Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ultimate Spider-Man returns for season two

Ultimate Heroes. Ultimate Villains. Ultimate Responsibility.
Spider-Man must lead his team of teen heroes against the greatest assembly of super villains the world has ever seen! Season Two of the hit series ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN continues as Spider-Man goes toe to toe with the Green Goblin’s greatest mistake, the menace CARNAGE! Can Spidey and Norman contain the monster before it’s too late?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New comic book report 3-27-13

Special thanks to the guys at Big Ben's Comix Oasis in Allen Park for taking the time to do this every week.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Professional gamer gets into ‘Robot Combat’ on new TV series

Ciji Thornton is just your normal everyday woman — if your normal everyday woman operates a fighting robot and plays video games for a living.
Thornton, 29, who originally is from Dearborn Heights and grew up mostly in Oakland and Macomb counties as her family moved around, is a professional video game player, as well as half of the team that operates “Drone Strike” in the SyFy channel’s new show, “Robot Combat League.”
The show is basically a combination of giant Rock ’Em Sock ’Em robots and real boxing. Each of the 12 robots is operated by a two-person team. One person, the “robo-jockey,” operates the fighting aspect of the robot, while the other, the “robo-tech,” deals primarily with controls and other aspects.
The show also is a takeoff of the 2011 movie “Real Steel,” starring Hugh Jackman.
“That was an amazing movie,” Thornton  said. “Even though it’s not quite the same, that movie is what got me even more excited for this.
“Just the idea that this is like ‘Real Steel’ coming to life, I was like: ‘Holy crap. This is amazing.’”
Thornton is the jockey for her team and Fazlul Zubair served as the tech person. Zubair holds eight degrees from the University of California-Irvine, including a doctorate in aerospace engineering.
Like most of the teams on the show, Thornton and Zubair had never met before they were paired with each other.
“We found out that we had some mutual friends afterward, but we had never met,” she said. “They were spot on with matching us up. He totally understood me, and we had a really great connection.”
The teams each were assigned a robot at the start of the competition rather than spending the resources for each to build their own.
“It’s so expensive and so time consuming,” Thornton said. “That would have been amazing, but we just wanted to get in there and fight the robots.”
According to its official biography, “Drone Strike” is based on bleeding-edge military hardware, and features stainless steel armor laminated with ballistic nylon in a digital camouflaged pattern.
The midsection includes shock-suspended armor bands that completely encircle the critical valve and hose assemblies. The large multifunction head/turret pans and tilts, and the barrel weapons are devastating to opponents.
“Drone Strike” is one of the stronger robots on the show; however, due to the heavy armor included for protection, it lacks the mobility and speed of some of the other robots.
The show is set up with the robots fighting in a bracket-style tournament. Team Drone Strike went up against Team Robo Hammer in the first round Tuesday night, and came away with a first round knockout when Thornton landed a blow that ripped several actuators and hydraulic hoses out of Robo Hammer’s midsection.
Team Robo Hammer members are electrical engineer Saura Naderi, the tech, and mixed martial artist Amanda Lucas, who is the open weight champion for the Japan-based mixed martial arts league “Deep,” who is the jockey.
Lucas also is the daughter of famed film director George Lucas.
Thornton said that because Lucas’ dad appeared on the show, Team Robo Hammer got some extra practice time, and a bit more screen time than the other teams.
“I wanted to fight her before we found out who we were matched up against,” she said. “Some of the people were very intimidated of her because of her past, being an MMA fighter with only one loss.”
“When you have someone with a celebrity status, more practice and more experience, and on top of that she is a fierce competitor, no one wanted to fight her. I was like: ‘I’ll do it. I’m not scared.’”
Then, after the qualifying rounds, the two robots were seeded sixth and seventh, pairing them with each other in the first round.
“I was so excited,” Thornton  said, adding that  fighting was the highlight of the experience.
“There is nothing quite compared to the rush you get when you are in there and fighting,” she said. “I’ve never been in a real fight, so I’ve never experienced anything like that, but this is crazy intense.”
Thornton and Zubair will advance to the second round of the competition, with the ultimate prize being $100,000.

Joining the show
Thornton didn’t realize what she was doing when she first applied for the show. She responded to a craigslist ad that asked for “people with a competitive mindset.” From there, she went through the process of getting on the show.
After she responded to the ad, Thornton was invited to the interview process.
“I had to talk to people on the phone, test in front of the camera and answer a lot of questions,” she said. “They were looking for someone with personality, a good back story and that is comfortable in front of the camera.
“The last thing they would want is someone who is really super awesome but shuts down in front of the camera.”
The network didn’t have to worry about Thornton shutting down on camera; this was far from her first time.
Thornton was on another SyFy show, “WCG Ultimate Gamer,” in 2008, and also on “The Tester,” which aired online on the Playstation Network. She also starred in her own Web videos, which she posts to her YouTube stream under the name StarSlay3r.

Becoming a gamer
StarSlay3r also serves as her gaming tag when playing online and in some tournaments.
Thornton has been competing as a gamer since 1998 on games such as “Dance Dance Revolution” and various fighting games.
Her big break came in 2006 when she became one of the best “Guitar Hero” players in Texas by placing in the state tournament.
“After going to a state competition like that I just kept going,” she said. “Placing higher at a national level, then I was invited out to represent team USA at the Pan-American Championships.”
Thornton said the first game she can remember playing was either Super Mario Bros. or Duck Hunt — which came on the same cartridge. Later on, she got into role-playing games where the story just “sucked you in.”
“I loved playing video games with my dad when I was younger,” she said. “He got me a Nintendo and a Sega. Once we got to Playstation, it became a little too complicated for him.”
It was getting a computer with a processor that could play games that turned on the competitive edge, though.
“I wanted to kick butt,” Thornton said. “Once we had a PC to play games, I wanted to be the best. It started off as just a fun thing, but it quickly got to be very competitive.”
“Robot Combat League” airs on the SyFy channel at 10 p.m. Tuesdays.
For more information on the show, check out its website,
Follow Thornton on Twitter @StarSlay3r or on her website at

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Return of King Kon a success

Dearborn Heights native Jay Langley shows off 

his creation, the "Scare Bears." 

His stuffed bears 

are a takeoff on the 80's cartoon 

"The Care Bears.”

ALLEN PARK —  More than 250 people showed up for the first of four local comic book shows.
The first King Kon of the season was held Saturday at the Masonic Lodge, 17212 Ecorse Road. The small show featured many vendors that refuse to attend larger shows, making access to their comics and other pop culture-related items a rare occurance.

The show also featured Dirk Manning, the writer and creator of such independent books as "Tales of Mr. Rhee," "Love stories About Death," and "Nightmare World,” who signed autographs. Manning's works are generally published by Image or Shadowline Comics.

Tony Miello, the Downriver author and creator of "Gapo the Clown," also was at the show, along with many other local and independent comic book writers and artists also attended.

The show will be back at the lodge June 16, Aug. 3 and Nov. 16.

Wyandotte artist John Marroquin promoted his independent comic “Mesheeka.”

Ron Henderson shows off a blue Snaggletooth action figure. 

The figure, from a toy line put out in conjunction with 1977's 

"Star Wars," is one of the rarest figures produced for the film. 

The figure in his hand is worth about $150.

 Lauren Becker (left) and Laura Davis discuss a hardcover graphic novel. Becker runs Warp 9 Comics in Clawson and Davis is the co-owner 

of Big Ben's Comix Oasis in Allen Park.