The X-Journey: The Surprise of Rogue’s First Appearance in Avengers Annual #10

Welcome back to the X-Journey that dovetails into The Avengers with Rogue’s first appearance in Avengers Annual #10. The funny part of reading the origin for the first time is that it did surprise me. Oh, I knew that Rogue got her powers from Carol Danvers/Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel but I forgot what period of time this was for Carol. See there’s a different setup for Rogue’s first appearance than you’d expect. I have much more to say on this than I did Gambit’s first appearance. Mostly because Rogue’s first appearance is stranger than you’d think. You’ll see what I mean as I go further into this. All I can say is, I had reactions to this that I didn’t expect to have. Read on my friends as we continue The X-Journey. This is seriously one of those where I truly say, I really do hope you survive the experience.

Note: Chris Claremont wrote this and it is well written and a great first appearance for Rogue. This happens to take place though in a severe low point for Carol Danvers. Wow was it ever a low point.

Avengers Annual #10 Cover Rogue

You know this is a first time because I had no idea Spider-Woman was part of the first Rogue story. It does make sense though considering he was writing Spider-Woman at this point in 1981. That was the first surprise out of all this, Spider-Woman played a fairly big role in this adventure. She’s the one that finds a woman being dumped over the Golden Gate Bridge, which turns out to be Carol Danvers after Spider-Woman/Jessica Drew takes her to the hospital. The fun fact with this is Chris Claremont also wrote Ms.Marvel at one point too before all this so both characters were a part of Claremont’s writing life by 1981. It’s wild to see how these all tie together by the end of this issue.

Maddy Pryor X-Men Rogue

(Chris Claremont you little scamp. You had to sneak in Maddy Pryor. I cracked up. Beautiful little hint for later on in the X-Men Universe.)

What I love about this too is how you can tell right off the bat Chris Claremont is a genuine fan of Carol Danvers. After a certain story that we’ll talk about later within the Avengers, Carol Danvers needed someone who wanted to work with her and by golly Claremont was up to the task. You know how great a character Carol is. The weird factor of the story is Rogue has already zapped Carol of her powers. She’s right now a shell of her former self. Yet Spider-Woman knows who to call to help Carol out, being Professor X and this gives us our X-Men cameo in the Avengers Annual. Oh and yes we will get to Rogue soon I promise but I had to give some extra backstory as it is necessary.

Carol Danvers Ms. Marvel Captain Marvel Rogue

(Seriously, Claremont tells the reader how great Carol is. It’s sort of his way of rehabbing Carol for events later on in the issue and giving added emphasis to what Rogue did to her.)

Now we are at the point where we get to Rogue. Thank you for patience here. We do get a sequence with the X-Men talking about stuff that went down with Kitty Pryde in the mansion and the X-Men rebuilding parts of it. I won’t dive into that much as the important part is this getting Professor X in the picture. He reveals that Rogue is the scourge that did this to Carol Danvers. Take note of the art here and see the level of detail to show how terrifying Rogue is at this point. This is our first introduction to her and that’s impressive. We know she’s powerful but we don’t know how she got to this point. That’s some strong build up right there. I like it.

Rogue X-Men First Appearance

(Give some love to Michael Golden’s art with Armando Gil’s inks, my goodness it’s gorgeous stuff. Even better? Golden colored all of this! Beautiful work all around.)

When we get our actual introduction to Rogue in action she is straight up beating the crap out of Captain America. Now that my friends is something no reader is going to forget anytime soon. Imagine reading this back in 1981 and seeing this for yourself, it would stick with you. Take note, at this stage Rogue has fully absorbed the powers of Ms. Marvel so she is a force like no other. She’s stil learning but she’s absorbing as much power as she can along the way. Her absorbing the powers of Ms. Marvel the way she did was more out of her inexperience with her abilities than anything else.

As this goes on, Mystique disables Iron Man and Rogue absorbs the energy from Captain America and Thor for reasons to be revealed later here. Now when Spider-Woman tells the Avengers all that goes on, you learn what happened to Ms. Marvel before she ended up in the hospital. That’s when you relive one of the creepiest Avengers stories ever. There’s a CBR article I’ll link here that explains it better but it involves a mysterious pregnancy of Ms. Marvel, mind manipulation, and so many more terrible things. A big part of this issue outside of Rogue’s first appearance is rebuilding Carol Danvers. This annual takes many upon many turns.

Avengers Rogue Ms. Marvel Annual

(This is the streamlined version of the story and it still made me cringe and say many “Ew’s”)

Ms. Marvel Avengers Marvel

(This is seriously the streamlined version. The CBR article I linked details it better but this gives you all of the awful no good very bad story you need to know.)

I really did mean this to be a Rogue focused piece but when I read it, the tale expanded quite a bit.

Anyway, after that detour we are back to the Rogue show. Which really means back to the Rogue and Mystique show. Now we get to see what the ultimate plan is with disabling Iron Man and getting the energies of Captain America and Thor. The plan is to get the rest of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants out of prison. Now here is the thing, from here on it’s a big ole splashy mega fight. There’s a clever bit of Mystique using her shapeshifting ability to impersonate Nick Fury and other cool uses of the Brotherhood’s abilities. Claremont had a lot of fun with Avalanche, Blob, Pyro, and Destiny in this fight with the Avengers and Spider-Woman and it showed.

Now I get to streamline this as the rest of the issue is straight up action and Mystique gets Rogue out of that battle. It’s a beautiful fight and a joy to behold so I highly recommend checking out this issue for that fight alone. After this though we go back to a mostly recovered Carol Danvers at the X-Mansion and it gets pretty wild from here. The last bit of this issue is Chris Claremont’s pipebomb on that awful Avengers storyline. Carol Danvers is his spokesperson to deal with his own feelings on that tale. I won’t link the entire pipebomb as the CBR article has it in full. Let’s just say though, it’s worth reading. I’ll link part of it here but the rest, check out the CBR article.

Carol Danvers Pipebomb Avengers Annual

I tell you all this much, The Avengers don’t look good at all by the end of this pipebomb. Rogue’s first appearance was only half the story here. I did not expect this comic to take me on the ride I went on but I went on it by golly.

Avengers Annual #10 was a shocking and surprising read. Rogue’s first apperance was only part of this whole adventure. This also set up Carol Danvers for a brand new adventure which may lead us into one Binary journey down the line. The Michael Golden and Armando Gil art makes this issue one amazing read in itself. Anyway, thank you all for reading this. I know I only looked into Rogue so much but Rogue only made so many appearances here and I’ll get to dive more into her in the X-series proper. Thanks for reading and as always I really am glad you survived this experience with me. Take care everyone and bye for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The X-Journey: My First Read of Gambit’s First Appearance: Uncanny X-Men #266

In honor of the release of Mr. and Mrs. X, I decided to dive into the first appearance of Gambit. See I realized that there is a lot of X-Men lore that I never experienced. Hence I am going to dive into the X-Universe in a big way now. I have Marvel Unlimited so let’s do this thing. Since Gambit was one of my favorites as a kid I figure why not start with the first appearance of him. See I have no context for the story that’s happening with Gambit’s first appearance but that’s okay. We’ll fill in those blanks later. Right now I’m ready to start my X-Journey. Take note, this is my frist time reading Gambit’s first appearance so this is a blind read too. Welcome to the X-Journey, hope you survive the experience.

Oh my goodness, this X-Journey is going to be fun. Mr. and Mrs. X prompted this one so thank you Mr. and Mrs. X. Let’s get acquainted with Gambit.

Uncanny X-Men #266 Gambit

As we start up the issue one thing I will note, Gambit doesn’t appear until about the half way point. The major part of the issue is Storm stuck as a teenager somehow and dealing with The Shadow King and his hounds. When I say I got thrown in the thick of it, I mean it. I got thrown into the thick of a storyline but it’s all good and worked my way through by golly. Of course in reading this first appearance it made me want to check out more of the story so down the line we’ll revisit this. There’s also a little bit of Nanny and Orphan-Maker that are tied into this tale too, which again intrigues me. No I’m not doing extra research on this right now, but we’ll stick a pin in this for later.

The interesting part is when in the midst of a chase with Shadow King and his hounds, that’s how we’re introduced to Gambit. He’s there at the place to steal some paintings that Storm brought back, but the plan isn’t quite working out the way he thought. He ends up showing that he’s a good guy at his core by saving Storm from the Shadow King and his nefarious hounds. I mean Chris Claremont showed that the guy is a hero at his core despite his shady nature. It is a fun chase too to see Gambit and Storm going through this crazy mansion getting away from the villains. I mean all in all it’s a great introduction to him. Especially for being introduced at the half way point of the comic.

Uncanny X-Men #266 First Appearance Gambit Storm

In before anyone says anything, yes I am skipping over plot points out the wazoo. If anyone wanted a thorough review of this or something, this will not be the place to look for now. This is Gambit Central right now.

Yes I probably should be diving more into plot points but truthfully, I really don’t know the background outside of what the issue gives me. I know Storm and Shadow King have history but that’s about it. It was also a clever idea to have Gambit be introduced with Storm as they both share a history of thievery. Heck I can see why people gravitated towards Gambit as he does have a cool design overall. You got the leather jacket, the cool staff, and a neat energy power, and you’re rocking and rolling baby. Sadly we didn’t get Jim Lee art in this issue but Mike Collins did a great job penciling this issue and Josef Rubinstein did a killer job inking Collins. A good start for Gambit in the Marvel Universe for sure.

Yeah I enjoyed this and I’ll have to revisit his second appearance after I do a piece on Rogue. I am interested in seeing where this story goes from here. This also made me realize just how much of Chris Claremont’s X-Men I haven’t read. Oh yeah, we’re revisiting this story for sure after the Rogue first appearance. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. X for inspiring this for sure. Bonus points for getting me a focus in my back issue reading. For now, this concludes the first part of my X-Journey. Thanks for reading and catch you all later as I read the first appearance of Rogue for the next one. Till then, I am glad you survived the experience.

 

 

 

The Sequential Chronicles: Wesley vs. The Get Along Gang

Welcome to the second adventure into The Sequential Chronicles and yes you read the title right. This edition focuses on the Get Along Gang. I found an issue of it recently at a local convention and figured it would be perfect for this. Here’s fair warning, the story itself is fairly harmless. I mean it’s the Get Along Gang. For a lot of my younger readers though you may find it fascinating to learn a little more about this property. This was a show that aired all the time when I was a kid between syndication and cable stations. Nowadays no one airs this along with a lot of shows of the period. Enough of the intro and on with the adventure into the Get Along Gang #1 from Star/Marvel Comics. Where cartoon history and comic book history collide.

If you are a cartoon history fan you’re going to enjoy this look at the Get Along Gang. Even comic fans will enjoy this one as I will dive a little more into the Star Comics imprint Marvel had in the 80’s.

Let’s start with this, I had no idea the Get Along Gang was originally a series of greeting cards from American Greetings/Those Characters from Cleveland. My own experience with the Get Along Gang began with the animated series that aired initially on Nickelodeon for the pilot in 1984 and then from 1984-85 on CBS for 13 episodes. Now you may be wondering how I know of this show that aired in the mid 80’s and that is a valid question. Get Along Gang aired on The Family Channel/Freeform from 1990 to 1993 which was where I remember them from. They also later aired on Pax TV/Ion Television) from 1999 until 2001. Cable TV was wild in the 90’s and 00’s.

Oh and the original pilot on Nickelodeon for The Get Along Gang had songs by John Sebastian of The Lovin’ Spoonful and the theme song for Welcome Back, Kotter fame too. Which I shall link below.

Heck this aired along with all sorts of random programming on The Family Channel back in the day. Get Along Gang was just one of those shows on Cable TV for kids back in the day.

As for the Get Along Gang comic, it was a bi-monthly series from Marvel’s Star Comics imprint lasting six issues from 1985 to 1986. Now if you are unfamiliar with Star Comics, it was an imprint Marvel had from 1984 until 1988. Star focused on childrens comics that ranged from original properties to ones based off of animated series. If you are curious, yes I own more than a few comics from this line. Yes you will likely see them in future Sequential Chronicles. Animated series adaptations are a favorite of mine and I have lots of them hanging out in my collection.

As for my own story in owning this comic, I found it at a local record and comic expo. Needless to say this was the sort of comic that caught my eye because it has history to it. If a comic has some sort of history to it then it is something I will want to own. Considering during its height there were plushes, comic books, and more with the Get Along Gang and now it is rarely mentioned. Outside of oddball comic and animation nerds, like me, no one would ever think about the show. Which leads me to talk about this comic and after that talk about how it impacted pop culture, in some small way at least.

Get Along Gang #1 Cover

No I am not kidding, the Get Along Gang does have a weird place in pop culture. Stay tuned.

Now here’s the thing about the comic, it’s so harmless it’s not even funny. It is about the perfect kid friendly comic ever. I mean ever. Considering that Dave Manak, the writer went on to work at Archie Comics as the penciler for Sonic the Hedgehog comics amongst other things makes sense. As for the artist of this Carlos Garzon, he’s mostly done art for multitudes of companies, inks for DC and so on. That’s the one thing about these is a lot of these people have credits that aren’t as well known as say others out there. Yet I still feel knowing a little about these creators is good because in comics, everyone is important in their own way no matter how big or small. Even working on a comic like Get Along Gang, there’s still craft to it.

Now if you want to know a bit about the characters in the Get Along Gang, it’s not important but you’ll probably get a kick out of it anyway. I mean there’s a Moose named Montgomery “Good News” Moose who’s the leader of the gang and more characters, a dog, lamb, beaver, turtles, and more. This issue is about the gang having their own Winter Olympics. With the dastardly Catchum Crocodile and Leland Lizard trying to ruin their fun. Oh and control over their Clubhouse Caboose. This is the series my friends, this is how it rolls. It’s a kids show comic from the 80’s and it’s adorable and kind of silly. If any of you reading this are parents out there, you could show it to your kids and be fine.

I did think about writing a more detailed plot thing with the Get Along Gang but then I realized, it was the Get Along Gang.

It’s a well made comic for being a licensed comic based off a kids show meant to teach children valuable lessons in the 80’s. The goal of the show is to teach kids to go with the crowd and to get along. Which is also kind of horrible at the same time instead of you know compromising and talking things over, nope you make sure you get along with the crowd. It’s a strange series. If you’re wondering how the Winter Olympics ended for them, the boys and girls had a fight and over meddling from the villains. Then it ended in everyone getting along in the end and having a good time once more. Yeah there’s not much more to it but there is a reason why the Get Along Gang have a weird place in pop culture.

See now this is where I tie everything together. This is a big part why I did this article to begin with. I present to you The Buddy Bears from Garfield and Friends. They never disagree, they always get along, and if you complain you are just causing problems. They’re also hyper educational and are meant to be the safest characters ever. Mark Evanier created them as his way to parody The Ger Along Gang and also apparently Care Bears too. I’m going to post the theme they sing below and you’ll understand what I mean about The Buddy Bears. They were his stress valve dealing with all the cheesy cartoons and by golly it shows, it really does.

 

Prepare yourselves for this song to get as stuck in your head forever as it is in mine. Once you hear The Buddy Bears theme you never forget it. Ever. Never Ever.

It’s weird that I didn’t have more to say on the comic but there we are. Sometimes in The Sequential Chronicles you can only get so much out of something. I’m still figuring this all out as I go along anyway. I swear I wrote about this to talk about The Buddy Bears and Star Comics, I can own that. You will see many more Star Comics books in this too. Anyway, thank you all out there for reading this and I hope you all have a good one. Take care and I shall see you all next time for the next installment of The Sequential Chronicles.

Oh and I also managed to get over 1,200 words on the freaking Get Along Gang. I deserve a medal or a cookie. A cookie medal would work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sequential Chronicles: The New Avengers/Transformers Journey

If you’re someone who has a particularly large comic collection what do you do? Apparently you come up with the idea of talking about your collection on the Internet. In my weird magical adventures online I have always searched for an article that screams me. The Sequential Chronicles seems to be fitting. How strangely appropriate that I’m going to talk about New Avengers/Transofrmers for my first piece in this journey. These won’t really be reviews in any normal sense of the word. Just me talking about my experience and my adventure with it. The journey will be a little strange and weird on occasion but roll with it. In this inaugural piece let’s see how the New Avengers and Transformers get along. On with the roller coaster ride! The thrills, chills, and some giant robot fun along the way.  Time to have some fun.

If you have ever seen my Twitter you know giant robots are part of my aesthetic. How appropriate that New Avengers/Transformers starts me on my collection journey.

New Avengers Transformers #4 Cover

I have had these four issues in my collection for awhile after discovering them at my local Half Price Books. Somehow these books slipped by me back in the day. I knew nothing about the story outside of some fun covers. I note the covers because there are some cool talents on them, Jim Cheung on #1, Jason Pearson on #2, Ed McGuiness on #3, and Tom Raney on #4, which are all fun to see. It’s weird that not much has been said about it outside of an old interview Stuart Moore gave for IGN back in 2007 and that’s it. It must not have done that well as I couldn’t find anything on the Comichron for it in 2007. I guess it has become obscure over the years. Strange huh?

It’s hard to believe that none of the comic sites have done something with this. Crazy huh?

Now the creative team for this book is as I mentioned Stuart Moore, who wrote the entire miniseries. Then this is where I get a little amused. New Avengers/Transformers is a Marvel and IDW crossover but then in issue three the art is done by Top Cow Productions, Inc. as artist Tyler Kirkham and inker Sal Regla worked there. Which technically means three different companies were involved in this. Yes I know Top Cow was just helping on art but I get a kick out of seeing three companies involved in this. Annette Kwok is the colorist for the series with Blond assisting on issue two and Todd Klein handles the lettering here. It’s a solid team overall but prepare yourself as we dive into the story. It’s going to get weird from here kids.

Two points to make already with New Avengers/Transformers: A solid team on paper but it gets a little messy on some aspects. Second point is that the story really is a mess but worth it, strangely enough.

I mean bless Stuart Moore’s heart in having to deal with a crossover story like this, these are not easy to pull off. That this works as much as it does is amazing in its own right. The first issue is sort of your litmus test for the story. The New Avengers are acting all sorts of out of character and not going to lie, it was jarring. You are thrown straight into the story with the Avengers in Latveria and left trying to figure out what is happening. The characterization is a mess for the first and second issues as to how the Avengers relate to each other. Spider-Man and Iron Man are the only two that have some sort of consistent character throughout the first part of the story. It makes reading the first two issues frustrating.

Prepare yourself if you dive into this as it is a frustrating read for at least two issues. Though Spider-Man and Iron Man are fine so that’s cool.

New Avengers Transformers Iron Man Cool Giant Robot Suit

Of course when you learn the reason why the team is acting so weird it all makes sense. It’s caused by some sort of Psycho-Prism that Doctor Doom had in his lab as to why the Avengers were so off kilter. It’s strange and kind of silly but hey it works. That’s how the Transformers come into play as the Autobots help in getting everyone calmed down. Then that’s how you learn why the Decepticons are here. They are trying to get Energon and the Autobots are trying to stop them. Then there’s the threat of war hovering around them as this is going on. A lot of moving parts to this crazy crossover.

You know even trying to streamline the story of this crossover is crazy in its own right.

As this is all happening Spider-Man gets captured and Megatron uses his abilities to supercharge the Decepticons for reasons not made very clear. I’m not going to spoil too much but you do get Iron Man in a cool giant robot suit and that’s neat. The Autobots have their battles with the Decepticons in this too and Doctor Doom plays a role in a confusing but fun way. I think Moore was throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what stuck which fits for this story. I can only do this so much justice as some of this you just need to experience for yourself. Embrace the madness.

Isn’t this a cool splash page?

New Avengers Transformers Splash Page Issue 1

Yeah I think it is a cool splash page by golly.

No I’m not going to spoil it all for you as well, I don’t think I could do aspects of this justice. It’s such an odd story that I was hesitant if I was going to make it through with issue one. Yet by issue four it wasn’t too shabby. Not too shabby at all.

Now if you’re wanting a detailed look into art and so on, Kirkham’s art ranges from kind of rough to solid when it comes to drawing the robots especially. Regla’s inking helps a lot in smoothing out the rough edges of Kirkham’s pencils for sure. Kwok’s coloring is strong throughout the four issues along with Blond’s assist for  #2 and Todd Klein’s lettering is amazing as always. As the story itself serviced in bringing these properties together in a disjointed but fun way, at least by the end. Stuart Moore did well in making this work and also being sure to let the fellow members of his creative team shine via his script. It’s a mess at points but a worthwhile adventure if I do say so myself.

Yeah I’m not writing these to replace the issues here. This is a loose summary into the four issues. Fair warning, Starscream isn’t in this as I read in the IGN interview he was dead at the time. After we get past the lack of Starscream, I say give these a look. You won’t find them on any digital market so you are either going to go back issue bin diving or buying them online at any fine online comic book store. The trade is out of print but you can find it via online sellers, I saw it for under $15. The single issues are the way to go here in my opinion, they are easy to get your hands on.

I cannot state this enough, go with the single issues if you can unless you find the trade for cheaper than $15. If you find this trade for ten bucks, sure go for it but otherwise stick with the singles.

This is the first of The Sequential Chronicles so let me know what you think out there in comic land. Tell me what works and what doesn’t and so on. I’m still working out some stuff with this so any feedback is appreciated. Leave me a comment below, say hi to me on Twitter, and I will catch you all in the next part of this journey. Because the next part of this is an adventure into 80’s cartoon wonderland, see you then.

(Side note: This is so my weird iCandy piece once more too. As in I’m likely the only person even remotely diving into this. This is my life.)

 

 

 

 

 

Wes Reads Catch Up Edition 12/5/17: Sing Song Ladycastle

I’ve needed an informal blog format between the more serious reviews here and there. So hello Wes Reads Catch Up edition. As I am going through my backlog and just tearing through comics and books I haven’t read yet. I was tempted to put Ladycastle and Justice League of America into the same title but that would be a mess. I’m tempted to blog on more informal stuff too as Warren Ellis inspired me in his newsletter to do it. Heck if informal blogging makes a weird comeback in the coming year, rock and roll Wes Reads will be ready for it. I guess you can consider Wes Reads the great catch all of my site. My great experiment begins as I tell you what I’ve been reading in the Wes Reads Catch Up edition.

Yes I may have to tweak this as I catch up on reading but I am also always behind so Wes Reads works here.

Justice League of America Rebirth #1 DC Comics

If you’re wondering if these are going to be formal reviews, yeah these are not formal reviews. Just me telling you what I just read, so enjoy. The Justice League of America books I read were Justice League of America: Road to Rebirth and Justice League of America Vol. 1: The Extremists. When I recorded these on my Goodreads account I saw the reviews and I was baffled. These were both fun reads and some people were trashing them to pieces. I don’t get some comic fans at times. Then again in all of my adventures in Comics Internet I still have a tough time understanding some fans to this day. I had a blast reading both books though, I’ll detail into them a little as we go on here.

The Road to Rebirth collects all the Justice League of America one-shots with Rebirth #1. If you’re not sure about this series Road to Rebirth gives you a good idea as to what you’re in for. Steve Orlando writes all of the one-shots with Jody Houser co-writing the Vixen and Killer Frost stories. I think it helps to connect people to the series as you get to know these characters through the one-shots. This also came out of the Justice League vs. Suicide Squad series but if you haven’t read it yet, you will be fine as Killer Frost’s story fills you in. I can say that all the stories worked for me in one way or another. Definitely check it out if you haven’t yet.

I’m also trying to not make these 1,000+ word juggernaut posts but knowing me with Wes Reads, it’ll happen. I know me.

I’m also not mentioning all the artists but trust me when I say, the one-shots have rocking art in them. The same goes for Vol. 1 of Justice League of America, The Extremists. Ivan Reis is but one of the artists in the first arc. Now what’s weird about both Road to Rebirth and The Extremists is the Rebirth one-shot is collected in both trades. It’s weirder having the Rebirth one-shot in both trades reading them back to back, but I like that it is in both trades. The Extremists collects actually two story arcs too, the four issue Extremists story and a two issue mythological weapons arc. It’s interesting the arc that Orlando is taking with these characters as this is heavily character oriented and I like it. Great stuff all around.

Again, it was funny reading the Goodreads reviews of this as people were grouchy about this one too. It’s a cool take on a team, it’s diverse, it’s interesting, and there’s not one character I really dislike. If you haven’t read Justice League of America yet, I’d recommend getting on that. I may do a more formal review of all this down the line when I catch up with more of the series. For now though, still highly recommended. As I love good character work and some good world building in between. The world building here being how the characters operate and where the adventures take them, so I dig it. Go forth and read.

Now for the really fun part of Wes Reads, Ladycastle. I fully admit I love this comic. I really want more. You’ll see why as I type on.

Now Ladycastle I’d heard a lot of good things about over the past few months. I didn’t get the chance to read it until recently and now I’m clamoring for more. It’s got a musical element to it with riffs on just about any musical and theme song imaginable in there. There’s also a ton of heart to it and some genuinely endearing characters. The story of it is all the men except one Knight get eaten by a dragon, and now the women are in charge of the kingdom. I love how the concept comes together with the perfect balance of humor and drama. Delilah S. Dawson is great with these characters and I love how the artists Ashley A. Woods, Becca Farrow, and Rebecca Nalty gel this together.

See when all the men get killed, suddenly the Blacksmith’s Wife, Merinor becomes King of the former Mancastle now Ladycastle. Princess Aeve becomes the Captain of the Knights, with Sir Riddick teaching all the ladies how to fight. It’s a cool idea and it also gets deep within the four issues the series runs. You really do want more by the end as it does have a satisfying ending there’s so many more stories to do in this universe and I like what I see. It’s a beautifully written, well thought out, and wonderful world that I want more of. If you haven’t read this yet, fix that sooner rather than later.

Told you this would end up being a 1,000 word juggernaut of a casual Wes Reads piece. Like I said, I know me.

In closing, Justice League of America if you don’t know comes from DC Comics and Ladycastle comes your way from Boom! Studios. You can find these either at your local library or Hoopla Digital if your library is affiliated with it. If you want to own them outright, hit up your local comic shop or any other retailer out there. As likely you’re going to want to own these if you dig them as much as I do. All of these reads were fun, engaging, and above all absolutely delightful.

Anyway thanks for reading this and comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for reading and I hope you all are doing well out there in the universe. Take care everybody.

The Punisher #218: Frank Castle with War Machine Armor, Oh Yeah

With The Punisher’s entry into Marvel Legacy the hook is Frank Castle now has War Machine armor. After seeing the preview covers, we get to see how The Punisher gets the armor. Now the responses to this have either been excitement or extreme unhappiness. It’s The Punisher and opinions about him are all over the map. Frank Castle is a polarizing figure at the best of times. Every writer has a different take on him with mixed to critically acclaimed results. There’s no ambiguity about Frank Castle, he is who he is and he believes what he believes. Now we all get to find out what direction this series goes in with a new creative team. Let’s see how this goes down as I dive into The Punisher #218.

Weirdly enough I had a feeling I’d want to say something on The Punisher as I saw him in the armor. The concept fascinates me.

The Punisher #218 Marvel Legacy Comics

I appreciate how Matthew Rosenberg started off the issue. It blurs the lines between a serious Frank Castle and a more humorous take on the character. Rosenberg is going for a Frank that conveys every aspect of The Punisher in one way or the other. He picks a bit of each column in the life of Frank Castle and goes from there. You get your over the top mega violence mixed in with Nick Fury explaining why Frank is the way he is to the reader. Balance with this character is not easy to find at all and this issue tries hard to find it and it succeeds. I admittedly have some Punisher blind spots but this I feel strikes a nice balance tone wise.

I also want to mention this as we go further into The Punisher #218, it is totally new reader friendly. Jump right on in and you will be fine.

There’s not much I don’t like here and because of the fact that it is fun. Rosenberg slows it down just enough to set up War Machine and then back to the business at hand. What’s cool is Rosenberg is making a point to say, this is Frank in the War Machine armor, but he’s not War Machine. The back matter that Rosenberg writes makes it clear that Frank is wearing the armor, but War Machine will always be James Rhodes. I will be curious what this story will end up leading to as Frank is now at another level wearing the War Machine armor. Whatever happens though, the stakes are higher than ever and Rosenberg is showing that it’s going to get crazier from here.

We’re going to get look at more of the story of Punisher #218 we get into the art as there are a lot of cool moments here.

The Punisher #218 Marvel Legacy Nick Fury and Frank Castle

Special note: I really would love to try this egg drop soup as I am a fan of a good egg drop soup.

There’s one piece in particular that I want to focus on for starters, the Nick Fury and Frank Castle chat. Guiu Vilanova captured Rosenberg’s words beautifully with the Fury and Castle chat. Every second of that conversation flowed well and felt as dynamic as any action scene. I particularly love the expressions on Fury’s face as it makes sense that he would be more expressive than Castle. Then as the camera so to speak was moving around making the place seem less static and adding energy to the chat. It also helps that Lee Loughridge’s coloring illuminated the piece, the shadows and light gave it such a cool atmosphere. An enlightening chat with excellent execution.

As for the rest of the stuff, this comic looks good without a doubt. As noted from the Fury and Castle chat, the action scenes give another of detail to the wonderful glory that is Frank Castle. Rosenberg’s script shows that in action, that is when The Punisher comes to life. Vilanova’s art captures the action here in brutal and gleeful detail. Especially in the expressions, the only time to really see Frank smile is when he’s in his element, which is when he’s in the midst of battle. It’s interesting to me how that’s handled. Now I also want to mention Cory Petit’s lettering as it really works for this script. The big and loud letters work to the explosive art and colors here. Beautiful work all around.

The Punisher #218 Marvel Legacy Box Smash

If you’re in the midst of binge watching The Punisher on Netflix, I highly recommend grabbing #218 as part of your adventure.

Now this is only the start of what Rosenberg and his team has in store for The Punisher. We know why Frank has the War Machine armor and what he’s going to be up to with it, now we see what happens from here. This issue was a lot of fun but I get the feeling the stakes are going to get higher from here. I like what I see and I can’t wait for what happens next. Good work all around from this new team. I am excited for what’s to come with this series.

 

 

 

 

Captain America #695: Getting Back to Basics in Marvel Legacy

How do you go forward with Captain America in the aftermath of Secret Empire? Well Marvel did it in the best way they could and for the most part it worked. Not saying as much about the event itself, that’s a story for another day, but it did work. Now we get to see Steve Rogers as Captain America re-establishing himself once more. Our Steve Rogers took out Hydra Cap and now he is taking it to the road. Mark Waid was the man who revitalized Captain America back in the 90’s and once more for Heroes Return, now he is back at it again for Legacy. Even going as far as to get Chris Samnee who is perfect for creating that old school vibe. Will lightning strike three times? Let’s find out on this wonderful little journey as I dive into Captain America #695.

It’s Bold, it’s Bright, it’s Colorful, and it’s excitement personified in Captain America #695.

Captain America #695 Cover Marvel Comics

Let’s begin our little adventure here simply, this is good. Captain America #695 is a good comic. I did not envy Mark Waid and Chris Samnee coming onto this series but my goodness were they up to the task at hand. You can see the name of the game was take Captain America back to basics and it works. It’s optimistic in the midst of everything that happened and is going on and you can’t help but smile at Captain America punching Nazis. Okay they’re a group called Rampart and they don’t openly say Nazis but dude, they’re Nazis, Captain America is punching Nazis, that’s awesome. You can’t help but dig that scene.

What’s also cool is the surroundings of the story, Captain America, Nebraska. They have a massive festival every year and you get a glimpse into how many people like the guy. You get classic Captain America fighting the bad guys, showing how good a person he is, and also showing that as Steve Rogers, he’s just a normal guy figuring things out. At his core Steve as Captain America is a hero of the people, so Waid emphasizes that a lot in this story which is wonderful. Waid reminds us that Captain America is someone that can rally the people at his core and that’s what Waid does in this first issue. It all clicks but what about the art? Oh the art deserves a focus of its own.

Captain America #695 Action Sequence

Chris Samnee and the art team on Captain America #695 went above and beyond the call of duty for this one.

Chris Samnee’s art is fluid, fast, crisp, and gorgeously clean. It’s the perfect fit for what Waid is up to with this story. Waid’s story reflects every bit of Captain America you could imagine and in turn Samnee’s art reflects it, heroic Cap, immensely likable Steve Rogers, and inspirational Cap, a lot of these pages could be posters as they are that iconic. It’s also nice to see Steve Rogers being the most Steve Rogers he can be. When he’s a little overwhelmed by a whole day dedicated to him, you can see in the art just how he feels. Samnee draws such a classic Cap that you can’t help but smile ear to ear. Waid hit the artist jackpot with Chris Samnee. Yet another feature for this comic is the coloring, my goodness gracious the coloring.

Matthew Wilson’s colors on this story are eye popping beauty. Outside of any scenes with fire or say intense action, these colors pop off the page. For everyone who’s been wanting a story where everything is clicking on all cylinders, congratulations this is it. The optimism within this comic is unreal. You get bright colors, exciting art, and Joe Caramagna’s letters have an old school, pop off the page energy to them as well. Truthfully, I think I’m as surprised as anyone as to how much this all came together so swimmingly. Great art all around to match Waid’s script the oozes with joy and a genuine love for our humble hero.

Happiness and Optimism rule the day in Captain America #695 and that my friends is a good thing.

Simply put, go buy this comic. If you’re a lapsed fan and want to give our hero another shot, this is it. Waid, Samnee and the rest of the team bring life back to this character and a sense of fun long missed in this series. Try it and see what you think, it may take time for some but for me, I’m a happy camper right now.

By Request: Thoughts on Batman: The Dark Knight III: Master Race

My podcast partner in crime Matt Lune asked me to write a thing on Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race, so here you go buddy. You could also call this DK3 as it is the third one in the Frank Miller Dark Knight saga. To say I was less than optimistic about this was an understatement. Batman: The Dark Knight is a solid read while Batman: The Dark Knight Returns/DK2 is downright strange. Trying to explain DK2 to people is tough as nails as that sucker goes all over the map story wise. That’s not to say anything about Frank Miller’s writing and art too on DK2. Then you get into Lynn Varley’s coloring and it’s a mixed bag of tricks. It’s a strange story so that is what I had to work off of for DK3. Enough with the intro, let’s get this started. On with the show!

Batman: Dark Knight III Master Race Feature Image

Matt, pal, buddy, while this was better than I ever imagined trying to put this whole Batman saga into any coherent structure is a trip.

Batman: Dark Knight III Iron Suit

Put it this way, I’m not going for a formal review structure here. As I was reading it mainly for my own curiosity. I thought this whole thing was going to be bonkers sauce times infinity. After DK2 I was expecting insanity fuel from on high. What I got was entirely different from what I was expecting. Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race feels more like a sequel to Dark Knight than DK2 did. Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello together created a strong read that has its moments of pure insanity yet it all works in the favor of the story. I’m also not going to spoil it, I could but I won’t. This really does need to be experienced at least once, like I said it isn’t a bad read at all. I am as surprised as anyone else.

The simple version of this story is straight up it’s Carrie Kelly taking over for a supposedly dead Bruce Wayne as mentioned in the story. Not a big spoiler to say that yes Old Man Bruce is in play yet what a turn it all takes within the tale. I also dig that it uses the expanded DCU to a more coherent effect here. You get Atom, Flash, Superman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman all used and to good effect too. As for the ultimate villain, freaking Kryptonians from the Bottle City of Kandor. Then you add in the wild card of Superman and Wonder Woman’s daughter Lara and you get a lot of fun players. You even get Commissioner Yindel making a return in here, in which I love that Andy Kubert kept that heavy Miller influence to her design, I like that.

Wow this going way more positively than I ever imagine, but I did like it. I really did.

Batman: Dark Knight III Car Smash

There’s a lot of wild moments in here. I do say Azzarello balances out Miller, which is weird but it works. If this was Miller unfiltered I wonder what this would have been like. The major Miller factor in this is he does a lot of the art for the mini comics in the book. Eduardo Risso does the art for a full Wonder Woman story and John Romita Jr. does the breakdowns for a Green Lantern story that Frank Miller does finishes for. Overall though, the art for the mini comics is mostly Miller and overall it’s not bad. It’s miles ahead of his work on DK2. The main pencils for the story itself by Andy Kubert is amazing throughout, with Klaus Janson doing some excellent inking for it. This is where the art geek out begins.

Special note: The Eduardo Risso story was a lot of fun too, I really liked his take on the Wonder Woman vs. Lara fight. Very cool.

With the Frank Miller bits, sometimes it is a little wonky similar to DK2 at times but it is way better. Good inking and coloring go a long way in his portion of the story. Even in the pieces that Frank Miller does all the art himself it doesn’t look too bad, Alex Sinclair does a lot of the coloring here and Klaus inks Miller on some of the stories and it looks good. Andy Kubert’s art is amazing throughout and Brad Anderson’s coloring, oh my goodness it is gorgeous. Kubert captures the splashy powerful nature of Azzarello and Miller’s script and takes it up a few thousand notches. If anything else, even when the story gets a bit bonkers you will have a good time. Yeah, this is a lot of fun all around.

Yes, Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race is bonkers at times but it embraces it. I can dig that.

I am as surprised as anyone else to say that Batman: The Dark Knight: Master Race was a lot of fun. As I said going into it, I was expecting to dislike it but by the end I really enjoyed myself a lot. Sometimes all you need is simply a book to have a freaking good time with and this book was it. If you’re looking for a book that feels much more like a true sequel to Dark Knight Returns, this is it. Life gave me a good surprise with this one so well done Miller and Azzarello, this was a rollicking good time. Thanks for that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GWL Reborn 9/12/17: That’s the Issue Episode 15 Where We Get Metal

Please excuse the title of this That’s the Issue post, I couldn’t help myself. Yes, That’s the Issue Episode 15 covers many topics. We wanted to address the death of Len Wein as that one hit the same day as we recorded this episode. Matt and I were trying to make sure we got the pronunciation of his last name right. We got it right in the end though. Then we dive into DC’s Metal, Scales and Scoundrels, and more from there. The new format of us chatting comics and becoming the most laid back podcast on the Internet works. Now that we’ve got the lovely intro out of the way let’s get this show on the road. Onwards to episode 15 of That’s the Issue! It’s only going to keep getting better from here.

Episode #15 Featured That's the Issue

Funny aside for this episode of That’s the Issue but it really is easy to embed Soundcloud podcasts on WordPress.

As always feel free to fire Matt and I a line on either our personal twitter handles or on the handle for the show. Send us questions too at thatstheissue@gmail.com or even on our twitter handles. We are always open to feedback and answering a question or two. After the last episode where Matt and I killed our filters we were especially curious as to what people were saying. Seems like people enjoy Matt and I just chatting with each other and it has helped us out a lot. We may have to make this “Most Laid Back Podcast on The Internet” a tagline at this point. I know I am having a lot more fun with doing this podcast as Matt and I have easy chemistry on this show. It’s overall nothing but fun.

Now as always we are one of the easiest podcasts to find on the Internet. You can find us on Soundcloud, Stitcher, Podbean and even on iTunes! Feel free to leave us a review on iTunes too as it does help more people to discover our humble little show. Thanks for listening and being part of the That’s the Issue universe.

 

The Great Social Media Battle of 2016: Marvel vs. DC Movies

DC Marvel Social Media Logos

Copyright: Logos from Marvel and DC Comics

Social Media was a unique place in 2016 within pop culture. There are many factors to dive into but one stood out, Marvel vs. DC Movies. You had MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) represented by Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange, both for the most part getting positive marks. With the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) you had Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad getting decidedly mixed reviews. Now the battleground with MCU and DCEU gets interesting with social media comes into play. We had an MCU backlash happen within the social media landscape and a battle with DCEU over their content as well. With both MCU and DCEU fans in a divisive and comical at points battle online, I’m going to explore this a bit. So let’s dive into the Great Social Media Battle of 2016, MCU vs. DCEU.

Let the Social Media Exploration Begin!

Now I debated writing a column like this for ages. You could see me on my own twitter debating this idea. Yet it’s been in me for months now to write about this. Possibly because I seem to be a rare voice of calm in the midst of the social media battles. What was so frustrating about the MCU and DCEU battles is these arguments would borderline on the ridiculous. Take note of this, the petition against Rotten Tomatoes. People got mad about Rotten Tomatoes and how MCU films scored higher than DCEU films. Among the many arguments, the Rotten Tomatoes battle on social media bordered on the hilarious. Simple version, people thought Disney/Marvel bought Critics to give Marvel movies good reviews and DC films bad ones. Yes, a petition was started over this and it is as silly as it sounds.

Now in my own personal perspective, I enjoyed the films of the MCU and DCEU alike. None of them were perfect but I had a good time at the theater watching them and ultimately that’s what counts. Same with other viewers who liked the films. Yet some, a mighty battle was in full swing over which company had the superior films. Arguments were varied from thoughtful to downright insane arguments. Usually, it boils down to if you like or dislike a film but some people then get into full-blown hysterics and war begins. Many of you out there reading this who are on any kind of social media, you have seen the threads and are likely getting flashbacks. I wasn’t immune to it either as everyone got dragged into these threads at one point.

From these Social Media arguments on MCU vs. DCEU, It boiled to another conversation, tone.

Now another argument that initiated a lot of quirky situations is the tone of the MCU vs. DCEU. MCU trends towards a lighter tone, brighter costumes, and overall a friendly atmosphere for the viewership. Now for DCEU it has trended darker with a more intense tone to the films. Yet a lot of people weren’t happy with the darker tone. Look at the MCU, they have a gameplan and they know where they’re going to go. DCEU saw the films making money, but not as much as Warner Bros. would have liked, especially with Batman v Superman. Now going forward DC is working towards a lighter tone in their films, as noted with Geoff Johns stating as much. Now the DCEU is forming a game plan and we’ll see how Wonder Woman and Justice League are received next year.

2016 was a divisive year on many fronts, so what does 2017 hold?

Now MCU wise we have Spider-Man: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2, and Thor: Ragnarok hitting in 2017. DCEU has their powerhouse lineup and Marvel has a powerful lineup too. Next year is going to be stacked and I can imagine that the arguments will be a wild ride come 2017. We’ll see what the lighter tone of DCEU will be and what will happen with that. With the MCU we’ll get to see if they can keep the money train rolling on into 2017. The fans on social media will keep the fire and hype for these movies throughout the year, good or bad.

Many arguments will be held over the coming months as the MCU and DCEU make announcements and as the films are released.  2016 was a weird year on many fronts. If you’re wondering, no one won the Marvel vs. DC argument with the films. At the end of it all, it’s all about what you like. There’s no big conspiracy from either Disney or Warner Bros. with these films and the critics. People like what they like and critics are like anyone else, they like what they like. A good or bad movie is in the eye of the person watching it. If someone likes or hates something, no massive tweet storm, facebook post, or whatever else, it won’t steer them to your way of thinking. It may give them a new perspective but won’t change their mind entirely.

No one ever wins in an Internet battle, it just gets weirder and more annoying as it goes along.

The arguments on social media with Marvel vs. DC movies will keep going and evolve in many strange directions. We won’t know the full scope of a DCEU tonal change until Justice League and maybe somewhat into Wonder Woman. Just as Marvel will have to keep on keeping on and we’ll see how things go for them in the new year.

If you take anything away from this, let people like what they like. In my own case, I want both the MCU and DCEU to have a great 2017 ahead. If you like both, that’s awesome and the best way to be in my opinion. If you prefer MCU over DCEU, that’s okay too just don’t be a jerk to the fans who prefer the DCEU. Same goes for the DCEU fans, don’t be jerks to the MCU fans, be nice to another in 2017 as 2016 has been weird enough.

Just be excellent to one another my friends.

It’s interesting how this became much more thoughtful as I wrote it. At this stage though I am tired of the battleground and want some kind of unity in this crazy universe. For 2017 give me this Internet, quit it. You can have debates about the films of the MCU and DCEU without it becoming a mega battle. Enjoy what films you want to enjoy and may 2017 be one with less ridiculous Internet fights.