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SDCC 2016: Robert Venditti Discusses Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps

The Green Lantern Corps has fallen apart and in its place stands Sinestro and the Sinestro Corp. Hal Jordan is all that stands in the way.

This is the beginning of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, the series written by Robert Venditti.

I got a chance to speak to Venditti at San Diego Comic-Con 2016 about the series and what we might expect.

Review: E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Williams Part 2

E.X.O-coverpgThe second volume of E.X.O. The Legend of Wale Willams dropped on August 24, 2016. This issue should be called E.X.O. “Revelations” because ALL of the questions from Volume 1 and even how the suit works are all answered in this book. Instead of releasing a series of 22 page comics, Roye Okupe once again gives us a 152 page volume (paid for from his second successful Kickstarter) covering Chapters 8-15. Wale’s character grows in this book with the help of Fury, the mysterious woman who appeared at the end of Volume 1. (And she kicks some serious ass in this book guys seriously). We also find out what actually happened to Wale’s father and what the E.X.O. suit was originally intended for.

Story

Wale Williams is still after his nemesis Oniku who we find out is not just trying to destroy Lagoon City but to control most of Western Africa. Wale realizes with the help of Zahra (Fury’s real name) and her scientist father, that not only was Wale previously mentally unprepared to battle Oniku, he has not been utilizing the E.X.O. suit to its full potential. This go round, instead of taking on Oniku alone out of anger and revenge (that’s still simmering beneath the surface), Wale is more tactical and goes through extensive training in the suit and plans his attack with the help of a team. Scientist and medical doctor, Dr. Martins, Zahra, his cousin Benji and G.A.I., the interface within the suit. (Think African J.A.R.V.I.S.)

Oniku’s origin story is also revealed and as with most supervillians actually parallel’s Wale’s own need for revenge very closely.They are really two sides of the same coin in that Wale is out to save his own people and Oniku is beyond doesn’t think the people from Lagoon City are worth saving. Therefore he wants to destroy everything and rebuild “from the ashes” to save what he feels is the future of the country itself.

This volume actually concludes the First ARC of the E.X.O. storyline and introduces a new character that we will see in the future of another story tied to this universe.


What I think

Okupe’s writing here is more in depth this time around, however, at times, the story does get a bit dialogue heavy, but for the most part I enjoyed the character’s discussions, development and banter.

I LOVE Godwin Akpan’s cover work as well as the interior work by Sunkanmi Akinboye and Raphael Kazeem. Faces and colors stayed consistent throughout but there were a couple of times I felt some of the physiology was a bit off. That being said the fight scenes were AMAZING! The choreography, depth of field and angles were executed with exceptional detail and I was VERY impressed with how Wale’s interaction with the suit development was depicted. Many splash pages were also included of fan art of the book which I think was a wonderful homage to E.X.O. fans and a great way to showcase the work of otherwise unknown African talent.

I really enjoyed how the story played out and especially liked the use of the Yoruba language mixed into the English dialogue. One of my only criticism is that some of the practice/training sessions went on a little too long. I am also a big fan of “humanizing” the villain and making him look like the flip side of the hero, this was also executed well in this story. I absolutely LOVED Fury’s fight scenes and her character, but I wish we got to see more of her development and her drive and focus, at times I think she kind of came off as a 2-dimensional character for Wale to respond to. His cousin Benji was used well as the “everyman” plot device, helping to provide backstory and lightening up otherwise heavy moments in the book.

One thing that Okupe does very well is write cliffhanger endings, I actually read the entire book in one sitting because he kept ending each chapter with questions that I HAD to know the answers to. I was very surprised at the traumatic event (there’s two actually) that happened to Oniku because it is not one we often see here in the States, especially in a comic book, which is why I would really only recommend this volume to kids ages 12 and up.

This volume is a fun ride and definitely worth checking out. (Apparently, the Washington Post agrees)

E.X.O. THE LEGEND OF WALE WILLIAMS PART 2

print: $14.99

digital: $7.99

WHERE TO BUY:

website
amazon (print)
amazon (digital)
iBooks (digital)

CREATIVE TEAM:

Writer: Roye Okupe

Penciler: Sunkanmi Akinboye

Inker: Sunkanmi Akinboye

Colorist: Raphael Kazeem

Cover Art: Godwin Akpan

Editor: Ayodele Elegba


NOTE: This is a high-quality indie TPB. The first African comic I’ve ever heard of Diamond distributing. If we want to see more books like this in comic book stores, then we have to pre-order them! Don’t know how to pre-order? Well I happen to have this handy guide right here.

Talking Comics Herstory with Isabella F. McFarlin, Daughter of Barbara Hall

black_cat_-1During Women’s History Month we ran numerous articles highlighting many female creators who have made an impact on the comics industry that we dubbed Comics Herstory.

One of those creators was Barbara Hall, who became a prominent cartoonist during World War II and eventually went on to co-found a “hippie communue.” Hall drew the comic series Black Cat, the strip Girl Commandos, and created the Blonde Bomber.

Well, the internet is a cool tool because that article caught the attention of Isabella F. McFarlin, Hall’s daughter. Isabella was kind enough to answer my questions about her mother, what she remembers about her career in comics, and what exactly is the commune.

Graphic Policy: Your mother was Barbara Hall who either worked on or created some classic character. Growing up, how aware were you of her work?

Isabella F. McFarlin: When young, perhaps not that aware. She did read us Krazy Kat (she was from the same area in Arizona) and entertained  us with her swift, comic-like drawings of all kinds of things. Later on, I learned that she had been a cartoonist for Harvey, and said she had drawn The Black Cat. (This was brief, but she invented Honey Blake, I believe, and worked quite a while on Girl Commandoes).  The story was that she had drawn several pages of work– I think she penciled but did not ink– and showed them to my father. He said an artist as great as she ought to become a painter and not waste her ability on tawdry comics. Immediately she tore up the pages (worth about $300, a fortune in 1940s New York) and tossed them. Irving was horrified! He said “I didn’t mean right NOW!”  They were barely getting enough money to eat.  To the later irritation of my friends in comics, especially Trina Robbins, she gave up her cartooning to become a fine arts painter. As Jackson Pollock was the star of the day and my mother drew in Rennaisance-like figurative beauty, her art never got the attention her comics did.

GP: What are your thoughts of her place in comic history, especially being one of the early female pioneers in the industry?

IFM: I’m proud that she was involved in it and wish she’d had a chance, or given herself a chance, to do more of it. Of course, I am from the group of people who made comics a real art form (I think the way Art S., Robert Crumb and others think. I see comics as a true art, when well done. I know of no one who did a better job in her time than she!

GP: Looking at your Twitter account, it’s clear you’re politically active. Was that something instill in you by your mother? With the characters she created like the Blonde Bomber, I’d think she was a feminist based on who they are.

IFM: My mother believed women had a lot of energy and power, but she was a traditionalist in that she thought that my father, a writer and playwright whose work was admired by Shaw, Orson Welles and others, was even a greater artist than she. (I just published a chapter of my memoir on this subject at Blogcritics.org under the name Ladybelle Fiske, “The Battle of the Fountainhead.” It’s the story of a day in our lives when that topic came up, re Ayn Rand.)

My father, though, thought that “all the great artists of the future will be women.”  Yes, we were  very passionate about radical politics, but we had to hide out for a long time so my brother and I woulde not be sent to school. My parents believed, with William Blake, that schools were “dark Satanic mills that grind men’s souls to dust” and that kids should not be forced to go to any school they didn’t want to attend. So we were rather quiet till I was older. The 60s came along, with “a generation that was enlightened,” and many of them wanted to come to Vermont to learn art from my mother and philosophy, writing and psychology from my father.

GP: Were there comic creators you remember meeting growing up?

IFM: No– my mother had left that scene behind her when she became a painter in tempera and pastel, but she was pleased when the underground comics artists discovered her all over again.

GP: She went on to found the Quarry Hill Creative Center. Can you tell us what an “alternative living community” is?

IFM: No one has ever been able to nail down exactly what QH is. In the late 40s and 50s it was meant to be “a paradise for Souls,” as my parents called the relatively few unconventional people they met then.

GP: Sounds really interesting! Thanks so much for answering my question.

DC Dice Masters: Green Arrow and The Flash Review: Deathstroke Guerilla Warfare and Lt. Colonel

In September, the latest DC Dice Masters set, DC Dice Masters: Green Arrow and the The Flash will be released. Wizkids hooked us up with ten booster packs and after an unboxing video, I’m now going over groupings of the cards to discuss their playability and how they stack up to previous versions of the characters.

Next up is Deathstroke (common and rare). I received the two cards out of the ten booster packs.

DC Dice Masters The Flash Green Arrow Deathstroke

Cost – 6 Fist/Shield and 5 Fist/Shield

Affiliation: Villain

Die – Generic/Fist & Shield/Fist & Shield

1 4 4 / 2 5 5 / 3 7 7

Character Previous Set: DC Dice Masters Justice League

First thoughts: Expensive! With a 6 with fist and shield die to purchase the common and 5 with first and shield for the rare and a total of 6 total cost to field the three levels, this is an expensive die. Much more expensive than the previous version which were 4 or 5 to purchase and 5 total cost to field the three levels.

Deathstroke: Guerilla Warfare (Common)

While Deathstroke is active, when you field a FIST or SHIELD character die, Deathstroke gets a +1A and +1D (+2A and +2D if the character is a FIST and SHIELD) (until end of turn).

Thoughts: For a common the card is expensive for what you get. Yes the stats are high, but I just don’t see this one making the field a lot. I’m reading that ability as a 1 time thing, not for each die fielded since it uses the word die and not dice. If that’s not the case, this gets more useful.

Compared to the previous common with Regenerate, I’d probably take that one over this one.

 

Deathstroke: Lt. Colonel (Rare)

Synergy – While Deathstroke is active, during your turn, whenever you could use a Global Ability, you may pay FIST SHIELD to search your bag for an action die and roll it. (The rolled die goes to your Reserve Pool.) (Synergy abilities can be used while the character is active, any time you could use a Global Ability).

Thoughts: Yes please!? Holy crap is this card good. A 5 FIST SHIELD to purchase, this is a card I’m going for early in the game. To be able to seek out an action die is potentially a game changer with an impact on turn four. Big Entrance, purchase this next turn, draw this third turn, buy the action die fourth turn. With some action dice being able to swing games, this is a big ability that should mix things up and has me thinking through what action dice I’m bringing.

 

Final thoughts: The common is a bit blah, but that rare I expect to regularly find in builds. It potentially has a big impact if the dice roll right. Now, to find out what the uncommon is…

Review: Wacky Raceland #3

Wacky Raceland #3 CoverThe Racers are skirting the crumbling coastline of the Pacific Ocean when an earthquake threatens to dump them into the toxic waters! And when Penelope and Dick are caught in a tsunami that sweeps them to a barren island without their vehicles or weapons, how will they battle the island’s horde of mutant crabs? And back on the mainland, the other Racers must fend off a tangle of carnivorous vines!

Like the second issue, Wacky Raceland #3 adds a bit more depth to a character, this time focusing on Penelope. The basics of the story is that a wrench is thrown into the race separating Penelope and Dick from everyone else. But, there’s a rule that racers can’t leave other racers to do, so that forces everyone to try to find them and help them out.

Penelope’s story is interspersed with a fantasy story involving a cyclops and a girl. It’s really an interesting choice and forces the reader to do a little digging as far as the message and theme of it all.

But, though the comic does a lot for Penelope, Dick also gets some more depth added through interactions as the two are stranded. All of this is done through his words and reactions by his body. It’s all interesting and plays off of the last issue really well.

Writer Ken Pontac does a solid job mixing action, adding some background and depth to the characters, while at the same time teasing out this strange new world.

The are by Leonardo Manco is great with so much detail on every page. What I didn’t think look great digitally, looks fantastic on the printed page. It’s a solid continuation of the series’ gritty style that began with the first issue. This isn’t an all-ages cartoon after all.

Wacky Raceland continues to impress me with its smart storytelling and action packed pages. I’m fascinated by the world Pontac has laid out and where it’s going from here. I just know I’m along for the race.

Story: Ken Pontac Art: Leonardo Manco
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.15 Overall: 8.15 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Wynonna Earp #7

WE_07_CVRI’ve been a Wynonna Earp fan since before it became a TV show (if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s time to get your binge watch on because it has been renewed for a second season.) This was a time before Wynonna got the make-under and went from a blond sex bomb to the more realistic brunette bad ass she is today. The recent reboot style update that IDW Publishing put out to match the TV show and bring newer fans into the Wynonna Earp fold has kept all of the good stuff and added a little bit more awesome.

Wynonna Earp Issue #7 is the match that is going to start a huge forest fire and after reading it, I’m ready to go get some marshmallows and join in on the bonfire. Beau Smith gives us a nice heaping spoonful of the new standard of Wynonna Earp and I can’t wait for another taste. Let’s start with the story, Wynonna has been on her usual kill every supernatural baddie that moves kick and she’s kind of burnt out. She convinces Dolls to let he have a vacation and Val comes along to keep Wynonna from killing everything. Wynonna is a magnet for trouble and that’s what we love about her. She’s witty, smart, resourceful and can take care of herself. This issue keeps her true to her amazing form.

Let’s start with the story, Wynonna has been on her usual kill every supernatural baddie that moves kick and she’s kind of burnt out. She convinces Dolls to let he have a vacation and Val comes along to keep Wynonna from killing everything. Wynonna is a magnet for trouble and that’s what we love about her. She’s witty , smart, resourceful and can take care of herself. This issue keeps her true to her amazing form.

Val and Wynonna set out on a road trip for a week with no real plans , just a need for the open road. Since this is a Wynonna Earp adventure trouble is brewing in the distance,so of the Black Badge detainees are planning a break. There’s a rescue mission at a roadside stand, a biker fight and a lure into something else.The artwork is basic but , it pops and tells the story.

The artwork is basic but , it pops and tells the story. The show stills are a nice bonus but, seem kind of unnecessary considering if you’re already seven issues in, it’s because you’re already hooked. Issue #7 is just as consistent as every other issue. The writing is clever and is just as much a page-turner as the action is. It’s like a mini episode in your pocket that you read. It was flawless to the last panel which left me filled with ideas and hope for whatever is coming next.

Story: Beau Smith Art: Chris Evenhuis 
Story: 9 Art: 8.8 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

IDW Publishing provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Miss Fury #5

MissFury2016-05-Cov-A-LotayMiss Fury #5 is an action comic that’s 90% fight, 5% sage wisdom with a side of spirit animal and, 5% set up. In this issue, Corinna Bechko has the 1940’s superhero trying to right some wrongs and turn the tide to save the world.
There’s a whole lot of fighting going on in this issue. After the first pages story set up the bad guys are met head on by Miss Fury and she came to win, if she can. The fight is a hard one that finds our hero deep under water with only her spirit animal to guide her to safety.

Miss Fury tries to make sense of all of the supernatural forces that surround her and she finds herself unable to come to terms with the dark forces that she seems unable to defeat. There are winged Krakenesque beasts on the attack, pig faced people on the offensive and double crossing humans standing her way.
Corinna’s writing is decent but, she seems to focus more on adding more elements to the story than character development. In some places, I felt as if the story relied more on Jonathan Lau‘s beautifully illustrated throwback artwork than on the character. This issue seemed to have our hero flying blind and not giving us any of her trademark sass. I found myself a little disappointed but, still invested.

There seemed to be a bit of a disconnect in this issue that separated it from the previous issues, I’m not sure if this was done intentionally or to set things up for the rest of the arc. It felt more like a placeholder than a stand-alone issue which left me hoping for another couple of pages to round things out. There were a whole lot of fight panels where I got to see what Miss Fury could do but, it felt like she was holding back and had left her A game at home. The few pages that were not action packed fight panels were pretty tame and didn’t really help move the story along.

Overall the issue was a decent read but, not what I was expecting or hoping for. We already know that she kick ass but, we want to know more about her and this issue fell short. The switching back and forth between the long fight panels and the moments of Miss Fury having what felt like an existential crisis (or awakening) were done with minimal transition and I think this issue would have been much better if it were split in two, part one being the fight scenes and supernatural set up and part two being her underwater sorting things out with herself and then emerging from her underwater vision quest ready to fight some more.

This issue wasn’t enough to make me give up on Miss Fury and her adventures but, it was enough to have me already giving the side eye to the next issue because I’m not sure it’s going to be able to bounce back and bring our hero with it.

Story: Corinna Bechko Art: Jonathan Lau
Story: 6.4 Art: 7 Overall: 6.2 Recommendation: Read

Dynamite Entertainment provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Advance Book Review: Your Favorite Superhero Sucks

you favoriteReading Your Favorite Superhero Sucks by Hooded Utilitarian editor, comic critic, and writer for The Atlantic Noah Berlatsky elicited three main responses from me: laughter, anger, or pondering. I laughed as he savagely took potshots at inept comic book artists Philip Tan and Igor Kordey in essays about Batman and Cable respectively. I was a little angry when he spent an entire essay nitpicking about why Iron Man didn’t save Jessica Jones and “plot holes” in shared universes but smiled a little bit when Berlatsky begrudgingly wrote about some of the reasons he enjoyed her Netflix series

As long as you’re okay with seeing your (super)heroes slung through the mud,  is an entertaining and wide-ranging work of superhero criticism as Noah Berlatsky covers the gamut from Silver Age Wonder Woman comics to recent Marvel blockbusters like Avengers  and Ant-Man and even superhero TV shows. Each chapter is titled “XYZ superhero sucks” and is a short essay critiquing a facet of them. No nook and cranny of the superhero world is spared from his biting wrath as he talks about Joss Whedon‘s inability to craft a believable romance and a strong female character in one narrative (I would counter with Zoe and Wash’s relationship in Firefly even though they don’t fall in love per se during the show.), the fact that Aquaman has always been a supporting player, and that the Hulk is a racist African American caricature. (He’s a character that I’ve never been too fond of. There’s a reason that Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was a one-off novel.)

Probably, the most enlightening essays of the bunch for me were Berlatsky’s well-researched piece about why there are no great Wonder Woman stories, an article about how writer Christopher Priest showed how Black Panther didn’t fit the superhero mold in his run on the book, and also how Stan Lee and Jack Kirby‘s X-Men run is racist, sexist, and just plain bad. I also enjoyed the essay about X-Men Days of Future Past that was paired with the Lee/Kirby one that discussed how Bryan Singer showed “genocide without context” in the film. This idea works even better with X-Men Apocalypse  when Magneto (Under the influence of Apocalypse.) destroys Auschwitz as his tragic backstory as a Holocaust survivor that Singer decided to make the first shot of X-Men in service of yet another CGI disaster movie sequence.

Berlatsky’s thesis for why there are no great Wonder Woman stories is that William Moulton Marston‘s vision for her was so contradictory. (She’s a powerful woman, but also likes to be bound. She is peaceful, but also likes to punch people.) Wonder Woman isn’t like a Spider-Man, Wolverine, or Batman, who Berlatsky says are ciphers and get fit into a bunch of different types of stories. (I think genre jumping is one of Batman’s strengths as a character.) Then, he goes into a deep dive of Denny O’Neil and Mike Sekowsky‘s run on the title starting with Wonder Woman #178, which took a giant dump on Marston’s vision with Wonder Woman saying she is a monster, Steve Trevor acting like a creeper, and plenty of hippy slang and psychedelic art. But unfortunately, O’Neil and Sekowsky couldn’t build up a new vision of Wonder Woman in place of Marston’s, depowered her in the next issue, and gave her a stereotypical Asian martial arts sensei named I-Ching. The rest of the essay is a hilarious chronicle of just how terrible Wonder Woman comics were in the Bronze Age except for some of Diana’s groovy outfits.

Honestly, we as fans of superhero comics often take these brightly colored underwear wearing mostly white men too seriously. I know I’m guilty of going on multi-tweet rants about how Marvel or DC is “misusing” one of the small parts of their intellectual property. Sometimes, we need to sit back and listen to someone, like Berlatsky, who doesn’t give superheroes the benefit of a doubt and isn’t afraid to probe their weaknesses, inadequacies, and utter failure at mirroring reality or being ethical. Because the (non-animated) Justice League is a scrub superhero team, and everyone knows it.

“Your Superhero Sucks” also show the potential of comics criticism to be more than just a mouthpiece/cheering squad for big companies or an exercise in pretentious shelling out the latest Drawn & Quarterly. It can be entertaining, insightful, and provocative just like criticism in any other medium.

Your Favorite Superhero Sucks is set to be released as a self-published e-book on September 19, 2016 and can be preordered here.

Overall Rating: 8.0

Review: Blue Beetle Rebirth #1

Blue BeetleThe first time I ever read any Blue Beetle was when Ted Kord died in the lead up to some Crisis or another – I don’t know which exactly, and it’s not relevant enough to warrant me searching for a specific name. From that death a new Blue Beetle was born, Jaime Reyes, who starred in a 36 issue series before the New 52 rebooted everything.

For some reason I never read the New 52 Blue Beetle, but I did recently just unearth the pre-New 52 comics I owned. Needless to say Blue Beetle: Rebirth #1 couldn’t have come at a better time for my renewed interest in the character. The Rebirth specials are designed first and foremost to bring readers up to speed on where the title character/s are at in their life, while also being entertaining enough to entice the reader to add said book to their pull list – at least that’s my understanding. Blue Beetle Rebirth #1 almost succeeds in doing this.

The comic is well written enabling you to get a great understanding of the people in Jaime’s life, but the events leading up to the comic – the New 52 era – isn’t quite as well covered. The relationships between Jaime and his family are hinted at, and while I would have preferred a deeper explanation this is only the first installment in this series, doing any more than giving the reader the briefest glimpse probably wouldn’t have had the best result.

What we do get is quite enjoyable, and all the elements are in place for a great story, but they never quite come together. Blue Beetle Rebirth #1  isn’t a bad comic, but it’s not the best to have come out of Rebirth, either. Here’s hoping we have a series that gets better with every issue because the potential of the comic is just beneath the surface – and it’s huge.

Story: Keith Giffen Art: Scott Kolins
Story: 6.5 Art: 7 Overall: 7 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review.

Unboxing: Loot Crate’s August 2016 Box “Anti-Hero”

Loot Crate‘s August 2016 release has arrived and here’s what you can find inside. The theme for this month is “Anti-Hero” so check out what’s inside.

There’s a decent amount of items in the box and cool properties, but how do they stack up?! Find out!

You can get your Loot Crate here!

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