Wednesday, October 29, 2014

13 Songs for Your Halloween Soundtrack

Every great Halloween needs a great soundtrack, one that is equal parts holiday-appropriate and thoroughly enjoyable on its own. While there have been countless songs created for the season, many them are, quite frankly, terrible. And not in a so bad it’s good kind of way. Don’t worry, there are plenty of those types of songs on this list.

So why bother sifting through countless playlists for Halloween weeding out the worst “spooky” tracks known to man? I’ve put together a fun and festive soundtrack for Halloween right here!

Whether you are looking to have a quiet night in passing out treats to kids or go out and have some fun out in the night in the spirit of the season, these songs are perfect for making the most of Halloween night, or really any other that you want to have a tinge of scariness.

Just click on the Spotify playlist to the right and read on for a little history and a few thoughts on these Halloween tracks. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2014

The 15 Greatest Episodes of "Supernatural" (So Far)

It’s almost Halloween and Supernatural is about to hit its 200th episode, so now’s the perfect time to look back on this scary and exciting television show’s history. For going on 10 seasons, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) have been travelling the United States in their sweet, sweet Chevy Impala saving people, hunting things – the family business. Taking on vampires, demons, shapeshifters, angels, and many more of the monsters that have worked their way into legend, The Winchester Brothers have saved the world again and again.

Creator Eric Kripke and the many writers and directors that have helped to form Supernatural into an exciting and adaptable series have given rise to countless fantastic episodes that keep viewers coming back time and time again. Even through the low points (and those are only a minor portion of the series as a whole), Dean and Sam have remained equal parts bad ass, funny, and charismatic. Just as important, the best Supernatural episodes have been able to create huge laughs, major scares, and a big investment in the fate of the Winchesters.

From hilarious encounters with alternate dimensions to frightening run-ins with the undead, these are the 15 Greatest Episodes of Supernatural!

15. As Time Goes By (Season 8, Episode 12)

Supernatural’s time travel episodes are always a guarantee for revelation and added layers to the Winchester mythology. In Season 8’s “As Time Goes By,” the heroes’ family line is further expounded upon as the mythology of The Men of Letters is introduced, giving the show an even larger world. This time, instead of Sam or Dean jumping through time, it’s their long-lost grandfather Henry, who has come into the present to escape the monstrous demon Adaddon. As Henry struggles to understand the future he has jumped into, Sam and Dean work to unravel what happened to The Men of Letters while also battling Abaddon. By the end, the brothers are on a new and more powerful path and now know their full family history.

Best Moment: The fatally-wounded Henry tells his grandsons how proud of them he is before he passes, receiving a hunter’s burial from Dean and Sam.

14. Crossroad Blues (Season 2, Episode 8)

The legend of Robert Johnson intersects with Sam and Dean’s current investigation, as a series of deaths from what turn out to be hellhounds interlink with the mysterious death of the legendary bluesman. Introducing the idea of crossroads demons, who will give a person his or her heart’s desire for their soul and death in 10 years, demon deals would soon become an integral part of Supernatural. The frightening nature of the invisible hellhounds, demonic visions of the damned, and new revelations make “Crossroad Blues” into an incredibly strong and important part of the show’s mythology.

Best Moment: When trying to persuade the crossroads demon to eliminate the deal that is about to kill the man they are trying to save, Dean learns that the reason he was spared from death at the beginning of the season was his father's own demon deal, which now has his soul in Hell.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The 25 Best Comic Book Covers of the 1980s

Comic book covers have been a unique form of art since their inception in the 1930s. While they have shifted and grown more intricate over the years, few decade experience such massive changes and improvements as the 1980s.

New artistic styles, titanic artists, and more inventive approaches to what can be featured onside and on the cover of a comic book led to a renaissance. The art of the 1970s paved the way for more dynamic layouts and detailed takes on comic book storylines, but the 1980s ran wild with new notions.

Because of artists taking chances and comic book companies pushing the envelope more than ever, covers were created that stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest art work anywhere. These 25 covers are some of the comic industry’s shining examples, many of which have influenced comic book art in the decades since.

See more of the best comic book covers by reading The 25 Best Comic Book Covers of the 2000s!

25. Daredevil #181 by Frank Miller

After dozens of issues, this is one writer and artist Frank Miller’s biggest issues in his dramatic run on Daredevil. The hero’s biggest villain, Bullseye, and his lover, the assassin Electra, face off in a brutal and deadly battle, with unconventional reds and yellows catching eyes in mere moments. Their mid-air attack with the fearful shadow of Daredevil looming in the background make this an obviously high stakes affair. Add in the fact that “one wins, one dies” is plastered on the front and this is ripe for tragedy. And one really does die!

24. Fantastic Four #276 by John Byrne

Byrne’s use of pure black and white in a negative-like effect illustrates sheer power. Including the book’s title and its tag in the black and white illustration and this is full commitment to an idea and it makes its use all the more powerful. As the figure at the center overwhelms The Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic with sheer power, it’s clear that our heroes are in serious trouble. This is just the first of many Byrne covers on this list, but it is definitely his most unusual.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Greatest Batman Stories: Grant Morrison’s Batman Saga

Grant Morrison is easily one of the most influential and unique comic book creators in the history of the medium. Combining powerful stories with a focus on out-of-the-box thinking, Morrison has created some of the weirdest and most high concept comic book storylines ever. While the author has shown his ability to take psychedelic thinking and push the comic book medium in new directions in stories such as The Invisibles and Flex Mentallo, Morrison also showed a flair for new forms of superhero storytelling through his work on Justice League, Superman, and more.

When Morrison returned to the world of Batman in 2006 with Batman #655, his first solo Batman story since Arkham Asylum in 1989, the author kicked off a story that would span almost a decade. His new take on the character of Batman and the creation of an engrossing storyline that would wrap around the world and centuries of human history became a defining saga. Including international heroes, time travelling, murder mysteries, the apocalypse, and more, Morrison’s Batman tale shows the unmatched power of comic books.

A Deep Dive into Batman’s History
From the very beginning, Morrison had one unique aspect to his take on Batman that previous authors had not considered: everything in the nearly 75-year history of The Caped Crusader was cannon. This means brooding vigilante tales of the 1940s, trippy 1960s cosmic adventures, psychotic 1980s detective stories, and more all truly happened to The Dark Knight featured in modern DC Comics. How did all of this happen? According to Morrison, each decade could be taken as a year or two in the hero’s superhero career.

Starting off as a dark and deadly vigilante powered by his anger and hate, Batman eventually became a hero in need of the levity brought by Robin. The many chemical exposures caused by Joker, Scarecrow, and more led to lengthy hallucinations, explaining the trippy tales of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Of course, all this took a toll, leading to a much darker Batman represented in later stories. Together, they form a diverse and highly-prepared modern Batman.

This also means that characters and story developments long ignored by authors and editors were now up for grabs once again. Faced with a reunion of The Club of Heroes, Batman and Robin are pulled into a classic murder mystery that leads to the death of many colorful and strangely dated adventurers. A hallucination of Robin’s death from 1963’s “Robin Dies at Dawn” leads to the inclusion of Dr. Hurt, a megalomaniac who is devoted to the destruction of Batman. These many different elements create a dynamic take on Batman that allowed Morrison to spread his wings and keep from being stagnant.

The colorful and wild result was nothing short of brilliant.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why Do Original Movies Fail at the Box Office?

If there’s one complaint about movies that has been repeated more often than ever by audiences across the world in recent years, it’s about the stunning lack of original material on movie screens today. While that complaint may have some validity, especially when it comes to blockbuster films, it’s a far more complex issue than it seems on the surface.

Yes, adaptations and sequels are in a greater abundance than ever, especially with superhero movies spreading like wildfire. That is not to say that these franchises are lacking in quality. But the monotony of another adaptation or entry in a franchise can grow tiresome quickly.

So where are all the original concepts?

They are out there. And they are failing. While there are still some films formed around original concepts that succeed every year, they are fewer are farther between than ever. This failure of high quality original film is making Hollywood executives hedge their bets more than ever. Why invest hundreds of millions of dollars in an unproven concept when they can create another entry into a franchise or an adaptation of a loved book series or television show (or board game or forgotten ‘80s property) that has a much higher success of returning a profit?

There’s no denying that money talks in Hollywood. The real question is, why are so many great original movies failing at the box office?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Comics You Should Read: Walt Simonson’s Epic “Thor”

Ever since his creation as a Marvel Comics superhero in 1962 by Stan Lee, Thor has taken part in some of the most epic stories to ever come to life on the comic page. While Stan Lee, John Buscema, Jack Kirby, and more artists helped to bring Thor to vivid life and create the many elements that would forever define the Norse God hero, there is one creator who left the greatest stamp on Thor: Walt Simonson.

As both writer and artist, Simonson crafted an epic tale for Thor, one that spanned more than 40 issues. In his time as the brain behind Thor, Simonson pushed the Avenger in exciting new directions. Not only did he create a massive storyline that smoothly transitioned between minor arcs, but he created new wrinkles in the Thor mythos, many of which have heavily informed the decades of comic book stories that have followed.

In the years since, writers and artists have followed in Simonson’s steps, but none have been able to reach the dizzying heights that he sent The God of Thunder to during his run. Not even the Marvel Cinematic Universe will have a chance at equally the massive storyline cooked up by Simonson.