Marvel's comics were my entrance to the entire comic book world, but Brian Michael Bendis was the writer who eventually made me care about writers. When I realised the effect his cadence had on my reading experience, I began to look at the names of the creators on comic covers instead of focusing solely on the titles. Before that, credits were gibberish. His Ultimate Peter Parker was the first version I'd read with a real appeal to me. The period after I picked up that random issue near the start of Bendis's epic run caused a minor vexation in my best friend, who briefly felt that I was attempting to usurp his fixation on Spidey instead of staying in my own little X-Men realm.

I'm actually quite excited to see a DC book by Bendis now, but it'd be even better if it didn't mean the end of his Marvel work. Exclusivity's an emetic, man.


Bonus Question!

What effect has Brian Bendis had on your life outside of comics?

He provoked an interest in David Mamet, which is why I've seen "Glengarry Glen Ross".

Thortal Kombat

I haven't been to a Thursday release in ages, but this one felt etymologically appropriate.

Also, BlizzCon fell on the following day. It made sense to get "Ragnarok" out of the way ahead of that.


I will say this. The absence of Kat Dennings was not thoroughly unnoticeable. There was always a part of me that thought that she and Loki would make a cute couple. Oh, well. If one has to choose between her and Jeff Goldblum, there's really no wrong move. Actually, he and Loki would make a cute couple too. But maybe throw in Kat Dennings too. Because why not?


But yeah. A fine film. It follows in the grand tradition of swaggering gladiatorial adventures featuring jovial thunder gods.


I love that tradition.


Bonus Question!

Thor and Loki versus Raiden and Shao Kahn! Battle of brotherly bonds!


Thor and Loki have had their issues, but there is some love in that mess. I'm not so sure about the other pair. Got to give it to the Asgardians. And one of them is even adopted! Bonus point for bloodless love.

All Horrors

I recall feeling some anxiety about the placement of Halloween in a week during childhood. Whenever it seemed far removed from the weekend, I'd get twinges of despair at the thought of all the Halloweens that could fall on school nights.


But I've come to realise that the adult world just decided to work around that. Halloween's tacitly agreed to be whatever the last Saturday in October happens to be. Friday if you're nasty.


Bonus Question!


The new season of "American Horror Story". In large part because of Evan Peters. He's a fun dude to watch. I first saw him in that X-Men movie wherein he played Quicksilver. In one iteration of the comic universe, that guy had some incestuous subtext with his twin sister Scarlet Witch. It later turned into text right around the time at which that particular universe basically went to hell. Death. Mass destruction. That whole deal. But more than usual.

Scarlet Witch wasn't even a presence in the X-Men movies, but in "Horror Story", Peters does have a sister, and they do have some incestuous subtext that develops into text. Nice bit of symmetry?

Gifted and Giving

I was watching "The Gifted" and musing about the decision to use the Strucker name for the main family. In the Marvel comics that serve as loose basis for the show, the name is owned by an old Nazi ally and his children, Andreas and Andrea. Like the show's Strucker kids, they're mutants. But the show's quite free of Nazis. These televised Struckers are just basic, affluent suburbanites. But then they turn out to be suburbanites whose genetic makeup exposes them to a world outside their sheltered existence. And this is a world against which their father's profession places him in direct opposition.


Unlike previous antagonists to Marvel's mutants, like the similarly named Stryker, the Strucker patriarch seems to hold little in the way of ideological hatred for the mutant race. He's just doing his job. A job that happens to involve persecution of  an underprivileged minority.
Incidentally, the Strucker siblings of the comics did eventually realise that wallowing in their socioeconomic superiority to the detriment of the rest of the world wasn't really the way to go, and they made some attempt to get out and do some good. The show's kids seem to be on a similar path.

So. This show. It's like "X-Men" without X-Men. It also features Nazi descendants without any actual hint of Nazism. But as the themes the X-Men characters bring don't require a team by that name to be present, the show does a fairly elegant job of displaying the deleterious effect of a chauvinist worldview in the absence of any organisation that explicitly espouses it.
Basically, we get to see the X-Men fight Hydra on television without a whole mess of rights issues.


Bonus Question!

Is "Nightmare Before Christmas" a Halloween film or a Christmas one?
Since its plot revolves around the protagonist's journey to understand the meaning of Christmas, I've always taken the latter position. But in its country of origin, I could see a compromise. It starts at Halloween and goes towards Christmas. Maybe that makes it an ideal Thanksgiving movie. That's a pretty underserved market.

Future Trailers

 "Blade Runner"! That's back in theatres. Remember those big Atari advertisements from the first one? It was made in 1982 when Atari was still a big thing, but it was set in 2019. The intervening years saw the gaming company drift out of relevance and onto nostalgic tees. But now they're making noise again. They're making a big push with a  new console. And maybe some other things? I don't know. I don't follow too closely. But it makes me wonder. Did they see the looming "Blade Runner" sequel, remember the chronological setting of the first one, and enact a plan to reach the level of prominence the film depicted them with by the real world's 2019?


Bonus Question!

What other movies have you seen recently?

In terms of the physical vessels of movies, I walked by a store and saw some VHS tapes of things that were released after I thought that VHS tapes stopped being a thing.



A Harry Potter movie and the first season of "Ugly Betty"?


That new Inhumans show is around, and it's made me think about Crystal's hair.


In the comics, its distinctive patterning is never really explained. Her sister Medusa's hair gets all the attention. She can pick things up with it! It's alive! Maybe Maximus likes to sing. But no one would talk about it because brother Black Bolt's voice gets all the attention.


But now I have theories. Not about Maximus. I'm pretty sure that he does a fair amount of singing to himself on the countless occasions wherein he's locked up in solitary confinement for being a mad hazard to Inhuman society.


But about Crystal's hair. With her elemental control, she's immensely potent. In terms of raw power, she's arguably at the top of the royal family.  I'm excepting Black Bolt here because the uncontrollable destruction his vocalisations cause prevents him from utilising his mutation in most circumstances.


But Crystal's basically the Avatar

with a slightly greater focus on atomic manipulation of the elements she wields. She's also less disciplined than some of her peers, explaining the martial primacy of less innately gifted Inhumans like Gorgon and Karnak. All of this brings me to my theory. In addition to the classical quartet of earth, fire, water, and air, I wonder if hair is her fifth element. On a subconscious level she's never really explored. She seems less occupied with constant training and honing than those around her, which means that the deeper implications of her Inhuman talents may be unnoticed and inadequately developed. That might include control over the atoms of her hair in a way that could even exceed the skills of the famously coifed Medusa if Crystal gave herself the chance to delve into her potential. But she doesn't. With no knowledge of this follicular aspect to her power set, Crystal's limited to unconsciously manifesting it through the formation of oddly defined patterns of colour on her hair.


Bonus Question! 

If Crystal were the Avatar, which culture would she originate from?

The Fire Nation would be the easiest fit. She could still be the lordly daughter with no real interest in the throne. She could even keep Medusa with her.  They'd probably be a better team in the eyes of the rest of the world than the sisters who actually ruled the Fire Nation.


And if we want to go further, Karnak's an Air Nomad and Gorgon's of the Earth Kingdom. And if those didn't seem obvious enough, Triton would have an amazing time with the Water Tribe. 

Hat Heads

Guns N' Roses. They are a good group. They've produced music I enjoy. "Welcome to the Jungle"? Yeah, man. That's a jam and a half.

But one thing continually bemuses me. That first album cover. Quite memorable. It features a collection of skulls that's meant to signify skeletal versions of the band members' various visages. And it generally works like that. You see Slash's skull in his gear, and you know. To this day, he's that dude with frizzy hair under a top hat. But Axl? When does he ever wear that cap again? It's never seemed to be a part of his look. Even the teased hair he  copied from that Scandinavian dude from Hanoi Rocks in a few videos is more emblematic of his style than that cap. I can only imagine that he got it over the weekend right before he commissioned the design and became obsessed with it. He thought that he'd wear it for the rest of his life and become inextricably associated with it. Like Slash with his hat!

And then he lost his passion for it after a few weeks.

Yet the sigil remains.


Bonus Question!

Best skull in a top hat?

Baron Samedi.



Loads of Lupin

I started watching the most recent Lupin III series a few months ago, and it brought back the vaguest memories of some other series inspired by the same French thief that seemed stylistically similar in my paltry recollection. On multiple occasions, I tried to find it to see what it actually was, but no satisfaction was found. I remembered that my initial attraction to it, which would have manifested during its airing on YTV while I was around the age of second grade, had a lot to do with its title. But I couldn't get the name right. I kept wanting to say "Nightmask", but I knew that that was an obscure cosmic Marvel character. Or several.


But I recently stumbled upon the name "Night Hood" somewhere, and that turned out to be it. While a bit of research revealed that it was produced by France and Canada instead of Japan, it apparently did owe a bit of inspiration to "Lupin III" in addition to Maurice Leblanc's original works. And maybe the titular Hood was supposed to be the missing generation between Leblanc's character and the Japanese descendent? But that's not my mystery to solve. My most enduring question of 2017 has been answered.


Bonus Question! 

Serious question for anyone who's ever tried to pick someone up in a bathroom. Does flapping your penis around while you try to make eye contact with a slight grin on your face work for you? This query's open to everyone, but I'm especially curious about really large dudes in their 40s and 50s. Also, it was late afternoon in a mall.

Dolls in Doldrums

I might have a habit of going to prequels of horror movie franchises I haven’t seen. And it seems to be working out. It happens during movie doldrums. I don’t remember the exact state of things when I went to see the “Ouija” prequel, but in this case, the only thing that caught my eye was “Annabelle: Creation”. Which is actually a prequel to a spinoff of “The Conjuring”. And that spinoff might have also been a prequel. Like “The Scorpion King”! Man, that movie ruled.


But yeah. The combination of explicit supernatural nonsense with a period setting really works for me in the horror genre, which isn’t something I generally rush out for. I like a lot of the tropes, but straight horror movies rarely draw me to the cinema. But these have been great. And apparently they’ve been reviewed far better than the movies to which they serve as prequels too. That’s more of a curiosity, though. I don’t bother with that.


Bonus Question! 

Doll versus Oujia board! Battle of haunted toys!

First thought? The board's planchette flies up and pierces the doll's eye. Ouija for the win? 

Back in the Zoo York Groove

In 2003, I received a really nice pair of Zoo York wristbands that attracted me almost entirely because of their brilliant shade of blue and gold embroidery. I still don't really know what Zoo York is.

In that same year, I also started listening to Kiss and vowed almost immediately to see them in concert in the future. That future came in 2013, and the absence of two founding members held through that whole decade. Kiss was always primarily driven by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, and no one seemed overly hopeful for the return of Ace or Peter. 



But now Ace is back. Was Gene just waiting for Ace to look worse than he does?  Is that some contingency clause in one of the myriad contracts around which Gene Simmons's existence apparently revolves? Terminated Kiss members may not return unless they prevent Gene from being the homeliest member of the band? That's probably why Peter Criss isn't returning. Dude looks far too dignified.



Maybe it's why Paul's never left at all. Dude know that he can't stop being the prettiest Starchild for anything. If he went, he'd be out for good.


Bonus Question!

Starchild versus Starman!

Look, man. I like Jeff Bridges too. But Paul Stanley lives to win.



Boats and Toads

 "The Tick", eh? I've great memories of that cartoon from my childhood, and the current live series creates fond new ones. But one of those new memories plays into an old one of a live series within an entirely separate cartoon. I speak of course of Knightboat!


I came upon this intelligent watercraft  before I had any inkling of the Hasselhoff vehicle upon which it was based. Still hilarious. 

Thus my thanks go out to the producers of this new Tick show for making Knightboat more of a thing.   Among other things. Like Peter Serafinowicz! I do like hearing that guy talk. Remember when he voiced Darth Maul in that movie wherein he only had two lines? But then he didn't voice him in either of the shows that featured him more prominently? Oh, well. We have him now. And here. In this thing. 


Bonus Question!  

Tick versus Maul! 

I'd like to give Tick more of a chance by equipping him with a counter to Maul's double lightsaber. Like some sort of double spoon staff. Made of Cortosis. He'd still probably die. But maybe then old Pete'd be free to voice another insufficiently verbose Ray Park character. Like Toad! I think that he'd make a good Toad. 


Do you know what happens to a Tick when it gets hit by lightning? Because I think that it's probably nothing. 

Duck Season

 If you're a duck, it's always swimsuit season. Got to cut those carbohydrates! But also willpower's hard. 


Bonus Question! 

Rewriting history versus solving a mystery?

I'm giving the win to the latter. Things can get too tangled when you fool too much with time travel. I don't really want to mess too much with that  business. Don't get me wrong. I'll go back to visit. I just have no desire to make substantive changes. I can't be dealing with lepidopterous consequences and junk.




Too May

Thinking about Spider-Man. Thinking about Marisa Tomei. In my life, it's safe to assume that I've historically done more of the former than I have of the latter, but here we are.

Anyway, Ms Marisa's version of Aunt May did seem far younger than most other depictions, and even the comparatively youthful Ultimate version had a decade or two on Lady Tomei.

But now I'm wondering if some of this could just be rooted in timing. At inception, Peter Parker was 15 in the early 60s, and May was supposed to be his elderly aunt. Not his grandmother. Or his grandmother's sister. Or his grandmother's aunt. But still she undeniably had the mien of the oldest of crones.

But her years might not have been of a kind with Marisa's years. Aunt May's generation had the Great Depression and cigarette commercials. Marisa's had freely available produce and moisturiser. Maybe May's always been around the same age. Perhaps it's as Indy once said.

Bonus Question! 

Tag team! Aunt May and Uncle Ben versus Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben! 

Ben Parker falls first because that's kind of his thing, but that just spurs May on to victory. Though maple syrup on rice could be delicious, the Parkers get the win over the food mascots.

Emoji Party

I heard a lot of bad things about "The Emoji Movie". But when do I pay attention to such things? I had to see Sir Patrick Stewart play a fecal coil. But it was alright. Almost like "Baby Tron". Or a mix of a better "Sausage Party" and a worse "Wreck-It Ralph". No one really seemed to be that irate about "Sausage Party", and while "The Emoji Movie" didn't have a prestigious creator like Seth Rogen behind it, it did seem to have some more meat at its core. It also had T.J. Miller's implication that he quit one of the most acclaimed comedies on television to be in it.

But yeah. Ultimately, if you ever wanted a spinoff about the background characters from "Reboot", this should dribble some moisture on that thirst.

Bonus Question!

Most appropriate "Silicon Valley" alumnus to play the Meh emoji if the movie hadn't been about being ill suited for that job?

Thomas Middleditch.

Just look at the dude.

Just look at the dude.


Maybe the impending release of the new "DuckTales" television show has just put Huey, Dewie, and Louie on the brain, but as I was watching these guys in "Valerian", I kept imagining that they were gargoyle cousins of old McDuck's mischievous wards.

Or hey. They're in space. What other irreverent avian was recently spotted in those parts? How about Howard T. Duck? He was stuck in the Collector's interstellar menagerie for a while. There are limited ways to kill time in a situation like that, and at least one of them could probably result in progeny of this kind. Did I solve a mystery? Who knows? It's a duck blur. But this is bold deduction, and I've heard that that never fails. That's for certain.


Bonus Question!

Didn't those two tourists in the bazaar look like inelegantly retired versions of Bruce Willis and Leelu Multipass?

Another Pass

I remember being prompted to see "Three Days to Kill" by the winter movie doldrums of early 2014. I was pushed further in that direction by the involvement of Luc Besson, whom I adored for "The Fifth Element". The movie was alright, but it didn't really have any commonality with "Element". No big surprise. It did seem to bear resemblance to "Taken", but I never saw that thing, and the accuracy of that supposition is thus dubious.


But this season sees the release of Luc's film "Valerian", based on a comic that helped to inspire "The Fifth Element" in the first place. Hey, 2014 Jaymes! It's a thing you wanted!


I was going to end it there, but I'm coming back because I just glanced at Besson's filmography and realised that he was involved with the "Taken" franchise. But just before I noticed that, I saw that he also worked on "From Paris with Love", and I had great fun with that one. Dude knows how to make a buddy cop adventure. And cast?


Bonus Question!


2014 Jaymes versus 2017 Jaymes!


Dude. We're the same person.


But I will say that this Jaymes is something child Jaymes would have wanted to be. I won't really be talking about other Jameses.


But they would have wanted to be this Jaymes too.

Timeless Knights

I went to see "Transformers" over its second weekend. I usually don't do such things so soon after release. For one thing, I've  no rush. There's generally a backlog. Additionally, the extra space after the end of the early rush is nice. But that wasn't even close to being an issue despite the movie's recency. In fairness, I went on  a Sunday evening, but the Monday was a holiday. Two dudes did come in around the last 20 minutes and sit in front of me, but it was still pretty sparse. One of them was gone for a fair half of that remaining time, and the other was talking on his phone for most of his companion's absence. No worries. I was using mine to read. Etiquette's only a thing when other people actually care.

Again I was surprised by a blockbuster's setting.

I thought that this was supposed to be a time travel thing? Oh, well. I probably missed some Arthurian opening by dint of my customary tardiness, but I liked what I saw of the robots' fight against the Nazis. As consoloation prized go, Autobot antics in the Second World War seem splendid. The other surprise? Apart from Tony Hopkins? The credits. Man! For a dude who inadvertently blows up computers in the process of rendering special effects, Michael Bay's crew seemed light. So short!


Bonus Question!


How's the Dark Knight doing? 

While I was reading the latest "Batman" issue, I'd forgotten that the entire arc was a flashback to the earlier days of the titular hero's tenure in Gotham. There was a heavy scene near the end wherein the sole surviving member of a mobster's staff looked like Penguin. The resemblance seemed too close to be practical in a book about Batman, but he was just hanging in the background. I shrugged and moved on. Then the killer addresses him directly and draws him into the plot. I thought, "What? They're not even going to reference the fact that this imminently important character has the total demeanor and silhouette of Oswald Cobblepot? He's just standing there, and there's not the merest mention of Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot?" I think that I even went on a quick Google search about the comuc. Then I remembered that it was a flashback story. In fairness, the flashback did begin in a previous issue. But yeah. Time's tricky.



The Quippy Thwipster

A new Spider-Man movie is on the scene, which makes it a natural time to think about the old ones. Personally, Andrew Garfield embodied much of what I like about the character, and the direction at least allowed him to display more of Spidey's trademark humour in combat than I saw in the Raimi films. He's the Quippy Thwipster! You can't have one without the other! You need both, guys! You need both.


I don't have a huge issue with Tobey, but he is on the dour side, and while his voice work in films like "Cats and Dogs" and "Boss Baby" ably demonstrates that he can be quite expressive vocally, I find that his face just isn't naturally emotive. And for a superhero, he doesn't actually spend enough time in a mask for that to be unnoticeable.


I'm sure that depressive Spidey is the iconic version to many, as brooding Batman is to hordes of people who've grown up since the 70s. I won't deny that there is a sadness at the core of Peter Parker, but I've preferred its more neurotic interpretations. The Spider-Man who related to me was closer to a bratty Woody Allen than he was to Willy Loman.


Speaking of Batman, I relished  Harry Osborn's development over the Raimi trilogy. By the end, he seemed from his perspective like a hero in the Bruce Wayne tradition. He thinks that Spider-Man's the monster who took his father's life, and he takes up a mask and gadgets to get his vengeance. He even had the patiently affectionate old butler! Harry just happened to be wrong.


Honestly, I cherished the cast of those movies. If you switched in Garfield for Maguire, it's basically perfect. And that has to be at least a part of the reason for my inability to find significant fault with the movies Garfield starred in. You gave me the Spider-Man I recognised. You gave me the most important part. But honestly, much of the rest of those seemed enjoyable to me too. Emma Stone? For instance? As Kirsten Dunst did before her, she played an unconventional but interesting version of a classic Spidey girl.


And then there's Jamie Foxx's Electro, who's clearly been taking classes at the Notice Me, Senpai School of Villainy, a venerable institution that includes among its alumni the Jim Carrey Riddler and the Guy Pearce Mandarin. The Topher Grace Venom applied, but he was denied for excessive cologne use. It's a bit of a shame. He would have been at the top of his class in Imitating the Envied Hero 101.


And Paul Giamatti? Mwah! As the Rhino? Double mwah!

And I just realised that it follows in the tradition of ending a set of Spider-Man movies by giving a bad guy role to a lead from "Sideways".


Bonus Question!


Brattiest Woody Allen?


Owen Wilson.


Electricity is clearly the better way to wake up. 


Tangled Up in Cruise


I recall being somewhat surprised by the time period wherein the Brendan Fraser "Mummy" movie was set when I first saw it. I'd been expecting modernity. But then I didn't expect this new one to be set in the present day. I was also ignorant of the inclusion of that dude from "New Girl". Especially because he seems like an actor who could work really well in a period piece?

It was a fine piece of cinema, though. But I thought the same about "Dracula Untold", which was supposed to kick off the same Dark Universe of monster movies that "The Mummy" now begins. Why were the bad reviews enough to stop those plans for Drac but ineffective at preventing the same ones from being enacted by "The Mummy"? Is it because of Tom Cruise? Hm. That's actually seeming quite plausible.

Incidentally, I saw the newest "Pirates of the Caribbean" film in the week before "The Mummy", and Ahmanet's aesthetic reminded me greatly of Calypso from "At World's End". It works in its way. She's the desert version of an ocean god.

But if Tatooine has taught us anything, sometimes those two locations aren't so different. Sometimes you just want to take your skiff out on the sands and surf the great Dune Sea. Living large on a pleasure barge!


Bonus Question!

How's the new Jean Grey comic?

I just read the third issue, and I felt inspired to share some thoughts to the tune of New Edition's "Candy Girl".

Copyright © 2011, Jaymes Buckman and David Aaron Cohen. All rights reserved. In a good way.