Tuesday, April 21, 2015

All New X-Men's Iceman Comes Out as Gay

A few years ago, the original teen X-Men (Cyclops, Beast, Jean Grey, Iceman, and Angel) traveled to the present to stop a mutant civil war. And then they got stuck here in the present. They gradually joined up with Kitty Pryde (AKA "Professor K") and X-23 (AKA Wolverine's female clone) and have all sorts of fun as the All New X-Men. Which is kind of ironic since most of them are technically the "All Old X-Men." But I digress...

I haven't read their latest issue yet (ALL NEW X-MEN #40, which gets released tomorrow), but it seems that one of these young X-Men comes out as gay. I'm talking about young Bobby Drake (AKA Iceman).

He's been laying it on a bit too thick with the girls, so Jean (our resident telepath) pulls him aside. She tells him to knock it off, because... well, you know. She finally spells out what's been bouncing through his head. He's gay.

He's confused, because the older Iceman isn't gay.

Which is interesting. The older Iceman lived for years with Charles Xavier. Do you suppose he mentally manipulated that Iceman to be heterosexual? It's an interesting thought.

Iowa City Man Arrested & Accused of Torturing Roommate's Kitten for Hours // Updated on 11/22/14: Fritz Continues to Heal! // Updated on 12/19/14: Another Arrest // Updated on 04/21/15: Nopoulous Changes Plea to Guilty

(Leo Nopoulos)
(Originally written on 10/15/14): A 21-year-old man from West Liberty, IA, was arrested and charged late last week with allegedly torturing his former roommate's 8-week-old kitten "non-stop, for a period lasting longer than three hours." Leo A. Nopoulos has been charged with animal torture, which is an aggravated misdemeanor, and faces up to two years in prison if convicted.

According to Nate Schloss*, he believed last week that his kitten Fritz was sick due to periodic incidents of bleeding from the cat's right eye and nose. Things would improve and then the bleeding would resume. He rushed the kitten to the pet hospital and received treatment last Wednesday evening the 8th. (Jon's note: For some reason, nobody -- including the hospital staff -- was able to recognize the signs of severe abuse. I'm just saying...)

Schloss decided last Thursday the 9th to set up his laptop to record his bedroom while he was away in order to get a better idea of what was going on with his cat. This is what happened over the course of nearly four hours while he was away:
I can't say it enough again, but it's simply a miracle after the extent of trauma my kitten Fritz sustained that he is even alive! There is a 3.5 HOUR VIDEO in police possession that shows the CONTINUOUS torture of my little kitten Fritz going on in my bathroom AND bedroom. The depth and details that I would need to explain involving everything that this recording shows would take me more than several hours to elaborate on. To give even the smallest idea as to what exactly happened, the video shows Leo leaving my room only a few times and for only several minutes at a time, AND brings 3 other friends total in at different times to show them my kitten Fritz and what he has done. Whether they have knowledge of what exactly happened is still not known. The first scene shows Leo searching my room, in, under, and around everything searching for Fritz as if he is on a mission. You see him take Fritz by the neck and throw him into my ceiling in my bathroom and hear all the sounds that follow along with, which in itself I cannot begin to explain enough. He is shown throwing my 8-week old KITTEN into the walls, doors, cupboards of my bathroom. He is shown bringing Fritz into my bedroom and violently with full force throwing Fritz into the walls, into corners, into my t.v. stand, beating Fritz with his own hands many many many times! He is shown grabbing a t.v. remote and full force beating Fritz in the head and face over and over and over. He is shown taking a Glade metal spray bottle and beating Fritz in the head over and over and over with NO REMORSE SHOWN. The metal bottle was obtained from my bathroom and brought to police as tangible evidence with blood spatter still being present all around the bottle in multiple places. This is only a BEGINNING as to what I can explain as to what occurred on Thursday, Oct. 9th.
The Press-Citizen included this extra bit of detail:
At one point, police said, the cat gets away, and Nopoulos is seen in the video actively looking for the cat; once he catches it, he continues to abuse it. Police said Nopoulos admitted to abusing the cat to his roommate, his parents and an officer.
According to Schloss, Fritz survived this abuse, though his left eye had to be removed yesterday. Additionally, Fritz is blind in his right eye, but hopefully he will eventually recover his vision in that eye.

Schloss communicated that Nopoulos admitted to the animal abuse several different times. He reportedly said that he was "fucked up" and that he has "bad voices in his head telling him to do terrible things."

*I feel a bit "oogy" about including the name of the cat's owner in this blog. However, he directed people to his Facebook account of the abuse in the comments section of the Press-Citizen article and I believe that his account gives a lot of needed detail to this horrific story.

Updated on 11/22/14: I have had requests from others to provide an update on this situation. I don't know much, but here is what I know...

The legal case against Leo Nopolous continues to wind its way slowly through the courts. The arraignment hearing is currently scheduled for 12/04/14. In other words, it's gonna be a while.

As for Fritz, he now has his own Facebook page. For the most part, Fritz appears go be mostly healed. However, he still appears to be blind or mostly blind in his right eye. At most, he is only seeing shadows at this point. He's also learning to navigate his home and how to play again quite successfully.

Earlier this month, his owners got a second cat named Squash and the two cats appear to be getting along well.

So that's the update!

Updated on 12/19/14: It seems that Fritz's Facebook page went down within the past couple days. We had an update earlier this week and now it's gone.

I'm sure that's connected to local news that there was another arrest tangentially connected to this case. Sadly, it's not what you think. I'm still pondering how to proceed.  Read here for more information.

Updated on 04/21/15: KCJJ reported earlier today that Leo Nopoulous has changed his plea to guilty related to last year's Animal Torture charge. He faces up to two years in prison, but I would guess that a lesser sentence has been negotiated in exchange for this written plea.

Monday, April 20, 2015

High School Students Intimidate LGBT Students on "Anti-Gay Day"

High school students held an "Anti-Gay Day" as a way of sticking up for anti-gay bullying. Because of anti-gay harassment apparently honors Jesus Christ:
Students at a Pennsylvania high school held an “Anti-Gay Day” protest on Thursday, wearing coordinated flannel shirts, writing “anti-gay” on their hands, and sticking Bible verses on LGBT students’ lockers.

“We came in to school on Thursday and found a lot of people wearing flannel and we couldn’t figure out why,” Zoe Johnson, a 16-year-old bisexual student at McGuffey High School in Claysville, told BuzzFeed News. “People started getting pushed and notes were left on people’s lockers.”

The anti-gay protest occurred a day after students with the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) held a “Day of Silence,” an event aimed at drawing attention to anti-gay bullying.

I got called a dyke, a faggot,” Johnson said. “They were calling us every horrible name you can think of...”

“The instigators, the bullies, seemed to be very proud of their efforts, and posted many smiling pictures online,” Cameron said.

Johnson said some of the students uploaded Bible verses to Instagram and tagged out gay classmates. She also said some students began circulating a “lynch list” of students who had participated in the Day of Silence and that a noose was tied to a flag in one teacher’s classroom.

“This is a troubling turn of events,” wrote Sue Kerr, editor-in-chief of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents, in a blog post. “These kids didn’t just spontaneously pull a homophobic move. They have a plan. They have coordinated outfits.”
The school is investigating these allegations, but says that they haven't found evidence of the "lynch list," nor have they found witnesses to any of the reported physical harassment. It makes you wonder why they don't check out some of these Instagram accounts for verification. But what do I know?

Personally, I don't like the "Day of Silence" events. I think that it distracts kids from actually doing classwork. But this type of backlash -- if only half-correct -- is totally unacceptable. It makes you wonder if any of the teachers offered any negative feedback to these anti-gay students who were making an effort of intimidating other students throughout this school day?

Check Out Doreen's Squirrel-Skin Coat in UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #3!

I'm behind on my comic books. I finally finished THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #3, which actually came out a couple weeks back. Last issue, Doreen Green (AKA Squirrel Girl) acquired one of Iron Man's extra suits so that she could fly to the moon and single-handedly defeat Galactus. Except that her ascent into space gets interrupted by supervillain Whiplash, which is where things ended.

This issue features Squirrel Girl's triumphant battle against Whiplash... (C'mon! Don't complain about spoilers! The book's called THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL, not THE BEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL!!) She then learns about a local bank robbery where one of the hostages is her roommate Nancy Whitehead and finds herself trying to figure out how to defeat the robbers while getting to the moon in time to defeat Galactus!

She then pulls a trick out out of her nonexistent hat and manages to take out the robbers wearing a suit made out of intertwined squirrels! You gotta check this out!

The robbers don't know how to react. They prepared for opposition from folks like Wolverine or Captain America or the Hulk. Nobody warned them about a giant mass of squirrels!

Needless to say, Doreen saves the day and still has time to race to the moon just in time to meet up with Galactus the Planet Eater. We'll have to wait for next issue to see how that works out!

"In A Nutshell" is written by Ryan North, penciled and inked by Erica Henderson, colored by Rico Renzi, and lettered by VC's Clayton Cowles. Seriously, this is one of Marvel Comics' unsung treasures! You really need to pick up a copy if you haven't already!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Survivors" 40th Anniversary: Episode 3 ("Gone Away")

This is the third in a series of blog posts dedicated to the 40th anniversary of BBC's "Survivors" television series. Survivors followed a core group of characters who managed to survived a devastating viral outbreak -- one which managed to kill off somewhere between 95-99% of humanity. Society has crumbled and now those who remain must relearn the old way if they have any hope of surviving much longer.

Our last episode ended with our core group of "survivors" (Abby Grant, Jenny Richards, and Greg Preston) meeting at an abandoned church building. In this episode -- titled "Gone Away" -- the three are sharing a meal and discussing their next plans. Abby tells Jenny and Greg that she has two major plans. First, she plans to find her missing son Peter. And secondly, she plans to "find a place to live. Join up with other people." She plans to "grow food and things, learn to look after ourselves" and learn how to support their eventual children and grandchildren without the benefit of everything that's been left behind after the Death.

Abby invites them to stay with her. Jenny is instantly committed. Greg is still mulling over his options. In the meantime, she plans to scavenge in a nearby village for food supplies and maps.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. "Gone Away" actually started out with Tom Price. He's the homeless vagabond who kept running into Jenny during previous episodes and complaining about germs. This episode starts with him raiding an empty farmhouse. Most of the animals are dead -- left to starve and bloat within their stalls. A few chickens and sheep are left wandering the yard and within the house. He finds that others have already raided the home.

There is no food left -- though he finds a shotgun hidden within a cupboard. He uses the gun to kill a chicken, which is quickly scooped up by a young boy. Tom chases the boy to a neighboring property. He's warned off by an older man. It seems that the man and the boy are both ill. It's not the Sickness, but something else. The man said that he thinks they got sick from contaminated water. He believes that they are both sick with typhoid. He begs Tom to leave the chicken with them as they haven't eaten in two days.

Fearful of getting sick, Tom keeps his distance and watches as the man and the boy return to their private shelter.

We catch up again with Abby, Jenny, and Greg. They enter a store and begin gathering groceries. Everything seems to be going well until they come across this clear message:

It's clear that somebody has laid claim to this store. Despite her initial shock, Abby decides to go ahead and get their groceries. She figures that they will only be there ten minutes or so.

They are loading up their vehicle when a group of Arthur Wormley's armed thugs enter the store. The men tell Abby and the others that they need to register at Wormley's HQ if they are going to remain in this area. Once they are registered, they will qualify for food, clothing, and other stuff; which will be parceled out by Wormley.

Abby, Jenny, and Greg decline to sign up with Wormley's group. The men begin unloading the car. Jenny manages to disarm one of the men and soon enough our "survivors" have the upper hand. The food is re-loaded and the thugs' vehicle is temporarily disabled -- just long enough for our group to get far away:

Our group eventually returns to their camp -- only to find Tom Price waking from a nap. He found their base-camp and took advantage of their unattended canned foods! Abby invites him to stick around and he offers to share the wealth of his knowledge for the greater good. Greg is unimpressed.

That night at supper, Tom tells the others about the man and the boy from the chicken-incident. Hopeful that this boy is Peter, Abby makes a rash decision to track down this pair. Tom decides to stay behind, but the others join her.

Which is fortunate, because Wormley's men didn't just give up on our survivors. They were badly humiliated and are determined to make example of our trio. They eventually notice smoke from our group's campfire and descend upon the camp.

Meanwhile, our group eventually finds the old farmhouse that Tom had told them about. They discover that both the man and the boy are now dead. Fortunately, for Abby at least, the boy isn't Peter.

One of Wormley's men notices our group of survivors as they return to the camp. He advises them to hide from the others while he covers for them. He tells his boss that the group ran off after seeing their land rover. Wormley's men blow out each of the tires from Abby's car and then drive off with Wormley's latest recruit: Tom Price!

Abby, Greg, and Jenny return to their camp after the men have driven off and find it in shambles. Most of the food is gone. Most of their possessions have been damaged. Our group decides to begin their search for Peter Grant and then eventually to create a new settlement -- presumably far away from Wormley!

This is where we really see the darker side of Wormley's group. Last episode's interactions were a bit cloudier. After all, they executed a man who had just led an armed attack on his property. Here we see them hanging a dead man in a grocery store to warn off looters. They are threatening others into joining their cause. And it's pretty clear that they would have killed Abby and the others if fate hadn't sent them away to see if that boy was her son.

There's definitely a need for leadership in their new post-Death world. It's just too bad that somebody else isn't taking the lead!

Next week, we will look at Episode #4 ("Corn Dolly").

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Coming Soon to Iowa City: 105.3 FM Public Access Radio

I learned last night (via the Cedar Rapids Gazette) that Uptown Bills' Extend the Dream Foundation has acquired the rights to a low-power FM license from the FCC. It appears that this will be a public access radio station of sorts. It will be at 105.3 FM and will have a five-mile broadcast radius. They are also looking into creating an online radio presence.

From the article:
Holly Hart, who has 30 years of experience in the radio industry, most recently at KSUI/WSUI, said discussions are underway to potentially attach that transmitter to existing infrastructure on top of Old Brick Church and Community Center at 26 E. Market St. Hart said approval from a cellphone company will be needed to proceed, and if it is not granted, officials will build their own tower.

First, officials say they will need to raise between $15,000 and $20,000 to pay for the engineering and equipment necessary to get 105.3 FM on the air. A fundraising page was established earlier this week on gofundme.com.

Temporary studio space also has been offered at the PATV building, 206 Lafayette St., and Hart said the hope is to be on the air by late summer or early fall.

Hart said programming still is coming together, but added that she hopes to have a structured format with a mix of original local content, national programming and music. 

“I didn’t want to play into the old stereotype of community radio which has polka music one hour, French news the next, cooking show the third hour, but have something that’s actually like a real format because people who listen to radio, they listen to format,” Hart said. 

Similar to PATV’s programming, qualified residents interested in creating original content might have that opportunity, she added. “If they have a viable program idea and can put together a pilot, we could offer them a show,” Hart said.
So throw a few bucks at their GoFundMe fundraiser and then figure out if you have a story to tell or a gift to show up. This might be your first step towards radio stardom!

Learn more about Uptown Bill's here:

Friday, April 17, 2015


Dan Parent posted this great image on Facebook last summer. It was a commissioned piece of artwork titled "Archie Meets Sharknado." It was the greatest thing that I had seen in quite some time.

A couple months later, I led a panel titled "Archie's Dead and Other News from Riverdale" at the local Mid Con Comic Show. Towards the end of the panel, I announced several upcoming Archie Comics projects scheduled for late 2014 and 2015. My final panel was "Archie Meets Sharknado." It was clear from the show that I was joking, but the crowd went wild. They loved the idea of a crossover between Archie and the "Sharknado" movies.

Imagine my delight this morning when I learned that Archie Comics will be publishing a ARCHIE VS. SHARKNADO cross-over comic book in July 2015!! The 48-page one-shot comic book is scheduled to be released on July 22, 2015, on the same day that SyFy shows "Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!" The comic book will be written by Sharknado director Anthony C. Ferrante and penciled by Dan Parent.'

This is what I've learned so far about ARCHIE VS. SHARKNADO so far:
The comic story will pick up with Archie and his pals kicking back to enjoy a beach vacation, which is going swimmingly until a Sharknado runs ashore and threatens their hometown of Riverdale... Jeff Li, vice president of Syfy Ventures, added that “it’s only natural” that Archie and the gang would run afoul of a Sharknado. Hey, those things are everywhere these days.
So there aren't a lot of plot details being leaked yet. The again, it involves a Sharknado! What more do you need to know??

Nero at Daycare -- 04/17/15

It was wet and wild adventures at doggy daycare today as Nero and his four-legged friends messed around in the water. Check it out:


So this showed up on Facebook yesterday:

What do you think? An "Avengers Movie" tie-in, official or otherwise? Featuring the Archies wearing outfits reminiscent of Avengers costumes? Possibly a short gag posted on Archie Comics' various social media platforms? Or maybe a short cartoon?

What do you think?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dilton Becomes a Wrestling God in WORLD OF ARCHIE COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #49!

I really enjoyed WORLD OF ARCHIE COMICS DOUBLE DIGEST #49 this week. It not only features reprints of classic stories featuring Archie, the Riverdale Gang, Katy Keene, and Super Duck. But it also features a great new "Archie & Friends" story at the beginning. And Dilton Doiley is the star!

You don't often get to read stories these days featuring Dilton. It seems that Riverdale High School's wrestling team sucks. So Coach Clayton is recruiting new wrestlers. Resident science and math nerd Dilton Doiley has come up with the perfect mathematical equation for overcoming any wrestling opponent.

He uses his math skills to defeat Moose Mason of all people and is quickly convinced to sign up for the wrestling team. Using his knowledge, Dilton soon become the team's MVP!

He tries passing on his winning wrestling equation, but no other student can understand his computations. No other students, that is, except other math geeks like Raj Patel and Simon "Prankenstein" Silverstein. Soon enough, these mathletes are on the team and Riverdale's traditional jocks on sitting on the sidelines.

Talk about role reversals!

Archie Comics published a digital comic featuring Dilton (here, here, here, and here) in late 2013/early 2014 -- which was fun --, but this 6-page short story was an excellent story. I really liked how they exploited Dilton's genius in a way that didn't include the construction of super-science gadgets. That's just an easy trope that gets used much too often. It was good to see Dilton use his superior abilities to come out on top without being over the top. This seemed much more grounded and hypothetically realistic for a change. And it was great to see all of the nerds transforming into wrestling gods through the use of applied mathematics!

"Counted Out" was written by Paul Kupperberg, penciled by Dan Parent, inked by Bob Smith, lettered by Jack Morelli, and colored by Digikore Studios.