Wednesday, May 24, 2017

TEX'S BACK-ISSUE QUEST #55 (NINJAS VS. ZOMBIES)


It's time again, fellow QUESTERS!

     It's time to hit y'all with more of that comic-book knowledge that you can't get in any college! Wanna know what's on the menu for today? Well, here's a hint: What happens when you parody three of my FAVORITE film genres (horror, science fiction/fantasy, and martial arts), adding in a lot of cool, low-budget special effects?

    ANSWER:


It's "Ninjas vs. Zombies" #1, featuring the first appearance of a zany team of zombie-slashing, vampire-staking, werewolf-murdering, magical, mayhem-making NINJAS!!!!


     
   I know. You're all like, "WHAAAAAT?!" Right? Who knew such coolness could exist on the face of the Earth? But wait! There's MORE! "Ninjas vs. Zombies" is a comic book adaptation of an independent film by the same name that debuted back in 2008. Written and directed by Justin Timpane, this film is a genre-bending, mixed-up, mashed-up, low-budget funfest that pits seven long-time friends against the diabolical powers of darkness. 

   Longing for the companionship of his dead brother, an amateur wizard uses a cursed book to enact his brother's resurrection. What he didn't see coming is that his brother would return as an evil, soul-eating, zombie-making prince of hell!!! Horrified by what he's done, he seeks help to stop his brother...From the cursed book (of course). The book, taking the form of a prepubescent girl, grants him a little help, just for funsies, by making three of his besties honest-to-goodness, monster-slaying, mystical ninjas!! Here is the trailer:






Crazy, right? Your next question is probably, "Is it any good?" The answer just depends on you. I am a fan of low budget horror films, so, to me, this movie is pretty cool. It's action-packed, over-the-top, campy, cheesy, corny, gory, chop-socki fun - and it NEVER takes itself too seriously. 

"Well, what about the comic?" you might ask. "Is it any good?" Well, my answer would be the same. It follows the movie's storyline pretty well; writer, Thomas Chillemi, really captures the spirit of the film, which, to me makes it loads of fun to read. Artist, Jaime Martinez pulls out the stops with pencils that are good, zany and gory. 

But wait! There's MORE! Publisher, Azure, turned the film into not just one comic, but a SERIES of  comics chock-full of monster-killing madness!


"Ninjas vs Zombies" #2




"Ninjas vs Zombies" #3



"Ninjas vs Zombies" #4

But WAIT!! There's STILL MORE! Since the film won critical acclaim from horror fans, Justin Timpane followed it up with two successful sequels: Ninjas vs Vampires and Ninjas vs Monsters. Each one is better than the last.  On to the FUN FACTS!!

FUN FACT 1 - At issue #5, the comic series became "Ninjas vs Werewolves," which did not correspond with the title of any of the films.

FUN FACT 2 - Yep. You knew that I had copies of "Ninjas vs. Werewolves" didn't cha?


Here's my copy of issue #5, fully loaded with autographs by the writer of the comic, Thomas Chillemi, the creator (film producer and director), Justin Timpane, and cast members, Daniel Ross, Cory and Carla Okouchi, Daniel Mascarello, P.J. Megaw, and Dan Guy.



And finally, here is "Ninjas vs Werewolves" #6.


FUN FACT 3 - Ninjas vs Zombies debuted on Halloween of 2008, at the Tally Ho Theatre in Leesburg, VA, a theater whose history reaches back more than 85 years. 

FUN FACT 4 - At 2009's Indie Fest, Ninjas vs Zombies won an Award of Merit: Feature Film. 

FUN FACT 5 - You can watch all three films on Amazon Prime! Here is the website for the film: http://www.nvzmovie.com

    That's all for today folks!!! Happy monster-hunting to you!!

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

TEX'S BACK-ISSUE QUEST EPISODE #54 Part 2 (Místico)



Hello fellow Questers!!!

    Long-time no talk! I promise that I'll be back soon with more comic-book knowledge that you can't get in any college, but real life is cranked up to 10+ right now! I see that my article on the Mexican wrestler, Místico, has gotten PLENTY of love! Thank you all. As we get to know each other more, I'll reveal more gems of my private collection, including my RARE luchador first issues. I love lucha libre so much.

   Lucha libre is, in most cases, a beautiful sport filled with creative, artistic athletes wearing amazing outfits who give you all they can, their very best, when they step out onto the squared circle (the wrestling canvas). My favorites are the high-flyers who also use that exciting, high-energy, quick hold-and-counter-hold style (catch as catch can). With their legendary athleticism, willingness to risk their lives to please the spectators, their over-the-top portrayal of characters enacting stories in the ring (good vs. evil, rich vs. poor, light vs. dark, etc.), and their skillfully-crafted ring attire, which often includes a mask that hides the face of the mysterious hero or villain, it is no wonder that luchadors grew to be the stuff of legend in Mexico with the obvious parallels to American comic book heroes and villains who came of age right around the time that the masked luchador really took off (the late 1930s, early 1940s).

    Watching good lucha libre is, to me, like watching a comic book come to life before my very eyes. So, without further ado, I found some more of my Místico comics with those GREAT, classic Mexican painted covers!



"Místico: The Prince of Silver and Gold" #4, From the Orphange to Pankration. In this story, we are given the fictitious origin of the orphan that would one day become one of lucha libre's greatest luchadors!!


"Místico: The Prince of Silver and Gold" #9, The Attack of the Old Lady Killer. In this episode, Místico must stop a crazed killer that is bent of murdering elderly women...A killer using a replica of Místico's own mask!


"Místico: The Prince of Silver and Gold" #10, The Sacrilegious Impostor. In this story, Místico comes face to face with darkness in the form of a deranged killer who wants to destroy Místico, all that he stands for, and all that is holy. 


"Místico: The Prince of Silver and Gold" #18, Evil Incarnate. To save a beautiful girl, Místico must take on a powerful demon!



"Místico: The Prince of Silver and Gold" #19, Super-Luchador and Superhero. This story is a continuation of the dark story begun in #18. This cool cover is obviously an homage to Spider-Man's iconic upside-down kiss with Mary Jane Watson in 2002's blockbuster hit film, "Spider-Man." Check it out:



On to the fun fact!!

FUN FACT 1 - On the cover of #19, in the background, you can see The Angel of Independence (El Ángel o Monumento a la Independencia) which is a monument done by artist, Antonio Rivas Mercado, during the presidency of Porfirio Díaz to commemorate the centennial of the beginning of Mexico's War of Independence on September 16, 1810 (see SUPPLEMENTAL FACT). The Angel of Independence is located in Mexico City, the capital of Mexico, on a roundabout on the Paseo de la Reforma.

SUPPLEMENTAL FUN FACT: Mexican Independence Day is September 16, not the 5th of May (Cinco de mayo). El Cinco de mayo celebrates the Mexican victory over the French at Puebla in 1862. France invaded Mexico in 1861 to recover a debt, but they also had designs on taking Mexico, and later marching to aid the Confederacy in the United States. Thanks to the Mexican victory at Puebla, the French army never reached the Confederacy, and the victory of the Union forces was secured. If the brave Mexicans had not defeated the French at Puebla, the United States might have become a very different place. 

And now you know. ;-)

Well, that's all folks!! Thanks for joining me! I will leave you with some highlights of a great lucha libre match: Prince Puma vs. Rey Misterio!! ENJOY!!!




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Sunday, April 30, 2017

TEX'S BACK-ISSUE QUEST EPISODE #54 (Místico)




Hey! Hey! Hey!!!

    Twice in one week! It must be Christmas in April! Nah. I just had a bit of extra time this week and I have missed spending time with my fellow QUESTERS, so, I figured that I'd do it one more time just to blow your minds! 


    Last time we traveled to Nigeria in lovely Africa, now we return to the East, and head south of the border, down Mexico way!!


   Here, we have "Místico: El Príncipe de Plata y Oro" #1, featuring the first appearance of the storied Mexican luchador (professional wrestler), Místico, in comics!! In English, the title translates to "Mystic: Prince of Silver and Gold." Beginning with the legendary Santo, Mexico has a long tradition of turning their greatest luchadors into superheroes in comic books and films - as a lucha libre (Mexican pro-wrestling) aficionado, it is a tradition that I greatly enjoy.
















 

   Místico's true name is Luis Ignacio Urive Alvirde, and he has been wrestling for nearly twenty years. He comes from a family fully immersed in lucha libre: his father, brothers and even one of his cousins are all luchadors. While his real life is very interesting, his kayfabe (staged, fictional) origin story is pretty awesome. It all starts with the VERY TRUE story of this man:


Photo courtesy of The Mex Files

   Pictured above is a luchador named Fray Tormenta, which translates to Friar Storm. His real name is Sergio Gutiérrez Benítez, a one-time alcoholic and drug addict who, through finding faith in God, was not only able to kick his self-destructive habits, but he also became a philosopher, university professor, and priest, teaching and sharing his faith in Rome, Spain, and Mexico. Later, he founded an orphanage in Mexcio, and finding that he got insufficient support from the Catholic Church, Fray Tormenta worked as a luchador in order to provide for the children in his orphanage, feeding, clothing, and raising over 250 children by subjecting his body to the brutality of lucha libre night after night for over twenty-three years. Jack Black's comedy classic, Nacho Libre, was inspired by Fray Tormenta's story. 

  So what does Místico's kayfabe origin have to do with Fray Tormenta's real-life story? Well, Místico's character is a based in religion, so he was billed as being one of the orphans that Fray Tormenta raised. It worked like a charm, and because of the religious undertones of his character, his link to a beloved and respected luchador, and his high-risk, high-flying, high-skill maneuvers in the wrestling ring, Místico soon became one of the most beloved luchadors in the last thirty years. His character began to take on mythic proportions, and soon, he joined the ranks of the best luchadors in the pages of Mexican comic books! Being that Místico's character has such a strong base in religion, it's only right that he take on malevolent, supernatural threats as a superhero. And that's just what he does:

"Místico: El Príncipe de Plata y Oro" #2


"Místico: El Príncipe de Plata y Oro" #3


   These fun, but dark stories highlight faith, hard work, sacrifice, courage, honor, and loyalty. Not to mention, that the interior art is cool, but the classic Mexican painted comic covers are MIND-BLOWING. WOW!

On to the fun facts!!

FUN FACT 1: Each comic comes with a cool poster of Místico on the back:





FUN FACT 2 - Místico was recruited by the WWE several years ago and made his debut as the high-flying, rapid-fire first Sin Cara: 



FUN FACT 3 - Eventually, Místico left WWE and returned to Mexico, leaving another wrestler to play the role of Sin Cara. However, when he returned to Mexico, he could no longer be Místico, as his outfit and name were given to another talented wrestler, Místico II, who still plays the role until now. Místico I, first took the name, Mysteziz, but upon leaving the Mexican wrestling federation AAA, he returned home to CMLL, and took the name Carístico. 

   Well, that's it for today. I think I'll leave you with a cool little highlight reel of some of Místico's greatest matches:




Happy Trails, pardners!!


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Saturday, April 29, 2017

TEX'S BACK-ISSUE QUEST EPISODE #53 (Powerman / Powerbolt)





Howdy fellow QUESTERS!!

     It's me, good ol' TEX, coming to fill you heads with that groovy comic book knowledge that you can't get in any college!

     So without any further ado, TEX'll spin the globe, and head to AFRICA just for you!!

   It's "Power Comics" #1, published in partnership by Eclipse and Acme Press in 1988. "Power Comics" #1 features the Nigerian superhero, Powerbolt, as he fights for truth and justice. He takes on dinosaurs, robots, evil land developers, giants, the Snake King, and his arch-nemesis, Dr. Crime, all to keep the citizens safe, and free from harm. No job is too big, no villain too tough for POWERBOLT!!

   But wait. There's more. You see, Powerbolt was originally called Powerman. Back in 1975, a Nigerian advertising agency called Pikin partnered with British art agency, Bardon Press Features, to create a black African superhero to help fight illiteracy in Nigeria. In the past, Africa's comics were populated by white superheroes and white protagonists. This new black hero's stories would be published bi-weekly and feature simple superhero stories of derring-do promoting public safety and morality. The result was a comics magazine entitled, "Powerman" with a protagonist of the same name, endowed with super-strength, the ability to fly...And make the ladies swoon. The series was helmed by writers Don Avenall and Norman Worker, along with two artists who would one day become legends: Dave Gibbons and Brian Bolland. The comic ran for two years, dropping from seeing print bi-weekly to monthly in 1977, then finally disappearing from print altogether - but not from the minds and hearts of comics fans. On to the fun facts!!

FUN FACT 1 - "Powerman" was Brian Bolland's first professional comics work.

FUN FACT 2 - In 1988, Acme Press reprinted "Powerman" as a four-issue limited series called "Power Comics" in order to capitalize on the fame the both Gibbons and Bolland had realized since their obscure early days working on this series. Eclipse distributed it in the USA.

FUN FACT 3 - Powerman only has one weakness: snakebites. And no, I am not kidding. Why? Simple. Snakebites occur often in Nigeria. It was easily relatable to the populace.

FUN FACT 4 - Gibbons advocated for African writers and artist to work on the strip, but was told that due the fact that the comic book wasn't yet popular in Africa, there wasn't much talent available to make use of.

FUN FACT 5 - Gibbons and Bolland had to have a crash course in Nigerian culture because some of the visual cues that worked for the British and American eye had different meanings to the Nigerian eye. For example, where we might see a huge belly as a sign of laziness, greed or sloth, Gibbons and Bolland were told that in Nigeria, it signified wealth, power and success.

FUN FACT 6 - Powerman's name was changed to Powerbolt to avoid confusion with the American Marvel superhero, Luke Cage.

FUN FACT 7 - The original series, "Powerman," had a  back-up story about a black lawman named, Jango.

FUN FACT 7: I own every issue of the four-issue limited series, but I have never been able to find "Powerman" #1 because it's distribution was limited to Nigeria only in 1975. I sure would love to have one. Here are the other issue. Enjoy the great covers by Bolland and Gibbons!



"Power Comics" Issue #2





"Power Comics" Issue #3

and





"Power Comics" Issue #4


    You won't find earth-shattering, complex stories in the pages of these books, but you will find pure, simple superhero fun, with a glimpse into the inner-workings of another culture and place. 100% Coolness. 

HAPPY TRAILS, PARDNERS!!


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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Extremity #1 Review



"Extremity" #1 from Image Comics -

      The Roto are beaten, but unbroken. Thea is the daughter of the Abba (leader), the mighty Jerome. Before the vile Paznina people attacked, she was her clan's greatest artist. Her hand could translate onto paper whatever her mind could imagine. Now, after the merciless Paznina raid, her hand is gone, and her imagination only brings her images of the horror of that fateful and day...And images of her coming day of vengeance. Under the watchful eye and fearful leadership of Jerome, the Roto have hatched a brutal plan to take revenge upon the Paznina, and it all hinges upon Thea's courage and thirst for blood. They killed her mother. They took her hand. They took her ability to create art, to express the inner beauty of her soul. They raped her people. If Thea gets her way, Paznina blood will flow - rivers of it.

      Daniel Warren Johnson pulls triple duty (creator, writer, artist) on this post-apocalyptic sci-fi- gore-fest, "Extremity" #1. In "Extremity," Johnson is doing what all great artists do, exploring his deepest fears through his art, and examining some tough and very interesting questions. The title, "Extremity" not only alludes to the part of the body that Thea has lost, but it also foreshadows to the lengths that she will go to in order to recover her personal power, to reclaim that which was taken from her, to restore a perceived balance that the Paznina destroyed when they killed her mother and took her hand. Like Johnson, the protagonist, Thea, is an amazing artist. Johnson explores his fears of losing that part of his identity through Thea's loss of her hand, and he creates a world in which his fear can grow into an anger, a thirst for vengeance that forms a huge part of Thea's character. And in Johnson's world, someone is responsible for Thea's/Johnson's loss - there is someone who has to pay. What happens when someone loses that which is a defining part of their identity? They become someone, or something else. We associate artists with beauty, liberality - in our society, if we are honest, we associate creativity with sensitivity, softness, what we perceive to be the feminine side of our human nature. When Thea's hand is taken, a part of her dies, and she takes on a new identity, one with very few of those artistic, feminine attributes. It seems that Johnson is posing the question, "Is our identity intrinsic, or is it shaped by environmental causes?" - nature vs. nurture. How can Thea restore balance through vengeance? After all is said and done, she will never have her hand, nor her mother, ever again. Can the void inside Thea be filled with retribution? I cannot wait to see how Johnson handles these questions. Besides this, Johnson's art is amazing - his pencils have shades of the intricacy of Moebius' and Darrow's. Every panel is maximized, busy, full and totally dynamic. Every character is distinct, every face is expressive, every bit of battle is superbly, gorily and explosively rendered. In short, Johnson' got skills. REAL skills. Extremity" is a winner. I dig it.

RATING: 9.5 out of 10. Love it.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

I.T. - The Secret World of Modern Banking #1 Review





"I.T." #1 from BlackBox Comics

    Evan Adonis is one of the top young I.T. and Operations experts that no one's ever heard of. Evan spends his days protecting the fat cats that run People's Trust Bank of N.Y.. He's so good, so fast, and so dedicated that he's earned the playful name, "Red Eye," because he's always on the move and barely has time to sleep. But while Evan burns his life away stopping malevolent malware from hijacking the bank's servers, his boss steals all the credit, and poor Evan gets to be the butt of everyone's jokes. But, maybe that is all about to change. When a top National Security Agency I.T. Specialist is murdered in a botched black ops mission at the United Nations Headquarters, Evan might just hear his nation's call of duty...If his shady bosses don't get Evan killed first. You see, Evan's bosses are in bed with one of the most dangerous crime families in America and poor Evan just got caught with his ear at the wrong door. Welcome to the secret, corrupt and often DEADLY world of modern banking. 

   Created by Dimitrios Zaharakis, "I.T." is a fast-paced, action-packed, tension-filled adventure/intrigue story written and penciled by DC Comics veteran, Scott McDaniel. ".I.T." is captivating right from the first page, giving the reader a glimpse of the darker world of international banking, and the dangers that face the I.T. experts that protect the banks, highlighting the constant threat of hackers trying to breach the banks' firewalls for their own purposes...Or for the purposes of those who hired them. Banking is all about competition and the competition is RUTHLESS, playing out both in the real world and in cyberspace. Evan Adonis is the perfect protagonist: loyal, put-upon, unappreciated, hard-working, a real wizard with a computer, and an absolute ingenue. That is a recipe for disaster, especially when the fat cats he's protecting have no interest in protecting him. I really liked Evan as a person - he was so well written that I cared about him, which is a big reason why I'm signing up for this series. I'd like to continue this dangerous journey along with Evan Adonis - I'll be rooting for him. Scott McDaniel is in top form here - he is a master at penciling action, the designs for his characters are distinct, and the busyness of his panels make this book a classicly fun comic to enjoy. I don't know where BlackBox Comics came from, but if they keep cranking out great stuff like this, one thing is for sure: BlackBox will be here to stay. 

RATING: 10 out of 10. "I.T." is fascinating, has a great protagonist, and is a LOT of fun. This comic is perfect for translation to the big or small screen. 

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Street Tiger #1 Review



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"Street Tiger" #1 from Amigo -


       You gotta be tough to survive in Nam City. Tough as nails. The city is plagued by crime, organized and otherwise, along with an unhealthy dose of corruption. Lately, however, someone has been evening the odds. Some of the city's lowest lowlifes have been turning up dead. Way dead. As in, brutalized beyond belief. Who, or what is bringing Nam City's crime problem to its knees, one smashed-head at a time? There' a whisper, a rumor of a lone, vicious vigilante wearing a leather jacket with the image of a tiger emblazoned on the back...


    Ertito Montana is a one-man gang, creating, writing and doing all the artistic duties in this violent crime-thriller, "Street Tiger." "Street Tiger" is a hodge-podge of a genre-bender: it is all at once a hard-boiled crime thriller, a mystery and an homage to the gory grindhouse films of yesteryear and those cool Hong Kong-made action films of the 1970s and 80s. So far, we know more about the bad guys that are trying to kill him (?), and the cops that are trying to stop him (?) than we know about the protagonist. All we know is that this vigilante is a one-person wrecking crew, with a tongue for tough-talk and a love for bashing in heads with his baseball bat...Negan-style. Actually, gun, bat or fists, it's all in a day's work for this heartless vigilante. While the premise is scintillating, the execution is about as lackluster as it can get. Heavy on the dialogue, which at times seems to be talking for the sake of talking, "Street Tiger" wastes a lot of space in the calm before the storm, using long set ups to accentuate the sudden and brutal violence. It's a strategy that Tarantino likes to use a lot in his films; however, in the comics medium, it's got to be done just right, or it becomes a bit boring. And "Street Tiger" #1 has a lot of lag time before the action pops off exactly twice in the book, but when the action starts, Ertito does indeed turn up the violence volume to "11." I wish that were all, but the art is VERY quirky. Ertito walks the line between amateurish and bizarre...It's an interesting technique that the eye both rejects and enjoys at the same time. While Amigo, headed up by the VERY gifted, El Torres, is an up and coming company that has given us a string of GREAT comics so far, unfortunately, "Street Tiger" doesn't look to be one of them.

RATING: 5.5 out of 10.

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