Friday Favorites: MechaGodzilla

You have to give the Japanese a lot of credit. As the Godzilla series moved along, they seemed to realize pretty early on that there aren't a lot of ways to improve on the concept of "giant, radioactive monsters that stomp on cities and fight other giant, radioactive monsters." In fact, it took them a full 20 years to stumble upon a suitable conceptual upgrade. And that was giant robot doppelgangers of giant, radioactive monsters. Enter my favorite Godzilla foe of all, MechaGodzilla:


And, of course, it worked so well that they brought it back for the second series of films*:


And the third.


MechaGodzilla - two great things that go well together, truly the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup of the kaiju world.



*Well, technically they brought up the concept three times in the "Heisei" series, but Mecha-King Ghidorah was just the original King Ghidorah with a cyborg upgrade, so he doesn't quite count, and M.O.G.U.E.R.A. was just plain lame. Demand the genuine article, people.

Awesome Things: SPACE LINCOLN!

The original Star Trek brought a lot of concepts to our TV screens, some of the good, some of them bad, some of them so bizarre they need to be studied. One that's all three is Space Abraham Lincoln:








(All images and video from the original series episode The Savage Curtain)

You need proof that Gene Roddenberry was a visionary? He realized that there was only one way you improve upon America's most generally beloved president: you put him in space. In a comfy chair, no less. Yeah, he's eventually revealed to be an alien rock creature in disguise, but whatever.

The future presented by Star Trek seems fantastic, what with all the warp engines and food replicators and transporters and such, but I'm most looking forward to Abraham Lincoln in... OUTER SPAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!

And maybe space gangsters that look like Mel from Alice.


Togs and Blogs (or, Lazy Wednesday Link Blogging Post, Now With Extra Wonder Woman Redesign)

The Comic Geek Speak podcast forums do sporadic fan art challenges, and in response to the online debate about the recent Wonder Woman costume change, they threw it out to the artistic listeners/posters to create their own Wonder Woman redesign, but with the caveat that it wasn't just a random costume change, it had to match up with the sort of reasoning J. Michael Straczynski and Jim Lee stated they had applied to the storyline and design respectively. Lots of great designs in the thread, you should really check them out if you're a fan, but this one by an artist named Ethan Wright was far and away my favorite.

I love that it looks like, you know, clothes, but is still recognizably Wonder Woman. She can kick Cheetah's ass and then go see a band. Maybe even at the same time. The haircut is a nice touch, too.

You can check out more of Ethan's work - carefully, mind you, as there are a lot of tasteful but still NSFW images - at his website or his deviantART page.



If, like me, you enjoy both sci-fi movies and lists, you might want to check out Wired's list of favorite sci-fi movies, handily broken up into the pre-Star Wars and Star Wars and after periods.

(Bonus points to them for including 2010: The Year We Make Contact on the list. No, it isn't as visionary, thinky, or even as good as Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, but a damn
fine film all the same, and one that holds up surprisingly well considering the ahead-of-now tech and behind-the-curve Cold War setting it presents. And the fact that we have yet to, you know, make contact. But, there's still four months to make that deadline, so fingers crossed.)

And hey, io9 put together a similar list. A lot of crossover, as you'd expect, but there are a few interesting differences that make it worth checking out.



And if, like me, you enjoy movies and ranking things, you probably already know about Flickchart. If you don't, well, you should fix that. Basically, it presents you with two movie titles, and you pick which one you like better, Thunderdome-style. Process repeats ad infinitum and over time you get a fairly accurate - and occasionally surprising - list of your favorite movies. It's fun and insanely addicting, so don't blame me if you sign up and then never interact with your loved ones again. You've been warned.

Flickchart - the official "Wait, it's been six hours?!?" website of Trusty Plinko Stick World Headquarters.



Are you a geek with kids, or maybe you just act like one? They've got Batman: The Brave and the Bold Happy Meal toys over at McDonald's right now. They just came off of Marvel Heroes, too, and site says that Clone Wars is up next, so let's watch those cholesterol numbers, okay? Remember that they'll sell 'em to you separately if you ask.



Seriously, go and pay to see Scott Pilgrim right now.



Siskoid has been posting cards from his Unauthorized Doctor Who Collectible Card Game for a while, but the latest offerings, depicting the TARDIS crew from the Doctor Who RPG campaign he's been running, are particularly awesome, I think, thanks to the casting of the characters done by the players themselves (I'm not convinced John Rhys-Davies isn't already a Time Lord. And Susan as foxy librarian? Homina.).

WE ARE SEX BOB-OMB, AND OUR MOVIE IS SORELY UNDERAPPRECIATED! 1, 2, 3, 4!

This may get SPOILERY. So, you know, read on with caution.

I just don't get the hate or the teeny box office numbers at all, because I thought Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was an awesome movie, folks, and the fact that razzafrazzin Vampires Suck, of all things, took in as much in one week as SPvTW did in two proves that America is, as we like to say in our house, effed in the a.

Well, yeah, there are a lot of reasons right now that America is effed in the a, pretty much all of them more important than a couple of end-of-summer movies, but this is a silly little comics & pop culture blog, so we won't concern ourselves with all of that right now, and instead focus on movies.

Anyway... as great as the initial trailers looked, I approached the movie with trepidation. For one things, a lot of terrible movies have awesome trailers (yes, Where the Wild Things Are, I'm talking about you unspeakably abominable Dave Eggers script), so you pretty much can't trust those first looks at all. But also, and more importantly, I'm a huge fan of Bryan Lee O'Malley's series, and the lightning fast re-read of books 1 through 5 I did in anticipation of both book 6 and the movie confirmed that all the more (oh my good god damn do those hold up). And in that sort of situation, you always go into a movie adaptation afraid of what they might change, or more to the point, what they might screw up.

Edgar Wright did well by O'Malley, though. Very, very well, in fact. Obviously the story had to be compressed and altered to fit a two hour run time, not to mention ended since O'Malley hadn't finished the final book by the time the script was done and filming was underway. But any condensing, trimming, or outright changing Wright did worked, both within the framework of the movie and when compared to the source material. We lose a few great moments, sure - oh, man, how awesome would the Knives/Ramona fight have been if filmed in the actual Toronto Reference Library? - and some changes are quite drastic (notably the fight with the Katayanagi twins) but I don't think the movie suffers for it. In fact, I think a few of the changes may even be improvements. I missed the Katayanagis' robots, but the Final Fantasy-styled summoning battle was awesome, and as much as I enjoyed Book 6, I think the final battle with Gideon worked a little bit better in the movie (even if it did give Ramona less to do).

But then again, I thought all the fights were awesome. Seriously, this is the best fight movie I've seen in forever. If you like seeing people kicked and punched in creative ways, you need to see this.

And the casting, yeah, that was just about perfect, too. Ellen Wong as Knives and Kieran Culkin as Wallace pretty much stole the show, but even the minor characters came off so, so well. Julie Powers was always kinda one-note bitchy in the books, but Aubrey Plaza really breathed some extra life into her (the bits where her anger kept killing the electricity and her profanity being modem noise sure helped), and for as little as Scott's sister Stacy had to do overall, Anna Kendrick made her memorable just the same. And though I seem to be in the minority, I mostly enjoyed Michael Cera as Scott. Yeah, he got a little wishy-washy and George Michael Bluth-ish here and there, but I liked how that counterpointed (is that a word? it is now.) his fight scenes. It worked.

And Allison Pill was Kim Pine. Maybe the wig they saddled her with was a little Orphan Annie-ish, but man, she sold that part and I am now deeply in swoon. I just wish she had had more screen time. But, as I said before, I'm all about the Kim Pine, so bias clearly affects my opnion.

Oh yeah, the soundtrack was great, too. So much so I had to run out and buy it the next day. Who do we have to pay to get everyone back together for more Sex Bob-Omb records? Seriously, Threshold is my current favorite song. Just cannot get it out of my head. Fuzzy guitars and mumbled lyrics FTW.

Long story short (way too late), Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was a big damn fun movie, and I think a lot of people will finally discover it when it hits DVD and then they'll kick themselves for not checking it out in the theater, exactly the way I did with Speed Racer. If you haven't seen it yet and still want to, I'd act fast folks. When even something like Vampires Suck can crush it in the box office, I think it's safe to say your window of opportunity is limited.

Pretty Sketchy: Boy Wonder, Too

A while back, Vincent Kukua drew an awesome Robin for my son (as well as this rad Hellcat for me). Well, he also threw a Robin-in-action into the mix, too, and good as those other two are, this may be the best of the bunch. Thanks, Vincent!

Worth a look: the Vermont Toy and Train Museum

On a recent trip to Vermont, we stumbled upon the Vermont Toy and Train Museum located in the tourist trap men call the Queechee Gorge Village (look for the giant Cabot cheese store and kiddie train that circles the parking lot). It's a small affair located up above said Cabot store, with the train set-up and some old video games and pinball machines set up in the basement (and it's worth walking down there even if only for a game or three of Atari's 1983 Star Wars arcade game), but it's a fun helping of nostalgia chow, and definitely worth a peek if you're in the area. You'll definitely come away with a case of the I Had Thats, though, so be warned (I mean, the lunchbox cabinet alone had EVERY lunchbox from my grade school years).

Now, I only had my cell phone's camera with me at the time, and a five year old I had to repeatedly convince that these items were not for sale, so I couldn't capture everything or look as closely as I wanted, but here are a few decent pics:

A very small section of the GIANT Star Wars display.

Always dug those 60s plastic Marvel heroes, and that Mr. Magoo car is so rad.

I cannot adequately describe how badly I wanted that Shogun Warriors Godzilla as a child. Hell, goofy-looking as it is in retrospect, I'd still love to have one.

First time I ever saw a Captain Action or any of the additional outfits up close. They were surprisingly nice, considering the era. Also, gotta love the old school G.I. Joes.

Peanuts, ViewMaster, and robots , including B9 from Lost in Space and Rom (who is technically a cyborg, I know, but whatever). What's not to love?

It was after he won for the 17th month in a row that Lois first suspected Clark's secret.

Pa always said Clark couldn't use his powers to win football games, but he never said anything about Employee of the Month.

(Pic taken at the Stoughton, MA, Ikea a few months back and rediscovered while cleaning up my cell phone's memory earlier today.)

Lazy Sunday Plumtree Blogging

As most people who care already know by now, Bryan Lee O'Malley named Scott Pilgrim after a song by the band Plumtree. After years of being curious, I finally got around to checking out the song, and it's damn catchy. Here's the video:



Here are a few more Plumtree tunes:



Friday Favorites: No, I'm Serious.

Supermobile.



Supermobile!



SUPERMOBILE!


I don't have to explain myself to you. Though if you must know more, here you go.

How's Who #8 - All-Consuming Fire by Andy Lane

TARDIS Crew: Seventh Doctor (as originated on TV by Sylvester McCoy), Ace (originated by Sophie Aldred), and Professor Bernice "Benny" Summerfield.

The Plot: (Quoted from the back cover, because someone got paid to write it and I figure why invent the wheel?) England, 1887. The secret library of St John the Beheaded has been robbed. The thief has taken forbidden books which tell of mythical beasts and gateways to other worlds. Only one team can be trusted to solve the crime: Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.

As their investigation leads them to the dark underside of Victorian London, Holmes and Watson soon realize that someone else is following the same trail. Someone who has the power to kill with a glance. And they sense a strange, inhuman shape observing them from the shadows. Then they meet the mysterious traveller known only as the Doctor -- the last person alive to read the stolen books.

While Bernice waits in nineteenth-century India, Ace is trapped on a bizarre alien world. And the Doctor finds himself unwillingly united with England’s greatest consulting detective.

The Thoughts: The Doctor teaming up with Sherlock Holmes to fight Lovecraft monsters. It sounds like fan fiction, I know, but it's actually pretty awesome. I think a lot of that is due to the fact that most of the book is written like an actual Holmes story: Holmes and Watson are really the main characters here, with the Doctor and associates becoming eccentric supporting characters, and the bulk of the story is, as is typical, written as Watson's recollections in his diary. Those few events that Watson isn't privy to, or just would not be able to adequately explain, are similarly diarized (Is that a word? It is now.) by Benny. It's a clever trick by Andy Lane, because even though there's an obvious shift in voice and tone, the storytelling still feels the same.

Lane does give into a habit that you find in a lot of stories by non-canonical Holmes authors (i.e. not Arthur Conan Doyle), which is peppering the story with as many Holmesian hallmarks as he possibly can. Mycroft pops by, as does Moriarty. Perpetual skirt chaser Watson inevitably falls for Benny (made awkward by the fact that she's traveling as a man). The Giant Rat of Sumatra (the infamous story Holmes claimed the world was unready to hear) is name-checked, as are non-Doyle creations such as Holmes' oldest brother Sherringford and father Siger, who may very well be the first "fanon" characters ever created (by Holmes scholar William S. Baring-Gould). I'm willing to forgive Lane for this, though. For one thing, he clearly did his homework (in fact, Lane is now writing a series of novels based on the early life of Holmes), and for another, it's not like Who spin-off media don't do the same thing all the time. Hell, the first and third Doctors both get quick cameos here, and you better believe that that other famous Doctor Who / Sherlock Holmes mash-up, The Talons of Weng-Chiang, gets referenced a number of times.

Things do get a little weird once the action leaves Earth and gets all monstery on the world of Ry'leh, though. There are plenty of wonderful, strange concepts at play - Ry'leh's upper atmosphere, for instance, is a frozen shell, so our heroes literally have to climb into the sky - but such a rapid, bizarre change of venue really removes Holmes from his element too much and forces him into the backseat, which is jarring because as I said, he has been presented as the story's main character from the beginning, with the Doctor being his foil and irritant. And while the Doctor showing up, annoying the authority figure(s), and then taking over to save the day is standard operating procedure for a Who story, well, this isn't any normal authority figure. This is Sherlock Damn Holmes we're talking about here. If there's a figure who should be able to keep up with the Doctor (at least on some levels), it's him.

Overall: Fannish? Sure. Indulgent? Maybe. A fun read? Definitely. There's a lot to enjoy here for Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes fans alike, and if you don't feel particularly well-versed in either character's "canon," it may inspire you to do a little investigating of your own. And if you're like me and haven't read many of the New Adventures line, and don't particularly care if you start at the beginning, this is as good a place to try it out as any.

Tangential-Though-Related Thought: Yeah, that's right, big a Who fan as I am, I never read the New Adventures series as the books were coming out. I was always sort of interested, I guess, but I was turned off by the fact that the series began with two different four-volume storylines (Timewyrm and Cat's Cradle), and worried it might be hard to jump on eight books into the series. Also, I was in college at the time and the books were being released at a pretty good clip, so I didn't know how I'd be able to keep up with all the other reading I had to do for classes.

Finally, from what I did know about the series from what I had read and what people told me... the turned the seventh Doctor into a real prick, didn't they? I know that he became a master manipulator as the TV series wore on, but just because he had to completely shatter Ace's faith in him (and maybe her entire belief system) in Curse of the Fenric doesn't mean he had to go and make a hobby of it in the books. That soured me on the concept early on, and I'll admit that it still bothers me as I read some of these now.

Benny's pretty rad, though.

Readin'

Quick reactions to recent read, though not always recently published, comics. Yes, I changed the name of this feature. Again. Anyway, there may be SPOILERS afoot, so, you know, watch out.


Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour
- I don't envy the task Bryan Lee O'Malley had set before him. It's hard enough to write a satisfactory ending for a single work. Harder still to write one for a multi-volume saga. And then one with a large, vocal, dedicated fanbase, too? Me, I'd have left town and no one would've ever heard from me again. O'Malley rose to the challenge, though, and pretty damn successfully at that. Did it hit every single story beat I thought it would, or even hoped it would? No, because it wasn't titled Let's Talk About Kim Pine Instead. Did the story give everyone the proper denouement they deserved? Pretty much. Were long-standing questions finally answered? Yup. Did it come to the conclusion that it needed to? Definitely. I'll admit to getting a little lost in the climactic battle, if only because I'm not as well-versed in manga tropes as a lot of folks, but that aside, this was a fantastic read, and a satisfying, appropriate conclusion to the series. I think it's time to revise my Awesome Things Canada Gave the World list.

X-Men #1 - It is a truth universally acknowledged that the world needs another ongoing X-Men series like the shopping plazas around here need another Sleepy's location*. That being said, I picked this up on a whim because I enjoyed all the previous X-Men Vs. Dracula stories, and this gets off to a good start, too. Maybe not as good as Dracula shooting weaponized projectile vampires at England from his base on the moon (God bless you, Paul Cornell), but writer Victor Gischler does aim the story in some interesting directions (vampirism spread by vamp bio-weapon suicide bombers), and it's good enough that I'll check out the trade paperback. So there's that. It does lose points, though, for being a big event thing, though, which will drive up the price of that eventual trade, which is annoying. I've been trying to follow Matt Fraction's Uncanny X-Men run in trades, but Marvel seems to think everything past the 3rd book needs to be a $30-35 paperback. Nope, sorry, try again, Marvel. I'm interested, but I'll wait until I can get 'em a good deal cheaper, thanks.

Casper and the Spectrals #1 - I'll admit to being worried when first seeing this, because the updated looks for Casper, Wendy, and Hot Stuff, I was afraid they'd gotten a Poochie makeover, but this was actually pretty good. Todd Dezago's story updates everyone a little bit, sure but they're still recognizably the Harvey characters we all know and (whether we'll admit it or not) love, and the message of friendship remains strong as ever. Though it's not as treacly as the old comics, and certainly less so than the millions upon millions of weepy Casper cartoons Famous Studios produced (though I'd take a marathon of those over a single Baby Huey or Herman and Katnip short any day). So yeah, this is nostalgia chow, but a young kid today would probably enjoy this, too.

Rambo 3.5 - Jim Rugg (Street Angel, Afrodisiac, The PLAIN Janes) shows us what happens when George W. Bush brings in Rambo to go back to Afghanistan after 9/11 to clean out the people he sort of put into power when he drove out the Soviets in Rambo 3. Antics ensue. You know from that description whether you need this or not. I fell heavily on the side of Do Need.



* Seriously, who is buying so many damn mattresses that there need to be as many Sleepy'ses as there are Game Stops? There might even be more, and there are a whole lot of Game Stops around here.

Oh, Kim Pine.

Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour is finally arriving with the rest of my DCBS shipment this week, so I've been re-reading the series over the last day or two as a refresher, and I am once again deeply, truly swooning for real over fictional Kim Pine.

Cute, funny, sarcastic (or, to be fair, full-on caustic), take-no-shit, freckly auburn-haired women are a definitely weakness of mine. I went and married one after all.

But Kim's a drummer, too. Hawt. I'm not made of stone here.

Sigh.

(My wife will understand. You should hear the sorts of things she says about Ianto Jones, or the "bad" vampire brother on The Vampire Diaries.)

This is no longer the future: Lisa Simpson's wedding day.

Remember the episode of The Simpsons where we flash forward to Lisa's (would-be) wedding day? Originally aired back in 1995?

Well, as the Bad Astronomer pointed out over on the Twitter, the date of that wedding was - is - today, August 1, 2010.

So, yeah, we're all pretty much old now.