Botcon 2014: I spiked the punch!. . .

. . . with my costume, that is. That's right folks, I attended Botcon 2014 this year -- the annual Transformers fan convention -- and I came dressed as civilian Spike Witwicky! I had a beige-ish button-down, jeans, work boots with a yellow hard hat. I also created a prop Soundwave that I could carry around. Here's an image from tfwiki that captures what I was going for, from the episode "Transport to Oblivion."
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Botcon started last week Wednesday (June the 18th) and concluded on Sunday (June the 22nd). I was visiting my sister in Los Angeles on vacation so I used the opportunity to pre-register. The website was a little confusing so I ended up pre-ordering a t-shirt and nothing else. It took me awhile to figure out that the cheapest package, the "mini-con" package, was only an add-on package anyways! And even the cheapest package was too much for my blood. I bought a general admission ticket for Saturday the 21st.
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In terms of conventions, I got a taste of pretty much everything BotCon had to offer. I've been to Wizard Worlds before in Chicagoland, as well as the smaller, more focused Windy City Comic-Con, but I've never had a fuller experience than the one I had at Botcon. I attended the panels, I walked around the room floor, I gawked at the costumes and I looked at the art. The only things I didn't partake in was the autograph line and the artists' alley.
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I attended a few panels: The "Hasbro Transformers Brand" panel, the "Women in Animation" panel and the "Art of Transformers" panel. The Brand panel was an unveiling of sorts, with slideshows of upcoming action figures in the series. Of particular note was the fact that the presentations broke the sector into "pre-school", "boy" and "fan" but the presenter was mindful enough to mention "girl" every time he mentioned "boy," and "daughter" every time he mentioned "son."

The biggest news I recall was the leader class Generations: Megatron as a tank. The powerpoint was pretty cute. When they unveiled the Megatron slide, they played the clip from the 1986 movie, where Megatron's staring down at Optimus and says, "I would have waited an eternity for this Prime! It's over." I've been waiting for a while for Legends class generations: Cosmos with Throttle, but I haven't seen him. . .
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In terms of the vendor area, I think I got a pretty good deal. I got a Laser Optimus Prime (RTS edition) and a Generations Wheeljack, for $15 each. I had already snaked my way through most of the vendor area so I figured $15 was the best I could get. Consider my woes when I found Laser Prime for a mere nine dollars at the last vendor booth I visited! I also found a $20 Cosmos, which wasn't a good enough deal for me, and a $100 Masterpiece Grimlock -- I passed on him because I couldn't figure out a way to get him into my luggage. I also saw a $100 Grimlock vs. Bruticus set, which I've been waiting on, but the price is pretty stable so I was OK getting it online.
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Here's an example of the fanart. You could submit entries into an art contest and the winners got prizes. You could make dioramas, color art, monochrome art. I was really happy about this section; it's not commonplace to your average comic book convention. Being a subset of comic book fans, Transformers is a lot more warm and cozy a fandom. It's smaller and so everything is more precious. Here's my loot in total, excepting the t-shirt:
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Thanks to my sister for helping me with all these photos. We took nearly 50, and to see them all you can check out the photobucket slideshow:

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My Secret Wars, let me show you them (Secret Wars II and Secret War)

Previously, on chezkevin. . .
The Beyonder, that crazy omnipotent cat, got all his Marvel action figures together and hit them against each other. Then Jim Shooter put them in a twelve-issue comic book series called "Secret Wars." Read more here:
Now, back to chezkevin. . .

Secret Wars didn't take a long time to churn out a sequel. In fact, the original writer Jim Shooter followed it up with Secret Wars II just a mere handful of months later, in 1985! Al Milgrom takes over the art and the style generally remains the same.

It's a direct follow-up to the Secret Wars, and puts you through the lens of the Beyonder as he attempts to gain understanding of this new human world, Earth, through experience. He becomes a crime boss, befriends a hooker, styles himself after 80s' Michael Jackson, and attempts to find love in a number of stories. Early on, each issue reads like a done-in-one of the Beyonder trying to experience life. There's a lot of re-hashing in each issue.

Eventually his experience becomes so unpleasant that he decides to wipe out all of existence, including his memory of it. It's a weird, non-super-hero story with superheroes, that constantly reminds you of the plight of living in a world of desire and the meaning of a finite life. By the time I got to the ninth and final issue, I just wanted to be done with the repetitive backtracking. You'd have to be a pretty big Marvel fan to like this story. I could do without this.

I wouldn't say Secret War is any better. It was a five-issue miniseries that, due to delays, ran from 2004 to 2005. Brian Bendis wrote it and Gabrielle Dell'Otto painted it.

It's the story of Nick Fury's "Secret War" against a country thought to be America's ally -- Latveria, under the control of Lucia von Bardas. Fury gathers a who's who in the Marvel U., Captain America, Luke Cage, the works.

There are what seems to be four issues of conspiracy that climax in the final fifth issue where you find out what actually happened. If you ask me, the beginning takes way too long to get moving, and this could have taken place in 3 issues or less.

I wouldn't purchase either one of these series with my own money.

I know, battle-damaged Spider-Man. I know

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Batman: The Black Mirror

I've been sitting on The Black Mirror for a while, and its due date is up, so now is a good time to talk about it!

Batman: The Black Mirror
by Scott Snyder, Jock and Francesco Francavilla
collects Detective Comics #871-877

Enter the cockpit into your wayback machine, and you'll remember that, for a while, Bruce Wayne was dead. For a year or three, his ward Dick Grayson took over the cape and cowl as the Batman. Detective Comics traded hands, and Scott Snyder took over with writing duties, teaming up with Jock and Francesco Francavilla before the DC Universe whacked the television and did a hard reboot.

This collection of eight issues is particularly powerful. I'm really satisfied with it, and it's hard for me to convey all of it to you.Snyder brings up a character from the past, James, son of Commissioner Jim Gordon that covers the major storyarc, over a smearing of smaller storyarcs. It's comics storytelling at its finest. Some of them take three issues, some of them are just one, but all of them create this great atmosphere. It's this intangible thing that comes together with the right colors, the right art and the right words.

Issue 874 really stands out to me. It's broken up into three parts, and tells the story of James meeting his father the Commissioner, while flashing back to this chilling memory of an incident during James' childhood. I've never read a more chilling conversation between father and son. Good job, Francavilla!

BONUS SCANS (mostly cool panels from Jock):

Cool cape in the water. This is from the issue where Batman fought an Orca.

And another one, with shadows. Super neat!

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Hey! It's that Spider-Man guy.

From Amazing Spider-Man #1 (2014), by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos

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It's -- it's crazy-town banana-pants!

As told by ghost Peter Parker, witnessing Doc Ock Spider-Man shake the hands of J. Jonah Jameson.

You just read that. Don't blame me, blame Superior Spider-Man, by Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman.

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