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Trailer Snark (December 15, 2018 Theatrical Trailers)

Welcome to Trailer Snark, a weekly column covering trailers for movies that will be released this week with thoughts from our roster of bloggers (Jessica from The Female Perspective, Ken from The Crank File, Jim from The Front Row View, Eric from View from Above, Robert from Cards and Counters, Wayne from The Dope Sheet, and Great Stories founder Chris).  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the previews!

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi (Disney) – Action/Advernture/Sci-Fi
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence.
Tag Line: None
Starring: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver
Plot: Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order.
Running Time: 152 minutes

Rob F: It’s finally here!!! We’re going to get some answers about Luke, Rey, and Snoke! We’re going to build on the greatest entertainment franchise in the history of mankind. This is way better than Christmas! Fan event tickets for Thursday’s first showing are locked and loaded on IMAX. May the Force be with you…
Chris: The reinvigorated franchise is back with the middle frame of its latest trilogy, and throngs of Star Wars faithful will never be the same.  Every movie is an event in and of itself.  Let the debate begin on the result.

Ferdinand (20th Century Fox Animation) – Animation/Adventure/Comedy
Rated PG for rude humor, action and some thematic elements
Tag Line: This Christmas, BULL-ieve.
Starring: John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Canavale
Plot: After Ferdinand, a bull with a big heart, is mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home. Determined to return to his family, he rallies a misfit team on the ultimate adventure.
Running Time: 106 minutes

Chris: With this week’s purchase of Fox’s film rights, don’t we technically consider this one a Disney Film?  Is there a princess in it anywhere?  Is John Cena the princess?  Will John Cena now visit my house to bodyslam me through my coffee table?  News at 11.
Rob F: Looks mediocre, but will probably end up watching it as a rental with my youngest down the road.  

Permanent (Magnolia) – Comedy
Rated PG-13 for crude sexual references, language and thematic elements
Tag Line: Hairstyles are temporary. Families are forever.
Starring: Patricia Arquette, Rainn Wilson, Kira McLean
Plot: Permanent is a comedy about bad hair, adolescence, and socially awkward family members. It involves life-altering permanents and poorly-made toupees. Obstacles to daily survival ensue.
Running Time: 93 minutes

Rob F: Hard pass. If this were a magazine I would not be a subscriber.
Chris: I wouldn’t buy a ticket with Rob’s wallet.

Beyond Skyline (Vertical Entertainment) – Action/Adventure/Horror
Rated R for sequences of bloody sci-fi violence, and language throughout.
Tag Line: None
Starring: Frank Grillo, Bojana Novakovic, Iko Uwais
Plot: A tough-as-nails detective embarks on a relentless pursuit to free his son from a nightmarish alien warship.
Running Time: 105 minutes

Chris:  I hadn’t even heard of this one before seeing the news of its release this week.  But it looks to me like a fun little theater outing.  Frank Grillo is bad*ss.
Rob F: I would probably enjoy renting this. It’s got no chance at the box office though.

Tickets Purchased:  Two for Star Wars….like it was a contest.

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My Fantasy Flight Star Wars Experience

I’ve been a Star Wars fan since the days of the original trilogy. Since then I’ve collected and been a fan of the books, toys, comic books, and video games. However, the one area of Star Wars that has deftly evaded me over the years is the role-playing games. Sure, I was aware of them back when West End Games held the license and I even have accumulated several of the sourcebooks, but for some reason I couldn’t find anyone else who played. I blame it on small town life and a role-playing environment that was dominated by Dungeons & Dragons. Nevertheless, my theory was that even though I’m not using the books for their primary reason, I’ll use them for reference books for any fan-fiction I might want to write about. Back then I wanted to know everything there was about the Star Wars universe. Nothing has changed.


After decades of waiting I finally found someone to play with, when I discovered a comics & games shop not far from where I live called Great Stories. This long awaited discovery came doubly useful as I was told participating in a RPG campaign would help me with developing story ideas as I am majoring in creative writing as well. Anyway, it was such a relief to find other fans of RPG games and Star Wars, I couldn’t wait to start playing.


For a first timer, let me first tell you, I had no idea how involved Fantasy Flight’s Star Wars Core rulebook was. Learning the dice and what they mean, how to determine what happens when you role, spending your experience points, how to allocate your ranks and characteristics. It’s no small feat. Luckily for me, the group I play with are all very patient with me and help me along. I still haven’t quite mastered it, but I’m definitely learning. Like Anakin, I too, am a slow learner. The best way to learn is to just play and read the rulebook when you have time afterward.

Our group meets once a month on the first Saturday of the month, and typically goes from 6-9 but times can vary as it is pretty flexible. So before my first campaign in Edge of the Empire, I had to choose a species and a specialty. I chose a Wookiee whose name is Chalarra and he’s a scout. My group consists of an ex-imperial medic, a blind hired gun, a human marauder, a pilot, and a pit droid who’s married to our YT-1300 freighter. Yep you heard that right. Every campaign is a blast and I look forward to playing every month.


The way Fantasy Flight Games and Star Wars has brought me together with other fans has been a real gift. I’ve wanted to learn this game for so long and now that I’m finally involved with one I couldn’t more excited. Thanks to Chris Mills and Great Stories, I finally found a place that gathers people from all over the area.

Eric Onkenhout


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I Was Among my People at Star Wars Celebration Orlando

Last week I was in Star Wars heaven. Four lovely days of everyone around me knowing exactly what I’m talking about when I mention names like Hondo Ohnaka, Cad Bane, Rae Sloane, and Momaw Nadon. Everywhere I looked, my eyes landed on a Star Wars shirt. They were like finger prints—I don’t think I saw the same one twice. Entire families were cosplaying Star Wars characters.

People just like me teared up when George Lucas arrived on stage, and when Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd spoke at length about her mom’s connection with her character Princess Leia Organa and most of all her connection with the fans. But most of all when John Williams appeared behind a curtain to conduct the Orlando Philharmonic into renditions of Princess Leia’s Theme, The Main Theme, and The Imperial March.


Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 ran from Thursday 4/13 to Sunday 4/16, and had nearly done me in by Friday afternoon. The folks at ReedPop and Lucasfilm give the fans so many panels they’re going to want to attend the only way to attend every one is to pull a Darth Maul and cut yourself in half so you can be at more than one at a time. I quickly learned that attending every one was impossible considering I had to, you know, eat and sleep. Much to my chagrin I had to skip out on the Lucasfilm Publishers Roundtable so I could actually eat lunch. For a lover of Star Wars lit that pained me. During that panel was announced a new Captain Phasma novel written by Delilah Dawson releasing this September along with a Phasma mini-comic series written by Kelly Thompson with art by Mark Checchetto. A novel called Leia: Princess of Alderaan by Claudia Grey (if you haven’t read her other Star Wars books Lost Stars and Bloodline you should) and Legends of Luke Skywalker by Ken Liu are set to release later this year.


My only regret of this Celebration was not meeting as many people as I would’ve liked. My excuse is it was my first con and I really wanted to hit up as many panels as I could. Next time I want to make more of an effort to say hi to more people. I was lucky enough to make a couple new friends while waiting in those endlessly long lines! Oh yeah, before I forget, I cannot emphasize how pleasant everyone was. Star Wars fans are literally the best. Everyone was is such good spirits—not a frown, whiny kid, or attitude to be found. That was so nice to experience.

Since 2015, there has been a Celebration yearly, except it was already announced that this is the last until 2019. I’m sure Disney/Lucasfilm have their reasons, and I’m sure the Star Wars themed park at Disney which is scheduled to open in 2019 is one of them. I can’t wait!

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Trailer Snark (December 16, 2016 Theatrical Trailers)

Welcome to Trailer Snark, a weekly column covering trailers for movies that will be released this week with thoughts from our roster of bloggers (Jessica from The Female Perspective, Ken from The Crank File, Jim from The Front Row View, Rob from Spector for Hire, and Great Stories founder Chris).  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the previews!

Rogue One (Disney) – SciFi/Action
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of sci-fi violence and action
Tag Line: Save the rebellion. Save the dream.
Starring: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Forrest Whitaker
Plot: The Rebellion makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow.
Running Time: 134 minutes

Rob: #$%^ yeah baby!  Finally!!!  It doesn’t take a Jedi Master to recognize that The Force will be strong with this one.  I have secured two sets of tickets for sneak previews to kick off the viewings.  I am upset at the quantity of reshooting that is rumored to have taken place because the film was allegedly too dark.  We need a dark Star Wars film.  This film screams out for the Dark Side.  The Empire has the galaxy in a death grip during this particular period of time.  It’s time for the bothan bodies to hit the floor!  Fear.  Anger.  Hate.  Suffering.  And, yes….a sliver of hope, the spark of Rebellion.
Jessica: Yes. Yes. YES! Im seeing this in IMAX as a birthday gift. I cannot wait and I am super super duper stoked!
Chris:  Adventure. Excitement.  A Jedi craves not these things.  I ain’t no Jedi.  Bring it on baby!

Collateral Beauty (Warner Bros) – Drama
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong language
Tag Line: We are all connected.
Starring: Will Smith, Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley
Plot: Retreating from life after a tragedy, a man questions the universe by writing to Love, Time and Death. Receiving unexpected answers, he begins to see how these things interlock and how even loss can reveal moments of meaning and beauty.
Running Time: 97 minutes

Chris: A fantastic cast and a pull at the heartstrings won’t prevent me from staying on target.
Rob: It’s not Rogue One.
Jessica: This looks like a really lovely, heart-warming story, but it’s got nothing on Rogue One! I would watch this at home though.

A Kind of Murder (Magnolia) – Drama/Thriller
Rated R for language and some violence
Tag Line: None
Starring: Haley Bennett, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson
Plot: In 1960s New York, Walter Stackhouse is a successful architect married to the beautiful Clara who leads a seemingly perfect life. But his fascination with an unsolved murder leads him into a spiral of chaos as he is forced to play cat-and-mouse with a clever killer and an overambitious detective, while at the same time lusting after another woman.
Running Time: 95 minutes

Jessica: Can’t even deal with this, it’s not Rogue One.
Chris: Meh…..maybe on Netflix.  A less thrilling thriller it would seem.
Rob: This is also not Rogue One.

Solace (Grindstone Entertainment) – Crime/Drama/Mystery
Rated R for violence and bloody images throughout, sexuality, nudity and language
Tag Line: How do you stop a killer who can read your mind?
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish, Colin Farrell
Plot: A psychic works with the FBI in order to hunt down a serial killer.
Running Time: 101 minutes

Rob: Also a movie not worthy of my attention this week because it’s not Rogue One…  But wait!  Dr. Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins), Detective Velcoro (Colin Farrell), & $%^*ing Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)!?!?!? Ok, you have my attention for a couple minutes.  Looks decent I suppose.  A possible rental down the road.
Jessica: Oh Dr. Ford, love you, but not Rogue One, don’t care.
Chris: This movie has been sitting on a shelf for over a year looking for a distributor.  Not sure how this bodes for the film, especially since they are dumping it into the same release week as the new Star Wars.

Tickets Purchased: It’s unanimous, as if you thought any different!

See what we did there?
See what we did there?
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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 7/20/2016

Greetings fellow freaks and geeks and welcome to another episode of the Crank File, the only place on the web that understands that with great crank there must also come great responsibility. Tragedy followed bloody tragedy and the seemingly endless pattern of violence and hate continued to spread last week. The world sure feels like a dangerous place right now and people are scared. Stay safe wherever you are, read something engaging and learn something new. The most effective weapon against ignorance is knowledge.


Here’s what I’m reading this week:



The Top of the Pile: Manifest Destiny #21

Publisher: Image
Words: Chris Dingess
Art: Matthew Roberts

What it is: ‘SASQUATCH,’ Part Three Don’t bother shooting. Just run.

Why we love it: Manifest Destiny’s American frontier hides many horrors for our intrepid band of explorers, the likes of which have never been seen by the civilized world. This week Lewis and Clark and company come face to foot with the undisputed king of cryptozoology, Sasquatch.



The Mainstream One: Batman #3

Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: David Finch

What it is: ‘I AM GOTHAM’ Chapter Three: Batman and Gotham strike out together to get to the bottom of the mysterious attacks against the city. Could this novel and headstrong new hero be everything Gotham City needs…at the cost of the Dark Knight?

Why we like it: Maybe I’ve been spoiled by Snyder’s epic New 52 run, especially those early Court of Owl issues, but Tom King’s Batman has been just good, not great. Still we’re only two issues in and Rome wasn’t built in a day, as the old saying goes. I had high hopes for this relaunch and I still have hope that this series will find its footing sooner or later. Hopefully sooner, rather than later.



The Indie One: Once Our Land

Publisher: Scout Comics
Words and Art: Peter Ricq

What it isAn amazing debut comic from a visionary new creator! Once Our Land is a post-apocalyptic tale set in 1830s Germany. It is the tale of two survivors, Ingrid and Fritz, as they battle each day against mysterious invaders that have surfaced and wiped out everything they once knew. A fantasy, sci-fi, period, and action story rolled into one epic package, Once Our Land is destined to be an all-ages classic!

Why we like it: The art looks gorgeous and while the book appears to be geared towards younger readers, the writer was heavily influenced by the monsters of H.P. Lovecraft. I’m really looking forward to reading this on Wednesday. 



The #1 One: Snot Girl #1

Publisher: Image
Words: Bryan Lee O’Malley
Art: Leslie Hung

What it is: WHO IS LOTTIE PERSON? Is she a gorgeous, fun-loving social media star with a perfect life or a gross, allergy-ridden mess? Enter a world of snot, blood, and tears in this new ongoing series from New York Times Best Seller Bryan Lee O’Malley (Scott Pilgrim) and dazzling newcomer Leslie Hung!

Why we like it: I haven’t read Scott Pilgrim nor have i seen the movie. I didn’t even realize this was the same writer until just now. I read a preview for Snot Girl in ImagePlus magazine and found it oddly charming, Digging Snot Girl for the manga-inspired artwork and the sheer weirdness factor.



The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Darth Vader #23 and Start Wars #21

Publisher: Marvel
Cover Artists: John Tyler Christopher and David Aja

Why we like them: Here’s a duo of fantastic Star Wars related covers. The Darth Vader action figure variant features our favorite kill-droid, the murderous and always hilarious BT-1. David Aja continues his recent domination of Ones I’m Buying for the Cover with a variant which needs to be on a poster or at very least a t-shirt. I couldn’t pick between the two, so you’re getting both. You are welcome.


That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!

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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 6/15/2016

Greetings comic book fans and welcome to a very somber episode of the Crank File, where the important thing is not the object of love, but the emotion itself. Thoughts go out to the victims, families and friends affected by the Orlando shooting. While it’s natural that we feel angry and afraid, this is not the time for hate and division. It is a time for grieving and unification. Because there’s only one way to make it through a tragedy, together. Peace, love and crankiness.

Here’s what I’m reading this week.


The Top of the Pile: Batman #1

Publisher: DC
Words: Tom King
Art: David Finch

What it is: No one has ever stopped the Caped Crusader. Not The Joker. Not Two-Face. Not even the entire Justice League. But how does Batman confront a new hero who wants to save the city from the Dark Knight?

Why we love it: The last time DC rebooted, Batman turned out the epic Court of Owls story arc, laying the foundation for Snyder and Capullo’s legendary run. While I will miss the masterful work of Scott and Greg on Batman, I think DC nailed it with the new creative team. Add in possible first appearances and a #1 on the cover and you have the recipe for a classic.



The Mainstream one: Superman #1

Publisher: DC
Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Art: Patrick Gleason

What it is: The Last Son of Krypton must decide whether to help his young son use his new and rapidly increasing abilities, or hide them from the world.

Why we like it: While I enjoyed Pak’s run on Action Comics, the New 52 Superman always felt a little off. I was happy to see the pre-New 52 Superman back in action (see what I did there?) Superman classic returns to Metropolis and he’s brought his family with him. Last week’s Action Comics gave us one of the biggest WTF moments in comics since “Hail Hydra”.




The Indie One: Manifest Destiny #20

Publisher: Image
Words: Chris Dingess
Art: Matthew Roberts

What it is: Many have claimed to have seen the Sasquatch? now join the men who made first contact!

Why we like it: Manifest Destiny started its latest arc by straying from its typical, linear storytelling. The story begins with a flashback to an early attempt at settling the American North West frontier that turns cannibally before we catch up with our regularly scheduled protagonists, Lewis and Clark, whose expedition just stumbled upon a ruined settlement. Action, horror and the legendary Big Foot.




The #1 One: Green Arrow #1

Publisher: DC
Words: Benjamin Percy
Art: Otto Schmidt

What it is: As Oliver struggles with how he can fight ‘the man’ when his huge fortune makes him the man, he and Black Canary uncover a deadly new threat to Seattle that cuts the Archer to the bone.

Why we like it: This was what writer Benjamin Percy had to say about the new Green Arrow, ‘My touchstones are Dennis O’Neil and Mike Grell, while trying to make the series my own. Green Arrow will be a politically and culturally relevant series. Expect stories that aim a broadhead into the zeitgeist, that are ripped from the headlines.’ I’m in. I’ve always felt that Green Arrow works better with a partner, and I’m stoked that Black Canary is around.




The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Star Wars #20

Publisher: Marvel
Words: Jason Aaron
Art: Mike Mayhew
Cover art: John Tyler Christopher

What it is: Another dive into the journal of Obi-Wan Kenobi! Jabba has hired bounty hunter Black Krrsantan to find out who’s been thwarting his men! The old hermit of the dune wastes might know something about that.

Why we like it: A rare Yoda cover appearance keeps it from being a DC sweep this week. All asses, this cover kicks.


That’s all I got. Until next time carpe comics!

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Trailer Snark (January 29, 2016 Theatrical Trailers)

Welcome to Trailer Snark, a weekly column covering trailers for movies that will be released this week with thoughts from our roster of bloggers (Jessica from The Female Perspective, Ken from The Crank File, Jim from The Front Row View, Rob from Spector for Hire, and Great Stories founder Chris).  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the previews!

Last Week: The Force Awakens was finally dethroned as Box Office Champion, and it wasn’t even a brand new debut that managed it.  The Revenant with Leonardo DiCaprio took the top spot with $16M in receipts to bring its domestic haul to $119M.  The aforementioned Star Wars sequel placed second with $14.2M added to its astounding $879.2M domestic total.  In third was Ride Along 2 with $12.9M ($59.1M overall).  A trio of new releases occupied the next slots and all came in with very closely matched numbers.  Dirty Grandpa led this group with $11.5M, The Boy with $11.2M in the fifth overall spot, and 5th Wave in sixth with $10.7M.  13 Hours fell to seventh ($9.7M/$33.4M), Daddy’s Home in eighth ($5.2M/$138.7M), Norm of the North tumbling to ninth ($4.1M/$14.2M), and The Big Short closing out the top ten ($3.5M/$56.7M).  This week is a bit light on the release schedule, and here is the lineup.

Kung Fu Panda 3 (Dreamworks) – Animated/Family
Rated PG for martial arts action and some mild rude humor
Tag Line: Grab destiny by the rice dumplings.
Starring:  Jack Black, Bryan Cranston
Plot: Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to his home.
Running Time: 95 minutes

Jim: My daughter and I love these movies so, sorry, I’m biased. We’re definitely seeing Po this weekend.
Rob: We love this series of films too.  Will probably just wait and buy it digitally in a few months though unless my youngest forces the issue.
Jessica: I loved the first one but never saw the 2nd and so maybe I’ll have a marathon someday to catch up but also, maybe not.
Ken: The adorable meter is off the charts. More of an at home kind of movie.
Chris:  I prefer Hong Kong Phooey.

The Finest Hours (Disney) – Drama/Action
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of peril
Tag Line: 32 survivors.  Room for 12.
Starring: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster
Plot: The Coast Guard makes a daring rescue attempt off the coast of Cape Cod after a pair of oil tankers are destroyed during a blizzard in 1952.
Running Time: 117 minutes

Chris:  The sea terrifies me, which only ups the dramatic scale.  Count me in!
Jim: If I weren’t from New England, would I have such an issue with Hollywood’s bogus New England accents? Actors must study old tapes of JFK and think they’ve nailed it. Once I get past the annoying accents, the movie might be worth a look.
Rob: Looks pretty decent.  I’d hit up a Red Box for this down the road.
Jessica: Their accents don’t bug me at all. I love a true story like this and I enjoy Chris Pine so I’d watch this at home.
Ken: Could be a fun one to watch on the big screen. Because you know they live.

Fifty Shades of Black (Open Road Films) – Comedy
Rated R for strong crude sexual content including some graphic nudity, and for language throughout.
Tag Line: Way shadier than gray.
Starring: Marlon Wayans, Kali Hawk, Fred Willard, Jane Seymour
Plot: An inexperienced college student meets a wealthy businessman whose sexual practices put a strain on their relationship.
Running Time: 92 minutes

Ken: Should have been called Fifty Shades of White. How many black people do you know with the last name Black?  This movie looks so bad… you’re a cruel overlord for making us watch that trailer.
Chris: The source material was a bad joke to start.  Did we really need a spoof?
Jim: As if Fifty Shades of Gray wasn’t hilarious enough. This looks dumb enough to be enjoyable.
Rob: Pass.  I’d pass twice if that’s an option.
Jessica: Eh. The original movie is funnier than this stuff.

Jane Got a Gun (Weinstein Company) – Action/Drama/Western
Rated R for violence and some language
Tag Line: Strength, justice, power, vengeance.
Starring:  Natalie Portman, Ewan MacGregor, Joel Edgerton
Plot: A woman asks her ex-lover for help in order to save her outlaw husband from a gang out to kill him.
Running Time: 98 minutes
Jessica: Hmmm…intriguing but not movie theater intriguing.
Ken: McGregor channeling Burt Reynolds into that mustache. I’m usually down for a good, old-timey Western, but I’m not sure that Jane is going to qualify. TV, maybe.
Chris: I wanted to like this trailer more than I did.  Hope it pleasantly surprises me on the small screen.
Jim: This touches upon just about every Western cliché in existence, but still looks engrossing. Hopefully this is Black Swan- level Natalie and not Star Wars prequels- level Natalie.
Rob: Natalie Portman!   Ok, I’ll rent this one too down the road.

Tickets Purchased: Two for The Finest Hours (Ken and Chris), two for Kung Fu Panda 3 (Jim and Jessica), and Rob goes to see Star Wars for the tenth time.

Po Panda!
Po Panda!
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What I’m Reading This Week 1/20/2016

The Top of the Pile: Batman #48


Publisher: DC

Words: Scott Snyder

Art: Greg Capullo

Mr. Bloom’s seeds have grown into an army that may turn all of Gotham City against its new Batman. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne meets a mysterious stranger who could start a chain of events no one can stop

The last issue of Batman ended on an insane cliffhanger. Bat Gordon was being ambushed by a group of Mr. Bloom’s horrifying monsters when we abruptly cut to an amnesiac Bruce Wayne, who is just beginning to remember a deep dark secret. As Bruce sits on a park bench, pondering the conflict raging within his heart, a man takes a seat next to him and strikes up a philosophical conversation. A man who looks and acts very much like an amnesiac Joker. Snyder and Capullo are building up to something huge as their memorable run on Batman approaches issue #50.

The Mainstream One: Star Wars #15



Publisher: Marvel

Words: Jason Aaron

Art: Mike Mayhew

FROM THE JOURNALS OF OBI-WAN KENOBI Another tale of Obi-Wan’s exile on Tatooine! Owen Lars took Luke in…but he refused to let Ben be part of his life. Why? What trouble could have been stirred up by Ben protecting Luke?

I had planned on dropping my Star Wars books from my pull list after Vader Down concluded and trade waiting the rest of the series, but looks like Star Wars Jedi mind tricked me into at least one more. These tales from Obi-wan’s journal provide insight into Luke’s early life and I’ve been desperately hoping that they will also reveal how Luke receives the training that takes him from just feeling the force to using it.


The Indie One: Nowhere Men #7



Publisher: Image

Words: Eric Stephenson

Art:  Jordie Bellaire

The Eisner-nominated series returns with the first of six all-new issues. Featuring thirty-two pages of story and no ads for $2.99, the second story arc picks up right where the volume one trade paperback left off and will ship monthly through May 2016.

Nowhere Men was a comic book series that originally came out in 2012. It centers on a fictional world where a group of four of the world’s top scientists make discoveries which have huge cultural influences on the world, creating a society where science is the new Rock-N-Roll. A smart and cool sci-fi story, Nowhere Men was an immediate hit and was nominated for 4 Eisners during it’s first run. Then artist Nate Bellegarde’s personal life hit a rough patch, and disruptions with his work caused the series to eventually be put on long term hiatus. After almost 4 years away, Nowhere Men is making its triumphant return and I couldn’t be more excited. Let’s hope the band sticks together for more than one arc this time.


The #1 One:  Devolution #1



Publisher: Dynamite

Words: Rick Remender

Art: Jonathan Wayshak

Every living creature on Earth has been devolved – the evolutionary clock turned back, reverting all life to odd mutations and prehistoric incarnations. The cities of man are little more than bloody territories ruthlessly dominated by tribal Neanderthals ruling from the backs of mammoths, packs of saber-toothed tigers, and giant man-eating insects. Writer Rick Remender (Black Science, Fear Agent), artist Jon Wayshak (The Authority), and colorist Jordan Boyd (Ant-Man, Planet Hulk) take you on a journey with the last band of ‘Still Sapien’ humans in the hope of locating an antidote and re-evolving the human race.

I’m currently enjoying almost all of Remender’s independent series, and I love quite a few of them. Slated for a 5 issue mini-series, Devolution sounds like a solid premise to showcase his grim criticisms of modern society and meditations on the value of suffering and hope. There’s a preview available on Comic Book Resources and the artwork looks absolutely dope.


The One I’m Buying for the Cover:  Captain Marvel #1 (Adam Hughes Variant)



Publisher: Marvel

Words: Tara Butters

Art: Kris Anka

Face front, true believers! The Captain has made her return and oh, how mighty it is. It’s a bold new frontier for Carol Danvers as she soars to new heights in her greatest mission yet–leader of the all-new Alpha Flight space program. Yup, Alpha Flight. As earth’s first line of defense, Carol and her team aim to protect the planet from extraterrestrial threats. But can Carol be a soldier and a diplomat? Especially when an unknown enemy emerges that Carol can’t quite punch. The superstar team behind Marvel’s Agent Carter television series, Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas, make their comics debut alongside the awesomely-talented Kris Anka

Personally I don’t think that it’s AH!’s best work, but it’s a 1:25 variant and Hughes #1 variants typically do well in the secondary market. If Marvel sticks to its movie development plans and actually make a Captain Marvel movie starring Carol Danvers, this cover will be highly sought after. You’re better off trying to grab one now at a reasonable price.


Last Week’s Leftovers: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0



Publisher: Boom

Words: Kyle Higgins

Art:  Daniel Bayliss

It’s Morphin Time! The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers make their BOOM! Studios comic debut in this kick-off #0 issue that sets the stage for the rest of the series. After escaping Rita Repulsa’s mind control, Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger, joins up with the rest of the Power Rangers to combat her never-ending evil plans. Any semblance of a normal life is gone for Tommy now, but with his newfound family there lies hope for a brighter path. Includes the short story from the San Diego Comic-Con exclusive Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comics!

While everyone was busy hunting down Walking Dead and Silk variants, Power Rangers #0 came out of nowhere and ended up being the hottest book of the week. The 1:50 Green Ranger variant is selling for over $150 and the 1:100 White Ranger variant has a few completed sales of $300. While it is unlikely that you will find either of the ratio variants left on your local comic shop shelves, sets of all 5 regular covers are selling steadily for $50 and the Red Ranger cover alone is moving at $15. Probably not a good bet as a long-term hold, but there’s definitely flip potential here if you can find them at cover price.


Carpe Comics!

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Trailer Snark (January 15 Theatrical Trailers)

Welcome to Trailer Snark, a weekly column covering trailers for movies that will be released this week with thoughts from our roster of bloggers (Jessica from The Female Perspective, Ken from The Crank File, Jim from The Front Row View, Rob from Spector for Hire, and Great Stories founder Chris).  Thanks for reading, and enjoy the previews!

Last Week: All hail Star Wars!  The Force Awakens racked up another $41.6M in receipts bringing its total domestic haul to $812M.  Incredible.  The Revenant came in second in its first wide release week with $38M.  Daddy’s Home brought the laughs to the tune of $15M ($116M overall) for third place.  And The Forest debuted at number four with $13M.  The rest of the top ten played out like this:  Sisters ($7.1/$74.8M), The Hateful Eight ($6.3M/$41.4), The Big Short ($6.3M/$42.8M), Alvin and the Chipmunks ($5.5M/$75.6M), Joy ($4.5M/$46.5M), and Concussion ($3M/$$30.9M).  This week’s new box office contenders are…..

Ride Along 2 (Universal) – Comedy
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual content, language and some drug material
Tag Line: The brother in-law are back.
Starring: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Olivia Munn, Benjamin Bratt
Plot: As his wedding day approaches, Ben heads to Miami with his soon-to-be brother-in-law James to bring down a drug dealer who’s supplying the dealers of Atlanta with product.
Running Time: 101 minutes

Chris: I still have not seen the first.  That said, it looks like a fun flick.
Ken: Ha, brothers in “law”. Anyone else see the irony in Ice Cube playing a police officer?
Jim: Haven’t seen the first one, but this looks funny. I’ll go along for the “Ride”…hee hee yuk yuk.
Rob: Um no.
Jessica: Ugh. P A S S.

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (Paramount) – Drama/Action
Rated R for strong combat violence throughout, bloody images, and language
Tag Line: In 2012, the threat level in Benghazi, Libya was deemed “critical”. When everything went wrong, six men had the courage to do what was right.
Starring: John Krasinski, James Badge Dale, Pablo Schreiber
Plot: An American Ambassador is killed during an attack at a U.S. compound in Libya as a security team struggles to make sense out of the chaos.
Running Time: 144 minutes

Jessica: When I saw Michael Bay’s name I gave up all hope of it being anywhere near realistic but hey, there will be great action and things will go boom.
Chris: My clear winner this week.  Gripping look at a tragedy the government does not want you to know too much about.
Ken: It’s a Michael Bay war adaptation, which is why most of the movie will focus on an incomprehensible love triangle and not the real story behind the 2012 attacks.
Jim: It looked like Zero Dark Thirty 2 until I saw Michael Bay’s name. This can’t possibly be good.
Rob: I’m curious to see how close this picture comes to painting the truth.  But is it too soon for a film on this somewhat recent event?

Norm of the North (Lionsgate) – Animation/Family
Rated PG for mild rude humor and action
Tag Line: Before he can save the Arctic… he’ll need a little help.
Starring: Rob Schneider, Heather Graham
Plot: Displaced from their Arctic home, a polar bear named Norm and his three lemming friends wind up in New York City, where Norm becomes the mascot of a corporation he soon learns is tied to the fate of his homeland.
Running Time: 86 minutes

Rob: Animation looks pretty good, but not really interested.  Will maybe catch it on Netflix down the road.
Jessica: No thank you! I like dancing animals but this did nothing for me.
Chris: Cookie cutter kid fare.  I am sure 3 out 4 kids will approve.
Ken: Unbearable.  Come on, you were all thinking it.
Jim: I was subjected to this trailer in a movie theater. Couldn’t do it again.

Band of Robbers (Gravitas Ventures) – Adventure/Crime
Not Rated
Tag Line: From Mark Twain’s iconic books.
Starring: Kyle Gallner, Adam Nee, Matthew Gray Gubler
Plot: Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are grown men, still searching for the hidden treasure that has eluded them since childhood.
Running Time: 95 minutes
Ken: I like the idea of doing a modern retelling of Mark Twain, but the trailer didn’t do much for me. I might give it a watch when it comes out on demand.
Jim: As Ken said, a modern retelling of Twain would be nice, but the trailer was pretty bland and uninteresting. Oh well, I think we have our kind-of modern Twain retelling in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off—am I right? 🙂
Rob: Mildly interesting premise, but no thanks.
Jessica: I want to say I’ll watch this but that’s like saying I’ll one day tap dance for the Pope so yeah, nope.
Chris: I agree with Ken on this one.  The premise exceeds the delivery it would seem from the trailer.  Perhaps a pleasant small screen surprise?

The Benefactor (Samuel Goldwyn Films) – Drama
Not Rated
Tag Line: His helps comes at a price.
Starring: Richard Gere, Dakota Fanning
Plot: A philanthropist meddles in the lives of newly-married couples in an attempt to relive his past.
Running Time: 90 minutes

Jim: Looks interesting, possible rental.
Chris: Wow….it reminded me of Mr. Brooks with a more tragic beginning.  Unsettling.
Ken: Gere’s been taking on some very dark roles recently and it seems to be paying off. Not my type of movie but the trailer was plenty disturbing. Could be fun if you are into thrillers.
Rob: Gere and Fanning are talented, but this is a rental at best.
Jessica: Interesting but an at home viewer if ever.

Tickets Purchased: One for Ride Along 2 (Jim) and One for 13 Hours (Chris).  Ken and Rob go see Star Wars again to make sure it breaks all the records, and Jessica sits at home with a repeat viewing of The Martian.

Not really a Force Awakens spoiler.  Emails show who ordered the destruction of Alderaan.
Not really a Force Awakens spoiler. Emails show who ordered the destruction of Alderaan.
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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 1/6/2016

Salutations comic book fans, and welcome to the first episode of the Crank File for 2016. It’s the start of the new year and like many collectors, a part of my resolutions list includes comics that I will be targeting to purchase in the coming year (the top of my want list, for those of you interested, is a mid-grade copy of Avengers #4).  Having goals is an essential part of any good collection. Impulsively collecting everything that catches your fancy is a great way to accumulate a lot of stuff, but without focus and direction you’ll find a good chunk of  your money going towards random pieces and then not having funds for the key pieces or sets that would really add value, whether monetary or sentimental, to your collection.  Take a moment to assess your collection, identify a few pieces or trends that you want to get into in 2016 and then do lots and lots and lots of research. Determine a price range that you can afford and then come up with a budget to help you save up for it. Collecting should be rewarding, and there is nothing more rewarding then getting exactly what you want, for a price that you are comfortable paying. If setting collecting goals wasn’t on your resolution list in 2015, I hope that it’s there in 2016.

Here’s what I’m reading this week:


The Top of the Pile: Star Wars #14



Publisher: Marvel

Words: Jason Aaron

Art: Mike Deodato

VADER DOWN, PART FIVE CHEWBACCA VERSUS BLACK KRRSANTAN! What else do you need? Marvel’s first Star Wars event continues! 


Darth Vader #15



Publisher: Marvel

Words: Kieron Gillen

Art: Salvador Larroca

VADER DOWN: THE CONCLUSION! Luke Skywalker–captured by the Empire! Darth Vader–beset by enemies on all sides! The finale of the biggest Marvel Star Wars story yet!

There has indeed been an awakening in the force. Fresh off complete domination at the box office, Star Wars returns to comics with not one, but two concluding issues to the incredible cross-over miniseries, Vader Down. There’s no stopping the Star Wars empire right now and these two books will undoubtedly be among the best sellers this week.


The Mainstream One: Spiderman Deadpool #1 (Del Mundo variant)



Publisher: Marvel

Words: Joe Kelly

Art: Ed McGuiness

BECAUSE YOU DEMANDED IT! The Webbed Wonder and the Merc with a Mouth are teaming up for their first ongoing series EVER! It’s action, adventure and just a smattering of (b)romance in this episodic epic featuring the WORLD’S GREATEST SUPER HERO and the star of the WORLD’S GREATEST COMICS MAGAZINE. Talk about a REAL dynamic duo! 

Marvel’s two greatest wisecrackers finally get their own team-up series, and I’m guessing that it’s going to be hysterical. Marvel is bringing in the creative team that was largely responsible for Deadpool’s current popularity. In 1997, Kelly and McGuiness defined the character and what we typically now think of as Deadpool during their run on his first solo series. They’re back with more insane adventures for everybody’s favorite, smelly merc and his wall-crawling pal, Spidey. (Did you notice that the title is not “Deadpool Spiderman”? Spiderman takes second billing to no one!)


The Indie One: Fade Out #12



Publisher:  Image

Words: Ed Brubaker

Art: Sean Phillips

SERIES CONCLUSION It all ends here! The dramatic wrap-up to the mystery and to Brubaker and Phillips best-selling and most ambitious project yet!

I was not expecting to enjoy The Fade Out as much as I did. The end of its run will leave a void in my pull box that is unlikely to be filled by another title. Unlike 99% of comics, there were no supernatural forces at play here. No special powers or abilities. No rogue technology, no zombies. No secret magic and no hidden evil besides what already lies within the hearts of men. The Fade Out is all about well-developed characters and plot twists that will read like a movie in trade paperback format. Don’t attempt to jump on this one, you have to begin at the start, but definitely don’t miss it.


The #1 One: Swamp Thing #1



Publisher: DC

Words: Len Wein

Art: Kelly Jones

Swamp Thing returns in an all-new series written by his co-creator, legendary writer Len Wein! Swamp Thing has received an ominous warning, and now he finds himself under attack from the forces of dark magic. These are more than just your average monsters-and there’s something much worse looming on the horizon for Alec Holland!

Swamp Thing is on my all-time, top-5 list of comic book heroes from the big two. Plus, one of Swamp Thing’s original creators, Len Wein, is back on writing duties. This one is a no-brainer.


The Ones I’m Buying for the Covers: A-Force #1 (Hughes Hip Hop variant)



Publisher: Marvel

Words: G. Willow Wilson

Art:  Jorge Molina

A-FORCE, ASSEMBLE! From the ashes of Battleworld, Marvel’s newest hero SINGULARITY has risen and entered the Marvel Universe. But she didn’t make the journey alone. To combat the most fearsome threats from across the multiverse, Singularity will summon the world’s mightiest team of Avengers to her side: SHE-HULK. CAPTAIN MARVEL. DAZZLER. MEDUSA. NICO MINORU. Together, they are A FORCE to be reckoned with! 

This gorgeous Adam Hughes cover also features Marvel’s cleverest hip hop cover swipe yet, “Straight Outta Comics!” a play-on NWA’s breakout album “Straight Outta Compton”.


Detective Comics #48 (Adult coloring book variant)



Publisher: DC

Words: Peter J. Tomasi

Art:  Marcio Takara

In the wake of the Robin War and globe-hopping with the Justice League, Jim Gordon is looking forward to getting back to what he, and Batman, do best: taking out crime in Gotham City. But lurking in the shadows at home is a case from Jim’s past that may decide the future of Batman

The marketing department over at DC had me directly in their sights when they cooked up this “adult coloring book” variant campaign. I will be purchasing two copies of Detective Comics #48. One cover will be given a complete, psychedelic crayon treatment, while the other copy will be carefully preserved in bag with a board in pristine condition. I’m also reading just about all of the current Bat books as we approach issue #50, which I suspect will be when we see the return of Bruce Wayne as Batman.


Carpe Comics!