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SkeletonPete’s Yester-Play #1: Star-Spangled Warriors

A SkeletonPete "Yester-Play" Tribute to the War That Time Forgot Series.

A SkeletonPete “Yester-Play” Tribute to the War That Time Forgot Series.

Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yester-Play…
Here’s a photographic homage to those thrilling days of “yester-play.” It’s first in a series I hope to continue as the muses allow. The idea is to periodically root through my old basement toy barrel for inspiration and attempt to artistically photograph whatever I pull out. The first “excavation” yielded this fanciful two-headed Tyrannosaurus and triggered a remembrance of one of my favorite comic book series, Star Spangled War Stories.

What It Is…
Some of my earliest comic book encounters came when my parents or grandparents would walk me to the corner candy store to peruse the newsstand and there before my wondering eyes would be a new issue of DC Comics’ Star Spangled War Stories. Why was Star Spangled so special? Well, because in May of 1960 (with Issue #90) DC began an incredible run of stories that mashed up World War II tales with a land-that-time-forgot motif. In other words, G.I.’s versus dinosaurs stories. Usually heralded by spectacular Joe Kubert or Ross Andru/Mike Esposito rendered covers, they launched me into innumerable hours of pitting my John’s Bargain Store green plastic soldiers against an onslaught from my Louis Marx dinosaur collection.

So here for your approval is my imagining of a Star Spangled tale never told. As with my Safari Ltd. “Good Luck Mini’s” tribute to King Kong, this shot was staged as a table-top tableau using bath towels, house plants and garden rocks for the scenery. The really neat metal tank was a serendipitous discovery in the local 99 Cent store, as was the G.I. in the foreground.

This Cover for Star Spangled War Stories #125 Typifies the Dinosaur Island Series.

This Cover for Star Spangled War Stories #125 Typifies the Dinosaur Island Series.


For more information on the original books, here is the Wiki.

All the great covers can be found in DC Comics’ Archive. The “War That Time Forgot” and “Dinosaur Island” stories began with Issue 90 and ended with Issue 137 (March 1968,) after which the book became a vehicle for the Enemy Ace character.
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Incoming…
DC Comics recently announced plans to revive the Star Spangled War Stories title with issue #1 arriving in July 2014. Focus will be on a G.I. Zombie character, but I can’t imagine that the temptation to revisit the land of tanks vs. dinosaurs can be resisted.

To Die For: Dark Horse Expands “Game of Thrones” Figure Selection in Time for Season 4

Dark Horse Daenerys Figure Was Released in January 2014.

Dark Horse Daenerys Figure Was Released in January 2014.


(Andy and Pete give you the old “one-two punch” for Game of Thrones Season 4 Premiere night)

Andy Says…
Today, fans worldwide are dusting off their family crests. Well, not their family crests, but whether you belong to house Targaryen, Lannister or Stark, you’re bound to be excited about the Season 4 premiere of Game of Thrones, debuting tonight on HBO in the US and tomorrow night in the UK.

What it Is…
Based on the books by American author George R.R. Martin, (dubbed by some as the modern-day Tolkein) the fantasy series set in the middle-earth-like isle of Westeros has everything you can ask for – drama, political intrigue, epic battles, swords, sorcery, and zombie-like white walkers.

Mid-Summer Will see 5 More Figures Including this Likeness of Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

Mid-Summer Will see 5 More Figures Including this Likeness of Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister


Who They Are…
Martin’s characters are complex, with many layers, motivations and conflicting emotions. You love them. You hate them. Are they good? Evil? He takes his time crafting their inner-worlds (giving us each character’s point of view in the books) with as much detail as their outer worlds. With characters like the initially-innocent child-bride-turned-Mother-of-All-Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen (played by Emilia Clarke) and the brilliant, often insightful, imp, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), the tomboyish and tough Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), and the morally ambiguous Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey – Sarah Connor Chronicles), we’ve become invested in each one’s journey – whether we like them or not. In Westeros, only the hardest and most ruthless seem to survive. That’s what it takes to rule a kingdom. Even then… any weakness can be exploited. Fortunes and destinies can turn on a dime. The outcome is never certain.
Robb Stark Figure will Arrive in Early August 2014.

Robb Stark Figure will Arrive in Early August 2014.


Personally, with Starks (my chosen house) dropping like flies (if you haven’t heard about “The Red Wedding” by now, I have little pity if I spoil it for you), I’m starting to get a little nervous. Unlike many of us who have read ahead to the bitter end, there are still folks out there who were shocked and horrified by the deaths of Robb Stark (Richard Madden) and his mother Catelyn Stark (Michelle Farley). If you vowed to stop watching at that point, really, who are you kidding? You know you’ll be back for more heart-stopping thrills, chills and heartbreak this season.
Dark Horse "Game of Thrones" Wave 1 Jon Snow Figure.

Dark Horse “Game of Thrones” Wave 1 Jon Snow Figure.


SkeletonPete Says…
If “All Men Must Die,” here’s news and views of some items that Games of Thrones fans will be dying to get their hands on. Joining the previously released Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen figures Dark Horse has several more characters at the ready to celebrate HBO’s Game of Thrones Season 4 premiere and beyond. These plastic cast models offer a big bang for the buck with a refined elegance usually reserved for items several times their cost. The sculpts are minutely detailed and delicately painted. David Scroggy, head of product development for Dark Horse, noted “…we decided to make these non-articulated, in order to capture all of the small details that would be at risk in a traditional jointed action figure.” They stand approximately 7.5” tall and are sold in a windowed display box. The Spring 2014 release included Tyrion Lannister, Khal Drogo and Ned Stark and will be followed in August by Cersei Baratheon, Robb Stark, Jaime Lannister, Arya Stark, and the White Walker. At a suggested retail price of $24.99 USD they make exceptional collector’s pieces and easy gift choices for the GoT fan in the family.
Limited Edition of Sandor "The Hound" Will Have A  Unique Hinged Hood Feature.

Limited Edition of Sandor “The Hound” Will Have A Unique Hinged Hood Feature.


Hounded…
Also spied at Toy Fair 2014 was a spectacular spin on The Hound, in bust format replete with hinged helmet. The likeness of character Sandor Clegane (portrayed by Rory McCann) is a hand painted and numbered edition that comes packaged with a certificate of authenticity. This one is scheduled for mid-summer release. Also on the limited edition list will be an Arya figure.
Life Sized Map Marker Set Includes Large Map to Plot Your Strategies.

Life Sized Map Marker Set Includes Large Map to Plot Your Strategies.


Map Quest…
Just released this past week is a life sized role playing Map Marker Box Set. Dark Horse press explains the origins, “In the HBO adaptation of Game of Thrones, we see Robb Stark plotting the movements of opposing armies using a map of Westeros and a set of sculpted map markers, each hewn into a representation of one of the house symbols. We have reproduced these items in their true size, using the actual props as reference.

The six individual map markers range from 4.5” to 6” in height, and mimic different materials. Each is hand-painted. The map itself is full size, 50” x 35.5” cloth material with a paper backing, reproduced in color. The big size allows the owner to move the map markers in scale and formulate strategic situations or reproduce those from the show. The map markers and folded map are stored in a deluxe, heavy-duty, 14″ x 4.75″ x 18″ hinged-lid presentation box, protected by a full-color, thick-stock sleeve.”

The Weirwood Snow Globe is Ultra Limited to 1200 Pieces. You'd Better .Shake Up a Pre-Order

The Weirwood Snow Globe is Ultra Limited to 1200 Pieces. You’d Better .Shake Up a Pre-Order


Nothing Shakin’ But The Leaves on the Trees…
As if all this weren’t enough April 16th will see another limited edition piece, the Weirwood snow globe. Its blush of blood red leaves atop the face carved trunk will make striking contrast to blowing “snow” inside. Its base is inscribed with the “I Am the Sword in the Darkness, I Am the Watcher on the Walls…” quote. Only 1200 of these unique hand painted items will be minted and like other Dark Horse LE’s they will be boxed with a certificate of authenticity.

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There’s a New Sheriff in Magic Town: Angel & Faith Season 10 from Dark Horse Comics

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Ever since Barnabas Collins bared his fangs for the 1960′s Gothic daytime soap opera, Dark Shadows, we’ve been enamored with repentant vampires. The idea of the ultimate bad-boy-turned-good by the love of a woman, captured our dark hearts. Like Barnabas, the path to true love never did run smooth for fellow repentant vampire Angel (created by Executive Producer Joss Whedon), and of course, there’s a twist to that epic love story as well.

 

angel-whedon-notfadeaway

 

What it Was…

For those who are unfamiliar with the tale, Angel is a vampire cursed with a soul (in the Buffyverse vampires do not have souls, as a rule, with only two exceptions) by a group of vengeance-seeking gypsies, for the atrocities he has committed.  Now, feeling the full weight of the devastation he has wrought, Angel (once the worst of his vampire-kind – known then as Angelus / Liam – when he was human – who wasn’t that much better), seeks redemption for his sins.

When we first meet Angel (played by David Boreanaz – Bones) in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, he is watching over Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar). OK, he comes off like a creepy stalker whose motives are unclear at first, but he means well.

Eventually, he joins Buffy and her friends in the fight against evil. Unfortunately, Angel makes the mistake of falling in love with the young slayer. In a moment of unbridled passion, Angel loses his soul again (part of the gypsy curse). A moment of true happiness turns Angel back into a soulless, heartless, mass-murdering monster.

Once his soul is restored, Angel knows he can’t stay with Buffy, as he can’t risk the demon within returning to destroy her and all those around her. The star-crossed lovers must part. Heartbroken, Angel removes himself from Buffy’s life and relocates to Los Angeles (the City of Angels – where else?) where he sets up Angel Investigations – a detective agency with a mission to protect the weak and the helpless.

Along the way, Angel meets Doyle (played by the late Glenn Quinn – Roseanne), a half-human half-Brachen demon, whose painful psychic visions aid Angel on his mission. By chance he also re-meets friend and former mean girl Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter - Veronica Mars), trying to make it big in Hollywood as an actress.

Later, Angel is joined by disgraced Watcher Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Alexis Denishof – How I Met Your MotherGrimm), former-gang-member-turned-slayer Charles Gunn (J. August Richards – Arrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), super science geek Winifred ‘Fred’ Burkle (Amy Acker – Dollhouse, Person of Interest), and the green, karaoke-loving, telepathic demon Lorne (played by the late Andy Hallett).

When the TV series ended in 2004 (in the finale Not Fade Away), we were left with the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. Angel, along with fellow vamp Spike (James Marsters), Gunn and Illyria (the Demon taking up residence in Fred’s body), were left with Hell literally raining down upon them — a parting gift from the Senior Partners from the evil law firm of Wolfram and Hart (The Wolf, The Ram and The Heart).

With an army of demons bearing down upon them,  a dragon flying overhead, the loss of their friend, Wesley, and Gunn wounded, our four heroes stand, seriously outnumbered. The last thing we see is Angel, leading the charge. That image burned into our retinas. We were left staring blankly at the screen in disbelief. This couldn’t be the end, could it? I hadn’t been this upset by a series finale since the last episode of Blake’s 7… but I digress… as I often do. Sadly, we never saw Angel and company grace our screens again.

 

Angel and Faith Season 10 #1, ULTRA Variant cover by Rebekah Isaacs

Angel and Faith Season 10 #1, ULTRA Variant cover by Rebekah Isaacs

Our Dark Knight Returns…

Joss Whedon resurrected Angel in 2007 (then with comics from IDW Publishing) picking up where the TV finale left off.  For the last two seasons, Joss and Dark Horse Comics have teamed Angel up with Faith the Vampire Slayer (played by Eliza Dushku in the series) to continue their adventures. Faith has come back from the brink herself, and in her own way, is also seeking redemption for her sins. Both lonely souls bond, becoming allies and friends.

Season 9 of Angel & Faith saw the return of Rupert Giles, Buffy’s Watcher (played in the series by Anthony Stewart Head). Angel had killed Giles while under the influence of magic in Season 8 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, there was an unforeseen consequence to resurrecting our beloved Giles (formerly a middle-aged Englishman). When he returns, he comes back as a young, almost Harry Potteresque pre-teen, capable of wielding magic himself. As we have learned, magic can be unpredictable and dangerous at times. Welcoming Giles back to the world of the living comes with a steep price. Part of London is sacrificed in order to do it and now part of the city is flooded with magic and overrun with supernatural beings.

angelafs10n1p2

 

Here Comes the Law…

When we return, we find our brooding hero, Angel, attempting to deal with the fallout from the previous season, in the section of London known as Magic Town.  As you can imagine, there’s plenty of brooding and self-recrimination that comes with that territory. Meanwhile, we transition over to Faith, who has joined Buffy and the Scoobies in Santa Rosita to help fight the dreaded “zompires” (zombie vampires), as we saw in the Season 10 opener of Buffy. Faith also delivers her comrades the greatest of all gifts in the form of a youthful Giles, though it pains her greatly to do so as she watches the joyful reunion from the distance, always the outsider.

For Season 10 of Angel & Faith, Victor Gischler and Will Conrad take the helm from the creative team of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs (who have moved over to the main Buffy comic) and with them they bring an intense, dark flavor that suits this series quite well.

Far less colorful and light-hearted in tone than Buffy, Gischler and Conrad match the look and feel of the Angel TV series. Will Conrad’s artwork captures the likenesses of the actors from the show (especially Boreanaz and Dushku) beautifully, and that alone had me hooked.  The story itself is fast-paced, with plenty of tension and drama. Though I found the transitions between Angel’s scenes and Faith’s a bit jarring, I blew through the issue quickly, and found myself disappointed when it was over so soon.

 

Andy Says…

The skilled team of Gischler and Conrad hit the opening issue out of the ballpark and left me wanting more. As a fan of the series, what more can you ask for? Angel & Faith Season 10 Issue 1 from Dark Horse Comics is out today at a comic book store near you.

Pharaoh’s Daughter: Another Sold-Out Café au Go Go Tribute @ Greenwich House Music School

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(Editor’s Note: Our resident sci-fi “chica geek” Adriana “Andy” Melendez makes a musical soft-landing back on Earth with her view of this recent Greenwich House show.)

Mild Mannered Music School By Day…
It was my first time at the Greenwich House Music School, which also doubles as a music venue for local artists. It was also my first time seeing Pharaoh’s Daughter, the band performing last Thursday night as part of the school’s 50th anniversary tribute to Café au Go Go, a club well known for musical eclecticism in the late 1960′s.

 

Who They Are…
Eclectic is certainly one word to describe the 7-piece band led by Basya Schechter (Lead Vocals), and features the talents of Meg Okura (Violin), Daphna Mor (Recorders), Shanir Blumenkranz (Bass), Uri Sharlin (Keyboard/Piano), Yonadav Halevy (Drums), and Mathias Kunzli (Percussion).

This New York City based group weaves Middle Eastern sounds into what some call psychedelia and funk, for a vibe that resonates with something both ancient and modern. Personally, I could hear shades of everything from The Doors to Loreena McKennitt, with none of it sounding out of place or derivative, but I’m sure if you asked anyone in that room, you’d get different impressions from each person listening.

basyasmile

Tradition and Invention…
Schechter’s stage persona was down-to-earth and accessible, her vocals strong and resonant. When she played Yona from the band’s 2007 album Haran (the song was dedicated to her young nephew, also in the audience), Schechter got the whole crowd to sing along.

The venue was packed with members from many communities Schechter proudly proclaims herself to be a part of. Whether family, friends, fans, or other musicians and first time listeners (like myself), the room warmed almost instantly to her.

megokura

Though all the members deserve kudos, a special shout out has to go to jazz violinist Meg Okura, who was on fire that night. Her violin solos had me captivated. I have to admit it, this woman was so good, she made the violin look just as cool as any wailing lead guitar – possibly even cooler. I’ll probably get some flack from my guitarist friends, but sorry, fellas, she rules.

Whether playing traditional Jewish songs, or originals, this group of veteran musicians had everyone, both young and old, dancing in their seats, or at the very least, tapping their feet to the rhythm.

threeladies

Andy Says…
It doesn’t matter which community you belong to, what your background is, or whether or not you speak Hebrew, Yiddish or Spanish (all languages Schechter sings in), Pharaoh’s Daughter’s music transcends language, as music should – something for anyone who can listen with an open heart. They were a pleasure to see.

 

For more on Pharaoh’s Daughter visit their site.

For more on the Café au Go Go Revisited Series and the School itself, please visit the Greenwich House website for information on their mission and program offerings.

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New Rules for the Old Team in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10″ From Dark Horse Comics

Buffy, The Vampire Slayer: Season 10 # 1 - Steve Morris Cover Art

Buffy, The Vampire Slayer: Season 10 # 1 – Steve Morris Cover Art

Buffy the Vampire Slayer… 

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve been living under a rock. Lately, large chunks of time seem to disappear without my knowledge or consent, and before I know it, decades have passed. I don’t like it one bit.

It didn’t seem all that long ago, when in fact over 16 years have passed since the diminutive Sarah Michelle Gellar first burst onto our TV screens, kicking demon ass as the feisty, wise-cracking Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And yes, it has been more than 10 years since the television series ended. I didn’t want to do the math either.

 

What it Was…

Needless to say, the hit cult TV series from Executive Producer Joss Whedon (not to be confused with its predecessor and 1992 theatrical release), about a seemingly ordinary 16-year-old girl, gifted with super powers, destined to rid the world of vampires, demons and other creatures of the night, surprised and delighted us. Armed with a pointy wooden stake and an equally sharp tongue, this pint-sized hero has become a symbol of girl power for young women everywhere. And like myself, fans never stopped hoping for Buffy’s return. At the very least we expected a spinoff featuring one of our beloved Scoobies. So we waited… and waited… and waited…

 

Never Say Goodbye…

When we last saw our beloved Scooby Gang (on our screens almost 11 years ago), they had defeated the The First Evil (aka the Big Bad), and along with a team of Slayer Potentials, whose powers had been activated by the Super-Witch, Willow (played by Alyson Hannigan – American Pie, How I Met Your Mother), had saved the world yet again. Just as it seemed there were many more stories to tell, after seven seasons (and two networks), it was time to say goodbye to our heroes.

After the series finale, rumors continued to circulate about a TV spinoff for fellow Slayer (and Buffy rival) Faith (played by Eliza Dushku – Tru Calling, Dollhouse) and for Bad-Vamp-Turned-Good, Spike (James Marsters – Torchwood, Supernatural). And what ever happened to the Ripper spinoff featuring Rupert Giles (played by Anthony Stewart Head – Doctor Who) we heard so much about? Over time, we started to lose hope we’d ever see our friends again. While Team Buffy had certainly earned the vacation, we weren’t ready to lose them forever.

 

Buffy Season 10 #1 - Ultra Variant Cover Art by Rebekah Isaacs (Courtesy of Dark Horse Comics)

Buffy Season 10 #1 – Ultra Variant Cover Art by Rebekah Isaacs (Courtesy of Dark Horse Comics)

A Slayer’s Job is Never Done…

The fact is you can’t keep a good Slayer down, and four years after the final episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer aired, series creator Joss Whedon resurrected our old friends in the form of continuing adventures from Dark Horse Comics.

For Season 10, Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs have crossed over from the Angel and Faith series (also from Dark Horse), bringing with them their take on the Buffyverse for Joss Whedon and Dark Horse’s flagship book. Written by Gage, and beautifully illustrated by Isaacs, the Scooby Gang are a welcome sight for these tired, sore old eyes.

In this latest installment, Buffy and company (formerly from Sunnydale), now in Santa Rosita, have returned magic to the land (after losing it for much of Season 9), but not without encountering some fallout in the form of “zompires” (zombie vampires) – mindless, bloodthirsty creatures, bent on destruction. Uneasy alliances are formed to deal with these abominations to both human and vampire kind, but that’s just the beginning of their troubles.

 

Dark Horse's Exclusive Emerald City  Comic Con Variant Cover by Rebekah Isaacs

Dark Horse’s Exclusive Emerald City Comic Con Variant Cover by Rebekah Isaacs


Andy Says…

I must admit, I find it rather comforting to have Buffy, Spike, Willow and Xander (along with some other familiar faces) back up to their old tricks. Though I don’t know how I completely managed to overlook Seasons 8 and 9 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I plan to remedy that oversight immediately and catch up with previous issues.

Season 10 of Buffy feels like a fun reunion with old friends, complete with the trademark banter fans have come to know and love. Issue 1 is also jam packed with action and last minute twists that are so satisfying for the Buffy fan, you can only imagine how hard it is not to give away spoilers, sweetie, but I will resist the temptation and let you all enjoy for yourselves.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10: Issue 1: New Rules is out now! Get it at a comic book store near you.