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

2020-The Year of A Better Tomorrow

When I started the Earth-16 Comics Wire, it was called the Boy Wonder Press. However, I decided to change the name of the site to reflect my love of both comic books and journalism. To me, those two things go together like peanut butter and jelly.

I also decided to make this a part of my everyday despite feeling burnout and making a crap load of excuses that could fill a journal.  Working on the Earth-16 Comics Wire is a cure most, if not a cure all, to burnout. 2019 had taught me that I have to pursue my creative goals regardless if I am out of gas.

2020 looks to be a fun year since my goal is to take the Earth-16 Comics Wire on the road or at least make it become a familiar to nerds, geeks and comic book fans. And because of that goal, I am very excited that this Saturday, Jan. 9, I am going to go to my first comic book related event of the year in Glendale, Arizona. The event involves a launch of a kickstarter for Shahrazad, which is one of the comics under Big Dog Ink, a subsidiary of Aspen Comics.  For those who are interested in the event, you can check it out here.

I am also going to be looking to do more podcasts for the Wire as well as the DC Comics Geeks Nation by reviewing the Flash on the CW. Currently, the platform is covering the monumental Crisis on Infinite Earth’s event.  I’m looking forward to doing more podcasts and discussions with these rattag crew of DC Comic junkies in the future. I miss those guys.

In the year 2019, I have let excuses take over my life. In 2020, I chose to not do that. My sister encouraged me to push past the whatever excuse came my way and reach for my goals. In addition, someone at work advised me of that same thing. And they were right. Even as I am writing these very words that you, dear reader, are reading, I feel the excuses using their power over me.

And as I write, several questions begin to evoke in my head: Would Stephen Amell make ascending to become Green Arrow if he made excuses? Would Keanu Reeves be kicking ass John Wick or as Neo from The Matrix if he made excuses? Would Han Solo beat the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs if he made excuses? Would Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson become the megastar that he is today if he made excuses? We all know the answer to those questions. And you know what? Excuses ain’t got nothing on me anymore!

You will be seeing a lot from me including my blogs, youtube videos, and my podcasts. I eventually want to make this a multimedia platform where I can showcase my passion for comics and also throw in an encouraging message to those who follow me. I owe it to myself and the people who support me.

Lastly, when I think of this year, 2020, I think of the mantra that was used by Superman’s grandfather Seg-El in now cancelled SyFy series Krypton: Keep believing in a better tomorrow. (by the way, #savekrypton)

Lets make 2020 the year of a better tomorrow!

-Brian From Earth-16

 

 

 

 

Review: Becoming Superman

When I read the book, J. Michael Straczynski’s book Becoming Superman, I became quickly engrossed by the story of a man who fought and kicked adversity’s butt like Superman did to villains who would repeatedly threaten Earth or those he cared for. This autobiography painted a picture of a man who had to leap every tall building adversity erected in a single bound to become Superman. It was a story that I enjoyed reading because like Straczynski, I aspired (and still do) to be Superman and a writer.

The story starts off with Straczynski’s family background that is laced with a dark secret that involves deception, Nazism, and tragedy. However, as the story progresses, we see a young Straczynski slowly develop a resilience that is fueled by his aspiration to becoming Superman. And that aspiration was birthed when, as a boy, he started reading Superman comic books and science fiction novels. And that aspiration also fueled his love for writing stories.

As Straczynski hones his craft as a writer, he slowly but gradually breaks out of his family’s shadow of misfortune and poverty. To me, Straczynski’s resolve to overcome adversity as shown throughout the book,  is more powerful than a locomotive.

In his youth, Straczynski had to face an alcoholic father who was a Lex Luthor, or perhaps a General Zod, to his Superman. He also had to experience repeated moves to different cities in the country. He also encountered schoolyard bullies and slap-happy Catholic Nuns. He also had to experience his share of financial ups and downs while using his gift as a wrtier. He learned to love himself by following his goal to becoming a writer which eventually gave him several opprtunities like writng for newspapers, writing scripts for cartoons and TV shows, writing and producing Babylon 5, writing comic books like The Amazing Spider-Man and Superman: Year One, and writing the scrpt for The Changeling.  And with that, he created an awesome career as a writer.

My favorite part in the book was when Straczynski is at the Cannes Film Festival in Paris. It is here where we see Straczynski envisioning himself unbuttoning his shirt and exposing that familiar red and yellow “S” shield of Superman. In that vision, he flies off to the sunset. This scene symbolizes him coming to grips with his past and his accomplishment of living his dream as an accomplished writer.

This book had taught me that despite our adversity, we need to fight for our dreams regardless. Our circumstances, while understandable, are irrelevant to how we approach our goals in life. Straczynski reminds us that we are not victims and that we can all aspire to be like Superman and do the right thing.

To me, J. Michael Straczynski is Superman. I say this because like Superman, he is brave and never gave up on his dream of becoming a writer despite everything being thrown at him. He could have given up and blame his upbringing or childhood but he let it become a motivator for him to be where he is at today. He inspired me to do the same when I read this quote from him in the book:

“I think that the reason so many unlikely things happened to me is because I never listened to those voices; because I came out of the womb snarling at anyone who told me there was something I couldn’t do; because I learned that to win, I only had to ‘say yes I will’ one more time  than somebody else could say ‘no, you won’t.’ I never walked away from what gave me joy, never surrendered my dreams to those who would profit by eradicating them.”

-J. Michael Straczynski

I often used to blame my problems or shortcomings on other things or people.  Only after the fact, I would feel sadness for doing such. Recently, I had to come to grips with the fact that I have to take ownership for my mistakes or shortcomings. I am beginning to love myself enough to say: “No, this is my fault and I am the problem but you know what? I am also the freakin’ solution, son!” That is what real successful people do. Whenever you come up short, there is a time to be upset but, you have to dust the crap off and keep moving forward. J. Michael Straczynski is a reminder of that.

This book really hit close to home for me because, like J. Michael Straczynski, I wanted to be like Superman. As a kid, I emulated Clark Kent by wearing toy red glasses. I pretended to fly and run around the house with a dish rag for a cape. And Superman became one of the reasons why I wanted to become a writer and tell stories.

I recommend that you read this book. It is not just an autobiography of a writer who broke out of the Phantom Zone of adversity and poverty. It is an autobiography about a man who became Superman.

Relaunching The Boy Wonder Press Podcast and Blogsite!!!

Hello everyone!

It has been awhile since I have blogged on this site but, it was due to doing a lot of meditating. Right now,  I realized that I want to have fun by doing what I love and that is writing and talking about comic books. That’s right peeps, I am going to be relaunching the Boy Wonder Press!

What inspired me to relaunch my site is my current stint on the DC Comics Geeks Nation Podcast (Not affiliated with DC Comics). I currently host the Flashcast where I discuss everything related to the Flash including the comics and the CW Network TV Series. As I did more segments, I realize that there is so much more to write and talk about when it comes to comics and geekdom. The late Will Eisner, the creator of The Spirit, and writer J. Michael Straczynski, inspired me to revamp the Boy Wonder Press.  In addition the Boy Wonder Press relaunching, I will still be doing the Flashcast and DC Discussion on Geeks Nation Podcast.

In the Boy Wonder Press, I will be doing written and audio comic book reviews. I will also provide honest and objective commentary on the news surrounding all things related to DC, Marvel, Image, TV shows, and anime.

Commentating on comics and all thing geek is so fun. Analyzing characters whether heroic or villainous is pure joy. Comparing the unique worlds to ours is an awesome and sobering experience. Whenever I delve into any topic I talk about, I always learn something new and that is a really cool experience. I have the Creative Writing department at UC Riverside and an AP English teacher at high school to credit for helping me develop my penchant for learning from reading an analyzing the stories and characters. I am looking forward to doing more of this on the Boy Wonder Press and also the DC Comics Geeks Nation.

You can find me on WordPress, Youtube, Anchor, and Podbean. Very soon, I will be launching my Patreon account and many other accounts.

I am excited for this new chapter in my life and looking forward to sharing it with you, constant readers and listeners alike! Until then and as I always say….

Stay ever so awesome!

-Brian reporting from the Boy Wonder Press on Earth-16

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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