Friday, April 30, 2010

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Some villains are just underrated.

Like any fanboy, there’s one thing about comics that I never get enough of and that’s seeing some semi-obscure character finally get their due and take center stage in a story. How long was Bullseye a lame villain until Frank Miller made him the most deadly killer in the Marvel Universe?

I liked Heroes for Hire personally, but did Luke Cage, Danny Rand, and Misty Knight mean much to people until Bendis starting writing New Avengers and Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction wrote Iron Fist? And be honest, did you even know who Jessica Drew WAS until about three or four years ago?

To me, this is the true art to comic book writing. Taking a character who has been cluttering up the works for some thirty or forty years and giving them a feel. Something that makes that character tick, that makes them fit in the big scope of the entire continuity. What’s their place, exactly? What purpose do they serve? What are they like to be around?

Now, heroes…heroes, I’d like to think, are easy to modernize. Because afterall MOST heroes are human. Or have some human qualities. It’s just a matter of establishing their strengths and flaws and letting them play out.

Villians? Villians are trickier.

Not every villain has that phantom-of-the-opera Dr. Doom thing or savior-gone-bad Magneto thing going on.

In fact, most MAJOR Marvel villains tend to fall into two categories. They’re either screaming, cheesy powerhouses who say things like "NO! I will DESTROY YOU! DESTROY! Victory will be MINE!" or they’re bloodthirsty, inhuman monsters who have almost no thought or emotion other than the instinct to kill. But you know what? Sometimes making a villain work is just a matter of letting it ride.

Okay, fine, maybe they are a relentless powerhouse hellbent on destroying the heroes and that’s their only motivation. Or maybe they’re just a sick fiend with nothing on their mind but death. And we don’t have to reinvent the wheel and come up with some complicated inner-turmoil or revamp to justify it. Instead we just need to "go big or go home" with it. If they’re crazy, HELL, make them really crazy, but make them dangerous, something that the heroes have to stop and contend with and worry about.

I’d like to think that Annihilus is a good example of the best of both worlds formula of supervillian- a raving lunatic who borders on being a sadistic, animal (a big, insect-like spore growth in a metal suit). The thing is? For the longest time, Annihilus was PATHETIC. There was no reason for him to be. Besides superhuman strength and stamina, a cunning intellect, and a reputation across the Negative Zone (see last week's post) that has earned him the title "The Living Death Who Walks." Annihilus sports a Cosmic Control Rod, a piece of technology designed after he literally ingested the entire knowledge of the civilization that birthed him, the Tyannans. The Rod allows Annihilus to control and manipulate matter and ultimately, makes him immortal (his only real goal- survival for survival’s sake. Annihilus is obsessed with living, despite the harsh existence of the Negative Zone.)

Pretty badass villain, right?

But for the longest time Annihilus was always saying, and doing, stupid, STUPID things. He was the LAMEST villain. I SWEAR there is a panel of Annihilus in an issue of Fantastic Four answering a phone call after sneaking into the Baxter Building (the F.F.’s HQ). After the caller hangs up, Annihilus laughs to himself, saying something like: “Foolish woman! She had no idea who I was AT ALL! HA HA HA!" This comic really exists. I can’t place the issue, but it was definitely John Byrne’s run of F.F. in the 80’s (not knocking on John Byrne…I think he was trying to get at the alien-ness of Annihilus, the idea that what seemed trivial to us was a monumental victory to him. But still. Come on.)

I’ve made it clear that I was an Annihilation and an Annihilation: Conquest fan. The cosmic set of characters in Marvel is very under-rated. It’s strange to mix Star Wars kind-of mentality with superheroes; I know it gets a weird flavor in your mouth. I really think Kieth Giffen has sort of launched this line into a new renaissance. The Kree and the Skrull, Galactus, the Phalanx and the High Evolutionary, I'm kind of loving it all coming together, lately.

And my favorite bit, of course? Annihilus.

THIS was the Annihilus that you always imagined he would be. At the head of a massive, insect-like invasion fleet from another dimension, carving his way across the universe in a storm of blood. This is what Annihilus needed. Not a revamp. Not a new character becoming a new Annihilus. They just needed to give the guy a chance to REALLY DO what he had always been threatening to do: conquer the whole damn universe!

See, it’s OKAY to have a villain rave and say obsessive-like things, IF they’ve really got the juice to back up the threat. Annihilus’ disturbed ramblings seemed a lot less comical when he was helming his weird hive battlecruiser and blowing the Shi’ar, the Kree and the Skrull to pieces.

Of course, Annihilation was also a sort of end to Annihilus; Richard Ryder (A.K.A. Nova) literally ripped his frickin’ guts out. I mean REALLY though- he stuck his hand down his throat and just tore Annihilus' weird, freaky, spore-born organs out. A nice, over-the-top, grisly end for an over-the-top villain. Or hey…maybe not? The Cosmic Control Rod has some interesting properties and Annhilation ends with a baby spore-insect born in the hands of one of Annihilus’ former generals.

Baby Annihilus has made another appearance recently, in War of Kings: Ascension (which I’m a fan of too, lately - again, some really obscure players in the Marvel Universe are the big stars, so it’s not for everybody). It’s complicated and Darkhawk (an underrated Marvel hero who is often struggling with visions/prophecies about the future in one form or another) is involved, but let’s just say that the days of angry, raving anthropomorphic power-armored insect supervillains probably aren’t over yet.

The classics never die.

Review - Artifacts #0


Anytime I see a Top Cow title with Ron Marz and Stjepan Sejic working on it I already know that I am going to enjoy it. When I first began my venture into these series was back when Image was the publisher with Witchblade #1 by Marc Silvestri. I spent some time away from comics after a few issues and still remember this being one of my favorites in my collection.

Since being reintroduced to the series with the recent War of the Witchblades storyline however I have immediately become enamored not only with Witchblade, but the titles surrounding it such as The Darkness, Angelus and The Magdalena. It is apparent that the Top Cow universe contains many special people with both their own powers but also powerful artifacts in them.

Artifacts #0 introduces us to all of these powerful items, and in turn shows us how, in the wrong hands, they could destroy and reshape the world. While I am a fan of Top Cow, either because this is the first time they have been revealed or as a result of my time away, I was unaware of the sheer number of items out there. With this issue that has been remedied, and I could NOT be more excited for the epic tale that is about to be put together by Marz and a stable of talented artists.

Artifacts #0 introduces us to the events to come through the words of a hidden narrator and the eyes of the Cyborg assassin Aphrodite. She is as deadly as she is beautiful as one would expect from a vixen from the Top Cow stable. She has battled The Darkness and Witchblade on different occasions and it seems will soon be fighting with others with their own unique powers. The agency that controlled Aphrodite has been destroyed and she is left without a master to give her orders. Our mysterious narrator wants to correct that, and asks her assistance in gathering the artifacts together after healing her.

In her rehabilitation chamber she is given all the information currently at her host's disposal on the 13 Artifacts and what will happen if they are all brought together. The recent actions of both villains and heroes across the universe are tied together in a pattern that seems to indicate a great battle is looming on the horizon. The only question that remains is whether the forces of good will rise together as one to prevent the destruction and reshaping of the world in the image of our this unknown enemy.

If you were looking for a better time to be introduced to and meet all major players of the Top Cow Universe, I can’t think of a better place than this. Not only is this issue available tomorrow but it is available for FREE on FCBD tomorrow, Sat. May 1, at stores around the country. As a new fan, this is your ultimate chance to check out the art and writing of two of the biggest names in Top Cows stable. As a veteran fan this will set you up nicely for the 13 issue yearlong epic event to come. I know I’ll be looking out for it.

Still not convinced? Check out some interiors below.








Preview - Iron Man: Supernova

Do you like your free comics with a preview beforehand? Then you're in luck! If you're looking to pick up Iron Man: Supernova that is.

The all-ages book is by Paul Tobin and Craig Rousseau (Ed McGuinness does the cover) and features the teamup between Iron Man and Nova against the Red Ghost.

“Marvel has always been committed to providing the highest quality all-ages material on Free Comic Book Day,” said David Gabriel, Senior Vice President of Sales & Circulation. “We appreciate the support of all retailers in helping to introduce our great medium to a new generation!”

The comic and the preview (after the jump) are both free.

Archaia FCBD Signings

Free Comic Book Day has become so much more than just a day to get free comics and kill comic book stores' single day sales numbers. It's also a day for the publishers to get out there and interact with more casual fans that may not make it to the cons. Archaia has released their list of appearances, and I'm happy to say there's some Boston love!

Check the list after the jump.

ARCHAIA ANNOUNCES FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2010 SIGNINGS

EVENTS TAKING PLACE WITH ARCHAIA CREATORS AROUND THE COUNTRY

Los Angeles, CA (April 29, 2010) – In celebration and support of Free Comic Book Day on Saturday, May 1, 2010, in which comic book shops across the country and the world give out free comic books to anyone who comes through their doors, Archaia Entertainment is proud to announce creator appearances at the following locations:

Nichol Ashworth (writer, Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock FCBD flip book)
1 – 3 p.m. ET
Comicopia
464 Commonwealth Ave., #13
Boston, MA 02215
(617) 266-4266, www.comicopia.com

A. David Lewis (writer, Some New Kind of Slaughter, Lone and Level Sands)
Call for hours (ET)
New England Comics (Allston location)
131 Harvard Ave.
Allston, MA 02134
(617) 783-1848, www.newenglandcomics.com

Anthony Coffey and Jesse LabbĂ© (writers/artists, Berona’s War)
10 a.m. -??? CT
Limited quantities of First Edition of Berona’s War: Field Guide will be available
Heroes and Dreams
5352 Highway 25, Suite 1650
Flowood, MS 39232
(601) 992-3100, www.heroesanddreams.com

David Petersen (writer/artist, Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock FCBD flip book)
11 a.m. – 3 p.m. CT
Graham Crackers Comics (Chicago Loop location)
77 E. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 629-1810, www.grahamcrackers.com

Joshua Hale Fialkov (writer, Tumor)
Jeff Stokely (artist, Fraggle Rock #1)
11 a.m. – 5 p.m. PT
Comic Bug
1807 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 372-6704, www.thecomicbug.com

Sam Humphries (writer, Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock FCBD flip book)
Jeremy Love (artist, Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock FCBD flip book)
David Lanphear (letterer, Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock FCBD flip book)
Special appearance by Red Fraggle and Karen Prell
11 a.m. – 3 p.m. PT
Meltdown Comics
7522 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 851-7223, www.meltcomics.com

Jake Myler (artist, Mouse Guard/Fraggle Rock FCBD flip book)
12 – 3 p.m. PT
Zanadu Comics (Downtown location)
1923 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 443-1316, www.zanaducomics.com


About Archaia

Archaia has built an unparalleled reputation for producing meaningful content that perpetually transforms minds. With a slate including the popular Eisner Award-winning title Mouse Guard, as well as Awakening, The Killer, Robotika, Killing Pickman, Artesia, Titanium Rain, The God Machine, Gunnerkrigg Court, Roddenberry Productions’ Days Missing, The Jim Henson Company library, and the Publisher’s latest additions of Lucid and Mr. Murder Is Dead with Before the Door Pictures and Syndrome with Fantasy Prone, Archaia has become synonymous with quality content.

For more information on Archaia or any Archaia titles please visit www.Archaia.com. Archaia can also be found on Facebook (facebook.com/archaiacomics), MySpace (myspace.com/archaiacomics) and Twitter (twitter.com/archaiacomics).

Chris Hemsworth as Thor

Remember that picture of Destroyer from yesterday? Yahoo! Movies has one-upped it with an actual picture of Chris Hemsworth as Thor.

Color me approved.

The World Ended in 1968

I wasn't around in 1968, meaning I can't attest to any of the events of that year. Apparently, The Beatles hit #1 with "Hey Jude," Steve McQueen participated in the greatest car chase in "Bullitt" and the Big Mac was born. Or was it? Not in the Image Comics version of '68 #1.

What started as a one-shot by Mark Kidwell, Nat Jones and Jay Fotos, '68 #1 starts the continuation of the Vietnam zombie epic. It picks up where the one-shot left off and splits attention between the violence in Vietnam and the political turmoil in the US. The turmoil is worsened by a zombie uprising.

"Nat, Jay and I have wanted to expand on the story in '68 for years," Kidwell shares, "but other commitments and projects just kept getting in the way. All the roadblocks are down now, and we're revving full-tilt boogie back into the jungle."

The 32-color page first issue will be available Fall/Winter 2010. In the meantime, the creative trio will be at the 2010 Phoenix Comicon May 27-30, where they will be presenting a limited edition 11" x 17" print featuring Napalm Charlie.

Full press release after the jump.

WELCOME TO 1968...AND THE END OF THE WORLD!
Kidwell, Jones and Fotos invite you to forget what you "think" you know about 1968...

Berkeley, CA - 29 April 2010 - After February 13th, 1968, everything changed. The Beatles did not soar to Billboard's #1 spot with "HEY JUDE." Steve McQueen would not lay claim to the greatest car chase in cinema history with BULLITT. McDonald's would never offer a Big Mac, and hundreds of thousands of children who dreamt of reaching the stars would never get any closer to a space capsule than a glass of Tang. And amid the deadly steaming jungles of Vietnam, the violent clash of democracy against the creeping threat of communism stalls as the war-torn People's Republic gives up its hungry dead.

The zombies are back in the razor wire...

Mark Kidwell, Nat Jones and Jay Fotos, creators of the cult hit one-shot comic '68, announce the continuation of their horrific Vietnam/Zombie epic. The '68 miniseries picks up right where the original tale left off and broadens its scope, encompassing not only the gore-soaked horrors of the war in the east, but fixing a bloodshot eye on the politically torn USA as the dead rise, heralding the apocalypse and devouring anything with a pulse.

"Nat, Jay and I have wanted to expand on the story in '68 for years," Kidwell shares, "but other commitments and projects just kept getting in the way. All the roadblocks are down now, and we're revving full-tilt boogie back into the jungle."

"This is what we do," Jones explains. "We are Horror guys, and jumping back into the world of '68 really gets our creative juices going! We have a lot more story to tell and more importantly, we are having a lot of grisly fun with it!"

On top of all of the '68 zombie action, the new series will also feature a bloody backup story! These 4-5 page side stories tie directly into the main plot line, fleshing out the violent world of '68. Illustrated by Tim Vigil (FAUST, BUMP), expect some dark business in these bonus pages.

"How cool is that!" Fotos exclaims. "Having Vigil come in to draw zombie filled stories for every issue! I'm so amped to get these books out!"

'68 #1 (of 4), a full-color 32-page comic book, will be available from Image Comics in Fall/Winter 2010.

To celebrate the continuation of '68, Kidwell, Jones and Fotos will be attending the 2010 Phoenix Comicon, May 27-30, 2010. The creators are proud to present an exclusive, limited edition print -- a gruesome, full-color 11" x 17" depiction of Napalm Charlie -- signed by Kidwell, Jones and Fotos. Find out more at www.phoenixcomicon.com.

Image Comics is a comic book and graphic novel publisher founded in 1992 by a collective of best-selling artists. Image has since gone on to become one of the largest comics publishers in the United States. Image currently has five partners: Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Todd McFarlane, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino. It consists of four major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline and Image Central. Image publishes comics and graphic novels in nearly every genre, sub-genre, and style imaginable. It offers science fiction, romance, horror, crime fiction, historical fiction, humor and more by the finest artists and writers working in the medium today. For more information, visit www.imagecomics.com.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jonah Hex Trailer

Without further ado, the trailer for Jonah Hex.

I like the steampunk feel of the movie, but I worry that it's going to be really bad. I mean, the highlights show some gunplay, John Malkovich in a creepy role, Megan Fox as a prostitute and Josh Brolin scarred. It does have Lance Reddick though! Any alumna from The Wire is ok in my book.

Peep the trailer after the jump.

Manga – The Other…er…shoot…It’s Golden Week in Japan


For those of you that aren’t aware, Golden Week in Japan is a week of holidays where Manga and Anime typically end up with the week off to celebrate things. I think that is how it goes anyways. What’s that? You don’t trust my extraordinarily in-depth knowledge of Japanese culture and holidays? Good for you, perhaps the two people that read this article aren’t as gullible as I thought. Still curious what it is though? Go ahead and click this or copy it into your URL: Golden Week.

So what will I be doing in the meantime? Perhaps I’ll read some webcomics to pass the time. Maybe I’ll dig up some old comics I’ve been looking to catch up on or re-read for entertainment. Playing Monster Hunter Tri might find its way onto my agenda as well. Either way, tune in next week and we’ll be right back on track for some Manga goodness to find out what's the latest happenings in the worlds of Bleach and Naruto. Don’t be sad everyone, it is only one week.




Iron Man 2: Iron Maiden

It seems like only yesterday that Iron Man flew into theaters and stole our hearts. Aww. The first film was enough of a rousing success that a sequel was warranted and this time, there's more of everything. Some of the new characters you may not be familiar with, so every Tuesday and Thursday until the film's release Omnicomic will be profiling one of the characters in the film.

Disclaimer: Please note that while Olivia Munn has been confirmed in the sequel, her role as Iron Maiden has yet to be defined. The internets seem to think that's a good bet though, so we're running with it.


Real Name: Melina Vostokoff

Origin: Unknown

Abilities: Iron Maiden isn’t your normal Marvel character as she’s not a super, but does wear a particularly useful iron suit that is made of lightweight material allowing her maximum mobility, with solid protection from all sorts of projectiles, energy attacks and more. This is in addition to packing an assortment of weapons to bring the pain on someone and, like Black Widow, she's a spy and one badass assassin.

First Comic Appearance: Tales of Marvel Fanfare (1st series) #11 (1983)

Background: Iron Maiden has the same sort of story that Black Widow has and actually Iron Maiden was the name considered for Black Widow as well. She was an assassin for the Russian Government for a good bit of time doing various jobs for them with one in particular being to kill Black Widow. Melina could have won the battle if some S.H.E.I.L.D. troops didn’t show up and chase her off into the sewers. Now Iron Maiden is an assassin-for-hire sort of in the vane of Deadpool, but with nowhere near the mouth. She'll work for whomever hires her.

One prominent group she belongs to went by the name Superia; the group lived and operated out of a place called Femizonia, an all women place. It’s during this time Iron Maiden was involved in some pretty high level sorts of plots. One of which ended with the capturing of Captain America and Paladin as they tried to sneak their way to Femizonia, but as superheroes are they escaped and the Superia were defeated. During the Civil War that rage across the Marvel Universe Iron Maiden wanted no part of it and attempted to run for the border to Canada. She was apprehended by members of the Thunderbolts and through some threats and a little pushing was convinced to join them.

Black Widow
Iron Man
Justin Hammer
Nick Fury
Pepper Potts
War Machine
Whiplash

Review - The Last Days of American Crime #2

Radical Comics has really produced a lot of great books recently, but The Last Days of American Crime is my favorite. Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini have combined to write and draw a compelling and brutal adult book about what might happen if every criminal mind in the country realized they only had a matter of days left to commit crimes. On the one hand, maybe they would just give up and go legit as an advance way to get ready for the new world. This story focuses on the criminal element on the other side of the argument, namely everyone who is out for one last huge score before the order hits.

If you missed the first issue the basic premise is that the American Government has come up with an Orwellian means of mind control that will prevent people from disobeying the law in any way. This will occur as a part of the American Peace Initiative where a radio frequency will be broadcast that will effectively control people’s actions while within range.

In addition to this the government is converting all paper money to plastic digital currency. These cards will be able to be loaded by a select few machines at a highly guarded location. Graham Brick is a security guard at the facility they are being kept at, only there he is known as Rory. This issue shows him setting his plan into motion while contending with some old friends who have come back from the dead.

The story opens at a gang headquarters where we witness a brutal murder and then a boss that wants Graham because he seems to realize that Graham has a plan to steal a money machine. Graham also had a rough encounter with one of his underlings named Enrique that seems to be quite connected in the criminal world. Flash to Graham, who is at work, double-crossing his superiors and setting up his heist. Graham is worried because he is getting too close to Shelby Dupree, the beautiful and seductive hacker who is critical to Graham’s plan to make the machine work. Why would that worry him? Perhaps because of the muscle that comes along with Shelby.

From here we get a better look at the man Kevin Cash. The thugs who sell drugs to him decide to try to attack him after the fact. What follows are three very brutal and somewhat stomach wrenching deaths for the dealers. After that Kevin pays his family home a visit and promptly takes the place apart. He is VERY scary. Once it is complete he calls Shelby and we hear a half conversation that seems to indicate that Graham may be getting double crossed.

Soon after this Shelby is kidnapped by the gang and Graham is left for dead in a burning room. The following chase and recovery of the very important hacker is a really well drawn and executed series of scenes and we get an idea for how hardcore Graham is. As with any good crime-ridden scene, another cliffhanger awaits as Graham exits the building only to face down another group of guns.

What can I say? I love it. It is gritty and messy and the story progresses nicely. The picture of how Graham intends to pull off the heist is coming together nicely, but it is becoming obvious that other people want a piece of the action. There are double-crosses developing and I’m not sure what the outcome will be. Over the top of everything this issue leaves us four days away from all of these activities becoming literally impossible if the signal works. The characters develop nicely and there is plenty of stomach wrenching, sometimes brutal action to keep you turning the pages.

I love the almost watercolor feel to the artwork because it seems to match up well with the feel of a world gone crazy. Everyone is a little out of control and from the lack of straight edges in the artwork gives the scenes that crazy out of control feel the writing seems to be going for. I can’t wait for this series to continue, and if it does end up converted to other forms of media as has been reported I hope they can convey the feeling of a collapsing society into that as well as is done in this book.

Preview - Hawks of Outremer #1

Remember that Hawks of Outremer comic I told you about a few weeks ago? Not content to just announce it's arrival, BOOM! Studios has since decided to offer readers a sneak peak at the first few pages of the comic. Enjoy them after the jump.


First Look at Destroyer in Thor

It's a completely useless picture, a suit of armor, standing on a platform in the middle of a desert. Useless until you realize that the suit of armor is actually the Destroyer and is the first leaked image from the tight-lipped filming that is the Thor movie.

According to Latino Review, the incarnation of the being sent to earth by Loki to destroy Thor is 9' tall. The lore behind is goes something along the lines of Odin forgin it for good. Of course, Loki manages to use it for his purposes and it comes close to killing Thor on more than one occasion.  I think the most interesting fact from this is that it's 9 feet tall, which means the scale in this movie is going to be awesome. I mean, it is a film about Norse gods, and I really hope that there's that sense of awe that comes with seeing an eight-nine foot tall Norse god descend upon you.

It wouldn't surprise me if DMCAs start getting tossed around the net, so get in that glimpse while you can.

Dragon Puncher Hits Stores in July

Probably not a good idea to punch a dragon. Sure, you'll be able to say that you did it. But you probably won't last long after your blow. Top Shelf Comix is intent on seeing you through such an encounter and are releasing a work called Dragon Puncher this summer.

Written and illustrated by James Kochalka, Dragon Puncher (Vol. 1) is about a cute, but ruthless, kitty in a battle suit. That's right. A cat in a battle suit. Where are the dragons you ask? They would be the enemies that said kitty in a battle suit are sworn to find and punch. Along with his sidekick Spoony-E, the two confront a dragon in what is described as a "ridiculous, hilarious brawl." Frank Miller approves.

"Kochalka's work makes me feel like I did when I was six years old. He brings the joy back to comics." -- Frank Miller, creator of Sin City, 300, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

The 40-page, hardcover 6x9 graphic novel will set you back this July. Full text after the jump.

Dragon Puncher (Vol 1)

by James Kochalka

$9.95 (US)

ISBN 978-1-60309-057-5 - Diamond: MAY10-1137
Pre-Order
Preview

"Kochalka channels his inner child as well as any comic book creator who has ever lived." -- Timothy Callahan, Comic Book Resources

"Kochalka's work makes me feel like I did when I was six years old. He brings the joy back to comics." -- Frank Miller, creator of Sin City, 300, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

"Do four-year-olds need an oddball, absurdist, semisurreal, homemade comic book in their lives? Indie stalwart Kochalka thinks so, and he may just convince you... If it sounds as though it were hatched in Kochalka’s backyard playing with his family, there’s an excellent chance that’s the case. But through Kochalka’s guerilla, one-man-and-a-pen style of creation, it magically captures the exact sense of zaniness often discovered in such a playtime and found in some of the best TOON Book titles... and with huge panels and spare dialogue that will amuse kids and adults, it’s also the rare graphic novel that makes an excellent read-aloud." -- Booklist

From the fertile mind of James Kochalka (Johnny Boo, Pinky & Stinky) comes an all-new fantasy adventure for all ages!

Meet the Dragon Puncher, a cute but ruthless kitty in an armored battle suit, dedicated to defeating dangerous dragons wherever they may be. The Dragon Puncher and his would-be sidekick Spoony-E (a fuzzy little fellow armed with a wooden spoon) confront a gigantic, drooling dragon and have a ridiculous, hilarious brawl.

Boldly combining Kochalka's signature cartooning with hilarious photography, Dragon Puncher is also a unique visual treat. Kids will go nuts for this goofy backyard adventure. -- A 40-Page Full-Color Hardcover Graphic Novel, 6" x 9"

SHIPPING IN JULY!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dial S For H-I-D-D-E-N-S-I-N-P-H-O-N-E-B-O-O-T-H

DC has just released Showcase Presents: Dial H for Hero was one of those late 60’s early 70’s concepts that came out of one of the more experimental times in mainstream comics. Originally debuting in the DC anthology series, House of Mystery in 1966, Dial H concerned Robert Reed, a teen from Littleville (a small Colorado town) who discovers the dial in a cavern.

The dial looked much like an old dial from a telephone but with cryptic symbols that Robert was able to translate into English. The mystery of the dial is never fully explained (it is hinted in DC’s continuity that it might have some connection to the 31st century Legion of Superheros) and this makes the dial into something of a McGuffin: a mystery that has no real purpose or solution in the narrative.

When Robert dials the letters H-E-R-O on the dial he is instantly transformed into a super powered being (like The Mole or Giant Boy). Dialing O-R-E-H causes him to revert to human form. This device is the motivation for Robert to operate as a powerful, but small town superhero in and around his town of Littleville.

As part of the dialing gimmick Robert has to contend with enemies who manage to steal his device and turn into supervillans by dialing V-I-L-L-A-I-N. At one point early in the series Robert’s girlfriend uses the device to dial H-E-R-O-I-N-E, which allows her to transform into a temporary superhero called “Gem Girl.” Towards the end of the House of Mystery run, Robert’s girlfriend gets a blow to the head which conveniently allows her to forget about the device, her boyfriend’s use of it and all the rest.

The gimmick of Dial H for Hero appeared off and on after the end of the original run in series like Plastic Man and a noteworthy arc in the Justice League where the dial transforms JLA members into other alternate superheroes. The early 80’s saw a serious reboot of Dial H, spearheaded by Marv Wolfman and Carmine Infantino. As part of this, DC offered a high degree of reader involvement by allowing readers to submit superhero/supervillain ideas which DC would then use as part of this book’s narrative (these characters became property of DC).

The new series had two dials found by a two young teens, Christopher King and Vicki Grant, who lived in the small town of Fairfax in New England. These dials were more readily disguised by the two teenagers as a watch and necklace. A couple of new catches were put into place during this run; mainly that the powers could only be used for an hour (and then not used again for another hour). In addition, transformations could only be done into superhero mold and not supervillain mold. The Dial H for Hero series ended with the M. Night Shyamalan like twist that the Hero dials had been planted by Robert Reed, the original protagonist of the 60's version of "Dial H."

As recently as 2003 DC resurrected the "Dial H" concept with the series H.E.R.O. This series had some connection to the original series with an older Robert Reed trying to find the missing Hero dial before a serial killer nabs it. The series ran for 22 issues and ended with Reed and several other internalizing the powers of the dial.

The Legacy and Influence of Dial H for Hero

Don Markenstein's entries on Dial H for Hero make the point that the series were kind of a pumped up version of the Captain Marvel idea, where there is an element of wish fulfillment on the part of the reader and the comic that is not so blatantly spelled out in other superhero narratives.
The idea that everyone can be a superhero is one of the hallmarks of contemporary culture (Survivor) and of course contemporary comics (Kick-Ass).

The animated series Ben 10 has a premise that is seemingly directly lifted from the "Dial H" series. Also, the idea to have fanboys in on the creative process was a new one 30 years ago. Today of course fanboys not only are in on the creative process, many would argue that they drive the creative process with Twitter, Facebook and even with sites like this one, influencing the casting, narrative and production decisions made by those antiquated Hollywood production companies.

At the end of the day "Dial H" is one of the quirkiest inventions of the Silver Age, along with Doom Patrol and the Metal Men, and it seems only a matter of time before a reference shows up on Brave and the Bold.

Review - Incorruptible #5


Incorruptible is the story about a former #1 most wanted criminal turned good guy after the world’s most powerful superhero, The Plutonian, turns villainous and slaughters a whole town. The hero, formerly the most feared villain in the world, is Max Damage. He is aptly named in that if he shows up for a situation typically the most possible collateral damage will occur. The first four issues really set up the back story of why Max Damage decided to become a superhero. This issue starts off as one of his comrades goes missing.

Overall this was a nice continuation of the story, and I thought we got a better look at the personality of Max Damage, but for reasons I’ll discuss after the break I was distracted for the entire time while reading this issue. Essentially Max has had a sidekick named Jailbait (use your imagination) and she got into a fight with him and has left. For reasons Max elaborates on that are not conducive to her health. Read on for my impressions of this issue.

Let’s start with the story as that aspect of the series kept up its pacing and left me very entertained. Essentially Max’s sidekick Jailbait, as I said before, has run away after a bit of a misunderstanding while fighting a villain at the end of issue #4. Issue #5 opens with Max rescuing a girl from the back of a car after he mistakenly thinks it is his sidekick. After forcing her to dress in Jailbait’s uniform we find out that the reason is so people won’t know she is missing. He feels that she will get kidnapped to try to get to him, and that terrifies him.

I think in the past Max the villain wouldn’t have been fazed by this, but Max the hero truly is trying to be a caring individual. There are a few fun fights and his new temp sidekick gets dragged around. The issue ends with a gift from a villain named Deathgiver that leaves Max looking the most shaken I’ve seen in the whole series to date. Even when he was in Sky City the day The Plutonian melted down 3.5 million people he didn’t look so personally hurt, just hopeless.

This brings me too the part of the book that distracted me a bit. For the first four issues, Jean Diaz has been doing the artwork with Mark Waid writing. Suddenly in issue #5 Horacio Domingues has taken over the art duties and his art style is very different. Before the characters had some hard edges to them that gave the book a more crisp look. Domingues draws the characters in a way that makes it seem more cartoonish, if that makes any sense. I am not saying that I didn’t like it; just that it caught me off-guard. The only thing bugging me is that Max Damage’s power is that he gets harder the longer he is awake and the sharp edges seemed to match up with that. The characters were consistent and some of the fight scenes were very entertaining, but the new art style will just take some getting used to.

Overall the story is still one of my favorites around and Mark Waid really seems to have a knack for keeping the pacing going really well. We saw a caring side of Max in this issue that went beyond simply his newfound upholding of the law and morality and he still seems unstoppable after being up for a day or two. This series doesn’t fail to entertain and even though the new art doesn’t personally resonate with me this iss still an issue well worth picking up in stores. For a quick peak at some interiors take a look below.