Jul 192014
 

by Cat Ellen, contributing writer

Lasers and Sparks

On Mars this week, NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover used lasers to examine the makeup of an interesting rock. Sparks flew and the flashes in the photos were combined into a video of the experience. Scientists have named the iron meteroite “Lebanon,” which is similar to meteorites found by the earlier rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Iron meteorites outnumber the stony meteorites so far on Mars, possibly because of resistance to erosion on Mars.

“This is so exciting! The ChemCam laser has fired more than 150,000 times on Mars, but this is the first time we see the plasma plume that is created,” said ChemCam Deputy Principal Investigator Sylvestre Maurice, at the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology, of France’s National Center for Scientific Research and the University of Toulouse, France. “Each time the laser hits a target, the plasma light is caught and analyzed by ChemCam’s spectrometers. What the new images add is confirmation that the size and shape of the spark are what we anticipated under Martian conditions.”

laser_meteroite

#NextGiantLeap and Morgan Freeman

Maybe Morgan Freeman wasn’t on Mars, but he was definitely at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) talking about when we will be going to Mars. It was standing room only at JPL for the #Apollo45 event as Morgan Freeman discussed the #NextGiantLeap — taking mankind on the #PathToMars, even if it’s a one-way trip. In light of all the reflections of #Apollo45, for many people it’s not enough to remember landing on the moon forty-five years ago, but it’s time to think about taking people to Mars.

See Science on Demand: with #NextGiantLeap with Morgan Freeman and Astronaut Reid Wiseman @astro_reid Video recorded (about 50 minutes): http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/50241043

morgan_freeman_mars

Marking 45 Years Since Apollo 11

Speaking of Apollo, there’s still time to check out the “live tweeting” of #Apollo11@LizSuckow works with NASA Archives and has been posting the entire Apollo 11 event as if she were tweeting forty-five years ago, complete with photos and tv broadcasts from the mission.

For more events still coming up to honor the First Human Moon Landing, check out NASA’s schedule of events on NASA TV Sunday, July 20 through Thursday, July 24, including a panel at San Diego Comic-Con.

Mapping Mars

The U.S. Geological Survey has teamed up with ASU and they have created the most detailed global map yet of the surface of Mars. The various maps have combine data from thermal imaging plus visual and infrared cameras on NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter.

mars_maps

Want More?

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Jul 182014
 

It’s the day after New Comic Day, which means it’s time for a new Four-Color Bullet, the only comic book review column still under $2.99 an issue. Let’s get to it, eh?

From those crazy folks at Marvel this week, Kamala Khan starts to come into her place in the world, but if she’s going to survive, she’ll need some help from a certain six-clawed Canadian, in Ms. Marvel #6; Charles Xavier’s last will and testament is discovered, but it may bode ill for the X-Men, in Uncanny X-Men #23, an Original Sin tie-in; and Nova gets some help from Rocket Raccoon to solve some Original Sin-style mysteries, in Nova #19

From DC this week, the Teen Titans become teen celebrities, in Teen Titans #1; Robin may have been found, but the fight isn’t over. Not when Ra’s al Ghul’s blood feud is interrupted by Darkseid, in Robin Rises: Omega #1; Green Arrow is dead, and the Justice League wants Firestorm to pay, in The New 52: Futures’ End #11.

IDW brings us the first issue of The X-Files: Year Zero, wherein Mulder investigates a case from the 1940s that brings to light how the FBI’s X-Files division came to be, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #36 have Splinter and Leo preparing for their coming war with Shredder and the Foot. And the Rat King strikes!  

Written by Jason Aaron Penciled by Mike Deodato Jr.

Written by Jason Aaron
Penciled by Mike Deodato Jr.

Okay. Only one comic this week stood out enough to review and that was Original Sin #6. Marvel’s murder mystery miniseries has reached it’s next-to-last-to-last issue and while some questions have been answered, there are still plenty more out there. If you’ve been following along, you know that our heroes have discovered the origins of the gamma bullets found in some of the dead otherworldly creatures that Doctor Strange and Punisher have been investigating. We know that Exterminatrix and Doctor Midas, two villains who haven’t been seen in years, are up to their necks in it. We know that, before and during S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury worked as a one-man cosmic assassin, being a “wall’ between us and whatever otherworldly creatures threatened us.

We’re still not sure who killed the Watcher, only that he and Fury didn’t get along. And Fury has aged with the apparent absence of his Infinity Formula. And the heroes have had enough. To quote Robert Redford’s character in Sneakers, one of my all time favorite movies, “No more secrets.”  And one of the more interesting aspects of this issue, is that Fury may come out of this as both hero and villain, in what could very well be his final story.

And while this issue was better than last issue’s interlude, there’s just too much talking for an event book. Writer Jason Aaron tries to keep it all mysterious with only two issues left, and the whole thing starts to get clunky. And artist Mike Deodato’s shadowy art doesn’t lend itself to the individual faces of the heroes standing around chin wagging, trying to solve the thing and pressing Fury for answers. Thankfully, a fight breaks out toward the end that gives you the eye candy you need from an event book.

While it was a good issue, there’s just way too much talking and not enough action for this late in the game.

And that is Four-Color Bullet for this week. If you haven’t heard, Marvel announced some shake-ups in the status quo, with Thor being made female, and Sam Wilson taking up the shield as Captain America. And, there’s some news on Iron Man that got hinted at today. It seems that Tony is moving to San Francisco, and he’s got Extremis for everybody!  We’ll get that to you as soon as we know more. Big big news, and Krypton Radio has the skinny on both Thor and Cap.

Wednesday is Batman Day, as DC celebrates the Dark Knight’s 75th anniversary. I want to hear from you guys on what you consider to be the best Batman stories ever told, and I’ll share the top 10 on a Batman Day addition of Four-Color Bullet, in addition to some other Batman Day stuff we’re working on.

It’s a great time to be a comics fan. See ya next week on Batman Day!

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Jul 082014
 

by Karina “Cinerina” Montgomery

In Part 2 of a four part series, we talk about ways to work with the SDCC environment and rules, and be prepared!

Neytiri costumes have no pockets!

Neytiri costumes have no pockets!

Pro tip: Don’t forget some kind of Bag of Holding!

It’s the eternal conundrum: How can you bring what you need, but not be over-burdened? Hard core cosplayers learned ages ago that the best accessory you can have is an entourage carrying your supplies. For the rest of us, we’re usually juggling some kind of knapsack or messenger bag in addition to the SDCC bag that you’re given upon badge pickup. This giant bag is useful for things you don’t need to access much, like posters, freebies, and flat art/printed material, but not so much for those items you want to access often, like your wallet or cell phone. How many pockets can you conceal in a Nav’i costume? Sure, you’re in a convention center in a big American city, not in the middle of the Australian outback, but working out access to basic necessities comes up more than you might think.

What kind of stuff would one need to bring? If you get hungry or your batteries die, you need backups. Even if you’re staying in a hotel near the convention, you won’t reasonably have access to your car or room to drop off or pick up anything.  The closest convenience store is A-Mart, at West Harbor Drive and Market, down by Seaport Village. This is a long hike you simply can’t make if you’re standing in line for an autograph! Leaving the main convention center itself can be its own mini-expedition, especially if you exit through a door that is not near the Big Crosswalk out front.

Pro tip: The crosswalk is outside Door E and points you right down 5th Avenue.

Smart con-goers bring a bottle to fill with water, hand sanitizer, cameras, extra SD cards and batteries, extra chargers, good shoes, sunscreen (you will be outside more than you think), mints or gum, and good attitudes. Sharpies in black and a metallic color are good to have on hand for autograph moments. A safety pin or two is good to control your badge or if it gets torn off its lanyard.

Pro tip: Pack easy quick snacks (dried fruit and jerky got me through my first SDCC with a press pass) and fold-up supplemental tote bags for all your shopping. I love the big free bag but it isn’t always ideal.

Maps and planning

Check the schedule and the maps and figure out where things are. Be realistic about travel time. Even if you were unencumbered by crowds and bags of goodies, or not distracted by all the stuff all around you, it can be a good 10-20 minute brisk walk from one end of SDCC’s area of influence to another. There aren’t breaks between programming in the Indigo Ballroom, so if you get out of one of the small rooms at the A end of the convention center, you have literally 5 minutes to get to your chair a mile away. The largest rooms have breaks for room turnover, but 17 of the programming rooms do not. Know where you’re going before you start going.

The one nice thing about Hall H is that the bathrooms are inside the room – for every other meeting room, you have to exit to go. This may mean you never get back in – and you’ll be doing some huge circling to get back even if the bathroom is right next to the exit.

The SDCC app (for iPhone and Android) is a very helpful tool. Install it well in advance and as soon as the schedule is posted, update it in your phone and start looking at the offerings. Don’t forget to leave time for shopping, art show viewing, eating, autograph line ups, freebie pickup windows, and the myriad unscheduled things you can see at SDCC. Once you know what you like, you can mark just your favorites and manage your time and routes. It includes maps of the facility – but it does not help with the Dreaded One Way Hallways. I should note: it doesn’t load super fast when 250,000 people are sharing the wireless signal.

Pro tip: Rip out the facility map in the program guide and use it like it was the pre-digital age. Trust me.

'What do you mean you're at the Walking Dead booth? That's where I am!"  "WHAT? IT'S INCREDIBLY LOUD IN HERE!"

‘What do you mean you’re at the Walking Dead booth? That’s where I am!” “WHAT? IT’S INCREDIBLY LOUD IN HERE!”

The program schedule goes up about 2 weeks before the show. Go online, go into the app, and start thinking about the Can’t-Miss panels or activities. Just remember – having a badge is no guarantee of anything except getting in that main door. Seating is first come first serve, and you can’t get into everything you want simply because you can’t get there in time. If you are in room 6B and your next thing is right away in 6D, even though the facility doors are only one door away, you actually exit on one side of all these rooms and enter on the other, so you will have walk all the way around to the Entrance Hallway from the Exit Hallway you were spit out into. It takes the same amount of time to go from 7A to 2A as it does to go from 6B to 6D, thanks to the one-way hallways. Oh and the throngs of people all trying to get to their rooms, they will also slow your progress. Down in the most crowded area of the vendor floor (closest to all the movie studio booths), some aisles are designated one-way, though it is much harder to indicate or police the flow down there. Your best bet of getting past the studio area is to stick to the outside aisles.

If you’ve never been before, you also might not know about Line Crossings. Besides the one-way hallways, sometimes a room like Ballroom 20 is letting people in from the miles long line outside, and you get to wait for a few hundred people to pass while you’re frantically trying to get from 29A to 7A (that’s the whole length of the convention center). The convention center and security know what they are doing in terms of managing lines, so please let them do their job. Planning ahead is key, but you also have to be flexible. Scheduled meeting times may go astray due to any of these obstacles, so bump up your texting plan for the month and just be patient.

Official SDCC events occur in offsite locations, not just the convention center. SDCC has outgrown its little facility and now local hotels are in on the fun. Know where you’re going so you don’t miss your panel!

The Indigo Ballroom is at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront is on the Hall H/east side of the convention center. There are ballrooms with badge-entry-only panels here and it’s a pretty good hike if you’re coming all the way from the lower numbered booths near entrance A.

The Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter is the other Hilton, which is across Harbor Drive and the trolley tracks in the Gaslamp Quarter proper.

Then you also have Petco Park, the Omni Hotel, the San Diego Marriott, and a host of other active sites next to and across the way from the convention center. You’ll see a lot of them as you arrive. If you stay only inside the convention center, you probably miss a full fifth of what’s on offer.

Meeting places and areas of calm

The mezzanine level has very few meeting rooms, but it does have a small café and places to sit down, and lots of great fan tables. These folks don’t get to leave their tables much to see the con, so come by and say hi! You could join up with Klingons, pirates, a variety of steampunk organizations, SCA fighters, Furries, the 501st Legion of Stormtroopers, and more. That’s just what I could remember off the top of my head. Apologies to the many fan tables I forgot! The escalator has great visibility to those in the mezzanine, and you can arrange to meet your friends there or out on the patio.

The patio is good for large group meetups, getting some fresh air (no smoking!), gawking at the Ballroom 20 line, and taking photos. Saturday afternoon in particular is chockablock with fun groups meeting so swing by and check them out!

This friendly Klingon will show you the way of honor at his fan table.

This friendly Klingon will show you the way of honor at his fan table.

Fan tables are a great place to meet a friend!

Fan tables are a great place to meet a friend!

Other quiet areas that are good for a respite or to meet your friends are Artists Alley on one far end of the vendor floor, or the really serious comic book vendor booths at the other end. Booths are numbered so you can always say “meet me at booth 2543” but it’s not always easy to find the numbers. It’s easy to say “Meet me at the WB booth” since they have that handy easy-to-see water tower every year, but that is pretty much the most crowded spot in the con.

Pro tip: DC Comics always has a huge spot staked out but not much actual furniture or crowds, unless there is a bigwig signing things. And their booth is almost always carpeted which means soft floor to stand on. Booth 1915. You’re welcome.

I talked about food options last week (there is also Seaport Village a good hike away to the east) because you definitely need to remember to keep your blood sugar up and stay hydrated. On paper it seems like just a big room with neat stuff and standing in line to get into other big rooms, but really SDCC can really take it out of you and/or damage your calm if you don’t take care of your physical needs.

How not to get kicked out or locked out

• Don’t record the studio clips! Yes, they will watch you, and when you post it on YouTube, the studio could even boycott showing clips next year.

• Don’t bring an animal – it’s horribly cruel and traumatic and it can cause problems. Service animals are trained for this, but even they can get overwhelmed or overrun in the melee.

• No, you can’t get back in the same door if you left to pee. No, your seat isn’t being saved for you, even if your friend thinks they can do that. You should have gone on Wednesday like everyone else.

• Scoot in and don’t put your stuff in a chair next to you. Every panel, whether it’s in Hall H or in the smallest 280-seater, is first come first serve but also very limited. Let everyone in who wants to get in and make room.

• Keep your badge handy. Sure, you want it out of sight so it doesn’t ruin photos of your awesome costume, but if you can pop it out or conceal it in an easily flashed way, you’ll get through the doors faster and help mitigate bottlenecks.

• Beta test your costume for maneuverability and safety. Big costumes are amazing, but on the vendor floor or sitting in a panel they can impede fun for you and the people behind you. Take it to your local mall and see if you can navigate pretty easily in a clothing shop without pulling product off the racks or costume pieces off yourself. If you can’t navigate in a Claire’s, you have no chance in hell of getting within a mile of the WB water tower.

Pro Tip: Be awesome no matter what you do!

Hall H: It’s a bear.

Seating over 6500 people, it’s the big ticket place to see all the biggest stars, announcements, and panels. It also is the longest line, in the sun.

In 2010, folks lined up for the Thursday, 10am Twilight panel starting at 2am Tuesday morning. After that panel was done, the hall was totally emptied because those fans weren’t interested in whatever came afterward. Look at the schedule and plan accordingly. You will be in line a long time, but a long chunk of line gets in at a time. Sometimes you can waltz in, and sometimes you wait for 3 hours or 5 or more.

As of press time the no-room-clearing between panels policy still stands: if you get in, stay in. To exit means to get back in line. One year I needed to get my cell phone charger cable from someone in Hall H and it was simply not possible for him to stick his arm out the door at me. Always roll with disappointments. The big rooms that break between panels are 6A, 6BCF, 6DE, Ballroom 20, and Hall H. The rest just have a quick turnover so your opportunity to fix a mistake is brief.

Ballroom 20:

4800 people crowd in here to see the second most popular panels, which are still usually huge things like Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. In 2011 the 11am Walking Dead line had already reached room capacity by 6am.

In the smaller room areas, it's still a pretty dense crush of people.  Walk briskly but don't be pushy.

In the smaller room areas, it’s still a pretty dense crush of people. Walk briskly but don’t be pushy.

Plan accordingly. The upside is that the content of the panels (except for whatever clips the studios show) will be on YouTube within a week thanks to amateurs and professionals, so you’re only missing the admittedly awesome experience of being there in the room with the people. I’m not dismissing that – being 30 feet away from the cast of Chuck while Jeffster rocked our socks off is one of my favorite SDCC memories of all time – but at least you can see what happened if you miss it.

Know your zeitgeist!

SDCC covers a lot of things. People are excited about Guardians of the Galaxy and the new Doctor; Game of Thrones is blowing up and True Blood is ending. Oh and I think there’s something going on with Star Wars? You can predict that related events will be mobbed. At press time the schedule was not yet posted – it should be a week from now – so I don’t know what will be trending. For example, this year is the 10th anniversary of Lost and the Lost panels in Hall H were always mad scenes, so whether Lost is your thing or not, you should know that if your thing is competing with or coming after Lost, you should get in line earlier than you might think.

Stay tuned for next week’s installment of ConSurvival!

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Jul 032014
 

fourColorBullet1

Welcome to this week’s Four-Color Bullet, the only comic-book review column sponsored by your (and my) misspent youth.

Over on DC’s side of the multidimensional barrier, it’s the masked Superman vs. Rampage in Metropolis, while Terry McGinnis (a.k.a. Batman Beyond) is floored by a revelation that could alter his entire mission, in The New 52: Futures’ End #9; Richard Dragon destroys Oliver Queen’s world, and Seattle gets a new Green Arrow, in Green Arrow #33, Broken: Part Two; Batman and Robin!  Green Hornet and Kato! Dead?! General Gumm triumphant?! in Batman ’66 Meets the Green Hornet #4.

And on Marvel’s side, he’s a hero to the weak, a defender of the innocent, and an intergalactic heartthrob to the ladies. Now, he’s a raccoon on the run as Rocket Raccoon’s ongoing solo adventures begin, in Rocket Raccoon #1; twenty mob enforcers are holed up in an abandoned hotel with one abductee. Moon Knight to the rescue. Alone, in Moon Knight #5; and Peter Quill a.k.a. Star-Lord makes his ongoing series debut as he battles the Badoon, and makes some moves on Kitty Pryde, in Legendary Star-Lord #1.

Image releases the ongoing adventures if Zach Robinson, a.k.a. Tech Jacket, in Tech Jacket #1  

 

Written by John carpenter and Eric Powell Pencils by Brian Churilla Colored by Michael Garland Cover Art by Eric Powell BOOM! Studios

Written by John carpenter and Eric Powell
Pencils by Brian Churilla
Colored by Michael Garland
Cover Art by Eric Powell
BOOM! Studios

If I thought the first issue of  Jack Burton’s continuing adventures was mediocre, the second issue made up for it. Big Trouble in Little China #2 took off like a shot, and Eric Powell’s dialogue was laugh-out-loud funny. It turns out that a dark Chinese sorcerer wants revenge for Jack and the gang’s stopping Lo Pan.

So, the sorcerer crashes Wang Chi and Miao Yin’s wedding and kidnaps Wang Chi as leverage to force Jack to travel the Midnight Road to rescue the souls of the three storms from the Hell of the Seven Faced Widow. Egg Shen tags along and what follows is one of the funniest things I’ve read in a long time.

Once again, it’s John Carpenter’s story and Eric Powell’s dialogue, and Jack Burton is totally Jack Burton. Like last issue, Powell is spot-on with Jack’s constant running of the mouth, and there’s a particular scene with Jack talking about his third wife, who is a bloodsucker of a different type — I hope is some foreshadowing to a future story — and some building on the mythos. And if that weren’t enough, there are evil monkeys. Powell’s love of the film and the characters shows, and John Carpenter seems to have made the right choice as his scriptwriter. Brian Churilla’s art, while still cartoony and off-putting, grows on you after a while and works with Powell’s dialogue.

Again, though, there was no exposition of the events in the film, so new readers may be lost. And I don’t want BTILC  to be a comic-snob kind of book, one that’s not reachable to new fans. If you have some time, and you’re interested in checking out the new series, watch Big Trouble In Little China first if you haven’t seen it. You will not be disappointed.

I knew a wise old comic shop owner once who said that the job of the first issue is to pull you in and the second issue to keep you there. Big Trouble in Little China did this pattern exactly. Great second issue.

 

 

 

Written by Jason Aaron Art by Mike Deodato Jr. MARVEL

Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Mike Deodato Jr.
MARVEL

Original Sin #4 ended with an aged Nick Fury, and this issue tells The Secret History of Colonel Nicholas J. Fury, as it kicks off Act II of the summer event. I won’t go into much detail about the story other than to say that Marvel may be trying some retconning or revising of Col. Fury’s past activities, as we find out that Fury, as narrated entirely by the good Colonel,  has been up to considerably more than intelligence work and running S.H.I.E.L.D., and that all of this mess may just be his fault.

That said, it’s a good issue, but, if you’ve been reading Original Sin, this issue answers few questions and really only serves to leave you asking more. The reader, like the characters, is still trying to piece it all together. This is still some of Jason Aaron’s best work, and penciler Mike Deodato, Jr. remains consistent with his deep shadows and eye for detail.

And that is this week’s Four-Color Bullet. As always, feel free to leave a comment or email me. if you want to talk comics. Tell me what you folks are reading, or give me your thoughts on where Original Sin is going. Is anyone reading Saga? Should I be reading it?

Thanks for checking in, and if you like Krypton Radio, please consider becoming a monthly subscriber. Subscribing will get you swag, and you’ll be a part of the Krypton Radio family. We are literally one of a kind and unique in the world. We’re growing every day and making history along the way. It’d be kinda cool if you’d come with us.

It’s a great time to be a comics fan. See you next week!

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