Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bug! The Adventures of Forager #1 Review

"Bug! The Adventures of the Forager" #1 from DC Comics' Young Animal imprint

    Forager was one of the Bugs of New Genesis, a sub-species that lived, literally and figuratively, below the New Gods. However, the heroic Forager eventually earned the respect of The New Gods and Earth's heroes when he selflessly gave his life to save Earth from the Anti-Life Equation. Imagine his surprise when he awakes and emerges from a cocoon in a wacky world of glaring little girls and talking teddy bears. Desperate to discover where he is, he soon encounters the strange Sandman, a colorful character that claims to have the task of ensuring that nightmares never enter the real world. Soon they are hesitantly thrust into forming a team to stop the nightmarish villain, General Electric, who dreams of using, er...Dreams to conquer the world. Is Forager awake or dreaming, alive or dead, none of the above, or all of the above?

   Lee and Mike Allred take on this very weird tale starring two of Jack Kirby's Bronze Age creations, Forager and Sandman! And when I say this story is weird, that is exactly what I mean. It is a twisty, turn-y tale filled with (possible) figments of someone's imagination in a bizarre place where the regular laws of physics do not apply. I got the sense that Forager and Sandman weren't the real story... But more like the protagonists that just happen to be necessary for the weirdness to move forward. In other words, the story's the star, the stars aren't the story. The reader never really gets a foothold in the place; it's almost as if it's a drama told from the perception of a silent, unreliable narrator. It's impossible to know what's real, or whose perception is trustworthy. Is Forager alive, or dead? Is this all born of his imagination, the last spark of existence a dying hero, or is Forager himself just a character playing a role in someone else's (something else's) dream? Lee and Allred ask some REALLY philosophical questions in this book, questions all based in a haunting uncertainty in the nature of reality and existence. At first glance, this book seems to be all weirdness in a whacked-out world with two second-string Bronze Age heroes, but if you dig a little deeper, the Allreds are feeling about for some answers to some VERY serious questions. Now THAT is art. Speaking of art, The Allreds make this book absolutely pop with seemingly simplistic, gorgeous, colorful art that works perfect for the book, and hides the complexity of its creation. Simply put, the Allreds make it look easy. Now, this book isn't going to be for everyone. The story seems to meander, the heroes may not be very well-known by younger fans, and they aren't earthshakingly interesting at this point, but the story sure is. I am a sucker for journeys that ask questions about the nature of existence, and reality. Rock on Allreds, do rock on.

RATING: 9 out of 10.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

TEX'S Variants, Autographs and Oddities Episode 3 (Thief of Thieves Variants)


    I hope that you are having a terrific Tuesday! Mine is fine as a delicious clementine! I will be back soon with more comics reviews that you won't get watching the nightly news, but I am loving this particular showcase, so I thought that I'd lay another cool variant on you in 3 -2 - 1...

    Here are my two, count 'em, TWO copies of Robert Kirkman's, and Nick Spencer's "Thief of Thieves" #1!! But these aren't just the regular editions, no siree, these here are two of the Image Expo Variant Editions sold only to those who attended the 2012 Image Expo. THESE ARE LIMITED TO ONLY 1,000 COPIES...AND BOTH OF MINE ARE SIGNED BY THE MAN HIMSELF: ROBERT KIRKMAN!!

    "Thief of Thieves" tells the story of Conrad Paulson, alias Redmond, the greatest thief alive at the present time. Paulson decides to retire to put his family back together, but instead, he begins another life of crime...Stealing from other criminals.

   Here's a little secret about ol' TEX: I don't like to pay full price for nothing - especially when it comes to key issues and variants that are Modern Comics (or Post-Moderns, or whatever Age we're saying we're in now). I have engineered many a deal when it comes to my comics collection, and these were no different. I copped these from a highly respected seller for only $25 each.

   Damn it feels good 2 B a gangsta. :-)

   These have cooled down quite a bit in the last few years, but I'm a patient man. Kirkman announced that a series was in development based on "Thief of Thieves" back in 2012. He said that it was to be aired on AMC, just like Kirkman's other hit show which evolved from the hit comic series of the same name: "The Walking Dead." Some have speculated that it won't happen, but I think it will. It took five years for "The Walking Dead" to make it to TV, and after the success of that show, you had better believe that Kirkman DEFINITELY has the ears of the executives at AMC. Just last year, Kirkman announced that the show was still in development - I can't wait to see how this show turns out.

  That's all for today my fellow Questers!! Happy Trails!

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Malika: Warrior Queen

"Malika: Warrior Queen" #1 from YOUNEEK Studios -

     Since she was a youth, Malika has been enthralled by the martial arts, strategy, and the way of the warrior. Her mother, Queen of The Kingdom of Azzaz, impressed by her spirit, intelligence and skill, gave her to be trained under the watchful eye of one of Azzaz's mightiest generals, Abdul-Nasser. Now an adult, the reigning Queen Malika must put her bravery, skill, and mind to the test against a rebellion that threatens to tear her kingdom apart. It is a rebellion founded in her own family blood - it began in murder, and it just may end with the fall of an empire. In order to save The Kingdom of Azzaz, Queen Malika will face every danger to unite the people, and in the process, she just might become the greatest ruler and warrior that Azzaz has ever seen; and she will need to be all this and more. The rebellion is not the only threat; an enemy army approaches from a far-away land with malevolent intentions and an ancient magic sword...

     Roye Okupe creates and writes this sweeping epic of a ruler who must risk everything to save her murdered father's kingdom. Okupe has put on a clinic in world-building; his characters come alive in the reader's mind as he creates a fantasy world to weave his violent tale of jealousy, treachery, violence, and sexism with a protagonist that is honestly quite dazzling. I love tales like this in which the world seems familiar, or has shades of real recognizable history woven into a completely novel narrative just waiting to unfold. As fascinating as Okupe's world is, the protagonist, Queen Malika, really makes the story great; she is fearless, strong, and intelligent with a strong moral compass, and a burning desire to carry on her father's legacy by keeping The Kingdom of Azzaz safe and keeping her people free. I would absolutely love to journey with Queen Malika, share her adventures, and explore her world. The artist, Chima Kalu, is a master of drawing action, from one-on-one combat to epic military battles. It looks like YOUNEEK Studios might be a new publisher with a burgeoning "YOUNIVERSE" that has a lot to offer - new tales, new worlds, new heroes, new villains - Hey, I can dig that. And I am digging "Malika: Warrior Queen."

RATING: 10 out of 10.

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Victor LaValles's Destroyer #1 Review

Victor LaValle's "Destroyer" #1 from BOOM! Studios -

     Over two-hundred years ago, Doctor Victor Frankenstein created a life he could not control, which became a monster that was ultimately his undoing. The monster fled from humanity, choosing the silence of Antarctica, and the company of the beasts over that of men. When a whaling ship kills a friendly whale and it's calf, and disturbs The Monster's repose, he retaliates and through the wonders of modern technology discovers that in Montana, a modern-day Victor Frankenstein is again preparing to pierce the veil between life and death. This he cannot abide...

    In Missoula Montana, a brilliant African-American scientist and alchemist, Dr. Josephine Baker, is on the cusp of fulfilling a dream. Several years ago, her world was torn asunder when a fearful police officer mistakenly shot and killed her twelve-year-old son. He was a warm, sweet boy; she was unable to let him go. She seemingly downloading his consciousness into a computer system that interacts with nearly every part of her life. However, that is not enough. Not nearly enough. Her dream, her most powerful desire, is far more chilling than anyone could ever believe...She would have her son back, alive and well...And she would have her vengeance. 

   From the very first page, Victor LaValle's story held me entranced. I have always loved Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus, and there have not been many versions of it that I have not enjoyed. This book is no exception. In it, we see the Frankenstein's Monster drawn back into the world of men by their own barbarism, and drawn even further by the discovery of a "modern-day Frankenstein." The creature reacts with rage, but does The Monster desire to stop, kill, or perhaps even guide this new Prometheus? The Monster keeps the reader off balance: he seemingly possesses the ability to reason, but demonstrates none of the emotional connections that one assumes comes with the power of reason (at least toward humans). Is his motivation justice, or animalistic vengeance? And Dr. Josephine Baker (named for  the famous, stunning songstress and civil rights activist, Josephine Baker), is utterly captivating. Beautifully rendered by Dietrich Smith, she is highly intelligent, driven, wily, daring, matter-of-fact...And completely damaged. She is a beautifully tragic character that shines - the pace of the book picks up considerably when the story focuses on her. Her pain is very real, and very socially relevant in the time in which we live; I cannot wait to see how LaValle handles such a tender subject. But who is the protagonist? The Monster or Dr. Baker? Which is the antagonist? Is there really either in this story? What makes a monster? LaValle has filled "The Destroyer" with great characters, and lots of unanswered questions which is a great recipe for keeping me around until the bitter end...And it looks like the end will be just that, bitter. Dietrich Smith's artwork is perfect for this book. He draws action very well, but where he excels is in the crafting of expressive eyes and faces. He has a wide range -  from beautiful scenery, to lovely faces, to wild explosions, to gory action, to futuristic sci-fi scenes; Smith can do it all, and do it all well. Watch out for Victor LaValle's "Destroyer" - I think we just might be seeing the beginnings of a sleeper hit.

RATING: 10 out of 10. I need this book on my pull list, and I need it NOW.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

TEX'S Variants, Autographs and Oddities Episode 2

Hey-up, fellow QUESTERS!!

    I hope that you had a spiffy day - and I hope tomorrow is even better! Mine was pretty chill - I kicked it with the wife and daughter, watching TV and chatting until the sun went down. Priceless.

    Bu-u-u-u-u-u-t...Since my wife's occupied with her favorite reality TV show, I figured I'd take the time to beat a speedy retreat and get a quick article done for my fellow QUESTER chosen ones! So let's rock:

    It's the 2011 novel, "The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor," written by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga. This book relates the story of Philip Blake, his brother Brian, Philip's young daughter, Penny, and their two friends, Bobby and Nick, as they all try to stay alive in the zombie apocalypse. It is a really good story of love, loss, pain, and insanity...And how these things lead to the creation of The Governor, leader of Woodbury, one of the most frightening antagonists Rick Grimes and his group have ever faced. 

   So what's special about this book you ask? Well...

   This is not the regular hardcover, slipcase edition; this is the Limited Edition! It signed by Robert Kirkman himself and it is numbered because only 500 of these were ever produced! I am sure glad to have one of these in my collection - and even more happy that I ordered it in advance and got a special discount: I only paid $75. And yep, it's still sealed (I bought a cheap paperback to enjoy the story). 


FUN FACT 1 - This book reveals the origin for The Governor in the comic book series whose identity and origin is different from the Governor in the TV series. In the novel (which ties directly to the comic book series), The Governor is revealed to be Brian Blake, the brother of the deceased Philip Blake who was killed by his friend Nick. Philip had slowly gone mad after his daughter's (Penny's) death, and Nick had no choice but to end him; however, Nick was subsequently ended by Brian who took his brother's identity. In the TV series, The Governor is actually a still-living, still-deranged Philip Blake. 

FUN FACT 2 - In both the comic book series and the TV show, Philip Blake kept his daughter around after she died and became a zombie. 

FUN FACT 3 - This is Robert Kirkman's first novel. 

Happy trails, that's all for today, QUESTERS!! Night, night, sleep tight...Don't let them zombies bite!

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

TEX'S Variants, Autographs, and Oddities Episode 1

Hello, fellow Questers!!

    It's time for a change of pace as I hit ya'll with autographed comics, variants, and other oddities right from TEX'S very own long boxes! I've been meaning to start this up for quite a spell, but I've just never stirred up the gumption to see to it! But, consider my gumption stirred amigos - so let's skin this here smoke-wagon and see what happens!!

It's "The Plaid Avenger" #1 from NX Comics!

   You're thinking, "TEX...For reals?" Right? But heck yeah, I'm for reals! For years, Professor John Boyer, Department Chair of Geography at Virginia Tech, has been kicking butt in the classroom and finding new ways to get American students to be more aware of and active in all things global. From politics to pollution, John uses his teaching super-powers to get his students in the global game. Already using his alter-ego, The Plaid Avenger, in a series of nuanced textbooks that he and his "Plaid Team" publish, it was only logical that he make the leap to comics, so we could all benefit from his highly researched take on important international issues in our rapidly changing, very complex world. 

   "The Plaid Avenger" #1 was published by NX Comics back in 2008. It is a fun, cartoony, "edutainment" comic. In this issue, our hero, The Plaid Avenger, a well-mannered college professor by day, and globe-trotting superhero all the rest of the time, heads WAY up north to investigate the retreating permanent ice-cap, and what it means for the planet. Along the way, he tangles with Russian President Vladimir Putin, as our hero highlights a simmering territory dispute. 

   Fun and educational? That is TEX-TASTIC!!

  See ya later, Plaid Avenger! And HAPPY TRAILS TO MY FELLOW QUESTERS!!

PS: I just realized that I kinda started this series quite a while ago when I published an article on one of the RAREST ARTICLES in my collection. Click the link for a refresher! Adios!

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Saucer State #1 Review

"Saucer State" #1 from IDW -

      Arcadia Alvarado is the ex-Governor of New Mexico and the newly-elected President of the United States. But President Alvarado's got no time for celebration, she's got a divided country to run...And she's got a terrible, mysterious secret that she's spent years trying to quietly unravel. You see, a few years ago, President Alvarado and her ex-husband, Michael, were abducted and abused by aliens.  President Alvarado has assembled a small group of friends to help her solve her mystery, including her Chief of Staff, and one Professor Joshua Kidd - an academic and investigator of UFO phenomenon. Battling the horrifying remnants left in her memories of what the aliens did to her, navigating the constant political jockeying by friend and foe, guarding a secret that could destroy her political career, and trying to covertly get to the bottom of an otherworldly conspiracy that just might involve human agents, President Alvarado is fighting tirelessly and not backing down...But, it seems that neither are the aliens. President Alvarado's just gotten the report...NASA's seemingly just made first contact with an approaching extra-terrestrial craft!

     Finally! Writer, Paul Cornell and artist, Ryan Kelly, are back with the sequel to the Hugo Award-nominated sci-fi thriller, "Saucer Country." "Saucer State" doesn't miss a beat, giving us a succinct, one-page prose summary of the events that took place in "Saucer Country" and then Cornell tosses us right into the story of the hard-charging President Alvarado her curious cabal of alien investigators. "Saucer State" is what you would get if two much-beloved TV shows, "The X-Files" and "The West Wing," were to pair up and have a baby. It's the perfect mix of political intrigue, weird science-fiction, and mystery, all populated by three-dimensional characters with distinct personalities and motivations that made this issue a real page-turner. Kelly's pencils are great - he's got an eye for creating distinctive characters whose physical appearances really match perfectly with their personalities (at least in my mind). I got no one confused, quickly learned (or remembered) the names of all characters, and began the process of deciding who I liked, didn't like, or didn't trust. In other words, Cornell's and Kelly's "Saucer State" removed all barriers to the readers being able to immerse themselves in the story which, for me, made for the beginnings of an engrossing sci-fi mystery and a journey with these characters that I'd love to see through to the end. I'm so on board for "Saucer State!"

RATING: 10 out of 10.

      If you like this article, please hit the +1 button below. We are on Google+, follow us and we'll follow you back.  We're also on Facebook. Like our page, and share us with your friends! Help me win one million readers over to the awesome world of comics!