Tag Archives: superheroes

GIRL POWER Books to Help Planned Parenthood. Downtown Bookworks to Donate From Sales

Downtown Bookworks

Downtown Bookworks

For the next two weeks, Downtown Bookworks (a woman-owned and women-run business) will be donating a portion of the proceeds from sales of My First Book of Girl Power and The Big Book of Girl Power to Planned Parenthood.

Help spread the word. This is a great way to stand with Planned Parenthood, an organization that empowers women. The Downtown Bookworks campaign runs from March 1st thru March 15th.

My First Book of Girl Power

My First Book of Girl Power

The last page of The Big Book of Girl Power sums up how Downtown Bookworks feels and why it supports Planned Parenthood through its donation campaign:

“When women get together to do good things, nothing and nobody can stop them!

What are your your special powers?

How will you use them to make the world a better place?”

Downtown Bookworks would love to see you and your kids enjoying their books. Please connect with them by sharing your comments and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Visit Downtown Bookworks right here.

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Filed under Comics, Downtown Bookworks, Planned Parenthood, Superheroes, Women, Wonder Woman

ECCC 2017: Dark Heron, the Official beer of Emerald City Comicon

The Dark Heron from Fremont Brewing in honor of Emerald City Comicon in Seattle

The Dark Heron from Fremont Brewing in honor of Emerald City Comicon in Seattle

For those of you in Seattle, or heading out to Emerald City Comicon, you will want to make sure to visit Fremont Brewing in Seattle’s quirky Fremont neighborhood (1050 N 34th St) and get yourself the official ECCC beer, the Dark Heron. Kick back and get it on tap or in a bottle for later.

Fremont Brewing in Seattle

Fremont Brewing in Seattle

How does the official beer of Emerald City Comicon taste? Well, here are my thoughts. It has what we love about India Pale Ales: that robust citrus flavor and a hint of melon. What would bring me back to this beer is its overall juicy flavor. Bringing in Fremont Brewing’s own mascot into the title of this beer raises the stakes and this beer lives up to its name.

The Dark Heron by Jen Vaughn

The Dark Heron by Jen Vaughn

How about the snazzy artwork? The art is by local cartoonist Jen Vaughn. Dark Heron looks like she can hold her own with any villain. The trading card (nab one if you see one) says that Dark Heron was exiled from her flock for daring to express herself differently from the rest of the group. I’d be totally into reading about her adventures!

SPECIAL EMERALD CITY COMICON NOTE: Jen Vaughn will be tabling at #T15, so come find her for new Avery Fatbottom: Renaissance Fair Detective #2 and some Fremont Brewing label art for Dark Heron!

So, get ready for Emerald City Comicon (March 2 thru 5) and come visit one of Seattle’s favorite spots for beer, Fremont Brewing. It’s a great place to enjoy the lively Fremont scene with its spacious beer garden. Save me a spot and maybe I’ll come by and have a beer and chat about comics with you.

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Filed under Beer, Comics, Emerald City Comicon, Seattle

IMAGE COMICS FOUNDERS REUNITE AT EMERALD CITY COMICON 2017 TO CELEBRATE 25TH ANNIVERSARY (March 3, 2017)

Emerald-City-Comicon-Seattle

Emerald City Comicon 2017, here in Seattle, is fast approaching. It is a four-day event starting Thursday, March 2nd, and running through Sunday, March 5th. It is certainly a big deal for us locals as well as the Pacific Northwest and all points beyond. Image Comics will make a significant showing this year with a rare gathering of its founders to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Image Comics. This special panel is scheduled for Friday, March 3rd. Be sure to come to ECCC to see Image Comics founders Todd McFarlane, Jim Valentino, Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld, Marc Silvestri and Whilce Portacio.

Press release follows:

Continue reading

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Filed under Comics, Emerald City Comicon, Image Comics, pop culture, Seattle, Superheroes

Fantagraphic Books to Publish ALL TIME COMICS, a Shared Superhero Universe Featuring the World’s Most Fanta*stic Heroes

All Time Comics, Crime Destroyer #1, Jim Rugg cover

All Time Comics, Crime Destroyer #1, Jim Rugg cover

Alternative comics and superhero comics mix it up in various ways. The Big Two comics publishers, DC and Marvel, will occasionally employ “indie” cartoonists. Image Comics has set a high standard in creator-owned comics that generally deconstruct the traditional superhero genre. And there are all sorts of satirical and subversive answers to the standard cape and tights. That brings us to today’s announcement of the launch of a brash new line of superhero comics titles from the alt-comics stalwart, Fantagraphics. The line of comics goes by the cheeky name of All Time Comics. The project is led by alt-cartoonist and writer Josh Bayer. This is part of a shared universe featuring four heroes: Atlas, Blind Justice, Bullwhip, and Crime Destroyer.

Panel work-in-progress from All Time Comics: writing, pencils, by Josh Bayer; inks by Al Milgrom; letters by the great Rick Parker.

Panel work-in-progress from All Time Comics: writing by Josh Bayer; pencils by Noah Van Sciver; inks by Al Milgrom; letters by Rick Parker.

The fun begins March 31, 2017, with “All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer issue 1,” a 36-page oversized comic book featuring the writing of Josh Bayer, the inks of Ben Marra and the last art by legendary artist Herb Trimpe, who co-created Wolverine. Upcoming issues feature art by Rick Buckler Jr., Ben Marra, Al Milgrom, Noah Van Sciver, and more. Issue #1 will feature two distinct covers, one by Jim Rugg and the other by Johnny Ryan. Upcoming issues feature art by Rick Buckler Jr., Ben Marra, Al Milgrom, Noah Van Sciver, and more.

Page from upcoming contribution by Noah Van Sciver (pencils) and Stephen Bissette (inks).

Page from upcoming contribution by Noah Van Sciver (pencils) and Stephen Bissette (inks).

This looks to be a true mashup of the sensibilities of alt-comics and superhero comics. Look for a love of the genre mixed well with irony.

Here’s a look at upcoming titles:

All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #1

Josh Bayer (story); Herb Trimpe (pencils); Ben Marra (inks); Jim Rugg (cover) + Johnny Ryan (cover); MARCH 2017

All Time Comics: Bullwhip #1

Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (pencils); Al Milgrom (inks); Das Pastoras (cover) + Tony Millionaire (cover); APRIL 2017

All Time Comics: Atlas #1

Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (story, pencils, inks); Das Pastoras (cover); MAY 2017

All Time Comics: Blind Justice #1

Josh Bayer (story and pencils); Rick Buckler (pencils); Al Milgrom (inks); Victor Martinez (cover); JUNE 2017

All Time Comics: Crime Destroyer #2

Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (story, pencils, inks); Das Pastoras (cover); JULY 2017

All Time Comics: Blind Justice #2

Josh Bayer (story); Ben Marra (story); Noah Van Sciver (pencils); Al Milgrom (inks); Das Pastoras (cover); AUGUST 2017

For more details, follow Fantagraphics right here. You can also follow All Time Comics via Twitter @alltimecomics and via Facebook @ALLTIMECOMICS.

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Filed under Comics, Fantagraphics, Noah Van Sciver, Superheroes

Will Marvel Kill Off Loki??

Marvel Thor Ragnarok

After already having to endure a less than satisfying superhero face-off this year with Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” and with reports of a less than critically acclaimed blockbuster in “Suicide Squad,” 2016 is not shaping up to be the best year for superheroes.

The good news however is that there is hope for 2017! There’s 11 new features lined up, which will be drip fed to cinema goers over the course of the next 3 years, and in November 2017, a third entry in the Thor franchise will be unleashed.

“Thor: Ragnarok” will be helmed by New Zealander Taika Waititi, one of the co-creators behind hilarious Kiwi comedy “What We Do in the Shadows,” and he’ll be directing from a script penned by Stephany Folsom, Craig Kyle and “Thor 2: The Dark World” scribe Christopher Yost.

The movie is already set to see Aussie star Chris Hemsworth return to don the iconic red cape and wield his powerful hammer, but we will also be seeing his on-screen brother and all-round cheeky nemesis back for more antics. Loki, played by the charismatic Brit actor Tom Hiddleston, will be making his 4th appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and as fun, malevolent and comedic as the God of Mischief has been, how is his future set on-screen?

He popped up as the main antagonist in “The Avengers,” as well as all the other standalone Thor features, but is the character destined for doom? In 2014, even Tom himself hinted at the possibility of Loki’s cinematic fate.

There are plenty of good reasons to finally kill off the character as new threats and other-worldly entities are slowly coming to the surface for hopeful superhero intervention.

So is Loki a superfluous villain or is there still life in the old dog yet? Already immortalised in popular media through a range of toys, clothing and whacky wobblers not to mention his cult status in the gaming and casino world, appearing in some of the best slot sites, the character is unlikely to be forgotten soon.

Marvel Loki Thor Ragnarok

This is all pure speculation and obviously there’s no official reports whatsoever that the green meanie will be done away with in the near future. But with Hiddleston himself becoming a more bankable actor and picking up larger roles, would a supporting supervillain part be enough for him going forward?

It’s no secret that “Thor: Ragnarok” is likely to feature the famous destined apocalyptic battle taken from the pages of the original comics which ultimately predicts the total annihilation of Asgard, and it’s Loki who is the catalyst for the battle. We can’t really imagine that his brother will be too happy about that and it could finally lead to Thor putting to rest sibling rivalry forever.

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Filed under Comics, Loki, Marvel Comics, movies, Ragnarok, Thor

Will The X-Men Survive Marvel’s Latest Mega-Event?

Death of X-Men

Guest column by George Brandes

In the heyday of the 1990s, the X-Men were far and away the most popular Marvel comic on the shelves. The animated series from the same era remains beloved by fans and the movies still consistently put up big numbers at the box office. But today, one place we’re seeing the X-Men less and less is in the pages of the actual comics. With the attention of the comics becoming ever more focused on reflecting the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it has begun to look as though one popular franchise is being left behind, the X-books.

Unless you’ve been living under a particularly large rock, you know there’s been a bit of a clash of the titans concerning the ownership rights for Marvel properties between Disney and Fox. Fox has the rights to the X-Men and Deadpool while Disney (and subsequently Marvel) gets the Avengers and everyone else. Disney has apparently made nice with Sony, who have the rights to Marvel’s other flagship hero, Spider-Man. The latest iteration of the web-slinger appeared in the recent Captain America: Civil War while Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of Tony Stark will make his own appearance in Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming. This reconciles the two once disparate cinematic continuities and their partnership is being reflected in the comics. Marvel continues to push new and exciting Spider-Man stories while experimenting with and expanding the character’s world.

Unfortunately, no such deal has been reached between Disney and 20th Century Fox. As a result, the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the big-screen exploits of the X-Men remain at a noticeable arm’s length from each other. Even in the Avengers films with their inclusion of characters such as the Scarlet Witch, they’re careful to never specifically mention the world “mutant” lest they step on the toes of the films from Fox or recognize that mutants are even a thing in the MCU.

In the publisher’s latest relaunch with its All-New Marvel campaign, fans noticed a significant dearth of mutant-related titles, with the company instead choosing to focus more on the extraterrestrial Inhumans. It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that Marvel and Disney still have the film rights to a potential Inhumans movie while Fox retains its death grip on the X-Men franchise. It should also be noted that Marvel is no longer publishing The Fantastic Four as an ongoing comic, a property whose film rights are also owned by Fox. As a result of this impasse, Marvel has taken to slowly but surely erasing both the X-Men and the Fantastic Four from its merchandising as well.

The lack of X-books certainly isn’t because the characters are no longer popular. If anything, the X-Men are just as popular as ever judging by the money made at the movies. The mutants also continue to make their mark in video games, with three separate X-Men-themed casual titles among similar jackpot-based offerings online. They feature classic line-ups of characters that fans know and love while using the time-tested gameplay of a traditional slot-reel. These games work to expand the property’s reach to a much larger audience than would be possible through just the comics, or even the movies. Also, with the massive overhauls being seen throughout the X-verse, these games are one of the few places you’ll still be able to find the take on Wolverine that you remember from the original cartoons. The comics are now populated by Old Man Logan while the female mutant formerly known as X-23 now wears the Wolverine mantle.

If fans didn’t still connect with the mutants on a personal level, there’d be little incentive to use them as a draw for mass audiences. Clearly, there’s something larger at foot for their notable absence from the comics. The X-Men are obviously still a popular property, so it would be surprising to see the team disappear entirely from comic book pages. Marvel would be cutting off its nose to spite its face if they made such a move, but it wouldn’t be all that surprising given what happened to the Fantastic Four.

The X-Men have been a pivotal property in helping shape Marvel into the company we know it today, and they were also largely responsible for the modern day superhero film boom. While we would seriously doubt to see the mutants disappear completely, the future for homo superior has never looked more bleak. We can only hope that Marvel can reconcile with the property that helped to save it in its darkest hour.

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Filed under Comics, Fox, Marvel Comics, movies, Sony, Spider-Man, X-Men

Review: BLACK HAMMER

Black Hammer Jeff Lemire

BLACK HAMMER is the latest entry in the fish-out-of-water superhero story. For this first issue, Jeff Lemire tries out a bunch of scenes with his cast of misbegotten superheroes. And the twist at the end of this first issue, should leave you wanting more. Dean Ormston’s artwork compliments Lemire’s script with a light and ethereal quality similar to Lemire’s own artwork. And Dave Stewart rounds out the core creative trio with plenty of those spot on atmospheric colors: autumnal oranges and sunset pinks. Where all this is headed is still unclear but the overall offbeat quality is winning me over.

These are superheroes with a Golden Age vibe to them. The real deal type. And it fell upon them to make some big sacrifices they’d all rather not talk about. But talking things out is good, right? That’s what Abe would say. Of course, Gail would never listen. And Barbalien would just laugh. There’s this one scene where Gail, who happens to be stuck inhabiting a 9-year-old, goes off to sit and brood on a rooftop. Along floats by Barbalien looking like this really big demon. He plops next to Gail and the two of them chat. It’s a good scene but it reminded me way too much of the sitcom, “3rd Rock from the Sun.” You know the show? It has a similar premise: aliens from another world stuck on planet Earth. You can imagine Joseph Gordon-Levitt up there on the roof with a hoodie feeling bad about himself and then John Lithgow comes out to join him.

I don’t think it’s such a good idea for this script to resemble a sitcom too much unless we’re heading down a particularly ironic path. There’s also a scene with ole Abe going into town to see his sweetheart, a waitress at the diner. That too has a squarely sitcom quality to it. I am willing to see where this goes. Then there’s Talky-Walky. He’s a robot determiend to invent a way to get off the island…uh, I mean planet. I sense that Lemire really wants to be very playful. So, if you’re in the mood for something whimsical, and ironic, this may end up adding up the further along you go past this first issue.

BLACK HAMMER is available as of July 20, 2016. For more details, visit Dark Horse Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, Comics Reviews, Dark Horse Comics, Jeff Lemire, Satire, Superheroes

Book Review: ‘A Hundred Thousand Worlds’ by Bob Proehl

"A Hundred Thousand Worlds" by Bob Proehl

“A Hundred Thousand Worlds” by Bob Proehl

Bob Proehl is in touch with the natural, yet complex, details of a mother and son relationship. In Proehl’s debut novel, he has Valerie Torrey face the bittersweet transition of her son, Alex, leaving behind childhood and quite literally having to say goodbye to his mom. It’s complicated but, in this case, inevitable.

Alex Torrey is a nine-year-old boy who hasn’t seen his dad, Andrew, in six years. In Alex’s world, his dad is three things: an actor in Los Angeles; a movie star he can see on TV; and, just for fun, the character he plays, a time traveling secret agent. It was Valerie who made the reckless decision to kidnap her son and raise him in New York. Now, Val seems to want to make things right by reuniting Alex with Andrew. Throw in an assortment of superheroes, monsters, and robots, and you have the engaging debut novel by Bob Proehl, “A Hundred Thousand Worlds,” published by Viking.

This story hangs together very well on the tiny frame of nine-year-old Alex, who is at that magical age of still being very much a child and yet capable of profound observation. He is a character type that has been brilliantly employed in some great fiction from such diverse writers as Günter Grass, John Irving, and Jonathan Safran Foer. So, Proehl has created his very own charming and sad little imp. Alex questions everything. He has certain rituals he follows to help him find answers like reversing the letters to various names hoping to tap into some hidden meaning. It makes no sense to an adult but follows kid logic. From this heartbreaking innocence we can compare our own journey to self-discovery.

Valerie met Andrew while the two were starring in the hit sci-fi series, “Anomaly.” The mystery is what triggered Valerie to run away with Alex to New York. Proehl sets in motion a clever device to get Valerie, Andrew, and Alex reunited. Six years of separation from his father has taken its toll on Alex, a situation crying out for resolution. Valerie leverages her pop culture status and picks up some appearances on the comic book convention circuit, enough to cover her expenses on her odyssey with Alex, from New York back to Los Angeles. Along the way, we get plenty of jokey references to the comic book industry, many which will be appreciated by diehard fans.

Proehl’s work is ambitious as he juggles numerous pop culture references while developing something deeper. He does a wonderful job of straddling the lighthearted accessibility of a young adult novel with the richer field of literary fiction. Valerie, for example, is quite compelling as a flawed character. Andrew has made some obvious bad choices but Valerie has much to work out like her smothering overprotective nature.

Proehl knows how to satirize pop culture quite well. It is remarkable that he also knows how to evoke the qualities that attract us to mass entertainment. Nothing is ever so simple, not a divorce, not a child, not even a comic book.

“A Hundred Thousand Worlds Hardcover” is published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House, available as of June 28, 2016. For more details, visit Penguin Random House right here.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Books, Comic-Con, Comics, pop culture, Superheroes

Review: SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN #7 by Max Landis and Jock

Superman Max Landis Jock

Max Landis broke onto the scene with his indie cult hit movie from 2012, “Chronicle,” a subversive take on superhero tropes. That ultimately got the attention of DC Comics. Or maybe it was the parody short film Landis did that same year, “The Death and Return of Superman.” Landis has a take-no-prisoners approach in his critique on how DC Comics has managed Superman over the years. That led DC Comics to invite Landis to try his hand at writing a bit on ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN in 2014. And now, Landis presents his own limited series, SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN, which just completed its 7-issue limited run on May 18th. Let’s take a look at the last issue.

Granted, Superman is a very special case. As the most venerable comic book icon of all time, he is susceptible to being treated like a rare triple-mint (still in the box) action figure. You can easily end up with stories that are NOT stories but just confirmations on how awesome Superman is. That will placate a die-hard fan but it’s not worthy of a character with unlimited potential, right? You can place the Superman character is any number of situations, modulate the tone, get a little crazy too. In the end, without forcing it, focusing on a good story is how Superman stays fresh and interesting. That said, I really enjoyed reading the last issue to this limited series and I tip my hat to Max Landis and to the always dapper and cool artwork by Jock.

Superman American Alien Landis

What I like here is the looseness and irreverence. The series is seven stories in various times in Clark Kent’s life. For this last story, Landis and Jock work as a tag team to bring you a classic final showdown between hero and villain. In this case, Superman battles Lobo from the planet, Czarnia. Lobo from Czarnia? It sounds snarky badass as well as whimsical, something a child might say while playing with a battered action figure. That alone tells you that Landis is playing with a fictional character, not a prized trophy, and trying to shake things up. And that’s really what we want to read more of with our Superman stories. Here’s to reading more Superman stories that challenge the status quo in the future!

SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN is well worth picking up when it is available as a trade paperback or, if you prefer, read the singles! For more details, visit DC Comics right here.

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Filed under Comics, DC Comics, DC Entertainment, Max Landis, Superman

Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA vs. IRON MAN: Freedom, Security, Psychology

Superheroes at Odds

Superheroes at Odds. Illustration by Henry Chamberlain

What is most important to us? Freedom or security? Can both coexist? What if national security is involved? We have been grappling with this dilemma anew since 9/11. The current hit movie, “Captain America: Civil War,” pits superheroes in a bloody battle: Iron Man defending national security; Captain America defending individual freedom. “Captain America vs. Iron Man: Freedom, Security, Psychology,” published by Sterling, is a thought-provoking collection of ten essays exploring these very issues. One easy-going Sunday, Jen and I made our way to Miir, a favorite local coffee shop and store. We relaxed, chatted, and I put this review together.

Reading "Captain America vs. Iron Man: Freedom, Security, Psychology"

Reading “Captain America vs. Iron Man: Freedom, Security, Psychology”

Such basic issues as security and freedom naturally make their way into the often engaging world of superhero comics. Some readers dismiss superhero comics as just a genre full of capes and tights. But, as I always feel compelled to point out: Follow the story, not just the superhero! Always take note of who is writing the script! Because, without a doubt, compelling stories are there to be told. Mark Millar’s original comic book script for Marvel Comics is an exploration of this conflict between freedom and security. Congress passes a law requiring all superheroes to register just like any other law enforcement officer. Captain America is against such limits to his actions. Iron Man supports the new law, even if it leaves him at odds with Cap. And so you end up with a classic in the superhero genre.

Now, let’s place these two battling warriors on the psychiatrist’s coach. What are the root causes behind Iron Man battling Captain America? A Freudian could see this dispute as symbolizing the battle waged by the superego and the id to control the mind’s ego. And, since this is Freud, this would also be about masculine sexual competition. This is how we begin one of the essays to be found here, “Punching Hitler: Symbols in Red, White, Blue, and Gold.” It is written by the book’s editor, Dr. Travis Langley, and Tommy Cash. This essay represents the concise insight to be found in the rest of the book, steadily building from one idea to the next.

So, what further motivates this conflict? This strikes at the core beliefs of each character. Captain America originated during World War II and embraces America’s hopes and ideals of that era. Iron Man originated during the Vietnam War and cynically embraces the military industrial complex, “all the things the hippies hated,” for the sake of a greater good. You take those two symbols of heroism, Langley and Cash argue in their essay, and see how they clash with the contemporary framework of the War on Terror. You have the stage set for conservative fans on the side of Iron Man; and liberal fans on the side of Captain America. Each character represents a charged symbol, a distinctive way of seeing America and the world, one an ideal, one a reality.

The MiiR Flagship store in Seattle

The MiiR Flagship store in Seattle

Well, I hope this provides you with an intriguing taste of what to expect from this unique book. I was so happy to take the time out for this review and the setting I chose for my reading could not have been better. You see, MiiR is part of something really special. You could say they take individual freedom, and responsibility, very seriously. It all began with the goal of creating the perfect bottle and Miir did just that plus so much more. MiiR keeps giving back every step of the way. Each MiiR item you purchase directly supports a project helping those in need around the world. Hmm, talk about super powers! Check them out right here.

“Captain America vs. Iron Man: Freedom, Security, Psychology” is a 192-page paperback. For more details, visit Sterling Publishing right here.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Books, Captain America, Comics, Iron Man, Mark Millar, Marvel Comics