Retro Comic Review: Valiant Masters: Shadowman Vol. 1

This book collects Shadowman #0-7 from Valiant Comics’ 1992 run and some character info from Darque Passages #1.

Shadowman is an interesting comic. It has a hero in New Orleans, in the Bayou, dealing with the swamp, the nightlife of the city. He’s definitely of that “dark vigilante” bent that came out of Frank Miller’s Batman and Daredevil in the 80s, which has almost become a cliché as we’ve seen every hero go through that phase. I do have to remind that this is from 1992, when these ideas still were fresh to the market, and the changing superhero dynamics show as the character settles into who and what Shadowman is over these issues.

I picked this up because I was so impressed with Valiant’s recent release of X-O Manowar #1 that I wanted to learn about the Valiant comic universe more. When I was a kid, I missed this as my allowance only stretched so far for comic books, and by the time I got older, Valiant comics were out of production. They came back again in 2012 but just crossed my radar recently. Dom over at Heroes and Villains Comics in Pleasanton recommended the new Shadowman from the rebooted 2012 universe, and I wanted to get a sense for who the character was in the beginning.

The book has an array of writers and artists even over the first 7 issues, many co-writing with Jim Shooter, of whom I am a pretty big fan of his Marvel work. It seems like Bob Hall settled in as the regular series writer toward the end (I haven’t researched enough to confirm), and he has a great track record as well.

The book follows Jack Boniface, who is a jazz saxiphone player at a nightclub by trade (a cool profession) who has some strange woman seduce him, and finds himself drugged and thrown into this strange world of shadows. By coincidence or design, when he flees her apartment, he finds a mask which gives him strange powers at night, turning him into Shadowman. The powers and what they do are a bit undeveloped in the first arc here, which we learn a bit more about in the #0 issue and in the summaries at the end of this book, but it’s clear enough that he’s a vigilante with super-strength and speed and that mask sorta takes him over and has a consciousness all of its own.

The first couple stories are Shadowman beating up some baddies – child slave traders, drug dealers, that kind of thing. I sort of liked that we had that real world bent to it where it’s not a strange monster of the week, but he fights actual crime that we’d see.  Each issue does tell its own story, which is nice, and something we don’t get with modern comics. The dialogue, especially internal, can get a bit cheesy at places, definitely an older comic storytelling, but it didn’t throw me out of any of the stories.

What surprised me was the Unity crossover issues – which they flung this character into after only a couple of issues – actually intrigued me. I hate crossover events with the bigger companies, as they often make it very hard to follow what’s going on in the tie-in books. Shadowman here had his own story in the future, got involved, fell in love with this gal Elya in the future over a course of several months there, and then a couple issues later pops back out in the swamp to find that he ahd only been gone a few moments. For the next issue, he pines over Elya, and then I don’t see any more info about here again after that. I am not sure if that gets pursued later, but that would make for quite an excellent storyline in my opinion, having found love in the future and being willing to do anything to get her back. Unfortunately I don’t think there’s any other shadowman collected editions of those comics so I won’t get to find out if they did pursue it.  That was the most interesting storyline of the whole book, and it also gave this looming prophecy that Shadowman would be killed in 1999, which is interesting.

I mentioned Shadowman’s powers and history gets retroactively developed in later issues and the #0, where we meet this evil spirit-vampire-something dude Darque who has been plaguing humanity for ages. He has a sister who’s involved in the occult, and they appear to be pretty interesting characters and foils for Shadowman as well. With the end of the collection, we see their origin in a sense, but we don’t see how the character plays out for Shadowman and how important he is. Judging from the 2012 reboot, I’m guessing Darque played a big role in later comics as well.

The art is of varying quality, something I’d just say is “okay” for the early 90s, and wouldn’t be all that acceptable today. I know Steve Ditko did some work, which is nice, but a lot of the drawings look a little stiff and there’s too much of a grit-teeth factor for realistic faces and the like. I notice a lot of the action kinda happens “between panels” too like we’ll see Shadowman leaping, next panel the baddie is down. It takes away some of the tension because of that.

I also don’t know if the original colors were like this or if it’s just a bad scan – but the whole book comes off as a little grainy and not right. It’s still readable and legible, but definitely gives an appearance of lower quality than the outside jacket which looks awesome.

Overall, I enjoyed Shadowman, had fun with the book. I like the character and the world and I would read another collection if this if there was one, mostly to find out what the deal is with Elya from the future.   7/10 overall.

A Reading From The Book of Jonah

Pastor Tyler Scott at Community Presbyterian Church had such a great message yesterday, I thought I would share this morning. The context is a reading of the book of Jonah, chapter two, of which we get this beautiful passage:

1 [a]From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said:

“In my distress I called to the Lord,

    and he answered me.

From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,

    and you listened to my cry.

3 You hurled me into the depths,

    into the very heart of the seas,

    and the currents swirled about me;

all your waves and breakers

    swept over me.

4 I said, ‘I have been banished

    from your sight;

yet I will look again

    toward your holy temple.’

5 The engulfing waters threatened me,[b]

    the deep surrounded me;

    seaweed was wrapped around my head.

6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;

    the earth beneath barred me in forever.

But you, Lord my God,

    brought my life up from the pit.

7 “When my life was ebbing away,

    I remembered you, Lord,

and my prayer rose to you,

    to your holy temple.

8 “Those who cling to worthless idols

    turn away from God’s love for them.

9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,

    will sacrifice to you.

What I have vowed I will make good.

    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

Jonah acknowledges his now failures and turns to God, praising Him for not only the good things that have come about in his life, but also for God’s discipline which he’s instilled. God is not only gracious and generous, but also steady in discipline, which Pastor Scott likened to good parenting. When we go astray, He comes to open our eyes. It may look harsh, it may not be what we want, but the fact that we have a God willing to do that to make sure we are on the right path is very beautiful. Sometimes, it takes a hard moment for us to be jolted and understand what God’s will is, and it’s a reminder that in those moments we should praise Him, not curse Him.  Food for thought on a Monday morning. 

Cernovich on FAKE NEWS 60 Minutes Tonight

I for one am very excited. We know how this goes. News media acts like they take an idea (like my very verifiable story about Marvel comics), selectively edits and then completely twists what’s being said in order to attempt to destroy and discredit the person. They ignore the real story, but the thing is — the readers and viewers don’t. We are picking off a few here and few there every time. Reasonable, sane people who aren’t all for their cause see “there’s something wrong here” and read what we say in earnest, and over time, support us, because we’re honest.

Author Jon Mollison noted on social media about me: “he’s like the social media Hulk. That only makes him stronger!” – this applies to Cernovich 100-fold, as he’s far more adroit than I am at this game, and been at it longer than I am.

They’ll blast Cernovich with all sorts of lies or misrepresentations of what he says tonight, just As Bleeding Cool and File 770 did to me. Every time they do it though, they discredit themselves and give us more of a voice. I can’t wait to watch, as Cernovich calls it, their “selectively edited interview.”  Tune in.

Kong: Skull Island

This triggered me. Triggered me so hard in the heart. Because I miss that gorilla, okay? Harmabe, up in heaven, if this movie isn’t a testament to you and your sacrifice, I don’t know what is. He was a good gorilla.

Anyhow…I don’t get to go see many movies, other than Pixar or little kiddie ones these days, as I have two little children who don’t really allow much time out to do such things. But I had a surprise babysit last night, so my wife and I went out to the theater, some thing we haven’t done in a long time. Kong wasn’t on my radar at all, having seen a single trailer awhile back and dismissed it, until author Dan Humphreys talked about how much he enjoyed the movie. That made me interested.

Even though this was at its core a monster movie, this had the makings of a classic adventure film that ended up being a lot more fun than most movies I’ve seen in recent years. The characters were likable, and had a lot of difference between them, which was neat having several main characters. We had the poindexter, the beefy adventurer, the good and the bad of the military, the girl who’s got both brains and beauty, the quirky Fox Mulder guy, the even quirkier soldier out of time. All of them were great, and i was happy to watch it from the standpoint of who the heroes are.

The film provided adventure at every level, and a lot of little fun one liners to show they weren’t taking a giant gorilla too seriously. There were good comedic moments, good character moments and heavy monster action. Of course there were times where it’s tense and has the audience jumping as well, but overall, I was happy to see that this movie wasn’t really dark. It just provided a lot of fun.

I think it probably could have been 10-15 minutes shorter, went on for a little bit too long and really worked hard to reinforce things like THESE MONSTERS ARE SCARY, which we already knew, didn’t need like 5 scenes of that.  KONG HAS TENDER SIDE… they did a few times as well. So a little repetitive in spots on the pacing, but it didn’t negatively impact the movie much. CGI of course was over the top, but that’s to be expected there days.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. They did a great job where I was expecting something not up to par. And there are some Harambe parallels, but I’ll not spoil those for you.

The Triumph /pol/ Special Forces: Pepe Team 6

There is an unbelievable amount of Kekistaniphobia out there, believe me. It’s some of the worst hate and bigotry anyone could imagine. Kek is strong, and its power intensifies every time. It doesn’t stop the hate, however. It got so bad that a prominent political campaign tried to defame this entire group of people, and they lost as they concentrated all of their efforts on that nutty stuff instead of, you know, real stuff like jobs. Green frogs are people too, okay?  #DiversityMakesUsStronger or something.

We are still in the midst of fallout from the Great Meme War of 2016, where /pol/ forces liberated the United States and Great Britain from evil masterminds set on global domination. After a Shock and Awe operation, it takes time to secure the peace and turn many of these hateful insurgents back into normal people again.

This all began when Shia LaBeouf put up a totally Kekistani discriminatory exhibit called “He Will not Divide Us” where losers could come on youtube and cry 24-7. This was infiltrated by /pol/ agents, taking over the screen with MAGA hats and happy people who enjoy life and aren’t total losers. Naturally, the stream was taken down to avoid further embarrassment to the #resist crowd, who have seemed to impact literally nothing except to provide me lawlz.

What happened next was the Shia put a HWNDU flag up top a flagpole somewhere, and 4Chan used their CIA-level skills to track that flag down, and replace it with a Pepe shirt and MAGA Hat.  

The third action of /pol/ to secure the peace was a on a different front. Some “art” exhibit went up of a little girl staring down the Wall St. Bull… as if to make some sort of communist messaging out of that as well. I’m not sure what the obsession of these #resist types are of little children (PIZZAGATE!) but it seems to be consistent, even in their art. Naturally, that was MAGA-hatted several times as well.

And then, in yet another act of terrorism against the people of Kekistan, Shia put up the HWNDU flag in yet another undisclosed location. Would this time work? Would he finally triumph in striking fear into the poor, war ravaged (from the great meme war) Kekistani people?

Shia certainly got bold with such a proclamation. He remained defiant, despite the great losses that his native land of Cuckistan has taken in this war. But he forgot one important thing: the forces of Kek are all powerful. They have the power to bend reality, change it, alter timelines.  /pol/ worked hard, and sent their best special forces team ever: Pepe Team 6, to end this terrible tragedy once and for all.  The terrorist flag location was found, and a strike was ordered.

A rare photo of Pepe Team 6 member, hard at work for the nation of Kekistan:

And thus, Pepe Team 6 was triumphant. For Kekistan, for /pol/ for all of us. You can rest safely, knowing that in this great and dangerous war, /pol/ remains undefeated in capture the flag.

thank you diligent journalists @pizzapartyben and @polnewsnetwork1 for providing some of this information.

 

So, I Watched The Dave Chappelle Netflix Special Last Night…

…It was absolutely hilarious. I saw Mr. Chappelle at a really small venue in 2008 in San Francisco, one of the few times I’ve ever made an effort to actually go out to a comedy show. I wasn’t disappointed. His gift for comedy is unsurpassed, and he literally took questions from the audience and made up the material on the spot. His wit is incredible.

Just another example that SJWs can’t even have a second of fun in their lives without going off the rails. Eat your own for not being “pure” enough, see how many of you are left afterward. Bad look when you literally can’t take a joke.

Steampunk or Space Opera or…

Periodically, I get advised that I should stick to one “genre”, and that to really do well consistently and long term that that’s the way to go as an author. That can be true to some extent. I have a friend who sold incredibly well with a non-fiction memoir book, and then when he wrote some Hunter S. Thompson drug adventure story, it didn’t perform at nearly the same level. The writing didn’t get any worse, in fact, as he wrote more his craft improved at least to my eyes. But his audience from the first didn’t translate over to the second.

In an ideal world, I would have Star Realms 2 or another space opera adventure ready to go for you, my dear readers. While I have some of that written to various stages, I do have a Steampunk which is 90% through a third draft, well done, a really gripping adventure story and I think my best work to date.  It is a different genre though, or is it?

I think when you get into Space Opera, you’re already far enough away from “hard science fiction” that your audience pretty much overlaps with any form of fantasy already. So many books bend genre conventions as it is (like Brian Nemeier’s trilogy, which has a lot of horror elements and space opera in it), that they came up with another title “speculative fiction” to encompass everything that’s created in it. I feel at home and a kindred spirit with writers of Sci-Fi, Fantasy or Horror, and a lot of writers I know are active in all three.

As a consequence, For Steam And Country should translate very well for the vast majority of my readership from Star Realms: Rescue Run.

However, I did have a fun conversation with Robert Kroese, author of the hot new novel, Aye Robot, the other day about this very topic. I got to talking with him, and said, “you know, Space Opera and Steampunk aren’t all that different. Structurally, the plots go the same. A hero takes off for adventure, epic battles ensue. And if you look at things, they aren’t all that different in anything except naming conventions.”

I elaborate for you, dear readers:

Starship = Airship

Stardrive = Steam Engine

Advanced Medical Unit = aether potion

Phase Pistol = pistol

Laser Sword = Sword

Military Uniform = Military Uniform.

Ocular Implants = Goggles or Monocle

The list can go on fairly easily. But in any action/adventure story you’ll have pretty similar even if the terms change.

To which, Mr. Kroese said, “Why don’t you release the novel in 3 forms and just change the words?”

I laughed pretty hard at this, but in all honestly it’s not a bad idea. It’s pretty easy to convert something to space, or the third option he proposed, convert to fantasy. I don’t feel like doing that for my steampunk release, but “choose your own setting” could actually be pretty fun for readers. Not that all of my details are completely interchangeable. There are some items that would be pretty hard to shift in this particular book, but the basic conventions above aren’t all that different. You wouldn’t see a lot of my Steampunk universe that could compare to Star Realms for example, but at that point you’re getting into deeper setting and things that matter much more than the surface coat of “what sub-genre is this?”

Though now that I think about it, maybe if White Wizard Games gets enough interest, they might put out a Steam Realms… hmm…

To my friend above, I think the transition between non-fiction and fiction by be a bit larger of a gap to cross. It’s quite different than exploring different facets of speculative fiction, however. The moral of the story is, whether space or fantasy, airships or sailing ships, if your characters are good, and your storytelling quality is there, there’s no reason to be afraid of trying different things.

 

 

Comic Review: XO Manowar #1

XO Manowar #1 came out yesterday, a relaunch by Valiant comics who already relaunched the 90s property in 2012, which from my cursory look on the internet met with great reviews. I’ve actually never read either prior incarnation of XO Manowar, and am coming at this as a new reader, which probably is most helpful in a review for potential new readers.  My cousin had the #1 variant back in the 90s, shiny cover as I recall (I could be wrong, it was the 90s) but I never picked it up, already having my budget in comics extended far more than it should have been. I’m not sure why I missed the original relaunch, but I did, and it looks like it had a pretty successful run.

This new incarnation is written by Matt Kindt and drawn by Tomas Giorello, neither of whom I knew much about before yesterday and doing a cursory google search. Frankly, I think the time is ripe for Valiant to be doing a relaunch of something anyone might have remotely heard of from the 90s. Going into comic shops lately has left me scratching my head. I’ve been STARVED for something new to read that catches my eye. I saw the work via Twitter that Valiant was doing by supporting local comic shops and really getting out there for retailers, and, as the former owner of a comic shop myself, that impressed me as well. The team looks like good, intelligent people. The kind I like to support. The question is, how is the actual comic itself?

What drew me in was the cover. The bright yellow with the huge logo and a Star Wars/ Princess of Mars style art on the cover that screams classic adventure sci-fi to me. It’s gorgeous, bright, fills me with anticipation to open up the book.

Inside, it starts with a scene of a guy who’s kinda “retired” from adventuring, farming, just doing his thing. It reminds me a bit of Rogue One’s opening where the bad guys flood in and force the guy back to work. This had the guy forced into military service. We see within the first few pages the guy is strong, cautious, wise, has a history of adventuring with some weird gadget thing, is alpha and good at getting the girl (even ones with tails…) and someone you generally want to root for as a reader. The army looks like a cool sci-fi group, further reminding me of Princess of Mars or classic adventure fiction.  I like how the aliens refer to him as “Aric of Urth” which if you say it out loud makes sense how it would be twisted like that by a foreign culture.

Adventure ensues, as our hero goes into a hopeless suicide mission of a military situation, people dying all around him, he runs a gauntlet of death and cool sci-fi devices against aliens, with a hopelessly undermatched group. He uses both his wit and strength to guide him through the situation, totally as a solo individual and without some powers, which I assume are going to come later through the mysterious orb that was introduced in the book. It’s somewhat decompressed like modern comics, building to a trade sized story for sure, but at the same time I feel like I did get a full helping of story, unlike a lot of comics these days. It helps that they did a 40-page issue—and my first thought was how are they going to make money at $3.99 with this any pages?  Perhaps it’s meant to be a loss leader, but I was happy with how much I got on the story front. Kindt did a fantastic job of providing real adventure, bringing me back to the golden age of sci-fi storytelling that makes me yearn for more.

The art is great as well. I would say this is completely top notch, far better than I would have expected from a small publisher. It outdoes most Marvel/DC books I saw on the shelves. Good expressions, great detail work, wonderful shading and lighting effects. The artist drew some super creative gadgets and aliens too which look fantastic, unique and memorable. I really couldn’t have asked for better on this book.

Overall, it’s just a teaser of a story. We have our hero operating without his powers, running the gauntlet, being called back into action, and we’re still waiting for more. It’s a little tough to judge until the full arc comes about, but if Kindt continues with the brilliant adventure fiction as this book gave us a glimpse of, with homages and respect for the past pulp era, I think we may have 2017’s best comic book on our hands. As a new reader who’s never looked at Valiant or XO Manowar before, I was given enough info for this to be a perfect starting point, and the story gripped me from there.

Appendix N and #PulpRevolution people – this is the horse we should bet on. I think XO Manowar may be right up our alley, and highly suggest you take a look for yourself. Even though I said in past blogs I’m done with pamphlet comics with the way trades have taken over, I can’t wait for #2.

How To Spot FAKE NEWS

First of all, I would like to congratulate Castalia House for trolling so hard, so funnily, that Amazon itself seems to be thrown into turmoil as separate employees keep putting their most recent book up and bringing it back down, as if no one can decide whether they should “punish” the publisher. They’re also due a congratulations for being so effective, that they’re making the typical shill news:

https://io9.gizmodo.com/amazon-pulls-castalia-house-book-for-ripping-off-john-s-1793533638

“Amazon Pulls Castalia House Book For Ripping Off John Scalzi.”

Well, that’s one way to put it. The reality is, when you’ve followed this situation since day one, that Castalia House put up a parody, mocking Scalzi’s late book to Tor, with a similar concept below the surface, which they, as an indie publisher were able to produce faster, better and get it released actually prior to Scalzi’s book. Tor threw a fit because their top author was getting made fun of, and pressured Amazon into taking it down.

Then they got it back up, because they were ready for that.

Then Amazon took it back down again.

Over a joke. Only an idiot would have mistaken Johan Kalzi and the “More Asimov than Asimov” labeled as “An Interstellar Science Fiction Epic In Space” as the actual work. That’s the point. Of course, Tor and Amazon want to presume their clients, their readers are all actually idiots. This is a hallmark of typical condescension from the establishment bloated companies that try to take down nimble, independent, competent members of the new media.

Old and busted. New hotness. In a nutshell.

And all they can do is run to their friends in the media to complain about it, as their sales decrease because people are sick of their blackballing and shunning their values, and second their shameful tactics of taking to the media like this and lying outright.

This is the same problem we see across the spectrum. It’s an example, a parable, a metaphor for every other piece of FAKE NEWS you see. It takes time to learn to spot this kind of thing, but once you do, you can see it everywhere. And it is everywhere. You saw this happen to me exactly just a couple days ago when I, your humble nimble and competent independent writer, blew the whistle on GIANT MEGACORPORATE DISNEY SUPERHERO DIVISION, and how their media friends responded.

I promised to teach you how to spot it.

If it’s about Donald Trump or Vox Day or Me, and it isn’t linked or sanctioned by us or one of our friends, it’s FAKE NEWS. They are lying about what we said for some agenda. They may even use actual words out of context to do so, but there is a context to it, and you shouldn’t believe it.