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Comics

Comic Book Review – Black Bolt #1 by Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward

Creative Team:

  • Writer: Saladin Ahmed
  • Artist: Christian Ward
  • Letterer: Clayton Cowles

The Inhumans are in a tough spot, as far as the fandom goes.  They’ve been around a long time, created by Lee and Kirby no less.  But they’ve always been a bit of a niche group, mostly centered around the Fantastic Four.  It doesn’t help that in modern times, the Inhumans are being pushed hard by Marvel, and it’s seen by some that it’s to the detriment of Marvel’s Mutant characters.  I’ve never bought that particular conspiracy theory, but it’s left some fans with a sour taste in their mouths.

I’m happy to report that Black Bolt #1 is absolutely worth your time, even if the Inhumans have never been your thing.  The story will follow Black Bolt as he’s thrown in a cosmic prison by his brother, Maximus the Mad.  It’s for the worst of the worst, and was supposed to be Maximus’s new home.  BB’s not alone, however, and chief among the other incarcerated folks is Carl “Crusher” Creel, the Absorbing Man.  If you mostly know Marvel from the movies and TV show, he’s made a few appearances on Agents of SHIELD.  The writer, Saladin Ahmed, has something to say about prison and what happens when you toss people aside, but promises not to forget about the guy who can shout mountains apart.  When you combine that with the insane, trippy art stylings of Christian Ward (ODY-C), I’m definitely in to see what happens next.

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Comics

Marvel’s Biggest Missed Opportunity

It’s kind of shocking how quickly the tables have turned on the big two in the comics industry.  Just a few years ago, while DC was languishing under the “New 52”, Marvel was having a creative boom.  Whether it was Matt Fraction and David Aja bringing a fresh take to Hawkeye, their first headlining Muslim hero, or amazing women taking on important roles in their universe (Carol as Captain Marvel, Jane Foster Thor, SQUIRREL GIRL), things seemed to be looking up for the House of Ideas.  It all came to a satisfying crescendo with 2015’s Secret Wars event, which should’ve allowed Marvel to set up their new universe exactly as they saw fit.  Somebody dead that you need alive?  Go for it.  It was a golden opportunity.

So what went wrong?  To me, it comes down to one thing, and that’s the constant stream of events.  Crossover events can be fun, no doubt, but when you are ALWAYS preparing for the next big thing (and there’s 2 or 3 of them every year), you’re not able to do any justice to the stories of the individual characters.  A rebooted universe, renumbered and starting over to boot, should be all about bringing new readers into the fold.  The guy reading Spider-Man for the past 10 years is in, you know?  The grognards might roll their eyes at yet another renumbering, but as long as the book is still there and Spidey is still himself, they’ll stick around.  A new number 1 issue should be a jumping-on point for the MCU fans, or kids, or whoever it is you want to start reading comics.  But with the constant event cycle churning, you never give that new reader a chance to get to know the character before their life and story are interrupted.

Post-Secret Wars, you rolled straight into Avengers: Standoff!, with Spider-Women and Apocalypse Wars disrupting some of the Spider-centric and X-Men books.  That all led into Civil War II, a sequel event nobody asked for, which included some character assassination of Captain Marvel to boot.  But you barely caught your breath before the Spider-books were disrupted by another event, a Clone Conspiracy revival.  The X-Men and Inhumans fought, a bunch of monsters were fought, and then you may have heard about that whole Secret Empire thing.  It’s exhausting just to read all of that.  Imagine you are a new comics fan, how do you reconcile all of that?  If fifteen to twenty books every month have some event banner on ’em, and put the character building on hold for some other story, why would you keep reading?

I stopped reading comics as a teen mostly because of the event cycle.  While Infinity Gauntlet was classic, I got annoyed at having things happening across multiple books that I couldn’t afford to buy (and that was when comic books were only $1-$1.50).  Your choice was either to not know what was going on, or to stop buying.  What brought me back to comics was my friends raving about the Matt Fraction/David Aja Hawkeye series, which did it’s own thing and built a deep, interesting story about Clint and Kate.  It was funny, it was experimental, and I fell back in love with comics.  I branched out from there, but always with an eye to comics that had a solid running story of their own (Tom King’s The Vision series for example).  The thing is, whenever I might start to get invested in a more mainline comic, it would get interrupted and I would throw up my hands and decide to trade-wait it, or at least see if the event as a whole that was pre-empting my normal programming was worth it.  Spoiler alert:  most of them haven’t been, so I’ve pretty much stopped buying Marvel comics.  There are still some gems here and there (Black Widow, Ms. Marvel although she’s well and truly embedded in the event cycle now, one or two others) but most I’m content to wait for Marvel Unlimited to go on sale again to catch up.

Marvel’s comic books are in fairly dire straits right now – a gimmick Spider-Man issue was number 1, but beyond that, the top 25 is dominated by DC.  Star Wars comics are helping Marvel from being totally embarrassed in the top 100.  When DC can put both double-shipped Batman comics ahead of every Marvel comic but the aforementioned gimmick Spider-Man, you need to make changes.  Some suggestions:

  1. Pare down the lineup.  Marvel released 94 different comics in March.  There were seven different Avengers or related books if you count Great Lakes Avengers (and I’m not counting the Avengers cartoon tie-in book).  Deadpool (or a Deadpool-adjacent character such as Deadpool the Duck) appears in at least 5 or 6 books.  Doctor Strange was in 3!  If you love a specific character, it’s ridiculous to try and follow them.  Trim it down.
  2. Let the stories develop.  I would put this to Marvel as a challenge – the next time the universe is rebooted (and you know they will), let all the comics go one full calendar year telling their own story.  Let the characters shine and develop a following before smashing them against a planet- or universe-destroying entity.
  3. Retain your talent.  Tom King.  Tim Seeley.  Sam Humphries.  James Tynion IV.  It seemed for a while in 2016 you couldn’t go a week without someone new signing an exclusive deal with DC, many of whom had been creating for both companies.  Tom King and Sam Humphries were huge losses in particular.  Marvel has their own stable of talent, but you can’t keep losing creators without it affecting quality.  The same 6 people can’t write all your books, especially if you are releasing 100 a month.
  4. Count the trades and digital sales.  I know they look at the sales, but they are still mostly concerned with monthly sales at your local shop.  Sorry, but not everyone goes to the local comic shop for individual floppy issues.  Especially since they aren’t particularly collectible in modern times.  I much prefer sturdier trade paperbacks, as I share a lot of my comics with my kids.  I also have quite a few in the digital format from various sources (Comixology/Amazon sales, Humble Bundles, etc.).
  5. Keep the diversity going.  Any media is improved by having other viewpoints, so efforts need to be re-doubled to engage with and retain writers and artists of color, women, and LGBTQ+ creators.

Look, as quickly as things went south for Marvel, they can turn it around.  They’ve got a built in audience thanks to the MCU that would love to engage with them, and they only need the content to be there.  This time next year, the roles could be reverse – or we could have a new golden age where Marvel and DC are both high quality at the same time.  Imagine that!Marvel versus DC

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Comics

Comics Twitter is a JERK!

Subtitled “Ask me about MY feminist agenda”.

The thing about this whole mess I don’t get is, why do the misogynist man-babies get so wound up about a book they didn’t read?  They are gleefully vile in attacking Chelsea Cain after the cancellation of the Mockingbird series, and the preview of Joelle Jones’s cover to Mockingbird #8 seen in part above.  Why?  Why are they so threatened by the idea of a comic book series not directly aimed at them?

I’m late to Mockingbird, mostly because I didn’t have a ton of cash for comics over the past year or so, but I’ve read it up as the issues have hit Marvel Unlimited and it’s quite a bit of fun, enough that I’m going to get the trades.  The thing is, if I hadn’t liked it I could just…not read it.  Even if I had bought the first issue, and not liked it, I’m out, like $4.  I could MOVE ON and not make my whole life about the fact that a woman wrote (or drew or colored or lettered) a comic that was not specifically targeted to me.  The fact that Hellcat exists doesn’t actually stop me from reading Iron Man or Batman.  Your local comic shop isn’t going to smack that issue of Superman out of your hand, rip a five-spot from your wallet, and stuff an issue of Lumberjanes in your bag whether you want it or not.  Look, I guarantee comic companies don’t want to replace your manly comics with feminist ones, they want to sell BOTH.  They will make more of whatever sells.  Marvel would put out 100 books a week if they all sold 50k copies.  They don’t, so some books go on, and some get cancelled.  Mockingbird didn’t find an audience, but the correct response shouldn’t be to crow about it and harass the creators behind it beyond all reasonable endurance.  You should be celebrating that a company is willing to try something different than just another comic about a white guy punching bad guys because his parents died.

There is no excuse for what happened to Chelsea Cain, or any other person who has been chased off or had vile insults and threats leveled at them for the ‘crime’ of doing something in a formerly male-dominated space.  Don’t give in to the impulse to gatekeep ‘others’ out of your hobby, and seriously, don’t take your hobby so seriously that you think abusing strangers is a good idea.  I get really tired of being a part of fandoms that act like this (I’m a gamer too).  I plan to be a better ally, and so should you.

Anybody who wants to check out Chelsea Cain’s work, see the below:

  1. Mockingbird, Volume 1:  I Can Explain
  2. Mockingbird, Volume 2:  My Feminist Agenda
  3. Heartsick
  4. One Kick

Go ahead, step outside your comfort zone.  You may just be glad you did.

Categories
Comics Review

Comic Book Review – Secret Wars 2015

Sometimes, the heroes can get a happy ending.

That’s my takeaway after reading Secret Wars #9.  Sure, they saved the multiverse, put things back the way they are supposed to be, but Secret Wars really felt like a love letter to Marvel’s first family.  At the end of all things, we get Reed and Doom fighting, and it’s not even about the stretchy punches and magic as it is the words.

ReedDoom1

Yes, and Doom knows it too.  Admitting this causes Owen Reece to decide to give the power of the Beyonders to Reed, who does what Victor couldn’t – be a creator without being God.  Remake the universe, fix things…and let go.  Reed, Sue and the Future Foundation kids are using Franklin’s ability to create new universes to remake the multiverse.  No more superheroes for now, but scientists and explorers.  Johnny and Ben are still kicking around, of course, but this feels like a fitting end (for now) for Reed and Sue.  They’ve been through so much in the past 10 years or so, I think it’s a good play to keep them sidelined for now until the perfect writer comes along who wants a crack at them.  And if that coincides with Marvel getting the rights back or making a deal for them, well, even better.

ReedFixesThingsAs for the rest of Secret Wars, I really enjoyed it.  Yes, the mainline book ended up a bit overstuffed.  A few too many characters got a look, but it’s easy to forgive as Hickman’s ideas and Ribic’s art worked so well together.  The other books range from so-so to amazingly fun, though I am a sucker for these re-imaginings and alternative takes on heroes, but honestly, just look for the ones you think are interesting and read ’em.  You can safely ignore the ones that don’t matter to you.  But really, Cap and Devil Dinosaur?  Weird-World?

At the end of the day, I feel like Secret Wars (2015) was worthwhile.  The first block of issues have hit Marvel Unlimited if you are a subscriber.  Otherwise, check out the hardcover when it hits.

Categories
Comics Review

Our Free Comic Book Day 2015 Haul!

Above you can see the picks both me and my kids picked out for Free Comic Book Day 2015!  I didn’t get to get out early so I missed a couple of the free books I wanted (the Dark Horse sampler with the Avatar: The Last Airbender comic, and Terrible Lizard) but we still got a bunch of cool stuff.  Some favorites:

  • Cleopatra in Space:  I *love* the art in this, and I can tell my daughters are going to enjoy it.  I see buying all the books.
  • The Invincible Iron Man War Machine collection:  My son’s pick (I think Age of Ultron affected this one), and a huge nostalgia bomb for me as I collected every one of these issues when I was a teenager.
  • Infinity Gauntlet/Planet Hulk #1:  These were both $1 reprints and my son really seemed to enjoy them.
  • Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman:  My girls both pegged on this one, as the cover art pulled them in.  Two stories, with one featuring interior art from Mike Maihack, of the above Cleopatra in Space.  Just a ton of fun.
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4:  What can I say, Doreen reminds me of my Mattie and my wife reading the dialogue out loud to us was hilarious.

I think we’ll have to go back to the shop again sooner this time.  I was very happy to see lots of young women and girls out, and my daughters definitely liked seeing a wider selection of stuff with girls/women on the cover.  They both pointed out stuff like She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel while also picking up things like Dan Slott/Humberto Ramos’s The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1.  All in all, I call that a successful day out.

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Comics Review

Comic Book Review – Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever

The City on the Edge of Forever is often described as the best episode of the original series of Star Trek, and it’s hard to argue against that.  The script, written by Sci-Fi legend Harlan Ellison, won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation in 1968, and also the Writer’s Guild of America award of the same name.  That those awards were actually for different scripts is where the comic book adaptation comes in (here is some background).  As you can see, Ellison – never one to stay calm in the face of even imagined slights – famously criticized the edits done by Trek’s writers to his story, a “fatally inept treatment”.  I remember discovering this after seeing Ellison doing his best ‘Andy Rooney of Sci-Fi’ in remarks on the old Sci-Fi Buzz show on the Sci-Fi channel, and being curious about what his story was like.

BlockQuoteCityEdgeForeverI no longer have to wonder, as IDW has published a faithful adaptation of one of Ellison’s drafts of the script.  (spoilers possible from here)  Many of the story beats are the same – Kirk and Spock must travel back to fix the timeline after a crewman screws it up – but the devil is in the details.  Here, a drug-dealing crewmember is the one who mucks things up, something that probably wouldn’t have flown with Roddenberry’s vision of the future.  His treatment also dealt more with the racism of the time, which was present but toned down in the TV episode.  Gone, also, on TV was the fact that the Enterprise changed after the crewman escaped to the past.  Ellison’s script actually has a rather badass picture of Yeoman Rand standing with the redshirts on this other ship in the changed timeline, phaser-blasting and elbow-dropping dudes to buy Spock and Kirk time to beam back down to the Guardian of Forever.

But the most intriguing change is to the end, with what happens to Edith Keeler.  In this story, the crewman (this vile drug-dealing killer) attempts to save Edith from the truck while Kirk stands dumbfounded.  Spock knocks the crewman away, and Edith dies as she is meant to.  It provides a bit for Spock and Kirk to ponder at the end, debating how good and evil can come from the same place.

I enjoyed the book quite a bit.  Scott and David Tipton ably adapted the story, and the JK Woodward art comes across as a series of paintings, expertly capturing the actors in their youth.  I could’ve used some smoother transitions from scene to scene or panel, but it does the job well.  Of course, this version would’ve been impossible to film at the time it was written.  Too long to film, too much stuff to make.  But hey, now you can see the story as Ellison meant it.

Thanks again to NetGalley for the early review copy.  Pre-order your own trade at Amazon.  Or check on the individual issues at your local comic shop.

Categories
PC Games Review

State of the Game: Marvel Heroes

TooManyHours
You’ve played a game more than this, right? RIGHT?

Note:  I looked at Marvel Heroes before, but the game has changed even more since then so I’m starting fresh in this article.

I tried Marvel Heroes when it first came out (it didn’t have the ‘2015’ in the name then) but only played about 20 or 30 hours before setting it aside.  Loved the subject matter and style of game (Diablo with Marvel super heroes?  Sold!) but the execution just wasn’t there.  I kept on the e-mail list though, curious to see if the game would die out or come around, and ended up trying the game out again after I got a message about an event that sounded interesting.  As you can see, I’m hooked.

If you are not familiar with the game, Marvel Heroes is an action-RPG where you can play as one of forty different Marvel super heroes and villains.  If you’ve played the Diablo or Torchlight series, you know the style of game.  The difference here is MH is a free to play massively multiplayer action role playing game.  An ‘Action RPG’ is just a role playing game where you click on enemies to attack them, using various abilities directly, rather than selecting attacks from a menu and watching them happen.  ‘Massively multiplayer’ just means hundreds to thousands of users are playing alongside you, though in practice most places you go split you into manageable chunks of players in a particular zone.  ‘Free to play’ means you don’t pay up-front for the game but you can buy stuff, but unlike many games that make F2P a hated term, Marvel Heroes handles it pretty well.  A currency drops every 8 minutes or so, and you can use that to unlock every hero in the game, and many other things like some team-ups.  The main thing you end up running short of is storage space.  You have your inventory, your team-up inventory, and one ‘STASH’ but if you tend to keep interesting gear or play a bunch of heroes, you’ll want to chip in some bucks for extra space.  However, by the time you get to that point you’ll know for sure whether or not you like the game.

In my previous look at the game, I mentioned that the characters hewed pretty close to the standard Diablo archetypes (Ranged, Melee, Pet class) but I’m happy to report that as they’ve gone on, the characters have gotten more and more creative.  Rogue in particular is a ton of fun, as she can steal powers or knowledge from over a hundred heroes and villains in the game – the ultimate in customization.  The unstoppable Juggernaut was just released, and uses his momentum to power hard-hitting movement powers.  The devs are also deep in a process of completely revamping the earliest heroes to bring them up to the level of fun and uniqueness of the newer ones.

2014-11-10_00001
Taskmaster is ready to take you chumps to school.

The story is fun the first few times through, with motion comics as the cutscenes at important spots.  Gazillion has tried to hit all the high notes in Marvel’s stable as far as enemies go, so you fight everyone from Shocker, Doc Ock and the Kingpin to Loki, Doctor Doom and Magneto.  Eventually as you gather more characters, you will not want to just go through the story over and over, and there are more options.  For instance, there is a Midtown Manhattan patrol (and within a few weeks, another Patrol map) where boss fights occur every few minutes.  Holo-Sim pits you against waves of enemies or boss events either solo or with a partner, which X-Defense lets you defend Xavier’s mansion against threats.  Gaz has also released two ‘One-Shot’ stories that exist outside of the story, the Wakandan Mines and the Bronx Zoo, which added the Lizard, Kraven the Hunter and Mr. Hyde.  They also set up ‘terminals’ where you can fight harder versions of some of the story chapters, with chances at better classes of loot or special drops from the bosses.

2014-11-11_00004
Part of the training to defeat Shou-Lao the Undying is how to not check out every mutant who flies by. Also helps to remember that Misty Knight will kick your ass.

There is raid content too, though I’ve never done that – I have too much fun playing each character to the cap and trying the next one.  Cyclops is next, after I finish Taskmaster and Rogue.  I’m also excited for the characters coming this year, as the Winter Soldier, Iron Fist, War Machine and Blade are all on the way.

2014-11-10_00002
One possible way to build Taskmaster.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out our Random Hero box giveaway!

Categories
Comics Life

The “For Boys” Problem

MattieCapSweatshirt
My girls!

This is my daughter, Mattie (and the back of my other daughter, Eva).  The girls have taken on my love of comics, mostly due to the show Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  M is wearing her new Captain America hoodie which may be her new favorite possession.  Upon seeing it in the store, Eva squealed “Daddy, do they have a THOR ONE???” but a quick check of the racks showed that they did not.  Hey, his last movie came out a while back.  So I did a search for ‘Thor hooded sweatshirt’, and the first link went to the Disney store.  As soon as the link loaded though, I rolled my eyes.  “Thor Costume Hoodie for Boys” it says.  The thing is, for a kid that is under say, 10, hoodies are all pretty much the same.  I had no problem buying that out of the ‘boys’ section, but a lot of people would avoid that.  Online, it shouldn’t even BE a problem.  Just tag it for both and drop the “for boys” out of the name.

It didn’t get any better when I scrolled to the bottom of the page.  Six more related items, all hoodies for Marvel heroes (and R2D2), all “for boys”.  The Thor character page for girls is desolate, with a Mr. Potato Head toy, a set of figurines, and Disney Infinity 2.0.  Last I checked, glasses, wall clings and books work the same for either gender.

BoysHoodies

I find the lack of Thor stuff for girls particularly funny right now, as Thor in the comics is going to BE a woman in just a few weeks.  Cosplayers of both genders have been dressing as Thor forever.  Women and girls go to comic book movies, they work in comic book stores, they read comics.  Why don’t the companies making this stuff get that?  There are sources for stuff at some of the more niche sites on the web, but most folks aren’t going to WeLoveFine or SuperheroStuff.  The girls who want to wear this now are the ones who will pick up a Spider-Man comic on a whim when they get to be teens, and will be filling Tumblr (or whatever fills that role in 10 years) with GIFs of whoever the next Hugh Jackman, Chris Evans or ScarJo is.

I hope this gets better.  DC and Marvel both have some really great books starring female heroes they could get more gear out there for, but sometimes your daughter just ends up loving Captain America, despite how many times you read Ms. Marvel or Captain Marvel around them.  Let’s support it, okay?

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Comics Review

Comic Book Review – Hellboy in Hell, Volume 1: The Descent

I think the Hellboy comics are going to be something I read in trades.  I love reading the story arcs all at once, and going back over and over to check out the art.  As an aside, if you haven’t checked out Mignola’s concept art for Disney’s Atlantis yet, go see it.  Really cool stuff.

I find myself in a tough place, reviewing these.  If I try to explain the story, it would take the fun out of it just a bit.  Creepy puppet show versions of Ebeneezer Scrooge and Jacob Marley, Hellboy’s half-brothers, the princes of Hell fleeing before him, the army that would be commanded by HB’s red right hand…suffice it to say there’s tons of cool stuff to see.  And if it doesn’t tell a super-cohesive story, well, I can forgive him that as the art is amazing.  Mignola, with colorist Dave Stewart, can evoke so much from a single panel.  Love it.

The individual issues are available now, and the collection of 1-5, titled “The Descent”, will be out May 14 (at least as of this writing).

Categories
Comics Review

Comic Book Review – 47 Ronin (Stan Sakai)

What, is this some sort of repeat?  Nope!  I got a copy of a totally different adaptation of the 47 Ronin story via NetGalley, this time drawn by Stan Sakai (of Usagi Yojimbo fame).  I won’t rehash the gist of the story but I will say I enjoyed this version quite a bit more.  It’s written by Mike Richardson, with editorial assistance by Kazuo Koike of Lone Wolf and Cub, and the prose here seems clearer, with fewer abrupt shifts into stereotypical ‘shouty Samurai’ the previous version I read had.  The team included a few more character moments and a bit more insight into the pain and suffering the 47 endured while waiting for their vengeance, and it makes all the difference.  Definitely well worth the time and effort (the link above is to the forthcoming collection, due out on March 4th).

Categories
Comics Movies

Ant-Man, Michael Douglas, and YOU

Casting news came down this week that Michael Douglas had signed on to play original Ant-Man Hank Pym in Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man, due out in 2015.  However, this came on the heels of Paul Rudd signing on to play Ant-Man…so who is it going to be?  Both, if they do it right.

EMH Ant-ManLike many hero identities over the years, the Ant-Man name has been held by a few different people, with Hank Pym and Scott Lang being two of them.  Pym created the technology to change his size, as well as the snazzy helmet you see to the right that allows him to control ants (and other closely related insects).  He fought alongside the Avengers, but after a while it got to him.  Hank was a scientist first, and after some setbacks he puts aside costumed crimefighting and rededicated himself to research.  That’s where the second Ant-Man comes in.  Scott Lang steals the Ant-Man gear in order to rob banks.  The reason why has varied in media portrayals, but it usually involves saving his daughter in some way (on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, which Edgar Wright watched for ‘Homework’ and is the source of this picture, Cassandra Lang had been kidnapped by a mob boss).

So where does that leave the movie?  Considering Michael Douglas’s age, the prevailing thought is he’s going to be a retired hero, possibly a SHIELD agent considering the group’s importance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  We know from The Incredible Hulk movie that research into new heroes continued long after Captain America was lost – it makes sense that we would’ve had a few active in the 60s or 70s.  Maybe we’ll see a young Fury, or an older Sharon Carter kicking some Cold War ass in a flashback.  Then, fast forward to the present day, where we have Scott Lang stealing the Ant-Man gear.  The Scott Lang story fits with Edgar Wright describing the movie as a ‘heist’ picture.

Changes are going to happen, when moving a character from comics to the big screen.  Many are wondering about Janet Van Dyne, Hank’s girlfriend/wife/ex-wife (it’s a comic book, it’s complicated).  Will she be in this at all?  She’s an Avenger too, as Wasp.  I can’t imagine them NOT wanting an attractive young woman in the movie – it’s Hollywood – but it remains to be seen if they have Janet involved.  I’ve seen Rashida Jones mentioned for the character, and I think she’s got a great look for Janet (see the comparison below).  Let me know if you have any questions, or comment below!

Wasp

Categories
Books Comics Review

Book Review – Runaways, Volume 1: Pride and Joy

What would you do if you found out your parents were supervillains?  That’s the basic question answered in Brian K. Vaughn’s (Saga) Runaways series.  Each year, 6 families come together for a meeting – the kids are told it’s to plan out charitable giving for the year.  “Good deeds should be done in secret, with no expectation of reward” Alex Wilder is lectured sternly before the guests arrive.  The other teens, and one pre-teen, cover the bases of typical kids, with a jock, a goth, nerdy girl, and so on.  There’s somebody for everybody to identify with.  Like any children surrounded by entertainment options, they get bored and decide to spy on their parents.  Things go south when they see their parents murder a young prostitute in some sort of dark ritual.  They just manage to avoid being spotted while spying, and decide together to try and find a way to stop their parents from doing whatever it is they are planning.  Seems like a tall order until they discover they all have some secret power of their own.  Gert has a telepathic bond with a dinosaur pet, Karolina is actually an alien with a superpowered physiology, Nico has magical abilities, Chase stole some high-tech gear from his parents, Molly, the pre-teen, is a powerful mutant, and Alex is a strategist.

If you think you know what’s going to happen from that, you don’t.  That’s the great thing about Runaways – there are some solid twists, and this first volume ends with a reveal that one of the kids is helping the Pride.  DundunDUNNNN.  Adrian Alphona’s art seems sunny and cheery, without the excessive details or heavy shadows of some modern comics, though you can feel the menace from the parents as they realize their kids know the secret of the Pride.

This volume covers the discovery of the Pride, their powers/gifts, and a daring rescue.  It’s a great starting point, and a good gift for a teen who has shown an interest in comics.