Posts Tagged ‘Word of the Nerd’

Podcast Party

So while I have my own podcast over at Word of the Nerd called That Girl with the Curls (which I highly encourage you to check out), I was fortunate enough to get some screen time with Andy Suriano (Samurai Jack, Cosmic Scoundrels, Liberty Justice), Daniel Freedman and Sina Grace (Burn the Orphanage), Tyler Shainline (Liberty Justice, The Beef), and Image editor and accounts managers Branwyn Bigglestone. This was a special event, one that I hope you’ll watch and enjoy. We talk about all aspects of the comic book industry and I encourage you to check out their books and find them online!

And big thanks to Andy Suriano for getting us all together!

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We’ve all been waiting patiently and the day is finally here when we can see our Kickstarter dollars made real in the form of the Nightwing: The Series trailer from IsmaHAWK:

Passionate people making passionate art! For those unaware, IsmaHAWK is the production team of Danny Shepherd and Jeremy Le who are as much fanboys of filmmaking as they are about a certain DC Comics character. In case it wasn’t clear, they’re big fans of Dick Grayson/Nightwing, former sidekick to the Dark Knight. And being the fans that they are, it didn’t take them long to realize that Nightwing has never really been given his due. Sure, Dick Grayson as the first Robin has been given plenty of attention, but outside of the comics and a few cartoon appearances, the guardian of Blüdhaven hasn’t exactly made a name for himself. IsmaHAWK, set out to rectify that.

Prior to the creation of Nightwing: The Series, the team created a five-minute short, Batman: Nightwing in which Nightwing faces off against Red Hood, a.k.a. Jason Todd. The video garnered enough attention and positive feedback that IsmaHAWK decided to take their love of Nightwing to the next level with a Kickstarter campaign for Nightwing: The Series, which was fully funded in February of last year. Over at Word of the Nerd I was fortunate enough to interview Danny, Jeremy, and fellow writer Mortimer Black on DC Confidential before the Kickstarter was fully funded and I’d encourage you to go back and listen to the episode since the trio were a blast to talk to and every bit as enthusiastic and excited about not just Nightwing but comics, movies, and geek culture in general.nightwing

Nightwing: The Series, as described by IsmaHAWK :

follows the adventures of Batman’s ex-sidekick, Robin. After a falling out with his former mentor, Dick Grayson aka Robin leaves Gotham City in order to create his own identity in the city of Blüdhaven . The series will delve a bit into Nightwing’s origins and flesh out the character. We hope to pull in new fans as well as appease and excite existing fans.

I can safely say that, based on the description of the series, the trailer doesn’t disappoint as we get glimpses of Dick Grayson/Nightwing (Danny Shepherd) possibly visiting his parents’ graves, the corrupt culture of Blüdhaven , a little weapons fabrication a la Batman Begins, Barbara Gordon, and from the look of it we’re going to get Nightwing vs. Red Hood Round 2!

Responses to the teaser trailer have been nothing but positive and the guys from IsmaHAWK couldn’t be happier. When I reached out to them for comment, they had this to say:

[We] just want to thank the supporters who believed in the project even when we really didn’t have anything to show for it at the time. We just hope that everyone enjoys watching it when it’s released as much as we enjoyed making it. We won’t let you down!

I don’t doubt it! Now that we’ve gotten a taste of what Nightwing: The Series will look like, all I can ask is where’s the first episode?!

If you want to keep up-to-date on the goings on for Nightwing: The Series, you can subscribe to IsmaHAWK’s YouTube Channel, follow Danny Shepherd and Jeremy Le, and like them on Facebook.

RatQueens_04-1This article was originally posted at Word of the Nerd on January 16th.

You know how in most books the plot starts some sort of mystery or a problem to solve that tends to become the ongoing, if not the overarching, narrative? Yeah, not so much with Rat Queens. Like most D&D campaigns, it’s about moving from mission to fight, mission to fight, fight to fight. Roll for initiative, you get the idea. So you know how the Queens, along with the other questing groups of Palisade, were attacked by an assassin while en route to weed out some cave trolls and barely escaped with their lives? Turns out it was Old Lady Bernadette the whole time. Go figure. Seems she didn’t take too kindly to the favorable treatment Sawyer was giving to the Queens, who were pretty much becoming a nuisance on a regular basis, so she hired some assassins to take care of the problem herself. While I applaud the initiative…man, Old Lady Bernadette is such a bitch! Guh!

It seems, though, that Bernadette’s plans to get rid of the questing groups have brought on a troll hoard set on wrecking up Palisade because the Rat Queens killed the leader’s boyfriend. Interestingly enough, the troll actually killed the assassin hired by Bernadette, but then the Queens had to kill him because, well he was a troll and he was attacking them and – ya know let’s just say the situation is complicated and move on. Oh, and the only reason the lead troll knew the Queens killed her boyfriend was because of Gary, a Palisade soldier, going on about how the Rat Queens totally killed her troll-man and were drinking in celebration of his death. Way to be, Gary. Way to be. Anyway, the Queens, at Violet’s insistence and with some help from Braga – formerly of the Peaches – decide to fight off the trolls since they’re kinda-sorta responsible for the attack in a very roundabout way.

StabbyAnd what a glorious battle it is! Not only does Kurtis J. Wiebe create some choice one-liners, but Roc Upchurch’s art brings the pain and the awesome! Once again, Violet and Betty shine, but Hannah and Dee hold their own as well. Violet is all about kicking ass as she puts her dwarven fighting skills to good use while Betty acts as Braga’s literal back-up, firing her arrows as Braga tears through the trolls. The energy of Upchurch’s art is phenomenal. Every page brings something new to the characters and Sawyer gets a fantastic fight sequence in the beginning of the issue. There’s a reason why he’s Captain of the Guard. In the midst of battle, he makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the fight with the Queens, keeping the blood flowing as the ladies defend Palisade.

I think what I love most about Rat Queens is the books unrelenting action as well as it’s sense of humor. I don’t often laugh out loud when I’m reading comics, but Wiebe always has at least one line that breaks my composure. Which is what a good comic book should do. Comics are entertainment, escapism, and Rat Queens is the embodiment of both aspects. This is a book that wants you to enjoy yourself and I enjoy it more and more with each issue.

Rating – 10/10

Final Thoughts: There’s a +5 on attack rolls against dudes named Gary…go find someone named Gary! He probably had it coming anyway.

SamJack_03-pr-2This was originally posted at Word of the Nerd on December 20th.

You know you’re in good hands when the opening of every comic includes the insanely awesome and informative opening sequence from the cartoon! Yes, the fan favorite/cult classic/just plain classic cartoon, Samurai Jack, has returned to us in comic book form.

Written by Jim Zub (Skullkickers) and drawn by Andy Suriano, the new Samurai Jack comic stays true to the episodic nature of the cartoon while giving Jack a specific goal in his quest to return to his home and proper time period so he can vanquish the demonic Aku. The “Threads of Time” arc sees Jack gathering threads from the broken Rope of Eons, which Aku frayed when he mastered time travel. Once Jack has recovered the threads, he’ll be able to rewind the rope and rewind time. In the first issue, Jack faced a group of gladiators fighting in an underground arena overseen by a malicious spider. While in the second, he went up against twin cats named Dis and Dat who used their thread to synchronize their attacks. Besting all of them, Jack prevails, but he’s not without his setbacks as each new foe challenges and pushes him further. No matter what, Jack is still a warrior possessed with determination to complete his quest.

Samurai JackIssue three finds Jack in the village of Grantus, a peaceful place under the protection of the affable Gloer the Great who grants Jack shelter, food and a little sparring practice. All in good fun though. The only downside seems to be that the people of Grantus ignore Jack, but Gloer assures him that they’ve been encouraged to ignore strangers until they’ve been around long enough to not be strangers. Everything changes, however, when Aku’s robotic forces attack Grantus and Jack learns the shocking truth about Gloer.

The issues thus far have been worthy successors to Genndy Tartakovsky’s cartoon. Jim Zub has crafted an arc that stays true to the character and his motivations while also giving Jack ample reason to show off his impressive fighting techniques. The shift in medium obviously makes the storytelling process a bit different, requiring more narration and dialogue in cases where the cartoon would have relied on atmosphere and silence. Not that this can’t be accomplished in a comic, but Zub has to work a bit harder to retain the spirit of Jack’s character and the world he inhabits. Thankfully, Zub keeps Jack’s dialogue to a minimum when he can, relying on the dialogue of other characters to fill in the blanks or letting the art of Andy Suriano speak for the comic. Suriano, by the way, knocks it out of the park with his work, which makes sense since he worked on the Samurai Jack cartoon as a character designer. But in the pages of the comic he gets to bring the epicness of Jack’s quest to life. You never doubt this is Samurai Jack and if I can’t have the cartoon, then at least I can have the comic.

Final Thoughts: If you love Samurai Jack, then you should be reading this comic. Try and read the opening segment without hearing the voice of the late Mako as Aku. I dare you!

saga_17-1This was originally posted at Word of the Nerd on December 19th.

I tell myself I’m not going to get emotionally invested in a comic and then what does Brian K. Vaughan do? Kill all your darlings…well played, Mr. Vaughan. Well played.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

In the penultimate issue of the current arc, we finally catch up to where we left off at the end of the last arc. Before that, we get to check in with our journalist couple, Upsher and Doff, who receive an unfortunate visit from The Brand and his partner, Sweet Boy, a demonic-looking Saint Bernard complete with a tiny cask around his neck. The Brand has been hired to silence the reporters. He does, just not in the way you’d expect. Back at the lighthouse, the family of fugitives try to form a plan of escape while Prince Robot IV continues to interrogate a bleeding Heist, unaware that the people he’s hunting are right above him. Gwendolyn and Lying Cat have also caught up to the group, converging on the lighthouse in order to assure that Marko remains alive so he can heal The Will who hasn’t been doing so well since Sophie stabbed him in the neck while under the influence of a planetary hallucinogen. Marko prepares for the worst, implying that he’s willing to kill their daughter in order to save her from the torture she’s most likely to receive. Alana doesn’t see the situation as that extreme, assuring Marko that she’ll do anything to save their daughter, though killing is a step too far. Klara, however, takes matters into her own hands and, of course, this being Saga, nothing ever works neatly, or well.

The focus of Saga has, for the most part, been on Marko and Alana’s love affair and the disruptive nature of two individuals from warring peoples finding a way to be together. They choose not to participate in a war that has destroyed so many lives, but in having a child, they’ve produced proof that union between the armies of Wreath and Landfall is possible. They’ve inadvertently discovered the opposite of war, which, according to Heist’s latest novel of the same name, is sex. Actually, they use a more explicit term, but I’m trying to keep this review as clean as possible considering the subject matter of this issue specifically. Since their arrival on Quietus to visit the author, The Opposite of War has come up a few times in conversation between Heist and his house guests, though it isn’t until Prince Robot points a gun at his head that the author coaxes the answer out of his unwanted home invader.

Heist and Prince RobotWhile we’re conditioned to believe the opposite of war is peace, when Prince Robot is pressed by Heist to tell him where his mind went during one or two of his near death experiences, he reveals that he was involved in an orgy with the men and women he served with in battle, people he loved and respected, though never in a romantic way. It’s worth noting that Fiona Staples renders a very tasteful orgy – a splash page with Prince Robot standing in the center surrounded by the memory of what he experienced. It actually puts a splash page of Prince Robot from issue 12, wounded and possibly dying, into context. On his face is a sex scene, which may be proof of what Heist means. War is an aggressive act of violence but, as Heist says, peace “is just a lull in the action.” Peace time means waiting around for the act of violence, the next battle, the next war. In Heist’s philosophy, sex is the opposite of war because while war is an aggressive act of death and destruction, sex is an aggressive act that creates. It doesn’t have to be a child like Marko and Alana. It could be the creation of anything: love, joy, ecstasy, or just a sense of being part of something else, something that is not entirely you.

It’s a beautiful thought, actually, if only Vaughan didn’t have to go and wreck it with all the other stuff that happens. I swear, Saga is just going to ruin me when it ends someday. Not now, thankfully, but I can only imagine what Vaughan has planned for the long-term.

Final Thoughts: Things are not looking good, but I can’t look away!

Cover 1This was originally published at Word of the Nerd on December 18th.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that James Bond, in all of his adventures, never once used protection when he managed to find some spare time for some frolicking with his female companions and adversaries. What’re the odds that Bond has a slew of kids out in the wings just waiting to meet daddy? In The Illegitimates #1 Taran Killam and Marc Andreyko imagine such a scenario, only our Bond surrogate, Jack Steele, doesn’t exactly get to meet the family.

While on a mission in Ukraine, Steele comes across one of his oldest foes, Dannikor, atop a speeding train. They fight, as per usual, only this time Dannikor finally comes out ahead, so to speak. Distracting Steele long enough, the agent meets his unfortunate end when his head is splattered into gore and grey matter when the train enters a tunnel. Knowing that Dannikor is planning something big, something that would have required the skills of the recently deceased, Olympus, the organization operating under the dual partnership of British and American special forces, fast-tracks Operation Sire. Seeing the potential in Steele’s illegitimate children, Olympus carefully nurtured their hereditary skills. We have Vin Darlington, an American expert marksman, Kiken Kaze, gear head and son of a Yakuza assassin, Saalinge M’Chumba, a South African spy, Leandro Caliestas, a Mexican martial artist/model, and Charlie Lordsley, the brainy daughter of a former temp at Olympus. All of them are ready to be recruited, Olympus just has to make a team out of them. Unfortunately, Dannikor is already aware of the potential threat.

Taran-Killam-Illegitimates-Part of the fun of The Illegitimates are the various scenarios that could very well have been pulled from actual Bond movies. Obviously Killam and Andreyko have done their homework because Steele’s multitude of missions carried out from the ’60s to the present are pitch perfect. Foreign locations, bad guys in need of killing, clever one-liners, scantily dressed women, adversarial women, mercenary-type women…let’s just say there’s a lot of women. I was surprised, though, by how restrained the humor was in this book since Killam is a well-known comedian who most people would recognize from Saturday Night Live. Then again, Killam is credited as the creator and co-writer of the book, so the restraint might be coming from Andreyko, which is smart since a premise like this could easily fall into parody without having any real substance. And there’s no real sense of how the book is going to progress since the first issue is all set up. Steele’s promiscuity is established, he dies, and then we get a splash page per bastard child to explain their skills, the women Steele impregnated, and some beautiful illustrations by Kevin Sharpe depicting milestones in each child’s life. Well, everyone except for Charlie. Sharpe’s art is especially important given the rapid-fire pacing of the story. He conveys movement and action very well with the inks and colors by Diana Greenhalgh and Peter Pantazis, respectively, making the illustrations pop. The cinematic style of the art really reinforces the James Bond homage.

Final Thoughts: It’s time for the family to meet and oh to be a fly on that wall. I can’t wait!

This was previously posted at Word of the Nerd on November 19th.

Presto CoverSometimes it takes a thief to catch a thief, or it takes a thief to catch some back robbers, or it takes a thief to do whatever task is required of her so long as she can have a little fun along the way. This is the world of Bandette, the Eisner award winning book from Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover. The first volume, Presto!, collects chapters 1-5, as well as a number of standalone stories, and presents our leading lady’s adventures as a thief extraordinaire who’s not above calling in reinforcements to help her squash the plans of other, less sophisticated criminals, while rewarding herself with a missing Rembrandt or two for a job well done. If none of that even manages to get you to smile, then this book clearly isn’t for you because Bandette is pure fun wrapped in whimsy, tied up in the slightest bit of self-awareness.

A master thief backed by the power of Presto! Bandette is the bane of Absinthe, a former assassin and the current leader of FINIS – Friends In Need Improvement Society, an organization claiming to help those in need while secretly causing chaos and destruction through public bombings, political manipulation, arms trading, and murder. When Bandette blows their nefarious cover via the local news, she’s warned by a rival thief, Monsieur, that her life is on the line. Undeterred by the threat of death, even after participating in an exceptional fight with FINIS’ greatest, and most feared assassin, Matadori, Bandette is determined to bring FINIS and Absinthe down by allying with Monsieur to steal seven items of great value to their common enemy.

Bandette is a criminal, but she’s the best kind of criminal, one who’s not so evil that she won’t help the police or someone in need should the occasion arise. She also intends to have as much fun as possible while singing her own praises. She’s proud of who she is and what she does, making absolutely no apologies for herself. It also helps that she surrounds herself with her personal band of “urchins” ready to help her at a moments notice while maintaining a precarious relationship with Inspector Belgique. Her world is a colorful homage to multiple influences, the greatest of which is Tin-Tin creator Hergé. The devotion of Tobin and Coover to aping not just the Francophone style but the adventurous spirit of Hergé and other creators of his ilk can’t be ignored. They even throw in a little shout-out to the man in the book, naming the television station that exposes FINIS, HRG-A. Paul Cornell also points out in his foreword that Tobin’s dialogue is so very “French” that one would assume lines like “Now then, I would make you vow to keep my secrets, but you are a cat…and no cat has ever given away a secret.” or “And while a bull is not bandette 4so very wise, I am a monumental genius!” sound as though they’ve been translated for English readers. It’s a testament to Tobin and Coover that they can invoke so much of the Belgian and French style of comics that anyone might mistake their work for the genuine article.

Hergé, however, is only one of several nods to different characters and books that have influenced Bandette. There are shades of Pippi Longstocking, Sherlock Holmes, Scott Pilgrim, and Batman fused into Bandette’s personality and the menagerie of characters surrounding her. This is a character incapable of being caught off guard, she wouldn’t allow such a thing to happen. Bandette is never unprepared, never fazed by the prospect of getting caught by the police or dying at the hands of inferior foes. She and the book she inhabits exudes an atmosphere of joie de vivre. There’s rarely a moment where Bandette isn’t smiling or admonishing others with a sharp, yet hilarious insult as she plots and schemes. Coover’s art keeps the infectiously happy mood alive through the frenetic energy of Bandette. She’s constantly moving about,  jumping from rooftop to rooftop, flipping over gravestones, and doing high wire tricks on a clothesline while having a quasi-romantic lunch with her marvelous and handsome Daniel. It’s as if the book is trying to contain her, but the minute the front cover is opened, she jumps off the page ready to seek out her next great feat of unfathomable thievery.

Final Thoughts: This is a book that should be read by everyone. Young and old, girls and boys, all of them will fall for Bandette!