Comic Books

September 11, 2017

Geekdom Comes (Back) to the Music City: Wizard World Comic Con Nashville

After a year away from the Music City, Wizard World Comic Con arrived back in Nashville, and better than ever for 2017.

Their return didn’t disappoint as cult heroes like Brian O’ Halloran and Jason Mewes from “Clerks” fame were in attendance, as well as living legends the likes of Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek) and Sam Jones (Flash Gordon), and lest we forget the living legend of all living legends; the creator of some of the most iconic comic book characters; Spider-Man, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, the list goes on: Mr. Stan Lee.

Lee entertained the Sunday crowd in Music City Center’s Davidson Hall, taking questions from the audience, including his favorite Marvel cameo, here’s a hint, it’s when he gets kicked out of a bar after a little too much to drink. Lee was also gifted a comic book by one fan. The young man, Chris, stepped to the mic, called Lee his hero, and offered up a book that he wrote himself to Lee who took the book and offered his gratitude. Lee’s only concern was that it would one day outsell Marvel to the audience’s delight.

Stan the Man himself

His sly sense of humor bordered on self-depreciating to dry as a desert well. The crowd hung on every word and genuinely enjoyed his words of wisdom including this little nugget:

“Keep writing….the more you write, the better you get. And write stuff that you like. Don’t write something that you figure, ‘eh, that’s not bad, but they won’t like it.’ You never know who they are, and what their taste is. But you know you’re own taste. So always write something that you think is great, and the chances are that there are other people with the same kind of taste. So always write for yourself as your audience and write stuff where you say ‘Boy, that’s good.'”

Be a Raconteur

Another highlight was the teaching and overall personality of Victor Dandridge, who played hype-man before the start of Stan Lee’s arrival in Davidson Hall, but also hosted the “U Cre-8 Comics” panel. Dandridge, a Ohio native, took the audience through the steps of creating their own superhero or super villain with the help of a handy book, essentially a guide to let your creativity run wild. You can find Dandridge’s guide HERE, and start creating your own world-saving hero, or city-conquering villain.

Still the best Batmobile





The showroom was a testament to commerce, autographs, photo-ops, cosplayers, and several dozen exhibitors. Guests were also treated to replicas of the 1989 Batmobile, amongst other iconic vehicles, and sculptures of The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man as you entered the main showroom. 

Hulk Smash



The main stage offered great music from the likes of local Nashvillians “Hey, Listen!,” who performed jazzy renditions of iconic video game music, introduced by none other than Kato Kaelin, who played MC all weekend, greeting guests and of course ribbing when ribbing was needed.

Signed by Jeremy Scott himself

If music wasn’t your bag, you could also play some trivia along with CinemaSins, the Nashville-bred YouTube mega hit. Being a film buff, I had to give it a shot, and I ended up a big winner! While the guys from CinemaSins certainly have their detractors, you can look at one recent spat with the director of “Kong: Skull Island,” they are genuine film lovers, and in getting to meet Barrett Share, one of the hosts of The Sincast, he offered some great advice about podcasting, releasing content, and how to grow an audience. It just goes to show you that in a world filled with so many podcasts, film reviews resources, and video content, there is a still a sense of community with those who have common interests and goals. 

With 2017’s Wizard World Comic Con in the books, you have to wonder where the event goes next year. Nashville continues to grow, and the need for bigger events grows with it. While the guest list was a who’s who of pop culture and sports entertainment, fans will continue to expect much more year after year. It’s clear that Nashville has the audience and the fandom needed to continue to grow the event, so it will be exciting what will be in line for 2018.

To find out where the next Wizard World Con will be heading, click HERE.

July 14, 2014

Comic-Con Sneak Peek: Constantine

DRAWN

 Constantine – Drawn

What? Another comic book property that is being visualized on the small screen? As if all of the big-screen adaptations aren’t enough. I know this review already sounds pessimistic, and why shouldn’t it be, I mean, this is DC/Warner Brothers that we’re talking about here. If you haven’t gotten it by now, this is my take on the forthcoming TV adaptation of DC/Vertigo’s cult comic book series “Constantine”. And while I’m not the biggest fan, and maybe the 2005 film version kind-of-sort-of ruined it for me, I’m strangely drawn to the show, and this is only the pilot.

A little history lesson first; “Constantine” was created back in the 1980s by comic book legend/cranky old weird man, Alan Moore, who I’m sure has already condemned this show. John Constantine is a chain-smoking, hard living, cynical exorcist who has been condemned to Hell. He’s kind of like Beetlejuice in some ways.

In the pilot episode we find John residing in an mental institution after a botched exorcism that leaves a young girl names Astra dead and banished to Hell. He soon meets a girl named Liv Aberdine who is connected with John’s past and is hunted by a growing threat from Hell. If you can’t tell by now, there is a lot of Hell-related activity in this show.

Putting this out there; I’m not an avid reader of “Hellblazer” and don’t know all that much about the exploits of John Constantine in the comics. I really only have the film that featured Keanu Reeves in the starring role to fall back on, so excuse me if my knowledge might be lacking, but if I was to simply judge the show on it’s own merits, and as a completely impartial viewer who has little stake as a fanboy, I would say that “Constantine” has a bright future. Much in the vein of “Grimm,” another NBC mainstay that garnishes decent ratings in a horrible time slot on Friday night, I believe that NBC has a winner on their hands.

Albeit a rabid fanbase, “Constantine” is still a rather fringy property, much like many of Vertigo’s comic book titles. Yes, we have the possible “Sandman” adaptation with Joseph Gordon Levitt’s involvement and Seth Rogen and AMC’s interest in “Preacher” but it’s surprising to see NBC taking such a gamble on “Constantine.” As I said, “Grimm” and “Constantine” are two rather comparable shows, and could this be the writing on the wall that NBC is growing tired of “Grimm” or is NBC seeing the interest in adapted work, ie, “Hannibal” which is much-watch TV in my book.

As far as casting goes, Matt Ryan is who I would have always wanted to play John Constantine. One, he’s English, which I’m sure pleases fans. Two, he’s sardonic and speaks with a British accent, no Keanu-surfer dude “Whoa” here. And three, he’s oozing charm, something Reeves never had in the film. Ryan will be the one to make or break this show, and if this is any inclination that he can after one episode, I’d say the show is in good hands.

As with any review, there have to be a few cons. One, David Goyer is helping in show-running duties. It’s not that I don’t like Goyer, he’s okay sometimes, but I think his ego and big ideas get in the way. Two, and this isn’t a big deal to me, but it’s blasphemy to others; there is no smoking in this show, in the classic sense. And by classic sense I mean putting a cigarette to your lips and smoking it. News flash people, you can’t smoke on prime time Network TV. You can show mass murder, implied child molestation, implied rape, cannibalism, and all sorts of other wholesome family activities, but you can’t smoke. Yes, you might argue “Why put “Constantine” on NBC than?!” Well, this is what you got, and if you are going to be blinded about the fact that Constantine doesn’t smoke and make that the barometer of your argument of why you won’t watch the show, that’s pretty dumb.

Outside of smoking, the show looks like it is going to hit on all the major points that the film was neglectful about. The casting seems spot on, the world feels lived in, the special effects already look better than the movie, and I was drawn in after only 45 minutes, whereas the film I was bored to tears. Smoking is small potatoes, and if you pay close enough attention to the pilot you’ll see a nice little nod that should make you feel a little better that the creators did all they could to incorporate your precious cigarettes.

All in all, “Constantine” looks better than I expected, and it might wash the taste out of mouth of the lackluster film version starring Johnny Utah (and don’t get me wrong, I love “Point Break”). It looks like NBC is all in, and the fact that it has to compete against Fox who is premiering another DC property later this Fall in “Gotham” I’d say they will let the show grow and become one of the surprises on Fall schedule.

Fun Fact: John Constantine first appeared in 1985’s “The Saga of the Swamp Thing.”

April 24, 2014

Simply Animated: Son of Batman

LACKING

Son of Batman – Lacking

When it comes to Batman animated films, there have been three ages, if you will. The first one started with “Mask of the Phantasm” in 1993, the second age includes classics like “Batman: Under the Red Hood” and “Justice League: Doom.” That brings me to the third age, and so far it hasn’t been pretty. Sure, we got “Flashpoint Paradox” but recently comic book fans had to sit through “Justice League: War” and the less than stellar “Batman: Year One” and the uneven “The Dark Knight Returns.” To say the least it’s been a bit rocky lately for The Dark Knight. Hopefully things have bottomed out with 2014’s “Son of Batman,” an animated feature lacking anything close to what made earlier films featuring Batman so memorable.

“Son” is the story of Damian Wayne, the child of Talia al Ghul and Batman, who seeks vengeance for the murder of his grandfather, Ra’s al Ghul by Deathstroke and a squad of renegade League of Assassin members. On the run, Talia decides it is time for Damian to meet his real father; Bruce Wayne, aka, The Batman. The film also has cameos by Commissioner Gordon, Killer Croc, and Nightwing. “Son” is based on the “Batman and Son” comic run written by Grant Morrison.

My main issue, and there are many, is Damian Wayne. I simply don’t like the character. I didn’t like the character in the comics (spoilers, he dies), and this animated representation doesn’t help the cause for me. He’s a spoiled brat, and while that is exactly who he was in the books, just seeing it on screen and hearing an annoying preteen tell Batman, or should I say, order Batman, what to do, is extremely irritating.

Speaking of Batman, hopefully this will be Jason O’Mara’s last film as the voice of The Batman. It makes me yearn for the likes of Ben McKenzie and William Baldwin’s vocal interpretations. O’Mara, who I’m sure is a fine human being, just doesn’t have the chops to voice the Bat. It all sounds like a bad rendition of Christian Bale’s “gruff” Batman voice in the Christopher Nolan films. There will always only be one Batman voice, and that is Kevin Conroy, who is thankfully coming back for the upcoming “Batman: Assault on Arkham.”

I will say that the storyline is at least coherent enough to be followed. Unlike “Justice League: War” the story is streamlined and not too chaotic. And if you happen to be a Damian Wayne fan I’m sure you’ll enjoy his hijinks as he tries to walk the line between justice and revenge. I also enjoyed the Anime-inspired animation and the amount of violence that “Son” included. Normally. most DC Animated fare is reasonable tame, but it seems since Christopher Nolan’s Bat-films, the cartoons have followed suit in terms of tone.

Overall, “Son” is simply a ho-hum animated feature with a few decent set-pieces, but substandard voice acting. Of course this could all be coming from my overall dislike of the Damian Wayne character, but I just feel like DC Animation is going in a direction that I don’t find too interesting. If you want to do a kick ass Batman flick, choose to adapt “The Court of Owls” storyline or hey, dig in the vault and finally decide to adapt “The Killing Joke.” Be edgy for goodness sake, shake things up and create something truly epic. One can dream, can’t they?

Fun Fact: The first reference to Damian Wayne was in 1987’s “Batman” Son of the Demon.”

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