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DVD Review: Opus and Bill in A Wish for Wings That Work
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Tripp J Crouse   |  

Opus and Bill in A Wish for Wings That Work DVDOpus and Bill in A Wish for Wings That Work (1991)
Directed by Skip Jones
Starring Joe Alaskey, Michael Patrick Bell
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Available now

Originally released in as a TV special in 1991 and based on the acclaimed 30-page children’s book about characters created by Pulitzer Prize-winning Berkeley Breathed released the same year, A Wish For Wings That Work — directed by Skip Jones (The Oblongs) — should be among the animated holiday canon, along with typical Christmas fare such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. Despite Breathed’s own distaste for the holiday feature, A Wish For Wings That Work accomplishes the dreams of many a Bloom County and Outland fans to see the artist’s work in full-motion. (Only one other Breathed title, which also was based on a children’s book, has been made into an animated feature — Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big).

This heartwarming family classic animates Opus the Penguin, a Breathed staple since the early 1980s, in his flightless plight and desire to be airborne (the obvious flaw in this fantasy is the fact that Opus was born a earth-bound penguin). In A Wish For Wings That Work, poor Opus is constantly reminded of his problems by a trio of Stooges-eque (of the Larry, Moe and Curly variety, not the Iggy Pop crew) birds relentlessly ribbing the penguin about his inability to fly.

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Comic Review: Midknight #1
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Tripp J Crouse   |  

Red 5 Comics - Midknight #1Midknight #1
Written By Paul Ens
Pencils and Colors by Tom Hodges
Inks by James “Buckshot!” Bukauskas
Letters by Troy Peteri
Red 5 Comics
Cover price: $2.95; On sale: Nov. 14, 2007

A life of parenting and crime-fighting never stops the for superhero duo of David and Tarilyn D’Ville in Midknight #1. In the first issue of the Red 5 published comic, the two heroes, also known as Midknight and Knightingale, have date night at a hockey game, disrupt a mob-style robbery, stop a furor in church, and manage to take care of their young daughter with a little help from their nanny. The delicate balance between life and hero’s work hangs precariously in the air, like to pieces of fruit in mid juggle.

A rare book heralding the value of familial responsibilities all while wearing tights at night to stop nefarious deeds from happening, Midknight will put a smile on your face with the various jokes (an homage to Jay and Silent Bob was a nice touch) while harkening back to sense of realistic life experiences.

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Comic Review: Hack/Slash #5
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Tripp J Crouse   |  

Devil's Due - Hack/Slash #5Hack/Slash #5
Written by Tim Seeley
Art by Emily Stone
Colors by Courtney Via
Letters by Brian J. Crowley
Covers by Crank! (A) and Tim Seeley (B)
Devil’s Due Publishing
Cover price: $3.50; Available now

Hack/Slash does a lot of things that many comics don’t, and the best is that it’s a book that doesn’t pander to the standard comic book rigors as far as story-telling elements. At its core, Hack/Slash follows Cassie Hack and her friend, Vlad, as they hunt Slashers, basically people/things that run around murdering people — your basic horror film antagonists generally suffice. And while most comics are running around trying to find ways to crossover characters to branch out their markets, Hack/Slash books generally do it better and these crossovers logically fit in the title’s general theme.

Published by Devil’s Due Publishing, Hack/Slash #5 develops the relationship between Cassie and Vlad a great deal, showing how much compassion Hack has for her disfigured partner. Sure there’s the continuing saga of Chris and Lisa as they work through their problems, and the crazy doctor who’s in love with the reviving corpse of a former centerfold model, but it’s the ongoing struggle for Cassie and Vlad to provide for each other, despite the consequences and choices each has to make.

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Movie Review: Gone Baby Gone
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Tripp J Crouse   |  

Gone Baby GoneGone Baby Gone
Written and directed by Ben Affleck
Starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman
Rated R

A plea for help screams from the heart of the lower middle-class Boston neighborhood of Dorchester. Gone Baby Gone, directed by Ben Affleck, is a crime noir thriller about two private detectives who specialize in missing persons, and their attempt to solve the abduction case of 4-year-old Amanda McCready. The detectives, live-in couple Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan), are hired by Lionel and Beatrice McCready, the uncle and niece of the aforementioned missing girl.

The investigating duo stumbles on hardship immediately when confronted with an uncooperative mother (Amy Ryan) and Police Captain Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman). The unforgiving neighborhood only exacerbates the ongoing investigation, several city blocks populated by the working poor and lower-class lowlifes that drop their paychecks on frowned-upon extracurriculars as quickly as they’ll drop their Rs. The Dorchester downtrodden people are as much of the environment as the dilapidated buildings. As various sequences chronicle the hard life of the neighborhood, we realize the loss of a child is literally taking the last bit of hope out of its people. Painstakingly shot exteriors detail a hard love that Ben Affleck has with the seedier side of Boston, Mass, something done elsewhere in Affleck’s co-authored script of Good Will Hunting. The greatest achievement of Gone Baby Gone is the depiction of hopelessness and character struggles in Dorchester, but no more so than in Casey Affleck’s portrayal of Kenzie, a man constantly fighting for what he feels is right.

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Comic Review: Velocity — Pilot Season #1
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Tripp J Crouse   |  

Top Cow - Velocity Pilot SeasonVelocity: Pilot Season #1
Pilot Season issue
Written by Joe Casey
Art by Kevin Maguire
Colors by Blond
Letters by Troy Peteri
Top Cow Productions
Cover price $2.99; On-sale date: Oct. 24, 2007

One of five Pilot Season comics that Top Cow is releasing, Velocity #1 cruises along like an octogenarian in a Ford Festiva powered by rubber bands. The book hits a few peaks as the title character zooms through plotline loopholes, each transition a jolting stutter into the next scenario. But wholly this comic screeches to a halt and misses crucial elements a first issue should accomplish before leaving the reader in a pool of disappointment.

Written by Joe Casey (WildCats 3.0, Godland), Velocity‘s highlights include the inner monologues of Carin Taylor, aka Velocity, whose whimsy and post-teenage sarcasm shine in the face of the dingy script. In her own book, the junior Cyberforce speedster garners our focus in an issue so blatantly disregarded as throw-away material. We’re given the true voice of the character, one with tremendous potential. Unfortunately she’s masked by Casey’s pastiches of feminine characterizations.

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