Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Magdalena The Seventh Sacrament Review

The Magdalena The Seventh Sacrament a Religious Story in Time for Christmas

I’ve never been an overly religious guy, I did spend a few years in a Christian school, and for a lack of a tackier term I’m more spiritual than religious.  With that disclosure I have to say that Christian dogma and history intrigues me.  Angels and demons, saints and sinners, Christian dogma, particularly Catholic dogma, is rich with some amazing characters and stories.  Everyone knows Pope Francis but not everyone knows that the original Saint Francis of Assisi was a pretty cool guy too.  Saint Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment and founded a bunch of different Catholic orders.  He was more than good guy, he was a saint!  Any writer worth his/her salt knows a good base for a story arc when they see it and the Writer of The Magdalena The Seventh Sacrament, Tini Howard, was smart enough see some potential in Catholicism.

The Magdalena The Seventh Sacrament is written by Tini Howard, artwork by Aileen Oracion, color by Ross Campbell, letters by Troy Peteri, cover art by ROM Darkness Et Folly, and edited by Betsy Gonia.  I truly admire artists; I can’t even draw stick figures, and I really covet their skills.  This artistic team has put together a brilliantly colorful and artistic book, with deep rich colors and an almost pastel or oil painting feel to it.  Take any criticism and/or observation about art that I offer with a grain of salt, because like I said, I’m no artist and I’m also color blind.  I do however know what I like and can see some good art for what it is despite my handicaps. One of the things I look for in comic book art is the portrayal of emotion through facial expressions and other non-verbal cues and this book does a great job with that.  The main character in the beginning, Detective Pezzini, expresses her demeanor and confidence through facial expressions and within the first two pages I was hooked.

Magdalena first page

Even though I was drawn into the book in the first few pages the story doesn’t follow Detective Pezzini, it actually flashes back when she shows her discovery of old Catholic texts to an Archbishop from New York named Cardinal Everett Ramos.  The texts and the story that follows is centered on a nun named Agatha during the Crusades.  Agatha is with a party that is attempting to obtain a relic for the Catholic Church.

As Agatha’s party reaches the castle and feast with the king everything seems to be going as planned, but of course that would be a great time to introduce the bad guys.  The bad guys in this case happen to be ugly, pointy eared, troll faced demons.  The demons attack the town and the castle looking for the relic that happens to be fairly secure.  Agatha is prompted by the priest she was traveling with to find the relic and guard it, but Agatha is so BA that she not only finds the relic but she saves the young prince as well.


Agatha is very close to God and her near saint hood is expressed through an exchange with a tired and hungry prince and her attempt to find food for him.  She allows him to rest and goes off to find some food, while her searching comes up empty she prays for help from God and he delivers a pair of nearly every edible animal in the forest.  I like this part of the story because it shows exactly how godly and caring Agatha is and how she not only deserves the help of God but is close to him in her actions of kindness.

Agatha continues with her journey, even after losing the prince to the cold, and stumbles upon a monastery run by typically pompous and arrogant monks.  As she seeks asylum and a warm place to rest the demons follow her and take advantage of the greedy arrogant monks and pay their way into the monastery.  The demons attack after nightfall and are in search of the Spear of Christ that Agatha carries with her.  The fight between Agatha and the demons is pretty epic as Agatha prays during the fight and becomes more and more BA with every word of prayer.  She turns into a true warrior of God, armor and all, and banishes the demons back to hell saving the day for the jerk Monks.


As the battle comes to an end the story flashes back to Detective Pezzini and Cardinal Everett discussing the ramifications of that day and they talk over panels of what happened.  In the end the Cardinal is impressed and the Detective is happy to give the texts over to him.  I like the ending but I really wish this book was more than a one shot.  I think there is room on peoples shelves for stories like this and I would buy issue two if they made one.

I can’t hide my bias for Catholic dogma and stories, they’re too good and too rich with history, so I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  Not only did this book entertain but it came out just in time for the Christmas season, an excellent marketing strategy if you ask me.  I would definitely recommend this book, not just to Christians, but to anyone.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Best Comic I Read Today Is . . . Batman and Robin #37

This week saw two new Grant Morrison comics come out, along with the main Batman comic and Zero by Ales Kot, all among my favorite monthly releases.  Still, Batman and Robin #37 was the best comic I read today, and for one reason:



This is the penultimate chapter in the Robin Rises storyline and the issue that sees Robin return from the dead.  No “Spoiler Alert” needed as writer Peter Tomasi already divulged what would happen when he Tweeted a picture of Damian Wayne a week or so ago.  Couple that with the title of the arc, Robin Rises, and you have a pretty good idea of where the story is going.

What made this issue so enjoyable was the flat-out action.  I mean, Batman takes on Darkseid, and wins – again - in a thirteen page fight scene that is nothing short of epic!  The art of Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray and John Kalisz is as dynamic as I have ever seen it in this New 52 book that I feel deserves much more recognition than it gets.

The reason Batman and Robin flies under the radar is due to its simplicity.  This is a story about a father looking for redemption and finding it.  There is no prolonged exposition in this book, and Tomasi and Gleason manage to boil it all down to a single image at the end of the issue of father and son, Batman and Robin, hugging.

The next panel encapsulates the entire Robin Rises arc into five words when Batgirl leans into Alfred and says:

“. . . omigod . . . he really did it . . .”.

And Tomasi and Gleason really did – they created a comic book about a dead kid coming back to life that was action packed and yes . . .



Oh – and Robin has super powers now.

- Aloha -


Friday, December 12, 2014

Drifter from Image Comics Review

A Sci-Fi Tale from Image Comics: Drifter

When talking about comic books the phrase “The big two” comes up a lot, and for good reason, there iconic labels, but if truth be told the phrase should be “The big three.”  Since its inception in 1992 by famed illustrator Todd McFarlane, and an army of upset illustrators, Image Comics has redefined what the comic industry is capable of.  Image was an instant success and has helped to develop amazing artists and artist owned property.  Drifter is just one of their new titles that have made a splash.

Drifter is scripted by Ivan Brandon, and edited by Sebastian Girner.  The artwork is done by Nic Klein, lettering by Clem Robins, and the logo and design by Tom Muller.  The cover is a portrait of a man, the main character Abram Pollux, with Drifter spelled out in dots underneath him.  The cover art is vastly different from the comic art; the cover is a very realistic looking portrait style close up of Abram’s face while the inside is more of a normal comic feel.  The art of the cover as well as the inside is top notch and on par with any expectations, the characters are lively and telling in every essential way.

Drifter ship crash landing

The book starts off with Abram Pollux falling out of space and crash landing on a planet only to nearly drown.  He ends up crawling out of the water and accidentally killing an alien that attempts to help him.  The alien wasn’t alone and its companion rushes to the aid of its dying friend, and Pollux watches it die in its friends arms.  I feel like this sets up the ideas of the book perfectly, a drifter that has personal issues and questionable morals.

After Pollux kills the alien he is shot by a mysterious character in a suit that reminds me a little bit of Star Lord, a gas mask and goggles design with a cape.  At this point I assume that the main character won’t get killed off in the first couple of pages but the events have already drawn me into the story and the character.

[caption id="attachment_1177" align="alignnone" width="195"]Pollux and the mystery man Pollux getting shot[/caption]

The story picks up with Pollux in a hospital setting and introduces a jack of all trades sheriff and doctor named Lee.  Lee is talking to a man named Jonah about what seems to be some serious stuff when Pollux wakes up.  Lee and Pollux have an exchange that stresses the desperation on the planet.  There exchange and the tone of desperation sets up the world Pollux has crash landed on well and it fits with the ideas already presented.  Pollux puts the feel of the book perfectly when he says, “Been half-drowned and burnt up, crashed and then shot in this place.”  It seems like a desert, empty, desolate place that struggles to stay alive, just like Pollux.

So far Pollux has had nothing but bad experiences with the planet and the people/aliens on it, save Lee, but the book transitions flawless from the world setup to Pollux leaving the little town and searching for his wrecked ship.  Lee is clearly intrigued by Pollux and curious about what he is leaving for and follows him.  Pollux and Lee talk as they search for the wreckage of Pollux’s ship.  Lee wonders where Pollux came from and what he hoped to find in the deserts of the planet but during his explanation of where he came from Lee sees that things don’t match up.  Pollux explains where he came from and when his ship went down but Lee seems surprised by his answers.  They end the book with Pollux and Lee standing on a ridge overlooking the wreckage while Lee tells Pollux that wreck happened over a year ago.  I understand the need for a hook when dealing with an ongoing series and Drifter leaves it open with a serious cliffhanger.

[caption id="attachment_1175" align="alignnone" width="343"]The Town The Town[/caption]

I liked the world that they set up, the desperation and desperado feel of a Wild West type planet, and the intriguing characters that are somewhat mysterious and dark.  The world is nice but the character development is even better, I feel invested in Lee with her reluctant heroism and sympathetic of Pollux and his misfortune.  I also have a soft spot for Sci-Fi as you may have noticed with my review of Salvagers and eternal love of Star Wars and Star Trek.  Sci-Fi is a genre of literally never ending possibility for characters and worlds and it seems to me the team behind Drifter have a vast world in store and I will be tuning in for issue two to find out if that is true.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Best Comic I Read Today Is . . . Bitch Planet #1

When I was in college, I was one class short of earning a minor in Women’s Studies.  It was the early ‘90’s, and diversity was the buzzword on my campus.  Courses like Feminist Theory, Psychology of Women and Women Writers had waiting lists for admission.  Bitch Planet would have been required reading in all three.


Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro convert, subvert and invert the usual comic book construct, which adds to the subtext of what this book is doing to social paradigms.  Bitch Planet #1 opens on Earth, and a woman running late for an appointment.  The panel composition takes us from the perceived freedom of the outside (though based on the billboards and signage around there is no real freedom on this Earth), to the confines of a recording studio by utilizing a variation of the 4 x 3 panel grid, the outside retreating until, in the last row, there is one outdoor panel and three indoor panels, tracking the woman’s arrival.  She then goes on to record a subliminal creation myth designed for the Non-Compliant, women sent to an off-world penal colony (pun intended), to hear while they sleep in suspended animation.

We are then introduced to Marian Collins and her husband, who is seemingly attempting to gain her release from “Bitch Planet”.  There’s a fantastic page, again, a 4 x 3 grid, where Marian and her husband explain why they want freedom, each from their own separate physical prison, though Mr. Collins is in a prison of infidelity as he admits to having an affair with Dawn, a younger woman.

Marian goes through the rest of the book as the protagonist, until the reveal at the end where the entire story is flipped upside down.  Marian, a fairly typical white woman with whom the reader has spent the entire issue attempting to relate, is killed, and the real protagonist, Kamau Kogo, takes center stage.


Kamau has an afro.

Kamau knows how to kick all sorts of ass.

Kamau is not your typical protagonist.

Kamau is someone I need to read more about.

Bitch Planet isn’t just a tremendous first issue.  Bitch Planet is a call to arms for anyone creating comics today.

As Christopher Sebela announced last night on Twitter – “Bitch Planet #1 is a giant mic dropping on all our heads.”

- Aloha -

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. What They Become Review (Spoilers)

What They Become Delivers Big Time

OK, as always, spoilers ahead. This week SUPER MAJOR SPOILERS. So turn back now if you haven't watched yet.



Wow, what an episode. I was genuinely excited for the entirety of this episode. I really didn't want the show to end, and that's a first for me and Agents of SHIELD.  This episode really delivered everything that both fans of the TV show and comic fans have wanted out of Agents of SHIELD.  Tonight's episode was pretty much all about Skye, or as we finally learned, "Daisy." I have to give credit to the Internet theorist for nailing it on the mystery behind Skye's origin. I have read theories for a couple of month's now that Skye was actually Daisy Johnson and that her father was Dr. Hyde. While some of these characters' back-stories have been ret-conned for the TV show, the theories are otherwise spot-on.  It was confirmed on tonight's episode that Skye is actually Daisy Johnson, aka Quake, an Agent of SHIELD from the comics who was trained by Nick Fury and also possesses "seismic powers." We also learned that "The Doctor" was in fact Dr. Cal Zabo aka Dr. Hyde. On top of that, the Obelisk was finally confirmed to be a part of the Inhumans lore when it opened to reveal a terrigen crystal which immediately blasted Skye, Raina, and Trip with terrigen mist. (Sad face, more on that later).

What They Become - Quake

I'm going to stick with the same format for this review that I used last week and opt not to recap the whole episode.
The Good

The good stuff this week? How about everything! Truly, this was one of the best episodes to date because the show runners finally and truly capitalized on all the potential for this show. Lots of people love to hate this show, but I don't think people often put two and two together that Agents of SHIELD is based in the same universe as the MCU. To be honest, it's easy to forget. The scope of Marvel's TV landscape is not nearly as grand as the movies, but in the end, "it's all connected" as they love to remind us. For once, this week, this show really felt like an exciting part of the MCU. We are seeing the first inkling of the Inhuman lore sneaking into the MCU as a whole, and it didn't come from a teaser in an after credits scene on Age of Ultron. It happened on a Tuesday night in your living room. This kind of stuff is why Agents of SHIELD has so much potential. If they keep connecting the dots like this for the rest of season 2, it's going to be a hell of a season. On another note, tonight's episode really came through for the hardcore comic book fans. Seeing Quake and Dr. Hyde come to life in the show is what comic book fans live for and it's those same comic book fans who were able to puzzle out this season's mysteries before anyone else. I love this because it's like the show is written to literally reward dedicated comic book fans yet it doesn't isolate casual fans from the show. In other good news, we got to see some badass gun play from Coulson taking out Whitehill (less badass, more so just glad to see him dead) and Skye blasting Ward without a moment's hesitation (really badass).  One other highlight was Kyle MacLachlan's performance as the emotionally ravaged father of Skye. The show has tried to teach us to hate him, but once he told the story of losing his wife and daughter, it was really heartbreaking. MacLachlan truly killed it with a disturbing blend of psychosis, misery, and despair coming through the character.
The Bad

Not much this week that I can really complain about as far as the execution of this episode goes. The cast felt a bit lop-sided tonight with most of the Agents left on the sideline to Skye's story. Also, the bit about the hazmat suits and the bombs in the temple felt pretty pointless once it was all said and done.  In fact, this was all just confusing sometimes. Why did Mac get possessed in the temples but no one else did? What was the point of the hazmat suits when Fitz, Simmons, and Trip first went down to the tunnels? That can be forgiven considering that 95% of this episode was so good. The worst part of tonight's episode was the loss of Agent Triplett. They did a great job setting us up for a punch to the gut, first making us wonder if Mac was going to be alive. Then they let him go only to swipe Trip from us at the last second. It was super sad to see him crumble in the last scenes of the episode. At the same time, I don't see why it was necessary to kill him. It was truly a testament to the character of Triplett that after running toward four ticking time bombs and living, he stills dives in head first to save his friend Skye. One thing I feel completely justified in complaining about is the winter break before we get to see all this play out more. I can't wait to see more of super-powered Skye and all the Inhumans to come!
The Be All, End All

I can finally say unequivocally that I ams SOLD on Agents of SHIELD. It's sad to say it took a season and a half to reach that status, but they are truly there now. Taking a lesson from the Captain America: The Winter Solider crossover and keeping the bigger MCU within view more and more, Agents of SHIELD has finally become an essential piece of the puzzle. Before, you could simply have said that Agents was auxiliary to the overall story of the MCU, but now Agents is actually taking the lead on storytelling. With three years to go before the Inhumans come to the silver screen, Agents has a ton of time to play with and develop all the madness that comes with baby Inhumans running around the Earth. It's going to be a ton of fun and a welcome breath of fresh air for the often times stuffy show. Sure, there are just as many chances for Agents to mess up the Inhumans, but if Marvel has proven anything this year it's that when they take risks, they pay off big time.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Path of Exile - The Karui Way Review

Path of Exile a Brutal World of Fun from Dynamite

It seems like some other comic book companies, besides the big two, have started to hit a stride and Dynamite is no exception.  Dynamite is responsible for some iconic comics like Vampirella, Red Sonja, Pathfinder, and adaptations of other mediums like Army of Darkness and Battlestar Galactica, among others.  Although I like Dynamite and many of their titles I find their website fairly hard to navigate because of the sheer volume of titles they have.  I wish they had a more manageable website, or at least a better search filter, that way when I go to look at their titles I can arrange them to my liking.  I feel the site would be better served if I didn’t have to weed through old titles and outdated books to get to see the newest stuff.  As of now, when I look at their titles it starts from A to Z and covers a very large catalog.  A filter that can put new releases and newer titles first would be a nice feature.

Path of Exile follows in the footsteps of one of Dynamite's titles, Pathfinder, where the world is violent and unforgiving, and filled with menacing people.  It starts off with some exposition by the main character, a poet named Victario, sitting in a coffee-house writing.  The exposition is short and whispers of a thing called the Purity Rebellion, but Victario quickly moves to a flashback where he is in the background watching a fight between two guys that resemble something from Hawaiian culture.  The men have on grass skirts and are tattooed in tribal style.  The caption at the top of the page says “Ngamakanui four years ago” so there is no confusion that it is a flashback.  The bottom of the page shows an older white-haired man with a sour look on his face folding his arms and all he says is “savagery.”  This reminded me of a few different things, first being the Game of Thrones when Daenerys Targaryen was getting married to Khal Drogo.  The similarities are certainly there; the tattoos, the fighting for supremacy within the tribal setting, and the judgmental people from a different culture calling them savages.


As the book rolls on its reveals that Victario is on some sort of good will mission to gain the Karui as allies against another threat, Emperor Chitus.  I can get a feel for the main character easily through the first few pages, he seems upset and a little stressed out in the first page, but in the flashback he seems confident and cocky as he talks to his superior, manipulates the new Karui king, and eyeballs a Karui woman.

As the two men fight, a plump guy and an in-shape guy,  the one in better shape gets the better of the other.  Again, the Game of Thrones comparison holds true because the fight was over who should be king.  Even the new king’s temperament is that of Khal Drogo, he gets angry at the white-haired man named Voll the High Templar when he attempts to talk strategy of fighting and suggests the Karui use archers.  The interaction between Victario the new king and the woman is set up well and foreshadows future problems with the way Voll calls the Karui savages and how hostile the new king is.

The narrative throughout the book is about three nations waging war, but also about Victario and his relationships within the players of the greater story.  It’s about Victario and his experiences within the narrative presented, particularly the nation Victario comes from trying to win a war against the Emperor Chitus and the Eternals.  This is a very classic trope that has been used time and again but in cases like this I don’t mind as long as the work is done well.  I believe they hit mark because all three worlds are intriguing and have something to be admired.  The Roman like world of Victario, the English style castles and armor of the Eternals, the hardcore BA fighting style of the tribal like Karui.  All of the styles fit well with each other and make for a good story as well as a visually stunning book.

Throughout the book Victario pulls some side stepping stuff to insure a victory and finds himself on the wrong side of the Karui kings favor, but in the end he gets a kiss from the girl and victory.  The part of the narrative that is different is the way the things he has done haunts him.  He clearly schemes and plots by first getting the Karui King drunk to get him to agree with their plans, but then he convinces the woman he likes to take the Karui woman on a hill and to shot arrows down on their enemies in clear violation of their war policies.  I feel like all is fair in love and war but the Karui stick to a strict woman in the kitchen approach to life.  I don’t really agree with the Karui style but it is necessary for the storytelling and in the end the woman save everyone, including Victario.

As the flashback comes to an end the Karui go in and slaughter all the Eternals; men, woman, and children.  It then flashes back to the beginning where Victario is explaining how the Purity Rebellion started, with the day the Karui won the battle against the Eternals.  He calls the day the Karui massacre the Eternals “A dress rehersal” and leaves open a great narrative for the following books with a huge, black, flaming, Karui King, named Kaom.  The Poet Victario is visibly upset and has a vision of people on fire all over the streets before he flashes to King Kaom and this foreshadowing is just enough to keep me interested for the second issue.


The book is created by Erik Olofsson, story by Edwin McRae, script by Royal McGraw, artwork by Carlos Rodriguez, color by Tamra Bonvillain, and letters by Marshall Dillon.  The book is beautiful and brightly colored.  Each race of people has a distinct style that shines wonderfully on every page, with hints of Roman, Old English and Hawaiian styles to the people.  The facial expressions work well with each character and portray their individual style well, Rodriguez and Bonvillain also conveys feelings and moods through facial expressions which for me always indicates a great artist.  It's not just the people who hit the mark, the fight scenes are pretty amazing as well, great fighting panels with a lot of action and even some good gory bloody panels for a bit of the shock factor.

Karui images

I usually mention that I’m not a fan of heavy criticism and that is true in this case but for good reason, the book is really fun and the art is on point.  I seriously suggest this book to anyone that is into a Game of Thrones style barbaric world.  It made its way to list of titles I’m following and even though I will read just about any issue one I don’t always pick up issue two.   In this case I'm sure they will have a successful run and I will certainly be reading on.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Writer Blocks - The Manhattan Projects

It was 2012 and I was at the New York Comic Con.  The first anthology work I had ever submitted had just been published and I had successfully pitched on a work-for-hire gig that would be picked-up by Hound Comics.  To make the long weekend even better, Grant Morrison, the man whose work got me back into reading and writing comics after too long of an absence, was going to be on numerous panels, the best of which was a writer’s panel with Brian K Vaughan and some guy named Jonathan Hickman.

While Vaughan was an excellent speaker and listening to Morrison discuss story and craft was like having a brief audience with an Earthbound God, it was what Jonathan Hickman had to say that really stuck with me.  He and I had some similarities:  we were both in our late 30’s, married, two kids, and stuck in a career we were slowly growing to hate and felt like we were wasting away any talent we may have to contribute to the world.  And six years earlier, this guy had followed his dream.  He had been nominated for a few Eisner Awards and was re-launching the flagship of the Marvel Universe – The Avengers!  Naturally, on the train ride home I read my just-purchased copy of The Manhattan Projects #1, and from that moment Jonathan Hickman became a writer I follow, admire, and constantly learn from.


The Manhattan Projects is historical fiction, and historical fiction usually comes in two varieties: a fictionalized account of what happened behind the scenes of a world event, keeping that event and its ramifications intact, or an alternate history tale, with a historical event going in a different direction and throwing the world into chaos.  What Hickman and collaborator Nick Pitarra have done in The Manhattan Projects is blend both of these plot devices, creating a world of science populated by known geniuses like Einstein, Oppenheimer and Feynman along with Yuri Gagarin, William Westmoreland, JFK, LBJ, and FDR, among others.  This creates a fun house mirror effect where what we’re reading in the book is a distorted version of famous events throughout history.


The hallmark of a Jonathan Hickman comic is the intricate plot, and while The Manhattan Projects has a lot of humor, and does operate within the confines of historical context, there are plenty of plot twists, set-ups, reveals, seeds, Easter eggs, whatever term you want to use.  The story unfolds slowly, building in complexity through issue #25, which ends the first major movement of the work. The second part begins in March of 2015 and Hickman has promised a few changes.  Instead of the sprawling ensemble cast we’ll get to see more personal narratives about a few characters at a time.  Change is good, but I hope he leaves the Dune-inspired quotes from the mythical book Clavis Aurea: The Recorded Feynman that lend so much subtext to what is happening in the issue. 

Hickman’s work has been criticized as “text bookish”, and I can see why, but that’s what I love about this book in particular.  I don’t want my fiction spoon fed to me when I read or when I write, and I don’t mind looking-up references to political leaders or event dates or even historical footage to gain a deeper understanding of what Hickman and Pitarra are doing in The Manhattan Projects.

That’s the type of work I want to create.

If only Jonathan Hickman hadn’t had the courage to take a leap of faith and chase his dreams first.

- Aloha -


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Best Comic I Read Today Is . . . Crossed + 100 #1

I’m not a “fan” of zombie apocalypse comics.  I don’t read The Walking Dead and only watch the show once it’s on Netflix.  I have never read an issue of Crossed or any of its spin-off titles.  So why would I buy a book that takes place a century after the events in another comic book I have never read, using tropes I’m not too fond of? 

The answer should be obvious - Alan Moore


Moore is the master of world building.  Like he did in his first major comic book work, what would come to be called Miracleman, Moore is taking the familiar and making it different.  From the odd word choices and speech patterns of the characters, reminiscent of the Nadsat of A Clock Work Orange, to the way the “infected” are portrayed and ultimately dealt with, Moore and artist Gabriel Andrade introduce the reader to this world in a way that makes the other titles in the  Crossed series unnecessary.

What led to this world of violent, sex crazed zombies?   

How did this group survive and how do they know what is happening across the country?   

Who cares?  

Through journal entries from our main character, Future Taylor, and the spot-on dialogue between the other survivors, as well as the excellently paced action scenes, I learned all I needed to know. 

Crossed + 100 isn’t a zombie / horror comic.  Sure, it has all the trappings of one, but at its heart it’s a science fiction mystery set in a post apocalyptic landscape.  The “infected” are horrible, the threats are real and there’s always the specter of death hanging around the characters, but the real story doesn’t seem to be one of survival.

It’s discovering the origin of the picture Future Taylor found in a makeshift shrine, and what secret it could hold for our adventurers.

So I’ll put aside my zombie-apocalypse bias for the next six issues.

After all – it’s Alan Moore.

- Aloha -

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ye Who Enter Here Review (Spoilers)

Ye Who Enter Here Helps Agents Finally Finds Balance with Penultimate Mid-Season Episode

Spoilers ahead. Go watch, then come back and read.


Agents of SHIELD's penultimate mid-season episode, "...Ye Who Enter Here" goes up against high stakes and delivers. There is much buzz on the internet about the potential tie-ins to the Inhumans on this season of Agents. Tonight's episode, the final episode before the winter finale, really sealed the deal. Raina, the on again, off again friend of Hydra, came into the foray thanks to Patton Oswald's impressive umbrella cloaking technology. (Seriously though, that scene was genuinely funny, impressive on the visuals, and surprising, all things that Agents needs much, much more of.) Skye was beset with the task of "interrogating" Raina in hopes Raina's connection to Skye's father would create an emotional connection. It works and Raina not only gushes about Skye's father, but reveals that.... wait for it.... drumroll please.... KREE TECHNOLOGY is involved. Yep, you heard me right. Agents of SHIELD has gone Kree official. Now there are many things left to fall in to place after this revelation, but its seems 99% sure that the second half of season two will be highly connected to the Inhumans.

Normally, at this point, I would do an episode recap, but considering the Spoiler warning at the top, I'm assuming you've watched the episode. So, instead of a shitty recap (seriously, just go watch the show), I'll go ahead and lay out my analysis.
The Good

OK, what's good about Agents of SHIELD this week? The character development is truly on point. I am really starting to care about all the characters again. And I must say that I think this is the case because the ensemble nature of the show has expanded quite a bit. With so many characters in the mix, I don't feel forced to care about characters that I just wasn't compelled to care about before now. On the flip side, we've watched our core characters long enough now that I'm actually starting to care about them. The newest auxiliary characters, à la Mac, Lance Hunter, Mockingbird (can I really call her auxiliary?) have added a new tier of characters that might just be more interesting than the original crew. With enough history and dynamic between them, it's hard to deny the strong family vibe going on between Coulson, May, Skye, Fitz and Simmons. On the evil end of the spectrum, Ward has really come into his own as a nasty villain. As an antagonist, Ward is easy to hate, and what else could you ask for from a villain? He is far better as a bad guy than he ever was as an agent.
The Bad

The really shitty side of all this is that it's quite clear that Agents is stretching things out. Maybe, just maybe, next week's winter finale will be as good as tonight, but I highly doubt it. It's pretty clear that the show runners are setting up next week for a solid cliffhanger before a long break when we can hope the show picks back up with some Inhuman madness. I'm excited to see what Agent Carter can bring to the Marvel TV pantheon, but at the same time, I don't like it when Agents of SHIELD strings us along. Its pretty much the major exercise of the entire show, stringing us along. This show, like many comic book inspired TV shows, are trying to exercise a careful balance of telling great stories and telling frequent stories. It's something that you'd think serialized storytelling would lend itself toward, but there is always the struggle of budgets that TV just can't keep up like illustrated stories can.
The Be-All and End-All

Agents of SHIELD continues to be a show with immense unrealized potential. The only thing that keeps me coming back for more is that they are slowly, very slowly capitalizing on the latent potential. This week was one of the best. I literally was freaking out when Mac fell down that deep ass after Mockingbird tased the shit out of him. The dynamic between Fitz and Simmons was pretty heartbreaking. The father-daughter dynamic of Skye and Coulson actually has me caring about them. Agent May continues to be badass, even when she is just being impersonated by Hydra Agent 33. Lance Hunter and Bobbi Morse are staring to feel like real people with a believable post-divorce, working relationship. (I know a lot of people love their bickering, but I frankly found it obnoxious.) I don't have high hopes for next week's show, but as I find myself saying again and again, I'll keep watching.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

TMNT Movie and the IDW Comic Series

Heroes in a Half Shell

I felt like this review needed to be done for a few reasons; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are iconic, the movie was pretty big at the box office, and I think the IDW comics are extremely underrated and a great read.  One of the original creators of the TMNT, Kevin Eastman, has a hand in the creation of the comic.  Anytime an original creator of something has a hand in the reboot I feel like it lends credibility and extra creativity that may have been overlooked in the original.  Basically it gave Eastman an opportunity to rethink and redo the TMNT as only an original creator can, and he delivers with the series.

I have never been one for negativity and downgrading, especially because that seems to be what the internet is full of these days, but I have to start this review with what I don’t like about the movie.  This way I get the negative out of the way and don’t ruin my mood by being a Debbie Downer.  Although I have some opinions that are on the down side I also have some good stuff to say so never fear.


The biggest problem I have with the movie is the way they did Splinter’s origin and his ties to martial arts.  In the movie they had Splinter and the turtles as lab specimens that were being experimented on.  I don’t take issue with those facts because it follows close to the IDW origin but they leave out the back story of how Hamato Yoshi/Splinter and Oroku Saki/Shredder became enemies and how it relates to Hamato Yoshi being reincarnated as the rat and his sons as the turtles.  In the comics they have ties to their former lives and carry all the knowledge with them but in the movie they become family out of necessity after a lab fire where April saves them.  Again, I wish they followed closer to the IDW version of the origin but even if they didn’t do that they could have done anything better than what they did.  I would have even settled for the original comic version of the origin where Splinter is the pet rat that learns from Hamato and is later transformed by the mutagen.  I just felt like it was lack luster and makes me wonder why they're so involved with fighting the Foot Clan if they have no real ties to them.

As if the lack of a good origin wasn't bad enough they play off the master martial arts skills as a fathering technique.  Splinter explains that the boys were preoccupied with pop culture stuff and realized that they needed something to take up their time and conveniently stumbled upon a stupid little picture book about Ninjutsu.  Of course with only ten pages of stick figures doing a complex martial art Splinter was able to teach himself everything about Ninjutsu and mastered all four weapons just in time to teach the turtles.  Sorry but I would be more inclined to believe he was actually reincarnated over finding a picture book and teaching himself what takes years to master in something that probably equate to a year or so.  I feel like this mocks martial arts and is just an excuse to get away from supernatural or spiritual stuff like reincarnation.  I don’t understand the move and I wouldn't have done it.

Now that the negative has been put out there lets balance that with some of the stuff that I like, or at least didn't hate.  Megan Fox as April is what it is, she is very beautiful but somewhat dry as an actress, therefore the casting of Will Arnett was brilliant because he provided the comedy and balance to her dry acting.  Even though I wasn't super impressed with Megan Fox I did like how they made her a reporter and stuck to those origins, kudos for that, but I would have also been satisfied if she was younger like in the IDW series.  They connect her to the big company responsible for the mutagen through her father, which again is a good move, but they switched up the company names and CEO’s that are involved.  I’m not sure what this switch means for sequels and possible connections to Krang or any of the possible story lines that could have come from IDW’s comics.  I just hope that they get more creative than a picture book to explain away a major plot line.  In the comic Krang is heavily tied to the company Stockgen but in the movie they don't hint to anything that may or may not happen later.

One of the coolest things they did was introducing Karai.  Karai is one of the most BA characters in the Turtle universe and I’m more than glad they finally gave her a fairly prominent role.  I like how they leave open the possibility of seeing her in the future but if she is in the next movie, or movies, I hope they have her become more of a leader and kick more ass.  She has the potential to become one of the best bad guys out because of the drive she shows for becoming the Foot leader, at least if they stick to the IDW version of her.   In the comic she is cold, conniving, and ruthless, just like the Shredder.  I feel like they could capture that well with her character.  I also feel like her relationship as the Shredders granddaughter can lend some creative spice to the bad guy side and can humanize the Foot Clan a little bit.


Say what you will about Michael Bay but the man knows how to do action, his résumé is full of block buster hits, and he is now responsible for bringing to life two of my favorite childhood cartoons.  The trailer teased a nice action scene or two and they didn't disappoint.  The best action scene is about five minutes of the turtles sliding down a hill on their shells like they were toboggans.  It wasn’t just the sledding scene, nearly all the fight scenes were epic, even the fight scenes with the awkwardly metalled up Shredder.


Overall I find what they did with the turtles personalities the best part.  They nailed Mikey as the funny mouth-y one, Raphael as the hard edged one, Donny as the techy and geeky one, and Leo as the leader that is somewhat serious most of the time.  By far the best part of the movies is enjoying the turtles and their progression as a family, despite the lack luster origin and the picture book Ninjutsu master Splinter.  The family dynamic is pretty right on, they even manage to squeeze April in at the end with a nod to her being part of the family.  What I ultimately would like to see from a sequel is of course closer ties to the IDW series, but also further progression with the Turtle family.  Can we get a truly awesome Casey Jones! Please!

Even though it had its ups and downs if you happen to be a lifelong Turtle fan like me you have to at least check it out.  I wouldn’t go past saying it was average at best but it was fairly entertaining and I will check out the sequel when it comes out.  I feel like it left room for improvement and I always hold hope that that is what will happen in the second phase.  If by some off chance any producer involved including Michael Bay, or the director Jonathan Liebesman hear me; follow the IDW story line closer and pull from some of their ideas.  The comic has a thick story line that includes some seriously BA characters.  Some well-known like Casey Jones, but some not so well known like Casey’s father Hun the leader of a street gang the Purple Dragons that falls in line with the Foot Clan.  Casey's friend Angel that is a BA woman character and grew up hard like Casey.  As if the human aspect of the comic isn't enough they also have plenty of other mutants to choose from like the alley cat Hobbs or the arctic fox Alopex, or the alien Neutrinos.  Bottom line is that Kevin Eastman is the man and his creations are smart and fit well with the world he created, so use it.  The comic provides so many characters and story lines that the producers would be foolish to not at least look into possible fits for the future movies.  I know this much, an appearance by Bebop and Rock Steady would brighten any turtle fans day.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Writer Blocks - Daredevil: Born Again

Daredevil: Born Again, originally published in 1986, is the first collaboration between Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, the same team who would produce Batman: Year One the following year.  It is also the best Daredevil story ever and a perfect illustration of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey.


For those unfamiliar, The Hero’s Journey is a story structure composed of twelve parts:  The Ordinary World, The Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Meeting with the Mentor, Crossing the Threshold, Tests (Allies & Enemies), Approach, Ordeal, The Reward, The Road Back, Resurrection, and finally the Return with the Elixir.

Here is how Daredevil: Born Again works within these confines -

The Ordinary World – the story opens with the crumbling of Matt Murdock’s world.  His former lover Karen Page sells his secret identity for a fix, and this bit of information makes its way to the Kingpin, who goes about dismantling Matt Murdock’s life piece by piece.

daredevil-born-again-karen-page-dice-lo-que-sabe1born2The Call to Adventure – as a final blow, the Kingpin has Murdock’s townhouse blown up, and now Murdock knows that the Kingpin is behind all his troubles, having left Murdock’s Daredevil costume in the wreckage as a way to brag about what he has done.

 Daredevil _227 pag24 Born AgainBONA

Refusal of the Call – instead of donning his Daredevil tights and paying the Kingpin a visit, Matt holes up in a seedy hotel, suffering from depression and unable to physically leave.


Meeting with the Mentorwe’ll get to that a little later.  Not everything in The Hero’s Journey happens in order!

Crossing the Threshold – Matt eventually crosses an actual threshold, mustering the will to leave his hotel room, gradually losing his reign on reality and degenerating into a fantasy world of extreme violence.


Tests (Allies & Enemies) – this was probably going to be Miller’s swan song on Daredevil, so he includes everybody who was ever in his run: Foggy Nelson, Turk, Melvin Potter, Nicholas Manolis and especially Ben Urich, whose subplot would have made a strong comic book in and of itself.

 born again urich

Approach – Matt makes his way to the Kingpin’s offices where . . .

Ordeal – he is badly beaten by the Kingpin and presumed dead.


Meeting with the Mentor – now a derelict on skid row, Matt is taken in by a benevolent nun named Sister MaggieThis is really Matt’s long-lost mother, and she nurses him back to health both physically and spiritually


The Reward – Matt reclaims his identity, and more importantly, his soul, and is reborn a stronger man.


The Road Back – now healthy, Matt reenters the world and takes out all of his enemies.  He does this as Matt Murdock, not as Daredevil.  He hasn’t reclaimed that part of his identity yet.  One especially striking part of Daredevil: Born Again has Matt fighting a lunatic the Kingpin disguised as Daredevil in order to frame the hero for Foggy Nelson’s murder. 5born-2

Resurrection – this is the resurrection of the hero, Daredevil.  In the final two issues of Daredevil: Born Again, Daredevil fights Nuke, a parody of the 1980’s action hero.  Daredevil eventually wins, with the help of Captain America, and this victory exposes the Kingpin’s involvement in organized crime. 


Return with the Elixir – Matt is back in Hell’s Kitchen with his true love, Karen Page!


There is so much more to this book than just The Hero’s Journey.  From the Easter themed religious imagery juxtaposed against a story that takes place during Christmas, to the “Matt Murdock in bed” title pages representing his descent into madness, Daredevil: Born Again is a masterpiece.  born again sleeping pages

Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli were operating in perfect lock-step, and it showed in every panel.  This book completely remade Daredevil, and, as a true test to its longevity, the repercussions are still being felt today, after almost 30 years.

I’m getting old.

- Aloha -


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Best Comic I Read Today Is . . . The Multiversity: Pax Americana #1

The Multiversity: Pax Americana #1 is not only the best comic I read today, it’s also the best comic I have read all year!  In the interest of full disclosure, Grant Morrison is the reason I got back into reading comic books in 2011 and writing comic books in 2012.  Specifically, it was All-Star Superman, which was illustrated by the same man whose line work makes Pax Americana one of the best looking books on the spinner rack, Frank Quitely, so I am extremely biased.  That being said, this book was extraordinary.


There’s no need to worry about spoilers in this write-up, because this book is so densely packed with nuance and subtext that it would be impossible to spoil.  From the outset, it is an homage of sorts to Watchmen, using the classic Charlton Action Heroes that were originally to be featured in that seminal work.  Morrison even employs the same opening effect, having the cover image be the starting point of a long zoom through the first page, only in Morrison’s hands this becomes not only a zoom through physical space, but a zoom through time.

The classic grid layout concept from Watchmen is also used, breaking-up the physical plane to create windows through which we, the third dimensional voyeur, can peek at this two-dimensional world.


Nowhere is this done better than in the double-page spread of Pages 12 and 13, where Quitely uses an 8 x 4 panel layout to show the composition of a room, a murder scene, then highlight key moments that transpire in that particular part of the room before, during, and after the murder.  There is no way I am doing this justice through my words.  You just have to read it.

Then read it again.

Of course there’s Blue Beetle and The Question, reprising the roles of Nite Owl and Rorschach.  The Question even alludes to some “issues” Blue Beetle may be having, similar to what Nite Owl suffered from in Watchmen, taking this meta-experiment to an even higher level.


At its core, The Multiversity: Pax Americana is a murder mystery, and the book never loses site of this.  It has a beginning, middle and a satisfying ending that demands a second, third and probably fourth reading.  For a writer in any medium, this book gives a clinic in pacing, plot, and experimentation all serving the characters and the story.

To borrow from the quote on the cover:

“Time is the school in which we learn, time is the fire in which we burn.” – Delmore Schwartz

- Aloha -

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The Writing on the Wall Review (Spoilers)

The Writing on the Wall Gives Us What We've All Been Waiting On...

So after a week off for the mid-term elections and Marvel's 75th Anniversary special, Agents of SHIELD came back really strong this week. Spoilers ahead!

Writing on the Wall


This episode was the end of the "writing" story arc as far as I can tell. After teasing us with the meaning of the alien writing since season 1, Agents of SHIELD actually gave us some answers this week. While there is still much left to be explained about the alien writing, what we did learn did not disappoint. It's pretty important for any ongoing medium that its answers be as exciting and compelling as its mysteries. If the mystery is too good and the answers do live up to the fun of speculation, the show is setting up it's viewers for major disappointment. *cough* Lost *cough* Agents of SHIELD has found a good balance with this story arc. The mystery was compelling, but not so much that we weren't ready for the answer. Now that the writing has turned out to be a map, or a blueprint rather, I think the reveals to come will be just as interesting if not more so than the mystery.


Let's briefly recap where we're at in Agents of SHIELD and what happened this week on "The Writing on the Wall." We had two major stories playing out in this episode. We saw one group chasing down Ward, while the other group is trying to catch a murdering who is scrawling the alien writing on his victim's bodies. May, Hunter, and Mockingbird are all on Ward's tail, but he continues to be a step ahead of them. He spots Bobbi Morse at the bus station before even boarding the bus with her. Carrying a bag of C4, Ward threatens to blow up everyone on the bus if she tries anything. He escapes and makes his way to a bar where he attempts to rejoin Hydra. Ward continues to elude our agents, but he does give Skye and/or Coulson a "gift" in the form of Hydra agent "Bakshi."

Meanwhile, Coulson, Skye and Simmons are on the case for the murdering who is carving up his victims. This side of the episode was quite satisfying as it totally unfurled the story behind the Tahiti Project. SHIELD has been using the alien blood called GH-325 to save their critically injured agents, including Coulson and later Skye. GH-325 has some serious side effects, making the recipient basically lose their shit completely. In order to save them, SHIELD erased their memories and replaced them. All this because the alien blood was imprinting memories on the agents and their brains couldn't handle two set of memories. After having their brains reformatted, they were giving normal lives without any knowledge of their time at SHIELD. Except for Sebastian Derrick (played by Brian Van Holt). Derrick begins to remember his SHIELD days and continues to root out his old memories after learning that pain would trigger a relapse. Then after remembering everything that happened to him (which was all pretty effed up honestly, WTF SHIELD?) he targets all the other agents who underwent the alien blood transfusion. He wants them to remember as well,  but mostly just succeeds at killing them. This all culminates in a throwdown between Coulson and Derrick. Coulson finally realizes the meaning of the alien writing while choking out Derrick. Overlooking a sculpture by yet another agent from the Tahiti Project, Coulson puts everything together and then the crazy urges just stop. We find out in the end that the writing is a blueprint of a city and that SHIELD has to find it before Hydra.


While this episode was not as high paced or action packed as some of the past few episodes, it was still very good. Agents of SHIELD feels like it is on the verge of a huge revelation. The buzz all over the internet is that the alien writing is Kree and that the story is all leading toward an Inhuman connection. The city is rumored to be the great refuge of the Inhumans or possibly even Attilan. Personally, I really hope things pan out for the Inhumans coming to SHIELD. This would be a great injection of superhero powers to the TV show. Not to mention, this would be an unprecedented alignment of TV and movie storytelling. We know that Agents of SHIELD has a pivotal place in the MCU after The Winter Soldier, but this development could take that whole type of execution to the next level!


Brett Dalton is doing a great job as the skeezy bad guy creep so far this season. I find his performance to be much more compelling as an antagonist. His fixation on Skye is beyond creepy. (Side note: he kinda looks like a hunkier version of Mac from Always Sunny with a beard) The rest of the cast is also really gelling with the new additions of Hunter, Morse, and 'Mac.' Mac is one of my favorite supporting characters this season, but I feel the newly introduced dynamic of Simmons vs. Mac feels a little forced or just unnecessary. While the storytelling on this show has been elevated quite a bit this season, the set pieces are still dark, drab, and repetitive. I don't think I can stand to see another scene in the ominous, laser-beam-shielded prison cell in the basement. Even after letting Ward go, we end up back in that room again and again.

I still have to rank Agents of SHIELD somewhere on the lower end of comic book adaptations on TV, but the show is staying good. I'll definitely be watching next week.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Best Comic I Read Today Is . . . Batman #36

Batman is my favorite superhero, and I’m a sucker for a good Joker story, so when you add that combination to a New 52 “retelling” of the classic Batman vs. Superman fight from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, it’s pretty obvious that Batman #36 will be the best comic I read today.


Batman #36, written by Scott Snyder and penciled by Greg Capullo, is the second chapter of their six part Endgame storyline, which started out with the entire Justice League being exposed to Joker toxin in the previous issue.  As a reader, you already know that the Joker’s back after his “death” in the Death of the Family arc, but it’s how Snyder and Capullo reveal his resurrection that makes this book so fantastic.

The issue opens with a dream sequence, and Batman internalizing numerous different ways he could die.


We’re then transported to the present story and Batman in a very deadly situation – a fight with a crazed Superman!  Batman wins (of course), using all sorts of clever tricks to take down the Kryptonian.

I love the lettering of Steve Wands and the way he stylizes the text spoken by anyone in the throes of Joker toxin.  And this effect is more than just for looks.  Snyder incorporates it into the actual story and the reveal of who the Joker has been masquerading as this whole time – Eric Border!


Notice how the font changes in the second to last balloon on that page and the word “see” is written like the Joker said it?  That’s the first clue that Border, who has been a background character since Batman Annual #2, is the Joker in disguise.

The issue goes on to put Batman in a perilous situation, allude to a master plot and reveal the Joker’s new “not-chopped-off face”, which is a fantastic way to end the first act of this drama.

But it’s the little details that make this the best comic I read today.  

Details like the fly caught in the web in the Joker’s cell in Arkham, and the fly landing on Batman’s cowl on the last page, calling back the motif that ended the Death of the Family storyline, further illustrating the storytelling prowess of the Snyder / Capullo “Dynamic Duo”.


- Aloha -

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pregnant Bitches of War Review

Possibly Offensive Pregnant BA Woman

During my random searches for new comic books, I sometimes stumble upon some questionable things that may or may not be any good.  I have been quite successful finding great indie comics with my discovery of Hound Comics and the reviews I have done on a few of their titles.  I can add a new company to the list of good indie comic producers: Fried Comics.

I stumbled upon Fried Comics website,, and felt a swell of pride immediately.  Fried’s homepage had a three scrolling feature of their title right in the front of their page and the first thing my eyes saw was an ad for Pregnant Bitches of War.  I thought to myself PBOW was a seriously good title name and I had to read about the guys or gals behind the idea.

I went up to the top of the website and clicked the “Discover; What is Fried?” so I could get a better understanding of what they were all about.  Fried staff doesn't disappoint with their description of themselves and their product.  The first thing in the section is an introduction to Clay Adams and Alexandre Philippe the two behind Fried but it was what came next that got me hooked.  “FRIED is their collective imagination unleashed, uncensored, and unequivocally unapologetic.”  In the day and age of political correctness and lack of willingness to offend I have found myself yearning for people that say what they feel and are not afraid to put something out there that may or may not offend.  With the statement of uncensored and unapologetic I wanted to see for myself.  The website is easy to navigate with tabs at the top that direct to six places; home, read, buy, discover, connect, and tip.  They let you preview comics, they have shirts and more than just comics for sale, they introduce themselves, and have a section for contacting and question asking.  Overall the site is really well done and easy to navigate.

Fried has three titles under their belt, PBOW, Deadskins!, and Red Xmas.  I went with PBOW, because let’s face it, Pregnant Bitches that are totally BA running around in a war setting just sounds way too cool.  It was more than just the name that caught my attention, there was the description too.

“Plucked from the time-stream by eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla, six pregnant women accidentally kill a young Hitler -- and unleash a nightmare future! With Tesla acting as Charlie to their Angels, they must save the world from a hell of their own creation... and they have to do it all before their water breaks!”

If that synopsis doesn't hook you on the comic then you should stop reading!

The cover sets the tone for what I already suspected to be a crazy ride.  A pregnant woman on a table looking like she is ready to pop out a kid while she holds two smoking guns.  The view is from the knees down so you get the full feel of watching a woman give birth.  Although the cover gets the point across it's not overly graphic, she is still clothed.  The room has comical posters hanging up that fit with pregnancy and the ideas behind having a pregnant woman as the protagonists.  One of the posters said, “Sperm.  It’s all his fault.” With little sperms swimming next to the quote, while another said, “Motherhood is a gift.  A gross, gross gift.”  After reading the posters I noticed the broken mirror and dead guys in the background behind the main character.  The cover is definitely funny and right from the start Fried stays true to the uncensored claim.


Now you may be thinking that the cover isn't really that bad, I have seen worse, but the first page into the comic is the pregnant woman from the cover letting Hitler suck on her boobies.  The first page introduces the character by her narrating Hitler sucking her boobies.  It took me a second to compute the aspects of this and how it related to my sensibilities.  No one likes Hitler but the use of him in the comic and the way that they make no apologies and put him on the first page, I found myself giving a nod to their guts.  Another thing that I found myself respecting was that this page introduced the writers and artists behind it, so they don’t shy away from the controversies and their claim of being uncensored, in fact they embrace it.  Clay Adams and Alexandre O. Philippe are the writers, Dominike “Domo” Stanton is the artist, Ron Riley does the colors, and Charles Pritchett does the letters.

The story starts in the Empire State Building at a focus group called Adventures in Pregnancy.  The main character explains that she was dishonorably discharged and decided to go to New York but was having a hard time paying bills.  As the focus group starts the main character is asked by another pregnant lady how much their getting paid and she replies, “Not enough.”  At this point I already have in my mind that this lady is going to be full on BA but after that comment and the running commentary I get a feel that she will be funny as well.

The way they set up the focus group is excellent because it gives a chance for exposition and introduction without being blatant.  The group has six pregnant women and an older lady that is supervising the group. All of them tell their names and something that they have given up since being pregnant.  This set up served the story well for more than just introductions to the names of the characters, it also gave a chance to get the personality type of the characters.  A ditzy blonde named Marni, a country girl named Bristol, an Asian girl named Jin, the best friend a black woman named Leslie, and the main character who introduces herself as Birdie Disantos make up the group.

Fried continues their campaign of offense when Birdie reveals that she was carrying the baby of a sergeant that not only raped her but had her kicked out of the army as well.  I tried to warn that it may be offensive but at this point if the boob obsessed Hitler didn't shy you away I’m guessing you're good.


After the rather well set up group scene, it flashes back to the days of Tesla and show him running around his hotel room trying to fix an invention. He seems paranoid at the arrival of a person named Bennett and the next page takes us back to the focus group.  The older lady asks the focus group director why the room they're in is called the Tesla room and she gets upset at the country girl for not knowing who he is.  The anger the older woman feels and the way she starts to explain him to the country girl sets up the next panel of who I expect to be Bennett calling Tesla a fraud.  Since I already have a good feel for the ladies they draw me into the other side with the action of Tesla and how he is racing against the clock to finish his experiment before Bennett catches up to him.

Anyone that knows anything about Tesla knows he is probably one of the most important inventors in history and he delivers with his contraption because the next page is the machine working and dissolving the woman into the past.  Tesla knows that it worked and believed that he was in the future until the Bennett guy busts in to the room with guns to discover Tesla and a focus group of pregnant ladies.  Since they seem to be in danger from the Bennett guy Tesla tries the machine again but this time they end up in a war bunker with a bunch of Germans.  My gut feeling about the main character being funny as well as totally BA was right on the money because she continually taunts the Germans as they search the ladies and probe for intelligence.  The ladies all solidify their personalities through the interaction with the German soldiers, not just Birdie.

As the ladies sit in a jail cell with Tesla they all sort out where they are and how they got there.  Tesla explains how he invented a time machine and overheard a soldier saying where they have stashed it.  As they talk and try to figure out what is going on the German soldiers change the guard and they introduce a young Hitler as a guard.

I was expecting to get an explanation at some point about how Hitler got to suck on Birdies boobs, so seeing him as a guard didn't surprise me.  I have to give Adams and Philippe credit for their writing skills; they have a nice couple of panels about the consequences of altering history before Birdie decides she can get them out of the situation without having to kill Hitler.  Instead of killing him she decides it would be a great idea to just smother him with her boobs.  She ends up smothering him out and stealing his keys before leading them all out of the jail.

As the ladies attempt to escape they kill a guard, not Hitler, and continue their search for the time machine.  They find the time machine in a room full of gold and riches but before they can leave they realize that the ditzy blonde Marni is missing.  Marni expresses several times that she thinks they should kill Hitler and even though they agree altering history is a no no they rush back to the cells where Marni is feverishly assaulting Hitler, and just like that Marni starts to disappear.

As they alter the timeline things start to change as they’re perused by German soldiers.  Tesla gets the time machine working and gets them out of harm’s way but not without losing Marni and injuring Birdie’s best friend Leslie.  They ladies are back to their world but everything is changed.  Instead of the Statue of Liberty it’s a statue of a masked soldier.  The final panel is the five women standing together wondering what is going on and what happened to their timeline.  They set up the hook for the second issue really well with the final panel and the ideas they present in the first issue.

I’m not easily offended and I wasn't offended by anything in the issue.  I feel like Adams and Philippe balance the line between offensive and creative masterfully.  The idea of Hitler being killed is a great idea, no one likes him, but the way they address and use the fact that a timeline would change impresses me.  They deliver with this comic and their website is very fun as well.  They make their titles available and offer good synopsis so the reader knows what’s going on and they feature themselves as a part of the package and I appreciate that a lot.  Part of the reason I enjoy indie comics is because I feel closer to the artists and I feel like Fried Comics hits that mark with

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Best Comic I Read Today Is . . . The Superannuated Man #4

Where do you start in describing The Superannuated Man, written and illustrated by Ted McKeever?  With the gorgeous art, each black-and-white panel worthy of being hung in a museum?

Or with the stream of consciousness writing, seeming non sequiturs flowing into tableau pages of melting David Lynchian imagery?

Or with the mutated talking Rhinoceros and the mannequin head?



This was a dialogue heavy issue, which is why I liked it more than the other books on my pull list this week. I have been a Ted McKeever fan since Metropol, enjoying his artistic style and love of “quirky” characters and off-beat subject matter, all presented through expert storytelling.

There are two aspects of this issue that really stood out for me. The first is the two page monologue from He, our hero, explaining what his life was like before the mutants arrived, then breaking character and saying: “Heh.  Had you all goin’ there for a minute, didn’t I?”

The second was the final eight pages, all silent, all monstrous, all harbingers of terror to come.

That is what makes The Superannuated Man, as well as the rest of the Ted McKeever Library, so wonderful – the unpredictable nature of art.

- Aloha -



GOTHAM: Penguin's Umbrella

Love Conquers All !

This week's episode is a bit twisty turny. Not a lot of good cop, bad cop crime solving, however it did bring the heat on Jim Gordon after Falcone realizes Penguin is still alive terroizing the city. In typical Falcone fashion, he has another man do his dirty work for him. This man is named Victor Zsasz who is a Batman character (serial killer) who prefers to use a blade, and then carves a tally mark on his body after each kill. Zsasz believes that life is pointless, and that he's freeing his victims from a meaningless existence by killing them. When this character came on screen tonight I was hoping he would live to see another episode and that happened indeed. Finally, a villain that doesn't die at the end.


Last week, Oswald Cobblepot revealed that he’s still alive, and this week, predictably, all hell breaks loose in Gotham. Harvey Bullock feels betrayed, Don Falcone realizes he’s been duped, and Fish Mooney sees blood. Everybody, it seems, wants Jim Gordon and Penguin dead, and no one in the Gotham Police Department has the balls to stand up to Don Falcone’s assassin when he shows up at Police Headquarters looking for Gordon’s head.  Gordon manages to buy himself a little time and gets his girlfriend Barbara out of town, but quickly winds up in the crosshairs between the Maroni and Falcone gangs. Penguin, meanwhile, manages to slither out of danger by playing up his value to Don Maroni.  When Falcone’s gang hijacks a truck full of cash from Maroni’s men, Penguin manages to manipulate Maroni into hitting back hard and killing everyone at Falcone’s drug warehouse (including Fish Mooney’s Russian-mob boyfriend.)

Meanwhile, Gordon hatches a bold plan to arrest the Mayor and Falcone for conspiracy in the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne, and nearly gets away with it. But Barbara foolishly returned to Gotham to plead for her boyfriend’s life, and Falcone holds her hostage to force Gordon to give up his plan. Throughout all this, Don Falcone has been acting oddly; as Fish Mooney observes, it’s almost like he knows something no one else knows.  At the end of the episode, we learn what that is: Falcone flipped Penguin into being his snitch, and Penguin let Falcone know that Fish and her Russian lover were plotting a takeover. When all the dust has cleared, Don Falcone remains in charge of the city, his biggest rival has been eliminated, and Don Maroni’s none the wiser that his right hand man is actually working for his arch enemy.


There’s one short scene where Gordon stops at Wayne Manor to say goodbye in case Falcone’s men get him, and again David Mazouz impresses as  the young Bruce Wayne. Even Sean Pertwee’s non-traditional Alfred Pennyworth is starting to grow on me. So with Oswald Penguin Cobblepot embedded with the Maroni mob (but secretly working for Don Falcone,) the stage is set for more mischief. Meanwhile, it’s all about real estate and land deals and whatever’s happening at Arkham Asylum, and that’s where we’ll be headed next week.