Saturday, November 29, 2008

Irrelevance (#9)

Black Friday
Not much needs to be said about this that isn't already said, but apparently someone was trampled to death in a Long Island Wal-Mart. Exactly why I hate the holidays.

Portraits As Living Deads
A few weeks ago, I ran across a blog run by a Swiss artist named Frederik Peeters called Portraits As Living Deads. It basically zombifies famous dead people, showing clues as to how they died on their zombie bodies. Some of the best ones are as follows: Writer Ernest Hemingway (killed himself with a shotgun)
Rapper Notorious B.I.G. (shot in the chest a number of times)
Former President John F. Kennedy (shot in the head)Queen singer Freddie Mercury (complications from AIDS)
Peeter's blog is located here. He usually updates once every day, or every other day.

The Batman that never was
Controversial director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, Pi) was originally going to direct a hyper-realistic Batman movie before Batman Begins came out a few years ago. His premise is as follows:

Aronofsky wasn’t interested in making anything that resembled a Batman film that had come before. He also wasn’t interested in hewing close to Miller’s original comics. This film saw Bruce Wayne wandering the streets after the murder of his parents; he’s taken in by an auto mechanic named Big Al (Aronofsky’s version of Alfred). Bruce grows up a borderline psychotic who begins taking violent vengeance on street thugs. He turns an abandoned subway station below Big Al’s auto shop into his version of the Batcave. He puts a bus engine in a black Lincoln Continental as his version of the Batmobile. Over the course of the story he assembles the elements of the costume and persona of Batman (or The Bat-Man, as he’s called).
This Batman is the reality of what a guy in a costume beating up criminals would be like - insane, overdramatic, barely likable.
This is what dreams are made of. The best comics are always the ones that show an alternate reality, or a different telling of a story, so why couldn't that be just as great on the big screen? Hopefully Aronofsky hasn't given up yet. I'd love to see this made.
Here is a list of more movies that were never made, including a Star Trek IV starring Eddie Murphy.

First impressions of Gambit in X-Men Orgins: Wolverine
Meh. Looks like a half-assed Halloween costume to me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone

Will you enjoy your turkey, or will your turkey enjoy you?

Yes, this is a real movie. And yes, I have every intention of tracking it down on DVD.
Have a good holiday everyone.

Movies from my childhood (part 2): The Great Mouse Detective and Cats Don't Dance

In all my life, I've probably seen around 700 movies (this is just a rough estimate, so bear with me here). Out of these, I'd guess that somewhere around 100 of them are animated. And out of those, only about 15 have helped shape my outlook on cinema and life. These few films, no matter how amazingly terrible or terribly amazing they may be, are some of my favorites. There is no denying it. I suppose these posts are my way of "thanking" them. Click here for part 1 and here for part 1.5.

The Great Mouse Detective (1986)When I set out to write these two (well, three) posts, I specifically told myself that I would not include any Disney movies. I am sick and tired of people talking about how flawless their track record has been, and figured I'd give them a break from the stardom by boycotting their movies (at least, for a few blog posts). But while I was writing this, I was reminded of a Disney movie that shaped my childhood like no other Disney movie could have: The Great Mouse Detective.
Loosely based around Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes character and derived from a children's book called Basil of Baker's Street, it follows a mouse detective (shocking), Basil, and his sidekick Dr. Dawson who are trying to figure out why a villain named Ratigan kidnapped a famous robot/toy maker. The toy maker, named Hiram Flaversham, is the father of Olivia Flaversham, who hired Basil to find him.
Sound interesting? It is. Especially for a young child. This movie stands out from the rest of the Disney back catalogue, especially when you are referring to movies made before the 90's. It was...dare I say it?-somewhat adult. Of course you had your children's humor, but something tells me that this movie essentially created the made-for-kids-but-adults-will-enjoy-it-too genre of animated movies that have been especially popular in the last few years. The use of guns, a serious crime (kidnapping a single father, leaving his daughter alone), and killing off characters (not on screen, but still heavily implied) made it feel like Disney was really reaching out. I'm glad they did.
But what's even better, legendary b-movie actor Vincent Price was the voice of Ratigan.

Cats Don't Dance (1997)Though this was released in '97, it wasn't one of my favorites until around 2000, when I was ten. The story follows a young aspiring actor feline named Danny who travels to Hollywood from his small town to try to make it big in the movie business. But after upstaging world-famous actress Darla Dimple (a clear shot at Shirley Temple) while playing a bit part in one of her films, he is told that he'll never be able to work in Hollywood again. His best friend, a short ice delivery penguin named Pudge, convinces him to try again. And so the story begins...
All this, and a love story with a female cat named Sawyer make this a film to be remembered. The musical numbers are amazing, and the animation style still remains fresh and original, even after 11 years. This movie was in the same vein as Rock-A-Doodle, in the sense that I was always humming or singing the songs as an adolescent. I suppose you could even go so far as to say that these two movies (along with a few others, Aladdin and Hercules being included) are the ones that got me into music. I remember having a tape of one of the songs from this movie, with an alternate version on the b-side. I'd put it in my tape deck and switch it around every four minutes, just so I could hear two versions of the same song over and over again. My parents hated it.
Wikipedia tells me that this was one of the last movies to use traditional animation cels. This makes me sad, for some reason.

I decided to save We're Back! for another time. For some reason, I didn't feel like writing about it at all. It'll be in part 3, which should be written before the end of 2008, and include 3 or more movies.

This speaks for itself.

I wonder where this is. I'd love to know.

EDIT: My friend Ashley informs me that it was spoken by a woman named Jenny Holzer, and that it is outside the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Awesome.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Another reason to love Robery Downey Jr.

After his fantastic performances in this year's Iron Man and Tropic Thunder, and such classics as Zodiac and Chaplin (along with the underrated A Scanner Darkly and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) I have recently determined that he is one of my favorite actors. On top of this, he has a lovable personality in real life, as shown in this interview on MTV's website.
Downey specifically talks about Iron Man 2 and the upcoming Avengers movie, both of which he is officially attached to. The most notable quote is this (talking about the Avengers):

“If we don’t get it right it’s really, really going to suck,” said Downey. “It has to be the crowning blow of Marvel’s best and brightest because it’s the hardest thing to get right. It’s tough to spin all the plates for one of these characters."
Thank the fucking heavens that RDJ actually gives a shit about staying true to the source material. After reading this, I have full confidence that Avengers (or at least the Iron Man parts) will be great.
What a cool dude.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Movies from my childhood (part 1.5): Warriors of Virtue

Originally, this was going to be a part of the two "movies from my childhood" posts, but it dragged on and looked like a benign tumor hanging off the end of the second one. So I decided to make it a single post. Think of it as a sort of intermission between the two. Enjoy.

Warriors of Virtue (1997)
Before I get into the finer points of this film about an alternate universe protected by five elemental-powered kung-fu kangaroos, I would like to share an anecdote with you all.
When this movie was released, it was widely talked about at my elementary school. Every kid wanted to see it. I never saw it in theaters (WAY too expensive for my family), but told the other kids I did, only to be asked what it was like and if the kangaroos were real. Bullshitting my way through these questions, I was then hit with a "you didn't see it!" by one of the schoolyard dickweeds. Red-faced and stuttering, I was caught. I didn't know what to do. So I lied again.
Now, I was a compulsive liar at this young age, and had an active imagination, so I would always come up with something that was believable, but only slightly. I told this kid (whose name was Austin, I believe) that my dad had bought me a toy of the coveted fire-powered red kangaroo character after we saw it in theaters. This Austin fellow then asked me to prove it, and being the mini-Marty McFly that I was, I snobbishly stood up to him and told him that I would.
After this, I went home and panicked. I had no idea what to do. Being 7 at the time, I didn't yet get an allowance, and wasn't set to see my dad for another few days. Asking my mom was out of the question, because I didn't want to really really lie (which in the pre-pre-teen mindset is what happens when you fib about who you got a present from). So I called my dad and asked him to get me a Warriors of Virtue toy. I was very specific in my wording, telling him that I wanted the red one and the red one only. He said he'd look and see if he could find one, and that he'd have it by that weekend.
I was relieved. I could easily lie again and again to Austin, telling him that "my mom wouldn't let me" bring the toy, or that "I forgot" for the next few days. Of course, he was skeptical, but I smugly told him that I would have the red kangaroo the following Monday.
Friday rolled around, and I practically tripped over myself running to my dad's car to see my prize. But...something was wrong. Instead of getting the hot-tempered, badass red kangaroo, he instead got me this one:The motherfucking green kangaroo. The old, decrepit "wise one" that doesn't do shit throughout the entire movie, and whose element is "wood." Who the fuck would have thought "wood" was an element? I sure as shit didn't. This was easily the worst character he could have found for me. I would have rather taken the plaid-shirt wearing human protagonist "Ryan" over him. At least Ryan had the whole "central character" thing going for him. But no, he got me the old dude. The mentor. The do-nothing member of the team that only slows them down. I was livid. I couldn't talk. And my dad sat there, smirking, acting like I wouldn't know the difference between the two.
"He's just a dumb kid," he likely thought. "He won't know the difference between red and green." Well guess what? I DID. And when I brought him to school that following Monday to maybe salvage a tiny shred of dignity, I was totally ostracized by everyone that had viewed the previous week's conversation. I was an outcast for the next few weeks.
My dad's mistake (or rather, his ability to assume I was literally retarded) only added to my growing contempt for adults at that point in my life. I'm not going to blame myself and say that I shouldn't have lied, because fuck, every kid lies. No, he shouldn't have been so assuming of my colorblindness and absolute dumbassery.
A few months after this embarassment, this toy (whose movie-name is "Lun") went on to become one of my favorites. I'm not entirely sure why, but he did. I guess I realized that one ass-kicking kangaroo is better than none; even if he is the "smart one with the staff."
This story is why I remember this movie, and have chose to place it amongst these other films in a metaphorical "hall of fame." It taught me a lesson that would later be cemented in by Mick Jagger when I went through my short-lived Rolling Stones phase in 2003:
"You can't always get what you want.
But if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need."
Well said, Mick. Well said.
Anyways, the movie itself is a sack of shit. It is basically a retelling of the early 90's incarcerations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, except it's more fantasy-based and stars the aforementioned five elemental-powered kangaroos that know some sort of karate.
Yeah, it sounds like a bad acid trip. Yeah, the production is terrible. But it taught me a lesson in life. And for that, I'm sort of thankful, I guess.

Mini-movie reviews (#5)

Tropic Thunder (uncut version)Directed by Ben Stiller
Starring Ben Stiller, Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Jay Baruchel, and Brandon T. Jackson
Released in 2008
Rated NR
Good: Amazing cast, amazing story, amazing everything. Downey Jr.'s role as Kirk Lazarus is one of the best supporting roles of the year (after Heath in The Dark Knight). The uncut version is even funnier than the theatrical, with extended scenes and jokes. One of the best of the year, hands down.
Bad: I get the sense that some of the jokes won't stay relevant in the next decade or so, and I'm scared of that.
Rating: 10/10
Note: Some readers may remember Nello and I's Tropic Thunder review from a few months ago, located here.

Charlie Bartlett Directed by Jon Poll
Starring Anton Yelchin, Kat Dennings, Robert Downey Jr., Tyler Hilton, and Hope Davis
Released in 2008
Rated R
Good: Anton Yelchin is a great up-and-coming actor, Kat Dennings is cute, and Downey Jr. plays yet another alchoholic. Hope Davis has a good role as Charlie's drugged-out mother. Decent teen movie with a decent message.
Bad: Is ANYONE'S high school even remotely like that shown in the movie? Please, let me know.
Rating: 6/10

Meet BillDirected by Bernie Goldmann and Melisa Wallack
Starring Aaron Eckhart, Jessica Alba, Elizabeth Banks, and Logan Lerman
Released in 2007
Rated R
Good: Eckhart is lovable, even as an unhappy average joe. He plays this role almost too well.
Bad: Alba seems slightly wasted in this role. I wish I could have seen her more, but that's probably only because she's adorable.
Rating: 8/10

Clerks. (??? viewing)Directed by Kevin Smith
Starring Brian O' Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, and Kevin Smith
Released in 1994
Rated NC-17/R (depending on the market you're in)
Good: Everything.
Bad: Nothing.
Rating: 10/10

Directed by Byron Howard and Chris Williams
Starring John Travolta, Miley Cyrus, Susie Essman, and Mark Walton
Released in 2008
Rated PG
Good: The movie looks and feels amazing. Beautiful animation and character design, and a cute and original story.
Bad: At first, Travolta's voice is a bit unnerving, and it doesn't seem to match the dog. But after a while, you get used to it.
Rating: 7.5/10

Irrelevance (#8)

Ace Ventura Jr.

I think my pre-production prediction was entirely accurate. 'Nuff said.

Penguin books
Penguin books are well known and liked for making editions of books that are fun to look at as well as read. I came across a neat section of their website where you can buy sets of books by the same author with covers by the same artist, so you have the entire set. How neat is that? The coolest one is the sold-out Shepard Fairey (OBEY artist) and George Orwell collaboration, which includes limited edition posters/lithographs of the covers as well:Aren't those just fucking gorgeous? The books themselves are amazing (especially 1984), and the art just makes them awesome-er. I love it when companies go out of their way to make books look cool like that.
Click here to visit the Penguin Sets section of their site. You won't regret it.

Movie posters
I think I'm going to start collecting foreign and US movie posters soon. Obviously, I'll only get ones from movies that I REALLY like (Shaun of the Dead, The Royal Tenenbaums, Fight Club, The Usual Suspects, etc.), or if they are too awesome to pass up. For instance, check out this mind blowing Army of Darkness poster from Japan:
You can't deny that this is quite possibly the coolest poster in existence. It'll be the one that I go for first, before any others. I mean, come on, he's standing on top of soup cans that have his name on them, and the background art is filled with references to the movie. This makes me believe that it is fully possible to print awesome in sheets.
It's apparently really coveted in the "underground poster collecting community." The $150 price tag on eBay tells no lies.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Top 5 underrated supervillains (in no order)

I told you it was coming, and here it is. The top 5 underrated supervillans in Marvel and DC comics. Just like the other post, I've included a bonus character for you all to enjoy. Click here for the first post, on the top 5 underrated superheroes.

Company: Marvel (primarily a Spider-Man foe)
Real name: Quentin Beck, Daniel Berkhart, and Francis Klum
Year introduced: 1964
In comics: Three men have donned the fishbowl-shaped helmet of Mysterio since he was created in '64. None other than Klum have had special abilities (he can teleport like Nightcrawler), but use special effects and illusions to trick their foes into believing things. For instance, Mysterio once tricked Spider-Man into thinking he was six inches tall. Yeah, he's a total badass. And Beck (the original Mysterio) is rumored to be gay.
Other than that, the story behind Mysterio has been an interesting one. To make a long story short, Beck killed himself, was replaced by his friend Berkhart, who was arrested and whose costume was stolen by the Kingpin and sold to Klum, whose actions unknowingly awakened Beck from the dead. And now Beck is back in a purple-and-red costume, with half of his head missing. Confused? Good. That's part of his character.
In media: He's been in nearly every Spider-Man game, and in a few other Marvel titles (such as Ultimate Alliance). He's also been on every single version of any Spider-Man television series ever made.

ZsaszCompany: DC (primarily a Batman foe)
Real name: Victor Zsasz
Year introduced: 1992
In comics: Though he has no superhuman abilities, Victor Zsasz is one fucked up serial killer. He's killed hundreds (possibly thousands) of people, uncaring of their age, sex, social status, or anything else (though he likes killing young women). Having no set method of killing (besides slitting throats), he has evaded Batman several times. A lot of the unsolved murders in Gotham have been attributed to Zsasz, considering these things.
He has made an attempt on Alfred Pennyworth's (Batman's loyal butler) life as well. For every successful murder he commits, Zsasz marks a place on his body with a tally mark. Recently, he's talked about "running out of room."
In media: Zsasz was in Batman Begins, briefly. He was also in the video game adaptation of the movie, and played a bigger role. He's also been in a few other games, most notably the Nintendo DS version of Lego: Batman.

Mister Mxyzptlk (pronounced "Mix-Yez-Pittle-Ick")Company: DC (primarily a Superman foe)
Real name: Unknown
Year introduced: 1944
In comics: An imp from the fifth dimension, Mxyzptlk (AKA "Mxy") is capable of almost anything. His powers are literally limitless, only bound by the edges of his imagination. A good example of exactly how much power he has was illustrated in Superman's famous story arc Emperor Joker, in which the clown prince of evil manages to steal 99% of Mxy's power. After doing so, he essentially unravels space-time as we know it, creating the universe in his own image with the wave of his hand. Mxy, on the other hand, would never do anything evil, claiming that he would "become bored too easily." He basically just likes to screw around with people, and is technically not a "villain." The only way to get him to return back to the fifth dimension is to trick him into saying his name backwards (kltpzyxm).
Also, the "Batman version" of Mxyzptlk is Bat-Mite, a strange, flea-like creature dressed as Batman (who is also from the fifth dimension, seen in the above picture).
In media: He was on the Superman animated show in the 90's, was on the show Lois and Clark (played by Deal or No Deal host Howie Mandel), and was in an episode of Smallville (playing a lame-ass human that could merely influence people around him). He was also considered to be the villain in Superman III.

ScorpionCompany: Marvel (primarily a Spider-Man foe)
Real name: Mac Gargan
Year introduced: 1965
In comics: One of my favorite villains, Mac Gargan is a clinically-insane former private investigator that despises Spider-Man. Originally hired by Jonah Jameson to find out why Peter Parker takes good pictures of Spidey, he became interested in defeating the wall-crawler when he took a serum designed to give the subject powers equal to that of Parker's. This serum also made him completely batshit crazy, as well as granting him superhuman strength, agility, and the ability to stick to most surfaces. His armor has a prehensile tail that has different types of weapons inside of it (bullets, acid, and electricity being the most commonly used).
Since 2005, Mac Gargan has been the new Venom, as seen below:He also recently combined both his Scorpion costume and the Venom symbiote to create the incredibly lame Venorpion:
In media: Like Mysterio, he has appeared in nearly every single Spider-Man game and TV show, as well as Ultimate Alliance.

ArcadeCompany: Marvel (primarily an X-Men foe, though was introduced in a Spider-Man and Captain Britain team-up series)
Real name: Unknown
Year introduced: 1977
In comics: Not superpowered by any means, Arcade is a villain who uses robots and traps of his invention to attempt to kill heroes (and sometimes villains). He has a series of "theme parks" named Murderworld where he forces said heroes and villains to go through a series of tests, in all of which failing means death. He is not unlike Jigsaw from the Saw movies, in the sense that he always has one single way for the person or persons to escape death, usually at a high cost.
In media: He had a central villain role in Ultimate Alliance, as well as appearances in a few other games. He was also re-imagined as a game-obsessed teenager in X-Men: Evolution.
Note: Sorry for the crappy picture, it was the only one I could find.

Bonus villain!
OnomatopoeiaCompany: DC (primarily a Green Arrow foe)
Real name: Unknown
Year introduced: 2002
In comics: Created by Clerks director Kevin Smith, Onomatopoeia is a strange villain with even stranger characteristics. Not much is known about him, except for the fact that he can perfectly imitate sounds (hence his name), rarely speaks, and is a Caucasian male that potentially has superhuman abilities (most likely strength and stamina). He uses guns and other projectile weapons, and targets non-superpowered heroes to kill (hence his fight with the Green Arrow).
He is currently starring in a Batman miniseries titled Cacophony, written by Smith. I haven't picked up any of the issues yet, but I am assured it is good.
In media: None.

Special thanks to Ashley, Ryan, and Vance for helping me with this post.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lunch Bag Art

This is so neat. An unidentified artist draws on his children's usually-plain brown paper lunch bags, takes pictures on them at his lunch break at work, and posts them on his blog (link here). It is also interesting to note that the art gets noticeably better with time. The subjects are far-spanning, from the two seen below and above (Kirby and Turtwig from Pokemon), to Godzilla, to classic characters like Daffy Duck and Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes.

What an awesome dad. Really. I'm sure his kids will look back on this and smile.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Movies from my childhood (part 1): Rock-A-Doodle, Fluke, and The Iron Giant

When I was young, my dad had partial custody of me. I'd go over to his house every other weekend and see him for two hours every Wednesday night. Every weekend I'd spend at his house, we'd go to one of the three supermarkets in the area (either Brookshire's, Tom Thumb, or Kroger) and pick up food and other things for the weekend. This always happened in the three years when I was between the ages of 7 and 10. Being an adolescent meant that I had to get a movie every weekend, no questions asked. These movies ranged from The Indian in the Cupboard to the Garfield animated series (on VHS, of course), but there were always three movies that I'd rent multiple times:

Rock-A-Doodle (1992)
This was my favorite movie, hands down. Released in 1992, it follows an animated rooster dressed like Elvis named Chanticleer as he battles an evil monocled-owl named the Grand Duke (who wants to eat everyone). It's a lot more interesting than that, and includes a live-action opening sequence that morphs to animation, but I'm sure you get the idea. Chanticleer's job in the movie was to wake up the sun with his singing, as shown in this clip:

Basically, the Duke wanted to kidnap or otherwise harm Chanticleer so he couldn't do his job, and it would be night all the time (or something like that, I haven't seen it in years, gimme a break).
I got high off this shit. Seriously, just watching the above video makes me lightheaded and giddy. But what makes this so different from any other animated movie I liked as a child was the fact that there were no toys based on the characters. At all. Actually, I'm not sure if there were, but I definitely didn't see any. I don't even think they had a fast food tie-in to market it. But the fact that I could love a movie so much at this age and not be able to make my own stories involving the characters spoke measures as to how much I liked this film. I even disliked Elvis (and still do), and that opening song still brings a smile to my face.

Fluke (1995)I just watched the second half of this movie last night on STARZ at 1:30 in the morning. Though I'm not entirely sure why a family movie would be playing so damn late at night, it still prompted me to write this post today. It follows Fluke, a golden retriever with the personality and memories of a human. Essentially, Fluke used to be a husband and father in a past life, and begins to remember some details about his family that make him want to find them. Oh, and Samuel L. Jackson is in it, along with Hellboy's Ron Perlman. It's a cute movie, and they didn't attempt to make it terrible by making the animal's mouths move. Taking that into consideration, it was basically Homeward Bound with just the two dogs and a religious undertone. Weird.
It is strikingly similar to Jack Frost (the non-horror one) too, even down to the father's death (dying in a car accident). But Fluke was made first, so I guess Jack Frost ripped it off.

The Iron Giant (1999)I love this movie so much. Directed by Brad Bird (who has now moved on to Pixar and has directed The Incredibles and Ratatouille) and starring Harry Connick Jr. and Jennifer Anniston, it looks and feels way ahead of its time.
Set in 1957, it follows a sci-fi obsessed boy named Hogarth who discovers a giant robot from an alien planet. The robot remembers nothing of his past, and is something of a gentle giant. Hogarth's small town is soon occupied by the US government, specifically by an agent named Kent Mansley. Mansley becomes suspicious of Hogarth, and everything unravels from there.
As a kid, this movie was amongst my favorites. It taught me things about the era and such, rather than dumbing things down for me. Even today, this remains one of my absolute favorite movies. I introduced my brother to it and now he enjoys it as well. It is one of the better-made half-digital, half-drawn animated features, made during a time when animation companies were just beginning to utilize this technology. It is a truly underrated and wonderful movie.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that Vin Diesel voices the robot. So remember, if you need anyone to grunt in to a microphone like a robot, Vin is your man. Figures.

I found The Iron Giant for $5 a few months ago, and nearly shat myself. I must track down these other two on DVD. I have to own them, and relive my childhood. Fluke is on TV all the time for some reason, but I haven't seen hide nor hair of Rock-A-Doodle since the good 'ol days. Next time I go into work though, I'll be sure to rent and write about it (assuming we have it).
If you guys liked this post, let me know. I want to do a second one about We're Back!, Cats Don't Dance, and Warriors of Virtue. But I'll only do it if you guys are interested. Let me know using the ratings system or comments.


On a semi-regular basis, my friends and I come up with words that we believe should be added to the dictionary (or at the very least, Urban Dictionary). One of these words is fuckle. A few weeks ago, Vance said that "fuckle" is the funniest word ever concieved, and just saying or typing it can put you in a fit of laughter. I completely second this sentiment, and am cheered up instantly whenever I hear it.
Though it already has a page on Urban Dictionary, our definition fits the word better, having nothing to do with fucking and cuddling. No, a fuckle to Vance and I is this:

fuckle (adj) -
1. A terrible situation brought on by sexual exploits.
2. When a situation is made worse by sexual misconduct.

"Jim found himself in quite the fuckle after his girlfriend walked in on him having sex with her mother."
"Frank fuckled himself over when he slapped Betty's ass at work on Wednesday."

See? Fuckle can be used in many situations. But always remember that the "horrible situation" HAS to be sexual in nature, even if only slightly.
I hope you all will start using this word regularly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Evil Dead: part 1 of 4: The first movie

This is a new 4-part series of posts about my second-favorite film franchise of all time, Evil Dead. They won't be posted consecutively, but rather over a period of a few weeks.

In all genres of film there is always one series of movies that stand out as the face of said genre. Science fiction has Star Wars. Fantasy has Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter (depending on your age). Action movies have Indiana Jones. But in the small, fantastic genre of "zomcom" movies (a term meaning "zombie comedy") there is only one definitive trilogy:Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series. Like I said above, this trilogy of movies changed the way people looked at zombie films, essentially creating a new genre.
But I'm here to talk about the first movie and the first movie only. In 1980, a fresh-faced 22 year-old actor named Bruce Campbell started shooting a movie with his friend Sam Raimi and Sam's brother Ted.

Premise (click here for the IMDb page)
The film centers around five University of Michigan students that are going to a cabin in the woods for the weekend. As they settle into the abandoned cabin, they start to find things from its previous owner, including an old leather-bound book and tape recorder. Unwisely, the leader of the group, Ashley "Ash" Williams (played by Campbell), decides to play the tape that was left in the recorder, and it begins reciting passages from said book.
The book, covered in human skin, turns out to be the book of the dead; or the only way to bring bodies back to life. After the tape recites some of the verses in the book, an evil spirit in the woods outside starts stirring. Soon, members of their troupe are posessed, maimed, or otherwise hurt. I (obviously) won't spoil it for those of you that haven't seen the movie, but shit goes down, and it has one of the most brutal ending scenes ever.

The Raimi brothers and Campbell put together a short film called Within the Woods to show to potential production agencies. It was shot on 8 MM film and shown to a few, and one picked it up. They were given a few months to record their film, along with a bunch of no-name actors and $120,000. After a year and a half of shooting in the woods of Tennessee, spending $375,000, and replacing every actor on set (besides Campbell, of course), they released their movie. Given an NC-17 rating and banned in many countries, I'm sure they had no idea that the cheap, corny film that they made for fun would soon become a world-famous cult classic.

Fun facts (some found on Wikipedia, some on IMDb, some on Neatorama)
The cabin used in the film was actually an abandoned cabin in the woods, and was burned down shortly after filming. Sam Raimi claims that he did it, whilst Bruce Campbell hasn't said a word. There is a box buried in the vicinity of the burned-down cabin, and is said to contain props and notes from the cast. No one in the production has revealed the former location of the cabin, but Raimi claims fans keep stealing bricks from the old chimney.
-During some of the "possession" scenes, creamed corn dyed green was zombie guts; corn syrup, coffee creamer, and food coloring was blood; 2% milk was "zombie barf," and Alpo dog food was meat and other forms of viscera.
-The car in the movie is Sam Raimi's own, a green 1973 Oldsmobile Delta. He has since incorporated it into every movie he's made.
-The movie is banned to be shown theatrically in Germany, and 16 minutes were cut from it when it was originally released. It was finally released uncut on DVD in 2001, 21 years after it was originally released. It is also one of the first movies to be rated "video nasty" in the UK, and is still banned in over ten countries.
-Since the movie took so long to finish, every actor besides Campbell was bored with the project by the time it was released. They had to hire a bunch of people as stand-in actors for scenes when Ash would be talking to someone whose head or body was still in the shot.
-Stephen King lists Evil Dead as one of his favorite movies of all time, and was a frontrunner in the fight against censoring it in other countries.
-The movie was originally titled The Book of the Dead, but the producer didn't want people to think the movie had any sort of literary value.
-When the tape is being played, "Sam and Rob, Das ist Hikers Dan dee Roadsa" is said. It actually means "Sam and Rob are the hikers on the road" in Latin, referring to the opening scene in which Sam Raimi and producer Robert Tapert are hitchhiking on the road the kids are driving on.

Expect part 2 of these posts (about the sequel) to be posted in a week or two. And don't forget to give me feedback using the check boxes below.

Zune advertisement

No way is this real. No fucking way.
But it had to be posted. It's too interesting, funny, and original. Wait, Microsoft did something original for once? They didn't attempt to swipe back at Apple by using an identical ad campaign? Or recruiting Jerry Seinfeld for some odd reason?
Like I said, too good to be true.

Found on Geekologie.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Irrelevance (#7)

These posts look so bland without a header. Blah.

3-disc DVD's
A few days ago, my manager at Blockbuster and I were talking about DVDs. I brought up that a lot of movies have been getting the "3-disc" treatment lately, and he commented on how pointless he thought it was (essentially). Now, I'm a special features whore as far as DVDs go, but I find my self in agreeance with him.
The DVDs that have been "3-disc'd" as far as I know are Hot Fuzz, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Incredible Hulk, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, WALL-E, and two or three others. Special effects behemoths like Hellboy, WALL-E and Hulk deserve this sort of thing, but do we really need so many special features on Forgetting Sarah Marshall? What could be so great about the production of the movie that warrants 3 whole discs? I don't get it.
Also, did you know that having an apostrophe after CD's is grammatically correct, while having an apostrophe after DVDs isn't? I know the apostrophe is used to discern the letters and such, but you'd think the rule would be the same for both, no?

Ferro Rocher
I LOVE Ferro Rocher chocolates. More than anything. More than Toblerone, even. These creamy, hazelnut-filled, hazelnut-coated treats are fucking delicious. At one point in time, I thought I had developed an allergy to hazelnuts after a bad experience with some Nutella making my throat close up, but I guess that wasn't the culprit. But when I thought it was, I was devastated. These candies are fucking amazing. Get some, especially since candy is so low-priced at the moment. I picked up a 12-pack for $2.50 the other day, compared to the usual $5 price tag. I love economic disasters.
I really, really wonder how they get hazelnuts over every square millimeter of the ball, without having a flattened bottom. I imagine they use some sort of rotating wheel apparatus, with lots of chopped hazelnuts. Probably, since that's how they coat gummi worms in sour stuff.

Who would win in a fight?
Yesterday at work, a few associates and I were making up hypothetical fights between fictional characters. A couple of the matches are as followed (with our consensus in bold):

Batman VS. Wolverine
James Bond VS. John McClain
Dumbledore VS. Gandalf (It was a tie. I think Dumbledore, but I hate LOTR.)

There were about 30 more, but these are the best.
One of the managers, Ryan, then pointed out that Batman could beat anyone, as long as he knew they were coming, and had time to prepare. If they snuck up on him however, it would all depend on the person he was fighting, and what he happened to have in his utility belt that day. If you think about it, EVERYONE has a weakness. He just happens to be creative in his methods of finding it.
You can say it, we are nerds. But proud nerds.

It seems like everywhere I've been looking over the last few days, unintelligence reigns supreme. For instance, I drove by a dentist's office yesterday that is famously closed on Fridays (and says so on the front door), only to see a twentysomething guy standing out front with his shirt pulled up to his mouth, probably attempting to stop his teeth or gums from bleeding. He then proceeded to call what I can only assume to be the very dentist's office he was standing in front of.
Shit like this makes me so sad.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The best of en-tur-tain-munt (part 4)

Well, I've had the blog for 4 1/2 months now, and it's been quite the ride. Another "best of" segment means that I (and my three former writers) have written 200 posts total. Seems like a big number, doesn't it? For 137 days, that isn't all that bad. An average of what, 1.4 posts a day? I'm proud of it. This blog is my child.
Now that I'm getting misty-eyed, let's get into it.

Ongoing series
An exercise in ridiculousness (1) (2)
Irrelevance (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
Mini movie reviews (1) (2) (3) (4)
Ridiculosity: A Lifetime of the Unabashedly Bizarre (1) (2)

Steven Segal's Lightning Bolt: Cherry Charge
Mozzerella Stick & Marinara flavored Pringles
Hungry Howie's Howie Bread
Ol' Glory Energy Drink
"4 Cheese" Doritos

Why I hate mainstream music (rock) (country) (rap)

For the other "best of" segments, click here for number one, here for number two, and here for number three.

Mini movie reviews (#4)

City of EmberDirected by Gil Kenan
Starring Harry Treadaway, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray, and Tim Robbins
Released in 2008
Rated PG
Good: Visually appealing, stayed pretty close to the book (at least, as far as I remember).
Bad: Bill Murray's talent feels wasted. The film feels like it could have been so much better if it tried. There isn't one attractive person in the entire movie.
Rating: 3.5/10

The PromotionDirected by Steve Conrad
Starring Seann William Scott, John C. Reilly, Fred Armisen, Jenna Fischer
Released in 2008
Rated R
Good: The first time since American Pie that Scott has been watchable. Reilly takes a different turn from his usually-retarded roles. Masi Oka and Jason Bateman have funny, tiny roles too. Oh, and the "racist" scene was one of the funniest things I've seen in a while.
Bad: Somewhat predictable storyline, and the reoccurring jokes were a bit overdone.
Rating: 7/10

War, Inc.Directed by Joshua Seftel
Starring John Cusack, Hilary Duff, Marisa Tomei, Joan Cusack, Dan Aykroyd, and Ben Kingsley
Released in 2008
Rated R
Good: I may get made fun of for saying this, but Hilary Duff is fucking sexy. John Cusack is lovable, as always, but feels like he's being held back. I was impressed by the action scenes.
Bad: For having such a star-studded cast, it feels underdone. Also, there wasn't enough of Hilary's perfect abdomen. It was basically a better, slightly smarter version of Idiocracy.
Rating: 5/10

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Top 5 underrated superheroes (in no order)

I know, I know, another post about comics. Sorry if you aren't into them. "Regularly scheduled programming" will continue soon.

In both the Marvel and DC universes, there are hundreds, maybe thousands of superheroes and supervillans. So many, that a lot fall through the cracks. While all of the heroes that I am writing about today are mid to low-level in popularity, I assure you there are a lot more that are out there. Let's get on with it, shall we?
Warning: Some spoilers ahead

Shazam! (formerly Captain Marvel)Company: Fawcett Comics, now DC
Real name: Billy Batson
Year introduced: 1940
Biography: When grade-school aged boy Billy Batson utters the word "Shazam!" he is magically transformed into an adult superhero with a slew of abilities. Having super-strength, stamina, intelligence, speed, courage, and wisdom, he is almost identical to Superman. Which is why DC comics sued his original creators in the 40's and 50's, and now own the rights to him. Anyways, he is definitely one of the more powerful heroes in the DC universe, and held his own in a fight against Superman in '06.
In comics: Although he may not be the most popular hero on the market, DC has been trying to revive interest in him for some time now, most recently with his appearances in Alex Ross' Kingdom Come and Bone creator Jeff Smith's four-part miniseries Shazam! and the Monster Society of Evil (which I recommend you all read).
In media: There have been rumors of a big-screen adaptation for about a year now, with an unnamed actor playing Shazam! and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson playing his villain, Black Adam. He was on Justice League Unlimited once, fighting Superman. He also appears in the new video game "Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe" as a playable character.

Black PantherCompany: Marvel
Real name: T'Challa
Year introduced: 1966
Biography: Once prince and now king of the fictional, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda, the Black Panther has one of the most interesting back stories of any superhero in existence. Having Wolverine-like senses of smell and hearing, a genius level of intelligence, as well as being a perfectly-tuned fighting and gymnastics machine, he is one of the more powerful members of the Avengers. Since 2006, he has been married to the X-Men member Storm, and both replaced Mr. Fantastic and Invisible Woman as members of the Fantastic Four for a short time.
In comics: While most people would view him as a way for Marvel to get black people into comics, I don't. He faces huge problems as a monarch and a superhero, often mistreating one job in favor of the other. He has had several different series named after him over the years, and was the first black superhero to do so. He was part of Marvel's Marvel Knights story arc in 2001.
He also played a huge part in Marvel Zombies, as Giant-Man's source of food, and possible saviour of the human race.
Lately, T'Challa has been chummy with the vampire hunter Blade and the impervious Luke Cage. His newest comic series is very, very good.
In media: Wesley Snipes has been attached to the movie version of the Black Panther since the early 90's, wanting to fill the role as well as direct. Isn't ruining one Marvel superhero enough, Blade?
He was also a playable character in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.

Elongated ManCompany: DC
Real name: Ralph Dibny
Year introduced: 1960
Biography: Ah, Elongated Man. A super-stretchy man who was overshadowed by the likes of Marvel's Mr. Fantastic and DC's Plastic Man. Able to stretch his body to ridiculous lengths, change his shape, and withstand lots of firepower, he is a force to be reckoned with. Good-natured and intelligent, his attitude is a throwback to the Silver Age of comics, when everything was perfect and no superhero had any flaws.
In addition to his powers, he is also an accomplished detective. When he senses something isn't right in a case he is working on, his nose twitches, leading him to investigate further. The only hero in the DC universe with more solved cases than him is Batman.
In comics: Before Identity Crisis, Elongated Man had the world. A perfect home, perfect job, and a bright future. But the brutal murder of his wife, Sue, leaves him broken and brutal, as shown in DC's recent series 52. I won't go into the exact details of the situation, but the events of 52 leave his future unknown.
In media: He's been on the Justice League TV show a few times, being voiced by total badass Jeremy Piven.

Nightwing Company: DC
Real name: Dick Grayson
Year introduced: 1963
Biography: Nightwing is essentially Robin after he stopped being Robin. He doesn't have any superhuman abilities, but is skilled in gymnastics and other fighting techniques. He uses two blue batons to manipulate and fight villains, not unlike Daredevil. He also has an array of batarangs, and is a pessimistic, skilled detective, not unlike Batman.
In comics: He's had his own series for a while, and it isn't bad. Like I said above, he's essentially a Batman Jr. He talks, walks, and acts just like Bruce Wayne, minus the "rich playboy" bit. He plays a central role in The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
In media: He's been on nearly every show associated with Batman: Justice League Unlimited, The Batman, Teen Titans, Batman Beyond, and a few others. In the USA, there are a few rollercoasters named after him at Six Flags parks. He is also a playable character in the Lego Batman video game.

Iron Fist Company: Marvel
Real name: Danny Rand
Year introduced: 1974
Biography: Given mystical powers by a giant, molten heart that he punched, Danny Rand was transformed into the Iron Fist. While his back story is nothing special, Iron Fist himself is. He is a master of martial arts, able to heal others and himself, as well as be impervious to damage (at least, after he activates his powers). He has incredible strength, agility, and strength. But after deactivating his powers, he cannot function normally for a short time afterwards. Essentially, he gets worn out. During Civil War, he donned Daredevil's costume to "prove" to the public that Matt Murdock wasn't the superhero.
In comics: The Immortal Iron Fist, Marvel's ongoing series about the adventures of Danny Rand, is one of the best out there right now. I haven't personally read anything else he's been in, but this definitely sparked my interest.
In media: There is supposed to be an Iron Fist movie released pretty soon, with Ray Park (Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I, Toad in X-Men, Snake-Eyes in the upcoming G.I. Joe movie) as the hero. Rumors say that it will begin shooting in 2009.

Bonus hero!
Squirrel GirlCompany: Marvel
Real name: Doreen Green
Year introduced: 1991
Biography: She's a mutant whose power it is to talk to squirrels. Yep. Her two buddies are Monkey Joe and his successor, Tippy-Toe. I don't think much more needs to be said.
In comics: She infamously defeated Dr. Doom, and went on to defeat a (weakened) Deadpool. Just like that, she kicked the asses of two of my favorite comic book characters. So even if I don't like her for those two reasons, I now have to admit that she's underrated. The bitch.
In media: Nothing, besides a brief cameo on the shitty new Fantastic Four cartoon. Thank the lawd.

Expect a follow-up to this, with the top 5 underrated supervillans, pretty soon.

Will Smith

When I was younger, I was obsessed with Will Smith. Anything this man was in, made, or had anything to do with, I loved. This was during the late 90's, when movies like Independence Day, Men In Black and Wild Wild West dominated the box office (along with any other "awkward white dude, cool black dude" comedies and "man vs. alien" films), and watching reruns of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was actually legitimately cool.
In grade school, I had a Sony Walkman tape player that only played Smith's album Big Willy Style. It wasn't broken, I just didn't want to listen to anything else. And before you make fun of me for listening to that album, I'll have you know that it was number 8 on the Billboard Top 200 after it was released. So I wasn't alone in thinking this album was awesome (though the follow-up, Willenium, left something to be desired). I mean, just look at how awesome Will Smith is:He is the only person that I'd think would be able to punch me through the computer monitor. And that's awesome.
I remember when I was young, I would listen to the song "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It," and think Will was saying:
"only black chicks/rockin' my wick,"
when it was really him saying:
"only mad chicks/ride in my whips."
It struck me as odd, seeing as a wick isn't exactly a penis metaphor I would be dying to use, especially in a rap song. I'm glad I got that cleared up back then, otherwise I'd be asking women to "suck my wick." Sexy, isn't it?
I'm not really sure what point this post has, other than to say that I love Will, and I am/was terrible at comprehending the lyrics of rap songs by people that were in successful 90's sitcoms.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mini movie reviews (#3)

Wristcutters: A Love Story Directed by Goran Dukic
Starring Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Shea Whigam, and Tom Waits
Released in 2006
Rated R
Good: Definitely an interesting and semi-original premise. Patrick Fugit's acting skills have improved since Almost Famous, thankfully. Shannyn Sossamon is perhaps the most gorgeous woman in the entire world. The soundtrack is entirely by Gogol Bordello, and the funniest character (Eugene, masterfully played by Shea Whigam) is based on the lead singer.
Bad: The last 1/3 of the movie is bizarre. A bit too bizarre.
Rating: 8/10

Ghost Town Directed by David Koepp
Starring Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, Tea Leoni
Released in 2008
Rated PG-13
Good: Greg Kinnear is awesome, as always. Tea Leoni is cute, and Gervais is mildly funny (though not at his best).
Bad: The ending was terrible. A barely-above-average romantic comedy. Not much else needs to be said.
Rating: 6/10

Kung Fu Panda (second viewing) Directed by Mark Osborne and John Stevenson
Starring Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, David Cross, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Seth Rogen, Jackie Chan, and Ian McShane
Released in 2oo8
Rated PG
Good: Fantastic voice acting done by all (especially Black and Hoffman). Cute, exaggerated animation. The action scenes are beautifully done.
Bad: Big-name stars like Angelina, Jackie, and Seth don't get nearly enough screen (or "vocal") time. Some of the jokes seem overused in animated children's flicks.
Rating: 7.5/10

Sunday, November 9, 2008

State of the blog: November 9, 2008

I'm not sure how long this will last, but I've decided that this will be my last post on a weekend for a while. Don't worry, the weekdays will have at least one update per day. It turns out that my computer is completely fried, and I need a new one. After that, I'll be out of this strange rut I've been in as of late. I promise.

Thank you all for the good feedback on the "graphic novels" posts. They took ages to put together, write, and publish, so it's good news that you all liked them. I have another one planned, this time for non-superhero graphic novels. It should be posted before the end of November, if things go as planned. I have a few other "big posts" planned as well, so get excited for those.

Speaking of feedback, I've added a neat new Blogger feature that lets you all rate my posts on a scale from 1-5. Of course, 5 is the best, 1 is the worst, 3 means average. This will help me understand what everyone likes, so that I can start taking the blog in that direction.

I have something really interesting planned for the entire month of December. I haven't really worked it all out yet, but I can tell you this: it'll be a massive countdown of the top things of the year. Not good or bad, per se, but just "things." I'm pretty sure I'll try to do one entry for every weekday in December, making it a top 20 list. If anyone can think of a neat title for these posts (and maybe make me a header for it?), that would be great. I want something catchy, like "en-tur-tain-munt's 2008: the year shit went down." Cute, isn't it?

Now, I'm going to be like the MythBusters, and beg you all for ideas. I'm nearing 200 posts, and am getting sort of low on things to write about (that, or my ideas have already been written about, and I don't want to step on the toes of whomever originally wrote whatever it is I want to write about). I have around 30-40 more posts written down, but only add to my list about three times a week. Math geniuses will realize that sooner or later, I'll be shit outta luck. So please, please e-mail me, comment me, call me, send me a letter; ANYTHING, to give me ideas. If I like them, I'll obviously credit you with the idea when I post it.

And finally, I would absolutely love it if someone out there that reads the blog would help me with advertising. I don't care if you buy a billboard on Route 66 or post a single bulletin about it on Myspace, anything goes. I want this child of mine to be as big and bad as it possibly can be, and I need all of your guys' help for that. Thank you.

Oh, and once I start working, I'll be buying a domain name (but still publishing on Blogger). They are only $10 per year, it turns out. Then I might open up a store of some sort for stickers, shirts, and other shit, so you can consumeristically show your love for the little guy. Cool, eh?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Irrelevance (#6)

Someone make me a header for these. Please?

RC Cola About five weeks ago, I was over at Vance's house, chillin' like you know we do, and he asked me if I wanted anything to drink. I asked him what he had, and he replied with the usual "Mountain Dew." But to my surprise, the sentence didn't end there. He tacked on three more words, and those words were "And some RC." I was baffled. Flabbergasted, even. I hadn't seen much of RC since I lived with my dad in a semi-shitty apartment complex. I used to go down to the community pool from the third story, just to enjoy an ice-cold RC. Yep, that's how shitty the apartments were. We didn't have a Coke machine, we had an RC machine. But hey, I wasn't complaining. At least, not until after we moved out of those apartments. Since then, I had only seen RC in shady supermarkets and in soda dispensers, which always seemed to be sold out of this now-rare beverage. I wasn't quite sure why, until I re-tried it those few short weeks ago. RC tastes like TAB, if TAB wasn't absolute shit. It's uncommonly good. Now, it seems that it may have replaced Coke as my carbonated beverage of choice. Since our local store has started selling it (which explained Vance having it), I've been flying through one 12-pack a week. It's that good.

Colored DVD cases
I'm not entirely sure why, but when I buy a movie that has a colored case, I get really excited. It doesn't really matter what color it is, as long as it is something other than the dull, bland black that they usually use. There is just something about looking at all of my DVD's from the top and seeing colored ones randomly sprinkled in. My Edward Scissorhands DVD, for instance, has a silver box. My Death Cab For Cutie documentary has a clear one. It makes me giddy, imagining them right now.
I'm the exact same way with colored vinyl records too. Maybe I don't like the color black. Or maybe not, considering I voted for Obama. Oh, I know! I like things that aren't bland and generic!

Change the name of this shirt, you assholes. I don't want to be thinking of a woman getting her ass kicked every time I see a douchebag in one of these. I suppose it is named after a big part of their clientele, but still. It's offensive, like naming a sports team after a racist term (yeah you, Washington Redskins): you just don't do it. Ever. You don't see me calling a rope a "negrohanger," do you?
But I do have this to say: put any semi-attractive woman in a tank top/wifebeater, and she'll instantly be incredibly sexy. No joke.

en-tur-tain-munt's top ten graphic novels (part 2)

These two posts took forever to write, so please take my advice and read at least one of these books. I don't care if you buy them, steal them, or take them from a library, just read them. A few of them are even loved by people that don't enjoy comics (such as my #1 choice).

#5 - Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America (originally published in 2007)In the aftermath of Civil War, Marvel grew some balls and killed one of the greatest superheroes of all time, Captain America. Widely regarded as the only "no turning back" event after Civil War, it sent a catalyst through the industry, making headlines nationwide. The follow-up to his death is chronicled here, through four different heroes and both Avengers teams. It is essentially Captain America's obituary, with each hero paying respect in their own separate way. My personal favorite part is when Wolverine threatens to kill Iron Man if he finds out that he had anything to do with Cap's assassination. It's gritty, depressing, and it was a fantastic swan song for America's greatest hero.

#4 - Identity Crisis (originally published in 2004)When Elongated Man's wife Sue Dibny is murdered with suspicious burn marks all over her body, the Justice League of America tries to catch her killer. Their first target is Dr. Light, whom it turns out raped Mrs. Dibny a few years previous (on the JLA's own satellite, no less!). The ensuing mess of lies and deceit is one that is one that is already legendary. This is another book that shows the human side of not-so-human characters.
This is exactly what Civil War should have been. A series with two separate sides, a very human-feeling storyline, and fantastic resolution; told over the course of seven issues.

#3 - Spider-Man: Birth of Venom (originally published in 1988)Nothing needs to be said here, other than this: Spider Man 3 got it wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong.

#2 - Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again (originally published in 2001-2002)It was so difficult for me to write about just two Batman books, since there are so many good ones out there, but this one is hands-down the best one. Set in a non-canon Batman universe, it is the sequel to Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (which is also an amazing read). Drawn by the ever-famous Frank Miller (who wrote the Sin City graphic novels), it continues the future he created in the first volume. Bruce Wayne, now pushing 60, teams up with former-Robin-and-now-Catgirl Carrie to take down the president of the United States, Lex Luthor. Containing cameos by DC heavyweights such as Superman, the Flash, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Plastic Man, and Elongated Man, it serves mind-blowing scenario after mind-blowing scenario. I suggest you get both, but this one is better. I'm somewhat alone on this opinion (or so the internet tells me), but like I said, get both.

#1 - Watchmen (originally published in 1986-1987)Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' creation is a modern-day masterpiece. Set in an alternate version of the mid-80's in New York City, a team of disbanded superheroes is brought back together when one of their former members, the Comedian, is murdered. The story then unfolds, when it was revealed that the reason they disbanded a few years previous was because the government wanted to register superheroes (amongst other things), and some disagreed with that (does that sound familiar, Civil War?). As the murder mystery unravels, so do the revelations of the team's past. I'm not going to ruin the flawless ending, but let me just say this: Rorschach, Nite Owl and Doctor Manhattan are some of the most layered superheroes I have ever seen. They are some of my favorites, and they aren't even in the usual DC canon. In my opinion, what makes Watchmen so great is that Moore and Gibbons created six superheroes from scratch, not using any pre-existing ones to build upon. And they mold the characters into seemingly real people, giving them distinct personalities, traits, and mannerisms. All in twelve issues. Some heroes spend decades being molded into what they should be; but Moore is so much different. He's a born storyteller. And this is the greatest story he's ever told. This is not only the best graphic novel of all time, but one of the best books of all time.
The movie adaptation is set to release this upcoming March. It is directed by 300's Zack Snyder.

I know I've left a lot of essentials out, such as the Age of Apocalypse saga, Secret Wars, Infinite Crisis, House of M, 52, and a few others, but I wanted to make this easy-to-swallow, for people that are somewhat into comics, or want to start reading them. Someday I'll write one for the already existing fans, I promise.