Stranger Reads – Comics Log 2016.10.18, Checking Out..

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Something new, something fresh…

The following below are mostly what I found of interest for last week in new comics. Some of these are fresh enough with me just finding the cover and art enough reason to check out. Others catered to my love for classic icons and history. Were these comics worthwhile reads? Find out below (with minor spoilers).

RECENT COMICS, RELEASED 10/12:

Scooby Doo Team-Up #37 (DC) by Sholly Fisch, Dario Brizuela

“Part one, Zatanna’s father Zatara has gone missing! With the Justice League off on a mission, it’s up to Scooby and the gang to unravel the magical mystery by joining Zatanna to blaze a trail through the spookiest corners of the DC Universe!”

Zatanna is a favorite among the DC Comics magical users, with a most fitting and awesome intro into the world of Scooby Doo.  She meets Mystery Inc. as they try to solve a new mystery. which takes them through the DC magic realms. Many cameos familiar to hardcore DC fans appear, including Doctor Fate, Sargon, Felix Faust and more (though sadly Constantine is only implied but hilariously noted). Overall, a fun issue that gives much fan service, while inviting though story to the potential new young readers to learn of the many classic characters appearing. I hope in the following conclusion and future issues, for more surprise encounters. Most of all, I would much enjoy a team-up encounter for Scooby and the Gang and meet Etrigan the Demon. The possibility is closer than ever thought now and needs to happen.

Britannia #2 (Valiant) by Peter Milligan, Juan Jose Ryp

Duty has led to darkness… Dispatched to the remote outpost of Britannia by Rome’s highest power, the ancient world’s first detective – veteran legionnaire Antonius Axia – has found himself on a horrifying journey that will challenge everything he knows about death, destiny, and the limits of reality itself. But in this wild and pagan land, far removed from Nero’s control and influence, how will he grapple with the witches, demons and deities that lurk just out of sight? These are aberrations beyond the comprehension of a citizen of history’s most civilized empire…and, as Axia searches for the truth behind their making, he must first ask himself: Are these monsters truly creatures of myth… or creations of his own mind?

This is my favorite read from Valiant Comics now. Everything about Britannia is entertaining and interesting.  The world remains a mix of lost folklore with a bit of modern drama and horror mixed in. Antonius plays off more of his detective role (or detectioner), as he uncovers pieces to a greater mystery, which can go anywhere. I find his part as misplaced, yet a constant thrill to the dangers faced in a strange land. Meanwhile, Emperor Nero’s portrayal is every bit as twisted and sick as one could imagine of his hedonistic ways. I hope for more of his part in all this. Overall, the detailed art and brilliant coloring carry the story further, with a style that works best for this dark period of human history. Much results overall with the varied styles of Rome and the British Isle in appearance and mood, leading to a feeling of distance and contrast; where the connection Antonius must make, and keeps the overall story interesting and worthwhile.

 

Reborn #1 (Image) by Mark Miller, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion

“Where do you go when you die? Not heaven or hell; somewhere else. Somewhere you have to fight to survive. Somewhere the people from the past are waiting for you—the good and the bad.”

An interesting premise, though the set-up takes patience in establishing back character details to get through. Still, there is no end to the fantasies and mysteries of the afterlife, of which is interesting for new ideas. Such here is not among the freshest of notions, though being put in some fantasy war is an exciting one. Otherwise, the entirety of the first chapter sets the stage, giving us plenty of background of our main character before the situation. The art style and visual concepts are simple, with nothing too complex or inventive just yet. I hope there is much more to it all, other than the simple fantasy of a more exciting afterlife. I am intrigued enough to see where this all goes.

Darth Vader #25 (Marvel) by Keirron Gillen, Salvador Larroca

It has all built up to this! Vader’s trials against Cylo’s creations! His machinations against the Emperor! His covert missions with Doctor Aphra and her murderous droids! All comes to fruition “in an ending you can’t miss!”

A fitting wrap-up to an excellent run of the current Marvel era. Our most famed Sith Lord spends much of this final chapter wrapping up loose ends, cutting out rivalries and making with boss Palpatine. More important to fans of the series is the last settlement of his bond with Aphra, to where the situation is bittersweet and final (or is it?). We know the Star Wars universe shall never die, but for Darth Vader, I think this is the definitive tale of his character for any expanded universe set-up. The result is good, and about time for the end. I am pleased.

The Electric Sublime #1 (IDW) by  W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Morazzo

“Art is anything you can get away with… destroy it all.” Welcome to THE ELECTRIC SUBLIME—where art history, madness, and expression meet in a Pollock-splatter of thrilling crime adventure! When a mysterious change in the composition of a famous painting begins poisoning the minds of its spectators, Margot Breslin—director of the Bureau of Artistic Integrity—must pull famed “art detective” Arthur Brut out of a mental institution and back into the insanity that sent him there in the first place. Featuring a treasure trove of classical works, under-the-radar art, and a seven-foot talking mannequin, this is comics, imitating art, imitating life.”

An interesting new series I feel, with much mystery and intrigue. Yet, there are questions in direction and characters. I love the set-up, to where question reality and the situation itself. To where it all goes is interesting as the work of art in plays, and open to interpretation on its direction. The winking Mona Lisa is very creepy. Such the overall story feels original, yet needing more. With the fantastic art to match, I can see much potential overall for this series. But too early to foresee this being a new masterpiece. The ending has me wanting answers, for I feel there is much potential for this as the next big standalone suspense thriller from IDW comics.

Mosaic #1 (Marvel) by Geoffrey Thorne, Khary Randolph

“Professional basketball player and world-renowned celebrity, Morris Sackett, gains extraordinary abilities, at the grave cost of his own mortal body. Imbued with the ability to jump from person to person like a ghost, he controls the bodies and memories of those he inhabits. With his own body destroyed, the one-time superstar athlete must rely on others to survive. The saga of the newest Marvel Inhuman MOSAIC begins here!”

The art is super cool, and the story feels fresh for Marvel, especially when there is much pushing its cinematic properties out there. I also find Mosaic as refreshing in bringing a brand new character to the Marvel line, with no ties to any popular icon. Yet, the story and art feel incredibly enclosed, apart from the Marvel Universe. Knowing of a connection with the Inhumans, such is only a matter of probably short time before we start getting appearances by familiar Marvel characters. Given the style of writing and art, I wish this more of an indie book, giving itself a more honest approach and not Marvel reaching out to a new demographic, reader of which I feel some of the attempt at work here.  Much of the press for this is off-putting, putting way to much emphasis of Marvel adding a new black character to the mix. Nothing wrong with such, but I would rather see him as a new superhero first, not as a trophy for the sake of diversity. That being said, the main character seems very thrown into the overall situation, jumping into other bodies and feeling trapped. Such would feel more of a curse than a superpower. Yet there is that responsibility to do good, a cornerstone of what makes a true Marvel superhero great. I like the concept, yet could better itself as more separate from the current Marvel Universe.

That’s all until next time. Did we miss any worthwhile reads on the latest shelves?  Do you have further thoughts on the books covered here? Leave a comment below!

Orion T – SW chief writer and seeker of great comic books and all related wonderful things. 

 

San Diego Comic Con in Pictures and Notes – Part 2

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(continued from Part 1)

Take a closer look at the great San Diego Comic Con, and you will see more of its heart and soul within the booth displays. Within the Exhibit Hall, are the people and subjects that make such the event long worth going to, before the glam of celebs and pricy exclusives.

Below are my notes on why, and what has changed for this year. Let’s go for a walk…

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The Marvel Comics Booth, constantly crowded with heavy push for the Marvel Cinematic Universe  movies. Aside from freebies, I didnt notice much of the monthly comics being promoted. I think there is another reboot of sorts called Marvel Now, which I have withheld my excitement for. The strength of Marvel Comics at retail racks has been with well-written books including Marvel Girl, Moon Girl, Vision, Totally Awesome Hulk. I wish it was more that, and not the movies.

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The Nickelodeon always puts much thought in their booth designs. This year showed expression, with throwbacks to the their golden 90’s era.

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So much nostalgia, so much love…Legends of the Hidden Temple, Ren and Stmpy, Rocko, Rugrats never die!

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In the corner, vinyl and designer figures still make their impression on collectors. I see their stands rising in size, and exclusives for attendees to hunt down. Funko still being the most massive and ridiculous.. Here, I know not of the company, but love the giant Kobe and Astro Boy.

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The Lego booth never disappoints with their display craft. I wonder how many blocks it took for Captain America to make his stand here.

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And Wonder Woman!

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Meanwhile late night talk show host Conan O’Brien was quite the strange self promoting icon. I feel conflicted about this odd presence here at the con. I think from watching, he could be one of us..but not so much as it’s just he’s becoming a pop-culture icon as well, complete with exclusive con collectibles also at the show.

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Booth signings are a bigger deal with year, with studios giving the fans a chance to meet entire casts, with the luck of a raffle hours before. Here, the cast of Supergirl greets a long and very eager line.

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One booth shows off some rare and cool Japanese import figures.

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The Symbiote Studios stand I think is a newcomer to the designer figure corner of the Exhibit Hall, or at least new to me.

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Another booth, I did not get info on. But they sell cosplay clothes for pets, I think..

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The typical awesomeness of the Artist Alley section, where the small booths are just as grand as the huge companies ones. Here you need no lottery ticket to meet the extraordinary people who also make a substantial impact on the fandom.

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Of the Artist Alley and Small Press areas, some creatives have much fun and leave a memorable impression. Here is artist Joe Phillips (I think on the left) promoting his new comic, a Midsummer’s Knight..a fantastical take on the Shakespeare classic.

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The Hasbro booth barely changes every year, but always nice to see the latest in new Transformers toys that appeal to my nostalgic soul, like the new Fortress Maximus on display.

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The Ugly Dolls booth cheers me again with its huggable plush monsters..

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The Dark Horse booth stands proud and tall once again, with much on the new reads and the better array of guest artists and writer signings..

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An overhead shot of the comics area, which with little emphasis on exclusives or swag, has a less claustrophobic crowd. That is until, Sunday where less panels happen and last-minute shopping kicks in..

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The Sideshow Collectibles booth, a constant at the SDCC for many years, where high-end figurines are showcased and presented for attendees to at least appreciate.

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Back at the Dark Horse booth, an awesome mural behind the booth showcasing its 30 year history. Cheers to “Building Characters!”

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The DC Comics booth, which I love for still reminding all of its other awesome licenses, including Spy vs. Spy..

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This year at he Star Wars booth, costumes from the upcoming Rogue One movie are on display..a definite treat for the fans attending.

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A favorite booth on recent years at the show, DKE toys; an awesome array of artist designed figures and packages.  Many are on sale, at extremely limited quantities.

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Back at the DC Comics booth, original costumes on display; featuring the new and upcoming Wonder Woman movie, Suicide Squad, and the classic Wonder Woman TV series (with a costume work by Lynda Carter herself!)

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My current favorite comics publisher, Image Comics has the usual awesome booth.

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The Cartoon Network booth, featuring the return of the Power Puff Girls..

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The Super 7 booth, featuring a reissue classics large Alien movie figure.

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The Square Enix booth, though not as visually impressive from afar, got a much larger crowd coming in for a chance to play the upcoming Final Fantasy XV game, and get a very exclusive T-Shirt!

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More artist alley impressions!

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Many booths also showed upcoming products, like the DC Bombshells figurine line at the Diamond comics booth. More, on featured  products in an upcoming post..

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Sometimes, one good draw is all one needs to make a great impression. The Hermes publishing booth brought in Garfield creator, Jim Davis!

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That’s all for part 2, with my personal highlights of the Exhibit Room displays and presentations, with much thanks to the many involved. Come back to strangerworlds.com for part 3, with a zoomed look at the exciting people of Comic Con, with a focus on its creative talent.

– Orion T

Stranger Reads – Comics Log 2016.7.3, Fresh on the Shelves..

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We love our comic books, as many look forward to the latest from the recent Wednesday new shelves, as new single issues are available. Lately, I scoped out some of the latest from frequent reads and with some new freshness added in. Below, are those recent comics highlights with short reviews, all worth a good look as we have a mix of horror, nostalgia, action, and heavy science fiction..

NEW COMICS THIS WEEK:

Cinema Purgatorio (Avatar), by Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill, Garth Ennis, Keiron Gillen, Max Brooks, and many more.

There are 5 great tales from great writers with matching artists, worth reading. The first and most fitting for the cover is Alan Moore’s work with Kevin O’Neill; always magical and works just as well in black and white as they do in their League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series. Keiron Gillen and Ignacio Calero’s tale is best understood by gamers, but may confuse others. The other work is worthwhile for anyone, but more cheeky than epic or emotional to some sort. The book is worth its price and the best so far out of this series.

GI Joe vs Transformers #13 (IDW), by John Barber and Tom Scioli

Here, is the final issue of this bonkers fan-serviced nostalgia fest. Everything ends on many bangs with fantastic art, old comic textures, and over-the-top twists and takes on familiar characters. Such is enjoyable and not taken seriously by fans of either, with some hilarious and bizarre moments throughout. John Barber and Tom Scioli has been a real treat for those who like their comics fun. Hopefully, the IDW will recognize this underrated work and someday put the series in a nice collected hardbound volume.

Hillbilly #1 (Albatross), by Eric Powell

I loved this first issue, as we make most of the time for a truly dark and twisted origin story to protagonist, a most interesting character worthy of a horror fandom. Much of the story is dark, with a creepy fairy tale vibe patched in. Hillbilly is different and the art is awesome. The greyish tones and moody coloring draws the reader deep into this world of creepy witches and backwoods life. I look forward to the next issue.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #22 (Marvel) by Keiron Gillen and Salvador Larroca

So far as the Marvel Star Wars comics have gone, the Darth Vader series is the most interesting and worthwhile. It’s not just for its main star, but the interesting cast of characters introduced exclusively for this series. We know our favorite Sith Lord will survive but what of the cast? Also, we get a bigger picture of other forces besides the Rebellion and Empire at work, and where Darth Vader fits in. In this issue though, Vader takes on a cybernetic Rancor beast and its scientist who are an interesting match to the Sith Lord. But, sadly not a challenge towards the end of the issue. I am hoping for bigger, more complex situations as the series continues.

Spectrum #1 (Con Man Comics), by Alan Tudyk, PJ Haarsma, Sarah Stone

For this looking for a new space opera in sequential art form, than this new series starts off well. However, the prior #0 issue out in print and cheap through online apps sets the stage better. The first issue follows up with needed info, leaving new readers hooked by its first issue presumption, perhaps a little confused. Even with both issues, there is a lot of world-building and backdrop to sort out. The main characters are interesting and I love the name Cash Wayne. Overall, the writing, artwork and beautiful colorplay makes this a great, fun new book for fans of action-driven sci-fi.

Crytocracy #1 (Dark Horse), by Van Jensen and Pete Woods

A bit of everything one could want in some bizarre paranormal science fiction, except the melodramatic seriousness one gets from X-Files. Think Men in Black with all its weirdness and humor.  However, much is very over the top with unbalance pacing. Such has a lot of fun moments with great coloring and mood-enducing art. But the story is sporadic and feels a bit disjointed. The concepts and ideas are plenty, but a bit too much for a first issue introduction. I didn’t get the main character, of the lack thereof. Still, no regrets in reading as I enjoyed many parts, just not the whole.

That’s all until next time. Did we miss anything on the shelves?  Do you have thoughts to add on the books covered here? Leave a comment below!

Orion T – SW chief writer and appreciater of great comic books and all related wonderful things.

 

Fun Times at the 2016 Emerald City Comic Con..

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Last weekend, the Emerald City Comic Con happened in much awesome splendor and good times.

Still in the Seattle city, the ECCC took it’s 14th annual turn under the new management of ReedPOP (best known for their New York Comic Con). This was my 4th year in attendance, being happy for much of it. I enjoyed the Exhibit Floor for the most part, with a great choice of local and indie creative talent. But, I wish there was more of a presence by the big comics publishers for show exclusives and signings. Venders were in good supply for those who like comics and toys. Games were very much distant and in a different area, easily missed unless engaged in such activity.

Overall, good fun for those who enjoy the art of browsing and shop. I took some pictures and notes, with favorite highlights featured below..

Invader Zim fans, or Grr and company showing off clever human disguises? ..hmm

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Always a cheer to see a row of artists engaged with fans.

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Star Wars cosplay was big as usual, but now with more Reys and Kylos.

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Comics artist legend Neal Adams, signs an original work of his, Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali

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A favorite thing for this con was the abundance of dirt cheap comics, with much at 10, 25, 50 cents, and 3 for a dollar. Many cheapskates rejoiced in this epic treasure hunt!

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One of the best panels of the show, a live sketch by the artists of popular web-comic Cyanide and Happiness. Most of it was very adult, with heavy bathroom humor, as directed by the audience giving them ideas on what to draw.

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We also got some local Seattle vibes here, with local team spirit on display.  NFL  cornerback Richard Sherman was among the con guests for this year.

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Podcasters are showing more presence at these convention gatherings. Here, I met and discussed Marvel’s Mutants with the hosts of the Jay and Miles X-Plain the X-Men podcast.

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Though a bit in decline, there are still some booths with some awesome Japanese import figurines.

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The Chibi Essense booth, full of fandom and cute craft.

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Author David J. West represented the Illuminati in the much fun “Choose your own Apocalypse” live role-play at the Space Balrogs panel. I have his book now, of which I will enjoy reading soon.

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Old school Spider-Man artist Randy Emebrlin, doing what he does best

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A sampling of the awesome prints, one could buy at this and similar comic cons.

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Fluffy colorful furriness on the Exhibit floor

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Sci-fi author Eric Laster, hiding behind his awesomeness.

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Echoing within the Emerald City, from the Spooky Forest..

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At these comic cons, zombies will never die..

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Famed author Patrick Rothfuss entertains the large crowd for a while..

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Walking Dead (Shane) and Daredevil (Punisher) star Jon Bernthal, mellows out with fans

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I think League of Legends, though not quite sure.

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That’s enough commentary for now. Stay tuned here on SW for another entry on this year’s ECCC show, the cosplay!

– Orion T

(photo credits – taken March 2016 by Orion T for strangerworlds.com..please ask permission and credit the site if sharing elsewhere)

 

Short Star Wars Fan Film: Rebel Scum

Rebel Scum

  • Director, Writer: Timothy Van Nguyen
  • Production Company; Blood Brother Cinema
  • Publish Date: January 9, 2016 – Time: 9.07
  • Notes: For more info, visit bloodbrothercinema.com

Synopsis :

“A Rebellion pilot is hounded by death from the merciless Empire and a frozen grave, after being abandoned during the retreat of the Rebel Alliance from Hoth. Rebel Scum pays homage to the original Star Wars trilogy; nearly all visual effects were created without the use of CGI, using time honored methods such a stop-motion animation. Shot on location in -30°C (-22°F) at Columbia Icefield in Alberta Canada.”

Personal Thoughts:

This is fantastic work, especially with the cinematography.

The stop motion on the Imperial Probe Droid is a great throwback to the early Empire Strikes Back special effects use. Its mechanical movements, ominous floating, and the sound effects are well-played. The AT-ATs were also well done in detail and motion, but not as awesome creepy as the Probe Droid.

The story itself is a cool little tale, well done for one using no words. A favorite thing about the latest Star Wars movie (The Force Awakens), was the little insight of a soldier’s POV in the intergalactic conflicts. After the Clone Wars, they must have personal struggles as well, and must ponder just how high in duty they take their cause to live and fight.

In Rebel Scum, we a nice example of a Rebel fighter. He is also a family man, with extra motivation to survive in the Hoth wilderness. The Imperial soldier is a perfect contrast, clean-cut and cold as the icy planet itself. Her darkened eyes and deathly skin gives off a hateful vibe, perhaps thinking the Rebel fighters as ungrateful troublemakers. To suddenly miss and be shot by one, is a humiliation to her.

The conclusion leaves much open. Will the Rebel soldier as an Imperial sabotage from within, steal some secrets, and return to his family? Can the Imperial soldier now trapped in the Rebel fatigues survive the Probe Droid and “join” the Rebellion? While the answers are best left to the viewer, I would much welcome an extension to the story by the filmmakers here.

Overall, Rebel Scum is a now a personal favorite among the Star Wars fan films out there. I am also turned to other works by Blood Brother Cinema, which now have my interest on bloodbrothercinema.com.

 

– Orion T

The SW Best Comic Book Reads of 2015

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2015, a splendid year for the sequential arts in comic books, for printed and digital.

This year presented well for readers craving more variety in creative storytelling and visual arts. With prior success in creator pushed titles like Chew, Saga, Locke and KeySex Criminals; I see more investment in fresh ideas from companies also focused licensed properties as well including IDW, Boom!, Dark Horse. While the Marvel and DC are still focused on their superhero flagships, they also have experimented with interesting new takes on licensed characters. Meanwhile, I feel Image Comics led the charge on new creator-owned, imaginative worlds for new readers in 2015.

I missed some comic titles, while less drawn to some entire genres (manga, superheroes, webcomics, multi-title crossovers). Not that such things I dislike, as some I read are hidden throughout here.  Some missed has received critical praise elsewhere, of which are probably missed on my list. I swear I will get around too, and perhaps give appreciation in some other way later on (Wytches, Squirrel Girl, Nimona, Through the Woods)

Here below, are the best of what I enjoyed in 2015, according to each heading that mattered in my buying decisions. Each title has their matching publisher, and shares equal credit with the other two as I have trouble deciding further on. I hope for some nods from readers who share in my reflections, while igniting the fires of curiosity to others. Dig in and feel free to approve, question, or challenge these decisions in the comments section further down..

BEST NEW SERIES of 2015

Paper Girls (Image)

Omega Men (DC)

Arcadia (Boom)

BEST LIMITED SERIES of 2015

Divinity (Valiant)

Richard’s Matheson’s The Shrinking Man (IDW)

Star Wars: Lando (Marvel)

BEST ONGOING STORY EPICs of 2015

Saga (Image)

Chew (Image)

Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye (IDW)

BEST USE OF LAYOUT FORM IN STORYTELLING in 2015

Sandman Overture (Vertigo/DC)

Omega Men (DC)

Zero (Image)

BEST STORY ENHANCED USE OF COLORS in 2015

Papergirls (Image) –

Descender (Image)

Low (Image)

BEST IMAGINATIVE WORLD-BUILDING  SETTINGS / CONCEPTS  in 2015

The Spire  (Boom! Studios)

The Empty (Image)

Saga (Image)

BEST SOCIAL POLITICAL SATIRE in COMICS of 2015

Bitch Planet (Image)

Prez – (DC Comics)

The Devastator #13 (Devastator Press)

BEST MYSTERIOUS HAPPENINGS of 2015

Twilight Children – (Vertigo, DC)

The Beauty – (Image)

Paper Girls – (image)

BEST UNSETTLING HORROR SERIES of 2015

Nameless (Image)

Archie Vs Predator (Dark Horse)

I Hate Fairyland (Image)

BEST ACTION PACKED AWESOMENESS of 2015

Godzilla in Hell (IDW)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutanimals (IDW)

Usagi Yojimbo: Senso (Dark Horse)

BEST SHORT STORY ANTHOLOGY in 2015

Moon in the Trees (Inverse)

Pressure Sensitivity (Wacom)

How to be Happy (Fantagraphics)

BEST CREATIVE USE OF POP-CULTURE ICONS in 2015

Jughead (Archie)

Star Wars: Darth Vader (Marvel)

Transformers vs. Gi Joe  (Inverse)

BEST USE OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY in 2015

Barrier (Panel Syndicate) – A pay what you want digital comic

Faster than Light (Image) – Print version makes use of matching augmented reality app

Z-Men (Double Take) – Digital only motion-comic

BEST FULL LENGTH GRAPHIC NOVEL STORIES of 2015

Wrenchies (First Second)

Scupltor (First Second)

Last of the Sandwalkers (First Second)

BEST REPRINTING OF COMICS HISTORY in 2015

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Mini-comic Collection (Dark Horse)

The Don Rosa Library Collection (Fantagraphics) – Volume 1-4 (each are equally great)

Batman: the Jiro Kuwata Batmanga (DC) – Volume 2

BEST COLLECTED ISSUE VOLUME PRESENTATION of 2015

Multiversity: the Deluxe Edition (DC)

Wayward: Book One (Image)

Chew Smorgasbord Edition Volume 2  (Image) 

That’s all for now. Let’s see if next year can top this!!

Orion T

 

A Holiday Season Visit to the Star Wars Gingerbread Village

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The Force is strong with this year’s (23rd) Gingerbread Village at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel. It’s all Star Wars!

Pictured below, are huge Star Wars movie themed displays with exteriors made mostly out of reinforced gingerbread, frostings, candy bits, lots gummies, and a gazillion other sugary bits and bites. Each display developed from the work of an architecture firm and lead “chef.” Also involved were children (aka “Elves”) dealing with Type 1 Diabetes, promoting the cause of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) for treatments and research.

For those who wish to visit, it’s located near the Washington State Convention Center in Downtown Seattle, the Sheraton hotel. The Gingerbread Village is free to the public until January 3rd, 2016. You may also donate money to the (JDRF) Northwest Chapter. For more site and event information (and donation info), click here.

Episode VI: Return of the Jedi

Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Episode IV: A New Hope

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Episode II: Attack of the Clones

Episode I: The Phantom Menace

– Orion T
Photo credits: Orion Tippens, December 2015

DragonCon Parade & Cosplay Photo Frenzy

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On Labor Day weekend, 70,000 cosplayers, comic fans, sci-fi enthusiasts, and gamers descended upon downtown Atlanta for Dragon*Con.

Celebrating it’s 29th year, it truly is nerd Mardi Gras. Boasting a 24-hour convention schedule with hosted panels, parties, and gaming, the con never really ends. Even the main bar area is at its livliest at 3a. This is Dragon*Con!

Dragon*Con is also the only convention widely known to have a parade. It spans .9mi and enables anyone to come check out the amazingly creative costuming that happens during the convention. An estimated 85,000 people will watch the parade in person, but Dragon*Con also streams the show to a closed-circuit channel in all of the hotel rooms.

Dragon*Con Parade 

Dragon*Con Cosplay

The cosplay here was some of the best I’ve ever seen. Cosplayers bring their A-game, and it shows. There are multiple areas that elaborate shoots happen in, and at the DC shoots, the legendary George Perez came by to ham it up.

Dragon*Con is about celebrating fandom and is very inclusive. First-year con-goers are welcomed with open arms, and southern hospitality is a very real thing. Charity is also a pretty big deal- the proceeds of the auctions and donations go to support the Lymphoma Research Foundation. They have so far raised $100,000.

We hope you enjoy these photos!

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This installment of Dragon*Con adventuring brought to you by Pinguino from Cuddli (an awesome dating app for geeks)

Comic Reading Review: Star Wars: Lando #1

 

Lando #1

  • Writer: Charles Soule
  • Artist: Alex Maleev
  • Published by: Marvel Comics
  • Publish Date: July 8, 2015
  • Notes: The first in a monthly series,

Synopsis:

“You know him, you love him…now, join him for his biggest caper as master of charm Lando Calrissian gets his very own comic book! Before he joined the rebellion, before he ran Cloud City, Lando made his way in the galaxy getting by on some swindles, some swagger, and a smile. Lobot at his side, Lando has a plan to steal a very valuable ship, but has he bitten off more than he can chew? Writer Charles Soule (Death of Wolverine, Inhuman, She-Hulk) and artist Alex Maleev (Daredevil, Spider-Woman, Moon Knight) bring us the tale of a scoundrel in his natural element-trouble!.”

Personal Thoughts (minor spoilers):

“Hello, what have we here?”

A new comic series for Lando Calrissian has arrived, and it’s about damn time.

I say this not so much about Lando being one of the many staples of Star Wars pop-culture, but for something fresh and different in our intergalactic male-protagonists out there. We got enough of the usual stereotype of mercenaries, soldiers, ex-soldiers, space-wizards, etc. shooting and swinging around. The galactic storytelling frontier needs more scoundrels, tricksters, persons looking to beat the system not through guns and laser swords but with brains and style.

What I like about Lando here, is him as not necessarily the hero type. There is one inside of him, as he has a conscious and a drive to not see others suffer as a result of his actions. But, he is still a man who seeks a better way in taking chances by climbing the social ladders, making deals, paling with Sith Lords. He does not always win. After all, movie fans know he lost his Millennium Falcon, Cloud City, and probably more. But, they know he gains from it too, with Rebellion glory a bit later.

The comic starts fresh, reintroducing his character through an intimate moment, as Lando explains his true intentions to a high-ranking Imperial woman. Rather than simply steal an item or go off running, he feels the need to explain himself to a woman who may have felt more for him than realized. There is an odd sort of fairness to make things right, but also take a gamble in that. Is there more to this moment? Perhaps there is more, as that scene cuts off to the main story of the issue.

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Throughout the book, we get more of this side of Lando; man driven to succeed and looking for himself. Yet, there are consequences, as Lando strives for balance in his lifestyle, as he looks to the present future one day at a time. The fun for us, is this crazy setting of a galaxy under tyrannical rule which establishes a sense of order but still allows for organized crime to continue. If someone is going to get hurt from one’s success, we hope it’s the right people.

But unlike Lando’s comic version from film, we have a nearly different character in Lobot, the headplant wearing man who we met briefly in The Empire Strikes Back. From there, we see only a man who takes orders and mute, almost robotic . Here, we have something far more human and sentient, with opinions and a little dry wit. Lobot is now a fellow comrade with a more fleshed out relateable every-man to his demeanor. A bro, perhaps.

The overall story is nothing major or on the epic scale just yet. However, we do get some interesting moments, as Lando puts himself in constant danger. He sort of welcomes it, and takes chances. To put the odds in his favor, he uses words and takes on ideas. This leads to some unwanted attention at the very top of the Imperial order, as revealed at the end.

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The pencils, inks,and colors are fantastic, for this type of storytelling. a galaxy under Imperial rule can be cold, unforgiving. So, we have a lot of darkness and dirty colors. Yet the settings of fantastic, otherworldly architecture and vehicles are all over, reminding of the grandness of the Star Wars universe..perfect for venturous gambler and scoundrel types.

So, I think this is a great opening issue to an intriguing character. But, hard to foresee if this series will be powerful or lacking. It has a lot of potential, with a fantastic character to explore for our Star Wars fans and casual science fiction lovers. That’s enough for me..

– Orion T

San Diego Comic Con 2015, Part 4 – Some Product Placement

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The merchandise inside the San Diego Comic Con..

All together, a favorite aspect of the San Diego Comic Con show I love to explore inside its gigantic Exhibit Hall. This year was no different, as the variety to collectors appeared wide and wonderful. Though, I felt personally disappointing with the lack of loose action figures among dealers this year. But, they got a spread on plenty of the usual cheap trade paperbacks, geek apparel, vintage comics, packaged popular toys, and popular culture merch for all attendants.

Below, are some notable favorites to my eye for this year…

Vintage comics books look beautiful when freed from their protective sleeves, dont they?

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A favorite find another attendee picked up..described on wikipedia as “a disco album by Meco released in 1977. The album uses various musical themes from the Star Wars soundtrack arranged as instrumental disco music. A single from the album, “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band”, reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 1, 1977″

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Moss Man is a personal favorite from the classic He-Man toys. Now, you can keep your window and other tacky nerd items of choice company.

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From the Super 7 booth, a rerelease of the original classic Alien figure with metal jaws. The metal jaws somehow makes the awesome Giger creation even scarier..

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On action, the original cover to one of my favorite classic Star Wars covers, which somehow reminds me a similiar scene with Dark Helmet in Spaceballs..

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An odd artpiece from one of the custom art booths..

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Best comic book boxes art ever!

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The Chessex booth rocked my tabletop gamer senses..

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From the Square Enix booth, this Play Arts Steampunk Batman figure is a bit ridiculous, but I do love..

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(DKE Booth) Love this custom Bart, figure and package…

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(DKE Booth) Tusken Jones..

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(DKE Booth) Pity the Foot!

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Gentle Giant booth reps play with a giant replica of the Grunt figure from the early 80s Gi-Joe age!!

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The “Blade Fighter” because I love ridiculous vehicles and playsets to our popular figures, and the packaging to..

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The silly transport vehicle of the classic Kenner Star Wars line, lives again!

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I love looking through original art, and the Exhibition Hall has plenty..

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“Can you BEAR it?”

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Love that Harlock pistol!

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Nice, but I wish I could buy just the Sisko..

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That’s all just a small taste of the Exhibit Hall fun for 2015. Next up, to conclude my Comic Con tour will be some personal closing thoughts. Look forward to them!

– Orion T