crazy colored glasses

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Amazing Spider-Man

One of the most lucrative film franchises of all time has been the Spider-Man franchise. Having been a big fan of the movies (as I was with most of 1 and 2) or having been rather disappointed with them (as most were with the dreadful Spider-Man 3), there is no denying that this series produced one of my favorite toys of all time... The secret identity to wrestler to Spider-Man Tobey Maguire action figure.

This figure, as most of the Marvel figures, has tons of articulation. It also has a very good Tobey head sculpt. Normally recreating a celebs head for a figure has been a total miss, but they got it right with this figure. I'm always a sucker for secret identity figures, and this one didnt disappoint. To be able to go from Peter Parker to wrestling outfit to the Spider-Man costume was just brilliiant. All while being able to have a nearly endless amount of poses due to all the articulation. I don't think I'd be stretching if I said this was the best Spidey figure ever.

As a side note, this figure has seen new life in the new Spider-Man line. I think the color washes have been scrapped in the new versions so the overall color scheme is a little flatter. Besides that the rest of the figure is in tact. If you do not have this figure in your collection run to the stores and pick it up, trust me, you will not be disappointed.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Wizard 200

I'm still in the middle of reading this, but I must say I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! Its easily the best single issue ever written on the recent history of comics. The art, the interviews, their selections on the best single issues, and the seminal moments are all spot no. I found myself reading entry after entry and turning to my wife to say "Oh my God! This story was amazing, it was about, blah, blah blah". This happened for hours last night (with a break from reading to watch The Office... yay, writers strike is over... new episodes). Then i sat down and read (like a complete fanboy) the interview with Brian Michael Bendis, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee... the true giants of todays industry. I honestly was like a little kid on Chirstmas morning.

Kudos to the folks at Wizard for taking a look back at the past 17 years worth of comics and writing insightful, intelligent commentary on this medium that I love.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

NBA End of Season thoughts...

It's been a pretty interesting basketball season. Who would have thought the Hornets would play so well... the Bulls so poorly... the 18-30 Sixers would turn it on and make the playoffs... that the Mavs would be worse off withJKidd than with Devin Harris. It's been a shocking season for sure.

As for the MVP, I must preface this by saying I am a die-hard Lakers fan, but I think the award should go to Kobe Bryant. I think his biggest competition comes from Chris Paul. The Lakers have had tremendous injuries all season. Bynum and Gasol have both lost significant playing time, while the Hornets big men have been healthy all year. Bynum has been gone half a season and the Lakers have barely missed a beat. If you take Tyson Chandler or David West off of New Orleans for a significant amount of time do they continue to win? Does Chris Paul elevate them to elite status? I dont think so, but thats exactly what Kobe has done with the Lakers.

These teams are closer in comparison than most people think. They both have an elite guard (Kobe Bryant/Chris Paul), a talented big man (Andrew Bynum/Tyson Chandler), a multi faceted big man (Pau Gasol/David West), a solid third scoring option (Lamar Odom/Peja Stojakovic) and solid deep roleplaying benches. So when you look at the full squads they are a lot closer than at first look. I think the race for the MVP is very close as well. I think Kobe becomes more valuable when you factor in his defensive presence. While CP3 can dominate on the offensive side of the ball, Kobe dominates on both sides of the ball at a nearly Jordanesque level. Like Mike, he never takes a play off. Kobe takes as much pride in his defensive abilities as he does in his offense. Also is there a more clutch player in the NBA than the Mamba... I don't think so.

With all that said I think the NBA should finally get it right and award Kobe Bryant the MVP (whose never finished higher than fourth in MVP voting). Chris Paul should be a close second with Kevin Garnett a close third.

As for the other awards I think Doc Rivers should be coach of the year. Yes his team was loaded but he sill has to juggle minutes and work out a bench that most thought was going to be too weak to contend for a title. He's done a great job. Rookie of the year should go to Kevin Durant with Al Horford a close second. Durant has showed some of that killer instinct and fire recently. He slowed a bit in the middle of the year, but has picked it up of late.

Early in the season I didnt think the Celtics would play enough defense or have a deep enough bench to make it to the finals. Um... I was wrong. Their defense is amazing and the additions of Sam Cassel and P.J. Brown as well as the development of Glen "Big Baby" Davis, Leon Powe, and Tony Allen all make for a deep bench. They are my pick to make it out of the East. Out West... could I select anyone other than the Lakers. How great would it be to see an 80's style rematch of the Lakers and the Celtics. In my eyes nothing would be better... even though the Celtics ould beat the Lakers in 6.

That is of course if Bynum is healthy enough to give the Lakers 20 minutes a game in the playoffs. If Bynum isn't healthy I have to go with the Phoenix Suns. I think they are starting to gel and could be a scary matchup for anyone in the playoffs. Nash, Bell, Hill, Stoudamire and O'Neal might be the best starting 5 in the game. I give them a slight edge over the Spurs based on momentum. It should be a great post-season... 40 games in 40 nights... i can't wait.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Humble... Humble...

The best scene in the very forgettable Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston movie The Breakup was when Vince's character is entertaining Jen's date by beating the snot out of him in Madden. All while talking enough trash to fill a dumpster. My love and I were cracking up during that scene as the gameplay, mannerisms and trashtalking were all very similar to the way I play Madden.

I used to bill myself as the "best Madden player I know". I would routinely and easily beat every person I knew who played. It got to be so bad that playing against the machine was never enough anymore. I would beat the machine at All-Madden level by mind-boggling scores. The game just wasn't fun anymore. I would continue to buy each season's game, but always with a little less anticipation than the year before.

That all changed with the 07 SuperBowl. One of my buddies (who plays a lot of Madden) came over before the game and we were going to play the SuperBowl before it happened. He was the Colts and I was the Bears. We went back and forth for a bit before a touchdown pass by Manning and then a interception thrown by Grossman which led to another Manning touchdown. At the half I was down two scores when we had to shut down the game as the real SuperBowl was starting. My buddy gushed over how easy the controls on the PS2 were. For the first time in years I felt the sting of defeat (even if we did just end the game at the half).

The game was the Madden wakeup I needed. I didn't play that console version a lot as I played most of that season on the PSP. For Madden 08 I bought the game early and played a few games. I'm almost done with a Dallas Cowboys season. So although I haven't played a ton, I know how to use my Cowboys.

The same buddy who was whipping me that SuperBowl sunday invited us over for Monday Night Football this past season. During halftime he decided to throw Madden 08 on his XBox360. I had never played the XBox before and I'm sure my buddy was taking it easy on me. We randomized teams and I ended up with the Jaguars and he ended up with the Cardinals. After a close game and lots of back and forth, David Garrard ended up throwing a late touchdown to Matt Jones to win the game. I didnt take that result too seriously as I thought it was fluke.

My buddy came by this past weekend and so as we normally do we tossed Madden in. We selected our respective favorite teams (Eagles for him, Cowboys for me) switched up our offenses (I've run the Mike Shanahan Denevr offense for almost 4 years now) and were ready to get rolling. As we started the game, I started to run my slow down offense. Two tightends, lots of running. I drove right down the field and scored. Again and again and again. I ended up dominating the game on the ground (and when the defense switched to a run prevent Romo ended up going 19-22 with 4 touchdowns). It was one of the most satisfying Madden wins I've had in years. True it was a little tainted because my buddy doesnt play PS2 very much and he thought the conrols were a little different. So although I did dominate in a 44-28 win, I look forward to playing again and more in the future.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Yankee Thoughts

So after the first week of games there was an observation I made. This team as currently built reminds me a lot of the the 96 Yankees. Starting pitching getting to the 6th or 7th, young stud reliever in the 7th-8th, veteran closer finishing up the game. In the first week of the season 3 out of the 4 Yankee victories have fit that blueprint. Thats why although I was a huge fan of putting Joba Chamberlain in the rotation and ditching Mike Mussina I've changed my mind.

Mussina seems to have rebounded a bit from his August troubles of last year and seems to be an effective junk-baller. Joba on the other hand seems almost unhittable coming out of the pen. Opposing batters generally walk away from the plate back to the dugout shaking their head after Joba has baffled them with a dancing slider or left them breathless from a nearly 100mph fastball.

It all reminds me of the 96 Yankees with Rivera bridging the gap to Wetteland. The Yanks were able to ride them all the way to the title. I know it's too early to be making comparisons to that title winning team, but maybe it's time to see if these guys can do the same.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Comic Book Roundup 08

In 2008 I've been reading my comics pretty regularly. Been going to the store on a weekly basis which means I don't have 3-4 weeks of comics piling up. 4 books in particular stand out with all the things I've read...

Action Comics
Geoff Johns and Gary Frank have put together a great run. Superman hasn't been this good in years. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Geoff continues to be the best superhero writer in comics today. His stories contain hig-level summer blockbuster type action, and more drama than a daytime soap opera. Also, as good as the Legion relaunch has been (Waid's run followed by Bedard), the Legion has not been this good since their hey days of the 80's with Giffen and DeMateiss at the helm. Geoff has their voices down perfectly. I grew up with Superman (boy) with the Legion of Superheroes and this story is a perfect chapter in their tale. On the art hand, Gary Frank draws an amazing Superman. The last few years Superman fans have been blessed with great art (Jim Lee, Ivan Reis, Ed McGuinnes, Renao Guedes), Gary Frank takes it up a notch. The detail and depth of his pencils is the best in the business. He is one of the rare artists who has gotten better with age. In my eyes Action Comics is the 2008 comic of the year (so far).

Green Arrow/Black Canary
If Geoff Johns is the best superhero writer in comics, Judd Winick is a close second. If Bendis and Brubaker rule the roost over at Marvel, Johns and Winick are holding down the fort at DC. Judd really connects with Oliver Queen. Having written his stories for about 5 years now they still are amazingly fresh, thought provoking and emotional (all while containing break neck speed type action). Arrow as a solo book was great, and although I was a bit skeptical about adding Black Canary I've been nothing but thrilled whichi each issue of this series. From the shocking turn in the wedding issues, to the escape from Paradise Island, to the injury to Connor Hawke, each story arc has been bigger and better than the previous. I'm a bit interested to see where they go with this current story arc as I think street level crime is more Judd's scene, not so sure about the extraterrestials. I'm sure Judd will make it work. His partner on the book is Cliff Chiang. To my knowledge, I dont think Cliff has ever had a regular pencilling gig. His work here is amazing. Its a throwback to the Steve Rude, Mike Allred style of simple lines and realistic looking bodies. If I think Gary Frank is the artist of the year, Cliff Chiang isn't very far behind. I hope these guys can continue their amazing run over the next few months.

Trials of Shazam
Had this book come out monthly instead of bi-monthly it would have been on my Top 10 list of 2007. I read the finale of this book on Saturday written by Judd Winick and absolutely loved it. The DC Universe has been without Shazam for too long. This story perfectly reintroduced Shazam while having the reader go on a ride of personal growth with Freddy Freeman where we saw Captain Marvel Jr. (a character I've always liked) grow into the new Shazam. The art chores where split in two. Howard Porter started the book using a new painted style, but then jumped ship to Marvel. Mauro Casciolli finished up the second half of the 12 part story. I must say I think Mauro more realistic looking art blew away what I though were some strong Porter work. The second half of the arc took a decidedly darker tone and Mauro's work perfectly emphasized that. It was easily one of the stronger mini-series and character relaunches in years, and clearly my favorite Shazam project (except for Kingdom Come).

Secret Invasion
I've been very vocal in my dislike of Marvel and Brian Michael Bendis' Marvel mega-crossovers. I didn't like Secret War or House of M. I've always felt that Brian was better handling singular characters as his work on Ultimate Spider-Man and Daredevil was almost without comparison. I haven't even really loved his work on either Avengers title. I think his best work on that series has been the single issue of New Avengers where Luke and Jessica broke up and she moved into Avengers tower. That book was basically dialouge between two characters. More of which I felt is Bendis' calling card. So it was with hesitation that I picked up this book. I must say I really enjoyed this story. I think its a huge cop-out that Marvel is going to use this story to retcon every story thats ever been poorly received. I do think this story has the potential to be huge. Bendis and Yu (who hasnt been on his A-game on the Avengers... or with anything since his Superman mini-series) were both on the top of their game in this first issue. I'm eagerly anticipating the rest of this mini-series.

On the not-so-good side... I hated the Spider-Man Freak storyline. It seemed like a bad Carnage ripoff. Haven't liked the Wolverine Origins storyline with Deadpool. Its nothing more than a 4 issue fight which could have been told in one issue. Punisher War Journal has been a little flat after starting out very strong. I stopped buying the Incredible Hercules... he just wasn't a character I cared about taking over for the Hulk. Both Avengers titles have been stale, but I think they will pick up now with Secret Invasion underway. That's all for now... I'll continue to try and update whenever I think anything good is afloat.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Popeye the Sailorman

One of my favorite cartoon characters growing up was Popeye. I even remember begging my Mom to buy me a sailor suit to wear. I don't remember liking spinach any more as a child (that came as an adult, thanks babe) but I do remember loving the character. Popeye versus Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves being amongst my favorite shorts of all time. His constant battle with Brutus, Wimpy always asking for a loan, the mysterious Jeep, and of course Olive Oil and Sweet P.

All of those characters were gloriously given the action figure treatment by Mezco toys. The sculpting is great. Articulation was nice for these figures as well. They all contained swivel joints at the neck which make posability almost limitless. The accessories these figures came with were nice little touches as well. Popeye for example came with a crushed spinach can (with spinach spilling out) as well as an extra bicep to place on Popeye's arm after consuming said spinach. A great action figure of an all-time great character.