Gauntlet of the Geek: Are Licensed Comic Books Good for the Industry?

“Gauntlet of the Geek” is a new featured article where two of our writers debate on hot button issues in today’s nerd industry. We’re not paid to kiss ass, so see what happens when the white gloves come off and we let you all know how we really feel. Let us know whom you agree with.

Sherif’s opinion:

For the last 30-40 years in pop culture, one thing has remained constant – franchises survive. Think of your favorite fandoms – how many of them are new to the last twenty years? Star Wars, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Doctor Who, Disney…all of them have survived generations because of the way they replicate onto different mediums of consumption. Sure, tribal upbringing accounts for a fair amount of the influence, but these franchises, now corporations built off the blood money of thousands of parents desperate to immerse their offspring in the same stuff. And those blessed corporations care enough about we the consumer to keep putting out fresh material to relate one generation to the next, keeping these beloved fandoms alive. Where would TMNT be without the new Nickelodeon series? I’ll tell you where. In the retro section of a fucking Hot Topic, that’s where. Let’s not forget that the stuff kids find cool is only cool because television, movies, and toy stores tell them it’s cool. We’re just more accepting of it because we find it cool, too.

This is the price we have to pay to keep TMNT relevant.
This is the blood price we have to pay to keep TMNT relevant.

One of the best side effects of licensed comic books is the amount of pull and resources that it gives the creators. For example, the mountains of merchandising money that Disney and WB give Marvel and DC, respectively, have opened up the doors for them to take chances on titles for the lesser-known titles (like Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel – both of which have had HUGE success). It’s not so much making people who watch Iron Man want to pick up Extremis, but using the resources that the Iron Man movie’s exposure brings in to reallocate and try something new (which I admit is a doey-eyed way to look at the world. We all know these corporations don’t give a crap about us). Think of it as drug dealers buying winter clothing for local school children with their drug money.

I look at licensed comic books the same way I look at the honorary torch carrier at the Olympics. They shouldn’t be regarded with the elite status they once were. X-Files and Star Trek comic books should not be competing with Saga and D4VE, nor should they be marketed as such. Licensed comic books should be designed to engage readers to narrow the gaps between fandoms. One fan who loves comics but doesn’t know anything about Ghostbusters now has input to a conversation about those who love the movies but aren’t into comic books. It’s a beautiful thing when it happens.

How can you not be excited for this?? And how is Batman not impressed??
How can you not be excited for this?? And how is Batman not impressed??

However, the key is knowing when and how to bring some of the lesser-known books back into the spotlight. Unfortunately for us, there are some publishers out there who are filling nearly their entire catalog with 80’s franchises that just don’t fit in today, let alone in the comic book format. If you’re immediately thinking of IDW Publishing and Dynamite Entertainment, you’d be correct. A Django/Zorro crossover? A Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure 3? Escape From New York? Angry Birds?? You get the point. Since Image’s recent explosion of actual content in creator-owned titles, the smaller guys (BOOM!, IDW, Dynamite, Titan) have all resorted to making these kind of unnecessary branded titles part of their flagship titles, which can only end up giving the industry creative constipation.

Was it popular once? IDW will give it a miniseries!
Was it popular once? IDW will give it a miniseries!

With the successful integration of comic books into mainstream media, it’s only natural that these corporations would try to capitalize on the success of these franchises. Each of your favorite franchises began as a lowly “hopeful,” and while some of the crappier ones might be here for now, only the great ones remain. It’s how Buffyverse is still running. It’s how A Song of Ice and Fire will likely continue after George R. R. Martin ends the saga. Licensed comic books let creators continue telling stories even when they think nobody is listening anymore.

by Sherif Elkhatib

Montgomery’s opinion:
Let me get this out in the open right off the bat: licensed comics are terrible. It’s hard to pin down exactly why, but I’m going to see if I can narrow it down to a few easily observed facts. And before you get all uppity with me and shriek in your halting bat language, “But Montgomery! Don’t you semi-regularly gush about one or more Transformers comics?” I do. But that doesn’t mean the genre is redeemed, and it doesn’t make me a hero: it just means I’m weak, along with everyone else who bought Super Pro.
super pro
The Properties
Perhaps the most glaring issue right from the start is the properties they insist on convincing us are worth reading. I referenced Super Pro, but have you ever actually seen it? This is taking up space on Marvel’s hard drives as we speak.I mean, as someone who takes football very seriously (read: I don’t take it seriously at all), this is the thing I buy to reassure myself that I can be taken seriously as a human who breathes air on this planet. I mean, check out those cute Puritan-influenced cleats he’s wearing. This is a man’s comic, no doubt. But seriously folks, more often than not, a licensed comic is nothing but a cynical cash grab from one giant corporation to another. There’s no love of either art going into it, and then you’re forced to ask: “Who’s supposed to want to buy this?” I mean, the love fans of football have for comics is legendary, and the stereotype of the football playing comic nerd is so old it’s almost worn out (not to editor: forgot my sarcasm tags). But it doesn’t stop there. Love the music of Kiss? Well now you can enjoy their nuanced aesthetic with none of their complicated rhyme scheme.
kiss comics
The Writing
A misguided relative actually bought me Super Pro #1. I read it because what, am I actually going to play football? Hell to the no. It’s a story that’s nearly impossible to resurrect from the graveyard of my prepubescent memory, but one thing was painfully clear even to my eight year-old brain: this was a comic written neither for fans of football, nor fans of comics. And that’s a problem deeply inherent to the genre. Because, more often than not, the cross polinization of properties is just an attempt to capitalize on something that’s already profitable, the resultant product cannot be something the violates the spirit of either thing. It cannot offend the sensibilities of either fan base, but that almost curses it to appealing to neither fan base. Super Pro, if you care (which you almost certainly don’t) is the tragic story of a football player who gets injured nearly to death. He’s brought back from the brink courtesy of a mechanical football uniform so that he can continue… to… play football? But then realizes he’s more than just feetsballs throw man, and fights… crime? I mean, apart from about fifteen moments where I have to stop and ask, “Uh, why?”, that premise sounds like it comes straight from the mouth of that uncle we all have who hates comics and doesn’t respect us for our love. Because the end result shits on the heads of anyone who might possibly want it, every step toward that end result is just as insulting and just as steamy.Oh so, I guess I’ll just buy an adaptation of the thing I already have?!transformers the movie the comic book
Perhaps the most prevalent reason for licensed comics is the disease like pervasive presence of the “based on the hit movie” comic.Oh good, now I can be irritated, frustrated, and repulsed by one thing in two mediums.This is the point where I also have to stipulate that just because something sells, it does not mean it’s qualitatively good. I mean, everyone’s mom has a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey stashed under their mattress, but it’s not winning any awards any time soon. Right? God I hope not. I have to make that clear because comics are experiencing a sort of rebirth thanks to the herpes-like proliferation of comic book movies.

"Marvel: the herpes of comic books, but for movies."
“Marvel: the herpes of comic books, but for movies.”

I guess on one hand I have to be thankful for terrible ideas like the Avengers movie tie-in comic, but why does such a thing exist in the first place? “Duh, Montgomery,” you might start, “because people who saw the movie might want to get into comics, and this is their way in, you dumb sack of crap,” you might finish. And very rudely, I might add. And in your very rude retort (seriously, guy), you’ve proven my point: they’ve already seen the movie. Who needs to buy this comic? Apart from the compulsive collector, is there really an audience of people who like the idea of an Avengers movie enough to buy a comic based on the movie, but not enough to buy the actual comics that have been running for 50 years or to spend the $10 to see the movie in the theater? It’s a bizarre monster we’ve lived with all our lives but haven’t really noticed.

There are other reasons why licensed comics are terrible. The fact that tie-ins are often made before the movie knows what they’re doing, so you wind up with weird anachronisms; the art is just the worst, like really, do they even care; the fact that the licensed property is fenced-in so fiercely that even if it were a good idea in the first place, they don’t have much space to play around in. Really, we could talk until all the oxygen is gone, but just these three reasons should be enough to convince you to put down that comic book prequel to Transformers 5: Planet of The Earth and invest in some stocks. Or something.

by JH Montgomery

Steven DeKnight Added to ‘Transformers’ Writer’s Room

The re-hatched Transformers universe of new sequels, TV shows, toys and all sorts of other money making gimmicks has finished assembling the great minds tasked with bring the brainchild of more sequels to life.

The final addition to the writer’s rom is Steven DeKnight, of Spartacus and Daredevil fame.

Paramount Pictures, Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg and Hasbro are the driving forces behind the creation of a Transformers extended universe.

There are limited details at this point of what we should expect and when, but we’ll keep you posted as the updates come in.

Source: Deadline

Robert Kirkman to Co-Write Future ‘Transformers’ Sequels

While the deal is not completely done, the new writers room for the next Transformers movie will include The Walking Dead daddy Robert Kirkman. Also included are Zak Penn, writer of Pacific Rim 2, and Jeff Pinker, Lost and The Amazing Spider-Man 2writer.

Suddenly, the new Transformers movies just got a hell of a lot better. Maybe there will be strong women in the upcoming films? A girl can dream.

Thoughts? Sound off in the comments!

Source: Deadline

Yesterday in the Nerd Verse… Feb 9, 2015

Big news! Spider-Man is FOR SURE going to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Straight from the big wigs themselves. Source: Marvel

This news has already caused a ripple in the release dates for four major films in the next couple years. Source: Marvel

If you know Hush, you know we love all things Breaking Bad. That’s why we jumped for joy when we found out that Better Call Saul had the highest ratings EVER for a series debut on cable television. You can read our reviews here. Source: EW

You knew the Joker was coming to Gotham, but now there’s a trailer to confirm it. Source: Comicbook.com

A trailer for the upcoming animated series, Batman Unlimited, has hit the web. Source: Cosmic Book News

Don’t cry, Walking Dead fans, Beth (highlight text for SPOILER) may be gone from the show but you can see Emily Kinney again on The Flash, where she will play the Bug-Eyed Bandit. I hope we see more of Kinney in the Nerd Verse. Source: Instagram

IDW Publishing and Hasbro have rekindled the fire and extended their contract, allowing IDW to create books based on the TransformersMy Little PonyG.I. JoeDungeons and Dragons franchises, and more! Source: IDW

Looking for a much darker incarnation of Daredevil to appear on the Netflix series? You’re in luck! The series’ homepage shows that it will be rated TV-MA. Source: Netflix

Remember when Patrick Stewart said he wouldn’t be in X-Men: Apocalypse? Well, there was a catch. Seems that his best bro Ian McKellen will be in the movie. Yaaaay! Source: Oregon Live

 

Shut Up and Take My Money: Transformers Gen 1 Jetfire!

Transformers have existed nearly 30 years, providing us with cartoons, comics and toys. The Transformers began with the 1980’s Japanese toy lines Microman and Diaclone. Hasbro bought the Diaclone toy line and partnered with Takara Tomy to produce and distribute Transformers. Transformers went through a period of low popularity in the early 2000’s, but were brought to the forefront of action entertainment with Michael Bay’s live action Transformers movie franchise. After the first live action movie was released, Transformers became more popular than ever. With this new popularity, the older Generation One toys have increased in value.

Item

1984 Transformers Jetfire by Hasbro

What it is:

The Transformer known as Jetfire is an airplane that transforms into a robot. Jetfire, as a character, is known for his intellect and dedication to science. He is compassionate and believes he’s the smartest among his fellow Autobots. He is an Autobot, a good guy, but started out as a Decepticon and friends with the evil Starscream. The other Autobots don’t always trust him, because he can be cold and calculating. Here is an interesting side note: this particular toy was also made for Takatoku Toys and sold as the VF-1 Valkyrie. The VF-1 was a fictional mech/fighter jet in a popular Japanese Anime series named “The Super Dimension Fortress Macross”, also known as “Robotech” in the US. You can read more about it here.

“ I don’t believe in destiny ”
—Jetfire

How Much it Costs:

The price can vary quite a bit depending on the version for which you are looking. If you are going for “vintage”, like the one in the video, prices can range from $40-$4000. If you are looking for the 1984/85 Jetfire to just play with for fun, I have seen a few Jetfires without the box and missing accessories going for $40-80 on eBay. If you are looking for a mint condition Jetfire sealed, graded by an appraiser, and for display only those are the ones that sell for thousands. There are newer versions and you can go today to Toys R Us to purchase Jetfire for about $40.

Is It Worth It?:

I love the original Generation One Transformers, like this Jetfire. The Generation One Transformers were made of substantial materials and stand up well over time. As you can see from the video, for a 30-year-old toy, it still looks pretty good! It’s cool looking and fun to play with. Unfortunately, it’s a rare 30-year-old toy and I’m so afraid of breaking it. The newer version looks similar; Jetfire is still a plane, but a more modern design. I also believe the newer Transformers I’ve played with were designed better. Even though the new ones are more sophisticated, they are made out of cheaper materials. The 1984 toy is worth owning, but if you want one to play with, I highly recommend just buying the 2014 version. The vintage one makes a pretty awesome display piece that you can look at and play with gently.

IMG_3115 IMG_3116 IMG_3117 IMG_3118 IMG_3119

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Organized Konfusion “Bring It On”

Song: “Bring It On”

Artist: Organized Konfusion

AlbumStress: The Extinction Agenda (1994)

Lyric: “Rippin shit up at prime time, I’m Optimus Prime-time material/Imperial wizard of vocabularic havoc, I eat MC’s like cereal!”

 

Character Reference/Meaning:

DTCers, ROLL OUT! After a bit of a hiatus that I was on for grad school, we’re back at it again, ready to bring you all another ridiculously nerdy lyric that’ll probably make you want to transform into a rapper AND a nerd. Wait, that doesn’t make sense, because in Prince Poetry’s case, they are the same thing, AND I’VE BEEN SAYING IT SINCE DAY ONE!

Organized Konfusion, the dynamic rap duo out of Queens combines the awesome power of Prince Poetry, and DTC hall of famer, Pharoahe Monch. You would think that Pharoahe’s multiple appearances on DTC mean that he’s due for another spotlight, but today the honor goes to his counter part, Prince Poetry! These two individuals have ON (Original Nerd) status, seeing that they’ve been pushing bars since 1987. Need proof? Look no further than their 1994 hit, “Bring It On.”

With Transformers: Age of Extinction currently in theaters, it seems only right that we pay homage to two leaders of their respective packs – Prince Poetry and Optimus Prime. Shall we check the resumés? Prince Poetry a.k.a Prince Po has been rapping since before I was born, and is the founder of Nasty Habits Entertainment. He has four solo albums and EP’s apiece, in addition to the three Organized Konfusion alums. Impressive stats from an underground rapper. Now onto Optimus Prime. Prime is the leader of the Autobots, originates from the planet of Cybertron, sword enemy of the Decepticons, has saved planet Earth several times, while headlining countless cartoon episodes, movies and comic books. If you ask me, they’re pretty much one in the same.

On this DTC track, Prince Po is, without a doubt, letting you know this. Po is at the top of his game, and all the others dragging behind him, either need to figure out how to keep up, or learn how to step off. What he is saying is that if the rap game was planet Earth, and all the other rappers in the world were Autobots, he is pretty much Optimus Prime in comparison. After hearing his verse on this track, it’s kind of hard to refute that statement. Don’t believe me? Check the play on words. “I’m Optimus Prime-time material.” He is Optimus Prime and Prime Time, the nickname of Leon Sandcastle (That joke is funny). This lyrical ability demonstrates a great transformation in itself. Often times, young black men growing up in disadvantaged neighborhoods are seen as useless, and unable to contribute to anything productive in society. Knowing that one in three black men eventually end up in prison, it’s hard to keep the faith. However, Transformers is given the same treatment. To the untrained eye, that hunk of junk truck that’s always sitting in that lot across the street is completely useless. It’s rusted, run down, and it only belongs in a scrapyard somewhere. What if I told you that piece of junk was a Transformer? Does your perspective change? All it takes is one fluid move, and all of the sudden, that uselessness turns into something extraordinary. See, these young black kids growing up trying to be rappers, or even rappers today may seem like pieces of junk to the outside world, but to those who are paying attention, they are greatness. Hip-hop is more than just music to some, it is a way of life, it creates change inside of us that is unstoppable. So, that kid on the corner may seem like a piece of junk now, but who knows when he will transform into something powerful beyond measure.

Basically, Po is nothing short of hall of fame material. When he goes hard on tracks like this one, all the Decepticons suddenly have something to worry about. See, Optimus and hip-hop have many things in common. Probably one of the biggest factors the two share is the their influence on the youth of the 80s and 90s. Growing up in the hood, black community, or any community where hip-hop was a way of life, being an MC’s with dope lyrics was something to strive for. Having a lyrical ability was somethings people admired, it gave you status and an overall sense of purpose despite your upbringing. Growing up in the hood, you are given more opportunities to fail rather than succeed, and it’s much easier to stay up, than to try and climb your way out. Optimus could be viewed in the same light. Despite Optimus being the very last prime, his commitment to his cause and craft never wavered. To the audience, Optimus made it cool to be a good guy. Similar to Captain Planet and G.I. Joe, his courage and willingness to sacrifice everything for what he believed in was admirable. Hip-hop and Optimus are strong, righteous, and dedicated to what matters in life. For Optimus, that meant saving Earth through the way of the sword, maintaining what was honorable and good. Hip-hop does the same thing for planet Earth, only rather than the sword, hip-hop uses the mind and the spirit. Both fight evil, and both create a better way of life, both inspire hope.

Po dropped a transformers reference back in 1994, when hip-hop, nerds, rappers and transformers were all prime indicators of greatness. Knowing that transformers originated as a popular toy line only 10 years earlier, and then expanded into a cartoon television show, and then blew up to what we know it as today, it’s obvious the product hasn’t lost traction. When the toy line dropped, right off the bat, Optimus was the one to have. Little kids on the block were saving up what they have, folding bills in their socks, and begging their parents to go down to the toy store. If you were one of the lucky ones, and actually got that money, or that ride, if you left with anything other than Optimus Prime it just didn’t feel right. If you aren’t Optimus Prime, you might as well be a Decepticon.

FUN FACT: Optimus Prime was created by Denny O’Neil, legendary Batman writer who had a long career alongside artist Neal Adams.

 

 

Monthly Movie Preview: June 2014

May was full of comic book movies, but June is about to get the summer poppin’ with a variety of family and comedy films. There are some pretty cool independent films out, too. Here’s the skinny on this upcoming months’ movies:

June 6 – Edge of Tomorrow

Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt

Another year, another Tom Cruise action flick. It’s not that I don’t think he does a poor job at being an action star, but every idea he’s in feels completely recycled. Even though the premise of the film is nothing like Oblivion, the ambiance of the films feel exactly the same, and there is absolutely nothing to convince me there is something new and exciting to see here. Actually, the plot reminds me of 2011’s Source Code; in Edge of Tomorrow, Tom Cruise is forced to repeat the same day of war against the Mimic aliens over and over again, trying to find the point in all of it. The film is borrowed from the Japanese novel All You Need is Kill. It’s a really cool concept, and looks worth seeing if you like the genre. – Sherif

June 6 – The Fault in Our Stars

Starring: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort

“Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) is an atypical teenager living with cancer, oxygen tank trailing forever behind her. While medication and frequent doctors visits have extended her life quite a bit, she is very much aware that she is dying. After being deemed depressed by both her mother and doctor, Hazel begins attending a cancer support group. It is here that she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), a charismatic, sly, metaphoric loving cancer survivor determined to make his mark on the world. Together they find “a forever within the numbered days,” a love that transcends their illness, and an adventure that makes them both feel infinitely alive whilst on the border of death.” – Charlotte (an excerpt from her full spoiler-free review here)

June 13 – How to Train Your Dragon 2

Starring: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Djimon Hounsou, Craig Ferguson, Jonah Hill, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Kristen Wiig

How To Train Your Dragon was an incredibly well done movie about a boy that brings peace to his viking village and the dragons who inhabit the area. There’s several different dragon types shown in the movie (and even more are presented in the TV show spin off, The Riders of Burk). However, the spotlight shines brightest on Hiccup and his Night Fury Dragon named Toothless.The pair make an amazing team, ending a war and saving lifes, all while Hiccup learns to accept himself and discover his unique calling in life. The first movie is phenomenal, and a must see, full of moments that will make you laugh, cry, and leave you on the edge of your seat. The second movie introduced a character previously alluded to be dead, Hiccup’s mom (can’t wait to hear that explanation); it turns out that dragon training is in his blood. This reunion comes just in time as an enemy force, composed of more dragon-riding vikings, threatens to strip Hiccup and his friends of their beloved dragons. The trailers give me high hopes that this sequel can be held to the same standards as the first. The imagery is stunning (makes me sad I don’t have a dragon of my own) and there appears to be more of the same adorable dragon humor as the original. I look forward to seeing all the new dragon types and Hiccup all grown up. – Sara

June 13 – 22 Jump Street

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube

Ever since the first modern 21 Jump Street, starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, I have loved seeing this combo on the big screen. And now that the sequel is being released, I am absolutely excited. This movie better hold up to my expectations because if it doesn’t, I might just have to go back to either high school or college and start selling drugs, and they don’t want that. In this action-packed comedy the police duo are stepping out of the little leagues and heading into the majors as they tackle college. That’s right! The big give-me-a-C-O-L-L-E-G-E, and what does that spell? It spells nothing but chaos and comedy rolled into one movie. With returning characters such as Captain Dickson, played by Ice Cube, Deputy Chief Hardy, played by Nick Offerman, and Mr. Walters, played by Rob Riggle, I believe that this will be a great movie. And if you go see this movie for anything, anything at all, you must go see it to see Channing Tatum’s flawless Hispanic accent. And I do mean flawless. So go see this movie. It will be amazing; it will be your worst…I mean best nightmare (see what I did there?). – Evan

June 20 – The Rover

Starring: Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson

A huge economic collapse happened 10 years ago in the West and now all hell breaks loose in the new drama, The Rover. This film takes place in Australia where we meet  Eric (Guy Pearce), a man whom, after the collapse, has nothing left but one possession and a gang breaks in and steals it and in the process of them trying to get away one of the gang members is  injured and left behind for dead. The gang member, Rey (Robert Pattinson), teams up with Eric to catch the gang since they left him for dead. The film seems like a good drama but it also seems like a movie that may not hit certain audiences too well. It seems like a lot of the post apocalyptic sort of drama action films like Children of Men, I Am Legend, and Book of Eli. I tend to like this genre and I will not pass any Twilight hate onto Robert Pattinson and not see the film which may end up being a performance that shows he is more than just sparkly Edward to a lot of people. If you like intense dramas definitely check this out as well as if you enjoy the end of the world with no zombies but lots of action and thrills type of film. – Jacob

June 20 – Coherence

Starring: NIcholas Brendon, Elizabeth Gracen

Honestly, the plot of Coherence is a little befuddling.  However, that won’t stop me from seeing it.  Coherence takes place in one night at a dinner party of eight close friends.  When a comet passes Earth, weird stuff starts to happen, and the friends find out about each other, them selves, and their relationships.  Every review has touted it as being incredibly well written and acted.  I will go see it purely off the cast, though.  Elizabeth Gracen, who played Amanda in The Highlander TV series is a seller.  But the winner is to Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander Harris on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Not only have his roles since Buffy ended been sparse, but this role doesn’t make him seem like the “nerd” he has so often portrayed.  I am excited to see him break out of his typecast shell and explore other roles.  -Adrian

 

June 27 – Transformers: Age of Extinction

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci

Say what you will about Michael Bay, but he has made some damn good Transformers movies. The fourth installment, Age of Extinction, finally lets go of the formerly famous Shia LaBeouf and choosing a more adept action hero. Marky Mark himself takes the reigns on this one; giant robots are already the fail-safe summer blockbuster, but now that Mark Wahlberg is starring instead of LaBeouf, I’m much more interested in seeing it. Since Dark of the Moon pretty much wrapped up the trilogy with Optimus Prime pretty much going Sub-Zero on Megtron, I’m not too sure where Age of Extinction is going, but it almost looks to be LEGO Movie type of thing going on, inspiring kids to pick up their Robots in Disguise one more time. The world has recovered from the Decepticons’ attack and the Transformers have officially been rendered obsolete. Somewhere along the line, the stupid, puny humans reactivate the Decepticons and create DINOBOTS! Don’t expect this to blow you away, but it’s a necessary summer action movie carried by a vetted action hero. Plus, DINOBOTS! – Sherif

June 27 – WHITEY: United States of America v. James J. Bulger

Starring: Various

Okay, I admit it. I’m a total sucker for crime documentaries; there’s just something alluring about organized crime that I love watching stories about. That being said, James Bulger’s story is straight-up frightening. There is nothing entertaining about mass murder and dealing; Bulger reign in Boston ranks up there with some of the most gruesome. It also opens up eyes in the way that he was able to stay out of prison. He had the FBI on pay-roll for decades. He was just convicted in 2011, at 81 years old. Bulger is such a bad man that he was used as the inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s Frank Costello in The Departed, as well as Showtime’s Brotherhood, and an upcoming film titled Black Mass starring Johnny Depp. This won’t be for the faint of heart, or for people who are bored by the genre, but it will make for a captivating and horrifying documentary about one of America’s most notorious gangsters. – Sherif