God of Comics – the Hard Place #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 22, 2017

The Hard Place #1 (Image Comics)

Nothing deep about my initial reason for choosing this comic: I liked the cover. It’s beautiful. Look at this:

We get into a lot of depth when talking about comics here and I feel like we sometimes gloss over that comics are a visual medium. Good story does not work without complimentary artwork in comics – it’s one of the reasons that some rather good nineties stories make for unreadable comics now because the art is just terrible.

Art isn’t everything, though – it’ll get people interested but will not hold them if there isn’t enough of a story to keep people on point. Back in the Nerdcouver days, Jenna and Nathan and myself all picked up a comic because of the eye-catching cover and then talked about how the story was lacking. I don’t even remember the comic, which I think proves my point.

This comic doesn’t look like it’s going to suffer a lack in either department, though: on the writing side of things you’ve got Doug Wagner, and the art is being handled by Charlie Kirchoff and Nic Rummel. Cover artist Brian Stelfreeze isn’t handling the interiors, sadly, but Charlie Kirchoff and Nic Rummel aren’t anyone to just pass over, either. Charlie’s been doing some interesting color work over on Doctor Who, and you might not know Nic Rummel’s inks now, but you will. Soon.

Doug Wagner is the warped mastermind behind Plastic, a serial killer romp that you should be reading, and Average Joes – and if you’ve read either of those then you know what sort of quality you’re getting into here. Moving away from supers and psychopaths, Doug is flexing his cranial muscles and introducing us to former wheelman and living legend, AJ Gurney.

AJ Gurney has just spent five years in prison and has every intention of going straight. His dad has a garage and he’s feeling pretty good about going to work there and vanishing, letting the legend fade away as he goes about his life. Things seem to be going okay for him until he makes a stop at a bank and a robbery takes place.

Here’s where things get weird: he’s recognized by the robbers and they’re fans – such big fans that they want him to be their getaway driver. He refuses, so they take a hostage and threaten to kill her if he doesn’t do what they want – but she’s the daughter of a local Russian mob boss. And the police, well, AJ is a man of a color and an ex-con and they aren’t going to take his word on anything.

So now a man who paid his debt has been put in a situation where no one wants to listen to him and it looks like there’s no way out; the Russian mob is going to use their every asset to find him, and the cops assume he’s guilty the same way they do with most people of color. And, of course, there’s the two robbers who are also fans because nothing is ever easy.

Told you that Doug Wagner is a warped mastermind. He’s on a level with the likes of an Ed Brisson or Joshua Williamson or Brubaker when Brubaker is on a rant, so if you like their stuff you’ll dig this a lot.

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God of Comics – Batgirl #14

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 21, 2017

Batgirl #14 (DC Comics)

We had to get here eventually. We used to talk about Batgirl all the time, even before this whole Living Myth Magazine and God of Comics things got started. I remember going to elementary school and talking Batgirl, but I looked at Barbara Gordon as a secondary character at best until the Killing Joke. I was a kid. Forgive me.

Thing is, Oracle was much more interesting as a character to me than another Bat-sidekick. I was looking into injury and recovery when Sword of Azrael came out (I was as much an insomniac than as I am now), and I thought there was something interesting about this incredibly athletic person being forced to fall back on their mind in the wake of injury.

I liked that her superpower was her mind, her intellect, her skill with computers. The internet was still becoming a thing back then and not many people knew much about it or suspected what it would become, but the writers behind Barbara were predicting the way things would turn out. I discovered some of my favorite sociologists because of this character (hi, Alexander Bard and Jan Söderqvist~!).

There was also the question of her trauma. Long before post-traumatic stress disorder became a thing that people were talking about, Barbara had it. The better writers at DC Comics were able to work that into her stories and show how she was coping with her damage and living past it. There was a lot to like and Oracle became one of my favorite characters. I followed her appearances everywhere I could.

As I got older I started meeting people that couldn’t walk for one reason or another. Some of them knew about Oracle; some of them didn’t. All of them liked her or liked the fact that she existed. It was something to start conversations or friendships with.

Then Gail Simone happened.

Oracle went from being a b-list character to an a-list player, the person that the Justice League called on when they needed help. She formed her own team, the Birds of Prey, and even got her own (borderline unwatchable) television show. I devoured all of the things.

A new Batgirl showed up in No Man’s Land and a part of that story was dedicated to how Barbara dealt with someone taking on her old identity. She mentored the third Batgirl, and then the fourth. She had an awesome rapport with Steph Brown that was prematurely ended in favor of the grimdark narrative that was the nu52, undoing thirty years of history to put her back in the cowl and get her out of the chair.

I didn’t like it for a number of reasons; I don’t like stories that go backward and retcon things – it shows laziness and a lack of awareness, I think, on the part of the writers or editors that make those decisions. A few factors kept me interested, though: the first was that Gail Simone was returning to write, the second was a conversation I had with a friend, and a third was something I observed all on my own.

Gail is obvious and she wrote the best of the nu52 comics, so we’ll leave that where it is. The conversation with my friend went on about how there was more at stake for Barbara under the cowl, that if she was discovered she would ruin not only herself but her father. I could get behind that. The last one, the observation, was that as Barbara goes, so goes DC Comics as a whole.

She was a part of the goofy sixties and seventies. Her solo adventures started getting more involved and operatic in the eighties, then Oracle and the darkness that followed happened in the nineties. She returned to opera as a survivor and a genius in the early aughts, where DC started flirting with intelligent stories that concentrated on strong friendships overcoming corruption and evil. She went dark for the nu52, but was one of the first characters to go light as Rebirth approached.

Barbara Gordon, for some reason, is the herald of what the DC Universe will be at any given time.

That alone is reason to pay attention to her, but then you add in the writing of Hope Larson as she delves into the lore of the character, cutting right to the quick and showing who Barbara is in relation to the people around her and why she matters. Hope is a writer who brings out the best Barbara has to offer in the modern world, a worthy successor to the earlier works done by Gail, and she’s quietly writing one of the better titles DC is currently publishing.

Given how good DC Comics is at this point, that is saying something.

Currently, she’s digging into the ties between Barbara and Dick Grayson and trying to see what lies at the core of their bond. Is it just an old crush forged into something more by Bruce-instilled loyalty? Is there anything more there? Odds are, yes, yes there is, but Hope is going to figure out how far that bond goes. If you like Barbara or Dick Grayson at all, you owe it to yourself to be reading this comic.

I chose the Dan Mora cover for our header because I love Dan Mora and the man needs to be working on more comics, The interior is being handled by the team of Inaki Miranda and Eva de la Cruz, and the two of them compliment one another nicely. Inaki does details that run almost as deeply as her shadows, and Eva does some interesting things with light sources that work well for this story.

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Review – Story Story Lie All-Star Season Closer

Comedy, Culture, Events, Performance, Podcast, Reviews, Showcase

August 18, 2017

It has been a hell of a year for Story Story Lie! Starting off at Cafe Deux Soleils and ending at The Fox Cabaret, and with that having one of the best endings to a season one could have.  The closer was a who’s who of storytellers from the area all vying to trick the audience, but really just amazing us and sometimes embarrassing themselves.

Jo Dworschak and her “Vanna” Matt Loeb hosted a great show and their chemistry and comedic timing made the night super amazing. The Storytellers for the night were Zain Meghji, Nic Enright-Morin, Burcu, Mark Hughes,  Suzy Rawsome.

The first story of the night was from Nic Enright-Morin who told us a story about how she was an ESL teacher in England and agreed to cat sit for a co-worker who lived on a houseboat for two weeks. The cat ended up thinking she was the best and one night when she decided to drunkenly bring a former student home to get lucky only to have cat attack him while they were doing the deed. She ended up dislocating her knee and he ended up needing medical treatment, they both ended up having to go to the hospital. The co-worker came back to almost everything in the boat being covered in blood…Or did she?

The second story of the night was from Suzy Rawsome who regaled us with the story of being a trashy teenager in Surrey who was a late bloomer but ended up getting drunk at a park with some friends and hooking up with a guy behind some trees in which she decided to get fully naked. Their friends figured out that they were boning and stole her clothing. They managed to put her underwear up on the backstop of a baseball diamond. She had to pay a friend 10$ to retrieve it a week later…Or did she?

The third story was from Mark Hughes who lived a rough life and he and a friend decided to rob a convenience store to buy drugs while drunk. They ended up stealing a car and then crashing it. They had a gun with them and Mark hid it under the seat of the car after crashed. Before being taken to the hospital he decided to pretend to be unconscious, the hospital staff treated him really nicely until they found out that he had stolen a car. The nurse once she found out what was going on, shoved the catheter into his penis with extra force… he had to continue to play unconscious while that was happening. He ended up going to jail and sobering up. Later on, he found out that the gun he had, was a replica and therefore wouldn’t have been able to fire…Or did he?

The fourth story was from Burcu who had a client who was a prominent politician who was also a cross-dresser. He came to her for years privately to have her help him buy clothes for him to wear privately and they became good friends. One day he came to her with all of his clothes and said he wanted to stop cross-dressing because he felt like it was hurting his family. After talking it through she agreed and bought back all of the clothing they had picked out. A few hours later a woman came into the store and bought almost all of the clothing that he had turned in. And a few hours after that, the politician called to say that all of his cross-dressing clothes were back in his closet and wanted to know what was going on!? Apparently, the woman who bought the clothes was his wife…Or did she?

And the last story was from Zain Meghji who went on a trip to Columbia but started having bad stomach pains and was vomiting. They told him it was altitude sickness. When he came back to Vancouver he went to a hot yoga class and started having the same sickness. He went to the doctor who said that he had the flu. Then he went on a hike with an activity group and continued to have the same symptoms. He kept Googling the symptoms and every time he would it would tell him that he had an appendicitis. However, every time he went to the doctor they would tell him he didn’t. Eventually, he went to a yoga retreat and was so sick that when he came back he went to the ER and that is when they told him that he had a ruptured appendix but that they were going to wait until October 27, 2017, to see if it is worth operating on. He may or may not be dead by then, but who knows… or does he?

After each story was done, the audience got to ask pointed questions and the storytellers had to answer them. There was also an expert on “Lying” as a guest who would give an analysis of who was and wasn’t truthful based on body language. Then we were told to text Jo our guess as to who was the liar. They tallied up each vote and at the end of the night, Nic and Suzy were tied.

So, who was the liar? Who wasn’t? Well… you are going to have to listen to the podcast when it comes out. 

Story Story Lie is a gem, and it is going to become even better when it moves to The Rio on September 21st. 

For more information and a picture of a cute bunny read our interview with Jo.

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God of Comics – Southern Bastards #17

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 18, 2017

Southern Bastards #17 (Image Comics)

Let’s keep this going. Keep it going. Forever.

This is the sun-stroked tale of corruption in the American south, a tale set in those towns too small to have anything other than high school football and dreams of the failed confederacy to keep them going. To fully explain that and where this comic comes from, we need to delve into the Myth of the Lost Cause.

Some Americans will tell you that their Civil War was fought over patriotism and states rights and things that were not slavery. Don’t believe them. The Confederate States were literal traitors, the states rights were the rights to keep slaves, and their articles of confederation were all about slavery. Hell, their economy was based on using slaves for credit with banks, so even their banking system was slavery.

The question you should be asking now is why are they allowed to lie about it? This is trickier to answer. See, in the spirit of good will, the Union let the former Confederates write their own narrative of the loss, which became known as the Myth of the Lost Cause and led to all that shit about how the South will rise again.

Right now is as close as the South should ever get to rising again. Their racist, fascist policies were falling apart at the time of the war, and their anger that the Union was doing better than they were was a large part of what led to the war. The ongoing struggle between progressives (people looking towards the future) and conservatives (people that want to return to a mythical past) begins here.

The problem is that slavery and the ill effects of it – morally, economically, and especially morally – are brushed over in the American South due to the myth. As progressives progress and move forward, the American south is left behind and gets to see how far they’ve been left behind on television. They’ve become flyover states – places that people don’t go to so much as avoid or pass through between destinations. Even the bigger cities in these places are dying, relying on industries that no one uses any more and wondering why things can’t go back to how they used to be.

And the smaller cities? The towns and villages? They have even less as it all falls apart, stuck with an ever-decreasing economy, voting for politicians who work against their best interests because they’ve reduced voting to a sport-team mentality. Are you red or are you blue? Doesn’t matter what the issues are, you vote for your team. It’s why when girls get raped by football players in these places and come forward they get blamed and driven out of town. Nothing matters because these places have so little to be proud of and so little to do and high school football becomes everything, the only thing that matters and the thing by which all other things are judged.

Besides, it’s a chance to wage war again without having to really think about it. Fight your neighboring towns and prove you weren’t the weak link that led to the lost cause. Fight people from up north and prove that you would have won if you had been there. If you’re unfortunate enough to be a minority in one of these places, you can gain some fame by representing your town against all comers. You can find a limited acceptance, one that might help you escape the hellscape you were born into.

Your high school football coach is the closest thing to a god that many of those towns know. And when the town dies and can’t support football, well, sometimes people have to turn to crime to keep things going. That’s where this comic begins, in a town exactly like the one I’ve described, where the football coach has become a crime lord and no one will fight him because he keeps winning.

Thing is, it can’t last. There’s always going to be more competition, people willing to take things a little farther or do things that no one has ever seen before. Our local football coach and kingpin is having problems on and off the field, both with his team and the crime he uses to support it, and there’s all sorts of problems coming his way because the world outside the south keeps leaking into this weird little bubble.

Jason Aaron and Jason Latour co-created this comic and you can tell it’s the most honest thing they’ve ever done. They’re both escapees from the American South, writing this as a break-up letter to a terrible ex-lover who they’ve learned to truly see. There’s some sun-bleached beauty here, some hope, but the spiritual rot that has set in permeates every page of this comic.

It sometimes makes this a hard book to read, but it needs to be read.

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God of Comics – Genius: Cartel #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 17, 2017

Genius Cartel #1 (Image Comics)

Okay. So. Follow me on this. You’ll occasionally get a certain type of person that will say things like “You can’t abort those cells~! What if those cells grow up to be the doctor that cures cancer~?!?” or something along those lines. The corollary to their question has nothing to do with the cells but rather people; who is to say that the pregnant woman wouldn’t be the person to cure cancer but now she won’t because she got assaulted and pregnant or isn’t ready for a baby and now is stuck with one or about a billion other similar questions?

Following that train of logic, what if the cells (once they become a baby) do have the capacity to cure cancer? What happens when that baby is thrown into a world where they are unwanted and neglected, or given to parents that are unable to provide the education and environment that child needs to do that one specific thing? They’re not likely to be able to cure much of anything once they’re riddled with student debt or indoctrinated into a conservative mindset or otherwise crippled by Republican anti-science values.

A few years back, Image Comics published a comic that started looked at this, though not in the way you might be thinking. Genius posits that every generation or so, a mind is fostered on the cradle of humanity that possesses an advanced understanding of strategy and tactics. This is the tale of a young African-American woman named Destiny who was born with that gift but condemned to the poor ghettos that litter America, a result of decades of neglect and abuse fostered on an entire nation.

Using her gifts, she was previously able to unite the warring factions in South Central and waged war on the local cops, using military tactics and basically making the police look like idiots dressed up with military hardware. The military was called in and Destiny was defeated, although the implication was that Destiny threw the fight.

See, she knew that her enemies couldn’t resist the chance to use her intelligence and talent for their own gain, so instead of killing her they convicted her and threw her in a military prison for gifted youngsters. Their hope is to raise her in their image. Her goal is much more straightforward: she wants to learn everything they can teach her because the resources she had at her disposal were not enough to get her what she wanted.

The original mini-series was controversial and brutal, writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman pulling no punches as they took a look at the gangland two dozen years of neoliberalism and Reagenomics fostered, on top of the two centuries or so of casual racism that hobbled a whole subset of American citizens. They then applied a chosen one to that modern hellscape and turned her loose, letting artist Afua Richardson out to play.

Afua’s not back for this installment; Rosi Kampe is taking over and if you’re not familiar with her artwork from her stint on Unknown Lands or Destiny, NY, well, you’re in for a treat. Her artwork is bloody gorgeous, and I’ve got the sense we’ll get to see plenty of blood before this tale is done.

Do not miss this. It’s going to be awesome.

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God of Comics – Fantomah #4

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 16, 2017

Fantomah #4 (Chapterhouse Comics)

So, interesting story.

There’s a lot of faith that we put in police officers; we, as citizens of a country, grant them the right to use discretionary violence. They are allowed to carry guns and open fire in their own defense and the defense of the citizens they are supposed to protect and serve. At the same time, cops see the very worst of people, day in and day out. It’s the sort of thing that only cops can really understand and they get understandably protective of their own.

You’ll hear people use the phrase “bad apples” when describing cops that go bad – you know, the ones that run child prostitution rings, murder minorities for no real reason, all that kind of thing. Thing is, the saying goes one bad apple spoils the bunch. So, when good cops protect bad cops they cease being good cops. If a person shields someone that breaks the law, that person becomes a criminal.

Worse, good cops leave to get away from the serpent’s nest that police stations become. I’d like to post a link backing that up but I don’t have one on hand and twenty minutes of Google searches only leads to cops being forced to resign due to public backlash after they murder, use excessive force, are involved in rape, prostitution, narcotics trafficking…

You know, the stuff they accuse minorities of doing before killing them.

Some minorities have smartened up and don’t call the police anymore. They don’t trust them, and why would they? Cops attack the wrong house and kill children and do their best to kill babies. They walk through neighborhoods and kill pets. Calling cops for help is a good way to get your family killed.

Thing is, crime happens. Cops are necessary in a Capitalist society, even if they’ve been allowed to become another part of the thing they were supposed to fight by uncaring and corporate-owned politicians. People without corporate ties are still left vulnerable to crime as desperate people fight to survive, which doesn’t make the people they victimize any less victims. The criminals are pathetic symptoms of a much larger problem, but a symptom that is left unchecked and still has a good chance of killing the host.

That’s where this story starts. That’s where it lives and breaths, down in the muck that corporations ignore and politicians blame and police commit every crime they’re supposed to stop. There’s no justice here, just people trying to get by as feudal slum lords claim power as an echo of the European powers that stole them away.

On one hand, this is a cautionary tale – Paz Gallegos, a young woman trying to protect what’s left of her family, is killed trying to do it because the social contract we’ve made up fractures when the rich pretend it doesn’t apply to them. Paz has to play it tough no matter the risk to herself because if she doesn’t, her family will die or suffer fates worse than death – being whored out, addicted to drugs, becoming part of the sickness that affluenza trickles down on those less fortunate.

Paz tries this. Pazz dies. But the world Paz inhabits is kinder than our own and Paz is visited by a power that the people of her world forgot, an entity called Fantomah. The bloody trail of retribution that follows in her wake is a wonder to behold, the fragile words of Ray Fawkes blending nicely with the skilled inks and shifting colors of Soo Lee.

It goes further than this, though, because those caught up in the fevered nightmare of this world cannot imagine anything challenging the scraps of power that they think they hold. The criminals that taint the world, the cops that have become tainted, the politicians that legitimize that taint, and the corporations that profit from it will kill people to keep what they have. Why wouldn’t they? The blood on their hands seeps through to the bone. If humans are made of seventy percent water, then the tainted have replaced that liquid with the blood of those they’ve killed. They’re soulless golems, one and all, and the only thing they have left is spreading the emptiness of their souls into the souls of others.

And still, we are not done. You’ll hear people say that using violence to protect yourself from those that would kill you or rape you is somehow wrong. When someone threatens you and keeps threatening you, when they have the means and have shown themselves capable of doing you harm, some people will demand you bow your head and accept the pain you are being given. Paz and Fantomah are fighting and the question remains – even if they accomplish the thing they set out to do, how much of them will be left?

When you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you. How do you keep yourself? If you want to know or are interested in the discussion, give this a look. A little light reading as our world circles nihilist materialism and tries to find anything to replace it before we all die.

Happy Wednesday~!

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God of Comics – Calla Cthulhu #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 16, 2017

Calla Cthulhu #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

I love a good Lovecraft Mythos story. I also love that the chaos surrounding the rights to the mythos are enough to drive anyone mad, to the point where the copyright people just kind of throws up their hands and gives up.

You ever wonder why there’s so much Cthulhu stuff everywhere? It’s because no one knows who owns it. No one is certain who has the rights to what bit of it, so people just kind of look at it as open source. It’s the best kind of thing because anything not written by Lovecraft or (weirdly) Robert E. Howard is effectively official fan fiction that the base will sometimes accept as canon.

It’s weird and also excellent. You can copyright your version of the Mythos but not the Mythos itself. It stands outside of time and ownership, like Thor or Dracula or Jesus. And that allows different people to come at it from different angles and lends itself to some really good comics (Fall of Cthulhu and Neonomicon, I’m looking at you).

Also, it lends itself to Calla Cthulhu.

The set up here is that young Calla Tafali is a teenager with teenage problems; homework, friends, checking out colleges, looking into student loans and the subsequent crippling debt, the crushing and inescapable doom brought on by the Boomer generation’s selfishness and ignorance. You know, the usual. She’s also got a problem with cultists and assassins and investigators because of her estranged father, who would really like her to come into the family trade.

See, her dad is Hastur. The Hastur. The King in Yellow. You might remember him from the first season of True Detective or the Epic Tale of Old Man Henderson. If you don’t, Hastur is one of the Great Old Ones, a being in the Mythos who stands so far beyond humanity that humankind can only just kind of see inches of his scope. He is beyond comprehension, sure, but he also has a daughter and he would really like her to accept her heritage so that he can do… something.

Does that something involve awaking Dread Cthulhu who lies dead and dreaming in the corpse city of R’lyeh? It might. It very well might. And there’s only one way to find out.

Writers Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer pen a tale about family and madness and family madness and coming of age that is like nothing you’ve ever seen. Would you expect anything less from them what brought you Milk and Cheese and the Action Girl Comics Anthology? These two are combining their powers again (they do so for television and are, in fact, husband and wife) to bring you the weirdest possible magical girl story that is good for all ages.

What more could you ask for? What? This sounds like the magical girl you had no idea you were waiting for until now, but now that it is here you know. You have always known. Go out and read it.

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Shakespeare Butts Review

Burlesque, Events, Performance, Reviews

August 15, 2017

If you haven’t heard already, Geekenders and Instant Theatre are partnering up to put on a Fringe show, “Slumber Here”, a real life RPG retelling of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. To raise funds for the much hyped mini donkey and portal to the fairy world, Geekenders presented to us A Bawdy Night of Bardlesque Revelry, a variety of burlesque acts based on the Bard’s sizeable body of work. Whether a Shakespeare nerd or someone who appreciates the art of burlesque, this marriage of the two is sure to be an entertaining ride.

The night began with the audience filing into the Rio Theatre with Shakespeare memes on the screen and Ren Faire-esque music from the speakers. As the band for “Slumber Here” led by Ian Montgomery takes the stage, the theatre came to a hush and otherworldly music filled the air. After a couple of songs, William Shakespeare himself (Instant Theatre’s own Nikolai Witschl) sauntered up to the stage to deliver many puns before introducing the first act with even more puns.

First act of the night was Hairy von Heels with his reinterpretation of King Lear. New to burlesque, Hairy von Heels brought life and humor to the tragic tale of familial love and succession. His costume changes and dance routine ended with a crown on his head and not much else.

Next in line was a routine based on The Merchant of Venice with Effie Alexandra as Portia and Stephen Blakley as Bassanio. Effie Alexandra’s mesmerizing routine had heavy hip hop overtones and incorporated selected audience members as the princes of Morocco and Arragon. As the number unfolded, each chose a box of gold and silver, leaving the box of Pb for Bassanio, thus winning her hand in a passionate embrace.

Afterwards, it was Antony and Cleopatra with Catfish as the titular queen of Egypt. Catfish’s Elizabeth Taylor-esque Cleopatra captured the audience with silliness and exaggerated expressions while prancing around on stage to The Bangle’s “Dance like an Egyptian”. An actual trouser (stuffed) snake put the routine to an end as Cleopatra slipped into eternal slumber.

What Midsummer Night’s fundraiser would be complete without its very own number? Next, we have Cruella De Vine in a transformational number as Nick Bottom. It began with the writer puzzling over his script only to have a fairy blow fairy dust (or glitter, as it is known in the mortal realm) blown in her face. This spelled her metamorphosis from human to Eeyore, off to find her Titania.

The only historical number of the night was Bella de Colletage as Queen Margaret from Henry VI. This kickass number saw Queen Margaret strutting on stage as Hairy von Heels’ Duke of York cowered in a corner in awe and fear.

Another of the Bard’s famous work, Taming of the Shrew, we had Jayne Fondue as Bianca, and Graeme Thompson, Greg Delmage, and Stephen Blakley as her three suitors. This hilarious number began with the three attractive – if pompous – suitors vying for Bianca’s affections and almost winning it. After much competition and chest pounding, each suitor then brought a gift as the final offering, one of which was a cheese pizza. To the audience’s surprise and delight, Jayne Fondue’s Bianca ran off with the pizza and left her suitors behind, awkwardly consoling each other.

Before intermission, the stage took a dark and delicious turn with Titus Andronicus, in which Kitty Glitter’s Titus committed a fun, brutal murder. Hairy von Heels and Seamus Fit-It-In appeared briefly as Chiron and Demetrius, Titus’ guilty victims who were made into pie. Kitty Glitter then smeared said pie all over herself and fed the audience whipped cream, once again proving that revenge is a dish best served sexy.

After intermission, the Slumber Here band once again captivated the audience with a couple of lively tunes before Will Shakespeare welcomed them back and introduced them to Romeo and Juliet. Trixie Hobbitses and Stephen Blakley serenaded the crowd with a parody of “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” from The Sound of Music – “Thirteen Going on Fourteen”. The altered lyrics brought to light how amusingly creepy and ridiculous the premise of the story was, all the while in ironic contrast to Trixie and Stephen’s adorable displays of affection.

Next, we have a gender transcending number with Rear Admiral Ziggy Starbutts as Twelfth Night’s Viola/Cesario. Ziggy sashayed on stage to a jaunty tune in a full suit, top hat, and a sparkly mustache. As the dance number progressed, she tap danced her way into a flowy dress and presented herself to be Viola, before shedding even that to reveal “Olivia” scrawled on her stomach with an arrow pointing downward, and “Orsino” above her rear.

No Shakespeare night is complete without Lion King Hamlet. Draco Muff-Boi and Ginger Femmecat took to the stage as the titular character and his lover. Ginger brought vividly to life the ethereal and delicate Ophelia, while Draco’s Hamlet appropriately brooded and sulked around the stage. With Ginger drowning in a mist from a squirt bottle and Draco expiring from poison, the routine came to an end with a proper Hamlet ending.

The second supernatural act of the night saw Jaspurr Moans as The Tempest’s Ariel. No, not the mermaid. This Ariel was more bird-like and danced sensually to enchantingly stormy music, ensnaring the audience with her routine.

Another spellbinding routine, the second last act was Lithium Little, Taylor Mayde, and Leeloo Oleander as the Wyrd Sisters from the cursed Scottish play. This bewitching display had the three sisters gyrating against fittingly ominous music with fireplay a consistent motif throughout the spellbindingly eerie number. The unearthly performance ended with the foretelling of Macbeth’s rise and fall, with a flash of fire through the crown.

Last but not least is Adam Stargasm’s debut as Julius Caesar, alongside Effie Alexandra, Kitty Glitter, Hairy von Heels, Princess Iwannaleia, Seamus Fit-It-In, and Stephen Blakley. This entertaining yet increasingly chaotic number captured perfectly the tumultuous nature of politics. And in true Shakespearean tragedy fashion, everybody died.

All in all, Bardlesque was much like many other Geekenders ventures, clever and entertaining. Even accumulating a pile of bodies on stage had the audience in stitches. To catch more of Geekenders ventures, coming up on August 18th is Lord of the Schwings: A Tolkien Burlesque Night at the Rio Theatre. Or if you want to see more Shakespearean ventures, click here to get tickets to Slumber Here.

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God of Comics – Batwoman #6

God Of Comics, Reviews

August 15, 2017

Batwoman #6 (DC Comics)

There’s ways to do the good-guy-gone-bad story and make it work. The more successful ones have to play into the character doing the switch: what motivation do they have for going bad? What are their tools? What does that look like for their relationships? And – this is a big one – can they come back from it? Do you want them to?

Marvel utterly fails when answering any of the questions on this list. They made Tony Stark into a fascist and spent a decade trying to fix him, turned their core heroes into mass murderers and then had to reboot their universe to save them, and then turned the moral center of their whole universe into a Nazi. So, you know. They suck.

DC, on the other hand…

We’ve ragged on DC Comics in the past, but their Rebirth event has led to a rebirth of the creativity and core concepts that make DC’s properties great. Pretty much everything they’re publishing at this point is worth taking a look at and more than half of it is worth collecting. They started doing operatic scale stories again and rooting them in place with some of the best writers the industry has.

The two writers working on this title? They are among them. James Tynion IV and Marguerite Bennett are fucking fantastic. James has a talent for building character and mythology and Marguerite plays in mythology with the same difficulty that fish find in swimming. This is to say, she lives in myth. You show her a myth and she’ll expand it, grow it, cultivate it.

No character in DC Comics needs a myth-pert quite like Batwoman does. She’s unique among the Bat-family, both where she stands in relation to Bruce and what made her pick up the mantle. We all know that Bruce’s mom’s name is Martha, but her maiden name was Kane. She had a brother named Joe who was in the military, and that brother had a couple of twins: the surviving twin is Kate, which makes Batwoman Bruce’s cousin.

It gets better. Joe is a colonel who got into diplomacy. When Kate was a child, she and her mom and her sister got kidnapped and dad led a rescue operation that saw her mom and sister die. Kate got into the military and excelled, but then was kicked out under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and lost the one thing she’d built her life around.

She bummed around for a bit. Got drunk a lot. Had a fling with Renee Montoya. Was wandering through an alley in Gotham and got mugged and beat the crap out of her attackers, turned around and saw… she saw Batman. He said something about expecting that to go differently and then took off and she watched and thought to herself That. I want to do that.

Her dad helped her. Finished her training and put her through some black-ops stuff, got her the equipment she needed, helped her keep it together. She met Batman and started working with him, not knowing who she was (which, I imagine, made Hannukah a special kind of celebration. Did I mention Kate is Jewish, Martha was Jewish, and therefore Batman is a Jew?).

One question sort of bugged the astute reader, though: how did Joe put all this stuff together? James was kind enough to answer, giving us a villain like nothing else – a black-ops unit based on Batman himself that Joe was putting together for Kate to lead, but by the time he has ready to bring her into the fold it was too late. Bruce had already put together a team for her, and Bruce’s code had affected Kate and her way of thinking. She helped take down her father.

And from out of all that you get this, a Batwoman solo series. It is steadily moving towards the dream-like art and narrative that was the hallmark of the series prior and this is the best thing, the sort of thing that might help us put the grimdark past behind us. It’s also why you need a writing team this strong, though, one that can dig into Kate’s past and present to define her future.

Here, we get a look at the darkest timeline, a quick look at a possible waiting future. There, Kate has embraced the fate her father built for her and is looking to turn all the power that gives her on Gotham. We caught a glimpse of this before, but here James and Marguerite dig into the guts of the thing and show us why Kate went bad.

This comic is a little bit more than awesome and a return to form, so if you get the chance to read it? Do so. You will not be disappointed.

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Bye, Marvel.

Books & Writing, Culture, Events, Fail, Opinion

August 14, 2017

I have an awesome geeky friend who happens to be a girl (like about eighty-ninety percent of the writers on this site). She knows more about Star Wars and Star Trek and Doctor Who than I do and she’s flirting with comics. She liked Captain America as a kid and we keep getting DC Superhero Girls stuff for her niece (who loves Batgirl). She likes Spider-Gwen and Monstress, mostly, but she also really digs the movies that’ve come out, especially Captain America. She bought a Cap shirt and wore it a lot for years, but these days it’s gathering dust in a closet.

“Can’t wear it anymore,” says she, when asked. “Movie Cap is still cool and that’s the one I like, but comics Cap? I get weird looks from people when I walk into a comic shop with it. One time, a guy got really excited and started talking to me about racial purity and, well, yeah. Comic Cap is a Nazi now.”

Another guy I know was raised in a casually racist household. His parents and his family believed that anyone with a skin tone darker than theirs was genetically inferior. The thing that got him thinking and changed his mind? Marvel Comics. Specifically, Black Panther. Marvel Comics opened his mind, changed his world. He was digging the comics but hated when it crossed over with Secret Empire.

“Sure, the racists are the bad guys, but didn’t Sam Wilson apologize to a bunch of racists for being black?” says he. “Like, the good guys are telling racists it’s okay to be racists. Also, Captain America is a Nazi? Fuck you.”

I grew up Jewish. There’s a lot of fear that comes with being a Jew in any era. We get blamed for a lot of troubles that we have no power over and nothing to do with because it was politically expedient to do so and political and historical inertia is a thing.

“Jews control the banks and Hollywood!” racists like to say. A lot of us work in the financial sector and entertainment because those were the only two industries we were legally allowed to work in at the dawn of the twentieth century. We get blamed for playing by the rules that other people forced on us, but that ties into a popular Jewish saying: This, too, shall pass.

Still, it’s always inspiring to see the impact we’ve had on the cultural landscape. We invented and refined comic books. The characters in them? The heroes? We largely created them. Captain America and Superman were both Jewish inventions built around concepts of decency, of sticking up for the underdog. Both of them were politically motivated and both of them helped defeat racists in the real world: Captain America helped shame America into getting involved with World War II and Superman did a lot to take down the KKK.

DC Comics has had a lot of problems over the past decade, but they seem to be picking themselves up. Their comics are full of self-contained stories and they’ve seen a gradual increase in sales to go along with it as they expand and create minority and legacy heroes. Marvel, on the other hand, has been focusing on interconnected crossovers where you need to buy more than one title to figure out what’s going on and famously blamed diversity for their flagging sales.

Their latest big dumb crossover event infected more than a dozen of their titles and also turned Captain America into a Nazi – he sided with his enemies at Hydra, killed a bunch of people, turned fascist and tried to conquer the world and install genetic purity and all the other hallmarks of Nazi idiocy.

And now, it’s over.

Marvel’s latest big stupid event crossover thing where they want you to buy all their comics to have some inkling of understanding what’s going on? The idiot thing that interrupts the stories you actually care about and replaces it with one that marginalizes those stories and characters? The one that turned the conscience of Marvel Comics into a Nazi to hit a sales bump and saw ever-decreasing returns to all their titles? The one proposed by the Trump supporter in charge of Marvel, who had a failed Republican politician that thought the school-to-prison pipeline made good business sense turn the creation of two Jews into a Nazi? It just ended. They’re already planning to retcon it out of existence, but it ended.

It’s over.

And so is my time with Marvel Comics. It’s been a while since we touched anything Marvel related with the whole God of Comics; the last one hinted at this stance but I just want to be clear about where we stand as actual Nazis in real life hold rallies and start murdering people again – we will not review, promote, or have anything to do with Marvel until Nick Spencer and Ike Perlmutter no longer work at that company.

We’ll talk about the movies, the Netflix series, all the things that have nothing to do with either of those people – and we want to stress that we do believe that they are people because they are people, a simple observation that neither would give us given that pretty much everyone here is a minority of some type.

I’d like to say that it’s a loss. I’ll miss Spider-Gwen and Hawkeye and Black Panther. I’d say about a third of my collection is Marvel Comics and I’ll be holding onto them because I can happily remember what was. And I’m sure that we’ll get comics worth reading from Marvel again, because this, too, shall pass.

But I cannot, in good conscience, support a company that thinks turning their moral center into a Nazi is good business sense. And I cannot support a writer or an executive that do not see me as a person and would rather inspire those that would see me and my family and the people I care about dead.

Good-bye for now, Marvel. It’s been fun.

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