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God of Comics – Shirtless Bear Fighter! #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 22, 2017

Shirtless Bear Fighter! #1 (Image Comics)

We do a lot of deep delving here at Living Myth Magazine. We try to look at the impact and history of characters and story concepts, what they mean in the context of their time and what they add to the living narrative we all exist within. We look at mature comics and comics that are actually mature, comics meant for kids and teens and adults. We dig into the guts of a thing to learn more about a thing. Subtext is everything. Nothing happens in a vacuum and there’s always more to a story than just the story itself.

Except sometimes… sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes there’s just a naked man in the woods who fights bears.

Shirtless Bear Fighter, they call him. They say he was raised by bears after being found in the woods as an infant, already fully bearded. He grew up among the bears, learning their ways, but he was always an outsider due to his human appearance and great bloody strength. He was raised on flapjacks – never pancakes, just flapjacks – and maple syrup. He fought with the bears to protect the land from human greed… but then something happened. A tragedy.

And now?

Now, he fights bears.

Now, he protects us from the bears.

But the bears have come anyway. They cannot be stopped or reasoned with, devil bears that tear through the puny military might of humankind. Only one man can help us and he might not own clothing. Thankfully, he has a bearplane. And a bearhouse. He can, must, and will fight all of the bears. All of the bears.

Somewhere out there, his adoptive brother awaits: Brother Bear. The mightiest bear that ever lived. A terrifying presence with nothing but contempt for humanity. Brother Bear cannot be stopped or reasoned with. Shirtless Bear Fighter is not sure if can protect us from Brother Bear but he will die trying.

Writers Sebastian Girner and Jody LeHeup dare to bring us the comic retelling of the greatest warrior humankind will ever know: a shirtless man who fights bears. Artists Mike Spicer and Nil Vendrell have the courage needed to render every punch, every kick, every German Suplex. Come. Witness. There is much glory to be had in the tale of Shirtless Bear Fighter!

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God of Comics – Heathen #2

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 21, 2017

Heathen #2 (Vault Comics)

This is the second printing of this comic and I don’t care. You need to know about this comic.

I don’t know how I missed this and it’s another title that I owe knowledge of to Big Pete and his awesome staff (support your local comic shop, guys, you’ll never know what you’re missing if you don’t go in). This here comic is rooted in heavy Norse mythology and deals with a curse that Odin laid down on his head Valkyrie, Brynhild, basically trapping her in a ring of fire unless someone could love her purely.

So, one Viking shield maiden – Aydis – takes it upon herself to go and become the shield maiden for this Valkyrie after she’s driven out of her tribe for being a lesbian (her would-be lover is simply married off to some schmuck). This issue finds her on her quest and the other Aesir getting involved because these are Viking gods and they’re not going to sit by and let anything slip past them.

This comic is the best sort of mythic world-building, taking pre-existing mythology and paying heed to it while moving it forward and doing some fascinating things. The Aesir and Vanir and Vikings are all recognizable, but the devil is in the details and this mythology has no place for the devil; there’s simply people both divine and mortal doing the best they can with their whims and ambitions.

Natasha Alterici is writing and drawing this; it’s her first time writing comics but you wouldn’t know it. This title is handled with an expert’s touch for everything, from dialogue to character design. The world she’s made feels rough and worn-in, the characters she’d made strong and fragile and flawed. They’re human, regardless of whatever else they might be. The whole of this comic is tragic and readable and above all perfect, and I can’t recommend this enough.

This is tremendous work and you should be reading it.

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136

God of Comics – Crosswind #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 20, 2017

Crosswind #1 (Image Comics)

It’s a brand new comic that we’re promoting sight unseen for one very important reason: Gail Simone.

Gail is fresh off wrapping up Clean Room, a mind-bending exploration of themes that leaked out of Twin Peaks and Lovecraft and was one of the better high-brow horror comics to simmer in the comic consciousness over the past couple of years. Gail is good at horror: the best comic to rupture out of the enforced grimdark nu52 was her take on Batgirl, which was both grim and dark and led to her run on Red Sonja.

When Red Sonja is the light and happy alternative to Batgirl, DC Comics was doing something wrong. They fixed that, thankfully, and we still have Barbara Gordon dealing with her serial killing brother and a complete take on the Red Sonja legend, so really every world is better off.

Gail is working with artist Cat Staggs, best known for some of the crispest line work you’re going to see in comics. Cat’s worked on a plethora of titles ranging from Indiana Jones to the Avengers to X-Files and Supergirl, and she brings an incredible level of detail and shifting perspectives to each. She’s got a talent for spotting the angles that work best for each tales she works on, and both Gail and Cat have come up with something that sounds like it could be a lot of fun.

We all remember Freaky Friday, right? Or any of that ilk of story, where two minds swap bodies (see also Farscape, because everyone should see Farscape)? It happens to people in fiction sometimes – Wolverine and Spider-man, for example. In this comic, it’s happening to a deadly Mafia hitman working out of Chicago and a random but downtrodden housewife.

So, good-person housewife is in the body of a killer and is going to have to deal with his politics and problems. The hitman is in the body of a housewife in a bad relationship and a bad place, and his tolerance for all of that is probably not going to be great. The reason for the swap is something they’re both going to have to discover but after Clean Room, well, I’ve already bought the ticket and I’m here for the ride.

You should be, too. This is going to be awesome.

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173

God of Comics: Martian Manhunter / Marvin the Martian Special #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 19, 2017

Martian Manhunter / Marvin the Martian Special #1 (DC Comics)

Alright, two quick things to begin the week.

The first? We were sort of swamping our feed and page with comics every Wednesday. Our reasons for this were honest: Wednesday is when new comics hit the stands and we wanted to share some stuff that we thought was cool, but it’s overwhelming the way we were doing it. We’re gonna spread the love throughout the week. Make this a little more palatable.

And two: DC Comics is doing a crossover with some of their biggest characters and the classic Looney Toons this month. There’s gonna be a host of these things and their chalk-full of comic madness, the sort of thing that Marvel missed the boat on with their whole chaos thing a few years back. They missed the boat: Nazi Steve Rogers could have done a whole thing with Donald Duck.

So, good on DC for seeing this opportunity and nabbing it. Even better on DC Comics for making the most of the chance by putting some damn fine writers and artists on the project – the likes of Steve Orlando and Frank J. Barbiere and Jim Fanning on writing, John Loter and Jerome K. Moore on art. All of them are excellent and so is this comic.

It’s a tale told in two parts, one in DC style and one like a classic cartoon.

The DC-style story is comic tragedy, the sort of tale that easily fits into continuity without any issues. J’onn, the Martian Manhunter, becomes aware of an extra-dimensional telepathic message being sent to Martians, and he builds a gate to answer it. He’s met by the last Martian of a different dimension – Marvin – and the two greet one another as friends with sympathy and respect.

J’onn is then horrified to learn that Marvin is there to murder every last human.

Marvin tells of how the humans of his home dimension ruined everything, giving into greed and destroying their own ecology and one another, and when the Martians tried to help them they did the same to the Martians until only Marvin was left. J’onn tries to tell him his humans aren’t like that but Marvin isn’t taking any chances, and every effort J’onn makes to stop the destruction Marvin causes is met with hostility by the humans he’s trying to protect.

It’s great and poignant and ends with J’onn sending Marvin home and trying to make peace with the humans he’s just saved and starts both humanity and J’onn down a path of greater understanding.

The Looney Toons story focuses on Marvin trying to destroy Earth because it obscures his view of Venus only to run into the Martian Manhunter. Here, Marvin is driven to madness by the lack of power he has when compared to J’onn, who is another Martian. It’s all kinds of great.

It’s two high-quality comics for the price of one, and as of this publication (2017-06-19), it’s on shelves. Get into your comic shop and grab it, because this sort of comic magic is a rarity and you’re going to want to read it for yourself.

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195

God of Comics – Tomboy #11

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 13, 2017

Tomboy #11 (Action Lab Entertainment)

Intended for mature audiences. No shit. Let us count the ways.

Tomboy is a comic about a magical girl in the real world fighting government and corporate corruption. It’s a bloody mess that happens to be juxtaposed against a cute bright art style that makes the violence much more horrific on every level. And there is some terrible violence here, as a corporation has poisoned a town and paid off the government and might also have a god on their side because the magical girl is a god and doesn’t know it yet.

This comic is complex, guys. It’s probably the best thing to come out of Action Lab, which is nothing to sneeze at – Action Lab has some amazing stuff and amazing titles, ranging from Miraculous to Archon to Princeless, but Tomboy holds a special place in my heart.

Writer Mia Goodwin has spent her time on this title slowly building a complex mythology and world that feels like ours, only overlaid with some external and subtle force that is only just beginning to creep back into the edges of reality. The few in the know are manipulating forces far beyond their comprehension for their own ends, while other powers quietly move around the world to carry out their own ambitions.

Meanwhile, a mad god has been reborn in the body of a teenage girl and is hunting down the evils around her and exacting a terrible price for that evil but now everything is coming to a head and I need this is trade, Action Lab, I need trades of this comic the same way that I need oxygen or coffee.

Every last character has been expertly drawn out so that we have an emotional investment in everyone, and the art does a masterful job of conveying the passions of this world and everyone in it. We’re working towards what feels like a climactic bloodbath and this is one of those comics you’re going to want to read beginning to end. Hunt down those back issues and crack ’em open; this comic is worth the effort.

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154

God of Comics – Red Rising #2

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 13, 2017

Red Rising #2 (Dynamite Entertainment)

A wave of dystopian science fiction has come out recently, but few come even close to the quality of Pierce Brown’s trilogy of Red Rising, Golden Son, and Morning Star. Not even close, not in terms of writing or character or concept or execution. It’s amazing, and if you haven’t read the books yet, well…

Check this out: a man and his people have been genetically engineered to be miners on Mars, helping to terraform that planet for colonization to save the whole of humanity. The work is dangerous and many of them die and there is risk involved. They live short and fragile lives for the betterment of our whole species, and when he’s caught breaking the law by going to a park with his wife, he and his wife are punished by whipping. His wife sings a song that’s been outlawed during this punishment, a peaceful protest that gets her executed.

The man goes to claim her body and is set for execution because of it, but he survives the execution. A group of rebels – the Sons of Aries – rescue him, but he wants nothing to do with them. Yes, what the authorities did to him and his wife is terrible, but they’re working for the betterment of the species, to make Mars habitable. The actions of the terrorist rebels will only make things worse, only slow things down so that his people continue to suffer until Mars is ready for habitation. Nothing they argue or show him can sway him from this, or so he thinks.

He is shown that the terraforming was completed centuries ago.

His people were left down there to die for the greed of others.

That’s the first few chapters of the first book. I’m not spoiling the rest, you really should go out and read them all because they are very much that good, and after that you should read the comics.

A lot of writers come to comics and do the easy thing, the adaption. I make that sound like a simple process but it isn’t, and I know that – the difficulty of translating a work from book to comic is hard and leads to the debate of which is better or deeper (read the Last Unicorn for an example of a work where it could be argued either way). Pierce Brown and Rik Hoskin took a different route, however, and decided instead to take a look at things from the perspective of a different character.

Think of the comics, then, as Ender’s Shadow and the books as Ender’s Game. This isn’t an accurate allusion but it is close enough to cover the general concept of what is being built here. Artist Eli Powell has his work cut out for him, bringing the rich tapestry of culture and science that Pierce Brown wove to visual life, and he succeeds at something that many would consider impossible.

Red Rising is a difficult book that looks at the complexities of revolution and how things change, about what a toxic society looks like and what can be done to fight it. It’s beautiful and challenging and amazing, and if you like the idea of stories that will make you think and inspire conversation then this is something you really should look into.

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150

God of Comics – Jem and The Holograms #26

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 13, 2017

Jem and The Holograms #26 (IDW Publishing)

From the solicit: Truly Outrageous Part Three! It all comes down to this oversized final issue! As the Holograms try to come together in paradise, their secrets (and their rivalries) continue to threaten to tear them apart.

Final issue?

Final issue?!?

Why? Why is this the final issue? Is it, like, the end of the season? Please? Because I love this comic and I want it to go on and this actually would be the perfect place for this comic to end a first season.

In a little over two years, we’ve seen Jerrica and her sisters go from being lost in the shuffle of the world to claiming a spotlight and being forced to mature as individuals and as a family. We’ve seen love bloom between enemies and the price of fame, we’ve had Jerrica come clean about who she is to her love interest. We’ve had the Misfits crash and burn and resurrect, seen everyone given more depth than one would have ever expected, and we only just got the Stingers…

We’ve seen Kelly Thompson flex her creative muscles and give us a truly outrageous cast of characters while evolving all of them, juggling a multitude while making everyone grow. We’ve seen Pizzazz – Pizzazz, of all people – have a big damn hero moment that felt earned and didn’t take away from the fact that she will always be Jem’s nemesis.

And the art: there’s been several artists on this book and each of them has captured a sense of mania and movement, glamrock updated for a modern aesthetic that feels magical. You can almost hear the songs drifting off the page, and if you don’t believe reading is a drug, that you can stare at dead trees for hours while vividly hallucinating, you need to stop what you’re doing and read this comic.

IDW Publishing has made a name for themselves by taking old properties and cashing in on nostalgia, but then making the best version of those old properties. Their iterations of Transformers, TMNT, Ghostbusters – hell, even MASK – are all impossibly good. This version of these characters deserve all of the things: a cartoon, a movie, a video game, an album.

The real trick is that Kelly Thompson took everything that was even halfway decent in the original and made it better, then took what was already good and improved upon it. Let us be clear in saying that Jem and the Holograms was Metalopocalypse for the glamrock set, where destruction and mayhem were part of the world and everything revolved around the music, man. This comic feels like a world where that is on the verge of happening, a precipice world where one sung note could push the whole world into a creative madness that would make everything okay.

We need to see that world, and if this is the final glimpse any of us will ever get into it, then you owe it to yourself to open the pages and look at how good the world could be, how mad and amazing. Get in now. Stay. These pages sing.

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121

God of Comics – Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps #22

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 13, 2017

Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps #22 (DC Comics)

The Green Lanterns always kinda mystified me.

Sure, yes, the Lanterns themselves are wicked cool, and I’m showing my age by using phrases like ‘wicked cool.’ Essentially, they’re a galactic defense force that have weaponized imagination through willpower. That’s awesome. They dip in a chromatic spectrum and use the color green to create whatever they want through willpower alone – they can fly, understand languages, know laws, and communicate with one another from galaxies distant. There’s a whole corp of them out there, an organization with its own laws and culture, and a single Lantern is given a swath of the galaxy to protect.

It harkens back to the old idea of ‘one riot, one ranger,’ an old saying out of Texas that applied to the idea that a single man could maintain order over large swaths of people all by himself. Like Texas itself, however, there is a dark corrupt underbelly to the Green Lanterns.

The corruption starts with the people that empowered the corps in the first place. Guardians, they’re called, but they’re pretty much responsible for every cosmic thing that goes wrong in the DCU and are, collectively, a bunch of jerks. Case in point: they decided they didn’t like the color yellow and so trapped the emotion yellow corresponds with in the battery they made that lets them weaponize green. This resulted in the Green Lanterns being weak against the color yellow and pissed the hell out of the intelligent being they imprisoned and spun propaganda about for eons.

So, yeah, the Lanterns were all kinds of powerful unless you came at them with, say, a yellow butter knife, and then they were helpless before you. Weird.

One of the most powerful and recognized Lanterns, an alien named Sinestro, had it in for his human peer, Hal Jordan. The two of them fought and it’s some of the best writing you’ll find in comic – classic Green Lantern comics featuring Sinestro are some of the best you’ll find. Sinestro went off the beaten path, though, and found himself at odds with the Green Lanterns. In response, he founded the Sinestro Corps, who use fear to weaponize imagination through the color yellow.

Initially, there was war between the two Lantern Corps, but these days they’re trying to work together. The problem is human Lantern Hal Jordan is not exactly the best representative of our species (still better than Guy), and his flaws are… well, they’re many.

The Green Lantern comics are ones I check in with from time to time because they are either passable or great, and my most recent check in revealed one very important thing: they are being written by Robert Venditti, the same demigod that wrote X-O Manowar. Those of you that don’t know about X-O Manowar need to change that, and those of you lucky enough to already be reading this run of comic are envied because I’m now playing catch up.

Sarko’s parentage, though? Well done, Venditti. I missed your clever way with the pen.

V. Ken Marion, Dexter Vines, and Dinei Ribeiro have the task of bringing this comic to life, translating the mania of weaponized imagination into something the rest of us can understand, and their combined efforts are a joy to behold. This comic is awesome, and you should read it.

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121

God of Comics – Dragon Age: Knight Errant #2

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 13, 2017

Dragon Age: Knight Errant #2 (Dark Horse Comics)

Alright. The story continues. This is the first post-Trespasser story in the Dragon Age universe and it’s given us some hints at things.

Looks like the Inquisition continues to exist. I’m happy with that. My heart-broken Lavellan would definitely not give up her fight with the Dread Wolf, nor cut off any other part of her ability to take the fight to anyone that crosses her. She already lost a hand and her love; no need to give up her organization.

My thing is… well, where’s Hawke? Marian was the Champion of Kirkwall and this story is taking place in her city. The new Viscount is her former best friend, and I’m curious to see where the default decision in Dragon Age went. They made Alistair king (which I also did), but we still don’t know if Hawke was left in the fade or not (she totally booted everyone else out in my game and took the fight to the Nightmare, and the only thing that kept Anders sane when he heard was Fenris and the child the three of them were raising).

What’s the deal, Bioware? I need to know. Hawke is a totemic character with me. Also, Anthem looks cool and all but is there any word on Dragon Age 4 other than it’s being worked on?

Anyway, this story. You’ve seen the Magnificent Seven or Seven Samurai, right? If not, do so. The recent take on the western – the one with Chris Pratt – is quite good. The main characters here are reminiscent of two of the characters from there, one a legend and the other an apprentice. The legend is worn out but no one knows it yet, allowing that person to still be a legend. The apprentice knows but is protecting her master while being protected by him.

See, the apprentice, in this case, is an elven thief named Vaea and she’s on the run from a very angry Templar. Elves are very much second-class citizens in the world of Dragon Age, having lost much of their magic, most of their culture, and all of their immortality. Templars, meanwhile, have a pretty dark history in Kirkwall what with the time they tried to murder all mages (my Hawke was a mage, too).

Thing is, Vaea is an elf and the Inquisition’s primary opposition at this point appears to be an actual living Elven God by the name of Solas or the title of Fen’Harel, which means the Dread Wolf. She’s understandably a bit leery of what the Inquisition is up to, or if the people that have contacted her are actually part of the Inquisition at all, but their offer of aid is one she’s going to want to take once the Templar with a hate-on for her shows up.

The writers here are Christina Weir and Nunzio DeFilippis, a married couple who have done TV and comics and manga and all sorts of cools stuff all over the place (and you should check out Dracula Everlasting if you like the whole manga thing). They’ve got a pretty good handle on the whole Dragon Age thing and issue one was a lot of fun. Art is being done by Fernando Heinz Furukawa and colors are being wrought by the incomparable Michael Atiyeh, and between the two of them this book is gorgeous.

If you’re looking for some great and detailed fantasy, this is your jam.

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165

God of Comics – the Unsound #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 6, 2017

The Unsound #1 (BOOM! Studios)

There is a darkness that lives in Cullen Bunn’s soul. It’s not surprising if you’ve read his work before – everything from the Sixth Gun to the Damned to Hellbreak to Magneto has walked a fine line over an endless and howling abyss. As a writer, he plays hopscotch on the edges of madness and brings back honest tales of the nightmares he plays with, a macabre dance of wordplay and slowly dissolving characters.

He’s not playing around this time. There’s that old thing about how cracks let the light in, but sometimes the light is the corrupted rotting heart that ends worlds. That’s what the Unsound is about, people that saw the shattering edge of some unknowable thing and now have to live with.

Artist Jack Cole is in on the game. The architecture and paneling are subtle and hostile, littered with ambient dread that starts with clean light and moves into a cluttered overwhelming morass and it fits the story perfectly. Our story follows a nurse at a mental hospital on her first day, the slow journey there and the quick push over the edge and into an unknowable horror.

If you’ve lived or worked in a mental hospital you know what Cullen is talking about: the preciousness of socks and prayers for quiet, but only a certain kind of quiet. The sterility that isn’t, the thin veneer of enforced calm that pushes back a lingering storm where reality ends and something else begins.

There’s a horror that comes with being called crazy: everything you are and every decision you’ve ever made is suddenly suspect. Your opinions, your agency, your memory and identity all get called into question. You can’t be trusted and even if you recover people will never let you forget that you once fell apart.

We’re introduced to one of the hospitals that was closed due to a lack of funding, pushing insanity onto the streets until people that care come back into power and allowed the place to reopen, but the damage has been done: the funding is cut and these places are understaffed and underpaid and undermaintained.

Some of the crazies came drifting back in but who can say where the other ones went? Some of them died and some of them vanished and someone of them were taken, but the ones that came back came back different. The ones that are cracked can always find more cracks, more light to let in.

Of course, this is a Cullen Bunn story, so there is something wrong with this hospital – black suited authorities who are not what they seem, whispering training dummies, abandoned razor blades, patients with hidden faces and unblinking eyes, all the subtle monsters that make a mind doubt itself.

If your palette runs towards the macabre this will do nicely. Pleasant dreams.

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