Monthly Archives: February, 2017

The Belfry

“Hope ya don’t ALL change.”

Hey, this is D.C. here to throw down with my thoughts on Image Comics’ one-shot tale, The Belfry.

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The Belfry caught my eye when I first read its solicitations some months ago. It’s not too often you see any book heralded by one person. In this case, Gabriel Hardman was in control of delivering this one-shot in both art and story.

The question was…did Gabriel Hardman deliver?

Impressions

Simply put, The Belfry tells a tale of a flight crew and its passengers crashing landing in a forest, being hunted by creatures of the night. Basic enough.

Right away, I was captivated by Hardman’s art. The dark color tones and moody pencils fit in so well with the horror and suspense genre. Even the onomatopoeia used by Hardman are lettered in such a scratched and macabre way to give a sense of terror. The sounds in my head reverberated unpleasantly as I read the sounds, and I think that worked. With regards to art, I think The Belfry delivered very well.

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It is clear that Hardman is in his element when drawing this story.

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Story-wise, however, The Belfry was a severe disappointment.

In a one-shot, I expect a little more depth in a story to get to its point. Hardman’s writing is so scant here that I was left with far more questions than answers. By the end, it’s obvious what happens to most humans who are bit by these creatures, and how they repopulate. But as for everything else?

Who are the victims? Did they have some importance, or were they just cannon fodder? Couldn’t they have been both?

Who exactly are these creatures? Why do they capture and transmute humans? Is there a goal in mind, aside from simple repopulation? Why do those that don’t turn get blinded? What’s the significance there? More imporantly, why are those blinded enslaved?

Hardman simply wrote a horrid situation for the passengers of a crashed plane that may be just another week in the lives of the unnamed creatures. In this case, I can see that delving into the characters’ backgrounds isn’t key. Nonetheless, I felt that there was too little given on both ends to give the story satisfaction. Unfortunately, the art could not carry what was, in my opinion, a lackluster story.

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…Ouchie…

Recap

Gabriel Hardman can really bring the horror in The Belfry. His art is truly terrifying. Hardman excels at capturing horror-suspense in every corner of his art, right down to the sound effects. However, the story was far too short and left far too little information to understand anything about the monsters to deliver a satisfying one-shot. The Belfry might have worked better as an anthology of tales that would have given the readers some depth into the history and motivation of these creatures.

Still, I think think this story is worth a pickup for anyone looking to delve into the horror genre. Give a go, and share your thoughts.

END THROWDOWN.

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The Unstoppable Wasp

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Hello everyone, this is Kay G. Today I’ll be talking about The Unstoppable Wasp by Jeremy Whitley. I was a little bit uncertain to check out because I wasn’t sure how good it would be. I wasn’t familiar with character and the art work wasn’t the greatest in my opinion. After going back and forth I decided to pick up a copy and I wasn’t disappointed.

 

Synopsis:

The Unstoppable Wasp is about Nadia (Wasp), who spent the entire first half of her life as a captive of the Red Room, but now this teenage super-scientist is on her own for the first time. The daughter of Hank Pym (aka Ant-man and Giant-Man) has a lot of time to make up for and she’s determined to change the world. For those who don’t know about the Red Room: the Red Room is one of the K.G.B.’s espionage training programs. For decades the Red Room had been a Cold War facility to train female spies known as Black Widow.

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Verdict:

The first thing I noticed about Nadia was the way she spoke. She spoke so intellectually and almost child-like. Nadia was seeing and experiencing a lot life outside of captivation. We get so see how exciting even the simplest task and nuances are, such as a phone ringing or taste of a donut.  I loved the way Whitley wrote her character, it was very fitting for her experiences and her dialect really fit. The only problem I really had with it was the art; I did wish that the art could have been much better. To me the art seemed a bit cartoonish but the story definitely makes up for it.

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The one think I loved about The Unstoppable Wasp, was how inspiring it was. Nadia is highly intellectual just like her father and is also an inventor. Nadia makes it a point to be one of the smartest women on the list of smartest in the world. Not only does she want to make the list herself, she wants to find other women like her.

I think this story is very encouraging for young women who want to pursue these male-dominated careers. Nadia is trying to prove that no matter the age or sex of the person, anything is possible. This story is very female-driven, but not done in a way where it screams feminism. Even my partner D.C mentioned that it would be a great read for any young woman.

After I finished reading the first issue as a woman you feel uplifted and want to conquer the world as much as Nadia does (just a little less superheroic, ha). I highly recommend this story to all women and to anyone who just wants to read a good story.

Civil War II: The Oath

“Does this world look saved?”

Welcome, this is D.C. back for a throwdown on a book that really left an impression in spite of its preceding event: Marvel’s Civil War II: The Oath.

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The Oath?

The Oath picks up after the events of Civil War II–which, honestly, I didn’t finish because the story, for all its good art, just wasn’t satisfying in terms of story. I gave up on issue #5 because of the lack of logic in events, and how you really needed to read the various tie-ins just to understand why the other characters chose the faction they chose.

This story also picks up after some key events in the Captain America: Steve Rogers series. That, I’ll write a comprehensive review of later.

Impressions?

Writer Nick Spencer appears to get a lot of flack regarding the political undertones of his scripts, and for his recent takes on both Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers. However, in The Oath, Spencer pulls out the stops when he takes the reader on a monological tour of Steve Roger’s feelings and thoughts on recent events. One of the most powerful moments already started at the beginning, when Steve beside a comatose Tony Stark and says, simply: “What a waste.”

Those simple words already lets the reader know just how this Steve thinks of Tony. From there, Steve damns not only Tony  and Captain Marvel, but the superhero community in general. It is a sentiment felt by Ms. Marvel, the Champions, and Clint Barton, but Spencer lets Steve turn what appeared to be a story similar to Civil War: The Confession into a truly damning and, worse, mocking account by Steve.

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I was left disturbed throughout the story as Steve pointed out Tony’s hubris and failure as both a hero and a man. If you know anything about the rocky road between Iron Man and Captain America, reading Cap’s opinions of Tony aren’t necessarily new. But under Nick Spencer, the altered Steve is particularly scathing–almost violent, as if he is telling Tony, “Serves you right.”

The most meaningful part of The Oath is it is hard to disagree with Steve’s sentiments. Spencer seems to take note of social media views of current Marvel and superheroes in general, as well as current social issues, and weaves it in such a way that makes Steve 100% right in his opinion. His solution to the problem, though? That is where cognitive dissonance happens.

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As if Steve’s damning and mocking of everyone he knows and how easily he rises to the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. with even more power than any director before weren’t enough, Steve ends his talk with Tony by sharing what he truly saw from Ulysses’ vision. What we see see if truly  a taste of things to come. I was simply mind-blown by Steve’s “future,” and how he saw this as a return to America’s greatness, America’s utopia. From the outside looking in, it rings too true of all horrors from history…or heroism, depending on where your loyalties lie. That is what Spencer hammers home.

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We are also left with a key comment by Steve: “I am not the man you think I am.” Is this metaphorical, or literal? Is this really a Steve Rogers whose history was altered by Kobik, or is this an alternate Steve Rogers inhabiting the 616-Steve’s body? How will Nick Spencer answer this? Rather, how well will Spencer answer this? Will this be a repeat of Captain America: Reborn, or will this be something with a little more spice?

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The beautiful pencils and vibrant colors rendered by Rod Reis (and many others) help to give this one-shot a very disturbing feel at times, while lending to the shifting flashbacks and feelings of Steve. You can’t have a disturbing voice without a disturbing face, and Spencer and work in perfect synergy to give us what Spencer has pushed since Steve Rogers #1: a subversive and conniving Rogers with the same moral fiber and convictions as the Cap everyone remembers, only twisted.

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Verdict

Civil War: The Oath contains possibly the best writing I’ve read from Nick Spencer thus far. He lays out a morally twisted Steve Rogers’ feelings and opinions bare for the reader to absorb, and what he leaves us with is dread cloaked in optimism. It was an engrossing and terrifying story made all the more disturbing by Rod Reis’ captivating art style. If Civil War II left a bad taste in your mouth, this story really turns that around in time for Marvel’s next event: Secret Empire.

HAIL HYDRA!

Mighty Captain Marvel

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Hello everyone this is Kay G, and today I thought I would discuss Captain Marvel’s new run. For a while Carol Danvers hasn’t been given a good wrap. I even didn’t find her very appealing. Since Civil War II she’s been known as a bitch for lack of better terms, and was starting wars that should have never happened. Danvers had death on her hands and a lot on her conscience. She was becoming to be one of the least liked characters in Marvel, and I blamed her lack of compassion combined with her crappy attitude for that. Captain Marvel has been re-released multiple times by Marvel comics; which I find unnecessary (a different rant for a different time) but I did find this series to start off very interesting and compelling.

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So introducing the new Marvel series “Mighty Captain Marvels”:

“Behold the mightiest, fightiest super hero there is! Captain Marvel returns to her helm as Alpha Flight commander with the world cheering her on. She’s the biggest hero in the world – but has Captain Marvel become someone Carol Danvers no longer recognizes?”

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Mighty Captain Marvel, is written by Margaret Stohl. Starting at issue #0, Danvers is seen in a new light. I was very skeptical about reading it. It was my partner on here who handed it to me and told me to give it a try. So I did, turned out I like it…a lot. In fact I rushed out and bought issue #1 when it came out and liked it just as much. I like the way Danvers is portrayed in this series. In others she was cocky and thought she could do whatever she wanted, consequences be damned.  In this series, she’s seen as vulnerable and learning to deal with the aftermath of what she’s done in the war. Danvers is struggling with her leadership in Alpha Flight and Ultimate’s. Plus she’s realizing how alone she really is and doing so seeks out her best friend Jessica Drew (aka Spider-Woman). Within Jessica forgiving her, she finds some peace and little more order in her life.

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Danvers still has a major attitude problem that needs to be worked on. She still has a hard time excepting things that are not her way. Although despite some of her issues, I find that Carol Danvers is really trying; even if she doesn’t like the way it’s being handled. Especially in the way that she has to seek out endorsements to keep Alpha Flight funded. Despite how Captain Marvel may appear, she really doesn’t like being the center of attention. With all this said, I highly suggest this story. It will give you a new view on who Captain Marvel, it is well written and well executed, diffidently a great read.

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DC’s The Flintstones

“Yabba dabba doo.”

Hey, all, D.C. here, and I think it’s time to discuss a series after enough reads. Up today is DC Comics The Flintstones, by the creative team of Mark Russell and Steve Pugh.

When DC Comics decided to come out with an updated version of The Flintstones, the child in me couldn’t help but be intrigued. How would this be done? How would these iconic and classic characters be portrayed? What would the tone be?

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What is The Flintstones?

…If you don’t know what The Flintstones is…then you have missed something out of your childhood. It is one of the most iconic Hanna-Barbara brands ever, debuting in the ’60s and born in the same vein as the classic sitcom The Honeymooners. If you haven’t watched it…WATCH IT.

For the sake of time, I won’t address Steve Pugh’s art, which is very good. I will focus on Russell’s take.

Story?

Satire is the name of the game with The Flintstones.

Mark Russell takes a classic cartoon series and turns it on its head with an adequate modern adaptation. Written in an episodic fashion, Russell makes note of various things that are considered beneficial, yet also can breed foolishness, in our society today. Stabs are taken at innovation of technology–particularly of appliances–that can make our lives easier, yet make us more and more materialistic. Fred deals with the pressures of purchasing such costly and faulty items.

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Religion was touched on in a comedic and intriguing fashion, and again mirroring what happens now. People always want to belong somewhere, no matter how outrageous a religion or cult’s tenants appear.

Surprisingly, the Loyal Order of Water Buffalo is portrayed as a fraternity of war veterans, both of whom Fred and Barney share membership. It is a rough issue that touches on the lack of appreciation the society gives to those survivors who suffer.

At times, Russell’s satire is hilarious. Other times, it’s insight. Many times, however, it can be scathing, almost showing a disdain for our current society and its hypocrisy regarding religion, veteran care, news, elections, marriage, bullying, science, and simple human decency. There isn’t a moment this series isn’t provocative.

One last note: character development. Russell has done a superb job dabbing into the backgrounds of Fred, Wilma, and even how Bamm-Bamm was adopted by the Rubbles (a very insightful and emotional issue).Related image

Cast?

The cast is all there, which is always a good thing, and they are all portrayed very well. You can’t have The Flintstones without the big four–Fred, Wilma, Betty, and Barney–their children, Dino, and good ol’ Mr. Slate. Even the Great Gazoo shows up in issue #3, but how it comes about is very different and interesting.

One of the most commendable efforts I’d seen from Mark Russell is the background history in some of these characters that, in their own ways, answers lingering questions from the TV show itself, in addition to establishing this revisionist history.

Fred, simply put, is a shell of a man. He’s nothing like the boisterous caveman with anger issues seen from the cartoon show. Fred is neutered, but why? We see just why when the answer to his and Barney’s time as war veterans is addressed. It is reminiscent of how some vets return from war that is emotionally or physically traumatic, or any war they find themselves used as pawns in. It is in one of the meetings with war veterans that we see the origin and meaning of Fred’s catchphrase, “Yabba dabba doo.” It is nothing bombastic, but all very appropriate.

Still, Russell continually excels at showing that, despite his submissive personality, Fred is a righteous and courageous man at heart with a strong moral character in a crowd of selfish, complacent, and ignorant people.

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One of the better parts in the beginning of the series was Russell’s dabbing in Wilma’s background history and her life being the reasons behind her optimism and artistic choices. It’s something I never expected from Russell, but he made Wilma even more endearing to me. Conversely, next to nothing has been given of Wilma’s best friend, the equally vivacious Betty Rubble, but I hope that is something Russell will address in time.

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It is hard to believe, but Fred’s boss Mr. Slate is even more reprehensible under Russell’s penmanship. Slate is as selfish and flippant as they come in The Flintstones. Frustratingly, Russell writes minute moments where we see hints of Slate’s loneliness or some sort of humility in his actions; those moments are quickly dashed with a word by Slate. It makes me want to hate Slate even more, and for that, I commend Russell’s handling of the character.

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The series is still young, and I am still waiting for Russell to develop the teenage Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, as well as Betty, Dino and the Great Gazoo. The possibility of an extended cast beyond the originals would add a little more spice to this series.

Verdict?

If you haven’t dabbled in DC’s The Flintstones yet, please do. Mark Russell does an incredible job revitalizing the classic characters while addressing a plethora of topics pertinent to our social climate. Whether you think them controversial, progressive, scathing, or biased, you cannot ignore that they are both provocative and thought-provoking, and worthy of discourse after you finish each issue.

END THROWDOWN.

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