Friday, October 30, 2015

"Archie: Riverdale Rescue": The End Is Nigh

It's only a matter of hours before "Archie: Riverdale Rescue" permanently fades away from my iPad. I logged on this afternoon and was greeted with the following message:

You can still play the game, but you can no longer download it onto your computer or device.

Move Over Betty & Veronica! It's Time for Noelle Claus & Sugarplum in BETTY AND VERONICA JUMBO COMICS #238!

Archie Comics kicked off it's 10-part story called "The Man Loves of Archie Andrews" last month in BETTY & VERONICA HALLOWEEN ANNUAL #237. I originally assumed that it would be spread out through all of the publisher's comic book digests, but it looks like it's just in the BETTY & VERONICA COMICS DOUBLE DIGESTs. I worried that it would take forever for the story to proceed, but it looks like it will be a monthly journey.

It also appears that each part of the storyline is only connected by theme. Last month, Archie was nominated as "Best Boyfriend of the Year" by eight separate girls: Betty, Veronica, Cheryl Blossom, Valerie Smith, Ginger Lopez, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Amisha Mehta, and Noelle Claus. It looks like we will now be treated to new stories featuring each of these girls, but not in stories directly related to the "Best Boyfriend of the Year" story.

That said, it looks like these were be fun stories as evidenced by the Christmas-themed story in BETTY AND VERONICA JUMBO COMICS #238! Betty and Veronica both appear briefly within the story, but the real stars are Archie, Noelle Claus (AKA Santa's daughter), and Sugarplum the Christmas Fairy!

1. Call Me Susan!: We catch up with Archie in this story as he wraps up a date with a new girl named Susan. For some reason, she looks awful familiar, but he can't figure out why. It turns out that he's met Susan several times in the past, but she's grown up quite a bit over the past few days...

2. Noelle VS. Sugarplum!: It turns out that "Susan" is really Sugarplum in disguise! Noelle figured it out and forced the fairy into showing her true colors.

3. It's Not Illegal to Kidnap People at the North Pole!: Archie discovered Noelle and Sugarplum arguing. This prompted the love-struck fairy to whisk Archie away to the North Pole. Noelle lacks the fairy's magical powers, but still has access to her father's reindeer for her last-minute transport needs!

4. Fairy Magic Is Temperamental!: We learned today that fairy magic is neutralized by the presence of a full moon. In other words, once monthly these guys lose all of their magical abilities. That has to suck!

5. Archie's Conscripted by Santa!: Now that Archie is stuck at the North Pole, Santa has decided to put him to work wrapping Christmas presents. Of course, this tactic rarely works out in the end! Archie's inner-klutz reared its ever-present head and created three pages of mischief for Santa and his elves!

Santa eventually whisks Archie home on his magic sleigh -- which makes you wonder why he didn't take advantage of Rudolph's flying abilities to get him home in the first place! But that wouldn't make the story very fun!

6. Jingles the Stud!: Jingles got a bit jealous over the antics of Noelle and Sugarplum towards the end of this story, so he used a little shapeshifting magic to grow up and pay a little visit to Veronica Lodge! Is it me or does "Jingles" look a bit like Kevin Keller?? Now I totally want to 'ship Kevin and Jingles!!

I liked this story and I definitely liked that it was about double the size of most stories that show up in Archie Comics' digest magazines. I think I also like that the idea that this storyline is focused on a theme and not an interconnected series of stories!

"The First Noelle" (AKA Part Two of "The Many Loves of Archie Andrews" features scripts & pencils by Dan Parent, inks by Gary Martin, letters by Jack Morelli, and colors by Digikore Studios.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Four Great Reasons to Enjoy THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #1!

I've mentioned my love for Squirrel Girl often on this blog. I was pleasantly surprised with Marvel Comics' new UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL comic book when it first started earlier this year. It has everything that I love in a comic book: Superhero action merged with humor and cartoony art!

So imagine my excitement when Marvel Comics canceled UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL and relaunched it with a fresh UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL two months later!!! Actually, it seems silly that they relaunched the book with fresh numbering, but with the same exact creative team and characters. Then again, I really liked the old series so I'm willing to forgive this foolishness!

UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #1 (Volume #2) shifts eight months after the events of UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #8 (Volume #1). Doreen Green (AKA Squirrel Girl) is now a second year college student at Empire State University and now lives in an apartment off-campus with her BFF Nancy Whitehead (who now has read hair!). They still hang out with Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boi and they still do their best to fight against the powers of evil!

Incidentally, I'm getting major gaydar vibes in this issue from Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boi. I can't pinpoint anything in particular (outside of Chipmunk Hunk's credit description). In other words, I'm just putting that theory out there for future reference. You heard it here first!!

Anyway, here are four great reasons to love UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #1!!

1. Welcome to the New Avengers!: Did you know that Squirrel Girl is a charter member of the newest incarnation of the NEW AVENGERS? It's financed by Sunspot (formerly of the New Mutants and X-Men) and based out of Avengers Island (FKA AIM Island). I'm not sure if I will be reading that book. Obviously, I love Squirrel Girl, plus Wiccan, Hulkling, and Songbird are members. But I don't like the artwork and I'm not sure if I can handle the finances of yet another comic book! Still, it's good to remind folks that Squirrel Girl isn't a free agent anymore!

2. Not a Mutant!: We are introduced to Maureen Green in this issue of the book. That's Squirrel Girl's mom. We also learn that -- contrary to previous assertions -- Squirrel Girl is NOT a mutant. We don't know exactly what she is, but she is not a mutant and she never has been a mutant even though she's been called a mutant before!

It's possible that Marvel Comics wants to prevent Fox Studios from stealing the character for a future X-Men movie. And it's possible that they want to protect her from the Terrigan Mists that are presently covering the Earth and poisoning the mutants. Or both.

But Squirrel Girl is not a mutant. Or as the comic book observes: "The doc couldn't say for sure whether it was the squirrel bite or the cosmic rays in the forest or the experimental nut serum or the radioactive tree or what that caused the changes. Maureen's pregnancy was... a pretty eventful nine months, actually."

3. Nancy Hearts Maureen!: I cannot praise UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL's hidden gem enough! Nancy Whitehead is one of the best things to happen to this comic book. I really enjoy her friendship with Doreen -- and I love that she loves Doreen's mom! Such fun!!

4. Brain Drain!: I really like Brain Drain -- this issue's villain. He is a former Nazi whose brain survived World War II. He eventually gained a robot body and attacked Alpha Flight. It's possible that he's been around since the early 90s, but I haven't seen him.

As always, Squirrel Girl eventually comes up with a unique way to neutralize this elderly villain. Rarely do her punches do the trick. Instead, she uses her brain and her heart to save the day -- and to offer her foes new direction in life! Check out the book to see what I mean!

You really need to pick up UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL if you aren't already reading it. This is one of the most different superhero books that's currently being published by a mainstream comic book publisher. My mood was pretty messed up yesterday. I fetal-curled up in my bed with my copy of this book and immediately got my attitude turned around with laughter and enjoyment. It's that good.

"The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1" is written by Ryan North, penciled and inked by Erica Henderson, colored by Rico Renzi, and lettered by VC's Clayton Cowles. Plus, the "Trading Card" art is by Joe Morris!

Lesbian Couple Files Federal Lawsuit After Cop Arrested Them for Kissing in Grocery Store // Incident Made Couple Homeless in Hawaii for Five Months Before Charges Were Dropped

A lesbian couple named Courtney Wilson and Taylor Guerrero were visiting Hawaii from Los Angeles this past March. One the second day of their vacation, they ended up getting arrested while shopping at a Foodland grocery store after an off-duty police officer objected to them kissing each other. Things escalated from there:
They were walking through the aisles holding hands and at one point hugged and kissed, the lawsuit said: Officer Bobby Harrison, who was shopping in uniform, "observed their consensual romantic contact and, in a loud voice, ordered plaintiffs to stop and 'take it somewhere else.'" The women complied and continued shopping, the lawsuit said. When Harrison again saw them being affectionate with each other, he threatened to have them thrown out of the store...

While the women were in the check-out line, Harrison grabbed Wilson by the wrist, and she started to call 911, she said. "He was bumping his belly against Courtney," Guerrero said. "He said, 'you girls don't know how to act. You don't know the difference between a motel and a grocery store.'" When Guerrero tried to get in between her girlfriend and the officer, he shoved her. She kicked him as she was falling, she said. "The whole situation got physical," Wilson said. "I got punched in the face by him."  

Because Harrison didn't have any handcuffs on him, store employees helped restrain the women, as customers watched. "You can't really blame them for not getting involved," Wilson said of the bystanders.
Another reported shared that the women were taken down into the Foodland basement where they were asked "if it was worth it, if we were happy where we are."

The women were both arrested and charged with felony assault on an officer. They were both in jail for three days until they were able to pay bail. They were required to remain in Honolulu as a condition of their release from jail. They spent the next five months couch-surfing with friends and family members. They even spent some time living in a homeless shelter and had to take temporary jobs cleaning vacation rentals while they were stuck in Hawaii.

The charges were eventually dismissed against the couple. It seems that video footage of this police interaction has gone missing.

Needless to say, the couple has filed a federal lawsuit against Officer Bobby Harrison and the city of Honolulu. The Honolulu Police Department has initiated an internal investigation into this incident. Officer Harrison remains on full active duty.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Grimes, IA: Owners of Anti-Gay Gortz Haus Gallery Sold Building to Harvest Bible Fellowship

I wrote back in June that the Gortz Haus Gallery over in Grimes, IA, was going to be closing. This was a business that got in trouble with the Iowa Civil Right Commission after someone filed a discrimination complaint on the basis of sexual orientation. The case dragged on for a while and eventually the case was settled last year. The Gortz Haus' owners paid $5,000 to the couple that they had discriminated against and they agreed to stop discriminating against customers on the basis of sexual orientation. Which they did in January 2015 by ceasing all wedding ceremonies. But the business struggled without the wedding income, so they closed.

The business' owners, Dick and Betty Odgaard, had previously announced that they were in the process of selling the property to a church community. They just announced that the sale went through and now the property belongs to an evangelical, nondenominational church called Harvest Bible Fellowship:
Pastor Ryan Jorgenson said the transient church, which has grown to about 170 members since opening two years ago, wanted to find a permanent home, rather than the temporary event space it has been using. He said the building's history couldn't be ignored. But the baggage wasn't necessarily seen as a detriment.

"We fully support the stand that the Odgaards have made with their building and with their business," Jorgenson said. "But our biggest thing by far is we want to be known as a church that loves Jesus. We preach and teach the Bible fully. We want to be a blessing to our community."
In other words, the church opposes gay families.

They can use the property for weddings and discriminate against same-sex couples now if they want. But that's okay, because they are a church and not a commercial business.

By the way, the Odgaard family might not be able to sustain a business, but they can afford multiple billboard campaigns preaching against gay families. They have two billboards up in Oklahoma and in Arizona (but not Iowa) and will soon have a third billboard up in North Carolina. They hope to erect 1000 billboards advocating against gay families.

Monday, October 26, 2015

It's Official. "Archie: Riverdale Rescue" Will Disappear on 10/31/15!!

I began writing about the "Archie: Riverdale Rescue" iOS gaming app way back in October 2013. Since then, the game has expanded to PC users. It's an oddly addictive game where you are tasked with the improvement and beautification of Riverdale USA using a variety of recognizable characters, such as Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica. A big part of the game also involves building emotional bonds between the various characters, leading to romantic couples, BFFs, and overall friends.

I shared last week that "Riverdale Rescue" will be ending on October 30th. I've since written an additional post about the late addition of buy-in character Clay Walker.

I decided to write up one additional post after discovering a closet-full of additional outfits that are currently for sale.

First, there are three sets of Halloween-themed skins:

There's a skin in case you want to send the Archies out on concert:

Then there are some outfits for taking an outdoor hike:

If you are in the mood for a dancy Prom Party, you can get this set of skins:

Lastly, there's is a great Independence Day-themed set of skins:

You can purchase some of these outfits with the money that you collect around Riverdale. The rest of these outfits you need to purchase sodas with real money. Personally, I would avoid spending your cash on any new sodas. (More on that below!!)

There is also one last item that you can purchase using money that you collect every day from Rivderale. It's a slot machine that dates back to when Runty was first introduced to "Riverdale Rescue." Personally, I wouldn't waste your time getting this item. It doesn't do anything unless you never purchased it in the past. Frankly, I'm not even sure why it's available for sale right now.

Lastly, it was my assumption that "Archie: Riverdale Rescue" would continue after its official end on October 30th. My assumption was that you could continue playing the game, except that it would no longer have any new quests, access to the Archie Store, or access to Tech Support.

I was wrong.

A friend directed me to this FAQ, where the following questions about the future of "Riverdale Rescue" were asked and answered:
Will I still be able to play Archie: Riverdale Rescue after it is discontinued? 
Unfortunately, no, but make the most of the remaining two weeks with Archie and the gang! All in-game content from the past two years will be available in the store as of October 15th. Soda is for sale at a tremendous discount – $9.99 for 100,000 soda – in a promo available to iOS and Android players! Play through all remaining quests, comics, and max out your Riverdale rating! 

It’s October 31st and my Archie: Riverdale Rescue game still runs. Why is this? 
October 31st is the planned end date for Archie: Riverdale Rescue; however, the precise dates of removal may vary slightly platform by platform. Each platform has its own requirements and timelines associated with app removal. We are doing our best for all players to have a consistent experience, regardless of platform. After October 31st, if the app is still live, expect instability and discontinuation.
In other words, it's official. There will be no "Riverdale Rescue" next week. Not even a ghost town. Which is sad, but it's probably for the best.

Goodbye, "Riverdale Rescue." I have enjoyed my time with you. But it's time to let go.

Pat Robertson Struggles to Oppose Gay Marriage Without Being Condescending or Malicious

CBN's "The 700 Club" once again railed against gay people and our families earlier today.

Co-Host Wendy Griffith shared another gay marriage question on the program's Bring It On" segment when she shared Sherri's question: "I recently saw a letter written to the editor of our local newspaper by a young college student. He claims that Romans 13:1-4 clearly supports the Supreme Court gay marriage decision! He writes: “Since the Bible says that government is from God, therefore everyone must submit to the government! Even Christians! These verses will not only shut up the bigots, but will settle this argument once and for all!” Using the Bible this way to validate their sinful lifestyle not only contradicts what God said about homosexuality, but it’s downright blasphemous! I want to respond, but how do I reply in a benevolent manner where I can show and correct him without sounding malicious or condescending? After all, we are to love the sinner and hate the sin. Thank you."

Here is Pat's rambling answer:
You get condescending and you say, “Look, he’s wrong.” That’s how you start. You can’t have people misinterpret the Bible. The Bible... The Bible… First of all, the government… The Supreme Court has issued a ruling. That ruling… I tell you what. In the legal system, Party A says Party B over marriage, “I want to get married to them.” And the court says “Okay. You can get married.” That doesn’t mean that I’m going to get married to a homosexual. It doesn’t mean that you have to. Nor does it mean that it’s the law of the land. Congress didn’t pass any law. Your state legislature didn’t pass any law. So you’re not under anything. It’s a decision of the Court over a couple of people. They would like to make it bigger than that, but in terms of the Constitution it isn’t.
I love that Pat tells Sherri to go ahead and be condescending towards the letter-writer who supports marriage equality. I'm not sure, however, that Pat's rambling response really provided much of an informative response.

But I find it interesting that a court decision that only cover a "couple of people" warrants this much airtime on "The 700 Club!"

You can listen to the whole segment here. There's an interesting question early on where another letter-writer complains (and gets support from both Pat and Wendy) about getting proselytized by a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses. In other words, it's okay for them to push their beliefs on others. But keep away others who might want to share their own religious truths!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Who Is No Name?

I've written a few times about Charlton Neo, which is a resurrection of the classic Charlton Comics lines; as well as Pix-C Web Comics, which features public domain characters from Charlton Comics as well as a few other original characters. Pix-C Web Comics features strips from a variety of genres, including superhero, horror, action, and humor romance. But they recently launched three new strips, including an action/adventure tale titled NO NAME!

NO NAME is a new character created by P.D. Angel Gabriel with dialogue by Mort Todd. This weekly strip appears to be set in a post-apocalyptic future.

"No Name" is a mysterious traveler who lacks memories of his past. He has no history, no family, and no name. However, he finds himself being drawn to the "City of Answers," which is nestled deep within the jungle that he calls home.

His journey to the City of Answers is quickly interrupted by a young woman in a purple dress. She appears to be a sacrificial offering to "the Protectors." We don't know much about them except that you need to have their favor if you want to travel on "The Road." Oh, and they're big!

I don't know much about Izor the Protector, but he's definitely an eyesore!

I'm still not sure exactly where this story is heading, but so far it's been a lot of fun! You too can read No Name's first adventure -- not to mention Yang, No Name, Tuffy Turtle, N.E.O., Skyman, The Knightingales, Deathwatch, The Spookman, Sadistik, Ms. Molecule, and several other great characters, by becoming a patron of Pix-C Web Comics. Those who become patrons (for as little as $1 per month) gain access to several weekly online comic strips. The more you pledge, the more perks you qualify for. I've been contributing $30 per month towards this venture. I encourage to you to become a patron too!

"Survivors" 40th Anniversary: Episode 25 ("Over The Hills")

This is the twenty-fifth 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.

This episode focused a lot on Melanie, Alan, and the rest of the "new arrivals" from last episode. It seems that the remains of "Carter's Commune" have gained two new members prior to this episode, Ann and Barbara (played by Nula Conwell and Linda Robson). The young people live, love, and play together in the Old Mill. Melanie regulates the womens' menstrual cycles to reduce the likelihood of pregnancy.

Except that this planning wasn't terribly successful for young Sally, who had a dalliance with Alan:

Soon enough, Ruth confirmed that Sally is roughly three months pregnant with Alan's baby, except that Alan has eyes for Mel:

Sally wants Alan to marry her -- or, as they typically do in "Survivors," share a home --, but Alan doesn't want to be tied down. He tells her that everyone will help raise the baby. This doesn't impress Sally much.

And then there is Hubert he keeps on leering at Sally and calling her a slut. Remind me again why they don't have a special ghetto at Whitecross for Hubert to live in where he cannot interact with anyone else??

This leads Sally to seek a permanent solution to her pregnancy problem:

Charles is horrified that Sally wants an abortion. He's even more upset when he learns that most of the women at Whitecross don't want babies. He decides to throw a party celebrating Sally's pregnancy in an attempt to convince her that giving birth in a post-apocalyptic world is easy-peasy.

Charles makes a huge speech about how wonderful it is that they have a new baby coming to Whitecross and how they will all be mothers and fathers for the baby and that the baby will gain new siblings in the form of Paul, John, Lizzie, etc. I can't help but wonder what happened to Baby Matthew from Episode 19? It was mentioned that Whitecross has only had one baby, and yet Mina also has a little baby boy. Did he die between episodes??

The teens and twentysomethings run off to the Mill to throw a party. They have the place wired up with psychedelic lights and a record player that are all hooked up to an exercise bike for power. Pete pedals and Paul drums and the rest of them dance like crazy!

They then decide to do their special Game. Listen to John describe the Game:

We then realize that Sally is playing the Game, with the help of Melanie, Ann, and Barbara in order to induce a miscarriage. Sadly -- and much to Charles' chagrin -- she succeeds!

But not all is lost! Greg manages to harness his methane gas and produce a working engine! He plans to use this to operate a tractor. This proves much more motivating for the younger crowd than Sally's pregnancy. Mel agrees to quit playing the Game.

Here are some interesting odds and ends. There are currently 28 people at Whitecross. I'm assuming that this includes all of the children. I need to run through the numbers on my own sometime soon.

We learn that Jenny has been avoiding Greg at night so that she won't get pregnant for a second time.

We learn that Pet really wants to get pregnant, but has been unsuccessful so far. She tried seducing Greg in this episode. She figured that she shows that he's fertile, so he seemed like a sure bet for getting her pregnant. However, Charles never told her about the other women that he impregnated earlier in the series! (Jon's Note: I'm not quite certain that I believe that revelation. I could have sworn that she was around when Charles told Greg about his other children earlier this season.)

We have one more balloon-filled episode left in Series 2. It's called "New World" and it heralds the start of something completely new in Series 3!