By Whedon's Beard

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PLee and I had a bit of an e-mail discussion recently about Joss Whedon directing the Avengers. My thoughts are posted here for dissection. There are Buffy/Angel/Firefly/Dr. Horrible spoilers below so beware if you haven't completed those series.

I honestly have mixed feelings about Joss directing The Avengers. The pros are that he can do team dynamics very well and is a very capable director, even under limited circumstances (TV budgets, lower than normal budget for Serenity, no-budget Dr. Horrible). He's got a nice run of X-Men comics on his writing resume, so he's familiar with Marvel and has a seemingly good relationship with them.

The cons...after watching his work for years, I've noticed some annoying trends that creep up in his work repeatedly. A couple examples: He seems to hate happy relationships. No couple in Buffy or Angel stay together in the end and Serenity ends with a happy relationship beginning, but had the series continued, Simon and Kaylee would likely have not stayed together. He also plays the "kill a major character to shock the audience" card too much. As much as I hated it, I've accepted that killing Wash was the right move for Serenity. But it loses its potency after he had played that trick so many times before. Not only that, the climax of Dr. Horrible hinges on both of these Whedon tricks (death of Penny).

Yes, Zoe and Wash were an awesome married couple with interesting dynamics and plot lines. And then Wash was killed. Goodbye relationship.

That's how half the relationships went in Buffy and Angel. They were either your standard we can't be together sort of thing (Buffy and Angel) or these two are happy so one must die (Willow and Tara). At the end of both shows, no relationship was left intact. And that's fine a time or two, but I'm just saying that it's becoming easier for me to telegraph where Whedon is going with his writing because he's revisiting his tricks too often.

All that said, I feel like Joss is the kind of guy who should be creating his own thing rather than playing with other people's toys. But maybe this will be good for him and he can use The Avengers to do a Nolanesque move and bounce between a franchise (like Nolan is doing with Batman) and original Joss material (like Nolan is doing with The Prestige or Inception).

G.I. Joe: Resolutification, part Cobra

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Last night, like a guy who just got back from vacation ready to show off his slide show, I subjected you to pictures of my new G.I. Joe figures. Today, we repeat that, but this time, I'll be yelling "COBRA!" while I do it.

COBRA COMMANDER
Hasbro already released a version of this figure that was just like this. The only difference between this and the earlier version (that I can tell) is that this comes with a cool knife. There are probably other minor variations, but I'm not going to get out the microscope and compare.

DESTRO
Despite being Scottish, the Resolutified Destro has a Nazi motif going on. The cartoon character was very tall and bulky, but this figure doesn't have that heft. The head doesn't seem that different from the 25th Anniversary Destro figure. Also, for some reason, this figure comes with a robot arm. Despite not really understanding why, I give it points for that because robot arms are cool.

THE BARONESS
The worst figure of the entire 14 I got yesterday. I can't fault the figure because I think the design of the character is to blame. I'm not sure what they were trying to achieve with this design, but it doesn't work for me.

ZARTAN
An awesome figure. Best of the 14 figures and the best Zartan figure ever made. What else can I say?

STORM SHADOW
Nice touch on the removable hood. It's a pretty straightforward and simplified version with is the opposite of all the other Resolute designs.

FIREFLY
In some ways, it's surprising that they made this figure because his appearance in the show was so brief. This figure also has a more simplified look which sort of flies in the face of the way I see him. Also, he winds up being very similar in style to the Alley-Viper which, to me, indicates that he was a really awesome trooper that rose up through the ranks and got to have his own persona. Not sure if that's the case, but it's my take on it.

ALLEY-VIPER
I much prefer the previously released Resolute Cobra Trooper to this guy, but this guy is cool, too. I didn't take pictures, but the helmet and goggles are removable. Nice addition to the Cobra troop set I've got going in my collection.

MAJOR BLUDD
This figure was just a re-release of the first Major Bludd figure with the Cobra Commander dagger sticking out of his chest. Pretty inventive if you ask me. And also totally false. I made this one up to see if you were still reading. But you're not.

Unfortunately the G.I. Joe Resolute cartoon does not seem to be returning. Instead a new G.I. Joe Renegades cartoon is coming out that is based heavily on The A-Team. Oh well. Renegades might be cool, but despite its faults, I'll always think fondly of Resolute, this one little series that proved the G.I. Joe property really is cool and could be a creative success if placed in the right hands.


G.I. Joe: Resolutification

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As you are probably well aware if you frequent this blog, you'll know that I have an unhealthy, nostalgic love for G.I. Joe action figures. I don't apologize for it. Well, I do to my wife a bit.

In the mail today I received a new batch of figures from this oh so awesome G.I. Joe line. These figures are based on the short G.I. Joe Resolute web series. When Hasbro shut down the 25th Anniversary line in favor of the movie line, some figures based on the web series got shelved. But fans clamored and Hasbro saw a way to make some of my money and released two boxed sets of G.I. Joe Resolute boxed sets each with a whopping seven figures.

Today, I'll share with you pictures and some brief thoughts on my Joe set, tomorrow I'll share with you my Cobra set.

DUKE
There was a "regular" Resolute Duke figure released already but this is a nice variant showing Duke in "Hoth Gear" which comes from a couple of the episodes. I like this figure a lot and he'll go nice with my Snow Job and Arctic Snake Eyes.

SCARLETT
This probably winds up being my least favorite figure of the bunch (from the Joe set at least). Nothing beats the 25th Anniversary version of the character. I like the outfit and the Resolutification of it, but her head seems too large maybe.

SNAKE EYES
This is a repaint of the City Strike Snake Eyes that has already been released. The cool thing about this version is his Batman gear. Although, that's not enough for me to keep him. I'll be listing this figure on eBay. Sorry Snake, but eight is enough.

FLINT
My favorite Joe character was translated to the Resolute style and I couldn't be happier with the look. They kept the black beret, the gloves and the shotgun shell-packed straps. Love it!

STALKER
Very nice update for this often over-looked character. Another character with a beret (now if they would only make Dial-Tone) and the updated version has dreadlocks...

BEACHHEAD
This is a pretty faithful Resolutification, but the design almost seems like a "why bother" since it's not all that different from the original. Nice figure, but a Wild Bill or a Shipwreck might have been a cooler addition to this set.

ROADBLOCK
When I saw the pictures of this set, Roadblock didn't really click with me. And this mold was used on a Rise of Cobra figure that I passed on. Although, seeing it in person now, I really like it. Especially in relation to the other figures. He's larger and bulkier and comes with some great gear.

All in all, I'm pleased with this set and now have to scramble to find shelf space so I can display these figures.


Here's a shot where I've swapped out Duke and Snake Eyes and included the Gung-Ho from the Rise of Cobra line that was based on the Resolute look.


Tomorrow...COBRA!!!

Nerd Lunch Comic Con

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I've been mentioning the "Nerd Lunch Comic Con" on Twitter now for a few days. The NLCC was my response to the San Diego Comic Con and not being able to go and participate in all the cool stuff that's happening. I've been to a few conventions in my days, but never to "the big kahuna." A few years ago (pre-kids), my wife and I kicked around the idea but decided against it. Now, with all my obligations, it's not in the cards to go to SDCC or any of the other major conventions for a while.

But, that didn't stop me from trying to host my own. Take a look at this video for the results.


In all seriousness though...

It was quite a bit of fun tweeting about this over the past few days. In the video, I tried to mention everybody who played along including:

• The Atomic Geeks (individually they are: @theatomicgeeks, @hunkburger, @atomicgeekdowns, @poopymanhere, @markdury)
@siwelkire
@swurfwreck
@d20monkey
@HoukiBoshiTachi
@mrworkrate
@designisgo

There were a couple people who jumped in on the retweets and fun after the video was finished. Sorry I wasn't able to mention you in the video @Delirium_Comics and @robocake33.

Thanks to Bill Wiist (@wiist) for allowing me to make some jokes using his name.

It is my pleasure to mention that the music at the beginning of the video is by Michael Calienes.

Big thanks to Scott Holstein (@scottholstein) and John Kimber (not on Twitter) for taking some time out of their day to be a part of the video. And big thanks to my wife (@StitchedbyJanay) and kids for playing along and being genuinely supportive by appearing unsupportive in the video.

And hey, it's not "Follow Friday," but that's going to stop me from mentioning that if you are on the Twitter, you should be following all of those people I mentioned.

It was fun to put together and I hope you enjoyed it.

Wolfe the Bounty Hunter

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Younger members of the Nerd Lunch audience may not remember when the A&E in the TV network’s name actually stood for arts and entertainment. Before it was the home of Dog the Bounty Hunter or Kirstie Alley’s Big Fat Ass, A&E offered Murder She Wrote reruns mixed high brow faire like Jane Austen mini-series, the ballet, and episodes of Biography. I did discover NewsRadio during its syndicated run on A&E, but other than that I remember thinking to myself “who watches this channel?” Apparently, the answer was me from the future.

Nero Wolfe DVDA Nero Wolfe Mystery ran on the pre-transformation A&E during 2001-2002. Mystery, period piece, dialogue driven, and slightly erudite, it was right in the network’s wheelhouse. That didn’t place it at the top of my watch list, but luckily my wife was able to convince me to take a flyer on the show while we sorted out our TV on DVD follow-up to Deep Space Nine.

The show is based on the Nero Wolfe novels and short stories by Rex Stout. Wolfe is an eccentric and neurotic master detective based in New York City and is assisted by archetype gumshoe Archie Goodwin. Though breaking from detective story tradition, they are more equals than say Holmes and Watson. Goodwin is the common man character that the audience is probably supposed to identify with, but I actually found Wolfe more even appealing. Some of his prominent character traits include:

  • He loves to eat (hossin’ in Nerd Lunch parlance)
  • He hates to leave his house
  • He “likes money and requires a great deal of it”
  • He is obsessively devoted to his hobby
  • He does not suffer fools and seems to enjoy insulting them

How could a nerd not like the guy?

A couple of the screenplays fall flat, but the vast majority of the stories offer a great stage for the cast to strut their stuff. The acting is top notch and the entire cast seems to be having fun. Beyond the core characters, the cast is filed out playhouse style from a troupe of actors. At first it is jarring to see the murderer in one episode show up as the victim in the next, but it ends up working.

The whole show has a polish that makes it feel like a throwback to a different era. If networks like A&E and SyFy are any indication, I guess eight years ago was a different era. While it’s possible a network like AMC could still make something like Nero Wolfe today, it seems unlikely. The material just doesn’t have the intensity that is the hallmark of the modern crop of acclaimed cable shows. Fortunately for pulp fans, 

Nero Wolfe made it to air just before the landscape changed and the DVDs are out there to enjoy.

(Nerd) Lunch Special: CT's Breakfast Skillet

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In celebration of the fact I have the day off today, I thought I'd share this little breakfast or brinner-time meal I like to make. It's pretty easy although there's potentially a lot going on at once so you have get your timing right.

First, get yourself a bag of those frozen biscuits and stick a few in the oven. You could also do canned biscuits, but the frozen ones are better. That's going to give you about 20 minutes to get the rest of it together. Plenty of time...

Brown a pound of country sausage, I toss in onions and green peppers as well.


Next, take three potato cake hash browns and lay them right on top of your browned ground sausage and then cover your skillet.


Give it a couple minutes and your frozen hash browns will become soft. Start breaking them up and mix them into your sausage.

Cook that a little longer and then get out some eggs. I typically use five or six eggs. Break them and stir them into your sausage and hash brown mixture.

Somewhere in there, you're going to want to begin making gravy. I mean that literally. I just use a gravy packet, but if you want to get crazy and make your own, that'd probably be even better.

If you've timed it all right, the eggs are getting finished at the same time your gravy is thickening...

...and your biscuits are ready to take out of the oven.

To serve, grab a bowl, open a biscuit and place said biscuit at the bottom of said bowl.

Next, scoop out some of the sausage, hash brown egg mix on top of the biscuit.

Pour gravy over everything.

Top with chives, red pepper flakes or whatever cool garnish you can come up with.

Enjoy!

Wonder Why?

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A couple people have asked me what I think about the new Wonder Woman costume. Here's my response: It's gimmicky and part of the reason I lost the desire to read comics a few years ago. None of this stuff is ever permanent and nor should it be. A few years ago, DC came along and said they're killing Superman knowing full well they'd bring him back in 8 months. Then they release it to the media. The news runs with it as a big story and they sell a billion comics. And that's what Marvel and DC have been trying to recreate ever since.

The funny thing is that this is nothing new Wonder Woman has changed her costume several times over the past 70 years only to change it back. So when a news story says, "After sporting the same look for nearly seven decades..." they're wrong. But it doesn't matter because they took the bait DC gave them and ran the story. But even that doesn't matter because it really won't translate to comic sales. Not until comics can find their way back into a more mainstream venue. Perhaps that's online and digital comics. Who knows?

As for the costume itself...I'm not really a fan, but I suppose it could be worse. It really hearkens back to a 90s sensibility with the jacket, big shoulder pads, and ornate gauntlets. The other thing they might be doing is trying to come up with a more practical costume for an eventual movie. I hope this isn't it.
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