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: 

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: Black Cotton

Black Cotton

Publisher: Scout Comics

Writers: Patrick Foreman and Brian Hawkins

Art: Marco Perugini

Letters: Francisco Zamora

Patrick Foreman’s and Brian Hawkins’ (Don’t Ever Blink) latest comic Black Cotton is set an alternate universe where the black race is the majority and the white race is the minority. The story centers around the Cottons, a powerful and wealthy black family who owns Black Cotton Ventures, a successful business that has roots dating back 400 years in America’s history. The elite family’s world is rocked when the news of a black police officer shooting a young minority white woman hits the airwaves. That police officer is Zion Cotton, the son of Black Cotton mogul and Elijah Cotton.  As a result, a furious Elijah puts his daughter, and Zion’s sister, Qia up to the task of cleaning up the family’s image while the entire country becomes embroiled with protest from white minorities.  

Courtesy of Scout Comics

When I read this comic, it took me to a parallel universe that is a mirror of our world. This comic portrays an alternate reality where minorities are still affected by the presence of the majority. Only difference is that the majority is a different skin color. In a sense, this alternate reality is a character in the comic. And like our world, it has been teetering on the edge of division caused by political and discriminatory strife.

One of things I enjoyed about the comic is that it shows that had the roles been reverse, society would mostly be the same. If a shooting from a cop, who is of the majority race, on a minority were to occur, protests and riots from minorities would still be triggered. Police officers, especially ones from elite families, would be marked by the media and protests.

Courtesy of Scout Comics

When I read the scene where the news of Zion shooting of the young white woman begins reaching the door step of the Cotton family business, I began to think back to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, two African-Americans murdered by the very people sworn to protect and serve: the police officers. Like the murder of Floyd and Taylor, the murder of the young white woman at the hands of Zion has sparked protests from white minorities. We see the organization the minorities protesting under “White Lives Matter” signs in front of Zion’s apartment. And we also see that the matriarch of Black Cotton, Zion and Qia’s mother, is willing to give money to the white woman’s family to brush everything under the rug.  

Courtesy of Scout Comics

With the familiar themes of racism and privilege, this comic’s writing does an amazing job of having the reader ask questions about this world that seems, again, similar to our own. Were whites subjugated to slavery like African Americans in real life history were? Did the Civil War end in a different way? Were the Native Americans treated any different? And I know that these questions will be answered with the help of Zion and Qia’s brother, Xavier who is tasked with doing a school project on the history that his family has been a part of for 400 years.

Courtesy of Scout Comics

The comic art along with the pacing of the panels compliments the writing. The panels from the first scene had me asking why Zion was chasing the young white woman. A part of me almost feels that there was more to the story as to why Zion shot the white woman. I also liked how the comic ended on Qia and Zion’s mother asking the family on how much she would give the Nightingale’s, the white woman’s family which the panel was used as a cliffhanger.

I am looking forward to learning how the relationship between Elijah and Zion became strained. Did Zion believe he had a bigger calling that taking over the family business? Does Qia enjoy working for Black Cotton? And what secrets will Xavier find out? Scout Comics will launch Black Cotton on February 2021 and it is on my list of comics to read.

 As many of the characters would say: Black Cotton.

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.

Todd McFarlane: Comic Creative, Visionary, and Rebel

When I watched Todd McFarlane’s SyFy Documentary, “Like Hell I Won’t,” I did not see just a story about a comic creator and what he does in his day-to-day. I saw a story about a man who became a creative, a visionary, and a rebel. When I think of those three words, I think of Todd McFarlane, the creator of the comic book “Spawn” and one of the founding fathers of Image Comics.

The documentary showed a McFarlane who was a creative the moment he started to grow. From doodling pictures in class to drawing amazing works of art for the love notes he gave to his girlfriend (and future wife) Wanda, he was honing his craft as a comic artist. Sure, in an alternate universe, he could have been Todd McFarlane, the baseball player (since he played some baseball) or something else but comic books became his passion. Comics was something he wanted to pursue and he had a vision.

However, he was bogged down by the notion that comic book artists were only bred in New York. However, that notion changed when he saw comic book artist John Byrne,who was working on “Uncanny X-Men,” on television saying that he was living in Calgary, Alberta, McFarlane’s hometown. And at that instant, McFarlane decided to pursue comics/ And since McFarlane wanted to work in comics so he did what any up and coming comic creator would do.

He submitted samples of his art to different publishers for years. However, he had gotten 300 rejections. He could have given up on his dream but if there is anything I learned about McFarlane, it was that he never took no for an answer.

McFarlane’s persistence reminds me of a quote from Zig Ziglar: “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” He never gave up on his goal and aimed to work in the comic book industry and eventually got his first gig from an publisher name Steve Englehart. The gig involved drawing art for the comic called “Coyote.” Although four months later, he would lose that job due to the book getting canceled, McFarlane would rebound and eventually do art for “The Incredible Hulk” under Marvel Comics and eventually would do one of his best works on “Spider-man” in the early 1990’s.

As I delved further into the documentary, I learned that the reason McFarlane’s “Spider-Man” work was the best was because he broke the rules. Marvel Comics wanted him to draw Spider-man they way the wanted him to. However, the Canadian artist did the opposite and it sold. Marvel must have been scratching their heads as to how this dude from Calgary, Alberta Canada was helping Spider-Man gain a lot of sales with his unique art. One of the things McFarlane changed out Spider-Man was the eyes on his mask and the web that came out his webshooters. McFarlane wanted more emphasis on Spider rather than just the “man.” To this day, the Spidey’s webs are still written in the highly detailed style created by McFarlane.

“Break the rules and make it look cool,” McFarlane would say. And it paid off. “Spider-Man” became one of Marvel’s highest grossing comics but it was not enough for the comic company. As a result, McFarlane and six other artists made up their minds and decided to waltz into the Marvel headquarters in New York and call it quits.

These seven comic creators would create Image Comics and it was a place where McFarlane would not be told no since he had 100 percent creative freedom. And with that freedom, he created his flagship comic book, “Spawn.”

The amazing thing I saw from the documentary was that “Spawn” is more than just a comic book story about a U.S. Marine, named Al Simmons, who sells his soul to the devil and becomes this supernatural warrior hellbent on going after those who did him wrong. Its also a love story about a wounded warrior who longs and fights to see his wife…Wanda (same name as McFarlane’s wife) once more. Some of McFarlane’s inspiration from the story comes from his love for his wife and family. And it really got deep when the artist said that he would do the same exact thing Spawn would do see his wife again.

Despite the implosion of the comic book industry back in the 1990s and facing several lawsuits (Notably from Neil Gaiman, an NHL hockey player and many other), McFarlane was (and still is to this day) tenacious when it came to working on “Spawn.” By doing so, a movie based on the comic came out in 1997 and adult toys were made (which revolutionized the adult collectible toy industry. An HBO cartoon based on “Spawn” was also made.

All of this stemmed from not only his love of comic books. But it also stemmed from wanting to be like his father while at the same time not being pushed around. McFarlane admired his father for his hard work and blue collar work ethic but was affected by how people took advantage of his father.

After working on “Spawn” for so many years, McFarlane was able to write the 300th issue for the comic book he started in the 1990’s while founding Image Comics. It is ironic how after he got 300 rejections, he was able to create 300 issues of “Spawn” because he was a creative, visionary, and a rebel. And this inspired other creators to put in that same effort into the comics. Creators like Robert Kirman (“The Walking Dead” and “Invincible”) have been inspired by McFarlane.

McFarlane’s story is nothing new. Its a story of a man who never gave up even when people told him no or when it was the eleventh hour. And because of that perseverance, he is living the best life. If McFarlane could pursue his goals and aim for them, why can’t any of us? If nothing could stop him from doing his best work creating, what is stopping you from doing yours?

If you want to watch the documentary, “Like Hell I Won’t,” you can click on this link.

2020 So Far…And What I Am Starting to Realize….

As 2020 has progressed, I must admit that I have been very busy but mostly spiritually, socially, and spiritually fatigued with everything that has been going on. I haven’t written a blog post in awhile, I haven’t done a podcast segment since May, and I have barely started on my other goals or endeavors. What’s going on here? Didn’t I just write a blog post in the beginning of the year about how awesome this year was going to be?

A lot of it has to do with myself trying to make sense of the current social climate of my country, the United State of America. We are in a socially and politically triggered year. A year where the world got hit with a gnarly virus that has taken a lot of lives, young and old. A year where we have seen an white cop murder a black man by pressing his knee on his neck. A year where that murder sparked thousands of protest, in that black man’s name, around the country. A year where the election for the highest office in the land is being contested between two candidates from both dissonant and opposing political parties.

2020 was promised to be a great year for many. Many had plans on what they were hoping or going to do that year. Personally, I was excited about attending Phoenix Fan Fusion, like I always have for the last three years but could not due to it being cancelled thanks to the Coronavirus. I have seen more news about the George Floyd protests led by Black Lives Matter than I have about the latest comic books coming out this year. I have also seen more news about the upcoming 2020 Election than I have of the latest developments in the world of comics books, novels, anime, and, journalism.

But as I write this, I ask myself why I have been reading or watching those news stories. Do I consume all of that to see even a sliver of hope that these protests will stop or that people, for once in their life, put aside politics and dream, work, and build for America’s better tomorrow? Or do I do it just because I want to see what happens next? Does this make me insane? Does this make me crave politics more than I care to admit?

Maybe..maybe I am anxious and scared of what is to come.

In no way am I bashing those current events and the outlets presenting them. As a matter of fact, I know that they are very important stories and they need to be told. After all, as an aspiring journalist, I understand that it is the job of the press to inform the masses about the events going on in our country and the world.

But it doesn’t take reading a copious amounts of those stories to realize that 2020 is indeed a challenging year. And it has everyone on the edge of their seat. Like me, many people are watching closely and waiting to see what happens next. Maybe they are still hoping that all this crap that we are witnessing will be ephemeral and just fade away. Maybe they are wanting someone or something to make all of that happen. Or at least provide people with an escape.

And there is where I have my epiphany with 2020.

There is a reason why I do podcasts and talk about comic books. It’s because I enjoy it and I want others to do just the same. I want to pass on my joy to other people. As important as the current events are, I cannot let them siphon the energy that I can be using to do express my admiration and knowledge of comic books. Even on this day, I see awesome writers and creators like Angel Young of the Wandering Nerd Girl, Bryant and Barbara Dillon of the Fanbase Press, Felicia Day, and many others still go out and do their thing. Why can’t yours truly?

I believe that God brought me to this Earth to not only inform you, but entertain you and be creative.

Which is why I am happy to announce that the Earth-16 Comics Wire Podcast will be returning on August 1 starting with my take and review on Christopher Priest’s Deathstroke vs. Batman. I will also be looking for comic book creators (writers, artists, letterers, colorist, inkers, etc) to chat with for my podcast. Deathstroke vs. Batman will kick off Season Two of the Earth-16 Comics Wire.

I will also be doing Youtube videos or streams related to comics and me playing video games. And this blog is also a part of that as well where I will be posting my new project, the Bonfire Rabbit, which is a story about a young man who has lost his creative edge and has had to settle for mediocre life until one day, all of that changes.

If you are feeling fatigued or bogged down by the current events, just remember that you have an outlet where you can sit back, relax, laugh, and have fun. I want to provide that for you. It is my job and it is about time that I did that. And I am going to do everything within my power to provide that for you and myself.

I will be providing you with some updates on Twitter and Instagram in regards to the Earth-16 Comics Wire. And I will also be attending San Diego Comic Con digitally and maybe I might do some videos on it to give you my take on it.

Let’s go have some fun!

Coronavirus: A Time to Get Creative

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Brian from Earth-16

Review: 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.