Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New (old) Comic Weekend Round Up

My work takes me out of town quite a bit and in each city I have a few places that I like to visit and look for good deals. While in Greensboro, NC late last week I went to the local McKay's Bookstore specifically to check out their comic selection. Last time I was there I noticed long boxes of comics as I was leaving so I didn't have a chance to go through them. I'm glad I went back on my next visit to the area because I found some good stuff in their long boxes marked "Discount".

I'm a sucker for the classic Marvel characters and Iron Man has always been a flawed character I enjoy reading. To say the least I was surprised to see some earlier issues of his original title in the box. And yes, you are seeing correctly...the price tag for these books were just $.20 each.

I'm always on the lookout for Spider-Man books and I found a few I didn't have. I was surprised to find the Maximum Carnage issue of Spider-Man, let alone for $.20. For some reason there were even new comics in the discount box so I grabbed the Spider-Punk variant of Edge of Spider-Geddon #2. The Amazing Spider-Man Brand New Day Yearbook was new to me and featured bios and more for many of the key players in the controversial Brand New Day storyline. Lastly was one more issue off my want list of the Scarlet Spider (Kaine) solo series.

There are a few storylines I'm piecing together featuring the some of Marvel's supernatural characters. I was thrilled to pick up these two issues of the Midnight Sons story. The New Warriors #1 set me back a quarter, and even though I have this entire run I couldn't leave the first issue behind.

The first book I found in the discount boxes was X-Men 2099 #25, one of 3 issues I lacked. I was so excited to find it though I failed to give the book a good look over. Once I got back to my hotel I noticed that the book had a big crease along the back of the cardstock cover. Bummer, but it was only $.20 so who am I kidding? I've also been buying the current Weapon H book, but I missed out on his introduction in Weapon X. Found issue #5 and I figured why not for $.20?

I arrived home late Thursday night, only to have to hit the road again Saturday morning. this time I  had to make the short trip down to Greenville, SC to take care of some business on Saturday afternoon. I decided to take my family with me and make the trip a little family outing. The time turned out to be pretty perfect for me as one of the local comic shops there, Borderlands Comics & Games was having a Halloween sale where pretty much everything in the shop was discounted. The real draw for me however were all of the long boxes out on the covered sidewalk that were $.50 a piece.

Right off the bat I found a nice run of John Byrne's run of Amazing Spider-Man, issues that I rarely see even in dollar boxes. Very happy to find these to say the least.

I don't always buy Marvel Age books, but for some reason I had issue #67 on my want list. I grabbed the other because I thought it was still sealed in it's polybag, which it wasn't, but still came with a cool Fleer Marvel Masterworks promo card of the Hulk. I'm slowing piecing together the Malibu Comics tie-in issues with the Marvel Universe and this UltraForce/Spider-Man was one I've yet to find.

Of course I'm going to pick up any Spider-Man book I don't already have, especially at $.50 and these earlier issues of Web of Spider-Man I didn't have. Volume 2 of Strange Tales I've owned before, but I must've purged them at some point. Initially I skipped over these until I saw nearly the whole run. 

Before I hit the cheap boxes by myself, the family started off inside, taking a quick look at the new comics. I wanted to show my wife the new Rainbow Brite comic by Dynamite, but she wasn't interested. In fact, she was turned off at how the art from the cover and the inside varied! I love her innocence! We then moved over the displays of Pop! figures as my daughters have both started to take a liking to those.

Let's just say my youngest daughter, Winnie, was thrilled to find a Captain Underpants Pop! figure. I didn't even know that one existed. I like how my daughters are starting to like things similar to me, but branching out on their own. They like what they like for their own reasons, but just because daddy likes comics and such.

After our trip to Borderlands, we proceeded to get checked in at our hotel and took a little rest before venturing off for dinner and to head to one last store, Mr. K's Used Books, Music and More. I had been to this bookstore once before and I knew they had a section of comics, but last time I looked I didn't find too much. On this visit I noticed a sign on the front door as we walked in that all their $1 comics were half price. Yes!! More digging through boxes I got to do. This time my digging was more eventful.

I don't own a lot of Daredevil and it's a title I only pick up if I can find for the right price (i.e. cheap). I was never a huge fan until the Netflix series came along. I'm slowing piecing together a small run of his.

Four more Spidey books I needed. Especially happy to find Spider-Man 2099 #24. All I ever find of that title are the really early issues.

Slowly getting close to finishing vol. 3 of Invincible Iron Man. Isn't the cover to issue #40 beautiful?

Last but certainly not least I found the entire 7 issue mini-series of Shanna the She-Devil by Frank Cho. As I was flipping through my stack of books getting them organized my wife came over and made a comment about how scantily clad she was. That's when I had to point out to her that she lived in the Savage Land and that was the normal attire. Not sure if she understood or bought it (doubt it), but alas to the register I went to check out.

All in all it was a great week for comics. I told my wife as we were loading the car Sunday morning to come home that I felt as if I had been to a comic convention because it sure felt like it with all the new old books I acquired. Well that's it for now. Let me get back to editing photos for items I'm adding to my eBay store and get to work on typing up my next toy post for this blog. Until then...

Sunday, October 28, 2018


Halloween is almost here and I have only managed to watch a few new horror movies this month. Shameful, right? The other night I made the decision to watch a movie, but what movie? Would I re-watch something I've seen before? Grab a DVD off my shelf? Or search out something new. I opted for the latter and began to browse the offerings on Netflix.

I've said before in the past that I've been disappointed in modern horror for the most part as most new movies seem to fall into the supernatural sub-genre, a genre that I just usually don't care for. I was having a hard time finding a movie until I ran across Cargo and instantly stopped. Why did that name sound so familiar? Then I remembered a 7 minute short film from years ago my older brother told me about that shared the same name. I was a fan of the story, though short, and had no idea it had been turned into a feature length film. 

Before I jumped into the new movie, I had to re-watch the original short from 2013. If you haven't seen it before, you need to watch as it's a clever film and take on the zombie genre.

The 2017 version of the film was produced by the same people that brought us The Babadook, another recommended film I'm told. This new full length movie takes the core of the 7 minute short and expands on it, giving more of the backstory and continuing the story in a sense.

Cargo stars Martin Freeman as Andy and Susie Porter as his wife Kay and a pair of twin babies that play the role of their infant daughter Rosie. The movie opens with them on a house boat floating down the river in the Australian outback. You know they are trying to escape to safety, a military base, but you really don't know what's going on or why. You just know that they "acquired" the house boat and while trying to get to the military base their food supplies are running low.

You get more of an idea of what's going on after his wife is attacked, Andy looking through a pamphlet of what appears to be a part of a government supplied safety kit of sorts. Apparently there is a virus going around effecting people and turning them into zombie like creatures. I will point out the zombie description/word is never used and most of the attacks are implied and not shown. In fact, the "zombies" are actually called "diggers" once or twice, thanks to their desire to dig holes and stick their heads in the ground. Something about being attracted to darkness that leads them to do this.

Andy's main mission is to get his family to safety, but after his wife is infected he knows that mission has just become a lot tougher. Fast forward the story a bit and Andy becomes infected himself...which is partly his fault. In the kit he went through earlier was a large needle like device that an infected person could use to end their life, thus not spreading the infection further. The infection by the way may have seemed to be airborne at one time, though the cause of the outbreak is never mentioned, but hinted at in a few scenes. The infection spreads through biting a non-infected person.

If you're like me then you wonder "what if?" a lot of times during movies. Andy's wife was set to accept her fate and be left behind, yet Andy thought he still had time to get her to a hospital and save her before the 48 hour time frame for the infection to spread had elapsed. Because he dragged her back into the car she wound up dying and turning, biting Andy in the chaos.

If Andy thought his mission to protect his family was tough before, well he just jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. He has 48 hours before he is completely infected to find a safe haven for his daughter in this post apocalyptic world. 

I really don't want to give away any more of the movie than I already have (even though I really haven't spoiled much, especially if you watched the original short film), but let me just say that there is a reason Netflix categories this film more of a thriller than horror. There isn't much gore, again with a lot of things happening off camera. The language isn't too harsh and there isn't any sex or nudity. At the core of the story is human survival and how fragile life can be. Martin Freeman does an excellent job in this film and you quickly find your heart going out to his character of Andy and their daughter Rosie. It's a slow burn at times, but the pacing I thought helped the overall story. There are some incredibly sad moments and even I felt I would become emotional at times, however if you'll stick with it you'll see that it's not all doom and gloom.

I really enjoyed this re-visioning of the Cargo short flick and had wished my wife had stayed up to watch it. She doesn't always care for horror, but since this is movie doesn't follow the traditional horror tropes I believe she'll like it. If you have a current Netflix subscription and enjoy zombie movies or just horror/thriller movies in general, I suggest you check this one out while you can.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

GI Joe Custom Project: Iron Sycophant

A few years before transforming robots would captivate this young kid of the late 70's, I would become a fan of Hasbro's GI Joe franchise. I still have several vivid memories of my childhood, receiving certain figures, vehicles and playsets. While I may not have stuck with GI Joe all the way through the Real American Hero's life span, I was always a fan.

Hasbro introduced so many different play patterns with the original A Real American Hero (ARAH) toy line that I believed helped the line's overall longevity. One of these play patterns was the introduction of different themed subgroups within the Joes or the enemy, Cobra. One of these that I always enjoyed was Destro's Iron Grenadiers. I never saw Destro as firmly a Cobra character, but one who was just along for the ride, leeching off Cobra to get what he wanted. Eventually Destro would form his own army that he dubbed the Iron Grenadiers. 

As a kid I only owned a Destro and his Despoiler vehicle and the A.G.P. vehicle. I wanted more of course, but money and space were always an issue with the ARAH line. Hasbro would make several different vehicles for the Iron Grenadiers, but most of them I'd never own yet alone see in person. Eventually I lost my desire to play with most of my GI Joe toys, giving way to Transformers. 

Several years ago I decided to try my hand at customizing some old GI Joe vehicles, re-purposing them for Cobra. I had seen a lot of cool customs at that time in the forms of HISSTank.com and on YoJoe.com. I really had no idea what I was doing at the time, but it was fun. I did 4 different projects of sorts before I had to call it quits due to the change in seasons. I quickly found out that spray painted plastic did not do very well once the temps outside started to drop, so I hung up my spray cans...that was until earlier this year. By the way, I have galleries of my previous custom jobs over on the main GI Joe index page.

I decided to go with more of a theme this time around with my custom vehicle painting. No more would I stick to Cobra blue and black, but I'd try my hand with the Iron Grenadiers theme. I had to think long and hard about what vehicle to choose to start with. Preferably I wanted to try a vehicle I never owned as a kid, but one that wasn't too costly and didn't have too many parts. I eventually settled on the Cobra Parasite from 1992. This gaudy neon colored troop transport had potential, but those colors had to go. Once I was able to find a near-complete vehicle in my price range, I pulled the trigger. Once it arrived I removed all of the accessories and parts and gave them all a bath in warm soapy water. Once dried, I started to tape off sections and get to work painting. I decided to stick with black as the base, highlighting the various parts in red and gold. For being my first custom project in a few years I was very happy w/ the final outcome.

I chose to use the red on the vehicle itself, using the gold for the various weapons of the vehicle. While the shade of gold isn't a direct match with the gold plastic Hasbro used in the 80's, it's close enough for me. If you're wondering what those gold round things are on the side, those are landmines. Originally there was a catapult on the top that would actually fling the toys, but mine was incomplete and I eventually had another idea on how to use the now mostly flat top of the vehicle.

At the time I decided to go with the Parasite as the base for this project, I didn't realize their was a tow hook on the back bumper. This lead me to doing another project, which I hope to share very soon.

After I completed this vehicle I actually had to go out and purchase an Iron Grenadier action figure! Like most adults who grew up with stuff like this, my childhood toys were sold off long ago and due to space constrictions just haven't re-bought many old ARAH vehicles. 

I have come to like this vehicle however and I think it makes a pretty decent trooper carrier. There are six seats in the inside, but I'd image it'd be a tight fit if all the seats were occupied. There are also plenty of pegs around the vehicle for additional figures to "hang on" to the vehicle.

Since my vehicle was lacking the catapult on top, I began wondering if this vehicle I was "creating" could also double as a transport of sorts for Destro's Despoiler? Turns out the top of the vehicle was a near perfect fit for Destro's chariot.

I rounded out the vehicle with a few replacement decals I had and a few Iron Grenadier logo decals. I used flat black Walmart brand black paint for the base, Krylon Fusion for the red and Valspar metallic gold paints. Because I'm still a novice at this I didn't try to seal coat anything because I wasn't sure if it would ruin what I had already painted, but thankfully there aren't a lot of moving parts on this vehicle so if I'm careful, the paint should hold up fairly well.

I had a blast painting this toy over the course of a several weekends this summer. I had so much fun that this project gave me even more ideas that I would eventually see through. I have one large project still in the works, taking a lot more time (and money) that I originally anticipated. I'm not sure if I'll keep this or part with it, but with the Joe brand essentially dead at the moment I find it fun to revisit a line that brought me much joy as a kid.

P.S. - I've been asked how I came up with the name Iron Sycophant and honestly it was pretty easy. Since the original name of this vehicle was the Parasite, I just searched for a simile to parasite and I thought sycophant sounded cool! 

Friday, October 19, 2018

New Comic Wednesday - 10/17/18

Everything was rolling along this week just fine until Thursday morning when I got a resignation email from one of my out of market managers. I had my weekly comic post ready to go and then it hit the back burner as I tried to work damage control. Small week for me, again, which is alright says my wallet.

When I first saw these "warped" character designs by Humberto Ramos online I was floored. I thought they were going to be one-shots and didn't realize they were tied into the ongoing Infinity Wars story. This one particular, Weapon Hex meshes X-23/Weapon X with the Scarlet Witch. It was instantly my favorite design of the four characters. I was said that Ramos didn't provide the interior art, but that sadness was wiped away when I realized Gerardo Sandoval did the art as I love his over the top style. Really, really looking forward to diving into this one.

Another week, another True Believers issue for a buck. This time it's a reprint of What If? #4 and the cover says it all. Anything Spider-Man related will be bought, especially when I missed this story the first time around.

Lastly the next part in the Witching Hour story by DC Comics. The story continues from Wonder Woman in this issue of Justice League Dark. Like last week's issue, this one features a nice green foil to Swamp Thing. Beautiful cover in hand. Two more parts until I sit down to read the story arc.

That's it. Until next Wednesday everyone!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Hell Fest

Happy Halloween! Even though it's not quite October 31st, it is time to gear up the horror movies! I found myself with a little extra time recently while out of town for work and had credits on my Regal account that were about to expire, so I thought I'd see what is playing at the theater. It's not often I see many movies in the actual theater these days because of the high cost, so I really had no clue what was playing. I pulled up the Regal app and began to browse and I ran across Hell Fest. I had no idea what this movie was about, but I did recognize Tony Todd's name. I watched the preview and then proceeded to get a ticket.

IMDB.com sums up the story:

A masked serial killer turns a horror themed amusement park into his own personal playground, terrorizing a group of friends while the rest of the patrons believe that it is all part of the show.

While I haven't attended a haunted attraction in quite some time, part of me understands how terrorizing this story is because of how "real" it could be. Today it seems as if many if not most amusement parts have some sort of Halloween theme event in October. I know the local theme park in my area, Cedar Fair's Carowinds has their annual Scareowinds event. The older I've gotten the less I like these type of events and would rather just sit down in the comfort of my home to be scared.

First of all let me say how refreshing it was to see a new movie that returns to the slasher format...even if it did fall short in a few areas. While overall I enjoyed the movie I did leave with a few questions. Of course I don't want to give too much away because I would encourage you to go and see the movie yourself. 

The movie introduces you to the killer right off the bat, but gives you ZERO backstory. What is his incentive to kill? How is he able to obtain a mask that allows him to blend in seamlessly with the other actors at the venue? Where are the rides at Hell Fest? I joke about that last question, but seriously the only ride depicted in the group's trip at Hell Fest is a small cart that drives along a track inside a house...something you'd see at your local county fair. Regardless, the formula of the movie hearkens back to the days of Scream or I Know What You Did Last Summer in a way. The killer wears a mask and uses whatever tools he can get his hands on. Think Michael Myers. He'a a silent killer that shows patience, waiting for his moment to strike.

I wasn't familiar with any of the actors or actresses minus Tony Todd and his role was rather small. The acting, while not horrible, was on par with your average horror movie. Each college kid played up to their typical stereotype pretty well, however if this is a real depiction of how young adults act in real life then I'm glad that our paths don't cross because several of them really came across like real jerks.

If you're like me and tired of all the Conjuring type movies and grew up with the slasher type movies, then you may want to see this one. It's not full of gore, but what flashes we got were done well. A lot of silly jump scares, but that should be expected seeing where the movie takes place at. Kudos to the writer/producer for not throwing in the gratuitous sex and nudity that young adult horror films are known for! Overall I'd give the move a B minus. Parts could have been better, but the whole movie could've been much worse too. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

New Comic Wednesday - 10/10/18

Well alright, so my attempt at a weekly comic post lasted all of two weeks before I missed a few weeks. Life happens is all I can say..however if you look at the calendar then you'll see its Wednesday and that means new comics!

Since the majority of my new books come in one shipment each month from DCBS, I've decided to just show the books that were picked up locally. This means that there are some weeks where I don't pick up anything, however this was not one of those weeks. Thanks to the good people at Borderlands Comics in Greenville, SC I have a few new books to share.

We'll start off the with the $1.00 books - True Believers. I love that Marvel has been pumping out these cheap reprints of key stories for several reasons. 1) It's a great way for people to enjoy the stories without damaging the original copy a collector may own and 2) it's also a great way to get these stories into the hands of readers...period.

A lot of people may know that Gwen Stacy, Spider-Man's original girl friend died at the hands of the Green Goblin, but how many have read the issue? Better yet, what if Gwen had been saved? Originally told in What If? #24, this is one I wasn't going to pass up.

Never been a huge fan of Dr. Doom, but he is a very intriguing character and I loved reading him in the Secret Wars story from a few years ago. This is a reprint of What If? #22 and one that I haven't read before. Hoping it's good.

Can't turn down new Spider-Man releases! Picked up What If? Punisher #1B where basically it tells the story of Peter Parker becoming the Punisher. I really wanted the main cover, but all that was left was the action figure variant. Cool story, read it this afternoon in my hotel room.

I've been waiting for the epic Spider-Geddon story and even though I'm not current on my Spider books, now that this story is upon us it's helping me push through my backlog of books so I can jump in. I wasn't surprised that Marvel has a slew of variant covers for issue #1 and I honestly can't remember what cover I ordered from DCBS, but there was only two left of the Spider-Punk variant so I jumped on it.

Now these books may surprise people who really know me and what I like in comics. I'm a Marvel guy through and through. I have ventured out and bought a few non-Marvel books in the past, but traditionally 99% of what I read is Marvel. These two books may be the first DC books I've bought off the shelf since Gail Simone and Ed Benes were on DC's Birds of Prey. Yeah, that was a long time ago!

I can't really say why I decided to grab these. Perhaps knowing it's just a 5 issue story line and it's almost Halloween? Or maybe DC's "gimmick" foil covers this week drew me in? The cover to Wonder Woman #56 is quite beautiful, especially in person. I am looking forward to grabbing the next 3 parts and then sitting down to read through the entire Witching Hour story in one sitting.

That's it for now. I've got a lot on my plate in terms of photos to edit for toy reviews and for new content for the Transformers Bio Card Database...plus lots of comics to get caught up on. Now if only I could find a way to stop time so I could get caught up!