Wednesday, September 30, 2015

1970's Flashback: Cerebus

Cerebus created by Canadian writer-artist Dave Sim published from December 1977 until March 2004, is a title that can’t be easily summed up. Beginning as a parody of sword and sorcery comics, it later moved into seemingly any topic that Sim wished to explore: power and politics, religion and spirituality, gender issues, and more over the course of a 300-issue, 6000 story-page series.

The series stands out for its experimentation in form and content, and for the dexterity of its artwork, especially after background artist Gerhard joined in with the 65th issue. However as the series progressed, it increasingly became a platform for Sim's controversial beliefs.  Sim was a frequent marijuana user, began using LSD, taking the drug with such frequency that he was eventually hospitalized. He eventually cut all ties with his family and virtually all of his industry colleagues apart from Gerhard in order to finish the work. He has had very public fallings-out with some of his peers. Sim became a believer in God while gathering research material for "Rick's Story". However, rather than following any established religion, Sim follows his own personal belief system cobbled together from elements of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; all of which impacted Cerebus in his final story arcs, segments of which are extremely misogynistic towards women.
Starting with the acclaimed “High Society” storyline, the series became divided into self-contained "novels", which form parts of the overall story. The ten "novels" of the series have been collected in 16 books, known as "Cerebus phonebooks" for their resemblance to telephone directories. He had originally angered many retailers who felt that their support had been instrumental in his series' success in an industry generally indifferent to small publishers — by offering the first printings of the phonebooks via mail order only (a highly lucrative decision that paid off well for Sim).

Friday, September 25, 2015

1980's Flashback: Captain Marvel

Monica Rambeau made her debut within the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16 in 1982. Her energy generation, absorption & manipulation powers allow Monica to convert her body into any form of energy within the electromagnetic spectrum and travel at speeds up to the speed of light while in her energy form (including through the vacuum of space). This makes her a pretty tough individual, and she has proven herself to be a capable leader within the ranks of the Avengers.

Unfortunately she seems to suffer an inconvenient name change every decade. She was dubbed Photon in 1996, and was again rebranded as Pulsar in 2005. Lately the former “Captain Marvel” received her latest heroic identity as Spectrum (um, did Marvel forget their other versions of Doctor Spectrum too)? Additional aliases that she has endured are Daystar, Sceptre, Lady of Light, Monica Marvel, and Sun Goddess. Maybe one of these days at least one of these monikers will permanently stick. The character was co-created by Roger Stern and John Romita Jr.

Friday, September 11, 2015

1970's Flashback: Ghita of Alizarr

1984 #7 (Aug.1979)
Ghita of Alizarr is a sexy female barbarian warrior like Red Sonja (creator Frank Thorne previously drew Red Sonja for Marvel Comics), but her adventures have a sexual nature. The character first appeared in 1984 #7 (Aug.1979) published by Warren Magazines. She continued her adventures in a handful of issues released by Eros Comix in the 1980’s too. Today Ghita serves as both a late 1970’s Flashback and also as a quick “Gal” Friday, since it has been a while since I posted one of those. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

What's the "alternative?"

I'm not a fan of the current massive wave of alternate covers that most comic book publishers drown us in. Some are quite nice and usually those bring back former greats to remind us all of their talents or to add a nostalgic aspect to a current property. But face it, tiger; most of these damn things are produced solely to give some shop owner the option to charge even more dollars for the same comic that everyone else is reading at the original cover price. WTF??

Here is a recently solicited cover by the terrific Dale Keown for the upcoming relaunch of Marvel Comics Red Wolf series. Of course the impending series is likely going to be depicted in a modern setting, but the thing is if the Keown version was how they intended Red Wolf to be presented and if it was drawn by Dale Keown, I would so be there for that title. A careful reading of the incoming creator credits quickly dashes that small hope, so again what is the point of this type of cover - other than to let the shop owners charge a premium price to acquire it? Basically this image is not representative of anything accurate to either the upcoming monthly or the original bronze age hero (a character that I liked and have all of his appearances in spiffy mint condition). Oh well, if this is what floats your boat, have at it! I do NOT buy a comic simply to get the cover, even when it is as highly desirable and nice as this one is.

Monday, September 7, 2015

"So say we all!"

I've just returned from a weekend in Atlanta, Georgia attending the annual Dragoncon, along with seventy thousand other people. I've regularly visited this multi-media show since 1991, and it always impresses me how accessible the celebrities are at this convention. Not counting dozens of popular authors, comic book industry favorites, and all manner of experts from the fields of science, technology and various creative arts, there are usually no less than seven dozen or so actors from virtually every genre type series or film that you could name. I'm a huge fan of the reimagined Battlestar: Galactica televisions series which aired between 2004-2009, and I had met or seen everyone from that cast multiple times, other than Grace Park. So it was very nice to finally have her at the show, and thus I opted for the group shot of all cast members who were there this  year. In the photo [standing; left-right]: Aaron Douglas (Galen Tyrol); James Callis (Dr. Gaius Baltar); Tricia Helfer (Cylon Number Six); Grace Park (Sharon "Boomer" Valerii/Agathon); Michael Trucco (Sam Anders); Edward James Olmos (Admiral William Adama) and then seated Jamie Bamber (Captain Lee Adama) and myself (in place of Col. Tigh). Enjoy and/or eat your heart out!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

1970's Flashback: John Stewart

John Stewart originally debuted in the pages of Green Lantern vol. 2 #87 (Dec. 1971) when artist Neal Adams came up with the idea of a substitute Green Lantern as the first African-American hero in the pages of DC Comics. John Stewart has become a major recurring character in the Green Lantern mythos and he became the primary Green Lantern between issues #182 through #200, when Hal Jordan relinquished his role within the Green Lantern Corps (1984–1986). Stewart has continued to star in various iterations of the title such as The Green Lantern Corps, Action Comics Weekly, and Green Lantern: Mosaic.
John Stewart was featured as one of the lead characters on the televised cartoon Justice League from 2001 until 2004 and its sequel, Justice League Unlimited. Going from "semi-obscurity in the mainstream to absolute name recognition" thanks to his starring role in the acclaimed Justice League cartoons in 2011, John Stewart starred in the “New 52” relaunched Green Lantern Corps alongside Guy Gardner, and eventually became the sole lead character (until the series' cancellation in 2015). That series was soon replaced by Green Lantern: The Lost Army, which again stars John Stewart as the lead hero.
Green Lantern #87 (Dec.1971)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dragon Age: Inquisition comes to its conclusion!

I've been a huge fan of Biowares fantasy rpg from day one, following along with each new protagonist since 2009's Dragon Age: Origins to Dragon Age 2 in 2011 and last years Dragon Age: Inquisition. Whether as the Warden aka The Hero of Ferelden, Hawke aka The Champion of Kirkwall or our current Inquisitor, each entry into this acclaimed franchise has upped the stakes for fans. Bioware just announced that on September 8, 2015 (not quite a year from its original launch last November), they will offer "Trespasser" billed as the final DLC for their award winning entry.

Trespasser will allow fans to have an entirely new adventure set two years after the main campaigns conclusion, so you will need to have completed the game to access this content. A chance to determine the final fate of the organization that you built alongside a party of friends and companions, with a new threat pending that will in all likelihood set up storytelling elements leading into their next sequel; plus the return of a former friend who factored heavily in the franchises first post-game credits scene. Previous dlc for Inquisition included:

Jaws of Hakkon - Discover the fate of the last Inquisitor and the powerful dragon he hunted. Enter an overgrown wilderness filled with Avvar, fiercely independent hunters who settled in the southern mountains ofThedas. Find an ancient Tevinter fortress that hides a dangerous secret.
The Descent - Explore the legendary Deep Roads, but ensure that you come prepared. A perilous journey awaits underground, where vast, darkspawn-infested caverns will challenge the Inquisition like never before
The Black Emporium; Spoils of the Avvar; Spoils of the Qunari; and multi-player upgrades such as Destruction and Dragonslayer.