Wes Reads Extreme: Bloodpool #1: Surprise Youngblood Spinoff!

In yet another comic from my collection I have never read, welcome to the Youngblood spinoff Bloodpool #1. All I initially knew of this comic was it was where Pat Lee got his start as a penciler and as a colorist too. Yes, that Pat Lee of Dreamwave Productions fame and the entire history that comes with it. I had no idea until reading it that this was a spinoff of Youngblood. Heck, I had no idea who the writer even was! Talk about your blind readthrough. Yet as I read it I found myself pleasantly surprised and also not entirely shocked as to what I got myself into. You’ll see what I mean as you read this piece. Let’s dive into this deep cut of the 90’s with Bloodpool #1. This is either going to be a magical experience or just a weird one, your mileage may vary.

Note the “your mileage may vary” bit at the start. It’s Youngblood related so already Bloodpool fits that phrase.

Bloodpool #1 Youngblood Pat Lee Extreme Studios

Weirdly enough I grew up in the 90’s but my experience with Extreme Studios is minimal at best. At the time of the rise of these studios and the 90’s comic boom and then bust, I was almost out of comics. Bloodpool was a series that slipped past me entirely, along with most of the Extreme Studios output. Bloodpool came out in August of 1995 so it is knee deep in 90’s land with all it entails. It focuses around the Youngblood training program to set up the next members of the team, until it all ends suddenly. Simple version, an event called Extreme Sacrifice happened and changed the entire framework of the program. Now you have all these young heroes set loose on the world and that’s the general idea of the story.

Now as for characters and how the story is given to us, that’s a different case entirely. Jo Duffy had a tall order back then to make this work and in some cases, it kind of does.  Now before you all go crazy here, I’m not saying it is perfect by any means. Gosh, not even the best thing I’ve read but I can own up to being entertained by it at certain points. Main reason why I had fun with it, Bloodpool doesn’t take itself that seriously. Duffy made me laugh a couple times as much as the actual structure of the story was weird, at least it was amusing.  I give props to someone making a seemingly strange crossover story work as well at does here.

Bloodpool #1 Liefeld Cover Youngblood Image Extreme

Yes this is the Rob Liefeld alternate cover. This is part of the Youngblood Universe so he did create this as part of the larger franchise. So here you go, Liefeld cover.

The dialogue in this is probably the saving grace of Bloodpool. As once it gets into Youngblood minutia it gets bogged down fast.

There’s not even a focal point character to focus your attention on. That camera floats around every which way as this was Pat Lee’s first story so the storytelling gets messy at times. Part of me wishes I could find critical thoughts on this from way back when. If my 2017 mind is having trouble figuring it out, I can only imagine what people at the time thought. Outside of Rubble, I could barely figure out any names of the characters until I went on Wikipedia. Oh yes there are names but they sure don’t stick with you that’s for sure. It’s a weird script to say the least.

I felt like Duffy had to shove in a ton of plot points and still try and make a new team have some impact. There’s also the possibility that it was the 90’s and sometimes certain 90’s books have a way of trying to tell too much at once. Bloodpool doesn’t have any cohesive feel to it until they leave the base, then it makes a little more sense. Of course as I learned from the back matter, Jo Duffy was writing Glory at the time which means there are Glory plot points too. I respect a cohesive universe but I am impressed to a degree that Duffy was able to get that much into one issue. There’s a level of respect to be had for that.

Bloodpool #1 Pat Lee Rubble Image Comics Extreme Youngblood

Even for the Youngblood Universe, Bloodpool is a little crazy. It’s kind of stupid, makes little sense, yet it’s fun in a weird way.

Now I know at least a few people reading this are salivating at what I’ll say about Pat Lee’s art here. There’s a level of nostalgia for me as one comic I liked at one point was Dark Minds. Pat Lee’s art had that anime aesthetic and it was my absolute jam at one point. Of course as this is early Pat Lee, it’s a different ball game. The characters that look best are Rubble, Shaft at times, and then the anatomy goes all over the place from there. No one is safe in the wonky anatomy adventures as male or female, the bodies are tilting this way and that at many points. I mean I know I’m being snarky to a point at an artist with his first gig, but it is Pat Lee so I don’t feel that bad.

Special note: If you’re not familiar with the history of Pat Lee and how he handled Dreamwave Productions, oh you’re in for one treat of a Google search.

Yes you all get to learn that I was once a big Pat Lee fan, which is part of why I wanted to read this in the first place. One compliment I will give, the coloring looked good so that’s a plus. Sheer curiosity though lead me to check out a comic I would not have looked twice at. Jo Duffy had some good dialogue but the story made little sense. Crazy part is that there’s four issues and a special out there for Bloodpool. Will I read more? Maybe if I find the rest of the series for cheap. Unless some lunatic wants to donate me issues of Bloodpool they have laying around.

Bloodpool #4 Pat Lee Image Comics Extreme Youngblood

Note: yes I know this is from #4 but I kind of wanted to give you all an extra idea of some of the oddball anatomy here. It’s a weird ride my friends.

I will totally take donations of Bloodpool though if anyone really wants to get rid of some random mid 90’s comics.

I mean the story ends pretty well as the team is now out on their own and doing their thing. Not sure how this will go from here but if the comic had even a tiny bit more of a connection I’d likely be curious for more. It’s insane and makes little sense at points but it can be funny so maybe there could be more down the line for me. There’s even a trade paperback out there for it that’s out of print. I guess Extreme Studios/Image Comics had big plans for Bloodpool at one point, who knew right? I sure didn’t until I read this.

Now do I recommend you all go hunt Bloodpool down? Nah, but hey if you are morbidly curious you will find it for cheap in any back issue bin across the land. This is another adventure into my comic collection and weird comics that I somehow haven’t read. Thanks for reading and hopefully enjoying this strange adventure. Take care and remember, yes the 90’s had a lot of comics with blood in the title. So many comics with blood in the title. Have a good one.

If you are seriously curious about owning Bloodpool for yourself I am an affiliate of mycomicshop.com so you can find it here.

 

 

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.

 

Scales and Scoundrels #1: My Heart for a Bit of Treasure

My goodness, Scales and Scoundrels is a clever comic. From the co-creator of Shirtless Bear-Fighter, Sebastian Girner and Galaad, Scales and Scoundrels is a treat. Now considering I love Shirtless Bear-Fighter, Scales and Scoundrels was likely to be a winner for me. Yet to be honest as I saw this comic, I had no idea who was working on it. Not a clue at all as to who the creative team was. When I saw the cover and saw the team I did a happy dance to the comic store register. I knew without a doubt that this was going to be a comic straight up my alley. Of course as I am want to do, I like playing my hand too early. Yet there is so much more to explore with Scales and Scoundrels. Join me on this delightful fantasy adventure and learn more about this new series.

Scales and Scoundrels #1 Cover

Oh and the cover is also ridiculously cool. Note the cool looking dragon too.

Just know now before anything else, you want Scales and Scoundrels in your life. You need this comic in your life. Trust me.

Scales and Scoundrels #1 Cool City Image Comics

Isn’t this just gorgeous? I love it.

One thing I learned from Shirtless Bear-Fighter is Girner is someone not afraid to cut loose on humor. Scales and Scoundrels has that in spades but there is a definite heart to this comic developing at light speed. Before you even learn her name, Luvander is shown as a strong and delightful character. She’s a great fighter, mystical, and knows what she wants out of life. Luvander is going to be someone fun to get to know as we go through this series. You don’t mess with her gold and if you come after her, you’re going to regret it immediately. There is more though as within the first issue you can see a compelling cast forming before your very eyes.

See I love world building and I love the possibilities each world of a new series could give me, Scales and Scoundrels has that in spades. Within one issue you’re introduced to an entire town of possible characters to work with, a villain, a traveling party, and it all flows together with ease. That’s a tough thing to do but Girner does it. Introducing multiple new characters, giving all of them a unique personality and giving life to our main protagonist in the process, that’s ambitious and I like it. Why the premise of our fantasy world works though is she’s always at the forefront. There’s even something called the Urden in play, I’m officially curious about that. I cannot wait to know more about the Urden.

Special note: The card game they were playing in the Tavern at the beginning of Scales and Scoundrels looks fun. I want to play that game.

Scales and Scoundrels Dragon's Horde

This game really and I mean really looks like fun.

The name of the game is Dragon’s Horde and yeah, I now need this to exist. Please and thank you.

Another piece that surprised me about this comic is Galaad’s artwork. How in the world had I never heard of Galaad until this series? How is that even possible? Scales and Scoundrel’s world building in the writing is one thing, but what Girner concocted with Galaad’s art is another. You see large cities for at least this part of the series for Luvander to roam in, which gives the series a sense of scale. Even more delightful is the life Galaad gives each of the characters. From Luvander herself with a winning smile and determination like no other, to the smallest character in the background, this series has energy. It also has a cool color palette, it’s bright but also dream like, I love the look it has.

What caught my eye in particular is there’s a double page spread that gives us a glimpse into Luvander’s childhood. You have this great eye popping bit from Jeff Powell’s lettering, showing how these words echo in her mind. You get just enough of a hint of things to come in each aspect of Galaad’s art and what Girner gave him in the script, it’s great work. A great hint of what’s to come while still not giving us everything, yet. Second part that caught my eye is the fight scenes in this comic are excellent. Let me say this for those of you out there who give this a chance, you will never be bored reading this. Without a doubt, Scales and Scoundrels has endless excitement within each page.

Oh I know this is probably the most hyper positive piece of mine possibly ever but you know, Scales and Scoundrels rocks darn it.

You could already tell from the first paragraph that I like this comic. It’s a me kind of comic. Scales and Scoundrels is wonderful and I highly recommend giving it a go. Get it, love it, have fun, and enjoy the glorious ride. You’ll be craving more by the last page. Go forth and embrace some fun fantasy goodness.

 

 

 

The Walking Dead: Processing the Aftermath of Negan’s Vampire Bat

Negan Walking Dead Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Copyright: AMC Networks

The season premiere of The Walking Dead Season Seven has come and gone. After a long Spring and Summer, we finally know who felt the wrath of Negan’s Barbed Wire Bat Lucille. Fitting though that it was called Negan’s Vampire Bat in the premiere, hence the title of this article. I wrote an article back when The Walking Dead had that brutal cliffhanger and this is my follow-up to it. As reactions to the cliffhanger ending were divisive, the aftermath of the premiere is going the same way. Instead of a generic recap of the episode, let’s process the season premiere together. I need to process the season premiere as much as you all do. On with the show as we all process the aftermath of The Walking Dead season premiere. That Vampire Bat did a number on us all.

Yes if you haven’t seen the Season Premiere of The Walking Dead, there are spoilers. So many spoilers.

If you didn’t see the big bold letters, yes I am spoiling things so if you haven’t turned away now, it’s your own fault at this point. So are we good? Okay cool.

To reveal who died right off the bat, Abraham and Glenn were the casualties. Abraham was someone loosely expected to die in many online articles and Glenn we were prepared for. Glenn died in the comics under Negan’s hand and it was even more brutal than the comics. Now the way both deaths were handled, that’s where things get weird. For one they didn’t reveal the deaths of Abraham and Glenn right away. To see the deaths you were already expecting to happen, you sat through two commercial breaks. I’m okay with set up but I got to the point where I was saying, “C’mon, get on with it already!” before the deaths were revealed. Both deaths were done well, brutal, but done well. Seeing it in a comic is one thing but on a TV show, that’s a whole new dimension. That was some tough television to watch.

That Walking Dead Episode was tough to watch at points, seriously.

As TV was The Walking Dead season premiere bad? It wasn’t bad TV in my opinion because of the fact that the entire time I was engaged, especially after the reveal. Once I knew who died I was invested in the story more. A lot of the episode was driven by Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, he had to do the heavy lifting. Most everyone else was reacting to him and it worked. Jeffrey Dean Morgan has always been a good actor but he took it to the next level as Negan. Everyone else in the show did a great job in reacting to the dark powerhouse that is Negan. This was pure setup for the season to come and it set up a lot of questions which is a good thing.

I’m optimistic about the season to come for The Walking Dead but they better not pull a stunt like that cliffhanger again. I completely understand why they did the cliffhanger but they should have done that ending at the end of the Season Six finale. One reason being that Negan is such a big deal villain that to set up such a cliffhanger like that was unnecessary.  The show was already renewed and even now it is renewed for Season Eight. Walking Dead doesn’t need stunts at this point, tell your stories, make them good and make them count. The Walking Dead gets fans talking and that’s good but shock value can only go so much further with this series.

Don’t Focus on Shock Value and Make Great TV, That’s all you need.

This was a good start to the season for all intents and purposes. No matter what, the ratings are going to be huge and people are going to watch. Even if The Walking Dead loses viewers, it will take a long time for the show to take any kind of hit from it. Negan set the series off into a daring and dark new direction with two characters already down for the count. Time to see if the rest of Season Seven lives up to the promise of the powerful and unforgettable season premiere.

 

 

Wes Reads Spawn #258-260: Wow Spawn is Off the Rails in a Good Way

Spawn #258 Cover

Spawn and myself have never quite connected over the years. Oh sure I liked the toys at one point, designs of the characters, even saw the movie, never could quite connect with the character. I’d seen snippets of Spawn over the years yet I wasn’t compelled to buy the series. Then I heard that Erik Larsen most notably of Savage Dragon fame was going to be working on the series with Spawn creator Todd McFarlane. From what I know Spawn has changed hosts from Al Simmons at one point but now he is back. That’s what I know and I was curious how Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen were going to get new readers in. This is a classic situation of you barely need to know a thing. Al Simmons is Spawn, he’s going to Hell to save his wife from Satan, and that’s all you need. Larsen going off the rails with demon designs in Hell and Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen getting to, in a sense, reestablish the character of Spawn. These three issues cover Spawn entering Hell and the first two parts of the Satan Saga Wars. It is weird to be someone who has no connection to Spawn reading this. Yet here I am reading Spawn for the first time and focusing on the character, story line, and the world that he inhabits. You’re curious to hear what I think and I’m curious to start my adventure into to Hell. Read on as you see my perspective into Spawn #258-260!

What struck me here was the fact that #258 has only minimal writing in it. You get the intro and the ending with updates in between. Now you’re wondering why there would be updates. The entire issue is a massive fight scene of Al Simmons as Spawn fighting off the hordes of Hell. Hey if you’re going to have Erik Larsen start on a comic why not let him cut loose with demons right? The entire issue feels like two old friends getting together and having a blast with tons of action. We’re talking double page spreads, splash pages, and lots of great panel to panel storytelling. There’s a craft to the silent story and when done right it can be awesome. The double page spreads in the issue are gorgeous and your eyes will be staring in awe of all the little details and craziness within. #258 is an example of a mostly wordless story done right. McFarlane and Larsen using the beginning and end of the issue to set up the Satan Saga Wars. It was effective and a lot of fun. Not the easiest way to introduce a comic to a potential new reader but at the same time it gives so much action and excitement that it could get someone wanting more. It’s interesting to see a silent story being a lead in for a major arc and the start of a new artist on a book. Yet it worked, so bravo on that front.

Spawn #258 Double Page Spread

Now for #259 and #260, now we are in the Satan Saga Wars proper. Now this is where the McFarlane and Larsen run starts to kick in. McFarlane throughout the two parts fills you in on everything you need to know about Al Simmons, his death, his time as Spawn, and his relationship with his wife. It feels organic as you read forward in the two parts. You have Satan angry about Spawn in Hell and continuing to throw everything and the kitchen sink to go after him. The best part about this is there is an excellent sense of pacing. It’s a fast paced action adventure movie set in Hell with endless amounts of dark imagination. Remember when I said that this is reestablishing the character of Spawn? This is exactly what McFarlane and Larsen are doing here. I don’t know what happened to the power meter that used to be there, not a big deal though at all. It’s even cooler to see that McFarlane and Larsen encouraged you to check out the older issues if you wanted details on what happened that got us to the point too. Nicely done. If I was reviewing this issue to issue it would be tough as nails, yet the way I’m getting to read it works for me. In reading the first two parts in a row, I like where this is going and McFarlane and Larsen are cutting loose as a team.

I talked a lot about Larsen’s art in the #258 part of this but #259 and #260 are more of the same. It’s a lot of great background work, cool demon designs, and McFarlane is inking over Larsen’s art giving it a slick look and working well with Larsen’s pencils. I do have an appreciation for Larsen’s work from Savage Dragon but his Spawn stuff with this inking is an entirely new experience and I like it. Still Larsen but with a new feel. It doesn’t hurt that the coloring on this is also strong throughout, bright reds, fire, and fury, and FCO Plascenscia knocks it out of the park throughout all the issues. I’m impressed by what I see here, every single page from writing and art begs to be looked at in detail, nothing is skimped here. The writing is exciting and the art matches this renewed level of excitement. Just rocking comic book energy and I can’t help but dig it.

Spawn #260 Double Page Spread

That’s me reading Spawn #258-260 and you know, I want to read more. Never thought in a million years I would want to be a regular Spawn reader but here we are. I’m interested and want to see where Todd McFarlane and Erik Larsen take Spawn from here. Heck I even want to give Savage Dragon another go. For me these three issues of Spawn gave me a ton of entertainment and good times, and Spawn worked on that level for me. If you are curious for yourselves, try out Spawn #258-260 for yourself and see what you think. McFarlane and Larsen are having a blast on this comic and it shows. I can’t wait to see what the next two parts of the Satan Saga Wars hold. Two old friends coming together to make a comic the best it can be, I like that.

You can find Spawn #258-260 at your local comic store or at Comixology for #258, #259, and #260 if you don’t have a local store near you.