MENU

Uncategorized
Category

166

We Are Back

Uncategorized

March 10, 2017

There were some strange happenings. Life happened and it was nerdy and strange and okay, but it lacked the feel of the mythic – and the mythic is where we live. It’s time to come home and talk about the myths that define our lives, the legends that we make our goals, and the way that media impacts our dreams.

Living Myth Magazine.

A pirate organization (we have one ninja who we keep in a box), Living Myth Magazine is interested in explaining why things are cool, what works and what doesn’t, getting into the deep of why a thing matters and what the likely outcome of an event or product is to be.

We can talk movies, comics, politics, religion – any and everything that people use to define ourselves and the world we all share.   

Have you ever considered a career in piracy? Yes, you. You would make a good Dread Pirate Roberts. Join us on our crazed adventure. We will bring ourselves to the horizon. Yar. Click here to learn more about how YOU can join us on our voyage and become our matey., the idea is that a bad thing ish  

 

Read article

378

God of Comics 2015-12-16

Uncategorized

December 15, 2015

All-New X-Men #2All-New X-Men #2

One of the better X-Men comics from before Secret Wars continues to be one of the better X-Men books post Secret Wars, largely by ignoring Secret Wars. The original five X-Men were brought to the present by present Hank McCoy, largely to screw about with present Cyclops, only for the past versions of those characters to upstage the current versions by being generally awesome. Since then, they’ve picked up X-23 – or Wolverine, now that Logan’s dead – Kid Apocalypse, and Oya. Good art plus good characterization equals good comics. All this needs Jean Grey.

 

Axcend #3Axcend #3

Imagine yourself playing an MMORPG or any game that uses a similar interface. Shouldn’t be hard. A lot of us have experienced the sense of wonder and power that comes with playing those games. Now imagine that you could be your character from that game in real life. That’d be cool, right? Unless other people can do that, too, and they’re not good people. That’s the premise of this comic, which would be cool even without the identity-based consideration. It does have that, though, and that might make this comic exceptional. The ride to find out is going to be hella fun.

 

Batgirl #46Batgirl #46

This is an interesting character, both as a metaphorical case study and as a story. In the former case, she was a thoughtful and considered character in the DCU before becoming the ultimate expression of the grimdark nu52 before evolving into the segueway into the more hopeful and entertaining DCYou; she is, in many ways, the soul of the company. In that sense, Batgirl is the soul of DC Comics, the star by which the rest of DC positions itself. As a character, well, her comics are among DC’s best and brightest, and well worth reading. Check ’em out.

 

Batman The Doom That Came To GothamBatman: The Doom That Came To Gotham TPB

We normally don’t mention trades when they come out, which is weird considering trades are what we buy to keep in office. We make rare exceptions for rare works of art, and this is one of them: it’s Batman versus Cthulhu, and anyone that didn’t get to see this when it came out needs to read it this time around. It’s great stuff, featuring a Cthulhu Mythos-compliant Batman and Gotham, with Dick, Jason, and Tim, helping their dad after he unleashes a terrible madness on his city by accident, ruining lives and shattering sanity. It’s breath-taking stuff. Make sure you grab it.

 

Batman and Robin Eternal #11Batman and Robin Eternal #11

You’re reading this, right? You should be. You must be. DC Comics is going out of their way to do a weekly thing, expanding the Bat-mythos in the wake of Bruce losing the Bat. We’re getting strong narrative arcs with Dick, Harper, Tim, and Jason, the re-introduction of Cass Cain, and an increased presence of Spoiler. It’s all good stuff, with an utterly chilling villain that is worthy of the heroes assembled to fight her – a corporation that makes custom people for those that can afford to pay. This issue, we get to learn about their techniques. This should be fun…

 

Clean Room #3Clean Room #3

… but not as much fun as this. Gail Simone is writing a tale about madness and the nature of reality. See, we all live within our subjective perception of reality, but one of the characters in this book has created a space wherein one can enter the core subjective realities of others, and thereby influence the objective reality we all share. It’s a monstrous concept that is played to the hilt, because Gail Simone is awesome and can do things like this whenever she wants. This comic is about what sanity truly means and the illusion of definition, which plays well with horror. Tremendous.

 

Darth Vader Annual #1Darth Vader Annual #1

If you like Star Wars, read this. Marvel has been firing on all cylinders since getting their hands on Star Wars again – even the worst of these comics is ‘only good.’ Everything connected to Vader, however, has been outstanding, while rebuilding the dignity and terror that were associated with the Dark Lord of the Sith before the prequel trilogy robbed him of such. Story here is that a planet has gone against the will of the Emperor, so Darth Vader is sent to get them back in line. This won’t be hard for him; Vader is a force of nature in these books. If you’ve avoided them until now, hop on.

 

Goddamned #2Goddamned #2

It’s Jason Aaron retelling some of the darker parts of the Old Testament, all the terrible stuff that inspired God to try and wipe everything out with the Flood. The epic nature of these stories play to all of Aaron’s strengths, and the brutality of the artwork drives home every possible degradation, the various evils that required the Flood in the first place. The first issue was a chilling look with the reveal of Cain, the first murderer, and this looks to continue his journey through the lands of Nod and all the evils and corruption that followed. Come see what made God repent.

 

Hacktivist Vol2 #6Hacktivist #6

Go read this. The Internet is one of the most powerful tools mankind has ever devised, and we’re losing it, bit by megabit. There’s those that are fighting the power and those that are being used to keep us in chains, and this comic is a crash course in the realities of hacker culture and real politick in the modern world. If this was an ongoing series it would be a serious challenge for the best of all comics; as it stands, this is the office go-to comic, the one we all look forward to with baited breath, and we cannot recommend it enough. Everything here is intense and driven, an impossibly powerful reflection of our times. One of the most important pieces of literature in the whole damn medium.

 

Harley Quinn #23Harley Quinn #23

This might be DC Comics’ best consistent book, at least in the main line. It’s pure insane fun, a romp through the absurdity of comics and media in general, Jimmy Palimiotti and Amanda Conner poking fun at every sacred cow with some truly gorgeous artwork. Harley returns home from her vacation out west to lead a two-pronged assault with the Gang of Harleys. She needs to break a friend out of prison while also dealing with an ancient supervillain who would like to kill her, and doesn’t care who gets caught in the crossfire. Sound grim? It won’t be. It’ll be amazing.

 

Huck #2Huck #2

An interesting tale: a simple man living in a world without heroes lives in a small town, helping out as best he can while avoiding the attention celebrity would bring. A couple of greedy out-of-towners reveal his secret to the world, bringing cameras and opinions swarming like flies and buzzing around the head of a simple man who just wants to do good. This has an incredibly strong premise and a fascinating first issue, and we’re expecting more of the same here, along with art that highlights how good the story is. If you’re looking for realistic superheroes, this is for you.

 

Illuminati #2Illuminati #2

This could be so damn cool. Various supervillains get caught, serve their time, and then try to re-integrate into society. Normal criminals have a difficult time with this, as so much of the world is willing to punish them for past mistakes and make it impossible for them to do more than repeat their mistakes – how much worse would it be for people with superpowers? The reveal at the end of last issue implies that they’d be duped by another supervillain into doing terrible things. There’s a better story to tell than what’s on tap here, which is frustrating, but there could be merit here.

 

Imperium #11Imperium #11

Buy it. Trust us. This is one of the best comics being published today, a long running look at what happens when the ends justify the means, and the consequences that come with that sort of thinking when you have power on an almost absolute level. Harada is trying to build a utopia to show people that it is possible, which offends both the human powers that be and the alien species called the Vine, who have their own agenda that has been playing out over centuries. This is one of the most thought-provoking and well-crafted comics you’re ever going to read, and you should read it.

 

Ivar, Timewalker #12Ivar, Timewalker #12

Okay, so, the inventor of time travel rescued this immortal guy and taught him how to time travel so that he could rescue her from herself, as she becomes someone who breaks time by shattering time lines. We knew some of this, but now we get to the end game – the part where Neela Sethi becomes the villain of her own story and Ivar tries to fix things… again. This is the cleverest story on time travel you’re likely to see, regardless of medium, with head-ache inducing dialogue that’ll still make you smile and art that catches the absurdity of everything. Awesome stuff.

 

Jem and The Holograms #10Jem and The Holograms #10

Music journalist Rico Pacheao digs deep and pries back the layer of two of music’s hottest acts – the old guard known as the Misfits, and the up-and-comers known as Jem and Holograms. We’ve seen both bands through their own eyes and through the eyes of one another, but now we get the perspective of a historian and professor of music culture, the sort of guy that understands history without being a part of it. For those of you that were disappointed with the movie, give the comics a try. Those of you reading the comics already know how incredible they are.

 

Jem and The Holograms Holiday SpecialJem and The Holograms Holiday Special

This week we get a double-dose of Jem and the Holograms, because we’ve all been good this year. The record label that has signed both the Holograms and Misfits is demanding that both bands exchange gifts with one another, which should be interesting considering the Misfits maybe kinda sorta tried to kill Jem earlier, and then crashed the Holograms house party, and then Pizazz nearly got herself killed. Maybe the holiday spirit will get to even these most bitter of enemies? It’s going to be fun to find out, and for those few of you not reading this, give it a try.

 

Judge Dredd #1Judge Dredd #1

I’m hoping we all saw Dredd. If you haven’t seen it yet, do so… maybe around the same time you watch other Christmas Classics, like Die Hard. Then settle in and read this comic, which sees Dredd having with deal with a Mega-City One devoid of people. That’s going to be hard for Dredd to deal with, a man who has devoted himself to the rule of law suddenly finding himself with neither, as both require a society to have any relevance. Also, is that Archie on the cover? Are Archie and gang responsible, or their doppelgangers? Perhaps the Explorers of the Unknown…? Okay, I’ve dated myself.

 

Kanan The Last Padawan #9Kanan: The Last Padawan #9

Had some family members over a few nights ago. They got comfy and we ate some Thai while watching the cartoon version of this, which they’d never seen. Their daughter was as enthralled as they were, which is a credit to the power of good narration – the ability to capture the attention of different age groups through strong characters and storytelling. These comics further flesh out that story by giving us the backstory of Caleb Dune, the last Jedi, and here we see he and his Master take control of a Clone troop back during the Clone Wars, as they face off with General Grevious.

 

Lucifer #1Lucifer #1

The Lucifer comics by Mike Carey have a special place in my heart, and an exalted place on my bookshelf. They are unassailable, a complex interweaving of mythology that acts as a character study of the Devil. This? This looks like it might have more to do with the TV Show, which was fun but nowhere near as good. Still something I plan on watching, though… basically, the angels of Heaven find that Nietzsche was right and God is dead. Or murdered. Gabriel accuses Lucifer, who claims he can prove his innocence, and off they go to try and solve the murder of God. Of course I’m going to read this.

 

Ms. Marvel #2Ms. Marvel #2

Kamala Khan returns~! Kamala’s crush has started dating someone else because Kamala didn’t have time for him, what with all the superheroing she’s been doing – but while no one was looking, someone copyrighted her likeness and is selling toys and things while destroying her neighborhood, ruining her good name in for greed and profit. How can Kamala defeat the corrupt forces that threaten not just her home, but the spirit of America itself? Also, there might be something about a bad hair day. This is the logical successor to the original run of Spider-Man, and one of Marvel’s best.

 

The Mighty Thor #2The Mighty Thor #2

Of course, why should Marvel stop there? Jason Aaron has been rocking his run on Thor, with everything he pens feeling like the most important thing happening in Marvel on a macro-cosmic scale. Jane Foster has proven Worthy of the Power of Thor, which is killing her even as she’s using it to save the world a bit at a time. For the first time however, Jane gets to deal with Loki – who is no longer the God of Lies, Evil, or Mischief, but the God of Stories. He was pretty tight with then Thor and now Odinson before Secret Wars, but it remains to be seen how the new Thor and Loki will get on; the only thing we know for certain is that it will be excellent.

 

Red Thorn #2Red Thorn #2

There’s something about the British Isles – that whole little patch of islands, where a world-spanning empire emerged from. What drove people to leave that place and conquer? What ancient and unknowable power could have made people flee with such terror all over the world, only to conquer the demons of other places? My book has an answer, and this comic has another. A woman looking for her vanished sister finds folk who are not fair, a gentry that isn’t gentle and a presence that has been waiting a very long time for a crown. Sinister and haunting. Merry Christmas.

 

Secret Six #9Secret Six #9

Someone at DC Comics must have remembered how interesting a character Swamp Thing can be, because he’s popping up in a lot of books right now. Here, he pops by as a mystic character being effected by whatever it is that has Black Alice in such a such a tizzy. A group of barely-getting-by grey-area villains band together to save the world out of their own self-interest and trauma, because sometimes that’s how things work out. Also, they’re going to New England, because that always works out for anyone looking to avoid creepy things what are terrible.

 

Silk #2Silk #2

Cindy Moon is another character that seems custom-built to capture the energy and creativity of the initial Spider-Man run that so many people at Marvel are obsessed with. Here, Cindy is someone else with Spider-powers who was locked away in a bunker and released ten years later. She’s trying to build a life for herself with that disconnect, while also being a double agent, working with the recently re-criminalized Black Cat. Sadly, some people that should know she’s a double agent don’t, and that includes a certain Peter Parker. He’s going to do something about it. Should be fun.

 

Spire #5The Spire #5

I remember someone – a letterer – mentioning that no one gives letterers their due. So, fair’s fair. The writing in this is excellent and immersive, thrusting you into a strange world that feels lived in. The artwork goes a long way towards completing that feeling, but it’s the lettering here that makes the comic as effective as it is. You can feel accents here, which is not a thing I would have thought possible until I read this. The Spire is one of the final bastions of civilization in a post-apocalyptic world that was fought with gene-engineering as a weapon, and it’s on the verge of civil war.

 

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3

Squirrel Girl really is unbeatable. She has a handful of superpowers – the proportional speed and strength of a squirrel, the ability to talk to squirrels, and the inability to ever be defeated by anyone, no matter what. MODOK? Beaten. Doom? Beaten. Thanos? Beaten. Galactus, who was last beaten by the full might of the Ultimates? Beaten. This is a problem for some people, so she’s been sent back in time so she can’t effect the present. This was slowed her down somewhat, but her friend Nancy remembers her from before she was shuffled through time and is going to fix things. There is nothing else like this on the shelves. It is a thing that must be read to be understood.

 

The ViolentThe Violent #1

Hey, did you know Ed Brisson is going to be at Big Pete’s Comics tomorrow – December 16th, 2015, for reasons of signing comics? Now you know. You do. And you should go there if you live in Vancouver. And on the note of Vancouver, this comic deals with the weird realities of living in a city where the housing market keeps raising prices, where people are dispossessed and kicked out of their homes to make way for condos that no one can afford and the minimum wage is about a third of what you need to actually live in the city. Ed veers between good-topical and great-topical, and this is veering towards the latter; a slice of life comic without whimsy, just grim modern realism.

 

Wayward #12Wayward #12

Read this comic. There’s a handful of titles that we have complete and utter faith in, comics that we know are going to be excellent every single time they come out. This is one of those. Take everything you’ve ever loved in Japanese mythology or anime and give it a greater context while also going into historical and theological detail and that’s what this comic is. It’s unreal, with gorgeous art and truly epic storytelling, characters as fascinating for their identities as for what they represent, and an appendix that only adds to the weight of what’s on display. This is outstanding stuff.

 

Web Warriors #2Web Warriors #2

So, spider-verse worked out really well for everybody. As event comics go it was mostly self-contained, made sense, had some cute cameos, resurrected forgotten characters, introduced new characters, and generally evolved the character upon which it was centered. It did so well that Marvel has decided to continue with it, and this isn’t a terrible idea. Basically, this gives Marvel a chance to explore new Spider-Man archetypes and identities, to play with their mythology in extremis and across multiple realities. Here, Spider-Gwen is lost in space and needs a pick up. Neat.

 

Weirdworld #1Weirdworld #1

Imagine yourself. Who you are, but younger. Like, back when you were maybe ten years old. Imagine you were on your way to school and instead of ending up in school, you found yourself in WEIRD WORLD, a place where magic is real and everything is insane and nothing every truly makes sense, but, man, everything is pretty and everything is possible. It’s a sword and sorcery tale where the lead character has no experience with either, and all she really wants to do is go home. This is another comic that Marvel is doing to create new IP, which has worked well for them so far. This should be no exception.

 

The Wicked + The Divine #17The Wicked + The Divine #17

And we get a cat god. The Egyptian Goddess of War, Sakhmet, who is also a Goddess of Healing. There’s a few of those throughout mythology – a very few – but this is WicDiv, and while the gods here are recognizable they are also very different than what anyone might expect. This is also the final guest issue before series creator Kieron Gillen returns to move his story forward, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t important: the guest comics have all revealed bits of lore that made the preceeding comics more interesting, and this should be no exception.

 

We Are Robin #7We Are Robin #7

DC Comics decided they needed their own version of Anonymous, and get it with We Are Robin, a group of kids that decided to get together and save Gotham through vigilante action and general hackery. The corrupt city government has since made anything robin-like illegal, up to and including wearing the color red while being a minor, and the Court of Owls has decided to be sinister in the background while some actual Robins – Jason and Tim – have ended up at one another’s throats. This has been a fun little event thing, but Hacktivist is out this week, so…

 

Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #2Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #2

Charged by the earth itself to live forever, to fight in every war, the Eternal Warrior did everything possible to save all life on Earth from the very dawn of human civilization. Sadly, he’s been removed from that fight, taken to some other place… and not being on Earth is killing him. There might be a way back but he’s going to have to fight for it, which, well, he’s had an eternity of learning the ins-and-outs of violence. First issue was pretty decent and I’m curious to see where this goes.

Read article

423

The Warcraft Movie: Not Just a Video Game Movie

Uncategorized

November 7, 2015

 

Yesterday was a good day for movie trailers. While there is much excitement over the international Star Wars: The Force Awakens trailer (and rightfully so), my fangirl squee has been reserved for the full Warcraft trailer. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this ever since the movie was announced, and it did not disappoint. Well, okay, if I’m being honest, maybe it did a little. For some reason, the voices sound… off to me. Travis Fimmel basically sounds like he’s come right off the set of Vikings, and the modulation on the voices of the Orcs seems a little much. Maybe I’m just in a weird mood today, I don’t know… but it threw me more than I was expecting. Visually however, it is absolutely stunning.

Whenever I talk about being excited for Warcraft, one of the first questions that people invariably ask me, is “do you play?,” and they seem surprised when I answer “no,” (I mean, sure, I played Warcraft I and II back in the day, but they, like most of high school, are nothing but distant memories). So the natural follow up question to that answer is, “why are you excited about a video game movie when you don’t play the video game?,” And I have an answer for that.

See, I’m a child of the 80’s. I basically grew up on fantasy movies and I miss them. I miss them a lot. The only real high[1] fantasy movies that we’ve had recently have been set in Middle Earth – and I can’t wait to see something from someone other than Peter Jackson. I don’t think of Warcraft as being a video game movie, I think of it as being the start of what could be an epic fantasy movie franchise. And that is why it is important that it do well – so we can have more. We’re currently in an era of superhero films, and while I absolutely enjoy those movies wholeheartedly, I want creatures again; I want to see worlds other than our own. I want to once again let my imagination run wild, to see a movie where anything is possible.

Legend

See this? I miss this.

 

The problem with most fantasy movies set in our own world is that there is still a nationalistic theme that runs through them (i.e., the Avengers are very much American) rather than dealing with larger issues that affect humanity as a whole. In contrast, the benefit of fantasy movies is that you don’t associate characters as being American, or British, or Russian. Instead, they are simply… human (or Orc, as the case may be). That means that the story can focus on issues that are central to everyone on the planet, regardless of where one grew up. They are often used as metaphors that in turn can help us deal with the complexities of reality. In many ways, fantasy movies instill a sense of hope – that when the odds are against us, heroes can still stand up and do the right thing. That we can choose to be better[2]. Fantasy also differs greatly from science fiction works, in that science fiction is grounded in reality. Science fiction, in essence, could happen, and is often used as a commentary on where our society is headed (which is why we are overburdened with dystopic science fiction at the moment). Science fiction often hits far too close to home.

Why is fantasy important? Fantasy is an escape. Fantasy takes us away from our world and our troubles and puts us somewhere else. It awakens our sense of wonder and magic and brings us back to the way we felt when we were kids, when our imaginations had no limits. Fantasy movies are filled with whimsy, a grown up version of kids pretending that a cardboard box is a giant castle.

So don’t look at Warcraft as a video game movie. It’s a fantasy movie, pure and simple. And THAT is why this movie needs to do well. So we can have more. Not just more Warcraft; but more opportunities to play make-believe. Even just for a few hours.

 

 

[1] I consider high fantasy to be anything set in another world. The Harry Potter franchise would be an example of middle fantasy – fantastic elements, but still set in our own “reality.”

[2] I have to be careful here, or else this is going to turn into a rant about how we need Star Trek back on the air. Which is finally happening.

Read article

888

God of Comics 2015-09-09

God Of Comics, Reviews, Uncategorized

September 8, 2015

1602 - Witch Hunter Angela #31602: Witch Hunter Angela #3

Marvel Comics

There’ve been some good things coming out of this wretched crossover. Thors is near the top of the list, even if we haven’t been covering it. Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde (see last week) and Spider-Man – Renew Your Vows (see below) are also great. And this? This was one of the best comics Marvel had going before Secret Wars, and continues to be one of Marvel’s best in spite of this insipid event. Beautiful art, incredible writing, this is pretty much must read.

 

The Amazing Spider-Man - Renew Your Vows #5The Amazing Spider-Man – Renew Your Vows #5

Marvel Comics

Few comics annoy me as much as this one. Seeing this iteration of the Parker family – Peter, Mary-Jane, and their daughter – makes me salivate for the comics we missed so that Spider-Man could sell his marriage to Satan. The fact that we’re only getting this because of the crossover annoys me more. This is Dan Slott shining bright and fast, giving us the Spider-Man we could have and should have been getting for years. More of this, please. This is awesome.

 

Catwoman #44Catwoman #44

DC Comics

DC Comics continues with a Game-of-Thrones style crime story that just happens to have Catwoman in it, and now Spoiler, too. Selina has been sharing the Catwoman name with a woman named Eiko, a criminal rival and sometimes lover, the two of them called upon to make emotionally devastating decisions to move forward the agendas of their respective families.Since Batman Eternal, this title has taken on a unique air of menace, and it’s worth getting into.

 

Darth Vader #9Darth Vader #9

Marvel Comics

Hey, did you know we’re doing a podcast/vlog about these comics? We are. This comic has gone along way towards restoring the gravitas and dignity that Vader lost during the prequel trilogy, which is what you get when you let Kieron Gillen write anything. Vader has been going through watchers as he moves between Episodes IV and V, seeking the command and respect of the Emperor that he lost when he lost the Death Star. He’s also discovered he has a son. Things have been interesting until now, but they’re about to explode.

 

Deadly Class #16Deadly Class #16

Image Comics

How good has this series been? It’s a bleak mess, a hot emotional essay on the violence of moving from youth to adulthood told in a visceral style that is unlike anything else on the market. A school acts as a front for training assassins, where the faculty is perfectly willing to quietly deal with students as the students deal with one another. Lives spiral out of control as those with little experience and too much skill try to become adults and end up corpses.

 

Diesel #1Diesel #1

Boom Studios

We all like to imagine that we can do great things, but sometimes we feel inadequate; like there’s nothing that we do that is especially special, that when destiny chose people to be great that we were skipped over. And that’s who this comic is for – those of us that feel that sense of personal stagnation and need something to shock us out of it. Destiny and life are what we make of it, and sometimes that includes a flying skyship and a crashing flying engine. Read this.

 

Gotham Academy #10Gotham Academy #10

DC Comics

The kids at gotham Academy move onto a study of the Bard, delving into the bloody politics of the Scottish Play. Or MacBeth. It’s one of the two. Gotham Academy being what it is, though, it would appear that something is haunted and that we have a new and suspicious student, and if you think our gang of young explorers isn’t going to be drawn to that like moths to a flame then you clearly haven’t read this comic. Fix that immediately. This is one of DC Comics’ best.

 

Harley Quinn - Road Trip Special #1Harley Quinn – Road Trip Special #1

DC Comics

Back before the nu52, Catwoman moved in with Harley and Ivy and they became good friends mostly. It was revealed towards the end that Bruce asked Selina to keep tabs on two people that had a good chance of rehabilitation, and I like to think that worked out rather well. Here, we get the three of them reunited for a cross-country road trip, and given this writing team we’re expecting great things. This might be the most fun you’ll have reading comics this week.

 

Injection #5Injection #5

Image Comics

It’s Warren Ellis with Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire. That right there is enough reason to buy this comic. Not willing to rest there, however, this comic deals with the concept of reality and perception, has a mad air of mystery and character that is unlike anything else you’ll ever read, and embraces an epic scope that few writings manage to brush against, never mind explore. This is an example of how good the medium as a whole can be, an intelligent story that deserves study.

 

Lantern City #5Lantern City #5

Boom Studios

There’s often more to any political struggle than is apparent on the surface, because with people are mostly people. Exposing yourself to them allows you to see them as people, and being gifted by those born luckier than you can draw you into their circle – at least some of the time. This comic is a complex study of idealism and real-politick set against a stage that feels like Midgar in Final Fantasy VII – that game without those characters – and it’s bloody gorgeous.

 

The Legacy of Luther Strode #3The Legacy of Luther Strode #3

Image Comics

Remember those old ads in the backs of comics that promised to make you a tough guy? Imagine if you sent for one and it worked, and made you mighty. Imagine that screwed up your life beyond repair. And imagine being on a hunt for the originator of those techniques, a man bound because his merest step is an invitation to murder. That’s this comic, a quiet essay on the history and application of killing from rage or expediency, in heartbreaking gory glory.

 

Mirror's Edge - Exordium #1Mirror’s Edge – Exordium #1

Dark Horse Comics

Are comics based on video games making a comeback? Because I’d murder someone to write a Metroid comic. Mirror’s Edge was a video game that featured a parkour running messenger helping to fight against a corrupt totalitarian government in the future, as opposed to the totalitarian governments we have today. It’s going to be interesting to see if they can carry that same sense of motion onto the printed page while building that mythology. Given the quality of the Tomb Raider comics, we have faith.

 

Ms. Marvel #18Ms. Marvel #18

Marvel Comics

Some comics have used the threat of the big dumb crossover event to tell compelling stories using their characters – Silk, Loki, and Magneto all come to mind as the best of the lot – and yet, that list remains incomplete without this title. Kamala has been working with her idol, Captain Marvel, to help keep things calm in the wake of apocalypse, all the while making a mockery of the “hard choice” idiocy that some people pass off as good stories. It’s been beautiful and fun and creative, which is exactly what we’ve come to expect from one of the most creative, well-written, and wondrously drawn comics on the shelves.

 

Ninjak #7Ninjak #7

Valiant Comics

Oh, Matt Kindt, why is everything you do so great? A British superspy with a thing for ninja has infiltrated an illegal arms dealer ring, only to discover a deeper conspiracy that ties into his first days as a spy, and we get to see what Matt has been building to since the first issue of this comic. The answer is something chilling and brilliant, a revelation that will make you want the next issue right the hell now, as Ninjak takes its place among Valiant’s best.

 

Pixu - The Mark of EvilPixu: The Mark of Evil

Dark Horse Comics

I’ve got a soft spot for urban horror, and horror in general. We’ve sung the praises of the horror genre in the past and how scary stories reflect the values of the cultures that create them, and talked about some of the best horror movies of the modern era. Dark Horse wanting to get into the fun is a welcome addition, and this sounds interesting enough: strangers living in an apartment complex are drawn slowly towards an otherworldly evil. Looks like it might be fun, a tale about how much we don’t know about the places we live and the people around us. I’m in.

 

Starfire #4Starfire #4

DC Comics

A lot of people give Teen Titans Go a lot of flack, but things change. Teen Titans is still there; we can still watch it, and Teen Titans Go is harmless enough. I bring up both shows because this comic feels like the Kori from the old Teen Titans cartoon, all grown up and making her way in the world. She’s moved to Florida, started making friends, and gets to battle a sea monster because Aquaman is the one superhero who cares for seventy percent of the planet. Just sayin,’ dude is busy. It’s okay, this comic is full of the joy that’s underlying a lot of DC’s comics lately.

 

Tet #1Tet #1

IDW Publishing

Okay, this sounds interesting: a Vietnam veteran starts investigating the murder of an old comrade and ends up enmeshed in a hard-boiled world of crime and heartbreak and ill-fated romance. The concept is sound and feels like it might lead to something great, but we’ll have to wait and see. I’m usually willing to give new things the benefit of the doubt, though, and I’m getting Criminal-style vibes from this. Nerdcouver will let you know if it’s any good.

 

Unity #22Unity #22

Valiant Comics

We’ve talked before about how Valiant, at their best, approaches old stories from a mature perspective that lends those stories a sense of wonder. Unity brings the most powerful heroes that Valiant has to offer to battle concepts as much as villains, which lends itself to some brilliant storytelling. Here, we have a counterpart to the Eternal Warrior, an immortal woman warrior who loves violence for it’s own sake, and has already proven a match for Unity. They’ll need something new to take her down – or possibly something old.

 

The Wicked + The Divine #14The Wicked + The Divine #14

Image Comics

This is the third Kieron Gillen comic this week and has just as much chance of the others as getting a Top Five spot. When he’s working on a comic you know it’s going to be good – the question becomes how good, and how deep will today’s myth go? This comic is all about mythology and the purpose of Gods, mortals who become deities for two years and then die once every ninety years. This issue focuses on Woden, a god who’s mostly kept to the shadows. Kieron’s going to have reasons for that, and those reasons are about to be revealed. Prepare for the awesome.

Read article

553

Fiction – Love is War 03:00:01:02

Books & Writing, Short Fictions, Uncategorized

August 21, 2015

So, way back when, some rather good books were published a page at a time in newspapers. The Sherlock Holmes series, the Count of Monte Cristo, and the Three Musketeers are all tales that got their start in this fashion, and we’d like to follow suit. Every week, we’re going to post something new for you to devour and read, with original art as a header, and then a collected version for purchase from our store when the book is complete. Questions? Comments? The writers are right here, and they’ll respond as they’re able. 

***

Click here to read previous entry.

***

– 03:00:01:02 –

They called her the Golden Champion.

Hekro Gherlid of House Gebo had lost count of the soldiers that had come to her and told her that they believed they would survive this war only because of her guidance. Sometimes she let herself believe their words but she knew a grim truth that would have broken the ranks around her; that she was not the giant that all these people made her out to be, was merely a Vanir noble doing what was needed of her, even though she did not feel she did it especially well. Her forces won more than they lost and she held her independence and lived up to her word. These were not qualities, she thought, that should have made her the object of such blind adoration.

Ages had past and she had served along the Coeecian border all her life, fighting against the hordes of savages that sometimes surged from the southlands. She had learned a little of their strange ways and even knew a smattering of their language. She even knew how to pass for one of their number from a distance – the ways they stood and carried themselves – but the blood of the Vanir ran proud in her veins and her features would never be mistaken for anything less.

She stood with arms at her side, one hand resting on the pommel of the levl she wore across her back, the preferred weapon of the Vanir nobility. She had fought many duels with the weapon and won all of them. Generals and Dukes sometimes came to study her form, to master the techniques that she had cobbled together on the battlefield so they could train their own warriors.

In her youth she had sought tutors in levl fighting and had studied all three major styles, taken from them what she could while most children were still learning how to hold the weapon properly. She was happy to pass on her knowledge to those that wished to stand with her on the killing fields.

Those who came to learn for their own political or social benefit she sent away.

Rare among her people, Hekro believed in the sanctity of certain concepts, places, or objects. The levl was one of the things in which she had faith. A two-and-a-half foot length of metal inlaid with runes and hardened to the point of unbreakability, infused with the blood of the Vanir it was made for. Levls were sometimes passed down through family lines but most of the time they were designed specifically for the noble who wielded them. She had been told that the grip was as sure as any lover’s caress but this was not a thing that she had any knowing of.

Not that anyone else needed to know that.

She sighed and walked across the battlements that were her most recent assignment. The Vanir bards had taken to calling her army the Band of the Golden Cross, for her pennant displayed two golden lines on a black background. She had marched her soldiers over three thousand miles of terrain to bring them here, a soft spot in the Coeecian border, a valley that had been mired in conflict for centuries. It had been handed to one noble after another, claiming life after life until the ground itself was soaked crimson and the air smelled of copper.

When songs were sung of this place, the bards called this valley Ashaewulo’sabberkena – the Shadow of Death.

The latest offering the Vanir had made to the valley was a young man from House Jera, a noble line that Hekro had never had much use for. A slight youth, Figo Jera was more cute than handsome. Despite his boyishness he had proven to be a quick study and a capable officer.

For all his good qualities, however, he was still young and terribly naive. His enemies took advantage of both flaws, drawing him into the Ashaewulo’sabberkena with every intention of spilling his blood on the unholy grounds of the valley. When Hekro had arrived she had found Figo taking risks where what was lost far outweighed what there was to gain, even if he had been capable of gaining whatever goal it was he sought.

Hekro had quickly realized the boy’s limitations; Figo was not brash, just innocent. The Coeecian in charge of the forces which opposed them had recognized that failing for what it was, had taken advantage of it to fully decimate Figo’s forces. The loss had been devastating and even more experienced nobles would have found their troops demoralized in such circumstances. To his credit, the boy had managed to maintain a surprising amount of control over his forces and, having now met and spent time with him, Hekro could understand why.

“Good morning, my Lady.” Figo approached from the east, his levl at his hip. It was the custom of many noble Houses to wear their levls in such fashion, but most nobles had not stood on the frontlines of the war. Fewer still had witnessed the horrors that House Gebo stood against on a regular basis. The nobles of House Suwilo did but they were healers, not warriors, a distant presence in every conflict. Hekro had explained the advantages to Figo at length but the boy was still a creature of his upbringing – another decade or so on the border, Hekro thought, would change that for the better.

“And you, my Lord.” Hekro clasped the boy’s wrist, a casual and friendly show of dominance that Figo had never sought to contest. The boy took his place at Hekro’s side and looked out over the assembled forces that waited on the lip of a distant horizon, their mass looking like nothing so much as a sea of chaos.

“Do you think they’ll attack today?” Figo asked. Hekro looked in the boy’s wide silver eyes and earnest expression; the boy was so very eager to learn.

“At twilight, yes.”

“How can you tell?”

“Do you see the pinions, there, there, and there?” The boy nodded. “See how they move north to south? They wobble a little, yes, and they look like they’re just part of the crowd, but the Coeecian’s method of war is a complex architecture. The swarming mass of chaos only looks that way. In truth we face three separate armies that have all fallen under the command of a single warlord. If we can find him and kill him, that force will disperse.”

“You know all that just from their pennants?”

“Yes. Coeecians put great stock in their leaders and the favor of their gods, but their minds are soft from their reliance on superstition. Hence, they dress up their forces to remind themselves of who is on what side and what they are doing. There is a language to their horde, and I have learned to read it – which is why I know that there are three armies down there, that they do not like one another, and if we kill their leader they will fight among themselves and then disperse.”

“Only to reform somewhere else.”

“We’ll burn that bridge when we get to it. One thing at a time, Lord Figo.”

The boy nodded, studying the mass and memorizing the pinions that Hekro had pointed out. Hekro could have told him not to bother – the Coeecians were a superstitious people, changing the color and designs of what mattered according to which of their barbaric castes was ascendant at any given moment in time. Hekro was able to spot the leader’s campfire with only a little difficulty and judged their enemy to be of the Skie caste, a group of mountain dwellers as known for their arrogance and sense of entitlement as they were for the powerful storms they could summon.

Figo had met that warlord in personal combat but, like so many Vanir, he knew none of the details that defined the Coeecian swarm and so had let his enemy go. Figo’s scouts had spent some time within Hekro’s, the combined force able to learn that their enemy’s name was Jesam and that he had developed an obsession with Hekro’s young charge, a powerful lust for ownership that had rewritten his view of this campaign.

Jesam emerged from his tent, his white robe coated in dust, the lightning blue cloak on his shoulders hanging loose around his throat. He kept his black hair spiked and, as he saw Hekro, waved and offered an insipid grin as he moved towards the ashes of an abandoned campfire. Hekro scowled and crossed her arms, knowing the man was preparing some sort of ritual working and knowing that she was too distant to do anything about it. She stood still when the rain started, remaining still when the chill seeped into her bones. She did not react even when Jesam looked up and raised his hand in a mock greeting.

Turning on her heel, Hekro went back the way she came and settled into her quarters. They had the high-ground, their walls on a massive embankment that would keep the Coeecians from any sort of direct attack. Some of their magicians were capable of great wonders but such magicians had to be in eyesight to make use of their most potent rituals, a limitation which would put them within eyesight of the Vanir scientists, who could then complete the circuits of science to crush their enemies. It was, in Hekro’s opinion, a stupid and endless cycle that rendered both groups completely useless – the best the magicians and scientists could do was annoy their enemies, like what Jesam had done with his little working.

Hekro returned to her quarters with the intention of sleeping, leaving strict orders that she was to be awoken the moment the Coeecians did anything out of the ordinary. She was confident that her soldiers knew exactly what she meant. She walked into her room and stripped off the jacket all nobles wore when going into battle, a thick fabric interwoven with metal thread. The weight of it off her shoulders brought with it a dull ache that she ignored, her well-muscled torso covered in old scars. She took note of them all, remembering those who had died to leave proof of victory etched into her skin.

Manuind Berhagala. Ashaewi Manuund. Iwasund Berkenaund

She was awoken by a knocking at her door, her hand gripping the levl beside her before her mind was completely aware of her surroundings. Long vigils all along the Coeecian border had taught her that sleep was a luxury and coming back to the waking world without a weapon at hand could be a costly mistake. She blinked at the empty room, shrugged into her jacket and sheathed the levl across her back before walking back among her troops.

“Report.” She looked at the fidgeting Lord Figo while fastening the jacket closed; the blush along the boy’s cheeks was both flattering and bearing clear evidence of his youth.

“We thought that the Coeecians were using the rain as a distraction,” he began. “But it, uh, seems that they’ve been using the storm to erode the earth out from under the keep.” Hekro snapped to attention, looking at the boy and considering the applications.

The keep they lived in was the centrepiece of Vanir presence in Ashaewulo’sabberkena, a bastion that had stood since before Hekro was born and had provided haven, refuge, and staging point for the Vanir nation. It had allowed the Vanir, even in the leanest of times, to keep the Coeecians from encroaching further into Midgard, the home of the Vanir people. The loss of the keep would be devastating both strategically and moralistically, a truth that someone like Jesam would know.

Hekro finished straightening her jacket, strode outside and stood on the heavy walls. Figo followed, chattering on about logistics. Hekro ignored him as she crossed her arms and looked outside. The rain was so thick that she could only just make out the Coeecians down below, using their tools and fell trickery to erode the base upon which the keep stood, and she knew that Jesam had trapped them – for if they went out there they would be walking into a trap, but if they kept behind their walls the walls would crumble and the Coeecians would swarm over them and kill them all.

She explained this to Figo, trying to decide if there was a way out of Jesam’s little gambit. Figo wanted to go out and fight, confident of his ability to win, but Hekro held him in place with a look. There was more going on here, some plan that they did not see.

“Figo Jera!”

The cry caught them all off-guard. A moment later twelve arrows were fired from down below, each of them striking the battlements. No other volley was fired and even Hekro could see that the arrows were tied with messages around them, the paper treated to resist the strain of water. She strode to the edge of the wall and claimed the arrow, ignoring the warnings of Figo’s men. The Coeecians would not shoot someone in the act of retrieving a message; they considered it bad luck.

She untied the string around the shaft and unrolled the paper, looking at the girlish Coeecian script. The Vanir held the Coeecian written language in contempt for its complexity and facade of elegance, preferring the economy of their own written codes, and most Vanir nobles would have had no idea how to interpret Jesam’s message. Hekro was not so ignorant, though she did have trouble with the strange curves and loops that the Coeecians used for their inert written sigils.

My Darling Figo,

As much as I admire your persistence in resisting my advances, I have to admit that I’m finding the drudgery of our game growing a little old. You know I want you and you know that there is nothing that you can do to dissuade me from getting what I want. How many more of your people must die before you turn yourself over to me so that we can both sate our desires?

Oh, my lust, my lust… can you not see that what I’m doing is for the best? You are so precious, Lust, a treasure. I will keep you safe, lock you away like the most precious of gems. Surely this is what you crave because it is what I crave for you. How could you want anything else?

I’ve spotted you speaking and walking with that blond harlot. I want you to know that she will not stand between us much longer; my plans have nearly come to fruition. Soon, we will be together and you will be mine and all will be well.

Until then, my Lust, know that the seed I spill I do in your name,

Jesam of the Skie

“They’ve been sending arrows like that every couple of weeks,” Figo said, looking over Hekro’s shoulder. “Our ritualists claim that there is no magic about them, but there must be some meaning to this act… is it some sort of superstition?”

“Yes, that’s it exactly.” Hekro felt no guilt at the lie as she crumpled the paper and tossed it into the nearest fire. His knowing the full details of Jesam’s obsession would benefit no one.

A deep growl rumbled underneath them, the earth giving way under the deluge that assailed them. Hekro’s hand immediately went to her levl, the weapon drawn as she walked towards the sound and ordered the soldiers on those walls back. No Coeecian rope or ladder touched the battlements above the sound as Hekro ordered her country-folk into position. For long moments nothing happened, nothing more than rain tumbling down from on high, liquid shattering on stone.

Then the world screamed as mighty stone walls were dragged out of sight by simple entropy.

She did not flinch when those walls fell. She held her ground and Figo stood with her, his own levl held at the ready. She did not turn to see how much of her people’s resolve had broken with the wall, did not take her eyes from the gaping emptiness that waited before her, a threat, a promise, a sigh made real. She held her ground and she knew that those behind her did so only in honor of her strength.

When the Coeecians swarmed through, a horde of them bashing through like rats, Hekro lifted her levl had howled a warcry, leading her people forward to meet the enemy. Bones shattered and blood swept out in arcs as she struck, cutting a swath through the invaders as an answering cry rose behind her, the Vanir finding their courage and joining their attack.

Time passed. The rain continued. Her limbs felt heavy, her breath coming in long and painful gasps. For the moment no Coeecian dared approach her. She stood straight, taking a moment to assess the situation. Piles of the dead lay all around her, Vanir and Coeecian blood co-mingling an offering to Midgard below. She glanced around, knocking stones out of the air with her levl as she assessed the situation. The Vanir, from what she could tell, were winning.

Hekro’s knowledge of the Coeecian war machine allowed her to know what they were doing and how they were moving. A few shouted orders stymied the efforts of those they fought, stuffing their games before they ever took effect. She caught sight of Jesam in the crowd, holding one of the short blades his people favored, his cloak free of the gore that coated everything else. Hekro scowled at him, envious – she would be bathing for hours to get the blood out of her hair.

Jesam smiled at her and vanished into the crowd, safe behind the lines of his people. She grimaced and forced herself onward, heading towards the spot where he had been. If she could kill that one man, the Coeecians would retreat, fighting among themselves until they had another leader to guide them. She got to that point, a small group of her own soldiers following her as best they could as she cut down the cattle that tried to stand before her.

She caught sight of him again. He wasn’t looking for her, she saw, his eyes on the figure of his obsession – Lord Figo Jera. The boy was holding his own, a credit to a noble line that did not deserve such as he. He stood, levl and dryw drawn, fighting his enemies one at a time. Unlike the rest of them, Hekro saw, Figo was fighting one duel after another. He was being worn down, being left mostly unharmed. She could see what Jesam wanted to do and felt bile rise in her throat at the thought of it.

LiW 002

 

Pushing herself forward on limbs that were already screeching fatigue, she pressed through the crowd and broke past any fool that thought to stand in her way. She was halfway to Figo when she felt the blade enter her back and push through, steel exiting from her midriff. She spun, trying to backhand with her levl, but her killer ducked under the blow and used her movement and strength to make the wound he had inflicted upon her so much worse.

“I want you to know,” Jesam said, cradling her as the levl dropped from her fingers, “That I could never have done this without you. The Golden Champion, the Vanir who knows our ways. Did you ever think that perhaps the language of war could change? No?” He pressed his lips against hers, recoiling when she bit him and laughed when he tasted his own blood.

“Figo will stop you.” Her voice faltered but her glare did not.

“Doubtful.” Jesam smiled, his words slurring together in her ears. “He is a beautiful bauble, nothing more. Without his walls to protect him…?” His smile deepened. He left her there, among the corpses and the muck. She heard him shout out a challenge to Figo, demanding a duel to end the conflict. The boy, flush with the victories he thought he had won, accepted.

She tried to shout a warning but spat up blood, drowning herself. He had punctured her lungs with his blade. She could do nothing but lie there and die, listening as the beautiful Lord Figo was lost.

***

More is coming next week. If you like the artwork, why not go and thank Meghan Duffy at duffyartdesign.com? She’s cool people.

Read article

487

To Be Named Later Episode 003 – Beast Wrestling

Uncategorized

July 28, 2015

 

Wrestling happened. It happened late at night, but Bre and Aaron are still awake, slogging through fatigue to watch Beast in the East!

You can follow Aaron Golden on twitter @lastswann

You can follow Bre Fultz on twitter @breinpictures

Aaron hosts and talks. Bre directs, edits, does camera work, and talks.

This is because Bre is awesome.

Read article

1135

God of Comics – the Punisher

Books & Writing, God Of Comics, Reviews, Uncategorized

July 24, 2015

The Punisher is a strange character.

On paper, it looks simple enough – a war veteran named Frank Castle witnesses his family get killed as collateral damage in a shout out between rival gangs and swears revenge. Some depth was added to the character during the excellent Punisher Max run, which gave Frank some layers, and that was good. Hell, that was excellent. It’s one of the best comics out there, what with the terrible sense of grime that coats the whole of it, and it’s utter lack of any other Marvel character.

See, there’s an argument that Frank couldn’t work in the Marvel Universe. It’s the same argument that people level against the likes of Hawkeye and Black Widow, that a non-powered character – and especially this one – couldn’t operate in a world with powered heroes and criminals, that he would be easy to hunt down and either capture or kill.

And you’d have to, wouldn’t you? If you’re a hero, the Punisher looks like a mass-murdering monster, with at least a four-figure kill count stretching from Vietnam to the modern era. He has, all by himself, filled cemeteries of criminals. If you’re a villain, priority one has to be stopping the guy that’s killed thousands of your friends and henchmen and will put a bullet through you if he ever gets the chance.

Here’s where we get to the problem, because what is the Punisher’s power?

He’s good with guns. That’s it.

At least, that what it looks like on the surface. If you stop to think about him about him, though, a whole new vista opens up. He was a black operative on Vietnam, trained to be one of the most lethal soldiers in one of the most terrifying wars this world has ever known, and he’s done nothing but fight ever since. He’s refined his technique, dedicated himself to fighting and nothing else.

Iron Man is a rich guy in power armor with no formal combat training. Spider-Man gets by on spider-sense and heightened reflexes. The X-Men are a civilian militia with a lot of practical experience.

Frank knows more than all of them combined when it comes to the preparation and application of violence. His power is that he’s been fighting for so long that he can’t do anything else and that there is nothing else to him.

Punisher 004

And not a weakness of whatever it is Frank has become.

He’s not even human any more, not in any way the rest of us could understand. He’s moved into some weird mental place where he exists all by himself, occasionally touching someone’s life or, more likely, ending it. He’s a force of nature pretending to be a man.

So when it was announced that Nathan Edmondson was going to be doing a Punisher series, I was interested. Good Punisher stories are hard to find, but when they’re good they’re great. Nathan’s written some interesting military-based characters in the past (Who is Jake Ellis?, Olympus), so that seemed like a good fit.

Then I read the solicit, which said something about the Punisher going out to Los Angeles, and how was he going to operate so far out of his element, which the solicit seemed to think was New York. I remember looking at this quizzically for one simple reason: Frank’s element is killing people. Location is incidental; he’ll know as much as he can about the terrain long before he gets there, and he’ll pick up the lay of the land quickly. That’s kind of what he is.

When the first issue came out I picked it up a little nervously, thinking that we were going to see Frank making mistakes because of the territory, but that didn’t happen. Instead, the various criminals assumed he’d be out of his element, and they suffered for it. It was fun and well written, with everyone showing the right amount of terror of Frank and Frank out-thinking them as best he was able.

Because, as dangerous as Frank is, he’s still only a man physically. He’s got human reflexes and endurance, is prone to exhaustion and incremental pain, and as likely to make mistakes as anyone. When the gangs call in Electro – who Marvel really began pushing to coincide with the last Spider-Man movie – even Electro was scared of him, and ready to run away rather than stay in the same state with him.

And that’s all well and good. Really. It seemed like a good Punisher tale about Frank going on summer vacation, heading out to LA to get some sun and kill some people. It was intelligent and everyone felt like people, with us getting a police officer character and getting to see how Frank’s actions affected her, specifically, and the rest of LA in general. The criminals came across as people making the best of their situation, and no one was made to hold the idiot ball. That counts for a lot, in any story, and especially in one that focuses on people over powers.

Pictured: In his element.

Pictured: In his element.

The story continued, and as it went on we got into the real heart of this. There were hints of something larger going on, and Frank got wind of whatever it was and started killing himself to answers. He took a trip down to a Mexican prison, killing everyone on his way out, and then kept the murder going on his way to the truth.

A gang war broke out and martial law was declared in LA, with Frank heading back as things continued to go wrong. We learned that the Howling Commandos – Nick Fury’s old unit from World War II, and the best active soldiers in the Marvel Universe – were after Frank. For reasons. We spent some time with them, getting to know them. We got to see how intelligent they are in the field, how carefully the plan and how skill they are.

If Marvel decides to have Nathan Edmondson write a Howling Commandos comic I’ll be all over that.

So, keeping in mind how skilled and efficient the Howling Commandos are, we get to see that even they’re taken aback when they’re ordered to go after Frank. Being soldiers and professionals means they’re willing to do it for the good of the country, but the respect they give even the idea of going after Frank shows exactly how terrifying he really is.

Punisher 005

They snipered him through a building use technology Frank didn’t know existed. It was either that or nuke the city.

It gets more complex, though. See, the Howling Commandos only get involved with things on orders, and usually around the world. Someone high up the chain has to want them to conduct operations on domestic soil, someone with a vested interest in keeping things violent in LA.

Here’s what we learn: the politics behind everything that has happened. Simple, right? And silly. We’re told never to talk politics in polite society, as if the various causes that form laws are somehow dirty and beneath notice. The truth is that there are few things that we should be discussing more, and it’s a truth that the young are adopting and claiming for their own as they come to understand how corrupt the politics they’ve inherited are.

And comics? Comics have always been a means of exploring different political causes, all the way back to their inception. The Punisher has always been about the lost, about how broken things can get, and about how crime both literally and metaphorically steals life. These are tales of societal and cultural entropy.

The Punisher is a rage-filled tragedy.

Frank is a character who stares into the face of every human evil and says no, because he’s already lost everything.

The brilliance of the Edmondson run is a sudden shift in scale.

Frank fights the symptoms of that corruption, the evil that comes from disenfranchising entire swaths of people, of forcing them into ghettos and feeding them drugs, of institutionalized racism and unchecked greed writ large. He fights against generations of criminals who come from generations of victims, the logical end result of a meat grinder society.

The Punisher goes after murderers, thieves, and rapists. He targets those organizations that are undeniably criminal, but not the white color criminals that destroy countries, that bankrupt nations, that cause the symptoms that he’s so effective at fighting. He is, in reality, nothing more than a painful bandage that does nothing to actually solve the problems he thinks he’s fighting.

Here, Frank finds himself trailing the cause of the symptoms he fights. He finds himself going to Washington DC, find himself in the office of an American Senator who put in motion a plan to incite riots and gang violence in Los Angeles so that martial law would have to be declared. The idea was to make money for both the military and a number of corporations, and the people that live in LA, well, they’re acceptable losses for the profits that will come as a result of this plan.

The senator in question is not afraid of Frank, because he hasn’t directly murdered anyone. He’s never held a knife or a gun outside of war time, if at all, and he’s certainly not going to go mug any one person. He has, however, played an indirect part on the deaths of hundreds in this political decision alone, and he admits that he’s done this sort of thing before and will do it again. This is what senators do, serve their corporate masters using whatever excuses they need to sleep at night, and the rest of the world can burn provided these senators get their kickbacks.

Punisher 000You want to talk about people that aren’t human anymore?

This is an evil that is above Frank. He can’t kill this senator and can’t fight the corruption that is causing the evils he fights every single day. They are, tragically, above and beyond him. He ends up facing off with Captain America after having this realization, and passes all this information along to Cap, but whether or not that will actively change anything in the Marvel Universe is questionable: Secret Wars came and derailed that story the same way it did everything else.

What we take away from this is a simple truth: violent revolution is all well and good, but nothing changes when you confront symptoms instead of causes. The simplest observable outcomes of an action are not the root action themselves, and without an intelligent look at why an action is happening, that action will continue to happen indefinitely.

For all his skill and lethality, Frank accomplishes very little. He’s a part of the very problem he thinks he’s fighting, another manifestation of the drama that is caused by the politics and greed that hover above him and every single one of his victims, and all of their victims, and so on, and so forth. No other comic has ever looked at the utter futility of what Frank has become like this one has, but Frank reacts predictably to this truth:

He heads back to LA, back to the riots that are now being blamed on him.

There are symptoms to fight, and that’s what the Punisher does.

Read article

1166

Dark Nexus Arena

Uncategorized

July 21, 2015

Dark Nexus Arena has blown our collective minds. This is a big deal – Games Workshop might have done something good for once and let’s not kid ourselves – Warhammer 40k video games, by and large, suck. They’re pretty much universally terrible, despised by reviewers and fans of gaming and the franchise alike, seen as nothing more than cash grabs with maybe a passing respect for either gaming or the lore but never both. Every time a new game is announced we still come around, hoping not to be sorely disappointed yet again by an inferior product given maybe a passable paint job over a rotten core.

notsayingbutsayin

Conversely, this is one of the reasons we love Whitebox Interactive. They love Warhammer 40k as much as we do, and there’s not a single table in the dev pit that isn’t littered with paint, codex books, models, and art work. In those quiet moments before the dev team trickles in, the office looks like a gathering of fans that have come together to share tips and play some table top.

Whitebox Interactive Office Decorations

Even after the offices fill up, there’s banter about the armies and their strengths and weaknesses, arguments over color schemes, heated discussions about bits of the lore. It’s pretty great, and lets us know that these are people that love Warhammer 40k as much as we do.

It’s a good place to start understanding why the game is so damn playable.

We’ve been part of the beta testing team for a few weeks now, delving into the depths of the characters on offer and learning the mechanics of the game. We sit in, mostly, but the hardcore mechanics are there, melded with the lore in such a way that the whole experience traps you and feels authentic.

play testing Dark Nexus Arena

Dark Nexus Arena isn’t a Warhammer 40k MOBA; it’s what every Warhammer 40k video game dreams of being when it grows up. It’s not even a real MOBA, not as they’re currently understood. DNA is to the fastest growing genre in video games what Doom was to the first person shooter in the early nineties – such a giant leap forward in technology and application that every other game feels like a fading echo.

Here’s why:

MOBAs grew out of real time strategy games. They started as Warcraft III hacks. A lot of the control mechanisms are still designed around real time strategy, when the simple truth is that interface is dated and has no place in the modern scene. It’s a vestigial organ that DNA does away with, giving us complete control over our character in a way that is both intuitive and groundbreaking.

Warhammer 40k has developed the most complex lore in all of gaming. Starcraft? Warcraft? Diablo? Cool games with interesting lore that they cribbed from Game Workshop. Amazing how the Tyranids / Zerg and the Eldar / Protoss are still invading Imperium / Terran territories, isn’t it? Forsake? Vampire Counts. Prime Evils? Gods of Chaos, C’Tan, take your pick. And they’re not the only ones that have done this.

The point is, everyone cribs off the grandaddy of them all, and everyone falls short of capturing the true scope and majesty that Warhammer 40k brings to the table. The technology was never there to grasp it until this very second. Because here’s the truth: Whitebox Interactive has done it. Every faction. Every major character type. Everything. It’s all in this game, it’s all drawn from the lore, and it is perfect.

Now, we should note that one game came close – Dawn of War. A game that came out of the now defunct real time strategy genre, it brought all the armies to the table. Every faction was represented, and it added an engaging story that drew on the lore Games workshop has established to tell a hell of a story. It’s PvP was some of best of its time, but it failed to take advantage of one of the best and biggest parts of Warhammer 40k. It did not give you the ability to customize your army.

Customization has been a part of Warhammer 40k from the get go. Creativity is a big part of that culture, and that customization has recently found a place in video game lore. From the create-a-wrestler modes of the wrestling games to the hats of Team Fortress to the conversational models of Dragon Age and Mass Effect, a personal experience has become part of what video gamers crave. Dawn of War couldn’t give them that. Dark Nexus Arena can.

Over sixty character types are planned at present. Each character has 5 basic skins for players to choose from, and every skin can be customized with symbols or colors of everything – armor, weapons, symbols, even explosions and attacks. There is no part of the player’s character that cannot be customized to fit the player’s taste, making each character as unique as the player wishes.

Better still, there’s no need to invest in characters the player isn’t interested in. Real time strategies forced you to manage resources so that you could get to the characters you wanted to play with, whereas Dark Nexus Arena starts you off with what you want. No wasted time. No milling about, farming, prolonging the experience. No, this is exactly what you crave from start to finish.

KharnPreview

Yeah, sure, there’s only Orks and Tau and some Imperium in play now, but we’re starting to see the Chaos and Necrons that Whitebox Interactive has planned, and they’ll blow you away with their detail and differences in play. We’ve only seen them being tested, but we can’t wait to get our mitts on them and rampage through the Dark Nexus Arena with them, and we wait with baited breath to see what Whitebox Interactive plans on unleashing next.

As Games Workshop abandons an expansion of lore for the quick cash grab of ever more expensive models, Whitebox Interactive has picked up the torch to provide a lore-intensive, intuitive, and immersive experience. They have the love of the lore and skill of development, and they’ve combined both to make a game that is going to rock the grim darkness of the future, there is every other MOBA vying for second, and Dark Nexus Arena shining like the favored Primarch of the God Emperor himself.

 

Read article

838

The Sixth Gun Role-Playing Game

Uncategorized

May 27, 2015

It’s no secret that we like role-playing games. Everyone on staff is a fan, to the point where our CEO went ahead and invented his own system. If you’ve seen our offices, well, this is one of the bookshelves that are full of splat books, fluff books, rule books… the point is, we love pen-and-paper role playing games. We adore them. We play them a lot, and discuss settings and characters. We go to comedy shows about them.

And we also love comics. It’s shocking, we know, given that we’re part of the Nerdcouver vlog, have been guests on the League of Manchildren Booked Podcast, listen to the Quiver podcast, and have a weekly column called God of Comics. One of the comics that we love and rant about whenever possible is called the Sixth Gun, a horror-western written by Cullen Bunn, whose comics frequently place among our weekly top five comics.

So the news that Cullen Bunn, Oni Press, and Pinnacle Entertainment Group are starting a Kickstarter to create a Sixth Gun Role-Playing Game? That’s kind of exciting to us. By I kind of, I mean really. As in, I need this to be a thing that happens.

Pinnacle Entertainment Group is responsible for Deadlands: the Weird West, a pen-and-paper role-playing game set in a haunted old west that features some of the most interesting mythology you’ll find in gaming, with a system that was so good that they ended up launching a line called Savage Worlds out of it. Deadlands and Savage Worlds are both some of the most fun you can have role-playing, and both setting and system lend themselves perfectly to the Sixth Gun setting.

They’re also threatening miniatures, and if you’ve been gaming for any length of time you know how useful those can be – and if you’ve been following the Sixth Gun, you have to know how cool some of those miniatures are going to look. General Hume, the Grey Witch, the Wendigo, and the Thunderbirds are only some of the minis we’re likely to see coming out of this. I mean, c’mon, watch this and tell me you’re not excited:

Now, if you’re as excited as we are, you can visit the kickstarter by clicking anywhere on this sentence.

C’mon, peoples, let’s make this happen.

Read article

568

Jesse Inocalla discusses Northwest Fan Fest

Uncategorized

May 22, 2015

Jesse Inocalla is a local comedian, actor, and demagogue who has been one of the founding fathers of the modern geek community. One of his biggest contributions to the scene was the advent of the Cosplay Walk-Off, which he returns to this year at Northwest Fan Fest. Here’s his thoughts on the event to come. 

 

Jesse 00LMM: What does fandom mean to you?

Jesse InocallaFandom, n. a group of likeminded weirdos united in their mutual love and adoration of something. It could be candy, it could be the Steelers, it could even be…..alternative media and alternative media solutions. Which is what the fine people at Northwest Fan Fest have to offer.

 

LMM: How do you explain that to people not in the know?

Jesse Inocalla: I simply remind them that they, too, have their own fandoms. it could be candy, it could be the Steelers, it could even be….alternative media! We live in an era where the greatest majority of content being created and developed comes from sources that we all found near and dear to us, be it comic books, classic cartoons, or even movies of yesteryear! Did you like The Road Warrior? Now there’s Fury Road. Did you like Star Wars? Now there’s The Force Awakens. Did you like Last of the Mohicans? Now there’s Avatar! We are seeing an exciting new shift into recycled content and it’s working out beautifully for anyone who liked that content in the first place. Unless you happen to like the Ninja Turtles films, Jem and the Holograms, or the original Transformers series.

 

LMM: How has being a part of the fandom affected your life?

Jesse Inocalla: Being part of my own personal fandoms (Renaissance Literature, Mongol History, and Neon Genesis Evangelion) has taught me a lot of important lessons. It’s taught me that art is beautiful and meant to be appreciated, and that the genesis of great art is human ingenuity and inspiration. It’s taught me the most effective ways to subjugate the largest contiguous land empire in human history under my heel (Here’s a hint: Leave one person alive to tell the tale of your wanton destruction!). But most important of all, it’s taught me that the only real way to win the affection of my distant father is to pilot a robot containing the soul of my mother to defend humanity from the forces of God himself. And really, isn’t family the most important fandom of all?

 

LMM: What kind of impact do events like Northwest Fan Fest have for the fandom?

Jesse Inocalla: Events like Northwest Fan Fest do a great job of synergizing the drive coefficient of the community. They help propel their earnings ratios into the stratosphere and streamline the buzz dynamic into a Web 3.0 interface.

 

LMM: What’s your favorite part of Fan Fest?

Jesse Inocalla: Friday at 1pm. BE THERE #doubleimpact

 

LMM: Who are you excited to see at NWFF?

Jesse Inocalla: The eminent Doctor Uwe Boll, smiter of critics. I will give him my resumé, headshot, and a firm, professional handshake indicating that I respect him, but do not fear him.

 

LMM: How would you get somebody who has never heard of it to come out?

Jesse Inocalla: I would tell them that those guys over there told me they weren’t gonna go because they were chickens, and would then ask “Are you a chicken?”. No, you are not. You are people. Fine people. PROUD people. Stand strong. You show those other guys you’re better than them. Get thee to the Anvil Center. Strike a blow, for freedom.

Read article