If comic book flicks have taught us anything, it's that sequels can be a hit or miss proposition. Sure, Superman II, Spider-Man 2, and The Dark Knight were cool as hell, but they were in the minority when compared to such sorry second acts as Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and Blade 2.
So when word was announced that the kooky cats of AZ Cacophony were staging a second annual Epic Superhero Battle this weekend, we had somewhat mixed emotions. Will it be as awesome as last year's encounter (which saw dozens of wanna-be Wonder Women and pseudo Supermen engaged in a Nerf gun/waterballoon fight outside of Fashion Square Mall)?
We can only hope, since the madcap melee got plenty of amusing and confusing looks from well-to-do onlookers and was truly a blast to watch.
One thing that this year's battle has going for it is the fact that it coincides with this weekend's premiere of Kick-Ass, the Hollywood extravaganza featuring noted comic geek Nicolas Cage. In fact, participants in the ESHB will be watching the cinematic version of pseudo superheroes after they get done pretending to be superheroes themselves.
How very meta.
Hit the jump for all the important details on how to participate in the ESHB, as well as the other low-cost/no-cost events taking place this weekend.
Desert Trash Fest at Big Fish Pub (Friday):
Speaking of superheroes, we're pretty sure Marco Polo qualifies as being one. The Latino rockabilly musician is larger than life, he's often dressed up in fancy duds, and he definitely has special powers, in this case the ungodly ability to pluck an upright bass guitar. See this übermensch in action during the annual Desert Trash Fest, which will feature music from Polo's Curse of the Pink Hearse, as well as such Mexican punk bands as Los 13 Muertos and 4ta Conkista. Valley rockers Creepsville 666 and The Ugly Americans share the bill. 7 p.m., $8. (1954 East University Drive Tempe, 480-449-3474)
Dead Hot Workshop at 910 Live (Friday):
One of the Valley's most renowned rock bands -- veterans of the venerated mid-90s jangle-pop scene that produced the Gin Blossoms -- are holding their first-ever gig at Tempe's 910 Live. For those of you who's memory of the local music scene doesn't go past 2004, here's a bit of history: 910 Live served as the old Boston's way back in the day, an infamous rock club with a long history of hosting Valley bands, including Dead Hot Workshop. Be sure to stop by the joint this weekend if you'd like to witness history coming full circle. 8 p.m., $5. (910 North McClintock Drive, Tempe, 480-966-0707)
Johnny Cupcakes Suitcase Tour at Red Hot Robot (Friday):
"Johnny Earle, a.k.a. - Johnny Cupcakes, is living proof that you don't need money, power, or amazing products to be a successful entrepreneur. A few years ago, Johnny was hawking t-shirts with cupcakes printed on them out of his beat-up '80s Toyota. Now, he has three boutiques, a Young Entrepreneur award from BusinessWeek, and a cult following. Lucky bastard. Johnny is now successful enough to be sipping margaritas on a beach surrounded by busty blondes. However, he's going back to peddling tees out of his car for the nostalgic Johnny Cupcakes Suitcase Tour. Meet Johnny, peep six new shirt designs, and get tips on how to turn half-baked ideas into marketing gold." 8 p.m., free. (14 West Camelback Road, 602-264-8560) -- Wynter Holden
Arizona Rattlers vs. Chicago Rush at US Airways Center (Friday):
Pop quiz, hot shot: What's the only football team in the Valley to win a national championship? Hint, it's neither the Cardinals nor the Sun Devils for that matter (both teams got achingly close to grabbing their respective brass rings but ultimately came up short). Here's the answer: it's Arizona Rattlers, which took home the Arena Football League title in 1994 and 1997. After taking last season off due to the bankruptcy of the AFL, the Rattlers are returning to action this summer. And they've got a massive deal to get local sports fans to turn out for their season opener this weekend: Tickets are completely free and are available at various locations throughout the metro area. Visit www.azrattlers.com to find out where to go. 7:30 p.m. (201 East Jefferson Street)
AZ Bike Week in Cave Creek (Friday-Sunday):
Word to the wise: Be sure to watch your mirrors while driving around town this weekend. How come? Because there's gonna be more than a few motorcyclists riding their steel steeds on the highways and byways of the Valley. No, our town hasn't been invaded by the Hell's Angels (that we know of), it's just that the annual celebration of Arizona Bike Week is going on. Hundreds of hawg lovers and their babes will be heading up to Cave Creek -- pretty much ground zero for bikers -- for a number of events, including all-day blowouts at the Hideaway Grill (6746 East Cave Creek Road) and the Buffalo Chip (6811 East Cave Creek Road). These Harley hootenannies include numerous drink specials, giveaways, prizes, games, vendors, and other fun. 10 a.m.
Epic Superhero Battle in Downtown Tempe (Saturday):
This year's battle will be taking place somewhere along Mill Avenue, but while no exact location hasn't been announced as of yet, participants will be meeting at the Tavern on Mill (404 South Mill Avenue) at noon for pre-fight drinks. They'll then proceed to the battle site at 2 p.m., and (after the dust has settled) to a nearby movie theater to watch Kick-Ass. Check out AZ Cacophony's web page for more info.
The PBR Spring Situation at Yucca Tap Room (Saturday):
"One of the major problems facing the organizers of Valley music festivals is the weather. Residents are used to the heat, but most bands that are familiar with Arizona summers have little interest in playing an outdoor music festival at 2 on a sweltering June afternoon. Not that you can really hold a grudge against them for this. Fortunately, Pabst Blue Ribbon, the unofficial beer of hipsters everywhere, has found a way around the heat: have the event in April. The PBR Spring Situation will be a Jersey Shore boardwalk-style celebration with prizes, PBR beer specials, games, and good music. Headlining the all-day music festival will be Memphis alt-country rockers Lucero. Also on the bill will be local acts Ladylike, Flathead, Gospel Claws, Small Leaks Sink Ships, Captain Squeegee, and The Minibosses. The event is free, but organizers will be asking for donations in order to support The Arc of Tempe, a nonprofit organization that assists individuals with developmental disabilities." 3 p.m., free. (29 West Southern Avenue, Tempe, 480-967-4777) -- Mike Escoto
ASU Art Museum Short Film & Video Festival (Saturday):
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"Except for the prices, the experience of movie-going hasn't changed much. It's the same cold theater, sticky floors, and hours of our lives we'll never get back (thank you, Battlefield Earth). Where's the nighttime sky? The terse tales? The free? Enter the ASU Art Museum Short Film and Video Festival. This outdoor, one-night-only free ride features 21 works from more than 490 entries submitted from around the world. Two local artists made the cut with Send Greener Grass Uphill, a downhill skateboarding saga, and Phoenix: City of the Future, which spotlights one man's struggle to coax creatives to live in Phoenix. Other films include Bill Plympton's Horn Dog, the steampunk stop-motion musical McDonough, and a film challenging the meaning of masculinity through the sport of cockfighting, aptly dubbed Cocker." 8 p.m., free. (51 East Tenth Street, Tempe, 8 p.m.) -- Laura Hahnefeld
Momma's Organic Market at Park West (Saturday)
In 2008, sisters-in-law Christa Esquibel and Emy Porter saw the need for "fresh and local" west of I-17, so they took a good idea and grew it. What started as hocking eggs in a front yard has become the monthly Momma's Organic Market, featuring 60 to 100 vendors such as Pinnacle Gardens, Crooked Sky Farms, the Barn Goddess, One Step Beyond catering, Molly's Tamales, and more handmade goods than you can shake a dreamcatcher at. Momma says to hang around all day for story time, a bounce house, face painting, live music, and the Remington Deaf Ranch petting zoo. 9 a.m., free. (9744 W. Northern Ave., Peoria) -- Tricia Parker
Bike2BBQ at Papago Park (Sunday):
"The other day, we overheard some bitter chump say that Phoenix is a murderous shit hole. Um, you're flat out wrong, dude, because it's flippin' gorgeous out right now. Plus, there's a grip of outdoorsy things to do this time of year, such as Bike2BBQ. Part of Valley Bike Month, this participatory shindig allows peeps to cycle over to Papago Park and partake in a bunch of neato things including bike polo, Earth Day-themed helmet decorating, and group bike rides. Booze and grub will be served, too." Noon, free (625 North Galvin Parkway) -- Steve Jansen