Archive for Marvel comics

Cold Cuppa: Twelve Gems

Posted in Cold Cuppa, Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 05/06/2018 by Kevin Entrekin

Listen: Ghost- “Helvetesfönster”

Hey crew. Sorry it has been awhile since we’ve boarded the ship. Been docked for a bit while some life changes have been rapidly evolving. We are now financed by a new shipping company. We also have set up shop in a new base camp. It’s nice to be on my own, but fellow space pirates Count Mecha and Rython being next door is very nice. Everything is sailing smooth, aside from the information sharing systems not working right yet. (In short: Started a new job in the heart of Memphis, got an apartment next to my friends, and trying to get the capitalist bloodsuckers at Xfinity to do their job has been a nightmare. Three months of paying them money, still have no Wi-Fi).

TWELVE GEMS by Lane Milburn. 2014. Published by Fantagraphics, $19.99. Adult Sci-Fi novel.

I’ve been wanting to read Twelve Gems for a long time now. The first time I saw the cover, it spoke to my soul. Thankfully, the story behind the cover also lived up to my hopes.

Twelve Gems is the space-opera story of three space heroes searching for the fabled Twelve Gems of Power. The heroes: A deadly warrior named Venus; The brawling, fugitive alien Furz; and the brilliant technician canine Dogstar are recruited by Dr. Z to find the stones. Danger and adventure awaits around every corner for the three adventurers as they begin to learn more about the stones and Dr. Z’s fascination with them.

Twelve Gems is panel-to-panel packed with 80’s B-reel action (hint: read this blaring some metal and rock music). This book feels like something a friend in high school works on in science class instead of conforming to the educational system. And it turns out that friend is crafting an amazing sci-fi adventure and you’re in on this secret, fantastical thing. The black-and-white sketch style Milburn uses in this book feels like it could easily be a cheap Bic drawn on college-ruled paper, and it’s just gorgeous.

As I already said, the action is nearly non-stop, but it still has a solid plot with equally strong characters. One that flows seamlessly with the action elements. The way Milburn lays out his panels, and uses entire one and two page spreads to progress the story, is perfect. He packs so much imagery and dialogue into each page.

I’m now annoyed that there isn’t more love for this book in general. I personally feel it needs to be talked about among the comic community. And Lane Milburn needs to be funded to make some kind of sequel or spiritual successor to Twelve Gems.

SOUTHERN BASTARDS #20 by Jason Aaron (Wr) & Jason Latour (A). 2018. Published by Image Comics, $3.99. Adult Southern Crime.

I have written about my love of this series here in the past. I ended up deleting the article because it was a boring and generally poor write-up. But my love for this southern tale is unchanged. It’s probably the title I’m most excited to see in my pull list. 1) Because it’s so good, and 2) you get a new issue about every three months (if you’re lucky).

I don’t want to get too much into the story here, at the risk of spoiling anything. I don’t normally care about “spoilers”, but this is a special and dense web that should be experienced with virgin knowledge. The basic story revolves around a revered high school football coach in Craw County, Alabama who is in a world of trouble. Both on the field and with his criminal businesses. How will Coach Boss get out of this jackpot?

Unfortunately, this is the first issue in the series that leaves a bitter taste. There’s nothing wrong with Latour’s art or Aaron’s writing. But, this issue felt like the climax of things that had been building since the first issue. Chickens should be coming home to roost. But then they don’t. What had been boiling under the surface simple subsides. The southern biblical justice that has been coming down throughout the series now shows mercy. Why?

This series could perfectly end here, and it sadly should. What a perfect moment to wrap up this saga in Craw County. But what we get instead is a forced attempt to extend the longevity of the series. I vehemently despise media that extends it natural story progression past expiration. Maybe it will be worth it in the long run? That is uncertain now. What is for certain is that for a series that felt very definite and dangerous, things are now feeling relatively safe and bloated.

DOMINO #1 by Gail Simone (Wr) & David Baldeon (A). 2018. Published by Marvel. $3.99. Parental Advisory, but very mild. Personal opinion: Suitable for Teens.

This book comes with a parental advisory warning on the cover. Which, while reading this book, kept me from enjoying it. Because I don’t particularly see why that warning is necessary. Because within the second page, our girl Domino lets loose a few expletives. Or, more notably, a bunch of %#@&ing maledicta symbols. Why? You’re hall pass is right on the cover. You can let you let loose a few naughty words. Maybe some blood and guts. But the most risqué thing in this issue is our hero in her undies.

Corporate obviously is where the Comics Code shenanigans come from, I wager. In fact, there were many times while going through this issue I could feel some executive drone with White-out making his own edits. The potential for entertainment is here, but Marvel stands in the way.

There is something of a heartbeat here. After this book had been scrubbed with Marvel bleach, Writer Gail Simone is able to breathe some life into the panels. Especially during the latter half of this issue, which is a party for Domino’s birthday. There are some genuinely nice emotions and even Wade Wilson stops by (Coincidence this book came out around the time of Deadpool 2? Nah).

The first half is forgettable. It’s the set up for the series, but it is nothing of substance. It’s an action set piece to familiarize the reader to the world and abilities of Domino. We’re also introduced to a mutant named Adelbert, who is maybe important to upcoming issues.

I’ll continue into issue two with a slice of optimism. I wasn’t initially won over at the beginning, but those few heartbeats in the final pages has me curious enough to check out more.

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That’s it for now, crew. I got some interesting things lined up I think. Recently picked up an interesting haul of discount bin gems that I look forward to reading and sharing with you. Until then…

Also, here is a photo of the Ghost concert I got the privilege to see last week. This was my second time seeing them and it was a hell of a show.

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Uncharted Territory: The Walmart Comic Rack

Posted in Comics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 11/12/2016 by Kevin Entrekin

* Tuesday’s Gone- Metallica “My baby’s gone with the wind” RIP Sophie, my Baby Girl.

***

I hate going to Wal-Mart. There is a suffocating air as soon as you walk in the place. An air that reeks of artificial attitudes and a tension that feels like a brawl could break out for no reason at any moment. Unfortunately, the store is only a two-minute drive from home, so I have to brave the sanctified aisles of the mega cathedral of consumerism to acquire necessities.

While I hurriedly was trying to find the shortest check out line to purchase my sriracha and boxed quinoa, I saw something familiar, yet out-of-place: Comics. Not individual issues mind you, but packs of three relatively recent issues from Marvel and DC. They were inconspicuously stuffed between Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon cards and had a nice round price of a fiver on them. (Edit: this is a more recent photo of the display, where it is now directly marketed as Marvel/DC packs and the Marvel issues are now $10).

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Maybe this isn’t anything new and I’ve just missed it. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, really. It’s a logical business stepping point for the Big Two to start selling books at… well, practically anywhere they can. Like when Piggly Wiggly had a random rack of comics next to a Pog vending machine when I was a kid (90’s kid trigger warning).

These comic packs are water-testers. I wager it won’t be long before people can go to their local mega store for Wednesday pick-ups. Yet another threat the local comic shops will have to weather.

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Let’s dissect the bag I bought: I picked up the more mysterious packaging of the two, the Marvel pack (Which isn’t advertised as a marvel set as you can see from the scan above). It promised the possibilities of “randomly inserted Bronze, Silver, & Modern Age Keys”. A promise I suspected to be hollow and fruitless before ripping the package open.

I was surprised though when I did actually open it up, because I was expecting some stuff from a fifty-cent bin. Instead they were all three relatively recent Marvel issues: Star Wars: Shattered Empire #02, Radioactive Spider-Gwen #01, and Hercules #02. The oldest issues (SW and Gwen) date back to only December 2015 and Hercules is as recent as March 2016.

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  • Radioactive Spider-Gwen #01

I guess this was the “key” (gotta sneak in that insider comic lingo like “keys” to draw in the kiddos) first issue the promotion bubble was talking about.

I love Spider-Gwen. Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez’s creation is one of the best things Marvel (had) came out with in a long time. But, this is the second number one Gwennie received in 2015. The first five issues were disrupted by the marketing series Secret Wars, and after a few months Spider-Gwen “continued” with a new name and first issue.

And even though this is a continuation, a lot of the uniqueness and fun of the original initial issues have been lost. Rodriguez’s art hasn’t changed and Latour’s writing isn’t much different. But the fun is gone, and I think I know who is responsible: Marvel.

Marvel is its own worst enemy when it comes to good series like this, Howard the Duck, and Spider-Woman. Secret Wars was forced into Gwen’s world and had to “start over”. Then only a few issues into Radioactive, Gwen was sidetracked once again with the Spider-Women arch (combining forces with Silk and Spider-Woman). That series was quite fun actually, but still off course. Then they saw that the cream was sweet and made a Gwenpool series, thus trying to milk a cow before it can produce..

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  • Hercules #02

Hercules was the mystery issue in the pack. For starters, I had not heard of it. For a series that came out this year, it went unnoticed on the shelves at my local shop and I had not heard any praise for it. But this was issue two, and a second printing at that apparently. Maybe there was some thing more beyond the Liefeld-esque cover.

There wasn’t, sadly. I secretly wanted this to work and I can see what they were going for: The tarnished hero that must seek redemption. But it doesn’t really work when all I keep coming back to is thinking of Thor. That doesn’t usually matter to me, but the plot itself is predictable and the art forgettable, making the hero himself forgettable.

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  • Star Wars: Shattered Empire #02

Shatter Empire was the most interesting issue, and the far superior read in comparison to Hercules (in comparison to issues I hadn’t read, as I already had read Spider-Gwen).

I don’t remember this 4-part series when it first came out among the slew of almost 20+ Star Wars titles Marvel released to promote The Force Awakens. Before reading I did a little research and learned it was about Poe Dameron’s parents essentially, which put me on edge that it was just a flaming fandom rubbish pile.

But the plot is handled by storied writer Greg Rucka, and it’s a strong plot. Although I had not read the first issue, it was easy to catch up and get involved in the story. It mainly focuses on Poe’s mother Shara Bey, who is an ace rebel pilot assigned to escort Princess Leia on a mission to Naboo, where things go awry.

I think what surprised me more than the good story was the art. The art by Marco Checchetto, Emilio Laiso, and Angel Unzueta is solid and beautifully colored. Especially the fight sequence at the beginning of the issue between AT-ATs and rebel squadrons.

While there are some weak/unnecessary plot like Princess Leia writing condolence letters, this isn’t just a random story thrown together to be a promo for The Force Awakens. Assuming the rest of the series is as strong as this issue, I am intrigued enough to pick up a trade and read the whole series.

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So, let’s break down what you get with this mix bag of comics: You get three comics from Marvel. Considering they are all fairly recent releases, for five dollars (or now it seems ten) you get twelve dollars worth of comics (each book individually cost $3.99). That is a bargain from a technical standpoint. But you have to consider what you’re getting: A mystery pack of issues that aren’t fresh. Yeah, I got a nice surprise with the Shattered Empire issue but still, that issue is for a series that ended a year ago. These are overstock issues comic shops have in discount bins so they can make space.

I see these packs, again, only as market testers. Something chain stores use as a litmus test to see if selling comics is profitable for them. I also see them as underwhelming gifts a family member gets you because “you’re into comics and I saw this while checking out”. Instead, do yourself a favor and venture into a comic shop. Yeah, you’ll have to pay regular price like the rest of the nerds, but at least you get something you want to read. And you’ll also maybe find a whole new community to be apart of.