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Review: American Carnage #5

American Carnage #5

24 is one of those shows which draws you in with its always relevant stories and how they made the stakes so real. Kiefer Sutherland’s performance was even-keeled yet pointed. Each season puts the viewer in the passenger side while evoking all the palace intrigue viewers have come to enjoy and all the action, television can put on the screen. The show’s real stars were its villains.

Each season brought its own dangers and villains, each one more insidious than the previous season. One of the most intriguing seasons was when they were fighting an insidious force within the presidency. Our heroes found a way to fight off the books and with no help. In the brilliantly crafted American Carnage #5, Curry’s actions catch wind of some very interested parties.

We open up on Sheila being called for a meeting with someone who just so happens to be one of Morgan’s associates, looking to cut a deal so that they could unleash their plans. We also find Richard being questioned by Morgan trying to elicit what his true intentions are. Richard reaches out to Sheila, to let her know, he is about to cross a line as it is the only way to take down Morgan. By the issue‘s end, Richard has proven himself but the line may have become blurred because of it.

Overall, American Carnage #5 is an excellent issue, which pushes our protagonists to the edge. The story by Hill is exceptional. The art by the creative team is astounding. Altogether, a story that gets even murkier.

Story: Bryan Edward Hill Art: Leandro Fernandez, Dean White and Ben Oliver
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy


Purchase: comiXology – Amazon – Kindle

Review: American Carnage #4

AMERICAN CARNAGE #4

Edward Norton is one of those actors whose presence on onscreen is understated but resonant. The way he underplays most of his characters makes viewing them a pleasure as he understands the story is what makes the story. Most people don’t know that he co-wrote Frida, the movie about much-heralded and immortal Frida Kahlo. One of my favorite movies by him is Rounders, a movie where he showed his vulnerability.

Where I actually found about him was in American History X. It showed how a reformed Nazi had to reckon with his past. Though the movie had some tough scenes to watch, it showed the power of redemption. In the brilliantly crafted American Carnage #4, Wright finally infiltrates the organization which is much like in American History X, leading to some uncomfortable truths.

We open up on Jennifer Morgan talking to the police, as the detective assigned to the case, trying to assess if this was racially motivated and why. We eventually find out that Wynn might have dissension in the ranks, as what happened to Jennifer, maybe some type of message. Richard eventually reaches out to Sheila, who implores him to agitate the situation By the issue‘s end, someone guns down Richard, as what comes next is only that more complicated

Overall, a grand issue, American Carnage #4 changes the definition of “pulse-pounding”. The story by Bryan Edward Hill is outstanding. The art by the creative team is astonishing. Altogether, a story that may mean the end for one character.

Story: Bryan Edward Hill Art: Leandro Fernandez, Dean White, and Ben Oliver
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy


Purchase: comiXology – Amazon – Kindle

Review: American Carnage #3

AMERICAN CARNAGE #3

There is that point in most procedural stories, where there is the line of no return. In the show The Shield, it was an often slippery slope for Vic Mackey and his crew. They not only chased after real criminals but they partook in criminal activities. This led to some close calls and the eventual arrest of this group. It showed that when one does not have remorse they have never really understood morality in the first place.

In the very first episode, they got rid of the very character who could have exposed them. This is where they solidified themselves as something quite different than anything else on the television landscape. It is was that line that Vic Mackey never had a problem crossing that most of us would not. In the brilliantly crafted American Carnage #3, Wright is on the crux of that point of no return.

We open on Wright right as the gang was about to kill a random black Man they found on the street, which due to unforeseen events, becomes messy, leading Wright to kill the man to deescalate the situation. We also find out in a flashback, that Wright during psych evaluation, was questioned about his racial identity and  how we would use it as motivation during this particular assignment. Before he could get his bearings, a masked man shows up to take an uncompromising picture of Richard, which can blow his cover and something the Neo Nazi group may be using as leverage. By Issue‘s end, someone looks to kill Morgan’s daughter, making the whole case even more bizarre.

Overall, American Carnage #3 is a great issue that delivers the story its twist. The issue by Bryan Edward Hill is excellent. The art by the creative team is stunning. Altogether, a story that up the stakes for its protagonist.

Story: Bryan Edward Hill Art: Leandro Fernandez, Dean White, and Ben Oliver
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy


Purchase: comiXology – Amazon – Kindle

Review: American Carnage #2

American Carnage #2

Lawrence Fishburne is one of those actors whose presence onscreen gets you right away. Far from the fact that he is magnetic; the tenor of his voice makes him a force to be reckoned with. This is why I was excited to hear that he’ll be narrating the upcoming Audible adaptation of The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Though these days, he is known more for Black-Ish, he got his start in bit roles for Spike Lee.

Those roles led to bigger roles, one of which was Deep Cover. That film’s is a brilliant procedural movie and an equally excellent character study. There was a point in the story where he had to prove his “worthiness,” a scene which showed Fishburne at his most commanding up to that point. In the second issue of brilliantly crafted American Carnage, Wright must prove his fealty to the Neo Nazis he is infiltrating.

We open on Wright at a party with Neo-Nazis , as he realizes this where he may be able to break the case. While Morgan’s daughter, Jennifer, steps into a conversation, where we find out those larger players are in the game, ones with more power and more legitimacy than Wynn Morgan ever dreamt of. Eventually, someone tries Richard, and he is more than happy to punch a Nazi.  By the issue‘s end, his initiation begins where his morals will be tested.

Overall, a great second issue, that insinuates the reader even deeper. The story by Bryan Edward Hill is first-rate. The art by the creative team is gorgeous Altogether, a sobering looks at a world that hate spawns.

Story: Bryan Edward Hill Art: Leandro Fernandez, Dean White, and Ben Oliver
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindle

Review: American Carnage #1

American Carnage #1

Hate is one of those things that human beings have felt since the beginning of time. What has changed as of recent is that certain types of hate have become more acceptable. What was abhorred only a few years ago has been encouraged by certain people in power. The 2016 election and what has happened since has shown that America has not made any real progress from the founding of our country.

Certain hate groups have found themselves to be not so much “true” villains anymore. Morals have truly become divided along party lines.  Which brings me to question would someone or anyone who believes in hate be considered a “good person”? In the debut issue of brilliantly crafted American Carnage, writer Bryan Edward Hill and the creative team seeks to explore those lines of divide as an FBI agent goes undercover in a Neo Nazi group.

We open on FBI Agent Curry where she is testifying before an ethics board on the incident which led to her injuries. We soon find out a Neo-Nazi group terrorized a family Curry had befriended as the domestic terrorists firebombed their home with them in it. We also meet a former FBI Agent, Richard Wright, who now works as a private detective. Curry tries to convince Wright that there is something more sinister to a local politician. While it might seem on the surface nothing is there there’s clearly something brewing.

Overall, an excellent debut issue that drops you into a world that is unfortunately way too familiar. The story by Hill is excellent. The art by the creative team is beautiful. Altogether, a sobering looks at the ugliness hiding in plain sight.

Story: Bryan Edward Hill Art: Leandro Fernandez, Dean White, and Ben Oliver
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Workers of the world! Here’s a list of comics to celebrate your Labor Day

Ah, the pleasures of having Labor Day off to celebrate work. It’s a contradiction as old as time, where honoring work means taking a (well-deserved and utterly necessary) break from it. After all, most workers have jobs that go year-round and the daily grind does take a toll. A day off is the least that can be afforded to them.

Recognition is the other thing we should doling out in industrial quantities during this federal holiday. As such, comic books are filled with stories about the fruits of labor, both in a literal and a politically figurative sense. Be it by actually exploring the hardships of being a worker to acknowledging the monumental task that is organizing movements in support of them, labor is central to the motivations behind some of comic’s best stories.

Here’s a short list of comics that either directly or indirectly showcase the roles workers play in keeping life and society functional. These comics dive headfirst into the specifics of what ‘putting in the work’ means, recognizing that everything that’s done in the service of others usually rests on human struggles both painful and exhausting. The comics below give workers their time in the spotlight so we can appreciate just how much it takes to go out and keep the world turning.

Labor Day Comics
Trashed

1. Trashed, written and illustrated by Derf Backderf

This book can best be described as a sobering love letter to one of the most underappreciated and openly repudiated jobs known to humankind: garbage collection. Following Backderf’s critically-acclaimed My Best Friend Dahmer, Trashed is based on the author’s time as a sanitation worker himself, surrounded by other workers just as enthused about collecting trash as he was (which wasn’t a whole lot). The inner workings of sanitation are presented through a combination of autobiographical anecdotes and well-researched facts and data that reveal just how complex, dangerous, and even clumsy picking up and storing trash can be. It’s a funny but scary look at how sanitation can save the world while also turn it into a ticking time bomb.

Damage Control

2. Damage Control, originally created by Dwayne McDuffie (W) and Ernie Colón (A)

A superhero’s job is to save the day, crumbling infrastructure be damned. With them, though, comes a unique concern for property damage, mostly focused on the inevitability of mass destruction. In comes a company solely dedicated to cleaning up after extinction-level battles and then putting the pieces back together called Damage Control. In essence, this Marvel comic is about unsung heroes. It’s about doing essential work knowing there’s no glory waiting at the end of it (much like Trashed, in some respects). McDuffie’s scripts are a masterclass on chaos and property politics, but it’s Colón’s attention to detail amidst the chaos that sets this story apart. The original series (there are a total of 4 series published) takes to a kind of MAD Magazine-style approach to comedy with visual gags and crude humor leading the charge, but it’s all well-orchestrated and it makes for reading that rewards those who scan comics pages whole multiple times.

Labor Day Comics
She-Hulk

3. She-Hulk: Law and Disorder, written by Charles Soule and illustrated by Javier Pulido

At a glance, Soule and Pulido’s She-Hulk gives the impression of being a kind of ‘slice of life’ story about a superhero that chooses law as her preferred battleground. The book, however, is about so much more, and it might have more in common with Damage Control than an actual legal drama. She-Hulk takes the anger-filled superhero and turns her into a working-class woman that’s trying (and struggling) to make her own legal services business work. She puts it all together from the ground up but is immediately confronted with the hardships of balancing work, heroics, and the semblance of a personal life on an even keel. One of the greatest, and most entertaining, aspects of the comic lies in the formation of the character’s legal practice and how at odds it can be being both a superhero and a normal person with other interests. It dives deep into the complications of working multiple jobs, but it shows an appreciation for those who lead their lives under that predicament. Soule and Pulido create a story that supports and applauds those who undertake the task of holding several jobs at once, honoring the sacrifice it requires of one’s self to survive it.

Labor Day Comics
Ex Machina

4. Ex Machina, written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Tony Harris

While aggressively political and metaphorical, Ex Machina does something few other stories on governmental responsibility manage to achieve: make the role of an elected official look and feel like a real job. The story follows Mitchel Hundred, a man that renounces his superhero persona to become mayor of New York city. After only managing to save one of the Twin Towers during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hundred realizes he can do more good as an elected official rather than as a superhero. Vaughan and Harris take full advantage of this setup to go beyond political speeches and discourse to get Hundred’s hands dirty with the real act of running a government. Hundred has to address the legality of surveillance in times of crisis, protocols for public demonstrations, controversial content in city museums, infrastructure, and police freedoms all while controlling the urge to use his still functioning superpowers to speed the process up. As is the case in She-Hulk, Hundred also attempts (with few successes) to balance his personal life with the job. Problem is, the job demands too much of his time, hence the temptation to use his powers. Ex Machina is a stark reminder that being an elected official actually means holding down a job with real consequences attached to it, something many politicians seem to have lost sight of.

Gotham Central

5. Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty, written by Ed Brubaker & Greg Rucka and illustrated by Michael Lark

The profession of law enforcement is under serious scrutiny at the present moment, and rightfully so, but it’s still a job certain men and women take on despite the complexities of outdated and dysfunctional practices that are in desperate need of revision. And that’s on top of the racial problems that have shaped its many, many systems. However, there are those who do take the job seriously and work hard to ‘protect and serve’ with the best of intentions under the law. Gotham Central prioritizes this viewpoint, focusing the cops and detectives that work in Batman’s Gotham City. Without the resources or the exceptions afforded to the Dark Knight, the GCPD is still tasked with responding to criminal activity, regardless of whether it’s of the supervillain type or not. Main characters René Montoya, Crispus Allen, Marcus Driver, and “Josie Mac” MacDonald, among others, are divided into day and night shifts in a city that is in a constant flux of crime. The job takes its toll on a personal level and there’s an emphasis on how much one gives in the line of duty, but there’s also an appreciation of honest cops walking the line in the face of overwhelming police corruption and abuse. It’s a complicated and sometimes contradictory read, but it makes no excuses while confronting the damning inconsistencies of the job.

Labor Day comics
Wooblies!: A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World

6. Wooblies! A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World, edited by Peter Buhle & Nicole Schulman

The Industrial Workers of the World, or IWW, has a wild and exuberant history, to say the least, which makes it the ideal subject for comic book storytelling. The IWW was created in Chicago, Illinois in 1905 as a union for marginalized workers led by Marxist principles. Miners, lumber workers, immigrant workers, indigenous workers, non-white workers, severely underrepresented female workers, and workers all over that had no rights or protections saw in the IWW as the means to fight towards better working conditions. Wooblies! (alluding to the nickname given to the members of the union) enlists the talents of cartoonists such as Peter Kuper, Harvey Pekar, Trina Robbins, Sharon Rudahl, Sue Coe, Carlos Cortez, among others to tell the story of how forgotten and underrepresented workers rose up against the odds to gain the rights and respect owed to them. The anthology has a very underground ‘comix’ feel to it, but it’s allegorical and metaphorical inclinations do a better job of capturing labor struggles better than a traditional story ever could. This might be the quintessential Labor Day reading right here.


Workers, laborers, holders of jobs, these comics honor your contributions, your efforts, and the near impossible feats you pull off. Read and relax, but overall, enjoy your hard-earned Labor Day holiday.

Explore Vertigo with this comiXology Sale – 50% and more off!

Explore the world of DC‘s Vertigo comics with this sale through comiXology. Get classic and praised series like Sandman, Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, Y: The Last Man, Transmetropolitan, and more!

There’s 391 comics and collections to choose from starting at 50% off!

Hurry, the sale ends on April 13.

Y: The Last Man Vol. 1: Unmanned

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Spike Lee to Direct Ron Wimberly’s Prince of Cats

Prince of Cats

The Hollywood Reporter has the scoop that iconic director Spike Lee will be directing Prince of Cats. The film is based on the graphic novel by Ron Wimberly and is a riff on Romeo & Juliet set in the 1980s hip-hop scene.

Lee will rewrite the script working with Wimberly and writer Selwyn Seyfu Hinds. Hinds wrote the initial script for the adaptation.

In August 2018 the film landed with Legendary and was being developed as a vehicle for Lakeith Stanfield. It’s unknown if Stanfield is still attached to the movie.

The story’s spin on the classic tale by the Bard is that it’s seen through the eyes of Tybalt, Juliet’s angry and duel-loving cousin. The film follows Tybalt and his Capulet brothers who live in Da People’s Republic of Brooklyn, a world of sword dueling, DJing, emceeing, breakdancing, and graffiti.

The graphic novel was originally released through DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint and was recently re-released through Image Comics.

The story is a return to Brooklyn for Lee, a favorite setting of his films and has been featured in his She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Crooklyn, Clockers, He Got Game and Red Hook Summer.

Around the Tubes

DCeased #6

It’s new comic day tomorrow! What are you all excited for? What do you plan on getting? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Engadget – Microsoft archived ‘Superman’ on its Project Silica glass storage medium – Good choice.

Newsarama – DC Quietly Closed Vertigo’s Doors Early – Pour one out.

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: Not Even Bones turns the YA novel into an intriguing web series – Free comics!

Reviews

Talking Comics – DCeased #6
The Beat –
The Pits of Hell

Preview: Books of Magic #13

Books of Magic #13

(W) Kat Howard (A) Tom Fowler (CA) Kai Carpenter
In Shops: Oct 23, 2019
SRP: $3.99

Using magic thoughtlessly has left Tim Hunter’s family in ruins, and he’s ready to give it up entirely. But before he breaks his wand and drowns his books, he’s determined to heal the psychic damage he’s done to his own father’s mind. Unfortunately, like all children, he may not be prepared to handle the truth of what sort of man his father really is…

Books of Magic #13
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