SW Movie Recommends: PROSPECT, a recent indie sci-fi film gem

PROSPECT

Directors and Writers: Christopher Caldwell, Zeek Earl
Producers: Depth of Field, Ground Control, BRON Studios, Shep Films
Theatrical Release: November 2nd, 2018
Star actors: Sophie Thatcher, Jay Duplass, Pedro Pascal
Time: 98 min Rated: R
Official site: http://www.prospectthefilm.com

Synopsis:

A teenage girl and her father travel to a remote alien moon, aiming to strike it rich. They’ve secured a contract to harvest a large deposit of the elusive gems hidden in the depths of the moon’s toxic forest. But there are others roving the wilderness and the job quickly devolves into a fight to survive. Forced to contend not only with the forest’s other ruthless inhabitants, but with her own father’s greed-addled judgment, the girl finds she must carve her own path to escape.

Personal Findings:

(No big spoilers, promise)

I recently saw Prospect at my local movie theatre through a very limited release. I dived in knowing nothing about it, other good feedback and some guy from Game of Thrones is in it. I was craving fresh science fiction not based on any franchise, game, book, or whatever.  I saw the poster, a little bit of the trailer, admired the environment suits, and that’s it (after convincing a dear friend of mine to come along).

After watching, this entire work felt very different for reasons I couldn’t initially put my finger on. It can’t be the story, for it’s not very original with a mix of elements of Enemy Mine, True Grit, The Road…all movies I like. But, there are new world-building elements that feel fresh or at least underutilized in other modern science fiction movies. A main new take is on a gold-rush style mining business for weird sponge things on other planets. The details are not spoon-fed for exposition, so the viewer needs to work out the groundwork along the way, which can be natural yet leaves room for a little mystery. Such is not a requirement to enjoy the film, because the center-story is what really matters.

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That narrows down to the relationship a young teenage girl in relation to her father and his business partner, which leads to some deadly high-tension developments. I don’t want to spoil what happens. After all, this is a recommendation.  But the focus is on a survival predicament leading a dangerous quest, and more danger till the very end. Some of it might feel predictable, but the drama throughout is well-played, with heavy tension and development throughout.

The big surprise is how excellent the production, editing, and presentation feels. The technology and elements of the sci-fi feel old school reminiscent of the late 70s, early 80s; with much care to the handmade designs of the props, costumes, and equipment. There’s no holograms, touchscreens, CGI, or other modern gimmicks placed in. All are mostly homegrown practical design and effects. The detail on such is awesome, with much care and thought put forth by the director and production staff.

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Also, the cinematography is well-done. Lots of shots and transitions taking care in the framing and positioning of people, actions, settings. Some practical effects are simple, working well to establish toxic landscapes, atmosphere spacecraft transitions, moments of weapon dueling that fits well for this gritty sci-fi tale. The setting (Olympia National Forest in the US state of Washington) is also well-utilized, feeling lush and almost otherworldly; untouched and quiet as barely habitable alien planets should be.

The sound is kept subtle but raised only at the most necessary tense moment. The breathing, stepping, creaking, all add to its tension.

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Overall, Prospect is a great movie that is both acclaimed yet underappreciated for 2018. If you have a chance to see it in theaters, go for it. If not, it will eventually be available for home release and in-demand/steaming sometime in 2019. Then see it!

Reading Recommendation: Black Panther: Long Live The King

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Black Panther: Long Live The King
Writers: Aaron Covington, Nnedi Okorafor
Artists: André Lima Araújo, Mario Del Pennino, Tana Ford
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Trade paperback edition collects Black Panther – Long Live The King #1-6 single issues,  originally digital exclusives to Comixology.com. Now sold fresh in comic shops sand bookstores everywhere.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown. As the Black Panther and an Avenger, T’Challa has had to save the world time and again — but those duties pale in comparison to his responsibilities as king of Wakanda. Now, as the nation rebuilds in the wake of revolution, T’Challa finds his people besieged by a massive monster tearing through the country, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake! From acclaimed novelist NNEDI OKORAFOR (Binti, Who Fears Death) and illustrator ANDRE LIMA ARAUJO (SPIDEY, The Wicked + The Divine) comes an adventure set in the world of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ landmark BLACK PANTHER run and told in the Mighty Marvel Manner!

Thoughts:

I much enjoyed the Black Panther movie from earlier this year. As for the comics history, I read some of the Christopher Priest run, which I also liked. I also recently started  on the Te-Nahisi Coates run, which will take some time for me to finish. The bulk of my Black Panther comics exposure is through guest appearances in Fantastic Four, Avengers and various crossovers.

But seeing the movie, I felt a newfound appreciation of the character of T’Challa. His identity outside the costume, is just as important and responsibility filled as his superhero role. Yet, he continues learning of his role, asking questions while consoling with friends and family to make better decisions, and strengthen his fighting spirit.

Digging into the comics, I stumbled upon this mini-series book collection of Black Panther: Long Live The King, Something felt fresh, with the art and presentation of T’Challa and his world of Wakanda. It felt inviting, with T’Challa drawn as a youthful and expressive man. Diving in, this tugs at the heart of what I found appealing about Black Panther. He accepts the extraordinary responsibility as a ruler of an advanced society, but strives to better himself as a man and hero; to which helps him fulfill his duty.

There are other sides to him, which I think this mini-series presents well.

Black Panther Long Live the King

And within, the story takes place in the hidden African land of Wakanda. Inside is a glimpse of everyday life in different areas, from the King’s technologically advanced city to the rural outskirts exhibiting a humbled approach away from its technology. Each chapter expands the overall mythology and hidden fantasy of Wakanda, making the setting something to marvel at.

I love the art for most of the book (then changes in the last chapter for a different story). It’s different from what I have seen from the other Marvel Black Panther series. The visuals come off as welcoming, light, brightly colored, over a land not under attack (happens a lot over over its long history). No excessive grit and gritty here. Wakanda seems otherwise chill, with regular natives coexisting well.

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But there are dangers, and that’s all expected. And, the drama leads to a mysterious person from T’Challa’s past, hidden magic and the return of an old nemesis. Our hero must fight with the help of his sister and friends. With that, the call for action is answered with interesting sequences and great moments for Black Panther fans to appreciate. Then, a last chapter that calls for something different (think of it as a bonus side-story).

Overall, highly recommended for new fans of the recent MCU movie. It’s a great gateway into the comics world, for those less familiar; with much of the drama, humanity and action of the movie. Meanwhile, more dedicated comics fans may feel a little less, as the story is more self-contained and light with little connection to overall Marvel Universe; yet can still enjoy for its different approach. Pick this up, for all readers looking to escape into the land of Wakanda with its fighting king.

Comic Reading Recommendation: Extremity Vol. 1: Artist

Extremity Vol. 1: Artist

  • Writer, Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
  • Colorist: Mike Spicer
  • Published by: Image Comics  Publish Date: September 6, 2017
  • Notes: Softcover format. Collects the original monthly issues of  #1-6.

Synopsis:

“Thea dreams. Not of a better life, but of revenge on the clan that ruined her family. With ferocious battles between man, machines, and monsters ahead…who knows where her quest for vengeance will take her? Creator DANIEL WARREN JOHNSON (Space Mullet) and colorist MIKE SPICER present a bold new vision, where the beauty and imagination of Studio Ghibli meet the intensity of Mad Max, in this all-new Skybound Original. Collects EXTREMITY #1-6”

Personal Review:

Extremity is an interesting series for those seeking something different in their post-apocalyptic style hybrid of fantasy and science fiction.  But more so, Extremity is an interesting journey of a family forever changed by oppression and violent conflict.

This first volume focuses on the story of a father (Jerome) and his two offspring (Rollo and Thea), living in a strange world of floating lands, odd technology and beasts. Their livesa changed, after losing the mother’s life and home to a rival tribe. The family is affected greatly by this cruelty, and we see the changes and developments in character. The father takes his surviving children in a new direction, pushing them forward as soldiers, encouraging ruthlessness with no mercy for the enemy. The two children react differently, leading to some surprising twists and interesting character developments.

The overall world-building is awesome, with some interesting ideas on technology, environment, and creatures. It’s a lot like Star Wars but set in a strange world. The character designs are a mix of cyberpunk, tribal and feudal era Japan, with some emphasis on badass styles borrowed from each. The action sequences bring out bigger panels, with some moments taking on an epic grandeur with much detail and clever angle of a cinematic approach to this epic family journey. The smaller character developments have excellent pacing with tearful moments, and changes that feel perfectly timed, not forced.

I also really enjoy the style inking and coloring of Extremity, providing the right kind of balance in the atmosphere that feels hard-edged, but not too gritty in the presentation. With the stylish art and strange concepts, this feels like a great adventure for those who enjoy ridiculous over-the-top visuals, yet developed enough in character direction to feel more involved on that the visuals are featuring. Also, big cheers to the sound effects used…

The first volume feels like the first act of a long epic drama, where we get to know the players and setting. Each chapter takes a good time with its pacing while hitting the eyes with hard-hitting action sequences. There are moments with heavy and graphic violence,  though presented to show brutality and seriousness of some very dark situations. the reactions of each, are the big payoff, towards what makes Extremity riveting.

If you enjoy older school fantasy western animated classics like Naussica: Valley of the Wind, Heavy Metal, Trigun, or the Max Max: Fury Road movie, check out Extremity. If you want something new and inventive that leads on character development, also check out Extremity: Volume 1. This read gives the right combination of storytelling, creative setting, and the excitement of a changing world where rules matter less. After finishing volume 1, you will likely find yourself wanting more.

SW 2017 Early Summer Big Comics GN and TP Reading List!

This summer has much in store for all comics reading adventurers out there. Set sail for your local comic stores and book retailers and take a look!

But often, the good treasure is easily missed. So here through Stranger Worlds, we have compiled a list through personal experiences, peer reviews, grapevine whispering, and good old-fashioned speculation to bring you some recommended reads. Many are in softcover trade paperback format,  collecting issues of popular monthly series. Others are in the graphic novel format, usually in hardcover. Many here are not part of some longstanding franchise or continuing from some long-running series. Such are fresh and easy for anyone for jumping in.

So take a look at the 20 selected below, and note any of interest. Each selection is either already out, or will be due out soon (range from early June to middle July). Ask for them at your favorite bookseller!

BLACK PANTHER: WORLD OF WAKANDA
Volume 1

Writer: Various
Artist: Various
Publisher: Marvel
Release Date: June 22, 2017
Retail Price: $17.99

Wakanda! Home of the Black Panther, a proud and vibrant nation whose legends and mysteries run deep. Now, delve deep into Wakanda’s lore with a love story where tenderness is matched by brutality! You know them as the Midnight Angels, but for now, they are just Ayo and Aneka – young women recruited to become Dora Milaje, an elite task force trained to protect the crown of Wakanda at all costs. But with their king shamed and their queen killed, Ayo and Aneka must take justice into their own hands! They’ve been officers. Rebels. Lovers. But can they be leaders? Plus: the return of former White Tiger, Kasper Cole! As Wakanda burns, Cole can only watch helplessly from halfway around the world. Will he find a new beginning – or meet a painful end? Collecting BLACK PANTHER: WORLD OF WAKANDA #1-6.

ROCKSTARS
Volume 1: NATIVITY IN BLACKLIGHT

Writer: Joe Harris
Artist: Megan Hutchison
Publisher: Image
Release Date: June 14, 2017
Retail Price: $9.99

When a pattern of unsolved “groupie” murders from the 1970s resumes in present-day Los Angeles, nobody makes the connection except Jackie Mayer, a rock nerd with a strange connection to music’s urban legends and a mysterious ability to “see” what most people miss. Together with a muckraking music writer and his loyal cat,  Jackie uncovers an underground conspiracy involving a legendary band, demonic possession, and sacrifices to the dark gods of rock. Fan-favorite JOE HARRIS (GREAT PACIFIC, The X-Files) and the mega-talented MEGAN HUTCHISON deliver a crash course in rock ‘n’ roll’s untold mysteries, secret histories, and seedy underbellies. Collects ROCKSTARS #1-5

LOOSE ENDS
A Southern Crime Romance

Writer: Jason Latour
Artist: Chris Brunner
Publisher: Image
Release Date: July 5th, 2017
Retail Price: $16.99

No one seemed to notice Sonny Gibson as he stepped back into “The Hideaway,” a dusty little honky-tonk nestled off the Carolina highway. But before the night was over, Sonny would be on the run from the law, from criminals, and even from himself. LOOSE ENDS is a gritty, slow-cooked, Southern crime romance that follows a winding trail down Tobacco Road, through the war-torn streets of Baghdad, and into the bright lights and bloody gutters of South Florida. From JASON LATOUR, co-creator of Eisner-winning SOUTHERN BASTARDS and the writer of Spider-Gwen, CHRIS BRUNNER (SOUTHERN BASTARDS, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight), and RICO RENZI (Spider-Gwen, Squirrel Girl). Collects LOOSE ENDS #1-4.

PLUM CRAZY TALES OF TIGER STRIPED CAT
Deadly Season

Writer,  Artist: Hoshino Natsumi
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Release Date: July 5, 2017
Retail Price: $11.99

A must-have for cat lovers everywhere, for fans of Chi’s Sweet Home. Plum Crazy! Tales of a Tiger-Striped Cat is an adorable new manga series that features the hilarious adventures a clever cat named Plum. Plum, as her family calls her, is a tiger-striped cat that lives with Miss Nakari, a single mother to her teenaged son, Taku. Plum can understand what people say to her, and she can even tell what’s in their minds. She also has many friends among the neighborhood cats. All is well in her everyday life until the day a mischievous kitten named Snowball joins Plum’s happy household. Will the naughty little newcomer turn Plum’s world completely topsy-turvy? Or will Snowball make her life even sweeter?

ARMIES 

Writer: Jean-Pierre Dionnet, Picaret
Artist: Jean-Claude Gal
Publisher: Humanoids
Release Date: July 5, 2017
Retail Price: $19.99

A collection of stories featuring an unstoppable army and an indomitable hero, all set amid the backdrop of barbaric and medieval lands. Jean-Pierre Dionnet shortly gained the favor of the public and has since grown immensely. This is the occasion for all lovers of the heroic fantasy genre to return to its roots.

APPLESEED: ALPHA
Deadly Season

Writer: Masamune Shirow, Iou Kuroda
Artist: Iou Kuroda
Publisher: Kodansha
Release Date: July 5, 2017
Retail Price: $24.99

A prequel to the cyberpunk franchise Appleseed by Shirow Masamune, creator of The Ghost in the Shell. In the 22nd century, New York City is a war-torn place ruled by warlords and a giant robot mayor with three eyes and a three-piece suit. While there, Deunan and her cyborg lover Briareos stumble across two citizens of a legendary utopia. It’s up to them to guard what could be humanity’s best chance to rebuild. 

GLISTER, TP

Writer,  Artist: Andi Watson
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: July 5, 2017
Retail Price: $14.99

Strange things happen around Glister Butterworth. A young girl living on her family’s English estate, Glister has unusual adventures every day, like the arrival of a teapot haunted by a demanding ghost, a crop of new relatives blooming on the family tree, a stubborn house that walks off its land in a huff, and a trip to Faerieland to find her missing mother.
o All four Glister stories collected into a value-priced edition!

ALACK SINNER AGE OF INNOCENCE

Writer: Carlos Sampayo
Artist: Jose Munoz
Publisher: Euro Comics
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $29.99

Alack Sinner: The Age of Innocence is the first of two volumes that present, for the first time in English, the complete Alack Sinner comics by the Argentine-born team of artist José Muñoz and writer Carlos Sampayo. Sinner is a hard-boiled private detective whose adventures are played out to a jazz soundtrack in a noir New York from 1975 through the 2000s. The Age of Innocence collects eleven stories, including “Talkin’ with Joe,” “The Webster Case,” “The Fillmore Case,” “Viet Blues,” “Life Ain’t a Comic Strip, Baby,” “Twinkle, Twinkle,” and “Dark City.” Alack Sinner is an international bestseller and between them, Muñoz and Sampayo are winners of Europe’s top comics awards.

ALICE & ZOUROKU
Volume 1

Writer,  Artist: Tetsuya Imai
Publisher: Seven Seas Entertainment
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $12.99

A group of young girls possesses a mysterious power known as “Alice’s Dream,” which gives them the ability to turn their thoughts into reality. Detained and experimented upon, these youths are locked away in secret until one of them manages to escape. Her name is Sana – a girl with the power to ignore the very laws of physics. When this willful powerhouse crosses paths with a stubborn old man named Zouroku, his carefully ordered life will never be the same again!

CARTHAGO ADVENTURES

Writer: Christophe Bec, Alcante, Giles Daoust
Artist: Jaouen Fafner, Brice Cossu, Alexis Sentenac, Drazen Kovacevic
Publisher: Humanoids
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $34.95

The original adventures of London Donovan and his shadowy boss, “The Centenarian of the Carpathians,” in this action-packed spin-off from the best-selling Carthago. These five individual, but interlinked, stories see Donovan and billionaire Feiersinger combating all manner of malicious myths and monsters from the Californian Bigfoot and deadly African dinosaurs, to Arctic Sea creatures and giant Canadian wolves. Whether driven by a taste for adventure, a passion for scientific curiosity, or simply by pure obsession, join our unrelenting heroes as they chase and encounter creatures that are as mythical as they are deadly.

Flash Gordon
King’s Cross

Writer: Jeff Parker, Jesse Hamm
Artist: Jesse Hamm, Grace Allison
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $19.99

Ming the Merciless wants to claim Earth as the crown jewel of his empire! His latest scheme? Teleporting a continent from his homeworld of Mongo into the Pacific Ocean, thereby unleashing its monstrous beasts into our seas and causing catastrophic tidal waves to devastate our naval defenses! It’s up to Flash Gordon, the fearless daredevil who has unraveled the tyrant’s previous schemes at every turn, to once again rally his friends in defense of the Earth. Join intrepid reporter Dale Arden, eccentric scientist Dr. Zarkov, Mandrake the Magician, two iterations of The Phantom, Jungle Jim, and the timelost hero Prince Valiant in the wildest adventure on this or any world!

FOG OVER TOLBIAC BRIDGE

Writer, Artist: Jacques Tardi
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $19.99

Fog Over Tolbiac Bridge is the first of four major graphic novels adapted by Tardi from the legendary French crime writer Léo Malet’s original “Nestor Burma” novels. Tardi’s stylish use of mechanical gray tones provides the book with a lovely period feel which, combined with Tardi’s usual obsessive visual research, gives it a uniquely personal, authentic quality. Tardi’s adaptation is a cracking good detective yarn and a milestone in comics history.

MAKING SCENTS

Writer: Arthur Yorinks
Artist: Braden LamShelli Paroline
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $15.99

Mickey isn’t like his brothers and sisters. They’re stronger, faster, and they’re definitely better when it comes to smelling. You see, Mickey’s parents are dog nuts, and his “brothers and sisters” are their prize bloodhounds. Mickey eventually learns how to sniff out a trail as good as his siblings, and his parents have never been prouder. Life can’t get much better, but it’s about to get much worse. When a tragic accident leaves Mickey an orphan, he must leave his dog family behind to live with an aunt and uncle he’s never met before. Even worse, they hate dogs and kids.

MOTRO
Volume 1

Writer: Ulises Farinas, Erick Freitas
Artist: Ulises Farinas
Publisher: Oni Press
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $9.99

A reclusive young boy with superhuman strength tries to live up to the expectations of his dead father in a fantastic world of mechs and monsters. What will it take to fulfill his destiny? From illustrator and intricate world-builder Ulises Fariñas (IDW’s Judge Dredd), comes the first chronicle of the life and legend of a fantasy hero for the ages.

NIGHTS DOMINiON
Volume 1

Writer, Artist: Ted Naifeh
Publisher: Oni Press
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $9.99

A thief, an assassin, a mage and a cleric walk into a tavern in the ancient city of Umber. Awaiting them is a mysterious bard with a dangerous scheme: to break into the dungeon of a powerful death cult in search of treasure. For these five desperate criminals, it’s the last chance for hope in a city of corruption and despair.  But what they find instead is an undead army preparing to conquer the world. Now, they must fight to protect the city that pushed their backs to the wall or watch it burn. The acclaimed fantasy epic from New York Times Best-Selling author Ted Naifeh (Courtney Crumrin, Princess Ugg) begins here!

MOTOR CRUSH
Volume 1

Writers: Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr
Artists: Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr
Publisher: Image
Release Date: June 14, 2017
Retail Price: 9.99

The team behind the critically acclaimed revamp of Batgirl returns with an exciting sci-fi action-adventure series! By day, Domino Swift competes for fame & fortune in a worldwide motorcycle racing league. By night, she cracks heads of rival gangs in brutal bike wars to gain possession of a rare, valuable contraband: an engine-boosting “machine narcotic” known as Crush. Collects MOTOR CRUSH #1-5

CURSE WORDS
Volume 1

Writer: Charles Soule Artist: Ryan Browne
Publisher: Image
Release Date: June 19, 2017
Retail Price: 9.99

A wizard has appeared in present-day New York! His name is Wizord, and he’s here to save us all from dark magical forces bent on our destruction.
He’s the best wizard of all time! Or…he’s not, and he’s lying to everyone, and secretly is the dark magical force, but wants to hang out in our world for a while because it’s so much nicer than the hellhole he comes from. Secrets, and spells, and talking koalas-CURSE WORDS is a gonzo dark fantasy from CHARLES SOULE (Daredevil, Letter 44, Star Wars) and RYAN BROWNE (GOD HATES ASTRONAUTS). Collects CURSE WORDS #1-5

THE BACKSTAGERS
Volume 1

 Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Rian Sygh
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Release Date: July 19, 2017
Retail Price: $14.99

James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, The Woods) teams up with artist Rian Sygh (Munchkin, Stolen Forest) for an incredibly earnest story that explores what it means to find a place to fit in when you’re kinda an outcast. When Jory transfers to an all-boys private high school, he’s taken in by the lowly stage crew known as the Backstagers. Hunter, Aziz, Sasha, and Beckett become his new best friends and introduce him to an entire magical world that lives beyond the curtain that the rest of the school doesn’t know about, filled with strange creatures, changing hallways, and a decades-old legend of a backstage crew that went missing and was never found. Collects the first four issues.

CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE
Volume 1

Writer: Gerard Way, Jonathan Rivera, Tom Scioli
Artist: Tom Scioli, Michael Avon Oeming
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: June 28, 2017
Retail Price: $19.99

Cave Carson has done it all: survived countless adventures below the Earth’s surface, met the love of his life, and gotten a cybernetic eye…somehow. Now, newly widowed, Cave tries to piece his life back together when a knock on the door of his secret underground lab pulls him back into a past that he and Eileen thought they had left buried deep within the Earth.In these tales from issues #1-6, Cave must determine if his recent hallucinations are the work of his mind or his mysterious cybernetic eye. (Spoiler: It’s the eye).

That’s all for now. We plan on listing more up for the later half of summer. In the meantime, if anything here catches your interest and you enjoyed…we would love to hear from you. Or, if we missed out on something just coming out, also let us know!

Comic Reading Recommendation: The Flintstones: Volume 1

The Flintstones: Volume 1

  • Writer: Mark Russell Artist: Steve Pugh
  • Published by: DC Comics     Publish Date: March 28, 2017
  • Notes: Collects the original monthly issues of The Flintstones mini-series #1-6.

Synopsis:

“Fred and Barney reunite for Mark Russell’s modern take on Hanna-Barbera’s most famous stone-age family! This new series starring the first family of Bedrock (and civilization, really) tells the story of who we are and why we do what we do as if it all began with Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty, and the rest of the citizens of Bedrock. Shining a light on humanity’s ancient customs and institutions in a funny origin story of human civilization, Mark Russell (PREZ) blends modern interpretations with Hanna-Barbera’s classic character’s, bringing a breath of fresh stone-age air.”

Personal Review:

The Flintstones, as well as other Hanna-Barbera properties that aren’t Scooby-Doo, are one of many properties to fall into nostalgic obscurity, almost at a love-it or hate-it caliber. Personally, I’m closer to the negative end of the spectrum – simply remembering the show as a Honeymooners knock-off with rock puns. I was skeptical of Mark Russell’s reprisal, but quickly found myself pleasantly surprised.

Despite its stone-age setting, Flintstones is a raucous parody of modern culture: from religion to capitalism, nothing is safe. Additionally, key parts of the original reference material are revived with considerable weight and significance. Nothing breaks your heart more to learn that Fred’s iconic “Yabba-dabba-doo” was really a silly phrase taught in his veteran’s therapy group as something to say when things are just too hard to handle. Even the furniture – known to readers as Vacuum Cleaner and Bowling Ball – have an arc that could easily bring a tear to the reader’s eye.

The artwork is consistently vibrant and playful despite dreary topics. Additionally, there are plenty of hidden jokes and references scattered throughout the pages – a veritable Where’s Waldo of rock puns. (Much like the show, but less obnoxious.) On the other hand, I felt that Steve Pugh’s art style isn’t entirely all that definable; it does the job, but fails to pop.     

The largest issue with the series is, well, why The Flintstones? With the amount of liberties at hand, it’s hardly comparable to the source material, apart from sharing character names and basic relationships. Arguably, the intent could be a warning towards how history repeats itself: people then were dealing with what we’re dealing with now, just a little differently. A warning wrapped in a cuddly blanket of nostalgia and familiarity. This being said, is it a story of listless futility or of hope in the human condition? From the heartfelt family dynamic, I lean towards the latter.   

SW Best Comic Book Reads of 2016!

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2016, another great year for the comic book and graphic novel industry.

Also, a new era for big changes and shakeups. The big Marvel and DC publishers went back to revamping their flagship superhero titles, again. Image strengthened the creator-owned market with a plethora of well-received new and continuing titles. IDW, Dark Horse and Boom! held strong with their licensed properties, but also brought some creative driven original content to the shelves. Aftershock proved itself as an underrated new dog, with a number of good books that deserve more appreciation. And, there were surprises from other companies, old and new.

Here below, are the best of what I enjoyed in 2016, according to what I had time for and caught my interest across the comic stores, digital fronts, and my local library. For each title, consider just the work done in 2016. The list was very last-minute, so very sorry I could not display detailed reasoning for each. Just see for yourself, should you come across any of these wonderful titles!

BEST NEW SERIES of 2016

Black Hammer (Dark Horse) by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart

The Flintstones (DC) by Mark Russell, Steve Pugh

Animosity (Aftershock), by Marguerite Bennett, Rafeal De Latorre

BEST LIMITED SERIES of 2016

Vision (Marvel) by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Superman: American Alien (DC) by Max Landis,, various artists

Divinity II (Valiant) by Matt Kindt, Trevor Hairsine

BEST ONGOING STORY EPICs of 2016

Saga (Image) by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

I Hate Fairyland (Image) by Skottie Young, Jean-Francois Beaulieu

Paper Girls (Image) by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang

BEST CREATIVE USE OF SEQUENTIAL LAYOUTS in 2016

ODY – C (Image) by Matt fraction, Christian Ward

Lady Mechanika: La Dama De Las Muerte (Benitez Productions) By Joe Benitez, M.M Chen

Shipwreck (Aftershock) by Eric Gapstur, Mark Englert, Marshall Dillon

BEST USE OF COLOR in 2016

Paper Girls (Image) by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang

Night’s Dominion (Oni Press), by Ted Naifeh

Bandette (Monkeybrain) by Paul Tobin, Collen Coover

BEST UNSETTLING HORROR SERIES of 2016

InseXts (Aftershock) by Marguerite Bennett, Ariela Kristantina

Demonic (Image) by Christopher Sebela, Niko Walter, Dan Brown

Glitterbomb (Image) by Jim Zub, Djibril Morisette-Phan, Michael Russel

BEST DRAMATIC STORYTELLING of 2016

Animosity (Aftershock), by Marguerite Bennett, Rafeal De Latorre

Vision (Marvel) by Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Tales from the Darkside (IDW) by Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez

BEST PARTLY HISTORICAL-BASED FICTION in 2016

Lake of Fire (Image) by Nathan Fairebairn, Matt Smith

Britannia (Valiant) By Peter Milligan, Juan Jose Ryp

Rough Riders (Aftershock) byAdam Glass, Patrick Olliffe

BEST FANTASY SERIES in 2016

Monstress (Image) by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda

Hillbilly (Albatross) by Eric Powell

Seven to Eternity (Image) by Rick Remender & Jerome Opena

BEST STRANGE NEW WORLDS and IDEAS in 2016

Ether (Dark Horse) by Matt Kindt, David Rubin

The Electric Sublime (IDW) by W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Morazzo

Saga (Image) by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staple

BEST USE OF SCIENCE FICTION ELEMENTS in 2016

Hadrian’s Wall (Image) by Kyle Higgens, Alec Siegel, Rod Reis

Faster than Light (Image), by Brian Haberlin

Ancestor (Image) by Matt Sheean, Malachi Ward

BEST SINGLE ISSUE COVER ART in 2016

Saga (Image) by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples (Covers by Fiona Staples)

Scarlet Witch (Marvel) by James Robinson,  Marguerite Sauvage (Covers by David Aja)

Black Hammer (Dark Horse) by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart (covers by Dean Ormston)

BEST CREATIVE USE OF POP-CULTURE ICONS in 2016

Scooby Apocalypse (DC) by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Howard Porter

Klaus (Boom! Studios), by Grant Morrison, Dan Mora

The Flintstones (DC) by Mark Russell, Steve Pugh

BEST FULL-LENGTH GRAPHIC NOVEL STORIES of 2016

Dark Knight: a True Batman Story (DC) by Paul Dini, Eduardo Risso

Mooncop (Drawn and Quarterly) by Tom Gauld

Ghosts (Scholastic), by Raina Telgemeier

BEST REPRINTING OF COMICS HISTORY in 2016

The Don Rosa Library Collection (Fantagraphics) – Volume 4-6

Moebius Libary: The World of Edena (Dark Horse)

Turn Loose Our Death Rays and Kill Them All! The Complete Works of Fletcher Hanks (Fantagraphics)

That’s all for now. Thanks for checking out my list. I would love to read your thoughts on my pics or suggest some of your own, in the comments below.

Orion T

 

Hardcover Comics, Graphic Novel Holiday Gift Guide 2016

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Tis the holiday season, to give something new for the sequential art lover you know…

Below, are my hardcover comic book volume and graphic novel suggestions. Why such things for gifts? Because, the hardcover format gives a lasting quality, and adds a bit of deserving specialness to it. The sequential art form within can hold deeper, longer lasting appreciation to those holding a hardbound shell, when prominent on their home bookshelf or coffee table.

So, these picks below are hand-picked favorites by us, having read and enjoyed each one. Each pick is likely available through local comic and retail bookstores. Ordering online is good too, but part of the fun for the holidays is also visiting local shops while humming Christmas tunes. So, print or write these out, and don’t forget the wrapping paper!

SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN

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  • Writer / Artist: Max Landis / Various Artists
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: October, 2016
  • Pages: 224 Price: 24.99 ISBN: 978-1401262563

“Screenwriter and Eisner Award nominee Max Landis (Chronicle, American Ultra, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN) presents the seven-issue miniseries that chronicles Clark Kent’s development into the archetypal hero he will eventually become. With the tone of each issue ranging from heartwarming and simple, to frighteningly gritty and violent, to sexy, sun-kissed and funny, SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN is unlike anything you’ve seen before. This new hardcover includes special bonus features.”

Get this for: Superman fans of any age, short story readers, those who like a little art variety, fun-loving campy readers, fans of the Flash TV show (also Smallville.)

ALEX + ADA: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION DELUXE EDITON HC

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  • Writer / Artist: Jonathan Luna, Sarah Vaughan / Jonathan Luna
  • Publisher: Image Comics
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: November, 2016
  • Pages: 376 Price: 49.99 ISBN: 978-1632158697
  • Age Range: 16 and Up

“Working closely with Moebius Production in France, Dark Horse puts the work of a master storyteller back in print—with some material in English for the first time! Stel and Atan are intFrom JONATHAN LUNA (THE SWORD, GIRLS, Spider-Woman: Origin) and SARAH VAUGHN (Sparkshooter, Ruined) comes ALEX + ADA, a sci-fi drama set in the near future. The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids, but after Ada is dropped into his life, he discovers she is more than just a robot and takes a huge risk to unlock Ada so she can think for herself and explore life as a sentient android. Can they survive the consequences? This oversized hardcover collects issues #1-15”

Get this for: Science fiction drama fans, android lovers, Black Mirror fans, futurists

MOEBIUS LIBRARY: THE WORLD OF EDENA

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  • Writer / Artist: Moebius
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: October, 2016
  • Pages: 360 Price: 49.95 ISBN: 978-1-50670-216-2
  • Age Range: 16 and Up

“Working closely with Moebius Production in France, Dark Horse puts the work of a master storyteller back in print—with some material in English for the first time! Stel and Atan are interstellar repairmen trying to find a lost space station and its crew. What they discover about the universe and themselves on the mythical paradise planet Edena, though, changes their lives forever. Moebius’s long-out-of-print World of Edena story arc gets a deluxe hardcover treatment, with its five main chapters—Upon a Star, Gardens of Edena, The Goddess, Stel, and Sra—collected here!”

Get this for: Fans of Moebius art, fans of classic Heavy Metal magazine and similar art of the late 1970s, early 1980s style, imagination lovers, science fiction fans

RIC AND MORTY BOOK 1

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  • Writer / Artist: Zac Gorman / various artists
  • Publisher: Oni Press
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: December, 2016
  • Pages: 296 Price: 49.99 ISBN: 978-1620103609
  • Age Range: Older Teen and up

“The hit comic book series based on Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland’s hilarious [adult swim] animated show RICK & MORTY is now available in its first deluxe hardcover collection! Join the excitement as depraved genius Rick Sanchez embarks on insane adventures with his awkward grandson Morty across the universe and across time. Caught in the crossfire are his teenage granddaughter Summer, his veterinary surgeon daughter Beth, and his hapless son-in-law Jerry. This collection features the first ten issues of the comic book series, including ““The Wubba Lubba Dub Dub of Wall Street,” “Mort-Balls!,” “Ball Fondlers Special,” and more, along with hilarious mini-comics showcasing the whole family. This special hardcover edition also includes an exclusive sound clip of Rick and Morty and all the cover art from the first ten issues of the comic book series!”

Get this for: Ric and Morty fans, of course. Also, those who like to laugh and not take a lot of things too seriously.

BRIEF HISTORIES OF EVERYDAY OBJECTS

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  • Writer / Artist: Andy Warner
  • Publisher: Picador (Imprint of Macmillan)
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: October, 2016
  • Pages: 224 Price: 20.00 ISBN: 9781250078650

“Brief Histories of Everyday Objects is a graphic tour through the unusual creation of some of the mundane items that surround us in our daily lives. Chapters are peppered with ballpoint pen riots, cowboy wars, and really bad Victorian practical jokes. Structured around the different locations in our home and daily life—the kitchen, the bathroom, the office, and the grocery store—award-nominated illustrator Andy Warner traces the often surprising and sometimes complex histories behind the items we often take for granted. Readers learn how Velcro was created after a Swiss engineer took his dog for a walk; how a naval engineer invented the Slinky; a German housewife, the coffee filter; and a radical feminist and anti-capitalist, the game Monopoly. This is both a book of histories and a book about histories. It explores how lies become legends, trade routes spring up, and empires rise and fall—all from the perspective of your toothbrush or toilet.”

Get this for: History and obscure trivia lovers. Those who engage in silly small talk. Those who need a new coffee table book. Anyone who likes to laugh and learn.

KLAUS

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  • Writer / Artist: Andy Warner, Dan Mora
  • Publisher: BOOM! Studios
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: November, 2016
  • Pages: 208 Price: 34.99 ISBN: 9781608869039

“Who is Santa Claus? Meet the man before he became a myth.He’s a myth. He’s a legend. He’s loved worldwide by children and adults alike . . . but does anyone truly know the origins of Santa Claus? Set in a dark fantastic past of myth and magic, Klaus tells the origin story of Santa Claus. It’s the tale of one man and his wolf against a totalitarian state and the ancient evil that sustains it. Award-winning author Grant Morrison (All-Star Superman, The Multiversity) and artist Dan Mora (Hexed) revamp, reinvent, and re-imagine a classic superhero for the 21st century, drawing on Santa’s roots in Viking lore and Siberian shamanism, and taking in the creepier side of Christmas with characters like the sinister Krampus. Klaus finally answers the burning question: what does Santa Claus do on the other 364 days a year?.”

Get this for: Grant Morrison fans, Santa Claus, Krampus fans, dark humor lovers, those who enjoy a mix of clever writing but not take it too seriously.

TURN LOOSE OUR DEATH RAYS AND KILL THEM ALL!: THE COMPLETE WORKS OF FLETCHER HANKS

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  • Writer / Artist: Fletcher Hanks
  • Publisher: Fantagrahics
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: December, 2016
  • Pages: 376 Price: 49.95 ISBN: 978-1606999677

“Fletcher Hanks was the first great comic book auteur: he wrote, penciled, inked, and lettered all of his own stories. He completed approximately 50 stories between 1939-1941, all unified by a unique artistic vision. Whether it’s the superhero Stardust doling out ice cold slabs of poetic justice, or the jungle protectress Fantomah tearing evildoers from limb to ragged limb, contemporary readers are stunned by the pop surrealism and outright violent mayhem of Hanks’ work. Originally featured in two paperback volumes, this deluxe hardcover collects―for the first time―all of Hanks’ previously published material, plus several gems newly discovered for this volume, making this the very first complete collection of the works of Fletcher Hanks. Full-color illustrations throughout.”

Note: Comics history buffs, vintage pulp lovers, classic Golden Age art fans.

THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL BEATS UP THE MARVEL UNIVERSE

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  • Writer / Artist: Ryan North / Erica Henderson
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: October, 2016
  • Pages: 120 Price: 24.99 ISBN: 978-1302903039

“Proof that we’re living in the best of all possible worlds: THERE’S GONNA BE A SQUIRREL GIRL GRAPHIC NOVEL! It’s a stand-alone adventure that’s both great for new Squirrel Girl readers, and also for people who ALREADY know about how she can talk to squirrels and also punch really well! Behold: a story so HUGE it demanded a graphic novel! A story so NUTS that it incorporates BOTH senses of that word (insanity AND the weird hard fruit thingies) (they’re fruits, did you know that?) (I didn’t until I looked them up just now, so looks like we’re all learning science from this solicit text for a comic book!) Squirrel Girl has defeated Thanos, Galactus, and Doctor Doom. TWICE. But in this all-new graphic novel, she’ll encounter her most dangerous, most powerful, most unbeatable enemy yet: HERSELF. Specifically, an evil duplicate made possible through mad science (both computer and regular) as well as some Bad Decisions. In other words, SQUIRREL GIRL BEATS UP THE MARVEL UNIVERSE! YES. I CAN’T WAIT, AND I’M THE GUY WRITING IT..”

Get this for: Marvel fans, squirrel lovers, Deadpool fans, fun people.

ODY-C: CYCLE 1 HC

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  • Writer / Artist: Matt Fraction / Christian Ward
  • Format: Hardcover Publication Date: December, 2016
  • Pages: 400 Price: 49.99 ISBN: 978-1632159274

“ODY-C, modeled after Homer’s Odyssey, is a psychedelic, gender-broke science-fiction epic that tells the story of three legendary warrior-queens, Odyssia, Ene and Gamem, returning home after a centuries-long battle. Told in verse with a visual sensibility that redefines the very possibilities of the comics medium, this gloriously oversized hardcover also has exclusive bonus materials including essays by classicist Dani Colman, teaching aids, and a massive 10-page fold-out previously only available in the sold-out first issue.”

Note: Science fiction fans, epic story seekers, Greek epic tales connoisseurs, psychedelic art lovers, fans of the 5th Element.

That’s all for now. If you have any added suggestions or notes to add, please share in the comments below!

– Orion T

A Stranger Look towards Black Mirror: Season Three

  • Created by: Charlie Brooker
  • Executive Producers: Charlie Brooker and Annibel Jones
  • Genre: Science Fiction, Satire
  • Production Company: Zeppotron
  • Distributor:  Endemol UK
  • Time: 43 to 75 minutes

Synopsis:

“A television anthology series that shows the dark side of life and technology.”

The current series sits at two seasons adding up to a total of six episodes and a Holiday special. A third season will première on October 21, 2016.

A look back (Spoilers)

Having been described as a modern-day take on Twilight Zone, Black Mirror presents a new storyline coupled with new characters every episode, all presenting the theme of technology and postmodern life. Despite the role of technology so heavily driving the plot, it is not an overpowering presence; allowing it to frame the progression, and not lead it. Black Mirror features plot progression through interaction, not focusing mainly on plot devices. This way, the events seem more real, and relatable than a typically jam-packed action plot of the typical American sci-fi.

Illustrated through a new plot every episode, Black Mirror takes a psychological approach to the topic at hand, allowing the viewer into the mind and thought process of the characters in question. It allows a deeper connection and understanding, granting more relatability to the character than through thoughts and actions alone.

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Dark, emotional, intriguing, and mysterious, this show leaves the viewer questioning almost to the end about what will happen. Through out each episode, I analyzed the plot and created predictions, expecting the storyline to follow accordingly; but every single time, I was wrong. Following the plot, the change is so smooth that the initial hitting factor is not out there and ridiculous but slow enough to a real and understandable shock.

Much like The Twilight Zone, the viewer delves into a fully developed and thriving world, left to observe and create conclusions based on what is in front of them. This world, much like our own, has distinct differences and an order that which all characters follow accordingly. From rice-sized memory recording chips to the ability to fully block a person in your physical life, each technological advantage frames but does not lead the storyline. In drastic contrast to other sci-fi series of similar nature, the technology does not absorb the narrative. Apart from a few differences, most of the world is recognizable, leaving all other aspects unchanged.

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Through out each episode, the storyline focuses on the characters involved, highlighting their relationships, interests, occupations, mindsets, and overall characteristics to create a personal and intimate understanding of them. In no way is it difficult for the viewers to place themselves in the character’s shoes, looking at the topic at hand through their eyes. I do not believe there was a single character that I could not empathize with, the connection so strong that all motives were understood.

Black Mirror does a wonderful job on manipulating viewer emotions, not only through that deep connection but through setting. The series is no stranger to using lighting or music to its advantage. In the second episode of season one, one of the main characters uses a song for an audition, ultimately disappearing and never being seen again. To hear those lyrics being sung five episodes later brought back those initial emotions, flooding me the sorrow and fondness I had initially felt.

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Personal Thoughts (Spoilers): 

Black Mirror can easily be described as one of my new favorite shows. Upon watching the first and second episode, I fell in love with the characters, storyline, and general theme coupling its execution; all in all creating an experience that I had not witnessed with any other show. Black Mirror prides itself on taking the topic at hand and breaking it down into smaller segments, covering each part in such a way that even the tiniest details are shown in depth.

Through out the six episodes and holiday special of season one and two, my favorite episodes would have to be episode one and two of season one. The thought and emotion put into these plots really grabbed me, leaving my eyes glued to the screen until the very end. With the goal of grabbing and pulling a viewer and their interest in, I would hands down say that Charlie Brooker did a wonderful job.

Episode one, The National Anthem, presented many different takes on one situation: the kidnapping and holding of Princess Susannah, the Duchess of Beaumont. Through out the narrative, the situation highlights the lack of privacy and opens conflict in a modern world. In 12 hours, news had spread from a youtube video left up for seven minutes, to a global knowledge. With the kidnappers making the ransom video publicly known, it allows the information to be open to anyone, not allowing the politicians to keep it hidden and discreet. Par the request of the kidnappers, the Prime Minister must perform unsavory actions with a pig, promising the Duchess’s safe return if all conditions are appropriately met. On top of the struggle to save Princess Susannah, a moral and emotional dilemma is added to the mixture by means of the Prime Minister.

To have such a curious and far fetched idea be the first episode of a new series, the viewer cannot help but be drawn in from the questions that surrounds the topic. How will they attempt a safe return? What steps does the government take to go around such a vulgar demand? To what further extent do the kidnappers go to ensure they get their demands met? And finally, what is the ultimate decision of the Prime Minister?

Upcoming: 

As of late 2015, the movie streaming company Netflix has now commissioned the creator for a third season, originally consisting of 12 episodes. Currently, Black Mirror is set for its Season Three of six episodes. Perhaps a fourth will follow with the same amount will follow.

Thoughts for Season Three:

Based on the trailer alone, I do have high hopes for this season, wishing that it will fit those shoes season one and two had filled. The presence of technology in everyday relations seems to flow over, but the sci-fi aspects and societal changes appear to be one of the ultimate differences. Whereas the original allowed the world and its holdings to remain unchanged, the snip-it suggests that everything has changed following the advances of technology. The tone and drama are still there, themes appearing to highlight smaller aspects of a larger problem.

Initially, I was very excited for a third season. The two previous captured me, holding my attention tightly and not letting go until it was over and there was no more. In short, I wanted more. According to my personal bias, I am always against sequels, feeling that the original fit the picture the best; but in this instance, that bias was completely thrown away. Following the brevity of the past two seasons, I felt that a third one would fit along perfectly. To now hear that this third season’s creation is through a separate vendor, I find myself uneasy.

While Netflix has done a wondrous job with titles in the past, I fear that it will not have the same tone and success as the original did at captivating an audience. I fear that while it will hold the same name, the emotion and message will be lacking now that the episodes are not so far, far, and artfully crafted. It is a commissioned work, however, so it can be assumed that the same themes and aspects that we all know and love about the original will carry over.

At the end of the day, I hope for the best. Just like all other fans, I await anxiously for another installment.

 

-Katherine A 

SW Comics Recommendation: PREZ, Vol. 1: Corndog in Chief

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Prez – Vol. 1: Corndog in Chief

  • Writer: Mark Russell
  • Artist: Ben Caldwell , Mark Morales
  • Published by: DC Comics
  • Pages: 161, Publish Date: February 9 2016, Age Rating: 12+
  • Notes: Collects 1-6 of the monthly series started in 2015, and seemingly discontinued. Available in print and DC digital apps

Synopsis:

“America’s first teenaged president is on the job in this contemporary twist on a DC classic! Oregon teen Beth Ross has just been elected President of the United States of America. Age restrictions were abolished when corporations gained the right to run for office and voting booths have been replaced by Twitter, making just about anyone eligible for the nation’s top job, including the viral-video-famous Corndog Girl! Now the eyes of the nation are on Beth. But in a world so out of control that the poor are willing to shoot themselves on TV for a chance at a better life, will even the new president have the power needed to overthrow the nation’s true leaders-Boss Smiley and his corporate shadow government?

Writer Mark Russell (God Is Disappointed in You) teams with artists Ben Caldwell (JUSTICE LEAGUE BEYOND) and Mark Morales (X-Force, Secret Invasion) to revive and reinvent a classic! Collects PREZ #1-6 and SNEAK PEEK: PREZ #1.”

Personal Thoughts (minor spoilers):

There is a lacking of something I from today’s comics storytelling, missing from the overall scope of costumed melodramas, laser guided dystopias, rebirthings, cosmic angst, and the usual civil disagreements. I don’t see much satire, hitting hard on familiar modern issues without pandering to any particular political mindset. I feel a popular mindset upon those who dare try, tend to focus upon the obvious disturbances of dystopia building, whether it’s privacy or the unending reach of the data-mugging social networkings.

But, along comes this new (and I think cancelled too soon) comic series based on an obscure short-lived series from the 1970s, Prez. The new series stands alone with little to do with the original other than the premise of a teenager president. The overall setting nor is a somewhat mix of the present, the coming present, and the far more reaching (yet less far-fetching with the absurdity of today’s headlines) style of the movie Idiocracy.  Prez invokes thought, while holding a fun house mirror to our current American views and changing ways of life. Such thought is not necessarily too serious or overlay pretentious; just brilliant in the execution that brings the reader into a strange new world of border guarding mechs and holographic politicians.

The premise of Prez one would assume is simple for the simple-minded, probably dumbed down it was for a movie, or passed off as a junior reader book. Beth Ross is a sort of victim of chance as her accidental online fame on Twitter, brought upon by a fast food accident. While raising money on a Kickstarterish health care program to her suffering grandfather, she finds more fame through and Anonymous 4-chanish prank to propel her into the Oval Office candidacy. As the title destined, Beth is eventually sworn in as Commander-in-Chief. But with that great power, comes great influence from private interests and sinister forces.

Beth Ross is a bit of conundrum in modern storytelling where the main character is not as prime as we would be lead to believe. Like our real presidents, we ponder just what they can change, with the grip on everything around her and then reaching out to her. Her very appearance is a sort of every-person, with a grasp on her own individuality and natural compassion for family and friends. She treats new problems with her own logic and fairness. It is perhaps through the reader’s sense of what’s wrong with her world and ours, is there a connection to her actions and reactions and if they truly can overcome the overreaching process. We can only wish, for there are some consequential developments in her decisions.

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The self-contained world of Prez is one with lunacy and far-fetching absurdity, or is it? Food delivery drones, health-care driven sickstarters, calculated pop-culture, war-machine driven entertainment, game-show immigration, and faceless industrial heads hidden behind images looking to graft their twisted culture and advert imagery unto us. Such things have elements of familiarity in our world, as all great satire should.

The trade paperback is a nice package of the first six issues, the sneak peek prologue story, and some extra goodies at the end providing a little insight and commentary. The art is well defined, with colors that pop-enough to tell the story. I hope there for a continuation someday, though more doubtful as time passes (sigh). Otherwise, still a worthwhile purchase for the content so far.

– Orion T

SW Comics Reading Review: Cursed Pirate Girl, by Jeremy A. Bastian

 Cursed Pirate Girl

Cursed Pirate Girl

  • Writer: Jeremy Bastian
  • Artist: Jeremy Bastian
  • Published by: Archaia
  • Pages: 120, Publish Date: November 18, 2015, Price: $19.99
  • Notes: New Softcover printing Feb 2016, collects the original three issues by Olympian Publishing in 2008-2009. First collected edition released in hardcover 2012.

Synopsis:

“Adventures on and under the high seas lead a cursed pirate girl to encounter mythic creatures, gnarled and crusty pirates, and ghostly apparitions as she tries to find her lost father, one of the dreaded Pirate Captains of the mythical Omerta Seas. A whimsical swashbuckling tale of wonderland journeys and unimaginable dangers, starting in Port Elisabeth, Jamaica in the year 1728, and quickly heading across—and beneath—the waves. The first three issues of Cursed Pirate Girl are collected in this edition with an all-new epilogue..”

Personal Thoughts (minor spoilers):

Cursed Pirate Girl is a definite treasure one could find at your comic store or retail comics hub, and for keeps on any bookshelf.

It’s a book for almost anyone of any age (9 and up suggested) who loves good adventure in graphic storytelling, with danger above the G rated level. Much of it feels carefree and fun, yet maintains balance in dramatism, intrigue. The premise is simple, as we get to know our young female pirate protagonist and the olden century style world she daring dwells in; everything else is not.

Foremost noticed when opening the book, is the amazing black and white artwork and stylish layouts. There is a distinct style of Jeremy Bastian’s art that draws from the best of the late 19th century comics detail combined with creative panel structures and skillful transitions. Supporting characters and villains are very distinct and memorable in their parts to the overall story, as their appearance commands instant familiarity and exposition. The overall environment and situations are exquisitely detailed, for which for being black and white feels as rich a colorful Disney classic. Here is a sample..

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For a mere three chapters and an epilogue, the book gives the readers plenty to amuse on for the story as well as the art. The main character is fantastic as the protagonist as she lives her own best fantasy. She is the Cursed Pirate Girl, in search of her father whose deep motivation in pirating comes from his apparent spirit, though there is more to that. The world around her is dangerous yet beautiful, especially when delving into the mysterious depths of her adventure. There are personal conflicts and external happenings that coincide, where her lifestyle is the best entertainment for those seeking high seas excitement. You’ll find fantastic villains and interesting companions, who border upon the stereotypical roles (parrots, aristocrats, monstrous fathoms, pirates) yet give off more in detail elements and elaborate story exposition.

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There is much else to love about the book, especially the freeform lettering that is as playful as the story itself. Many of the panels pack with astounding details in historical architectural and nautical visuals details. Overall, the presentation does not make for a quick read as the readers must take time to admire the details to fully appreciate. The result is a cool fairy tale with little to bear on actual pirate history, as the lifestyle aspects draw from the fantastical glamorous interpretations ranging from Captain Singleton to Captain Jack Sparrow. Jeremy Bastian then adds much of his own imaginative spin, probably influenced from his own travels and literary tastes.

The new softcover edition s the latest release, reprinting the original three issues and much more. The binding is a sturdier than normal glossy shell, with the higher quality one finds from the Archaia brand of deluxe volumes and graphic novels. The price is a worthwhile $19.99, a grand deal for the treasure within.

– Orion T, captain of the Stranger Worlds exploratory vessel and comic book/storytelling enthusiast. Loved a good comic book read to go with his milk and cookies.