The Lost Men Series : Four GREAT films currently available on Streaming!

The Lost Men Series : Four GREAT films currently available on Streaming!

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These four films, which did not get theatrical releases, are far better than the vast majority of films that do reach the theaters. Disappointing films such as DEAD MAN DOWN and SPRING BREAKERS get screen time, when visually and thematically superior films such as Tim McCann’s brilliant ANOTHER ZERO IN THE SYSTEM and Dan Eberle’s enthralling, nearly wordless PRAYER TO A VENGEFUL GOD go unheralded.

And Michael Morrissey’s impressive BOY WONDER is the myth of masked vengeance done better than most big budget super-hero movies. Rounding out the quartet, director Brian A. Miller’s HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN is one of the best neo-noirs seen since the Coen Brother’s BLOOD SIMPLE or Craig Ross Jr’s frenetic and fantastic CAPPUCCINO. Dave Bautista delivering a surprisingly elegant and understated performance.

One of the common threads these four movies share is understated but brilliant performances, as well as a thematic conceit of men either at odds or abandoned by the judicial system, who must themselves find justice for those around them.

From Mike Simmons memorable turn as the protagonist in ANOTHER ZERO IN THE SYSTEM (A great film unfairly lambasted by the short-sighted crowd, there’s rumors of director Tim McCann and star Mike Simmons in talk to helm the new Luke Cage/Power-Man series from Marvel/Netflix — to which I say… heck yes!) to Director/Writer Dan Eberle, also doing triple duty as star in his PRAYER TO A VENGEFUL GOD. Together these four films create a new and refreshing phase of American cinema, a new wave if you will.

Sample them for yourself while they last on streaming services, and when you find yourself smitten with them… purchase your copies here:

Another Zero in the System

Prayer to a Vengeful God

Boy Wonder

House of the Rising Sun

Happy Holidays, Merry Mass of Christ and Improbable Heights

‘When you strip everything away from Batman, you are left with someone who doesn’t want to see anyone die.’ — KINGDOM COME by Alex Ross and Mark Waid

When I think of humanity in general, and the holiday season in particular it strikes me that that should be our goal. The pursuit of a world, where nobody dies in vain.

But the reality, particularly in America, this time of year is that with the eyes of the media diverted; government sponsored mass-murders actually ramp up, bombings ramp up (now of the drone and unmanned variety, machines murdering men.. what an unholy road we walk), the terrorism of the rich… ramps up.

I’ll not forget the media celebrating the death of Bin Laden. Death and Murder and Torture are never things to celebrate, no matter the justification.

While I am savage enough to know that killing may be a necessary evil, I am human and moral enough to know it is never a joy, never a victory, never a cause for celebration.

Be the murdered Bin Laden, or Hitler or insert bogieman here, bringing murder to murderers is never anything less than a soiling, and a failure, necessary though it may be, it is a failure of reason. And as such is a solemn time, not a glorious one.

Because to do otherwise, to take joy from death, and celebration from degradation and horror… is to devoid you of moral high-ground, is to make you (in ways stark and true) worse than those you would revile, worse than your Hitlers and Bin-Ladens. It makes you a lynchmob, a coward, and an opportunist of carnage.

We must strive to be better than that, otherwise your protestations of Christianity, and Holy Nights, and piety are just lies, are hypocrisy and mendacity most foul, that you use to conceal your roman desire to see people bleed and suffer and die.

You become that lowest form of life, a gibbering coward among cowards, you become nothing more than a grasping claw, a rolling eye, and a screeching mouth… in the creature we call lynchmob. And there is no lower, and ultimately, more inhuman form of life.

Our goal therefore must be to reject that, to reject the easy lies and the easy hates, and work toward this wildly improbable world where no one dies in vain.

But humanity’s very existence is an improbability, so we can bend that already fanciful existence to either improbable heights of good, or improbable depths of evil. We just have to pick a direction.

‘We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. ‘ — John Fitzgerald Kennedy when imploring men into space

Here, on this holiday season, more fiction than fact, ‘goodwill to all’; look into yourself and find what is hypocrisy, what is lies, and find it in yourself to make truths, and truly believe and act on this idea…. of a time of peace.

Here endeth the lesson.

GRAPHIC NOVEL Round-Up : Bendis’ UNCANNY X-MEN

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ALL NEW X-MEN VOL 2 HERE TO STAY – Collecting issues 6 to 10 of the series this is an interesting and fun premise for a miniseries, namely have the X-men of the past interact with the present. However for a series, it is a gimmick, an in-joke, that runs the risk of staying around too long, and outliving its sell by date. For the moment Marquez and Immonen art keeps it interesting, but already the premise is getting to feel belabored.

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UNCANNY X-MEN VOL 1 REVOLUTION – Collecting issues 1 to 5 of the series the pluses are a strong, witty and fun script by Brian Michael Bendis, and some gorgeous art by Chris Bacchalo. The weaknesses are the layouts can be lost under muddy finishing/coloring, and a tendency, unsatisfying tendency, to end the very slight collections on a cliffhanger. It is a weakness that both volumes share.

Add to that the outrageous price of $24.99 for only 5 issues ($5 an issue!!!), a hundred thirty plus pages of story and the absence of a complete, standalone story becomes even more insulting.

It is a very petty and miserly and obscene ‘bleed your audience’ policy that Marvel has undertaken here, that does not deserve to be rewarded by purchasing these overpriced volumes. That said, I do feel the writing in these volumes is fun and entertaining and action-packed and worthy of a read if not a buy.

Just be aware that the cliffhanger ending, appropriate for a $3 monthly serialized comic, is wholly inappropriate for an overpriced $25 collected edition ; that you should be able to enjoy on its own without waiting months for the next volume.

GRADE : B-. Until the ending I was enjoying both volumes, but without an ending the volumes are very much like a great parallel bar routine where the athlete fails to stick the landing. Pretty, but ultimately disappointing and forgettable.

And add that exorbitant price point of $25 for 5 issues of material (and yes I realize the trade can be had for a little bit cheaper, but that is still overpriced as well) and it becomes a case of look, do not buy.

Borrow or rent these puppies for a quick read, then move onto something else, that you would not have any problems paying retail for; something you would not mind proudly adding to your bookshelf such as BATWOMAN VOL 1 HYDROLOGY. A book that I have also recently read.

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DC publishing (the other big comic book company besides Marvel) has their own problems, however producing satisfying collections is generally not one of them.

DC hardcover collections, offer an issue more and two dollars less retail, and offer a contained story, something that Marvel’s new publishing initiative MARVEL NOW may want to take note of.

Marvel writers generally are currently doing good work (far better than their esteemed competition that with few exceptions is self-destructing due to editorial hubris), so to have that sabotaged by ghetto collections… possibly not the route Marvel wants to go.

To try the books and decide for yourself or to hunt them down for less than retail use the below links and this blog earns a couple pennies. If I’ve helped turn you on to something you would have otherwise missed (BATWOMAN HYDROLOGY is a must have for any art lover’s collection. It is exquisite), then please use the links below. Thanks:

All-New X-Men, Vol. 2: Here to Stay

Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 1: Revolution

Batwoman Vol. 1: Hydrology (The New 52)

Batwoman: Elegy

PODCAST OF THE DAY: FATMAN on BATMAN 45

PODCAST OF THE DAY: FATMAN on BATMAN 45

Okay combine the writings of living legend Alan Moore at his best, with the impassioned reading of Kevin Smith and you have something excellent to accompany you through an hour or two of work.

Smith has an excellent voice for radio/podcasts, and using it to recite one of Moore’s most imaginative tales, makes this podcast a must listen.

Whether or not you have any interest in comics, Kevin Smith’s passion for the subject, and masterful reading is just addictive and entertaining. Highly recommended!

Go here to listen!

Classic COMIC BOOK Comic & Cover of the Day: BATMAN and TEEN TITANS

Today’s classic comic cover (alliteration is your friend) is a Jim Aparo cover from writer Bob Haney’s crazy 1970s run on BRAVE AND THE BOLD. This is one of the best books DC was putting out back in the 70s, and even back then the stories were outrageous non sequiturs, diverging wildly from established DC tropes of storytelling and often character. I loved Bob Haney’s stories, and being even of their time the stories were out of their time, and therefore remain oddly timeless.

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This particular cover and comic of the day is BRAVE AND THE BOLD #149, from 1979, starring BATMAN in conflict with the TEEN TITANS, and titled ‘LOOK HOMEWARD, RUNAWAY’. Both the absurd and highly entertaining writing of Bob Haney and fluid and graceful art of Jim Aparo are at full gallop in this fun story.

If interested grab a copy here!

Enjoy till next time!

What I’m reading and watching! Quick ratings!

What I’m reading! Quick ratings!

BATMAN AND ROBIN BORN TO KILL by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason- After reading one disappointing ‘NEW 52′ book after another (ACTION COMICS by Grant Morrison comes to mind) I went into this read with some trepidation, but it was unwarranted. Tomasi crafts a solidly engaging read that is good from first page to last and complimented by great art by Gleason and Gray. Strongly Recommended! B+.
Batman & Robin, Vol. 1: Born to Kill (The New 52)

SUPERMAN BATMAN SORCERER KINGS- Is a hodge-podge of four different stories, none of which really ever rises to become anything more than tedious. D.

What I’m watching:

Just finished watching Michael Moore’s SICKO and CAPITALISM A LOVE STORY back to back, and they are both powerful, essential, if not always easy viewing.

CAPITALISM A LOVE STORY is particularly brilliant, has been called Moore’s Magnum-Opus and I concur. It’s a courageous, informative, and well put together film. Sometimes Moore has a way of perhaps working a theme into the ground, and beating us over the head, and I felt that in SICKO, acutely. ‘Yeah, okay I get it, other countries have better healthcare than the US, how many examples are you going to show me? Move on to solutions.’.

Somewhere in most of Moore’s films that thought process rears up, however it didn’t in CAPITALISM A LOVE STORY. Potentially Moore’s last film it is undeniably his best. And both films, will make you want to make real, hard changes in your life. As it makes clear that the people you entrust with your well being… don’t care about that… at all. Both films should really be seen, and CAPITALISM must be seen.
Capitalism: A Love Story

Review: BATMAN THE COURT OF OWLS Vol I by Snyder and Capullo

So as this comic book was coming out in periodical/single issue form, I heard nothing but ringing praise from all corners for Scott Snyder’s BATMAN. But I waited until the trade/hardcover was out, and I’m glad I did.

The series, finally read in one nice 6 issue chunk, is good, but not great. Certainly not the accolade ridden masterpiece the reviews would have led me to believe.

Much like Snyder’s AMERICAN VAMPIRE, Snyder is a very slow burn type of writer. Book One of AMERICAN VAMPIRE, I didn’t like and didn’t find engaging at all.

BATMAN: THE COURT OF OWLS Vol I, however, is interesting, and engaging, and in places very good. It just never really feels great or all that essential to me, but it is definitely good.

The manga tinged art of Greg Capullo, takes some getting used to as it doesn’t always work for me. His Batman is great, it’s just characters, outside the mask, particularly Bruce and the rest of the Bat family just come off looking very Speed Racerish to me. A slight style/expectation clash, that I try not to let bug me. That and having read as much Batman stories as I have, the ‘broken bat’ approach can’t help but feel familiar.

So I’m not sold on this title enough to recommend it as a buy, however overall both the writing and the art, have enough of a hook and an edge to definitely recommend this as a read. Grade: B-.

Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (The New 52)

WIZARD WORLD Philadelphia 2012 Convention! Pt 2 of 2!

Well finally the much prophesied final part of my Wizard World Philadelphia 2012 coverage is here. You can see the first part here.

First some sights of us gassing up and on the road to Philly:

So finally done with the “hard-traveling” heroes bit (i.e. the road trip pics), and I already told you about getting to the con itself, and the lines… so we can get to the meat and potatoes…onto the interviews!!!

One of the first creators I ran into at the convention, was the LOADED BARREL Studios table, which was nicely located near the entrance. Their comic, BRIELLE AND THE HORROR, was one of the first comics I picked up, and was one of the first creators I interviewed at my first convention back in 2007. (that’s a lot of firsts :))

So it was a bit appropriate after being off the convention circuit for just about five years, that the first people I should run into should be LOADED BARREL studios. Kudos to the young lady who called us over, or I would have no doubt walked past obliviously. I reviewed their first issue, on this blog years ago and was quite impressed by it. I’m a fan of photo-manipulated comics, and have never seen it done as well as the team of Jared Barel, Jordan Barel, and Alex Goz do it.

So it’s good to know they have since finished BRIELLE AND THE HORROR, and have a new series THE GREY out as a graphic novel. Definitely looking forward to picking it up and you should be too. It doesn’t appear to be available on Amazon yet but you can order it here. I’m looking forward to what the future brings for this company.

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Next up, after some meandering and wandering, I talked to the gang at POWER COMIX with their new kids comic SAGA OF THE POWER HEROES. Following up on that, Spoke to Jim Demonakos of the band KIRBY KRACKLE, and listened to his latest CD.

This was Jim’s first show at Wizard World Philly, and I thought the portable players/listening section he had setup was a nice touch. However being the founder of his own quite successful convention, Emerald City Comic Con, as well as a successful band, Jim is no stranger to conventions or great ideas. The music of Kirby Krackle being proof on both fronts, and comes recommended. You can sample the music and get your CD here.

On the video front, I met Ryan Cole, the cinematographer and Joe Parascand, who plays Sheriff Tom, one of the stars of the film MARY HORROR. Again a nice setup, with a multi-display arrangement to showcase their horror film. A horror film you can find out more about at MARY HORROR.

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My next interview at the con was Artist/co-creator Frankie B. Washington of the quite impressive web-comic ROBOT GOD AKAMATSU. The series done with writer co-creator James Biggie is a nice take on the Giant Robot genre that I haven’t seen before, and highlighted by great visuals, going by his gray-scale drawings.

With movement toward animation and merchandising, this is a series and a creative team to watch. And you can do so here! (One word regarding the site, the artwork there is colored a little dark, maybe even a bit muddy, so you lose the sense of the great line work and gray-scale artwork that they had on display at the convention. So my only caveat to the creators would be think about showcasing their linework/gray-scale art a bit more on the site or work on tweaking the coloring, as I feel the artist’s work gets completely gutted by the current coloring process. Other than that, well worth a look.)

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One of the other interviews of the day, and one of my few purchases was from Shawn Alleyne’s PYROGLYPHICS Studios. PYROGLYPHICS consists of creators Joseph Currie, Koran Curtis, Stanley Weaver, Charlie Goubile, James Mason and the aforementioned Shawn Alleyne and together they’ve just launched a title called STREET TEAM. Highlighted by simply gorgeous art, their post-modern comic is equal parts martial arts, manga/anime tinged, masked heroes, video-games and good old fashioned action. Toss in they also offered a special that included two huge prints, magnets, and postcards, and it was an easy buy.

Now the comic looks like it may just be a one-shot and a spring board for the video game, but I hope not. I hope we can look forward to quarterly or annual issues of STREET TEAM. Well to get your copies of STREET TEAM and find out more go bug Mr. Alleyne himself here or the Street Team crew here.

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I also had the chance to meet the talented husband and wife duo of Jerry and Penelope Gaylord. They have very distinct styles to one another, but very complimentary and very good. See for yourself at IDENTITY COMICS! Tell ‘em HT sent ya!

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One of the joys for me of going to these shows is discovering a talent, an artist I was unaware of. So it’s with great pleasure that I came across the artwork of Laura Guzzo (kudos to her friend, Michael I think, who did a great job promoting her and singing her praises). Not only is she an ASTOUNDING artist, but her print prices are ridiculously reasonable.

You need to run, don’t walk to her website (well considering this is the web you don’t have to walk or run, try clicking here :)) and see her great artwork and purchase some at her Etsy store. She’s definitely going to be working for the big comic companies in no-time. Specifically she has an interesting and unique vision, that would make her a strong cover artist. I look forward to seeing her upcoming work.


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Well kids, that’s a wrap for this installment. All in all a fun convention, and I hope I’ve pointed you to some talent to familiarize yourself with. And if I do help turn you on to some new talent, just let them know that Heroic Times sent ya! :)

Thanks again for visiting and I’ll leave you with a couple pictures from the con, most notably the Philly version of Black Widow,, which I have to tell you… is a pretty awesome version. Grrrowwlll. :)

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In closing huge kudos to Jerry Milani of Wizard World for a fantastically well publicized, and well organized show!

And lest I forget, for anyone who I didn’t cover, please chalk that up to my head and not my heart, more than likely I didn’t have your complete contact info when time came to put this together. Just leave me a comment here, or email me if I gave you one of my business cards and we’ll get that corrected asap.

Thanks to everyone who made the show a great time for all involved! That’s all folks, go out there and be good to each other.

WIZARD WORLD PHILADELPHIA COMIC-CON 2012 Convention Coverage

Just back from the Wizard World Philly Con. Due to pure economics (factors external to Wizard World, sold out hotels, exorbitant remaining hotel and parking prices) one day, Saturday, was the sole day I could be there.

But it was by all appearances a packed event, well attended. They had people lining up inside in one of the upper floors which is a nice change from other Conventions I’ve attended where the line is outside.

That said the line/lines were quite confusing and quite full. Luckily the con is staffed with helpful volunteers who are on hand to direct the stymied. Plus the lines while packed, seemed to be moving, In the future I would just suggest a clearer designation of what each line is and where it is, as they tended to run into each other and be a bit of a cluster.

However their organization for press/attendees was excellent. A helpful volunteer directed us to the press sign-in, and we were able to walk right up, get our credentials, and walk right in. It’s obvious Wizard World Philly has put some thought into their entrance process, and the interior queuing station, and the press/attendee entrance are huge improvements over your father’s con. :)

Once entered the hall itself is quite large, filled with a nice mix of retailers/resellers, artists, celebrity signings (The big draw of the Convention floor. The lines for Chris Hemsworth and Stan Lee were getting substantial even before 1030am), and a smattering of costume wearers (Cos-players as they are known). Two of the most impressive were a Blade and a Black Widow. Both really looked the part, the guy playing Blade would have given Wesley a run for his money, and the woman playing Black Widow, definitely had the assets to pull off the skin tight costume. :)

There was a 1960s era Batmobile there, recreation or real, and it was manned by a suitably out of shape TV era Batman, he made Adam West look positively herculean. But at least the female Robin and the Batgirl with him, were well fit.

But overall there were less costumes there than I expected, though to be fair, it was just cranking up when I was taking off, and people were still pouring in.

The big draw for me however was just walking through artist alley. The legendary George Perez was there, and from door open, had a line. Greg Capullo, was another one who was mobbed from moment one. I tended to leave the big draws alone, and was more interested in the under-patronized artist.

Next installment will bring you some of those discoveries.

But all in all WIZARD WORLD PHILADELPHIA COMIC-CON is a good local convention. If you are in Philly, it’s no reason not to show your face, unless of course you have to deal with the inexplicable gridlock caused by some good old boy/frat boy street demonstration that was bringing traffic on the way to the convention to a standstill. :)

But for people coming from out of town, unless money is no object, the combination of tolls, parking and inflated hotel and everything else prices, may make it a bit of a money pit. Which even the best of Conventions are, though the location and prices of downtown Philly ratchets that up into the stratosphere.

But external costs aside, which is beyond the control of WIZARD WORLD ,(with the exception of tickets, which are reasonable) it’s a well organized event. Check back for part II as I cover some of the intriguing creators met at Wizard World 2012.

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The 2nd and Final Part of the convention coverage has been posted and you can find it here! Enjoy, I had a blast putting it together!