Thursday, January 24, 2013

'Star Trek' director Abrams to helm Star Wars VII

A not so long time ago, in a theater in a nearby city …
It was a period of great joy for fans of “The Force.” Specifically it was the summer of 1997, the 20 year anniversary of the original launch of the “Star Wars” franchise, all three films that had been made to date were getting re-released theatrically, I was in the summer between sixth- and seventh-grade with not a lot going on other than junior high school football practices.
I had yet to be introduced to Star Wars, I wasn't yet the nerd I would become. That summer changed my life.
I got to see each of “A New Hope,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “Return of the Jedi” for the first time, in a movie theater in Toledo.
I went from being a casual fan of cartoons to being a huge science fiction fan, regardless of the format. My love affair with Star Wars, and by proxy George Lucas films was kicked into full force.
Fast forward two years, I'm a freshman in high school, “The Phantom Menace” is released for the first time. At the time I didn't hate it, and I still don't entirely – please don't hate on me my fellow forcelovers. I was young and na├»ve.
I tell you the back story of my love for that galaxy far, far away so I can talk about recent events in said galaxy. I've seen nearly everything Star Wars related in the more than 15 years since then, from the animated Ewoks and Droids cartoons to the boot-leg copy of the never released holiday special.
A few months ago, George Lucas decided to officially retire and he sold his company, along with the rights to the franchise – to the evil empire known as The Walt Disney Company – I was shocked, it took me days to form an opinion on what it meant.
Finally I decided that if he were truly done, that at least someone would get to continue on with the characters, locations and other iconic imagery from the universe as a whole. Plus since Disney had already bought Marvel Comics and their relate characters, maybe there would be some cool crossover toy lines, video games or other items.
Of course in the days, weeks and now months since the sale, and Disney's near immediate announcement that they were moving forward with a seventh live-action film. That spawned millions of rumors of what the plot would be, who would be in the movie, and more importantly who would be the director.
That question was answered recently when it was announced that JJ Abrams, a self-admitted fan, would helm the picture.
Generally I'd be ecstatic, I've long been a fan of Abrams, and haven't disliked any of his projects that I've seen. However there is one major flaw with this. Abrams wrote and directed the Star Trek reboot in 2009, as well as it's sequel “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” which is out this year.
It's one thing for a bit-part actor to play in both universes, but its blasphemy to have one man direct a movie for both franchises.
I'm at once both outraged, and excited. We as fans (admittedly I'm also a Trekker, but Shh...) can't allow this to happen, yet I wonder what he'll do, and how it'll be done.
So once again I'm in a quandry about what to think about the future of the franchise. More importantly if he's working on the next Star Wars film, he can't be working on the third installment of the Star Trek rebooted series, which is my biggest problem with the whole situation.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Weekly comic book report 1/23/13

Big Ben's Comix Oasis owner John "Ben" Davis and manager
Gary Banac work on sorting another large buy of vintage comics.
Photo: Dave Herndon.

Friday, January 18, 2013

DC comics inspired Kia’s on display at North American International Auto Show

The Green Lantern inspired Kia Soul is on display
 at the North American International Auto Show. 
The car will eventually be auctioned off for the “We Can Be Heroes” campaign. 
Photos by Dave Chapman
DC Comics and Kia Motors teamed up to help stamp out hunger via the “We Can Be Heroes” campaign, which is working to end hunger in Africa.

The companies paired up to create eight, one-of-a-kind vehicles to help get the charity’s message out. The vehicles, each a different model from Kia, sport characters from “The Justice League” comic books. Two of those cars are on display this week at the North America International Auto Show in Detroit.

The cars will eventually be auctioned off, with the money going to support the charity.

Each vehicle contains the custom artwork of legendary comic artist Jim Lee, who also is the co-publisher of DC Comics.

“It was a thrill to see custom cars based upon my Justice League artwork and sketches,” Lee said in a statement. “I have to tip my hat to the teams at West Coast Customs, ‘Rides’ and ‘Super Street’ on their innovative work creating cars that represent iconic characters like Green Lantern, Cyborg, Aquaman and The Flash — all to benefit a great cause.”

The cars that are on display in Detroit include a Green Lantern inspired Soul and a Batman inspired Optima.

A custom made Batman themed Kia Optima is among the cars
 on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The car, along with seven others will be auctioned off
 for charity before the end of the year. 
The Soul sports a dapper green and black two-tone exterior paint scheme complete with green mirror-chrome tint on the windows. Super Street’s build team lowered the Soul to improve its stance and applied widened wheel wells with one-off 18 x 10.5-inch deep-dish wheels. Traditionally a four-door vehicle, the Soul’s back doors have been welded shut to streamline its appearance. Blacked out headlights feature projector beams that glow green. Customized Green Lantern-logo fog lights in the widened front fascia and green LED lighting further enhance the overall appearance.

A custom rear cargo compartment houses the Green Lantern power battery, with his signature lantern logo etched into a clear panel displaying the superhero’s oath lit by LEDs. The rear deck also holds a video monitor to display the “We Can Be Heroes” promotional video. Up front, the Soul’s steering wheel and front seats were reupholstered with green and black leather and include the Green Lantern logo stitched into the seat backs. Other interior touches include various dash pieces painted in the green and black scheme.

The Optima sports a matte- and piano-black paint scheme, a dramatically lowered coilover suspension and muscular ground effects kit, huge Ksport performance brakes for extreme stopping power, custom-designed 20-inch black wheels with one-of-a-kind Batman-logo center caps and a performance exhaust system. Other exterior modifications include a custom front grille shaped like a batwing that took more than 40 hours to create, yellow LED lighting accents throughout the vehicle and the iconic bat signal etched into the SXL’s HID headlights.
Moving beneath the cape, the Optima’s seating surfaces are covered in custom black leather and suede with bold yellow accent stitching. Gotham City’s streets — the place that Batman calls home — are full of villains, and this Optima is ready for action at a moment’s notice with crime-fighting elements like utility throwing stars installed in the center console.

The other cars in the fleet include a Cyborg inspired Forte, an Aquaman inspired Rio, and a Flash inspired Forte Coupe.

There are three cars in the fleet yet to be unveiled. They are set to feature Superman, Wonder Woman and a special vehicle with all seven members of the team.

“We are proud to be raising awareness for the ‘We Can Be Heroes’ campaign and look forward to unveiling three more crime-fighting Kias at future auto shows,” said Michael Sprague, executive vice president of marketing for Kia.

We Can Be Heroes supports the efforts of three humanitarian aid organizations working in Africa — Save the Children, International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps — as part of the global effort to fight the current hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa. The region is suffering its worst drought and famine in more than 60 years, with 13 million in need of critical assistance.

For more information on “We Can Be Heroes,” visit

Monday, January 7, 2013

Castle: Significant Others, reviewed

The season returned from the winter hiatus with season 5, episode 10: Significant Others.

Summary: When a powerful divorce attorney who only represented women is murdered, Castle and Beckett are confronted with a plethora of angry ex-husbands, any one of whom could be the murderer. Meanwhile, Castle’s ex-wife (Darby Stanchfield, “Scandal”), Meredith, moves into the loft to take care of Alexis while she recovers from Mono, and to make matters worse, Beckett is also forced to move in while her apartment is being fumigated, causing tension, humor and more than a little awkwardness.

Overall the episode wasn't as strong as some of the early season episodes had been, however the strength picked up near the end, and we got a juicy tidbit that might pay off down the road. Overall I gave the episode a solid B rating.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

So long, and thanks for all the tips

   I know, I'm a bit late to the funeral, but as I sit here and watch my favorite college football team playing in the Outback Bowl, I need something to distract a bit from the beating currently being put on us.

   As the final issue Nintendo Power has now been released, I felt the need to reminisce a bit, and say goodbye to an old friend.

The magazine sprung to life in 1988, the year I turned three. So I wasn't a "fan" from the beginning, but I became a fan not that long after. Remember, this was a pre-internet world where it was tough to find tips and information in general on video games.

Back then I was solely in Nintendo's court, playing strictly on my NES, and then SNES. As I got to junior high school, I became a subscriber to the mag, now I would get my tips monthly, rather than whenever I could snag some cash and be in a store selling the mag.

Unfortunately, the internet was also becoming big boom, and I would skip the N64 instead moving to a Playstation. These two factors caused me to cancel my subscription. I mean I could get the tips online faster than monthly, and often in deeper detail, and I could get them for my new systems as well.

I still would pick up  a copy of the mag periodically. It never lost its quality, but unfortunately it has become another print death as more people flock to the internet. I'm as guilty as the next person. I mean heck, you're reading this meandering on the 'net, not in print anywhere.

I'll miss the comics and letters columns the most. Maybe later today I'll head out and pick up one last copy, before they pull them all off the shelves, just for all-times sake.