Not Your Daddy's Podcast

Alright alright alriiiiight. I'm taking off from the blog for the better part of this week because of a ton of travelling. In the meantime, if you want your comics talk fix then here are a couple podcasts to check out:

The Talking Comics podcast is a group of (usually) 4 individuals from various walks of life who have complimenting and contrasting viewpoints on many popular comics. They also manage to educate listeners on what is coming out in rapid fire succession during their "Lightning Round", a segment where each host gets 3 minutes to try and discuss every book they have read during the week.

They also discuss many comic news topics (both good and bad) as they arise and always have an interesting thought to bring to the table. In the most recent podcast they discussed the new Fantastic Four movie as well as the extreme differences from the source material, and the impact/opinions they think it will create. What is apparent through their comic reviews is their love of the art form, what is apparent through their coverage of comic related news is that this group has enormous amounts of heart and passion for the subject. I can't often attend many cons, which makes me appreciate the detailed coverage of many of the conventions that the Talking Comics gang are able to attend.

Talking Comics also has a very successful forum with an incredible sense of community. They have various affiliated sister podcasts including Talking Games, The Missfits, Talking Valiant, and Talking Movies. New episodes come out every Wednesday and you can visit them at www.talkingcomicsbooks.com (their forum can be accessed at that site as well).

Fight for Comics is my personal favorite podcast. Every week the "Wednesday Warriors" discuss what has come out as well as many books a lot of people may not have been aware of. A lot of the choices that the 4 hosts of this podcast pick are usually very eclectic so there really is something for everyone. 

The hosts are very knowledgeable but what really makes Fight for Comics stand out is the humor, wit, and clear freindship between them all. They have me in stitches constantly when they discuss how certain books relate to other pop culture phenomenon and all of their reviews, good and bad, are often told through a variety of tangents they go on (all relating to the source material) that make for an extremely enjoyable listen. On some podcasts, you hear people review comics and they don't seem enthused about their purchases, almost as if they are saying it's alright just to justify their purchase. Never on the Fight for Comics podcast though! The hosts get truly excited about these books (the books that are good anyway), making you want to read every one!

The Wednesday Warriors are on a brief hiatus, however you can still access their older podcasts, which I strongly suggest. You are guaranteed to find out about a couple of great titles that you have never heard of or read before and it is fun to hear their predictions on what would happen in certain books (some right, some wrong). Fight for comics has a sister podcast called Pizza Party Podcast, where the same group discusses all of the TV and movies that are currently out (and a couple older ones too) such as Arrow, Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Vikings, etc. with the same amount of humor. You can visit the Fight for Comics at www.fightforcomics.com.

Thanks for reading folks! I'll get back with ya'll next week. Happy Thanksgiving!



Indiana Jones with Monsters

Monsters + Artifacts + Tomb Raiders + Rival Archeology Factions =

Daomu (2011/2014)
Image/Magnetic Press
Story: Kennedy Xu
Writer: Colin Johnson
Artist/Covers: Ken Chou

Daomu is an intense horror/adventure series that was originally produced as a Chinese series by Kennedy Xu. The series was then brought to an American audience by Image Comics and ran for 8 issues before it was cancelled. The 8th issue provided no closure however, and just teased that issue 9 would be released (and with an awesome cover). The series was recently picked up by Magnetic Press, who is going to collect the 8 issues in a really nice hardcover for the first time as well as give it a much deserved conclusion by including the previously unreleased issue 9.


I'll keep the spoilers to a minimum. The series is centered around Sean Wu. While catching up with his estranged father, a mysterious figure arrived and started to shoot up the restaurant they were in. Sean's father got shot, and while he was dying gave Sean a key to a black coffin. Upon finding the black coffin, Sean discovered the body of a creature that is clearly not human, his Uncle Tsai finds him and brings him up to speed on the families unique and secretive tomb robbing business and those who assist them. This organization, known as the Daomu is tasked with discovering the unknown, and exploring the darkest and most frightening corners of the world.


In order to be initiated into this exclusive club, Sean must take a team of Daomu into a crypt and steal a specific skull, which is the first of a few crypt adventures that Sean goes on in this series. There is danger around every corner, as every tomb is stuffed with traps, mysterious predators known as Ghost Hunters, a rival tomb robbing group (the Coral Corporation) who has questionable motives with the artifacts they find, and, of course, monsters. Kennedy Xu and Colin Johnson do a great job of chronicling these adventures as well as cultivating character growth in Sean, providing an eerie story and a character you see react every step of the way. 


The art is a quality companion to this story. Whether above or below the ground, Ken Chou chooses his light sources very carefully. Many times this adds an extreme sense of claustrophobia and seclusion, providing backgrounds that could easily have danger lurking in them. Everyone is drawn to be very serious and focused, as the situation calls for. There isn't a huge range of emotions, however when the characters become frightened it is very apparent how real the threat is. The monsters are what really shine, as each one has a little something that we have seen before, but with a new twist that makes them all demented and fearsome entities. Chou gets massive kudos for the gorgeous cover art as well.


This series sucked me in immediately after I picked up the 0 issue on Free Comic Book Day a few years ago. With mystery ringing through the entire series and the curiosity about what the characters will run into next, it isn't hard to find this title captivating. If you like following a main character from the very beginning of a journey and seeing how he grows then check this out. I will also recommend this to anyone who is curious about the "hidden world", the unfound secrets of the planet. These issues can be found for pretty cheap and have incredible covers, but I would recommend getting the full hardcover (available at http://www.magnetic-press.com/daomu/ soon) so you can have the complete story, as well as give the creative team it's much deserved due.

Below are all of the covers for issues 1-8 as well as the teaser for 9. Thanks for reading folks!


Sifting for Gold #6

Alright folks, it's gonna be a short one this week. In a world where moles perform science and bears (I think it's a bear) volunteer for experiments there is:

The Lab 2 Electric Boogaloo #2 (2003)
Blue Dream Studios/Astonish Comics

We've got two superhappy animal-humanoid things... a bowtie clad mole and a bear/dog/marmot? with hungry eyes. Do you see what's going on here? The bear/dog/marmot creature (you know what... let's assume it's a bear) is trying to get you to look away, and when you do... HE STRIKES. Oh yeah, and they are masterfully dancing in the background.


PREPARE FOR A COMPELLING STORY! Estaban the bear and Livingston the mole venture into their new lab for the first time after the first one apparently blew up. Livingston is stoked and Estaban just starts playing with chemicals and accidentally blows up this lab too. It's ok though, it's salvageable and it gets cleaned up nicely. There is a mysterious vial that Livingston has Estaban taste and you get the feeling that it tastes like straight up butthole. Estaban pretend it tastes like grape and gets Livingston to try it and he almost keels over. Time passes and they don't know why it's not working. Eventually they decide to do other work and turn on some tunes and Estaban starts dancing and singing uncontrollably... that's what the liquid in the vial does. So he dances to Elvis, Dean Martin, Michael Jackson etc. much to Livingston's amusement. Once it wears off it's discovered that Livingston has the same symptoms due to the amount he ingested, so Estaban gets back at him while filming him as he strips.


Look at this art. It speaks for itself. It is early CG much like Reboot was (props if you remember it) which basically means it's good for kids but doesn't provide much in terms of environment and character definition. The faces are expressive enough though, Estaban in particular. The dance moves are basically a step by step process of what the dances actually look like. It's a kid's book! Relax!


Alright so if you like books where moles and bears dance to popular songs then this is for you. If you like to watch people who don't get along unmercifully embarrass each other than this is for you. If you like science that makes perfect sense (dancing serums are straight up science) then this... might not be for you. HOWEVER, if you have kids, this may be for you. I could see kids liking it. I'm pretty impressed that this is The Lab 2, that emans they got through whatever The Lab 1 was.

If I were to pick one panel to sum up this issue, it'd have to be:



Click Bait

Drew read a comic book about memes and you won't believe what happened next;

Memetic #1 (2014)
BOOM! Studios
Creator/Writer: James Tynion IV
Illustrator/Covers: Eryk Donovan
Colors: Adam Guzowski
Letters: Steve Wands

I had NO clue what this was going to be about. It was confident enough to put a hypnotic sloth on the cover and therefore it deserved a shot. The price point is $4.99 but much like Death Vigil, it is oversized and doesn't have any ads until after the story and extras are finished. The extras include the Facebook page of the main character as well as an inside look into the world and characters of Memetic by the writer and artist.


What's this book about?! Here's the elevator pitch: A college student named Aaron is trying to apologize to his boyfriend for a mistake he made but his boyfriend isn't responding. Then a meme pops up on one of his social media feeds of a smiling sloth giving a thumbs up in front of a hypnotic circle pattern. Soon after, he notices everyone talking about the meme and how great it makes them feel. The fad soon goes beyond his college campus to the rest of the country, and then the rest of the world. Everyone is enamored and the meme gets branded the Good Times Sloth. The good times are swiftly interupted, when those who were enjoying the sloth become violent... and extremely deadly.

I like the way James Tynion IV accurately depicts social media and texts in this title as well as how how much everyone uses the internet. It adds a level of believability, as does the way he appropriately writes college student and the problems they face (crazy people aside). Most impressive is how he built up the excitement of the meme so much, only for civilization to quickly erupt into fear. All in all the story is very captivating and produces a whole mess of questions and mystery.


Eryk Donovan has a very sketchy art style that fits this story very well. The Good Times Sloth is definitely mesmerizing and makes the reader curious immediately, which is good because he's (or she's) in this book a LOT. Once everything hits the fan, the "memefected" (you like that? I made it up) are drawn with wide eyes and demented expressions on their pained faces. They look sick and threatening in all the right ways. Before disaster strikes, the environments are drawn to be very normal and serene. However, in an early "flashforward" you see that the environment becomes just as bleak and frightening as the people inhabiting characters. Obvious shout out to Adam Guzowski for sealing the deal of this drastic transformation.


James Tynion IV's Memetic deals with the sensitive subject of our connection (and perhaps reliance) to the internet. Tynion IV, Donovan, and the rest of the team work well together to make a story that ends up being pretty freaky. They take something everyone sees so much of these days and TOTALLY turn it on it's head. The first issue is intriguing and stuffed full of information that will make you want to read the next 2 issues of this mini (3 total) to see just how much worse it can get. The whole team works well together to make a story that ends up being pretty freaky.


"I can haz Memetic?"





The Dead Fight for the Living

Strong characters?! Mysteries?! The Grim Reaper has a team of the sort-of-dead that fight evil?! I'm in!

Death Vigil (2014)
Image Comics
Creator/Writer/Artist/Covers: Stjepan Sejic

Death Vigil is a series put out by Top Cow Productions (you know, an Image imprint) completely done by Stjepan Sejic. This is an 8 issue series that is currently on it's 5th issue. This series started the way so many should, with a 40+ page story with no ads until the very end. The issues that came after were a little shorter, but followed suit by maintaining their quality of story and epic art as well as pushing any ads to the end.


The story revolves around Bernadette, a.k.a. the Grim Reaper, and the people who she brings back to life to form the Death Vigil. This group is composed of people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities who use objects known as Veilrippers (a pen, a sword, a tarot deck, and more) as familiars to fight the evil organization/cult, The League of Necromancers who are aligned with The Pale Court. Oh, I should mention that they also use the help of a raven (that can turn into a t-rex) named Hugin, which some of you may recognize as the name of one of Odin's ravens. The Pale Court is working to unlock the Codex of Dreamers which will spell disaster for absolutely everyone. To do so they need a certain number of Veilrippers, and must kill those that possess them in the process. Besides a smart and unique plot, Sejic really achieved a feeling of family and friendship among the members of the Death Vigil that helps bring the reader closer to each individual character as well as the group as a whole. The situation in the book is serious, but the characters handle it with grace and fun.


The art is INCREDIBLE! It is vibrant and unlike anything I've ever seen in a comic. The Veilrippers are all drawn in such a way where it looks like they are glowing and are true forces for good. On the flip side of that, the monsters are all enormous, threatening, and pretty frightening. No two speech bubbles are alike, whether it's the different lines leading to them, colors, or even the shapes they are in. I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm into the way people are drawn, and in this all of the characters are drawn to perfectly fit their personality from the outfits they wear to the expressions on their faces.


Stjepan Sejic's Death Vigil is another example of a work that deserves attention. With an impressive story and mind blowing visuals, I hope this tale continues after it's 8 issue cut-off. This series started in July and most of the issues can probably still be found at your local comic shop or online, so there is still time to catch up before the (what I'm sure will be crazy) conclusion. I encourage everyone to check out at least the first issue, which I'm sure will suck you in after a couple pages. Thanks for reading, folks! 


Sifting for Gold #5

No intro can accurately describe:

Brats Bizarre #1 (1994)
Epic Comics

Looking at this cover, this books got it all! Cirque du Soleil rejects, a mostly naked woman with a serious wedgie, not one but TWO alabaster white folks (one with anime eyes), a devil lady, and two dudes with navy blue masks who clearly hate shirts with collars.


I won't normally do this but instead of a full issue synopsis I will quote the description on the back:
"A government experiment on Autism spawns a new breed of heroes. Breaking free of the puritanical parentage of their leader, Mr. Petra, a group of these teenaged "superkind" seeks a life where they are free to express their every adolescent whims. They are on nobody's side. Nobody's friends. They may just be their own worst enemies-- super-powered rebels without a cause! They are the BRATS BIZARRE." 

Is it just me... or does that sound like an INSTANT hit. In this issue (the first of four), the flamboyant team runs over pedestrians, goes crazy and kills most of the competitors at the Mean Hog Rally (hog as in motorcycle), recap their tragic origin (which shows them all in the same costumes but as kids... which is weird) and does whatever else they can to not be like the other superpowered folks in town.


The art is extremely colorful, in many ways to it's detriment. The backgrounds are very bright and tend to blend into the action or characters in the panels. I understand what is happening here and the desire to make each panel vibrant however it's a little much here. The human figures look alright, most of them are accurate minus the waste lines on some of the ladies, the muscles on some of the dudes, and a couple long necks. I will say this though, the facial expressions are fun, every smile is very Joker-esque.


This book is clearly trying to make characters that don't have your typical origin or behave like comic superpowered folks are expected to act. In many ways that goal is achieved, and for when it came out I could see how this was crazy out there and borderline innovative. I guess the world just wasn't quite ready for these flamboyant characters... but at least the issue came with trading cards!

If I were to pick one panel to sum up this issue, it'd have to be:


Fiary Tales and Fun Hats

Did you need evidence that fairy tales are still produced... but in comics?? Well good, because here's:

Over The Garden Wall Special #1
KaBOOM!
Creator/Writer: Pat McHale
Illustrator: Jim Campbell
Additional Colors: Danielle Burgos

Alright so this is a comic book one shot based on the new Cartoon Network miniseries of the same name which is based on the animated short Tome of the Unknown. Over the Garden Wall is released by KaBOOM!, the all ages imprint of BOOM! Studios. The short, show, and comic were all written by Pat McHale who has worked on Flapjack and Adventure Time. Anyway, it seemed whimsical and shows goofy hats, so I figured I'd check it out! I have seen the show, and it is cuh-razy in all the right ways, BUT this isn't a TV show review site, so I won't go much into that (except for some casting choices). This is about just the comic. Soooooooo let's begin!


Wirt (pointy hat, Elijah Wood on the show), Greg (teapot hat, Collin Dean), and a frog are lost in the woods known as The Unknown. They are being lead by a mischievous bluebird named Beatrice to a witch named Adelaide of the Pasture, who can supposedly get them out of the forest. This issue focuses mainly on an interaction the quartet has with four wayward soldiers sailing on a giant bicorne (you know, the kind of hat Napoleon wore) across a sea of grain.

Unlike McHale's previous works, this has a less humorous tone. It has fewer random adventures and is more a quest to escape the woods, which are riddled with strange people/creaturs. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of silly moments and fun to be had in this book, but don't expect Adventure Time out of it. The dialogue is much wordier and you get a lot more detail about the minds of the characters. Though there isn't much backstory given (it's a very short series after all) McHale does a great job of showcasing the initiative, goals, relationships, and attitudes of the characters. 


The art is very cartoony (as many cartoon to comic properties are). I like the super wide-eyed looks of the two boys as they traverse the field and the field itself really looks like an ocean with the way everything is swaying. The soldiers are all playfully portrayed as satires of 1800s French soldiers of varying body types. All in all through the art you can tell the books main focus group, but it really adds to the fairy tale feel of the story.


Pat McHale's Over the Garden Wall reads a lot like a modern fairy tale and the fun sense of adventure, uncertainty, and curiosity that Wirt and Greg provide is a nice touch. The book's story and art are almost a hybrid between Adventure Time and a Miyazaki movie, but it definitely has it's own identity. Over the Garden Wall has finished it's 10 episode television run and there is no revealed plan to have additional comic issues, but if you want a fun all ages story then absolutely check this out. Whether you watched the show then read the comic or vice versa, I strongly encourage you to explore this world as much as possible.


14 Genre Melding Pages

Have you ever wanted to read a comic that is part 80's action, part 80's fantasy, part Adventure Time, part Terminator, part Dungeons and Dragons, part Conan, and part Dune? Then you should check out:

Swords & Lazers 2 (2014)
Art/Story by, Benjamin Marra

Swords and Lazers 2 is part 10 in the Sacred Prism series. Sacred Prism is a series of veeery independent creator owned fantasy stories (this is the only one I have read though). The book is a 5" x 7" total joyride and can be read after part 1 (Blades and Lazers, Sacred Prism 4). That being said, there is enough information for this to be read as a one-shot. 

So we've got the Gearson Brothers, shown on the cover, who capture a wizard under the instruction/payment of Mistress General, to summon the galactic demon Dral-Hultrythrer. There is much more to it with super fun boss battles and really quipy lines. Marra successfully manages to play out a full, fun story in 14 pages that doesn't feel rushed. The sci-fi and action elements of the story give this crazy 80's cult movie vibe which gave me a sense of nostalgia but was also a refreshing departure from some of the books I usually read. 


The colors and art work together in a great way. Color-wise, only dark blue and pink are used, which is an interesting choice. Using these two colors as well as the white of the pages, Marra makes each panels intent very clear. All of the characters have a different look, as though they are all from different worlds. For example, the first panel shows three wizards, one who looks a bit like Sinestro, one who looks like Merlin, and one who has a little car for legs. The backgrounds are riddled with planets and stars while the ground uses pink dots of varying sizes to give a sense of perspective.


My only complaint about this book is that I don't know when I will be able to read the next adventure of the Gearson Brothers! Marra's mixture of writing, color, and art is unique and gets in your face without being abrasive. If you want to check out Blades and Lazers 2 or any of the other Sacred Prism books, you can check them out at http://secretprison.storenvy.com/. If you would like to see some of Benjamin Marra's other work/sketches/etc. then check out his website at http://www.benjaminmarra.com.




Sifting for Gold #4

Today we are going to discuss a real American hero. None other than:

Mr. T and the T Force #1 (1993)
NOW Comics 

In this book, Mr. T is, as always, a street tough warrior for righteousness (more or less). Armed only with his muscles, street smarts, and gun (that's actually a video camera) he starts to clean up the streets. The issue starts out with Mr. T beating the snot out of some punk drug dealers when all of a sudden he gets tazered from behind by the ringleader. He points his super threatening video camera at him and the ringleader does an evil monologue about selling drugs. Mr. T says the gun is a VHS camcorder and he will turn it into the police so the ringleader and his cronies run for their lives. Probably because cameras steal your soul.


The drug dealers from earlier are all unconscious except for one that he takes with him because he hears a mysterious noise in a dumpster. The source of the sound turns out to be a baby that was thrown away by a reeeeal d-bag. Mr. T gives the baby to the drug dealer and forces him to bring it to a clinic (what kind of clinic is never revealed). He slaps a GPS/FaceTime (but not because it was 1993) bracelet on the dudes arm to make sure he is staying on the straight and narrow. The drug dealer gets to the clinic and tells a nurse about the baby. The nurse thinks he is just being negligent and gets so mad she quits on the spot. Some kids try to stop her and the drug dealer notices they have the same bracelets as him. Meanwhile, Mr. T finds a crime boss (a 10-foot tall Native American) who is pissed that Mr. T has been messing up business. THE END.


The art is... fun. The faces are detailed and the highlights make everyone shine. ESPECIALLY Mr. T... he looks like a sun god. Every single action is overexaggerated in the best way, with movement lines everywhere. It was almost manga-esque with some of the actions. Oh and everyone is pretty toned. Oh and a dude has a sleeveless tee under his sleeveless tee.


All in all, this book wasn't total crap. It has an extremely goofy plot and doofy characters BUT it was an accurate portrayal of the completely over the top personality of Mr. T. In the 90's, what some might consider to be the golden age of public service announcements, this was communicating an important message: Do not be a drug dealer or Mr. T will find you and give you a baby that makes nurses upset.

If I were to pick one panel to sum up this issue, it'd have to be: