Jul 31, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy: Origins

Don't worry, this post won't be nearly as bad as Wolverine: Origins. I promise!

I'm not going to go too deep into the character back stories in the comics. Today's going to be a little word light, because honestly, other people have done their homework already and I'm not going to copy from them. If you want a quick read with a little more detail, check out an article on the Hollywood Reporter.

Peter Quill aka Star-Lord
First Appearance:  Marvel Preview #4, 1976

Star-Lord has his work cut out for him as the leader of an intergalactic band of misfits. He's the only human Guardian and has no "super" powers or enhanced abilities. Unless you count his sense of humor and wit.

Rocket Raccoon
First Appearance: Marvel Preview #7, 1976
Wiki page

I included The Incredible Hulk #271 (1982) instead of his first appearance because Rocket's not on that cover. The Hulk issue is his first color appearance. In addition to the enhanced senses you'd expect from a raccoon, Rocket is a great pilot and marksman...marksaminal? He is also known for his love of heavy ordnance.

First Appearance: Tales to Astonish #13, 1960

Groot was a bit different way back in 1960. I just read this story the other night in Rocket Raccoon & Groot: The Complete Collection. In it, Groot is an alien attacking the Earth. Pretty typical stuff for that era of giant monster comic stories. How did humanity stop nearly indestructible alien? Termites, they used termites.

First Appearance: Strange Tales #180, 1975

In Gamora's first appearance, she was known only as "female alien." She's since evolved into a gorgeous green-skinned woman that could kick Capt. Kirk's butt in a fist fight. She's said to be one of the most lethal martial artists in the Marvel Universe! She's also the adopted daughter of Thanos and the last living member of her species.

Drax the Destoyer
First Appearance: Iron Man #55, 1973

In the comic continuity, Drax is actually the soul of a human placed in an alien body for the sole purpose of destroying the mad titan Thanos. He was previously able to fly through space and shoot energy beams from his hands. More recently, he's lost most of his original powers except superhuman strength and has taken a liking to using knives in combat.

I fully expect their movie counterparts to have differing origins. But I'm really looking forward to seeing how James Gunn is going to pull these characters together into what he's called "Avengers in Space."

Jul 30, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Merch

For Day 3 of Guardian week, I'll be showing off some movie related merch.

Before I get to the good stuff, I wanted to talk about the Hasbro toys for a minute. I feel like they dropped the ball a bit this go round. I get what they're doing with scaling down the figures so they can make vehicles inexpensively and I would have loved having those when I was a kid. Toys like that were good in the early 80s.

The only 3.75" scale figures are re-releases from the Marvel Universe line and they're not the movie versions. I'm not a fan of the "bellboy outfit" costumes of the comic versions. So the only option I have for good movie figures are from the $20 Legends line which I can barely find at retail. The only figure I'm looking for, Rocket Raccoon, is the most popular so I can't find him in stores or online. Ok, I have found the whole wave of Legends at a local chain store called Newbury Comics but they price their figures as collectibles instead of using MSRP. They're asking $30 each or $40 for Rocket! No thank you.

Ok, ranting over! Here's some neat stuff that I have found.

Guardians of the Galaxy Subway cinch bags

I would have thought this movie would have had fast food tie-ins with McDonald's or BK, the two places I generally associate with summer movie toys. Come to think of it, I don't remember any Marvel Studios movie having kids' meal toys. What up with that?

Anyway, I got these cinch bags from Subway for $1 each. If you're lucky you can find a store that will sell them without having to buy a kids meal. They're kid-sized so they're not huge but you could toss a few things in them to carry around, maybe a place to keep your stuff at the beach or something. There's a total of 6 bags to collect, one for each character (although Groot shares his with Rocket) and the team one.

Guardians of the Galaxy Funko Mystery Mini Bobbleheads

Here are a couple of Mystery Mini Bobbleheads from Funko. I found them in Newbury Comics so I probably overpaid a couple bucks at $7.99 each but I'd been wanting them for so long I didn't care. They're blind boxed (if the word Mystery didn't give it away) but the 12 figures seem to have been given equal distribution so they're all the same "rarity." Some characters have alternate poses and some have glow in the dark or metallic variations.

Ronan over on the left is pretty cool with his hammer and armor. Drax, on the other hand...I don't know if I got a bad figure or what but I'm not really digging it. His head is positioned so that you can't see the face unless he's at your eye level or higher. The pose he's in would be good for him to be sitting high up like he's going to jump down on you, but otherwise you're looking at the top of his head. The peg the head sits on should have been positioned back more so he could be looking forward instead of down.

Guardians of the Galaxy Funko Mini Bobblehead Drax

I know I'll be getting a few more of these to get other characters but I may be trolling Ebay for deals so I can get the exact ones I want.

Guardians of the Galaxy Plush Rocket Raccoon

For now, this is the only Rocket Raccoon that I have but he's adorable! As far as I know, he's a TRU exclusive. Protip: if you get him in the store, check their online price. My store had it for $4 more than the TRU online price! He stands about 15" tall and has wires in his legs so you can kind of make him sit down. There aren't any wires in the arms, which is too bad.

Update: Plush Rocket is also one of the few items available in the Disney Store and they have him at $24.99. They also have an awesome hoodie, but it's not in adult sizes!

In addition to these things, I have seen school supplies like a backpack and matching lunch bag at TRU and notebook and folders at Target. There's also an assortment of books aimed at the younger crowd: movie junior novelization, sticker book, and step into reading books. I'm staying away from spoilers so I haven't checked any of those out beyond their covers.

Finally, it was announced at SDCC that the Guardians are coming to Disney Infinity 2.0. I don't have a console to play the game on, but I may end up picking up the figures for their artistic interpretations. Maybe it's a good thing I can't play the game...

Jul 29, 2014

Now Hear This - Guardians of the Galaxy Soundtrack

I forgot to mention in yesterday's Guardians post that as of right now the movie has a 97% rating at Rotten Tomatoes with 33 reviews. Yesterday it had 25 reviews and 100% rating. Not sure if that one person voted it rotten just to bring it down (because you know how the internet is!) or if they really hated it. I'm not reading any reviews to find out!

After the full trailer debut back in February, it seemed like everyone was "Hooked on a Feeling." The following day, the track's sales were up 700%! The song choice for the trailer was spot on as it helped set the tone for what audiences might expect from a movie with an anthropomorphic talking raccoon. After the "Awesome Mix Vol 1." track list was announced by James Gunn at the start of July, fan made playlists started popping up all over Spotify.

Both the soundtrack and the score are landing in stores today along with a deluxe edition that includes both. I only wish the score album had been released earlier. I grabbed the Tron: Legacy soundtrack day of release which was well in advance of the movie. I had plenty of time to listen and get to know it. When I finally saw the movie, I felt like I had more of a connection to it by knowing the score so well. It added another layer to the experience because I was able to better contextualize the scenes with the music.

I've listened to the score a couple times now and I think it's pretty good! There's plenty of action-y sounding tracks and a few others that sound pretty epic and big in scope. As usually happens, it seems like the bad guys have all the good songs!

It will be interesting to see/hear how the tunes of the 70s will fit into the modern space-faring movie, even if Star Lord himself is a little tired of some of the tracks. Using music that most people are familiar with will give them something to connect to out among the alien worlds. I'm personally thrilled to see "Cherry Bomb" by The Runaways on the soundtrack. I've been a Joan Jett fan since "I Love Rock n Roll" came out. It wasn't until later on that I discovered The Runaways and they quickly became one of my favorite bands. It's pretty cool that a new generation will have a chance to discover them.

I heard people wondering why Quill would have a mix tape from before the time he was likely born. While this will be explained in the movie, I'd say it's not any different than me liking the music of the 50s/60s or 20-somethings digging music from the 80s. I think it's something in most people's DNA that latches on to the "oldies", whether it's ironic or not.

Here are links to listen via Spotify if you have it.

Fan made Soundtrack playlist

Original Film Score by Tyler Bates

And if you like what you hear, you can click on any of the above album covers to order them from Amazon. The deluxe version will also have a vinyl release in September.

Jul 28, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Week!

To say I'm excited for Guardians of the Galaxy would be a severe understatement. I'm so psyched that I'm going to try and squeeze in a whole week of posts leading up to the movie's release on Friday. Or maybe I'll cop out at four posts since a lot of places are doing advance screenings Thursday night. I won't be attending then, which is kind of a bummer as I'll miss the exclusive premier poster (below). Maybe they'll still have some when I go.

I haven't been this excited for a theatrical movie since Tron: Legacy. I was totally in for Avengers, but not to the point that I'm manically hunting for merchandise! So just what is it that has me so pumped about this movie? It's not necessarily that it's part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although it does mean potential Avengers crossovers down the line. 

The crazy thing is that I've only been reading Guardians since their most recent comic series started last year, so it's not that I'm a long time fan from the comics. I know a lot of fans had issue that they weren't going with the original Guardians line-up. But I'd be less happy if they weren't using the current 616-Universe team because one of them is one of the two main things that set my fanboy heart aflutter. 

First, is the trailers. The look and feel of what I've seen has been giving me a major old school Star Wars vibe: adventure, aliens, action, character banter. I read several people that went to the IMAX 17-minute sneak peek a couple weeks ago had the same feeling, which is fantastic. Based on what little I've seen, I would love for this to become a franchise and possibly launch a resurgence of fun action sci-fi movies. Although back in '04, I was really hoping Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow would kickstart a new round of pulp movies, so...

Second is a little thing called Rocket Raccoon:

Rocket Raccoon was inspired by the Beatles' "Rocky Raccoon".
I have no doubt the studio plans for him to be the breakout character of the group, and that's ok with me! I've been a fan of his since his limited series run in 1985, which I recently reread for the first time in decades.  What I didn't know in '85 was that this series was penciled by Mike (Hellboy) Mignola. 

The limited series was pretty crazy with Rocket and his pal Wal Russ (yes, he's a walrus!) protecting an abandoned colony of mentally ill humans from Lord Dyvnne and an army of killer clowns. I can't explain it and do it any kind of justice. So 15 year old me is still in shock that Rocket is appearing in a live action movie, even though he'll be a little different.

During the San Diego Comic Con weekend, Marvel confirmed a sequel for Guardians is already in the works. And they also announced an animated series coming to Disney XD. They've made appearances in other Marvel animated series but the new series will have a new style from previous Marvel shows. I'll have to wait and see the show before making any decision on it (even though I'm not loving Rocket's look here) but the galaxy is wide open for their adventures.

If you want to do some homework before the movie, here's a few things to check out. On the left is the original Guardians crew. In the middle is where I started in 2013. And finally is a trade collection of some prequel comics that are directly tied to the movie universe.


Jul 24, 2014

July 2014 Loot Crate - Villains

AEIOU and Sometimes Why is supplied this Loot Crate in exchange for a review.

For the month of July, Loot Crate delivers a box of badness! The theme for this month is villains. And it looks like they really handed the whole thing over to the baddies this month, take a peek at the inside of the Crate!

July 2014 Loot Crate: Villains box

The is the first time since I've been getting Loot Crate that I've seen anything different on the inside of the box. I think it's a great idea to kickstart the theme from the moment you open it. And, it's a nice surprise.

July 2014 Loot Crate: Villains box closeup

The cover of this month's mini-mag has villains from every corner of pop culture racing to steal a Loot Crate. I bet Vader's just going to Force lift it anyway.

July 2014 Loot Crate: Villains mini-mag

Inside is an interview with artist Skottie Young, who is working on the current Rocket Raccoon series at Marvel (more on that later), Loot Crate's Top 5 Video Game Villains, and a few criminal conundrums to occupy your time.

July 2014 Loot Crate: Villains socks

From Marvel Comics & HYP is a pair of Deadpool socks! These are pretty neat but I think it'd be hilarious if they made them so that it looked like Wade's eyes were peering out over the top of your shoes. Next to them is the monthly exclusive button with art work from the mini-mag cover.

July 2014 Loot Crate: Villains DVD & keychain

On the left is a DVD of a documentary about the super-villains of DC Comics narrated by Christopher Lee. I'm looking forward to watching this and I'm sure Mr. Lee narrating it will add some extra menace. In the center is a Bowser magnet. Sorry shell for brains, I'm heading to another castle! And on the right is a Darth Vader key chain. I'm actually pretty excited about this item! I have a Bag of Holding from ThinkGeek and one of the zipper pulls broke off. I've been looking for a geeky key chain to replace it with. Problem solved!

July 2014 Loot Crate: Villains posters

Speaking of DC super-villains, here's a pair of mini posters featuring Mistah J and his homicidal Harley. They are attached in the middle there and I know if I tried to cut them apart I'd end up cutting a crooked line. But maybe with these two, that's not a bad thing?

July 2014 Loot Crate: Rocket Racoon Exclusive

Definitely my favorite item in the Crate this month! I've been a Rocket Raccoon fan since his miniseries in the 80s. This first issue of his new series featuring artist Skottie Young (see, I said I'd get to this later) is a riot. It's sort of like Looney Tunes in space, but with a gun toting raccoon and giant tree man. This variant cover by Dale Keown is exclusive to Loot Crate, in case there was any question.

July 2014 Loot Crate: Villains Joki

Rounding out the antihero assembly is this mashup shirt from Woot! combining two of the most mischievous miscreants from the Marvel and DC universes. Sheesh, could you imagine what the Joker would do if he had Loki's power?

And just for funsies, here's the shirt under blacklight

July 2014 Loot Crate: Villains shirt blacklight

If you want to get sweet swag in your mail every month, head over to Loot Crate and use code HEROES for 10% off any subscription plan. Not so coincidentally, that is the theme for August's Crate and they've already released a teaser image featuring certain young reptilian martial artists.

Jul 22, 2014

2014 Sand Sculpting Festival

This weekend we hit the annual Sand Sculpting Festival at Revere Beach. Usually when we go, it is a scorching day. This year, it was a bit overcast which was good for the temperature, but not so great for taking photos. Incidentally, Johnny Depp and Sienna Miller were just here last week shooting for the Whitey Bulger movie. But no, I didn't see them.

The 15 competing artists had 30 hours to complete their entries. Each person was given about 12 tons of sand in an 18' x 18' area. Keep in mind as we go, for the most part, only the master sculptor was allowed to work on their entry. Maybe next year I'll remember to go down there while they're still sculpting to get pics. But in case you want to see some in progress shots, you can go here.

Every year, there's a large themed piece that also displays the event sponsors. The theme for this year was “Stars and Stripes: A Tribute to our Nation’s Armed Forces” and the folks putting on the event teamed with the Wounded Warrior Project as well.

Armed Forces tribute

Over the past few years, they've started putting up more barriers to keep people away from the art. I totally understand this but it also makes it a pain to get what I consider good photos. This will give you an idea just how big the above piece is.

Beach Panorama

This was one of my favorites and really makes me wish I could have taken a 3D photo because there's a lot to see from any angle.

War frontWar heart

This one was done by Jobi Bouchard and titled War: My Heart Tells Me Otherwise. It ended up with second place. I just like the sci-fi look of it. It sort of looks like a Transformer. If you view the full size pics on Flickr, you can see the great detail put into the finger joints. Looking through the back, you can see a heart inside (right.)

Here's a view from the side. The way they use detail to give these extra depth always amazes me. Not being a sculptor, I'd never think to take away or use negative space if I had to build something like this.

War side

First place went to Rusty Croft's Double Vision. Probably my fourth favorite.

Double Vision

The People's Choice winner, voted on by the public, was Pavel Myinikov’s Time is Running Out. If you look closely (or click here) you can see the pupil is actually a clock face. And the back of it shows gears.

Time front

Food trucks lined the streets offering just about anything you might want. I took a photo of The Bacon Truck because bacon. Plus, the bacon guy on the side looks like he came right out of Adventure Time.

Bacon Truck

There are also various vendors present too.


There's plenty more sculpture pics that I didn't show off. You can see them all on Flickr.
There are also pics from previous years there too.

Jul 15, 2014

ImagiNext Series 3 Monster Figures

I stumbled on the ImagiNext Series 3 blind bag figures at Target today. I still haven't seen Series 2 in my area *shrug*. I knew there were a couple monster-iffic figures in this wave and some Google-Fu on my phone lead me to fellow blogger Eric's site, Toyriffic. Thanks, Eric!

First up is a pretty traditional creature of the night.

ImagiNext Series 3 Vampire

The cape is removable but it's just so darn comfy (and suave) that he wouldn't take it off for photos. And in case you're wondering, yes, I do have a special camera that can photograph vampires. I got it from a shop called Curious Goods a few years ago...

ImagiNext Series 3 Vampire

He also comes with a bat/gargoyle looking thing that clips on his arm as if he's a falconer, but with a bat! I guess it's more interesting to cast it in red than having a piece of black plastic but it does look a little odd. While we're up close and personal here, take a look at those lapels! Tiny little skeletons, although I'm not sure how they got him to agree to the way the breast bone forms a cross.

ImagiNext Series 3 Vampire

The inside of the cape has a couple of tabs that push it out instead of having it just hang flat.

Next is another generic variation of my favorite movie monster: the Creature from the Black Lagoon! ImagiNext's is the Green Lagoon Swamp Man.

ImagiNext Series 3 Green Lagoon Swamp Man

I get Poseidon made the trident the weapon of choice for aquatic life, but I don't think he really needs one. Whether he's trying to catch dinner or ward off some pesky humans from his home, he can handle it without a weapon! Get off my kelp bed!

ImagiNext Series 3 Green Lagoon Swamp Man

He also has a breather helmet for those long sojourns out of water. They tinted it blue (to simulate being filled with water I guess) but it's a little dark and kind of obscures his face. It's hard to see in the photo but they also sculpted a few bubbles on the helmet. You can see one over his right (your left) eye. I dig the helmet and will have to check if any of the other figures have a ray gun that he can steal to make him the Creature from Black Space!

ImagiNext Series 3 Green Lagoon Swamp Man

On a side note, I also found a nice jar to hold my growing key collection. Here, it's being used as an aquarium exhibit. Check out those teeth! Again, great attention to small details.

There is also a zombie that looks suspiciously like Jason Voorhees but I'm planning on sticking with these two classic monsters for now.

Jul 13, 2014

Three is a Magic Number

Three years ago today, this blog busted on to the interwebs with its first post and things have pretty much been the same ever since. If you're reading this, thank you for stopping by! 
And if you're not reading this...please explain in detail and show your work!

Here's some "All Time" stats for the blog.

Top Searches

So, what's the take away from these stats? 
I need to blog more about Andy Gibb!

Internet, you are so weird, don't ever change.

Jul 10, 2014

Archie Comics' Sabrina is Getting a Makeover

Ok, so I'm a month behind the rest of the internet with this, but maybe you're like me and don't know everything about everything.

Hot on the rotting heels of Archie Comics' critically acclaimed alternate Riverdale zom-pocalypse Afterlife with Archie series, and just in time for October, Sabrina is getting a creepy makeover. She had a brief appearance in Afterlife hinting at darker arts but her new series will be in its own alternate reality set in the retro 60s.

Series writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who also pens Afterlife promises this book will be darker than Afterlife with the scary stuff being more psychological and spiritual in nature, which is pretty exciting. He also told USA Today that Sabrina is destined to be the Archie-vere equivalent of Marvel's Dr. Strange, who is one of my favorite comic characters.

Taking Riverdale into zombie land might not have been such a stretch given how zombies have squirmed their way into pop culture in recent years. I think taking Sabrina into a darker world is a bit riskier but hopefully just as rewarding. As someone that's always been drawn to magic using characters and horror, this seems like a match made...well, somewhere.

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina debuts in October.