Trek 2.0

March 30, 2008

At first I thought the writer’s strike had much to do with the delays of the new, highly anticipated Star Trek movie, originally set for a December release. If you look at this early promotional poster for the film closely, you can clearly make out its original Dec.08 date. However, there’s a lot of 406px-star_trek_poster2.jpginfo on the 11th theatrical Trek movie on the net which confirms the movie was actually pushed back to summer of 2009 by Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot production company (headed by J.J. Abrams who also puts together “Lost” for tv) in order to take advantage of maximum box office potential. After all, Star Trek is up there with Transformers, Batman and other properties with bona fide summer blockbuster potential.

Like I said, there is a lot of info on the web on the new Trek film, so I won’t recap all, but Memory Alpha, the official Trek wiki has a lot of interesting info on casting and behind the scenes info for the discerning Trekker. Since this movie takes place in the past, when the original characters were going to Starfleet Academy, a young James Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy have all been recast. It is no secret that Heroes star Zachary Quinto is set to play Spock, seen here during Comic Con with Leonard Nimoy, but it was interesting to find out an earlier draft of the film which would have followed on the events of Nemesis was scrapped, as was a project which would have featured a progenitor of Kirk named Tiberious Chase during the Earth-Romulan wars as its main character.

spockandquinto.jpgI love Star Trek, I am so glad that Paramount is deciding to breathe new life into this venerable but wonderful sci fi movie franchise and I love the idea of casting young actors to play the iconic members of the Enterprise crew when they were young officers. I read that actor Chirs Pine who is set to play the younger James Kirk was considering taking this role because he was also tapped to play another role. OK I’m sorry but isn’t it a no brainer for any young actor to want to jump at the chance of playing Captain Kirk? I mean, come on! That’s one of the most iconic characters in TV history! You would have to be brain dead to say not to that I think.

The latest Wizard has hazy, sketchy details of the plot since nothing has been officially confirmed, the story may involve a time travel plan by the Klingons to assasinate the young Kirk before he becomes captain of the Enterprise and a constant challenge to their plans of conquest. Didn’t they learn anything when the Borg tried something similar in the best trek movie to date since Wrath of Khan? (that would be 1998’s First Contact)

Can’t believe we have to wait a year to see the finished product but I have no doubt this movie is going to be awesome!


The Kree-Skrull war

March 26, 2008

msmarvel251.jpgSkrulls walk among us. Marvel’s Secret Invasion event is underway and Ms. Marvel plays a major role if the Wizard World panel was to be believed. So far it’s been true, but you have to read this pivotal issue of Ms. Marvel. Or you could just read my review.


A few more pics from WW08

March 20, 2008

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Covering WW2008 and Miss DB

March 19, 2008

wwla08.jpg Well, I made it over to LA over the weekend for the Wizard World convention. It was an odd mix of crowds as I could see people in costumes walking up to the convention along with USC and UCLA fans, because I guess there was some sort of 4 day basketball tournament going on next door at the Staple Center.

marioluigi.jpg This was definately a good mix of panels this year and even though I didn’t meet that robot chick from the Terminator show or Alyssa  Milano, I did take in the Secret Invasion, Spiderman Brand New Day, X-Men and DC Nation panels.

My favorites had to be the DC Nation panel because Dan Didio is always a blast to see. I asked him about the status of Manhunter and he told me that the comic was coming back and Andreyko was still going to write it! I can’t tell you how happy it made me to hear that. didio.jpg

Below’s a picture I had taken of me and Seth Green.

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On Sunday, my latest assigment was of the Miss Diamond Bar beauty pageant. I have covered this contest for the past three years and I secretely was hoping that a young lady named Ashley Rush would win. This is because for all those years, she always came close or ended as runner up so it was nice to see her take the crown finally. Also, she was the only contestant attending Mt.SAC so I have to give my alma matter some props!

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Buffy Season 8 #12

March 13, 2008

148291.jpgI refuse to address the specific scene in this issue which grew out so organically and flawlessly from a perfect narrative in the excellent comic we love known as Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 and add to the worthless rhetoric and cacophony out there of whether the events in this issue constitute yet another “pro-gay” agenda item in the media. I am here to say: they most certainly do not. Not that there would be anything wrong with that.       

Yet, to diminish this piece of well crafted narrative fiction as a publicity stunt (Some have claimed that it was done merely to boost sales, are they high?? have they been reading the same comic? By the way Buffy was doing very well before this thank you very much, cracking the top 10 nearly every month and placing Dark Horse in the stratosphere usually occupied by the big two (Marvel and DC) selling a whopping 120,000 issues a month at last count, would be a gross misinterpretation of facts.       

 I will critically review this issue with the same eye I have been filtering the previous eleven issues of the series, through the eyes of one of its biggest fans and also a lover of the comic book medium.        

Joss Whedon and company are doing something unprecedented here after all, adapting an iconic established franchise into an entirely new medium, and damn if they haven’t done a fantastic job of it thus far. This issue is no exception, I am happy to say, continuing the traditions and conventions established in the Buffyverse since the WB days and expanding on a whole new story arc which encompasses the character growth we have come to expect from a Whedon production while at the same time maintaining its consistency. A new big bad for the season has made his appearance once and for all.        

This issue was written by Drew Goddard, the man behind some of my favorite season seven episodes including the excellent “Conversations with Dead People” and a current executive producer of the TV show “Lost.” Here, it is evident that Goddard understands the dynamic of every former Sunnydale denizen. Witness Xander’s subtle romance with Renee and it’s like watching him pine all over again for Buffy in season one. Xander has grown, he’s more battle tested, but in many ways he’s still that akward social misfit which was so brilliantly portrayed by Nick Brendon and which so seamlessly gets translated onto the color pages here, minus one eye.       

Still not convinced? Witness every priceless scene featuring Andrew, the reoccurring former nerd turned Scooby, especially his reaction to the now infamous scene with Satsu and it’s like we’re smack in the middle of the sixth or seventh season once more and loving every minute of it. There are countless other examples, but that so much delightful dialogue and nuance can be packed in a mere 22 page comic is a testament to the excellence of this comic book and to the fluid continuity Joss and company have built into the characters and the mythical world they inhabit. Like I’ve always said, you don’t have to watch the show to understand or enjoy the comic, but long time viewers and Buffy fans are rewarded by allusions, references and asides that only they will love and chuckle about, and that is part of the beauty of reading this comic.          

Perhaps lost in the hoopla over Satsu is the fact that Buffy continues to be a confident, competent commander. That’s what she was when she became the chosen one and rallied the troops against undead and personal problems alike, and that is what she is today, except now she has a few years of adulthood under her belt to help her sort out some of the madness. Not that she can completely grasp it all, a flawed Buffy is a perfect Buffy and the sooner one understands this oxymoron, the easier it is to grasp her character traits.       

Add another nearly flawless cover by Jun Foster and some arresting and compelling yet familiar interior artwork by the dependable and incomparable Georges Jeanty, that to remember this comic for that single image on the third page (initially shocking as it may have been to some) alone would be as unfair as dismissing the TV show by its silly name. That’s what some clueless people did, the rest of us know better.


Spidey back on saturday morning TV

March 9, 2008

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It was pure serendipity that I caught the premiere of the new Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon on Kids WB. I was getting ready for a late afternoon shift when Nick told me it was on. So I parked myself in front of the boob tube to watch the latest animated incarnation of Spidey before heading off to work.

He’s the latest superhero to get a Saturday Morning upgrade joining Superman and Batman and the Legion of Superheroes and you know what? It doesn’t suck! The animation takes a little getting used to where everyone looks more cartoony than in previous versions but the writing is very good, even if they make adjustments to the classic tales penned by Stan Lee and illustrated by Steve Ditko so long ago.        

Yet, even these changes make sense and go along way in advancing the story. For example, figuring that not many people would enjoy seeing another retelling of Spidey’s origin, instead it is only alluded to as a science trip to Dr. Curt Connor’s lab. Some changes are more drastic: Gwen Stacy is less the glamorous girl and more a geeky peer of Peter and Harry’s group, working along Peter in Connor’s lab. Not sure the change is necessary, other than to highlight how much they are all excluded from Flash Thompson’s clique of insensitive jocks and vapid cheerleaders.        

Others serve to advance the plot, turning Eddie Brock into a lab tech and assistant to Connors while other more familiar elements remain unchanged: Pete’s looking to shooting photos of Spider-Man as a means to supplement his income and Norman Osborn’s strained relationship with his son Harry.       

In the pilot episode we are also introduced to other members of Spidey’s supporting cast: His doting Aunt May who following uncle Ben’s murder is faced with financial problems which she does not share with young Peter Parker. One glaring omission to Spidey’s supporting cast is Mary Jane Watson. Now, Spidey doesn’t meet Mary Jane until later in the narratives, so it could be they are biding their time to introduce her in future episodes, but it could also be a carryover from Joe Quesada and the Marvel brass’ apprehension at the red head’s prior adult connection with Pete which in their view threatens the teen version of Spidey seen in Ultimate Spiderman which led to poor Mary Jane being written out of continuity in the comics. The drastic change in Gwen’s characterization also bodes badly for MJ’s inclusion in the series since it eliminates the love triangle between Peter, MJ and Gwen made famous in the early comics.       

With the exception of the X-Men who were born as mutants, in the 60s when the classic Marvel heroes were created, there was widespread paranoia about radiation and its side-effects. Not surprising for artists who had grown up with the specter of the atomic bomb and the possibility of living in a post atomic fallout. A lot of the heroes were crated through accidents or radiation: Spider-Man, the Hulk, and Daredevil. The same goes for a lot of the webhead’s most famous adversaries and we are treated to one this week: Electro. Adrian Tooms, a.k.a the Vulture also makes an appearance. This was one action packed premiere and I will be looking forward to future installments of this cool new cartoon.


Longest checkmate

March 6, 2008

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I had been looking for a local chess club for so long, I am happy that I finally found one in Glendora! They meet twice a week and are looking to put a team together. However, they also play against each other in a casual atmosphere. My game is pretty rusty so I have to brush up on techniques, but at least I didn’t embarass myself when I played. The first game last week I lost on time, but it was a close game. I won the latest game. We are annotating our games so here is the first part of the game, for those of you who are into that sort of thing and can read chess notation:

Carmona (white)                   Opponent (black)

1.e4          c5

2.Ng3       Nc6

3.g3          Nf6

4.Bg2        Nxe4

5.d3           Nf6

6.Nc3        g6

7.Bg5         Ng4

8. Qe2       e6??  He acknowledged right away this was a terrible move but I almost didn’t see it!

9.Bxd8     Ke8xd8

10.0-0-0  Bh6+

11. Kb1     b6

12.R-e1    Ba6

13.h3        Nf6

14.Ne4     Bg7

15. Nxf6   Bxf6

16. a3       e5

17. Nh4    Nd4

18. c3??  Did I forget to protect the queen? Or was this move anticipating my ending with more material in the middle and end games? the Reply: Nxe2

19. Bxa8  Bxd3+

20. Rxd3   Re8 

white has at least the compensation of a Rook for his lost queen, but since both queens are of the board he can go on to build a crushing material advantage, especially if he gets a passed pawn (which luckily I did)