Monday, March 25, 2019

Mini-Run Review: "Off Girl," #1-#4

A short time ago the writer of an indie comic named Tina Fine reached-out to me over Twitter (as some comic-makers do) so as to see if I'd like to review her ongoing series. Titled, "Off Girl," she sent me four issues that featured her writing and art by Mark Reihill. The, "Hook," of comic as it were is that a young woman named Julia has a severe problem in that anytime she orgasms men in her general vicinity end-up dead. This has resulted in her taking various pills to dull her arousal so that she can at least have some degree of a sex-life and because without medication she very easily gets, "Off," as the title of the book implies.

With a concept like this the comic could go in the direction of being more of a sex-comedy or straight-up horror, and it does a pretty good job utilizing both tones. The book tries to not be overly raunchy, giving it a PG-13 kind of feel which is acceptable and maybe helps the book be marketable to more folk, but makes me wonder what Fine and Reihill might do if they decided to go in more of a hard-R direction. The earlier issues are about Julia essentially trying valiantly to avoid having an orgasm, but then the plot gets a lot more complicated as it brings in a serial killer subplot, shadowy government conspiracies, biblical prophecies, and space-aliens. Yes, aliens.

All of story-lines happening at once threatens to make the book feel overloaded with ideas but Fine writes everything in enough of a self-aware way that it manages to work for the most part. Julia knows how the idea her orgasms can kill men is pretty crazy so she doesn't struggle to shrug-off just how bizarre the world can get. Reihill's artwork is enjoyable, giving the sexy-moments a nice erotic sheen and the more terrifying bits a suitably dark and ominous feel as well. As the general plot of the comic is a sexual one I'm pleased to report Reihill does a fantastic job illustrating sexy women and men--he draws a great six-pack of abs on a gent or silky lingerie on a woman.

The comic hints at the idea of Julia using her gift/curse as a kind of super-power, but isn't really a super-hero comic so much as an interesting mixture of sex-comedy-meets-horror. Picture something in the vein of that cult-classic movie, "Club Dread," that both made fun of and indulged in horror and sex cliches and you have a pretty solid idea, but of course, "Off Girl," doesn't get as down-and-dirty as, "Club Dread," did, as I mentioned before (side-note: I actually saw, "Club Dread," with my mother in theaters when I was a teenager; the rampant sex and nudity made the experience a tad awkward). I'm perfectly alright with the book not exactly moving in a hero-direction as I greatly enjoy the mix of funny and scary it gives us--even if the many plot-points at times are a bit overwhelming.
One of my favorite jokes is when Julia is scared airplane turbulence will arouse her too much,
so they request pills and tons of nervous fliers have them. As someone who hates flying, I relate.
The first four issues of, "Off Girl," are good fun, with fantastic artwork and a phenomenal mixture of sexiness, humor, and terror. Whenever it starts to feel a little too complicated with assorted twists and turns Fine's ability to always keep things grounded through her likable protagonist, Julia, makes it all work out quite well in the end. I'd rate the first four issues as overall being 4 out of 5 stars. There are a couple more issues that have come out since the first four I was provided digital copies of for the purposes of review and I know I'll be checking these later issues out seeing as how much I enjoyed what I have read! You can buy print copies via the web-store as well as purchase issues for download if you like your comics in the digital format and I would encourage you to do so as, "Off Girl," was off-tastic. Yeah, that was a bad pun, I'm sorry.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Marvel Announced Some Comics at C2E2 This Friday and Saturday

Yesterday and today at C2E2 Marvel announced some comics. Some sound like events that might have lots of tie-ins (or we already know will thanks to previous statements) and others are more like mini-series. In chronological order...

War of the Realms, April 2019
This has already been announced, hyped, has tons of comics that relate to it, and I don't really have any interest in the thing. It relates to Thor and the Ten Realms of his mythological people. It has an absurd amount of tie-in comics and I'll perhaps read some summaries of it online and may inadvertently read one or two books that relate to it if they are titles I already enjoy that are dragged into the ordeal. One thing tangentially related to it that does sound fun though is a, "Valkyrie," series co-written by Al Ewing and Jason Aaron (no announced artist yet, I believe).

House of X and Powers of X, July 2019
This is what Marvel was teasing with those odd little promos the past weeks. Jonathan Hickman is returning to Marvel and doing two mini-series of six issues each involving a great deal of X-Men. They are titled, "House of X," and, "Powers of X," and apparently the letter X is supposed to be pronounced as a, "Ten," which is maybe some kind of story-hint. Many predicted he was going to be doing an, "Eternals," comic but as I generally love Hickman's work I am happy to see him doing whatever he's passionate about.

Absolute Carnage, August 2019
I have a big soft spot for Venom as someone who was a kid in the 1990's. That said, Carnage has often struck me as an attempt to do an even edgier and more bloodthirsty villain that tries way too hard. However, the newly announced, "Absolute Carnage," has Donny Cates writing it and Ryan Stegman is doing the art, so between those two stellar talents I'm willing to give this comic (be it an event or mini-series) a shot. It invovles, "every single character who has ever worn a symbiote and every symbiote that has ever been, going all the way back to when Peter found the black suit,” and Carnage trying to hunt them all down and kill them. Considering how almost everybody has had a symbiote attach itself to them at some point or the other it isn't an exaggeration when Cates says how, "Everyone is a target."

Mystery Comic, December 2019
Nobody knows what this or could be, hence it being a mystery. Currently I've seen the guess that it could be something relating to the Ultimate Universe coming back in some shape or form. It's mindless speculation, but that could be fun if it happened. Between some of the announced stuff sounding good and other things making me shrug, it should be a decent 2019 for Marvel in terms of their comics--I already know with, "Avengers: Endgame," coming in April its film division is gonna be swimming in money.

Friday, March 22, 2019

This is Cool, a New, "Vampire: The Masquerade," Game Is Going to Happen

As someone with fond memories of the old PC game, "Vampire: The Masquerade--Bloodlines," I was pleased to hear that there has been a sequel in the works for some years that has now been revealed and which looks quite promising. The original game was great fun even if it was buggy mess without the fan-patches that were later created and the fact it has a colon and long dash is arguably a grammatical crime. The original game wasn't perfect, in other words, but many folk loved it, myself included. This new one sounds like it will have much improved combat and a fun plot whilst also maintaining its edgy vibe but perhaps adjusting story-elements that were questionable then and would be even more problematic to have these days (tone-deaf portrayals of mental illness, weirdly outdated sexism, and so forth).

I don't play video-games as much now but love well-developed worlds with interesting characters, something the first, "Bloodlines," had in ample supply. I'm excited for this sequel and hope that it isn't just on computers as my current laptop is way under-powered when it comes to playing games. Here's hoping it hits the PS4 too, perhaps. Whatever the case, I look forward to hearing more as further details are revealed and the game nears release in early 2020--still a ways off, but not too far.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

A New Publisher Named AWA/So That's What Bill Jemas Has Been Up To!

Back in October of 2018 I talked about how someone had given Bill Jemas a lot of money. Jemas of course has been in the realm of comics for decades, helping revitalize Marvel in the early 2000's when he was in charge with some great ideas (the Ultimate line) and some stinkers he wishes people would forget ("Marville," for sure). He also later on did the Double Take comics I at first hated, then liked, then found out were cancelled. Jemas has a number of people who love him as well as folk who absolutely hate him. In October of 2018 it was evident investors had given him a lot of money and rumors swirled of other comic-pros he maybe had scooped-up. He essentially said to everyone to check-back in 2019 and all went silent. Until now.

"The New York Times," just had an article this week talking about none other than Bill Jemas, plus his friend Axel Alonso (who either left or was forced out of Marvel a bit ago depending who you ask) and Jon Miller, a man most notable for brokering the deal Mark Millar made with Netflix to adapt his comic-properties into shows. These three are behind Artists, Writers, and Artisans, or AWA. Jemas and Alonso both have a lot of connections so they've got some big names working on the handful of comics they've announced they'll be putting-out (although Comicsbeat observed on many titles who the artist may be isn't noted yet). J. Michael Straczynski who wrote that stellar, "Supreme Power," comic and a lot of trash is returning to comics for the first time in 3 years to do an interconnected superhero universe, and there will be standalone titles too. Those will be coming too from Peter Milligan, Christa Faust, Michael Moreci, and Frank Cho (yes, he'll be doing his usual Cho-thing with a series about well-drawn sexy women who compete in athletic events to be Queen of the Galaxy, or such).
Frank Cho's going to be Frank Cho.
Drawing to some degree from the early Vertigo years (Alonso worked there before Marvel) and Image's structure and philosophy, creators will own a stake in their projects (how much of a stake is unclear as these aren't fully creator-owned), and there is a Creative Council (a bit like Image's board, I suppose) which has talent such as, "Screenwriter and director Reginald Hudlin, the novelists Margaret Stohl and Gregg Hurwitz...the comic book writer Garth Ennis," and Straczynski is on the council as well as he orchestrates whatever super-hero universe he has in mind. I wouldn't be surprised if some of those on the council have their own projects in the works for AWA as well.

Jon Miller's presence in all this makes it clear that AWA isn't setting out solely to create comics. I imagine the company's intention is to make these works as a proof-of-concept of assorted IPs that could then be turned into movies or television shows. After all, I don't think it is too cynical to assume that Jemas and friends were given a ton of money by investors for purposes besides simply making (hopefully good) comics. Jemas has overseen a lot of comic-book-related-endeavors. Some have been good, some bad, but always intriguing. Alonso has a great degree of experience as an editor and plenty of chums too, so between them and Miller clearly a lot is going to be happening in the near future with AWA. Whether this all turns out to be highly successful or is a colossal failure I of course am unable to predict, but with Jemas involved it's sure to be interesting. I look forward to when AWA's first comics come out and I am able to read them.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Jonathan Hickman is Returning to Marvel and I Have One Main Thought

Marvel's first teaser found in comics one week,
followed by the Hickman one in comics a week later.
Jonathan Hickman is of course a great writer whose stuff I have often enjoyed. He did a great deal of stuff for Marvel Comics before leaving to return to indie-stuff where he got his start. Marvel has been hinting at a new comic series and now has confirmed that Hickman will be writing it (probably something related to the Eternals or X-Men, seems to be the general consensus). I have an assortment of smaller thoughts on this, but one main one. Namely how this better not delay, "The Black Monday Murders," even further or I'm going to be mad.

"The Black Monday Murders," was a series published by Image that started in August of 2016 and which I loved between Hickman's writing and Tomm Coker's artwork. However, it began to experience bigger and bigger delays up to the point issue #7 came out at the end of September 2017, #8 finally saw the light of day in February of 2018, and issue #9 is due in April of this year last time I checked. Yeah, as with many of Hickman's works, it has seen some delays (still not as severe as with his and Dustin Weaver's, "S.H.I.E.L.D." series though).
The series is supposed to wrap with issue #12 resulting in three nice volumes divided into four issues each. I pray that Hickman finds a way to both do some cool work for Marvel and still finish, "The Black Monday Murders," in addition to any other projects he's done that seem tremendously delayed. Here's hoping, right?

Monday, March 18, 2019

Forget the Haters, I Love Fruit Stripe Gum

You know Fruit Stripe gum? It is that chewing gum (not bubblegum, you can't really blow bubbles with it) with a colorful zebra as its mascot. Yeah, I love Fruit Stripe gum, but I've noticed there are many who seem to like to mock it or otherwise insult the brand. Some say the flavor fades too fast, others think the included tattoos on the gum-wrapper don't imprint on the skin well, and a number of folk just don't care for the five various flavors. Well, I say forget those haters, Fruit Stripe gum is awesome.

Perhaps the flavor doesn't last forever, but I savor it while it is there, and at least it doesn't wear out its welcome (some gums don't so much keep their flavor as have it just stay and insist upon itself). The tattoos aren't perfect, but if you put some effort in (e.g. you don't just lick your hand and press it on as opposed to using a warm and wet washcloth like with other temporary tattoos) they work pretty well. I'm not claiming Fruit Stripe gum is the best thing ever, but I know I'd pick it over Bubble Tape and its creepy gum-powder any day.
I love the laid-back vibe Fruit Stripe gum has, with its Zebra who enjoys various fun recreational activities. He's not trying too hard to come-off as extreme or edgy like some mascots (Chester Cheetah), instead just having fun and giving us the pleasure of pasting his tattoos on our skin after we're done enjoying chewing our favorite flavor (I like cherry). I love Fruit Stripe gum regardless of how some folk make fun of it, and imagine it has many other fans who simply don't feel like arguing with the haters about why Fruit Stripe gum is awesome--we're just too busy enjoying it to bother debating you. Oh, and yes, the urban legend is true that the wrappers are safe to eat in that they are non-toxic (not a metallic wrapper), but you aren't really supposed to do so with them or any wrapper..

Note: Fruit Stripe gum did not pay me for this article or is even aware I exist, I just felt like rambling about chewing gum today. That said, I will email them about my article and see if they'd be willing to mail a lover of their gum some free packs--can't hurt to ask, right?

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Wildcon 2019 Was Wonderful!

I took this in the early afternoon,
the banner was being painted in the morning and people could watch.
Yesterday I was excited to attend Wildcon 2019 (having enjoyed the show the first time I attended last year). It was as stellar as I expected, with plenty of fun for all ages between the fantastic guests, comic-vendors, and other cool entertainment. Held by Saint Louis Community College at Wildwood, the students of the college are in charge of many aspects of the show and work hard to make it a great time!

I started the show saying hello to some awesome creator-guests, including the immensely talented Christina, "Steenz," Stewart who is an editor for Lion Forge in addition to having her work published with an assortment of companies. Lorenzo Lizana was present and hard at work making awesome sketches as he often does at shows, and I saw my friend David Gorden too, eager to discuss his cool book, "Kwame Hightower: And the Man with No Name," with attendees.
I snapped a hallway picture before it got too busy!
There were numerous attractions for kids (and grown-ups) to enjoy, between the Performing Arts Club helping kids make their own capes, the Science Club with cool experiments on display including a fascinating experiment involving water, dry ice, and soap (here is an article explaining it), plus the robotics association had their fascinating robots, with many which con-goers could test-out and drive (if they were ones with wheels).

There were vendors such as my friend Spike who you can buy all kinds of great comics from at his web-store, Lost in Space Toys and Collectibles. He had a big chunk of comics for sale and always has a lovely assortment of inexpensive books plus awesome rarer-reads (some CGC'd too). After chatting with Spike there was an adorable cosplay contest for little kids (young adults and adults had their contest later in the day). It was sweet that all the kids basically, "Won," in their category as some were super-heroes, Jedis, etc.

Jack from Trade Up Comics was present and I got some cool dollar books from him. He always has a great deal of comics to dig-through and is fun to chat with. I also enjoyed visiting the stands/booths of business partners who were present at the show, including  Code Ninjas (which teaches kids about coding), Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center, Farmer's Insurance, Premier Martial Arts, and I would be remiss if I did not mention the fun photo-booth as well.

Two notable comics I picked-up were the first solo issue dedicated to Monica Rambeau (who has held the title of Captain Marvel as well as Spectrum) and a classic, "What-If?" featuring Nick Fury fighting space aliens during WWII. There were multiple fun panels as well and a lot of families and kids were present. Sometimes con's don't have a lot of stuff for kids so it was great to see such a great deal of activities and attractions kids could enjoy. Samii and Clarkson were originally going to come to the show this year but as his sleep schedule has been out of whack he needed to nap during the time I attended. I hope to have them all come next year though so he can enjoy all the fun!
Wildcon 2019 was an incredibly fun time and I am so happy to have gone again. I had fun talking with guests, visiting booths, and buying comics from vendors. Lastly, I wanted to share the awesome portrait Steenz did of me. I think it looks pretty snazzy, if I may say so without sounding vain! Yes, Wildcon 2019 was awesome and I can't wait for next year and Wildcon 2020!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Film Friday Newsflash: James Gunn is Back at Marvel!

Back in July I talked about how upset I was that some hateful people who were mad at James Gunn got him fired by digging-up old (admittedly tacky) jokes Gunn had tweeted over a decade ago. These haters despised how Gunn was an outspoken opponent of Donald Trump and posted these old tweets saying, "Why could this Gunn guy say tasteless stuff but we get in trouble for it?" whilst ignoring the fact Gunn was telling dumb jokes and these idiots believe the racist, sexist, and homophobic comments they spout. Gunn had since apologized and grown as a person, but Disney freaked-out and fired him off of, "Guardians of the Galaxy 3." There was an uproar and it looked like that movie would never get made. Gunn had the last laugh getting hired by Warner Brothers/DC to write and direct a new, "Suicide Squad," movie, and that seemed to be that. As in comics how nothing ever seems to really die however (I've lost count how many times Jean Grey has returned), Gunn is back at Disney/Marvel. Say what?

That's right, Gunn (who is apparently a Saint Louis native, which is cool) has been rehired by Disney/Marvel. I guess between Gunn apologizing for his past jokes, being careful not to slam Disney/Marvel for firing him, and the fact that a lot of money stood to be lost this all resulted in Disney either (depending who you ask) politely offering him his old job back, or crawling to Gunn begging him to return. Gunn is still going to write and direct the new, "Suicide Squad," movie first and then will make, "Guardians of the Galaxy 3," so the biggest irony in all this is that the people who tried to get Gunn fired inadvertently had short-term success, but then helped him get new work before he was also rehired. This is irony so rich that if someone baked it into a cake a single bite would make my teeth hurt. God, that's a tortured metaphor, but ya'll get my point that I'm happy about this, right? I'm just sad the animal who served as the real-life model for the character Rocket Raccoon died before he could see this. I'm sure he's smiling whilst stuffing his face in that big garbage heap in the sky knowing that we're getting a, "Guardians of the Galaxy 3," after all!

Facts About The Horrific Mass-Murder in New Zealand and Extremism

I often have discussed on this blog my opinion that Donald Trump and his horrific views has tainted much of America and the world. That is an opinion, of course. Therefore, in the interest of only stating truths, I now will list some facts about the terrible mass-murder in New Zealand...
  • 49 people were killed (the number may increase if others injured die) by a man named Brenton Tarrant  at two Mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
  • Tarrant was taken alive by the police, two other people were brought into custody as well.
  • No one has ever committed an attack of extremist terror and claimed anything President Obama said or did served as an inspiration for their hatred.
Those are the facts, I encourage you to form your own opinion based upon them. I know what I think.

I'm Excited for Wildcon 2019 Tomorrow

Last year I attended Wildcon, a sci-fi, fantasty, and comic-book convention put on by Saint Louis Community College at Wildwood. I wrote about all the fun I had in the previous year and am excited for the 2019 show tomorrow (read about it here). The show will have well-known guests who make comics such as(friend of the blog) Lorenzo Lizana, Christina 'Steenz' Stewart, and  Rick Burchett, in addition to plenty of other writers, artists, and creators. There will also be an area full of vendors (as all great cons have) selling comics, toys, and other awesome stuff. Plus, from 10AM-12PM there will be activities specifically for families and their younger children, something I always appreciate a convention doing as fostering enthusiasm helps youthful-fans grow into dedicated adult-fans of comics, sci-fi, fantasy, etc. There will be cosplay contests as well, and the whole event is free in regards to attending and taking part in activities (vendors of course will want money for their wares).

The convention takes place at 2645 Generations Drive Wildwood, MO, 63040, and runs from 10AM-5PM with the aforementioned activities specifically geared towards kids taking place 10AM-12PM. I look forward to seeing anyone who is able to attend there!