Tag Archives: Featured

Madonna :: Her Live Ambition (Part 1)

For three decades the unopposed Queen of Pop revolutionized the live stage show and toured around the world commanding record audiences with an unparalleled ease!

The benchmark of any pop-artist’s career is the live show! The ability to sell out a venue whether a house as epically regarded as Madison Square Garden or Los Angeles Staples Center is sure an easy enough swift kick to the ego, but once you have those fans in the house, you best be prepared to set a table! No other artist has evolved more dramatically and pushed the creative of the live pop-show than Madonna.

When she first hit the road in 1985 on her critically well-received and perfectly named premiere showcase, Madonna didn’t mince words and The Virgin Tour was not only about getting her music out to her fans, but it was also about introducing herself to the world as a force in entertainment. That initial concert tour broke records as it criss-crossed North American and Canada and played to sold out venues, including a record-breaking 3 nights in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall.

Madonna would solidify herself as one of the world’s biggest stars when she launched the Blond Ambition Tour in 1990.

Madonna had come a long way since her days hitting the pavement and securing appearances at downtown East Village venues including Max’s Kansas City and CBGBs.

Appropriately designed The Virgin Tour predominantly promoted her first two album releases and immediately set the pace for what Madonna had in store for her audience. She would continue to evolve and charge the expectations of her audience especially with each consecutive live stage appearance, and the next time Madonna brought her music to life, she took it globally and never looked back.

Who’s That Girl took Madonna to the global stage and marked her first world tour. Arbitrarily coordinated to promote the comedic film of the same name starring Madonna as well as its accompanying soundtrack, it incorporated tracks from her then-latest release True Blue, but no one would be prepared for what was to come next, as Madonna took herself off the live stage forum to focus on reassessing her priorities in life (her marriage to actor Sean Penn was ending) and recharged her creative energies.

With the release of her fourth full-length studio album Like A Prayer Madonna was poised to reintroduce herself as more than just a pop-act! The critically successful release positioned her (finally) as one of the music industries most innovative and unique artists. With a new blockbuster film set for a summer release, Madonna had secured a key role in Warren Beatty’s big-screen adaptation of the comic strip Dick Tracy, and a new single that would ignite a wildfire.

With so much swirling around her at the time, 1990 would prove one of the most pivotal years in her career, both creatively and personally. Her high-profile marriage to Penn was behind her and the artist dove herself emphatically into her work including her music and movie projects. Like A Prayer would prove one of the year’s biggest hits and give her audience a unique insight into Madonna’s world, although it was only a glimpse. To maximize her exposure Madonna would chart all new territory and mount a world tour unlike anything anyone had ever experienced.

Perfectly christened the Blond Ambition World Tour it would span the globe the summer of 1990 and redefine the live pop music concert! The tour was designed to engage both the artist and audience in an experience that was transportive. Madonna, an accomplished dancer, directed a nearly two-hour stage performance (along with long-time collaborator Vincent Paterson) with an all-male troupe of dancers, back-up singers Niki Haris and Donna DeLory and her full band. The tour would be artistically directed by Madonna’s brother Christopher Ciccone with costumes by fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier.

Mixing elements of Broadway and old Hollywood glamour, with high-fashion and state of the art stage and lighting execution, Madonna’s Blond Ambition World Tour established a new dictum for how to approach live concert tours, and imitators would follow, though none would match Madonna’s sensibilities and her taste for controversy. The themes explored within the two-hour long installation did not only serve to spotlight her growing catalog of hit songs, but it explored a narrative.

Not simply content to sing at the microphone any longer, Madonna was more interested in giving her fans a cathartic experience. She brought to life many of her already innovative videos, by building the sets of the dystopian future from the “Express Yourself” video inspired by the film Metropolis to taking it to the oceans and fashioning fishtails for her dancers turning them into mermen to evoke the “Cherish” video. Madonna has said that the tour was about her “growing” — “Once you get on this train, you can’t get off.”

The Blond Ambition Tour certainly suggested Madonna had grown-up as an artist and personality, and she was decidedly taking us all along for the ride. Evoking many religious themes and exploring the contradictions of life, faith, sex, endings and new beginnings, the show pushed Madonna’s agenda as a provocateur and feminist, mostly she intended to inspire, to give her audience reason to ask questions and come up with conclusions of their own.

It was a liberation that was told through the lyrics of Madonna’s hits “Like a Virgin”, “Papa Don’t Preach” and culminated with the fierceness of “Vogue”, but the entire time it was Madonna finally putting it all out and truly expressing herself.

This is “Part 1” in series discussing the contributions and innovations made to the live concert stage by Madonna. In the next feature the Queen of Pop’s ambition continues to grow and her follow-up to Blond Ambition goes further than anyone could have anticipated.

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In Collectibles :: Eaglemoss Collections USS ENTERPRISE “Oversized” Edition

The Star Trek universe gets a “super-size” with Eaglemoss Collections new line of ships that give you more Enterprise to love!

Eaglemoss Collections is adding to their already expansive and much celebrated line of high-end models with a new, limited edition variant of the legendary Starship Enterprise NCC-1701 from the Original Star Trek television series. This latest die-cast model for the Star Trek Starships Collection measures a stunning 11″ and is beautifully detailed, recapturing the look of the shooting model recently restored to her full glory and hanging in the Smithsonian.

Take a look at the video gallery and order your own!

iReview :: DC Comics Rebirth continues with TEEN TITANS #6 “The Rise of Aqualad”

The DC Comics “Rebirth” continues and Aqualad returns to TEEN TITANS and from the looks of it…just in time! The latest arc in this revamped title is shaking (or “sharking”) things up!

There were several components lost to readers when DC Comics decided to practically eradicate a good chunk of the DC Universe after the events of the publishing wide event “FlashPoint” which reestablished a new continuity on the Prime Earth (Earth-0) of the newly constituted multiverse. One of the greatest casualties lost in that reboot was the introduction of the “new” Aqualad who was introduced to readers during the “Brightest Day” arc, the aftermath of the Green Lantern’s “Darkest Night”.
The newly minted Aqualad (real name Jackson Hyde) has been reintroduced into the DC Universe in the just released Teen Titans #6 as part of the latest slow roll-out reform entitled “Rebirth” and will assume a very important place alongside the teen heroes. In the current arc “The Rise of Aqualad” Part One, Jackson is demonstrating the same metahuman abilities that fans have come to associate with the young hero — the tattoos on his arms light up and grant him the ability to control water.
While the Teen Titans reformed and under the leadership of Batman’s son Damian Wayne, the current Robin settle into their new headquarters in San Francisco (ironically their more grown-up counterparts in the Titans are moving into their digs on the opposite coast) something in the bay is attacking the local wildlife and has also taken a local newswoman prisoner! When the Titans proceed to investigate they learn that the culprit is the merciless King Shark!
Fortunately for them Jackson has just arrived, after leaving his home in the deserts of New Mexico and moving on from under the oppression of his mother who doesn’t support her son’s metahuman abilities or the fact that he’s also gay, but when Jackson shares his powers with his boyfriend Kenny — it is clear that Kenny doesn’t want to continue in this relationship — not if Jackson is going to go around flaunting his metahuman abilities.
Jackson can’t help but feel that he has a proper destiny and seeks out the Teen Titans, hoping they can answer some questions about his abilities, where they have come from and most importantly help him become a hero! Written by Benjamin Percy with pencils by Khoi Pham the introduction of Aqualad, the latest opening gay character taking the forefront in a major book for DC Comics, continues the imprint’s desire to create diverse characters that are more reflective of the real world.
The new Aqualad gained some major traction when he was aligned with the animated universe and proved a leader among the members of Young Justice. It was also revealed that he was the son of one of Aquaman’s greatest adversaries Black Manta. Whether or not the newly introduced Aqualad will also be revealed to share his predecessor’s lineage and be also related to Atlantean blood remains to be seen.

DC Comics “Rebirth” Gives us a SUPERMAN REBORN!

After more than a year of grieving, then (re)introducing the Man of Steel back into proper continuity SUPERMAN REBORN reestablishes the role of greatest hero as the mystery surrounding “Rebirth” continues!

When we lost Superman in the present evolution of the DC Comics universe, readers couldn’t have ever imagined that there was another Man of Steel waiting the wings to swoop in and save the day, unfortunately this version of Superman wasn’t ready to steep into the boots especially given he has a family — a wife and child — to protect. Nonetheless he couldn’t stay hidden, and before to long this Superman revealed himself to the members of the Justice League. Imagine having to explain to them including Batman and Wonder Woman that he was not “their Superman”.

So who is he? Well that’s part of the mystery surrounding the current company-wide reboot of the DC Comics line entitled “Rebirth” and as Superman returns to reclaim his proper place as the Earth’s Greatest Champion, the recent 4-issue arc Superman Reborn which ran its course in recent issue of Superman #18 and #19, and Action Comics #975 and #976 worked to answer some questions including who may be behind all the mischief that has been plaguing the Super-Family recently.

At the center of the entire drama is the son of Superman Superboy! First introduced during the final days of “The New 52” Superman, the child of Clark Kent and Lois Lane from an alternate timeline (specifically the one prior to the “FlashPoint” reboot) survived during the Convergence event, which claimed pieces of previous versions of DC Comics continuity and kept them inside of a living lab watched over by Brainiac and the living planet Telos. When the “Covergence” wrapped up Superman, Lois Lane and Jon (Superboy) escaped to the Prime-Earth (or Earth-0).

Once they arrived, they kept themselves hidden and avoided attracting attention, but were immediately wrapped up in the death throws of Superman’s dying counterpart. Upon the death of “The New 52” Superman energies were released that resulted in the emergence of a Superwoman (the adventures of Lana Lang are evolving in her own title out now). There was also an imposter Clark Kent floating around, but we’ve recently learned that this was the Fifth Dimension menace of Mr. Mxyzptlk who had also been held prisoner by the mysterious Mr. OZ.

Mxyzptlk kidnaps Jon and effectively erases him and all trace of Superman’s and Lois Lane’s life on earth while stealing Superboy and brining him into an “Infinite Planet” dimension. There he forces Superman and Lois to play his game to rescue Jon. There he reveals to Superman that he’s been split into two — including his “New 52” persona as the other side of the coin. During the ensuing challenge, Jon comes across two, distinct energy sources that prove to be the displaced energies of the recently deceased “New 52” Superman and Lois Lane.

Superboy convinces the pair of his sincerity, that he is indeed their son, and convinces the pair to realign themselves with a glowing set of blue energy that represent his parents. Once the energies all come together, the histories of Superman and Lois Lane begin to realign themselves into one, elements from both pasts and present, filling in the gaps. With Mxyzptlk effectively defeated, Superman and Lois Lane finally restored to their proper selves, along with their son Jon, the Superboy return to earth, unaware that they are being closely watched!

Although the place of the Man of Steel within the current world has been reordered and (somewhat) corrected, the mystery of “Rebirth” continues and will be further explored in an upcoming arc appearing in the pages of The Flash and Batman. Stay tuned!

Superman Reborn written by Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and Dan Jurgens with art by Patrick Gleason and Doug Mahnke is on sale now from DC Comics.

DC Comics: Rebirth Focuses on BATWOMAN

How a Silver Age character from the extended “Bat-Family” emerges in contemporary mythology as perhaps the most influentially powerful heroine of this generation! DC Comics’ BATWOMAN gets a “Rebirth”!

As the Caped Crusader enjoyed a peripheral amount of relevancy during the Silver Age of comics, that time between the 1950s and late 1960s when the Golden Age characters were mostly being revitalized due the advances of the Atomic Age, Batman and his ward, the Boy Wonder, Robin would find themselves often sharing their colorful exploits with a pair of female crime fighters setting trends of their own and taking down evil-doers.

Cast in an uncharacteristically bright golden suit with vamp red accents the original Batwoman and her sidekick, the original Bat-girl created a formidable force of their own, and helped tame the hallowed halls of Wayne Manor with their presence. According to Wikipedia the characters were created by writer Edmond Hamilton and artist Sheldon Moldoff and were introduced in Detective Comics #233 released in 1956.

When the company-wide reboot that took effect with the Crisis on Infinite Earths during the 80s, secondary supporting characters like Batwoman were folded into history, retroactively erased from history. Although their alter egos still existed, and the original Bat-Girl, Bette Kane, was reintegrated into the revamped continuity as the Teen Titan “Flamebird” post-Crisis the caped heroic escapades of the Batwoman were effectively hung out.

After the events of Infinite Crisis (2005) the proper sequel to the Crisis on Infinite Earths there were “52 Weeks” without heroes and Batwoman was revisited. Well-to-do Gotham City socialite Katherine “Kate” Kane is raised as a military brat, and when her mother and twin sister are murdered, it appears that her life begins to spiral out of control. She follows her father, Colonel Jacob Kane and pursues a career in the military, but is discharged when she reveals she is gay.

Interestingly when the Batwoman character was written into Silver Age mythology, it was as a potential love interest to Bruce Wayne, in an effort to divert attention from what had become popularly gossiped culturally that Batman was perhaps homosexual. The billionaire playboy sharing a home with a teenage ward and both men physically fit as they were…well, you can see where this is going. The introduction of Kate Kane was intended to change that perspective in readers.

Batwoman gets a “Rebirth”.

The Modern Era Kate Kane is alongside Midnighter perhaps the most high-profile LGBTQ character appearing in their own title and published by DC Comics. After the events of the recent New 52 reboot, Batwoman survived the FlashPoint aftermath and as the publication entered into its “Rebirth” arc Batwoman: Rebirth #1 has ensured that this heroine’s story continues to expand. Recently Kane was recruited by the Batman to train an army to protect Gotham City.

Batman has placed a lot of faith in Batwoman, and not only because unlike some of his other acolytes and sidekicks, Kane is actually related to the Dark Knight by blood. Bruce Wayne and Kate Kane are cousins, which makes her a unique accomplice in his fight to rid Gotham City of crime and corruption. Now under the helm of writers Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV with art by Steve Epting the Batwoman is rising no longer in the shadow of Batman!

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After the recent attack on Gotham City by the Monster Men, Kate is taking the fight on a global scale. On a mission set upon by Batman, Batwoman will use all of her skills and wits to prevent the sale of the lethal “Monster Venom” on the Black Market. If any unfriendly forces got their hands on this mixture, they could introduce a terrible menace — an army of uncontrollable monsters — on an enemy.

With her life — and loves — still sorting themselves out, one thing that Batwoman can be counted on is that she is a dependable soldier and ready to undertake any challenge! With the release of the new series Batwoman #1 has Kane globetrotting in exotic locations and guided in her fight by Julia Pennyworth code-named “Tuxedo One”. There adventures may have only (technically) just begun, but Batwoman will undoubtedly emerge as one of the most relevant reads of the “Rebirth”.

Significantly raising the profile of LGBTQ characters within the DC Comics universe is not a stunt the publishers are pursuing to enhance readership, but more importantly create substantive characters that resonate with readers and also allow for broader storytelling. With Batwoman leading the charge in her own title, she will most likely establish herself as the benchmark by which all other LGBTQ heroes and heroines are metered, but Bennett and Tynion are proving themselves in spades!

Batwoman: Rebirth and Batwoman #1 written by Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV with art by Steve Epting is on sale now from DC Comics.

Tomorrow NITE ON :: THE FLASH It Gets Musical!

SUPERGIRL and THE FLASH are about to get symphonic when this dynamic duo take on an enemy that gleefully has them all singing a new tune!

It was inevitable! When you have a cast as talented as the individuals appearing on The CW action series Supergirl and it’s companion show The Flash and starring two former members of the Glee you was only a matter of time before Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin would find themselves soft shoeing their way into primetime!

On this week’s episodes of the DC Comics based series (produced by Greg Berlanti) the Maid of Might and the Scarlet Speedster come face-to-face with an old friend turned new fiend, when their one-time Glee co-star Darren Criss steps onto the seen as the villain Music Meister — a middling musician who casts a spell on the dynamic duo rendering them…musical!

The Flash — “Duet” —  Pictured (L-R): Grant Gustin as Barry Allen and Melissa Benoist as Kara — Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW –© 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

Sure the episode is stunt, but no less a treat for fans who have loved all these actors during their time on the hit musical that aired on FOX. Also in the mix will be several melodically inclined players including Jesse L. Martin and Victor Garber both actors with extensive ties to Broadway. Carlos Valdes who plays the ever-dependable Cisco “Vibe” Ramon, is also a stage veteran.

So before we cast judgements let’s take a minute to sit back and relax and take in the fun. After all in a year that saw Hollywood re-connect with musicals, practically hailing La La Land the best movie of the year”, Benoist and Gustin don’t have to surprise their audience with their ivory pipes and slick footing — we know they’re talented!