Variant cover to “X-Men” #1, Jim Lee, 1991

I previously identified the variant covers for Jim Lee’s first issue as a single four-section fold-out.  That was a mistake.  These were four variant covers for Issue #1 that comprised a larger picture when you placed them side-by-side.

In 1991, this racked up $7 million in revenue from preorder alone, and was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as the best selling comic book of all time.





Throwback Thursday: Spider-Man and Wolverine teamup in “Perceptions” (1991)

These were the first comics featuring Wolverine that I ever owned — the 1991 Spider-Man “Perceptions” storyline in which he guest-starred.  This had gorgeous, unique art by Todd McFarlane.  (I think he scripted it too.)

This would have been when I was a sophomore in college, and it was even before McFarlane would go on to form Image Comics and launch his most famous character, Spawn.






A very short review of “Don’t Hang Up” (2017)

“Don’t Hang Up” (2017) is an absolutely derivative horror movie that nevertheless manages to be halfway decent.  I’d rate it a 7 out of 10.

We follow a handful of older teenage boys whose favorite avocation is perpetrating cruel prank phone calls and then posting them on the Internet.  The horror genre’s penchant for vengeance should make their comeuppance predictable.  “Don’t Hang Up” seems to borrow in equal (large) measure from the “Saw” and “Scream” film franchises, with touches of “Unfriended” (2014) and even “Silence of the Lambs” (1991).

Still, this was a halfway serviceable scary movie.  There were nice moments of tension, and it held my interest.

This doesn’t belong on anyone’s must-see list, but it’s a fun enough time-waster if you can’t find a better movie.



A quick review of “Wolf Creek 2” (2013)

Is “Wolf  Creek 2” (2013) a well made film?  Yes.  It’s exceptionally well made.  Would  I recommend it?  I’m not sure.

I’d rate it a perfect 10.  Its technical expertise in undeniable.  The cast is roundly excellent.  John Jarratt is absolutely perfect in the role he seems born for.  He’s so effectively menacing as this film’s serial killer that I think I’d find it unnerving even meeting the actor in real life.  The only other actor I think I can say that about is Ted Levine, who so indelibly portrayed Buffalo Bill in “Silence of the Lambs” (1991).

Ryan Corr is damn perfect, as are the actors in smaller roles.  I think Shannon Ashlyn portrays terror better than any other actress I’ve seen.  She isn’t just a horror movie “scream queen;” her performance was so skilled that she rises above such a trite label.  (And I’ve seen a lot of horror movies, people.)

It’s extremely well directed.  The conclusion of an action sequence involving a truck must have looked downright stupid on the page, but damn if Greg McLean doesn’t make it plausible and shocking.

The entire movie is gorgeously shot.  It was enough to make me want to visit Australia … if the story didn’t make want to stay the hell away from Australia.

I just get the impression that some movie studio planned to produce a generic, derivative slasher movie … but just inexplicably employed the best creative talent available for all aspects of its creation.

Now, about my reluctance to recommend this …  Please understand that this film is incredibly dark, even by horror movie standards.  At times it was just too much for me.  I actually stopped playing this on Netflix several times to “take a break with something lighter” by watching “The Walking Dead.”  Yes, you read that right.

The story depicted is just brutal.  There are very few movies that are too dark for me … I think I could count them on one hand.  (And one was 2005’s original “Wolf Creek.”)  And this film is just so masterfully made that its victims seem like real people suffering — something at which the “Saw” films and various other slasher movies rarely succeeded.

I honestly think it might have been so “good” that it went past the point of entertaining me.  Can I honestly recommend a movie that I felt the need to switch off?

You make your own call.  Again — this is exceedingly dark material, even by horror movie standards.  But if you think you’re up to it, watch it.


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Throwback Thursday: PRESIDENT LEN!!!

Anyone who’s listened even briefly to blog correspondent Len Ornstein knows he’s a man with deep-seated opinions about politics and statesmanship.  What few may know is that he was once quite a distinguished statesman himself.

This September 1991 article in the Mary Washington College Bullet covers Len’s rise to becoming Student Council President.  He was quite the dark horse candidate — the article indeed notes that he went from “pariah to president.”  Len was a bit of a provocateur in the old days, rattling the political order by criticizing the existing council for being too little engaged with the student body.  He handily won the election, though, after a spirited grassroots campaign in which he simply met and introduced himself to voters on Campus Walk.  (I still remember him doing this, and it was something the other candidates were not doing.)

Note also that the newly elected Vice President was a one Pete Bucellato — another good friend of mine and another eccentric Long Islander.  It’s a wonder the kids at the Virginia state school didn’t dub them “Grant and Sherman.”

We fared well under your stewardship, Len!!