Tag Archives: global pandemic

Happy Memorial Day 2020 (For What It’s Worth)

Today is Memorial Day. It’s an important holiday, but in a crazy year like this, it takes on a whole new meaning. If anything, those crazy circumstances make Memorial Day even more important. Whether you’re a former veteran, actively serving, or among the countless front line health care workers who are dealing with this terrible global pandemic, you understand why this day matters.

Soldiers put their lives on the line for their country. They sacrifice to keep us all safe. It’s a sacrifice worth acknowledging and celebrating. I have veterans in my family. I also have family who are no longer with us who served. They’ve tried to describe what it means to serve their country. I don’t think words will ever suffice.

On this day, we should all make an effort. Even if you don’t have any former or active soldiers in your family, this is the day to take a moment and thank them. If you can’t, then consider donating to some of the many charities that do the critical work of supporting our veterans during and after their service.

Once again, to all those who are serving now and have served before, I thank you. On a day like this during a year like this, your sacrifices have never been more meaningful.

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New (But Still Limited) Comic Book Day: May 20, 2020

Another Wednesday is upon us. Sadly, the world is still an omega level clusterfuck. While some parts of it are re-emerging, the road to something more tolerable is nothing short of glacial. This extends to the world of comics, but there’s still some progress to note. Some is still better than none. At this point, the bar is just that low.

That should pick up, assuming things don’t go to Hell again, in the coming weeks. Both Marvel and DC Comics have finalized release plans for new books, some of which were originally set for release two months ago. That’s a long time to wait in the comic world. Even comic fans like myself have endured agonizing delays before, this is uncharted territory for the industry.

Will comics as we know it return?

Will the industry be able to change and adapt to a new marketplace?

Will stories, plots, and plans have changed as a result?

Will Wednesdays be worth waking up at 4:30 a.m. anymore?

These are all unanswered questions. A lot of it depends on the world becoming less awful in the coming months, which is hardly a guarantee. I’m not going to assume anything at this point. I’m just going to craft a pull list from the limited releases this week and make a pick.

Believe me, I want things to get better too. It’s just going to happen painfully slow. At the very least, New Comic Book Day is taking its first steps.


My Pull List

2020 Ironheart #1

DCeased: Unkillables #3

Hawkeye: Freefall #5

Red Hood and the Outlaws #45

Red Sonja #15

Star #4

Wonder Woman #755


My Pick Of The Week
Wonder Woman #755

Sometimes, it’s just not enough to have your heart in the right place. You could have the best of intentions and do everything you do out of love, but still end up the center of someone’s unflinching hatred. That’s a position Wonder Woman finds herself in more than most and “Wonder Woman #755” perfectly highlights the price that comes with that approach.

There are a great many superheroes in comics whose sincerity you can question, but Wonder Woman isn’t one of them. She’s a warrior, a demigoddess, a feminine ideal, and a beacon of wisdom and truth. You can usually assume that she does what she does out of sincere love and be right every time. For some characters, though, that’s just not enough.

That’s what makes Wonder Woman’s part in Paula Von Gunther’s story so tragic, but revealing. Paula, also known as Warmaster, is someone Wonder Woman attempted to save from a hateful environment full of hateful influences. She did what she did out of love and compassion, as she often does with everything. However, in trying to protect her from hate, Paula comes to hate her.

It’s a tragic setup that reveals what happens when Wonder Woman’s innate sense of compassion fails her. At the same time, Paula rightly points out that her compassion was still built on a lie. On top of that, she had no say in living that lie. Wonder Woman made that decision on her own and with no input whatsoever from Paula. Intentions or not, she had zero agency in this decision.

It poses some difficult questions that Wonder Woman cannot readily answer. Writer Steve Orlando puts her in a very strenuous position where she has to fight someone she cares about, but that battle is never more than secondary. Even as it plays out, courtesy of quality art by Jesus Merino, Paula uses her words to hurt Diana the most.

She’s still not the only target. While the battle is personal for Paula Von Gunther, there’s still a larger war for her to wage as Warmaster. It’s not just about Wonder Woman. She’s poised to wage war on the Amazonian homeland and she’s willing to sacrifice an American city to do it. She is a villain by her own admission, but she never comes off as a villain without depth.

What makes “Wonder Woman #755” great goes beyond the battles, the art, or the heroic struggle it explores. It dares to ask how much we’re willing to entrust our fate, our lives, and our agency in the hands of superheroes. Even if those heroes are as honorable and compassionate as Wonder Woman, is it still the right thing to do? Should heroes ever have that much say in how our lives play out?

These are profound questions. As Warmaster, Paula Von Gunther reveals how bad this can go. It’s a powerful message. It brings out both the best and worst of Wonder Woman, as well as the ideals she embodies.

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Recounting The Dumbest Health Scare I Ever Had

Everybody makes a fool of themselves at some point in their lives. It’s inevitable. Like traffic, taxes, and boredom at a doctor’s office, it’s an ever-present prospect. You’re going to do something stupid at some point. No matter how much time passes, you’re going to look back and cringe. You’ll feel so stupid at that moment that you’ll wonder how you ever managed put your pants on that day.

Some people have more moments than others. The capable people learn and grow from them. The idiots and narcissists never learn, but make endless excuses. I don’t deny I’ve had a number of those moments in my life. Some are more foolish than others. A few are things I’m not comfortable sharing. I will, however, share one that still makes me cringe and laugh with distressing regularity.

It involves a health scare that I had a while back. Don’t worry. It’s quite possibly the dumbest health scare you’ll ever hear about that doesn’t involve a hang nail or something a kid learned in sex ed. If anyone has anything stupider, I’d love to hear it.

Before I get into detail, I need to note the context of this scare. I’m not making excuses. I’m just highlighting that it didn’t come out of nowhere. This happened shortly after a close relative began undergoing cancer treatments. On top of that, heart disease ran in my family. I had a valid reason for being overly cautious about my health.

That didn’t make what happened any less stupid.

It happened one day when I was trimming my beard. I noticed a strange bump on my lower-right chin. It didn’t feel like anything I’d felt before. I tried to look closer. I couldn’t tell what it was through my facial hair. It didn’t feel like a bruise or an ingrown hair. It just felt like a regular bump.

At first, I shrug it off. Then, I start picking at it, as people tend to do with things they don’t understand. Naturally, it starts growing. At some point, it gets a little sore. I can feel it when I chew. That’s when my mind starts racing.

What if it’s a tumor?

What if it’s some malignant cyst?

What if it’s some crazy condition I don’t even know about?

I’m not going to lie. I did start anxiously browsing WebMD for information, which you should definitely not do. Browsing WebMD in hopes of determining how sick you are is like watching old cop movies to learn how to defuse a bomb. You’re only going to make it worse.

It’s because of that I seriously considered going to my doctor. I even promised myself that, if it still hurt after a week, I would make an appointment. Thankfully, it never came to that because I soon found out what it was in the dumbest way possible.

It was a goddamn pimple.

That’s it. That’s all it was. It was just a pimple that had somehow formed in my beard and got irritated, probably because I kept picking at it. I only confirmed it was a pimple when it randomly popped. Again, I was picking at it. Having had serious acne problems since I was a teenager, I knew what pimples looked like when they popped. This just happened to be a particularly large one that my beard hid.

I wish I could say it was a relief, but I just felt so stupid at the moment that I would’ve preferred something worse. I vividly remember looking at myself in my bathroom mirror with this deadpanned expression, as though I’d just tried to cut a steak with a soup spoon. I would’ve laughed if it weren’t so pathetic.

There’s a time and a place to worry about your health. A global pandemic is bound to put everyone on edge and for wholly valid reasons. However, you don’t do yourself any favors by being stupid. If anything, you’ll only find creative ways to make it worse.

I’ve had plenty of other moments in my life when I’ve felt dumb. Given current events, I thought I’d share one about my health at a time when we’re all a little extra health conscious. No matter the situation, we’re all vulnerable to doing stupid things. We just need to be a lot more careful during a pandemic.

If anyone else has a story about moments when they felt dumb, please share them in the comments. As long as we’re all stuck at home, we might as well use it as an opportunity for extra introspection.

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The (Uncertain) Future Of Movie Theaters

Many of us have fond memories of going to the movies. Whether it’s the first time you saw “Jurassic Park” and “Avengers” or the first time you got frisky with your significant other on a date, the movie-going experience has always had a certain charm to it. They’re such an indelible part of modern popular culture that it’s hard to envision modern life without them.

Then, a global pandemic hit and suddenly, we have to envision a lot of things we’ve never contemplated before. That includes the place movie theaters have in our culture and society.

Now, I’m not among the doomsayers claiming that movie theaters are doomed, although I can’t fault anyone for thinking that. The news surrounding the movie industry has been grim on an unprecedented level. As someone who often organizes his summer around which movies to see and when, it’s undeniably dire on so many levels.

However, I feel like there’s room for something better to come out of this for theaters. There’s just too much uncertainty to surmise what it is at the moment. I don’t feel that qualified to speculate. Many people much smarter than me already have. I’m bringing this up now because last weekend gave me a taste of what that future might entail.

For me, that future involves a lot less nights when I go to the movies and more nights of me renting a movie at home. That’s what I attempted last weekend. Specifically, I rented the movie “Bloodshot” on Saturday night. While the movie wasn’t exactly a huge blockbuster when it came out, I was still curious about it. Being a fan of comic book movies in general, I wanted to give it a chance.

I’m glad I did. I enjoyed the movie and not just because it was better than the reviews claimed. I enjoyed it because I got to craft my own movie-going experience. I ordered some pizza, bought a six-pack of beer, and had some skittles on the side. I basically created my own mini-movie theater in my living room and I had a genuinely pleasant time.

It also helped that it was much cheaper than going to a theater. To rent Bloodshot,” I only paid $6. That’s half the price of a regular movie ticket on a weekend. The price of pizza and snacks was considerably less, as well. I probably saved money by just renting the movie and, given the state of the pandemic-hit economy, I imagine there are many more people out there looking to save where they can.

It has me re-thinking how I’ll see movies, even after theaters open up again. My experience with Bloodshot” has me re-considering which movies I’ll see in theaters and which I’ll rent. I’ll still see big blockbuster movies like “Black Widow” and “New Mutants” in the theaters, but I’m going to be less inclined to see other movies in that setting. I just can’t justify the cost at this point.

That situation could change. I suspect that movie theaters will have to adapt their place in the movie/media complex. I don’t think it can survive solely on the success of big budget blockbusters. I also don’t think that’s good for the industry because it makes movies that bomb much more damaging to studios and theaters, alike. That means less risks, less innovation, and more generic movies made solely to turn a profit.

As much as I love those kinds of movies, there has to be room for innovative movies like “The Blair Witch Project” or “Clerks.” There also has to be a place for the bigger budget movies that Netflix has released. If you need proof of how good those movies can be, check out “Extraction.” It’s a movie that could’ve been another generic action movie in theaters, but works even better as a streaming exclusive.

In the same way Netflix is getting into the big budget movie business, some theaters are expanding beyond movies. Last year, the theater I live nearby played the Super Bowl and several major pay-per-view fights. Only a handful of other theaters did the same. I have a feeling more and more theaters will opt for something like that, if only to get more foot traffic.

The challenge is balancing all these dynamics in a world where people are less inclined to go to theaters and pay bloated ticket prices. I believe there is a way to do that. It’s just not clear what that is. I think there will still be movie theaters in a post-pandemic economy. They just won’t look or operate like they did in 2019.

It’s exciting, but distressing.

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New (But Limited) Comic Book Day: May 13, 2020

Comic book fans are in the same boat as everyone with respect to navigating this awful pandemic. We’re just waiting out the worst of the storm. Eventually, it’ll pass. Then, slowly and steadily, life will get back to a new form of normal. Let’s face it. There’s no going back to the way things were before. The best we can do is forge a new normal out of this crisis.

The world of comics is already making an effort. As I noted last week, major comic companies are preparing a gradual relaunch of the industry. That means comic shops will finally get new books in stock. Digital comic outlets like Comixology will get to release mainline titles aside from the usual digital-only series. It’s still nowhere near the size of the traditional stock for New Comic Book Day, but it counts as progress.

As it stands, Marvel is still a couple weeks away from releasing a slate of new books. DC, however, is getting back in the swing of things earlier. This week marks the first week in which they’re releasing some mainline titles to market. Again, it’s not much, but it’s much better than nothing. Rather than showing my pull list, I’ll just offer a list of the releases for today, as well as links to previews.

Harley Quinn #72

Justice League #44

Justice League Odyssey #20

Lois Lane #10

Metal Men #6

After weeks on end with no new comics to speak of, this is the first true taste of a new normal for comics. Unlike major sports or movies, comics have an opportunity to get going and thrive once more. There’s still going to be some major upheavals and restructuring, but that process can finally begin. At a time when good news is hard to come by, I’ll take it.

In what I hope isn’t too minor a celebration, here’s a pick of the week that I hope boosts everyone’s spirits. We all need it.


My Pick Of The Week
Justice League #44

Some comics try to be deep, introspective, and profound. Writers and artists attempt to craft a complex story that they hope will leave a profound impact on reader on the best possible way. I fully support these kinds of comics. It’s part of why “Watchmen” is such a groundbreaking achievement for the genre.

At the same time, however, I support books that take the opposite approach. In lieu of being deep, it sticks to the basics of what makes comics fun, but still leaves room for novelty. That’s exactly where books like “Justice League #44” come in. It doesn’t try to reinvent any genre. It just tries to have fun with DC’s most iconic characters.

After weeks on end with no new comics for mainline books, “Justice League #44” is just what we need to remind us why New Comic Book Day is the best day of the week. Writer Robert Venditti and artist Xermanico stick to a basic formula. Take the Justice League, have them answer a distress call, and then unleash giant mythical monsters for them to fight. It’s every bit as entertaining as it sounds.

That’s not to say its shallow or crude. There is a deeper plot at work here. It’s hinted at through some mysterious monologues throughout the issue. We don’t find out who it is until the end, but they provide that extra bit of novelty that makes “Justice League #44” more than just a generic heroes vs. monster brawl.

Those versed in Greek mythology will recognize some of those monsters. Others versed in Wonder Woman’s lore will also sensed something amiss before the fighting stops. What starts off as a distress call from Aquaman in Antarctica turns into a much larger threat that even the Justice League is ill-equipped to handle. The how and the why are teased, but the extent and breadth of that threat are abundantly clear.

In a sense, Justice League comics are the comic book equivalent of comfort food. They’re what you go to when you want something as warm and familiar as an old pair of sweat pants. Between global pandemics and massive upheavals in the comic book industry, we all need a little bit of that comfort food. Even with a limited selection, that’s exactly what “Justice League #44” provides and it’s delicious.

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Another (Almost) Empty New Comic Day, But With A Timeline To Return

Since this pandemic began, everyone keeps asking when we’ll return to “normal.” I use quotes because I’ve since accepted that “normal” is a flawed concept at this point. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to the way things were before terms like social distancing became a thing. I question whether we’ll go back to shaking hands.

Flawed or not, we will return to some semblance of “normal” eventually. Movie theaters will re-open. Sports will return, even if it means playing games without fans. For comic book fans, the biggest return will be the release of new comics. Last week, I reported that there were some tentative signs of a break. This week, those signs are no longer tentative.

While none of the major publishers are set to return to full production, they have announced their plan to get New Comic Book Day rolling again. Some series are still on hold. Others are ready to return. Both Marvel and DC have announced new release schedules. Assuming aliens don’t invade or another pandemic doesn’t take hold, we now have dates to look forward to.

Marvel: Marvel Comics to Resume Wednesday Releases for New Comics and Collections Starting May 27

Cosmic Book News: DC Comics May 2020 Release Schedule

For this week, however, the pickings are still limited. There’s not enough to compile a standard pull list, but there are enough new releases to make a pick. Again, the books that came out today are largely digital releases, but there’s still quality awesome to be found. Hopefully, the industry will get going again and Wednesdays will be awesome once more.

It’s not quite the “normal” I fondly remember, but it’s getting close to it. After over a month without comics, I’ll gladly take it.


My Pick Of The Week: Dr. Aphra #1

What do you get when you take a gleefully amoral archaeologist/adventurer and put them in a galaxy far, far away? The short answer is a uniquely lovable woman named Dr. Chelli Lona Aphra. The long answer is an incredibly elaborate, but wonderfully fascinating story.

In the vast landscape of Star Wars lore, Dr. Aphra is a relative newcomer. She debuted in the pages of Darth Vader #3 in 2015. I vividly remember reading that comic. I had a feeling that she’d go on to have a major impact on the galaxy. In the brief time that Marvel has been producing Star Wars comics, she certainly has. I would argue that she’s one of the greatest achievements of this modern Star Wars comics.

If you need convincing, then “Dr. Aphra #1” makes a solid case. What Kieron Gillen created five years ago, writer Alyssa Wong and artist Marika Cresta run with in this issue. It effectively demonstrates who Dr. Aphra is, what she’s about, and how she conducts herself in the middle of a galactic war.

In terms of canon, the events of this issue take place after the Battle of Hoth from “Empire Strikes Back.” However, Dr. Aphra is no Rebel agent or Imperial operative. In fact, since her debut, she’s done plenty to piss both sides off. Darth Vader wants to kill her. The Rebel Alliance wants to kill her. She’s ticked off so many people in the galaxy that a lesser character would’ve been frozen in carbonite by now.

The fact that she isn’t and is still pissing off imperial and rebels alike is a testament to her skill. She’s part Indiana Jones, part Lara Croft, part Boba Fett, and part Black Widow. She doesn’t have a political agenda and she doesn’t take sides in wars. She’s just out to explore the galaxy, find new artifacts, and steal massive amounts of credits along the way.

Dr. Aphra #1” has her do a little of everything. It starts with stealing from the Empire on Hoth. From there, it becomes a setup for a heist that requires a bit of archaeology and a crew that’s as brazen as her. Wong takes every opportunity to highlight Dr. Aphra’s most defining traits along the way.

She might be an amoral thief who hangs out with questionable characters and pursues unhealthy romantic interests, but she has a charm to her that’s unique in the galaxy. She’ll push buttons, break rules, and draw the wrath of Darth Vader himself, all while having fun along the way. “Dr. Aphra #1” dares you to have a little fun with her while exploring a less scrupulous side of a galaxy far, far away.

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Another Vacant New Comic Day, But With The Endgame (Tentatively) In Sight

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There are some things we just shouldn’t get used to. Things like racism, bigotry, and injustice are definitely at the top of that list. For lifelong comic fans like me, a Wednesday without new comics is right up there as well. Thanks to this goddamn pandemic, that’s what I’ve had to endure alongside those fans.

I remember the days of waiting anxiously for the mail to arrive, hoping that my weekly comics weren’t late, which they usually were. I had to get used to that, to some extent. Then, digital comics like Comixology came along and I never looked back. These past few weeks of having no comics while being stuck at home have been torturous, but I don’t want to get used to it.

Sadly, this week brings us yet another week in which no new comics are being released, aside from a few independent titles and some digital-only books. However, there is some tangible hope in sight. According to Newsarama, the current plan is for comics to resume shipping on May 20th.

Right now, that seems like a lifetime from now. At this point, I’m so stir crazy that my entire concept of time has been hopelessly disoriented. However, one way I’ll know that the world is starting to recover is when I wake up Wednesdays to see new comics in my Comixology account. If May 20th is that day, then that’s a day I intend to celebrate.

In the meantime, I have no pull lists to share. However, I was able to find a nice little gem from the digital only selections from DC Comics. It’s not the same as the regular ongoings that I’ve been following, but it’s better than nothing. At this point, that’s the most anyone can hope for.


My Pick/Gem Of The Week

Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #2

I have mixed feelings when it comes to digital-only comics. In a perfect world, they would have the same weight as their paperback counterparts. Sadly, we don’t live in that world. Digital comics are still treated as more a novelty than a legitimate medium for expanding the comics world. The impact of a global pandemic may change that and books like “Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #2” will certainly help in that effort.

It doesn’t somehow further the vast, complex tapestry that is the DC’s mainline continuity.

It doesn’t reinvent or redefine an iconic character.

It’s just a solid, well-rounded story about Wonder Woman and Lois Lane. Writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmoitti keep things simple with this story, but still find a way to give it that dramatic impact that Wonder Woman comics have given us for decades. For Lois Lane fans, it’s a nice bonus in that she gets to shine in a role outside of being Superman’s love interest.

Lois does her part as a brave, intrepid reporter in this story. She willingly gets on a rickety old plane and flies into the Himalaya Mountains in search of some lost mountain climbers. Since she’s Lois Lane, this ends with her confronting an ancient bloodthirsty monster intent on turning humans into kabobs. This is where Wonder Woman plays her role.

There’s plenty of combat and volatility to go around. Daniel Sampere’s art makes it the wondrous spectacle that it deserves to be. Wonder Woman gets to fight a monster. Lois gets to save some intrepid mountain climbers and secure a story that’s sure to strike all the right chords, even in the era of fake news and internet trolls.

It’s as pure a story as anyone could hope for with these two iconic characters. Wonder Woman gets to be a warrior of compassion. Lois Lane gets to be the champion of truth, justice, and the American way, albeit without the cape and red underwear. Even if it isn’t some game-changing story in the larger continuity, “Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #2” is a solid story that’s well worth the price.

Did I also mention that digital comics tend to be substantially cheaper than paperbacks? If not, I probably should. At a time when we’re all stuck home and in need of discount entertainment, this is as good a time as any for digital comics to show their worth. Hopefully, “Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #2” can demonstrate just how valuable they can be.

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