Friday, October 30, 2020

"The Recount" #1 Advance Review

Reading the first issue of, "The Recount," from SCOUT Comics is like looking in a funhouse mirror of our country currently. You can see the bits of reality, but you can tell where things get warped just a little wrong too. The scary part is if you squint really hard it all looks so uncomfortably possible too. Writer Jonathan Hedrick brings us the tale of an America that is horrifically divided and partisan. It gets to a point where an apparently domestic terrorist group infiltrates numerous parts of society, kills the President with the assistance of a Secret Service sleeper agent, and now the Vice President has to try to keep the country in order while this terrorist group attempts to start an all-out Civil War. 

The fictional President doesn't resemble anyone currently in office and the new Madame President (once she ascends to the role) also is clearly fictional. Still, that funhouse mirror metaphor stands as if you squint hard enough a lot of this comic feels uncomfortably possible. After all,  we have domestic terrorists wanting to kidnap governors, we have people brawling in the street over their refusal to wear a facemask because the President says its a sign of weakness--everything is a mess. "The Recount," peers into the abyss of what our country currently is going through and asks what would happen if we pushed it just a tiny bit further. That makes it both a fascinating and terrifying read of a comic.

The art by Gabriel Ibarra Nunez is solid, imparting ample menace when we see shadowy figures in surreal costumes to disguise their identities delivering televised threats. It is a little minimalist, but the focus is always clear and it's scratchy and discomforting style fits the tone of the story perfectly. This clearly isn't an optimistic tale we're reading, after all.

The first issue of, "The Recount," is due to arrive at comic shops on November 11th--a week and one day after our upcoming election. Whether the election is even decided when it arrives and if our nation is relatively calm or pulling itself apart even more will remain to be seen. The unnerving topicality makes this a gripping read I'd recommend to anyone willing to peer into a slightly twisted (but still disturbingly recognizable) image of our nation, however.

5 out of 5 stars.

A digital copy of, "The Recount," was provided via a press newsletter from SCOUT.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

All the Cool Stuff Happens the Year Halloween Is Basically Cancelled

We aren't really doing much this Halloween as a Nation/World. Some people are trick-or-treating as safely as possible, but many are not due to COVID-19. This makes all the cool stuff happening this Halloween unfortunate. Three awesome things that normally would make this Halloween cooler are as follows:

1. It's a full Moon. Halloween having a full Moon hasn't happened since 1944 and one occurring on this holiday is just tonally appropriate. Ghost, goblins, witches, and a full Moon!

2. Halloween is on the weekend. You can go trick-or-treating and then sleep in because Halloween is on a Saturday. You don't have to wake up and go to the school or work the next day sore from running around or suffering from a candy hangover.

3. It's Daylights Savings, "Fall back." I hate DST in general as it throws everyone off. That said, this is the time when we get an extra hour of sleep in the Fall. Not only is it a weekend as my second point remarked, but you also get a whole extra hour of sleep! You can party all night...if it were safe to party.

Those are amazing benefits to it being Halloween this year...except we're in a pandemic. The irony would be hilarious if it weren't so tragic.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

"Great Naval Battles of the Twentieth Century," is a Fascinating Dive into History

Dead Reckoning is the graphic novel imprint of the non-profit U.S. Naval Institute. It has put out some cool comics about history, war, and the like. One of their latest books, "Great Naval Battles of the Twentieth Century," focuses on three key battles in naval history and presents them in the manner of historical fiction with various characters dealing with the very real events. The three famous battles covered are Tsushima, Jutland, and Midway. As I am more familiar with WWII history I most enjoyed the tale of Midway, but the Tsushima story is great too, showing how Russia's defeat by Japan hastened its turn to Communism as those disillusioned with the Tsar rebelled. 

Creators Jean-Yves Delitte and Giuseppe Baigurea build-up tensions for these famous battles with an assortment of characters planning and plotting, with some of the best-laid plans going sideways for those on the losing side of conflicts. The art is solid, with the clothing of the time and machines of war clearly well-researched and drawn with immense skill. If you're not a history buff this graphic novel may come off as a little dry, but if you're into reading about the past as I am you'll have a stellar time.

4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

I Was Blurbed By Northwest Press For Their TPB Collection of, "Dash," and I'm Honored!

I've been blurbed on the back of comics and books occasionally; it is always a treat to see my name when something like that happens. It means someone appreciated my review enough they want others to see it. Well, one comic I have often sung the praises of titled, "Dash," has been collected by its publisher, Northwest Press. You can see it for sale on their site and should one look at the quotes on the back, there I am among other folks who loved it! Observe:

Written by my friend and talented wordsmith Dave Ebersole with art by a number of great creators including Delia Gable, "Dash," follows a former hero cop in the year 1940 who got kicked off the force when he was outed as gay and now works as a private detective. A supernatural mystery comes his way and things get pretty zany (a mummy is involved, mummies are always cool). I can't recommend, "Dash," or as it is titled for the full collection, "Dash: The Case of the Mysterious Zita Makara," enough. Request your bookstore or comic shop order it and you'll be glad you did!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Oscar Issac Might Play Marc Spector/Moon Knight and That Works For Me

I like Oscar Issac. He's a solid actor who has been in some good flicks. If Marvel portrays Marc Spector and Moon Knight as having multiple personalities you'd need someone skilled to portray essentially four people--Marc Spector, Jake Lockley, Steven Grant, and the Moon Knight persona itself as it is more than simply Spector in a suit. I'd think Issac could tackle such a job quite well, so hearing he is in talks to play Moon Knight (and one would assume other personas associated with the character) sounds pretty good to me. I look forward to possibly seeing him on Disney+ and in Marvel flicks.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

October 2020 Links and News

A Lovely Month

October is a favorite month of mine, as readers of this blog know. Nice weather, pumpkin flavors, Halloween, it all goes together well. I have some assorted interesting news and links to share with you all as well this month.

News and Links To Go With Your Pumpkin Spice

I always love relaxing on the Carousel of Progress at Disney World. Polygon's Petrana Radulovic wrote about its optimistic retro-futurism having a certain charm they appreciate as well.

AARP of all people did a hard-hitting article about the sad last days of Stan Lee. As his health declined and the end neared there were some rumors about things being bad, but I don't think people suspected straight-up elder abuse.

Kieron Gillen did a lot of writing about video-games before he wrote a variety of stellar comics. He recently talked with one of his old stomping-grounds, RockPaperShotgun, about what comics and games can learn from each other.

There is an upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles spin-off comic set in the future called, "The Last Ronin." It has been delayed a number of times, the artist has changed, but it looks cool and there is a lot of hype for it. One annoying thing is that the publisher, IDW, decided on the print-run before FOC--meaning even if a store ordered a certain number of issues they may get less. This allocation has made the comic even more sought-after. It's a mess but sure to make anyone who actually gets a copy of, "The Last Ronin," grateful.

The PlayStation 5 will have a media remote that is much more streamlined than the one for the PS4. It still lacks a D-Pad, but otherwise looks pretty nice.

Let's close on one of my guilty pleasures. Week one and week two of the latest season of, "The Bachelorette," has passed, and clearly, Clare is gonna blow it up soon with somebody else coming in to clear the wreckage once she bails as a two-Bachelorette season (if rumors are to be believed). I know the show is trash, but I love it so.

Enjoy Fall

I hope as the temperatures continue to get cooler and the days shorter we all still enjoy Fall as safely as possible.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

"Runaways," is Back this Week!

One of my favorite ongoing comics is the current, "Runaways," series. Writer Rainbow Rowell has been amazing on the book since 2017 and I was worried that it was stealth-canceled. This is because an issue had not come out since the comic shutdown due to COVID-19 in March. Well, pleasant surprises are lacking in 2020, but we just got one--issue #32 is actually coming out this Wednesday, October 28th. Hopefully, this means other solicited issues will soon follow and we'll be seeing future ones in Previews before long. Considering how the book is more of a sleeper hit than a big seller I was worried it would be like other titles I love with a smaller readership and get canned (Marvel and DC can be pretty harsh that way). That isn't the case for now, though, so I'm overjoyed!

Friday, October 23, 2020

"Maids," By Katie Skelly Tells a Real-Life Horror Story With Gruesome Skill

Katie Skelly is a damn fine artist and a skilled storyteller. Whether she's giving us the tale of a vampire causing a ruckus or regaling us with yarns about a sexy spy agency, Skelly's comics are a delight. Her latest release, "Maids," is interesting in that it is a mixture of non-fiction (with embellishments) and horror. Skelly takes the very real case of the Papin sisters--two French maids who murdered a mother and daughter they worked for--and morphs it into a tale of class warfare and psychosis.

Throughout the Fantagraphics-published, "Maids," tension slowly builds, with it clear Christine and Lea have a deep well of rage bubbling up in them. Is it warranted for their horrific long hours and abusive conditions? Are they insane? Could it be a mixture of both madness and legitimate anger led to the gruesome results? Skelly doesn't outright point to one reason, but does make it clear a darkness was always present in the sisters; a darkness not helped by terrible employers.

Skelly's artwork always has a colorful and flowing appearance, which makes it all the more shocking when things turn violent and grotesque. Skelly doesn't shy away from how nasty the murders were but also doesn't bathe the book in blood--instead giving a hint of the gore to come at the opening and then saving the closing pages for the gruesome murders. We are outright told they are coming on the back of the book, leaving the final result never in doubt, but watching the slow way the violent climax sneaks-up is wonderfully tense and with Skelly's amazing artwork it is always great to look at.

"Maids," is another phenomenal work by Katie Skelly and serves as yet another example of how she is among the most talented folks currently making comics. Both beautiful and grotesque, "Maids," is a must-read for those into true-crime, horror, or simply great comics.

5 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

We All Saw This Coming--Quibi is Dead

It had some good ideas, some neat shows, but it just couldn't make it work. Yes, I'm talking about Quibi. It is dead. Well, it is still kind of on right now, but it is a shambling corpse as of this moment. The pandemic takes a little bit of the blame, but in all honestly Quibi just was flawed. I hope the shows people liked find a home somewhere. Now we all get to argue if the reason Quibi died was a fluke due to its issues or a sign that the streaming market is getting overcrowded and we might see other services crash and burn soon too. Sorry you didn't make it, Quibi, you had a good six months. Well, not had six months.

The Last Debate of This God-Forsaken Election is Today

The first Presidential debate was such a mess I thought it might be the only one. When our poor excuse for our President became infected with COVID-19 the townhall debate morphed into a virtual one before being canceled for dueling town hall events. Despite all odds, however, the last debate is going to occur. Mics will be muted at certain points to stop Trump from constantly interrupting everyone, but it'll probably still be a shitshow. I hope Joe Biden manages to keep his cool and show why he's the better (and frankly, only logical) choice for President. As for if any flies appear to cause some hubbub, we will see.