2022 In Review!

The Year That Lightning Struck!

2022 was certainly a banner year for my blog. I am deeply honored that so many of you read my posts and click on the photos that I share. It amazes me how people from all over the world check out my blog and put up with my silliness. This was a record-smashing year for my blog and I thank and love all of you for making this year so successful! Due to the massive success this year, I will be expanding and updating my blog at some point in 2023. Please be on the lookout for a few changes coming up in the near future.

Let’s take a look at the year’s most clicked pics:

Coming in at #1 is this photo of KISS and a few of their closest friends:

The second most clicked pic was this photo from the film Weird Science:

The third most clicked photo was surprising, as it’s of voice actor Hynden Walch:

Hynden Walch

Sitting at number four is this classic from Flash Gordon:

The fifth pic that my readers clicked on was this photo that I took of a Spin Master figure of Batman without his mask:

The sixth most clicked photo on my blog was this one of KISS with their second drummer, the late Eric Carr:

Number seven, for reasons that I don’t know (cough, cough), is this lovely still from Edward Scissorhands:

Number eight belongs to Christie Brinkley from National Lampoon’s Vacation:

The ninth most clicked photo from my blog this year was of KISS:

At number ten we have the lone returning photo from previous years. Ivy DoomKitty definitely touched a nerve with my readers as she has consistently appeared on this list ever since I first posted this photo from a post from November of 2020:

When it comes to my posts, last year’s winner and runner-up for views remained in first and second place, respectively. For some reason people really, really love my posts on the Wizards of Waverly Place and 3-2-1 Contact!. The post from 2022 that received the most views was my The Year Of KISS post that focused on their album Hotter Than Hell.

As far as overall views are concerned, 2022 blew every other year out of the water! In total my blog posts were viewed 22,745 times! That’s about twice as many views as it received in 2021. Last year I had three months with over one thousand views. This year I had over one thousand views for EVERY SINGLE MONTH! Of those months, five featured over two thousand views and August had a whopping 5,452 views! Thank you so much for these amazing numbers! I was only hoping for one or two months with more than two thousand views but all of you blew me away with your dedication to my blog!

People from sixty-nine different countries visited my blog this year! In first place was the United States of America with 14,571 views. That’s over twice as many views as the US gave me last year! The United Kingdom came in second with 1,494 views followed by Canada with 1,031 views. Australia and Germany chipped in over four hundred views apiece. Mexico and Brazil came next with over three hundred views each. 242 good people of France also checked out my blog. From there, countries like the Philippines, Ireland, India, Spain, and Russia viewed my posts just under two hundred times each. Thanks to all of you across the world for checking out my posts!

I fell three posts shy of my goal of one hundred and fifty posts this year. That’s okay, however, as I hope to reach that goal next year. I plan on writing more Throwback Thursday posts and plan on bringing back Dimestore Reads, Tunes, and November Noise. That will definitely get me close to my goal.

Google proved to be the primary way that people came across my blog this year. It was followed by Reddit, Google Image Search, WordPress Reader, Facebook, and two newcomers to the list, Twitter and Instagram.

This is the fifth year in a row where I had more views and more clicks on photos. THANK YOU!!!!!! I hope that I can continue to post interesting film, toy, book, and music reviews. I also plan to attend more conventions. Let me know if you want me to check out anything specific in 2023.

Again……THANK YOU!!!!!

The Year Of KISS: Monster (2012)

“Cause money makes the rules!”

KISS pulled their way back into the mainstream spotlight with Sonic Boom. Despite constant criticism from “fans” upset with the fact that Ace and Peter had been replaced by Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer, makeup and all, the group continued to tour successfully, selling out multiple shows and putting out more and more merchandise for KISS Army members and others to scoop up for their collections. While Sonic Boom was definitely worth the wait, fans wanted more. KISS appeared eager to comply. Gene Simmons constantly hinted at and teased at the notion that a new album was in the works. After a three year and three day wait and multiple delays, Monster was released on October 9, 2012.

Unlike Sonic Boom, Monster was not released exclusively by one retailer. Advertising was relatively limited to television, radio, and magazine interviews although the band did publish a literal “monster” book that stood three feet tall by two and a half feet wide that featured 127 pictures from the band’s long history. In true KISS fashion, only one thousand copies of each version of the book were released. There were ten country flag covers to choose from and each book featured a signature page with autographs from the current members of the band.

The album featured twelve songs with a bonus track, Right Here Right Now, on the Tour edition of the album and a live version of King Of The Night Time World added to the Japanese release. A deluxe edition was also made available that featured a sixty-four page booklet. Two singles were released for the album. The first single, Hell Or Hallelujah, was released in July of 2012 nearly three months before the album’s release. It peaked at #36 on Billboard’s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart. The second single, Long Way Down, crawled to #26 on the Billboard Heritage Rock Chart. The album itself performed extremely well, debuting at #3 on the Billboard 200 Chart. It was the third consecutive album to reach the top three on that particular chart, joining Psycho Circus (peaked at #3) and Sonic Boom (peaked at #2).

Track Listing:

  1. Hell Or Hallelujah (Single)
  2. Wall Of Sound
  3. Freak
  4. Back To The Stone Age
  5. Shout Mercy
  6. Long Way Down
  7. Eat Your Heart Out
  8. The Devil Is Me
  9. Outta This World
  10. All For The Love Of Rock & Roll
  11. Take Me Down Below
  12. Last Chance

Personnel: Paul Stanley (lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar), Gene Simmons (lead and backing vocals, bass), Tommy Thayer (lead and backing vocals, lead guitar), Eric Singer (lead and backing vocals, drums), Brian Whelan (piano on Freak)

As they did with Sonic Boom, KISS limited input from outside sources and players, with only Brian Whelan and a choir on All For The Love Of Rock & Roll contributing on the album. All songs were written by the four members of the band with Paul Stanley penning or co-writing ten of the album’s twelve tracks. Tommy Thayer wrote or co-wrote nine tracks on the album. Gene Simmons wrote or co-wrote six tracks. Eric Singer co-wrote Back To The Stone Age with the rest of the band. Paul Stanley and Greg Collins handled the album’s stripped down production, all of which was done on analogue equipment that gave the album a much meatier, thicker sound than Sonic Boom. The album truly does have a full sound that is both sludgy and crisp at the same time. Of all of KISS’ latter albums, it’s probably my favorite sounding album of the bunch.

The album was touted by the group to be a “meat and potatoes” rock album with no ballads or filler. They definitely delivered that with Monster. The album is loaded with straight ahead rockers. It feels a lot like many of AC/DC’s 1980’s releases, a true hard rock album that’s simple, loud, and fun to listen to at home or on the road. I believe that this 80’s feel is primarily due to the contributions of Tommy Thayer who did the same thing on Sonic Boom. He’s definitely got an ear for meaty rock tracks.

My favorite track on the album is Hell Or Hallelujah. It’s a fast-paced rocker with amazing guitar work by Thayer and solid vocals from Stanley. Last Chance is another hard rocker that I really enjoy. Wall Of Sound is probably Gene’s strongest track on Monster. It’s a pounding track that punches at you and I really enjoy it. The Devil Is Me is another solid Gene track as is Back To The Stone Age. Eric Singer slows things down a bit with his lone lead vocal track, All For The Love Of Rock & Roll. It has a boogie-woogie, almost 1950’s vibe to it. It’s one of my favorite tracks on Monster and it’s also the most unique song on the album. For some reason Paul Stanley’s Freak speaks to me. The lyrics aren’t necessarily groundbreaking and it’s outsider subject that has been visited by numerous bands over the years, but I really do enjoy listening to this song. Tommy Thayer’s lead vocal beast, Outta This World, is really fun. While I think that When Lightning Strikes from Sonic Boom is the better of his two vocal performances, Outta This World is definitely a very close second.The only track that I’m not totally cool with is Take Me Down Below. Lyrically it’s the weakest track on the album and feels like a weak attempt to recapture some of KISS’ cheesy glory found on songs like Love Gun and Read My Body. Musically, it’s just as solid as everything else on this album.

The music is excellent on this album. Stanley, Simmons, Singer, and Thayer are definitely synced together well and it shows. Gene’s bass is plodding, thick, and murky when necessary and it provides a great backbone for the entire album. Singer is as Singer does, providing perfect timing on each track with his drum work. Paul’s vocals are good andd work well with the overall sound of Monster. His rhythm guitar keeps provides a nice layer of sound on each track. Thayer’s guitar work is amazing. Of all of his work with the band, he sounds his best on this album. In my opinion this is the first album where Thayer gets to really show off a little bit of himself on solos. Overall, Monster can be played end to end without the need to skip a track.

October of this year marked the ten year anniversary of the release of Monster. As it stands, this will most likely be the band’s final studio album. Both Gene and Paul have talked about their reasoning for not releasing new music over the last decade. When recently asked about the possibility of new music from the group, Paul Stanley said, “I came to the conclusion that it (new music) can never compete with the past….it hasn’t the connection to important times in your life.” Simmons, as usual, took a more financial view on releasing new material stating, “KISS is not a charity. Working your ass off to have somebody download or stream your music for free is not my idea of how things should be. When you don’t put a value on music, it doesn’t have value.” Tommy Thayer said similar things in recent interviews when asked if he will release new music after KISS’ End Of The Road Tour finally draws to a close. He said that he’ll continue doing things musically but will most likely not release a solo album. No stranger to playing for numerous bands at the same time, Eric Singer will probably keep rolling along, picking up jobs from whatever bands want him. He and Paul Stanley have worked on Stanley’s solo projects before, so maybe they’ll work together in the future. Whatever happens, one thing is certain: KISS has definitely left their mark on rock n’ roll and the music industry as a whole.

Thanks to each and every person that has been along for the ride during The Year Of KISS. I hope that you’ve all enjoyed my look at the studio albums, band members, and memorabilia over the course of this year. While I may never do another year-long series on a band I will definitely continue reviewing the occasional album, old and new, when I see fit. Keep on rockin’!

Throwback Thursday: Fire In The Sky (1993)

“I have a collect call from Travis Walton. Will you accept the charges?”

Some of the most popular films ever made were released in 1993. It was an amazing year for film and yours truly was around to witness a ton of these films on the big screen. Hit films like Jurassic Park, Mrs. Doubtfire, Sleepless In Seattle, Carlito’s Way, Schindler’s List, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Indecent Proposal were released that year as were cult classics like Army Of Darkness and Falling Down. Another film released in 1993 that was successful but not necessarily a massive hit was the allegedly true story of the alien abduction of Travis Walton, Fire In The Sky. It was based upon the 1978 book The Walton Experience written by Travis Walton about his supposed 1975 abduction. The film has gone on to become a cult hit in its own right and holds up extremely well as both a science fiction/fact thriller and a biopic.

I say that the film is based upon an allegedly true story as the only evidence that the event occurred comes in the form of a number of polygraph tests taken by Walton and other members of the logging crew that witnessed the event and the fact that Walton was missing for five days and six hours and then miraculously reappeared along a highway in Arizona. I’m not here to question whether or not the event actually occurred. Personally, I do believe that extra-terrestrials probably exist but I do not have any hard evidence to support my belief nor do I have any proof that if they do exist that they are necessarily more advanced than humans. In any case, Walton’s story makes for a genuinely creepy tale and, with a little bit of Hollywood magic, Fire In The Sky makes for a very creepy movie.

The film is basically divided into two parts. The first part, the bulk of the film, shows us how the logging crew deals with the abduction of their friend and the fallout from him going missing. All of the men are accused of murdering Walton and are grilled by Lt. Frank Watters, who has never failed at solving a case according to the film. The leader of the group, Mike Rogers, is not only struggling with the loss of Walton but is also trying to deal with family and financial matters as well. A drifter who finds work with the group, Allan Dallis, becomes the primary suspect in the case, as he and Walton had an altercation prior to Walton’s abduction. The rest of the group, young Greg Hayes, spiritual David Whitlock, and hardworking Bobby Cogdill, are well known in the community like Mike Rogers, and have trouble dealing with their newfound infamy. The film does an amazing job showing how these men deal with their problems.

The second part of the film deals with Walton’s unexpected return, the terrifying events that took place during his abduction, and the fallout that occurs when he learns that his friends abandoned him when he was knocked down by a light emitted by the UFO that they all witnessed. The abduction sequence is particularly unsettling. The film’s screenwriter, Tracy Torme, was told to enhance that specific part of the film to make it more interesting because Paramount Pictures found the actual abduction story to be too boring. Torme outdid himself in my opinion. The abduction sequence is right up there with the extremely claustrophobic escape sequence from The Descent (2005) in my opinion. Watching Walton helplessly struggle against forces he cannot stop is uneasy to witness, and it’s one of the best parts of this film.

Robert Patrick heads up a loaded cast of amazing actors. Patrick stars as Mike Rogers. We get to see more of his story and how he interacts with the others more than any other character in the film. D.B. Sweeney stars as Travis Walton, the man who is abducted and tortured by the aliens in the film. The rest of the cast is a litany of character actors and leading men like James Garner (Lt. Watters), Henry Thomas (Greg Hayes), Craig Sheffer (Dallis), Bradley Gregg (Cogdill), Peter Berg (Whitlock), Noble Willingham (Sheriff Davis), and Kathleen Wilhoite (Katie Rogers, Mike’s wife).

The special effects for the film were handled by Industrial Light & Magic and they were brilliant. They hold up extremely well today and featured puppets and a ton of practical effects. During the sequences on the alien ship, Walton is shown in a bio-cocoon full of some type of goop. When he breaks out of the cocoon he finds himself in a zero gravity chamber. He accidentally falls into another cocoon where he finds another human being that is biodegrading into the goop. From there he stumbles upon alien suits, is captured by the aliens, and is dragged to an examination table where the aliens begin torturing him. The entire sequence is amazingly executed.

This film is a real treat. It does take quite a few liberties with Walton’s account of the events that occurred so if you are interested in Walton’s real story, look up his book The Walton Experience or Fire In The Sky: The Walton Experience. They are both the same book, just a different title. Walton apparently wasn’t happy with the way that his story was told and has been looking for a new film to be made that tells his true story. In any case, Fire In The Sky is definitely worth a look and if you’ve never watched it before, take my advice and check out this movie!

Thanks for checking out my post. I haven’t done a Throwback Thursday post in awhile now so it’s nice to get one more in the books before the end of the year. Tomorrow I’ll be posting my final The Year Of KISS post and on Saturday I’ll finish off 2022 with an end of the year summary!

Torn Hearts (2022)

Abby Quinn (L) and Alexxis Lemire in Torn Hearts (2022).


Katey Sagal gives a commanding performance and carries the rest of the cast in 2022’s Torn Hearts. The film is a Blumhouse production written by Rachel Koller Croft and directed by Brea Grant. Along with Sagal (Married…With Children, Sons Of Anarchy) are Abby Quinn (Knock At The Cabin), Alexxis Lemire (The Half Of It, Truth Or Dare), and Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project). In the film, Quinn and Lemire play Jordan Wilder and Leigh Blackhouse, a country duo known as Torn Hearts, who are looking for their big break. When an opportunity to pick the brain of (and possibly work with) Harper Dutch, one half of the iconic Dutchess Sisters, falls in Jordan’s lap, she and Leigh arrive unannounced at Harper’s home. As they begin working with Harper, the pair find themselves battling Harper and each other for a shot at fame in a twang-filled thriller of a film.

Katey Sagal as Harper Dutch.

This film had so much potential. Sure, the desire for fame and glory isn’t anything new, but weaving it into a horror film with country music as a backdrop is pretty unique if you ask me. What drags the film down, however, will vary depending upon everything from your knowledge of 90’s country music to the performances of two of the three female leads in the film. For me, hearing the Torn Hearts belt out nasally modern country twang was brutal. Thankfully that only happens in the beginning of the film. The supposed 90’s country music by the Dutchess Sisters, Hope and Harper Dutch, sounds more like country-politan 80’s country with modern lyrics. I was able to look beyond these miscues, however, and tried to enjoy the rest of the film (which does include a very beautiful acapella song by Harper and Torn Hearts). I also have to say that even though the Dutchess Sisters were sisters, their rise to fame eerily mirrors the real country duo of Naomi and Wynonna Judd, a mother/daughter duo for those not in the know. Considering the untimely suicide of Naomi earlier this year, the film was a tad bit more unnerving for me than it may be for others.

The three female leads in the film varied in their performances. Abby Quinn does a very good job at being the workhorse half of Torn Hearts. It was nice to watch her struggle emotionally as Jordan tries to come to terms with the fact that she’s the songwriter and musician of the duo and not the pretty star of the show that Alexxis Lemire’s Leigh was destined to be on the country music scene. Lemire’s performance was a little bit light in my opinion, but she didn’t derail the film. Katey Sagal was a juggernaut in this film. She looks, talks, and acts like a beaten down former country star who is falling apart at the seams. Her performance was unhinged, devilish, and brilliant. Plus, even as a deranged former country singer knocking on seventy years she looks sexy. I have to admit that. She carried this film.

What keeps Torn Hearts from being an all around winner of a horror film is that it just isn’t that scary. Sure, the point of the film is to show you what lengths people will go to in order to become famous, but there are no real moments of terror in this film. It’s more like mild suspense thriller that just downed a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. Brea Grant keeps things moving at a decent pace but Rachel Koller Croft’s story lacks the teeth that it desperately needed to make it a better film.

Brea Grant, director.

Torn Hearts is a decent little film that has more hits than misses in it. Unfortunately, the misses add up just enough to keep this film from being better. Katey Sagal takes up the slack and keeps the film interesting. It’s not a must-see film, but I don’t think that you’ll regret watching it.

Thanks for checking out my post. See you again soon!

Merry Christmas!!!!

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year!

I’m not ashamed to say that I love Christmas. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. I hope that all of you get to spend time with family, friends, or anyone in your life that is special to you this Christmas. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope that you have a nice day with those that you love.

Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

Kristy Swanson looking extra festive! I met her earlier this year.

The Year Of KISS: Sonic Boom (2009)

“Made Of Fire, Made Of Heat…..

The KISS trip down memory lane proved extremely successful for the band from the mid 1990’s to 2002. Ace Frehley left the band permanently that year. Peter Criss left the band three times starting with his first exit in 2001and his final, permanent exit in 2004. With each Criss exit, the band replaced him with their drummer from the first half of the 1990’s, Eric Singer. The move proved to be controversial due to the fact that Singer wore the Cat facepaint that Peter Criss wore throughout his original and reunion runs with the band. Ace Frehley continued playing with Singer in the group. When Frehley eventually exited, Tommy Thayer replaced him and wore the Spaceman makeup. Peter Criss played along with Thayer each time that he reunited with the band as well. I only mention this because neither Criss nor Frehley had any problem playing with Singer or Thayer in the band until both of them exited the group permanently. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons continued successfully touring with Singer and Thayer and continue to do so to this day. The only thing missing prior to 2009 was an album of original music featuring Singer and Thayer. That all changed on October 6, 2009 with the release of Sonic Boom.

FILE – In this May 20, 2009 file photo, the rock band Kiss poses backstage after performing at the “American Idol” finale in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, file)

The group had been teasing about new music for a few years prior to the release of the album. When the album was officially announced, the group went into full promotion mode. The group made appearances all over television, did countless interviews in magazines and on the web, did commercials, and locked in an exclusive release deal with Walmart. As part of the deal, Walmart would be the sole location where listeners could purchase the album and “KISS Korners” were set up in the stores featuring all of the band’s remastered albums, the Sonic Boom album, Mr. Potato Head KISS figures, KISS M&Ms, throw blankets, t-shirts, and more items. KISS makeup and wigs were also on the shelves in the Halloween department. I actually purchased the album, a throw blanket, and some of the M&Ms a day earlier than the actual release date as did a number of other people in the United States as Walmart mistakenly put the album out a few days early at many of their locations.

A KISS Korner at Walmart. The setup varied by store (and employee effort).

The album featured eleven songs and included a second disc featuring fifteen classic KISS songs re-recorded with the current lineup and a DVD featuring six tracks recorded live at a concert in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The constant promotion and exclusive deal with Walmart proved to be an excellent move as Sonic Boom sales catapulted the album to the #2 spot on the Billboard 200. This was the highest debut for a KISS album, beating out Psycho Circus which debuted at #3 in 1998. This was also the longest amount of time (eleven years) to pass between two KISS albums of original music. Three singles were released from the album. The first one, Modern Day Delilah, peaked at #50 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart. Say Yeah was the second single and managed to reach the #1 spot on Russian charts. The final single released from the album was Never Enough. It only charted on the Billboard Heritage Rock Tracks chart, reaching #30.

Track Listing:

  1. Modern Day Delilah (Single)
  2. Russian Roulette
  3. Never Enough (Single)
  4. Yes I Know (Nobody’s Perfect)
  5. Stand
  6. Hot And Cold
  7. All For The Glory
  8. Danger Us
  9. I’m An Animal
  10. When Lightning Strikes
  11. Say Yeah (Single)

Personnel: Paul Stanley (lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar), Gene Simmons (lead and backing vocals, bass), Eric Singer (lead and backing vocals, drums), Tommy Thayer (lead and backing vocals, lead guitar), Brian Whelan (piano)

With an extremely slim amount of personnel (all four members of the band and Brian Whelan providing piano work), this album sounded very tight and in sync. The band sounds great on this album. Paul Stanley sang lead vocals on four tracks and shared lead vocals with Gene Simmons on Stand. Simmons provided lead vocals on four tracks in addition to the shared vocals with Stanley on Stand. Both Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer sang lead vocals on one song each. Paul Stanley wrote or co-wrote nine tracks on the album. Gene Simmons wrote wrote or co-wrote six tracks. Tommy Thayer co-wrote three songs on the album.

As I already stated, this album is tight and the band sounds great together. I know that a lot of people signed off on KISS after the exit of Ace and Peter, but those folks don’t know what they are missing. Eric Singer is arguably the best overall drummer that the band has ever had and Tommy is a much bigger influence than he is given credit for by fans. Simply listen to the three tracks that he co-wrote for Sonic Boom and you can hear a noticeable difference in those tracks when compared to the rest of the album. In fact, the track that he sang lead vocals on, When Lightning Strikes, is one of my favorite songs on the album. The other tracks that he contributed to are favorites as well. Never Enough feels like a mid-1980’s hair rocker. The plodding, pounding I’m An Animal fits Gene’s Demon persona to perfection. It’s also a great song to hear live. A lot of fans claim that this album reminds them of a lot of music from the prime KISS era of the late 1970’s and Modern Day Delilah is probably the song that proves this point the most with Tommy Thayer’s very Ace-like solo. Say Yeah is solid, features a great chorus, and also happens to be the one track from the album that has continued to be played live. In all honesty there isn’t a bad track on the album with possibly the exception of the lyrically challenged Danger Us. Written and sung by Paul Stanley, it’s the weakest track on the album in my opinion.

As far as the second disc in the set, it’s actually a re-release of the album from KISS’ 2008 CD/DVD combo Japan release Jigoku-Retsuden. It features fifteen of KISS’ most popular tracks re-recorded by Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Singer, and Tommy Thayer. The only vocal change is in Black Diamond, where Singer sings the lead vocal originally recorded by Peter Criss. The rest of the songs are fronted by Simmons or Stanley and include many of the band’s concert staples such as Detroit Rock City, Love Gun, Calling Dr. Love, and Deuce. It also includes Forever, Heaven’s On Fire, and Lick It Up from the No Makeup era. It’s a very good album with much slicker production than the original recordings of these songs.

KISS gained new fans, won back some old ones, and drove a few even farther away with the release of Sonic Boom. No matter what anyone else believes, I think that this is one of KISS’ best releases from their entire career. It reminded a lot of folks of the band’s older material but with a fresher spin on their sound. The cover reminded a lot of people of the classic Rock And Roll Over album cover which is no surprise since artist Michael Doret did both covers. Heck, even the way that KISS plastered their faces and music all over television, social media, and the airwaves was reminiscent of the band’s heyday in the 70’s. Overall, Sonic Boom is a love letter to the past with an eye focused on the band’s future. If you don’t own it, grab a copy. Snag some of those M&Ms if you can still find them as well!

Thanks for checking out my post. Be sure to check out the photo of yours truly below hamming it up in full Demon makeup and a Sonic Boom tee! See you next week when I finish out The Year Of KISS with their final studio album released in 2012, Monster!

Black Adam (2022)

“Tell Them The Man In Black Sent You.”

Sometimes the world needs a big, loud movie that simply entertains. The plot remains simple and predictable. The action occurs often and with a ton of slow motion moves that highlight the strength, speed, and powers of the heroes and villains. Those elements, with a larger than life anti-hero thrown in for good measure, is exactly what you get with Black Adam (2022). It’s nothing special but it is very fun.

Spoilers follow…..you’ve been warned!

In the film we are given a brief origin story of the creation of Teth-Adam/Black Adam (or that’s what we are led to believe). From there we find ourselves in modern day Kahndaq, a Middle Eastern country being oppressed by a collective known as Intergang. A small group of resistance fighters are in search of the legendary crown of Sabbac, hoping that it can be used to fight Intergang. When they find the crown they are attacked by Intergang mercenaries. One of the resistance fighters, Adrianna, releases Teth-Adam from his grave and he destroys the Intergang squad. Teth-Adam then breaks out of his tomb to fight even more Intergang mercenaries. Eventually one of them hits him with a missile that subdues him but Adrianna and her brother, Karim, save Teth-Adam and bring him to Adrianna’s home to recover.

Teth-Adama awakens in the bedroom of Amon, Adrianna’s son. Amon tries to convince Teth-Adam that he is the champion of Kahndaq and that he must protect his people from Intergang. Teth-Adam goes into action when Amon gets in trouble with Intergang guards and immediately attracts the attention of Amanda Waller and the Justice Society. She calls on Hawkman/Carter Hall, to assemble a team to stop Teth-Adam. Hawkman gathers up Dr. Fate/Kent Nelson, Cyclone/Maxine Hunkel, and Atom Smasher/Albert Rothstein to help him and the group arrives in Kahndaq in the middle of one of Teth-Adam’s attacks.

The group slows Teth-Adam down but cannot stop him. After Ishmael, one the resistance fighters thought to be dead, reveals that he is the leader of Intergang and wants the crown of Sabbac in order for his family to rule Kahndaq once again, the Justice Society and Teth-Adam work together to defeat him and Teth-Adam agrees to be imprisoned for eternity…..until Ishmael manages to return from Hell with the powers of Sabbac. The Justice Society battle him with Dr. Fate managing to hold him off just long enough for Teth-Adam to return. Sabbac is destroyed and Teth-Adam takes on the new name of Black Adam, protector of Kahndaq.

I enjoyed this movie. It didn’t break any new ground in superhero films but that wasn’t expected in the first place. Despite a few nods, a “super” appearance in the mid-credits, and the presence of Amanda Waller in the film, it was free of all of the weight of the DCEU, managing to be a standalone film. The action did get weighed down a bit by all of the slow motion shots, but overall it was pretty good. The CGI was decent. Thankfully the film was rather dark so the limitations of the CGI were hidden fairly well. Sabbac was the weakest CGI creation in the bunch. He looked obviously fake. As much as I loved seeing Hawkman on the big screen, I wasn’t a fan of his suit design in the film. Dr. Fate was handled extremely well and Atom Smasher and Cyclone were pretty much window-dressing. They were in the movie but didn’t really add much to it.

The cast was surprisingly strong. Dwayne Johnson definitely looks like Black Adam in the film and he does a pretty decent job of acting as well. Pierce Brosnan was perfection as the all knowing, all seeing Doctor Fate. Sarah Shahi was fine as Adrianna. Mohammed Amer provided plenty of humor as Adrianna’s brother and Bodhi Sabongui did a great job as her son, Amon. Quintessa Swindell and Noah Centineo, Cyclone and Atom Smasher, did fine in their severely limited roles. Marwan Kenzari was sufficient as Ishmael/Sabbac. The real standout to me in this film was Aldis Hodge as Hawkman. He commanded every scene that he was in, even the ones that included Pierce Brosnan.

Black Adam, specifically the film’s apparent poor performance and the shakeup at Warner Bros. involving James Gunn, has been in the news a lot recently. As they say, bad news is still news, so I hope that more interest is generated in this film with all of the talk about Dwayne Johnson locking horns with Gunn and others over the future of Black Adam. It really is a solid action film and I hope that more people discover it. With Marvel losing steam, it’s the perfect time for DC to push their big heroes.

Thanks for checking out my post. I hope that you get to check out Black Adam if you haven’t seen it yet. It’s much better than the critics say and it’s a whole lot better than Marvel’s recent superhero offerings.

McFarlane Toys DC Multiverse Gold Label DC Rebirth Shazam (2022)

“Holy Moley!”

Just say the word, right? Well, apparently the folks at McFarlane Toys decided to say the word and produced a beautiful figure in 2022’s DC Rebirth Shazam. The figure was released late this year as a Gold Label action figure. It is exclusively sold at Walmart and has already been spotted on Ebay for two and three times its retail price. It’s an amazing figure but it isn’t worth more than its retail price of around twenty bucks.

The figure comes with a collector card, DC figure base, an extra set of hands, and lightning accessories that can be attached to his arms. The figure arrives in box with closed fists that can be swapped out for the open hands that are in what I would call a “so what?” position. The lightning accessories are the exact same ones you can find with the recent Endless Winter Black Adam figure. Those bolts aren’t the only things that Shazam shares with Black Adam and I’ll get into that in the next paragraph.

Shazam’s body is the same mold as the one used for the Endless Winter Black Adam. The closed fists are also the same ones used on Black Adam. The only differences body-wise in the two figures are the additional open hands included with Shazam, the different colors on the two suits, the head sculpts, and the lightning bolt across the chests of the figures. On Black Adam, the bolt is essentially a neck piece. On Captain Marvel, the bolt is attached to a cape. The similarities shouldn’t shock anyone due to the fact that the two characters are essentially drawn the same on the page as well.

Captain Marvel, ughhh, Shazam, has fairly decent articulation. He isn’t as poseable as many other figures in McFarlane line, but he can be placed into some excellent poses. The biggest issue that I see most people having with this figure is getting him to stand up without a base. The cape makes Shazam very, very top heavy and he has a tendency to fall back as a result. While the included figure base works well enough, I will probably upgrade this figure to a waist-supporting base. It would have been great for Shazam to come with a flying base, but McFarlane Toys seems content with only providing that type of base with Superman figures.

It’s really cool to have this figure in advance of the upcoming Shazam! Fury Of The Gods film. There’s actually going to be at least one McFarlane Toys DC Multiverse Shazam figure released for the film based upon Zachary Levi’s likeness, so I’m most likely going to get that figure as well. Until then, have a look at one of the Shazam figures from the first film compared with the DC Rebirth Shazam and the Endless Winter Black Adam in the photo below.

Thanks for checking out my post. We’re in the homestretch for Christmas and New Year’s Day, so get ready for my End of the Year post, the final The Year Of KISS posts, and at least one more action figure review.

McFarlane Toys DC Multiverse New 52 Red Robin (2022)

“Time Drake….a.k.a. Red Robin.”

The first three “core” Robins in DC Comics have carved out their own paths as superheroes after retiring as the Boy Wonder. Dick Grayson became Nightwing, who has gained his own fan following over the years. Jason Todd, despite being beaten to death by the Joker in a fan-voted poll, reemerged as the antihero, Red Hood. Tim Drake, the third Robin, has always been treated, at least in my opinion, as the third wheel of the bunch. It’s as if the Bat Family is introduced as Batman, Nightwing, Red Hood, Robin (Damian Wayne), Batgirl, Batwoman, Alfred, Batwing, a few other people, and that other guy, Red Robin. Maybe it’s just my own perception, but Time just doesn’t seem to get the respect that many of the other Bat characters. That being said, he has managed to get a pretty sweet action figure from McFarlane Toys.

The figure is based upon Tim Drake’s New 52 look as Red Robin. I know that it isn’t necessarily his most popular look but I personally love it and wish that he would have kept some version of it with DC Rebirth. The figure comes with the standard collector card and a DC figure base and one lone accessory, Red Robin’s bo staff.

The detailing on the figure is great. The numerous belts (so many belts) all have amazing textures. Specifically, Tim’s utility belt looks great and you can actually see the clasps on the pockets. The suit also features Red Robin’s insignia on his chest, belt, and shoulders. The propulsion pack and wings also look amazing. The wings can be opened up or tucked under the propulsion pack. Tim’s bo staff is pretty plain but it does come with a few minor details on it. The coloring on the figure is primarily deep red and black with yellow on Red Robin’s cross-chest double belt and flesh tones on Tim’s face. His articulation is excellent and is only hindered if the wings are open.

I have zero complaints about this figure. He looks amazing, is easy to pose, and looks almost exactly like the character in the comics. He’s almost the perfect action figure and he looks great on the shelf with the rest of the Bat Family.

Thanks for reading my review. I highly recommend this figure to not only Tim Drake/Red Robin fans, but to DC Comics fans in general and anybody that can appreciate a beautiful action figure. McFarlane outdid themselves with this figure and I love it!

McFarlane Toys DC Multiverse The Flash Wally West (2022)

“My name is Wally West. I’m the fastest man alive.”

Lost in the Speed Force for ten years, Wally West made his triumphant return to the pages of DC Comics in the DC Rebirth universe. His return came with a new suit as well, and McFarlane Toys has given the world a new DC Multiverse figure of that version of Wally West. I honestly don’t know a whole lot about Wally, but I do know that his Rebirth costume is one of my favorites, so I decided to pick him up and see just how cool this figure really is.

The figure looks great. It features a ton of details including texture changes in the suit, Wally’s wavy red hair, and a raised silver bolt across his chest. Wally technically comes with six accessories, although all of them are Speed Force bolts that can be attached on Wally’s back, calves, heels, and forearms. One drawback of having these bolts is that there are peg holes on Wally’s arms, calves, and back that are extremely noticeable when you don’t have the bolts in place. Wally also comes with a collector card and a base.

The figure’s articulation isn’t hindered at all. You can move and pose Wally all sorts of ways. The only problem that I find is that his ankles are a bit loose, so posing him in a running position can be a bit tough unless you have a second base to support his lifted leg while he is in “motion.” I had a similar issue with my CW’s The Flash Barry Allen figure but that figure’s ankles were stronger. My Barry Allen from the Snyderverse Justice League Film has been standing on one foot since February and has only collapsed on one occasion due to the fact that one of my co-workers slammed his hand against his counter and shook my display shelf.

Other than the peg holes in the arms, legs, and back, I don’t have much to complain about for this figure. I was a tad leery of the Speed Force bolts but they’ve grown on me and I actually really love how they look on Wally. He looks great on my shelf and he’s got me thinking that I may need to dedicate one entire space on my shelves just to Flash figures. Of course, if I’m being honest with myself, I could easily have a Batman shelf, a Superman shelf, and a Robin shelf at the rate that I’m acquiring these figures.

Thanks for checking out my post. I have three more McFarlane Toys DC Multiverse figures that I plan on reviewing before the year ends, so be on the look out for them. See you again real soon!