Wednesday, June 8, 2016

It's a Wonder Woman Wednesday!

Wonder Woman gets armored up in this month's edition of Wonder Woman Wednesday.
By Darryl Banks
By Jason Metcalf
By Jose Luis Garcia Lopez

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Darro & Moreland bring value to an otherwise weak film

You're Out of Luck (1941)
Starring: Frankie Darro, Mantan Moreland, Richard Bond, Kay Sutton, Tistram Coffin, Janet Shaw, Vicki Lester, Paul Maxy, Alfred Hall, and Willy Castello
Director: Howard Bretherton
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

Friends, co-workers, and brothers-in-slackerhood Frankie and Jeff (Darro and Moreland) become involved in a police investigation of a murder linked to a gambling ring. Will they help Frankie's police detective brother (Bond) solve the case, or will they end up the next victims of the gunmen?

"You're Out of Luck" is a fun little mystery/comedy that is another showcase for the talents of Darro and Moreland. It's not quite as good as "Up in the Air," mostly because the way Frankie and Jeff become involved in the murder investigation, and remain involved, feels forced at every turn. The film is further weakened by the fact the paltry budget is made on shows multiple times on the screen through recycled and thinly disguised sets and cheaply done effects used in place of location shots. There's also the issue that the story feels a bit haphazardly put together and overcrowded with characters--most of whom serve no purpose in the story whatsoever. (Darro's character is given two possible love interests, neither of which do anything for the story nor his love life, and his cop brother's girlfriend likewise does nothing for the story. These characters are so pointless that I don't remember any of their names and I had a hard time telling two of them apart while the film unfolded.)

The film's weaknesses are almost made up for by Moreland having some of the best quips of any of the films he made together with Darro... and by Moreland once again being the smarter of the characters (even if no one ever listens to him). The film is completely carried by the charm of its two leads and the feeling that a true, warm friendship exists between them, and even that barely manages to drag it up to a low 5 rating.

If you're a big fan of Darro & Moreland, "You're Out of Luck" is worth checking out, but it may not be worth going too far out of your way for; look to see if you can find it in a DVD multipack. If you're not familiar with their work, "Up in the Air" is a far better place to start.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Princesses of Mars, Part Twenty

More visions of beauty from the Red Planet...

By Adriano Batista
By Rubismar da Dosta
By Sebastian Grenier
By Dean Kotz

In Memory of Darwyn Cooke

Artist/writer Darwyn Cooke died from lung cancer on May 14, 2016. Highlights of his career, spent mostly on titles from DC Comics, include relaunching Will Eisner's signature creation The Spirit in a monthly series, and the Selina's Big Score graphic novel, one of the best Catwoman stories ever told. Here's a small gallery of his work.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Fantastic Friday!

Once per month, I'm going to be posting portraits of the Fantastic Four until I run out of good ones. (Marvel may have cancelled their series, but they will forever be the First Family of Comics.)

As befitting with a day as dire as Friday the Thirteenth, today's post guest-stars their greatest foe--Doctor Doom! All selections this time out are by John Byrne, who was the main creative talent on one of my favorite periods of the Fantastic Four.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

'Monster Monster' with art by Pablo Marcos
from NUELOW Games

NUELOW Games's Monster, Monster is series of books featuring horror comics illustrated by Pablo Marcos and RPG content for D&D Fifth Edition by Andrew Pavlides. Each book focuses on a different monster, and the main creators are joined by a different "guest star" contributor in each book. This post provides overviews of all three. (I edited all three, so that's partly why I'm plugging them here--yep, there's a little self-promotion action going on. Plus, if you're not familiar with the great Pablo Marcos, any one of the Monster, Monster books is a chance to become so,)

In Monster, Monster: Soul Drinkers, Pablo Marcos brings life to a script by the great Marv Wolfman, who wrote Marvel's legendary Tomb of Dracula series. Andrew Pavlides then used that quirky tale of gothic horror as inspiration for two all-new D&D monsters: The Soul Drinkers, a one-time mortals who traded their humanity for ageless beauty and an eternal hunger for souls; and the Soul Bereft, the twisted, monstrous husks that remain after a soul drinker is done with their victims. Several variants of each type of creature is included, as well as adventure seeds to help GMs include them in campaigns. Here's the first page of Wolfman & Marcos's horror tale as a preview:

Next up, we have Monster, Monster: Werewolves. The story included here--one of a werewolf who ends his childhood tormentors in a brutal fashion under the full moon--was written by Augustine Funnel. Pavlides provides a number of werewolf variants to spice up your horror adventures. Here's the first page of that story.

And, just released this week, there's Monster, Monster: Vampires. This latest entry in the series is bigger than both previous entries combined, with Marcos illustrating two tales from writer Ed Fedory, and Steve Miller (one-time contributor to TSR/Wizards of the Coast's celebrated Ravenloft gothic horror roleplaying game line) joining  Pavlides to provide vampire variants and adventure seeds.

In addition to the powerful artwork by Pablo Marcos, the books feature spot illustrations and pin-ups in the game sections by Robert Martin, Larry Elmore, Ricardo Villamonte, and others. The books are available in electronic format from RPGNow, DriveThruRPG, and DriveThruComics. You can see further previews of each volume at those sites.

Readers familiar with classic horror comics may recognize some of the pages above. The stories included in the Monster, Monster series all originally appeared in magazines published by Skywald during the mid-1970s. Some have undergone a number of editorial changes, however.

Wonder Woman Wednesday!

More portraits of the world's most famous Amazon!
By Jose Luis Garcia Lopez
By Aaron Lopresti
By John Byrne
By James Beaver