We’re getting on the hype train with more Funko exclusives at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. Well, SDCC adjacent, we should say. Following up on the success from last year, Funko will be hosting another Pop-Up Shop at this year’s SDCC. According to Funko, it will be held at 448 West Market Street in the Marina District. Though the shop will be open for all four days of Comic Con, it will only have hours of 10 AM until 3 PM and, knowing Funko, will likely be a madhouse.
So if you’re not able to get into Funko’s booth at SDCC, at least you have the opportunity to purchase something from them.
Below, you can see what Funko is offering at the Pop-Up Shop this year. It’s sponsored by Warner Bros. and the first wave of exclusive reveals certainly makes that obvious. With a theme of Get Animated, the Pop-Up Shop has a lot of Looney Tunes Pop!s as well as a few Dorbz. There’s nothing here that really catches my attention but that “Mr. Hyde/Bugs Bunny” 2-pack is pretty cool. I also like the Flintstones/Jetsons Rock Candy figures, even though I’m not a fan of those shows.
Funko has promised a second reveal this Thursday. What do you think they’ll offer? Judging by the theme, I’d say some more Batman: The Animated Series stuff. Oh! I just realized how much I’d like to see Superman: The Animated Series Pop!s! I’d kill to get a white t-shirt version of Supergirl. I know I’m not the only one with this. Maybe if we tweet @OriginalFunko they’ll make it happen.
Anyway, we’ll keep you posted when the next wave is revealed.
From Funko’s website:
448 West Market Street in the Marina District
(directly across from the Grand Hyatt Manchester)
Thursday-Sunday, July 20-23, 2017
Our Pop!-Up Shop is returning this year with the theme Get Animated!
We are partnering with Warner Bros. Consumer Products to bring you a ton of Warner Bros. classic animated characters across many of our product lines! A few characters are making their Funko debut, while others are as you’ve never seen them before!
Check back for the second half of our reveals on Thursday!
Pop! Animation: Looney Tunes – Pete Puma (1000pc LE)
Pop! Animation: Looney Tunes – Mr. Hyde & Bugs Bunny 2-pack (850pc LE)
Pop! Animation: Looney Tunes – Super Hero Daffy Duck (2000pc LE)
Pop! Animation: Duck Dodgers – Marvin the Martian (Neon Lime – 1000pc LE)
Pop! Animation: Duck Dodgers – Marvin the Martian (Neon Magenta – 2500pc LE)
Pop! Animation: Duck Dodgers – Marvin the Martian (Neon Orange – 1000pc LE)
Dorbz: Hanna-Barbera Astronauts 4-pack – Huckleberry Hound, Yogi Bear, Boo Boo, and Mr. Jinx (1000pc LE)
Dorbz: Jester Bugs Bunny & Knight Yosemite Sam 2-pack (2700pc LE)
Rock Candy: The Flintstones – Wilma Flintstone
Rock Candy: The Flintstones – Betty Rubble
Rock Candy: The Jetsons – Judy Jetson (2000pc LE)
Check back Thursday for more!
San Diego Comic Con is just about a month away and there’s a ton of stuff that we’re excited to see come out of the show, like the big announcements from all of the major movie and TV studios and comic book big (and little) shots. However, one of the major draws to the West Coast mecca for geek culture is the exclusive toys that are available at the show.
Over the last couple of weeks, Funko, the purveyor of fine Pop! vinyls, has announced their lineup of SDCC exclusive figures. We have compiled everything right here for you so you can decide before you go which ones you can’t live without (or salivate over the exclusives you’ll need to hunt down on eBay if you can’t make it to San Diego).
Even if you make it to to SDCC, chances are getting your hands on these Pop! figures will still prove difficult. Distribution will be similar to last year, in that access to the Funko booth will be by lottery only. Funko didn’t provide many details on how that’ll work for 2017, and in fact may be trying to work that out with the comic con showrunners, but we will share the info with you once it becomes available.
Fret not! Funko has said that many, if not most, of the SDCC exclusives will be shared, meaning they will be available at Hot Topic, Gamestop, FYE, or any other stores or distributors that have exclusive license with Funko. While there won’t be any details on which will be available where until around the week of SDCC, we’ll make sure to keep you in the loop.
Wave 9: Miscellaneous (Announced Jun 23)
When I spotted Funko’s exclusive release for today, I started to scroll through them and got bored pretty quickly. Right until I saw the Megazord. That one had me. I’m a huge Mighty Morphin Power Rangers fan and I absolutely love that 6” Megazord.
Then I kept scrolling and spotted the Masters of the Universe stuff. Scareglow? A She-Ra Rock Candy. Yes, please!
I’m really hoping all of those are shared exclusives because I will need to track them down.
Today’s wave is a bunch of items that didn’t really fit in with any other category, but we love them just the same!
Five Nights at Freddy’s
Our Five Nights at Freddy’s San Diego Comic Con 2017 exclusives are from Sister Location, the latest game in the series!
Pop! Games: Sister Location – Jumpscare Funtime Foxy
Pop! Games: Sister Location – Jumpscare Baby
Fus Ro Dah! The mighty Dwarven Colossus joins our Elder Scrolls series as a super-sized 6-inch Pop!
Pop! Games: Elder Scrolls – 6” Dwarven Colossus
Our very first San Diego Comic Con exclusive Dr. Seuss Pop! is the flocked Lorax!
Pop! Books: Dr. Seuss – Lorax (flocked)
Initiate Megazord sequence! The iconic Megazord is a San Diego Comic Con 2017 exclusive super-sized 6-inch Pop! Megazord Battle Mode!
Pop! Power Rangers – 6” Megazord
Masters of the Universe
Our Masters of the Universe series grows with a glow-in-the-dark Scareglow Pop!, flocked Panthor and Battle Armor Skeletor Dorbz Ride, and She-Ra in Rock Candy form!
Pop! TV: MOTU – Scareglow (GITD)
Dorbz Ride: MOTU – Panthor w/ Battle Armor Skeletor
Rock Candy: MOTU – She-Ra
Long-time Funko collectors, rejoice! We’re bringing back Sike-O-Shriner in Pop! form for San Diego Comic Con 2017!
Pop! Funko: Sike-O-Shriner
Wave 8: DISNEY (Announced June 21)
So much good stuff out of this Disney line!
First of all, Chip and Dale are one of my favorite duos. I don’t have these guys in my collection at all so having a flocked version of them would be fantastic.
Secondly, the rooster was one of my favorite parts of Moana. Yes, I’m weird like that, but he was super funny, and this Hei Hei looks great.
Finally, two glow in the dark Pop! toys! Though I’m not crazy about “Pirates of the Caribbean,” that Jolly Roger looks amazing. It’s just a shame he’s limited to 1000 pieces because that means I’ll probably never get my hands on him.
Since I am crazy about Darkwing Duck, a glow in the dark Negatron is so up my alley. I’ll be working hard to try and acquire that guy!
As put in the press release:
Our Disney SDCC exclusives sure cover a lot of ground! We have some new characters from cartoons, movies, and Disney Parks! Plus, check out some fun versions of familiar faces, like flocked or glow-in-the-dark!
Pop! Disney: Chip & Dale 2-pack (Flocked)
Pop! Disney: Winnie the Pooh – Bouncing Tigger (Flocked)
Pop! Disney: Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride – Mr. Toad (1500 LE)
Pop! Disney: Moana – Hei Hei
Pop! Disney: Disneyland Resort – Jolly Roger (Glow-in-the-Dark 1000 LE)
Pop! Disney: Darkwing Duck – Negatron (Glow-in-the-Dark)
Dorbz Ridez: Aladdin – Aladdin & Abu with Magic Carpet
Wave 7.5: RICK & MORTY – Tinkles and Ghost in a Jar (Announced June 20)
I don’t know why this wasn’t included with the rest of the “Cartoons” wave but Funko dropped the news separately for Rick & Morty fans that they’ll be able to get a Tinkles Pop! I don’t watch the show and have no idea about this character, but it looks pretty cool, and I like that little ghost.
From the press release:
As the Master Toy Licensee Partner for Rick and Morty, Funko has made a concerted effort to showcase the incredible oddities of this uniquely creative show! The San Diego Comic-Con exclusive Tinkles with Ghost in a Jar Pop! is yet another example of why we’re proud to partner with minds capable of producing something adorable, fascinating, and, inevitably, sinister. Keep an eye out for more Rick and Morty products from Funko, such as Pop!s, Action Figures, and even the upcoming Portal Gun!
Wave 7: WARNER BROS – Harry Potter, Supernatural, Lord of the Rings & The 100 (Announced June 19)
This was kind of a mish-mosh of a reveal seeing as how these are all over the place but oh em gee there’s some amazing offerings in this bunch. While I’m not generally a fan of Pop! Rides, I am a fan of Supernatural so to finally have Baby in Pop! form is a god-send.
Also, a fun fact about me: my two favorite characters from Harry Potter are Neville and Luna. While Funko already made both of those, I am super stoked for the Luna in the Spectrespecs, and though I wasn’t too crazy about Fantastic Beasts, the 6” Occamy is beautiful and I love the iridescence on it.
Pop! Television: The 100 – Lincoln as Reaper (750pc LE)
Lincoln from The 100 is featured as a Reaper and is joining the SDCC line up!
Pop! Ride: Supernatural – Baby with Dean
How do you raise a babyshifter? Dean is figuring that out! Dean & Baby are now a SDCC exclusive Pop! Ride!
The magic of Hogwarts continues with some epic SDCC exclusives!
Pop! Harry Potter: Harry on Broom
Pop! Harry Potter: Luna Lovegood with Glasses
Pop! Movies: Fantastic Beasts – 6” Occamy
Now receiving the 6” Pop! vinyl treatment is the Occamy from the hit movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them!
Wave 6: TV (Announced June 16)
Finally a Clara Pop! There have been so many Doctor Who Pop!s already that it’s almost criminal that Clara is just getting a release, but at least it’s happening.
That Tick looks sweet, too (and it glows in the dark!), and I might even pick up that Stranger Things Steve, just for the detail alone.
Besides those, there’s not much in this wave that grabs me. I never really watched Twin Peaks or Mr. Robot (though from what I understand, I should) and I fell out of favor with The Walking Dead long ago. Fans of those shows might be interested in these Pop!s. For the most part, they look pretty good.
Pop! Television: Mr. Robot – Masked Elliot Alderson
It’s a mask he can’t take off! To hide his true self, it’s Elliot Anderson featured in the fsociety mask!
Pop! Television: The Walking Dead – T-Dog
One of the original characters from the hit AMC series The Walking Dead is now a SDCC exclusive… it’s T-Dog!
Pop! Television: Doctor Who – Clara
Clara, the Impossible Girl, is joining the Pop! vinyl SDCC line up!
Pop! Television: The Tick –The Tick (Glow-in-the-Dark)
Be prepared when The Tick hits Amazon Prime Video on August 25th with this SDCC exclusive glow-in-the-dark Tick Pop! Neat!
We haven’t had enough of Stranger Things on Netflix! Steve and Mr. Clarke are receiving the Pop! vinyl treatment for SDCC!
Pop! Television: Stranger Things – Steve
Pop! Television: Stranger Things – Mr. Clarke
Wave 5: DC! (Announced June 14)
DC seems to have the largest showing at SDCC this year and there’s a lot to be excited for. First of all, Ares from the Wonder Woman film is a must-have for any completists out there (such as myself). Though I’m not really a fan of Dorbz, the Diana/Ares 2-pack looks great.
Funko is also giving us additions from other movie-property Pop!s with a Joker Batman based from the Suicide Squad line as well as two Pop!s from the upcoming Justice League. I’m really digging Bruce Wayne; it would go well next to the Tony Stark SDCC exclusive.
Luckily, the animation gets some love too! Man-Bat from Batman: The Animated Series looks incredible and is enticing me to start collecting that series. We also get a Wonder Twins 3-pack! Who would have ever thought that would be a thing?
Finally, that Red Batmobile. I have no idea what it’s from but it’s a thing of beauty.
As seen from the press release:
From comic books to the big screen and some surprises in between, Funko’s DC exclusives for San Diego Comic Con really runs the spectrum! We have key additions to the Wonder Woman and Justice League movie lines as well as a Suicide Squad The Joker inspired Batman! Speaking of Batman, we also have a stunning blue chrome variant, a special Batmobile action figure colorway, and Interplanetary Batman with a space helmet! We have the Wonder Twins and Man-Bat for fans of DC’s animated shows, while comic buffs will enjoy classic Nightwing and Deathstroke Dorbz!
Pop! Movies: Wonder Woman – Ares
Dorbz: Wonder Woman – Wonder Woman & Ares 2-pack
Pop! Movies: Suicide Squad – Joker Batman
Pop! Movies: Justice League – Bruce Wayne
Pop! Movies: Justice League – Aquaman with Motherbox
Pop! Heroes: Blue Chrome Batman (Toy Tokyo)
Pop! Heroes: Batman The Animated Series – Man Bat
Pop! Heroes: Interplanetary Batman
Pop! Heroes: Wonder Twins 3-pack – Zan, Jayna & Gleek
Dorbz: Classic Nightwing & Deathstroke 2-pack (1500 LE)
Action Figures: Red Batmobile with Green Batman (1500 LE)
Wave 4: CARTOONS (Announced June 12)
Here’s a few that I’m really excited for! As of a fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as I am, shockingly the only Pop! I own from that line is Casey Jones, but that Baxter Stockman Fly Pop! needs to be part of my collection.
An epic amount of your cartoon favorites are now arriving as SDCC exclusives!
Pop! Animation: Ren & Stimpy – Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy 2-pack (2500pc LE)
This 2-pack makes us Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!
Pop! Television: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Baxter Stockman
The mad scientist from TMNT is joining the SDCC lineup!
Pop! Telvision: Catdog – Flocked Catdog
Alone in the world is a little Catdog! This SDCC exclusive is a flocked (fuzzy!) variant!
Pop! Television: South Park – The Coon
The Coon and Mint-Berry Crunch from the animated hit show South Park are also joining Funko’s SDCC exclusives lineup!
Pop! Television: South Park – Mint-Berry Crunch
Wave 3: MARVEL (Announced June 9)
It’s no surprise that Marvel would get a major reveal, but what does surprise me is how few items are included in the exclusive wave, as well as how plain most of these are. I think the Gwenpool with the selfie stick is a pretty clever piece, but I’m not too keen on the Red She-Hulk and Bucky Cap Pop!s (although I do like that Tony Stark from Spider-Man: Homecoming and that may be the plainest from the bunch so judge me as you will).
From the press release:
Our San Diego Comic Con exclusives for Marvel include some of your comic book favorites and one major big screen personality! Gwenpool busts out her selfie stick and also joins the Rock Candy family, while Red She-Hulk & Bucky Cap both make their Funko debut! e also have Tony Stark showing off his snazzy street style while holding a familiar helmet!
Pop! Marvel: Gwenpool with Selfie Stick
Rock Candy: Gwenpool
Pop! Marvel: Red She-Hulk
Pop! Marvel: Captain America (Bucky Cap)
Pop! Marvel: Spider-Man Homecoming – Tony Stark (holding helmet)
Wave 2: SCOTT PILGRIM (Announced June 7)
I won’t lie; I’m a little surprised that Scott Pilgrim vs the World got its own wave of release news, but that doesn’t mean I’m not excited. That Nega Scott Pop! is fantastic but I think the one I’m most excited for is the Ramona Flowers Rock Candy. The roller blades are a nice touch.
From the press release:
Funko earned the Power of new Scott Pilgrim figures! Scott Pilgrim with Sword of Destiny, NegaScott, and Roxy Richter Pop!s are coming for San Diego Comic Con 2017! We’re also offering a Scott Pilgrim Dorbz 3-pack – which includes Scott with Sword of Destiny, NegaScott, and Scott with his bass guitar – as well as Ramona Flowers in Rock Candy form!
Pop! Movies: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – Scott with Sword of Destiny (2000pc LE)
Pop! Movies: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – Nega Scott
Dorbz: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – Scott Pilgrim 3-pack (500pc LE)
Rock Candy: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – Ramona Flowers (1250pc LE)
Wave 1: STAR WARS (Announced June 5)
The first wave of exclusives Funko announced was their Star Wars line. Most of what they showed focused on the recent Rogue One and The Force Awakens movies, as to be expected, but that Leia/R2-D2 2-pack is on point.
Funko’s first round of exclusives for San Diego Comic Con 2017 come from a galaxy far, far away!
From recent fan favorites Bodhi Rook, Combat Assault Tank Trooper, and 6-inch holographic Snoke to the timeless pairing of R2-D2 with holographic Princess Leia, these figures are essential for every Star Wars fan!
Pop! Star Wars: Rogue One – Bodhi Rook
Pop! Star Wars: Rogue One – Combat Assault Tank Trooper
Pop! Star Wars: 6″ Supreme Leader Snoke (Glow-in-the-Dark)
Pop! Star Wars: Holographic Princess Leia & R2-D2
When Iron Man debuted in theaters in 2008, audiences had no idea that it would completely change the landscape of film-making forever. It marked the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The MCU became a collection of movies featuring different characters all tied together as a way to multiply audience interest and profits for otherwise uninteresting movies. While Marvel pioneered the scheme, other studios quickly jumped on board, notably Marvel’s main competitor, DC Comics. Universal Pictures recently decided to dust off their “Monsters” properties and build their own Cinematic Universe. The Mummy marks the first film in what they’ve christened “Dark Universe.” But the question remains; is The Mummy worthwhile?
From the very start, Universal wanted to make sure audiences were aware that The Mummy is part of a larger framework. With press releases and announcements of Johnny Depp playing the Invisible Man, this felt unnecessary. The studio has even inserted a logo variation that morphs the famous “Universal Pictures” vanity logo into the words “Dark Universe,” almost like a new entity that produced the movie. It’s an odd addition, one done out of hubris more than anything else, and it’s completely ridiculous. It would be as if Iron Man began with a logo touting it as “A Marvel Cinematic Film.”
The film itself opens in an equally bizarre way: on the burial of a Templar Knight in twelfth century England. It then quickly transitions to modern-day London before flashing back to Egypt and summarizing the history of Ahmanet and her quest for power, all told through a narration by Russell Crowe’s character. Why any of this was necessary I can’t say. The only thing I can think of is that the film’s writers, of which there are six, had no faith that audiences would have been able to understand the hook without having it spelled out. That theory also explains the immense amount of verbal exposition we get along the way. For a film that’s as steeped in lore as The Mummy, I would expect an excess of expository dialogue, but Universal really took advantage of my expectations.
Most of the film gets bogged down from how hard it is to like Tom Cruise’s character. Nick…Something Or Other is an Army Sergeant/thief who has his sights set on “liberating” whatever valuables he happens to find in modern-day Iraq. He makes no excuses for his deception and his main motivation throughout the film is saving himself. There’s a slight glimmer of goodness in his character, which is dashed as quickly as it appears by way of a sad attempt at levity. I doubt the writers even realized that their throw-away joke negated any positive quality in the character, because if they did, they should have worked harder to make him more likeable.
The dislike of Cruise’s character is compounded by how terribly the writers treat his female counterpart. Nick takes advantage of archeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) by lying to her, sleeping with her, and stealing her map to the location of what he believe is “treasure,” but not once does he show remorse for his actions. However, when he later discovers her secret that she’s been working with a covert team of “archeologists,” she’s made to feel terrible for her actions and apologizes profusely. Even watching this through the eyes of a dude, I could see the incongruity plain as day.
As expected, the movie makes a number of humorous attempts through its big, loud action sequence but most of them are so trite and obvious that they fall flat. Not to mention that some of the biggest jokes happen at the most inopportune moment, which made it uncomfortable to even enjoy them.
The humor was another pratfall the movie continued to make. Many of the jokes happen with unfortunate timing, such as when danger was at its highest. This created a strange juxtaposition that felt awkward. Am I supposed to laugh as Tom Cruise is about to get a dagger plunged into his heart? According to the writers, yes, I am.
I can’t say that the film is entirely bad, though. It does a few things right, most notably the casting of Sofia Boutella as the titular Mummy. Boutella has an amazing onscreen presence. The way she plays Ahmanet is threatening, unrelenting, and imposing, but she also manages to ply sympathy when needed. The only downside is how much her talent is wasted on a one-note villain. Granted, Ahmanet has more depth than both Cruise’s and Wallis’s characters, but her antagonism just comes off as boring. She’s the ultimate unstoppable evil that can be easily stopped by a MacGuffin.
Then you have Russell Crowe, whose appearance in this film is solely to expand the Dark Universe. Crowe plays Dr. Henry Jekyll. Yep, that Dr. Jekyll. He was a joy to watch as he seemed to be the only person in the ensemble who bothered getting into character. While I did like the way the film introduced the Jekyll/Hyde connection, I feel like they overdid it. In a case like this, as most of Marvel’s films have shown, a little goes a long way. Universal, on the other hand, didn’t seem to trust their audience would get the allusion and needed to center an entire action scene on just how badass Mr. Hyde could be. While it was a fun scene, it slowed down the pacing of the film and took some of the spotlight away from the Mummy, who should have always been the focus of the film.
For a movie that’s meant to kickstart a cinematic universe full of classic monsters, The Mummy lacks any sort of horror or thrills. It’s overflowing with cheap jump scares and cringe inducing creepiness (like Cruise being covered in rats), and those grow old fast. It also lacks the charm that 1999’s The Mummy starring Brendan Fraser had. At this point, it must be asked: what is this Mummy flick supposed to bring to the table, besides over-the-top action pieces?
Would I say The Mummy was a good movie? Nope. I will say that as the tent pole of the “Dark Universe,” it was fun, and at the very least, it opened the doors for films featuring a more diverse cast of classic monsters. After years of countless Dracula, Frankenstein and Werewolf movies, we finally have the chance to gets movies centered on the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the Invisible Man. In the hands of the right writer and director, these movies have the opportunity to be mind-blowing. While The Mummy is mediocre at best, it deserves some credit.
I’m a huge fan of junk food movie tie-in. Actually, a more accurate word to describe me would be “sucker.” Whether it’s a promo in a restaurant chain or a special edition candy bar, I just can’t get enough of them. So I’m sure you can understand my excitement for the Doritos bag that played the entire soundtrack for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. There was no way I could let the opportunity to own one slip away.
Getting my hands on one of these bags was a chore in itself. Doritos was extremely forthcoming about the date they would go on sale, as well as the specific Amazon page they’d be available on. I spent all day constantly refreshing Amazon to only be let down hour after hour. Finally, at around 8 that night, the Doritos finally went live…on a completely different section of Amazon than promised, which I only knew about because of a heads up from a friend.
But I digress. And complain a little more than I should since I did eventually order one.
A couple weeks later, a box showed up and I couldn’t be more excited to tear into it. After cutting through two layers of cardboard, I was greeted by a beautifully printed vision of a familiar cassette player inlay on a faux-wood veneer.
The box is really something to admire. There’s nothing special about it in particular, other than providing a nice display for the bag of Doritos and storage for the accessories.
I carefully opened the lid to be greeted by the bag…
…only to be disappointed. I quickly noticed that half of the bag was off-printed, creating an obnoxious shadow effect on most of the words. Though this is a fairly common occurrence on most bags of chips, it was extremely disheartening to see in this instance. Given the small print run of these bags, one would think Doritos would have a little extra quality assurance to make sure everything came out perfectly. But that’s not the case.
Oh, well. That’s life, I guess. I bought it because it plays music so let’s test that out.
All of those buttons printed under the cassette tape work. Power, Play, Stop, Next, Reverse. The bag works exactly like a Walkman. It’s pretty neat, but I am slightly concerned about the flimsiness of the bag itself. So far I’ve been handling it extremely delicately as everything feels so fragile that I’m afraid I may break it. This isn’t something that would be easy to replace.
I’m not alone in my worry, here; Doritos clearly realized most people won’t consistently listen to the soundtrack through a bag of tortilla chips so they included a mini USB port on the bag, and a cable in the box. You can plug the bag into your computer and download the entire soundtrack in MP3 format and listen to it on any compatible device. The USB port will also recharge the player, in case people do consistently listen to the soundtrack through a bag of tortilla chips.
In addition to the USB cable, the bag came with a set of headphones. Not cheap ear buds like most music players would have but a pair of over-the-head, foam-covered headphones that were popular in the 80s. I plugged them in and followed the directions on the box.
As soon as I pressed the “Power” button, the bag flashed to life. Literally. There’s a light in it that glows when the power is on. Which makes sense. I mean, how else are you supposed to know that it’s on if you unplug the headphones?
The quality of the music is crystal clear. I don’t know the specs of the player itself but whatever it is, it seems to handle high quality MP3s really well. There’s even no loss in quality from the headphones. At least none that I noticed. It sounded as good as music from my iPod (though I do have a 2nd gen iPod so that may not be saying much).
At $29.99 retail, these Doritos are a bit of an investment. However, when you realize that you’re paying for the full soundtrack as well as a marketing gimmick that’s sure to spark some conversations, the cost is still kind of hard to swallow. This is clearly an item for die-hard Guardians of the Galaxy fans, a subset that probably never existed before 2014. But either way, I’m ecstatic to add it to my collection, even if I don’t have any place to display it.
For a few years back in the early 2010s horror mash up stories were all the rage. Take an innocuous but well known thing and mix it with a fantasy horror trope and a new hit was made. These were most evident through books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and probably a few others not written by Seth Grahame-Smith. Though that genre has been dormant for a few years, it’s come back quite well with the recent release of Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer.
Written by David Crownson, Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer takes place (appropriately) in 1860, deep in the heart of America’s days of Slavery. It opens with a slave family, the Edgefields, as they escape their plantation in search of a life as free folk. When they run afoul of a trio of shady white men, the Edgefields stand their ground only to discover that these men aren’t exactly what they seem to be. Luckily, a mysterious stranger, the eponymous Harriet Tubman, shows up to save them.
One of the things I liked most about the book is the humor. Within the first couple of pages, Crownson makes a joke at the expense of one of his characters and it’s brilliant because it serves a higher purpose than a mere moment of levity. In addition to setting the tone for the book, that initial joke lets the audience know that despite the heady subject matter, they’re allowed to laugh at the story. This is a necessary cue for readers like me, a middle class white man, during the times that the N-word gets bandied around. That word would (rightfully so) make modern audiences uncomfortable but was necessary to tell a story that borrowed heavily from the time of slavery and Harriet Tubman’s real-life struggle. Crownson breaks the ice early to alleviate any possible squeamishness.
The art on the book is superb. Courtland Ellis’ art is smooth, his figures realistic and graceful. There are no overly muscular men rippling through torn shirts. His women aren’t bodaciously disproportioned, and in fact have noticeably different body types. Ellis uses subtle facial expressions on his characters to portray emotions and tip the readers off to what they’re thinking, but he’s then able to go all out during the funny moments. It can be a jarring juxtaposition at times but really ramps up the humor.
The art isn’t perfect, though. Most of the pages are beautiful, however, there’s some panel progression that feels off. Some of the character movement is choppy and stilted, which is detrimental in a book that relies heavily on fight scenes. Thankfully, it’s easy to overlook because there are so many other things to enjoy but hopefully it improves as the series progresses.
Ellis also shines in how he draws backgrounds, notably in the way he uses large brushstrokes to signify foliage. It’s drastically different from mainstream comics and I absolutely love it.
My biggest problem with the book is the dialogue. While most of the characters’ speech is smooth and energetic, the story is sprinkled with one-liners that just seem trite and unnecessary. It tended to be more good than bad, though.
I also wasn’t a fan of the localized dialect. This was probably included to show how different groups speak differently and was effective in establishing the world the story takes place in. I felt like it slowed down the reading experience, forcing me to puzzle out what the characters were saying. I understand that I’m splitting hairs here and maybe sound a little pedantic but this was definitely my take away from the reading experience.
Also, I need to point out the book’s poor punctuation. Normally I don’t even notice the lettering in comic books but the fact that this drew my attention means that it really stood out. Granted, some of the punctuation choices may have been stylistic but there are some instances that are just inconsistent, making the lettering come off as lazy or rushed. Again, I have hope that this will be remedied in future issues.
Despite its flaws, though, one thing that Crownson gets right is the mystery surrounding Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer. His opening chapter focuses on establishing the characters. He doesn’t dive too far into why the vampires are chasing runaway slaves or even where Harriet comes from. We know nothing of her past, her upbringing, or how she knows how to fight. Crownson reveals just enough to whet my appetite but not too much that I lose interest and don’t return for the second issue.
Having purchased Harriet Tubman: Demon Slayer on a whim during Free Comic Book Day (it was funded through a successful Kickstarter), I have no idea how to get a physical copy of the book. However, you can buy it in digital on Comixology and Peep Game Comix. And I wholly recommend you pick it up. Not only is this book a fun read but it’s also an interesting take on the horror mash-up genre and the life of one of the most prolific American humanitarians.
Back in 2014, the world was shocked to find itself entertained by a hard sci-fi comic book movie with a main cast that featured a talking raccoon and a giant tree. Three years later, audiences eagerly anticipated the sequel to that film and here we are, talking about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. But does the second film live up to the expectations set by the first?
Guardians Vol. 2 opens on the team, composed of Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), facing off against a pink, undulating, multi-tentacled creature at the behest of a race of beings called the Sovereign. It’s a fun scene that helps set the tone of the film and reminds audiences that they’re in for a good time.
The casting of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is definitely one of the films’ strong points. In addition to our core line-up, we are introduced to a few new characters. The first is Ego, played masterfully by Kurt Russell. We learn that Ego is Star-Lord’s father (not a spoiler) and wants to reconnect with his son (possibly a spoiler, if you couldn’t have deduced that yourself). Russell has such a great on-screen presence that he’s a joy to watch as Ego. He exudes charm in such a way that you believe him to be Star-Lord’s father; there’s no denying these two are cut from the same cloth.
The idea of “Family” is a main theme in this movie. They touched on this a bit at the end of the first film, where the cast begin to see themselves as a makeshift family. This time, with Star-Lord meeting his father, they elevate the theme. But we also see it with Gamora and Nebula (played by Karen Gillan), a pair of sisters who were always at each others’ throats. In Vol. 2, they spend more time together and begin to understand each other better. Also, Baby Groot exemplifies the theme of “Family.” Literally a toddler, Groot has an attachment to each of the Guardians, and in turn they treat him as if they were his adoptive parent. It’s very sweet in the way it’s handled.
We also meet Mantis, Ego’s handmaiden. As a full-fledged Guardian in the Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning comic book series, it’s no surprise to learn that Mantis would eventually join the team. Played by Pom Klementieff, Mantis was fun to watch on screen. Her ability to feel the emotions of other by touching them made for a few humorous moments, and though she served a purpose to the plot, I feel like her character was introduced to provide little more than that. That said, I’m happy to see her as part of the team and look forward to seeing more of her.
One character I didn’t quite get was Sylvester Stallone’s Stakar Ogord. Introduced early in the film, Ogord was used as a foil to Yondu (Michael Rooker), and shame him for his past transgressions. Ogord doesn’t make another appearance until the very end, at which point he’s given his very own post-credits scene that points to the character doing something more meaningful. Which makes sense considering they cast goddamn Sylvester Stallone in the role. Whatever it is that writer/director James Gunn has planned for him, I can’t even fathom. To me, his inclusion in the film felt shoehorned and overblown and I could have done without it.
With the exception of Star-Lord, who learns about his heritage, we don’t get a lot of development in the main cast. Some of their backstories are expanded on but it mostly feels like a retread of what we already learned about them in the first film. Instead, the secondary cast gets to step into the spotlight, as Gunn dives into the histories of both Nebula and Yondu. We get a peek into why Nebula resents Gamora so much. Concerning Yondu, we get to delve into his relationship with Star-Lord, which was touched upon a little in the first movie but Gunn really goes in depth here. It makes for a touching story but if you spend enough time thinking about it, it becomes downright unsettling
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is dripping with sentimentality. Mostly it’s handled well; it doesn’t get overly dramatic, like Rocket’s reaction to Groot’s “death” at the end of the first film. However, given the emotions that are boiling over, Star-Lord reconciling with his father, Star-Lord’s confrontation with Gamora about their unspoken thing, and even Drax and his reminiscing about his wife and daughter, we see how despite all of their flaws, the Guardians remain human (a term used loosely given that 80% of them are aliens).
The first Guardians was impressively funny, probably the most humor-filled film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Rightfully, Vol. 2 manages to keep that vibe going, and they even upped the humor quotient this go around. I’m not trying to say they squeezed more jokes into the script, which, to be fair, they seem to have done. The tone of the humor was intensified, almost to the point of being cartoonish. A scene in which Yondu, Kraglin (played by the director’s brother, Sean Gunn), and Rocket make a jump to hyperspace really displays the ways James Gunn was willing to push the envelope. It works within the confines of this film, one which is willing to play around with the laws of physics, but it just seemed over the top and unnecessary. I think we’re willing to give Gunn the leeway to do things like this because his track record is relatively clean, but I hope he doesn’t press his luck too much.
One of the ways Gunn improved in the sequel is in the pacing. The first Guardians needed to build its world so some of the scenes felt longer than they should have, mostly because of the wordy exposition used to get the point across. Vol. 2, however, has pretty much established its rules, so the only wordiness is to expand character arcs. There were still quite a few wordy monologues but at least they didn’t feel as expository.
In regards to the composition of Vol. 2, Gunn uses the same formula as he did in the first one, which is the only main downside. We open with a scene from the past, cut to quirky musical intro credits, move into character intros, exposition, exposition, dramatic turn, final battle. There’s nothing wrong with working from the formula (that is, after all, how it became a “formula”), and at least Gunn manages to make this film feel different from its predecessor. If this becomes the norm, however, it could really bring down the series.
As part of the most offbeat series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 could have gone in a number of directions but I’m pleased with where James Gunn chose to take it. Humanizing the cast was a great way to keep audiences connected with the characters. It was also great to see a few of the more underutilized characters from the first film get the chance to shine (while Baby Groot is the clear fan-favorite, Drax had a few pretty amazing moments). All in all, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 never lost sight of what everyone loved about its predecessor. While not perfect, it’s a fun movie that helps to elevate Marvel’s record in regard to sequels. I’m ready for the third one.