Posted in Comics n Stuff

For the Geek in me, 2018 was awesome part 1: Comics

In a ‘challenging’ year there have been a number of times I needed to get out of my own head and just enjoy this and whilst pickings have been slim, what I have found to enjoy I really have enjoyed.I found a few titles that were new for this year that left an impression.

Domino


Domino is a background character from X-Force back in the 90’s. She had potential that has been glimpsed, but never really developed. Gail Simone took interesting b-list characters and fleshed them out in Birds of Prey and Secret Six for DC so was the idea person to give Domino the starting role she deserved. It has action, comedy, high stakes and a relatively continuity light story. It was above all fun.  With representation being very important, a high quality comic with a female lead, mostly female cast and written by a skilled writer is important when the majority of the industry has a predominantly white male feel to it.

Hawkman


Spinning out of an event I didn’t read about a character that I don’t like came this gem.

Take Indiana Jones, add a touch of Highlander and splash in some Conan the Barbarian and wings and you get this guy. This is a fun book that has action, mystery and a flying barbarian who does feel the need to wear shirts. The art is something of a selling point here with Bryan Hitch back on form. It’s not epoch making stuff, but it’s the best Hawkman I have seen in a long time.
Superman/Action Comics



Superman turned 80 this and in a convenient bit of timing,  Action Comics reached the milestone of 1000 issues. As a fresh start sort of thing, DC just as they did in the late 80’s handed their flagship character to one of Marvel’s big guns who wrote a 6 issue series called Man of Steel. Taking the John Byrne told was Brian Michael Bendis on words and a  rotating cast of artists which attempted to breathe new life into an 80 year old character that many struggle to get. Mission accomplished. Bendis has a knack for dialogue and clawing new ideas from older ones and he writes a new but still very recognisable Superman. We have the Daily Planet, Lois Lane and a Metropolis that works as a city and a character. We have new histories, New villains and it’s the best the character had been in a long time.

Fantastic Four


With the media rights held at Fox, Marvel has downplayed their First Family for the last few years. Human Torch was in the Inhumans titles before arrives in Uncanny Avengers, whilst the Thing was in Guardians of the Galaxy and then Infamous Iron Man, the pair reunited in the excellent Marvel Two in One, which led to the return of the FF. After a long run on Amazing Spider-Man, Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli crafted a comic that feels like the Fantastic Four, this was fun sci-fi with heart that reminded me why I like the characters in the first place.  I enjoyed the start and am looking forward to the next issue, which is waiting upstairs as I write this. 😁

X-Men


The year started well for the children of the Atom. X-Men Blue and X-Men Gold were really good and it was joined by X-Men Red and the 5 week long X-Men Black, which focuses on the villains as well as a story that reinvigorated Apocalypse as a character. Then came Exterminated the 5 part story which ended the original X-Men in their teens pulled into the future story in a fairly satisfying way. This also ended X-Men’s Blue and Gold series and so it was relaunched under its old name Uncanny X-Men with a weekly schedule and rotating creators, giving you X-Content every week, without the stress of following multiple titles. It’s fun, well put together with a compelling story and a huge cast. It’s the most interested in the X-Men I have been since Whedon did Astonishing 15 years ago.

Also the side projects are good too, with Ed Piskor doing a condensed history of the X-Men in Grand Designs, which was absolutely amazing as a story and a look at the history and continuity of what can be a tangled ball of continuity string at the best of times.

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Posted in Comics n Stuff

Rest in Peace Mr Lee

​After my post yesterday, I checked FaceBook and hear the news that at 95 Stanley ‘Stan Lee’ Lieber had passed away. Without a thought I started writing and this is what I came up with.

Of all the celebrity deaths, this is the one that effects me. Stan ‘The Man’e was a legend who influenced and affected so many people over his life. His work enriched many childhoods including mine. His ideas, his collaborations with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko changed the face of popular culture in ways that may never be calculated. To me, his stories taught me to never give up, to treat everyone well, despite colour, creed or origin. His stories taught me wonder, the idea of other worlds and responsibility. His creations litter my home, my memory my DVD collection. My first comic was Original X-Men 1, reprinting X-Men from 1963. He changed comics forever, working with the best creators of the age to create a fictional shared universe that is still thriving today over 55 years later. He was the ambassador for comics and the voice of Marvel for many years. When comic book movies became a bigger thing, it was always the idea that the movie only starts when Stan Lee shows up.
Thank you Stan, you created a world for us all to play in and give us a direction to head for, onward and upwards towards glory.

Excelsior.

Posted in Comics n Stuff

5 Non-Franchise Superhero teams.

And as we approach the weekend.

Avengers, Justice League and the X-Men, all marquee teams of super-people and all subjects of the proliferation problem in 80’s and 90’s comics, with multiple teams and multiple books. From West Coast Avengers, to Young Justice and X-Factor, it’s easy to believe a set of characters is only good if they either are, it’d have spin-off or satellite teams. But often my favourite teams are either one offs, or using a second hand name.

Thunderbolts.

First appearing in an issue of The Incredible Hulk, this was a new team of heroes that rose to prominence in the post-Onslaught era of the Marvel Universe, consisting of Citizen V, Atlas, Meteorite, Techno, Mach-1_and Songbird, they were just new heroes inspired to fill the void left by the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. It soon transpired that this was a new incarnation of the Masters of Evil, in reality they were Baron Zemo, Goliath III, Moonstone, Fixer, the Beetle and Screaming Mimi.This series was by Kurt Buziek and Mark Bagley and was a highlight of Marvel’s Heroes Reborn era. After ditching Baron Zemo/Citizen V, this team of criminals tried their hand at actually being heroes, it was well written and had great art and the sense that anything could happen as these bad guys tried to be something more.

WildC.A.T.S. Covert Action Teams

One of the first wave of Image comics in the early 90’s, it was the brainchild of X-title wunderkind Jim Lee and was a sci-fi tale of aliens and alien human hybrids in covert battle with less friendly aliens. It was more sci-fi than super-heroics, but with a memorable line-up: Emp, Void, Maul, Warblade, Grifter, Zealot and Spartan and then several additions and status quo changes, it was never boring.

New Warriors

Another 90’s Marvel title with Mark Bagley art, this time with Fabian Niceza on words. This was a mix of underused and forgotten characters, this was an ‘Arby’s team of young heroes including Firestar, Nova, Speedball, Namorita and Marvel Boy, together with new characters Silhouette and Night Thrasher. There were 90’s cliches paired with a social conscience of a sort and a rapidly changing roster that kept the series interesting and the team was never gone for too long.

Stormwatch

A second tier Image title, it was written by Jim Lee with help from Brandon Choi and had art by Scott Clark, although a consistent art team would be hard to find for this story of a UN run super soldier crisis response team. With very 90’s members such as Batallion, Winter, Hellstrike, Diva, Fuji, Weatherman and Backlash, they were different from what Marvel and DC were doing at the time. Part Avengers, part Star Trek, this was an interesting idea that struggled to find it’s identity after the first few issues and benefitted greatly from a new writer when Warren Ellis took over and retooled the book considerably.

Guardians of the Galaxy

This was a bit obvious for me, rather than the second team with the name that appeared in the mid 00’s, this was a sort of Avengers in the futures with space opera trappings and more than the odd reference to the modern Marvel Universe. The team of Martinex T’Naga, Yondu Udonta, Aleta Ogord, Charlie-27, Nicholette Gold, Starhawk and Vance Astro all became favourite characters of mine, especially when Jim Valentino gave them their own title in 1990. I loved this series so much as one of the first comics that really hooked me. I could write about it all day, but I did a blog about it, which lays it all out quite effectively.

These were 5 teams that weren’t huge sellers or multi-title franchises, but were a lot of fun and I enjoyed each one, more than once.

Posted in Comics n Stuff

For the Love of Comics: The loss of a titan

Found out that Steve Ditko passed away at 90 years of age. One of the trinity of silver age marvel along with the late Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Ditko was a massive part of comics history. The man who defined the look, feel and much of the plotting of the first few years of Amazing Spider-Man, he was a legend of the time, having a  distinct style which was uniquely his. His work on Spider-Man and Doctor Strange were iconic and much of the characters he came up with, still are used today, with only small cosmetic changes to them.

I don’t have some story to tell, how Spider-Man or Doctor Strange comics changed my life, but I have recently been re-reading some early Spider-Man stories, some even last night and it makes his loss somewhat sadder. To his friends or family, he’s gone, but for the millions of comic fans who adored his work, his legacy is immortal.

Good journey Mr Ditko and thankyou for all you gave to us.

 

Posted in Comics n Stuff, The MIGHTY Rosie

For the Love of Comics: The Power of Family

At the start of the year, I went to a comic mart near my home in Liverpool and to be honest, wasn’t in any way shape or form, impressed. Less dealers, less deals to be made and a sense of heigh-ho, here we go again. So when the next comic mart came up, I decided to go to the slightly larger one in Manchester. My intent was pretty much to go on my own, whilst the MIGHTY Rosie is geek-friendly or geek-adjacent, she is somewhat less an addict as I am, so given that, I expected to go alone. Instead, she decided to come with me and bring our boy.

Now let us be clear, I do not mean that I didn’t want to go with her, but I am uncomfortable when someone does a lot for me and since I don’t drive, my wife drove me there for little to no benefit to herself. When it comes to comics, I don’t feel comfortable asking someone to put themselves out for me, I really don’t, which I accept is dysfunction since I would do for someone else. We all went, it was a lovely sunny day, warm and bright, making me feel even more that we should be doing something else instead of feeding my addiction, but I digress.

We got to the mart and it was bigger than the Liverpool one, as expected, but with our recent experience of a sci-fi con and the recent increase in comic-cons and coverage of them, it may have been a little disappointing to the MIGHTY Rosie. It was, as most marts tend to be, lots of less than socially confident men, going through boxes, often with a list. There was an upside, saw an FaceBook friend there and that was a nice plus.

Then came the place to be at a comic mart, the cheap boxes. 50p and 75p comics are the place to dig for gold and dig I did.

I didn’t plug that many gaps in my collection, but I saw lots of fun stuff that I could have a look at, without breaking the bank.

That wasn’t the highlight of that particular trip, no, because as I usually do, I picked up something for Sam (in this case a trade of the start of the Jurgens/Romita Jnr run on Thor which is a bit of an under-rated classic) and when I expected him to run off bored, I instead find him at the longbox next to me, looking at comics. Not for me, he just wanted to be doing the same thing and started looking and picking some stuff up. He ended up getting a Justice League comic and some Rebirth era Aquaman. Him looking for his own comics, next to me, got me a little choked up. The moment passed and we headed out. Every eager to do something else. Before we left, I made sure I picked up a copy of X-Men vol 2 #1 and X-Force #1 (these were comics I got at the first couple of marts I went to back in the early 90’s, so it seemed fitting) and we got in the car and headed for home.

 

It was the drive home that I found the most touching, mum and dad in the front talking and son in the back, nose in a comic, oblivious to the world. He was me, a happier and better me and that right there was a beautiful moment that I don’t know I would have felt so clearly 9 months ago. Work has stressed me out, since this is the first year end that I haven’t been medicated in 4 years, so I’ve been feeling it. But that Saturday, I felt that too and it filled my heart.

Do I expect Sam to be a huge comic fan? Not really, but him getting the bug, just for an afternoon meant the world to me and the next weekend, when the sun came back out, we went to the park and played football for an hour or two. He got to be in my world for a bit and I returned the favour.

I get a lot out of comics and sci fi and all that stuff and all that, but my family are like the air in my lungs. I like having this place to talk geeky with all you fine internet people, but every now and again, I like to mention the things in my life that actually matter.

SuperSam, the MIGHTY Rosie, I love you both.

 

 

Posted in Comics n Stuff, Mental Health Struggles, Miscellaneous

Finding My 5, when I need them the most

Feeling it at the moment internet people. It’s a busy time of year. I work in payroll (not the greatest job ever, but it has its moments) and like many jobs, it has a ‘time of year’. Y’know like Christmas for shops, February for florists and January for other accountants here and for me, it’s April and I’ll be honest, it’s been one of worst Aprils in years hence my shocking tardiness with Trivial Calender posts. I have been trying to work out why it’s been so bad. Is it the legislation changes? The workplace pension stuff that’s encroaching upon my job, or the fifty of so shitty clients I have recently inherited from a colleague? It could be any of those things as well as the one other thing that I knew. This is the first year I can actually feel it. I spent the first 35 years of my life repressing a lot of my feelings, leaving me unable to fully experience and express how I feel. Then came my breakdown, then I spent 4.5 years on medication that at best locked my worst feelings away, or at worst stopped me feeling anything. Over the last year I have started waking up more and on the positive side that’s happier times with SuperSam, Wilma the WFT dog and the MIGHTY Rosie, on the less positive side, well it was a rough April and it’s bleeding into May. Now as I am in May, I realise the main difference is not how I feel about work, it’s what I do afterward. I am more vocal about how I feel and more away that no matter how bad work is, it’s one part of my day and it’s a part that I can handle. I am OK, work not being good isn’t some great personal failing. I know this because it’s what I teach my son.

“When is the only time we fail?” I ask him.

“When we give up.” he answers, I have taught him never to give up and in return, that wonderful little boy is teaching me that. So yes, work is making me it’s bitch in the early rounds, but I am not out and will not give in, or give up.

Well, that got a little deep, didn’t it?

Soon fix that.

Since work has been less than stellar, the need to distract myself has been a bit greater, so have been reading and watching more stuff that has been good, so in the interest of being positive, am finding my 5

5 Things I have enjoyed in April.

Saga:


A mate of mine was laid up before Christmas with his leg and to keep him entertained, lent him a whole bunch of trades. A month or so ago, he gave them back and so I recently re-read the first 7 trades of Saga. Saga is the work of writer Brian K Vaughn and penciller Fiona Staples in an epic sci-fi tale about the life of a little girl, born in war to two parents, each from an opposing side in the conflict that seems to span known space. It is full of amazing characters, epic visuals, and twists, and turns, many hope that their beloved stories hit the screen, me I don’t know how they could get this right. Although I would love to see lying cat on TV or film.

Cougar Town:

I have started a new writing project. (More on that story later) It required me to watch an episode of this less regarded sitcom and once I watch that episode, me and the MIGHTY Rosie started watching it again have been enjoying it more than ever. I may write more about it, but like I said, more on that story later.

Jessica Jones Season 2:

Some Spoilers

After Daredevil hit Netflix for the first time, Marvel had an unexpected hit on their hands, well written, well acted and with a tone that differed so much from the Cinematic Universe as for both to completely ignore one another. Their second attempt was a more recent creation and a bit of a risk, but with an excellent cast and a solid story well told season 1 was a success. Once Defenders was done, the second wave started and with that came season 2 of Jessica Jones.

I will be honest with its themes of post-traumatic stress, unethical medicine, addiction and it’s uncompromising use of violence, it’s a hard sit. But over a couple of weekends, I watched the difficult second story and it worked really well. Rather than pad out Jessica story to fit the 13 episodes, it went into more detail with Jeri Hogarth’s medical issues, Malcolm’s search for belonging and Patsy Walker’s descent from likable supporting character to an almost completely unrecognisable person. The idea of the series seems to be a family is whatever you make it, wherever you find it, but not much can fuck you up like family. They were even able to pull off the returning villain Killgrave (David Tennant clearly having fun once again) and the flashback episode without cliche being poured all over it. The cast did really well and the story ends up with everyone’s life very different, but room to either flesh it all out for another series or call it a day without leaving too much undone, the best way to end it that I can think of.

Action Comics 1000:

Superman hits 4 figures, weird to think it, but there it is. Action Comics 1 was on the stands 80 years ago. That is mental when you think about it. The superhero has been with us 80 years. This overpriced comic (I’m sorry, it was overpriced, but I wasn’t going to miss it.) wasn’t part of some great story, or the start of a brand new era it was simply a love letter to the comic that started it all. We had stories from the current rebirth era, the crisis to crisis era, some Golden Age stuff, some Silver Age stuff and other bits and pieces besides and felt like a goodbye to the Superman we have at the moment, the ones he’s been before and a sneak preview of the new start being written by Brian Michael Bendis. I re-read it a couple of times and really did enjoy it. It made me want to give Bendis a try on this series, even though I have been burned before. But, not going to stop being an addict today am I?

Avengers: Infinity War

The 19th Marvel Movie in 10 years and the 18th that I watched in the cinema. With our boy at his grandmother’s the MIGHTY Rosie and I had a Sunday morning to ourselves and we decided to go to the pictures. I am not going to put any spoilers, but I can tell you one thing, it’s very good.

The entire main cast of the MCU is there with the exception of Ant-Man and Hawkeye and no one feels extraneous, everyone gets a little moment here, some get several. The performances are solid and Josh Brolin gives Thanos a degree of depth and pathos that really fleshed out the character and his motives make sense, he truly is the hero of this story from his point of view.

I could go on and on, but to be honest, I would like people to see it for themselves. It’s an old-school crossover event, a story told in several places that link up, heroes working together and the stakes as high as they can be. I watched a huge comics event on screen, on a couch, next to the love of my life, who enjoyed it too. Dreams can come true people, even the smaller ones.

 

The point of this post internet people (if there is one, to be honest, I just wanted to have something written down, I feel I haven’t written in too long) is that I am not having a great time of it in general, but that is in no way an excuse to wallow. Work is a pain in the arse, but there’s good stuff to watch and read and god people in my life to share this stuff with. Yesterday was horrible until 5, but ate tea with my family and ended up on the couch with the MIGHTY Rosie at the end of the day. Today can be as bad as it likes, if that’s how I end it.

I’ve been gone too long, but I am back.

Take care of yourselves internet people, then you can take care of eachother.