Thursday, May 31, 2007

A Better Criminal

I've been digging Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips since the first issue. The second story arc [Criminal #6] has just started and it looks to be even better than the first! Since it has new characters and a new story, it's the perfect jumping on point! Tracy Lawless is ex-military and AWOL. Already prone to violence, Lawless is after his brother's killers and nothing is going to stop him from getting his revenge.

Brubaker and Phillips are responsible for one of the best comics published today and I can't recommend it strongly enough to mature readers [due to the language and violence -- you can probably tell that I edited out some language in one of the panels above].

Criminal #6 rates an A+

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Captured by The Cloak

My buddy, Bill Black, CCABW [Chief Cook and Bottle Washer] at AC Comics has decided to take the plunge and regularly produce movies based on his comic book characters. Bill has jumped in with both feet and fan reaction has been extremely positive. Bill is currently finishing production on The Blue Bulleteer: Captured by The Cloak. You can learn more about it HERE.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Zombie Pets?

Zombies are a popular genre here at the ZONE. Still, I'm not totally sold on "Fido" yet. I did enjoy "Shaun of the Dead" so maybe "Fido" will work. The jury is out. Watch the trailer and let me know your thoughts.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Lost is Found

This weekend my wife and I caught up on our "Lost" viewing... 5 episodes and the two hour season finale. It was a great way to end the season... some questions answered and new mysteries created. We're excited about the show now that it's found its way again. Too bad it's such a long wait until it returns, but it is good news that they are now working towards a definite ending.

Here's a great page that summarizes the season, shows character connections, tallies up the deaths, and poses questions left unanswered.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Rampage Melts the Iceman

UFC 71 was an exciting card with more than a couple of upsets. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson kept his undefeated streak against Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell intact by scoring a first round TKO. Rampage was the aggressor throughout the round with both men willing to trade blows. Rampage landed a shot on the button and Chuck went down with Rampage right on him raining blows. The fight was stopped and rightly so. Rampage is the new UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. I was also looking forward to the fight between Karo Parisyan and Josh Burkman. I figured that Karo would win and he did fairly easily. Karo is a tough guy who irritates the crowd with his cockiness. I'd love to see him in a rematch against Diego Sanchez or perhaps even a title shot. The biggest surprise of the night was in the Houston Alexander / Keith Jardine fight. I figured Jardine would win fairly easily and that looked to be the case... for about 30 seconds. Jardine moved in and immediately rocked Alexander. The fight looked to be over quickly and it was, right after Alexander came back with a punch that stunned Jardine! Alexander then swarmed Jardine throwing punches from all angles and a knee to boot. Jardine was down and out.

So the string of upsets continues. It started with Hughes losing his title to St. Pierre, Franklin losing to Sylvia, Sylvia [the heavyweight] losing to Couture, St. Pierre losing to Serra and tonight Liddell losing to Jackson. Jackson's next fight is against Dan Henderson. My guess is that Jackson will hope to be the underdog!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Rifleman

From time to time I enjoy surfing YouTube to see what gems I can find from my childhood. Today I present the opening to The Rifleman. Over 40 years later and it's still cool.

Raf @ Heroes

I just found out earlier this week that my buddy, Rafael Kayanan, will be a guest at this year's Heroes Con. I first met Raf about 30 years ago! He was just a kid wanting break in comics. Since then he's gone on a successful career in both the comic and film industry.

Raf's not only an extremely talented artist [as in creating artwork], but also a highly accomplished martial artist [as in can kick some butt]. In the comic field he's worked on everything from Conan to Star Wars. In the film industry he's done everything from storyboards and conceptual art to serving as technical adviser and fight choreographer on major films. You just know he's got some great stories.

Raf will be at a table next to Big John Beatty. You just know that this is going to be THE place to be. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Iceman vs Liddell

Chuck Liddell, the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion has only lost three times in his career. He has avenged two of those losses and hopes to do it again this Saturday night when he takes on Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. The last time these two met, Jackson won fairly easily with a TKO in round 2. I wouldn't be surprised if the fight ends in much the same manner as before... only this time with Liddell getting the victory!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Zombie Survival Guide

Most ZONErs have a love for the zombie genre. We dig all things Romero. We can't wait for each new issue of The Walking Dead. We knew about Zack Snyder [he directed the Dawn of the Dead re-make] way before 300. If you fall into this category [emphasis on gory], then you may want to check out The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead by Max Brooks.

I say you may want to check it out because, unlike his highly recommended World War Z, the Zombie Survival Guide is just that... a survival guide. Where World War Z focused on well written stories of survival in a world of zombies, the Survival Guide is what it claims to be... a manual. There's no doubt that it's a cool idea. Brooks should be commended for creating a fun handbook for zombie fanatics. The guide is a well thought out and entertaining... manual.

I think that fans of the genre are going to really enjoy the ZSG, but I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking that it's a prequel to Brook's highly rated World War Z or even a novel about zombies. It's survival guide... a manual.

The Zombie Survival Guide rates a C+.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Autos from Alex

One of the cool things about the internet is that it allows people who would otherwise never meet to become "friends." Let me give you an example.

Alex is from Belgium and regularly visits the StalloneZone and my blog here. Alex sent me a surprise "snail mail" package. In it were three autographed photos:

  1. Laura Harring is an actress who played in seven episodes of "The Shield" as well as a ton of other stuff
  2. DJ Caruso directed four episodes of "The Shield" as well as one of my favorite movies, "The Salton Sea" as well as many other tv shows and feature films
  3. Actor, singer and songwriter Kris Kristofferson co-starred with Sly in "Eye See You," Mel Gibson in "Payback"
Alex sent these items to me out of pure kindness... all the way from Belgium. I've never met Alex, but only a friend would be so nice... thanks to the internet. And a bigger thanks to Alex!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sunday, May 20, 2007

John Rambo Trailer Premieres

I seldom overlap StalloneZone and ZONE posts. This is just cool too not to:

Ain't It Cool News scored 3 minutes and 29 seconds of premiere footage of "John Rambo." Although it is amazing... it is exciting... it is NOT for all ages. Sly assembled the footage to show overseas distributors.

Click HERE or HERE to see it. Big props to Harry at Ain't It Cool News for getting the ball rolling!

It's a great time to be a Stallone fan! - Craig

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Animal Factory Quinella

Ron Decker was on top of the world. Barely old enough to be considered an adult, yet he had it all -- money, cars, a woman, and a thriving drug business. Thriving that it until he was busted. Suddenly it was all gone. What didn't go to his lawyers was taken by his girl and soon enough she was gone too.

Decker ends up in San Quentin where he's got a shot at getting out in two years if he can stay out of trouble. Trouble is, he's young and not built for prison. Now he's surrounded by hardened cons who can't be trusted. A race war is brewing and Decker realizes that he's in way over his head. When a powerful older con offers his friendship, Decker isn't sure how to react. One wrong move and his two year stint will become a death sentence.

Animal Factory was written by real-life ex-con Eddie Bunker who not only wrote several critically acclaimed books [No Beast So Fierce and Education of a Felon, to name two], but also had a career as an actor.[probably best known for his role as Mr. Blue in Reservoir Dogs].

Interestingly enough, the book was also made into a movie starring Edward Furlong, Willem Dafoe, Danny Trejo, Mickey Rourke and Eddie Bunker and directed by Steve Buscemi.

Animal Factory the book rates a B
Animal Factory the movie rates a C+

Friday, May 18, 2007

"28 weeks later" Rates...

I loved "28 days later." So when "28 weeks later" was announced, along with the fact that the original writer [Alex Garland], the original director [Danny Boyle] and the original cast were not returning, I felt we might be in for a letdown.

"28 weeks later" has an ambitious screenplay by Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Jesus Olmo and Enrique Lopez Lavigne. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo takes the director's chair and does an admirable job of retaining the feel and style of the original. Robert Carlyle [who is always good] is the biggest name actor in the new cast although many will recognize Harold Perrineau, from "Lost" in a small but important role.

Spoilers will follow...

The movie opens with perhaps the best scenes in the film. A band of survivors [including a husband and wife who hope that their children are still alive] have barricaded themselves in a remote farm house. As they settle down for dinner, it is obvious that their situation is wearing them down. When a child is heard yelling to be let in the house, the theme of the movie comes into play... who/how many will you sacrifice to save yourself? There's hesitation, but they let the boy in and soon enough all of the "infected" that were chasing the boy, are breaking into the house. They succeed and the survivors run and fight for their lives. A horrible moment occurs when the husband makes it to the window and his wife hesitates so that she can bring along the boy. A group of infected get between them and the husband is faced with a choice: try to save his wife and the boy or himself. He chooses to save himself. The last image that he sees as he runs from the farm house is of his wife being pulled from the window.

The husband makes his way to safety and is part of a group brought in to repopulate London. The virus is gone, and the military are everywhere insuring a quick end should it return. And return return it does...

The Good: "28 weeks" retains much of the feel of "28 days." Robert Carlyle. Jeremy Renner who almost steals the show in his role as Doyle. The way that the virus is brought back into play. The infection spreading through the crowded underground safe haven. No one is safe... no one! The potential for "28 months later!"

The Bad: The way that Robert Carlyle is always able to find the survivors who are on the run. The killing of Jeremy Renner's character.

The Ugly: The helicopter taking out "the infected" with it's blades and not crashing.

"28 weeks later" rates a "B"

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Black Cherry

Doug TenNapel created the Earthworm Jim video game and is the genius behind Nickelodeon’s Catscratch cartoon series. TenNapel has also written and illustrated five graphic novels. I've never play the video game, watched the tv show or read any of his graphic novels.

That's about to change.

TenNapel has a new graphic novel, Black Cherry, coming out in July. It's for mature audiences. You can read about it HERE and HERE. And, if so inclined, you can order it HERE.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Patching Things Up

My best bud, John Beatty has a post over at his blog that I think will interest most ZONErs. Big John presents storyboards that he's created for another of Wild Bill Black's low budget cheese-o-ramas. Not only has John done the storyboards, but he will also return in the film as the evil "Patch."

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

My buddy, Chad Hunt, just e-mailed to say: "AICN is reporting that Jericho will not be back next season. I call shenanigans on CBS. AAAARRRGGGH!" You can read the Variety report HERE.

Thanks to Chad for the tip and we join him in calling
shenanigans on CBS.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jason & Jet go to War

Jason Statham. Jet Li. Say no more and show me the trailer.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Survivor: My Dilemma

Last night's Survivor episode made Earl a millionaire, Dreamz a villain, and Yau-Man a hero. It's interesting that up until the finale, I hadn't really heard anyone talking about this season's Survivor. Sure, it was interesting watching Yau make just the right move at just the right time. Still, the season lacked anyone that you could REALLY root for or against.

Until last night that is. When Dreamz broke his promise to give Yau the immunity necklace, he sealed their fate and handed the million dollar prize to Earl. Yau was voted off the island. That left Dreamz [who everyone now cast in the role of Judas], Cassandra [who had no athletic or survival abilities other than laying low] and Earl [who everybody liked]. In fact, a poll of the jury proved that had Dreamz kept his word, Yau would have won the vote against Earl.

So... I've been struggling with my thoughts on Dreamz's decision to break his word. First left me say that I don't believe Dreamz when he says that his plan was to always keep the immunity if he won it. Dreamz struggled with his decision. In fact there were tears running down his face when he said he was keeping the immunity necklace. Had it been his plan all along to keep the immunity, he wouldn't have struggled with his decision. I believe that Dreamz had meant to give the immunity to Yau, but the chance at being one of three to win a million dollars was just too much.

So... here's my dilemma: knowing that it's a game where the idea is to outwit, outlast and outplay your opponents... was it wrong for Dreamz to keep the immunity? On one hand, I say, "Of course not. That's the nature of the game. People do it all the time." On the other mitt, I say, "But Dreamz promised to God on his children. Doesn't that take it a step deeper? Also Dreamz accepted a $60,000+ truck. Doesn't that make it a deal? Didn't these things make it more than just a promise made in a game??"

I'm not really sure how I feel other than to say:
  • 1] Yau-Man played the game better than any other player from any other season.

  • 2] If Yau couldn't win, I'm glad Earl did.

  • 3] I wish Dreamz had kept his word.

    4] I think that Dreamz is being untruthful when he says that he never planned to keep his deal... greed to hold of him.

    5] I think if you "promise to God on your children" you'd better stick to your word... even if you're playing a game.
Am I wrong?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Survivor Finale

The season finale of “Survivor Fiji” is on tonight. We're down to:
  • Kenward “Boo” Burns, 34, a construction worker from Lafayette, La. who has won the last two immunity challenges. Boo should be the next to go if he doesn't win immunity
  • Yau-Man Chan, 54, a computer engineer from Martinez, Calif. who has had the best strategies so far into the game. Yau-Man has become a fan favorite [as well as the one I hope wins it all] due to his kind heart, strategic planning and cunning moves
  • Earl Cole, 35, ad exec from Santa Monica, Calif. is Yau-Man's strongest alliance. Will Earl be as loyal as Yau?
  • Cassandra Franklin, 42, civil engineer manager from Los Angeles has been flying under the radar. She is the least athletic, and has gone far because she isn't a threat. She could be the biggest threat to Yau-Man because she [on the sly] provides Dreamz the support he needs
  • Andre “Dreamz” Herd, 25, cheerleading coach from Wilmington, N.C. Talk about a waffler. Dreamz switches alliances so often, he even has a hard time keeping track of what he's said to who.

I'm pulling for Yau-Man to win it all. If not Yau, then Earl or Boo. Cassandra and Dreams are just lucky to be around this late in the game.

Heroes Aren't Hard to Find

It's never to early to start talking up one of the best comic book convention's in the world! Heroes Con, in its 26th year, is stronger than ever. This year's guest list continues to grow. Despite the impressive size of the guest list, the show retains a small con feel. Due to a packed schedule of activities, there's something for everyone. The show is perfect for families [in fact, for years we've made Heroes a part of our family vacation]. If you have any interest in comics, art, or just having a great weekend, then you should come to the con!

Friday, May 11, 2007

You Are Here

Remember when I said that last week I'd ordered two graphic novels and told you how much I enjoyed Last of the Independents by Matt Fraction and Kieron Dwyer? Well, today I'm going to tell you about the second book, You Are Here by Kyle Baker that I enjoyed even more!

Noel Coleman thinks he's got it made. Coleman is in love with Helen; a beautiful, spiritual and sesitive animal lover. They've been together a year and Coleman is ready to settle down and marry her. There's just one catch. Coleman isn't the man he's led Helen to believe he is. Sure, he's a talented painter... but he's also criminal who's been on the run for a year. Hoping to leave his checkered past behind, Coleman goes back to New York City to sell his apartment so he can return to the country and live happily ever after with Helen.

You just know that ain't happenin'.

Shortly after arriving in New York, Coleman accidently meets up with his old crime partner, Oscar. Coleman and Oscar decide to hit some of their old haunts and Coleman learns that the cops and a homicidal maniac are still looking for him. Helen shows up to surprise Coleman and before you know it they're both running for their lives. The book ends with a fight to the death and a conclusion that you won't be expecting!

Kyle Baker's art is amazing. You Are Here is visually stunning. Baker's use of color and a storyboard panel design is to complete advantage. The story is full of humor and yet the book never loses it's pulp feel. It's a crazy combination that works. It's not a comedy, but there are comedic moments. It's not noir by the strictest definition, but it has that undercurrent. The art is cartoony but not in a bigfoot way. And you gotta love it that Robert Mitchum plays the homicidal maniac. I loved every page. You probably would too.

You Are Here rates an A+

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Zombies on a Plane!

You've heard of SNAKES ON A PLANE... so, how about ZOMBIES ON A PLANE?

LOL! Well, why not?

And you have to love the play on words: FLIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD aka PLANE DEAD.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Criminally Good

One of the best monthly comics being published today is CRIMINAL by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. The first story arc just finished up and is available in a trade paperback. The second arc, Lawless, is getting ready to hit the stands later this month. That's the cover above for part one.

If you're not reading Criminal, you should give it a look. Better yet, check out THIS INTERVIEW with Ed Brubaker and then watch for the new storyline to hit the stands on May 23rd.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Medium - Well Done

If you asked me what my current favorite shows are, Medium wouldn't be the first, second, or even third show that I'd mention. But it would make the list. Medium is one of my favorites. I DVR it each week and then my wife and I watch it whenever. Medium is always good for a storytelling twist and sometimes even a "scare" or two. It also features the most realistic family on television.

I'm pleased to post that NBC has given an early renewal to Medium. It'll return for a fourth season this the fall. NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly was quoted as saying, "'Medium' is a quality show with an outstanding star that has always delivered a very loyal audience. We are pleased to know that we can look forward to more of its unique storytelling next year."
Me too.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Last of the Independents

Last week I ordered two graphic novels that I have been meaning to get for literally years. The first, which I'll talk about today, is Last of the Independents by Matt Fraction and Kieron Dwyer.

I'd meant to purchase Last of the Independents when it was first published back in 2003. I just never got around to it. But when Christopher Mills posted a perfect 6 out of 6 review for it on his Guns in the Gutters blog, my interest was rekindled. Then in this month's issue of Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips [also worth picking up], Matt Fraction joined Charlie Huston and Greg Rucka [two of my favorite authors] in a discussion of 70's crime movies. [The issue is worth picking up just to read their thoughts on the subject.] At any rate, Fraction talks about getting his title Last of the Independents from the unused title for "Charley Varrick" [a 70's crime flick]. So I was sold and ordered Fraction and Dwyer's graphic novel.

Last of the Independents is Fraction's love letter to the creators and fans of the movie "Charley Varrick". Like in the movie, a middle aged guy and his crew knock off a small town bank only to discover it's mob money that they've stolen. There are other similarities, but never does this feel like anything more than a tip of the derby to a movie, a genre and an era that had an enormous impact on crime fiction fans. Fraction's story and script are first rate. He drops us in as the bank is being robbed and introduces us to the main characters quickly without wordy exposition. In fact, he often lets Kieron Dwyer's art tell the tale. Dwyer's art is perfect for the graphic novel. [I've been a fan of his work for some time and hope to someday see a piece by him in my Stallone Gallery.]

One final note, the graphic novel is presented in a "widescreen" format. I usually get annoyed by graphic novels that don't fit nicely on the book shelf. The publisher, AIT/Planet Lar, must have realized how picky collector's can be because this graphic novel comes with a vertical slipcover that makes it possible for it to be shelved on the bookcase with other "regular" graphic novels. Kudos for whoever worked out such a creative and simple solution.

Last of the Independents rates an "A".

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Happy, Happy to JBI

Yesterday I received an e-mail from my buddy, Wild Bill Black that several of Jim Ivey's friends were getting together to belatedly celebrate Jim's 82nd birthday. Although it was short notice, I worked it out so that I could get over and share in the festivities.

I first met Jim back in the mid-70's [the decade, not his age]. Jim was the owner of The Cartoon Museum in Orlando, Florida and the main man behind OrlandoCon. My buddy, John Beatty and I were still in high school, but would make the trek over to buy our comics and original art from Jim. Jim's shop was an amazing place. At the time there weren't many places that you could buy original art, but Jim's Cartoon Museum was wall to wall art. Kirby, Steranko, Barry Windsor-Smith, Paul Gulacy, John Buscema... and so much more. You never knew what you'd see or who you'd meet while at The Cartoon Museum. I can't begin to tell you how much time I spent there and I wouldn't trade one hour there for a day anywhere else. Beatty and I made the trek to Jim's at least once a week. Usually we'd end up playing cards but always having a great time no matter what we were doing. When I moved to Orlando to attend UCF, I'd go to the shop several times a week [my wife always knew where to find me]. We've stayed in touch over the years, but never as often as I'd like.

So today about 15 of us met to celebrate Jim's 82 birthday. Jim, true to form, had prepared cards for each of us [and true to form -- had enclosed a scratch off lottery ticket. Mine was good for a free ticket!]. Each of us had brought cards and gifts and a story or two for Jim. In fact, Jim looks shocked in the photo above... I hope it wasn't from something I said!

It was great seeing Jim again. It was also a lot of fun hanging with Wild Bill Black. Special props to "The AAB" for putting the plan in place. And once last shout out to Jim Ivey -- "Happy, happy, SIR!"

Friday, May 04, 2007


Anyone watching Jericho? I am, have been since the start, and enjoy it more with every passing week. Normally I would have made sure that the nuclear mushroom cloud was pictured in the logo above, but the show has grown less about the bombs than it is about just SURVIVING. With a great cast of characters and enough subplots to keep us interested, this is a show to watch.

The season finale is next Wednesday, and I can't wait. But if you haven't been watching it, perhaps you should. My guess is that they'll rerun all of the episodes this summer. You can get caught up and then be ready for the new season... which we all know started with a [big] bang!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Pike Takes the Lead

Robert Crais is one of my favorite authors. I've read [and enjoyed] all of his novels... and I'm proud to say that I've been with his sigature characters Elvis Cole and Joe Pike since their first appearance in The Monkey's Raincoat. In each previous novel, Cole was always center stage with Pike coming in to back-up his partner. Pike was the tough, no-nonsense hardened gunman. We knew little about him other than he had a strict code of honor, he was loyal and he never backed up.

With The Watchman, Crais turns the tables and gives Joe Pike center stage when he agrees to protect a young heiress who has become the target of a hit squad. Seems she was in the wrong place at the wrong time and now the US Government wants her as a witness and a terrorist wants her dead. Pike is more than up to the task of protecting her [especially with Elvis Cole backing him]. The book is fast paced and just as good as the previous novels featuring Cole and Pike. I just wonder if long time readers are going to like the way Crais has filled in some of the blanks about Pike's life. As for me, I can't wait for their next "case" -- no matter who is at center stage.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Guy Ritchie's Gamekeeper

I read Guy Ritchie's The Gamekeeper last night. Written by Andy Diggle with art by Mukesh Singh, and based on a concept by none other than [Madonna's husband and film director] Guy "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" Ritchie.

Ritchie isn't what caused me to pick up the comic though. I saw "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels" and thought it was okay, and have never seen "Snatch" or possibly any of Ritchie's other movies. [And NO, I didn't buy it because of the Madonna connection.] I did buy it because I enjoyed Diggle's work on The Losers and because the preview art looked pretty good.

In the opening issue nothing is as it first appears. A runaway shows up on a Scottish estate. He is taken to the owner of the estate, a kind older man, by the Checen groundskeeper [or should I say "Gamekeeper"]. Before the day is over the estate is attacked by several well-armed men. The runaway, the older man and the Gamekeeper are all more than what they seem at first glance. And that mystery is reason enough to come back for issue two.