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.