REVIEW: ‘Stray Bullets: Killers’ #2

(Image Comics / El Capitan, 2014)

Written, Drawn, & Lettered by David Lapham

David Lapham is one of the most versatile writers working in comicbooks today. His work runs the gamut from super hero stories to extremely poignant human drama but the one element that all of his writing has is common is great character development; perhaps best known for his Stray Bullets series or his substantial contribution to the Avatar schlock horror/porn series Crossed, Lapham has also brought his uniquely human narratives to some of the most iconic super heroes Continue reading

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REVIEW: ‘Iron Fist: the Living Weapon’ #1

(Marvel Comics, 2014)

Written & Drawn by Kaare Andrews

Kaare Kyle Andrews is the kind of comicbook (one word as per Stan Lee) writer/artist I most respect; he is a fan turned creator. Andrews writes with the kind of passion that only someone truly in love with the medium could muster and he knows his continuity cold. I recently listened to an interview with Andrews on the Word Balloon podcast and it was Continue reading

REVIEW: ‘Twilight Zone’ #4

(Dynamite Entertainment, 2014)

Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Illustrated by Guiu Vilanova
Colored by Vinivius Andrade
Lettered by Rob Steen
Main Cover by Francesco Francavilla

The Twilight Zone #4.  What can I say about this comic, as it hits the stands this week, that I haven’t already said in reviews for the previous three?  Dynamite comics is on the forefront of the comic reboot business, and they’re doing it the right way, getting top talent to breathe new vibrant life into books whose rights might otherwise be moldering in a drawer in the basement of some abandoned comic warehouse somewhere. Continue reading

REVIEW: ‘Daredevil’ #1

(Marvel Comics, 2014)

Storytellers: Mark Waid & Chris Samnee
Coloring: Javier Rodriguez
Lettering: VC’s Joe Caramagna

New York City was more than just a location in the previous runs of Daredevil; the city itself was a supporting character in many ways. It provided a lush, complex environment that often insinuated its way into the narrative much as it does in the Spider-Man mythology. Continue reading

REVIEW: ‘Curse’ #3

(BOOM! Studios, 2014)

Written by Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel
Art by Riley Rossmo and Colin Lorimer
Additional Colors by Tamra Bonvillain
Letters by Jim Campbell

We want our favorite comics to go as long as possible. The Walking Dead just released its 123 issue. Spider-Man went to 700 before the reboot. The Curse…well…The Curse is only going to be four issues.

I know right? How could something this cool only go four issues? The answer is simple. Michael Moreci (Hoaxhunters) and Tim Daniel (Enormous) only need four. Continue reading

REVIEW: ‘The Fuse’ #2

(Image Comics, 2014)

Written by Antony Johnston
Illustrated by Justin Greenwood
Colored by Shari Chankhamma
Lettered by Ed Brisson

Image was always the first company to push the creator more than the comic. It gave us the rock star creators of the 90’s, and despite the glut of amazing garbage that we saw during that time; there were gems as well. Who can forget the first time they saw Continue reading

REVIEW: ‘The Crow: Pestilence’ #1

(IDW Publishing, 2014)

Writer: Frank Bill
Artist: Drew Moss
Colorist: Oliver Lee Arce
Editor: Sarah Gaydos

In 1989 I was fully in the thrall of the X-Men and Spider-Man, but there were other books out there, something mysterious called “indie” comics, that would shape my later life. 1994 saw the release of The Crow, the Brandon Lee film, and I was enthralled. It was a superhero movie. We were on the heels of Batman Returns Continue reading

REVIEW: ‘Black Science’ #3

(Image Comics, 2014)

Written by Rick Remender
Artwork by Matteo Scalera
Color Artwork by Dead White
Lettering by Rus Wooton

It is theorized that time is a non-linear entity; the same could be said of Rick Remender’s narrative in the third issue of the mind-blowing pulp science fiction inspired series, Black Science. Remender very adroitly tells a tale of anarchist Grant McKay’s past which Continue reading

REVIEW: ‘Deadly Class’ #1

(Image Comics, 2014)

Review by Shawn Warner

Story by Rick Remender
Artwork by Wes Craig
Color Artwork by Lee Loughridge
Lettering & Design by Rus Wooton

The 80’s were amazing years to be a kid; Punk Rock reached its political apex, Nintendo broke new ground in the gaming arena, The Bones Brigade set the skateboarding world on fire, hip hop was Continue reading

REVIEW: ‘Superior Spider-Man’ #25

(Marvel Comics, 2014)

Review by Kenneth Kimbrough

Writers: Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Pencils: Humberto Ramos
Inks: Victor Olazaba
Colors: Edgar Delgado, Antonio Fabela, & Veronica Gandini
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos

All right. Let’s take a minute to address the rumors—no spoilers. If you know what I’m referring to, great. If not, skip to the next paragraph. I listen to a lot of Spider-Man podcasts and read a lot of Spider-Man news, and I’ll admit, it has kind of ruined the comic for me. When you hear enough speculation, some of it is bound to be right, and if you follow the resulting lines of reasoning, it’s difficult to remain surprised. Continue reading

‘Lost in the Longbox’, Episode 23: “Incredible Hulk” #378 (1991)

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The Incredible Hulk #378
(Marvel Comics, 1991)

Written by Peter David
Pencils by Bill Jaaska
Inks by Jeff Albrecht
Letters by Joe Rosen
Colors by Glynis Oliver

Greetings from the Wasteland!

Nothing brings that warm holiday feeling to your heart like the smell of fresh-baked cookies, a warm cup of coffee, and the slightly musty odor of an old comic, pulled freshly from its companions and brought to the counter, money in hand to add it to your own personal stash. Continue reading

REVIEW: “Superior Spider-Man” #24

(Marvel Comics, 2013)

Review by Kenneth Kimbrough

Writers: Dan Slott & Christos Gage
Pencils: Humberto Ramos
Inks: Victor Olazaba
Colors: Edgar Delgado, Antonio Fabela, & Veronica Gandini
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos

Remember my last few reviews of The Superior Spider-Man? Did they seem tepid? Did I seem reluctant to give the book a positive review? Did I seem less than thrilled with the recent story?
Well, it’s time for me to eat crow because the entire team brings their A-game Continue reading

REVIEW: “Amazing X-Men” #2

(Marvel Comics, 2013)

Review by Shawn Warner

Written by Jason Aaron
Pencils by Ed McGuinness
Inks by Dexter Vines
Color Artwork by Marte Gracia

Jason Aaron is one of the few writers who could take on a story so inherently fraught with potential theological complications and esoteric mumbo-jumbo and turn it into one of the most fun-filled and exciting high adventure X-Men stories to be written in quite some time. Continue reading

‘Lost in the Longbox’ with Brad Gischia, Episode 17

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What If…#2
“…Daredevil killed the Kingpin?”
(Marvel Comics, 1989)

Writer – Danny Fingeroth
Penciller – Greg Capullo
Inkers – Akin and Garvey
Letterer – Michael Heisler
Colorist – Evelyn Stein

Greetings from the Wasteland

Caution! In order to carefully describe the events herein, I’m going to have to spoil the hell out of a couple of storylines. Fortunately, these are stories that took place in 1989, so if you haven’t read them yet, it shouldn’t affect you too much. Continue reading

‘Lost in the Longbox’ with Brad Gischia, Episode 8

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“Web of Spider-Man” #1
(Marvel Comics, 1985)

WRITTEN BY:  Louise Simonson
ARTWORK BY:  Greg LoRocque & Jim Mooney
COVER ARTWORK BY:  Charles Vess

Greetings from the Wasteland!

As a comics fan, I can hardly discount the profound impact that Spider-Man has had on my comic reading experiences.  I’ve always looked to old web-head for an enjoyable read, and I have for the most part seldom been disappointed.  (The clone thing was confusing for everybody.)  I found this copy of Web of Spider Man #1 at the comic shop for a buck, and it was worth it. Continue reading

REVIEW: “Age of Ultron” #2

(Marvel Comics, 2013)

Review by Chris Ambrosio

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrator: Bryan Hitch
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort

Hey guys I’m back with a review of Age of Ultron issue #2!

I reviewed this issue quite quickly because I am working on a very large review coming sometime next week a double issue review on issues #16 and #17 of Deathstroke. Hope you guys like a little Slade Wilson.

The first astonishing issue of Age of Ultron left the readers with many unanswered questions, which we find out the protagonists and supporting characters are pondering themselves. Ultron’s extreme onslaught brings on a feel that is like no other we have seen before. Continue reading

REVIEW: “Age of Ultron” #1

(Marvel Comics, 2013)

Review by Chris Ambrosio

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrator: Bryan Hitch
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: Cory Petit
Editor: Tom Brevoort

I’m new to Bag and Board so go easy on me now guys, this is also my first review, you can say I’m a nooby. I’ve been looking forward to reading Age of Ultron for quite some time now, ever since I’ve read “Age of Ultron coming soon” in the back of The Avengers, AU free comic in May of 2011 issue #0.1, yeah I’ve been kinda sitting on the edge of my seat waiting or this block buster of a miniseries. Continue reading

REVIEW: “Superior Spider-Man” #5

(Marvel Comics, 2013)   –   Reviewed by J.G. Butler

SuperiorSpidey-No5-cover1By now, if you haven’t heard of the recent goings on within the Spider-Man titles you’re probably not reading this, since there is a pretty crappy internet connection under a rock, or you don’t care.  I’m going to assume either one of those things are true, or that you’ve read it and know what the deal is.  But, either way, this is more about “Superior Spider-Man” issue #5 than it is the whole debacle that was “Amazing Spider-Man” #700 (which I was personally a huge fan of).  So, let’s look in on this new Otto Octavius Spidey and see how he’s been doing.

An old villain, previously saved from death by the earlier Spider-Man, returns and has one thing on his mind.  His name is Massacre, so I’ll let you guess at that one.  As per his name, he killed a large group of civilians in the previous #4, causing Superior Spidey to decide that he won’t fail as Peter previously had, and will end Massacre’s murder spree “at any cost”.  It makes one wonder how far this Spidey might go.  That question is answered in this most recent issue, #5.

This issue finds Otto continuing with his ‘one step forward, two steps back’ approach to becoming a hero, and – of course – a ‘superior’ one, at that.  Although Otto has been making progress on the ‘real’ Peter’s social life, and even begins to fix his and Mary Jane’s relationship, he still has major flaws that are apparent in his attitude and treatment of what crimes ‘deserve’ his attentions, and which do not.  Where the original Spidey would stop at nothing to take care of any type of problem he came across, Otto passes on some superhero duties with the justification of having already done more than Parker had during his career behind the mask.  This of course drives the still-attached corporeal form of the real Peter Parker nuts, giving him more to nag Otto about.  This ‘nagging’, which began with issue #2 of this title, was at first very annoying and whiny, but has since leveled out well, giving Peter moments to complain as well as giving Otto some inspiration and even compliments at times.  Some things Otto really does do better than Peter had, and he acknowledges this.  Peter actually talks a lot in his ghostly form, which Otto is beginning to notice more and more, it seems.

One of his main problems with filling the shoes of the usually charismatic and friendly Parker is that Otto is constantly talking down to fellow employees and superiors at Horizon Labs, which is creating more suspicion and anger at each turn.  He literally bosses the boss around, treats the whole Lab like a group of morons, and feels no need to change a thing.  He’s Otto, even under the suit and with his changing outlook, so the ‘I’m such a genius’ mindset that has always been a part of Doc Oc’s personality is still there, and most times its his main flaw.  When belittling his superiors at Horizon, he is told that Parker never received his Doctorate, thus making Doc Oc not so much of a ‘Doc’ in Peter’s body.  He feels completely robbed of his Doctor title, which is ironic since the whole reason this has happened is because he basically stole Peter’s body.  So, Otto heads back to school, and is not too happy about having to do so.  This further cements his opinion that Peter was a screw-up and a complete fool.  It’s a little silly of a plot twist, but in this situation it’s the only viable option for him.  His first day in school Otto finds himself bugged numerous times by an unseen woman offering tutoring.  Finally, he gives in and goes to her home, planning to ask her to stop bothering him.  He is surprised to find that she has been ‘waiting for him’ (she tells Otto/Spidey/Parker that he will need her if he’s going to pass a class taught by a Dr. Lamaze), and is what she herself describes as a ‘little person’.  Add in the fact that she is a highly intelligent and quite witty woman and a ‘Science Chef’ (using chemicals and physics to create perfect dishes), and we have the makings of a great character.   One might be so bold as to sense the possibility of love in the air for the Superior Spider-Man, but that has yet to be seen in any way.  I do firmly believe she will be an integral part to the title, in one way or another, I’m just not sure how.

After a bit of a study and food with new study-buddy Anna, Otto turns his sights back on Massacre.  As hinted at in #4, Otto’s plan is to get a hold of  Uatu Jackson (a partner from Horizon Labs) and his new version of a facial recognition program, allowing the untold number of spider-bots at Otto’s control to search out Massacre by face alone.  Eventually, the bots do in fact find him, and Spidey rushes off to his location.  The finale of this story is quite a shocker, but maybe not as you might think.  The ending alone makes this an important issue, maybe the most important since ASM #700.

While this issue was an enjoyable and exciting read, there were a few things that irked me.  First of all, this title has already been adding Batman-type gadgets to Spidey’s arsenal, which to a degree would make sense, as Otto is much more savvy in the use of the tech available to him.  It was a minor annoyance at first, but this facial recognition plan sure sounds a lot like Batman’s cellphone sonar trick used in the film “The Dark Knight”.  Peter/Otto’s co-worker Uatu even states that it is ‘too much power for one man to have’, nearly the exact line said by Lucius Fox/Morgan Freeman in ‘Dark Knight’.

This is the second issue with Giuseppe Camuncoli on art, and I have to say I’m not enjoying his very straight forward style quite as much as Ryan Stegman’s intense line work.  He is missed.  I am much happier with Camuncoli’s version, however, of ‘ghost Peter’ appearing in more of a spiritual ‘smoke’/mist form, rather then the ice or glass he looks to have been made of previously.  I just don’t like Camuncoli’s rendering of Spider-Man, as he looks like a bulky wrestler, or like he’s been spending a ton of time lifting weights.  And could we please stop changing the size of his goggle lenses from one panel to the next?  I want to believe that they have a purpose in doing so, but have been unable to see it in any consistent use throughout these issues.

Dan Slott’s writing continues to be solid and intriguing, making this title a fun ride so far.  The characters are still believable as they are adapting to this new Spidey and Peter Parker.  Slott’s dialogue and pacing is spot on, and gives the book a real depth, something not found in a lot of comics today.  Even though Otto is a bad guy trying to be good, we feel for him in his plight, and maybe even feel a little sympathy.  He’s killed hundreds of people (maybe more) over the decades, but something about seeing him so confused and vulnerable is refreshing and relatable.  Not an easy task, especially with the way Otto became Peter Parker.  Or his body.  Or whatever.  While the end scene was very effective, it did feel brought down by the whole ‘anti-publicity’ fast food logo scheme.  This seemed more like a round table discussion where a silly idea gets bigger, until it eventually enters into the work.  It just didn’t feel right.  Also, that earpiece/cell phone idea – does the thing really need to be so large?  Doesn’t Otto have the technological capacity to have some earbuds created for him?  He’s a genius, surrounded by geniuses who also happen to make tools and gadgets for Spidey’s use, so this horrible idea makes no sense.  It’s not only illogical, it also looks horrible and is far too large to even be the type of device it’s attempting to emulate.  Bad choice there, and one I hope they fix or get rid of altogether very soon.

So, how will Spider-Man ever recover from all this damage?  That’s the billion dollar question that has yet to even be addressed, but – please! – no time travel.  Having no scene in this with Green Goblin (since his reveal at the end of #4) also left me wanting.  He may know Peter Parker’s Spider-Man better then anyone, but can he take down Otto’s ‘Superior’ version?  With the way things are progressing, it’s going to be a crazy battle no matter what.

This title has been consistently good, and I’m loving what Slott has been doing with this idea.  It was far more creative than I had expected to begin with, and he has taken that idea and flown high with it.  Another very entertaining issue of one of my favorite monthly reads.

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Follow J.G. Butler on Twitter: @Floor0272

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.

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‘H.E.R.O.’ ON THE WEB:

http://www.kevinrau.com

http://www.facebook.com/herobooks

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PHOTOS & IMAGES FROM “H.E.R.O.”:

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