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Your Alternative Comics Beat For January 12, 2013: Earth 2

Going Against the Grain

I know that this column was started to give people an alternative to superhero comics. And I’m fully aware that the title I selected for today falls right into that category. But even though this title does deal with superheroes and is based in the DC Universe, it’s still enough of a departure from the ordinary for me to be able to recommend it to you as something to change up your reading list.

That’s why I selected the new Earth 2 series from DC Comics, written by James Robinson.

Earth 2 – James Robinson’s Take

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Many comic book readers might be familiar with Robinson’s iconic run on Starman. Robinson was able to take a superhero concept in that story and shed a whole new light of depth and family issues within a character. The setup for Earth 2 is much different, giving us an alternative reality where Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are killed defending earth from Steppenwolf and his Parademons.

This new take on the “wonders” of the world puts Alan Scott (the Golden Age Green Lantern) in the role of the emerald warrior like never before. Instead of a galactic police force or an old lantern carved from a mysterious rock, The Green, just like in Swamp Thing, gives Green Lantern’s powers. I won’t ruin the how or why, but Scott becomes the champion of the new era.

There are a bunch of other popular Golden Age characters re-designed in this series, including The Flash and The Atom, but you should really read it for yourself to see how they play into the story.

Why It’s A Good Alternative

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It’s a great alternative because it takes the superhero genre and puts it in a new light. These are some of DC Comics oldest and most popular characters, and after the New 52 it seemed like they weren’t going to return. Robinson has given readers another reason to bring these characters back into the spotlight and make us remember why we love them so much. They may have new costumes and a new world to play in, but they still have the same qualities and faults that readers fell in love with decades ago.

The Great Debate

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If you’ve read this far without bringing up the glaring press that Earth 2 received about Alan Scott being a homosexual in this new series, I applaud you. There were people in my local comic book shop who refused to read the series because the character was now gay instead of straight. I’m here to say that I’ve been a huge fan of every Green Lantern, Alan Scott included, and I love this new take on him.

Scott’s new sexual orientation isn’t just a gimmick; it drives his character and plays an important part in the story. If anything it’s made Scott a stronger character and a better leader, due to events that happen in the first few issues.

If you can’t move past this new character trait, I feel very sorry for you. You’re missing out on what has become one of my personal favorite DC titles. But if you’re willing to see a universe where every twist and turn in the world of DC took a left instead of a right, you’re in for a treat.

Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics.

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Your Alternative Comics Beat For December 29th, 2012

Hello, Cosmic readers! Welcome to another edition of Alternative Comics Beat. I hope that everyone had a great holiday and that you try not to party too hard this New Year’s Eve.

With that being said, let’s jump right in!

It’s All About Sponsorship

The comic book that I decided to choose for this week’s article was one that caught me by surprise. I had planned to do a completely different series until I picked up a new title from Image Comics on a whim. This new series by writer Brian Wood (DMZ) and artist Ming Doyle combines a look into the future with an interesting combination of the military and professional sports world.

Mara #1

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In a future where the world is obsessed with military and sports culture, Mara Prince is more popular than religion. She’s one of the world’s greatest athletes and is constantly in the spotlight. But things go horribly wrong for her when a supernatural event takes place during a live broadcast.

Why It’s A Great Alternative

Futuristic stories are a dime a dozen. It’s really rare to see anything where a writer is willing to take a chance and take the human race in a new direction. The concept of the military and sports being interrelated makes so much sense that I’m amazed I’ve never read anything like it before. I’m not saying that it doesn’t exist, but personally it’s a bold new take for me.

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Brian Wood has been known for developing great characters. He’s been doing a lot of work with Marvel’s X-Men, but this new series from Image allows him to spread his wings from the strict rules of franchise characters.

This comic book is a prime example of what this column is all about. It a new and exciting concept and delivers it in the form of a thought-out and incredibly produced comic book. Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire deserve just as much praise as Wood for putting together a beautiful issue.

Why You Should Read It

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I’m aware of the fact that Marvel has some wonderful superhero stuff going on with Marvel NOW! In fact I’d have to be hiding under a rock not to notice it. But considering that last week we were dumped with a million comics because of the holiday, now would be the time to pick up something different if you’ve got a light week. Mara has the potential to be one of those deep character stories that people could talk about for years to come. I suggest you get in on the ground floor while the getting is good.

After the first issue, I know that I’m hooked.

Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics.

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Your Alternative Comics Beat For December 22nd, 2012

I’d like to start off by saying happy holidays and I wish everyone the best.

Now on to your Alternative Comics Beat, a recommendation to take you out of your comics comfort zone and introduce you to something new (or at least new to you) and exciting!

For Your Consideration

This week’s Alternative Beat is a story about fathers, sons, and a situation like something out of the Twilight Zone. After everything I read this week that was a contender for the slot, this original graphic novel stood out as the strongest in terms of storytelling, artwork, and heartfelt moments. The graphic novel in question was written and drawn by Jeff Lemire and published by Top Shelf.

The Underwater Welder

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Underwater welder Jack Joseph is feeling pressure from both his job and his pregnant wife. While diving on an offshore oilrig in Nova Scotia, Jack discovers a pocket watch at the bottom of the ocean. The watch is something more than just an old relic, and Jack soon finds himself caught in a strange world that he must escape from.

Jeff Lemire – Writer

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Jack Joseph is instantly a likeable character. Jeff Lemire has always been able to portray his protagonists in a way that makes you connect with them and care about them from start to finish. Jack’s feelings about parenthood and his experiences with his father can ring true to just about anyone, and the moments with his wife seem like they’re lifted from documentary footage. They feel that real.

Jeff Lemire – Artist

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The artwork is done in Lemire’s signature style. There are many expressive lines and the environments are given a great setup through pacing in the story. Even though the drawings aren’t completely realistic, the emotion that the characters show in each panel is very true to life. When characters are upset, angry, or crying, you can feel it through the artwork. Lemire has always been able to pull this off with his technique, and it still serves him really well. He also makes use of nine panel grids in an interesting way, which makes it look like a camera is panning across the character or scene.

What Makes This Different

What makes this story different than your usual comic book fare is that it’s a story about the importance of family with an interesting science fiction backdrop. The story isn’t afraid to breathe and many of the panels are about atmosphere and tone. There are no explosions, no stakes to save the world, just an epic journey of one man and his role as a father.

Why You Should Pick This Up

If you’re a fan of Jeff Lemire’s work on Animal Man or Justice League Dark from DC, or if you’ve read Sweet Tooth from Vertigo, you’d be doing yourself a favor by checking this out. It’s a great story that you can share with family members and friends, or get as a gift for someone this holiday. I do admit that this is a little late, but if you are looking for a last minute gift for someone who loves reading, comics, or old Twilight Zone episodes, this is right up their alley.

This, like every Alternative Beat recommendation, is a story that can show you what sequential art can really do with characters. The comic book medium can tell just about any kind of story, and this original graphic novel is proof that they can be just as touching as an award winning film.

Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics.

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Review: Saga #6

Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have really been outdoing themselves with every single issue of Saga. This latest issue has Marko and Alana finally reaching the rocketship forest, but finding something very different than they had anticipated. Prince Robot IV on the other hand gets himself into a whole new mess of trouble, when he faces the penalty for having The Stalk shot at the end of the last issue — the wrath of The Will.

The best part about this series is the interactions between the characters. Vaughan’s style lets the dialog breathe and be more reactive than plot-based when the characters are faced with new challenges. It makes even the simplest conversations meaningful and gives each line real heart and weight tow what the characters are saying.

The universe that Staples is creating with her artwork is nothing short of breathtaking. Without spoiling too much, there’s a very interesting couple of spacecraft that Staples draws in this issue that really showcase how inventive both she and the series really are. And if the ship designs don’t hook you in, the expressions and character designs will.

Image has been making a name for itself these past few years with original titles that step outside of the mainstream genres and give readers something different to look forward to every Wednesday. Saga is a space opera that has all the best elements of franchises like Star Wars combined with all the best elements of true to life dramas or plays.

It’s a series that deserves your attention and is worth waiting for every month.

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Review: Hellblazer #293

John Constantine is no stranger to breaking promises. On his last trip to Hell, Constantine promised his sister Cheryl that he’d try to find her long lost son, all while crossing his fingers. He had no intention of looking for the lost member of the Constantine bloodline, but now that grizzly murders with black magic are filling the sewers of the city, Constantine thinks that his nephew might be looking for him instead.

Hellblazer is one of Vertigo’s longest running series and for good reason. Peter Milligan writes Constantine the same way Jamie Delano or Garth Ennis wrote him – as a crime noir character deep in the occult. The dynamic with Constantine and his wife Epiphany has been playing out really well, and it’s satisfying to see him with someone he can confide to in every issue.

How long she’ll last is another story, since it’s common knowledge that anyone close to Constantine doesn’t last very long.

Giuseppe Camuncoli has a very expressive style that fits Hellblazer and Constantine’s world while still having an impressive cartoon element. The eyes and expressions of characters are what really sell each panel. In every moment where Constantine is angry, smiling, or ready to vomit, is felt by the reader through the artwork.

Most audiences are only familiar with the film version of the character in Constantine, starring Keanu Reeves. While it’s not a horrible movie, it’s definitely not a faithful adaptation of the character or the Hellblazer franchise. If you love detective stories and urban occult or horror, this series is the go to material for any fan.

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Review: Revival #1

Revival is the story of a small town in rural Wisconsin where, one day a year, the dead are brought back to life. Officer Cypress is a cop that’s in way over her head as a brutal murder sends the already crazy town into pure insanity.

The resurgence of horror and supernatural comics these past few years has really brought readers new and original stories. On the heels of series like Severed and Rebel Blood, Revival takes a twist on the undead genre with the feeling of a dense mystery novel. After only one issue an entire world of media and mystical frenzy is built around a small community trying to deal with a supernatural problem.

Tim Seeley and Mike Norton have written and drawn an opening story as tight as a pilot for a new one-hour drama TV series. Seeley’s story pacing sets a very good flow, and Norton’s art lays out the narrative in a very dynamic way.

On the whole this series gets a recommendation because it’s trying to do something different. It’s become a trend to try to mimic The Walking Dead model of comic book stories, and though Robert Kirkman does it well, many others don’t. Seeley and Norton are carving their own path and it’s well worth the time to give a try. That is if you like supernatural horror mysteries.

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Review: Incorruptible #30

The final issue of the sister series to Irredeemable has landed and picks up where the last issue left off. Max Damage has sent Coalville into a riot as the cloud of poisonous radiation moves its way across the globe to the last fully functioning civilization. As the chaos blooms around Damage, he makes a startling discovery about himself and his original oath to be incorruptible in the face of evil.

Though both series were very interesting in their approaches on the superhero and supervillain mythology, Incorruptible had always been more of the wild card. We had seen comics before where the Superman-like character had gone bad, but we’d never seen the Lex Luther type character turn to the side of good. Damage was a character that was always fun to read and always left us wanting more.

This final issue by Mark Waid and Damian Couceiro was definitely a quieter end to this part of the Irredeemable universe, and played more to Damage as a character instead of a pair of super-powered fists. It took the time in both the writing and the artwork to explore a newer and more relaxed side of Damage after the responsibilities of being the world’s newest hope had washed away from him. Incorruptible needed a more muted ending, because Damage really needed to learn to live in the gray and do the right thing because it was the correct choice, not because he had to. It completes the arc of the character while also showing that, if Plutonian hadn’t stopped the end of the world, that Damage would have stepped up to do it.

It’s sad to see this story come to an end, but it would be fun to check back in with Damage, Jailbait, and Alana sometime in the future. This series is worth a look if you missed it the first time.

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Review: Resurrection Man #9

Mitch Shelley just can’t catch a break. Not only does he have a couple of hotheaded girls chasing him with machine guns, but now he also has the whole Suicide Squad on his tail. As he wakes up to his newest super powered skill set, he’ll have to fight his way to Amanda Waller’s secret facility in order to rescue the only friend he has in the world right now — assuming she hasn’t already sold him out.

I haven’t been keeping up on this title and I’m really sad that I had forgotten about it. I love the concept of someone being killed, coming back to life and then having a new superpower each time. Shelley has gotten a good grip on his ability, even though it’s unwieldy, and seems to adapt very well no matter what he’s been given. Each issue I’ve read has always entertained me, so I’m going to do my best not to leave this one in the cold again.

Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning are a great writing duo. This could have been a throwaway action issue, but they added enough character moments to make it fun while also being engaging.

Andres Guinaldo does some great work with Shelley’s newest power, a liquid metal body, and it’s showcased well in each panel. I’m not sure about how I felt about the way Deadshot looked with his helmet off, but that might just be me. I also loved Rafael Albuquerque’s cover for this issue and the last.

This book is definitely for fans of the darker side of the DC Universe. I wouldn’t be surprised if Shelley eventually teamed up with Justice League Dark in the near future. It’s definitely one of the better under the radar titles of The New 52.

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Kenny Porter’s C2E2 (2012) Report and Images

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KENNY PORTER
and “DOCTOR WHO”
C2E2 2012

When Cosmic Book News offered to give me a press pass to cover C2E2 (Comic Con and Entertainment Expo) in Chicago, I was thrilled. I’d been to Wizard World in Chicago the previous summer, but had heard that C2E2 was a much bigger and more involved convention with more to offer. As I walked into the convention center at 9:30 A.M. on Saturday morning at McCormick Place, I soon realized it was true.

The aura that the people who were attending the convention gave off was nothing but fun and enthusiasm. People shouted outside the showroom floor as we waited to enter and continued to do so even after they opened the doors at 10 A.M. The flood of fans moved quickly into the Marvel and DC booths up front, then poured into the booths that Archaia, Top Shelf, and Avatar Press were hosting nearby.

Past the booths of the various publishers, big and small, the exhibitors selling toys, t-shirts, models, and just about any other pop culture junkie’s dreams were set up. It was like a medieval marketplace. In fact, there were a few times I was surrounded by bladed weapons. All of which were replicas from video games and comic books. And speaking of replicas, there was an entire booth of memorabilia from the Captain America film last summer. The shield, costume, and various pieces of art were on display with the motorcycles from the blockbuster movie.

Artist Alley was by far the greatest part of the convention. Fans were lining up to talk to the titans of the printed comic book page to have their books signed and purchase original pieces of art. Artists like Sean Murphy (American Vampire, Hellblazer, Punk Rock Jesus), Gabriel Hardman (Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes, Exile on the Planet of the Apes), Ramon Perez (Tale of Sand, Gods of Mars) and Peter Krause (Irredeemable, The Power of Shazam) were there to interact with fans and share their artwork.

Due to time constraints I wasn’t able to make it to too many panels, but I did catch the Dynamite and Vertigo panels that were held by the publishers. At the Dynamite panel they discussed the ongoing Voltron series and what they have planned for titles like Warriors of Mars, The Shadow, Green Hornet, and Army of Darkness.

The Vertigo panel had a wonderful preview of the upcoming issues of American Vampire, Punk Rock Jesus, Saucer Country, Fables, The Fairest, and Spaceman. They also announced a new series called Collider, which was described as an “A-Team” type of group crossed with “quantum physics and events.” The news of the title went over well with fans and was greeted with excitement.

The entire experience was incredibly fun. Compared to the previous cons I’ve been to, this one was definitely the best in terms of guests, vendors, and fans. If you’re thinking about going to a comic book convention in the Midwest, C2E2 is hands down the best the country has to offer.

Click to enlarge and launch viewer:

GABRIEL HARDMAN:

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RAMON PEREZ:

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PETER KRAUSE:

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