Archive for April, 2012

The Expo Starts Tomorrow!

One more quick reminder before Saturday — the fifth annual Lubbock Comic Book Expo is happening this weekend, starting tomorrow, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It’s part of the 34th annual Lubbock Arts Festival, and it’ll be in the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center at 1501 Mac Davis Lane in Lubbock.

You’ve already heard there are tons of special guests. I won’t go over all of them again, but you can browse around the Lubbock Comics website for plenty of info about all of them.

And for goodness sake, we don’t want to forget about all the panel discussions and events going on. Here’s a quick schedule of what’s going on:

Saturday April 14th

10:00 am – 10:50 am: Write Right: Life, the Universe, and Everything by Mary Andrews
11:00 am – 11:50 am:  Why Read Comics? by Rob Weiner
12:00 pm – 12:50 pm:  Special FX and Make-up Panel by Renee Benton
1:00 pm – 2:20 pm:  Costume Contest!
2:30 pm – 3:20 pm:  In the Verse Unplugged
3:30 pm – 4:20 pm:  Writer/Artist Panel Moderated by Will Terrell
4:30 pm – 5:20 pm:  Iron Artist competition Watch ‘em Draw!
5:30 pm – 6:50 pm:  Filming a Superhero Web Series by Daniel Ballard and Kabletowava Films

Sunday April 15th

1:00 pm – 1:50 pm: Web Comics Creators’ panel moderated by Will Terrell
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm: the First Ever NERD Crown Competition by Jason Rhode & JP Acreman (Potential contestants for the NERD Crown will be chosen by written exam prior to the event)

Don’t miss out on this, guys, it’s gonna be a lot of fun.

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Dancy in the Dark

Alabaster: Wolves #1

Caitlin R. Kiernan is the writer of this new Dark Horse series, based on the adventures of a character she’s written in several books. Dancy Flammarion is a young Southern girl, an albino, and a monster hunter, watched over by her own multi-headed guardian angel. Dancy is hanging out in a small, dying town in South Carolina waiting for a bus when she meets up with a girl who knows far too much about her — in fact, the girl is a werewolf, and she challenges Dancy to a riddle contest. If Dancy wins, she gets back a cigar box of her old trinkets and possessions; if the werewolf wins, it’s suppertime. And then Dancy has to go and screw it all up by making her angel mad.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Didn’t plan on picking this up, and didn’t know anything about the novels the character comes from, but the previews I saw of this were really great fun. Dancy is a really wonderful character with a great voice and personality. Heck, the werewolf girl is a great character, too. Come to think of it, the bird Dancy talks to is a pretty good character, too. Love Steve Lieber’s artwork, too — the atmosphere in the deserted town is pretty much perfect.

Batgirl #8

Barbara has learned that one of Grotesque’s minions was one of the Joker’s henchmen on the night she was shot. And for some reason, she lets him go free. She finally has the long-overdue talk with her estranged mother and learns that she left the family because she had a breakdown when Barbara’s little brother, James Jr., killed a cat and told her he’d kill Babs if she didn’t leave the family. Batgirl meets up with Grotesque again, gives him the beatdown he deserves, and gets her unexpected closure from Danny, the henchman who watched her get shot all those years ago. All that plus a nice little cliffhanger on the last page…

Verdict: Thumbs up. I’m not sure I buy Babs letting Danny go the first time, but the rest of the comic is gold. And the cliffhanger really is stellar. Don’t wanna say more and spoil it, but it’s just wonderful — I was afraid we’d lost that particular character in the DC Reboot.

Lobster Johnson: The Burning Hand #4

The Black Flame, a skull-faced specter able to burn anything with mystical black fire, is running amok as mobster Arnie Wald presses his attack on Lobster Johnson and his crimefighting cohorts. Lobster takes out most of the gangsters, but the Black Flame is a bit more impervious. Can anything stop the undying monster?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Excellent art and writing. Good twists and turns in the story, too.

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More Guests at the Expo!

Hey, you got your dayplanner set for this weekend, right? The fifth annual Lubbock Comic Book Expo is happening this weekend, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. It’s going to be part of the 34th annual Lubbock Arts Festival, and it’ll be in the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center at 1501 Mac Davis Lane in Lubbock. There’s a small charge to enter the Arts Festival proper, but if all you wanna do is go to the Expo, it’s dead solid free.

Of course, you want to be there for the costume contest at 1 p.m. on Saturday, as well as all the other panels and activities, but there are also going to be a lot more special guests. We talked a bit about the guests a while back, but even more have been announced, including Koi Turnbull, Rita Moore, Sarah Arnold, George Zepeda, Rob Weiner, Mary Andrews and Joe Douglas Trent, an indie rock band called In the ‘Verse, Josh Lees, Jose Esquivel, Zip Alegria, Bryan Burk, Chas Foreman, and Jason Shasteen.

And that doesn’t even include all the friendly artists and vendors — and the fans — who’ll be hanging out upstairs in the Civic Center to chat, make some art, and sell some great stuff.

Remember, it’s this weekend! Saturday and Sunday! Don’t miss out, durngum it.

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For Those about to Rock

iZombie #24

Our focus in this issue is on Kennedy, the field leader of the Dead Presidents, a bunch of government monsters who go out to fight other monsters. Everyone in Eugene, Oregon is dealing with the problem of an elder god called Xitalu, who is about to come to Earth and kill everyone, and Kennedy notices a new player on the scene — a green-skinned, green-haired combat monster who looks just like Gwen’s boyfriend, Horatio. And Kennedy realizes that this reminds her of something from her past — after a short origin story, the flashback reveals that a mission a few decades ago had her meeting up with a rock band called Ghost Dance that, thanks to lyrics assistance from a trippy novelist named Adam Morlock, was performing concerts where the band and everyone in the audience had mass hallucinations. What’s the connection between an old rock band and the end of the world?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Nice to see a little background on the Dead Presidents’ leader. Great character work, too, particularly for the band members. And a really nice cliffhanger. It’s depressing that this title will be ending in another four issues, though…

Fatale #4

The supernatural gangsters are running amok. They’ve already butchered the wife of reporter Hank Raines and have now turned their evil attentions on a mob boss named “Mayday” Luccarelli and his stooges. Hank Raines has gone a little bit crazy after being accused of killing his wife — especially after he sees the gory crime scene photos. Corrupt cop Walt Booker and his partner insist they had nothing to do with the murder, though their superiors still suspect them. Josephine catches up with Booker, and she convinces him that he should help her escape from the demon mobsters. We also learn that Booker has been able to see through the world’s mundane veil to the otherworldly horrors that actually run things. And Hank, released from jail because the cops don’t believe he really committed the murder, gets trailed by Booker’s partner, and they both land in a world of trouble.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Super-stylish noir-horror. Great atmosphere, killer art, everything else about it rocks. Don’t know what else I can tell you about it — it’s grand fun to read.

Avengers Academy #28

The Runaways have got Old Lace back, but they’ve learned that Giant-Man and Tigra plan to betray them so they can get Molly Hayes and Klara Prast into normal families and normal schools. This leads to a fight… but not a very long fight — most of the Avengers Academy kids are entirely sympathetic to the Runaways. They all realize that part of the problem is that none of them understand the other side’s point-of-view, but Nico Minoru can cast a spell that will make that possible. So everyone gets a peek into the brains of someone else on the other squad so they can get some perspective on their lives. Will that be enough to clear up the two teams’ disagreements?

Verdict: Thumbs up. So amazing to have a comic where problems are solved through brainpower instead of a bunch of people slugging each other.

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Friday Night Fights: Rodent Rage!

Listen, kiddios, right now, it’s 4:36 p.m., Central time, Friday, April 6, 2012, Planet Earth, Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy, Universe Designation Theta-L88Z-Omega-92, and I think we should just go ahead and get the weekend started early. Let’s get going with a little… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Let’s go with the biggest, baddest badass in comics, a’ight? From January 1992’s Marvel Super-Heroes #8 by the one and only Steve Ditko and Will Murray, here’s the grand debut of Squirrel Girl as she helps Iron Man take down Doctor Doom.

Hope you have a great weekend — everyone go out there and get nutty.

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Devil’s Advocate

Daredevil 10.1

Matt Murdock gets called in to consult with a prisoner who he’s been hired to represent — a pyrokinetic supervillain who, coincidentally, got arrested for trying to kill Murdock — and got brought in after getting stomped by Daredevil. Matt’s been called in because the pyro claims he’s undergoing cruel and unusual punishment — the prison is hitting him loud noise and constant heating changes that make it impossible for him to sleep, even if they do break up his concentration so he can’t use his powers. But the bad guy is still under contract to bring capture Murdock and bring him to the Hellfire Club. Can Matt get out of this situation? And why does the Hellfire Club care about him?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Another truly outstanding Daredevil story, with lots of action, humor, and brains. If I’ve got a complaint, it’s that the art on this comic isn’t up to the extremely high standards of previous issues of this title.

The Amazing Spider-Man #683

The world’s leaders and top scientists are trying to figure out if they can take Dr. Octopus’ ultimatum seriously — he wants to be acknowledged as the world’s savior or he’ll burn the planet to a cinder by accelerating global warming. The Avengers soon appear, and Spider-Man makes a scene by punching Al Gore’s lights out. Now don’t get all excited, Republicans — it was really the Chameleon in disguise. Doc Ock starts to activate his satellite network, and Iron Man tries to track the signal, but to no avail. And Mayor Jameson shuts down the power for Horizon Labs while they’re trying to assist. But Octavius temporarily reverses the effects of his rays, and the world’s leaders insist the heroes let the Chameleon go. Spidey has this all planned out, and the Avengers track Cham’s escape vehicle, which leads to a confrontation with the rest of the Sinister Six. Spidey’s been planning for this fight, too — but has he been planning enough?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots and lots of stuff happening in this issue, but it’s all organized well, and we don’t lose track of the action. Lots of intrigue and scheming and plenty of fisticuffs as well.

Justice League International #8

Batwing joins the team in this issue, as the JLI fights off a bunch of metahuman terrorists, including a light controller called Lightweaver, a decay master called Breakdown, and a communications hacker called Intersek. But most of the JLI are injured or dead, and the hospital and the UN are coming down hard on the few able-bodied Leaguers — and the bad guys have a secret, unwitting ally who they’ve manipulated into attacking the heroes.

Verdict: A very modest thumbs up. It’s not a bad story, just not shoot-the-lights-out good. I’m still bugged that most of the (extremely good) female characters are stuck in the hospital, and a bit peeved by the announcement that Batwing and Vixen knew each other back in Africa. Come on, it’s a great big continent — why assume that everyone from Africa knows each other?

Today’s Cool Links:

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Wonder Women and Power Girls

Womanthology: Heroic

Hopefully, you’ve heard the story of this comic anthology by now. Artist Renae De Liz sends out a tweet asking if anyone would be interested in contributing work for an anthology comic featuring nothing but female creators. She gets very positive responses and takes the whole thing to Kickstarter to get funding — and the results go entirely beyond expectations. “Womanthology” raised $109,000 — over $75,000 over the project’s goal — and is the most funded comic project in Kickstarter’s history.

So this is what we’ve got now — a gigantic comic anthology, published by IDW, with well over 300 pages of comics and artwork by over 150 women, ranging from well-known comics names like Gail Simone, Barbara Kesel, Trina Robbins, Stephanie Buscema, Colleen Doran, and Fiona Staples (and many others besides) to unknown pros to inexperienced wannabes to kids and teenagers who are dreaming about becoming professional artists someday.

The theme of the book is heroism — so we get quite a few stories starring superheroines, but we also get more low-key heroism, too — people being kind to others, sticking up for the oppressed, mini-epics for science fiction and sword-and-sorcery fantasy.

And scattered among all the stories and pinups are tips on writing, art, and making it in the business of comics from certified pros, as well as thumbnail profiles of every single contributor. And it all wraps up with interviews, how-to tutorials, and biographies of women who were comic art pioneers.

Verdict: Thumbs up. There is so much stuff here, I’ll never be able to pick out favorite stories — it would take too long to go through the book, select my picks, and list them all — but there is a lot of extremely good storytelling and art on display in this anthology, by a vast number of talented creators.

I love the fact that this functions as part brag-book — “Look at all these great artists and writers, and see all the awesome stuff they do!” — and part instructional manual, with how-to tips and tutorials to help other artists learn their craft. It’s clear that a lot of the reason the book came together so well is that the creators wanted to both teach and inspire. That alone is a great mission for a comic like this.

Probably the thing I love about this the most is that it ends the argument once and for all about whether women care about comics. Here are a hundred and fifty women of all ages who love the snot out of comics. And a lot of them use their thumbnail profiles to talk about how much they love comics. And in an era where one of the Big Two comics publishers can’t seem to stop itself from ignoring and insulting women and female creators and female characters, that’s a very powerful statement, all by itself.

The price on this is a bit steep. It’s $50 for over 300 pages of comics goodness. I still think you should go pick it up.

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Down to the Underworld

Daredevil #10

The Mole Man has turned grave-robber, snatching dozens of bodies from a cemetery in New York City — including the body of Matt Murdock’s father. So Daredevil has pursued the Mole Man underground, narrowly avoiding death in the jaws of his monstrous minions. He soon learns the Mole Man’s motives — when he was just normal, short, ugly Dr. Harvey Elder, there was a woman at his workplace who was the only person who treated him kindly — and when he found out she had died, Harvey had stolen all the bodies in the cemetery just to find her and tell her, postmortem, that he loved her. Daredevil shows up, and a terrific fight breaks out — the Mole Man, despite being short, overweight, and almost blind, is a skilled fighter. Will Daredevil be able to stop him? Will he be able to save the gravenapped bodies?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Near-perfect from beginning to end. Amazing action, great dialogue, and beautiful characterization. Unexpected depths for the Mole Man, who is both sympathetic and astoundingly creepy. It’s a little scary how much fun this comic is every month.

All Star Western #7

Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham have traveled to New Orleans in pursuit of criminal mastermind Thurston Moody. They soon team up with Western vigilantes Nighthawk and Cinnamon after Hex saves a bunch of people in a terrorist bombing. Turns out the terrorists are radical anti-immigration loons, and Nighthawk and Cinnamon recruit Hex, with his ever-present Confederate Army uniform, to spy on them. This leads him to a gladiatorial arena where immigrants and non-whites are served up to be killed by beautiful assassin Z.C. Branke. But will Hex’s undercover investigation stick him in the ring as well?

Verdict: Thumbs up. My minor nitpicks are (1) Aw, gee, not more of that useless Amadeus Arkham! and (2) I think Jonah Hex is too well-known in DC’s version of the Wild West to be able to go unrecognized by the criminal community. But other than that, good dialogue, good action, and great art by Moritat.

Snarked #6

Wilburforce J. Walrus, Clyde McDunk, Queen Scarlett, and Prince Rusty, along with the rest of the crew of the Old Gertrude, are searching for Snark Island and the kidnapped King — but they’re soon accosted by pirates — the Mad Hatter, the March Hare, the Dormouse, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, the White Rabbit, Humpty Dumpty, and the Caterpillar. The pirates are all starving and desperate for our heroes’ crocodile steaks, and their battle tactics are fairly eccentric — firing some of their own crew at the other ship, then sitting around and arguing until they themselves get boarded. Will Queen Scarlett be able to hatch a plan to subdue the pirates? And will the Walrus manage to rescue everyone when that plan flops?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Wonderfully funny stuff. Great cartooning, lots of funny situations, just an all-around fun comic for kids of all ages. Yes, that includes you grownups, too.

Secret Avengers #24

The Secret Avengers run around the robot-filled secret city of the Descendants. They get beat up, argue, get shot, and get angsty while the robots plan some sort of generic Evil Doomy Evil Doom.

Verdict: Thumbs down. So much angst, so much boredom.

Today’s Cool Links:

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