Friday, July 30, 2010

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Robots. They’ve been around a long time. From C-3P0 and R2-D2 to Data on Star Trek, the idea of machine-made man (or the other way around, or man with machine parts, or whatever) is practically, well, boring, by now.

Well, not boring in the sense that we’re sick of robots exactly. I mean, robots are cool. It’s just that it’s hard to come up with something new about robots these days. We’ve seen it all- robots as sidekicks that act like people (Star Wars, Lost in Space), robots who, for some reason, secretly wish to be human (Star Trek, 2001), robots that relentlessly hunt you down and try to kill you dead (Terminator, Brainiac from Superman, Ultron from Avengers), robots who drink and revel in being robots (yeah, I’m a big Futurama fan).

And remember that thing, in the nineties, when everybody was into cyborgs? It was like, if you didn’t have at least one limb removed and remade into some machine form and some crazy suped-up gun and a bunch of wires sticking out of various parts of your outfit, than you didn’t know what hardcore was. Deathlok, Cable, Cyborg, Cyborg Superman (no, that wasn’t a typo- Cyborg A.K.A. Vic Stone is cool. Cyborg Superman, A.K.A. Hank Henshaw is deranged and freakishly evil). And okay- so I like Robocop. There. I said it. Don’t judge me. The third movie will surprise you. I’m not saying it’s a great movie. I’m saying it’ll surprise you. That’s all.

But yeah, we’ve kind of tapped this out, haven’t we? It’s hard to come up with a really good, original robot-like character because, really, what’s left to do? It isn’t that robots aren’t going to be around- why would we ditch them out now? It’s just that there aren’t many original stories left to tell with them, maybe.

Strangely, I find that at times like this it’s the less appreciated characters that have a way of finding themselves in the spotlight. It’s kind of like when a concept gets tapped out, you start to look for the potential in the characters that were overlooked. For example, Metal Men is a pretty frickin’ awesome comic, I gotta say. Like so many great, overlooked DC titles, it got a badly needed relaunch recently as a miniseries. Written and illustrated by Duncan Rouleau, I highly recommend it. A really nice blend of the old 1950’s cheesiness that drove the book with some modern sophistication in the storytelling.

I suppose the Metal Men can easily fall in that ‘cute, sidekick’ category (not that they aren’t a force to be reckoned with- there’s a pretty awesome Superman/Batman arc with them, in case you don’t believe me)- but if something sets them apart, I guess I’d have to say that they're kind of magic? Really, it’s got this almost childlike innocence to it. Like the science isn’t really important- what’s important is that A. they’re alive, somehow and B. they’re kind of their own, unique form of life. So, the Metal Men are like muppets? Yeah, I just said that. They’re like muppets. Seriously- if there was ever a Metal Men movie, I’d want Jim Henson studios on board. It’s that kind of ‘feel’ to it, I think, that makes the book tick.

I think if there’s somebody whose aged well, when we talk about Robots, it’s Metallo, though. I use to think Metallo was the lamest villain ever. Now, granted, I think a lot of Superman villains ARE underrated; Lex seems to be the only one anyone ever remembers, but really, the Superman rogues' gallery is intricate and diverse (Wonder Woman villains get even less ‘press’ and are just as cool- Dr. Poison freaks me the &*%$ out, by the way).

But Metallo never interested me. I even thought his NAME was lame. “Metal-O”. I mean, c’mon. He seemed like a chump compared to Brainiac or Cyborg Superman. It always seemed to go the same way: Superman and Metallo fight, Metallo opens up his chest plate to reveal- GASP- some Kryptonite-fueled reactor-thingy, Superman falls to the ground panting, Lois or Jimmy or Batman run in and use some last minute plan to confuse or distract Metallo and somehow neutralize the Kryptonite, Superman slaps Metallo around. I dare you to find no less than FIVE comics that follow this formula to some degree. Go ahead, look.

But I guess, over the years, he’s kind of grown on me. And if there’s one thing that makes Metallo stick out these days, that makes him scary, it’s this: Being a robot is HELL. It isn’t fun or cool. It’s like being cut off from all human sensation. Like being encased in a metal tomb, only forever.

Metallo’s origin story is a weird Frankenstein-like variation. An extremely deluded UFO-tracker/mad scientist named Emmit Vale seemed to believe he’d be doing the world a favor by getting rid of Superman, fearing Superman would soon lead a mass Kryptonian invasion. A small time crook who got injured in a car crash, John Corbin would have died if Vale hadn’t found him and transferred his consciousness into a new, robotic body. Corbin promptly freaked out, killed Vale, and set out to hurt the obvious person to blame for the whole mess- Superman.

Now, it isn’t that Corbin doesn’t use his body to the best of his ability. Over the years, his form has gotten more and more technologically advanced and he’s got all sorts of nasty little tricks he can whip out when he’s wailing on the Man of Steel- including subverting pieces of technology to his will or reshaping parts of his body. But I think it’s that whole ‘I’ll never be human again’ thing, that really drives Metallo. ‘I’ll never feel again’. Even with Henshaw, I think it was really his wife’s death that he always blamed Superman for. I mean, okay, Henshaw and Corbin have some seemingly redundant powers and characterizations, I grant you- but with Corbin, I think it’s really the ‘you made me a monster’ angle that we’re pushing. And I’ve started to like that, for him as a villain.

Of course, they changed it. I don’t know why, but nobody gets their origin story revamped as frequently as Superman does. Superman by John Byrne post crisis, Superman: Birthright, Superman: Secret Origin…it’s hard to keep up. I think some of it is Smallville related. The show caught on and kind of reset the bar for Clark and Lex’s relationship. I admit, having them know each other as kids is dynamic. And really, I think that’s the ‘movement’ with the Superman-retelling. The characters seem a little more interrelated every time there’s a re-vamp. In the newest incarnation, Corbin is a military soldier who Lois’s high-ranking father would love to see marry his daughter. Of course, Corbin is wearing a Luthorcorp battlesuit and a horrible accident leaves him permanently fused with it.

I think this a cool spin on the really personal hatred for Superman. I mean, the newest Metallo retains a little more humanity, but not much. But not only will Corbin never be human again, but than he’s gotta see the woman he was after with the guy he blames for the whole thing? That hurts.

Preview - Taskmaster #1

I want to send you into the weekend with a preview of a new book from Marvel, Taskmaster #1.

Written by Fred Van Lente and illustrated by Jefte Paolo, Taskmaster #1 starts the sage of Taskmaster, a character who has spent years training the world's most dangerous villains how to kill. His job it going well until a rumor starts spreading that he's working for Steve Rogers, making him the target of a billion dollar bounty hunt.

The book hits stores September 1 and interiors are after the jump.

Ben Templesmith Unveils Art for Black Sky

Ben Templesmith has been hard at work on a new ilustrated film directed by Matt Pizzolo called Black Sky. Templesmith debuted some images from the film at Comic-Con and had a few things to say about it as well.

Templesmith was joined on the panel by director Pizzolo, developer Brian Giberson and co-creator Tim Seeley (yes, that Tim Seeley). The work has been described as "'Band of Brothers' vs. Cthulhu. The film is being produced by Halo-8 as both a comic book and the illustrated film. The film is set to be released this fall.

Full press release and other images from Comic-Con after the jump.

BEN TEMPLESMITH unveils new art for BLACK SKY with illustrated-film director MATT PIZZOLO

At Halo-8's "Illustrated Films & Comics" panel during SDCC10, Ben Templesmith unveiled brand new artwork for his upcoming post-apocalyptic epic BLACK SKY, a dark war-movie-style adventure described as Band of Brothers vs Cthulhu.

BLACK SKY is in production at Halo-8 as both a comic book and an "illustrated film" to be directed by Matt Pizzolo (GODKILLER).

Templesmith was joined on the panel by illustrated-film developers Pizzolo and Brian Giberson, as well as fellow creator Tim Seeley (whose LOADED BIBLE will next receive adaptation as an illustrated film) and movie producer FJ DeSanto (The Spirit, upcoming The Shadow).

Templesmith and Pizzolo announced the BLACK SKY comic book and illustrated film will debut this Fall.

About Illustrated Films
Illustrated Films are a new filmmaking format where art & cinema collide. Designed by filmmakers Matt Pizzolo and Brian Giberson, ill-films utilize comic book sequential art and add 3D-CGI, motion graphics, elaborate sound design, music, and dramatic voice performances by genre actors and rockstars. Though similar in some ways to motion comics, ill-films are a new format of cinema whereas motion comics are a new format of cartoons. Pizzolo explained at C2E2 "on first glance, ill-films and motion comics look very similar... and people might say 'it's moving comics on a screen, that's motion comics' to which I say 'just because Seinfeld is moving people captured on 35mm film doesn't make it the same thing as Full Metal Jacket.' We're filmmakers so we're bringing a cinematic sensibility to this. We animate motion in the frame, but the need for motion is different in film... it's not like Michael Madsen bounces around the frame in Reservoir Dogs the way Wakko does in Animaniacs." The first ill-film was GODKILLER, whose breakout success led to the launch of an entire slate of upcoming ill-films. GODKILLER's expectation-beating release included a platform theatrical run, multiple sold-out DVD pressings (including various shortform episodic DVDs), and VOD distribution into 75 million homes. Upcoming ill-films currently in production include Ben Templesmith's BLACK SKY, the giallo-horror THE LONG KNIVES, James Farr's XOMBIE: REANIMATED, and Tim Seeley's LOADED BIBLE.

Blood and Bones

If Predator has taught us anything it's that taking a group of commandos into the jungle on a mission can never end well. Blood and Bones is no exception to this ironclad rule.

Written by Christian Beranek and illustrated by Andrew Mangum and MaxFlan Araujo, Blood and Bones takes Jason and his merry band of commandos into the jungle to retrieve a rogue operative. This will not end well; actually, it ends in blood and bones.

"Jason, the leader of the group, must make tough decisions to survive and take down his former protege," explains Beranek. "The price he will pay, however, will test the very core of his humanity."

The independent project is seeking funds through Kickstarter to get the book into your hands.

Full presser and somewhat graphic blood and bone image after the jump.

Graphic Novel Blood and Bones asks the question "How far would you go to survive?"

Blood and Bones is a take no prisoners military horror graphic novel that asks the question "How far would you go to survive?" Written by Christian Beranek (Dracula vs. King Arthur, Willow Creek) with art by Andrew Mangum (Star-Spangled War Stories, Grimm Fairy Tales) and newcomer MaxFlan Araujo, Blood and Bones takes a team of commandos on a mission into the jungle to retrieve a rogue operative. What they discover, however, is a world lost to reason and drenched in blood!

"Jason, the leader of the group, must make tough decisions to survive and take down his former protege," explains Beranek. "The price he will pay, however, will test the very core of his humanity."

Blood and Bones is an independent project that is raising funds through Kickstarter, a popular site that has helped finance such titles as Sweets by Kody Chamberlain and Athena Voltaire by Steve Bryant. "Kickstarter is a phenomenon that's existence is a testament to the independent spirit," says Beranek. "As creators is allows us to promote and raise funds and awareness for ideas that are not backed by big corporations. It puts the power in the hands of the artists and the readers who want to see projects such as Blood and Bones succeed."

Blood and Bones artist Andrew Mangum recently completed inks for Star-Spangled War Stories with writer Billy Tucci for DC Comics. Colorist MaxFlan Araujo was discovered via a talent search. Blood and Bones is slated for a 2011 release.

For more information please visit the Blood and Bones page on Kickstarter: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/christianberanek/blood-and-bones-a-military-horror-comic-by-christi-0

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Preview - Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #1

DC Comics will no doubt give the Green Lantern the same attention up until the film's release that Batman got prior to The Dark Knight. Basically, Green Lantern will be a household name by the time the movie comes out and Ryan Reynolds kills it as Hal Jordan. In that meantime, one of the new books from DC about the character is called Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #1.

The series features Guy Gardner on a secret mission for Atrocitus, putting him right in front of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. Guy has friends of his own as well though, including Kilowog and Arisia.

The issue hits stores August 11. Check out the interiors after the jump.


Solicitation - Top 10 Deadliest Sharks

If it's the end of July, it means that August is right around the corner. It also means Discovery Channel's Shark Week is lurking in an ocean near you. Zenescope is kicking off its new all=ages imprint Silver Dragon Books with a partnership with Discovery Channel for its release of Top 10 Deadliest Sharks.

Written by Joe Brusha (and features Andy Dehart), Top 10 Deadliest Sharks is a graphic novel that examines sharks and their true nature while trying to convince you, the reader, that they're more than just mindless killing machines. The 200-page, digest size graphic novel is due in stores in August for $9.99.

Thor Trailer

So the trailer for Thor debuted at Comic-Con...no surprise there. It's now made it's debut on the internets, courtesy of Trailer Addict, which is something of a surprise. I'm guessing that this isn't the official release of the trailer, although I don't get why studios think they can actually have special releases for things like this once they've shown it the world once, but I digress. Check out the five minute video after the read more link as well as thoughts on the trailer (if you don't mind slight spoilers by seeing the trailer).

First, it's definitely going to be the origin story, but I think everyone knew that going in. Thor is brash, Odin is not pleased, Thor gets banished to Earth. Presumably, the hammer is thrown down after him as enticement to be the man he should be. The villain appears to be Loki (once again, no surprise) and presumably Thor will find the right way to be a god by the end, get the hammer and save Earth.

What's interesting to me is that they're pushing the science equals magic angle. Thor comes from Asgaard, which I suppose could be called magic since it's religion. He says that on Earth though people refer to it as science, so I'm expecting we'll be seeing some sort of happy medium between the two called technology.

The trailer looked interesting. I'm a little uncertain about the film being good though; Thor is one of those characters that hasn't ever really been a first thought character for Marvel. Then again, Iron Man wasn't really either until Robert Downey, Jr. came along, so I guess we'll see. Although anything that has Natalie Portman in it easily gets my ticket price. I adore that woman.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Preview - Shadowland: Power Man #1

Fred Van Lente and Mahmud are flexing their creative muscle on the new Shadowland: Power Man #1 from Marvel. In it, a new Power-Man has arrived and has aims to oppose Daredevil. All of this means that it's up to Luke Cage and Iron Fist to intercept him.

The book goes on sale August 18 and interiors are available now after the jump.

Days Missing: Kestus Gets Cover Artists

Days Missing: Kestus is launching in September from Archaia as the second volume in the series. It will be launched with much fanfare and to eager readers, meaning that each of the five issues will need to have equally important covers. What better way to achieve that goal than to have different artists on each cover?

“Each talented cover artist brings his own perspective of The Steward and Kestus to the series, which creates a richer, deeper understanding of these multi-layered characters,” said Roddenberry Productions Head of Development Trevor Roth.

Here's the rundown. Alex Ross will do the first issue, Jorge Molina will design issue two, Ryan Benjamin on issue three, David Mack on issue 4 and Dale Keown on issue 5. David Marquez will illustrate the interiors for all five issues while Phil Hester will lend his written word. The second volume continues the tale of The Steward and his relationship with the newly discovered Kestus.

“Archaia and Roddenberry Productions have assembled five of the best cover artists in the industry today to lend their talents to this exciting franchise,” said Archaia Editor-in-Chief Stephen Christy. “It just goes to show that Days Missing is one of the best science-fiction comics out there, and this new set of issues will not only just add to its popularity, but bring in new fans!”

Days Missing: Kestus #1 will be published under Archaia’s new Black Label and hits stores in September for $3.95. Full press release and alternate cover after the jump.

FIVE SUPERSTAR COVER ARTISTS ANNOUNCED FOR ARCHAIA AND RODDENBERRY’S ‘DAYS MISSING: KESTUS’

ALEX ROSS, DALE KEOWN AND DAVID MACK AMONG THE ARTISTS ILLUSTRATING THE COVERS TO THE SECOND VOLUME OF THIS HIT MINISERIES

Los Angeles, CA (July 27, 2010) – At the Archaia: Black Label panel at San Diego Comic-Con, Archaia Entertainment and Roddenberry Productions proudly announced the all-star lineup of cover artists contributing to the second volume of the critically acclaimed comic book series DAYS MISSING.

A different artist will illustrate each of the five upcoming covers of Days Missing: Kestus, which launches in September. As previously announced, Alex Ross (Kingdom Come, Astro City) will be creating the cover for issue #1. Jorge Molina (Marvel Superhero Team-Up, What If? Spiderman: House of M) will design the cover of issue #2, and Ryan Benjamin (Grifter/Midnighter, New Mutants) will lend his talents to the cover of issue #3. David Mack (Daredevil, Atomika) has signed on to draw issue #4’s cover, and Dale Keown (The Darkness, Pitt), who illustrated all of the covers for Days Missing volume 1, will return to illustrate the cover to issue #5.

“Each talented cover artist brings his own perspective of The Steward and Kestus to the series, which creates a richer, deeper understanding of these multi-layered characters,” said Roddenberry Productions Head of Development Trevor Roth.

Artist David Marquez (Syndrome: The Graphic Novel) will illustrate the pages of all five issues of the continuing epic, which fan-favorite and Eisner Award-nominated author Phil Hester (Firebreather, The Darkness, Green Arrow) will write.

Days Missing: Kestus continues the tale of The Steward, a mysterious being who has the ability to literally “fold” days of time, secretly removing critical days from history. At the end of the first series, hints were dropped that The Steward was not alone in his powers. The second series will focus on his relationship with a new being, Kestus, as well as more days for him to “fold.”

Hester and Marquez joined Archaia’s SDCC panel along with Roddenberry Productions’ CEO Rod Roddenberry. Fans were treated to a limited run, complimentary preview book written by Creator Trevor Roth and drawn by David Marquez.

“Archaia and Roddenberry Productions have assembled five of the best cover artists in the industry today to lend their talents to this exciting franchise,” said Archaia Editor-in-Chief Stephen Christy. “It just goes to show that Days Missing is one of the best science-fiction comics out there, and this new set of issues will not only just add to its popularity, but bring in new fans!”

Days Missing: Kestus will be published under Archaia’s new Black Label line of titles, which specializes in co-developing intellectual properties with prestigious partners who are seeking to flesh out and realize their original ideas through the use of Archaia’s resources.

Issue #1 of Days Missing Vol. 2: Kestus (five-issue miniseries, full color, $3.95, 32 pages, Diamond Order Code JUL10 0764) is set to debut in September wherever comic books are sold.

Future updates on the series, including preview images and other behind-the-scenes material, can be found at www.daysmissing.com.


About Archaia Entertainment

Archaia has built an unparalleled reputation for producing meaningful content that perpetually transforms minds. Archaia is: An Elegy for Amelia Johnson, Artesia, Awakening, Beautiful Scars, Berona’s War, The Black Knight, Critical Millennium, Cyclops, The Dark Crystal, Dark Fall, Days Missing, The Devil’s Handshake, The Engineer, Everlast, Feeding Ground, Fraggle Rock, God Machine, The Grave Doug Freshley, Gunnerkrigg Court, Hybrid Bastards!, Inanna’s Tears, The Killer, Killing Pickman, Labyrinth, The Lone and Level Sands, Lucid, Miranda Mercury, Moon Lake, Mouse Guard, Mr. Murder Is Dead, Okko, One in a Million, Primordia, Return of the Dapper Men, Robotika, Saga, The Secret History, Some New Kind of Slaughter, Starkweather: Immortal, Syndrome, Titanium Rain, Trial By Fire, Tumor and 10 more new titles in 2010.

For more information on Archaia or any Archaia titles please visit www.Archaia.com or the Archaia Facebook page at facebook.com/archaiacomics. Follow Archaia on Twitter at twitter.com/archaiacomics.

About Roddenberry Productions

Roddenberry Productions is a science-fiction leader with a tradition of groundbreaking entertainment and quality merchandise. Originally founded in 1967 by Gene Roddenberry, the company has since led a steady stable of science fiction successes including Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda and, most notably, the Star Trek brand. Roddenberry Productions continues to produce entertainment for all audiences, employing a viewer-centric creative process and resulting in insightful visions of humanity. Its merchandising business is based on quality and authenticity providing memorabilia for fans in today’s new multimedia generation. Roddenberry Productions has set itself apart by creating content that surpasses mere entertainment; it acknowledges the intelligence of audiences by challenging them to think, question and explore the world, and those potentially beyond.

For more information on Roddenberry Productions please visit www.Roddenberry.com. Roddenberry Productions can also be found on Facebook (facebook.com/roddenberrycom) and Twitter (twitter.com/roddenberry).

Odd Rods

Odd Rods is sort of like Transformers. Mac Short learns that his "gently used" car can transform into a crazy hotrod. Of course, having a car that can transform will no doubt lead to thrilling chases and protected secrets.

The book is from Viper Comics and is written by Dale Mettam with art by Jose Coba. Check out the launch trailer after the jump. The 48-page book should be available in stores for $5.95.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Arrivals: July 28, 2010

Phew. How we doing out there folks? Still recovering from Comic-Con last week I'm sure. I'm going to presume that you'll have caught up on sleep by sometime tomorrow, which will recharge you enough to get to your local comic book store for the week's new releases. What should you wipe the sleep from your eyes to pick up? How about Wolfskin: Hundredth Dream #1

First off, don't think you've missed the first ninety-nine dreams. I'm pretty sure Avatar Press hasn't been at it with this series for that long. Wolfskin: Hundredth Dream #1 is written by Warren Ellis and Mike Wolfer and features art by Gianluca Pagliarani. The focus is on the supercontinent that is Scandinavia, the British Isles and Iceland; more specifically, Bergna, a fjord community. Ildsen is a magician that is quickly finding he has no place in the new world, until he receives a letter. The first printing is limited to just 1,000 copies.

Enjoy!

New Arrivals: July 28, 2010

Defense with the BoomPick

Seems like only yesterday we were talking about new comics coming out and here we are again so soon. Not complaining or anything about it, but just man these weeks do fly by quick and before you know it bam it’s the end of summer. Have to docus now, as we do have new comics coming out tomorrow and with the fervor of Comic-Con behind us can get back to reading all these new ones. Today my pick is coming from Radical Publishing and it's their new comic called Driver of the Dead #1.

Taking place in Louisiana, the focus is on a man named Alabaster Graves, who is the driver for the Delacroix Funeral Home and Mortuary. For this first issue he has to head to Shreveport to pick up the remains of Mose Freeman, a voodoo priest well known around those parts. It's here in Shreveport where he meets Freeman’s granddaughter and heads back to New Orleans thinking everything is as usual. Of course it never is as they are being tailed by a Uriah Fallow that has other plans in mind for the body of the voodoo priest.

Artifacts Signing at Collector's Paradise

Artifacts #1 hit stores last Wednesday and Tom's a big fan. Collector's Paradise is also a big fan as they're hosting a Los Angeles Release Party for the first issue this Saturday, July 31, from 7 to 10 PM.

The party will feature a signing by Michael Broussard, Rick Basaldua and Filip Sablik. Original art from the first issue will be on display and there will also be 500 copies of a variant cover of Artifacts #1 available only from Collector's Paradise. There will also be a limited edition print featuring the wraparound cover by Broussard, limited to 100 copies. Oh, and there's going to be free beer.

Full press release after the jump.

TOP COW PRODUCTIONS AND COLLECTOR'S PARADISE CELEBRATE RELEASE OF TOP COW'S GAME-CHANGING COMIC BOOK, ARTIFACTS #1 WITH A RELEASE PARTY FOR THE AGES!

Valley's Leading Retail Comic Book Store helps publisher promote a Major Release

CANOGA PARK, Calif., July 26, 2010 - Collector's Paradise Comics & Gallery, San Fernando Valley's Premiere pop culture store, is excited to announce that they will be throwing the Los Angeles Release Party for Top Cow Production's ARTIFACTS #1 on Saturday, July 31 from 7 to 10pm.

Collector's Paradise has a long history of working closely with comic book creators and publishers. Top Cow Productions' new release, Artifacts, promises to be a game-changing comic book for the company and their fans, and Collector's Paradise is proud and thankful for the opportunity to present this book to Los Angeles fans in style.
ARTIFACTS: The event FIVE Years in the Making!

Thirteen mystical Artifacts, including the Witchblade, the Darkness and others, guide the fate of the Top Cow Universe. For centuries, it's been whispered that bringing together all 13 Artifacts would herald mankind's destruction. What ensues will remake the entirety of the Top Cow Universe, from the Witchblade and the Darkness, to the Angelus, Magdalena, and countless others. Artifacts #1 is the perfect place for faithful readers to see their loyalty pay off, and for new readers to experience the Top Cow Universe.
From Top Cow Universe architect Ron Marz (Witchblade, Angelus) and Top Cow superstar artist Michael Broussard (The Darkness) comes an event series, which will literally shake the Top Cow Universe to its foundation.

RELEASE PARTY WILL FEATURE:

- A signing by the art team on the book, Michael Broussard and Rick Basaldua, plus publisher, Filip Sablik.

- Original Art from the issue displayed in the Gallery.

- An EXCLUSIVE Variant Cover ARTIFACTS #1, limited to 500 copies made and available ONLY from Collector's Paradise

- An EXCLUSIVE Limited Edition Print, limited to 100 copies made, featuring the wraparound cover to the series with art by Michael Broussard.

- Free Beer, Refreshments and snacks will be available for the guests

The event will be held at Collector's Paradise Comics & Gallery on Saturday July 31st, from 7 to 10 pm, with creator signings from 7-8pm.

Collector's Paradise Comics & Gallery is located at 7131 Winnetka Ave, on the corner of Winnetka Ave and Sherman Way, in Canoga Park. For additional information, please contact Edward Greenberg, owner of Collector's Paradise Comics & Gallery @ 818.999.9455 (business) or 818.326.2517 (cell), or at cparadise@socal.rr.com.
Collector's Paradise Comics & Gallery has been a mainstay in the Southern California Comic Book scene since 1994. In recent years, the store has focused on offering their customers an exceptional experience that goes beyond collecting comic books, from monthly creator appearances, to the proprietary online subscription manager software, to the recently-opened Art Gallery. The store's future plans include many new and very different ways to experience the comic book culture. For the last two years, Collector's Paradise was picked by fans as the Best Comic Book Store in Los Angeles County, according to an online poll done by Fox LA.

Image Comics Bringing Daomu Stateside

I'm going to assume that if I ask you where "tomb raider" came from, you'll probably say England. And with good reason, considering the buxom Lara Croft has gone onto become one of the most successful and popular icons in the world. Now assume I were to ask you can you name another country where "tomb raider" has come from you probably wouldn't think China. Unless you've heard of Daomu before.

"Daomu" translates into "tomb raider" and is a character that explores an underground world that has been active in China for thousands of years. Sean Liu discovers his family happens to belong to a secret society of daomu (I'm a little lacking in the Chinese department and I'm guessing that's not the plural form). The book follows Sean's quest to discover who his family really is and what killed his father. The upcoming comic book series is the first of several Daomu releases planned to include games, an animated series, and a feature film.

“American comics are extremely popular among Chinese comic book fans due to their great stories and amazing artwork. We believe the American audience will love Daomu for the same reasons,” says James Zhang, Concept Art House’s CEO. “Image is a great partner, not only because they understand quality art and story, but also because they truly respect the creator’s vision. We’re thrilled to be working with Image to introduce Daomu to the U.S.”

The book is being published via joint partnership between Image and Concept Art House. Full press release and interiors after the jump.

Image Comics and Concept Art House Bring China’s Best-Selling Daomu Series to the U.S. - First issue to arrive in stores this December

BERKELEY, CA - July 26, 2010 – Image Comics and Concept Art House announced plans to release a series of Daomu comics based on one of China’s best-selling novel series. This will be Daomu’s debut in the U.S., following a successful graphic novel launch in China earlier this year. The upcoming comic book series is the first of several Daomu releases planned to include games, an animated series, and a feature film.

Daomu, which translates to “tomb raider,” explores an underground world that has been active in China for thousands of years. After witnessing his father’s violent murder, Sean Liu discovers that his family belongs to a secret society of tomb raiders. Led by his uncle, Sean joins an elite team of Daomu to go deep underground in search of answers. Who are they? Who—or what—killed Sean’s father? And what horrors await beneath the earth’s surface? With a distinctive digital art style and high-energy adventures steeped in Chinese tradition and superstition, the comic series will follow Sean’s coming of age as a modern-day tomb raider and his quest to uncover the truth behind his father’s death.

The Daomu Bi Ji or “tomb raider’s journal” novel series on which the comics are based has become a sensation in China since its debut in 2007, reaching well over 20 million fans. Concept Art House, a leading digital art and entertainment company with a focus on transmedia storytelling, is responsible for the popular novel’s conversion to graphic format. Their first Daomu graphic novel released in Asia in early 2010 and quickly secured the #2 spot on Dangdang.com, China’s leading ecommerce website. Though Western audiences have long embraced Japanese comics and cartoons, Daomu’s arrival in the U.S. is a first for a high-profile Chinese entertainment property.

“The quality of comics in China is exceptional,” says Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson. “Daomu is no exception. Daomu has exemplary digital art and an outstanding story. We’re excited to be bringing this amazing graphic novel to the United States for its first English translation.”

“American comics are extremely popular among Chinese comic book fans due to their great stories and amazing artwork. We believe the American audience will love Daomu for the same reasons,” says James Zhang, Concept Art House’s CEO. “Image is a great partner, not only because they understand quality art and story, but also because they truly respect the creator’s vision. We’re thrilled to be working with Image to introduce Daomu to the U.S.”

Intended for readers ages 13 and up, the first Daomu comic book will release this winter. To learn more, visit Image Comics at http://www.imagecomics.com.

About Image Comics
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 five major houses: Todd McFarlane Productions, Top Cow Productions, Shadowline, Skybound, 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.

About Concept Art House
Concept Art House is an international high-end art service provider and original IP developer focused on digital entertainment formats. The company is based in San Francisco, California with a full production art studio in Shanghai, China. Concept Art House holds the exclusive worldwide rights to Daomu, a transmedia property based on the most popular novel series in China. The company’s extensive digital entertainment experience includes 2D, 3D, and social game development in conjunction with companies including Activision, Blizzard, Disney, Electronic Arts, Hasbro, Sony Online Entertainment, Zynga, and others. For more information please visit the company’s website at www.conceptarthouse.com.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Defense with the BoomStick

(Disclaimer: This post is set in a world where zombies have taken over and people live in small spots all over the world. It’s a weekly broadcast of news from around the globe and a tip to help survival.)

Here we have a Monday yet freaking again. It’s just way too soon for this sort of shenanigans. Around these parts I've seen one wave of zombies after another as it seems they are really active in the surrounding counties. If you are travelling be careful of the roaming herds of zombies; with all the hills you can run up on them without realizing. Enough of our woes lets have the news for the day.

I've heard of a new, huge safe zone located down in South Carolina in Anderson with remnants of the US Army helping. They are securing more area to build housing and are asking for any survivors around to head their way for a safe place. It's sounding more and more like that is their big stronghold of the US armed forces for the southeast region of the country. More aid is coming in weekly and survivors are arriving daily to help build up a larger force down there as well.

They are doing pretty heavy screening of people coming in and monitoring anyone who has any injuries for signs of infection. They're also asking for survivors to report any missed injuries another survivor might be hiding. That’s all I have for the news. Now time for my tip of the week, which is how to make a spear out of rocks.

Now for most of these weapons the use you will get out of them is for simple tasks to help you survive. They can be used against zombies, but show caution when doing so as you're gonna have to be close to do it. With forming a weapon out of rocks you are going to be breaking a rock; cracking it to get an edge that is shear enough for cutting. You can do this by smashing rocks on other rocks, other strong piece of metal or a wall (you just want to get the rock piece down to a manageable size).

Doing this to the rock will give you at least one shear edge if not two, and this is the part where you need some twine and a strong stick or pole to tie it too. Make sure the rope or twine is keeping the spear tip tied tightly as you don’t want it coming apart if you're trying to stab a zombie with it. Duct tape can also work to hold your spear tip together and can be wrapped around the base of the spear, giving you a better grip as well. When using this spear against zombies it should be done with as little zombies around as possible to minimize getting surrounded fighting that close. If this spear is all you have for a weapon your main goal should be escape and not battling it out with them.

There’s the tip for today. Next week I'll go over how to make more simple weapons to arm yourself with. Until next week this is Brandon signing off and remember to keep surviving and keep fighting.

Editorial: Comic-Con Crowding

Roughly 125,000 of you or so went to Comic-Con over the weekend. Two of you that attended managed to get into an altercation regarding seating in Hall H, which is not awesome. For some reason, one of you thought the other was too close and alleged they "stepped on your foot," to which your response was to stab the other with a pen in the eye. This will probably not bode well for the future of the show in San Diego.

Comic-Con has, over the past few years, become less "comic" and more "con." I'd say it's about 30% comics at this point and 70% everything else, leading to an immeasurable amount of attraction to all sorts of fans. This boom in popularity (for a number of reasons, which will be outlined in a bit) has created a situation where you have to wait in line for about two hours BEFORE the panel you really want to see. The lines are really just that insane because of the sheer crowds. Last year (2009) MOTHERS were freaking camping out OVERNIGHT to gain access to the Twilight: New Moon panel. It's that crazy. And that scenario is the problem right there that I'm sure this situation will exacerbate: when is enough enough when it comes to Comic-Con attendance?

I'm not going to claim I know what either individual was thinking before the panel for Paul and Cowboys and Aliens. If you watch the assailant being escorted away you get the sense that he's really not a bad person. But Comic-Con is way overcrowded and I can easily see how this situation would happen. When you have that many people with so many personal likes/dislikes and varying degrees of fanboyism, you're going to get trouble. And, let's face it, most of the people at the show aren't the most socially adept around; honestly, I'm shocked that it's taken this long for something like this to happen. If you watch the video you'll notice that the assailant is wearing a Harry Potter shirt, and therein lies the problem.

Companies (Hollywood studios in particular) have become religiously obsessed with generating buzz for anything they put out. And why shouldn't they want to evangelize their works? If fans want to see a panel on Charlie St. Cloud so they can swoon over Zac Efron who am I to judge? That's just it though. I have a feeling that movie will suck, yet the producers feel that if they showcase it at Comic-Con then the reception there of people that care about it in the first place will be generalized to the world at large. The reason they show it at Comic-Con is because they know if they mention it then those people will come, which means more and more people want to go to Comic-Con just to see a one-hour panel on one thing they actually care about at the show.

In a way, Comic-Con is creating this drama by letting Hollywood take over the show. It's not just Hollywood though. Video game publishers, television channels...everybody wants a piece of the hallowed 18-34 demographic that floods San Diego for five days every July. The convention organizers have to realize that the marketing approach of "get them in the door and hope they like other stuff" is going to lead to more incidents like the one over the weekend. I hate fear-mongering as much as the next guy but I think this is a legit concern and it just further exemplifies the need for changes to happen with the convention. Big changes.

At some point the convention will be moved elsewhere with bigger environs (I don't think it's a question of "if" but "when"). Las Vegas has been gaining ground as of late as a prime location for the big show to land, as their convention center is massive and could easily handle the hordes of fans. There's also the annual hotel debacle that befalls a portion of the show's attendees where their reservations are "lost" or mixed up (including creators trying to actually get to the show to push their stuff). San Diego doesn't seem to have nearly as many hotels proximal to the convention center as it needs to, something that a city like Las Vegas would easily remedy. This would be great for a couple of years, until all the movie studios realize that they can actually sell MORE tickets because there's MORE space. And then we're in the exact same boat then that we are now, except we're in Vegas.

Another suggestion would be just to limit the number of attendees. I don't know about you, but I have difficulty grasping the notion that I have to wait in line two hours for a random panel about Marvel writers ("Marvel Comics Writers Unite!" was the name of it this year). I get that everyone likes Mark Waid, Chris Claremont, Brian Michael Bendis and Matt Fraction. Is it really necessary though that there are so many people at the show who have heard of Bendis and know he has something to do with the Marvel movies and want to see the panel because they think he'll drop something about Mark Ruffalo as Hulk? People were in line at 4:30 AM for the Chuck panel, which started at 10 AM. Six hours for a show that defines geekiness but was no doubt full of a lot of guys who just thought Yvonne Strahovski is hot (for the record she is smoking).

One more suggestion? This is the big one, the nuclear option if you will. Comic book publishers need to take back the show. Steve Niles tweeted "Worst part of SDCC was seeing Artist Alley crammed all the way in the back. Next year it will be a trailer by the docks." The sad thing is that he's right. San Diego is the big show for so many indie creators that don't have the benefit of a massive golden throne or banners boasting the triumvarate of Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman. A.V. Club has a great article up about how Arists' Alley isn't what it used to be. The artists have been brushed aside for the almighty dollar and that's really troubling to me because it means that the convention organizers know that people aren't coming for artists. Or comics in general.

Most comic writers/artists/creators will tell you that comics won't be where they are today if it weren't for Hollywood, and to an extent they're right. Wildly successful films such as The Dark Knight, Spider-man 2 and Kick-Ass spread the word of comics beyond the comic book store. It gets complicated though when those same studios that are doing just as well on the back of these properties are pimping their success in an attempt to advertise their other IPs. I'm ecstatic that comics are so successful that Ant-man may get his own film (with Edgar Wright at the helm and possibly Nathan Fillion in the lead role). Who's to say the film won't be the first of a trilogy though, just for the sake of money? More films equals more money right?

San Diego Comic-Con simultaneously features everything that makes comics awesome (rabid fans, cosplay, general respect among creators) as well as what makes them not as awesome (overcrowding, audience dilution). I still think that most of the attendees at the show are genuine comic fans and I'm not trying to rant about how the show should be cleansed of everything non-comic. Eventually though, something's got to give here: either the show will get smaller or it will move. At least, those are the sensible options. As long as comics are successful and lead to successful film and TV adaptations though it should be expected that the crowds aren't going to get any smaller. It may take more than a stabbing to make everyone realize that San Diego Comic-Con is quickly spiraling out of control as far as crowds go.

One more thing. Go ahead and bookmark this post and read it after Comic-Con 2011. I can guarantee the same discussion will be valid (albeit hopefully without a stabbing). You stay classy San Diego.

IDW Announces Definitive Flash Gordon Collection

Comic-Con is officially over (except for may those two attendees involved in the stabbing dispute) and now it's time to make sense of all the major announcements. One of those announcements was by IDW and it was the announcement of a new Flash Gordon collection called The Definitive Flash Gordon & Jungle Jim: The Ultimate Alex Raymond Collection.

The work, due in 2011, collects every Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim Sunday strip by Alex Raymond in an oversized, 12"x16" champagne edition. The deluxe editions are being edited and designed by Eisner Award winner Dean Mullaney. For those that don't know, Flash Gordon is the story of the character and his companions Dale Arden and Dr. Zarkhov and their journeys through space. Their travels have them happening upon Ming the Merciless on planet Mongo and all the interstellar hijinks that would ensue from said encounter. Jungle Jim was created as a strip topper for Flash Gordon and followed Jim Bradley, an international fighter of pirates, slave traders and other villains. Raymond illustrated both series from January 7, 1934 through April 30, 1944.

“Alex Raymond’s lush art deserves this oversized, remastered series,” says Greg Goldstein, IDW’s COO. Coming in late 2011 and announced today at San Diego Comic-Con, this is the latest offering from Raymond, the quintessential adventure comic strip creator, by IDW’s imprint, Library of American Comics. The artist’s post-war modernist detective series, Rip Kirby, is currently being collected.

Ultimate Alex Raymond Collection: The Definitive Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim will be available in stores in 2011. Full press release after the jump. Note that the image above isn't the final cover.

IDW Announces The Definitive Flash Gordon & Jungle Jim: The Ultimate Alex Raymond Collection coming in 2011

San Diego, CA (July 24, 2010) – IDW Publishing, a premier publisher of graphic novels and books, today announced the Ultimate Alex Raymond Collection: The Definitive Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim, offering two timeless series together for the first time. The Definitive Flash Gordon & Jungle Jim will include every Sunday by Raymond from both classic strips, remastered, restored, and presented in the oversized, 12” x 16” “champagne” edition format.

“Alex Raymond’s lush art deserves this oversized, remastered series,” says Greg Goldstein, IDW’s COO. Coming in late 2011 and announced today at San Diego Comic-Con, this is the latest offering from Raymond, the quintessential adventure comic strip creator, by IDW’s imprint, Library of American Comics. The artist’s post-war modernist detective series, Rip Kirby, is currently being collected.

Eisner Award-winner Dean Mullaney is editing and designing the deluxe editions. “Although Flash Gordon has been previously reprinted, this—finally—is the first meticulously remastered and restored edition that prints the strip in a large size and in Raymond’s original format that includes the Jungle Jim topper. We believe this will be the definitive edition for the ages.”

Created by Raymond in 1934, Flash Gordon is arguably the most famous science fiction comic strip of all time. It follows the adventures of the title character and his companions—Dale Arden and Dr. Zarkov—as they journey through space. Flash initially leaves Earth to discover the source of meteors that are threatening the planet, and get waylaid on the planet Mongo, where they meet the evil Ming the Merciless. Raymond’s lyrical artwork made the series a hit from the very beginning. Flash Gordon gained greater fame through several film serials in 1936 staring Buster Crabbe in the lead role. The serial followed the progression of the strip closely and helped inspire Star Wars many years later.

Jungle Jim was created as a strip topper for Flash Gordon, and followed the life of Jim Bradley, who fought pirates, slave traders, and assorted villains in the exotic Southeast Asia of the 1930s. This neglected Raymond classic also features Jim’s native cohort Kolu and femme fatale Lille DeVrille.

Raymond illustrated both series from January 7, 1934 through April 30, 1944.

Ultimate Alex Raymond Collection: The Definitive Flash Gordon and Jungle Jim will be available in stores in 2011.

Visit IDWPublishing.com to learn more about the company and its top-selling books.

About IDW Publishing
IDW is an award-winning publisher of comic books, graphic novels and trade paperbacks, based in San Diego, California. Renowned for its diverse catalog of licensed and independent titles, IDW publishes some of the most successful and popular titles in the industry, including: Hasbro's The Transformers and G.I. JOE, Paramount's Star Trek; Fox's Angel; the BBC's Doctor Who; and comics and trade collections based on novels by worldwide bestselling author, James Patterson. IDW is also home to the Library of American Comics imprint, which publishes classic comic reprints; Yoe! Books, a partnership with Yoe! Studios; and is the print publisher for EA Comics and ComicMix.

IDW's original horror series, 30 Days of Night, was launched as a major motion picture in October 2007 by Sony Pictures and was the #1 film in its first week of release. More information about the company can be found at IDWPublishing.com.


About The Library of American Comics
The Library of American Comics, an imprint of IDW Publishing, was established in 2007 to preserve the long and jubilantly creative history of the American newspaper comic strip in archival, hardcover editions. To date, every LoAC release has been nominated for an Eisner or Harvey Award and the imprint's inaugural series, Terry and the Pirates, won the Eisner in 2008. Creative and Editorial Director Dean Mullaney has been an influential force in the comics field since 1978, when he published the first graphic novel for the comics specialty market (Sabre by Don McGregor and Paul Gulacy). His pioneering efforts, as founder and publisher of Eclipse Comics, brought about many milestones to the field, including creator copyright ownership, the first line of Japanese manga in English translation in 1988, and the first digitally-colored comic book. More information about The Library of American Comics can be found on IDW's website— www.idwpublishing.com—and that of the imprint itself—www.libraryofamericancomics.com.

DCU Online Trailer

It was pretty inevitable that with DCU Online due in stores this fall and San Diego Comic-Con in the throes of awesomeness that SOE and DC would have something about the game. What did they bring to the table? A six minute video positing the question "Who do you trust?" Peep the trailer after the jump.


The Lost Room: Season II Announced

We Kill Monsters was one of the surprise hits of 2010. The Laura Harkcom/Christopher Leone penned work about brothers Jake and Andrew Basher and Jake's newfound monster ability. The six issue series wrapped up earlier this year, leaving the creators with plenty of time on their hands. Time to do a sequel to their own television miniseries The Lost Room that will be published by Red 5 Comics.

The Lost Room: Season II picks up ones year after the events of the miniseries. The saga of the fabled Key continues as it falls into the hands of a criminal framed for the one crime he didn't commit. The new Motel Man escapes prison looking for revenge, only to find himself in a new cell: Room 10. The work will be a 4-issue limited series that will publish monthly as soon as Harkcom and Leone can find artists.

Full press release after the jump.

WE KILL MONSTERS writers Laura Harkcom & Christopher Leone announced at the Comic Con edition of "The Totally Rad Show" that "The Lost Room: Season II" will be published by Red 5 Comics next year!

The book is a sequel to their original television mini-series “The Lost Room,” which they co-created, co-wrote and co-executive produced for The SyFy Channel and Lionsgate Television. “The Lost Room” starred Peter Krause, Julianna Margulies and Kevin Pollak. The 6-hour series garnered much critical acclaim, with The New York Times calling it “…a jackpot for a mystery series,” and Entertainment Weekly citing it as “…one of the most creative ideas to hit TV in a while.” The show was nominated for two Emmys and a Writers Guild Award.

Since its debut in 2006, “The Lost Room” has continued to increase in awareness and build an ever-growing fan base. In September of 2009, Salon.com featured an article about the show’s rising profile, raving, “Forget the latest from J.J. Abrams… ‘The Lost Room’ is a cult hit waiting to happen.” Ain't It Cool News said this weekend, "The Lost Room miniseries was, I thought, up there with 'Battlestar Galactica' as one of the best Sci-Fi Channel originals ever produced."

The comic book picks up one year after the events of the miniseries. The story of the Key continues as it falls into the hands of a new protagonist: a hardened criminal who was finally framed for the one crime he didn't commit. The new Motel Man escapes prison looking for revenge, only to find himself in a new cell: Room 10.

“The Lost Room: Season II” is a 4-issue limited series that will publish monthly. A search is currently underway for artists.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

Recently a friend of mine asked me about Torchwood. I gave him my two cents- but than I started thinking I could use this week’s column to flesh out my thoughts a bit more.

Torchwood is (was- its longevity is in question) a British weekly science-fiction television series, a spin-off of Dr. Who; I’ve heard it described as Buffy meets The X-Files. Torchwood is the name for a fictional, covert government agency whose job is to track and deter extraterrestrial and paranormal threats. Ironically, the Torchwood Institute was originally founded to combat one of humanity’s greatest allies: the man himself, Dr. Who. But I’ll get to Who in a bit.

As part of the Whoverse, Torchwood has been given the media-outing that every franchise gets. Fiction, monthly magazines and of course, comics (in this case a strip in said monthly magazine). I think the strip justifies an Omnicomic overview and Dr. Who’s long foray into British and American comic-dom certainly does as well.

So, Torchwood is a show that has had some fluctuating ratings and a somewhat solid cult following. It has some high points and some low ones. It includes a guest appearance by James Marsters of Buffy fame (who, of course, plays a very cool and intricate character who he brings to life). There are rumors that an American version of Torchwood, set IN America, might get launched (sort of like The Office).

So to the hardcore Torchwood fans out there?

…Eh.

It’s okay. It isn’t a bad show by any means.

But there’s something about it that just doesn’t…quite…GET there. Despite everything I have told you about the show, I still would have a tough time giving you a description of the "flavor" of the show. Torchwood is a show with some potential and an excellent cast of actors and actresses that just kind of- fizzles. It reminds me more of Babylon 5 or Stargate: SG-1 than anything else. You know, like, the hardcore fans love it because they see the potential in the fictional universe these shows exist IN, but the actual quality of the television series, despite a few high points, never quite flourishes? (Before I get slammed- Babylon 5, as a comprehensive story, is highly under-rated. And Stargate has come a long way. But come on, two words: production quality. Admit it.)

I suspect one of the biggest draws to the show, besides the stellar performance of the charismatic lead, John Barrowman, is its extremely sophisticated take on the nature of sexuality. Namely- that people are drawn to different things at different times of their lives. Partners of the opposite sex. Partners of the same sex. Monogamy. Polyamory. Whatever- it’s just COMPLICATED and it doesn’t fit, neatly, into anyone’s lives (usually).

And I like that. I like the idea that this show can have 2-3 lead, bi-sexual characters, and another 2 with wildly fluctuating ideas about an ideal relationship. It’s liberal, it’s progressive, it’s cool. The problem is- it doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the tone of the show.

And what is the tone of the show?

I’d say "spiritually soul-crushing hopelessness." Torchwood is best described as wildly Atheistic. There is no God- just life, and than death. There’s no afterlife. There’s no paradise. You just get one life and that’s it. And most people waste it anyway.

Seriously! Lines like what I just wrote are almost verbatim dialogue FROM the show. I mean, I give the show some credit for taking a stand, in this sense. Many fictional stories leave the question of the afterlife just that- a question. So Torchwood’s final ruling on the matter, although terrifyingly dark, does put it apart, in a sense

So you see what I mean here? What the hell is going ON with this show? Is it Sex and the City done science fiction style, with some sharp, witty, Joss Whedon dialogue thrown it? Or is it modern day, H.P. Lovecraft horror, because it's a "the greatest horror is how fragile man is himself" kind of thing? Torchwood is a television series that can’t decide what kind of series it’s trying to become. And this reverberates through the entire production.

Now, the show’s predecessor is that very, VERY rare series that can pull off being everything. Like Star Trek and Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Dr. Who does a seamless job of retaining an overarching, ongoing story and allowing every episode to stand as its own vignette- sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes scary. Makes sense, right? I mean Who himself is constantly reincarnated into different forms and someone different is always stepping in to play him in a different way- why shouldn’t every episode be different?

Oh, and if you’re in that camp that has always heard about Dr. Who but know nothing about him? This is probably the reason. The coolest gimmick is something of a marketing weakness (although in Britian, Who is huge- he’s sort of the geeky equivalent of James Bond, in a lot of ways)- without a consistent face to think of when you hear the name Dr. Who, you really have to get into the show to, well, know much about it. But then again, that’s why he’s Dr. "Who" right? I mean he isn’t Dr. "You Know Who I Am". That would ruin the mystery.

In case it isn’t coming through, I’ve been converted into a huge Dr. Who fan. I never was that into the old series (and it’s OLD- been on the BBC for a long time, in many different forms), but the newest run on television is one of those really great modernizations that draws you in with new characters and stories but stays VERY true to the original vision and feel of its previous incarnations. It doesn’t rail against itself- its cheesiness, its occasionally absurdity. It includes frequent references to Who-history from the old show and encounters with old allies and menaces- all of whom retain their campy, low-budget-science-fiction look (which is the kind of special touch that only a true fanboy can appreciate).

Er, where was I? OH- so Dr. Who, as a show, can pull it off, I think. It condenses every genre you can think of- romance, comedy, horror, action, science-fiction- into a single show. Torchwood? It just doesn’t work. Again, it’s that soul-crushing darkness.

Who’s life is fraught with peril, disappointment, and pain too- in fact, Who is frequently stuck wondering about whether his interactions with others cause more harm than good. But there’s something, hopeful, deep down in there, I think. But no matter how funny that one episode of Torchwood is, it seems a lot less funny a few episodes later when people are dying, horribly, left and right.

Oh, that’s the other nice twist the developers went with- right when the show starts to pick up? Most of the main cast dies. Sure, there are a few loopholes where they might be able to come back- but, wow. Climactic wasn’t exactly how I felt. It was more like- what? Why??

So, you know. Torchwood? It’s worth a watch, if only to try something different. And I think, if the show was put back into the works, something great could be in there. But it would require some thought and planning. In the meantime, Dr. Who? Two BIG thumbs up.

Dexter Webcomic Fills in the Blanks

I remember last year at Comic-Con Dexter advertising was everywhere. All the ads featured Dexter's son unknowingly proud of his father being a serial killer. Needless to say the Dexter presence was strong with that show. Fast forward to this year's Comic-Con and the announcement that a new webcomic is in the works about everyone's favorite serial killer called Dexter Early Cuts: Dark Echo.

Illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz and written by Tim Schlattman, the webcomic will take place immediately after the death of Dexter's father Harry. Dexter's enrollment in medical school to perfect his special brand of justice is interrupted by another student spying on him, leading to a confrontation between the two. The webcomic will be voiced by Michael C. Hall, which of course makes sense because a Dexter webcomic wouldn't be the same without, you know, Dexter.

Check out the trailer after the jump. There's something eerily reassuring about Hall's voice paired with the show's theme song.

Top Shelf at Comic-Con

Yeah, the first full day of Comic-Con was yesterday, and yes, things are already pretty insane. That shouldn't stop me announcing the Top Shelf presence at the big show, so here it is.

The Top Shelf talent will feature Sean Michael Wilson, Kathryn & Stuart Immonen, JD Arnold & Rich Koslowski, Jeff Lemire, Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele, Andy Runton, James Kochalka, Jeffrey Brown, Nate Powell, Matt Kindt and Kevin Cannon. The Top Shelf panel will also be at three panels.

The first is "Manga for Grown-Ups: Garo, Ax, gekiga, and the alternative manga revolution" (Thursday, July 22, 12:30-1:30), featuring Sean Michael Wilson and friends discussing the amazing history of adult-oriented "alternative" manga in Japan and its recent arrival into the English-speaking world, including the debut of our AX anthology. The next day, Kathryn and Stuart Immonen have a dedicated panel all to themselves, "Spotlight on the Immonens: Sex, Lies and Comic Books" (Friday, July 23, 12:30-1:30), where they'll discuss Moving Pictures, their superhero work, and much more. Finally, don't miss "Top Shelf 2010: Sweden, Japan, and so much more" (Friday, July 23, 5:30-6:30) as we celebrate our most international year ever and announce a whole pile of new projects (with plenty of never-before-seen art)!

Check out the full release after the jump.

Top Shelf brings more artists to Comic-Con than ever before!

July 19, 2010
Image for Top Shelf brings more artists to Comic-Con than ever before!

Here comes the big one! The Comic-Con International in San Diego is July 21-25 -- and this year, Team Top Shelf will be bigger than ever before! That's right, the Top Shelf zone at San Diego will feature no fewer than FOURTEEN amazing creators, who will be signing and sketching for you all convention long!

Take a look at who's coming: Sean Michael Wilson (Ax: Alternative Manga), Kathryn & Stuart Immonen (Moving Pictures), JD Arnold & Rich Koslowski (BB Wolf & the Three LPs), Jeff Lemire (Essex County), Robert Venditti & Brett Weldele (The Surrogates), Andy Runton (Owly), James Kochalka (Johnny Boo, Dragon Puncher, SuperF*ckers), Jeffrey Brown (Undeleted Scenes), Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole), Matt Kindt (Super Spy), and Kevin Cannon (Far Arden). Add on the full crew of Top Shelf staff, and the house will definitely be hopping -- heck, it'll take you an hour just to shake everybody's hand!

Mark your calendars for three Top Shelf panel sessions as well! The first is "Manga for Grown-Ups: Garo, Ax, gekiga, and the alternative manga revolution" (Thursday, July 22, 12:30-1:30), featuring Sean Michael Wilson and friends discussing the amazing history of adult-oriented "alternative" manga in Japan and its recent arrival into the English-speaking world, including the debut of our AX anthology. The next day, Kathryn and Stuart Immonen have a dedicated panel all to themselves, "Spotlight on the Immonens: Sex, Lies and Comic Books" (Friday, July 23, 12:30-1:30), where they'll discuss Moving Pictures, their superhero work, and much more. Finally, don't miss "Top Shelf 2010: Sweden, Japan, and so much more" (Friday, July 23, 5:30-6:30) as we celebrate our most international year ever and announce a whole pile of new projects (with plenty of never-before-seen art)!

But what about the BOOKS, you ask?

Wonder no more! Come by the Top Shelf booth and find these awesome new titles, hot off the presses:
--AX: A COLLECTION OF ALTERNATIVE MANGA edited by Sean Michael Wilson
--THE PLAYWRIGHT by Eddie Campbell and Daren White
--BB WOLF AND THE 3 LPS by JD Arnold and Rich Koslowski
--FINGERPRINTS by Will Dinski
--JOHNNY BOO (BOOK 4): THE MEAN LITTLE BOY by James Kochalka
--DRAGON PUNCHER (BOOK 1) by James Kochalka

See below for details.

We can't wait to see you!

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Clip

You know what's going to set this Comic-Con Friday off right? Another clip from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Enjoy. August 13 kids. August 13.

Let's just got say it's got Daniel Shaw in it (shout out to the Chuck fans in the audience.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Manga - The Other White Meat

Welcome back for another riveting edition of manga recaps. The Naruto flashback is finally coming to a close and we still have zero progression with Bleach; that basically means that both series are running par for the course. In keeping with my new format where I question something or recommend another series for you fine folks, a thought popped into my head the other night that I just have to explore a little deeper here.

Why are the stars of manga/anime so often high school kids? Look at the heroes in most of the comics we review here. They're almost always centered on some kind of adult who has some reason for doing the things they do. Even Peter Parker only really started off as a high school kid. Most of the story is him post-graduation, growing up in the city while he figures out his purpose. There are occasional stories like Runaways that focus on the kids that don’t make it in the rather adult X-Men training facilities. Even the kids on X-Men are always guided by adults like Cyclops, Wolverine, Storm, etc.

So I wonder what it it is culturally that has a VERY high percentage of the most popular shows with main characters that are kids in manga and anime. Naruto is like 16 or something, and there was an entire story where he was just entering an academy at 12. Sure there are adults, but the adults aren’t the main characters. In Bleach you have high school kids and death gods that are presumably hundreds and thousands of years old.

Perhaps this is just a reflection of manga creators wanting to target that age range more. Perhaps the industry here aims for more adult artists and attempts to solve complex social issues through the comics and it wouldn’t make sense to have kids sorting those issues out. I just thought it was an interesting aside that I wanted to mention today. Oh, want a recommendation for a manga to read? Death Note. Awesome, creepy and finished (I think). Go get it. Oh, and in Death Note, many of the main characters are high school kids.

Onwards to recaps!

BLEACH

Chapter 413 opens with a scene of Isshin looking totally exhausted from holding them in the limbo world for training. Meanwhile in soul society, the current location of the real Karakura Town, Aizen continues to pursue Ichigo’s friends. I would go into all their names, but it really isn’t that important and I throw enough crazy names out every week in these recaps that it's confusing enough already. All of Ichigo’s friends have reunited and are awake now, but Aizen is still stalking them. There are some comical moments, and every time Aizen appears they are forced to run.

The current Shinigami protecting the town appears, releases his shikai sword form, does an attack and then everyone runs some more. The chapter ends with Gin suddenly reappearing for the first time since he took his childhood friend Rangiku away. The chapter hints that there seems to be tension between the two but I didn’t see it. Gin attacking Aizen now would be the silliest plot twist possible since he has NO HOPE of stopping or even slowing down the monster that Aizen has become.

Ho hum…maybe next week Ichigo’s internal battle will end. I want this arc to end so I can stop recapping Bleach. I feel compelled to follow it through to completion for all one of my readers right now.

NARUTO

Chapter 503 of Naruto was pretty epic in contrast to Bleach. Minato has struck Madara with the highly damaging Rasengan attack. This forces Madara to retreat and recover, but then Minato instantly teleports to the villain again, striking him with a sealing technique. Madara recognizes this as the Thunder God teleportation technique and then figures out that when Minato struck him at the end of the previous chapter, he must have placed a symbol on him that allowed the 4th Hokage to teleport to him instantly to attack. The sealing technique serves to severe Madara’s control of the nine-tailed demon fox to boot, and Madara retreats.

During all of this the ninja have been fighting the fox to prevent it from entering and destroying Konoha. They have succeeded in pushing the fox back when the 4th Hokage suddenly reappears, teleporting both himself and the fox to the location where his wife Kushina is. We get a brief look during all this at the adults in the present Naruto timeline, only back when they were kids. Kushina uses the same chain sealing technique on the fox to hold it down when Minato makes a final suicidal decision. He uses the Dead Demon Sealing technique to take half the foxes power and seal it inside Naruto and the other half inside himself where it will die with him. Oh yeah, the seal kills the person casting it, leading to the already known death of the 4th Hokage.

Great action, a look at the current adults back in childhood form, another quick look at the 3rd Hokage in battle attire and the knowledge that the all powerful fox inside Naruto is only HALF (!!!!) as strong as it used to be. All things considered a great chapter that answered quite a few questions that have been with us for a long time. With Kushina and Minato about to die, this flashback will end next week and we will finally get to see how powerful Naruto has become, I hope.

Happy reading until then!

Review – Hawks of Outremer #1-2

Cormac Fitzgeoffrey is the main character in this tale set just after the Third Crusade. As he adventures from place to place in this title seeking vengeance and his place in the world, I found myself strangely reminded of another sword-toting badass. I was forced to take a second look at the credits and I found myself wondering why the name Robert E. Howard sounded so familiar. I am embarrassed to say I had to look up the reason, and found that Howard is the creator of another character I’ve enjoyed, Conan the Barbarian! BOOM! Studios brings another quality title to their ranks with Hawks of Outremer, which was adapted by Michael Alan Nelson with Damian Couceiro completing the art, Juan Manuel Tumburus on colors and Johnny Lowe on letters.

Well, suddenly these things made sense to me. While this is based in our world and loosely on our history, Cormac is pretty close to Conan. They are both talented fighters of immense stature. They are feared throughout the lands and not many dare to stand up to them. I’m sure simply surviving the Crusades is enough of a testament to Cormac’s toughness, but let’s just say he proves it in these first two issues. If you enjoy Conan – since I’ve read some of the literature, watched the movies and even enjoyed the Age of Conan MMO I understand – you will enjoy Hawks of Outremer. Read on for a brief story outline and to check out some interiors.

Outremer, we learn quickly, consists of the areas fought so fiercely over in the crusades. While there is peace currently, Cormac states that Saladin will not sit idly by for long while Acre, Antioch and Tripoli remain in the hands of Christians. As Cormac discusses the crusade with a friend we learn of his encounter with King Richard and Cormac’s spurning of an offer to pledge allegiance. Cormac eventually learned to trust and even ride with a knight named Sir Gerard. Cormac soon learns of the political intrigue that lead to Gerard’s death, leading him off to pursue his quest of avenging his friend.

On his quest we learn of Cormac’s skill with thrown weapons. Now, I use the term thrown weapons lightly, for while many weapons can be thrown, the ones that Cormac chooses are not MEANT to be thrown. Ah but who am I to argue with the results he achieves? Eventually Cormac meets up with one of Gerard’s squires and more pieces of the puzzle come together, guiding Cormac on his way.

I really enjoy stories of medieval times. While I’m sure it wasn’t fun to be present at the time of the Crusades I am still fascinated with the historical setting. The artwork, armor and battles are done very well and believably and lend to the overall look and feel of this title. All of the elements blend together very well, and while I can’t comment to far having never read the original writings of Howard, I am sure this is a good adaptation of the stories. The fights are visceral without being over the top using blood and gore. Cormac is certainly overpowering, but never so much so that you still couldn’t believe he is just a freakishly strong normal human.

As usual BOOM! Studios has pushed out another quality title with good writing, excellent art and an intriguing story that feels familiar and unique at the same time. That is a good thing in my book. Check out the interiors below and look for these issues in stores next time you are out.