Comic Review: Hexed #1

Posted By on August 18, 2014

Hexed 01A vital theme repeated throughout the pages of Hexed #1 is that when magic is involved, there’s always a price to pay. For Luci Jennifer Inacio Das Neves, or Lucifer, as she’s commonly called, that haunting message is illustrated poignantly. Written by Michael Alan Nelson with art by Dan Mora, Hexed #1 is an entertaining opener from BOOM! Studios. More so for fans of the previous Hexed series, but newcomers will have no problem jumping on board and seeing what this supernatural heist book has to offer.

Issue one of the new Hexed series begins with Lucifer intercepting a robbery at a prestige art museum. Hired to steal a painting of high value outside of gold, the group of high-tech thieves don’t take too kindly to Lucifer’s sudden appearance. However, despite their fancy gizmos, the thieves soon discover they’re not dealing with an ordinary woman. After Lucifer takes care of the thieves with a little of her black magic, the museum’s security guard suffers a hear attack, upon seeing the awesome display of her powers. From there, everything begins to snowball, as Lucifer desperately tries to save the security guard’s life.

Hexed 02As stated in the beginning, the theme of magic always coming at a price is frequently demonstrated in the book. Just like the good ol’ saying “No good deed goes unpunished,” Lucifer finds her acts of heroism come at risk of the lives of others and herself. Though, Lucifer herself is no savior, as issue one slowly reveals. Best example of show, don’t tell, Hexed #1 drops readers in on the action, then provides tidbits of Lucifer’s life naturally through dialogue. As a new reader, I never felt lost in what was going on during issue one, and there was certainly a lot happening here. At the risk of slight spoilers, the ending of Hexed #1 is how a shocking ending meant to hook readers into a series should be done.

While Nelson deserves praise for writing an action-packed script, Mora’s artwork in Hexed #1 brings it all to life. The beauty and horror of the supernatural is present in Hexed, from Lucifer’s vicious snake-out-of-the-apple trick, to a deathly female figure creating a disturbing bouquet of eyeball roses. The brisk visual representation of the world within the sought-after painting conveys the eeriness the book establishes it to be. But even when it comes to simple fisticuffs, Mora can stage a pretty good fight scene with the necessary weight and swiftness. The alluring colors by Gabriel Cassata is also nicely done, with the warm intensity of magic contrasting the cool shades of reality. More of a slight annoyance, than a negative complaint on the art, the panels of Lucifer looking smug after a quip was overdone a bit.

Hexed 03

At $3.99, Hexed #1 delivers on its retail price. The premise is intriguing; the characters are fun; and the the world of magic seen in the book is as mysterious and frightful as you would imagine. Overall, a successful first issue for what looks to be a great new series.

 

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Review: Shell Shocked

Posted By on August 13, 2014

TMNT 01

Image source: Paramount Pictures.

Ever since Nickelodeon bought the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brand from Mirage Studios back in 2009, the franchise has been enjoying a second renaissance of sorts. The IDW comic book series is an exciting and entertaining retelling of the Ninja Turtles mythos. The CGI Nickelodeon show takes the best bits from the 1980s cartoon and mixes its own unique take of the Turtles, all while staying true to the original comics. Now, Paramount Pictures have released a new live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie with the help of director Jonathan Liebsman, producer Michael Bay and his studio, Platinum Dunes. The end results of their partnership is a movie that neither brings disgust to longtime Ninja Turtles fans, nor excites them like one would hope.

It’s impossible to talk about the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie without addressing the controversy that surrounded its creation first. Yes, there were rumors of the Turtles being aliens in the movie, along with not actually being teenagers. No, I don’t know if that horrible leaked script was legit or not. Yeah, I wasn’t a fan of the movie’s CGI designs of the Turtles and neither was former series owner and co-creator Peter Laird. Considering all these factors, the new Ninja Turtles film is far from the bastardization it appeared it was going to be, but that doesn’t excuse the lukewarm quality.

Kicking things off with a nicely animated comic book-ish intro, the movie begins with April O’Neil (Megan Fox), a Channel 6 fluff-news reporter trying to get the scoop on the Foot Clan, a ninja/military organization that’s been terrorizing New York. Upon stumbling upon a typical Foot Clan robbery, April witnesses a mysterious vigilante taking them out and leaving a Kanji calling card. With little proof, April is ridiculed by her peers and becomes more determined than ever to prove herself in the world of journalism. It isn’t long before the Foot Clan takes action against New York again, this time taking April and other bystanders hostage. And once again, the Foot Clan is defeated by the vigilante. However, April discovers that New York’s unknown savior is actually a group of “Ninja Mutant Turtle Teenagers” that go by the name of Leonardo (Johnny Knoxville), Raphael (Alan Ritchson), Donatello (Jeremy Howard), and Michelangelo (Noel Fisher).

TMNT 01

Image source: Paramount Pictures.

As gritty as the original comics were, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles takes itself too seriously. Outside of casting William Fichtner, there’s little in content that backs up The Dark Knight vibe this movie tries to convey. The dramatic atmosphere is as generic as it can get, with plot convinces and characters bluntly saying what needs to be established abound. And despite the film’s nobel attempt of portraying April as an independent news reporter looking for justification, Megan Fox’s performance carries none of that. Fox’s weak performance as April would be easier to excuse if it was minimal, but with her character being so central to the story, it just throws belief out the door, and that’s saying something for a film starring four computer-generated turtles trained in Ninjutsu. The best I could give Fox is that her scenes of frustrations and craziness in front of her friends were amusing.

Fichtner, who plays Eric Sacks in the film, portrays the character as lifeless as possible. Initially, Fichtner was cast as Shredder, the Turtles’ primary foe, until someone at Paramount realized they just cast a white actor as a Japanese character. Race issues aside, it’s hard to say if Fichtner would have been a good Shredder, but his new role as business partner to the Foot Clan’s leader lacks any sense of depth. Tohoru Masamune, who plays the actual Shredder, is given little to work with. As the alter-ego of Oroku Saki, or the Megatron-like designed Shredder, Masamune does have the intimidation that’s necessary for the role. However, his motivation is barely existent, reduced to a bad guy that does bad things cause he’s bad.

TMNT 03

Image source: Paramount Pictures.

With all this negativity previously mentioned, it may be hard to believe Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles does anything right, but where it surprisingly excels at is the Turtles themselves. When the “heroes in a half-shell” are fully introduced, they bring the much needed fun the movie so desperately craved. The classic chemistry among the reptilian brothers is all here, from the butting of heads between Raph and Leo to Mickey making everyone wish he just shut up. Not only do the Turtles bring the vital carefree attitude, but their scenes even have a few clever subversive gags that, admittedly, wouldn’t have been as successful without the film putting on a straight face before their arrival. Also welcoming is the family theme surrounding the Turtles and their sensei/father Master Splinter (Tony Shalhoub).

While rare, two distinct praises critics have given Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the “avalanche” action sequence and the heavily promoted “elevator” scene, where the Turtles rock out to the sounds of their own beat. Both praises are well deserved. The former being a thrilling set piece that displays the over-the-top action and wackiness of the franchise, while the latter being a hilarious character moment that perfectly captures the Turtles’ brotherly relationship and youthful spirits. Even the questionable designs of the Turtles themselves become forgivable, as the motion-capture performance by their respected actors is impressive. While less successful, but still deserving of a cookie, is Will Arnett’s portrayal of Vernon Fenwick, April’s cameraman. Arnett tries his best to inject some humor into the movie’s most dry scenes, but just like his attempts to woo April, it comes off awkward instead of charming.

Image source: Paramount Pictures.

Image source: Paramount Pictures.

What more can be said about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? The biggest sin the film commits is that there’s nothing to be passionate about, whether those feeling be positive or negative. The film just sits comfortably at the couch of mediocrity. With that said, the kids present at the theater I watched the film in were having a great time, so maybe the movie did exactly what it had to do: Entertain its intended audience. Still, given how well Nickelodeon treated the new comic book and animated series, longtime Ninja Turtles fans expected better than this with the live action reboot. Oh well, two out of three ain’t bad. 

Rating: ** stars.

Movie rating system: **** stars.

 

 

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Guardians of the Galaxy Review: Hooked on a Feeling

Posted By on August 4, 2014

GOTG 01

Image source: Marvel Studios.

For better or worse, Guardians of the Galaxy is a Marvel Studios film. It walks like a Marvel Studios film, talks like a Marvel Studios film, and my God, you can even say it smells like one too. And there’s nothing initially wrong with that. When the James Gunn-directed flick opens with Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), or Star Lord, as he would like to be infamous for, dancing to the 1974 beat of Redbone’s ”Come and Get Your Love,”, with some sort of space weasel substituting as a microphone in his hand, it’s apparent this will not be your average comic book movie. Everything that follows, however, is typical fare for Marvel Studios, with Guardians of the Galaxy rarely doing anything better or worse than the Marvel films before it.

Stop me if you heard this one before: A MacGuffin of great and dangerous power is being sought after by those who wish to cause harm and the hero(es) must safeguard it at all cost. Marvel Studios has fallen in love with this plot device famously coined by Alfred Hitchcock, as demonstrated by The AvengersThor 2, and now, Guardians of the Galaxy. In place of the Cosmic Cube and Natalie Portman is a sphere-like artifact Quill steals solely for value, but when his buyer with actual knowledge of what the  convict has in his pocket backs out, he quickly looks for another. His search doesn’t get far, as he is suddenly assaulted by Gamora, a female assassin ordered to retrieve the artifact for her boss, and later by Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel), an unlikely anthropomorphic bounty hunting duo that wants to collect the price tag on Quill’s head.

GOTG 02

Image source: Marvel Studios.

The public battle among the four doesn’t go unnoticed by the intergalactic police force known as the Nova Corps, and they are soon imprisoned for their past and present crimes. It is in space jail where the group are introduced to Drax (Dave Bautista), a simple brute wanting to kill Gamora as payback for her employer murdering his family. With the main cast finished saying their hellos, they are forced by current circumstances and greed to work together and hold onto the artifact that everyone in the universe wants. Like it or not, they’re stuck with each other. As individuals, the team of “A-holes,” as dubbed by an Nova officer, are more caricatures than characters.

Actress Saldana was quoted by Time magazine as saying space was the best place for young female stars to shine, and in Guardians of the Galaxy she is able to kick as many butts, if not more, as her fellow co-stars. However, her character Gamora falls square inline with other warrior-driven alien women that despite being all business and no pleasure, inevitably falls for the male human lead. Despite the tragic past, Drax is more of a one-note joke, as his confusions with metaphors is continuously mined for comedy gold. Rocket Raccoon and his  living-tree companion are a little livelier, with the former’s frustration with his crew and his experimental origin makes for amusement and pity, while the latter unbelievably brings heart by repeating the line ”I am Groot.” It’s perfecting casting on Gunn’s part that Diesel, who proved in The Iron Giant he can bring life to a mechanical role, was given the chance to do it again for the botanical being.

GOTG 03

Image source: Marvel Studios.

Unsurprisingly, the most fleshed out character in this picture is Quill, the first character we see onscreen as a child, before the death of his mother drives him out of the hospital and into the arms of alien kidnappers. From its theatrical poster to opening credit sequence, Guardians of the Galaxy desperately evokes the spirit of Star Wars. Quill, or Pratt to say more accurately, is tasked with fulfilling the role of Han Solo. To his credit, Pratt plays that role, but is never given material unique enough to make it his own. The screenwriters, however, were courteous enough to give Quill the charms of Star Trek‘s Captain Kirk in seducing alien women.

The alien world Guardians of the Galaxy is disappointingly uninspired. True, the alien worlds here actually look like a foreign planet than a film stage like Thor did, but the alien inhabitants are usually nothing more than humans who either have over-the-top fashion senses or decided to bathe themselves in colored paint. It even has the blue alien chick the science fiction genre can’t possibly live without, played by Karen Gillan of Doctor Who fame. The prison portion of the story had the potential to be the next Cantina bar scene from Star Wars, but the movie is only willing to go as far as placing a generic CGI creature in confinement and having his nostrils assaulted. As for Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace), the main baddy of the film, his wardrobe is the only lasting impression he leaves.

GOTG 04

Image source: Marvel Studios.

Despite meeting the standard storytelling quota, Guardians of the Galaxy thinks it’s far more clever than it actually is. Admittedly, there are moments of genuine hilarity from its tongue-in-cheek dialogue, but those moments are drowned out by gags delivered poorly and unnaturally pop up over and over again. Even with all the action set pieces, Guardians of the Galaxy could easily be labeled as the first comedy from Marvel Studios. But like a teen that’s eager to impress his friends, Guardians of the Galaxy doesn’t know how to pace itself and kills any appreciation for the jokes that might have worked. It’s true that for a film starring a talking raccoon, a level of self-awareness is needed, but grounded moments are also necessary to make the audience better appreciate the display of weirdness.

For all its weaknesses, Guardians of the Galaxy does have its strengths. The chemistry among the main cast works, which is essential for an ensemble film. Not yet friends, nor downright foes, the interactions spurred by compliments or confrontations are a delight. Groot, the most impressive alien being in the film, second to the raccoon of course, is obviously loved by the special effects team, as his imaginative abilities are wonderfully displayed throughout the movie. Despite Guardians of the Galaxy falling into the same pit other big-budget Hollywood flicks have fallen into by dedicating its third act to destruction of massive proportions, it actually remembers there are innocent bystanders caught up in the action and has its unlikely band of heroes do everything they can to save them. Those moments were crucial in the payoff of Quill and company, tied together by what they lost in life, proudly accepting their mocked title of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

GOTG 05

Image source: Marvel Studios.

As stated in the beginning of this review, Guardians of the Galaxy is undoubtedly a Marvel Studios film. At best it’s competent; at worst it lacks ambition. In a interview with The Guardian, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige used Guardians of the Galaxy as an example of the studio’s unconventional filmmaking. In reality, the film’s directional style and storyline is just as conservative as past Marvel films. It won’t be the space exploration that sets Guardians of the Galaxy apart from the comic book movie crop, but its 70s inspired soundtrack mixed by Star Lord’s mom, as the movie constantly reminds you of her great musical taste.

Rating: ** 1/2 stars.

Movie rating system: **** stars.

 

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The New Batgirl is So Unlike DC and Why That’s a Good Thing

Posted By on July 10, 2014

Batgirl

Image source: MTV

On the surface, everything about the new Batgirl comic run announced by DC Comics Thursday is nothing like we come to expect from the company.

Sure, new Batgirl writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher have a history with DC  from their respective work on Batman Inc. and Wednesday Comics. However, where they plan to take Barbara Gordon and her superhero alter-ego is a complete 180 on how she’s been portrayed in the New 52 reboot written by Gail Simone. With her old life literally gone in flames, Barbara packs up her bags and moves to Burnside, described by Stewart as “the cool, trendy borough of Gotham.” Starting in October with issue 35, Batgirl will drop the its overtly dark tone for a more upbeat atmosphere. Stewart promises the new Batgirl book will be lighthearted and fun; two things severely lacking in the comics DC publishes today.

Batgirl 02

Image source: MTV

Then there’s Batgirl’s newly redesigned costume by Babs Tarr, who will make her comic debut as illustrator for the series. Gone is the movie-inspired and needlessly complicated armor Batgirl has worn since the New 52 began and in is a more practical, fashionable, and simply appealing apparel that beautifully represents the youthful side of Barbara. Rarely has DC hit the nail on the head when it came to redesigning its characters for a new generations, with the Justice League sporting line-covered armor with collars, Starfire wearing less clothing than ever before, and Powergirl initially dressing like a toothpaste before reverting back to her original appearance. However, Tarr’s take on Batgirl’s costume does exactly what a redesign should do: Draw inspiration from the original, while modernizing it for a new era.

It’s surreal how the new Batgirl actually feels fresh and not a retread of DC’s 90s ideology. Everything about Batgirl comes off as something Marvel Comics would do, considering its recent relaunches of She-HulkMs. Marvel, and Ghost Rider. But it’s not. Batgirl is all DC and it bring changes the publisher should have introduced since relaunching its comic book library in 2011. It may have taken three years, but DC has finally caught up with the times for Batgirl. Hopefully Batgirl is only the beginning and more titles will soon start to follow, because this is what the DC universe desperately needs.

Let’s see more of this.

Batgirl 03

Image source: MTV

And less of this.

Batgirl 04

 

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Comic Review: The Amazing World of Gumball #1

Posted By on June 27, 2014

Gumball 01 A

Cover A by Missy Pena.

BOOM! Studios has certainly made a name for itself in the all-age comic book market. Under the KaBOOM! imprint, the publisher has released funny and entertaining comic book adaptations of popular Cartoon Network shows, like Adventure Time and Regular Show. Continuing the trend is The Amazing World of Gumball #1 by writer Frank Gibson and illustrator Tyson Hesse.

As previous creative teams of Cartoon Network comics, the duo behind the Gumball comic have a history working on webcomics, as Gibson writes Tiny Kitten Teeth and Hesse writes and illustrates Boxer Hockey. And just like past Cartoon Network comics by BOOM!, The Amazing World of Gumball #1 is a must-read for fans of the show, or anyone looking for a good laugh.

Gumball 01Currently in its third season, The Amazing World of Gumball by Ben Bocquelet follows the adventure of a young cat named Gumball and his best friend/adoptive brother/pet goldfish Darwin as they live their daily, but surreal, lives in the fictional city of Elmore. The comic assumes you’re already familiar with all the show’s wacky characters, but it doesn’t leave newcomers completely in the dark.

Everything you need to know about Gumball and his friends are represented well in the first issue. Gumball’s dad, Richard, is a lazy bum. His mom, Nicole, has anger issues. And his little sister, Anais, is too smart for her age.

The story for issue one has Gumball and Darwin planning a long lazy day after school, only to get sidetracked when a fellow student gets behind the wheel of a car and deeming it the coolest thing ever. Jealous of the attention the faux student driver got, Gumball vows he too will drive a car and drags Darwin in for the ride. Gibson stays true to the humorous nature of the show, with jokes being set up and delivered at a fast-pace. The comic’s story structure is also faithful to the show, as it conjures up as many crazy scenarios it can get from its premise, without losing focus. A departure from other Cartoon Network comics by BOOM!, Gumball’s stories are self-contained, making it easier to recommend to those unwilling to wait three or four issues for the payoff.

Gumball 02The most unique thing about The Amazing World of Gumball is its visuals being a mixture of different mediums. Traditional animation, flash animation, stop-motion animation, CGI, puppetry, and real life clips are all featured in Gumball through its “anything goes” type of world. As a comic, The Amazing World of Gumball cannot accommodate all these different art styles. However, Hesse finds a suitable and appealing style that somehow blends all these incoherent character designs into one. On top of that, Hesse’s artwork is just so delightfully expressive.

The lack of a guest comic seen in past Cartoon Network comics is disappointing, but doesn’t stop The Amazing World of Gumball from being a complete joy. At $3.99, The Amazing World of Gumball #1 is a recommended purchase. Keep the all-age comics coming, BOOM!

 

 

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Captain America’s “To Do List” Around the World

Posted By on April 7, 2014

The Winter Soldier

Source: Marvel Studios

Over the weekend, Captain America: The Winter Soldier continued Marvel Studios’ dominance at the box office with an estimated three-day gross of $96 million, according to Deadline.  The film’s worldwide performance is even more impressive, as it hovers over $300 million. Speaking of worldwide, one neat aspect of the Captain America sequel is the region-specific things Steve Rogers needs to catch up on that’s written on his to do list, seen in the beginning. Comic Book Movie reported on the UK version of the list, which features the modern TV retelling of Sherlock, the Beatles, and the 1966 World Cup finals. Now, other versions of the list have popped up online. Check them out below.

To Do List Spain

Spain

To Do List Latin America

Latin America

To Do List Korea

Korea

To Do List O4

Italy

To Do List France

France

And here’s the original version of the list.

To Do List US

United States

With a few exceptions, the last five things that remain the same in all versions of the list are Thai Food, Star Wars/Trek, Nirvana, Rocky/Rocky II, and Troubleman by Marvin Gaye.

Curious about seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier? Read Iain McNally’s review of the film.

 

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John Campbell’s Sad Pictures for Children Kickstarter Drama

Posted By on February 27, 2014

oh god

A strip from Pictures for Sad Children.

John Campbell, the cartoonist behind the webcomic Pictures for Sad Children, has ceased deliveries of the strip’s second hardcover collection to Kickstarter backers and threatened to burn the remaining books to anyone who complains.

On the latest Kickstarter update, Campbell posted a long and mostly incoherent post about how the world views “value.” One paragraph that reads crystal clear from Campbell, however, is the statement regarding undelivered books to backers who supported the Sad Pictures for Children Kickstarter. As stated in the post, 75% of those orders were shipped to backers, but Campbell has no plans to fulfill the rest. No refunds will be offered and anyone who complains about it via email or social media will have their book burned.

I shipped about 75% of kickstarter rewards to backers. I will not be shipping any more. I will not be issuing any refunds. For every message I receive about this book through e-mail, social media or any other means, I will burn another book.      

Accompanying the troubled post, Campbell posted a video of those crowdfunded books being burned in a bin. On top of this, Campbell has deleted the webcomic from their respective sites. Picturesforsadchildren.com, Sadpicturesforchildren.com, and Boohooboo.tumblr.com (Campbell’s tumblr) are nothing but blanks now. Needless to say, backers and close friends of Campbell are displeased with the move. K.C. Green, who was close to Campbell, characterized today’s event as the feeling “you feel when someone dies and there’s no dead body.”

Campbell originally faced scrutiny in 2012 for claiming to have faked depression and capitalizing on it. Judging by Campbell’s latest action, that claim may not have been real.

 

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Comic Review: Regular Show #9

Posted By on February 6, 2014

Regular Show #9

Cover art by Allison Strejlau

Just like the hit Cartoon Network show its based on, BOOM! Studios’s comic adaption of Regular Show is anything but. It’s funny; it’s surreal; it’s beautiful; and similarly to other all-age books published under the KaBOOM! imprint, it’s consistently entertaining. This is thanks to the talent of writer K.C. Green and artist Allison Strejlau. However, for the past four issues, Green has been absent as the comic’s writer. With issue #9, Green makes his return to the comically absurd Regular Show-verse with a story that not only does the series proud, but serves as a welcomed invitation to newcomers.

For those unfamiliar with the cartoon, Regular Show follows the lives of Mordecai and Rigby: two laid-back park workers that constantly find their seamlessly mundane lives turned explicitly crazy by one thing or another. And considering they take orders from a talking gumball machine on a daily basis, that’s saying something. In issue #9, that talking gumball machine, Benson, has ordered his crew to sell any junk lying around the house for the garage sale the park is holding to boost revenue. As usual, Mordecai just wants to get the job done, while Rigby throws a tantrum over the whole matter.

Green’s return to the comic delivers the same silly humors found in the original series, with  dialogue that amuses and stays true to the characters. Just like Leo Johnson said in his review of issue #1, the writing here could easily pass for any Regular Show . . . show. I didn’t need to stretch my imagination when reading Mordecai’s taunts towards Rigby as he throws away his junk; their voices instantly played out in my head.

Regular Show #9 02

Regular Show #9 03Green doesn’t deserve all the credit, however, as Strejlau’s artwork gives the book a style familiar to the series, but unique to its own. It’s more lively, expressive and imaginative than the typical animation seen in Regular Show. Mordecai’s and Rigby’s ridiculous reactions seem above is enough to conjure up a smile on anyone’s face. My favorite illustration from the book is page 18, where Rigby imagines himself as a hero. Strejlau’s panels this sequence creatively and amusingly, with Rigby’s pleased face evoking a bit of Dr. Suess.

Similarly to the Adventure Time comics by KaBOOM!, Regular Show features a short story by a guest artist. For issue #9, Jake Wyatt tells the tale of Rigby steali–I mean–borrowing a magical 20-sided die and selfishly abusing its ability to grant wishes to one-up Mordecai and vice versa. Again, like the main story, this fun little special is true to the show in capturing the competitive relationship between Mordecai and Rigby. It’s also nice sight for the eyse, with its delightfully warm pink color scheme dropping by now and then.

Regular Show #9 04

Regular Show #9 starts off strong with a humorous beginning to what looks like to be a great story arc. Only flaw I have with the issue is that I wanted more, but what I got was enough to satisfy me until the next issue. Highly recommended for fans of the show, current comic readers, or anyone looking for a good all-age book.

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Comic Review: Fracture #1

Posted By on February 1, 2014

Fracture “Another Friday night alone on the couch,” said Jeff as he dozes off from recounting his pathetic life. When awaken, he finds himself in the aftermath of a bank heist as the supervillain Malice, with one cop left alive from the scene ready to fire a bullet in his brain. That’s the beginning of Fracture #1, written by Shawn Gabborin, and art by Chad Cicconi and Dave Dwonch. With an intriguing premise of an ordinary man discovering his secret life as a supervillain and a superhero later on, it’s easy to see why Fracture, published by Action Lab Entertainment, was successfully funded via Kickstarter.  However, based on the first issue, its premise is all it has going for at the moment.

Fracture 02Jeff is an okay character. Considering he described his life as nothing but dull, I expected his regular self to be just that. After the realization of his multiple personalities and experiencing it for the first time, he still comes off as dull. His shock when waking up as Malice or flying off as the superhero Virtue are expected, but remains the standard reaction with no uniqueness injected by the character. Having Jeff’s multiple personalities seep through when dressed as them would have made those scenes more fascinating to read, but as is they’re just generic.

The plot of Fracture #1 suffers from genericism as well, with the folding of events going by as one would expect. However, they do go by sharply without wasting a minute of the reader’s time. The use of the journal, which serves as a way to speed up Jeff’s revelation of his other selfs, is displayed to the readers in the comic’s last few pages. It’s a good idea, as it shed some light on who the other Jeffs are and builds some tension for the next issue. The surprising news near the end of the issue also brings hope of some excitement for the next.

Art-wise, Fracture #1 is serviceable. Sometimes the characters’ heads look a little too big, or the body and facial expressions appear unfitting, but the artwork is otherwise fine. Most amusing page was when Jeff wakes up as Virtue in mid-flight and quickly crashes into a nearby building. On page 22, however, demonstrates some of the problems with the artwork. The way the woman runs away from Virtue looks more like a quick jog, than someone trying to flee for their life. The woman’s facial expression seen in the first panel look off, as does her gesture in the second.

Fracture 03

Designs for Malice and Virtue do evoke the general idea of a comic book villain and hero, but considering the story’s biggest flaw is its vanilla taste, it could have stood out more. The paneling is effective; rarely fancy but crystal clear.

As previously stated, Fracture has great story potential. How can a story about a man unknowingly living as a superhero and villain not?  Sadly, it doesn’t exactly show in its first issue. Considering its three-issue series, Fracture #1 may be enough to entice readers to give it a go and see if it can live up to its hype.

 

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Mimi Yoon Defends Her Controversial Powerpuff Girls Cover

Posted By on January 27, 2014

Powerpuff Girls

Source: IDW Publishing

Artist Mimi Yoon took to Facebook this weekend to address the controversy surrounding her withdrawn variant cover for The Powerpuff Girls #6, which was deemed “too sexy” for its intended younger audience.

The controversy began last week when Dennis Barger Jr., owner of Wonderworld Comics in Detroit, criticized Yoon’s cover for “sexualizing pre-teen girls like perverted writing fan fiction writers on the internet.”

Shortly after Barger’s comments and others spread online, Cartoon Network, who “mandated” the cover with the artist of their choosing, pulled it before its release to retailers. Dirk Wood, IDW’s vice president of marketing, rationalized Cartoon Network’s original intent of the cover, saying they viewed it as a form of female empowerment than sexual exploitation. When contacted by ICv2 about pulling the variant cover, Cartoon Network’s licensing division said “We recognize some fans’ reaction to the cover and, as such, will no longer be releasing it at comic book shops.”

Yoon previously alluded to the controversy regarding her aged depiction of the Powerpuff Girls dressed in latex outfits last Thursday, but made her opinion well known on Friday.

i’ve been keeping quiet because of my respect for the other parties involved, but i feel it’s about time i say something.

DO KNOW THAT I AM DAMM PROUD OF THIS WORK OF MINE.
my objective was to illustrate modern, pop cultured, SASSY (not sexy), and humanized Powerpuff Girls who have just beaten the crime lord and have him on the ground. yes, the girls are wearing latex costumes… SO?!?!?! don’t all superpowered heroes wear latex?

unfortunately, the comic book will never make it to the stores… yes, i’m truely disappointed… because a perverted mind decided to see in this image what his dirty mind has conjured up, and barked loud enough. worse, he brought up kids and used protecting kids and kids’ perspective in his reasoning/excuse. does he think kids are dumber than him?

She continued on Saturday, attacking Barger more directly and linking to photos of him posed with strippers.

i am quite overwhelmed but will try to reply all of the supportive messages as soon as i can. and i will continue to create art embracing the beauty of women and femininity. i find all of the accusations for my Powerpuff Girls image sexualizing minors not only ridiculous but also embarrassing (for the accusers) and disturbing especially since it’s started by a person of such value as seen in the pictures below.
a person argued that i’ve gained popularity from the situation, but I’VE NEVER ASKED FOR ANY OF THIS, ESPECIALLY IN THIS MANNER. and i’m curious to know why are all the arguments about trying to keep the image away from the girls? what about the boys?

by the way, it’s too late now…. the image has spread wider now than it would ever have as a comic book cover in stores.
computer savvy children are seeing it and will see it for a long long time easily too on their computer monitors, even the ones who would never have if this nonsense has not started by that one perverted mind who conjured up the nonsense in his dirty mind. how is he going to stop the kids from seeing the image on the internet now?

Fans of Yoon’s artwork will be happy to hear IDW are already planning another cover for her, as  IDW Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall tweeted it’s “Going to be a fun one.”

 

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Batman and Superman Arrive on Amazon Instant Video

Posted By on December 1, 2013

Batman Superman

Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series have been added for streaming on Amazon Instant Video.

Arguably two of the best and well-respected superhero cartoons by Warner Bros. Animation, Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series are now available to watch online for Amazon Prime members. Thanks to the creative team of Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Eric Radomski, and many others, Batman: The Animated Series was praised by critics and fans when it debuted in 1993. Known for its dark atmosphere and “Dark Deco” art style, Batman: The Animated Series is still seen today as the best interpretation of the character, thanks to its dramatic and sometimes tragic storylines. The best example of the latter being the episode Heart of Ice, which reinvented Mr. Freeze from boring crook to a sympathetic, but cold-hearted killer. While overall lighter in tone, Superman: The Animated Series delivered the same entertaining quality as the DC series before it, with the Apokolips…Now! two-parter as among the classics.     

For other animated DC superhero shows, Netflix has Batman Beyond, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited on their streaming service. All three are connected with Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series, with Justice League Unlimited serving as the final series in the DC Animated Universe.

 

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Artist Alley: Superheroes In Their Ben Cooper Costumes

Posted By on October 30, 2013

With Halloween only a day away, it makes sense to dedicate this installment of Artist Alley to comic art with the trick-or-treat spirit. Although, showing off artwork of costumed heroes doesn’t seem very different from past entries, given the nature of the superhero genre. However, in the case of comic book illustrator Karl Heitmueller Jr and his rendition of DC and Marvel heroes dressed in their poorly made Ben Cooper costumes of themselves, it’s a sight that must be witnessed for its comical beauty.

As Heitmueller explained on his blog, the superhero costumes produced by Ben Cooper Inc. through the 1950s, ‘60s, and ‘70s, came nowhere close to matching the original.

But kids who wanted to pretend they were Batman, Spider-Man, Green Lantern, Captain America, or any other DC or Marvel do-gooder had their bubbles somewhat burst the second they took the cheap mask and costume out of the box. Rather than being miniature versions of the actual supersuits, the Ben Cooper costumes were vague approximations at best, almost always enhanced with the name of the character plastered at least once across the chest, or head (or both!) of the flimsy smock and plastic mask. Even more head-scratching were the costumes for characters like Green Lantern, Aquaman, or Daredevil that—rather than imitate their sartorial preferences—splashed an illustration of the hero across the chest. So, you were Green Lantern wearing a Green Lantern costume that… uh, had a picture of Green Lantern on it. As if the fun-size Snickers doler-outers didn’t know who Hal Jordan was!

Below are Heitmueller’s artwork of Batman, Iron Man, Spider-Man, Superman, and Wonder Woman dressed in their Ben Cooper costumes. Heitmueller’s artwork capture the vintage look of these characters wonderfully, as they pose proudly in their laughable apparel.

Given Spider-Man’s origin story, the luchador design is the only one that comes close to appropriate. The tiny print on Superman’s costume stating only he can fly is hilariously reminiscent of this famous line from The Simpsons. As for Wonder Woman’s costume. . . well, at least she has some pants on.

Have a happy Halloween everybody. Make sure to label the name of your character you’re dressed in on the top of your head, so you don’t forget who you’re trick-or-treating as. Also, make sure to check out this post by Heitmueller for an in-depth look at the costumes made by Ben Cooper Inc.

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