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The Fade Out (#1 & #2) – Alternative Comics Beat

Alt Beat

By Ken Porter

The Fade Out #1 & #2

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Written by: Ed Brubaker

Art by: Sean Phillips

Colors by: Elizabeth Breitweiser

Publisher: Image Comics

Hollywood Horrors

I’m a big fan of murder mysteries and crime drama. The only thing I enjoy more than a good noir is a saucy Hollywood story set in the 1940s. Luckily for me Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Image Comics have delivered just such a tale with The Fade Out. The story focuses on a screenwriter named Charlie who has lost his muse and relies on his drunken and blacklisted pal Gil to write scripts. But when Charlie wakes up one morning at the scene of a horrific crime, he finds that people in his circle have covered up the murder, and he has no idea how he fits into the puzzle.

 

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A Gripping Story

Not only does Philips’ art pull me into this story, but Brubaker’s take on Hollywood murders makes me want to sit and binge watch black and white detective movies. The blend of atmosphere, character, and setting gives this book a lot of life and heart. Even if some of it is ugly and full of venomous truth.

Why It’s a Great Alternative

There’s definitely no supernatural thing going on in The Fade Out. It’s just a gripping crime story and look into the decade through the lens of a screenwriter trying to make it in L.A. It seems like so many comics rely on a science fiction or supernatural twist that sometimes it can be a bit exhausting. It’s good to know that there’s still room for stories that just have compelling characters without unnatural abilities or circumstances.

Don’t get me wrong, I love science fiction and the supernatural as much as anybody (sometimes too much), but it’s nice to get a story that wants to exist outside that bubble in comics.

 

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Who Would Like The Fade Out?

Fans of Brubaker and Phillips’ Criminal are an obvious choice. I also think that fans of shows like Mad Men would enjoy the time period and the interactions with the characters. If you’ve been reading series like Satellite Sam or enjoy murder mysteries then this is a comic book you don’t want to miss. The extras in the back of each issue alone are worth checking out, not to mention the fantastic covers we’ve gotten so far.

Ken Porter also writes comic books including “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of last year’s Top Cow Talent Search contest and was recently published in “Artifacts” #33.

Read More about The Fade Out (#1 & #2) – Alternative Comics Beat

Alternative Comics Beat: Strange Nation #1-6

Alt Beat

By Ken Porter

Strange Nation #1-6

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Written by: Paul Allor

Art by: Juan Romera

Published by: Monkeybrain Comics

Terror in the tabloids

If there’s one secret delight I had as a child it was looking at the covers of The Weekly World News and seeing images of creatures and characters like Bat Boy. Sadly, I found out too early that these stories weren’t real. Trust me, I had some genuine worries about Bat Boy coming to my house until I was set straight. But afterwards I never stopped to consider what the world would be like if those images and stories weren’t made up, but instead were some of the most important and dangerous reporting any journalist could embark on.

That’s where Strange Nation comes into play.

Norma Park is a journalist for Strange Nation, a tabloid dealing in the very bizarre and weird. While it’s not Norma’s first career choice, she soon discovers a strange plot involving an intelligent sasquatch named Joe, aliens, and doomsday cults. She might not have her prestigious news job any longer, but Norma is following the story of her life.

 

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Comics should be fun

It’s a point that I’ve driven home so many times it’s split my word processor like a nail in a board. Strange Nation is one of those comic books that’s just plain fun. Each issue offers character-building moments from the cast, including Norma, Joe, or Norma’s hawaiian shirt wearing friend Jesse.

And if there’s one thing that will creep you out about this comic book, in the most fun way possible, it’s the mascot-headed thugs. If anything check this book out for the mascot-headed thugs. Seriously, I mean it.

Why it’s a great alternative

Allor and Romera have an original premise that’s got lots of flexibility in terms of story and visuals. While I’m not sure how many issues this series is supposed to be, it could easily move into an ongoing with all of the crazy concepts, stories, and characters that Norma could explore.

It has the same kind of open-world feeling that Futurama had when it started. There’s a solid premise, with rules, but the characters can be put into any situation and it works.

 

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Who would like this

Fans of comics like Skullkickers, Chew, or the new adaptation of The X-Files would enjoy Strange Nation quite a bit. There’s plenty of humor, action, and cool visuals to draw people in from multiple areas of comics. Or, if you’re looking to introduce someone to comics, this would be a good starting point for fans of shows like Futurama, where the premise can lead to just about any crazy kind of stories or characters. The issues are only 99 cents a piece, and all six can be found on Comixology’s website or app.

If this sounds like it’s up your alley then pick up Strange Nation today and get ready to believe the weirdest things the world has to offer!

Ken Porter is presently interning with Cosmic Book News and also writes comic booksincludingInk Ribbon” from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of last year’s Top Cow Talent Search contest and was recently published in “Artifacts” #33.

Read More about Alternative Comics Beat: Strange Nation #1-6

Alternative Comics Beat: The Wicked + The Divine

Alt Beat

By Ken Porter

The Wicked + The Divine

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Written by: Kieron Gillen

Art by: Jamie McKelvie

Colors by: Matt Wilson

 

 

 

 

 

New gods

Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie have created fantastic stories like Young Avengers and Phonogram together, and now with The Wicked + The Divine they continue that streak. Tackling gods in a modern setting is tough. Mainly because it’s become a staple for urban fantasy and science fiction. But Gillen and McKelvie put interesting rules and characters into the situation which breathes new life into this kind of story.

The premise is fun from the get go — Every ninety years a group of gods are reincarnated as normal human beings. They only live for two years, then die as a part of their mysterious life cycle. The first issue picks up with a girl named Laura attending a concert for a pop star calling herself Amaterasu. What Laura soon discovers is that the young pop star actually believes she’s the shinto god, and from there her night spins out of control.

 

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The feel of the book

There’s something unique to projects that Gillen and McKelvie work on. The best way I can describe it is, whether it’s about music or not, their collaborations always feel like they’re a bit rock ‘n’ roll. Even with Young Avengers there was a tone and style that made me feel like there was something rebellious and musical about the series. With The Wicked + The Divine the feeling is amped up, like its Gillen and McKelvie turning the modern gods story on its head and delivering their own brand of narrative in the genre.

What makes it a great alternative?

One of the things that makes this a great alternative is that the premise itself is unlike anything out there. At least when it comes to things that I’ve been reading or noticed in comics. You get some super powered beings, which isn’t new to the medium, but you get it through the lens of media celebrities and eccentric characters.

 

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Who would enjoy this?

I think fans of series like X-Statix will really enjoy this book. It has a somewhat similar setup and tone, although it feels a bit more grand and mythic than the X-Men book about angsty TV stars. I also think that fans of books like American Gods would have fun with this series. Based on the first issue it feels like there are going to be a lot more fun characters to explore, and strange mystery to solve. If you’re looking for something different on the stands then I suggest picking up the first issue of this book. Image is putting out tons of interesting titles, and this is one of their latest gems.

Ken Porter is presently interning with Cosmic Book News and also writes comic books including “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of last year’s Top Cow Talent Search contest and was recently published in “Artifacts” #33.

Read More about Alternative Comics Beat: The Wicked + The Divine

Alternative Comics Beat: Doom Patrol

Alt Beat

By Ken Porter

 

The Doom Patrol is a team that doesn’t get a lot of name-drops in the DC Universe. The characters on the team are C or D-list at best, and the problems they face don’t usually include any of the big name villains or threats that teams like the Justice League deal with on a daily basis. They’re a group of outcasts, much like the X-Men, and have strange powers or deformities that would keep them out of the A-list spotlight.

This is what makes the Doom Patrol one of the best comic book teams ever created.

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While Grant Morrison didn’t create the Doom Patrol, he put his own spin on the team and comic book narrative that is just as engaging, strange, and mind bending as his run on Animal Man. He incorporated secret societies, surrealism, and impossible characters. The Doom Patrol’s job is to fight the strangest threats to reality, and Morrison doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the threats that the Doom Patrol face, or the dramatic character shifts that the main team members go through.

If you’re not familiar with the Doom Patrol, here’s a list of the core members during Morrison’s run.

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Robotman AKA Cliff Steele

The only character to appear in every version of the Doom Patrol, Robotman was in a race car accident that left only his brain intact. Doctor Niles Caulder, the founder of the Doom Patrol, created an artificial body for Cliff Steele to use. He often struggles with his humanity after being placed in a metallic shell instead of a body.

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Negative Man/Rebis AKA Larry Trainor/Dr. Eleanor Poole

While piloting a test plane Larry Trainor was affected by a radioactive field that gave him the ability to project himself as a being of pure energy for limited amounts of time. In Morrison’s run Trainor is fused with Dr. Eelanor Poole, resulting in a hybrid creature called Rebis.

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Crazy Jane AKA Jane Morris AKA Kay Challis AKA…

As a result of a gene bomb accident, Kay Challis was left with 64 different personalities. Each one of these personalities has a different super ability and can be switched out on the fly. Challis meets Robotman in a hospital and befriends him, making the two a duo for most of Morrison’s issues.

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Dorothy Spinner

Originally a throwaway character from an earlier issue, Morrison took the ape-like girl with multiple imaginary friends and made her the center stage for many of the Doom Patrol’s conflicts. While she’s just an innocent and confused girl, she struggles with her imaginative powers and the monsters that wait within her.

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Danny the Street

This might be one of my favorite characters in all of fiction. Danny is a sentient street that can travel through time and space, but also happens to be a transvestite. He eventually becomes the home of the Doom Patrol and a certified member, helping the team in any way he can.

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Tempest AKA Joshua Clay

One of the first DC comics characters to be officially declared as a “mutant,” Clay has energy project abilities and generally tries to stay out of the limelight in the Doom Patrol, tired of the superhero lifestyle. He helps Dorothy and The Chief as much as possible, offering them advice and support. While he doesn’t go looking for fights, he’s quick to support his team members.

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Doctor Niles Caulder AKA The Chief

Very much the Professor X of the group Caulder is a paraplegic and genius who created the Doom Patrol to help society accept people who had been left behind by society or labeled as freaks. He’s a very skilled engineer, and created the body that Robotman inhabits.

 

The Story

Doom Patrol is a hard series to peg down in terms of story. Morrison’s run mostly deals with the members of the team struggling with their humanity, their origins, and where they fit in the world. Most of the antagonists of the series are threats that are more abstract than simple supervillains. Take the Brotherhood of Dada for instance, based on the Dada art movement. Led by the sanity zapping Mr. Nobody, the Brotherhood of Dada takes on such tasks as using a painting to transport Paris into another reality or stealing the bicycle of Albert Hoffman (creator of LSD) and using it to power a campaign for Mr. Nobody to become president.

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And that’s just a sample of the kinds of stories that are found in Morrison’s Doom Patrol.

 

Why it’s a Great Alternative

I’ve never read anything like Doom Patrol. Some of the words and imagery were so powerful that I found myself taking Instagram pictures of most of the quotes and crazy panels within the six released volumes. Normal superhero fare is fun, don’t get me wrong, but watching a group fight intangible or metaphysical threats to reality is just as fun if not more. Fans of Doctor Who know that sometimes the creature or threat that you can’t touch can be the most dangerous. When it comes to a monster inside the dimensional realms of the Pentagon springing to life over the telephone lines, Doom Patrol definitely dips its toes in that category.

 

Who would like Doom Patrol?

While it does have some resemblance to the X-Men, Doom Patrol dips more into the pool that holds comics like Alan Moore’s Saga of the Swamp Thing or Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. It’s one of the comics that DC (now published under the Vertigo banner) had that challenged the regular comic book narrative and put a new creative spin on storytelling. If you’re a fan of Morrison’s work at all and haven’t read his work on Doom Patrol then you’re doing yourself a disservice.

I would also recommend Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery, but that warrants its own future Alternative Comics Beat installment.

Ken Porter is presently interning with Cosmic Book News and also writes comic books including “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of last year’s Top Cow Talent Search contest and was recently published in “Artifacts” #33.

Read More about Alternative Comics Beat: Doom Patrol

Your Alternative Comics Beat For July 28th, 2013: The Rocketeer/The Spirit

Alt Beat With Kenneth Porter

 

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Mark Waid has been wowing me for years. It’s no secret, I talk about it constantly. He’s one of the reasons that I became a comic book writer and he’s the continued example that comics can be fun without being overly dark or “extreme” as the kids like to call it. This doesn’t mean that his comics don’t have depth. Darkness and depth are often confused when people refer to comic book characters. People want a “darker” Batman on the screen, but don’t realize that what they really want is a true, deep version of the character. Batman is already dark; he doesn’t need to be darker. Almost every comic book character has a gloomy past that pushes them forward, but Waid is always willing to remind us that the depth and the darkness don’t always have to go together.

The bottom line is that Waid knows how to write intriguing comics that are just plain fun.

The Rocketeer/The Spirit from IDW and DC Comics is another example. I’ve enjoyed Waid’s work on previous stories featuring The Rocketeer, but never in my wildest dreams would I get to write about the jetpack avenger’s adventures with The Spirit, another one of my favorite characters, penned by Waid himself. The moment I saw the issue solicited I knew it was going to be featured in the “Alternative Comic Beat.” Is that bias? It probably is. But this is an opinion column, not a review column. And my opinion is that the comic book world, the movie world, and the general world of fiction can benefit from stories like this one.

The plot for this issue pits The Rocketeer and The Spirit against each other and it couldn’t be a better showdown. Both characters are radically different in their genres and origins, but both are willing to throw caution to the wind in the name of justice. The winds of justice, in this case, lead them into a comical brawl that neither can get the upper hand on. Just the idea of two completely different heroes matching each other in determination instead of skill is a concept that I can firmly stand behind.

The artwork by Paul Smith compliments Waid’s writing to the point where I wish every comic were set back in the 30’s or 40’s. I don’t know where my love of pulp fiction comes from. I guess watching science fiction and crime drama as a child just hammered it into my brain. The generation I was born into should have no idea who The Spirit or The Rocketeer are, but the characters outlived their original incarnations and have jumped back onto the page and into my heart. That’s a very cheesy sentence I just wrote, but I’m not deleting it. I’ve always held to the idea that fiction is like a really good pizza. And, without cheese, a pizza just falls apart. You need that little bit of ridiculous to throw at your characters. Waid and Smith understand that.

If you’re looking for a break from the “dark” remakes of characters like Superman in The Man of Steel or most of the bigger superhero stories, this is where you can get some good old fashioned action adventure that makes you want to leap into motion. Whether you’d rather don a domino mask or a jetpack is entirely up to you.

Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of this year’s Top Cow Talent Search contest.

Read More about Your Alternative Comics Beat For July 28th, 2013: The Rocketeer/The Spirit

Your Alternative Comics Beat For July 8th, 2013: Batman ’66

Alt Beat With Kenneth Porter

 

I know I’m going against the grain by picking not only a Big Two book for this column, but also a Batman title. If you give me a chance to explain I think we can avoid any stone throwing or harsh language. Since the debut of Tim Burton’s Batman the world has viewed the caped crusader as the dark knight instead of a fun, pulp character. My first exposure to the Adam West Batman was in the film version of the TV show.

I thought it was hilarious, very fun, and a whimsical take on Batman that I had never seen.

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I grew up on the Tim Burton films and Batman: The Animated Series. When I discovered the TV version of the character I didn’t react like many people my age did. I’ve literally heard people call it embarrassing and ridiculous. The same might be said about Nolan’s films by an audience in the future. Back then the whole idea of costumed crime fighting was light and fun pulp stories. Now the trend is to make things as dark as possible, even when it has no right being there.

What makes Batman ’66 so special is the blend between the fun and goofy TV show and post-modern comic book storytelling. The comic was written by Jeff Parker with art and colors by Jonathan Case, and it really pops. Both the writing and the artwork are incredible. I feel like I’m watching an episode of the TV show but with a much higher budget. They never could have had Batman launch from the batmobile and fight it out with the Riddler on a bi-plane in the TV show.

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If they did it wouldn’t have looked this impressive.

I really need to focus on the art here. Parker writes a thrilling story, but Case delivers on the art front in a way I’ve never seen before. It mixes pop sensibilities of the 60’s with a use of color that makes it unique on the digital shelves.

So why is it an Alt-Beat you ask?

Because this is a version of Batman many of you might not be familiar with. It’s a look back to what Batman used to mean to a whole different generation. It shows off just how versatile the character is and how he can flourish in any decade and context. Throw your caution to the wind and try this digital title on for size.

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Will the readers warm up to Batman ’66?

Can Alt-Beat columnist Ken Porter stave off the rampaging post-modern Batman fans?

Will he find something just as fun to talk about next week?

Tune in to Cosmic Book News and the Alt-Beat column again! Same Cosmic time, same Cosmic channel!

Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of this year’s Top Cow Talent Search contest.

Read More about Your Alternative Comics Beat For July 8th, 2013: Batman ’66

Cherry Capital Con 2013 — Porter’s Viewpoint

On an impulse I went to C3 (Cherry Capital Con) this year in Traverse City, Michigan. Andy Budnick, an artist that I know, was kind enough to invite me and put me up in his hotel room with his lovely wife Kim. I was asked to cover C3 by Cosmic Book News, and would have been happy to do some actual gumshoe-like reporting, but only arrived during the last hour of the show and was only able to get a taste of the convention before it closed up for the night.

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That being said I did get the tone and mood set by this show, so I’m happy to explain it to readers who are interested in attending this convention in the northern section of Michigan’s lower peninsula (a lot of directions, I know).

The convention was held in the Grand Traverse Resort in an event room that was large, but definitely not as big as shows like Wizard World or C2E2 in Chicago. Tables for artist were the main draw (no pun intended) but there was a selection of rare comics and merchandise for fans to chew through as well.

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C3’s main attention seems to be focused on the creators, which is a really cool aspect of the show. From the rumblings that I heard on the show floor it seems that most of the money spent at the convention by fans was on art prints and commissions by the guests. When I’ve attended conventions in the past I’ve noticed that many people are more willing to spend cash on merchandise rather than art. It’s refreshing to hear that creators can still make fans just as excited as merchandising.

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It’s a very intimate show, but if you’re looking for a place to chat with creators and find some treasures this is the place to go (especially if you’re buried way up in Michigan). I hope to go next year and spend the entire weekend at the show in order to get the full effect, but after being there for an hour I can tell you that it’s more for fans that are searching for a less overwhelming place than conventions on the SDCC scale.

Read More about Cherry Capital Con 2013 — Porter’s Viewpoint

Your Alternative Comics Beat For May 27th, 2013: Chew

Alt Beat With Kenneth Porter

 

A Tasty Choice

I’m always looking for new comic book series to read. I have a steady stream of flow from companies like Marvel, DC, Vertigo, Dark Horse, and especially Image. I try to keep up on as many books as I can, but there’s no time to read everything that comes out. I could try, but I’m afraid that my head would blow up like the guy in Scanners (also a slight Wayne’s World reference there). But I’m very happy to say that I stumbled upon yet another series that has slipped through the cracks of my reading pile for far too long.

There are certain types of stories that you’ve always wanted, but that you never knew existed. This week’s Alternative Comics Beat is one of those kinds of stories. Try to imagine a universe where chicken is illegal, people have food-based superpowers, and a rooster is the most powerful and deadly fighter in the universe. John Layman imagined it, and with the help of artist Rob Guillory he’s brought it to the shelves of comic book stores everywhere. The two of them have created a series so fun, violent, and mesmerizing, that I read six trades in just a few days.

I’d like to introduce you to Special Agent Tony Chu of the FDA.

CHEW

Tony Chu is a cibopath. That means that Chu can eat anything and know its entire history. He can eat an apple and see how it was grown in the orchard, or eat a hamburger and experience how the cow met its untimely demise in the slaughterhouse. Sadly this new ability is put to the test in much grosser forms when Chu joins the FDA, which is one of the most powerful law organizations in the world. With his powerful ability he’ll have to solve the strangest criminal cases in the world, and the world needs Chu more than he thinks.

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Wait, What?!

The premise alone for this series is enough to make people’s heads turn. But Layman drew me in with characters that I really care about and a storytelling style that fluctuates between a Saturday morning cartoon and a TV drama. Chu and his family grow on readers faster than fruits from another planet. When characters in the series are killed or injured (I won’t say who or what), I felt the deaths and wished that they had made it for a few more issues. But that’s really the sign of something worthwhile. I might feel sad that the character is gone, but the fact that I felt something is what’s really important.

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Stylish and Slick

Guillory’s artwork is the perfect companion to this unique story. His style lends itself to emotion, fantastical events, and very gory moments. If you can make a Rooster fighting legions of villains a dynamic storytelling event, then you deserve lots of credit. Every issue builds on the one before it and the cartooning of animals, people, and places is really spectacular. I can’t say enough good things about his style, so I encourage anyone reading this to check out his work in the pages of Chew or on his website (http://robguillory.blogspot.com/).

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A Wonderful Alternative

This series is just about as far as you can get from the normal things in your pull box. It’s been going on for a while, but the trades are available at any bookseller. You might find yourself doing what I did, and binge reading the entire series up to the latest issue. I would compare to other series that I’ve read, but I really can’t provide anything that’s even close. If you do like references to other science fiction series, stories that can take any kind of turn, and the idea of a world with chicken speakeasies, then you really need to give Chew a try.

Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of this year’s Top Cow Talent Search contest.

Read More about Your Alternative Comics Beat For May 27th, 2013: Chew

Your Alternative Comics Beat For April 23rd, 2013

Before we get to the nit and grit of this column I want to apologize for my absence. I’ve been incredibly busy with school, work, and comic book projects of my own (Editor’s Note: Ken won the Top Cow Comics Talent Hunt Contest!). While I’ve stopped doing reviews I still love to recommend books that I find intriguing and think that the rest of the comic community should jump on and read. For my first trip back to Cosmic Book News I want to talk about Theremin #1 from Monkeybrain Comics. The story is written by Curt Pires, the art is done by Dalton Rose, and the letters by Ryan Ferrier. It’s a time travel story with a unique twist that mixes alternative history, an unlikely device, and sets up a really intriguing story.

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The first issue follows Leon Theremin as he discovers time travel through frequencies in the new instrument that he would later become famous for. But unlocking this power takes him down a dark road that leaves him at odds with Vladimir Lenin and a horrific possible future. I’ll just say that things get complicated and you should read it for yourself so that I don’t spoil too much.

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The usual problem with time travel stories is that it focuses on the technology too much and not on the actual characters. What I really like about this first issue is that we get a strong sense of who Leon is and what he believes. When he experiences time travel it makes it all the more exciting to see him deal with it and move on to the next problem or situation because an investment has been made with him as a person. It’s common that character development gets lost in the shuffle of a story like this, but I was invested the entire time.

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Monkeybrain has been putting out incredible digital titles. I was drawn to Theremin because of its catchy cover, the premise, and the awesome gun that Leon is brandishing like a dapper Adam Strange. It’s the kind of comic that doesn’t need any big explanation or backstory, which makes it the perfect alternative to the normal fare. If you’re looking for a break from your regular reading routine and love time travel stories then you should really check this out. I personally can’t wait for the next issue.

(All images taken from http://www.monkeybraincomics.com/titles/theremin/#)

Read More about Your Alternative Comics Beat For April 23rd, 2013

Your Alternative Comics Beat For March 8, 2013: Kamandi

Alt Beat

 

Jack Kirby is one of the most influential comic book creators that ever lived. He helped define and design many of Marvel Comics greatest characters and did his fair share of writing and creating at DC Comics as well. One of the series that he wrote and drew for DC was Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. Like something right out of a Twilight Zone episode or an untold chapter of Planet of the Apes, this series placed a young human warrior in a world controlled by animal men that see him as nothing more than an intelligent pet.

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I’ve been feeling very nostalgic towards old comic books lately, so I thought that I would recommend something to people who want to read some of the classic old stories by creators like Kirby. Kamandi does feel like a lot of science fiction from the 70’s, but the artwork, colors, and pulp science fiction tone make it a fun read even by today’s standards. The dialogue and thought balloons are very of the time, but the story still moves forward at wonderful pace and the character designs are fun and vibrant.

Kamandi is a character that hasn’t penetrated the general pop culture sphere. He’s appeared in episodes of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and in various comic book mini-series and events, but has never really come back into play. The chance to do an out of continuity character set in a futuristic world with animal rulers would be a great story to reboot for DC’s New 52, though I’m not sure if the character would move as many books with young viewers.

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On the other hand, one of the things that are great about this character and story is that he’s one of those survivalist young men who will do anything to survive in a horrifying world where people worship atomic warheads. Is it something that needs to be read or is incredibly groundbreaking? No, not necessarily. But it is a change up from regular superhero comics, especially for 1972 when the character was first published.

Kamandi is one of Kirby’s own original creations, and if you haven’t delved into Kirby or the history of this comic book creation machine than you’re doing yourself a disservice. Just studying his drawing style or his dynamic poses is worth the trouble or downloading old issues on digital comic platforms. I was able to pick up the first issue of the series for only 99 cents, so for less than a cup of coffee you can read a piece of comic book history.

I was honestly pulled in by the iconic cover, which I hope to find as a poster sometime in the near future.

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

Read More about Your Alternative Comics Beat For March 8, 2013: Kamandi

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #25

Jason Aaron’s Wolverine and the X-Men continues its heart-filled and action-fueled run in this month’s new installment. Headmaster Logan takes a troop of his most troubled students to the Savage Land for a survival field trip to toughen them up. The kids left to fend for themselves for 24-hours and Quentin Quire steps into the reluctant leadership role to make it out of the jungle alive.

But there are worse things in the Savage Land than hungry dinosaurs and teenage angst.

Aaron sets Wolverine and the X-Men apart from the other mutant titles by focusing more on the adolescent new members of the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning. Quire has always been an interesting character and he gets to take center stage as the telepathic loudmouth class president. Readers complain about new characters when it comes to legacy titles like X-Men, but over the course of 25-issues I’ve come to love characters like Idie, Broo, Shark Girl, Genesis (young Apocalypse) and Quire. It’s no easy feat to make newer characters feel so rich, and putting them in a survival situation gives them a chance to interact in really fun ways on the page.

Ramón Pérez does the artwork for this issue and it’s fantastic. I’ve been a fan of his art style since Tale of Sand from Archaia, and that same energy is injected into Wolverine’s students as they battle prehistoric monsters (or, in many cases, each other). Pérez uses interesting layouts on double-page spreads to tell a big epic story. It makes the whole issue read like a movie or TV episode and really lets the reader feel the scope of the situation.

One of the great things that Marvel does with the X-Men is let the writers and artists put their own unique spin on the premise. No two X-Men series are exactly alike, and there are a lot of X-Books being published right now. What set this series apart are its humor, characters, school atmosphere, and lighter side of Wolverine. It does work in a similar what that Bendis’ X-Men stories do, where it takes classic elements and updates them for modern day audiences, but it still appeals to Marvel fanboys who have followed these characters forever.

Wolverine and the X-Men is always a fun read. This new issue continues that pattern and makes me excited to read more adventures of the young mutants in the Savage Land.

Read More about Review: Wolverine and the X-Men #25

From Where I Sit: The Comic Book Year of 2012

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I know the Christmas goose hasn’t even been cooked yet. Still, things move fast around the Cosmic Book News offices in December with the holidays in full swing, so your ever-lovin’ M.E. thought he might as well present thoughts back at the comic book year that was 2012 and a slight peek or two towards a promising (?) future.

If you don’t like this list, fine. Go to the CBN forum and make one of your own so we can make fun of it!

Without further adieu:

 

Best new couple: Superman and Wonder Woman

 

Best old couple:Aquaman and Mera (Runner up: Stark and Cap)

 

Favorite couple:Rictor and Shatterstar

 

Best new team book:Avengers

 

Best new cosmic team book:Hypernaturals

 

Best new team book writer:Jonathan Hickman

 

Most convoluted team concept:All New X-Men

 

Most missed canceled title:Uncanny X-Men, Volume 1

 

Most unappreciated team book:X-Factor

 

Most promising team concept:Uncanny Avengers

 

Diamond in the rough:X-Treme X-Men

 

Most anticipated new book:Threshold (Runner up: Talon)

 

Least anticipated new book:Nova

 

Least anticipated writer on a new book:Brian Michael Bendis on Guardians of the Galaxy

 

Best New 52 book:Batman (Runner up: Aquaman)

 

Most cosmic New 52 series:the Green Lantern family of books

 

Most consistently beautiful book (art):Green Lantern (Doug Mahnke); (Runner up: Aquaman, Ivan Reis & Joe Prado)

 

Most beautiful Marvel NOWbook (art): Thor, God of Thunder (Esad Ribic)

 

Most disappointing book:Stormwatch

 

Best new villain:Sublime (Hypernaturals)

 

Best old villain:The Joker (Everywhere!)

 

Biggest disappointing event:Avengers vs. X-Men

 

Biggest thriller:Death of the Family event (Batman family of books)

 

Best hero of 2012: Batman

 

Best book of 2012:Batman

 

And that’s 2012 from where I sit. How about you?

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Hurricane Sandy To Delay Comic Book Shipments

With Hurricane Sandy set to strike early on in the week, some comic shops may not be getting their comic book shipments on time.

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MidTown Comics, centered in NYC, has already let the news be known that their shipments will not be arriving as scheduled.

SHIPPING ALERT: Orders will be delayed due to Hurricane Sandy.

Please note we do not currently know how much of a delay there will be as this will depend on the severity of the storm, the length of the city shutdown, and other factors. As always we will do our best to get all shipments out as best and as fast as possible.

Thank you and be safe!

As of now, we do not know what other areas of the country are affected, with the areas being hit by Hurricane Sandy along the East Coast being the most likely comic book stores that will see delays.

Hurricane Sandy is already responsible for over 3000 airline flights being delayed as well as closing the stock market and NYC transportation system.

The warm air of Hurricane Sandy from the south will meet with a Nor-Easter coming down from Canada which will bring rain, snow and high winds.

Check with your stores before heading out this week.

Be careful, folks!

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Out Of The Chaos King Comes Order: Interview With Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente

This October the fate of all space and time will be decided when Chaos War begins written by Grek Pak and Fred Van Lente with art by Khoi Pham.

This five issue limited series described as “bigger than the Infinity Gauntlet” and “more cosmic than Annihilation” sees the re-formation of the God Squad, this time consisting of Hercules, Thor, Amadeus Cho, Sersi, Hellstorm, Venus, the cosmic heavy weights Galactus and the Silver Surfer, with the added support of the family of Hulks.

The foe they face may be the Universe’s most dangerous threat — ever. Mikaboshi, the demonic god of evil, wishes to wipe out existence using an army of enslaved space gods.

Cosmic Book News spoke with the writers behind Chaos War, Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, who discussed Hercules, Amadeus Cho, Thor, Mikaboshi the Chaos King, the cast of characters involved and a tease regarding the return of a certain fan favorite cosmic character…a Starlin original? Plus more.

CosmicBookNews: Can you tell us a bit about the Chaos King? With the Silver Surfer and Galactus involved, he must pose a pretty big threat, more so than we have seen of him as Mikaboshi? (Chaos King being Mikaboshi‘s true form finally revealed?) Galactus is said to be from before the Big Bang. Does the Chaos King predate that and is that why Galactus takes notice?

Fred Van Lente: Yes, you are correct – According to Japanese mythology, Amatsu-Mikaboshi is the Void that pre-dated all existence. All existence, even the universe that Galactus originates from. In his original, Terran form, he laid waste to Olympus and killed Zeus in the ARES mini-series.

Since then, and his departure from Earth in Secret Invasion, he has taken over the realm of the Skrull gods and has been engorging himself on the pantheons of other alien races – including the Shi’ar, as seen in Assault on New Olympus. So he is more powerful than ever before – arguably, he’s the most dire threat the Marvel Universe has ever faced.

Greg Pak:  Most supervillains want to rule the world, or maybe the universe.  Not return all existence to the chaos and darkness that existed before creation itself.  The Chaos King is a whole new kind of threat.

Will the Lion Of Olympus have changed since we last saw him? At times we see Herc with a beer in one hand and a girl in the other; will this responsibility of leading the heroes give us a “different” Herc?

FVL: Yes, he will be radically changed. But I don’t want to give away the ending of the current Heroic Age: Prince of Power mini-series to say exactly how.

GP: Let’s just say the entire universe will have to reassess its opinion of Herc.

The newly-crowned Prince of Power, Amadeus Cho, is shown still holding Hercules’ Mace. What part will he take in the coming drama? Will he go back to the “sidekick” role or has he come into his own as of late?

FVL: No, Amadeus is officially the new Prince of Power. When Herc returns he’ll either be demoted to playing second fiddle to Cho … or maybe he’ll be promoted…

In regards to Thor, seeing how he has also faced Mikaboshi, what will his role be? (Judging from the cover of issue one, he and Herc still need to settle their differences.)

FVL: Yes, and you’ll need to read Chaos War #1 to see just how those differences work themselves out. Thor is second only to Herc in being Chaos War’s major character. Big things are involved with him and I’m interested to see the reaction when they’re rolled out.

The family of Hulks will be wrapping their own cosmic battle up with Hiro-Kala in “Dark Son” when they find themselves involved in the Chaos War. Will we be seeing a lot of “Hulk Smashing?”

GP: Absolutely.  Who better than a family of Hulks to throw at a bunch of insane demons and gods?  The Hulks will be fighting the critical second front in the Chaos War against the kind of enemies only the strongest ones there are have a prayer of defeating. Get ready for some mind-bendingly Marvelicious abstract entity exploration as well as a wrenching emotional rollercoaster as the fight gets more personal and brutal than the Hulks ever anticipated.

Although the Chaos War involves the Gods, it also has a Cosmic flavor in that heavy-hitters like Galactus, the Silver Surfer and Sersi will be involved. Are there any other denizens of Marvel Cosmic coming into play along the way, and will this adventure have a mythical feel or a cosmic climate (ala Bob Layton’s recent Herc work)?

FVL: Why yes, several in fact that have not been announced yet – including one whose return cosmic fans have been clamoring for for some time.

GP:  Pip the Troll!  Kidding.  Although now that I think about it…

Can you elaborate at all on any of the other characters in the Marvel Universe that might be involved in the coming Chaos War? We can see members of the Fantastic Four are present, the Avengers and even the X-Men.

GP:  It’s a big, fat story that affects everyone.  Plenty of cameos and starring roles to go around.

Will Lord Chaos and Master Order be involved in this tale or any of the other Marvel abstracts? What about the Celestials or any of the other Eternals such as Ikaris or Makkari?  

GP:  At least one Marvel abstract plays a key role in the “Incredible Hulks” tie-in.  And Sersi plays a huge role on the new God Squad, which debuts in “Chaos War” #2.

What was your inspiration for this current God Squad story arc? Was this something planned from the beginning of Incredible Hercules or did it come about recently?

GP:  Fred and I have been planning this story from the beginning.  Many of the smaller details have shifted around as we’ve developed the tale and the exact timing of everything came together fairly recently, but this is the big massive crossover event we’ve been itching to write for ages.

That being said, it’s entirely accessible to brand new readers.  If you’re hungry for epic Marvel cosmic crossover craziness, we’re ready to heap your plate.

Any connection at all between this and ongoing Thanos Imperative, since some of the same characters are involved on a cosmic stage?

GP:  For fear of spoilers, our lips are sealed.

Thanks for your time. Looking forward to the Chaos War!

Chaos War #1 and #2 hit this October! Look for it!

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It’s Not Your Fault: The DnA Interview

Marvel’s latest cosmic event, The Thanos Imperative, exploded on to the scene with two sell-out titles, The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1 (Brad Walker art) andThe Thanos Imperative #1, from the stellar creative team of Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning (DnA) and artist Miguel Sepulveda.

Issue #2 hit a couple of weeks ago and fans erupted at the site of the Galactus Engine face-to-face against the Marvel Universe’s most powerful. An almost fully powered mad Titan was shown incinerating the Fault Universe’s own Defenders.

Last week, Marvel released a teaser for the upcoming Thanos Imperative #3 featuring the “Galaxy’s Mightiest Heroes.” Side by side stood the Silver Surfer, Nova, Quasar, Gladiator, Ronan and one recent addition: Beta Ray Bill, the Asgard-eque Korbinite.

The San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) begins this weekend with DnA as panelists on Thursday’s Mondo Marvel panel. Cosmic Book News caught up with the Cosmic Duo as they prepared to head Stateside.

We asked a few questions regarding the recent events in The Thanos Imperative, their thoughts on Nova in Secret Avengers and because fans demanded it, Captain Marvel.

Cosmic Book News: Will we be learning how Aegis and Tenebrous came back to life and how they made their peace with Galactus?

DnA: The great “Cosmic Abstracts” move in mysterious ways. Their mortality does not operate the way ours does. We may not explicitly see how they came back to “life,” we just know that the threat of the Cancerverse is so great, any animosity between them and Galactus is shelved for the time being.

Cosmic Book News: Speaking of the Cancerverse, as Thanos gets his power back will we be seeing more of the Many-Angled Ones’ “heroes” trying to stop him?

DnA: That’s a big yes. Yes, indeed!

Cosmic Book News: What can you tell us about the “Galactus Engine,” an entity (?) that seems to dwarf Galactus and the Abstracts as they dwarf us?

DnA: Essentially, as you might suspect, it’s the Cancerverse’s version of Galactus, but bio-engineered by the Many-Angled Gods of the outer dark into an even more extraordinary and apocalyptic mechanism of cosmic annihilation.

Cosmic Book News: It is thrilling that you are adding another cosmic champion, Beta Ray Bill, to the mix with this war against the forces of the Cancerverse. How will this cosmic Thor doppelganger work into the saga? What can you tell us about the “Galaxy’s Mightiest Heroes?”

DnA: In the middle of the extreme frontline battle, Nova finds he needs a small but elite strike force of very heavy hitters for a very specific purpose. Those are the guys he calls up.  What happens next is pure cosmic wow.

Cosmic Book News: Have you been reading Secret Avengers?  What do you think about Nova being part of that team?

DnA: Yes, we have. It’s great, and it’s really nice to see him as part of such an illustrious team, properly recognizing his first division status.

Cosmic Book News: Lastly, anything to say regarding Mar-vell?

DnA: Mar-Vell was one of our favorite cosmic heroes, and we always wanted to have him feature in a story. However, his death was so amazing, one of the all-time best comic book deaths and one of those very few that should NEVER be undone. So it occurred to us that he would make the perfect villain: his Cancerverse self demonstrates how he and the universe itself would have altered if his life and death had run along a different course.

Cosmic Book News: Thanks for your time! Great interview!

Look for “The Galaxy’s Mightiest Heroes” in The Thanos Imperative #3 in stores August 11!

 

RELATED: DnA Crank Things Up: The Thanos Imperative: Igntion

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Review: The Thanos Imperative #1

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Writers:  Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning

Artist:  Miguel Sepulveda

Colorist:  Jay David Ramos

 

Warning:  Contains Spoilers

 

Everything you’ve heard on the net about this comic is true.  It’s a cosmic epic that is already giving the benchmark for comparison, Annihilation, a run for its money.

There are so many special moments in this non-stop thrill ride that it’s hard to know where to start in heaping praise upon writers Abnett and Lanning.  My favorites include Rocket facing down Thanos, Drax donning his old costume, Starlord’s fateful decision to pit Thanos against the Cancerverse, and Nova rushing in to rescue his Corpsmen – even though he is powerless to prevent Nita’s abduction by the Cancerverse Avengers – or as they are dubbed, appropriately enough, “The Revengers.”

Abnett and Lanning have pulled out all the stops for this – their masterpiece tale of the cosmic universe they’ve created over the past three years.  As each chapter unfolds – it becomes evident how current Thanos Imperative events are connected to events springing from Annihilation, Conquest, War of Kings, and Realm of Kings epics; and the Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy ongoing series.  Continuity sticklers have struck the mother load.

The only thing that prevents this comic from attaining a 5-Star rating is the art and coloring.  I found the art to stack up poorly against the art seen in the Ignition prologue.  Sepulveda just doesn’t seem to have the same artistic grasp of the cosmic characters that many of his predecessors on the Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy ongoing series have demonstrated.  To be fair, he has a lot of cosmic characters to draw and he’s not been one of the regular cosmic artists.  Hopefully, over the course of this mini-series he’ll improve as he gets a feel for the characters. Likewise, I found the coloring to be a bit dull – and that also detracted a bit from the exciting events of this book. 

Slight imperfections in art and coloring aside, if issue #1 is any indication, Thanos Imperative is well on its way to becoming a cosmic event that will be discussed and referred back to for many years to come along side such classic cosmic events as The Kree-Skrull War, The Infinity Gauntlet, and Annihilation.  Don’t miss this event.  Add it to your pull list today! 

Article by:  Bill Meneese

Read More about Review: The Thanos Imperative #1

Review: War of Kings: Darkhawk #1

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CREDITS:

WRITER: C.B. Cebulski

PENCILS: Harvey Tolibao & Bong Dazo

INKS: Harvey Tolibao & Joe Pimental

COLORS: Jay David Ramos & Rain Beredo

LETTERS: VC’s Cory Petit

ASSISTANT EDITOR: Michael Horwitz

EDITOR: Bill Rosemann

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Joe Quesada

PUBLISHER: Dan Buckley

COVER PRICE: $3.99

COVER DATE: April 2009

IN STORES: February 4, 2009

SYNOPSIS:

The first story (of two contained in this issue) is a new 22-page story centered on Darkhawk and his situation following his recent appearances in Nova (Vol. 4) #17-19. The story opens with Chris Powell rushing around his bedroom, chiding himself for his current predicament: running late for work. While pondering his anger issues and growing concerns that he may lose control as Darkhawk, Chris rushes downstairs to the dining room where his mother and two brothers are already eating breakfast. Chris has moved back east to his family’s home in New York since becoming the Chief of Security at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. Chris transforms in to Darkhawk and flies off to work, feeling good about himself and his world (yeah, we’ll see how long that lasts!).

Darkhawk arrives at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. and finds problems are waiting for him. Dr. Necker, one of the Project scientists, briefs him about a Skrull booby trap (left over from the Skrull infiltration of Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. during Secret Invasion) bringing down a containment field long enough for X-Ray and Vector of the U-Foes to escape from their cells. Just then, Vector breaks through an adjoining wall and immediately attacks Darkhawk. Goaded by Vector, Darkhawk takes the battle to the air. Vector attempts to rip the amulet from the Darkhawk armor, and the amulet responds by fatally (?) blasting Vector. Darkhawk returns to the ground near where Vector’s body fell, very upset over losing control of the amulet again. Dr. Necker approaches Darkhawk from behind, when he raises up and hits her, saying, “Get away! You can’t have it!” Darkhawk immediately apologizes, explaining that his armor seems to be reacting on its own. Dr. Necker suggests that he let Project personnel study it, but Darkhawk hurriedly leaves, preferring to not let anyone else get hurt.

Some time passes, and Chris shows up at a meeting of the Loners’ support group being held in Manhattan. Mickey (formerly the super-hero known as Turbo) is speaking to the other members when Chris arrives, asking for help. He explains to Mickey and the group about his armor reacting on its own instinct, then reverting back to his control. Mickey and Chris leave the meeting and grab some sushi, discussing Chris’ apprehension about being the subject of tests at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. Mickey recommends that he go through with the testing for his family and for her.

After the meal, Mickey goes with Chris to his house. They talk briefly outside, with Mickey declining Chris’ invitation to come in and meet his family. Just then, the amulet begins glowing red-hot, burning Chris. Before he has time to react, a fireball appears in the sky, headed directly for the Powell home. As it crashes in the Powells’ backyard, Mickey and Chris rush around the house to find a humanoid figure wearing a suit of armor remarkably similar to the Darkhawk armor, complete with its own amulet. As Chris remarks that his amulet was the last one, the figure speaks, saying that is what “Designate Powell” was supposed to believe. From behind them, Chris’ mother and brothers come out to the backyard to see what is happening, and Chris orders them back into the house and to call the Initiative for help.

Chris turns back to the mysterious figure, asking how it knows so much about him. The figure says it is there to save Chris, then reaches out to Chris and touches his amulet, initiating his transformation to Darkhawk. As it does so, it hints at a larger threat requiring the both of them to work together. Darkhawk is stunned, asking the figure how it transformed him. The figure responds by telling Darkhawk there is much he does not know. Another fireball appears in the sky, again headed for the Powell home. The figure exclaims, “No! It’s found us already,” as the fireball lands with great impact, destroying the Powell home. To be continued…!

The second story is a reprint of Darkhawk (Vol. 1, 1991) #1, and is included for historical reference.

NOTES:

The bulk of this issue was exposition and first-person narration from Chris’ point of view, filling in the reader as to what Darkhawk has been up to since he left the Loners and became the Security Chief at Project P.E.G.A.S.U.S. This seems to have given the story the accessibility necessary for the reader who may not have been familiar with Darkhawk; however, it also includes elements for those familiar with Darkhawk to be able to enjoy the story as well, such as the fight with Vector – Darkhawk (with an assist from Daredevil and Captain America) first fought the U-Foes back in Darkhawk (Vol. 1, 1991) #6, so it was nice to see a subtle nod to the older continuity. Given that this is a two-issue mini-series, it seems like it is designed to provide the transition for Darkhawk from Earthbound hero (his role up to now) to cosmic bad-ass (his larger role in the Marvel Universe proper) in fairly rapid fashion. The next issue should illuminate us to the real purpose of the Darkhawk armor, how it is connected to the Shi’ar, and what side he will fight for in the War of Kings. From there, Darkhawk’s story will continue into the War of Kings: Ascension four-issue mini-series, where it seems he will become involved in a skirmish in the Negative Zone (King Blastaar anyone?). I am stoked for this, and can’t wait until War of Kings: Darkhawk #2 (of 2) is released on March 18 to find out more!

Read More about Review: War of Kings: Darkhawk #1

Say Cheese Pizza Company & Comic Book Cafe Grand Island, NY Review

As you exit your car you get the feeling that you are being watched… because you are! “Your friendly Neighborhood Spiderman” clings to the roof of the building you are about to enter, surveying the parking lot for injustice. Walking in you are greeted by ‘the Man of Steel,” surrounded by dozens of comic book …

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