California Republic Comic Con

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Today in the city of Merced, Colossus Girl Entertainment will be holding the California Republic Comic Con! Formerly known as Colossus Con, the city just 110 miles south of Sacramento will be housing some memorable names from film, television, animation, comics and cosplay as they light up the middle of San Joaquin County. Below is just a few of those set to appear at this outstanding event; an event that has named The Capeless Crusaders as its official podcast.

 

Film/Television

Gary Lockwood will be available to chat about his time as Dr. Frank Poole in 2001: A Space Odyssey as the film nears its 50th anniversary. Trekkies will be presented with the man formerly known as Christopher Pike as actor Sean Kenney of Star Trek fame will be in attendance. 

Rounding out the film and television bracket is Alison MacInnis (Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue), Steven Skyler (Power Rangers: Samurai), the legendary animated voice of Princess Leia, Julie Dolan (Star Wars: Rebels) and the Gamorrean Guard himself, Stephen Costantino (Star Wars: Episode VI - Return Of The Jedi).

 

Comics

A legend in the world of comic book art, Mr. Chris Marrinan will be in attendance. Marrinan is known for his work on Wonder Woman, The Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Nova, and Champions.

Also in attendance: art director and book illustrator artist Matt Haley (artist and creative consultant for Stan Lee's television series Who Wants To Be A Superhero and who's comic works include Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl and Batgirl, Batman: Batgirl, and The Order), Tobe Daranouvong (Villain) and Omar Morales (Cruzader).

 

Of course, it wouldn't be a comic con without plenty of cosplay on location. CRCC will feature such talented cosplayers as Necikait, LuckyBunny, Nor Cal Cap & Family, Colossus Girl and cosplay guest & host Skitz Cosplay.

 

California Republic Comic Con will be TODAY ONLY, from 10am to 5pm. It will be located at the Merced County Fairgrounds at 900 Martin Luther King Jr Way and parking is FREE! Wrangle your family and friends together and head on down to what is bound to be a fun and exciting time for everyone.

 

For more info, go to their website: www.colossusgirlent.com

- “The Azorean One” Anthony Esteves of The Capeless Crusaders.

ArtMix| Crocker-Con

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Crocker Art Museum. The home of the world's largest display of California art. Renowned for its collections of European master drawings and international ceramics. Sacramento's premiere source for fine art study and appreciation will be holding their fifth annual ArtMix / Crocker-Con. The famous museum will be housing local comic book legends, live character sketching, panel talks, cosplay, DJs, live performances and podcasts from around the area, and the general public is welcome to register and take part in it.

 

Providing the live soundtrack for the evening will be the musical acts Sleeprockers, Kepi Ghoulie and emcee Spacewalker. Music will be playing throughout the entire evening, so there will never be a dull moment.

 

Live panels will be featured throughout the evening, discussing different aspects of the event. Our favorite professor, Dr. Michele Foss-Snowden, will be joining Kristine Balog and John Marcotte in a discussion about the portrayal of race and gender in pop-culture, science-fiction, art and comics. Nate Flamm, Michael Calero and Sean Sutter will be sketching live any comic ideas you throw at them. And of course, we, The Capeless Crusaders, will be there to hold a live podcast with our special guest and friend of the show, Mr. Kyrun Silva of Big Tree Comics.

 

All this takes place TONIGHT at the Crocker Art Museum from 6pm to 9:30pm. Come on out and enjoy an influential and entertaining evening of art, music and pop-culture delight. 

 

For more details, go to the Crocker Art Museum's website: www.crockerart.org

 

- “The Azorean One” Anthony Esteves of The Capeless Crusaders.

SacAnime 2017

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Well, it is that time of year again. This weekend, Sacramento becomes the home of all things anime, gaming, film and television as the Sac Anime Expo kicks off today. The event runs from this morning through Sunday and will feature many well known names in some of today's most popular forms of entertainment. Gamers, animation lovers and film fanatics unite as SacAnime brings you "pop culture with an anime twist".

 

For the gamers, SacAnime will feature voice talents from the Overwatch video game, including Feodor Chin (Zenyatta), Josh Petersdorf (Roadhog) and Gaku Space (Genji). These three have lent their voices to other projects over the years, including World Of Warcraft, Starcraft II and Hearthstone. Chin's voice will also be recognizable to those who are fans of the heroes in a half shell, as he is the voice of Master Splinter in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows.

 

SacAnime 2017 has a heavy dose voice talents from the animated feature world, including Eva Bella (voice of "Young Elsa" in Disney's Oscar-winning Frozen and the voice of "Young Kayo" in the Oscar-nominated The Wind Rises), Kira Buckland (voice of Umi in Love Live, Julis in The Asterisk War and Izumo in Blue Exorcist), and Zach Callison (voice of Billy Batson in the DC animated features Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam and Justice League: War). Moreover on the DC animated angle, Ms. Harley Quinn herself, Hynden Walch (Batman: Assault on Arkham) will be in attendance.

 

Finally, for the feature film and television viewers, SacAnime 2017 has not let you down. This year's lineup is headlined by the one, the only, Mr. John Ratzenberger. Aside from being eternally recognized as the know-it-all mailman Cliff Clavin in the classic television series Cheers and appearing in epic films such as Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Superman I & II, Ratzenberger has had a steady and productive career having his voice featured in just about every single Disney/Pixar film, dating back to their breakout debut Toy Story, where Ratzenberger was the voice of “Ham". Joining Ratzenberger will be recognizable faces such as Keisha Castle-Hughes (Whale Rider, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith, The Walking Dead and recently as Obara Sand in Game Of Thrones), Kristain Nairn (Hodor in Game Of Thrones), Adrian Paul (Duncan Macleod in Highlander: The Series) and all six of the Power Rangers Dino Watch.

 

These are just some of the big names attending this year's SacAnime. That's right; you heard me. There are plenty more actors and voiceover artists in attendance at this gigantic event and it's all taking place starting TODAY! All this is going down at the Sacramento Convention Center and the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento, CA. Registration starts at $30 for Friday only, $45 for Saturday, $30 for Sunday or you can purchase the full weekend for just $50! Those interested in just the Sunday exhibitor room can do so for just $20. Children ages eight years and younger get in free!

 

For more details and convention maps, go to SacAnime.com. Now, get out there and enjoy the event built for literally everyone!

- “The Azorean One” Anthony Esteves of The Capeless Crusaders.

A Demand for Cassie Hack

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Halloween. Friday The 13th. Scream. 

 

These classics in the slasher horror genre of film contain two commonalities: a vicious killer and a resilient heroine. It is this traditional balance that fuels the history of the slasher. No matter how vicious and rage-driven the killer, it is countered by the drive to survive that fuels the young, female protagonist. She does just enough to defeat the evil slasher and escape to safety. Yet, what if there were slasher flicks that flipped the traditional formula? What if Laurie Strode hunted down Michael Myers? What if Sydney Prescott spent the majority of her cinematic story tracking down and killing anyone attempting to don the Ghostface mask?

 

Enter Cassie Hack. The bloody, revenge-driven horror goddess you didn't know you needed and you will never forget.

 

Cassie Hack is the main character of the comic book series Hack/Slash, created by Tim Seeley (Revival, Batman Eternal, Nightwing) for Devil's Due Publishing in 2004. In the Hack/Slash stories, Cassie Hack survives an attack by a slasher and from that moment on, wages a war against the vicious slashers that prey on partying teenagers. After numerous one-shots, stand alone story arcs, a move to Image Comics and huge collections of her stories titled "Omnibus", Cassie Hack will be returning to physical and digital comic pages on October 25th when writer Tini Howard releases her take, Hack/Slash Resurrection #1. 

 

Yet, what about introducing Cassie to the general, media-consuming public? Why has there yet to be a Cassie Hack television series or film franchise?

 

If there were ever a time that was primed for a strong female protagonist who takes the vicious battle to the horror villains, it is now. Not only does the horror genre have established filmmakers like Robert Rodriguez, James Wan and Eli Roth, but the genre has a rise in talented female filmmakers who can tackle the essence of horror just as well, and in some cases better, than their male counterparts. Names like Jennifer Kent (The Babadook), Julia Ducournau (Raw), Ana Lily Amirpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night) and of course the horror princess herself, actress and filmmaker Danielle Harris. Whether it be male, female or a cross-gender writer/director duo, there is more than enough talent in the industry today to accurately develop the tales of Ms. Hack.

 

But does flipping the formula take away the scares of a horror film? Not at all.

 

The fact that the Cassie Hack stories center on a young woman who hunts down frightening, murderous psychopaths does not take away from the fact that these stories feature frightening, murderous psychopaths. These antagonists still impose their will on innocent high school victims. They stalk, they terrorize, and they murder. They do everything the typical horror villain does. The only difference is they are unaware that they will eventually meet their doom at the hands of what they would once consider their prey. It is a balance of horrific fear and gory satisfying reckoning.

 

Cassie's actions are a response to their terror. She learns where the killing takes place. She embeds herself in a high school. She disguises herself as a new student who just so happens to be dressed in the manner these monsters prefer their victims: scantily clad. She attends the alcohol-infused parties and just when the evil slasher pops up to start the mayhem, it is Cassie who reveals her true intentions... using a knife, axe or one of her favorites: a baseball bat with nails protruding from it. It is bloody delightful.

 

Finally, there is the person that is Cassie Hack. She's smart. She's independent. Shes sarcastic. She's a smart ass. She is at times the combination of moody gothic chick sporting a catholic schoolgirl skirt... hiked up, of course. Her strength is empowering. She is a symbol of someone who chooses to no longer be the victim and instead, takes the fight to those who impose fear. In a time where it is so important to promote the rights of women and those in the LGBTQ community, Cassie Hack is a champion for those who look for equality in a genre that can be one-sided. She is woman. She is queer. She is strength. You will hear her roar and her vengeance will not be denied.

 

Cassie Hack has made a name for herself in the world of comics and graphic novels. It is time that this vicious beauty with a brain makes her way to the big screen. Whether it be one film, a film franchise or a television series, Hack/Slash needs to be presented to the mainstream. There is no better time than the present. This has been my demand for Cassie Hack.

- “The Azorean One” Anthony Esteves of The Capeless Crusaders.

Batman 27 The War of Jokes & Riddles: Interlude

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It has been billed as the next great crime epic in the world of The Dark Knight. A story promising to be held in the same regard as The Long Halloween. This particular issue in the series introduces us to a new character, stuck in the middle of a chaotic war, and how that war changes him forever.

 

In a method reminiscent of a Quentin Tarantino screenplay, jumping around in its timeline, we are introduced to Charles Brown, an informant for the Bat. Batman seeks his assistance by asking Charles when his scheduled meet-up with The Joker is taking place... Okay, asking is not quite the right word. Think back to Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, when Christian Bale's Batman is hanging Detective Flass upside down, yelling "SWEAR TO ME!" That's pretty much how it went. However, Charles ends up being painted into a corner when Riddler's men get a hold of him and ask the same question. All this leads to a battle between the three angles (Riddler and his thugs, Joker and the Bat). Toward the end, Charlie's boy is injured and hospitalized, and while Batman swears to help him and his boy, Charlie decides to take matters into his own hands...

 

Tom King has taken his expertise in writing suspenseful crime mystery (The Sheriff of Babylon) and injected it into the unrelenting realm of Gotham City. He gives us a story where Bruce Wayne/Batman is the narrator and supporting character to a battle between two of his greatest foes: the Clown Prince of Crime and the Master of Mind Games. He gives us a Joker who no longer finds things funny and a Riddler who's less in the mood for puzzles. The two are at odds, compelled to battle each other rather than focus on the Caped Crusader. In the middle, the unknown Charlie who is used as a pawn by all sides until he hits his breaking point. Clay Mann (X-Men Unlimited, Daredevil v2, Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death) brings us well detailed and defined characters, the closest to looking human without leaving the animated page. His beautiful art is equivalent to Stuart Immonen's current work on Marvel's The Amazing Spider-Man in the Secret Empire series. 

 

So far, The War of Jokes and Riddles is an enticing story about two villains at odds with each other, creating a chaos that Gotham has yet to experience. Two of the city's greatest villains creating a war on the streets. One that Batman believes he must end quickly, before more innocents are affected and more blood covers the streets of his home. We are possibly in the midst of the next great crime story in the history of Gotham's Watchful Protector.

- “The Azorean One” Anthony Esteves of The Capeless Crusaders.

“Shoot To Thrill” is the true Tony Stark Theme

That title alone probably angered a large number of you. Your memory may have been sparked by this and shot you back to 2008, when you sat in that dark movie theater with your significant other, group of friends or just yourself (there’s nothing wrong with that). That very moment when you witnessed the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You were overjoyed with the casting of Robert Downey Jr. as he nailed the portrayal of billionaire tech genius Tony Stark. To you, Jon Favreau became a directing God by taking this character and propelling him to his highest levels of fame and popularity. And of course, you cheered at that moment where Tony dons his suit and Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” blared through the theater’s enormous sound system. So, I understand that you may read the title to this article and view me as a disrespectful, blasphemous false prophet.

 

    Stick with me on this. I mean no disrespect to that iconic song. However, if you break down Black Sabbath’s song and then break down AC/DC’s “Shoot To Thrill,” there is no denying which one leans more toward the essence and style of Mr. Stark. I hope by the end of this article, you will realize the truth that has been before you all this time: that the true Tony Stark theme is AC/DC’s “Shoot To Thrill,” not Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man”.

 

    First off, I will bring up the usage of both these songs in the Iron Man franchise. Of course, Black Sabbath’s track is used in the first film. The title alone grants it that privilege. Yet, where the tune helmed by the vocals of Ozzy Osbourne starts the series, it is the track that carries the screaming sounds of Brian Johnson that last throughout. The soundtrack to Iron Man 2 is a collection of classic and new songs by AC/DC. Moreover, not only is “Shoot To Thrill” used for the trailer and in the beginning of the film, when Tony makes his exciting entrance at the Stark Expo, but it is also featured two years later in The Avengers, blaring from the PA system on Tony’s suit as he aids Captain America in detaining Loki.

 

    In both of these movies, “Shoot To Thrill” is not just background music for an entertaining scene. It is implied that Tony Stark has specifically chosen this song for these heroic arrivals, since the films go out of their way to show that cheerleaders are dancing to it as he arrives (Iron Man 2) and Tony using it on the telecom while speaking to Romanov (The Avengers).

 

    See? Even Tony knows it.

 

    Still not enough? Fine. A simple internet search for the lyrics and meanings of each song will make it even more apparent. Black Sabbath’s tune is about a man who goes to the future and witnesses the apocalypse and the extinction of man. As he returns to present time, a magnetic field turns him into a man made of iron, his mouth forced shut, making him unable to speak. People mock him over his appearance. Since he is unable to explain to them what he has seen, he becomes frustrated, angered and decides to take vengeance upon the human race, thus bringing about the apocalypse he witnessed.

 

    A classic? Of course. One of the greatest heavy metal songs of all time? Easily a possibility, depending on who you ask. I’ll even admit there is a slight connection to Stark, regarding his need to protect people from the impending doom he feels the future holds. Yet, there is nothing else in the song that screams the style of the Genius/Billionaire/Playboy/Philanthropist; not the one I see on the big screen or in the pages of Marvel Comics.

 

    As for “Shoot To Thrill,” simply take a look at the first verse:

 

“All you women who want a man of the street,

But you don’t know which way you want to turn,

Just keep a coming and put your hand out to me,

‘Cause I’m the one who’s gonna make you burn.”

 

    Now, the chorus:

 

“Shoot to thrill, play to kill.

Too many women and too many pills,

Shoot to thrill, play to kill,

I got my gun at the ready, gonna fire at will”

 

    These lyrics alone describe perfectly the essence of Tony Stark. He has an ego. He is a playboy. The pills can easily be substitutes for his history with alcohol. And of course, he has quite a thrill while flying in his suit, shooting away at his enemies. The connections continue into the second verse. The lines “I’m like evil, I get under your skin, just like a bomb that’s ready to blow” ring true throughout the character’s cinematic run. Whether it be Loki, Captain Rogers or Senator Stern, many have fallen victim to Tony’s incomparable ability to be that annoying prick that finds its way to poke at the right time.

 

    Lastly, there is the tempo of these tracks. Black Sabbath’s track is slow-moving. It is a strolling song. It takes its time as it develops, but the tempo never gets too out of hand. Now, with AC/DC’s track, one can visualize Marks 2 through 43 streaming through the skies. The speed of “Shoot To Thrill” is perfectly aligned with the attack methods of Stark while he pilots his creations. 

 

    Basically, it is one of those badass songs to play while you are being a badass. Maverick has “Danger Zone”. Tony has “Shoot To Thrill”.

 

    My statements speak for themselves. “Iron Man” will forever be a classic heavy metal song. It has gone down as one of the greats. However, just because it shares its name with Marvel’s wealthy Avenger, that does not mean it earns the title of being his theme song. It is not the name that matters here; it is the song’s feel and meaning. In the case of Tony Stark, he has womanizing tendencies mixed with a love for alcohol and the enjoyment of flying around, shooting energy beams out of his hands at his enemies, all while thinking up something funny to say. With that sort of an attitude, it is only logical to choose AC/DC’s “Shoot To Thrill” as the true Tony Stark theme.

- “The Azorean One” Anthony Esteves of The Capeless Crusaders.

Wonder Woman Review - "Reign of the Amazon"

It had been a tough ride for the DC Cinematic Universe up until 2017. Since its start four years ago, while making a noteworthy amount of money at the box office, Man Of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Suicide Squad had failed to win the hearts of critics and were only able to generate mixed feelings from their audience. The films could not capture the critical acclaim, box office success or the hearts of the audience the way Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy did in 2005, 2008 and 2012, those films receiving the Rotten Tomatoes scores of 84%, 94% and 87%, respectively. While this writer can sit back and enjoy aspects of the DCCU films, in no way do they compare to Marvel’s best, like Iron Man, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Guardians Of The Galaxy.

And then, just when one could think that all DC can succeed in is their animated films and CW television shows, one hero not only stands out, but makes an impact in her debut film. It is only right that this woman also happens to be a goddess.

Wonder Woman came thundering into theaters this past weekend, riding high on positive reviews (still sitting high at 93% certified fresh at the time of this post) and collecting a whopping $223 million at the global box office; just over $100 million in the domestic box office. Not only was this a success for a female-lead superhero film, but it was also the biggest weekend take for a female-directed film. This marks not only a victory for the DCCU as a whole, but also a personal victory for the team behind this film, having dealt with premature critiques and judgments about the steps taken in making this film. Everything ranging from complaints on Gal Gadot’s figure and acting chops, rumors of a state of uneasiness on set, the early change in director and even complaints on lack of armpit hair.

Seriously, though? Armpit hair?

There was nothing more satisfying than being in the newly renovated theaters of Lodi Stadium 12, sitting oh so comfortably in my leather reclining seat with my wife and watching all those rumors and complaints melt away as I experienced the beauty of this film develop on screen. From the second the story began on the Island of Themyscira, my attention was captured by the strength, independence and beauty of the Amazons who inhabit it. Connie Nielsen and Robin Wright are wonderfully cast as Hippolyta, Queen and mother of Diana, and Antiope, Themyscira’s greatest warrior. It was no shock seeing Nielsen easily embody this role, having a history of playing royalty (Gladiator), but it is the performance of Wright, known for her dramatic work in Forrest Gump and Netflix’s House Of Cards, that surprised me most. Watching her performance would make one believe she has made a career playing warriors on screen.

And this brings us to Gal Gadot. Previously known best for her role in the Fast & Furious franchise, Gadot had received acclaim for being one of the bright spots in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Even then, there were still those who questioned her casting. Reminding myself of this made me even giddier as I watched her make the role her own. Gadot’s performance was nothing short of genuine and heart-filled. A mix of honesty, strength and devotion that could be best compared to Christopher Reeve’s debut as the Man Of Steel in 1978’s Superman. Her chemistry with Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor is undoubtable, the two trading off on their own fish-out-of-water experiences in both Themyscira and London. When Diana deals with the restricting female outfits of the early 20th century and does battle with a tricky revolving door, it is Gadot’s honest delivery in those moments that connect the audience with her. You laugh because it’s funny but also see the humanity in this princess who has never had to deal with any of this. Yet, you are reminded of her strength and power when she saves Trevor from a bullet and easily handles four assailants.

No moment symbolizes the selflessness and devotion of Diana than the now famous “No Man’s Land” scene.

Inspired by moments like Clark revealing the S and saving Lois from the falling helicopter in Superman, and Bruce donning the cape and cowl and thwarting Carmine Falcone’s plans in Batman Begins, the “No Man’s Land” scene is the powerful and beautiful moment where Diana reveals herself as Wonder Woman. She not only reveals herself in her suit, but she leaves the trenches and crosses the dangerous territory, blocking every bullet with her braces and shield. This act inspires the soldiers to cross with her and free the village from German occupation. From this moment, we see Diana become the legendary hero she is meant to be.

In my opinion, the pose of Diana crouched, shield on her left arm and her right fist clinched as the bullets go whizzing by will easily be one of the most symbolic and inspiring shots in film history.

With beautiful cinematography, a well-paced story and the vision of Patty Jenkins as director, all these elements together created the successful blockbuster that is now reaping its reward at theaters around the globe. DC and Warner Bros have already confirmed Jenkins to direct the sequel. The DC Cinematic Universe has finally received the big hit they have been waiting for, and it came in the form of their Warrior Goddess; the glue of DC’s Trinity. There is no doubt a new energy surrounding the studio regarding their next release, Justice League, due out this November. One can only wonder if this will lead to continued success for DC.

For now, let us sit back and enjoy the news of the day. We live in a world where the number one motion picture, both critically and financially, is a female-directed film about one of the greatest superheroes of all time, and she is a strong, intelligent, independent (and yes, beautiful) woman. 

All hail Princess Diana, the Wonder Woman. The savior of humankind…and the DCCU. 

 

- “The Azorean One” Anthony Esteves of The Capeless Crusaders.