Nobody has ever said “What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been”, Right?

Seriously, I just coined that phrase right?

7 years ago today I was bored on a car ride and made this dipshit little video.
https://youtu.be/OBrVxZaKcT4
If you had told me all the shit that would follow I probably would have said “AHHHH, WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU!?!?” mostly cause I can’t remember if I knew you way back then.

Over the course of the last 7 years everything has changed, for me personally and for the world at large.
In that time, I’ve gone from decidedly friendless, but I’ve made and lost quite a few folks that I thought were friends, I’ve said goodbye to family members, and I’ve watched things on this planet take dangerous turns.
Sometimes, it truly does seems like we live in the darkest of all possible worlds.

But for these last 7 years, to paraphrase Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction, “I have tried, Ringo, I’ve tried real hard to be a shepard.”
I’ve spent hours writing, talking, recording, editing, worrying, and doubting myself, alone and with good Ol Fitz (& others), because the world (and life in general) can be a harsh, unrelenting, shitty place and it has knocked me and many others that I know and care for on our asses and dared us to stay there.
But most people, when they get knocked down like that, go looking for something to make them feel better.

5 and a half years ago, I wrote a piece for my TS-D/JA Productions blog titled Then Why Do It?, in which I explain why I kept going.
But just incase you don’t want to reread it, I will reiterate here just exactly why.
When you hear from somebody that they have had a shitty day and were the lowest they have been in a while, but that all changed because they read a dumb little book review I wrote and could feel my passion oozing through their screen, or they listened to a podcast and we made a joke that made them laugh for the first time in days, or they watched or heard a skit we put out somewhere and it gave them a little boost…that shit is powerful, man!

Selfishly, hearing shit like that pulls me up, even if only a little bit, from whatever I’m going through.
But taking that out of it, and to go back to what I used to say when I wrapped up almost every post on the old site, the world can be a terrible place so do whatever you can to change that, no matter how many people that hits.
I’ll keep trying to improve the day of the 50-60 people that regularly listen to the pod or read this site.

Alright, gang, WHORE TIME!

And if you want more of us and our goofy ass stylings, don’t forget to read & answer a brand new edition of The Nerd Blitz Question Of The Week every Tuesday, a New Fitz’s Toy Chest at least 1 Thursday a month, New installments of The Nerd Blitz Book Review usually once or twice a month, continuing New episodes of the 3 shows (The Nerd Blitz, The Nerd Blitz Book Club, & The Nerd Blitz Commentaries) we’ve always done!

The best ways to support us would be spreading the word on Twitter or following us there @NerdBlitzPod, subscribing, rating, and reviewing where ever you listen to podcasts, getting yourself a shirt over at our RedBubble (we hope to have new designs coming soon), buying any of our albums on our Bandcamp page, or by going over and kicking in to our brand new Patreon page Patreon.com/NerdBlitzPod (where we will be posting podcasts, new & old, and creating brand new skits).

Thanks for reading, gang.

Day By Day Armageddon Beyond Exile Review

Ya know, sometimes it’s truly fucked up the way that life can imitate art, and this novel/series is a perfect example of that disturbing little notion, given our current global situation.
But let’s not get into all that, we’ll instead stick to…*swallows hard*…fiction?

As this is a sequel, the near inevitable comparisons to the original (which you can read my Review of right HERE!) book are bound to happen.
So how does it compare?
Let’s find out!

As per the usual round these parts, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

Picking up after the battle that closed out book one, we learn more about the carnage and aftermath.
Things soon ramp up again as a militarized group appears, wanting to take Hotel 23.
This forces our main character to out himself as a Naval officer, and unexpectedly take command of this remnant of the US Military.
After a few missions to fortify the missle silo, and collecting quite a few new survivors, our main character heads out in a helicopter to scope out Shreveport, Louisiana.
The helicopter crashes and sets us up for the body of this journey in to the wastes of the now zombie infested US.

I forgot most of this book in the ten years since I first read it, and I’m really glad I did because it made the suspense of it hit as well as it should all over again.
That wondering if the narrator has the skills and grit to survive through the ever growing onslaught of zombies that have been mutated & irradiated thanks to a drastic attempt to save the world in book one.
And the introduction of a new advanced military-esque group and their tech adds a new player to the universe, bringing with it a strange glimmer of hope in an incredibly dread filled world.

One of my only complaints from the first book does get addressed…sort of…?
After receiving a drop of gear from the new Remote Six group, and in an effort to cut weigh in his trek back to Hotel 23, our main character finds a house and leaves one of his guns in the fridge with a note and the old military graffiti Kilroy Was Here.
Once a man tracking the narrator catches up, our main is known as Kil from that point on.
We even have a higher ranking military leader mention/threaten that he found the narrator’s name on a list of people who didn’t show up on base when the shit hit the fan.
I’d still prefer to have an actual name, but I guess that works well enough.

One of the great things about zombie fiction is knowing what the cause of the infection is.
Sadly, more often than not, we normally don’t really get one, but we do here!
I won’t flat out spoil it here, but I will say that I wonder how much the origins of The Walking Dead played into the reveal.
If you know what that means then, you are pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down.

Bottom line: These books are as easy to read as blinking.
The pages fly by quick and before you know it it’s all over, leaving you intensely curious to find out what happens next.
I have the same feeling I did when I first read both of these back to back a decade ago, I’m hungrily on the hunt for the next installment.
My hope is that I can find the next two books soon, because I don’t really want to leave this world hanging for another ten years.

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

Five Decades Of The X-Men Review

A collection of short stories following the most marvelous merry mutants mankind mustered are meticulously mashed together into one mega mob of miscellanea!
Thank you thesaurus.com for the help in keeping that amazing alliteration going in true sensational Stan style.

Anywho, the question I pose to you and yours is this: does this collection of short stories give a good taste of the X-Men, their universe, and their various storylines through the five decades of their existence up to the point this book was published?
Let’s cut the chitter chatter and find out, gang!

This is your obligatory ***SPOILER ALERT***

I’m not sure why, but diving into this I was weirdly uncertain if I would like it.
But there was one lone name that gave me the courage to do so: Sholly Fisch!
Long time listeners of the main show should recognize that name as the genius behind the damn superb Scooby-Doo Team-Up comic, so seeing he was involved gave me a tremendous amount of hope.
But I was not prepared for what else lie ahead of me.

The initial story, covering the ’60s, “Baptism Of Fire, Baptism Of Ice” by John J. Ordover and Susan Wright, is a tale of Charles Xavier’s first class of X-Men, through the eyes of Bobby Drake, A.K.A. Ice Man.
As they are training for their first mission we see Bobby’s frustrations with being the new kid on the block and not getting many challenges or much time to shine in the Danger Room when they get a new team/class mate in the form of one Jean Grey, the first girl on the team.
It’s a simple yet effective story of the earliest days of this groundbreaking institute and its founding members as they struggle with their burgeoning powers and raging hormones.

Story two, set during the ’70s, “Firm Commitments” by the good sir Sholly Fisch, sees a guy named Jay make a gigantic scientific break through at think tank Genetech that leads him into a twisted underworld of mutant hate that he can’t get down with.
He takes the bull by the horns and actively works against this nutso group in the only way a relative nobody can.
Sholly has a voice that’s so incredibly easy to read, on the level of some of my other favorite writers and this story alone makes me want to hunt down any and all other prose work he has.
He seems the most comfortable with the X-Men and their world, and the outsider perspective of them feels real, well thought out, and solid.

The third tale, taking place in the ’80s, “Up The Kill Backwards” by Tom Deja, might just be my second favorite story here.
And it’s definitely one of the least complicated stories in this volume.
A new class of X-Men are thrown together and tasked to take over while the big guns are off on their own disparate personal sojourns.
Their new trainer, Sean Cassidy A.K.A. Banshee, is trying to whip them into shape and make the brother of a legend get out of his familial shadow and step into the role of leader.
To try and force some like mindedness on them, Cassidy sets up a training exercise with a secret government organization and things go badder than batshit as things go sideways!

The fourth story, getting us planted firmly in the ’90s, “The Cause” by Glenn Greenberg, delves into the darkest areas of the X-Men world.
We see news reports of hate crimes against mutants spiking as Reverend William Striker, the poster boy and leader of one of the most well known anti-mutant hate groups is set to be released from prison.
Greenberg takes us inside this group and shows us, through one of fictions greatest allegorical set-ups, the inner workings of the group and the stupid bullshit that the morons that inhabit it believe in.
This one is not at all my favorite, but it’s definitely the most weighty and sadly still relevant to the times we live in, further illustrating the versatility of these characters and their little corner of the Marvel universe.

The fifth and final story, set in the early ’00s, “Gifts” by Madeleine Robins, covers relatively similar ground as the first story in that it’s dealing with teenage romance and flourishing powers, but still manages to eek out a fun story of its own.
The highlight of this story is definitely the badass climax in a cemetary with Psylock trying to talk down a teen who’s telekinetic abilities have caused catastrophic damage to a New York airport and highway due to factors beyond her control.

From the near goosebump inducing intro by the legendary Stan Lee (that feels like a loving and warm hug from the universe) to the two hundred and sixty-first page of the final story this book was the one thing I crave in these superhero novels, it was sheer fun.
All five stories have the big splashy set piece superheroics you expect from comic books, but with the added benefit of your mind’s eye being the artist.
The world of the X-Men, and all of the ups and downs of real life that that entails, is captured in the most loving detail by these six authors.
And whomever came up with the concept to do five stories set in five different decades is goddamn brilliant!
The big touchstone moments in the illustrious history of the X-Men are hinted at, if not flat out mentioned.

The only real problem I can point to would be an issue I’ve found in a lot of these late ’90s/early 2000’s novels of this ilk, they are riddled with typos.
Missing words and letters that are particularly troublesome and occasionally pull you out of the story as you try to figure out just what the hell the author meant.
It needed another thorough pass by a good copy editor to clean up some unfortunate sloppiness.

The bottomline, gang, this is a perfect collection for old fans wanting fresh stories from these different eras or new fans trying to find a way into the notoriously daunting X continuity.
No character feels out of step with my experience with them, even the characters I have limited exposure to.
Prices online can be disrespectfully overpriced, but if you just so happen to stumble across a decent priced copy, I’d highly encourage you to pick it up and give it a chance.

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

And finally: If my count is dead on, this is my 40th book review in just over two and a half years.
So to all of you that dig these and keep checking them out, thanks.
Reading has always been one of my main joys and it has been incredibly fun sharing it with you, gang.

Batman: Arkham Knight – The Riddler’s Gambit Review

This is squarely within the wheel house of the types of novels I have always loved the most, direct prequels/tie-ins to franchises I love, and not just franchises I love, but specific versions or installments of the franchises I dig the most.
The Arkham game series might actually be my second favorite version of Batman, the main Rocksteady games (I, sadly, never played Origins) were groundbreaking and breathtakingly perfect games, the Arkham City prequel comic was fun as hell!

So a prequel novel to the 3rd game!?
How could I pass that up?
But I’m not going to pretend every single prequel novel I’ve read has been great.
Where does this stack up?
I’m gonna slip in to Detective mode and attempt to figure that out, gang!

As always, this is your mondo mega ***SPOILER ALERT*** so act accordingly.

The Joker is dead and in the months since his cremation a quiet has settled in on this toxic town and a power vacuum has emerged.
One man decides to step up and try to fill that void in the only way he knows how, through a test of problem solving abilities and the most circuitous route that man or beast could possibly dream up.
Batman is called in when an envelope comes through the GCPD mail room allegedly from The Joker containing a flash drive which kicks off a deadly game that sees some of Gotham’s most sinister villians teaming up with a maniacal menace to take on the Bat Family.
In short, Andy McElfresh’s favorite bat villain, The Riddler, tries to fill those green and twisted dress shoes.

Alex Irvine wrote the Iron Man 2 novelization, as well as original Iron Man & Ultimates novels and a Batman novel titled Inferno, all of which I’ve read and loved.
So, going into this, I wasn’t worried at all about his ability to handle these characters and this world.
But having said that, goddamn it!
He fuckin’ nailed this one seven ways to Sunday.
The relationships are spot on, I’d say most especially Batman & Commissioner Gordon’s semi-antagonistic, yet mutually beneficial partnership.
Gordon knows that the Bat is definitely the best at what he does, but running against that is the fact that Batsy is an outlaw vigilante.
Watching Gordon struggle with saving lives, but getting the best results for the citizens of Gotham is perfect, and that’s all due to Irvine’s expert handling.

A good portion of the villains you want to see are involved, one way or another, in Riddler’s intricately plotted game, showing once again why Batman has one of the top two greatest rogues galleries in all of fiction.
From Harley Quinn, to Mr. Freeze & Killer Croc, The Mad Hatter, Deadshot, and even Ra’s Al Ghul has a small part to play.
They’re all layered in well and nobody feels like they are jammed in just to have another recognizable name.

As much as I love all of the Bat Family action, my absolute favorite part of this book is that it is interspersed with news reports and articles that help fill in and move the scope of the plot forward in a satisfying and easy to read way.
And having some of the most well known names in reporting from the Bat-verse adds just that perfect extra layer of in universe detail to make it feel like a lived in universe.
Particularly, Vicki Vale getting sucked in to Riddler’s game helps sell the danger to the citizens of Gotham.

The bottom line is this, gang, this novel does set up Arkham Knight pretty damn well.
Getting inside of Batman’s head, post Arkham City, sets up his spiraling mental state in that game in small but impactful ways that startle and unsettle The Dark Knight.
Seeing him have, process, and battle certain inherited tendencies and impulses (if you know the game, you know what that means) is interesting and puts his mastery of his own mind on full display.
All of his relationships are detailed and explained well enough for even the most casual of fans to understand and feel the weight of, his worries and fears get explored deeply enough to make you realize the burden this character carries through every decision and move he makes.

If you love this character no matter what iteration it is, you’re sure to dig this.
But if you are a mega fan of the Arkham games, but you weren’t sure about this tie-in, you definitely should dive in.
It’s a great bridge story that makes for a nice revisit to this particularly demented and grimy continuity.

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

Boosting The Signal: A Look Back At Firefly

They say you never forget your first.
And for me, that first was Firefly.
The first Sci-Fi franchise I found all on my own little onesie, no influence from Family Guy doing a spoof, no slight urging from a friend, no podcast making me warm up to it over time.
Firefly was all me, and all mine.

I grew up watching Buffy, but I missed the show when it first aired because this was the era before the internet and in a time when I would see “From The Creator Of” and not know enough to care what that meant.
So, in more ways then one, I missed the boat.

Now, I distinctly remember the trailers for Serenity when it was still coming soon and thinking it looked so damn weird.
The image of that weird girl, River, with her ballet like twirling and slashing while holding those things that looked like battleaxes always stuck out as something strange and different…and, at the time, not for me in any way, shape, or form at all!

So cut to a few years later and the introduction of Blu-Ray Disc, the cutting edge, the next evolution of home video!
Pre-The Clone Wars, for me at least, walking through the home video section at Walmart and I see this weird lookin’ sci-fi movie cover with its striking looking woman, this intense looking dude, and that beautiful ship.
It only cost $10 or $15, so I took a shot.

Now, for those unfamiliar with Firefly/Serenity, this was a dumbass dipshit move as Serenity is basically the series finale of Firefly.
I don’t want to spoil too much for those of you that don’t know the series and movie, but there are key character deaths, the biggest questions are answered, and I’m pretty damn sure all the mysteries of the series are solved.
So, yes, I watched that first.
But I didn’t give any amount of a shit, I loved it!
The humor, the action, the cast, and most of all the ship itself.
That homey, fully realized, eye-catching, and perfect boat was, and remains to this day, to be one of the biggest selling points for me.

Now, after watching the movie, I definitely felt like I missed something somewhere.
Until I dove into the special features, I never knew Firefly existed beyond the off-handed Family Guy joke about all of the shows that FOX had cancelled.
Those few bonus features opened up a whole new world!
Not long after I found the series on DVD, quickly I watched it and the movie in order.

Recently, I rewatched all fourteen episodes and the movie again and I feel basically the same as I felt over a decade ago, the same as the Browncoats that have been there since the premiere back in 2002.
This was, and continues to be, a wonderfully original series in style, tone, and use of language that was cut down well before it ever got a chance to hit its heights.
But what we were left with still set a damn high bar that most shows still don’t get near.
Pretty much the entire cast has gone on to great success in other shows, some on FOX.

And the quality and cast aren’t the only lasting pieces of this show’s legacy, because this little red headed stepchild of a franchise has rippled through even the heaviest of heavy hitters.
For example, I don’t think a single person can look at Solo and The Mandalorian (both of which I completely and utterly love) and seriously say that Firefly didn’t influence them.
Solo even has the space train robbery for christsake!

Now, in the age of the ever vocal internet, fans have been outspoken enough to warrant multiple comic series and 4 novels, so far.
In Serenity, Mr. Universe said what has become a sort of rallying cry for Browncoats everywhere “You Can’t Stop The Signal”, and that is more than fitting.
But after rewatching the entire show, another quote feels even more appropriate “When ya can’t run no more, ya crawl.
And when ya can’t do that, ya find somebody to carry you.”
We may never get any more filmed content from this franchise, but I’m glad the legacy will be carried on through comics and novels.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

Daphne And Velma: The Vanishing Girl Review

Seemingly since the Scrappy era (more modernly with Get A Clue) there has been this weird notion to break off the gang into different pairings, for whatever reason.
More recently, there’s been an uptick in telling origin stories of the gang (The Mystery Begins, the incredibly cringe inducing Daphne & Velma movie, & the upcoming SCOOB!), to varying degrees of success.
So, how does this novel that combines those two very things fare?
Well, gang, it looks like we have a mystery to solve!

As always, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

First and foremost, this book is earnest as hell.
This is most definitely not a story of 4 fun loving teens traveling the country solving mysteries with a big, goofy, loveable talking dog in tow.
This is the most serious treatment of the characters to date, and that’s both a good and bad thing.
Good because, like Mystery Incorporated, it gives me exactly what I always wanted to see from this franchise, a slightly less goofy and more serious series of mysteries.
The down side to all that earnestness being that the main attraction to the franchise, the aforementioned loveable and goofy talking dog, is declawed and dull down to almost being a footnote.
That’s right, gang, Scooby doesn’t talk at all, he’s just a normal dog.
Which works for this iteration, but does take away a big piece of the puzzle.

Let’s get this out of the way now so we can move onto the fun shit, my only major issue with this book/continuity would be the personalities and characterizations of the gang and their backgrounds.
For one, they all seem like rich, or formerly rich, kids with inattentive, dismissive dickhead parents.
But also, Shaggy throws the best parties in town, but really has no interest in them.
Fred is an aloof hippy dippy yoga lover.
The only ones that actually feel right are Daphne as a bit of a bratty child of divorce, whose mother is a multi-millionaire game designer, and Velma, in that she’s a lonely social outcast who feels like she’s probably the smartest person in any room she may enter…in the vein of what the incomparable Mindy Cohn was doing in Mystery Incorporated, just without the controlling psycho attitude.
Fred and Shaggy feel like they were dumbed down and swapped, for no real reason other then they just aren’t the focus of the story.
It’s a little frustrating, but through the comicbook “Multiverse” filter, I can deal with it.
Onto the good stuff!

The thing I enjoy the most is that this is clearly influenced by my absolute favorite Scooby series, Mystery Incorporated!
And it goes beyond just the town using the Crystal Cove name, the darkness and spooky edge to all of the mysterious goings on are just magnificent.
This version of Crystal Cove has its own founding curse that the town uses to wrangle in a tourist trade.
The curse of Crystal Cove is that generations before, every member of the town just up and disappeared without a trace.
Every year the town holds a festival to mark the day, and the ghosts of the missing still haunt the town to this day.

In my view, I think it’s pretty clear that author Josephine Ruby (a mysterious pseudonym for someone whom not much is known about, that nods to Scoob’s creation) loves Velma, because she’s the most fleshed out and faithful.
And bonus, unlike Mystery Inc, Velma is so damn likeable from start to finish that if you didn’t love her before, you probably will by the end.
Velma is that lonely kid that everybody fucked over and likes to push around, make eat shit until they need her and then they come a-callin’.
Daphne and Velma were once the best of friends, and it all changed once Velma saw something she wasn’t meant to see and told Daph, the reaction was less than ideal, and Daphne turned on her in a big bad way.
The plot forces them to put aside their differences for a common good, but the oldest wounds have the deepest scars.

To start wrapping up, I truly did love this book far more than I expected I ever would.
There is some of the anticipated “boys are trash & girls are perfect” type of tripe you get in these types of novels, but not overwhelmingly so.
This new continuity is familiar and interesting, Ruby is building her own world and it works well enough to keep me interested and welcoming future installments.
The cliffhanger left me wanting the next book now!
I so hope that these sell well, because this is the first step on the path to one of the last two pieces of Scooby I crave most: Serious, full length, Scooby novels!
I need somebody, potentially even Ruby herself, to write serious novels about the whole gang, in the same way Mystery Incorporated did, but in prose.
The best books ignite your imagination, and this did in so many ways.
Check it out, gang.

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 for her continued editorial assistance.

Day By Day Armageddon Review

Ten or so years ago, when my zombie love was hitting its first of many peaks, I stumbled across an interesting looking zombie diary.
Once I got it home, I figured out it was the sequel and quickly made sure to get the first installment because the concept alone sounded so cool.

But still, I was worried.
Over the years, I have watched damn near every zombie movie I could get my hands on, I would read any zombie books I stumbled across.
And 70% of the time I would be disappointed by dogshit effects or cheesy ass dialogue and attempts at suspense.
Zombie fiction is hard as hell to get right, and even the masters sometimes stumble.
But when it’s good, it’s so damn good.

So where did this fall on that oh so hard to hit target?
Lets find out!

As always, this is your offical ***SPOILER WARNING***

After a drunken night out partying, a Naval Officer makes a New Years Resolution to start keeping a journal.
January 2nd an outbreak in China is mentioned offhandedly.
January 10th, all hell is starting to break loose.
By the time the book ends, on May 19th, this unnamed military man and his fellow survivors have been through the ringer and the biggest shit storm is about to fully unload on them.

The 1 issue I have is that the main character never gets a name, but given the format it does make sense.
Who writes a diary in 3rd person?
Even so, it would have been nice to have an inside cover inscription or page where the narrator wrote his name and age.
That’s helpful information to have if he or his descendants look back on this years in the future.

Now, having said that, the rest is so damn good that it’s easy to forget that one minor quibble.
As the world descends further and further into chaos, the world is painted just as bleak and frightening as you’d expect.
There are a few moments of hope sprinkled throughout, so it’s not all depressing, but it really does capture what I imagine a zombie apocalypse would be like.
The hunt for food, supplies, and any fellow survivors that you could trust to help you make it until somebody figures out a way to fix the now broken world are all fully fleshed out.
J.L. Bourne’s actual military experience and knowledge adds credibility, believability, and depth to moments of technical rigging, flight, and weapon handling.

By the end, our protagonist has gathered a pretty good sized group of survivors together including his neighbor John and his dog, a family of 3 they tracked through frightened radio transmissions, and a woman whose car was surrounded.
The main character travels through Texas collecting this new tribe of the living at sometimes great costs.
There are some really fresh ideas in these journeys, particularly when they hole up in an air traffic control tower.

The 1st time that I read this book, I burned through it in a single day.
This time, I read it in 4.
Weighing in at 200 pages, this story zips by at a pace that’s hard to believe.
From the jump, it’s pretty damn enthralling, but by the time you hit the final page you’re left disappointed that it doesn’t keep going for another 200 pages.
Long story short, it nails the bullseye of the aforementioned target.
It’s just as good and creepy now as it was 10 years ago.
A good story is a good story, gang.

Let us what you think of this review in the comments below or share this post on Twitter with the Hashtag #TNBBookReview.

Special thanks to @ACFerrell1976 & @Gigiamk30 for their continued editorial assistance.