Sunday, February 7, 2016

Black Superhero Month V: Back and Black

Mister Terrific without a leather jacket is not so terrific
After a year absence I think it’s time to bring back my annual (coughcough) celebration of Black Superheroes. For those of you who may be new here (or possibly just forgot since it’s been two years) every year I try to write up a few blogs showcasing various black superheroes in comic books. The common thought process on this subject is that there are hardly any black superheroes. The fact is that there’s actually quite a few but the majority of them are not very well known…and also a lot of them are terrible or racist or extremely dull. I feel pretty confident that no one is dying for a Triathlon solo movie.

Whether they’re an A-lister like Black Panther or Storm or underrated, underused second stringers like XS or Bronze Tiger it’s still always fun to talk about these characters and remind everyone of the importance of diversity.

I look forward to all the racist comments that I’m opening myself up to by doing this.

My next blog will tackle this year’s first entry but since by this point I’ve written quite a few profiles I thought it would be handy to make up a quick master list so you don’t have to dig through the archives to so the heroes we’ve looked at thus far. Take in mind that I haven’t updated anything over the years so some of these profiles massively out of date.

Black Panther – The best black superhero ever created. 

Bronze Tiger – An insanely proficient martial arts master. 

Storm – Sometime leader of the X-Men and Marvel Comics’ highest profile black character. 

Black Lightning – Electric powered protector of the Suicide Slum.

War Machine – Pilot of the “Variable Threat Response Battle Suit" armor. 

Vixen – Super model turned super hero, with the powers of the entire animal kingdom.

Luke Cage – Street level Hero for Hire and Avenger, armed with unbreakable skin. 

Thunder – Density controlling daughter of Black Lightning.

Mister Terrific II – Brilliant scientist turned adventurer, and one of my personal favorite characters.

Spawn – Demonic hero and the most popular superhero of the 1990s/The Dark Age of Comics

Static – Teen hero powered by electricity and the most high profile character from Milestone Comics

Misty Knight – An ex-cop turned private investigator with a badass robot arm and a great hair cut.

Cyborg – Former Teen Titan, now currently enjoying top tier status at DC Comics.

Monica Rambeau – Former Captain Marvel, former leader of Nextwave, lies all the time.

Green Lantern IVJohn Stewart, member of the Green Lantern Corps. 

The Falcon – A hero with the power of flight. Also an ex-pimp, because the world is terrible. 

Night Thrasher – Leader of the New Warriors and skateboard enthusiast 

Amanda Waller – Ruthless, no-nonsense government administrator. More of a villain than a hero, really. 

Triathlon/3D-Man II – A hero with three times the physical prowess of a normal man. 

XS – Speedster from the future and granddaughter of Barry Allen/The Flash. 

Rage – Super strong thirteen year old trapped in a man’s body. 

Bumblebee – Brilliant inventor and former member of the Teen Titans.  

Next time we start things off with a gun wielding mutant from the future. No, not Cable; the other gun wielding mutant from the future.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Anime Review: One-Punch Man

One-Punch Man had been on my radar for a couple of years now. It has one of the weirder journeys from original material to anime adaptation, as well as being one of the more curious success stories that I’ve heard. It was originally a web comic created by an amateur manga artist going by the handle “ONE” in 2009. Though not exactly the prettiest comic ever created (ONE was literally just messing around with manga software for fun when making this comic) it ended up striking a chord with fans and soon went viral. It eventually came to the attention of professional manga artist Yusuke Murata, probably most famous to Americans as the artist for Eyeshield 21. Murata offered to redraw the web comic and publish it on Young Jump Web Comics in 2012. Since then the popularity of One-Punch Man has skyrocketed and millions of copies of the collected volumes have sold in Japan. As someone who has seen the original web comic believe me when I say how flipping crazy it is that One-Punch Man has gotten so big.

In 2015 an anime seemingly based more on the remake by Murata began airing. Produced by big time studio Madhouse and licensed by Viz Media in America One-Punch Man was actually simulcast in the US as it was debuting in Japan, which is something that has become more and more common in the last three years. I accidentally came across it on Hulu last Fall and nearly lost my mind, as I had no idea watching this show legally in this country was an option.

I’ll get more into this in the review itself but it’s important to note that One-Punch Man is a parody and there’s a lot of jokes and puns involved. But since I’m a dumb American (as are a lot of you, according to this blog’s stats) a lot of these go right over my head. One outstanding example we should all be aware of is that the name “One-Punch Man” is itself a pun based off the long running children’s picture book series Anpanman. This is apparently hilarious. If nothing else it automatically tells you exactly what tone you should expect when going into this one.

Anpanman's head is filled with bean paste or something?
I'm not sure because I'm not a Japanese child
Full review after the jump.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Beta's Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2015

So…yeah. I guess it’s been a year since I posted anything on this blog. This is awkward. There’s a reason, though I don’t think this is the place to discuss it. I may talk about it in detail at some point in the near future (or maybe I won’t post anything for another twelve months) but since it’s doubtful there’s any regular readers at this point it probably doesn’t matter too much right this second.

Instead today I want to continue a tradition of this blog; my Top Ten Favorite Movies list. I obviously didn’t review a single goddamn movie this year but I watched more flicks in 2015 than I had in years. And what a year it was for movies! There were so many great films this past year that it was not unlike sensory overload for me. I wasn’t able to see every movie that was out there so this list only focuses on what I was able to see. So, any fans of Spotlight getting upset that it’s not on the list are going to have to calm themselves down.

I will say that I did see The Hateful Eight and, while I enjoyed the heck out of the flick, it just barely didn’t make the list. Let’s think of it as #11 or an Honorable Mention. I also saw Jurassic World this past summer. Spoiler Alert: it doesn’t make the list, though if you need a good sleep aid I would recommend it.

Beta’s Top Ten Movies after the jump.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Five Year Anniversary is Dead

Despite a severe lack of updates I’ve somehow made it to Beta is Dead’s fifth anniversary. BALLOONS!!!

Balloons make everything better
It seems I’m still kicking, despite all appearances to the contrary. A year ago I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue with this blog since there’s so little reward in it. By mid-2014 I was actually feeling significantly better about the blog but I was hampered by some personal issues (and, no, you don’t get to know what those issues were, you nosey so-and-so) which led me to working on my novel rather than writing about movies or cartoons or whatever is it is I normally do. Almost immediately after I finished the first draft and was ready to get back to reviewing things I got a new job that not only ate up all my time but made me not really want to touch a computer after work (eight hours staring at computer screens will do that to you). So in a real way 2014 was probably the worst year in this blog’s history.

But there’s no use in feeling down about it. Instead on dwelling on a lousy year it’s best to plan for the next one and that’s what I aim to do! (I actually had a pretty good year, just not for this blog)

So for 2015 I foresee myself being busy enough that regular updates will not be in the cards. I’d always had the pipe dream of a MWF schedule but I don’t think that’s likely to happen, not unless I make enough money to justify it. I will try to post as often as I can. Expect an anniversary related blog sometime before the end of the month. I also promise I will do everything in my power to make sure there will be posts for Black Superhero Month.

Reviews may be a bit trickier but we’ll see. Traditional the first review of the year is a Mila Kunis film (not because I’m a big fan but because what else am I going to review, am I right?) but that may or may not be the case this year. Jupiter Ascending was delayed to an early February release so if I don’t review something before I see it then tradition will prevail.

A major thing I want to talk about is my book. I finished the first draft last September but since then I have not had the time to edit it that I would like, mainly due to my new job. In 2015 my number one goal is to begin (key word) the process of getting it published by December, even if that’s only shopping it around to agents who won’t return my e-mails (or whatever the first step is; I dunno, man). So I need to get this second draft done, then the third draft, then the fourth draft and then maybe a fifth draft depending on how I feel about it. I plan on this being my priority which means if I feel I have to choose between this blog and my book I will put Beta is Dead on an extended hiatus. If this happens I will likely say something on here.

Any way my hope is that 2015 will be a good year and that we’ll all be here for the sixth anniversary.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Beta's Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2014

2014 was a hard year for me, as evidenced by my lack of updates, and while I’ll likely get into that more when I do my anniversary blog (though I doubt I’ll go into specifics as this still isn’t that type of blog) the most relevant issue I had was an inability to see movies as much as I had in the past. I used to see several films a week and now I’m averaging one every three weeks which is really upsetting for me as going to the movie theater is my favorite hobby. As a result of this trend I missed out on a lot of films that got a lot of buzz (Birdman being the obvious example). Also what movies I did see I simply didn’t have time to review. So this will likely be one of the least interesting “Top Ten Favorite Movies” list I’ve ever done. But I will do it nonetheless!

Anyway the rules are the same as ever: 1) I only count movies I’ve actually seen and I can’t see every movie so if your favorite film or some critical darling didn’t make the list there’s a decent chance I never got around to seeing it. 2) This is not a “Best Movie” list; it’s my list of personal favorites. It’s subjective and you’ll do well to take that in mind. But please, feel free to post your own Top Ten list in the comment section or even if you just have a movie that you think I snubbed. I mean, also comment if you agree with the list but seeing as this is the internet I’m not hopeful.

Beta’s Top Ten Movies after the jump.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nerd Rage #17: Beta vs. Marvel Studios

They've come a long way from being a bankrupt joke
A blog in November? What madness is this? As I suggested a while back I have decided not to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year, partly because of all my work with my book earlier this year but main due to having recently started a new job that would not allow the time to writing 50,000 words in a month and still have anything resembling a life (actually my new job doesn’t leave much time for any writing at all, to my great chagrin).

Anyway Marvel Studios formally announced their movie schedule through the year 2019 (and for some reason this is considered a fine move) and apparently it made everyone I know go insane with anticipation. Some of the films sound pretty cool and others one sound kind of “meh”. I thought it would be fun to briefly at all of Marvel’s upcoming flicks and judge mercilessly despite knowing almost nothing about any of them. And hey, maybe you don’t know much about the characters in the film and this may be a nice learning experience.

Of course supposedly a list of Marvel movies was leaked earlier this year and I distinctive recall many people on my Facebook feed losing their shit over it; taking it completely at face value. I recall being very skeptical about it, especially with World Word Hulk, Captain America: The Fallen Son, and Avengers: Civil War as none of them really made any thematic sense to me based on what had already been established. (Though, let’s face it, Marvel could have easily changed key details of their films after the word got out but we either way it’s hard to know of sure) In any case I didn’t even want to talk about those rumors until things were verified. Now that the official list of films have come out I thought I’d go through them (and since I had a few friends who asked my thoughts about it I get it all out of my system at once).

Congratulations, suckers; you f**king fell for it!
So today we’ll look at all of Marvel Studios’ upcoming films. This does not include the upcoming X-Men, Spider-Man or Fantastic Four flicks as they are produced by different studios (Fox and Sony respectively) nor will be looking at DC Comics' line-up partly because they probably deserve their own topic and partly because I don’t want to angrily ramble right now. I mean, I may still do that today but at least this way I’m not starting out already being annoyed and pissed off at the source material. (Doctor Doom is an angry hacker? Really?)

Marvel Studios’ future after the jump.

[WARNING: While most of my ramblings are just conjecture I may be spoiling plot points for future films simply by taking about the comics they're based on. Read at your own risk.]

Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: Pontypool

Happy Halloween, everybody. As you may well know by now I’m not a huge fan of horror films (like, at all) but I had such a fun time reviewing Evil Dead last year that I decided to review another horror film today. My friend Travis, upon hearing I was thinking of reviewing a horror flick, got super excited and sent me a list of films he thought I would like because he’s a giant fan of the genre and is also history’s greatest monster. Despite reservations I decided to take him up on his suggestions and watch the 2008 film Pontypool which is based on the 1995 novel Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess (who also wrote the screenplay). It’s a zombie flick…kind of. The fact is that the film is part of the zombie genre of horror but plays itself differently from the norm.

Directed by Bruce McDonald Pontypool is a low-budget Canadian feature that didn’t get a heck of a lot of screen time in the USA until finally being released on home video in 2010. Despite this the film received a lot of favorable reviews over the years. Perhaps now something of a cult film whether or not it can overturn my long established dislike of the genre is the question of the day.

Full review after the jump.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Sin City - A Dame to Kill For, The Maze Runner

It's taking me longer than I anticipated to get back into the swing of reviewing things again here on Beta is Dead (the previous blog was actually started after I was half-way through this one). To make matters worse both the movies we’re looking at today are pretty much old news and you’ve already either seen them or at least decided that you’re not going to bother seeing them. The cost of being idle is high when you’re a writer, I guess.

Anyway today we’ll be looking at two film adaptations, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and The Maze Runner. Sin City 2 is the long promised sequel to the 2005 film and both movies are (mostly) based on the comic of the same name by Frank Miller. Now I’m not sure what the shit took so long for this movie to get made but here’s a list of movies Robert Rodriguez chose to direct over Sin City 2 during the near decade gap:

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl (2005)

Planet Terror (2007)

Shorts (2009)

Machete (2010)

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (2011)

Machete Kills (2013)

No less than three kids films and a full length version of a fake trailer AND its sequel (neither of which were all that great). Planet Terror is the only film on that list that doesn’t feel like a waste of time to me. Oh yeah, Frank Miller directed The Spirit in 2008 and it was one of the worst films of the decade; that’s not as important but it’s still notable.

The Maze Runner is based on a young adult novel of the same name by James Dashner that originally came out in 2009. And…that’s pretty much all I know about it. The Maze Runner did extremely well in the Box Office while Sin City 2 was a major bomb, possibly the biggest bomb of the summer. But as we learned from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Dredd, and any Transformers movie monetary success does not always determine the film’s quality.

Two reviews after the jump.