Review: MeSseD Comic

MeSsed

Creator/Writer: Jay B. Kalagayan

Artist(s): Geof Raker

Logo Design: Geoff Raker

I have had the awesome opportunity to read Cincinnati-based Jay B. Kalagayan’s MeSsed comic, which takes place in the mean sewers of the public utility: the Metropolitan Sewer System or MSD.

The comic centers around filter, or sewer worker, Lilliput who has to brave the mean sewers of the MSD to keep the effluent, or waste, flowing. When I read the file in the comic which states that Lilliput’s “fellow sewer workers” whine, I was reminded by what podcaster and radio host Ken Coleman said about “the unfortunate reality” being “that 70% of Americans aren’t satisfied with their current work situation.” The same could definitely be said for most of the filters who work for the MSD but, not Lilliput who is described to be “tough, smart and adaptable.”

Lilliput is seen as dedicated to her mission to keep the waste clean by any means necessary. An example of this is in the Volume One story “Choke”,  when she fights a creature that was clogging the sewer system.

We also learn that she is an orphan and also described to “seek familial bonds.” We see this several times throughout the comic with her interactions with her pet rat or “partner-in-slime,” Akka who is a very dependable as her master and is the closest thing to family Lilliput has. In the MeSsed Volume Two story Messenger, Akka goes through hell and back to send help for Lilliput by forging an alliance with a centipede name Footsie, while going toward a deadly swarm of centipedes.

Another instance where MesSed goes into depth about Lilliput being an orphan is an conversation with an alligator hatchling name Bekka.  Bekka was cast off from the Allicroc tribe, a tribe of alligators living in the sewer, due to not being wanted by their chief. Bekka asks Lilliput what is like being orphaned and the sewer work tells her that it is tough but she gives it a positive spin on it by saying that “amongst the flotsam jetsam, you get to choose your family. Pick new friends, siblings, parents.” This shows that despite working in the sewer and even being orphaned, Lilliput has a very sunny disposition.

While reading MeSsed, I was introduced to a strange world, but a world that is similar to our own. Like our world, the world of the MSD has groups like the filters (workers, like our heroine Lilliput, who keep the effluent flowing), Residents of the Roots (homless, bunker people, and others), Allicroc tribe, centipedes, and rats. The Allicroc tribe has a peace treaty of sorts with the MSD. In addition, Bekka was given to MSD as a liaison to further keep the peace between them and the public utility.

MeSsed has an ensemble of characters. The aforementioned Lilliput and her pet Akka are the dynamic duo in this comic. Next is Fat Mucker, the MSD manager of operations. She is described by Lilliput to be a “crazy aunt,” Fat Mucker also composes the files or reports at the end of each issue.  Another character (a favorite of mine) is Pilty, an eccentric inventor who lives in the sewers and creates some gadgets for Lilliput and other MSD workers. In the Volume Two comic “Echoes,” Pilty invents a device called an “echolo” which helps sewer workers see in the dark with the use of sound. he also seen as not being afraid of Fat Mucket by being blunt about the timeliness of her inventions which the MSD manager demands. The character reminds of “Q” from the James Bond movies; so she’s like a “Q” who operates in the sewers. Another character is Sandshell who is another filter and Kidneyshell, who is the MSD Treatment Manager.

If you want to read something unique, unorthodox,  or out of the box, this is the comic to read. It doesn’t take place in a typical city or town, a planet in another galaxy, a certain past, a apocalyptic time, or whenever or wherever. It takes place in a sewer of all places. A smelly and dangerous sewer where people actually live, monsters clog up the system, and alligators talk. That’s the world of MeSsed.

 

If you also like black and white art, that this is definitely the comic worth reading. The gritty black and white art done by Dylan Speeg and Clint Basinger brings out some noir vibes. It also evokes the feelings of working in the sewers all the while the character of Lilliput brings out her colorful personality. This is the comic’s yin and yang and it goes perfectly together.

Kalagayan created a story about a young woman who is just going through life working in a sewer but also making it her purpose (sometimes risking her own life) to keep the water flowing. Lilliput to the MSD sewer system is like Superman to Metropolis or if you want to go another route, Lilliput to the MSD sewer system is like Clark Kent to the Daily Planet.  After all, Lilliput is both an employee and guardian of the MSD sewer system.  

And to me, this comic represents that, like Lilliput, we can make the best of anything, even in the most stinkiest(which I knew the MSD sewer system is) of situations. It is possible that Kalagayan might have unwittingly wrote an affirmation in the form of a comic book about a young orphaned woman who, if she wanted to, could have played victim and blame the world for her misfortune. But that young woman, in my opinion, is living her best life by adhering to her mission. And I find that awesome and heroic.

I am looking forward to reading more MesSed and see how Lilliput continues to grow and how she tackles her challenges in the sewer and in her life. After all, this comic reminds me that life is like the sewer, we need to be there to keep the effluent flowing so that nothing gets clogged up in the chokes.

If you want to purchase MesSed comics or trade paperbacks, or just learn more about the comics, you can go to the website www.messedcomics.com or your can also follow the comic on twitter @MeSseDComics.

 

-Brian of Earth-16

Coronavirus: A Time to Get Creative

The news of the Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has spread almost as quickly as the virus itself. When it was announced that the virus was becoming a pandemic, I felt a tremendous amount of stress, anger, and anxiety. I knew that this virus was going to affect almost every industry or sector on the planet. Sports, education, entertainment, retail, construction, the list goes on. I knew that it would definitely affect the comic book industry, an industry I have grown up with and love.

Several comic book conventions, especially where the Coronavirus is running rampant, had to be postponed to later dates. I have to expect the possibility of Phoenix Fan Fusion  (a comic book and entertainment convention I attend every year around Memorial Day weekend) being cancelled. I am hoping that it doesn’t get cancelled since I enjoy attending that convention but, if it is a way to keep people safe and healthy, then it’s necessary. In addition, several comic book shops may face closure due to the decline in sales.

As news of comic book conventions being cancelled, sporting events being played in empty arenas, employment being affected, and people getting infected or dying, all sorts of questions flooded my mind. What was going to happen in the next couple weeks? Months? Will things be the way they were before this stupid virus made its unwanted presence known? Then I realized that this is not a time to be fearful or sad. It is a time to learn some new things. It is a time to be sharp both physically and mentally. It is time to get right with our Maker. It is a time to be respectful toward one another. It is a time to get creative.

During the first week of quarantine, I stayed home to work remotely. After work ended, I started to devote my time to reading more about the construction behind the comic book. In addition, I also opened a new Twitch account where I interact with people, play video games, and promote by podcast the Earth-16 Comics Wire.

I was inspired by Eric Stephenson, the publisher from Image Comics, that I need to do my part to help the comic book industry. Just today, I donated money to a campaign aimed at helping comic book retailers during these times. You can find the campaign by clicking this link.  I also decided to dedicate my time (as I mentioned before) in learning about comic books and reading some awesome comics. Furthermore, I am planning on podcasting more and using my Twitch to spread positive vibes for not only the comic book industry but for everyone else. And there will be more podcast segments to come in the future.

As sad, jacked up, and crazy these times are, I want all of you reading this to remember that we can beat this thing. We have creativity, faith, love, and grit. And also, do not let what the news media says about this virus deter you from doing what you love.

As Superman told the trouble kid in Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman, “You’re much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.”

And as Superman always says: let’s dream of a better tomorrow!

-Brian from Earth-16

Review: The Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn

I just saw The Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn, or simply Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey today. And I have to say that, I liked the film. Maybe I am just saying this out of bias because I am a fan of Batman and Harley Quinn is one of my favorite villains/anti-heroes. But there it is. I liked the film. It was fun and enjoyable.

Margot Robbie (Wolf of Wall Street), reprises her role as Harley Quinn (from the Suicide Squad), And in this film, there were a lot of dark but funny jokes. Plenty of smashing. A lot of campy scenes. Several scenes where the crime lord loses his mind every time his plans go awry.  I mean, it was really a fun movie.

Some people might have seen this film as a female empowerment propaganda being shoved down our throats. But what I have seen with this film is nothing new. There have been many depictions of Harley Quinn becoming her own person and standing up the the Joker, the man she fell in love with and who later on bullied her. This story has been seen in various comic books and there was an episode in Batman: The Animated Series where Harley broke away from the Joker and started teaming with Poison Ivy. Even the adult cartoon, Harley Quinn, voiced by Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) elludes into Harley declaring her independence from the Joker despite trying to get a spot on the Legion of Doom.

In this film however, Harley Quinn is not the only one struggling to break away from the chains of her past. First, we have the Black Canary, Dinah Lance, played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell, who is trying to break away from the dangerous yet immature, and funny, antagonist crime lord, Black Mask (played by Ewan McGreggor, who also played the young version of the Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. Next, we have Helena Bertinelli, the Huntress, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Plilgrim Saves the World) who seems to be locked by her own vengeance against the people who murdered her family. Then we have Renee Montoya, played by Rosie Perez (White Men Can’t Jump, Pineapple Express) who is a brilliant cop that is bitter with her treatment at the Gothan City Police Department due to her partner taking all the credit for her hard work. Last but not least, we have Cassandra Cain, played by the young actress Ella Jay Basco, is trying to break away from a life stricken by poverty and a dysfunctional foster family. So, to me, the overall theme of Harley Quinn was breaking away. And this is what makes Harley relatable to all of us.

Some of us had to break away from the things in our life we knew held us back. For some people, it was someone they loved. Or for some people, it is that job that sucks the life out of them. Whatever is or was, something in our lives held us back and like Harley, we begin to question if we really could make it out on our own without that something anchoring us. To Harley, Joker was a sense of protection and security but as Benjamin Franklin once warned: those who desire security over freedom, deserve neither. Harley learned that the moment she decided that she was going to declare her independence from Joker. And that is one of the things I admire about her.

I will admit, there were times where the film went back and forth due to Harley’s narrating but at the same time, that was what made it fun. Again, I enjoyed the film and to me, Margot Robbie is Harley Quinn, without question.

I definitely would recommend anyone give this film a watch and yeah, maybe there are some themes in it, but in the end, its still a fun film and it has Harley Quinn in it. Enough said.

 

-Brian From Earth-16

 

My Letter to the Internet Wrestling Community

Dear Internet Wrestling Community,

Like you, I am a huge wrestling fan as much as I am a huge comic book fan. I think pro-wrestling is like a larger-than-life comic book. And I do admire the characters (heroes, villains, anti-heroes alike). After all, we do have qualities we like about them and then there are some qualities we don’t like about them. That is what I want to write to you about.

You are diehard fans of the World Wrestling Entertainment or the All Elite Wrestling product Or maybe there are other organizations you are fans of. I digress. Anyway, I wanted to bring up how you comment on other wrestlers or performers. More specifically, how you criticize certain wrestlers.

You go on the internet dirt sheets and make a comment about someone like John Cena having a limited moveset. Or you go on Youtube and talk smack about Charlotte Flair getting opportunity and opportunity because of her father being Ric Flair. Or how you make comments about Roman Riegns being the next Cena (And ceased when it was revealed he had Leukemia). I can go on.

But, I can also confess. I too did those same exact things you do on the dirt sheets and other social media. But I’ve stopped and it is because, I have realized that it is a waste of my energy and I would feel bad after the fact.

Now, dear wrestling fan, you don’t have to continue reading this post and you can keep doing what you’re doing. But I am writing this because I am letting you know that making these comments towards WWE or other wrestling performers not only dampens my energy, that I could use towards something else, but it can hurt others. If you are reading at this point, then awesome, because I need you to read this.

Do you realize how many days in the year an average performer spends performing in front of large crowds? Do you know that they rarely spend quality time with loved ones like their parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, wives, husbands or children? And do you know how MUCH of a toll that takes on someone? I am asking you, and myself also, to be put in the shoes of a pro-wrestling superstar.

You’re making all this money but at the same time, the travel, the bumps, the sweat, the tears, the wrestling politics are taking a toll. You’re dealing with people asking you for an autograph while you are at the gym or eating a shwarma at a local joint. And worse, your are wondering how your wife or husband is doing or if your children are okay. How do you think a performer would feel about all of that while on top of that, you go on the internet and typing up derogatory comments about him or her?

As of this writing, I am no longer a part of the Internet Wrestling Community. I am just a regular wrestling fan. Pro-wrestling is up there with comic books, anime, and Star Wars as a favorite past time. I have no right to criticize a pro-wrestler because I do not know what it takes to be one. And I probably never will. And that’s okay.

Here’s my advice for the next time you think about negatively commenting on a performer (whether he or she be a WWE or AEW or whatever superstar): Don’t do it. Regardless of how you may feel about that performer.

Instead, if you don’t like what you see on WWE, AEW, Impact or whatever, change the channel. Or turn off the TV or the laptop. Go outside. Ask that special someone out on a date. Go see a movie. Go get an ice-cream. Go to the local school in your area to improve on a skill for that job you always wanted to do. If you have children, take them to Chuck E. Cheese or someplace fun like Disney World. Or go to a ball game. Or do what I do: attend comic cons (if you like comics) or start a podcast on the thing you are most (positively) passionate about.

Don’t go around spewing negativity. Wrestlers, managers, authority figures, producers, referees, announcers, and owners are human. Roman Reigns was diagnosed with Leukemia. Nia Jax struggled with being body shammed. Shawn Michaels had to fight drug addiction. Bret Hart had to deal with depression after the Montral Screwjob and the death of his brother Owen Hart. They are just like us. They eat, sleep, crap, repeat. The only thing that may be different from us is the size of their paycheck. That’s it.

So I hope that this wisdom I bequeath to you serves you well. Do what you want with it. But for me, I am going to enjoy the stuff about the product that makes me happy. And I am going to do things that excite me and be with people who love and uplift me. If I see something I don’t like, it’s time to do something else. I will be building a better life and legacy for myself.

So, let’s enjoy the lives we have, or improve them, and lets do what makes us happy.

Stay Ever So Awesome

Brian From Earth16

Review: Undiscovered Country

Undiscovered County

Written by Scott Synder and Charles Soule

Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Daniele Orlandini

Coloring by Matt Wilson

Lettering by Crank!

Publisher: Image Comics

When Undiscovered Country was announced during the fall of 2019, I knew I had to read this comic. After all, it is written by two of my favorite writers, Scott Synder (Batman, Dark Nights Metal) and Charles Soule (Star Wars and Darth Vader). And it is a story about my country and my home, the United States of America. So, how could I pass this up?

The story is about a United States from a future not too far from our present. A United States that has closed off its borders to the entire world. In addition, this is also a story about humanity on the brink of extinction thanks to a sky virus and the delicate armistice that could lead to yet another war. And at the center of it all? Seven strangers chosen to go on a diplomatic mission to get the cure for the sky virus after a message was sent over by a doctor by the name of Sam Elgin.

We are introduced to siblings who originate from the United States, Daniel and Charlotte “Lottie” Graves who are mere opposites of each other. Lottie is a doctor who is determined to get the cure of the sky virus and save as many lives as she can while Daniel is a hired mercenary on the run. Then we have Ace Kenyatta, a specialist in all thing United States including the history and society of the country. Valentina Sandoval, a multimedia journalist with a reliable drone name “Buzz.” Janet Worthington, a diplomat from the Western Alliance Euro Afrique and her Eastern counterpart, Enlou Chang, a diplomat from the Pan Asiatic Prosperity Zone. And Colonel Bukowski, a pilot from Poland.

When group arrives in America, they are ambushed by an odd group led by a mysterious man known as the Destiny Man, a xenophobe who does not want any foreign boots on American soil and the comic’s main antagonist. The group is eventually rescued by a masked figure revealed to be none other than Dr. Sam Elgin proclaiming himself to be Uncle Sam and telling Daniel and Lottie that he wants them to save America.

As the story goes further, it is clear that in addition to their expertise or talents, every single character has their own motives that led to them being a part of this expedition. These motives are mini anecdotes that flesh each of the characters out. And it is a reminder of why I enjoy Synder’s and Soule’s writing so much. Synder used a similar anecdotal style when writing the backstory of Lincoln March and ancestors of Bruce Wayne during his run on Batman. And with Soule’s writing, I feel there is a bit of that emotional element that every character expresses; I’ve seen this on his Vader work when the Sith Lord would reminisce about his days as Anakin Skywalker. Like with any awesome adventure story, Synder and Soile take us on a ride where we see some unexpected twists and turns in this comics and this is only just the beginning.

I also love the art drawn by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Daniele Orlandini. I remembered seeing Camuncoli’s work when reading Superior Spider-Man and Vader (he and Soule worked together on this comic) and I was hooked with the grittiness of the art which I see was perfect for Undiscovered Country. I did some research on Daniele Orlandini and saw that she did work on Marvel’s Darth Vader and I could see that same boldness into the art. In addition, the coloring by Matt Wilson was also a great tag team partner to that gritty art.

I am looking forward to more issues for this comic. I have read three issues so far and I read that Synder and Soule plan on making this into an ongoing series. If that is the case, I would love to buy an omnibus in the future because this has got to be one of my favorite series from a non-DC and Marvel title.  I recommend that you check out Undiscovered Country. To me, this story is as American as it gets. Not in entirely in a, as Lex Luthor from Superman: Red Son would put it, “Norman Rockwell, apple pie, Stars n’ Stripes, and the Fourth of July,” sense but close enough. I recommend that you all give it a read.

 

-Brian of Earth 16

#allcomicscelebrated

UPDATE:The Earth-16 Comics Wire

Hello everyone,

Due to my hectic schedule, I have been trying to keep up to date with the Earth-16 Comics Wire. For 2020, I promised myself to be utilizing more of my multimedia platform which includes my podcast, my Youtube page, and this blog that you are reading.

Sometime next week, you are going to see my latest Youtube video (which I am current;y working on right now) and I am also going to be doing a podcast segment with a comic book creator. I’m going to really make this happen and I am going to look cool doing it.

In addition, I am also going to be showing some other surprises along the way. I feel that I need to ignore the burnout and just…well in the wise words of Yoda: “do or do not, there is no try.” And man, does that make a lot of sense. (Thanks Master Yoda!)

And yes, you will be seeing more written comic book reviews and essays on this blog as well in the coming days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

Rest assured people, I am going to be trucking along and hustling. I figured despite my personal battles and burnout, I should be doing what I love. Period. Point. Blank. And that’s writing, vlogging, and talking all things comics and geekdom. Earth-16 style from yours truly.

And as I always say…#allcomicscelebrated!

 

 

-Brian From Earth-16