Thursday, September 14, 2017

Money Makes the World Go 'Round: A Look at CHEAP THRILLS

**The following contains spoilers for the 2014 movie Cheap Thrills.**

Image from Wikimedia Commons
Cheap Thrills is a 2014 horror movie directed by E.L. Katz and written by David Chirchirillo and Trent Haaga. In it, two men Craig (Pat Healy) and Vince (Ethan Embry), are pitted against each other in a series of escalating dares for money funded by a wealthy man and his mysterious, aloof wife (David Koechner and Sara Paxton, respectively).

In researching this movie a little after watching this, I saw this movie billed as a "dark comedy." The Rotten Tomatoes consensus even described it as "darkly hilarious." To be clear, I really liked this movie, but I would not call it "hilarious" at all. It was a mean, brutal, nasty movie. That's not to say the movie is entirely without humor--especially Pat Healy, whose dry reactions to some of the terrible situations he finds himself in resulted in a quick dark chuckle from me. But overall, the tone of the movie struck me as very serious.

The movie offers a pretty solid critique of unregulated capitalism, which is perhaps not the intended message, but when the events of a movie revolve around money and its influence on people's behavior, it's always sort of the subtext. It's an admittedly flawed critique given that this was a commercially released movie subject to the capitalist system--but I digress.

Early on, the movie sets that both men are down on their luck. Craig finds an eviction notice on his door and owes $4500 or he, his wife, and his new baby will be out on the street. We learn that Vince and Craig knew each other in high school and that although Craig comes across as a nebbishy square, he was actually pretty wild back in the day. He's since mellowed dramatically and settled into a relatively normal domestic life. Meanwhile, Vince has fallen into the lucrative job of beating up people that owe money to loan sharks--a job that is both physically dangerous and puts him in danger of running afoul of the law and getting him sent back to prison for a long time.

Vince is kind of a dick. He hasn't seen Craig in five years, and yet feels the best way to greet his old friend is to wrap his arm around Craig's throat and demand money. This isn't a playful light grab either, he really gets in there and works Craig's neck, then laughs and slaps him on the back. Ah, friendship, right?

We can see a breakdown of the promise of capitalism in the trajectory these two men's lives have taken:

Craig has submitted to the capitalist, patriarchal system. He has done everything that should lead to a prosperous life. He's gotten a degree in higher education, but the movie implies that he lost or could never attain a job that fit his degree. Instead, he starts the film working a much humbler job in an auto garage changing oil--a job from which he's laid off at the movie's start due to corporate downsizing. There is no pulling himself up by his bootstraps. His job at the garage wasn't even paying the bills, and with that gone, he is fucked in a very big way, and it was through no fault of his own. Bad luck fucked Craig over.

Meanwhile, Vince is doing okay. He seems to make decent money from his job (beating up poor people), and even offers to help Craig with money, but even he doesn't have $4500 to spare. There's some simmering tension between Craig and Vince in these early interactions, and it gets played out more explicitly later in the film. Vince breaks the rules. He operates outside of the law, and he's a financial success for it, even though he dropped out of high school and never matured out of his wild ways. Meanwhile Craig is drowning, in spite of having done everything he's supposed to do to succeed.

Enter the wealthy Colin and Violet who at first seem friendly and relatively benign. Colin explains that it's Violet's birthday, and he wants to entertain her. His solution is to present an escalating series of dares that each man will complete for cash. There's plenty of examples of this type of guerrilla-style competition in reality TV--such as Cash Cab and Billy on the Street--and of course obvious examples like Fear Factor. Some of the dares are individualized to the specific person, some are more of a competition to see who can complete the dare first.

The dares start harmless--first one to drink this shot gets $25. They quickly become gross if unfortunately common place--Vince and Colin are dared to go up to a waitress and make her angry enough to slap them. Vince proves to be a bit sly and rather than falling into the expected trope of misogyny--the clearly implicitly preferred method by Colin--and just tells her straight up to slap him so he can win the money. Colin later re-establishes patriarchal norms by daring Vince to slap a strippers ass.

Colin's vast amount of money and lack of morals puts him in a position of power. He doesn't honestly care who gets hurt or what trouble is caused as long as he's having fun, and he has enough money to remove any potential obstacles. The first time we see Colin, he's in the bathroom doing cocaine. Later, when the group has begun the dare competition, Colin starts doing cocaine in the open. When a waitress tries to stop him, he pays her several hundred dollars to turn a blind eye--which she does because what waitress would turn down that much money when they typically make less than minimum wage?

Each time that Colin crosses a line and introduces a dare that violates a moral or social rule, there's just enough money to tantalize Craig and Vince to keep playing. Craig is facing imminent homelessness and has to figure out a way to protect his wife and his child. The patriarchal system has a rigidly enforced gender binary system in which men traditionally are the breadwinners and protectors. Failing to provide adequately for your family is not just a problem in all the obvious ways, but demonstrates you are a failure as a Man, and Craig is feeling that pressure to provide. He's been hiding at least some of their financial issues from his wife.

Vince's needs are more self-interested than Crag's since he has no family that we know of that he has to provide for. However, we learn that Vince went to prison at some point, and the prison system is a complex system set up to feed into itself. Once in, it's like being caught in the gravitational pull of a planet--almost impossible to escape. People that go to prison are more likely to go back because 1) the prison system isn't designed to rehabilitate and teach, but rather to punish, and 2) many--really most--employers won't hire criminals, especially felons, which makes finding and maintaining employment next to impossible. All the higher paying jobs have you submit to a criminal background check, and if you fail, you're out of luck, even though ostensibly you have paid your debt to society and should be allowed to reintegrate. Many criminals end up falling back into crime to make money because it's the only way for them to make enough money to be able to live--which is exactly what happened to Vince.

So then Craig and Vince get into a bidding war to the bottom over who will cut off a pinkie.

What the fuck, right? Yeah, this is probably the moment when this movie turns from sinister and uncomfortable to the kind of violent horror you've been expecting.

Colin dares Vince to cut off his pinkie for $25,000. Craig surprises Vince by countering that he'll do it for $20,000. When Vince confronts him about trying--as Vince views it--take money from him, Craig explains that the money he's earned so far will cover his immediate financial issues, but not the actual cause. Getting that much money could provide him time to find another job and build up a buffer rather than desperately flailing from paycheck to paycheck--he was, after all, about to be evicted BEFORE he lost his job.

Eventually, Craig wins the bidding war, cutting his pinkie off for $15,000, and is then dared even more money if he'll eat his finger.

The movie culminates in a winner-take-all scenario when, unbeknownst to each other, they are each dared to kill the other. We aren't aware at first that Craig has been given the same offer--$250,000 to kill his old friend. We only see Colin offer that to Vince. Vince has been set up to be a bastard throughout the movie. He's been in prison. During a breath-holding contest, he punched Craig in the stomach to make him lose. He's the one that cuts Craig's pinkie off, and rather than putting it on ice so Craig can have it re-attached, he throws it aside, which allows a dog he stole earlier in the movie to choke on the finger and die. He's been willing to slap women on the ass, harass people, and he tries to rob Colin and just make off with the money at one point. But at the last minute, even though Vince has been portrayed as the more selfish, crueler, morally weaker one, he can't kill his old friend. It's shocking, then, when Craig turns around and shoots Vince in the head.

Once again demonstrating that there are virtually no obstacles that money can't overcome, Colin calls someone to come clean up his house and dispose of the body. Craig goes home, mutilated, humiliated, but financially secure.

The movie ends in a darkly humorous scene of Craig, bloodied, mangled, and exhausted, trying to comfort his crying baby. His wife comes in, and the final shot is a wide shot of Craig, looking absolutely horrifying, surrounded by the cash he won. The obvious final question is whether it was all worth it? Which is worse--undergoing physical and psychological torture to set yourself up financially, or to lose your home and endanger not just yourself but your wife and child? To add insult to injury, after Craig leaves, Colin gives Violet $20 because even the murder was actually a dare between Colin and Violet. What's more, it isn't even a high wager--only a $20 bet between the two.

The movie is harrowing and sometimes extremely hard to watch. There were parts that made me squirm from discomfort. That said, as a microcosm to play out many of the issues that already plague the workforce and unregulated capitalism as a whole, it was fascinating. There have been lots of movies that have involved people being put in impossible life-or-death situations and being forced to do things that are morally reprehensible or physically unbearable. The Saw series, The Belko Experiment, Circle (2015)--not to be confused with the 2017 Emma Roberts/Tom Hanks movie--and House of 9 are all examples of this type of scenario. But all of those are involve everyone being expected to murder each other on the threat of death. This movie is unique in that Craig and Vince aren't being held under the threat of any violence, mutilation, or death. They are told repeatedly that they can leave any time they want. But if they do...what are they going back to? And they do so with the knowledge that they could have done something to change their circumstances if only they'd stuck it out a little longer.

Every step of the way, the movie's mission statement is "Money makes the world go 'round." The only people able to escape the consequences of their actions are Colin and Violet because they have enough money to throw at any obstacles to make them disappear. Ultimately, everything Vince and Craig endure is just a game to them because when it's over, they go back to being unbelievably wealthy and carefree. The scars, both literal and metaphorical, are born by those that can't buy their way out of trouble and can't turn away from a chance to become even a fraction of what Colin and Violet are, even if it costs them everything in the end.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Let's Talk About Confederate Statues

This is a photo I took of our very own Confederate statue in the middle of downtown Bentonville. A petition is currently being circulated by a local activist group to have this removed--which I have signed, obviously. Arguments for this statue's continued existence are because this guy was an Arkansas governor. If you zoom in on the picture, though, you'll notice that it doesn't say "to the Arkansas Governors." It says "to the Southern Soldiers."

In this post, I want to talk about the current debate in the US about tearing down the monuments to the Confederate States of America that are scattered all over the United States, both in the North and South. Specifically, I want to address the idea that the statues should be left up to remind us of a dark moment in our history that should never be forgotten. The argument goes that these statues are warnings of where we've come from.

This is a load of bullshit, and I would like to demonstrate why. But first, let me address some common myths about the Confederacy. It's not the point of the post, but will help provide context both for these statues as well as how our country views the CSA since the South continues to lie and miseducate about the Civil War.

Why Secede?

First: what was the point of the Confederate States of America?

Many argue that the South attempted to secede over states' rights. Or taxes. Or tariffs.

This is patently not true, but the easiest way to disprove this is to let the Confederates tell you themselves, in their very own Constitution:

“In all such territory the institution of negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress and by the Territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories shall have the right to take to such Territory any slaves lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.” 
“1. The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same.” 
“4. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.”

So, you could make the argument that the Confederates seceded over states' rights. But the question is, what rights? It was the "right" to own slaves. To own people. To brutalize black people and use them for free labor under the threat of violence and death.

Was Slavery On Its Last Legs?

Slavery was almost the entirety of the Southern economy and the threat of emancipation and abolishment terrified them because it would have meant ripping away the very foundation of their economy. But then again...maybe they shouldn't have had slaves in the first place, y'know?

There's also a claim people float that the South was in the process of freeing slaves anyway. James Lowen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me and Sundown Towns--the latter of which I read a few years ago and is FANTASTIC, tackled this myth and the previous in a great article a couple years back:
"Slavery was hardly on its last legs in 1860. That year, the South produced almost 75 percent of all U.S. exports. Slaves were worth more than all the manufacturing companies and railroads in the nation. No elite class in history has ever given up such an immense interest voluntarily. Moreover, Confederates eyed territorial expansion into Mexico and Cuba. Short of war, who would have stopped them -- or forced them to abandon slavery?"

Memories and Stories Cast in Stone

I want to preface this with a note: I am not an art student, nor a historian, nor an art historian, nor an engineer or a graphic designer. I'm just a dude with a blog who lives not far away from his very own Confederate memorial and who has Thoughts.

Carving something into stone (or molding it from brass or bronze) is a very difficult, very permanent process. Historically, statues weren't erected for nonsense. You won't find a statue from ancient Rome of some guy picking his nose. Statues were made to memorialize things of importance--to preserve them and have them last throughout time. Peasants didn't have monuments and statues erected in their honor--king's did.

"King Wenceslas" - Photo  Some rights reserved by Nan Palmero of Flickr
That's not to say that statues and monuments have to be uplifting. Plenty of statues and monuments depict dark, terrible, or scary things. For example, below is an art piece from Switzerland called "The Child Eater Fountain." This is a surprisingly not an uncommon depiction in art, although specifically what this statue is depicting is a bit of a historical mystery. Some theorize it's a depiction of Kronos eating his children, which is what I thought of when I first saw it. Others theorize it's just a depiction of a local ogre-like fairy tale to keep kids in line. Another theory is that it's an anti-semitic sculpture because, sadly, people have been terrible forever.

My point of using this statue (besides that it was easy to find under creative commons license) is that there is no ambiguity: the depicted creature is bad. They're eating babies. Eating babies is never good. The design is very straightforward.

By Andrew Bossi; sculpture by Hans Gieng (de) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons
However, these statues of Confederates soldiers aren't depictions of cartoonish, terrifying, child-eating monsters. The Confederate monuments and statues have a very particular look about them. Namely, they try to mimic the statues and monuments of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and other important historical figures in our country--which themselves are intentionally mimicking the style of ancient Greek and Rome.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, How Many is a Statue?

Let's look at a few pictures for a moment.

  Some rights reserved by Marc Flores on Flickr
This is a statue of George Washington. He was the first president of our country, general of what would become the Army of the United States. He was obviously a very important figure, not just for his leadership in the Revolutionary War and secession from Britain, but also in his leadership of our country for our first eight years.

He even established the tradition of a president stepping down after two terms. 

Fun fact, we call the leader of our Executive Branch "president" because he turned down the idea of calling the position "king" since we had just fought a war to get away from a "King George."

That statue is a fitting tribute to a great man. There's a conversation that can be had about the fact that he owned slaves, as did most of our Founding Fathers, but there's no questioning Washington's legacy and importance in US History.

It's really common to depict kings, soldiers, and generals on horseback--for a lot of reasons. Horses are generally ridden into battle, which makes the rider look like an active leader as well as like a courageous warrior.

Depicting a figure on horseback also makes for a dynamic, interesting statue.

Horses are often considered noble creatures.

And, of course, it makes the person on horseback look taller because they are literally above everyone else.

Below, I placed the statue of George Washington next to a statue of Confederate General "Stonewall" Jackson. Explain to me the difference between the two statues.

Left:   Some rights reserved by Marc Flores on Flickr | Right:  Some rights reserved by rjones0856 on Flickr
How is the statue of Stonewall Jackson on the right depicted any differently than George Washington on the left? If I'm to believe that the Confederate statues are a warning, how is the Jackson statue a warning? In what does it indicate a warning, or any negativity? Both men are sitting atop horses, are placed on pedestals, are sitting up straight, their heads held high, their eyes gazing forward as they survey the horizon.

Let's look at another statue.

Left:  Some rights reserved by Jim of Flickr | Right:  Some rights reserved by Eli Christman of Flickr
Look at these pictures of Robert E. Lee, Commanding General of the Confederate Army. These are different photos of the same statue from different angles. Again, just like in the previous pictures of Washington and Jackson, what is the indication that this is meant to be a warning of some grave past mistake? Lee is portrayed as classically empowered: astride a horse, straight back, head held high. Even his face is carved in a gentle, sensitive manner. He doesn't look evil. He looks thoughtful and kind.

Let's talk about something else: all three of these statues--in fact, many of the Confederate statues --are all literally placed on pedestals. This is a very, very common way to display statues since they are meant to be memorials, after all. It's where the phrase "to put up on a pedestal" comes from in the first place.

But what does that phrase mean, again? According to, it means "to glorify or idealize."

The only types of figures we generally put on pedestals are figures we want to elevate to higher status--both literally and figuratively. For example, look at this statue of Abraham Lincoln from Scotland that commemorates the Scottish soldiers that fought alongside the Union in the Civil War.

 Some rights reserved by Ronnie Macdonald of Flickr
Abraham Lincoln stands nobly at the top of the monument--again, back straight, head high, eyes gazing into the distance. Meanwhile at the BOTTOM OF THE PEDESTAL, a recently freed slave is gazing up at Lincoln in what is supposed to be deference and praise, but honestly looks like suffering and subjugation to me. Either way, it's very clear from the placing of the two figures who has the power and who does not. The placement of those figures is basically symbolism 101.

Compare that Lincoln memorial to this memorial depicting slavery in Zanzibar, Tanzania, Africa.

By David Berkowitz [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Here the slaves are all chained together. They're prisoners both of their chains, and their lack of limbs which could be interpreted as a lack of personhood.

Rather than being placed on a pedestal, these figures have actually been dug into the ground. They have a sort of anti-pedestal going on, reflecting, among other things, their severe lack of power as well as the cellars that they were kept in.

The "Lost Cause" of the Confederacy

All of these myths that continue to be perpetuated about the Civil War--that the North forced the South into conflict, that the South just wanted states' rights, that the war was really about taxes and tariffs, that Robert E. Lee was actually a kind man and not a racist at all, that slaves were actually happy, that a lot of Southern folks fought to defend their land against the cruel war-time tactics of the North--ALL of this stems from a misinformation campaign that began not long after the war ended by the South. The myth of the Lost Cause was an attempt to recast the Confederacy as this scrappy underdog standing against the crushing, unstoppable juggernaut that was the United States Army.

In truth, most of these monuments in the US started going up around the 1900s--just long enough after the war for a lot of people that fought in the war to start dying off and for everyone else to look back on the war with somewhat of a degree of separation. The pain wasn't immediate anymore, the conflict starting to haze with time.

Statues began being erected again in the 1950s and 1960s in reaction to the Civil Rights Movement as an attempt to intimidate the black population into silence rather than speaking out. It's why the arguments around Confederate statues and flags have begun resurging in response to Black Lives Matter and our current political environment, which so conducive to white supremacists.

Perhaps you think that I'm reading too much into these statues, that these statues of Confederate generals in and of themselves are harmless and I'm being too artsy fartsy reading symbolism into someone standing on a pedestal or sitting on a horse. Maybe you maintain that we can just add a plaque that says "actually the South was racist" and completely change the way the statues are perceived.

What about the statues that depict the Confederates as literally blessed by angels and gods?

 Some rights reserved by Spencer Means from Flickr
The above statue is titled "To the Confederate Defenders of Charleston: Fort Sumter, 1861-1865." The statue is described as a Confederate soldier and his wife, but the Confederate has been depicted as a Greek warrior similar to Achilles or Hercules. Meanwhile, his wife is depicted in the style of a Greek goddess, similar to Athena. She's bestowing a blessing on him as he heads into battle to "defend" Fort Sumter from the Union.

So, now the Confederates are literally being placed on the level of Greek heroes and their cause was blessed by the gods.

 Some rights reserved by Ron Cogswell from Flickr

Above we have a statue that depicts a fallen Confederate soldier from Louisiana. He has been wrapped in the Confederate flag, and a literal angel--"the Spirit of the Confederacy"--flies above the fallen soldier, sounding its horn to honor his sacrifice.

Like...I mean...c'mon, y'all.

But What About Our History???

So we have soldiers that fought AGAINST the United States and FOR slavery being depicted as Greek heroes and blessed by divine beings, meanwhile, slave rebellions in the US are memorialized like this:

Photos by Mike Stroud, November 15, 2008 from the Historical Marker Database
This is a single sign in an empty field that commemorates an attempted uprising by our enslaved people. Why are we not valorizing these fallen heroes and other important black heroes? Why are town squares not built around Martin Luther King, Jr, or Malcolm X, or Harriet Tubman? Why instead are they built around literal traitors to the United States.

Hey, maybe build a monuments to people like Erastus Hussey, who was an abolitionist, one of the founders of the Republican Party (before the parties' beliefs flip-flopped), and someone that helped slaves escape through the Underground Railroad.

Look at how awesome this statue below is! Erastus and Harriet Tubman are sneaking people into his store to keep them safe. THOSE are heroes. THOSE are people this country should be proud of. THOSE are people worth having town squares built around.

And for the record, the figures below are valorized using the the same rules as the Confederates statues I showed above. Harriet Tubman and Erastus Hussey are both standing tall, heads high, staring into the distance, shielding the slaves huddled in the back while they scramble to safety. But notice that this statue isn't placed on a pedestal like the ones above. Interesting...isn't it?

 Some rights reserved by Battle Creek CVB from Flickr
In summation, slavery is America's original sin. It is the cancer that we never fully dealt with. From almost the moment that the Civil War ended, white supremacists have been spreading misinformation to muddy the facts about the war and to misrepresent why we fought. Erecting monuments to the Confederacy honors people that were traitors to the US, who defected for a racist, brutal, horrifying system.

Attempting to argue that statues of the Confederacy are a warning is disingenuous, at best, as everything about the design of these statues valorizes them and promotes the depicted individuals into near godhood. A simple plaque stating "actually, they were bad" would not be enough as the entire design would contradict th plaque. It would be the weakest Band-Aid to stick on the problem without actually dealing with the issue...which is the problem the US has had all along: not actually dealing with the problem of racism and slavery in a meaningful way.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Millennials Didn't Create Superhero Movies

I had a bit of a rant tonight on Twitter about superhero movies after some guy 1) said superhero movies ruined Hollywood, and 2) that it was somehow millennials fault.

I decided to make that thread into a Twitter Moment because I've never made one before, and I've always wanted to go one one of those really cool multi-tweet thread things with the links and the "I have something to say."

Please enjoy below. (I've never made one of these, nor have I ever embedded one before, so I have no idea how it'll look.)

Monday, June 12, 2017

RIP Adam West: September 19, 1928 - June 9, 2017

Adam West passed away of leukemia a few days ago, and I am very sad about it.

I have extremely fond memories of Adam West as Batman from when I was a kid. I used to watch Batman when I was a kid. We loved it. When I went as Batman for Halloween when I was four or five, the costume was partially inspired by Adam West's Batman (also Michael Keaton's Batman as Batman Returns had come out just a year or so before).

I used to play Batman in front of the TV, and I have watched the 1966 movie more times than I can count. Eventually, it was basically impossible to adjust the tracking enough to make the movie watchable because we'd worn the magnetic tape out.

There is a certain segment of nerd--usually white men--that don't like the 60's take on Batman because it was silly. It was campy. They felt it was mocking this beloved character. To be fair, it kind of was, but it was a loving mockery and a daring experiment since comic books were considered children's stuff--this was long before comics became Things For Adults and Collectibles. And because white guys can't abide even an ounce of ribbing or mockery without shitting themselves in the cereal aisle, they turned as hard and as far from West's Batman as they could.

While this this led to some fantastic Batman stories--Scott Snyder and Tom King's recent runs on Batman in the comics, Nolan's Batman films, and Batman: The Animated Series--too often, Batman was turned Batman into a cruel sociopath--someone who wasn't so much trying to save a city as much as break anybody that dared step out of line. A fascist in a bat costume. Look no further than Frank Miller's take on Batman, especially The Dark Knight Strikes Again and All-Star Batman and Robin (which generated the infamous "Goddamned Batman" meme).

Pictured: the Batman people want...I guess???

Other people have written better, more eloquent or personal things. I highly recommend Glen Weldon's essay on Adam West on NPR. But I would like to take a moment to express that Adam West is one of, if not the, best Batman.

The show was cheesy, but West's performance was 100% serious. That's what made it work. To West's Batman, there is nothing more serious than trying to figure out how a raven is like a writing desk, or making sure that Robin buckles up in the Batmobile because safety first. This was treated with similar gravity as the Penguin surreptitiously buying nuclear submarine secrets from the US government.

Batman's gadgets were sort of wacky, but they demonstrated how clever West's Batman was. He developed these things to peacefully resolve conflicts. He didn't break bad guy's fingers. He tried to outwit them. Of course, there were always punching matches, but it wasn't Batman stomping on someone's skull after breaking through a skylight. West's Batman knocked the bad guys out and took them to the police. West's Batman would give bad guys a stern talking to and try to convince them to turn their life around rather than branding those bad guys with a Bat-Symbol and sending them to their inevitable death in prison.

To me, the best exemplification of West's Batman is from the 1966 movie. Batman has a giant, cartoonish bomb he needs to dispose of, but he's on a crowded boardwalk. If he tries to just throw it away somewhere, someone could get hurt. This scene, while comical, shows just how much this Batman cares. He steers the bomb away from nuns, from children, and when he tries to dispose of the bomb in a lake, he even abandons that plan when he sees a family of duckies. This Batman so values life that he wants to safe EVERYONE--including the animals.

West's show was silly, but sincere. It embraced the roots of comics--that they are stories for children, and they're meant to be fun. And West himself loved this character so much, he basically never stopped playing him. That, to me, is wonderful. Whether he's playing the Grey Ghost--the inspiration for Kevin Conroy's Batman in TAS, or clever references like playing the mayor of Gotham in The Batman from the 2000's, or even parodies of himself like Catman and the Fearless Ferret in the Fairly Odd Parents and Kim Possible respectively, he always appreciated his fans and his legacy.

Please enjoy this musical tribute to Adam West. And maybe check out his old show if you haven't. Or the fantastic Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders which just came out last year.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

My Comics Project Update: April and May 2017

As part of my on-going comics project, I update monthly with what comics I bought and anything weird or interesting I stumbled across. Each post will have a running list, and I'll update with the new titles and where they fall chronologically.

I came up with the order of the books from this comment of all the Batman trades in chronological order (up to Flashpoint), this trade reading order list for Superman, and this one for Batman. I judged the rest for myself based on release dates and what the story depicted.

I want this list functional and readable, so I didn't focus on perfect chronological order. I tried to keep decent chunks of individual runs together where possible, then backtrack chronologically if necessary for a chunk of a different title--except in cases where something important was introduced, like a character dying, coming back to life, etc.

Below you'll see the list of canon DC titles that I own at this point. The ones in bold are the ones that I got this month.

  1. Blue Beetle: The Charlton Files
  2. Crisis On Infinite Earths
  3. Batman: Dark Victory
  4. Batman: The Killing Joke, Deluxe Edition
  5. Justice League International, Vol. 1
  6. Justice League International, Vol. 2
  7. Justice League International, Vol. 3
  8. Justice League International, Vol. 4
  9. The Death of Superman
  10. Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1
  11. Impulse: Reckless Youth
  12. Justice League: A League of One
  13. JLA Titans: Technis Imperative
  14. Young Justice: A League of Their Own
  15. Birds of Prey, Vol. 1: Of Like Minds
  16. Birds of Prey, Vol. 2: Sensei & Stude​nt
  17. Superman/Batman Vol. 1: Public Enemies
  18. Superman/Batman Vol. 2: Supergirl
  19. JLA: The Hypothetical Woman
  20. Teen Titans Vol. 1: A Kid's Game
  21. Teen Titans Vol. 2: Family Lost
  22. Teen Titans Vol. 3: Beast Boys and Girls
  23. Teen Titans Vol. 4: The Future is Now
  24. Teen Titans/Outside​rs: The Insiders
  25. Teen Titans: The Death and Return of Donna Troy
  26. The OMAC Project (Countdown to Infinite Crisis)
  27. Infinite Crisis
  28. Teen Titans Vol. 5: Life and Death
  29. Supergirl Vol. 1
  30. Batman: Face the Face by James Robinson
  31. Teen Titans, Vol. 6: Titans Around the World
  32. Teen Titans, Vol. 7: Titans East
  33. Superman: Up, Up, and Away!
  34. Superman: Back in Action
  35. Superman: Last Son of Krypton
  36. Superman: Camelot Falls, Vol. 1
  37. Superman: Camelot Falls (Vol. 2)
  38. Superman: The Third Kryptonian
  39. Superman: Redemption
  40. Superman: Escape from Bizarro World
  41. Superman: Shadows Linger
  42. Blue Beetle (Book 1): Shellshocked
  43. Blue Beetle (Book 2): Road Trip
  44. Blue Beetle (Book 3): Reach for the Stars
  45. Teen Titans, Vol. 8: Titans of Tomorrow
  46. Blue Beetle (Book 4): Endgame
  47. Blue Beetle (Book 5): Boundaries
  48. Blue Beetle (Book 6): Black and Blue
  49. Batman: Batman and Son
  50. Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul
  51. Batman R.I.P.
  52. Final Crisis (New Edition)
  53. Batman: Battle for the Cowl
  54. Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds
  55. Teen Titans, Vol. 9: On the Clock
  56. Teen Titans Spotlight: Raven
  57. Wonder Woman: The Circle
  58. Time Masters: Vanishing Point
  59. Superman: Action Comics, Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel
  60. Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin (The New 52)
  61. Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls
  62. Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls
  63. Batgirl Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection (The New 52)
  64. Batgirl Vol. 2: Knightfall Descends
  65. Batwing Vol. 1: The Lost Kingdom
  66. Justice League Vol. 2: The Villain's Journey
  67. Justice League International Vol. 1: The Signal Masters
  68. Aquaman Vol. 1: The Trench (The New 52)
  69. Aquaman Vol. 2: The Others (The New 52)
  70. Aquaman Vol. 3: Throne of Atlantis (The New 52)
  71. Batman Vol. 3: Death of the Family
  72. Batgirl Vol. 3: Death of the Family
  73. The Movement Vol. 1: Class Warfare (The New 52)
  74. Justice League United Vol. 1: Justice League Canada
  75. Justice League United Vol. 2: The Infinitus Saga
  76. Batgirl Vol. 4: Wanted (The New 52)
  77. Secret Six Vol. 1: Friends in Low Places
  78. Bizarro
  79. Cyborg Vol. 1: Unplugged

Well, it's been a moment since I've updated about comics, right?

Seriously, though, May was a crazy busy month. I actually don't think I bought any comics at all that month because we were saving our money for going to a convention in Kansas City to see my friend, Brooke Johnson, author of steampunky goodness.

With that said, as you can see, my books were mostly pretty straightforward. I continued collecting Teen Titans, the Batman stuff that leads into GraysonBat (BatDick?), and, of course, Blue Beetle.

The two biggest surprise twists for me were actually both birthday gifts. I turned 28 April 1st, and my at almost 30, the best thing to get me is still funny books apparently. I'm fine with this, to be clear.

My mom got me volume 2 of Gail Simone's Birds of Prey series, which I am all about. Gail Simone in general has never disappointed me, but that Birds of Prey series is fantastic. I miss Oracle. Gail did a great run on Batgirl that explored her post-chair life, but the fact it was undone at all still sits poorly with me.

The other super cool thing is actually a reprinting of all of the original Charleton Comics Blue Beetle issues. This means I now have comics that feature all 3 iterations of the Blue Beetle. This volume is basically the entirety of Dan Garrett's time as the Beetle. It's not all that important to reading and enjoying most of Ted Kord's time as BB, but when Jaime Reyes takes over, there's much more emphasis on legacy and the idea of handing down a superhero identity through the generations, so actually having, in print, the adventures they're's difficult to describe how cool that is.

This book is actually scans of the comics pages themselves (sans ads), so it's interesting to see the creases and folds from the old issues. I'm so glad I got it, though. It's not something I'll likely sit down and get super invested in since comics from those days were a bit doofier and disposable, but I'm so glad to have it, all the same.

My comic buying has slowed way down as money is needed for more important things, and I've gotten back into writing mode as I work on draft 3 of my novel codenamed "Werewolf Bar Mitzvah: Spooky! Scary!," but I've purchased a few things so far. Since coming out as bi, I've really been seeking out portrayals of bi and gay men in superhero comics. There's very few, but the ones that are there interest me. So I'll likely continue that. I'm also keen to start digging into Rebirth. I wanted to get some of the preliminary stuff first, but I don't think I'll be able to resist. It almost all looks good.

If you have any thoughts about, drop me a line in the comments. Want to discuss books I've recently purchased or read? Any suggestions for books I missed? Just please, no spoilers.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Coming Out

Photo from Peter Salanki from Flickr  Some rights reserved
I am bisexual.

Typing out that sentence, those three simple words, makes my palms sweat. The idea of posting this makes my heart hammer against my rib cage. It's weird seeing it typed out. It's scary. By 28 years old, I thought I had a decent understanding of who I was.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not ashamed of who I am. But flatly stating it, coming to terms with this new dimension of myself--or rather, embracing the part of me I've been pointedly ignoring--is dizzying. It's like realizing you have an extra appendage nobody ever bothered mentioning. All you can do is stare at it and wonder, "how the fuck did I not see this before?"

Looking back, there were guys in school that I interested in. But, of course, I told myself that didn't mean anything. I'd had girlfriends. I was attracted to those girls. So there was no way I could be gay. I just found some guys very interesting, that's all. He's just really nice, or really cool, or really confident. Just a healthy admiration of a fellow guy. Totally not a crush, though.

In high school and college, I found myself low key seeking out portrayals of queerness, especially gay men. Rent; The Bermudez Triangle; Rocky Horror Picture Show; Spring Awakening; Will Grayson, Will Grayson; Boy Meets Boy--these were all stories I sought out and consumed greedily if bashfully. Sometimes, I wondered why those narratives seemed to strike such a chord with me, to speak to me so directly. I wasn't gay, so why was I so affected by these portrayals? I decided I was just especially empathetic. More woke than the average straight man. That's all.

Except for living vicariously through movies and books, I pushed that part of me as far away as possible. I had a handful of semi-romantic, kinda girlfriends and more than a few one-sided crushes. Then, I met the woman who would become my wife. She was funny. She was smart. She had a quick, sharp wit like no one I had ever met. She rocked my world. We dated for about a year before we got married. After that, I figured whatever feelings I had was a moot point. After all, I certainly wasn't going to be seeking out other romantic encounters.

Still, those feelings never went away. Sometimes that made me feel really guilty, like I'd somehow tricked my wife into marrying me by lying. I would catch myself staring at Chris Evans and Idris Elba, but I told myself I was just very comfortable with my heterosexuality and that's why I could appreciate--objectively--another man's handsomeness.

I couldn't tell you what specifically made me start to put a finer point on things. I mean, watching Chris Evans rip a log in half in Avengers: Age of Ultron certainly made things harder to ignore, but I was too afraid to put a label on those feelings, even just for myself. I started testing the waters, talking about male attractiveness a little more openly to see how my friends and family would react. I always kept a shrug and a wry smile at the ready to easily deflect in case I met any pushback. "Hey. Objectively, Hugh Jackman is a handsome son of a bitch. You can't argue with that. That's just facts."

Gif from Jeanette Grey's Tumblr
If anyone suspected anything, they never said, but I doubt it was even noticeable. Still, it felt like I was taking this huge risk by putting myself out there even just that little bit.

Once I did admit things to myself, I thought that might be enough. But it still felt like I was lying--to myself, to my wife, to my friends. It took me a week of failed starts and stops to finally come out to my wife. I wasn't sure how to bring it up. Do I mention it off-handedly? Do I sit her down so she can ask any follow-up questions she might have? Maybe I should write her a note and leave it on her pillow so I could get a decent head start in case she decided she wanted nothing more to do with me. Every time I would start to bring it up, my heart would start pounding, my breath would grow short, and I would chicken out.

Finally confessing to my wife that I was attracted to women and men was one of the scariest moments of my life. A thousand worries rushed through my mind. How would this change our relationship? How would it change how she looks at me? Would she still find me attractive? Would she become jealous or suspicious every time I talked to another guy? Would she dismiss me, tell me it was just a phase or that I was just watching too much Rantasmo on YouTube?

I shouldn't have been worried. This is, after all, the person I married, the person I love more than anyone in the world. She was completely supportive of the news and has since been helping me look for pride merch and portrayals of bi and gay men so that I can better understand myself and what this all means.

In a way, it's like looking at the world through new eyes. I saw a post on my Facebook Timehop recently from the day gay marriage was legalized in the United States and Arkansas. When I read that post now, I know the B in LGBT+ stands for me. It feels good to finally be able to say it:

I am bisexual.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Become a Pod Person

Photo by Derrick Tyson of Flickr. 
Lately, when I haven't been listening to audiobooks at work, I've been listening to podcasts.

Additionally, I've been really into horror stuff--stories, books, movies. I think it's because things have been so politically bad, a word where plants will dig their way under your skin and slowly devour you from the inside seems far better than a world in which 45 is president. So here's my podcast suggestions--horror edition.

1. Pseudopod

This is an obvious one, and I've mentioned it before. Pseudopod is one branch of Escape Artists, which is a multi-professionally-paying publication group run and owned by Alastair Stuart--who is a great guy and very cool. Pseudopod is their short horror fiction podcast series. Each week, episodes clocking in around 30-45 minutes long are published, read by some amazing talent. The episodes change in genre weekly, so there's always something different on there. If you're not feeling a story one week, you can always come back next week for a fresh offering, and since the show has been on for a decade or so, there's TONS of back episodes to listen to. Highly recommended. I always recommend episode 433, "20 Simple Steps to Ventriloquism."

2. Welcome to Night Vale

Another obvious one I've mentioned before. I imagine some would possibly argue that Night Vale isn't horror because it's not exactly extreme. No swearing (except occasionally in the songs they play during the weather), and no gore or anything graphic. Just eerie, odd, and quirky. But the show runs a fascinating gambit of episodes from the entertainingly quirky, to the eerie and unnerving, to the tragic.

If you don't know the pitch, it's essentially NPR if it were set in Stephen King's Maine. (It's literally set I believe somewhere in Nevada, but you get the idea.)

While the show has a loose ongoing story line, you can easily pick almost any episode to start listening and you'll eventually catch on. Seriously, jumping into episode one is just as bizarre and humorously odd as jumping into episode 25. They provide plenty of context clues and explanation in each episode so you know who people are. You may miss out on some of the character growth and change, but sometimes the show fucks with you in that regard anyway--for example, they released an epilogue episode that followed up on the events of their book that had not even come out yet, with lots of "Well, I don't have to explain that, do I? You were all there. You all know what I'm referring to."

3. Shock Waves (The Deep End of Horror--Better Than Sex)

The next two I have aren't horror fiction, but rather focus on horror movies. Shock Waves is the reboot of a podcast formerly known as "Killer POV." I'm not sure why the old one went under and why they relaunched with a new name--I haven't gone back and listened to the old show--but I can highly, HIGHLY recommend Shock Waves.

The show is hosted by Rob Galluzzo (Senior Editor of, Elric Kane (This Week In Horror and Inside Horror), and Rebekah McKendry (Editor In Chief of I really appreciate Rebekah's presence on the show. It really helps break up the cast having a woman to contribute her perspective on the horror industry. Otherwise, it would just be three dudes, and that's just not as interesting--we tend to overrun the genre.

Most episodes follow a similar structure: they talk about what horror movies they watched last week (or sometimes expand to what horror related things they've done--such as festivals, special projects, etc.), then they go over to Ryan Turek (Blumhouse Director of Development ) for a segment called "Pick of the Week." He usually picks a neglected or little known horror movie, but sometimes recommends horror soundtracks, too. And then they delve into a long interview with someone from the horror industry.

My favorite episodes I've listened to so far are episode 2, in which they interview some folks from Scream Factory and we learn the fascinating ins and outs of film rights for distribution (it doesn't sound interesting, but trust me, IT IS!!!), episode 4, which features an interview with possibly my favorite modern horror director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush), episode 7, in which they interview the Soska Sisters (directors of American Mary and hosts of Hellevator), and episode 14, in which they interview the writers behind The Final Girls and we get to hear what the horror genre means to two gay men--a perspective often lacking in the discussion.

Seriously, I love this show, and it comes out weekly, so you have PLENTY of content.

4. The Faculty of Horror

While Shock Waves is great for a horror industry look, sometimes their discussion is a bit surface level. If you want a show that digs down into the symbolism of a movie, the history of those symbols, and the context in which the movies were released, then The Faculty of Horror is the show for you. And best of all, they frequently approach their film discussions with a feminist angle, which is extremely welcome.

The show is hosted by Andrea Subissati, the Executive Editor of Rue Morgue magazine and host of a great YouTube channel (The Batcave), and Alexandra West, author of Films of New French Extremity: Visceral Horror and National Identity (totally added that to my Amazon wishlist). Together, they really dig into what makes a horror movie tick. While some episodes focus on one movie and its impact, most of the time they take on two movies that share a common theme.

Their episode on The Blair Witch Project gave me a new appreciation for the movie, and since they're Canadian, their look at Pontypool revealed aspects of the film of which I was completely ignorant. A couple more episodes I highly recommend: episode 19 on eating disorders in Drag Me to Hell and Black Swan, and episode 36 on motherhood in Goodnight, Mommy and The Babadook.

I actually found this podcast because they guest hosted an episode of Pseudopod (see? Bringing it all back around, eh? Eh??) and loved their academic approach to analyzing the story after we heard it. Honestly, I WISH there were a Faculty of Horror style podcast about horror literature because I would be so fucking there.

Check out these podcasts, I think you'll like what you hear.

If someone has any suggestions for podcasts hosted by LGBT+ folks or hosted by people of color, please let me know. I follow the Graveyard Shift Sisters blog, but sadly, they don't have a podcast. I would love a Shock Waves or Faculty of Horror style podcast that focused specifically on the queer and/or people of color perspective.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

My Comics Project Update: March 2017

As part of my on-going comics project, I update monthly with what comics I bought and anything weird or interesting I stumbled across. Each post will have a running list, and I'll update with the new titles and where they fall chronologically.

I came up with the order of the books from this comment of all the Batman trades in chronological order (up to Flashpoint), this trade reading order list for Superman, and this one for Batman. I judged the rest for myself based on release dates and what the story depicted.

I want this list functional and readable, so I didn't focus on perfect chronological order. I tried to keep decent chunks of individual runs together where possible, then backtrack chronologically if necessary for a chunk of a different title--except in cases where something important was introduced, like a character dying, coming back to life, etc.

Below you'll see the list of canon DC titles that I own at this point. The ones in bold are the ones that I got this month.

  1. Crisis On Infinite Earths
  2. Batman: Dark Victory
  3. Batman: The Killing Joke, Deluxe Edition
  4. Justice League International, Vol. 1
  5. Justice League International, Vol. 2
  6. Justice League International, Vol. 3
  7. Justice League International, Vol. 4
  8. The Death of Superman
  9. Batman: Knightfall, Vol. 1
  10. Impulse: Reckless Youth
  11. Justice League: A League of One
  12. JLA Titans: Technis Imperative
  13. Young Justice: A League of Their Own
  14. Birds of Prey, Vol. 1: Of Like Minds
  15. Superman/Batman Vol. 1: Public Enemies
  16. Superman/Batman Vol. 2: Supergirl
  17. JLA: The Hypothetical Woman
  18. Teen Titans Vol. 1: A Kid's Game
  19. Teen Titans Vol. 2: Family Lost
  20. Teen Titans Vol. 3: Beast Boys and Girls
  21. Teen Titans Vol. 4: The Future is Now
  22. Teen Titans/Outside​rs: The Insiders
  23. Teen Titans: The Death and Return of Donna Troy
  24. The OMAC Project (Countdown to Infinite Crisis)
  25. Infinite Crisis
  26. Teen Titans Vol. 5: Life and Death
  27. Supergirl Vol. 1
  28. Batman: Face the Face by James Robinson
  29. Teen Titans, Vol. 6: Titans Around the World
  30. Teen Titans, Vol. 7: Titans East
  31. Superman: Up, Up, and Away!
  32. Superman: Back in Action
  33. Superman: Last Son of Krypton
  34. Superman: Camelot Falls, Vol. 1
  35. Superman: Camelot Falls (Vol. 2)
  36. Superman: The Third Kryptonian
  37. Superman: Redemption
  38. Superman: Escape from Bizarro World
  39. Superman: Shadows Linger
  40. Blue Beetle (Book 1): Shellshocked
  41. Blue Beetle (Book 2): Road Trip
  42. Blue Beetle (Book 3): Reach for the Stars
  43. Teen Titans, Vol. 8: Titans of Tomorrow
  44. Blue Beetle (Book 4): Endgame
  45. Batman: Batman and Son
  46. Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul
  47. Batman R.I.P.
  48. Final Crisis
  49. Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds
  50. Teen Titans Spotlight: Raven
  51. Wonder Woman: The Circle
  52. Time Masters: Vanishing Point
  53. Superman: Action Comics, Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel
  54. Justice League, Vol. 1: Origin (The New 52)
  55. Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls
  56. Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls
  57. Batgirl Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection (The New 52)
  58. Batgirl Vol. 2: Knightfall Descends
  59. Batwing Vol. 1: The Lost Kingdom
  60. Justice League Vol. 2: The Villain's Journey
  61. Justice League International Vol. 1: The Signal Masters
  62. Aquaman Vol. 1: The Trench (The New 52)
  63. Aquaman Vol. 2: The Others (The New 52)
  64. Aquaman Vol. 3: Throne of Atlantis (The New 52)
  65. Batman Vol. 3: Death of the Family
  66. Batgirl Vol. 3: Death of the Family
  67. The Movement Vol. 1: Class Warfare (The New 52)
  68. Justice League United Vol. 1: Justice League Canada
  69. Justice League United Vol. 2: The Infinitus Saga
  70. Batgirl Vol. 4: Wanted (The New 52)
  71. Secret Six Vol. 1: Friends in Low Places
  72. Bizarro
  73. Cyborg Vol. 1: Unplugged

Like I said last month, I'm trying to get the four major events of the DC universe--the three Crises books and Flashpoint. There are other important events--Zero Hour resulted in Hal Jordan turning evil and disappearing/dying for a long time in comics continuity and Convergence set the stage for DC Rebirth as well as bringing Preboot Superman into the New 52 continuity. But those weren't the big continuity rewriting events that the Crises books and Flashpoint were. Those are also kind of the way I divide the modern era of DC comics.

As you can see, I FINALLY got Final Crisis. It was pretty terrible. What I'm learning is Grant Morrison is, at best, a writer whom I finish and say, "I think this is what happened??" I don't need stuff spoonfed to me, but stories should generally have a followable sequence and boy Morrison can't do that to save his life. At least the Batman books--Batman and Son, Al Ghul, and RIP--Morrison is staying focused on one story-ish. With Final Crisis and all of the goddamned cosmos and the entirety of DC's roster at his disposal, the book spins out into a series of events that become so abstract and difficult to follow, so jumpy and choppy, that by the end of the book, I closed it, set it aside, and actually said, "...what?" outloud.

The ONLY thing I got out of it was that Batman died, but not really because he got kicked back in time to the caveman era because comics and because there's no way DC would actually kill off their biggest cash cow.

I got the next volume in Teen Titans--I am at this point, about halfway through collecting the run started by Geoff Johns in 2003. I was very glad that I caught up and read Blue Beetle volumes 3 and 4 before I bought or read Teen Titans volume 8 because it turns out Blue Beetle volume 3 overlaps with Teen Titans volume 8. There's one issue in particular in volume 3 of Blue Beetle the features the Teen Titans. And when reading Teen Titans volume 8, I was surprised to see portions of that issue were included, and then Blue Beetle keeps showing up in the subsequent issues, which is great! Jaime in the Teen Titans finally!

I have two more volumes of the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle to get and I will be finished with that run until Rebirth. I have no desire to collect the New 52 Blue Beetle. No Ted, Jaime hides his powers from his parents, almost kills one of his friends. Just...nope nope nope.

I also got JLI volume 4--the last one I'm worried about since volume 5 is far more expensive than I'm willing to spend and volume 6 ends with a cliffhanger. There is no volume 7. This means that besides trying to track down the volumes of Birds of Prey that Ted pops up in, the next Ted Kord stuff that I really need to collect is 52 and I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League. I don't care to get the follow up to that one either, Formerly Known as the Justice League, because from the reviews it's a weaker retread of Can't Believe and more sexist, which I'm good without. I get enough of that in the otherwise decent comics I already collect.

I also got The Killing Joke from my LCS because it was super cheap and...I's a classic? It leads to the creation of Oracle--although it should not get any credit for that since it was another writer coming along to try to fix that mess. I just got it for completeness since it is so seminal, if unintentionally so.

My quick review: The Killing Joke is overhyped garbage. It was interesting to see a back story to the Joker, but it was honestly too short to effectively tell the story it tried to tell. It didn't need padding. It needed time to better tackle Batman and the Joker's relationship--and to give more time to Barbara. Make the story at least partially about her--and not like how they did in the movie where they made Barbara into Batman's fuck buddy and pining girlfriend---UGH GOD DAMMIT WHY DC WHY???

I'll go into it more later, but the volume of Supergirl I got was...very uneven at best. It started decent, but about halfway through goes way off the rails. I thought the guy at the counter at my LCS was being kind of a jerk when he said "Just fyi, this book doesn't have, like, a story. It's just sort of random things happening." He was right.

And that other Final Crisis book up there is a tie-in that features, as I understand it, the resurrection of both Connor Kent and Bart Allen, which I need to read as part of my Teen Titans collecting. It's so far pretty good--far, far better than Final Crisis.

For April, I'll obviously keep collecting Teen Titans, try to finish up the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle run, but I'm also tempted to jump ahead and start collecting some of the stuff that leads into Rebirth because those trades are finally starting to come out and I want them so baaaad--*grabby hands.* Especially because of the gonzo nonsense I've seen about the current Superman run and how they're explaining Preboot Superman. It look like the kind of over-complicated mess that I love about comics. So I might try grabbing Flashpoint, and then jumping straight to Convergence and the Preboot Superman stuff. I dunno. We'll see.

If you have any thoughts about, drop me a line in the comments. Want to discuss books I've recently purchased or read? Any suggestions for books I missed? Just please, no spoilers.

Happy reading!