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Gregg’s Tremendously Tantalizing Top 10 Films of 2019

This list had me worried at the end of the summer.  It was rather sparse and I wondered if, for the first time, I wouldn’t have a sufficiently laid out list of top ten films on the year.  Once autumn arrived, however, movies started surfacing in theaters that would largely construct the upper half of the list below.  While I did miss out on Knives Out and Uncut Gems, I did manage to sneak in the Jumanji sequel at the end.  Funny and fun, yes.  As good as its predecessor, no.  Thus, those are three movies not on the list.  With that being said, there were plenty of others to pull from in the pool of 40+ films I experienced at the theater in 2019. Before we get to the ten on my list, here are some films that stood out in one form or another.  I laughed, I cried, I fell asleep.  We covered the emotional spectrum in films released this year.

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The Best Comics of 2019

I do long for the days of Robert Venditti writing X-O Manowar.  I also miss the ongoing Vader series dearly.  Alas, all good things must come to an end, but fear not!  Each year the comic book industry provides new surprises as well as continuity of greatness.  In addition, it is important to mention the case of two landmark achievements in 2019.  Both the series Detective Comics and Marvel Comics each reached their 1,000th issue this year and both were done very differently.  The former was a collection of short Batman stories, while the latter was a massive collection of one-page stories ranging from Daredevil to Darth Vader.  Personally, I found nothing to be gained by a story contained on a single page, but to each their own.  Enough talk, onto the awards!

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‘The Rise of Kylo Ren’ Debuts on Heels of ‘Rise of Skywalker’

The timing of Marvel’s latest comic book mini-series is certainly no coincidence. As anyone who lives near a TV, computer or other human may know, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker debuted in theaters this past week. Coming out the same exact day was issue one of four of The Rise of Kylo Ren. The series is written by the very talented Charles Soule, who is known for penning other Marvel titles such as Star Wars, the second Darth Vader series, Lando as well as Obi Wan & Anakin. If you wanted answers that weren’t given to you in the new film trilogy, The Rise of Kylo Ren should be your medicine.

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‘Superman: Red Son’ Flying to 4K and Blu-ray This March!

One of the most heralded comic book mini-series turned graphic novel, Superman: Red Son will make a grand entrance to standard and 4K Blu-ray this March! Originally released as a three-issue series in 2011 from Mark Millar (Kick Ass, Chrononauts), this iteration of the Man of Steel retells the tale of Krypton’s last son landing as an infant not in Kansas, but the Soviet Union. The concept itself opens a whole plethora of paths the story could go and Millar masterfully conducted all of it to satisfying cohesion. Now that the story jumps from the pages of the book onto various high-def home formats.

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Gregg’s Top 10 Blu-rays of 2019

Happy Holiday, folks! This time of year means the WSB staff opens the floodgates on their top 10’s. While I didn’t experience the treasure trove of films in the theater this year I had hoped for (by quality, not amount), the list of quality Blu-rays was lengthy, but alas, narrow it to ten we must. I did finally experience what WSB-founder Blu-ray Brian has been stating for some time now about Disney Blu-rays. While I absolutely loved Captain Marvel as a film, the audio on its Blu-ray release was incredibly mundane and severely disappointing. Shame on you, Disney. Off the list it went. Rest assured, however, there were plenty of titles clamoring to make our lists and while Captain Marvel on disc was left in the dust, there is more than enough entertainment to fill out ten impressive releases.

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Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (PS4 Review)

“It will be a day-long remembered.” While Darth Vader can be quoted as saying that, I want to borrow it for the recent release of the latest Star Wars game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order from EA. When attending Star Wars Celebration this past April in Chicago, I had the privilege of attending the live panel discussing the game. It is, after all, Star Wars, so it’s going to have that massive attention right there. On top of that, fans of the franchise have wanted a solo player game for ages. The last Star Wars title I can remember that fit the bill was Force Unleashed II and that was nearly a decade ago. Games like the recent Battlefront and Battlefront II had single-player scenarios, but those titles are online multi-players more than anything. Ask, and you shall receive, though, as we now have the solo Star Wars game we have been after. Now that it has been out slightly over a week, here’s a look at Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

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‘Coin’ Spends Talent on Great Music

A few months ago I wrote about Fitz & the Tantrum’s new album and how I discovered this impending release after seeing them live this past summer. The band that had opened for them was a group out of Nashville called Coin. I was already an established Fitz fan, but Coin was previously an unknown ensemble to me. That evening certainly changed a few things in my musical world.

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DC Delivers ‘Year of the Villain: The Joker’

DC has been releasing one-shot issues of various villains throughout 2019, each a single tale dedicated to one baddie. All going under the heading Year of the Villain, we have thus far been graced with issues covering the Riddler, Black Adam, Sinestro, Black Mask and Lex Luthor. The latest addition to this doom-dealing lineup is none other than the most popular DC villain, the Joker. Hot on the heels of the successful motion picture of everyone’s favorite clown (sorry, Pennywise), we go back to the ink and paper roots for Batman’s arch nemesis.

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Fitz and the Tantrums has ‘All the Feels’ …Or Does It?

It’s been a week since I’ve had a chance to digest All the Feels, the latest release from Fitz and the Tantrums, which is the band’s fourth studio album. I’ve been a mild fan of them for the better part of five years now and finally got to see them live this past summer when I definitely got the Fitz fever. Without question, they put on one of my favorite performances I have had the privilege to experience in person. Their energy is infectious, but does this latest recording bring that same positive punch?

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Manor Black + Dark Horse = Shadowy Goodness

At the end of July, Dark Horse Comics released issue #1 of a mini-series that made its debut with little fanfare. Manor Black came out on July 31st and holds this aura of a small independent film in the sense that it may not have widespread notoriety, but it serves up one very engaging story. Written by Cullen Bunn (Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe) and Brian Hurtt (The Damned), and its eerie visual tone courtesy of Tyler Crook (Harrow County), the four-issue tale is currently halfway through its release, but what is Manor Black all about?

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The Case of the Disappearing Drive-In

When I think of a drive-in movie theater, I used to often associate the image with the 1950’s and 60’s. Perhaps I’d mentally throw in a scene of a young couple watching The Blob while the young varsity jacket-wearing student would try and steal a kiss from his date. Such establishments serve as significant nostalgia for many in the U.S. The truth is, many of these have long since closed, going the way of the dodo. Heck, you’d have a better chance of finding a waitress on roller skates today than you would a drive-in movie theater.

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Super Blood Hockey (PS4 Game Review)

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love football, but I’m nuts about hockey. I’ll watch the sport at nearly any level, high school to pros, and enjoy every minute of it. When it comes to hockey in video games, Blades of Steel for the NES was an absolutely awesome game. Even today, that game still holds a special place for me. Sure, EA’s NHL series is the most accurate hockey simulation you’re going to play, but there’s something special about those arcade style games where you can throw every bit of reality out the window. Welcome to Super Blood Hockey.

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Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Mash-ups can be a slippery slope. It’s certainly not a new concept as I’ve been a fan of them since the early 90’s when I read Magnus: Robot Fighter vs. Predator, courtesy of Valiant and Dark Horse. That mini-series was, at least at the moment, exceptional. I haven’t revisited it since so who knows if it stood the test of time, but I digress. Others, like Robocop vs. Terminator, have been less memorable, though the title alone was enough to draw me in. In December 2015, another epic-sounding mash-up in comics arrived in the form of Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The series proved to be an entertaining read that has since spawned two sequel mini-series, the latter of which, Batman vs. TMNT III, is ongoing as we speak. However, if that wasn’t enough to whet your Dark Knight/reptilian ninjutsu palette, then certainly a feature-length animated film would be.

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Savage Avengers Makes Debut

Like Endgame or not, there is definitely a Marvel high that’s wafting through the air right now. Entering its second weekend, the final Avengers movie will, without question, continue to behave like a financial behemoth. Although this is the end for the super team, it’s certainly not the end for all things Avengers. New to comic book stores this month is a fresh take on the group, dubbed Savage Avengers! Issue #1 came out on May 1st and I had the privilege of feasting my eyes on it earlier today.

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A Legend Lost – Peter Mayhew Dies at 74

Farewell, Chewie. News broke today that the original actor who played everyone’s favorite Wookie passed away on April 30th. Peter Mayhew was 74 and died at his Texas home surrounded by family. Also an author, Mayhew was of course best known for playing rebel hero Chewbacca, famed sidekick of Han Solo. The 7’2″ actor filled a unique niche during filming of the original Star Wars movie in 1976 donning what looked to many then as a Bigfoot-esque costume who would be fighting for the good guys.

 

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Detective Comics Issue #1000

It has been a long time in coming, about 80 years to give you an idea. That is no coincidence either. This year marks the 80th birthday of arguably the second most famous super hero in the world; Batman. While Action Comics got its start in 1938 and featured everybody’s favorite Kryptonian, it actually arrived more than a year after the debut issue of Detective Comics. However, that’s not to say Batman is older than Superman as far as publications go.  On the contrary, the Caped Crusader arrived in 1939, courtesy of writer Bill Finger and artist Bob Kane.  Fast-forward eight decades and it’s time to honor one of the greatest comic book characters around.

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‘Hotel Mumbai’ Delivers Intensity (Movie Review)

In 2008, a small but potent group of terrorists launched a well-coordinated, multi-wave attack on specific targets within the Indian city of Mumbai. The horrific events took place within a period lasting from November 26th to the 29th. This past weekend, the 123-minute feature film titled Hotel Mumbai, which retells those moments of those awful three days, had its national release. Starring Slumdog Millionaire lead, Dev Patel, along with Anupam Kher, Armie Hammer, Jason Isaacs, and the insanely beautiful Nazanin Boniadi.

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Batman vs. TMNT Coming to 4K Ultra HD!

In December of 2015, DC and IDW crossed paths in the form Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles making a most unlikely alliance to fight their respective ways back home. Almost two years to the date later, the heroes of five grouped together once more in another six-issue comic book mini-series. Strap on your shells, folks, because another meeting of these iconic crime fighters is about to go down, this time on Ultra 4K Blu-ray!

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