CyPhaCon 2019

Lake Charles, LA

CyPhaCon kicked off its ninth year on Friday, April 12th, at the Lake Charles Civic Center. I was unable to attend on that day but from what I heard, the crowd was larger than a normal Friday for the convention. I arrived on Saturday morning to a line of people filling up the lobby of the Civic Center waiting to purchase tickets or to pick up their prepaid passes.

The convention had programming running throughout the day including panels on multiple subjects. Panels included author presentations, celebrity Q&A sessions, gaming, cosplay instructional presentations, vintage geek fandoms, and much more. I hosted a panel on DC Universe’s Doom Patrol. There was also a gaming tournament hosted by Scion E-Sports.

Celebrity guests included Bruce Boxleitner, Caitlin Glass, Andrew Robinson, Todd Haberkorn, and Rekha Sharma. I didn’t visit with any of them but their lines were fairly busy throughout the convention, especially Mr. Haberkorn’s line. I intended on getting an autograph from Ms. Sharma on Sunday, but she had to leave unexpectedly for work and wasn’t able to return to the convention.

There were quite a few fan groups, costuming groups, artists, and authors on the second and third floor of the Civic Center. I spent most of my time visiting with them. There were some excellent artists at the event.

CyPhaCafe provided excellent food at very reasonable prices (especially for a convention). This company has provided concessions for CyPhaCon for quite a few years now and their service really stands out from other convention concessions. Instead of standard hot dogs and nachos (although they do provide those items), CyPhaCafe offers loaded baked potatoes, po-boys, seafood options, pulled pork sandwiches, and more.

The convention’s cosplay contest, which always draws a big crowd, did not disappoint. There were many excellent costumes on display and the hostess, Ms. Oo La La, emceed the event with great flair. Speaking of Ms. Oo La La, she was just one of many featured cosplayers including Little Red Fox Cosplay and INeedSugar. Spidey Team was also on hand as were plenty of other cosplay pros and amateurs.

The convention also included a rotating display of vehicles including two Ghostbusters inspired vehicles and a Blues Brothers car. Ecteaux One was especially cool.

CyPhaCon is promoted as an anime, gaming, and science fiction convention, but the crowd that it draws leans more towards anime than gaming or sci-fi. As expected, the vendors cater to anime fans because of this fact and I don’t blame them one bit. There weren’t many attendees cosplaying as comic book or science fiction characters, but I did see a few of them. One of my favorites was a young lady cosplaying Raven from DC Comics.

Attendance was very good as expected, but a severe weather threat in the area seemed to keep the crowd a little bit smaller on Saturday than I’ve seen in past years. I’m already excited about next year’s event, as it will be the convention’s tenth anniversary. Hopefully they are planning something big for their first decade celebration.

I hope to attend the Greater Austin Comic Con in June but those plans are still in the air. If I do go, I plan on checking out the Cybertronic Spree’s live performance. They’ve really impressed me on YouTube and from what friends have said, they are even better live. Ray Park, Ric Flair, Adrian Paul, Karan Ashley, and Larry Hama are just a few of the guests that are scheduled to be in attendance.

As always, thanks for reading. I’m sure that I’ll be attending CyPhaCon again next year just as I’ve done almost every year prior unless something insane happens. I’ll have a Doom Patrol episode review later this week and possibly a Pet Sematary or Hellboy film review, too.

Shazam! Lights Up The Big Screen

Just Say The Word

Some superheroes are instantly recognized by most members of society. The general public can quickly point out Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and the Incredible Hulk, but beyond these sacred few (and prior to the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe), most comic book characters are known only by comic book readers and the occasional viewer of a cartoon or animated film that remembers when a hero like Blue Beetle or Jubilee happened to be a part of a team in the show.

Some heroes have come to prominence thanks to successful films such as Iron Man, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and, to a lesser degree, heroes such as Blade, the Watchmen, and Ghost Rider. One oddball that seems to rise to the top of the heap and then slink back to the bottom is Captain Marvel or, as he’s known today, Shazam!

Originally a property of Fawcett Comics and eventually becoming a DC Comics Property, Captain Marvel was one of the first comic book superheroes to appear on the big screen. Frank Coghlan, Jr. portrayed Billy Batson and Tom Tyler starred as his alter ego, Captain Marvel, in The Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941). It was a twelve chapter serial that was highly successful and very popular in its day. It is considered one of the best serials ever produced by many critics and fans as well.

Captain Marvel was the most popular comic book in the 1940’s, but he was eventually put on the backburner due to a legal battle between DC Comics and Fawcett over the character’s abilities that closely resembled Superman’s power set. He would return to the page and arrived on the small screen in the 1970’s, but due to legal issues over the name Captain Marvel (now copyrighted and owned by Marvel Comics), the books and shows featuring the character were titled Shazam!

DC Comics officially made the character’s name Shazam during the New 52 relaunch and the character has managed to remain mildly popular on the printed page and in animated films until his feature film arrived in April of 2019. If the film’s success is any indication, Shazam might remain at or near the top of the superhero heap for awhile.

No Spoilers In The Following Review!

Starring Zachary Levi as Shazam, Asher Angel as Billy Batson, Mark Strong as Dr. Sivana, and Jack Dylan Grazer as Billy’s best friend and foster brother, Freddy Freeman, Shazam! wastes little time giving us the origin story of the antagonist (Sivana) and of Billy Batson/Shazam. The film is essentially a coming of age story in which the hero comes of age at the utterance of the word, “Shazam.”

Angel does a great job of conveying the good intentions of Batson even when the outcome of his actions aren’t always ideal. We quickly get attached to the character and his foster family in the film. Once he gains the power of Shazam, passed to him by the wizard of the same name (hammed up by Djimon Honsou), Billy has to adjust not only to being an adult (at least visually), but also to becoming a hero.

As expected, Billy screws up a lot. He and Freddy devise a plan to learn what exactly his newfound powers are and the entire scheme is played out for laughs in the film. Billy also buys beer and goes to an adult club and reacts exactly as a fifteen year old kid would react.

Zachary Levi looks like he’s having a blast portraying a kid in an adult’s body. He gives a great performance that reminds me of Tom Hanks in Big. In fact, Shazam! gives that film a big nod in one of the Shazam/Sivana fight scenes. The entire film has an 80’s vibe to it despite taking place in modern times. There’s a ton of humor and a couple of genuinely scary moments (younger children may not be able to handle one particular scene) that triggered memories of films like The Goonies, Gremlins, and The Monster Squad. Heck, even the music score sounds like it could have been made in the 1980’s.

When Dr. Sivana faces off with Shazam for the first time, he doesn’t quite know how to react to the Big Red Cheese. He brutally attacks Shazam, but is met with a defense that includes running, throwing toys, and a few smart aleck comments. Billy/Shazam must learn from his mistakes and ultimately realizes that he might not be able to face Sivana on his own.

The film is a nice break from the seriousness of Marvel Studios’ recent offerings (Avengers: Infinity War, Captain Marvel, and the upcoming Avengers: Endgame) and is a perfect follow up to DC’s Aquaman. Shazam references DC Comics a lot. From toys in the film to comics and even paraphernalia collected by Freddy, it’s obvious that this is a DC movie.

This is a very fun film. It is loyal to its source material (the New 52 and beyond version) and knows just how to use that material to its advantage. Shazam may not be the most popular hero in DC history, but he’s definitely one of the most fun ones. Other than those aforementioned scary moments, this is a very family friendly film and if you’ve never taken your child to see a superhero movie at the cinema, this is the movie to go see!

Thanks for reading my post. I highly recommend this film. It’s the best superhero film so far this year and unless Endgame or Spider-Man: Far From Home does something completely insane and out of the ordinary, it might just be the best comic book film of 2019!


Doom Patrol Episode #8

Danny Patrol

In what is quite possibly the happiest episode of the season so far, Doom Patrol finally manages to put a smile on Larry’s face. All of the characters have progressed to some point over the season, but Larry/Negative Man (Matt Bomer, Matthew Zuk) has basically been fighting the same demons the entire time.

Spoilers Ahead!!!

This episode finds Larry and Victor (Joivan Wade) on a mission to connect with one of the most unique characters in the Doom Patrol canon: Danny The Street. No, Danny The Street isn’t a mob-style nickname, Danny is literally a street that survives off of the happiness of those that live on him. He’s also a genderqueer being with the power to teleport to any location in the world. This is a handy power considering the fact that the Bureau of Normalcy is after him and all of his inhabitants. One particular citizen, Maura Lee Karupt (Alan Mingo, Jr.) is fighting a losing battle keeping the rest of the citizens happy. Having been on the run for years, teleporting has become a strain on Danny and it’s becoming harder for him to do so and thus evade the Bureau. Hoping that Niles (Timothy Dalton) can help, Danny calls on the Doom Patrol for assistance.

Victor and Larry inform Danny about Niles’ kidnapping and Danny begins to fear for his citizens. It is this dilemma that forces Larry to open up about himself. He actually SMILES in this episode and there’s a brilliant musical number that features Larry to boot. We get the best glimpse at a happy version of Larry than we’ve ever had in the entire season. He and Cyborg help Danny and Maura Lee battle the Bureau, and it’s a brilliant, heart-tugging confrontation.

The secondary plot features one of Jane’s (Diane Guerrero) most sadistic personalities. On the surface, “Karen” appears to be your standard domesticated sorority girl, but her true self is revealed whenever she forces the “love of her life,” a man that she has dumped numerous times, to marry her. Karen’s power is the ability to make anyone fall in love with her whether they want to or not. She uses this power to trick not only her beau, but his family and Rita (April Bowlby) as well. It’s up to Cliff (Brendan Fraser, Riley Shanahan) to stop the madness.

While Karen is putting her plan into action, there’s a touching side story featuring Cliff and a young boy (Jay Amir). The duo bond with one another in one of the best moments in the show. Soon enough, Cliff has to face off with Karen and in one of the toughest moments of the episode, Karen flies off the handle and her future and the future of all of Jane’s other personalities are left in limbo. Hopefully we’ll learn more about her situation on Friday when the new episode is released.

With the exception of Karen’s grim fate, this episode was a much needed dose of happiness in an otherwise depressing and dark series. While humor has been injected perfectly throughout the season, this episode helped lighten things, especially after the events that happened in the last two episodes. I’m sure that the show will go back to being a bit darker with the next episode, but Danny Patrol was just the type of fun that we (and the Patrol) needed to give us all a break from the norm. This is one of the best episodes of the season by far.

Thank you for reading my post. I can’t wait for Friday’s episode to see what happens next with the Patrol. This series is my favorite DC Universe original by far.

For those of you who happen to be attending CyPhaCon this weekend, I’ll be hosting a panel about the Doom Patrol in Room 5 at 2 P.M. Come say hello and let me know what you think about the show and the streaming service as a whole in person! I might have some goodies to give out as well!

CyPhaCon In Less Than Two Weeks!

Lake Charles, LA

Don’t forget that CyPhaCon is less than two weeks away! If you’re in the Lake Charles area, be sure to check out this excellent event. The party kicks off on Friday night at the Lake Charles Civic Center and lasts all weekend long.

If you happen to be in attendance on Sunday, I’ll be in Panel Room 5 at 2 PM presenting my panel, Doom Patrol: DC Universe’s Favorite Misfits. You can check out the event page here. I’ll be talking about one of my favorite DC Universe shows and giving attendees a breakdown of the main characters on the show. If you can make it, mark that you’re going on the event page.

I hope that I see some of you at CyPhaCon in a couple of weeks. I always enjoy meeting my readers and appreciate your input about my blog. I’ll have my regular Doom Patrol episode review at the end of this week and will hopefully have a Shazam! review for you over the weekend!