DC's New 52 comics lineup and Rabbi Urecki

DC Comics upended its own history today by rebooting its entire comics lineup.

The comics company is starting over every comic it publishes with issue No. 1.

Supes gets a reboot — the hard way

The change kicked off with the debut of Justice League No. 1. Comics fans are pretty excited, and are also wondering what to expect next.

I had a quick email discussion about the issue with one of the biggest comics fans I know, Rabbi Victor Urecki of B’nai Jacob Synagogue in Charleston. Here goes:

Me: DC Comics, known for superheroes like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, announced earlier this year that it would reboot its entire lineup. What was your initial reaction?

Urecki: Excitement. I have been reading DC comics since the mid-sixties. I have seen the various changes, styles, formats and re-boots. As a fan, I like things just fine now but I want to see our shrinking base expand and the line needs to retool and try to become more friendly for another generation of potential fans. This offers a perfect jump on point, something that has been tried but not on this level. Frankly, I hope it works. I am on board regardless, but hey, I am getting old. We need newer fans!

Me: The first issue of the rebooted Justice League, which is DC’s flagship super-team book, debuts today. Are you getting it?

Urecki: On my way to my LCS (local comics shop) as soon as I finish this!

Me: What other titles are you excited about?

Rabbi Urecki considers his comics selections

Urecki: I will try them all. I will tell you, there are a lot of good things worth a look!
Other than the big marquee titles with the hot writers and artists, I have my sights on Resurrection Man by Abnett and Lanning.
They have  put out fabulous some fabulous stuff at Marvel. Jeff Lemire is a great writer, so I will defiinitely pick up FRANKENSTEIN. I like Winnick on Batwing and Catwoman. Michael Green is awesome so Supergirl is worth it. And I am urging everyone to check out Aquaman. Geoff Johns on words and Ivan Reis on art? That can’t miss!

Me: Is there anything DC is doing that bugs you?

Urecki: I really think DC needs to have a the story so far like Marvel. That makes it so much easier to jump on when you hear a new storyline is worth looking at. I am not a TPB (trade paperback) fan but it seems DC ( and Marvel) makes it much easier for the “waiting for trades” gang than for us the monthly readers or the ones who still enjoy our “floppies” ( singles).

Me: Part of DC’s move is to make its comics available in digital format the same day comics are available at local retailers. Do you download any comics?

Urecki: Big computer fan but not when it comes to comics. I am a purist. I love going to a comic book store, I love the texture of a comic, etc. Digital doesn’t work for me.

Me: Any other thoughts on the revamped DC lineup?

Urecki: Can’t talk! Must go the comic book store! I am pumped! Hope DC does well with this new line!

The most depressing children's book ever

From Wired Magazine: illustrator Andrew Kolb has turned David Bowie’s classic 1969 track “Space Oddity” into a children’s book.

That’s right, the super-depressing song about an astronaut awaiting his impending death as he orbits earth in his “tin can.”

“Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows.”

You can see the book in its entirety here.

I was a teenager before I heard this song, and it still gave me nightmares. My wife and I recently watched the movie “Space Cowboys,” which (spoiler alert!) ends with Tommy Lee Jones saving humanity by floating off into space, strapped to a nuclear warhead. I told Whitney the ending reminded me of “Space Oddity,” a song she’d heard but never really listened to. I cued up the mp3 and she almost cried.

Why would you read this to your kids? It’s not like there’s a lesson to be learned here…unless you’re the type that hates astronauts and thinks space exploration is a waste of money. But somehow I doubt that type of person listens to David Bowie.


"Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do."



Where in W.Va. can you find DC's New 52?

DC Comics is (are?) unveiling its (their?) new 52-comic lineup/reboot at midnight tonight.

The comics company’s blog, The Source, today published a list of 55 retailers across the country open at midnight for the big moment.

And the West Virginia location is… unclear.

There’s no West Virginia location listed.

The closest places listed are in Pittsburgh, Pa., or Winchester, Va.

Does anybody know of a West Virginia comics shop that’s opening at midnight?

And is anybody out there in reader-land excited about The New 52?


Say hello to our little friend

Blasting onto the silver screen with the intensity of its original release nearly 30 years ago, the pop culture phenomenon Scarface, starring Al Pacino and directed by Brian De Palma, returns to movie theaters in a one-night Fathom event on Wednesday, August 31 at 7:30 p.m. local time.


This special in-theater event includes the debut of an exclusive featurette showcasing the pop culture phenomenon that redefined the gangster genre. The event will show in more than 475 movie theaters nationwide, including 2 theaters in your area.

Tickets for the Scarface Special Event are available at participating theater box offices and online at www.FathomEvents.com. For a complete list of theater locations and prices, visit the NCM Fathom website (theaters and participants are subject to change). The Scarface Special Event will appear in more than 475 select movie theaters across the country via the new digital cinema projection systems.

This Fathom Event will be showing at the following theaters in your area:

Charleston-Huntington Huntington Mall        
Charleston-Huntington Nitro 12        

Who does Dana Holgorsen look like?

Around here, we’ve been having a little parlor game. Or at least we would. If we had a parlor.

Anyhow: Who does West Virginia University Coach Dana Holgorsen look like?

We’ve come up with several options.


What say you?


Classic literature

I wrote and illustrated this classic tale of practicality underlying fantastic heroism when I was in the fourth grade.

I think it still holds up.

What do you think?

Discussion questions:

  • This story was written in roughly 1980, coinciding with the Cold War. Do you think the bunny rabbit and mouse represent the author’s vision of the Western world while the monster is meant to depict the Soviet bloc?
  • How did the author’s penmanship affect the story? Do you think his penmanship has improved?
  • Is the mouse, Pipsqueak Little, forever destined to be a sidekick? Or might he step out on his own one day?
  • Nothing subversive was meant by running in and out of the closet, was it?
  • The monster is depicted as “ugly.” Is that a shallow representation? What were the monster’s real motives?
  • Would you have guessed that, one day, the author would grow up to participate in a Nerd blog?
  • Are those some stylin’ running clothes, or what?


What President Obama is reading on his summer vacation

According to the White House, these are the books President Obama took to Martha’s Vineyard.

I guess it’s what he’s going to do when he’s not body surfing, golfing or, oh, leading the free world.

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
Rodin’s Debutante by Ward Just
To the End of the Land by David Grossman
The Bayou Trilogy by Daniel Woodrell

What do you make of his choices?

A columnist in the National Review Online took him to task for his beach reading selections:

First, five of the six are novels, and the near-absence of nonfiction sends the wrong message for any president, because it sets him up for the charge that he is out of touch with reality.

For realses?

I’m afraid my summer reading list was all about being out of touch with reality:

The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

I’ll be reading that last one well into the fall. Talk about being out of touch. I didn’t realize it was 1,000+ pages when I downloaded it.

What did you read this summer? Was your list in touch with reality?

Let's punch Hitler and Darkseid

This weekend, Doctor Who starts up again with an episode called “Let’s Kill Hitler.”

What fun!

The trailer below shows highlights from the six episodes that conclude the season, starting Saturday. About the 37-second mark, the Doctor’s pal Rory, the most patient Roman centurion ever, punches Hitler. Which gives me kind of a thrill because I like Rory getting all Captain America.

There’s a grand fantasy tradition of punching or taking out Hitler, most notably with Captain America. There was a great homage to this notion in this summer’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” movie where Steve Rogers, performing for the United Service Organizations, punches (an actor portraying) Hitler repeatedly.

It all harkens back to Captain America Comics No. 1 in March 1941, where Cap was depicted on the cover as punching out Hitler, even though the United States wouldn’t enter World War II until 9 months later.

By now, lots of people have punched Hitler.

For example, here’s Chewbacca punching Hitler.


Of course, there’s also the brilliant scene in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” that turns this on its face. Indy comes face-to-face with Hitler and accidentally gets his autograph.

How much longer will Hitler be a popular bad guy? He’s a convenient foil. Horrible acts were committed in his name, but his mustache and intensity make him, let’s be honest, a little bit funny.

But he’s a little long in the tooth, isn’t he? Did Napoleon have such staying power?

Will society ever get to the point where Osama bin Laden is a favorite pop culture bad guy?

Meanwhile, DC Comics announced this week that the big, bad villain in its relaunched Justice League title will be a classic bad guy, Darkseid.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Darkseid = Hitler.

Actually, he’s a great, big rocky-faced guy with glowing red eyes. He’s the ruler of a really awful, lava-flowing planet called Apocalypse. And he works to possess the ultimate  power of the Anti Life Equation, which is, like, a mathematical formula for death and destruction. Darkseid has been considered one of the most powerful villains in the DC universe for many years, even though he debuted in an issue of “Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen.”

Most recently, Darkseid appeared on television’s “Smallville” in its final season, mainly as a smoke monster.

I’ve never been too excited by Darkseid, although I have been wanting to read the Legion of Superheroes classic, “The Great Darkness Saga.” He’s one of those guys who is depicted as being so powerful, he’s unrelatable. Also, for a guy so powerful, he never seems to win.

I’ll leave you with one final question, though:

Who would win a fight between Hitler and Darkseid?




The internet has become one big “Members Only” party, and I’m not invited.

Every blog I read seems to have a review of Turntable.fm, a new website where users visit “rooms” to listen to music. Stay in these “rooms” long enough and you can become a “DJ,” and play songs for the people in your “room.”

If the “crowd” doesn’t like your taste in music, they can boot you from the DJ booth. You head to the back of the line, Rick Astley records in tow.

Reading those reviews, I think “This is my kind of site. I would really enjoy that.” Then I visited Turntable.fm. I saw this:

Yup. It’s invitation-only and I didn’t get an invitation. None of my Facebook friends are on Turntable, either, and I’m still waiting on an email from them with my invite.


The same thing happened when I read about Fitocracy, a new social networking/fitness site that is supposed to make exercising fun. Or something like that. I went to the site to sign up and saw the same thing:

I had the same difficulty when I was trying to get on Google+. I eventually scored an invite, but abandoned the “Facebook killer” after two or three days. Oh well, that’s not my point.

The point is, the internet is supposed to be free and open to everybody. Now, it’s like the high school prom after-party all over again.

It's a Members Only jacket. Get it?

Trick or treat will never be the same.

School is back in session. Football fever is in the air. And the Maddys are planning their Halloween costumes. Yes, it’s a sure sign that Fall is just around the corner.

Like all kids, I’ve always enjoyed donning a costume. It’s just fun to let your imagination run wild while wearing a cape (or towel in many cases) and pretend you’re saving the universe.

Growing up, I was fortunate to have a grandma who made me the envy of all of our school Halloween pageants. The detail of my Rainbow Brite costume was so ornate that I could have fooled even the most loyal sprite. In the following years, I was a fairy princess complete with my own horse skirt, a cuddly bunny with a giant carrot necklace, an Indian Princess that later won me a role as Sacagawea in a school play and a Troll doll with flaming orange hair. Although I was so tall by the time I wore it, I scared younger children.

In addition to our toy collecting and cartoon watching, my husband and I also have never outgrown dressing up. Duane and I have embraced cosplay in the last few years and always look forward to keeping our costumes under wraps until our friends’ annual Halloween bash.

When I first started attending adult Halloween parties, I was content with just buying a from-the-rack costume from Spencer’s or a similar shop. But after attending Comic-Con and other conventions, I felt compelled to up the ante.

Our first foray into cosplay was six Halloweens ago when we dressed as Pai Mei and Daryl Hannah’s Elle Driver (Lucky) from Kill Bill Vol. 1. Sadly, we have no photos of these costumes, but they gave us the taste for cosplay.

If ya' ain't first, you're last! Duane & I as Ricky Bobby and Princess Leia.

We took home the “Best Costume” prize for our Princess Leia and Ricky Bobby. Duane has always bore a striking resemblance to Will Ferrell, so that’s why I had no Han Solo to accompany me on my diplomatic mission to Alderaan.

Away from the Terror Drome…Duane and I as Cobra Commander and the Baroness.

Since we are both huge G.I. Joe fans, we went the following year as Cobra Commander and the Baroness. They were truly a labor of love, but as the non artistic part of our duo, I mostly sat and watched Duane while he worked.

Total Flashback! Teen Wolf and Punky Brewster!

Last year, we brought back the ‘80s with Punky Brewster and Teen Wolf. Since it’s no longer 1986, the most difficult part of this venture was finding a colored denim vest but luckily eBay saved the day.

My re-tweet from Soleil Moon Frye!

Our costumes were even re-tweeted by Soleil Moon Frye (Punky!).

This year, we have selected our new alter egos, but plan on keeping them secret until the night of our soiree. Duane is actually working on part of his costume as I’m typing this blog!

While I admire the dedication of cosplay at conventions, I can’t imagine the discomfort of wearing a costume all day and walking around. It’s difficult enough navigating through a sweaty crowd of 100,000 geeks without wearing wings or swords.