Saturday, November 30, 2013

FROM THE ASHES: Segment # 12

Legend of the Wandering Samurai

   This week's featured OVA has a special place in my heart. Back in 1999 when this first came out, it was one of the early strong examples representing the elegance and grace that anime was capable of exemplifying. This short series is certainly nothing to be glazed over. A masterpiece of all around film; it continues to be considered a must see on everyone's list. This OVA ( original video animation) when initially released, was divided into four episodes but later released as two separate two hour long feature films: Trust And Betrayal, and Reflections. The first film chronologically serves as a prequel to the beloved anime series Rurouni Kenshin (1996-1998). The second films serves as a conclusion to the anime series. However the mangas author, Nobuhiro Watsuki, does not consider the second film as official canon, so it should be considered an alternate ending. The anime series is based on the manga, both written and illustrated by Nobuhiro Watsuki (1970-). Trust And Betrayal was directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi (1960-), who also directed the Rurouni Kenshin anime series, as well as: Ranma 1/2, Hunter X Hunter, Getbackers, Le Chevalier D'eon, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, and numerous other series. The series was produced at Studio Deen, a derivative of Sunrise Studios. Studio Deen has been part of so many anime production processes, it would be silly to list them all, but some I consider noteworthy are: Angels Egg, Patlabor, Knight Hunters, Fruits Basket, Read Or Die, Samurai Deeper Kyo, Kyo Kara Maoh!, Fate/stay Night, Ranma 1/2, and of course the tv/ova for Rurouni Kenshin. Impressive right? Another impressive addition to this ova's roster is its beautiful score, composed by Taku Iwasaki (1968-). Known for his often jazz themed scores, the "historical drama" setting seems a bit off, but he truly does deliver. Other works of his include: Now And Then Here And There, Read Or Die, The Soul Taker, Sadamitsu The Destroyer, Getbackers, Witch Hunter Robin, Gurren Lagann, Black Cat, Soul Eater, Jo Jo's Bizarre Adventure, Origin: Spirits Of The Past, and many more. That sums up the credits; now for the more difficult part: analyzing the film itself.

   Oh my word...shiny! Hear me out. I know this story holds a plethora of philosophical and psychological goodies, but I absolutely must acknowledge the stunning beauty of this ova. This is from 1999. Now I know there are many lovely films that date back even further, but still, this is quite an impressive feat. The level of intricacy and attention to the tiniest detail here is astounding. From every strand of hair to the subtle folds in every piece of clothing; the characters look beautiful. This ova has a much more crisp and realistic style than the anime series, thus alluding the concept of a darker, more realistic take on that part of Kenshins journey. Not only the people, but the landscape, settings, and everyday items are rendered in exquisite quality. In a dinner scene, the texture of a cooked fish breaking into pieces as it's lifted by chopsticks, is so expertly animated, that one occasionally forgets they are watching anime. There are many such moments throughout. The fluid motions of characters far more often than not, are flawless. Each movement in a battle sequences is quick, sharp, and graceful: worthy attributes of the samurai fighting technique. Speaking of fluids, however, oh how the blood spills. This is still anime, so you do get your crazy blood spraying every which way, but it's not actually over done, which I believe makes each incursion more impactful. There is much more that can be said for the visuals, but the story, themes, and ideologies brought forth here even more impressive and complex. Aside from the overhead themes of trust and betrayal, some additional themes and concepts expressed here are: loss of innocence, pride, consequence of violence, manipulation, duality, greed retaining ones humanity, corruption of ideals, vengeance, inner peace, love honor, mans ignorance, the vicious cycles in war, redemption, and countless others. Truly, this story has so much to offer, so much to inspire; it's far more than a blood fest. I dare not delve further with details, for if there was any film I would hope would be sought out, this would be one such film. It's quite an experience. From its evocative and stunning visuals to its sorrowful and beautiful score, animation and design, philosophical and ideological notions, the intricacies of this story make it an all-around masterwork. For audio preference, my own is the English cast. The subdued performance of J. Shannon Weaver as Kenshin Himura is especially noteworthy, in my own opinion. He adds a successful notch in the legacy of the character of Kenshin. Considered one of not only the greatest samurais in anime, but also one of the most epic characters in anime; Kenshin is truly a fine example of badassery. Honestly, I could write far more about Kenshins character, but I prefer you see it for yourself. Not a story to miss! Enjoy!

From The Ashes, V.~

Screen Drone #7

This segment is about interesting TV. And sometimes movies. Smashed over the head with an Oz brick.

The Simpsons - Lisa get's competition.

Adventure Time - Finn n Jake say goodbye and hello to an old friend.

How I Met Your Mother - The ALL rhyming episode *_*

Axe Cop - An AC thanksgiving.

Almost Human - I like this show. It's my reverse agents of shield aka manages to entertain.

Comic Book Men - A ride in the General Lee.

Family Guy - Do you think it will last?

Key and Peele - Great season so far.

Bob's Burgers - Thanks Giving.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Marvel Zombies: Are You Game? 29/11/2013

Hey there heroes & SHIELD agents! LOADS more Marvel Heroes updates as well as something new for the Marvel Avengers Alliance fans as well! MH fans can join the group we have going for our very own CBNAH MH guild here:

Marvel Heroes
Last week, Gazillion's Jeff Donais aka Doomsaw held an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on to answer questions asked by Marvel Heroes fans. So during the span of precisely 1 hour & 45 minutes he answered some of the questions he was bombarded with.

But before I go ahead with the AMA updates, an important heads-up:
*Bonus weekend is currently going on in Marvel Heroes right up to December 2! Get a +50% boost on XP, Item Rarity & Special Item Find as a Thanksgiving reward!

*Black Friday Sale is ALSO currently on till December 2! Almost every Hero, Costume, Pet & Bundle is 25% off! The only heroes & costumes not included are Gambit, Loki, their alternate costumes & bundles. This sale also includes almost all hero packs found at the webstore.

Now onto the AMA updates. Please note that I've only included reveals that are absolute confirmations & not "maybes" (especially with regards to the new hero releases).

New Heroes
*Ghost Rider- The focus right now is on his movement power- determining whether to add acceleration, turning radius & other realistic physics to his bike or just make it smooth & “fun”. Also working on the modeling for his molten chains & his shotgun animations.

*X-23 will become playable by the second half of 2014.

Hero improvements
*No plans to raise the current level cap. The focus is more on end-game content & alternate means of advancing your character without making all your gear obsolete. Examples: Legendary items, Rings, Prestige mode, Synergy system

*A “Team Up” system is in the works that allows them to create heroes that may never have enough powers to be a full hero, but could make good sidekicks. This would be a new hero type & could be leveled up in some way to fight alongside your favorite hero (or for people who don’t want to run around with a sidekick, just provide some passive benefit).

*Design Reviews will happen for every hero & then once again in 6 months.

*Captain America’s review will likely be January, but his killing power will be upgraded in mid December.

*Scarlet Witch is on the list for some improvements in December (damage for most of her powers) with the design review in early 2014.

*They will be adding the most-requested “synergy” feature- an increasing bonus to all your heroes for each hero you’ve maxed.

*Considering a system that allows you to gain XP with a hero you are playing while you give a percentage of the XP to another hero on your roster, with an “Inspirational Mentor” type of flavor.

*Achievements coming in early 2014

Supergroups & Grouping
*More functionality & advancement for Supergroups & individuals coming in early 2014.

*They will upgrade the Supergroup system & then introduce rewards for guilds that accomplish things. Solo players won't feel left out either with every system added.

*They have considered a method whereby you can match the level of a group member or go to an NPC to temporarily lower your level so as to not leave a group member behind or set aside a hero for long periods of time. This function may be implemented in some capacity in early 2014.

*Few grouping improvements coming in the next two patches to make grouping easier & smoother.

*They are also working on a design to allow players to share Legendary Quests in some way so you can run around complete your quest (giving your group member some bonus XP) & then finish the member's quest (sharing in the rewards to some degree).

*Several new item types that can be advanced coming in the next couple of months
*They are working on an item trading interface to launch in early 2014.

*Ends of the Earth Spider-Man will come in December.

*They are working on 1-2 more Loki costumes but they won’t appear until at least January. Female Loki will be his next costume!

*They are determining which costume to do for Gambit next but it may not be for awhile. They are considering a Valentine or his yellow costume.

Missions & zones
*About 3 months dedicated to Asgard-related content, including:
-Iterating & improving on the Fire and Ice Giant PVP mode.
-A fight vs. Loki in the Asgard throne room. He will have a new medallion & several artifacts that drop from him.
-First raid encounter with a yet-to-be-announced titanic enemy. He will have a lot of interactive mechanics & choices to make about how you defeat him along with an 10-hero raid party system that can be preformed or filled with a queue system.
-A “Siege of Asgard” mode similar to Midtown + X-Defense that involves the main villain from Thor: The Dark World, Malekith.
-Several new Asgard-related terminals, including a Kurse terminal that will be added in December.
-A brand new competitive PVE mode set in the realm of the Dark Elves.

*After Asgard, we have chapters coming of various types, from the Bronx Zoo to more cosmic & galactic areas.

*Fisk Tower terminal will come in December with several more in the months after that. Terminals will also offer a bonus for players who want to clear the entire map although it will never be mandatory.

*New enemies that are basically complete but don’t have their zones complete yet include: Lizard, Mr. Hyde, Malekith, Blizzard, Loki & several “henchmen” type guys that have yet to be added.

*Expect more events in the future similar to the Asgard unlocking event. They'll design them around the competitive aspect.

Raid zones
*Raids will be 10 players. It will be extremely simple to turn your party into a raid party by just clicking a UI button. You can bring your own raid or fill in with people using the new queue system (which is currently in the final testing stages with X-Defense & the first PVP mode).

*Raids will be challenging, but not incredibly long- similar to Onyxia or the final boss of any of the best WOW dungeons. A distinct encounter will include some minor warm-up encounters to get the raid working together & then quickly start the main event.

*They won't be mandatory. Solo players will still have access to the best gear through alternate means.

*The upcoming raid fight in Asgard will have some Group Puzzle Bosses mechanics & the TBA fight in Spring 2014 will have loads of it. (Question example of a "puzzle boss": a Boss where you need to shut down energy cores which power up an shield, while 2 other players distract the boss. Something with more strategy involved than "hit him until he is defeated")

*They won't ever require any type of specific “classes” in raids. A group of 10 Spider-Man should be able to complete a raid as well as a group of 10 Gambits or Deadpools.

*Multiple PVP modes are in various stages of design & will come after the Fire & Ice mode is fully tested.

*Some of these other modes feel very similar to open world PVP, offering complex & involved maps or maps that borrow great ideas from their favorite games.

*They won't add any kind of mandatory or involuntary PVP system. Just opt-in systems that are fun for the players who enjoy PVP.

*Still deciding on the number of PVP item slots they want. It may end with the Rings. They want PVE gear to work fine in PVP & simply award PVP as rewards.

*Teams, ladders, rankings & seasons once beta testing of the mode is complete.

*The Mac version is well under way & will hopefully be released in one of the next few large patches.

Marvel Avengers Alliance
Spec Ops 14 is almost over, PVP Season 12 has 11 more days to go, but in a surprise move Playdom actually decided to release new content sooner than expected! Namely- Season 2's Chapter 3!

With Chapter 3 expect new villains (Kingpin & Sin), new heroic battles AND more importantly- new rewards including Daredevil's original costume (Tactician & Scrapper classes) as the Chapter Mastery reward! So get cracking agents!

There's also a Black Friday sale going on in MAA wherein all the 135CP heroes are on discount.

So that's all for now. Here's wishing you Happy Holidays & remember- keep them heroic.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Top 50 Most Influential Fictional Characters of All Time

   CBNAH is going to do something special. We're going to be voting for the Top 50 Most Influential Fictional Characters of All Time. From November 28 to December 25, members of the Facebook group and visitors of the website sent in their top 10 lists . Starting on January 1 to January 7, we'll be counting down the results from 50 to 1. Any fictional character in the world of comics/graphic novels, television/web shows, literature, mythology, advertising, mascots and cinema are eligible to vote on. Characters that influence you as a person or had a great cultural influence.

Throwback Thursday 11/28/13

Crimson 1998-2001

   Rounding out my month of comics I am thankful for is “Crimson”, a book I didn't realize how much impact it made on me until rereading it. “Crimson” was the third book to come out of Wildstorm's Cliffhanger imprint, and the only original book to finish. While “Battle Chasers” and “Danger Girl” were plagued by delays, “Crimson” kept on going lasting twenty four issues and finishing out the story it set forth to tell. 
“Crimson” is a vampire story at heart, but there is so much more to it than just that. While the main character Alex Elder is a vampire there are a slew of other creatures inhabiting the world. From werewolves, to dragons, to angels and demons, “Crimson” has it all. Alex was a teenager who had the unfortunate luck of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Alex and his friends went out for a drive through Central Park and were ambushed by a gang of vampires. Alex narrowly “survives” and thus becomes a vampire himself. Under the tutelage of Ekimus, one of the beings responsible for creating vampires millennia ago, and the friendship of Joe, a vampire who takes Alex under his wing for a time, Alex discover his purpose in life. As it turns out Alex is the chosen one and must do battle with a host of nasties, ranging from Templar Knights to Lisseth, the queen mother of vampires. But there are a slew of other characters and plot points, not the least of which is Scarlet X, the sexy monster hunter with a heart of gold. And Saint George the dragon slayer, who is reborn in the body of an African American mounted police officer. The series is nothing if not ambitious. With so many concepts and characters being dumped on the reader, it is a wonder that the ending is as satisfying as it is. 
   I always knew this would be my final entry for my month of thankfulness. I knew that “Crimson” had a big impact on me, I just didn't realize how much until reading these issues again. I have always loved monsters, and when I heard about a book with a vampire man character I was intrigued. When I saw Humberto Ramos' art I was enthralled. I had seen Ramos on a handful of books before, “Gen 13” and “Impulse”, but I had never seen it like this. The art exploded off the page. I was in love. 
   “Crimson” was the first book I made sure I had every issue of. It sparked something in me. Up until that point I was just happy reading comics, if I missed an issue, oh well. I could always imagine what had happened or see if a friend had that issue. With “Crimson”, I needed it all. I spent my allowances and birthday money looking for back issues. I read them so much the covers came off, so I had to buy the trades, which also took a beating from my constant reading and my constant loaning out to friends. As a teenager, I didn't have the knowledge of proper care for my books. Crimson lit a fire under me that has never been extinguished to this day. 
   I realized today that even if my art doesn't always show it, I owe a lot to Ramos. His big feet and big hands have always stayed with me. I remember trying to emulate the way his clothes fell on characters, it sadly always looked horrible when I did it. Staring at his art the past few days had made me realize how much I adore his art. And how much change you can see in his art from issue one to issue twenty four. Ramos remains one of my favorite artists and this is a large reason why. 
   “Crimson” pushed all the right buttons for me at the right time. It had an epic story that was earth shaking, it had breath taking art, and it had a consistent tone through out. While it may not be the best comic ever, it is one I am most thankful for. It made me start to pay attention to creators, it made me want to create my own comics, it made me want to find more books that were not just capes ant tights. Crimson made me the comic lover I am today. I owe it all the thanks I can offer.

The Console Slayer for 11/26/13

First Console Memories

   I've been in a nostalgic mood lately when it comes to games so I thought we'd talk about our first console memories.

   Are you old enough to remember your first console memories? I would have been about 4 years old when I got my first console. Like a lot of people, my first home console was a Nintendo Entertainment System. It was the Action Set with the orange/red Zapper. Some of my earliest memories are playing, surprise surprise, Super Mario Bros. I still remember the big screen TV I played it on. I could list the memories with SMB but those are a dime a dozen since practically everyone that's played games has those same memories too. I remember having fun with the Zapper and Duck Hunt too. I always hated that asshole dog. I knew I hit those ducks...
   I also remember getting other games too, unfortunately some of them absolutely terrible. Back to the Future was horrible. I remember never being able to get past the malt shop level. Tapper did it right, not BttF. I also remember having the terrible NES port of the GREAT arcade game Strider. That game was hard and confusing to me as a small kid, although I did make it pretty far. I didn't like it then and I still don't like it. Haha.
   The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game. Where do I start with this one? Cool cover art, not so great of a game. It's not a terrible game, but it's not that great either. Pretty damn hard. How about the infamous dam stage? The game is perhaps most well-known for this perceived “atrocity” of a stage. I'll admit it was pretty frustrating at times and made me angry but as time went on, I could speedrun that bitch and take little damage. I never did beat that game as a kid but I could make it close to the last stage. I still haven't beat it as an adult. Then there's the Game Genie. I just recently re-added the Game Genie for the NES to my game collection. I remember trading codes with friends before the time of the internet. When games were ass hard, like “NES hard” as the term has come to be, if you weren't cheating, you weren't trying.

   What are some of your first console memories?
   For the tune of the day, I share my favorite arrangement of my favorite track from F-Zero, called “Big Blue”. This arrangement is from Super Smash Bros. Melee however:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

How to Kill a Vampire: Fangs in Folklore, Film and Fiction Review

Liisa Ladouceur

ECW Press

       Among the sea of vampire books out there on the market, How to Kill a Vampire is something for both horror and non-horror fans. It looks at the how to defeat and defend yourself against the vampires. While chronicling the development of vampires in fiction and the origins of the first cases of vampirism. Even investigating the different countries with each own folklore in vampires. Outside of covering the origins of vampires, defending yourself from them, and the different ways to kill vampires. It offers whole chapters on the various of weapons to combat a vampire, famous fictional vampire slayers, and the compelling vampire suicide. It covers everything from the original Dracula novel to Twilight series with other famous titles spread across the length of book.
Halloween ended about a month ago, but How to Kill a Vampire makes a perfect gift for the upcoming holiday season. If you consider an expert in vampires, this book is a fun and educational experience that will expend your insight on this subject. -Panagiotis Drakopoulos

Marvel Zombies: Are You Game? 24/11/2013

Attention heroes & SHIELD agents! I'm back with loads of Marvel Heroes updates & a bit of Marvel Avengers Alliance as well, so read on...Also, MH fans can join the group we have going for our very own CBNAH MH guild here:

Marvel Heroes
Patch 2.02 is out & Gambit is in the house, mes amis!

Patch 2.02 Highlights (complete patch notes here:
-Gambit! You can now play as the Ragin' Cajun! With Gambit busy saving all the damsels in distress, Domino will now be in charge of selling Fortune cards at the hubs.
*Minor changes to Scarlet Witch, Squirrel Girl & Thor.
-A new quest now gets activated for L15 players wherein you get free 250G as the reward (once per account, retroactive for existing players).
-New Item Slot: Pets- Equip your favorite cosmetic pet or reusable holo vendor on your heroes!
-PVP Ring Upgrades- The Signets of Odin, Sif, Frigga & Fandral have been slightly buffed.
-More uniques to find, particularly for heroes without unique in certain gear slots!
-Noir costume for Luke Cage now available in the in-game store for 950G.
-Chase costumes are on sale once more! Purchase them from the in-game store until November 26 at 1325 Gs each.
-LOADS of improvements made to summoned allies.
-Work continues to optimize the currently laggy game performance. Additional details here:

-The Asgard event has been completed & the Bifrost Bridge has been unlocked, allowing you to head into Odin's Palace in Asgard. The palace is the new MH hub & it looks splendid.
-The appropriate rewards you were meant to get for participating in the Asgard event will be automatically delivered after the next patch at the most by early December.
-Check out the recently released trailer for Loki here:
-Once in the palace you first need to eliminate all the Dark Elves there & finally defeat Kurse.
-After that you unlock...

PVP: Fire & Ice
-This is now in open beta stage & will undergo about 6 weeks of fine tuning. Read up on the upcoming updates to PVP in these 2 links:
-Check the 2.02 patch notes for to see the many changes that have already been implemented.
-If you haven't yet got a chance to check out PVP you can watch the PVP livestream Gazillion held on Twitch recently:

Missions & zones
-They are Working on a new target dummy in the Training Room to simulate stage 2 Doom (it will die & respawn, so you can test your time to kill) & a target dummy that shoots a rifle at you to test your defensive abilities.
-The rock troll that Thor smashed at the start of The Dark World is coming soon!
-Working on a Doop level for X-Defense.

Various ETAs
Kingpin terminal- early December
Next Asgard chapter 10 (with Loki boss fight)- December
Ms. Marvel DPS review- December 19
Expanded roles for vendors- December & January
Cap's rework- January
Bronx Zoo- early 2014
Raid zone- Q1 2014 release

Iridium TRIPLE Boost Giveaway!
-Guys this DOES work. Just follow the instructions on this link & voila!

Marvel Avengers Alliance

Nothing much on this front except that the Unstoppable lockboxes for Juggernaut are on sale for 11 more days. I've bought 30 boxes for myself & got 2 more covers for him. 2 more left to get. :c

Anyways, that's all for now. MH fans watch out for my post on Wednesday- LOADS of updates from Doomsaw himself (including an update on the Mac version)! So until then, keep things heroic!

Artists Assemble- Thundercats

A weekly event where members of the Facebook group can submit art based a specific theme. The art must be your own and match the theme. 

This weeks theme is Thundercats.

Cheetara by Breannah Luini

Lion-O by Adam Bayes

Mini Lion-O by Jason Graziano

Lion-O and Mumm-Ra by Jason Hendrickson

Lion-O: Lord of the Thunderkittens by Christopher Masson

Lion-O and Cheetara by Melbert Martin

Panthro by Christopher Masson

Mumm-Ra by Rodney Celerio

Panthro by Jason Graziano

Lion-O by Melbert Martin

Tygra by Christopher Masson

Panthro by Adam Bayes

Panthro - with a Mo by Christopher Masson

Lion-O by Jason Hendrickson

Kris Artman Carroll as Lion-O

Tygra by Adam Bayes

Panthro by Dennis Mendoza

Cheetara by Zeena Benjamin

Lion-O by Christopher Masson

Snarf by Richard Chin

Saturday, November 23, 2013

FROM THE ASHES: Segment # 11

Lost Cities Above the Clouds

   One tiny side note I must mention, this movie came to theaters on my birthday...a yeah before I was born, that is. Anecdotes aside, this week we travel to Hayao Miyazaki's Castle In The Sky. While Miyazaki both wrote and directed, Isao Takahata (1935-) produced the film. He is also the co-founder of Studio Ghibli. Another familiar crew member, Joe Hisaishi, returns as composer, bringing to life the grand sense of flight and fancy within this film. This 1986 feature was the first film produced and released under the banner of Studio Ghibli. However, with so many grand successes following, this film often gets outshined and at one of the longest running times (its over 2 hours), that's unfortunate. Many of the elements of the story and setting are inspired by Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. I personally found that ironic, as Gulliver's Travels is a personal favorite of mine, while Castle In The Sky is not high on my list. Through no fault of its own; mind you it's still a Miyazaki film. Thus, its still got a lot in its corner.

   For me personally I see this film as a great tribute to architecture and all the lost cities of literature. From Atlantis to Pompeii, this film gathers a bit of each stories adventure and mystical nature. This film has scale. The environments are vast; showcasing an expansive variety of locations as well. From a Victorian era themed pirate ship to a long-lost technologically advanced society that defied gravity itself, this film has it covered. Aaaaaaaand that's where my high praise begins its slippery slope. While I do admire the film's creativity, it all feels rather...borrowed. Its still original to be sure, however it does not surpass the sum of its parts. The characters are mostly passive, which seems ironic as everyone is always doing something. I wish there were more than a couple quiet moments in this film. The story is very linear. While that's not uncommon in many films, it just feels so blase here. As I stated before, this film's strong point is its nod to era specific architecture. It looks stunning. The structural layout and design of city spaces both on earth and in sky are dynamic and detailed. It definitely keep you wanting to explore the visuals throughout the film's progression. The final 20 minutes of the film are satisfying to the utopian fantasy sci-fi fan in all of us. There are many beautifully animated moments I enjoy throughout this film, and the score compliments them quite nicely. As for which cast to view it with, either is honestly fine. The story is simple, the settings are vast, the characters are a tad bland but still capable of charm and warmth. Sometimes the movie feels too long for its story, other times I feel it should have been a miniseries to properly express itself. Despite all my rantings, Castle In The Sky is still an entertaining adventure flick even with its long running time. May each lost traveler find their own point of interest in this tale above the clouds. Enjoy!
From The Ashes, V.~

Friday, November 22, 2013

Throwback Thursday 11/21/13

The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe 1983

   This month I am going to do something a little different. Since Thanksgiving is the month for us here in the US, I thought that this month each Throwback Thursday will be a character, book, or story I am thankful for. This week “The Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe” takes the stage. 
   In 1983, Marvel decided to take on the daunting task of cataloging almost every Marvel character. Mark Gruenwald had the daunting task of creating an encyclopedia of the Marvel Universe. From the Abomination to Zzzax the “The Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe” gives an excellent overview of nearly every Marvel character. With illustrations by some of Marvel's best talent at the time. Delving back into these issues were a treat. There really isn't a lot to say about the OHotMU, it's a resource tool. If you ever need to figure out what exactly Thundra's powers are, or lean Ursa Major's origin you are in luck. These books are full of that, along with technical drawings of buildings, vehicles, and weapons. What more could you want from a book like this? It makes me smile just thinking about it. 
   When I was a kid I couldn't afford a lot of comics, but what I could buy were issues of the OHotMU. I would devour them, read every single entry, learn all I could about characters who I knew well, and others who were a complete mystery to me. These books turned me into a knowledge hungry Marvel fan. I had to know who each character was, who their opposite number was, who would win in a fight. I would invent stories with characters who I had never read a comic from, yet I knew their history. This book sparked my imagination. I would think about how awesome a team up between Stingray and Spider-Man would go. Or Stingray and Wolverine, or Stingray and Doctor Strange. Can you tell I had a slight obsession with Stingray? I don't have a real good reason why I like him. It may be that I had an obsession with the ocean and scuba diving, or it could be I just thought he looked really cool. Regardless, this was the first minor character I fell in love with, I still get giddy when I see him in a comic now a days. 
   One thing I noticed going over these issues, I only had a handful of these as a kid. I never had much of the first half of the alphabet, I had a lot of the later half. Looking at the “S” issues in particular brought back some great memories. So many C and D list characters became my favorites because a whole page was devoted to them. I always though that if a full page was devoted to a character they must be important. Sadly Red Wolf was not a lynch pin in the Marvel Universe. 
   The OHotMU changed my life. I liked comics as a kid, but these books made me love them. Made me want to devour every scrap of knowledge I could find. It made me discover what kinds of characters I wanted to follow. It was the stepping stone I needed to climb that impenetrable wall that is comics. While there may not be a story to the OHotMU, it is one of my favorite comics of all time. It made me the fan I am today.

Screen Drone #6

This segment is about interesting TV. And sometimes movies. Smashed over the head with an Oz brick.

Storage Wars Texas 318: This show is sweeping the continent and I'm addicted. I don't know why, but I just am. Give a try and I bet you will be too.

How I Met Your Mother 910: Listen all of y'all, it's a ZABKA-TAGE!!!!

Almost Human 101-102: Agents of Shield boring you? Try Almost Human, it has the budget, the fun, and the imagination that the previous is sorely lacking.

Axe Cop 109: Someone is trying to steal the sun? Not if AC has anything to say about it!

Adventure Time 541: Part two of Demon Blood. Can Finn rescue Jake in time? Well..ya, of course he can.
This one, we get some anticipated Lady Rainacorn action.

Comic Book Men 306: Even the guys get STORAGE WAR fever.

The Legend of Korra 211-214: Four episodes of none stop battle to decide the fate of the Avatar and the spirit world. Don't miss these quickly released season enders.

South Park 1708: Part two of what I would call GAME OF CONSOLES. After her betrayal last episode, Lady McKormic flourishes in her grace and beauty.

Parks and Recreation 609: Ron sells his cabin. Leslie deals with the on setting reality of losing her bff.

Son of Anarchy 611: Ron ...Pearlllllmaaaan.....

The Big Bang Theory 709: Thanksgiving and beer.

Modern Family 508: ZOOOOOOO-EEEE!!!!

American Horror Story 307: Character development, character development and character development! New bonds are forged. Also, dead kids orgy.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 205: Oh Mikey...

East Bound and Down 408: Epic finale to an epic show. I'm guessing this is the end of EBAD.