Jun 28, 2017

The Incredible Origin of Space Snake

Back in 2014, The League of Extraordinary Bloggers had a topic called 'Look What I Can Do" which encouraged participants to share something they created. I shared my original comic creation, Space Snake.

As I mentioned there, when my step-dad was in the Marines, he had a hard cover sketch book that he took with him in his travels around the world. Everywhere he went, people added stuff to the book. Sometime in the early 80s, I got my hands on it gave Space Snake's origin the full blown comic book (in color!) treatment.

The book had been presumed lost for the last 20 years or so when it recently and mysteriously turned up in his home mailbox. So now I am able to present to you, the Origin of Space Snake!

Click to embiggen!
It should be noted in the history books that my radioactive waste mutated reptile preceded TMNT by a year or two. Just sayin...

I don't know why a 12-ish year old would choose the name Harold for a galaxy-trotting mutated snake but there it is. I was doing a sort of cross-over thing because one of SS's rescuers is another one of my creations, Captain Blaze (his first name is Douglas!). You can read about his origins and evolution here.

I mention at the end that SS became one of the Galactic Federation's top agents. While Blaze was originally conceived as an intergalactic spy, I don't think there a whole lot of undercover work for a mutant snake even one with a V-inspired laser gun and cool jetpack.

There is a continuity conflict between the comic and SS's handbook entry. In the comic, he's alone on the rocket and in the written backstory, his wife was with him but didn't survive. You have to have some kind of loss to be a great hero, don't you?

This is the back of the comic page showing off both heroes. That's supposed to be a shield in Blaze's right hand and a laser sword like Thundarr the Barbarian's Sun Sword. The things hanging from his belt are an array of different weapons, mainly beams of some sort, like freeze, heat, and so on. More Saturday morning influence, this time from Space Ghost.

So there you have it, faithful readers.
You now have the complete stories of Captain Blaze and Space Snake!

Jun 21, 2017

Blood Drive - First Impressions

Premiering last Wednesday, Blood Drive is the newest original SyFy series. While the channel may be best known for it's so bad they're good original movies, a lot of their series have been good enough to watch unironically.

I'm a big fan of Roger Corman's Death Race 2000 so I've been eagerly watching the countdown to Blood Drive peeling off the starting line. When I saw the first trailer, it felt like it might be a spiritual successor to Death Race. The Jason Statham reboot series was fun for what it was but it felt more like a video game movie. The direct to Netflix sequel, Death Race 2050 might become a classic in another 20 or 30 years in its own way.

I don't want to give too much away but here's a little rundown.

In a dystopian 1999, thanks to global warming oil is $2000 a barrel, food is scarce, and water is strictly regulated. The police are now contractors sold off to a corporation. For some, the promise of Blood Drive's $10 million prize money is the only shot for decent life.

 After busting up some dregs hacking a water ATM, Officer Bailey (possibly the only decent cop left) finds out about Blood Drive, a ruthless race where the cars run on human blood. He makes it his mission to put an end to the race but gets caught by the race organizers. He gets partnered with vicious vixen Grace and forced into the race thanks to linked sub-dermal implants that can be triggered remotely to explode. And if you come in last place at a checkpoint? BOOM!

On the first leg of the race, there's an abundance of swearing, partial nudity, an assortment of deviant and depraved oddballs, and plenty of blood! Not the CGI junk, good ol fashioned, splattering the actors, practical stuff.

The show promises to deliver a new favorite grindhouse staple every week like cannibals, cults, Amazons, and more. If the first episode is anything to go by, the series will be something you'd expect from a name like Midnight Grindhouse. In fact, I still can't believe SyFy is airing this and not Netflix. Watching this made me feel like a teenager watching something on cable they're not supposed to and worrying the parents might walk in at any minute. I just would not expect this on SyFy!

For some people, Blood Drive might be a guilty pleasure but I am fully in touch with my B-movie side and totally embrace it! I found it a hell of a lot of fun and can't wait to see what weirdness is down the road in the coming weeks.

One of the highest praises I give a TV show or movie is that after watching it, I want to jump into some type of game based on it. Blood Drive is right there! I want an RPG sourcebook with more info on the world and racers. I want a video game where you take part in the race. For now, I'll have to tune in to SyFy Wednesday nights.

If you hurry, you can catch up to the pack before the second episode tonight. Wouldn't want you to come in last and have your head explode! You can watch online at SyFy, YouTube (you can find the first three eps if you poke around), and Amazon Prime.

Jun 15, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol2 Trading Cards - Retail

As I mentioned in Tuesday's post about the GotG Hobby cards, companies will also make a series of "retail" trading cards. Normally, they release the same base set of cards to mass market outlets with lower chances of pulling hits but at a lower price which makes it more affordable to get the base set of cards. But not here. The cards you get at retail are completely different than the hobby cards.

Why would you make trading cards for one of the biggest summer movies and limit them to WalMart? The stores in my area are the absolute worst if you're looking for cards that are not sports or gaming related. And to put more salt in the wound, there were also promo cards released which are different still from the hobby or retail versions. Basically, there are three different sets of cards!

I don't have any of the promo cards because to get them, you had to buy a pack of underwear or t-shirts. $10-$15 for a 4 cards is not exactly cost efficient. Although individual non-insert promos are going for $3-5 each now.

The 50(!) card promo set has different inserts like blue or gold foils, die-cut cards, chrome-cut (think shiny silver), and super lucky people get a Dave Bautista or Stan Lee autograph! The promo cards have a WP before the number for Walmart Promo. These use a different layout than the hobby/retail cards, opting for a borderless look.

Promo cards (Image from Cardboard Connection)
Then we come to the regular, non-hobby, non-promo retail set. I haven't been able to find a checklist for these so I have no idea how many are in this set. The retail cards are numbered with the prefix RB for...retail box, I guess?

Retail cards
From the few packs I've managed to find, these seem to be character focused. The re-use of art (top row) almost makes me think these are aimed at a slightly younger audience. There are cards that look like they should be stickers (bottom left and right) and also blue foils that really make the images pop.

From what I've been able to gather online, the retail set also has their own hits.

Image from eBay
Honestly, I think these look better than the hobby wardrobe cards, such a cool way to do it.

The good news is, while researching the cards on eBay, it looks like the prices of a complete hobby set are coming down so I may be able to get them after all. It's just not as much fun buying it all at once as it is opening packs though.

Jun 13, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol2 Trading Cards - Hobby

The movie may have come and gone but that doesn't mean I'm done talking all things Guardians just quite yet!

I picked up some packs of trading cards when the first movie came out but never got around to getting a complete set. This time, I decided to treat myself to a hobby box. If you're not up on your trading card lingo, they will usually release retail cards (what you'd find at places like Target) and hobby cards (which if you don't have a specialty shop nearby, means mail order).

The difference is what you get in packs. Hobby packs have "premium hits" in them. You're generally guaranteed a couple of these if you buy a box. These can be things like sketch cards or autographs.

I found a decent price from an online retailer. As you might imagine, I was very excited the day my box of cards arrived. My first thought on opening it was, wow there's a lot of styrofoam packing in here. You see, in my giddiness to order the cards I didn't read the fine print. Well, it's not really fine, it's right there if you actually read. I'm used to seeing boxes of Star Wars cards which are usually 24 packs per box. This box has only 10 packs...for almost what I'd expect to pay for twice as many packs.

With the main set having 90 cards, there's no chance of even getting close to a complete set from this box of 80 cards. That was disappointing but I did get some cool stuff.

5x7 box topper & pack wrapper
Every box comes with a one of nine oversized 5x7 cards. Random boxes will have an oversized sketch instead. These are pretty cool and relatively cheap on the secondary market so I'm planning on picking up a couple more.

The 90 card base set covers the characters and movie story. Very similar to any movie trading cards you'd get when you were a kid. The cards themselves are great quality. Unfortunately, I won't be finishing the set anytime soon because I'm not buying any more boxes and there's nowhere around selling individual packs. Considering what I paid for this box of 10, I'm afraid to see what a store would charge for single packs.

And then there is what I consider the blight of the hobby...parallels.

Bronze, Blue, and Purple

I know people out there collect parallels but I have no use for them. To me, they're just taking advantage of collector OCD and using up a slot in the pack that could be a standard card to finish the set. They're called parallels because they, stay with me here, parallel the base set cards but are slightly different. In this case, they jazz up a base card with colored foil graphics. In the hobby set, there are five levels of foil parallels: Bronze (1:1.45 packs), Blue (x/199), Purple (x/99), Red (x/49), and Pink (x/10).

They didn't photograph great but the foil looks pretty good in person. I did get a few Bronze, couple Blue, and a Purple. The numbers up above mean they are limited print run. For example, the Purple I have is stamped on the back that it is 72/99, so there are only 98 other purple foils of that card. In that respect, it's kind of cool to have one of 99 in existence.

Then come the inserts. These are mini-sets of cards with a specific theme. They are: 15 card Behind the Lens, 12 card Family of Oddballs focusing on the characters, and 6 cards on the ships. These inserts are about 1:3 packs. I got a total of 8 in my 10 packs so that ain't bad!

Now we're into the really good stuff: the hits!

These were pretty thrilling to pull! They're Galactic Garb cards featuring a piece of  wardrobe used in production! I got the one on the right in the first pack I opened. It's pretty cool to get even a small piece of something that was used in the movie.

Here's a closer look at Drax's card.

There's nothing covering the fabric so you can feel the texture on it.

There's quite a variation in these cards. They can have up to four characters on one card. Some of them have an autograph on the card of the actor as well. I didn't get any of those but am pretty happy with what I did get. There is also another super-rare hit called Groot's Roots. It's a piece of real maple in card shape with an image burned into it!

There are 10 different ones and the odds are 1:65 packs, or one per 6.5 boxes! They have a range of $25-$100 on eBay. I might be tempted to pick one up at some point.

Speaking of eBay and picking stuff up, I did do a bit of online shopping to snag a few more wardrobe cards. I'd like to get one with each cast member.

I'm a little confused on the Rocket one because he's CGI. I know there is a stand in actor and I think I remember from Vol 1 behind the scenes that there is a physical Rocket stand-in as well. Maybe that's what this is from.

Tune in again Thursday when I'll be talking about the retail Guardians cards. It will be a much shorter post, I promise!

Jun 5, 2017

Mail Order Monday - Zorcom (1983)

A very special Mail Order Monday today, 3 for the price of 1!

This trio of ads from 1983-1984 deal with the Zorcom universe. What is Zorcom you ask? I have no idea other than sci-fi mail order stuff in comics for kids to blow their paper route money on and probably be thrown out by their parents.

Blast off in the Zorcom Spaceship!

For just $12.95 (plus $3 S&H) you could get your very own spaceship made of cardboard! That doesn't seem very safe. I mean, it doesn't even have a hatch on it. That kid will never make it out of atmosphere.

Okay, so it's more of a play area. And the interior has all sorts of outer space-y images that you can color. You can see some pics of the actual ship, and the inside, over here. If you look in the bottom right of the order form, you'll see you also get a free poster!

Now that answers the question of who or what Zorcom is! He is The Defender! Honestly, if these are what the posters really looked like, they don't seem very exciting. On the other hand, you'd get one free with the spaceship, or BOTH if you order the Zorcom Adventure Cassette, which is what this ad is actually for.

Zorcom looks like some kind of, I don't know...space knight? You've got to admire anyone that carries a sword and shield in a sci-fi universe where beam weapons exist. His enemy, Tanjar the Dread, looks like a space orc or maybe some type of lizard person? Why do lizard people in sci-fi always have to be the bad guys?

Anyway, on to the Zorcom Space Cruise Sound Trek!

Here's the copy from the bottom of the ad to entice you...

Join ZORCOM on a journey thorugh time and space to the Forgotten Zone. Hear the attack of the dread Hakka beasts... listen to laser control beams as ZORCOM maneuvers inside the Cavers of Invisible Doom... brace for the surge of power that rockets YOUR SPACESHIP... feel the chill of the AUDIO ADVENTURE SERIES... One step beyond the thrills of the comic book/The next frontier in fantasy adventure... watch for Vol 2.

As far as I'm able to find out, there never was a Volume 2.
From this ad, you can order the Audio Cassette, a spaceship, a t-shirt of "The Beast", or the Adventure Package for all 3 items and a free poster of Zorcom's "Fight Against Evil".

Thanks to the awesomeness of the internet, you can journey back to the 80s and experience Zorcom's adventures!

Seriously, check this out. I would bet you've never heard anything like it...
or at least I hope you haven't!

Jun 1, 2017

Monthly Movie Recap - May 2017

This is shaping up to be quite the year for movies! It seems like there's more coming to theaters this year that I actually want to see in a theater.

Let's dive into May!

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017, IMAX 3D)
Loved it! I mean, what else were you expecting from me? I was a little concerned that it seemed to lean more towards the comedic side, especially with a couple of short bits that felt like they went from comic book to cartoon. As odd as these moments felt, I still enjoyed them. I'm going to skip the Cool/Lame section because the first would be a whole post and the second, I already mentioned.

Rating: 8/10

*Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017, 4D)
I'm not a repeat movie goer. The only things I've gone back for in recent history were either Star Wars or the first Guardians flick. I knew if I liked this one I'd want to see it again, so why not 4D? It was kind of fun to "ride the movie" but I don't recommend it for a first time viewing.

A movie about a haunted VHS board game? Sign me up! If you love 80s horror, this is totally for you. It sort of felt like something Full Moon would have put out back in the day. The full on horror doesn't really get going til the final third but it's creepy enough that it's worth it.

Cool: Barbara Crampton!
Lame: Most of the movie is played straight but the gore effects are comically over the top which is a bit uneven.

Rating: 6/10

This was interesting, sort of an urban legend by way of Lovecraft with a pinch of J-horror. I didn't know much about it before going in other than seeing the Owlman pop up in my Facebook feed and absolutely loving the look of him...it? For a low budget flick, it's well done and different enough to stand out among horror movies.

Cool: The Owlman is just awesome
Lame: It's a slow, cerebral horror (Lovecraft) so if you're looking for a monster movie, this is not that.

Rating: 7/10

Avengers Grimm (2015, Netflix and Amazon Prime)
After watching some entertaining movies this month, I decided to punish myself by watching Avengers Grimm from The Asylum. I've had it on my Netflix list since I joined and finally bit the bullet...or poisoned apple. Is it a bad movie? Yes! Is it a bad movie you might enjoy? Probably with some friends and maybe some drinks.

Cool: Lou Ferrigno in make-up again? Ok, so he's silver and not green but still.
Lame: They are bad at setting up the princesses! Red cloak? Red Riding Hood. Long hair? Rapunzel. Snow White? They actually say her name. I didn't even know one of the girls was supposed to be Cinderella until watching the trailer just now.

Rating: 3/10

Sing (2016)
It's no Zootopia but it's not trying to be. It's fun, cute, and has got plenty of tunes to appeal to everyone. I really enjoyed that there were a lot of characters with different story lines.

Cool: The little Asian girl group cracked me up
Lame: Nothing bad to say!

Rating: 6/10

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016, Amazon Prime)
Didn't see Cloverfield? Not a big deal as this seems to have nothing to do with that movie as of right now. After Guardians, this is my next favorite pick of the month. Great suspense and mystery of whether or not John Goodman is a doomsday crackpot or not. I would probably sit through anything that man is in. Considering there are three people in the movie and it takes place in essentially one location, it really kept my attention.

Cool: Fantastic performances by everyone. When the climax kicked off I wasn't sure they'd be able to end the movie satisfactorily but they did it!
Lame: Somewhere out there are people just like John Goodman's character

Rating: 8/10

Month Total
 New: 6  Rewatch:1

Year Total
 New: 24  Rewatch:3