Author Archives: Mr. H

Be an Insti-Hero with Stick FX

Now having traveled a bunch, and visted many a Con, seen so much I have. Sorry it is the end of 2019 and Baby Yoda speak is sweeping everyone. However, what I saw this day was much much different. In fact, I have never seen anything like this at a Comic-Con. Or any convention for that matter. That is what makes it so special.

This past November at Rhode Island Comic Con, I had the unexpected privilege of meeting part Reed Richards, part Batgirl aka Leigh from the company Stick FX which has just got some astounding stuff to share so without further ado.


Leigh: Hi I’m Leigh from Stick FX, and what we’ve developed is the first self adhering, reusable, silicone mask for your face.

GP: So I’ve been observing and I noticed that you just peels these off and slap them on again with what looks like no fuss whatsoever. How long do these each last Leigh?

Leigh: So the masks that we have here that we are using to demo, are over seven years old and have more than a thousand uses on them. Best part is there is no glues, no removers and they are hypoallergenic because they are 100 percent silicone.

GP: Wow! That’s genius. So I’m a huge Nightwing fan myself and I said, “I just gotta get a Nightwing, but they’re really is no good Nightwing masks out there.” At least not ones without a string or you need to use adhesives. Until.. now. How did you come up with this idea?

Leigh: Okay. So I’m a silicone technologist and I’ve worked in the silicone industry for over twenty years and I’ve developed and own the patent on this. So I understand silicone and it’s properties for reuse as well as being skin friendly, and I’m also a huge superhero fan. To that point I’ve never watched a superhero movie where you ever see the superhero wear a mask that has a string or worries about it falling off. Right?

GP: Right.

Leigh: So how do we develop a mask where they can put it on and take it off really quickly? That is where silicone technology comes in.

GP: Looking around I noticed that a lot of these designs are very Arrow centric, Bat Centric, are you a DC (Comics) girl?

Leigh: Oh I’m a DC girl. Yeah.

GP: So who’s your choice?

Leigh: Ahhh don’t make me choose, don’t make me choose right here. I tell you what since you brought up a good point about the Nightwing, as pertains to the Nightwing mask we sold out of our whole stock of 120 just on Friday which is what we brought, that is how popular he is.

GP: Oh no kidding, I mean it is fantastic. I bet you’d sell out of Arrow if you made a straight Arrow one. 

Leigh: Yeah we actually have had a lot of requests for Arrow. So yeah.

GP: I actually think you should definitely go ahead with Arrow or Canary. I mean there’s not much really of a difference in design so it could be cost-effective.

Leigh: The good thing about most of those masks you are talking about, is they are kind of a universal shape. So we had a woman use one for Black Cat yesterday over hers that she had so that was pretty cool.

GP: It’s unbelievable the versatility of these because they can be used with so many similar cosplays. Batgirl, Black Cat, Nightwing. I mean I saw the Nightwing one and stopped dead in my tracks and was like boom, I need to have this. They are so striking.

Leigh: What is so cool is that speaking to the versatility, they can be used for guys, girls, kids, really just about anybody.

GP: Before you said that you’ve worked in silicone for a long time, besides the hero thing what made you design this type of process?

Leigh: So I’m a prosthetics specialist and I design prosthetics for the face for amputees. So if you are missing a nose, an eye or an ear, I’m the person you are going to come see.

GP: Wow.

Leigh: I invented the silicone adhesive that you see here and filed the patent about seven years ago. I thought “You know this would be a badass costume thing! ” I worked in the film industry for a long time too and I know how time-consuming and uncomfortable it is using glue and spirit gum and all those really harsh and harmful products on your face and skin so I thought this is absolutely perfect. I have my three-year-old walking around with one of these on right now.

GP: Oh it’s absolute genius! Also the world’s cutest marketing tool. (Laughs) People are dressed up here but you are making real-world superhero applications here. It doesn’t get any better.

Leigh: Right? I mean anyone can slap one of these on and instant hero. We actually had a Nightwing who looked awesome but his spirit gum was coming off and he stopped by the booth and said “Hey put one aside for me, I’m coming back, I can’t wear this shit anymore.” So seeing the demand for these, it is a really good feeling.

GP: Absolutely. You can’t oversell this. So please tell us where we can find you and how quick is this all available?

Leigh: Awesome. We are online at www.stickfx.com and we are going to have to refill all our orders but we usually ship out same day.

GP: Terrific. Well, I think you found your spot and are going to be a mainstay at Comic Cons and I hope to see you around at the next ones I travel too.

Leigh: We hope to see you around too. This has been awesome. Thank you.


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Yes. I totally tried one on and rocked the hell out of it.

So there you have it. If you a are an uber hero comic nerd like me, you want to check these folks out. It is seriously remarkable. The pictures don’t do it justice. This is very cool stuff being born out of a good place. So go grab these up, but just save me a Nightwing! Check out all the links below.

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Peel. Stick. Party.

Web:www.stickfx.com

Kickstarter:https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/stickfxmasks/stickfx-worlds-1st-self-adhering-reusable-costume-mask

YouTube

Review: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1

Go go – Cowabunga! In a medium where we learn to never say never, yes Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 just happened. As long time MMPR fan and die-hard Turtle fan for life, to say I was amped about this occurrence, well would be quite the understatement.

IDW Publishing puts out some of the best comics on the monthly docket and BOOM! Studios unquestionably puts out the very best Power Ranger stories ever. So this just sounded like a match made in teenager hero Heaven. However, like any good crossover, it wasn’t all pizza and milkshakes as you know the drill by now. The two good guy teams have to meet up and do their obligatory confused first battle. It’s the usualy trope to see what side each other is on. Only this time it was really really good. The art here by Simone Di Meo is absolutely breathtaking. It is like a mix of high octane manga and a video game. The lines are so striking and crisp. You could tell the artist was having a blast rendering these two retro pop icon teams.

Onto the story. Now what I thought could have been your typical cookie-cutter where one of the good guys gets brainwashed and turned bad scenario, power scribe Ryan Parrott does not take that route. Without too many spoilers, it appears Tommy Oliver aka the Green Ranger is working undercover with the Foot Clan and now we have ourselves an intriguing hook, because no one, not even his best friends are aware of it.

The biggest twist of the crossover, however, is not a twist at all, it is that both the MMPR and TMNT exist in the same universe. That means no portals, no time jumping, no multiverse shenanigans, just good ole straight up same space-occupying sai smashing, power staff bashing fun. This was a breath of fresh air as we have seen the other situations played far too often when attempting to merge two properties.

Without going too much further, all I will say is … get Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1. It is a fantastic and great reward to long-time fans of both franchises. IDW and BOOM! are on a crossover roll and they aren’t about to stop now. Shredder, Monsters, Foot Clan, what more could you want? Oh, how about Casey Jones and Lord Zedd?? That would be absolutely epic. So who knows what is left in store for us on the rest of this story, all you need to know is the little kid, and the big kids that you are, you don’t want to miss it.

Story: Dan Parrott Art: Simone Di Meo Colors: Walter Baiamonte
Overall Score: 9.9 Recommendation: Buy

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

Review: Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze

Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze

For those of you who are not currently reading Sean Murphy‘s fantastic Batman epic, stop reading this and go do that before reading Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze. Go ahead, I’ll wait. It is that good. Now there have been many many interpretations of Batman over the years. Not all of them have been good and only some of them great. Sean Murphy’s Batman is that latter category.

What makes his Batman so different? One word. History. No not the history that we have seen throughout the DC Multiverse. It’s a very specific history that he has woven. See his heroes are much more than just costumed nuts venturing in alleys and across rooftops punching bad guys. They are people. Just plain people. People that have to make difficult choices and face excruciating consequences. No different than say, you or I.

Oh sure they may have more resources and an impeccable noirish sense of style. But they are at their hearts, human. These traits that are injected by his writing. It makes them leap off the pages and feel like they are standing next to you.

To me, that is more important than any silhouette or cool (heh I promise not many freeze puns) costume. So any time a creator has the chance to build upon the world in their vision, it more often than not adds something very special to what is already there.

In Batman: White Knight there was a brief mention of some deep history between the Wayne and Fries family. In Sean’s own words this was something that was always intended for that book. Constraints forced him to leave it out. Still, he felt it was too important a story to leave on the cutting floor and he was right. So here we have it and let’s get to Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze.

We open up some time ago with a young child and older man being chased in the snow back in Germany during WWII. There’s a gunshot and a bleeding man. With his dying breath, he pleads to a very young Victor Fries to please take care of his infant daughter.

We cut some years later as Victor all grown up is staring at a photo reminding him of that day. He now works for Wayne Cryotech where a young scientist objects to his work.

As he tries to explain himself, he hears screaming downstairs in the lab. It’s none other than Thomas and Martha Wayne. Martha is currently pregnant with their future son Bruce but in dire straits. Thomas and Victor have to work together to get her stabilized.

Once this is accomplished, Thomas and Victor are then in the study afterward bonding over the subject of fatherhood and it is here we are treated to a very interesting backstory involving the Fries family.

I don’t want to go into details or deep spoilers though as this issue is too good to dismiss in footnotes. What follows is a very deep and sometimes disturbing retelling of some of the horrors of that time period, particularly for anyone of Jewish descent. Sure this is a comic and some of these horrors did not directly happen but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have were the access to some of these resources available in devious hands back then.

We get background on the famous Mr. Freeze Cold gun as well as a very different interpretation in the Victor and Nora dynamic. The art is wonderful as both the artist, Klaus Janson, and colorist, Matt Hollingsworth, do a great job of presenting a palette that really showcases this story in the best possible fashion. I have been a fan of Klaus for a long time and this is some of the best work of his career.

The story beats and panels just whiz by as you become sucked into this tale page after page. In a story that I thought was going to be all about Nazi fanaticism, I am reminded to once again not judge a book by its cover. Fair warning, there was barely a hint of a cape or cowl this whole book. This at the end of the day was a deep story of two families tied together and how they move forward.

I will be honest Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze was not the type of content I thought DC would relegate to their Black Label imprint, but I’m glad they have. Not every Batman story need be about crazy maniacal villains or insane death plots. Sometimes they just have to be about reminded us of the very human choices we all have to make and how to overcome whatever may find us.

Story: Sean Murphy Art: Klaus Janson Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Rhode Island Comic Con 2019: Revenge of the Con

Rhode Island Comic Con 2019

Don’t call it a comeback, because they never left. It was that time of year again, the blasters were loading and the capes were flowing. Yes it was the annual trip to Nerdvana for Rhode Island Comic Con and it was hosted right here … in Providence, Rhode Island! (cheap Mick Foley plug)

It certainly was an interesting sight as the streets were filled and the building to capacity as everyone was gearing up to meet the who’s who of geek culture who had decided to descend on this state. I for one thoroughly enjoy this show as I marvel at the assemblage of guests and creators that arrive each year.

Now like most spectaculars, your day soon becomes a task list of what to accomplish first and just how much you can fit in each day.  The show tends to make that easier to do as you set off on your quest, you can choose to use the website, app or even the program to navigate your way. For me though, I prefer the old fashioned way of just hoofing it across the terrain and venturing into the hallowed halls.

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First stop, as always since I am a proud and avid collector, I hit up the vendors. There always seems to be something for everyone and this year was certainly no exception. There’s comics, action figures, movie props and numerous paraphernalia from just about every genre you can think of, horror, hero, video games, tv, movies, sci fi, you name it, they got it.

So of course since they had it, I got it. Not a bad couple of finds as well.

Tip: Don’t be afraid to haggle, trust me the vendors want this stuff to go home with you as much as you do. 

So after spending a good time feeling like a dog at fire hydrant convention, I made my way away from the vendors and to the main show floor. What I was not prepared for was all the coolness that awaited my pupils when I turned the corner. Almost every inch of the show had some kind of wow factor that was present for your optics, wherever you moved.

At times it was easy to feel like you were on a Hollywood sound stage with all the creativity abound. So I did what any lighthearted news hound would do …

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I joined the Dark Side. I mean seriously the benefits are way better. Also they have cookies. Lots of cookies.

All joking aside though, as you make your way through your fellow aficionados, you arrive at the main ballroom where there is more celebs and guests than you can shake an NDA at. If you take a look around there is someone representing from each corner of the Pop Culture Galaxy. From TV, to movies, to voice acting and even wrestling.

I mean if you’re not careful you might just turn around and bump into, Mark Paul Gosellaar, Jaleel White or even this happy guy .. from AEW: Jon Freaking Moxley.

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Like I said there is someone for everyone in this place and I observed quite a bit. Even though at times the lines were quite arduous, I saw that everyone got a fair shake. Each attendant got a little time to shine with their icons and heroes and that is really what it is all about.

Now like everything, it wasn’t perfect, but it was as near to that as organized chaos can get. These shows are truly wonderful as we in fandom spend so much time and energy into giving ourselves of this hobby and lifestyle. It is refreshing to get a return on our time. This is no easy feat to put together and this year more than before, it has me appreciating all the efforts that go into this just a bit more.

So if you ever find yourself on this side of the world and you want to see all the hub bub for yourself, take a slide on down and check out, what I think is the Best Show in any State each year and you tell me yourself.

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Whether it is coming across a comic book or grail piece you have longed to have in your collection or meeting your childhood hero or even just taking in the wackiness. The memories you will have will be treasured in all your travels.

So what are you waiting for? Keep an eye out for updates and see you here next year!

*** Thank you for the staff at Rhode Island Comic Con for welcoming me back and allowing me to cover the show once again. Great job all around and see you for the big one in 2020!! ***

Rhode Island Comic Con 2018 is “The Biggest Show in the Smallest State”

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“The year of the fan”

Like any hobby or past time worth following, there always comes a peak in the season. It is a point that you look forward to all year as the culmination of work and preparation. For football it is the Super Bowl. For hockey it is the Stanley Cup. For sports entertainment it is Wrestlemania. These are all time honored traditions that we follow and enjoy. Well for me and what I do, comic conventions are the apex of the lot. I cover multiple comic cons a year but none do I look forward to more than the first week of November in Providence, RI, Rhode Island Comic Con.

This show is touted as “The biggest show in the smallest state” I would argue that, as it makes it sound almost secondary. For me and shows along the east coast, I consider this the top. Now I might have a little bit of journalistic bias here, but it is not fake news. I have a sentimental attachment to this show for sure, as it was three short years ago I had my very first celebrity interview on this very stage. I was fortunate enough to interview a childhood idol, in Lou Ferrigno. Although you might know him better as his jade green alter-ego: The Incredible Hulk. Lou played the Hulk in the popular and now beloved 1970’s television version of the character. This was way back before Marvel had a bountiful movie universe or many video games and cartoons to their portfolio. He was Marvel through and through, before Marvel was cool. Nerve wracked as I was, I was humbled to be able to meet him one on one as my dad passed his love of the TV show down to me, when I was just a little sprout. Being able to do that interview, I was then able to parlay myself a portfolio of who’s who of comic book creators and celebrities as a body of work, all because of one chance on that one November day. This was my long winded way of saying thank you. I will forever be grateful for this event.

Now fast forward to three years later it is now 2018. In the comic world, things have changed but very much stay familiar. This day and age it has become more of a pop culture phenomenon than a simple comic convention. There are vendors, creators, actors and cosplayers galore. It seems like there is something for everyone, if you look for it. However there has in the past few years there is one integral group that seems to get lost or overlooked in the shuffle: the fan. Now by no means is this a knock on the show or anyone who puts it together, but I have had observations in the past. Every year the show gets bigger and it seems we, the fans become smaller in comparison. What I mean by that is there is simply too much and not enough time to enjoy or explore it all. It becomes more likened to a theme park than a geek gathering. Usually you have to pick and choose your ride (or in this case line) and you pretty much commit to doing that for your day.

Every year the guests get bigger and bigger but so does the gap between us and them. In recent years the guests are usually housed in one or two large convention rooms on a concrete floor and the lines are enormous. I don’t know if it was the large open space or the way it was set up, but it never seemed conducive to true quality fan interaction. It became very formulaic the way it was set up, wait in a long line, have a quick second or two with your favorite icon and then poof it was gone. The gap between you and them was almost like an invisible barrier than you could not penetrate. However this year, was different. Almost all of the guests and celebrities were located upstairs in the ballroom and it was a smaller room, but it seemed much more intimate. As I observed in my many trips across the con floors, it seemed brighter. It seemed better. Maybe it was the fact that you were now standing on carpeted floor instead of cool, cold concrete ground. Maybe it was the fact that the atmosphere now mimicked a warm hotel lobby, rather than a wide open airstrip, but I feel like it was genuinely different. I would venture to guess that this change made a difference in the way the guests behaved too. Sure they had big lines like always, but it never seemed out of hand. I noticed a lot more smiles this go around, as Celebrity and fan alike seemed to get more out of their interactions. I noticed that no one seemed to be rushed or hurried through, everyone got their moment in the sun and time to shine. This to me was so very important, because who wants to wait all that time for a meet and greet to simply leave with a bad taste in their mouth? Remember that people spend their hard earned money to attend this, and everyone should get a bang for their buck. From what I saw, they did. To me that is what Comic Con is all about. People being able to meet their idols, share why they mean so much to us and pay tribute. It is also about those we meet paying tribute back. For without us, the fan, none of this is possible.

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I believe because of these settings and the way the energy was flowing, everyone was able to get at least a little bit more of what they wanted. Fans were able to get more meaningful interactions, celebrities were able to let their hair down a bit more and journalists were able to get much more quality content as a result. When it hits on all cylinders it feels like a win for everyone. That to me is a very good thing. So I have to say kudos to all those who put on this show and made changes this year, it really felt like a more complete event than ever before. I happen to know a few of the amazing souls who worked tirelessly to bring this to life. I’d be remiss if I did not take the time to thank Sue Soares of Altered Reality Entertainment. Sue works on this show constantly and makes sure it gets bigger every single year, and that is no small order. Also Joseph Bruen of All Axxess Entertainment. Joe is a veteran of these halls and is always the consummate professional when it comes to promotion and being on hand to cover and bring us constant up to date news and content. Then there is Dante Luna of Dante Luna Productions. Dante is the most driven creative force you will ever see walk into one of these venues. Him and his team work non stop to bring you the most innovative and amazing content. He promotes the show via his YouTube channel, as well as his amazing photography and he is able to get you a look at the guests and attendees from angles that no one else can produce.

He even has candid interviews with the now late Great Stan Lee. Truly awesome stuff.

These folks put their all into this show every single year and we benefit as a result of it. They are not the only ones who seemed to level up their game this year though. The cosplayers I must say were magnificent. I know people diligently work on their creations each year but this time around it seems that they were able to produce work that rivaled most movie productions. Again, just amazing stuff. Take a look. The creativity was off the charts!

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So though it goes by the moniker of “The Biggest Show in the Smallest State” I believe it is anything but. The amount of content and star power here easily rivals that of many shows in larger states and venues. So if you are tired of the same ole same ole show where you are year after year, I humble suggest you take a trip to Rhode Island and attend this one. If it was anything like what was just presented this year, you will be so glad you did.

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SuperMegafest 2018: Inside the ropes with Scott Steiner

A week ago in my stomping grounds of New England, there just so happened to be a gathering of geek and fan alike that takes place once a year in Marlborough, MA called Super Megafest. The name might seem like a mouthful but that is only because there is so much to contain inside these walls. There was something for every type of fan, new and old alike. However only one thing drew me there: the man called Big Poppa Pump: Scott Steiner.

As a self proclaimed Wrestling Geek or a “smark” as insider terms would have it, I was looking forward to this greatly. I have met many a wrestler in my day, but this one always eluded me. So I relished the opportunity to make so chit chat and talk some shit with one of my favorite wrestling personalities with Big Poppa Pump. His legacy is a big one in the annuls of Pro Wrestling (I refuse to say Sports Entertainment) he was a WCW World Heavyweight Champion, US Champion and of course Tag Team Champion.

Never one to mix words and not afraid to speak his mind, I was looking forward to it.

Graphic Policy: Hi my name is Joe on behalf of Graphic Policy, and I am here at Super Megafest talking to the Genetic Freak, Big Poppa Pump himself: Scott Steiner. How are you Scott?

Scott Steiner: Pretty good Joe, thanks for asking man.

GP: So Scott you were at the forefront of Professional Wrestling when it was at its apex, something it has never quite reached again. What is missing from today’s product that you all had back then?

SS: Another company. It’s always good when there is competition. You know what I mean? Now it is a monopoly. When we had the “Monday Night Wars” there was a point where we dominated for 83 weeks straight. That means we were drawing better ratings than them (WWF/E). That means people didn’t want to watch their shit. Now that we are gone, they still don’t want to really watch their shit. That’s what it is, shit. The reason being is you have two idiots in charge who basically think they are geniuses and they’re not. The ratings reflect this.

GP: I agree with your point there, to a point. They feed you what I feel is scraps. It’s nowhere near the caliber of what it could be, but they don’t have to be forced to change because they are the big game in town and they know it.

SS: Thing is though, on top of that they feed you a line of bullshit. They tell you we are giving you what you as fans want. They don’t. They give you what they want.

Graphic Policy: I agree. There is certainly an agenda to who they push.

SS: Exactly. For them to say otherwise, it’s really an insult to the fans. I think many fans are smart enough to realize this themselves and it shows. They aren’t featuring who the people want to see, they feature who they want to see. They feature who they can control. It’s all about the control. The people who do work for that company I mean they are not even considered employees. They are self contracted. Which I think is a damn shame. They don’t want to pay employees tax or insurance and a bunch of other stuff they don’t want to get into.

GP: That is unreal.

SS: Yeah. It really is unreal, how they can operate like that. Just a shame.

GP: Do you have advice now for guys that are coming up, on how to navigate that kind of system?

SS: Well the thing you gotta do, is stick together. Unfortunately with Vince, really the whole WWE is that it is set up so you don’t stick together. They have it so everyone is at a distance and they can’t become friends so that way you don’t form a union. That is why when you look back at when Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and all those guys stuck together, he hated that. They ended up controlling the industry. That is what it takes is sticking together but it is set up in a way that you can’t. Or he won’t allow you to.

GP: I think, hearkening back to what you said about competition it just breeds true for anything. If you don’t have competition then you are going to have shit and not get the best you could.

SS: Right.

GP: That is why it is so great to see what Cody Rhodes and the Bullet Club have done. Both here and in Japan. They were told no one would ever want to see them put on their own Pay Per View and they did it. They sold out a big venue faster than anyone ever expected with “All In”. They thumbed it right at everyone too. Do you think we should see more of that?

SS: Well hopefully. I hope so. What happened in Chicago, is now going to happen in Madison Square Garden too. That was basically a large scale independent show. I mean that is the first time in history that has ever happened. On that scale. That just goes back to that people are sick of WWE product. You can’t take people’s memories away from them. They remember when they watched wrestling growing up, how good it could be. So now they have this crap on TV and they are forced to watch and they don’t have to.

GP: Is there a company out there that you haven’t worked with that you’d like to?

SS: Well it’s not going to really work unless you get another big conglomerate like a Ted Turner or FOX that can compete. Basically it will take a large TV company that can compete with Vince. Like a Ted Turner or something along that. It has to be someone who likes Wrestling and understands it as well.

GP: I think it would be great if a large network like a FOX would back it because the production values would be off the charts and with the correct backing could be visually stunning.

SS: That’s really the only way you could compete. You would see so many guys jump on that ship. They know how it is. When it comes down to it, Vince, the WWE they don’t really care about the people they employ. They don’t care about them. They use them and then kick them out the door.

GP: It always boggles me that whoever says wrestling is fake, I feel is a damn moron because you do this 365 with barely any off days and the toll it takes on your bodies is tremendous. What makes me happy is you get to do conventions like this and hopefully the people pay it back to you. How much it means to us. All that you’ve done and given us over the years. I especially speak for myself.

SS: Thank you so much.

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

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