Pop Culture Roundup: Playmobil Mini Cooper, Batman's Mystery Casebook, best kid and adult graphic novels, and more!

Check out this cool 60s-style Mini Cooper from Playmobil.

ITEM! Comics creators Sholly Fisch and Christopher Uminga are teaming up for the kid-focused graphic novel "Batman's Mystery Casebook."

ITEM! The American Library Association has announced its best adult and best kids graphic novels of 2021 lists.

ITEM! Guitarists Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder are making their first album together since they were in the great band Rising Sons 57 years ago.

Vintage comic ad: A secret message from the Captain Marvel Club!


Hot Trax '72: Black Sabbath, Bee Gees, Bread and more!

New records entering the charts 50 years ago today.

 The Bee Gees - My World

Bread - Everything I Own

Donnie Elbert - I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)

The Raiders - Country Wine

Carole King - Sweet Seasons

Black Sabbath - Iron Man

Elvis Presley - Until it's Time for You to Go

Cher - The Way of Love

Lynn Anderson - Cry

Frank Mills - Love Me, Love Me Love

Melanie - Ring the Living Bell

J.J. Cale - Crazy Mama

Michel Legrand - Brian's Song

Goose Creek Symphony - (Oh Lord, Won't You Buy Me a) Mercedes Benz

Tammy Wynette - Bedtime Story

Bobby Vinton - Every Day of My Life

Shirley Bassey - Diamonds Are Forever

Sir Suggs! See Queen Elizabeth knight the lead singer of Madness

Pop Diary: Reviews of "Asterix and the Griffin," "Hacks" and "Save Yourselves"

What I've been reading, watching.

Asterix and the Griffin
. As an Asterix fan since childhood, I always get excited about a new adventure featuring my favorite super-potioned Gauls. And new adventures is what we've been seeing pretty much annually since a new team was named to carry on the masterful, classic work of Goscinny and Uderzo. 

Those are big shoes, but new writer Jean-Yves Ferri and artist Didier Conrad have now been at it since 2011, and just turned in this, their fifth Asterix collaboration. Like the rest of the team's books, it's not bad, but it's also not classic Asterix (like I was saying, those shoes are pretty roomy...) 

Here, our heroes Asterix and his steadfast pal, Obelix, are enlisted by friends belonging to a village in the far eastern region of Barbaricum to retrieve one its members who's been kidnapped by a bunch of Romans because she supposedly knows the location of the mythical, and titular, griffin, which Caesar, being Caesar, wants to display in a circus. 

Never ones to turn down an opportunity to beat up some Romans and rescue a fair maiden, our heroes agree to the quest, which is complicated when the magic potion that provides Asterix with his superhuman strength can't be consumed because it's frozen. 

There are some funny moments - the frozen potion is a nice twist - and Conrad's art is spectacular, but overall, the laughs are lacking. Ferri likes sprinkling references to our current times into his Asterix tales and here it's a lot of joking references to Amazon and online life that aren't terribly up to date or that humorous, and will only become more dated as the years go by. That's sad when one considers that most of the original Asterix tales still hold up pretty well in terms of entertainment value. 

I hope - I guess eternally - that our Gauls' next adventure will be better.

NOTE: The translation of the book I read was published by Papercutz, which got the rights to publish Asterix in the U.S. a few years back, and I was troubled to see that they've changed the name of Asterix and Obelix's druid friend Getafix to Panoramix, as he's called in the French versions. I assume this is to avoid making a drug reference, but that's stupid. 

is a pretty much perfect limited series. In 10 episodes we learn to love two prickly people - Jean Smart as a veteran standup comic whose career is in stagnation and Hannah Einbinder is the smart, snarky young writer brought in to freshen up her act, and we're left with a perfect ending that leaves us wanting more. 

Smart's Deborah Vance isn't thrilled about having this whippersnapper thrust into her life, and resents the idea that the younger woman somehow knows funny more than she does, given her long and successful career, and Einbinder's Ava isn't crazy about having to spend time with an unhip has-been. From sparks come fire and, eventually, warmth. 

Witnessing first grudging appreciation and, ultimately, friendship develop between these two is hilarious, occasionally cringey, sometimes sad, and always engaging. 

Watching Smart's performance I kept thinking how remarkably talented, and incredibly overlooked, she is. This is a performer who really should've been making features over the past 30-plus years, not confined to TV. But TV these days is pretty great, and here she's found a part of the ages. Einbinder is one to watch, too. The daughter of SNL vet Laraine Newman, she's got great comic timing, but also real depth. 

Save Yourselves
is one of the most consistently funny comedy films I've seen in a while. Su (Sunita Mani) and Jack (John Reynolds) are hip what-we-used-to-call Yuppies who realize that phone addiction is killing their relationship and, possibly, their very souls. 

Sitting on the couch at home, they scroll mindlessly rather than communicating. When they do make eye contact it's only until the next notification dings. 

Eager to set things right, they head off to a friend's cabin in the woods with plans to completely tune out. Trouble is, that's when the aliens choose to attack. It takes them a bit to realize this, but they soon discover the entire world - including their cabin - has been invaded by surprisingly formed extraterrestrials. 

There's nothing like a crisis to bring people together, and this one does so delightfully thanks to a sharp script, originally executed plot and two extremely likable lead characters.



New Music Out Today: 1979 post-punk, Lucinda Williams, PJ Harvey, Ornette Coleman, Yoko Ono!

Click the links to order from Amazon.

Pop Culture Roundup: Boba book; Doctor Who novels; Batman calazones!

Have you spotted any Easter eggs in "The Book of Boba Fett"?

ITEM! A TV adaptation of Stephen King's "Later" is on the way.

ITEM! Check out some old radio broadcast equipment.

ITEM! A new batch of "Doctor Who" novelizations are coming this summer.

ITEM! Try-out a Batman calazone.



Pop Pic: Monroe and Montand


At the Movies '72: Robert Redford, George Segal and Paul Sand in "The Hot Rock"

In theaters 50 years ago this week.

See the first teaser for ""Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio"


Academy Award-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro reimagines the classic Italian tale of PINOCCHIO in a stop-motion musical adventure. Follow the mischievous adventures of Pinocchio in his pursuit of a place in the world.

Directed by Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson, the film features an all-star voice cast with Ewan McGregor as Cricket, David Bradley as Geppetto, and introducing Gregory Mann as Pinocchio. Other cast includes Finn Wolfhard, Cate Blanchett, John Turturro, Ron Perlman, Tim Blake Nelson, Burn Gorman, with Christoph Waltz and Tilda Swinton.


Watch the trailer of "Murderville," new series with Will Arnett coming to Netflix



Meet Senior Detective Terry Seattle (Will Arnett), Homicide Division. For Terry, every day means a new murder case and a new celebrity guest star as his partner. But here's the catch: each episode's guest star isn't being given the script. They have no idea what's about to happen to them. 
Together, the guest star and Terry Seattle will have to improvise their way through the case... but it will be up to each celebrity guest alone to name the killer. Join them as they punch a one-way ticket to Murderville. 
The six-episode procedural crime comedy premieres globally on Netflix on February 3. Based off the BAFTA award winning BBC3 series Murder in Successville by Tiger Aspect Productions and Shiny Button Productions.

See a preview for the new "Midwich Cuckoos" adaptation

Watch the original performance of The Muppets' "Mah-Na, Mah-Na"

New Comics Collected Editions: Daredevil Epic Collection - Going Out West

Out this week. Click the link to order from Amazon.

Daredevil and the Black Widow ditch New York City and are going out West get some peace, love and appreciation. No, scratch that: It’s new challenges and classic villains alike—Electro, Killgrave the Purple Man and Mr. Fear, just to new a few. All courtesy of Gerry Conway and the unmatched art team of Gene Colan and Tom Palmer! Then, Steve Gerber introduces adversaries weirder than anything on Haight-Ashbury. The Dark Messiah and Angar the Screamer lead the charge until Stilt-Man comes to strut his way across the Golden Gate. Topped off with a crossover adventure co-starring the Avengers and X-Men, a Spidey team-up and a fight with Kraven the Hunter turns decidedly cosmic. 
    COLLECTING: Daredevil (1964) 87-107, Avengers (1963) 111