Trench reviews Batman: The Killing Joke

batman-killing-joke

Normally I don’t review things that are bad. I don’t believe in spreading negativity about a project that a creative team probably poured their hearts and souls into. However, The Killing Joke was such an iconic comic that I felt I need to do a review of it that’s not your typical internet nerd hate-fest.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

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Nancy Grace to Leave HLN: Good Riddance

Nancy Grace to Leave HLN: Good Riddance

I’m not exactly sure when my disdain for Nancy Grace started. If I had to hazard a guess I would say it was when the Melinda Duckett incident happened. For those who may not remember, back in 2006 a child by the name of Trenton Duckett went missing. His mother, Melinda, was thought to be a person of interest in his disappearance but no arrest had been made before she appeared on Nancy Grace’s Show. Grace relentlessly hammered at Melinda Duckett asking her where Trenton was. Melinda Duckett broke down on-screen and committed suicide the next day. To this day Trenton has not been found. Grace was sued by Melinda Duckett’s family and the lawsuit was settled back in 2010, but not after Grace sued to keep her deposition in the lawsuit private. I personally thought that Grace should have been charged with interfering in an investigation but my legal knowledge is limited in that aspect.

I guess my distaste for her increased while she was pummeling the American public with her incessant coverage of the Casey Anthony story. To be honest I was even posting about Casey Anthony since there was a MySpace angle to the story at the time, but once psychics and Nancy Grace got involved I stopped. At the time it seemed like I couldn’t go anywhere without hearing Grace droning on about the ‘Tot Mom’. Grace basically took the most negligent woman to ever dare call herself a mother and made her a celebrity.

A few years after the Casey Anthony story broke it became personal between Nancy Grace and myself. In 2008 she appeared on an online call-in show that predated today’s livestreams. I called into the show because I wanted to bring attention to the story of 5-year-old Giovanni Gonzalez from Massachusetts, who disappeared after a weekend with his father. The story received little media attention outside of their local area so I asked Ms. Grace if she would consider it for her show. She asked me for as much information as I could provide and said that she would look into it. While talking to her I felt like I was selling my soul to the devil but I thought it was worth it if it could get national media attention for Giovanni. Giovanni was never featured on her show. Outside of a brief mention on America’s Most Wanted, Giovanni never received any national media attention. One could argue that it may have been because Giovanni didn’t fit the description of Grace’s usual subjects, white, blonde, and female. Much like Trenton Duckett, Giovanni Gonzalez has yet to be found.

Fast forward to 2013 when I was contacted by a producer for the Nancy Grace Show. He asked me if I’d ever consider joining the show to talk about various cases. Even though I think she is everything wrong with crime journalism, not that I’m a journalist by any stretch of the imagination, I had full intentions of selling out if they responded to my acceptance. They never did. I had no delusions of them ever hiring me although if they did I wonder if I would have stayed for the money or would I have eventually ‘dropped the mic’ so to speak.

Now it’s being reported that she’s finally leaving her show at HLN. She’s been quoted as saying…

“I will continue my fight for justice across a variety of traditional and new media, where victims’ voices can reach an entirely engaged audience.”

If I had to hazard a guess, it sounds like she’s going to attempt some kind of online project whether it be through social media or some form of video. If that’s the case it could be the biggest disaster since Geraldo Rivera opened Al Capone’s Vault. The internet has a long memory and a low tolerance for bullshit artists. If her next project is to be online it is doomed to be a short one and we’ll all be better for it.

Trench on the DC Rebirth

Trench on DC Rebirth

***MINOR SPOILERS***

I just wanted to do a quick blog post about DC Comics’ new universe reshuffling called DC Rebirth. I know it’s only been happening for two weeks but I’m really enjoying it so far. It seems that Rebirth is correcting a lot of mistakes that the New 52 created. I mean I still get choked up every time I see Barry Allen pull the original Wally West out of the speed force. It also seems that we’re going to get some good storylines out of the new reboot as well.

I’m also intrigued to see not only how they’re going to bring the Watchmen characters into the main DC Universe but what they’ll do with them once they’re there. I’m not one of those people who thinks that Watchmen is some sacred cow that can’t be built upon. I actually enjoyed a lot of After Watchmen.

So far two of my three wishes for the reboot have already been granted, the original Wally West is back and Ted Kord is alive. Now if only we can get Vic Sage back to being the non-magical Question.

As an aside since DC’s parent company, Warner Brothers, came into ownership of the Hanna-Barbera properties I thought that they could make an interesting comic book universe with such characters as Space Ghost, Birdman and a few others. Not only is DC Comics now doing this with the title Future Quest but they’ve also taken the old Wacky Races cartoon and made it into an adult post-apocalyptic Mad Max style comic.

DC Comics may just start turning things around.

Trench shares his favorite podcasts

Trench shares his favorite podcasts

I’ve been doing some freelance work lately that keeps me glued to my keyboard, because of that I listen to a lot of podcasts. To be downright honest, I’ve been listening to podcasts for years but lately I’ve been listening to a lot more. Mostly I listen to them while working but there are three that I listen to just for pure enjoyment.

In no particular order…

The JuRY Show hosted by Justin Robert Young. You can also watch it on YouTube or livestreamed at Diamondclub.tv on Sunday nights at 7PM PT. I like Justin a lot because he has the ability to see a third side to most stories that a lot of people wouldn’t see. <>

The Rooster Teeth Podcast from the company that brought us Red Vs. Blue. I’m a huge fan of RT for the fact that Burnie Burns started the company in an apartment bedroom before the advent of YouTube and online video. The podcast is very entertaining and funny but very NSFW. You can see it at RoosterTeeth.com or on YouTube and RT Sponsors can watch the livestream Monday nights, among other extras, for $5 a month.

The Weekly Planet podcast hosted by Australia’s own Mr. Sunday Movies and Nick Mason, the official podcast of ComicBookMovie.com. As you may have guessed it’s all about comic book movies. These Aussie lads do not have the usual nerd outrage when reviewing and discussing comic book movies and shows. They may agree with the nerd outrage but they don’t take it too seriously. No livestream that I know of but the show comes out Mondays in the US and is also available on YouTube. Mr. Sunday Movies also has some other great commentary videos on his YouTube channel as well.

I’m always on the lookout for new podcasts. If you have a favorite podcast that you think I may like please leave it in the comments.

Trench on Captain America being an alleged nazi

Trench on Captain America being a nazi
Spoilers!

In case you haven’t heard by now at the end of Marvel’s new comic Steve Rogers: Captain America #1 it’s revealed in the very last panel that Cap is supposedly an agent of Hydra. The series’ writer has even gone on record as saying, he’s not mind controlled, he’s not a Skrull, he is Steve Rogers. Personally I thought it was a great reveal and I’m looking forward to see where the story goes from here. I haven’t been this excited for a Captain America storyline since the USAgent days.

On the other hand, the collective internet nerd outrage machine knee jerked all over this issue and said “How dare they make Cap into a nazi.” For those of you not familiar with Hydra they are a spy organization that was started under the Red Skull during WW II. In Marvel continuity the Red Skull was one of Hitler’s closest advisers, hence the Hydra-nazi connection.

To those people I would like to give a collective ‘Get Over Yourselves’. First off it’s a comic book. Yes, I enjoy them too but in the grand scheme of things they’re not all that important. Secondly, you have no idea what the creative team has planned. For all you know they could have a brilliant story arc planned for us that may have the greatest conclusion to it of all time. Next, what Marvel superhero hasn’t had his or her ‘dark’ phase? As they say in professional wrestling it’s hard to name a wrestler who was a face, or good guy, his entire career. Ricky Steamboat was but I digress. Lastly, do you honestly think that Marvel is really going to throw away 75 years of Cap’s history by making him a ‘secret nazi’? Who do you think is making this, DC Comics?

So relax internet and let the story unfold before dumping all over it. I know that’s not what the internet does but it was worth a shot.

Speaking of DC Comics you really should pick up DC Rebirth #1. It will get all that bad Hydra taste out of your mouth.

Trench Reviews Stardew Valley

The Reynolds Ranch
The Reynolds Ranch

I can’t recommend Stardew Valley enough, If you’re an old-time gamer like myself or you appreciate retro-style games then this game is for you. It is very reminiscent of the 16-32 bit era games. To me it reminds me of all the best minigames from Suikodens II and V, my favorite games of all time, then throws in just enough of Minecraft and a little Zelda-like dungeon crawling and you have yourself a great PC game. Granted it is technically a farming simulator but it has such great RPG elements that I’ve already sunk 50 hours easily into this game and I’m only 2/3 of the way through. In my opinion this is how games should be. No DLC, no micro-transactions and no online play, just a complete game at purchase.

Speaking of purchase at $15 this game is more than a steal. I personally recommend picking it up at GOG however if you want to help my site out think about buying a Steam Gift Card from Amazon. (Sponsored link)

Stardew Valley gets the full 5 fedoras out of 5.

Six Degrees of Dio: David Bowie

bowie

I was never a huge fan of David Bowie. In my formative years ‘Let’s Dance’ was played on the radio and MTV ad nauseam. That’s not to say I didn’t recognize how talented of a person he is. With his recent unfortunate passing (fuck cancer again) I thought I’d challenge myself to see if I can connect David Bowie to Ronnie James Dio in the style of the Kevin Bacon game.

I thought going through Trent Reznor, since he appeared on ‘I’m Afraid of Americans’, would be the easiest path considering his musical style was the closest thing to metal I could find concerning Bowie. However it was Mick Jagger that led me on the true path.

Of course David Bowie did ‘Dancing In The Streets’ with Mick Jagger. Jeff Beck has appeared on a couple of Mick Jagger solo albums. Jeff Beck appeared on Brian May’s solo album ‘Another World’. Brian May played on the Black Sabbath album ‘Headless Cross’ with Tony Iommi. And of course Tony was in Sabbath/Heaven and Hell with Dio. After I posted this I realized I can go straight from David Bowie to Brian May since they both performed on ‘Under Pressure’ then to Tony Iommi then to Ronnie James Dio.

Here is the aforementioned Trent Reznor with David Bowie in ‘I’m Afraid of Americans’.

If there’s a band or musician you’d like to see featured please leave a comment below.

Six Degrees of Dio: Motörhead

motorhead1916

I can’t believe it’s almost been a year since I’ve done one of these. I’m really bad at doing regularly scheduled features.

Anyway with the recent passing of rock god Lemmy I thought it was time to dust off this concept and feature this seminal rock band.

I actually didn’t get into Motörhead until the early 90’s. I was aware of albums like Iron Fist, Ace of Spades and Orgasmatron but for some reason I just never picked them up. Then in 1991 my girlfriend at the time bought me 1916 which is still my personal favorite Motörhead album of all time.

Not surprisingly the trip from Motörhead to Dio is a short one as Lemmy co-wrote a number of songs on the Ozzy Osbourne album ‘No More Tears’ which inevitably leads us to the Ozzy to Sabbath to Dio connection.

Here is Motörhead with my favorite song off of 1916, Nightmare/The Dreamtime.

Unfortunately the other thing that they have in common is that these immense talents both played up until the time they were both claimed by cancer. Fuck cancer.

lemmydio

All hail their names. \m/

If there’s a band you’d like to see featured please leave a comment below.

Making a Murderer isn’t as accurate as you think

making-a-murderer

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A series of documentaries are made about a brutal murder that cast doubt on the guilt of the convicted. In its wake an online community springs up calling for the convicted’s exoneration. Sound familiar? If you’ve been following my site for any length of time you may think that I would be taking about Damien Echols of the infamous West Memphis 3. Normally you’d be right but this time I’m talking about Steven Avery and the Netflix documentary series ‘Making a Murderer’. It seems to be causing me a lot of deja vu.

Steven Avery served 18 years in prison for a rape for which he was later exonerated for due to DNA evidence. Two years later he was arrested and later convicted of brutally murdering 25-year-old photographer Teresa Halbach. The documentary supposes that Avery was framed by police looking for revenge since he beat the rape charges. The investigators and prosecutors in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin are portrayed as bumbling rednecks who were willing to pin the case on Avery so they could close the case quickly. Again if that sounds familiar it’s because it’s the same tactic used in the Paradise Lost series of documentaries. Also as with Paradise Lost outcries of injustice have gone up all across the internet calling for the pardoning of Avery.

Paradise Lost and Making a Murderer have one other thing in common. Not all the facts were presented in either documentary. Here is a great article about a lot of the information that was left out of the series. I’m going to post just a sample…

— The documentary said that part of Avery’s criminal past included animal cruelty. To my recollection, it didn’t specify exactly what that animal cruelty was. I know that for some of our readers, knowing is enough to want to see Avery get the death sentence regardless of whether he murdered Halbach: He doused a cat in oil and threw it on a bonfire (this is not relevant to the murder trial, but it certainly diminishes the sympathy some of us felt for him).

— In the months leading up to Halbach’s disappearance, Avery had called Auto Trader several times and always specifically requested Halbach to come out and take the photos.

— On the day that Halbach went missing, Avery had called her three times, twice from a *67 number to hide his identity.

— The bullet with Halbach’s DNA on it came from Avery’s gun, which always hung above his bed.

The problem with documentaries like this is three-fold. The first is that they’re designed to prey on emotion rather than logic. Why else would people take to making harassing phone calls to the Manitowoc County Sheriffs Department? I wonder how long it will be before they start harassing the victim’s family. The second is that they usually start with their desired outcome first and work their way backwards to have the narrative try to fit their objective. Lastly it’s very rare for a documentary to be made where the filmmakers say “yep, he did it’ unless it was about a hard to catch serial killer like Ted Bundy or David Berkowitz. That’s not even to mention that a lot of these ‘convicted criminal is really innocent’ stories that are run in places like network news magazine shows almost all of the time the criminals are actually guilty.

Another point I’d like to make is that it’s not unheard of for someone to be exonerated of one crime only to commit another. For example Joseph “Shabaka” Brown was hours away from being executed before being exonerated for rape and murder. He was arrested in 2012 for murdering his wife. Brown pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 15 to 18 years.

My final thought on this for now is that there seems to be one person missing being talked about in all this and that’s the victim, Teresa Halbach. Her family has stated that “they were saddened to learn that individuals and corporations continue to create entertainment and to seek profit from their loss.”

Teresa Halbach
Teresa Halbach

Steven Avery is guilty. To think otherwise is to deny justice for Teresa Halbach no matter how ‘entertaining’ a documentary may be.