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LONG BEACH COMIC-CON 2019 – A Review

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lbcc 2019 logo

LABOR DAY IS FULL OF CONVENTION ACTIVITY! LONG BEACH COMIC-CON IS TRYING FOR A PIECE OF THE ACTION!

long beach comic-con Dealer's Hall
The Long Beach Comic-Con Dealer’s Hall in the morning

MAD Event Management has made a bold move to Labor Day Weekend. These are the same days of Crunchyroll Expo, Dragon-Con, San Japan, and a bevy of other events. How well has the move paid off?

Firstly, there is an expansive Artist’s Alley. However, there were notably fewer “big name” creators. Mike Mayhew, Phillipe Briones, Mark Waid, and Howard Chaykin are well-known names to many comic fans. From there, there are interesting independent creators. However, conventions usually need big names on the list to entice fans. Even without them, Long Beach Comic-Con became extremely busy in the afternoon.

lbcc young adult author
The Young Adult Comic Writer’s panel.

Meanwhile, the panels run the gamut. There are fan debates, author discussions, scientific history panels, and creator stories. Moreover, there is an interesting level of cosplay in the afternoon. This is a very active community, although not a crack-of-dawn group.

The things that make Long Beach Comic-Con different are its exhibits in science and pro wrestling. The Space Expo Pavilion has booths dedicated to space travel sci-fi inspired machinery. Meanwhile, the Wrestling Annex is run by KnoxPro Wrestling. Additionally, there is a table with WWE Superstar and Hall of Fame’er Rikishi. There is a full wrestling ring surrounded by a steel cage. They run entertaining matches every hour in cosplay.

long beach comic con science pavillion
The Science Pavillion

While talking with some fans, I found out that the Dealer’s Hall and Artist’s Alley are notably smaller this year compared to prior years. Although, this convention is usually late in the month. It is possible that the competition with other Labor Day conventions took a lot of the available vendors and creators.

In a crowded field, Long Beach Comic-Con isn’t necessarily special. However, it is a solid experience for comic book fans.

long beach comic con wrestling annex
The Wrestling Annex

HALO OUTPOST DISCOVERY – A REVIEW

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 8/28/19

Part-Time Henchmen Podcast Ep. 57 – The Vinyl Destintation Job

Is Overwatch Coming to the Nintendo Switch?

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The Popularity of the Nintendo Switch

Since the release of the Nintendo Switch in 2017, and it’s following success, many popular games have transitioned to the platform. Fortnite, Rocket League, Skyrim, and The Witcher 3 are just a few examples of well-liked games ported onto the Switch. These changes have left Overwatch fans wondering if the FPS will make the change alongside the other titles.

Overwatch Themed Switch Carrying Case

People are more excited than ever for the possible Switch release after an accessory maker on Amazon briefly leaked an Overwatch-themed carrying case for the console. The case is simple, black and orange with the official Overwatch logo on the front. Most importantly, the product listed that it was “officially licensed by Nintendo and Blizzard Entertainment.” The case was taken off Amazon quickly, but not before someone was able to save the images.

Blizzard has yet to announce Overwatch for the Switch, but it’s not out of the question. The Diablo 3 Eternal Collection made the jump to the portable console in 2018, which means we may see the fan-favorite FPS on the Switch soon.

Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan loves the Switch. While this doesn’t bolster our chances of seeing Overwatch on the console, it certainly doesn’t hurt them. In a Reddit AMA thread, Kaplan stated: “I’m loving the Switch! My second favorite gaming platform of all time is the 3DS. Getting OW on the Switch is very challenging for us. But we’re always open-minded about exploring possible platforms.”

The Inevitability of the Switch

Overwatch on the Nintendo Switch Courtesy of Dexerto

At this point, if it’s possible to get a game on the Switch, it will almost certainly be there. This fact, pared along with Activision not releasing a ton of new games at the moment, puts a lot of stress on older titles to produce income for the company. What better way to do that then release old titles on a new platform? Not only does this method bring new players to the game, but it also guarantees devoted players picking up a copy of the game on the portable console.

On the technical side, this change of platforms offers new struggles. We would certainly need separate matchmaking because playing with Joy-Cons isn’t going to match up with Xbox One or PS4. Overwatch also heavily depends on high framerates for the gameplay to work correctly. Luckily, the graphic style is scalable for lower-power systems such as the Switch.

Assuming it’s within the realm of possibility, I’m sure we’ll be seeing Overwatch on the Switch in the near future.

HALO OUTPOST DISCOVERY – A REVIEW

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Halo Outpost Discovery

BEFORE HALO INFINITE’S RELEASE, 343 STUDIOS HAS BEGUN A LIVE INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE!

The Halo has a history of different events. Those are mostly playable and professional tournaments. Halo: Outpost Discovery crosses into a new live experience event.

halo
An A.I. Hologram, Gabriela, greets you on your way in

We had a look inside the Outpost in Anaheim, California. There are certain things you would expect from an event centering on a video game franchise. There’s PC and console stations for Halo, creator panels, live plays, and a substantial merchandise booth. Meanwhile, there is a set of more in depth interactive experiences. These include laser tag, Pelican training simulators, a Covenant escape room, Nerf gun ranges and shooting zones, and Halo arcade games.

Most of these experiences came with moderate wait times. The worst wait I experienced was 45 minutes. However, I did do a couple items more than once.

halo pelican simulator
My Pelican Simulator crew

Upstairs are panel rooms and the VIP Lounge. Players attempt a tough level on Legendary difficulty while I spent time building my own gamertag symbol on a Surface laptop.

I am especially impressed with the Ring Experience. This exhibit is museum-like. It has replicas of part of a Halo ring-world, a full scale sentinel, Flood infector, 343 Guilty Spark, and Library Index. Additionally, there is a dome projector simulator that does a fly-through of a Halo.

ring world outpost discovery
A modeled section of a Halo

Another interactive aspect comes via the Halo: Outpost app. With it, you can earn unique keepsakes and learn about the extensive lore of built after nearly 20 years. It adds a cutting-edge feel and makes it unique among other events of this type.

I do have one problem that keeps sticking out.

These experiences design makes you feel like you have stepped into the distant future and are taking part in USMC training and history. They hire staff that play deep roles to add to the experiences. Meanwhile, a lot of these events have almost no backgrounds. Only the laser tag has an outer wall that adds to the ambiance. The Ring Experience’s rooms are separated by black curtains with “flimsy” poles. This helps keep costs down, although it does pull me out of the experience unless I am in a simulator or event.

vr virtual reality spartan
3v3 Halo in VR!

Although I have complaints, this is a fun event. It is hard to say that non-Halo fans will be as swept up as the hardcore players. However, 343 Studios has the base to build something unique in future years. I expect more to come next year. Especially with Halo: Infinite scheduled for release next year.

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 8/28/19

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 8/21/19

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 8/28/19

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GI Joe IDW Cobra
How did you fit a TANK in a two-car garage?!

IT’S WEDNESDAY! MORE OF THE LATEST COMICS ARE ON THE SHELVES!

There is a lot of events during Labor Day Weekend! Before we go to a couple, we have the newest comic reviews!

RWBY DC
DC Comics

RWBY #1
DC Comics/Rooster Teeth

Writers: Marguerite Bennett
Artist: Mirko Andolfo
Cover Price:  $0.99

An established story. A passionate fanbase. Two great creators! This should be a slam dunk! Why isn’t it?!

Marguerite Bennett is a talented writer that often finds nuance in the characters. In this issue, she isn’t showing off any of her skill. The entire issue is without dialogue, so there really isn’t any character building… at all. All of the story is via exposition rocketing through several seasons of RWBY that you could watch on Rooster Teeth’s website. The pace of the comic is very fast, however, when you have very little story, that is a side-effect.

RWBY #1 – DC Comics

Mirka Andolfo is similarly wasted in this issue. His work in Unnatural is very energetic and expressive. With the aforementioned lack of story, Andolfo is regulated to doing a series of pin-up-style scenes in the story recap. Moreover, some of those panels are used twice. Very obviously. There’s no chance to see how Andolfo would help Bennett in putting a scene together because he is recreating different moments from the RWBY web series.

I work hard to be positive. However, this is an issue that shouldn’t exist. I expected DC to either retell the web series in their style, or continue the story from the latest season. Somehow, they chose neither path and the result is just… dry.

Captain America Marvel Comic
Marvel Comics

CAPTAIN AMERICA #13
Marvel Comics

Writers: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Jason Masters & Sean Izaakse
Cover Price:  $3.99

Sam Wilson is my favorite Captain America… although this one is also VERY good.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has brought some of his literary power from Black Panther and is doing a magical job with Steve Rogers. Most series build and defuse intrigue rather frequently. As of issue 13, the intrigue here only seems to increase as Cap’s enemies are firmly in control. Additionally, Coates is very careful to have the characters’ dialogue be distinct and make their voices unique. There are a couple of slips late in this comic, although you would have to be really critical to find them.

Captain America Marvel Comic
Captain America #13 – Marvel Comics

Jason Masters and Sean Izaakse share the art duties and I have a clear favorite of the two. Masters is the first art in the interior and his style is heavy. Heavier than John Romita, Jr. Masters uses thicker outer lines and good detail work. However, he uses a bit too many solid blacks for shadows making some scenes have enough darkness to physically walk through. Also, his action is somewhat stiff, so those scenes drag a little. Meanwhile, Izaakse’s work is much more fluid and makes the combat pop a bit more. He is also more sparing with shadows and gives his visuals room to breathe.

Captain America #12 is a better jumping-on point, although #13 is a wonderful follow-up and view into the status of Steve Rogers and the Daughters of Liberty. Also, if you haven’t done so already, look into the Dryad in this series. That revelation blew my mind!

Boom Buffy Slayer Comic
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chosen Ones #1 – BOOM! Studios

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER: CHOSEN ONES #1
BOOM! Studios

Writers: Mairghread Scott, Celia Lowenthal & Alexa Sharpe
Artist: Ornella Savarese, Celia Lowenthal & Alexa Sharpe
Cover Price:  $7.49

This is a large one-shot covering a lot of ground.

This over-sized comic is written by Mairghread Scott, Celia Lowenthal, and Alexa Sharpe. Scott’s story was by far my favorite. She uses dialogue that has a special bite. The interactions between the Native American Slayer and Spainard Watcher are touching and thought-provoking without being preachy. Moreover, the story is relevant and relatable to both its time period (the 1800’s) and modern times. The subsequent stories by Lowenthal and Sharpe don’t have the same punch and thoughtful aspects.

Buffy slayer Boom
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Chosen Ones #1 – BOOM! Studios

Meanwhile, Savarese’s art meshes well with Scott’s story. There is a sort of wild energy that augments the story. Savarese is light on detail, although her characters are very expressive. Moreover, the combat has an unexpected snap that is refreshing. You cannot overlook the careful color palette by Wesllei Manoel, who manages to keep the frontier darkness in scenes and preserving their atmosphere. Lowenthal and Sharpe drew their own artwork.

This comic builds a lot on the legend of the Slayer. It would be a shame if BOOM! Studios doesn’t capitalize on it.

GI Joe Comic IDW
G.I. Joe #266 – IDW Comics

PICK OF THE WEEK
G.I. JOE – A REAL AMERICAN HERO #266
IDW Comics

Writers: Larry Hama
Artist: Robert Atkins
Cover Price:  $3.99

I shouldn’t feel as quickly caught up in a comic over 250 issues deep in a series. Meanwhile… here we are.

Larry Hama, the original creator of modern G.I. Joe history, is showing us he can still build one heck of a story. Despite a lack of exposition text, the dialogue is just enough to give us a window into current events and characters. While they can get a hammy, I tend to expect that from G.I. Joe stories. Moreover, there is a number of newer characters that have been well-integrated with classic characters. It gives the story a lot of potential upside assuming the newer characters like Bombstrike and Helix make a good impression with readers.

GI Joe Comic
G.I. Joe #266 – IDW Comics

Meanwhile, Robert Atkins art is good. Firstly, he is one of the artists who uses blacks well. None of the scenes are overburdened with darkness. Moreover, the action, while it can have a bit of a “wire-fu” feel, it is well composed on the page. Atkins has a terrific composition and makes images feel deep. There are a couple of critical complaints in the art. The detail can be missing in certain scenes. Moreover, character faces can be a bit flat. And finally, while the characters have visual depth, the backgrounds mostly don’t. A lot of backgrounds are very sparse.

GI Joe IDW
G.I. Joe #266 – IDW Comics

I cannot get past how well put together this comic is as far as story. This issue feels like a more mature version of the 1980’s cartoon. The costumes are still over-the-top as far as Cobra. The scenes of a spy trying to scrounge enough cash among her squad to make an overbearing papergirl go away is hilarious. In addition, the scenario has long term story potential and a good cliffhanger to entice readers to buy another issue.

It isn’t the flashiest or my favorite issue that was released this week. However, this is the issue that surprised me the most and makes me think about altering my pull list.

What comics would make you alter your pull list? Let us know in the comments below! In the meantime, we have added a link to the latest episode of our comic book podcast, the Part-Time Henchmen!

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 8/21/19

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 8/14/19

The Part-Time Henchmen – Episode 57: The Vinyl Destination Job

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 8/21/19

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Don't let him hear that thought... EVER!

IT’S TIME FOR FRESH COMIC REVIEWS!

The fall stories and event are taking over! Meanwhile, we have new comic reviews for your reading!

dc comic book review black mask
DC Comics

BLACK MASK – YEAR OF THE VILLAIN #1
DC Comics

Writers: Tom Taylor
Artist: Cully Hamner
Cover Price:  $4.99

Sinestro’s own one-shot makes him a top tier villain. Can Black Mask’s own feature do the same?

Tom Taylor’s writing turned out surprisingly paint-by-numbers. I know he is an exciting writer, however he felt like he didn’t reach his own bests. The character dialogue is within the norms for its major players. Meanwhile, there isn’t any memorable dialogue. The story beats are easy to remember, although this issue does not make Black Mask into a better villain… just a different one. That is probably the trouble with this one shot. Others give their characters depth with boosts in power. This comic gives Black Mask a power that isn’t really unusual compared to other DC villains and an inferiority complex. He comes off as a long term bully, rather than the next great antagonist.

dc comic book review black mask
Black Mask: Year of the Villain #1 – DC Comics

In addition, Cully Hamner’s art doesn’t add as much to the story as I hoped. His outer lines are fairly thick. Detail lines are there, although very minimal. This can make his characters lack depth. Moreover, Hamner uses blacks for shadows to an excessive degree. As a result, there is a heaviness to most of the visuals. There is a certain flow of energy in the art, however it is a slower flow than a lot of DC’s other comics.

DC had an opportunity to seriously elevate Black Mask. This comic takes that opportunity and barely makes him more than he already is.

image comic book review pretty deadly
Image Comics

PRETTY VIOLENT #1
Image Comics

Writers: Derek Hunter
Artist: Derek Hunter
Cover Price:  $3.99

When I was a kid, cartoon characters would go after each other with anvils, revolvers, and even cannons. Now, that is deemed too violent. This comic is way beyond Tom & Jerry levels.

Derek Hunter is a pretty good writer. This scenario has more than a few surprises and guffaws hidden in it. Moreover, the dialogue is pretty funny overall. It can be summarized as what would happen if superheroes acted like Looney Tunes as written by Mike Judge. However, there is a strong flow problem in the writing. The way the dialogue bubbles are laid out, I almost have to re-read some sets of dialogue a couple times to determine who is speaking when. It can seriously slow down the pace of a comic when you need to piece together who is talking.

Pretty Violent #1 – Image Comics

Meanwhile, Hunter’s art is extremely cartoonish. It is a perfect style for this over-the-top superhero lampoon. However, the art is so distended and exaggerated that some characters don’t seem to have all of their parts in the right places. Additionally, it can lack a sense of motion between panels and requires a bit to put together how things are moving around. I found it distracting.

I think this is the right story, although Derek Hunter could benefit from collaborating with another creator. It may calm down in future issues and be the parody we could really use right now.

image comic book review pretty deadly
Marvel Comics

VALKYRIE – JANE FOSTER #2
Marvel Comics

Writers: Jason Aaron & Al Ewing
Artist: CAFU
Cover Price:  $3.99

I’ll say it. Jane Foster is my favorite Thor. The question is, is this series a good use of the character?

Long-time Thor writer Jason Aaron and collaborator Al Ewing have done an astonishing job making this sophomore issue matter. First, Jane Foster is still a character of unusual determination. The dialogue, though, is reaching a newer part of the character as she is dealing with abilities and weapons that she hasn’t observed as much as she did with Thor. There is a good pace and threat throughout this issue. Additionally, there are several critical decisions that add to the urgency. The final page has a call-back to Marvel’s history and indicates that we are going somewhere new in their version of mythology.

marvel comic book review valkyrie jane foster
Valkyrie: Jane Foster #2 – Marvel Comics

Meanwhile, CAFU’s art is gorgeous. His style lands close to photo-realism, although it isn’t beholden to it. CAFU knows how to exaggerate his faces just enough to make them enjoyable. In addition, there is so much energy in the action. You can hear objects flying through the air and masonry breaking. There is a terrific weight and impact to everyone fighting in this issue.

The first issue was good, however the second issue is great. It is a different version of godly Jane Foster with room for a lot of growth.

ghost spider marvel
Marvel Comics

GHOST-SPIDER #1
Marvel Comics

Writers: Seanan McGuire
Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa
Cover Price:  $3.99

Ghost-Spider (a.k.a. Spider-Gwen) has been around for a while. This is the first time she has felt like her own character.

Seanan McGuire has taken on a story that makes this alternative Gwen Stacy into a superhero, a celebrity, and a a recluse at the same time. While the dialogue is what you expect from one of Marvel’s spider-totems, there is an uplifting energy through this comic that is infectious. Additionally, the pacing makes this an unusually quick issue. It is hard to find faults on the writing side of this comic.

ghost spider marvel
Ghost-Spider #1 – Marvel Comics

On the other side, Takeshi Miyazawa is the artist and he is the right artist for this series. Everything has a youthful energy that practically bleeds off the page. The action can be described as crisp and well-choreographed. Meanwhile, the basic technique can be frighteningly light on detail and requires the colorist to supplement details. Although, the line work is very clean. This is about the best fusion I have seen between manga and Western comic book art I have ever seen.

comic book review ghost spider marvel
Ghost-Spider #1 – Marvel Comics

I am confident calling this the best first-issue I have read. It lays out exposition on events as they occur in small bytes. The featured character has multiple landscapes and scenarios to deal with. It establishes Ghost-Spider’s powers, drives, and wants. Finally, it refreshes a classic enemy that can cause havoc for the hero.

I won’t say this is a comic that will do nothing but gain in value. Although, Ghost-Spider #1 sets the stage for a fun adventure.

What is your favorite first issue? Let us know in the comments below! In the meantime, we have added a link to the latest episode of our comic book podcast, the Part-Time Henchmen!

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 8/14/19

COMIC REVIEWS FOR 8/7/19

The Part-Time Henchmen – Episode 56

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!