September 18, 2014
Woman Your Battlestations - Shut Up and (Don’t) Take My Money

Woman Your Battlestations – Shut Up and (Don’t) Take My Money

Welcome to Woman Your Battlestations, the occasional column that touches on all things creator and industry-related, fan-tested and geek (dis)approved. Squee with me for the big announcements, cry with me for the emotional news, or just take-in the impressions of a new reader to the vast comic book world, unburdened by years of continuity and investment.

Woman Your Battlestations – Shut Up and…

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September 18, 2014
The Short List-Kickstarter Comic Projects Worth Keeping an Eye On

The Short List-Kickstarter Comic Projects Worth Keeping an Eye On

The Short List-Kickstarter Comic Projects Worth Keeping an Eye On

By Denise Blakely

Last week I had the pleasure of doing a profile on a Kickstarter comic book project that a friend is involved in. It made me think about what other talented comic book writers and artists had going on at the Kickstarter website. I popped on over and read all of the live projects going on. Below you’ll find the…

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September 18, 2014
Life Leave Me Alone Ep. 52: Gamer Cemetery Gates

Life Leave Me Alone Ep. 52: Gamer Cemetery Gates

Life Leave Me Alone; A Comics And Culture Podcast Episode 52 We’re finally back to talk comics, culture, and (for once) video games! Through a malestrom of adversity, we’ve finally returned from our summer hiatus. Not illness, nor scheduling, nor lack of content shall stop us now. On this episode, Matt gathers with musician and gamer Zach, designer and renaissance woman Stefanie, and comic…

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September 17, 2014
Who’s Who - GOTHAM The Penguin

Who’s Who – GOTHAM The Penguin

Being one of Batman’s oldest adversaries, it’s no surprise to see that Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot (aka the Penguin) has made his way into the GOTHAM lineup. Making his first appearance in December of 1941, the Penguin is primarily known for his love of shady business dealings, trick umbrellas, and ornithology.

If you’ve ever played Arkham City, then you’d know that the Penguin can usually be…

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September 17, 2014
Feed It Comics #50 | Yes, Episode 50

Feed It Comics #50 | Yes, Episode 50

Yes, episode 50. That’s pretty damned impressive now isn’t it? 50 episodes ago Feed It Comics was just another comic book podcast. 20 episodes after that, it was still just another comic book podcast, except people began to notice. Now, there is no turning back. The cult is strong. The master’s influence is spreading. All is going according to plan…

Join Doc Fluxx and Father Shepherd as they…

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September 17, 2014

Oddly Normal #1
Writer: Otis Frampton
Artist: Otis Frampton
Publisher: Image
Reviewed by: Denise Blakely

Story: Oddly Normal feels like the odd girl out in life. When you’re the daughter of a witch and a human, life is a little rough. Your hair is green and your ears are pointy and NO ONE wants to come to your 10th birthday party. Oddly seems to have had enough and has an outburst at her friendless birthday party and declares that her parents would just disappeared, red sparks fly and Oddly finds herself in a grassy yard alone. Is it possible that her wish came true?

Oddly Normal is a great all ages comic. I adore the fact that Otis Frampton has created a comic for all ages and that can also speak to young people that feel alone. In this crazy world where bullying and loneliness have become mainstream epidemics, characters that readers (especially young readers) can identify with can be a great comfort. The storyline of issue one is just an introduction, but leaves you ready for the rousing adventure that is sure to follow. It’s never stated but pretty easily see that Oddly is about to embark on a romp through her mothers home of Fignation. My very favorite part of this story is the tiny detail that Frampton adds; while Oddly is only half a witch, water doesn’t kill her but it does hurt a little! 9 out of 10

Story: This comic is adorable. It possesses a great cartoon quality and the coloring suits the mood of each page. The color parts of each panel draw your attention to the subject while everything else may stay in duller colors or in black and white. What I love about this is that even though parts of the panel aren’t the focus, the artwork doesn’t suffer. I’m not always a fan of artists who let the details of the background become blurry or of less quality, Frampton gives the same detail and quality to everything on every page. 9 out of 10

Overall: This is a great all ages comic. The artwork is great, the writing is wonderful and I can see this book moving into an awesome direction towards unexpected and mystical adventures. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for something lighter. If I had a kid around Oddlys age I would pick it up for them for sure, this would make a great book to read together. 9 out of 10

 

Oddly Normal #1-RWG Reviews Oddly Normal #1 Writer: Otis Frampton Artist: Otis Frampton Publisher: Image Reviewed by: Denise Blakely Story:

September 17, 2014
Comic Reflections #108: Superman + Ghostly Tales

Comic Reflections #108: Superman + Ghostly Tales

This Episode:

Superman #271,279,280

Ghostly Tales #67

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September 17, 2014
Everyone Has An “Origin Story”

Everyone Has An “Origin Story”

Origin stories are a key to many of the heroes and villains that we love to read about month after month. How did they get their powers? How did they learn to use that power for good or evil? Many of us have a pretty good idea of our origin story, who our parents were and how our upbringing has shaped who we are. Even as comic book fans most of us have a story about that special issue or moment…

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September 17, 2014

Sirens #1
Author: George Pérez
Artist: George Pérez, Leonardo Paciarotti (colors)
Publisher: BOOM!
Reviewer: Nikki Sherman

Female characters with actual personality and strong development to boot? That’s one of the selling points of George Pérez’s library of work, and one that had me chomping at the bit for Sirens. Billed as an intergalactic, time-hopping saga centered on a group of women warriors, Sirens should be the perfect book for those looking for substance, strength, and intellectual depth in their comics. Does Sirens live up to it’s much-hyped reputation?

Story

The world of Sirens is vast and daunting, filled with countless characters, numerous settings and time-periods, and an intricately woven plot that only thickens as pages turn. It’s not entirely easy to summarize, so I will respectfully bow out of trying to disentangle the thick plot, and just say it’s a story best read without giving too much away. That being said, for me, it was a story better left unread — at least for now.

I love a complex space-time breaking story just as much as the next gal, but I have to say that this story just didn’t do it for me. It is entirely possible that I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to read this, but there were too many questions right from the get-go, and too many more questions that kept mounting as the story progressed. While I generally love a comic that makes you think, there has to be enough to grasp onto in the beginning to want to figure out where the story is going. Additionally, put bluntly, there were simply too many long blocks of text on the page. I think a lot could have been done with less, but the book became so text heavy at one point without enough to hold onto; it became almost tiresome to read. Again, I could have just been out of the frame of mind for the story, but I couldn’t get into it, and let’s just say I tried more than once. On the bright-side, George Pérez fulfilled his promise of women that have actual dimension to them, so there’s that. And for that to be a “that”, I’m totally okay with it. When all’s said and done, I think a lot of the confusion will be cleared up soon, but this a book I’ll be trade-waiting. Story: 6.5 out of 10

Art

There’s no denying that George Pérez is a master of his trade. The art itself is dynamic and skillfully rendered. He captures emotion quite well, and he depicts a very wide range of characters. My main gripe with the art is the same as with the story…there’s simply too much going on within a given page. I felt like despite the ordering of the panels, I was left with very little to guide me through the way I was supposed to be reading the book. Things kind of blended together too much in a panel, and the focus was left without a spotlight. While the coloring is well-done in terms of adding depth to the art, it was part of the problem in trying to discern character and important plot points from the overall events in each panel. Between the numerous words on the page and too much going on in the art, the complicated plot of Sirens was made even more difficult to breach. To top it off, the numerous big-boobed and unwise choices for costume designs detracted from the empowered women in the story. Chainmail bikinis with underboob trapdoors? Totally practical. Art: 7 out of 10

Overall

While I am not positive I’ll be in the majority with my impressions in this book, I felt the hype surrounding it was unfulfilled. I was looking forward to this series, and while I haven’t lost all hope in it, my expectations for the rest of this limited run are certainly lowered. Overall: 6.8 out of 10

Check out what our friends at Comic Book Roundup thought of this book!

Sirens #1 – RWG Reviews Sirens #1 Author: George Pérez Artist: George Pérez, Leonardo Paciarotti (colors) Publisher: BOOM! Reviewer: Nikki Sherman…

September 17, 2014

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Larry Hama: Silence Interrupted!
by Mark William Pawziuk

I was bringing up the tail on a short range patrol nearing the rally point and everything seemed copacetic.  We just had to make our way across one last clearing and then we would be home free.  By the time I made my way to the trail, though, the rest of my patrol was face down in the tall grass and under heavy fire.  I spotted a hostile’s muzzle popping caps from some dense foliage to my right.  Moving as quickly as I dared, I sidestepped to flank our enemy behind the branches.  About five meters from the ambusher, I levelled my weapon and double tapped his centre of mass.

“I’m hit.  Nice move, man!  You’re the first person to get me all day,” said the soldier, dotted from the impact of two paintballs.

“Nice hiding spot,” I replied.  It was Saturday, September 13, 2014, and I was participating in the annual Commando Challenge, a United Way fundraiser hosted by soldiers and Royal Military College cadets at Canadian Forces Base Kingston.

After making my way to the end of the paintball area, I joined the rest of my team, laid down my paint marker, and removed my protective mask.  I had committed to participating in the event prior to learning from my friend, Adam, that my favourite comic creator, Larry Hama, the man who wrote the first comic I ever read, would be at Montreal Comiccon that weekend.  The irony that I might miss the chance to meet the person most responsible for shaping the G.I Joe universe because I was playing soldier kept invading my consciousness.  I looked up at the cold, gray sky that dumped rain on us from before the 7:30 am start until after the event concluded at 2 pm.

“At least we don’t have to worry about wearing sunscreen,” I quipped to a team mate.

The weather made getting to Montreal before the end of the convention’s Saturday session impossible, but I did find Larry Hama at his booth on Sunday.  There was a sign on his table with instructions and terms regarding sketches, photos and autographs that I read, then ostensibly studied for a while longer.  The last thing I wanted to do was get off on the wrong foot with someone I revered for so many years.

Larry Hama's convention code of conduct for fans.

Larry Hama’s convention code of conduct for fans.

Mr. Hama then looked up at me with a smile and asked about the dog tags I had on.  I explained that I got them from a free give-away with the BluRay of G.I. Joe Retaliation.  That drew a laugh from him and then I asked if he would do a sketch of Colonel Vavara Novikova.  Novikova is a character from the Nth Man comic he created 25 years ago.  Hama chuckled again.  Nth Man is a real hidden gem of a comic, so it’s rare for him to get requests for sketches of characters from that book.  Since I had some Nth Man issues with me for reference, he obliged with a sketch of the beautiful Soviet officer.  Mr. Hama also consented to an interview, which you can listen to at the top of this page.  Here is a summary of the info gathered from the discussion (just the facts, just the facts!):

  • Marvel retains the rights to Nth Man and there are no plans for a collected volume as far as Hama knows.
  • Nth Man was planned for 24 issues, but was condensed into 16.
  • Nth Man was written shortly before publication, rather than something that was conceived long before its release.
  • Nth Man and G.I. Joe occupy separate universes, and rights issues would make a crossover difficult regardless, since G.I. Joe is a Hasbro property.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero # 21, “Silent Interlude” came about because the comic was running late, so they saved time by telling a story that didn’t require it to be handed off to a letterer for a few days.
  • Another silent issue in a future chapter of G.I. Joe A Real American Hero is possible but uncertain since Hama is still making it up as he goes along.
  • G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero # 85, “SFX” was inspired by a Wally Wood story called “Sound Effects” in MAD Comics.
  • Freedom of storytelling and characterization was constant on G.I. Joe, but with Marvel there were some mandatory characters and vehicles that had to be included in certain issues for Hasbro, whereas with IDW, Hasbro allows Hama to use any characters he pleases.
  • Hama confirmed that he was the one who decided to make Raptor into a Cobra accountant and that he wasn’t crazy about the character Serpentor.
  • The most difficult character for Hama to incorporate into the comics was Crystal Ball, but Hama later found he brought a unique, interesting look and decided to use him again during the IDW run.
  • Hama called current G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero artist SL Gallant “terrific” and added that he’s brought a lot to the book, and has now drawn more G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero issues than any other artist.
  • Hama explained that Billy grew from a random Cobra dissenter into Cobra Commander’s son and kind of took on a life of his own and that Hama really liked Billy.
  • A few points regarding G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #206. Inker Brian Shearer said on Twitter that his favorite part was when Snake Eyes takes down some thieves in a market that is all shown from outside the shop. Hama said it was his idea to tell it that way, along with a street sign in the foreground that read “Trimpe.”  Herb Trimpe is a comic creator who drew G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #1 among others and wrote, penciled, inked and coloured issue 119.  Hama added that many of the fictional locations are named after creators who worked on the Joe line.
  • On the Michael Mann film Ali, which Hama listed as one of his favourite films on his Facebook page, Larry “been faking it all my life” Hama, Mr. Hama revealed that he designed the murals that Will Smith as Ali jogs past in the film.
  • Hama also said that he likes Mann’s other films especially Thief and Last of the Mohicans.
  • Hama affirmed that he enjoys working for IDW and will continue writing G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero as long as they’ll let him.

Hopefully that clears up some things for fellow fans of Larry Hama.

In addition to the sketch of Colonel Novikova, Hama also drew the G.I. Joe characters Baroness and Scarlett for me.  There was also a drawing available for sale of Snake Eyes dueling with another ninja that I purchased.  My friend, Scott, who is also a serious G.I. Joe fan, couldn’t make it to Montreal that weekend, so I purchased a pencil sketch of Snake Eyes to bring back for him.

Mr. Hama also autographed a number of comics for me.  I asked him to sign three comics “To Mark” that were of special personal significance.  One was G.I. Joe: Special Missions #22, the first comic I bought.  The second was G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #85, “SFX”, the first issue I bought from the main G.I. Joe series.  Like “Silent Interlude”, “SFX” is told without any dialogue.  The third comic was Nth Man #13, one of my all-time favorite comics for its combination of science fiction, humour, romance, action and compelling emotion.

After sitting next to Mr. Hama for a while watching him sketch and posing other questions about his work, I asked if he would accept a small gift. It was a comic set in Montreal that I made myself, and it contained tributes to Larry Hama, Jim Steranko and filmmaker Michael Mann, among others.  He graciously accepted and flipped through the book.  Before I shook his hand and left I asked if there might be another G.I Joe story set in Canada (they ventured North of the border in issue 97).  Mr. Hama smiled and made a characteristically terse reply: “possibly.”

Regardless of whether G.I. Joe or Larry Hama himself returns, though, he has given this fan enough fictional adventures and real life memories to treasure for a lifetime!

The Creator of G.I. JOE speaks! Talking comics with Larry Hama. Larry Hama: Silence Interrupted! by Mark William Pawziuk I was bringing up the tail on a short range patrol nearing the rally point and everything seemed copacetic. 

September 17, 2014

Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Witches #1
Written, Illustrated, & Lettered by Shane-Michael Viduarri
Published by Archaia

Wahoo!  A childhood favorite returns with Archaia’s release of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller series.  If you were born in the 1980’s you already know what I’m talking about.  For fans of Jim Henson and the muppet era the The Storyteller property brings back happy memories of a period where it was ok to enjoy warm-hearted fables acted out by puppets.  If you are awake at three am and happen have Netflix you can also enjoy the Storyteller experience.  That being said Archaia has assembled four promising issues with original art by Shane-Michael Viduarri.  It’s not a name that I’m incredibly familiar with by I was intrigued enough from the first few images that I read on through the entire book.

This is one of those comics where it’s impossible to separate out the storytelling from the artwork.  Both are just so interconnected that it’s impossible to really talk about one without the other.  I know many ‘high-brow’ comic review websites will claim at times that both enhance the other.  I’ll go out on a limb and say that isn’t always the case and in many instances I make a distinction to make sure some guy’s terrible story doesn’t turn into an F for some quality art.  But I digress.

Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Witches #1 is a beautifully illustrated book.  It feels more like a children’s book than a comic book.  The art style is painterly and the colors feel as if they were layers of watercolor.  The lettering is intrinsic to the background and has a very whimsical quality.  You don’t read this book as much as embrace it as you absorb the artwork.  It’s the kind of story you’d read out loud to a child while sitting with them before bed.  The story involves a magical forest and princess but in true Henson fashion this isn’t some Disney tripe that will have your kids singing ‘Let it Go’ until you contemplate murder.

In Witches the story follows a young princess whose brother is kidnapped by a witch.  The princess ends up venturing out the castle to search for him.  She meets the Lord of the Forest and he helps her on her journey.  Things get quite dark and then at the last moment provide the seeds of an even greater adventure.  Everything seems to work out in the end and it doesn’t really need to make sense beyond the scope of the story.  As long as your child isn’t easily frightened it’s a fun little read and I think it would appeal to both boys and girls within the 8-12 range.  That being said I found myself skimming a bit and just appreciating the artwork.

Generally Archaia delivers essentially production quality and this series seems like it will carry on that reputation with ease.  I could easily see this book being a gift or something to keep on the shelf if you are a collector of fables and older stories.  There is a real European old-world quality to the story and it’s quite simply a pleasure to flip through the pages.  While the story isn’t meant to stimulate my particular age range, I can’t say I found it to be anything other than pleasant.  Sometimes you want to enjoy fables un-ironically and this series took me back to the fun state of mind I remember embracing as a kid.  Definitely worth taking a look.  Overall: 9 out of 10.

Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Witches #1 Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Witches #1 Written, Illustrated, & Lettered by Shane-Michael Viduarri Published by Archaia…

September 17, 2014
Super Hero Speak - #72: The Infernal Pact (Joseph Schmalke)

Super Hero Speak – #72: The Infernal Pact (Joseph Schmalke)

This week comic book writer and artist Joseph Schmalke returns to talk about his new project The Infernal Pact. This upcoming mini series explores the question what happens with three attics sell their soul to the devil. Be warned this episode is a little more adult than usual as we explore the dark recesses of Joe’s mind. So sit back and enjoy!

shs-jschmalke2

Please help our show by taking 2 minutes to fill…

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September 17, 2014
FACE PUNCHER Pull List [Week of 9/17/14]

FACE PUNCHER Pull List [Week of 9/17/14]

Buying comics can be an overwhelming process. With so many issues published each week, how is a reader to know whether their $3.99 is invested wisely?  Reading reviews can only tell so much.  Sometimes a person needs to cut through the noise and create a system for buying books.  We present Rhymes With Geek’s FACE PUNCHER Pull List, a system designed to help readers connect directly with indie…

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September 16, 2014
Who’s Who - GOTHAM - Harvey Bullock

Who’s Who – GOTHAM – Harvey Bullock

Now that we know about Big Bad Harv (and if you don’t know who that is then you can click on the link here), it’s time to get to know Jim Gordon’s partner in GOTHAM. Ironically enough, his name is also Harvey… And he likes doughnuts.

In the DC Animated Universe, Harvey Bullock appeared in Batman: The Animated Series. Played by Robert Costanzo, Harvey Bullock was the epitome of a scruffy, rough…

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September 16, 2014

Criminal Macabre: The Third Child
Story: Steve Niles
Art:  Christopher Mitten
Colors: Michelle Madson
Publisher: Dark Horse

Oh great I’ve bitten off more than I can chew again.  Here I was thinking this might be a new Steve Niles book only to discover that good old Cal McDonald has been around since 1990.  An anti-hero monster hunter, Cal’s been through years of adventures battling freaks, demons, and everything in-between.  The latest romp through the land of the grotesque picks up in the middle of what is clearly a new arc which ties into a larger overarching story.  I briefly considered moving onto another title but something about this series caught my eye regardless.  If you can forgive a novice to this series, we begin our review of  Criminal Macabre: The Third Child, the latest mini-series from Dark Horse Comics.

Story:  Like I said earlier, Cal’s a monster hunter.  Wikipedia compares him to John Constantine and he definitely got that vibe a little bit due to the smoking and trench coat.  Only unlike John, he appears to also be a vampire-type monster as well.  At least I think?  He’s got some giant black wings and red eyes so who can tell in the end.  Cal hangs out with monsters and there’s a whole seemingly well plotted out back story involving how this all came to be.  Needless to say Cal is pissed about his current undead predicament but doesn’t let it deter him from blasting the undead and demonic.

This series picks up with a strange demon baby pair strolling around turning creatures into demonic entities.  They seem intent on bringing a third demon to earth as well.  Cal’s associate Mo’Lock shows up and insists that Cal help investigate these demonic entities.  Unfortunately it appears that the newfound monster powers are making it hard for Cal to focus and he’s finding himself filled with blood lust.  At the end of this issue someone named Jason Hemlock appears in a very bloody fashion.  This name probably means something to long time readers but I had no clue who this was and was just kind of grossed out.  7 out of 10.

Art: I dig Christopher Mitten’s work in general.  I liked it in Umbral.  I like it here too.  It’s dark and moody and the perfect choice for a horror comic.  It reminds me of Mike Mignola quite a bit and a lot of the Hellboy series.  He draws a mean vampire and manages to express violent and gory scenes without making them too disconcerting.  Not to sound weak of heart but sometimes when these horror comics are too ‘over the top’ graphic it just takes away from the story.  Let me use my imagination a little bit.  Mitten does a good job with this while not teasing too much.  He’s the right guy for this series.  8 out of 10.

Overall:  Well I can’t say this series really had a huge effect on me either way.  I know there is quite the voluminous backlog of material to pick up and start reading if I want to learn more about Criminal Macabre.  After this first issue I don’t really feel much either way.  Perhaps things will get pretty crazy in issue #2.  I’ll skim it most likely and see where it goes from there.  I suppose I wasn’t sure what kind of story I wanted when I opened up the pages.  Was I looking for something more crime or macabre?  Criminal Macabre offers both but it kind of left me with a shrug.  Not a bad series but perhaps a bit late in the life of Cal MacDonald to start reading for the first time.  It’s not you it’s me!  Overall:  7.5 out of 10.

Criminal Macabre: The Third Child #1 Criminal Macabre: The Third Child Story: Steve Niles Art:  Christopher Mitten Colors: Michelle Madson Publisher: Dark Horse…

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