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142

God of Comics: X-O Manowar #1

Books & Writing, Culture, God Of Comics, Reviews

March 22, 2017

X-O Manowar #1

We spent four years calling X-O Manowar the best of all comics. We then went into detail explaining why we said this, and you can read that explanation by clicking here. Everything we said still rings true and Valiant is about to take Aric of Dacia into a whole new storyline.

For those that don’t know, Aric of Dacia was a land-locked proto-Viking at war with Rome who mistook some aliens for Romans and attacked him. He got abducted, led a revolt, was chosen by their God, teleported back to earth more than a thousand years later, fought Italy until Italy surrendered, went back to free his people, and then brought his people home.

I’m brushing over the finer details for the sake of not repeating myself, but Aric saved the world, an alien civilization, and all sentient life in the cosmos. He learned and fought and began to desire only peace, and we learn that he found what he wanted at the beginning of this comic.

He’s given up the armor, settled on an alien world, and is tilling the land. All he wants is to tend his crops and live with his mate, an alien woman he’s met on this new and primitive world. He wants to be left alone, free from the war and violence that defined his every waking breath. Even the god-armor that gave him power lies dormant and Aric is finally at peace.

So, of course, some people are going to cross him and spoil everything.

Here’s the set-up: an alien army comes recruiting and decides to drag Aric to the front lines to be used as canon-fodder, but this is motherfucking Aric of Dacia, and he will win this battle so that he can go home, but the aliens leading this army won’t let him leave, won’t hold up their end, and are going to force him to fight. They have no idea who they’re dealing with or what they’ve awoken, because Aric of Dacia is not the sort of person you want to push around.

Matt Kindt is taking over writing duties from Robert Venditti, and if there’s anyone that can bear the weight of Venditti’s crown it’s got to be Kindt. He’s the force behind the utter brilliance that is divinity, also from Valiant, and if he brings the same sense of pathos and epic to this title that he brought to that one, then we’re in for one hell of a ride.

Tomas Giorello is handling the art, and you might know him from his work on various Star Wars and Conan the Barbarian comics, which might be the single greatest resume possible to work on X-O Manowar.

Seriously, get in now. If this run ends up being even a tenth as good as the original it will still be mind-blowingly excellent.

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154

God of Comics: WWE #3

Books & Writing, Culture, God Of Comics, Reviews

March 22, 2017

WWE #3 (Boom Studios)

Normally, I talk about the writers when I discuss comics. I love writing, am drawn to it with a certain degree of madness, and I’ve got some ideas for a comic I’ve been batting around for a while but I need an artist and it’s the artist here that I want to talk about: Dan Mora.

Dan Mora did the art for a Lovecraftian horror comic called Hexed, a spinoff from the incredible Fall of Cthulhu comic that was written by Michael Alan Nelson and also published by Boom. He also does the art for Klaus, a series that basically casts Santa Clause as Conan the Barbarian. It’s freaking brilliant and you should go and read all the things and take the time to study the gorgeous art.

Here’s the thing: that is Dan Mora’s entire body of work. He has done nothing else and this means that he is criminally under-recognized. The work he does is amazing and more people need to be aware of how amazing it is, so, kudos to you, Mr. Mora. You rock.

Case in point: the covers for this comic.

This isn’t to take away anything from the inside, either: Serg Acuña and Doug Garbank do a stellar job of capturing the insanity that is the world of professional wrestling and translate it to an entirely different medium, one that it has quite a lot in common with.

A lot of people liken professional wrestling to soap operas, but that’s not quite it. Professional wrestling is a pre-determined (not fake!) artform in which performers who are part-actor and part stunt-people pretend that they are in a wrestling show. It’s a live action comic that features larger-than-life good guys and bad guys in costume who engage in battle for a variety of complex reasons, but no fight can ever end in death and the show must go on.

Want an example of the insanity that is unique to wrestling? Recently, a swamp-dwelling cult leader had his cult infiltrated by a snake-obsessed sociopath. The sociopath ruined the cult to get to the source of the cult leader’s power, literally burning his house down to rob him of the powers granted him by the sister of Satan himself, only for the cult leader to go and baptized himself in her ashes. The two of them are one of the headlining battles at Wrestlemania this year.

And speaking of Wrestlemania, one of the big stories going into the marquee event – wrestling’s version of the SuperBowl – features Seth Rollins taking on Hunter Hearst Helmsley. You can learn more about the latter by clicking here, but Seth Rollins is something else again and this comic is about him.

Seth came in with a trio called the Shield, and they spent a year and a half dominating the whole roster before Seth betrayed his companions, selling out to his enemy to eventually become the WWE Champion. He’s an uber-talented performer who, because of his prior relationship with HHH, was treated badly by him. It was interesting, because Seth was a bad guy who was treated like a good guy by the bad guys in charge, and had good guy reactions while still being hated but appreciated by the crowd.

Did you get all that?

A little more than the grunting you thought wrestling was?

This comic goes into even more detail, giving background and expanding upon the events that led to the betrayal of the Shield, Seth’s rise to power and feud with his two blood brothers from that group, his difficult relationship with HHH, and the tragedy of a real-life injury that put him out of action for more than a year and stripped him of the heavyweight title, forcing him to come back and fight to regain the championship he never lost.

Dennis Hopeless – the writer on this – totally gets the pathos, pomp, and circumstance that goes into wrestling, and it makes this comic a hell of a lot of fun to read. Boom is onto something with this comic, and with Wrestlemania just around the corner, you might want to give this a look.

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145

God of Comics: The Unworthy Thor #5

Books & Writing, Culture, God Of Comics, Reviews

March 22, 2017

The Unworthy Thor #5 (Marvel Comics)

While Marvel continues to copy DC Comic’s plan of fail (controversy equals cash! Everything needs to be dark and gritty! Let’s reboot the universe! Captain America is a Nazi! Magento is a Nazi! Nick Spencer is a Nazi! Wait a minute…), some of their books have managed to avoid the terrible and quietly do incredible things. Few have managed to do the incredible as well or as long as Jason Aaron’s entire run on the mythic side of Marvel Comics.

Jason’s been working on a proper set of myths, building and expanding the visions set forth by luminaries like Walt Simonson and others. He’s turned a house into a mansion, and the one event Marvel let him plan (Original Sin) gave us Heven, a background for Angela, new Nick Fury, and the new Thor. It created new stories that made sense in the context of the world and added new facets to the heroes involved, as opposed to some other more recent events (Captain Marvel screwed over all her friends because she doesn’t like Phillip K. Dick!)

Part of the consequences of Original Sin led to Thor Odinson losing his hammer. Thor, now simply the Odinson, is no longer considered Worthy. We don’t know what caused this, but he went out and tried to fight without the hammer and lost his arm in the process. His arm has since been replaced, and after giving the new Thor his blessing, went off to look for a replacement Mjolnir.

So, funny story: remember the Ultimate Universe?  It was a mostly successful attempt to place the Marvel superheroes in a more realistic setting, modernizing and condensing some classic Marvel comics. The Ultimates, their Avengers analog, was basically the template for the Avengers movie. It was good times. The Ultimate line also has Jonathan Hickman at his very best, and as critical as I am of him, his Fantastic Four is amazing.

Anyway, their version of Thor was never considered unworthy, so that Mjolnir never had a curse put on it. Anyone with the strength to do so can pick that thing up and it looks super weird and awkward, but someone as strong as Odinson isn’t going to sweat those details. There is a hammer, he wants it, and he’s on the verge of getting it.

Jason Aaron simply gets the Odinson in a way no one else does. He’s been rocking at this for years, instilling all the mythic Marvel comics with pathos and humanity. They are some of the very best that Marvel has to offer on an epic scale, what with Doctor Strange and the Mighty Thor and the Unworthy Thor, and if you’re not reading this and want to see what sort of magic Marvel is capable of you should pick this up.

All those comics feature some of the best artists that Marvel can get their hands on, and the Unworthy Thor is no exception; Olivier Coipel is doing some amazing things with this book, so if you’re in this for the pretty you will not be disappointed. Check it out.

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147

God of Comics: Iron Fist #1

Books & Writing, Culture, God Of Comics, Reviews

March 22, 2017

Iron Fist #1 (Marvel Comics)

uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh.

So, the Netflix series happened. I’m about halfway through it not, and it’s… there, I guess? The better side of okay, maybe? There’s just a lot of stuff that they touch on that doesn’t seem to pay off with the main story: everything they’re doing with the Hand is great, but the main story is just kind of there. Nothing happens. There’s chances to talk about corporate greed in more than just a superficial way.

Daredevil was about legal and political corruption. Jessica Jones was about rape culture and PTSD. Luke Cage was about institutionalized racism and crime. Iron Fist is about… what, exactly? American Exceptionalism?

It’s frustrating. The show introduces the concept of heaven and time-displaced cities, hints at talking about corporate greed and the burgeoning class war, touches on colonialism and stereotypes, and even brushes in some talk about PTSD in a different way than Jessica Jones does. There’s mention of reality and expectation and then none on it is followed up upon.

Danny is joyless, laughless, exhibiting a sort of douche-bro cool that comes from a cishet white rich high schooler who went backpacking for the summer and just has to tell you about it. He doesn’t struggle. There’s no danger of him starving or dying of cold or being harrassed when he’s poor. And he comes across as a rude jackass Harry Stu, what with his moralizing without humor, lack of self-awareness, and walking into someone else’s dojo and trying to take over.

The whole thing is irritating.

And yet, I still have high hopes for this series.

Writer Ed Brisson has a proven track record and digging into the guts of a character’s themes, especially characters like this. Look at the work he did on Sheltered or the Violent, or his other big Marvel comic, Bullseye. He gets it, the view from the trenches, the utter destruction that an entire generation is enduring, and what are superheroes if not a means of fighting back against the corruption that is killing us all?

The set-up sounds like Ed has that very concept in mind: to start, K’un Lun is in ruins. Heaven is ruined. Because of this, the flow of chi – the life force of everything on the planet, the pure life energy that gives Danny his powers – is flickering away into nothing. Danny Rand is pushing himself to the breaking point trying to find some means of fighting the decay of his immortal power but the implications are terrifying.

If the life-force of the planet is fading, then so is the life of the planet. Danny might be the only person with the training to recognize the damage being done, but as his strength entropies he might not be in a position to do anything about it – not physically, anyway. Not through brute force. He might need to turn to a battlezone he’s unfamiliar with, the war that is politics, to save us all.

No idea if that’s where this is going, but it feels like a very Ed Brisson thing to do and I kinda wanna see that story. Social martial arts? If someone doesn’t write that I’m going to. Mike Perkins is handling art, and you might remember him from the awesome Ed Brubaker run on Captain America that Marvel and Nick Spencer betrayed when they turned Captain America in a Nazi.

Anyways, this sounds like a lot of fun. Check it out.

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122

God of Comics: Bloodshot Reborn #1

Books & Writing, Culture, God Of Comics, Reviews

March 22, 2017

Bloodshot: Reborn #0 (Valiant Entertainment)

Quietly, subtlely, Jeff Lemire has been writing an opus to the different flavors action stories come in. Taken as a whole, Bloodshot has been a masterwork – the sort of nuanced and detailed storytelling that you wouldn’t expect from something that started as a pure action story, but both the comic and the character the comic is about have evolved over the past four or five years through the application of consequence, a thing that Valiant Comics excels at.

The story began with a super soldier named Ray being deployed against enemies of the United States. Ray was an ordinary looking person who, when activated, turned into a snow white-skinned ghoul with solid red eyes and a red circle on his chest. He was super strong and fast, able to regenerate from all kinds of damage, and could hack into and take-over any machines in his range.

He was also part of a conspiracy, his family and memories a lie concocted to keep him loyal. The powers behind the politicians of the world – the bankers and corporations that profit off of human suffering – were worried about a man named Toyo Harada. Harada combines the best parts of Professor X and Magneto, only he started a corporation himself and was working against profit and capitalism, subverting the system from the inside. He was also, personally speaking, on par with gods so far as power: a telekinetic and telepath who can affect things on a microscopic level. Bloodshot was created to kill Harada, but in the process of his creation he ended up with a soul.

Since then he’s gained power, lost power, had allies and watched them die, been the subject of a manhunt, fought himself, discovered the full weight and history of the conspiracy that created him, and fought against the powers that be to free all humanity from the shackles of greed and avarice. He’s also made a massive mess in the process. This is not a comic for the faint of heart, but those of you that want some thought packed in with your ultraviolence really should be reading this title.

Also, Sony is planning a Bloodshot live-action film and Valiant did a web series where Bloodshot was played by Jason David Frank (the Green Power Ranger), so Bloodshot has that going for it. No idea if Frank will reprise the role for the movie, but Dave Wilson is directing. Wilson did promotional videos for some small projects like Halo and Titanfall 2 and that awesome mini-movie that announced a new Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic video game. He’s also the partner of Tim Miller, who you might remember having directed a little film called Deadpool.

With Sony having finally clued in that making good movies that happen to have comic book characters in them rather than making comic book movies is why Marvel is doing so well (as evidenced by Logan and Deadpool), we have high hopes for this eventual release. If you’re looking for the early scoop on something that can and should be awesome, get into the comics now.

It’s the perfect moment. Jeff is starting the next part of his epic saga here, so this? This is the moment that you’re going to want to jump on board. Renato Guedes, on art duties, will shock you with how pretty his art is. Do not miss this.

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126

Fiction – Love is War 03:00:03:03

Books & Writing, Culture, Short Fictions

March 17, 2017

Click here to read the previous entry. 

Sotaas watched as it all unfolded. There was nothing that could be hidden from him, not a moment that passed that he was unaware of. Oh, the warlords of the Coeecians thought they were secretive when they met in their eyries or caves or tents, but there was always wildlife around them and anywhere life prevailed he could see. Even in those places where there was no life he could go, slipping between their moments of awareness.

No place was safe from him. There was no where to which he was unattached, no distance he could not cross with a thought. All space was a single space to him, though as he become more aware of that it was harder for him to focus on a single location. There were times he felt like letting himself unravel, sinking into every measurement of length and width and depth until there was nothing left of him. Some sense of things always held him back, however.

Some sense of things. He wondered if he was going mad.

His left hand ached, sometimes, but still he refused to take the gaurn off. He had left the civilized world to calm himself and sort through his feelings for treacherous Veskur and unfaithful Endrall, but his efforts in that area had been underwhelming at best. A terrible anger grew in his heart, a rage and a hatred that no one would be able to withstand should he ever let it free.

Sotaas’ reasons for remaining in the wilds were, he would have thought, obvious.

Members of his House sometimes came looking for him. They were the best trackers and scouts in all Midgard, a House that prided itself on such activities. He stood in the midst, sometimes, and listened to their words, cobbling together a picture of what was happening among the Vanir as they made war on the Coeecians.

It all seemed so trivial out here and in the wilds. The idea that thousands and thousands of people were dying in every battle over some imaginary border, over which way of living was right. Couldn’t the Coeecians see how wrong they were? Were their thought processes too flawed to understand the superiority they consistently threw themselves against? It baffled Sotaas, left him thinking that there was some part of their physiology that was wrong. No matter how many of them he dissected, however, he was unable to discover what that mistake was.

So he wandered along the borderlands, unseen by all – his nation, his House, his Njord and Freyr and Freya. No one could find him due to his mastery of the ethcinos and he vowed that he would never know a personal tie again, never be bound by thought and heart to anyone that he could love. There would be no more friends who betrayed him, Njords that asked him to do unsavory things, lovers who soothed with words while stabbing into his guts with a smile.

He moved east and further east, past the Darroken lands and into the Middle Kingdom of a people called the Hsien, then further east still to a nation of shattered islands. It was here that the sun was born every day and here where he set down to watch light vanquish darkness every last mourning. There was something soothing about the birth of light, a vision taken in absolute solitude as the days slithered past and bled together.

“Sotaas?”

The voice startled him. The question in it wasn’t one of presence; the speaker knew he was there but wasn’t certain of his exact location. Sotaas turned and stared from a place of hiding, wondering if this woman – the inventor of the Science that kept him hidden – could see through that very Science. He did not think so, but had learned long ago that it was never wise to believe that a Lady like Veskur Wyrd had any limitations at all.

“I know you’re here.”

Sotaas circled her, his consciousness wandering through the world around her. Veskur was sitting down in a natural break in the woods they were in, her bum resting on the grass, her eyes downcast. She was trembling, frightened, though of what exactly Sotaas was not certain. He drew a dryw as he circled, considered jabbing it through the skull of his old friend as he stalked around her prone form. The Lady had to know what was happening but she offered no defense, did not even raise arms or head.

“I came to a-apologize.”

Sotaas stopped. He was not certain if he had ever heard that note of quiet desperation in Veskur’s voice – he had kept tabs on Endrall and Veskur only enough to know that there had been some sort of falling out between them. Endrall, he knew, had half-heartedly tried to contact him for a while, but even the ghost of attention that Sotaas paid the darling of House Suwilo allowed him knowledge of his old lover’s thoughts; when Endrall spoke of Veskur it was in nothing but insults. He had even taken Veskur’s name away, referring to her as the dryw.

“There’s a peace offering. Will you drink with me?”

Slow, gentle, Veskur shrugged a pack off her shoulders and opened it, producing a bottle of fine wine and two glasses. She possessed none of her usual arrogance right now, Sotaas saw, held none of the manic confidence that had always been her air and armor.

“Please? I’m sorry, Sotaas, I’m sorry for everything. I don’t, I didn’t…”

Sotaas was not certain when he took Veskur in her arms. They held one another for a time, grasping at one another, holding one another steady in the face of their separation. They discussed everything, leaving no truth unlit no matter the ugliness of it. They spoke for days, the sun rising and sleeping over them as they banished all the things that stood between them.

“I can forgive you,” Sotaas said, finally. “I can forgive you because you understand that you were wrong and you came out here to find me. Do not expect me to forgive him.”

“I wouldn’t ask that.”

“Did you know he asked me not to take a lover after he left?” Sotaas felt bile rise in his throat. “He told me it would break him to see me with someone else. And then, not a moon after his absence, he was lying with an echo of his mother.”

“Hekro.”

“If that is her name.” Sotaas scowled, clenched and unclenched his hands. “What has been happening in Midgard?”

“Much. Where would you like me to begin?”

“Politics and succession. I would like to know what sort of jungle I’m getting into now that I am rejoining the rest of the Vanir.”

Veskur smiled and nodded, telling Sotaas everything she knew.

Click here to read the next chapter. If you like the artwork, why not go and thank Meghan Duffy at duffyartdesign.com? She’s cool people.

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4497

Amy Jo Johnson Wants to Watch a Movie With You

Culture, film, Showcase, Videos

March 15, 2017

You remember Amy Jo Johnson, yes? With all the attention being paid to the new Power Rangers movie, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at what one of the originals is doing – and, in short, she is continuing her quest to be awesome.

Amy’s gone on to act in other projects (Felecity and Flashpoint), flirted with music (The Trans-American Treatment and Imperfect),  and done a number of short films (Bent, Lines, and others). She was kind enough to take a moment from her incredibly busy schedule to speak with us before, and you can read that interview by clicking here. She’s not the sort to rest on her laurels, though, and has just completed writing, directing, and producing her first-ever feature film, The Space Between Us.

Here’s the trailer:

That looks both cute and poignant, which is interesting given the potential seriousness of the subject material.

According to press materials, “The Space Between is a heartfelt comedy about Mitch, a 35-year-old new father, whose world is turned upside down when he finds out his adored baby isn’t his. Leaving his wife, he sets out on a mission to find the man who ruined his life. As his wife Jackie is desperate to win him back, she enlists the help of her best friend and family as they embark on a journey to find Mitch.” It’s was the 2014 IndieWire Project of the Year, part of the 2015 Tribeca All Access Program, the 2015 Telefilm Micro Budget program, and developed in the producers’ lab at the Canadian Film Center. It premiered at the Shanghai International Film Festival before moving on to the Whistler Film Festival, the Savannah Film Festival, and is about to be shown at Gina Davis’ Bettonville Film Festival.

It stars Michael Ironside (Top Gun), Kristian Bruun (Orphan Black), Jayne Eastwood (Chicago), Julia Sarah Stone (Wet Bum), and Amy herself.

All of that is kind of great, but it is not the coolest part of this whole endeavour: rather, Amy Jo Johnson has started The Space Between Super Host Theatrical Tour, wherein eight lucky winners of a contest will be chosen to host a special one-night screening of the film with Amy Jo Johnson herself in their hometown. The contest opens March 15th and goes through to April 1st, 2017, with the eight winners being announced at the end of April and the film going on tour in the summer of this year.

The Space Between team will handle all of the logistics of booking the theater and the eight winners will get to take home 5% of the Producer’s Box Office earnings for their screening, and get to spend the evening with Amy Jo Johnson as the host of the event.

Giveaways are also part of the contest, with Amy awarding prizes that include t-shirts, Skype dates, and a one-time grand prize private dinner with Amy Jo Johnson and her producer, Jessica Adams. You can, should, and must click here to learn more and fill out an application, or click here if you want to learn more.  In short, applicants will submit a pitch video describing why they want to host the film and Amy in their hometown and how they plan to bring their friends, family, and community out for the screening that night.

The Space Between team can be found on Twitter and FaceBook simply be clicking the place you’d like to communicate with them. Amy Jo Johnson is also on Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, and has her very own website, and you can find any of those spots by clicking on them. All of them are pretty great.

Good luck, peoples. The clock it is ticking.

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785

God of Comics 2015-12-30

Culture, God Of Comics

December 29, 2015

All-New Wolverine #3All-New Wolverine #3

I really like Laura. I dig her character and I’m glad she’s stepped in to fill Logan’s absence, even if the traditional Wolverine outfit looks kinda ridiculous on her. Still, I like what they’ve done with her pretty much from the get-go, and this comic continues that trend – we’re getting stories that explore concepts of personhood and agency, and adding a little spy thriller melodrama to the mix. Her relationship with time-displaced young Angel is presented as a healthy thing here, two characters that know and trust one another. It all makes for good reading, unlike…

 

All-New X-Men #3All-New X-Men #3

… this. This is not good reading. This is not good reading because everyone but Young Time Displaced Scott feels like they’re being written out of character. All that interesting stuff between Laura and time-displaced Warren I mentioned above? Short circuited here for some trite melodrama. Also, pretty much everyone else is relegated to comic release, or forced so far outside of what they were or what you’d expect them to be as to make them unreadable. The artwork is good and there’s some really not concepts here, but slogging through the mire of this dialogue is tedious at best.

 

Batman and Robin Eternal #13Batman and Robin Eternal #13

Okay, so Bruce maybe sorta ordered himself up an heir after a young Dick Grayson kinda screwed up enough for mother to realize who Batman was. We got to see the two of them chatting and talking about murder and other things, and I’m assuming that there is a trick coming – every writer on this is too skilled not to have something up their collective sleeves. This continues to be an excellent little mystery, an even keel that is ramping things up as we return to the DCYou version of Cassandra Cain. This is fun and if you like DC Comics you should be following it.

 

Black Magick #3Black Magick #3

If you like comics, however, or incredibly strong stories with a rich history and mythology implied on every page, then you really must be reading this. It’s Greg Rucka inventing another world in which to play in, this one involving a witch who is also a cop and the politics of a centuries out coven that is running from a group of witch hunters who are now using magic, or getting someone to use magic for them. There’s a real sense of menace here, some awful and thus far unseen power that is wrecking havoc on people’s lives. It’s great stuff, is what we’re saying. Check it out.

 

Drax #2Drax #2

We told you. We told you last month that CM Punk was going to write something awesome, and he went out and wrote something awesome. Drax is the muscle for the Guardians of the Galaxy, but all of them are going off and doing their own things in their own titles. Drax, of course, gets a turn, and heads off to find and kill Thanos because that is what Drax does. His ship cuts out, stranding him on a world with Terrax, so they go to get drunk and maybe go on a crime spree so they can raise some money to fix the ship and go kill Thanos, maybe even together~! Comics are amazing.

 

Harley Quinn & Power Girl #6Harley Quinn & Power Girl #6

Jimmy Palimioti and Amanda Conner have quietly been writing one of the best runs with this character that has ever been, and one of the best titles that DC Comics has ever published. This run is part of her epic team-up with Power Girl, when the two of them went galivanting through other dimensions and saved a Seventies Disco Sex God from an alien invasion led by aliens that are against fun in all it’s forms. Having done this they now have to find a way home, which might involve Power Girl marrying the aforementioned Sex God. There are no words for this. You must experience it. Yes.

 

Jughead #3Jughead #3

Wow, this comic is weird. Like, really, really weird. Jughead is the classic character we all know in love, now updated (again) for the modern world by… not really changing very much of anything. Jughead is one of those characters that is iconic because he fits into any situation. There’s something very Zen about Jughead. He is, of course, still subject to the vicissitudes of fate, and this comic is exposing him to the horrors of crumbling personal freedoms and enforced mediocre conformity within the modern American school system. He is, however, armed with his imagination, so my money is on Jughead, but then I hate people that abuse the authority they think they have.

 

Rat Queens #14Rat Queens #14

Has there ever been a tighter fantasy comic than this one? Rat Queens hit the world at the exact best moment for itself – a high-stakes fantasy adventure starring a foul-mouthed, life-loving, all-female mercenary band. It’s given us some of the deepest characters in the medium while exploring a number of absurd and harsh realities, all while never losing sight of itself. Take Hannah, the necromancer half-elf, half-tiefling who is sometimes the voice of reason but is now getting lost in some pretty terrible family stuff that was wide-reaching implications for her world. The timing of this – right after Christmas – is magic, the sort of thing we could all use.

 

Southern Bastards #13Southern Bastards #13

One of my favorite books growing up was a science fiction novel called Illegal Aliens: some aliens land in Central Park in the mid-eighties, and an entire chapter is dedicated to explaining how the world responds. When these reactions are summarized for the UN, it’s explained as “America during Superbowl Sunday.” There is nothing more important in the American consciousness than Football, especially when you leave the trappings of civilization behind for the ever-present heat of the broken south. This is a tale of that broken south and football. This will not end well.

 

Star Wars #14Star Wars #14

Do you ever think that, perhaps, a company decides to drag something on longer than they should? Sometimes, events happen on their own, necessitated by story: that’s what appeared to be happening with Vader Down, but aside from the last few pages in the last part of this event, well, there didn’t seem to be much happening. A holding pattern. I’m not sure why – the art is good and the writing is Gillen, and even bad Gillen is better than some people’s best. Let’s see if we can get this thing back in track with the one thing we all need: Wooke Wrestling Entertainment. BAH GAWD.

 

Sunstone Vol. 4Sunstone Vol. 4

Stjepan Sejic was goofing around on hid deviantart page and accidentally created one of the best romance comics, period. Sunstone is a mature and honest look at love and knots, the absurdity of kink mingled with the trust that any healthy relationship needs to be built on, and how insecurity and a lack of communication can kill even the strongest ties: let’s be clear, love never dies, love is murdered when people aren’t clear with one another. There’s a little something in hear for everyone, and if you’re not familiar with this book you really should look into it.

 

Welcome Back #4Welcome Back #4

Imagine reincarnation. Imagine lifetime after lifetime, bound to repeat some of the same events with the same people, but imagine, too, that this is no love story. Imagine you are in a war, a war without end – born again, die again, forever and ever. Is there any room for change there? Any room to be anything other than a victim, a killer, a corpse? And if the road ahead looks like death without end, is there a point? Where does it begin? That’s what this comic seeks to answer: what fate looks like, the importance of beginnings in understanding the present and changing the future.

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443

Fiction – Love is War 03-00-03-02

Books & Writing, Culture, Projects, Short Fictions

December 28, 2015

Every week, we’re going to post some new fiction for you to devour and read, with original art as a header, and then a collected version for purchase from our store when the book is complete. Questions? Comments? The writers are right here, and they’ll respond as they’re able. 

***

Click here to read previous entry.

***

– 03:00:03:02 –

“Are you doing okay?” Risue asked, looking at the ragged woman that stood beside him.

“I’m fine,” Veskur whispered. “Fine.”

Risue was polite enough to say nothing.

He knew all about Veskur and Endrall’s falling out. He had heard the story from both sides, but tended to favor Endrall; he was prettier, better spoken, and more fun to be around. Veskur was, at best, a lunatic that meant well. An idiot savant – someone to be used, perhaps liked or even appreciated, but never fully trusted; the insanity that threatened to overtake her was so much more promise than threat.

“Did I tell you I’ve been talking with Figo?” Veskur asked for what felt like the ninth time. “I was tired and contacted him on a whim nine days ago. We’ve been in pretty much constant contact since then, talking about all kinds of things. Silly things. Light things.”

That degree of happiness was something that Risue was not used to hearing in this woman’s voice and he was not certain what to make of it, or of her.

She’d shown him some of those missives, hastily scrawled on both their parts, paper passed back and forth through scientific means long since established. He wondered how the Ethcinos she was blathering on about would effect such tried and true sciences, but he bit his tongue and read the single sentence responses. There was more wit than he’d expected from with party, even if he did not know the particulars of what they were discussing, but Risue had met Figo enough times to know that if he didn’t want this conversation then he would not be having it.

If the circumstances surrounding this conversation had been reversed, however, Risue was not so certain that Veskur would have had the presence or wherewithal to entertain no as an answer.

The Coeecians had stepped up their aggression in recent months, Jesam the First hammering his Vanir betters with a series of hit and run assaults that had forced the nobility back and back and back again. None of the other leaders had been able to pick out a pattern to the onslaught, but he had been acting as a go between for Hekro and Veskur. Those two had taken to drawing the strikes out on a map, weighing the days and patterns and distances that lay between one attack and the next. The two of them theorized that there was a pattern, just one they could not see.

Risue stared, his eyes going wide.

“His pattern is based on a Coeecian folk song,” Risue said.

“Really?” Veskur did not look convinced. “How can you tell?”

Risue walked around the table they had drawn the map upon, humming a tune, hitting the table with an amhr in time with the music. Veskur’s eyes went wide.

“Brilliant. Utterly brilliant.”

Risue smiled, shrugged, and did not mention that she had been the one to introduce that tune to him. She was forgetting more and more these days. He wondered if there was anyone still around her enough to notice it.

Turning back to the map of Midgard and its tributaries, the two nobles plotted out where they thought the next attack would come. It didn’t take them long to figure out – a forested area in the south, flatland with a keep towards the north and east. Risue made certain to send a copy to Hekro, the two of them waiting to see what the Golden Champion with a question.

“Do you know who’s posted there?” Risue had written.

“Figo Jera,” Hekro wrote back.

“I know this,” Veskur said, the excitement in her more infectious than any virus. “I knew I knew this, I knew. He told me this. Figo did. I know how many troops he has, their movements, their arms, when they watch, who goes on patrol, all of it.”

“That’s a lot of information.”

“I know.” Veskur licked her lips.

“We could send a message to Figo, warning him.”

“Or we could go ourselves.”

Veskur looked at him, her eyes burning with an intense mania.

“He did give me all that information, like an invitation,” Veskur pleaded. “This is just an excuse to go there. Besides, if we’re right and Jesam the First does attack, well, we can see that attack firsthand. We could figure out how to counter his raids, take back the parts of Midgard that have been lost.”

It was the idea of seeing the Coeecians’ new formations that got Risue to agree.

They took Risue’s carriage – House Raido had the best transportation technologies in all of Midgard, no disputing that. They rode in comfort, talking over what they had discovered, double-checking the evidence that supported what they now knew.

No one challenged their passage and there was no sign of the horror that they thought was coming so very quickly to this place. Risue was recognized by some of the troops, those soldiers that had fought with him back when he had not needed a cane to walk. He was greeted with smiles and clasped wrists, a greeting of one soldier to another. Most recognized Wyrd, as well, but there were fewer greetings for her. She was known for her strangeness, for her power and her madness, and these three things would always set her apart.

Figo was giving a speech when they arrived, rallying the troops. They found him easily enough. He was a young commander who stood tall and proud, a power and a presence that deserved love, admiration, and respect. On his left hand was a glove similar to the one that Endrall and Veskur both wore, a tool that Risue knew had something to do with Veskur’s invented and advanced Sciences but a tool that he did not yet possess. There was talk of someone having figured out how the gaurn worked and how to make them, but those that had heard those whispers knew better than to repeat them around the Good Lady Wyrd.

03-00-03-02

Figo was in mid-sentence when he noticed Veskur. He paused ever so briefly; staring, he shook his head quickly and resumed his speech as though nothing had happened. Risue caught the moment because he was good at reading people, as good as any of the more politically minded nobles that frequented the courts and not the killing fields. He turned to the woman beside him, wondering if she had noticed the response and saw instantly that she had.

“I shouldn’t have come here,” she whispered.

Then she turned and left.

Risue went to Figo and gave him the warning they had come to give, but he could tell that the other man was not really listening, that he was badly shaken by the appearance of his former lover. He asked a few polite questions and then excused himself, clearly not wanting to be around anyone at that moment, and Risue was kind enough to let the young commander retreat. There was terror in his eyes where there had been none before, a resignation that was terrifying in scope.

He searched for the woman he had come with but she had vanished. No one had seen her and no one seemed to have any idea as to where she might have gone. Risue gave up after some time; Veskur spent much of her time walking in the wild places and was almost as good as an Elhaz at not being found when she did not want to be. He returned instead to the troop formations, leaning heavily on his cane, speaking with the soldiers as they lazed about.

Not one of them believed that the Coeecians were coming. Not one of them was willing to listen to what he had to say to the contrary. Irritated by this lack of respect, Risue retreated to a high point and paused to watch and wait – and when the attack came he was in the perfect position to see everything that happened under the mad leadership of Jesam the First.

It was only his quick thinking and Figo’s leadership that saved the Vanir from being overrun completely.

***

Click here to read the next entry. If you like the artwork, why not go and thank Meghan Duffy at duffyartdesign.com? She’s cool people.

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666

God of Comics 2015-12-23

Culture, God Of Comics

December 22, 2015

Angela - Queen of Hel #3Angela: Queen of Hel #3

You ever meet an over-achiever? Someone who just, by their very nature, tends to reach higher and farther than other people ever think to? That’s Angela. Born to Asgard and adopted by Heven, she doesn’t really feel comfortable with either, having learned about the flaws of both. Those flaws have sent her on a new quest, one to carve out her own place and her own realm, so she’s looking to take over Hel and become an equal to her adopted parents – Odin and Frigga – and her adopted mom – the Queen of Heven. This is who is starting a rebellion in Hel. Needs a metal OST.

 

Arcadia #7Arcadia #7

How great is the Expanse? The answer, of course, is “pretty great.” I was chatting with a friend and he was like “ity’s been so long since we had good sci-fi” and I was all “are you reading Arcadia?” And that is why, Casey, you’re going to be getting the Arcadia trade for Christmas, the moment that it comes out. Anyway, a terrible disease has ravaged the world and ninety-nine percent of humanity has been looked in cyro-storage, their minds shuffled into an MMO hellscape that is falling apart, because the tech they’re using was not meant for what they’re using it for. Awesome stuff.

 

Batman and Robin Eternal #12Batman and Robin Eternal #12

We now know exactly how horrific Mother is, and how terrifying her ability to sculpt minds is. They’re not kidding around with what they’ve built here, either, with some of the best writers in comics coming in and adding so much to the Bat-mythos. Jason and Tim are working with Bane and have just bumped into an Azrael, which should go poorly for Jason and Tim and maybe Bane, while Dick and Harper try to understand the horror that nearly swallowed Bruce back during the earliest days of the Bat. This is awesome and heady stuff, a rather awesome spy thriller.

 

Bloodshot Reborn #9Bloodshot: Reborn #9

I need to know how this ends. An unstoppable golem was created by the military industrial complex to kill god, but somewhere a long the way it gained a soul, questioned the violence of it’s being, and gave up the power of itself. That power went elsewhere, infecting others and turning them into almost unstoppable killing machines, and he’s had to go and reclaim his power from those that never wanted it… except for one guy, who did want it and came to the same conclusion the golem did: kill everyone, get all the power. These comics are insanely good existential action-terror.

 

Daredevil #2Daredevil #2

Matt Murdock is back in New York, has managed to hide his secret identity (again, dammit), and is still moonlighting as Daredevil. Good on him? He has changed a little bit, though, as he’s now working for the district attorney in New York as opposed to running a private practice. To show him how much they love him, they’ve stuck his office at the bottom of an elevator shaft, with the excuse of not wanting to waste windows on a blind man. Interestingly, studies show that blind people can tell – they need Vitamin D just like the rest of us. Could be okay. Was liking him in LA.

 

Dark Knight III - The Master Race #2Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2

No, no, don’t walk away, it’s readable, I promise. Yes, Frank Miller’s name is on the cover, and, yes, he’s got some creative input. Someone else is translating his ideas to paper, though, making this a much more interesting comic than it has any business being. The art is very much in line with the original Dark Knight comics, though things are a little more detailed here than they are in, say, Sin City. Anyway, Bruce is dead, the new commissioner forgot what she learned in the Dark Knight, and Carrie Kelly just got herself good and captured. Far better than it has any business being.

 

Darth Vader #14Darth Vader #14

Holy God but the Force Awakens was good. We can all agree with that, right? The D-Cast (link) thought it was incredible, and this? This comic here? Just as freakin’ good. Marvel has done an incredible job of getting from the end of Episode IV to the beginning of Episode V, particularly with Vader re-establishing himself following his loss of a whole Death Star. Along the way, Vader discovered Luke and has been actively hunting him, leading to him crashing on a planet where the rebel alliance was training an army specifically to deal with Vader. They failed just as Leia arrived. Also, Vader’s hench-people just had a battle with Han, and we get the fallout… now. Do not miss this.

 

Deadly Class #17Deadly Class #17

Things have not gone well for Marcus. He fell in love with two girls in a school for assassins, abandoned one as the other got killed, and has since fallen apart. He’s going through some terrible things and feels utterly alone, falling in with the wrong crowd as everything good in him erodes. It’s not just me thinking this; the faculty agrees, because final exams for the year include hunting Marcus down and executing him. This book is haunting, hunting, the sort of thing that is difficult to read but impossible to put down, the unblinking grit of slivered goodness in humanity’s worst.

 

Dr. Mirage Second Lives #1Dr. Mirage: Second Lives #1

It’s a Valiant comic, which I think should be enough of a recommendation on it’s own. Dr. Mirage is a medium who deals with the dead, like her husband, and the two of them work together to perform exorcisms, banishments, and other forms of benevolent necromancy while pondering the weight and circumstance of death itself. Here, she’s discovered a means of giving her husband flesh once more, but it’s an ancient rite that was never meant to be performed and you can already see where this is going… but, like life, this comic is about the journey, not the destination.

 

He-Man The Eternity War #13He-Man: The Eternity War #13

In order to win, in order to defeat the Horde that threatened to devour everything and everyone forever, He-Man had to give up the Power of Greyskull. This left him little more than a broken Adam while his uncle, Skeletor, stepped in and claimed that power. He now dominates everything and everyone, trapping Adora to keep himself on a throne that was never meant for him. Now, Adam must take back his power before King Hiss devours his soul in a series of comics that are far better and deeper than they have any business being. This is science-fantasy opera and it needs to be read to be believed.

 

Justice League 3001 #7Justice League 3001 #7

Speaking of science-fantasy opera, this comic features soul-devouring genetic overlays of various Justice League members teaming up with other immortal Justice League members a thousand years in the future, where things have gone weird. Also, villains have brought back other Justice League era villains to fight the new Justice League, which is going about as well as you’d expect given that a lot of details have become sort of muddled. Also, there’s some kind of robot invasion and they just killed Superman. That can’t be good. And this Superman? Not coming back. No one is safe.

 

Lazarus #21Lazarus #21

Oligarchy took over – this is the world of President Trump, a corporatist dream where the rich rule and the rest of humanity is referred to as ‘waste,’ used to the last drop. The corporations have gone to war, the CEO of the best of their lot poisoned and taken down while his company flounders and their chosen champion struggles to make a difference in the field. There’re powerplays and politics and ruthless plans all coming to fruition, written by one of the best writers in the game and illustrated in a haunting style that will follow you into your dreams and stay there. Poignant, intelligent, and very much a must-read.

 

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #2Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #2

This is insane. Okay, a smart girl who is being vilified for being smart and believing in science and being ahead of the curve makes friends with a giant indestructible Tyrannosaurus Rex in modern day New York, which should make bullies a little easier to deal with. This is her school’s faculty’s fault for fiddling around with her science projects when they had no idea what the hell they were doing, which is something some of us might have experienced and gotten in trouble for. This comic celebrates intelligence and ingenuity while also showing how both qualities are mucked about with by a system and society that embraces conformity. Important in the same way Ms. Marvel is. Did I mention the genius girl is black?

 

Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat #1Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat #1

You saw Jessica Jones, right link? Of course you did. It was incredible, one of the best things to come out of Netflix for a long while and a nice apology for that third season of Hemlock Grove link. Jessica’s adopted sister in that series was Trish “Patsy” Walker, an old and established character who is now getting her own series and that should be awesome. Trish used to date a literal partially reformed anti-Christ and is a partial celebrity and street level hero who’s kinda good at the martial arts thing. She’s pretty great, and this sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Give it a chance.

 

Pretty Deadly #7Pretty Deadly #7

Deathface Ginny returns to stare down the barrell of the Great War – which is what World War One was called back before people knew they were supposed to name them. This comic is a weird meandering treatise on the weight and responsibility of death, both from the perspective of the living and dying. It’s odd and beautiful and terrifying all at once, edged in with the scripture of the old west and married to the narrative of the early twentieth century. There’s a lot going on here, in other words, and this book is dense, the sort of thing you could use to prove comics-as-art.

 

Rai #12Rai #12

This is the weirdest book… okay, you know how Aphrodite IX and IXth Generation and Justice League 3001 are all about the futures of their respective universes, using the mythos of today to build a landscape set in the far future? That’s what Rai has done, taking the disparate parts of their various titles and making them more important by showing what the eventual consequences of those people, places, and things are. It’s beautiful and detailed and stranger than a badly cut eighties anime, moving at a breakneck pace and expecting you to keep up with introduced concepts.

 

Rocketeer At War #1Rocketeer: At War #1

Somehow, this character is still a thing. The movie link holds up pretty well, and there’s enough here that a company like IDW Publishing should be able to put out something cool – a stunt pilot discovers a jetpack back in World War II, and goes from being a nobody to being a major player because of the technology he has mastered. The man in question, Cliff Secord, gets by on his wits and is very much a chip off the Han Solo block, a guy who just wants to be left alone to do his thing, but given the proper circumstances can be a hero. I’m curious to see how this plays out.

 

Star-Lord #2Star-Lord #2

I’m trying to decide of I care. This is now young Peter Quill by way of John Crichton, having stolen a space ship and gotten himself stranded in space. This goes against the movie – and wasn’t Secret Wars supposed to do two things? One was fix the mistakes of Jonathan Hickman, and the other was to being the comics closer in line with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This serves neither, but still could be interesting if we weren’t comparing it to the series that came before Secret Wars, which was, well, stellar. We’ll see if this gets any better this month. I’m hoping it does.

 

Switch #3Switch #3

Stjepan Sejic is one of the most gifted artists working in comics today. He’s got a knack for writing engaging characters, even if English is not his first language. The trick is that in looking past his weaknesses to view his many strengths, and few comics illustrate those as well as this one. The Witchblade falls into the hands of an ordinary school girl who has no idea what she has or what she’s gotten into. Like spider-Gwen, this comic then takes familiar faces and puts new spins on them, so if you’ve never read Witchblade, this might be something you’ll dig. We dig it quite a lot.

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #53Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #53

Hamato Yoshi killed Oroko Saki. It happened – we all watched it happen, and Saki welcomes it at the end. It brought an end to a struggle that traversed lifetimes, and might finally allow Saki to overcome with karma and evolve. Everyone who was watching understood… except Michelangelo, who fled to an old enemy for succor. He doesn’t know how bad Old Hob can be, because his family protected him from the worst of Hob’s excesses and he’s buddies with Slash, but without that barrier he’s likely to learn some things he might not like. The only sure thing is that this will be excellent.

 

Venom Space Knight #2Venom: Space Knight #2

So, Flash Thompson went to the planet of the symbiotes and got the madness within his other half expunged, aligning himself with the monastic heroic order the symbiotes are supposed to be. Now, he gets to wander like a knight errant throughout the cosmos, writing wrongs and fighting evil whenever he’s not hanging with the Guardians of the Galaxy. The first issue was a surprising pleasure, setting the stage for a strange heroic space opera, which is exactly what this feels like. The art is also gorgeous, matching the quality of the writing into an incredibly strong whole. Recommended.

 

Velvet #13Velvet #13

Every week, it seems, there’s one comic where we stop and say simply read this. So, to wit: read this. Velvet is a female James Bond operating in the early seventies, cutting a world-wide swath to expose a double agent in British intelligence while clearing her own name. We don’t know the full scope of the conspiracy, but neither does she – what we do know is that she’s good at what she does, an expert in the field and dangerous in every way conceivable, and that the people that messed with her made the mistake of forgetting who she is. Don’t make that same mistake. Read this.

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