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COMIC REVIEWS FOR 8/14/19

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These meet-cutes are becoming a bit much.

EVERY WEDNESDAY BRINGS NEW COMICS FOR REVIEW!

It’s time to find out what’s new on your local comic book shelf!

Marvel Comics

ABSOLUTE CARNAGE – SEPARATION ANXIETY #1
Marvel Comics

Writers: Clay McCleod Chapman
Artist: Brian Level
Cover Price:  $4.99

Okay. Marvel is getting much better at scaring people.

This tie-in to Marvel’s ongoing Spider-Man event is written with the kind of up-and-down pacing that horror movies often use. The character dialogue was very good, although the monsters’ dialogue is downright chilling. None of the characters in it are superheros or even known Marvel characters. However, this story is an incredible spotlight within the larger story. I hope this comic is used as a template for the larger event.

Absolute Carnage: Separation Anxiety #1 – Marvel Comics

Meanwhile, Brian Level’s event is not a style I enjoy. His outer lines are good, although he prefers to use small scratch lines for details. In addition, he draws small irises, making character eyes appear beady. With that said, Level’s art matches the story exceptionally. The small lines give every panel a jittery feel that adds to the underlying tension. The character motion has the right amount of frantic fluidity to keep the horror vibe intact.

Take two parts Marvel history and add one part Stranger Things, and you have what you can expect from this comic.

Image Comics

THE WHITE TREES #1 (of 2)
Image Comics

Writers: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Kris Anka
Cover Price:  $4.99
(Special Note: This comic is for Mature Readers)

None of this was what I expected.

Chip Zdarsky has built an interesting story here. The characters are fun and the dialogue plays well. However, it is hard to say how much depth the characters have. This is the first issue and, although it is over-sized, we appear to be moving from scene to scene rather quickly. The story isn’t new, but it is entertaining because of how well-told it is. It is a mature tale, though, so do not pick this up for your fantasy-loving kids.

The White Trees #1 – Image Comics

Kris Anka has come a LONG way since helping launch the second era of Captain Marvel for Marvel Comics. His art has become much more detailed and nuanced. In fact, Anka has one of the characters as so stone-faced and unreadable, I’m comfortable calling them monolithic. Additionally, the action has great snap and impact. Actually, the designs of these characters are very non-typical and are likely to start many conversations about how characters should look in comics.

This comic is good enough to be the beginning of an ongoing story. For now, I’ll be satisfied with seeing how this two-part story concludes.

DC Comics

CATWOMAN #14
DC Comics

Writers: Ram V
Artist: Mirka Andolfo
Cover Price:  $3.99

I was drawn in by the Artgerm variant cover and it has been a while since I read any Catwoman stories. Now feels good.

I am unfamiliar with Ram V and my first reading comes with positives and negatives. On the positive side, I like the independent streak he makes very apparent in Selina Kyle. Additionally, the scenario feels both specialized for Catwoman yet easy enough to understand as a jump in point. On the negative side, there’s a couple too many coincidences in this comic for my liking. Moreover, the pace of the story is too quick. If you stretched this comic into two issues, you would have a better chance to build tension.

Catwoman #14 – DC Comics

Mirka Andolfo is a well known creator (especially for his original story Unnatural) and he is finding his path very quickly. His style hovers between Western comics and Korean manhwa. His body proportions are good. Meanwhile, the action has a great flow. With that said, I’m not sure Andolfo’s style is a good fit for this particular story. A lot of it is laid out like a fight scene in the Captain America: Winter Soldier movie. This issue could use a bit darker of an art style to match the story.

This is a decent comic with a couple of minor problems. I can’t say it makes me a Catwoman fan, although it is a better story than the character usually gets.

BOOM! Studios

PICK OF THE WEEK
ONCE AND FUTURE #1
BOOM! Studios

Writers: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Dan Mora
Cover Price:  $3.99

How good does a comic have to be to sell out the first issue before comes out?

Keiron Gillen has been on fire with series like The Wicked & The Devine and DIE. He is continuing that hot streak with this story. Everything about the writing has been outstanding thus far. The pacing of this comic is great! I actually didn’t notice it is an over-sized 30 pages until I was done! The dialogue is hilarious without being a series of one-liners. Moreover, this comic shows a cinematic imagination and an unusual way of looking at the world. This is the kind of issue that drags you in for more!

Once & Future #1 – BOOM! Studios

Dan Mora handles the art here with style. He uses an update of classic comic book styles. Thick outer lines and smaller detail work. Mora excels in his use of detail lines. He uses just enough lines to imply is gradients and shapes. This gives the images have an extremely clean feel. In fact, Mora’s attention to detail extends to the backgrounds. This is one of the visually deepest comics I have ever read. Ever panel has a three-dimensional quality. Meanwhile, the character expressions are amazing and easy to read.

Once & Future #1 – BOOM! Studios

I have to give two special shout-outs on this issue. First is the colors. Because of Tamra Bonvillain’s colors, the visuals are very rich and organic. A lot of these scenes could fit as key panels in a good cartoon. Meanwhile, the second shout-out goes to the unusual interpretation of Britannic mythology. The off-beat version of it has created a story that is more intriguing by the minute. I cannot wait to see what’s next!

How good does a comic have to be to sell out the first issue before comes out? At least as good as Once & Future #1!

What is your favorite part of comic book history? Let us know in the comments below! 

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 8/7/19

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 7/31/19

Overwatch League Homecoming 2020

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Overwatch League Seasons

Overwatch League 2019 is coming to an end, and as we inch closer to the season’s conclusion, Blizzard has made some noticeable changes for 2020. 2020 will be the first year of home games, and maybe the last depending on how it goes. Instead of playing all their matches in Los Angeles, teams will play in venues scattered around the globe.

2020 Divisions

The League was initially split into two divisions, Atlantic and Pacific, which was done to prepare for eventual home games. These divisions are now the Atlantic and Pacific Conferences. Because this extensive travel is bound to take a toll on the players, these conferences will split further into four divisions: Atlantic North, Atlantic South, Pacific East, and Pacific West. Here’s a list of all the teams and the division they fall under:

Overwatch League 2019 Teams Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Atlantic Conference

North Division

Boston Uprising, London Spitfire, New York Excelsior, Paris Eternal, Toronto Defiant

South Division

Atlanta Reign, Florida Mayhem, Houston Outlaws, Philadelphia Fusion, Washington Justice

Pacific Conference

East Division

Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, Shanghai Dragons, Seoul Dynasty

West Division

Dallas Fuel, Los Angeles Valiant, Los Angeles Gladiators, San Francisco Shock, Vancouver Titans

New Schedule

In 2020, each team will host two homestands, similar to the Dallas Fuel Homestand earlier this year. On top of this, teams in each division will collectively host three additional events somewhere in their home territories. There will be 52 homestand events in total throughout the season.

The 2020 season begins in February and ends in August. Each team will play 28 matches over the course of the regular season. Teams will face in-conference opponents twice and out-of-conference teams once. The full 2020 schedule will be released sometime this month with tickets going on sale shortly after.

Playoffs

The League’s 2020 season will not have stages like it does right now. This is due to traveling and scheduling. Instead, there will be a midseason All-Stars event. Games will also occur every weekend, no breaks between playoffs, but teams will still have breaks during their bye weeks.  At the end of the season, the best teams will come together to determine the winner of the Grand Finals.

Overwatch League Stage Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

We’ll have to wait and see if this change in location affects the games in any way. Regardless, I think the 2020 season offers a new distinction between previous seasons. Perhaps this marks the transition into eSports becoming more widely accepted as a sport? Even if not, I’m looking forward to seeing some phenomenal games next season.

The Future Of Gaming Looks Brighter Than Ever

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Future of Gaming VR

What will the future of gaming look like?

Video games have come a long way over the last few decades. While classics like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and Super Mario might still be beloved, they’re no longer as popular as they once were. These classics have been replaced by games like Fortnite and Call of Duty, which feature incredible graphics, detailed storylines, and tons of excitement. Now, gamers are looking towards the future.

In a way, the future of video games is already here, thanks to recent improvements in the technology behind augmented and virtual reality. But it’s about to get a whole lot more exciting as VR tech and gadgets continue to improve. Below, we’ll look at some of the ways that the gaming industry is already taking advantage of the tech of the future, and where the future of gaming might be headed.

AR and VR in Video Games

The future of gaming definitely lies in augmented and virtual reality. VR gaming is, essentially, what video games have been trying to do all along — which is to allow gamers to escape into a virtual world — but far better, since you’re now virtually “transported” into that world. Expect VR gaming to more closely resemble the world of Ready Player One in the future with more life-like graphics and improved suits and gear to help you better experience your VR environment.

AR brings the excitement of video games to real life, allowing you to bring some of the magic of your favorite worlds — like Pokemon or Harry Potter — to your everyday world. In the future, AR gaming might be brought to you in the form of AR goggles to more seamlessly blend the real and the virtual. But developers are also experimenting with wearable devices, like wrist pulses that will allow you to feel the virtual world.

VR Casino Games

VR is also dramatically changing casino games, allowing you to completely immerse yourself in virtual worlds while playing your favorite games. Take for example PokerStars VR, which offers poker fans a new way to play the game. You’ll be inserted into a virtual world with other players from around the world where you can play poker, study your opponents, and even have fun at the table with food or props.

But this is only the beginning of casino VR games, and even PokerStars VR is still in its infancy. In the near future, we might be able to virtually travel to our favorite casinos worldwide, or even visit virtual casinos that “exist” on other planets where you can interact with aliens while playing your favorite games.

Future VR Gaming

5G and Mobile Gaming

Mobile gaming is being heralded as the future of gaming now that mobile phones are getting more powerful every year. Plus, with upcoming 5G technology, mobile gaming will be much improved and able to function at high speeds without any lag. With a better connection and better phones, games will be able to be a lot more complex, so expect to see more VR and AR games for mobile phones in the near future.

For many people, mobile games are more accessible than PC or console games, whether due to price or simply because their phone is with them wherever they go. So, naturally, this will help VR and AR to further grow in popularity and infiltrate mainstream culture.

The Growing Popularity of eSports

ESports games are now becoming so popular that the industry is rivaling the real-life sports industry. This is especially true for younger generations, where more and more people are beginning to prefer sports video games to their real-life counterparts. Because of eSports’ popularity, universities are now offering eSports teams and even eSports majors. There are also global tournaments with million-dollar prize pools, gamers that earn a salary for playing eSports, and stadiums being constructed specifically for eSports competitions, among so much more.

This is all extremely promising for the eSports industry, and you can expect eSports to be taken even more seriously in the near future. It soon may truly rival real-life sports with more stadiums, national teams, widespread eSports betting, and Q and As with your favorite players. It might even become a staple of the Olympics.

With all of the above technology and changes, there’s no doubt that this is an exciting time for the world of gaming. The future might already be here, but there’s still a lot to look forward to.

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 8/7/19

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Absolute Carnage #1 - Marvel Comics
Well... your puberty must be fun.

MORE OF THE LATEST COMICS REVIEWED FOR YOUR READING!

We pulled more of the latest issues for review, however, there is a clear favorite for Pick of the Week!

Absolute Carnage #1 - Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

ABSOLUTE CARNAGE #1
Marvel Comics

Writers: Donny Cates
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Cover Price:  $7.99

This event has been relentlessly teased over the last few months.  Does it deserve all of the work that’s gone into it?

Donny Cates succeeds in scaring me.  While events with Carnage feel very similar to me, Absolute Carnage seriously punches up the threat.  The story has the prerequisite MacGuffins to find and pyrrhic allies.  Meanwhile, the dialogue for both Eddie Brock and Spider-Man is well in-character.  In addition, the dialogue for both also strongly establish the threat that this version of Carnage presents.  There is also pervasive darkness and urgency throughout this over-sized issue.  After reading this comic, I am ready for more.

Absolute Carnage #1 - Marvel Comics
Absolute Carnage #1 – Marvel Comics

Additionally, Ryan Stegman’s art ramps up the storytelling.  I will start by saying that his style isn’t generally to my interest.  Stegman prefers lots of thin lines for details, and it can usually muddle things.  However, Stegman’s art matches the dark tone by adding a serious amount of solid blacks to make more of the pages appear heavy or foreboding.  This combined with the think detail lines and exaggerated facial features common in Stegman’s style creates a bizarre sense of urgency that gets translated to the reader.  This is all storytelling synergy.

Absolute Carnage is not as terrifying to me as Immortal Hulk… However, it is close, and this is only the first issue.  This has gone from a “meh” to a must-read.

Sinestro: Year of the Villain #1 - DC Comics
DC Comics

SINESTRO – YEAR OF THE VILLAIN #1
DC Comics

Writers: Mark Russell
Artist: Yildiray Cinar
Cover Price:  $4.99

If only all of the villain-centric issues DC puts out could be this good.

Mark Russell could have easily written the usual mustache-twirling, stereotypical super-villain.  Instead, Russell went the other direction.  Sinestro is depicted as a master of subterfuge, manipulation, and foresight.  I am surprised by how natural this move is.  This could have been another show of power of one of DC’s most prominent nemeses. Moreover, most of the story has exposition via internal monologue.  In those boxes, Russell avoids any talk of Hal Jordan or any Green or Yellow Lanterns.  This is just a story of Sinestro’s deviousness and the isolation lets him shine.

Sinestro: Year of the Villain #1 - DC Comics
Sinestro: Year of the Villain #1 – DC Comics

The art by Yildiray Cinar is not bad, however it isn’t a standout.  Don’t get me wrong.  There is nothing really wrong with the art.  The outer lines are bold to add pop to the charcters.  The detail is small, though a bit scratchy.  Mini-lines are used for gradients.  The backgrounds are decent.  Meanwhile, action in this issue is a bit cluttered, but easy to follow.  Even the backgrounds have enough details to be interesting.  My issue is that there is no standout aspect of the art.  It is all good, however this comic needs something outstanding to the visuals.  People may disagree with me, although that is how I feel about it.

Despite its faults, this is a good issue.  I only hope DC’s editorial keeps this nuanced Sinestro for more stories.

Coffin Bound #1 - Image Comics
Image Comics

COFFIN BOUND #1
Image Comics

Writers: Dan Waters
Artist: Dani
Cover Price:  $3.99

Well, this is certainly an interesting ride.

Dan Waters’ dialogue is the standout part of this issue.  The dialogue has a near lyrical quality to it that feels like it adds a certain poetry to the harsh nature of the story.  It is the comic-book equivalent of HBO’s Deadwood.  The characters are as mercurial as the rest of the story.  However, the mystery adds to the mystique of this comic.

Coffin Bound #1 - Image Comics
Coffin Bound #1 – Image Comics

The artist is Dani and they have an interesting style.  While their characters are easily expressive enough to imply emotion, there is a bit of energy missing from the motion.  There is a lack of inertia that hampers both the action and the character’s movements.  Meanwhile, everything has an odd etherial feel that does add to the comic’s story.  Moreover, there’s interesting details sprinkled everywhere that are up to the reader to imagine their importance.

I cannot say for sure if I do or do not like this comic.  Although, I can say that I want to see how it ends.

House of X #2 - Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

PICK OF THE WEEK
HOUSE OF X #2
Marvel Comics

Writers: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Cover Price:  $4.99

You hear it all of the time.  “This is the issue where everything changes!”  Except… this time… it’s true.

Jonathan Hickman’s promised retcon of the X-Men’s history has dropped hints of what’s to come before.  However this issue has dropped its first truly transformative bombshell.  Without changing the X-Men’s present, Hickman has woven a tale that makes long-time and new readers question where this story will take them.  The characterization is almost entirely around one individual.  However, it is strong characterization.  It is difficult to properly discuss the issue without deep-diving into spoilers.  Meanwhile, the addition of faux computer files to explain some of the major plot points and developments is a nice touch that brings more story without overloading the reader.

House of X #2 - Marvel Comics
House of X #2 – Marvel Comics

Meanwhile, Larraz’s art is still a visual feast.  He has to draw the same characters in multiple scenarios and make them feel radically different.  He succeeds on all levels.  Meanwhile, the bits of combat all have vastly different flavors despite a lot of it happening to and with one character in particular.  I do want to especially call attention to Larraz’s backgrounds.  They are gorgeous additions to most panels.  He is even careful to add shadows, shapes, and colors to some of the sparse backgrounds to prevent any environment from being too flat or boring.  Do not underestimate how important Pepe Larraz is to House of X.

I cannot get over how much the revelation of one character being a mutant is to the history of the X-Men.  Moreover, this mutant has seen nine different potential paths for mutants and has tried working with Xavier, Magneto, Apocalypse, and alone.  All paths seem to lead to genocide via Sentinels.  Now, we have a story that hasn’t ended there yet.  Although Powers of X indicates that we are heading for another machine-ruled future.  Does this revelation move us towards a future where mutants and humans survive, let alone co-exist?

House of X #2 - Marvel Comics
House of X #2 – Marvel Comics

Even after reading the first issues of this story, I was not prepared for so sweeping a revelation as in House of X #2.  This has the making of a story to remember, and we’re only in the second issue.

What did you think of the House of X #2 surprise?  Let us know in the comments below!  In the meantime, here is a link to the latest episode of our comic book podcast, the Part-Time Henchmen!

Overwatch’s New Role Queue System Will Change the Game

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Overwatch’s Current Queue and 2 – 2 – 2

Queuing for a game in Overwatch is simple. For quick play and competitive alike, all a player has to do is select what mode they want to play. They’ll enter a queue until they find an available match around their skill level. It’s simple, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

A common problem in teams, be it competitive or casual, is the ability to pick any role. While this doesn’t seem negative inherently, it can prove quite problematic when queuing with strangers. For example, if your queue places you in a team where five of the members want to play DPS, you’ll be in for one wild ride.

The new queue system will hopefully alleviate some of this suffering. Players will have to choose what role they want before they queue for a game, and the system will automatically put two tanks, two damage dealers, and two supports on each team. Players won’t be able to switch off their role mid-game, but they can still pick other heroes within that category.

2 – 2 – 2 in Competitive Play

This new enforced role queueing system will also affect how players earn their competitive skill rating. Instead of playing ten placement matches and ranking, players will have three distinct ratings for support, tank, and damage. Each role requires five placement matches before a player earns a rank. The three separate skill ratings will be used to calculate the end-of-season rewards.

The Three Different Roles Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Overwatch League is already utilizing the 2 – 2 – 2 queueing system. While some players had to switch their primary role, it so far seems to be a beneficial decision. Instead of watching virtually the same GOATS game on repeat, teams can now utilize the unique skills of each teammate. In other words, Widowmaker duels are back in action! Of course, these are the pros, and they’ll soon find a new meta with the enforced changes. Enjoy this honeymoon phase while it lasts.

The Cons

There are always problems with games, and players know Overwatch is no exception. This new change in queueing brings up new issues. Anyone who’s played competitive has had to switch roles because someone wasn’t carrying their weight, and role lock won’t change this. Players will no longer be able to trade roles to best benefit their team.

Look at it this way; if your team needs a Lucio and neither of your support players knows how to play Lucio, you’re out of luck. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Lucio main because you queued as a tank. The same thing can happen for every role and a majority of the heroes.

It’s also kind of a bummer that we’ll no longer be able to see some crazy team compositions in the Overwatch League. Occasionally teams would run some ridiculous triple or quad DPS and pull off some intense matches. These games can’t happen anymore.

Fortunately, I think the benefits of this system outweigh the cons. Enforcing role lock will keep matches from turning into squabbles about having too many DPS players or not enough tanks. It also eliminates boring metas like GOATS.

Reworking Heroes

Brigitte Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Lastly, this new system requires a few character reworks. Brigitte, a hybrid tank/support character, will no longer be as effective as she currently is. Because she fills more than one role, she’ll have to be reworked to fit the support role better. Of course, other characters will receive balance changes, but I doubt we’ll see a whole bunch of complete reworks.

All in all, this change will benefit Overwatch more than I think we currently know. Maybe role lock will give the game a new breath of life? Regardless, I’m looking forward to how this impacts the game in the future.

Role queue will be fully available for quick play and competitive beginning on September 1 for the start of Competitive Season 18.

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 7/31/19

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Red Hood & the Outlaws Annual #3 - DC Comics
Okay... THAT one hurt.

THERE’S MORE FIRST ISSUE COMICS FOR REVIEW!

This week’s reviews include more X-Men, a Sonic spin-off, and-

Red Hood & the Outlaws Annual #3 - DC Comics
DC Comics

RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS ANNUAL #3
DC Comics

Writers: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Adam Pollina
Cover Price:  $4.99

I have missed Artemis and Bizarro more than I thought I would.

Scott Lobdell’s script is a good reminder of how special Red Hood’s lost partner’s are.  They exhibit solid character moments between story beats in a pretty horrific scenario.  There are a couple of groan-worthy moments.  However, they are far outpaced by a lot of shining character interactions and good surprises.  I do have a problem because of the time-jump.  It’s because of a 6 month time-jump in the middle of this issue, I think we lost out on a good series of stories while Artemis and Bizarro work to stay alive and evolve.

Red Hood & the Outlaws Annual #3 - DC Comics
Red Hood & the Outlaws Annual #3 – DC Comics

The art is by Adam Pollina and it fits some parts of the story, although not others.  Pollina really knows how to portray energy.  There is a character knocked into the Sun with such vibrancy, you can hear the “thud” and him screaming though space to his end.  Meanwhile, physical motion can sometimes be lacking.  I am not used to an artist that has energy without motion to match.  Characters are very expressive and the detail is good, although the amount of detail can shift from page to page, giving characters like Jack Knife a different look from page to page.

I have nothing against the Red Hood: Outlaw comic, although I think DC is missing out by not having the Outlaws in one place.  If this annual’s tease is right, that reunion may be very soon.

Sonic the Hedgehog: Tangle & Whisper #1 - IDW Comics
IDW Comics

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG: TANGLE & WHISPER #1
IDW Comics

Writers: Ian Flynn
Artist: Evan Stanely
Cover Price:  $3.99

This is the first spin-off from Sonic in a long time.  Is it worth the time?

Ian Flynn has a very peppy writing style.  This comic moves through its scenario very briskly.  Moreover, the characters are very bright and unique, even for this universe of cartoonish characters.  Tangle’s bouncy confidence works very well with Whisper’s more stoic and mono-syllabic nature.  This issue is the very beginning of their team-up, although it is a tantalizing preview of what’s to come.

Sonic the Hedgehog: Tangle & Whisper #1 - IDW Comics
Sonic the Hedgehog: Tangle & Whisper #1 – IDW Comics

The art may even surpass the Sonic comic itself.  Evan Stanley has captured both the bright world of the characters and their individual personas.  you may think that it’s easy to draw cartoony characters, however when there’s less detail, it can be harder to give them life.  Stanley gives both characters a number of expressive looks, as well as a definitive difference in how they approach problems.  Moreover, there is a terrific sense of motion through this comic that is just enticing.

We recently reviewed the Sonic the Hedgehog comic.  I am confident in saying Tangle & Whisper is several steps better than the main series.

Powers of X #1 - Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

POWERS OF X #1
Marvel Comics

Writers: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: R.B. Silva
Cover Price:  $5.99

If House of X was the amuse-bouche, then Powers of X is the first course.

Jonathan Hickman is writing both mini-series into a single weaving story.  While House of X has a sinister sort of hope to it, Powers of X is the abysmal result of the X-Men’s actions.  Hickman’s characters reflect the desperation of the X-Men’s new future, as well as the outcome of their struggle.  Meanwhile, a number of new fascinating characters are introduced here.  (Personally, I think Rasputin is going to be in hot demand by fans.)  It is too early to know how consistent any character is going to be since they are new, although, considering Hickman is their creator, it should be fine.

Powers of X #1 - Marvel Comics
Powers of X #1 – Marvel Comics

Meanwhile, the art is terrific.  R.B. Silva captures the best and worst of the X-Men’s present and dystopian futures.  The line work is universally thin, although Silva is using them to maximal effect.  He brings the right amount of detail to bring across textures, ages, and other details.  In addition, his action scenes have the right amount of power and speed.  Rasputin’s scenes make her look like the kind of character that can take on the Fantastic Four and still have time to check her texts.  There are times where gradients are left to the colorist, Marte Garcia.  Additionally, some of the backgrounds can be sparse.

Overall, this is a terrific issue to work with House of X.  Powers of X looks to be a necessary comic to understand the X-Men’s future in Marvel Comics.

Killer #1 - Valiant Comics
Valiant Comics

PICK OF THE WEEK
KILLERS #1
Valiant Comics

Writers: B. Clay Moore
Artist: Fernando Dagnino
Cover Price:  $3.99

This week’s Pick of the Week is a #1, although I bet you didn’t think it would be THIS one.

B. Clay Moore’s characters actually come across as rather complicated yet relatable.  That is a difficult balance that is more impressive when you consider how few Valiant comics I have read.  The story is very easy to pick up with only slight knowledge of the history of Ninjak, the story Killers is spun out of.  In addition, Moore has captured the spirit of a British accent in text.  Even writers in the “big two” companies haven’t figured that out yet.  Meanwhile, the story moves briskly and this issue is left on a good cliffhanger.

Killer #1 - Valiant Comics
Killer #1 – Valiant Comics

Additionally, Fernando Dagnino’s art matches the story.  Since this is a story about ninjas, you need an artist who can portray dexterous melee action.  Dagnino does that in spades.  Moreover, there is a lot of impact in the fighting.  Some of the motions of characters can feel jerky or incomplete, although that is covered well in the visuals.  Dagnino’s work can lack some fine detail.  Meanwhile, he does use shadows to create depth to high effect.  The shadows also add a heaviness to the visuals that fuse with the modern noir storytelling of Moore’s writing.

Killer #1 - Valiant Comics
Killer #1 – Valiant Comics

On top of everything else, the story itself somehow combines martial arts, intrigue, spy craft, and even a hint of blaxplotation movies without losing itself under the combination.  Because of this, you have a story that creates its own mythos while honoring a lot of what came before.  A couple of details delve deep into cliche territory.  However, the script quickly pulls back above the suspension of disbelief.

This is a comic to follow.  Killers is much more than the sum of its parts.

Which series is in your pull list no matter what?  Let us know in the comments below!  In the meantime, here is a link to the latest episode of our comic book podcast, the Part-Time Henchmen!

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 7/24/19

San Diego Comic-Con 2019 – A Review

San Diego Comic-Con 2019 – A Review

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San Diego Comic Con Logo

IS THIS WHERE YOU WANT TO BE?

San Diego Comic-Con is on most of the Internet’s bucket list events.  Does it still deserve that title?

SAN DIEGO

San Diego Gaslamp District
The Gaslamp Arch

Let’s start with the city.  San Diego turns its downtown into something made to advertise directly to the convention’s fans.  Restaurants advertise comic-related specials, as well as some giving discounts to badge-holders.  Meanwhile, several locations are rented out by larger companies like Amazon Prime, NBC, FX, and Comedy Central to feature off-sites.  Off-sites are engagements that fans can take part in without a Comic-Con badge.  Some off-sites include social media engagements, mini-golf, interactive experiences, and video presentations.

Additionally, San Diego shuts down several streets near the Convention Center to all vehicles for foot traffic only.  This began in 2018 and is further refined in 2019.  It helps keep some space around the Convention Center for people, although it does little for the crowding inside the building.

CLERKS quick stop
“I wasn’t even supposed to be here!”

Meanwhile, FYE and other companies opened pop-up shops That can have their own exclusive items not sold anywhere else.  While everyone posts their locations, it can still take some exploration to find where they are in the Gaslamp District.

The parties going on around Comic-Con can make you feel special, too.  Many are thrown by large companies to get you in one place to hear about their latest shows or innovations.  I attended the Nerd Nite Party with National Geographic.  It made for a memorable, if crowded, night.

EXHIBIT HALL

I know first-hand that you can lose a lot of time here.

san diego comic con exhibit hall
This isn’t even the busiest time

This may sound like a complaint, however, this is a lot of praise.  I spent nearly two full days wandering the hall because of the sheer amount of things to see and browse.  You will find movies, anime, comic books, creators, graphic novels, role playing implements, celebrities, costume reproductions, statues,  fan groups, cosplayers, companies showing off their new media, and independent creators with a bit of all of the above.

That is just the beginning.

It can be somewhat intimidating in the middle of the Exhibit Hall.  Most of the larger booths are in the middle section with exclusives that cannot be found in stores.  This creates a severe log jam of people looking for how to get their hands on them.  I had some trouble navigating my way through there in the middle of the day.

San Diego Comic Con Exhibit Hall
Near the middle of the Exhibit Hall

Additionally, the Artist’s Alley of Comic-Con is truly interesting as everyone in it has industry credentials.  They have each worked in industry-recognized comics.  This convention is often my best chance to find both working creators and legends in the same few minutes.  If you like to meet the people behind your favorite stories, you have a good chance of finding them here.

On top of it all, several signings take place in the Exhibit Hall.  This is a double-edged sword.  Keeping signings in the Hall means people have more of a chance to shop, however, these signings have fans flock to them for a glimpse of stars and it makes major congestion and lines around these signings.  Additionally, Warner Brothers had a pair of signings for Krypton and Batwoman that reportedly had few, if any, of their series stars present.

San diego comic con signing
Lucky!

PANELS

A lot of companies hold their biggest announcements of the season for San Diego Comic-Con.  Panel subjects included comic books, animated series, television shows, movies, genre reviews, and, of course, a masquerade.  I adore going to Comic-Con panels.  There is often a good chance of interesting freebies, on top of getting new information on your favorite hobbies.  I even received a copy of Postal #1 while attending the Top Cow Comics panel.  Most of the news you read coming out of Comic-Con comes from these panels.

San diego comic con preview top cow comics
A preview of an unnamed Top Cow Comic

Meanwhile, the problem is that the panels are truly too much of a good thing.  You will often make choices at least twice per day where you have to decide between two of your favorite subjects/shows/comics.

It is unfortunate that this was Comic-Con’s 50th anniversary, and there was no real special event outside of panels about the history of Comic-Con.  In my opinion, San Diego Comic-Con is about the leading edge of entertainment, not the past of it.

OVERALL

san diego comic con
There is a lot to do here

San Diego Comic-Con has unparalleled by its host city and sponsors.  It is your chance to see more than the next ten conventions you visit combined.  However, you will have to understand, you will not be able to do everything.  Because of either demand or overlapping schedules, you will likely have to give something up.

With that said, San Diego Comic-Con is somewhat unique in size, scale, and radiance.  In the end, you will get a lot out of it, if you are willing to put some work into it.

san diego comic con nerd nite national geographic nat geo
The Nerd Nite Party with National Geographic

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 7/11/19

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 7/3/19

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 7/24/19

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House of X #1 - Marvel Comics
That is one heck of a Funko Pop...

WE’RE BACK FROM SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON!

The adventure is done and we’re back into the latest comics!  There are a lot of new story chapters beginning this week!

House of X #1 - Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

HOUSE OF X #1
Marvel Comics

Writers: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Cover Price:  $5.99

Wow.  Just wow.

Hickman has promised that his pair of miniseries (this and Powers of X) will redefine the X-Men’s place and bring them to the forefront of Marvel.  The initial issue is light on action, however it does not disappoint.  Several deceased characters are mysteriously alive.  More are healed to peak form.  The issue takes its time to lay out a set of mysteries to be revealed, although this is not a slow-paced issue.  Hickman’s script implores  you to ask a lot of questions knowing that the answers will come over the next few months.  You can sense the insidious overtones throughout.

House of X #1 - Marvel Comics
House of X #1 – Marvel Comics

Hickman chose Pepe Larraz to do the art of this comic and every panel shows why.  The lines are sharp and clean.  There is enough to detail to get every aspect of a character’s mannerisms across.  Moreover, the backgrounds are breathtaking and cinematic.  It has been a long time since I poured over so much of an issue’s background.  Meanwhile, the action has a wallop that can be missing from more action-intense series.  I expect upcoming issues to show more of what Larraz is capable of, however we have glimpses that say it will be worth the wait.

I cannot say I know everything that’s happening, although this is a great and enticing beginning to a new phase and world for the X-Men.

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1 - DC Comics
DC Comics

BATMAN – CURSE OF THE WHITE KNIGHT #1
DC Comics

Writers: Sean Murphy
Artist: Sean Murphy
Cover Price:  $4.99

The Murphyverse has returned!  Is it still special?

Sean Murphy has to follow-up his critical darling, Batman – White Knight.  The first issue picks up as Batman and Gotham are settling into a different status quo than the DC Prime universe.  Additionally, Murphy’s script is a bit of a slow burn.  He is not in a hurry to develop the introduction of new characters and the story that will envelop the story.  Moreover, the characters have not moved far from the last issue of White Knight.  This makes things recognizable, although unsurprising.  You can be forgiven for not being adored with this comic in this issue.

Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1 - DC Comics
Batman: Curse of the White Knight #1 – DC Comics

Meanwhile, Murphy draws his script.  His art employs a scratchy, dirty style that can be a turn-off to people who prioritize visuals.  Everything has a bit of an undefined look.  It fits the story extremely well after and adjustment period.  In addition, the backgrounds in this series have their own life and flavor that adds to the completeness of this story.  Murphy’s style is also very energetic.  Characters can seem to leap off the page.

This isn’t a perfect first issue, although, to be fair, White Knight had a slow start, too.  Murphy has earned a leap of faith.  I’m recommending this issue as I am sure the series will pick up steam soon.

Curse Words #23 - Image Comics
Image Comics

CURSE WORDS #23
Image Comics

Writers: Charles Soule
Artist: Ryan Browne
Cover Price:  $3.99

This comic is a like an 80’s kid’s joyous fever dream.

I could use a primer on the prior story, however, the writing is strong enough, I am catching up fast.  In addition, Soule’s characters have a combination of ridiculous names and over-the-top moments.  This issue can be summed up as Masters of the Universe combined with the Boys on a hit of Heizenberg’s blue meth.  The characters are easy to get into and understand.  Moreover, the scenario itself is not very complicated, although the details of the story are surreal and shocking.

Curse Words #23 - Image Comics
Curse Words #23 – Image Comics

The art of Ryan Browne also feels like an old Saturday morning cartoon.  The character’s forms are exaggerated and almost painfully colorful.  Moreover, everyone is just expressive enough to get the point across.  Also, the detail is sparing for the most part.  However, the action in this issue has a wild, primal energy to it that is hard to ignore.  When one character uses an energy bat to knock two titans as if they were slow pitches in Fenway Park, you can almost hear the thunderous impact.

Series like Curse Words are not always fun to read, although this one is.  I need trade paperbacks, stat.

Web of Venom: Funeral Pyre #1 - Marvel Comics
Marvel Comics

PICK OF THE WEEK
WEB OF VENOM – FUNERAL PYRE #1
Marvel Comics

Writers: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Joshua Cassara & Alberto Alburquerque
Cover Price:  $4.99

This is not my favorite story of this week.  However, it is the one that surprised and shocked me.

Cullen Bunn has set up a single issue to tell the current status of someone in Venom’s orbit, and this one-shot is simply chilling.  Bunn’s characters suffer in physical and mental anguish and the feeling is all too palpable for the reader.  Meanwhile, the dialogue amplifies the desperation for answers and relief.  It also re-frames Carnage as a character who should be feared as a new unstoppable psychopath that can give anyone short of the Immortal Hulk a run for his money.

Web of Venom: Funeral Pyre #1 - Marvel Comics
Web of Venom: Funeral Pyre #1 – Marvel Comics

The majority of the art is by Alberto Alburquerque.  Admittedly, it is not my style.  There isn’t anything inherently wrong in it.  The characters are expressive enough.  The action has a good energy and sense of weight.  In addition, there is a fair amount of detail.  Meanwhile, what is bothering me is that everything is so sharp.  Alburquerque uses very sharp angles on everything, so characters often have harsh angles on their features, hair, clothes, muscles, etc.  While it does help the story and give everything an off-kilter property, it does bother me quite a bit throughout the issue.

Web of Venom: Funeral Pyre #1 - Marvel Comics
Web of Venom: Funeral Pyre #1 – Marvel Comics

However, the important thing is that this issue is a good primer on the status of both Mania and Carnage.  Both have gone through significant changes since the days of “Agent Venom.”  They are put through their paces and give a spectacular show of what each is capable of.  This comic is an outstanding primer for Absolute Carnage.

Funeral Pyre is something that is going to stick with me for a while and has me thinking about changing my pull list.  That is the mark of a terrific comic.

Which comic made you change your pull list?  Let us know in the comments below!  In the meantime, here is a link to the latest episode of our comic book podcast, the Part-Time Henchmen!

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 7/11/19

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 7/3/19

DVS Reviews Movies: Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein

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Image courtesy of Netflix

I Wanted to Like It, I Really Did

After the epicness that is Stranger Things 3, seeing David Harbour’s face on a thumbnail of a Frankenstein movie I jumped in immediately. Harbour had a face I could see being Frankenstein. A more rural, perhaps descendant of the original scientist.

But sadly, Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein disappointed. The film is a measly 32 minutes long and feels incomplete and unnecessarily convoluted. It raises more questions than it does answers and leaves me wondering why it even exists.

A Promising Story Idea

The story boil down to a mockumentary. David Harbour, playing himself, fictionally delves into the history of his troubled father, the actor. (This premise is entirely fictional, as David Harbour’s real father was never an actor.)

David Harbour playing his fictional father, David Harbour, playing Frankenstein. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Harbour analyzes his father’s life by dissecting one of his famous plays about Frankenstein. In the play, Frankenstein is pretending to be The Monster, and The Monster is pretending to be Frankenstein in order to secure a grant. Why they choose to do this is unclear.

By the end of the play, the viewer questions if Dr. Frankenstein is really the famous scientist or just another one of his creations that stole his identity. Harbour is also left wondering if his dad was a monster or not, and if he should present his legacy honestly or not.

The Terrible Acting is Terrible

It seems clear to me that the acting in this film is supposed to be bad. The stage acting is very stiff and doesn’t translate to film very well. However, the bad acting in itself is just bad. It isn’t satirical, it isn’t exaggerated, it’s just bad. They’re bad at being bad, if that makes sense. Harbour himself acts well in the film, but everyone else is painfully hollow.

Even outside of the play the acting is poor. The studio representatives that Harbour interviews are uncooperative for what seems no reason. Those scenes in particular leave me wondering what the point of this movie even was if the main character can’t even get the answers he’s seeking.

Image courtesy of Netflix.

It Could Have Been a Great Story

This mockumentary has everything going for it to be a good film. It has the amazing actor David Harbour and a fresh twist on the Frankenstein story. This movie would have been better if the fictional Harbour family history had been dropped from it completely.

Either that, or it needed to be longer in order to thoroughly explain and clarify the jarring juxtapositions of Harbour’s father and Frankenstein. The rushed ending of the play felt disingenuous and abrupt. The controversy of the father didn’t feel fully explained.

All in all, Frankenstein’s Monster’s Monster, Frankenstein felt like a lot to do about nothing. In a world filled with awesome Netflix Originals, this one missed the bar. I give it 5 nosebleeds out of 10.

DVS Score: 5/10