ROGUE ELEMENT 120

Rogue Element #120: The Nerdgasm (or How Marvel Learned to Break the Internet)

By Avril Brown

Unless you are a member of the alleged uncontacted Amazon tribes, you have likely at least heard of the recent release of the ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ trailer, if not seen said trailer multiple times. Leaked almost one full week before it was scheduled to be aired during an episode of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,’ the preview for Marvel’s latest installment in their massive movie franchise almost blew up the internet, and therefore the world.

Let us put this in a bit more ‘old school’ perspective. Remember when the only time you got to see a preview for an upcoming movie was by watching a movie in the theaters? I used to be so uptight about getting to the theaters on time in order to see every single precious preview. Screw the popcorn man, all I wanted was a taste of what was to come. Now a trailer for a movie slated for release seven months from now has billions of people in the throes of a nerdgasm so tantalizing the aftershocks aren’t wearing off for a week.

Holy jeebus Marvel, where’d you learn moves like that?

The trailer provided plenty of footage for nerds and newbies alike to salivate over, as well as several nuggets to kick off rounds of discussion and speculation. There were scenes of camaraderie and infighting, shit got blown up real good, unfamiliar faces were introduced and most dramatically of all, the villain made his debut complete with ominous monologuing and creepy kids music overlaying the destruction. Not to mention: James. Freaking. Spader. The movie hasn’t even come out yet and he’s already made his mark as one of the most memorable voiceover villains in cinematic history. Darth Vader IS James Earl Jones. HAL 2000 IS Douglas Rain. And Ultron IS James Freaking Spader.

Who is the mysterious woman standing amongst the Avengers and former S.H.I.E.L.D personnel in the Avengers tower when Ultron comes hobbling out? Is that man with the Bible beard a character from Black Panther, and if so, does that mean King T’Challa will be getting his own movie? What happened to turn Quicksilver’s hair from brown to blonde, and why are he and Scarlet Witch standing with Ultron? Why is the Hulk battling Iron Man in HULKBUSTER armor? How did Cap’s shield get broken? What happened to Thor to get him shirtless and soaking wet, and what can we do to make it happen again?

There is so much win all over this two minutes and fifteen seconds, I can’t even. Marvel even handled the leak like champ, simply posting one singular sentence on Twitter: “Dammit, Hydra.” ABC had to be pissed as hell considering it was their network that was to host the debut of the trailer next Tuesday, but no one can deny that response is funny as hell. Plus, recent reports state there will be even MORE footage aired during next episode of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ on October 28th so it looks like ABC will still see a spectacular spike in their viewership. (Talk about a win-win; viewers will not be disappointed. ‘Agents’ has really hit its stride and has been putting out consistently excellent episodes all season)

Fact is, Marvel has got it, and they are flaunting it. They have realized this resplendent golden egg they have laid needs particular, and pricey, care, and they are sparing no expensive. They let Joss Whedon do his thing the first time around and it worked, so Marvel did what they needed to do to get him and the rest of the crew back on board. The creative teams, both in front of and behind the camera, the special effects, the marketing; they are all centered around a (hopefully) great story, and with their powers combined, Marvel will continue taking the world by storm.

IN REAL LIFE – AURORA WEST

IN REAL LIFE/AURORA WEST

Story by Cory Doctorow and Adapted and Drawn by Jen Wang

Written by Paul Pope and J.T. Petty and Drawn by David Rubin

Published by First Second

Reviewed by Marc Mason

To absolutely no surprise, First Second continues to turn out one brilliant graphic novel after another. Sorta repetitive, really…

in real life

The fine writer/artist Jen Wang has adapted Cory Doctorow’s short story “Anda’s Game” in IN REAL LIFE, an unbelievably timely graphic novel about a young girl gamer coming of age in an MMO environment. Anda, a charming young woman, finds herself flourishing inside a game where she learns teamwork, friendship, and responsibility while going on raids with her guild. But when she starts making real-life cash by taking out “gold farmers” (players who do dirty work in the game and then sell the spoils of said work for big money) she winds up meeting on who changes her perspective not just on her own behavior but on a culture far across the world. This also sees her interfere in a well-meaning, but kinda damaging way, and she must deal with the fallout from her actions.

Gaming and issues of sexism has been so prevalent as of late that it has made the pages of major newspapers and magazines, which gives IRL even more of a cachet than likely originally intended. Anda herself is a fantastic character; smart, moral, hungry to learn about herself and the world, and she is an excellent representation for so many out there who are just like her… in real life. The stakes in the story turn out to be surprisingly high, yet they are also incredibly personal and human. Wang gets everything right as both storyteller and artist, and the essay Doctorow provides to introduce the book is interesting and informative. I seriously loved this book – and I think you will as well.

aurora west cover

On the heels of last year’s BATTLING BOY, Paul Pope has allowed for the expansion of that “universe” with this first of two prequel volumes focusing on that book’s other protagonist. THE RISE OF AURORA WEST takes us back to a time before the young heroine’s father died and passed on the mantle of city protector to her. Here we see her as she is undergoing the early moments of her training, and as she investigates one monster-related crime, she discovers a clue at the scene that makes her question how she lost her mother many years prior. Perhaps what caused her mother’s death was a little more… personal… that anyone ever realized.

Pope works with writer J.T. Petty here to deliver a fast-paced, entertaining story, and artist David Rubin delivers work that stylistically matches well with Pope’s own. In other words, if you’re worried about Pope not executing all of it himself – don’t. You won’t even notice. The characters are fun, the action is lovely, and Aurora is a terrific character. She’s brave, inquisitive, and doesn’t take the idea of responsibility lightly. This is volume one of two, but it ends on a solidly resolute note so you don’t feel short-changed. Recommended.


COPPERHEAD – ODDLY NORMAL

COPPERHEAD/ODDLY NORMAL

Written by Jay Faerber and Drawn by Scott Godlewski

Written and Drawn by Otis Frampton

Published by Image Comics

Reviewed by Marc Mason

Two new ones that I have unusually deep feelings about…

Copperhead 1 Cover

If you were to ask me who the most underrated comic creators are, I’d give you two answers: Phil Hester, because he is the perfect utility guy, filling in everywhere on the field. And Jay Faerber, because as a writer he’s as good as anybody working, he’s proven it for a looooooong time now, and he’s never achieved the “fan-favorite” status that he deserves. NOBLE CAUSES was a superhero soap that echoed Claremont in his prime. NEAR DEATH is a perfect blend of action and character. POINT OF IMPACT is exquisitely executed mystery noir. DYNAMO 5 was superheroes done at an unusually thoughtful level.

COPPERHEAD is, simply put, a space western. And daaaaaaaaaaaamn is it good.

We open with a young mother and her son on a train journey to parts remote. When they arrive, it is with a lovely surprise for the reader: a rather large alien is holding a sign denoting her as Sheriff Bronson. We’re on someplace other than Earth, in a town on the frontier, and like anywhere else in the universe, bad shit tends to go down and requires the law. There is resentment to her presence by that alien, who happens to be her deputy and who wanted the job, and there are local politics to be navigated. Plus, there’s the whole thing where she needs to find time to be a good parent.

It is all tied together and presented nearly flawlessly.

The art, by local AZ guy Godlewski, is terrific. The pacing is brisk. The dialogue is delicious. The entire time I read issues 1 and 2, I had a smile on my face. This is the kind of book that continues to make me love comics. Jay Faerber, folks – he continues to knock it out of the park. Buy it.

OddlyNormal-Pitch-Cover

Sitting on my many shelves of graphic novels are all of the previously published ODDLY NORMAL graphic novels back when the book was published by Viper Comics, including the one that never got released because it printed too darkly. To say that I loved Otis Frampton’s entertaining story about a young girl born of two worlds would be an understatement. Oddly is the child of a woman born in a world of magic and a human father. Sadly, this means she doesn’t quite fit well in either world.

This is a square-one reboot from Frampton, but the basics are all still here. The changes are more in Frampton than in his concept. His art is cleaner and more confident. His scripting of the dialogue is tighter. The pacing works better. In short, there was good reason to start over, because of just how much the creator has grown.

ODDLY is one of those wonderfully rare comics than can truly be enjoyed by readers of all ages. It’s great for young readers, but Frampton makes her story universal enough that older readers can empathize with her. Highly recommended, and welcome back, Otis!



CHEW 43

CHEW #43

Written by John Layman and Illustrated by Rob Guillory

Published by Image Comics

Reviewed by Avril Brown

This latest action-packed issue is all about Olive, who has been evolving steadily into a supreme badass. First off, readers are treated to a montage of scenes showing how Olive’s been using her abilities to get ahead in school and sports, which in turn keeps her Tony-hating Aunt Rosemary off her back so she can continue her other education in secret. A secret that has every red flag of not staying in the shadows for much longer, especially now that John Colby and his boss/husband Mike Applebee, are in on it.

Chew_43-1

Savoy, and Olive herself, are determined to prove Olive is ready for some intensely dangerous field work, so she accompanies Colby on a mission to interrogate one of the Collector’s top lieutenants. Not only is this fiery teenager still sporting some major ‘tude and ain’t afraid to show it, especially in Colby’s face, but this particular ‘tude was in defense of her father, rather than against him, showing a heartwarming, and likely heartbreaking, development in their relationship. For as much supreme badassery Olive threw down in this issue (taking out an entire bakery filled with Russian assassins), the very last page is a glimpse into the upcoming showdown with the Collector, and things do not look good for Olive Chu.

While the final page was a jaw-dropping punch to the gut, the more subtle Easter eggs in this issue are definitely worth exploring. There were quite a few, and while I always feel like I’m missing at least a couple inside jokes, a majority are easily understandable and quite hilarious (highlights include Olive living across from The Huxtables at 1516 Puddin’ Pop Lane, and the Portal shout out on the bakery wall in the form of a sign that says, ‘Fat free cake! This is a lie.’) Readers may have to cling onto these brief happy moments before next issue, where shit looks to be getting dark. Again.