Saturday, October 22, 2011

Mid Ohio Comic Con

The babies and I jumped in the whip and headed out to Columbus, Ohio. Big up to Fearless Readers for the love and my folks from Vantage Inhouse Productions. We had a blast, enjoy the pics!

The Babies with a Red and Green Lantern.

we found a really dope Cad Bane

Someone came as Truth! I was geeked. He had a Double V shield.

This set was so dope with the Storm Trooper.

Here is the first cosplay we saw at the comic con! he was the Miles Morales Spiderman.

Only true heads need apply!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Static Shock

Written by Scott McDaniel & John Rozum
Pencilled by Jonathan Glapion and Le Beau Underwood

To be honest, I didn't think Static Shock would make the cut for DC's 52 line. It actually came out the first week and somehow I missed it. I don't think it sold well since I still see copies at the comic shops I frequent. I have to give DC props for this. They have several heroes of color in their line up. With Static Shock, they have injected two Milestone characters into the mix: Hardware and Static Shock.
I think that's real slick right there. I enjoyed Hardware during the Milestone days. I didn't see that coming as well.

Virgil Hawkins and his family move to NYC. While there, Hawkins works at S.T.A.R. Labs under the tutelage of Hardware. He is given access to new costumes, technology, and surveillance equipment to continue his fight against crime.

While the artwork is great, I found the story to be muddled. The reader is introduced to too many characters. In the first issue to much is just crammed in. While it is not poorly written, I find that more could have been done with less.

I look forward to seeing more Static Shock and seeing what DC does with it. I hope we see crossovers with other DC superheroes. Other than that, it's the usual Static Shock that his fans are used to. If that's what you want, then I think you should pick up this issue.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Blue Beetle #1

written by Tony Bedard
Pencils by Ig Guara

I never really knew anything about the Blue Beetle until I watched the "Batman: The Brave and Bold" series on Cartoon Network. Jaime Reyes is the teenager who inadvertently discovers the scarab costume/weapon and stumbles his way into the superhero community. I decided it would be a great idea to pick up the revamp.

The readers are introduced to the Reach, an intergalactic parasitic race that conquers worlds through the scarab proxies. One of the scarabs that is heading towards Earth is attacked by a Green Lantern but finds it's way to earth anyway where it crash lands somewhere in Mexico. Several hundred years later it is picked up by one criminal organization and intercepted by another organization headed by La Dama Amparo Cardenas. In this conflict between several super villains, Reyes encounters a scarab and becomes the Blue Beetle.

I think it was a great idea to introduce all of the villains in the 1st issue before Reyes becomes a hero. Bedard looks ready to set up the next set of issues this way. I know that DC will probably run into problems with the revamping of 52 titles when it comes to a smooth progression of a story but Bedard doesn't seem to have that problem here.

Guara's pencils are pretty good. Like most DC artists who draw and color the titles that don't sell as much, I am wholly unfamiliar with their work. I enjoyed Guara's facial expressions. Not too many comic book artists focus on facial expressions. This doesn't make Guara better than anyone but it sets him apart.

While what Bedard does isn't groundbreaking, I look forward to reading the next few issues of Blue Beetle. It would be good to see how Reyes deals with the scarab and the mess he has gotten himself into.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ultimate Comics All New Spider Man #1

written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Sara Pichelli
Colors by Justin Ponsor

A great number of us held our breaths for this one. We saw the comments and the talking heads. There was a large amount of backlash and bigoted comments thrown around. Just last week, I went to a comic convention where someone said that Glenn Beck's statements were not that bad. It was crazy. To be honest, I don't think Marvel Comics or Brian Michael Bendis intended to have this backlash. I also don't think it was a marketing scheme. I think Bendis thought it was a good idea. I give him props for sticking his neck out.

To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. In Ultimate Fallout #4, we are introduced to Miles Morales but it was just a glimpse. Like many of my peers, I wanted more. In Issue #1, we are introduced to the Morales clan. Miles is raised by his mother and father. Despite his father's warnings, Miles hangs out with his Uncle Aaron who is some sort of high tech cat burglar.

Bendis rips a scene out of the documentary "The Lottery." It's a story about a lottery for a charter school in Harlem that was released before "Waiting for Superman." We see the tension between Miles' parents in that one scene. I love the fact that it takes place in Brooklyn.

I am not familiar with Sara Pichelli's work but I am impressed. Pichelli captures Norman Osborn's instability beautifully. The reader will be able to witness Dr. Markus' fear when Osborn threatens him. She captures the emotions of the parents and children during the charter school lottery. Pichelli gets the clothes right as well. It looks hip without being too campy. I hope Marvel keeps Pichelli on board for at least 20 issues.

While there isn't much action, I think it's a great introduction to the world of Miles Morales. If I know Bendis, his build up is just as good as his action. Bendis knows how to write about relationships and the day to day grind without sounding corny. I think everyone should give this book a try. And yes, the babies will enjoy this as well especially when they see the powers Miles manifests. Bendis, is this a shout out to Ralph Ellison?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Batwing #1

Written by Judd Winick
Pencils by Ben Oliver
Colors by Brian Reber

Omi's Note: I don't recommend this comic for children under a particular age. There is a hefty amount of gore and blood. Parents you know your children better than we do. We felt that you should know this before purchasing this book.

Outside of it's Vertigo imprint, I am not really a fan of DC. I am a Marvel and Image guy. To be honest, the last good thing DC put out was the 52 story line. If you have been living under a rock, you know that DC is relaunching several of it's flagship titles as well as reintroducing some lesser known characters in their own titles during the month of September. Some titles such as Animal Man are hits while others like the Justice League are flops. With 52 new titles being introduced in September, DC can't go wrong. Animal Man #1 is already going into reprint as we speak. Another runaway hit is Batwing.

David Zavimbe or Batwing, was created by Grant Morrison sometime in 2010. Bruce Wayne upon returning from his time/interdimensional "death," decides to take Batman into a world wide crime fighting franchise. Zavimbe is Wayne's African incarnation as Batman. The premise sounds shaky. While there might be a little hit and miss with some of Batman incarnations.

The first issue works. While it is difficult to pull off an introduction behind a story arc, Judd Winick does it well. I dug the fact that he reintroduced several African superheroes that will make up part of this story arc. While Zavimbe is an understudy to Bruce Wayne its not a sidekick thing. Zavimbe has skills of his own and is also a police officer. Zavimbe also understands that he has to work both sides to help end the corruption found in the Tinasha, Congo government.

The artwork between Ben Oliver and Brian Reber is sleek and futuristic. You can feel the emotion and the fear between the characters. The paneling allows the story to flow easily. The splash pages are to die for. I really hope that DC keeps these two together for at least 7 to 8 issues. I hear rumors that some of the artists will be changing in the 3rd or 4th issue. Bottom line, Batwing looks like it's the hit that everyone is claiming.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Alchemist

by Paolo Bacigalupi

Novellas are like jello shots. Some are great and some aren't. Most people say you get what you pay for and it makes sense but it doesn't always have to be true. I enjoy novellas because they leave you wanting more. It can prove how good a writer is by what he or she leaves out. It also forces to writer to flesh out a story without having to do a novel but giving the reader enough to get the story. For a novella based in a fantasy world, it is difficult for the writer to do this with ease unless it's a world the readers are familiar with.

Paolo Bacigalupi does a wonderful job in his novella "The Alchemist." In the city of Khaim, all sorcery is forbidden and punishable by death. At one time, magicians were a dime of dozen until the scourge of the bramble, a dangerous plant like weed that continues to spread into the cities with each use of magic. The only way to slow down it's growth is to prevent magic from being used.

Jeoz, our protagonist, is an alchemist. Jeoz invents a machine through alchemy that destroys large swaths of bramble in an instant. His invention borders on sorcery since he uses a particular ingredient used by magicians. When Jeoz approaches the mayor of Khaim and his chief sorcerer, Jeoz is caught up in Mayor's scheme for power. Jeoz is imprisoned along with his daughter whose sickness can only be hampered by sorcery.

The story is more about the love between a father (Jeoz) and his daughter (Jiala). It's a timeless tale that resonates even in the terrific fantasy world Bacigapuli introduces us to. Bacigalupi sets up the reader with enough of a back story to flesh out the universe of Khaim but not drowning out the story in details. It's no lie that Bacigalupi has several awards under his belt as a new comer. I am sold on Bacigalupi and plan on checking out his other work. "The Alchemist" left enough to leave this reader wanting more.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Ultimate Spider Man: Miles Morales

The news hit the interwebs hard on 08/02/2011. I got the word straight from Brian Michael Bendis himself on twitter that morning. A picture was released later in the afternoon. I have to give it up to Marvel Comics for using the interwebs to build up hype for it. I called my usual comic book haunt and requested 2 but was advised that I could only get one when I arrived.

Why is it important?

In Tony Browder's "Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization," there is a picture of a little black boy looking into the bathroom mirror. He is wearing a towel with a cap. In the reflection is a broad shouldered white man as a superhero. That picture says it all when it comes to people of color and comic books in America. We have a love/hate relationship with comic books. It reminds me of the same relationship women of color have with hip hop culture. There are so many things to love about comic books: the stories, the artwork, the team ups, the characters, etc. However, most of it not all of the stories aren't about us. If we are shown, it is in a demeaning manner.

It is important to note, and this is something that many historians, culture critics, artists, and sociologists have pointed out, that comic books are America's mythology. Unlike places in Europe, Africa, or Asia, we don't have legends that are part of our cultural landscape. Christianity insured that we were not isolators in the literal sense. Sure we have stories of Paul Bunyan but they are not valiant stories of fighting monsters. The settlers all but destroyed much of the Native culture and to be honest, none of their mythology is taught in schools. African Americans have John De High Conqueror but his story has been watered down or quickly eroded from the landscape as well.

If you listen to any politician, artists, or person of influence, he or she makes several references to comic book heroes whether he or she talks about Spider Man, Superman, Batman (remember Morgan Freeman in "Lean on Me?"), or many others. Even J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI published comic strip and a comic book series called "G Men," to help propagandize the FBI's influence. Even people of influence understood that importance. Heck, librarians have been telling us for decades that comic books are literature.

Many of us grew to enjoy reading through comic books. While to many, comic books may seem juvenile but many of us were able to get into philosophy, literature, and science because so much of it was used in comic books. For us to understand those concepts, we had to learn a least a little bit of those things.

So wouldn't it be important for the people who read and spend good money on those comics see people who look like them in those pages? Shouldn't a nation's mythology be made of up of people who make up said nation? Ask any psychologist about the damage people of color have when worshiping a white Jesus. Deep, right?

Did I like the intro to Miles Morales?

To be honest, the only thing I expected was a full length story. I forgot that issue 4 of the Ultimate Fallout was really about how people reacted to Peter Parker's death. The reader will get about 9 pages of the new Ultimate Spider Man in action. On the last panel, he takes off his mask. It could have been better but to be honest, I don't know how Bendis could have introduced Miles Morales to us without a back story.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cuba My Revolution

written by Inverna Lockpez
penciled by Dean Haspiel

I really appreciate the fact that more writers and artists are turning to the graphic novel genre to tell their story. It's just another great medium to express one' self. While novels can paint pictures in the reader's mind, a graphic novel allows the reader another window into a writer's world. I have read graphic novels of certain classics and enjoy watching an artists rendition of the characters and scenes.

I expected “Cuba, My Revolution” to be a pro Fidel graphic novel. I am used to pro Fidel tracts especially when it comes to the comic book/arts community. I was wrong. I love when that happens. Getting thrown for a loop makes the ride much more interesting. It also teaches me a lesson: not everyone is in love with Fidel Castro.

Inverna Lockpez' story is compelling. The protagonist is 17 years old and like many Cubans in 1959, she is behind Fidel Castro. Once Castro drives thru Havana, Lockpez signs up for the militia as a nurse. Like most of her peers, she is caught up in the revolution despite seeing questionable acts being committed by the close followers of Castro.

During the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Lockpez is sent to the front lines and encounters a long lost love who is part of the invasion. Her final exchange with this gentleman is witnessed by comrades. Lockpez is accused of colluding with the enemy and is sent to prison where she is tortured. Although she is tortured severely and only freed through bribes, Lockpez maintains her allegiance to the new regime.
As many of her friends begin to leave the island for Florida, Lockpez continues to dedicate her life to the revolution. She keeps her torture and imprisonment a secret and deludes herself into thinking that everything will eventually work out.

Dean Haspiel's pencils and inks along with Jose Villarrubia's colors seem to match the period of the early 1960's Cuba. Villarrubia splashes red on certain figures and articles throughout the story giving it a more “red” revolutionary feel. The panels are nicely done as they fade into one another depending on the mood of each scene. It works well especially with a non super hero graphic novel.

This is a great graphic novel to use in middle schools. Its definitely a historical piece when discussing cold war and the Bay of Pigs fiasco. The discussion of Santeria is also an interesting point of how religion can be used to legitimize certain forms of oppression. While the torture and the battle scenes might be too graphic, it is something that should be discussed especially with two wars going on.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Why I dig Vertigo's DMZ

As any of my children will tell you, I am not a big fan of DC comics. With that being said, I am a huge fan of their Vertigo imprint. Vertigo has bought us such phenomenal stories such as Y: The Last Man, Preacher, and Scalped. One of my favorite comic books out now is Brian Wood's DMZ.

The story centers around freelance journalist Matty Roth who sneaks into a besieged Manhattan during the second Civil War. Manhattan has become a demilitarized zone of sorts. The Army of the Free States are camped out in New Jersey while the federal government is setting up shop in Staten Island and Brooklyn. Roth encounters the diverse community of New York City.

What I love the most about Wood is that he uses many urban myths about NYC and makes stories out of them. There are stories of graf artists, local politicians, clubs, and restaurants that Wood fleshes out into stories of war, redemption, and oppression. Wood also uses stories from headlines but instead of depending on sensationalism, he focuses on the stories of the people most affected by the war.

DMZ is much different than your average dystopian story. NYC is not completely wiped off the map. It's not like Escape from New York. Wood's NYC is still a vibrant community despite the siege. People still have hip hop shows, art galleries, restaurants, and frequent landmarks. Like people in any war zone whether it's Baghdad or Mogadishu, continue to strive. There are no gun toting, ex mercs turned heroes who can kill you with a toothpick within these pages. It's real people. Sometimes Roth wins the day and sometimes he loses. When he loses, he loses big.

I enjoy DMZ because it demonstrates how quickly one group on one side of society “other's” another group. While on one hand, the media portrays citizens of NYC in DMZ as monsters who don't care (sounds real familiar when we discuss Iraq and Afghanistan) Roth goes out of his way to introduce the reader to the average head. Wood's NYC is rich but not in a “noble savage” kind of way.

Take Parco Delgado, a former gang warlord turned politician. He runs on a populist platform and refuses to bow down to the feds, corporations, or the Free States of America (FSA) – and yes that sounds familiar. Roth takes a liking to him and signs on to his campaign knowing that doing so would violate his journalistic integrity. Roth encounters people who see Delgado as the future. They see him as a hero. Roth has no choice but to get caught up in this. The reader does as well. You can't help but feel for the people of NYC and yes, you sign on as well. Yet Delgado convinces Roth to help procure a nuclear bomb. Strategically it makes sense. Conventionally, Delgado can't win against the FSA, the feds, or the corporations so the nuke gives him leverage. Roth, not the most politically savvy of them all, realizes that he has made a huge mistake. The reader feels duped.

That's what I love about DMZ. You can't help but get caught up in the madness with Roth. I know eventually the series will end. It makes sense to do that. I am sure Wood has more up his sleeve before he ends it. Can it become a cable series? I think so. It is devoid of action in the comic book but the political intrigue is killer. HBO can do so much with it. Who knows, they might pick it up.

Monday, May 23, 2011

God's War

Written by Kameron Hurley
review by Dan Tres OMi

When I first stumbled upon Kameron Hurley's “God's War,” I ignored it several times. I automatically assumed it was just another version of Christian fantasy/fiction that seems to sneak up on me with sleek covers. After seeing it more than once, I read the synopsis and dug it immediately. Hurley's takes the reader on a ride he or she never wants to get off of.

Hurley takes us to the world of Umayma which is inhabited by several warring factions of the “People of the Book.” Currently, Umayma finds Nasheen and Chenja caught in a 300 year old conflict. The war has bled so many males that Nasheen is run by women. Any boy who is eligible to fight and refuses or deserts, are hunted down by the bel dames. Nyxnissa or Nyx is one of those bel dames. Nyx, like many of her peers, chooses to live freely breaking every rule possible. Eventually, she loses her position as a bel dame and becomes a lowly bounty hunter.

Somehow Nyx makes it with a rag tag group of misfits. Her most notable partner is Rhys, a Chenja who escaped the draft by crossing the border into Nasheen and becoming a magician or someone who is able to manipulate insects to do one's bidding from killing to healing to communications. Nyx and her crew are about to hit rock bottom until they get a job that would set them up for life. The job comes directly from the Queen of Nasheen herself. Nyx knows immediately that she is bitten off more than she can chew but who cares, Nyx has been in worst places before.

I immediately fell in love with Nyx. Even with her back against the wall, she pushes on. Some might say she's dark but just doesn't care as long as she has some whiskey and a semi decent plan. Usually, Nyx comes out on top. And if she doesn't, what else can be done to her? It's that recklessness that makes Nyx a very attractive protagonist.

This is how Hurley approaches her universe. As the story progresses, the reader learns more about the conflict between Nasheen and Chenja as well as the origin of the planet. It is quite hopeless and the reader will wonder how people can do this sort of thing. Unfortunately, this is how things look in Somalia or Afghanistan. Yet people there push on. One can help but to admire stories such as this and respect these folks for their resilience.

Hurley does a great job at character development. Even the minor characters are given life. The story is rich and full of subplots. You really can't tell who is on Nyx's side until the very end. Deals upon deals are made. Early, the political intrigue is vague but Hurley pulls it off in the end. I enjoyed how Hurley introduces the technology on Umayma. While it is set in the future, Hurley is able to describe a planet that is pretty much a backwater. Nyx and her crew pretty much wing it when it comes to technology. Although Rhys is vital to her crew, he is a half way decent magician who is extremely unreliable. The fighting is realistic. There is not one person fighting off 100 people in any of the scenes.

If you are looking for a new writer who is pushing the envelope, Hurley is just that person. If you are looking for a sci fi book that kicks butt, then “God's War” is what you are looking for. Unfortunately for me, the book ended, so I had to get off the ride but I eagerly await the next installment.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Green Lantern Promo Party Part II: Don't be Tardy for the Party

First, I have to thank Mocha Dad for hooking me up. Without him, this shindig would not have been possible. Also, my wife gets mad love for hooking up the Green Lantern jello. It was choice! Finally, I have to thank Capoeira Dayton for coming out in full force to support a brother.

It was a blast. Everyone chipped in to help clean up. The children loved it. Although some lost their rings (which I found and shall return to the rightful owners), no one went home with empty hands. Below are the pics. Enjoy.

My wife and I racked our brains trying to figure out how to put the Green Lantern symbol in the jello. Well this is what we came up with:

Here, I was making the masks by hand. I probably saved about $15.00 doing it this way. It took me about an hour and a half to cut them out and put the transparent string on them.

We decided to have a ring ceremony where we commission new Green Lantern recruits. The children dug it. There was alot of grumbling since we have out titles to particular children (head trainer, sector officer in charge, internal investigator, etc.). Only one parent came late so it worked out.

Despite the fact that I was clear about how to light up the rings, some of them still didn't get it. Thankfully, some of the children were paying attention.

How come my boys are the only ones to put their masks on? the rest didn't even feel like putting them on? Oh well, here are the Green Lanterns of sector 2814...!

The youngest Lantern ever! (and the last one to leave!)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Green Lantern Promo Party Part I: The Drama

So my blog brother from another mother hooked this blog brother up with a connect for some Green Lantern swag. I decided to have the party on May 7th in the late afternoon. I didn't want to throw our usual children's bash where we have enough children to fill a studio audience for Oprah. So we had to narrow things down. I chose some of the children of some of my students and I sat down with the babies and asked them to pick a few friends to invite. Then we narrowed that pool down. After much deliberation, we made a few more cuts. I got this cool Green Lantern invites and made sure I put on there to RSVP and not to bring any presents. I am sure some parents were like, “the Omi's got another baby?” No, we are not trying get extra presents. As a matter of fact, we are giving some away. Presents, that is.

My children were hella excited. I can't blame them. I am an adult and I still love going to parties. I am sure this one was special since they didn't have to wait around for their birthdays. Plus, they get free stuff. They wanted to pass out the invitations. At first, I didn't want them to do this. I thought it was a bad idea. I felt that if I went to each child on my own or encountered their parents, I could emphasize the need to RSVP (and yes many of you all refuse to do that in the 21st century when just an email will suffice). I preferred to give it to their parents because sometimes children lose things.

Of course, two of the children lost their invitations. My middle son actually hand wrote another invitation which I am sure looked suspect to the parents when they received it. Another child failed to give it to his mother. Only five days away from the party and I only received two RSVPs and one cancellation. This part is actually understandable. Some folks were just not raised to RSVP. Only a handful of us were taught to RSVP even if the invitation doesn't ask you to. Yet I digress...

The problem came when other children didn't get an invitation from my children. My middle son, who we call the accountant, has no qualms telling someone off. He is very sophisticated and can calmly tell someone to step off. He told several of his classmates that their behavior is abysmal and should not expect anyone to invite them to their party. He also pointed out that its a party organized by his dear old dad so the issue needed to be taken up with me. My daughter on the other hand is not as sharp. So the girls in her class gave her a hard time.

The next problem came when some of the students began to solicit me and the wife. Of course, I am quick to say “hey look, it's a numbers game and you didn't make the cut, get over it, homie!” The wife wants to come home and bring it up in the middle of the night when the brother is trying to get some sleep.

“You should have seen his eyes,” she pleaded, “you should invite him. You know he needs his daddy time.”

I rolled over in my bed.

“You're not being fair, you are throwing this party for the children...” she went on.

At school, a gang of children asked me why I didn't give them an invitation. A few promised to get all A's if I would only give them an invite. I gave them all negative responses. There was no negotiating this one as I have done on so many occasions. My children continue to tell me about fellow students who pleaded their cases.

Unfortunately, I am not budging....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cold Space Issue One

Written by Samuel L. Jackson & Eric Calderon
Art by Jeremy Rock

Yes, the writing credits reads Samuel L. Jackson. The Sam Jack of the silver screen Nick Fury fame. When I first came across the comic I thought to myself “Wow, homie looks like Sam Jack.” Then I noticed his name on the cover. I asked around and none of the comic book dealers I interact with knew anything about it. I learned that my comic book heads didn't know about it either. How did I miss it?

Usually, if something is good, you will know about it especially in the age of the internet. While Cold Space doesn't exactly stand out amongst the several indie prints out now, it's not that bad. I expected Mulberry, the protagonist, to come out blasting and calling people all kinds of mother grubbers. I expected humor as we seen in Pulp Fiction. Instead, we get a brooding gun runner who can really negotiate his way out of trouble. And that's a good thing.

The story takes place in the 4th millennium and Mulberry is down and out on his luck. He quickly changes his fortune by crash landing on a planet and convincing the local thugs to crack a deal with him. What I like about the story so far is that the reader knows very little about Mulberry. Samuel Jackson and Eric Calderon allow the other characters to move the story along. Jeremy Rock's work is pretty good. I am totally unfamiliar with his work. Rock has done work for several independent publishers such as Boom! Studios and Avatar. I hope to see him more often.

I think purchasing this limited series is a good idea. I can't wait to cop the rest of the series. Again, it's not groundbreaking at all but sometimes I still want to see folks kick ass and take names.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Audience Responsibility...

Before I go into this week's rant, I ran across a tweet on my time line from Pierre Bennu, a writer/producer/filmmaker I first peeped through Mark Anthony Neal's Left of Black. On Bennu's site, Exit the Apple, he retweeted a piece he wrote on audience responsibility (I don't know how I missed it). In the piece he bigs up one of my fav movies of all time (I am a Capoeirista so I am biased) and asks some questions that we all need to really ponder. I am sure that most of you all are sick of the beef between Tyler Perry, his critics, and Spike Lee, but check what Bennu has to say. I think its important and very central to the discussion we have about race and popular culture.

Enjoy and SUPPORT:

No Better Blues: on audience responsibility & the quest for better film

Have you ever been eating with somebody & then they taste something disgusting and immediately offer it to you to share in the experience? “YUK! Here, taste this!” I have never understood that exchange.

I also have never understood why so many folks claim to despise negative stereotypical images fed to us, but continue to support them.

I believe Melvin Van Peebles was the one that once said Hollywood has an Achilles wallet: if it makes money no matter what it is they will make it. So it could be said that Hollywood and televison are artistically/politically/morally neutral – they couldn’t care less if it’s a movie about Madea or Mumia as long as it makes money. Examples range from corporate support and wide distribution of Michael Moore’s antiestablishment documentaries, to the Kwanzaa cups at McDonald’s. It could be further said that the responsibility lies with the audience then, to make quality decisions that in turn effect the quality and content of the material. But it seems to me that every time there is an award show on BET or a racist misogynistic reality show or a poorly written melodramatic farce celebrating contemporary coonery, folks FLOCK to it in unprecedented numbers.

Some claim intellectual curiousity, some say they can’t comment unless they see it, some just love it as a guilty pleasure – all of which are fine. My issue comes with the fact that if you put money into supporting these projects then they will continue to make them – even bigger and more frequently. My greater issue comes with the fact that we collectively as audience members don’t find and support the alternatives with the same amount of enthusiasm. We don’t search out and support and vote with our dollars for the films, shows, movies and art that enhance and cleberate our mythology.
(read more here.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Power Man and Iron Fist Issue 2

Written by Fred Van Lente
Penciled by Wellington Alves (pgs. 1-9, 21-22)
& Pere Perez (pgs. 10-20)

The saga continues as Victor Alvarez and Danny Rand are inching closer to finding those behind the murder of Crimebuster. Alvarez as the new Power Man is still finding himself as a student while the Iron Fist is still questioning why he took on a student. Ironically, Iron Fist notes that Alvarez was no where near as bad as the original Power Man, Luke Cage, when they began Heroes for Hire.

What I like best about the story is that Alvarez has to keep his secret identity from his family. They have to lie to people and explain that the reason why Alvarez is able to pay for a nice apartment for his family and attend a nice private school is because of a grant from the Rand Foundation. However, Alvarez is earning his keep by being Power Man. Many people question his politics even though he is actually working for a living.

When I read how the artwork was being done, I was a bit disappointed. However, it worked since Pere Perez' work reminds me of an early Alan Davis. I am glad this is a five issue limited series and hope that it becomes a regular series.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Meeting Dawud Anyabwile: Brother Man

My man Zumbi, the owner of the black owned book store Stiltwalkers in Philadelphia, hipped me to Brother Man comics. Zumbi had all of the latest issues in his shop. I loved the art, the story, the covers, and the dialogue. It was hip and it spoke to me on so many levels. It's flavor was Philly. You could see it in the small details on each panel.

I was in the Navy during that time. I actually stopped reading comic books but was still reading Brother Man comics. I was also building up my library of books. Personally, I don't think I would have later returned to comics if it wasn't for Dawud Anyabwile. He demonstrated that you can write stories outside of the formulas the majors were doing. During that time in the early to mid nineties, Image was a burgeoning line but I found it to produce the same stories found in Marvel and DC with the exception of Spawn and the Savage Dragon.

Sometime around 2000 or 2001, I ran into Anyabwile through my brother from another mother Keidi Obi Awadu, the Conscious Rasta. I didn't know who he was until he flashed back issues of Brother Man and then gave it to me. I felt like a kid in the biggest candy store in the world: I always talked about what I would do when I got there but when it came to it, I was shooked. My comics were stolen by a “fellow” shipmate who borrowed my books then took flight and never returned like many of the books I loaned to my shipmates. I never had the opportunity to buy them again because after we left Philadelphia in 1995, Zumbi had closed his store down. This was before the internet became more accessible so I had no way of getting those issues back.

I was open when Anyabwile did that. We lost contact but reconnected several years later through his blog. It was great to learn that he was a capoeirista as well. I ran across this video the other day, and I thought I would share it with you.

Please support folks like Anyabwile. These are the sisters and brothers who are really pushing the envelope and inspiring the next generation of fans and artists. Not to mention the fact that we owe to our babies to do this.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

American Panther

We are not behind the ball on this one folks. I just wanted this story arc to marinate before we start discussing it on our blog. I am an older cat and like to sit down and think about something before speaking. I am not the only one who cringed at the pictures.

My initial impulse was to denounce it. I do take an issue with how Marvel is handling the former Wakandan monarch. Bringing him back to the United States to fill in for someone else is rehashing an old story of when T'Challa was a teacher in Harlem. I loved the Doomwar limited series but I abhor the Man Without Fear story arc.

I originally assumed that Marvel was doing this to help promote the Captain America movie. I know this idea is farfetched but I noticed that when the X Men movies were being released, Marvel stormed their lines with mutant oriented stories. When Wolverine was slated to be released, fans were bombarded with like 100 Wolverine titles and included Wolverine in every story line and had him as a member of every super powered team.

I was listening to the Afronerd's the Comic Shoppe the other day and listened as Captain Kirk, one of the co-hosts made a good point. Remember that this American Panther incarnation of T'Challa is a result of the Fear Itself crossover. Captain Kirk points out that T'Challa's biggest fear is losing his identity as a citizen and monarch of Wakanda as he continues his open relationship with Western nations. This statement really made me rethink the American Panther motif.

We shall see for now. What do you think?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The All New, All Different Power Man and Iron Fist #1

Most of us met Victor Alvarez, the new Power Man, during the Shadowland cross over when Daredevil became the head of the Hand and used this ancient organization to rid NYC of crime in the aftermath of Norman Osborn's Dark Reign. He is Iron Fist's newest student/ward. In the tradition of the original Power Man, Iron Fist continues the Heroes for Hire venture and Alvarez becomes the newest partner.

It's the usual story, level headed and disciplined teacher and the hot headed, inexperienced young student. Add the fact that the student is black and the teacher is lily white and the fact that Alvarez is literally invincible and you can have a limited series that is as unpredictable as can be.

I can't get enough of Wellington Alves' pencils. He makes the bad guys look scary. He doesn't overdo the superheroe's physiques either. His covers are usually choice (check the ones he did for Shadowland). The first issue is just to early to see where the story is heading but I am sure it is going to be big. Fred Van Lente is using the backdrop of several minor villains and superheroes. He is even bringing back some old characters from the original Power Man and Iron Fist.

I really can't wait to read the rest of the series. I do hope that it either morphs into a regular series or we see them play more of a role in the New Avengers. And yes, I am digging Iron Fist's new white costume.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More Dwayne McDuffie dopeness

Here are some things I stumble upon:

1. the first is a panel discussion featuring Dwayne Mcduffie, Method Man, Rusty Cundieff, Reginald Hudlin and a few other heads. I found this on the Comics Journal website. It was held at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con. Here it is...

2. I found this one on the Comic Book Road Show website. This is a summary of the tribute given to Duffie at the Golden Apple comics. Enjoy it here...

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Dwayne McDuffie, the Giant

What more can be said about the man? His work speaks for itself. His work also speaks volumes. I am sure that there are many of us who have come across something he wrote and never knew. Take for example, one of the Deathlok series from Marvel Comics in the early Nineties. I thoroughly enjoyed that series right before I gave up on comics. I didn't realize it was Dwayne McDuffie until right after his passing. When I explained to people who he was, their eyes go wide.

To be honest, I read so many of his stories without really knowing who he was. My first real encounter with McDuffie as a geek was when he released his Milestone imprint under DC comics. It was a universe filled with African American super heroes. It was a Pan Africanist dream. I enjoyed the stories. Icon and Hardware were my favorite.

Yet everyone remembers Static which later became Static Shock, a cartoon many Generation Y'ers grew up on. Static Shock was probably one of the few cartoons that came out that I enjoyed. My oldest son who is now 16 years old, loved that show and we watched it together sometimes. Back then, I was going through my “nothing is as good as what I grew up on” snobby phase.

Fast forward a little over 12 years later, and our younger children are watching the Justice League and the Justice League Unlimited (JLU) which McDuffie played a huge hand in. They also watched Ben 10 which McDuffie created. In a nutshell, there are three generations in my family who were influenced by McDuffie's work. That says a lot. I enjoyed reading his blog posts. McDuffie was always opened to feed back. I had many opportunities to meet him but I pass each of them up. I regret all those decisions.

When I think of McDuffie, I immediately think of three things:

1. When he discussed the time that Justice Clarence Thomas invited him to DC to have a chat. McDuffie obliged him. Thomas goes on to wax poetic about how he is about the upliftment of the black community blah blah blah, blah blah blah, and blah blah blah. Then he proceeds to tell McDuffie that he gets a gang of inspiration from one of McDuffie's characters from the Milestone Comics line. That very character was Icon. McDuffie was flabbergasted. He couldn't believe that one of his heroes was inspiring a man who's political leanings were 180 degrees out of character with his own. This story is just too funny.

2. In the straight to DVD movie Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths which was written by McDuffie, he has Superman quoting the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Rewind that!” was all I could say.

3. When the trailer for the live action Green Lantern movie was released, a gang of folks on twitter barked “I thought Green Lantern was black!” That was worth the price of admission.

We have no choice to show love to those who speak out in forums where many find that issues that many of us face on the day to day (racism, sexism, etc.) is rarely discussed. Let's face it, we in the comic book/fantasy/sci fi world are a racist and sexist bunch.

If there is an image that is stuck in my mind, it is that of a picture in Tony Browder's “Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization.” In this picture, a little black boy is standing in front of a bathroom mirror with is arms in akimbo. The reflection he sees is of a caped super hero that happens to be white. That's deep but for many of us black and brown folk, it's real. McDuffie tried to change that. And you know what? He was successful.

I loved that scene in the short lived yet wonderful Justice League Unlimited (JLU) tv show where John Stewart, the Green Lantern who is black, goes to a barbershop to get a hair cut. I was floored. That was why I loved Dwayne McDuffie. In my house, his picture will go up. And yes, my babies know who he is.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Enki Sunrise

Enki Sunrise

I finally had a chance to dig up my Powers Vol. III Issues 1 and 2. I buried it somewhere in my office. Normally, I keep my comics nearby so when I spend those lazy Sunday afternoons catching up to them all I have to do is lean over and pull out the new ones. Sometimes, I buy comics and put them in my office and forget about them. I did the same with Powers by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Oeming.

While I don't have all the issues of Vol. II, this volume was my first introduction to Enki Sunrise and I must say I really love her. Her style of dress is dope. Her interaction with Christian Walker while mysterious, is very realistic. Kudos to Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Oeming for not giving us another stereotype.

Some might say that she reminds them of Misty Knight from Power Man and Iron Fist. I have to disagree. Enki Sunrise is not fully confident. She questions herself and her ability. She questions what she is doing with Christian Walker. That's dope and it works.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Some of the Best of 2010

Yes, I am late with this. My apologies. I got a little bit carried away with the festivities of last week of December. I will admit that 2010 was a great year for comics. There has been so much great writing for the major publishers as well as the independent ones. The competition is fierce as writers start to go the indie route. Also even the movie houses are getting in the game. Movie adaptations of comic books are getting better. It was quite a few tough picks out there. I normally stay away from the major comic companies for these but this year, Marvel hit it out the park. Yet here it is, enjoy:

Best Comic Book mini series – “Thanos Imperative” - Dan Abbet and Andy Lanning did a great job breathing life into many 70's Marvel Characters. The Guardians of the Galaxy is a good example of that. It is a group made up of many characters that were made in the 70s. Here is a good example of great writing. Abbet and Lanning did a great job bringing these characters back to the fold. While Thanos is a great villains, few writers do him justice. The artwork by Miguel Sepulveda is also great. I love the fact that Marvel chose not to make this a huge crossover event. The reader did not have to go back to the lab and read back issues of those 70's issues. The storyline included the story of Captain Mar'Vell. It was stellar with huge spaceship battles and super hero beatdowns. I am so glad that the story of the players will continue.

Best Story Arc
– Image Comic's Invincible: The Viltrumite War – I always loved Robert Kirkman's and Cory Walker's Invincible. Its a great spin on the Superman/Spiderman archetype. There is even a great father/son plot line with Invincible and his father Omni Man. Invincible does remind me of the early Spiderman stories where Peter Parker consistently doubted himself at every turn and fought to keep his life in order. Invincible is in the same situation but he has powers that rival Superman. Unfortunately, his father hails from a race of beings who intend on conquering the universe. Finally, we find Invincible, Omni Man, and several allies gearing up to take the fight to the Viltrumites, the race of beings Invincible is a descendant of. Even in the face of battle, Invincible questions his role as a superhero and his relationship with his father. The space battles are great and the artwork renders an epic assault throughout the universe but the writing really keeps me captivated. It is truly one of the best comic books out now.

Best Issue: Unlike the previous categories, this one was easy. Nemesis issue #1 is awesome and was probably the best issue of 2010. Mark Millar does it again. He also teams with Steve McNivens. Previously, they did Old Man Logan for Marvel which in my opinion was the best story arc of 2009. If you have been reading this blog for the past year, you know how I felt about it. There are rumors that it will be another movie adaptation. Let's see what happens. Millar will finish the series however, so stay tuned for that.

Best Movie Adaptation of Comic book:
“Kick Ass” Although Hollywood screwed up Millar's “Wanted” in so many ways, they really knocked it out of the ball park with “Kick Ass.” I know folks who don't even read comics pick up the book after watching the movie. There were many comic book adaptations on the silver screen, but “Kick Ass” set the standard. The writers for the next Dark Knight installment have their work cut out for themselves.

You know 2011 is going to be all the way live. You can count us to be there. We will have many more comic books of color on the independent tip reviewed here. Stay tuned.

Happy New Year!