7 years later: my tirade against “Age of Extinction”

Okay so hey, it looks like the Transformers movies are going to do what we expected instead of what we hoped, and they’re making sequels in the vein of the first 5 (terrible) movies instead of following the soft reboot of Bumblebee. The next one is set in the 90s and will have Maximals and Predacons in it.

Transformer: Rise of the Beasts Movie Details Released

I’m not going to get excited for this. There’s just no point. They should have done an Optimus sequel to Bumblebee, and then concluded the trilogy with a Megatron finale. Let it come to the present, erase the other five movies from the timeline, and then go from there.

There was even talk of a CGI Beast Wars movie trilogy on a streaming platform in the coming years, likely Netflix. Now I don’t know what to think. They just casted Ron Perlman to be the voice of Optimus Primal. Solid meh from me.

I didn’t realize that I was part of the problem by making these movies successful until I sat in the theater for the 4th one, got halfway through, and slowly put it all together.

These movies were never going to be good with Michael Bay at the helm. Bumblebee was good, really good, perhaps not great, though it had moments of greatness. (I mean, it did have John Cena in it, so there’s a ceiling on this thing.)

But as I was a month away from turning 30, and I had one kid in the world, and we were planning on our second, something must have clicked for me in the Maturity Department and I saw what was going on. I was being taken for a ride, for my nostalgia, at the cost of my bank account, but worse, at the cost of the legacy a beloved franchise from my youth.

It could have been great. Instead it was this.

Bored at the new transformers movie. It’s pretty bad.

They could have made a wonderful apology for the last three, but they made this. No Dinobots yet. 90 mins in.

I actually want Shia back. I am rooting for the human characters to die. (If memory serves, this was right when the Irish adult explained the law that allowed him to bone a teenager in Texas)

Oh look, they are wrecking Chicago again.

Do they just hate the idea of properly executing the Galvatron/Unicron story?

Hey hey, the plot showed up! Let’s see how long this lasts.

Thirty seconds of plot after fifteen minutes of pointlessness and awful dialogue on a spaceship. No reason.

John Goodman as the voice of Hound is the most defensible thing about this so far. The soundtrack is good though. (Author’s note: I meant the score. The soundtrack had Imagine Dragons on it, which is like having Nickelback but with herpes.)

If they had cut out the last thirty minutes and gotten right to this we would be in good shape.

I don’t know why I expected any different.

And F-bomb. Greeeeeeat.

Kelsey Grammar was wasted on this script.

Why in the hell did I think this movie would make sense?

Anyway, there it is. I still haven’t seen The Last Knight and I promise you, I never will. I’m not excited for this. I’ll have to wait until I see a trailer, and if I’m enticed, then I’ll wait until I can get the DVD from the library, but dammit I am not paying for this movie. Not happening.

Pieces Of A Superhero

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I’ve been reviewing THE HERO NEXT DOOR so I can get the fine details right for future books in that series. Haven’t set a date for it to happen but it will, and in the coming years. Nick Stavros has a big role to play in the DreadVerse.

Here’s some of the stuff I looked up for him when I put the visuals together for him in 2017.

1971 Dodge Demon

Nick’s has the hood scoops, and an all-black paint job.

Padded motorcycle shirt

Troy Lee Designs Kids UPL7855HW LS Padded Shirt at MXstore

Hard knuckle motorcycle gloves

Best Motorcycle Gloves 2021 - Reviews & Buyer's Guide | JohnBurrCycles

Ballistic pants

Obermeyer Synthetic Ballistic Pants in Black for Men - Lyst

Hard-toe side-zip boots

Black Composite Toe Side Zipper military boot - Thorogood 804-6191

Parabolic microphone

Hearing Aids, Parabolic & Shotgun Mics

Rapelling hook

New Stainless Steel Rock Climbing Hooks Outdoor Mountaineering Climbing Claw Grapple Hook Travel ...

Hardest image to find was the mask, I basically had to make that up, but you can see it in the illustrations.

Anyway, that’s all, I had fun doing it.

Doing Just Enough To Be Good

I’ve been rewatching Beast Wars with my boys, remembering what it was like to get into it as a kid, even though I was one of maybe three kids I knew who cared what it was.

Like any kids show, each episode is elaborate 22-minute commercial to sell toys. Companies figured that out in the 80s once Star Wars figures started selling like hotcakes. (T0 date, Star Wars toys have grossed roughly double the amount of money that the movies have at the box office. Think about that.)

Since I was in the business of buying those toys when the show was on, the show worked on me exactly as it was supposed to. Now I have twenty-plus years of writing under my belt and I can see the story for the mess that it is.

That’s fine though. It’s still cool to check out clips of the ‘bots and let my imagination run with it. That’s what good toys do. You shouldn’t be restricted to what it was “made for,” you should be able to goof off in your mind and do whatever you want. That was why I ended up becoming a writer.

At the end of the day the show was good enough to sell me toys, and great enough to entertain me when I was sitting in math class, refusing to pay attention.

Good stuff.

GEA Cover Progress

Been chipping at this when time permits, here are the first three phases. What comes next is just gonna take a while because rendering is a slow process.

First I do all the poses and stuff in rough underlines.

Then I finalize and refine that stuff with inks. I changed one pose (top left) and made the two middle figures a little bigger.

And then I get the flat colors in place.

Who’s in the Guild?

Got a piece of reader mail that I’ll answer on the pod, but here’s a glimpse for you who check out the site. The ongoing audio story on the DreadPennies Adventure Hour is THE GUILD OF ELDRITCH ADVENTURERS. It’s basically The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen with American literary protags instead of European ones.

Chapters 1 and 2 are available on the podcast, which you can subscribe to with the following links:




The characters from chapter one were pretty much all from THE WIZARD OF OZ, with a late appearance by Hester Prynne from THE SCARLET LETTER. Chapter two takes us to Lake George in New York, which was the site of a battle in the French and Indian War. That’s where we meet two new characters, Natty Bumpo and Chingachgook. They’re from James Fenimore Cooper’s THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS.

The movie from the 90s with Russell Means and Daniel Day-Lewis was a really good adaptation of the book. (They played Chingachgook and Natty, respectively.)

I considered adding in Uncas, but I felt like that would crowd the roster, so I only brought Chingachgook and the Hawk.

I’ll reveal more really cool characters as the story unfolds.

It’s time for the superhero genre to take itself seriously in literature.

There’s a reason why Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the best superhero movie: it stays close to the ground, it’s got a realistic story, and the superhero elements are basically window dressings to make it a little sexier.

This movie is basically a spy thriller that has the trappings of the MCU in it. The characters are excellent and the actors play it straight.

With mainstream comic book sales dying and the MCU committing suicide at the corporate level, the time is ripe for good superhero novels to fill the vacuum.

I’m still trying to find them. Tough search. Which I guess I why I have to write them.

I’m listening to this one, and it’s fine, but hot damn is the plot stale, the twists predictable, the characters way too damn cliche. There is nothing here you haven’t seen before–and there’s a nice pseudo-Latino villain in cockroach-themed power armor (La Cucracha!) to boot.

Give us better superhero stories.

The way to do this is by doing a better story *period.*

Check this one out!

Most of these hour-long music mixes are set to simple repeating videos that loop the same few seconds over and over. This animation sequence lasts several minutes, and only repeats a few times throughout the whole video. It’s kind of mesmerizing, and I dig the soundtrack.

Bison Bros!

Summer of 2001 was 20 years ago at this point, and now I feel really old. Then again, I’m now married with three kids, a mortgage, a career, and all that stuff, so I haven’t exactly been sitting on my hands.

That particular summer was a year of transformation for me, as I spent months practicing on the varsity Cheer squad at my high school. I had visible six-pack abs for the first time in my life.

Anyway, since I’m trying to teach my sons that they can physically level up if they keep trying something, we’re doing a workout program this summer of my own invention. It’ll be tough, but that’s the point. They’ll go into the fall with the confidence of someone who can run and do pushups and all that with ease. We call it “Bison Bros” because the bison is the official animal of America, and we’re Americans. #legit.

We just finished our first week. It wasn’t easy, because hey, that’s life these days, but we got it done.

Are you getting in shape this summer?