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Iron Man 3 Treats Islamist Terror Like a Joke

Friday, May 3rd, 2013 - by John Boot

There’s nothing that makes Hollywood more nervous than portraying Islamist terror. As far back as 1994, James Cameron’s True Lies was denounced as racially insensitive for imagining a chillingly plausible Islamist terror threat involving nuclear weapons. Cameron, anticipating accusations of unfairly linking terrorism with Islam and Arabs, took care to try for “balance” by placing an Arab-American character on the good guys’ side (the actor who played him, Grant Heslov, this year won an Oscar as one of the producers of Argo). Yet the advocacy group the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) slammed the film anyway. The hysterical 1998 movie The Siege imagined that, in an overreaction to a terrorist attack, Brooklyn would be placed under martial law and all young Muslim men would be interned in Yankee Stadium. Ridiculous.

Since 2001, of course, Hollywood has almost completely avoided showing any Muslim involved in terror, changing the bad guys in 2002’s The Sum of All Fears from Palestinians to neo-Nazis. The 2005 Jodie Foster movie Flightplan, about an abduction on an airplane, used a hint that Arabs might be responsible as a red herring. The actual villain: an all-American air marshal played by Peter Sarsgaard. Several Middle East themed movies like Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies essentially saw a moral equivalence between the U.S. and the Islamists, saying both sides were up to comparably nasty stuff in the War on Terror.

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Heroes, Villains, Stormtroopers and More Photos from the 2013 Dallas Sci-Fi Expo

Monday, February 11th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

The Dallas Sci-Fi Expo wrapped up on Sunday, February 10. We snapped photos of some of the best, most creative and most disturbing costumes of the show. Click on a thumbnail below to view photo galleries. They’re divided into Girls, Groups, and Guys.

        

You can see more costumes from the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo here.

We interviewed Battlestar Galactica’s Tricia Helfer, here.

And ran into MickeyDeadMau5Trooper here.

 

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Look! It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane…

Saturday, February 9th, 2013 - by Bryan Preston

Today I’m at the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo (which is actually taking place in Irving). Kevin Sorbo and Morena Baccarin will be here today and tomorrow, along with stars from Back to the Future, Battlestar Galactica, Tron, comic book artists, and of course, just about every superhero and villain imaginable.

Let’s walk the exhibition floor and see who turns up.

Super.

They rule.

I don’t know what they’re selling, but they had a lot of buyers.

Even a Sith.

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5 Reasons You Would Never Want To Be a Superhero in the Real World

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012 - by John Hawkins

No wonder every kid grows up wanting to be a superhero. The comic books make it sound awesome: your life is exciting, you’re important, you’re famous, and being a hero is part of the description of what you do on a regular basis! It’s like being a celebrity-astronaut-Seal who can lift a car over his head. Who wouldn’t want to do that? Well, maybe YOU wouldn’t once you realized that in practice, it would be about as much fun as being Mark Sanchez’s quarterback coach.

1) It Would Be Impossible to Hide Your Secret Identity.

Most comics only make a cursory attempt to explain how superheroes could hide their identity. Superman just wore glasses. Glasses on, Clark Kent. Glasses off, “Hello, Superman!” Batman wore a mask and disguised his voice, but he was obviously an incredibly wealthy, athletic man with access to advanced technology who lived near Gotham. If you asked the Bat Computer to tell you how many people fit that description, the only answer would be, “Bruce Wayne.” Peter Parker was a photographer who, completely coincidentally, was selling pictures of Spider Man to the Daily Bugle every week. Like no one could figure that out.

It doesn’t exactly take Stephen Hawking to crack the mystery of those secret identities, and the real world is much more sophisticated. You’d have every intelligence agency on the planet trying to figure out your identity, gossip mags offering to pay millions for evidence, statistics junkies mapping every place you’d ever been, tens of thousands of bloggers and journalists trying to figure out who you are, and tens of millions of Internet junkies on fan sites spending hours every day trying to piece together who you are when they’re not writing erotic fan fiction imagining you being seduced by the evil lizard queen of Mars. Eventually, someone would snap a cell-phone picture of you coming out of your lair, some long forgotten cousin would remember you picking up a jeep when you were five, or someone would figure out who you were from the DNA on a can of Coke you drank while you were visiting orphans. Then, you’d have super-villains showing up at your house, people kidnapping everyone you ever said “hello” to in public, and even worse….

Hulk secret identity

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The 5 Most Overrated Pop Culture Heroines

Monday, December 3rd, 2012 - by Leslie Loftis

Even while women devour the Twilight books and flock to the recent release of Breaking Dawn 2 most revile the series’ heroine Bella Swan. The savvy modern woman prefers the vampire-slaying Buffy Summers. As a fan of both the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight franchises, I think that we have this partially backward and that the Buffy v. Bella arguments common on the web underscore dangerous assumptions about women. Feminists have co-opted Buffy and the female superheroes for the gender wars in order to perpetuate their illusion of no differences between men and women.

Conventional wisdom tells us that women can do anything men can. With rare exception owing to strength or stature, this is true. But we don’t always want to do what men do, and even if and when we do we have to account for our biology. Sometimes it is the strength and stature deficit, sometimes it is our heavier role in reproduction. The feminist intelligentsia thinks this unfair, so, couching their advice in terms of equality, they tell us to ignore biology. Accordingly, the female heroes who we admire today are the ones who work around reality.

It is great that we have heroes who happen to be women, but we mistake them as role models for womanhood. Five pop culture heroines to illustrate my point:

5. Hermione Granger, The Maligned Hero

Hermione helps Harry Potter figure out how to defeat the evil wizard Voldemort and, at great personal sacrifice, she accompanies Harry on his final quest.

As a role model for womanhood she is the best of this list. She shouldn’t even appear but for what we like about her. The oft-cited favorite Hermione part in the movies: when she punches Draco Malfoy.

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Over eight films loaded with powerful women defying evil—Luna Lovegood, Molly Weasley, Lily Potter, Narcissa Malfoy—that inconsequential punch makes number six of the 50 greatest moments. What was a slap in the book was rewritten as the crowd-pleasing punch because we like it when a woman acts like a man, which is ironic considering the next most overrated heroine, Wonder Woman.

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VIDEO: Mark Hamill Confesses He Wants Obama as His New Obi-Wan Kenobi

Thursday, October 11th, 2012 - by PJ Lifestyle Celebrity Gossip


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Related at PJ Lifestyle:

5 Reasons Star Wars Actually Sucks

George Lucas Confirms It: The Star Wars We Loved Never Existed

Are Star Wars, Hunger Games and Pride and Prejudice Anti-Cult Cult Movies?

When Boomer Culture Finishes Its Suicide, What Will Rise Next?

Scientific Proof of Life After Death?

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The Judge Dredd Guide to Parenting

Monday, October 1st, 2012 - by Duane Lester

In Mega-City One, there is one constant: Judge Joseph Dredd.

Cloned from the first chief judge, Eustace Fargo, Dredd’s growth was artificially accelerated. After his brain was electronically implanted with all the appropriate information he would need, he was “born” at age five, just in time to enter the Academy of Law.

Called the toughest school on Earth, it takes fifteen years to make it through the Academy. Judge Dredd was fast-tracked.

He made it through in thirteen.

He is by far the most famous street judge in Mega-City One, known for his unshakable devotion to the law and the swift and brutal punishment he brings to anyone who violates it.

What can he teach us about being a good parent?

I can think of five things.

Photo Credit:  Boyce Duprey

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Superman and Wonder Woman: The New DC Comics Power Couple

Saturday, August 25th, 2012 - by PJ Lifestyle Romance

When Walter Hudson wrote about the new Superman movie he argued against a Lois Lane/Superman romance. But what about this?

via Superman and Wonder Woman are the Biggest Couple in Comics | Geekosystem.

For years, they’ve been dancing around it. Hiding their feelings. Calling it impractical. In 2012, Superman and Wonder Woman have stopped pretending, and are now the most super superhero couple in the DC universe. Starting in next week’s issue of Justice League, Superman and Wonder Woman will hook up and start dating.

The cover of the issue, Justice League #12, was revealed earlier this week in Entertainment Weekly, showing the couple’s ability to get high around each other. Do you think they’d notice if they flew into a bird, or a plane maybe?

Some of you may be asking; “but where’s Lois Lane?” If you aren’t a modern DC fan, then let’s fill you in: DC recently rebooted their entire comic universe. Dubbed “The New 52,” every modern franchise has been restarted, starting with issue #1. In Superman’s new reality, Clark Kent and Lois Lane aren’t married. She has a new boyfriend now… His name is Jonathan.

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Related at PJ Lifestyle on comics and relationships:

The Teaser Trailer for Superman Reboot Man of Steel

6 Punches Director Zack Snyder Must Land in Man of Steel

5 Myths That Will Destroy Your Marriage

10 Guaranteed Methods To Lose a Man, as Seen on The Bachelor

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VIDEO: Fan Makes Working Model of SHIELD Helicarrier from The Avengers

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012 - by Duane Lester

You know you want one:

Hat Tip: Super Hero Hype

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See more from Duane on superheroes at PJ Lifestyle:

‘Who Is Thanos?’ And 10 More Post-Avengers Comic Book Movie Rumors

Which of the 5 Avengers Prequels Is the Best?

The 10 Worst Comic Book Movie Casting Blunders (And 5 That Nailed It)

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The Dark Knight of the Sowell

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012 - by Ed Driscoll

On Sunday, Nina and I finally caught The Dark Knight Rises. We both enjoyed it*, but with a nearly three-hour running time, I felt sort of numb afterwards, finding newfound respect for the terse minimalist Jack Webb police procedural-like feel of the half-hour Adam West Batman series from the 1960s.

OK, just kidding. But still, two hours and 44 minutes is way too long for anything that wasn’t directed by David Lean.

Speaking of which, at the Corner, Michael Walsh, linking to Andrew Klavan’s review in the Wall Street Journal, sees a Dr. Zhivago-esque subtext to the movie, which is obsessed with the dangers of revolution:

[I]f insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, what are we to make of every murderous Regressive movement from the French Revolution to the October Revolution to Mao and Pol Pot? All of them began in resentment and ended in oceans of blood. In fact, one of the worst things about being a Regressive is having to ride the tiger that eventually eats all of them. In Dr. Zhivago, the idealistic Pasha becomes the feared zealot Strelnikov who in turn becomes another of Stalin’s statistics. In this Batman installment, Bane’s raging Id and his secret controller’s lust for revenge are both defeated by heroes who understand where the truth lies.

In a spoiler-filled round-up at Big Hollywood, Ben Shapiro dubs The Dark Knight Rises, “Magnificent … And Most Conservative Film Ever.”

Most conservative film ever? Well…

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VIDEO: Deleted Scene From The Avengers

Monday, August 20th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

In this deleted scene, Bruce Banner chats with a security officer about the depth of his character.

Spinoff Online writes:

The clip expands on the sequence in which the Hulk plummets from the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier into an old factory, and Banner awakens amid a pile of rubble to be greeted by an unfazed security guard (played by veteran character actor Harry Dean Stanton). The expanded scene finds Ruffalo’s character struggling with whether to return to the fight to save the planet, and with his nature: Is he, as Stanton asks, “a big guy that gets all little, or a little guy that sometimes blows up large”?

Here’s the clip:

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The Avengers comes out on Blu-Ray September 25. I’m sure it will have more deleted scenes like this.

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More from Duane on superheroes at PJ Lifestyle:

‘Who Is Thanos?’ And 10 More Post-Avengers Comic Book Movie Rumors

Which of the 5 Avengers Prequels Is the Best?

The 10 Worst Comic Book Movie Casting Blunders (And 5 That Nailed It)

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The Dark Knight Comes to Life

Thursday, August 9th, 2012 - by Bosch Fawstin

Without The Dark Knight Returns there would be no Dark Knight film trilogy.

The Dark Knight Returns is Frank Miller’s great comic book series from 1986, featuring a 55-year-old Bruce Wayne who breaks his vow to never again put on the cape and cowl after a ten-year absence. Here’s what Jonathan Nolan, brother of Christopher Nolan and co-screenwriter of the Dark Knight films, had to say about it:

For my 13th birthday, Chris buys me a copy of The Dark Knight Returns. This isn’t a comic book — it’s a tear in the space-time continuum, a grime-caked lens through which you can glimpse an entire alternate universe. I don’t know if I should put it on my bookshelf or bury it in the back yard, like a radioactive ember.

I know exactly how he feels. If there was one comic book that led to my becoming a cartoonist — my latest comic book was just reviewed here at PJ Media — it was The Dark Knight Returns. And Miller’s portrayal of The Joker in the book defined the character for me, showing him to be the mass-murdering psychopath that was only hinted at in previous stories.

When we meet The Joker in the story, he’s basically catatonic in Arkham Asylum, that is, until news hits that Batman’s returned. Then in The Dark Knight the late Heath Ledger brought that character to life in a performance so strong that his version of The Joker still has the Internet currently asking and answering the question, “What’s The Joker doing during The Dark Knight Rises?” I’ve read and heard a number of theories, and if The Joker were to have a cameo in the film, here’s what I think would be a good one.

Next: I take a look at the ending of The Dark Knight and why nothing good can be built on a lie.

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The Sex Bots Have Arrived

Monday, August 6th, 2012 - by Dave Swindle

Last month Dr. Helen blogged about the development of sex-robots.

Now Susannah Breslin — the most talented journalist writing about pornography today — has a fascinating report on an industry in transformation.

Via The Porn Convention – Forbes:

Fixx is the market research manager for the Adult Entertainment Broadcast Network, an online adult company that bills itself on its website as “THE #1 ADULT VIDEO ON DEMAND THEATER IN THE WORLD!” Among other properties, AEBN owns PornoTube, an X-rated YouTube, and xPeeps, an adult webcam site that encourages users to “xpose yourself.” It also produces the product Fixx is hawking.

I stick my finger into the rubbery, flesh-colored slit on the side of a plastic grey peanut the size of a very large loaf of bread. This is RealTouch, an “award-winning male masturbator” designed by a former NASA engineer that syncs with adult movies to simulate sex for the male with which it is interacting through your computer’s USB port. The device retails for $325, and the package includes 120 RealTouch VOD minutes, anti-bacterial cleaner, and a 90-day limited warranty.

More recently, the company has begun marketing the RealTouch JoyStick, the lingam to the RealTouch’s yoni, which is to say it looks like a dildo. Available only to adult webcam models at this time, the joystick serves as a remote control for the RealTouch device, enabling users in remote locations to have “True Internet Sex™!”

Per Fixx’s instruction, Savannah Steele, a busty blonde porn star in a lab coat, moves the joystick, and the mechanism tightens around my finger and increases speed.

“It feels like having sex with a robot,” I announce. I extract my finger and wipe it off with a wet wipe from the box on the table.

Earlier this year I reviewed Doug Rushkoff’s graphic novel A.D.D Adolescent Demo Division. The sci-fi vision of a near-future with hyper media-savvy youth. He predicted this development and also the response many Millennials will have:

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The 5 Most Politically Incorrect Ideas Smuggled into The Dark Knight Rises

Friday, August 3rd, 2012 - by John Boot

After The Dark Knight, we already knew Batman was a Republican. In The Dark Knight Rises, this son of privilege who made a fortune in his own right stands up for free enterprise and individualism against the collectivist demagogues who stir up class warfare and vilify the wealthy. That’s right —  this time he’s BatMitt.

Here are the political takeaways from The Dark Knight Rises:

5. Bane is not Bain.

Rush Limbaugh, who apparently hadn’t seen the new movie, initially wondered, “Do you think that it is an accident?” that the movie’s lead evildoer is named Bane in a summer of chatter about Mitt Romney’s former outfit Bain Capital.

But not only is the bad guy’s name a coincidence (it dates back to 1993), Bane is the opposite of Bain. The villain plots to destroy Bruce Wayne by attacking the Gotham Stock Exchange, then launches a Marxist revolution in which the lower orders strike down the financiers and the “oppressive” bourgeoisie. Bane even empties the prisons, though to his credit he doesn’t do what the Democratic Party would, which is to guide the mob to the nearest polling place and forbid anyone to check their IDs.

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6 Punches Director Zack Snyder Must Land in Man of Steel

Monday, July 30th, 2012 - by Walter Hudson

In the 2004 film Finding Neverland, playwright J.M. Barrie is depicted seeding orphaned children throughout the opening-night audience of Peter Pan. He does this to break the ice for the surrounding adults, gambling that the children’s earnest reactions will suspend disbelief in grown-ups.

I was reminded of Barrie’s strategy upon watching the teaser trailer for Man of Steel, which was attached to the recent release of The Dark Knight Rises. For those not expecting it, the teaser plays its subject close to the chest. Shots of rural America are interposed with footage of a black-bearded, blue-eyed migrant worker hitching rides between jobs. Visually, all is ordinary, even a bit mundane. Only the voice-over hints at something special about this man. In the version I saw (there are two making the rounds), Kevin Costner speaks of a moral choice ahead and states that this man, his son, will undoubtedly change the world.

It is only after that subdued montage, when our interest is piqued regarding how this seemingly ordinary person could change anything, that we get a brief glimpse of something up in the sky, a caped figure propelled without effort, zipping through the clouds at such speed that he leaves behind a sonic boom. Then, we behold the iconic S shield.

It was at that moment during my viewing that a young child among the audience gasped and cheered.

Superman!

I doubt he was a J.M. Barrie plant, but the moment played as he would have intended. The whole audience took that kid’s glee as permission to get excited. After the Dark Knight legend ends, the Man of Steel’s begins.

The grounded portrayal evident in the teaser offers hope that this on-screen iteration of Superman will depart significantly from the increasingly cartoonish super-powered soap operas of the past thirty years. Lending credence to that hope is a familiar creative team. Christopher Nolan, who directed the Dark Knight trilogy, is producing Man of Steel. He also came up with the story, which was put to script by Dark Knight scribe David S. Goyer. Direction is provided by Watchman and 300 auteur Zach Snyder.

Assuming Nolan can tame Snyder’s often chaotic visual style, it seems likely that Man of Steel will revitalize the Superman mythos for a generation that’s never been properly introduced. Sure, there was Superman Returns a couple years ago, and the adventures of a young Clark Kent in television’s Smallville. But neither of those efforts effectively captured the essence of the character or his world.

Those of us with young children today grew up with the films of the late ’70s and ’80s. For us, Superman was and shall in spirit remain Christopher Reeve. The earnest humanity he brought to Clark Kent was eclipsed only by his steadfast portrayal of Superman.

Richard Donnor, director of the 1978 original, famously sought verisimilitude.

You will believe a man can fly.

So read the teaser poster. And we did believe. The film is still regarded as one of the best in the genre. But it was not without flaws, and things have slid downhill since.

Superman II was only partially shot by Donnor. It was finished by and credited to Richard Lester, who added heavy camp reminiscent of super hero parodies like the ’60s Batman television series. Though much of Donnor’s verisimilitude endured in the final cut, it was wholly absent from the absurd entries which followed. Reeve remained impeccable as Superman, but could not overcome his increasingly ludicrous surroundings.

After Donnor and Reeve, Kent and his alter-ego retreated to the small screen in various iterations until 2006’s Superman Returns. Coming off the success of the X-Men franchise, and in light of vocal reverence for Richard Donnor, it seemed the Superman property was in good hands under director Bryan Singer. Alas, what emerged in theaters was a super disappointment for reasons we shall explore.

In order to set things right, and restore Superman’s verisimilitude, there are several things next year’s reboot must do. The fact that Nolan and company are proceeding as though no previous films exist provides an opportunity to recast the godfather of all superheroes in an image long lost. Here are six punches director Zach Snyder must land in Man of Steel.

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10 Badass Moments from Bosch Fawstin’s The Infidel #2

Sunday, July 15th, 2012 - by Dave Swindle

With David Forsmark’s popular article earlier this month on the 7 Most Badass Founding Fathers, there seems to be some confusion about what it means to be “badass.” Some thought such a word inappropriate or even childish in reference to the very serious military leaders, politicians, and political theorists of the founding era.

It’s time to rescue “badass” from his mysterious origins, dust him off, and send him out onto the main stage where he belongs, as one of pop culture’s best imaginative metaphors for masculine bravado. This is a tool advocates of traditional, classical liberal values should grasp and take with them as they go forth fixing our broken culture.

The concept forever embedded itself within Generation X and Millennial pop cultural consciousness through the most badass character of 1990s cinema: Jules Winfield, as performed by Samuel L. Jackson and created by writers Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary. The famous “burger scene” in which Jules combines witty lines, tough confidence, and smooth intellectualism (a fictionalized Ezekiel 25:17) before dispensing justice crystallizes the concept. Brains + Brawn + Controlled Emotion = the tools to accomplish one’s mission.

The Badass doesn’t just talk, feel, and think — he combines all three to then create and do. (Hence why the founders in creating our nation were uniquely badass.) Defining manly cool in this fashion has been the task of Generation X’s men for the last 20 years. And we see it across genres, mediums, and even in real life.

Tarantino collaborator and fellow Gen X-er Robert Rodriguez has further helped define the badass in the action genre. The nameless Mariachi in Desperado played by Antonio Banderas captures it in this memorable action sequence where one man overcomes an entire bar full of thugs:

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Rodriguez’s Sin City, adapting artist Frank Miller’s graphic novel series, also offers a good definition of the Badass persona:

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But Generation X Badass isn’t limited to pop culture and fantasy.

Megan Fox wrote about a recent real-life example of a Generation X Badass last weekend when Wayne Brady responded to Bill Maher complaining that Obama resembled him instead of the criminal Suge Knight:

“So, that means it’s a diss to Obama to be called me because he wants a brother-brother, or what he perceives. Just because you f*** black hookers, just because you have that particular black experience….

“Now, I’m not saying I’m Billy Badass, but if Bill Maher has his perception of what’s black wrapped up, I would gladly slap the sh** out of Bill Maher in the middle of the street, and then I want to see what Bill Maher would do.”

“Now, Bill Maher would call the cops and he would have his lawyer — I’d get sued and lose my house and it’s not worth it for me,” he continued. “But the black man part of me would be so satisfied to slap the shit out of him in front of Cocoa and Ebony and Fox, the three ladies of the night that he has hired … and Fancy, who also happened to be named Tyrique at one point.”

Confronting bullies like Maher is central to being a badass. And doing it by cutting to the core — identifying Maher’s own personal racial hypocrisy — is badass.

In the political realm, one man forever defined Generation X Badass:

As Andrew Breitbart was to cultural Marxism with New Media, my friend Bosch Fawstin is to the stealth jihadists with his chosen medium of graphic art. The second issue of his long-awaited The Infidel is now on sale as digital download for $3.00 here. The first issue is available here.

The Infidel tells the story of twin brothers Sal and Killian Duke who respond very differently to the mass murders of 9/11. One of them, untroubled by the religious motivations of the killers, reaffirms his commitment to Islam. The other, Killian, completes his rejection of his family’s faith by pledging to use his artistic talents to create an anti-jihad comic hero named Pigman.

The Infidel obviously draws from the author’s own life. Bosch is an ex-Muslim and an Objectivist. And he employs a comic technique utilized by other graphic novel auteurs. Just as Grant Morrison made King Mob of The Invisibles resemble himself, Warren Ellis’s Spider Jerusalem of Transmetropolitan mirrored his creator, and Neil Gaiman cast the The Sandman‘s brooding Lord Morpheus as his avatar, Bosch has created his digital doppelgänger in Killian.

I wonder: Is Bosch drawing a character based on himself or is he introducing the world to the fictional character idealization that he strives to be? (Deep down aren’t we all just trying to play a fictional character version of ourselves?)

I won’t spoil the plot — or reveal the provocative cliff-hanger that concludes this installment. Instead, for this collection of some of my favorite excerpts from The Infidel #2 I’ve replicated the style of my review of Dennis Prager’s Still the Best Hope, juxtaposing images and embedded videos along with an observation about how Bosch’s work relates to the concept of the badass.

In preparing to engage with Bosch’s world, a good place to start is this panel from Table for One, his first graphic novel about an individualist waiter making his way in the treacherous, superficial world of fine dining:

Abandon hope all ye moral relativists who enter Bosch Fawstin’s world here…

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Do We Really Need Another Spider-Man Movie?

Saturday, June 30th, 2012 - by John Boot
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The Amazing Spider-Man is amazingly similar to 2002’s Spider-Man. But it’s a perfectly enjoyable and competent summer blockbuster, and though I’d estimate about two-thirds of this film’s DNA comes from the earlier one, it’s fun to notice the small differences between the two Spideys.

This time it’s UK-bred actor Andrew Garfield (whose American accent is, as far as I could tell, flawless) who plays high school loser Peter Parker, a dorky photographer constantly bullied by cooler classmates but who attracts the notice of pretty Gwen Stacy (The Help star Emma Stone, blonde this time). Peter pursues the unfinished genetic experiments of his scientist father (Campbell Scott), who disappeared one night and left him in the permanent care of his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen, slightly overdoing the doddering act) and Aunt May (Sally Field). Those experiments take Peter to the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (veteran Brit actor Rhys Ifans, still best known for playing Hugh Grant’s wacky roommate in Notting Hill), where, in one of the film’s many groan-inducing coincidences, Gwen also works. Despite heavy security at the super-secret lab, Peter sneaks into the unguarded inner sanctum where he learns more about experiments meant to regrow human limbs — Dr. Connors is missing an arm. It’s here that he’s bitten by a genetically altered spider.

The usual sequences of discovery of super-powers follow, and there’s even a scene with Peter getting the idea of wearing a costume from accidentally falling into a wrestling ring that features masked combatants. But to me Spidey 2.0 is more interesting than the likeable goody-goody played by the mild Tobey Maguire. First, Peter Parker has been picked on for a long time, and turning the tables on his tormentors gives him a license to act like a jerk himself for a while, for instance in a scene with the bully Flash (Chris Zylka) on a basketball court, where Parker’s arachnid grip and reflexes are simply used to humiliate the other boy. Peter is even unforgivably rude to his guardians. Making Peter less sweet and innocent makes him seem more human and real, and I think we’ve all seen that teens are fully capable of being arrogant and obnoxious.

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A Disappointing Marvel Panel At San Diego Comic Con Announced

Thursday, June 28th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

The San Diego Comic Con is scheduled for the middle of July. Today, Marvel Studios announced its panel for the event:

Marvel Studios: Saturday, July 14th 6:00pm – 7:00pm (Hall H) – Marvel Studios presents Iron Man 3. Join Producer Kevin Feige and special guests as they provide an inside look at the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures: Thursday, July 12th 2:05pm – 3:05pm (Hall H) – A Q&A panel featuring the imaginative director of Frankenweenie, Tim Burton; A special look at the world of Oz The Great and Powerful with director Sam Raimi; the illustrious voice cast of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Wreck-It Ralph, including John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman and director Rich Moore.

I’m guessing Robert Downey, Jr. will be present for the panel. I’d also expect some details on the upcoming Thor and Captain America sequels.

But overall, doesn’t it seem a bit, well, underwhelming? After all, they have some other movies in the works besides Iron Man 3.

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New Judge Dredd Trailer Looks Like They Got It Right This Time

Monday, June 25th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

I was not a fan of Sylvester Stallone as Judge Dredd.

But it looks like they’re on the right track with this new adaptation:

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“Momma’s not the law. I am the law.”

I got goosebumps. Yeah, I’m that big a geek.

Word is he never takes off his helmet. That’s awesome. So true to the comic.

This one looks good.

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The New Dark Knight Rises Trailer

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

This new trailer for the Dark Knight Rises makes me want to create a fund where people can contribute money to keep Christopher Nolan happy making Batman movies. I don’t want this to be the last one:

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This looks fantastic. I can’t wait.

Hat Tip: Spinoff Online

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Mixed Reviews on Alan Moore-Unapproved Prequel Before Watchmen

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012 - by Duane Lester

Some recent previews for DC’s Before Watchmen have me wondering if it will be able to rise above the controversy.

Controversy?

No surprise, it seems Alan Moore disapproves of the idea of a prequel:

“I don’t think it’s going to work. From what I hear, there’s a certain degree of comic creators’ hostility and negative feedback posting on entertainment sites. Some people are writing petitions. I would have never have asked any of the readers to do that, but I’m genuinely grateful. It’s not a kind of reaction I can ever remember from a readership before. I would have thought, from a DC perspective, that’s it’s a lose-lose perspective, unless they did something better or as good as ‘Watchmen.’ But realistically, that’s not going to happen, otherwise it would have happened before.”

Some have looked at the first book with mixed reactions. At the A.V. Club, Oliver Sava thinks the book’s quality might be enough to make people who were once against it, go ahead and read it:

That sense of dread permeates the story, highlighted by the contrast between the bold superhero action depicted on-panel and the ill omens of Hollis’ narration. The final shot of Nelson “Captain Metropolis” Gardner smoking a stogie in a bubble bath is accompanied by the caption, “Some would say we’ve been paying for those benefits ever since.” Everything is about to fall apart for these characters, and I can’t wait to see how it all comes tumbling down. Minutemen #1 feels like DC’s first major effort to create a piece of art in its post-New 52 climate, and it’s unfortunate that the behind-the-scenes politics will prevent a lot of people from checking out this stunning new work from one of the industry’s best.

However, The Huffington Post’s Scott Thill doesn’t seem to be a fan:

As Before Watchmen‘s opener, the first issue of Minutemen seems instructive. After its initial head-fake, it problematically stays uneven, and already boasts sloppy continuity. Cooke’s throwback style and racial epithets well evoke the period, but his breakneck race through the The Minutemen’s back story and costumed roster leaves him little room for more than truncated introduction. Its scattered pace and sensibility is the diametric opposite of Moore and Gibbon’s patient original, although it continues to wax poetic about The Minutemen’s individual characters.

I have no skin in this game, nor have I seen the book yet. And I don’t know of a project that Alan Moore has even remotely been associated with where he’s said, “Oh yes.  I’m very happy with this.  It’s a slice of fried gold.”

As long as a comic has a solid story and some good visuals and I’ll be content.

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John Carter and The Master of Adventure

Monday, June 4th, 2012 - by Mark Tapson

Cover by the great Frank Frazetta

After weathering mixed reviews and relatively tepid domestic earnings ($72 million) earlier this year, the science fiction adventure epic John Carter was written off as a box office calamity of Waterworld-sized proportions.

John Carter’s box office “failure” has been blamed mostly on ineffective marketing, notably a movie trailer which neglected to establish a connection with Burroughs or make viewers aware of the film’s historic background and seminal influence – a problem that might have been avoided if Disney had run with this inspired fan trailer instead.

But the movie’s unabashed heroic romanticism began resonating with review-proof fans worldwide (where it has earned $200+ million) and reviving the flick’s financial pulse. Now JC is set to release on DVD this week, and will likely do brisk business. Perhaps it will also introduce more fans to John Carter’s creator, one of the most prolific, imaginative novelists of the 20th century – or any century, for that matter: Edgar Rice Burroughs.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Burroughs’ first novel, A Princess of Mars, the book upon which John Carter is largely based. Burroughs, or ERB, is more familiar to many as the creator of Tarzan of the Apes, one of the most recognizable and enduring figures in pop culture history. Born in 1875 in the wake of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, ERB has been called by many the father of American science fiction. His 60+ novels, ripping tales of high adventure set everywhere from the earth’s core to the African veldt to the jungles of Venus, served as inspiration for countless writers and scientists from Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury to Carl Sagan and Jane Goodall.

ERB’s work – novels like The Land that Time Forgot, The Moon Maid, Pirates of Venus, At the Earth’s Core, Beyond Thirty, and The Warlord of Mars – gave life to the pulp fiction genre; my boyhood friend and fellow fan Stephan Allsup points out, for example, that without Tarzan and John Carter, there probably would have been no Conan the Barbarian or Doc Savage. Tarzan was also the pioneer of the comic book superhero; his comic strip was introduced in 1929, tying with Buck Rogers as the first “serious” adventure strip (prior to that, comics were largely limited to funnies like the Katzenjammer Kids). It served as inspiration for The Phantom and later, Superman and Batman.

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DC Brings Original Green Lantern Out of the Closet

Friday, June 1st, 2012 - by Duane Lester

You can stop wondering.

The character DC intends to bring out of the closet is the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott:

The original Green Lantern – a DC Comics’ mainstay for the past 70 years – will be revealed to be a gay man in next week’s issue of “Earth 2.”

Alan Scott – formerly a married father of two who first appeared in 1940 – tips readers off to his sexuality early on in the comic when he gives his boyfriend a welcome home kiss.

“He’s very much the character he was. He’s still the pinnacle of bravery and idealism. He’s also gay,” “Earth 2″ writer James Robinson told The Post.

The Emerald Guardian’s sexuality was rebooted along with the rest of his fictional universe as part of DC’s “New 52″ initiative aimed at rejuvenating their characters.

Robinson said he decided to make the change because making the character young again meant erasing Scott’s gay superhero son out of existence.

Yep. I’m sure that was why.

No political agenda, just the obvious choice.

While a gay wedding in Archie Comics earlier this year and impending same-sex nuptials in a Marvel X-Men comic have recieved a small amount of backlash from angry parents, Robinson said he’s not worried about that because “that kind of negativity is stupid and outmoded.”

“We should be preaching love and tolerance,” he said.

That’s odd. I thought, as comic book writers and artists, you would be focused on making awesome story arcs with killer visuals.

Nope. Comics are for preaching love and tolerance.

I think I need to go re-read my Punisher comics. Clearly I missed something.

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Spy Photos of The Iron Patriot Armor from Iron Man 3

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 - by Dave Swindle

via Ain’t It Cool News. More images at The Superficial here.

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