I headed out to the local video store the other night (yeah in Portland we still got an amazing one called Movie Madness) to rent some movies, just like we used to do back in the good ol’ days. Let’s face it folks, sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the bland streaming services like Netflix and physically roam around a video store in hopes of stumbling across something entertaining. I decided this time I’d check out some new stuff I haven’t seen streaming out there.
First up was ‘Gags The Clown’ a movie I’d wanted to check out for quite some time now, being a Wisconsin native for much of my life & knowing this horror flick takes place in Green Bay (a place I’d personally hung out so many times in my teens & twenties) made this a no brainer rental. The cover art alone is pretty awesome and would look lovely gracing an old VHS.
Anyway I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a giant fan of “found footage” horror movies and it’s been pretty played out these days in my opinion at least. But in this case I was lured in mainly because I’m just downright intrigued by movies made in ‘The Dairy state’. So the idea of ‘Gags’ was inspired by the whole creepy clown roaming the streets in real life viral video phenomenon a few years or so back. The interesting thing here is that creator of ‘Gags’ actually took advantage of this using his character to supposedly fool local Green Bay residents and the local news to report on it, eventually gathering up some worldwide interest in the creepy clown. A pretty brilliant marketing move to say the least. Continue reading
True Believers, it’s never been a more perfect time for the ‘Great Lakes Avengers’ to make their grand entrance into the MCU! Ok, I know many of you casual Marvel movie fanatics out there are likely wondering just who and what the hell I’m talking about, but the “GLA” as they’re also referred to have been around since the late 80’s and have on a couple occasions attempted to actually replace The Avengers, most notably when they tragically disassembled in 2004 in the comics. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin based team are most well known as the ultimate gang of blundering misfit superheroes and when the Avengers disbanded they figured they’d simply take the mantle of the team for themselves to reap all the glory for themselves. Of course they quickly found out they weren’t quite qualified when it came down to taking out major threats to the planet. So why introduce these guys now into the MCU huh?
Well at the current moment in the movies The Avengers aren’t really a thing anymore, at least for the moment. With Cap old & retired and Tony Stark dead, it’d be the perfect time to check out the origin story and rise of ‘The Great Lakes Avengers’. In fact with the ‘Disney+’ streaming service there’s the platform needed to tell their ridiculously madcap story. Since 1989 when writer/artist John Byrne introduced the underdog team to the Marvel Universe (West Coast Avengers #46), I’ve been a big fan. In fact I listed them before as one of the obscure Marvel teams I thought would make a great movie or better yet today a comedic Disney+ series after the success of the D-listers The Guardians of the Galaxy. To me the team has so much more potential than GOG, with their origin story alone being a helluva good adventure, if even at times more of a dark comedy.
The name of the team alone would spark immediate interest and originally back in the comic books they’d even been coached by Hawkeye and Mockingbird who desperately tried to whip them into shape. You could even have Jeremy Renner make a cameo in an episode as Hawkeye to do just that. Considering the team’s ranks were filled from a classified ad in the newspaper would open the door to so many great comedic scenarios as well.
Then there’s the team themselves, which consists of Mr. Immortal, a mutant with a super-superhuman healing factor and the ability to survive the most gruesome deaths, Bertha who’s the most popular fashion icon in Milwaukee WI who has the ability to bulk up like the Blob, Dinah-soar the flying female reptilian, Doorman a mutant who can create doorways using alternate universes to pass through solid objects and finally Flatman, the team’s current leader & openly gay two dimensional version of Reed Richards. But wait the team was also home to the now iconic Squirrel Girl and this would be the perfect place for her to make her official MCU debut!
This team and their story would make for the perfect superhero series, there’s so many interesting angles to explore. From forming the team, to training to be the new “Avengers”, to their many failed missions and their attempt to square off against a real superhuman threat. There’s something truly charming about exploring an underdog group of down on their luck superhuman characters. The comedy practically writes itself and they’d be a surefire win in a series of their own as there’s nothing quite like them out there yet. So what do you think? Do you think now’s the time for this weird-o gang of midwest superheroes to enter into the fold?! If I’ve peaked your interest a good launch point of the team is the six issue mini series from Dan Slott from 2005 called “GLA: Misassembled”, I think that would be a perfect blueprint for a Disney+ series….
Holy shit it’s Christmas eve!! I thought I take slip in rad holiday themed comic book cover from one of my favorite Marvel comics super teams, The Great Lakes Avengers! Hailing from my old stompin’ grounds of Wisconsin, these midwest misfits don’t ever seem to get the respect they deserve! Aside from Squirrel Girl, who’s now a superstar, these dudes haven’t been given enough respect & deserve in my humble opinion their very own damn movie!! This great cover from 2006 drawn by Paul Pelletier is a ton of fun to behold. The issue itself is pretty damn great as well! A must read this Holiday!!!! Long live the Great Lakes Avengers!!
Here’s the second installment of the all time greatest one shot comics, featuring small self contained stories that begin & end all within the span of one single issue! Today we’ve got an excellent story from 2001 in The Incredible Hulk #26 (vol. 2) written by Sean Mckeever and drawn by one of my personal favorites, the amazing Kyle Hotz. I immediately had a soft spot for this issue as it takes place in Wausau, Wisconsin (and even features ‘Eagle River’ on a highway sign, a place where my family’s had a cottage for ages) a state that we don’t normally see superhero adventures taking place. I had a feeling that Mckeever must’ve been a Wisconsin native to include such random small towns in this story and I was right as his Wiki page states he’s from Appleton (I used to live there!).
Anyway the story features The Hulk as he wanders aimlessly through the night on a lonely highway being drawn to a nearby city’s lights in the distance. The Hulk appears to be at peace in the quiet night, but hey we all know for the jade giant tranquility never lasts long. The cool thing about this particular issue is that Hulk kinda takes a back seat as the story really follows the exploits of b-lister down on his luck supervillain ‘The Killer Shrike’ and his wife Nadine who’re traveling the country aimlessly in his beat up van. I love what this one brings to the table as we’re able to see Simon Maddicks (The Killer Shrike) life as a real person. We witness the struggle of a woman who’s stuck by her mate as he’s chosen a life as a superhuman criminal constantly on the run from the law. She’s tired and ready to live a normal boring life. Shrike’s promising her soon he’ll be ready and willing to give up the life of crime and pulls into Wausau claiming that it could be the city for both of them to settle down in.
It doesn’t take long for her to realize Simon’s lying through his teeth as he eyes up a convenience store and tells her he’s got a new plan. Rather than looking for the big score like he has for years he’s gonna hit small towns hard where there’s no superhuman resistance. We get a real glimpse in to what life might really be like for a supervillain who at his core is just a regular small time crook. There haven’t been too many comics that have covered this topic so intimately and really given us a look at the starving supervillain’s daily life. It’s too bad The Killer Shrike doesn’t realize this small city’s also harboring the most powerful brute force on the planet-The Hulk. We get a compelling introspective into just what makes The Hulk tick and where his thoughts wander to when he’s in a state of peace with his surroundings. There’s a lot of great dialogue packed into this little story and Hotz’s unique artwork really brings this tale to life
The Killer Shrike suits up in his van and hit’s the convenience store with an easy small time score, or so he thinks. On his way out with the cash he nearly runs head on into you guessed it…good ol’ green jeans himself. The Shrike in sheer panic attacks The Hulk, who really just wants to be left alone. He’s doesn’t let up either as he’s convinced he can take down The Hulk himself, he keeps on striking until he levels an entire building upon the jade giant. The Killer Shrike however quickly realizes that very building also crushed his getaway van with his lover, Nadine inside. As things often go wrong when puny humans decide to pester the Hulk, this issue delivers a heartfelt punch to the gut as we witness one fateful night in the life of Simon Maddicks. I wish Marvel could capture this type of depth in their characters and villains more often as The Incredible Hulk #26 would be great issue to present to Marvel executives today as they ponder upon why their comic book sales have declined so much recently. Check this issue out next time you’re at the comic shop roaming through the back issue boxes, it’s a damn fine little slice of storytelling! P.S. here’s an old Marvel Universe profile for the Killer Shrike!
I’ve been super pumped for the new Great Lakes Avengers ongoing series for quite a while now and this weekend I picked up a stack of new comics and this was one of them. I’ve been a big fan of the team from way back when they were introduced in 1989 for a few reasons. First they were created by the legendary John Byrne, who’s been my favorite comic book artist since I was a kid, second The Great Lakes Avengers are from my home state of Wisconsin (a place where superhero stories rarely take place) and finally I love the pure oddity of these misfit, underdog, d-list characters. I always thought they could be a hit if they were given the proper chance and I STILL think Marvel could make an amazing movie/tv series with this team. So anyway was this debut issue worth the wait for a die hard fan like myself?
I’ve gotta be honest here, I was a bit underwhelmed with issue #1. One reason being perhaps that I recently decided to reread the Dan Slott GLA mini series from 2005, which I think was fantastic. Here we have in 2016 a bit of a more of a lighter playful take on the team rather than the dark comedy that Slott brought us. This new series is obviously trying reeeeaaallly hard to funny and personally I don’t think many of the jokes really land. It can be hard to make pure comedic gold in comic book form and I’ll say I think Slott & Byrne accomplished this more much more solidly. Continue reading
Ok after all of my recent Marvel Comics bashing I had to take a minute here to mention that I’m actually pretty pumped about the upcoming Great Lakes Avengers ongoing series! Since 1989 when John Byrne (one of my top comic book idols) introduced the underdog team to the Marvel Universe in West Coast Avengers #46, I’ve been a big fan. In fact I listed them as one of the obscure Marvel teams I thought would make a great movie or better yet a comedic Netflix series after the success of the D-listers The Guardians of the Galaxy. Of course I have my bias as well, growing up in Wisconsin, that’s where this team is from. If you ask me the Midwest just doesn’t get enough love in the comic books. So the fact that these guys are still representin’ means a great deal to me.
I highly suggest checking out some of their earlier appearances, the classic Byrne West Coast Avengers is a great place to start but back in 2005 Dan Slott gave us an excellent 4 issue series as well. Most notable from the series today was the inclusion of Squirrel Girl to the team in that series, who we all know now is one of Marvel’s hottest titles.
That’s a great place to start and you get a chance to see in ‘Misassembled’ the origins of the team as they take on some serious Marvel Villains who arrive in their neck of the woods to raise some hell. The team finds themselves in serious trouble as they face a real threat for the first time. It’s cool little story with some great humor.
This new series finds the original core group back together in smaller numbers this time as Squirrel Girl has left the team and original member Dinah Soar died in battle over a decade ago. The team consists of Mr. Immortal, a mutant with a superhuman healing factor and the ability to survive the most gruesome deaths, Big Bertha who’s the most popular fashion icon in Milwaukee WI & has the ability to bulk up like the Blob, Doorman a mutant who can create doorways using alternate universes to pass through solid objects and finally Flatman, the openly gay two dimensional version of Reed Richards.
In the new series the team have been anointed official Avengers and are stationed in Detroit to keep the region safe. The team on the cover of the first issue appear to be milking the fact that Squirrel Girl was part of the team and are seen carrying around a cardboard cutout of her. I’m hoping that they can convince Squirrel Girl to join the ranks again, it’d be a selling point for the book but more so she was a perfect addition to the team.
It’s clear we’ll be getting quite a humorous depiction of the team once again and I can’t wait to see what kind of mischief they get into. The new series comes out this fall by Matt Gorman & Will Robson.
I just read the first issue of the latest reboot of 80’s indie superhero Badger recently released by Devil’s Due and the formerly defunct First Comics. Seeing it and it’s retro looking cover on the shelf brought back some great days of hanging out in weirdo dingy comic book shops in the 1980’s with my brother in Wisconsin. Badger took place in Wisconsin and back in the day I used to collect this series, admittedly a bit confused by it’s incredibly offbeat characters and story arcs at times back then. Still the character was always unique, a mentally ill crime fighter with multiple personalities who lived in a castle in Wisconsin with a wizard named Ham. I mean what’s not to love right?
Well Mike Baron the original creator is back with a current retelling of the character’s origin in a pretty neat-o first issue. Issue one starts off with Norbert Sykes (our protagonist) as he signs up for the military and heads off to Afghanistan where he quickly begins to go crazy. He’s paired up with dog named Otis, who he clearly relates to more than any of the soldiers and heads off into the battlefield. It’s not long before his animal companion becomes a casualty of war and Norbert’s taken captive by enemy forces. While held prisoner he’s visited by a spirit animal, in the form of you guessed it a Badger! He agrees to devote his life fighting for the rights of the animals of earth and then embarks on a crazy killing spree against the enemy. He’s soon detained, shipped back to the good ol’ USA and institutionalized. It’s here where we first start to see again this is by no means your average origin story.
The issue was a good debut, however I think they could have really spread this one story over two issues to really build his origin in an even more powerful way. It felt a bit rushed at times and I hope they slow the pace down just a bit and really let us get to know just what makes this dude tick. The story was also a darker more serious tone than what I was originally expecting which honestly ended up being quite a pleasant surprise as this character has proven before he can lead a compelling tale if that’s the type of one Baron wants to tell at the moment.
The art by Jim Fern was pretty solid too, if maybe a bit stiff at times or that could just be in contrast to the incredible cover art by Paul Pope. I’m gonna be back for issue two to see exactly where this one goes. I’m quite curious to see if the elements of the 80’s Badger come into play and how they approach some of the more offbeat characters and settings from the original series. I’m also curious about this Badger/Putin fight rumored to happen soon. Either way it’s comforting to see a familiar face back on the shelves in 2016 with a solid debut I felt a bit like it was 1986 all over again…
The time has come to go back to my punk roots!! My first real passion as a kid was comic books but it wasn’t long until I fully discovered something else that truly engaged me – punk rock. Yes I grew up in Wisconsin and most people seem to think that all America’s Dairyland has to offer is beer & cheese, but hell you couldn’t be more wrong! Wisconsin has an incredibly rich history in punk rock and “Green Blah! The History of Green Bay Punk Rock” will once and for all prove all the naysayers wrong!!
When I was a kid I discovered how much was actually really going on in the punk scene right there. Sure there may not have been the legendary bands like Black Flag, Descendents, Circle Jerks or Bad Brains emerging from the scene but there were a lot of equally awesome bands that never got the respect they deserved from way back in the day. This documentary will prove that!
Growing up near Green Bay in the 80’s & 90’s was awesome for a kid like me who was hooked on the music because the scene there was bursting full of life. Yep Green Bay was where it was at if you were a touring punk band! The kids there were ravenous for punk because lets face it, there wasn’t a fuck of a lot to do in the suburbs of Wisconsin other than Skate & Destroy and go to punk rock shows. So now we finally get to let everyone in on the awesome scene that Green Bay & Wisconsin had going on! Green Blah! is a film by veteran Wisco punks Chris Pretti & James Baker and right now you can help fund this Documentary on Kickstarter! So all you punk rockers out there help these guys get this flick out there to document another important chapter in the history of punk music. Check this shit out and get on board already!!
There’s nothing I love more than seeing friends with great ideas and talent get out there and make their dreams a reality! So I was downright intrigued when I saw this cool comic book project pop up on Kickstarter, from people back in my hometown of Neenah, Wisconsin, a place where I spent much of my youth! It’s always been a dream of mine to write and or illustrate a comic book of my own. I spend a fair amount of time drawing these days, mainly for our weekly D&D games where I illustrate the games villains and player characters (which I will be posting here shortly), but I have never attempted a real legit comic book. So after taking a closer look at “The Plowshare” I couldn’t help but feel incredibly inspired!
This comic written by Doug Flaherty and beautifully illustrated by Dan Wheeler tells a rather chilling tale: “Eager to escape the big city, if only for a day, our unnamed male character follows railroad tracks deep into the country where he, by pure chance, finds himself in a field where numerous men are engaged in a ritual which leads to the death of the revered leader. Our man from the city faces the horror that he might be snatched and held as a future sacrifice.”
It’s clear that Wheeler is on top of his game here, his art is stunning and it’s a bit baffling that he’s not a big name in today’s comic scene. I have a feeling that if this project meets it’s goals that may soon change. Doug Flaherty sites Neil Gaiman as a major influence, and to me that’s quite a good first sign as to this little project’s promise. It’s refreshing doing a post here for something like this that isn’t connected to a giant corporation, spitting out mind numbing stories by the boatload. I love a great original idea being pushed by an underdog and proving that you don’t need to rely on a company with big bucks to get your ideas out there to the public, thanks to modern technology. It’s power to the people and the time is now to do it. So Take a second to check out this dark tale right here at The Plowshare’s official Kickstarter page!! They need the funding to get this printed and into people’s hands and every little bit helps!
I had the pleasure to check out the new short Horror film “Pity” from Head Trauma Productions & up and coming Wisconsin (my home state!) director John Pata, whose first feature film “Dead Weight” I was quite fond of. Pity may only be about five and a half minutes long (minus the credits) but it’s got enough rigid tension to stick with you long after viewing. Similar to Dead Weight in that it doesn’t rely on gore to drill it’s way into your brain, rather it’s a much more psychological approach to an impending doom on the horizon.
Pata has quite a way with getting into your head without actually showing you too much, rather he leaves much to the imagination which often times if done correctly is a much better payoff. This one is a simple look into the mind of a man who’s reached rock bottom as he deals with a break up with some one he developed an incredibly unhealthy obsession with. It takes place almost entirely in his car during a thunderstorm, where he suffers from a mental breakdown and slowly reveals his plans for his ex later that night.
The scary thing about it all is that most off of us have had a break up and many have had a crazy ex who just can’t let go. This goes to some dark places and makes you wonder just what that crazy ex of your own could be capable of! There’s a scene where he pulls out a picture of himself and his ex when they were happy together. It’s quite chilling as it looks like any average couple you might see together on the street. However the man looks like a completely different person now as his rage and jealousy have cleared transformed him into a monster.
The film is shot beautifully too but it’s jarring flashes of rage make you feel like you’re going a little nutty yourself. At this rate it really excites me to see what Pata will do next. I think this one should have been submitted to The ABC’S of Death 2, the anthology that covers a grim scenario from every letter of the alphabet done in short 5 minute segments. The first ABC’S of Death could have benefited from quality film-making like this. “Pity” would have been a far better installment than “P is for Pressure”. In fact there were really only about three that really impressed me at all from that first anthology making me question if I’ll even check out the second.
My only real problem with Pity was that I was hoping we’d get a glimpse of the outcome of the crazy ex boyfriend’s plans. I’d forgotten for a moment I was watching a short film with some hefty credits at the end. It almost felt like a trailer. That’s not a bad thing though as Pity did leave me wanting more. So this has me on the watch to see what’s next for. Part of me would love to see Pata go balls out with a full on, no holds barred, effects heavy horror flick given he has a decent budget to work with. I think he’s pretty well versed in fine character development and atmosphere, the some of the hardest parts of what makes a quality fright film. I think he could probably blend both styles of horror together quite nicely. However if he chooses to continue to give us more quality psychological horror I’ll most definitely be back for more! Wisconsin Represent!