Sunday, February 12, 2017

Comics Review: CIVIL WAR II THE OATH from Marvel

CIVIL WAR II: THE OATH  #1 - (Marvel Comics, March 2017) Writer: Nick Spencer.  Artists: Rod Reis with Phil Noto, Rafaele Ienco, Szymon Kudranski & Dono Sanchez-Almara.  Letterer: VC’s Chris Eliopoylos.  32 pages of story. $4.99.  Rated T+.

 

    We did not follow the CIVIL WAR II storyline, which just wrapped up.  The reason is not that we thought it would be a mediocre story. Rather, we prefer not to get wrapped up in storylines that require purchasing so many books in order to follow. 

 

     On the positive side, it does allow the Marvel stable of writers to explore a theme with great depth.  However, it also includes a number of books that link to the event and really only serve as padding and below-average filler. We’d rather not get wrapped up in sorting that out. 

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     Like most everyone else, we’re on a comics budget and would rather purchase books that span more genres and more publishers.  I don’t want to let a single publisher or genre (super-heroes) dominate what I choose to read. We realize a solution to this would be to just purchase the core CIVIL WAR II title and leave it at that. Maybe we’re not disciplined enough to do that, so we just avoid the event altogether.

 

    I gave a similar explanation when a good comics friend asked me if I had read CIVIL WAR II: THE OATH.  He was very enthusiastic in his endorsement of it, and his offer to loan me a copy was persuasive enough that I accepted. I’m glad I did, and I’m glad he supported the book so much.  Good comics need cheerleaders; and sharing our discoveries is what a big part of this hobby is all about. 

 

     CIVIL WAR II: THE OATH is essential reading for comics fans that follow the Marvel titles on a regular basis. This one-shot issue serves as a necessary bridge between that mega-event and the next Marvel mega-event to follow — which features Steve Roger’s Captain America in a very prominent role. 

 

   While I can’t claim to be an expert on what’s been going on in the Marvel books, I’m aware of enough of it to qualify me to write about it. (Marvel fans are welcome to correct me on any unintentional errors.)   

 

      I doubt I’m spoiling it for any readers when I summarize what’s been going on in the CAPTAIN AMERICA books. Steve Rogers was subliminally programmed during his young adult life to be receptive to Hydra, and those unconscious urgings were recently brought to the fore by a Cosmic Cube.  This is the major storyline that writer Nick Spencer has been developing, and will soon see fruition as the next Marvel mega-event. Following the events of the Civil War, Captain America has just been appointed the new head of S.H.I.E.L.D with increased authority and influence. 

 

   This is a book that is heavy on the dialogue, and heavy on the symbolism and implications. There are numerous allusionCivil War II The Oath Preview 4s to the Presidential election and recent political events.  You can ignore them, and just read this as a straight-up narrative, but that’s hard to do. What I admire most is that Captain America’s words can be construed to apply to both sides. Whether you stand for Trump or against him, support the Democrat or Republican platforms, regardless of your views on immigration, national defense, etc. - - the story is written in such a way that readers may feel that Captain America is addressing their individual concerns or beliefs. 

 

   Captain America’s acceptance speech is a real piece of word. We can imagine how much time and thought Spencer put into the crafting of it and the subtle phrasings. Steve Roger’s words to the American public seem to reflect his values, yet there are a few disturbing things about them. 1) I can’t recall him ever criticizing other heroes or decisions in public before - perhaps the influence of the Cosmic Cube makes him a little harder and a little less diplomatic, and 2) Knowing that he’s an undercover Hydra agent makes his words suspicious. I read them thinking that he really doesn’t mean them.  Nice job, and kudos to the speech writer. 

 

   While I admire what Spencer is doing here, and respect his skills  - - I’m not a fan of this — especially what the big reveal at the end of the book implies. 

 

      We’ve read Captain America on and off over the years, and feel that he’s really out of character here. While I realize that he’s been subliminally programmed and corrupted by the power of the Cosmic Cube, the Steve Rogers I know would fight back with every fibre in his core to resist, and win out based on his convictions and strong moral code. 

 

   The Captain America that I love most is the one who makes no judgments about others who are different, extends his helping hand to all, and exhibits the patriotism and support of proper national values. In the current times of suspicion of government and the media, selfishness, rudeness, and egomania - - I prefer to never doubt who Captain America is and what he stands for. 

 

    Sure, this is a temporary change for the sake of a good story that may take one, two or four years to play out fully.   I prefer to wait until then to continue reading about Steve Rogers. 

 

     Nick Spencer’s Captain America is not my Captain America.  Where is writer Ed Brubaker when we need him?

 

BC RATING SYSTEM   

 

STORY: This is an outstanding piece of writing, regardless of how you feel about what’s happening in the book.  There’s almost zero action in this issue, aside from a brief Hulk bar fight.  It’s all talk and conversation. Yet, the dialogue and oration is so engaging that it holds your attention to the very end. 3 POINTS. 

 

ART: I’m can appreciate the effort, but I’m just not a fan of this washed-out painted look. The colors are too drab. On the plus side, there are several artists utilized to complete this book (maybe too many pages for just one artist to make the deadline), and it almost looks seamless. They all tried to utilize the same style, with a couple exceptions that really stand out because of the amount of color used on those pages. I prefer the color and the backgrounds over the muted pastels and lack of secondary details.  1.5 POINTS

 

COVER:   Nice symbolism here, which neatly ties into the just completed Civil War II: partial head shots of Iron Man and Captain Marvel with a vertical black bar (wall) dividing them. They both look determined.  2 POINTS.

 

READ AGAIN?  Yes. You can’t assimilate everything that’s going on here, and it requires multiple readings to grasp all the meanings and symbolism.  1 POINT. 

 

RECOMMEND?   Yes, with limitations.  A big recommendation to readers that have been following either Civil War II or Captain America.  If you’re not a Marvel reader and chose this book to become familiar with these characters, you will be confused and/or lost.  0.5 POINTS.

 

TOTAL RATING: 8 POINTS. Solid. If you are a Marvel fan, this book is essential reading.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

February PREVIEWS Pre-Order Picks: VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve spent several articles trying to persuade comics readers to always pre-order their books from the local comic shops. It’s a highly profitable era for the comics industry, but unfortunately not much of that profit is trickling down to the local store.  They have to work hard and work smart to make a respectable income, and not the big numbers that the publishers and distributor enjoy. 

 

   We’ve dedicated a lot of space to talking about what readers and fans should do.  How about the rest of the industry?

 

    Comic shops can help their own cause. They need to do more to promote pre-ordering from the PREVIEWS catalog. Maybe give some of those away to the regulars once or twice, or just to the big spenders.  Let customers browse through the catalogs and place their orders on the spot while still in the store.  One comic shop that we patronize, Captain Blue Hen in Newark, DE, prints out a one-page checklist of new books and keeps these near the cash register so customers can quickly check off books they want held for them. That’s a good idea.

 

   On the upside, comics publishers are realizing the importance of comic shops to the long term future of their industry and are beginning to be more supportive in terms of helping with promotions, offering incentives, and sometimes buy-back policies when stores increase stocking levels.  There needs to be more of this.

 

  As a distributor, Diamond needs to be more understanding of the needs of their customers.  I don’t think the founder, Steve Geppi, is at fault. He started as a small comic store owner and grew his company to what it is today - - huge. He’s a true comic fan. What may have happened is that Diamond went from being a fan-created company to a bigger corporation and now the financial people and bean-counters are calling the shots. A good beginning would be for some of those people to get out in the field and visit and talk shop with a few comic store owners.  To us, the no return policy that’s been an integral part of Diamond forever, needs to be re-considered. Seems to us that Diamond is set up better than anyone else to put in place a system to take unsold books back. Why should the local comic shop be stuck with excessive inventory?

 

  We don't claim to be an expert on these matters, just a concerned life-long fan of the comics arts who feels that the shop owners on the front lines need a bit more support.

 

   We start off our last Pre-Order Pick column for this month with a new limited series that in it’s first initial story arc required 10 reprinting due to sell-outs.  Stores will probably stock a few more copies of the new series, but you know how you can help.  Pre-order these books!

 

VALIANT COMICS ON SALE IN APRIL . . . . . . . . . .

 

BRITANNIA: WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE #1 of 4 Written by Peter Milligan.  Art by Juan Jose Ryp. Rated Teen+. Prestige format.

 

   The STL040203 early days of the United Kingdom, when most of Great Britain was under the thumb of the Roman Empire, is a fascinating period in history. The ever-able Milligan mixed historical fiction in with mystery and murder for a suspenseful first story arc. We expect no less from this new story.

 

     From the PREVIEWS catalog: “Fifty thousand Romans stand on their feet, watching from the rafters of the coliseum with captured breath as Achillia, a gladiator unlike any that Rome has seen before, faces incredible odds — one lone warrior against five of Rome’s greatest.  Such is the tradition when a female gladiator enters the fray. 


When the carnage is complete, the coliseum roars its approval as Achillia stands victorious.  Now only one match away from winning her freedom, she has begun to gain renown.  The women of Rome, suppressed by their husbands and fathers, have noticed.  The men of Rome, husbands and fathers to a growing horde of women entertaining ideas of independence, have noticed as well.


     On the other side of Rome, a strange mystery swirls through the Palatine Hill.  In the dead of night, down winding alleys, Rome’s elite swear that they see visions of a blood-soaked Apollo walking the city . . . visions that are driving them mad.  Even more are becoming sick with weird fever god-dreams.  Panic ensues in the city. 


The Chief Vestal, Rubria, is arrested by Emperor Nero and threatened with crucifixion unless the deadly curse that’s fallen on Rome is lifted. She asks Antonius Axia, head of Britannia and Rome’s only detective, for help.  She offers only one clue  . .  the gladiator Achillia.”

 

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IMMORTAL BROTHERS: THE TALE OF THE GREEN NIGHT #1  Written by Fred Van Lente.  Art by Cary Nord. 48-page one-shot. Rated Teen+. 

 

STL040209 Van Lente on story and Nord on art - - a dynamic duo for sure. It’s a stand alone tale of The Eternal Warrior in the time of Camelot. That’s a surefire recipe for a great story. The synopsis appears to contain enough spoilers to tell the entire story, but we suspect that is only the tip of the iceberg and expect to find a lot more under the surface layer.

 

    From the PREVIEWS catalog: 


“It’s winter at King Arthur’s court in Camelot, when the monstrous Green Knight appears at the Round Table wearing no armor and bearing a gigantic axe. 


Eager for a challenge suitable for the weaker knights, he insists that they participate in a friendly ’winter’s game’.  Anyone can strike him once with his axe, but on the condition that the Green Knight may return the exact blow in one year’s time. 


Arthur agrees to the games, but the youthful knight, Gilad, takes up the challenge to protect his king.  Much to the court’s surprise, the Knight doesn’t move as Gilad strikes his head off.


  The Green Knight picks ups his own head and gives Gilad his own mighty axe, telling him he is fated to receive the same blow before the year is out.


Now, Sir Gilad must solve the mystery of who the Green Knight is before his hour at the axe comes to pass!  but first, he’ll need to find some help . . . in the form of his immortal brothers, who will be united once again."


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February PREVIEWS Pre-Order Picks: IMAGE COMICS

EDITOR’S NOTE: No, I’m not done talking about the importance of pre-ordering your comics . . . . . . . . . P.S. . . . Thats not me at the right. Its creator Brian Azzarello. Keep reading, well get to why hes pictured here . . . . .

 

Those of us who have watched the evolution of comics distribution and availability have a deeper apAzzarello brian 324 480 s c1preciation for the role of the brick-and-mortar local comic shop.  These began to spring up in small numbers in the mid-to-late 70’s. Comics publishers would use different bar codes on the covers to separate the ‘direct market’(dedicated comic stores) from the wholesale (newsstands and drug stores).  

 

As fans caught on to the trend and began to support the local shops, more and more of them sprung up across the country. It became so successful that comics publishers abandoned the wholesale market, and went straight to the direct market (much to the benefit of the sole remaining survivor of the short-lived distributor wars - - Diamond Distribution). 

 

The surging number of comics stores reached it’s peak in the late 80’s to early 90’s when the speculation/collectibles market went whole-hog for buying and saving comic books in the hopes of a ten-fold or more increase in re-sale value.  When that investment option crashed, many shops folded up. Only the strong survived, the true believers who went into the comics business because of their love for the medium.

 

 The local comic shop played a big role in helping the market grow to where it is today. If you’re a fan, why Moonshine 05 1wouldn’t you shop for books in an environment where the employees were knowledgable and friendly? — and comics fans just like you!  The popularity of trading cards, trading card games, role playing games and collectible statues and action figures also rode to success on the backbone of the local comic shop, who first introduced them to their customers. 

 

  Now, in the 21st century - - - only the smart survive. Comics are available through various mediums, not just the local comic store, and while digital has not replaced print - - it has taken some business away from the local shop.  It’s no longer enough to be a comics fan and hire knowledgable, friendly, and like-minded employees.  You need to have a sharp head for business, and pay attention to things like overhead, inventory management, inventory turnover, sales per square foot, and flow through. 

 

   What can the comic fan do?  1) Support your local comic shop.  2) Do a really small thing, that helps them to be more profitable = Pre-Order Your Books. The comic shop has to pay for what they bring into the store. Knowing that they have an automatic sale for the pre-ordered books helps immensely with inventory management, inventory turnover, and flow through. One small change by the buyer, and the store becomes more efficient and productive as a result. Why not give it a try for a few months?

 

   That doesn’t mean you can’t buy books that you didn’t pre-order.  We love the impulse buy, it’s one of the reasons we love visiting a local comic shop and browsing. (Confession: we pre-order books every month, but probably buy 2x as much on impulse while inside the store).  It just means that the books you really want are guaranteed to be waiting for you next visit to the comic store. You no longer have to haunt the sidewalks every week on Wednesday, waiting for the shop to open. You can pick up your books any day of the week.  Can’t get to the store this week? No problem. They are holding your pre-ordered books just for you. 

 

    Okay, I’m out of steam. Let’s turn our attention to another upcoming book that will probably sell out - - so you know what to do, right?

 

IMAGE COMICS ON SALE IN APRIL . . . . . . . . . .


 

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MOONSHINE, VOLUME 1 TRADE PAPERBACK. Story: Brian Azzarello.  Art: Eduardo Risso. 140 pages. Mature audiences. $9.99

 

   Having the dynamic team behind the successful run of 100 BULLETS  (DC/Vertigo) work together again on a new crime comic gets a big welcome and a round of applause. Set the story in the days of Prohibition, add a horror element, and you have the makings of an incredible tale.  I’ve had my eye on this title since it was announced, preferring to wait until it was collected so I could read it all at one time. (Sometimes I just hate waiting for the next monthly issue.)  At $9.99, which includes the first six monthly issues, it’s a real bargain. 

 

     Here's the synopsis from the PREVIEWS catalog:

 

     “From writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso — the Eisner Award-winning creative team behind the crime classic, 100 BULLETS - - comes a brutal new series that puts a horror twist on a classic gangster tale!

 

     Set deep in Appalachia during Prohibition, MOONSHINE tells the story of Lou Pirlo, a city-slick ‘torpedo’ sent from New York City to negotiate a deal with the best moonshiner in West Virginia, Hiram Holt.  Lou figures it’s a milk run, but what he doesn’t figure is that Holt’s just as cunning and ruthless as any NYC crime boss.  Not only will Holt do anything for his illicit booze operation, he’ll stop at nothing to protect a much darker, bloodier family secret.”

Friday, February 10, 2017

February PREVIEWS Pre-Order Picks: DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT

EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve often wondered why more regular comics readers don’t pre-order their books every month?  


OBJECTION: Some readers just don’t like to order any products in advance, not just comics. They want it when they want it, which is usually now. They expect the comic shop to have enough books on the shelves to satisfy what they are looking for, month after month.


 ANSWER: With the changing times, that’s becoming a bit of a dice roll.  There are so many publishers and so many titles that comic shops can’t stock them all. They have to cut back somewhere — and it’s usually less copies of the bigger titles and sometimes three, two, one or none at all of the lesser known or brand new works.  If readers only want to read books from the Big Two publishers then the odds are better that they can walk in the store and find it. But even then, certain Marvel and DC books become overnight hits through word of mouth and suddenly the shelves are empty. 


Here’s some more books that we believe are going to be under-ordered and out of stock quickly. How to make sure you get one?  You guessed it — - PRE-ORDER!

 

DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT ON SALE IN APRIL . . . . . . . . . .

 

THE SOVEREIGNS #0 Writers: Ray Fawkes (main story). Kyle Higgins (Magnus), Aubrey Sitterson (Doctor Spektor), Chuck Wendig (Turok). Artist: Johnny Desjardins.

 

    Dynamite did a fine job re-introducing the Gold Key iconic heroes with their last mini-series. Now, they re-uSTL039896nite them again for an epic that spans all time and space and poses a threat that may change their makeup or end it. It’s a great jumping-on point for new readers as well as those of us more familiar with these characters.  And there are back-up stories with new versions of these characters. 


     With writers the caliber of Fawkes and Wendig on board, you know you’re in for a good read. And, this is a  48 page introductory issue with just a $1 cover price.  We’ve said before that a bargain intro price is a smart way to bring in new readers — who doesn’t like to check something new out if they are only spending $1 or less, sometimes just 25 cents!

 

   Here’s what the PREVIEWS catalog has to say about this one:  “The beginning of an epic tale that will change everything you know about some of comicdom’s greatest and longest-tenured heroes!  Solar, Magnus, Doctor Spektor & Turok.  Apart they’ve saved countless lives a hundred times over.  Together, they form a team that has protected the world in the past, present and future. Now they will be reunited one last time to face a threat that will forever change their legacy and bring them face to face with their final destiny!

 

Plus three backup features introducing the all-new, all-different, never-before-seen heroes Magnus, Turok and Doctor Spektor. Wait — what?”

 



THE GREATEST ADVENTURE #1  Writer: Bill Willingham. Art: Cezar Razek.

 

  Here are the greatest heroes of famed writer Edgar Rice Burroughs brought together for the very first time in a group adventure.  Who better to script this epic than Bill Willingham, who turned Mother Goose on her heSTL039878ad for FABLES and enjoyed an incredible run on that title.  Tarzan of the Apes, John Carson of Mars, Carson of Venus, and David Innes of Pellucidar. 


   

  In an interview published in both Dynamite’s VAMPIRELLA #0 and the February PREVIEWS, Willingham reveals that the very first non-comic work of fiction he read for pleasure was Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Return Of Tarzan.  Burrough’s other creations followed shortly after that, and Willingham was hooked.



     Willingham states that “The Greatest Adventure contains everything I love that I could fit into a single series, including the most popular characters as well as many obscure ones, which are nevertheless beloved to me.”


 

   Here some more details on the story from the PREVIEWS catalog: 

“In ancient days Jason gathered the greatest heroes of his age and set out on the ultimate sea voyage. Now, in Tarzan’s era, jason Gridley does the same.  The greatest heroes of the Edgar Rice Burroughs universe come together as the crew of the good ship Venture, with none other than Tarzan as their captain.  It’s a race this time, against a battleship of dark hearted villains, and the fate of many worlds hangs in the balance.”

February PREVIEWS Pre-Order Picks: ALBATROSS FUNNYBOOKS

EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve often wondered why more regular comics readers don’t pre-order their books every month? 


OBJECTION: Readers balk at having to pay for PREVIEWS magazine. They don’t want to spend their comics allowance on what amounts to a catalog.  Comic shops could give it away, but that could get expensive and eat into their profit since they don’t get the catalog for free either.


ANSWERS: 1) It’s actually more than a catalog. PREVIEWS also features interviews with writers and artists, as well as special themed articles about various subjects of interest to comics fandom. It’s also the only source if you want to find out what comes out each month in comics, graphic novels, magazines, books, games, trading card, statues and collectibles, and more.


2) You don’t have to buy a copy of PREVIEWS in order to place a pre-order.  You can see everything that’s in the catalog on the PREVIEWS website. Just write or type your own order, include your name and contact information and give it to your local comic shop.


3) Or, ask if you can browse through a store copy of PREVIEWS while you’re in the comic shop - - and put an order together that way.

 

ALBATROSS FUNNYBOOKS ON SALE IN APRIL . . . . . . . . . .

 

   Writer/artist Eric Powell has a unique, likable style that harkens back to the writing and art of 1950’s EC cSTL038481lassics and seems inspired by Jack Davis, Wally Wood and other icons of the time.  His GOON series continues at Dark Horse and is more popular than ever. That popularity has made it possible for Powell to revive his former Albatross Funnybook self-publishing imprint for some new titles and projects. If you haven’t seen HILLBILLY yet, you don’t know what you’re missing (to name just one). 


     Now, Powell is spotlighting some new talent worth checking out.  We think this one will sell off the shelves in a matter of a day or two. Yeah, that means we think if you’re interested you better place a pre-order . . . . .





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NAMWOLF #1  Writer: Fabian Rangel. Artist: Logan Faerber.

 

    

     What’s that you say?  Not another werewolf book!  This one has a neat twist that should make things interesting.  Here’s what the PREVIEWS catalog says about it . . . .


 

     “When scrawny Marty Spencer is drafted into the Vietnam War, he finds himself smack dab in the middle of the heart of darkness.  But Marty has a secret. A secret even from himself.  And Vietnam is a hell of a place to find out you're a werewolf.”

 


February PREVIEWS Pre-Order Picks: IDW Publishing

EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve often wondered why more regular comics readers don’t pre-order their books every month? 


OBJECTION: One of the reasons may be that they don’t want to commit to a monthly book because, especially in the case of the Big 2 publishers, the creative team could quickly change without notice. These days, not many books get beyond the 25th issue, and many are deliberately discontinued and then re-booted. Same goes for writers - - who wants to keep following a book when your favorite writer gets pulled off it?  And who wants to keep reading a book when you don’t like the style of the new artist? 


ANSWER: It used to be that comic shops wanted readers to sign up for automatic pulls on titles, and then get the issues every month. However, we are of the opinion that comic shops would gladly waive the automatic monthly requirement if readers would just say what books they want to get in a particular month, and then pre-order them, perhaps changing what those books are each month.  We’ve been doing this for sometime, because we don’t like to commit to a single book beyond one or two story arcs. It sometimes takes that long to determine if it’s worth reading on a regular basis. This way we are only committing to books that come out two months from now. If we change our mind about a title, then we drop it the following month. Why not ask your comic shop if this type of arrangement is acceptable to them? — You submit a new pre-order for them every month. At least they know if they bring in the books, they will be purchased by you.


  That brings us to our next Pre-Order Pick.  This time it’s an original graphic novel. You better not expect to see multiple copies of this in comic stores - - maybe only one copy if you’re lucky and fortunate enough to get it before someone else buys it. If you want this book, as well you should, you really need to place a pre-order for it . . . . . . . .

 

IDW PUBLISHING COMICS ON SALE IN APRIL . . . . . . . . . .


 

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RED RANGE: A WILD WESTERN ADVENTURE Joe R. Lansdale, writer. Sam Glanzman, artist. Hardcover. Full color. 112 pages. $19.99. ISBN # 978-1-63140-994-3.

 

  This is the first release from the It’s Alive imprint at IDW, and a great start!   

  

     Joe R. Lansdale is a highly skilled writer, especially when it comes to characterization, and is adept at working in many different genres: horror, weird western, fantasy, science fiction and steampunk.  He’s won numerous awards, and is an eight-time recipient of the Bram Stoker Award. His work on several JONAH HEX limited series with artist Tim Truman for DC Comics are classics, and worth seeking out in reprints. 

 

   This looks to be another great western story, as only Lansdale can tell it. We expect to encounter some quirky surprises along the way.  Here’s a re-cap of the story, courtesy of the PREVIEWS catalog . . . . .

 

     “Set during the 19th century, and combining an unusual mix of racial unrest, odd ball characters, and strange happenings, RED RANGE is a  unique take on ‘The Western’.


    During a Klan lynching, a mysterious rider appears, and proves to be a deadly shot.  It is the Red Mask, a tough, lethal, black man who wisely keeps his identity concealed, especially while battling his enemies.  Through a series of events, the Red Mask continues to thwart the violent and hateful actions of the Klan, while picking up an orphan along the way, and teaching him how to turn his hate into something more positive.”


Thursday, February 9, 2017

February PREVIEWS Pre-Order Picks: AFTERSHOCK COMICS

EDITOR’S NOTE: Has this ever happened to you? You hear or read about a new comic title and decide to buy a copy. You drive to your favorite local comic shop during the week of release . . . and learn that it sold out, and they can’t get more copies. How do you make sure that the books you want will always be available?  The best way we know is to use the PREVIEWS catalog, select what you want, and pre-order it. If more customers placed pre-orders, the local comic shop could stop buying titles based on guesswork. We looked over the Feb PREVIEWS catalog (for books releasing in April) and picked those titles we think might sell out quickly - - all the more reason for you to pre-order them!

 

AFTERSHOCK COMICS ON SALE IN APRIL . . . . . . . . . .

 

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ELEANOR & THE EGRET #1 John Layman, writer. Sam Keith, artist.  


 

Quite a talented creative team with Layman, the writer/creator of CHEW and Keith, the writer/creator/artist of MAXX working together. 

 

 

 

 In 19th century Paris a detective is on the trail of a peculiar art thief and an unusual accomplice.  We’ve seen a preview of some pages of Issue #1 and there’s a whimsical look to the art and a wry sense of humor to the story. It could be a sleeper hit that surprises a lot of folks, including the comic stores that under-order it. Layman and Keith fans take note!

 










WORLD READER #1  Jeff Loveless, writer.  Juan Doe, artist. 

 

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We love science-fiction in comics when it’s done properly.


Writer Loveless has earned a favorable reputation with his work on GROOT for Marvel. He’s also a  staff writer for The Jimmy Kimmel Show on late night television. Artist Doe has earned his chops on both AMERICAN MONSTER and ANIMOSITY for Aftershock, and we’d love to see what he does with a science-fiction property.

 

     WORLD READER tells the story of astronaut Sarah, who can speak directly to the ghosts of dead planets.  She’s working hard to discover what has been killing the universe. She’s trying to save Earth from being the next target, and trying to balance gaining the trust of her crew while maintaining her sanity due to all the dead voices in her head. 


Another book that could easily sell out off the store shelves.


Book Review: VISIONS OF THE MUTANT RAIN FOREST

 

VISIONS OF THE MUTANT RAIN FOREST  by Robert Frazier and Bruce Boston (Crystal Lake Publishing, release date February 10, 2017) Kindle edition. Collection of poems and stories.


     For many years I was an avid science-fiction reader, doing my best to keep abreast of the field and stay familiar with the cream of the crop. Yet, I never encountered the Mutant Rain Forest, and so escaped it’s alluring tendrils.  Now, after wandering inside and becoming lost in VISIONS OF THE MUTANT RAIN FOREST, I find myself entwined in the enchantment. 

 

    Still, I have managed to untangle myself long enough to w51q7FKsfT3Lrite this review and warmly welcome new travelers to the wonders of bedazzling descriptions and captivating characteristics that encompass a continent-wide swath of rain forest out of control and on the warpath. Apparently occurring in some unspecified future, the rain forests of South America have adjusted and adapted to civilization’s assaults on the environment, linked up and gone on a territorial campaign to engulf the entire continent.

 

   Authors and SFPA Grandmaster Poets Robert Frazier and Bruce Boston created the Mutant Rain Forest together and have explored it since the late 1980s in poems and stories, both collaborative and solo works.  Their collaborative poem “Return to the Mutant Rain Forest” was named the All-Time Favorite Science Fiction, Fantasy, or Horror Poem in a 2006 Locus magazine reader survey.

 

     VISIONS OF THE MUTANT RAIN FOREST collects eight stories and thirty-nine poems and verse, and is interspersed with a smattering of black and white illustrations. Two of the stories are original to this collection, as well as five new poems. 

 

     Rather than a linked narrative, the book reads more like a tropical travelogue. Yet, the descriptive passages contain such vivid images that glossy photographs could never do justice to them. The rain forest is simply too vast in length, width and depth that not even a panoramic lens could accurately picture its’ grandeur.

 

   From necrophida moths and Kongii sloths to blue deundes and shadow monkeys the rain forest is awash in mutated lifeforms. Dispersed within the green foliage continually growing and spreading everywhere live neon toucans, diablo fantasmas, and howler monkeys.  The gargantua trees grow as tall as skyscrapers and Jaguar men live in tree villages in the uppermost reaches. Large sentient termites communicate through a hive intelligence and have the ability to come together and form man-like shapes.  Having the flora and fauna delineated through poetic verse allows them to manifest within the reader’s memory bank.

You won’t soon forget the images. 

 

   Rather than provide a map or an outline of who, when, where, why and how this transformation happened, authors Frazier and Boston leave us to find the pieces of revelation strewn throughout the poems. Most revealing are the poems “Prelude”, “Three Evocations of the Mutant Rain Forest”, “The Rain That Falls in the Mutant Rain Forest”, and “The Reach of the Mutant Rain Forest”. 

Most disturbing is “The Death of a Dome City” which could serve as an end piece in it’s telling of the last outpost choked off by the surrounding forest. 

 

     The short stories are all memorable and chilling. Among the best are “Holos At An Exhibition of the Mutant Rain Forest”(a holographer searching the forest for a cat-like humanoid), “Going Green in the Mutant Rain Forest” (being absorbed by a tree), “Cruising Through Blueland” (rebels battle a high tech army in a restricted zone of war games), and “The Tale Within” (a jungle guide is more than meets the eye). We were especially impressed by “Surrounded by the Mutant Rain Forest” (a tale of love and transformation). 

 

     There are enough elements of science fiction, fantasy and horror within VISIONS OF THE MUTANT RAIN FOREST to satisfy all readers of these genres. 

 

DISCLOSURE: A free digital copy was provided by the publisher, with the hope of an unbiased, honest review.