Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.

“Hey, lady! You call him Dr. Jones!”

Indy may be getting older, but I still wouldn’t screw around with him. Thanks to Comic by Comic for the image.

And speaking of Dr. Jones: “The story is told in the Kebra Negast (Glory of the Kings), Ethiopia’s chronicle of its royal line: the Queen of Sheba, one of its first rulers, traveled to Jerusalem to partake of King Solomon’s wisdom; on her way home, she bore Solomon’s son, Menelik. Later Menelik went to visit his father, and on his return journey was accompanied by the firstborn sons of some Israelite nobles—who, unbeknown to Menelik, stole the ark and carried it with them to Ethiopia. When Menelik learned of the theft, he reasoned that since the ark’s frightful powers hadn’t destroyed his retinue, it must be God’s will that it remain with him.”

True story? Smithsonian Magazine‘s Paul Raffaele tries to find out. It’s true, as one commenter to the article put it, that Raffaele is “no Indiana Jones,” but it’s still a cool story full of mystic locales and secretive guardians. And this one definitely is true.

Never mind.

Yesterday, when I teased about the book questioning Jesse James’ DNA test, the reason I didn’t write about it then was that I was in a rush and didn’t have time to read the whole press release I’d saved. Now that I have, I recognize the book’s author as being one of a couple of folks claiming to be descendants of Jesse James. Everything you need to know about her and her case is in the link, but I’ve heard her story on one of those Jesse specials I mentioned yesterday and I’m skeptical. In spite of the fantasy we pose in Jesse James vs. Machine Gun Kelly, there’s no real evidence that leads me to believe that Jesse survived his encounter with Bob Ford’s gun.

Solomon Kane Poster

As much as I love Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories (and I so do), I’ve never tracked down his Solomon Kane stories because deep in my heart I don’t believe that anyone, not even Howard, could write stories cool enough to do justice to the idea of a wandering, Puritan monster-hunter.

I have to say though that the poster for the movie adaptation looks pretty damn cool. Sort of makes me want to read some Howard stories. (Thanks to Christopher Mills for the link).

Chuck picked up.

I’m pretty sure I watched the pilot episodes of every new show this season. Some shows never got a second viewing; others I dropped after checking out a few additional episodes. Without question, the best new show of the Fall has been NBC’s Chuck. It’s like they took Jim from The Office, turned him into a reluctant spy, and had the hottest, most butt-kickingest secret agent ever and Jayne from Firefly protect him. It’s funny, it’s action-packed, and it’s got a ton of heart. It’s also been picked up for a full season, which — assuming the WGA strike is resolved and they can actually create new episodes — is the best news I’ve heard all week.

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Assassination of Jesse James review, etc.

I finally saw The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford a couple of weeks ago, but I keep forgetting to write a review. My brother-in-law Dave and I agreed that it was basically a very pretty, well acted History Channel special. And I should know because I’ve been watching a lot of Jesse James specials lately on PBS and the History Channel and whatnot.

The Assassination of Jesse James doesn’t really add anything to them except that it’s got a much larger budget and some fancy movie stars. It’s more or less a straightforward, accurate depiction of the last part of Jesse’s life, complete with a History Channel-esque narrator. There’s nothing particularly revelatory about him unless your previous exposure to him has been limited to American Outlaws.

That’s not to say that it’s a worthless movie though. It actually plays pretty well if you see it as a movie about Bob Ford. It does a fairly nice job of getting inside poor Bob’s head and letting you experience with him the fear and paranoia that being in Jesse’s gang must have entailed. At least in the middle half it does.

The first half hour or so has one of the coolest, moodiest train robberies I’ve even seen in a movie, but other than that it’s just a bunch of look-how-crazy-Jesse-is and isn’t-Bob-a-socially-retarded-dweeb. Where the movie really picks up is once Jesse starts suspecting that his men are plotting against him. At that point, everyone’s on edge, including the audience. Unless you really know your Jesse history, you never can tell when he’s going to snap and kill off a pal next. It’s makes for some gripping movie-watching.

Unfortunately, the film never really explains why Bob decided to betray Jesse. It implies it, certainly. Living in fear will grind on a fella, and Jesse never really gave Bob the respect Bob felt he deserved. But I missed seeing that one moment where Bob goes, “That’s it. I’ve had enough.” Maybe it was there and it was too subtle for me, but I kept thinking and wondering about it for the last half-hour of the movie and it kept me from being able to just enjoy the end as the paranoia got thicker and thicker until something had to crack. The lack of that one, defining moment is the movie’s big flaw and the reason I probably won’t buy it when it comes out on DVD in January.

Moving on to other Jesse news, Spout.com notices that Warner Brothers has finally decided to pay some attention to Assassination and has started taking out “For Your Consideration” ads for it. They’re promoting it for Best Picture, Director, and Adapted Screenplay, but I agree with Spout that they’re missing an opportunity by not pushing Casey Affleck for Best Supporting Actor. I’d argue that his role in the film should actually put him up for consideration for Best Actor, but Supporting Actor would probably be an easier win for him.

If other Jesse movies are interesting to you, VCI has a boxed collection of them on sale for ten bucks. The Great Jesse James Raid & Outlaws Collection features The Great Jesse James Raid, Renegade Girl, Return of Jesse James, Gunfire, Dalton Gang and I Shot Billy the Kid.

What else?

Bob Ford’s gun went up for auction last week. Not the one he shot Jesse with, but still pretty cool.

Jesse may have been Welsh.

And I’ll wrap up with a cool story about Jesse versus a moustache-twirling rent-collector. I don’t know if it’s true, but I like it because Jesse gets to sort of play the hero in it while still remaining in character.

Next week I’ll tell you about a book that questions the DNA evidence around Jesse’s death. Maybe, as Jesse James vs. Machine Gun Kelley postulates, Bob didn’t really kill him as dead as everyone thought.

No, really. KOREAN Wonder Woman. You’re welcome.

Wonder Woman Wardrobe War Winners

The results of Project: Rooftop’s Wonder Woman Wardrobe War are in. There are some nice designs, but my favorite is Jess Fink’s; more because of the way he draws her face than the actual costume. She looks beautifully, classically Greek. I even appreciate the thought behind his inclusion of the Amazonian breast-removal, even if it’s an aspect of the culture I can easily do without.

Korean Wonder Woman

This is the most awesome thing EVER.

Wonder Woman Merchandise

Nice belt.

“Diana can’t vote for them…”

But according to Pott Manor, “she’s probably an advocate of the Green Party.” I buy that.

Tom Swift and His Movie Deal

I’ve told you about the “Hey, Oscar Wilde! It’s clobberin’ time!!!” blog before, right? One of the reasons I love watching it is that the subjects of the art aren’t the same old superhero and movie icons, so I’m often introduced to new characters or am reminded of old ones I haven’t thought about in a while. Tom Swift is a great example of the latter. That’s Michael Golden’s take on Tom to the right there.

I only had one Tom Swift book when I was a kid: Tom Swift and His Jetmarine. I’d be hard-pressed to tell you what it was about except that I remember thinking Tom was pretty cool for having a one-man sub. Even as a kid though, the concept of an independently wealthy boy-inventor/adventurer was pretty over-the-top for me, so I didn’t track down more of his books. But I always thought there was potential in Tom if some of his cheesier elements were either explained or toned down.

Seeing Golden’s illustration got me thinking about how the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew have faired pretty well through the generations since they were introduced, but how you don’t hear much from Tom anymore. Apparently, I just wasn’t in the loop on it, because there’s quite a bit of new Tom Swift material coming out. There’s a new series of books that started last year and it’s just now been announced that a film and video game are in the works, with possible TV and webisodes to follow. Knowing the difference between today’s kids and the kids of the ’50s, I’m looking forward to seeing how the new writers and producers are updating the concept. Especially since the first book in the new series, Into the Abyss, looks very Jetmarine-like from the cover.

Monster-Killing Monday!

Whoops! I didn’t mean to take Friday off; it just sort of worked out that way. Spent the day crowd-watching at the Mall with my family and then celebrating my Dad’s birthday (he was out of the country on the actual day) that night. We had a great weekend though. Hope you all did too.

This week’s monster killer is Voltron as seen by Dave Perillo. Dave’s got a wonderful blog full of his whimsical interpretations of popular characters. It’s well worth checking out, especially for the series of slasher flick icons he did in October.

And here’s some stuff about giant monsters:

The official Cloverfield trailer has been released. So has the poster.

I’m not a big fan of AMC because they interrupt their movies with commercials and I remember when they didn’t. They used to be what Turner Classic Movies is now and it’s a shame they’ve become more like TNT. But their blog has been especially good lately with posts about a new Godzilla DVD collection and old Godzilla toys.

The Daily Dollop has a great post about a very serious matter: The Intergovernmental Panel on Monster Attacks’ summary of its upcoming report, “Current Status of Global Preparations for Giant Monster Attacks.” Required reading for those concerned about such things, as we all should be.

10 Fictional Characters I’m Thankful For This Year

10. Atomic Robo (Red 5 Comics). He’s a brand new character and I’m just getting to know him, but he was built by Tesla and he fights giant ants, so I think we’re gonna get along just fine.

9. Thirteen (House). I love that she’s mysterious and that House doesn’t quite know what to make of her. Hope she sticks around.

8. Black Canary (DC Comics). She’s come a long way from just being Green Arrow’s girlfriend. They got it backwards when they called her new book Green Arrow and Black Canary.

7. Wonder Woman (DC Comics). The perfect woman.

6. Ben Wade (3:10 to Yuma). If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I don’t want to spoil it by going into too much detail about why he’s a great character. I love though that he’s a villain who sketches. Too many bad guys express their creativity through music; usually the violin or pipe organ. Having Ben use pencil and paper was a genius touch.

5. Remy (Ratatouille). He reminded me what it means to be a true individual.

4. Sarah Walker (Chuck). You can keep The Bionic Woman. Hell, you can have Starbuck too for all I care. Sarah’s the best butt-kicking woman on TV.

3. Mark Sloan (Grey’s Anatomy). I couldn’t care less about him when he first showed up on the show, but with Addison gone to her own show, I love how lonely and not-so-cocky McSteamy suddenly seemed. I’ve loved watching him try to find his place this season.

2. Miranda Bailey (Grey’s Anatomy). Okay, forget what I said about Wonder Woman. Bailey’s the real deal. Her struggle to balance career and family is remarkable because it’s so honestly and realistically portrayed. I seriously almost lost it when she broke down and sobbed after finally being rewarded with the Chief Resident position.

1. Elizabeth Swan (Pirates of the Caribbean). As far as I’m concerned, the Pirates movies are all about her. She’s a pirate, a butt-kicker, and Keira Knightley. Lucky, lucky Will.

Happy Thanksgiving! Which characters are you thankful for?

Warrior Women Wednesday!

Today’s Warrior Woman is Big Barda — or, more accurately, “Lil’ Big Barda” — from Darryl Young’s blog, which is chock full of good stuff.

But speaking of Barda, I’m sorry that Big Barda & Scott Free Week at Scans Daily never really took off.

“I want to have the kind of run I had on Birds of Prey

The Dallas Morning News has a small, fluffy interview with Gail Simone in which she says she hopes to remain on Wonder Woman for at least five years. She wants to “have the room and time to really tell a megastory, made up of satisfying smaller chunks.” Sounds good to me.

Who it doesn’t sound good to: people who don’t really seem to care about Wonder Woman in the first place.

JLA movie on hold

From a Hollywood Reporter article on how the WGA strike is affecting movie production: “At Warner Bros., Justice League of America finds itself without a shooting script and has options expiring on potential actors who recently were screen tested. As a result, it might have to postpone production.” Sucks for me, but I’m still with the writers.

“I would frigging love to be Wonder Woman!”

So, with no chance of seeing an actual, big screen Wonder Woman any time soon, let’s go back to fantasizing about who we’d like to see. I’ll second the Lorelai Gilmore nomination. Not because she’s the first person I’d think of for the role, but because she rules in general.

^_^

I haven’t been into DC Direct’s anime-inspired statues so far, but I actually kinda like the Wonder Woman one. The face is goofy in it’s cutesy grimaciness, but I really like the costume design.

Added to my Wish List

DC’s Power Girl collection.

Feminist Icon vs. Sex Object: Where’s the line?

Former (I think) DC editor Steve Bunche has an interesting review of the ’70s grindhouse sexploitation flick ‘Gator Bait. It’s interesting because while Bunche isn’t necessarily a feminist, he’s clearly hip to feminist concerns when he writes stuff like, “Lemme tell ya, buddy, the makers of this film simply set out make a movie about a scantily clad hottie who kicks ass on the people who fucked with her and her family, but I strongly doubt that capital F feminism was intentionally involved in the creative process.

“Think about it: you have fine-ass Claudia Jennings, a woman for whom the wearing of clothing should have been a capital offense, traipsing about the fen in gear that shows off her priapism-inducing assets for all they’re worth, despite the fact that such gear is in no way conducive to the rigors of marshland hunting and trapping. Desiree is not so much a feminist role model as she is a fantasy wild woman/jungle girl updated and transplanted to a sweltering southern bayou, and as a lifelong fan of such characters I have no problem with that. But don’t hand me that feminist overanalysis horseshit; Desiree’s a forest spirit fantasy made flesh — hell, she even looks like an anthropomorphic fox — and to say otherwise is a tad disingenuous.”

Which makes me wonder: is it possible for a character to be a feminist role model and an object of lust at the same time? Certainly there are scantily clad superheroines who have plenty of female fans, but who are also ogled by male fans. Does the fact that some fanboys drool over these characters diminish them as role models for the fangirls? Does it depend entirely on the number of gratuitous butt, boob, and crotch shots the artist indulges in? What decides if an image is gratuitous or not? I’m asking. Where’s the line?