Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Punx of Rage #1

Published by Strictly Underground Comics
Written by Joe Robinson Currie
Breakdowns by Glyph Sputnik

It is a great time to be an indie comic publisher today. You can go the digital route or the traditional one. You can reach your audience directly. A publisher can also publish what they want. Of course, there are going to be some bad writing and some good ones. Punx of Rage is actually very good.

The key to introducing a new hero or heroes to a new audience is to keep it simple. There are so many other great stories that people would prefer to spend their money on so you have to grab them with likeable characters with a simple story line. The Punx are a group of vigilantes who want to keep their community clear of criminals.

The breakdowns by Glyph Sputnik are pretty good. The story flows. Joe Currie had 20 pages to get it right and he dives in and gives the reader exactly what they need. The panels flow and are not difficult to follow despite the fact that Currie and Sputnik set up the panels in an non traditional manner. That is tough to pull off and they do it well. At the end, they introduce a key player in the Punx of Rage with enough mystery to want the reader to pick up the next issue.

My only issue with the comic is the lettering. The bubbles seem to be a little too large and take away from the action. Other than that, I look forward to reading more issues about the Punx of Rage.  

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Not So Super

written by JacquesNyemb
Art by Joe Hunter

There is a reason why many of us will always love comics no matter what the big publishers do. There are some stories that resonate with people across the world. It's those stories, even from small presses, that keep us coming back for more. It's those small comics with a big heart that have us geeking out when some MC makes a reference. When the protagonist from "Johnny Hiro" by Fred Chao interacts with Grand Puba of Brand Nubian fam when discussing women, it makes you love comics all the more. And yes there is a geek out in the middle of your high class dinner.

"Not So Super" writting by Jacques Nyemb and illustrated by Joe Hunter does just that. From the beginning you can't help but root for Dan, the protagonist in this tale of ill skills. We are introduced into Dan's Inferno. An inferno many of us can relate to. You know what I am talking about. The hell that is the cubicle. That's a tale that can take up 3 to 4 story arcs just to describe. Dan, an IT guy, works in the belly of the Corporate Beast. Nyemb and Hunter do a wonderful job of showing Dan's anxiety increase as he gets closer to work.

Hunter really works the contrast on this panels. This really brings the emotion out of Dan. The scene where Dan walks by his cubicle seems surreal. It really makes the reader want to leave those scenes since Hunter makes them so dreary. Again, the reader will relate immediately. Dianne, the receptionist, is made to look like a character out of Hade's underworld. Her stare seems to look into Dan's soul. While finding an artist who can pencil, ink, and color isn't hard to find, it's making it work that's difficult to work. Hunter comes off like a veteran and uses his panels wisely. While many indie joints have very stylized renderings, many try to give too much detail instead of focusing on moving the story line in a proper panel sequence thus confusing the reader. Hunter stays away from that and really allows the reader to follow the story with little dialogue in certain scenes. The emotion is there.

The best part about the story is they mystery. Dan continues to wake up feeling as if he has gone on an all night drinking binge even though we all know he has gone to bed immediately after work. This will definitely bring the reader back. As we always say, indie joints are hit or miss. They either get it right or they don't. "Not So Super" hits it out the park. Nyemb as no trouble fleshing out a story and developing Dan into someone we can all dig and say "yup, I love comic books." We definitely hope Nyemb and Hunter come back to give the reader more.  

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism & Beyond

This book is going to be so gangsta...

The line up?

Tobias Buckell
Indrapramit Das
Junot Díaz
Minister Faust
Daniel José Older
Chinelo Onwualu
Andaiye Reeves
Eden Robinson
Charles R. Saunders
Nisi Shawl
Vandana Singh
C. Renee Stephens
Greg Tate
Tade Thompson
Katherena Vermette

TO NAME A FEW. That's not even half, peoples!  

the cover is done by the homie John Jennings. 

So support this campaign here

Monday, July 01, 2013

The Legend of Will Power Issues 1 & 2

I think we apologize for this all the time. We always seem to miss some diamonds in the rough. While I don't read as many indie comics as much as I read from the big presses, I end up reading alot of indie stuff that doesn't cut the mustard. So I avoid doing reviews on those. I know I am violating some writer's integrity law but I don't want to throw shade on someone's business. However, I do come across some independent stuff that is really mind blowing. Primal ComicsWill Powers is just one of those books.

First, let me say that Primal Comics has a nice roster of writers and artists. I highly recommend checking their stuff out. It's really refreshing to see an indie publisher putting out quality stuff. Vince White, writer and artist for Will Powers, really hits it out the park for Primal Comics.

Black and white comics are dope. They really are. I am glad that Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead" really put a spotlight on that. It really gives more to the imagination. That is the first thing I loved about "Will Power." It's in B&W and the reader really gets to dig into White's breakdowns which are superb.

As a long time comic book reader and an overall avid reader, you heard it all. Most stories follow the same format a la Joseph Campbell. At this point, you can pretty much predict what's going to happen. So what we readers look for is the actual journey. Take us from point A to point B. What happens inbetween those points matter. For "Will Powers," the story is the same. The protagonist loses so much to gain new powers. Any writer who takes on the artwork gets huge props. It's a huge undertaking. White does it well. The story is awesome. He even adds a little back story that plays along each issue. It's not rated R so the babies will pick it up and enjoy it as well.

I should have copped the 4 issue special on the website but like a dummy I only picked up the first 2. Get the packaged deal, since it is totally worth it. I hope to see more from Vince White and the folks at Primal Paper Comics that put out great material.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

After Earth

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Like many people, I was once a big M. Night Shyamalan supporter. Then he slowly started to direct movies that just didn't seem to work. I assumed that after the fiasco that was The Last Airbender, no one would hire him to direct porn. Once we think we have Hollywood figured out, they do something that we never expect. When I initially heard about the adaptation of After Earth starring Will Smith, Shyamalan was the last person I thought they would find to direct it. Despite my misgivings, I wanted to see Smith and Jaden Smith as a duo again.

In the remake of Karate Kid (which should have been called Kung Fu Kid - excuse my snobbery), Jaden Smith did okay. It was Jackie Chan who saved that movie portraying an alcoholic who never recovered from losing his family. It was still very enjoyable. Although Jaden Smith is the central character in the movie, it's Will Smith who gives his best performance ever.

Cypher Raige (Will Smith) decides to take his son, Kitai Raige (Jaden Smith) on a mission to another planet. During the trip, their ship is damaged in a meteor shower and they are forced to crash land on Earth which was abandoned 1,000 years before. Cypher's legs are broken and he is forced to send Kitai, who has failed his promotion to become a Ranger like his father, on a solo mission to retrieve a distress beacon. As a father of four wonderful children, I couldn't help but love this movie. When Cypher places a survival kit on Kitai's back and says "I will be able to see everything you see and more," I couldn't help but wish we had that technology to place on our children. Cypher was able to warn his son of incoming dangers and update him on everything from his heart rate, weather patterns, other life forms, and other pieces of information we parents wish we had when our children are on their own. Through the first half of the journey, Cipher guides his son at each step. Towards the middle, Kitai disobeys his father and strikes out on his own while losing all video and audio contact with Cypher.

Kitai has big shoes to fill. His father is a General in the Rangers who is the first to learn how to "ghost." In humanity's battle against unknown aliens, they are pitted against these blind Ursas which can sense humans through the pheromones they secret via fear. Cypher learns how to hide his emotion so the violently ugly Ursas cannot "see" him. His father is the definition of stoicism. Cypher is the winner of many battles and savior of many soldiers. He is the the future Chesty Puller. At the same time, Cypher is a family man who has a strained relationship with Kitai especially after his daughter is killed by a Ursa while Cypher is away on yet another mission. Kitai witnesses his sisters death, believes he is at fault, and that his father blames him. Kitai struggles with that idea throughout the story. Again, Will Smith pulls it off.

The technology deployed by humanity is amazing. It's a mix between the artificial and the biological. Even the weapons used by the Rangers are sleek. There are no huge lasers or shields. While this movie takes place about a thousand years in the future, Shyamalan decided to focus on an actor driven plot. While Jaden Smith couldn't carry the movie, Will Smith pulled it through.

Again as a parent, I couldn't help but relate. Cypher falls back and forth between General and father with ease but continues to hide his emotion. When he realizes Kitai is lying to him, Cypher wonders if Kitai is failing him as a soldier or coming through as his son. Will Smith pulls that off with relative ease. One can help but hold their breath when Kitai runs and jumps off the cliff to glide through the air towards his destination while defying his father's orders. Cypher is forced to place all his faith in Kitai his son, not Kitai the failed Ranger.

Kitai learns to defeat his inner Ursa before he is to fight the Ursa that stalks him. All children must do the same. All of his doubts, fears, and anxieties are pushed away as Kitai focuses on his mission. He realizes that he could have done nothing to save his sister and that it is up to him to save his family. In doing so, Kitai teaches his father how to turn off his ghosting.

My only gripe with this movie is that too much of it was laid on Jaden Smith's shoulders. While Will Smith came through, the younger Smith really struggled with his parts. While Zoe Kravitz' parts were scarce, her potential was evident. Another problem were the accents. I understand that humans lived on a new planet but there was a mixture of some hybrid Texan, British accent that threw the dialogue off. Overall, while the movie is not the usual action and explosive block buster despite the big budget, it is still something new.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why You should Read Miles Morales...

Despite the flak I throw at Age of Ultron, I am still a huge fan of Brian Michael Bendis. While I am behind on the Ultimate Spider Man (USM) series by a few issues and I am loving Dan Slott's run on Superior Spider Man (SSM), I find that USM is the best Spider Man story out there. I said it.

I am biased. Sara Pichelli's Miles Morales looks like my middle son (her pencils are amazing by the way). Morales attends a charter school like my younger two children. Morales' Uncle Aaron, who he believes he kills, reminds me of a particular uncle I have and my children have. We are Afro Latino like Miles Morales. So this Spider Man speaks to me. So not only is Bendis my favorite writer, it feels like he is writing to me.

However, if you want to discuss intersectionality, USM is where you need to be. In issue 2, the Morales family attends a lottery for the charter school Miles hopes to attend. This sounds familiar for many parents throughout economically deprived communities throughout the United States. Here we see Morales' moral compass as he is emotionally torn when he wins a slot for the coveted charter school and he watches other children cry when their name is not called as a lottery winner.

While Bendis kept the moral compass debate central to the story, Morales is definitely different. His parents are alive as well as his Uncle Aaron/The Prowler. The relationship between Morales, his father, and Uncle Aaron is fragile. While Uncle Aaron maintains his criminal career, Morales' father gave it up years ago and keeps it under wraps. Even Morales does not know what his father used to do or what made him give up that lifestyle. He is told to stay away from his Uncle Aaron which he disobeys. It's clear that Morales loves his Uncle Aaron dearly. His uncle also keeps his criminal career and history secret from Morales.

The twist is the entire story is that Morales becomes Spider Man due to Aaron's criminal acts. He steals a bioengineered spider that bites Morales. Aaron realizes Morales' powers earlier and decides to convince his nephew to help him take over the criminal underground. When Morales initially refuses, Aaron threatens to tell his father who is vocally anti mutant. While I don't think Morale's father would get a heart attack, Morales is only 12 and assumes that his father would disown him like any 12 year old child. Morales however refuses Aaron's offer and chooses to avoid his uncle. Eventually there is a showdown that ends in Aaron's death. While it was completely accidental, Morales accepts full blame. On top of the that, the media has also laid blame on Spider Man. This is the turning point in Morale's young life where he realizes that being Spider man is not a game.

I think when Bendis throws Steve Rogers into the mix, we see Morales really step up his game. During the Divided We Fall Ultimate Universe crossover, Morales joins the Ultimates and even saves Rogers' life again. This is seen on national television and throws folks behind Morales. He begins to see that doing the right thing does pay off.

While I think Bendis is going too fast with Morales and his powers (even though the Spider sting is something Morales is working on), he has done a good job of developing the characters around Morales' life. As usual Bendis really sets things up with his build up. Currently, they are going throgh the Venom storyline and the fight scenes are exquisite. While Dan Slott is doing a great job on Superior Spider Man, USM remains the best Spidey title out there.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Iron Man 3

directed by Shane Black

Marvel and yes, Disney, has maintained a great run on movies for the last 3 years. The stories are written well. The visuals are awesome. Don't get me wrong. Movie adaptations of comic books are the thing to do now. You can't go wrong. Being "geek" is chic (for now). Eventually, there was going to be a hiccup. One of these movies were going to be lackluster. One of these movies would not cut the mustard.

The first issue I have with the movie is with the "main" villain. I love Ben Kingsley. I think if they wrote the Mandarin better, he would have probably out shined Heath Ledger as The Joker. Unfortunately, the screen writers scrapped The Mandarin story. Rumors alleged that it would have hurt relations between the US and China. While Marvel did some questionable stuff during the 60s when it came to villains such as the Mandarin, I think that Marvel has fixed all of the ethnocentric stuff they did with Mandarin over the years. He wasn't like Ming the Merciless was portrayed back in the day.
So they made Kingsley lean on his British side and he played a drugged out actor who was used as a pawn by the founder of A.I.M., Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce).

The second issue is that there was too much Tony Starks and not enough Iron Man. Shane Black was the director of Iron Man 3. Black is known for directing and writing shoot 'em up blockbusters but nothing close to adaptations of comic books. This was probably a bad idea. I felt like I was watching a watered down version of Die Hard. The only good part is that we got to see Don Cheadle get more action.

Another problem is that Tony Starks, Don Cheadle, and pretty much the entire Department of Defense could not figure out who the Mandarin was and what he wanted. He was part Osama Bin Laden and part Timothy Leary. One would think that Starks or anyone else in the movie would just say "Hey, let's see what Fury and SHIELD can do." No one even mentions it. Even my children pointed out that although the Avengers were referenced, they were never named. Why did this happen? Why didn't anyone from SHIELD give Starks or anyone a shred of info on the Mandarin. While A.I.M. and Killian were the culprits, no one figured it out until the end. This is never explained.

Finally, Starks has this hang up. It's obvious that he was still high after saving the world. He became part of the globe stomping Avengers. Now with down time, Starks is restless (as usual). And he can't figure out what it is. It takes a child stranger from a hick town to convince Starks of who he is. This sub plot was unnecessary. It wasn't even funny.

There are some great parts to the movie. The nod to Iron Patriot was hilarious. And yes, Killian was one step ahead of anyone. The Extremis story line was incorporated well into the story. Starks actually uses this for his armor in the comic book and I appreciate Marvel/Disney for putting this into the movie. I enjoyed how they suggested that Starks was the founder of the Extremis equation. I also dug how they kept Happy Hogan in the story. This added so much humor to the movie.

All in all, you can wait for Iron Man 3 to show up on Redbox. It's not worth the money. The action was not even substandard. While it was close to breaking records at the box office, I don't see why it deserved this. I find that the screen writers (both Black and Drew Pearce) really missed the mark. If anything, Iron Man 3 demonstrates that superb screen writing will make or break how a movie translates the story from a comic book.  

Sunday, February 03, 2013

The Abandon

Directed by Keith Josef Adkins

Being a sci fi fan is difficult these days especially when you hit the age of forty. You pretty much seen it all. When my oldest son suggests anything, I watch it and point out the similarities to something I watched at his age. At this point, I just look for decent writing. While there are some great shows out there, they are still few that catch my eye. Fortunately, it seems that independent directors and writers have heard the call and are producing some great work.

Somehow "TheAbandon," directed by Keith Josef Adkins, made it on my Twitter feed. While I get a ton of videos that I wouldn't be caught even considering, I decided to try "The Abandon." I didn't regret it. I actually watched it twice back to back. The next day, I visited a homie for a play date with our children and we watched it. Yes, it is that good.

The story begins with 5 friends planning to meet for their annual camping trip. A weekend away from the careers, spouses, and the everyday hustle and bustle. No cell phones and other gadgets. Just a weekend in the country. So 5 regular brothers from college who need to get away from it all. On their way to the camp grounds, something unexplainable happens. Adkins really draws the audience into this story by introducing the mystery early in the story.

Before we go any further, it is an alien invasion. The catch is that the characters in the story don't know anything about it. They learn a few things from some old tweets and notice several odd things, but for the most part the main characters are clueless. As the story progresses, the audience gets to know who they are and how they are all connected. Here is where the writer demonstrates his or her worth.

In a time of $300 million dollar blockbuster movies with the latest in CGI and wonderfully written TV shows, most people have heard or seen it all. At the end of the day, it will be the writing that will keep an audience. The shows on ScyFy are great examples of decent budgets but spotty writing and even worse acting. One can make a wonderful movie on a shoestring budget with half way decent or unknown actors. Adkins proves this with ease.

I cannot wait until Adkins continues with more parts to the series. While "TheAbandon" can stand on it's own, it would be great if a network would pick it up. I find it just as good and much of the good shows that are on major networks now.