Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Santa has come to the internet and has dropped off some podcasts for your listening pleasure. All of these were done by my cohorts over at the Two True Freaks Internet Radio Network, so you know they're good quality. :)

First up we have Tom Panarese with some music for all of you. These are Tom's favorite songs that get the least air play on the radio. Good stuff.

You can download it here.

Then there's Chris "Hair Metal Hero" Tyler reading "The Gift of the Magi". He really does this classic tale justice and he even works in Emmet Ottr's Jugband Christmas, so now you have to listen.

You can download it here.

Next we have the Back to the Bins show where they review Marvel, DC, and Disney Christmas comics. Yes, there are tangents a plenty, but that's pretty much how BttB works.

WARNING: You may want to avoid listening if there are younger ears in the room.

You can download it here.

Now we come to my own contribution. Those of you that are friends with me on Facebook and Google+ will have alread seen the announcement of this, but I wanted to mention it here just in case you have nearly 3 hours to kill. Yes, I read the ENTIRE original text of "A Christmas Carol". I didn't do any special effects or music, but if I get enough feedback on the subject I might do a special edition for next year.

Yeah, I know I'm not Christian, but there's so much Heathen symbolism just in the Ghost of Christmas Present, that I love this story.

You can download it here.

And we have now arrived at the all star Two True Freaks Christmas Variety Special. Along with pretty much everyone else on the network, I took part in this and it's a great episode.

WARNING: Definitely not suitable for anyone of younger years or high levels of maturity.

You can download it here.

Then there's Hey Kids, Comics! where Micheal and Andy Leyland take a bit of a darker turn for the holidays. It's Grant Morrison, so what do you expect?

You can download it here.

Last up for Two True Freaks is Earning My Ears, a Walt Disney World podcast done by Scott Gardner and Scott Ryfun. The subject this time out is Christmas in the parks and how to get the most enjoyment out of your trip. Also, where can you find Christmas in WDW 365 days a year. Good stuff!

Next, while they're not affiliated with Two True Freaks, I would be greatly remiss if I didn't mention Star Wars In Character. These guys have done three,count 'em THREE, amazing Christmas Specials with completely original songs! Wonderful stuff!

WARNING: These are definitely not suitable for younger ears due to language and subject matter. There are also a copious amount of ear-worms in here.

The 2012 show can be downloaded here.

The 2013 show can be downloaded here.

The 2014 show can be downloaded here.

Finally, for some more good old superhero holiday magic, we have Chris and Cindy Franklin of the Suprmates Podcast looking in on a comic and a cartoon, both involving the Timm-verse versions of the DC Heroes. Really good stuff here, especially when Cinday explains why she could be friends with the Ultra Humanite.

You can download this one here.

As is quickly becoming my tradition, I'll be taking next week off from posting, so come on back on January 8th for more geeky goodness!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Golden Age of Cartooning

From Movie Muse Scraps

Being an unabashed child of the 1980's, I have long held that this decade was the Golden Age of animation. Most of it, in my opinion, can be attributed to the fact that there were so few channels available and each one of them was competing for the demographics. While a good number of cartoons that I watched were, basically, half hour toy commercials, they were all at least entertaining and, more often than not, made you think. Below are a few of my must see series. In other words, those shows that I annoyed my sister with by demanding that we watch them.

A very special thank you to Charlie Niemeyer, who's now defunct show, Charlies Geekcast, put me in this mindset.

Spider-Man, Iceman and Firestar. You just can't go wrong. Well, they did with the dog.

Bruce Banner and the Incredible Reappearing Clothes

Yes, I know that this was from the 70's, but I first saw it on Nickelodeon in the 80's.

Still the best Flash Gordon adaptation out there.

This is probably my favorite version of the show, Wonder Twins and all.

It didn't take me long to realize that the Earth would be destroyed right around when I graduated High School. Still, a fun show.

I actually had some toys from this show. The figures had little wheels that made sparks to light up their chest emblems. Not something you'd see today.

My very first lay-away item was the Thunder Tank.

Great show with an astronomy lesson at the end of each episode.

I had a mess of these figures. And all the stuff was mix and match.

This one's for my Quantum Cast co-host.

Yeah, it's kidified, but I still like it. OK, you can get rid of the mice and I wouldn't complain.

Still my favorite version of the Transformers.

The first time I ever won something it was a He-Man contest at Burger King.

No, they couldn't hit anything they were aiming at, but I still loved this show,

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

This past Sunday was the 35th Anniversary of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, one of my favorite movies of all time and what I consider to be the reason for my geeky nature. To celebrate this historic event, I invited Scott Gardner, one half of the Two True Freaks, to talk with me about the movie and what it means to us.

I would encourage anyone, regardless of what you think about this movie, to listen to our discussion and then rewatch the movie. I think you'll find that it's actually pretty good. And if you do that, please let us know on Facebook what you thought.

Direct Download:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thoughts on the Teaser

Yes, I watched the teaser for Episode 7 and, even though I didn't make it to the Two True Freaks Round Table, I do have some thoughts on it.

Just in case you haven't seen it (and if you haven't, what rock have you been living under?) here it is:

First of all, let's remember that this is a teaser, meaning it's only here to whet your appetite for more, and I think it certainly accomplishes that, at least for me.

Now, I've heard some stuff about the, what I believe, is the Stormtrooper that pops up in the beginning and the fact that he doesn't look like Jango Fett. Well, by the time of Star Wars, the Empire was recruiting for it's military (remember the Academy that Luke wants to go to?) and the Stormtroopers were just a higher level of foot soldiers. That means that they can look like anyone, really.

Next up, let's talk about the Light-Broadsword. That looks, to me anyway, like an older, less refined version of the traditional lightsaber. I say this because it looks as if the blade isn't completely under control and, if this is an ancient evil awakening, it would make sense that the weapon would also be ancient. I do think that the cross piece is a bit more dangerous than useful, but that's just me.

Yes, the R2 head on the soccer ball looks ... odd. I don't know what's going on there, and I'm not sure I want to. I do hope that the name of P3-L3 that I saw on Scott Ryfun's Facebook page doesn't stick, though. Yeah, it's funny, but it smacks of the Tarzan yell from Jedi, too close to our world to be there.

But, the piece de resistance has to be the ships. X-Wings flying low over the water, TIE Fighters attacking, and the Millennium Falcon back in action! Yeah, I'm excited, but I'm also cautious. JJ Abrams made one Star Trek movie that was alright and one that I haven't seen because I don't want to get ticked off. I really hope he doesn't screw this up.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

For the first time in about 12 years, my family will all be together to celebrate Thanksgivng ON Thanksgiving. As such, I will leave you with this comic cover, one of the very few Thanksgiving comics out (and recently covered on Back to the Bins).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

What I've been up to lately

I've been doing a number of things on the podcasting front recently. At the beginning of November the latest episode of Anime Freaks came out, where Dr. Bill and I are joined by Matt Hunsworth of Star Wars In Character, as well as many other fine podcasts. In this episode, we cover the Star Force near Pluto and Saturn, along with the first firing of the Wave Motion Gun.

That episode can be found here:

On that same front, we just finished recording the latest episode of the show, but this time with Luke Joconetti from Earth Destruction Directive and the Vault of Startling Monster Horror Tales of Terror. Look for that early in December.

I also, this past Saturday, released the latest The Hammer Podcasts! episode, where The Irredeemable Shag and I tackled the topic of Role Playing Games. In that show you will find out why this blog is called The Hammer Strikes!

You can find that one here:

I'm now hard at work on the next two episodes of THP, the first of which will be out in a little over two weeks.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Big Hero 6

From Disney Insider

My family recently went to see Big Hero 6 in the theater and, I have to say, we all had a blast. This is a fun movie, but it does deal with some heavy issues. I'd say it had just about the perfect mix of drama, comedy, and action. I would have liked if the villain reveal wasn't as underwhelming, but I'm keyed in to looking for clues like that, so it might have been better for others.

I would recommend this movie to pretty much anyone, but especially to those parents of children who love superheroes. Kira had a great time. She liked it so much that it's on the same level as Frozen in her mind.

Keep in mind that this is based off a Marvel property, so make sure you watch until the very end of the credits. I was amazed that we were the only people still left in the theater.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

How Spoiled I Was

I have been hearing about the USS Flag a lot with what I've been listening to recently, and while I never had that (and didn't know anyone who did), I did have an absolutely HUGE playset for GI Joe. Sold in 1987, and I believe I got it for Christmas that year, was the GI Joe Defiant Space Vehicle Launch Complex.

Being a fan of GI Joe and Star Trek, this obviously made sense for my parents (or was it my grandfather?) to get me. It was enormous, taking up a good chunk of floor space in my room, but I played the heck out of that. At a retail price of $99.99, that was definitely my big gift that year, and 12 year old me was thrilled!

Add this to the fact that I had the Batcopter (which o one else seems to have had) and I was a very spoiled child.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Disney Halloween

In honor of tomorrow being Halloween, I present you with one of the greatest TV specials from my childhood.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Greek Gods

The latest episode of The Hammer Podcasts! dropped last Thursday. This time out I talk about three stories concerning the Greek Gods, along with some tangents into religions, both ancient and modern. As such, I would caution those without open minds to consider skipping this one.

You can get the direct download here:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Marvel Unlimited

Thanks to the NYCC special offer from Marvel (and permission from my wife) I have finally signed up for Marvel Unlimited. Thanks to that I have reread my first ever comic book, and I think I'm going to undertake reading Spider-Man from the beginning.

What this does, though, is reinforce my opinion that digital is the wave of the future. Now I can read a HUGE amount of comics both that I loved as a child and that I never got a chance to read. And I don't have to store the dang things!

Unfortunately, they have a very limited amount of Quasar available, but there's always hope.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Anime Freaks is Live!

Yeah, that's right, I've got another podcast I'm doing. This time I'm teaming up with Dr. Bill Robinson, also of the Two True Freaks Internet Radio Network, to talk about Anime. Our first/second show just went live yesterday. It's the first because it's the first Anime Freaks. It's the second because we actually got started when we teamed up for Assistant Editors' Month back in August.

To begin with, we're looking at the first season of Star Blazers. We're planning a mid season break where we'll look at a more modern anime movie, but we don't know what that is yet. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to e-mail us at

For you listening pleasure, you can download the latest episode here:

The "first" episode can be found here:

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Superhero Lairs

You know what's great about having this blog? When people, out of the blue, send you interesting things. This one comes from Abhinay Mahadik in the UK and is a list of Superhero Lairs and what you need to recreate them. Something tells me that you won't be able to get all of these items ar TerrysBlinds, but I haven't looked through their whole catalog, so I can't be 100% sure. Enjoy.

The Ultimate List Of Superhero Lairs
The Ultimate List Of Superhero Lairs by Terrys Fabrics.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Muppet Babies Syndrome

I recently started listening to Trentus Magnus Punches Reality and in his first show Magnus defends Smallville. I've only seen a few episodes of the show myself, so I'm not qualified in commenting on the quality of it. I do agree with him that the premise of the show is the journey to becoming Superman, so having Clark put on the suit before the last episode doesn't make sense. One thing that I do have a problem with, and not just in this show, is what I call "Muppet Babies Syndrome."

What's that, you ask? That is the trope that we see, in TV and comics mostly, where just because characters know each other as adults, that means that they MUST have known each other as kids. Muppet Babies, Smallville, Flinstone Kids, A Pup Named Scooby Doo, etc, etc. All of these shows show horn in characters from other versions that, if you think about it, shouldn't be there.

Let's look at a typical person's life. They have friends growing up, that live near them and go to the same school. Fine, no problem. When they grow up, they go to college/get a job and meet new people. People that they didn't know as a kid. The older you get, the more people you meet. Some become closer to you than those you grew up with, some don't.

To take a character, like Superman, and say that EVERYONE he ever met in the comics knew him, at some point, before he put on the suit makes NO SENSE! You want Lana Lang, OK that works. Lex Luthor? I'm not a fan, but there's precedent there. Lois Lane? Um ... alright, if it make story sense. Green Arrow, Aquaman, Batman, and the ENTIRE Justice Society? Nope, sorry, I'm drawing the line. Superman was the hero that inspired others to become heroes, not the other way around.

Of course, the biggest problem with this is that DC then said "Wow, this show is successful. Let's bring all of that into the comics!" That was one of the things that made me stop reading the Superman comics. When Clark Kent runs into Lexcorp Tower claiming that he can talk to Lex since they grew up together, and I can pull out an issue where they first met, years after Superman made his debut, and no Crisis was involved, you lose me.

Please keep in mind that I have no problem with alternate takes on things. I can compartmentalize characters. Christopher Reeve =/= George Reeves =/= Brandon Routh =/= Tim Daly =/= Henry Cavill =/= Dean Cain =/= Tom Welling. Each exists in their own universe and doesn't affect the others. When they do bleed over, though, especially when they change the comics just because of this show/movie/whatever is popular and not for any valid story reason, that I don't like. Of course, I'm not buying new(er) comics any more, so it's kind of a moot point.

Let me stress that these are MY hang-ups. This is why I don't read the comics any more or watch Smallville. They have nothing to do with the products themselves by more my mentality. I know that I'll get annoyed by them, so why put myself through that? If you like this stuff, as Magnus obviously loves Smallville, good for you. We don't all need to like the same things.

OK, I just had to get that off my chest. We now return you to more light-hearted fare.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tales of the Seventh Fleet

As a follow up to last week, and to prove just how far down the geeky rabbit hole I've gone, I present to you the first (and so far only) three episodes of "Tales of the Seventh Fleet". the web series that I did as part of the USS Justice fan club.

Those with sensitive stomachs may wish to click away now. While I'm proud of what we did here, I can not say that they are objectively good.

Return To Doomsday from Louis Srygley on Vimeo.

Upgrade from Louis Srygley on Vimeo.

A Touch Of Home from Louis Srygley on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How Star Trek Changed My Life

I have spoken previously about how Star Trek kick-started my geekdom (The Hammer Podcasts - Episode 1), but as the show turned 48 this past Monday, I was thinking about just how it changed my life. You see, when I was a kid I was fascinated by the way things worked, just ask my dad about the number of remote controls I disassembled. That was fed, partially, by seeing Scotty crawling around inside the Jeffries Tubes and adjusting stuff.

When I got the Mr. Scott's Guide for my birthday one year, I was so excited that you'd thought I won the lottery. That book, more than any other, cemented my love of behind the scenes things. But it also propelled me to want to emulate my TV hero and become an engineer. It was that decision, more than any other, that changed my life. Not only because of my current career, but because, through the School of Engineering, I met my wife.

If it wasn't for Gene Roddenberry's vision, which my mother saw when she was in high school, I wouldn't have my job, my wife, or my daughter. Heady stuff.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Legends of the Superheroes - The Incredible Hulk

Those of you following the blog on Facebook and Google+ will have noticed that I added a new "Legends of the Superheroes" podcast last night. This time Chris and Mike from The Ninjaverse were kind enough to join me in talking about The Incredible Hulk. Give it a listen, won't you?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Who Ya Gonna Call?

Part of this festivities this weekend, for me at least, will be meeting up with a group of friends to see Ghostbusters in the theater and celebrate the film's 30th Anniversary. This will be the first time I'll be seeing the film in a theater (I first saw it on HBO), so it should be a great time. This is one of my all time favorite films, and probably the first one that I was able to quote from memory. To this day, if someone says "Hey, let's watch Ghostbusters." I'm in.

What's nice about this film is that it works like Looney Tunes, in that you can be a kid and find it funny but as an adult there's more levels there to appreciate. It's a kind of movie making that, until very recently, I thought was a dead art. Luckily, Guardians of the Galaxy came along and restored my faith that movies could be enjoyable for all but still be intelligent.

And now I leave you with the very 80's music video for the theme song, by Ray Parker, Jr.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


One of the greatest things to come out of Disney Television, at least in my mind, was Gargoyles. While I was not it's target audience (being in college when it was on TV) I was sucked into it none the less. The premise is a mix of superhero, fantasy, science fiction, and Shakespeare. Add to that the spectacular voice acting of such greats as Keith David, Ed Asner, Frank Welker, Jonathan Frakes, and Marina Sirtis, among others, and how could I not love it? Just check out the opening theme, from back when shows explained the premise at the beginning of each episode, and tell me that this wasn't tailor made for me?

How about the rest of you? Was there a cartoon/comic/movie/etc that you were obviously not the target audience for that just spoke to you, like Gargoyles speaks to me?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

This Was A Tough One

I've been struggling on what to post today. Last week I celebrated my daughter's birthday and today I'm posting about death. As many subscribe to death coming in threes, we had a trio of celebrity deaths this week. While I'm saddened at the loss of Lauren Bacall
 and Arlene Martel,
it is the tragedy of the death of Robin Williams that I think I should talk about.

As many of you know, after all the coverage, Robin Williams suffered from depression. He fought his inner demons for all of his life and finally lost that battle on Monday. I wish I could say that I understood what he was going through, but I don't. I have never suffered the way he, and many in the world, have. All I can say is that there is another way and that everyone, at some point in their lives, needs help. If you are feeling like there is no way out and are considering taking you own life, please seek out that help.

Also, if you know someone, as many of us do, that might be suffering from depression, please help them. Whether it's you personally, or just finding them someone else that can provide the help, please do so. Here is a great place to start:

Thursday, August 7, 2014

For Kira

My daughter, Kira (who's name comes from The Dark Crystal, not DS9), turned 6 years old yesterday. So, in her honor I'm posting this video.

Now I am in no way a "Brony", but as a father of a girl who is obsessed with My Little Pony (not to mention being married to the original MLP fangirl), I have no choice but to be exposed to the show. That said, I appreciate the nod to the parents that are watching with their children, especially those of the geeky persuasion.

As you can see from this side-by-side, there are some Star Wars fans on the staff, and I like what they did here. To Kira, this was a great end scene after hard-fought battle. To me, it's a way for the show's producers to tell me that they appreciate that I have to sit through this.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I'm at it again

Yeah, that's right, I was a guest on another podcast. This time the guys at The Ninjaverse we nice enough to invite me along to discuss the tiny bit of news that managed to make it out of a small town called San Diego. Give it a listen. There's bound to be something you'll find interesting.

You can even watch us!

Oh, and since I went on a bit of a rant on the show, I'll just put this here:

And you did listen to the latest episode of The Hammer Podcasts!, right? No? Well what are you waiting for!?!? Download it here.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Worthy Cause

Event LogoMy buddy, Paul Spataro, is raising money for Pancreatic Cancer Research. If you have a few bucks to drop in the jar, please consider donating here. Thanks.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

That's it. I'm done.

I'm pretty sure that you've ll heard about the latest from Marvel, giving Thor's power & responsibility to a woman because there are obviously no other strong, female characters in their pantheon. You know, no one that has been in two movie and an episode of their TV show and, in all instances, shown as a smart, strong, and capable woman. Nope, none of them around, so we have to turn one of our male characters female.

Talk about your lazy writing. Why wouldn't you want to create a new character and not use Sif (sorry, did I spoil what I was saying before)? It's not like there's Idun, Freja, Frigga, or any of the goddesses that Marvel has already created lying around waiting to be used. Heck, let's just make up a character out of whole cloth and give her the powers of Thor. Why bother giving an existing character any kind of development?

Let me make one more point here, I have no problem, none what so ever, with a woman being able to heft Mjolnir (Captain America did it) or even getting the powers of Thor (Beta Ray Bill did it). What I have a problem with is Marvel saying that the only way a woman can do either of those things is if Thor is no longer worthy of the title of Thunder God. Saying that the only way a woman can get ahead is if a man is ousted is the completely wrong message to send. Why couldn't we do the same thing that we did with Beta Ray Bill and have her heft the hammer and be given Thor's power, then try a determine who is more worthy of the hammer? Why does Thor have to be disgraced in order for a woman to move into his role?

This decision just cements my belief that there is nothing left in modern comics for me. I'm done with everything except back issues, and those are from last century.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Is That a Challenge?

In the latest episode of The Hammer Podcasts! I laid down a challenge to the listeners. Do you have any topics that you want to hear me talk about? If I get enough topics in, I promise that I will release episode more often than once a month. So, do you have something you want me to talk about? It could be something new or just more in depth on something I've already covered. The only rule is it has to be geeky in nature. Please feel free to send your submissions to

Oh, and if you missed the episode, here is the direct download for you:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Assistant Editors' Month

I wanted to let everyone know that July is going to be Assistant Editors' Month over on Two True Freaks. The premise is that Scott and Chris (the titular Freaks) will be taking the month off from their Monthly Monday shows and letting others on the network take the reigns. Why do I tell you all this? Because yours truly will be on TWO of these shows!

On Monday, July 7th, I will be on Star Wars Monthly Monday, along with Dr. Bill Robinson (of Back to the Bins fame) and Scott Ryfun (of Dinner 4 Geeks).

On Monday, July 21st I will be on Comics Monthly Monday, along with Paul Spataro (also of Back to the Bins fame) and Michael Bailey (of just about every other podcast, but mainly Views from the Longbox).

So tune in and find out what all the hype is about.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thor’s Day – Thor #348

Today we’ll be looking back at a classic comic from my collection.

Series: Thor (Volume 1)
Issue: 348
Title:         “The Dark and the Light”
Story & Pencils: Walter Simonson
Inks:          Bob Wiacek
Colors: Christie Scheele
Lettering:         John Workman, Jr.
Editing:         Mark Gruenwald
Editor In Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover: Walter Simonson

We open mere moments after the end of last issue, with Malekith levitating the Casket of Ancient Winters into the air. He is preparing to blast a hole to the mortal world, specifically the Cotswolds of England, and then open the Casket, paving the way for his master, Surtur, to enter Midgard. Roger Willis, the mortal who accompanied Thor to Faerie, is starting to regain his sight after being blasted by Malekith. The Oil of Vision, the only thing that allowed Roger to see the Dark Elves, was wiped away by the spell, so all he can see if Melody (the disguised Lorelei) and the Casket floating in the air. Taking a chance that Malekith is directly below the Casket, Roger fires his pistol and wings the Dark Elf. Wormwood, one of Malekith’s minions, catches the falling Casket before it can shatter and freeze Svartalfheim. While the Dark Elves search for Roger, Thor, along with Algrim the Strong, is falling down a pit toward a pool of magma. Thor calls Mjolnir to him and the hammer rescues him in the nick of time.

Balder, meanwhile, is speaking with the Norns, weavers of the fates of all beings. They lament that he has lost the will to live due to his warrior’s prowess being at odds with his gentle nature. They hand him the only pure white strand on their loom, his own thread of life, and tell him to snap it if he truly wishes to die. Balder hesitates and the thread yanks him into the great tapestry woven from all of the life threads of all of the living beings in the universe. Balder is ensnared by his own life and he is able to see the results, both good and ill, of his actions or inactions. His decisions reverberate and affect all those around him. Not able to stand it anymore, Balder rips free of the tapestry, but this causes it to begin to unravel, dooming reality. Finally realizing that he cannot ignore his responsibilities, Balder seizes his thread, broken in his escape, in order to repair the damage. As soon as he grabs it, though, it becomes the reins of Silverhoof, his horse, and Balder is riding through the great dessert and back toward Asgard. He thinks that it was all a dream until he sees a ring made of pure white thread on his finger, reminding him of the lesson he learned. Balder then comes across Agnar of Vanaheim, who is recovering the sword he lent to Balder last issue. Balder swings Agnar up behind him and the pair ride to Asgard, with Agnar mentally changing his vow from one of revenge to one of homage.

 Back in Faerie, Thor and Roger are reunited and concoct a plan to deal with Malekith. The Dark Elf tracks Roger to the cave with the pit trap, and attributes the godly presence he senses to the death of Thor. He spots a figure and blasts it with a spell to make a mortal a slave, but it’s Thor in Roger’s jacket and hat.  Thor fills the room with continual lightning, preventing Malekith from fleeing into the shadows. Malekith transforms into a huge warrior and battles Thor, but the Thunder God is in no mood to mess around and quickly beats Malekith into unconsciousness.

In Asgard, the Warriors Three are assembling the Host of Asgard and Odin is preparing for the coming battle, but he is fearful that they will be vastly outnumbered. Still, he orders his armor readied.

Thor and Roger make their way to the main chamber, where Melody and the Casket are being guarded by only three guards. These are quickly dispatched and Melody is scooped up into Thor’s arms. Roger is not convinced all is as it seems, however, and throws his empty gun at Melody. It turns out that Wormwood was disguised an Melody and, since Roger couldn’t see anyone, he knew that something was up. Melody is found as the Dark Elves return in force. Thor blasts the ceiling, letting in daylight and driving the enemy back. Malekith, however, has regained consciousness and grabs Roger’s discarded weapon, throwing it at the Casket even though it causes him great pain since it is made of steel. The gun his the Casket, shattering it and releasing the elemental cold contained within. This freezes the sealed gateway before Surtur, which he shatters using the sword, Twilight. Surtur is free and in Midgard.

Where it comes from: This issue advances the Malekith/Surtur story to it’s climax, but that’s not what I want to talk about. What I think is much more interesting is the Balder subplot. In this issue we get probably the best summations of the Heathen mindset that I’ve seen. When Balder is trapped in the tapestry he sees the effects of his life choices. His line is: “For every action I take, I see the spreading consequences, the lives I have saved, the lives I have not. And to my left, where the white skein lies still, I see those people whom I have not touched, whose lives I might have changed but left alone. There, too, I see the consequences, the lives I have not saved, the lives I have! For I am bound within the great weave and everything that I do or do not do echoes throughout the fabric around me!” That, right there, is the mindset of a Heathen. We are the sum total of our lives, all of our decisions, actions, and even inactions are part of who we are, and send ripples out into the world to affect those around us. We are all 100% responsible for our actions and must, therefore, accept any consequences of our decisions. While others affect our lives as we affect theirs, no one else can take responsibilities for our lives. Heavy stuff, I know, but Simonson seems to get it.

Next time we find out how Surtur was sealed away and how Odin lost his brothers.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thor’s Day – Thor #347

Today we’ll be looking back at a classic comic from my collection.

Series:                                  Thor (Volume 1)
Issue:                                    346
Title:                                     “Into the Realm of Faerie!”
Story & Art:                         Walter Simonson
Colors:                                  Christie Scheele
Lettering:                             John Workman, Jr.
Editing:                                 Mark Gruenwald
Editor In Chief:                    Jim Shooter
Cover:                                   Walter Simonson

We open with Roger Willis hiding in the foliage outside of a castle in the Cotswolds of England, where there is an entrance to the realms of Faerie. He is worried that they are making a rash choice, bringing the Casket of Ancient Winters there, and worries that Thor has not been himself since drinking the Golden Mead. It appears that his fears were justified as he is attacked by three armored Dark Elves and seemingly knocked unconscious. When one of them gets close enough, though, Roger elbows him, even though they cannot be seen by mortals, since he has “fought in darker places than this.” All of this serves to distract the Dark Elves so that they don’t notice the approach of Thor, who knocks them all out with a single blow from Mjolnir. This attack is a little too forceful, however, as it breaks the vials of The Oil of Vision, which will help them see their enemies. Thor pours what little remains over Roger’s eyes, since Asgardians can see some of the Dark Elves, even if it is dimly. Once the Oil takes hold, the castle they are outside of now is shown as truly being ruins.
In Asgard, Balder the Brace is fighting a giant Sand Devil to protect a woman, and he is armed only with a stick of wood. He makes good use of his weapon, though, as he shoves it between the beasts armored plates, hurting it and causing Balder to be thrown to the ground. Impressed by his bravery and skill, Agnar of Vanaheim, who has been following Balder in order to kill him, throws his sword into the fray. Balder uses this gift to strike the Sand Devil inside its mouth, the only vulnerable spot, causing it to flee. The woman thanks him for rescuing her and promises a reward. She and Balder disappear, leaving Agnar alone in the dessert.

Back in England, Thor and Roger have entered the castle, which is the outer gate to the realm of Faerie. They head down a staircase and end up in an underground river, where they are attacked by Water Elementals. Thor creates a water spout by swinging Mjolnir and the entire river is transported away, revealing the great gates. Roger asks that they call in some reinforcements, but Thor is driven by the danger that Melodi (really Lorelei in disguise) is in. An army of Dark Elves waits on the other side of the gates, but Thor smashes through the wall next to them, catching the assembled group by surprise. All of this is being watched by Malekith and his lieutenant, Wormwood, who are planning on using Thor’s attraction to Lorelei to finally defeat him.

Somewhere beyond the great dessert, Balder finds himself in the entrance to a large cavern along with the woman he saved. She reveals that she is one of the Norns, the three sisters that control each individual’s fate, be they mortal or immortal. She and her sisters have been waiting “…since the dawn of time to speak to Balder the Brave at this time and place.” We will have to keep waiting, though.

Thor is so focused on finding Melodi that he gets far ahead of Roger, separating them in the battle. Thor enters a chamber and sees Malekith  throw Melodi to the Water Elementals. Roger calls to him that it is just an illusion, and that Thor had transported that danger away, but Thor pays no heed and charges in. He is attacked from behind by Algrim the Strong, a Dark Elf wearing ebony armor so that he could blend into the shadows. Thor is knocked to the ground, Mjolnir flying from his grasp.

Back in Asgard, Odin has summoned The Warriors Three to him. He commands that they gather and order the fighting men of the realm, so that they might resist the coming storm.

Meanwhile, Algrim has picked up Thor, getting ready to pull a Bane on him, when Thor punches him. At this development, Malekith gives the signal to open the pit trap, sending both Thor and Algrim to their deaths. Without any more support, Roger is captured and brought before Malekith, where he is relieved of The
Casket. Malekith then proceeds to shoot an energy beam at Roger, with the intention of blinding him, so that he will never have to see lesser visions than the land of Faerie. Roger flails around, bending over, and the beam hits him in the top of the head, where he has a steel plate. The plan doesn’t work, however, as he is blinded anyway. Malekith then prepares to open the casket while Surtur stands ready at a sealed gateway.

Where it comes from: The idea of there being access to other realms in England is in no way new. As far back as the tales of King Arthur there were instances of knights traveling to “the other side” in various enchanted forests. Cotswolds, England is actually in the Western part of the country, between Buckingham and Gloucester, pretty close to the Welsh border. Picture The Shire from Tolkien’s work and you’ve got the visual.

While the story is pretty straight forward in all aspects, one thing I have never understood was why the castle looks whole to mortals but is really a ruin. I would think that an intact castle would be far more interesting than a ruin, and I would think it would attract that much more attention.

Next time it all comes to a head as Thor and Roger try and prevent Malekith from opening The Casket of Ancient Winters!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Star Blazers

Those of you that know me personally probably already know that I am a HUGE Star Blazers fan, but I didn't know about the more modern versions of the show until recently. In case you're not sure what I'm talking about, here's the original opening to the show that was shown in the US from 1979 to 1984.

Relatively recently, this show has been redone in two forms. In 2010 a live action movie was released in Japan, under the series original name of Space Battleship Yamato. I have seen this twice in the past couple of weeks and I think it's great. They worked in stuff from the series that I never thought they would or could, and any changes to the characters works really well. You can see the entire movie on YouTube with English subtitles.

The other updated version of this is being done by Voyager Entertainment, the company that owns the rights in the US, and they are taking the original series and reanimating it using current techniques. I'm still looking for the episodes, you you can see the trailers and they look stunning.

Time to break out the DVD's and rewatch The Quest for Iscandar.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Opinion on Godzilla 2014

Beware! Here be spoilers!

Sorry, but I can't adequately talk about this movie with spoiling some things, so if you haven't seen this film yet, come back to this post later.

No kidding.

Alright, here we go.

The short version of it is this movie is a throwback to the classic 1960's Godzilla films by Toho. I mean that will all respect and reverence, since I absolutely LOVE those movies. Yes, they are cheesy, but that's part of the fun. While this film is more serious in tone, it still knows where it came from, and that is what makes it cool.

Here is what I liked:

  • Godzilla doesn't appear until late in the movie.
    • While most people find this to be a bad thing, I'm glad that they reigned in the Big G for this. Not only is it more like the original movies, but it builds the tension as to whether he will show up in time. Plus, it gives us that great reveal at the airport, where the camera just keeps going up and you realize just how huge he is.
  • Godzilla is the hero!
    • That's right! The heroic, kick other monsters' asses Godzilla is back! For as long as I can remember, I've thought of Godzilla as a hero. Part of that is from the cartoon, but mostly it is from the movies. It's nice to see him back in that role, since that means I can cheer for him.
  • Godzilla looks and sounds like he should.
    • No, he's not a guy in a suit, but the proportions are such that he could be. There is a weight to Godzilla that makes him believable, and it's still the classic look. Not to mention that the classic roar is there. Subtle, yes, but it's there.
  • Godzilla fights like he should.
    • Yes, this version is more animal like, but he still fights upright, throwing punches and tail whips around. The best one, though, was when the female Muto is on the ground and we get a good, old fashioned Godzilla Neck Stomp!
  • Two words. Radioactive Breath!
    • I nearly jumped up from my seat when I saw this the first time. The tail spikes started to glow and my thought was, "No. They can't be." But they did. They gave me a geekout that I haven't experienced since the end of "Day of the Doctor". (BTW, don't click the link unless you've seen that all the way through.)
  • The family story with Ford
    • This is a nice story arc to the movie, and works to draw the audience in. Bryan Cranston's performance was outstanding, especially in the very beginning. The scenes at the reactor were an unexpected punch in the gut, and he handled those very well.
  • The happy ending
    • Yup, we get a happy ending in a monster movie. Probably very unexpected to those not familiar with old school Godzilla.

And here is what I wasn't too crazy about:
  • The news coverage at the end.
    • While the "King of the Monsters" tag was a nice treat, I do have a problem with everyone in San Francisco thinking of Godzilla as a hero. He did kill a huge bunch of people in Hawaii, and the amount of destruction, while not in the Man of Steel category, is still massive.
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson's portrayal of a military man
    • Don't get me wrong, I think he did a great job as a concerned husband/father/son, I just didn't buy him as military. There was something off about his bearing, especially around superior officers.

Overall, I loved this movie, warts and all. If you are any fan of Godzilla from the olden days, you will be pleased. I just hope the sequel (now green lit) maintains the same feel as this one.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Longbox Project

I wanted to let you all know about something that I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy. It's a website called The Longbox Project and it is devoted to personal stories about comics. Not in a general sense, but specific memories/experiences about particular issues.

Max Delgado, the gentleman who runs the site, was kind enough to post my submission about my first ever comic. Now, while you might know about my connection to The Incredible Hulk #267, you don't know all the details.

There are a lot of stories like mine out there, and Max is always looking for more to post. So check it out, read the stories and you might just be touched enough by the muse to write up something yourself.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sick of my voice yet?

I sure hope not, because I've got 3, Count 'Em 3!, new podcasts for you to listen to starting yours truly. First of all, we have the latest edition of The Hammer Podcasts! in which I talk about my interest in Mythology and Legend. It's a short one this time, since I had a vacation in there but I wanted to get something out.
The Hammer Podcasts - Episode 3 - Mythology

The second one is the Two True Freaks look at Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Join our "all star" round table as we let you know what we thought of the latest, and some would say greatest, Marvel movie.
Two True Freaks Episode 418 - The 5 Minute Freak Winter Soldier Roundtable

Last, and certainly not least, we have my recent guest spot on Converse in the Ninjaverse, where Chris, Mike and I talk about the upcoming summer movies, bash Batman, rag on Revolution, and generally have a good time.
Converse in the Ninjaverse - Episode 79

And, if you're feeling particularly brave, you can watch Converse in the Ninjaverse on YouTube!

But before you watch that video, you have to watch this one. Referenced in the episode and just a sight to behold.

Many thanks to everyone who stooped low enough to have me on their show.

BTW, if you like The Hammer Podcasts!, why not head on over to iTunes and give me a review.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Bane of my Vacation

My family recently got back from our first true family vacation and, since my daughter is 5, we figured that it was a great time to go to Walt Disney World for her first visit. We had a great time and saw everything that we wanted to, some things multiple times. There is one thing that I would change if I could, though, and that would be the strollers.

Here's the thing, my daughter is 5 and she has a hip problem that means one of her feet turns in too much, and she was able to walk everywhere we went. For 10 days at Walt Disney World she walked, usually at a good pace, and was not once carried. However, there were people there that had stroller for kids older/bigger than her. Then there were the people, yes more than one, who had babies that were only a few months old. Can anyone tell me what a baby that young is getting out of WDW?

So I've come up with a handy list of things that you should consider if you are going to any theme park, but mainly Walt Disney World, and have children.

  1. If your child is so young that they cannot walk around the park all day, they are too young to go there. The whole point of going to a park like this with kids is so that they have a good time. If they are that young that they can't walk on their own for an extended period, then they either won't be able to go on a good number of rides, or they simply won't have any idea what is going on.
  2. Strollers, at least from what I have seen in the park, are a hassle. They have to be parked somewhere before you get in line for something, meaning that you're leaving your property out in the open, unguarded. You also can't set them up near the trams in the parking lots, so you have to walk with the kid out a ways anyway.
  3. You don't get to cut in line. Period. Just because you have a stroller doesn't give you a special jump in the wait. You actually have to take longer to get to where your going due to the stroller parking I mentioned above.
  4. Have you ever been walking on a sidewalk behind a group of people who are talking and going so slow that they might as well be stopped? That's what people with strollers are like in these parks. I was in Orlando for two weeks and didn't see anyone pushing a stroller that looked like they had somewhere to go.

Bottom line: Strollers are more of a hassle than they're worth and only serve to annoy EVERYONE ELSE in the park. LEAVE THEM HOME!!!