A Second Alt-Hero Novel Is A Go!

It’s been part of the stretch goals, but I haven’t wanted to talk about it much until it was a sure thing, but I am now contracted for not one but TWO Alt-Hero novels for this cool project that keeps expanding, keeps getting better, and is fast becoming an intellectual property to be reckoned with by the giants.

This is one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns for a comic in history, and it is a big historical landmark, despite the fact that it’s getting ZERO press from media outlets. That so much could be raised for such a project is absolutely amazing in and of itself.

God has blessed me so much so far on this writing journey, and I’m thankful every day, not just for his love and grace — but for cool friends like Vox Day and Chuck Dixon who have been so supportive along the way. I look forward to bringing you a couple of great books in the near future, and thank you everyone for reading and being here. I’m thankful for you too!

If you haven’t backed yet, check out the project here. And remember to click the ebook option at $5! If you backed the comic you do have to back again (think of it as a stretch goal) to get the pre-order of the book-book.

Alt★Hero Volumes I, II, and III

 

Chuck Dixon To Join Alt-Hero Team!

I’m frankly more excited about this than my own involvement. It’s a stretch goal that needs to be met, but Chuck Dixon has been brought in to write issues 7-9 of Alt-Hero.

If you’re not familiar with comics, Chuck is one of the most prolific and most highly regarded writers in the comic industry. He has written for a smattering of Batman titles as well as the Punisher. His bibliography is too long to list. He also has a great action series of novels that I highly recommend checking out. He’s probably best known for creating the Batman villain, Bane.

I’ve been reading Chuck’s work almost all my life, and this really turns Alt-Hero into something big and reshaping of the professional comic industry. My fondest memory of Chuck’s work is the character of Stephanie Brown — also his creation, who was a struggling superhero Spoiler. Her original story was one of overcoming sins of the father, and pushing forward to create her own destiny despite the odds. A great concept. She was some of the biggest inspiration for my own first foray into comics and my superhero, Meta-Girl. Stephanie went on to become Robin, despite all the legacy heroes telling her no, she couldn’t do it, she wasn’t capable. She fought hard to prove them wrong every step of the way — and eventually became Batgirl. Stephanie’s story a nice metaphor for how the alt-hero process is going in a lot of ways, and we owe it all to Chuck Dixon.

Don’t forget to back. This now is the biggest possible message to send to the comic industry, and it’s gonna be a great product with a lot of fun. If you want my novel, it’s the $5 mark, and Chuck’s will be with the digital content on the comics side. You can make multiple pledges (think of it like add ons for kickstarter) to get the different various works:

Alt★Hero Volumes I, II, and III

Marvel Uses Stan Lee As Shield For Their Hate

This actually would have been a great example for the increased vitriol I was talking about in my last blog post, but I just saw this video Marvel released, where they had a very old and frail looking Stan Lee talk about how Marvel “always has touched on cultural issues” — a standard mantra I see whenever SJWs attempt to turn a once fun entertainment industry into their own personal culture war weapon.

The video goes on where Stan condemns “bigotry and hate.”

I don’t even know if Stan is paying attention to the current sorry state of Marvel Comics, or how far Marvel has gone in signalling both in their comics or via what their writers say in terms of how much they hate half the country, but this was clearly scripted, and it clearly wasn’t penned by him.

In recent weeks, Marvel writers have all gone on “autoblockers”, ensuring that fans can’t read their content if they follow certain comic reviewers. It’s that big of bigotry by these writers that if you like an unapproved comic reviewer, they don’t want your business. Spider-Man writer Dan Slott has even posted on twitter that he doesn’t care about sales, he’d rather signal his hate over and over and keep his sales low. They don’t care about the beloved characters they work on, they only care about hating you.

It’s ironic, in a talk about bigotry, that I asked Dan Slott if we were going to get a special Spider-Man President Trump issue like we had for Obama. They made a big deal out of that election,  put Obama on the cover and had a whole issue about how historic and wonderful it was. Of course, it’s just about love of country, right? We should get one for the current president if they’re not playing politics. His response?

And as we know, we have industry professionals attempting to conspire against reviewers they don’t like to goad into violence. That’s how much intolerance and bigotry comes from Marvel Comics itself. SJWs Always project.

This video is actually probably the most offensive thing Marvel has done. As if taking beloved children’s superheroes and turning them into social justice farces that don’t have anything to do with their former nostalgic connections wasn’t enough, now they double down by justifying the way creators are lambasting their fans and half the country on a regular basis, by taking a revered old man and using him as a human shield for their poor product.

It’s too far. As if the fake #MakeMineMIlkshake controversy wasn’t enough, as if their bad message fiction that parents can’t let their kids read because it’s so bizarre and graphic wasn’t over the line, this is about it.

And this is why we need more alternatives like Alt-Hero. At this point, it’s fans sending a message “no more.” And we need to do that if we’re going to get this industry back to being the fun zany adventures of fictional characters who can do amazing things that it used to be. It used to be about imagination, and as Stan Lee said, heroism. now it’s about telling the fans they hate them.

If you enjoy my blog content, check out my new fun short-book, Gravity Of The Game, available on Amazon now.

Comic Review: X-O Manowar #7

Aric has donned the X-O armor up to the shoulders now, and is regularly wearing it, despite the fact that he spends time talking to the armor and telling it how it is simply a tool (poor good skin!). He’s uncovered in quick fashion that the plot of the general to bring in this monolith to subdue the Burnt had more to the equation, that the emperor made a deal with the aliens, in exchange for an artifact in his palace tower. He leads soldiers into epic battle, but is facing multiple fronts and is forced to choose which is the best course of action for the planet.

Story wise, it may be  the best issue so far. This isn’t a comic that you’re getting a big twist from, it’s not set up like a mystery reveal, but it’s interesting the way Kindt set up world-building reveals in every issue. The plot is simple — very action/adventure pulp, and that’s very fitting for a Conan The Barbarian In Space Armor story. It feels perfect for the character and the book.

It’s both extremely fast paced and yet still manages to be very single-issue contained for storylines. Each issue so far has been an escalating battle. First at a unit level, then into full armies, and now even against space invaders. It makes you wonder if the ante can really keep being upped every issue, but he’s managed to do so through seven issues so far. That’s what’s impressed me really is the fast pace and the single-issue storytelling (even though it does build into a larger arc). It’s very different than most modern comics.

The issue also has a side story, one that’s being told of the day’s events, and you can actually go back through and read the dialogue boxes in this issue by themselves (I did and I recommend doing so) after it’s done for a different perspective of the read. It’s extremely detailed and hard worked on in that regard.

Speaking of extremely detailed, it’s time to talk Clayton Crain, whose digital art graces this issue. I really loved Tomas Giorello’s original run and thought in many ways issues 4-6  with Doug Braithwaite surpassed that. Crain’s style is very much his own, you can see it on any book he touches. It’s extremely intricately painted, and beautiful on that level. I think it fit the scope of the alien invasion well and is beautiful to look at all the details within the panels. I’m a big fan and I thought the issue flowed fine like that. I did see it mentioned that it was a little tough to follow, as it’s so complicated at times with the frazzled, dark space battles it can get hard to read. This is something that happens in Crain books which I’ve seen a bit of. I believe it’s from the overuse of dark saturated colors, and a little brightness and less saturation would fix those issues, but this is his stylistic choice. It’s correct that because of that it’s not perfect, but the design of the aliens, the intricate details of every figure are so beautiful, that it may take a sec to focus and really absorb what’s going on, but it’s incredible work.

Overall, the storyline is getting even more compelling than before, even as of issue #7. It would be fine to jump on with this issue alone, but still better with the first six issues as a backdrop. If there’s one complaint I have, it’s that the wall-to-wall action doesn’t leave a ton of room for character development. There were only a couple of panels of those moments and I’d love to actually get to know some of this cast that gets explained in the opening credits every issue. There’s still not a ton of reason to care about many of them. But there are a limit to pages, and to keep this pace in which i love so much there definitely have to be some sacrifices… just like Aric has to make whenever he goes into battle (thematic!). Conclusion: Aric Rules!

10/10


Comic Review: Bloodshot: Salvation #1

Bloodshot is a character from Valiant Comics who is kind of like a cross between Punisher and Wolverine. An experiment from a secret military organization, Bloodshot is infused with nanites that make him a killing machine and give him regeneration powers.
This book continues with the feel of Bloodshot: Reborn, much more than the crazy/zany epic Bloodshot USA mini-series that directly preceded it. I would recommend reading both (no need for the 2012 Bloodshot series which doesn’t really have the same feel) before getting into this. Bloodshot has a baby and him and his girl Magic are on the run, trying to live normal lives. There’s a project omen happening from the evil government mooks and Magic’s father is a weird creepy dude who’s calling and saying awful things to her. It went back and forth between now and a “soon” when baby bloodshot is a bit older, an interesting way of doing things, will have to see how that develops.Characters great. I love it all. I didn’t love the fighting between Magic/Bloodshot but these are messed up characters so it’s fitting with the way they are. I kinda want my heroes a little more heroic when it comes to home life, but that’s a personal preference. Though nothing BAD happened, there were points where it made me uncomfortable. But… that’s a testament to how much I care about the characters, so maybe it’s a plus.

Pacing was a bit slower than the last Bloodshot series. Bloodshot: Reborn did open with pacing like this, but part of it felt like it moved a little more quickly. Maybe it’s the now/soon vs. the way the Reborn plot had an FBI element to it that was intriguing. I’m ready for a return to real action after that introspective run, however. Bloodshot USA really pushed the action and it got me itching for it. I’d dock a couple points here on that level

I’m a -bit- worried about political signalling. It’s not all that bad but there’s mentions of racial killings, the bad father is of course a church leader of some sort (was clarified with cult but still ehhh…). Nothing really bothersome like we see from Marvel but I hope it doesn’t mean the books’s going there in the future. Lemire did say in an interview with Newsarama that he meant to go further, but dialed it back in later drafts. I think that was a smart choice if that’s the case. We need less political nonsense in comics. As it is, no points docked but I’m paying attention on that level because I think there were 3 lines of it — one or two is easy to glance over once it’s three it’s a pattern, something I pick up when I’m editing as a writer.

The art is fabulous. I love the style. Love Lewis LaRosa. This is top notch and it’s where Valiant books have been standing out above Marvel/DC lately. Nothing negative there. There’s a bit much on the talking heads back and forth layout wise but I think that’s a script issue getting back to the pacing more than anything to do with the artist.

Overall, solid start. I’m definitely interested in more though part of that is trusting Lemire to wow me like he did in Bloodshot: Reborn.

8/10

Comic Review: Golgatha

I picked this up because I saw a kickstarter that had a science fiction comic, and those are pretty rare. It looked very heavy on the SF, which I was excited about. So how did the story break down?

Golgatha is the story of colonists who get sent on a mission to colonize a new world on a sleeper ship. When they get there 80 years later, they find that there’s already a robust colony set up, and that technology was discovered that surpassed where they were at, making them redundant. The world promises to be different and disorienting, and conceptually, what a cool idea. Unfortunately the book breaks down from there.

There’s four parts here, four issues, and the first whole issue is spent on showing us a character who is really dark, did some dark things for the military, and basically is getting forced away from his home after his wife disowns him. That’s the main crux of it, not much sci-fi at all. This is very much too dark for my tastes, and the pacing and way it played out reminded me of those mid-90s comics that tried really hard to be edgy. I ended up liking the character well enough to continue.

Now on the kickstarter and on a full page here — we get introduced to this crew of this sleeper colony who has all these skills, do different things and…. then never appear in the issue. The colony ship crashes and so the promise set up by these introductions evaporates immediately. We’re reintroduced to the “you’ve been gone a long time…” new cast, and find out that the head of the world is the main character’s grandson.

Now the colony is huge, like a big city, and… we don’t get to see much of it. We’re told there’s a culture that’s very different, told there’s no place for soldiers anymore (later there are soldiers and battle drones). We never see anything, however.

A crisis gets explained to us in issue 2, where someone basically suicide bombed the city, and we don’t really get much clear explanation of that other than the colony leader’s ex wife disappeared years ago after finding some “anomaly.” Another interesting premise, cool concept, and comes back with some poor execution. We get a lot of talking, a romantic plot that doesn’t quite work out with the only other survivor of the colony ship (the others I guess died after that intro page) and a really slow build. These first two issues could have been used to set a way more epic stage for issues 3 and 4, or show us some of the culture of Golgatha, something.  The character set up was fine but I keep seeing “oh this is cool…” and then it misses the cool parts.

In issue 3, they set out to find the lost ex-wife of the colony leader, they find her after a little bit of cool action, and it gets kinda cool again. A small twist is set up and I’ll try not to spoil it. From this point on, the story flowed pretty nicely, albeit still with some pacing issues to the more interesting elements of the story.

The action was very light, the promise of “needing a soldier” — well they didn’t really need one. The main character could have had any background and really done fine with what was thrown in front of him. The scientist that also stated how smart she was several times, and also went in some weird Bhuddism stuff… also wasn’t really needed. She could have not existed in the story and it would have proceeded fine, and maybe given some more pages to try to flesh out some of the cool alien stuff, the cool world, and the cool missing doctor influenced by the anomaly stuff a bit more.

While I hit the pacing for several pages of talking that didn’t go anywhere, some odd religious references that didn’t quite feel natural, introducing some concepts (like the colony’s AI) that didn’t really get used for much, it did flow very well. I read this very fast and in one sitting, so the comic didn’t drag, despite its diversions.

The story was alright at the end, and though I really picked it apart. I didn’t hate it. I don’t regret reading, and it wasn’t boring for the most part. And most importantly — there were no politics in it! It just went on a lot of little tangents that didn’t come anywhere near to fruition, and hit a lot of backstory that really didn’t matter to the plot. The side vignettes in the kickstarter version are pretty interesting, enjoyed those, but the “science “content at the end was skippable.

Art wise… it looked like a high quality web comic, though not really the standard with which I was used to whenever I picked up a Top Cow book. It was fine, serviceable, but some of the colors blurred in the cooler moments — like when they were falling into the chasm, and it wasn’t as evocative of action in those points where I would have liked. It just came off a little flat, which didn’t help with the oddly paced storytelling.

I don’t love blasting things I read, and sometimes I just choose not to write reviews because of that, but, it’s on my mind, and unfortunately, I also have in my mind what I’d have done to fix it if I had written it. The issue does end with a cool action sequence and some changes that are interesting — and a really intriguing concept again for a promised volume 2. The concepts are cool all around, and they have a lot of them, I just think this needed a lot more tightening up at the end of the day.

6/10

X-O Manowar 2012 Run (Vol 1-13) Reflections

Mild spoilers for anyone who’s reading through this. Nothing big though.

I caught up on X-O Manowar, which was just relaunched a few months ago, written by Matt Kindt. The current iteration I found so beautiful that I wanted to go back and see the history of the character, which was rebooted with the rest of Valiant in 2012. The series had 50 issues plus several one shot side stories, and overall, was very intriguing.

It started with a character who’s pulled from Roman times, as an alien race called The Vine is seeding and harvesting worlds for slaves, of which Aric is brought to the vine world. Our hero starts a rebellion and discovers the Manowar armor, which is a holy relic of the vine. He fights his way out, and some of the vine start to hail him religiously as a chosen one, others see him as blasphemy. Epic battles ensue, and he comes back to Earth only to find that he’s now in modern times with his armor, that his people have no home.

After a lot that I’ll gloss over, Aric and his Visigoth people sset up shop in Nebraska and some good superhero/sci-fi tales get told from there. I enjoyed probably 2/3 of the series (which is pretty good for 50 issues).

Toward the end of the run, the last 25% of the books or so, the quality went back and forth. The art maintained its standards, which is nice, but the writing suffered from a couple of problems:

  1. “Save the world” syndrome – where each arc progressively saves the world from a more dangerous threat. This happens a lot in comic runs, and it takes a lot of the suspense out of later battles because he’s already fought the epic destruction machine that devours worlds, so seeing one again doesn’t ring in the same way on the second or third times. Maintaining discipline of not going to these kind of arcs is really hard, though it can be done, or having more personal developments in between help as well. Granted we did get a little of that with the wedding, but after that it went back to full tilt.
  2. Reliance on comic tropes. At points, X-O became Green Lantern. They even put in an XO corps kind of deal in a couple of different ways. There was a galactus villain. Once back on earth, it became Agents of SHIELD only not. What had a lot of unique premises got brought into the Marvel/DC way of doing things, which made the book lose a lot of its charm in the closing chapters.

Even with those, as I said, most of the arcs were completely satisfying. Vendetti did a great job with it, so much so that I checked out his Green Lantern run (which writing both might be why this storyline kinda blended at points).

The big thing that disappointed me, however, was that it didn’t answer any of my questions from the new run. The armor in the new run sorta has a way of speaking/calling to Aric, which the powers of it in this universe are pretty undeveloped. We see the whole paff thing when he fires his little bolts, an occasional laser sword which isn’t explained how he figured out how to do that, flying, some invulnerability, but because of the lack of definition and limits, it hurts some suspension as well in stories, but I’m still more concerned about how it really didn’t lead up to the relaunch.

That goes from the character standpoint too. We see a tired warrior in the new X-O. Aric is depressed, wants nothing to do with anything, but slaughters mercilessly. This wasn’t where he was left off at all in the prior run. The prior run didn’t prepare for that in the least. What happened to his wife, his people that caused this? I was hoping to get a few of those answers, and was braced for some really emotional moments at the end of this run that never came to fruition. The last 8 issues or so just were battle to battle to battle that didn’t have much in the way of emotional impact, some of the weakest in the series even though it resolved a lot of the vine conflict.

I’m complaining a lot, as comic book readers tend to do, but I have to iterate that this is one of the best superhero stories I’ve read in a long time by leaps and bounds, with the new issues even surpassing that so far. I hope we can see a little bit more character development as the new books have gone a bit fast, and there’s a lot of explaining to do which hasn’t been done yet in terms of what happened here.

We’ll have to see how it goes. Even though it was darn good, I was hoping for that little bit more that would have pushed this run to greatness.

8/10

Comic Review: X-O Manowar #3

Some spoilers ahead, though I left out a couple crucial details to ensure the story is still enjoyable to those who pick this up.

X-O Manowar #3 picks up right where #2 left off, with Aric preparing for an outright assault on the President of the other faction. It starts out with this pretty montage with guest art by David Mack, as it’s explained how cruel and awful these people are in the way they treat “inferior” species, both using them in slavery and tinkering with different species genetics to keep them down. It’s jarring and makes a reader care for this war that hadn’t been explained too much to this point.

Then Aric goes to track the president down and we get thrust into the intense action that’s defined the first couple of issues. After reading a lot more of Kindt’s work between Issue 1 and now, I see that Kindt made a purposeful choice to let the beautiful art of Tomas Giorello breathe, which I appreciate. The scenery is so detailed, so many different alien concepts, Giorello really did more for this arc than I’ve seen an artist do for the vast majority of comics I read. He worked extremely hard and it shows. Giorello’s art has some of the best pages in this issue of the run so far.

The side Aric is on then bombards the city before Aric and his team can get out, betraying them, the end result of the rivalry with the Captain from prior issues. This gets resolved in an extremely satisfying manner, which I’ll leave for readers to discover.

There’s a couple pages of Aric’s internal dilemmas, as he talks to the armor. The armor attempts to woo him further and what’s interesting is I expected wholly that Aric would don it by this point, and was surprised that he didn’t. Which I’m okay with, I’m very much enjoying Aric Warrior adventures as it is, but this is an intriguing plot thread I hope gets more pages dedicated to it in the next arc.

I’m just as excited as I was in issue 1. Each issue has been packed so far, hits story points, sets up the next. This first arc of three issues really nailed all the high points that make me want to read comics. 10/10

Comic Review: Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth Vol. 1

What’s interesting about the DC reboots is some of them don’t even try to “start over” but launch with the assumption that you know everyone and everything going on. For Green Lantern Corps and the Sinestro Corps and all that with the yellow/green war for who’s policing the galaxy – it pretty much assumes you’ve read a lot of Geoff Johns’ now classic work on the characters, and is probably slightly more rewarding when you do.

I picked this up mainly because I like Robert Venditti and wanted to support him. It’s the first Marvel/DC title I’ve read in a couple of years, having stopped after Marvel got so crazy and when the new-52 was having problems. And when I read this it validated my decision.

Don’t get me wrong, this is actually an excellent book by Marvel/DC standards. There’s tons of of action, a nice arc, its’ cleanly written, the characters are all in classic form. Robert Venditti did a great job, and the art is epic too – great work with the green lantern powers on that front producing stunning visuals, my only complaint is it suffers from “modern movie-ism” on the art front where a lot of the pages are so cluttered and dense that it’s distracting.

The problem is the old comic book characters and brands. There’s really nothing at stake so even these high powered cosmic action stories like this, mean nothing. Hal Jordan will always come back, even if he dies. Sinestro too. The corps were “dead/disappeared” for like 3 issues of this comic, but they just poofed back into existence. When there literally are no stakes for a character, it just makes things impossible to care about.

That’s not the creative team’s fault, but Marvel/DC’s. No matter what, it’s going to reset in a couple years. No matter what, there will be no real development. And it shows in the book, as it seems like the writer is almost ordered not to do anything that will have any lasting impact to the character.

Content wise: you get a lot of fights. It’s a very decompressed story that reads a full volume of 7 issues in like 20 minutes, you get some Sinestro vs. Jordan action as well as yellow corps vs. green corps. The most interesting thing is the bit with Sinestro’s daughter where she seems to care for Hal despite following the yellow corps Sinestro put together. The moments there with that character were about the only time I cared.

I compare this to Venditti’s XO Manowar, which I’ve been reading in trade and spurred me to pick this up. Same writer. Same action. The difference is in XO, the character can grow, suffer real loss, change. There’s tension there because of that. It wasn’t always like this with Marvel/DC. They actively tried to progress characters up through the 90s. Then they panicked with sales slumps (due to crowding the market and variant covers killing collecting) and pushed everything back to “classic”. I like seeing classic characters, but the thing that makes them classic is that they’re actual characters – and that requires development.

While this is a fine story, fine art, everything’s just fine about it. At the same time, it doesn’t offer me anything to care about. I’m going back to reading Valiant Comics now.