Tagged: Cyclops

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Creative Conversation: Ibrahim Moustafa

Welcome to a Creative Conversation with creator Ibrahim Moustafa. Here we give you a chance to get inside the mind, learn some in depth background, and discuss the creative process of some of comics’ best writers and artists. In our first Creative Conversation I had the opportunity to speak with the artist behind Vertigo’s smashingly good new series, “Savage Things.” If the Bourne franchise went down the horror route, you have an inkling of what’s in store for you with this book. Ibrahim gives a better sum up a little further down. We talked about first comics, must reads, stories that stick with us as young comic fans, how this new series came about and who would be on Ibrahim’s own personal Mount Rushmore of comic book artists. Agree? Disagree? Find out!

MK: So let’s start with a little background because in all our conversations I’m not sure I know this: How did your journey lead you to working in comics?

IM: I was always drawing as a kid, and some of my earliest memories are of watching the Christopher Reeve “Superman” movies. Not long after that I discovered the Ninja Turtles and Batman 66 TV shows, and was obsessed with them all. I had and read a few comics as a kid and was always drawing the aforementioned. I got much more into collecting and reading comics when I discovered the X-Men cartoon in the early 90s, and I would hoard those Fleer Ultra 93 and 94 X-Men cards sets as a kid.

I fell out of comics for a long time as I got into sports a bit. And then in high school I was heavily into drawing graffiti art and breakdancing. When I was a Junior, “Smallville” had come out and rekindled my love of Superman. Someone gave me a book called “The Complete History Of Superman” and it had a few Alex Ross paintings in it, which completely blew my mind. I had no idea you could do *that* with superheroes.

That sent me down the rabbit hole of “Who is this guy? How is he doing this? What is he painting with? What else has he done?” From there I found “Kingdome Come” and started going to the comic shop, and that ignited my interest in drawing superheroes again. After a short while I realized that people were drawing comics for a living, and I began a very disciplined, regimented plan to make that my reality as well.

It worked (laughs)!

MK: That’s epic! What was your local comic shop when you were getting heavily into it?

IM:The first one I wandered into was a small one-off called Hidden Treasures or something to that effect, but they closed down shortly after. Then a friend that I worked with told me that there was a place called Things From Another World that was literally blocks away from our job. And they became my regular supplier in the formative era of my comics addiction, haha.

MK:They’re a great operation out in the Portland area. Other than Alex Ross, who were some other artists that got you jazzed into drawing superheroes and comics again?

IM: There have been SO many, but the ones that have stayed an influence/inspiration regardless of my changing interests are probably Stuart Immonen, David Mazzucchelli, and Lee Bermejo. As I’ve burrowed deeper into comics and it’s artistic masters, I’d say my Mount Rushmore consists Alex Ross, Stuart Immonen, Alex Toth, and Jorge Zaffino.

MK: That’s an eclectic looking Mount Rushmore.

IM: It is!

MK:I dig it. Before we go too far off topic: Favorite X-Men character?

IM: Cyclops (I know), Wolverine is a close second, though. You?

MK: I feel like Wolverine is everybody’s top one or two but personally, especially since Grant Morrison brought her into the mix I’m an Emma Frost man. Which doesn’t make me a “real” X-Men fan in most folks’ eyes but it is what it is. What is it about Cyclops for you?

IM: 1) You can like whichever X-Person you want and damn anyone who tells you otherwise!

MK: Thank you!

IM: 2) Honestly, I think Cyclops was the most like Superman, aesthetically, and that really appealed to seven year-old me when I discovered the show; he was the do-good leader, he had red blasts from his eyes, and he wore all blue with yellow and red (laughs).

But there was something about the idea that he was encumbered by his power that really hit me as a kid. The fact that this thing he could do made him an outcast and made his life difficult, but he used it to help people anyway…That always got me.

Also, his mutation didn’t cause him to have a drastically different outward appearance, but it was enough to make him an other. And growing up half-Egyptian, I experienced a lot of cultural differences from the kids around me. Questions like, “Why can’t you eat pork?” are a lot like, “Why are you always wearing sunglasses?” So, I think that appealed to me about Cyclops as well.

MK: Take that Cyclops haters! That’s really inspiring how you were able to have that relation to Cyclops. For you, do you think comics has a special place as far as storytelling in a way that movies, TV, theatre, or other mediums don’t quite?

IM: I do, absolutely. I think that there are more opportunities to play with the passage of time visually on a comics page than with other mediums. In comics, for example, you can have a splash page of a scene that is split into four different panels across a single image of say, a park. And each panel can represent the four seasons in a year.

Comics also allow for opportunities to echo imagery from one page or one sequence to another. So let’s say you have a page where a character is a child, and they’re playing, and they fall down and scrape up their knee. Then, you cut to them as an adult in a few chapters and they’re in a completely different scenario, but they go through a similar accident, and you’re establishing that they’re prone to this kind of thing in their life.

In comics, seeing all of those panels in one page as a whole creates a different experience than film or TV where you would see that happen one shot at a time. You’re taking in the gestalt of the moment on a page rather than the disparate parts that make the whole. Symbolism, the efficiency afforded by narration paired with a parallel image to the text, the pacing of a page-turn into a splash. There are tons of cool ways to deliver a moment in a comics page that are unique to the medium, and that’s probably what I love about it the most.

MK: That’s an amazing answer. Thank you for that. To switch gears a little, let’s talk about your new series out which I think definitely displays some of those elements you’ve so eloquently discussed. “Savage Things” which you draw, and is written by the one and only Justin Jordan, hit shelves on March 1st. Did you and Justin know each other much prior to working on the book? Was it an arranged marriage by Vertigo? How did your collaboration come about?

Savaeg_Things_1
Savage Things #1

IM: Justin and I had met here in Portland back in 2012 or so at a great indy comics show we used to have here called Stumptown. We’ve bumped into each other a few times since then on Twitter, and I’ve been a fan of his work since I first read “Luthor Strode” but when our editor Jamie S. Rich reached out to me to draw the book he facilitated a wonderful reunion for the two of us. So, pretty much an arranged marriage and the dowry was a super-dope book that I get to draw

MK: I love it when an arranged marriage blossoms into true love and kick ass action sequences.

IM: (Laughs)

MK: If someone asks you to describe “Savage Things,” what’s been your favorite answer to give?

IM: “Savage Things” is what you get when a bunch of Dexters are kidnapped and raised by the government to be Jason Bourne.

MK: That’s maybe the most badass way of summing up a book I’ve ever heard. Here’s a two-parter: What’s been one of the most challenging and what’s been your favorite thing to draw so far for the series?

IM: The book is full of excellent opportunities to create cool action sequences, and I think that’s been my favorite part so far. There have also been a few types of locations I’ve never never drawn before (a hospital, a power plant, a few others) so that’s been a fun challenge.

The most difficult thing has been figuring out how to draw expressive faces on sociopaths (laughs).

MK: That seems like a challenge on several levels (laughs). Can you perhaps tease us about something readers should be super excited to discover in issue two and beyond?

IM: Yes! The next few issues pitt our lead character, Abel, against six of the other sociopathic, trained murderers that he grew up with. So as you can imagine, issue one was just a tease at some of the brutality that these guys are capable of, especially toward each other. By the end of issue three, we pull back the lens and broaden the scope of the battle quite a bit. I’m very excited!

MK: Man, I can’t wait to see how you and Justin up the ante! Final two questions before our time’s up:

1) For someone new to comics, what are five essential must reads you’d recommend?

2) For all things Ibrahim Moustafa, “Savage Things,” and your ridiculously amazing James Bond posters, where can fans keep up with you on social media and the web? (Seriously, his James Bond posters kind of cray cray. Don’t believe me, click here!)

IM: 1) This is a tough one! These are certainly slanted toward things that I love, so your mileage may certainly vary.

Scalped” is my favorite book of all-time. It’s a crime drama a la “Breaking Bad” or “The Wire.” Anyone can dive right into it.

“Kingdom Come”: I read this pretty early on and loved it. There are a ton of references and characters in it, but as long as you know who Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Shazaam are, the rest falls into place.

The Losers” is a great book if you love action movies with fun characters, a cool story/lots of intrigue.

Old Man Logan” is almost a companion piece to “Kingdom Come” in that it’s a look at a possible future, full of cool stuff and references but mainly if you know the X-Men and the Avengers, you’re solid.

Batman: Year One.” One of the greatest comics ever made and a perfect primer for Batman fans looking to give the comics a try.

2) I’m on twitter at: @Ibrahim_M_ and my official site is http://theartofibrahimmoustafa.blogspot.com/

MK: Ibrahim, you’re a class act, thank you for being so generous and gracious with your time in joining me in our first Creative Conversation.

Check out “Savage Things #1” now and get ready for “Savage Things #2,” on shelves Wednesday, April 5th, 2017. Stay tuned for our next…Creative Conversation.

Please send love/hate messages to Matthew via Twitter @matthewklein316 and on Instagram. Matthew loves all things Batman, Valiant, and pro-wrestling related. He’s also pretty sure that it’s not recommended to spend more waking hours watching reruns of “Chuck” than sleeping but hasn’t been able to prove this theory.

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Troy’s toys, but with Comics: Strong Debuts, Conquering Queens

Another strong week for comics, with 2 great debuts. I’m excited to talk to y’all about these books, so let’s get to it!

52fcf9c2867f1Cyclops #1

Greg Rucka/Russell Dauterman/Chris Sotomayer

Marvel $3.99

So, a lot of people have been making the same joke on twitter that Cyclops is a bold new concept for Marvel, as it features a positive (and living) father figure in it. I am the MOST jealous of not being the first to make that joke.

As much as I complained about the announcement of this book spoiling “The Trail of Jean Grey”, I absolutely loved this first issue. It’s a cute premise, as the time traveling young Cyclops (or Fryclops if you’re down with Futurama) gets to hang out with his space pirate dad Corsair and his merry band of space pirates. Does this probably put the time-space continuity as risk? Oh definitely, but it’s fun, and it allows Corsair to hang out with a son he never got to meet until he was older, so who cares (Oh right, “our” Cyclops, that was addressed in last week’s Uncanny. Duh.)

Let’s talk creative team yes? So we all know that Greg Rucka is an amazing writer yes? So it comes as no surprise that the writing in this issue is strong. Rucka draws from his own experience as of father, and the result is a more realistic and earnest script, despite the present of aliens and mutants. It makes for a good read in the end, and I’m glad Rucka is handling it.

Art Wise, I have no prior experience with SPACE ARTIST Russell Dauterman (What, that’s his title on the credits page credits him as), But I dig his stuff. It reminds me a lot of Chris Burnham but a little more controlled. His teenage Cyclops looks like an actual teenager, which is nice, because this book stresses that Scott’s 16 a lot. Also his space pirates are all various degrees of sexy, even Final Fantasy knock off Korvus.

An excellent, endearing, character driven comic, the first issue of Cyclops is delight. I really didn’t expect to end up liking it as much as I did, even with my permi-Scott boner, but I’m certainly glad this book is as good as it is.

TheWoods1cvrThe Woods #1

Jame Tynion IV/Michael Dialynas

Boom! $3.99

This is the 2nd comic I’ve read in the last month where teenagers ( #TEENS) end up in a SPOOKY FOREST that’s been published but Boom. But much like “The Lumberjanes”, this is an excellent debut. Unlike the ‘Janes, this is not an all aged affair.

And much like Cyclops’ artist, I have no experience with the creators involved in “The Woods” what sold me on it was the concept. A Milwaukee high school is teleported (for a lack of better words) to a spooky forest, and things go south from there. I don’t want to say much more than that, but it’s creepy and weird, and I love it.

One of the things I really like about James Tynion IV’s script is the fact that the teenagers (who make up most of the cast) actually sound like teenagers, not small adults. A lot of comics don’t get that right, and it takes me out of the narrative a bit. Here, everyone sounds natural, and it totally works, even when the crazier elements of the plots are introduced.

Michael Dialynas is a great fit for the book. He’s very Faith Erin Hicks/Guy Davis-esque, and can sell both the humor and horror elements. Balancing that sort of thing can be tricky, but Dialynas pulls it off well. Jason Gonzalez’s colors also help a lot too, really helping Tynion and Dialynas set the scene for their tale of cosmic horror. There’s some really cool atmosphere in this book, and the use of purples and blues in the 2nd half of the book is great.

 

“Great” also sums up The Woods debut. It’s a cool premise with a fantastic excecution. I cannot recommend this first issue enough.

 

RatQueens06-CoverA-285071_321x214Rat Queens #6

Kurtis J Wiebe/Roc Upchurch

Image $3.50

I’ll be honest, I initially was going to skip over Rat Queens #6 because I prefer reading this book in trade. However, after flipping through the first few pages at the shop, I was more than impressed with what I saw and decided that I couldn’t wait for trade. I needed it NOW.

Wiebe and Upchurch really stepped up their game with this issue. Now that the cast has been properly introduced and the first arc is over, we’re introduced to 2 big reveals in this issue, and now I’m DYING to see how they’re going to pay off. Especially with Roc Upchurch handling the visuals, because holy hell, this book looks amazing. The first few pages show how wonderful his panel layouts and body language is, and it’s something that’s constantly great throughout the book.  And Kurtis Wiebe‘s dialogue is doing a fine job of fleshing out the Queens, their supporting cast and the world around them. There’s some extremely touching moments, as well as 2 that are absolutely horrific. This book is flawless overall.

Image’s comic game has been strong for awhile, as I’ve said as much in the past, but I’m impressed on how their books continue and continue to improve. Rat Queens is arguably my favorite non-Matt Fraction penned series on the market, and if you give it a chance, I’m sure it will be your’s as well.

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An X-MAS Tale!

The portal opened five feet from his left, and Wolverine watched the lanky, muscled frame of his former teammate and friend step out onto the snowy grounds of the Jean Gray School for Gifted Students. Cyclops looked grim as usual, and travelled with a dusty satchel. Wolverine couldn’t remember the last time he had seen Scott Summers smile.

Wolverine Cyclops X-Men cartoon

“I’m here, Logan.” Cyclops said, looking around for traps. “What is it you needed? Make it quick, I’m a wanted man.”

Wolverine uncrossed his arms and stepped forward. “I’ve been one too, Cyke, many times. After awhile, being out in the cold gets to ya’.” Scott just nodded, and so Wolverine continued. “Remember that first Christmas back at the Mansion with Chucky, Kitty, Peter and Kurt? We all laughed watchin’ Storm give the Professor Snow-Fros?”

“That was a long time ago,” Cyclops said, and instantly struggled with a thought. How long ago was that? Sometimes it feels like it was Thirty years ago, but it may have been only Five.

“If there’s one thing you learn while being an X-Man, it’s that time can always be changed.” Wolverine half smiled, and reached behind a nearby statue. He pulled out a box, brightly wrapped in red and green candy cane printed paper.

It was an X-Mas present from one X-Man to an Ex-X-Man.

Cyclops opened the box with hesitant hands. Years of battle hardened ambushes had trained him to be wary of gifts. What lay inside the present surprised him more than any bomb, alien parasite or severed head of a beloved comrade.

Inside the box was a case of custom made, ruby quartz contact lenses. Enough to last an entire year.

“Merry X-Mas, Slim.” growled Wolverine. “Hank helped with the design. I wonder why we’ve never thought of this before.”

“Logan,” choked Scott, “It’s-. I don’t know what to say.” Embarrassed, he turned and reached into his travel bag, taking out a brightly wrapped box of his own. Wolverine was stunned. He did not expect this…because this story takes place now. If this was the 80’s or 90’s, they would have said Wolverine could pre-smell the present with his heightened senses, but nobody remembers that power set anymore.

“I had hoped your message was sincere, so I came prepared. Thanks for forgiving me for killing Professor X. Again.” Cyclops laughed.

“Ah, heck, Slim. Who hasn’t killed that bald S.O.B. once or twice. Now what have we here,” Wolverine asked, opening the gift. He, too, was surprised because again- no heightened sense of smell.

Rogue, Jubilee, X-Men cartoon

Inside was an Adamantium claw sharpener with a jar of Adamantium claw polish. Wolverine smiled. Cyclops did the same. Somewhere a jolly, fat elf was Ho-Hoed. They both started to laugh.

“You know, Scott, this gift is the most thoughtful thing anyone’s ever given me,” Wolvie sighed, “And as useless as a Metrocard for Nightcrawler. You see-” and what followed was a sickening SHLACK sound, as the bloody stumps of bones broke through Wolverine’s hands. “I sold my Adamantium claws and skeleton to a scrap dealer in order to afford the Ruby Quartz Contacts.”

Tears started to swell in Scott Summers’ eyes, as he broke into a silly grin. “Of course. That seems like our luck, Logan, because you see-” He paused. Red streaks started to roll down his cheeks. Tears of blood were flowing fast now, as Cyclops removed his visor, revealing the ruined cavities of his former weapons. “I sold my eyes to a mutant organ harvester in order to afford the Adamantium claw sharpener.”

They laughed, cried, hugged and bled all over each other there in the snow, both laughing at the magic of Christmas. They soon both passed out from blood loss and died of exposure.

MERRY X-MAS!

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The Unbearable Lightness of X-Being

One of the biggest themes in the Marvel X-Men universe at the moment is the rift between founding member Cyclops and best selling Canadian bad-boy Wolverine. Their rivalry, previously limited to girls and respect, changed tone under the X-Men “Schism” storyline. Cyclops, an X-man since his teenage years, believed that students at the Xavier School for Gifted Youngsters were defacto soldiers in the X-Men army, and further argued that this was always Xavier’s intention. Wolverine felt otherwise.

Fighting ensued. As happens in an X-Story, Cyclops goes crazy with the power of the Phoenix and kills Professor X before freeing himself from the Phoenix’s corrupting influence. Even though they have all seen Xavier die and come back at least three times, and even though it could have been worse (I mean, Jean Gray killed a whole planet while possessed by Phoenix, so I’d say Earth got off pretty easy there,) Scott’s actions put him in dutch with his fellow mutants. NOW…

 

The coinage of mainstream comic books is violence, which has an ultimate resolution. The problem with this, from a dramatic standpoint, appears when the finale isn’t as final as you would have like. In other words, “Why should I care about who dies in a comic book when they’re just going to come back again?”

 

HMMMMM…

 

Amazing X-Men #1 hits the stands this week, and we should all be excited for multiple reasons. A brand new, spanking “#1” issue of an X-Title! Ed McGuinness is drawing the X-men again! Nightcrawler is making his come back to the good ole’ Marvel 616! Thrills, chills, spills, big time action and top shelf fun!

 

Ah, but here’s the rub; Amazing X-Men will reintroduce Nightcrawler, arguable one of the more iconic and popular current Ex-X-Men, back into the story…after being dead for only three years. Keep in mind that comics, especially Marvel comics, do NOT take place on any real timeline. Kurt Wagner has been dead since 2010, but it might have only been a year, maybe less to the people living in the stories.

 

HOW did Kurt die? He died teleporting Hope Summer to safety in a noble sacrifice…which ultimately meant nothing as two (real-time) years later Wolverine did his best to kill her in order to stop her from merging with the Phoenix. Yes, the same Wolverine who had a falling out with Cyclops because he thought putting children in harms way, even when serving a greater good, was morally wrong.

 

The theme of “Noble death” should sound familiar to long time X-Readers. Colossus died, sacrificing himself to destroy the Legacy Virus, only to come back from death at the beginning of Joss Whedon’s X-Run. Ironic, really, as Whedon himself kills Kitty Pryde, the X-Woman known as Shadowcat, in a self sacrificing gesture. Needless to say, she’s alive right now, too.

 

TEETER TOTTER

 

Currently Cyclops is on a mission to punish those who would dare hurt Mutant kind…which often takes the form of him hurting other Mutants trying to stop him from hurting other Mutants. The big sticking point is what to do with the time traveling, alternate reality versions of the founding X-Men, who want to go back in time and prevent our timeline from ever happening. Let’s review:

 

Every member of the X-Men, a group which believes they are genetically superior to humans, though philosophically dedicated to living with them equally, has either died, returned from death or has seen a team member or loved one reborn. They are currently split into factions, fighting with each other, trying to figure out the best way to stop each other from dying and creating world threatening apocalypses. Got it? GOOD! HERE comes the important part…

 

Amazing X-Men is going to be just that…Amazing. It will be Amazing for all the reasons I mentioned previously, and for all of the blatant, mind hurting logical flaws the X-Tales continue to propagate.

 

X-Men comics are not based on “Making Sense.” The X-Men are the greatest comic book soap opera going, with a history spanning multiple realities and endless timelines. I hope Kurt Wagner, a staunch Catholic, comes back to life through Buddhist reincarnation, mistakenly marries his own dimension hopping daughter from an alternate timeline (Yes, she exists) and they both fall back in time while giving birth to their new son…WOLVERINE!

 

Pick up Amazing X-Men, and let your mind go. You don’t buy an X-Book for logic, kids. You buy an X-book to watch brightly clad weirdoes make the least amount of sense they possibly can.

 

 

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Toy Fair 2013: SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

Toy Fair has happen and  me start this article by thanking whatever Hasbro employee is reading this site on the regular, or stalking me elsewhere, internet or in real life. The fruits of your research are something I’m willing to throw some serious cash at this year, and since my wife is out of town for the next few days, you can be my Valentine this year

The company has done me a solid by releasing not one, but 2 modern Cyclops figures this year, both in a box set in the Universe line (Marvel’s Greatest Teams, packaged with Emma Frost and the Juggernaut possessed Colossus) and a 6″ figure apart of the Wolverine Legends line (which also has a Emma Frost figure!), as well as a modern HAWKGUY (or Hawkeye as he’s more commonly known as). You’ll also see at least another 2-3 waves in the main Marvel Legends line, 2 in the Universe line (until SDCC reveals more), and both 6″ and 3.75″ figures based on upcoming movies like “Iron Man 3” and “Thor 2”, and animated stuff like “Ultimate Spider-Man” and the new “Avengers Assemble” show. Good showing all around from Hasbro/Marvel.

So my Marvel boner aside, what else did Toy Fair 2013 have to offer you ask? Shut up and I’ll tell you stupid! There was Batman merchandise everywhere (no one is surprised by this), but Mattel got a ton of hype thanks to securing the rights to make figures based on the classic live action Batman series from the 1960s. Expect to see both 6″ and Barbie-sized releases this year, amongst others. Square Enix is also going DC Comics crazy as well, with figures based on the Nolan Bat-films, the upcoming Man of Steel film, and giving their own spin to the DCU with the DC Universe Square Enix Variant line. Heroes announced so far were obviously the Bat, Green Lanetern, Batgirl, Flash and Wonder Woman. And not to be out done, DC Collectible showed off a ton of figures based on the Injustice game, The Flash, the Death of Family arc, and the upcoming Justice League of America series.

Mezco, as I reported last time, scored 2 unique licenses, with the hit drama Breaking Bad, and the hit insane webcomic- turn actual comics-turn upcoming animated Fox TV series Axe Cop. They’re going all out with these properties, putting out a variety of different sized figurs/figurines, dolls and plushies. Also joining the 6″ figure arms race is Kenner, with The Star Wars Black series! These 6″ figures will focus on the classic trilogy, so expect the likes or R2-D2, Luke Skywalker, a Sand Trooper and….Darth Maul. Um, I guess they’re focusing MOSTLY on the classic trilogy, not entirely!

There are several other announcements of note too, like McFarlane making toys based on Assassin’s Creed 3 in the same vein of their Halo line, Square Enix branching out and making figures based on Namco, EA and Capcom games, of ton of new and old G.I. Joe stuff, but I’m going to end this focusing on the MASSIVE  2 foot tall Transformers Generation Titan Metroplex. He’s based on his aaperance in last year’s Transformers: Fall of Cyberton game, and yeah, it’s kind of friggin awesome. Aside from the 2 foot robot, he can also transform into a city, and mobile battle station. Not sure  when it will drop, but it will this year and not be cheap.

Gonna end the look at Toy Fair here. I can only tease so much, but fear not, everything big and cool announced at the show will eventually be for sale at Forbidden Planet this coming year, and we’ll be getting better looks at them as they’re released.

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TRY SOMETHING NEW Chapter 10: To The Empire’s Ultimate Weapon!

Sometimes people in positions of power royally #@$% things up. I’ve never had the amazing opportunity to do this before, but this new year has been all about new experiences for me. After 9 brutal weeks of spending 20 minutes a week writing semi-nonsense about new comics in this column I think we can all agree I now wield a remarkably frightening amount of power in this world. And what did I do with my power? With great power comes human trafficking. I offered up Forbidden Planet’s poor basement dweller/demerit collector Ben to you all like he was some sort of man-shaped cookie… Which he sort of is. Poor, sweet Ben. 9 “lucky” contest winners got to take Ben on a date this past week. Poor, sweet, gentle Ben. And what did you, the loyal readers of TRY SOMETHING NEW, do? I legally can’t go into all the details but suffice it to say that Ben will never be the same. Good job readers. My power and your depravity royally #@$% this up. No more contests for at least 2 weeks. Poor, sweet, gentle, exsanguinated Ben needs to rest and regenerate around 4 pints of blood… and an eye. How long does that take?

These double digit columns are rough. Now I’m onto my second apology/retraction of the week. Last week I suggested you pick up Mr. Diggle & Mr. Jock‘s Snapshot #1 from Image. I just wrote “Mr. Jock.” Huh. Anyway, I pointed out that is was a newly colored update of the UK version. Well if you bought the book you might have noticed that the colors they used are both the color black and the color white. There aren’t even ink washes. And if you didn’t buy the book, what the hell? Buy the stuff I recommend. C’mon. I went back and edited that part out of last weeks blog post because this is the 21st century and information is supposed to be fluid and temporary. But for those of you who read the newsletter, you Guttenberg-ites, you are all stuck with what we used to refer to as “mistakes” but what we now refer to as “artifacts of non verified information.” I would feel bad for lying to all of you print readers but in a way I feel like it’s social Darwinism. You get bad information, it slows you down, and a lion eats you. The comic reading herd begins to move faster and make better choices. Malthus smiles from his grave. Sucks to be you. So anyway, yeah I sort of $#!% the bed on that one. You see I don’t get sent many preview versions of books (You hear that marketing/pr folks? Sort your stuff out.) so I go off what I can. What I saw was the black & white stuff and I was told the great colorist Lee Loughridge was going to be adding more colors beyond black & white. Mr. Loughridge is a great colorist and I met him at a party once and we talked about hardcore bands for 5 minutes so he’s basically the coolest guy working in comics right now. Either way, he didn’t color the book. Don’t know what happened. Like most reputable news outlets I get my news from various disreputable news outlets. They said it would be colored. It wasn’t. So there you have it. Either way the book is really good and worth your time. Stop being such a prude and read black & white comics. It’s better for your eyes. (No. It probably isn’t.)

Atomic Robo TP VOL 07 Flying She-Devils of the Pacific

Onto the parade of new books. When Mike Mignola created Hellboy in 19XX (too lazy to google that) there was a weird byproduct that I don’t think anyone could have predicted. The “monster/freak as adventurer/government agent” genre is certainly weirdly specific and probably only exists in western comics. You got the Hellboy spinoff monster cops book B.P.R.D., and new series like Yeti cop book Proof, monster cop book Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E., other Yeti cop book Footprints, and robot adventurer (cop) book Atomic Robo. The weird thing is that all of these books are pretty good. It is a premise that lends itself well to big exciting stories. Personally I have a real soft spot for Atomic Robo and was really glad to see ATOMIC ROBO vol 7.: ATOMIC ROBO AND THE FLYING SHE-DEVILS OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC out this week. Atomic Robo manages to differentiate itself from the crowd by maintaining a serious amount of fun at all times. If Hollywood people were smarter Atomic Robo would be a successful film or cartoon franchise already. (Do they make cartoons in Hollywood?) Equal parts Hellboy and Indiana Jones, Atomic Robo is one of the few ongoing (pretty much) all ages books of any real worth and is a real treasure. Before you pass over the book because it is kid friendly let me remind you that you are reading the newsletter/blog of a comic shop. You are, by definition, at least 60% manchild or womanchild depending on your genitals. Stop being pretentious and read something fun.

You remember 2007? I don’t really. I looked online and it seems almost nothing really happened that year. Some Marvel character probably died. The Loch Ness monster was caught. George Clinton was president. That Battles record that came out was really good. I discovered basketball shorts. 7/11 perfected making “chicken” nuggets out of Loch Ness Monster meat. The U.S. became the first country to use giant robots in actual combat. I meant to see Michael Clayton. Forbidden Planet’s Executive Director of Web Development, Halal food, & Mini-Comics, Tyler, was born. I had my first milkshake with pieces of cake in it and I refused to believe it was as gross as it actually is. Crazy all the stuff you can find out on the internet, huh? All of that stuff was ok but the one really interesting thing the whole year was that Vasilis Lolos released his super weirdo comic Last Call. Did you miss it? Well it’s about… I don’t really know what it’s about. Some dudes get on a train that is magical or demonic or metaphorical. Not sure. Then lots of weird stuff happens. Well now it’s 2013. Cake shakes ARE gross, basketball shorts are out in favor of smart ties and v-neck sweaters, I probably still won’t watch Michael Clayton, and Tyler is 5 years old and makes more money than me. Also, Mr. Lolos has released LAST CALL vol. 2. There is a lot of killing, some playing with relativity, and lots of “train as metaphor for _____”. In short, the book is pretty awesome. Another of the up and comers making western comics with strong Manga influence, LAST CALL vol. 2 feels like the freaky offspring of Scott Pilgrim, Prophet, and Orc Stain. If you have been digging the work of people like Giannis Milogiannis (some folks just have dope names), James Harren, Brandon Graham, or James Stokoe, this book should be a no-brainer for you. Remember; if you just read vol. 2 and don’t bother to track down vol. 1 first you haven’t earned your sense of confusion.

Powers Bureau #1

Let’s talk about Powers for a minute. Michael Avon Oeming draws it. It looks like he puts more thought into each panel than most cartoonists put into their careers. That’s cool. Good look, Mike. But I am, in some shameful misuse of the word, a writer. I like words. Words are sexy to me. Words are the things I use to both mock and lie to the people around me, and that gives me most of the joy I get in this world. People who use words well are better than people who don’t in my world. Now let’s talk about Brian Michael Bendis. But let’s talk about him via me. I had a shameful period in my life where I didn’t care about comics more than I care about everything else. I was into other stuff and comics just weren’t doing it for me. The thrill had faded years ago, like the shine on so many foil covers. Artists turned writers had abused me and left me bitter and broken. If I did hard drugs this would be my opium years. I was aimless, vacant, distant bordering on ethereal, and almost always nodding off in the back of that cockfighting place on Mott Street. Then someone came to me and saved me. They handed me POWERS vol. 1: WHO KILLED RETRO GIRL? It was an epiphany. It was a chance to see a world I once loved through virgin eyes again. It would have been cool for the sake of this story if the person who handed me that book was Brian Michael Bendis himself, but it wasn’t. I don’t know him. He probably doesn’t hang out at cockfights (“probably” is a strong word.). It was a creepy Gollum-like man in a comic shop that shall not be named who gave me the book. Anyway, I read it and I felt something. Brian Michael Bendis writes dialogue not like the way people talk, he writes it better. It’s idealized dialogue. It’s conversation, perfected. I can’t explain how important his dialogue and the way it forms his characters is to me. In my love of writing I have stopped and obsessed on folks like David Mamet, Elmore Leonard, Quentin Tarantino, Aaron Sorkin, and Whit Stillman for periods of my life. But here is where I say the crazy thing that gets me hate mail. None of them do for me what Bendis does. Bendis made me realize that comics are supposed to be better than all the other mediums. It is the best of all the worlds.

The Powers premise, police procedural in a superhero world, is so simple yet so perfect. This is the chocolate and peanut butter of comics. And the things Bendis does within the book, they were a revelation at the time and can still give you a jolt if you let them; the talking head panels, the multiple interwoven arcs, the focus on the relationships of characters, and lets not forgot the monkey sex issue (google it). All of this was eye opening for me (and most of the comics industry it would seem). The man brought me out of my smoky backroom cockfighting ring and into the less smoky but equally sketchy comic shop once again. Powers is my moment of clarity. I knew I wanted to give myself wholly to comics after I read it and I knew I would follow Mr. Bendis until the day he writes his final panel description. Sadly, Powers has come to an end. And like Lazarus, frozen yogurt shops in New York, and noisy indie rock, Powers has returned from the dead better than ever. POWERS BUREAU #1 comes out on Wednesday. I would say buy it but I might buy all of them and give them out in Port Authority to lost souls and wayward Aaron Sorkin fans. They have nothing left anymore.

Uncanny X-Men #1 Now

Hey, did you read that last paragraph? Did you like it? Don’t care. This awkward obsessing train rolls on. So… Brian Michael Bendis. I don’t expect all people to like his work. I get that he can be polarizing. He occasionally sacrifices old characterization continuity to serve story and people like their weird old continuity baggage. He pushed the medium forward and there always have to be people who push back. Sometimes his female characters are treated like second class citizens… (I don’t have a funny quip for that one. It’s a bummer.) He is good and most people don’t like good things. I get all that. But for me this new Bendis era of X-Men is about as exciting as comics gets. The X-Men were my childhood obsession, and smart comics are my adult obsession. This week childhood me and adult me meet up for a very excited 22 pages as Brian Michael Bendis begins writing UNCANNY X-MEN #1. His All New X-Men is the standout book of the very excellent Marvel Now! relaunch. Now his “X-Men on the run” team gets their own book, harkening back to the mutants as outlaws origins of the characters. The recent evolution of Cyclops, from preppy milquetoast, to his “heavy is the head that wears the crown” version, to his current radicalization, is one of the best things either of the Big 2 has done with one of their characters ever. This is actual growth and development. This is art. It is sad, hard to read sometimes, and compelling as hell. My guess? When all is said and done Mr. Bendis does the best X-Men book of the last 25 years. Get it now and watch the X-Men take their place once again as the most exciting team in comics.

Well it’s time to go. You have new books to buy and it’s my turn to irrigate Ben’s eye socket and I have to find out if my attorney appealed Mr. Bendis’ restraining order yet. Wish us both luck.

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EYE’M WITH STUPID

I’m on hold with tech support. Recently I upgraded my TV to an HD and my DVD to a Blu Ray. After I upgraded my cable to HDTV, I realized that the problem this entire time was ME. I’m still watching TV with the same eyes.

I’d like to tell you had my eyes removed and replaced with new, high definition 3D eyes, but instead I had my eyes removed and replaced with two pieces of equipment which don’t seem to be installed right…hence the tech support.

This all makes me think of Cyclops.

ESSENTIAL UNCANNY X-MEN Vol. 1, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Marvel

Meet Scott Summers, a troubled teen who grew up in an orphanage and, due to a genetic mutation coupled with a plane crash, cannot willingly control the destructive beams of red light that shine from his eyes. Only the ruby quarts lenses of his titular, monocular visor and the calm influence of his father figure, Professor X. keep him on the straight and narrow as the X-Man known as CYCLOPS!

Cyclops is a square peg trying to fit into the round hole of society, always playing the good boy and fighting for equal rights. He loves his teammate, Jean Grey, from afar. He’s a nice mutant boy in a world gone mad, but still believes in a brighter future.

He’s also boring as Hal Jordan, a cookie cutter “Good Guy” who only shines due to the briefly novel addition of teen angst.

X-MEN OMNIBUS VOL. 1 + 2, Chris Claremont, Jim Lee, Marvel

Meet Scott Summers, embittered war veteran of the never-ending fight for mutant survival. In these Claremont/Lee stories we see the emergence of the “Scott as General” Cyclops, the mutant who has fought every battle and is best prepared to lead the troops. Scott has grown increasingly quiet, isolated, and struggles to find peace even within his own adopted family.

Having fought every day of his young adult life we meet a Scott Summers who no longer can identify himself, his goals or his friends…just the fight. He has loved Jean, married Jean, lost Jean, loved clones of Jean and has fathered several children of alternate timelines with Jean.

This Scott is an unlikeable boy scout, always stuffy and square…but it’s not his fault. Wolverine is Marvel’s biggest bad boy, and Scott exists almost solely to contrast Wolvie’s lethal spirit.

CY TO THE CLIZZOPS

In Grant Morrison’s NEW X-MEN and Joss Wheedon’s Astonishing X-Men the plaster on Cyclops REALLY starts to chip. We learn that Cycs has been getting his mental swerve on with the White Queen through Psychic hook-ups behind Jean’s back. We see Cyclops place mutant survival as the surpassing priority. We see Cyclops begin to employ backroom tactics, while pushing Xavier away for employing the same.Grant Morrison

By the time Cyclops decides on the necessity of X-Force, the clandestine group of X-Men charged with the assassination of top-level threats to mutant kind, the natural progression is complete. Cyclops adopts the perfect blending of Magneto’s violence and Xavier’s message in an effort to stop the mutant violence by whatever means he can.

This tired, amoral and sociopathic Scott is also the most likeable Cyclops in years!

In a world where most of your fiends have died and come back to life, where you discover your family members are all space pirates, ancient freaks or alternate timeline versions of yourself, and where, no matter how many times you PERSONALLY save the world you will still be hated and feared, Scott Summers is the believable result of one man fighting his entire life for an unobtainable goal.

I can’t wait to see what happens next…but I will have to wait. Stupid tech support. Stupid broken mechanical high definition eyes­­­.

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SDCC Preview Post

HOLY CRAP, WE’RE MOVING APPARENTLY!  There, consider that an early reminder. I’ll try to not to mention it again until after it happens and grand-opening things have been announced.

Anywho, happy post 4th of July everyone, hope you all enjoyed the holiday/”Amazing Spider-Man,” which I thought was neat. Definitely not a perfect film, nor as good as “The Avengers“, it could have been a ton worse. Remember “Spider-Man 3”? Yeah…..that, and Emma’s Gwen was 10000X better than Kristen’s Mary Jane. That being said, it’s July, which means one thing. SAN DIEGO COMIC CON? WILL I BE THERE, DELIVERING ALL OF THE LATEST NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS? NOPE, CAN’T AFFORD IT. WILL I LIST A BUNCH OF SWEET EXCLUSIVES THAT I WANT, AND WILL HOPEFULLY MAKE IT TO OUR STORE LIKE LAST YEAR? YUP, SURE WILL!

Let’s start off with DC Comics. Obviously they’ll have a lot to offer, what with “Dark Knight Rises“, the New 52, Before Watchmen, and their Cartoon Network programming. Expect to see a Gotham Siren/Polly Pocket set, a Tiny Titans figurine box set, and a plethora of exclusive DKR toys. What I’m most excited for is on the left: the new line of Convention Exclusive 3.75″ action figures from DC Collections (formerly known as DC Direct) featuring 2 Green Lanterns, and the much taller Death figure from the same company. Both will retail for about $25, but given how Kyle Rayner, Kilowog, and Death are ALL fan-favorites, they’re definitely a steal at that price compared to how much they’ll be going for post-show. Plus the Lanterns are in scale with the Marvel Universe figures, which means Kyle and Kilowog can team up with a different breed of Guardians… Continue reading

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Fret-Con

Wolverine #310 hits the stands this week, and with it comes some shocking revelations. Remember when Wolverine cut off Sabertooth’s head in 2007’s Wolverine #55? Well guess what…MAYBE HE DIDN’T!

Hurts, doesn’t it?! Some super villains are just too cool and iconic to leave in the depths of hell to rot. Wolverine #310 plans on telling us HOW Sabertooth survived his amputation/fatal beheading, but for many fans the answer will still smack of betrayal.

Let’s talk ret-cons.

Action Comics #11 also arrives this week, but it promises to be the origin story of the new 52’s version of Superman, the ret-conned version of the Man of Steel. DC also has Before Watchmen Ozymandias #1 with Jae Lee on art duties and Len Wein writing. This is one of the teams I was looking forward to on this project…but now I’m scared! “What might they ret-con?!”

KEEP IT SAFE

Comics are a long game. Sure, we might be miffed at Wolverine #310 for changing things so Sabertooth can return, but are we still mad at the ret-cons we like? Is anybody upset that Magneto lived after being blown up on Asteroid M, or the time when he was revealed to be alive from being cloned? Are we cheesed off that they ret-conned Bruce Wayne to have a friend who became Hush? I for one am happy that Generation X-star Chamber is back to his hollow faced self after all the crazy malarkey with Apocalypse and M Day. Continue reading

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Large headed Heroes, Ponies and a brief, belated Toy Fair 2012 Recap

by Chris Troy.

I really hate typing out cliche stuff like “a dollar doesn’t buy you much these days, especially in NYC”,  but considering how much it costs to ride the subway these days, it’s kind of true. HOWEVER, for a mere $1, you can pick one of the new Marvel Heroes Buildable Figurines from the line’s 2nd wave at FPNYC!  Cyclops, Daredevil, Wolverine, Dr. Doom, the Thing, and Venom make up the set, and it’s one of the FEW toy lines you can buy the entire line for less than $10, if not the only one. Oh sure they have zero points of articulation, but they look cool as hell on your desk or bookcase in my anything-but-humble-opinion. And if you’re not a Marvel person (BOOOO!), we also have blind-bag My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic figurines in stock as of the time of writing. Those go for about $3 a pop, and offer a ton more variety in terms of Ponies (articulation, not so much). I’ve laughed at the Brony movement last year, but we keep selling out of the toys, so there was a slight chance I had no idea what I was getting into at the time. That and I’ve actually watched the show since and it’s cute. It also helps that Fluttershy is adorable, and yes, it pains me to type that out. Denial is magical.

So Toy Fair happened this month and I never bothered applying for a badge because I was busy as hell being dissappointed by Soul Calibur 5. However, my good friend and internet medicine man Dr_Teng of What’s Your Obsession did go, and is cool enough to share some photos with us. Loran has already covered the Transformers and GI Joe stuff, and I’m sure I’ve talked enough about Marvel/DC stuff to drive most people insane, so I’ll save those releases for when they’re actually on our shelves. So that leaves me to discuss video game figures, which I assure you is not a problem. Continue reading

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Machine. Unexpectedly, I’d invented a Time

In 1995 director Lars Von Trier, tired of the special effects and genre tropes he felt were ruining cinema, created a list of rules for filmmakers to follow in order to make superior, modern artistic worth. This new style for film-making was called “Dogma 95.”

Rules like “Filming must be done on location,” “No overdubbed background music,” and “All films must feature at least one bear-mauling” make perfect sense when you think about them.

Why do I mention this? Well, I’ve just read Avengers X-Sanction #1. It is, don’t get me wrong, a beautiful book. I’ve liked the team of Loeb and McGuiness since Batman/Superman and I loved them on The Hulk (by the way, trades of these great runs are available here at the Planet!). Loeb keeps his stories simple, fluid, and action packed. McGuiness is the inheritor of Arthur Adams.

BUT. The plot of X-Santion is…iffy. Cable, the time hopping mutant son of Cyclops and Jean Grey’s clone, is going to capture/kill all of the Avengers because somehow they will kill Hope, his time-traveling mutant adopted daughter who is probably a clone of Jean Grey.

And WHY does he think this? I’m sure it will be clarified in future issues, but if we only read this first issue (and again, it is the only one out yet) it is because A) he wakes up in the future after being dead with no explanation of how he got there, B) THIS future (and this is a character that has experienced many) is desolate and destroyed, and C) a time traveling friend of his named Blaquesmith told him that the future was destroyed because “Hope is dead and it’s the Avengers fault.”

GETTING BACK

So about the Dogma Film movement and the new rules for making superior art? I have a rule for comics: NO MORE messed up time travel stories!

Especially in this instance! Blaquesmith could have been speaking metaphorically. “Whoa!” He could say, later on. “You tied Captain America to a chair and shot him in the head because I said Hope was dead? I meant, like, HOPE, ya know? The desire to aspire towards loftier goals and ambitions? You thought I meant your adopted daughter? Way to fly off the handle there, Cable.”

Besides, these future moments take place in “The Far Future.” I should hope that Hope is dead in “The Far Future,” because otherwise she’d be, like, 500-50 thousand years old. As premises go this is like going back in time to kill Mickey Mantle because he didn’t play in the 2011 World Series.

NOT ONLY THAT but Hope is only alive at all because Cable recently fought against a time traveling Bishop who went back to the past to kill her because a potential future he envisioned was destroyed because of her. Continue reading

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Marvel Universe Spring Releases!

By Chris Troy

Alright, so it’s been a while FPNYC faithful (Stupid Internets!), but now we’re back at 100% and willing to give you, the reader, the latest news on FPNYC’s toy and collectibles department! Since we’re all living in a post-Thor world (the movie rocked by the way, for all of you who haven’t seen it yet. Also shame on you for not seeing it), it’s only fair that this week we look at the latest releases from the ultra-popular Marvel Universe line. Back in stock are entries from the previous wave (Spider-Women, Spider-Man 2009, Modern Day Iron Man, and War World Hulk), as well as 5 new entries to the line, all straight from the X-Men side of comics. Two of these characters are new  in forms, so we’ll check those 2 out first before tackling the first time entries! Continue reading

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The Heroic Routine – Super Heroes in New Comics

FIRST OFF, Galacta: Daughter of Galactus one shot is out this week by Empowered creator Adam Warren. I expect you all to buy a copy. Two copies if you can. Adam is one of the brightest talents in the biz.

NOW:

Sequential comic books are categorically unfair to the heroes that must inhabit them. Every month the Flash must appear in a book, sometimes multiple books , and keep fighting the war on villainy. Already we have a problem.

That means that there is a never-ending supply of evil. The Flash can save the world, even the universe and still have to be beck next month to stop something else. In this economy it would be a small wonder to have job security like that.

Let us put this thought into the back of out thinking caps as we examine who the best strategists in comics are. Continue reading

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