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

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

My Take On the Superior Spider-Man

This past week, I’ve read the Superior Spider-Man which was written by Dan Slott. Some of the issues in the series were drawn by Ryan Stegman and Giuseppe Camuncoli. The series first debuted around 2013. In the Amazing Spider-Man comic, the villainous Dr. Otto “Octopus” Octavius swapped bodies with the heroic Peter Parker to save his own life.

Inside the dying Otto’s body, Peter told Otto to protect those that he cared and loved and that with great power, came great responsibility. Otto decided to do just that but by his own means. Otto Octavius decided to become a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was by christening himself as the Superior Spider-Man.

Such a move created a controversial buzz among Spider-Man fans. Many were upset that Slott had Peter and Doc Ock swap bodies. I had to admit, I too was upset and thought it was a rather odd move and did not bother reading the comic until this year. I even thought that fan backlash would force Slott to quickly drop the title. However, that never happened probably because Slott wanted people to see what would happen next.

What propelled me to read the comic was our of curiosity. I wanted to see what it would be like for a villain to take on a heroic role. And after reading the first issue, Slott’s story direction made me want to read more. And if that was Slott’s agenda, I’d say he did a pretty damn good job.

I saw that being Spider-Man made Otto feel that he had a greater power and a greater responsibility. From using that same intellect that made him a dangerous supervillain, Otto became a more lethal incarnation of Spider-Man. From the miniature spider-bots to the Spider-Man army he created, Octavius was not the Spider-Man anyone wanted to mess with. He was not the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man we all grew to know and love. He was every hero’s and villain’s worst nightmare. Just ask Kingpin or the Avengers.

One of my favorite moments in the comic was the real Peter Parker fighting to reclaim his life. There was a battle between Peter and Otto within Peter’s mind. This reminded me of the battle between the two Superman in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace where Superman’s light and dark sides fought. However, the Amazing Spider-Man lost and the Superior Spider-Man was victorious. But knowing Peter Parker, the OG Spider-Man is not one who gives up so easily.

Otto, now in full control of Peter Parker’s life, set out to rebuild his life. He earned a doctorate at Empire State University, used his genius and technology which helped drop the crime rate in New York City, he fell in love with a fellow Empire State student, Anna Marie Marconi who had dwafism, and started a company called Parker Industries.

As I read into the series, I saw some parts that showed Doc Ock’s past. As a kid he was bullied by both his father and the kids at school. The only love Doc Ock had was from his mother. It was here where I felt very sorry for Otto. All that he wanted to do was be a scientist and himself. And it was also here that I learned that Peter and Otto were not too different. Peter was also bullied but he lived in a home where both people loved him.

At the climax of the story, several tragedies and tribulations make Otto realize that Peter Parker was the Superior Spider-Man. The return of the Green Goblin, now christening himself as the Goblin King and terrorizing New York brought about this. The Goblin also knew that Otto had taken over the mind of Spider-Man thanks to reading the journal from Peter’s ex-girlfriend Carlie Cooper who was able to piece together why Spider-Man was acting unusual and gaining the resources for his extreme war on crime. After seeing a childhood friend get killed by saving Otto’s life, New York in chaos by the Green Goblin, and Anna Marie kidnapped, Otto knew that only one man could end it all: Peter Parker. The real Peter Parker.

It is here where Otto finally admitted that Peter Parker was the real Spider-Man and that in order to make things right, he had to erase himself from Peter’s mind just like he had tried to erase Peter. Peter and Otto parted on somewhat better terms and Peter returned as the Amazing Spider-Man. After Peter was able to defeat the Goblin, he slowly but gradually began to learn what Otto did while he was gone. But in the end,Peter began to have a new lease on life after his experience.

Overall, I really enjoyed the comic series. I grew to also like the character of the Superior Spider-Man. The Otto incarnation is another favorite Spider-Man next to the original, Spider-Man Noir, and Miles Morales.

I also have to say that for me, this series is up there with Batman: Year One, All-Star Superman, and Invincible. Spider-Man has always been one of my favorite Marvel heroes next to Captain America. Like Superman, Spider-Man is the epitome of never giving up even when shit is seemingly hitting the fan or during the darkest of times. And in this comic, Peter never gave up. Without a doubt, Dan Slott made this a true Spider-Man story. And I bet that it took great power and great responsibility to write it.

And as Stan Lee would always say, Excelsior!

Brian of Earth16

Review: Tales From the Dark Multiverse-The Death of Superman

Tales From the Dark Multiverse-The Death of Superman

Writer: Jeff Loveness

Pencils: Brad Walker

Inks: Drew Hennessy &Norm Rapmund

Colors: John Kalisz

Letters: Clayton Cowles

Cover: Lee Weeks & Brad Anderson

 

Warning Spoilers Ahead:

Could you imagine a love interest of your favorite superhero taking matters in her own hands after the death of the former? And when I mean take matters in her own hands, I am talking obtaining near cosmic powers that can potentially kill someone. Well, a Dark Multiverse version of Lois Lane has done just that in Tales of the Dark Multiverse :The Death of Superman.

There have been several comics or other mediums that depicted Clark Kent’s love interest as a Superwoman, In All-Star Superman, she temporarily had the same powers as Superman and fought crime alongside him. In Earth-3, Lois is an evil version of Superwoman who is the wife of Superman’s evil counterpart Ultraman. In the New-52, she was also Superwoman until Lana Lang took on the role. But in this twisted and dark Earth where the events of The Death of Superman play out, she does become a Superwoman but she takes it up a notch when she becomes the Eradicator after absorbing the powers from the Kryptonian Eradicator entity.

Jeff Loveness truly made the story that was penned by Dan Jurgens in a twisted dark story. I honestly did not see this twist coming but Loveness makes the reader understand why Lois had her reasons for becoming the Eradicator. He wrote a greiving, vulnerable, and angry Lois Lane hellbent and getting back at the world she felt let the love of her life down. At this point, we begin to see Lois’ gradual transition from the fearless journalist to a woman on edge.

Loveness also wrote Lois’ narration of the events in a poignant manner. In her nattation, Lois points out the hypocrisy of the Justice League when they are present at Superman’s funeral. She also notes that Luthor creating a golden statue of the Man of Steel would disgust Superman. What makes this sadder is that she is talking to Superman as if he were still alive and listening to her. She mentions that despite Superman having loved the world so much, the human race did not “try to be better.” We also see a scene where Lois is looking at Clark’s empty desk. Even more deep is the scene where Lois visits Martha Kent who has already become widowed after losing her husband Jonathan.

When Lois becomes the Eradicator (or EradiLois as I like to call her) she is more enrage and blood thirsty. Loveness writes a Lois who has no boundaries and is willing to protect the world by any means neccessary. Lois feeds the hungry, ends corruption, fights crime in a brutal and lethal manner which is very contrary to Superman’s less brutal method.

I also found the character of Tempus Fuginat very interesting. He is like a watcher of sorts who keeps track of the Mulitverse. His questioning on why the dark is growing and his lamenting of the light being warmth. Perhaps this is the allusion to the growing darkness within Lois as she grieves for Superman’s death. The use of Tempus at the beginning and the end of the comic was a great touch since he is used to question the darkness in the beginning and to justify it as a lesson in the ending.

In addition to Loveness’ writing, Brad Walker’s art also gave the Death of Superman story a dark twist. Lois’ Eradicator is drawn as a grieving and enraged Lois who is wearing Superman’s battle worn cape. The cape and House of El symbol, usually symbols of hope, are now symbols of loss. The Eradicator Lois is a complete 180 from the firebrand journalist we all know and love. The art used to depict Lois’ powers are more darker than the original Eradicator’s. And let not forget the coloring of the darkness metasizing onto the Multiverse as Tempus looks on. The darkness is a black and purple mesh that is enveloping the many Earths in all the Multiverse.

As a huge Superman fan, I enjoyed the story and it makes me want to read the Death of Superman. Reading a comic like Tales from the Dark Multiverse- Death of Superman has made me wonder if other love interest would have done the same exact thing Lois did. Could you imagine Mary Jane Watson going crazier beyond Superior Spider-Man (minus the body swap with Doc Ock) and killing the Green Goblin after Peter Parker dying? Or how about Princess Leia embracing the Dark Side and confronting her son Kylo Ren after Han Solo’s death. Or (for Image Comics fans), if Mark “Invincible” Grayson died and Atom Eve became Invincible and killed Thragg and all the Viltrumites. Or in the Walking Dead, after the death of Rick Grimes, Michonne killing Negan in full view in front of all the communities of Alexandria, Hilltop, and Kingdom looking on in horror?

It’s one thing for a hero to go bad when things get dark but a hero’s love interest going bad? That is a rather new crazy twist and Lois Lane sure pulled it off.

Review:Cyrus Perkins and the Haunted Taxi Cab

Cyrus Perkins and the Haunted Taxi Cab

Writer/Colorist/Letterer:Dave Dwonch

Artist:Anna Lencioni

Published by: Action Lab Comics

Cyrus Perkins and the Haunted Taxi Cab has got to be one of my favorite graphic novels I have read this year. I decided to give this graphic novel a shot and it did not disappoint, The story has crime, noir, and supernatural elements blended into it’s writing and its art which also evokes emotion.

The story starts off with the titular protagonist Cyrus Perkins, a taxi cab driver living in New York City, who is driving a fatally injured teenage boy to the hospital. The boy reveals himself to be name Michael Bernbaum. Before Cyrus’ fateful meeting with Michael, he is seen to not like his job as a taxi driver due to dealing with the same passengers.

Cyrus’ life begins to change when he takes Michael to the hospital only for the latter to die in his car. He feels remorse for not saving Michael and as a result, he doesn’t drive the cab for a month. However, his girlfriend Iris and his boss urge him to go back to work. Cyrus eventually drives his cab again and seems to have gotten over Michael’s death. That is until Michael’s ghost appears.

Cyrus learned that Michael does not remember how he died nor does he remember anything about himself. Michael’s spectre also reveals that the reason why he has not crossed over was that he seems “tethered” to the taxi cab that he died in. It is here where Cyrus decides to help figure why Michael was killed.

Cyrus’ mission to find out how Michael, or Mikey as many of his loved ones called him, died leads him to many of Michael’s loved ones and friends. The scene with Michael’s mother kicks off the start of Cyru’s investigation. This was an abovious emotional scene as we learn that Michael, while a good kid and an 4.0 student, started to go on a sownward spiral after his father passed away. The investigation also leads to seeing several of Michael’s friends from his prep school.

Cyrus’ quest to solve the mystery behind Michael’s death makes him quite a detective. In every interview he has with several people, he gets a new lead. A notable scene where this happened when Cyrus interviews Michael’s friend Samuel and Chad.  Samuel blurts out that a girl name Hayley liked Michael which gives Cyrus a new lead and leads him to interview the girl who not only reveals that she had feelings for Michael but also advises Cyrus to find Chad’s brother Mitch.

The character of Cyrus Perkins reminds me almost of the social worker Chandler Jerell, Eddie Murpy’s character from the move The Golden Child. Both characters are taken out of their day-to-day and tasked with helping adolescents while dealing with the supernatural. Both characters’ careers also further their mission. Chandler’s career as a social worker leads him into helping the Golden Child and Cyrus’ career as a taxi driver leads him to gaining leads into solving the murder of Michael.

Cyrus also has a lot of wisdom that sometime makes him look as if he does not practice what he preaches. There is a scene where Michael tells a passanger, who is complaining about a relative, that people change. After getting the bad vibe from a the passanger who tried to kill his girlfriend. Michael reminds Cyrus of those words despite the latter refusing to get involved with stopping the crime. With Michael’s reminder, Cyrus eventually stops the crime by trying to talk down the passenger only to eventually knock him out after he does not listen to him.

Micahel “Mikey” Bernbaum’s character is a comic relief and a foil to the more grounded Cyrus. He acts more juvenile by making faces at several Cyrus’ passengers. However, Michael not only serves as a motivator for Cyrus to solve his murder but he is also a friend and confidant to the reluctant cabbie. When a passenger comes into the cab, Michael warns Cyrus that there is something odd about him and encourages him to stop the passenger. Cyrus follows the passener who is revealed to be a man about to kill his girlfriend. Cyrus stops the attempted murder and the passenger is arrested. We also see that Michael’s friendship with Cyrus is further solidifed when after`Mitch shoots Cyrus, the ghost has a resolve to save his life; simlar to how Cyrus tried to save his.

The characters of Samuel, Chad, and Mitch are seen as potential suspects. When we meet Samuel, he is a nerdy and overweight character who seems timid while Chad is more intimidating and snobbish. The comic did an awesome job by revealing that it was in fact, Samuel who killed Michael after he had the boy perform an satanic ritual and get possessed by a demon. Mitch was seen as a villain who really was not the villain after Cyrus’ figures out the real culprit behind Michael’s murder.

Another character that was interesting was the Claimer of Souls, a ghost-like character that poses as a male detective at the scene of the crime Cyrus stopped. The Claimer is a tall man in a tailored suit and he is seen as someone watching over Cyrus’ actions. The Claimer helps Michael get Cyrus to the hospital safe and sound. He also appears sitting inside Cyrus’ cab telling him that he is “here fo you.”

Cyrus’ girlfriend Iris is seen as a supporting character and a rock. She cares a lot for Cyrus’ well being, notably when he is grieving from Michael’s death. She also constantly reminds him to not smoke. Cyrus loves his girlfriend and muses that she sometimes sounds like his mother. Iris also appears to be either white or some other race while Cyrus is African-American which shows that Action Lab Comics embraces diversity (which I like).

Mors is another character that seemed interesting. We see her in the beginning of the comic speaking to Cyrus. She seems to be a character that offers wisdom to Cyrus involving his life with Iris and his well-being. There were some pages that made me wonder if in fact she and the Claimer are the same character or if she is somehow connected to him. Notable scenes are when Cyrus tells her that “every day is the same, Mors,” only for her to respond “Not today Cyrus” which foreshadows Cyrus’ fateful meeting with Micheal.  Another scene that further piqued my speculation was when she encourages Cyrus to open up to Iris about his ongoing investigation of Michael’s murder. After Cyrus thanks her for talking to him, Mors notes that maybe Iris will “tell you some of her secrets.”

Dave Dwonch has written an awesome story that shows that even a person, like Cyrus Perkins, who is dealing with the day-today can make a huge difference. Dwonch made an average joe cab driver into a bad ass slueth who is driven by empathy for those who are struggling like him.

The art done by Anna Lencioni was really awesome. It reminded me a lot of the Nickolodeon cartoon Danny Phantom, maybe because of the dark colors and the fact that this was a supernatural story. I liked how Micahel’s apparition was green or a teal color which, to me, symbolizes that he is not of the living. I also enjoyed the designs of the characters including Cyrus, Iris, the Claimer and many more.

If you guys have not read this book or if you need a break from the mainstream comics, this would be the book to read. I really enjoyed Cyrus Perkins and the Haunted Taxi Cab and I am looking forward to reading the sequel Cyrus Perkins and Death Brigade whenever it comes out.

Review: Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia #1 to #3

Written by: Ed Kuehnel and Matt Entin

Illustrated by: Dan Schkade

Colored by: Melissa Louise

Inked by: David Hahn

Lettering by: A Larger World Studious

Published by: Starburns Industries Press

By: The Boy Wonder Press

Watcha gonna do when a pro-wrestler from out of this world challenges you to a match for the championship of the universe while he sends a force of other out-of-this-world wrestlers to invade Earth?

Well, one out-of-his-luck pro-wrestler from our planet that Earth is going to have to answer that question.

And that pro-wrestler is name Rock n’ Roll Rory Landell, the protagonist and reluctant hero of Invasion From Planet Wrestletopia which was written by writing tag team of Ed Kuehnel and Matt Entin. The series is also created by an artistic stable which include illustrator Dan Schkade, inker David Hahn, and colorist Marissa Louise. So far, there have been three issues of the comic series: A Date with Destiny, Two Worlds Enter, One Leaves, and Teo Peas in a Pot.

Wrestletopia begins with a scene somewhere in space in the year 1999 where a Wrestlopian, an out-of-this-world pro-wrestler receives a transmission from 15-years ago. The transmission shows Rory declaring himself a champion of the universe.

And that is when the story begins. Rory Landell is a pro-wrestler in the fictional AWF (American Wrestling Federation) and is booked to win the company’s world heavyweight championship. It is here that Rory is on top of the world: he’s a rising star, has a girlfriend name Spanish Rose, and he’s about to become champion. That is until the boss, Dick Drassin decides to make a last-minute change by having Landell’s opponent, Bob Schultz keep the title for that night’s event. Landell is not too happy about this and after a conversation with his manager and friend, Don, he decides that the AWF Championship is meaningless and creates his own championship from a pizza box and belt: the Galactic Championship of the Universe.

It is here that while his announcement is being taped, Wrestletopia picks up the transmission of this bold declaration. And it is here when the antagonist and the actual champion of the universe, Manifest Destiny decides to challenge. Landell for the title. Little does Destiny know that Landell is not quite the same man he was. Fifteen years later, the wrestler is no longer with the AWF and is fighting in bingo halls. Rory is a shell of his former charismatic self. His manager Don Fong Wong is the only person keeping him together. However, it is not until the Wrestletopians invade Earth and make a deal with Landell’s former boss, Drassin, when the wrestler is going to have to make a choice: either accept Manifest Destiny’s challenge or continue down the path he has been going since leaving the AWF.

I enjoyed this comic series since it paid an homage to the pro-wrestlers of the past and present.

For instance, Rory Landel could be seen as a Ric Flair archetype with a narrative arc similar to Mickey Rourke’s character in the move The Wreslter. Like the Flair, Landell is a charismatic smack talker and a rising heel (or villain) in the AWF who gets denied his championship opportunity. But like Rourke’s character in the Wrestler, Landell tries to relive his glory days working in the independents while his life spirals out of control. Rory could be seen drinking and eat off people’s food as he heads to the ring much to Don’s dismay.

Don Fong Wong is most likely a parody of Mr. Fuji. Harry Fujiwara who was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and portrayed a Japanese heel manager. Don Fong Wong was also born in Hawaii while portraying a Chinese heel manager. Both use dirty tactics or tricks to help the wrestlers they manage claim victory over their opponents. Don Fong Wong would have to be a favorite character of mine due to him being a comic relief while also being a voice of wisdom to the reckless Landell.

Dick Drasslin is an obvious parody of Vince McMahon, the owner and chairman of the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). Boy Scout Bob Schultz is a John Cena and Hulk Hogan archetype. And Manifest Destiny seems to be an Ultimate Warrior General Zod character. And Mini Macho (another favorite character of mine) reminds me of Rey Mysterio due to their resolve to stand up to bigger wrestlers despite their smaller statures.

Another thing I like about the comic is that it also utilizes science fiction elements. The scene where the Wrestletopians invade Earth reminds me of the scene in Superman II where General Zod, Ursa, and Non terrorize the Earth and its leaders to root out Superman. Manifest Destiny making a deal with Drassin to find Rory also reminds me of Zod and Lex Luthor joining forces.

The art done by Schkade, Hahn, and Louise in this comic was also what told the story. The artist must either been wrestling fans or researched the moves by watching several wrestling shows. The reason I write this is because the sequential art the artists used was almost like watching WWE Thursday Night Smackdown from a different lens but with the same feel. Arsenio Hall once said that pro-wrestling is a mirror to the real world and this comic’s story and art are a reminder of that.

I’m hoping that more issues from this series come out. I want to see what Rory’s finishing maneuver is. I also want to see what happened to Spanish Rose after Landell walked away from her and the AWF. And what about Boy Scout Bob Schultz? Would he answer the challenge Manifest Destiny not only offered to Landell but to the wrestlers of Earth? And more importantly, will Landell get out of his funk and regain his smile (ala Shawn Michaels) and take on Destiny and win the Galactic Champion of the Universe?

If you enjoy pro-wrestling and, or, a science fiction fan, this book will have you glued to the story like the millions and millions of us fans who were glued to our TV sets watching the Monday Night Wars.

Invasion From the Planet Wrestletopia was published by Starburns Industries Press, the company behind Rick and Morty, HBO’s Animals, and HarmonQuest. You can follow Starburns Industries on Twitter @StarburnsInd. You can also follow team of Keuhnel and Entin, Suspcious Behavior Productions @SBP_Comics.

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Review The Flash#72-Year One Chapter Three

The Flash #72-Year One Chapter Three

Writer: Joshua Williamson & Howard Porter

Color:HI-FI

We are already half way done with the 6-issue series of The Flash Year One saga. The retelling of Barry Allen’s origin story continues to unravel some aspects of the legend of the Flash that was born during the Silver Age of Comics. In the third chapter which is called the Rise of the Rouges, we see the young speedster take on the Turtle, the romantic relationship between him and Iris West develop, the prototype Flash costume, and the debut of a familiar villain from the Flash’s rogues gallery which doesn’t end well for Barry at the end of the comic.

Williamson’s writing continues to show the present-day Barry Allen develop into the hero that he will one day become. The scene where Barry takes on the Turtle shows the speedster alluding back to his childhood when he was bullied. It is in this scene that thanks to travelling to the future and meeting his olderself, Barry has chosen to once again cling on to hope like he did before his mother died. Despite Turtle rendering Barry powerless, it is with luck that Barry is able to phase through a brick wall and defeat the Turtle. The Central City Police Department arrests the villain and as a double victory, Barry and Iris begin to date.

Throughout the comic, we see Barry’s life become more balanced thanks to his speed. The comic book panels drawn and colored by HI-FI show the soon-to-be-Flash going out on dates with Iris, spending time with August Heart (the future Godspeed), visiting his father Henry Allen in prison, developing his costume further (which consists of a hoodie and red glasses), and being a hero by saving lives. The colors here used are have bolder but lighter hues which to me, evokes hope rather than the dreary colors of the dreaded future Barry ended up in.

It is not until after the scene where Iris visits Barry at his apartment, we get to the climax of the comic. After speaking with Iris about a criminal name Clive Yorkin (he was involved with the dead body during the investigation in Flash #70, Year One Chapter One). Barry investigates the case that involved Yorkin and John Banks (the dead man at the crime scene) and discovers that there is powder on Bank shoe. Barry suits up and rushes to the Central City Pharmaceuticals where he see’s  Yorkin and a group of criminals lead by one Leonard Snart, the future Captain Cold. Iris also witnesses Iris confronting Yorkin who threatens her. York pulls a gun on Iris to the point Barrry springs to action to use his speed save her from getting shot. But things go worse when the comic ends with Barry running away from the scene only to reveal that he took a bullet for Iris and is now near death at the end of the comic.

While I enjoyed the continuing story of Barry’s hero’s journey, I felt that the comic alone should have been more focused on how the Rogues came to be before showing the fight against Turtle. I am not saying that it should have had focused on all the Rogues necessarily but maybe it should have been centered around Leonard Snart and how be would eventually become Captain Cold. We only see several Captain Cold references with Snart, Yorkin, and the criminals wearing the blue glasses that Cold wears and that’s all we get.

Then again, this is The Flash Year One. However, I was hoping to see a little more about the Rogues than Barry in this one since the comic was title Rise of the Rouges. Then again, that’s just me. At least, we see the man who will one day become Captain Cold.

Overall, this was still a cool story which I give 3.8 Flash rings out of 5. The reason behind the 1.2 loss was it could have had made the comic a little Rogue centric before resuming Flash vs. Turtle. But again, that’s just me.

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Review: Batman-Last Knight on Earth

 

Alfred and Bruce's Cowl
Batman the Arkham Knight? Credit: DC Comics

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: Greg Capullo

Inks: Jonathan Glapion

Color: FCO Plascencia

I have read several Batman stories that have some science fiction element to them. The first series I read was Grant Morrison’s Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne where the world’s greatest detective travels back through several time periods to return the present day while his memory is Swiss cheese (queue the Quantum Leap reference). Recently, Bruce had to battle alternate evil versions of himself from the Dark Multiverse in Dark Nights: Metal. Now I have to say that Scott Synder’s Batman: The Last Knight On Earth, which is under the DC Comics Black Label, has piqued my interest and might actually become one of my favorite Batman stories next to Synder’s other work, the Court of Owls.

After reading the preview, I knew that I had to purchase my own copy and read the first issue. And I have to say, the story is crazy good.

I do not want to spoil the story toO much but it is interesting how it starts off with a case where, as the narrator puts it, there is “no grandstanding villain, no corpse, no real victim at all.” This made the story very suspenseful to me because that was when I knew something was up and that Synder was going to set something up in a big way.

And it went from that case to Batman waking up as Arkham Asylum patient Bruce Wayne.  We also see that several of Batman villains including the Joker are doctors or personnel at Arkham. Joker is Dr. Redmund Hudd, Ras al Ghul is Agol, a gym coach, and Thomas Elliot/Hush is a librarian. We also see Harley Quinn, Penguin, Bane, and Two Face.  In this world, Alfred says that Batman is a “bloody stage drama” However, Bruce figures out that Alfred is a frail old man and that this reality is as a world created by Alfred with the help of Toyman.

Here, we learn that Alfred wanted to hide what happened in to the real world knowing that Bruce would go out of his own way to find out what happen and do something about it. Alfred tells Bruce that the world was basically destroyed. And we see several references including the toy T-Rex and Penny which alluded to the Batcave and the Batman cowl attached to the straight jacket.  And we cannot forget about Gotham’s finest, James Gordon and Harvey Bullock being police officers trying to take down the mental patient Bruce.

Then we go to the scene were Bruce and Joker (without his body) stumble upon Wonder Woman and her band of Amazons which consist of Supergirl, Poison Ivy, Vixen, and Wonder Girl. Here, we and Bruce learn what caused the world to go to hell and who caused it. Omega is the new big bad who, according to Wonder Woman, is a former disciple of Bruce’s and has the anti-life equation. We only see a silhouette of the guy holding what looks to be Darkseid’s head.

One of my favorite scenes had to be Batman finding Joker’s head in a jar. What came to my mind in that scene was the Tom Hanks movie Castaway. In that movie, Hanks character is stranded on an island after a plain crash and he finds a Wilson volleyball he names “Wilson.” So, Joker’s head is basically Wilson but he talks and annoys Batman. What’s even funny is that Vixen and Poison Ivy don’t seem too phased by a talking Joker head.

The art done by Greg Capullo was very sharp and detailed. I have always enjoyed seeing Capullo’s art since it brings out more defined and bolder features of the characters especially Batman and Wonder Woman.The colors done by FCO Plascencia also compliment Capullo’s art and do a better job at giving the story meaning. My favorite panel would have to be when Alfred’s true appearance is revealed. To me, this symbolizes the years of struggle Alfred endured while joining Bruce on his war against crime.

The only thing that got me scratching my head was the narrator. I was wondering if it was Alfred doing the narration or perhaps if it was the Joker. The first and last pages of the story kind of threw me off a little in that regard. I don’t know…that’s just me. Or maybe that is Synder’s aim. To throw us, the constant readers, off the scent. Who is the the narrator? Alfred? Joker? Or, is it Omega?

And just who is Omega? We know that he was once a disciple of Bruce. But who is he or she? Dick Grayson? Jason Todd? Tim Drake? Stephanie Brown? Damian Wayne? Jean Paul Valley? Or even Alfred? Only time and the next two issues are going to answer those questions.

I am looking forward to the next issues. This book is definitely going to be one of my big reads this summer.

What do you constant readers think of the first issue of Last Knight on Earth? Please feel free to share a comment and don’t forget to like and subscribe!

Review: The Flash#71-The Flash of Two Timelines

Writer: Joshua Williamson & Howard Porter

Artist: Hi-Fi

Cover: Hi-Fi and Howard Porter

Just imagine ending up in a dystopian future in which your home town is being run by a lunatic naming himself after an animal. Also imagine coming face to face with a more older and grizzled version of yourself. In The Flash #71, the continuation of the Flash: Year One storyline, the young speedster Barry Allen does just that.

Warning: There are spoilers. If you haven’t read The Flash #71, I advise you to not read the review. Otherwise, lets read on, shall we?

The issue begins with Barry thinking back to the night his mother was killed while he was a kid. He mentions having nightmares of a future without his mother but, the future that he (pun intended) ran into was far worse. Barry meets his older self who we learn is into hiding from the Turtle who siphons speed from the living. We also learn from older Barry that the Turtle wants his speed.

As opposed to the last issue, both we and young Barry see that older Barry is actually hopeful despite the situation in Central City. When young Barry is on the run with future Barry from the Turtle’s men, the latter reprimands his younger counterpart for being pessimistic and advising him that he has to move forward. Older Barry also reminisces about being a superhero and his adventures alongside other heroes. However, older Barry is very careful not to divulge about present Barry’s future. But he does something to confirm which timeline present Barry is from.

Future Barry quizzes young Barry about the many people in his life: Iris West, Wally West, Wallace West, and his mother. It is the question about his mother that gets present Barry piqued. Barry tries to ask his future-self who killed his mother (Anyone who knows or follows the Flash knows this answer) but Future Barry is quick to pull a River Song and does not want to give out spoilers. While on the run from the Turtle and his followers, future Barry admonishes Barry about the dangers of time travel. The two come across the Cosmic Treadmill which Future Barry says that will help present Barry get back to his own time. As the Turtle’s men close in on the two speedsters, Future Barry urges present Barry to ran back in time and that if Iris ever asks, Barry should “say yes, dammit.” Older Barry gets restrained by Turtles cronies as present Barry runs in the treadmill and returns to the present time.

After returning to the present, Barry, feeling spooked by his experience, vows to never use his speed and goes back to living life as normal as he can. However, he tries to come up with a way to create the Cosmic Treadmill and even his own Flash costume. He also cannot help but feel nervous but his nerves are calmed when he thinks of his date with Iris. As he is about to meet Iris, Barry sees Central City Police officers taking on the present day Turtle. After seeing Iris run into danger and without thinking, Barry runs to save her and decides to take on Turtle while wearing his prototype Flash suit.

I enjoyed the writing that Williamson and Porter brought to this issue. I liked that in the beginning of the story, they compared Barry’s fear of a future without his mother to the dark future he found himself in. In addition, I felt that the storytellers made Old Man Flash as hopeful and positive as pre-adolescent Barry despite that he was “maybe a few years closer to the finish line.” An example of this is when the older Barry grumbles about how pessimistic his younger self is after the former laments on failing.  Another example of this is when future Barry tells his younger-self that the life he has will become awesome.

This writing showed that Barry was learning not only that he will become the Flash but that he will be that same Barry Allen he was before his mother’s death. We see a slow but gradual transition from a jaded man to a hero. And I also feel that we see the beginning of Barry becoming who he is meant to be when he decides to take a stand against Turtle.

Speaking of the Turtle, the villain is a lot like his Pre-Crisis counterpart where he siphons speed for anyone. I don’t know if Williamson and Porter channeled the Mummy movies but the scene where Turtle sucks the speed out of the victim reminds me of how Arnold Vosloo’s Imhotep would suck the life out of his victims and leave them as husks. The writers wrote the Turtle, originally a villain who used slowness as a strategy to combat the Flash, as a power and speed hungry tyrant who was not one to be messed with.  After all, lets not forget the newspaper clipping mentioning that Barry lost Central City and even future Barry admitting his defeat.

The art done by Hi-Fi and Porter in this story was detailed and went along with the story. In a splash page, we see the meeting of the two Barrys in the middle of Turtle conquered Central City. In ths splash, we see a dystopian version of Barry’s hometown full of Turtle’s men and flags bearing the Turtle’s symbol. This Central City has more of a eerie green color that represents Turtle’s iron grip. The present-day Central City is bright and hopeful and pre-adolescent Barry Allen and the Flash as we know him to be.

Another cool thing about the art was how the artists used the colors to adorn the abilities of both Flashes and Turtle. The colors red and yellow were obviously used for both Barrys as they ran. However, future Barry had a darker red which I felt symbolized his Speed Force mastery whereas younger Barry’s red is slightly lighter . The scenes where Turtle sucks the speed out of a victim showed the victim turning into a white dried up husk while Turtle’s powers are bright green light orbs that emit out of him.

While this story was awesome, I felt that we should have spent more time with Old Man Barry. What was his story? We obviously know that he was the Flash but was he from a different time line? It would have been cool to see more of how he lives hiding from the Turtle. And what about Iris? Is she in this future? Perhaps we might have some if not all of those questions answered.

Overall, I enjoyed the scenes with the two Barrys and I am looking forward to issue #72 as present day Barry Allen or Proto-Flash takes on the Turtle.

 

Rating 4.1/5

Flash #71
Barry Allen Credit:DC Comics

Review: Age of Rebellion: Han Solo – Running from the Rebellion

Writer: Greg Pak

Artist: Chris Sprouse

Inks: Karl Story

Color: Tamra Bonvillain

Han Solo has been my favorite Star Wars character since I was 10 years old. My first Star Wars action figure was a Han Solo with a Jabba the Hutt figure that my dad bought me. Right now, I have a Han Solo action figure  in Hoth gear sitting on my shelf at my office.  Years ago, my mom and sister bought me several Han Solo books for Christmas and I bought a Han Solo comic. And a year ago, I saw Solo: A Star Wars Story which I thought was a really cool film (unpopular opinion to some fans). Han Solo is basically in my Mount Rushmore of favorite superheroes next to Batman, Superman, Captain America, and Robin (Damian Wayne).  So, it is no surprise to myself that I bought the Han Solo Age of Rebellion comic. Because I am a fan and I wanted to see the Star Wars Universe through the eyes of our favorite smuggler once more. And in this issue of Age of Rebellion, we get just that.

The story starts of almost immediately after the Battle of Yavin where Han and Chewbacca are counting the money the 17,000 credits they have earned. Han tells Chewie that they could pay off Jabba and make much needed repairs to the Millennium Falcon.

Before any plans could be made, Han and Chewie’s plans are cut short when the farmboy turned Rebel Alliance hero Luke Skywalker asks Han for a favor to smuggle goods to a planet that the Rebel Alliance is using as an outpost. Han, as always, is reluctant but eventually goes along with the request after much convincing from Chewie.

During this time, Solo runs into a group of old smuggling friends after breaking up a fight between them and a group of Rebel soldiers. The smugglers poke fun at Solo for being a Rebel much to his ire.

However, Akko, Han’s old friend, offers to do a smuggling job to get some money on another planet. Han accepts but things go south when one of the smugglers inadvertently gets the attention of an Imperial patrol.

Fortunately, Han saves his friends from the Imperials by emptying his ship of everything including the supplies and money. Han and Akko’s group part on good terms and Han returns to the place where he dropped the Rebel supplies. Han thanks the planet’s locals for looking out for the supplies but they want Han’s credits in return which the smuggler reluctantly relinquishes. It is here we find out why Han was not able to pay back his debt to Jabba the Hutt. Han Solo AOR

At the end of the comic, Han delivers the supplies to the Rebels on the outpost planet. The Rebels thank Han and call him a hero. Despite Han reminding the Rebels that he is not one of them, they ask the Corellian yet for another favor. And as a result, Han takes on another job while verbally declaring that it would be the last time he does any favors for the Rebel Alliance.

Greg Pak does an awesome job of writing Han Solo as this reluctant member of the Rebel Alliance to Restore the Republic. I think a better term for Han Solo in this comic would be a Rebel-by-accident. After all, he was pulled into a fight against an evil Empire by a certain old hermit and a blonde haired farmboy. I also liked how Pak brilliantly writes Han hilariously denying that he is a Rebel to Rebels and smugglers alike. I feel that Pak took shades of both the Harrison Ford and Alden Eherenreich versions of Han Solo as he wrote this issue. We see the far more cynical Han Solo portrayed by Harrison Ford when he argues with Chewie and denies his Rebel affiliation. But we also see Alden Ehrenreich’s Solo when Han retrieves the Rebel supplies and willingly delivers them to the Rebels. The scene where Solo meets the Rebels on Calumdarian, the outpost planet, reminded me of the scene where young Han gives the coaxium to Enfys Nest. In both scenes, Han is seen as having a heart despite his gruff and cynical exterior.

I also thought the art and coloring done by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story, and Tamra Bonvillain was great. They drew Han Solo exactly like he was in A New Hope along with the rest of the characters. The colors done by Sprouse gave this story a Western feel with almost all the scenes having a sunset or dusk setting. The shade tells me that something shrewd is about to go down and knowing Han Solo, he is all about being shrewd. We even see this in the ending scene with the relieved Rebels. Han just goes back to what he has always been doing: smuggling while being a reluctant Rebel as he flies the Falcon though the crimson and dusky skies of Calumdarian.

Having said all of this, the only thing I would have liked to see in this comic was Han’s interaction with Princess Leia. Whenever Han and Leia argue, there is always bound to be fireworks or at least shots fired. Leia was only referenced by Han as asking him for a favor for a job. I felt that Leia would have been likely the one to grab Han’s ear to get him to do a job for the Rebellion rather than just Luke alone because, even if Han didn’t want to admit it, Leia was one of the reasons why he stayed with the Rebellion. Luke was a reason but it was that princess from Alderaan that slowly made Han forget about paying Jabba for the moment and help the Rebels anyway he could.

Or another suggestion would have been to have almost all the characters from Leia to C-3PO or General Jan Dodonna asking Han for favors much to the annoyance of our friendly neighborhood smuggler. That would have made this comic even more awesome and would have exposed Han’s true character through his gruff exterior.

Otherwise, I enjoyed this story. Even if you’re not a Han Solo fan, you cannot help but see how Han starts to grow from cynical smuggler to hero of the Rebel Alliance. Any you know…it’s Han Solo.

 

Rating: 4.3/5