Summerslam Predictions: Pre-Show Matches

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

As we did with Wrestlemania earlier this year, we’re going to break down our Summerslam predictions into several days. There’s certainly no shortage of things to cover. First up, the pre-show match, and the Cruiserweight Title Match!

MIXED TAG TEAM MATCH:
Rusev and Lana vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega

There’s no way Rusev and Lana get the win here. Not just because Almas and Vega are still establishing themselves on Smackdown, but because we’ve got this whole Aiden English story playing out with Rusev. My guess is English somehow costs them the match.

But…do Rusev and English have to break up? They’re so great together!

PREDICTION: Andrade “Cien” Almas and Zelina Vega

WWE CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Cedric Alexander (c) vs. Drew Gulak

I’ll be amazed if this one doesn’t get bumped to the pre-show. Amazed. Not because these two don’t deserve it. But that’s usually where these cruiserweight matches end up.

I’ve been watching a little more 205 Live lately. I’ve been into the show, but not necessarily Cedric as champion. They’re working hard to get him over, but he’s a pretty bland babyface. I’m ready for them to give Mustafa Ali a try. But for now, Cedric retains.

PREDICTION: Cedric Alexander

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Advertisements

Astonishing Art: Star Wars and Marvel by Melissa Thomas

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Awhile back, I stumbled on to the artwork of Melissa Thomas. I really wish I remembered how I found her. Then maybe I could do it again, and with any luck find more art that’s this much fun!

Thomas’ work is clearly inspired by some of the classic Disney animated films. You can easily see one of her characters walking out of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, or Mulan. Thus, it’s fitting that she so often uses it to depict characters from the Star Wars and Marvel universe.

Below are a few of my favorites among Thomas’ work. For more, I would encourage you to check her out on Behance, Instagram, and Twitter. She also has a store over at Society6.

Visit one of Thomas’ pages, and you’ll see she’s a big fan of The Clone Wars. Her Anakin Skywalker is particularly strong. The above sketches were my first exposure to her work. I wasn’t the only one to appreciate it, as the official Star Wars Instagram account re-posted it. Talk about reaching your target audience…

Obviously this one is much more refined. We have a filter over an actual still from Attack of the Clones, with Thomas giving us her take on Anakin and Padme. For yours truly, the sharper angles in the facial structure evoke some of the newer movies, as opposed to some of the classics. Anakin is giving me bit of a John Smith from Pocahontas vibe. That Disney romance charm is definitely there, though. She the refined product of royalty, and he the boyish charmer. If only Hayden Christensen had been allowed to be this likeable.

The premise of this one is interesting to me. Rey and Finn in an office setting. Two Star Wars characters in a setting that’s not at all like Star Wars. We’re almost journeying into alternate universe territory. This one actually reminds me of Paperman, the black and white short they put in theaters with Wreck-It-Ralph. Paperman is in black and white. But go watch it, and hopefully you’ll see what I mean.

We’re venturing into Marvel territory here, as Thomas captures the heart-wrenching goodbye we saw from Peter Parker in Infinity War. The big, tear-filled “Disney eyes” literally make the whole image. Thomas gives the piece just the right amount of emotional gravitas, without going too far. Peter is going away, but he doesn’t necessarily have the time to really process it. And just as he starts to process it, he fades away. Beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This last one is a simple sketch. An older one, at that. It’s based on a famous promotional shot of Harrison Ford for the original Star Wars.

I’m comparing the live image to the sketch because the latter is a perfect illustration (no pun intended) of how Thomas captures a character’s essence, while still maintaining her own style. In the photograph, Ford is playing it cool. He’s emotionally inaccessible. Thomas, on the other hand, gives Han a little smile. He’s every bit the charming rogue he should be. But the smile gives it that touch of Disney magic that Thomas is going for. So simple, yet so effective.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Panels of Awesomeness: Spider-Man Annual #1

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Bryan Edward Hill (Author), Nelson Blake II (Artist), Alitha E. Martinez (Artist), Carlos Lopez (Colorist), Cory Petit (Letterer)

THE SCENE: In his early days as a hero, Miles Morales takes on a Skrull who is impersonating Spider-Man!

WHY IT’S AWESOME: Spider-Man Annual #1 was a welcome read this week, as last month Brian Michael Bendis officially put a bow on the ongoing adventures of Miles Morales. At least for now. My understanding is that a new series is in the works. You’d think there’d have to be, what with the Miles-centered Into the Spider-Verse hitting theaters in December.

In the meantime, most of this annual takes place “years ago,” just as Miles is becoming a hero. The book does a little retcon work here, trying to figure out where our hero was in the main Marvel Universe (as opposed to the Ultimate one, where he debuted) around the time of Secret Invasion. When Miles, Ganke, and their friends are attacked by Skrulls at a party in Soho, Miles is forced to take action. As awful icing on the cake, one of them is impersonating Spider-Man!

The ensuing battle gives us this page…

A bit cliched? Maybe. But when it’s done right, I’m a sucker for stuff like this. It’s important to remember how young Miles is at this point. When we first met him, he was only about 13 or 14. And yet, now he’s facing life or death against a monster. Literally, a monster. So to see him calm himself down, and almost rationalize the situation, is really cool. I love the line, “I can’t do this. But Spider-Man could.”

Then, to top it all off, he delivers a Spidey quip. Not a great one, mind you. But good, considering he’s a terrified teenager in a makeshift Spider-Man costume.

That’s another item to note: Nelson Blake II designed Miles’ makeshift Spidey suit for this outing. I dig it. The shirt is a little on-the-nose for what’s supposed to be a spontaneous costume. But it’s still fun. The goggles even give it a little bit of a Spider-Man Noir vibe.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Dan Schoening Easter Egg Hunt: Eddie Murphy at Ghostbusters HQ

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Eddie Murphy/Ghostbusters connection goes back a long way. The irony there is that most people have no idea there’s a connection at all.

Legend has it that while writing early treatments for Ghostbusters, Dan Aykroyd had his eye on Murphy for a co-starring role. This would have been during Murphy’s days on Saturday Night Live. But as the film evolved, and Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman, and Bill Murray became involved, the idea of Murphy playing a role fell to the wayside.

Some believe Murphy had been pegged for the Winston Zeddemore role, i.e. the everyman who gets to asks the Ghostbusters expository questions. A quote from Harold Ramis is cited in Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History, which ultimately debunks this idea…

“Everyone thought that Winston was written for Eddie Murphy, but Eddie was really only going to costar with Danny is in his original version of the story. I never spoke to Eddie about being in the film.”

Decades later, Dan Schoening would pay a subtle tribute to Murphy in Ghostbusters #2.

Alright, maybe subtle isn’t the right word.

As Ecto-1 does one of its trademark zooms out of the firehouse, it nearly clips Axel Foley, Murphy’s character in Beverly Hills Cop. Foley is conspicuous by his trademark black jacket and muscle car.

Fittingly, both Ghostbusters and Beverly Hills Cop were released in 1984. Both made big bucks, and spawned franchises. *sigh* Sure makes you miss the ’80s, doesn’t it?

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

A Christopher Robin Review – What Would Pooh Do?

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I really love Winnie the Pooh.

As a 30-something dude, it’s weird to hear myself say that. But it’s true, and has been for a few years now. I wrote something about this a few years ago. Long story short, I keep it as a daily reminder to be kind in a world that’s increasingly mean. Almost like a sign that asks, “What would Pooh do?”

This weekend, Mrs. Primary Ignition and I went to see Christopher Robin. I almost couldn’t help but go. Keep in mind what I just said about the world we’re in right now, and look at the trailer…

Christopher Robin was essentially marketed as a movie where Pooh and his friends put the title character, a cynical and withdrawn adult who neglects his family in favor of work, back in touch with his inner child. Something you can take your kids to see, while also taking something home for yourself. And that’s what it turns out to be. It’s a very nice movie. It’s true to the characters, Jim Cummings hits all the right notes as the voice of Pooh (and Tigger), and Ewan McGregor is a fine choice for an adult Christopher Robin.

All that said, Christopher Robin underachieves. Or at least it feels like it does.

As we were leaving the theater, Mrs. Primary Ignition and I realized what we’d been expecting, based on the trailers and advertising: Toy Story 3. Or perhaps Toy Story 3 in reverse.

If you were an adult when Toy Story 3 came out, I’ll bet what you remember most about it is the ending. Andy has to leave his childhood, i.e. Woody and the gang, behind as he goes off to college. In Christopher Robin, our main character has long since left his childhood behind. But now his old toys have popped back up to remind him of who he used to be, and what’s really important in life.

Whether Disney meant for this or not, the trailers for Christopher Robin very much evoke that sentimental tearjerker vibe we got from Toy Story 3. But it doesn’t deliver on that.  So it ends up being just another movie. Which is a real shame.

I’m not suggesting Christopher Robin should have been a more mature movie. It doesn’t need to be. But I think it could have benefited from Ewan McGregor being a little more Scrooge-ish. The movie depicts him as someone who’s lost touch with his own heart because the world has ground him down so much. Let’s see a little more of that. He didn’t need to yell or scream. We just needed him to be a little more…cold. Then it’s that much more impactful to see his heart warm in the end.

Christopher Robin is a perfectly serviceable night at the movies. But it could have been so much more. It could have prompted moviegoers to look into their own lives, and ask that all-important question: “What would Pooh do?”

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Astonishing Art: Batman ’66 by Kevin Maguire

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

If you’re a comic book fan and you don’t know the name Kevin Maguire, then shame on you. He’s one of the all-time greats, and draws some of the most expressive and flamboyant characters you’ll ever see. He’s perhaps best known for his work on the original Justice League International series, which ties in nicely with what we’re looking at today.

Maguire’s most famous work from JLI, if not his career overall, is the cover for the first issue. You’ve got all your heroes together looking out at the reader, with Guy Gardner drawing focus at the bottom center. Since the issue’s release in 1987, Maguire has done seemingly countless take-offs of this cover. If you see him at a convention, or simply Google him, you’ll see a bunch of different versions with a bunch of different characters. Not just DC characters, either. You’ll see Marvel characters, and even a print dedicated to the various incarnations of Doctor Who. It’s all amazing.

A few years ago, I had the chance to meet Mr. Maguire and purchase a print from him, which is still hanging in my office now. There were no shortage of choices. But this one caught my eye, and is the subject of today’s “Astonishing Art.”

(In the interest of full disclosure, the print I have actually has a white border with black text. But the image itself is the same.)

I picked this Batman ’66 piece not just because of my soft spot for the show, but because of how well Maguire captured the spirit of some of the characters. Look at Robin, for instance. He’s got that gloved fist tucked into his palm, as we so often saw Burt Ward do on-screen. Frank Gorshin’s Riddler looks delightfully manic as always. And then you’ve got Victor Buono’s King Tut, who’s every bit as animated here as he was on the show.

One thing I’ve always been curious about is why Egghead, the Vincent Price character, is the only character other than Batman making eye contact with the viewer. Why him?

And in the Guy Gardner spot? Who else could it be, but Batman himself? I love that pose too. Paired with Robin’s, it makes it seem like the whole group is about to break into a classic WHAP! BIFF! OOF! slugfest.

Man, I miss Adam West…

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Epic Covers: Gotham Knights by Brian Bolland

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

When you hear the name Brian Bolland, especially in the context of Batman’s world, you think of The Killing Joke. That’s understandable. Nearly 30 years later, DC still goes to great lengths to make sure none of us forget it.

But Bolland has revisited the Dark Knight at various points since, usually via cover work. Such was the case in late 1999/2000, when DC called on him to do the covers for their new Batman series, Gotham Knights. Between April of 2000 and January of 2004, almost every issue of Gotham Knights was adorned with a Brian Bolland cover. Thus, Bolland got to cover a lot of ground he likely wouldn’t have otherwise been able to. We saw him draw characters like Nightwing, Huntress, Spoiler, and even Cassandra Cain as Batgirl. While Gotham Knights was essentially a third string series, during that timeframe is boasted some of the best covers in all of comics.

While great many of them would most certainly fit into the “epic” category, I’ve picked my five favorites for this space today.

Issue #18 – Aquaman and the Giant Penny.

Brian Bolland is widely known as the man who drew Barbara Gordon getting shot and paralyzed by the Joker. So when one thinks of his art, the word “funny” doesn’t often come to mind. And yet, here we are.

Gotham Knights #18 is about Batman summoning Aquaman for help retrieving some Batcave artifacts that went underwater after the big earthquake in Cataclysm. Bolland uses this premise to to get a little cutesy with iconic Batcave set piece. Aquaman is a character that gets played for laughs a lot. But what I appreciate about this piece is that it’s not necessarily making fun of Arthur, or using the whole “he talks to fish” bit. Arthur is in on the joke. Bolland doesn’t draw him in a cartoony way, but the combination of the shrug and the expression on his face almost evokes a Looney Tunes vibe. It’s difficult not to smile when you see this thing.

Issue #25 – Batman in Handcuffs.

Most people associated those bladed gauntlets with Batman, and that iconography is what makes this image work.

Gotham Knights #25 tied in with the Bruce Wayne, Murderer? storyline going on at the time, which saw Bruce go to prison. Bolland captured the spirit of that story perfectly by placing Batman in handcuffs. And don’t discount the iconic symbolism of those either. For better or worse, handcuffs are a symbol of American justice. With this relatively tight image, Bolland tells us that Batman is now entrapped within the system he’s supposed to be serving.

Issue #32 – The Grandfather Clock

I wouldn’t call this a famous image. But it’s gotten a decent amount of additional exposure over the years. It’s easy to see why.

While issue #25 took place as the Murderer? storyline was beginning, Gotham Knights #32 was part of the wrap up. It showed us 24 hours in the life of Bruce Wayne/Batman. So it’s fitting that Bolland’s cover show is the grandfather clock, the entrance to the Batcave. The unofficial threshold between billionaire playboy and caped crusader. And you have the great juxtaposition of both identities standing back to back. An awesome cover for an awesome issue.

Issue #43 – Batgirl Debuts

Another piece that got a good amount of play after the fact. Bolland delivers an epic tip-of-the-hat to the classic Carmine Infantino cover for Detective Comics #359 from 1967, Batgirl/Barbara Gordon’s “million dollar debut!” The classic never dies, kids.

There’s a sentimental aspect to this one, of course. Bolland wasn’t very nice to Barbara Gordon in The Killing Joke. So for him to render here like this, in her crowning moment, is pretty cool. It’s almost a sense of justice for the character. Though ironically, the issue was more about Jason Todd than Barbara herself.

Issue #45 – Man-Bat’s Close Up

Oddly enough, I remember not liking this one when it came out. It’s so damn gruesome and detailed. Look at the nose. The ears. The fangs.

But of course, that’s the point, isn’t it? There aren’t a lot of epic Man-Bat covers. But this one definitely fits the bill.

This one also has a great Universal monster movie vibe to it. Between the lighting from below, the positioning of the head and neck and the wide-eyed expression, it brings to mind the promotional art for the original Wolfman or Mummy movies.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.