Posted in Fatherhood, Toys

An Androgynous Potato (Head)

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Somebody in my Facebook feed this morning referred to people getting freaked out over “an androgynous potato,” and I knew something was up.

Turns out Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head are rebranding. Hasbro is going to less prominently display the gender labels for the toy line. The brand will now simply be “Potato Head.” (See packaging below.)

This triggered some folks online, because that’s what the internet is and has always been for: Triggering people. How dare we cut Mr. Potato Head’s imaginary balls off! (What would you call Mr. Potato Head’s balls anyway? Spuds? Spudlings?)

My initial inclination was to say this is one of those things that’s been given way too much thought. Just how much will the world be improved by de-emphasizing the gender roles of toy potatoes? Is Hasbro fixing something that isn’t broken?

Then I read the AP story, in which Ali Mierzejewski, editor-in-chief at The Toy Insider says…

“It’s a potato. But kids like to see themselves in the toys they are playing with.”

Okay. I’ll buy that. It makes sense.

The older I get, the more I understand the importance of representation in popular culture. It’s not just toys that kids project themselves on to. It’s all kinds of mass media and merchandise. Everyone deserves to feel seen, regardless of sexuality, race, or however you want to measure difference.

I find it usually helps to look at these things through the lens of fatherhood. Baby Primary Ignition has a pretty conventional family thus far. It’s mom/dad/baby. But I’d like to think that if it were mom/mom/baby, or dad/dad/baby, or if there were a gender-neutral “they” mixed in there somewhere, she’d still be able to look out into the world and not feel like she doesn’t belong. I’d want her to know her family is beautiful the way it is.

And if genderless plastic potatoes can move us further in that direction, I’m game.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Weekly Comic 100s: The Next Batman: Second Son #1

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: The Next Batman: Second Son #1
AUTHOR: John Ridley
ARTISTS: Tony Akins, Ryan Benjamin (Breakdowns), Mark Morales (Inker), Rex Lokus (Colorist), Deron Bennett (Letterer). Cover by Doug Braithwaite.
RELEASED: February 23, 2021

Here’s something unexpected: We get Tim Fox in this issue, but not Batman. Meaning we see our lead character in action, but never in his superhero costume. That’s odd, but also kind of refreshing.

Tim is on a covert mission in Vietnam here, so he’s dressed in basic black attire. The story doesn’t call for the Batsuit. So we don’t get the Batsuit. This being a first issue, one might consider that a drawback. But I credit John Ridley for not illogically adding the costume to a sequence that didn’t call for it.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Superman & Lois Season Premiere Review – Family Matters

SERIES: Superman & Lois
TITLE: S1:E1 – “Pilot”
STARRING: Tyler Hoechlin, Bitsie Tulloch, Jordan Elsass, Alexander Garfin, Emmanuelle Chriqui
WRITERS: Greg Berlanti, Todd Helbing
DIRECTOR:
Lee Toland Krieger
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
February 23, 2021
SYNOPSIS:

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Looking at the Superman costume they used for his debut in Metropolis, my initial instinct was go shout: “They made it to match his original suit in Action Comics #1!” Because, of course, I’m a huge geek.

That’s not what they did, however. It took me a minute to realize where I’d seen that suit. It was Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier. The costume’s vintage look threw me off.

So the kid says to Superman, “Thanks. Cool Costume.” He replies, “Thanks. My mom made it for me.” That line is plucked directly from Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Superman For All Seasons.

This show went out of its way to establish geek cred right away.

Jordan, one of Clark and Lois’ twin sons, has Social Anxiety Disorder. As someone who’s struggled with social anxiety, that hits home for me. I’m sure it hits home for a lot of the people watching a comic-book-inspired TV show like this. From that standpoint, it has the potential to be a very smart move. But as with anything, it’s all about how they execute it…

I’m a staunch Superman defender. But watching this episode’s expository opening sequence, I can understand why some people don’t like him. Especially when he talks about being married to the most famous journalist in the world, raising two teenage boys, and then we see him on TV doing Superman stuff. As he’s presented here he has, in many ways, the perfect American life and family. In that moment, he comes off like the most popular football player in high school who grew up to become president of the United States. Personally, I love that Rockwellian Superman. But I can see the drawback. The hard truth is that when he’s at his truest and best form, Superman isn’t for everybody.

Question: I know that as comic book characters Superman and Lois Lane don’t age. But how old are they supposed to be in this show? Late 30s? Early to mid 40s? For what it’s worth, Tyler Hoechlin is 33 and Bitsie Tulloch is 40. Mrs. Primary Ignition, by the way, thinks that age difference makes them look weird. I’ll admit, it is a little weird. But I imagine that’s one of those things that’ll wear off with time.

After discovering the rocket in the barn, Jonathan (Can we just call him Jon?) and Jordan come right out and accuse Clark of lying.  I like that. Superman supposedly never lies. But as a parent, Clark Kent does. What that says about being parent is up for interpretation.

“Your life falling apart doesn’t mean you’re special. It means you’re human.” That’s a good line from Lois.

Fun fact: Alexander Garfin, who plays Jordan, was the voice of Linus in The Peanuts Movie. Am I weird for thinking that’s kind of perfect, considering Jordan has social anxiety? It matches up with the whole Linus and the blanket thing, right?

On the subject of Jordan, for me it’s always a fine line with how moody and angsty certain teenage characters are. At what point does it cross the line and get too moody or angsty? I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to that. It just depends on the character and the story…

Clark Kent’s signature glasses disguise always requires a huge leap in terms of suspending disbelief. It’s comic book science at its least practical. But disbelief really stretches thin when you try to sell us that Clark’s own children didn’t recognize him without his glasses on.

Simply put, when we get to the scene where Clark takes his glasses off and it’s this big revelation, Jonathan and Jordan look like idiots. It’s just that simple.

What are the odds that as the series progresses we get a good twin/bad twin situation? Does one become a superhero, and the other a supervillain, thus tearing the Kent family apart? Seems like the probable way to go…

So the bad guy in this episode turns out to be someone named “Captain Luthor.” I can only assume this isn’t Lex Luthor, as the CWverse Lex is played by Jon Cryer. (Right? It’s been awhile since I’ve been plugged into the CWverse.) But apparently it’s not a Superman show unless you have a bad guy named Luthor. So…cousin? Someone unrelated who adopted the name?

Overall, not a bad premiere. I can’t say I was blown away. But Superman & Lois shows a lot of promise. Tyler Hoechlin was, and is, a great Superman. Possibly the best performance in the role since Christopher Reeve, and I don’t say that lightly.

If you’re into the concept of Clark and Lois as parents, there are two book’s I’d highly recommend. The first is Superman: Lois and Clark (which has nothing to do with the ’90s TV show). The second is Son of Superman by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, and all the subsequent books in that series. For my money, this series owes a debt to these creators and those titles.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Weekly Comic 100s

Weekly Comic 100s: Star Wars #11

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Star Wars #11
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Jan Bazaldua, Rachelle Rosenberg (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, & Rain Beredo.
RELEASED: February 3, 2021

As we open this issue, Leia and the Rebellion are about to forcefully sacrifice Lobot’s life in service to the Alliance. Naturally, Lando isn’t happy.

I like that we’re not only seeing a more cold and ruthless side of Leia, but we’re exploring Lando’s loyalty to his friends. It’s that same loyalty that prompted him to help Leia and the others escape Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back.

Throw in a pretty cool sequence where Rebel pilots forcefully board a Star Destroyer, and it’s safe to say this series has officially hit its stride.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Weekly Comic 100s

Weekly Comic 100s: Mighty Morphin #4

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Mighty Morphin #4
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Marco Renna, Walter Baiamonte (Colorist), Katia Ranalli (Color Assists), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Variant cover by Eleonora Carlini.
RELEASED: February 10, 2021

We find out who the mysterious new Green Ranger is this month. As someone who read Parrott’s work on Go Go Power Rangers, the choice he goes with was rather obvious. But that’s not necessarily bad thing. It opens up some interesting story opportunities. Especially when it comes to the character’s apparent relationship with the news media…

The Dragonzord returns this month with a tweaked design courtesy of Promethea. I like it. But of course, the original can’t be topped.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Power Rangers Spotlight, Television

Power Rangers Dino Fury Episode 1 Review

SERIES: Power Rangers Dino Fury
EPISODE: S28.E1. “Destination Dinohenge”
STARRING: Russell Curry, Hunter Deno, Kai Moya
WRITERS: Becca Barnes, Alwyn Dale
DIRECTOR: Charlie Haskell
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: February 20, 2021
SYNOPSIS: Two youngsters uncover Dinohenge, a lair containing secrets from 65 million years ago…

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I like that Amelia, our new Pink Ranger, is a reporter. It creates a cool little Clark Kent/Superman vibe. More importantly, reporters are the often unsung heroes of our society. So it’s nice that Power Rangers is creating that connection for kids. I also like the name of the web site she works for: “Buzz Blast.” It’s a thinly veiled allusion to BuzzFeed.

Apparently Amelia is also a Ghostbuster. That “spook snare” reminded me of the Ninja Steel premiere, when Sarah showed up with an honest-to-God hoverboard.

So Dinohenge is filled with “Hengemen,” who will apparently serve as the henchmen for this season. Get it? Hengemen? Henchmen? Brilliant…

As the Hengemen are preparing to attack, Amelia says she’s taken three years of karate. Ollie, our new Blue Ranger, replies with “Yeah, me too.” Does that mean Ollie has taken three years of karate too? If so, that’s a remarkable coincidence even by kids show standards. I’d like to think it was just a general affirmation that he too knows karate.

After they’ve morphed, and Amelia asks Ollie what else they get with these new powers, he says: “If you watch the news, zords!” I like that line a lot. Not only does it tie into Amelia’s job, but it’s a nice reference to the fact that the Power Rangers get plenty of news coverage in their universe.

Design-wise, those helmets are pretty busy. They’re going to be an acquired taste. But I’ll get there.

The bad guy’s name in this episode is “Void Knight.” I can’t decide if I like that name. Look at a thesaurus, and you’ll see it’s a degree or two away from “Bare Champion.” You don’t want a Bare Champion on Power Rangers. Bear Champion? Maybe. Bare Champion? No.

After we get acquainted with Zayto, our new Red Ranger freshly awakened from a 65 million year hypersleep, he reads Amelia and Ollie’s minds. He calls Ollie “a rational, logical adventurer and scientist.” He refers to Amelia as, an “imaginative, unstoppable truth seeker.”

It’s rare that a show flat out gives you the rundown for some of its characters. It’s contrived, yet amusing.

I wonder what Russell Curry, who plays Zayto, thinks of those tentacles he has to wear. You think they told him that at the audition? Probably not.

Solon, our resident helper (a la Alpha 5 or Redbot) this season, is a cyborg dinosaur. That’s amazing. Have we not had a cyborg dinosaur in two and a half decades of Power Rangers? I’m thinkin’ we haven’t…

We see the Morphing Masters (or is it Morphin Masters?) in this episode. That name dates all the way back to an expository line from season one. But we’ve never seen any characters called the Morphing Masters until now. That level of attention to detail, especially on a show primarily meant for young children, is really cool.

Zayto says the other Knights of Rafkon were “lost” in battle. Which, in Power Rangers speak, means they probably died. So who wants to bet on when one or all of them shows up in an episode? Are we thinking end of season one? Or are we going into season two?

Overall, I dug this premiere. I tend to like it when the show paces itself like it did here. We haven’t had any zords or big city battles yet. The show took its time and allowed us to get to know Amelia and Ollie a little bit. Things felt like they unfolded organically.

A good start to what will hopefully be a good series.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Television

Rob Watches: Star Trek: The Return of Q

***What happens when I, a 30-something-year-old fanboy, decide to look at the Star Trek franchise for the first time with an open heart? You get “Rob Watches Star Trek.”***

SERIES: Star Trek: The Next Generation
TITLE: S1.E10. “Hide and Q”
STARRING: Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, Levar Burton, Brent Spiner, Michael Dorn
GUEST-STARRING: John de Lancie
WRITERS: C.J. Holland, Gene Roddenberry
DIRECTOR:
Cliff Bole
ORIGINAL AIR DATE:
November 23, 1987
SYNOPSIS:
Q returns to tempt Riker with powers much like his own.

New Around here? Check out the “Rob Watches Star Trek” archive!

By Rob Siebert
Trekkie-in-Training

I wouldn’t call “Hide and Q” a great episode. Maybe not even a good one. But it does have one thing going for it: It feels like an episode done in the spirit of classic Star Trek, as opposed to mimicking it.

The show is play on, and even directly references, the old proverb “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Q, who we last saw in “Encounter at Farpoint,” endows Riker with powers like his own. Naturally, our villain’s expectation is that Riker will succumb to temptation and want to keep the power permanently.

The climactic sequence of the episode sees everybody on the Enterprise bridge, with Riker offering to grant them their heart’s desire. Ultimately they all turn it down, as they don’t want it to be tainted by Q. But one person is conspicuous by her absence from the bridge, and the episode at large: Deanna Troi.

It’s been fairly obvious from the get-go that Riker and Troi are going to be linked romantically. was it always so obvious these people were standing in front of a green screen? So why not have Troi be a part of Riker’s big gift giving sequence at the end? Swap her in for, say, Tasha. She could be the one to convince him to reject Q’s powers once and for all, thus drawing them that much closer together.

I’unno. Seems obvious to me. Granted, 30 years of hindsight…

Not only did this feel more like Star Trek on a thematic level, but on a visual one as well. That planet set was very reminiscent of the way many otherworldly locations looked on the old show. Incidentally, was it as obvious back in the ’80s as it is now when the actors were standing in front of green screens? Perhaps it’s easier to tell on high-definition TVs. But at times it feels like it’s beating you over the head.

I imagine Picard gets a little less prickly as the series progresses. Obviously, Riker is forgiven in the end. But before that happens Riker admits his mistake to Picard, adding that he feels like an idiot. Picard respones: “Quite right. So you should,” Easy there, Cap. The man was trying to grant everyone their heart’s desire, not rule the universe…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Weekly Comic 100s

Weekly Comic 100s: TMNT #114

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #114
AUTHOR: Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz (Story Consulting), Sophie Campbell
ARTISTS: Campbell, Ronda Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer)
RELEASED: February 10, 2021

The time-traveling Lita meets the child version of herself in this issue. Doc Brown would not approve!

Campbell gives us the IDW take on the “traditional pre-fight donut” moment from The Secret of the Ooze. It’s an amusing little nod.

We see Renet, a “timestress,” in this issue. I don’t recall ever having seen her in the main series before. Apparently she was in Bebop & Rocksteady Destroy Everything!

Apparently next issue we get Bebop and Rocksteady against Tokka and Rahzar. As the latter were seemingly stand-ins for the former, there’s tremendous meta-appeal there.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Weekly Comic 100s

Weekly Comic 100s: Future State: The Next Batman #4

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Future State: The Next Batman #4
AUTHOR: John Ridley, Vita Ayala, Paula Sevenbergen
ARTISTS: Laura Braga, Nick Derington (Breakdowns), Aneke, Emanuela Lupaccino, Wade Von Grawbadger (Inker)
COLORISTS:
Arif Prianto, Trish Mulvihill, John Kalisz
LETTERERS:
Clayton Cowles, Becca Carey
RELEASED: February 16, 2021

Ridley, Braga, and the Next Batman team have sold me on this version of the character. I’ll definitely be checking out Second Son.

The second half of the Batgirls back-up expands quite nicely. We go beyond just Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain, and a larger picture begins to form with the rest of the Bat-family. I was pleasantly surprised.

The main thing I took away from the Gotham City Sirens back-up was slighty bewilderment, as they didn’t find a way to shoehorn Harley Quinn into it. The original trio was Harley, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman. What gives?

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.