Wednesday, July 26, 2017

TEX'S BACK-ISSUE QUEST EPISODE #59 (Ultimate Spider-Man)



Guess who's back?!

    It's your favorite comic-book-crazy blogger, TEX, here to slap your synapses with more comic book knowledge that you can't get in any college!! 

    Who's on the docket today? Why it's just your unstoppable, undefeatable, Ultimate Spider-Man!!

     

     Above, feast your eyes on my well-read copy of Ultimate Spider-Man vol 1, #1, featuring the first appearances of the Ultimate versions (Earth 1610) of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, May and Ben Parker, Harry and Norman Osborne, Mary Jane Watson, and more!! Ultimate-Spider-Man is a VERY important comic to have in your collection if you are a Spidey fan. Bill Jemas, the one-time publisher of Marvel Comics, a man credited with helping to bring Marvel back from bankruptcy (and replacing the hated Bob Harras with Joe Quesada), looked at Marvel's long history and decided that decades of Marvel canon was holding the writers back from creating new and interesting stories, and possibly holding Marvel back from turning more profits. Jemas decided it was time to make the Marvel Universe fresh and accessible to new readers, so he started with a rebooted, reimagined version of Spider-Man. He hired writer, Brian Michael Bendis - a master of dialogue, and long-time Marvel artist, Mark Bagley. And a star was born!!

    Bendis and Bagley shook up the world with a fresh take on Spidey. They took Stan Lee's and Steve Ditko's dated Spider-Man origin story from 1962's Amazing Fantasy vol 1 #15, an origin story that only lasted for eleven pages, and turned it into an intricate, breathtaking seven-issue story arc that is really just some of the best work that Marvel had done in a VERY long time. Bendis and Bagley thrust Peter back to his awkward teen years, ramped up the drama and humor, updated Spidey's world, from pop culture to technology to Spidey's supporting cast to current societal issues, and masterfully brought Spider-Man into the new millennium. The first issue of Ultimate Spider-Man was published in October of 2000. In May of 2002, Sam Raimi's blockbuster, "Spider-Man," the first in a trilogy of blockbuster films starring Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker / Spider-Man, was relased to wide acclaim, and Spider-Man was back on top in the hearts and minds of superhero fans all over the world. And The Ultimate Universe grew with titles like Ultimate X-Men, The Ultimates, and Ultimate Fantastic Four.  On to the FUN FACTS!!

Fun Fact 1 - One of the most stunning differences between Ultimate Spider-Man (Earth 1610) and the Earth 616 original was the fact that Norman Osborn plays a REALLY important part in Spider-Man's origin story, and he is the first villain (as Green Goblin) to deduce Spidey's identity and go after him. 

Fun Fact 2 - Another difference is that Ultimate Spidey used a formula originally his father's to create his webs. The 616 original did it all himself. 

Fun Fact 3 - The cool, fresh differences between the Ultimate Universe and the 616 would take a long time for me to lay out, from Norman Osbourne actually becoming a near-undefeatable, hulking Green Goblin, to the deaths of prominent characters whose permanent deaths would be unthinkable in the 616. 

Fun Fact 4 - Ultimate Spider-Man is one of my favorite Marvel series of all time. It made me a real fan of Spider-Man. I collected, read and reread the entire series, even hanging on when Volume 2 began:


My copy of Ultimate Spider-Man Vol 2, #1 (Special Foilgram Cover)

And...


I even have Ultimate Spider-Man Vol 1 TPB in Spanish, bro. Yes, I do.

And...

I am lucky enough to own signed, original commissioned artwork from Mark Bagley himself:



Cool, right?


Fun Fact 5 - Sadly, in the end, it all went up in smoke. The Ultimate Universe became dark and often more violent than the 616, with story arcs like "The Death of Spider-Man," and "Ultimatum," wherein Wasp was devoured alive by Blob. Eventually "The Ultimate End" brought destruction to The Ultimate Universe (although some characters did escape into the 616 after "Battleworlds"). 

Fun Fact 6 - The illustrious team of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby once held the record for the longest continual run on a Marvel title with a dazzling 101-issue run on Fantastic Four vol 1. That's about eight and 1/2 years. Bendis and Bagley broke that record with their 111-issue run on Ultimate Spider-Man. That's about nine and a quarter years. After Bagley called it quits, Bendis continued to work on the title, racking up an unheard of fourteen-year run on a single Marvel title!!

Fun Fact 7 - Ultimate Spider-Man vol 1, #1 was voted the ninth greatest comic ever published back in 2001. Groovy. 

Fun Fact 8 - Ultimate Spider-Man, or elements thereof, have been used in other media:



 "Spectacular Spider-Man" (2008-2009)



"Ultimate Spider-Man" (2012-2017) 



"Spider-Man: Homecoming" (2017)

Fun Fact 9 - Brian Michael Bendis served as both writer and producer on the TV series, "Ultimate Spider-Man."

Fun Fact 10 - Ultimate Spider-Man was Marvel's FLAGSHIP title for years, outselling all titles, including the original Amazing Spider-Man!!!

   If you love Spider-Man, and you HAVEN'T READ Ultimate Spider-Man vol 1, go read it NOW. You can read it by clicking HERE. You're welcome. ;-)

   Happy trails, pardners!!

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Blood Brothers #1 Review



Blood Brothers #1 from Dynamite -

     Who you gonna call when supernatural baddies come to ruin your day? You call the best, and Diego and Gabriel Soliz are the best. The Soliz brothers are always up to solve a supernatural mystery. Diego is an ex-soldier and an expert detective who gained the ability to see and communicate the dead through a near-death experience on the battlefield. Gabe is a super-powered luchador (Mexican pro-wrestler) with a heart of gold. They've been assigned to solve a robbery-homicide and recover an artifact that is rumored to be cursed. But there's more to this case than meets the eye - more danger, more mystery, and more personal pain. Why? Because this mystery might just involve the disappearance of their beloved, long-lost father. Can the Soliz brothers close the case, or will this case close them down...Permanently?

    Created by Fabian Rangel, Jr., and Javier Gaba, Blood Brothers #1 is a throwback to the halcyon days of Mexican comics and cinema when the masked luchador was king of the hill, and justice was always on the menu. A descendant in the illustrious lineage of luchador comics like Santo, El Enmascarado de Plata (The Saint, The Man In The Silver Mask), El Increíble Blue Demon (The Incredible Blue Demon), and Huracán Ramírez (Hurricane Ramírez), Blood Brothers gives us all the bad guy bashing, mystery and supernatural menace we've come to expect from this genre of comics and films. Diego and Gabe are fun protagonists - they have a wonderful energy between them, they depend on each other's strengths and guard against each other's weaknesses, and they are all about putting bad guys down for the count. It doesn't get any more straightforward and uncomplicated than that, and uncomplicated is one of the hallmarks of any good masked luchador adventure. Good is good, bad is bad, and the hero brings the pain. Cool. Rangel and Gaba have placed their protagonists in a world where the supernatural, and supernatural beings like werewolves, are just part of the normal scenery, a part that can get dangerous very quickly. And that's where Diego and Gabe come in. Toss in the mutual tender spot that their dad left when he vanished, and you've got a solid superhero mystery mash-up that really has legs. The co-creator, Javier Caba, provides pencils that are perfect for the story; Caba's pencils are quirky, a little cartoony, and very urban-inspired. Again, cool. Blood Brothers #1 is probably a sleeper hit waiting to happen, and a great trip down memory lane for a guy like me who is a NUT for Mexican luchador comics and films. I LOVE this book!

RATING: 10 out of 10 for masked luchador mayhem!

PS - If you love luchador comics, you've got to check out La Mano del Destino, from Castle & Key Publications. It's created, written and rendered by the extremely talented J. Gonzo, one of comics' best-kept secrets. Click here to read issue #1 for free!!

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Jazz Maynard #1 Review



"Jazz Maynard" #1 from Magnetic Press' Lion Forge imprint -

    Jazz Maynard is one hell of a man. Originally from Barcelona, Spain, like his name implies, he's slick, cool, smooth and unpredictable. Besides all of that, he's one of the best Jazz trumpeters in New York City. When he gets an urgent letter from his sister stating that she fell victim to some sex traffickers while looking for him in NYC, Jazz finds her and barrels through her mobbed-up captors like a hurricane. There's more to Jazz than meets the eye. Much more - but will it be enough to save his sister and himself and everyone he loves? The guys he killed had connections. Big, bad connections. And even though Jazz and his sister have fled home to Barcelona, they haven't run far enough to escape the hands of corruption, nor the hands of wicked men out for revenge. 

    If this sounds familiar to you, don't fret. It's translated from Dargaud's 2007 publication, translated from the original Spanish and French. If you are a fan or foreign comics (and I am), you'll be really happy to see this great work get a little American love. Writer, Raule, brings us this hard-boiled crime-fiction actioner that seems like a cross between Cowboy Bebop and Robert Rodriguez's film, "Desperado." Like the protagonists in both works, Jazz Maynard is a silent wall of cool, but behind it is the weight of a dark past, evidenced by the deadly skill set, and a sensitive soul, as evidenced by the haunting music he makes with his trumpet. Jazz Maynard's the perfect protagonist - he's got just enough out there for you to have an idea of who he is, but not enough for you to be exactly sure. A good, mysterious protagonist is one sure way to lock me into a story. Raule has thrown Jazz in a dangerous situation involving family; it's interesting to see how the danger doesn't shake him up at all, but his family sure does. What's that about? It will be so groovy to watch how he handles all the baddies coming his way with his family involved (or as they say in Spanish, "de por medio"). Roger Ibañez Ugena's pencils rock hard with slightly elongated, lined faces that demonstrate a wealth of emotion, and PLENTY of panels on every page that just keep the eye moving scene to scene. It's like a movie in comic book form. SWEET. It doesn't seem like I read this ten years ago already, but it's just as good now as it was then. Dargaud published a lot of great books, from Jazz Maynard: Home Sweet Home, to one of my faves, Blacksad. If you like Cowboy Bebop, "Desperado," and hard-boiled crime fiction, you will love Jazz Maynard. I do.

RATING: 9 out of 10.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Crosswind #1 Review



Crosswind #1 from Image Comics -

    Cason Bennett is a handsome, dapper, confident hitman. He grew up dirt poor and he isn't going back - he's ruthless, as evidenced by the fact that he just murked his best friend. Juniper Blue is a gorgeous housewife and mother. Her beauty is buried in the mental abuse and hostility she suffers at the hands of her cheating husband, her son and just about everyone else in her world - from her nosy neighbor to the boys in her neighborhood. Their worlds collide when, for unknown reasons, they find themselves in each other's bodies, each in the middle of a huge mess in the other's life. Cason will have to take on an abusive world in the body of a woman. And Juniper? She's got to hide a body and babysit the psychotic grandson of a mafia don. The crap's about to hit the fan.

   From the mind of Gail Simone, comes a gender-bending actioner, Crosswind. Crosswind begins well because it begins with the protagonists. Through the captions, we get a glimpse into their minds, their feelings, and little of their backstories, all of which make the reader empathize with each character. As the action unfolded, I found myself unsettled by the fact that I liked Cason despite his moral failings, and I was also unsettled that felt sorry for Juniper, but I began to wonder if she had done something in the past to merit her maltreatment. I mean, she was just terribly abused by nearly everyone in her world, especially males. It seemed so over the top. I struggled to grasp what Simone was communicating. Are beautiful women victims? Are housewives? Is marriage a cage for women? I wasn't really sure - I like comics that make me think, question, struggle and get a little in my feelings. Either way, on the one hand, we have a hitman that's the stereotypical manly man, and on the other, a perfect example of the docile housewife stereotype. What does Simone do? One of her favorite things. She plays with sex and gender roles. Each protagonist is thrust into an alien world, with different rules, and different dangers and expectations. Each is totally out of their depth, and it will be quite interesting to watch them try to adapt and navigate these strange, new worlds. Cat Staggs' artwork is slick and expressive, but it's got a weird digital blurriness to it that my eyes don't really like. But, all in all, do I like Crosswinds? Yes. It is a very interesting story with fully fleshed out protagonists - I would like to journey with them. Do I like all of Simone's viewpoints? No in the slightest - but that doesn't make the story any less interesting, nor does it make Simone any less gifted. 

RATING: 9 out of 10.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

TEX'S BACK -ISSUE QUEST EPISODE #58 (The Strain)


Howdy, fellow Questers!

    I hope your week is going well and that your feeling life's groove. All's fine in my neck of the woods, but since I have some things I have to accomplish today, I thought I'd hit you up with a midweek dose of comic book knowledge that you can't get in any college. And, conveniently, it gives me an excuse to celebrate the return of one of my favorite shows:


     It's my copy of The Strain volume 1, number 1. This is the more pricey 1 in 5 variant. The Strain #1 features the first appearances of Dr. Ephraim Goodweather,  Professor Abraham Setrakian, vampire hunter, and The Master, menacingly powerful source of the vampire outbreak. 

     The Strain is an adaptation of a novel of the same name written by Mexican/American director, Guillermo Del Toro, and novelist, Chuck Hogan. Adapted wonderfully by veteran comic scribe, David Lapham, and penciled by Mike Huddleston, The Strain follows humanity's battle against total conquest by an ancient evil. Heading the human charge are Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, Head of the CDC's rapid-response team, and Professor Abraham Setrakian, a Romanian Jew who has spent the greater part of his life hunting The Master down after originally encountering him during WWII while confined to an extermination camp. Dr. Goodweather and Professor Setrakian, along with their ragtag band of vampire fighters, like the double-tough exterminator, Vasily Fet, and ex-gang member, Augustin Elizalde, battle with swords, guns, and science to push back The Master and his monstrous minions before they reduce the human race to mere cattle to suit their voracious appetites. On to the FUN FACTS!!

FUN FACT 1 - The writer, David Lapham has written superhero stories and other things, but his horror stories are the stuff of legend. He has the eerie ability to give a voice to wickedness that is quite unsettling (As a reference, see his work on Crossed: Family Values, and Crossed: Psychopath). Warning: Crossed is not for children or those with tender sensibilities. 

FUN FACT 2 - The co-creator, Guillermo Del Toro is an award-winning writer, producer, and director best known for directing the "Hellboy" films, "Blade II," and the critically acclaimed masterpiece, "Pan's Labyrinth." 

FUN FACT 3 - In 2014, The Strain was adapted into a successful TV series by FX. And it is GREAT!! It stars Corey Stoll as Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, David Bradley as Professor Setrakian, Kevin Durand as Vasily Fet, and Miguel Gomez as Augustin Elizalde. Del Toro wrote and directed the pilot episode. It is now in its 4th and final season. Can you feel my sadness?





FUN FACT 5 - I used to have a habit of selling, or giving away, my modern comics after reading them. I owned the whole of volume one of The Strain but sold it after reading it. I came across the above comic later, liked the cover and bought it. Lucky for me. I had no idea it would rocket up in value due to the upcoming TV series.

Well, that's it for now. Happy Trails, fellow QUESTERS!! Be safe, be good, be AWESOME!


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Monday, July 17, 2017

Paklis #1 Review


Paklis" #1 from Image Comics -

     Paklis is a sci-fi anthology from the uber-creative mind of Dustin Weaver. The anthology is broken down into three stories: 

   1. "Mushroom Bodies" - Greg is at his wits' end, and in his situation, that's very understandable. What else can you do but go insane when your body is morphing into that of a bug? 

    "Mushroom Bodies" is a surreal tale of paranoia. Reminiscent of Franz Kafka's masterpiece, The Metamorphosis, "Mushroom Bodies" follows the story of a protagonist trapped by paranoia, fear, and powerlessness, so much so that his body inexplicably morphs into the ultimate example of insignificance: a bug. I find this story to be the most interesting of the bunch. On the one hand, it has a nihilistic bent, seemingly suggesting that there is little difference between a human or a bug because life, all life, is a state of a chaos, leading to a lack of any real control and any real meaning. On the other hand, it is inundated with existentialism, suggesting that even though a person's fate be beyond their control, it is their own will that defines how they perceive/create and interact with their world. Both of these philosophies culminate in acceptance - either acceptance of meaninglessness, or acceptance of ultimate responsibility for your perceptions and actions. Packed with so many interesting themes, and so much content to ponder, "Mushroom Bodies" is a bit of a modern-day comics masterpiece, even if it is a tad derivative of Kafka's novella. 

2.  "Sagittarius A*" - In the distant future, humanity has spread further into the universe. Linus, a war hero has come back from the front lines to find his missing, or deceased, father.  Destination: the galactic core, Sagittarius A. 

      Only 2 pages long, "Sagittarius A*" is a gorgeously rendered sci-fi tale done all in black and white. In a masterful stroke of storytelling, Weaver gives us the backstory and everything else we need to get hooked into this tale in such a small space. We are introduced to the protagonist, his trauma is exposed, we find out he is a hero, and that he is looking for his estranged, possibly dead, father who also happens to be a war hero. This story did so much in two pages, I was quite literally astounded.

3.  "Amnia Cycle" - Once again, in the distant future, humanity has established an intergalactic empire and it is at war with an alien race called the Nuriel. Air-Man Tara Donnia is a hotshot pilot on a routine recon mission on a lonely planet when she spies what seems to be an asteroid falling to the ground. What seems to be an asteroid is actually a humanoid alien named Amnia who announces that it loves Tara, and is looking for a place called Apuli, and its lost ship, the Plinius. When Tara decides to help Amnia, she soon finds herself running from her own fleet, and trapped in a vessel in a secluded sector of space.

    "Amnia Cycle" differs from Weaver's other offerings because, in lieu of character development, we jump right into the action, which for me, made the story a lot of sound and fury, but having little meaning. While "Amnia Cycle" is definitely the most pedestrian of the three stories, nonetheless, it was by no means uninteresting.

   Overall, Paklis, is an exceptional sci-fi anthology that is sure to please those who are fans of science-fiction and tales that wrestle with philosophy and the human condition. It's a throwback to illustrious predecessors, books like Métal hurlant, and its American spawn, Heavy Metal, just a lot less racy (so far). The most obvious way that it differs from its predecessors is in the fact that it is all coming from the fertile mind and adept hand of one creative genius. Weaver is putting on a clinic in creativity here with three meaty tales of his own devising, and three distinct art styles. It's beyond unique - it's rather brilliant...And it has to be with a HEFTY price tag of $5.99 per issue. I definitely want to follow this book. I have a feeling we'll soon see something on the big or small screen that emerges from Weaver's gifted imagination. 

RATING: 9 out of 10. 


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Sunday, July 16, 2017

TEX'S Variants, Autographs and Oddities Episode 5 (Caliban)




Hello, Hello, Hello!!!

    It's TEX checking in again, my fellow QUESTERS!! I hope that you had a great weekend. I sure did. My son came to visit from college, my wife didn't have to travel for work, and my daughter and  I are here on summer vacation, so I was able to gather up my entire nuclear family up to go out for a night of fun and festivities. We went to see "Baby Driver" which was a lot better than expected, and then we piled into a restaurant had a great dinner, and ended the night in a wonderful family debate.

   Coolness.

   So today, before I put my feet up and chill, I thought I'd hit you guys with one of the oddities/variants that I found in my collection. I hope you like it - LET'S RIDE!!


It's Caliban #1, from Avatar Press!!

     But this isn't just any old first issue, it's a doozy of a variant! This is the exclusive Platinum Edition of the Dark Matter Variant, printed, selected and sent to the CGC to be graded by Avatar Press. These are graded and then numbered by the CGC - this means that EVERY one of these Platinum Editions are encapsulated, and, in this case, numbered from one to one-hundred and fifty, which is the total number of these that exist on the planet. That's right, only one-hundred and fifty of these were printed, graded and numbered, and I have #118 in my collection. 

     I don't usually go for variants like this (I can count on one hand the times I have splurged for a variant), but Caliban was a pretty great read, and I really wanted to have one of these exclusive comics. So, what makes Caliban so great? Glad you asked. Caliban comes to us from the brilliant mind of Garth Ennis. It's a sci-fi horror story in the same vein as the "Alien" franchise (one of my favorite bodies of sci-fi films). It tells the story of the crew of the mining ship, Caliban, on a routine mission in deep space. When they collide with an alien vessel while in FTL (faster-than-light travel / "warp"), their ship fuses with the vessel, killing several members of the crew. When the survivors begin to be stalked and killed by something beyond their understanding, paranoia sets in, and the crew realizes that not only are they not alone in the universe, but they just may not be ready to encounter what awaits them in the vast cold reaches of the universe. Ennis teams up with Argentine artist, Facundo Percio, who illustrates this book beautifully with shades of the late, great legend of sci-fi, Moebius. Here's another of the more disturbing covers:


(Courtesy of Bloody Disgusting)

     I would really love to see this translated to film someday. It would be a refreshing throwback to those horrifying sci-fi chillers of the past; however, Ennis' work doesn't always translate well. "Preacher" is the obvious exception, but Ennis has been trying to get Crossed adapted for years, which is so violent, bloody, and perverted that the NC-17 rating would have to come out of mothballs for it to be in mainstream theaters. 

   Well, that's it for today. I hope you enjoyed today's trip into the oddities of my collection. There's lots more to come, so stick around! Same TEX time, same TEX station!!

  Happy Trails!!

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

September Mourning Volume 1 Review


September Mourning Vol 1  from Image and Top Cow -

     No one knows why the Riven, a Reaper of Souls spared the young woman. No one knows why he took her life and gave her his own, making her a living, breathing Reaper. She is September Mourning, a human Reaper, driven to help the souls of the sick, oppressed, abused and lonely who are dying. Sometimes she balances the scales, giving them another shot at life, sometimes she whisks them to a safe place where she can protect them until she figures out their ultimate fate. But September is meddling with the balance of the universe, playing at being the Hand of Fate...And Fate himself doesn't like it. Not one bit. September must fight for her own survival, the survival of the lost souls she protects, and for Claire, her jaded blind companion who has the power to see Reapers. Can September protect the souls in her care and stay alive long enough to find out exactly who and what she is, and why she exists? Or...Will she meet a dark and sinister Fate?

    Created by Mark Silvestri and Emily Lazar, September Mourning is based on the dark culture project of the of the same name. Emily Lazar and Mariah McCourt pen volume 1 in which September's origin story is revealed, and all the chess pieces are put into place for the beginning of her struggle against Fate. September is a tragic character, and moving, as is her ostracized, misunderstood friend, Claire. They share the bond of misfits who belong in neither this world nor The Mortem, the dark other-side of our reality where Fate and his Reapers rule. The theme of victimization runs heavily through this book - victimization of women, and the ultimate victimization of humanity through the authoritarian rule of an arbitrary despot who holds our fates in his hands while we are powerless to shape the trajectory of our own lives. It echoes James O'Barr's Eric Draven when he uttered his famous line in The Crow: "Victims...Aren't we all?" September seems to come to change all that, much like O'Barr's Crow. Lazar and McCourt offer up a worldview that is a little bit goth and a little bit emo. While both September and Claire develop into sympathetic characters, the story does have a few rough edges. Sometimes the dialogue gets hammy, and the book is narrated by Claire in the captions, and she does a lot more telling than showing which makes the story feel rushed. It's hard for a character to unfold if someone's telling you everything about it. All this aside, September Mourning Volume 1 was a curiosity and an interesting read. It's a BIG ball of melodrama, but it has intriguing protagonists and it tells a story of mankind's struggle to write its own destiny, which always gets me. Sumeyye Kesgin's art is dark but playful, a bit cartoony but all business. Kesgin let her imagination run wild here, and she has QUITE the imagination. And she's got quite the work ethic; this book is PACKED with panels! Kesgin let it all hang out, and I like the way she works it - no diggity. This book isn't going to be for everyone, but I have no doubt it'll find an audience in those of us who are just a bit jaded and disaffected at heart.

RATING: 7.75 out of 10.

PS - I mentioned that this comic was based on a dark culture project...Well, here's September Mourning herself in her own music video singing her song, "Eye of the Storm." Enjoy!!


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Friday, July 14, 2017

Rivers Of London #1 Review



"Rivers Of London" #1 from Titan -

    In London, "Falcon" crimes are the worst kinds of crimes, often involving horrible, nightmarish scenes of gore, and more often than not, a bit of the supernatural. For these crimes, there's The Folly, the home of a special crimes unit which doesn't just take on normal lawbreakers; The Folly goes head to head with criminals who can wield the darkest forces. Enter Police Constable Peter Grant. Pete's really got it rough. Not only is he about to take the grueling exams that will make him a Detective Inspector, he is also a practitioner of magic - a wizard in training to be exact. When the remains of a bizarre, macabre ritual are discovered on a London skyscraper, Peter is tasked with solving the crime. He is thrown into a world of cruelty, corruption, and ambition all spawned by a text that promises power beyond one's wildest dreams. Can Peter solve this case and prove that he's got what it takes to be a DI, or will he end up another victim of dark magic, face-down in the dirty gutters of London? 

   Written by Ben Aaronovitch and Andrew Cartmel, "Rivers Of London" is a mystical thriller set to the tone of a very interesting police procedural. It is an enthralling adaptation of Aaronovitch's novel of the same name, published in 2011. Aaronovitch and Cartmel build a world that, at first glance, seems just like our own, yet, they fit the practice of magic in it so casually, even giving a neat backstory on the magical crimes unit of the Met Police which began with none other than one of my heroes, Sir Isaac Newton. Brilliant. The protagonist, PC Peter Grant, talks us through the weird, supernatural case in the captions (so nonchalantly) while giving us a bit of light exposition. This makes the story flow well, and helps us to really feel comfortable with Grant as we journey with him through his the interviews and procedures of the case, as well as his assessment to become a DI. While we don't really get to see how advanced Peter is as a wizard, we do get to see that he is a pretty debonair...And a relentless cop. I dig that. I wish we had gotten to know his supporting cast more, but the breezy introductions to them were enough to make me want to find out more about each of them. I can seriously see this as a series on the SyFy Network. Lee Sullivan's artwork is excellent - from the characters to the stunning backdrops, Sullivan's art works great to tell the story. His pencils are busy without seeming overly so. I definitely will be picking up "Rivers Of London." Yes, the first issue is a bit subdued, and it ends rather abruptly, but it's just the simmer before the pot boils over. I want to see what happens next.

RATING: 8.5 out of 10.  


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

TEX'S BACK-ISSUE QUEST EPISODE #57 (Wynonna Earp)



It's been a long time,

I shouldn't have left you,

Without some dope comics to look through!!

        Welcome back once again, fellow QUESTERS, to TEX'S BACK-ISSUE QUEST, a place where I can fill your hungry heads with lots of comic book knowledge that you can't get in any college!

          Today we head into some weird wild western goodness with...WYNONNA EARP!!! Check it!


It's my sweet copy of Wynonna Earp #1!!

     Wynonna Earp #1 was published by Image Comics in 1996, and features the first appearances of Wynonna Earp, The U.S. Marshalls' Monster Squad, and her nemesis, the vicious, vile, voracious vampire, Bobo Del Rey and his powerful, bloodthirsty clan, La Inmortalidad. In the comic, Wynonna Earp is a U.S. Marshall with a special unit called The Monster Squad, an elite group that takes on perps of the more dangerous, darker, supernatural type. Marshall Wynonna Earp the great granddaughter of the famous frontier lawman, Wyatt Earp. She carries his name proudly, pushing herself to her physical limits to be the best U.S. Marshall she can possibly be. Her athleticism, hand-to-hand combat skills, and marksmanship are all unmatched, but her greatest weapon may have been passed down from her famous great-grandad: a cool head in the face of death. Wynonna Earp was created by writer Beau Smith, and brought to the page by artist Joyce Chin

    Various Wynonna Earp titles have been published since 1996 with IDW taking over the publishing duties in 2003. Wynonna Earp is now enjoying a huge amount of renewed interest due to the critically acclaimed TV series that has been airing since 2016 on Syfy. It stars the drop-dead gorgeous Melanie Scrofano as the ornery title character:




     I have been watching the show since it debuted, and it has sure made me a fan. It's got a little Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and a little of Tombstone in it, which makes it REALLY fine by ol' TEX. Why? Because those are sure 'nuff two of my favorite things to watch, ya betcha by golly. And the second season is heads and shoulders above the first season. Loving it. But...The comic and the TV show have some distinct differences. On to the fun facts!!

FUN FACT 1 - The TV Show has some great characters that the comic does not, like Doc Holiday, played with a cool, comic bent by Tim Rozon, Waverly Earp, played by the charming, multi-talented, knockout, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, and the straight-shooting, no-nonsense lawman, Xavier Dolls, played by the intense Shamier James.

FUN FACT 2 - In the TV Show, Bobo Del Rey and his clan were Revenants, 77 outlaws killed by Wyatt Earp but resurrected as demons under a curse. In the comics, they were simply vampires. 

FUN FACT 3 - Wynonna is a master of weapons, a skill which she uses to bring supernatural villains to justice. However, in the TV show, Wynonna has inherited "The Peacemaker," the Colt Buntline Special that novelist, S.N. Lake wrote about Wyatt Earp having used in his novel, Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshall. It's been somehow blessed to kill supernatural baddies. Or anyone. Because it's a gun. :-D

(Courtesy of Syfy.com)



FUN FACT 4 - In the comic, Wynonna was a U.S. Marshall in a special elite group called, The Monster Squad; however, in the TV show, she is a part of a unit called The Black Badge Division. 

FUN FACT 5 - In the comic, it states explicitly that Beau Smith is the creator of Wynonna Earp. But we are way past the days of the artists not getting their due as co-creators. If you can't draw, then the artist helps bring your idea to life. I hope Joyce Chin is seeing some cash from the TV show. 

FUN FACT 6 - I love the TV show's theme song, "Tell That Devil," by Jill Andrews. Groove with me:




FUN FACT 7 - Hayden Panitierre performed "Tell That Devil" on her TV series, Nashville.

That's all for today!! Happy trails, pardners!!

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Jimmy's Bastards #1 Review


Jimmy's Bastards #1 from AfterShock -

    Jimmy Regent is the best that MI6 has to offer - and he's also the worst. He's a handsome, brilliant and highly effective agent, but he's a womanizing, cocksure, offensive bastard...But he gets the job done. Fresh from taking down Theophilus Trigger, Regent's trigger-word spouting nemesis, and Bobo The Bastard, Trigger's evil, chimp sidekick with a glass-encased human brain, Regent's all set for a little rest and relaxation (and some shagging, of course). However, what Regent doesn't know is that a legion of dejected and neglected nutcases are on the warpath, and they are headed straight for Jimmy Regent. They blame Jimmy for their crappy lot in lives...And he just might be sorta, kinda responsible. Or not. Besides all this, Jimmy's new partner, Nancy McEwan, is a lethal stunner who doesn't seem to be interested in shagging Jimmy one little bit. What's the world's best secret agent to do? Hold on to your seats, Jimmy Regent is in for one heck of a ride!

   If you know anything about comics, you don't need me to tell you who Garth Ennis is. He's one of modern comics' treasures, mostly because he can do it all: Ennis can write the funny, dark, offensive, irreverent stuff, like Preacher, and Adventures In the Rifle Brigade or he can write the hopeful, heroic stuff, like Dan Dare. In Jimmy's Bastards Ennis creates Jimmy Regent, a biting parody of James Bond, a character that actually goes for the gusto where Bond just tosses about innuendos. But Regent's real super-power, as it were, is his ability to not be offended by anything at all, which is a great power to have if you have a nemesis that's constantly spewing the foulest, most shocking, trigger words that you can possibly imagine. The cool concept is not wasted on me: if you don't want to be offended by anyone or anything, then don't be offended. You can't control others, so you have to get a handle on yourself, which is all you can do. Ennis uses his classic irreverent wit, and a lot of vulgarity, to drive home his point. I guess this is where I kind of felt a bit disappointed that Ennis, brilliant as he is, oversimplified such a complicated matter. Sure, you have to learn to have thick skin, and sure, society may go a bit overboard in trying to protect everyone's feelings; however, it's quite an easy thing for a person of Ennis' particular demographic to say "just get over it" especially when there are people that experience very real harassment, oppression and even threats to their existence.  Be that as it may, Jimmy's Bastards #1 has a few moments that may shock you, make you think, and cause you to emit a tiny chuckle. It is a tick of fun to see such a beloved British character like James Bond exposed for all its absurdity while still resulting in a mildly enjoyable story. Russ Braun's artwork is totally gorgeous and sometimes quite reminiscent of Howard Chaykin's work. From the female form, to classic villains, to that square-jawed action hero of yesteryear, Braun hits all the right notes - and with John Kalisz's inks, this book is a stunner to behold. While this is not a book I'll be continuing, I am sure that it will find an audience with all those who are tired of "too much P.C. in comics (and in the world in general)." It's one of Ennis' more lackluster works (IMHO), but even a lackluster work from a genius is worth checking out. 

RATING: 7 out of 10. 

CAVEAT: NOT FOR KIDS, NOR THOSE OF DELICATE SENSIBILITIES.

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

All Time Comics: Atlas #1




"All Time Comics: Atlas" #1 from Fantagraphics Books -

      Years ago, Johnny Rammond, a city planner, stumbled onto ancient technology that gave him anti-matter-based powers beyond his wildest dreams. As Atlas, Earth's mightiest hero, he takes on all threats to keep the people safe, especially those of his beloved home, Optic City. This time, Atlas is on the trail of a beloved congressman, secretly a powerful super-villain, who is planning to funnel city funds into a vile project to help him achieve his own diabolical ends: world domination. When Atlas attacks the congressmen at a political gathering, the people turn against Atlas, which saps his ability to use his powers. While Atlas cools his heels in jail, the wicked congressman's plot steams ahead, and the two people that Atlas loves most in the world, his best friend, Tobey, and the woman he adores, Suzi, end up directly in danger's menacing crosshairs. Can Atlas recover in time to stop this perverse and poisonous politician, or are the lives of his loved ones forfeit and the world doomed forever? 

    Josh Bayer and Ben Marra come together to concoct this very wild, very violent superhero story in "All Time Comics: Atlas" #1. This thrilling little throwback is what would happen if the Silver Age DC Comics Universe had an illicit affair with underground comix of the late 60s and early 70s. What Bayer and Marra have created is a world that resembles Silver Age DC, but here, the villains have gone morals off and no one is safe. It's a place where superheroes don't back down from a fight, nor do they fear to meet deadly force with deadly force. They also have no qualms about serving the bad guys up their just desserts if they deem it right to do so.  At first, you notice all the hokey, silliness in the story that made the Silver Age such good fun, but things get dark and hectic pretty quickly as they story careens wildly out of control. Sometimes the hero fails, sometimes the good guys lose, not every innocent is going to be rescued, and neither the hero nor his inner circle are immune to suffering. Ben Marra pulls double duty as co-writer and artist, and his art does shine. It's got that quirky underground comix feel to it - but when you pair it up with Matt Rota's expert colors, you've got a book that looks great, sitting squarely somewhere between grotesque and brilliant. And, it's all printed on that classic newsprint, sorry, no glossy pages here; however it does have some wild retro ads, and an insane pin-up meant to be taken out of the book and slapped up on a wall. So cool. $3.99 is still the price, even with cheaper materials, but I didn't find that problematic because the first issue is pretty thick, and the story feels complete. "All Time Comics: Atlas" #1 is just a crazy ride and a Ferris wheel of fun. I can't believe I am digging this. Crazy, man, crazy. 

RATING: 9 out of 10 for silly pseudo-Silver Age fun with a dark twist. 

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