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Review: Convergence: Justice League America #2

CONVERGENCE JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA #2Starring heroes from Crisis On Infinite Earths! Witness the final stand of the Detroit Justice League as they fight to survive against the Tangent Universe!

The Convergence tie-ins generally have followed a formula, heroes get whisked away, and at some point in the first issue they’re presented with the fact they must battle. The second issue is a battle, with some resolution. There are some Convergence tie-ins that break that mold a bit. Convergence: Justice League America #2 sort of breaks the mold… by following the formula.

There’s been lots of Justice Leagues, and some that just don’t get respect, they get snickers instead. Enter, the Detroit Justice League as one of those teams. Writer Fabian Nicieza uses that though. Nicieza is one of the writers I grew up reading, and here he’s taken that classic team, and updated a bit with a lot of modern dysfunction. And that, actually wanted me to see more of this. I want a dysfunctional team that are being heroes, and have something to prove. I enjoy the series that takes the D-list characters and make them a team. Here, it works, and works really well! While there might be the formulaic battle, the team interaction and personalities is what makes the series stands out.

Nicieza is helped with the art of ChrisCross who just nails it. The Tangent characters, the Detroit Justice League, they look fantastic. I love the style, and the art goes well with the story. Can we please make this an ongoing and put these two on it DC? Please?

Convergence is a bit of a hit and miss. The main series is a bit blah, and the tie-ins are hit and miss. This is one tie-in that stands out… a lot. The tie-ins might have a pretty standard formula, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do somethign special to make it stand out, Nicieza shows just how to do that.

Story: Fabian Nicieza Art: ChrisCross
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Graphic Policy Radio talks Age of Ultron with Guest Sarah Jaffe LIVE this Monday

GP Radio pic MondayThis Monday is a brand new episode of Graphic Policy Radio, and we’re going to the movies again. The show airs LIVE this Monday at 10pm ET.

Marvel‘s Avengers: Age of Ultron has already proven itself to be one of the biggest films of the year. The film has already earned $1.2 billion globally. But popularity doesn’t necessarily mean the film has been universally praised. The movie has come under fire for its portrayal of women, the absence of women in tie-in products, and for other issues with the story itself. Joining us for the conversation is Sarah Jaffe.

Sarah Jaffe is a reporting fellow at the Nation Institute and a giant nerd who once upon a time wrote about comics more than she wrote about politics, believe it or not, and she has lots of feelings about superhero movies AND their politics. Follow her on Twitter https://twitter.com/sarahljaffe

So listen in, and join us in the conversation. Call in with your thoughts at (619) 768-2952, or Tweet them to us @graphicpolicy.

Listen in live this Monday at 10pm ET.

Review: Convergence: Green Lantern Corps #2

Convergence Green Lantern Corps #2 CoverStarring heroes from Crisis on Infinite Earths! The Green Lantern Corps is revived when Hal Jordan, John Stewart and Guy Gardner power up and race to take on Hercules Unbound and Anti God from the Great Disaster!

The two issues of this Convergence tie-in has mostly focused on Guy Gardner and his issues with Hal Jordan, and some things that happened to him in the past. But, here’s the thing, I read Green Lantern back in the day, I clearly either didn’t read this, or don’t remember the specifics.

Not know those specifics, it took me out of the series, because Gardner’s PTSD just doesn’t quite hit me at all. THe two issues could have dove heavy into covering the PTSD, and focused on the battles less, but this issue we get battles, including Gardner knocking out some dragon like thing with a bat. I think that really says it all. The battle to wrap up the issue goes quickly, and the possibility that team Green Lantern Corps loses

Convergence has been very hit and miss, this one is a miss for me. Ande Parks and Steve Ellis‘ art is good, but can’t save this issue. I mean seriously… he hits a dragon with a bat! Did I mention that’s while riding a motorcycle? It’s fun to look at though.

If you know the history, the issue might be better. It does take us back to a time when the Green Lantern Corps’ human members were rather dysfunctional. We don’t get enough of that though.

Story: David Gallaher Art: Ande Parks, Steve Ellis
Story: 6.75 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Pass

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Avengers World #21

Avengers World #21The last stand of A.I.M. … in the Savage Land! Thor and Hyperion unleashed! Can Namor survive The Cabal?

While much of the attention for the epic story leading up to Marvel‘s Secret Wars has been on Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers and New Avengers, for the last six issues, writer Frank Barbiere has transformed Avengers World from an “also” series, into one that not only equals Hickman’s main tale, but surpasses it in many ways. This issue is the apex of the series.

While Hickman gives us the main story of time winding down, Barbiere has focused the story on other aspects overlooked, filling in gaps. First Roberto Dacosta’s purchased of A.I.M. and attempt to save the world has been a lot of the story, but the thing I really liked about this issue is something else.

Barbiere has taken the questionable hero Namor and taken him from someone who will cross the line and do whatever it takes to survive into a broken, fallen hero. Namor was attacked and left for dead some time back and since has been running with Thanos’ Cabal, destroying worlds. Up to this point he came off as a strong leader, but we learn things aren’t what we’ve seen, Namor is broken and has become a sympathetic, broken king. As the issue plays out, it becomes clear what we thought was the story isn’t so much. Pieces of the puzzle are put together weaving a tragic tale. Barbiere has brought sympathy for the villain, and at the same time cast Thanos as an even scarier force.

Helping Barbiere is artist Jeff Dekal on cover and Marco Checchetto on interiors, and Andres Josè Mossa on color, all of whose art is jaw dropping. How they are all not headlining numerous series is a crime. The art for these past few issues have been amazing, and they’re all talents that should be headlining some big titles. Expect to see these name a lot over the next few years.

Avengers World is a series that’s flown under the radar, overshadowed by the higher profile Avengers series. Barbiere and Checchetto have turned it into a top tier series that not only entertains, but adds depth in both the greater world building and characters themselves.

Writer: Frank Barbiere Cover Artist: Jeff Dekal Interior Art: Marco Checchetto
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

10353400_661462377292620_5650103949489993553_oFrankly, I don’t remember much of the original Mad Max series, well having seen just the 1st installment many years ago, my memory of the events which transpired is somewhat limited, especially when it comes to more specific elements of the world, so I might be wrong in saying that this sequel/ reboot has some of the most ingenious and in-depth world building I’ve seen anyone accomplish. Even if I’m wrong about that, the post apocalyptic society Miller has constructed in this film gives an insight into what humanity might devolve into after the apocalypse. In a time when superhero films like Avengers or aliens robots beating each other up (Transformer series) are considered action blockbusters, director George Miller has given us something which we could not even imagine from its exciting trailers – a true blockbuster!! George Miller has returned with the some serious firepower at his disposal. Firepower in the form of 150 million dollars and the limitless wonders of modern technology.

FURY ROADMiller fires off this ammunition at full force to create the impossibly vast and intimately gritty world of Max Rockatansky in the grandiose way I think he envisioned it from the start. Upon seeing the first trailer for this film I said it looked like the Mad Max film Miller always wanted to make but didn’t have the tech or the money to accomplish. Seeing the movie in its glorious two-hour entirety affirms that statement. The story follows Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), an ex highway patrolman haunted by his past who after roaming the deserts is captured & held captive in the Citadel, the city where the ruthlessly totalitarian leader Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) is ruling over. The grotesquely brutal lord maintains tight grip of every valuable resources across the land. This brings the entire populace crippling under his control. As for Max, he becomes merely a blood bag for Nux (Nick Hoult) one of Joe’s War Boys, who is a fatal devout to the cause of their fascist leader, who has promised them the glory of getting into Valhalla, the promised land. During a high-octane speed chase, he He meets the Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) who is being pursued by the dictatorial Wasteland leader “Joe”. Furiosa reaches for Max for help in keeping the ‘Five Wives’—women she brought with her—into safety, as Joe’s deranged breed of warriors called The War Boys, that are barely humans, are raging across the desert to capture them. This pursuit throws the unlikely partners into the walloping dangers of bloody escape, suddenly sending them into a game of survival. Much of the movie is spent with furious speed chases that goes from end to end of Joe’s subjugated land, while also taking surprising twists and turns along the way. It’s like it doesn’t know how to stop, and if it does, that’s surely only to allow us breathe and catch up with the next electrifying action set piece. There’s an enigmatic style Miller has employed to provide distinctions in his fantasy world, and it keeps the momentum in tack, if not ever progressing. The tone of the movie, all those vividly dark colors, that magically shifts from something to another, imparts a drowning experience, only it’s enjoying and looks festive to the eyes. This makes every eye-squashing spectacles take mammoth forms of visual extravaganza, turning all those burning combustion, metal blasts, and endless pursuits, from mere technical marvels into a hair-raising escapade.

mad-max-fury-road-tom-hardy-3The action is so brutal and appropriately high-octane. I thought to myself more than once, ‘I think I am loving this more than Terminator 2′ but other than that, there wasn’t time to think. It kicked off fast and barely stopped, and the lulls were amplified by the insanity preceding them. Amid these sanity-grabbing action sequences, though, is an emotional streak that keeps Max and Furiousa’s humanity alive. Hardy is brilliant as the tortured lead character and delivering a believable portrait of his desire to survive the present while mentally enduring his past. He is given minimal dialogue, but is able to become the heart of this post-apocalyptic tale. Interestingly, Hardy is not the primary lead in the film that bears his name. Charlie Theron‘s shining portrayal of Furiosa is the literal and figurative driver of the film. She manages to redefine feminine heroism for film makers. She has strength, purpose and a sacrificial depth that presses the story beyond a mindless chase scene. In a genre that tends to victimize or sexualize the female leads, Miller portrays a strong female lead without any unnecessary feminist underpinnings. In masking her natural beauty, Theron is allowed to develop her strengths and vulnerabilities without making a political statement. Both Hardy and Theron are supported by an excellent supporting cast that moves this experience from a mere adrenaline rush to a story of fighting for your right to live, seeing that sacrifice is part of freedom and ultimately for the hope for redemption. Nicholas Hoult and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley are likeable! Director George Miller delivers a masters class in story telling and stunt driven effects that successfully convey back story, cultural nuance and the justification of these desperate acts of disobedience and violence.

mad max fury roadEven as the fourth outing for this character, we are given a fresh storyline and wealth of new characters for a new generation. Apparently, It is not necessary to see the original films to enjoy this chapter in Max’s adventures, but just for the sake of it I might go back to watch the first two well received films in this anthology. On the whole, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road‘  is a visual masterpiece! It’s an explosive, obscene, grotesque, beautiful movie which is made to satisfy every movie goer! This is a film that needs to be experienced, felt, and forever cherished. This is the best film released all year, well it is the best action film so far this of this decade, and that is no exaggeration. The moment I stepped out of the cinema, all I could feel is “What a lovely day.”

Overall Rating: 9.8

Director – George Miller
Starring – Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult
Rated – R
Run Time – 120 minutes

Movie Review: Gaming in Color

Gaming_In_Color_movie_posterGaming in Color is a documentary exploring the story of the queer gaming community, ‘gaymer’ culture and events, and the rise of LGBTQ themes in video games. A lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or otherwise queer gamer has a higher chance of being mistreated in an online social game. Diverse queer themes in storylines and characters are still mostly an anomaly in the mainstream video game industry. Gaming In Color explores how the community culture is shifting and the industry is diversifying, helping with queer visibility and acceptance of an LGBTQ presence.

Filmed in between GamyerX 1 and GaymerX 2 conferences, the film examines the LGBTQ gaming community, the good, the bad, and the future. The documentary begins focused on the issues within the gaming community and experiences of the gay individuals as gamers. It throws you in the deep end, jumping right into the subject. Each person comes off as very relateable in their experience, no one is abrasive, or comes off bitter or angry. Instead there’s a fine mix of experiences that doesn’t really paint anything negatively, instead it shows things honestly. Personal experiences are hard to refute, and the documentary going that route was a smart decision that changes the tone from an academic one to a human one.

The second part of the movie shifts to focus more on where things stand now. It does show progress from where things were, to where they are today. Again, the positive is emphasized not just showing off some of the LGBTQ games out there, but also why they’re important. The sense of community is strong, and that community is emphasized by a positive tone. They come off as a group that you should want to game with, whether you’re LGBTQ or not. But, while there’s positive advancement in representation, it’s not all the way there, and that’s how the movie ends, where things need to go.

My only knock at all, and it’s minor, is the documentary uses gaming as a general term, shows images of tabletop games, but primarily talks video games. It’s a weird mix, and a distinction between the board game community and video game community might have been good to do.

The documentary is a fine introduction to the LGBTQ game community. We’re not talking a deep academic look, or go too deep into the history or issues. Instead the documentary puts human faces to the experience, showing there’s a real person you’re interacting with through technology.

The documentary is available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, PlayStation, Xbox, Vudu, VHX, Gumroad, and Vimeo. The film will also be coming to steam at a date to be announced. For those interested in LGBTQ issues, or gaming culture, it’s a film that’s an absolute watch.

Overall rating: 8.75

Graphic Policy was provided a FREE copy for review

Review: Convergence: The Flash #2

Convergence-Flash-2 coverStarring heroes from Crisis on Infinite Earths! Barry Allen lashes out against the heroes of the Tangent Universe as he tries to protect Gotham City from Convergence!

The Convergence event to me has been interesting, in that the main series has stumbled, but many of the tie-in series have actually shined. This is one of the better series. The first issue’s focus was primarily on Barry Allen, and how being whisked away for Convergence affected individual’s lives. In Allen’s case he’s been away from his love for a year. Does he try to move on with his life? Does he hold out hope? It’s a touching first part.

Convergence: The Flash #2 moves beyond that and takes us into the battle portion of the event. But, here’s the problem. The loser of the Convergence battle is destroyed, along with their city. But, Barry is key in the classic DC event Crisis on Infinite Earths. If he and his city is destroyed, what does that mean for that iconic event? That’s the quandary that writer Dan Abnett tackles head on. And that’s what makes the issue stand out from the pack.

Abnett slides to the side the battle portion of the event. There’s fighting, but in the end, the victory is achieved through logic, not fists. And in doing so, Abnett gets at the heart of what makes many of the classic DC characters great, that they’re truly heroes who will sacrifice themselves to save the world. It’s an almost pure story in that way, and so refreshing from the at times dark and violent heroes that have become the norm.

Abnett’s helped by artist Federico Dallocchio who does a fine job on art, some of the best of the event. His style is very clean, and is modern, but also has a classic sensibility about it. I’d love to see most of his work after this event is through.

Overall, the two issues are a solid one with a clear vision, voice, and purpose in each issue. This isn’t just some boring battle like some of the tie-ins are. Abnett is a fantastic writer, and these two issues show off how solid he is.

Story: Dan Abnett Art: Federico Dallocchio
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Heartbreak in Convergence: New Teen Titans. Or “The Rise and Fall of Dick Nightwing and the Spiders from Tamaran”

David-Bowie_Early…or the Spiders from Titans Tower. You’ve seen Grayson’s jumpsuit, right? He’s just missing a guitar.

Our latest Graphic Policy Radio podcast guest (and award winning non-comics reporter) Spencer Ackerman and I are both fans of the classic New Teen Titans series by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Upon reading the first issue of this two part book he pointed out to me that in Convergence: New Teen Titans, Cyborg and Beast Boy can EASILY be read as a couple. “In the first scene Donna Troy is writing to Terry [her husband] about how now that they’re trapped under the Dome, all the Titans except her are — her words — “paired up”? Those pairs are shown to be: Kole and Jericho; Nightwing and Starfire; and Cyborg and Beast Boy. Never once does Wolfman explicitly write Gar and Vic as lovers. But that seems to me to be the clearest acknowledgement yet that they’re a couple.”

Convergence New Teen TitansOf issue 2 Spencer wrote “Beast Boy is on the cover in non-animal form, lifting up Cyborg, who easily weighs 300 lbs. It’s obviously the power of their love that puts the strength in Gar’s arms, back and legs. There’s also a scene where Gar is shedding literally a single tear talking about how he can’t lose Vic, who’s “more than a friend.” They chicken out and have Gar add “he’s my brother,” but I don’t think I’m straining to see the queer subtext. It’s 2015, DiDio! We know Gar and Vic are lovers! We embrace it! Stop insulting us!”

I wonder if keeping queer relationships in subtext as opposed to just saying the darn words is a force of habit for Bronze Age writers. Ultimately though, I put the question to the fans: how does this relationship read to you? In this case I put this particular question to queer guys who grew up during the time of the original series. I argue that their relationship is real to the extent that you guys identify with it. “Authorial intent for serialized stories is nonsense. Shatterstar isn’t straight because Rob Liefeld tweets that he is…” quoth Spencer.

Marv Wolfman’s New Teen Titans are gloriously soapy and always have been. They’re the DC Comics version of Claremont’s New Mutants and having them back again is quite a gift. Especially with Dick Grayson’s historical retro-before-its-time Glam Rock Super Hero Jump Suit and Kole’s Studio 54-worthy lurex shimmery accordion pleats (I’d wear it). Joey’s mutton-chop sideburns are flawless.

Issue 1 of this mini series was a wonder. Nicola Scott is the perfect artist for this book — she draws elegant, expressive faces with realistic and compelling facial expressions. Unlike in most comics, no two characters’ faces are alike! Other artists, please take note. The colors by Jeromy Cox are almost flat enough for this to feel like a real bronze age book.

I feel bad poking holes in the generous gift that is the Rise and Fall of Dick Nightwing & the Spiders from Tamaran but after a promising issue 1 I had to re-read issue 2 in disbelief a few times and was left shaking my head in confusion over the plot, parts of the dialog and the total lack of a conclusion.

donnatroyyourethebestThe scenes between Kole and Joey in issue 2 are either confusing or disturbing. In issue 1 she asks Donna if Joey might be gay, Donna gives her classic big sister style advice in the most adorable way before single-tearing over her absent husband (I love you Donna, never change). But then in issue 2 Kole kisses Joey while he’s semi-conscious and Joey immediately pushes her away. Joey makes his lack of consent very clear. Then the next time they are together she turns his oil painting into a mixed media piece and they hug. What is going on?!? Kole acts as if some personal conversation had occurred in between her molesting Joey and messing with his painting and hugging him.  Maybe I’m just bad at reading his body language but I have no idea what he communicated with her in that painting scene. Did she ask for forgiveness for touching him non-consensually? Did he come out to her? Did he signal “no I don’t date people who kiss me when I’m unconscious but let’s hug and pretend things are normal?” Because either way, it must have been off panel. I ask both a rhetorical question and as a regular question: what the hell is going on?!

Schirn_Presse_Glam_Karl_Stoecker_Brian_EnoOh, the things we’ll do to read a comic with glam rock costume Dick Grayson. He’ll beat the bad guys and then play a smoking hot solo. The comic comes to an abrupt  end, even with the sound of a record skip. It’s end is bizarre and un-fulfilling even for a wacky cross-over event. I just don’t buy what passes for a relationship resolution between Kory and Dick in issue 2. Dick doesn’t trust her and he is patronizing. I suspect they’ll be making like David and Angie Bowie and splitting off camera. Maybe he’ll move to Berlin and hang out with Brian Eno and other feathered jumpsuit enthusiasts.

Spencer tapped his superior knowledge of the original series to construct the following supporting argument for a Garth and Victor relationship that precedes this continuity: “When Cyborg first gets seriously injured, Gar is shown keeping a bedside vigil and crying. Gar is constantly and loudly proclaiming his sexual desire for women in a really closet-y way, but when (during Geoff Johns’ run) Raven decides she’s into Gar, Gar finds all manner of awkward excuses to keep her away. Meanwhile, all of Vic’s attempts at relationships with women fail, often the result of him loathing himself — seemingly because he hates his quadriplegia… but, y’know, maybe he hasn’t come to terms with another aspect of himself as well.  The only times either Cyborg and Beast Boy* are shown to be happy are when they’re with one another.”

Teenage Superheroes in Love.  Unless you’re Kole. What the fuck Kole, what the fuck.

Review: Justice Inc. Avenger #1

JusticeAvenger01-Cov-A-RossRichard Henry Bensen is a cold (quite literally in fact), calculating, iron man… no that’s taken… man of steel… shoot… well he’s a man, whom, in a freak unspecified accident has become a part man, part metal, all crime-fighting private detective.

Justice Inc. Avenger #1 resembles a mash-up of Sherlock Holmes, Tales from the Crypt and maybe just a dash of Scooby-Doo.

As our brave hero uses logic and cunning to first outwit a group of Italian mafioso’s on a train, and then to track down the ghost terrifying old women in a rough part of town, we are introduced (briefly) one by one to his partners in crime-fighting. We also get a little taste of Benson’s history. A glimpse into the pain that wrought the metal-man into the grey-faced hero with eyes of ice and fire.

This series from Dynamite Entertainment is dark, gritty and told with a vocabulary not seen often in action comics. It’s a great pick for the more linguistically incline readers. it has all thee makings of an action-mystery comic with lots of room to grow. The team that surrounds Benson seem to be the tops of their fields and I hope they get their time in the spotlight in future issues.

Story: Mark Waid Art: Ronilson Freire
Story: 7 Art: 8 Overall: 7.7 Recommendation: Read

Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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