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106

God of Comics – Rat Queens #4

God Of Comics, Reviews

July 5, 2017

Rat Queens #4 (Images Comics)

Violet’s got some problems.

I mean, clearly. She’s a dwarf who shaved off her beard in defiance of tradition, left the mountain keep that was her home, and started a small-scale adventuring company called the Rat Queens. Her reasons have a lot of to do with the misogyny and isolation of her native culture, but she left that all behind her.

And she’s done so many things since! Created a family for herself, exposed the corruption lying at the heart of her new home, waged war against an army of orcs to defend her new home, and even saved the world from a Lovecraftian cult that nearly drove everyone she has or would ever meet insane.

Those accomplishments, though? It’s hard to remember when family comes to town.

Family, in this case, is her brother, Barrie. He shaved his beard mostly to annoy her and has been living in her new home city also mostly to annoy her. He’s built up his own band of adventurers called the Cart Kings because seriously, Barrie, we need to talk. I’m pretty sure that mushroom thing isn’t even sentient.

Anyways, things have been weird for the Queens and they’ve just added a new member to their party, a half-orc named Bragha who might take the edge off, so to speak, by adding another edge to their side. It’ll keep Violet from getting cut as much, is what I’m saying. And this is a good thing, given that the Queens are heading into the depths of a dungeon full of traps, monsters, and sentient decor that all wants to kill them.

Seriously, Barrie, the dungeon found sentient decor and you’re stuck with the mushroom thing? I think it might just be your druid’s familiar. Or the start of an invasion from the mushroom kingdom. Because you are not the sharpest axe in the keep.

Kurtis J. Wiebe pens another tale to keep us going, the sort of fable that feels like it spilled off the table of a really good DM and into a comic. We talk to him about that a bit, actually, and you can read his words by clicking here. New artist Owen Gieni adds his special kind of madness to the setting, including giant Canadian Geese because the small ones aren’t bad enough.

If you like tabletop role-playing, you’ll love this comic. If you’ve never done tabletop role-playing but have heard of it and want to see what all the fuss is about, this is a pretty good introduction. Rat Queens is awesome. 

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117

God of Comics – Jem and the Misfits: Infinite #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

July 4, 2017

Jem and The Misfits: Infinite #1 (IDW Publishing)

Happy Independence Day!

Yes, this article should be going live to celebrate the first day of America’s Independence from Britain, where they fought against tyranny (except not) and unified themselves into a country (wrong again) and became the greatest nation on earth (on track until the late seventies).

Among some, there is a linguistic argument between what freedom means to Americans – whether it’s freedom-from or freedom-to. A good chunk of free countries practice or attempt to practice freedom-from, where we try to create societies that are free from prejudice and hatred and corruption. Freedom-to means being free to do things to other people around you. It’s an interesting debate, and one that ties into today’s comic in more ways than one.

The Misfits are the antagonists from the Jem and the Holograms franchise. On the cartoon, they got nowhere near the sort of character development they’ve gotten in the comics, but on the show, they were freedom-to. They made the people around them and one another miserable. The Misfits in the comic started the same way, but we’ve learned more about them since.

Part of that journey has been seeing the origins of the Misfits, and how they went from freedom-from to freedom-to and are now sort of meandering their way back again. These were five talented women who wanted the freedom to pursue their craft and become the artists they knew they could be, but along the way they got lost in the stuff their fame allowed them to get away with.

Consequences caught up with them, though. Freedom-to philosophies are never sustainable over a long enough timeline.

The Misfits lost their label, had to go on reality television to re-invent themselves, managed that and built their own label with the proceeds. They confronted Jem, who threw their illusions back in the face, and Pizzazz is now self-aware enough to know when she’s wrong and went to apologize.

Once there, she discovers that Jem and the Holograms have gone to an alternate dimension; she follows and discovers an alternate reality where Jem rules and everything is powered by Synergy Hologram Technology. This means the Misfits now know Jem’s secret, but also that we’re in a world where the Holograms have lost themselves to freedom-to and need to be moved back towards freedom-from.

Writer Kelly Thompson and artist Jenn St. Onge have never been less than excellent on this title, which is one of IDW Publishing’s best. Do not miss this.

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God of Comics – Bloodshot’s Day Off #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

July 3, 2017

Bloodshot’s Day Off #1 (Valiant Comics)

It was Canada Day up here over the weekend.

July 1st is the day that we celebrate our country – we danced for our independence instead of fighting for it, handled thing diplomatically. We’ve made a lot of mistakes as a country and we’re still making mistakes today, but we’re trying to do better and I like to think that one day, we will.

But you can’t know yourself unless you know your history. You have to know where you’ve been to get where you’re going, and that includes all the terrible things you may have been a part of. In the case of a country, that means knowing the things your country did in your name. Residential schools are as much a part of who we are as anything, and we need to move past that by acknowledging that it happened and striving to do better.

So, this comic.

Bloodshot is a comic about a super secret weapon that was designed to kill a man powerful enough to think himself god. He was a golem, an unstoppable killing machine, but over the past five years we’ve seen him evolve, gain a soul, lose and understand and claim his identity. We’ve seen him strive to do better by acknowledging who and he was and contrasting that to who he is.

He then discovered that he was only one in a long line of such weapons, each a refinement and improvement over the last. There was a Jewish man that was changed in World War II and an African American that was changed in Vietnam and after their wars they were locked on an island until they managed to escape and returned to America, where they helped defeat a virus that was tied to their condition.

As a comic, Bloodshot has dabbled in all sorts of genre – horror, sci-fi, action – and always done something interesting with whatever it is that is being presented. This is something else again, though: this is aftermath. After the war, after the fighting, after the violence – what’s left? Can you ever go home? War changes everything, the trauma of war changes everything, and there’s far too many people that are happy to send soldiers off to die but leave them to their own devices when they return.

These two? They’ve been fighting since their wars and were never given an off day, never allowed to speak to their families, cut off and forced to die and kill and die again. Now that the general public knows about them, though, the government is being forced to acknowledge them and their ridiculous amount of non-stop combat hours, and so both of them are being given shore leave.

We get Holocaust-era Bloodshot going back to say good-bye to the world he knew, visiting the grave of the woman he was supposed to marry, meeting the grandson on his old rabbi. Vietnam-era Bkloodshot goes to make peace with his dying father, a minister who tried to save his son from the war. And both of them – always at one another’s throats – find themselves alone, find themselves relying on one another. It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming and a good place to start if you’re looking to get into Valiant, which, if you like superheroes, you should.

Writer Eliot Rahal does a good job of exploring the aftermath of war from two very different eras and putting two lost people into a modern context. Khari Evans does some beautiful linework, capturing expression and the weight of loss, while colorist Andrew Dalhouse brings out the light and and adds flow to some very emotional moments.

This is a comic about finding family and home when the world has passed you by, when the war is done and aftermath is all that remains. It’s a comic about accepting what was and trying to find a way to be human when war has made you a monster. It’s fantastic and a great way to reflect on what was and what could be.

Happy Canada Day.

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124

God of Comics – Spider-Gwen #21

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 30, 2017

Spider-Gwen #21 (Marvel Comics)

So, I was riding with a friend the other day and we got to talking about comics. It happens. We’re adults and geeks and it’s a thing we do.

Yeah, they just introduced their Wolverine-analogue in Spider-Gwen,” I said. This took him off guard – I don’t really preview or review Marvel Comics these days because they turned Captain America in a Nazi and then said the Nazis actually won the war and the Allies had to cheat to win. Also, Magneto, a Holocaust Survivor, is also being turned into a Nazi because the people running Marvel Comics desperately want their company to go out of business.

What do you mean, Wolverine-analogue?” he asked.

So I had to explain that Spider-Gwen takes place in its own reality and has its own continuity that doesn’t connect to anything, giving writer Jason Latour a chance to explore the Marvel Universe in a completely different way. The world Spider-Gwen inhabits is very different than the one we’re used to, with the inciting incident of that difference having taken place long before Gwen Stacy got the spider-powers instead of Peter Parker.

That’s why Captain America is a black woman, why Matt Murdock is the leader of the Hand and the Kingpin of Crime, why Norman Osborne is a good person and philanthropist and his son Harry is part of a super soldier program.

So, Wolverine…?” my friend asked.

Oh, in this world they call him something different.”

Yeah?”

Yeah.”

What do they call him?”

Mr. Murder-Hands.”

My friend had to pull over until the laughter stopped.

I explained that Logan, in this world, is living with a curse – he bears the life of every person he’s killed. He’s also an agent of SHIELD, their specialist when it comes to acquisitions and retrieval, and he works with the analogue of Kitty Pryde, who is a scary ninja person who walks through walls and also has claws because why not? Currently, they’re trying to get Harry Osborne away from Gwen, who is trying to rescue him from an overdose of the same formula that turned Peter Parker into the Lizard and eventually killed him.

That sounds awesome,” my friend said.

It is,” I answered.

Then we drove to Big Pete’s and he bought all the Spider-Gwen trades, because how do you not?

Why aren’t you talking about this?” he asked.

So then we got into a conversation about Captain America being a Nazi and all the stuff that goes with it. He didn’t believe me and had to look at those comics himself, finally throwing down the comic in disgust when he got to the thing about Naziism being an offshoot of Hydra rather than the other way around.

That’s some bullshit, right there.”

No kidding.”

“They actually expect me to buy that Hydra isn’t Nazis?” he asked. “I’m not five.”

“I’d like to say that’s the most insulting part of it, but…” I trailed off and he nodded in sympathy.

“Kids are going to grow up with this,” he said. “As we get real life Nazis running America, they guy Jews created to shame America into fighting Nazis gets turned into one.”

“That’s pretty much it, yes,” I answered.

“Does this Nick Spencer guy think we’re idiots?”

“Well, he was a failed Republican politician who advocated for the school-to-prison pipeline, so there’s that,” I said. My friend looked at me like I was insane, but it’s the truth. He checked, shook his head as he got back into his car.

“The CEO of Marvel Comics is a friend of Donald Trump and Steven Bannon?” he asked.

“You mean Ike?” I asked. “Yep. He gave a million dollars of Marvel’s money to the Trump campaign via Bannon, and that’s why I can’t give Marvel any of my money.”

Spider-Gwen is pretty great, though,” he said. “Why not talk about Spider-Gwen and mention the whole Nazi America First thing in the same article?”

What, like transcribe our conversation?” I asked. He nodded. “I could do that.”

And now I have.

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148

God of Comics – Jem and The Holograms: Infinite #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 29, 2017

Jem and The Holograms: Infinite #1 (IDW Publishing)

Okay, good. Jem and the Holograms continues to be a thing that you can read on a monthly basis (two times a month if you include Jem and the Misfits, which you should because it is also great). Kelly Thompson has done for this franchise what people at IDW Publishing tend to do – take the best parts of every iteration on an old intellectual property, throw them in a blender, and make them awesome.

In this case, though, outrageous might be a better word.

Here, watch this. You’ll see what I mean.

To wit: Jerrica has four adopted sisters and they started a band that sounded great except that Jerrica has stage fright, so they use the artificial intelligence with holographic technology that her father invented to create a different persona for Jerrica. This is how she became Jem and the Holograms got noticed in a big way and entered a battle of the bands being put on by the Misfits, an alt-punk band with some interesting power ballads and musical ambitions that would make most rock gods blush.

One girl from each band fell in love with the other, a super fan of the Misfits tried to kill the Holograms, the Holograms took it personally, the lead singer from the Misfits crashed her car while drunk, there was something to do with a bear, a third band called the Stingers got the Misfits kicked off their label because their lead singer was in love with Jem and thought that would make her love him (it didn’t), the artificial intelligence turned everyone rock-goth for a while, and then the Misfits started their own label after drumming up interest with a reality show.

Deep breaths. Okay. We’re all caught up.

This is the beginning of a crossover event that sees Jem and the Holograms entering a parallel world with the Misfits, a world where Jerrica’s father never died and the artificial intelligence seems to have gotten wider application. And if this sounds like a chance for artists Stacy Lee, Jen Hickman, and Sarah Stern to cut loose and do something wicked cool, well, you’re right. It is and they do.

And Kelly Thompson continues to juggle complex characters and their complicated relationships while brushing that fine line between madness and genius and cute. It’d hard to look away and why would you want to? There’s something magical about this book and these characters and this story, and if you haven’t picked up this comic yet now is the time to girl the hell up and dive in.

This comic is unspeakably cool.

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164

God of Comics – Clue #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 28, 2017

Clue #1 (IDW Publishing)

I think it’s safe to say that IDW Publishing will take anything that anyone even kind of liked from their childhoods, reduce it down to the best parts of itself, and then make that into a comic. They did it with Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Jem and the Holograms and even Mask, but apparently just making the best cartoon-based comics is no longer good enough for them and so they’re going into board games.

Not modern board games, either. The old stuff. Clue.

And, yes, Clue did get turned into a pretty good movie with three different endings and the studio wouldn’t confirm that for years, letting people argue over the end of the movie in a supreme moment of narrative trolling. I can only hope the comics follow suit (they are~! – ed.).

Getting Paul Allor to write is a good start. Dude has a Patreon where he teaches people to write comics, which you can find by clicking here. He’s also the talent behind a lot of IDW’s other best titles, comics that include Transformers and G.I. Joe. What I’m trying to say is that he has the credentials to make this comic something special and a knack for turning potential into fact.

The set up is one we should all be familiar with: a man turns up dead via murder most foul at his own dinner party and all the guests are suspects. The usual crowd – Professor Plum, Miss Scarlet, Mrs. Peacock, et al – are all present even if their whereabouts during the crime were unaccounted for. Paul will have some twists and turns that no one will see coming until they happen, but the clues are being laid out.

Are you detective enough to solve this crime?

Just to add the splatter to the body, IDW has assigned Nelson Daniel on art. You might have seen his work in Judge Dredd or ROM or, if you really want to see him cut loose, Wild Blue Yonder. Nelson has a good sense for framing and how to make every page count, and you’d be surprised how much subtle detail he can work into a frame.

So, to tally – IDW Publishing is doing what they do best by giving Paul Allor a chance to do what he does best while Nelson Daniels does what he does best. All evidence points to this being the best overall comic out this week, and you should do everything in your power not to miss it.

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178

God of Comics – Batman / Elmer Fudd Special #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 27, 2017

Batman / Elmer Fudd Special #1 (DC Comics)

The insanity continues as Elmer Fudd declares Bat season and heads into Gotham to hunt the Bat… and Bruce Wayne.

DC has done a pretty great job with their comic heroes-Looney Toons crossovers: all of them have featured a story based in the comics-world followed by another that’s more in tune with the old cartoons. In our opinion, the best of them so far has been Martian Manhunter / Marvin the Martian, though that takes away from none of the others and it would be worth your time to track down the whole set. One-shots though these may be, the comic-side of these things fits in pretty well with actual continuity and adds depth to the characters involved, while the cartoony side of the issues have been just plain fun.

Here, writer Tom King turns Elmer Fudd into someone to be feared – one of the top assassins in the world, an unstoppable force that has more in common with the Saint of Killers than the character we’re familiar with. He carries the ridiculous accent but uses it like menace as we get a Sin City-style intro and narration, him tracking down a low-rent assassin who murdered Elmer’s wife and claims Bruce Wayne ordered the hit.

Artist Byron Vaughns illustrates a Gotham that dripped out of a Bosch painting, a monstrous place of cracks and shadows where light is an unwelcome memory. He draws inspiration from the classic Looney Tunes for his character designs, twisting the familiar just enough that you’ll recognize familiar faces through the gloom.

The combination is a heady mix of dread and the absurd, of things that should not be working working anyway through sheer force of will and the combined talent of two artists that know the edges of their craft. This will be the best of these crossovers, the one you’re going to want to read the most.

Be like Elmer and hunt this down. Welcome to Bat season.

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252

God of Comics – Bankshot #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 26, 2017

Bankshot #1 (Dark Horse Comics)

Alex di Campi is a mad genius.

I feel like we need to start there. She’s the person that brought us Archie vs Predator, and if you haven’t read that crossover you should probably go and take a look: she successfully combined the wholesomeness and weird underbelly of the Archie comics with the bloodlust-driven sanity of the Predator franchise. It was a thing that shouldn’t have worked, but she used the black arts and her pen to stitch two worlds together in a way that no one could have foreseen (but that you can now find at your local comic shop).

With Bankshot, she’s merging the themes of Robin Hood with the modern landscape. How would the world react to someone physically taking on the greed and evils of Wall Street – you know, when they’re bribing politicians to pass legislation that physically results in the rest of us dying (see Trumpcare, or, as it should probably be called, Republicans don’t care about you)?

See, Wall Street has gotten pretty good at dealing with non-violent protests by making them look idiotic (see the demonization of the Occupy movement) or making them look violent (see any BLM protest) or using violence to suppress them (see the NDAP). They’re used to cracking down on groups while those groups die, and have built an impressive oligarchal system that’s going to kill them in the long term whole reaping profits in the short term.

Reaping. Get it? Because they’re killing all of us.

Thing is, Robin Hood started as a selfish ass with good public relations, and her hero is going to be doing the same thing. His name is Marcus King, and he’s being called a terrorist while giving the image of doing right by the downtrodden – but that’s all it is, an image inspired by the old Robin Hood myth, until he meets someone who plans to blackmail him into being the real deal.

If that doesn’t sound like awesome comics you haven’t been paying attention.

Art duties are being handled by Chris Cross – whose are will make you stand up and pay attention – and he is a goddamn living legend. Seriously, this guy has worked on everything from Blood Syndicate for DC’s Milestone imprint to Captain Marvel for Marvel to Archer & Armstrong and Bloodshot over at Valiant. When he works on a comic it’s because that comic has something to say about the era in which it’s being created.

Either Alex di Campi or Chris Cross alone would be enough to get me excited about this comic, but both of them together hardly seems fair. Throw in the content of what they’re working on and it’s impossible to not be interested in what they’re putting out.

This right here? This is the comic I’m most excited about reading this week, and you should be, too.

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268

God of Comics – Strong Female Protagonist

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 23, 2017

Strong Female Protagonist (Web Comic)

What, you thought we only talked traditional comics? Hell no. We’ve talked webcomics before, most notably discussing the evolving themes of Sinfest over the past seventeen years. Go us. Go Sinfest. To close the week we’re going to return to the bread and butter of the mainstream comic, superheroes.

Superheroes take a lot of flak for the holes in their delivery. “If Reed Richards or Tony Stark are so good at science, why haven’t their inventions changed the world around them?” is a question that gets asked a lot. So do questions about things like property damage and non-powered criminals, about how vigilantes would fit into the justice system. They’re good questions that sometimes get a passing address but are most often ignored in favor of superheroes handle super crime, which no one else could stop.

Okay, that’s great, but we see the likes of Batman and Spider-man and others dealing with day-to-day life, too. Their presence would change the way the world works, or it should. Critics of Batman think he could do more good as Bruce Wayne, fixing economies and infrastructures (which he does) or setting up income equality legislation and scholarships (ditto).

Most attempts to take superheroes into a realistic setting become a sort of cynical dystopia at best (Watchmen, the Dark Knight Returns) at best or grimdark idiocy at worst (the Dark Knight Strikes Again, the Boys).

Strong Female Protagonist takes things in a very different direction.

The main character was Mega Girl, an invulnerable and super strong hero who worked with the government and a team, but she began to question if she was actually doing any good. She revealed her identity on live television, quit the team, and decided to go to school to figure out if there was some better way for her to do good in the world.

Her name is Alison Green and she’s questioning the good she does and the impact her actions have. She wants to believe the best of people but has trouble understanding the greed and selfishness and apathy around her. She’s going to college and trying to learn and trying to figure out the best way to help people.

Along the way, we’ve learned why super science hasn’t made the world better – corporations sign child super-geniuses to contracts and then sit on their inventions, and if you don’t believe that’s a thing you should take a look at the Avro Arrow, electric car research that was squashed in the eighties for big oil profits, or the disinformation about solar power that is still making the rounds.

This comic first got our attention when this started making the rounds:

If you’d prefer to read those pages on the Strong Female Protagonist website, you can do so by clicking here and here.

There’s a lot to unpack there – social expectation, rape culture, confirmation bias… this is outstandingly good writing and characterization in two simple pages. This small sample had us reading through the rest of the comic over the next couple of days, and you can do that for free by clicking here.

We can’t recommend this comic enough. The writing is this good throughout, taking the time to think about the power introduced and the effects they would have on the individual with them and the world around them. Brennan Lee Mulligan is handling the words and pacing and you can tell that a lot of thought has gone into every last beat.

The art is detailed and cute and handles action well, with a couple of battles really driving home how powerful these heroes are. Artist Molly Ostertag starts with black and white and builds into color as the story goes on, but her strong inks and details expressions mean that you get a good sense of these people just from their body language.

Strong Female Protagonist also has a Kickstarter over here for a real-space collection of the first volume, and a donation page where you can support these two. You can find the latter by clicking here. The comic updates every Tuesday and Friday.

Look, a lot of people talk about mature comics, but this is what maturity looks like: this comic is thoughtful and powerful with deep characters and deeper themes.

It’s incredible work and you should read it. Do so by clicking here

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282

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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