REVIEW: “Thunderbolts” #5

(Marvel NOW!, 2013)   -   Reviewed by J.G. Butler

thunderbolts-5I’ve been really enjoying this title.  Super silly, gory, and full of great over the top action!  Even though I’m not totally familiar with all the characters they feel true and right where they should be.  The intro thingy on the back of the cover talks about how they were brought together to take down evil they could never have reached on their own.  Which they do, you just don’t care who it is - and neither do they.  The king or whatever of somewhere is really mean to his people and has enough power to be a threat to some other country and more importantly has something powerful the big wigs want, blah blah blah.  It doesn’t really matter with this title.  Deadpool, Elektra, Punisher and Venom just like killing bad guys and we like to watch.  Of course Gen. Ross has his own agenda that gradually unfolds, and members of the team begin to uncover super crazy stuff happen behind the scenes in what is already a horrible place to live.  Throw in a “angel” and a love triangle and you’re ready for anything.  Very gory without trying too hard.

Deadpool and Punisher are a great goofball and straight man team, but the scene where Punisher straps a landmine on himself bothers me.  Sure, he might do that were alone, trying to save a bus full of kids or something, but not when there is a big mouth smart ass with the ability to regenerate standing right next to him to strap it to.  WTF!

For the most part the writing by Daniel Way (Astonishing X-Men, Ghost Rider, Incredible Hulk) is solid and easy enough to follow.  The artwork from Steve Dillon (Preacher, Avenging Spider-Man, Hellblazer) is good but every character’s face is as flat as the backgrounds. The coloring is horrible, and makes everyone look plastic.  Most of the time it looks like the characters were drawn separately from the panels and backgrounds, to be layered together later.  Also, a light source of some kind seems to be coming from everywhere, even in the jungle - no shadows or shading except by their own bodies on themselves.

This is a very fun read but sad to say I won’t be surprised if we see the creative mojo run out after a year or so.

WRITING:  7.5 / 10

ARTWORK:  5 / 10



REVIEW: “Superman: Red Son” (2003)

(DC Comics, 2003)   -   Reviewed by Jose Sagastume

SupermanredsonAlthough not originally mentioned in the comics the notion that Superman fights for “truth, justice, and the American way” has been around for quite some time and has become as iconic as his logo. In Red Son Mark Millar gives us a universe where Superman never landed on a small town in Kansas but instead lands on a collective farm in the Ukraine. He is raised to firmly believe in communism and ends up as the champion of the common worker, fighting a never ending battle for Stalin, Socialism, and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact.

The three issue miniseries starts off in the middle of the twentieth century when Superman’s existence is revealed to the world by the Soviet Union. The existence of a superhuman throws the United States into instant panic and immediately tips the scale of the Cold War in favor of the USSR subsequently taking the focus of the war from Nuclear Weapons to superhumans. The United States hires Lex Luthor, a brilliant scientist from S.T.A.R. Labs, to bring an end to Superman. It should go as no surprise that Luthor fails in his first few attempts at destroying Superman and it becomes his lifelong obsession.

Without going into spoiler territory the story is beautifully told throughout the three issues and will have you hooked from beginning to end. The fascinating aspect of the plot is that neither Superman nor Luthor is inherently good or evil. In fact both characters seem to cross the line multiple times throughout the series. Another great thing about Red Son is the way Millar manages to incorporate characters like Brianiac, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Bizarro into the confines of this new universe. The origins are similar yet different enough that they work well within the story. As far as the art goes there’s not much for me to say besides the fact that it’s gorgeous. Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett did an amazing job throughout the series. I was especially fond of the cover art for each of the issues.

Whether you consider yourself a Superman fan or not you owe it to yourself to check out this miniseries. It’s a great story and an interesting take on the Superman mythos and these days the TPB should run about ten dollars.


REVIEW: “Uncanny Avengers” #4

(Marvel NOW!, 2013)   -   Reviewed by Feral Fang

Uncanny-Avengers-4I should begin this with saying I am one who really enjoyed last year’s “Avengers Vs. X-Men” crossover event, and honestly think it was one of the most fun events since the whole ‘House of M’ imaginative craziness.  That said, I am very excited and surprised at how Marvel has used the large number of crossovers it has had in the past decade or so and woven so much of them into current continuity.  Titles from all over the Marvel spectrum have been the direct result of these events and major story arcs, like the “New Avengers” focus on the Illuminati, “Civil War” still being mentioned and the ramifications still felt.  This is the kind of Marvel Universe they had always teased at since I was a kid.  Instead of guest starring roles, hero-vs-hero battles, and team-ups to integrate the Universe, it feels to me like they have done a damn good job running the threads from these into the titles they have today.  Which brings us to this title, “Uncanny Avengers”.  This is one I came in a little late on, but since issue #2 I’ve had nothing but excitement for this book.  I really enjoy the ‘casting’ so to speak, and feel they have already become a cohesive team.  I was at first annoyed at Captain America being a member, but when he named Havoc as team leader I felt a bit better about it.  It still bothers me a bit, but - hey! - it’s an “Avengers” related title, so you get what you get.  Mainly, Cap and/or S.H.I.E.L.D.  And that’s fine.

The first arc for “Uncanny Avengers” have been a blast, and that’s both a pun and a truth.  After the events of “A vs. X”, Professor Xavier is dead, and the Red Skull has a plan - take Xavier’s brain, somehow attach it to his own, and gain Professor X’s psychic powers.  The ‘Uncanny Avengers’ team, while being formed as a sort of publicity stunt to show the world mutants and humans can work together in peace, quickly finds themselves in their first adventure - and one that just might kill them.  Red Skull, using the powers of Xavier’s brain as a device for mind control, sets his S-Men and the now-enthralled civilians of the surrounding area against the team, and even mutants as a whole.  As people are given the ability to see the mutant in people who may or may not know it, they become a mob of murder, beatings, and blood.  Heroes are beat to bulging versions of themselves, a God is controlled by Skull - so much goes bad in the first three issues that it left me waiting for this newest one with an almost ‘happy panic’.  So, I got it, and read it.  And, even with some things that stuck out in a bad way, I really, really enjoyed it.

Crafting such a smooth and excitingly told story in only four issues is a feat for any writer, I’d imagine, but Rick Remender once again rises to the occasion.  The characters, while well known already, have found a new space to grow in this title, and Remender has used it to it’s maximum potential.  Rivalries and tempers still flare from “A vs. X”, Havoc’s fear of failure is strongly developed, and given even more depth with a flashback scene of young Alex and Scott, surviving a horrible situation.  In that tiny scene it explains the brother’s constant struggles without needing more (for now), or not being enough.  The writing and script, through all four issues, is just like that, as well.  Not too much or too little, just a well written arc with some very interesting character development and high-end action and drama.  It really hits you as this story unfolds, the scale and scope of what is happening, and by the time you arrive at issue #4 you feel like you’ve been through the same violent and disturbing fight the team themselves had just been through.  The story is rough, takes no prisoners, and is as brutal as it needs to be.  Again, there’s that balance.

I do have one beef with the writing, and that’s in the way Remender handles Cap.  As stated, I know it’s almost always a guarantee that he will be in any “Avengers” oriented book in one fashion or another.  It’s his crew, I get that.  But a lot of times, and especially in this title, he never really feels like more than a cardboard cut-out of Captain America, even when he fights aside or within whichever team.  That’s why it disappoints me so much in this particular comic, because of the great character building that the title is filled with.  Captain America has been around a long time, and his story and character has been explored in more ways than most comic book characters in history, but there *has* to be more, or something else you can add to the legacy.  Really, there has to be growth, which I don’t see at all in “Uncanny Avengers”.  It’s just stereotypical Cap doing what Cap does.  The entire situation around him is becoming worse than a nightmare, and the only character not written like they’re actually in the midst of such a battle is, of course, Cap.  It’s awkward, and makes me wonder why he’s even here in the first place.

My main problem with this title is, no matter how much I love it and enjoy reading it, I can’t get around John Cassaday’s art.  His art is workable, and isn’t exactly horrible or even bad, it’s just boring.  Sadly, as the issues go onward, his work gets a bit worse each issue, until we get the seemingly hyper-rushed mess that is the art in this fourth issue.  Some scenes look pretty good, but then you’ll get a handful of panels that look more like rough sketches that were accidentally inked.  His work is mostly clean and clear, as it tends to usually be, but some of the work in this title has made me even less of a fan of his, and to be honest I wasn’t really one to begin with.

This title is awesome, fun, huge, and deeply character driven in the down-time.  It is one I will be gladly buying as they’re released.  I just wish they’d get somebody else on the artwork.  Sorry, Cassaday, but you and Cap are the weight on this otherwise effortless comic.

WRITING:  8 / 10

ARTWORK:  6 / 10





(DC Comics, 2013)   -   Reviewed by J.G. Butler

Vibe-1Sometimes rebooting a character can leave some of the more interesting aspects of the original behind.  In this recently released ‘New 52’ reboot of 80’s hero Vibe, the boy who becomes Vibe isn’t the previously deceased Paco Ramone, ex-gang leader and overall street smart kid, but Francisco “Cisco” Ramon (why they dropped the ‘e’ in “Ramone”, I have no idea), a youthfully excited kid living with his Father and two brothers, Armando and Dante in Detroit.  Armando is the oldest of the 3 brothers, and is looking to leave for college soon, so he can return and help his younger siblings make their way, as well.  As they are discussing their collective futures, the blast of a Boom Tube opening right near them startles Armando into action, attempting to pull Cisco to safety.  As Armando continues to pull at his brother he calls out to Dante for assistance, who - frozen in fear - stares back, but does nothing.  Suddenly, a Parademon appears and before Cisco’s unbelieving eyes kills his brother, Armando.

Five years pass, and it’s a Remembrance Day for all that were lost during the Darkseid invasion the Boom Tube was a part of.  It’s especially hard for Cisco, watching the news feed, as Armando was the very first person killed in the attack.  Of course, this makes his older brother the perfect ‘poster child’ for the tragic losses people across the globe had experienced.  After meeting with Dante over a burger, Cisco is approached by Agent Dale Gunn of A.R.G.U.S., the militaristic organization put together after the Darkseid attack to deal with Super Powered incidents.  It seems as though someone has been caught on camera saving a woman from being robbed at an ATM.  The picture of the hero is completely blurred, but Cisco is told that he is the one in the photo.  Why he doesn’t know this isn’t talked about, and this situation at the ATM is never brought up again.  Very odd.  Agent Gunn explains that, when the Boom Tube hit so near to him and Armando, Cisco was caught in the Event Horizon, where he was exposed to “inter-dimensional winds”.  This has changed Cisco’s “Internal Vibration Frequency”, making him no longer fully in sync with “the rest of the world”.  This not only causes him to be completely blurred in photos, videos, etc., but also gives him the ability to sense beings and energies from other dimensions.  The remainder of the story has some ‘spoiler’ moments, so we’ll just leave it at that.

This is a good title, one I enjoyed more than I thought I would.  It is a perfect example of how to introduce (or reboot) a character.  It’s a great opening chapter that gives us enough meat and bones to get a good idea on Cisco and his world, and it brings you to care about him, even in this very first issue.  Writers should take note, as the horrible state of first issues these days have them feeling more like half an issue, rushing through the needed plot and character points to get issue #2 in your hands.  This story is told with grace, and feels like a complete intro because of this.  Some future drama between Cisco and his family is firmly established, as are problems within A.R.G.U.S. itself and what it might mean for our new hero.

Some things that stood out, however, were the artwork and the suit design.  The art is decent, but sometimes boringly so.  It’s competent, but nothing new or interesting.  There are some flubbed panels occasionally, and the style seems to take a few changes throughout the issue.  The suit looks ridiculous, like some poor attempt at character design in the old “City of Heroes” PC game from a decade or so ago.  It’s ugly in color and design, and is distracting in it’s oddly thrown together look.  Had I not read this for review purposes, I most likely would not have read this at all.  He really looks that annoying.  Another thing that got to me is this new group (as of ‘Justice League’ #7 last year) A.R.G.U.S.  In many different ways - the uniforms and battle suits they wear, the A.R.G.U.S. logo covering everything, a bunker with huge computers, and Agents - it makes me wonder -  is this just DC’s unoriginal version of S.H.I.E.L.D.?  To me, it certainly seems that way, and their greater presence in these books as they progress is already getting tiring.

Even with all that being true, the characters and story have me hooked enough for now, and I’ll be moving on to issue #2 as soon as it’s out.  Not a complete package, but a good read and a greatly executed intro to a ‘new’ character.

WRITING:  7.5 / 10

ARTWORK:  6 / 10




REVIEW: “Li’l Gotham” #6

(DC Comics Digital Firsts, 2013)   -   Reviewed by Feral Fang

Bats-LilGotham-no6--cover1--ii‘Lil’ Gotham’ has been one of my favorite comics since launch, especially at the unbelievable price of 99 cents an issue, but I may be heavily biased due to the fact that I am one of the largest ‘Batman Freaks’ I know of.  Once I saw Dustin Nguyen’s beautiful Bat Family artwork surfacing, I instantly fell in love with its child-like humor and visual beauty.  It was amazing stuff - painted lightly but with a range of color that would go from near pastel to deep, rich tones.  While the character designs and look of the style were much like a children’s book, they were spot on, allowing it to be a weirdly perfect fit within the usually darker Batman universe.  The figures were strong, with such well placed hints of detail that you instantly knew which character you were looking at.  Upon seeing the release of the first installment of the digital only “Lil’ Gotham” series, I figured I had just found a new favorite comic.  And I was very happy to be correct in that assumption.

Since last year’s opening Halloween-themed issue they’ve released 5 more, all based on and released near certain Holidays.  I quickly found that the title was as genius and amazing I had hoped.  And maybe even better.  Written by Derek Fridolfs and Nguyen, so far we’ve seen stories for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Valentine’s Day.  All of these have been incredibly fun reads, taking a classic innocent silliness and mixing it into hints of the darkly serious tone of the usual Batman title.  I was amazed (and still am) at how well it worked.

Today saw the release of issue #6, which revolves around the Chinese New Year, and is one of the most well written issues to date.  For me, this new issue is exactly what I needed after #5’s Valentine’s Day story, which I found to be too unoriginal of a concept and the weakest in the series so far.  This issue opens with Damien, frustrated that his Father (that Batman guy) is too busy with business matters to train with him.  Alfred takes him to Chinatown, where there are celebrations already going on, and assures Damien that he will be training, after all.  Arriving at one of the original schools Bruce had trained at years prior, they are greeted and Damien finds Katana waiting there to train, as well.  Upon learning of a sacred blade that was recently stolen from the school, the training turns to a mission to find it.  This also cues Alfred to tell a story of his and Bruce’s past, in the first days of Batman.  This flashback is painted in black, white, and greys, all the while still as vibrant and perfectly shaded as the color work.  This flash has many great moments, including a very bitter-sweet nod to the ‘Flying Graysons’.  And that’s the kind of series this is - it will make you laugh out loud, you will marvel at how wonderfully charismatic the artwork is, and - for the Batman fans in the crowd - you’ll get plenty of canon references and other things that have always made it such a treat to be a fan of the Batman Family.  Expect to fall in love with these different but all too familiar versions of beloved characters, and - most of all - expect to fall in love with this title.  Even if you’re not the biggest Bats fan or even one at all, this series has all the humor, artistic quality, and great stories that should ‘seal the deal’ for just about any interested comic fan.  Brilliant, genius, and damn near perfect.

WRITING:  8 / 10

ARTWORK:  9 / 10





(IDW Publishing, 2013)   -   Reviewed by Ravingnerd

GIJoe-Number1-cover1A while back I was asked what I was most looking forward too about the 2013 comic industry. While I couldn’t pin just one down, I knew for sure that the relaunch of the entire G.I. Joe franchise was up there. The team of Fred Van Lente and Steve Kurth delivered a nice start to one of America’s most iconic franchises. The art is definitely the best aspect of this book, vivid, vibrant, and alive, it captures piece by piece the drama and immense action this book delivers. I don’t think I can express just how fabulous the art is. While the art was fantastic, the story was much less dynamic. While it served as a fantastic introduction to the characters involved, the plot was set up poorly. The Joe’s were sent into a mission that was poorly explained. Thus the reveal that Cobra was in control of the town they visited ended up not being a big deal. There was plenty of humor involved with the issue, which was refreshing and nice, but the overall set up was poorly set up. That being said, it is still one of the best war comics to come out of comics in the past few years. The characters are dynamic, and the direction is clear. The comic simply stumbled upon execution of its first major hurtle.

Overall a solid read, and of surprising quality. While many have laughed, the relaunch of G.I. Joe seems to be just what the franchise needs. If you have ever been interested in the title or are just looking for a good read, then this is your comic.

WRITING:  6 /10  - Nice direction, but stumbled with the execution.

ARTWORK:  8.5 /10  - Surprisingly solid and well done.

OVERALL EXPERIENCE:  7/10  - Surprisingly successful and quite fun.




(Marvel NOW!, 2013)   -   Reviewed by Feral Fang

NOVA-1-CoverMy history with Nova as a character is somewhat spotty, but he’s always been one interesting enough to me to ‘dip in’ when I could.  I’d find the random issues of the original series in the cheap-o comic boxes when I was a kid, and would usually pick up one or two.  It wasn’t the greatest comic or most original idea (it was always targeted for being “Green Lantern” meets “Spider-Man” - Spidey due to Nova being a teenager, “Green Lantern” due to his being a member of a multi-species intergalactic police force - the Nova Corp), but I loved the character design, the look of the comic, and well - it was just fun.  And cheap, too!  When they brought the Richard Rider version of Nova back with the early 90’s “New Warriors” title,  my interest grew even more.  As that title went it’s own way and I ventured elsewhere, I noticed over time that Nova was showing up more and more in the Marvel Universe, even getting a few mini-series and titles here and there.  Sadly, I never had the chance to pick up any of those series as they came out, but that’s just fine at the moment.  Why?  Because Nova is back.  Sort of.  No more Rider, enter Sam Alexander.

As a character, Sam is many things, and we learn this pretty early on.  After a quick look into Nova Corp past, we open on modern day Earth.  Sam is at school, where his Father - who may or may not have previously been one of the Nova Corp (Sam leans on the side of “not”) - is now the school Janitor, currently vomiting violently in the Boy’s bathroom.  Acknowledging the fact that he’ll actually be the one to (once again) finish the cleaning for his drunken Father, Sam helps him up and off to his garage.  He stands tall while his Father falls into a drunken sleep and in a telling shot, we see his Father’s old Nova helmet on a shelf behind him, tossed aside like forgotten sporting gear.  A closer shot makes it clear that there are workings involving the helmet that have yet to come into play. To me, all of these short instances - beginning right in this first scene at the school - sums up Sam’s character perfectly.  Though he hates the situation he’s in, and wishes more than anything to leave the small town of ‘Carefree’, he keeps it mostly inside and does what needs to be done.  He is at once a caring son and a frustrated ‘nurse’ for his Father, even if the frustration is based on his fear for his Father’s life and safety.  He is an older brother, with his sister Kaelynn, who he openly loves and watches over, joking with her about believing their Dad’s “stories” of his Nova Corp adventures. Though she is young enough to still believe in fantasies, she honestly fears that their Father will one day be called back by the “Novas”, as she calls them.  She believes him to be the “Greatest Nova Ever”, something she says with awe and respect.  There are major differences between these siblings, however.  While Kaelynn is cute, gentle, and trusting, Sam is snide and quick tempered - especially with his Mother, who might even be quicker to anger than Sam is.  She scolds Sam for not wanting Kaelynn to focus on such “fantasies”, eventually hinting at a greater story, stating that Sam has “no idea of the sacrifices” his Father had made.  Sam’s personality begins to take shape at this point.  He is a fighter, a care-giver, a jaded teenager and a loving brother.  He is also a dreamer - but this time he just might get more than he’s ever wanted.  It takes a love interest and a few colorful characters from the Marvel Universe to finally bring him to his apparent destiny - becoming the next Nova.  Which is perfect, since he believes his Dad’s stories are completely fiction.

This new Nova - or rather, Sam Alexander - is written like an angst-filled teenager, which makes perfect sense given his life at the moment.  I can understand that.  Jeph Loeb’s script, however, made him more annoying than troubled, and a character that is pretty hard to like, even given his love and care towards his sister and Father.  He’s whiny, selfish, and is written a bit unimaginatively, almost as if relying on the list of standard ‘disturbed teen’ cliches.  The rest of the book is a nicely spun drama with perfect touches of action and emotion, all balanced very well between one story environment to another.  While I enjoyed most of the script, I also felt it was missing something I couldn’t put my finger on.  The pacing is slightly fast moving, and I feel it read a bit too quickly, even in these days of ‘movie trailer’ length 1st issues.  An odd thing about this book is that I came into it not much of a fan of Ed McGuinness’ art, and left it very curious about what else he’s currently up to.  McGuinness’ artwork in this title is crisp, smooth, and rarely showed the ‘bulge’ look a lot of his earlier work had.  It really fit well, especially with the Nova universe backstory and ‘storytelling’ scenes.  In the end, it makes for a nicely fluid action story mixed between scenes of dark drama, some of which you would not expect given the almost completely silly looking cover.  All said, I enjoyed this title, and will be checking in for issue #2.  I at least owe Nova that much, after all these years of neglect.

WRITING:  7 / 10

ARTWORK:  7 / 10




REVIEW: “Snapshot” #1 (of 4)

(Image Comics, 2013)   -   Reviewed by Feral Fang

SNAPSHOT-COVER-1--small1I first saw “Snapshot” #1 solicited in ‘Previews’ not too long ago, and was instantly curious about this mini-series.  Being a big fan of Jock’s artwork, I was excited to get this black & white Noir story in my hands.  Not knowing much of writer Andy Diggle aside from his shining list of previous works, I was secure enough with the premise to pick this up the day of release.  I was not disappointed, I can tell you that!  The story is a simple but brilliant one - Jake, a worker at the local comic book shop ‘Near Mint Rhino’, finds a cellphone lying in the grass at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.  Thinking he has found himself a good way to make some easy money, he pockets the phone and heads off.  Arriving at the comic shop, we are introduced to Steve, who not only seems to be the store’s most loyal customer, but also somewhat of a friend to Jake.  In the store they talk about some hard to find comics, until Steve is pulled away by a call from his girlfriend, who is back at home organizing what looks to be their part in an anti-war rally.  While Jake is alone in the shop he decides to check out what he can find on the lost phone, and is very surprised by what he finds - possible photos of a murdered man, bullet to the head.  This is where the story takes a turn for the dangerous, and where the core of this story really starts to take off.

Jock’s art is as crazy and fun and amazingly rendered as always, and the lack of color makes his lines and shading all the more important, and handles that weight in spades.  His use of shadowing and light makes this seem like some old television show or film as seen through a modern gaze, telling a modern story.  A number of the panels need to be posters of some kind, the art really is that strong and iconic.  Put under a lot of other artist’s eyes, this could have turned out to still be a readable and enjoyable title, but Jock’s work really takes it for me.  It’s just beautifully drawn black and white artwork.  The many ways his style works for the tone and subject matter at hand is proof of how versatile an artist he really is.  Coupled with a great script by Andy Diggle, this comic waves you through its pages, like riding a river of awesomeness.  It’s not light fare by any means, but the way it is written, and the way the art is so perfect for the script, creates a comic that reads fast but leaves a long-lasting taste of grime and dirt in your mouth.  It also makes you want to tear through the calendar and get a hold of the second issue directly after finishing the first.

I was not surprised in the least that I enjoyed this first issue as much as I did.  I had been looking forward to it, creating my own hype in my head and to friends, and it has met all expectations.  If you’re looking for a non-superhero book, or if you enjoyed Image’s recent “Happy!” mini-series, I really think you’ll enjoy - maybe even love - this title.  I know I’ll be back for Issue 2, just as soon as I can get my eyes on it.  A really outstanding book in all ways.

WRITING:  8.5 /10

ARTWORK:  9 /10




REVIEW: “Indestructible Hulk” #4

(MARVEL NOW!, 2013)   -   Reviewed by Feral Fang

IndestructableHulk-no4I had been hearing a few hints and whispers about this title from all sorts of people and places, so I finally sat down with the first issue not too long ago and gave it a read.  I was very surprised at this title, and how fun it can be.  It isn’t “literature”, of course - I mean, it *is* the Hulk - but this title holds perfect ground between mindless SMASH and some pretty emotional drama.  Now we’re up to issue #4 which, while it may not be the best one so far, still holds testament to the idea that makes this title the oddly workable premise it is.  If you are new to this book, let me give you a quick run through: Bruce Banner has fully given in to the fact that he will never be rid of the Hulk, as everything that could possibly be tried to ‘cure’ him has been tried, and he sees no other options available of any kind.  Using a surprise meeting with S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Maria Hill (in a diner, of all places), he runs an idea by her - if S.H.I.E.L.D. supplies Banner with all of the tech, Lab space, and workers he needs to fully realize his potential as a scientist, he will allow them to use the Hulk as a form of ‘weapon’ - just drop him in, point him in the right direction, and hope he destroys what you sent him to destroy.  Banner sees this as a way to repay the world for all of the bad that Hulk has done over the years (as he says in this issue: “Hulk Breaks, Banner Builds”), while Maria Hill sees an interesting opportunity for S.H.I.E.L.D.  The arrangement is made, and Banner begins to assemble his work, Lab, and assistants, while he is sent as the Hulk to handle missions not suited or safe enough for any normal agent.  Oh, and eventually S.H.I.E.L.D. gives Bruce/Hulk a R.O.B. (Recording Observation Bot) to watch over him.  There really hasn’t been enough of this ‘character’ to know here nor there on my opinion of it.

A.I.M. had reactivated the Quintronic Man - a “walking weapon of mass destruction” that Hulk has had quite the problem with in the past - and Hulk took him down, no problem.  Now, Banner has the equally scary experience of meeting his new Lab Assistants, who may or may not be hiding interesting secrets and agendas.  Giving them the “Banner is about to Hulk-out, what do I do???” test (which they all pass without flinching), Banner makes the creepy statement that the Hulk “does happen” and, if he does “you can get to safety…if you run.”  To me that is what the whole book has been about - that fine line between Bruce and his other self, and the constant danger that, regardless of any helpful tech or other ways to curb his aggression, Banner can still become the Hulk at basically any time.  Even in the safest of situations, he is a constant wild card.  At this point in Banner’s life, it seems to have driven him to be a bit demented, maybe even darker.  His humor is more jaded, his attitude more direct, and his want to create rather than destroy almost seems fueled by nothing but a deep guilt and regret at what his life has become.  Now he wants that spot back, the Banner that he was before the accident.  His seeing the Hulk as a bargaining chip with S.H.I.E.L.D. tells a lot about how he views himself, especially in that form.  Expendable, unreliable, deadly and destructive.  He may act as if he has found a sort of peace with his ‘problem’, but to me he reads as if he’s really just attempting to separate himself from the beast, allowing it to run free under S.H.I.E.L.D.’s loose control without Banner being fully responsible for his actions.

After Banner runs his new team through the Hulk Test, he meets with Director Hill to discuss an undersea city known as Lemuria, a place previously known as more of a rumor than a reality.  Atlantean Warlord Attuma is attempting to seize control of the entire Pacific Ocean with the help of not only his impressive army and weaponry, but also giant sea monsters - ones that have been proven to originate from the legendary city.  Hulk, in a specialized (and very Sci-Fi looking) suit, is sent off to deal with this attack, and a cliffhanger ending wraps it up nicely, with Attuma sending Hulk to his ‘death’.  Which, of course, will *most likely* not be the case, but it’s still a fun cliffhanger to a great issue from one of new favorite titles.

WRITING:  7 / 10

ARTWORK:  7.5 / 10





REVIEW: “Boston Metaphysical Society” Web Comic

(Self Published Web Comic)   -   Reviewed by Feral Fang & J.G. Butler

Boston001covermockupv4A--small1“Before Mulder And Scully, There Was Hunter And O’Sullivan”.  That is the tag-line on what serves as the cover of this self published Web Comic, a tale about a trio known as the “Boston Metaphysical Society”.  Set in a Steampunk universe, the comic follows the adventures of ex-Detective Samuel Hunter, aspiring Medium / Spirit Photographer Caitlin O’Sullivan, and genius scientist Granville Woods as they deal with spirits, demons, ghosts, and more.  Another major player is the group B.E.T.H., a scientific gathering of minds featuring Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and Harry Houdini - using their last initials to form the organization name.  To be honest, this was the first thing to bother me, as the use of historical figures seems almost forced, and isn’t really there for any specific reasons as per the people used.  Without the name, B.E.T.H. could just have easily been a group of hyper-intelligent scientists, or something similar.  For entirely different reasons, both the Boston Metaphysical Society and B.E.T.H. are on the hunt for a supernatural being known as “the Shifter”.  Responsible for the death of Samuel Hunter’s wife, he and his BMS crew are after it to kill it.  And, B.E.T.H.?  Well, they want it for science, of course!  As Hunter meets up with the famous members of B.E.T.H., he argues his case but quickly leaves in angry vengeance, annoyed by their want to capture the Shifter rather than kill it.  Waiting for Hunter at the BMS office is a young boy who has a dire warning - a ‘demon’ was coming, and was headed their way to ‘kill us all’.  This leads to a horrifying discovery for the trio - something or someone has killed five men, leaving nothing but a black, ashen pile in their place.  And, as of today (2/19/2013), that is all that is up, as the comic is updated every Thursday.  Overall, I really liked this comic, as it’s almost like if ‘Ghostbusters’ were to be played out in this universe.

The mellow and deliberate pacing of the title and writer/creator Madeleine Holly-Rosing’s script are very nicely laid out and void of a lot of the pretentiousness that can be found in works of the same genre.  Sometimes people take the ‘universe’ of Steampunk too far, making it more of the foreground itself than the characters and story.  To them, it’s all about the look and style, not the meaty content that can be written into such an environment.  “Boston Metaphysical Society” handles its world carefully and with grace.  Almost everything ‘Steampunk’ about this comic is in the smaller details - some odd machinery in the background, for instance, or a bespectacled rodent that appears for all of two seconds.  This story could have been told from any time period, and taken place in any location.  It’s just a good, universal tale that even the most die-hard detractors of the genre would have problem finding fault with.  Emily Hu’s artwork is very interesting, with an almost Manga style to some of the expressions, etc.  Most of the work is clean and precise, but either the color art or the scanning/posting process tends to make some of the images seem like low resolution shots.  The amazing color art by Fahriza Kamaputra and Gloria Caeli creates a look and mood that fits each scene perfectly.  Creepy, darkened moments are all shades of blues, dark grey, and black, sometimes contrasted sharply by the use of ‘glowing’ nets, supernatural happenings, etc.  Couple that with the amazingly ‘bright’ color art needed and provided in other scenes, and the range of Kamaputra and Caeli’s color palette is strongly evident.  Troy Peteri’s lettering, which has previously been seen in such comics as ‘Amazing Spider-Man’, ‘Iron Man’, and supposedly a large percentage of Top Cow Production’s output, is clean and coherent, especially the sound effects.  One thing that struck me as odd, however, was the use of a dark yellow background for the speech balloons.  This made some of the conversations hard to read, and at times gave me a little bit of an eye strain.

The only major problem I had with my experience with this web comic is its presentation on the site.  Each page of the comic is a single image on a web page, with each comic page placed on its own individual web page.  The actual comic seems a bit too small for my tastes, and that is made worse by a web design that I fear would scare more people away than draw in.  It’s clunky, not very ‘user friendly’, and resembles websites from the mid-to-late 90’s.  The color scheme of the site (tans and browns) detracts greatly from being immersed in the comic as dark, spooky images are bordered by the sites light colors.  Even when it does work in a way, as in some of the more lighter ‘dramatic’ scenes, it’s still distracting.  All told, the web site can really make the comic itself feel separate, as if you’re just viewing an image on someone’s site, as opposed to reading a comic.  The navigation of the comic is hindered by a messy design, as well, with the usual “Next Page” type links all lined at the top of each page.  This wouldn’t be a problem, were it not for the fact that upon finishing each page of the title, you have to scroll back up to the beginning of the page to hit the needed link [EDIT: There is a ‘Next Page’ link near the bottom of the web page itself].  This is another thing that tends to bring you out of the comic’s world, and at times fully out of the ‘mood’ of the series.  Even with the web site difficulties, this is still a damn fine comic that deserves your attention.  All the right things are at work within it, from the writing and art, to the coloring and letters, this is the full package.  I will definitely be back to continue following the story (it was left at quite a ‘cliff hanger’!) and checking to see these collected artists and characters grow not only within the book, but in the creators personal work, as well.  This comic has great things ahead of it.

You can purchase a print edition of Chapter One in a soft-bound, hard spine book, complete with a nice laminated cover.  Inside you will find early sketches, script pages, and even an excerpt from the short story “The Devil Within”.  You can also grab an 11″ x 17″ poster of the cover artwork (without the logo), which can be signed by writer / creator Madeleine Holly-Rosing per request.

VIEW SOME IMAGES FROM ‘Boston Metaphysical Society” HERE:


You can find the “Boston Metaphysical Society” Web Comic here:


WRITING:  8 / 10

ARTWORK:  7.5 / 10




REVIEW: “Bigfoot: Sword of the Earthman” #2

(Brewhouse Comics, 2013)   -   Reviewed by Feral Fang

bigfoot_sword_of_the_earthman_issue_two--2After loving the launch of this title, I was very excited to pop open Issue #2, and I was not disappointed in the least.  Following the awesome first issue, this 2nd one picks up with the greatest monologue in the title to date - basically Castor explaining how he sees Bigfoot (or from here on out ‘the Earthman’) as “a warrior, a poet, protector, and lover…”, things he wishes the Earthman could say for himself, were he able to talk.  At this point, the Earthman has been bumming around, eating and sleeping on repeat, like an even hairier version of Conan.  Castor is anxious to get things moving, and his frustration seems to be near boiling.  Eventually, a beaten and bloodied woman finds them and their new crew, giving a warning concerning “the Heart of the Sun”, a long lost jewel with seemingly unlimited power and reach.  “The Jewel That Shaped a World”, while also bringing with it death, destruction, and countless wars - all in an attempt to get a hold on the jewel.  This sends our main characters and their crew through the hazardous environments and on a ‘sandy’ adventure, riding across the ocean of sand in a craft that excitedly reminded me of the skiffs used in ‘Return of the Jedi’.  I was very happy with this issue.  I really feel that, where the first issue was an action packed introduction to the world and main characters, this second issue focused a bit more on telling deeper aspects of the story and what’s to come.  It was also great to see other characters take the main stage here and there, giving the reader a look into the other types of beings that inhabit Mars.  What struck me the most was how much Joshua Henaman’s script and Andy Taylor’s line art has improved since we last saw them.  Henaman’s writing is spot on here, with dialogue that flows more conversationally than before and a story that is more complex but also easier to follow.  Andy Taylor’s work is as great as before and, while I still see the old school independent comic charm in his work - and I still find it just as loveable as I already had - there is still an awkward panel or two that I felt could have been rendered better, especially having seen what Taylor is capable of.  And he’s capable of a lot, from a long list of varied aliens and creatures, to solid action and some really great reaction shots and emotional weight where needed.  The coloring by Thomas Bonvillain is much more in the forefront than previously, as his work calls for shades and moods that weren’t found in the first issue, letting Thomas take his colors to new heights.  This issue featured more humor and wit - on the same hilarity level as it was in the first issue, but with much more use of it here.  The lettering, which is one of the main things I felt suffered the most in the opening issue is better and easier to read in this, but still feels a bit cramped, with some oddly shaped ‘word balloons’ giving one a need to re-read a line or two.  None of this hampers the enjoyment of the comic, though, as I think this second issue is a much stronger, tighter comic, and a wonderful new leg for this story to continue to grow on.  I think this comic is getting better each issue, which makes me even more excited to read the continuing story.  This is definitely a title you’ll want to check out, as the whole package is something I think most comic fans - old and new - would have trouble putting down.  Great things are ahead for Brewhouse Comics.

WRITING:  8.5 / 10

ARTWORK:  8 / 10




REVIEW: “Fearless Defenders” #1

(MARVEL NOW!, 2013)   -   Reviewed by Feral Fang

When I first began to see the advertisements for “Fearless Defenders”, I thought it looked interesting enough to keep in mind, at least to give it a look when it was released.  The cover caught my attention almost instantly, and I still find it to be a pretty striking cover with strong art.  Then I finally read issue #1, and was amazed by what I found inside.  In all seriousness, this is probably the worst recently released book I’ve read since the Rob Liefeld New 52 “Hawk & Dove”.  The writing from Cullen Bunn is a boring, almost ‘phoned-in’ script, and the story itself was scrambled and oddly paced.  The artwork by Will Sliney looks like poor attempts at copying an already horrid style.  Most of it is very generic, hinting at a few popular and deeply established styles, all while never really being cohesive enough to seem like Sliney has a hold on his own, individual style.  The whole issue was a mess, in all ways it could be.  I will not be looking into this title further.  I really thought there’d be some actual story here, not just reasons to patch together some overdrawn ‘money shots’.  I may be reviewing this book a little harshly, but I really think they have room to move with this title and the characters, but all they’re doing is standing perfectly still, not making a wave or ripple of any kind.  I don’t think there’s anything more that needs to be said.

WRITING:  4 / 10

ARTWORK:  3 / 10




REVIEW: “Thor: God of Thunder” Issues #1-4

(MARVEL NOW!, 2012 - Present)   -   Reviewed by Feral Fang

thorgot2012002_dc11_fMarvel NOW! has turned me on to a number of characters that I never really paid attention to, for whatever reason.  Another one of these is Thor who, after years and years of seeing him throughout the Marvel Universe, I have always thought was a dorky, useless character.  I was either unknowingly wrong then, or this new title has upped the ante on Thor books and made this something both epically powerful and tightly character-driven at the same time.  The writing from Jason Aaron (‘Scalped’, ‘PunisherMAX’, ‘Ghost Rider’, ‘Wolverine’) is tightly woven and never dips (as I had originally feared) too far into the things that made Thor annoying to me all this time - mostly the cheesy way Thor speaks.  I get it, and it makes sense, but it is what it is.  Not to mention I’m not really the biggest ‘Fantasy’ type.  Another thing I was afraid of was how much the video game Skyrim might be an influence, since that game seems to have rekindled the ‘Fantasy’ genre pretty well, and across the artistic spectrum as far as mediums go.  I went in with fears, and came out of the very first issue with all of my fears dispelled and an unexpected excitement.  The artwork is by Esad Ribić (‘Silver Surfer: Requiem’, ‘Loki’, ‘Sub-Mariner: the Depths’) - and it is *beautiful*.  With a mixture of seemingly painted panels and very well textured line art and detail, this is a book like none other I’ve seen from the ‘Big 2’, as far as being a main launch title, and not just a quick arc or graphic novel.  It is stunning artwork, stuff that keeps me excited with each of the first four issues.  Okay, the story.  Thor is battling the Godkiller, who obviously kills - you guessed it! - Gods.  The story takes place in three different time periods.  One of the three is about an early, young Thor.  The second is our modern Thor, and then a future Thor, who is near his death -  he is now the Ruler of Asgard, but also the only living God still there.  These three views of different ages not only all ties to the main Godkiller story, but do so without pause.  They roll into each other so well, going from a couple of pages of one time period, then right into where we were at the story taking place in another.  It’s perfectly paced for such an idea and, with the exception of issue #3 feeling a bit rushed, it has worked perfectly.  This version of Thor is much more accessible to the average comic reader, I think, due to the strong art and captivating story.  Having read through issues #1 through #4, I must say I am looking forward to issue #5, and I am excited to get it once it’s there for me to read.  I highly suggest this to any Marvel fan, as this title won over a die-hard Thor hater, making this one of my favorite books Marvel is putting out right now.  Go check out an issue, flip through it.  You just might be pleasantly surprised with what you find inside!  And, hey - look! - it is already the top scorer for our brand new review scoring system!  Now, that’s got to tell you something, right?

WRITING:  9 / 10

ARTWORK: 9 / 10




INTERVIEW: Tom S. Johnson of ‘Peace Sign’

Tory by Sarah Menzel

Tory by Sarah Menzel

“Peace Sign” is an upcoming comic from creators Tom S. Johnson and Jane Shepard, and focuses on a team made up of LGBT Superheroes.  I feel this project is not only a much needed shake of the comic book world status quo, but also something that can and will inspire many LGBT creators and fans alike.  Co-creator Tom S. Johnson was able to answer some questions for us at Bag & Bored.

- Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

When I’m not writing, I enjoy hiking, bikeriding and practicing yoga.  I’m also a vegetarian, and I’ve recently become interested in gardening.

- You started a comic company as a child with a close friend.  What did that experience teach you, as far as the creation of comics go?  Did you ever get anything published?  Out of the paths you could have taken, how did you find yourself eventually creating comics again?

That was quite a long time ago.  He and I did everything by hand with pencils; I don’t even think we used a copying machine.  I was pretty entrepreneurial at that time, and we sold the comic books at school.  I think it taught me how to tell stories with a specific market in mind, and I guess it worked because I think we sold out.  It also taught me that trying to reproduce comic books with only a pencil isn’t the best idea.  I’ve been a lifelong comic book and superhero fan, and a few years ago I had this idea for a series about LGBTs who discover that they have superpowers.

- ‘Peace Sign’ not only looks to be an awesome upcoming comic, but is also a rare find - an LGBT Superhero Team.  The premise is brilliant, and greatly needed in the comic book ‘business’, which - with a few exceptions here and there are still a bit ‘behind’ on LGBT issues.  What would you like to see different in mainstream comics?  Any comic titles you’d like to see changes in, or ones you think are heading in a positive direction?  Recent things come to mind, like Alan Scott/Green Lantern in DC’s ‘Earth 2’, and the wedding of Northstar and his boyfriend Kyle in ‘Astonishing X-Men’?  I remember Northstar’s coming out in the early 90’s very inspiring for me at the time.

First of all, thank you for the compliments.  I think it’s fantastic that you found Northstar so inspiring.  I have to say I was disappointed that it was deemed necessary to remove Obsidian from the DC universe in order to revamp Alan Scott’s character, as I’ve been of fan of Obsidian since his first appearance, but it sounds like that factored into the decision to have the first openly gay Green Lantern.  So maybe it’s all for the greater gay good.

- On the comic’s website, you mention some awesome characters such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and Cyborg, among others.  How did the diversity present in some comics of the time speak to you, and how much of this led yourself to co-creating ‘Peace Sign’ with Jane Shepard?

I was watching Super Friends when it originally aired and they added more diverse characters, and I’ve always been a fan of the Global Guardians.  One of my favorite eras of the Justice League was when it was called Justice League International and there was the Justice League Europe spinoff.  And then there was New Guardians, which was groundbreaking in a lot of ways, especially Extrano’s journey.  Today, in addition to even more ethnic diversity, I would like to see more variations of and more realistic gays and lesbians, i.e. characters with the issues we experience in real life, and most definitely more transgender characters in comic books and in the media in general.

- While creating the comic, its characters, and the overall ‘universe’ it would exist in, how did you and co-creator Jane Shepard collaborate?  When did you finally feel you two had such a hold on the ideas that you knew this was going to be something special?

Jane and I collaborated in a such a wide variety of capacities in the theatre in NYC that it wasn’t a difficult transition into collaborating in a different medium.  Jane has had success in comic strips, painting, television, film and music composition.  I was and continue to be flattered that she agreed to co-create Peace Sign with me.

- The artwork for the book reminds me (in a very good way) of the character designs used in most DC Animated TV series and Animated Features.  I love the style, and all of the artwork I’ve seen for this title, but I was wondering - did any of these animated shows/films inspire part of the character design?  In all, what kind of ‘feel’ or style were you going for?

I want to start by giving props to Sarah Menzel.  I agree that her work on the first issue is brilliant.  From my perspective, there was absolutely no conscious or purposeful intention of being similar in style to DC Animation.  However, anyone who’s shared a dwelling with me can attest to the fact that I am quite a fan of DC Animation, especially Justice League Unlimited.  I guess you can’t watch anything that much and it not get into your subconscious fairly significantly.  What I was consciously going for was a traditional contemporary superhero comic book style with an LGBT sensibility.  I also wanted a layer of noir specific to the first issue, and Sarah Menzel depicted all of these elements exceptionally well.

- Can you tell us a bit about the main characters, their motivation, and maybe how they work together, both relationship and team-wise?  What is the reason this team is originally formed, and how will this shape the arc of the book?

The main characters in the first issue are Tory, Saj and Aren.  Aren is Tory’s troubled brother.  Eli and Mira, who are principal characters in the series but are only seen briefly in the first issue, have sent Tory to London to retrieve Aren and Saj.  So that’s Tory’s motivation, and Saj and Aren’s motivations are certainly clear at the beginning of the issue.  The title of the first issue is Nexus, and a lot of the story is about the way Tory, Saj and Aren connect as LGBTs and simply as human beings who share a discovery.  By the end of the first issue, the motivations of Tory, Saj and Aren have changed as their lives become more intertwined and they start to become a team.  The full team will form because, as their discovery unfolds, they learn that they are vital to a clandestine intergalactic conflict.

- The synopsis you have for the first issue makes me even more interested.  In this you mention the character Tory, and his work and relationship troubles.  Can you give us some details on these?

Tory’s relationship and career are only referred to in the first issue in order to streamline the story.  These elements will be increasingly focused on as the series progresses, which will include some compelling and unique supporting characters.

- It looks like you have a number of future storylines worked out already, which makes me curious - how long have you been in the planning stages?  Can you tell us (spoiler free, of course!) a tiny bit about what we might be in store for down the line?

The plan is for all of the principal characters to be gradually introduced in the first three issues.  The second issue focuses on Leo, Jimmy and Sergio, and the third issue focuses on Cameron and Vita.  In the fourth issue, Eli and Mira will explain the full truth about who they are and how they’re connected.

- Some of the main themes I read in your writings about yourself and your work seem to be mostly themes of diversity, equality, and an awesome view of how the world (in comics and elsewhere) could rise to the occasion themselves with the model of your title.  How do you think major comic publishers would react to such an idea, if it were proposed to them as a series?  (Good and/or bad, and no need to mention specific companies).

Thank you again for complimenting both the series and me personally.  I honestly don’t know how major comic book companies would react to Peace Sign.  I think it’s amazing that they’ve embraced gay and lesbian characters in a way that wasn’t possible in the era of the Comics Code Authority, and I hope that will continue to grow and that Peace Sign will contribute to that expansion.  One of the coolest examples I can think of is that Batwoman was originally created so people wouldn’t think Batman’s gay, and now she’s an out lesbian.  That’s the kind of spinning that I hope will continue.

- Any future plans for another title, or any other creative works?  I see you’ve written plays in the past.  Any future plays down the line?

I’ve been pretty focused on Peace Sign and its entrance into the comic book industry, but I do have ideas for Peace Sign spinoff series.  I was fortunate to have some of my plays produced in NYC, but I have no intention for any of them to be produced again.





Peace Sign: Nexus Copyright © 2012 Tom S. Johnson and Jane Shepard.
All characters, their likenesses and related elements featured in Peace Sign are trademarks and the property of Tom S. Johnson and Jane Shepard.


Interview by Feral Fang

INTERVIEW: Kevin Rau of H.E.R.O.

BAG-AND-BORED--HEROzCoverCollage-iiWe got to ask writer Kevin Rau some questions about his awesome Superhero eBook series “H.E.R.O.”.  There are many things I could say about how amazing this project is, but why don’t we hear it right from Kevin himself:

H.E.R.O. is an ongoing series of novels (including a few short stories, and an illustrated guide).  They are chronological in order, commonly beginning immediately after the last novel, so at this point, 12 books cover about 3 weeks in time in my world.  Each book has its own plot lines, but also continue some plots that extend across numerous novels.  Think of them like a television series, where each week something gets wrapped up, but other plots are merely advanced a little.

At this time, I’ve got the first full novel (123,000 words long) free on just about all major e-retailers, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, etc.  (If you are wondering why it’s free, I’ve got 12 works out.  I initially made it free for a kids program overseas, and realized that I might as well make it free for everyone to try out my work.  My style of writing is slightly different, using a shifting first-person perspective, and it may seem odd to some people.  However, it can help “get into the head” of various characters more than traditional writing, I think.  Try it out and see if it’s for you.  If it is, there’s a long series to enjoy.  If not, then I hope the reader enjoys that novel and that they find something more to their liking.)”

We were able to get Kevin to do the favor of answering some questions for us, so lets get to the interview!

- We’d like to hear a bit about yourself, personally.  How do you keep your days busy when not working on H.E.R.O. related work?

I work a full-time job as a Manager of Information Technology, so I stay pretty busy.  Then, I go home, and work a full-time job writing, designing characters and covers, and handle promotion.  (My kryptonite…)  I do fit in some TV and getting together with friends, or shall we say future minions for my evil plan to take over the world!

- What brought you to this idea?

I’ve been a huge superhero fan since I was a teen in the 80’s.  I enjoy comics, but I burn through a comic book in about 15 minutes.  For the price, that’s not good “entertainment return” for the cost.  Part of me has wanted to do a more extensive superhero storyline for a long time.  What really drove me to it was all the reading I did in 2008, and I got tired of all the novels ending after a book or three.  I wanted more stories with the characters I had invested my time in, and that didn’t happen.  I knew that if I really wanted ongoing stories, I’d have to do it myself.

- How do you think the eBook approach is different than comics, in ways other than the fact that your project is a book, of course.  Are there things that might be easier or harder, coming from the book approach?

Well, I’m fairly certain that comic books require more teamwork between the writer, penciller, inker, and colorist.  I’m assuming those are all the people involved, too!  I do everything with my novels, from the writing to the covers, etc.  I do offload copy editing and beta-reading, though.  You just can’t properly edit your own work.  From the novel side, there’s a lot more detail that becomes involved.  Full conversations are made between characters, and time has to be taken to describe scenes and actions.  That differs a lot from what a good artist can do with pictures.  Both have their strengths, I think.  I wouldn’t want comics to go away, in favor of just superhero novels, for example - both have their place.  I think people can get into the head of a character better with a novel.  Comics, specifically the pictures, have something special in begin able to make characters look cool (or sexy, etc.).

Some else that might be harder with the novel are the plotlines.  A comic book typically has about 2,000 - 2,500 words.  My average novel is about 105,000 words.  That’s a lot of detail, and requires interleaving plot points that would take most comics a year or more to get through.

- Have you, or do you have plans on working on comics in the future?

I don’t have any plans to do it.  I’ve been asked if I’ll make a H.E.R.O. comic, and while I could pose some of the 35-ish characters I’ve designed 3D graphics for, and then render them in scenes, my backgrounds would be horrid.  I prefer to stick with full novels.

- Can you tell us a little about some of the main characters, and a bit about the first book?

The first book is a primer, and focuses on three of the main characters as they change and learn about their powers.  Granted, they deal with a psychotic mutant during that time as well, but the gist of the story is focused on them.  The first character is Lance, e.g. Spartan, a “brick” who gains nigh invulnerable skin, muscles that harden to become steel-like and capable of lifting about 50 tons, and who has super-jumping.  That power includes the ability to absorb the shock of landing so as to not cause harm to things he is carrying.  He also becomes much stronger when his adrenaline really kicks up, or when he is superheated (such as a building fire).  He’s a boy scout, focused on being a true hero, and is a friendly, overall nice guy.

The second is Rael, e.g. Black Tiger, who becomes a mutant.  These are a class of super who have physical mutations that are odd in some respect, but who aren’t bricks.  In Rael’s case, his fingertips can change into 2″ long black talons that can cut through steel, his canine teeth can elongate and do the same, and he heals unbelievably fast.  Later, he mutates further and can grow tentacles from his trapezius muscles on either side of his neck when desired.  He’s on the strong side of mutants, lifting about 5 tons, and is very agile.  He runs upwards of 60 mph at a full sprint.

The third is Stephanie, e.g. Psystar, who becomes a psychic (there’s more to it, but since that’s involved in a storyline that takes upwards of 10 books, I won’t ruin it).  She is a high-end “receiver,” and “hears” all thoughts within about 30 feet, and sees a TV screen of each person’s vision who is within 15 feet.  These can’t be turned off, so she can easily be overwhelmed by too many people being nearby (the screens don’t overlap, and cover her visual space).  She also has flight (upwards of Mach 2 eventually), and pheromones that can force others to do her bidding within about 30 feet.  Both of those are always on as well.

There’s a lot of time spent on the changes when they mutate into supers, as well as some general superhero type events they choose to become involved in.  Last, they go after Shrinker, as she’s been kidnapping people, and is an anarchist.

- Any future plans for this or any other project you’d like to share?

I just finished my first fantasy novel, called Necromancer’s Ascent.  It’s at the copy editor right now, and should be out in a week or so.  That’s the first novel in a fantasy world that I hope to make a full series, much like H.E.R.O.  While waiting for that, I’ve returned to H.E.R.O., and have begun the writing of the next novel in that series.  I expect to continue putting out H.E.R.O. novels for quite some time to come, barring something odd occurring.

I design 3D images of most of the major characters - primarily for use on the covers of the novels, but I found that I couldn’t stop making them, and have a bunch of extras on my website and Facebook page.  Each character has 12-16 “renders” of them in different poses on the two sites.  My website also includes a basic bio of each character in addition to the images.