Earth-16 Comics Wire Podcast Season 3, Episode 2: The Comic Collector

In this episode, Brendon Rooney and I speak with Psychiatrist Dr. Paul Rashid, the creator of The Comic Book Collector, a short documentary film about his mission to giveaway his comic books to children. We had fun chatting about this awesome story and so much more. 

You can follow the Earth-16 Comics Wire on Twitter: @Earth16Podcast

Instagram: earth16comicswire

If you want to find out more information on the Comic Book Collection, you can go to the Kickstarter page: 

Earth-16 Comics Wire Update

Hello Constant Readers and Listeners,

I hope that all of you have been having a happy new year. So far, this year has been all about staying committed to my goals. One of those goals involves writing. And speaking of writing, I am writing an update in regards to the Earth-16 Comics Wire.

The Earth-16 Comics Wire Podcast is partnering with the Daily Planet to produce episodes involving comic creators. The news site, which is based on the fictional Daily Planet from the Superman mythos, has become a new platform for the podcast. In addition, I am planning on posting most of my comic book reviews on the Daily Planet. However, I still plan on writing on this blog page but it will be geared towards updates on the podcast, comic book commentary that piques my interests, and comic book events/conventions.

2021 looks to be an exciting year and I continue finding more people to have on my podcast and talk about their comic book projects. I am also planning on talking to pro-wrestlers since I enjoy watching professional wrestling, whether its WWE, AEW, Impact, New Japan Pro-Wrestling, or Ring of Honor. Wrestling is awesome. I have been writing some wrestling content for the Daily Planet and plan on writing more in the comic months.

I also am planning on writing my first book. Writing a book is a process but I am taking it easy rather than rushing into the process. I have already outlined the first three chapters of the book. In the future, I plan on sharing some details of the book in the blogsite. This project has stuck with me since my second year at college and I feel that right now is the right time to start building on it. I am very excited to see this project goes.

I am also planning on doing more video game streams on my Twitch and Youtube where we can talk about anything (especially comic books) in a fun and safe environment. Also, this is a way to ward of the negativity from what is going on in our society. I am also going to be streaming some of my podcasts on Twitch and Youtube.

I hope that this year brings more awesome surprises and adventures. I plan on writing about those moments and sharing them with you on this awesome platform. So having wrote that, Let’s make 2021 and awesome year and lets look cool doing it. And as I always say….lets dream and work toward a better tomorrow!

And that my friends…is undisputed!

-Brian of Earth-16

Review: Scouts Honor

Writer: David Pepose

Artist: Luca Casalanguida

Colorist: Matt Milla

Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual

Publisher: Aftershock

The first comic review of the new year has arrived in the form of the comic book, “Scout’s Honor.” The comic is written by David Pepose (“The O.Z. and Spencer and Locke”), illustrated by Luca Casalanguida, colored by Matt Milla, and lettered by Carolos M. Mangual. There will not be too many spoilers in this review as I will only be talking about the aspects of the comic and not telling the full story. But if you have not read the comic yet, I suggest you give it a read before reading this review.

“Scout’s Honor” takes place more than two centuries into a post-apocalyptic future. The world is a barren wasteland after a nuclear war. A violent version of the Boy Scouts of America, called Ranger Scouts had emerged from a bunker and saw what had become of the world they once knew. The Scouts decide to survive a new world born of nuclear destruction.

Courtesy of David Pepose and Aftershock Comics

When reading this comic, I felt that Pepose borrowed several themes from the Judge Dredd, “A Handmaiden’s Tale,” and Mad Max. The Ranger Scouts, like the Judges from Judge Dredd, are an police force of Boy Scouts used to enforce order by brutal means. The scouts are also able to rise in the ranks by gaining merit badges due to their feats out in the badlands. The highest honor for a Ranger Scout is the Valor Badge which any scout can procure before becoming an elite Eagle Guard.

And the order that the Ranger Scots are enforcing is one of patriarchy in which, under the third law, they are “forged in brotherhood, beyond our sisters and wives,” which is not too different from the Republic of Gilead. In addition, like Gilead, the order is a pseudo-religious order that is derived from the Ranger Scout Survival Handbook written by a Dr. Jefferson Hancock. Six laws, like the aforementioned third law, have been derived from the handbook that the scouts have to follow to enforce their order.

Courtesy of David Pepose and Aftershock Comics

Pepose has written an ensemble of characters that are going through several challenges. The first character, Kit, is a rising star within the Ranger Scouts. However, nobody, with the exception of Kit’s father, knows that Kit is actually a girl and if the Ranger Scouts were to find out, she would not be a Ranger Scout. The second character is Dez Shepherd, a fellow Ranger Scout who is a friend and rival of Kit. Dez is portrayed as a young man who wears a chip on his shoulder due to trying to gain approval from his father, Thomas, who is the ordained Scoutmaster. Dez is seen as more proficient with vehicles and technology, much to his father’s dismay. In addition, Thomas favors Kit over his own son and perhaps, may choose the former to become an Eagle Guard which is an elite Ranger Scout. Then there’s Kit’s father who is very concerned for the safety of the young lady especially when it comes the the third law.

When seeing these characters, I remembered speaking with David on the Earth-16 Comics Wire podcast about how he created characters for his comics. Like in “The O.Z.” and “Spencer and Locke,” Pepose usually wrote characters who have experienced trauma of some form. For instance, Dorothy Gale in “The O.Z.,” the granddaughter of the original Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz,” had PTSD from her experiences as a soldier fighting in the War in Iraq. The one character I see having the most trauma would be Dez since his father puts a lot of pressure on him to be a capable Scout, like Kit and I have no doubt that this will play a huge role as the story progresses.

The art done by Casalanguida has a lot of action-to-action sequences with the panels. We see this in the beginning of the comic where Kit, Dez, and a rookie Ranger Scout name Eddy are hunting for a gamma boar. A scene-to-scene transition was used at the beginning of the story to give readers the idea of how the Ranger Scouts rose from the ashes of the old world and to take us to the present day where we are introduce to Kit. Casalnguida’s art also had some powerful scenes which included the aspect-to-aspect panels which showed a statue of Jefferson Hancock, Eddy being laid to rest, and Thomas Shepherd orating an eulogy for the fallen Scout. Another power scene was the aspect-to-aspect scene in which showed the panels showed Kit conversing with her dad and the revelation of Kit’s secret. The coloring done by Milla set the mood within the comic. One my favorite panels showed Kit lending a hand to Dez. In this panel, a light is shinning right behind Kit which signifies that she is indeed the gallant hero of the story and also the shinning example that Dez’s ios expected to follow, by his father.

Courtesy of David Pepose and Aftershock Comics

As the story progresses, there is a dark twist on the real history Ranger Scouts that set’s Kit’s world upside down. There is doubt that this twist will cause a chain reaction as the series progresses. What will Kit do with this new knowledge and will the Ranger Scouts stay the same once this twist is revealed to them?

You can grab “Scouts Honor #1” at your local comic book shop.

Review: Crossover #2

Writer: Donny Cates

Artist: Geoff Shaw

Colorist: Dee Cunnifee

Letterer: John J. Hill

Story Edits: Mark Waid

Publisher: Image

Synopsis: “KIDS LOVE CHAINS,” Part Two The event continues to unravel as Ellie, Otto, and Ava rise from the ashes of their comic shop to begin their four-color odyssey to find the truth beyond the dome. Meanwhile: super-prisons! Magic guns! Mysterious government agents! And other stuff, too!

Warning: Contains Spoilers

Issue #2 begins with a television news reporter informing the public that comic book writer Brian K. Vaughn was found murdered. The unknown narrator says that this is an “second arc storyline” and that he or she “shouldn’t have even brough it up” and reminds us that comic book fan Ellipses and the son of a religious zealot Ryan Lowe are destined to become lovers. But right now, Ellipses has no love for Ryan as she is seen spiting at his face after he set fire to the comic book ship

Property of Image Comics

This story was split into two arcs for Ryan and Ellipses after the burning of the comic shop. Ryan is arrested by the cops and taken to an office of a government official, Special Director Nathaniel Abrams Pendleton who was appointed by the President to incarcerate comic book heroes and characters. It is also revealed that the director has been working with other comic book characters to install power-dampening lights in the cells of the imprisoned characters. Pendelton gives Ryan a briefcase which a pistol and letter that mentions Ellipses and also advises him to travel to the dome. Pendleton advises the young man to complete his job or he would place him somewhere where his zealot father would not be able to bail him out.

Property of Image Comics

The arc with Ellipses involves her plan to take Ava back to her family and also find her parents who are believed to still be trapped in the dome. This arc had more revelations involving the loss of family for both Ellipses and Ava. Elipses and Ava are staying over at Otto’s house, still shaken by the events from last issue. Otto learns that Ellipses has been living in his comic book shop since she started working there.  In addition, Ava reveals that she did not escape a dome but a interment camp where the government is imprisoning comic book characters and experimenting on them. Ellipses decides to bring Ava to the camp to reunite with her family much to Otto’s protest. Otto is wary of Ava and mentions that if reading comics taught him anything, it was that Ava could have powers or be a mutant. While Ellipses shoots down Otto’s suspicions, they are confirmed when the ending of the comic reveals a splash page of Ava using heat vision to roast a rodent.

This issue continues to deliver. One of the things I enjoyed about this issue was the artfully subtle references of well-known comic characters in the government that were drawn by Geoff Shaw and colored by Dee Cunifee.  Donny Cates’ writing also keeps on having me want more Crossover and to see where the next issue takes us. 

Who wrote that letter that mentioned Ellipses? Who is Ryan supposed to use the gun on? How will Ellipses react when Otto’s suspicions about Ava are proven true? And is the man with the “S” on his chest who we think it is?

Crossover#2 is out now and can be purchased at your local comic book store.

Property of Image Comics

Review: Star Wars #9-Operation Starlight: The Ancient Relic

Writer: Charles Soule

Artist: Jan Bazaldua

Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg

Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Publisher: Marvel

Synopsis: The heroic Rebel Alliance is scattered and on the run from the evil Galactic Empire after losing the Battle of Hoth.

But the Empire’s cunning Commander Zahra has broken Rebel security codes and will stop at nothing to crush the Rebellion once and for all.

Princess Leia attempts to rally her friends before all hope is lost….

Warning Spoilers Below:

Star Wars #9 continues after the events from the battle in last issue where although the Rebel Alliance sent the ruthless Commander Zahra and the Empire packing, they are not out of the woods yet. Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, and the Rebels start commencing Operation Starlight which is the mission to unite all the remaining Rebel cells. However, the Imperials have cracked the Rebellion’s secret encryption codes which leaves them vulnerable if they decide to communicate the other surviving cells.  Luckily for the Rebels, everyone’s favorite golden protocol droid C-3PO comes up with an idea to solve their dilemma. Threepio tells the Rebels of an ancient droid that can speak a forgotten language called Trawak which could help replace the previous codes. However, the protocol droid tells the Rebels that the droid is located in a museum in the heart of the Empire: Coruscant.  Leia tasks Des Dameron (Poe Dameron’s father) and his Pathfinders to fly to Coruscant, with the help of a reluctant Lando Calrissian and his friend/droid Lobot, and steal the droid. And who better to help pull off a heist than the former Baron Administrator of Cloud City?

Courtesy of Marvel and Lucasfilm

When I read this issue, I felt that it was an issue that placed the focus on Lando, Lobot, Des, and the Pathfinders. And since this issue is the commencement of Operation Starlight, Soule decided to place a heist as the first mission for the ragtag rebels.  When I read this issue, I wondered how the Millennium Falcon was able to slip through Coruscant. Sure, even though the Falcon is indeed a smuggler ship, isn’t Darth Vader still in search of that ship? And if so, wouldn’t that put the Pathfinders in some danger? After all, Vader is still searching for Luke, especially after revealing that he is his father.

I was surprised by the pace of this issue in which the Pathfinders were able to easily steal the ancient droid from the Imperial Museum. Lando and the Panthfinders are able to infiltrate the Imperial Museum and break into the curator’s office without getting spotted. However, the curator sentences one of the Panthfinders, Needle, a Quermian to death for protesting a work of art native to his species. Needle’s protest was used to distract the curator and his guards while Dameron and fellow Pathfinde Frell sneak into the curator’s office to steal the droid.  However, the issue is thrown a swerve that shows while the mission was completed, the ancient droid has malfunctioned due to a corrupted memory bank. Des questions Threepio on what they are going to do but droid responds that he does not know.

Courtesy of Marvel and Lucasfilm

One of the things that I enjoyed about the comic was that it shifted the focus on other characters. Des Dameron and his Pathfinders were portrayed as brave and capable soldiers of the Rebellion. We also see more of Lando Calrissian and his slow road to becoming an eventual official member of the Rebellion though he does not know that yet.  

The curator was a filler character that was flamboyant. The unnamed curator sat on a chair with legs which I felt was a call back to the prequel trilogy in which Palpatine’s hologram projector walked on legs. He also had a monocle and a Victorian Era moustache that I feel symbolizes the Empire’s wealth, power, and rather growing complacency which probably explains why the Rebels were able to slip past a world that the Empire was supposed to have on lockdown.

The one thing I wanted to see is the psychological effect that Zahra had on Leai after their scuffle. In the last issue, Zahra has taken residence in Leia’s mind after almost killing her. However, in this issue, Leia seemed unfazed, probably due to focusing on gathering the remaining Rebel cells. We will see Leai questioning her confidence in the next issue? And will the Imperial firebrand Zahra be thorn at her side as Operation Starlight continues?

Courtesy of Marvel and Lucasfilm

Speaking of Imperials, I liked that this story took place on Coruscant which was another call back to the prequels and a reminder that the planet is the center of galactic power in Star Wars. But the Rebels sneaking in the giant city-wide with very little effort made the setting of the Republic-turned Imperial world appear weak.  Like Frell, I was expecting this to be more of a challenge with the Imperials, granted the guards were not stormtroopers and they were guarding a museum. And I have to remember that Needle sacrificed himself to help his comrades steal a droid that was malfunctioning. But it would have also been cool to see how the Millennium Falcon slipped through Coruscant with Vader knowing about the YT-1300 freighter.

Overall, I am enjoying Soules run on Star Wars and I am excited to see what the Operation Starlight arc brings.

Star Wars #9 is out now and can be purchased at your local comic book store.

Review: GRIT #1 – 3

Publisher: Scout Comics

Writer: Brian Wickman

Penciler: Kevin Castaniero

Letterer: Micah Myers

Colorist: Simon Gough

Scout Editor: James Pruett

Scout Production: David Byrne

When I was introduced to GRIT, I decided to give it a read. The comic centers around Old Man Barrow, an “ageing monster hunter” who is very brutal in his monster hunting methods with the use of his axe. As the comic progresses, Barrow unexpectedly joins forces with Ari, “a hot-headed young witch dead set on breaking him of his ultra-violent habits.”  When I read the first two issues following issue #3, several things made me a fan of the comic.

Courtesy of Scout Comics

The first thing that got me glued to the comic was the character dynamic between Barrow and Ari. The protagonist Barrow is a loner who hates people and witches. He spends most of his time hunting mythical creatures. He is a cleaner of the land hired by the local townspeople to hunt monsters. Barrows is also a hack and slash monsters first and asking questions later character.  But we learn that this monster hunter has a unique past that involves his mother doing horrible things.

Next, we are introduced to Ari, who is a firebrand witch that disapproves of Barrow’s brutal methods. Ari is seen as foil to the more calm but savage Barrow. As a witch, Ari can cast spells. In addition, she loves nature and is able to communicate with animals. She also is more methodical and strategic as seen in Issue#3 when she and Barrow take on the blood demon at Black Dog Bottom. Throughout the series, the two characters are hilariously almost at each other’s throats with Ari calling Barrow names and criticizing his violent behavior while Barrow, annoyed with the witch, tells her the nature of his job as a monster hunter. It is towards the end of Issue #3 that Ari’s view about his methods towards other creatures seem to have some effect on Barrow as he is seen giving up his sword to a man crying for help because monsters in his attic.  

Courtesy of Scout Comics

Another thing I liked about the comic was that both Wickman’s writing and Kevin Castaniero’s art help to create a unique world that was a fusion between fantasy and “southern-fried” wit. This is a fantasy story told in an almost Western theme. When I read Barrow’s dialogue, I can hear a deep Southern accent, almost like Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Walking Dead) or maybe Sam Elliot voice (The Hulk, Ghost Rider). As for Ari, I can only hear Monica Rial’s (Dragon Ball Super) voice which made me realize that it had a bit of a hilarious North vs South vibe in a fantasy world. Or maybe a millennial vs baby boomer vibe.  To me the art is a little reminiscent of anime or manga art when the facial reactions are used to express emotions, like Samurai Champloo. The way the characters and creatures are drawn by Castaniero and colored by Simon Gough give the comic a noir and rustic style. And I definitely cannot forget how awesome lettering done by Micah Myers was in this series, especially with the explosion scene in Issue #3 in which was caused by Ari.

Courtesy of Scout Comics

I wonder if we will be seeing more of the misadventures of Barrow and his unique relationship with Ari. Issue #3 cannot mean the end of his monster hunting ways forever. And what about Ari? What is her story? And will she become someone who will become the closest thing Barrow has to a friend or family? I am looking forward to see how the gritty fantasy of worthy of the name GRIT unfolds.

Review-Star Wars #8-The Will of Tarkin: Prey

Writer: Charles Soule

Artist: Ramon Rosanas

Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg

Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Warning Spoilers Ahead:

Star Wars #8 continues the Will of Tarkin arc that began on issue #7. Imperial Commander Zahra is on a mission to kill Princess Leia and crush the Rebel Alliance which is still reeling from the defeat at Hoth. We learn from the last issue that Zahra had a mentor-like relationship with the ruthless Grand Moff Tarkin. We also learn that Zahra is taking part in this mission to avenge Tarkin and to get back at the Rebels for taking away her opportunity to redeem herself to her mentor.

Courtesy of Marvel and Disney

At the beginning of the comic, we are taken to several flashback panels where Darth Vader, via hologram, tasks Zahra with hunting down the Rebels. The former Anakin Skywalker refused to take part in the mission as ordered by Emperor Palptine since he is still fixated on his personal mission to find his son Luke Skywalker after the duel on Cloud City.

We are taken to the present where the Fourth and Seventh Rebel Fleets have the Imperials trapped in a pincer maneuver. However, Zahra plans on boarding the battleship ship Leia is on and kill the princess. Zahra is able to successfully board Leia’s ship and easily kill the Rebel Troopers try to contain her. Zahra hacks into the comm systems and threatens to destroy the ship from within unless she confronts Leia.

Courtesy of Marvel and Disney

Leia and Zahra come face to face as the ship’s interior is darkened. The Imperial Commander relates to Leia as she mentions that they are both orphans. Zahra mentions how her parents were killed by rebel terrorist and she joined the Empire to save little girls from the same experience she went through. She also mentions that Tarkin mentored and made her who she is. While talking with Leia, Zahra swiftly injures the princess with a sword that resembles a kitana. Then the Imperial commander blames Leia for orchestrating the attack on the Death Star which led to Tarkin dying “thinking that she was a failure” and that the Rebels took away her opportunity to redeem herself.  Zahra concludes that the only thing she can do is avenge her mentor but Luke, with the new yellow-bladed lightsaber he acquired from the previous issue comes in the nick of time to save the day. The Imperial escapes along with the retreating Imperial fleet.

During a Rebel briefing and while recovering from her wounds, Leia tells Luke that she saw something in Zahra’s eyes that told her that the Imperial wanted to hurt her and feel her pain. Leia concludes that Zahra was expressing darkness and hated.  

The comic ends with Zahra, in pure ruthless Tarkin fashion, boasting how Leia bleeding from her sword was a good day for her. She tells her lieutenant that she won’t stop going after Leia and vows to use her blade to finally kill her. She also boasts that she planted seeds of fear in Leia’s head so that she would be unable to galvanize the Rebel Alliance.

Courtesy of Marvel and Disney

Charles Soule’s writing continues to remind me that he knows how to write Star Wars. His notable work on Darth Vader in 2017, which explored Vader’s early days in the Empire and running the Inquistorious, was an enjoyable run.

The art done by Ramon Rosanas and Rachelle Rosenberg in this issue was also reeked of Star Wars. There were some favorite panels in the comic which included Vader recruiting Zahra to hunt down the Rebel Fleet, the Splash that showed Wedge Antilles leading a squadron of Rebel Star Fighters, and Leia’s showdown with Zahra.  The meeting between Vader and Zahra reminded me a lot of the prequel films in which the holograms were used frequently. Even in holographic form, Vader looks intimidating. The starfighter scene was just a reminder that the Rebel Alliance is always ready to fight even against seemingly insurmountable odds. The scene between Leia and Zahra parallels Luke and Vader’s duel in the carbon freezing chamber with the light vs dark themes and shadows being used.

However, the one thing I scratched my head on was why Soule added Luke into the scene between Leia and Zahra. I felt that this was Leia and Zahra’s fight, even though Luke too was responsible for blowing up the Death Star and killing Tarkin. I guess Luke was added probably to make this scene a teaser to the real fight between Leia and Zahra. In my opinion, however, Princess Leia is capable of taking care of herself and probably would have put up fight against the passionate Imperial. Luke probably would have come after Leia and Zahra exchanging blows against each other with the latter surviving but not without having injuries. It would have further planted more seeds of doubt in Leia and to start changing her perspective on her tactics against the Empire.

Overall, I am enjoying the Will of Tarkin arc as well as Soule’s run. I am looking forward to see how Zarha takes residence in Leia’s head rent free. Will Luke help her regain her confidence like he had regained his? And what is in store for the unbroken Rebel Fleet?

Star Wars #8 is out and can be purchase it at your local comicbook shop.

Review: Crossover#1

Publisher: Image Comics

Writer: Donny Cates

Artist: Geoff Shaw

Colors: Dee Cunniffe

Letters & Design: John J. Hill

Story Edits: Mark Waid

Cover: Geoff Shaw w/Dave Stewart

When I read Crossover #1, I was expecting Donny Cates (God Country) to bring us something in the magnitude similar to a Crisis on Infinite Earths or a Secret Wars. I was expecting Images characters like Invincible, Mark Grayson to end up on the Walking Dead Universe and encounter Rick Grimes. Or other characters like Lil’ Depressed Boy ending up in the world of Chew. But what Cates and his team have bequeathed to us was a not just a crossover of heroes battling it out. He gave us a crossover on an alternate version of our own world in comic book form.

Courtesy of Image Comics

What was described by the unknown narrator as a “superhero summer event,” occurred above the skies of Colorado on January 11, 2017. And when the narrator said that if the cataclysmic event “was a comic, it would be the greatest selling book of all time” but “it was real,” chills went down my spine. And that was when I knew that Crossover was going to be more than just a meeting of the heroes. It was also going to be a meeting of heroes that would lead to a lot of deaths and change the lives of everyone involved forever. The result of the infighting of the heroes caused Colorado to be enveloped in a force field.  And that is when the story begins.

Courtesy of Image Comics

Since the incursion of the Crossover, the public is against comic books or anyone who worships them. Comic enthusiasts, cosplayers or comic shop employees are ostracized from the public, especially the ardently religious. At the center of this story are three characters: Ellipses, a survivor of the Crossover, a comic shop employee, and daughter of writers who are still trapped in Colorado; Otto, the owner of the comic shop Ellipses works at; Ryan Lowe, a son of a religious zealot and bully of a father and a closeted comic book enthusiast who may have some connection to Ellipses, and Ava, a comic book character that came from the force field with the help of a certain superhero.

The events in Crossover #1 implode when Ryan, albeit reluctantly, obeys his dad by throwing a Molotov cocktail onto the comic shop when Ava’s presence terrifies the store patrons. The comic’s story become more climatic when Ellipses looks at Ava’s drawing of the hero who had let her walk out of the force field. The drawing appears to be a hero with a “S” on his chest which could mean that it was Superman who let her escape.

Courtesy of Image Comics

One of my favorite parts of the story is the narration. It is very subtle since the narrator is unknown or unseen. The narrator brought up interesting comparisons between humans and the fictional characters. I also liked how he mentioned that the story of Crossover is about “believing in something when the whole world tells you that you’re wrong, about trying to find a home when the one you have feels broken or gone,” “it’s also a love story,” and “a story about hope.”

I must confess, I haven’t read anything by Donny Cates before this comic. I actually gave God Country a read which also starts off with a narrator. When I read the first issue of God Country, I became as instantly hooked to that story as I did this one.  I will probably cover God Country in another review of video in the future.

Courtesy of Image Comics

Going back to the story, I feel that one of the powerful things about this story is how it relates to our everyday lives. Ellipses is an outcast due to her love for comic books which parallels how some people to this day put down comics or graphic novels as a medium nor being serious or making young children degenerates. Speaking of that sentiment, the shirt that Otto wears to be ironic was of Fredric Wertham, a German physiatrist who believed comic books warped the morals of young children.

I am also a huge fan for Geoff Shaw’s art which I also saw in God Country. His drawings of the force field made the Crossover event in Colorado look ominous yet beautiful since you cannot have a comic book crossover without heroes battling it out. His drawing of the comic book character Ava had me react the same way Ellipses and Otto did. Ava’s comic book-like appearance had my jaw drop; she’s a little girl who resembled a comic book drawing with dots all over her face. And we definitely cannot forget about the lettering done by John J. Hill which gave the scenes depth. Notable examples were when the red neck threw a bottle at Ellipses, Otto alerting Ellipses of Ava stealing a comic, and the explosions at the comic book shop after Ryan throws the Molotov cocktail at it.

Courtesy of Image Comics

Crossover has already got me hooked and I’m already excited for what is in store for issue #2. Who is Ava and why did someone let her out of the force field? What is the relationship between Ellipses and Ryan? Will we see some familiar heroes or catch glimpses of them? And, will the force field enveloping Colorado break?

Cates and his team have created an exciting story that I feel will change how people, whether avid comic readers or not, will view comic books and graphic novels forever. Don’t believe me, just give this a read.

Crossover#1 is out now and can be purchased at your local comic book store.

Comic Review: Ax-Man

As Earth becomes populated due to advancements in technology and the assimilation of people, all seems to be good. However, disease and pandemics spread just as rapidly. And you would think that with all of the world’s improvements, these diseases would be dealt with. But, what if the diseases cannot be cured? This is where the Ax-Man comes in.  An Ax-Man is a hitman aimed at killing patient zeroes, or people who carry these rare diseases, before an outbreak can envelop the globe.

Courtesy of Plastic Sword Press

Ryan Little’s “Ax-Man” centers around Jason Burke, an Ax-Man who is tasked by a black ops department of the CDC to kill patient zeroes. As the comic progresses, we learn in Issue #1 that Jason is also a doctor when he is conversing with his colleague and friend Allison. We also learn that Jason starts to become disillusioned with his work as a hitman for the CDC and that he has a tragic past involving a plague during a school field trip.

Courtesy of Plastic Sword Press

In addition to Jason struggling with his demons, we also see some of characters, like the aforementioned Allison, and Ian, another one of Jason’s friends and colleagues, clash with Moore, the director of the CDC’s black ops wing. While Ian and Allison want to find a way to cure diseases, Moore is hellbent on weaponizing them against terrorists. We see some of Moore’s sick experiments including a “blood melon,” which is front an infected human woman who turned into a tree.

When the plagues begin to spread, Jason abandons his mission to kill more people infected with incurable disease. He, Ian, and Allison decide on a new mission to help cure rather than kill those with the incurable diseases. If anything, this may seem like n tall order for Jason. However, given his past and his inner conflict between wanting to save lives as a doctor and take them as an Ax-man, he knows someone has to do it. And who better than him and his team of doctors?

And as the reader goes into the three issues of “Ax-Man,” one may notice that Little’s writing showed Jason’s inner conflict puts into question his upholding the Hippocratic Oath which is it is to “do no harm.” Jason clearly wants to help those who are sick rather than put them down. Moore’s black ops can argue that his organization is doing no harm by killing patient zeroes so that the pandemics do not spread. But we all know that not even the Ax-Men can stop the incurable disease pandemic from spreading.

Courtesy of Plastic Sword Press

The art, done by Briane Andan and Yuri Pinzon, brilliantly gives a gritty attitude of the story. One notable scene was at the very beginning of “Ax-Man” when Jason is infiltrating the hospital. We see a self-immolated Ax-Man, an infected patient who gets killed by Jason. and the scuffle between Jason and the looters in a darkened and abandoned hospital. Another notable scene was in Issue #3 with the infected become inflammable which evokes horrors created by the growing pandemic.

In addition, we cannot forget about the lettering done by Nikki Powers which evokes the same grittiness. From the gun shots fired from Jason to a notable patient, Albert, coughing out blood, the lettering also gives depth to the graphic novel.

In conclusion, “Ax-Man” is a story about how even a technologically advanced world is not always prepared to take on a serious pandemic. Look at the events today surrounding the current Coronavirus pandemic. Many countries are handling the pandemic in so many different ways and by different means. This does not mean that the world is doomed but Ax-Man is a reminder that there is no cookie cutter or perfect way to handle a pandemic. The struggles that Jason and other characters are facing are not too dissimilar to ours.

Courtesy of Plastic Sword Press

Will the rogue Ax-Man Jason and his intrepid medical team be able to save the world one disease at a time? Or will Moore succeed in creating bio-weapons to use against the terrorist? We may never know but I am excited to find out as more issues of “Ax-Man” come out!

Ax-Man is written by Ryan Little under his publication company Plastic Sword Press. The graphic novel is illustrated by Briane Andan, colored by Yuri Pinzon and lettered by Nikki Powers. The book is being funded at Kickstarter. If you want to back the project, click here.