Our Princess

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A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away….

On December 27th of last year, Carrie Fisher, perhaps best known as Princess Leia from the Star Wars franchise, left this mortal world.  She appeared in nearly fifty feature films, and had almost fifty starring and guest roles on television.  She also authored multiple fiction and non-fiction books including Postcards From The Edge and The Princess Diarist.  She was a playwright, screenplay writer, and script doctor.  Fisher was also very vocal about her struggles with drug abuse and bipolar disorder.

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Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher

She also came from a famous family.  Her father, Eddie Fisher, was an extremely popular singer who charted multiple hits in the 1950’s.  Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, was an actor, singer, film historian and preservationist, and a businesswoman.  Reynolds’ acting career spanned almost seventy years.  She tragically died the day after Carrie on December 28th.

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Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher

As stated before, Fisher had roles in nearly one hundred films and television programs, but it was her role as Princess Leia (later to be known as General Leia) that put her into the hearts of nerds and geeks the world over.

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With the announcement of her death, fan and professional tributes took over social media, television, and radio.  The bulk of these tributes focused on her role as Leia and her outspokenness on the topics of mental disorders and drug addiction.  Some of them focused on her many relationships over the years.  A few even went so far as to say that we needed to forget the princess version of her and focus on the hardened general that she portrayed in Star Wars:  The Force Awakens.  Obviously those people knew her as a princess in title only, as Princess Leia was definitely one of the toughest, bravest characters in all of Star Wars canon and in the expanded universe as well.

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Sure, General Leia was a strong character, but Princess Leia, OUR Princess Leia, was the character that stood up to Darth Vader, called the mighty Chewbacca a “walking carpet” with absolutely zero fear, and took control of her own rescue as well.  Princess Leia stole the heart of a “scruffy-looking nerf herder” named Han Solo, and led the Rebellion and the Resistance in their darkest hours.  Without our Princess Leia, General Leia would have never been created.

Please, never, ever forget the princess version of Leia.  The character shows young girls and young boys that just because you might be a pretty little princess in name, you can be a fearless warrior in action.

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Carrie Fisher was a lovely woman both inside and out.  She was raw, honest, and exceptionally humorous as well.  Fisher’s death brought a tear to my eye.  Not because the world lost an actress that portrayed a beloved character, but like Leonard Nimoy, she was a  beloved human being, warts and all.

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Carrie Fisher will be sorely missed.  Few actors and actresses live lives that are bolder than those of the characters that they portray.  For a woman that portrayed the daughter of one of the most feared Sith Lords of all time and the brother of the Jedi that brought balance back to the Force, Fisher was truly a bold person in reality.

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May the Force be with you Carrie Fisher.  Rest in peace.

Burning With Style!

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Paper And Pencils On Fire!

Life can be a real jerk sometimes.  A few weeks ago I promised our latest heat-seeking answer man, Frederick Bernard Roseman, that I would post his replies to my latest Ten Burning Questions by the end of the week before Christmas.  Life derailed that plan, so I’m going to try and make it up to him by having his Ten Burning Questions be my first post of 2017!  He’s the man behind Kaz-Magic Arts, and he’s got something to say!

Here are his extremely awesome and thoughtful answers:

1. First off, tell us a little bit about Kaz-Magic. What is it all about?

Kaz-Magic is freelance art business I created back in 2009. It was originally just a signature I put on my work after I developed my artist name, Kazaa Kai. It ranges from traditional and digital art to photography, logo design, etc.

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2. Who are some of your biggest influences as an artist? How have they influenced you?

My influences would include Leonardo Davinci, Kenneth Rockafort, and Japanese manga artist, Oh Great! (that’s what he calls himself). They use such great colors and have a great flow of creativity. The details of their designs really sets up the inspiration of you wanting to grow more as you learn new things.

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3. Darth Vader, Darth Maul, or Darth Tyrannus? Who would you want to have backing you in a fight?

I love Darth Vader, but I would have to go with Darth Maul. I’ve learned four styles of martial arts and can work a bo staff. So to me thats kung fu chaos waiting to happen. Lol…

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4. Which medium do you prefer to use in order to create art?

I prefer paper and pencils a little more than digital. Although digital does help with lowering expenses on art materials, you never forget where you truly learned to create. Plus, I like for my fingers to get dirty when I conjure up something.

5. You can only choose one: Batmobile, KITT, or the A-Team van. Which do you choose and why?

Oh man. That’s actually a good one. I adore the Batmobile though. My father bought me a remote control Tim Burton version when I was a preteen. I felt like such badass. So my reason for that would be two words: ROAD RAGE!

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6. The Incredible Hulk’s tailor or Harley Quinn’s psychiatrist, which would be the tougher job and why?

I’m full of such bad influences. So I would have to go with Harley’s. I don’t mind helping people with their problems, but good lord I have my limits.  Lol…

7. Which characters (from any comic book) would be on your Suicide Squad? Why?

GHOST from Dark Horse comics. She was such an underrated heroine and I was very interested in seeing more about her when I had the opportunity to get a comic of her’s. Plus I just now thought of doing a fanart of her with my Black Cauldrun. So be on the lookout for that in the future. But my other picks would be, The Darkness, Angela, Bane, a couple of WILDCATS members, and Madam Mirage.

I think that would be a good match.

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8. Of all of your work over the years, what has been your most satisfying piece to complete? It would be my exclusive artwork I had done for JXN Con dealing with my Hybrid Children series. It will forever remind of my con debut and the path I continued forward with.

9. How many conventions, if any, do you attend in an average year?

So far its been two due to finances, but I am working my way to be able to go to more.

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10. If you could meet one artist, who would it be and why?

It would be Oh Great!. I am a big fan of his work in Tenjho Tenge and Air Gear. He has other notable works, but he really knows how to bring his characters to life. He is really inspiring me to become better with myself as an artist.

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Artwork by Frederick Bernard Roseman.

Super, mega bonus questions: Where can you be reached if anybody would like to check out more of your work? Please list any webpages or social media pages that you would like to share.

FACEBOOK: Kaz-Magic Arts

INSTAGRAM: kaz_m_arts

YOUTUBE: Kaz-Magic Arts

WEBSITE:  http://kazmagicarts.wixsite.com/kazmarts

So, there you have it.  One of the coolest Ten Burning Questions that I’ve ever posted in my opinion.  I want to thank Frederick for taking time out of his busy day to answer Ten Burning Questions.  He gave some great answers.

Be sure to check out all of his links above and if you see him at a convention, buy some of his work!

As always, thanks for reading.  I promise to post more often this year.  In fact, I still have to post a few thoughts on Carrie Fisher and on Star Wars:  Rogue One.  Until next time, stay cool!

 

Heating Up The South!

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Somewhere in Mighty Mississippi

The southern United States isn’t necessarily the first place that comes to mind whenever someone mentions geek culture, but geek culture is definitely thriving in key parts of the South.  Almost all of the southern states have successful fan-run conventions.  Some states, such as Louisiana and Mississippi, have multiple successful fan-run events.  Larger cities in the South have attracted the likes of Wizard World as well.

With that in mind, I decided to pose Ten Burning Questions to Tim Nicholas.  He’s one half of the dynamic duo that heads up Southern Geek Fest, a fan-run convention that’s celebrating its second year in 2017.  It takes place in Hattiesburg, and I was fortunate enough to attend the first SGF, and I have to admit that it was an excellent event.  You can read more about my time at that event here.  I’ve been friends with the second member of that duo, Rafe White, for quite a while now, but I’m still getting to know Tim, so I showed no mercy to him with these Ten Burning Questions!

Read on to find out some juicy tidbits about Tim and Southern Geek Fest!

1. You’re a big part of Southern Geek Fest. What exactly do you do with that convention?

Along with Rafe White, I am one of two promoters. At our last SGF, I was in charge of vendor relations, floor planning, volunteers and a hundred other things. Basically I do everything that Rafe doesn’t do.

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2. Rafe White or Snow White? Who is the bigger diva?

Rafe is definitely the biggest diva!! He is constantly needy. I think he made an SGF volunteer pick out all the yellow M&Ms before he would eat the bag.

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The Dynamic Duo of Southern Geek Fest, Tim Nicholas (L) and Rafe White (R).

3. Which celebrity have you always wanted to meet but haven’t had the opportunity to see in person?

Jackie Chan is probably highest on my list right now.

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4. What is the most fun part of running a convention?

It has to be all the women throwing themselves at your feet!! Wait, that was a dream I had. The fun when running a con happened for me after the show, getting the feedback from all the attendees and vendors that we put on a good show.

5. What is the toughest thing about running a convention?

The unexpected. All the multiple fires that had to be extinguished.

6. Black Sabbath with Ozzy or Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio? Who do you prefer and why?

Sabbath with Ozzy. I love Dio, but I’m all the way Ozzy!!

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7. Read any good comics lately? What is your favorite title?

I really haven’t read anything lately. I keep telling myself that I need to get back into comics, but I just haven’t done it.

8. What is your favorite fandom and why?

I’m a huge Trekkie and I love Fantasy novels . Star Trek was a favorite of my parents. I guess them introducing it to me as a child made me love it for my entire life. When I was in high school, a local video store went out of business. I took every dollar a could get together and bought the entire original series on VHS from them. I still have all those VHS’s.

9. In your opinion, has The Walking Dead jumped the shark? Why?

I don’t think so yet. This season has not been very good so far, but I think they are trying to move the show in a different direction. You can’t turn the Titanic on a dime, and I think the same thing goes for mega shows like Walking Dead.

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10. A volcano is about to blow and the only way to save the village at the foot of the mountain is to blast Miley Cyrus tunes at the lava? Do you crank up the Cyrus or die a painful death?

“Came in like a wrecking ball!!!”

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Mega, happy, deluxe bonus question: Is there a webpage or social media pages where folks can learn more about Southern Geek Fest? If so, share them here and I’ll include links!

Facebook group at Southern Geek 

Our webpage is southerngeekfest.com

@SGeekFest on Twitter and Instagram.

I hope that everyone enjoyed reading about Tim and Southern Geek Fest.  For the record, this is the first time that Miley Cyrus will be featured on a tag in one of my posts.  Thanks for that, Tim.  Be sure to click on all of the links above and follow Southern Geek Fest to get the latest on their wonderful event.

As always, thanks for reading.  I have a few more victims lined up for Ten Burning Questions, and I’ll be getting to them very soon!

A Galaxy On Fire!

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A Long Time Ago, In Mississippi

From Rancors to ghosts to Gotham’s toughest villains, the brave soul that’s stepping up to answer Ten Burning Questions, Karen Camp, has her hands full!  She faced down all ten questions with the bravery of Princess Leia, and gave me some great answers.

Here are Karen’s Ten Burning Questions:

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1. DDK found out that you’re part of the Mississippi Mandalorians. Could you tell us a little bit about this group?

The Mississippi Mandalorians are a Star Wars based fan group. We have members who cosplay and those who don’t. We try to help raise money with different charities anytime possible. Mostly we are just a bunch of geeks who like to get together as often as possible and geek out.

2. Who puts the “Man” in Mandalorian, Boba Fett, Jango Fett, or someone else?

Boba Fett, most definitely!

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3. Are you a part of any other groups, cosplay or otherwise? (click each group to go to their Facebook page)

I’m a member of : Dead South Horror, Gotham Rogues, Mississippi Metahumans, 501st Rancor Raiders, and I’m a member of Mississippi Paranormal Research Institute.

4. Darth Talon or Mara Jade? Who wins that fight and how do they do it?

Mara Jade wins. One good force slam into a wall, then a clean slice across her neck with her purple light saber.

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5. The zombie apocalypse has begun! Name three characters that you want by your side when it all goes downhill!

Daryl Dixon, Rick Grimes, Michonne.

6. Do you collect anything nerdy or geeky? If you do, what is it?

I collect anything Luke Skywalker. I have other Star Wars pieces as well. My main item is a life size Han Solo in Carbonite.

7. Should the Star Wars prequels be rebooted or left as they are, warts and all?

The prequels should definitely be left alone. The Phantom Menace was the first Star Wars movie I saw on the big screen. It is what made me fall in love with a galaxy far far away.

8. You’re stranded on a dark highway. Which of these characters would you rather have by your side: Batman, Rick Grimes, or Howard the Duck?

Rick Grimes.  Hopefully he will take me to Daryl Dixon.

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9. What are some of your favorite conventions to attend?

My favorite conventions are the Star Wars Celebration, Texas Frightmare, and of course Southern Geek Fest.

10. If you could live on any planet in the Star Wars universe, which one would you pick and why?

I would choose to live on Coruscant, but it would be the Coruscant from the EU. I know it’s not canon anymore, but I wanna live on the Coruscant with the Jedi Temple. The one with Luke Skywalker as the Jedi Grand Master.

Mega happy, super bonus question: Do you or the Mississippi Mandalorians have a webpage or social media pages that you’d like to share?  Karen provided links to all of the groups that she is a part of.  To visit any of them, simply click on the links in questions above.

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I want to give a big thank you to Karen for answering Ten Burning Questions.  I have two more interviewees waiting in the wings and will post their answers in the very near future.  I also want to thank all of you for taking time to read this post.

Not to steal any of Karen’s thunder, I also want to briefly address the death of Carrie Fisher.  As many of you know, our lovely princess passed away today, 12/27/2016.  She will be greatly missed.

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I plan on doing a more in depth post about Carrie Fisher in the near future.  Rest in peace, beautiful lady.

Again, thanks for reading.  See you all at a convention soon!

A Wolf In Flames!

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The Single Most Important Artist That I’ve Ever Met (I’ll get to why later)

Ten Burning Questions has returned!  I plan on having a few new question answering souls over the next few days, so stay tuned.  First up is Michael Granger, an artist, graphic designer, and a friend of mine.  He stepped up to the plate and let his artwork do the talking with his Ten Burning Questions!!!!

Here are his answers!

1. My readers may not know this, but you created DDK’s standard cover photo over on Facebook (it’s currently a Christmasy Spider-Man but will revert after the holidays). Have you designed things for other major celebrities and/or people of note?

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I’ve designed a banner for Southern Geek Fest 1 guest, actor John Mangus which was a pretty cool experience! Thanks to Rafe White & Tim Nicholas (of Southern Geek Fest), I got to do most of the guest announcements for Southern Geek Fest One as well as the guest/vendor/artist/admin badges. Scott Hambach is handling all the graphics for SGF2.  I also did the poster for Harvest Night, a horror short by Joey Crocker.

2. Tell us a little bit about LONEWOLF Designs. Whaddya do?

What little design knowledge I have I put towards making geek or horror themed designs for shirts, stickers, etc. mostly geek stuff from Star Wars, Firefly, Doctor Who, etc.

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3. Are you a lone wolf, or is that just a little intelligent marketing?

No one has ever accused me of being clever before lol. I’m pretty much a lonewolf. My first tattoo I ever got even says it. But I’ve learned to learn from my betters and to try to keep pushing the level. Ever since I was very young I’ve had this fascination bordering on obsession with wolves and it’s pretty much synonymous with me.

4. Who is your favorite DC superhero and why?

He may be overliked but I would have to go with Batman. He’s dark and troubled but also on a mission. Supes was born with power. Batman doesn’t have powers but instead uses tactics, stealth and martial arts prowess which I respect. That’s what makes him truly dangerous.

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5. You’re stuck in traffic. Your only source of entertainment is a radio that catches two stations. One station plays nothing but new country and the other plays contemporary jazz. Which one do you choose?

Jazz if I must. Not a country fan from any era, lol.

6. Beast Man (Masters of the Universe), Beast (X-men), or Chewbacca. Who would be the best spokesperson for Loreal?

While Storm liked what Beast did with his hair, I would have to go with the walking carpet, Chewbacca. He would be the perfect full body spokesman for the power of a good conditioner, lol.

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7. Doctor Doom, Doctor Octopus, or Doctor Strange? Which one would you rather receive a full physical examination from and why?

Doom. Not only is he a genius but he is skilled as a sorcerer and I imagine studied anatomy as a way to exploit the weaknesses of his foes. But the cold armor, brrr. No prostate exam this time Doom.

8. Do you collect anything nerdy? If so, what do you collect?

I have a few Funko Pops, but stuff from Star Wars to comics such as my boy, Wolverine (fav marvel character) such as a Wolverine #1 that’s totally legit, Ghostbusters comics and memorabilia, artwork from local artists such as Gavin Michelli, David Bain, Ken Davis, Courtney Vice and others. I’m also a console gamer.

9. What’s the last album that you listened to from beginning to end?

I usually float from Pandora station to station but probably the latest album from Killswitch Engage.

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10. Who is one of the biggest influences on your work? Why?

Pretty much every artist I’ve come across, lol. Yeah, that’s a vague answer, but one I consider my mentor is Jason Reeves. He helped me to see that it’s good to be geek and his work influenced my own.

Super-duper, double bonus question: Where can we find you on the web? Do you have any webpages or social media links you’d like to share?

Shameless plug time: www.redbubble.com/people/lonewolfdesigns and you can also search Facebook for my Lonewolf Designs page. Look for the blue tribal wolf logo or click here.

Well, that’s all of the questions that I have for now.  I want to thank Michael Granger for braving Ten Burning Questions.  In the very near future I’ll be taking on a few other people.

As always, thanks for reading.  Keep an eye on this page for more exciting stuff very soon!

 

Haven’t I Seen This Before?

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Again…And One More Time

I recently posed a question to my readers via Facebook asking them what topics they would like me to blog about.  Of the thousands of requests (okay, just two) that I received, I decided to go with Hollywood’s recent surplus of reboots, rewrites, re-imagined stories (my personal favorite), and updated versions of classic tales.

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Two films immediately came to mind:  Ghostbusters (2016) and the upcoming Skull Island film featuring Tom Hiddleston of Thor fame.  While I don’t know much about the latter just yet, we all know how lukewarm the reception was of the recent paranormal reboot starring Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy.  I found the film somewhat lacking, and praised Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon for saving the film from being terrible.

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But whenever these films popped into my brain, it made me realize something that I’ve always apparently known but never put much thought into over the years:

Hollywood has been rebooting films, franchises, characters, and shows from the beginning.

Think about it.  How many films have been produced over the years that either feature the character of King Kong or happen to be spin-offs of the character?  Most people recognize and/or remember the classic 1933 film, the 1976 remake featuring Jeff Bridges, and the long, drawn out reboot from Peter Jackson in 2005, but how many of you knew that there have been at least nine major films released featuring King Kong?  How many of you knew that Kong was also the inspiration for Mighty Joe Young (which has also been rebooted) and other giant gorilla films?  Also, there have been cartoons, books, etc. that keep regurgitating the same general man vs. monster tale over and over and over.

If that doesn’t convince you that Hollywood keeps using the same characters (and stories) over and over, let’s look at just one of the Universal Monsters.  The Wolf Man (1941) is my favorite classic horror film.  It spawned a number of sequels and wasn’t actually the first film from Universal that featured a werewolf (that would be 1935’s Werewolf Of London).  A 2010 remake of the classic was released and starred Benicio del Toro.  While I enjoyed the remake, it couldn’t beat the original.  Audiences were mixed on the film and a sequel was put to rest.

Prior to this, Universal threw the Wolf Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein into 2004’s Van Helsing as an attempt to revive interest in the classic characters.  The film was a financial success, but didn’t stick with most audiences.  Universal is once again trying to revive their classic monsters in a new shared universe similar to the Marvel cinematic universe that will supposedly start with the release of The Mummy in 2017 (but Universal had shared universes featuring their classic monsters WAY before Marvel ever did).  The star of The Mummy (which Universal has already successfully rebooted with four films featuring Brendan Fraser starting in 1999) will be Tom Cruise, who is no stranger to reboots himself.  Cruise has been part of the successful Mission: Impossible film series based upon the hit TV series (which itself was rebooted on the small screen) and a remake of the classic War of the Worlds which has been remade multiple times as well.

A number of television shows have been rebooted and/or remade as well.  Along with Mission: Impossible, the 1970’s classic Battlestar Galactica was reimagined into a highly successful series in 2004 that lasted for four seasons and spawned Caprica and Blood and ChromeKnight Rider, The Odd Couple, and even Full House are just a few of the television series that have been revived or rebooted over the years.  Heck, I don’t even want to start talking about films that were spawned from classic television shows such as Lost in Space, The Flintstones, and The Twilight Zone.

The Island of Dr. Moreau is another film that was rebooted, albeit with a very, very bizarre take on the H.G. Wells classic.  Heck, H.G. Wells’ work alone has spawned multiple remakes and reboots.  War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man have all been remade multiple times and have also been used as the basis for other films as well.

Then there are the superheroes. Tons…..of….superheroes.  In the last fourteen years there have been three different actors (Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland) portraying Spider-Man in six different films.  The seventh film is on the way in the near future.

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Eric Bana, Edward Norton, and Mark Ruffalo have turned green as the Hulk in four films (a fifth is on the way) since 2003.  There have been three Fantastic Four films since 2005 featuring two sets of actors as the first family of comics.  Since 1989 (and not including animated stories), Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, Christian Bale, and Ben Affleck have all donned the cape and cowl of Batman, all in stand alone films (excepting Affleck, who shared a title with Henry Cavill’s Superman but, you guessed it, his stand alone film is coming soon).

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Hollywood is superhero crazy at the moment, and while the characters may change, the source material doesn’t.  I see no end in sight for the multiple comic-based superhero films out there.

In short, there is nothing new under the Hollywood sign.  It is, was, and always will be the home of remakes, reboots, rebrands, and re-imaginings.  Hollywood has borrowed, stolen, and transferred stories from other films, television, books, and even amusement park rides (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, The Country Bear Jamboree, and Tomorrowland, to name a few).

Reboots are nothing new, and they’ll be here long after I’m gone.

As always, thanks for reading.  This is just a small sampling of reboots and remakes.  Feel free to add your own to the list in the comments section below.

 

Saa-Winggg, Battahh, Battahh!

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Pee-Pee Pants City

Unless you’ve been under a massive rock for the last six months, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about a dude named Negan and his girlfriend, Lucille (she’s not really his girlfriend, for you non-TWD fans).  You might not even be a fan of The Walking Dead, but I’m sure that you have at least one friend who is that hasn’t shut up about it recently.

In any case, let me get you up to speed if you don’t know what is going on with the TWD season opener.  Basically, last season ended with a cliffhanger.  It was a glorious cliffhanger in my opinion because it baited folks for the season seven opener.  That’s what cliffhangers do.  Despite no new shows (unless you count the forgettable Fear The Walking Dead), TWD stayed in the headlines on a lot of social media and entertainment pages because everybody was trying to figure out who met the business end of Negan’s barbed-wire wrapped bat, Lucille.  There were a lot of other people (products of the instant gratification age) griping that the cliffhanger was the worst possible way to end the season because they didn’t know who died.  Yet I’m pretty sure that all of them showed up on Sunday night to find out what really went down.

Well, Sunday night finally arrived and we all got the answer.  Sure, folks who’ve read the comics had a pretty good idea about who might meet their demise, but the show has been known to go off on wild tangents in the past just to keep things interesting.  There are characters that have died early on in the series that are either still alive or died later in the comics and a few characters have been knocked off in place of other characters.

Warning:  Reading beyond this point means spoilers await you.  STOP READING NOW if you do not wish to find out who died in the season seven opener!!!

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The latest episode brought us back to Negan’s world, where he has a whole bunch of Rick’s group on their knees.  Some are scared, some defiant, and none of them knowing what to do.  Negan is pacing in front of the group and explaining to them in fairly clear terms that he must punish one of them for stepping out of line in his world.  In his hand is Lucille, his beloved dealer of punishment, and he begins to play a game of Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo with the group (just like at the end of last season).  He points his bat at each member of the group and finally makes his selection.  He swings, compliments his victim for taking it like a champ, and then swings some more.  Crunches, screams, tears, groans.  All are present while the beating is going down.

The show managed to carry out the suspense for a bit longer thanks to flashbacks to the events that lead up to the thrashing.  We also see Rick tell Negan that he is going to kill him…..eventually.  This leads Negan to take Rick for a ride in the RV and then proceed to verbally and mentally torture him throughout the rest of the episode.  This particular string of events has become quite controversial, as well as the violence shown on screen during the beatings, but I’ll get to both later.

The victim, if you don’t already know, is Abraham.  Before his untimely demise, he manages to flash a peace sign at Sasha, which makes her break down into even more tears.  Negan proceeds to pound in Abraham’s skull.  We are only shown a couple of the whacks on Abe’s noggin before they cut to Negan’s face and an occasional glimpse of Lucille as she becomes laced with gore.  The production uses sounds to deliver the gruesomeness of the scene, and they do so with perfection.

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But wait!  There’s more!

Whenever Abraham goes down, a lot of people are understandably upset.  The character has quickly become a fan favorite during his run on the show, and Michael Cudlitz has given us more one-liners in his time with the cast than pretty much all of the others combined.  Cudlitz also seems to be a genuinely cool dude in real life, so seeing his character go was tough.

However, The Walking Dead has always killed off fan favorites.  This is nothing new.  It’s the nature of the show and I highly doubt that it’s going to change any time soon.  Yes, Abraham and his brilliant “dolphin smooth” phrases are gone, but life goes on.

After Abraham’s death, many folks gave out sighs of relief because their favorite, whether it was Daryl, Carl, Maggie, or one of the other members of Rick’s crew, were still breathing.  But Negan wasn’t finished with them yet.

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We bounce back to Negan’s torture of Rick for a little bit and we witness him break down everybody’s favorite zombie apocalypse deputy even more.  Negan is relentless, forcing Rick to go after his ax amongst a horde of walkers engulfed in fog.

Then we cut back to the lineup and we find Negan realizing that he just pounded in the skull of Rosita’s former lover.  He begins to taunt her and this pushes Daryl to the limit.  He jumps at Negan but is quickly subdued.  Negan’s men hold Daryl down and Dwight aims Daryl’s crossbow at him.  But Daryl lives to fight another day as Negan tells his men to put Daryl back in the lineup.

That’s when the shocker happens.

Negan reminds the group that he let the first attack on him slide because it was a very emotional time for the group.  But this second attack would not go unpunished.  Negan pontificates a little bit more about his rules and then, out of nowhere, he pops Glenn in the noggin.  This actually caught me off guard.  I wasn’t expecting a second death (despite having caught wind that multiple cast members might be dying in the season opener.

Negan continues to pound on poor Glenn, even making one of his eyes pop out of the socket.  Glenn tells Maggie that he’ll find her and then he succumbs to the multiple swings of Lucille.

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But that’s STILL not all!

Negan continues his torture of Rick.  He forces Carl to the ground and draws a line across  the arm of Rick’s son.  He then gives Rick his ax and tells him to cut off Carl’s arm at the line.  Rick is at a loss.  We get to see him fall to pieces and beg Negan to let him cut his own arm off (hinting at a moment in the comic that involved the Governor).  Negan pushes on, demanding that Rick do it or he’ll bash in Carl’s head with Lucille.  Carl tells his father to “just do it” and Rick lifts the ax, only to be stopped by Negan at the last moment.

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I immediately thought of the Old Testament story of Abraham and his son, Isaac.  For those of you who don’t know, Abraham’s faith is being tested by God, and He asks Abraham to kill his own son when no other sacrificial animal is available.  Abraham then proceeds to bind Isaac and is about to kill him whenever an angel stops him.

Perhaps this event during the show was meant to show the god-like power that Negan held over not only Rick, but his entire group.  It also could have been meant as a nod to the Biblical story and Abraham, who had been killed by Negan.  Perhaps it was just director Greg Nicotero’s way of making people talk even more about a show that seemingly everyone is talking about????

In any case, Rick is broken, Glenn and Abraham are dead, and the group finds themselves at a point where they have no plan of action and no real way of winning….at the moment.  Maggie, despite just witnessing the death of a friend and of the father of her child and being sick due to complications with her pregnancy, picks herself up and tells Rick that they have to go back to Alexandria and figure out a way to fight Negan.  The group carries off their deceased friends, and the episode ends.

The Aftermath (And My Two Cents)

I know of no other episode that has caused as much friction with the fans as this one.  Many people have publicly decried the episode for its violence despite the fact that there have been decapitations, people ripped apart while alive, machetes through skulls, the shooting of children, and many other violent acts throughout the entirety of the series.  Others have complained that the payoff for the cliffhanger wasn’t satisfactory because (all of a sudden) they knew who was going to die in the first place and that the last six months of speculation were wasted.  Some have even gone so far as to say that the show has become a “kill of the week” series, where character development has died and gore and violence have become to focus.

To all of those people I say, “Where have you been?”

From the beginning this series has been about the living characters (the real Walking Dead).  We’ve witnessed Rick go from being an honest and ethical man to a person who is forced to do things that he doesn’t want to do but must in order to survive.  We’ve seen him make good choices, bad choices, and a few stupid moves as well.  He’s learned from all of them.  He’s gone a bit crazy at times as well, but who can really blame him?

We’ve seen Carol go from a meek, domestically abused mother to the literal mother of all butt kickers.  She, too, went a little crazy, but I’m sure she’s going to be back on track soon enough.

Carl, Abraham, T-Dogg, Merle, Maggie, Daryl, Glenn, Beth, Eugene, Lori, Andrea, Morgan, Deanna, Lizzie, and almost every other character that had any decent amount of screen time was changed in some way.  That’s still happening with characters like Enid, Gabriel, and even Dwight.  If you don’t see these characters developing, you’re looking in the wrong direction and focusing on the violence.

For those of you that feel cheated by the cliffhanger ending and/or the cliffhanger payoff, I have to ask you what did you really expect?  The cliffhanger was meant to force you to talk about the series while it was on its break.  You say that you felt manipulated?  Yep, you were.  That’s what cliffhangers do.  You felt like something bigger should have happened?  Exactly how many skulls did Negan need to bash in to get his point across to you that he is a bad man?  Why did Glenn or Abraham have to die?  Hello!  Zombie apocalypse where all sense of order has broken down?!?!?!?

Yes, the episode was extremely violent, but I’d bet you ten dollars that the people griping about the lack of character development were also the same ones griping that episodes that focused on one character (like the Morgan episode) weren’t violent enough.  Also, Negan’s character developed more and more with each swing of the bat.  It was violent character development, and I’m pretty sure that we all now know just how nasty Negan can be without a doubt!

Also, for all of those people that instantly claimed that they called the death of two characters, I highly doubt that you actually picked them both.  Sure, you might have called Glenn’s death or Abraham’s death, but I seriously doubt that many people actually thought that Negan was going to kill two people from the lineup.  Sheesh, the interwebz can fluster me so easily sometimes!

I’m sorry.  I had to get on my soapbox for a bit there.  I promise that I’m finished for the moment.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Well, once the dust settles on this latest season opener of The Walking Dead, we have this guy to look forward to:

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You see?  That’s how this show has always worked.  Characters live.  Characters die.  New characters arrive to add to the story.  The season opener was pretty good, but I definitely think that the rest of this season of The Walking Dead has a whole lot more surprises waiting for us.

Are you ready?

As always, thanks for reading.  Comment below if you disagree with me (and I bet that a few of you do) and feel free to share this post with your friends.  Oh, and here’s a photo of me and Steven Yeun from a few years ago.  He was a cool dude and I’ll miss him on the show.  Thanks for being a great part of the show, Steven!

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