Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What I Have Been Reading-World War Hulk

Once I finished Superman Secret Origins, I wanted to knock off another graphic novel I had on my reading list. Especially since I seen Planet Hulk. I say seen because I cheated and instead of reading it I decided to watch the movie on Netflix. Yeah, I know, Lazy. Now, I would knock off World War Hulk off my list and read it.

Like with Superman Secret Origins, I had planned to take the book with me and read on the plane ride to and from Los Angeles. Unlike Superman Secret Origins, however, I was unable to bring the book with me. Jim Haley's Universe didn't have it initally, but would get it for me the day before I was to leave for the west coast. Unfortunately, I didn't get the call from them that it was in the store until about 7 PM. By then, I was getting ready to take a nap since I had to be up and on the subway by 3 AM.

So, I didn't get to read it until I returned and after I had read the Superman book. That was fine. I had enjoyed Superman, now I was hoping that this book would be just as good as Superman was. Like Superman, I wasn't a fan of the Hulk in the comics as I found the stories a bit boring. This book, however, was anything but boring.

This book answers that age old question: What happens when you really piss off the Hulk? Well, Greg Pak with the incredible John Romita Jr. penciling, tell the story of a really angry Hulk who returns to earth to gain revenge on the people who banished him to the alien planet of Sakaar in Planet Hulk. His revenge is not just because he was sent away. He thinks that the responsible parties, Iron Man, Reed Richards, Black Bolt and Dr. Strange known as the Illuminati, also had a hand in the death of his wife and unborn child when the ship that transported him there explodes.

Before he gets to Earth, he makes a little visit to see Black Bolt.

Not even Mr. McGee could make him this angry.

 Once Hulk makes it to Earth, his intentions was to take out the Illuminati and anyone else who gets in the way. Hulk knows that he would have to face other heroes, so he doesn't come back alone.

 He brings along his Warbound gladiators back with him for back up. The thing is, as angry as the Hulk is, he really didn't need them. Along the way he would battle the Avengers, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Doc Samson, Gen. Ross and the US Army as well as a Zom merged Doctor Strange. Not to mention the epic confrontation with The Sentry.  He even transforms Madison Square Garden into a gladiatorial arena. Haven't seen that much fighting there since the beginning of last years Devils/Rangers game.

I don't want to give too much away here. If I have already, I apologize. No Spoilers here.

Bottom line, Pak writes a hell of a Hulk story and John Romita Jr. is John Romita Jr. The story is great as it gives The Hulk a reason for the rage. The action is incredible (no pun intended) and intense. The ending is a bit of a shock, but it's the icing on a rage filled green cake. If your a fan of the Hulk and you have not read this yet, I think you need to. If your looking for a good Hulk story, but not so much a fan of the character, this book along with Planet Hulk might convert you into a fan.

No, I want to read another good Hulk Story. Any suggestions?

Sunday, May 26, 2013


This week's topic form League members to blog is another one word topic. Why? Now, when I saw the topic, I initially was going to pass on writing a blog on it, but then I thought about it and realized I can go several different ways with it. I ultimately decided to make this blog a rather personal.

The question I am hit with from a lot of people is why, at 42 years, do you still collect toys and read comics. Now usually when I am asked this question, the words have a ring to it. Like the person asking is shocked and appalled that a grown man would still rather read a Spider-Man comic than the latest best seller on the New York Times Best Seller's List. I usually just keep it simple and say "because I want to". Now, since this Why has become this weeks topic, I had a chance to sit down and think about why I collect.

Honestly, there are really 3 main reasons why. The first one being that I really didn't have a lot of toys growing up. My mom got me Star Wars, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman and other goodies, but since I was at a special school growing up, I wasn't home until the weekends and when I was home, it was usually baseball, baseball, baseball. I would watch the Yankee games as well as the Mets and the NBC Game Of The Week so my time with my toys was limited. I did play with what I had and I did watch all the Saturday morning cartoons. Since my mom worked long hours as a home attendant, money was tight and when birthdays or Christmas rolled around and I would ask for a new glove or the Star Wars Death Star Play set, she would go for the equipment every time. Her reasoning was I could get more mileage out of the equipment and she was right as I was using bats I had gotten when I was ten as a teenager. Plus, it got me out of the house. What sucked for me was my cousin got all the Star Wars play sets and figures, Mego dolls, Shogun Warriors and other toys I wanted and would be a bit of a jerk when it came time to share. I don't blame my mother for this. Maybe had I just chosen toys over baseball and, later, football, I would have gotten everything my cousin got and more. My mom was and still is an awesome mother and did the best she could which is more than anyone could ask.

I still haven't gotten this and I still want it!

That brings me to the second reason why I collect which is my fulfilling some childhood dreams and re-buying stuff I had as a child. Now, I'm sure that the amateur shrinks out there will say I have some psychological issues because after 36 years I still cannot let go of the fact that I never had the Star Wars Death Star Play Set or an X-Wing Fighter or a Land Speeder, or AT-AT and maybe I do. But when I pick up a piece, like the Spider-Man bank I used to own or the Batman hand puppet I have been wanting forever, it makes me feel very good. Almost like I accomplished something I have always wanted to. I realize there are a lot more important things in life to accomplish, but as long as I pay my bills and continue to be the best person I can be, I see nothing wrong with collecting toys as long as it makes me feel good.

Which brings me to my last reason. Collecting makes me feel good. When I see a package with my name on it at the post office or see a vintage toy at a toy show or flea market my heart races. To me, there is no bigger joy than to see a toy you have wanted on your toy shelf, proudly displayed in your collection. The thrill of the chase has a lot to do with it as well. I love surfing eBay, going to cons and flea markets and just hunting for something that is going to make me open my wallet and bring something home with me. I wish I could express just how I feel when I land an item that I have been wanting for a long time, but I'm sure my fellow collectors know what I mean. And this doesn't apply just to my toys. I feel the same way when I pick up a bobble head or find a baseball card or score an autograph I have been wanting for a long time. Collecting just makes me feel good.

Bottom line, I love to collect. I will continue to collect my toys, comics, sports items, sketch cards, autographs, bobble heads and whatever else I want. And I'm not the only one. Maybe other people collect things like first edition books or antiques or art. Whatever the reason, there is an answer for the "why" that is asked . Answers may differ, but there is always a reason and it's usually a good one.

If you liked this blog, you may like these from my fellow leaguers as well:

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

Friday, May 24, 2013

What I Have Been Reading-Part 1

One of the things I have decided was to cut down on the amount of comic books I buy. I really don't have a lot of room to store boxes of comics. Usually once I read the book, I just put it aside and I barely look at it again. I usually just give it away or put it away. Right now, all I want to do is build an Amazing Spider-Man and a Batman comic collection, so I will need room for that so buying single issues will be cut down drastically or cut out completely. Plus, my toys will need room as well.

Now that I decided to read more graphic novels, I decided to start knocking off titles from my must read list. With my excitement over the upcoming Man Of Steel movie, I decided to finally pick up Superman Secret Origin. It's a book I have been wanting to read for quite some time. Plus, my trip to Los Angeles was coming up so I thought I could read it on the flight over.

Well, I was wrong about reading the book on the flight (Damn you Jet Blue and your Direct TV). Never got to read it on the outgoing or returning flights. But, not to worry. I did get to read it on the subway on my way home from work. I always love the looks I get from the adults when they see me reading a comic. As Hurricane Helms would say, "What's Up Wit Dat?"

One reason I picked this book to read was I was looking to read a really good Superman book. It's been so long since I read a solo Superman story. Most of the Superman stuff I read is with him in Justice League. A friend who used to work at my job suggested this book and I was skeptical. I read some Superman comics and found him a bit boring. But I agreed to give Secret Origins a shot. I was really sold when I saw the artwork and noticed Superman is drawn to look a lot like Christopher Reeve. Superman The Movie is one of my all time favorite Super Hero movies, so I was sold as soon as I saw the art.

See what I mean? You can tell where Clark Kent was inspired from by looking through the pages.

Superman: Secret Origins is a retelling of the origin of Superman. The early story takes place in Smallville and later in Metropolis. We never see Krypton in the story, although it is mentioned once Clark finds out who he really is. What this story is, is the trials and tribulations a young Clark Kent went through as he was discovering his powers and his interaction with people like Lana Lang, The Legion Of Super-Heroes and a young Lex Luthor.

The story also follows Clark's first days in Metropolis as a reporter for the Daily Planet and in his first appearances as Superman.

He makes his first appearance in the comic as Superman in a scene that is almost straight out of the movie. I won't say much except that it involves Supes catching Lois and a helicopter.

Over the course of the story, we see his first meetings with Perry White, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen as well as his battles with Parasite, Metallo and the US Army, all controlled by a now grown up Lex Luthor who is a corrupted business man running his Lexcorp empire. The kind of guy who gets what he wants and he has Metropolis eating out of his cold hearted hands. That is until Superman shows up and gives the citizens of Metropolis something else to believe in.

I really enjoyed this book. It gave us a different look at the origin of Superman. We don't see the rocket crash landing to earth, Clark is already here when the story begins. I'm guessing he is a freshman in high school at this point. This part of the story gives off a "Smallville" vibe as he is learning how to use his powers as he grows up to be the Man Of Steel.

The second part of the story definitely feels like I could have been watching the 1978 classic. From Gary Frank's art to Geoff Johns's writing  you can tell that the book was inspired by the movie from Superman looking like Christopher Reeve, to his first appearance  Heck, even to Jor-El looking an awful lot like a younger Marlon Brando. I guess that's why I liked this book so much. It's familiar, but a few twists here and there.

I'm aware that this may not be the best Superman story ever written. Die hard Superman fans may not even like this book. To me though, this was one of the best Superman books  I have read in a long time. I now want to read other Superman books and I have my eye on Last Son Of Krypton next. I have heard a lot of good things about that book, so I am hoping I will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed this one.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Star Trek Has Always Been There

Let me start off by saying this: I am not a Trekkie. Not by a long shot. I couldn't tell you why Kirk joined Star fleet or even if that's the name of the academy or whatever it is. But, for some reason or another, Star Trek has been a part of my life for one reason or another. Be it something I had seen or a toy or whatever, James T. Kirk and company have not been too far behind ever since my geek roots were laid.

Believe it or not, the 1960's series was not my first exposure to Star Trek, it was the animated series that first introduced me to the world of Spock, Kirk, Scotty, McCoy and the rest of the crew of the Starship Enterprise. From 1973 to 1974, Filmation produced a series simply called Star Trek. It's now called Star Trek: The Animated Series to differentiate between this show and the live action show. It was a Saturday morning show that aired on NBC and featured the voices of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, George Takei and Nichelle Nichols. Walter Koenig was the only actor who didn't return because the show's budget could not afford the complete cast, which really doesn't make sense to me. I'm sure Koenig was not commanding top dollar to lend his vocal talents to the show, although he did later write an episode of the show.

I know I saw this show during it's first run because I cannot find any instances where this was rebroadcast on later on syndication until the 1980's when it aired on Nickelodeon and on Sci Fi Channel in the 1990's. I was only 3 years old when the show finished it's second run, but I remember vividly sitting on the floor in my grandmothers home, watching the show. How many episodes I watched I could not say. May have been only one or maybe the whole run. All I knew was something about this show interested me enough to warrant my attention when I could have been playing with my Megos instead. Once the series ended, I am assuming, I had nothing to do with Star Trek for the next few years.

The next time Star Trek entered my life in December of 1979 when my mom took me to see Star Trek: The Motion Picture. By now, I was 8 years old, but I still did not know who these characters were. I didn't realize that these were the same characters I had watched on T.V., animated, only 5 years prior. Having seen Star Wars the year before, I thought since this was set in outer space too, it had to be just as good, right? Well, let me be completely honest with you guys, I have not seen this movie since I saw it in the theaters back in 1979. I am guessing the movie didn't leave a great impression, so I never really bothered to see it again. Not when it was shown on T.V. nor have I purchased a copy of this movie on DVD or Blu-Ray. But I do remember wearing a blue Star Trek shirt with the sewn on and begging my mom for some of the toys from the movie.

I didn't have much, but I do remember having these two figures:

These are not mine. I do wish I had these. These are the Mego 3 inch figures from the movie. I don't recall what happened to them. Probably the same thing that happened to my Star Wars figures, which I am still trying to figure out what happened to those to this day.

I remember having both these plush figures from Knickerbocker. These were my favorites from the Star Trek stuff I had and Lord, I wish I still had them. I had some emotional attachments to these for some reason. I used to always carry these around with me until the school bully knocked me down and ran off with them. My mom's response was "I shouldn't have taken them to school". A bit harsh, but I now know she was teaching me a lesson about taking care of my cherished toys.

I finally got around to watching a couple of episodes of the original series. The show was always shown here in NYC on WPIX-TV at various times, so I could always catch it whenever I wanted, which was not a lot. I don't know if it was because I wasn't impressed or I had other things to watch. I can honestly tell you I did not nor have I watched very many episodes to this day of the OG show.

In 1987, Gene Roddenberry gave us a Star Trek show I actually tried to watch on numerous occasions, but ultimately gave up on. I could never get behind Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, Data, Warf, Riker and Wesley. I saw certain shows like when Spock returned and such, but I can't really say I was a fan of the series.

A few years later, I met my best friend, George. He was (and still is) the Ultimate Trekkie. He is a huge fan of the original show and could do a great impression of William Shatner. Because of George, Star Trek was a huge part of my life and I would go see the movies with him, or in the case of Star Trek V, make fun of him (I call Star Trek 6 The Apology).

I have to say, I hated the Next Generation movies. I found them boring and not well written. When I saw Generations, I snickered at the fact that William Shatner's stunt double looked like Huey Lewis. I walked out at the end of Nemesis and vowed I would never see another movie again. By this time, I had had it with space, the final frontier. I had liked Deep Space Nine, but not enough to keep up with the series and I never seen Voyager or Enterprise. From what I heard, I'm better for not seeing either.

A funny thing happened in 2009. I saw a trailer for the new Star Trek reboot movie and instantly became interested in seeing the movie. I'm not sure if it has to do with the casting of Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto, who look like young versions of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy or because it was an origin story, one that I never got to see. When it came out I went to see it and was instantly blown away by the movie. J.J. Abrams directed the hell out of this movie and it showed. Not only did I think Pine and Quinto do a great job in the movie, but I also enjoyed John Cho's Sulu, Simon Pegg's Scotty, Karl Urban's McCoy and Zoe Saldana's Uhura. Casting Eric Bana as a Romulan named Nero was the icing on the geeky cake and I instantly became a fan of this film series.

I just saw Star Trek: Into Darkness today and loved it. All the elements that made the first movie fun was there in this movie and again, the casting of the villain was perfect. I won't say too much more as I don't wish to ruin it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet. All I have to say is, if you enjoyed the first, you will love this one. I will see it in the theaters again soon.

After seeing Into Darkness, I now have an interest in going back and watching some of the stuff I may have taken for granted. I'm older now. Maybe I will dig the stuff that I didn't when I was younger. I have always had a soft spot for William Shatner (his version of "Rocket Man" is awesome) and, truth be told, I have been wanting to re watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Now, I may pick up the Blue-Ray and spend a day watching it. I also have The Animated Series on my Netflix que.

It seems to me that over the years, no matter how hard I tried to shake it loose, Star Trek has stayed a part of my life for almost 30 years. I guess it's time to embrace this classic piece of American pop culture geekness and enjoy the voyages of the Starship Enterprise and boldly go where just about every other geek before me has gone before.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

League Of Extraordinary Bloggers-How I Spent Free Comic Book Day

Haven't posted in the league in a while. Once Brian put up this week's assignment, I knew I would be posting  this time around. The assignment was simple: Write about comic books. Now, I could have blogged about my favorite issues or my favorite characters. I could have written about comics I would love to own or the best stories I have read, But, I decided to keep it simple. I knew I was going to go and scarf up some free swag on Free Comic Book Day, so here is how my day went.

My first stop was Midtown Comics-Times Square. I woke up pretty early on Saturday and was at the store by 9:30 AM. Wasn't early enough, it seems.

This was the line in front of the store when I got there. I was told by one of the workers who I am pretty friendly with that there was a line at 6:30 in the morning. By the time I got inside, pickings was slim. Actually, I was just given a bag with 3 comics inside.

Got this sampler from Valiant Comics. Not too familiar with Valiant comics, but I did get to read it later in the day and liked 2 of the stories inside.

Got a preview of Marvel's big event this summer, Infinity. From what I read, it looks a it will be a good read. It also had an old Thanos story from the 70's.

The third book was Superman: Last Son Of Krypton. I will show that later in the blog.

After getting my bag, I decided to take a stroll around the store and take a look at what they were offering. I came across a case with some vintage goodies.

Super Powers and a 1989 Batmobile

Vintage Star Wars figures and carrying case. I believe the asking price was $500.00 for the lot.

Megos. Overpriced and incomplete.

Afterward, I decided to walk over to the east side of Manhattan and visit Jim Haley's Universe and check out the new location. They recently moved from W 33rd St to E 32nd St and this was their Grand Opening week. As you can see, there was a line waiting for me, but that was to be expected.

Even Spidey wants free comic books.

This location is smaller than the old one, but pretty well laid out. I stood outside for about 15-20 minutes, but once I got inside, the line moved pretty quickly. I amused myself by taking pictures of the statues that was on sale.

I really love those Spider-Man and Batman statues.

New Superman statue and Bane threatening to break Batman's back if he doesn't get some books.

Jim Haley's was offering 5 comics as opposed to the 3 I got at Midtown. And I got to pick out what I wanted. Here is what I went home with.

DC Nation Super Sampler. I want to check out that new Batman show that Cartoon Network will be showing later in the year.

I haven't been reading any of the Age Of Ultron series, so I decided to get this Avengers preview of the event. If it's any good, I might wait for the graphic novel or pick up the issues in digital form.

I have never seen the show or read the books. This is my first exposure to The Walking Dead and I am looking forward to reading it.

I picked this issue of Mass Effect up because I do like Dark Horse stuff. It was either that or Boingo.

Since there was nothing else I really wanted, Jim Haley's was offering a free Iron Man 3 Heroclix, which would count as 1 book. Since I am always looking to add to my small Iron Man collection, I happily grabbed it.

I have never owned a Heroclix before. it's really small and I had a hard time getting a good shot of it with my camera on my Note 2. Trust me, it looks pretty cool in person.

Before leaving, I did manage to sign up for their free membership club. It offers discounts on comics, toys and 40 % off certain graphic novels. I will be back later in the week to grab a graphic novel to read on my plane ride to Los Angeles on Thursday.

After, I decided to hit Manhattan Comics to see what they had to offer.

God, I love that poster, I should see if they offer one for sale next time I go inside.

The store was offering up 3 free comics. It was pretty packed at the Free Comic rack, so I kind of had to slither in between people to grab the issues I wanted. Here's what I walked away with.

It's from a Halloween give away, but it's Batman so I don't care. Plus, it features a couple stories written by Spider-Man writer Dan Slott. I'm sold.

I was looking for this book at the previous two locations and struck out at both. This was the last copy on the shelf, so I was so glad I was able to grab it.

Grabbed this Teenage Ninja Turtles book to finish out my Free Comics spree. I did have a Buck Rodgers comic in my hand, but I put it down in favor of TMNT.

Manhattan Comics also had Nathaniel Burney, cartoonist of the non fiction webcomic "Illustrated Guide To Criminal Law". He had his son with him, drawing along side his pop. I struck up a conversation with the two of them since the boy had on a Darth Vader t shirt. I found out that Nathaniel is a lawyer who works on his webcomic in his free time. It just got published into a book. If your interested in checking it out, head on over to I also found out his son's favorite Star Wars movie is Episode 1. Kids.

Nathaniel was kind enough to draw me this sketch of the Batman for my sketch art collection.

Love it. Thanks so much Nathaniel. I know his son will realize that Empire is clearly the better movie in time.

For my last, and longest stop of the day, I headed over to Midtown Comics-Downtown for an autograph signing with two of my favorites in the comic industry, Jim Lee and Scott Snyder, who would be signing copies of the Superman; Last Son Of Krypton book that was given out. If you haven't read Snyder's Iron Man Noir, I urge you to do so. Jim Lee is the reason I got back into reading comics. I hadn't read one in a few years. The Batman Hush stories were the first books I read and I was hooked all over again. I had to meet them. They will be working on a new Superman story later in the year and I for one cannot wait to read it.

Now, I called Midtown before I went down and was told there was a line forming at 7 PM the night before. I decided to head over and see if I still had a shot.

When I got there, the line went up this alley and wrapped around again. I decided I would stay and wait. It was 3 PM when I got on. The signing would be at 7 PM. Luckily, I had a snack and some of the comics with me, which I read as well as book called The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Yes, I had a non comic book . Worst thing was I was freezing. I was only wearing a t shirt (Star Wars representing on May The 4th Be With You, Yo!) and was not smart enough to bring a jacket. But, 4 hours later, the line started moving and by 8 o'clock I was meeting Jim Lee and Scott Snyder.

In the picture, you can see DC Comics  Senior Vice President Dan DiDio talking to Scott Snyder. Talked to him for a while too. I barely got to tell him I loved Iron Man Noir. Lee was genuinely touched when I told him how Hush was the reason I started reading comics again.

After the brief meeting and getting my books signed, I took a stroll around as it was my first time there.

While on that long line, I read that Valiant book and really liked the Harbinger Wars preview, so I bought it.

And here's the reason I was there:

Even got Certificates of Authenticity

The cool thing is I was able to get a second book Superman: Last Son Of Krypton signed, which I would be willing to trade for something pretty cool.

So, that is my long, long day. But it was a productive day. I got 11 free comics, bought 1, started reading a book my friend lent me earlier in the year that I finally got around to reading and I met 2 superstars in the comic book world. Yes, Free Comic Book Day made me feel every bit of my 42 years, but it was a fun day. Needless to say, I am looking forward to next year's Free Comic Book Day and will willingly do this all over again.