Category: Contributors

Graphic Spotlight: Bloodshot USA

In Jeff Lemire we trust!

It’s rare for a writer to go back-to-back for our Graphic Spotlight but Jeff Lemire’s a rarity. Last Wednesday he returned to his roots with the intimate and epic Roughneck. This week, Jeff Lemire builds to a crescendo of his two years writing Valiant’s super soldier with Bloodshot USA.

For those of you die-hard Jeff Lemire fans who haven’t been following his run on Bloodshot Reborn, you might have been missing out on the best book he’s been crafting on a monthly basis. A treatise on violence in america within an impossible redemption tale, Bloodshot Reborn has showcased an octave of Lemire’s voice unlike anything else he’s done in his prolific career. Fortunately, any reader can pick up his biggest Bloodshot story yet.

The most dangerous virus is a weapon created by Project Rising Spirit. Now this virus has been unleashed on New York City. It can turn the frailest of civilians into an army of indestructible soldiers. This end of days pathogen is meant to destroy enemy nations from the inside out and it’s turned on a city of eight million people. It’s designed to recreate Project Rising Spirit’s crowning achievement up to this point in any man, woman, or child: Bloodshot.

Who released the virus turning millions into unstoppable killing machines? Only one person can find out the answers, Bloodshot himself. He must go on the greatest mission of his life and invade native soil in order stop a pandemic that could topple governments around the world if it escapes New York.

Jeff Lemire continues his hot streak and is joined by a top-of-his-game Doug Braithwaite to tell one of the most ambitious and high stakes story since Valiant returned to comics five years ago.  A couple things are for sure: there’ll be traffic on the tunnels, the L train won’t be running, and you’re in for one bloody hell of a good time.

Collecting BLOODSHOT U.S.A. #1-4 and BLOODSHOT REBORN #0.

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Val’s Toy Chest- Tamashii Nations at Grand Central this Weekend and More

This weekend, Tamashii Nations will celebrate their 10th Anniversary by hosting a special event at Grand Central Terminal.  Tamashii Nations is known for their SH Figuarts series which includes plenty of Anime and Manga properties(Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, Ranma 1/2, Naruto) as well as Western licenses like DC and Marvel Comics, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Wars. Forbidden Planet has gotten in some swag if you are a Tamashii Nations fan which include free stickers if you present us with a flyer received at the Grand Central Terminal event and a free tote bag with any Tamashii Nations purchase made in our store, starting this Saturday, April 29th. Supplies are limited. Personally, I think the TMNT stuff has been pretty awesome and we still have some of the SH FiguArts Leonardo and Michelangelo figures in stock. So come in, check what we have out and also check out the event at Grand Central Terminal starting this Saturday at 9am and also on Sunday at 9am.  If you do go, Tamashii Nations will have some exclusive items for sale there as well as a display of new product and some interactive elements as well. It should be fun.

Lots of stuff should be arriving this week or next including the single Han Solo Hot Toys figure from Star Wars: The Force Awakens,  more Series 2 Rick and Morty POPs, as well as Westworld and a couple of the Gravity Falls ones.  A restock on the recent DC Multiverse wave featuring Hawkman, Jay Garrick and Zoom from the CW’s DCTV lineup, Jim Gordon Batman, the Batgirl of Burnside and Joker from Dark Knight Returns should also be here this week.

Basic Spider-Man: Homecoming figures have arrived and include three versions of Spider-Man as well as a figure of the Vulture. Each figure stands about 6″ tall and has limited articulation, but these are the first of what is sure to be a decent amount of merchandise for the eagerly anticipated Tom Holland movie. Other products we’ve received are the slightly larger action feature figures which include a Spider-Man with light up hands and a Vulture with flapping wings.

The latest wave of Power Rangers Legacy figures featuring the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers versions of the White and Yellow Rangers as well as Power Rangers in Space Pink, Black and Blue should be back in stock as you read this. The first time we got these in, they flew out of here, so I highly recommend that you get what you want before we sell out again.

Just in time to commemorate the 25th(!) Anniversary of Terminator 2, which is also receiving a 3D theatrical release later this year is a brand new figure of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 character.  The T-800 is seen in his Galleria outfit and features plenty of articulation as well as scene-accurate accessories and interchangeable heads with a great Arnold likeness. This one has been flying off the shelves and Arnold toys usually do well, so if you want one, grab one.

That’s all for me this week- catch you next time with all the latest in new toy releases!

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The Mystery of “The Button” Deepens In Flash #21

The Flash and Batman have the murder of the 25th century to solve in Flash #21!

Last week, DC’s follow up to their DC Universe: Rebirth #1 special kicked off in Batman #21 with the first installment of the four-parter titled, “The Button.” The titular button came out of the speed force and lodged itself into a Batcave wall. You might recognize this button as belonging to the Comedian from Alan Moore’s seminal Watchmen. It’s rather fitting, and in no way coincidental, that it’s the murder of the Comedian that kicked off the Hugo Award-winning series decades ago and another murder is what sets this adventure by DC’s two greatest detective in motion.

Yes, they killed SPOILER. After a flash of blue lightning, SPOILER, made a final claim that could have fallen deaf on the Dark Knight’s unconscious bat-ears or perhaps it will be the “Rosebud” of this entire tale. We’ll see soon enough. Of course, SPOILER wasn’t the only pre-New 52 character that showed up last week, SPOILER also made a brief cameo and you can bet SPOILER will end up being a major player in this plot as it kicks into the next gear.

One chapter and epic lenticular cover is in the books, this week we’re going to be treated to another. Will Batman and Flash be able to figure out the multiple mysteries before them? Is SPOILER dead for keeps? Will we ever get more answers than questions in a damn comic book? Jump right in, the rumoring waters are white hot.

Yeah, I’m avoiding the names, sue me. You want to know what happened? Get the comic!

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Clone Call In Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #1

Heeeeeeee’s Baaaaaaack!

Yes, that’s right you’re reading this correctly, THE Ben Reilly is web-slinging is his way into an all-new ongoing series, Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #1. One of the most polarizing characters in the history of comic books is starting a new chapter where his fate will hang in a balancing act between the hero he aspires to become again versus the villain his flaws led him to recently being. Can this unhinged clone of your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man find his way back onto the righteous path?

After the events of The Clone Conspiracy, most all of us readers thought that Ben Reilly has met his maker for the umpteenth time. Turns out….psych! Ben’s back but sure as heck doesn’t have it all together. Haunted by warring parts of his psyche, Ben is torn between finding his way back to the days when he wanted to be the best hero out there and falling back into his recently resurrecting ways. Far from home, this new old Scarlet Spider is going to have a lot on his plate right from the get-go.

Peter David‘s no stranger to dealing with characters that have, um, identity issues. See his entire run on X-Factor for more. Nor is he a stranger to the Spider-Man corner of the Marvel Universe (Spider-Man 2099, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, Death of Jean Dewolff). Now, though, Peter David has set himself up with the task of crafting the character journey for a man who’s talking to the manifestation of his hoodied hero former self on one shoulder and the masked villain he’s running from being on the other shoulder. With all the voices he hears in his head, not all comfort him or understand, will Peter David be able to lead Ben Reilly back into the hearts of the public and the readers? Well, not if Kaine kills him first!

Welcome to Sin City, Ben Reilly. What are the odds you make it out alive? Find out this week in Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #1.

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Creative Conversation With Adam Gorham

Adam Gorham is a rising star in comics. Don’t believe me? What else would you call someone who’s being shot straight to the stars by drawing one of Marvel’s highest profile characters with a movie coming out? Plus, the fact it’s a cosmic character with space crime overtones. Adam Gorham’s a model of work ethic and determination, not to mention humility. He gives us a rough outline of his journey thus far, what we can expect from the upcoming Rocket #1 out on May 10th and offers sage advice to artists drawing their own path in the industry.

MK: Adam, thank you so much for having a Creative Conversation with me today. One of the questions I always like to start with is, do you remember the first comic you owned or the first one that made an impression on you?

AG: the pleasure is mine! I’m excited to talk about Rocket with my pal Matt Klein!

MK: Nice rhyme.

AG: Totally unintentional. I amaze myself (laughs). The first comic I owned and really cherished, and has left an impact on me to this day, is Batman: The Cult, the graphic novel. My father got it for me, probably without even looking inside of it. This was when comics were at their height in the 90’s and the local newspaper and cigar shop sold comics. Bernie Wrightson’s work was my first major influence.

MK: I freaking love that book. I mean, Jim Starlin and Bernie Wrightson, it’s a gem. In talking with people in shops that’s an often undiscovered gem. You mentioned Bernie Wrightson as your first major influence, who were some others at different points in your journey to today?

AG: Well, I loved comics as a kid, but rarely read them. I liked them for the art and would draw what I saw. All the mythos and lore I got loosely from 90’s cartoons like [Batman: TAS], Spider-Man, X-Men, etc. so without knowing many names at the time, I was certainly informed by the heavyweights of the 90’s. However, I fell out of comics around ten or so, about the time when kids let go of their “kids stuff”. I didn’t get back into loving comic artwork until eleventh grade, and that was after discovering Alex Ross, particularly Kingdom Come.

MK: So good!

AG: It was a revelation for me. Ross’ work was the first time for me that comic art felt like classic works of art that could be hung somewhere.  When I started getting back into it, I was in love with what Bryan Hitch was doing on The Ultimates. In fact, I really liked Ultimate Marvel at the time. Leinil Yu was another favorite.

MK: There was a ton of top talent working on Marvel’s Ultimate Universe at that point. Do you have a favorite Ultimate Universe run or story?

AG: Well I really liked the Ultimate X-Men stuff for a while. The first arc was epic. I enjoyed most of Return to Weapon X. Ultimates 2 probably stands apart though as the height of those titles.it took FOREVER for it to come out, but in the end it was pretty satisfying

MK: Great art can be worth the wait. How did you come to the decision that working in comics was what you wanted to do?

AG: I drew all my life. That’s not saying much. Most kids love to draw. However, I was always applauded for how well I drew for my age, so I grew up with drawing as “my thing.” And for a long time that was enough. I didn’t have a direct application or career in mind for it, but I excelled at drawing superheroes, so comics seemed an obvious choice. The only thing is, I was a terrible student with no ambition. Drawing comics as a career was an easy thing to talk about, but pursuing it was murky and not always tangible. I did go to art school and flamed out because, as I say, terrible student. Ultimately, after a few years of working one dirty job or another, my partner dragged me to my first comic convention and really opened up my eyes to this world I’d previously only known through Wizard magazines and comic shops. I was working in a grocery warehouse. Things with my significant other were getting serious. We wanted to start a new chapter in our lives and it became clear I needed a new goal in life. Or a goal in life. So when I left the warehouse job, I went for broke and looked for a job illustrating. I found one off Craigslist (laughs).

MK: What was the job?

AG: My first ever gig drawing comics was a 128-page graphic novel, written by a Canadian film director who wanted to adapt his indie vampire movie into a comic. Before that I had drawn a few scant pages for my own ideas. And once I started there was no looking back.

MK: That sounds a bit like you jumped into the deep end with a 128 page project right off the bat!

AG: Totally. It was the first opportunity I found and I seized it. I didn’t know how or where else to find work. In the past I had sent submissions to publishers, back when most publishers still took open submissions. I have a polite and informative rejection letter from Marvel, actually.

MK: That’s freaking awesome though! You talked about going to a convention kind of blew open your mind about comics and the industry. As an artist, how do you like conventions now being on the other side of the table? because I remember that’s how we met and i bugged you for a sketch that i recently proudly showed off to io9.

AG: Going as a fan and going as part of your job are two very different experiences. Pros and cons to each side. When I went as fan all I could think about was getting comics signed and saying, “Hi” to people I admired. I put myself through crazy lines and jumped through hoops to meet creators like Alex Ross, Brian Bolland and so on. It was fun but exhausting. You really invested a part of yourself. As soon as I started tabling, that was out the window. It’s not like I made a conscious decision to regard conventions differently. It’s just that creating a book and taking it to market changes your priorities.

MK: it’s part of your business. you’re a brand now with obligations.

AG: Precisely.

MK: Do you have any memorable requests from fans at conventions? Or any favorite sketches you’ve done?

AG: I’ve never had a bizarre request. Everything I’ve been asked to draw has been pretty fun, although I think I’ve only recently started drawing well at conventions. The past couple years I’ve improved, whereas drawing at a table was an uncomfortable experience. I got the hang of it though. So anything beyond a year or two ago I look back on and cringe. Your Man-Bat is a favorite of mine. I did a Frank Miller Dark Knight at NYCC that was very nice.

Man-Bat sketch by Adam Gorham

MK: if you could go back some years, what advice would you give yourself about being a comic book artist?

AG: With hindsight there’s so much I would impart. My problems starting out was, I thought I knew just how much work was involved with making comics. I would go back and tell myself “Nope. Work harder.” One thing I tell others is not to feel beholden to any one thing they’ve drawn. Draftsmanship is so very important. teaching yourself to draw things over and over, refining, and not being precious about something because you spend an hour on it. Your ideas and skill will always improve with every pass if you put in the effort, so it’s crazy to me to draw something once and thinking, “Well, I can see this is off, this other thing is wonky, but I just spent two hours drawing it, so good enough.” I’ve redrawn entire pages because a better idea struck me while I was driving home or at the store or on a walk.

MK: How many hours a day do you draw?

AG: I draw every day. Working constantly. Some days I work eight hours and others twelve or sixteen. Depends on where I’m at. I have two kids that, once they’re home, I can’t do anything else until they’re in bed. So I don’t always draw as much as I want to in a work day. But I try to make up with time later

MK: That’s incredibly intimidating and inspiring at the same time (laughs). Let’s pivot real quick to your ridiculously exciting new series coming up. So, congratulations on being the artist on the upcoming Rocket #1 with Al Ewing. It seems like a pretty awesome moment to be working on this character with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 coming out so close to the release of the series. When you got the gig, how was the book described to you?

AG: It was a thrilling experience for me because of the sheer amount of suspense involved.

I was wrapping up The Violent at Image.

MK: Lovely book if i might add.

AG: I was worried what I’d move on to. Like, I had some options, and I had some ideas of what step to take next. I was gutted, to be honest, because i wanted The Violent to carry on. Ed [Brisson] had this great idea for the next chapter and I was ready for it. So, I was sweating it a little. Then later one afternoon while I was at the supermarket Ii got an email from Marvel asking if I was interested in working for them. That alone was very exciting, but it could’ve meant anything from a cover to a tie-in or whatever

MK: Sure.

AG: But naturally I said yes. they told me they’d have some information in a couple days. For two days my mind went WILD with possibilities

MK: Was Rocket Raccoon on that list of possibilities?

AG: Ha! No. I figured since I had just done a street level crime comic, something like Punisher or whatever would be the obvious route. I met with a good friend of mine, Michael Walsh, who was doing Rocket and Groot at the time. We were giddy over what it could be, no matter how small. When Marvel offered me a new #1 ongoing, I was intoxicated. Like, it wasn’t even that it was Rocket. At the time, we were calling it something else. The change of name was also in the cards. But the fact I’d be coming on with such a great opportunity was unreal. Anyway, when we finally got talking about what the book would be, my place as an artist began to make sense.

MK: How so? And this is an interesting pattern here, your first comic is a 128 page book, your first gig at Marvel is an ongoing for one of the most publicly recognized characters! You’re really seizing these opportunities that not everybody gets. It’s inspiring.

AG: I forget who exactly gave me the lowdown, but they said the vision for this book would be Rocket in his element pulling heists in space. In conversation we compared it to Parker graphic novels. Al [Ewing] had this idea to use prose, reinforcing the theme of a hard-boiled thriller. So right away we talked about how pages would be structured to accommodate Al’s prose. and how Rocket’s default outfit in this series would be a suit, open collar, no tie. Parker, even Daniel Ocean make good comparisons, but our Rocket has a broken heart that reminds me more of George Clooney’s Jack Foley from “Out of Sight.”

MK: You just named one of my top 10 favorite films of all time!

AG: IT’S SO GOOD! Fun story about that movie. When I was a kid I was grounded. I forget why, but I know I earned it. My parents left to get groceries one saturday afternoon. While they were out my friends called asking if I’d go to the movies with them. Somehow I thought I could sneak out, see a two hour movie, and bus it home before they ever got home. The only thing playing at the theatre was “Out of Sight” which I had seen ads for but wasn’t the type of movie I was rushing to see at the time. Man, oh man, it was the coolest thing I ever saw at that point.

MK: Uh, yeah! Seriously, anybody reading this who hasn’t seen “Out of Sight” needs to immediately go watch it!

AG: And I felt like such a smooth operator for sneaking out to see this slick flick. I was like, twelve or thirteen at the time. I can’t recall. But I walked out of the theatre like, “Look at me now, world!”

MK: Did you get busted?

AG: Oh, of course! My parents were out of the house for maybe an hour, discovered I took off, and had three hours to sit and plan my punishment. I walked into verbal cannon fire.

MK: That’s epic. Okay, we’re in the home stretch here. If someone’s been living in a bubble for the last few years and has no idea who Rocket is, how would you describe your new series to them?

AG: First off, congratulations on leaving your bubble. Let me introduce you to Rocket: he’s a scruffy outlaw, a lost soul, a space raccoonoid looking for his place in the galaxy when he’s not saving it with the Guardians. That place usually ends up being a dangerous one, where he’s risking it for, surprisingly, a chance at love lost. If that doesn’t work out, then cold revenge.

MK: Who is on your Mount Rushmore of comics?

AG: I forget how many heads are on Rushmore, but let’s say four, and my Rushmore of Comics is comprised of: Frank Quitely, Alex Ross, Bernie Wrightson, and Moebius.

MK: That’s an eclectic looking Mount Rushmore!

AG: Rushmore is really weird, when you think about it.

MK:  Last but not least: If you meet someone that’s never read a comic before, what 5 reads would you tell them to pick up?

AG: For Golden Age adventure, I recommend Prince Valiant. For super heroics I recommend All-Star Superman. For horror I’d suggest Afterlife With Archie. For great crime, if you’ve already read The Violent, be sure to check out Ed Brisson’s Murder Book. For sci-fi, Black Science is pretty neat.

MK: Adam, thank you so much for giving me this time. I really appreciate you, man. I can’t wait to read Rocket #1.

Make sure you pre-order Rocket #1 at Forbidden Planet now and pick it up on Wednesday, May 10th when it arrives in store.

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Marvel’s Endgame Begins in Secret Empire #0

The Marvel Universe’ Hostile Takeover Begins in Secret Empire #0

Now, for fans of the House of Ideas, this week is the start of a hotly debated event. There’s a lot of heat in the discussions for many reasons, but one started a while back in Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, where it was revealed that “Old Reliable” himself is in fact an undercover agent of Hydra. A lot of readers were left shaking their fists while others were scratching their heads.

From there, the nature of Steve’s history having been altered by the Red Skull tweaking with a cosmic cube filled in some back story but the path to Cap and Hydra’s endgame was unclear. Like DC did with their DC Universe: Rebirth #1 one-shot, Marvel used a tentpole release to further build the foundation for this company altering event. As the dust settled on Civil War II, Steve Rogers was appointed the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and thanks to the S.H.I.E.L.D. Act, he now has more authority than any director before him (sorry, Nick Fury!).

Meanwhile, Cap’s been orchestrating a Chitauri invasion of Earth which, based on the preview pages released, looks like will be a focal point in Secret Empire #0. Add in the death of Jack Flag, the trial of Maria Hill, and the dispatching of the Red Skull in his series’ last issue, and Steve Rogers is set to run the table all in the name of Hydra. Who can stop, arguably, the former greatest and most beloved hero in the history of the Marvel Universe? Apparently, it’s going to take everybody!

Rumors run rampant about what Marvel’s status quo will be after the Secret Empire’s saga is done. Will Steve Rogers be returned to the good ole Captain America he once was? So soon after the casualties from Civil War II, could other beloved characters be sacrificed or terminated with extreme prejudice? Will Ulysses’ vision of Hydra’s dark reign over the world come true? Or will this lead to something even more game changing than even Secret Wars did less than two years ago? Is their Rebirth or a “New 52” style reboot?

The journey to all of our answers will begin in this special zero issue from Steve Rogers scribe Nick Spencer and artists Daniel Acuña and Rod Reiss. Marvel fans, are, you rrrrrrrrready?

 

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DC Rebirth’s Ticking Clock Starts As “The Button” Begins In Batman #21

DC’s two greatest detectives come together in Batman #21 as the mystery of “The Button” begins!

A good slow build is something we comic book readers don’t always appreciate nowadays. We’re becoming a culture of bingers who want the whole story on demand. It has to be on our time and oftentimes that means publishers rush through the journey. With “The Button” storyline that will take place across Batman and Flash over the next four weeks, DC Comics is looking to prove that sometimes the best things are ones we can endure waiting for.

At last, the next major step forward from the revelations of DC Universe: Rebirth #1 about the iconic smiley face button that appears in the Batcave will be explored! Will it bring the DCU that much closer to confronting the world of Alan Moore’s Watchmen? Well, we’ve been marching there all along haven’t we?

Rooted from last FCBD’s DC Rebirth story, then continuing with continuity-threatening revelations from DC Universe: Rebirth #1, this story has been building across several titles in DC for a year. Think about it, Mr. Oz and the events of the recent Superman Reborn storyline, the implications about Eobawd Thawne and Flashpoint-Batman, Thomas Wayne in Flash #19, the importance of Psycho-Pirate’s ability to remember all previous DC continuities throughout Tom King’s current run on Batman, it’s all building to this next major turning point.

Thawne, Thomas Wayne, and Psycho Pirate will be part of the mystery that Batman and Flash will be investigating. Time altering implications have been promised. This is the next major step forward in the two year epic that DC’s said will carry on across their entire publishing line. It’s no secret that after this story, Batman will realize that war is imminent. But war with who or what?

A kudos to DC, it’s not easy anymore to make us wait for all the answers but based on the quality of the breadcrumbs they’ve been leaving us, it definitely feels like the answers we’re about to get could be very satisfying. Of course, everything won’t be revealed over the next four weeks. After all, where’s the fun in that? Hey, maybe I’m wrong though, maybe what a Comedian once said is true, “This is a joke. This is all a joke.” If it is, will we be laughing or cringing when it’s done?

We’ll begin to find out in Batman #21.

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- A Funko Kind of Week

Hey there- not the biggest week for toys this week, though you can always rely on Funko for providing us some cool stuff to talk about. Some news on our next Hot Toys release and some brief odds and ends round out this week’s column.

Funko continues to release product from pretty much every license under the sun as evidenced by this week’s product.  With a revival on the horizon for later this year on Showtime, Funko has crafted an awesome four pack based on David Lynch’s cult classic Twin Peaks. If you’ve been in the store recently, you’ve probably seen the recent POP vinyl figures, both Dale and Laura are currently sold out, but Bob, Audrey and the Log Lady are still available. The aforementioned four pack features four different characters and are part of Funko’s new 3 3/4″ action figure line(that replaced ReAction figures). Dale Cooper, Laura Palmer, The Log Lady and Bob comprise the set and each figure is sculpted really well, particularly for this scale. Dale, Bob and The Log Lady each come with an accessory, while Laura is wrapped in plastic. One of Funko’s other releases in this series was Suicide Squad, based on last year’s movie. The last figure to arrive is Will Smith’s Deadshot, who features at least 9 points of articulation and an accessory.

Looney Tunes provides the characters that comprise our next few releases- from the DORBZ line comes Elmer Fudd, ready to look for that Wascally Wabbit, as well as Pete Puma, most famous for his disastrous tea party with Bugs Bunny. And speaking of that wabbit- Bugs headlines the new series of POP vinyls based on the 1990s film, Space Jam.  Characters that we’ve received thus far include Bugs Bunny, Swackhammer, M3 Blue Monstar and Marvin Martian.  Other products based on these characters should be in soon including Taz from the Space Jam line as well as Daffy and Bugs DORBZ. Keep checking!

A pair of comic book characters, one from a TV adaptation, the other from a pin-up line of statues are next up- Netflix has had plenty of success with their new streaming Marvel TV series. The first of these Daredevil, completed its second season last year and Funko now has product from the three most prominent characters that season- you’ve seen the season 2 Daredevil, as well as Elektra over the past few weeks- now get ready for- The Punisher!  Based on ex-Walking Dead actor Jon Bernthal- the Punisher POP comes dressed in his long trenchcoat, signature skull shirt as well as a heavy duty firearm. If Frank Castle is your fave- I’d recommend you grab this one now, especially with the Punisher’s own Netflix series recently wrapping production.

Briefly:

Joining her Suicide Squad brethren comes the Mafex version of Harley Quinn as portrayed by Margot Robbie.  Harley is fully articulated and comes with a variety of accessories to maximize your posing possibilities.

The next Hot Toys to arrive will be the Han Solo and Chewbacca 2 pack from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, following shortly after that is the single-packed Han Solo figure also based on his appearance in The Force Awakens.   If you’ve been in lately, the solo Chewbacca figure has been on display for a bit and looks really cool. The 2-pack should be popular since you can get both in one shot.

Sideshow recently released some new pieces in their 1/6 horror line- this includes Beetlejuice, Ash and now straight from Camp Crystal Lake- Jason Voorhees. Jason comes prepared to murder some teenagers with a couple of sharp weapons in his arsenal- the axe and the machete. Jason is on the prowl waiting to stalk your 1/6 collection. Later this year from the line- FREDDY!

Anyway- that’s all from me this week- see you around the store!

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Graphic Spotlight – Roughneck

Jeff Lemire explores the dangers of hockey, heritage, and the haunting of our mistakes in this new OGN!

It’s no secret that Jeff Lemire is one of the busiest writers in all of comics. Between his work for Marvel, Valiant, and Image he currently has at least six titles coming out (Old Man Logan, Descender, Bloodshot Reborn, Royal City, A.D. After Death, Moon Knight) and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head! Add in his previous body of work at DC Comics and Vertigo and you wonder how the heck he finds time to sleep, eat, or create his latest character study, Roughneck.

Roughneck takes Lemire back to his roots, closer to the likes of his seminal opus, Essex County, which in 2010 was named one of the five Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade by CBC. After five years, Roughneck finally arrives on shelves this week, that he not only wrote but also drew. That’s right, over 270 pages of brand-new Jeff Lemire artwork is coming our way! The story?

Roughneck centers around siblings Derek and Beth. Derek Oullette was a hockey enforcer whose best days are behind him. Derek, now living off of his reputation and his fading glory since a violent incident on the ice ended his career, is back home in the small northern Canadian community where he grew up. He drinks too much and fights anybody on a whim. When his estranged sister, Beth, comes home to escape her abusive boyfriend’s torturous treatment, she and Derek make an excursion to a hunting camp in the woods where they hope to escape the seemingly cursed nature of their family. Unfortunately, the demons of their world won’t give up on them that easily, as Beth’s ex-boyfriend comes closer to finding them, threatening to shatter their newfound peace after fighting so hard to leave their paths of self-destruction behind them.

For fans of Jeff Lemire this is a homecoming. Definitely welcome Roughneck with open arms.

 

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Marvel’s Past Matters in Black Panther & The Crew #1

The Crew returns as Black Panther’s world expands to Harlem in this new series!

Ta-Nehisi Coates has been building up an unstoppable force in Black Panther’s ever growing corner of the Marvel Comics Universe. After selling 300,000 copies of Black Panther #1 last year, a second book was launched by Coates, Roxann Gay, and poet Yona Harvey in Black Panther World of Wakanda. Now, Coates and Harvey are going to put a new twist on a little known but much beloved concept from  Marvel’s past in Black Panther & The Crew #1 this week.

It’s a book reflecting the issues of today and connecting them also to issues from Marvel’s past. The book begins with an activist dying in police custody. T’Challa assembles his team of Luke Cage, Storm, Misty Knight, and Manifold to investigate what really happened in Harlem. Coates has made it clear that he lived in Harlem for seven years and there’s a lot of love for the neighborhood being put into this book. Now, it’s comics, so nothing will be as it first appears but what is certain are the powerhouses involved in crafting a story that showcases the bonds betweens wounds of the past creating scars in the present. We’ll see a group of heroes that have histories of saving both the streets and the world challenged in new ways they haven’t quite experienced before.

Make no bones about it, this book is a must-read first issue. Well? What are you doing still reading this? Go grab it off the shelf right now!

 

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Val’s Toy Chest- Buffy Turns 20, Star Wars Turns 40…

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is quite possibly my favorite TV series of all time. It also turned 20 years old this year, which is quite jarring considering that was the same year I graduated high school. I bring up Buffy in this week’s column because I finally got to meet Sarah Michelle Gellar last week. Sarah was promoting a new cookbook that she wrote at Barnes and Noble. Unfortunately B&N changed their picture policy at the last minute, so no shot of me and Sarah to share with you all. That being said, Sarah was nice and I was thrilled to meet Buffy herself during the year of her anniversary. Sarah is also the latest member of the Buffy cast that I have had the pleasure to interact with as well.

As with Star Trek, my first introduction to Buffy was through the toys- I remember checking out the Moore Action Collectibles line and falling in love with the Buffy Season 3 Cordelia figure since she had a real chain on her purse. Little details like that was what compelled me to start collecting the line and also start watching the show. Cordy has been my favorite Buffyverse character and Charisma Carpenter my favorite Buffyverse actress since then.

What I enjoyed most about the show was of course the strong female protagonists, the humor and the action. I can put on an episode of Buffy and get drawn right back into the story and the characters.

Moore eventually released 4 waves of Buffy figures and 1 from Buffy’s spinoff, Angel but closed their doors before releasing Buffy Series 5 and Angel Series 2. Diamond Select Toys picked up the license and the molds for both series and released them under the Moore brand name in 2004. After Buffy Series 6(the Tara and Anya wave), and Angel Series 3(Wesley and Lorne)- Diamond started crafting their own figures which had nice sculpts but ended up being too tall for the rest of the line. Diamond would continue the Buffy line through 2007 ending with a super-articulated line featuring Kendra, Willow and Kennedy. The Buffy figure license would also be covered by 12″ Sideshow line as well as the more recent Funko ReAction figures and POPs.

Speaking of anniversaries, this year is also Star Wars‘ 40th Anniversary(and Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s 30th, but that’s a tale for another time…). To celebrate, Hasbro has decided to rerelease a bunch of the 6″ Star Wars Black figures in brand-new packaging based on the Kenner vintage figures’ cardbacks. We should be receiving our first batch of figures from this series this week. Figures in the first wave including Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia Organa, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo and R2-D2. There will be a few new characters in the next wave which should be out later this year. Star Wars enthusiasts late to the Star Wars Black line will especially want to pay attention to Han and R2, as both figures have been long unavailable since their initial release a few years back.

The other big news is that we have received POPs of my most anticipated super hero film this year- Wonder Woman! Currently in stock are Wonder Woman herself, Steve Trevor and Hippolyta. Each POP stands about 3 3/4″ tall and have highly detailed sculpting. Wonder Woman has been selling steadily and I anticipate we’ll be sold out by next week. Other Funko Wonder Woman products include the POP keychain and a Rock Candy of Diana in her Amazonian attire. That won’t be all the Wonder Woman toys we’ll be getting either as I have Multiverse 6″ and 12″ figures as well as 12″ dolls on the way. I’ll definitely talk about the other Wonder Woman stuff as it comes in.

To celebrate Buffy’s 20th- here’s my five favorite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

5. “Hush”(Season 4)- Joss Whedon had a brilliant idea to craft an episode where there is no speech for a majority of the runtime, so everything had to be acted out to convey whatever meaning he was trying to get across. Joss would later do an episode with no music(Season 5’s “The Body”), as well as an all-musical episode(Season 6’s “Once More with Feeling”)- this one started it all and is quite a great and scary episode.

4. “Becoming, Part 2” (Season 2)- The culmination of season 2 finds Buffy trying her hardest to save Angel even though he was now soulless and bent on destroying the world. Buffy has to make a heartbreaking decision and it still gets to me every time I watch it.

3. “Prophecy Girl” (Season 1)- I’ve always maintained that if you don’t fall in love with the show after watching the season 1 ender, Buffy was probably not for you. New alliances are formed, the Big Bad is vanquished and the Slayer actually DIES for a spell. Definitely a strong performance from Gellar when she tells Giles that she’s only 16 years old and doesn’t want to die- even though the prophecy says she will.

2. “The Wish” (Season 3)- Cordelia’s had her heart broken by Xander and wishes that Buffy never came to Sunnydale with nightmarish results after vengeance demon(and future girlfriend of Xander) Anyanka fulfills that very wish. Xander and Willow are vampires, Angel is imprisoned and Buffy is no-nonsense but extremely reckless. Great use of the alternate universe trope.

1. “Passion” (Season 2)- Hands down, my all time favorite episode, this one has everything from an evil Angel terrorizing all of Buffy’s friends and family to the heartbreaking murder(performed by Angelus) of one of the more prominent recurring characters during the first two seasons.  This episode changed everything about the show and showed that all bets were off.

That’s all for me this week- see you next time!

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What’s Old Is New Again in X-Men Blue #1

Marvel wants to give you the blues, but in a good way.

Last week we had something old in X-Men Gold #1, with the veterans of the currently in-continuity corner of the Marvel Universe. I dare say, if you’ve read that single issue yet that they also gave you something borrowed (e.g. the name of the central villain). This week Marvel wants to bring you something new and something blue, in X-Men Blue #1. How successful are they? That’s for you, dear readers, to decide.

The time-displaced X-Men originals are launching a new chapter of their own adventures. If you’ve been looking to see the classic X-Men team of the Lee and Kirby kicking bad guys in the face front and center here’s your opportunity. Marvel Girl leads Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, and Angel in this first issue establishing old and new threats to the original Fab Five. However, how will this team of old school X-Men deal with their new mentor, their formerly sword enemy, Magneto! If you’ve been following the Master of Magnetism’s journey over the last few years you get a sense that there’re going to be a lot of clashes right from the get-go. Will this team be broken before it can truly function together?

In the wake of Inhumans Vs. X-Men, this is going to be the team you lean on for a note of  nostalgia and, Marvel seems to hope, a way to bring younger readers a taste of something that feels fresh. Since retro’s a thing that I’m told’s mostly “in” these days, this would appear to be Marvel’s way of reaching out to that demographic. Can you put a new shine on a classic line up? Will there be enough new and enough familiar in a perfect recipe of easy to digest comic adventures? We’re going to find out this New Comic Book Day when X-Men Blue #1 hits shelves.

Cullen Bunn is no stranger to Magneto or tackling complex villains and delicate group dynamics. Will he, along with explosive artists Jorge Molina and Matteo Buffagni, bring us the next renaissance of X-Men stories? We have to read to find out.

 

 

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Graphic Spotlight – Savage

The most dangerous game involves dinosaurs and soccer stars in this new epic adventure!

Valiant has been on a hot streak lately with new adventures for established characters in titles like X-O Manowar #1 and with new faces in recent collections like Divinity, Britannia, and with this week’s new release, Savage. In a day and age where there’re so many titles fighting for your hard-earned dollars, quality is king. Fortunately, Valiant looks to be making another strong case with this mini-series at a $9.99 price tag.

The story’s a fun premise to begin. A famous soccer star and his wife who used be a supermodel (I’m sure in no way related to Victoria and David Beckham), disappeared nearly fifteen years ago. There’s been no sighting of them since. To the world they were fish food after taking off on a final flight on their private jet. The world doesn’t know the true story but now you will discover their fate and the fate of the child she was carrying.

On an uncharted island filled with dangers unbeknownst by modern man, they will struggle to hang on to their humanity in the face of prehistoric threats. Yeah that’s right, freakin’ dinosaurs! Of course, dinosaurs won’t be the only challenges they encounter. Their journey from stars to savages is charted in this pulse pounding chronicle.

From the scripts of B. Clay Moore (Aloha, Hawaiian Dick) and then mastery of Clayton Henry (Archer & Armstrong) and Lewis LaRosa (Bloodshot Reborn), whose goal in life is to live in Jurassic Park, you’re getting incredible depictions of dinosaur hunting, drug running, plane crashes, and survival on instinct alone. Did you want “Jurassic Park” meets “Lost” with a splash of “Castaway”? Because if you didn’t know you should have wanted that, now you do.

Collecting SAVAGE #1-4.

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Get The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of In Black Cloud #1

Every dream has its price, what will you pay?

What would a Wednesday be without Image Comics debuting what looks like a genre-twisting new series? This week looks it looks like readers will be getting quite the delight in Black Cloud #1, a  series where every person’s dream is linked to a different world and everyone’s dreams are for sale if the price is right. Dark and trippy days are coming in this epic noir fantasy featuring an exiled dream who’s trapped in our realm. With a lovely nod, her name is Zelda.

Scribes Jason Latour (Spider-Gwen, Southern Bastards,  Ivan Brandon (Drifter), artist Greg Hinkle (Rattler, Airboy) and colors by Matt Wilson (The Wicked + The Divine) introduce Zelda as someone who was bon in a world of dreams. Hers though were apparently too big and burned too bright than her world could handle. So, she’s been kicked over to our plane of existence but she apparently holds the key to getting back into her world, where dreams go to war, and some lose.

Stuck in our world, Zelda carries with her broken dreams and needs a way to survive. Enter the rich and powerful, who are willing to pay for the pieces if they’re for sale. Dealing in a new black market of make-believe, where everyone’s story is literally magic, Zelda soon is on the run from more than just her own world before long.

The world we know is about to intersect with the worlds we can only imagine. When they collide, who will be safe, will Zelda be able to create safe passage home, and what new dreams will dare to be crafted? The power lies in the dreamer…until the dreams decide they’ve had enough.

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Val’s Toy Chest- DC Icons and More

This week’s new toy releases focus on several major characters from DC’s pantheon. Included are DC’s premier heroine, a Milestone mainstay, one of the Titans’ greatest foes, a former Titan turned Justice Leaguer and the protector of the green.

DC Icons makes a huge splash this week with four new single-packed figures and one deluxe figure pack. Wonder Woman as seen in the Justice League: The Amazo Virus, Static, Deathstroke the Terminator from The Judas Contract, Cyborg from Forever Evil and Swamp Thing from Dark Genesis are the latest characters to receive a DC Icons figure. Each figure comes with dedicated accessories such as an Un-Man for Swamp Thing, interchangeable arms and a generator for Cyborg, a lasso, sword and shield for Wonder Woman, electrical effects for Static and an arsenal of weapons for Deathstroke. This is in addition to the usual interchangeable hands that come with the figures.

Everyone’s favorite vampire hunter- Blade is joining the POP vinyl family this week with the release of the Previews Exclusive Marvel Heroes Blade POP Vinyl. Blade features the character with his teeth bared clad in black leather and brandishing a sword. Blade should be a popular one so get him while you can. Significant recent POP vinyl releases include Mr. Poopy Butthole from Rick and Morty, Cat in the Hat and Dr. Seuss POPs and Herry Monster from Sesame Street.

The latest wave of Power Rangers Legacy figures should be hitting our shelves this week. This new wave features the last figure to build the classic Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Megazord with the release of that series’ Yellow Ranger, other figures in the set include the White Ranger from MMPR, plus the Black, Blue and Pink Rangers from Power Rangers in Space. Along those lines, we should be getting another small shipment of the Voltron Legendary Defenders line. Specifically the Red, Blue, Yellow and Green Lions.

We got in a small restock on older and some new Bandai items this week including Bruce Lee figures, The Joker from Suicide Squad, some Dragon Ball Z, Ranma 1/2 and Sailor Moon characters. I don’t know how long these figures will last as some of these haven’t been in the store in ages. Part of this Bandai shipment included new Tamashii Buddies of the Pink and Red Ranger and Lord Zedd from MMPR and a new line of Star Wars model kits.

Briefly:

Legends of Tomorrow’s season finale aired this week, while Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl are all on hiatus til the end of the month. Will the Legends defeat the Legion of Doom and destroy the Spear of Destiny? We’ll know the answer to this by the time this article sees print.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year and I will do a brief retrospective on the toys and the show in the next column.

Spider-Man Legends are back again with Shocker, Spidey 2099, Ms. Marvel, Black Costume Spidey, Green Goblin, The Jackal and Spidey-UK all gracing our store shelves once more.

That’s all for me this week- catch you all next time!

 

 

 

 

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