Sunday, December 22, 2013

On December 25th, it's okay to wish me Merry Christmas! Whoohoo!!

Yes, my friends - no worrying or wondering what to wish me this December 25th! You are perfectly okay to wish me Merry Christmas! In fact, I encourage you all to make my banner as your banner on your Facebook wall, blog, computer wallpaper, or as a sticker to post on your forehead so that your friends will know as well that it's okay to wish you Merry Christmas! Spread the Christmas cheer!

And a Merry Christmas to you all!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Today is the very first Dress Like an Elf Day! Get eflin' and get happy!

This is it, my friends!  The very first Dress Like an Elf Day! 

I hope to see many of you decked out in your elf gear, whether it's Santa's elves, blood elves, night elves, LOTR elves, or even that "Elf on a Shelf!  You can even be wearing something as simple as an elf t-shirt or an elf hat!  I just ask that you participate so that we can make DLAED a new "holiday"! 

And I will continue this in the coming years, so that each year, it will catch on more and more.  However, it won't be on a specific date on the calendar, but on the Friday before Christmas, which for 2013, happens to be today. 

But I hope some of you will join me in this first go-round, so that you can help promote it, and each year word will spread more and more.  So for those of you who participated this year - thank you! 

If you do dress like an elf, I ask that you send me a pic, so that on Christmas Day, I can post them here on my blog. 

Thank you, friends!  :-)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The first annual Dress Like an Elf Day is Friday, December 20th!

Yeah, just like the title said, come Friday, December 20th, I encourage you all to Dress Like an Elf!

Why?  One is to test the power of the social media.  This is a totally made-up holiday, and I just want to see how far word-of-Facebook can carry out this idea.  I'll try this for the next couple of years to see if I can get it to become something of a "regular" holiday like "Talk Like a Pirate Day". 

But rather than celebrate DLAED on a specific date, I'm aiming to have it on the Friday preceding Christmas Day. The reason for this is because Fridays are usually "casual day" at most workplaces, so I thought that it would be a good time to do something like "dress like an elf" at your workplace.

Also, being the Friday before Christmas, most of you would already be in the holiday spirit by then.  But mostly, this should be fun to see family, friends, and co-workers dressed as elves!  :-D

For elf costumes or t-shirts, try Google.  I found a few with just a simple search. Here's one costume idea for the gents, and one for the ladies.
On Friday December 20th, I would like you all to post pics of yourselves in your elf t-shirts or costumes, because "pics, or it didn't happen!"  So let's all try to start a new wholly created holiday.  Years later, when DLAED catches on, you can say with all sincerity that you were there for the first one!  And you'll have the pics to prove it!  So let's all get elf-ed up and Dress Like An Elf!  :-D

To help spread the work about DLAED, here are a couple of graphics for you - one for your blog or Facebook banner, and the other for your profile pic.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Review: HB Comics' Vindication

Today I will be reviewing Vindication #'s 1-3,which is brought to you by HB Comics.

Vindication is the name of a superhero group, and the members are below:

* Speedfire - speedster with the ability to generate and manipulate fire.  Just think of him as a combination of DC Comic's Flash and Marvel Comic's Pyro.

* Pitchshift - able to generate sonic waves from his fists, but it takes concentration and a few seconds to generate the necessary sonic waves.

* Imogen - ability to generate light for various effects, including concussive blasts.  Using her powers for an extended amount of time eventually leaves her fatigued.

* Surge - team leader.  Ability to absorb energy, and is able to shoot it right back. 

* Barrier - Hulk-sized super strength hero with the intellect of a child. 

* Omega Virus - Vindication's villain with the power to control computers, including human minds.

For this review, I read Vindication #'s 1-3.  I have not read any other issues of this title, so what you read below are only of #1-3. Before I continue, it's time for the usual:



 If you have not read Vindication #1 and don't want what's in it spoiled for you, then 
STOP READING NOW! You have been warned! 

Most superhero teams start out as a deliberate choice; that is, the heroes at some point made the decision to band together to fight evil. But in Vindication, the heroes came together because of the villain, Omega Virus, brought them together.  Understand that Omega Virus didn't bring them together so that they might team up and kick his butt, they only teamed up out of survival.  To Omega Virus, these people are just lab rats and nothing more. 

Oddly enough, OV's arrogance works in the Vindication team's favor.  He constantly underestimates their abilities, and is even defeated because of it.  But isn't that how it usually goes with super villains - their arrogance being their undoing?  At the end, OV may have escaped at the last second.  Maybe.  That's how it usually goes with supervillains as well.  :-)

 But really, this story isn't so much about OV or his arrogance how it proved to be his undoing.  Rather, it's about the team of people forced together by circumstance, and whether they can become a team in the true sense of the word instead of a group of people brought together due to events beyond their control.  Vindication #'s 1-3 is an interesting start to exploring that idea. Let's look a little more into the individual heroes themselves.

Surge is the most experienced of the bunch when it comes to the action hero stuff.  He's also a tad short on people skills.  He was the leader of the group largely because he has the most experience, rather than him having any sort of innate ability to lead a group of people.  At times, he's impatient, and at other times, a bit condescending.  However, he's not beyond being reasoned with, as demonstrated when Pitchshift had to remind him that the rest of the group is basically having to learn all of this action hero stuff on the fly, so they're a bit scared and apprehensive when it comes to being ordered around by him.

And to his credit, Surge listens to Pitchshift, and tries to follow through on his suggestion.  A reminder: I haven't read past issue #3, so I don't know what happens to the group in later issues, so what I'm about to say next is based on what I've read so far.  And one thing that I hope hasn't occurred is that Pitchshift is permanently dead!  Yeah, you know what I mean - superheroes die, as Pitchshift did in this storyline, but they often come back.  And I hope Pitchshift comes back, because I think he serves a role in the group in keeping Surge oriented on his role as team leader. 

In truth, I think Pitchshift would make a great group leader once he gains some experience and develops some self-confidence.  Developing Pitchshift's personality to this end would be a very interesting subplot to follow for the Vindication series.  Now, this is not to say that Surge wouldn't be a good leader, but I think he serves the group better as a mission leader, rather than team leader.  His training and abilities are more geared to action, and not to the subtle nuances of human nature and psychology when it comes to motivating team members to action, even when they might not be motivated for action on a given mission.  In fact, we saw Pitchshift serve the role of being the kind of team leader that I think he can be when he had to cajole Speedfire into action when Speedfire was reluctant to follow Surge into action when they just met the guy (not to mention having just met each other!).  

That's what team leaders do, as opposed to mission leaders.  Surge helped the team to survive, but Pitchshift motivated them to work together so that they would follow Surge's lead and survive.  To me, this suggests that Pitchshift has that innate ability to "read" a person's personality - or in other words, he's a good "judge of character", as the saying goes - as he felt enough from Surge that he could be trusted with their lives, and Surge lived up to that trust.  But it took Pitchshift to convince the others to follow him.  On top of that, there must have been something to Pitchshift that made the others want to listen to him when he suggested they all follow Surge - which suggests again something of a leadership ability in him that registered with the others, including Surge.

So if Pitchshift is dead dead (that is, permanently dead), then there is already something of a leadership gap within the group that will make it harder for them to work together.  How the writers deal with this gap (that is, if Pitch is dead dead), will be interesting to follow, because Surge, as I said previously, is a bit impatient and condescending, and lacks some in people skills; all of which will make it harder for his teammates to follow him unless he deals with these issues quickly.  Can Surge fill that gap himself?  I believe that eventually yes, he would.  The question is if he'll do it fast enough before the abrasive side of his personality chases away the rest of the group. 

Imogen could serve the role that Pitchshift had played before he was killed.  Not as effectively, I don't think, but eventually she could develop some of the personality traits to fill the role of motivator.  But I don't think she has the sort of leadership skills that Pitchshift had to fill the role of team leader. Her role may be more along the lines of cheerleader, or in the case of Barrier, a foster mother.  In other words, basic traditional female roles. This does not mean that she can't fulfill those roles efficiently and effectively, but those roles don't generally lend themselves to the kinds of leadership roles that would be needed by the group.

Barrier, because of his child-like mentality, would not be able to serve any sort of leadership role.  His contribution to the group would be wholly dependent upon Imogen.  He trusts her totally, like a child trusts a mother, which can be a plus and a minus.  This puts a great deal of responsibility on Imogen to keep herself on an even keel personality-wise, because she could easily manipulate Barrier into heinous acts, if she asked him to do so.  Barrier's great dependency on Imogen is also what would hold Imogen back in fulfilling the kind of role that Pitchshift could have served, because she has to be thinking for two people.

Of all the members of the group, Speedfire is the most likely to leave the group.  Not because he doesn't like his teammates, but because he's basically a selfish, immature hedonist.  In fact, he almost left the group once already, and it was only guilt that brought him back.  The more danger he finds himself in, the more likely he'll feel that he needs to be elsewhere than in the group.  How much life-threatening danger will he tolerate before he decides that enough is enough?  That may be seen in future issues.  In any case, Speedfire is no candidate for leadership.  He's simply too selfish.

There's also the question of how much of his sexist attitudes that Imogen will tolerate before she decides that she's had enough.  There would also be a point in that his behavior would border sexual harassment.  There's limits to what Speedfire should get away with by the writers.  Imogen doesn't seem the type that's going to report each and every incidental grazing of her butt or chest, but she should also have limits of how much she'll tolerate from Speedfire - and Speedfire will need to learn those limits, especially if he's going to be staying on the team.

Before I finish up this review, let me say here that I am in no way trying to tell the writers what to write; especially in regards to Speedfire and his behavior towards women.  That's not my job.  My role is to just report on what's already there, and to give my impressions of what I've seen so far.  I know the issue of sexual harassment can be a touchy subject, and I don't want the fact that I brought it up in this review to mean that I'm now going to be going through future issues of Vindication with a fine-toothed sexual harassment comb. I'm just bringing up a logical consequence of the type of sexist behavior that Speedfire has already demonstrated. 

Now we come to the part of my review in which I ask the all-important question that is the make-or-break of a given comic and my interest in it.  That question is:  Do I want to know, "what happens next?"  And the answer is YES!  :-)

Again, the group was not brought together willingly, but by circumstance.  But can they still function as a team?  Can these people still be able to come together and function as a unit, instead of being just a group of individuals that happen to be together at the same place at the same time, but with individual and separate agendas?  Can their differing personalities still work together?  That's what I want to find out! 

My thanks to HB Comics and their great work.  I look forward to reading future issues, not just because I want answers to the questions I brought up above, but just because I'm a comic nerd.  You gotta appeal to the comic nerd in me first before you can appeal to me as a reviewer, and Vindication has appealed to both.  :-)

HB Comics, by the way, also brings you Lazerman, which I had previously reviewed.  Also, as part of Creators United, HB Comics now has its own link on my sidebar right over there.  --------->

Monday, October 14, 2013

Review: The Celtic Clan

Today's review is of The Celtic Clan, by Nigel Flood and Frank J. Right.  (On Facebook, they can be found here)

The Celtic Clan, as you might guess, is a superhero team, and they are based in Ireland.  Here's a run of the team's lineup:

Big Fella - Team organizer and leader.  He is the one who gives the assignments to the team so that they know where their help is needed.
Citizen - the field leader of the team when they're out on a mission.  He's a sort of Irish version of Captain America, sporting the colors of the Irish flag on his chest.
Celtic Tiger - a past-his-prime former boxer and MMA fighter with a fighting spirit, but no longer possessing the physique to match.  He's called "Tiger" because he's an anthropomorphic tiger - fur and fangs and claws and all that, so he's still not one to mess with - even past his prime.
The Athlete - a former junkie and now speed-based ("speed" as in "really fast", not the drug!) superhero, who's on the team somewhat reluctantly, but he still does the job.
Legacy - a warrior woman, who wears battle armor and wields a shield and a spear named Gae Bolg that never misses its target when she throws it.
Nymph - She sports fairy wings and has compound "bug" eyes, and is able to fly.
Druid - a druid (of course!) with magic-based abilities, including healing.
Ard Rí - A former king, he's now technically called a bog mummy, and he has the ability to form his body out of the surrounding ground, which is an interesting ability.  Presumably, his strength and stamina varies, based on what materials he used to form his body out of the surrounding area.
St. Patrick - as in, THE St. Patrick, who chased "snakes" out of Ireland some centuries ago (explanation below, so as to not spoil the story).

For this review, I read Celtic Clan #1 and 2.  Before I get into the story itself, it's time for the usual


SPOILERS AHEAD!  If you have not read Celtic Clan #1 and 2, and don't want what's in it spoiled for you, then STOP READING NOW!!  You have been warned!

Like I said, CC is based in Ireland, so there are numerous references to Irish landmarks and culture.  Not a bad thing at all - in fact, it would be an excuse for you all to do some research on Irish culture and lore.  Now, now - no excuses; you have Google and Wikipedia, so don't be a lazy-ass about this! Get some edumacation, dangit!

The story starts out with the CC on the verge of defeat by Ard Rí, who was being mind-controlled at the time.  The Athlete, who is being held aloft by Ard Rí, then recalls how the team formed - which is an interesting time for a flashback!  But hey, this happens all the time in comics.  :-)

For the writer, it's a good method to get his or her readers "up to speed" with the story.  For the hero, it could easily be explained as their life flashing before their eyes.  We then meet the team just as it was being formed, with the Big Fella, Citizen, and the Celtic Tiger.

This is gonna sound funny, but I liked the idea of a character like Celtic Tiger being an out-of-shape hero!  LOL  To me, it shows how some superheroes can't give up the role, even when they're past their prime.  In a sense, it's like when superstar athletes hang on to their cherished sport because they don't want to let go of the fame and the glory.  Think of Michael Jordan, or Brett Favre. 

In Celtic Tiger's case, however, there's still some spark left in that worn and paunchy physique, and the team is willing to give him one more shot at glory.  By the way, I also found it funny that a anthropomorphic character like him has a paunch!  Usually, the physiques of anthropomorphic characters are cut and chiseled, and not paunchy and out of shape, so that was an interesting take on the character, and I thank the creators for the intriguing twist to this type of character.  :-)

The flashback then catches up to where The Athlete is being held aloft by Ard Rí, and his little scheme to bringing the uniquely powered creature down finally comes to play, and Ard Rí is down for the count.  By the way, Ard Rí's power is rather fascinating, being able to form his body out of the surrounding ground.  In #1, he was made up of clods of earth, grass, and tree bark.  In #2, however, he formed himself out of the concrete of the city streets that the team was fighting on at the time.  By this time, Ard Rí was no longer mind-controlled, and was now part of the team. 

I have to wonder how Ard Rí's power works.  I have to guess that he can only form himself from the earth - that is, he couldn't form himself out of water, fire, or air.  Presumably, his consciousness, or "spirit", if you will, is able to move around inside the ground, and he's able to rise up from the ground, forming his new body in the process.  That's certainly a unique and interesting power, and it makes me wonder if we'll see how his powers might be different based on what materials he uses to form his body.   

 Legacy and Nymph were a two-woman team before joining the CC, and I'd like to see more of them and their personalities, and how they'll mesh with a mostly-male team.  I find The Athlete a bit interesting, because he was a junkie before joining the team.  He's also a bit reluctant in playing the role of superhero, but so far, he's done what he's asked to do.  I have to wonder, however, if his doubts get stronger the more he risks death or serious injury.  Or what if he resorts to his former drug habits if the stress of the job starts getting to him, and he feels the need to shoot up to "calm his nerves"?  I can also see him resorting to alcohol as a substitute, since alcohol is both socially acceptable and readily available. As both a comic reviewer AND a comic fan, he's one for me to keep my eye on.  :-)

I would also like to see more on The Citizen and his background.  So much mystery to the man!  Also, apparently he and St Patrick knew each other in the past, and their parting back then wasn't pleasant, because at the end of #2, Citizen leaves the team when he found out St Patrick was joining the team!  Holy cow, what the heck happened back then?

By the way, the "snakes" St Patrick chases away are a race of reptilian people known as the First Race; that is, the first intelligent race on Earth.  Many centuries ago, St Patrick succeeded in stopping the First Race's plans of conquest, and he did it in Ireland - thus spawning the legend of St Patrick chasing snakes from Ireland.  

 The funny thing is, it wasn't so much the stories in CC #1 and 2 that interested me as it was the characters themselves, and their personalities.  Don't get me wrong - the story was fine - but the character interplay was such that I can see all kinds of potential for future storylines.  Good storylines need good characters and good character interplay to make them work, and I already see that forming in just these two issues.

What I'd like to see - no, make that what I'd LOVE to see in future issues - is more background stories, of both the characters, and even the villains.  Hell, even the villains interest me!  LOL  I think more background stories will help develop the main storylines so that there will be even more plots and other plot twists, like Citizen abruptly leaving the team; or the Celtic Tiger having suddenly developed a more powerful and chiseled physique after his battle with a villain named Throwback, but possibly coming at the cost of him becoming more of the beast that he resembles.  Yeah, this is the stuff that comic nerds like me love.  :-D

So now we come to the part of my review in which I ask, "Do I want to know 'what happens next'?"  The answer to that question is my make-or-break of a given comic, for one of the main goals of writing comics is to encourage the readers to keep coming back for more. 

And the answer to that question is: Yes!  I think that the idea of an Irish superhero team is a very intriguing one, and I also think that CC has only begun to tap into the personalities of the characters.  Add to this the rich Irish culture, history, and lore, and we see all kinds of possibilities for stories that comic nerds of any country would love.  So I say, bring it on! 

Because the creators of the CC are part of Creators United, they will now officially grace my sidebar that you see over there waiting to be graced.  :-)   -------------------->

Thanks Nigel and Frank, for bringing us The Celtic Clan! 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Review: Argo 5

First, my apologies for not putting out these reviews at a much faster clip.  Damn adult responsibilities keep cropping up!  And (sigh) being a responsible adult means taking care of them!  Don't worry, it's not related to health issues or to financial problems (I could use more money, sure - but it's not money problems I'm dealing with right now), it's just stuff that takes up more of my time than I'd like.  Anyway, I think I'm finally at a lull where I can knock out some reviews.  My thanks to you all for your patience!  Onwards to the review!


Today's review is of Argo 5 by Dan Sehn!  With a name that has "5" in it, then the number of members must be five, right?  You'd be correct!  The roster of Argo 5 is thus:

* Gladiatra, the team leader, who can fly and has super strength, and even has laser vision.

* Shazrath , the Maltese god of strength, the upper level of which is not known, but he’s pretty freakin’ strong.  Hulk-level strong?  Maybe (that would make a good fight, I think).  

* Blue Dynamo, aka "the human star".  He can fly and project solar energy, mainly in the form of solar blasts to shoot enemies with.

* Kasira, who is a half-genie.  Mostly, her abilities are of a magical nature, although she can’t conjure things out of thin air like a full-blooded genie.  Still, she’s a pretty formidable opponent.

* Chain Reaction, a kung-fu martial artist who is able to cause a chain reaction of events to occur in his favor.  This sounds almost like a probability-altering power a la Scarlet Witch from Marvel Comics.  If it's not that, then it might be that he's simply that skilled in physics that's he's able to do the math in his head to determine how to punch or kick his opponent in such a way that the opponent's momentum will carry him to hit something else, and thus causing other things to happen. 

For this review, I read Argo 5 #0, 1, and 2.  I have not read beyond that, nor have I read any of the other related titles by Dan Sehn, so what I’m reviewing is based only on those first three issues.  And before I continue, time for the oh-so-necessary

If you have not read Argo 5 #0, 1, and 2, and don’t want what’s in it spoiled for you, then STOP READING NOW!!  You have been warned!

Stories about a team of superheroes have their benefits and drawbacks.  The benefit is the increased possibility of the different types of stories that can be made based on the differing personalities. The drawback is that, depending on the number or on the personality types, you can have too many to keep track of, or the personalities of each hero either does not provide enough of a contrast to create stories, or that they are TOO different, and are always fighting.  Thus, writing for a team of heroes is a balancing act.

Usually, these kinds of stories work best when the number is low, like around 3 to 5 members, because that allows enough characters to develop storylines about how well they get along (or don’t get along) with each other.  Once you get into “Justice League” numbers, then it becomes difficult to balance the different number of characters and yet still give each character enough “face” time to develop a good story.  Argo 5 seems to have a good enough balance of characters to develop stories around their work and personal relationships with each other, while giving enough “face” time to each hero.

Argo 5 starts out a bit slow for my taste in #0 and 1, but improved in #2 to the point that I began to see potential storylines for future issues.  What I see a need for here is more backstory for each character, so as to develop their individual personalities more.  That way, their actions and reactions to each other while they are teamed up will be logical and make more sense, instead of feeling like their individual personalities and their relationships with each other are contrived.  

For example, we know Chain Reaction can be something of a jerk when it comes to women, but how did he become this jerk?  How did he develop these troubling attitudes towards women?  He’s something of a charmer it seems, but he seems to relate to women only in a physical and superficial way.  All flesh and lust, and no depth of commitment.

Meanwhile, poor Blue Dynamo would love nothing more than the love of a good woman, but has the worst luck with them. In a sense, he’s almost as superficial as Chain, but in a different way.  While Chain views women by their sexual attractiveness, Blue seems to have a more romantic view of women, which can sometimes be almost as unrealistic as viewing women only for their proverbial “T and A”.  

If I were to have a heart-to-heart talk with Blue, I would tell him not to lower his standards so much, but simply to adjust them so that women are more “real”.  No woman can live up to a romanticized ideal that a poor lovesick nerd like Blue seems to hold.  But who could Blue turn to on his team that might help him through this?  Chain?  LOL  Seriously, that would be a good question for the writers to answer about Blue’s relationships with women (Reminder: I have not read Argo 5 beyond #2, so these things I bring up may have already been addressed in the later issues).  Shazrath is a god used to a whole different type of woman.  Gladiatra and Kasira could help to some degree, but would it be a good idea for them to be so personally involved with someone who is basically a coworker?

My job as a reviewer is not to suggest what the writers should do, but simply to point out what I see, and what I’d like to see.  So I’m not going to suggest to the writers on how Blue will work out his romantic troubles, or to what level the women on Argo 5 go to help him – if they even want to help him.  That’s for the writers to determine.  I’m also at the disadvantage in that I don’t know the future storylines that the writers have in mind, so I’m just going with what I have on hand right now.

Also understand that I'm not looking for some sort of "reality show" style drama here - the superheroics and super battles are the mainstay for books of a superhero team, and always will be.  But stories of a superhero team are also about relationships of the heroes with each other.  Done right, it can make for some awesome stories - and I think Argo 5 can do that.

Let’s go ahead and hit on the big question when it comes to my reviews, and that question is: Do I want to know “what happens next?”  Answering that question is the make-or-break of my interest in a given comic, and the answer to that question in regards to Argo 5 is: Yes!  Absolutely!  :-)

If I seem a tad harsh in my words above, I promise that it wasn’t my intent – it was simply me thinking out loud of what I see in Argo 5 so far, and what I hope to see later.  And I see potential – very good potential.  Creating a team of superheroes is a difficult balancing act, but I think Argo 5 has a good start, and I very much look forward to future issues.  Good job, guys!  

And as a member of Creators United, Argo 5 has now been officially added to my sidebar that you see right over thar.  ------->

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Miley Cyrus: I can't take it anymore!

I have avoided talking about Miley Cyrus on my blog, and I've been especially diligent about not discussing her recent antics on VMA.  However, when she finally spoke out about it, I just couldn't take it anymore!

And - AACCKK!!! - it was the ol' artsy fartsy "you just don't get it" and "you're overthinking it" defense!  Oh, so that's it, is it?  That's your defense?  It's pathetic! That defense is the weakest and lamest excuse ever when it comes artists and other performers who intentionally behave in a questionable and controversial fashion, and then try to explain away what they were thinking when they did them.

There's nothing to "overthink", Cupcake - we get where you're coming from.  Hell, you've been telling us for what? the past 3-4 years that you're not your typical former Disney princess who tries to live up to the stereotype of being cute and perky and pure as the driven snow. 

We get that you resented having the expectations of being oh-so-chaste thrust upon because of your early work resume and that you're the daughter of a country star known for his religious views.  We get that you take every opportunity you get to demonstrate that you can debase yourself publicly with the best - or rather, the worst - of them.

So there's nothing to misunderstand or overthink.  We get it.  You're also not the first artist to adopt such troubling attitudes about their art, and you certainly won't be the last.  Thing is, it's your choice to debase yourself publicly like that.  I wish you wouldn't feel like this is your only option to breaking away from your past, because you have the talent to be your own woman without these very public displays of wagging your tongue like a frog and gyrating your backside onto the front of the pants of a man who is married to someone else. 

There's ways to be open and bold and free and be your own woman besides this path that you have chosen.  I wish you would realize this.  Feminists didn't fight their battles against the sexist attitudes of their day only for someone to throw back all their progress in a way that demeans us all. 

Until you have the brutal honesty to admit to yourself as to why you really do these things, then you will be your own obstacle as to why you can't achieve true greatness that will be an inspiration to all.  But again, you're free to do these things - just spare us the pathetic excuses as to why you do them. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Meet CU member, Kristen McGuire!

Today's review is actually going to be something slightly different.  Oh, there will be the review, but you're also going to meet the artist! To my knowledge, I've never had a review/meet the artist before! So here she is! Say hello!

Ain't she awesome?  Before I forget, here's her website

And now below, you see Kristen in action, teaching the next generation of manga and anime artists.  I just love, love, love this! And what an important role she serves, too!  We need artists now, but we also need them for the future. What I love about comics is its ability to create stories that reach, and teach, and entertain, but there needs to be those that lead the way.  Kristen has chosen that role, and we will all be blessed for it as a result.  Kristen, you are the bomb for doing this!

Today I will be reviewing A Day in the Life of a Cat Girl, which is a one-shot story, and Enchanted, in which new pages are still being added on Wednesdays.

But before I continue, time for the obligatory


If you haven't read Kristen McGuire's A Day in the Life of a Cat Girl or Enchanted and don't want what's in it spoiled for you, then STOP READING NOW!  You have been warned!

Sooo...  Have you ever wondered what life is like as a "cat girl"?  Now, I don't mean a human dressed up in a cat costume like DC Comics' Cat Woman, I mean a teenage girl who has some attributes of a cat!  You know, with cat ears, a cat tail, a fondness for milk and yarn, and a hatred of dogs.  Well, now you will understand with Kristen's little tail - er, tale - of Tabby the Cat Girl!  It's an adorable story of what poor little Tabby goes through trying to live as a cat girl in a human world!  But hey - there's also perks!  Cat dudes!  LOL 

And next there's Enchanted, the story of a teenage country girl named Brooke who's now in the big city.  Bad enough being directionally challenged in a big city, but to have a bunch of jerks to deal with?  No way!  Life is not at all sunshine and roses for the poor girl, but hey, she's a teenager - teenage angst drama comes with the territory!

Enchanted is currently ongoing, so the story hasn't ended yet.  But it has gotten to the point where Brooke has come across a real, freakin' unicorn in an allegedly haunted forest!  Wait, make that two unicorns!  So what's going on?  Apparently, Brooke has a role in helping to save the unicorns from dragons!  What the - ?  Dragons?!?  Yes friends, Enchanted has unicorns and dragons and haunted forests!  Oh, my!

Currently, the story has reached "the big reveal" in which the unicorns tell Brooke that she's needed to help restore their magic before they cease to exist. Which means that we have to wait to see what happens.  That leads me to my all-important question when it comes to my reviews of comics:  Do I want to see "what happens next"?  The answer is YES!

The dragons have only just made their appearance, after all!  What the heck is going to happen now? 
I wanna know!  So yes, Kristen, you have me wanting more!  :-D

By the way, the art is awesome and very appealing to the eye.  Kristen's facial expressions in both Tabby the Cat Girl and Brooke the unicorn savior are very well done; capturing their many moods with perfection.  Kristen has also very much mastered the art of Japanese style comic sequential art.  You wouldn't know that this was done by a born-and-raised American!

So check out the art of a master, and well as the art of one of the teachers of the next generation of manga and anime art.  I'm certain that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Thanks, Kristen!  And as a member of Creators United, you're now added to my CU sidebar right over there.  ---------------->

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Artwork of Baby Lucinda and L'il Andi having a tea party!

Check it out!  Malcolm Harris, the creator of Princess Lucinda, made this artwork of his character as a baby having a tea party with Mini-Me!  Well, we were until it got spoiled when the treats sprouted eyes! 

Thanks so much, Malcolm!  I love it!  I might use this as my blog banner for Halloween!  ^.^

Friday, August 16, 2013

Review of "Princess Lucinda Book One: Black Rose of the Empire

Today I will be reviewing Princess Lucinda Book One: Black Rose of the Empire. The book can be purchased by clicking on the link.

Unlike most comics, the main character is not a superhero.  In fact, the main character, named Princess Lucinda (PL for short), is actually evil.  A comic - or more precisely in this instance, a graphic novel - based around an evil character is not unheard of, but it certainly presents its challenges when it comes to storytelling.  But before I start getting into the details of the book, it's time for the obligatory


If you haven't read Princess Lucinda and don't want what's in it spoiled for you, then STOP READING NOW!  You have been warned!

The reason Lucinda has the "princess" title is because that's what she is - a princess in a monarchy.  The world she lives in - or rather, the "universe", - is a kingdom of twelve worlds, and she lives on the world that is the seat of the empire, called Homeworld.  The monarchy, named the Nightbanes, rules with an iron fist.  Now, normally I work from the beginning of the book and work forward, but this time, I am going to start from the back of the book, and there's a reason for it that I'll explain in a bit.

 If you read the Appendices in the back of the book, you will see a very complex and detailed history of the world of Homeworld, the Nightbane dynasty, and basically an atlas of the worlds of the Nightbane empire.  As you might imagine with a despotic monarchy, the Nightbane dynasty has had its share of intrigue and backstabbing, including under the current leadership.  However, as human history has shown, empires rise and fall, and despotic empires fall especially hard.  

 We catch the story of PL just before the end of the empire.  Despite preparations against these forms of intrigue, the Nightbane monarchy are caught wholly unaware of the level of resistance that they eventually fall under.  The monarchy resisted as best they could, but eventually the king and queen were killed, but not before seeing PL and her older sister Millicent's escape to our Earth. 

 It could be that the rebels felt a greater impetus to overthrow the monarchy than ever before, due to the fact that they believed PL to be the "qz'nahl", which is "the dark child", defined in the book as "a mythic child of unfathomable malevolence and power".  It could be that the rebels believed that they had to act before PL came to power (in the "taking the throne" sense) and used her magic to entrench her control over the empire to an extent that was too frightening for the rebels to even ponder.  They apparently were so fearful of what would happen under a Queen Lucinda monarchy that they took this drastic step.  Their plans were wildly successful, but with the unfortunate exception that PL and her sister managed to escape.  The one person that they sought above all the others eluded their grasp.  How hard the rebels must be kicking themselves. 

Now we get to the reason that I started from the back of the book first.  I wanted you to understand the level of complexity that the universe of PL works.  PL is the latest (and now, apparently, the last) member of a dynastic family that goes back 700 years.  With so much time in power, no doubt the Nightbanes had encountered every type of plan and scheme imaginable from those who sought to usurp their power.  It could be said, though, that they were so successful that they got to the point of arrogance; that is, they felt that they were unstoppable.  Pride such as this is often the downfall of many despots.

So PL and her sister get to our Earth, and have to make adjustments to life outside their pampered existences.  Despite being away from their seat of power and their universe of twelve worlds, PL and her sister still have all their magic and magical control.  And of course, having been raised to think of herself as "above" us commoners, she treats everyone she encounters in evil ways.  She was raised evil, after all, so it's not at all unexpected that she would only live up to how she was raised.

During the course of the story, many questions came to mind, and I shall hit upon them.  Now, understand that by asking these questions, I'm not seeking direct answers from the creators of PL or anyone else who may be "in the know" of what happens next.  Instead, I ask these questions so that I can see how the upcoming books will answer them.  After all, before I am a blogger, I am also a fan of comics, so I don't want to be denied the very enjoyment that I get from reading comics!

First question: Is the point of PL to demonstrate how evil she is, or will there be, at some future point, a time when PL will be "redeemed"?  Given how she is now, if PL is ever "redeemed" - that is, becomes good, then it will be a LONG time in coming!  Fortunately, she's virtually immortal, so she has time!

By the way, I say "virtually immortal", because the book demonstrates that even though the king and queen are likewise immortal, they can be killed under the right circumstances, so there's no reason to doubt that the same goes for PL and her sister.  Also, if they can't be killed, then why send them away to Earth?  So is a "good Lucinda" possible?  Again, very doubtful, but she did come to the rescue of a woman and her granddaughter, even though she had nothing to gain by it personally. 

Next question: Will we be seeing the arrival of the rebels to Earth, and will they become part of the story of PL during her time on Earth?  That seems most likely, but as to how this takes place remains to be seen.  "Stay tuned, true believers!"

Third question: If it's the intent of the creators of PL that she never "sees the errors of her ways", then is the point of the PL stories a demonstration of the depths that evil can go?  If that's the case, then be prepared to see a lot more senseless deaths.  Just on her short arrival, she turned one woman into a two-headed frog, turned a bus and its occupants into a cigarette and smoked it (I can only assume that the faces in the smoke were the occupants' souls). 

Killing others comes easy to PL, so there's very little hope for redemption. Still, even the remote possibility of redemption will make for good story.  If PL ever sees the light, however, she will have to go through a lot of pain for all that she's done already - probably more than anyone could bear.  But again, a PL redemption story would make for a good story.  A good story is why we read comics, after all.  :-)

And the last question: with the Nightbane power structure now gone, what happens to the empire of twelve worlds?  Who fills the enormous power vacuum left behind by the deaths of its monarchs?  I can see chaos in the twelve worlds, but only after a long, hearty celebration.  It would be interesting to read what's going on in the post-Nightbane worlds as a separate series. 

So now we get to the part of my review in which I ask the all-important question: "Do I want to know 'what happens next?'"  How I answer that question is my measure of a comic.  And the answer to that question is: Yes.  Definitely yes!  I asked all those other questions, didn't I?  Why did I ask them if I wasn't hoping to find some answers!

So thank you, Malcolm Harris, and the rest of you who brought us PL.  A fun read, and gorgeous art to boot; one that definitely complements the writing.  And friends, if you get the book - trust me, there's plenty to read!  LOL  ;-)

As a member of Creators United, Malcolm Harris' Princess Lucinda is now officially added to my sidebar over yonder.  ------------------------>

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review: The Mighty BedBug!

Today I will be reviewing a superhero who is a bit different from most heroes that you read about in the comic books.  Most of the time when you hear the term "single parent", you think of a single mother.  BedBug (created by Scott Rogers) happens to be a single father.  I think that's an important message to send to today's comic nerds - that raising your child is not some chore or imposition, it's the toughest labor of love that any of us will ever go through.  

BedBug is Buddy Sprang, an independently wealthy computer programmer.  As a child and on a dare from his brother Terry, Buddy leaped off the roof of his house superhero style, and ended up paralyzed from the waist down. Determined to work past his physical limitations, Buddy worked hard earning his fortune, and then, once having accomplished that, set about the task of creating the mechanical boots that he uses as BedBug, the leapin' lawman!  The boots allow Buddy to walk, but not only that, they allow him to leap six stories high.  So in the end, Buddy ends up living his childhood dream of being a superhero.  

Before we get into the story, it's time for the obligitory:

***WARNING!  Spoilers ahead!!***

If you haven't read BedBug and don't want having what's in it spoiled for you, 
then STOP READING NOW!  You have been warned!

The one thing I got from reading the stories in BedBug #1 is that family relations are important.  There is, of course, the father/daughter storyline of Buddy and his young daughter, Elvira.  However, what I found interesting and touching is when Buddy and his brother Terry were creating the BedBug boots.  The narration mentioned hope being the reason Buddy was doing this, and this of course, was Buddy's hope to walk again. 

For Terry, his reason was listed as guilt.  Terry was the one who encouraged Buddy to jump off the roof on that fateful day, and with the sort of close relationship that the brothers seem to have, it's not surprising that Terry would be carrying around guilt all this time.  Buddy, no doubt, has long forgiven Terry, because they were kids and he knew that Terry honestly believed with his childhood reasoning that Buddy could make the jump.  Still, Buddy couldn't walk, and Terry could never forget that he was the reason why.  It's touching to see such close family bonds being depicted.

The writers could have easily taken the usual comic book story shortcut of having Terry as the villain, being driven insane by jealousy because of the sympathy everyone gave Buddy.  Instead, the writers chose to emphasize their closeness.  This particular scene was very brief, but I felt it was significant enough to mention here, because such close familial bonds are not usually depicted in comics.  

But the main storyline of family bonds in BedBug is Buddy's relationship with his daughter, Elvira.  The mother is mentioned only in passing, and shown only in a photograph, and no reason is given as to why she and Buddy divorced, or how Buddy ended up having custody of Elvira.  I'm sure that will be a topic for a future story.  In any case, Buddy is the one raising Elvira, and he's doing it alone.  This means, of course, having to find sitters when he needs to do the hero thing.  How many other heroes have such worries?  LOL

One touching story involved the stress and worry Buddy undergoes allowing his daughter to go to a sleep-over for the first time.  Adding to this worry is a team-up of BedBug's villains!  So with the help of a superhero friend named Blue Tiger, they set off to stop the evil machinations of the villains led by one named the Boogeyman.  Somehow, some way, Boogeyman knows the secret identity of BedBug, but so far has chosen to not reveal it to anyone else, even his villain associates. 

That presents an interesting set of possibilities to ponder as to why Boogeyman has chosen to keep BedBug's secret identity to himself.  No doubt this will be revealed whenever more is learned about Boogeyman himself.  Perhaps Boogeyman hopes to use this knowledge as blackmail in a future story; that is, threatening to reveal BedBug's identity publicly if Buddy doesn't go along with whatever evil scheme he has cooked up at that time.

If this indeed plays out this way, then we'll see the true measure of the man, this Bedbug - that is, whether he will still do the right thing even in the face of the threat of being publicly revealed.  And I have no doubt that he will do the right thing when the time comes.  That's what superheroes do, after all. 

Last, I want to make mention of the unique style of art, because in today's era of Photoshopped art, you don't find very many examples of hand-drawn AND hand-colored art in comics.  Some comic companies might even view hand-colored comics as amateurish.  However, the hand-colored art in BedBug works very well, and for this reason: For me, it demonstrates how much the creators of BedBug love making this comic; that they'll go through the extent and extra work to hand-color the art.  It's a labor a love, and it's great to see.  And nicely done, I might add! 

Thanks for a fun read, guys!

Overall, BedBug #1 is a great book; definitely worth adding to your collection of Indy comics.  My #1 measure of a comic's worth is the answer to this question:  After reading the comic, if I ask "What happens next?", then it's a keeper.  And BedBug is definitely a keeper.  :-)

BedBug is now added to my list of Creators United titles on the sidebar you see over here.  ---->

If you love independent comics, then show these guys some love and buy their comics! 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Commissioned artwork by Sebastian Van Esch

Today I present to you a commissioned artwork by Sebastian Van Esch!

SVE is one of the artists we had for my commission contest.  If you recall, the theme was a depiction of me taking on a killer robot, whether it was a robot, or a dude in a robot suit.  SVE took on the robot suit angle in the form of some mysterious green-skinned alien operating a vicious looking robot suit.

Gosh, where to begin on what I love about this artwork?

Let's start by saying that the overall appearance is very much like what you would see in the dramatic climax in a comic book.  From the looks of it, the fight was a real battle royale, with the robot suit taking most of the punishment (and it looks like I gave a little bit of hurt to the alien, too!).  So what you see here is a story having played out, and it's about to reach the dramatic end, with me about to deliver the final, punishing blow! 

Check out the damage to the armor.  I just love all the detail!  And down below on the street you see one of the robot's feet!  My guess: I took out its foot in order to keep it from standing, and it would mess up whatever he was planning to do, because he couldn't stand.  Heck, the whole bottom half of the robot is about to fall off, so it looks like this handicapping stratagem worked out, and that this battle is about to end!

And while you're at it, check out that perspective!  See folks, anyone who wants to learn how to do comic book art needs to master the art of perspective, and what SVE has here is a great lesson in perspective.  For one, you see the robot's left hand arching over my head, and my left hand hanging up and set up to come crashing down on his little green noggin!  And waaaay way down below, you see the robot's right foot!  It looks so high up you almost get a nosebleed!

Ah, and this artwork is also a great lesson in coloring!  Note how the color of the building actually frames the action.  The color of the building contrasts with the silvery armor of the robot and my white costume, which draws your eye right to the action.  In addition to the building color, there is a further concentration by the shadow behind me and the robot.  Very nicely done!

And last, notice that tension in my right arm as I hold the robot up.  It shows how strong I am, and it also emphasizes the curve in my other arm by complementing the arc.  It's like two sides of a bear trap about to snap shut!  Hell, no wonder the robot got so beat up!  Thanks for the excellent work, Sebastian!  It's all a great lesson on how to draw, ink, and color a comic page, especially the big climax moment!

Sebastian had asked me to not be afraid to offer some criticism, but in all honesty, there's not really much to criticize.  There would be only one thing, and it's nothing major at all, but Sebastian, since you asked, here ya go:  My hips are a little wider than that. How much wider?  Don't ask, unless you want to get beat up like that robot!  It's because of my wide hips that I wear the short white pleated skirt.  It's kind of a trick of fashion to use such a skirt to hide wide hips.  So there's your one criticism, Sebastian.  But again, it's nothing major, and it takes nothing away from the art.

Sebastian is a lesson in the use of rough drafts to come up with the final piece.  He sent the most rough drafts, and out of all that, he ended up with the finished artwork that you see here.  So to you young artists out there trying to break into the field of comic book art, SVB is a good example to follow!  

Thanks so much, friend!  Your artwork is a real treat!  :-)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Review: Meet Lazerman!

Today I will be reviewing a superhero who goes by the name Lazerman.

Lazerman is a superhero that I can relate to, because he's also a comic book geek!  LOL 

But heck, part of the reason many superheros take up the role is because of comic books, so it only makes sense that this guy, Alex Sanders, would want to don the spandex soon after being shot by an experimental laser, thus giving him the super powers of strength, flight, and a virtually bulletproof body. Being shot by powerful lasers happens every other day, right?

I read Lazerman 1 thru 4, and the link above conveniently provides those very issues should you want to obtain a copy for yourself.  And I feel that it's worth the dip into your comic book budget to get a copy!  :-)

Okay, before I continue, it's time to present the obligatory

**********WARNING!  SPOILERS AHEAD!  **********

If you have not read Lazerman and don't want what's in it spoiled for you, then STOP READING NOW!  You have been warned!

This beginning story arc is peppered with bits of oddball humor, like the computer geek friend who always seems to know someone who - very conveniently - can provide whatever service or skill that they happen to need at that time.  There's also the guy with the round glasses who always knows "backstory" of different characters, and happens to show up at the right time to give that backstory.  I suspect that this guy works for the NSA!

However, what I found really funny is that not only is Lazerman a comic book nerd, so is his first arch-villain!  Another thing I found funny about the villain, Razorman, is that despite the name, he always had a three-day beard!  The razors, apparently, are only for intimidation, and not for shaving.  Razorman is a legacy villain who comes from a long line of villains who tried - and failed - to make the ultimate war machine, which is a mechanical device that can go from an awesome razor-themed car, to a flying helicopter-looking machine, to a giant killer robot!  (Killer robot?  Where have I seen one of those before? )

Razorman accomplishes what his ancestors failed to do, and that's to complete the war machine - and what an intimidating device it is!  So what does he do the first time out?  Why attack the Statue of Liberty, of course!  Lady Liberty is Razorman's target because back in the day, the Feds spent money on restoring it instead of funding RazorDad's war machine project.  But Razorman is holding no grudges, you understand...

My favorite part of this story arc is when Alex is feeling frustrated because his first jaunt into doing the hero thing failed miserably.  Then as his friend is talking, he's looking out the window, and sees a toddler fall out of a window and about to plummet many stories down to the pavement.  Without even thinking about it, Alex flies to the rescue (as Lazerman, naturally).  Then other things pop up that require his super assistance.  Before he knows it, he's done the hero thing.

That's how it usually works when you're not trying too hard to be a hero.  The heroics tend to come to you.  If you think too much while you're doing the hero thing, then you may think too much about the danger you're putting yourself in by battling - for example - a guy who can fling razor discs like someone else flings a Frisbee.  In other words, if you think too much about your own safety, then someone else's safety is usually put into jeopardy.  Even early in his superhero career, Lazerman has already leaped into battle with little regard to his own safety, and thus he has saved others.  Welcome to the superhero club, Alex!

The story arc, while loaded with goofiness, has its own shades of darkness.  Apparently, there's suggestions of behind-the-scenes intrigue going on, and no doubt we'll learn if another super villain is in the works for poor Lazerman.  My question is this: In the hospital just after Alex was shot by the laser, it was suggested that Alex wasn't the only victim of these kinds of "experiments".  So, what happened to those other people?  Will Lazerman be seeing them soon?

Anyway, the big battle ensues, and Razorman is defeated!  Whoohoo!  Then after having saved the day, Alex is feeling pretty good about himself, and takes to flying around the Earth - and gets smacked by a plane.  Heh!  What a fitting ending for the world's goofiest laser-themed superhero!  There are other issues of Lazerman out now, but I haven't read them yet, because I wanted to do this review first.  However, I was impressed enough that I want to see "what happens next", and that's music to the ears of any comic creator.

Great job, guys!   Well done!  ^.^

And on a related note, I am part of something on Facebook called Creators United, which is a loose affiliation of comic creators, artists, writers, etc.  We are a group of comic lovers who are not affiliated with the "Big Two", but who aspire to work together to put out comics anyway.  It's still in its beginning stages, but it's a very ambitious group, and I see only good things ahead. 

To show my support of Creators United, each time I review a publication done by a CU member, I will post it to my new sidebar category conveniently titled "Creators United Members".

As you can see, Lazerman has the honor of being the first member to be posted to it. ------>

But it's just the first of what I hope are many more for me to review!  :-)

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Flying Man - a taste of life in my "universe"

What I like about this short film, The Flying Man, is that it captures the sense of fear and anomie that superhumans in my "universe" brought to everyone else whenever we first started to become publicly known back in the mid-2000’s.  What's to stop one of us superhumans to suddenly becoming a law unto ourselves?

That's the problem with the supervillains in my "universe" - it's not so much that they do evil for evil's sake, but that they think that they are not bound by the laws of humans.  That is, they believe that they are their own law, and their personal laws supersede human laws.  It's very hard to negotiate with someone who thinks that they aren't bound by the laws and social mores of the community that they live in.

For example, with my super strength, flight ability, heightened senses (sight, hearing, etc), and speed healing, if I ever went "rogue", it would be very, very hard to stop me.  If I didn't care about what others thought of my actions, if I was out only for myself, it would take the authorities a very long time and a great loss of life to finally put me down.

This is why I work for the government as its "superhero" - to provide a very public example not just to humans, but also to provide a very public example to the superhumans as well - that humans and superhumans working together can be done, and that there is another way for superhumans to be living than in their own little insular worlds.

I say this, because for most of human history (again, in my "universe"), superhumans had to hide who they were in order to be left alone and not raise fear among the regular human population –whether we meant to raise fear or not.   I did this hiding of my super abilities as well, before I accepted the government's offer to be their "superhero".  There were so few of us superhumans that for the most part, we weren't aware of others like us; most of us simply stayed in hiding because it was the easiest thing to do.

In The Flying Man, we see the fear that is arisen when someone with special abilities decides to make themselves judge, jury, and executioner.  It’s hinted that this flying man is killing only criminals, making him a combination of Marvel’s The Punisher and DC’s Superman rolled into one person.  But by what criteria does he make these decisions, and by what right does he carry out his “executions” (which is what dropping them to the ground from a killing height amounts to being)?

So you see, friends, why superhumans scare people in my universe.  Imagine The Flying Man not as one person, but almost a hundred, back in 2005 when superhumans decided to make themselves publicly known, and some took it upon themselves to remake the world more to their liking.  So watch The Flying Man, and get a taste of life in my neck of the woods.