Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Silencer #1 Review




The Silencer, from DC Comics -

      Honor Guest seems to be an unassuming, pretty, blonde, suburbanite mom living the middle-class American dream. The cute, well-behaved kid, the doting real-estate agent husband who knows his way around a kitchen, the spacious, but practical home, two nice cars...Yes, Honor seems to have it all. It's the life she's always dreamed of - and she's in danger of losing it all. You see, Honor has a past. It's a past soaked in pain, in power, and in murder and blood. And it's come looking for Honor, and the ones that she holds most dear. No, Honor is not at all what she seems to be - she is much more; and, much more vicious and capable than her loved ones could ever dream. Honor just wants her life to be filled with the peace that she's enjoyed for the last half-decade, but no one can stop what's coming...Not even her mentor and friend, The Daughter of The Demon, Talia Al-Ghul. Hell is barreling down upon them both - and Honor is the only one standing between her family and total annihilation. Pretty, blonde, suburbanite mom, Honor Guest, must go back into the box, and The Silencer, one of the world's most deadly assassins, has to come out to play one more time. And The Silencer ALWAYS plays to win.


    Dan Abnett is back (without Andy Lanning, sadly), to pen this high-octane actioner...The Silencer! Abnett is on point, crafting a first issue that gives us just enough information to suck us into this mysterious protagonist's world.  I actually cared about her and I sympathized with her plight and motivations, while at the same time I clamored hungrily for more about her past, and wanted to see her engaged in more insane, brutal action. Honor Guest is very interesting and a whole lot of fun on the page - she's a deadly killer who is also a loving wife and mother. It's an uncomfortable juxtaposition of tenderness and a capacity for extreme brutality - a juxtaposition of what some might associate with the masculine (aggressive) and feminine (nurturing) natures. I find it quite fascinating, even though it is a trope that has been explored before in films like Geena Davis' and Samuel L. Jackson's "The Long Kiss Goodnight." I look forward to seeing how the killers from Honor's past affect her life, what she loses, and what she can salvage - as well, as exploring her past and her connection with Talia Al-Ghul even more. Even though I am not a fan of John Romita, Jr.'s art, he does a stellar job here, giving The Silencer #1 a layout that has a feel that I can only describe as cinematic in its style and execution. I could see The Silencer used as a standalone DC film, or maybe even as a part of The Suicide Squad. Who knows? Whatever the case, Dan Abnett and Romita, Jr. have created a new and fascinating character that I want to watch develop and evolve. The Silencer #1 is worth every penny of its cover price - we may be looking at a whole new take on Marvel's Punisher. Recommended.

RATING: 9 out of 10.


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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Sideways #1 Review



Sideways #1 from DC Comics - 

    Derek James is a high-school sophomore with a secret. He and his mother were in Gotham at ground zero when a huge mountain emanating a strange energy fell from a rift in the sky and nearly split the city in two. In that moment, Derek fell through a tear in the Earth, falling, spiraling, hurtling into an unknown place where he was bathed in the mountain's energy until he finally fell back on Earth. Now, Derek can create small rifts in space-time and go anywhere he wants. With the help of his friend and fellow social outcast, Ernestine, Derek has gotten himself a cool new disguise and is ready to go from social outcast to superhero super-stardom on the internet. But Derek's precious plans come to a crashing halt when a hulking alien shows up to inform Derek that he is a threat to the universe's existence and for that, he has been...SENTENCED TO DEATH!!

    Dan DiDio and Justin Jordan pen this fun, classic superhero origin story, Sideways #1. DiDio and Jordan don't waste any time and get right to it - the very first time that we even see Derek, our protagonist, he's already in his superhero costume. From there, in the short 20 pages of this comic (plagued by way too many ads), we are introduced to our guy's backstory, his superhero origin story, his family, his (small) social circle, the challenges of his everyday life, and what just may turn out to be his arch-nemesis, or not. Who knows? The point is that DiDio and Jordan made a herculean and very effective effort to make this character really interesting, and very likable, rather quickly. Derek is an adopted kid with doting parents who is just trying to figure life out and get through another day. His superpowers have hit him unexpectedly and given him the opportunity to actually feel like he matters. Of course, he's trying to be a social media juggernaut, and course, he'd choose to use a mask - he loves his parents and he'd never want any harm to come to them, nor to his bestie, Ernestine. The world may see a bit of a slacker and a bit of carelessness in Derek, but I see a kid who just wants to matter and take care of those he loves. He just hasn't figured it all out yet. I dig that. I remember being that kid. Kenneth Rocafort lays down some pretty sketchy, kinetic work that is well complemented by Daniel Brown's vivid colors. Rocafort's design for Sideways is a bit Spider-Man-y, which is not off-putting, but rather intriguing. Will this kid be the DCU's answer to Spider-Man? Could be. I wouldn't mind that. All in all, Sideways #1 was a fun, fast, read that captured and held my attention and sparked my imagination. I was annoyed when I got to the last page; I wanted more. And that's how I know that this book has serious potential. Looks like Sideways will be opening a new rift...One that leads right to my pull-list.

RATING: 9 out 10.


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Sunday, May 6, 2018

Full Black Panther Interview With Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ryan Coogler



Read what happens when Marvel does something magical.

    MC gathers two juggernaut creatives together in the same room for a fun, and very enlightening interview: luminary and author, Ta-Nehisi Coates, who is currently penning Marvel's hit comics series, Black Panther (vol 6), and Captain America, and the brilliant Ryan Coogler, screenwriter, producer and director responsible for the hit film, "Creed," and of course, Marvel's own blockbuster film, "Black Panther"!!

   Here is the interview, scanned in its entirety, from Black Panther (vol 6), #170. You're welcome. Enlarge and ENJOY!!



    





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Damage #1 Review




Damage #1 from DC Comics -

   A soldier, Ethan, has been subjected to a dangerous experiment to turn him into the ultimate weapon for the U.S. Army; however, since the weapon is a man, it is, of course, a bit unpredictable. Ethan joined the Army to become a soldier, to serve his country - but Damage, the hulking, inhuman, nearly indestructible wrecking machine that he becomes has an agenda of his own: he wants to be free, whether Ethan agrees or not. Damage has overpowered Ethan's control, broken free, and has hurtled himself into Atlanta, Georgia, a densely populated American city, and begun wreaking untold havoc on anything that stands in his way. The only thing that's restraining him is Ethan's embattled psyche - but once the shadowy military unit that thinks it owns Damage comes trying to put Damage down, Ethan's moral code may not be enough to stop the bodies from hitting the floor...And things will only get worse when Amanda Waller shows up with her psycho-filled Suicide Squad!

   Robert Venditti pens this Hulk-like tale of DC Universe destruction! And it is a doozy! The action cranks up to "11" pretty quickly as Damage busts out of Ethan, and military control, and hurtles himself full speed into Atlanta, Ga. Even the award-winning Atlanta trauma hospital, Grady, gets a mention in the book! I dig those real-world elements. Even though the soldier-turned-monster-by-military-experiment schtick is a stale one, I enjoyed the idea of each one of these entities trapped inside the body of the other, actively trying to impose their will one upon the other, until metamorphosis occurs, giving either one or the other more control temporarily. The constant power struggle will exhaust them both in some way, and it will definitely serve to bring lots of drama into the pages of Damage. That is a good thing. Drama is necessary when dealing with beings this powerful in comics, and it takes great writers to be able to create drama and execute it on the page with the help of great artists. And this book does have a great artist, Tony S. Daniel, who does it real big here with powerful spreads, epic explosions, insane fight scenes, and busy panels. Daniels took his WOW! pills before letting his pencils loose on this book. Besides all this, Damage seems to have a crazy, jealous nemesis in one Major Liggett who has a real mad-on for Ethan because he feels he should have been Damage. And there's the mysterious Colonel Jonas who, unlike Waller, seems a bit torn between human decency, the dirt she has to do to protect her country and her loyalty to her soldiers (including Ethan). However, with all its great parts - the art, the man vs. monster dilemma, drama, and an interesting supporting cast, the story does have some issues. We know next to nothing about Ethan, Damage, or any of the supporting cast. There is no back-story, no reason for Damage's rage, nothing about the shadowy military unit Ethan's attached to, nothing on Damage's origin, nor Ethan's - just escape and all-out action. As much as Damage interests me, this first story does at times feel like a bunch of sound and fury signifying a whole lotta nothing. I find no real emotional connection to any of the characters. Hopefully, that changes. Hopefully, Damage becomes an integral part of DC's New Age of Heroes, and more than just a Hulk clone in a team that ends up resembling Marvel's Avengers - because THAT would be WAY beyond unfortunate...And just a bit pathetic.

RATING: 7 out of 10, with an added .5 for potential awesomeness.

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

TEX'S BACK-ISSUE QUEST EPISODE 66 (PRINCE)



Howdy, fellow Questers!!

    Welcome back to a very special episode of TEX'S Back-Issue Quest, where you can find all that comic book knowledge that you can't get in any college!

    Today marks the second anniversary of the death of one of the GREATEST, most prolific musicians to ever walk the planet: Prince Rogers Nelson, better known to the world as...PRINCE!! The perspicacious pop star from Minneapolis, MN., burst onto the music scene in the late 70s with his sensual showmanship and a profound musical genius that guided him in creating a new sound - a new sound that drew inspiration from diverse genres of music like R&B, Funk, Soul, New Wave, and Rock. The multi-platinum artist was an extremely gifted music writer, producer, singer, and performer, who was known to be able to play several instruments with amazing skill. He earned great success with legendary hits like "When Doves Cry," "I Wanna Be Your Lover," "Batdance," "Cream," and the incomparable "Purple Rain" - a song which thrust Prince into a new level of stardom after being featured on his hit film of the same title, released in 1984.

    Sadly, the genius that was Prince passed away on April 21, 2017, at the young age of 57. It's lucky for us that he blessed us with musical and cinematic works that will make him live on in our hearts. Oh, and there are a few comic books that featured The Purple One as well. Today, we'll talk about this one:




    Feast your hungry eyes on my copy of Prince and The New Power Generation: Three Chains of Gold from Piranha Music! In this comic, Prince and the NPG are on tour in a fictional Middle Eastern country when the beautiful princess, Mayte, takes an intimate interest in The Purple One. But before Prince has the chance to make ALL her doves cry, the princess' father is murdered by his own power-hungry brother who then sets his eye on Princess Mayte as he looks to possess the Three Chains of Gold, the symbol of absolute rulership of the country. However, unbeknownst to her evil uncle, Mayte has given her chain to Prince who is safe and sound at his home, Paisley Park, in Minneapolis. Or is he?

   Not at all.

   Soon, the Purple One and The NPG will have to face blood-thirsty assassins, rescue an alluring princess from the clutches of her murderous uncle, and save an entire country from total ruin. I guess it's just a day in the life the mighty musician from Minneapolis!

   Fabled comic book writer, Dwayne McDuffie, absolutely killed it on the writing on this story! Sure, it's a story about a superstar-turned-superhero, but McDuffie keeps the cheesiness to a minimum, the action to a maximum, and the humor set nicely on "stun." I don't know if McDuffie actually met Prince, or just used what he saw of him in movies, interviews, and music videos, but he really makes Prince's personality larger-than-life, extremely lovable, and a bit naughty - just as one might expect from the supremely talented, super-sexy, diminutive Don Juan:



I like to refer to this as the "Lake Minnetonka Moment" (Purple Rain fans will get it). 



Here, Prince gets down to butt-kicking business, with a bit of humor as a chaser.



Oh, Prince! You Sexy MF!

    Three artists put some heat on their pencils and made this comic smoke: David Williams, Deryl Skelton, and Steve Carr! 




    The representation of Prince in the latter is simply amazing...And a bit haunting. 


    If you're a fan of The Purple One, whether you're into comic books or not, you should probably have Prince and The New Power Generation: Three Chains of Gold in your collection of Prince memorabilia. It's a fun read, a real collector's item, and a great way to drift off down Memory Lane with one of the greatest music artists to ever grace the stage: the artist FOREVER known as...PRINCE!!!! On to the Fun Facts!!

FUN FACT 1 - Prince and The New Power Generation: Three Chains of Gold accompanied Prince's 1994 direct-to-video movie, "3 Chains O' Gold," featuring songs from Prince's "Love Symbol Album." While I don't have access to the film, I can hook you up with the music videos on YouTube: Love Symbol Album.

FUN FACT 2 - Writer, Dwayne McDuffie, was one of the most prolific and respected African American comic book creators of all time. Sadly, he passed away in 2011, several years before Prince. McDuffie co-created The Dakotaverse, and such amazing characters as Static, and Icon, wrote legendary runs for comic book several characters and groups, like The Justice League, and Deathlok, and branched out into writing, story editing, and production of TV shows like Ben 10, Static Shock, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited. McDuffie also wrote several films in the DC Animated Universe, including "Justice League: Doom," and "All-Star Superman."

FUN FACT 3 - Kirstie Alley appears in both the film and the comic as snoopy, dauntless reporter, Vanessa Bartholemew.

FUN FACT 4 - The Middle Eastern princess, Mayte, was portrayed by Mayte Garcia in the film (and her likeness was used in the comic). She is actually an American actress, dancer and singer of Puerto Rican ancestry. Eventually, she would marry Prince, and bear his only child, Amir, who passed away just six short days after his birth.

    I hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it. Prince was absolutely one of my favorite music artists of all time, and it was a bittersweet honor to take a bit of time to remember him today. May he rest in eternal peace. Thanks for visiting! Here is a little something to take you on home:




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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Pull List Potpourri April 15, 2018



It's TEX!!

   Back again with another rousing episode of...PULL LIST POTPOURRI!!

   Don't you just love comics? I do. Very much. Unfortunately, I can't buy them all, but I can share with you a few standouts from my pull list that really get my motor running - or not. Let's start with not:

1. Normandy Gold #5 - Normandy Gold is a hard-nosed sheriff from a rural town who has been barreling through corruption on the mean streets of 1970s Washington, D.C. - from pimps to pushers to politicians, Normandy's been kicking the hornet's nest trying to smoke out those responsible for the murder of her younger sister. But now, Normandy just may have gone from being the hunter to becoming the prey when she finds that the men behind the death of her sister, a high-priced escort, are far more powerful and connected than she ever could have dreamed. Will Normandy get with the program and stay alive, or try to burn it all down for the sake of justice?

   I was really looking forward to an earth-shattering finale from this series. Since issue #1, Megan Abbott and Allison Gaylin have written a tight, gripping, and gritty revenge story full of interesting characters with an explosive protagonist reminiscent of the popular female heroes of the bygone blaxploitation age. Abbott and Gaylin wrap it all up in a nice, neat, but unsatisfying package in issue #5 that is just painful, quite frankly. The final issue has little action, and an antagonist who was way too easy to kill - this series embodies the proverbial bang and whimper. 

RATING: 6 out of 10.

2. Spider-Man (vol 1) #237-239 - Miles Morales is really having a tough go of it. His mom has found out his secret and isn't talking to him or his father, he's developing new powers, the loose-lipped Ganke may have just revealed his secret identity to the wrong person, and a mystery man known as Cable wants Miles to work for him in some sort of international spy group. Well, it's really about to hit the fan. Someone new is wearing the Iron Spider armor, and he's gathered a group of baddies (Sandman, Hobgoblin, The Spot, Ceres, and Bombshell) to perform the heist of the century - a drydocked S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier! Worst of all, this new Iron Spider knows Miles, and his family, intimately. If Miles tries to stop him, it could spell doom for him and everyone he loves. 

   Brian Michael Bendis is in great form in his work on this book. He has made Miles one of the most dramatic and interesting characters in Marvel's line-up, and he is quite possibly looking to move Miles out of Spidey's shadow into a different line of adventures. How will Miles react when he realizes that his most trusted friend just might not be so trustworthy? And just wait until you see who is under the mask of the Iron Spider! I see a big painful shake-up coming in Miles' future, a world where he may have to leave behind his childhood and everything he loves. Oscar Bazaldua's art is clean, precise, and uncomplicated - just the right balance between serious and cartoony. Great series. Too bad Bendis has signed an exclusive contract with DC. I wonder how the series will play out without him. 

RATING: 8 out of 10

3. The Falcon (vol 2) - Sam Wilson is really on the ropes. He watched his best friend, mentor, and brother, Steve Rogers take over the world as a Hydra agent, he suffered hatred and was reviled as Captain America,  he broke up with the love of his life, Misty Knight, and he's trying to regain his identity as Sam Wilson and as The Falcon. Oh, and the supernatural mayhem-maker, Blackheart, has just ripped Sam's soul from his body and cast it into Hell where it's being held prisoner by none other than Mephisto himself. Sam Wilson just can't catch a break. Somehow, Sam must find a way to claw his way out of hell and stop Blackheart from consuming the world, starting with Chicago, which Blackheart has turned into a powderkeg of violence and unrest using a supernatural artifact, and the already preexisting social tensions. In order to face down Mephisto and Blackheart, Sam Wilson will first have to face down the worst parts of himself. Lucky for him, Doctor Voodoo, The Patriot, and Joaquin (former Falcon) have his back...As well as a new player who just happens to be the half-human spawn of the devil himself. 

 Oh, by the way...Here come the vampires!! YES!!!

    Rodney Barnes is writing Sam Wilson like he's never been written before, putting Sam in some deep waters that I just didn't think he'd be equipped to face. Barnes has got Sam doing a bunch of soul-searching, stepping out to face the unknown, and facing down supernatural threats way out of his league. AND IT WORKS! Sam Wilson is doing great battling the supernatural, and it's attracted a great cast of young heroes in Patriot and Joaquin, as well as staunch supernatural allies like Doctor Voodoo, and the new guy (who shall not be named - no spoilers!). I never thought someone could put the Falcon - not Sam Wilson as Captain America, but THE FALCON - in the limelight and make him shine so brightly. Jay Anacleto and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. are bringing hot fire to these AMAZING covers, while Joshua Cassara is rocking the moody, action-packed, REALLY busy pencils on the interiors. Barnes' Falcon brings the social commentary, psychological thrills, and the supernatural chills that put this book at the top of my superhero pull list. 

RATING 10 out of 10. 

    Thanks for reading!!


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Friday, April 6, 2018

Terrifics #1 and #2 Review




The Terrifics from DC Comics -


     Mr. Terrific, AKA Multi-billionaire, Michael Holt, is one of the smartest humans who has ever existed. His brilliance has driven him to be not only one of the world's greatest tech wizards, but it has motivated him to push himself in every area of his life: he is an Olympic Gold Medalist, master of several martial arts disciplines and languages, a daring costumed adventurer, and a wildly successful tech giant. Well, he was a wildly successful tech giant, until he went on a multi-dimensional crusade to save the universe. He's returned to find that the villainous scientist, Simon Stagg, has taken over his corporation and opened a door to a dark universe that threatens to destroy our own - and, of course, Stagg has no idea how to close it. Mr. Terrific has to embark on a journey so perilous that even he won't be able to make it all alone (even though he'd like to think so). Enter the shape-shifting, elemental powerhouse, Metamorpho, who himself has fallen victim to Stagg's diabolical plans; Plastic Man, the endlessly pliable, stretchable, and durable shape-shifting wizard, and ex-criminal turned hero; and Linnya Wazzo, denizen of the planet, BGZTL, where everyone has the power to phase through matter in phantom-like forms. These four terrific travelers will soon be thrust into a dangerous struggle for their lives, and their universe, when they stumble across an alien artifact in the dark universe, an artifact that imparts a message from a forgotten, mighty adventurer: "If you are seeing this recording, it means I am probably already DEAD...That means it is up to YOU to save the universe..."

    One of today's greatest comics artists, Ivan Reis, teams up with one comics' quirkiest storytellers, Jeff Lemire, to create this universes-spanning sci-fi superhero team-up, The Terrifics! And what an oddball, offbeat group they've put into the mix: the awe-inspiring, supremely gifted and self-sufficient polymath, Mr. Terrific; the immortal, lovable, indestructible dunce, Plastic-Man; the adventurous master of transmutation, Metamorpho; and the original icon of intangibility, Linnya Wazzo (better known to long-time fans as The Legion of Super-Heroes' Phantom Girl). From about the second page, the action is hot and heavy, fast and furious. The team is gathered fairly quickly in the pages of the first issue, and their personalities shine through as they stumble and bumble through their first challenges together, getting on each others' LAST nerve in the process. These issues are a lot of fun, especially the Johnny Storm/Ben Grimm-esque tension between Plastic Man and Metamorpho which lends a few good chuckles to the fast-paced, wild ride of a story that Lemire has cooked up. And poor Phantom Girl ends up with a really bad problem with her phasing powers, that Mr. Terrific promises to do his best to fix. Yeah...This book is in some ways very similar to Marvel's Fantastic Four - but that in no way makes the book any less fun or engaging. The only concerns I had were with the characterization of Mr. Terrific, who seems more than a bit aloof, with very little of his prodigious problem-solving skills and tech wizardry showing through, also the team lacks any real ties that would serve to create a solid team dynamic. However, since we're only two issues in, there is plenty of time to correct/develop Mr. Terrific, the entire team and its dynamic. For all its faults, I really enjoyed the first two issues of The Terrifics, and I am excited for what's to come; with a team so unique and versatile, and with a writer like Lemire, there is no limit to what this team could become to the DCU. Ivan Reis' pencils are, as usual, GORGEOUS - from the heroes to the often elaborate backgrounds to the action-heavy panels, Reis is in top form backed up by inker, Joe Prado, and colorist, Marcelo Maiolo, who make this book a feast for the eyes, panel after panel. I am really stoked to see these powerful, but under-rated, under-used heroes get to take the reigns and get some shine. I signed up for this book months ago, and I am so glad that I did. Don't sleep on The Terrifics!

RATING: 9 out 10.

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