Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Yoga Hosers #1

Yoga Hosers: A Sundance Super Special from Dynamite -

     The two Colleens are a fixture at Winnipeg, Manitoba's Terry Fox Preparatory School. They're closer than sisters - it's been that way ever since Colleen C., kicked little Corey in the 'nads for insulting Collen M. back on their very first day of school as kids. Collen Collette is a tough-as-nails, no-nonsense, go-getter, and Collen McKenzie is all sugar, spice, sweetness, and light; but, together they make quite a team. They are just two teen french-fry-loving, yoga freaks getting it done in school by day, and working for cash in Colleen C.'s dad's convenience store by night, with a little rockin' band on the side, and a slightly psychopathic yoga instructor who believes in world domination through the power of yoga exceptionalism.  What are two put-upon, bored, yoga super-teens to do in wacky Winnipeg, eh? Fight crime. Oh. And Nazis.

    Kevin Smith is back at it again in this prequel (and blatant advertisement) for his comedy flick, "Yoga Hosers" starring his daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, and Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of his good friend, Johnny. As a prequel, Yoga Hosers works. It gives the reader a great introduction to the protagonists and gives us a pretty solid glimpse into their world in Winnipeg. The book is filled with so much of Kevin Smith's classic style of silliness that, if you are a fan (and I am), you'll probably end up really wanting to see the zany film...which has been widely panned. Even so, I'd still like to see if it offers up any of the yucks that the comic did for me. The story is light and airy, with lots of Smith's looney dialogue and hammy wordplay. The story presents itself as all-ages friendly, but there is a bit of Smith's typical crass humor and a sprinkling of foul four-letter words, but nothing too wild. Jeff Quigley's pencils are straightforward and no frills, but he's got an eye for slapstick and silliness that made the book fun to look at. Is this comic going to change the world? No. Does it have an earth-shattering message? Or just a deeper meaning? Nope. It's just a familiar Kevin Smith slice o' life tale with the foolishness cranked up pretty high. I enjoyed this comic - but I'm sure it's not for everyone, and I do not expect any further Yoga Hosers comics to be published, but I might keep buying them if they were, at least for a little while. It's a hard call on this one, so let's do this:

RATING (as a Kevin Smith fan based on classic Smith craziness): 8 out of 10.

RATING (non-biased): 6 out of 10. If you're not a fan of Smith's work, nor his humor, this book will absolutely not be worth the $3.99 you'd pay for it.

If you're so inclined, here's a trailer for the film (it made me laugh):

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Zojaqan #1 and Hi-Fi Fight Club #1 Reviews

Zojaqan #1 from Vault Comics -

    Shannon Kind knows pain and grief. Raised by a loving, but demanding immigrant father, Shannon had high hopes and wide expectations as she ran the race of life. It all culminated in Luther's birth. He was her son, he was her greatest joy but became the source of her greatest pain when his life was unjustly taken. Now, Shannon finds herself suddenly plunged into a new, wonderful, treacherous world, a planet unlike any she has ever known. She'll have to draw on all of her skills, intelligence and pain to survive and thrive in a place where she's both predator and prey. Why is she there, and why does she find herself thrust time after time further into the planet's developing future? What can she teach the evolving life there...And what will they teach her? 

    From Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing comes the epic, Alice-In-Wonderland-type sci-fi tale, Zojaqan. Kelly and Lanzing have created a compelling and riveting protagonist in Shannon Kind - her vibrant inner thought-life is related to the reader through both the captions and art as she tries to survive on a beautiful, but sometimes hostile planet, and as she is thrust from the planet's prehistoric past farther and farther into its future. It's a masterful work of storytelling in which the backstory of the protagonist and the developing story run parallel, with the reader starting a bit confused in the first few pages, discovering both the new planet with the protagonist, and discovering the protagonist too, at the same time. Everything unfolds beautifully, which gave me a slight feeling of confusion, while at the same time gripping me just enough to sink deeper and deeper into the journey with the protagonist. Nathan Gooden lays down some of the most flowing, expressive and sensual pencils I have seen in recent years, topped off by Vittorio Astone's offbeat palette of colors that make Zojaqan impossible to put down. I have a feeling that Zojaqan is going to give us an amazing ride.

RATING: 10 out of 10.

Hi-Fi Fight Club #1 from BOOM! Studios' BOOM! Box imprint -

     Chris is a teen-age tomboy who is the newest employee at the absolute coolest record store in town, Vinyl Mayhem. What makes Vinyl Mayhem so cool? It's the awesome people who work there, people that Chris idolizes for their several unique personality traits - from her boss, Irene, who is just the coolest adult alive, to Kennedy, the walking encyclopedia of music, to Dolores, the resident disinterested Goth girl, to Maggie, a walking ray of sunshine and Chris' secret crush. Although Chris is made to feel welcome, she often still feels like the outsider in a group of people who have known each other for so long. She just wants to fit in...She just wants to be invited to the secret meetings in the stock room at night, like the rest of the girls. However, when Rosie Riot, lead singer of a beloved band goes missing, Irene, Dolores, Kennedy and Maggie spring into action, revealing to Chris a secret that will thrust her into a dangerous new adventure that's sure to include lots of cool music and a whole lot of butt-kicking! Welcome to Vinyl Mayhem where you'll find the best music for your ears, and the hardest fists for your face.

   Penned by Carly Usden, Hi-Fi Fight Club looks to be an "All-Ages" cutesy mash-up of two of the 90's most-beloved films, "Fight Club" and "Empire Records." And it works. Chris is a lovable protagonist - all heart and hormones - who just wants to fit in and be one of the cool kids. Luckily, the cool kids are all pretty neat people who stand up for themselves, and for those who don't know how. Each supporting character comes alive on the page with their own big, quirky personality which makes this book a joy to read. Nina Vakueva's high-energy, high-drama, anime-inspired, cartoony pencils pour on the sweetness and light in High-Fi Fight Club, making Usden's story even more of a blast. Man, do I ever miss the 90s sometimes. Rock on, Carly Usden. Rock on.

RATING: 9 out of 10.

 And I'll leave you with a little Renée Zellwegger - before Jerry Maguire, before Bridget Jones, she rocked out and made me fall head-over-heels for her in...Empire Records! Enjoy!!!

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Friday, August 25, 2017

TEX'S Variants, Autographs and Oddities Episode 6 (Ash Vs The Army of Darkness)


    What ya got ta say?! Hello, fellow QUESTERS!! It's me, T to the E to the X, back again to help put some pep in your step and some glide in your stride, with all that good comic book knowledge that you can't get in any college!

    I hope you're off to a great start for your weekend! Me? I'm ready to chill and get a little R&R before that fun day, Monday, comes back around.

    Today, on this episode of TEX's Variants, Autographs and Oddities, we have a couple of cool items that are a little bit of all three things in the title! Feast your eyes!!

   It's my two copies Ash Vs The Army of Darkness #1! But these aren't just any old first issues, these are two copies of the ultra-rare Ken Haeser REMARK EDITION. What this means is that these are two copies of the Blank Authentix Edition, however, they are hand-sketched and signed by the one and only Ken Haeser, co-creator of The Living Corpse. And, oh, lookie!!

   They came all closed up with some cool Dynamic Forces seals and some even cooler Certificates of Authenticity! SWEET!

   Ash Vs The Army of Darkness comes jam-packed with the same fun, excitement, and absurd dark humor that fans of the "Evil Dead" films, fans like me, have come to love. And no, that DOES NOT include the humorless debacle of 2013, a grave error of a remake of which we shall never speak. Anyway, this time around, our pal, Ash, has found his way back into high school...As a history teacher, no less. He's out to slam some Deadites, and teach the kids how the world really works.


   If you've never seen the "Evil Dead" films, do yourself a favor, and put those on your bucket list. They are too dang good to miss. And if you're a cable subscriber, check out Starz's hit series based on the films, "Ash Vs. The Evil Dead." You can thank me later. Here's a clip:


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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dread Gods #1 Review

Dread Gods #1 from IDW - 

      In the not-too-distant-future, corporations have finished the long game and toppled all governments to take over the world. They provide food, shelter, and most importantly, entertainment, to the desperate denizens of the planet, Earth - bread and circuses, just like the Roman Empire of old. Carver is one of those denizens; deformed and paralyzed from the waist down, he races through the filthy crowded streets hunting for that which he most desires: a virtual reality cube from the Prometheus Corporation that gives the malnourished and maltreated mob a glimpse into the hallowed heights of Mount Olympus. With this V.R. cube, the people can leave their miserable states behind and walk among the gods, which is exactly what Carver craves. When Carver finally hooks in, he witnesses a battle that rocks the very foundations of Olympus, a battle which ends in the mightiest of the gods seeking help for their plight - help which Carver is determined to give. Has Carver lost his mind? Has he succumbed to the madness of mistaking fiction for fact...Or is there more reality than virtuality to what he sees in the halls of Olympus?

    Dread Gods #1 is an action-heavy sci-fi adventure penned by comics veteran, Ron Marz. In this issue, Marz gives us a look at a bleak, possibly post-apocalyptic future where mankind has traded freedom for the safety provided corporations. Many have long-feared the growing power of multinational corporations, some with their own private military forces. Some believe that theses corporate bodies are only loyal to money and power, not to flags and nations; it has been speculated that the natural endgame for these seemingly sinister corporate entities is to encroach upon the power of sovereign nations by using economic might to subvert national political processes to seize power, and then gain the people's loyalty by stepping in and providing vital essentials. Marz's vision in Dread Gods is a heavy-handed, though jarring, poke at this paranoid fear that may some day become a reality. The people live in such squalor; it is no wonder that they would do anything for a hit of virtual reality - the drug of choice for the downtrodden and the dying. However, even though Tom Raney's pencils are powerful, energetic and often, Kirby-esque, with lavish colors by Nanjan Jamberi, Marz's story is just too bombastic - it's a big idea, with big characters, with no discernible purpose. Zeus rules Olympus. The Olympians love him. Carver loves him. Hades hates him. Okay...Is the protagonist Zeus or Carver? Or is it the "evil" brother, Hades (is Hades a freedom fighter of sorts)? How does Carver hope to help a god in virtual reality? Is he nuts or is there more than meets the eye? There did not seem to be enough oomph in the story to make me care about ANY character on the page, which is a shame in a book so full of big action, big personalities and big potential. Dread Gods #1 lacked so much and ended so abruptly that only an introduction to Marz's world was semi-accomplished, but with no actual purpose for the story in sight...Nor why I should care at all. Dread Gods #1 is a lot of sound and fury that signifies a whole lot of nothing - at least, as far as I can tell. Oh, well. At least Raney's art was worth the cost of admission. 

RATING: 6 out of 10. 

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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Thoughts On Marvel's "The Defenders"

I just finished "The Defenders," and here are my thoughts:

1. Simone Missick (Misty Knight) is dreamy. Every move she made raised my temperature. 😍 I loved her assertiveness and confidence. She oozed power, and it wasn't emanating from the badge. I can't wait to see how her character develops with Collen as the Daughters of the Dragon. Or maybe Iron Fist will teach her, and they'll be The Friends of the Dragon, LOL. I wonder if he and Misty will end up together, like in the comics? Where would that leave Colleen? Can't wait to see her new, enhancement. 

2. Jessica Jones came to be a lot more likable, relatable and fun to watch. I actually found myself caring about her this time around. And she added a LOT of comic relief to an otherwise serious show.

3. Daredevil shines as the scrappiest, most daring character of the group. He is all heart and fire - a true scene stealer. His fights scenes are insane. As a bit of a romantic, I loved how Matt just couldn't give up on his lost love - he would do nearly anything to have her back. That was really moving. 

4. Luke Cage emerged as the group's moral compass - he is a man who knows right from wrong. He's a wrecking ball on the side of justice (which doesn't necessarily mean siding with the law always). After all he's been through, Cage is still righteous. I dig it.

5. Iron Fist...Oh, me. He was a lot more focused, and a little more mature and heroic this time around. So, I liked him a bit more. His fight scenes were better, but he was still eclipsed by Daredevil at every turn. He was the weak link and even had to be subdued and protected by the rest of the group. He spent probably 75% of his fight scenes losing. Maybe he should change his name to reflect his abilities - not Iron Fist..Maybe Aluminum Fist. -Jk I am sure he'll grow into the part and only get better. I definitely thought he was better this time around.

6. It was great to see how much Colleen and Danny had in common. They are both just lost kids looking for a family. It explains Their inferiority complexes (evidenced on how Iron Fist always needs to broadcast that he's "The Immortal Iron Fist," and Colleen has to prove she can hang with the big dog superheroes). I like their mutually supportive relationship. Sometimes only someone as messed up as you are can feel your pain.

7. Claire Temple is amazing as the glue that binds them all together. She is brave, altruistic, put upon, perpetually exhausted, and the most mature character in all of the MCU. She doesn't deal in lies, beat herself up over other people's decisions, mince words or try to be anything other than who and what she is. She is definitely the character most grounded in reality in the show.

    "The Defenders" was really a lot of fun to watch. Not too realistic and gritty, and not too fantastical - Defenders was just right for a two-day binge-watch to take my mind away from the social and political unrest that weighed heavily on my mind for the last two weeks. Keep working on Iron Fist, but bravo, Marvel! Overall, you did a bang-up job on this series. Can't wait for more. 

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    It's finally here! Season one of "The Defenders" has finally hit Netflix! I only have two episodes left to watch, and so far I'm enjoying it very much - mostly. The first two episodes were pretty slow for me, and Misty and Colleen kind of got dropped off the scene for some time; however, Elektra as The Black Sky has been very exciting, as well as finding out the mechinations of The Hand, and seeing the Defenders come together on the small screen.

   How about Iron Fist? Well, he is bit more mature than the last time we saw him in his own series - he's more of a hero and less of an annoying, whiny crybaby - and his fight scenes are a lot better...Even if they are still eclipsed by Daredevil's (which is kinda sad). But, all in all, I think this Finn guy may just become a pretty good Iron Fist.

   To celebrate "The Defenders" hitting Netflix, I figured that I'd do a short article giving a brief of the group and members and show you the corresponding comics in my collection. What do you think? Shall we? Let's shall. LOL.

It's Marvel Feature #1 published by Marvel in December of 1971. This comic features the first appearance of the original comics version of The Defenders: The Hulk, rage-monster with supposedly limitless strength, Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme of Earth, and Namor, The Sub-Mariner, sometime King of Atlantis, and Marvel's first mutant. In this issue, The Defenders take on Yandroth, a villainous super-genius, and his creation, Omegatron. Yes. I said Omegatron.

Here, we have The Defenders #1, published in 1972, in which the original Defenders get their own title. In this issue The Defenders take on powerful sorcerers, The Nameless One and Necrodamus (first appearance), as well as the vicious Demon of the Dark (first and only appearance).

But, sometimes it's out with the old stuff we know and love, and in with the new, so let's take a look at Marvel's current Defenders:

It's Luke Cage, Hero For Hire #1! Yep. I have two. This comic feature the first appearance of Carl Lukas, AKA Luke Cage, the first African American superhero in his own title. Cage is a hard man from Harlem who decided to go straight, but ended up railroaded into a Georgia prison for his efforts - set up for a crime he didn't commit. There, he is recruited by Dr. Noah Bernstein for a secret experiment which, due to the interference of a racist, sadistic guard, goes horribly wrong, leaving Carl Lukas with super strength and nearly impenetrable skin. Thought dead by the system, Lukas returns to Harlem under the name Luke Cage, and sets up shop as a super-powered hero/problem-solver...For a price. 

Here, we have my three nice copies of Marvel Premiere #15, published in 1974, featuring the first appearance of Iron Fist, lovingly rendered by one of the greatest comics artists to ever hold a pencil, Gil Kane. Iron Fist is Danny Rand, son of Wendell Rand, adopted son of Lord Tuan, ruler of the hidden, magical land of K'un L'un. Wendell left K'un L'un and became a very rich owner of a corporation in the USA. Years later, Wendell tried to return to K'un L'un with his wife, Heather, his son, and his best friend and business partner, Harold Meachum. While on a steep mountain path, Danny falls taking his mother and father with him. Meachum betrays Wendell, forcing him to his death and saves Danny and Heather. Heather refuses Meachum's advances and flees with Danny eventually succumbing to a wolf attack, but Danny is saved by monks from K'un L'un and raised as the grandson of Lord Tuan, learning the mystic martial arts of K'un L'un and defeating all contestants for the prize of fighting the dragon, Shao-Lao The Undying, whom he defeated, plunging his hands into the dragon's molten heart to become The Immortal Iron Fist, defender of K'un L'un.

Here's my copy of Alias #1, published in 2001, it features the first full appearance of Jessica Jones, and her detective agency, Alias Investigations. Jessica Jones was once the super-powered costumed hero, Jewel. As a youth, her family was killed in an accident with a military convoy carrying top secret chemicals. She was left in a coma, but when she awoke, she eventually found that she was gifted with superhuman strength, durability and the power of flight. Later, she would become a costumed hero, until her will was overpowered, and she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a mind-bending villain called The Purple Man. After becoming free from The Purple Man's influence, she tried her hand at being a more ruthless vigilante, but her emotional trauma caused her to set aside the garb of a superhero and become a private detective instead. In Alias #1, she wins up a Luke Cage's bar - attraction lead to a sexual encounter which eventually blossomed into a powerful relationship which culminated in their marriage and the birth of their baby daughter, Danielle. 

Since, unfortunately, I don't own a copy of Daredevil #1, I figured I show what I DO own: Daredevil #7, published in 1965, featuring the first appearance of Daredevil's more iconic red suit. Daredevil is Matt Murdock, a lawyer from New York City's rough-and-ready Hell's Kitchen. Matt is blinded as a youth by radioactive chemicals fallen from a truck. Matt heroically placed himself in harm's way, pushing an onlooker to safety, but Matt was caught in the truck's path and blinded by the chemicals. Not long after, he discovered that the chemicals that had taken his eyes had left him with a precise radar sense that far exceeded the abilities of normal sight, allowing him to hear at superhuman levels and "see" through sound. Matt encountered the blind ninja, Stick, who helped him hone his acrobatics-based combat abilities to near perfection. Some time later, his father, boxer, Jack Murdock, was killed by mobsters for not throwing a fight. Matt dons a costume to take revenge on the killers becoming the costumed vigilante, Daredevil.

   Fellow QUESTERS, I give you the old and the new DEFENDERS!! As I said, I'm digging the show so far, but how about you? Give me a shout out in the comments and let me know how you felt about the article, the Netflix series...Or BOTH!! Thanks for reading!!

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Calexit #1 Review

Calexit #1 from Black Mask -

    When the current president was elected, much of California wasn't happy. It erupted in mass protests and contempt - vitriol was directed at both sides of the political spectrum as California's more liberal cities decried the unfairness of the election process and California's more rural conservative areas celebrated one of their own in the Big Chair again. The president lashed out, issuing a disastrous executive order calling for the immediate deportation of all those not identified as U.S. citizens. California responded powerfully, declaring itself a sanctuary state, a declaration which led to near civil war between California's liberal metropolitan areas and its more conservative rural enclaves, as well as all loss of any support, or recognition as a state, from the federal government. Years later, the president has been re-elected, and he's making a big push to reclaim California by any means necessary. Zora Donato, a beloved freedom fighter who has somehow gotten in way over her head, has been targeted for elimination by the president, or someone in his administration. They've sent a monstrous functionary by the name of Father Rossie to get the job done, and he'll kill, with a simmering psychopathic glee, anyone who gets in his way. Zora's only hope is a morally questionable smuggler named Jamil. Can Jamil get her safely into the hands of the Resistance, or will they both wind up as rotting corpses in the beautiful California sun?

    Matt Pizzolo pens a powerfully frightening comic about a very possible dystopian future in Calexit #1. This story hits all the perfect notes of paranoia to make the reader cringe - Calexit just might keep the well-informed, politically-aware reader awake at night. Much of Calexit seems snatched from actual headlines and synthesized into a harrowing fictional nightmare of a story that could actually someday creep stealthily into the real world. I shudder just to think about it. With the current political climate of our country, Calexit left me haunted, praying that this work would remain one of fiction, never entering into the realm of political prophecy. In Zora Donato, we find a protagonist who is a much-loved freedom fighter - many are willing to sacrifice everything for her; however, as tender and beloved as she may be, she is also headstrong, focused and flawed. She sees the big picture of resistance only - sacrifices are acceptable to her as the reasonable cost of freedom. Jamil is a cocky free-spirited smuggler with a devil-may-care twinkle in his eye and a wit sharp enough to cut your heart out. Basically, we've got Han and Leia here, so I can't wait to see how their relationship evolves as this highly charged political thriller unfolds. And the main antagonist? He's a menacing, calculating, evil, true-believer - a fanatic that somehow reminds me of Hugo Strange with more hair. He relishes getting his hands dirty in service to his party and his president. Amancay Nahuelpan's pencils hit all the right notes too - they are precise, busy, and emotive with a daintiness and fragility to them. It's a beautifully rendered book about a very ugly subject - the irony wasn't lost on me. Calexit is, in every aspect, a truly magnificent work. It's relevant and chilling but hopeful with a bit of humor thrown in. It comes as no surprise that it is published by Black Mask, a comic company publishing works that seem to be the most tapped into the current social issues. Calexit just may end up being the comic book of a generation of politically embattled Americans. Don't sleep on it. 

RATING: 10 out of 10. 

PS - Don't miss out on reading Pizzolo's editorial essay, and his conversations with Amanda Weaver, Lexi Alexander and Bill Ayers in the back of the comic. 

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