Remembrance…

I know that I’m not going to be the only one writing a note like this today, but it’s one of those kind of days where even if your voice gets lost in the shuffle, what you’ve got to say is important, even if only for yourself.

Has it really been five years?

I’m not going to lie; that blows my mind.  Five years.  I can sit here and still clearly think about the night of April 15th, 2007, standing in the parking lot of the bowling alley in Christiansburg, talking.  Jarrett, Chris, Josh and myself, all smiles and laughs at the night we’d had.  Jarrett had bowled some amazing games and we had solidified our spot in the roll-off the next week.  If we just bowled like that again next week, we figured…

That’s a fun memory.  That’s a friendly memory.  That’s a memory I’ll cherish.

I remember sitting on the couch at my apartment in Radford, watching Tim Tebow score with his first “jump pass” and Jarrett and I celebrating like we’d just witnessed the most amazing thing in the world.

That’s a really fun memory.

I remember the thoughts going through my head on April 16th, 2007.  I remember hearing my best friend crying from the living room.  I remember kneeling on the ground, alone, on the Drill Field two nights later, praying.  I remember my grandmother holding me while I watched the event from Cassell Coliseum and bawled my eyes out when they said the Lord’s Prayer.

Those aren’t fun memories.  They are, however, important ones.

The night of April 16th, I remember Chris, Danielle and I spent that night hanging out.  We went to the Mexican restaurant on Main St. in Radford and hung out there for a while, then back at the apartment.  We weren’t very chatty and none of us were in anything bearing even a passing resemblance to a good mood, but it was very nice to have someone else there that night.  The next year Chris and I went out and hung out…again, a very somber mood.  The last three years, though, have started to grow, and that’s something that I’m very happy about.  More people find their way into our gathering.  More people into our story circles, into our toasts and speeches.  People who didn’t even know Jarrett, but now get to sit there and listen to a group of people who absolutely adored him tell his Greatest Hits.  This year’s gathering probably hit close to thirty people at one point.  That, to me, is important.  It’s important that we all get together in his honor.  It’s important that we all hold that flag high and for that night wear our hearts on our sleeves and don’t get afraid to get choked up, or if needs be, openly weep, because at the end of the day, we’re all there because we miss our friend.

I owe Jarrett a special thanks.  After he graduated Tech, Jarrett was going to be a Gator.  When he went to visit the school, Chris hooked him up with his friend Bubba, as Bubba was going to UF and would be a great person to show Jarrett the town.  I met Bubba for the first time, after hearing about him for months, the night of Jarrett’s viewing.  That night was basically just a handshake and a hello, but the next day, at the funeral, I’m sitting there alone, waiting for my friends, and when they show up, Bubba takes the seat to my left.  He looks over at me and smiles and says “You’re going to have to suck it in, because you’ve got me here and Chris on the other side.  Not much room, son.”  I smile and laugh a bit, when Bubba throws his arm around me, hugs me and says “You’re going to have to lighten up really quickly because I’ve never met a stranger.”  Bubba’s been one of my great friends ever since that day.

Fast-forward a year and we’re going down for Bubba’s graduation.  For six months preceding this weekend event I’m told about this group of girls that he has planned for us all to meet when we come down.  I’m told about this girl that’s perfect for me and how he’s handpicked her and that we’re going to get along great.  “This is the type of girl that you’ll end up moving down here for,” he says to me.  On May 2nd, 2008, I met the absolute love of my life in Christine Matthews.  This doesn’t happen without Bubba, and that doesn’t happen without Jarrett in my life.  I smile when I think about it, honestly, because that scrawny kid that used to sit with Jeremy, Chris and I in the cafeteria before school my senior year…that kid that used to know how to push every one of my buttons when we first started hanging out…had his hand in me finding the person I love.  I’ve told this story many times, and I give Jarrett his due in it every single time.  It’s something that I have with him…much like our fist bump/high five mess up combo…that’s OURs, for lack of a better phrase.

It’s been five years and I still get upset every football Saturday that he’s not there.  It’s been five years and I still hold a special reverence for “Seven Nation Army.”

The phrase they use is Never Forget.  Sure, I’ll never forget the event.  I’ll never forget the tragedy.  I’ll never forget the news coverage.  I’ll never forget the emotions that day.  I’ll never forget frantically calling my friends to make sure they’re okay.  I’ll never forget calling my Mom and Dad to tell them, sitting in my back room on the floor and crying.  I’ll never forget any of that.  Thing is, that Never Forget moniker, to me, it’s almost unnecessary.  There’s no way I’m going to forget Jarrett Lane.  There’s no way that a thought of him isn’t going to make a smile cross my face.  There’s no way I’ll ever not remember a great friend, taken before his time, but even then touched so many people in so many ways.

Five years ago today I sat down and wrote a few words, and honestly I think they’re as fitting a closing to this one as they were to that one.

“Jarrett, I didn’t know you as long as others did.  I may not have been the closest friend you had.  Your loss, though, leaves a hole in my heart and has rendered me, for the most part, speechless.  That’s how I know you were my friend, sir.  You were taken in one of the most senseless acts I have ever been witness to, and that is truly horrible.  You had a great life ahead of you, you were smart enough to do anything you wanted in life.  You were a good person, and a good friend to have beside me.  You made me laugh.  Go knowing we loved you, we cared for you, and you were on our hearts and minds the entire time.

My heartfelt condolences, prayers and thoughts go to his family tonight.  May you find strength in God and shelter in family and friends.

I love you, man.”

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Update

Hello friends and neighbors, fellow bloggers and any readers that may occasionally stop by this branch of WordPress. Sorry for the fact I haven’t been around, but I am here now, and here with news.

First off, sorry I dropped the ball on the DC Comics relaunch thing, for all of the none of you who were reading it. Reading comics, especially 52 of them, isn’t something that’s too time consuming, but then writing reviews, even short ones, that try to get the point across without spoiling anything in the books is hard…especially having to do it for 15 books a week. So, since we’re well into the second month of the DCnU, we’re going to go ahead and call the reviews dead. I’m not much of a review guy anyway, and I guess this taught me to stick to the lakes and rivers I’m used to.

Secondly, and more importantly the focus of this post, is the launch of Kick Out At 2! Ko@2 is my new project with Robbie Croy (@Robbie_Croy), and it went live with his first post yesterday.  This is a blog that will serve as our running commentary on what may be our favorite hobby/pass-time/obsession.  Heck, I had to curtail a lot of posts on this blog because I didn’t want it to turn into a strictly wrestling blog, and apparently Robbie was having the same issue, so we decided to join forces and create our own joint wrestling hang-out.

My plan for the site is for it to be a place where we can air out what we’ve got going on in our minds as it pertains to wrestling.  What we like, hate, want to see more of…etc.  Primarily, it’ll be articles from each of us, probably alternating days, based around a topic that we pick for that post.  However, we’re also planning on sprinkling in some other things, like a retrospective on each of our Top 10 wrestlers.  I also want to throw in some things like us looking back at our favorite story lines, matches, moments, etc, as well as some interactive features where we have polls or ask questions, so that we can get others into the fun as well.

You can check the site out at www.kickoutat2.wordpress.com as well as follow us on Twitter @KickOutAt2 for updates when we post new blogs.  We may also live tweet some shows from that address as well, if you want to follow along as we watch.  We’re looking forward to getting this up and off the ground, and if things go good, we’re into the idea of a possible podcast or YouTube show somewhere down the line.  We both feel this is going to be a lot of fun, so come enjoy the ride with us!

Shane

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DC Universe Reboot: My Reviews (Week 1, Part 2)

DC Comics Re-Launch – The New 52
Week 1, Part 2

Okay, you know the deal. You know why I’m here. Sorry I’m a week or so behind, but I’m going to try to catch up this week, before Wednesday, so that I can get Week 4 out on time.

Without further ado, let’s get down into it.

Batwing #1 – Judd Winnick/Ben Oliver
Grade: B+

Gotta admit, I’ve never read one single issue of Batman: Incorporated, so I’m not well versed in the many different Batmen running around the DC Universe. I don’t know if Batwing is one of them that we’ve seen before or not, but regardless, here’s his introduction in the DCnU. First thing, the art is beautiful. It’s striking, and easily the best of the new #1s thus far. The writing was okay, which is about par for the course with Winnick in my book, honestly.

We get some cool information about Batwing’s secret identity, which making him a policeman is pretty interesting, as it’s something I always liked about Dick Grayson’s Nightwing persona. Watching him try to figure out who is on his side and who he can trust is pretty cool. The villain is interesting enough to bring me back for issue two, especially after the final page. All in all, good book.

Green Arrow #1 – J.T. Krul/Dan Jurgens
Grade: D

Yeah, gotta be honest, I really didn’t care for this book, which is sad, because I love Green Arrow. However, this version of Green Arrow didn’t really come off like the GA I know. First, I don’t like Ollie losing his iconic look. The outfit I can deal with, but the stubble instead of the classic Van Dyke just isn’t cutting it for me. All in all, it’s like I’m reading the adventures of Smallville’s Green Arrow, and while that would be fine if this was a Smallville tie in, it isn’t.

We see Ollie rely so much on gadgets and trick arrows in this book, that it’s almost like we’re back in the Golden Age. While they were always in his arsenal, at least we used to be treated to his actual skill as an archer instead of just seeing him as a rip-off Batman. I don’t know what to think about his team that he communicates with while he’s Green Arrow, either.

One thing I really didn’t like was basically making him Steve Jobs. I liked that Ollie was always rich and that he used that to fight crime, but when we’re treated to stuff like people talking on their “Q-Phones,” it just plays off as hokey to me. I’ll read it hoping it gets better, because of my Ollie love, and because the writer that is currently on it is leaving after issue #3.

Justice League International #1 – Dan Jurgens/Aaron Lopresti
Grade: B-

I like me some JLI. More importantly, I like where I feel this team can go. Basically, the UN decided they needed their own Justice League, but they needed people that they could control, so the big names were out. What we’re left with is some B and C list characters assembled into a pseudo Justice League, but that’s the charm of the book. I love Booster Gold as a character, and seeing him get picked to be the leader of the team this go ‘round was pretty cool, as last time this team was assembled, that role fell to Batman. The animosity between Booster and Guy Gardner is pretty interesting, one because it kind of breaks from who Gardner has been in the main Green Lantern books for the last few years, and two, because I could see them eventually becoming friends, almost the new version of Booster and Blue Beetle from the original JLI.

Batman’s inclusion in this book is pretty awesome, since essentially the UN doesn’t sanction him, but he tags along anyway. I have a feeling he’s going to be a big part of the book, despite not officially being on the team, which I’m sure is going to lead to some pretty cool stuff. Some of the members of the team I can do without, like Rocket Red and August General In Iron, but even their bickering lends itself to possible future goings-on. Going to stick with it for a few arcs to see where it goes, at least.

Men of War #1 – Ivan Brandon/Tom Derenick
Grade: A

Along with Stormwatch, my favorite book of Week 1. That’s saying something, as this book is essentially a modern day Sgt. Rock & Easy Company, a book I’ve never read an issue of, mostly out of apathy for the title. However, the way that they tell the story in this book is very interesting, and I can’t wait to read issue #2.

We start with Corporal Rock being lambasted by his superiors for never trying to move up or better himself in regards to his rank. Rock feels that he’s an Infantry man, with no one to miss him, and no reason to become anything else, despite the fact that everyone who’s ever served with him can’t speak enough praise. I found this interesting, honestly, and it really added to the character and what he’s faced with come the end of the issue. The idea that the book centers around is really interesting to me, too. Basically, what role does the military play in a world where a super powered being can fly in and start wreaking havoc in the combat zone you’re currently in? This was a cool concept, and I am very interested to see where it goes.

The main story is Sgt. Rock, with a Navy Seals backup story, that was a good read, but not something I was as into as the main story. I’m wondering if the backup will be different military branches, as the Navy Seals story was listed as Part 1 of 3.

Static Shock #1 – Scott McDaniel/John Rozum
Grade: F

I didn’t like this book at all, for numerous reasons. First, I don’t care for the character. Never liked him enough to watch the TV series for more than a few episodes, never cared to track down any of his past books…he’s just not an interesting character, in my mind. Second, the book reads like it’s an issue of the comic adaptation or tie-in book for the TV show. The art even looks like it’s from a tie-in book, in my opinion. While I was reading it, it really just didn’t feel like a real comic book, and didn’t feel like it had any business being in the DC Universe. Honestly, there’s nothing there that makes it sound like it even is. If it didn’t have the New 52 logo on it, I wouldn’t believe it was. Count me out, going forward.

Swamp Thing #1 – Scott Snyder/Yanick Paquette
Grade: B+

Seriously, this was the first issue of Swamp Thing I’ve ever read. I keep hearing about how amazing the Alan Moore run is, and it’s on my list of things that I plan to get to soon, maybe even on the plane ride I have coming up in two weeks, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. Due to that, I don’t know much about the character, aside from his origin. Even that got retconned by Moore a while back, though. At the moment, out of Brightest Day, it looks like Alec Holland and Swamp Thing are two different beings. We meet Alec as he’s trying to put his past and his recent resurrection behind him, but it looks like the past won’t leave him be. We get a few panels showing that plant life still has an affinity for him, and we get a visit from Superman (a bit more grown up than the Action #1 version) paying him a visit to make sure that everything’s going okay. Alec pretty much paints the picture for him that he just wants to be left alone, but since this is a comic book, and he’s one of the main characters, we know that isn’t going to happen.

The book has a very horror vibe, which I dig, and seems to be something that the New 52 is trying to work into some of its books, as Animal Man has it and apparently Wonder Woman will have it as well. I’m all for it, though. We get a cool monster who shows up about ¾ of the way through the book, and we get a meeting between Holland and Swampy, and I’m hooked for issue #2.

OMAC #1 – Dan Didio/Keith Giffen
Grade: D-

Hold on a minute while I read this one really quick…I purposefully held it until last because I hate OMAC. Lemme get through this real fast and I’ll get back to you.

Okay, well, while I was reading that, I apparently took a time machine back to the Silver Age and found this book lying there. Really, this book reads exactly like that. The dialog is hokey, with so much exposition written out, complete with the girlfriend who wonders where her boyfriend (the guy taken over by Brother Eye to become OMAC) is, the villain’s plot basically spelled out…it’s hard to describe, but if you’ve ever read a comic book written in the late 50s to early 60s, this fits right in there.

The art was actually kinda cool, I’m not going to lie, but with it being tied around bad writing (which I’m putting all on Didio, as I know Giffen is better than this) and a character I don’t like, it’s not enough to save it. Just like Hawk and Dove and Static Shock before it, I won’t be back…

So, that’s it for Week 1. Next post, I’ll cover:

Batman & Robin #1
Superboy #1
Green Lantern #1
Grifter #1
Frankenstein #1
Resurrection Man #1
Suicide Squad #1

Later!
-S

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DC Universe Reboot: My Reviews (Week 1, Part 1)

DC Comics Re-Launch – The New 52
Week 1, Part 1

For those of you who don’t know, DC Comics re-launched their entire universe last week, and re-introduced the DC Universe to the public via fifty-two Issue #1s, starting last week with Justice League #1, by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. My goal is to read and review all 52 issue #1s. While I may not keep up with most of the books (there are a few that aren’t making it past number one in my reading of them, I can tell you that already), I’m intrigued by what I’ve read already, and am interested to see where it’s going from here. So, without further ado, the reviews for Week 1 (well, we’ll call it 1.5, since we’re including Justice League #1 in there and it was the only new #1 last week).

Justice League #1 – Geoff Johns/Jim Lee
Grade: B-

This, honestly, was the book that sold me on the re-launch. Geoff Johns has been a favorite of mine since he re-launched Green Lantern back in 2005 and brought my favorite super hero, Hal Jordan, back to prominence. Couple his involvement with the fact that Jim Lee is locked in an immortal struggle with Alex Ross as my favorite artist of all time, and you have all you need for me to buy into the new DC Universe (or DCnU, in the parlance of my action figure collecting brethren over at http://www.TheFwoosh.com) wholesale. So, did it hold up? For the most part. Honestly, the thing that took me most aback about this book was the fact that it felt really short and like nothing happened. You have Batman and Green Lantern chasing a monster across Gotham, meeting apparently for the first time, and then we head to Metropolis for a two panel meeting with Superman. So, yeah, not much going on. However, the art is beautiful. Jim Lee just gets better and better. I read a review that said that he hadn’t changed his art style at all since his run on X-Men, but I beg to differ. Lee’s art now is more polished and refined, and I would dare say that his renditions of the DC pantheon has the ability to stand as this generation’s “iconic” versions of those characters. But, Lee isn’t the only man carrying his weight. I love how Johns writes Lantern a bit differently than he writes him in the normal GL universe. He’s younger, brasher and a lot cockier. You actually want to see Batman punch him in the face due to his cockiness. The interaction and Batman’s almost dismissal of GL made me laugh a few times as well.
What excites me most about this book is where it can go. We’re dealing with a Justice League that’s forming as we watch it, made up of some of the most iconic members it’s ever had. My only aggravation with the lineup is that Martian Manhunter isn’t in it, but we’ll get to him later. This issue starts to introduce us to the main players, sets up the world, the upcoming villain, and promises some Batman on Superman action in the next issue. What more could you want?

Animal Man #1 – Jeff Lemire/Travel Foreman
Grade: A

Oh, I love me some Animal Man. Grant Morrison’s 26 issue run on the book is some of the best graphic writing I’ve ever witnessed. Buddy Baker is such a cool character, and one of the only super heroes we ever get to see with a wife and kids. Animal Man is a family man, who has to bring in some cash and juggle his life at home with his life in tights. It’s such a cool dynamic, and I was really interested to see where this was going. What we’re being treated to in this book is a horror story set smack dab in Buddy’s own home, and that’s intriguing.
Lemire gets who Buddy is, and wrote him just like he stepped out of Morrison’s run from back in the day. The family dynamic VS the super hero dynamic is an important part of this first issue, and that is great, because that dynamic is what drives a good Animal Man story. This is another book that really makes me excited to see what Issue #2 has in store.

Action Comics #1 – Grant Morrison/Rags Morales
Grade: C

After Justice League, this book was my most looked forward to out of all fifty-two #1s. Grant Morrison wrote the single best Superman story I’ve ever read in “All Star Superman,” and Rags is no slouch when it comes to the art duties, so I was on board. This book, like Justice League, happens in the past, setting up exactly who Superman is in this new world. The thing is, I’m not sure who Superman is in this new world. Superman’s kinda mouthy in this book, honestly, and I wasn’t quite ready for that, I don’t think. He’s threatening people, egging on the cops who are trying to take him down. Honestly, he seemed almost a bit more like some weird Batman/Spider-Man mix than the Man of Steel, to me. We get to see Superman’s “proto-suit,” which basically consists of a Superman shirt, a cape, and a pair of raggedy jeans and work boots. Yeah, it speaks to Clark’s farmboy image and the fact that Superman is the hero for the working class, but it doesn’t really inspire me that much. It’s almost like we’re getting a DC Comics cannon version of “Smallville’s” Red/Blue Blur.
Superman’s very much stripped back to his Action Comics #1 (1938) days, too. He can’t fly yet, but he can leap tall buildings. He’s fast, strong, has heat vision…yeah, I’m pretty sure he’s just Clark Kent from “Smallville,” the more and more I think about it.
We get introduced to Lois, Jimmy and Lex Luthor, so we’re rounding out the important characters in issue #1, so I’m glad we’re getting a jump on things there.
While not the best #1 issue I’ve ever read, I have a lot of stock in a Morrison Superman book, so I’m not going anywhere any time soon. Good issue, not great, but tons of promise based on the creators alone.

Batgirl #1 – Gail Simone/Ardian Syaf
Grade: C+

This one intrigued me based on the fact that Barbara Gordon has been in a wheelchair for almost 25 years (real time, not comics time), and suddenly she’s Batgirl again instead of the Oracle character she’s been for a long time. I was wondering exactly how that was going to be presented, as paralysis isn’t something one simply shakes off, but darned if that isn’t the way it’s presented in this book. We’re never given any reason as to why she can suddenly walk again, just that she “didn’t let the Joker’s bullet beat her.” Heck, it took Superboy Prime punching the walls of our reality for Jason Todd to shake off the beating Joker gave him, so I wonder what was powerful enough to reduce 20 some odd years of comics into a thought bubble’s explanation.
Anyway, it’s Babs as Batgirl, and it makes me happy, as I’ve been wanting her to be Batgirl again for a very long time. She’s not as confident as she should be, which given the bullet to the spine during a home invasion is understandable, but we get glimpses of what she was and what she can be again.
I thought the ending was weak, not gonna lie, and I’m wondering where they go with it. I trust Gail Simone a lot after all the stock she bought from me with Secret Six, so I’ll just sit back and enjoy the ride, I suppose.

Detective Comics #1 – Tony Daniel
Grade: B-

I’m glad that Week 1 of the re-launch included both Action and Detective, DC’s two longest running books. I wasn’t as interested in this book as the others, mainly because I figured I was going to make Batman & Robin my main Batman book out of all of this, but the fact that one of the advertised points to this book was that they were pulling back the character list and basically making this one Batman, Gordon and Alfred, that interested me. The book is an all out chase for The Joker, which was cool because I was hoping we wouldn’t have to wait long to get to him. He’s my favorite Batman villain by far, and I didn’t want to have to sit through a year of Clayface and Zsasz, or someone like that before we got to him. We’re definitely getting a post-Grant Morrison Joker, as this one is a bit more serious and a bit scarier. He’s not as all out psychopath with a knife that he was during the Batman R.I.P. storyline, but he’s not too far removed.
I like the fact that the police in Gotham are not on Batman’s side in this book. They’re hunting him down on orders from the Mayor, and that helps the dynamic between him and Gordon a bit more, since Gordon is caught in the middle of his job and his friendship/respect for Batman. I also think it adds more to the mystique of Batman that I always think gets hurt when he’s buddy-buddy with the cops and just wandering around a crime scene while they stand around and watch. Batman having to get there before them and do things in spite of them is something I like seeing.
The last page definitely made me want to pick up Issue #2, so I guess Batman and Robin may have competition for my main Bat title when all of this is said and done.

There were 14 new #1s between last Wednesday and this Wednesday, so I’m going to do seven here and seven in a day or so, so that I don’t have to sit here and write 14 reviews all at once. Plus, I still need to read three of the books, so I can’t review them tonight anyway. So, I’m going to leave with one of the books I hated the most of the new ones, and one of my pleasant surprises/favorites of the new 52.

Hawk & Dove #1 – Sterling Gates/Rob Liefeld
Grade: F

I’m not going to hold any pretense with this book, nor am I going to bury the lead. I hated this book. There wasn’t a thing about it that I liked. I thought the writing was terrible, the art was terrible, the story was terrible…I think it could be one of the worst issues of a comic I’ve read, and I’ve read most of the entire run of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose. Hawk & Dove aren’t my favorite characters, by a long shot, but I liked their involvement in Blackest Night, as well as Brightest Day, so I was willing to give it a shot. Unless I’m in train-wreck mode next month, it won’t get another one.
It doesn’t seem much has changed, continuity-wise, in this book. Brightest Day definitely happened, as we learn that Dove is still in a relationship with Boston Brand, aka Deadman. Deadman’s inclusion may have been the only thing that saved me from getting violently ill while reading it. The majority of the issue is dealing with Hawk being upset that Dove didn’t help him fight off zombies as they were in a plane that was heading for the Washington Monument. His anger doesn’t make any sense, because had it not been for Dove trying to fly the plane, they would have both died in a fiery crash, and that would be that. Actually, after typing that, yeah, I’m mad that she didn’t help him, too! Anyway, we see Hawk talk to his father and then suddenly break into a fit of rage, for apparently no other reason than to show us that he gets angry, hence him being the embodiment of War.
The issue ends with…someone…showing up in a brown version of Hawk and Dove’s getup, but he honestly looks more like Barry from The Tick than anything. I didn’t understand the ending, didn’t care to find out about it, and don’t feel I’ll be reading issue #2 until I’ve literally read everything else I can get my hands on. In fact, if I read issue #2 before I’ve read ANY of Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing, I’ll hold myself accountable for everything wrong with the world today…

Storm Watch #1 – Paul Cornell/Miguel Sepulveda
Grade: A

Now, onto #1 of my 2 favorite books to come out of this first round of readings. I didn’t read any of the Authority or the Wildstorm universe, so this book wasn’t even on my radar, honestly. I love that they’ve started bringing some of the Vertigo and Wildstorm characters into the actual DCU, if for nothing else than it furthers my chances of getting a Grifter action figure from DC Universe Classics, but not knowing any of the characters, I wasn’t that excited about this book in particular. That all changed after reading it. This book was my favorite of the ones I’ve read based almost solely on Martian Manhunter. I’ve wanted to see J’onn become a real stand out star character for years, because, when you get down to it, he’s basically an equal to Superman, plus he’s a more visually interesting character, and he’s a telepath so we get another angle on him that we don’t get with Big Blue. I feel I’m going to get everything I wanted out of J’onn with this book, if it continues down the path the first issue laid out.
Another thing I really liked about this book is that it reminded me of Torchwood. It’s been around for centuries, operating below the radar, protecting us from alien threats. Yeah, sounds exactly like Torchwood to me.
Not knowing who the characters are and seeing them get introduced helped bring me the rest of the way in. I don’t know who Apollo is, or why Storm Watch is trying to recruit him, or why he doesn’t want any part of him. I don’t know who Midnighter is, and why he’s against Storm Watch. Those questions will bring me back for more. For that, DC, I applaud you.

So, there it is…Week 1, Part 1. I’ll be back this weekend with Week 1, Part 2, where I cover:

Batwing #1
Green Arrow #1
Justice League International #1
Men of War #1
OMAC #1
Static Shock #1
Swamp Thing #1

Take care!

-S

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C! M! PUNK!

When it comes to wrestling, I’ve never been so happy to be wrong!

Last night, I was almost certain that one of two things was going to happen. 1) John Cena was going to beat Punk clean, in Chicago, and send Punk on his merry way. 2) Alberto Del Rio was going to cash in his Money in the Bank and take the belt off of Punk right after he won, sending Punk on his merry way.

Did that happen?

NO!

Shane-o got his pipe-dream, and CM Punk beat John Cena clean, with the Go2Sleep, and won the WWE Championship! I watched the Pay Per View last night, and can honestly say, that I had the most fun watching wrestling (read: WWE) that I have had in a long time. I watched the main event from the corner of my seat, putting my laptop down and shutting it for the first time since the show started. I didn’t want to do anything but take in the match.

I knew the Chicago crowd was going to be pro Punk but the entrances in this match will rank high atop the list of my all time favorites. Punk’s music hit and that place went nuts! Signs came up and it honestly looked like every other person in the arena had a CM Punk sign. I was so happy to see the “If Cena Wins, We Riot” sign brought back from One Night Stand 2006, haha. One of my favorite parts of the night was seeing Punk go outside during Cena’s entrance, and stand with his back to the crowd, while Colt Cabana and Ace Steel stood behind him at ringside. Although two of them aren’t employed by the WWE, as an indy fan, seeing the Second City Saints on WWE television nearly brought a tear to my eye.

Cena’s entrance was even something I dug. He didn’t come into it as the saluting, full of energy Cena. He simply walked in, his head down, and held up the belt, and the place booed him out of the building. Coltrane and I were almost in the floor laughing about it.

The match was pretty good, if not a bit slow starting off, but that’s because John Cena decided to remember he can actually wrestle a little bit and there was some good chain wrestling to open the match. The only complaint I really have about the match, honestly, is the way Cena chose to wrestle it. He seemed in a daze, almost, and seemed dejected a bit through it, like, the crowd hating on him was getting to him. I wanted to see him start playing to the crowd a lot more. At one point, he bent down to do the “you can’t see me” taunt before his Five Knuckle Shuffle, and he did so almost despondent. Yeah, it’s a stupid move, and yeah, the crowd is going to crap all over it…but in that instance, if I were Cena, I’d have done it with a smirk on my face. Play to the crowd. Play against the crowd. You think it’s a stupid move and you’re going to boo it? I’m going to drop it on your boy, stupid or not, and I’m going to laugh about it while I’m doing it!

We get towards the end and see Vince McMahon and Johnny Ace coming out, and I pretty much knew that the screwjob was on (see Montreal, 1997), but Cena jumped out of the ring, knocked out Johnny Ace and told Vince if he was going to win, he was going to win fair, which was true to Cena’s character, and I like that. Of course, what I liked more was the GTS he got for his trouble!

Watching Punk celebrate was awesome, but I knew it wasn’t over yet…as Vince called for Alberto Del Rio to run to the ring. Oh well, I thought, knowing that Del Rio is pretty much the next in line for Golden Boy status, I figured Punk’s night was over. Then they shocked me by having Punk kick him in the face before he could cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase!

Seeing the night end with Punk blowing Vince a kiss as he jumped over the guardrail and ran out of the arena was amazing…not only just from the standpoint of great TV, but that it was exactly what I wanted to happen…exactly! Read my blog about the Punk promo if you don’t believe.

So, at the moment, WWE’s Champion doesn’t work for the WWE, and is free to roam about the world with their belt. Awesome! Yeah, I know it’s a story line, and he wouldn’t have ever left the night as champ if he hadn’t already signed a new deal, but the mere fact that it went down how it did…amazing! The question is, where now?

What I want to see…I want to see Punk off of TV for a good while, but giving us updates via this awesome new “The following message has been brought to you by CM Punk” graphic they debuted during the video packages last night. I want to see that interrupt things on Raw and we cut to promos by Punk, with the belt, and maybe some shaky fan-cam footage of him in ROH with the belt, wrestling someone. Or, a Japanese press conference where Punk is signing for a defense against Jushin Lyger or something along those lines. I want Punk to bring in a new belt. Or, bring back the Winged Eagle or Attitude belts…or even the Undisputed Championship belt…since he said he was going to get rid of the ugly belt. Maybe a vid of him and Cabana tossing the Spinner belt into a flaming drum barrel. Basically, I want Punk to be a guerrilla champion, defending “WRESTLING” around the world, while Vince and his guys try for months to get the belt off of him. Have Vince put up a bounty on him!

I don’t know how tonight’s Raw will shape up, but I hope to goodness Punk isn’t on it, outside of maybe a video package or a satellite feed. I don’t want him to have a physical presence on screen and let them get the belt off of him.

No matter how it works out, though, needless to say, I’ll be watching and loving it! Thank you, CM Punk, for making me enjoy WWE again!

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Pics from my book

So, while I’m looking for a publisher for the book, I decided to take a lot of the work off of a potential publisher’s hands and design the book myself. I had fun coming up with the look I wanted for the book and even painted the cover myself, which was the first time I’ve ever painted something, so that was neat. In my ideal future, this is essentially what the book will look like if published by a major publishing house, and exactly what it’ll look like if I end up going a self-publishing/digital route, as the files used for the book have already been converted into e-book format. We’ll see how it goes either way.

Until then, enjoy the pics, and the fact that I’ve written about something that isn’t wrestling for a change, haha.

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Did wrestling just get interesting again?

So, who saw the end of Raw on Monday?

If you didn’t, I’ll link to what I’m talking about at the end of the post.  Raw wasn’t good, not gonna lie.  There are numerous points as to why this is an honest, universal truth.

1) Raw Roulette sucks.

2) They’re pushing Mark Henry…again?

3) Shawn Michaels completely disregarded WCW (hey, parts of it were really good!)

4) Zack Ryder wasn’t on it.  (Woo woo woo, you know it!)

Honestly, it was a normal episode of Raw.  I got back into Raw due to watching the PPVs every month and figured that I might as well try to get back into Raw to follow the storylines.  Sorry, Smackdown, but I still can’t be bothered to watch you.  Nothing personal.  Leading into Wrestlemania, with The Miz as champ, I was really enjoying it.  We had The Rock coming back and cutting promos on Cena.  We had Miz getting better and better.  I was having fun and remembering how awesome it used to be to stay current with pro wrestling, something I haven’t done in almost six years.

Then Wrestlemania happened.  Weak PPV followed by a weak string of Raw.  A string that has lasted about 3 months, sadly.  I was digging when Kharma was coming out and destroying the Divas, but then she got pregnant and they completely killed her character on screen, and I was back down to nothing to watch.  That’s why I fast-forward through a DVR’d Raw more often than not, unless I catch it and can live tweet commentary through it with other wrestling fans (#IWantWrestling / @Shane_Dalton).  This week, though, ended with CM Punk showing everyone why he’s the best wrestler in the world.

A lot has been said about Punk’s “shoot” at the end of Raw.  Was it a work (fake)?  Was it a shoot (real)?  Of course it was a work.  It was on TV, wasn’t it?  Trust me, with the stuff he said, he’s have been taken off of TV and his mic cut incredibly quickly.  However, he did what only the best can do.  He got people talking.  He got people questioning whether it was legit or all part of the show.  That’s awesome.

I loved the promo.  I loved it because it’s Punk on a new level.  Depending on how they play this out, I’ve seen this before in 2005 in Ring of Honor.  CM Punk wrestles Austin Ares for the ROH World Championship on the last night of his contract.  He wins, and everyone expects him to hand the belt back to ROH and leave champion, the thing he’s been trying to do for two years, resulting in some amazing matches with Samoa Joe.  What does he do?  He turns heel and threatens to take the belt with him to WWE and lay it on Vince McMahon’s desk.  The rest of the summer was ROH vs Punk in an all out effort to get the belt out of his hands before he leaves.  It was amazing wrestling.  What I saw last week, when Punk vowed to leave the WWE with the WWE Championship, immediately brought those fond memories of the Summer of Punk to the forefront for me, and I smiled.  I started fantasy booking how I wanted it to play out.  It was fun.  Then, Monday, CM Punk added another level to the game.  He threatened to take the WWE Championship to New Japan or back to Ring of Honor.  Now, the average WWE fan probably has no idea that wrestling outside of WWE and TNA exists, much less that ROH is where Punk came from and that it’s currently the place to go if you really want to see WRESTLING.  For those fans, the mere idea of Punk, our Indy Wrestling golden boy who made it big, bringing the main belt back to ROH…or going to New Japan and having amazing matches over there with that belt…it’s mouth watering.

Do I expect it to happen?

No.

I expect Super Cena to take Punk out and for Punk to disappear for 6 months to a year and come back.  Why?  Because I always expect Super Cena to win.  It’s why I knew The Miz wasn’t going to make it out of Over The Limit with the belt.  It’s why I know that The Rock isn’t going to make it out of Wrestlemania with the belt.  If John Cena fought Mike Tyson, I’d probably bet on John Cena, after six years of seeing him booked in the main event of WWE.

Do I want Punk to win, and hold the belt hostage?

Oh, yes.

That, to me, is an amazing storyline.  Punk wins the belt at Money in the Bank, and instead of celebrating in the ring, hightails it out of the building, into a car in the garage and speeds away, leaving Super Cena either laying in the ring or watching the Titan Tron and realizing that he just let the company down.  I want the ring announcers wondering what is going to happen now that the WWE is, for the first time, without their WWE Champion.  I want video highlights and fan-cam footage of Punk wrestling Jushin “Thunder” Lyger or Tanahashi in Japan, entering with the WWE belt, or wrestling Christopher Daniels or Eddie Edwards in ROH.  I want the WWE frantic to get the belt off of him over the next few months, because without it, their precious Cena vs Rock match at Wrestlemania loses one of it’s hooks.  I want to see a breakdown of TV vs Real Life, where we see Vince McMahon the business owner, or Stephanie McMahon, trying to explain why their champion doesn’t work for their company.  Cross promote with other companies!  Have ROH invade WWE!  Make wrestling real!  Have people guessing.  Make Punk’s contract negotiations and stuff like that open, and make it the wrestling equivalent of LeBron James choosing whether or not to stay in Cleveland.

Wrestling, right now, is boring.  This is a rare opportunity to do something we’ve never seen before.

Sadly, that’s why I expect them to drop the ball.

Let’s hope I’m wrong.

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