WWE House Show, 10 October 2015

Becky Lynch making Doctor Strange fingers.
Becky Lynch making Doctor Strange fingers.

I took my step-son to a WWE House Show in St. Louis this last Saturday. Here are the results:

1. R-Truth over Tyler Breeze. This was a little surprising considering the push Breeze is getting in NXT and the rumor that he is being moved to the main roster, while R-Truth has been relegated to the family friendly jobber position reminiscent of talents like Scotty 2 Hotty. Personally, if I were booking for the WWE, R-Truth would have a title. Ron Killings is the total package: charismatic on the microphone, athletic, and able to put on a good performance in most match types.

2. Jimmy Uso over Heath Slater. No surprises here. Slater antagonized Uso by calling him "a commentator," inferring that the ex-tag team champion was suffering from ring rust. Slater challenged Uso to a "dance off," which sent Atticus (my step-son) into a spiral of giggles. Of course, he pulled the trad heel move and attacked Uso from behind, but Uso ended things with a really nice looking superkick. Atticus and I were both a little disappointed not to see any aerial moves from either of these agile wrestlers.

3. Neville over Heath Slater. Heath Slater promised that he would not leave St. Louis with a loss and made an open challenge for anyone to come out and face him. The Man that Gravity Forgot answered, and squashed the One Man Band in two moves, the pinning move of course being the Red Arrow. After, Slater staggered back to the ring. I was kinda hoping that he'd go for "third time's the charm" and some behemoth would lumber out, but no...

4. Rusev over Mark Henry. Summer Rae was at ringside, of course. I saw her "wrestle" at another house show, and to be brutally honest, when age catches up, she's gone. She's dull to watch, horrid to listen to, and is really only useful as eye candy. Until the WWE cuts her, I'll enjoy looking at her legs. Ahem! Match kinda rewound to Henry and Rusev's earlier feud, the crowd chanting "USA!" to rally for Henry (if Atticus hadn't been with me, I would have tried to start a Sexual Chocolate chant). Just like that previous feud, Rusev came out on top, using the Steiner Recline... I mean, Accolade... to get a tap out.

5. Ryback over Kevin Owens by DQ. I don't like that Owens has been booked to be a coward and cheater, though it has not diminished my pleasure in seeing the former Kevin Steen on television. I love the infusion of RoH, PWG, and indie talent, and hope that booking and backstage will allow some flexibility in the WWE style of wrestling for these incredible wrestlers to shine. There wasn't much here. Ryback was the big hero, and Owens earned a DQ with a blatant eye-rake. The match was for the Intercontinental title, but I can't recall anyone winning a belt at a house show since Chris Jericho at a WCW event in the late-1990s.

Intermission, followed by Bryan Saxton and JoJo throwing free t-shirts into the crowd.

6. Charlotte and Becky Lynch over Naomi and Tamina. Supersize Snuka has slowly gone downhill since adopting the half-assed Chyna bodyguard gimmick. I like her, think she's foxy, and has some solid moves, but keeping her grounded is killing her career. When was the last time she did her father's famous finisher? Small wonder she got pinned in one of the most awful matches I've seen since the Diva's revolution began. I am a bit tired of Diva tag matches. There is nothing revolutionary about tag and six-woman tag matches in a division that has no tag titles. Becky Lynch's skills are wasted being the sidekick to Charlotte, while Sasha Banks doesn't need cronies to show audiences why she is the boss.

7. New Day over the Dudleyz and Prime-Time Players in an Elimination match. Again, titles were on the line, so of course New Day was going to win. I guess sometimes the belts do change hands at house shows, but the Dusty finish occurs, where the match is restarted for some reason, or a ref negates a decision. Best match of the night. The Prime Time Players were eliminated first, and then the Dudleyz with outside interference from Kofi Kingston, but Kofi was rewarded with a trip through a table after the match. So, the New Day team consisted of Big-E and Xavier Woods. I don't know if "the X-Man" was injured, but I am glad he is wrestling more. For my money, he's the best of the three, and based on talent alone, the most likely to hold a solo title again. The Dudleyz are fun to watch and invoke the ECW nostalgia, but if you've seen one of their matches, you have seen them all. The Prime Time Players are less predictable, and put out a great effort. Darren Young and Titus are both incredible athletes, and they had the crowd behind them up until they were eliminated.

8. Main Event: Randy Orton and Roman Reigns over Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman. Braun Strowman looks like morbidly obese comedian Louie Anderson in the face; I can't get around that to take him seriously as "the coming apocalypse." Not a lot to talk about here. The match went as one might imagine, with hometown hero Orton getting a pin on poor, poor Bray Wyatt. Only real complaint: the firefly/cell phone effect wasn't as cool since the Scott Trade center left doors to brightly lit hallways wide open.

I might be remembering the order of matches in the middle wrong, but the results are accurate. Atticus got a bunch of WWE chain necklaces as mementos, and I snagged a golden Money in the Bank lunchbox to take to work. You want to steal my Thai peanut noodles?? Make it to the top of the ladder!

Good show.


Kids Today

I miss being a social pariah. In 1992—the year I graduated from high school—when someone was heard quoting from Star Wars or Monty Python and the Holy Grail, there was an instant kinship between speaker and receiver. One was lucky if there was a comic book store in his or her city, and otherwise, had to keep fingers crossed in hopes of finding The Uncanny X-Men in the periodical aisle at the grocery store or the shoebox in the corner of a dirty flea market booth. In 2015, Harley Quinn looks like a prostitute working an NRA convention; the Doctor’s companions are aloof hipster biscuits, and I can’t roll a d20 without half of the table quoting, spoiling, or asking if I Nerd Block or Lootcrate. I get vacant looks if I tell people I’m listening to Mazzy Star or P.J. Harvey, but they all know Amanda Palmer because she’s married to Neil Gaiman. The success of comic book movies and the explosion of popular culture have turned the novelty of being a nerd into a brand.

There is no point in attributing a single source; one could throw shade at Buffy or Xena or the evolution of the Internet, but the phenomenon has occurred across the board in all mediums. The two things that are more important is: 1) Identify the problem, and 2) Fix it.

I WANT YOU! ...to pull my finger
I WANT YOU! ...to pull my finger

So, # 1. Media saturation has wrung curiosity from the young, the worst sin ever perpetuated in human history. Words have been devalued by the spectacle of the image, itself cheap currency. Having to search for back issue rarities, bootleg movies and CDs, and making new friends with other fans has lost all meaning when once can stream a digital copy of a comic book, watch a movie on their smartphone, and legit fans are hidden behind the legion of buttholes ironically wearing Marvel/DC/television/movie t-shirts they copped at Walmart. This age of accessibility and instant gratification is not promoting resourcefulness and innovation, but creating a generation of self-entitled brats who expect to find whatever they want when they want it. This is problematic because they will evolve into adults who never had to be patient or work for their passions, instead becoming mindless, lazy consumers, and then the cycle repeats.

# 2. I don't know how to fix it. I don't expect to find the answer instantly, and I know Googling it will give me a jillion hits to links that are nonsensical. Besides, wouldn't that be a bit hypocritical? No, no. I want to work out the problem for myself and my own family. I wanted to share in case you're feeling the same malaise, and haven't yet figured out step 1 so you can proceed to 2. Some of you may have been caught up in accidental misdirection and are trying to find someone to blame, which, as I said before, is a futile effort.

Good luck. We all need it.


The Death of Katma Tui

Katma Tui gets the Sons of Anarchy death.
Katma Tui gets the Sons of Anarchy death.

So, the Green Lantern story in Action Comics Weekly #601 - ... And The Pain Shall Leave My Heart is the most memorable in Action run in which the book was a superhero anthology. John Stewart (not the host of The Daily Show) and Katma Tui of Korugar--home planet of SInestro--have gotten married and settle down to a life of domestic bliss. That tranquility is interrupted when Carol Ferris succumbs to the influence of the Star Sapphire, once again adopting the villainous identity. She murders Katma Tui in the kitchen; no candlesticks were involved.

The effect upon Stewart is the most significant consequence. The death of his wife, his later experiences in the totally fictional, you-shouldn't-look-it-up-on-Google-Earth-because-it-doesn't-exist South Nambia, and the destruction of the planet Xanthia push the GL towards suicide and depression. Carol Ferris, the host for Star Sapphire, is also the love interest of Hal Jordan, THE Green Lantern, and so the Green Lantern of Sector 2814 must fight the woman he loves who just killed the wife of one of his closest friends.

Other effects of this story occured to me in 2015, three decades since Katma Tui's lifeless corpse hit the kitchen tiles. Katma first appeared in Green Lantern #30 - The Tunnel Through Time!; Once a Green Lantern--Always a Green Lantern!, written by John Broome and illustrated by Gil Kane. Kane also illustrated the serial in which Katma Tui bought the farm. She was killed by one of her co-creators, which is very striking to me, because usually when a character who debuted in the 60s died in this era, it is usally orchestrated by one of the creators' many successors, perhaps looking to establish himself/herself as changing up the status quo. By the date of publication, DC had ALREADY been charged with becoming darker and grittier, but consider how often Silver Age creators were involved in that process. ...It's just intriguing to me.

There's also the fact that Katma Tui is an alien to the planet she is murdered on by an Earth woman possessed by an extraterrestrial power. Kinda a weird anti-post colonial/assimilation thing going on here that I haven't totally worked out in my head yet.

Finally, Katma Tui is killed by another woman in a kitchen, symbolic for subversion of women at the hands of the patriarchy. Her death is intended to demonstrate to Jordan the vulnerability of Green Lanterns, but deconstructing the images and message here, was Katma Tui open to attack because she took on the roles of wife and domestic engineer? She dies without a fight, years and years before Major Force kills Alex DeWitt in Kyle Rayner's place, making her the first official "Woman in a Refrigerator," but really, DeWitt struggles quite a bit against her attacker, whereas Katma Tui does nothing to save herself. I'd love to read your insights about these two events in context to one another.

If you have any other perspectives about this story or want to discuss or challenge the ideas I've brought up, I'd love to read them. Please don't be a crass douchebag; I wanna talk comics, not see your inner 4chan user.

Hello... and goodbye!
Hello... and goodbye!



Angel, Earth Angel


No Caption Provided

Old hat, perhaps, but here is a YouTube vid from Grace Randolph, reflecting upon the concept art reveal of Archangel. She also comments on the departure of Jennifer Lawrence and Hugh Jackman from the X-cinematic franchise, which I was unaware of. It makes sense with their successes elsewhere, but I wonder if Wolverine's comic book "death" played any part in Jackman's decision.


Personally, I like the concept art.


My Top 50 Favorite Professional Wrestlers of All Time


The blog title is pretty self-explanatory. My step-son challenged me to make a list. I did, and here it is. If your only exposure to professional wrestling is televised WWE shlock, than: 1. I feel sorry for you, and 2. You may not recognize some of the names herein. However, if you aren't familiar but are a fan, I invite you to search out the names on YouTube and watch a match or two. This is an ordered list.

50. Mark Henry

49. Bray Wyatt

48. Harley Race

47. The Great Muta

46. Rocky Romero

45. Amazing Kong

44. Chris Hero

43. Perry Saturn

42. Tajiri

41. Bo Dallas

40. R-Truth

39. Daffney

38. Ace Steel

37. Taka Michinoku

36. Psychosis

35. Chris Sabin

34. Silver King

33. “The Macho Man” Randy Savage

32. Shawn Michaels

31. Corey Graves

30. Mercedes Martinez

29. Triple H

28. Kevin Owens/Kevin Steen

27. Jay Lethal

20. Sabu

19. Chris Jericho

18. “Ravishing” Rick Rude

17. Edge

16. Roman Reigns

15. Roddy Piper

14. Tara/Victoria

13. Rob Van Dam

12. Mick Foley

11. Haystacks Calhoun

10. Raven

9. LuFisto

8. André the Giant

7. AJ Lee

6. The Iron Sheik

5. Eddie Guerrero

4. Ric Flair

3. CM Punk

2. Brian Pillman

1. Jake “The Snake” Roberts


The Boy in the Rubbish (fiction): NEED feedback

The following is a piece of fiction I have started, possibly to turn into a comic and bankroll a la crowdsourcing. Unfortunately, I suffer from paralyzing low self-esteem. I'm not fishing for compliments, but looking for honest reactions and constructive criticism. Please read and respond.

When Donora had stepped out of her flat, the sky had been the color of slate, but now the clouds were drifting listlessly to the east to menace Wales. Pale sunlight found her face now, and she felt like a goddess again, warmth on her brow as she surveyed her domain from the misty top of Hōrai. Now, though, she was a 14-year old girl in a jumper with a stick in her hand, standing over a boy nestled among the black bags full of rubbish as if he were sleeping in a green meadow.

His head was a mop of greasy black hair, sculpted by neglect into a porcupine unceremoniously mounting a bird’s nest. Had Donora been a betting woman, she’d have not bet against the possibility of tribes of lice hacking their way through the dark tangle. The face beneath the impossible hairline, though, was a surprise. There was a hint of whimsy playing at the corners of the boy’s full lips, and his aquiline nose was unmarred by a single spot. His eyes were swollen and dark with exhaustion. Donora could relate. Still, places to go, things to be done.

“Hey,” she said, poking him gingerly in the ribs with her stick.

The boy in the rubbish did not stir.

“Hey.” This time the point of the stick found his right shoulder. Donora thought that perhaps his forehead wrinkled and relaxed, but she wasn’t sure. She was watching his eyes, wondering what color his irises would be; she hoped for complete heterochromia. Surely as fascinating a thing as a pretty young man in her rubbish had to have bi-colored eyes, a vestigial tail, a birthmark shaped like Elvis, something. Donora fancied eyes, though. She had high hopes for the eyes.

“Oi!” she said, putting on her best scowl and kicking the soles of his threadbare canvas tennis shoes.

The boy blinked a couple of times against the sun. Donora, short in her current body, was a poor substitute for a shade tree. His eyes fixed on hers and she beamed. His right eye was as brown as polished mahogany, while the left was a green marble. Score.

“I’m sorry,” he said, pushing himself upright. His eyes left hers and fixed on the study branch in Donora’s hand. “I’ve a satchel here. Please give me a moment, and I’ll be on my way.”

“Are you hurt?” Donora asked, offering him her hand. She didn’t see blood or anything, but he had been unconscious among the garbage.

He got to his feet without meeting her eyes, and found the strap for a weather-beaten satchel. It was only after he was satisfied its contents were all still there that he deigned to look at her again.

“I’m fine, thanks.”

“Would you like something to eat?” Donora asked. It occurred to her that his body was older than hers, and if he was going to take her seriously, she’d have to make a grand gesture. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, dimples: she couldn’t have looked more adorably wholesome if she’d been holding a puppy. Even if she could manage it in this porcelain urchin body, Donora knew seduction was the wrong path to take with this lad. The hurt is still so close to the surface, I can almost touch it. Food seemed appropriate.

The boy stopped in the midst of shouldering his satchel and really looked at her for the first time. Donora’s cheeks flushed a bit as his eyes met hers. And then he smiled. Oh, what a brilliant smile! It was straight and white as in a toothpaste commercial. If he didn’t smell like an onion hidden inside of a dirty sock, she might consider the possibilities offered by that smile, but no, she couldn’t ignore the yucky.

“No. Thank you, but no,” he said, still brandishing that disarming smile like a cudgel.

Donora immediately liked him. He was cute and polite, and not at all put off by her apparent Americanness.

“Well, then I must insist you accompany me while I eat, Brian Manchester Bolland.”

She liked that trick, the one of knowing the names of people and things. However, she did not like that his smile disappeared and that he now regarded her suspiciously.

“How do you know my name?”

Whatever prat had said honesty was the best approach, clearly had never been accused of witchcraft in Spain, but at that moment in the rubbish, Donora couldn’t agree more.

“Because I am a goddess reborn, and it is my job to know things like the names of boys who sleep in the bins outside my flat.”

Manchester—his preferred name, Donora also knew—looked around dubiously to see if he was being put on. He glanced in the direction of the apartments and then returned his brown and his green eyes to her two blue ones.

“Bollocks,” he said with no trace of humor.

Dammit, she thought. Time for hardball.

Pseudohaje goldii is the genus-species of the Gold’s tree cobra.”

The pretty homeless boy with the brilliant smile and the gorgeous, bi-colored eyes looked upon Donora then with such hate that she thought her heart might break. It had been dirty pool, but what other choice had been left to her?

And so Manchester Bolland turned his back on Nyx, the Goddess of Night, leaving her with naught but the sound of his shoes slapping on the asphalt as he ran away and a stillborn sorry on her lips.


Comic Store Review: Tee Rex in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Tee Rex's logo
Tee Rex's logo

26 April 2015—There are many theories regarding the disappearance of dinosaurs from the earth. Did a meteorite raise a dust cloud eradicating them from every place but children’s imaginations? Perhaps the cooling of the planet gradually killed most dino species and forced others to evolve into sea turtles, crocodiles, and George Hamilton. I love—and let me emphasize, L-O-V-E—comics in which dinosaurs play a prominent role, Mark Schultz’s Xenozoic Tales, Frank Cho’s Shanna the She-Devil, and Steve Bissette’s underappreciated Tyrant chief among them. These stories recapture all of the wonder of a child wandering through a museum, awestruck by the towering skeletons of the mighty tyrannosaurus rex or the gentle brontosaurus. In spite of my enthusiasm for the marriage between graphic narrative and dinosaurs, I’m less inclined to say the same for dinosaur-themed comic shops.

Tee Rex is located at 44 Spring Street, along the main strip of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The sign boasts “Extinct Toys, T-Shirts, and Endangered Collectibles.” Sadly, if you are shopping for comics while in Eureka Springs, this is your only option aside from crossing your fingers in the city’s various antique malls and thrift stores; at Tee Rex, the Ice Age can’t come soon enough.

Upon entering the store, there is an impressive glass display case to your immediate left containing some overpriced Star Wars figures. My wife was impressed to find one of the original, signed Margaret Keane big-eyed portraits decorating the walls. To your right, is a table where one can pick up a Tee Rex short-sleeved t-shirt or a baseball cap; this is good information to have if you wish to show the world that you have no taste. Beyond this display is the door to Tee Rex’s sister store, the Christian-themed—but no less crappy—Twice Born T-Shirts. Proceeding into the main floor of Tee Rex, there are shelves and display cases of toys priced for tourists. This is to say that the prices are not competitive with the rest of the free world. The selection is impressive, especially if one is in the market for action figures, but if you want to save money to go on a ghost tour at the Crescent Hotel or to enjoy fine dining at Local Flavor or Ermilio’s, leave immediately.

And fanboys and fangirls? Don’t even bother. The store does have an interesting selection of out-of-print, mostly softcover trade paperbacks. If you need Essential Defenders, Volume 3, Classic Star Brand, or The Best of Judge Dredd, Tee Rex may be for you… if you are willing to pay cover. Some of the titles on the shelves are still sporting library stickers on their spines, and new and used trades are shelved together in no discernible order. These are not priced to move, so I suspect the same titles will await you when you visit this armpit of comicdom.

There is a Spartan selection of back issues of Marvel and DC books, bagged but not boarded, with conditions ranging from G+ to VG-. The prices suggest that the comics are NM+/M. For some reason, the titles are kind of alphabetized, but not really. The top shelf of the display had several rows of Action Comics from the late 70s-early 1980s with some beaten up issues of Fantastic Four from the John Byrne era, and then the shelves below it contain some other Marvel and DC titles with a few issues of Dark Horse Comics Presents jammed in to fill space. Oddly, there are no titles beyond the letter F. If you want a single issue of Uncanny X-Men or even Iron Man, you’re s.o.l. There is another shelf you can bend down to labelled “indie comics,” which is home to less than a short box of comics in better condition than their more prominently-displayed brethren. The first comic I saw was a copy of Badger # 41 for $5, so I stopped looking to see if my wife was ready to go.

Shannon, my wife, and I honeymooned in Eureka Springs. We wanted some place close and charming that we could return to every year, and parts of the town are truly stunning to behold. The natural beauty in and around the city is gorgeous. Hippies and artists live in communal harmony in the avenues intersecting with White Street, while bikers get their party on at the Pied Piper. Here one finds a marriage between the extremely friendly LGBT community and the diverse selection of family-friendly restaurants catering to every taste and lifestyle, with little or no tension. It is truly a nice place to visit.

Tee Rex on Spring Street, though? No. No way, Jose. Save your money and troll eBay or Amazon for the comics you want, because even with the shipping and handling charges, you will come out ahead.


Amazing # 149 Woke Me Up

No Caption Provided

I want to start by talking about the Spider's Web, the Amazing letters page. Four issues earlier in The Amazing Spider-Man #145 - Gwen Stacy is Alive...and, Well...?!, Gwen Stacy apparently returned from the dead after her death. One reader expresses a lot of frustration at this resurrection, back in an era when supporting characters didn't return from the dead a couple of months after getting bumped off. The reader directs his anger at writer Gerry Conway, not at the whole company, or at the whole industry. It put some things in perspective for me. If you have read my posts, you know that I don't like that 2015 is the Year of the Massive Retcon. I have been very vocal about my displeasure and have made bridge-burning statements here and offline like "Never again make mine Marvel" or "The House of Ideas is closed for business." I even proposed that Marvel has unofficially retooled the acronym FOOM to stand for "F*** Off, Old Marvelites." Reading this letter made me realize how ridiculous I must read.

We are at an unprecedented time in the comic book industry when the popularity of comics is changing for the better. Yes, Marvel, DC, and even Archie might have their company's self-interests at heart, but the creators now have incredible opportunities to make decades-old continuity accessible to a new generation of readers through storytelling. I am not going to embrace every change--there are only a handful of New 52 books that don't make me wretch--but rather than be like that letter writer and throw my hands up and deny myself a front row seat for comic book history, I am going to cross my fingers and hope for the best. The heroes of my youth aren't dead. Now, there's just the better chance that they will become the heroes for my stepson or for my new grandson.

Like many nerds, I am not overtly fashion conscious--I prefer colors and certain textures to name brands. With comics, I have never been a one publishing house man before, and these massive changes are not going to change that now. While I still think the Secret Wars limiteds and one-shots are going to be an inconsequential as the Flashpoint three-parters, I ask all my fellow old-timers not to be the curmudgeonly pessimist buried in the letters page. Share the new stories of your old favorites with younger friends, family, and 20something-year old mistresses who secretly wish you were Robert Downey, Jr. instead of you.

Besides, it could be worse... Rob Liefeld could have gotten ahold of Cap again...

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