Author Archives: Mr. H

Review: Batman Beyond #19

*Warning Spoilers Ahead*

“The Long Payback” Finale 

It sure has been a while since I dove into to the world of Neo Gotham. Batman Beyond may be one of my favorite franchises of all time. I know I know it’s got Batman in it. (shocker) but even more than Batman, I seem to love the character of cranky old Bruce Wayne. He has resonated with me in some form or other since the late 80’s when The Dark Knight Returns (which just so happens to be the greatest comic book of all time imo) came out. I’ve always found an over the hill and beaten and war torn Dark Knight fascinating.

So naturally when the epic trio of Paul Dini, Bruce Timm, and Alan Burnett came up with the idea of a young Batman aided by a cranky old Bruce Wayne, I was enthralled. I remember watching the prime time premiere with eyes and jaw wide open. It was slick. It was cool. It was, in a word… schway. From the character designs to the magnificent voice acting, (Will Friedle, Kevin Conroy) it truly is a 90’s gem. I digress though. Even though Batman Beyond has existed in comic book form before, it has never lived up to what I felt the spirit of that incredible animated series was. That is, until now.

When DC Comics announced a new Batman Beyond series back a few years ago, I had some mixed feelings. These fictional characters are some that are near and dear to my heart and I don’t want to see them done any injustice. Luckily when I learned that Dan Jurgens was going to be writing, those feelings started to subside. Bernard Change started with art duties but have now passed them on to Phil Hester. I feel he is a great choice for art in the Blade Runner-ish world of Neo Gotham. Since his run on Green Arrow long ago, Phil Hester has always been a talent I am proud to follow.

Anyways on with the show, the reason I have picked up the title again is the solicits said they were introducing a new Robin. I’m a sucker for Robin. So this was the perfect launchpad back on the future Bat Train for me. Unfortunately it is the last part of a story called “The Long Payback”, however even though I missed all the previous chapters. I feel I did not miss much.

The gist is this: Terry (Batman) is trapped by a new villain who calls himself Payback (clever huh, yawwwn) who blames Terry for the death of his younger son and wants to torture him. The only chance Terry has, is Bruce suiting up his younger bro as the new Robin to get him out alive. Now that sounds like a paper thin plot right there (and it is) but there are moments between the obvious that make it quite enjoyable. One part I loved was the outright objection of Dana (Terry’s gf) telling Bruce that some one should have reported him to child services a long time ago for allowing yet another young child into his never ending war. She brings up the fact he could have contacted the police or even the Justice League but for some reason he didn’t. I really liked this because it brings up an important part of Bruce’s character. It focuses on his constant obsession of knowing what is right for Gotham. No matter what the cost.

At this point Bruce is confined to a wheelchair and has to deal with the fact that he is no longer able to be a mobile guardian in any capacity. The fact that he sends young Matt McGinnis into battle without being properly trained is curious. I love Robin as much as any character (Damian being my favorite) but sending Matt into such a dangerous situation certainly raises questions. Ones that will be answered down the line.

For the most part the issue is pretty paint-by-numbers with the exception being the Bruce and Dana stuff in the Cave. I have to say though, Matt’s Robin costume on the cover is a striking image and very cool interpretation. I always loved robin with a hood and more muted colors. This suit on the cover pays homage to both Tim Drake and Damian’s time as the Boy Wonder. Hood? Check. Mask. Check. Throw in a sick hoverbike and you are good to go.

I don’t want to ruin the issue for anyone completely, only to say it is nothing you haven’t most likely seen before. It was very reminiscent of Tim Drake’s first official appearance as Robin wayyyy back in Batman #457. The covers showing Robin racing to Batman’s aid, only to pull a little bit of a swerve in the actual issue itself. All in all not a bad way to open a new chapter in the bat sidekick mythos, but it left me wanting much much more. Here’s hoping there is a lot more Matt Bat action to come.

Story: Dan Jurgens Art: Phil Hester Inks: Ande Parks
Story: 6.5 Art: 8.0 Score: 7.3 Recommendation: Pass (unless you are a Robin enthusiast)

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Just for fun here is Tim Drake’s first cover appearance as Robin below. See if you can draw comparisons.

Cover

Awesome Con 2018: Bats, Knights, and Art with Sean Murphy

Sean Gordon Murphy is one of the most popular comic artists working today having created visually stunning worlds in Joe the Barbarian, The Wake, Punk Rock Jesus, Tokyo Ghost, Chrononauts, and more. Murphy is taking on writing duties (which he also did for Punk Rock Jesus) giving a new take on Batman and the Joker in his eight issue limited series Batman: White Knight.

We got a chance to talk to him at Awesome Con which took place in Washington, DC at the end of March.

Graphic Policy: I work for Graphic Policy. We do a combination of politics and comics, and I believe that is what peaked your interest when we crossed paths back in August.

Sean Murphy: Yes.

Graphic Policy: Today Sean I don’t want to talk about elections or SJW’s though. I’d like to talk to you about what we couldn’t talk about then: Batman: White Knight.

SM: Yeah.

GP: What you’ve done is flip the entire dynamic on its head. You have decided to make the Jack Napier aka The Joker, the savior of Gotham. Where did that come to you?

SM: Well as a kid I was always a big fan of the animated series (though not really a giant Joker fan) but always thought there was so much more potential to him if he could just get rid of his craziness. I felt he could be a much more effective adversary to Batman, and maybe even be smart enough to expunge his record and possibly get Gotham to forgive him. When I first pitched this, DC said “there’s no way Gotham would elect the Joker for public office.” After the 2016 election, they said “Okay, maybe they would.”

GP: Oh absolutely.

SM: I don’t mean for it to sound like I’m taking a political stand or anything. That is just sort of how it happened.

GP: No, no not at all. I think it is a brilliant take. I like the idea. One thing that you introduced is, and I’m not sure if it was intentional or not to highlight the Joker, but Batman is more of a dick than usual. (laughs)

SM: (laughs) Well Alfred died, and he’s got this Jason Todd thing that happened. I mean he’s only human. So we got to give him a break.

GP: Yeah. I also love the twist you’ve added with Mr. Freeze knowing the Waynes and tying in to that mythos. Obviously this story has a beginning and an end. I mean we all know the Joker will be back true to form at some point. Do you think though had things been truly different and given the chance, that he could have been the White Knight of Gotham?

SM: Well in a way, I think he already is. He really woke everyone up. Yes he started out as a villain with nefarious intentions and he did have an agenda, but throughout the book I think even Jack Napier is surprised at how much more of a good guy he became. He’s not perfect –  in issue 7 he’s forced to admit he’s been rigging the game all along. He did manage to give Gotham a reality check that they were never going to have. At least certainly not with Batman. He’s fixed a lot and put people to work and rebuilt things. As much as Gordon and Batman may hate to admit it, he really did fix a lot of things.

GP: Right, kind of like Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight.

SM: Yeah, yeah exactly.

GP: Tell me, is it so much more freeing to not be bogged down by the continuity of monthly events?

SM: Yes. What was good as with this project there wasn’t a lot of oversight. Not much from my editors at DC. I essentially gave them five finished issues and they were like “Okay, this isn’t what we were expecting – and some of it would probably not have been approved, but it is not in continuity, so we’re just going to publish it and see what happens.” That freedom- while also respecting the character and understanding what readers will tolerate- is kind of what made it a hit I think.

GP: Lots of people refer to your artwork as a very European style. Certainly it is different, what are your influences?

SM: Oh yeah. In broad strokes, the style is generally European. With a little bit of Manga thrown in.

GP: I actually see a lot of Akira.

SM: Akira sure, European artists and actually some South American artists. It really is a mix of a lot of things I like.

GP:  Well it shows. Thank you Sean for your time and everything. Much success to you at the Con.

SM: You’re welcome. Take care.

Review: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #25

*Minor Spoilers Ahead*

Okayyy so first off as a big fan of the MMPR franchise, I am thrilled to see the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic series getting the big fan fare here. It is a very well done series and writer Kyle Higgins has done what no other show or movie has: Made the Rangers cool again. He has modernized the franchise and yet kept the heart and soul of all these characters from my childhood that I remember so fondly. I was hooked when his issue #0 came out a few years ago and his momentum hasn’t stopped. I think a big part to his success is that he gives the book a much more adult feel than the typical Saturday morning TV show we were all used to in our heyday.

Higgins is very smart where he started the series off and that is with the introduction of everyone’s favorite bad guy turned good: The Green Ranger. Unlike the TV show and no disrespect to the best Ranger portrayal of all time Jason David Frank (who also tirelessly promotes this series as well as created a YouTube short with writer Kyle Higgins as a promo for this spectacular issue ) there is not a lot of maniacal laughter, mostly pure menace. The art style of the series is very bright and bouncy and fluid thanks to the talent that BOOM! Studios has assembled.

Along with his fast introduction of fan favorite Tommy Oliver aka the Green Ranger, Higgins has also created a new character with tremendous mainstream appeal: Lord Drakkon. Lord Drakkon is essentially an evil Tommy Oliver who stayed in Rita Repulsa’s employ and allowed the power to corrupt him completely and he murdered the remaining Power Rangers. Yes, murdered. The subject matter in this series has just jumped up a few notches from the beloved show we are used to. Higgins also manages to make the Rangers feel like real high school students and not bubbly bouncy cut outs drinking soda pop in their downtime. What I enjoy most is that instead of trying to make this a solely accessible series to new readers, the creative team has the respect for long time MMPR fans and instead pulls the original audience forward. You can always tell when a writer has love for the source material and no doubt Kyle Higgins has it in multiple.

Without any further gushing, as you crack open the cover to this issue we see the Space Power Rangers Team on their ship being encountered by a strange disturbance in the Time Stream. The disturbance turns out to be a large energy projection of Lord Drakkon who reaches out and either crushes the Space Rangers ship, or traps it in his hand for later. We do not yet know. What we do know, is that Jason Scott aka The Red Ranger is in a very heated argument with Grace who works with the Promethia agency, about the escape of one of their captives: Lord Drakkon himself, Tommy Oliver. Jason is pissed that Drakkon’s capture was kept secret from the Rangers as they know how deadly he is and they could have helped. Now with Drakkon on the loose again, the whole world is in serious jeopardy. When we last left Drakkon his Morpher and Power Coin were damaged, so he is no doubt going to try and repair them or get the power back some other way.

Without spoiling the book we are treated to a few shocking scenes that fans of the franchise will not see coming. They are too good to ruin here. Trust me. While it seems like this issue would get a near perfect score for me, unfortunately it does not. While the writing is stellar to be sure, I have some gripes, particularly with the art. Artist Daniele Di Nicuolo with Simona Di Gianfelice just fall a little short here in my opinion with their ultra stylized interpretation. Sure the action sequences shine, but when it comes to talking head scenes it’s too static for me. I love all the panels of the Rangers suited up but when they are in civilian mode, it is sort of just meh. However my biggest artistic gripe, what the Hell is up with that Zordon?? He looks like Professor X in a tube. There is nothing Zordon like at all in his rendering. Yeah yeah I know, a bald blue guy floating head doesn’t really lend you much to work with. (Sorry David Fielding and Dr. Manhattan) I just couldn’t stop seeing Charles Xavier and it really irked me, as most of the art in this series so far has made Zordon have a more traditional look.

Still with that detail aside, I loved this book. This was the opening part to the anticipated “Shattered Grid” event and it did not disappoint. Especially the end! Do not allow yourself to be spoiled. If you like MMPR go get this book. If you can find it that is, because it is selling out like crazy everywhere due to the collectible variant covers that were created for this issue. I especially like how it comes in a sealed black polybag so you don’t know what cover you get, unless you commit blasphemy and open it. It is very reminiscent of Superman #75, and I have no issue with that.

So go out there, teleport to your nearest local comic shop (who you should always support when you can) get the issue, and meet me back here next month when it most definitely is Morphin Time!!

Story: Kyle Higgins Art: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Color: Walter Baiamonte Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Cover Artists: Polybag: Deron Bennett Main Cover Intermix Covers A-G: Goñi Montes
Subscription Cover H: Jordan Gibson Incentive Cover I: Scott Koblish
“Match To” Unlockable Cover J: Humberto Ramos “One Per Store” Unlockable Cover K: Goñi Montes
Story: 9.5 Art: 7.0 Score: 9.0  Recommendation: Must Buy

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Action Comics #999

*Spoiler Warning*

“What would Superman Do”

I have to say that right from the get go that the title of this story is slightly different from the bombastic “The Fury of General Lane” tag we get on the cover. Comics used this tactic in the 80’s and 90’s now in the 21st century I just like as little advertising on the covers to allow for the art and story content to speak for itself. Speaking of the cover, it’s a striking one, but nothing that really pops out and screams to me “you must have this book”. Surprisingly so, as cover artist Brett Booth is one of the talents that carried a lot titles in the 1990’s most notably Heroes Reborn and Fantastic Four for Marvel Comics. Now again, I’m not bagging on the cover it just doesn’t do it for me.

However, turn the page to the story inside and it resounds with me a bit better. Artist Will Conrad does a really good job of giving us a good Jon and Lois to start off. The large coke bottle glasses on young Jon is a nice touch and gives him an even more normal appearance. The only issue I had with the art and my apologies as I haven’t picked up this title and quite a bit (but I’m a sucker for big annual issues and this was the last one before it sooo) is the appearance of General Lane. I had to look a few times as I thought he was the recently resurrected Jor-El but with a regenerated eye. I’m not sure if this is artistic choice but he sure does look damn youthful. Then again pretty much everyone in the New 52 and Rebirth era do.

As for the story, it would appear that Sam Lane is visiting his daughter Lois and his grandson Jon. Right from the beginning you can sense the tension as the General is particularly critical of his daughters success and how it sometimes comes about at the sacrifice of national security. I really liked this exchange here as it shows real people, family no less at odds with social and political opinions. This is something we can all relate to in this day and age. Characterizations like this flesh out these people more as too many times we have gotten the overused super overprotective father to Lois who wants to keep her safe and bla bla bla. I’m please writer Dan Jurgens did not go that route here. However Lois’s tenacity is not the only gripe he has. They then begin to discuss the big elephant in the room: Superman.

This is where the issue gets interesting because it raises a lot of moral questions with Superman. In a nut shell, Lois of course sternly defends her Super husband as he stands for truth, justice and all that other stuff. While Sam takes a different approach and is aware of Big Blue’s accolades but he worries about a time where Superman may not be so benevolent. Given all the times this has occurred in the DC Universe before, you can’t really blame the guy. He tells Lois it is his mission to defend Earth from the threats that haven’t even been created yet. A very Lex Luthor and Tony Stark approach I must say.

Not only are Sam and Lois going back and forth, but Jon finds himself right in the thick of it and of course is very pro Superman. Why wouldn’t he though? He’s only the super powered offspring of Superman and Lois. It was enjoyable to see him defend his father. Well as much as he possibly could without blowing the family secret.

The rest of the issue is comprised of Superman removing an asteroid and undoing something his father did along time ago. It was nice to see Superman have moral conflictions with Jor-El’s choices and this is why we love him for the hero he is. In reversing Jor-El’s decision, he brings back a character that I was quite shocked to see him receive the mercy treatment. Again this is just an example of the exemplary handle that writer Dan Jurgens has on Superman. I’ve always been on board with his characterization since the 90’s. The decision he makes is one that at first I was starkly against but then as it played out I could see the reasoning. This is one of those things I like in comics. When done right, it makes you question things. I enjoy that when, it is not just a book with pictures and POW and BADOOM everywhere. It adds a nice layer. Aside from the decision he makes as Supes, Clark also gets some shine time here, as the Kent/Lane family reunion takes place and it is handled in a very Superman esque way.

Now unless you cant count, or have been living in the Phantom Zone, you know that the next issue is the granddaddy of them all: Action Comics #1000. Never before has a comic been followed with so many zeroes. Perhaps never again. I know Detective Comics is close, but with all the trend of renumbering and publishing new number ones, I’m looking at this like the one and only. To say I am excited for that book is an understatement. Now with that being said, because the next book is the be all end all, I couldn’t help being underwhelmed here. It wasn’t filler by any means and was a good little story but it did nothing to amp my excitement for next issue. I guess they can’t all be super.

Now if you excuse me, I’m going to put my Blu-ray copy of Superman: The Movie on in preparation for the big 1000. Also I will be humming the John Williams score until then.

Story: Dan Jurgens Art: Will Conrad Color: Ivan Nunes
Story: 7.0 Art: 7.5 Score: 8.0 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Amazing Spider-Man #797

spidey797

*Warning Spoilers Below*

Well here we are, and the clock is on for the first part of “Go Down Swinging.” After ten years Spidey scribe extraordinaire, Dan Slott‘s time is wrapping up on the ol’ web head. I was so pumped to read this issue as the solicits billed this as “The last battle between Spidey and The Green Goblin”. Now as a long time reader, I know this is likely untrue but still there is nothing in that sentence that I don’t like. The Green Goblin happens to be my all time favorite Spider-Man villain and is in top contention for my favorite comic book villain of all time. I have thoroughly enjoyed the many incarnations of Norman Osborn, from Green Goblin, to Iron Patriot, Director Osborn of H.A.M.M.E.R, The Goblin King and now the latest greatest moniker: The Red Goblin.

Opening this book from the cover gave me that feeling I was about to read something of tremendous magnitude. It’s the same feeling I got when I have read every great Spidey/Goblin encounter from Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #39 & #40 and Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) 121 & 122 and Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #75 and countless others. Nothing says big fight feel more than a clash between Peter Parker and Norman Osborn. To say I was excited is an understatement. (It might also helped that I received my Mezco Spider-Man quite recently, so my Spidey-Sense is at an all time high) Right away I noticed the opening panel of Stormin’ Norman (remember when Spidey called him that?) appearing to be in a hideaway of sorts in an all too familiar position of bragging about his conquest over his hapless foe. (Jeez I am full of retro speak today) Now at the beginning of the issue we don’t actually see who Ol’ Normie is talking to, but if you pay close attention to the dialogue before the end of the issue you will have figured it out. He does make his intentions crystal clear though. He is going to end Spider-Man once and for all.

From the opening scene we then transition to the apartment of comics most famous redhead: Mary Jane Watson where she is um, busy with Mr. Lucky himself: Peter Parker. In between the physical they reminisce of old times and then the mood gets a bit more sullen where once again MJ realizes she cannot be committed to Peter as he will always be Spider-Man. More so she would never want him to stop being Spider-Man as the guilt would destroy him if something happens because of his focus on her instead of the lives he saves. She tells him she will always love him but she wants more. So instead she opts that they stay friends and then tells him to leave out the window as it is easier to explain since she is Tony Starks’ right hand woman now if Spidey dropped by instead of Peter. (Talk about ouch!) Peter of course obliges and then he is on his merry way. Now normally this kind of scene wouldn’t make me bat an eye, but the emphasis and emotion they presented it in makes me think Peter might have been saying goodbye for the last time. I hope that I am wrong but we all know how much writers like offing Spidey’s woman pals.

I want to take the time to illustrate a point here about the illustrator’s wonderful work on this scene. I have been a big fan of Stuart Immonen ever since he drew Superman in the mid 90’s. I also have his entire run on Ultimate Spider-Man (After Mark Bagley) all bias aside I feel like we are getting his best work here. Mary Jane and Peter look absolutely fantastic and the magnificent colors by Marte Gracia just make this pop off the page. Amazing work all around. There have been countless artists who have worked on Spider-Man over the years (John Romita Sr., John Romita Jr. Mark Bagley, Sal Buscema, just a few of my faves) but I think Stuart Immonen draws one of the best contemporary Spider-Man’s around. His lines and panels have such life in them. I absolutely love his rendition of Norman Osborn as it is top notch stuff. I feel like he put so much “A game” in this issue that by the end of the arc we are going to view a classic.

Enough gushing about the pretty pictures I can also blab on about the words, where after a few lackluster issues the past couple months, Dan Slott is back in rare form. The menace he puts in Norman’s dialogue really drives it home. Norman is smarmy, confident, and ruthless. Finally we have the full Norman back! To me one of the highlights of the issue was where Norman’s captive was taunting him saying “You physically can’t turn into the Green Goblin now. You’re a nobody. A Nothing. “Normal Osborn.”  It was here I figured out who the ID of the captive was. This was clever dialogue and the type of classic remark this character would make in defiance. Unbeknownst to the captor though, the Carnage Symbiote which has now bonded to Norman, removed the blocks that didn’t allow him to access his Goblin persona and Normie is now more dangerous than ever. Moments like this show why Dan Slott is my favorite writer on Spider-Man and I will sorely miss him. There are other moments that stand out like the showdown between Phil Urich, the would be “Goblin King” and Norman but I won’t ruin that here. Also for those wondering, yes Norman does indeed Goblin-Suit Up.

Bottom line, the issue was a delectable appetizer for what will no doubt be a delicious main course. To bring back the echoes of comic editors of yesteryear, “If you only read one Spidey – Story this year, this is it!” It has everything you can want in a big time Spider-Man tale. (Dan Slott also wrote Big Time Spider-Man just fyi) This comic has already been flying off the shelves and pre-orders and it is very easy to see why. I loved it and it will only get better. The only bad thing is the wait till the next issue arrives. My final thought, screw getting a Marty McFly hover board some day, I want my damn Goblin Glider!

Catch you next time True Readers!

PS: That Alex Ross cover art thwips!

Story: Dan Slott Art: Stuart Immonen Ink: Wade Von Grawbadger
Color: Marte Gracia Letterer: VC’s Joe Carmagna
Story: 9  Art: 9.5  Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Must Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #300

Peter_Parker_The_Spectacular_Spider-Man_Vol_1_300

“Showdown”

Well here we are at a time honored tradition in the comic book world: “The Milestone.” Like in life, the milestone marks an important point on a journey. Now 300 issues of a comic book series in this day and age is not unheard of, nor is it anything to sneeze at. Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man in some form or another has been around for quite a few decades. It has been hampered by end publication, reboots and various other situations but late in 2017 the comic has reverted back to its original numbering with 297 and now here we are at the prestigious issue 300.

Truth be told I had given up this title a long time ago but I have always had a soft sport for it. After all, in the 1990’s, this comic was my favorite title. I grew up on the saga of Harry Osborn as the Green Goblin and Spectacular Spider-Man # 200 is one of my favorite comics of all time. Yes all time. (If you haven’t read that issue I highly suggest you do, it illustrates friendship fantastically and has one of the most touching endings to a comic book ever) However back to the business at hand, milestones are one of comic book publishers’ sneaky little tricks that always draw me back in and I got caught in the web yet again. (I will try to make that my last web related pun here)

So having not read this title for a bit, I did a quick run through and got the gist. Here’s the skinny: Peter Parker, the formally global mogul of Parker Industries is now back to his friendly neighborhood self and has gotten reacquainted with some old pals in the form of Johnny Storm (The Human Torch) and J Jonah Jameson (yes that is right, Jonah is now Peter’s brother in law and also knows his secret ID, try to keep up). Peter has a long lost thought sister Teresa Parker who has been gone since she first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man: Family Business one shot quite a while back. Well guess what? She’s baaaaack. To add to the family fun, we got introduced to a new character who is having family issues as well in the guise of the Mason who is the supposed brother of very long time Spidey foe, Phinias Mason: The Tinkerer. Unlike his evil brother, The Mason uses his advanced tech to create new gadgets and assistance for the Superhero Community, instead of the Villain society. Or so we thought.

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In the meantime, there’s a pretty Gwen variant cover to look at.

Due to some hardboiled sleuthing by JJJ (J Jonah Jameson, not gonna keep typing that out) he and us the dear readers, find out that The Mason is a fraud. He is actually The Tinkerer using a giant robot body to fool the heroes and gain access to their ID’s and tech. JJJ tries to stop Tinkerer and warn everyone but does what he’s always done, namely screws it up. Gotta love hardboiled JJJ though! While this is going on we have Spidey getting pummeled by a squad of his most hated B-Stringers who are now upgraded to the nines by the Tinkerer’s new toys. However being a Superhero is not without its perks as a few of the Avengers show up to aid our friendly quipping punching bag. Hawkeye, The Vision, Black Panther and Ironheart all join to enter the fray. The catch though, they don’t have access to their most powerful tech as the Tinkerer has corrupted it due to them being so trusting. Oh well no matter, they proceed to do battle the old fashioned way.

This part was very cool to me as it proves once again for the umpteenth time, the very best heroes don’t need the gadgets or the special tech costumes, just themselves to get the job done. This notion gets illustrated with a touching conversation between Spidey and Riri Williams (Ironheart) in the issue that actually made me a bit of a fan of Riri and now I want to read more. What made this more memorable is the art from Adam Kubert (of the legendary Kubert art family) and Juan Frigeri. They just make every panel pop. The visuals never seem lazy or boring and we are not treated to a bunch of talking head. Like the climax in every great action movie, they keep the story going at a frenetic pace. The art was a joy to take in and the kind of thing you want on a big milestone issue.

However the issue is not without faults. The writing and plot by Chip Zdarsky at the beginning to the middle was very good and then once the special guest star shows, it goes awry. I’m not a huge fan of clichés in comic books and this issue had a few of them. I know that this is serving as a springboard to the next adventure but it really just left me very meh. We have the team of Peter, Jonah, and probably sis Teresa rushing off for a world saving adventure. See that would be fine for me if it was the sole story, but as for the wrap up to the “Most Wanted” arc, I felt like it was in a bit of a rush. It didn’t give me the conclusion I wanted, especially for an issue with a number like 300 attached to it.

There was much to like about this book but it gets weighed down by the meh. Art wise it was great where the story was just kind of wrapped to get you to the next one. There is a decent and cute Spidey and Black Cat short story as a backup but nothing of large note. As with many milestone issues, this book comes with array of variant and special covers that rate from okay to stunning and those are always cool even if they are gimmicky. I dipped my toe in for this one but hard to say if I will be back next month. Guess we will just have to wait and see. Till next time True Readers!

Story: Chip Zdarsky Art: Adam Kubert, Juan Frigeri
Color: Jason Keith Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Editor: Nick Lowe Associate Editor: Devin Lewis Assistant Editor: Tom Groneman
Story: 6.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 6.74 Recommendation: Read

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Walker Stalker Con Boston 2017: Talking walkers, faith and everyday life with Seth Gilliam

Back in the Summer I was able to navigate the herd of lumbering craze filled zombie fanatics that occupied the famous Westin Hotel in Boston and get a few moments with man behind the apocalyptic collar for The Walking Dead: Seth Gilliam.

Graphic Policy: I am here for Graphic Policy to interview the talented Seth Gilliam who currently plays Father Gabriel on AMC’s The Walking Dead and I thank for you time today, first off how was the flight into Boston?

Seth Gilliam: Well actually it was delayed but I’m hoping things roll on more positive as we go.

GP: I hope that for you as well. So for those who are unfamiliar with your work, you play Father Gabriel on the hit show The Walking Dead. 

SG: Yes I do.

GP: You play a very interesting character who has gone through a tremendous arc since he was introduced. That is the fascinating thing about The Walking Dead is not necessarily the Zombies themselves or walkers, but rather the people and what they go through. You actually play a priest. So I wanted to know, Are you a man of faith yourself?

SG: Yes. I do believe in God. I don’t know if my faith is called into question to the level that Father Gabriel’s has been though.

GP: Interesting. Would you say there is anything so far on your time filming this show that has helped you or you now apply to your every day life?

SG: Hmmm. Not really. It’s not like my every day life is chock full of dead people or anything. So in that respect there is not too much from the show you can apply to everyday life. It’s not like MacGuyver where I would learn how to make a bomb out of a toothbrush or shoe laces with a spoon or nothing like that. (chuckles) I don’t really know if daily affirmations apply in the role I play.

GP: Were you a fan of this genre before you got assigned to play this character? Was it something you sought out and wanted to be a part of?

SG: Actually I’m not really a big horror fan. Or a big gore fan. I’m pretty squeamish actually. I guess I would prefer Sci-Fi. I really like kitchen sink dramas above and beyond. The Walking Dead though is really like a kitchen sink drama once you remove the walkers. It’s about a bunch of people and where they go from where they start off. I mean it is not like a soap opera and where events get sped up to the extreme. However The Walking Dead does sort of fast track people because of the walkers and their situations it does speed it up a little more than normal.

GP: What does being in Fan Fest and not necessarily you being a fan of the genre but rather the people and the atmosphere. What does it mean to you?

SG: This is actually pretty cool. It feels like before I’d be invited to a party and they’d be like hey “Who is that guy?”  Now it’s like I am me and me is my costume and to see people react to it the way they do and the level of excitement that they have for the genre, it’s like anything else. I mean looking at these lines and how it makes people feel reacting to the films they’ve seen or the tv shows they’ve seen the energy is so fantastic. It’s been really upbeat and really positive and everyone seems happy to be here, and I kind ride off their energy especially if you been working long or your flight’s been delayed.  (laughs) You just got to settle into town and wait to see the energy of the people that they bring to you, you know it is pretty cool.

GP: In other words, it’s special.

SG: Yeah it really is.

*Greg Molina: I have just one question,  from a youth empowerment perspective what can you speak to about people facing their fears and anxieties?

SG: You know it’s a horribly confusing experience growing up. I know it was for me. I tried and took solace in acting. It was something I could focus on. It was something I could I do and build my sense of self worth and self esteem. I think it is important for kids to try and find one thing, just one thing they can relate to, that you can make your own and throw yourself into when things get overwhelming or chaotic it certainly is helpful. If there is anything, dance, writing, drawing, acting anything that is a creative outlet. Especially if it is something you can call your very own that you can withdraw yourself into to fortify yourself as you step outside and deal with crazy world around you.

GP: This was great sir and thank you for your time.

SG: Thank you very much as well.

Question with * was asked by Greg Molina of YCE Young Culture Entertainment @youngcultureent

ComiConn 2017: Chatting with Comic Book Man – Ming Chen

comic-book-men-season-4-cast-gallery-ming-chen-1200x707

Graphic Policy: I am here with Ming Chen from AMC’s Comic Book Men! I have to say man it’s an honor, I am a big fan of what you folks are doing with that show and I wanted to take the chance and ask you some questions.

Ming Chen: Sure. Fire away.

GP: So you’ve come a long way, from this show that started as a small cult type thing and sort of a rip off Pawn Stars.

Ming: (interjecting) Oh definitely a rip off of Pawn Stars. I mean there’s no doubt about it.

GP: Yeah.

Ming: The show got started because AMC had such a hit with The Walking Dead that first season and so they wanted to do something else comic book based. So they asked “who do we go to for something like this?” So they went to Kevin Smith.

GP: Of course.

Ming: Kevin who is one of the top minds in the comic book world, they asked “Kevin what would you do?” He said well “Why don’t you just rip off Pawn Stars but do it in a comic book store and focus on vintage toys and comics?” AMC thought it was a good idea and could work, however they needed to shoot some kind of pilot and put it on tape and see if it could actually work.Kevin told them he had a comic book store and some guys that worked there AMC could use. He told them flat out, they are not actors and sort of a bunch of knuckleheads but they might not be your guys. In terms of for the purpose of shooting the pilot Kevin thought we’d be fine. So they (AMC) shot it with us and said “That’s it.” “These are our guys.” At that point there was no reason to try and cast anyone else.

GP: Yeah no kidding? Why? You guys fit perfect.

Ming: So AMC was like “Why didn’t you see this and tell us these guys were that good?” To Kevin we were just his friends and co – workers and he didn’t really see it, but it worked out really well. We initially shot 6 episodes to start and to see if it worked. I was like “Who’s going to watch this though?” “Who wants to see four old dudes griping in a comic book store talking about Star Wars and Flux Capacitors and such?” Lo and behold people actually dug it so much that we are about to go into our seventh season. I love it. I want to do it forever.

GP: I mean yeah it’s incredible to have it take off the way it did like that.

Ming: It definitely is.

GP: That was my follow up. For something that you didn’t think would take off, to have it go multiple seasons.

Ming: We thought one, two maybe..

GP: I think the Kevin Smith thing certainly hooks it, but it’s you guys that keep the asses in the seats. It’s really great.

Ming: Thank you so much man. It’s cool to get that response.

GP: Now I’m a huge Batman ’66 fan myself and I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask this. The day you guys shot the show for the Batman ’66 Batboat, did it all really go down like that? Was everyone that disappointed? 

Ming: Yes. So for those who haven’t seen the episode, I meet the guy who I’ve met at several cons and he owns the ’66 Batboat. He had it in Red Bank (NJ) asked if I wanted to come down and go on it. He told me to bring the guys too. So naturally I tell them “Hey guys you want to go down on the Batboat?” They were all for it. I figured we’d go down there and float around for like an hour on it. We brought sun screen and sandwiches. Then we get down there and it’s not even in the water and it’s bolted to a trailer. He tells me it doesn’t go in the water and it’s not sea worthy. So yeah the guys were a little pissed with me for that one. I mean how was I supposed to know? When someone invites you down to their boat it’s usually on the water. I don’t think it was my fault, but they never see it that way. So they are like “You screwed up Ming, You suck.”

GP: That’s the true to life dynamic? They treat you like that?”

Ming: All the time (laughs) I mean if I do something they consider egregious no matter how stupid or small, they will call me out on it. It’s been like that for twenty years.

GP:  I have to ask you, as a fan who like me grew up idolizing these folks and all this stuff, having those same people dropping by or coming up to you like “Hey Ming” is it surreal?

Ming: It is surreal. To have those people come up to me and say they are fans of the show and like I’m doing, it’s very cool. I mean to me it’s just something I do every summer with my friends. It very much feels like summer camp and it just gets put on tape. I love how it comes on after The Walking Dead and Talking Dead because I’m still a huge fanboy. I want to meet these people (Zabka, Pearlman, Jason David Frank) because they were such huge parts of my childhood. I know they are actors and actors are regular people but also they were so awesome that what they did shaped my life. It’s cool to be able to meet them now on this level. I mean we aren’t on even ground but like my badge is the same as theirs so there’s a modicum of respect and it’s all just really cool. So if they want to treat me as if they don’t know me or blow me off I will catch up with them later.

GP: Yeah in some cases you moderate their panels afterward (laughs) 

Ming: Yeah moderating the panels is cool too. I mean I’m so glad it happened this way to me. As a fan first, where as a lot of people here grew up in the acting world and the con thing came later to them. So I’m really lucky in that way. I like that I’m a fan first.

GP: Absolutely. I think it keeps it authentic.

Ming: It’s definitely way more fun.

GP: I’ve noticed that you seem to be spearheading the task of taking on these cons more and more lately. The others (Mike Zapcic and Bryan Johnson) join you time to time but not always. So is that your ambition? Are you going to be a lot more Comic Con oriented or branch off and do your own thing?

Ming: We’ll see. I think Comic Book Men works so well because it’s the four of us. It wouldn’t work with just three of us or one of us. Out of the four of us though, I think Bryan Johnson and I have a great dynamic where I will do something and he just reacts to it honestly.

GP: Mike Zapcic is great too. Don’t forget him. He’s like the straight man to you guys comedy.

Ming: That’s true. So I want to continue to do as much with the show for as long as I can because I love it so much. Mike and I have a couple podcasts together and we work very well on that so we have such a well rounded base. I would love for Comic Book Men to keep on going forever, I know it can’t but I’d really like it to. I’m happy with that right now.

GP: Well seven seasons is nothing to sneeze at.

Ming: I’d like to keep the energy from this going and be somewhere in the Pop Culture world after this, I don’t know where it will be but we will see. I will take an opportunity no matter how weird or how small it may be. You never know where it will take you. It might even be more of the Con world. They don’t seem to be stopping any time soon.

GP: They do not. You know what I think would be ideal though? Is that one day you open your own store across the street from the (Secret) Stash and you become a bigger deal then all of them. That would be great.

Ming: That would be so fun. We could have like a rivalry and all kinds of pranks and hijinx. Maybe we’d even have a gang war with like Molotov cocktails (laughs) not really but you know, just a lot of weird and fun stuff.

GP: Absolutely. I’d watch the hell out of that. Well thank you for your time and so much success to you.

Ming: Thank you man. Absolutely this was great. See you around.


Well that was my chat with Ming “The Mighty” Chen. Such a great guy. He loves what he does and wants to do it always, for the fans. You can’t beat that. Hope you see him at a Con in the near future.

Till next time true readers!

Totally Talking Turtles with Peter Laird

peterFrom Northhampton, Ma to New York City to Hollywood and back to New England here in Wells, ME. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have had a most unlikely but remarkable journey. I was lucky enough a few weeks ago to get to speak with the man who helped create everyone’s favorite wise-cracking and shell kicking brothers himself: Mr. Peter Laird.

Graphic Policy: First of all I’d like to thank you for your time today.  I work for Graphic Policy. We are an independent press that covers comics and everything to do with the medium. This is an honor for me personally. I have been a life long fan of your work.

Peter Laird: Well thank you.

GP: So I was fortunate enough a couple months ago at a con in New Jersey to get Kevin’s (Eastman) story about the beginning of the Turtles and the early days. I really wanted to create a bookend here and get your insight of that time. I mean you guys came up with this at the time, sort of crazy idea. It was independent from anything the major publishers were doing. I have to ask how scary was that when you first started?

PL:  Well it was slightly scary. It was more exciting than anything else. Kevin and I from back in the time we met in 81′ both had the idea that we wanted to do some type of comic book. We meshed together very well and we hit it off. Most of it was because of our shared profound love for Jack Kirby. One of the first things we did was we penciled something over and passed it to the other guy to ink it. That was like a test and it worked out really well. So there and then we knew our styles fit and we had something. A few years later Kevin and I were living together in Dover, NH and we still really, really wanted to do a comic book. The actual act of creating a comic book, the difficult part is the writing and the drawing. Once you have the start-up money for a printer to publish your work, which for us is like $1,300 you are pretty much good to go. However, the scariest step is trying to find places willing to take a shot and sell your work.

We originally thought, that we were going to sell mostly single copies through the mail and well (laughs) that didn’t work out. We only sold maybe 15 or 20 copies. We lucked out though and quickly learned the advantage of solicitation through the comic book distributors like Diamond and  Pacific and the others. So truly the only unknown was how was it going to be responded to? How were people going to take this?

GP: Sure, absolutely.

PL: As a matter of fact in a light joking way but not completely, he (Kevin) and I had concerns we would be burning the copies that winter to stay warm since they would be sitting around in our living room. They didn’t though. As fate would have it they sold out quite quickly. We did 3 printings of that issue in the course of the first year. That was the moment we realized we had something going on. That’s when we truly started to go to work, several months after the publication of that first issue. The way it went was something to behold for sure.

leo

GP: I’ll say. As a matter of fact, I always refer to the Turtles as my first taste of comic book rebellion. Up till that point, I had been shown and given all the DC and Marvel stuff and of course the Jack Kirby Fantastic Four run which was probably my favorite. That stuff was incredible but the stuff that you guys were doing there was nothing like it. I just adore that original Mirage run. I got my first Turtles graphic novel when I was just four.

PL: Oh wow.

GP: That book resonated with me for so long. I know people grew up with the cartoon and the movie with the live action big screen Turtles and Judith (Hoag) who is just fantastic by the way. With that being said, the Mirage run is the all-time favorite for me. Everything about it. I loved the red masks and I never wanted that to change but then Steve (Lavigne) told me at a show which made a lot of sense, that you couldn’t have them all in red it would be a marketing nightmare for networks and kids alike. It was so different then what was out there with the Big Two at the time. It was grittier and had a realism to it. As much realism as one can have with giant talking Turtles (laughs) but it didn’t talk down to us as readers. Who would have thought that anthropomorphic turtles running around doing Ninjitsu would be so successful. Even the villains were fantastic. Kevin gave my good friend Dante and I the origin of that when we met him and it is so funny how all these so far out there concepts just… worked. Everything about it was just brilliant. Nuff said right?

PL: (laughs) Ha ha well put.

GP: What I really want to get down to though, is how do you feel being surrounded by all this history, and to us it IS history. What does it mean to have a line of people waiting all out the door for hours on end and coming from everywhere just to see you and more importantly thank you for all you’ve done for them. So when you look back on this at the end of the day, what is it that sticks with you about this creation the most?

PL: Well that’s a good question. Probably one that needs and is worthy of a lot more time to think about it.

mikey

GP: Yup it’s my fault I always try to ask the good questions. (laughs)

PL: (laughs) You certainly do. You know when Kevin and I first did the books, we did it out of a pure love and desire to do just comic books. We just wanted to reach the comic book buying public and hopefully have it be enjoyed. We had no conception of it ever going further. We were just so in love with comic books. We were so incredibly happy when the first issue sold out. Then we had the second issue come out and I crunched the numbers and I couldn’t wait to tell Kevin. I called him like “Kev, you’re not going to believe this but we are each going to make $2,000 from this issue.” He was so excited and then came the third issue and gained more steam and so forth. For a long time that was all our concern was putting out the best comic we could in terms of quality and story. We were no way prepared for all to come our way. Looking back it was only three years after the first issue then came along all the major licensing and marketing everywhere. As you said we are surrounded by Turtle stuff here and there is so much more of it elsewhere. That being said it has been over thirty years. So the thing that will stick with me the most is that is has come to mean so much to so many people. One truly fond memory I have and I wish I could contact this person and get her to write this down… we met this one young lady once at a signing and she told me about her autistic sibling. She told me that her sibling never liked to be touched at all. However, she stated that person suddenly came alive when watching the original Turtles cartoon and would allow her to cuddle or hug while they watched the show together and it was a special bonding experience for them. That completely moved me. I mean where do you go beyond that? It’s something so meaningful to have contributed to that person’s life in such a unique way. Lots of things will stick with me, but that always will.

GP: Exactly that’s what I mean. It’s taken such life and splintered off into so many facets…

PL: No pun intended.

GP: (laughs) Oh.. I didn’t even mean to. Back to point though. To touch any person’s life in that way has to be completely rewarding. 

PL: It is.

GP: The last thing I’d like to say is that, you have created something. You and Kevin, a universe of its own with so much reach that will continue to live on in some way, no matter who is involved. So I have to ask you in closing, how does it feel to be like Jack Kirby? 

PL: Wow. I don’t know if I can agree with you. Jack Kirby was beyond incredible with all he did.

GP: To me there is Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Bob Kane and Bill Finger and Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. So like or lump it you not only deserve but you are part of that conversation.

PL: I am honored and I will take it in the spirit of it but I can’t agree.

GP: As they say, agree to disagree then.

PL: I thank you so much. It’s really touching.

GP: Well this was well worth the trip sir. Best of luck to you.

PL: Cool man. Thank you.

Review: Batman Beyond #1

bmb_cv1_ds“Rebirth”

Terry McGinnis is back as Batman, much to the delight of his family and friends. But is the original Joker really back as well? Inspired by the possible return of their role model, the Jokerz have taken over an entire section of Gotham City and are determined to wreak havoc in the still-rebuilding city. While Batman battles chaos on the streets, his friend Dana is at the mercy of the new leader of the now-unified gang.

We pick up where we last left off with Terry getting his pointy ears handed to him by the new gang of Jokerz and their venomed out Bane Mascot. As Terry is in a brawl for his life he realizes one thing: This used to be so much easier.

The rest of the issue revolves around our reintroduction to the future Bat-Family, Matt, Max, Dana, as well as placing the focus on the resurrection of Terry and Bruce’s worst enemy. Speaking of Bruce we are left a bit of a mystery as to where he actually is at this time.

The art by Bernard Chang was a bit of a mixed bag for me. While he does have some pretty pencils, some of his layouts and page structure are a bit weird. I know this isn’t the animated Batman Beyond continuity but I still wish it had more of that fluid style. The way he draws the villains and the supporting cast is really good, just his Batman I am not sold on at all yet. Perhaps it’s the red eyes. It might take some getting used to.

As for the story, I think Dan Jurgens (one of my favorites) does a pretty good job here, but I wanted much more. His style is so much more suited to Superman than it is to the Dark Knight or Neo Knight here.

The mystery with the whereabouts of Old man Bruce Wayne and the cliffhanger with Terry at the end have me a little intrigued. I’m not sure it will be enough to keep me coming back to see the bright neon Gotham lights.

Story: Dan Jurgens Art: Bernard Chang
Story: 7.5 Art: 7 Score: 7.1 Recommendation: Read

DC  Comics Provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for Review

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