Friday, September 29, 2017

The Hot Comic Revue's Third Installment: Attack of the Threequel!

Third Time and Just as Charming

Here we are with the latest installment of The Hot Comic Revue. As always, thanks to my chums at Comics Heating Up who talk about what upcoming books look worthy of speculation and encouraged me to pursue writing about what's popular in regards to stuff that is already out.

A Book That Is Warming-Up
Gasolina #1
Any brand-new Image book isn't guaranteed to be a huge hit, but usually stands a decent chance. The first-printing of, "Gasolina," sold out both its covers from Diamond and the promotional ashcan that came out a bit before the first issue continues to briskly sell online. This book hasn't yet caught fire but it looks promising. Things From Another World, MyComicShop, and eBay all are good ways to get yourself a copy.

Two Red-Hot Titles
Spider-Gwen #24
Spider-Gwen already is a very popular-character who was created in 2014 and good ol' Venom continues to be a fan favorite after rocketing to popularity in the 1990's. So, when the news emerged this issue was arguably the first appearance of Gwen merging with a version of the Symbiote and thereby becoming, "Gwenom," the book started flying off the shelves. There actually is a variant cover featuring Gwen, "Venomized," and they both appear to be equally popular, with anyone who is selling both covers at once making a pretty penny. Right now eBay or MyComicShop are your best chance to snag a copy.
Sink #1
It pleases me to see that, "Sink," is a huge hit as I of course did an advance review where I described how I loved it and had the pleasure of interviewing the creators of the book, who are both stellar guys. A stellar comic that mixes horror and crime to great success, the first issue of, "Sink," has two covers that were printed in equal quantity and therefore are both desirable--with many people wanting at least once of each (there is less-common blank variant too that doesn't seem especially hotter)! eBay or MyComicShop both have copies for sale, with the comic going for quite a lot before settling into a popular-but-not-prohibitive $10-$15 for either cover.

Two Comics with Steamy Potential
Graveland #1
Scout Comics have released a number of books that have gone on to achieve great popularity and success. "Graveland," is one of their newest releases. It features Giants causing immense destruction and is a fun action-movie-styled read. Considering how many books from Scout have gone on to at least warm-up if not become blazing-hot it would be wise to maybe grab at least one copy of, "Graveland," if you can. It currently can be found on Ebay or at MyComicShop.

Wonder Woman Conan #1
Cross-over books between two properties and publishers (DC and Dark Horse) seem to usually get a bit warm or even really hot. Considering how popular Wonder Woman is right now thanks to the awesome movie and the fact that Conan the Barbarian tends to always have a solid fan-following, this book could appeal to a variety of people and has the possibility of getting steamy in the future. I'll be the first to admit this book may be more of a slow-burn however while we wait for the next, "Wonder Woman," flick or Conan to be adapted for the big-screen or television again (which it will be, because everything is getting rebooted and brought-back now). The first issue of, "Wonder Woman Conan," is purchasable at Things From Another World, MyComicShop, and of course eBay.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

"The Bloody Cardinal" Is Bloody Good Fun (I Know, That's a Terrible Pun)

I had the pleasure of reading, "The Bloody Cardinal," by Richard Sala. It fits perfectly into my niche of quirky comics with a mixture of horror, action, bleak humor, and plenty of stellar artwork. Centering on an infamous criminal whose name is the title of the book, e.g. "The Bloody Cardinal," he supposedly died many years ago yet anyone whom he used to work with and provide with his journals seems to die--as well as anyone who gets too close to studying his infamous story.

The book moves at a brisk pace and does creative things like opening with bits of the dangerous journal, showing us a report on The Bloody Cardinal, and cuts to various vignettes with the wide cast of characters--I appreciate the beginning of the book has a legend for some of the who's who as there are quite a lot of people involved!
The comic does a stellar job of balancing scary elements such as spooky houses and murderous hobos with a delightfully sardonic sense of humor as the mystery of what keeps killing anyone connected to The Bloody Cardinal unfolds. Sala's artwork has a Euro-comics vibe and he expertly illustrates the more morbid and twisted story-elements like vicious rats or mutilated dolls just as well. Plus, the mystery of if The Bloody Cardinal has returned and whom it could be did in fact keep me guessing up until the ending when I said, "I should have seen that coming, but didn't," so I tip my hat to Sala for that as well.

"The Bloody Cardinal," is a wonderful read, with great artwork, and bits that are both scary as well as humorous. I for sure would recommend checking it out if you like stuff that is a little off-kilter. I give it a pleased 5 out of 5 stars. You can find it at Things From Another World, MyComicShop, and eBay as well.

Note: A digital copy of, "The Bloody Cardinal," was provided for the purpose of review by the publisher, Fantagraphics.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Jeff Lemire Always Delights AKA Bloodshot Salvation #1 Review

I am of course a big fan of Jeff Lemire and have also enjoyed a variety of Valiant titles. I've dipped my toe off-and-on into his, "Bloodshot," work and the latest series, "Bloodshot: Salvation," is both quite accessible to newer readers and a solid continuation of what he has done before. With great artwork by Lewis LaRosa and Mico Suayan, the story jumps around a bit from a clearly unpleasant future to a currently-mellow present. Bloodshot has settled down with a lovely woman and had a child, all is well, and Lemire makes it clear that ain't gonna last.

I appreciated that the book laid-out everything from past books even if it resulted in us having to read a bunch of exposition--still, I would rather have things be a tad wordy and make sense than suffer being real confused. Plus, as a first issue it makes sense that we need to establish the foundation of what came before and the trouble that will also be on its way. I also really liked how the art/artists change depending on if we are looking at the upcoming future or back in the past/present. The smooth and flowing look of the present has a good counter to the more harsh and scratchy artwork in our glimpses of what is to come.
"Bloodshot: Salvation," is both a great continuation and a solid start to the latest comic starring the titular hero. Lemire is a superb talent and the artwork meshes with his writing fantastically (if that's a word). I'm already eagerly awaiting the next issue and award this a glowing 4 out of 5 stars. You can find the new, "Bloodshot: Salvation," at Things from Another World or as always eBay is a stellar resource.

Television Tuesday: The Megyn Kelly Hour of the, "The Today Show," Sucks

I know I've said in the past not to judge a show by its first episode or two, but dear God is the new Megyn Kelly hour of, "The Today Show," bad. I would consider myself a bit of a conissuer of, "The Today Show," having watched it as often as possible since I was a young child. Katie Couric was inspiring, I feel like Al Roker and Willie Geist are old friends, Jenna Bush-Haeger and Dylan Dreyer are a hoot, I was so sad when NBC did Anne Curry and Tamron Hall wrong, oh and, Matt Lauer is there too. The third hour of, "The Today Show," or, "Today's Take," as it was known for some time seemed like it was just a good hour of fun and news. After all the work earlier in the show the casters could sit down, kick-back their feet, and enjoy themselves. Plus, it makes a nice mellow lead-in to the general boozy-insanity of the delightful 4th hour with Katie Lee and Hoda Kotb--which thankfully have been left untouched by this Megyn Kelly nonsense.

Imagine yourself watching the blandest talk show possible and you've basically guessed what it is. A little bit of news, some interviewing people, and it is all as dull as a stale nilla wafer. While some people seem to just exude personality, Kelly seems to suck all the energy out of the room, doing her interviews as if she's just ticking-off a list of stuff to bring up and then move on to the next subject as awkwardly and nervously as possible.
Tamron got screwed.

The only thing on Monday that at least was bearable from a human-interest angle was the recorded piece about a nun who helps inner-city teenagers which of course is cliché but still sweet and heartwarming (I was pleased she got presents for being awesome when they brought her out). Even that has some uncomfortable overtones with this white lady going and helping all the poor black people though. That maybe wasn't the best thing to have in the first episode of a show for a woman who herself used countless dog-whistles to racists when talking about former President Barack Obama when she was a Fox News crony. Tuesday was basically just a big ad for, "This is Us," followed by a segment that was basically one big stroke-job on Kelly's ego where they interviewed her family and friends about awesome she is. Yeah.

Early reviews of the show are also not too kind, with The Washington Post describing it as a, "Bride of Frankenstein" which is made-up of various body-parts from other shows. The Atlantic mocked her stating how she's "Done with Politics," considering she spent years on Fox News doing nothing but politics before that ended in a ball of fire and she came to NBC because her station turned on her for not bowing-down to Donald Trump and speaking-out about being sexually harassed (the one, count em' one thing I admire about her, she didn't take shit from Trump or Fox News). Her nighttime news shows for NBC bombed tremendously so now she invades my beloved, "The Today Show," and ruins what used to be a great third hour. I give it six months, eight at most if NBC feels generous.

Monday, September 25, 2017

I Greatly Enjoyed the ToyMan Show Yesterday!

I've lived in Saint Louis for a bit over six years now and love going to cons and shows with toys, games, comics, etc. Therefore, it is a bit embarrassing to admit that up until yesterday I had never been to a ToyMan show. Chris, "ToyMan," McQuillen has been doing these shows multiple times a year in the Saint Louis region since the 1990's. The latest one just occurred at the Machinists Hall on Saint Charles Rock Road in Bridgeton and was a stellar time! I arrived bright-and-early as I always like to watch as things are set-up and to chat with vendors plus fans of a show who are passionate enough to be there when the floor opens. At 8AM the, "Early-bird," folk came in and the searching for cool stuff began!

As this is a, "ToyMan," show there of course was a ton of toys ranging from vintage die-cast cars and hot wheels, to Star Wars, Star Trek, classic television programs, old movies, and a ton of Funko Pops. There also was a great deal of classic video-games for sale from vintage Atari up to more recent Xbox and Playstation titles. A healthy helping of vendors were selling comics too, which as a big fan of comic-books was the main draw for me! Everyone was extremely nice and a number of people I talked to said how they like the ToyMan shows because they are very fairly priced in regards to entry fees and have such a wide range of items for sale.
Morning setting-up
While I've mentioned there was an immense amount of cool items atendees could buy, there were creative-type folk as well! In the upstairs, "Artist's Balcony," a number of small-press comic-makers, writers, and craft-creators were present, as well as special celebrity guest Butch Patrick who I previously spoke with at Wizard World and is always very pleasant to chat with. I also met Robert Mays of APG Grading, a newer grading company that will take toys, comics, etc.

I didn't bring too much cash with me, but I did have a number of semi-valuable comics I was hoping to trade with interested parties, and much to my delight I was able to use the combination of my money and somewhat-popular comics to pick up a Mr. PoopyButthole Funko Pop from Rick and Morty, the classic Playstation Game, "Fear Effect 2: Retro Helix," which is a series I've discussed having a soft-spot for, and an assortment of cheap comics in addition to a handful of really cool old, "Epic," magazines from the 1980's which feature Marvel work that wasn't subject to the Comic's Code--e.g. there was more violence, swearing, and nudity, so yah!
A cool Funko I got!
I had a fantastic time at my first-ever ToyMan show and would love to go again to future shows assuming that Chris AKA the ToyMan is okay with me continuing to pester him about what kind of awesome stuff to expect at the next show on November 5th!

Friday, September 22, 2017

"Bodak Yellow," by Cardi B is One of the Worst Songs I've Ever Heard

Time to Sound Like a Cranky Old Man Again...
Cardi B
I previously discussed how I seem to hate a lot of today's, "popular," music and how I worried that made me an out-of-touch old man. Sometimes I just have to ask though, "Seriously? This is what the kids today are liking?" Such a thought went through my mind when I first heard--and continue to hear played--the song, "Bodak Yellow," by Cardi B.

"Bodak Yellow," is on the radio a bunch and one of the top-streaming songs, but that doesn't hide the fact it is just awful. Cardi B's lyrics are insipid and vapid consisting of weak brags and threats at her haters (which plenty of rappers do, but actually do well), her flow is wack and disjointed, the beat sounds hollow, and the melody is nonexistent. It is just plain terrible. If you want proof here is the music video:

Look, I don't want to hate on Cardi B, I've read articles about how much she had to work to, "Come-Up," and all the struggles she has faced. I haven't watched her on the, "Love and Hip-Hop," reality shows that she apparently shines on thanks to a fun personality, and she seems like a perfectly fine human being. That said, "Bodak Yellow," a God-awful song.

Anytime, "Bodak Yellow," comes on I feel a painful throbbing in my head that makes me worry I'm going to start bleeding simultaneously out of my nose, ears, and eyes. Everything gets hazy and I have to change the radio station/streaming song as quickly as possible lest I begin screaming uncontrollably. This sounds like exaggeration, but it really is that miserable in my opinion.
How some people probably picture me.
I realize that at this point all the young folk out there are probably rolling their eyes at this almost-3-decades-old man bitching about their music. I know I sound out-of-touch and like I'm judging, but I in fact enjoy other popular music which is--you know--good. I'm aware at this point as I drone on and on anyone in their teens probably pictures me as some crotchety old man yelling at them to get off their lawn, and  I've come to terms with that. I just had to make it clear I can't stand, "Bodak Yellow," and while I wish Cardi B the best I seriously hope she can come-up with another single even the slightest bit better than this. Should you disagree with me feel free to buy, "Bodak Yellow," for all your streaming pleasure on Amazon, just please don't play it around me.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thoughts on More Books From my Local Libraries

Gotta Love the Library!
My favorite County Library branch
I continue to love my local County and City library, immensely enjoying utilizing them to check-out and read a variety of books. Whether anthropological histories, neat comics, or guides for screen-free activities I can do with my son as he grows older, the library has a lot of useful stuff! I'm not going to review these books per-se so much as some discussion about them as I pretty much liked everything I picked-up and am talking about here (stuff I felt like I didn't like was quickly skimmed and returned; hence, I don't mention those materials as I would need to read more to have a solid opinion).

The Books
Puke Force
by Brian Chippendale
I had read a lot of reviews online talking about how the intentionally busy and ugly artwork mixed with satire results in a fascinating collection of comics in Brian Chippendale's, "Puke Force." Hideous drawings of people and human-esque monsters in, "Grave City," are complimented by prickly Liberals, paranoid Right-Wingers, snarky tech-users, well-meaning hero-teams who seem pretty habitually lazy, and craven politicians (of course). Everything is just so busy in how it looks in the art and the ideas come a mile-a-minute in this surrealist masterpiece of showing a world that really sucks and shows what ours could become if we aren't careful. Basically nobody is safe from Chippendale's searing critique and God is it ugly-yet-beautiful. This book is by no means easy to read in how its formatting literally requires you to look at a legend for every page so you know the order to look at panels, or in the sense of how much content it covers and satirizes. It is for sure a rewarding book to read, however. I have found, "Puke Force," available for sale at Amazon and Things From Another World.
On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep
by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam
Parents often talk about how their babies won't sleep well through the night, and how it is a huge pain. We actually were both lucky and skilled in that with minimal work we have been able to get it where Clarkson generally will fall asleep sometime between 10:00 PM to right before midnight and sleep until 7:00 AM-8:00 AM or so. We actually did some of the things discussed in this book before I even read it, which shows we and the publication are both on the right track! Basically, the idea is that you don't just feed your baby if he has some cues, or based on time, you consider a mixture of elements, such as if the baby is really upset and clearly crying, or just showing some cues, how long it has been since he slept, and go from there to establish a clear sleep-wake-feed schedule over time so your baby knows he'll eat more during the day, have an extended period of sleep at night, and so forth.

There are other good pieces of general child-raising advice and feeding is covered in-depth too because when your child eats has major implications for when he wants to sleep as well. It all makes perfect sense and is invaluable advice for those parents who find their child refuses to sleep much of the night and want to work towards creating a a better cycle of nighttime sleeping and being awake during more of the day (with naps of course still playing a significant role, don't think your baby shall just be awake all day and sleep all night until he/she is much older). Should your baby be keeping you up all hours of the night consider this book mandatory reading. You can find the book on Amazon here.

Aquaman Volume 1: The Drowning
Aquaman Volume 2: Black Manta Rising
by Dan Abnett (writer), Scott Eaton, and Brad Walker (artists)
I've seen Aquaman written a number of ways, from the caring king who is good-natured to the sour-faced and cranky portrayal that we recently had under Geoff Johns. For DC's big, "Rebirth," re-launch writer Dan Abnett strikes a good balance between these personalities, giving us an Aquaman who is kind, but won't hesitate to get mad and punch Superman if need be. Throughout these two volumes we watch as Arthur Curry and Black Manta actually settle their blood feud in a surprising occurrence--but as the story continues it is all too clear that when Black Manta isn't trying to just kill Aquaman and being made fun of for losing to the, "Fish-Man," he is someone who poses a much larger threat to the world.

Scott Eaton and Brad Walker seem to split art-duty and have a similar enough art-style that the changes in issues is never to jarring. The art lacks much attention-grabbing imagery actually, but my eyes weren't bleeding from reading the comic, so while that is kind of damning with faint praise, the art was fine. Between the pleasant art and strong writing this current story about the King of Atlantis has impressed me and made me eager to read more Aquaman--so that's impressive in and of itself.
You can buy the first trade via Amazon or Things From Another World, and the second trade is of course on Amazon and at Things From Another World as well.

Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus
by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy
This is a book that is depressing as it is interesting. Wasik and Murphy follow Rabies from its earliest discussions in history up to how its viewed now. A, "Most Diabolical Virus," it is fascinating to read of how it baffled early doctors with its violent and wild mystique and even today is sometimes misunderstood with even cures exaggerated (you don't need countless shots in the stomach if you're exposed, a myth that persists even now). There are many morbid accounts in the book of how rabies impacted our planet, and an interesting theme emerges of how in some ways rabies is terrifying because it takes our ideas of modernization and domestication and tears it down into a wild and dangerous primal thing. I would for sure recommend getting a copy are your library or purchasing the book on Amazon.

Perfume: A Century of Scents
by Lizzie Ostrom
Moving from rabies to something a bit less depressing but just as fascinating, we have this book which breaks-down various scents from the early 1900's up to near the present day. Most of us may just think of perfume as something we splash on to smell good, but Ostrom's exhaustive research shows how the scents of an era can tell us a lot about its history, culture, and the like. It's an interesting book as it breaks-down decades into certain perfumes, displaying how something we would barely consider--scents--can be a reflection of so much. It is a fun read and you can always buy it on Amazon.
150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids
by Asia Citro
My son Clarkson right now a young baby at six months/four months adjusted for prematurity. That said, kids grow-up fast and in this era full of technology (no matter how wonderful it is) sometimes limiting screen-time for our little ones can be a good decision, especially if we have awesome and fun activities for them to do! This book has stuff for everyone from infants to kids 5 and older--as well as some activities I'd want to try--and is invaluable when it comes to generating ideas of awesome stuff we can do with our young'uns. I love the activities that involve making cool creations or doing craft-type stuff as even if I'm not the most art-skilled I still am a fan of doing such things! You can find the book on Amazon at this link.
by Jeff Lemire
I've been a fan of Jeff Lemire ever since I picked-up some of his earliest work, the "Essex County," comics he did. He does a wonderful job whether he is writing or illustrating, but I feel he is at his best when he's writing and illustrating. Lemire has worked in a variety of genres from sci-fi to superheroes but here gives us something more realistic in the tale of a man named Derek who used to play Hockey and now is just basically a violent has-been drunk. When Derek's sister, Beth, whom he hasn't seen in years comes to town fleeing an abusive ex its up to Derek just how he wants to handle that situation and Lemire draws us in with his skillful work to make us truly care about these individuals.

The sadness and longing for joy felt by these people exhausted by the trials of life strikes a chord and kept me hooked-into the story up until I reached its conclusion. Lemire also does some fascinating things with color, having the present-day be almost always a washed-out blue with only the color red making an appearance (usually for blood). Scenes from the past that characters remember are illustrated in a lush color however, as if even the most painful of memories are more, "Alive," than being trapped in an unhappy present. I've seen, "Roughneck," listed as being one of the best books of 2017 so far and it wouldn't surprise me if even once we finish the year and much more stuff has come out that it remains proudly on those lists. Roughneck can be found on Amazon or at Things From Another World.
Big Mushy, Happy Lump
by Sarah Andersen
Sarah Andersen's comics may be the kind you often see on the internet as she has a way to make little moments absolutely hilarious. Whether riffing on the comfort-level of sweaters, discussing how self-doubt can be our greatest enemy, or touching upon the way women are treated by society, she is a stellar artist and great producer of hilarious comic-strips.  There were a number of times I found myself chuckling or loudly guffawing at Andersen's work in this book. Sometimes the best way to tackle serious subjects is with some silly jokes, after all. You can get, "Big, Mushy, Happy Lump," on Amazon's site.

Now to Return Everything Before the Late Fees!
I always am pleased to get stuff from the library, and I encourage you to frequent your local establishment of learning and lending!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I Honestly Want, "The Most Variant Cover of All Time," From Valiant

I run hot-and-cold on variants sometimes, enjoying ones that look cool but getting annoyed when companies like Marvel have weird schemes to boost sales. Well, Valiant has found an ingenious way to both make-fun of variant covers and put-out one that I imagine everyone (myself included) will want. They are debuting, "The Most Variant Cover of All Time!"

Featuring every gimmick you can think of (except glowing in the dark, which they admit they couldn't manage), this cover has lenticular logos, chromium bars, foil, die-cut parts, hand-numbering, and a random extra hero who is attached as a sticker. If stores want it they have to order 250 copies of the new, "Quantum and Woody," comic coming December 20th and are limited to one-per-store. Its an absurd rule to order the comic, but it's supposed to be dumb, because if you're going to have, "The Most Variant Cover of All Time," it makes perfect sense you have weird rules to acquire one. Basically, Valiant is daring stores to buy-in to this self-aware gag about variants and saying, "You want silly variants with a high buy-in? Oh, have we got the comic for you!"
I will try and acquire a copy of this comic for myself so that I can both review its contents and offer in-depth thoughts on the cover itself. It may not be possible, but I'll sure try! In the meantime, I encourage you to visit Valiant's website and check-out all their other quality titles!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Mid-September 2017 Links, Because Learning is Fun!

A Miserable Month
It is the middle of September, that month which doesn't usually quite feel like Summer but lacks the charm of Fall as well. Basically, September sucks. Let's try to make it more fun with some quality links!

Let's start with a cynical question that does not really have an answer. Namely, what was the point of Marvel's, "Secret Empire," besides being bad? We don't know.

The Hipster and Yuppie have made a cultural offspring. It is terrible.

Chrstopher Reeve was such a good actor he could be his own special effect.

I quite liked the Castlevania show on Netflix. Paste magazine had more mixed feelings I can understand them holding but don't quite agree with fully you can read here.

From the same site, Paste has a fascinating piece about the Comic industry and its ongoing struggle to achieve gender diversity

On the subject of Gender, there have always been female fandoms in culture, people have just tried to minimize it as Film School Rejects has written about.

In, "Divinity: Original Sin 2," the idea of an RPG character that literally wears the faces of people it kills to pretend to be them is disturbing...and a cool-sounding mechanic for gameplay. Also, that it is a great game makes me excited too.

This piece about the, "Types of Becky," should be required reading for all the Beckys out there.

Speaking of Beckys, I never liked Iggy Azalea and I was fascinated by this article about her, "Making and unmaking."

"Bioshock," as a game is now 10 years old. It was an amazing--if not perfect--title that had a huge impact comes to everything from gameplay, to tone, atmosphere, and philosophy in other games since.

I ought to see some of these, "14 Recent Sci-Fi Films That Didn't Need Big Budgets to Be Amazing."

It sounds really navel-gazing but this discussion by comic critics about how comic critics discuss (what else) comics, is a pretty interesting read at Loser City.

Fire Ants can apparently float, so damn, we are screwed.

I love rap, but as a musical form it has a complicated past and present with the subject of violence, as Vulture goes in-depth about.

I am a big fan of the,"Metal Gear Solid," series of games and I've seen a variety of opinions about how the 2nd game shocked everyone by having a main character named Raiden. Kotaku argues he was the best thing to ever happen to the series, and I kinda see what they're driving at.

Oh yeah, the Emmys were yesterday and I'll admit I didn't watch them as I just feel like I'm at a point in my life where dedicating 3-4 hours to an awards show sounds kind of dull--even if the talented Stephen Colbert apparently did a solid job hosting.

This video examines what makes the original, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," by recently-departed Director Tobe Hooper a classic, discussing how it both established and subverted certain horror genre expectations.

Lastly, I remember back in the day how big a battle it was between Sega and Nintendo when it came to being the, "Cool," company, as is reminisced over at this link. In the end, I think Nintendo admittedly won.

Eager for October

As the above video with the sax-playing seal doing a cover of, "Wake me Up When September Ends," illustrates, I am ready for October. I hope everyone has a decent rest of this month!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Mini-Run Review: The Wildstorm #1-#6

Wildstorm was an interesting comic imprint. Made by Jim Lee, it started out at Image, was bought by DC, featured a variety of folk writing for it, had a world-destroying event it tried to make stories out of, and then was folded into the mainstream DC-Universe for the New 52 before that was mostly forgotten with, "Rebirth," not having any Wildstorm characters featured right now as far as I recall. One person who wrote a bunch of comics for Wildstorm was Warren Ellis, with his cerebral, "Stormwatch," and its massively successful (and more focused on explosive action) follow-up "The Authority," being remembered fondly.

So, Wildstorm was basically dead, and then it was announced the world was getting a weird and new re-launch with everything heavily re-imagined by none other than...Warren Ellis! With the art of John Davis-Hunt as well we would get a new series that had characters we maybe recalled, but very different in a whole new world. Basically, something friendly to new readers but with some of the old concepts and names. Not so much a reboot as a drastic re-imagining. Could such a thing be good and work however, or show-up as a huge mess? Well, the fact that they got Warren Ellis should assure you that there ain't much of a need to worry.
Yes, "The Wildstorm," is quite good. It is more in-line with Ellis' earlier, "Stormwatch," stuff, focusing on secret organizations that try to run the world and all the complexities that entails. This isn't the hopeful world we had near the start of the new millennium however, this is 2017 and the world is a dark and depressing place, just as this comic reflects. "The Wildstorm," is a 24-issue series split into segments with various spin-offs that occur every once in awhile. Besides the handful of comics that will spin-off this is a pretty self-contained kind of comic-world, not something as big and multi-volume as the old, "Wildstorm books." I like that though, and have found this first arc of, "The Wildstorm," very enjoyable.

Basically, as is explained a couple issues in, there are two major organizations that run everything. International Operations runs most of the planet of Earth, and Skywatch gets space. There is a weak peace between these groups and some outside parties might cause all the treaties to fall apart and war to break-out. A tech-whiz named Angelia Spica has stolen a lot of tech from IO, some of which they had already stolen from Skywatch, so clearly some trouble is afoot. Also, there are space aliens, because why not? It also is nice to have John Davis-Hunt providing such nice artwork, with his clean and precise lines giving everything a sharp and severe look.
Whether Ellis is giving us a new riff on WildCATs, Michael Cray, Henry Bendix, or countless other characters it is fun to see the man who arguably helped make these characters so popular the first time return to them with a new lens to skew everything into something drastically different. As I would only say my familiarity with the old Wildstorm Universe is minimal-to-kinda-decent I can say without too much hesitation this book is quite friendly to new readers and is also fun for anyone who has even a passing familiarity with the old Wildstorm books such as myself.

There was not an issue in August as it was a planned, "Skip month," Ellis previously mentioned in his weekly newsletter I subscribe to so I look forward to issue #7 during this month and reading what the latest story-arc holds!
4.5 out of 5 stars.
You can buy issues of, "The Wildstorm," on eBay and at all finer comic shops.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

So, I Went and Made a Patreon

I decided to do it, I went and made a Patreon from The Newest Rant and you can find it here.

If you haven't heard of Patreon, it is basically a website that was made to allow creators of content to have fans chip-in some funds for them. People who make movies, comics, or share their mad ramblings on a popular-culture website (e.g. me) can offer little fun rewards to people who want to contribute and I thought it might be a cool thing to try.

Please note this won't affect what I put on the blog, but if people back my Patreon, depending on the level they choose they can get a behind-the-scenes look at what I'm working on (just a dollar a month), have access to a weekly videos where I will rant about the news from the past seven days (five dollars a month) or for $25 a month you can submit a creation of your own for me to privately review and offer my opinion on--be it a comic, song, web-video, whatever!

I thought making a Patreon was a good idea as since the birth of my son, Clarkson, we have of course focused our expenses towards him, and having fans chip-in makes it easier for me to have the funds to be able to focus on the blog and what it costs to do (e.g. buying stuff to review, time that could be spent working at another job, and so forth).

I don't want anyone who enjoys my blog to feel pressured to contribute, and again, be reassured that my blog itself will never have anything put behind a, "Pay-wall," or such. this Patreon just allows me to provide some cool extras to people and hopefully dedicate even more time time to working on posts! Plus, I will for sure enjoy doing weekly rant videos where I go-off about all the absurdities happening in the world of comics, politics, and our worlds in general.

Again, you can find my Patreon here and thank you to anyone who even  considers becoming a patron.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Rant-Reviews: Three Long-Running Image Books and Three New Ones

Combining Concepts
I've done plenty of articles where I discuss new first issues of titles, and have made posts discussing books that have been coming out for quite awhile as well. I also would say Image is probably the publisher I read the most of, easily making-up a third of the books I frequently enjoy. I thought I would combine all of these elements and now present three reviews of long-running Image books as well as three new first issues. Let's review them and see if we learn something, I guess?

O.G. Books
Saga #46
People will often write about how, "Saga," features parts that make them really emotional and while I've quite enjoyed the book I haven't really felt that way. Well, one segment in this issue just totally wrecked me and illustrated why Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staple's work is probably going to result in this book being on those, "Greatest Comics of All Time," lists that folk sometimes feel like making. What at first seemed like a a bit of a silly space soap-opera has evolved quickly into an epic yarn on love, loss, and God-dammit that segment where the future-specter of a potential brother fades away from his living sister still has me bawling. Fuck you for giving me all these emotions, BKV and Staples! This latest issue of, "Saga," can easily be bought at Things From Another World, on eBay, at MyComicShop, or at a fine comic establishment near you.
5 out of 5 stars.

The Wicked and the Divine #31
I wondered if WIC+DIV as the cool kids call it would run out of steam once a potential adversary that had been in the book was defeated, but clearly the worst foe these reincarnated Gods will face is arguably themselves. This is the kind of issue that starts out kind of quiet and then has a whole bunch of shocking climaxes at the end which are sure to make the next issue amazing...but unfortunately make this one feel a little bit like a bunch of lead-up to some admittedly crazy moments (a character death I did not see coming being on of them).  This still is a stellar issue of WIC+DIV, it just isn't amazing as some of the best ones. That said, I have gotta read issue #32 as soon as I possibly can now! You can buy the newest WIC+DIV at Things From Another World, on eBay, at MyComicShop, or of course in all quality comic shops.
4 out of 5 stars.

Savage Dragon #226
If these are some O.G. books this is the grand-pappy O.G., as besides, "Spawn," this is essentially the only title since the dawn of Image in 1992 to keep somewhat-continuously running since then, and the only long-running one from Image almost always done by a single creator (various people have done, "Spawn,") with creator Erik Larsen occasionally taking breaks.  Larsen, the writer and artist on the book, should be applauded for having been able to evolve his book about an extraterrestrial Dragon all these decades from a general super-hero book to a title with characters that have aged, had children, died, and so forth all while making a comic that clever manages to riff on current trends to stay popular.

One of those trends right now is how our *shudder* President Donald Trump is working his hardest to destroy our Nation and turn everyone against each other, so Larsen takes this to a logical place where Trump would try and outlaw literal aliens from space just as much as he is railing against, "Illegal aliens," from other countries. The political allegory is piled-on here thick and with little subtlety, but it works. A fun read, it is amazing to think this has been chugging along since 1992 and that is itself admirable--that the book also manages to continue to be good is an even more impressive feat. You can currently find, "Savage Dragon #226," for sale on eBay or at MyComicShop and of course in stores.
3.5 out of 5 stars.

Brand-New Titles

Retcon #1
Yeah, I wasn't feeling this. When I heard the idea of this comic discussed, that it has these characters who keep living life a little differently--e.g. getting retconned--that sounded interesting, but this issue just seems like a big of a disjointed mess of various plot devices and storytelling ideas--secret government agencies, paranormal forces, drug addiction, and more! Perhaps this is a case where things will make more sense as the book proceeds and this issue purposely seems a bit trite because it is going to be, "Retconned," next issue as a brand-new story or something? That would be cool, but if the next issue just follows-up on the tedium here I'll be disappointed. At least the art is good. Should you want to get your own copy of, "Retcon," then Things From Another World, eBay, and MyComicShop are all good resources.
2 out of 5 stars.

Scales and Scoundrels #1
I knew very little about this book as I don't generally go for fantasy-titles much, preferring sci-fi. That said, having read this, I quite like this Young Adult-friendly tale of a scoundrel (as per the title) and the mischief she gets up to. Despite, "Scales," being in the title and dragons having some discussion, there isn't too much in the way of dragons this issue. That's alright though, because we do get a solidly-told yarn that introduces our main characters, their quest for riches, and hints at more trouble to come. It is a well-told story that looks good, and that makes it an engaging read. I don't normally dig fantasy titles, but this cracks my cold indifference with its sheer enthusiasm, so that's impressive. I would recommend grabbing this book and you can do so at Things From Another World, via eBay, or on MyComicShop.
4.5 out of 5 stars.

Realm #1
This is a weird one (that's good though). Were this not clearly a first issue I would almost feel like I had dipped into a comic a few issues in, as a whole lot happens and very little is explained. I actually appreciate this however, as many comics often want to give you an info-dump in the first issue and overwhelm readers with background-stuff. "Realm," doesn't do that, however. We simply follow some characters in a world that is clearly very messed-up and had some terrible things happen to it that gives everything a weird mixture of post-apocalypse with orcs and magic.

I'm immensely confused as to what exactly is going on, but that is clearly intentional as we are told what we absolutely need to know as readers and allowed to wonder about everything else. We don't have to be made aware of what made everything so fucked-up, it just is, and we're along for the ride. It is refreshing to see this storytelling technique followed of letting us readers puzzle things out and with the fantastic artwork this book is one that has my interest piqued. eBay and MyComicShop are both good resources for buying the first issue of, "Realm."
4 out of 5 stars.

Old(er) and New, Done With Review(s)
Image puts out a lot of winners and will sometimes miss too, of course. That said, the books that have been running for awhile clearly succeed thanks to their ability to hook-in readers with incredible worlds, great plotting, and impressive artwork. Assuming these newer books can manage to have all that they may very well climb-up high in their issue-count too (or if mini-series, get multiple minis, you know what I mean). We shall see!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Thanks, "Stabbity Bunny," Creative Team and Comics Heating Up For the Awesome Comic!

I am of course a frequent reader of Comics Heating Up, arguably the best website around for those into comic-book speculation. Not too long ago they had a contest with the creative team behind, "Stabbity Bunny," to come-up with a name and breed for a dog which would appear in the comic as a pet of the main character. "Stabbity Bunny," is an independently-published comic that was just recently picked-up by Scout Comics and looks like a hilariously dark read, focusing on how, "A seven-year-old girl and her plush rabbit, Stabbity Bunny, are targeted by supernatural forces that have been hunting her family for generations. Grace is kidnapped and things quickly turn from dangerous to deadly when she attempts to escape. Fortunately, both Grace and the kidnapper will discover Stabbity has secrets of his own … and nobody threatens his little girl." That plush rabbit clearly will defend Grace from any danger quite violently, so yeah, this should be zany fun.

As Grace will be getting a puppy and people were asked to supply a breed and name, I suggested what I personally felt would be a superb breed to have in a comic and the name I would give a dog if I had one. Therefore, I suggested she have a Pug and he be named Humphrey. I made that comment and forgot about it until some weeks later when the winner was announced via a Youtube video, and I was quite surprised to hear who won:

That's right, the creative team of Richard Rivera, Dwayne Biddix, and Liezl Buenaventura liked my suggestion enough that when they reviewed the list of names and breeds I was chosen as the winner! They were unaware I even had a blog, but as I do I wanted to give a shout-out to them expressing my thanks for the awesome comic, and of course thank Tony and the rest of CHU crew as well! I am very excited to see the debut of Humphrey in future issues of, "Stabbity Bunny," for sure!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Quick Political Thoughts About Kid Rock (That's A Sentence I Never Thought I Would Say)

If Kid Rock actually runs for the Senate, and America in fact elects Kid Rock then I have reached three equally valid conclusions:

1. "The Great Experiment," of Democracy is dead.

2. Not just some people, but most people, apparently want to the watch the world burn.

3. Some unseen force is trolling us, be it God, whoever controls the computer program we all live in, or whatever higher power you do or don't believe in.

That is all.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

I Love Pumpkin Spice Items and Refuse to Apologize For It

I love Pumpkin Spice--there, I said it. People can joke that makes me, "Basic," or some kind of, "Lame white girl," but regardless of your weirdly sexist insults I still love pumpkin spice in almost anything. It can be a doughnut, some cider, or of course my beloved pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks, and I'll be happy. It isn't surprising, considering how when I was growing-up I loved the flavor of Pumpkin, be it in a pie, some ice cream, or whatever else. I suppose it was a natural evolution for me to like the addition of the, "Spice," to make it pumpkin spice as I grew into the individual I am now. I truly love pumpkin spice in food items and refuse to apologize.

I don't always get why there is so much hate for those who enjoy pumpkin spice. Have people not tried it and seen how god-damn delicious it is mixed into assorted foodstuffs or beverages? Are these people who don't like pumpkin in general? Seriously, what gives? I don't know where all the negativity comes from, but while you all crack jokes I'll just be here enjoying my delicious latte.

That was pretty messed-up how Starbucks used the launch of the pumpkin spice latte to distract from a price-hike on other stuff though. Not cool, Starbucks, not cool at all.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Hot Comics Revue, Installment Two

Part Deux
With this second installment of The Hot Comics Revue it officially is now a semi-regular thing on my blog. I continue to owe a debt of gratitude to my chums at ComicsHeatingUp for the inspiration for this segment. They which they think might be hot before they come out, with the focus of my segment of course being discussing comics that are already released and warming-up, red-hot, or have steamy potential.

A Book That is Warming Up
Trumps Titans #1
I have made it clear multiple times on my blog that I despise Donald Trump and horrible excuse for a President he is proving to be. That said, political stuff  in comic-books generally gets some interest and this smaller-press title, "Trump's Titans," could appeal to both fans of Trump as well as haters due to politics of course being of immense interest to many of us lately. There are a variety of covers that seem to be generating sales and they all are selling for a bit above cover price on eBay and might get ever warmer as shit just gets crazier in crazier in regards to an already absurd Presidency.

Red-Hot Titles
Totally Awesome Hulk #22
Part of a crossover titled, "Weapons of Mutant Destruction," this issue features the debut of the character Weapon H. Weapon H is arguably the most 1990's concept ever, a Hulk with huge Wolverine-style claws and chunks of adamantium poking out of his body in an almost Doomsday-esque manner. It is pretty silly, but I think that's kind of the point. Plus, by combining the Hulk and Wolverine into a big gray and angry monster this book has found itself steadily climbing in popularity from at first going for $15-$20 to shooting-up to nearly triple-digits and now settling nicely at around $40-$50 for a first-print copy.

As this has no variants outside of upcoming 2nd printings that helps prevent any muddying of the market. The continued value of this book relies heavily on Weapon H remaining popular and possibly showing-up in other books, or else this baby might fizzle. For now though, its on fire and unless you go to eBay your chances of getting a copy are slim.

The Walking Dead #171 "Pink," Variant
Okay, so this one is a little confusing. Basically, the newest issue of, "The Walking Dead," has two covers, the usual A cover with a new character known as, "The Princess,' on it and a B cover with a bunch of zombies swarming around. However, there is a secret third cover that is kind of like an alternate B cover! Confused? It's okay, basically all you need to know is that the variant cover for this issue has a version where the artist's signature is in blueish ink and a version where the signature is in pink ink that seems to at a ratio of 1:10-1:20 depending on the store.

Now, "The Walking Dead," is already probably the most valuable of most modern comics and while other titles will heat-up and cool down if something is TWD-related it generally just keeps getting hotter and hotter. As if to mirror that this, "Secret variant," started going for easily $25-or-so on eBay before now selling for anywhere from 75 smackers to nearly a Benjamin AKA $100. I'm not sure what the roof will be on this book but once it hits that cap it will probably stay there as opposed to cooling-down because this is, "The Walking Dead," and at this point anything TWD-related is a license to print money.

A Comic With Steamy Potential
Fruit Ninja #1
Okay, bear with me here as some might disagree with me on this (ComicsHeatingUp actually said they were betting against this book getting popular) but considering how other comics based on games have been popular I could see this maybe getting hot. After all, the cross-over potential exists between fans of the game and people who like comics, plus Fruit Ninja is a popular game despite not having any plot I've ever seen which makes me curious how a comic will be designed around it. Also, there is a, "Jetpack Joyride," back-up story and I've loved playing that game before.

It might be a stretch, but with enough buzz I could see the first issue of, "Fruit Ninja," getting some attention and maybe shooting-up in value. It sounds crazy, but the "Dark Souls," comic continues to make a decent profit after it got popular, so why not Fruit Ninja? For now you can get it for what is basically cover-price on eBay, so I know I'll grab a copy and give it a shot.