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Om-ni-bus: A printed anthology of the works of one author or of writings on related subjects.
Ok, I have been looking for a way to celebrate number 20. With reboots and Fear mongering dominating the comic year and a fistful of fantastic indie books I had a plethora of topics. Not the least of which was my current disdain for what some people are trying to tell me is Superman.
Instead I decided to do what I enjoy the most. At eXPress News I am at home in the uber-deep examinations and review corner as anywhere else. But as this was my 20th Damm Lucky and the end of the year I needed BIGGER! I took it literally and read two omnibus’ to breakdown and review sure (Let’s be honest the material is great that’s WHY it’s in an omnibus!) but also to relive the glory of greatness and for me it also was an excuse to read a piece of work I knew far too little about. That work was the early Geoff Johns’ Flash run. More on this in a minute.
First I want to talk about why do an in-depth breakdown of work already regarded as classic? Why rehash the past? We breakdown Shakespeare’s Othello, and Bukowski’s poems, Lucas original trilogy and Heinlein‘s Harsh Mistress on regular basis from different perspectives in order to gain a deeper understanding of their actual relevance. I believe both of these to be worthy or comic book equivalents of those individual works in their respective fields. It is good to see what makes a classic –classic; it is good to see the test of time measured by an expansion on the familiar by understanding past stories in a modern context. Volume one is here The Geoff Johns The Flash Omnibus; Volume 2 The New Teen Titans Omnibus Volume 1 may take me a year to breakdown but will be forthcoming.
There is also a distinct difference in reading a collection of this size complete and all at once (relatively.) In the strictest sense it is not how the stories were intended to be read. In the spirit of the, dare I say, legendary runs in these collections it is really the only appropriate way to get the scope and perspective necessary to fully appreciate them. There are other omnibus’ (omnibi?) more obvious like anything Kirby or Adams but these runs were special too. They are fun. It is fascinating and a little intimidating to think about breaking them down. Here at eXPress we do it a little different and of course this is no eXception. So I decided to do an in-depth breakdown from my not ever humble enough perspective. So it’s a way to celebrate 20 great issues that you the reader have blessed me with. Thank You. Now let’s get this Christmas tree and turkey carcass in the incinerator.
Prentis Rollins/James Sinclair/Chris Chuckry/Jose Marzan Jr./Tom McCraw
Letters by: Gaspar Saladino/John Costanza
Collection Cover (below): Scott Kolins
Interior Covers: Brian Bolland/Ethan Van Sciver/Angel Unzueta/Jae Lee & Jose Villarrubia/Scott Kolins
The Flash 164-176
The Flash: Iron Heights #1
The Flash Secret Files #3
The Flash: Our Worlds At War #1
Carmine Infantino is “Mr. Flash” to me. He always will be. Those Silver Age Barry Allen books were the childhood definition and therefore my most treasured definitions of the character. While this run on the character explored every aspect of the Scarlet Speedster it had been ages since I actually wanted to read them again and while researching an article on the Silver Age ordered the Johns Flash Omnibus not realizing what it was. I was glad and I read it immediately. Because I keep forgetting one important thing – that thing is a person actually, Wally West. It is the same Wally west I adored as Kid Flash.
Wally West is the super hero I forget that I love so much. As an avid reader of nearly every era of Teen Titans/Outsiders/Young Justice etc. Wally was an ever present joy during the darkest of their times. Whether in the Judas Contract lightening the load with quips and buffoonery or helping Jinx in the cartoon version Wally West delighted and entertained. There were definitive guidelines to his personality…as a kid. I admit I had not read a ton of individual Flash featuring Wally as the Scarlet Speedster but the few I had read did not seem like my Wally. He seemed like a Barry Allen wannabe (literally for a while) and perhaps a little less dangerous feeling. I had always imagined him the cocky introspective smart guy with a chip humorously set on his shoulder. As such I missed the first part of the Johns run. I got to the party late but let me say this. I think Murmur is one of the best original characters in a decade with the Sentry and the Red Lantern Corp’s Atrocitus (also a Geoff Johns co-creation) also in that conversation.
The point being I was on board for the big debut of Murmur but had no idea about the Cold/Mirror Master/Flash adventure to a revenge thirsty ghost from Wally’s past or the kooky cult with the Flash Logo shaped knives, the psycho and newly dead ex-girlfriends with or without Weather Wizard/Flash’s baby. I read these for the first time here save issue #167 and #171 which I had read in individual form from the news stand (grocery store) and they had no context whatsoever. So I was of course treated like on few occasions I can remember to read this omnibus. The experience of a run in its entirety unhindered by month long waits and multiple collections was a great way to get most of this the first time, I realize now the whole run is one story. It is the Rogues’ story not the Flash’s however.Very Cool. Volume 2 of this Omnibus comes out in the spring. I of course need one of those. I believe that is Wally’s story.
Rogue Unions – The Flash #164-169: Wonderland
Talk about starting with a Bang! Pow! Zap! The debut of Johns on Flash is like breathing in a breath of pure Speed Force as Wally – strong and confident – and lost in a mirror world of power stealing proportions! Yeah I did just use bang pow zap reference…sue me. But I was astounded at what a difference in storytelling and what a difference the feel, pace and vitality was immediately evident as special. From the first page of Johns’ Flash run (a falling Flash through an abyss symbolic of death and rebirth a grave no a rabbit hole! A Carroll quote hangs in Black and white midway between a skull canopy on a single panel dripping disorienting dread across corrupt cops and a fistful of spilling playing cards effaced with familiar specters from Wally’s life. But what grabs your eye and shows you the door is how SLOW the panel is. The Flash is going slow. The reader knows this long before the Flash or even the reader themselves realize it. It is the first page. Angel Unzueta draws motion and the lack thereof with a rarely seen dexterity. He cuts deep emotional strokes to the faces and imagery steeped in classic superhero lore. Then Wally starts talking like Wally West for the first time I recognize in that costume. “I’m The Flash! I’m the fastest man alive.” As he is getting the crap kicked out of him by the corrupt cops of a Keystone who have never heard of any Flash he refuses to allow even the cops to abuse him. We all find out… no Speed Force. Wally goes to jail. Now only his Rogues can help him get home.
In just a few issues the team of Johns and Unzueta give life to the retread idea of being trapped in a mirror world, the idea of Rogue/Hero familiarity and why Wally is the Flash without the Speed Force. Known uses of Flash’s powers get fresh new applications. All of this is inside the Wally I knew from Titans only he is older. Even his passionate romance to Linda, once a wooden story cliché’ necessary for the DC formula is exciting and feels real from the start. Then Johns begins his tale. One that pays homage to the Titans Wally in ways no one suspects. This story is about what the heart of the DC Universe has always been. It is also one of the most recent reminders that there is nothing wrong with the characters that a great team and a fantastic tale told deftly illustrated can’t fix. The heart idea I mentioned is this – there are good guys and bad guys but heroes are special whether they have powers or not. Batman is the will, Clark is the virtue and Flash (any but especially Wally) is the heart of the pre- New 52 DCU.
In the exploration of the Rogues Mirror Master and Captain Cold we see in a way never before thought possible the fleshed out personalities of scientific geniuses and sociopathic misfits. They are real and even believably menacing yet there is an explanation as to why for years they were considered mere go to villains when needing to bridge arcs. (I always preferred Captain Cold to Mr. Freeze, Icicle, and Killer Frost etc.) The symbolic reflections (pun totally intended) in issues like Grimm’s fear of change (#169) and their implications – that acceptance of who we are is a rational and courageous course – is not just delivered in the dialogue that still holds up today.
This story moves like the hero itself. Even when the hero has no super speed it clips along at a deliberate and ever increasing acceleration. These may be some of the technical details, along with the plotting that feels like it was lived out on the side in reality and some of the most anatomically convincing, visually appealing representations of The Flash and his abilities.
In the pre-DCNU canon the acquisition of the Rogue’s weapons and use by Wally is one of the most special. Wally doesn’t rehash old fights to win, he uses the weapons in ways the Rogues (who are NOT a stupid bunch…mostly) never dreamed, Wally is smart, we forget that sometimes because he is so affable, cocky, or personable depending on the era but he has a common sense Barry never had and an education Jay never did. Nowhere is this more vividly displayed than in Wonderland. Nowhere more so than when he has his Rogue’s Gallery’s weapons in lieu of super speed.
In the long and lauded history of the Flash Johns’ run is full of some of its best moments and most ingenious uses of already known powers. This is fantastic comic storytelling. This is how decades old characters find vitality and relevance. This is where rubber meets road and goes on a road trip across your mind as well as the alternate Universes.
But you know what? These villain and hero lines are a little blurry but not in who is villain and who is hero but more like “if things were different we would watch the game together but they are not so I am going to have to kill you/apprehend you” way. It’s relevant to the entire dynamic OF heroes and villains. There are other relationships too long ignored and that is between the Rogues themselves. The casual tone and familiar retorts lend to the acknowledgement they have been fighting Flash forever and know each other like Hal and Ollie or Bruce and Clark. And Wally? Well He has Kyle I guess but more than any of the Flashes he is his own man. Wonderland is where Wally truly comes of age in my opinion. Wally (or any Flash) is not a savage fear machine like Bruce or a shining preachy white knight like Clark. He is going cut you some slack because he knows about living an everyday life. He is going to pay for it every time too. He is OK with that. That is the beauty of Johns writing – Wally is just a guy, he just happens to run really fast.
SPECIAL FOCUS: THE ART OF WONDERLAND
But to give credit to Johns alone for this fantastic story would be simply a grievous error. Angel Unzueta and Doug Hazelwood are the true stars of the first part of the Geoff Johns Flash run. Well, and the greatest assembly of cover, inkers and color artists I have ever seen in consecutive issues. While Unzueta has the lead in this run he is preceded by Brian Bolland covers. He is colored by one of the best in the business in McCraw. Gaspar is the letterer. Yet still it is Angel Unzueta that makes me believe this is Wally, that sells me on the real life snark of Snart and that keeps me coming back page after glorious page.
The Pencils: Proportion. In one word it sums up the clear intent and brilliance of the penciling of Unzueta. When I think Flash this is how I will envision him from now on. Like Adams’ Batman before him, the physical proportioning in every panel is astounding. The relative sizes of the anatomy to the backgrounds, the anatomies to the cars and fore objects, and the very proportions of the anatomies themselves are exquisite to the very last panel. Unzueta understands that a lean fluid flash can also be muscular and intimidating. It is a powerful and “fast looking” Flash while standing still. The details are explicitly showcased ON FLASH HIMSELF and less so on the environments and backgrounds but not a single shortcut is taken in that regard either. It is simply a matter of a classic art idea that the focus of the story should be the most appealing aspect of the story to look at. It makes all the difference. The clean smooth edges of the objects are so cogent and so cohesive it literally creates a tension in the reader’s subconscious. It is as if there is so much order that the anticipation of chaos is desirable. It puts the reader in the perfect mindset for straightforward superhero stories. So when the writer throws a curve ball it is instantly believable.
The poses and positions of Unzueta range from the classic to the avant garde and this instantly gives the story credibility as Wally obviously would have learned some techniques and mannerisms from Barry and picked up his own. This also lends validity that this is still Wally because we have seen Wally in these states of action and rest. Unzueta did a lot of reading of those Infantino issues, or at least it seems so to me, because it feels like that era, it reads like a sharp knife and it sticks with you like super glue for the eye’s memory. From the police station in the opening scene to the unreal feat of making Plunder’s ridiculous costume work like it was tailor made for the modern age he never falters. I went through every image in every panel for two days in this story alone and I was astounded to see just how much it was actually Unzueta’s visuals that sell the Johns tale. These pencils are the artistic DNA of these stories bringing ephemeral and elusive uses of Flash’s powers, the characterizations through position and stance to life. In the modern age of Flash it a definitive work of artistic integrity and master craftsmanship. It is as important to the Flash’s legacy as the early work on the Garrick Flash by Fox and Lampert or the Barry Allen Infantino/Kanigher/Broome work. More importantly the art could stand alone as fine art from even the stodgiest and most jaded of critics because of the fantastic mix of artistic expression and technical skill. Wonderland’s pencils are to behold, to be held and to be noted as classic.
The Inks: There is no “classic” status on this run without the astounding inks of Doug Hazelwood. Inherently, organically and fluidly he understands Unzueta’s mind’s eye. It is bold and dark in the recesses and technically intricate in the lighter tones. His work on the figure of Flash is by far the best ink work in the modern era of Flash. I don’t care who is penciling Flash, Hazelwood should ink him/her. With his understanding of the Flash Hazelwood has done what is ESSENTIAL for a good Flash inker. He has lifted Flash off of the page to make just The Flash a pop-up book illusion that stands him up in the speed force visually. Separated from the world, not quite to the readers eye the perfectly inked edges and perfectly shaded muscle definitions leave Flash suspended between page and reader and when seen in the context of the plot deliver the powers and abilities on an India ink platter. From the Unzueta pencils springs a fully defined cylindrical hero standing in a stark dimensional relational disparity against all conventional and classical thought (not to mention the classic tone of the pencils in places.)He makes it look natural, inviting and credible. He makes it look like the only logical approach.
Hazelwood’s is the perfect team player. He deftly watches the tone of the story while dexterously juggling the huge responsibility of enhancing those beautiful pencils in just the right places. If there is an inking error in this story I missed it. I poured over the final issue again and again. There are many opportunities to overdo it. There are many opportunities to not be bold. Hazelwood hits it right every time. Take for instance his decision to inverse inks in the second panel of page 43 (well duh buy this thing) where he makes the background work as a moving foreground. It is so subtle it flows right on by but it is the pivotal panel on the page BECAUSE of the inks. Yet it is merely an enhancement of the tone of the existing story. The work here demonstrates its exquisiteness by loudly blaring its supporting role without ever letting you know it’s doing it.
The Colors/Letters: How do you make “Flash Red” more believable and less ridiculous? You up the amperage on the ridiculous till it makes complete sense. That is what Tom McCraw has done in Wonderland. By toning down the environments – muting them flat but still appealing to the eye . Then you intensify all the “Flash Red” and “Flash Yellow” (like cabs and lightning for instance) and it lends even more speed and liquidity to an already beautifully rendered speedster. It is inverted genius and the simplicity of it is easy to catch on to. Again lifting the work’s inference of speed more than its direct display the previously misused gaudy scarlet, Stryper-esque yellow are utilized in perfect context to the heart of the story. His colors deliver the mood.
When it comes to Wally West, inflection is everything. More than any of the major Justice Leaguers it is not what Wally says but HOW he says it. In comics Gaspar (Saladino) is one of the finest and one of its most overlooked as great. This is some of his best work though Detective #182 is my personal favorite issues of his I have seen. He letters by hand and with Wally he nails Johns’ script in tone and inference. The monologue letters are bold and friendly, the shouts powerful and visually stunning (often enhanced by McCraw’s colors) and the quiet times bleak and stark. It is world class crafted.
Old Flings and New Robes – The Flash #170– 173: Blood Will Run
In one of the most excitingly original takes on a Flash villain ever the Flash cult storyline Blood Will Run brings clarity to what it is like to be the Flash. Johns wields his fanboy muscles with making the old villains, girlfriends and rescue victims relevant and fresh as the day they debuted without changing their characterization. This run is about the past and perspectives on it like the first but segue to the next set of life lessons – that of fanaticism and scorned faded love – as smooth as any run I have ever read, including what I consider the standard for those types of transitions – the Contagion/Legacy/Cataclysm/No Man’s Land Batman run. There is no “set up issue” of dormancy between the two stories and no feeling of beginning or end. Just like Wally’s (or anyone’s really) life it is a continual line of running transitions.
Upon retrieving Keystone and returning to the real universe with Linda, Flash is called to the scene of an armed assault scene from his date with Linda at the hockey game. Before he agrees and goes to the scene he notices Captain Cold in his civilian identity Leonard Snart also attending the game. Flash arrives on the scene of the hailing bullets and quickly subdues the first gunner …and runs into his old flame Julie and her tough as nails partner. Chyre. A mirror opposite of the Chyre we were introduced to in Wonderland who was a jerk. Johns’ manages to use the same character (initially one dimensional) twice and by the second appearance’s end he is a fully fleshed out character BECAUSE of the earlier revulsion painted in me. The introduction…or re-introduction…of these characters is palpably awkward. It is a tense everyday situation that is instantly relatable in a “deal with it now” way.
Reluctantly, I let go of the Wonderland story and replace satisfaction with anticipation. And that is what Johns’ greatest gift is. He delivers but then he creates an anticipation to get on with it. He doesn’t leave you in a state of satiated after-tale ecstasy. Instead he leads you along with a carrot you aren’t aware you are looking at. In this case the anticipation of the Linda. Wally, Julie exchange I was already dreading for Wally. Add to this scene the return of the nutjob (former nutjob?) Magenta who is also an ex-girlfriend and there are Springer moments abounding – DURING a gunfight. The subtle foreshadowing and characterization in spades are noteworthy. The spin on the rescued victims of The Flash in relation to new villain Cicada’s cult and the mysterious knife wound to the chest that rips the Speed Force cement the writing as innovative and again defining. It gives Wally a cool way to change into Flash.
Also of note is the compression. The plot advances at a snap finger rhythm and every panel displays a relevant progression. It is entirely inviting to read a story so compressed. I remember fondly not needing 8 panels to gesture to someone. Kolins has a great example of this. The primary difference in the art of this story versus Wonderland is the Kolins art is lighter, what I mean by that is this. Where Unzueta’s pencils are fleet of foot so to speak they are heavy, realistically dense and deadly serious in tone. Kolins manages to bring a familiar light heartedness more complex than Kid Flash and just short of a Spider-Man frivolity. The letters and inks are again exquisite with Hazelwood again finding the pulse of the Flash in the pencils. However this time he lets Kolins pencils stay more two dimensional because the real depth comes from this runs colorist James Sinclair, who takes the earlier muted background concepts and does something wonderful he makes the whole thing fun. From Jesse Quick to flying metal the colors in this arc are the superstars. In fact it saves the art which is fantastic but less dynamic when compared to Wonderland and really noticeable when read in sequence.
Breathe – The Flash #174 – Moving Right Along
Wally and Linda move down town. This is the breath, the downtime we were expecting after Wonderland. This is for we the readers benefit; you see we need to see more Wally and less Flash. We need to see her parents and their reaction to his being a superhero we need to see him scolded for unpacking the house in 2 seconds. But most of all we needed the glimpse into the personal life of the Pied Piper. We watch him allegedly kill his parents. Then the breath of fresh air is over. Tar Pit, hockey and Captain Cold show up to blow the tranquil issue all to smithereens and I finally get it. Johns’ is flexing his muscles and paying homage at the same time. He is demonstrating the self-contained comic story technique and paying homage to the Silver Age format of such all at once. He does it beautifully, deftly and as well as anyone in the modern era.
The same art team only this time with John Costanza on letters (a fine job too!) delivers a good old-fashioned one shot superhero story in the traditional DC style and makes it feel as relevant as a 12 issue run. Now they are showing off and we are all to be the benefactors! Kolins’ issues get progressively better and 174 (we are only 11 issues in to this run?) is my personal favorite of his work as demonstrated by the panorama pencils below.
What Lovely Weather We Are Having – The Flash #175 – 176: Birth Right
Bad choices have long arms. Just ask Wally West. A poor decision and human misdeed from a younger brash inconsiderate jerk of a Wally leads to a consequence much later as there is a baby with lightning in his eyes (Yikes!) and it seems he may be Wally’s son. But there are other players here too. One very angry newly befriended Weather Wizard has arrived on the scene to clarify the matter. Now Chyre, his new partner, Linda, Wally and Weather Wizard participate in a collateral damage Battle Royale for the Weather Wizard’s son. But the intricate set-ups inside the straightforward tale leave the groundwork for and introduce a most mysterious benefactor and “teacher “to the Rogues.
But this is a tale of lessons and Weather Wizard is not the only one learning. Chyre is learning to get along with his new partner who happens to be the unlikable brass. Now linked at the hip the life-long beat cop isn’t too thrilled. What is going on with Detective Marillo (his partner’s name) he gets beat to heck but miraculously heals so h emus learn why. Linda continues to learn of Wally’s past but also of his value to both the city and herself. Wally as ever continues to learn that people are people. Even super-villains. Johns again and again pays homage to the past with references and over the top uses of the powers set – both hero and villain. The fact that Flash can’t take the wand anymore is proof of the familiarity they have with one another and the constant glaring reasons the rogues never win front and center, the new “teacher” to Mark Mardon uses his alpha level powers with alpha level skill, truly becoming an A-List threat on par with Marvel’s X-woman Storm. But the again what sets it apart is the “least of these” elements. The baby.
The art team continues its consistent and beautiful breakneck plotting and with each issue the storytelling gets better and better. Weather Wizard for the first time in decades to this point was an actual menace. This largely due to the art team, but especially Kolins’ pencils which by the last issue of this run has found his own place in the Flash canon and full stride as Flash’s penciler. Weather Wizard is gritty, smart and childish. These things readily demonstrated in his facial features. The art in this arc in fact revolves around expressions, and exclamations.
Piper Dreams – The Flash: Iron Heights #1
This is the single most standout of The Flash I have ever read. It is true genius in every area. If there is a flawless issue in this omnibus this is it. From the first page bloodbath to the ending screams Iron Heights is a character defining issue over and over. You see Iron Heights is the prison where Flash’s Rougues are kept. It is not a very nice place. This is where we meet Murmur. Only he isn’t Murmur yet. He is a psychopathic killer apprehended by a younger Chyre and sent to Iron Heights by Barry Allen’s testimony. That’s right, Barry Allen in his first ever court testimony sends the demented Murmur up the river.
In the present day Wally and Jay race to stop a runaway train and meet up with Wally’s friend and ex-rogue (is he?) – Pied Piper. Weather Wizard meets the new warden of Iron Heights’ “mask” wing for super criminals The Pipeline. It’s even less pleasant than it sounds. The warden’s name is Gregory Wolfe this is his first appearance and he seems to be a metahuman. You do NOT want to be welcomed by him. Ask Mark Mardon about that. Wally on the other hand is called into break into the prison which goes into lockdown because a deadly virus – Frenzy - has been loosed therein and headed to town. A disease is a great Flash villain. Upon breaking in with Pied Piper (all the way there immersed in relationship talk) Flash finds out about The Pipeline.
This is as inhumane as it gets super-villain or not. We get introduced to Girder, Fallout, and then Murmur steals piper’s sound gun. Flash takes the full brunt in the chest. Piper gets gets blindsided again by a skin peeling con man Double Down and then we get the mastermind, the revelation and the fear as Wally races to save himself from the virus too. Murmur is its creator. His blood is abnormal and also immune to everything. The virus and the antidote from the same man becomes the plan. But can Jay save Wally in time? Of course he can. But will he ever get over the unmasking of Murmur, the unknown assault of the warden or the knowing look the warden gave Piper? In the end, Murmur makes it official and joins The Rogues.
John’s once again goes to great length to show the weak humanity that is the Rogues, the hidden villain and manages to put Barry, Jay and Bart all in there as well. It has heart, it has action, it has horror. This is the first book in the run that did not feel reminiscent of the Silver Age but of The Dark Knight Returns only for The Flash. This is in part due to the dark tone of the setting played on carefully with the all too light Wally dialogue (even when dying) as a contrast. He takes the single issue containment story technique he used in moving right along and applied it to a more morose tale.
But it is Van Sciver’s introduction to Johns’ Flash as an interior artist that turns Iron Heights into a dark and menacing classic. The choice to leave the opening sequences in black and white was so perfect a choice it makes the appearance of color welcomed. Then as all vibrancy drains from them before your eyes inside the Heights you mourn their passing. Sinclair outdoes himself again and again. In The Flash’s canon Iron Heights may be its most pivotal moment.
Golden Titans and Black Racers: Flash – Our Worlds at War#1
This is an issue in the Our Worlds at War mega event and is really out of context here. It is a slap in the face to the smooth story of the Flash as the preceding tales and though necessary to be called an omnibus, there is really little significance here to the rest of the work. The gold Cyborg and parademon throw down was cool. There is an edge and an attitude to this book that I suppose fits the tone of the crossover and even with all the jerky out of placeness to the continuous read Johns and company make it interesting. How? They focus on the Black Racer and the philosophical concept of child death and mortality versus morality in a poignant life lesson that I found profound. Touche’ Mr. Johns.
It is fascinating to see the team of artists here try to find The previous Flash feel here. They do not manage it very well because it can’t be done in the context of that story. There is something special about the previous issues and it is rare to capture that specialty in a mundane overwrought crossover. What saves this issue and keeps it somewhat consistent to this run is simply that it shines. Literally. It is a garish, metallic shiny ball of fun to look at pages. But not the relevant masterwork of its predecessors in the Johns run.
Rogues- The Flash Secret Files #3
The conclusion to the omnibus is both a wrap-up and a cliffhanger. It was the most compressed Flash tale yet in this run and it focuses on the point of view (mostly) from a new Rogue specialist fresh out of the F.B.I. academy with a bum leg – Hunter Zolomon. Yep kiddies, it is Zoom. He has a limp but knows where to find Murmur who has gone on a killing spree. But we now know The Rogues are organized and we now know who runs them. The Thinker!! While Zolomon and Flash chase Murmur the rest of the Rogues including Magenta, Girder and Weather Wizard further the plan of Thinker and rescue Murmur. Wait for the next omnibus!!
It is as good an end as it was a beginning and Kolins pencils are raging cool mixed with restrained technique and the inks again are amazing. I’m done here. The art speaks for itself.
So there you have it, the DAMM breakdown of the Johns’ Flash volume 1. I hope you had fun reading this and that you relived the glory of this run with me. If you have not read this run I encourage you to do so in this format. It was insightful and fun. It made the Flash cool again if but for a little while. (I hate the rugby helmet wearing version.) if the DCNU erased this part of continuity then they are truly foolish.
All in All
I am Lucky
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RAPID FIRE PREVIEWS LIKE – MARVEL LOOSES THE CELESTIALS AND KILLS DEADPOOL?!!
click images to enlarge
Welcome back to the fast, light and clean side of Damm Lucky (yep not everything has to be in-depth all the time) where I give you some previews of upcoming comic titles and trades. Or perhaps some movies or cartoons are more your thing, if so from time to time I will slip some of these in here too and you will be pleasantly surprised. In this ever expanding and diverse comic industry it gets easy to gloss over when looking at future projects. Hopefully this helps. In this installment I look at Buffy collections, Evan Dorkin’s House of Fun, eigoMaANGA’s new TV deal, Red 5’s Dead or Alive #1 and I will end this volley with the latest on Deadpool! Let’s begin with a juggernaut title (in the actual sense not the character) Uncanny X-Men #3! I have been waiting for this…you see I am a Gambit fanatic and this is the proud return of the greatest villain of all time (in my opinion) Mr. Sinister!
Here is the official Marvel Sneak Peek!
Your First Look At UNCANNY X-MEN #3!
THE CELESTIALS HAVE ARRIVED! In your first look at Uncanny X-Men #3, from the team of Kieron Gillen, Carlos Pacheco, Paco Diaz, & Rodney Buchemi, Cyclops and his Extinction Team must protect mankind not only from Mr. Sinister…but the world ending space gods! Sinister’s quest for supremacy has doomed the entire world and it’s all crumbling down around the feet of the X-Men. Are the Children of the Atom finally spread too thin? Find out this December in Uncanny X-Men #3!
UNCANNY X-MEN #3
Written by KIERON GILLEN
Pencils by CARLOS PACHECO, PACO DIAZ, RODNEY BUCHEMI
Cover by CARLOS PACHECO
ON SALE 12/28/11
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WOW! Sinister brought the Celestials! All in all the new Uncanny has been one perfect moment after another and this issue looks to be no different. Up next we have a double shot of Vampire Slayer news as season 8 and 9 have been announced in collected form. I have been going back and reading all the Buffy comics since my last Quickfire Hits and these new collections are going to make my catching up easy. How a 40 something male gets hooked on Buffy after its been off the air a million years is beyond me. Yet here I am. Here are the official press releases from Dark Horse.
BUFFY SEASON 8 GETS HARDCOVER RELEASE!
DARK HORSE TO PUBLISH FOUR VOLUMES!
December 2, MILWAUKIE, OR—Series creator Joss Whedon brought Buffy the Vampire Slayer back to life with this comics-only follow-up to Season 7 of the television show. Now the wait is finally over for Buffy fanatics everywhere as Dark Horse announces the deluxe, oversized, dust-jacketed hardcover collection of Buffy Season 8!
This hardcover edition contains the first two arcs of the series (Buffy Season 8 #1–#10), written by Joss Whedon and Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Runaways), with art by the acclaimed Georges Jeanty. It includes two one-shots, a cover gallery, and exclusive, never-before-seen sketch material!
After the destruction of the Hellmouth, the Slayers—newly legion—have gotten organized, but it’s not long before new and old enemies begin popping up. Buffy, Xander, Willow, and a very different Dawn are introduced to the season’s big bad, Twilight, and are only beginning to understand the incredible reach of this mysterious threat. Meanwhile, rebel Slayer Faith teams up with Giles to handle a menace on the other side of the Atlantic. It’s a dirty job, and Faith is just the girl to do it!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 Volume 1 is on sale May 30, 2012!
BUFFY SEASON 9 GETS COLLECTED!
VOLUME 1 TO BE RELEASED IN AUGUST 2012!
December 2, MILWAUKIE, OR—Series creator Joss Whedon has teamed up with Andrew Chambliss (Dollhouse, ABC’s Once Upon a Time) and Season 8 artist Georges Jeanty for the life-affirming, world-changing Season 9 of the smash hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Dark Horse Comics is proud to announce the first collection of the season with Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 Volume 1: Freefall!
Season 8 ended with a bang that cut the world off from magic—culminating in another set of world-ending problems. Buffy has left her best friend, Willow, powerless, and brought an end to a millennia-long tradition of superpowered girls. By day, Buffy is a twenty-something waitress with no real direction, and even though magic is gone, she’s still a vampire Slayer by night. Bigger problem? Vampires are becoming an epidemic . . . of zompires!
Written by series creator Joss Whedon and Andrew Chambliss of the CW’s The Vampire Diaries, Freefall collects Buffy Season 9 #1–#5! On sale August 1, 2012.
About Dark Horse Comics
Since 1986, Dark Horse Comics has proven to be a solid example of how integrity and innovation can help broaden a unique storytelling medium and establish a small, homegrown company as an industry giant. The company is known for the progressive and creator-friendly atmosphere it provides for writers and artists. In addition to publishing comics from top talent like Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, Neil Gaiman, Gerard Way, Will Eisner, and best-selling prose author Janet Evanovich, Dark Horse has developed such successful characters as the Mask, Timecop, and the Occultist. Additionally, its highly successful line of comics and products based on popular properties includes Star Wars, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, Conan the Barbarian, Mass Effect, Serenity, and Domo. Today, Dark Horse Comics is the largest independent comic-book publisher in the United States and is recognized as both an innovator in the cause of creator rights and the comics industry’s leading publisher of licensed material.
About Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products
A recognized industry leader, Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products licenses and markets properties worldwide on behalf of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Twentieth Television and Fox Broadcasting Company, as well as third-party lines. The division is aligned with Twentieth Century Fox Television, one of the top suppliers of primetime entertainment programming to the broadcast networks.
So if you want Sunnydale safe find your Buffy trades on the store side of this very site! eXpertcomics.com – Never pay full price for comics again! OK that plug was shameless and blatantly a shill but I really believe in this site, this store and this company…sue me. I buy my books here. Alright already DAMM get on with it!
Up next is one of the strangest and most provocative to my sensibilities to come across my desk in quite some time. This is a preview of Evan Dorkin’s House of Fun. Now fans of Milk and Cheese (like me) will know that name right away and still others though probably fewer will know him from Dork but most all will know him from his work with wife Sarah Dyer on Space Ghost Coast to Coast. Now Dorkin has a new project for his unique and indelibly permanent sense of humor in House of Fun. Dark Horse put out this official thingy-ma-bob too (so see above about Dark Horse info cause its the same).
EVAN DORKIN INVITES YOU TO HOUSE OF FUN!
November 30, MILWAUKIE, OR—With Dark Horse Presents continually adding new and awesome stories to the lineup, Evan Dorkin wants to tell you about House of Fun!
“While we were working on the Milk and Cheese collection with Scott Allie and Daniel Chabon, I pitched the idea to do new material for Dark Horse so I could revive some of my old characters. This dovetailed nicely with the revival of Dark Horse Presents, since most of my humor comics originally ran in various anthologies including several from DHC like Instant Piano, Deadline USA, and the first run of Dark Horse Presents.
“The idea was to bring back as many of my old characters and concepts from Milk and Cheese and Dork as possible, grouping it all under the new House of Fun name. I decided not to use Dork as a catchall title for these comics. I got sick of the name a long time ago and this relaunch felt a good opportunity to finally retire it.
“So, what I’m doing is twenty-four pages of comics to be spread over three issues of DHP, with each eight-page anchored by a new Milk and Cheese strip. The other features will include a new Murder Family episode; several pages of Fun gag strips, as well as the return of The Eltingville Comic Book, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Role-Playing Club. If all goes according to plan I’ll also be doing a one-page Fisher-Price Theater adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 and a short Devil Puppet story.
“Also, the comics will all be colored by my longtime collaborator and long-suffering wife, Sarah Dyer.
“This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now. The last issue of Dork came out in 2006 and it’s been even longer since I worked on an Eltingville or Murder Family strip. I’m excited to be working on my own stuff again, I’m having a lot of fun making these comics, and I hope folks will have fun reading them. If not they can go suck an egg.”
House of Fun will premiere in Dark Horse Presents #10, on sale March 21, 2011.
So there is good twisted humor in bunches there and it looks to be a title that can’t be missed. The Murder Family? Hahahahahaha! Ok I’m composed again. Up next is the latest in Manga news and a preview of eigoManga’s new deal with Shorts HD the all shorts and mini movie channel, (do I need a smaller remote?) which plans to bring some of the manga publishers titles to the little screen. Normally, manga isn’t my thing but this concept intrigued me and I thought I would share it with you fine folks!
(San Francisco, CA) – December 6, 2011 — San Francisco based comic book publisher, eigoMANGA announces its deal to produce and distribute original animation shorts with ShortsHD, the first and only high-definition television network dedicated to short movies. ShortsHD has a television distribution reach of over 40 million households which spans over 3 continents. ShortsHD is available on Direct TV (Channel 568), Dish Network (Channel 375), and AT&T U-Verse (Channel 1789).
“I’m really excited about working with ShortsHD”, triumphs Austin Osueke, eigoMANGA’s Publisher. “It’s a great opportunity for emerging animators to showcase their work on television and beyond to a worldwide audience.”
eigoMANGA’s animation content will become part of ShortsHD televison programming such as their animation block, ‘SHORTS Animate!’
The deal kicks off with the broadcast of the animation short, ‘Christmas In Taxi’. This is a Christmas story based about a taxi driver who reluctantly spends his Christmas Eve with a passenger who is down on her luck. ‘Christmas In Taxi’ is produced by Jongmin Shin and directed by Young-Kwang Jo.
ShortsHD is the first high definition channel dedicated to short movies and is available on DIRECTV (Channel 568), Dish Network (Channel 375), and AT&T U-Verse (Channel 1789). ShortsHD is operated by Shorts International, the world’s leading short movie entertainment company with the world’s largest movie catalogue dedicated to short movies. Shorts International also operates ShortsTV, which is available in France, Belgium, Luxembourg on Numericable (Channels 134 and 52) and in Turkey via TTNET’s Tivibu service. Shorts is the short movie on-demand service available on iTunes movie stores in the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan and throughout Europe. The company is headquartered in London, England with additional offices in Paris and Los Angeles and is led by Carter Pilcher, Chief Executive. Shorts International is owned by Shorts Entertainment Holdings and Liberty Global Ventures.
ShortsHD is represented in the U.S. by HotHouse Media, a business development and sales representation firm dedicated to supporting the licensing of products and services owned by independent media companies.
More information about ShortsHD can be found at www.shorts.tv
eigoMANGA is a comic book publishing company that specializes in creating original, comic books, animation, and digital media productions.
More information about eigoMANGA can be found at www.eigoMANGA.com
They look beautiful I think. I encourage you to check out that website I spent some quality time there. I am glad I went.
In the best parts of comicdom there are indies that get skipped over when titles like the above Uncanny X-Men and the below Deadpool are released. One really fine indie is Dead or Alive #1 by Red 5 comics. Check out this amazing mini – preview. The folks at Red 5 were nice enough to let us show you 5 pages of Dead or Alive #1. I am a huge fan of good western comics. While I have not the space for a full review I will say I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be purchasing it on a regular basis. Red 5 has an entire line of fantastic books I suggest you head over to their web site at Red 5 Comics for the full array of their books.
DEAD OR ALIVE # 1
Writer – Scott Chitwood
Art – Alfonso Ruiz
Colors – Gary Henderson
“The Good, The Bad, and the Zombie”
When two down-on-their-luck cowboys capture the most wanted outlaw in the West, they get more than they bargained for when they discover a Comanche shaman has infected him with an ancient zombie virus. If the zombie doesn’t kill them, the Comanche, rival bounty hunters, and other outlaws will!
That book is great I was just checking out the great art again. Red 5 has a hit on their hands I think. Ruiz draws cows really well.
Is Deadpool going to die? It sure seems that way. Although I have got to tell you he’s been trying a long time. Is that a happy ending if it happens? Probably is for his targets anyway. I have read the Merc With a Mouth form the beginning and I am actually pumped after seeing this. There have been some…er less than stellar moments in Deadpool history and an over inundation with the character as Marvel has done with them all at one point but this has me screaming for the Spring to get here – well that and the snow. But folks Deadpool #50 is going to be BIG! Sign me up now!
DEAD At 50!
Could this be it? Has everyone’s favorite Merc With A Mouth finally made an appointment with Lady Death? This February, witness the biggest change in Deadpool’s life as “DEAD” kicks off in Deadpool #50! From the creative team of Daniel Way & Carlo Barberi, Deadpool’s lease on life is about to expire and those around him are going to feel the consequences including X-Force! Following the epic battle with his former body parts gone rogue, Wade Wilson makes a monumental decision that will forever change who he is. See how it all goes down this February, in Deadpool #50!
Written by DANIEL WAY
Pencils by CARLO BARBERI
Cover by DAVE JOHNSON
FOC – 1/16/12, ON SALE 2/8/12
So folks there they are the Quickfire Hits and that my friend was a fist full of the future right there! I hope you had fun. That’s what it’s all about. It is comics after all!
All in All,
I am Lucky
eXpect eXcellence. We are eXPress News on eXpertComics.com
©2011 eXpertComics.com | DAMM
Dark Horse Partners with Game of Thrones!!!
Buffy Season 9 FREEFALL Their Way Into the DAMM Review Mailbox:
There is DARK MATTER on the Horizon and UXB in Presents #10
Buffy The Vampire Slayer is as big in my life as any property; you see most all the girls in my life are die-hard fans I recently received. Later on this page I review the first 3 issues of Season 9. But first let me say I am excited to finally be in the Dark Horse Universe talking news and books coming up. A preview or two are in order as well. Dark Horse has carried Star Wars for many years and done a fine job of it. Conan, Hellboy, Buffy all call Dark Horse home. I remember classics like Concrete. From all original series and anthologies to novel and movie adaptations Dark Horse has made me happy in that respect. But when you talk Dark Horse there are so many great ongoing creator owned and commercially licensed both over the years and currently that they are literally dark horse coming up the rail.
However there is Dark Horse News so I thought we would go there first – first!!
I have been reading George R. R. Martin for years. I was there for the original release of the Wild Cards novels because I am such a fan of Roger Zelazny that when I tuned in for Croyd the Sleeper, Dr. Tachyon and the rest of the universe entranced me. I am a POPINJAY loving, Hiram Worcherster fearing, Turtle cheering Puppet Man loathing ace and joker reading fool. I have read every chapter I can get my hands on. Well Martin has comics based on those series of books so there is a comic connection. There is a very special commentary throughout the series deeper and more complex than the personalities than Mark Meadows. I always liked Jumpin’ Jack Flash. Oh and beware Ti Malice and Bloat! I digress.
Well, there is this OTHER series of books like Song of Ice and Fire containing a story you may have heard of – Game of Thrones. You might have heard of it. In another comic book connection this news has come across the wire and here is the official release from Dark Horse:
HBO AND DARK HORSE ANNOUNCE
GAME OF THRONES PARTNERSHIP!
DARK HORSE DELUXE TO PRODUCE PRODUCT LINE BASED ON THE ACCLAIMED TELEVISION SHOW
MILWAUKIE, OR, NOVEMBER 10 — One of the most popular and critically acclaimed cable television shows of 2011 was Game of Thrones, created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss for HBO. The hit series is based on A Song of Ice and Fire, the best-selling fantasy novel series by George R. R. Martin.
Dark Horse Deluxe is proud to announce, in partnership with HBO, a vast Game of Thrones product line debuting in the spring of 2012, leading up to the show’s second-season premiere in April. Licensed product categories derived from the series will span a large range, including statues, busts, and action figures; prop and jewelry replicas; and barware, stationery, and other collectibles. This exciting new line of products debuts with a range of branded magnets, patches, playing cards, coaster sets, and more.
“We are delighted to be part of HBO’s licensing roster for Game of Thrones. We are big fans of the television adaptation,” said Dark Horse’s VP of Product Development, David Scroggy. “We are working closely with HBO to develop a line of products inspired by the series that will delight the fan base.”
Look for the first round of items in Diamond’s January Previews catalog; they will arrive in specialty retailers everywhere in March of 2012.
Based on the best-selling fantasy book series A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin, Game of Thrones debuted on HBO in March 2011. In a land where summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime, trouble is brewing. From the scheming south and the savage eastern lands, to the frozen north and the ancient Wall that protects the realm from the darkness beyond, two powerful families are engaged in a deadly cat-and-mouse game for control of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. As betrayal, lust, intrigue, and supernatural forces shake the four corners of the Kingdoms, their bloody struggle for the Iron Throne will have unforeseen and far-reaching consequences.
End of Official Press Release
So go and get all the Game of Thrones stuff you can get your hands on because this craze is just getting started and he who slices the most hands off to get a mug or book…wins. What they win is the coolest stuff and bragging rights about the Dark Horse/HBO collectibles which as you can see are quality. I am already drooling over that set of patches (though I may need a new denim vest) and think coffee would taste better from a Winter Coming Stark mug. I must find out.
To me this partnership is another example of what is right with licensed properties and comics much like the Dr. Who comic from IDW and the Army of Darkness titles from Dynamite. When there is a working property with a loyal fan base only the right handling of those properties by someone who innately understands the heart of the property can do it right. Finding the deepest desires of the fans without carbon copies in story and presentation or low quality merchandise offshoots coupled with ludicrous promotion is nearly impossible. Dark Horse of course (haha) has a rich successful history with licensed properties and does it better than anyone else in my opinion as evidenced by the Star Wars and Buffy lines to name only two. HBO/Game of Thrones and Dark Horse is big news indeed for lovers of the books and the show.
*ATTENTION SPOILERS AHEAD – as few and as low impact as possible
BUFFY the Vampire Slayer: Season 9 #1-3
Andrew Chambliss/Georges Jeanty/Dexter Vines/Michelle Madsen/Richard Starkings
Covers by Steve Morris
Designer – Justin Couch
Executive Producer – Joss Whedon – Script issue #1
Dark Horse $2.99
“With the destruction of the seed, the fight against Twilight was brought to an end, and magic’s connection to our earth was severed. No more Slayers will be chosen. No more Slayer army. No more gang: Buffy’s a waitress in San Francisco; Dawn and Xander are attempting normal domesticity; Willow is struggling with the loss of her powers. It’s a new(ish) world, but there are still demons and vampires to slay—even as their popularity with the masses continues to grow—and
Buffy is on point to do what she has always done . . . She is the Slayer.”…From the inside cover
Sunnydale’s Vampire Slayer returns for Season 9 with a great lineup, crazy plot twists and beautifully rendered covers with the first story arc Freefall from artist Georges Jeanty and writer Andrew Chambliss and what they have dished out in the first three issues. Buffy and her friends as well as all the magical and otherworldly beings are dealing with Buffy’s destruction of the seed and the change to their lives. This is Freefall.
Chambliss is phenomenal with his dialogue and it feels like an episode of the show in flow and in tone. The interchange between Xander, Dawn and Buffy in issue #2 is a perfect example of how seamless to feeling of the show it feels. In so many licensed adaptations there is a sense of “these are two different things” with this three issues it was like being in front of my TV and in my memory seems like episodes. Which I believe was the point. I felt the plotting was perfectly paced and logically propelled. The Spike representation in this story (which I considered the hardest characterization to pull off) is spot on and the road the cast appears to be on is intriguing fresh and for once in the tenure of the Buffyverse the end of the supernatural in Sunnydale looks to be a real consideration.
Severin is a great character and his ability and the mystery surrounding it are elements I found bursting with potential and the side story with the police is filled with great personalities. For the first time in my entire history with Buffy there was is some confusion as to who I am rooting for here and as to whether Buffy was right to destroy the seed and if she is right period after the effects of that act. I had reminiscent impressions of the way I felt when the black suit was first taking over Peter in Spider-Man and there is a marvelous sense of suspense. Here is something really cool – the vampires turned post seed destruction are more 30 Days of night than Buffy style. Modern, vicious ruthless killers that see humans as food these newly turned pose real threat to all life on earth despite the media and pop culture appeal of vampires.
Now let’s talk about the art. I have to admit it took me a minute to understand the art style. I was immediately impressed by the technique which is what an animated series would look like if rendered by a more traditional artist – that is to say it has an easily inviting style without the cartoony simplifications animated series often make for children and cereal commercials. But I was unable find what the arts pulse was. By that I mean the undertones in the illustrations. In every good comic’s art there is an overt and a hidden story a story and a theme. This is undoubtedly good art but I was lost as to how to tell you why so I read it a few more times, slowly pouring over it. In the middle of the night by keyboard light it dawned on me. Isolation. There is a sense of the world being cut off that comes from the backgrounds and the theme seems to me to be isolation.
The art so inviting and easily approached with familiarity of character and perfect show tone holds a “world has gone a degree dimmer” quality once acknowledged is blaring and spooky. With that understanding know that I believe the unsung hero of this arc to be the designer Justin Couch who has managed to communicate perfectly to the team this notion. Storytelling technique is clear and compressed. A lot happens in each issue and there is no second rate or rushed panels. The art is consistent, deliberate and there is not a single error I could find in the color palette choices. So while the well rendered likenesses are a plus, it is the background pencils and the colors that separate Freefall from the pitfalls of the hum drum and corny. A great kudos to this team of Jeanty, Vines and Madsen.
The TV audience army of purist Buffy fans can stop their fussing and get on board right now, with me. No I don’t bite…much. Buffy Season 9 so far lives up to every expectation the longest and most dedicated Buffy fans could hold. It is snappy and broody with crucial elements of characterization, likeness and mood perfectly delivered; included is an art ride for a Buffy experience of the highest order. Go buy this book. Unless you don’t like good times then buy it for the art. All and all I give the first 3 issues of Freefall an A.
AND NOW THE REST OF THE DAMM PICKED DARK HORSE EXTRAVAGANZA!…..
Dark Horse has a whole new batch of new irons in new fires! Whew! That is a lot of new! I am amazed at everything from the Mass Effect books and the Tom Morello comic Orchid. There is such a boon of risk and quality at Dark Horse currently that ANYONE fed up with the current frontrunner companies or simply looking for a change of pace and eye indulgence then Dark Horse is clearly a quality option. I mentioned Star Wars earlier and their latest endeavor in the Knights of the Old Republic line of books The Lost Suns continues doing the unthinkable making a triple way successful cohesion of film, game and comic. I went ahead and rifled through (very carefully) the press releases sent my way and read some great books, more on THAT later
As a bonus I have my eye on this beauty for sci-fi fanatics and when the official release came down I wanted to share it. Dark Matter is going to blow your minds. Trust me you do not want to miss this from the Stargate creators.
DARK MATTER RISES FROM DARK HORSE!
NEW SERIES FROM STARGATE CREATORS!
November 9, MILWAUKIE, OR—Fresh off their long tenure on Stargate, one of television’s most successful science-fiction epics, series writers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie flex their comic-book storytelling muscles to create a thrilling new science-fiction universe for Dark Horse Comics!
Mallozzi and Mullie, best known for their work on the Stargate franchise series (Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe), give you:
A derelict ship floating in space. Its troubled crew awakened from stasis with no memories of who they are or how they got onboard. Their search for answers triggering the vessel’s deadly security system, awakening a relentless android bent on their destruction. Facing threats at every turn, they will have to work together to survive a dangerous voyage charged with vengeance, redemption, betrayals, and, ultimately, hidden secrets best left unknown.
Science fiction by science-fiction veterans is sci-fi action at its best!
Dark Matter #1, the first in a four-issue miniseries with kinetic artwork by exciting newcomer Garry Brown, is on sale January 11, 2012.
eXcited? I know I am.
Also there was this that I found very interesting. UXB has descended on Dark Horse Presents and I couldn’t be happier in issue #10 you get this. Again the official presser.
COLIN LORIMER’S UXB COMES TO DARK HORSE PRESENTS #10!
November 9, MILWAUKIE, OR—Dark Horse Presents is renowned not only for publishing original work of comics luminaries but also for presenting powerful emerging voices of graphic fiction. Such is UXB by Colin Lorimer (Earp: Saints for Sinners), debuting in Dark Horse Presents #10.
In a shattered future postwar London, powerful experimental “life suits” that permanently graft to human bodies are created to counter the threat of terrorism. Given to three brothers, the suits could make the trio the saviors of mankind—if they can ever get past their obsessions for film, violent video games, and porn. Following in the dark footsteps of dystopian visions such as The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, DMZ, and Give Me Liberty, Lorimer’s UXB is challenging, thought provoking, laced with gallows humor, and illustrated with consummate skill.
“I’m thrilled that UXB has found a home within the hallowed pages of DHP. The journey of UXB is going to be rather dark and twisted and there’s no better place for that story to be told than Dark Horse,” says Colin Lorimer.
While you wait for Dark Horse Presents #10, be sure to check out Colin’s work at UXBComic.com.
Dark Horse Presents #10 is on sale March 21, 2012.
All in All,
I am lucky.
eXpect eXcellence. eXpertComics.com. I am eXPress.
©2011 eXpertComics.com | DAMM
The Healing Psychology of Teenage Belief
What to Do When the Voices You Are Hearing Are Your Best Friends…But You Are NOT Crazy
Another DAMM interview/review
“Yeah, we as a society seem to feel that people must fit into a certain mode to be considered normal – but normal people rarely make change in the world.” Bob Dixon
In the blink of an eye or the bat of a lash if you want the comics pun, a piece of fiction transcends its projected identity and becomes alive – its own working entity. It then launches itself at the hearts of everyone in its proximity and touches them deep enough to affect cultural awakening. If not culturally then it is personally. Sometimes that work has wings of hope and beams of light so deep and so powerful that the medium barely holds it. This is what Mouch and Company: The Dream Psychic becomes in just the first 4 chapters and after that goes even farther, it promotes healing.
No it will not cure what ails you but it WILL break the stone around your busy life heart, give you a sense of something larger than yourself and a love for the mentally ill, children and the professionals who tirelessly work round the clock to treat them. Did I mention this is fiction? Did I mention it is about comics in a way too?
Bob Dixon thought this up. Now all of those readers in the audience who are old enough to remember the 80s just said “Why do I know that name?” The answer is simple. Bob Dixon has a comic book pedigree too. As a major player in Pocket Change Comics he has brought memorable Indies to life too. Not only that but he teaches special education, is a Guinness Book of World Records holder for longest Comic Strip featuring the unforgettable characters of Mouch. Hmm a Mouch comic would be cool. (Hey Bloody Pulp Books get on that already would ya!?) OK so when I “met “ Mr. Dixon through the internet social media sites I had no idea what an impact his new book would have on me.
I usually write my own synopsis of the story and go deep into spoilers and breakdowns, but this is a novel not a comic. So my review if I had I gone that way would also have been a novel. So I adapted by giving you the Amazon.com product description so I can get on with the analysis and impromptu interview. Excited? Good.
Here is the synopsis:
“Being a teenager is tough enough, but try it when you have schizophrenia and psychic abilities that make all of your imaginary friends real… The odds are against Mouch – he’s locked up in Talsom Mental Asylum; his only friends are a sock puppet and his shadow. Worst of all, he suffers from amnesia; his earliest memory is of being found alone in a mall wearing nothing but a pair of polka-dotted boxer shorts, a pair of fluffy white bunny slippers, and a hat made from a newspaper…. and covered in a generous amount of blood. When an elderly gentleman visits him and reveals that Mouch is not crazy but is actually a psychic, Mouch does what any rational person would do-he runs for the door. Once outside of Talsom, Mouch soon finds himself thrust into a battle against a sinister movement of dark psychics who threaten to destroy the entire psychic community.”…Amazon.
Let’s not make any mischaracterizations here though, while it is a deep and soul deconstructing expedition, Mouch and Company: The Dream Psychic is brilliantly written all ages fiction with action and plotting on par with Harry Potter or Percy Jackson but the setting and characters are actually original and interesting, two things sorely missing from all ages (WHY do vampires SPARKLE!?!?!) fiction and the complexity and depth of each character has actual relevance as opposed to the formulaic nearly always stereotypical archetypal systems – over employed as the standard rules of what good fiction is. From Lucas to Morrison the Campbell archetypal systems have become standard and often meager fare. Not so here. The Dream Psychic has taken an entirely different set of rules altogether and makes them seem as natural and familiar as those same archetypes. The dialogue is straight how “kids these days” talk to each other and adults and every one of the “team” is endearing and comes with a feeling of necessity. Most importantly is what it does not do or rather what it is not.
This book is not condescending in any way – it doesn’t patronize adults or talk down to kids – nor does it oversimplify the serious and complex aspects of mental illness and its perceptions. It was so compelling in fact I was going to just review the book but really desired to talk to Mr. Dixon and get to know the character behind the characters. What I found was a very compassionate human being, warm and contemplative. While we did not meet in person I got a sense of calm from him via the net. Believe me after a couple hundred interviews via the net you can tell. This is how it went down.
While the synopsis from Amazon was accurate I had noticed a sub-theme thrumming like a transformer box on a rainy street pushing the subconscious to slowly realize, This sub-theme – this underpinning of intense self-realizations – was so compelling it was the first thing I asked him. I described the theme as best as my feeble words could describe as;
“The overall idea I got about Mouch was that healing is not limited to a chain of linear solutions offered by those who consider THEMSELVES healed (they often aren’t) and may in fact have no answers for you. Or that healing/finding your place is a personal journey not subject to the bounds of other people’s ideas of what you need, that everyone needs people they can trust. Am I correct?”
His reply was succinct and clear, “Absolutely correct, we all need a feeling of belonging and love.” I mention that there is an element heavily accented in regards to thinking you are deficient when you are not, crazy but you’re not and learning from the “sane” and the “insane” alike.
“Yeah, we as a society seem to feel that people must fit into a certain mode to be considered normal – but normal people rarely make change in the world. I think that people must have vision that is not seen through rose colored glasses, so not being normal doesn’t mean you’re crazy of course if you’re standing naked in the middle of the street talking to a garbage can then you might want to seek professional help.” Good advice given by a responsible citizen.
That leaves an obvious one, “What makes a grown man write sock puppets?”
“Mouch and Company started off as an independent comic book called Jester’s Dead initially Mouch was a humanoid who was a pacifist assassin. Mav actually completed the killings. As far as Sherman, he was and still is my comic relief. When I decided to move the characters into a novel format naturally some things had to change for the story to work; initially I started to keep them the same but I thought it would be best to make the changes I did. As far as why Sherman is a sock puppet in all honesty, although I do abstract cartoons, I don’t consider myself an artist – so in short a sock puppet was something I could draw when I went to novel he had been a sock puppet so long I couldn’t envision changing that.”
“Do you feel that your work in comics help in anyway as far as the novel is concerned?” I ask. “ When I wrote comic books I did a title I created for Pocket Change comics called The Assassinette which was a psychologist that went into people’s minds and battled with their weaknesses and fears, Mouch is a psychic so in many aspects its similar because I could draw on the visual images and all that we used there as well as some of the already rules I had in place for the characters on how certain things would work additionally I tried to write this similar to what I would like as a comic book fan.”
Comic fans from the 90′s will now scream in recognition and startled remembrance…Well, at least I did.
“I wrote for Pocket Change Comics on titles such as Assassinette, Shadow Slasher, The Holy Knight, Riplash and Psyco-Duck.” Did you hear that? Psyco-Duck I remember! Oh Yeah…but let’s not get distracted here…OK me. I asked him what comics he read. “I used to read a variety of things over the years but my main stains were Captain America, Spiderman, X-Men and anything Jim Starlin did; I loved his work on DreadStar.”
I thought how does that fit in relation to the payoff for the writer? What is the reward for laying oneself so bare? So I wondered with my typing hands and got this reply.
“The creative process is always a rewarding one to me, I enjoy writing and creating, I enjoy people’s feedback on my writing especially when it is positive.”
One of those payoffs (at least for me it would be) is the Guinness Book records. In fact the Mouch novel came from this giant cartoon strip. Once would be awesome but,” I did that twice actually Mouch was in the first one I did , the second one featured a sheep named Stoney the savage sheep, that was cursed with human intelligence and since that was a step down in the evolutionary chain he went on a quest to get his human sheep smarts back. The way that all came about though was I was in the school library with the kids I work with and was just thumbing through a copy of the Guinness World records and saw that the world’s longest cartoon strip was 175 done by 26 artist, I was astonished that it was only 175 feet and told myself that, that wasn’t that long so I set out to break it, the first one I did was 265 feet that last one was 629 feet both have since been broken by teams of artist but not by any single artist.” Are you kidding me? That is really cool.
I questioned him then on how the two fields of teaching and writing compliment or detract from each other or rather how they were similar or how they were different. “Oddly the two are worlds apart , the students I have worked with over my 21 year career have all been students with disabilities. Over the past 18 years, I have dealt with children with severe emotional issues so there are days I’m breaking up fights moments later I might be counseling a student who wants to kill themselves. Although I love what I do its high stress. When I write it is my escape from the stress of that life, its where I can let my imagination run wild and have some fun”
There is going to be oodles of positive on Mouch. But Mr. Dixon doesn’t stop there by any means he has some upcoming work I can’t wait to read.” I have contracts on 3 other novels one is a young adult book similar to Mouch, additionally my publisher and I are discussing the rest of the Mouch series. This week I started working on an independent movie script that already has a deal with the dish network.” But that is not all, “(I am) currently working on a 2-3 issue miniseries with the Author of ‘War of the Bloods in my Veins’ – Dashaun Jiwe Morris. The comic book will depict true gang life and deal with situations that really happen on the streets not some Hollywood version.” Wow that is a lot of psychological implications from the author of this current book!
There is a plethora of new and exciting works of prose out there too and Bob Dixon has produced a fine one. Go to authorbobdixon.weebly.com and get whatever you can get your hands on from Bob Dixon. You can thank me later. Oh, and the most important question – How long till we see more Psyco-Duck? “Very, very soon.”
eXpect eXcellence. I Am eXPress
ARLEN SCHUMER STORMS LOS ANGELES AND NEW YORK IN A BI-COASTAL BLITZ OF COMIC BOOK EXPERTISE!
BUT CAN L.A. GO TO SCHOOL AND CAN NYCC HANDLE THE KING’S GOLD?
Images by Arlen Schumer
LOS ANGELES IS LEARNING:
10/6 and 10/7
He is at it again. With an all infecting passion and a head full of more knowledge than a wing of the Smithsonian, Silver Age art expert and Twilight Zone authority, Arlen Schumer is giving the people of the Los Angeles area rare and potentially life changing opportunity. Who is Arlen Schumer? Well, he is just about the most knowledgeable man on Silver Age art and artists on the planet yes, is an artist of renown and creator of Captain Israel a defender of the Hebrew people, yes but he is also recognized as a prominent authority on Bruce Springsteen, Flintstones, Superman and Mort Weisinger. I have not even started talking about his newest projects. He is also one of the most well researched and opinionated men on the planet when it comes to the understanding of comic art and its relation to graphic design.
A brief introduction for the still unfamiliar:
Arlen Schumer, award-winning comic book-style illustrator and one of the foremost historians of comic book art—Comic Book Artist magazine named him “one of the more articulate and enthusiastic advocates of comic book art in America,” and his coffee table art book THE SILVER AGE OF COMIC BOOK ART won the Independent Publishers Award for Best Popular Culture Book of 2003—presents an overview and retrospective of his works that continue to bridge the gap between two different yet similar verbal/visual artistic disciplines: comic book art and graphic design (which he majored in at Rhode Island School of Design), from his landmark special issue of PRINT Magazine devoted to comics in 1988, to his forthcoming presentation at the New York Comic Con, “The Auteur Theory of Comics.” Schumer’s other books are VISIONS FROM THE TWILIGHT ZONE (Chronicle Books) and THE NEAL ADAMS SKETCHBOOK (Vanguard), and he has lectured at universities and cultural institutions across the country; for more, go to www.arlenschumer.com
NOW YOU CAN SEE HIM LIVE AND IN PERSON FOR FREE
Schumer has been asked for his expertise at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles! This is free to the public so this is a fantastic opportunity for every fan of comics to get in and see this one opportunity in a lifetime lecture from a growing legend and true aficionado of comic book art and graphic design. At 11 A.M. in the Burns building room 211 Schumer will give a lecture and demonstration of his incredibly keen mind and discerning eyes. As he talks about the “Graphic Design of Comic Book Art” you will be riveted by the passionate and entertaining delivery and find a new appreciation for the world of comics as a fine and illustrated art. This lecture cannot be missed, as it is his only scheduled lecture appearance on the West Coast!
What you did not know was that Schumer is also a stand-up comedian and sketch comedy performer as well and the night before the lecture at Flappers comedy club he will perform Wesley Willis’ “I Whupped Batman’s Ass” on October 6th at 6 P.M. the humor comes free. Tickets available here -
He is bold and unafraid. I highly recommend getting to both events if you are in Southern California – heck the western U.S.! Just go to where you know the knowledge is accurate, researched and laid out like only Schumer can. No one else can give you what Schumer can on this subject. Do your fanboy (or girl) self an extreme courtesy and learn WHY good art is good art.
BACK IN THE NEW YORK TRUTH:
On 10/15 Comic Lore Turns Truth
As soon as Schumer touches ground back on the East Coast he will head for the King of East Coast Cons the New York Comic Con. For two hours he will blow preconception to smithereens and fallacies previously accepted as truth will fall in the wake of the two CANT MISS panels from the Con, and they are BACK TO BACK! Can any Con even the daunted NYCC handle two hour of Schumer and friends, First at 12 O’clock high on Saturday the most revolutionary theory in comic creator and ownership to ever be presented will light up the phones and overload the message boards as the Auteur Theory of Comics Panel presented by the Comics Studies Conference bursts on to the scene in a Jack Kirby Defense and discussion on who is the actual creator of a comic book and character. It is the first of two once in a lifetime chance to see history happen in front of you!
THE AUTEUR THEORY OF COMICS: Comic book historian Arlen Schumer (The Silver Age of Comic Book Art) and Randolph Hoppe (Director of The Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center) present their theory that, just like a film’s director, not its screenwriter, is considered its true author (auteur in French), so should a comic book artist be considered the auteur of any comic book work done in collaboration with a writer (or a script in any verbal form), and is therefore a de facto co-creator and co-author, with the credited writer, of that work. Joining them will be editor/publisher John Morrow (The Jack Kirby Collector), publisher J. David Spurlock (Vanguard), Michael Bonesteel (The School of the Art Institute of Chicago) and others to be announced.
Saturday, October 15th, 12:00-1:00pm Rm. 1B03
SCHUMER: THE SEQUEL
The second hour also presented by the Comic Studies Conference is a clinic on the man who truly defined the Man of Steel, Mort Weisinger and if you miss Superman like I miss Superman in light of all this bastardization and darkening of the S-Crest then this panel is for you too! If you do not know who Mort Weisinger is and consider yourself a fan of Superman or consider the history of the DCU important, (or like me sacred to a certain degree) then it is imperative you see this. I will be at both of these New York Comic Con panels with extended in-depth coverage, but not even I can capture what is sure to be the best 2 hours of the New York Comic Con!!
REQUIEM FOR WEISINGER: Comic book historian & illustrator Arlen Schumer (The Silver Age of Comic Book Art)
presents the whit, whimsy and wisdom of Mort Weisinger, editor of theSuperman line for 30 years (1940-70), through Weisinger’s own words and artist Curt Swan’s images. Mort’s son, Dr. Hank Weisinger, participates in the presentation and discussion that follows.
Saturday, October 15th, 1:00-2:00pm Rm. 1B03
See you there!
All in All
I am Lucky
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