that plague society today. In between all the films, there is a great look at everything from RoboCop’s days of helping the wrestler Sting (real name Steve Borden) at the infamous World Championship Wrestling Pay-Per-View event, Capitol Combat: The Return of Robocop, to the continued adventures of RoboCop published by BOOM! Studios monthly.

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Some of ComicHype’s Robocop themed collection, and this book is worthy to stand with it.

A real visual feast that provides everything from concept art, behind the scenes special effects shots, storyboards, production stills, and memorabilia from all areas of the RoboCop universe, this is truly a must have for every hardcore RoboCop fan, if for nothing else, the amount of photographed material contained within the 220 or so pages. It’s interesting to hear from the wide creative base who contributed to the character over the years, even at his worst, most laughable moments. As someone who made it a point in high school to run out to Suncoast Video and purchase the Criterion Collection DVD of RoboCop (at $34.95 back in 1998) it’s ironic that this packed volume goes for the same price, which might be a little bit cheaper if you shop around Amazon. Calum Waddell and Titan Books should be praised for becoming caretakers of RoboCop’s rich history and legacy as an important film achievement, and providing the fan base with an incredible volume that I have had the pleasure of going through, providing this reader with a succinct, enjoyable visual and oral history of one of pop cultures most enduring, and probably one of my personal top five, favorite characters ever.

RoboCop: The Definitive History is out now at major booksellers, Amazon.com, and directly from Titan Books (http://titanbooks.com/).

 

 

Ommegang Brewery’s Game of Thrones: Valar Morghulis Dubbel Tasting Review

10408549_10152750262603686_6593593522295245415_nValar Morghulis. Valar Dohaeris”

In the tongue of High Valyrian, the saying above is translated into “All men must die. All men must serve.” And as such, just as Arya Stark received the coin from the feared Faceless Man of Braavos, Jaqen H’ghar, the latest offering from Ommegang‘s Game of Thrones themed ales is an all out assassination on your taste buds that throws in the added power of a strong ale for good measure. And, at about 8% ABV, this is definitely one of the more worthy beers of the four Game of Thrones releases thus far.

Valar Morghulis follows the traditional trappist and abbey brewing traditions, attempting to emulate their taste. After removing the etched “Valar Dohaeris” branded cork, the thick pour flows and settles into what should be a short, fat glass for which ales of this type were meant for (see our photos). A dark, brownish red color and dark body accompany the initial sip, resplendent with steely caramel upon hitting the palate. It finishes up malty, with just a tinge of the fruity esters it is brewed with. There is a sugary mid-taste, upon swirling it a bit in your mouth, indicative of other dubbel’s I have had in the past. Drinking one bottle of this is enough to give you just the right amount of courage in order to carry out an assassination somewhere in Westeros, probably due to the 8% alcohol by volume, and the fact that it’s about two beers per bottle. So, sharing can be encouraged in two recommended glasses.

1527077_10152750301918686_7786810903546227_nOverall, this is the strongest offering thus far from Ommegang in their Game of Thrones line. It is easily better than the Iron Throne Blonde and Take the Black Stout, , but I did not like it as much as the Fire and Blood Red Ale. If you are into the dinner and beer pairing thing, this is probably best drank with a roast or good venison. It is definitely a hearty offering, with a decent strength, and is probably best enjoyed in the later fall, or the early winter. I will be saving a bottle for the holidays, and I hear it is a hot offering at craft brew pubs, with logs being a tough commodity to come by. So, if you see it at a craft beer joint, I would personally want to try it on draft, as should you. If you are going the bottle route, Ommegang has increased production of these beers, so you shouldn’t have too much of a problem finding one if you know the local craft beer sellers in your area. That said, this is probably the second best offering from Ommegang in their Game of Thrones line, and is a good foray into the realm of Dubbel‘s. It will definitely give you the wherewithal to both serve and die in Westeros, if you so choose.

 

The Delinquents #3 Review

Delinquents 3 CoverThe wayward not-so-super group of Archer and Armstrong teamed up with Quantum and Woody have just arrived at Old Macdonald’s farm (yes, that one) to find a not real friendly welcoming committee. Namely, a whole bunch of exotic animals looking to eat their faces off. Of course all four are saved as usual by the timely intervention of the goat and all five choose discretion as the better part of valor and beat a hasty retreat back to the tracks to catch another train. They resume their journey in true hobo fashion, making their way across the country in search of more signs to the fabled treasure of the hobos. The only drawback being that only Armstrong is really built for it and before long the rest of them look like they’ll be lucky to survive the rest of the trip until Archer has a moment of drunken inspiration and they decide to let others do their dirty work for them.

All of which of course takes place in a fantastic montage set to “Big Rock Candy Mountain” to hilarious effect, half of which is spent by Woody trying to be a wingman and get Archer laid. Once they have all the pieces of the puzzle and Quantum feels he’s successfully broken the hobo code, they once again set out for their final destination. What they don’t know is that Mondostano has planted the grossest mole you’ve ever seen among them and they’re intercepted en route by Mr. Meat and his plantimal brethren. An epic battle ensues aboard their train and things are looking dicey until Armstrong calls his hobo brothers to battle and the tide is turned. Afterward, the boys rest up and enjoy some abomination stew before their destination finally heaves into sight…as well as a fleet of Mondostano choppers full of the bad guys.

Yet another side-splitting chapter in the tale of The Delinquents and their journey of the ass-map is in the bag with only more remaining. I’ll be sad to this particular miniseries end as it’s been non-stop fun and laughs since page one in a way only possible by joining these two dysfunctional duos. With Archer more or less out of commission as he finds himself with the debauched aid of Woody, Armstrong finds himself in a new and disturbing place, that of the voice of reason. But he vows to straighten up and pull it together for the sake of his little buddy and all the hobos who have entrusted him with their fates. With only one issue remaining, it’s sure to be chock-full of funny to help this one go out with a bang so make sure you’re back here next month for the action and laugh packed conclusion of The Delinquents.