G3 Review: Super 8

Between outrageous ticket prices and patrons who can’t stop texting/Tweeting/yapping for even two lousy seconds after the lights go down, I’ve often wondered whether it’s still possible to experience child-like joy at the movies. However, my skepticism was no match for the wonderful J.J. Abrams-directed thriller Super 8. It was like time travel. Just seconds into this film, I could feel myself turning back into that 12-year-old girl who was watching E.T. for the first time. Continue reading

Anti-Matter Web Series Is Comedy Gold For Geeks

Life in a comic book shop is ripe for comedic exploration. Aside from the wacky conversations that are specific to comics geeks, there are the only-in-retail scenarios and tensions that arise in a small business, especially one that employs Gen X/Y employees. For people who visit an LCS every Wednesday, the awesome Anti-Matter web series is essential viewing. It’s a funny (sometimes bitingly so) comedy that takes place a New York comic book shop, and the characters are oh-so true to life. E. talked to the show’s writer/director Chris Walker, a former comics colorist for Marvel and DC, about all things Anti-Matter, and why it resonates with people who own longboxes. Continue reading

Comic Judgment: Lady Mechanika is Precious Metal


The fictional damsel in distress has run through a dark forest countless times, but not like this. A terrified young woman in a tattered gown looks at her limbs, now a horror of metal forearms and gleaming talons; “flesh and metal fused in an incomprehensible manner.” She’s being hunted. The armed predators call her a “thing.”

It’s a riveting opening sequence, one that cements Joe Benitez’s Lady Mechanika (Aspen Comics) status as one of the books to watch in 2011. His interpretation of steampunk is simply ravishing, and his commitment to this creator-owned comic book shows in the illustrations and the writing. Colorist Peter Steigerwald and letter artist Josh Reed also deserve major kudos for contributing to the book’s striking aesthetic. (To see V.’s take in Newsarama, click here.)

Commander Winter frightens children.

Lady Mechanika explored the science/superstition divide in issue #0, and the dangers of zealotry in both camps. But even if you haven’t read that issue (though I strongly recommend that you do), #1 is an excellent entry point. Benitez introduces the luminous Mechanika, billed as the City of Tomorrow, and it’s the kind of place that’s ethereal and gorgeous by day, menacing by night. Somewhere among those glowing towers, humans are being altered without their consent and against their will.

The title character is a product of those experiments, though she has no memory of where she came from. Lady Mechanika is on a mission to learn her backstory, and she’s a mighty intriguing character. She’s tough when she has to be, yet tender toward the oppressed and mistreated, like the unfortunate woman who was being hunted in the woods. She knows the feeling.

Speaking of intriguing characters, Commander Winter is one of the most formidable baddies to come down the pike. A ruthless, flame-haired villain with an eye patch and a talent for swordplay, she’s emerging as a fierce adversary for Lady M. An epic throwdown is clearly on the horizon.

I haven’t explored much steampunk, but Benitez makes it both accessible and gorgeous. Lady Mechanika’s distinctive look is a New York Fashion Week mashup of Annie Oakely, Amelia Earheart and Kate Moss. There’s a funny scene where a disguised Lady M. encounters a young fan who doesn’t believe she’s the real McCoy: “(Lady Mechanika) has impeccable style and grace, and she would never be caught dead in an outfit like yours,” huffs Annie, the daughter of a pivotal character named Professor Littleton.

This book is no empty thrill. It’s got beauty and brains, and a story with loads of potential. Even better, there are recipes — recipes! — in issue #1. Lady Mechanika is metallically delicious.

Thumbs Up for Young Justice

We're, like, heroic and stuff.

Over the years, various Cartoon Network shows based on DC Comics have given their source material a serious run for their money. I’d wager that many episodes of the late, great Justice League/Justice League Unlimited, Teen Titans and the current Batman: The Brave and the Bold, to name a few, have been just as entertaining – often moreso – than some of the books they sprang from. Based on tonight’s winning film premiere, Young Justice is poised to carry on that proud tradition.

The movie, a launching pad for the ongoing series beginning in January, is a classic coming-of-age story with a lot of punching and explosions: Robin, Speedy, Aqualad and Kid Flash think they’ve been invited to the grown-up table when their mentors finally bring them into the Hall of Justice, but in reality, they only get as far as the foyer. Batman, Green Arrow, Aquaman and Flash claim the kids simply aren’t ready for full access, which sends Speedy into an angry, this-is-bullshit hissy fit. Aqualad’s quietly wounded response is particularly moving. Aquaman isn’t just his teacher, but his king, so the apparent lack of confidence goes right to the heart.

Of course, it’s only a matter of time before the adults are called away on a mission, and the kids ignore their orders to stay put. They dive headfirst into a crisis at Cadmus Laboratories, and that’s where the real fun begins. Let’s just say that the Cadmus staff isn’t exactly whipping up new flu vaccines.

Visually, Young Justice is a treat. The players are distinctive-looking without being overly stylized, and the animation is quite fluid. The characterization is dead-on: Robin is the quick-witted detective who’s one step ahead of the rest; Kid Flash is the impetuous, slightly annoying chatterbox; Aqualad is thoughtful and broodingly regal. There’s also an element of real danger when Superboy enters the picture, because a wild card with Superman’s powers is pretty much the scariest thing ever.

It’s not giving much away by saying that everything works out in the end, but this fledgling team is in for plenty of trials and adjustments – like the very welcome addition of Miss Martian, Martian Manhunter’s niece. My only quibble is that she doesn’t show up until the end, and Artemis doesn’t appear at all. However, I understand that there’s only so much character development you can deliver in one hour, and the movie does what it’s supposed to: Build excitement for the weekly TV show. Count me in.

 

Take A Trip To Sidebar Nation

There are plenty of comics podcasts out there, but the guys behind the Sidebar Nation chatfest  — Dwight, Swain and Adrian — are some of the most knowledgeable, opinionated and flat-out funny geeks ever to rock the mic. We had the pleasure of meeting Dwight at Dragon*Con, and Swain moderated the excellent Dark Knight panel. Based out of Atlanta, the Sidebar Nation crew has interviewed some of the biggest names in comics, and their fandom runs deep. They’re super cool to boot, and I learn something every time I tune in. G3 chatted it up with the guys via e-mail, and they were kind enough to answer our nosy questions. If you haven’t listened to their podcast, check it out at their site or via iTunes. You’ll be glad you did. Continue reading

7 Days From Hell (Yeah!)

 

This deserves the Top Cow 2010 Pilot Season crown.

If you’re hemming and hawing over whom to vote for in Top Cow’s annual Pilot Season contest, let us help. G3’s unequivocal, unanimous choice is 7 Days from Hell, the Bryan Edward Hill/Rob Levin-penned story of a former mercenary who escaped death (and hell) at a terrible price. Protagonist John Bishop is now a puppet of a demon, the innocuously named Mandy. On her orders, he must kill a specific villain within a one-week period, and Mandy appears to have a long list of marks. If he fails or is killed a second time, he gets a one-way ticket to the ultimate bonfire. How’s that for high stakes?

It would be easy to go way overboard with such a juicy concept, but Edwards and Levin make the story riveting while showing some restraint. And boy, does 7 Days From Hell have some good-looking art. If that luscious Brian Stelfreeze cover doesn’t grab you, Phil Noto’s modern, eye-popping interior images surely will. It’s impossible to read this book without wanting to know what happens next, and even when measured against some strong competition, 7 Days from Hell emerges as the crystal-clear champ. The Top Cow polls are now open, so head here to cast your vote.

1975-1979: Good Years for Geeky Girls

The Bionic Woman comes to Oscar Goldman’s rescue … on a lunchbox!

Nostalgia is the lifeblood of longtime geeks. Decades after seeing a certain comic/movie/TV show, we can recall, in exhaustive detail, the effect it had on us. We’ll tell anyone who will listen, including our bored children and significant others, “You have NO idea how much ‘Shazam!’ rocked my world …”

But nostalgia is also tricky. Things become compressed over time, and we tell ourselves that the ‘80s were a purely awesome decade for popular music, forgetting that for every LL Cool J, there were five Color Me Badds. Continue reading

Ponies + Superheroes = Delight

Jodi Moisan's Wonder Woman Day Pony

For every woman who grew up loving comic books and ponies, visual artist Jodi Moisan’s superhero/My Little Pony mashups are, as V. aptly put it, “So much perfect!” Jodi is one of the many creative talents who have contributed pieces being auctioned for Wonder Woman Day, the Wonder Woman Museum’s annual project that supports anti domestic-violence programs. Delightful and highly detailed, Jodi’s ponies of Wondy, Batgirl, Modok, Mockingbird and Wolverine made my inner 6-year-old positively giddy. And as the mother of an actual 6-year-old, I know there are scores of girls and boys — and grownups, for that matter — who would love to get their hands on these four-legged action figures. No less than Stan Lee is a fan of Jodi’s work (he has a custom Stan Lee figurine that she made), and John Byrne owns one of her ponies.

Jodi was kind enough to talk to Girls Gone Geek about her work and her longtime appreciation of comic books and various things geek-related. Continue reading

Ben Caldwell’s Wonderful Wondy

 

Ben Caldwell's sketch for Wonder Woman Day V

 

We know artist Ben Caldwell draws a gorgeous, distinctive Wonder Woman, and he’s using his talent to support a good cause. Caldwell is one of the artists who has donated artwork that will be auctioned for Wonder Woman Day V, an annual event supporting anti-domestic violence programs. There’s a ton of stuff being auctioned, ranging from the seriously cool (including Caldwell’s sketch above) to the quirky to the, ah, different. In other words, something for everyone.

For those of us still drooling over Caldwell’s pitch for a series about our favorite superheroine, there’s a special treat below — another sketch from the passion project that captivated Wonder Woman fans across the blogosphere. The sword! The big eyes! The flowing locks! Sigh. So pretty.

 

WANT!

 

Many thanks to Ben for sharing these lovely images with Girls Gone Geek! If you’re anywhere near Portland or Flemington, N.J., on Oct. 24, check out the Wonder Woman Day V events, which include artist signings, displays of Wonder Woman collectibles, festivities, plentiful cosplay and, of course, silent art auctions. Online pre-bidding runs Oct. 16-23, and there’s lots more information on the Wonder Woman Museum site here.


Wanted: Ben Caldwell’s Wonder Woman

Ben Caldwell's Wonder Woman: Gorgeous

I am completely enamored with Ben Caldwell’s pitch for a youth-skewing Wonder Woman comic, which is getting plenty of other props online. I’m generally not a fan of manga-style illustration, but Caldwell’s concept is fresh, playful and modern without being silly (*Cough* jeggings on Wonder Woman *Cough*).

A page from Caldwell's pitch

If the work looks familiar, it’s because Caldwell was behind the ethereal Wonder Woman arc in Wednesday Comics. He has posted his vision (with notes) on his blog, and what’s particularly nice is that he’s thinking about younger readers. I love his take on Etta Candy as a curvy, thrill-seeking sorority girl and his sulky/hot Batman is adorable. The idea of Bruce Wayne as “a notorious playboy who wants to see and be seen with the Amazon princess” is like catnip to those of us on team BatWondy. It seems like a well thought-out idea with more than a little personal passion behind it — and it just looks freaking cool.

Alas, Caldwell told readers to curb their enthusiasm (or ire) because this book “will certainly never happen.” I’ve been reading mainstream comics long enough to know that he’s probably right. That’s a damned shame, because the spontaneous response to Caldwell’s pitch tells me that there’s a pent-up demand for this kind of creativity and accessibility. While comic-book reading has become an adult hobby (at last year’s Dragon*Con, Darwyn Cooke correctly called it “an over-35 club”), kids still dig them if a) they can find them and b) they’re good. My children read comics, but only because I ferret out the titles that are age-appropriate and bring them home. I have a feeling that my 10-year-old son would like Caldwell’s Wonder Woman comic, even though it’s about a “girl.” But first, he’d have to wrest it from my hands.

What do you think? Would you buy this book for yourself or the kids in your life?

Spreading the Love (and Capes)

Love and Capes: Do You Want to Know a Secret? Vol. 1
Writer/Artist: Thomas F. Zahler

Superheroes aren’t having much fun these days. While there’s some great work being done in the capes-and-cowls genre, it’s often so relentlessly grim that fans seeking lighthearted reading might as well head straight to the kids’ section of the comics shop (and I often do).

You should be reading this.

Thank goodness for Thomas F. Zahler’s Love and Capes, a funny, smartly written — and, yes, lighthearted — series about the intersection of heroics and romance. Bookstore owner Abby learns that her mild-mannered accountant boyfriend, Mark, is also a superhero known to Deco City as The Crusader. After he reveals his true identity, Abby experiences the perks (15-minute flights to Maui) and perils (picnics interrupted by crises) of dating a member of the cape community.

It’s appropriate that Love and Capes is billed as a “heroically super situation comedy,” because the quick banter and likable cast give it the feel of an especially good TV show. Zahler makes good use of the familiar: The Crusader is clearly a Superman analog, and his best friend, Paul, aka Darkblade, stands in for a certain serious billionaire who fights crime at night. Most of the derring-do takes place off of the page, so even when we see these two at work, they’re rarely talking shop. In one of the book’s many funny panels, Darkblade — while dangling a bad guy over a rooftop — tells Mark that his ill-timed request for relationship advice is “seriously killing my creature-of-the night vibe.”

Amazonia: Trouble in high heels.

Like all newly smitten, cute couples, Mark and Abby are just this side of annoying. (In this first volume, Mark’s only noticeable flaw is that he’s a tad jealous of Arachnerd, a web-slinger who is at the center of a blockbuster film franchise.) Zahler spices things up considerably by introducing Amazonia, an Angelina Jolie/Wonder Woman hybrid who happens to be The Crusader’s ex-girlfriend. How intimidating is she? Abby’s sister, Charlotte puts it this way: “Amazonia? Whoa. I’d do her.”

Speaking of Charlotte, her tart asides and single-gal perspective bring a lot of wit to Love & Capes. She’s an utterly charming second banana — a Rhoda Morgenstern to Abby’s Mary Tyler Moore (Cue readers born after 1980 saying, “Who?” in unison).

This book has such genuine, across-the-board appeal, and I was bummed to hear two LCS owners — both fans of the series — say they couldn’t interest enough readers to justify stocking the single issues. People, where is the love? The next time I hear a fellow comic lover complaining about the Big Two offerings on his or her pull list, I’m going to ask (in a slightly judgmental tone) why that person isn’t reading Love and Capes, among other things.

Do yourself a favor and check out the first two trade volumes, or head over to the Love and Capes website for a taste of the series. It’s mighty good.

Birds of Prey #1: Fishnets, Fisticuffs and Fabulousness

Variant cover art by Cliff Chiang

The best friendships are the ones where, even after long stretches of little communication, everyone picks up right where they left off. There are no awkward pauses or, worse, internal monologues about how it’s just not the same.

For fans of Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey run, reading issue #1 of the revived series is like that great reunion with an old friend. Simone stepped away from the book three years ago, and it was canceled in 2009. However, she and original collaborator Ed Benes have wasted no time in returning the Birds to classic, crime-busting form — and we missed them terribly. (Spoilers await.)

The four-part “Endgame” story opens in Iceland, where Black Canary has arrived to rescue a diplomat’s 5-year-old daughter from a terrorist/kidnapper. The beauty of this sequence is that it firmly re-establishes Dinah Lance as one of the world’s most skilled combatants, obliterating the sad-sack wife nonsense other writers saddled her with. Let’s just say there’s a lot of blood on the snow in Reykjavik, and it’s not Dinah’s. Or the 5-year-old’s.

"Where my girls at?"

Shortly, Oracle begins reassembling the team to deal with an anonymous mofo who has a frightening amount of information about the Birds and all their friends/associates. Zinda is dispatched to recruit Hawk and Dove, one of whom has some serious anger management issues. (I wouldn’t have held it against Hawk if he’d tossed that silly, bank-robbing cheerleader off the roof, but that’s just me.) The addition of these newbies to a well-established group is potentially rich with drama, and I’m looking forward to seeing how everyone adjusts, or doesn’t.

This is the REAL DC Trinity

Simone’s affection for these characters comes through on every page, especially in the funny, familiar banter that flies between Canary, Zinda, Huntress and Oracle. The Birds also look fabulous, thanks to Benes’ gourmet cheesecake illustrations and colorist Nei Ruffino’s glowing, moody palette, which really suits poured-on leather under moonlight. Those panels of Huntress cracking skulls while talking to Oracle via cell phone could launch 1,000 gym memberships alone.

As if that weren’t enough, the Big Villain Reveal on the final page is a total surprise, and still a bit of a mystery. I figured it would be Lady Shiva, or even a tween Sin, but the ending suggests that our heroines are in for even bigger trouble. It is totally on — and I couldn’t be happier.