Monday, July 22, 2024

Between Books - Deadpool: Dead Presidents

Cover for Deadpool: Dead Presidents showing Deadpool firing handguns at a greem godzilla like monster.

Deadpool boxes zombie Abraham Lincoln. Yes, this is great Deadpool!

As I said earlier, Gerry Duggan is part of some really really great Deadpool. Deadpool: Dead Presidents by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn with art by Tony Moore is really funny Deadpool. A misguided necromancer had decided he has the solution for a failing America, resurrecting the deceased presidents of the United States. But naturally, something has gone wrong, and they all come back evil! Now, Captain America could stop this threat, but when SHIELD realizes that it is a horrible look to have Steve Rogers beating on a zombie historical leader, they go to the one man who any press is good press…Wade Wilson. The merc spends the story stopping the devious plans of the deceased presidents, A through E level.

This is really really good Deadpool!

Wade is building community. He has a group of SHIELD agents around him in support including a new agent, Agent Preston, a character who is diverse and brings a lot of reason to an unreasonable story. But he also has Agent Scott Adsit in his support group, I mean Baymax! Adsit, the voice of Baymax in Big Hero 6 is a friend of Duggan and Posehn who were active in the comedy scene and they created him as a recurring fictional agent who you can still find a decade later still on the page. Yet, he has still not appeared in live-action, which is a huge mistake. The posse even includes the ghost, NOT ZOMBIE, Benjamin Franklin.

Deadpool is trying to be better. He’s a professional my friends. He wants to do a good job and make plenty of money. This a merc with a mouth with a motivation. The awesome thing about this run as it develops is Posehn and Duggan will give him even more motivation to be a good human. So if you pick this up, keep going. I mean it does have a cliffhanger which makes you want to go to the next volume.

Wade, is he my friend? Yes, I will admit he generally does not break the fourth wall. But he has plenty of quips that are clearly meant for me, I mean the reader. And he does explain to other fictional characters that he is talking to us. So we get an acknowledgment. My favorite moment though may be when he tells us what to listen to during a five-page montage. Honestly, it made it feel more cinematic.

Finally, if I have not made it clear enough…this story is absurd. Zombie Abe Lincoln! But in all the wildness, the creators give us a clear picture of what they thought of 2014 American society (spoiler it may not have changed much)! They also are brilliant in working in real historical facts about the presidents and super super obscure references to other Marvel storylines.

With Deadpool and Wolverine coming soon, you may be looking for a comic starting point. Deadpool: Dead Presidents by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn with art by Tony Moore is my recommendation. It does not require a lot of Wade’s backstory. It is silliness ramped up to 11. It has characters that will follow Deadpool around awhile, yes I want Adsit in this movie! Finally, the writing and art are top-notch!

Now get out of here and go read! 


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Friday, July 19, 2024

Between Books - Uncanny Avengers: The Resistance

Uncanny Avengers: The Resistance book cover shogin Deadpool with guns drawn in the middle of a grouping of Avengers including Captain America up front, Rogue, Quicksilver, Psylock, and Monet

Let’s continue our exploration of recentish Deadpool stories in the Krakoan Era of Marvel Comics. Will Uncanny Avengers: The Resistance satisfy a diehard Deadpool fan?

Uncanny Avengers: The Resistance by Gerry Duggan with art by Joshua Cassara finds the Mutants of Krakoa on the run. Orchis, an anti-Mutant organization, has filled the vacuum left by SHIELD (which is always falling apart) and has forced Mutants to leave Earth for exile on the planet Arakko (which you might call Mars). Avenger Steve Rogers cannot let this stand, and forms a team of X-Men and Avengers, the Uncanny Avengers, working to expose Orchis’ evil plans and allow Mutants the right to live freely on this planet. One of those Avengers…is our guy Wade Wilson. Orchis in an attempt to further discredit Mutants has a superpowered individual steal the Captain Krakoa costume formally worn by Cyclops to spread Mutant Hate in false flag operations. Can the Uncanny Avengers expose Orchis and the identity of their suited soldier?

So, let’s examine this story in light of whether is this really good Deadpool? First, Wade is fully a member of a community in this Avengers team. He has a group, he is loyal to them and they are loyal to him. He truly has a place where he mostly fits as a bridge between Mutant and non-Mutant heroes. Second, Wade is on his 100% best behavior. Steve Rogers is leading this group and historically he has proven his willingness to do whatever Steve asks and be a better person. This is Deadpool as we generally won’t see him in movies, a good soldier. Third, honestly, Wade does not laugh away the pain. This is going to sound wild, but, while he has some jokey jokey moments, he provides some of the most sincere and truthful moments of the story. He’s clearly there for the comedy relief, but the court jester speaks some hard truth. Finally, Deadpool is not our pal. He really has nothing to say to us as this is more of an Avengers/Captain America book.

The story is written by Gerry Duggan who has given us some of the beat Deadpool out there. Storywise, he does draw on some of his Deadpool past and some of his Deadpool family creations. But he is not writing haha hehe Deadpool. He is writing an Avengers tale that is well within the Krakoan Era of X-Men comics, which he has contributed to. He is one of my favorite writers; this is a solid story. Duggan just didn’t write a Deadpool story.

Duggan does rely on the history of Deadpool and the Avengers Unity Squad. Believe it or not, Deadpool is not just an Avenger, but has led and bankrolled the team. A big part of that history is Captain America, and allow me to say again, Wade’s willingness to do anything for him. This story does lead back into that willingness in some of the reveals. What happened shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did as I was expecting the soldier to be someone else. But Duggan really did hint hard at his final reveal.

There is synergy in using Avengers and Deadpool at the same time. There appears to be some sort of Avengers team in Deadpool and Wolverine. And this book does help remind at least comic readers that Deadpool has been associated with the team. Do I think it’s this team…not even close. But it could lean heavily on X-men like this story does since the Deadpool movies have been X-Men heavy and the most exciting trailer reveals have been X-Men heroes and villains.

I will say there is a lot of value in comics in reflecting today and providing stories for moral growth. There are some real ripped-from-the-headline-type moments here which reflect current events and maybe how we should react to these issues. Some may not like where Duggan goes. But as I often say about comics, we need to learn our lessons.

Uncanny Avengers: The Resistance
by Gerry Duggan with art by Joshua Cassara is a good story that supports a major Marvel Comics story line with Krakoa. But it’s not the “best” example of what I like about Deadpool. Yeah, I like that the jester is wise! But Wade is definitely a supporting hero, not the lead. So while I enjoyed the story, it wasn’t a good example of my quest to showcase Deadpool. For that, we may need to go further into the past! 


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Monday, July 15, 2024

Between Books - Deadpool by Alyssa Wong Volume 1

Bood cover for Deadpool by Alyssa Wong volume one featuring an image of Deadpool floating in a pool of bodies on a watermelow floatie asking the audience "Literal enough for you?"

Alright, I really like Deadpool! But how does one of the most recentish runs stack up in that fandom!

Deadpool By Alyssa Wong Volume 1 collects the first five issues of the Deadpool main title written by Alyssa Wong with art by Martin Coccolo along with a few pages of material from New Mutants. Two plots slam together in this opening volume! First, Deadpool is given an audition to become a member of Atelier, a super-elite group of assassins you mostly don’t know, in the mission to kill Doctor Octopus. Second, while on this quest, Deadpool is kidnapped by the Harrower, a newish villain, who acts a bit like DC’s Poison Ivy and wishes to use Deadpool to create a new super symbiote. Wade has to balance both Harrower and Atelier. While everyone is trying to kill him, Wade also grows a new child inside him and balances a new girlfriend who may herself be a killer (okay she’s totally an assassin).

Let’s look at what I think makes Deadpool great. First, he is fully trying to build community by joining Atelier, a group of like-minded killers. Maybe it’s not the group that a moral person wants to be part of, but there’s an opening. Second, Wade is fully trying to be better. His audition with Atelier is him seeking validation for the fact that he has improved to an elite level…of killing. But he is also trying to be a great boyfriend with us seeing the growth from courting to officially we are a couple. Let’s also not forget he is working on being a great dad/friend to a new symbiote. Third, the humor that covers the pain here is somewhat on the nose. Harrower’s experiment is unimaginably painful, and Wade never stops the quips or laughing. This is truly a laugh-it-off situation. Finally, is he our pal? Wade does greet us into this story! But Wong does not have him chit-chat with us as much as some may like.

I also need to note for those who don’t like Deadpool, this is really violent. Symbiotes are in the house! And that always brings a level of blood and body horror that others may not enjoy. Visually you get to see why Wade is wearing the red pants. But it’s truly not for me to be so bloody at times because symbiotes are not always kind to bodies. (Disclaimer, I think Marvel overused symbiotes like Venom and Carnage).

A lot of what comics do is work synergy! Deadpool & Wolverine has been on the board for years, and this volume at least does a bad job of preparing fans for a movie. The good of this decision is that Wong was not pushed by a committee to write a Wolverine story and could make story choices beyond that requirement. The New Mutants material fully puts the title in the Krakoan era, where Mutants had their own nation-state. It also reminds us that Deadpool is Mutant adjacent, despite not being one. The use of Doctor Octopus as a target did limit the stakes for me, as I knew that no real harm could come to him in a non-Spidey title. I also am symbioted out (my new phrase). I am just not a fan of Venom and Carnage and all the other symbiotes that Marvel seems to currently be sprinkling everywhere (oh, I already mentioned that). So sadly, there’s no synergy here for me.

Deadpool By Alyssa Wong Volume 1 by Alyssa Wong with art by Martin Coccolo is a fine Deadpool story that hits a lot of the boxes that I like. It is set in the Krakoan era but isn’t shoehorned into that giant arc but it also doesn’t prepare us for a movie. It feels like Wong had some freedom in the creator role which I think is wonderful. But symbiotes are not my favorite thing to find in a Marvel story as a personal story (running theme of this review). 


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Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Oswald Opines - Why I Like My Pal Deadpool

Movie Deadpool making a heart with his hands.

I’ve loved Deadpool for decades. I loved Deadpool before he was cool! Deadpool would probably be shocked to find out he is cool!

I get that not everyone is a fan of Deadpool. I have friends who really dislike him. I get thier impressions. Wade Wilson is gross, profane, vile, lacks morals, and is generally a horrible person. He is super violent, he is a merc with a mouth, and he uses it. He murders and kills. Shouldn’t he be a villain? Finally, a lot of times stupidity rules his stories with a large amount of absurdity. Deadpool isn’t for everyone! Even I can find Deadpool stories I don’t like, when the writer feels like Deadpool is just a slashing and shooting machine.

Not to brag, I’ve read at least 115 Deadpool specific titles. This doesn’t even count titles where he was a guest star or regular cast member like X-Force. This makes me feel like I have the receipts to discuss the best part of Deadpool’s story and why I enjoy him so much. The best Deadpool stories have the following qualities:

  • Community: The best Deadpool stories see him trying to create relationships and communities. Wade physically looks horrifying, as highlighted in the Deadpool movie. His costume in’t cute…but it does scream “See Me! Look at Me! Love Me!” So while Deadpool stories often do have a lot of excessive violence, the tortilla of the chimichanga that is wrapped around character moments of an outside seeking to connect with others and feel valued. Deadpool IS NOT a Mutant. Yet for example he is X-men affiliated and a frequent member of the paramilitary Mutant squad X-Force. How did he get placed her, he sought community with Mutants. While he is an unlikable and unlovable outsider who appears to be a solo story, good Deadpool stories have a full cast of community.

  • BetterUp: Wade Wilson is trying to be better. He’s trying to be a better boyfriend…or husband. He wants to be a better friend. Sometimes he wants to be a better hero while other times he wants to be a better murderer. Deadpool in his long history becomes a dad, yeah that’s not a great idea. But he works on being the best dad he can, one who teaches murder but a good dad. In the best Deadpool stories, a basic story construction I see is literally, he’s trying to be better.

  • Laugh Away the Pain: A great Deadpool story needs to have a lot of humor. Often the more absurd the better. Yes, Deadpool boxing zombie Abraham Lincoln has happened and it’s hilarious. But while there is usually a lot of humor, read closely. Wade Wilson and Peter Parker quips are far from the same. Typically Wilson’s cover his own internal pain…pain over his his traumas associated with military service, cancer, non-Mutant-Mutantlike state, broken relationships, and so much more. Wade is broken. He uses comedy to hide this brokenness. Maybe that comedy can also trigger some healing!

  • Your Pal Wade: Deadpool is your friend. He’s going to chat with you while he’s on his madcap adventures. Because your buddies and we all need buddies. How many other comic book heroes can you say that about? Warning: most answers for other 4th Wall Breakers are following Wade’s lead.

I was personally thrilled when Ryan Reynolds was cast as Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I thought he was perfect…because of Two Guys, a Girls and a Pizza Place. As Berg, Reynolds balanced comedy with emotion with comedy. And then they SEWED HIS MOUTH SHUT! So no quips to heal trauma. And he couldn’t be our friend. And we couldn’t hear him chit chat with friends. It was a waste! Needless to say when I saw the famous leaked test footage for Deadpool, I was one of those fans screaming TAKE MY MONEY!

In short, Deadpool’s not perfect. But neither am I! He’s an exaggerated version of me and my friends. He’s trying to make himself a better person. He has trauma he is trying to get past, maybe not in a way that everyone can agree with. But he’s trying. And like so many of us he feels isolated and is just trying to create community.

These are just a few reasons why I liked Deadpool before he was cool! Maybe you should give Wade a try and see if he’s the friend you need when you can’t get the one you want.

P.S. If you see the name Joe Kelly or Gerry Duggan, it’s probably really good Deadpool!

Monday, July 1, 2024

Cap's Comics - Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime #1

Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime cover showing scrooge swimming in gold coins.
Alex Ross Cover

Disney is having another comic book moment! Not since the days of Disney Kingdoms have we seen Disney push traditional Disney intellectual property into the hands of American comic book readers. And hopeful this time it sticks!

Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime cover showing a Uncle Scrooge split between good and evil.
Lorenzo Pastrovicchio Variant Cover

“Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime #1” is a one-shot self-contained story featuring Uncle Scrooge in a multiversal adventure. Jason Aaron leads this effort, a well-renowned, experienced comic creator who loves classic Carl Barks and Don Rosa duck comics. Aaron reaches back to Barks’ “Christmas on Bear Mountain” story and asks what could have happened differently and pushed Scrooge away from family connections. This Scrooge McDuck used the power of his Number One Dime to enter other universes and become the richest duck in all universes, primarily stealing from Scrooge variants. Our hero Scrooge attempts to assemble a team to defeat Scrooge-Above-All and return all of the Uncle Scrooges’ riches. Along with Aaron’s original story, the issue reprints Barks’ “Christmas on Bear Mountain.”

Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime cover showing Uncle Scrooge in profile wearing a tuxedo and carrying a money bag.
Elizabeth Torque Variant Cover

I love 90% of what Jason Aaron writes. His Original Sin mini-series, how it reframed Nick Fury, and the impact it had on the Marvel universe is one of my favorite stories. He also tends with most of his best work to be dark, edgy, and not kid-friendly. Yet, as I mentioned, he loves duck stories because he shared them with his son. Aaron is a perfect choice for this story. He weaves the history and tradition of what a reader would expect from duck stories, like images and call-outs to Duck Tales, with Marvel story references. With me being more of a Marvel guy than a duck guy, Aaron gave me several Easter Eggs that made me chuckle, and finding myself a little shocked he went there. I also really love the fact that he choose to not make Uncle Scrooge McDuck prime the villain of this story and used a multiversal version to go all Thanos instead.

Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime cover showing a spacesuited  Uncle Scrooge running through a shower of gold bars
Ron Lim Variant Cover

I don’t know any of the artists. Every chapter has a different artist, and one can tell there are slight art changes. Paolo Mottura, Francesco D’Ippolito penciling with Lucio De Giuseppe inking, Alessandro Pastrovicchio and Vitale Mangiatordi, and finally Giada Perissinotto put Aaron’s words onto the page for each chapter. It makes a lot of sense why these unfamiliar to an American reader names take up the art chores. They are all Italian. And while duck stories fell out of fashion in the United States, duck stories flourished in Italy. And so if Marvel wants to put their best foot forward with this new Marvel Disney mash-up experiment, they have selected the most duck-influenced and experienced artists available. I also don’t think Disney needed a splashy well-known artist as I’m sure that much of the audience they are attempting to attract don’t even know that Jason Aaron is a superstar of the medium. 

Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime cover showing Uncle Scrooge sitting in floating gold coins.
Frank Miller Variant Cover

I hope this experiment leads to more. Disney has committed to two Donald Duck What If? Stories in the next few months. The ads in the comic advertise younger heroes that may be more all-ages or youth-friendly, all with “Perfect for Younger Readers!” stamps. I think a few years ago, the $7.99 price may have kept some prospective new readers away. But with current costs, it really is a fair price for the issue. I was worried when I saw a reprint that I would not feel like I got enough new material for the price. But I was glad that Bear Mountain was reprinted as Aaron made mention of it as his inspiration. So instead of me needing to track down that story, it was given to me and other readers who may not want to take the time to research it. The next two offerings are under $5 which I think will make them more inquisitive friendly. That under $5 perception could make it feel more budget-friendly, but I assume there will be fewer pages. A parent may be more willing at that price to pick it up for their young reader. I just want to see comics in Walt Disney World since Universal Orlando Resort already has them! 

Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime cover showing Uncle Scrooge gripping his hat on a roofop.
John Romita Jr. Variant Cover

“Uncle Scrooge and the Infinity Dime #1” makes me declare, Let’s Go. I really am a Jason Aaron stan so the news of this story instantly caught my attention. Disney and Aaron was a good bet for me. Storywise, it also makes me want to read some of the Barks and Rosa stories, because Aaron makes it clear Uncle Scrooge may be one of the multiverse's greatest adventurers.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Between Books - Before the Birds Sang Words

Book cover for Before the Birds Sang Words with an illustrated macaw sitting on a perch.

I have to beg the Between Kid to enter Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room in the Magic Kingdom! Maybe it takes a Dole Whip to get him to agree to enter. Maybe I just have to demand a break in the AC. Cearly, singing colorful birds doesn’t excite him. Now, Pirates of the Caribbean, he can ride all day! And what’s sad about this situation is that José is essential to the story of Jack Sparrow, Elsa, Mr. Potato Head, and Hondo Ohnaka when we see them in the parks today.

Before the Birds Sang Words by Ken Bruce outlines the long, and we mean long, saga of the Disneyland Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. While the attraction may have opened in 1963, Bruce ties the origins of the singing bird attraction not in just the popular tale of the New Orleans bird toy that Walt Disney brought to Imagineering, but even earlier to the astronomical clock in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg in Alsace, France. The 60-foot clock was created in 1354 and seen by Walt as a young Red Cross volunteer and an American businessman visiting France in the 1930s. Bruce uses the clock as a foundation from which he builds intersecting histories of mechanical toys, American views on Tiki and Polynesian culture, and Walt Disney’s development of the American theme park as seen through Disneyland. With Disneyland established, and his gift of a mechanical bird to Imagineering, Disney charged his artists to develop a bird restaurant. This challenge would lead to a ten-year development cycle that includes some of Disney’s most respected artists including John Hench, Marc Davis, Rolly Crump, the Sherman Brothers, Harriet Burns, and numerous other Disney Legends who participated in the evolution of a planned restaurant to a higher-capacity singing bird show. Bruce provides a comprehensive view of the show's development discussing Disneyland food service (can we talk about Stouffer’s Foods friends), Audio-Animatronic development, show scripting, building layout, song selection, recording, and virtually any topic of relevance to the show. Bruce finishes with a discussion of the evolution of the Disneyland attraction and its duplication in other parks like Walt Disney World.

I really enjoyed Before the Birds Sang Words. It is well-organized, well-written, and engaging. As someone who is not in food service, if you had told me that I would be fascinated by a chapter discussing Stouffer’s Foods I would have loudly said that would not happen. But in the big picture of Disneyland and Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, this one small detail matters for understanding the relationship between leasees in Disneyland and why Walt Disney moved away from their large role in the park. The quality of the book and its definitive coverage of the attraction is surprising to me due to the fact it’s not a Disney Press edition yet it meets or exceeds the qualities of that press.

I called this story a saga, and it really is. The short story us Disney fans tell is that Walt Disney wanted a bird restaurant, Walt Disney realized that the birds were above the food, and he moved to an attraction. No, this is a ten-year development where technology changed, capacity was better understood, and Tiki culture grew in popularity. What’s also interesting to me is that honestly no one seems to have gotten what they wanted. Marc Davis designs were rejected, along with Rolly Crump’s. I really enjoyed the pages that discussed Davis and Hench working at cross-purposes. Songs were revised by George Bruns. Scripts and roles were changed, taking out some of Wally Boag’s saucy jokes. In the end, the attraction was rarely what anyone truly wanted, but a true collaboration between many visions. Though some would be able to show in the attraction’s evolution that what they wanted likely would have been for the best from the start.

Before the Birds Sang Words
by Ken Bruce is a engaging saga of one Disney attraction. But it’s an attraction who’s impact extends beyond the four corners the bird room. Bruce notes that some like the Between Kid may not be an enthusiastic for singing birds today as in the past. But Bruce gives us a context to better understand how important singing birds really are in Disney history and a chronicle of the hit they really were for Disney fans in Anaheim and beyond. Bruce helps us understand fully the lastly impact of the tiki birds and their entertainment legacy even for those who lack modern interest.

Clearly next time I’m in the park, I need a AC break even if he says no!  Because I love legacy.

Review Copy Provided for Review

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Monday, June 17, 2024

Between Books - There are Dads Way Worse Than You

Book cover for There are Dads Way Worse than You showing an ilustrated Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker looking at Luke's severed hand.

I’m not a card guy. There is part of me that sees a card as a $5 note, which will likely go to recycling in 97% of cases, all numbers being approximate. I’ve kept a few for the notes as they warmed my heart. But let’s be honest most cards go to recycling. I know the one’s I’ve given SHOULD BE RECYCLED.

There are Dads Way Worse Than You: Unimpeachable Evidence of Your Excellence as a Father
by Glen Boozan and illustrated by Priscilla Witte is what I received from the Between Family in place of a card. The book is simple, are you worried about being a dad? Well, here’s a list of fictional and real dads who quite simply you out Dad daily. The bad dads include Darth Vader (no spoilers as he’s on the cover), Disney villains, and numerous pop culture baddies. Each dad is highlighted with a cute picture and a short narrative of his failure.

There are Dads Way Worse Than You: Unimpeachable Evidence of Your Excellence as a Father will likely resonate with new dads who are worried about their future parenting triumphs and failures. Geek dads, including Disney ones, will also find themselves amused by the images and memories. I am willing to admit, I may be a better dad than Darth Vader. I did like the BBQ image at the end of the book where my favorite bad dad pairing is playing catch.

There are Dads Way Worse Than You: Unimpeachable Evidence of Your Excellence as a Father
by Glen Boozan and illustrated by Priscilla Witte is a book that to me is better than a card. And maybe this is what we need to normalize small gift books with heartwarming messages, in place of recycling materials. And hey, those sweet notes we love, you can still add them on the blank pages!

This post contains affiliate links, which means that Between Disney receives a percentage of sales purchased through links on this site. 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Between Books - Where is Walt Disney World?

Book cover for Where is Walt Disney World with an illustrated fun looking version of Magic Kingdom and Epcot combined with fireworks.

Between Disney is back to bash a kid's book!

Where is Walt Disney World?
By Joan Holub and illustrated by Gregory Copeland is an introduction to Walt Disney World for readers aged 8 to 12. The book provides a history of the development of the theme park including the life of Walt Disney, Disneyland, the leadership of Roy O. Disney, and the park's opening. The book then proceeds to tour the park from Magic Kingdom, to EPCOT, to Animal Kingdom (this is not in historical or geographical order ), and then to Disney Hollywood Studios. After walking through the parks, the creators discuss special events, hotels, Disney Springs, and the changing nature of the parks. The chapters include topical inserts and hand-drawn style illustrations scattered on the pages.

When I was 12, I wrote my first major historical essay on the surrender at Appomattox. Per the publisher’s recommendation, I could have used the published level of narrative and fact in this book to support my project. If so, that would have been a mistake. The history inside is sometimes the Disney myth history, without much explanation or elaboration. It often fails to address what I think is a more interesting story of a kid. For example, they call the Ulitidors the underground tunnels of the Magic Kingdom. But wouldn’t it be more interesting to a kid to know that it’s the first floor, not a basement? Or maybe a kid might be excited reading and try to sell their parents on one of the cheaper resort hotels, Animal Kingdom Lodge! Even the All-Stars laughed when I read that line.

The text is what it is! For a 8 year old it’s likely fine as it provides brushing big strokes on Walt Disney World history and location building. But for a 11 or 12-year-old, and likely a lot of 10s it’s too surface and likely to not feel up to their grade level of reading. For kids who want to dig into the history, background, and secrets of the park, I honestly think a better choice would be a current copy of The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World books which is at an appropriate reading level, makes them feel more mature, and likely give them a lot of secrets they would annoy the adults around them with.

Where is Walt Disney World? By Joan Holub and illustrated by Gregory Copeland is a fine book for younger readers who need a surface introduction to Walt Disney World with images to keep them engaged with the story. But for emerging readers and those wanting to know more of the story, it’s likely a book that lacks the depth desired.  


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Monday, June 3, 2024

Between Books - Hidden History of Walt Disney World


Book cover for Hidden History of Walt Disney World wiht a black and white photo showing the park under construction from the viewpoint of the front gates

“I’d like to talk about EPCOT’s legacy by taking a look at EPCOT’s role in the proud American tradition of getting drunk on vacation (Nolte, 141).” You have my attention!

Disney books include a vibrant sub-genre of what I call “Secrets Books”! They generally consist of short chapters, often unconnected topically, and aim to bring readers deeper into the Disney story by ripping back the curtain. Some of these titles can be largely trivia books giving you quick looks behind the scenes. Others show us trends and make deeper connections about our beloved theme parks. I don’t recommend overlooking these books, as David Koenig’s Mouse Tales is still a book that I recommend new readers start with, mostly because it’s fun and rich in story. It’s this genre that started my Between Books obsession.

Hidden History of Walt Disney World by Foxx Nolte is the latest in secrets books. Topically the book is broken into five main sections that can be labeled as Orlando before Disney, building Walt Disney World, The Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and expanding Walt Disney World. The chapters in these sections are generally short and full of images with topics that can range from citrus in Central Florida, tickets, drinking at EPCOT (as promised), McDonalds on Walt Disney World property, and many more. Each chapter is engaging with the reader and well-researched. I do find the images are well-used in supporting the text, especially when some readers may pick this book up to prepare for a first-time vacation and some topics are not those that are generally known to even experienced amateur Disney historians.

Doctor Phillips was not a doctor! My family is tired of hearing me say this and they may secretly be shaking their hands at Nolte. I think this is a win as I love beating a piece of fact into the ground. What really stands out to me about this book is the connection of Walt Disney World to the city of Orlando. Nolte notes the complicated relationship between the city and the theme park. But he also urges readers to understand that the identity of each was partially guided by the other. Walt Disney World is a place grounded in the city's history, and Orlando as it exists today was guided by the growth of the Disney property. In making this connection, Nolte introduces us to Orlando's history before the arrival of Disney and helps us see how these precursors impact the park today. For me, Dr. Phillips is a spot on a map! I sometimes questioned if there was a Dr. Phillips but was too lazy to Google it. Nolte pulls readers into the story of Doctor Phillips, not MD, citrus magnet, and then draws connections to how his business empire was used by Disney and then back to the city with how Disney has helped shape the area of Orlando known by that name today. For me, this connection between the parks and the city is one of the most interesting themes found in the book.

Alright, back to the drinking! I read the sentence about showing EPCOT’s legacy through getting drunk, and I read it again, and again…and then said huh. As a reader, I dared Nolte to do it! Now, while I do enjoy a good pint, I have never and likely will never get drunk on Disney property. I read a lot of Disney books, and I have seen discussions of legacy and evolution based in business terms, cultural terms, and entertainment terms. But drinking? Nolte meets the challenge well, by providing a history of events on Disney property along with the changing views of drinking in public while at the parks. This chapter is a good example of what most chapters will provide; history you may not have seen fully before, images that visually bring you closer to the topic, and a thematic line that educates and maybe even tells you about more than a theme park.

Hidden History of Walt Disney World
by Foxx Nolte is not your typical secrets book by just highlighting events within Walt Disney World. Notle does an excellent job of connecting the park’s history to the geographical region it resides in strengthening the mental image of the parks to the city. If anything, there were times when I wanted a little bit more so I had more facts to share with those around me. Though often, like the story of the Walt Disney World Preview Center, Nolte finds ways to bring the story back around full circle.

But I do wonder what Citrus Salad Gel tastes like!

Review Copy Provided by History Press

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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Between Books - Star Wars: The Living Force

Book cover for Star Wars: The Living Force showing the 12 Jedi Masters including Yoda and Mace Windu.

The Star Wars literary world has recently moved us from one prequel, The High Republic, to another. It’s been 25 years since Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. This prequel was criticized by fans and general audiences, much like I feel about The High Republic. But now, decades later and after stories like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this period is beloved by many fans.

Star Wars: The Living Force by John Jackson Miller is two storylines that merge together in an action-packed conclusion. In the first storyline, the Jedi find themselves closing outposts as trade and population centers move in the galaxy. With those movements, crime fills the vacuum. The Jedi Council decides to leave their temple before closing the beloved outpost on the planet Kween in The Slice region of the galaxy. Many Masters have a history with this location, and they realize that the criminal element has increased as Jedi outposts nearby close. The Jedi Council Master plan to hold a session in person on the planet and celebrate publicly the history and legacy of the outpost. Readers follow the members of the Jedi Council as they interact with the citizens of Kween and follow the Force’s urgings to aid groups and individuals. The second storyline follows Jedi Master Depa Billaba who has gone undercover into a criminal ring to help one young girl escape a life of crime. Master Mace Windu, her former Master, stops on his way to Kween to ensure she makes the meeting and if needed provides aid. Both stories meet on Kween as all 12 Masters influence the book’s conclusion.

John Jackson Miller knows science fiction and Star Wars. He has written several prose Star Wars books, though he had taken a decade's leave from this universe…with him writing some Star Trek books during that time. He has written even more Star Wars comic tales, especially for the Dark Horse era. So while we honestly won’t get many revelations, he weaves a tale that will keep the reader’s attention as someone who has completed the assignment before. While it’s not a full-on giant battle piece, I think he does a good job of showing the personal failure of the Jedi Council. They had removed themselves from the people. So to the people, they were merely rumors. And for the Jedi Council, the needs of the people were abstract. They have lost connection with the reality of the galaxy. For me, this shows how a Sith Lord could manipulate a galaxy Jedi leadership knew nothing about in a practical way.

Miller also allows us to use familiar mental images and a hook to bring in readers of other Star Wars media. First, most moviegoers have seen the majority of Masters on the screen. So we have general images for most of them. Miller is then able to use his space to give us a story that we never knew and lacks conflict with other stories as most of them are enigmas to us. Let us also not forget we have Yoda as a Master, who is very active in this book and invites us to get to know the others better, and their faults. Along with him we also get Mace Windu though his interactions with the other Masters are limited. Second, we have a halo effect for Master Billaba. She is the Master of a character not found here, Kanan Jarrus. I personally think that Jarrus may be one of the most effective Jedi found in Star Wars stories, and definitely, he is beloved. Billaba has been seen just a little bit in comics and television. This story allows us to see her in more fullness and we want to see her personality in view. While she challenges herself to help just one person, we can see a moral compass that she passed down to Jarrus. 

Star Wars: The Living Force by John Jackson Miller is refreshing. It is a standalone story, that has a clear beginning and end that really only needs the basic understanding of the prequel trilogies. One can get in, enjoy, and move on to their next read. I think the publishing program can use a little more of this, a stand-alone adventure that serves to just provide adventure while also reinforcing the action we saw on the screen.


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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Between Books - The Magic is in You

Cover for The Magic is  in You with the title in the middle surrounded by Disney characters including Mickey Mouse, Dorry, Pascal, and Aladdin

Cash or prizes, which do you prefer? What do you like to give for graduations or other turning point celebrations?

The Magic is in You by Colin Hosten and Brooke Vitale illustrated by Grace Lee is an inspirational children’s book, which reminds us of a core message, the magic is in you! The book follows a basic pattern. A crisis is presented by the writers using images from Disney or Pixar animated films. The moment is illustrated in soft original art. The next page resolves the issue by pointing out the magic and strength in each of us. The book is simple and repetitive and repetitive as the situations are demonstrated in the worlds of Tangled, Toy Story, and more.

The book as I mentioned is simple. The pattern is easy for a child to grasp and predict, especially after a few readings. It is one of those reads that I expect a child would start saying the resolution line as the page is turned. I would not read it at bedtime. While I love the message of internal strengths and magic, it does present a series of crisis moments that could create anxiety. And at bedtime, no parent really wants to set up an obstacle blocking sweet dreams.

This is a nice hardcover book with an attractive book cover. And it reminds me of when Dr. Suess’ books meant to inspire young adults were often gifted at high school graduations. I can see doing the same with this edition especially if they are a Disney family. Young adults will face challenges. Hosten, Vitale, and Lee inspire for those moments. But I think if you are not close to the graduate and don’t know their Disney Young Adult Status, I would go with cash. If they are not Disney film fans, the book may seem too brief and not connect.

Cash or prizes? I lean toward cash in most circumstances. Young people transitioning into the next stage really need a nest egg for computers, pens, and late-night pizzas. But The Magic is in You by Colin Hosten and Brooke Vitale illustrated by Grace Lee provides a delightful option for transitioning young people who are also Disney fans. It also is a book that can remind kids of the magic within themselves as they grow using Disney’s fanciful and beloved characters.

Maybe the question is really cash, prizes, or magic? Two out of three ain’t bad. Three out of three is better!


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Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Between Books – Hyperion Historical Alliance Annual 2023

Cover for 2023 Hyperion Historical Alliance Annual showing the contents and images of subjects in the collection like Woolie Reitherman in a military pilot's uniform and Pete Seanoa in Polynesian clothing.

New year, same review?

I feel like I restate the same thoughts whenever I read the latest Hyperion Historical Alliance annual.

Maybe it’s because I feel “excluded” and I don’t like that. I’d like to think I’m pretty serious when it comes to history.

The “2023 Hyperion Historical Alliance Annual” consists of five articles that span decades of Disney history from the early days of animation to the 1900’s in Disney parks. The five articles are:
  • “Oswald the Laemmle Rabbit” by Tom Klein

  • “Walt Disney and The Life of Hans Christian Anderson” by Didier Ghez

  • “Woolie Reitherman Needs to Fly” A Disney Artist Goes to War” by Lucas O. Seastrom

  • “1945-1946: Edgar Bergan and Disney’s Story Department” by Didier Ghez

  • “Direct from the Islands: The Polynesian Magic of Pete Seanoa” by Nathan Eick

The articles are all written with an academic slant. And they have extensive footnotes with bibliographies showing source material. They definitely as a group are attempting to show the seriousness of Disney history.

For me, the most engaging topics were Oswald and Woolie Reitherman. Klein’s article demonstrated that the creation of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was not fully in the mind of Walt Disney. In many ways, Oswald was a corporate creation, which reminded me of the modern studio and network system where executives, producers, and writers all have claim to pieces of the character. Disney’s additions were critical, providing Oswald with much of his character development and growth. But Klein makes it clearer that the Lucky Rabbit was a corporate rabbit not a Disney one. We might even call Oswald work-for-hire. The Reitherman article dives deep into the artist’s non-animation career as a military and civilian pilot. The article helps remind us of how the Greatest Generation was often more than one thing and career, which should inspire us! But it is also a history that includes World War II, transportation over The Hump into China, and the growth of commercial air travel.

The “2023 Hyperion Historical Alliance Annual” to me has an audience, Disney fans who want serious historical research. They want their passion to be validated as a serious academic pursuit. I also think these fans, like me, would love to support the Hyperion Historical Alliance in their mission. In fact, my proof is the purchase, reading, and review of now four Annuals. I just think that they need to grow the mission. I am someone who has a master’s degree in history. I’d like to think I am taking my history seriously. I am also not currently mining archives for serious historical additions to the knowledge base. But I would like to support those that are doing so. As someone who’s been a member of the Society of Baseball Research, who has a model I think can be used here, I don’t get why this isn’t being democratized. I’ve also been a member of the Society for Military History and American Historical Association, founded in 1884 and very serious, which both have options for non-working historians.

The “2023 Hyperion Historical Alliance Annual” is a collection of five historical articles that span the varying topics in Disney history. Most Disney fans, like I did, will likely find a topic of interest and comparisons to trends today in media. Again, I wish they would open membership up to a more scalable and likely-lasting membership model.

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Monday, May 6, 2024

Between Books - Why Wakanda Matters

Book cover for Why Wakanda Matters with the profile of a panther on a field of yellow

I am a huge comic book fan. One of the things I love about comics is our ability to learn lessons in multi color action stories. I get why a lot of people don’t like the rude and crude Deadpool. But if you read some of the best Deadpool comics(like Gerry Duggan and Joe Kelly) you find lessons that readers can learn about self-worth, friendship, grieving, self-care and so much more. Many of these great stories and their lessons have been translated onto the screen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Audiences worldwide learned that superheroes can help teach lessons through many of these movies, with one of the most impactful being Black Panther.

Why Wakanda Matters: What Black Panther Reveals About Psychology, Identity, and Communication edited by Dr. Sheena C. Howard is a collection of academic articles discussing the impact of Black Panther on audiences and the general population. A common theme in the book is the power of a movie starring and made by a cast and crew of people of color. The movie seeks to avoid and overcome stereotypes found in the media. By not falling into the expected movie tropes for people of color, it communicates messages to young people about the roles that they can take within society. Additionally, it helps to combat the impact of stereotypes found in media.

I won’t go into the essays in-depth as they are many varied in their messages and themes. The big messages that I see are first and foremost, representation matters. Ryan Coogler and crew when creating the world of Wakanda intentionally built a world that audiences saw as important models for what people of color could be, with the movie showing scientists, soldiers, and kings as just a few of the many options open for futures. This world-building moved beyond stereotypes and generalizations, which often are used in film when creating for broad audiences. Another theme is while all authors agree that the representation in the film is impactful, they may disagree with the messages that the movie projects. For example, some writers see T’Challa’s final choices as conforming to long-term imperialistic and disempowering frameworks. But Killmonger’s strategies challenge the status quo and can be at times applauded. As one reads, you can tell that the authors as a group are very conflicted by the image of Killmonger who they applaud and criticize for his over-the-top aggressive choices…much like the movie-going audience.

Why Wakanda Matters is an academic work, and likely not for every reader with its heavy focus on theory and research. But I think it is more accessible than many academic works because the examples are often ones we know from viewing Black Panther. With it being a work that delves into many cognitive theories, I can also see readers who do not agree with everything written. Let’s be honest, this book talks about a charged issue with race. But, I also do not believe that the authors fully agree with each other, and Howard does a great job of bringing multiple perspectives together.

Why Wakanda Matters: What Black Panther Reveals About Psychology, Identity, and Communication edited by Dr. Sheena C. Howard is an academic collection that makes you think about race, representation, and portrayals of people of color in media. It helps to teach the importance of our stories, even when super, in teaching us important social and cultural lessons about how we interact and treat each other. For comic book fans, I think it is a great collection for understanding the power of comic characters. And for media fans, it demonstrates the power of story. I think it is definitely worth the read for Marvel…and DC…fans.


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Monday, April 29, 2024

Between Books - Disney Parks Presents Jungle Cruise

Book cover for Disney Parks Presents the Jungle Cruise featuring a smiling Skipper John leadng his crew and boat down a river with a hippo, snake, and tiger.

I looked over at the Between Wife and said, “this is about to be a world of screaming and crying!”

We were standing in the foyer for The Haunted Mansion. Many of the kids around us were nervous and bargaining to escape! The parents were reassuring their children because they were prepared. When the Ghost Host declared that one way of leaving was “his way” none of the kids lost it…they were ready! We truly cannot underestimate the power of books or YouTube videos in preparing our next generation of Disney fans. And I want those kids to make sure that when I have to be rolled down the dock, the Jungle Cruise will be there for me in my later years!

Disney Parks Present Jungle Cruise
with narration by John Lasseter, illustrations by Edrwin Madrid, and words by Walt Disney Imagineering and the Jungle Cruise Skippers is a literary walk through of the Jungle Cruise attraction. The book is simple, Skipper John, as in Skipper John Lasseter, takes his crew through the show scenes of the Jungle Cruise, before the 2021 refurbishment and Alberta Falls. All the important scenes are depicted in Madrid’s fun and vibrant pictures. The narration from Skipper John clearly shows highs and lows in tone which I think would make reading aloud fun. I am sure I can hear on the accompanying CD, if I choose to find a way to listen.

This book is likely not the best way to prep a young skipper for the attraction. Now, I was going to say part of that is because the attraction was revised a few years after this was published. The but is we can see in the credits that Kevin Lively was involved, as he was the attraction reset. And the narration is universal as I can see the puns being used today in most cases. The chunks revised out were not used on these pages. And it’s not for the art, which while not exactly what you would see on the Cruise, is strong illustrated homages to it.

No, the reason is that like many of these Disney Parks Presents books, it is out of print and $30 plus for purchase. I just can’t justify that when the Little Golden Book edition is currently available at a much lower price point. I believe part of the reason this one is out of print is due to John Lasseter’s participation. He truly did enjoy his days as Chief Creative Officer and loved reliving his days as a Skipper. But now, like C.W. Wood, Lasseter is someone not spoken of in official Disney channels. That leaves this book as really one of the last major Disney publicity pushes of his time with the company. And of the four books in this series on Amazon…it’s the one that fails to display the cover image and is a little hard to find in searches (just a little hard).

Disney Parks Present Jungle Cruise
with narration by John Lasseter, illustrations by Edrwin Madrid, and words by Walt Disney Imagineering and the Jungle Cruise Skippers is a book that as a Disney book fan and Jungle Cruise fan I am thrilled to have in my collection. It just isn’t the most cost-effective book for getting young fans ready for the BACK SIDE OF WATERRRRRR!

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Monday, April 22, 2024

Between Books - Star Wars: The High Republic Defy the Storm

Book cover for Star Wars The High Repbulic Defy the Storm filled with numerous characthers surrounded by gas masked wearing Nihil.

The High Republic publicity machine continues!

Star Wars: The High Republic Defy the Storm by Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland continues the story of the Republic’s attempt to free citizens from behind the Nihil Stormwall. This installment focuses on a handful of characters, which we have seen in other installments, but not the most recent book in the series. A group including a Jedi, a young scientific savant, a crass businessman, and a law enforcer find a way to sneak behind the Stormwall and enter Nihil space. Jedi Knight Vernestra Rwoh returns from a year of self-exile to save her former Padawan from the Nihil. Avano Starros attempts to overcome her mother’s betrayal and misuse of her technological innovations to destroy the Stromwall, even if she has to become a killer. Xylan Graf seeks a good haircut, freedom for his dog, and expanding his self-interests. And Jordanna Sparkburn hopes to save those she left behind the wall. The four unlikely allies go on an adventure to learn more about the Stormwall, the secrets of the Nihil’s greatest weapon against the Jedi, and themselves.

Yoda joins us for around 2 pages of this addition to the story.

I did not hate Defy the Storm. In fact, I found myself having a good time. While this is not my favorite Star Wars book, Gratton and Ireland give us mostly a self-contained adventure. We can focus mostly on just these four, their relationships, and their struggles. I think the small cast is in fact a positive as it allows character development. We find ourselves with an adventure with stakes, all but Vern who will be live-action soon, can be killed, which also gives us character development moments. Mentally the majority of main-cast are humanoids and the Nihil can give us mental images of anything we want since they are meant to be chaotic. The story by itself worked for me, but it also led me to earn for a new classic Star Wars cast story. 

I am not a fan of the High Republic. But I like what Tessa Gratton and Justina Ireland give us in Star Wars: The High Republic Defy the Storm. The authors give us an adventure tale with character development. While I want more Yoda and connection to what happened in the last story I do think and hope that this series is heading to another major climax like we found in the fall of Starlight Beacon. 


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Monday, April 15, 2024

Between Books - True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee

Book cover for True Believer showing a profile of an older Stan Lee

I think it’s impossible for a biographer to not develop a bias. As you spend enough time with a figure, the time really needed to chronicle a life, you either come to put them on a pedestal or despise the thought of them. I think that Abraham Riesman came to despise Stan Lee while detailing the Marvel legend’s life. It could have been due to choosing a side in the Marvel creator wars, everyone needs to side with either Stan or Jack right? Or maybe the drama and messiness in the final decades of Lee’s life was too much. But it is clear in with commentary often found in the text, Riesman has little to no admiration for Lee.

True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee by Abraham Riesman is an extremely depressing tale. The biography provides the major steps of the Marvel legend’s life from birth to death to legacy. The story, without summarizing every milestone, is one of creative frustration, professional duplicity, familial strife, and business criminal charge. Lee is portrayed as a man who was an excellent marketer with questionable creative skills. As a man who disliked confrontation, he failed to always share the full story and allowed myths to build up around himself. This trend also allowed unscrupulous people, including family, to surround him and take illegal actions often in his name through Stan Lee Media and POW!, which were both accused of several criminal financial offenses in Lee’s name. Finally, in his final years, Lee was a victim of elder abuse by business partners and his daughter who all saw him as a financial cash cow.

Let me start with Riesman’s writing. It is riveting, engaged, and brings a reader into the sad story. But Reisman also clearly as an anti-Stan bias. This leads to commentary within the text that takes the opportunity to tear down the Marvel editor even when it’s unneeded. There is definitely a view that says Stan Lee was all bad while others, like Jack Kirby, were all right. And while Kirby may have some of the higher road in this story, I think we cannot automatically argue that Lee brought little to Marvel’s greatest creations. I think the clear bias is what leads me at times to question all of the story as fact. For example, in Lee’s senior years, it comes off as Riesman wants Lee to be involved in the illegality done in Lee’s name versus what he claimed which was ignorance. It’s not impossible to believe that Lee has some level of confusion and deniability to these acts due to his age, financial pressures, and series of bad choices of those he put around himself. For me, I can see the Lee was bad story but I can also see the Lee was a senior citizen who made bad choices about those he trusted. Lee the marketer was a manipulator, and I can see Lee being manipulated.

I will also admit I have a bias too. I am generally pro-Lee thanks to early exposure to him in media like Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends. I enjoyed his public persona. And I have come to believe that Lee and Kirby were better together than apart. This left me feeling combative at times to the author and definitely made me feel queasy.

Here is for me the real value of Riesman’s book. Stan Lee’s life was not as marvelous as we may want to believe. He was creatively frustrated. He produced less than he wanted to and never felt creatively accepted. While he was in a marriage full of love, it also created financial strains that would always put pressure upon him. Even more sad, his relationship with his own daughter was broken beyond repair. And while in his final years we saw the public smiling Stan at premieres and in videos, he was surrounded by people who really only wished to use his name for their own purposes. It is a life less excelsior than any of us would wish for another human.

True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee by Abraham Riesman is not a happy book. Readers should be warned. It is well-written and interesting but is also clearly anti-Stan. The picture that the reader walks away from is sad, will make you question your heroes and mad about how we can treat each other. In the end, Stan Lee’s life was as real as those he attempted to create in the pages of his comic books. 


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Monday, April 8, 2024

Between Books - Disney Parks Presents Pirates of the Caribbean

Book cover to Disney Parks Presents Pirates of the Caribbean with cute pirates on a boat approaching a fort.

I like fun…you like fun. And pirates like to have fun! Shouldn’t kids have fun too?

Disney Parks Presents Pirates of the Caribbean with music by George Bruns, lyrics by Xavier Atencia, and illustrations by Mike Well walk young readers through the classic attraction. The images are homages to the Disneyland Park version, which made me miss it as it’s been years since I have ridden it. Wells’ images are paired with lyrics and lines from the slow-moving boat ride and are generally fun-natured. Overall, it’s a colorful fun romp through the ride.

Wells’ images highlight this book. They are fun and light-hearted. They also do a great job providing a tribute to the attraction. However, I do need to say I think Wells gave Carlos a glow-up! The mayor hasn’t looked so young with flowing hair for years. Also, pirates are stealing actual treasure from the housewives and not food!

I am outspoken! I prefer kids' attraction books that use the actual lines and lyrics. So no complaints here. Yes, it would be tough to create a kid's book that uses all the lines from the cocktail party that is Pirates! The ones here have been carefully chosen and do a great job preparing kids for what’s to come or what they remember from the classic.

I think the most difficult piece at the moment is this book, which provides a tribute to a past version of the attraction is out of print.  I personally could not recommend spending $40 plus on the secondary market to get a copy for a kid! 

Disney Parks Presents Pirates of the Caribbean is fun. And despite the fact I don’t know if I can even play the accompanying CD anywhere but in my car, reading through the book led to me singing the theme out loud! And that is nothing but winning. 


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Monday, April 1, 2024

Between Books - 3D Disneyland: Like You've Never Seen It Before

Book cover for 3D Disneyland  with the TWA Moonliner rocket in 1950's era Tomorrowland


Do kids use Viewfinder's anymore?  For me, growing up in the Midwest they were one of the few ways I could experience faraway places, like Disneyland!  Maybe I could immerse myself in animals long gone, like dinosaurs!  I loved my Viewfinder, and as an adult I recaptured a little of that magic recently.

3D Disneyland" Like You've Never Seen It Before by David A. Bossert shares the stereoscopic, 3D photography, of Disney animator Ted Kierscey.  The photos in Kierscey's personal collection cover two distinct time periods, 1955 to 1958 and 1980.  Additionally, there are some additional photos from Patrick Swinnea that cover more recent years.  The pages follow a simple pattern.  On the left side, the page is largely intentionally left white with a caption taking a small bit of space towards the bottom left of the page.  The right side is 3D photo centered and taking the majority of the page.  The photos, all of Disneyland, flow geographically from Main Street USA to Tomorrowland, with different eras mixed in with each other.  The book is all about the photos and displaying them for easy reading with the enclosed 3D glasses. 

Let's jump back to childhood.  About once a year, one of the local TV stations would have a older monster 3D movie promotion.  They would hand out 3D glasses through gas stations and spread the joy of 3D.  It may have been the poor definition of my TV, but it never worked.  So I was a little worried these fuzzy pics, pre-glasses, would fail for me.  This fear was not false.  The photos work great!  Yes, I had to ensure enough and proper lightening to get my best experience, but the glasses worked wonderfully.  The older photos may not have been as immersive as the newer ones.  But there are quite a few that I felt drew me in and took me to a place, just like the old Viewfinder.

3D Disneyland" Like You've Never Seen It Before by David A. Bossert showcases the stereoscopic photograph collection of Ted Kierscey.  It is a delight, and took me to a place that I love often in eras that I beyond my ability to travel in time in visit.  The read is all about images, and can be quick and breezy.  But I recommend a slow read, in the morning sun, with coffee so you may enjoy every moment and image!


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Monday, March 25, 2024

Oswald Opines - Star Wars: The Acolyte First Trailer


Post for Star Wars: the Acolyte showing a red lightsaber on a marble backround and the wors "In an Age of LIght A Darkness Rises"

Everyone gets an opinion right, and I find myself with mixed thoughts about Star Wars: The Acolyte.  While I don't want to be negative, I do feel a mix of emotions that makes we worry that this series against other Star Wars' offerings.



The good stuff!

  • We see red and blue/green lightsabers:  The trailer makes it clear that we are going to get some Jedi/Sith fighting action.  I really think visually that for non-super fans this is really appealing.  Lightsaber battles to me are an iconic image from my childhood, and I think that those who have not read 85 comics and watched 63 cartoons about the High Republic will consider this series despite not walking in with the backstory of Starlight Beacon.  
  • We see a respected action star:  I wasn't fully aware of Carrie-Ann Moss and her casting in the series.  I think this is a win.  Non-Star Wars fans will recognize her and have I think positive feelings about her and see Moss as a trusted action star.  She brings a level of extra validity to this series for me.  So a second win for this series is going to be action packed!
  • It's visual:  I think visuals are the best way to tell a Star Wars tale.  It really needs images to show off all the various species, backgrounds, ships, and whatever lightsaber variant is going to be unleashed.  And the trailer does show a Jedi who will have a very cool variant.   
  • Yoda!:  While we don't see him in the trailer, the books have established that Yoda is a respected Jedi Master during this timeframe!
  • I like Star Wars!:  Seriously, I want and like good new Star Wars. Who is that grown adult who watches Star Wars: The Bad Batch every week?  This guy!


The questionable thoughts!

  • Who cares about the High Republic?:  I know that Disney and LucasFilm have unleashed a massive publishing program, but I don't personally feel it has worked well.  I know that as a fan I've at times been interested in earlier Jedi and Sith, but maybe we've been told too much now.  The books have just not worked to sell this period.  I worry that despite this show being years after the books, that non-readers will feel intimidated since they are not aware of backstory that may not be needed.
  • Who's that?:  One of the Jedi featured in the trailer is Vernestra Rwoh.  This Jedi was introduced in books, books I've read.  But I failed to catch this in trailer glimpses.  And while I think Rwoh is interesting in the books, and maybe I can be intrigued what happened in the decades between books and live-action...I just didn't catch her presence or her very cool lightsaber!
  • Do I need to watch that?:  When watching Star Wars: Ahsoka a friend pointed out references to Star Wars: The Young Jedi Adventures.  Now I've not watched this truly kid directed program.  With this being the other show that exists for the High Republic, will some feel like they need to watch an entire cartoon series, for kids, to find this show accessible?

I worry.  I am the only one in the Between House that watched Star Wars: Andor, which is a great show all the way around!  And while Star Wars: The Mandalorian is a must watch under this roof, I've heard some grumbles about how complex the story is getting.  I've also heard this thought stated out loud about the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the tapestry that is being woven there.  I'm pretty sure that nothing here will be needed for the future enjoyment of the Star Wars: The Mandalorian & Grogu saga, which is likely where many will put their Star Wars enjoyment at the moment. 

So, here's my newest crazy theory taught to me by James Bond!  I think that the Daniel Craig Bond movies are fine.  But the problem is to fully enjoy the last one, you need to know everything that came before from the first moment he joined the screen.  That's not James Bond.  Bond adventures work best when we get a brief moment of adventure to reintroduce Bond, we get a world-threatening villain, Bond gets his toys, Bond meets a girl, Bond gets captured, and Bond saves the world.  And then the next time we meet, none of that matters!  My hope for Star Wars: The Acolyte is a Bond story.  I want something that is action packed and maybe unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, not all connected to the rest of the galaxy far far away! 

I'm not sure that Deadpool will be able to bail Disney out of audience loss if non-super fans are not willing to enjoy a regular Star Wars diet along with me!