Friday, September 30, 2016

Film Friday: Three Specific Types of Movies I Have a Soft Spot For

I Always Can't Explain Why, but I Really Enjoy Them
There are certain film genres/styles/types that I find myself being a big fan of. I can't always say why, but three very specific kinds in particular seem to always impress me and bring me joy. I shall discuss them now.

The Movie-Types
1980's Action and Horror Movies
There were many designs and styles back then for sure.
This probably the most general of my three movie-types, but still has a lot that makes it kind of specified besides just the era. I mean, a lot of  today's action films and horror flicks leave me feeling cold because it is all either, "Torture-porn," as folk call it or lame jump-scares in haunted-houses supposedly, "Based on a True Story." That said, so many action and horror-movies from the 1980's were just incredible. Whether one of the myriad of master-pieces put out by John Carpenter ("The Thing," "Escape from New York," "The Fog,"), the stellar stuff James Cameron gave us ("The Terminator," "Aliens,") a movie about soldiers fighting a deadly otherworldly hunter ("Predator"), or simply the, "Rambo," films, there was a lot of awesome, scary, and action-filled stuff in the 1980's. Oh, and I didn't even mention, "The Shining," "The Fly," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Friday the 13th," "Robocop," "Die Hard,"  "Nightmare on Elm Street," and the list quite frankly just goes on and on.

Perhaps it was because back in these days there wasn't fancy CGI so everything had to be done with real explosions, amazing makeup, and tons of gross latex prosthetics, but the movies from the 1980's full of horror and/or action just felt so real and carried with them a sense of determination and grit to succeed which a lot of movies these days just seem to lack. We'll hear about a franchise before the first movie even comes out and have it promoted to death with all its CG and such, or hear about another PG-13 horror film that barely registers a pulse (no pun intended) compared to the gruesome and impressive works of the 1980's. These old movies had nothing guaranteed for them, but damn-it they made it work! Seeing as how we are now in 2016 it is kind of  logistically impossible for more 1980's films to be made due to the flow of time (which makes me sad) but thankfully there are still sometimes certain flicks that take the, "Vibe," of those good old movies and they give a similar experience ("The Raid: Redemption," being one good example). Still, even if no more 1980's action or horror movies can be made, there are plenty of superb ones.

Nearly Anything with Patrick Swayze

I always really liked films that featured Patrick Swayze, or even happened to have him in the cast. My favorite romance-movie ever is, "Ghost," everyone knows, "Road House, " and, "Dirty Dancing," are classics, and he lent some great gravitas to a very weird character in the phenomenal, "Donnie Darko," movie. I for real have trouble thinking of any movie I have seen him in that I disliked to any particular degree. How much of this is down to him being a solid actor and how much was his just ending-up in stellar films could be debated, but I just really like movies with Patrick Swayze and was sad when he passed from cancer as he seemed like a legitimately great and nice guy too.

Faux-Documentaries/Mockumentary Films
These weird little comedies basically grew into their own genre with various television shows having now dabbled in the format ("The Office," and, "Modern Family," to name two) but a number of movies have done it earlier and since with great skill. You of course have the team of folk who brought us such classics as, "This is Spinal Tap," "A Mighty Wind," and, "Best in Show," which featured much of the same cast and production crew, the darkly-hilarious, "Drop Dead Gorgeous," action-oriented fare such as, "District 9," which dabbled with the documentary-style,  and the absurdly funny (and distributing), "C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America," that illustrates what kind of surreal and horrible future could have awaited the United States if the Confederacy won the Civil War.

There is just something fascinating about this movies that are faking being, "Real," and in the process give us something so wild and fictional yet weirdly plausible it makes us think harder about our own reality. After all, the whole point of these mockumentaries is that they could happen/could have happened, even if we really hope they never do. Plus, it often helps many faux-documentaries are absolutely hilarious. Oh, and even though people think, "Borat," fits into this category I think it is more of a prank-movie considering how they tricked lots of people not, "In," on the joke, so while it is funny I would not count it here, as I've seen others debate regarding what genre of a film it is.

And We're Done
As you can see, my weird little niches of movies I particularly enjoy covers a wide spectrum of stuff yet also in some ways can be really particular in certain ways too. I bet you have quirks of loving certain oddly-specific things too and hope you enjoyed reading about mine. Now go watch some movies!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Reviews of Assorted Books I've Read From the Library

Library Learning!
I like to check-out books from the library, as I have discussed before. Whether I'm getting physical books from the library itself or digital copies thanks to how my library system does Hoopla, I often enjoy these publications. Many are comic book-related, but not all. Here is an assortment of some I've read.

The Books
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Volume 1
I heard this comic involved Inhuman-business and was worried.I don't care about the Inhumans despite Marvel's best efforts. Thankfully, this comic is about  a pre-teen super-genius named Lunella Lafayette who just happens to have the Inhuman gene. The comic discusses how she is scared to be exposed to the Terrigen mist that transforms people because she doesn't want to have to put-up with being an Inhuman. He fears of having to deal with Inhuman-ity mirror my own, and I'm happy this comic is moreso a fun all-ages romp than it is the latest attempt by Marvel to shove Inhumans down our throat.

Featuring Lunella AKA Moon Girl, and a time-traveling Devil Dinosaur, the focus of the comic is actually about how Lunella struggles with being different (she's a literal super-genius) and has to come to terms with either being herself and fitting in, or being unique and standing-out. Her parents try to be supportive but just don't understand, just like her teachers, and basically everyone else besides the time-traveling Devil Dinosaur she meets. The new, "Totally Awesome Hulk," I've heard about shows up, but besides that and discussion of the Terrigen mist (and thankfully little-to-no talk about why the mist is flooding the Earth due to lame Marvel events) everything is pretty self-contained...I mean, putting aside the comic is dragging the Devil Dinosaur from some decades-old comics into the modern day, but I have zero knowledge about him and I followed the comic fine.

This was a good read with Lunella being a sympathetic protagonist and the bond she forms with the Devil Dinosaur seeming legitimately sweet. I liked this book a lot and am interested in seeing where volume 2 takes everything.
4 out of 5 stars.

The Private Eye
Brian K. Vaughn is of course a fabulous writer (almost everybody loves, "Saga," and his multitude of other works) and Marcos Martin is a stellar artist. They came together to make an internet-only comic about a future where the internet is no more due to it one day revealing the secrets of everyone and necessitating we all take-up secret identities. Within this world a P.I. takes up a case that turns into am murder mystery and things get more and more complicated in ways that are as humorous as they are darkly fascinating. The story was happily collected into a book that replicates the wide-screen style of the comic by being quite short and wide. It's a snazzy format and results in some lush imagery to compliment the superb writing. I'm a sucker for stories about the future and technology so I was already, "Sold," on this comic before I even started reading it. The fact it is fantastic only helps in my adoring it. Stupendous stuff!
5 out of 5 stars.

Domesticated: Evolution in a Man-Made World
I'll be honest and tell you I didn't read all of this book as it came due at the library and I haven't re-checked it out yet. That said, what I did read of Richard C. Francis' book was extremely interesting. It basically discusses how when an animal becomes domesticated, it has actual biological features that change with it over time, with it all tying together. We as humankind have domesticated a variety of creatures (and as the book also discusses, we have domesticated ourselves) and basically our control of nature has resulted in some interesting creations, from a long-running science experiment to domesticate foxes that over more than a half-century has showed some astonishing results, to our old friends the dog and cat, humans have done some fascinating things with nature. I maybe haven't read all of the book, but I've loved what I have read and hope to finish it in the nearer future.
5 out of 5 stars.

Dark Night: A True Batman Story

Paul Dini and Eduardo Risso give us an autobiographical comic by Dini about when he was brutally assaulted and robbed one night during his time working on the, "Batman," animated series. Dini is painfully honest which is admirable, talking about how his own past self-destructive tendencies to drink too much, date women who only are interested in him for career-advancement, and even at one point self-harm. Dini discusses how with his active imagination growing-up and continuing into adulthood, during his recovery from the brutal violence he faced often he would have the characters from the Batman cartoons and shows, "Talk," to him. He makes it clear these weren't hallucinations he lacked control over, but his own mind trying to process the horrendous beating he took the best way it knew how.

Dini's past comic and television-work has already proven he is a master storyteller, and Risso's illustrations are always welcome be it on, "100 Bullets," or his past, "Batman," work. The heart-breaking moments Dini faces make us really feel for him, while his admittance of not being perfect and at times behaving pretty poorly towards others proves he knows he's got some flaws of his own that needed work. A solid read with some awesome art!
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Wonder Woman: Earth One

Another DC book not in the, "Regular," continuity but this one of course isn't autobiographical but instead a long-awaited book by Grant Morrison and Yannick Paquette. I love Morrison but this is a bit of  misfire. In his effort to provide a mixture of camp but also look like he's making some deep statements on feminism and race the whole book just kinda falls apart, quite badly. I mean, much props to DC for allowing Morrison to acknowledge the sapphic-themes people have often ascribed to the character and without hesitation acknowledge she has had female lovers, but this even comes off as a faux-progressive, with Wonder Woman at the end confirming she wants to live in the, "Man's World," and be with men--kind of almost reminding me of the weird theme of Batman, "Curing," Catwoman of her lesbianism in, "The Dark Knight Rises." To be totally honest, it's a pretty shitty story.

Putting aside how Morrison really let me down with this comic (which is surprising as I love most stuff he does) at least Paquette absolutely nails it with the artwork. His layouts and the spreads are just incredible, with the imagery astounding my eyes as they darted across the pages and back over them again due to how fantastic it all appears on the page. Paquette saves the book from being a complete bummer and it makes me sad that Morrison failed so much writing a character he has done a fine job with in past DC-work he's been on. Oh well, at least that's some snazzy artwork.
2 out of 5 stars.

Vargic's Miscellany of Curious Maps: Mapping Out the Modern World
When my wife saw this huge book and asked what it was about I told her it was a big collection of maps. I realized this sounded kind of odd in our era of being able to access an atlas on our phone so I then clarified it was a book that used maps as a metaphor. That description is an apt one as this cool publication has both fictional maps that create a symbolic geography of subjects, and replications of the real-world with interesting data overlaid. There is a massive map of stereotypes that breaks-down all the cliché and offensive things that pop into the minds of people when they hear about a particular location in the world, there also are imaginary maps that show the landscape of the internet when it comes to video-streaming, more fact-driven maps such as ones that break-down the legality of cannabis or prostitution, and plenty more incredible geographic illustrations that are just wonderful.

Hours could be spent pouring-over the highly-detailed large and medium-sized maps, and the smaller ones are pretty cool too. If you want something that takes an older art (map-making) and incorporates intriguing discussion of new technology and stats this a great book to read. I would highly recommend giving these maps at least a once-over!
5 out of 5 stars.

Thanks Again to my Library!
Thanks again to the Saint Louis County Library system for all the great books!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Rant-Reviews: Yet Even More 1st Issues to Review!

What, Again?
I've been reviewing a lot of first-issues of comics lately. How about I review some more?

Seven to Eternity #1
Rick Remender is an author I can run really hot-and-cold on, with some of his stuff being great and other titles simply turning out...well, the less said about, "AXIS," the better. One thing in this comic's favor however is it re-teams Remender with his occasional collaborator and amazing artist Jerome Opeña. Apparently this first issue of, "Seven To Eternity," has sold-out all over and is a huge hit. I'll be honest and tell you I understood almost nothing that was going on in this book, but it was interesting (and amazing-looking) enough that I think I'll want to pick-up issue #2. This book takes place in another world where an evil, "King of Whispers,"has taken over the world by turning people against each other (those who dislike him call him, "The Mud King,") and gaining control of almost everything.

Much to the credit of Remender and especially Opeña, everything really feels alien and otherworldly, with this strange Universe actually giving off a vibe of unfamiliarity and strangeness that sci-fi books sometimes sadly lack. I imagine as this comic proceeds more will make sense (I hope) and that the art will remain fantastic (as long as Opeña is on it, of that I'm sure). I liked the story but didn't love it, and adored the artwork without a doubt. Interesting stuff.
3 out of 5 stars.

Ancient Dreams #1
A comic written by JP Roth, whom I met at my first Project Comic-Con back in 2013, this book looks pretty but I have zero idea what is going on, much like with the just-reviewed, "Seven to Eternity," but this differs from that book in that while with one book I was intrigued enough to want to at least learn a little more, this title was just confusing and dull. I mean, at least it looked pretty good? The whole things just seems so unreasonably dense, really. It has pages of text that as far as I can tell are as indecipherable as the story but are presented as some kind of compliment to the proceedings. It is just a bunch of boring nonsense, really (the comic and the text).
1 out of 5 stars.

Doom Patrol #1
Part of the new DC comics imprint, "Young Animal," which is spearheaded by Gerard Way--a comic-writer I adore thanks to, "Umbrella Academy," and who also apparently has a popular band--this first book to debut from the imprint is also written by Way with art by Nick Derington. While there have been many runs on this comic, almost 99% of people think of Grant Morrison and when he wrote the comic when they hear the words, "Doom Patrol," and yes, I made-up that 99% statistic but imagine it is true. Therefore, people often associate, "Weird," with, "Doom Patrol," and Gerard Way kindly brings the weird in full-force, much to the delight of myself and other reviewers.

Whether you know the Doom Patrol well or are completely new to the series, it is strange and unfamiliar (but in a good way) for all who dip their toes in. Derington supplies some artwork that gives the immense strangeness a delightful appearance, with the art and writing, "Flowing," together perfectly. An delightfully off-the-wall book I look forward to reading more of without a doubt.
5 out of 5 stars.

The Forevers #1
From the publisher Black Mask, this book centers on a number of celebrities who sold their souls (or something) to achieve fame, but when one of them dies they realize the death of others gives them all the remaining energy, I think. You see, the description about the comic says all this but the book itself is so decompressed that only half of that summary even occurs in this issue (somebody dies). When a story moves so slowly that it hasn't even yet fulfilled the prologue-pitch that can be extremely annoying, but thankfully, "The Forevers," does a great job with its dark tone, and scene-setting that lays everything about the characters out before the 2nd issue hopefully moves things along a tad more. This wasn't an amazing first issue, but it was good, and is making me curious what comes next.
3 out of 5 stars.

Widow: Progeny #1
Mike Wolfer returns to a, "Widow," story he started long ago but now is ready to conclude, and I'm pleased to read it! With art by Karl Moline this book involves chunks of the plot from the first volume of the original, "Widow," series but comes-off in a way where much of it can be followed and understood with minimal-to-no prior knowledge of Wolfer's work with his, "Widow," series. The horror-vibe is strong in this comic, with an eerily omniscient 3rd-person narrator giving everything a bit of a spooky-chill as a Coast Guard crew crashes on a seemingly-abandoned island only to discover a number of horrendous spider-monsters pose a clear threat (and other seemingly-normal people pose just as strong a danger). It's scary, it's pleasantly gross, and I quite enjoyed reading it!

Some cool back-matter is included that features Wolfer's artwork for a story that takes place before this issue and some snazzy production-art is thrown-in too. I was very pleased by this story and am eager to witness just how bad things get for the Coast Guard-members--it'll probably be pretty hideous!
4 out of 5 stars.

Hadrian's Wall #1
A murder-mystery set in space, with the, "Hook," being that the person investigating the mystery was chosen because they probably won't do a good job--a clever twist. Basically, someone is dead, and that someone once shot our main character and took-off with our protagonist's wife. Now, our hero is tasked with investigating the death and quite clearly some bad-business is afoot. Writer Kyle Higgins has made some good stories before and this one shows a lot of promise even if the start is a tad dull besides that delightful twist of our detective having every reason in the world to not care about any foul-play. Time will tell if this story goes places as promising as the setup or just kind of peters along. I hope it does more of the former than the latter.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Always Something New, Eh?
Clearly there are always new books coming out, and some are better than others. There is something exciting about a new series however, so it is always fun to check them out because even if some disappoint, usually just as many impress.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Luke Nasty Wields Weaponized Nostalgia with Surgical Precision

Medical Metaphors
Luke Nasty
Two popular songs by a music artist named Luke Nasty both sample older songs. It is more than just, "A sample," honestly, this is full on taking a huge chunk and doing something I've talked about off-and-on here, weaponizing nostalgia. I am not saying this in a manner meant to insult Luke Nasty at all, no, I am in fact impressed. I feel this way because Luke Nasty and wielding weaponized nostalgia with a surgical precision at the same level of a doctor carefully transplanting a heart. Luke Nasty (and his production team) are going into older songs, extracting the beating-heart of nostalgic good times, and carefully placing it within the body of another song to create something which is, "New," but has as the main source of its lifeblood something older.

"Might Be"

Luke Nasty's song, "Might Be," samples an artist known as, "Anderson .Pakk," who himself sampled, "Who Can I Run To?" by Xscape and released in the wonderful era of Hip-Hop and RnB that we call, "The 90's," or 1995, to be exact. On, "Might Be," Luke Nasty has that throbbing baseline and catchy synth play as he talks about smoking cannbais and having sex with a lovely lady (who also smokes the stuff and does a good job rolling blunts). It isn't an especially deep song with lyricism I would say is average-at-best, but man if I don't love the song thanks to how catchy it is, and yes, how it takes my nostalgia for that era of, "Xscape," and their sound. Luke continues to take something old and make it new-ish again with his song, "OTW," too, which I'll touch on next.


"OTW," stands for, "On The Way," and is a song where Luke Nasty talks about how he is on his way to drive over to a lady's house to have sex with her (you may be noticing a theme in Luke Nasty's music). This song takes the jam, "Whatever you Want," by the trio known as, "Tony! Toni! Toné!" and use the sample throughout the whole song (as with, "Might Be,") to create something that is less of a sample, but not quite a remix--it is just something new and strange yet familiar and comforting. Again, the lyrics Luke Nasty spits may be simply passable, but with his amazing use of weaponized nostalgia he has already created two songs I always enjoy hearing on the radio or streaming from my computer/iPhone.

Dr. Luke Nasty
Literal surgery tools I'm using as a metaphor for Luke Nasty's song-surgery.
Luke Nasty has such skill with his scalpel at cutting-out the best parts of other songs and transplanting them into his own he should be called Dr. Luke Nasty. He may need to worry about becoming known solely as an artist who does this, as I imagine he doesn't want to be pigeonholed. After all, for some time Kanye West was thought of as the guy who sped-up old song-samples until he started making different-sounding music (and also became known as a bit of a loudmouth, but I still love him). I am interested to see what Luke Nasty does in the future musically and wonder if he will continue his surgical-procedures with old song-samples or not. We shall see!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Interview Time: Alexa Heart

Interview Introduction
I've been curious about cosplay for some time, but haven't written about it much on the blog as my knowledge regarding the subject is just so minimal. I met cosplayer Alexa Heart at a previous Wizard World Convention where I found her very fun to talk with and extremely knowledgeable regarding cosplay. I asked if she would be willing to do an interview about Cosplay, her life, and our mutual love of the video-game, "Overwatch," and I was overjoyed when she agreed! I have her official biography she gave me below followed by our Interview!

About Alexa Heart
Alexa Heart is a transgender cosplayer based out of St. Louis and is the owner and operator of Everyday Geek, a convention based etched glassware business catering to a wide variety of fandoms.

Growing up in western Kentucky as Richard, Alexa constantly imagined she was in costume, often times “transforming” into Optimus Prime on the playground and He-Man when she felt bullied for being the “weird geeky kid”. It wasn’t until about age 20 while she was living in St. Louis that Alexa started exploring costuming at theaters, comic book stores, and meet ups with others. At the same time she discovered costuming outside of Halloween, Alexa also started exploring costuming as the female characters she connected with and dressed as Wonder Woman and pop culture icon Britney Spears and eventually Josie from Josie and the Pussycats.

It was the Josie costume that was a turning point in Alexa’s love for costuming and the geek community. While attending a midnight opening at a comic store around 2005, Alexa dressed as Josie and appeared at the comic store, only to be made fun of for being “a boy dressed as Josie”. After the experience, Alexa dropped costuming out of fear of being tormented. It wasn’t until the arrival of Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises that she found the motivation to return to the costuming world.

While doing her research for Catwoman, Alexa discovered the costuming resource The RPF, the world of cosplay, and the gigantic community of people that love portraying their favorite characters. She began researching cons and found a convention would be taking place in early 2013. After being accepted with open arms at her first convention by the geek community, Alexa set out to attend even more conventions. It was at this time that she also began to become more and more comfortable as Alexa than she was as Richard.

After attending over a half dozen conventions in 2013 and becoming extremely comfortable with her desire to be her female self full-time, Alexa began the journey of transitioning in early 2014. Overwhelmed by the support of the cosplay, and in general, the geek community, Alexa attended more and more conventions in 2014. Since that time, she has been asked to appear on several LGBT and body positivity panels at conventions like New York Comic Con, Stan Lee’s Comikaze, C2E2, Texas’ first LGBT convention – HavenCon, and many more. She has also been a guest at several conventions in the US and Canada, representing both the cosplay and LGBT communites.

Since her cosplay debut in 2013, Alexa has created over 30 costumes of the characters that she connects with and inspire her. Although her career has not been focused on competition, she is a very competitive spirit that focuses on quality of creation over quantity of costumes produced, constantly striving to improve her craft and use new techniques and unusual materials in her costumes.

When she’s not busy with her business or creating a new costume, Alexa is a huge dog lover, hockey fan, and cooks whenever possible.

Main Interview
Alexa, for my readers who haven't heard of it (even though engaging in it is now much more popular), what exactly is cosplay? Also, what does cosplay mean to you as an individual? What got you personally into cosplay? How long have you been cosplaying? 
Cosplay is short for costume play. It's when someone puts on a costume of a character and goes to have fun. It can be a wig, a hat, or whatever you feel like. Cosplay for me is an opportunity to escape my day to day hum drum and become a character I connect with. It also began as a way to express myself as a female before I transitioned (or had told anyone else I wanted to). I ended up finding the cosplay community by chance while I was making a Catwoman costume in 2012. I stumbled across a site called the RPF when looking for reference pictures and found out that there were tons of people doing what I liked to do - dress up like fictional characters!

I've talked with people who have expressed interest about getting into cosplay and 9 out of 10 times I'll hear, "But I don't think I can make a good enough costume and don't want to just buy the same outfit everyone else will be wearing." What would you say to those people who want to try cosplaying but feel they aren't skillful enough to craft an outfit?
My first costume that I wore to a con was a store bought Catwoman suit and handmade goggles. It was bad. BAD. You're not going to come out of the gate and look like one of the professionals(and if you do...BRAVO!). They have spent time developing their craft. If you want to wear a costume, do it. Who cares if it's perfect or, "good enough?" If you are wearing it, it's good enough.

That Catwoman costume sounds like it was a labor of love and an learning experience! How can people get better at making costumes? Are there good internet tutorials for making costumes, for example? I imagine it depends on the kind of costume you wear--e.g. I've seen outfits that looked like they required metal-working and electronic know-how for the special effect and light-up features. It takes time to get better. Part of the fun of cosplay (for me) is learning new skills. 
There are good tutorials everywhere for practically everything on Pinterest and Youtube. Other cosplayers have taken to Patreon to share their tutorials (among other things) with fans for a monthly fee.

In the past years a lot of discussion has emerged about how, "Cosplay is not consent." In regards to this I've heard statements like, "Well if they didn't want that kind of attention why did they dress that way?" and the like. How would you respond to someone who claims that if a person is cosplaying in a, "Sexy," or, "Attention-getting," manner that they deserve unwanted harassment (I know it is stupid we even have to discuss such a thing in this day and age)?
My opinion on this isn't a popular one. When I put on a sexy outfit, costume or not, I know there might be comments. I prepare myself for them, good or bad. I know that not everyone has the same moral compass between what's acceptable to say/do and what's not. I also know that, "harassment," has taken on a life of its own in terms of definition. Some people think harassment is someone looking you up and down, some think it's a comment about your appearance, and so on. Honestly, if you persist in saying things to me after I've expressed the comments are unwanted, that's harassment. (Some women LOVE the attention, good or bad.) If you touch me without permission, that's harassment. answer the question...I educate them.

I can picture (but don't approve of) people making comments about a cosplay outfit, but you've seriously had people reach-out and touch you without asking for any sort of permission? That just sounds terrible! In everyday life we know not to grope strangers but for some reason when someone is in an outfit all common-courtesy goes out the window. How do you educate these people who can't keep their hands to themselves?
Believe it or not, I have more incidents of someone making unwelcome contact in daily life than I do in costume (makes for weird elevator rides). In either instance, I stop right there and call them out and try to educate them (usually, they get upset because you called them out). If we aren't making it unacceptable and pointing it out right away, they'll continue to do it. 

You have been open about how you are a transgender woman. When you started to tell people about being transgender who was most supportive, how did you handle those people who were negative? Do you still receive negative (and hopefully positive) messages to this day in regards to your being a transgender female?
My friends in the nerd community were most supportive, as we're a group that accepts differences. The people that weren't accepting either didn't understand or they have deeply rooted (although misled) religious beliefs. Whenever someone like that sends me a message or makes a comment, I just smile and be as nice as possible. I'm an ambassador for the LGBT community and if I can change someone's mind, it won't be with nastiness.
That is awesome how you want to work to change people's minds and said how it can't be done with nastiness. May I ask how often you get messages of support or negativity? I would hope you get more supportive ones! 
I receive nasty messages almost daily. There's a lot of people who don't support the LGBT community, let alone the trans community. Couple that with guys that feel their masculinity has been threatened and internet trolls, and there's a whole bunch of negativity. The good messages come about once a week. People always talk about what they don't like, and less about what they do.

In this pop-culture field of, "Geekdom," there has often been a lot of open and accepting people and plenty of jerks. How has been a transgender woman in this field been impacted by what I imagine is quite a mixture of awesome and supportive people as well as--excuse my language--hateful and ignorant assholes?
Honestly, the people that are lifelong "geeks" are totally cool, but since nerd culture has gotten so mainstream, not everyone that is attending cons is as accepting. I've had several guys freak out when they find out I'm trans because they felt threatened in their sexuality (that happens on an everyday basis though, tbh) and either walk away making fun of me or tell me over and over they're not gay. All of those people, regardless of if they're accepting or not, haven't impacted what I do and the message I bring to conventions. The larger problem is the promoters that are fearful that bringing a (attractive, not to sound big headed) transwoman to an event might cause controversy. I've had promoters not realize I'm trans, invite my with a verbal offer, and when they realize I'm trans, conveniently rescind the offer. It's more of the, "Old, set in his ways promoters," that are the ones that aren't supportive. MOST cons are pretty awesome, and some want the LGBT community involved. 

I honestly hadn't thought about how the, "Mainstreaming," of our, "Geek-culture," could actually have the effect of less understanding and accepting people flooding into fandoms and making them less inclusive. It is funny to picture a scene of someone telling you they think you are pretty, and then upon learning you are trans to suddenly state how heterosexual and cis-gender they are, as if you can't view someone as attractive without wanting to have sex with them. Our society is of course obsessed with binaries, however. The idea of con-promoters freaking-out upon learning you are trans is striking though. Your wording almost makes it sound like they would prefer they book someone who is, "Obviously," transgender in a stereotypical way as if to prove their faux-inclusiveness as opposed to inviting an awesome cosplayer who also happens to be trans. This long lead-up brings us to my question: Have you ever felt invited to a con because you were trans and it felt like it was a case of tokenism, and on the other hand have there been many cons you were explicitly not invited to due to your being trans?
Honestly, for the longest time, I used the fact I am trans as a reason to invite me, not as a side benefit to inviting a skilled crafter and cosplayer. I feel like a lot of my invites were because they were wanting to be looked at as inclusive. Now, since I've progressed in my transition and pass more easily, I think some cons have shied away from me because it's less obvious (and it's not my main platform).

In your opinion is it possible for a character to become, "Too popular," to the degree that you just get sick of seeing people dressed as it? On the opposite end of that spectrum can a character be too obscure to be, "Worth," cosplaying as?
In all honesty, it gets frustrating to see people latch on to a costume because it's popular BUT that is their perspective and if they like the costume, let them do their thing! I have been told is overdone, but I'm going to wear her till the cows come home! On the opposite end of the spectrum, I think any character you like is worth cosplaying, regardless of popularity. I have a cosplay from a character named Molli in a 5 issue series called Bubble Gun. I've had exactly 3 people recognize me, and the creators of the series of course. They ALL got super stoked to see her. Point being - if you love a character, someone else does too and it will make their day to see you as them. 
Who is your favorite individual to cosplay?
It was (and probably always will be) Samus Aran, but from Overwatch is super comfy and cute AND people recognize her. So....currently it's definitely, especially since I need to make a new Zero Suit for Samus. 

You told me your favorite character to cosplay as, but did you ever have an outfit that just did not work for some reason or the other? Either it wasn't comfy, you didn't like how it looked, so forth? If so, has that happened often, and does it make you angry when you do all that work and aren't satisfied, or do you view it as a learning experience?
The only time I've had an outfit I didn't like was when I created a fan-created concept of a League of Legends character. I built the outfit in less than 2 weeks, props and all. I didn't like the look of the costume on me (I felt it didn't flatter me at all) and only wore it once. When it was all said and done, the experience made me put more effort into the planning side of making the costume, as if I hadn't rushed the costume, most likely I would have realized it wasn't the right one for me.

This question isn't directly related to cosplay, but on your Facebook page you talk often about, "Overwatch," and you've cosplayed as one of my favorite characters, I have to ask an extremely controversial question: Is overpowered currently in, "Overwatch," and in need of a nerf?
Nah. People are just mad it's a girl who's got some clout. If it were Reaper or heck, even Genji, no one would say anything.

For you personally is cosplaying a hobby, a business, a way of life, or, "All of the above?"
At first it was just as a hobby, but quickly escalated into both a business and a way of life. Most of my current friends are in the cosplay community, something that I never thought would happen when I first started. Once I started being invited as a guest, the opportunities to make money to cover costume expenses presented itself. I've actually created several lines of business because of my ties with the geek world including a nerdy glassware business and an upcoming makeup line geared toward the trans and geek communities.

That makeup line sounds neat! What more can you share?
All I can share right now is that I'm working with a private label to create geek community/cosplay perfect makeup as well as makeup that is affordable and great for the trans community.

Do you have a favorite con to attend, or is that an unfair question as I imagine each con has its own great attributes? 
In all honesty, it depends on what capacity I'm attending in. If it's from a vendor's point of view, C2E2 in Chicago. As an attendee, DragonCon in Atlanta because of how big the con is and how much people are into the costuming aspect. As a speaker, New York Comic Con. NYCC is a big draw for the LGBT community, which gives my panels a little more, "Umpf," if you will. The panels I've been a part of have had well over 400 attendees each and were standing room only. I couldn't move for a few hours after them because the amount of questions and positive comments people were stopping by outside to give. As a guest, it's tough to say. I've had great experiences with almost every con I've been a guest at. If I had to choose one, it would be a pair of shows a single company puts on - Edmonton and Calgary Expo. Both are 2 of the largest shows in Canada, and the company that produces them treat cosplayers like celebrity guests, something that many conventions refuse to do because they don't understand the value experienced cosplay guests bring. 
What current pieces of popular-culture are you enjoying? Any comics, video-games, movies, music, or television you'd recommend? Do you draw inspiration for cosplay from popular-culture or do you have a special super-secret mental-process for picking who to cosplay as? 
I just finished Stranger Things and am currently getting addicted to Overwatch after watching everyone stream it. I also relive every season of Stargate: SG1 over several months (definitely my favorite sci-fi show that is getting a Marvel mashup soon)! As far as my creative process, I just think of things I like and then throw on some Metroid Metal or some pirate music and go to town. I usually rough sketch my idea to understand how the outfit will go together and then work from there. I take a lot of inspiration from fan art and from the work of others. One of my latest designs, Barbarian Charizard, was the combination of 3 different concepts and some additions by me.

I imagine cosplaying can be expensive, do you have any tips on how to make it an affordable activity, and how can fans help support you in further creation of your own outfits?
Cosplaying can be a bottomless money pit. When I make a concept, I make a budget for it an work from there by deciding on materials and what not. There are tons of ways to repurpose things you can find at Goodwill and thrift/dollar stores. I like using craft foam to create armor and other pieces since it's light and cheap. The key to a convincing prop/armor set is mostly in the paint job. If you're looking to keep cosplay on the cheap, look at budget cosplay tutorials on Pinterest. As far as how fans can support me, I have a few different areas: My glassware business - Everyday Geek, My cosplay print store on Etsy, my Patreon (launching Sept 20th), and soon, through my makeup line. 

What upcoming conventions can people see you at? 
I attend a ton of cons across the US. I'll be at Edmonton Expo in late September, and I'll be making my west coast trek in October to include Santa Fe Comic Con, Comikaze, and Rocky Mountain Con. November is light, but I'll be in Indianapolis for Thanksgiving weekend at Starbase Indy!

Here are the links to pages Alexa mentioned in our interview!

Alexa's Patreon can be found at this link.

Alexa's Heart and Soul Cosplay page can be found on Facebook here.

Alexa's Twitter-page is located at this link.

Alexa's Instragram account can be found here.

Alexa's Everyday Geek Glassware is located at this link.

Alexa's Etsy Store is here.

Thanks to Alexa Heart!
I just want to thank Alexa Heart again for a stellar interview! Her willingness to go in-depth about cosplay for someone who knows very little such as myself and comfort in discussing the obstacles she has faced resulted in an interview that I had as much fun doing as I hope you did reading.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Lays' Tikka Masala Chips Are Delicious

The last, "Exotic," flavor of a Lays' potato chip I liked was the, "Chicken and Waffles," one from their first, "Do Us a Flavor," campaign which besides the horrible pun ("Flavor," as, "Favor," get it?) gave us some dull tastes and that delicious one. There have been other supposed deal-big things Lays has done since then with other flavors people can vote on or try, but nothing grabbed my attention, until now.

Lays is doing this, "International Flavors," thing and upon my trying of their Tikka Masala flavor I was incredibly impressed. It of course doesn't taste just like an actual Tikka Masala dish, but just as, "Chicken and Waffles," gave me the same essence of flavor, this chip does that too. There is the spice, mixture of flavor, and it basically just tastes really good. Besides this you could eat a beef one I skipped, the Szechuan Chicken chips, or Greek Tzatziki chips but I would recommend you do not because they are quite frankly terrible (I threw away a half-eaten bag of Szechuan Chicken chips and I rarely find myself unable to finish a bag of chips, no matter how stale or foul).
Long story short, all the other, "International," flavors are trash and you should eat Tikka Masala if you want a chip that is delicious as opposed to hot garbage. Buy it, enjoy it, and then feel free to thank me.

Note: I of course was not paid by Lays for this article, they don't know I exist, etc. Just in case you were worried I've sold out or something rest assured I have not.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Valiant Announces Cat-Themed Cosplay Covers AKA Valiant Won the Internet Today

I used to not really be a cat person. Then my wife and I adopted two of the sweetest cats ever that defy every all the stereotypes of cats being standoffish assholes. While I still know plenty of cats that are jerks, having two felines I proudly call by, "Fur-babies," has given me a bit more of a soft-spot for kitties young and old.

Therefore, when I got a press-email from Valiant today announcing they were going to be releasing cat-themed cosplay covers featuring felines dressed-up as their characters all I could do was exclaim, "Holy fucking shit, this looks amazing!" I felt so excited. I was in the middle of a grocery store standing near a lady with some small children when I screamed those obscenities, so it was a bit awkward, but I still stand-by my initial statements.
The official details can be found in an article on where is is detailed how Valiant teamed-up with the website known as, "Cat Cosplay of the Feline Variety," to make these awesome covers--which will have a chunk of proceeds go to the Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition. Valiant won the internet today, no question. Now my wife and I need to make sure we get every single one of these adorable covers.

On another note, keep your eyes peeled on the blog for an upcoming interview with a cosplayer of the human sort!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Interview Time: Alex de Campi

Alex de Campi
I've enjoyed reading comics written by Alex de Campi, often loving the dark humor in much of her work. I have a big soft-spot for the wild mini-series that was, "Archie VS. Predator," and as a big fan of wacky horror and science-fiction films loved her, "Grindhouse," comics. I enjoyed meeting and talking with her at the 2015 Project Comic-Con (discussed here and here) as she  was both hilarious and insightful--things that make for a good interview! Therefore, I asked her recently if she would be willing to do an interview via email about her past work and upcoming comic, "Mayday." She was awesome and said yes! Below is the interview.

Hello Alex! For those not familiar with you, would you mind introducing yourself?
Hey! My name's Alex. I make stuff. I write comics, and am working on two novels (a serious one and a trashy one), and I also direct music videos and commercials. You probably know me from ARCHIE vs PREDATOR or GRINDHOUSE, or maybe my other Image series, NO MERCY. Or maybe the videos I've directed for Amanda Palmer or the Puppini Sisters or Joan as Police Woman.

How did you enter into the field of comics? The first time I personally heard about you it was in reference to your political thriller, "Smoke," and its follow-up, "Ashes," but I'm always a fan of hearing the nitty-gritty of how a person started-up in the comic industry.
When I was a kid, my mom figured out real fast that she could shut me up for a whole hour by letting me pick a comic off the spinner rack in the drugstore. (It was always X-Men.) Then I grew up and discovered boys and rock and roll, and fell out of comics for a while until a friend was moving out of his barracks in London. That friend handed me a HUGE box of 2000AD and the late glory-years Vertigo books (Preacher; Ellis' Hellblazer; Sandman). I got addicted again. Then I fell in with this disreputable crowd who were all trying to write and/or draw comics and they said I should, too. So I did.
A crazy idea that worked quite well!
Oftentimes when I think of a comic-maker I'll be able to associate them with a specific genre, tone, etc. That doesn't really happen with you. You've done everything from a thriller in the form of, "Smoke," and, "Ashes," to kid-friendly comics with, "My Little Pony," what I would call an outreach-trip-gone-terribly-wrong yarn with, "No Mercy," some super-hero stuff about Wonder Woman, and you did many issues of the often-erotic, "Grindhouse," series that was full of science-fiction and horror. Plus, you did a comic where Archie and his friends went-up against the Predator. Describing your bibliography sounds like the work of at least three different writers--what inspires you to do such a wide-variety of comics?
I may not have a particular genre, but I do have a very specific violent, tension-filled noir tone that comes up in a lot of my work. I'm also at heart a comedian, so really wrong humour also happens. I'll tend to do a bunch of books in a similar mood -- Archie vs Predator and Grindhouse, for example -- and then go in a different direction, maybe more noir, maybe lighter. No Mercy and Mayday are both very, very tense, suspenseful stories, so now I'm looking to do something more relaxed. I'm working on a romantic comedy (...which will involve murder and explosons, because me) and a crazy shonen book. You get really involved in something, and then once you've done it, you need to do something different, you dig? It wouldn't be any fun, to just write the same sort of story all the time. Though all my books tend to end up as thrillers...

Speaking of, "Archie Vs Predator," how in the world did that come about? Also, considering how insane an idea that was how did you make it work so well?
I wish I could take credit for the concept, but it was all the Archie bullpen! I was just the Joe (or Joan) lucky enough to be offered the gig. I find it hilarious that people think of it as a hard concept to write -- I took one look at it, went "this is a teen slasher; it's Final Destination with the Predator," and off I went. The only things I kept in mind was that I had to deliver really good scares and gore (for the Predator fans, my people! get in here, fam! ::hugs::) and also great teen physical comedy and sass (for the Archie fans. Also my people! You get hugs too.) In both regards I was ably assisted by Fernando Ruiz, the book's penciller, who has the ability to make any script 400% funnier with his sharp eye for gags.
Going back to the subject of, "Grindhouse," how much of a B-movie aficionado are you? I definitely get the vibe from reading, "Grindhouse," you've seen plenty of weird sci-fi and horror flicks. Do you have a favorite obscure gem?
I grew up just outside Philly and was a latchkey kid, so I spent a lot of time watching terrible old movies on Channel 29 (before it became a Fox station). And then... one of my coping mechanisms is going to see movies. It's a little harder now that I'm a single mom, but I used to haunt the NFT and the ICA in London. I'd see three films in a day, spend the whole day on the South Bank... so yeah. I've seen a lot of movies. Favourite obscure gem? Well, Lucio Fulci's a fave director for horror (see The Beyond, yum, all those Italian gooey practical FX) and see if you can dig up Fernando di Leo's Milan 9mm for a gangster flick. Oh and wanna see something crazy? Check out Sekiguchi Gen's Survive Style 5+.

There are not too many comic-writers who also letter their works but I am aware that you do so. I know so little about lettering that it isn't even funny, please explain to a clueless person like me how it works.
I open up the art in llustrator, zoom in to like 1200% and either hand-letter (like this: ) or use Comicraft fonts to put dialogue and SFX on the page, and then add balloons around the dialogue. For me as a writer, it's also a chance to fine-tune (and occasionally totally rewrite) dialogue so it fits the art perfectly, and add SFX in the right places. It's hugely time-consuming, but I love doing it.
I've seen how you posted how you're working on a, "Trashy novel," called, "Heartbreak Incorporated," under the pseudonym Bette Noire, can you share what it is about?
I'm working on two novels at the moment -- a big ambitious one about the nature of identity and humanity, and of course the trashy, easy book, Heartbreak Inc. Heartbreak Incorporated is about a twentysomething gal (and would-be investigative journalist) named Evie who is this >< close to not being able to afford to live in NYC any more... until she gets a job working for a private investigator who specialises in breaking up relationships. And who might also be a murderer.

The novel you referred to a big and ambitious sounds interesting! Can you share more or is it in too early of a stage to say much?
It's still too big and raw and in progress to talk about, I'm afraid!
You've got an upcoming comic coming from Image titled, "Mayday," that already had me sold when upon reading the description I saw the words, "California," "Soviet operatives," "Top-Secret," "Sex," and, "Drugs." Is it possibly the drug-and-sex filled comic full of Russian spies in sunny California I've been waiting for?
Most definitely. It's a book full of shady deeds in sunny places.

Earlier you mentioned directing music videos, how is directing different from writing? I imagine there are a lot of, "Moving parts,” so-to-speak.
There's a lot of specialist technical knowledge that comes with directing. You have to be able to do about 20 things at once, and make difficult snap decisions on set -- and refocus quickly if something doesn't work or if you have a setback. Directing means you're collaborating with people on set in real-time.... not asynchronously over email or conference calls. But other than that, there's a lot of complementary knowledge involved, like shot framing, pacing and visual storytelling.
Preview page from, "Mayday."
Speaking of music, what is your favorite kind of stuff to jam-out to? Do you listen to music while writing?
I listen to everything. I tend not to listen to much while I'm writing, as I like to concentrate. MAYDAY is very slated towards music though, each issue has a playlist -- some songs of which are integrated into the story. It's all about the birth of metal and punk... in 1971 Alice Cooper and Sabbath both had a couple albums out, so did the Stooges -- and meanwhile the chart songs were stuff like the Osmonds and Tony Orlando & Dawn. The change in America's sonic landscape towards harder, angrier music reflects what is happening thematically in the book.

What's the difference between a bad comic and a good comic, in your opinion?
Oh, jeez. Tough. I like a lot of ridiculous, trashy stuff, as well as incredibly pretentious stuff. I mean, I'm eagerly awaiting the Criterion release of BAD BOYS 2 and I can also defend Cocteau's ORPHÉE to the death. I don't like books that are lazy, or confusing. Or unimaginative. Bad story logic and crappy villain motivations are the hobgoblin of lesser works. To be honest a bad story is like porn, you can't define it but you know when you see it.
You've got a time machine, putting aside how it may horrifically mess-up history, is there a particular creator you would pluck out of the time stream to collaborate with at a certain period in their career?
Nah. Now's a pretty good time in comics, y'know? This might really be our golden age. There are still so many people I want to work with RIGHT NOW, and I'll never get to collaborate with them all.

What other projects coming up can you tell us about? If you can't talk in-depth about too much can you at least give us some juicy-hints?
Alas, I don't talk out of school about things that aren't announced yet. But I am working nonstop and I have so much coming out over the next 2 years it's kind of crazy.

Interview Concluded
Thanks again to Alex de Campi for a great interview! You can visit her website here and you should be sure to check out, "Mayday," when it hits comic-stands early this November!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"Deus Ex: Mankind Divided," and My Very Early Impressions

There was the game, "Deus Ex," followed by its sequel ("Invisible War") that absolutely nobody likes to talk about. Then they made a prequel, "Deus Ex: Human Revolution," that was actually really good if not without some flaws. Now they've got a sequel that is also a prequel (as it takes place before the debut game) and putting aside how at first the pre-order scheme was terrible and people shouldn't pre-order games, we now have this sequel-prequel some five years since the last game came out.

Wait. It has been five years since, "Human Revolution?" Well, I got that game for my PlayStation 3 shortly after moving to Saint Louis in the late-Summer/early-Fall of 2011, so yes, I guess it really has been that long. I didn't finish, "Human Revolution," but thankfully this game has a 12-minute prologue video you can watch to get yourself nice and updated--and honestly, even if you did finish the game I would think half a decade is a long enough time to forget plenty. Some control-changes aside plus the utilization of the touch-pad on the PS4 what with the game having moved up to this current generation, it handles a lot like the last game (and you can even select a control scheme to make it exactly like, "Human Revolution," should you want). The graphics are a lot better however, and as opposed to two small-ish city regions you can explore (as well as some big mission-areas) there is just the huge city of Prague (and of course some big mission-areas). Oh, and unlike the last game you actually get to go-out and explore during the day, that's a bit of a change.
The plot is made-up of a variety of your usual sci-fi concepts, with a group actually known as, "The Illuminati," possibly running the world, cyborg-styled humans (called, "Augmented," in the game), and a variety of political metaphors where augmented people are persecuted, with this concept sometimes used to better effect than other times (like that whole, "Aug Lives Matter," debacle). The graphics also are quite pretty but not at the level where I said, "Oh my God, this is an incredible improvement over the previous game!" as much as I went, "Hey, this looks a good degree snazzier!" The game-play is the same style as before where you face various missions or side-missions and can choose to handle them a variety of ways as the augmented human, Adam Jensen. Whether you sneak about and act non-lethally or go about things with a lot of noise and violence, there is generally something interesting to do--and because no game is complete without it now--you can craft stuff and tweak your weapons too.

I got, "Deus Ex: Mankind Divided," from a Redbox Kiosk off-and-on for a number of days (much thanks to my wife for the rental coupons!) and would still say I am very early into the game, but I quite like what I've played. The story shows its glimpses of creativity with some interesting characters, but it is mostly ancillary to the awesome game-play and general cool futuristic-vibe. I look forward to playing this more when I have the time and coupons.

Note: I played on a PlayStation 4, for those who were curious.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Rant-Reviews--More Recent First Issues To Read and Criticize

Another Day, Another Batch of Debuts
There are always first issues of comics coming out. Many books sometimes won't even make it to double-digits, but countless titles at least gave us a #1 (or if the publisher wanted to be cheeky, a #0 issue). I feel like discussing some new comics from an assortment of publishers and in addition to my normal review, this time I'll also include a comment about the likelihood I'll pick-up the 2nd issue of a book.

We're #1! I Mean, We Literally Are #1!
Cyborg: Rebirth #1
Ah, and there you go. What was I just talking about? Publishers trying various, "Cute," numbering-schemes. Sure enough with these new DC books we've been getting a, "Rebirth #1," issue and then a title's real first issue. This doubtlessly will allow DC to put out some big Hardcover collecting all the Rebirth-specific issues and lets them milk an extra #1 out of the proceedings--but I digress.

I said I wasn't reading any DC books besides, "Deathstroke," and I honestly wasn't until this came out. I read it pulled a bit of an, "Anatomy Lesson," in the same way the old and famous, "Swamp Thing," issue under Alan Moore did, so I thought that sounded clever enough I would check it out. I'm always a sucker for a good, "Where does the man end and the machine begin?"-styled story, but it is admittedly something that DC has already discussed in-depth with Cyborg (and which many other books have tackled as a subject too), much to the annoyance of some reviewers I  enjoy reading the thoughts of. It was a perfectly fine book however, and the subplot of a mystery involving some kind of evil master-plan for all the Cyborgs in the DC-Universe caught my attention too. There wasn't anything too incredible in here, but I liked it.
3 out of 5 stars
Will I check-out the 2nd issue? Yes, I think it is worth trying at least one more issue to see where the story chooses to go.

Glitterbomb #1
I'm torn with this book. The first opening pages are just astonishing in their dark humor, brutal violence, and otherwise shocking moments as the main character--an aging actress--reaches her breaking point in an industry that no longer values her. There's a, "But," coming here though, because that opening is stupendous but then the rest of the issue takes us back some hours earlier and leads-up to the start of the book. Yes, this is an issue that reaches its climax within the first 5 pages and then has to spend the rest of the time flashing-back and prepping. It is annoying because while establishing a setting, plot, and so forth is very important, a lot of what I need to know about this book is at that amazing start.

At least there also is some heart-breaking nonfiction back-matter where a young woman who worked in Hollywood as a producer talks about just how horrific it can be in that field--giving us a bit more context as to why the protagonist of this comic does the violent things she does. A jaw-dropping start followed by too many pages of boredom results in a review of...
2.5 out of 5 stars
Will I check-out the 2nd issue? I'm really on the fence with this one. The best part of the actual comic was the opening before all the drab set-up to the story, and then the written back-matter was more interesting than mostly anything else. However, now that much of the set-up is done I bet things can probably get even more wild. I'll have to think about if I want to try issue #2 really hard.

Dark: Werewolves VS Dinoaurs #1
I talk some in these reviews today about plot and the importance it can play in a story. This comic is a case where I actually wish there could be less plot. We a have a mysterious town full of shady Government agents and blah, blah, blah, I picked this book up to see Werewolves and Dinosaurs fighting, so why won't you give me more of that? Seriously though, the far-too-rare scenes full of Dinosaurs and Werewolves ripping into each other are absolutely gorgeous, but way too much of the book is full of a drab plot about mad scientists and the ol' evil Government. I first read this book was the debut of a series, then I read it was a one-shot, but the last page has a, "To be continued," on it, so I think more issues will be coming. I just hope they are filled with awesomely-illustrated fighting and less of an attempt to tell a boring conspiracy-story.
2 out of 5 stars.
Will I check-out the 2nd issue? Unless it has a lot more brawling between Werewolves and Dinosaurs I may have to pass, even if the book continues to look gorgeous during the dull moments as well as the awesome fights.

Alters #1
Published by Aftershock Comics, this story has elements of other comics that are very familiar mixed with some new ideas that result in an above-average concept with a lot of potential. We've got a world where a small number of people manifest powers (called, "Alters,") much to the fear of the populace and two super-powered leaders with very differing views of what the Alters should be doing with their abilities exist as well--so this stuff is reminiscent of X-Men. We also have a young hero named Chalice who is also a bit of a nerd and hiding her powers from her family (so a dash of Spider-Man). The unique thing is that our hero is in fact a transgender individual born as, "Charlie," and is also hiding the fact he wants to transition into a woman.

Note that this is not a case of a hero cross-dressing as a woman, Charlie makes it abundantly clear that, "Chalice," is the preferred name, and that he has been taking hormones already so as to transition into a woman. This introduces the unique element of our hero living a triple-life. Charlie/Chalice is hiding that they want to transition, and is a super-hero. In this issue we get a lot of the setting established of this world where Alters are emerging, and spend a chunk of time with Charlie, but we only get to witness Chalice in action some, with it being clear if he want to see her being a super-hero further we need to pick-up the next issue where she starts choosing sides in this big super-powered war. Writer Paul Jenkins is someone I consider quite talented (he managed to get me to care about the Inhumans in that one comic he did about them years ago, and I never care about the Inhumans), and the artwork by Leila Leiz is solid and enjoyable as well. It is a great debut for Chalice I look forward to what comes her way next!
4 out of 5 stars.
Will I check-out the 2nd issue? While much of the the comic may seem to draw from various sources for inspiration, there is enough unique and intriguing material that I would happily read issue #2.

Eclipse #1
This was a really good comic. In a world where one day the sun changed and its light became fatal, people now have become much more nocturnal, only walking in the open at night and otherwise living underground (unless they have special suits to block the sun's deadly rays). The most clever aspect to this is how there isn't actually heat to the light necessarily so buildings and other construction is fine during the day, the very light of the sun is just deadly and can even be used as a weapon, such as a clever scene in the book where a truck decked-out with mirrors tries to cast light into the shadows to burn people.

Now then, you can of course have a killer concept but if you don't have a good story to hang it on your tale is going to flop. Thankfully, Writer Zack Kaplan gives readers of,"Eclipse," a hero to root for named David, "Bax," Baxter, one of the people who maintain buildings during the day via his, "Iceman," suit and an eerie plot to follow. Bax finds himself drawn into a murder mystery (which generally is the most interesting kind of mystery) when it becomes apparent someone is melting people in the sun and leaving weird biblical messages behind. A powerful businessman's daughter has been threatened and it falls to Bax to try and keep her safe and possibly figure-out what could be going on. Between this good plot and stellar artwork I really loved this first issue. Seriously, artist Giovanni Timpano is amazing, whether he's illustrating busy night-scenes or eerily-empty days, a congested underground or wide-open city, it all looks so good. This is definitely a book to keep your eye on.
5 out of 5 stars.
Will I check-out the 2nd issue? I'm hooked on this title after just one issue and I shall be following this book with much enthusiasm!

#1 and Now We Are Done
I read some first issues I really loved and others that disappointed me. That's how it goes when you try a new comic, however, and I'm pleased I that I found some stuff I definitely am into. Now I just have to try and be patient while I wait for the next issues!