Written and Drawn by Various
Published by Dynamite Entertainment
Published by Image Comics

Reviewed by Marc Mason

Eight new first issues that have crossed my desk lately. Let’s take a look, shall we?

Probably the most high profile of the group, AMERICA’S GOT POWERS (Image) delivers quite a bit of bang for the buck. Writer Jonathan Ross and artist Bryan Hitch offer up 40 pages of story for a mere three bucks, which is nice, and with Hitch doing the work, you know it’s damn pretty. The story introduces us to Tommy Watts, a non-powered young man whose brother happens to be a champ of the eponymous reality show the book is about. As we meet Tommy and go inside the workings of the show (surprise- it’s corrupt!) we also get a nice bit of world building and exposition, as well as the dynamic action that the artist is famous for. The characters are a little broadly drawn, though that’s somewhat to be expected in a first issue, and there have been enough permutations on the superhero reality show that the book really needs to find a way to set itself apart quickly. But I’ll admit to ignoring that quite a bit as I slowly perused the pages and enjoyed the level of detail and craft on display here. Ultimately, I wasn’t blown away, but I couldn’t turn away, either. I’ll definitely keep reading.

Coming close as far as high-profile books go, though, is THE SHADOW (Dynamite). Writer Garth Ennis knows his way around, his track record speaking for itself, and he hits the mark again here. His reintroduction of Lamont Cranston and his alter-ego is absolutely scintillating, a blast of exciting pulp that really grabs you from page one. Ennis has multiple things he must do here: introduce the character to a generation who has never read his adventures, tell a cool story for those who already know the character, and invest some emotional depth to the proceedings in order to give all readers a hook. He succeeds completely. By the time you reach the end of the book, you know everything you need to know and have multiple reasons to come back. As a bonus, artist Aaron Campbell has already proven himself to be perhaps the best period-artist in the business right now, and this book cements that reputation. This is one of the best debuts I’ve seen in a while.

Writer Jonathan Hickman has been raising his profile quite a bit over the last few years, and he once again works with artist Ryan Bodenheim on SECRET (Image). This book continued to show me a new, more interesting Hickman, a writer who now seems to have better grasp on his storytelling. Where his earliest work tended to lean toward incoherency, now there is a renewed focus on putting away the tricks and being efficient in moving the reader through the tale. SECRET tells us of a private security firm that isn’t exactly swimming in high ethics; that said, they sure are interesting. There is clearly more lurking beneath the surface here, as there should be with a book that is essentially a mystery. That’s something we don’t see a lot of anymore in comics, which alone gets my attention here. The pages are clear and have a sharp look about them, and the scripting is light and not overdone. This makes two winners in a row for me with Hickman. My opinion of his work has now begun to truly turn around.

Vampirella + Fight Club = VAMPIRELLA: THE RED ROOM, a fun new mini featuring comics’ sexiest bloodsucker (Dynamite). I’ve enjoyed writer Dan Brereton’s take on Vampi in the past, and he delivers again here with a story that is loaded with action and contains just enough character to keep the pace moving along. Conceptually, this is a no-brainer, and artist Jean Diaz does well with being turned loose to depict maximum carnage and mayhem. If you buy this book, you aren’t looking for intellectual stimulation – you’re looking for sexy, bloody fun. It delivers just that.

Jumping back over to mystery comics, MIND THE GAP also fits that description nicely (Image). Here, we get a two-track story; in one, we follow the friends and family of a young girl who has been injured and is in a coma as they cope with the accident and try and piece together how it happened; in the other, we follow the spirit/soul of the comatose victim as she puts her mind back together and discovers that there is very much something in the gap between life and death and she just might have some power and control that will shock the living and dead alike. Aided and abetted beautifully by artists Rodin Esquejo and Sonia Oback, writer Jim McCann’s story does an excellent job of piquing your curiosity, gaining your interest, and delivering surprises that make you want to read more. As good as McCann’s other work has been, I should have known how good this was going to be, yet I was still surprised at how much I was into it.

About a month ago I interviewed writer Paul Tobin and we talked a bit about THE BIONIC WOMAN (Dynamite). Now, having read issue one, I can tell you that he wasn’t just blowing smoke about the book. You don’t need to have read THE BIONIC MAN to understand any of it, and you don’t need to have any familiarity with Jaime Sommers, either. Instead, everything you need to know and that matters is all right here in a very accessible spinoff from the main title. Using clever exposition and righteous action, we get a full accounting of who the lead character is and why she is in her present situation. Artist Leno Carvalho shows aptitude for action and quiet moments alike, and the book demonstrates Jaime’s new assortment of powers in intriguing and interesting ways. Spinoffs tend to be a crapshoot. This is a good one.

Writer/artist Raffaele Ienco certainly produces lovely pages. His colors are vibrant, the level of detail is impressive, and his action sequences are spectacular. All that said, I wasn’t fully sold on EPIC KILL. The story follows a young woman named Song who has been sent to a mental facility because she has gaps in her memory. Well, and because she’s a deadly assassin bent on killing a lot of people including the President of the United States. The disconnect here is simple: you don’t get any sort of idea of why it would be bad to keep this woman put away. She kills a shitload of people in making her escape, which we are meant to cheer on, yet we don’t have any idea why we should want her to succeed in her goals. Without that, there’s not much in the way of rooting interest for her beyond the kewl factor. Hopefully the next issue will deal with that.

MERCILESS: THE RISE OF MING (Dynamite) sure looks pretty. Artist Ron Adrian puts together pages that you can absolutely savor with your eyes. Writer Scott Beatty delivers a solid script, too. Yet somehow, all the pieces don’t quite feel put together here. Telling the origin of one of pulp’s great villains is an excellent idea, but it feels a little too clean. As a prince to his father, Ming is still kind of a dick. He’s not full-on evil yet, but you wouldn’t want to have a beer with the guy. So when he returns from a meeting with the hawk people and starts berating and murdering his scientists, it doesn’t come as a surprise. I realize this is carping, and I’ll stop – most readers and lovers of the FLASH GORDON stories are going to absolutely love this book. It’s a good comic. I was just disappointed in the direction the story took.


Rogue Element 98: C2E2 2012- The Column

By Avril Brown

Despite planning for the recent Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo-centric weekend months in advance, which included shopping at various venues for the right pieces to complete my cosplay, taking two days off of work and figuring out scheduling with my nerdy boy toy, the excitement did not truly take root until I was on the El this past April morning on Friday the 13th heading towards the McCormick Convention Center.

“SEATS!!!” several young humans shrieked at a barely decipherable decibel as they boarded the Red Line. “We have SEATS!!!” As I snorted to myself before resuming writing in my journal, I wondered when the last time I was so excited about seating arrangements, and it hit me. Seats on the train, a million dollar lottery ticket, a weekend off work to enjoy a rocking Chicago Comic Convention; they are all relative. What really matters is how you feel about what it happening in front of you, and at that moment I felt like I could have turned the El into the Japanese Bullet train utilizing nothing but my enthusiasm for what I was heading towards.

By the time I reached the Cermack/Chinatown stop, I was practically floating my way over to the McCormick Center. The panels, the people, the comics, the cosplay! I simply could not WAIT to get my feet wet in Chicago comic-y goodness yet again. I power-walked my way on over to McCormick, falling into step with another fellow nerd. We turned towards each other at almost the exact same moment as we approached the Center, me buoyed by his badge and he by my tattoo peeking out from my tank top.
“Where is the North Building?”/“Is that Rogue and Gambit on your back?” Our questions coincided but soon all was sorted and curiosity on both sides was sated as we continued our merry amble towards our mutual destination.

Once my credentials were established it was off to Con-land, and I was greeted at the entranceway with the DJ spinning ‘Ice Ice Baby.’ Vanilla Ice is synonymous with ’90s cheesiness, but so is ‘X-Men: The Animated Series,’ the cartoon directly responsible for my involvement with comics, therefore I took the song as an omen of awesomeness and waltzed into C2E2 to check out the hook while the DJ revolved it.

After finding one of my besties in Artist Alley, Kurt Dinse (video interview forthcoming) and depositing my writing and recording stuff, I was off to explore the C2E2 world, starting with Artist Alley. Thanks to my years of Con visits and various forays into the comic book world, there were quite a few familiar faces holed up in AA with their talented wares on display. I always take my time in Artist Alley, soaking up the sights, chatting with friends and acquaintances, examining the latest artwork and projects and mentally slapping myself every time the urge to buy creeps into my brain and wallet (first day of the Con is always limited to window shopping). The new faces are part of the experience as well, both the creators and my fellow Con-goers. I met sculptor Dino Crisanti last year and was thrilled to see him promoting the World of Traegonia with collaborator/writer Kim Krueger (another video to be aired shortly). My mouth was filled with trail mix as I saw a costume I recognized walking through Artist Alley out of the corner of my eye. By the time I caught up with him I’d swallowed enough (insert jokes here) to call out his name: “Max Damage!,” I said, half-choking on a raisin. He whipped around to face me, his eyes alight with excitement that someone recognized him, and sure enough his words confirmed I was thus far the only person who knew who he was. I further made his day when I informed him Mark Waid, creator and writer of ‘Incorruptible,’ the BOOM! Studios comic home to reformed super-villain Max Damage, had a table in AA.

Half of Artist Alley remained un-inspected before it was time for the Dragonlore panel, however it was only an hour before I was back on the Con floor. One distinct asset a smaller Con like C2E2 has over San Diego or New York (besides the home court advantage) is the convenience of not needing the Batmobile to help get you from the floor to the panels in less than thirty minutes. More time was spent perusing the exhibitors and the expansive AA before the first day of the Con came to a close.

The early evening was spent with two of my favorite out of town Conners at a new-to-me bar named Krull’s, worthy of note if only for their voluminous selection of beers, but after a couple hours of dining, drinks and a hint of debauchery, I did something unprecedented: I went home. The hotel bar scene, teeming with both local comic book nerds and hotel guests, simply did not hold the appeal it has in past years. Perhaps it is the over-priced drinks on an already aching bank account, or the crowded counters and thirty minute wait for your twelve dollar Miller Lite, but I was on the El by 9:30PM on a Friday night. Perhaps it was fate, for I found Max Damage on the platform asking an uncooperative local for directions and getting a cold shoulder in response. I directed him to the northbound train and tipsily chatted his ear off back to Belmont.

Saturday April 14th, the second day of the Con, I arrived with my spirited significant other and our important supplies. We donned our costumes before hitting the floor, each of us helping the other with our characters’ tell-tale face paint, and soon enough Layla Miller and Jamie Madrox made their C2E2 debut. Most people aware of the popular ‘X-Factor’ character understood Jesse’s costume pretty readily as the symbol on Madrox’s shirt is rather unique, but they would face me, cock their heads to the side quizzically and ask, “Who are you?” Semi-indulgent smiles and nods were my typical fare, but like Max Damage I utterly lit up every time someone with a grin and a camera asked to take a picture of Layla Miller.

We strolled through the Con as nerdy lovers do, making sure to scour every inch of Artist Alley including the web comic aisle where several of Jesse’s favorites resided, and followed our ears to the distinct sound of motorized needles hard at work creating an abundance of interesting body art. We split panels, me attending the Dynamite show and he listening in on Truth is Stranger Than Fiction, a panel starring several fiction authors discussing the research they do on the real-life weird as fodder for their own personal projects. I couldn’t resist a touch of shopping as we passed by a mannequin covered in all sorts of geeky pins, the kind you need to be ‘in’ on in order to understand. I picked up one in AA with a picture of Grr in his squeaky green dog costume (now that I am aware of the side-splitting, short-lived television show entitled ‘Invader Zim’ I felt as if the zealous Zim and his adorably insane sidekick Grr were everywhere, appearing on buttons, prints and those little paper crowns you get at Burger King), plus two belying my love of ‘Firefly’ (one says, “I’ll be in my bunk,” the other, “Oh, I’m going to the special hell,” two very memorable quotes from the show), one Buffy pin (which says, “Bored now,” a significant line from the series) and finally a Vampire Diaries pin which blatantly declares me a “Salvatore Girl.”

Once again the day ended faster than expected, and I strongly believe my comfy shoes were largely responsible for making the time fly. May I always wear costumes with such satisfactory sneakers! Dinner was once again enjoyed at a novel location for this Chi-town gal, and Jesse and I inhaled top notch burgers and alluring ales at 3 Aces alongside several local friends. Also making a repeat appearance was my newfound aversion to the Hyatt bar and desire for an early night on a Con weekend, so we were homeward bound following a damn fine meal and even better company.

Sunday April 15th was more of a lackadaisical last day despite me being hangover-free for the first time ever at the close of a Con. I picked up another Katie Cook mini-watercolor painting, knowing as soon as I saw the orange tiger and the sandy-haired boy in the red and black-striped shirt that I had to have it. The Marvel panel was tantalizing as was the subsequent fan girl moment, and of course Jesse and I finally found a goldmine of cheap trades during the last thirty minutes of the Con, leaving me with one amazing acquisition (the first ‘Transmetropolitan’ trade, a Warren Ellis classic and my new obsession) but also aching for more good finds. The five o’clock closing time seemed too swift having been allowed to linger until seven the previous two days, but all good Cons must come to an end and C2E2 2012 had come, it had seen, and it had conquered the hearts of nerds and naysayers alike.

The convention seems to swell larger every year, and many friends in Artist Alley reported a profitable weekend. Comic companies unloaded oodles of swag, the panels were as distinctive as they were diverting, people were jolly and generous and fun seemed to be had by all. Many thanks to everyone who helped make this Con weekend as wonderful as it was, and may the countdown begin to next year’s Chicago-centered comic culture carousal!


Rogue Element 97: C2E2 2012: The Panels

By Avril Brown

There were many aspects which made the third annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo this past weekend utterly amazing, and the variety of panels offered was simply one of them. Though I wish I could be in multiple places at once, like my beloved Jamie Maddrox (more on that in C2E2: The Column), I am merely human and could only attend a few choice panels. This is their story.

Modern Dragon Lore: A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey

For those of you who are unawares, Anne McCaffrey was a science fiction writer of great renown, penning the immensely successful and enduring ‘Dragonriders of Pern’ series starting back in the late sixties, and becoming the first female sci-fi author to win the coveted Hugo award and several Nebulla awards, in addition to topping the New York Times bestseller list. She passed away last year at the age of eighty-five after an almost fifty-year career.

This C2E2 panel featured several successful female sci-fi and fantasy writers in the business today, gathered together to discuss Ms. McCaffrey’s influence on their careers and writings, as well as dish about their own projects, past, present and future. Yasmine Galenorn, Sophie Jordan and the name that initially jumped out at me, Robin Hobb, sat with us fans for an hour chatting about one of their favorite subjects: Dragons.

Yasmine, author of the ‘Otherworld’ series, recalled thinking after first being exposed to McCaffrey’s writing talent: “If she can do it, I can do it.” Inspired by a woman becoming so successful in such a male-dominated area of literature, Yasmine let the characters she created come out to play, and she hasn’t stopped since. “I live in my world. Everyone’s in my head, all the time, having a party and sometimes they let me in. I write about them every day ‘cause if I don’t they get a little raucous.” Though her fiction is not necessarily dragon-centric, Yasmine said she appreciates the creature, its lore and how everyone who writes about them has their own mythology.

Sophie Jordan, author of the ‘Firelight’ series, said her career was launched because the editor who took a chance on reading her first book was an Anne McCaffrey fan. Sophie approaches dragon lore from a ‘what if’ standpoint with regards to their evolution, and her dragons, the Draci, have lost some attributes over the years, which makes her fire-breathing female protagonist, Jacinda, so special.

Robin Hobb, author of ‘The Farseer Trilogy’ among many other books, including her most recent ‘Rain Wild Chronicles,’ remembers the exact moment when she was reading an Anne McCaffrey book and it dawned on her: “This isn’t fantasy, this is science fiction.” Robin went on to admit how she enjoyed Anne’s way of telling the story and letting the reader figure things out on their own, following the trail of bread crumbs that lead to the realization that the ‘Dragonriders of Pern’ series are in fact science fiction books.

In her own fictional worlds, Robin has toyed with various dragon mythologies. Her most recent ‘Rain Wild Chronicles’ feature dragons who begin as sea serpents before migrating and growing into their final dragon form, however a volcanic eruption changed the migratory pattern, so they are evolving differently. “I’m bringing the dragons back,” Robin said with a smile, “and I’m going to have a lot of fun with it.” Amen, Ms. Hobb.

I became aware of her ‘Farseer Trilogy’ in college when my dear friend/roomie Erin introduced me to those fantastic books, and being this close to the creator of Fitz and Nighteyes on C2E2 weekend, which so happened to coincide with Erin’s destination wedding, I asked and was granted by the extremely pleasant Robin Hobb a brief video wishing my buddy E-dogg and her now-husband Shaun a hearty congratulations on their nuptials.

Sitting in front of these wildly successful, overwhelmingly creative and generally lovely women who braved the odds and disparaging comments to become popular, well-read and New York Times bestselling fantasy/science fiction authors, I was immersed with pride for the female gender, hope for future generations and a burning desire to acquire lots and lots of dragon books. Anne McCaffrey, I do hope you are looking upon what you helped create and smiling while coasting the clouds on your very own dragon.

Dynamite Panel

The entertaining and eclectic folks at Dynamite are always good for a wild n crazy panel, and this year was no exception. Showcasing a variety of their creative talent, Dynamite president Nick Barucci, along with well-known editor Joe Rybandt, moderated the panel the best they could under the circumstances, because when these guys get together they’re like toddlers hopped up on go-go juice.

Elliott Serrano, writer of ‘Army of Darkness,’ kicked off the introductions by stating he likes teddy bears, which naturally became the general intro theme with everyone feeling a need to express their personal opinions on teddy bears. Phil Hester, writer of ‘Bionic Man,’ concluded his introduction by confirming he IS a teddy bear. A question from the audience unleashed a fifteen minute long debate over what was the absolute worst comic book movie ever made. Personally I am utterly shocked that no one brought up X-Men 3 (I would have but I was busy trying to transcribe as many quotes as possible), and during the volley artist Johnny B painted a target on his back while simultaneously drawing a Shadow sketch during the panel by expressing his displeasure with the ‘Captain America’ movie. “Are we all in someone’s basement right now?” Joe asked during this derailment with only the slightest hint of incredulity, as we all know this kind of ‘basement’ chit-chat has happened before at a Dynamite panel.

Eventually they got back on track as there was work to be done, and the crazy crew offered a few nuggets of information as to upcoming storylines, crossovers and new titles. Are you loving the lady Ash in Elliott’s ‘Army of Darkness?’ Have no fear; the author already has an idea for a spin-off cooking, something he would love to call ‘Daughter of Darkness,’ and given the look on Nick’s face when Elliott pitched his idea fans will likely be seeing Ashley in her own book very soon. Looking forward to some crazy crossovers? As soon as ‘The Shadow’ gets in a good run (and with awesome-sauce writer Garth Ennis on the book the comic should sell like well-written hotcakes), he’ll likely bump into the Green Hornet before too much time has passed. Itching for a bit of random? “One word:” Phil Hester offered, “Bigfoot.” A cyborg solider with a heart of gold, facing off against the mythical monster of the woods? Welcome to comics!

Thanks to a current legal battle being waged with the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs president Nick had to be especially tight-lipped with regards to the future of their various ‘Warlord of Mars’ titles, but they did reveal a ‘Captain Action’ book is to be published forthwith, as is brand new Harry Dresden material not found in the ongoing novel series. Dynamite’s ‘Voltron’ is getting some good press as well, and their fresh young artist right out of the Joe Kubert School of comic art and graphic design earned a few groans when he mentioned how he ‘missed’ Voltron, the character he will be penciling. “I was born after he was born,” he confessed. The looks of his fellow Dynamiters was priceless, though he obviously endeared himself by admitting he was nervous and excited at the prospect of his first published book.

Even though licensing debates do not always work out, such as with the ‘Buck Rogers’ book which had to be pulled after their rights to the character were not renewed, both Joe and Nick confirmed they get more licensing rights than other comic companies because they put the right people on the books. Every person on that panel was obviously tickled pink to be a part of the Dynamite team, where creative juices are encouraged to flow, and the bosses support their people as often as they jibe with them. The reason Dynamite has such a diverse team of talent is they make it very easy for aspiring writers and artists to reach them via their website and their open, friendly attitude. That ‘Shadow’ sketch Johnny B was working on so intently throughout the panel? I won that original piece of artwork thanks to a last-minute contest posed to the audience, asking who could come up with the most random question about the Shadow. “Does he wear boxer, briefs, or does he go commando?” my pervy self inquired. I’d much rather have the art over the answer, though my money is on boxer-briefs regardless.

In a futile effort to sum up what it is like to sit in on a Dynamite panel at a Comic Convention, please enjoy the following conversation:

“I have a question for Elliott,” a reporter from comicbookjerkcom asked.
“I never touched your sister,” Elliott replied swiftly before the question could even form.
“Yeah, we know,” Joe put in without missing a beat.

Ah, Dynamite. See ya next Con!

Marvel Panel

“You’re only allowed to judge someone at a comic convention if you think Hop-Man is a superhero, or if you think Aquaman is cooler than Superman.” – some kid sitting behind me.

Now I have no idea who Hop-Man is, or if I even heard him correctly on that first part, but that is one hell of a way to kick off a comic book panel, and it’s kids like that who give me hope for the nerdy future. Not that I weigh in on the debate of Aquaman vs. Superman (Marvel whore over here), but the fact he stated his case with such enthusiasm and vigor makes my nerdy heart swell with happiness.

Marvel had plenty of announcements for its rabid fans, and all of them seemed pretty well-received. Carol Danvers aka Ms. Marvel will be expanding her horizons and becoming Captain Marvel. As Kelly Sue DeConnick said about her upcoming writing project, “We’re helping Carol find her way back to her swagger.” With an acknowledged, iconic Marvel female hero, the creative team knows the pressure is on to do right by Ms. Danvers.

Eisner nominee writer Cullen Bunn gushed about his upcoming ‘Captain America and Hawkeye’ book. “It’s everything I could possibly want to do in a team-up book.” Calling the title characters the “Tango and Cash of the Marvel U,” Cullen dished that the Cap and Hawk will find themselves in battle with creatures that haven’t seen much action lately. He wanted to create a tough scenario for these above average non-super-humans where “they persevere just by being total badasses.” Cullen will also be taking over the writing on ‘Wolverine,’ and offered this insight: “I thought about how much that character meant to me, so I decided to be as cruel and horrible to him as possible.” Expect especially dark territory and twisted situations for everyone’s favorite Canuck coming up in the near future. “So after you read Wolverine and feel terrible,” the moderator offered, “read Cap and Hawkeye and feel happy.”

Definitely the most exciting bit of Marvel news for this particular fan was the confirmation of a new ‘Gambit’ monthly title starting this August, written by James Asmos and illustrated by Clay Mann. As James put it: “This book focuses on the two most important aspects of Gambit: one that he’s sexy,” (crowd goes wild, myself included) “and two that he’s the most premier badass thief in the Marvel U.” He’ll be breaking away from the X-Men and pulling heists Indiana Jones and Mission Impossible style, entering a “dangerous territory of mixed morality,” according to James. And everyone with eyes should be excited that Clay Mann is on the book. “Clay draws a really handsome Gambit,” confirmed James. “I want everyone who loved Gambit in the cartoon to pick up this book, I want everyone who read X-Men in the 90’s and who secretly had a hard on for him in their heart to read this book…a heart on,” he amended for the younger crowd amid some snickers.

Once the floor opened up for questions, me being massively in love with Gambit and Rogue had to ask if this was going to be a Gambit solo-type series or if he is going to buddy up with anyone else, and whether or not our favorite skunk-haired Southern Belle would be making an appearance. James replied he’d like to build up his supporting character roster first, and then put Gambit in the worst possible position before bringing in his complicated relationship with Rogue. “I’d be an idiot not to bring in Rogue.” Although that sounds a bit scary to a tender-hearted Gambit/Rogue shipper such as myself, I’ll still take it.

The absence of Editor in Chief Axel Alonso due to “scheduling conflicts” stuck out like a sore thumb, as did the vacancy of writer Marjorie Liu (a personal favorite/heroine) but it did nothing to diminish the obvious excitement of the writers and artists on this panel who were clearly unafraid to show off their enthusiasm. “That cover right there,” Kelly said, pointing to a rather adorable Spider-Man print on screen, “I own it, and I cried, because I’m a dork, and I actually had to excuse myself for a moment ’cause I’m supposed to be a professional, and I was having a fan girl moment.” The moderator weighed in on Marvel’s most well-known wizard: “Doctor Strange is the biggest douchebag, but he’s so cool about it! He’s kinda my hero.” One of the reasons Dennis Hopeless is so excited to be on the Marvel team: “Well I get to write Jean Grey, which no one else gets to do.”

As fun as the Marvel panel was, my favorite part came a couple hours later when writer James Asmus found me in Artist Alley and took the opportunity for a ‘one-man poll,’ inquiring as to who exactly I’d like to see team up with Gambit. After my brain stopped short-circuiting and registered exactly who was asking me this question, I quickly siezed the opportunity to throw a few names on the table, like Storm, or perhaps a family member from the Thieves Guild. He thanked me for my opinion with a smile and left me in a quivering puddle of fan girl excitement.

So until the creative minds behind the books no longer care about their characters, make mine Marvel!



By Marc Mason

We all have a soft spot in our fandom. For me, it’s that TV guy. You know the one, right? He’s written and produced more geek-friendly television shows than you can shake a stick at. His baby, though, got canceled by the network after one short season. He’s written comics, too- some of the most memorable ones of the past ten years. In short, he’s an icon to nerds everywhere, not just me, and I am always waiting with great anticipation for what he’s going to do next.

You know who I’m talking about, right? No. Not Joss Whedon, ya dopes.

Javier Grillo-Marxauch is the man! From the moment I first encountered his comics work, as he took THE MIDDLEMAN to the sequential art realm, I was hooked. Here was a writer whose material really spoke to me. The characters were amazing, the dialogue was crisp and memorable, and the stories were an absolute gas. The entirety of the comics series, along with the magnificent – if sadly short – season of the television show, remains as some of my favorite entertainment. Period. Javi’s work just makes me happy.

His work has made you happy, too. Ignoring MIDDLEMAN, take a look at his other geek bonafides. CHARMED. THE CHRONICLE. JAKE 2.0. MEDIUM. SEAQUEST 2032. DEAD ZONE. THE PRETENDER. DARK SKIES. Oh, and that legendary little thing called LOST. That covers only about half of his career. Plus, I’m given to understand that he’s quite an excellent D&D player.

On the comics side of things, he’s also tackled stuff like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA for Dynamite and the SUPER-SKRULL for Marvel. The guy is everywhere. Smart, talented, and versatile. Come to think of it, it’s kinda sickening…

Anyway, one of the things that really sets him apart from other Hollywood folk who have transitioned into also doing comics (Whedon, Smith, Guggenheim, Heinberg, etc.) is that he has really put his focus onto doing creator-owned work. THE MIDDLEMAN was all Javi. To me, that’s beyond outstanding. He’s putting his neck on the line and trying to do something truly different. I have a massive amount of respect for that.

I’m talking about this now because Javi has a new series in stores. I got my first glimpse of it last July at SDCC, and was immediately hooked. The book is called RAMIEL: WRATH OF GOD (Ape Entertainment) and it tells the story of an angel who willingly falls from Heaven in order to protect innocent mortals whom he feels are being abandoned in God’s plan. Sounds like heady stuff, right? And it is. Javi’s work has never been absent of thoughtfulness or philosophical ideas, but now he’s bringing that aspect of his writing a little closer to the forefront. But that doesn’t mean the book is boring; there are bloody sword battles, gunplay, bodies being set on fire, impalements… the book has quite an action quotient. He, along with artist Steve Gendron, doesn’t leave you time to be bored. The pacing is quite brisk.

If you buy this looking for a thematic companion to THE MIDDLEMAN, I have to warn you that you’ll be disappointed. The only thing the two books have in common is a protagonist who wants to do right by the world, and the writer. But if you’re looking for a book where the creator tries to entertain, make you think, and engage you on multiple levels, then RAMIEL is a book you’ll enjoy and appreciate. And really, it is the kind of book you should be looking for and supporting. It isn’t the same old crap that the big two have been putting out over and over and over for the last decade. It’s a great writer telling a terrific story that he owns. Check it out.


CHEW #25
Written by John Layman and Illustrated by Rob Guillory
Published by Image Comics

Reviewed by Avril Brown

After multiple beatings, bisectings, briberies and booty calls, CHEW’s latest story arc entitled ‘Major League Chew’ has come to a hilarious and endless-possibility-inducing conclusion.

Though it has been five entertaining months for readers, in CHEW time only a few days have passed, but that is long enough for Tony Chu’s girlfriend to go on the hunt for her MIA boyfriend. Amelia Mintz, saboscrivner extraordinaire (as in someone who can describe food so accurately the reader actually tastes the sustenance being specified), proves she is more than a pretty-faced food reporter and follows her investigative nose to find her man. Utilizing her skills and her big girly kahunas, Amelia swoops in to save the day, with some vital, last minute help from the barely conscious Chu. Beaten bloody and barely able to stand, Tony Chu is still a total badass and consummate gentleman.

The opening and closing pages center around Agent Colby, who we saw last issue was up to his old tricks in terms of buttering up a bad-tempered boss, and just like last time he played this card he may have gotten his superior a little too lubed up. However, a new partner is what Colby asked for, a new partner is what he got, and the readers will reap the benefit of this new priceless pairing. The double-page spread in this issue alone makes it worth rushing out to the nearest comic shop to secure your copy as it is chock full of interesting eccentrics, including an appearance by comedic duos Jay and Silent Bob, and everybody’s favorite hecklers, Statler and Waldorf.

Layman has yet to lose steam when it comes to his people, cyborgs, animals and edibles, keeping every issue jam-packed with action, character development, witty background nuggets and usually at least one jaw-dropping shocker. Guillory never fails to deliver his unique style while also making famous people parodies instantly recognizable. Even the letterer went all out this issue, particularly with conveying the FDA and the USDA director’s passionate paragraphs. This is one creative team that knows how to keeps its readers rabid for more.