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Will ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ be the last film in the franchise?

This weekend sees the return of those robots in disguise. But will a fifth film be too much for audiences? Here’s our prediction:

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Transformers: The Last Knight is managing to keep the franchise tradition with some absolutely horrible reviews; the film currently sits at a 16% score at Rotten Tomatoes. Usually, this films are critic proof, but its been a while since Michael Bay actually delivered a good Transformers film (some would suggest he’s never actually accomplished that feat). Transformers: The Last Knight opened this past Wednesday with an underwhelming $15 million. Decent for the middle of the week, but far from blockbuster numbers. Consider the bloom off the rose for Transformers. While the film will top the weekend, it will be with a lacklustre $43 million.

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New Video From The Cybertronic Spree Directed by Steve Kostanski of Astron-6

Although you may be familiar with The Cybertronic Spree’s covers of songs from the 1986 movie The Transformers, The Pokémon Theme, or Electric Six’s “Danger! High Voltage!” their new single is the first original music the band has released.
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Creations of Chaos: The Last Unicorn

On this week’s Creations of Chaos, it’s the Rankin/Bass, animated fantasy, that every child in the 1980s saw, but me. It’s time to go on a journey, with ballads aplenty, with The Last Unicorn.

The Last Unicorn Poster

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Heroes and Villains – Reviewing Recent Comics 6-21-2017

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This time on Heroes and Villains, we’ll be looking at a variety of comics out this week and last, from a variety of genres. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Legion of Super-Heroes/Bugs Bunny #1, Dark Days: The Forge #1, Bill & Ted Save the Universe #1, Black Hammer #10, Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #2, Red Agent: The Human Order #8, Plastic #3, Kong of Skull Island #12, Empowered #10, Spencer & Locke #1-3, and Bug! The Adventures of Forager #1-2 from the Allreds… This is another loaded week, so who needs Secret Empires when we have so many other cool things to check out, be warned, there may be spoilers…

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Breeze Your Way To “Crosswind #1” On The Wednesday Run

We’ve all felt – or seen – the effects of a nasty crosswind:

Passing a tractor trailer on the highway yanks your car violently and you need to jerk the steering wheel in an opposite direction just to keep yourself from running into the culvert at the side of the road. Whew!

Lazily canoeing across the cottage lake while a strong wind blows you off course from the dock you need to get to. How’d I get here?

Watching a Tour de France cycle team ride in single file, switching up leaders from time to time in order to conserve energy for each individual rider. Sweet science.

Experiencing the violent effects when a nasty Chicago hitman crosses paths with a downtrodden Seattle housewife – in a most unusual way!

Wait. What?

That’s the premise behind today’s release of Crosswind #1…and let me emphasize the phrase “unusual way”!

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#Kirby100: Kirby’s 1970s Captain America

By the time I was seriously collecting comic books in the mid-1980s, Jack Kirby’s return to Marvel was already history. Kirby had earlier defected from Marvel Comics to rival DC Comics where he created the New Gods Universe. The Powers That Be at DC Comics weren’t supportive of Kirby’s direction and he decided to return to Marvel. Sadly, his return was generally viewed as an unsuccessful one. One of the highlights of this return to Marvel was his run on Captain America, a title he and Stan Lee had taken to epic heights.

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While attending French grade school, I had access to a library of French-language reprints of Marvel Comics of the 1970s. One of them was the treasury edition of Kirby’s Captain America Bicentennial Battles. These over-sized pages were the perfect way to display Kirby’s power-packed and dynamic art.01

The mysterious Mr. Buda (later to be revealed to be the Elder of the Universe known as the Contemplator) sent Captain America on a time-traveling adventure through American history as part of their Bicentennial celebration. Yes, the dialogue is awkward and corny in places, but the visuals from Kirby are impressive. You can see that it’s the work of an artist in his declining years, but there’s still so much energy and passion in those panels. The scenes explode from the pages and sweep you up into the action. Barry Windsor-Smith, Herb Trimpe, and John Romita all embellished Kirby’s art for this stand-alone issue.

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This treasury issue kicked off to Kirby’s run on Captain America, and continued into issue #193, entitled “The Mad-Bomb!”. Look at that cover, inked by the legendary John Romita.

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Captain America 193-000

And the interiors are no less dramatic with explosions, literally and figuratively, on every page. Each panel bursts with Kirby dots and the heavy, solid inks by Frank Giacoia. Even the quiet moments have an impactful presence. This issue was one of the comic books I had amassed during my pre-collecting days, and was very memorable for the Kirby art and style as well as the cliffhanger ending that I wouldn’t see resolved for another 10 years!

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This storyline, which run until issue #200, pit Cap and the Falcon against an order of extremely wealthy Americans trying to establish a new aristocracy and crush the freedoms of the lower social order. Cap and Falcon’s adventures continued for another year as they encountered colourful characters like Texas Jack, Brother Inquisitor, Primus, and threats like Argon the Unburied One, Doughboy, and Hector Santiago “The Swine”. Kirby’s run also introduced Arnim Zola, the mad Nazi scientist, who heralded the return of his master, the Red Skull.

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The only other issue of Kirby’s Captain America run that I had in my pre-collecting days was #213. This two-part story (concluding in #214) was an amazing bookend to Kirby’s run. #213’s cliffhanger ending drove me as crazy as the one in #193 did. Take a moment to really take in the cover copy of #213. “Only Marvel would dare it! Blinded, Hospitalized, Cap fights his deadliest battle!” “He strikes! He kills! He can’t be stopped! The Night Flyer!”

Dan Green, famous for his work inking John Romita Jr’s Uncanny X-Men in the 1980s, inked Kirby’s pencils for #213 and you can really see the difference. Mike Royer’s inks flattered those thick, bold pencils, while Green’s work was more subtle and almost muted Kirby’s work.

Look at page #12 that introduced the Night Flyer. The stoic figure is holding a sophisticated Kirby communication device, but his presence exudes a confidence and an authority. The heavy inks across his face, his mask, all contribute to that awe-inspiring feeling. “I can’t be stopped! I am the perfect man!”.

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The Night Flyer spent the next 4 pages fighting his way through S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and the Falcon to assassinate his target. Turned out he was tricked, and despite being out-manned and out-gunned, the Night Flyer wasn’t ready to admit defeat: “I must find and eliminate my target! No one here can prevent it!!!” You’ve gotta love the captions that wrap up the issue. “Can he really do it??? Can one man defy and armed camp — and take it???” How many triple exclamation points and question marks can Kirby get away with using!

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Did issue #214 live up to the hype?Yes, and no. It was Kirby’s last Cap issue and Mike Royer returned to ink it. While the Night Flyer battled the Falcon and a horde of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, the injured Steve Rogers dramatically donned his familiar red, white, and blue costume and grabbed his shield to face off against the Night Flyer. In an odd turn of events, it’s a few S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who connect the dots and destroy the Night Flyer’s hang glider which was the source of his power. That dramatic build up is released without any real satisfaction as the Night Flyer is defeated.

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Unfortunately, I felt that in many ways this story symbolically summarized Kirby’s run. Visually a treat, but the execution failed, and not for the lack of trying. He threw in all the right ingredients, the heroes, the threats, the situation, but couldn’t put it together in the right way. It’s an amazing run that captured the 70s Kirby energy and his wacky-ahead-of-his-time-ideas. The raw energy of Kirby’s work was spectacular, but it lacked the finish that his former partner, Stan Lee, often provided. Kirby’s storytelling was ambitious and had an unrelenting pace and action. His tales were filled with social and political commentary, featuring larger-than-life drama and characters, combined with quiet retrospective and introspective moments of real character building and growth.

True Crime Corner: Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris

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What do you get when two convicts, with one heinous plan, join forces when they are released from prison? You get The Toolbox Killers, on this edition of True Crime Corner, two men who terrorized teenage girls in California for a few months in 1979.

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Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy S02 E06: ‘Black Helmet Woman’

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What happens when Gamora takes possession of a black Nova Corps helmet (or vice versa) to lead Nebula and her fellow Guardians of the Galaxy on a raid to infiltrate the Believers?  Find out after the jump in my review of “Black Helmet Woman.”

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Cars 3 zooms to the top, All Eyez On Me surprises

Don’t ever count out the legends. That’s the lesson from this past weekend at the box office. Here’s what went down:

As expected, Cars 3 was the new number one in theaters, bringing in $53 million. Though landing in the top spot is nothing to sneeze at, it is with the second lowest opening for Pixar franchise. Word of mouth might keep Cars 3 going over the next few weeks though, as the reviews have been strong for this third installment.

The big story of the weekend is the outstanding debut for the 2pac biopick, All Eyez On Me, which landed in third place with a surprising $27 million. Why the shock? Simply put, the reviews for this film have been horrid. Clearly reviews didn’t matter for the hardcore hip-hop fans, though there will likely be a significant drop-off once the fan base is serviced this weekend.

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Doctor Who S10 E10: ‘The Eaters of Light’

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Once again Doctor Who explores a mystery from the pages of history itself, what happened to Legio IX Hispana?  As The Doctor and Bill and Nardole journey back to second century Scotland to find the Ninth Roman Legion, they discover a more sinister threat awaits them.  Meet me after the time jump for my thoughts on “The Eaters of Light.”

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