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Thursday, April 20, 2017

What If ... Attack of the Clones


One of the biggest disappointments of Attack of the Clones, for me anyway, was the ending. For most of the movie we're under the impression that Count Dooku and the Separatists are convinced that the Republic has become corrupt and they legitimately want to split off. Dooku even lays all of that out for Kenobi, asking the latter to join them.

Then it turns out that Dooku is really Darth Tyranus and working for Palpatine. Ugh.

Here's my idea for what could have been. Dooku was really leading what he thought was the right side in the war. Yes, he might have been manipulated behind the scenes, but he knew that he was on the side of the just. The offer he makes to Obi-Wan is genuine, and not the last on he will make to a Jedi. The fact that he's giving Palpatine exactly what he wants then become a tragedy.

Even more of a tragedy is the fact that the Jedi, those lovers of peace and protectors of the rights of all beings, are on the wrong side and DON'T KNOW IT! The Jedi bring about, unknowingly, the destruction of the one group that could have overthrown the soon-to-be Emperor, or at least give a safe haven for all of those that eventually became oppressed under his rule.

Making both sides of the war under the control of one man just ended up with a much more boring story in the long run. Entirely in my opinion, of course.

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Space Battleship Yamato 2199


I recently got my hands on the entire Space Battleship Yamato 2199 series for fairly cheap and, having been injured recently and not really wanting do do housework, I have watched the whole thing. Here are my thoughts on it.

I'm not one for remakes or re-imaginings, especially of properties that I love. Star Blazers is one of those that I never wanted anyone to touch but the people that did this version obviously love the original as much as I do. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about it. That's right, nothing.

The story line is, essentially, the exact same one from The Quest for Iscandar, which Dr. Bill and I covered on Anime Freaks. However, there are change, and every single one of them is for the better. First of all, there are more female characters on the ship. Yuki Mori (aka Nova) is still there, but now she's just the Operations Officer. The role of Nurse is taken by Makoto Harada, a capable if slightly ditzy assistant to Dr. Sado (aka Dr. Sane). Then we have Assistant Warrant Officer Yuria Misaki, who acts as the moral officer, even starting a ship's radio station for entertainment.

Probably the biggest female lead after Mori is Ensign Akira Yamamoto (the white haired woman above) who is a fighter pilot and seems to have taken much of Kodai's (Wildstar's) hatred of Garmillas (aka Gamelons). She also seems to be developing a connection with Kodai, making for a love triangle that we didn't see in the original.

The next addition that I like is that there are a lot, and I mean A LOT, of subplots going on. Both on the Yamato and within the Garmillas Empire. None of these slow down the show, but instead give us some really good moments and plot points. At least one of these was scrapped in the original, but it worked in very well here.

If I give you anything else, I'm pretty sure that I'll be spoiling something, and I really don't think you'll want that. I would highly recommend that any fan of Star Blazers pick this up.

I now leave you with the opening (which doesn't show up until Episode 3) in all of it's awesomeness.



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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Thunderstrike

As you all know, I'm a Thor guy. I came onto the character with Walt Simonson, but I stayed for quite awhile. One of the periods that I was there for was the Tom DeFalco/Ron Frenz run, which introduced the character of Eric Masterson.

Masterson was to become the new "Donald Blake" in that he was an alter ego for Thor, but his time it was due to Thor and Masterson being merged in order to save Masterson's life. This led to some really great stories, and eventually Masterson took over the role of Thor when the original was banished.

Once Thor came back, and the two were separated again, Odin gave Masterson a cane of his own. This transformed into the enchanted mace named Thunderstrike, and gave Masterson some measure of Thor's power. That was something I was all about. This wasn't someone else usurping Thor's place, but an ally that could be called upon to help out the Thunder God, or the occasional Protector of the Universe.

It was also, quite frankly, wish fulfillment. No one could be Don Blake, since that was a creation of Odin. Someone could, however, prove themselves worthy of an enchanted weapon of their own. Much like Billy Batson saying "Shazam!" and being changed into Captain Marvel, Thunderstrike showed that anyone could obtain fabulous power, if they showed that they could wield it.

In addition to the solid writing, by Mr. DeFalco, was the great art by Mr. Frenz. Again, as you all know, I like comic art that is clean and doesn't go all wonky with the anatomy. Ron Frenz has that in spades. He, like John Romita, Sr., John & Sal Buscema, John Byrne, George Pérez, and José Luis García-López (pbhn), has a great sense of figure and storytelling. Plus, his characters all look like they're in the middle of doing something rather than standing around posing. Not to mention his wonderful facial expressions, which give you a glimpse of what the character is thinking. It's just great stuff.

At one point I had the entire run of Thunderstrike but, sadly, that went as part of the Great College Comics Purge. Unfortunately it looks like the series hasn't been collected, so I might just have to hunt down some issues.

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

The ELs of Hazzard




Inspired by a recent Facebook post I made, here is my mash up of Superman & The Dukes of Hazzard. All of the characters would be played by the same actors as in the original TV show, but they would act as a cross between the Dukes & Superman personalities.

Lucas K. "Luke" Duke (Tom Wopat) = Kal-El
The more level-headed of the two, I can see Luke developing the Superman "Do the right thing because it's the right thing to do" attitude.











Beauregard "Bo" Duke (John Schneider) = Mon-El
A little more on the impetuous side, and a car control freak, I can see Bo providing a nice counter balance to Luke. He still wants to do the right thing, but in a more direct, and not necessarily legal, way.









Daisy Duke (Catherine Bach) = Kara Zor-El
There's really no choice here, really. If Daisy is going to be Kryptonian, she has to be Pre-Crisis Kara. She's more of a middle ground between Bo and Luke, and perfectly capable of taking care of herself. She also acts as the "inside source", being a waitress at The Boar's Nest.










Jesse Duke (Denver Pyle) = Jonathan Kent
Jesse is he voice of reason and overall moral compass of the Duke family (which is amusing when you realize that they're a family of bootleggers). Obviously he's Jonathan, but I see him more of the Glenn Ford version from Superman The Movie. A down to earth man who is capable of dealing with three super-powered youngsters.





Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (James Best) = Chief Douglas Parker
Yeah, we're taking someone who was a good guy (Parker) and making him into a villain, but omelettes and eggs. It would make for an interesting situation, with the Superman Family having to work outside the law to do the right thing. That might make for some interesting storylines.








Boss Jefferson Davis "J.D." Hogg (Sorrell Booke) = Lex Luthor
Yeah, this is kind of a no-brainer, but while this is businessman Lex, he's not super-good with technology. That would explain why he's content to rule Hazard County rather than a big city. Still, it can be argued that the amount of control that Hogg exhibits over Hazzard is actually greater than what Lex has over Metropolis, since LexCorp has competition and J.D. Hogg basically owns all of Hazard.





Cooter Davenport (Ben Jones) = Pete Ross
The non-Duke/Kent that is a friend and in on the secret. And Cooter is also able to act as an inside man, in that he's located inside the town of Hazard and able to communicate goings on to the Dukes. I see this version, much like Pete Ross, as able to cover for the Dukes/Els in order to protect their secret.





Deputy Cletus Hogg (Rick Hurst)  = Otis

Cletus always struck me as an oaf. A lovable one, but still an oaf. He's caught between what he sees as his job of enforcing the law and doing what's right. He's just not bright enough to figure a way out of the situation. This would solve the problem of "why does Lex keep Otis around?" Here, he would be realted to him, so he can't really get rid of him.




Flash (Sandy and others) = Krypto

Yeah, this is kind of obvious, but having Krypto on the side of the bad guys would actually make Boss Hogg & Roscoe a threat to the Super-powered Dukes. It would also clue them in that something is going on in Hazzard and make them want to figure it out. There's an added benefit in that Roscoe wouldn't want Kryptonite around, because it would hurt his dog.

One of the benefits here is that now the General Lee's seemingly impossible jumps are explained by the Dukes flying the car themselves. And just imagine the cast of The Dukes of Hazzard dealing with some of the plots from the Silver Age Superboy. Now that's comedy gold!

And now for the one I couldn't do:

Deputy Enos Strate (Sonny Shroyer) = ???
OK, I admit it. I couldn't come up with anyone for Enos. I was originally going to go with Otis, but that works better for Cletus. I'm not really all that familiar with the Pre-Crisis Superboy's cast, so I might be missing someone really obvious, If any of you can think of someone, please let me know.









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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Evaluating Vacation Options - Packing

Disney Luggage from American Tourister
We're getting down to the wire, so it's time to talk about the final part of any vacation planning, packing! I actually started this step this past weekend, with stuff that we know we'll need but won't be using until the trip, like bathing suits and beach towels.

I know what you're thinking, and you're right. Most people do know what to take on vacation. However, there are some tips that I can give you for traveling to Orlando. These are things that most people wouldn't think to pack, but really help in my experience.

1. Water Bottles - As long as they aren't glass, you're allowed to bring refillable water bottles into the parks. This is great, both for the Florida heat and for saving money. There are plenty of water fountains around to refill your bottles, so you'll always have a drink when you need it.

1a. Water Additive - I like the Mio brand of water flavoring, but anything will do. Sometimes drinking plain water can get a little boring, so having these small bottles around to add flavor really helps.

2. Ponchos - Florida is wet, especially in the warmer months, and afternoon storms are the norm. While you can buy ponchos at the parks, they aren't cheap. I'd recommend buying about two per member of the traveling party at your local dollar store and bringing them with you.

3. Zip-Closing Bags - Along with the rain, there are water rides. If you don't want your phone/watch/wallet/etc to get wet, have several Ziplok or Glad bags ready to seal these items away from getting soaked.

4. Snacks - You are able to bring small snacks in with you, much like the water bottles. This isn't a picnic lunch, but something to take the edge off before your lunch/dinner reservations is a good idea. I prefer packs of cracker sandwiches and cookies.

5. Hand Sanitizer - A little bottle of this can go a long way. Disney and Universal keep what they can clean, but they can't control everything. Having this with you can help out if you just need a quick clean.

6. A Backpack - Part of my job at the parks is playing "pack mule". I carry all the stuff above plus anything else we might need. A backpack is pretty much a must, but make sure it's not too big. The one I took last time sometimes had trouble fitting in the ride vehicles with us.

7. Cell Phone Charging Case - Something I noticed last time was that my cell phone ran out of juice about half way through the day. Since we were using the My Disney Experience App, this was a bit of a problem. This time, though, both Michelle and I have cases for our phones that act as secondary batteries, which means that we should be good to go.

EDIT: Mike Zummo (of the Man of Screen Podcast) suggested making sure that your cell phone is on Energy Saver mode, to ensure that you get every second possible out of the battery.

I'm always looking for other tips, so if you have any, please let me know.

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Starting a New Collection


A few months ago, I decided that if I want to collect something other that Quasar appearances, then I could do worse than get every issue that was cover dated for the month that I was born. That would be December 1975, for those keeping score. I haven't started on this yet, but if I come across any in my travels I might just start out.

What kind of odd comic collections to you have? I know Scott Gardner has his Disney Parks collections (parks appearing in comic issues and issues featured in WDW itself), but does anyone else have something like that?

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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Anime Freaks - "Season 2"

You guessed it, I got really busy at work again, so I didn't have a chance to put up a well thought out post.  So, here's the kickoff episode for our second batch of Anime Freaks coverage. This time we're doing Record of Lodoss War, one of my favorite series from college, and Attack on Titan, the series that's all the rage in anime circles.

We're still open as to what to cover after we get through the 13 episode of RoLW, so let us know what you want us to cover. And if you have a movie suggestion, we might just take a break part way through and cover that. You can get in touch with us on Facebook or via e-mail.

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Like what I'm doing here on the blog and podcast? Why not check out my Patreon Page to see how you can help me do more? http://www.patreon.com/TheHammerStrikes