Super Bowl LVIII Reaction – Commercials and Trailers

Super Bowl LVIII Reaction – Commercials and Trailers

Well, the latest season of NFL football is over. It has been quite the spectacle and veered closer into the Pop Culture atmosphere than it has in recent years. With the Kansas City Chiefs defeating the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime, there is no way you can say this season was not filled with drama.

Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift. PHOTO: EZRA SHAW/GETTY

Much of the added attention had to do with the intersection of music and sports with the very public romantic relationship between Kansas City Chiefs tight-end Travis Kelce and mega pop star Taylor Swift. Swift’s presence anywhere generates buzz, and this season, her travels to support her boyfriend and the camera time that she received on NFL broadcasts were the cause of a buzz that rivaled the rumble of a 747 on takeoff. A lot of the noise was generated by those same folks who were upset that a quarterback had an opinion and kneeled to protesting police brutality. For many of us, the apoplectic reaction to a woman attending a football game to support her romantic partner was gloriously rewarding karma.

The Super Bowl is the ultimate showcase for new advertisements and film trailer releases, and this year despite prices around seven million dollars for thirty second ads, plenty of companies and organizations plunked down their cash to try to ride the Taylor wave of football viewership. Let’s breakdown what we saw.

PSAs – Hit or Miss

There were a bunch of spots during the game that were not trying to sell anything at all. Some Public Service Announcements were well done, and some were head scratching to say the least. On the positive side, there was a body positivity ad sponsored by Dove and a couple of anti-bullying promos staring NFL players as well as a PSA calling attention to homelessness and another calling for people to stand up to hate. Continue reading “Super Bowl LVIII Reaction – Commercials and Trailers”

New Number Ones: New Comics Series and Specials Coming for the Week of 2/7/2024

New Number Ones: New Comics Series and Specials Coming for the Week of 2/7/2024

Welcome to the New Number Ones!

Each week we bring you the list of new series and special editions coming this week. We are highlighting what you need to put in your cart at the comic shop or digital marketplace.

We have an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from the publishers of some of the cool new comics that are coming out this week. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you about the new comics in question.

February is upon us and this is the time of year that comics turn to thoughts of romance. The One-Shots and Specials section is loaded with Valentine’s Day Specials. We have books on this week’s list from: DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Boom! Studios, Dynamite Entertainment, Titan Books, AWA Studios, Archie Comics, IDW Publishing, and Image Comics.

We will bring you reviews of these debut issues as they come out, and don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know what you think of this list.

New Series
New One-Shots and Special Editions


New Series This Week 


Dark Souls: The Willow King #1
Titan Books
Written by George Mann
Art by Maan House
Cover Art by Stephanie Hans

FALLEN DECAYING WORLD OF DARK SOULS WITH AN ALL-NEW TITAN COMICS SERIES!

The mighty king USTRAD OF UTHREL linked the flame, after his servant Herad failed and was consumed by the fire, reduced to ashes. Now, the time has come to link the fire again, but Ustrad now refuses to do his duty to his kingdom. HERAD, resurrected as unkindled, returns to unite three mighty warriors to venture into the WILLOW KING’S domain, and do what needs to be done.

Release Date: February 7, 2024

PCS NOTES: Man! This looks like a pretty cool horror adventure book.


Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Return #1
Boom! Studios
Written by Amy Jo Johnson & Matt Hotson
Art by Nico Leon
Cover Art by Goñi Montes

In an alternate universe, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers finally defeated Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd, but at a terrible cost… In the wake of tragedy, the team went their separate ways.

22 years later, the long-disbanded team reunites to mourn the losses of beloved friends, but Zack and Billy have some unexpected information to share-Jason, the Red Ranger, has been operating as a lone vigilante, and has since disappeared.

Will the remaining Rangers be able to track him down, especially with a mysterious figure in pursuit?

Written by actress, screenwriter, and director Amy Jo Johnson, the original Pink Ranger herself, along with rising star co-writer Matt Hotson (Titans) and renowned artist Nico Leon (Spider-Man, Catwoman), fans can experience something unlike anything they ever have before in the Power Rangers universe, in TV or comics!

Release Date: February 7, 2024

PCS NOTES: I am super happy to see Amy Jo Johnson diving into other mediums with this franchise. Continue reading “New Number Ones: New Comics Series and Specials Coming for the Week of 2/7/2024”

With Further Ado #285: American History Comics -without the comics (kind of)

With Further Ado #285: American History Comics -without the comics (kind of)

I’m fascinated and impressed by America Redux: Visual Stories from Our Dynamic History by Ariel Aberg-Riger. This one took me by surprise – it’s a series of short stories each focusing on an event, or topic, from various points in American history.

It’s told visually, but not will illustrations, as is so familiar (and expected) to comic fans like me. Instead, each segment comes to life in clever “collage-y” and lettered pages.

The collages are clever – photographs, old maps, documents and graphic design. And lettering would certainly not be approved by someone like Todd Klein. It’s rough and uneven, but somehow it lends the homegrown feel of it all. Continue reading “With Further Ado #285: American History Comics -without the comics (kind of)”

Brainiac On Banjo: Our Revolutionary Rock God

Brainiac On Banjo: Our Revolutionary Rock God

The place was the scene of some kind of horrible crime; another postal worker had lost his mind. Couldn’t stand the tension, lost his pension, afraid of growing old out in the cold, no one to hold. As he did his stalking, that Glock did his talking, he settled the score up and down the floor. SWAT team sniper caught him at the door. The mailman put in a fresh clip, turned and slipped through a crack in the universe. “A Crack in the Universe” written by Wayne Kramer.

If America had only one musical Mecca — and we have about a dozen — that one place would be Detroit, Michigan.

Among the many talents who get their start or made their bones in Detroit, in politically-correct alphabetical order (more or less): Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, George Clinton, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, Bootsy Collins, Alice Coltrane, Alice Cooper, Marshall Crenshaw, Eminem, Aretha Franklin, The Four Tops, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Glenn Frey, Marvin Gaye, Grand Funk Railroad, Bill Haley, John Lee Hooker, Tommy James and the Shondells, Yusef Lateef, Little Willie John, Martha and the Vandellas, MC5, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Phil Ochs, Parliament-Funkadelic, Wilson Pickett, Iggy Pop, Suzi Quatro, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Bob Seger, Del Shannon, Patti Smith, Edwin Starr, The Stooges, The Supremes, The Temptations, Sippie Wallace, The White Stripes, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Jackie Wilson, Stevie Wonder…

The MC5. Photo by Leni Sinclair

…to name but a very, very few. I could triple this list without looking at the internet; the total would run longer than the entire roll-call for The Avengers. If there’s anybody above with whom you might not be familiar — that’s why we’ve got search engines. It’s worth the effort.

I’m not going to play the “who’s best / who’s most important game” because it’s childish, stupid, deceiving and totally irrelevant. My guess is that your AI-based streaming service devotes an incredible percentage of its playlists on these Detroit performers. But I will note the efforts of Wayne Kramer, frontman for the revolutionary hard-rock group The MC5. Their stuff was to the point, it encouraged not only awareness but action, and by today’s standards some of the least woke stuff engraved in wax since “Barnacle Bill.” Don’t mention this to the MAGA Party; it’ll destroy their tiny little minds.

Ahh, screw it. Tell them anyway. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Our Revolutionary Rock God”

With Further Ado #284: Up, Up, and Away! So long, Sid Friedfertig

With Further Ado #284: Up, Up, and Away! So long, Sid Friedfertig

It with great sadness that I reflect on the passing of my pal, Sid Friedfertig, who died on December 30th in Brooklyn at age 69. Sid was the man behind preserving a special bit of comics history – the daily Superman newspaper strips. Partnering with the American Library of Comics and IDW Publishing, Sid worked to publish these strips in beautiful hardcover collections.

It was honor to invite Sid to exhibit, and lecture, at recent ITHACON comic conventions. He was gentleman and a professional – always kind and patient with fans at his booth. And when on panels, he was informative and upbeat; never stuffy.

Every year at ITHACON I’d buy one more volume of this superb series – and ask him to autograph it, of course. ITHACON is a wonderful event, but for me, it will shine just little less brightly this year. Fandom will be just a little bit dimmer with the loss of this hard-working comics historian.

So long, Sid. It was great to know you – all too briefly. And thanks for being a great guy, a great father and an outstanding Superman Fan.

For this week’s column, I’d like to re-present an interview that I had the pleasure of conducing with Sid a few years ago.

With Further Ado #39: Look! Up in the Newspaper – A Super Interview with Sid Friedfertig
Originally published April 24, 2019

The irony of a reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper appearing in the funny pages of a great metropolitan newspapers, and quite a few rural newspapers, is not lost on me.

Superman in comics, in the movies, on TV or the in the newspaper inspires the best in us. I had the pleasure of catching up with entrepreneur and super-fan, Sid Friedfertig, at the 44th annual Ithacon and it was a such a treat. He’s a guy with great passion inspired by Superman. Through his Herculean efforts (or should I say “Kryptonian efforts”?) , fans can enjoy so many lost Superman adventures – and rediscover old adventures in longer stories with better, but still vintage, art! “What is this?”, you say? Well, read on and enjoy my chat with Sid Freidfertig:

Ed Catto: Can you tell me why you are such a Superman fan, and why do you feel Superman is so enduring?

Sid Friedfertig: Superman endures because he is unique. With every other costumed hero the plots must be crafted so the hero’s ability is able to counter the menace facing him. Superman is the reverse, he is the All-Good, the ideal. To me that makes him more interesting.

EC: How did you get hooked on the Silver Age Superman, and how did you develop such an interest in the Superman Newspaper Strips?

SF: I grew up reading the Silver Age Superman comic books, which featured covers mostly drawn by Curt Swan, while at the same time watching the Adventures of Superman TV series. George Reeves was Swan’s Clark Kent come to life. Sometimes though, the story inside the comics was drawn by another artist. I wanted to see Swan’s artwork that went with those glorious covers. Later I realized that Swan had drawn those same stories for the Superman newspaper strip. Here were the stories that went with those covers, and I decided that I was going to find all of them.

EC: I love how you partnered with IDW for this effort. Can you tell me a little about the relationship?

SF: I own the only known collection of Superman newspaper strips. I knew that fans had been for years demanding from DC that these stories be reprinted but DC did not have them. Due to a decision that is lost to history DC published the strips once then threw them away. No copies were made, no individual titles were recorded, we don’t even have an accurate list of which newspapers carried the strip in its final years, so I created a website to showcase my collection; it received a great deal of attention. IDW approached me and we have been working together ever since. They have a wonderful imprint called The Library of American Comics, headed by Dean Mullaney, whose aim is to publish as many lost American comic strips as is possible, not only Superman.

EC: How many books in the series do you have out now, and what’s coming up next?

SF: IDW picked up in 1943 where Kitchen Sink Press left off. In the late 1990’s they reprinted the first three years of dailies and Sundays. Each dailies volume covers 2 to 2 ½ years of episodes. The final Golden Age volume will be in stores in May. Next year we will enter the Atomic Age of comic strips after which comes the one I am looking forward to most, the final book in the series, the beginning of the Cambrian explosion of creativity also known as the Silver Age.

EC: The covers to these books are wonderful! How are they designed?

SF: The beautiful covers, front and reverse, were drawn by the great Pete Poplaski. Lorraine Turner designs all the books. I think each cover conveys the lighthearted spirit that permeated 60’s comics.

EC: What makes these Superman Newspaper Strips so special, and why should Superman fans read them?

SF: If you love Silver Age Superman stories that appeared in the comics, you will love these books. Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel was rehired by DC to transform scripts written for the comic books into strip format. The added length of the strip versions allowed Siegel to give the stories more depth and characterization than their comic doppelgangers. These strips were Siegel’s last Superman work and in my opinion the best work of his life.

EC: You recently were a guest at ITHACON. What was that like? Were there any surprises there?

SF: I loved attending Ithacon. The only surprise was how appreciative of my efforts were the comics professionals in attendance. It was very fulfilling.

EC: These newspaper strips have so many familiar supporting characters. Did they also introduce new characters or narrative elements to the Superman mythology?

SF: Because the comic books have a longer lead-time than the dailies, several episodes appeared in the strips first. As a result, the first appearance of arch foes Brainiac, Bizarro, Metallo, and Mr. Myxptlk occurred in the strips. Supporting characters like lovely Lyla Lerrol also made their debuts in the strips.

EC: Which creators worked on these strips and who do you feel delivered the best work?

SF: Wayne Boring was so adept at drawing the Superman strip that he drew both dailies and Sundays for a time and he remained on the Sunday strip for a quarter of a century. But the most fulfilling part of my journey has been publishing Jerry Siegel’s final Superman work that had been lost for over half a century.

EC: What’s your favorite Superman Newspaper adventure and why?

SF: Siegel’s story ‘Superman’s Return To Krypton’ is my favorite. In the comics, it appeared as a full-length novel, which means the single story occupied the entire comic book. When Siegel wrote the newspaper version he told the same story using about 50% additional panels giving the story great depth. The interaction of Superman and his doomed parents achieves great poignancy, those scenes always break my heart.

EC: Thanks so very much for your time and for all your efforts, Sid.

 

 

Brainiac On Banjo: Deep Fakes Ghosting On An Open Liar

Brainiac On Banjo: Deep Fakes Ghosting On An Open Liar

I’m a substitute for another guy. I look pretty tall but my heels are high. The simple things you see are all complicated. I look bloody young, but I’m just back dated. — “Substitute,” written by Pete Townshend.

Is artificial intelligence a good thing or a bad thing?

Perhaps you’ve noticed a recent upsurge in pro-AI marketing and advertising. Damn near very web browser is now toting their AI capabilities, joining a hell of a lot of other software manufacturers in their braggadocio. I’m not just talking about computers: if you think about it every microchip is a computer. Your car is a computer. Your smart-television is a computer. Robots of all sorts are computers, and it seems like every damn one of them have started bragging about their artificial intelligence.

Unlike commercials for gambling apps or alcohol products, there’s no disclaimer at the bottom of AI product ads suggesting you to not use their product for fraud or for theft of intellectual property or for defaming your fellow human beings.

The morass of software developers, or, to be specific, their marketing departments have started screaming about the virtues of something we have been using for decades but, now, can be deployed for grand theft… to steal even your work. So, they want to distract us from their dark side the way gun manufacturers con us about the need for assault rifles on a hunting excursion. You can never tell when a pack of godless communists might be hiding behind that wounded doe. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Deep Fakes Ghosting On An Open Liar”

With Further Ado #283: Calling a Spade a Spade…, or Bonjour, Monsieur Spade

With Further Ado #283: Calling a Spade a Spade…, or Bonjour, Monsieur Spade

The Maltese Falcon (1941) is one of my favorite movies and, in some ways, it led the way for an entire genre. Or two. Film noir and hard-boiled detective novels owe a lot to this picture’s enduring charm.

It is, if I were to oversimply, private eye Sam Spade’s greatest adventure. So much so that the public has been enthralled with similar characters and mystery stories for 80 plus years. Hollywood had tried to make this movie, based on the 1930 pulp novel, twice before, but the third time was a charm. John Houston was the director and Humphrey Bogart, as Spade, was surrounded by top-notch actors.

(The villain was played by Sidney Greenstreet – in his very first film role at age 61!)

Spade was one of those early wisecracking detectives who were clever, relentless and followed his own moral compass.

Here’s how creator/author Dashiell Hammett described the enduring character:

Spade has no original. He is a dream man in the sense that he is what most of the private detectives I worked with would like to have been and in their cockier moments thought they approached. For your private detective does not — or did not ten years ago when he was my colleague — want to be an erudite solver of riddles in the Sherlock Holmes manner; he wants to be a hard and shifty fellow, able to take care of himself in any situation, able to get the best of anybody he comes in contact with, whether criminal, innocent by-stander or client.

Continue reading “With Further Ado #283: Calling a Spade a Spade…, or Bonjour, Monsieur Spade”

New Number Ones: New Comics Series and Specials Coming for the Week of 1/24/2024

New Number Ones: New Comics Series and Specials Coming for the Week of 1/24/2024

Welcome to the New Number Ones!

Each week we bring you the list of new series and special editions coming this week. We are highlighting what you need to put in your cart at the comic shop or digital marketplace.

We have an alphabetical list with cover art and the official solicitation text from the publishers of some of the cool new comics that are coming out this week. Check below for our PCS NOTES to find out what we just have to tell you about the new comics in question.

This is the forth week of the month, but get ready because we have a five-Wednesday month to start the year. We have books on this week’s list from: DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Dynamite Entertainment, Mad Cave Studios, Massive Publishing, IDW Publishing, and Image Comics.

We will bring you reviews of these debut issues as they come out, and don’t forget to use the comments section to let us know what you think of this list.

New Series
New One-Shots and Special Editions


New Series This Week 


Crashdown #1
Massive Publishing
Written by Tom Garcia & Ryan Sargeant
Art by Ben Templesmith
Cover Art by Templesmith

Cover by series artist Ben Templesmith, known for his work with IDW, Image, Oni Press, Dark Horse, and more.

Tom Garcia and Ryan Sargeant, the hosts of the Comic Tom 101 YouTube Channel with over 12 million views, team up with legendary horror artist BEN TEMPLESMITH (30 Days of Night) for this three-issue story of suspense and survival.

Equal parts Lost and Alien, with a Lovecraftian twist, Crashdown delivers a dark vision of our world’s final days.

The Earth is dead. Humanity’s last hope is the distant planet EMPYREAN and the ship full of colonists ready to repopulate our civilization. But what happens when their new home doesn’t want them there and it fights back?

Release Date: January 24, 2024

PCS NOTES: Massive Publishing is starting to deliver some consistently good content and we are interested in checking this one out.


Deer Editor #1
Mad Cave Studios
Written by Ryan K. Lindsay
Art by Sami Kivela & Lauren Affe
Letters by Jim Campbell
Cover Art by Kivëla

A John Doe slaying lures a journalist into a world of political intrigue, a wi-fi-enabled grotto, and a station locker full of secrets. For Bucky, an editor of the crime beat at “The Truth,” it’s all in a day’s work…

…but he also happens to be a deer.

Will he chase down his last story in this antler noir series? Deer Editor is perfect for fans of Blacksaad and Chinatown.

Release Date: January 24, 2024

PCS NOTES: We have long been a fan of Sami Kivëla and look forward to this bizarre-ish tale. Continue reading “New Number Ones: New Comics Series and Specials Coming for the Week of 1/24/2024”

Brainiac On Banjo: The Ultimate Reprise?

Brainiac On Banjo: The Ultimate Reprise?

Is he strong? Listen bud, he’s got radioactive blood. Can he swing from a thread? Take a look overhead. Hey, there goes the Spider-Man! “Spider-Man” written by Bob Harris and Paul Francis Webster.

As is our want, my dear friend and editor Bob Harrison asked me if I had read this year’s version of Ultimate Spider-Man #1. I said I hadn’t, and I felt the last thing this particular Earth needs is still another Spider-Man book. Bob is a family man without sufficient time to debate me on this; he knows my position on this sort of thing because it’s his job to read my stuff here at Pop Culture Squad, so his simply said “Well, you should. It’s very good, and Jonathan Hickman wrote it.”

Bob’s never steered me wrong and, yes, I really like Hickman’s stuff. I haven’t read all that much of it lately as I haven’t followed the sundry X-Mens since they became, much like Russian nesting dolls, the first comic book franchise to spawn its own massively incestuous comic book franchise. That was around 1983. Had I been more observant, I might have had a similar reaction to The Killing Joke.

Like the word “unique,” the word “ultimate” is an absolute. One thing cannot be more ultimate than another. Ultimate is the top of the peak, and grammatically speaking there isn’t room up there for another. Yet we’ve had more Ultimate Spider-Man #1s in the past few years than we’ve had Doctor Strange #1s in the past few weeks. Is this new Ultimate even Ultimater? Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: The Ultimate Reprise?”

With Further Ado #282: Here Come the CRANIACS!

With Further Ado #282: Here Come the CRANIACS!

I met Ira Friedman years ago when my friend Steve Rotterdam and I were working hard to build Bonfire Agency. Topps was just the type of company that was perfect for our emerging agency.

Ira had a vision and a plan for all his various projects, but I recognized him from the old Topps line of comics. I loved so many of their titles back then, Zorro, the Lone Ranger, Jurrasic Park, Mars Attacks, the Kirby titles… There were so many cool things going on.

Ira Friedman enjoyed a long and healthy career at Topps. Not many folks can boast that they “worked there for 30 years,” after all. Well, now Ira is getting ready for his new endeavors, and I think it looks like a lot of fun! Here’s the press release:

FORMER TOPPS SENIOR EXEC ANNOUNCES NEW IP: CRANIACS
GARBAGE PAIL KIDS PREMIER ARTIST ON BOARD AS CO‐CREATOR Continue reading “With Further Ado #282: Here Come the CRANIACS!”