Sunday, February 26, 2017

"The Old Guard Review



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"The Old Guard" #1 from Image Comics -


     Andy is immortal. And she feels all of it. All of the wars, all of the loves, all of the deaths, all of the years - they hang upon her like a boulder, pulling her down into the depths of a sea of loneliness and regret. Yet, she is not alone. Three others, Nicky, Joe and Booker, are men who share Andy's immortal life as well, not as lovers, but as comrades in arms. Time, pain, war, love, and remorse - these have made them aloof, isolated, numb, yet, they still take up arms as mercenaries, warriors for hire, and they are the best in the world. They are highly skilled, and they cannot die. They work in secret, seeking to hide their immortality from the world in order to have some semblance of a normal life. However, when an old C.I.A. contact comes calling, that might just change forever. Andy and her team are contracted to head into Africa on a mission of mercy to save some kidnapped school girls and avenge the murders of their teachers; however, there is more to this mission than meets the eye. And, in Afghanistan, a young soldier named Nile Freeman dies after having her throat slit by an insurgent during a cordon and knock op...But she wakes up, recovering totally unharmed. Is she a new immortal? What does this mean for Nile, and how is she connected to Andy and her group of immortal mercs? What does it mean for them all, and for the world, if their immortality is dragged into the cold light of day?


   Greg Rucka is back again with this supernatural, clandestine, action-drama, "The Old Guard." From the outset of the reader is drawn into the story by being drawn directly into the melancholy thoughts of the protagonist, Andy. Her mind is introduced to us as she narrates a short into about how life, endless life, has exhausted her, and how sweet death has escaped her time and time again. These are bolstered by some gorgeous, visceral images of war, death and sex penciled masterfully be Leandro Fernández. I was captivated from the very first page because the tone that Rucka and Fernández set was like a drumbeat, slow and sad, that I could feel - it was almost hypnotic. Soon we are introduced to Andy's team of immortals, and even though the reader can sense that there is a strong bond between them, we know who is totally, and unquestionably, in charge. We really do not get much backstory on Andy and her group, just that they have lived for thousands of years, and that they are really good at mayhem for money. It seems that they live a life of privilege, making lots of money running clandestine ops, and it seems they live a life of emotional solitude as well, only being truly attached to one another, as all other attachments wither and fade away. They are ghosts, seeking to keep their immortality a secret - but all secrets come out eventually. Further north, a young heroic soldier, Nile Freeman, loses her life in combat and resurrects. I imagine that her take on immortality will be very different from Andy's. Will Andy take her in? Or will the government use her as a weapon against Andy's group if their secret is discovered? How is she connected to Andy's group, and why now, after thousands of years, has another immortal finally appeared? Greg Rucka has written this story tightly, answering some questions, keeping others just out of reach, and populating his story with interesting protagonists on gripping journeys. And Leandro Fernández's art is wonderful - the faces are distinct, the action sequences are jarring, the locations are gorgeous and busy, and his creation of the female form is just a bit Manara-like in its execution. I love this book, and I cannot wait for more.

RATING: 10 out 10. "The Old Guard" looks like it will be another Rucka hit.

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

"No Angel" #1 Review


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"No Angel" #1 from Black Mask Studios -


     Hannah Gregory is a hero. She served with honor in Iraq, and then she came home and signed up to fight crime as an FBI Agent in Chicago. But Hannah has a history she's tried to put behind her, a tense upbringing in Tucker's Mill, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the estrangement isn't going to end happily...Hannah is forced to return home because of the brutal murders of her brother and her father. Hannah is not going to leave this to the small-town justice system; she's going to find out who killed her kin and make them pay dearly - if she can avoid being entangled in her family's nonsense, and if she can stay alive long enough to bring the killer(s) to justice. When Hannah is attacked by a monstrous man with spiders pouring from his eyes, she seeks out her father's mistress, a woman who handed her a cryptic biblical message at her father's and brother's funeral. What she finds with this woman shakes her to the very core, to her very soul. The powers of darkness are real, and they are coming for her...And for her newfound illegitimate sister, a sister with the wings of an angel!!

   The sibling team of Adrianne and Eric Palicki come together to give us this supernatural horror mystery mashup, "No Angel" #1. Eric is a pretty well-known comics creator, and Adrianne, as we know, co-starred in "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." in which she portrayed  Barbara "Bobbi" Morse, AKA Mockingbird. The protagonist of this story, Hannah, bears a striking resemblance to Adrianne, which I am sure is no accident. Hannah is the strong, matter-of-fact, silent type - she's jaded but she still gives a damn about seeing justice done in the world. To me, that makes her a very attractive protagonist. It's interesting that she seems much more daring in combat that she does at home in her small town; she would rather run in front of flying bullets than spend one minute in her hometown with her family. The comic moves forward at a nice clip, giving us clues to the murder-mystery and filling us in on Hannah and her strained relationships in the town along the way. It feels natural, as if it's going to be a pretty straightforward mystery/crime thriller until the creepy killer with spiders falling out of his head attacks Hannah, and we find out that Hannah's dad was in over his head in the supernatural...Oh, and that the lovechild that Hannah's dad produced with his holy scripture-spouting mistress has honest to goodness wings! The story spins in a totally different direction, and just as if is REALLY getting interesting, it's all over with a nice gut-punch flourish at the end. Ari Syahrazad's pencils and inks are competent - he uses space nicely in his panels making them feel wider than they actually are. Jean-Paul Csuka's colors are moody and a bit flat, adding atmosphere to the more creepy parts of the story but making the other parts quite a bit of a bore to look at. All in all, "No Angel" #1 is a pretty good first outing. I think I'll stick around for a few issues and see where it goes. This might make for a cool TV mini-series, or film. Adrianne Palicki deserves to have a show that doesn't get canceled - so far she's starred in two unaired TV pilots: Wonder Woman, and Marvel's Most Wanted

RATING: 8 out of 10. 

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Friday, February 24, 2017

"Black History In Its Own Words" Review

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"Black History In Its Own Words" from Image Comics -


     Featuring the likes of Angela Davis, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Dave Chappelle, James Baldwin, Spike Lee, Audre Lorde, Shirley Chisholm, Sojourner Truth, Nina Simone, Muhammad Ali, and many others, "Black History In Its Own Words," showcases black American profiles in courage and excellence. Blacks who have changed the world (or are doing their best to do so) through technology, music, entertainment, activism, literature, art, science, sports or military service are profiled here in this lavishly illustrated look at the contributions that several exceptional American black people have made to our society and our world.


   Artist and writer, Ronald Wimberly, serves up an important, but breezy, helping of black history with this funky, cool graphic novel, "Black History In Its Own Words"... Although this book is heavy on the graphics and light on the novel. The only narrative that runs through this book is one which shows black American excellence in several of its many forms - from Cathay Williams, a black woman who enlisted in the Union Army disguised as man to fight in the Civil War, to Mykki Blanco, a transgender poet, rapper, performance artist, and activist. Wimberly has taken great pains to be inclusive, ensuring diversity among the influential blacks chosen to be in this book, and not just choosing them solely based on historical precedence. Every person is introduced to the reader with a short bio written by Wimberly, which is then followed by a full page illustration of that person done by Wimberly himself, and a quote that he, she or they uttered in an interview, article, essay, novel, poem, performance, conversation or song. Every illustration is bold, powerful and has a strong, attractive urban dynamism about it that makes it almost seem to be alive:


    The quotes, ranging from powerful and moving, to casual and whimsical, give the reader a captivating glimpse into the minds of the luminaries themselves. But, to be clear: This is not a comic book per se - yes there is awesome artwork, and the individual profiles meld in such a way as to tell a story that has an overarching theme of black American excellence; however, if you are expecting a traditional story with beats, and a beginning, middle and end, then you are definitely not going to like this book at all. Me? I dig this book a lot. It sparked some research on my part and made for some excellent family conversations that were really cool. I'd be up for a volume 2, if Ron Wimberly were so inclined to make it happen. "Black History In Its Own Words" will make an excellent addition to my book collection.

RATING: 9 out of 10.


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Thursday, February 23, 2017

TEX'S BACK-ISSUE QUEST EPISODE #49 (Ebon)


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 My fellow Questers!!

    What's the haps, chaps? I hope all is grits and gravy, baby! Everything is fine as can be in my neck of the woods - I'm looking slick, feeling oh, so good!

    So, what brings me to the keyboard on this fine February day? I have another Black History Month standout just a comin' your way. So, without further ado, I'm gonna skin this here smoke-wagon just for you:


It's my copy of "Ebon" #1, published by San Francisco Comic Book Company in January 1970 (although some accounts claim it was published one month earlier in December of 1969)! This book features the first and final appearance of the black superhero, Ebon!! Ebon is a little-known treasure in comics history, even though it is a very important historical FIRST. 

    "Ebon" #1 tells the story of Valentine Jones, a black man living hard times in the ghetto of an unnamed inner city in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Although poverty, hopelessness, crime and violence are, sadly, every-day occurrences there, this day is particularly horrible for Valentine. Today, he is attending the funeral of his beloved murdered mother, gone forever, just another statistic, another of the countless victims lost to inner city crime. Valentine is angry, raging, fed up. He is angry for and hurt about the loss of his mother. He is angry for the perceived impotence and indifference of the police. He is about to explode when...From the stars comes an advanced alien life-form...A black man, like Valentine. His name is Oju, and he is the imperial messenger of an advanced and godlike race of humanoids. Oju kidnaps Valentine by force, only to tell him the story of Jom, the greatest explorer of his civilization. Near the beginning of man's history, Jom visited Earth, found men in Africa, and taught them advanced ways and science. He married a woman and lived among them, caring for them, until his death. It was then that mankind went awry and learned war, murder and all vile manner of evil. But Jom's descendants still remained, unaware of their heritage and duty. But Oju has found Jom's last descendant, Valentine Jones, and he imbues him with powers far beyond his wildest dreams. The title of the story in "Ebon" #1 says it best: "A Hero Is Born."

   Comics creator, Larry Fuller created, scripted, penciled and inked "Ebon" #1. Fuller is a black Air Force vet who had always had a love for costumed heroes, even though not many looked like him at all. When he left the Air Force at the end of the 1960s, he moved to San Franciso and took classes  with the assistance of the G.I. Bill. It was there in S.F.  that Fuller published his very first work, "Ebon" #1 through the San Francisco Comic Book Company (under what I believe to be Fuller's own Spearhead Comics imprint), a comic books store that was then the main concentration of the underground comix scene. "Ebon" #1 didn't sell well, but Fuller went on to have a lucrative career in adults-only underground comix. And that's all we'll say about that. ON TO THE FUN FACTS!

FUN FACT 1: EBON IS THE FIRST BLACK SUPERHERO TO HEADLINE HIS OWN TITLE!! "Ebon" #1 predates "Luke Cage, Hero For Hire" #1 (the first mainstream black superhero to have his own title) by one year and five (or six) months!

FUN FACT 2: No one knows how many of these comics exist. What is known is that not many were printed, and they are EXTREMELY SCARCE - nearly impossible to find. 

FUN FACT 3: Although this book has never been reprinted, two versions of the first printings exist: one traditionally folded, trimmed and stapled, and one left version left untrimmed with a white edge peeking out past the black ink border. It is unknown which is rarer - collectors usually scramble to have any copy that they can get their hands on.

FUN FACT 4: It is thought that Fuller modeled his artwork on panels done by some of his favorite artists (Like Gil Kane and John Buscema). In comics jargon, it called swiping.

FUN FACT 5: You may not be able to find this comic to own it, but thanks to modern technology, you can read it HERE.

   I am proud to say that I own a copy of this comic. I will be glad to see it take its rightful place in comics history some day.

   Thanks for reading! Happy Trails!


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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

TEX'S BACK-ISSUE QUEST EPISODE #48 (Lobo)


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Hello again, fellow QUESTERS!!

    The man from down Texas-way is back again to make your heads spin with some more great comic book knowledge that you can't get in college!

    I was just scrolling through my posts, and I realized that I'd not paid homage to Black History Month at all! So, it's time to rectify that terrible oversight with a long-forgotten character who just happens to occupy the space of a VERY important first in comics history:


    Feast your eyes on..."Lobo" #1 published by Dell Comics in December of 1965!! Lobo was created by D.J. Arneson and Tony Tallarico. This issue features the first appearance of Lobo, a hard-fighting, straight-shootin', black western hero!! Yep, this is my lovely copy.

    Lobo was a Union soldier during the Civil War who served with honor, but who, after being discharged, he decides to go west and become a cowboy. He longed for a life of peace, but he ended up having to prove to his white colleagues that he was just a good a cowboy as any of them. Lobo sought to earn their respect through hard work and patience with his mistreatment, but sometimes, he just had to stand up and give some guys the whuppin' they deserved. Soon, he is blamed for a murder he didn't commit and has to go on the run to prove his innocence since it is highly unlikely that the color of his skin would afford him a fair trial in that day and time. Not long after, Lobo saves the life of a wealthy prospector, a prospector who himself has been accused of a crime that he also didn't commit. This forms a friendly bond between the two men. After all hopes of ever proving his innocence are dashed with the death of the real killer, Lobo returns to this same prospector only to find him dying. With his final breath, the old miner leaves Lobo his fortune and charges him with using it to do some good in the world.

   I loved this story so much, I even own the second, and last, issue:



     Here is my copy of "Lobo" #2, printed by Dell in September of 1966.

     Lobo was a comic that was ahead of its time, and yet long overdue. It boasted a black protagonist that was handy with his fists and with those steel smokewagons, as well as being strong, loyal, upstanding and brave. This was a step in a different direction from the ways that blacks had been represented in comics up to this time - the only exceptions being Lothar, the friend of Mandrake the Magician, and Waku, Prince of the Bantu. It is important to point out that black heroes shown in any positive light before this time were African, and not black Americans (with the exception of sports heroes like Jesse Owens). Blacks were usually presented as big-lipped characters and/or comic relief, like Captain Marvel's valet Steamboat, or The Spirit's sidekick, Ebony White - this is unsurprising as these were often the roles blacks had in Hollywood films (see Eddie "Rochester" Anderson). However, when D.J. Arneson read Philip Durham's and Everett L. Jones' book, "The Negro Cowboy," a book about the lives of the Buffalo Soldiers who went west after the Civil War to become cowboys, Arneson knew that he just had to create a character that showcased the experiences of blacks in that age. So, he conceived Lobo, a character that was part Buffalo Soldier, part Lone Ranger and part Robin Hood. He tapped freelance artist, Tony Tallarico, to draw the book and Dell took the chance at publishing it. Unfortunately, the world wasn't ready for a double-tough, hard-hitting, sharp-shooting black character that was quick on the draw, slow to anger and rough on the bad guys. This series only lasted two issues, with issue #2 printed nearly a year apart from issue #1, and then it quietly faded into comics obscurity. Gone, but not forgotten by comics enthusiasts and historians like me, Lobo will live on as a very important part of comics history...ON TO THE THE FUN FACTS!

FUN FACT 1: Lobo is THE FIRST BLACK HERO IN HISTORY to have his own title. These issues are extremely scarce...And in higher grades, fugheddaboudit!!

FUN FACT 2: The first mainstream black African superhero was Marvel's Black Panther who debuted in July of 1966, seven months after Dell's Lobo.

FUN FACT 3: The first black American superhero was The Falcon who debuted in September of 1969, almost four years after Lobo.

FUN FACT 4: The black American superhero with his own title was Ebon, an obscure underground comic; however, the first mainstream black American superhero to have his title was Luke Cage.

NOT-SO-FUN FACT 5: Several black American writers and artists came together in 1947 and created "All Negro Comics" #1, full of great stories that tried to break the stereotypes of the day. Sadly, further publication was subtly blocked from publication by the intolerant publishers of that day and time. Copies of this comic are beyond scarce - I am always looking for one for my collection in suitable condition and suitably priced.

FUN FACT 6: Who exactly created this character is hard to verify. Arneson says that he conceived and created the character, inspired by the book, "The Negro Cowboy." He further states that he plotted the story and scripted it, and Tony was only hired to pencil it. However, Tony Tallarico has stated that he conceived Lobo and the plot of the story which Arneson only scripted. Who's telling the truth? The answer may be lost to history; however, in 2006, Tallarico was awarded the Pioneer Award For Lifetime Achievement by the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention.

NOT-SO-FUN FACT 7: Some say that as much as 80% percent, or more, of these comics were returned to Marvel as unsold comics simply because they were never even taken out of the box to be offered for sale at all. It was just a very different world, a world in which a black cowboy with a gun on a comic book cover would be just the thing to cause retailers to keep it off the shelves.

FUN FACT 8: Lobo's real name was never revealed.

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

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Friday, February 17, 2017

TEX'S BACK-ISSUE QUEST EPISODE #47 (John Constantine)



Hey there friends!

   TEX is back again! What do I have for my fellow Questers this week? We're continuing our journey with Justice League Dark with one of the DARKEST anti-heroes ever created...



JOHN CONSTANTINE!! So, where did the right bastard we know and love have his beginning? Right here:



These are my two lovely copies of "The Saga of the Swamp Thing" #37 published by DC Comics in 1985 (direct copy and newsstand copy!!). Here, we have the first appearance of John Constantine. John Constantine was created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben - three master comics creators who came together and dreamt up one of the most enduring, engrossing and interesting anti-heroes in comics history.

     John Constantine is a troubled, wise-cracking, occult detective. He is highly adept at magic, and he is daring and cunning enough to confound high-level supernatural beings. Constantine is a descendant of the Laughing Magicians, men who were gifted, powerful and amazingly clever magicians who often used their powers to trick and make fools of higher beings. It seemed that from birth Constantine was doomed to a terrible fate, having strangled his own brother with his umbilical cord in his mother's womb. John's upbringing was turbulent, to say the least: his father was a violent alcoholic, a hateful man whom John eventually consigned to terrible suffering with a horrible curse...But John Constantine hadn't learned his lesson about toying with the occult. Not by a long shot.

   Eventually, after traveling about for a while, Constantine found himself in Newcastle trying to stop a demon conjured by a terribly abused child, Astra Logue. He and several of his occultist friends summoned their own demon to stop the other - unfortunately, since they had not summoned their demon by its true name, Nergal, they had absolutely no power to stop it from following its own agenda - an agenda which included tormenting Constantine's friends, the Newcastle Crew, and dragging young Astra screaming to Hell.

   Later, John Constantine would appear to Swamp Thing in the swamps of Lousiana to teach him various truths about what he truly was (a Plant Elemental connected to all plants of Earth by a force called The Green), introduce him to the Parliament of Trees, and to send him on various missions in which he met with and overcame various dark forces. In time, Constantine and Swamp Thing would team with other occult heroes (John Zatara, Zatanna, Dr. Occult, Mento, Baron Winters, and Sargon The Sorcerer) to stop the universal threat of The Great Darkness.

   John Constantine's power and cunning would grow - and he would need all of it, as over the years he has faced threats horrific enough to drive any man insane. From human serial killers to demons, to cults, to psychics, to angels, to Satan himself (The First of The Fallen), Constantine has taken them all on and won...With a great many casualties. On to the FUN FACTS!!

FUN FACT 1 - John Constantine's appearance was based on that of Sting. Totleben and Bissette were fans of his group, The Police, and Sting lived in Newcastle.

FUN FACT 2 - Most of Constantine's friends end up dead, that is why he is haunted by their silent ghosts who accuse him with their expressions. John often avoids the repercussions of what he does - he friends aren't so lucky. Only Chas has escaped...So far.

FUN FACT 3: John Constantine is the epitome of punk rock. He is a wizard that, when he was conceived, was unlike the magic practitioners before him, and he didn't care to be. He did things his way, with a  reckless, devil-may-care, morally ambiguous swagger that mirrored the attitudes that the punk rockers of the day exuded. Constantine loves The Sex Pistols, and even once headed a punk band called Mucous Membrane with his friend, Gary Lester. While I believe that older readers and comics enthusiasts (40s and up) really understand how Constantine's punk roots resonated with readers of the 80s, readers who themselves remember those times and bands which changed the music scene, and our minds, forever, I often wonder if newer readers really get this. It's almost like Constantine, like Captain America, is a man out of time now.

FUN FACT 4: Constantine had a long-running title published under DC's Vertigo imprint named "Hellblazer." If you haven't read it, please do (I still have issue #1 around here somewhere). I am not a stickler for reading every issue of any series, but Hellblazer is one of the few exceptions (along with "Resurrection Man" (vol 1), "Preacher," "The Question" (vol 1), "Sandman" (Vertigo), "Secret Origins" (vol 2), "Miracleman" (vol 1), "Saga of the Swamp Thing" and "Swamp Thing" (vol 2), "Secret Warriors," and "Avengers" (vol 5), and "Ultimate Spider-Man" (vol 1)).

FUN FACT 5: Constantine isn't afraid of demons...but needles terrify him.

FUN FACT 6: Keanu Reeves played Constantine in 2005's live-action film, "Constantine."




The film was a financial success but got mixed reviews. I really enjoyed the film as a fun supernatural mystery, but not as an actual Constantine film. Reeves did a great job and the story was stellar; however, Reeves just wasn't able to channel Constantine's spirit, and he surely didn't fit the physical look. And a Constantine that isn't a Brit (or someone that can at least play one well)? No, thank you.

FUN FACT 7: In 2014, DC hit gold when it scored Matt Ryan to bring Constantine to the small screen:



Much more in line with "Hellblazer," this TV show was, to put it simply, THE BEES KNEES!! It was an amazing show...Sadly, it only lasted one season before the chickens at NBC pulled it from the air. Ryan has since appeared as Constantine on "Arrow," and as the voice of Constantine on the new animated film "Justice League Dark." If you haven't seen this series, buy the DVD or blu ray. You will not be sorry.

FUN FACT 8: Old "Hellblazer" comics can be read here: Hellblazer. You're welcome.

FUN FACT 9: Constantine smokes Silk Cut cigarettes...They eventually caused his lung cancer - a death which he avoided by tricking the three rulers of Hell into thinking that each would possess his soul after death. When they all appeared to collect, they realized there was nothing to be done, unless they called down the wrath of heaven by starting a war between themselves and their factions. Pretty sneaky.

FUN FACT 10: Constantine's blood is demonically tainted. He received a blood transfusion from a demon once...And...Umm...He boinked a succubus. This makes him taste horrible to vampires, and his blood has healing properties.

FUN FACT 11: Although Constantine doesn't look like much, he is a master tactician, and con-man. He possesses a vast knowledge of the occult and has been shown to possess many magic-based skills from summoning (of entities), to pyromancy, to necromancy, to divination, to spirit warding, to dimensional travel, to exorcism, and much more. Constantine is like the undefeatable Batman of magic.

FUN FACT 12: In 2013, DC published "Constantine" (vol 1). I'll just be nice here - it sure wasn't "Hellblazer." Not even close.

FUN FACT: 13: It looks like a live-action Justice League Dark film is moving forward without Guillermo del Toro: "Warner Bros. Wants Dark Universe to be 'Unconventional'"

FUN FACT 14: Swamp Thing once used Constantine's body to impregnate his human wife, Abigail. The result is a human Earth Elemental, Tefé Holland. True story.

FUN FACT 15: Alan Moore brilliantly used John Constantine as the catalyst to bring DC's forgotten occult heroes back into the limelight.

FUN FACT 16: Alan Moore, Constantine's co-creator, is also a practitioner of magic. And a self-proclaimed anarchist. Yep.

   Well, I am spent. That's all for today! Enjoy your weekend and happy trails!!

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Curse Words #1 Review




"Curse Words" #1 from Image Comics -

     In present day New York (of course) a man appears in mid-air in a blinding flash of light and power. His presence would be the beginning of a new age of wonder for our mundane world, a world untouched by the white-hot fingers of magic. Wizord has come to us from another place, another dimension - a dimension in which the people are held in the evil thrall of powerful wielders of magic. The most powerful of these, Sizzajee, lords over all in that realm, and has sent Wizord, his favorite disciple, to our world to take it and all its denizens for the glory and power of Sizzajee. However, the unexpected, no, the impossible occurs: Wizord appears to fall in love with our world, and begins to set himself up as our new guardian, a mystical protector, and grantor of wishes who is "just here to help". This thrusts Wizord into direct and destructive conflict with Sizzajee and his mighty magical minions. As Wizord begins prepare for the battles to come, knowing that his betrayal will not go unpunished, his first challenger arrives - an insane sorcerer named Cornwall who just wants to show Wizord the error of his ways with some creepy, supernatural, tainted love. Can Wizord defeat Cornwall so that our planet lives to see another day? What about Sizzajee's other minions, one of which is the ruthless and powerful Ruby Stitch, Wizord's former flame? And just what does Wizord mean when he says that he's here to help? Will the world really be under his protection...Or crushed under his heel?

    Charles Soule has hit this one right out of the freaking park! Soule has penned a science fantasy story that has a stellar protagonist that I latched onto right at the outset of the book. Soule takes us on a journey with Wizord, a journey in which the reader is always off-balance, and never quite sure of what the protagonist might do. Is he good? Is he evil? Does he really want to save us, or does he really want to corrupt and rule us? What does he truly want and what does that mean for us? We begin the story with Wizord committing an atrocious act, later, he seems to slowly soften towards humanity, and then the story ends with him coldly committing another atrocity without batting an eye. Besides being in the dark about Wizord's motivations, we are also not sure that he is powerful enough to stand up to Sizzajee, nor his minions - especially the vicious Ruby Stitch, Wizord's ex, about whom he seems to have particularly strong emotions. Does he love her, hate her, or just fear her? What could Wizord have possibly found in New York City that would cause him to risk such a terrible, and seemingly unwinnable, fight? Brilliantly, Soule has given us a first installment that feels full, complete, and fun; however; it has also left us with many unanswered questions which make the reader hunger for more. And Ryan Browne's artwork alone is worth the price of admission. While his characters sometimes look a bit stiff, there is no denying that Browne puts all he has onto the pages. "Curse Words" #1 shows off Browne's Kirby-esque work ethic with panels that overwhelm by their sheer volume, busyness and dynamism. One can almost see Browne sweating over this book - and it is a wonder to behold. Soule's iron-clad writing and Browne's boundlessly energetic pencils make "Curse Words" #1 a comic not to be missed, and a surefire hit. If you love wizards, weapons and warriors, "Curse Words" is just the story that you've been waiting for.

RATING: 10 out of 10. "Curse Words" is magically awesome.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into my LCS and found six copies of the Gold Foil Retailer's Appreciation Variant of "Curse Words" #1 celebrating Image's 25th anniversary! I don't usually buy many variants but...



   Happy birthday, Image Comics! Thank you for changing the comics landscape forever!

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Sunday, February 5, 2017

TEX'S BACK-ISSUE QUEST EPISODE #46 Zatanna



Happy Sunday my fellow Questers!!

    I hope you are having a wonderful weekend, and I hope that you have a great time with family and friends tonight watching Super Bowl LI!!

   I am back to fulfill a promise to you: we are continuing our journey into...JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK!! Today, we'll talk about one of the founding members...



It's Zatanna, Mistress of Magic!!! Zatanna was created by comic-creator legends, Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson.


Here are my TWO cool copies of "Hawkman" vol. 1, #4, published by DC Comics in November of 1964. These feature the very first appearance of Zatanna, Mistress of Magic!! Yep, I own TWO copies. Sweet, right?

But who is Zatanna? Glad you asked!

   Zatanna Zatara is the daughter of Giovanni "John" Zatara, a stage magician who also happened to have the power to use real magic. He used his powers as a successful stage magician and as a well-known vigilante. Zatara fell in love with a woman named Sindella who was a Homo magi, and it was from this union that Zatanna was born. But the happiness of the couple would be short lived, as a series of unfortunate events seemed to spiral Zatara's life downwards soon after. First, his wife apparently died, then he was helpless to stop the deaths of his friends Thomas and Martha Wayne - all these things soon brought Zatara low enough to find solace at the bottom of an empty liquor bottle. However, when a young Bruce Wayne showed up at his doorstep seeking to become an illusionist and escape artist, things would begin to look up for the old magician. It was then that Bruce and Zatanna would meet and begin to forge the strong bond of friendship that exists between them to this very day.

   Accounts differ on the exact time-frame, but sometime in Zatanna's adolescence, her father, Zatara, disappeared. With the help of Batman and others, Zatanna investigated Zatara's disappearance and strengthened her ability to wield her magic in the process. She assisted the Justice League of America with several threats before being reunited with her father and being given full-fledged membership in the League.  In her time with the League, Zatanna helped the Justice League defeat many threats, mystical and otherwise, and blossomed into one of the most powerful sorceresses in the DCU, and a true hero. Zatanna would become a founding member of Justice League Dark soon after the Justice League's failed attempts to stop the Enchantress who had gone insane from being separated from her host, June Moon. On to the FUN FACTS!!

FUN FACT 1: Zatanna found out her parents were alive. She was reunited with her them only to have them taken away from her again. They both gave their lives to save hers:


From: "Swamp Thing" Vol 2, #50

FUN FACT 2: Zatanna inherited her abilities from her parents, and continues to perfect them through hard work. Her abilities include healing, flight (if necessary), teleportation, telekinesis, reality alterations, elemental control, weather manipulation, astral projection, time travel and control, and so much more. And she is multilinguistic and trained in advanced hand-to-hand combat techniques. 

FUN FACT 3: Zatanna has been very close friends with Bruce Wayne/Batman since they were young. She almost destroyed their friendship when she chose, along with several other League members, to magically wipe Dr. Light's mind so that he would no longer be a threat to them or their families (Dr. Light was a serial rapist - he had just raped Sue Dibny, wife of The Elongated Man). When Batman tried to stop this, she wiped his mind as well. When he later discovered what she had done, his trust in her was severely broken. Seemingly, their relationship has recovered now. 

FUN FACT 4: Zatanna has tampered with minds other than Batman's and Dr. Light's. Catwoman's turn from villain to hero was attributed to Zatanna's mind manipulation.

FUN FACT 5: Zatanna is held by fans as one of the sexiest female superheroes in the DCU. She is usually drawn quite voluptuously by artists and her revealing attire (complete with fishnet stockings) is controversial in that it caters to male eyes...and it is very impractical. However, this hasn't stopped her female fanbase from growing, neither has it stopped legions of cosplayers from paying homage to the Mistress of Magic.

FUN FACT 6: Although she doesn't need them to use her powers, Zatanna often uses a magician's top-hat and a magic wand.

FUN FACT 7: Zatanna practices Logomancy - activating spells by speaking backward to cast them.

FUN FACT 8: Zatanna owns a mansion named Shadowcrest where all her powerful mystical artifacts and her immense occult library are kept secure.  It is the ancestral home of the Zatara family, and it is warded against threats, mystical or otherwise. Besides this...the mansion has been known to, er...move itself to different locations. 

FUN FACT 9: No one knows the extent of the power Zatanna possesses, nor the number of abilities. 

FUN FACT 10: Zatanna will be featured in the upcoming animated film, "Justice League Dark":


Cool, right?

    That's all for today!! Enjoy the Super Bowl...And may the Magic be with you all!!

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Inspector Oh #2 Review




"Inspector Oh" #2 from Devils Due/1First Comics -


    Ziyi, the world's greatest exorcist, has come to hell to save her brilliant, but kooky, uncle, Inspector Oh. Oh came to hell on a mission eight years ago and was never heard from again, but now, Ziyi has found him and with the help of a magical pearl, restored him back to flesh and blood life. But...There are just a few hiccups in Oh's giddyup. He seems to have been hanging out with Meng Po down in the lowest regions of hell. Meng Po's Five Flavored Tea of Forgetfulness makes souls forget their past lives in order to be reincarnated, and Inspector Oh can't remember a darn thing - who he is, nor why he came to hell. This really sucks for Ziyi because he's useless this way...And they have a horde of demons ready to tear them apart to make sure no one escapes from hell. Can Ziyi, and her mighty, magic, shape-shifting weapon hold off the demon horde long enough for Inspector Oh to figure a way out of this mess, or is Inspector Oh dead...Again?


   The Yuan Twins, Matt and John, keep the fun rolling in issue two of "Inspector Oh." I reviewed issue #1 a few months ago, and I really enjoyed it very much. I enjoyed issue #2 as well. Why? Well, John Yuan's artwork is clean, simple, cartoonlike, and often, quite zany - the book is just a lot of fun to look at. The story is chock full of very entertaining and interesting Chinese lore bolstered by American-style humor and silliness. "And the best part: Detective Oh" #2 is an all-ages comic - it's interesting enough for an adult and full of cartoony fun for kids - you can hand this comic right to your child and be confident that it is all about fun and adventure. No sex, drugs, gore or proselytization of any type. That's pretty rare in comics. Does the "Inspector Oh" #2 have issues? Sure. Sometimes it feels flighty and disjointed - the writing is not quite as tight as in issue #1; however, it this only the second issue of the series, and I feel that the potential this series possesses far outweighs its problems. If you take this comic for what it is, in all its simplicity, and just let yourself read and relax, I'm sure that you will be entertained. After the insane day I had, I was happy to escape it all for a few minutes with Inspector Oh. Once The Yuans tighten up the writing, this series will make a really cool animated film or cartoon series.

RATING: 7.5 out of 10.

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