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133

God of Comics – Secret Weapons #2

God Of Comics, Reviews

July 19, 2017

Secret Weapons #2 (Valiant Entertainment)

Holy gods. Did you see Arrival? This is a comic written by Eric Heisserer, the guy that wrote that screenplay. He’s moving in and taking the reins of mythologies set in place by Harbinger and Imperium, two of the best comics published in the modern era, and is dealing the complexities that Toyo Harada has left for everyone else.

Oh, Harada. You make everything harder for everyone.

Toyo Harada is a psiot, which is basically Valiant for mutant. He’s a mix of Charles Xavier’s dream of a better world and Magneto’s ruthless drive to acquire it and enough power to think himself god. He started a corporation and used his power to fight a shadow war so he could drive the world towards becoming a post-scarcity utopia where everyone would be better off, which pissed off the rich and powerful who really did not want to reveal him to the world.

No, the people he pissed off on the other side of the spectrum did that. See, Harada has a tendency to not see the forest for the trees and a distinct inability to see people as people – everyone and everything are pieces of a game to him, and he managed to alienate the only person with powers equal to his own, a terrible mess of a human being named Peter Stanchek.

What makes Harada and Peter unique – aside from their incredible power – is a single ability that sets them apart from any other meta-human on the planet: they can activate latent psiots. Basically, if there is a chance that you could have a super power, either one of these two can awaken that power within you. Peter is better at it than Harada, who kills about one in every four people he tries it on, but those are the risks Harada is willing to take.

Sometimes, though, the powers he awakens in others aren’t… well, they’re not that great. Take, for instance, the guy that can make inanimate objects light up. Or the girl that can talk to birds. Or the dude that uncontrollably sometimes conjures things to his hands and can’t control the when or where of it. They’re not useful for Harada’s cause but he can’t get rid of them and still feels responsible for them, so he sets them up with housing and lets them alone.

The problem is that when Stanchek and friends revealed Harada to the world, they did so by exposing his email account and spreading out all the information he was carefully keeping hidden, including the housing he had given these psiots who basically had no training and no place in his plan. There’s plenty of other people who would like to get their hands on or kill these kids, though, so they’ve had to go into hiding or to make their own way in the world.

Not that that’s going to stop the people that want them from hunting them down.

Thankfully, these questionably powered individuals do have one ace in the hole – a psiot who calls herself Livewire, who gained the power to interface wirelessly with any machine. She was Harada’s second in command until she called him out on his mistakes, then ended up leading Unity (Valiant’s big super team) and is one of the most powerful people on the planet. She’s awesome. She’s also obsessed with making up for Harada’s (many) mistakes, and so she’s going to do her best to protect these kids from the people that are hunting them.

So, as mentioned, this comic is being written by Eric Heisserer, and he’s joined by Raúl Allén of Wrath of the Eternal Warrior fame. Check this comic out – Valiant is doing stuff with superhero comics that are like nothing you’ve ever seen.

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314

God of Comics – Harbinger: Renegades #5

God Of Comics, Reviews

July 12, 2017

Harbinger: Renegades #5 (Valiant Comics)

Harbinger was an important part of the Valiant line-up back when they first relaunched. It was more down-to-earth than the operatic X-O Manowar, more serious than Archer & Armstrong, more compelling than Shadowman, and more thoughtful than Bloodshot. There was a lot going on here, a lot of high concepts broken down and made relatable through excellent writing and characterization.

This is the story of two men: Toyo Harada and Peter Stanchek, both alike in power and both alike in their flaws. They are what Valiant calls psiots – essentially their version of mutants, with Harada playing the role of both Xavier and Magneto and Peter being a very damaged child who only sees what is directly in front of him. They’re both heavyweights, the most overtly powerful beings on the planet, but they are diametrically opposed to one another.

See, Harada sees that late-stage capitalism is killing the planet and he’s doing everything in his power to save it: he started a corporation to do so, trying to move the world towards more progressive views in order to build a utopia. Sounds good, doesn’t it? The thing is, Harada often doesn’t see the forest for the trees and he’ll break the world if that’s what it takes to save it.

Peter is very much among the broken. His powers manifested when he was a child and he broke his father, broke his mother, became a drug addict to dull his power and fled from a government that he knew wanted nothing but the worst for him. He did terrible things for which no one has forgiven him and has tried his best to make up for them, never expecting to be forgiven for what he’s done.

It’s made for a very complex story.

Harbinger was followed up by the incredible Imperium, where we got to see the fallout of two gods battling it out for control of the world, where Harada was outed and Peter fled. Harada tried to rebuild his empire and save the world from itself, but the corporate overlords that have enslaved the world kept attacking him, kept attacking him, kept attacking him, and we got to see the horrific lengths he was willing to go to.

Peter was largely ignored, given that he had removed himself from the world. Now, in the fallout of Imperium, he’s been forced back into a world he believes he doesn’t deserve. One of Harada’s old proteges, a psiot and genius by the name of Alexander Soloman, has the ability to analyze and predict potential futures. He’s using this power to make a play for himself and he’s got a bunch of Harada’s old goons and psiots desperate for protection backing him up.

See, the American government has a system to make use of psiots: they capture and vivisect them, drug them into unconsciousness while doing nothing for their pain, and then plug a bunch of tech that tends to drive people insane into soldiers so that they can make use of powers stolen from those victims. It’s pretty horrific. The people that do this are good patriotic Americans who do their duty without questioning it, because patriotism.

This is the comic where theses three powers meet and find themselves exposed to the world, and if you think writer Rafer Roberts is going to make this anything less than epic and heartbreaking than you need to track down the back issues and understand what you’re getting into. Artist Darick Robertson, likewise, will lovingly craft every line of agony and hope and terror and…

Look, Marvel is having issues right now. DC Comics is doing better but who knows how long that will last? If you’re looking for an alternative to the big two, for an integrated world full of progressive superheroes and complex stories that really are the best the medium has to offer, this is it. This is the mature storytelling that everyone talks about and then misses done properly, this is the wonder and scope and scale that comics promised you.

This is also meant to be a jumping-on point, so jump on. You will not be disappointed.

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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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395

God of Comics: Eternal Warrior – Awakening #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

May 9, 2017

Eternal Warrior: Awakening #1 (Valiant Comics)

… Robert Venditti is returning to Valiant with the Eternal Warrior.

I’m continuing writing this directly from our article on Dragon Age: Knight Errant #1, which you can find here. So, yes, this, this comic right here, this is the comic I’m most looking forward to reading this week and that can be laid at the feet of Robert Venditti. The man wrote the initial fifty-issue run of X-O Manowar, the comic that Valiant used to relaunch itself and a comic we still talk about being the best of all comics.

Wanna know why? Click here~!

This is, sadly, a one-shot. It’s the second of four comics that Valiant is publishing to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the character. That’s not the sad part – the Eternal Warrior is a great concept, a man tied to the earth, kept alive by the life force of the planet to be both fist and steel. The sad part is that this isn’t an ongoing, and Robert Venditti is so good at getting to the core of Valiant’s characters.

Here’s the set-up: a man was born the youngest of three brothers, all princes in the ancient world: the first was intelligent, the second was strong, and the third was skilled. The skilled one died in some long-forgotten war but his brothers would not let him pass; the intelligent one discovered a means of bringing the skilled one back from the dead, and the strong one helped make it possible.

They succeeded in doing what they set out to do, but they destroyed their whole civilization in the process. Wiped it and every person in it from existence so that only the three of them remain. The intelligent one became lost in time, a phantom haunting different eras as he tried to chart when he was. The strong one, alone, became a drunk and would eventually become Armstrong over in Archer & Armstrong. And the skilled one…

His name is Gilad Anni-Padda, and the rite that brought him back from the dead tied him to the living earth forever, made him the champion of the biosphere as a whole. When forces gather that would destroy our world, destroy life, he is called to do battle once again. You can kill him but the killing never takes, and this is a tale from the ancient world when he’s just getting started, when he was forgotten who he is due to a vicious head wound and a single man’s pride is in danger of destroying humanity as it emerges from civilization’s cradle.

It’s pretty cool stuff that’s limited only by the single-issue format and it makes me hunger for more. The Eternal Warrior is such an interesting concept that needs to be expanded upon, its mythology given the respect that it deserves – especially in our modern world, where the pride of a few is going to destroy us all. Gilad is essentially the Lorax with axe and sword, someone who will make you listen, someone who will save humanity in spite of the pride or greed of our species. There’s something to be said about that.

Artist Renato Guedes and colorist Ulises Arreola capture a breadth of human emotion and create a world that feels real, that feels lived in and give life to Robert Venditti’s words. This comic is awesome and if you’re looking for an easy way to into Valiant or an alternative to Marvel, this is it.

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295

God of Comics: Faith #11 (Valiant Entertainment)

God Of Comics, Reviews

May 2, 2017

I love Faith. It’s hard not to. The character is designed to be loved; she’s the best part of any serious fandom, hope and dignity and compassion given flesh and superpowers. She was literally a fanfic writer and geek girl who got the power to fly and carry others and has stood toe-to-toe with some of the biggest scariest players in the Valiant-verse.

That list includes people like the Eternal Warrior, Peter Stanchek, Toyo Harada, X-O Manowar, Obidiah Archer… hell, she dated that last one. She was even recruited by Unity, the Valiant-equivalent of the Avengers, but left because those people couldn’t live up to her standards – and they felt bad for letting her down.

She’s awesome, is what I’m saying.

But there’s this weird thing where people view any sort of kindness or compassion as a personal attack. I think it comes from Ayn Rand’s Objectivism and the weird Mammon-cult that’s taken hold in the heart of America, but I know those are more recent faces of a much larger problem. It’s crab-bucket mentality taken to its logical extreme: how dare you be kind? How dare you be compassionate? A response born of knowing that an action is bad and doing it anyway.

Those are the sorts of enemies that Faith has managed to attract, and they are as ridiculous and selfish and horrifying as you’d expect. They’re terrible not for their power but for their reality. We know these villains. We meet them every day. And, yes, Faith has managed to beat them one at a time because they are awful and evil and self-destructive, but their hatred of her is greater than their hatred of one another – though perhaps not as great as their hatred of themselves.

See, their selfishness sees the pain they cause as part of a game. The people that they hurt and kill aren’t real, not for them. They’re tearing someone down because they think it’s fun and because they’re nihilists (even if they couldn’t spell it or understand what it means). They want to wear her down and destroy her identity and think that will make her like them and that will somehow make them okay people.

It won’t. It never does.

Cruelty solves nothing.

Jody Houser continues to write one of the best and most thoughtful superhero books on the shelves. Joe Eisma and Marguerite Sauvage illustrate everything beautifully, giving Faith presence and making the ugliness of her villains all the more apparent for their physical attractiveness. This comic is always a good conversation starter, and I urge you to pick it up and find out why.

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303

God of Comics: X-O Manowar #1

Books & Writing, Culture, God Of Comics, Reviews

March 22, 2017

X-O Manowar #1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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257

God of Comics: Bloodshot Reborn #1

Books & Writing, Culture, God Of Comics, Reviews

March 22, 2017

Bloodshot: Reborn #0 (Valiant Entertainment)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1353

God of Comics 2015-12-30

Culture, God Of Comics

December 29, 2015

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Black Magick #3Black Magick #3

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

 

Drax #2Drax #2

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

 

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

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

 

Jughead #3Jughead #3

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

 

Rat Queens #14Rat Queens #14

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

 

Southern Bastards #13Southern Bastards #13

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

 

Star Wars #14Star Wars #14

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

 

Sunstone Vol. 4Sunstone Vol. 4

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

 

Welcome Back #4Welcome Back #4

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

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782

God of Comics 2015-12-23

Culture, God Of Comics

December 22, 2015

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

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

 

Arcadia #7Arcadia #7

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

 

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

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

 

Bloodshot Reborn #9Bloodshot: Reborn #9

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

 

Daredevil #2Daredevil #2

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

 

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

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

 

Darth Vader #14Darth Vader #14

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

 

Deadly Class #17Deadly Class #17

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Justice League 3001 #7Justice League 3001 #7

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

 

Lazarus #21Lazarus #21

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Pretty Deadly #7Pretty Deadly #7

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

 

Rai #12Rai #12

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

 

Rocketeer At War #1Rocketeer: At War #1

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

 

Star-Lord #2Star-Lord #2

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

 

Switch #3Switch #3

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

 

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

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

 

Venom Space Knight #2Venom: Space Knight #2

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

 

Velvet #13Velvet #13

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

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471

God of Comics 2015-12-02

Culture, God Of Comics

December 1, 2015

IXth Generation #7IXth Generation #7

Okay, get this – the actual big bad of the series was revealed eight comics ago, at the end of Aphrodite IX. Over the course of that comic we were shown the significance of the name and number, introduced to the world, and shown what was at stake. This series has shown people shirking their responsibilities and now we’ve gone from nine people to save the world to five, and if those five can’t get their shit together than the Darkness will devour all that is. That’s how you set epic level stakes. Also, Stjepan Sejic does art, and I’ll read pretty much anything he does the art for.

 

Batman and Robin Eternal #9Batman and Robin Eternal #9

Remember when Bane was an interesting character? It feels like years have passed since then… when was it? The last version of Secret Six? Something like that. Someone among the writers seems to have remembered that Bane can be great, and given this writing team that’s not surprising. I’d pick up this comic just for that, but we’re also looking at what Bruce Wayne was up to back during his first year and what his connection to Mother is… and what the process is for this organization that makes custom people. Is DC Comics about to get their very own Purple Man

 

Daredevil #1Daredevil #1

Can we all agree that the Mark Waid run was inspired, and one of the better things to happen to the character since the Brian Michael Bendis run? Yeah? Yeah. Also, the Netflix original series helped jumpstart interest in the character, and in the wake of Secret Wars that means putting Matt back in New York. Interestingly, though, Matt is now working with the District Attorney’s office in Hell’s Kitchen, which should make for an interesting change of pace. Daredevil has a lot of expectation to live up to, and it’s going to be interesting to watch where this series goes.

 

Doctor Strange #3Doctor Strange #3

Jason Aaron is writing this, which is as close to a guarantee of excellence as comics can offer. He’s a master of epic-level storytelling, and this is a character that lends itself well to that. The first couple issues of this new series have established who Strange is and what he does, what role he fills in the Marvel Universe as a whole. This issue is going to go one better than that, and get into the core of his identity by stripping him of his magic and home and forcing him to make due with an impossible situation. That sounds like the best sort of Strange story, pun certainly intended.

 

Exit Generation #3Exit Generation #3

One of the best ideas for a comic ever is happening right now and you need to be reading it…! Ninety percent of humanity leaves Earth, and the remnants find themselves living in a Utopia. One boy becomes addicted to eighties action movies and wants to be an eighties action movie hero for real, and is given the chance when ALIENS INVADE. They’ve come to eat humans because that’s how they roll, and it’s up to a handful of humans to band together, invade the alien spaceship, and punch the invaders in the face~! This is sci-fi punk rock at it’s finest, and it is amazing.

 

Extraordinary X-Men #3Extraordinary X-Men #3

The evil that is Fox has caused all mutants to become sterile. The stupid that was Secret Wars brought Old Man Logan into our more familiar reality, where his younger self is dead. The interesting writing of the Bendis Uncanny run saw time-displaced Jean Grey leave the X-Men, which lasted about a week before ashe was roped back in. Also, Storm remembers that hating Scott Summers and fighting with Rachael Grey doesn’t make for an interesting character, Iceman is Iceman, and Magik is the most interesting character in this book. Will this be good? Does Marvel care? We’ll find out together~!

 

Gotham Academy #12Gotham Academy #12

So, our favorite kids at Gotham Academy decided to go exploring while on a field trip and one of them has gone missing. Instead of, say, going to the authorities or the demon-hunting headmaster for help, they’ve decided to take care things on their own. The mystery is leading them to the ruins of Arkham Asylum, which went from asylum to demon-infested hellhole back in Batman Eternal, but apparently we’re going to get some more background on Olive’s mom, the forgotten Bat-villain known as Calamity. This is how you instill dread and stakes in kid’s comics; this is pretty much the textbook example of how you write kids comics. Pick it up.

 

Harley's Little Black Book #1Harley’s Little Black Book #1

Speaking of things to pick up, I’ll grab pretty much anything with Harley on the cover at this point. Harley’s been kicking ass in her own series and her team-up with Power Girl, which was such a good idea that DC Comics has decided to pair Harley up with other heroes and villains. We’re starting off with a bang, as Harley discovers a plot to assassinate Wonder Woman and decides she’s the only person that can possibly stop it…! Because Harley…! Zaniness will ensue, also because Harley. This is going to be bi-monthly and is almost certain to be awesome.

 

Invincible Iron Man #4Invincible Iron Man #4

I never thought I’d be saying that an Iron Man comic would be awesome, not after Civil War and everything that followed. Tony was such a failure as a hero that even Marvel decided to make him a villain, which made him even less readable. If there’s one thing that’s really worked coming out of Secret Wars, though, it’s Tony becoming a hero again. This is very much the Tony of the movies, fun to read and be around, and they’ve turned Madame Masque into an a-list villain again and that’s a great thing. Also, Mary-Jane Watson escapes the quagmire of One More Day and moves on with her life.

 

John Flood #5John Flood #5

Things we know: there is a sinister agency that did something to the title character, and robbed him of his ability to sleep. This has given him an ability to see patterns that no one else notices, one of which allowed him to see a mass murderer that was also created by that same agency. Problem: the murderer noticed and is hunting him, so John framed himself for a crime to be taken to a police station to keep himself safe. Further problem: the murderer is killing his way through the police station. John’s bodyguard and friend is going to have to get him out before death. Neat. I love this comic.

 

Nailbiter #18Nailbiter #18

And on the note of crazed killers who are more than somewhat interesting, a small town in the middle of American nowhere has just given rise to its seventeenth serial killer, and those in the best position to stop things from getting worse have been stripped of the ability to do anything by other people that think they’re doing the right thing and are being taken advantage of. This all begs the question – what would you do to fight evil? How far into the darkness would you venture, and what sort of mark would it leave on your soul? This comic is incredible. Hunt it down.

 

Prez #6Prez #6

Speaking of incredible comics, Prez is one of those titles that is probably hitting a little too close to home. It isn’t getting the attention it justly deserves, so here goes: a young woman gets voted into the American Presidency be default when the corporate ogliarchy that controls a corrupted congress fails to notice. A Bernie Sanders stand-in gets in as Vice President, and they go about trying to save a world so lost in corruption and propaganda that nothing can be controlled anymore. This comic is insane, but so are the American Presidential Primaries. Read one to understand the other.

 

Red Wolf #1Red Wolf #1

Coming fresh from the idiocy of Secret Wars… something interesting~! Okay, okay, Secret Wars itself was idiotic and unnecessary, but some of the mini-series that killed time between when that mess began and when it ended were cool, and one of them stared a Native American Sheriff in 1872 acting as the lawman over a town populated by western versions of different Marvel characters, including a mayor by the name of Wilson Fisk. It’s an okay concept that had some great writing and good art to support it, enough to grant it an on-going and it’s been awhile since the 6th Gun gave us anything new.

 

Robin War #1Robin War #1

Gotham’s been kind of a mess since Batman and the Joker killed one another. Yeah, Bruce Wayne is still kicking around, but he isn’t Batman… Jim Gordan is wearing a Bubblegum Crisis-like hardsuit and is calling himself Batman while working with the GCPD. A bunch of kids have taken to calling themselves Robin, but Damien Wayne is back and he is not happy. The other former Robins (minus Steph Brown) are also back and not impressed. Oh, and the Court of Owls is there and they might do something to make people think they’re relevant. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.

 

Rowan's Ruin #3Rowan’s Ruin #3

So, there’s a girl named Katie that did a house-swap and is chilling across the pond and she disturbed a room that was never meant to be disturbed. Ghosts have ensued, and hauntings, and it hasn’t been nearly as much fun for Katie as she might have thought it would be. Her parents, meanwhile, are trying to make friends with the person that swapped houses, and that should go along just smashingly. As in, something is going to get smashed. Maybe Katie, maybe her parents. It’s a haunting fable, and these things don’t end well for anyone that isn’t a necromancer, or into necromancy.

 

Spidey #1Spidey #1

Ughhhhhhhhhh… okay. In another effort to recapture the energy and awesome of the original run of Spider-comics, Marvel is rehashing Peter Parker’s high school days again. It’s a retelling of stuff that’s been retold and retold, and, fine, whatever, I’m sure it will be fun and all and this is one of the things comics can do really well, revisit old concepts and make them relevant again. I just would rather see a comic where Peter didn’t sell his marriage to Satan, or at least a story where that actually mattered. I’d actually kill to write the latter. Just a twelve issue thing to kick start another new Spider-title for those of us that liked the marriage.

 

Star Wars #13Star Wars #13

Alright. You know how Marvel doesn’t seem to understand what to do with Spider-Man? The opposite holds true for the Star Wars comics: they know exactly what they’re doing. They took a year to show what everyone was doing between Episodes IV and V, setting the stage with entertaining tales, finally leading to their first event – Vader Down. Vader went hunting Luke and crashed on a small planet where the Rebels were training people to take down Vader, and Vader cut through them. Now, Leia gets her chance to meet Vader for the first time since Vader tortured his daughter. I am almost certain that this will make this week’s top five comics.

 

The Storyteller - Dragons #1The Storyteller: Dragons #1

So, a while back Boom Studios teamed with Jim Henson productions to give us the Storyteller, a series of tales that looked at old witchy fables and gave us some truly awesome stories to share. The second verse features more of the same, only instead of witches we get dragons. Told by a variety of writers and illustrated by a bunch of artists, this comic will look at draconic legends from around the world, starting with the Native American lore detailing the Horned Snake and the Thunderbird. This is going to be stupidly epic, so give it a look when you go comic shopping.

 

Toil & Trouble #4Toil & Trouble #4

Boom Studios continues to explore a war between the witches of MacBeth, where the three of them are engaged in a contest using the peoples of Scotland as pawns in a much larger game. Two witches stand against one another, with a third keeping the rules between them – they are family of a sort, and so much more than mere witches. There’s some awesome stuff going on here, the slow build of the first couple of issues laying the groundwork for the bloodbath we know is coming and the strange conflict between the Wyrd sisters. This is awesome stuff.

 

The Woods #18The Woods #18

This, though… this is in a league of its own. The Woods deals with a high school that was transported from earth to some other place, and everyone is trying to make due in the wake of that change. Problem is, there’s some people that are in it only for themselves and they’re making some impossibly shortsighted deals with outside powers to satisfy their own greed. There really isn’t anything else like this book on the shelves today, either in terms of emotional guy-punch writing or the insanity of the art. Pick this up; you won’t be disappointed.

 

Unfollow #2Unfollow #2

Here’s one of those ideas that you know someone, somewhere, is rich and terrible enough to find funny. A multi-billionaire is going to leave his money, evenly-split, among one hundred and forty strangers, or however many of them are still alive at the time of his death. Does this mean that some of them are going to try and kill the others? Yes. Does this mean there’s a good chance for character development, pathos, and ethical horror? You bet. This comic is unrelenting and promises to ramp things up quickly. Can anyone hold to ethics in the face of this sort of temptation?

 

X-O Manowar - Commander Trill #0X-O Manowar: Commander Trill #0

Aric of Dacia had a rough go of it, sure, but he’s the most powerful hero in the Valiant Universe because he was chosen by a god-like suit of living plant armor. You want to see someone who’s had a really rough go of it, look at the alien that would be his nemesis, Commander Trill of the alien Vine. Dude watched his god choose a member of a slave race, and a slave that he captured and crippled. He could do nothing when the God Hand came for his people and had to watch that slave save some of him. Now, he’s going to try and conquer the earth… and Aric again stands in his way. Valiant doesn’t like one-dimensional baddies, though, so expect this comic to dig deep into the layers of Trill’s psyche.

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