Friday, August 31, 2012

Spider-Man 50th Anniversary Top 10 Stories

During the early 1960's, Marvel Comics began a new age of modern comic books with the introduction of a new super-hero team The Fantastic Four in 1961 trying to compete with DC Comics' Justice League of America. Created by Writer/Editor Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, The Fantastic Four quickly gained popularity and Marvel began introducing more characters such as The Incredible Hulk, The X-Men, Iron Man, Thor and of course Spider-Man. Co-creator Stan Lee envisioned a teenage super-hero with the powers of a spider, until then teenagers usually took on the role of side-kick (i.e. Robin, Speedy, Kid Flash). Artist Steve Ditko designed the now-famous webbed, red and blue costume and thus "The Amazing Spider-Man" first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 August, 1962. The book was on the verge of being canceled so Marvel took a gamble introducing the character in the last issue of the series. Months later, Spider-Man created such a positive reaction that it was inevitable he get his own title. And so The Amazing Spider-Man #1 was released in March, 1963. 50 years later, Spider-Man is one of the most popular comic book superheroes of all time. He has been adapted into movies, cartoons, toys, video games and is known all around the world! To celebrate Spider-Man's 50th Anniversary, CHERNOBOG'S BLOG Proudly Presents The Top 10 Spider-Man Stories:

#10 "The Conversation", Spider-Man (Vol.2) #38, 2001 - Written by J. Michael Straczynski, Art by John Romita Jr. - Aunt May (finally) discovers that Peter is Spider-Man!

#9 "The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man" - The Amazing Spider-Man #248, January, 1984 - Written by Roger Stern, Art by Ron Frenz - Spider-Man meets his biggest fan, young Tim Hammond who is terminally ill with leukemia and even reveals to him his secret identity!

#8 The Black Costume - Secret Wars #8, December, 1984 & The Amazing Spider-Man #252 -  The cosmic entity The Beyonder teleports many superheroes and supervillains to "Battleworld" for the ultimate battle! After Spider-Man's costume is damaged during a fight, he finds a mysterious black substance that envelops him and becomes his new black costume. Although Spider-Man is unaware that it is in fact an alien symbiote and will later abandon it.

#7 The Origin of Venom - First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #299, April, 1988 - Written by David Michelinie, Art by Todd McFarlane - When Spider-Man abandoned his black costume after discovering it was alive, the alien symbiote found Eddie Brock, who hated Spider-Man as well. The two join and become Venom, one of Spider-Man's deadliest and most popular villain of the 1990's who would later get his own title as an anti-hero.

#6 ""How Green Was My Goblin!" - The Amazing Spider-Man #39-40, August-September, 1966 - Written by Stan Lee, Art by John Romita Sr. - Green Goblin learns that Spider-Man is Peter Parker and captures him, then reveals his true identity as Norman Osborn!

#5 "The Master Planner Saga", The Amazing Spider-Man #30-33, November 1965-February 1966, Written by Stan Lee, Art by Steve Ditko - While Peter Parker/Spider-Man has to deal with the Master Planner Gang,  Aunt May is very sick.  After a gang fight Spider-Man is trapped under tons of wreckage. Through force of will and determination he frees himself. Issue #31 also marks the first appearance of Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn.

#4  "The Death of Gwen Stacy" - The Amazing Spider-Man #121-122, June-July 1973, Written by Gerry Conway, Art by Gil Kane - One of the most tragic storylines in the history of Spider-Man! The Green Goblin kidnaps Gwen Stacy and challenges Spider-Man on top of the George Washington Bridge. When the Green Goblin throws her off the bridge, Spider-Man catches her by her leg with his web which inadvertently snaps her neck and kills her. In his anger Spider-Man nearly kills the Green Goblin but he is impaled by his own glider.

#3 "Kraven's Last Hunt", Web of Spider-Man #31-32, Amazing Spider-Man #293-294, Spectacular Spider-Man #131-132 - Written by J.M. DeMatteis, Art by Mike Zeck - In this multiple-title story-arc, this story features the final battle between Spider-Man (Black Costume) and Kraven the Hunter, one of Spider-Man's most dangerous villains!

#2 "Spider-Man No More!" The Amazing Spider-Man #50 -Written by Stan Lee, Art by John Romita Sr. - Frustrated with his life, Peter Parker tries to give up being Spider-Man, but realizes he is unable to quit.

#1 "The Origin of Spider-Man", Amazing Fantasy #15 August, 1962, Written by Stan Lee, Art by Steve Ditko - When young Peter Parker is bit by a radioactive spider, he gains the proportionate powers of a spider and seeks to use his new powers and a costume to earn money in show business. After a criminal kills his Uncle Ben he seeks out his killer and vows to fight crime because "with great power comes great responsibility."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Movie Review: ParaNorman

With the resurgence of stop-motion animation we are seeing a new age of family entertainment where both stop-motion and computer generated animation merge into a new wonderful film experience! In the tradition of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Focus Features and Laika Studios present us with ParaNorman, a hysterically chilling story about how being different and special may not always be an easy thing to live with.
Take Norman Babcck (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a seemingly normal middle-school student who is obsessed with horror/zombie movies. Aside from being socially awkward and a misunderstood misfit, Norman has the ability to speak to ghosts, and of course...nobody believes him. Norman lives in Blithe Hollow, Massachusetts, a small town very similar to Salem, Massachusetts. And like Salem, Blithe Hollow also has a colorful, yet cursed history.
300 years ago, Agatha Pendergast (Jodelle Ferland) was accused of witchcraft and sentenced to death by seven of her fellow villagers including Judge Hopkins (Bernard Hill). Still today, the whole town is witch crazy with witch themed tourist attractions and a solid-bronze statue of a caricature of the Blithe Hollow Witch herself! Even Norman's school, Blithe Hollow Middle School is putting on a play called "The Witch's Curse" to mark the anniversary of the witch's death. While Norman tries to lead a normal life despite constant tormenting by a bully named Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), he has only one friend, the peculiar and chubby Neil Down (Tucker Albrizzi).
While Norman's family life is no different: his father Perry Babcock (Jeff Garlin) doesn't understand him, his mother Sandra Babcock (Leslie Mann) tries to ignore his eccentricities, and as for his older sister Courtney (Anna Kendrick), who thinks he's a freak! The only relatives who really understand him are his grandmother (Elaine Stritch) who is of course dead and an estranged and "crazy" uncle, Mr. Pendergast (John Goodman). On his way home from school, he encounters his supposedly crazy uncle who tells him that he also sees the dead and tells Norman he must perform a ritual with a special book at the witch's grave by sundown or the dead will rise from the grave. Although Norman is sceptical at first, he finds the book and the graves of the witch's seven accusers, but something goes wrong and they rise from their graves as zombies. As the witch's curse is about to come true Norman, along with a group of unlikely allies including Courtney, Alvin, Neil, and his muscular brother Mitch (Casey Affleck) must find away to end the curse and send the zombies back to the grave!
ParaNorman comes from the same animation studio who brought us the adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Coraline (2009), directed by Henry Selick. With highly detailed stop-motion animation combined with computer animation, ParaNorman, like Coraline is both visually stunning and has an entertaining story with an element of horror. Although highly original, ParaNorman can be compared to The Sixth Sense (1999) meets The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993). The character of Norman especially, reminds me of Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, although less tragic as Norman has come to terms with his "gift" as he often makes frequent pleasant conversations with the multitude of apparitions who inhabit his town, including his grandmother who sits on the couch and knits as if she were still alive.
Directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell have a great deal of experience in both stop-motion and computer animation as writer/director Chris Butler worked on Coraline and Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (2005) as Sam Fell was the director of Flushed Away (2006) and The Tale of Despereaux (2008). I found ParaNorman to be delightfully entertaining and "relateable", particularly with the themes of being different and bullying which resonate heavily with the increasing problem in our schools today. As a fan of zombie movies I was surprised to see zombies along with references to death, ghosts, the occult and witchcraft/black magic included heavily in a PG rated family movie, as zombies have become more accepted in mainstream entertainment with AMC's The Walking Dead. Also there is quite a lot of adult-related humor in the movie which separates it from the typical animated "family movie" which is a refreshing change. While I feel that this may not do as well as I hoped in the theaters, this would have probably done better if it was released closer to Halloween like the new Tim Burton's .
The most fascinating aspect to this movie is the setting of Blithe Hollow, Massachusetts, as I said before, being so similar to Salem, Massachusetts in many ways. For anyone who has ever been to Salem as I have, you will understand the similarities in how Salem is so mired in the tragic events that occurred during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692, (which happens to be of personal interest to me) in which twenty people were accused of witchcraft and sentenced to death. The whole city is literally obsessed with witches as it has become a haven for the Wiccan population and is always a popular location during Halloween. The city was even dubbed "Witch City" and proudly displays the witch logo on everything from local shops and even on their police cars, they even have life-size bronze statue of Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) from the 1960s TV show "Bewitched"! (If you ever visit Salem, be sure to check out the Salem Witch Museum for a truly enlightening experience on the whole history of the event.) Like Salem, Blithe Hollow is also "witch crazy" and the population is perfectly content in continuing to perpetrate the lies and misinformation of myth and legend in order to cater to the tourist trade.
ParaNorman is a highly entertaining and visually stunning animated film, with an impressive and socially relevant subtext. If you enjoyed The Nightmare Before Christmas or Coraline, then you are in for a frighteningly fun experience! See it now before it returns to the grave!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Concert Review: Iron Maiden, Dallas, TX, 8/17/12

Last night I had the pleasure of experiencing for the second time in my life, a concert performance by THE best live heavy metal band in the world: IRON MAIDEN! As part of the tail end of the Maiden England North American Tour 2012, they played at the Gexa Energy Pavilion in Dallas, Texas. Opening for Maiden was the alternative metal band Coheed and Cambria, promoting their new double album The Afterman, who put on an impressive set including songs such as "Running Free" and "Welcome Home". The weather was a typical August night in North-East Texas, in the mid-90s but cloudy. Just as Coheed & Cambria finished their set, there were huge, dark, thunderstorm clouds on the horizon, but thankfully the storm went around us and brought with it a cooling breeze as night fell and Iron Maiden began. Before Maiden began however, the venue played "Doctor Doctor" by UFO over the loudspeakers in tribute. Iron Maiden's stage set up had an arctic theme to it with large murals of icebergs which was accompanied by a video montage of arctic settings during the introduction followed by the song "Moonchild".
The show continued as Maiden played "Can I Play with Madness" followed by "The Prisoner" with an introduction on screen of scenes from the song's namesake: the cult 1960's British TV show The Prisoner. After playing "2 Minutes to Midnight", singer Bruce Dickinson spoke about a show they did for the U.S. 7th Cavalry followed by "Afraid to Shoot Strangers". As the band went into "The Trooper", which has become one of their most notable songs, Bruce Dickinson dons a British military "red coat" uniform and proudly waves a large United Kingdom Flag, a.k.a. "Union Jack". As the band started to play "The Number of the Beast", which is arguably their most popular song (and one of my favorites) they featured a large hoofed devil-figure atop the stage who turned his head surveying the crowd as they played.
Next they played "Phantom of the Opera" and "Run to the Hills" where surprisingly, they brought out their mascot Eddie, dressed in a caricatured General Custer costume. Afterwards they continued with "Wasted Years" (another fan-favorite), followed by one of their longest songs: "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" and then "The Clairvoyant". They finished their set with the highly popular "Fear of the Dark" and of course their title song from their first album: "Iron Maiden". While their set included mostly classic and popular songs, (however devoid of such favorites as "Hallowed Be Thy Name" or "Be Quick or Be Dead") I was surprised they did not include any songs from the more modern albums such as Brave New World (2000) or even their most recent release The Final Frontier (2010) which was featured prominently during their 2010 tour, which was the last time I saw Iron Maiden at the same venue (See my past review). The show did however feature more songs from the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988) and Fear of the Dark (1992) era, which no doubt pleased many of the fans. Of the many changing depictions of Eddie on their various backgrounds and stage props, the most impressive was from "Seventh Son..." including a huge mechanical Eddie complete with pulsing brain in hand!
After a short break the band returned for an encore with "Aces High" which included images from WWII era news reels and Winston Churchill's famous speech. They ended the show with "The Evil That Men Do" and another old-school hit, "Running Free". While the crowd was clearing out, as usual, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" from Monty Python's The Life of Brian over the speakers.
It never fails that Iron Maiden consistently delivers extraordinarily fantastic shows and has rarely disappointed fans over the 30 years of their existence. It has always been Iron Maiden's forte to provide quality shows utilizing their own unique qualities of musicianship, theatricality and showmanship. Over the years they have included several new features into their live shows from huge multimedia presentations, lights and pyrotechnic effects, along with complex mechanized and animatronic characters with the various incarnations of "Eddie". This year marks the 30th anniversary of The Number of the Beast (1982) in which singer Bruce Dickinson replaced original vocalist Paul Di'Anno, leading the band to a whole new level of success and popularity. Despite Bruce having left the band in 1993, and he was replaced by briefly Blaze Bayley, but Bruce returned in 1999 and has since continued on with the continuation of the band's definitive lineup. Even after over 30 years Iron Maiden continues to be THE best live heavy metal band in the world, achieving worldwide fame and acclaim particularly due to their ability to travel anywhere in the world thanks largely to their own personal 757 jet-aircraft "Ed Force One" piloted by Bruce Dickinson himself. (See the documentary Flight 666). For any fan of Iron Maiden or live heavy metal shows, theirs is always an exciting and rewarding experience definitely NOT to be missed! \m/

LINKS: Iron Maiden Official Website, Iron Maiden on Facebook, Iron Maiden on Twitter

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Big Bang Theory

I just wanted to share this image from my favorite episode of "The Big Bang Theory" I got from, Episode #54 "The Einstein Approximation"! I just recently got into the show and it has quickly become one of my favorites. Since I don't regularly watch sitcoms "Big Bang Theory" has all the nerdy bits I love and relate too! I have so much in common with the main characters that it's almost scary, particularly Sheldon and all his eccentricities. Bazinga! Be sure to watch new episodes of "The Big Bang Theory" on CBS!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chernobog's Guide To Disney World

I recently took a trip with my family to the "Happiest Place on Earth": The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida! My family and I have been to Disney World at least 22 times since I was 6 years old and surprisingly, we've been to Disneyland in Anaheim, California (as a family) only once! To many, Disney World is merely an expensive amusement park, but to those families like mine who are part of the Disney Vacation Club, it is an amazing experience and a "Magical way to vacation!" It is hard to describe why we return to this place on almost a yearly basis, but truly we have so many fond memories and I couldn't imagine our life without Disney in our lives. Disney is so much a part of our lives that one of my favorite Disney villains (Chernabog) was the basis for my website ( and this blog! After returning home sunburned and exhausted, we can't help but start planning for our next trip (around Christmas)! As Summer comes to an end I thought it would be a nice change to provide my readers with my own take on Disney World along with a few insider tips and favorite attractions that may help you plan your own trip to Disney World. CHERNOBOG'S BLOG Presents: Chernobog's Guide To Walt Disney World!
Disney World is so much more than a theme/amusement park. Ever since Walt Disney opened Disneyland in 1955, he felt limited by the size of land available and sought to expand with a new park in Florida. During the 1960's the Walt Disney Company spent years planning Walt Disney World and EPCOT. After the unfortunate death of Walt Disney in 1966 he never saw his dream realized and left the company to his brother Roy O. Disney, who died shortly after the opening of The Magic Kingdom in 1971. The second park EPCOT opened in 1982 and in 1989, the resort added Disney's MGM Studios which was later renamed Disney's Hollywood Studios. The latest addition to the park, Disney's Animal Kingdom, opened in 1998. Disney World also includes two separate water parks: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Not only does Disney World feature high-quality amusement parks but also exceptional hotel, dining and shopping experiences especially at Downtown Disney!
As I said before, Disney World is more than just a theme park, it's actually four parks in one! I will briefly cover each of these parks including some of my favorite attractions, rides and restaurants and even a few tips to make for a magical vacation!

The Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom, Cinderella's Castle at night
Although very similar to the Magic Kingdom in Disneyland, Disney World's Magic Kingdom is much larger and is currently expanding even more. Centered around the towering Cinderella's Castle, The Magic Kingdom consists of several themed lands which include Main Street U.S.A., Liberty Square, Adventure Land, Frontier Land, Fantasy Land and Tomorrow Land. While this is certainly the most popular park in all of Disney World, this is also the busiest and most crowded of all the parks. While many events and attractions are best seen during the day, it is at night when the park really comes alive, especially with "The Main Street Electrical Parade" and also the nightly fireworks spectacular: "Wishes"!

Magic Kingdom Favorites:
  • The Haunted Mansion (Liberty Square) - My favorite since I was 6 years old. This delightfully dark and hauntingly hilarious ride features 999 grim-grinning ghosts inhabiting this impressive Gothic-style Mansion.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean (Adventureland) - Before Jack Sparrow, there was the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. This slow-moving water ride takes you into the world of fabled Caribbean pirates featuring scenes depicting ship battles, raiding, pillaging, drinking and debauchery accompanied by the catchy theme song "Yo-Ho, Yo-Ho, A Pirates Life for Me"!
  • The Hall of Presidents (Liberty Square) - A fascinating show featuring animatronic figures of all 44 Presidents of the United States of America, including speeches from George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and our current president.
  • Aloha Isle (Adventureland) - Just inside Adventureland is a little snack shack where the greatest creation ever is located: The Dole Pineapple Whip Float! This is my favorite spot for a cool refreshment on a hot day at Disney World. With pineapple juice and soft-serve ice cream, this tropical concoction is to die for! We tried to order the ingredients online and make it ourselves at home, but nothing compares to the real thing! Get it before it melts!
EPCOT, Spaceship Earth
A truly unique and innovative park, EPCOT was originally conceived as an "Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow". EPCOT includes two parts: Future World and World Showcase, which features pavilions representing 11 countries. Surrounding the huge Spaceship Earth, Future World features exhibits both exciting and educational. A center for new technologies and scientific discoveries, EPCOT is one of the largest and most spread-out of all the parks at Disney World. World Showcase is like a short trip around the world as you visit countries including America, Mexico, Canada, China, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Italy, France, Morocco and Norway. Many of the countries include their own attractions, rides, movies, and restaurants all with their own cultural flair. Be sure to stay for EPCOT's nightly fireworks display: "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth". EPCOT was a major part of Walt Disney's concepts of the future and his ideas for "Edu-tainment" by trying to be both educational and entertaining. For most of it's early history it suffered from low attendance and disinterest, but recently it has grown due to the addition of rides like Mission: Space, TestTrack and Soarin'. World Showcase is particularly one of my favorite places to be, I have always been fascinated by other cultures and countries since I was young (in the '80s) which I always thought as unusual because kids always seemed uninterested, despite Disney's determination to keep kids interested, thus the recent additions of KidCot and the Kim Possible Interactive Game.

Future World Favorites:
  • The Seas with Nemo & Friends - Formerly known as The Living Seas, The Seas contains one of the world's largest saltwater aquariums and an underwater sea-base. Shortly after the release of Disney/Pixar's Finding Nemo (2003) the attraction changed it's name and included Turtle Talk with Crush to appeal to a younger audience but still retains it's original purpose featuring dolphins, manatees, sharks, sea turtles and a variety of sea-life. The attraction is joined by the Coral Reef Restaurant, a wonderful seafood restaurant featuring a huge view of the aquarium.
  • Spaceship Earth - This unique, slow-moving ride features a journey through time following the history of human civilization and communication. Currently narrated by Judi Dench.
World Showcase Favorites:
  • American Adventure Pavilion - At the American Pavilion is THE greatest American themed show at Disney World next to The Hall of Presidents at Liberty Square/Magic Kingdom: "The American Adventure", a truly impressive and moving show featuring animatronic players. Hosted by Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain (fully animatronic), the show chronicles the history of the United States from the Pilgrims to the 21st Century.
  • Japan Pavilion - One of my favorite countries in the World Showcase, Japan includes Mitsukoshi, part of the oldest Japanese department store chains which features Tokyo Dining: authentic Japanese Teppanyaki style cooking with tempura and sushi. The Japan pavilion also features an outdoor performance by Matsuriza, playing traditional Taiko drums.
  • Germany Pavilion - Modeled after a 16th century German cobblestone town, the German Pavilion features authentic German cuisine and beer! If you want the full German dining experience, be sure to make reservations at Biergarten Restauraunt featuring the traditional Bavarian music of Oktoberfest Musikanten! "Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi!"
  •  The Maelstrom/Norway Pavilion - Norwegian Vikings have always held a huge fascination for me and the Norway pavilion features both a Viking Museum and a ride called The Maelstrom an exciting boat-ride through the era of Vikings and trolls!
Hollywood Studios
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Formerly known as Disney's MGM Studios, Hollywood Studios is an attraction all about the magic of movies! The main street of the park is reminiscent of the heyday of Hollywood during the 1930's featuring a replica of the classic Grauman's Chinese Theatre  housing The Great Movie Ride! Some of the biggest events in Disney World are held at Hollywood Studios! In the Summer, they host my favorite event of the year: Star Wars Weekends, featuring celebrity guests and parades including costumed members of the 501st Legion Florida Garrison and Rebel Alliance. During Christmas time, Hollywood Studios presents the Osborne (Not Ozzy!) Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights with thousands of sparkling lights choreographed to music! Be sure to ride the Studio Backlot Tour for a journey behind the scenes of movie making!

Hollywood Studios Favorites:
  • Star Tours - Opened in 1989, Star Tours is the only ride based on the phenomenally popular Star Wars movies. As a huge Star Wars fan myself, this is my favorite ride in Hollywood Studios. The ride originally featured an experience as a passenger on a Star Tours shuttle piloted by a rookie droid who takes you into a battle between The Empire and the Rebel Alliance. When the ride was closed for improvement in 2010, many fans (including me) were upset when it was announced that the ride would incorporate 3D and locations from the newer prequel movies. The ride re-opened in the Summer of 2011 as Star Tours - The Adventures Continue (See Star Tours 2 Live) now (accidentally) piloted by C-3P0 (Voiced by Anthony Daniels) where riders experience random, multiple destinations in the Star Wars Universe!
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular - A huge stage-show performance featuring some of the stunt work featured in the classic Indiana Jones movie Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). The show includes a giant boulder, fire and explosive stunts and even functional stunt cars and a bomber plane! Always a thrill to watch if you're a fan of the Indiana Jones movies, don't miss it!
  • Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater - My favorite restaurant in Hollywood Studios, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater is a truly unique dining experience! The whole restaurant is an indoor mock-up of a circa 1950's drive-in movie theater, complete with car shaped tables and booths with a huge movie screen featuring vintage cartoons and trailers of horror/sci-fi B-movies such as Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959).
  • Fantasmic! - The most epic and phenomenal multi-media stage show ever, Fantasmic features classic Disney characters and villains in a dream-like performance. Watch as Villains such as The Evil Queen, Ursula, Malificent, Scar, Jafar and of course Chernabog (from Fantasia) attempt to take over Mickey Mouse's imagination in a spectacular show filled with fireworks, water, fire and special effects! A must see, only 2 shows per night!
The Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Animal Kingdom is the latest park at Disney World and is one of the most elaborate animal attractions in the world! More than just a zoo, Animal Kingdom is divided into 7 different unique areas including: Asia, Africa, The Oasis, Dinoland U.S.A. (featuring a ride based on Disney's Dinosaur), Camp Minnie-Mickey, Discovery Island and Rafiki's Planet Watch. The entire park revolves around a giant artificial Tree of Life featuring carvings of hundreds of animals built around an oil derrick frame. Animal Kingdom focuses on conservation and features rare and exotic animals from all over the world. The newest addition to the park is Expedition Everest, a high-speed roller coaster featuring the Abominable Snowman!

Animal Kingdom Favorites
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris - A up-close driven safari on board specially modified trucks over a simulated African Savannah where you can view all kinds of animals out in the open such as Black Rhinos, Crocodiles, Elephants, Giraffes, Lions and Zebras. Prepare for an extremely bumpy ride and do NOT sit in the back!
  • Maharajah Jungle Trek - A wonderful walking tour of the animals of Asia including Bats (my favorite!), Komodo Dragons and Tigers, also a huge aviary filled with many exotic birds.
  • Yak & Yeti Restaurant - A wonderful restaurant serving Pan-Asian cuisine in an lavish Oriental/Indian setting. I recommend the Fried Wontons!
Disney World Tips:
  • Stay on property at any of Disney's fine resort hotel to avoid any transportation problems. (I recommend Animal Kingdom Lodge, Old Key West Resort, Wilderness Lodge, or Polynesian Resort. Or budget resorts All-Stars, Pop-Century and the New Art of Animation Resort!)
  • Make use of Disney's bus lines which run all over the park and to every resort and hotel on property.
  • Travel light for warm weather, wear hats and/or sunglasses, bring lots of bottled water and sunscreen (especially in the Summer)!
  • Make use of Disney's Fast Pass to ensure you get through the long lines at many of the attractions.
  • If you are a guest at select Disney hotels, be sure to take advantage of the exclusive Extra Magic Hours both early and late park times.
  • Be sure to take a break during the heat of the day to return to your hotel to rest or cool down with a swim.
  • Disney is known for their exceptional customer service, take that into account and you will never be disappointed!
  • Make use of the Disney's Mobile Apps for iPhone and Android!
  • Most importantly: Have fun!!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Top 10 Batman Stories

First Appearance of The Batman
Now that the hype over The Dark Knight Rises has calmed down a little and not to mention the subsequent reaction over the Aurora, Colorado theater shootings, I would like to continue blogging as usual...and since it's Wednesday, being new comic book day, I wanted to look back at all the great Batman stories that have impressed and inspired over the years. I have been a huge Batman fan almost all my life. Ever since watching the "Super-Friends" and "Batman" cartoons of the late 70's reruns and the "Super-Powers" show. I even enjoyed the laughable '60's TV show when I was a kid and grew up during the height of the original Tim Burton Batman movie and of course remarkable "Batman: The Animated Series". Since his first appearance in "Detective Comics" #27 in May, 1939, THE Batman has gone through many different incarnations from dark avenger to family-friendly crusader and back again. For over 70-years there have been many talented writers and artists who have added to the Batman mythos some changing the character forever or forgotten in the annals of comics history. Creator Bob Kane left a legacy for generations of readers and fans and all those involved from Bill Finger, Denny O'Neil, Neal Adams, Alan Moore, Frank Miller, Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee and many others who have kept the Bat-signal lit over the years. CHERNOBOG'S BLOG Proudly Presents The Top 10 Batman Stories...Enjoy!

#10 "Gotham By Gaslight" (Feb. 1989) Written by Brian Augustyn, art by Michael Mignola - Originally a DC Comics one-shot it is considered to be the first "Elseworlds" story. Set in 1889, Batman searches for a murderer in Gotham City whose crimes resemble Jack the Ripper! The story spawned a sequel: "Master of the Future" in 1991.

#9 "The Long Halloween" (1996-1997) Written by Jeph Loeb, art by Tim Sale - With the success of the "Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Specials" by Loeb and Sale, the team reunited and published a 13-issue maxi-series featuring holiday themed storylines with some of Batman's major villains. Set in the early years of Batman's career, Batman tracks down a villain known as Holiday, who kills on holidays.

Breaking of the Bat
#8 "Batman: A Death in the Family" (1988-1989) Written by Jim Starlin, art by Jim Aparo with covers by Mike Mignola - Featured in the pages of "Batman" #s 426-429, the story followed the infamous events that lead to death of the second Robin (Jason Todd) who died at the hands of the Joker. The unique aspect to the story was that DC Comics planned two alternate endings where Robin either lived or died and left it to the readers to a vote by phone call to a 1-900 number. The vote was close, but ultimately Robin died horrifically in a bomb explosion. The disadvantage to the vote was that many who voted were not current readers and thought it was deciding the fate of the original Robin (Dick Grayson) who had recently become Nightwing.

#7 "Hush" (2002-2003) Written by Jeph Loeb, art by Jim Lee - A 12-issue storyline in featured in Batman #'s 608-619, Hush, is a mysterious stalker later revealed to be Dr. Thomas "Tommy" Elliot, a former childhood friend of Bruce Wayne's, who attempts to destroy Batman by manipulating many of Batman's allies and enemies.

#6 "Birth of the Demon" (1992) Written by Dennis O'Neil, art by Norm Breyfogle - Following the campy 1966 Batman TV show as the 1960's came to a close and the 70's began, Batman was going through some major changes. Under the direction of DC Comics editor Julius Schwartz and with the help of writer Dennis O'Neil and artist Neal Adams, Batman would once again return to his darker roots. With the change also came the introduction a new major villain: Ra's Al Ghul, The Demon's Head! Created by O'Neal and Adams, Ra's first appeared in Batman #232, June 1971, with the story "Daughter of the Demon" the daughter of Ra's al Ghul, Talia and Robin are kidnapped but it turns out all to be a plot by Ra's to prove whether Batman was worthy. "Birth of the Demon" is the telling of Ra's al Ghul's origin and the death of his wife surrounding a story where a dying Ra's sends his forces to search for new Lazarus pits which leads to the ultimate confrontation between The Demon and The Detective!

#5 "Batman: Arkham Asylum (A Serious House on Serious Earth)" (1989) Written by Grant Morrison, Illustrated by Dave McKean, lettering by Gaspar Saladino - A fully-painted graphic novel  All Hell breaks loose when the inmates of Arkham Asylum led by the Joker takes over and takes the staff hostage and threatens to kill them unless Batman agrees to meet with them. "Arkham Asylum" is a truly unique and disturbing story and an artistic masterpiece!

#4 "Knightfall" (1993-1994), Quite possibly the longest running crossover storyline in Batman's history with multiple writers and artists contributing to five different titles including "Detective Comics", "Batman", "Legends of the Dark Knight", "Shadow of the Bat" and spin-off titles "Robin" and "Catwoman". The story featured a new villain Bane, who plotted to "break" the Batman, first by releasing the inmates of Arkham Asylum and then beating Batman and breaking his back. The story continued with "KnightQuest" which featured a new Batman: Jean-Paul Valley (now Azrael) and his exploits as he defeats Bane and grows unstable until the conclusion "KnightsEnd" as Bruce Wayne returns and fights Valley for the title of Batman. Bruce wins but ultimately passes on the mantle of the Batman to Dick Grayson concluding the story with "KnightsEnd: Aftermath".

The Dark Knight Retunrs
#3 "Batman: Year One" (1987), Written by Frank Miller, art by David Mazzucchelli - Following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-1986), DC Comics rebooted many of it's titles including Superman and Batman. Featured in the pages of Batman #'s 404-407, this modern retelling of the origin and early career of The Batman, featuring Selina Kyle as the Catwoman a dominatrix prostitute. The story continued with Year Two in 1987 but with the events of Zero Hour in 1994, Year Two was erased from continuity. Later, Year Three retold the origin of Robin.

#2 "The Dark Knight Returns" (1986), Written by and art by Frank Miller - This Four-issue limited series tells the story of an aged Batman who comes out of retirement to battle the rising crime-rate of Gotham City, recruiting a young female Robin (Carrie Kelly). Batman goes to extremes in battling a gang called The Mutants, nearly killing The Joker and almost beating Superman to death! Afterward, Batman has a heart-attack and fakes his death.

#1 "Batman: The Killing Joke" (1988), Written by Alan Moore, art by Brian Bolland - This monumental one-shot graphic novel features the origin of The Joker, who started out as a petty-costumed criminal known as The Red Hood, who jumps into a vat of chemicals to escape the Batman but emerges permanently altered with white-skin, green hair and red-lips. Later The Joker attempts to drive Police Commissioner Gordon insane by imprisoning him in a cage at a freak show, then shoots and paralyzes Barbara Gordon (Batgirl, who later becomes Oracle). Batman soon tracks down the Joker but instead of fighting him attempts to offer to help him, putting an end to the madness. Joker declines and instead tells him a joke that actually makes Batman laugh.