New York Comic Con 2012 Sketchbook: Daredevil by Paolo Rivera

Daredevil

One of the best things I read in 2012 was Mark Waid’s Daredevil. Not only was it well written, but the art was amazing and you can thank Paolo Rivera for a lot of that. You can check out more of Paolo’s work here.

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New York Comic Con 2012 Sketchbook: Cable by Reilly Brown

Cable by Reilly Brown

I’m on vacation this week so we’ll be posting some quick stuff, mostly sketches I picked up at New York Comic Con 2012 starting with this one of Cable by Reilly Brown.

Reilly is an awesome artist and I really loved his work on the Cable and Deadpool series. That said, getting a sketch of Cable from him made me super excited. You can catch up on his current projects on his Tumblr. You should also check out his own project Power Play which I highly recommend.

 

Uncanny Avengers #9

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What’s the best part of birthdays? Birthday presents! One of my coworkers gave me the recent Uncanny Avengers #9 which comes at a perfect time, since I just got through the first collected volume of the series.

The series is still following the same main plot points from before. The Apocalypse Twins are now shown as adults who seem to have some sort of plan to destroy everything, and it’s up to this group of Avengers to save everything.

To make matters more confusing, it turns out that a lot of these current problems are the result of Kang the Conqueror and Immortus’ influence on the time streams. I know they are the same person, but the fact that both of them have independently messed things up has to count for something.

There’s also a lot of division on the team, between the mutants that make up the group and Thor being on one side, and the traditional Avengers on the other. There’s a lot of yelling when it’s revealed that Wolverine lead the covert mission to kill the young child Apocalypse.

The book ends with the Apocalypse Twins revealing their new Four Horsemen: Banshee, Daken, Grim Reaper and Sentry. Things can’t be going to well for the Uncanny Avengers.

Rick Remender does a great job carrying plot points from not only earlier in this series, but going back to his work on Uncanny X-Force. And on the visual side of things, David Acuna is great in how he creates a very unique take on these classic characters.

WWE Classic Superstars: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

"Rowdy" Rody Piper“Rowdy” Roddy Piper was one of my favorite wrestlers as a young child. I don’t know why I connected so much with him so much; maybe it was because he’s the only significant Scotsman in popular culture or maybe because I’ve always been a snarky, wise cracking person. Anyway, I always loved Piper, even more so than Hulk Hogan. His figure in the WWE Classic Superstars line was a must have.

"Rowdy" Rody Piper

The sculpting on the figure is really good, capturing his signature “Hot Rod!” ringer t-shirt. The only problem I have with the figure is that the face doesn’t really look that much like Piper. They got the hair perfectly though.

"Rowdy" Rody Piper

Get rowdy!

But face aside, Jakks did a really good job capturing his look. He’s wearing his kilt, with the appropriate tartan. You can remove the kilt, and he’s wearing his blue wrestling trunks underneath. I wouldn’t recommend it, as he looks kind of odd wearing just trunks and a t-shirt. The figure looks awesome on my shelf with the rest of his wrestling chums.

On the accessory side, he comes with the original style WWF Intercontinental Championship title belt that he had in early 1992. I still think the match he had with the Mountie on Saturday Night Main Event, with him wearing a zap proof shirt to prevent the Canadian villain’s zap stick from being a factor, was one of the silliest things ever in pro wrestling.He also comes with a microphone. It’s appropriate since he was/is among the best talkers ever in the history of wrestling.

Criticisms aside, it is a really fun action figure and I’m very happy to have it. He stands proudly over Hogan.

WWE Classic Superstars: Sabu

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During the mid 2000s, I was kind of obsessed with buying the Jakks WWE Classic Superstars line. Having regularly watched Extreme Championship wrestling since it’s debut (lets face it; I was an impressionable youth) It only seemed right that I would get the Sabu figure.

SabuSabu is dressed in his typical ring gear. His baggy MC Hammer style pants are made out of a sparkly/shiny cloth which really makes him stand out. The detailing is right, even down to his sash belt

They also painted on his various wrist and arm tapes which are a nice touch. Sabu also came with a vinyl white version of his typical headdress to complete the look. The action figure also came with a folding chair as an accessory, so you can have him hit all of his signature wrestling moves, from the Arabian Facebuster to the Triple Jump Moonsault to the rest of your unsuspecting action figures.

Sabu

Jakks received a lot of criticism for how much they recycled parts of action figures and didn’t detail the figures enough. This figure proves to be the exception. Sabu has all his appropriate scarring on his chest and arms, showing the pains of wrestling in barbed wire rings.

Ultimately, this is one of my favorite action figures from this line. It looks really cool and serves as a nice nostalgia piece to the days when a glorified bingo hall in south Philadelphia was the epicenter of the wrestling universe.

Uncanny Avengers Volume 1: The Red Shadow

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Uncanny Avengers is a follow up of sorts to the events of Avengers vs. X-Men, with a new subgroup of Avengers being assembled for two reasons: to protect the world from super human threats and to publicly show that mutants are a positive force on the world. What this new team–and it’s new leader Havok–get to tackle in their first mission is the Red Skull.

Although technically a clone of the original, the Red Skull has a diabolical plan of his own that harkens back to his Nazi origins. Skull has exhumed the body of Professor Xavier in order to graft the dead mutant’s brain to his own, thus giving him strong telepathic powers. He uses this newly found skill to control the minds of average New Yorkers into murdering mutants. Clearly writer Rick Remender doesn’t care about the laws of science.

But what hakes this work is how the team itself interacts with each other. Havok may be the leader of the group, but Captain America is having a somewhat hard time adjusting to the fact that he’s not in charge. There’s also a lot of tension between Rogue and Scarlet Witch as well. Ultimately, the Avengers are able to stop the Red Skull. As this is going on, there is the birth of twins that seems somewhat important. Thanks to Wikipedia, it turns out that those are the evil future Archangel-as-Apocalypse’s children.

We also get a feel good moment with Havok during a press conference, as he pretty much says that he’d rather be called a human than a mutant. This feeling is shortlived, as an attacking Grim Reaper is killed accidentally by Rogue. So what was arranged to be a huge moment in the coexistence between man and mutant alike turns out to be the broadcast of a mutant killing someone (although a villain) to every television viewer in the world. That has got to hurt their Q rating.

Uncanny X-Force #7

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I don’t usually read Uncanny X-Force, but when I do I certainly find it interesting. Writer Sam Humphries seems to have assembled some sort of love quadrangle!

Not having really read this latest volume or the conclusion of the previous, I will admit that I’m a little behind on some of the character developments. But what I do know is that Fantomex has been split into three separate beings based on the three brains that he had. Aside from him, there is now a female side of him named Cluster and a more evil version of called Weapon XIII. Ultimately, Cluster and Fantomex get along for the most part.

There is a lot of flashbacks going on in this which makes it a little confusing at times. Fantomex, Cluster and Psylocke tracking some mutant (who thanks to some online detective work seems to be Bishop), as well as Fantomex and Psylocke going on a string of high-end burglaries to pay for an operation for his mother. This part didn’t really make much sense to me, as Psylocke is pretty wealthy being a member of the Braddock family. Surely her–or her brother Captain Britain–could cough up some money for this.

But what’s more interesting is that there is a very bizarre romantic situation developing. When I read the first volume of Uncanny X-Force, I detected some weird foreshadowing of a Psylocke/Fantomex relationship. I was right; this issue started with them enjoying some post-coital cuddling. Not only that, but Cluster also professed her love of Psylocke which was reciprocated. And the story ends with Weapon XIII having Psylocke kidnapped, and then him telling her that he indeed loves her.

To me, this looks like it’s going to end with the three parts of Fantomex in a fight to the death, leaving only one part. There’s a bit of a mystery to this and it should be interesting to see how it ends. My money is on Cluster getting killed and Psylocke avenging her by taking Weapon XIII’s life, leaving her with an oddly emotionally distant scoundrel in Fantomex.

X-Force Movie Line-Up: Who Makes Up The Roster?

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With the San Diego Comic Con next week, the net is buzzing about an announcement for a X-Force movie. Bleeding Cool has been speculating about it all week, and X-Force co-creator Rob Liefeld has been tweeting up a storm. That said who gets to be in the movie?

I would assume that it would be the original era, as opposed to the X-Force as Wolverine’s covert hit squad. That said, it would be safe to assume that Cable would be in this and would be front and center with the team. I would assume that the movie would branch off from X-Men: The Last Stand, with a group of mutant students from the Xavier Institute going on their own under his leadership.

You would need someone to be a more direct counterpoint to Cable, and I think that is where Cannonball comes in. But as far as the rest of who should (or shouldn’t) be in the movie is pretty up in the air.

Domino makes sense, as she kind of serves as a second to Cable. Warpath brings a unique choice, as they haven’t really had any Native American characters in a super hero movie before. Having Rictor and Sunspot, who are Mexican and Brazillian respectively, might help make the movie easier to market in Latin America. But would they make Rictor be openly gay in the movie as he is in the comics? The same question could be raised if they bring in his boyfriend Shatterstar into the film. That would be another first, too, with having a gay super hero in a mainstream movie.

Sadly, I don’t think anyone would notice or miss Feral and Boom Boom if they weren’t included in the film other than me. So what do you think?

 

It Came From San Diego Comic Con 2013: GI Joe vs. Transformers

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For the last few years, Hasbro has had a GI Joe vs. Transformers set as an exclusive for the San Diego Comic Con. This summer the company has completely outdone themselves.

The set comes with three figures. The Snake Eyes is pretty forgettable, but the rest are amazing. It comes with a figure of the Decepticon Bludgeon’s Pretender exterior. The Pretenders aren’t just Chrissy Hynde’s backing band; they were a sub-line of Transformers that gave the robots a humanoid exterior. And in Bludgeon’s case, it was a zombie samurai. I’m also loving that Baroness comes with the evil Ravage in the right scale to the rest of the GI Joe figures.gijoe-sdcc-2013-4On the vehicular side, it comes with two Autobot inspired vehicles for the GI Joes. The classic VAMP jeep is decorated to look like Hound, who turned into a military jeep.
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And to protect the sky, the GI Joe Skystriker attack plane is made up to look like the Autobot Jetfire. This is extra awesome, as Jetfire himself was a re-decoed Valkyrie plane from the old Robotech toy line, and this vehicle is in scale with the old Robotech action figures. Nerd bliss, I tell you.gijoe-sdcc-2013-3

It also comes with Blaster, who transformed into a boom box and you can ‘t get more 1980s then that. But Blaster also comes with the cassette tapes that turned into tiny Autobot spies. How cool is that!

My birthday is coming up and I would love any of these!

Thunderbolts #6

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Thunderbolts #6 pretty much serves as a book end for the first story arc, tying up the first five issues and setting up what comes next. It turns out that the real reason there was so much interest in Kata Jaya was that the American government had been secretly running a gamma base there for quite some time. Knowing that, everything else finally starts to make sense.

The Leader had uploaded his brain all over the internet and now knows nothing of his past. His brother, Mad Man knew that and teamed up with the Kata Jayan government. If they could create a living network of computers–in this case, people plugged into a computer network–only then could they begin to relearn what the Leader had once known. And in this case, it was gamma powered weaponry.

That ghost like figure from the last issue was Mercy who reminds Red Hulk that he can’t just kill the Leader. Mad Man also tries one last time to stop the Thunderbolts, but meets a gruesome demise when they plug him into the human server network and he literally dies of information overload. His head explodes.

Everyone comes to the realization that even though Mad Man has been taken out, whatever he was working on is no longer on the island. There’s a lot of mistrust amongst the team, especially since Red Hulk has been so secretive about the nature of the mission and the fact that they have to pretty much babysit a brain-dead Leader. Punisher and Elektra seem to be happy with their friends with benefits, which makes Deadpool insanely jealous. Doesn’t he know that he’s disgusting.

One of the things I’ve noticed through these last six issues is how much Venom is the moral compass of this book, something the Eddie Brock version of the character could never be. Flash Thompson has made a fine addition to that character’s host-ship.

Darkhawk 25

 

darkhawk-25I’ve been aware of Darkhawk as a character since his heyday, thanks to his appearance in the various Marvel trading card sets of the 1990s. But this is the first issue of his series I’ve ever read, about twenty years too late. So how was it?

In the words of former Weezer bassist Matt Sharp, “Not so good Al.” It turns out that Darkhawk is a pretty lame character and this issue explains his armor’s origin. It turns out that he possesses the last of the Hawk crystals, and has to defeat the only one left in the universe called Evilhawk. The story just kind of plods around for a while until Darkhawk saves the day.

But hey, this is from 1992 when all you needed was a gimmick cover and it would sell like hotcakes. And this one did just that, with a red foil cover. What I did like about this comic was the fact that it came with extras, just like a DVD. The last few pages featured a cover gallery for the series, and it had a pretty cool centerfold poster. I hope the rest of the series was as well planned and thought out as the gimmicks in this were.

Thunderbolts #5

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The crimson-clad murder squad is back and just like this image suggests, love is in the air! The Thunderbolts are still on the island of Kata Jaya. There’s a lot of stuff happening in this issue that is set up to conclude this first story arc.

Red Hulk has hulked out back to his human/General Ross form and is carrying around the Leader, who he was able to revive. We’re not sure if it’s the two of them hallucinating, but it appears that they are talking to the former Hulk villain Mercy, who is floating around and talking to them like she’s an angel. Apparently the Leader knows nothing of his

Remember how they thought that they took out Mad Man in the previous issue? Turns out they really didn’t and Venom has to finish him off. Eventually Venom does, and finds a room filled with people plugged into a computer mainframe like something out of the Matrix.

As this is going on, Deadpool surprisingly has become the most noble of the characters, telling the Kata Jayan rebels that they just can’t kill Mad Man. He has to be tried for his crimes, as it makes them as awful as he was. walking away he finds Punisher and Elektra–who spent a good part of the issue fighting/maiming/killing people–making out.

Stormwatch #2

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Are you ready for some Stormwatch? This issue features a lot of Jim Lee goodness. Well, technically not too much other than the cover and his co-scripting duties. But the late Scott Clark did a great job illustrating the issue in Lee’s style.

The original Stormwatch was a super human team sponsored by the United Nations. I’m not sure if there are one or two teams of Stormwatchers, but this issue focuses on the group that is attempting to rescue their field leader Battalion’s younger brother from a group of super-powered mercenaries. In order to save Malcolm, they activate his latent super powers. After the rescue is completed, the team go back to their satellite headquarters.

Battalion is debating whether he wants to continue as a member of this group, as his involvement has led to his brother being attacked and in a coma. Eventually he agrees to join the other Stormwatch unit that is in Chernobyl. Also of note, this whole time Battalion is walking around in his underwear. Clearly he doesn’t have any body issues.

The other notable thing about Stormwatch #2 is that it technically has the first appearance of Gen 13, who are shown in a series of pinups/advertisements towards the end of the issue. The new series was advertised as Gen X, but I would assume that the name was changed to avoid confusion with Marvel’s Generation X that came out around the same time.

This book is typical of most of the early Image/Wildstorm books of the time: they have amazing art but light on story. But it’s still fun to look at, as it’s a bit of early 1990s nostalgia.

Thunderbolts #4

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One of the big criticisms with Thunderbolts is that everyone is written out of character. While I kind of agree with that, I seem to be part of the minority of people who do indeed like this book.

Everyone other than Red Hulk is still not sure of exactly what is going on, and he seems more interested in reviving the Leader, who received what looked like mortal shot to the head in the last issue. There is a lot of flashbacks in this about the history of Kata Jaya. It turns out it’s dictator, General Awa, has been propped up by the United States government for a long time, unbeknownst to everyone at this point.

In the meantime, Punisher and Deadpool go out on their own to find the gamma powered Mad Man. Punisher finds a ridiculous way to take out the much more powerful Mad Man by strapping a landmine to his chest. Yup, you read that right.

On the other side of the island, Venom is storming General Awa’s fortress to rescue Elektra. Unfortunately by the time he rescues her, Awa gets executed by the rebels and that’s not part of the plan. Oh well.

Power Pack #26

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Don’t let this picture fool you, but Cloak is a great babysitter.

There is a lot of fun stuff happening in Power Pack #26. The group of kid heroes is on their way back home from an adventure on Kofi Whitemane’s home planet of Kymellia.

As a sidebar, I wonder if there is a reason that the Louise Simonson created the Kymellians, a race of horselike aliens, for this series right around the time her husband Walt created the horse-faced Thor stand-in Beta Ray Bill. It makes you assume that horses were very popular in the Simonson household during this period.

Once they land, Cloak and Dagger find Power Pack, only to attack Kofi and his father Yrik. Kofi literally has to climb inside of Cloak to rescue his father from the dark dimension. Once everyone is safe, Kofi returns home with his father and Cloak and Dagger take the Power Pack kids back to their parents.ck are off to Kymellila to help Kofi’s father fight off a hostile takeover, and they are returning to Earth successful in their mission. Because they essentially disappeared, their parents are quite worried. James and Margaret Power have sent out Cloak and Dagger to find their missing offspring, which was kind of weird to me. Cloak and Dagger weren’t really the most highly regarded heroes in the Marvel Universe at that time. There’s also a pretty funny scene with Power Pack-er Franklin Richard’s parents, Mister Fantastic and Invisible Woman, deciphering a note he left behind explaining what they were doing. The Fantastic Four take off into space, only to wind up passing the Kymellian ship that is carrying their children back home.

The final pages show why I loved Power Pack so much as a kid. They may be child super heroes, but they are one big happy family and the story ended with them more concerned over what they were going to have for dinner rather than discuss their intergalactic adventure.

 

 

FF #3

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I’ve gotten through so much of my to read pile that I actually get to blog about something in the recent past! FF #3 continues the fun look at the other Fantastic team in the Marvel Universe.

There is a lot of stuff going on in this issue. Darla Deering is still very uneasy about  being the super hero Miss Thing, let along being an active reserve member of the Fantastic Four and babysitting the Future Foundation. It’s also becoming more clear to her that Scott Lang (Ant Man) has a crush on her. He keeps sending her flowers and has shrunken himself to his ant size to judge her reaction. Before he can find out, the Yancy Street Gang take it upon themselves to throw pies at her. it’s their goal to torment the poor Thing, and since he’s elsewhere occupied she will have to do.

The team and the Future Foundation are still trying to deal with the Johnny Storm from the future. He’s traveled back in time to prevent a future alliance between Kang the Conqueror, Doctor Doom and Annihilus. They still don’t exactly believe him, but are a little less hesitant when Wyatt Wingfoot tells them that he believes that this is the really Johnny. This one was able to answer a question that only the two of them would know.

At this Johnny’s urging, the team is getting ready to find out how to deal with this newest threat. There’s also something going on with the Moloids in the Future Foundation as they go visit Mole Man. The issue ends with Scott and Darla celebrating New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

This is really what comics should be. Matt Fraction’s story is complex but lighthearted at the same time. The art team of Mike and Laura Allred is superb. This is one of the best books out there and I can’t wait to fill in the rest of the issues I’ve missed.

Silver Surfer #18: Last Dance

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The eighteenth issue of Silver Surfer would be the series’ last and it ends with a bang. The character’s creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are reunited in this issue. With a setting of the story being blue side of the moon that the Inhumans call home, Kirby does some amazing work in this issue.

After falling on the moon, Silver Surfer becomes an unwilling pawn in the war between Black Bolt and his evil brother Maximus for control of the Inhumans. After fighting both sides, finally snaps and attacks both sides.

The last page of the issue is the above splash page and it pretty much shows that Silver Surfer has had it with the universe. He’s done with humanity (and it’s Inhuman branch). That image of an irate Silver Surfer is just amazing and I’m so glad I read this series, if just for this.

Sadly, this was the last issue of the series and whatever direction the “savage” Silver Surfer would have taken is pretty much an unknown. This take on the character didn’t spill over into any of the other Marvel series at the time; he would reappear almost a year later in 1971’s Sub-Mariner.

 

Happy Canada Day!

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Happy Canada Day to all our readers who live in Canada! In addition to being our great neighbor of the north, Canada has been a favorite place of mine because of its impact on the comics world. I’m not talking just about the characters who call the country home–like Wolverine and Sasquatch–but for the creators who are from there!

There is a wide variety of Canadians who have made great contributions to the comics world, from Todd McFarlane to John Byrne to Ty Templeton, all of whom have done a great job contributing to the medium. Most important might be the late Torontonian Joe Shuster, who along with Jerry Siegel created Superman!
Me with Bret HartNot only is Canada important for comics, but the country’s contributions to sports. This is the country that brought us hockey and basketball. Clearly you can see the country’s impact on the ice rink,but if it wasn’t for James Naismith (from Almonte, Ontario) none of us would have enjoyed the awesome NBA Finals this year.

And you can’t forget professional wrestling. Here I am with my favorite professional wrestler of all time, Bret “The Hitman” Hart. Canada has produced so many great wrestlers, from the Hart Family to “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, to Chris Jericho, the Rougeaus and more recent favorites like Kevin Steen and El Generico!

So Canada, my hat is off to you! Thanks for everything!

Silver Surfer #16-17

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Let’s remember what we know about Silver Surfer so far. He’s a cosmic powered alien who is imprisoned on Earth against his weill. He’s madly in love with a woman on the other side of the universe. Mephisto, the devil incarnate, not only fears him but wants to control his power. So in these two issues Mephisto uses Shall Bal as incentive to coerce the Silver Surfer into destroying S.H.I.E.L.D.

Yes you read that. The maniacal lord of the underworld wants the paramilitary organization taken out, most likely to make it easier for him to take over the world at some point. To get this done, he promises Silver Surfer he won’t eternally damn Shalla Bal in exchange for the Surfer destroying S.H.I.E.L.D. The best part of this is that Mephisto is lurking around in a trench coat and fedora looking completely ridiculous.

Anyway Surfer begrudgingly accepts and attacks S.H.I.E.L.D. I get the point and all, but it’s so odd to see a story that involves the Silver Surfer, Mephisto and Nick Fury. Eventually Surfer finds out that Mephisto plans on going back on his word and the two wind up fighting. It’s revealed that the Silver Surfer is indeed much more powerful than anyone ever imagined and after thoroughly beating up poor Mephisto, he gets jettisoned into space. And for those wondering, Shalla Bal winds up alright, as since both Mephisto and Silver Surfer reneged on their deals it pretty much cancels everything.

These issues were John Buscema’s last work on the series, and he certainly stepped up his art a lot. I think that from an artistic perspective, they might have been my favorite issues of the series. Stan Lee sticks around for the next issue and is joined by a certain king of an artist.