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Comic Pick of the Week February 19 2014

Great Stories selects….


Punisher #2 (Marvel)







Marvel’s new Punisher series with Nathan Edmonson and Mitch Gerads at the helm is a return to the Punisher’s glory days stylistically from the early 90’s with a strong supporting cast and our favorite vigilante networking heavily to gain information and supplies on the streets of his new town…Los Angeles.  His main target, the dangerous gang Dos Soles has a new weapon in their efforts to take over Tinseltown thanks to the terror organization AIM.  Meanwhile, two separate adversaries are on the trail of Frank Castle and determined to bring him down.




The action and story are really starting off very strong in this book.  Do yourself a favor by picking up the first two issue which can be found in comic shops from coast to coast!

Great Stories are everywhere!


-Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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The Honor Roll: Valentine’s Day Picks (Part Two)

The Honor Roll is a Great Stories feature column that gives you the best in class movies, books, and multimedia from the Great Stories team.  This month Jim and Chris make their top picks for the best Valentines Day features of all time!  Here are Jim’s selections!

Titanic“Nothing on Earth could come between them.”



The most expensive movie ever made up until that time became the most successful movie ever made up until that time (not adjusted for inflation). This is an all too rare case of a movie living up to it’s blockbuster hype. It still sucks me in every time I see it, even 18 years after I saw it for the first time. James Cameron’s sweeping epic is a triumph of both technical filmmaking and old-fashioned storytelling, expertly dovetailing eye-popping visuals (the actual sinking is just unbelievable) with an absorbing love story. Leonardo Dicaprio and Kate Winslet deservedly became superstars (and still are!). Titanic needs no help from me in feeding it’s hype, but I have to admit—it’s one example of a movie that makes people into lifelong movie fans.

Chris’ Comment:  Ho-hum…how original!  Haven’t we just seen this one before?


Roman Holiday

“Romance is romantic in Rome!”


 The moonbeam that is Audrey Hepburn graces our movie screens for the first time in a leading role. Gregory Peck stands back and lets her glow. I was never much of a Peck fan, always found him a tad dull and upright. Here, though, he relaxes and enjoys himself as a cynical reporter. His smoothness blends nicely into the enchantment that Audrey creates. Eddie Albert is on hand with some bits as Peck’s photographer pal. Put them together with the lively feel of early ‘50s Rome (it was shot in it’s entirety there) and you have a Romance Classic for the ages. 

Chris’ Comment:  A fine selection and true classic.  Gregory Peck is a strong lead along with the beautiful and charming Audrey Hepburn.  The story bears a striking resemblance to many of the formulaic Disney animated princess tales that we are all fondly accustomed to, with the exception of the non-Disney ending.  Watch without fear of wasted time!  



“Life.  Family. Love.”




A boisterous valentine. Cher’s best movie performance, as well as one of Nicolas Cage’s best early roles (oy, whatever happened to Nicolas Cage?!).  Great  support by many others including Vincent Gardenia, Olympia Dukakis and John Mahoney. The Italian stereotypes abound, but since the movie keeps it’s footing just outside of reality, there’s nothing here that I’d call offensive. John Patrick Shanley’s Oscar-winning script overflows with great lines (Feodor Chaliapin Jr. has a couple of well-timed comic triumphs). It’s impossible to feel depressed after watching this movie!

Chris’ Comment:  If you like your movies done with over-the-top motif and grand stereotype, you may have found the perfect film to satisfy your romantic heartstrings.  Featuring Cher as the adult daughter of an Italian family that is struggling through their relationships and Nicholas Cage in one of his earliest and finest performances as the disaffected brother of Cher’s hapless suitor (played by a very entertaining Danny Aiello), this romantic film manages to not take itself too seriously.  Check out the scene with Cher confronting Nicholas Cage about attending his brother’s upcoming wedding in the basement of the bakery for one of the best performances of Cage’s career. 

When Harry Met Sally

“Can men and women be friends, or does sex always get in the way?”


Rob Reiner’s modern classic, with Nora Ephron contributing the witty script. It’s now pretty much considered the prototype of the modern romantic comedy, although you could argue that Annie Hall and Manhattan got there first. Billy Crystal is at his absolute best (some of his observations about love and dating really hit home with me) and a new movie star was made with Meg Ryan (she’s missed!). With cinematography by future Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld.

Chris’ Comment: Really Jim….you thief!  LOL.  Just kidding.  My man Jim does have a keen sense for quality most of the time.  Here is no exception, but you can see my comments in yesterday’s entry.  🙂

Say Anything

“A Lloyd meets girl story.”


The Spectacular Now

“Life is a series of moments called now.”






Both of them have misfits finding each other at the conclusion of the turbulent high school years. Say Anything is Cameron Crowe’s wonderfully eccentric directorial debut, with his warm and mellow humor leaking out all over. John Cusack made women all over the world fall in love with him and made guys all over the world want to be him (well, except maybe for the kickboxing aspirations). Ione Skye isn’t completely convincing as a superbrain about to become part of some illustrious thinktank, but she’s attractive, appealing and matches up well with Cusack. With a dream of a supporting cast, including John Mahoney as Skye’s slippery dad. James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now is the most recent addition to my list. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley make the most electric cinematic couple I’ve seen in quite some time (this is one of those movies where you yell at the screen, telling the hero to wise up already and go out with her!). Looking at them, there’s no question that they belong together and they belong together NOW. This doesn’t have the hangdog appeal of Crowe’s film, but it has a smart humor all of it’s own.

Chris’ Comment:  Tale of two movies here folks.  On the one hand, you have a classic 80’s teen romance with John Cusack under Cameron Crowe’s fine direction.  The other, a movie that in my mind will fall into the dustbin of celluloid history with nary a whimper.  And that is not to say it is a terrible film.  It is just that The Spectacular Now, to me, features one of the most unlikeable leads in the history of romance movies.  Miles Teller, whose most high profile role to date was in the equally unimpressive Project X, could end up making a living off of portraying these types of characters but I am hoping that there may be a role for him in a future film that does not ask to be punched between the eyes by the average movie-goer.  Not that I would ever stoop to such a level of course.  





And that does it for this edition of The Honor Roll.  We’ll be back with a graphic novel review and another comic pick of the week in the coming days.  Hope you had an awesome Valentine’s Day!


-Chris and Jim for the Great Stories Team 

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The Honor Roll: Valentines Day Special Edition (Part One)

The Honor Roll is a Great Stories feature column that gives you the best in class movies, books, and multimedia from the Great Stories team.  This month Jim and Chris make their top picks for the best Valentines Day features of all time!  Here is part one featuring Chris’ picks.  Jim’s will follow tomorrow evening, just in time for you to settle in for your date night with that special someone!


“Nothing on Earth could come between them.”



What can be said of what I would argue is James Cameron’s last good film (bah to Avatar)?  Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as the leads in a tale that almost everyone knows.  Though we know that the characters these two portrayed, Jack and Rose, are fictional, the stories are lent great credibility when existing on the backdrop of an actual event.  We watch this incredibly tragic historical event and cannot help but be immersed in the events being seen through the eyes of these two characters.  I was on a date when I saw this one back in 1997 and must admit to wiping some tears away to hide them from the young lady I was with (I am not ashamed to admit now).

Jim’s Comment:  Catch my thoughts in tomorrow’s edition, as I cannot help to agree with my good friend Chris who once again shows supremely wonderful taste in his film selections. (Disclaimer:  Jim did not necessarily write this, but you can still get his thoughts in tomorrow’s edition!)


The Princess Bride

“It’s as real as the feelings you feel.”



Rob Reiner’s genius is on display in this cult classic fairy tale for the entire family.  Some may say it is a quirky pick for a Valentine’s Day romance selection, but believe me you have not seen the quirkiest yet!  Hey, I am picking them to please all of the different personality types that exist in my head and hopefully behind the screens of all you blog readers out there!  What we have here is Cary Elwes and Robin Wright as the perfect romantic leads chasing a love that proves hard to come by.  In support, definitive performances from Mandy Patinkin and Wallace Shawn.  I challenge you to find two more memorable roles for these fine actors.  Andre the Giant (of wrestling fame), Billy Crystal, and Chris Sarandon are all awesome in their roles too, which will have you repeating lines forever and a day thereafter.  A truly great movie experience with a pure and classic message of love that will go to any length to be realized.

Jim’s Comment:  Largely ignored when it came out in 1987, this has become one of the most beloved movies of all time (attaboy, Rob Reiner—two movies on this list!). I’m not sure if this is a romance movie so much as it’s a parody of one. However, this is one of those films that never cease to bring a smile to my face. A great cast, a wonderful script by William Goldman (based on his book—if you want more of this wonderful adventure and good humor, go read it now!) and a ton of memorable moments. Inigo and Count Rugen’s climactic duel makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Have fun storming the castle!


When Harry Met Sally

“Can men and women be friends, or does sex always get in the way?”






Rob Reiner does it again, this time with the talented Billy Crystal in the prominent role along with the always charismatic and beautiful Meg Ryan (man, did Dennis Quaid ever screw that one up).   This one contains some of the best comedic timing and delivery on display in any romantic comedy.  Nora Ephron’s script is perfect and she deserves as many accolades for the fine film this turned out to be as the other three principles I mentioned.  Is there any seen from a romantic comedy more famous that the simulated restaurant big-O that Meg Ryan so perfectly pulls off?  Yeah, that one may make you feel a little uncomfortable if you happen to pop it in with your parents in the room!  LOL.

Jim’s Comment: See my review tomorrow…..Chris is such a copy cat.  He must have cheated and looked at my list!

The Notebook

“Behind every great love is a great story.”



How clever of those Hollywood types to be working our company name into their film!  Haha….just kidding.  Trust me, this pick was purely coincidental.  Nicholas Spark’s book is a real winner (especially for the females out there).  I remember being coerced into seeing this one really against my will, but came away from it truly appreciating it for the effective film it was.  Ryan Gosling’s star was just budding at the time of this release and Rachel McAdams brought her gifts to the screen which made for perfect pairing.  James Garner and Sam Shepard were excellent in their support roles.  The story itself is a classic tale of two young lovers from the opposite sides of the tracks who are separated by the expectations and desires of her parents.  The years later, after she is betrothed, is faced with a difficult decision to reunite with her true first love or duty to her fiance.

Jim’s Comment:  Effective and well-cast. This is one of those modern love stories that affect some people passionately. Ryan Gosling is one of those skillful actors whom you never see calling attention to himself, James Garner reminds everyone that he’s one of the most likeable performers ever to grace movie and television screens, and Rachel McAdams is spirited , humorous and—-yep— easy on the eyes.


The Butterfly Effect

“Change one thing, change everything.” 



This one is for all you single folks who are jaded by love this week.  Yes, love is pain.  Love is sacrifice.  And yes, sometimes love stinks (cue Adam Sandler via The Wedding Singer….another movie that almost made it to this list!).  The Butterfly Effect is decidedly a more tragic story than a romance.  But that does not mean that love is not the principle driver of the experience.  If you are looking for a happy Hollywood ending, I encourage you to look elsewhere, but a fine movie this is.  It surprises me to say that a movie with Ashton Kutcher in the lead is such an effective piece, but this one is going to hit you hard, and his performance is part of that heavy formula.  Amy Smart shows wonderful range as her character takes on quite a metamorphosis through the events of the film, and I developed a new-found respect for her acting talents.

Jim’s Comment:  A romance movie????? Oooooooooh-kay.  Folks, this is an extremely strange choice to have on this list. While I was watching it (I hadn’t seen it previously), I kept shaking my head and smirking while thinking “Chris actually questioned my choice of The Shop Around the Corner as a Christmas movie, while thinking THIS is a romance movie?” Truth be told, it is well-made and engrossing. There is a romance IN it that is handled well enough.  However, a large portion of the film is DISTURBING. Try this: say to your significant other “Let’s sit down and watch a romance.” Then pop this sweet bouquet of a movie into your DVD player. And watch the fun begin. Go ahead. I dare ya. I would love to hear their reaction if you aren’t laid up in the hospital after having been beaten to a pulp. 




Back at you tomorrow with Jim’s picks!


The Great Stories Team 

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Comic Pick of the Week February 12 2014

Great Stories selects……


Sherlock Holmes:  Moriarty Lives #2 (Dynamite)







Writer David Liss and artist Daniel Indro bring you the second installment of a five part mini-series that focuses on the villain we all though vanquished by Robert Downey Junior’s Sherlock Holmes.  The first story picks up at the conclusion of the movie’s events in Switzerland where Moriarty re-surfaces from his presumed death and strikes out to re-start his life.  Liss writes him in direct conflict with characters perhaps even less desirable than the villain we know and protecting a young orphan, maybe to confuse us as to the roles of protagonist and antagonist and it has us interested to see where the story may lead in the second issue.  So, if you are fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s world, look no further than this and other Sherlock Holmes series that have been published by Dynamite Comics!


Great Stories are everywhere!


-Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Fresh Popped Corn: February 2014 Movie Trailers

Once per month, we will be taking a look at movies released for the upcoming month, and telling our readers where we would be spending our movie dollars each week, based on the look of the trailers.  Links to the chosen trailers will be provided so you can see just what we are so excited about.  Movie release dates are subject to change.


February 7th

The month of February begins with the beloved toy line turned blockbuster movie, The Lego Movie.  Will ferrell, Will Arnett, Morgan Freeman, and Alison Brie are just a few of the recognizable talents lending their voices to the characters on screen and it is probably a shoe-in to take this week’s box office prize.  The Monuments Men will likely be no slouch in ticket sales with George Clooney, Bill Murray, Matt Damon, and John Goodman all part of a platoon that are sent to retrieve and protect works of art from nazi thieves during WWII.  Vampire Academy looks to be a cross between Harry Potter and Twilight as a school of mortal peaceful vampires is threatened by the evil immortal race of vampires.  Olga Kurylenkom, Gabriel Byrne, and Zoey Deutch all star.  In limited release, there is a Cavemen starring Chad Michael Murray and Camilla Belle in a romantic comedy drama that we have probably seen dozens of times before.  Fantastic Fear of Everything is a quirky dark comedy starring Simon Pegg who cannot get a hold on life due to his irrational fears.  A Field in England looks to be a psychedelic British treasure hunt comedic drama which apparently we are too sober to understand or appreciate.  Nurse 3D is a erotic horror starring Paz de la Huerta as a crazy nurse who develops an unhealthy fascination with her co-worker (Katrina Bowden).  Kids for Cash is a documentary about a possibly corrupt judge who may have taken money to lock up teens for minor offenses in a small US district.  The Pretty One is a drama about identical twins who end up in a car accident that results in the death of one, and results unexpectedly in the other adopting her sister’s old life.  Zoe Kazan plays the twins.  We are all in for The Monuments Men, although maybe some of the historical facts may be in question, looks like a very entertaining drama with a great cast.  Check out the trailer below.




February 14th

Kicking things off for Valentine’s week, we have a couple of remakes of older movies.  About Last Night stars Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall,and Joy Bryant for an examination on love for two couples with distinct challenges.  Endless Love is a remake of a Brooke Shields movie starring Gabriella Wilde as a priveleged and sheltered young lady whose world is transformed by a young man from the other side of the tracks and sparking a runaway train love affair made only more complicated by the parents who attempt to keep them apart.  Decidedly not a love story, but also falling into the remake category is Robocop with Samuel Jackson and Michael Keaton, rebooting the successful franchise.  Adult World stars Emma Roberts as an aspiring poet who takes a job in an adult book store while searching for her path to success.  John Cusack stars as her college professor who attempts to guide her way.  Jimmy P is a psychological drama about the plight of the plains Indian in America, starring Benicio del Toro.  And Lucky Bastard looks to be what should be a direct to the waste basket movie about an adult movie gone wrong.  But the movie we’ll be looking out for is Winter’s Tale, starring Collin Farrel as a man who may have been reincarnated from a tortured soul who once had love stripped away from him by death but sets on a mission to make their world right.  Perfect for a Valentine’s Day date!  Check out the trailer below:




February 21st

3 Days to Kill sees Kevin Costner do his best Liam Neeson as a secret agent/assassin Dad who tries his best to get out of the business but is pulled back in to preserve his family.  Pompeii is Paul Anderson’s (Resident Evil franchise/Event Horizon) take on the famous historic city that was destroyed following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.  Barefoot stars Evan Rachel Wood as a “not altogether” young woman who accompanies a young well to do man (Scott Speedman) to his brother’s wedding to odd result.  And In Secret tells the tale of a young woman forced into a loveless marriage but falling in love with another man, who helps to plot an “accidental death” for her husband.  Elizabeth Olsen, Jessica Lange, and Tom Felton star.  Our choice includes a little shot of testosterone after a week of romantic comedies.  Pompeii seems to serve it up to us and we are hopeful that Paul Anderson can recapture some movie magic that he has on occasion shown.




February 28th

Non-Stop has Liam Neeson attempting to save a commercial flight as an air marshall as a killer picks off victims every twenty minutes.  Julianne Moore co-stars.  Son of God is the story of Jesus told from his birth to resurrection.  Welcome to Yesterday is a time travel thriller starring a bunch of unknown teens who begin to change time to catastrophic effect, leaving the group to devise a way to undue all of their damage.  The Bag Man stars Robert De Niro and another case/bad full of something we may never know (see Ronin).  John Cusack is charged with delivering its contents by any means necessary until Rebecca Da Costa’s troubled woman enters the picture to foil his plans.  And Repentance sees Forest Whitaker try to outdo his scary bad self (see Last King of Scotland for just how scary he can be) as a man of questionable mental stability who targets a life coach (Mike Epps) with a questionable past for revenge.  This has turned out to be the best week of the month and our hardest choice with four real contenders.  We will settle for a two movie tie for our pick and give you the following trailers (Son of God and Non-Stop) for your enjoyment:






See you in a month for another edition of Fresh Popped Corn!


-Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Comic Pick of the Week February 5th 2014

Great Stories selects…..


Punisher #1 (Marvel)







Ever since the unjustified cancellation of Greg Rucka’s Punisher run, fans of Frank Castle have only had the Thunderbolts title to get their fix, which to be honest, until recently has been a very disappointing book.  Now, with a new creative team on board for a solo Frank title, we must admit to being pretty excited.  Nathan Edmonson and Mitch Gerads take over the reigns for the storytelling and art, respectively.  These two are no strangers to military-oriented action comics as the pair have collaborated on Images’ ongoing The Activity series.  From the looks of the first issue, and the interviews that have been given about the direction of the title, we are encouraged that they may not be straying too far from the elements of the storytelling that made Greg Rucka’s run so magnificent.


Punisher #1 is available today wherever comics are sold!

Great Stories are everywhere!


-Chris (for the Great Stories team)


Up next, we’ll have the February movie trailer previews and soon after that our staff picks for the best couples-themed movies in honor of Valentines Day!

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Comic Pick of the Week January 29th 2014

Great Stories selects……


Sunnyville Stories Volume 2 (Different Mousetrap)







Max West is back with volume 2 of his flagship work.  More adventures await the loveable characters of Sunnyville in this volume that features Rusty and Sam helping to reunite family members, dealing with the social awkwardness of school dances, and putting on a drama production with the entire Sunnyville youth ensemble.  In between the main episodes, Max has cleverly added bonus vignettes that serve as well-placed bridges between the stories.  In all, you get four full length episodes, two bonus vignettes, and additional director-cut style sketchbook pages.


These stories are perfect all ages material for people looking to break their younger children into the world of reading and comics.


You can get Sunnyville Stories, Volumes 1 and 2 at


You can also get Volume 1 at this link:


Great Stories are everywhere!


-Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Novel Suggestions: The Lons by Peggy Rambach

Great Stories’ regular book review feature will discuss both new and older releases from mainstream and independent authors alike.  The selections are made of the bloggers own personal reading preferences and not solicited in any way.  We would enjoy your feedback and discussion!





Peggy Rembach is a newer author on the scene who has received some accolades in the New England market with two Massachusetts Individual Artist Grant awards and a strong teaching pedigree in the fields of Corrections, Health Care, and Medical Humanities.  As well, she has taught Creative Writing at Chatham University and for the University of New Hampshire’s graduate programs.  Residing in Northeastern Massachusetts, she wrote the book I had the pleasure of previewing for you called The Lons. It is not Peggy’s first effort, but it is her first in some time as her last book, Fighting Gravity, was published thirteen years ago.



The Lons is a story that centers around the discovery of a mysterious set of lifeforms growing in the watermelon fields of a farmer named Leonard Slinket.  Slinket is a man who leads a solitary life and when he happens upon the strange wiffle ball-sized shapes growing in the place of his watermelons, he is at once bewildered and frustrated by their lack of growth.  But he quickly senses that there is more to these ‘lons (as Leonard likes to call his crop) than meets the eye.  Leonard’s mundane and paint-by-numbers life has just been given new meaning with his quest to solve the enigma of the lon’s origin and the reason for their presence on his property.

Adding particular complication is the uneasy friendship Leonard has with younger and more extroverted friend, John Bigby.  When Leonard brings John in on his secret, a clash of philosophy immediately sets a chain of events into motion that will change both their worlds possibly forever.  John’s romantic interest, Lydia Rice, is a science teacher who also lends her help to solving the great mystery before them, but at what cost?

Rambach’s story runs 123 pages, and readers who pick up the book will find themselves with a story that is brief enough to be fit into a busy and active lifestyle, but not so brief to be left wanting.  Her writing style will be a pleasure for those readers who enjoy highly descriptive prose.  Her lengthy sentences might cause some casual or distracted readers to go back and look again at what they read, losing themselves in the detail.  There is no doubt that Rambach’s style is to flesh out her character’s thoughts and environment as vividly as possible.

 Peggy Rambach, author, undated photo



Artist Pat Keck provides the front cover of the book, which features the transfixed visage of Leonard Slinket holding one of the lons, which is not in proportion to the lons that actually inhabit Rambach’s story, but was undoubtedly done to inspire a more impactful visual effect.  The image, too, might lead one to believe that the story may be more directed towards a younger audience, but this is decidedly not the case after having read her work.  The story is certainly adult in theme, without being crass or inappropriate for a less mature audience.


If you are in the market for a new author, you could do far worse than picking up a copy of The Lons.  As a fan of short stories and novellas, that allow for a more streamlined reading experience, Rambach provides a nice option when the demands of life and responsibility may not accommodate another Stephen King or Tom Clancy style epic.  And her detailed prose will leave you with no uncertain impression of the characters and the world they reside.


– Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Comic Pick of the Week for January 22 2014

Great Stories selects……


Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #9 (Marvel)







Odd choice for a pick of the week.  Yes, it is one of the b-books in the Spider-man series, but it has Marco Checchetto at the artistic helm!  And it reunites the three characters that served as the first major cross-over in Greg Rucka’s unbelievably great Punisher run not too long ago (in The Omega Effect).  Yes, that’s enough for us to make this new team-up story our featured book.  Setting the stage for this reunion is a Superior Spider-Man on a serious rampage against the head of all crime syndicates in New York City.  Having taken down Owl, Vulture, Tombstone, White Dragon, and Kingpin, things are looking a lot more safe and secure.  But a new threat of unknown origin takes everyone by surprise by infiltrating the thought-to-be impenetrable Spider Island.  Check out part one of this story and then do yourself an even bigger favor and pick up those Rucka-Checchetto Punisher trade paperbacks!

Great Stories are everywhere!


-Chris (for the Great Stories team)

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Comic Pick of the Week for January 15th 2014

Great Stories selects…..


Curse (Boom Studios) #1 (of 4)







A father whose son is running out of time due to a debilitating disease take drastic measures to ensure his care.  A creature stalking the local woods that has claimed five victims in five months.  And a local sheriff desperate to solve the crime.  That is the set up for this first of four mini-series from Boom Studios and we like the feel and atmosphere being set by writers Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel.  The art is supplied by Riley Rossmo and Colin Lorimer.  The team is bringing us one of the most promising new horror series to emerge of late.  A blend of classic genre elements and the characters do not ring hollow as in many similar efforts we have laid our eyes and dollars on.  Enjoy!


Great Stories are everywhere!


-Chris (for the Great Stories team)