The SkyI developed a love for art at a very young age, appreciating it on a different level than many of my peers. Do you remember as a kid you would flip through the instruction manual for your NES games like Final Fantasy or Legend of Zelda, and they had that FANTASTIC artwork of all the wondrous creatures you would be encountering on your adventure? And then, you pop in the game and each of these beautiful designs is depicted as a tiny, 8-bit red or blue splotch on the screen? Friends would ask me why they'd put so much effort into these drawings if the final product isn't going to resemble it in the slightest? For me, it helped paint the picture in my head of exactly what dangers I was facing. Sure, on screen they didn't look all that special, but those images from the booklet helped paint a picture for my young mind to conjure up heroes, princesses, and assorted baddies I'd meet during my travels.


These are the thoughts that came flooding back to me as I flipped through the pages of The Sky: The Art of Final Fantasy, a five-book collection showcasing the elegant and alluring artwork of Yoshitaka Amano through the first ten Final Fantasy games. Having been a Final Fantasy enthusiast since day one, I would latch onto anything FF-related I could get my grubby, little hands on. Freshman year of college I took advantage of the high-speed internet to download the FF games that had only been released in Japan.

 

Robots in Disguise 10The main storyline of Robots in Disguise – the reconstruction of Cybertron in the wake of the Great War – gets a vacation for a one-and-done story that continues the roaming saga of Optimus Prime and a handful of others.  In deep space, Prime pursues the truth behind a deadly plan hatched by the Decepticons’ greatest scientists, Shockwave and Jhiaxus.

Argo AffleckBen Affleck is a force to be reckoned with. Never in my twenty-eight years of life - not after Armaggeddon and certainly not after Gigli - did I think I'd ever write those ten words. But, with Argo, Affleck shows such a mastery of storytelling that I don't even want to point out some of the minor flaws lest it detract from just how well-made this picture is. This is a movie that has serious chops come awards season, and I wouldn't be surprised if Ben Affleck - he of Reindeer Games, mind you - gets not only a Best Director nod, but a Best Picture nomination, as well.

SPOILERS BELOW

 

Smoke and Mirrors TPBI can never tell if it’s a good thing or a bad thing if a comic is so engaging that I’m furious when it’s over.  Did the author do such a good job of creating narrative magic that I’m desperate for more, or did he entice me with just enough that I crave some promised resolution?  Smoke and Mirrors in its trade form gives a first-time reader an insatiable appetite for plot as it sucks you into a world driven by magic instead of science.  I can’t imagine how I would have felt reading this month to month, but I can tell you the trade is well . . . magical.

 

Haunted Horror 1Classic Golden Age Comic ghost stories at their best, Haunted Horrors is a beautiful collection of some wonderful, ghoulish tales hearkening back to the fifties!  These wonderful stories have me recalling my old Tales of the Crypt books, radio mysteries like The House on Cyprus Hill, and the black and white VHS tapes you only pull out before Halloween.  I love classics like this, and the chance to be able to read them now without having to sort through boxes and boxes of tattered floppies is great.

Chew 29So . . . er, okay, full disclosure: I’ve never read the comic Chew before, yet I find myself reviewing Issue #29, the fourth of a five-issue arc called "Space Cakes."  It is obviously not an ideal point to be jumping into a story, but I’ve heard so many amazing things about this comic that I decided I should just throw myself in.  Sink or swim.  And, after reading the penultimate issue of this arc . . . I’d say I’m dog paddling.

 

Not My BagFrom Sina Grace, artist of L'il Depressed Boy, Books with Pictures, and Cedric Hollow, comes a story about working retail, the baggage we carry, and moving forward through life.

 

Buffy 14This month brings the return of fan favorite Jane Espenson to the Buffy comic world. Fresh off her heroic success with the web series Husbands, Espenson has teamed with former Buffy writer Drew Z. Greenberg and Fray artist Karl Moline to once again push the boundaries of what it means to be a slayer.


SPOILERS BELOW

 

PrainborkGather round, children, and let me tell you the tale of a bygone era. A time before orange men with names like "Pauly D" and women who get their buttocks implanted to attract a mate at "da club." This was a much simpler time, when men wore their hair long and flannels ratty. A time when women wore their hair long and their flannels ratty. It was all very androgynous, but in a sexy "we are SO different because we dress the same" kind of way.  This was a time know as the '90s.


Why, you ask, do I bring up this desolate time before smartphones and the terror of a Penn State ravaged by the beast known as Sandusky? I recall that age of enlightenment, because the two bands reviewed today may have been sucked through a wormhole and planted in our time, a time of horrible music such as (Editor, please enter the name of a current crappy top '40s band; I stopped listening to commercial radio a long time ago). Listening to these bands made me yearn for the days of old. I automatically thought of the scene in Empire Records when a young Ethan Embry is cut short on his metal thrashing by a pre-Bridget Jones Renee Zellweger. What I refer to as "the good 'ol days."

 

FrankenweenieMaybe it was just me, but I was kind of getting tired of Tim Burton.


For the past 10 or 15 years, it seemed he was just making the same movie over and over again.  He kept regurgitating the same Burtonesque tropes to lesser positive effect.  Before you saw a single frame of a new Burton movie, there were a boatload of things of which you could be absolutely sure: the lead characters would be in silent movie makeup, the color scheme would be either totally desaturated or completely blown up like 1930s Technicolor, a bland version of suburbia might pop up, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter would show up and give performances that seemed increasingly undirected and detached from any recognizable human behavior, and Danny Elfman would provide a percussive musical score that sounded largely cribbed from every other score he’d written for Burton.  It was all very tired and predictable.  

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