Freestyle Komics Review – Hotshot, The Cypher, International Heroes, Emerald Forest and Vigilance!

The folks at Freestyle Komics kindly reached out to us and asked us to review some of their books!

I love this kind of stuff! Let me say, I’ve had a comic book story (4 issue limited series, probably) in my head, for a little over a year. Nothing special, at all. Nothing ground breaking. Just a comic book idea I have scribbled for a plot; but lacking any form of artistic ability (and time to do much else), the story will probably remain stuck in my head forever. So I love seeing when others get out there and they make their comic dreams come true, any way that they can! Because these are the people I wish I could be; so when I am given a chance to read and help promote their work, I love doing it when time permits! (I am back logged at the moment with other books I need to get around to doing the same for!)

Let me talk about Hotshot first. Now, first of all, reading two issues in – I am not too clear on exactly what his powers are (aside from flight, and super strength, and some other unusual powers!) The villain looks like a villain, acts like a villain, and seems like a genuine threat to everyone and everything (especially Hotshot who he is out to kill!) The art is clean (although the beginning of the second issue has a few of the first couple pages that seemed a tad rushed, but the art cleans up soon enough!) The writing is very fun, very well thought out, and the pacing is just about perfect each and every issue. These guys love to end issues with a cliff hanger, so that you’re immediately grabbing for the next issue to see what the heck is going to happen next! The art, throughout the issues (especially in issue #3) is just superb! Very professional looking. (My only trivial qualm is how Michael’s girlfriend is drawn; she always looks like she has porcupine hair! But it’s an artist flair and style, and I get what they’re going for!) I would strongly recommend checking out their site (all linked at the bottom) and seeing if you can get your hands on these!

Next I want to talk about Heroes International. Now if you’ve seen any of my reviews on any comics, I always talk about how I am a “team comic person.” There’s exceptions of course; Captain America, Thor, Spider-Man (well, back in the 80’s, not so much anymore for me). Heroes International is a great team of some very interesting, and some very diverse characters, with diverse powers as well. The book does a great job of establishing personalities and power (explanations) for the characters throughout the book. Crag stuck out for me, as probably one of my favorites on the team, along with Hue-Man and his puns (as he changes colors and adapts to situations). The art throughout this entire series remains crisp, clean, and rock solid. One of the nicer things is that not all the characters have that “perfect, superhero build” – for example Titan, is not “built” like your ideal superhero; so it’s nice to see some more… realistic looking people who are also superheroes. The writing, as I said, does a great job of giving you introductions to these characters, and gives you early ideas of what you’re headed into.

Next on the list is Emerald Forest. The entire book has an anime artist feel throughout it (and most who know know that anime art is generally not my cup of tea). However, I can still appreciate the things that I may not enjoy myself, for their sheer artist talent – and the folks on the issue of Emerald Forest have talent in spades. (I had an issue where multiple pages throughout the first issue duplicate themselves; so once I realized that, I just skipped a page and life made more sense! Kept thinking I was in The Matrix“Whoa… Deja Vu…”) The story is enjoyable, the art (anime and all!) is super sharp and clean. I think just about anyone could enjoy The Emerald Forest.

Next in line, we have The Cypher – now, here’s where, for me, anyway, things took a slight turn. Now the cover, to any straight guy, would be very appealing, right? (Whoever did the cover, I feel like they borrowed inspiration for the face and hair, from the cheerleader from Heroes, while the rump is borrowed… from JLo, and maybe that’s why she has the name JFab?) For me, while the story was pretty cool – the art wasn’t doing it for me. But hold up – hear me out! The artist is actually very talented. The art throughout the issue is consistent, clean, sharp, and professional looking. So what’s not to like then, you ask? (And let me be clear, when I say I didn’t like it – it’s not that I didn’t like it – it’s just it wasn’t for me). You see, our main character (seemingly at least from the first issue), is a regular woman by day, superhero by night (or whenever the need arises). Which is cool. Great to see strong, powerful women in comics. Give the ladies in the comic book world someone to look up to, like Wonder Woman. However… this is where I think it falls short, because of the art. You see, when she is in her “regular” clothes, every panel her nipples are on full blast, like they were detecting water, like the ends of a dowsing rod. And then, when she gets into her super hero attire, it gets “no better.” She’s literally wearing something that somehow is just covering her nipples from her super sized ample breasts. If they … filled out the front of her costume… er, filled it out with an actual costume, and toned down the breasts and nipples, I think this is a book that even most girls would enjoy without scoffing at the artistic style that seems to target young teenagers who aren’t quite old enough to purchase adult magazines.

But fear not! All is not lost! Because next we’re going to talk about Vigilance. Now, while I may have been a bit harsh on The Cypher, all of that goes away when I talk about Vigilance. She is everything I complained that The Cypher wasn’t. She’s a strong (literally!) female hero, who does heroic deeds, and it’s shown – she even saves cows and children! She reminds me of a female Superman, except the first issue, goes in hard to show you she’s here to be the hero that everyone needs, wants and can look up to! Heck, there’s even a panel in the first issue that tells you this!

The art for Vigilance has a rough look (not rough as in bad, but the art is dark and edgy – so I mean that in a good way!) Her costume is wonderful; it’s a great design. The characters in the book flow very well. Everything is nicely paced throughout. This really is everything that I had hoped The Cypher was going to be when I saw a striking woman on the cover.

The best thing about all of these books? These aren’t just one off books. All of these books happen in the same universe, so throughout the series, you will see references to – and sometimes, other characters – from the other books! So the fact that this is all a shared universe only adds to the charm and charisma of these books!

Do me a favor – go support these guys! How? Well let me get you their detailed information! I recommend checking them out on: Facebook, their website, blogspot, their patreon, and finally, their twitter!

  • Tawmis
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Phoenix Resurrection

Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, I rise from my failed attempt to sleep and embrace Dark Insomnia to write about this piece about the supposed return of none other than the original Jean Grey.

Now hold on, you can’t seriously say you’re surprised? First, the folks at Marvel have been trying to recapture the popularity of the X-Men, that it had back in the 90’s. The current books read like a nod to those days, while trying to stay modern and fresh at the same time. And during the 90’s, none other than Jean Grey herself, was resurrected from the dead.

Well, except that she was never dead. As it turns out, from the moment that the space ship crashed into the body of water (Hudson River, I believe) – and the X-Men feared that Jean was dead, having piloted the ship all by herself – but no! – she rose up from the water…

Remember that scene? The iconic cover? Well, as it turns out… everything from Uncanny X-Men #101 (after she rises up from the water), until Jean’s “apparent” death in Uncanny X-Men #137… is all a ruse. That’s right – because of events that happened, where Marvel wanted to bring back the original X-Men cast (and Jean was the only one dead at the time), they came up with an idea… that when the ship crashed into the water, the Phoenix Force, that had been protecting Jean (having encountered her, as she was piloting the ship), put Jean Grey in a cocoon and then took her place among the X-Men. So, the wonderful story of Jean Grey’s fall into the Dark Phoenix, thanks to the Hellfire Club (primarily Mastermind who had tampered with her mind), is all undone – because, as it turns out – that was never Jean Grey – that was actually the Phoenix Force.

If you think I am crazy, look no further than Avengers #263. That’s where the story starts. The Avengers examine a cocoon sitting at the bottom of this body of water, that’s emitting all kinds of power.

Captain Marvel (Monica) goes down below and finds this mysterious source of power. By the end of the issue, they’ve gotten her out of the cocoon, but she’s in a mysterious container that has mist… but by the end of that issue, the mist clears, and the readers see a red head, who calls out for Scott; and if you think that might not be solid proof, that could be any redhead, mysteriously shoved into a cocoon, calling out for Scott – because that’s a really common first name. Hold up, they confirm it in the panel that it’s Jean Grey.

So let’s think about this for a moment – if that was indeed Jean Grey in the cocoon, and if she never actually became Dark Phoenix “back in the day” – then how is Jean coming back to life so many times? You could say that she was touched by the Phoenix Force, for that brief moment, as it helped her pilot the plane into the water, and kept her alive, right? But the more probable excuse is that writers have since then, either forgotten that it wasn’t actually Jean Grey between Uncanny X-Men #102 and #137, or they’re simply choosing to ignore it.

So what’s my point? Now I think I made my thoughts clear about the whole “05” that trendy people call them (I assume it stands for “Original 5” – as in the original five X-Men… You can read my thoughts on the “05” here: Part 1 and Part 2). Well, Marvel has officially announced the resurrection of Jean Grey. The creative team of Matthew Rosenberg and Leinil Yu have come aboard in PHOENIX RESURRECTION this fall to help her on her way from the grave to flying above the Earth once more.

So let’s do a quick role call – of the “616” (Regular Marvel Universe) for the Original Five:

Adult Cyclops is dead (after going, what some would say, a little crazy). Time displaced Cyclops, alive and well.

Adult Jean Grey, dead (but apparently coming back – surprise, surprise). Time displaced Jean Grey, alive and well.

Adult Angel, now going by Archangel, and alive and well. (Well, as much as one can be, considering all Warren’s been through). Time displaced Angel, in order to “change his future” and not become an agent of Apocalypse, that leads to Archangel, he gets – get this – fire wings instead of metal wings. Oh those young kids and their crazy ideas.

Adult Iceman, alive and well. Time displaced Iceman, alive and well.

Adult Beast, alive and … well, not so well in the head, but he’s alive. Time displaced teen Beast, also alive… and not so well in the head.

So now, adult Jean is coming back – and no one thinks all these duplicate characters are going to start getting really confusing to new readers? And I am not talking about two people running around with the same code name, like when Monica was running around as Captain Marvel, then Genis-Vell came to claim the name, having previously gone by the name Legacy. And then how Monica changed her code name to Photon, to which Genis-Vell was like, “Cool name, I want that now, too.” So she changed her name to Pulsar. Not that kind of confusion. But the confusion where it’s two of the same character, just different versions of them, running around at the same time. Because the time displaced Jean Grey has a solo series going, entitled Jean Grey.

Now based on Matthew Rosenberg’s interview answers, it sounds like he’s going with forgot/ignore that Jean was in a cocoon and go with what the original canon was, that it was Jean Grey who became Dark Phoenix, and thus died, and not the Phoenix Force that “died” in Jean’s place.

Matthew Rosenberg: The biggest challenge is obviously doing it justice. People love Jean. I love Jean. Some people desperately want to see her back because they miss her, and I want to do right by them. But others feel really strongly that her death was monumental and we should respect that. And I get that 100%. I’m hoping we can tell a story that makes those people understand why we brought her back. We actually have something to say, it means something. And I think all of that, trying to please everyone, is the real trick.

As for opportunities, for me it’s two things. Getting to use the X-Men, all of them, is a huge one. Getting to explore her relationships with them, showing how they react to certain things, what things mean to them, is a real blessing because these characters have ties to her that long time readers will understand. There is an emotional shorthand to Beast or Bobby or Logan or Storm seeing her again. It’s heavy. And the other great storytelling opportunity we have is how powerful Jean and Phoenix are. They can create worlds and rearrange minds. That is something we go into a bit and I think it will keep readers on their toes.

One of the big keys to getting Jean is to actually study her progression as a character. From the meek and quiet student, to the bad ass team member, to the goddess, to death, and back again. She has had these changes; the Marvel Girl of old is not the same as Phoenix, or Jean in X-FACTOR, or the Jean that raises Cable in the future, or the Jean that fights Emma for the heart of Scott. All of these are evolutions of who she is. And our book, it does something a bit different. This isn’t an evolution. It’s a resurrection. But I can’t say much more than that.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to know your thoughts! Let us know on or  – we’d love to hear from you!

I can say of the “covers” I’ve seen, the digital touch of the inside page of Uncanny X-Men #136 (one of my all time favorite panels) is a nice touch. Here they are:


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We have lost a hero – Len Wein.

If you’re here, there’s a good chance it’s because you read comics. And if you’re here, you know how often Maico and I discuss the X-Men in our podcasts, and how important the X-Men were to us, growing up.

Both Maico and I were fans of the X-Men that came after the original five – the team that started with Wolverine, Thunderbird, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Banshee and Sunfire – the team that had gone to Krakoa to save the original X-Men.

A legendary figure helped co-create the very X-Men that both Maico and I enjoyed the most – Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler.

Of course, he’s done much more than that – but, because Maico and I were so attached to the X-Men growing up, specifically these characters, I wanted to focus on his work on the X-Men, because that’s where the writing will come from the heart.

Without a doubt, his biggest creation in the X-Men world is none other than Wolverine. Initially appearing in The Incredible Hulk #181, I still remember when my wife got this for me as a part of my birthday present – and, unfortunately, not when it initially came out (we were not together yet), but many, many, many years later, when the comic was already fetching a very pretty penny because of the success of Wolverine.

Wolverine’s popularity has only continued to grow, since then. With the X-Men franchise movies from FOX Studios (despite how much Maico and I may rant about them), they have helped put the X-Men into the minds and hands of a newer generation; which eventually led to the solo movie, based on Wolverine, entitled Logan, which gained much more success.

I remember when my friend gave me Uncanny X-Men #121, I was in the 4th grade, and it – along with Avengers #159 – was my plummet, free fall into the comic book world. I had picked up other comics before this, Aquaman, Superman, but they never captured me. I had picked up those books, mostly because I knew them from the Superfriends cartoon. But who were these X-Men? I had never seen any cartoon about them – but they looked very cool, very vibrant. The art, the story, all of it was so incredible.

This issue in particular, remains one of my favorites, not only because it was, indeed, my introduction to the X-Men, which immediately became my favorite characters – but there’s this great splash screen on this issue where Alpha Flight (who I also loved their look!) was going to face off against the X-Men, because Alpha Flight needed to take Wolverine back to Canada. (At the time, I wasn’t sure of why Alpha Flight wanted Wolverine, or even really knew anything about anyone, being my first issue).

But that splash screen was down right incredible. The odds certainly were not in the X-Men’s favor when you looked at this – and as a kid, you’re thinking, “How can they hope to win? It’s literally three against six!” But sure enough, Nightcrawler teleports out of his bonds, and Wolverine is free – evening up the odds!

I think the very first X-Men comic I bought for myself, was Uncanny X-Men #145 – which featured Doctor Doom, who I knew nothing of, because it had just come out (so my friend got his copy of Uncanny X-Men #121, two years before it was passed down to me, back in the day!)

Uncanny X-Men #145 was another intense issue to begin with! The X-Men were captured by Doctor Doom and Arcade, and in this crazy traps! I began collecting Uncanny X-Men after that – and collected for years and years and years and years. The X-Men taught me something, you see. And they did it through comics.

They taught me that it was okay to be different. And as someone who was 11 or 12, I was going through an awkward point in my life. I felt different than everyone else, other than my best friend (who got me hooked into comics), Charles Stevens. I never felt like I fit in anywhere or with anyone, other than when he and I were hanging out. But the X-Men allowed me to accept that. Chuck and I were best friend, and we had a pretty cool imagination, because of the comic books we were reading.

You see, had it not been for Len Wein’s co-creations of these fantastic characters, my life would have been drastically different. I’m sure, somehow, I would have still managed to come out the other end all right – but these characters than Len Wein created helped give me “friends” when I had none. “Friends” who understood me. Who were different, like me. Who were there for me, when I needed it. They were comforting. They were strong, when I was weak.

In comics, we’ve seen many characters die; and they always come back.

Well, in the real world, that doesn’t happen. And we’ve lost Len Wein. He won’t come back reborn as the Phoenix or anything like that. But here’s the thing – he may be gone from the world – but his work is not. The mark he’s left on so many others, just like me – continues to live on in our memory. It continues to live on the comics. Even if they kill our favorite characters, there’s the back issues that we can travel back to – and read again.

For many, they will say “they’re just comic book characters” – for me, these were my heroes. They were there for me, and Len, I hope you know you helped forge a child’s life, helped shape him as he grew to be the man he is, and fed his imagination endlessly, with the creations you’ve given the world.

Rest in peace, sir. You are, forever in my eyes, immortal.

  • Tawmis


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Those Crazy X-Men Kids, Part 2!

Sue bueti on Twitter provided some clarification, that I didn’t remember. I speculated that the X-Men were pulled from the timeline by Beast sometime before Uncanny X-Men #12, because in X-Men Blue, they seemed unfamiliar with Juggernaut (who they fought for the first time in Uncanny X-Men #12). Sue provided me the photos that show exactly when the X-Men were pulled out of their time line – and I was right – it was before Uncanny X-Men #12, it was actually Uncanny X-Men #8.

Others on there, such as Xavier Files explained that it was all “explained” in All New X-Men #19 – that the Universe “fixed itself.” I’ve gone back and re-read that issue, and it does “explain” that the Universe “fixed itself” – but I don’t buy it. It comes across as lazy writing, when they realized “If we took these characters from their own time line, there should have been drastic consequences! We need a way to explain this… how about this… the Universe… fixes itself? Right? Golden, huh?” Xavier Files also said that time travel in the Marvel Universe is never consistent. Which is true, when characters are time traveling to alternate realities. But when they’re pulling from the same reality, as I mentioned before, we got Legion Quest/Age of Apocalypse. It’d seem logical that the same thing would happen.

As I sat here writing this, I thought, “They really missed a chance to do something special with this.” Imagine – for Professor Xavier, the X-Men suddenly vanish (after the events of Uncanny X-Men #8). Professor Xavier pulls another team together to go find his X-Men (which they never do because they’re time misplaced) – so that team remains and becomes the new X-Men; and thus the Universe “fixes itself” by making a new team of X-Men to have the same battles the original X-Men had. And this new team of X-Men, goes to visit Krakoa to find this mutant that’s been detected. They get captured – so Professor Xavier pulls another team of X-Men, which includes the team we all know – Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Banshee, Colossus, Storm, Sunfire, and Thunderbird. Now, what if that team that’s been captured by Krakoa was none other than Vulcan, Sway, Petra and Darwin?

While I hated the Deadly Genesis retcon with unbridled passion, I do believe, had they explained that they became the new X-Men after the original X-Men disappeared, and fought all those battles the original X-Men were supposed to fight – I think that might have proven to be a very neat and interesting twist.

Instead, we have these time displaced X-Men, who were pulled from their reality, with no dire consequences or changes made to the world or timeline. It just seemed they were pulled into the 616 Universe for one reason, and one reason alone. Writers wanted to write these characters (Cyclops, Beast, Jean, Iceman, and Angel) without any strings attached, so they wouldn’t have to deal with continuity and that they could do whatever they wanted with these iconic X-Men characters and make it all seem very important. But a story without consequence or change is utterly boring; and I think that’s why I ended up eventually dropping All New X-Men, because the drastic changes I had hoped to see in that series were not happening. I’ve said it before, I’ve been enjoying X-Men Blue. But I also enjoyed Uncanny X-Men when Cullen Bunn was writing it; and if I had to chose between which two books I would rather see keep going, it would have definitely been Uncanny X-Men.

More food for thought! Thanks all of you who engaged me on Twitter about my previous post; whether we agreed or not, I love having these conversations!

– Tawmis



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Those Crazy X-Men Kids!

So, I’ve said it plenty of times on Twitter – I am not a fan of the notion of the time displaced X-Men. When All New X-Men was announced, and the idea was “The young versions of the X-Men will be pulled from the past into the present – to see what Cyclops has done and what he’s become.” (He’d killed Professor Xavier, supposedly by this time; and had become a intolerant mutant against those who spoke out against mutants, often attacking them with little regard to anyone else). I thought the notion was great for a limited series. And that’s what I thought All New X-Men was going to be. The Young X-Men pulled into the present to see the disastrous world that’s come about in regards to mutants. I assumed, during this limited series, the adult versions of the X-Men would “blink out” of existence, leaving the Young X-Men to piece things together themselves. I thought, that the Young X-Men would try to change the world, but in doing so, essentially continue to make things worse (indicating that no matter what you try to do to change Fate, Fate will also correct itself, and make what’s destined to happen, simply happen – think along the lines of the Final Destination movies when death came for those who were supposed to die, and avoided it – and death came for them all).

But… that’s not what happened. No, even though Hank supposedly pulled the “616” versions of their Younger Selves (because had he pulled them out from a different reality, it would have had no impact on the 616 world of Marvel) – the adult versions continued to exist in the 616 Universe, even though they had been plucked from the time line.

Think of it this way. You plant a tree on a barren piece of land. Over the next 25 years, it sprouts seeds, and that once barren land is now ripe with plants and animals. Now, you have the ability to go back in time, and stop yourself from planting that seed. When you go back to the present – that seed is never planted, and none of the plants grow, and none of the animals come. That’s how it would logically work right?

Now I hear you (and it’s not because I am a mutant!) – “This is comics!” Right. This is comics. But what if comics – as a matter of fact – an X-Men comic has already proven said logic? What am I talking about? Legion Quest ring any bells?

Turn the pages back to:
Prologue – “The Waking” – X-Factor #109
Part 1 – “The Son Rises in the East” – Uncanny X-Men #320
Part 2 – “The Killing Time” – X-Men Vol 2 #40
Part 3 – “Auld Lang Syne” – Uncanny X-Men #321
Part 4 – “Dreams Die!” – X-Men Vol 2 #41
Epilogue – “An Hour of Last Things” – Cable #20

In this chain of events – Legion travels back to the past, in order to kill Magneto, to make amends with his father – none other than Charles Xavier. However, just as Legion is about to kill Magneto, Charles Xavier steps between them, and sacrifices himself. The end result, a crystalline wave washes over the world and creates an alternate reality, affectionately known as The Age of Apocalypse.

The entire concept of The Age of Apocalypse, is without Professor Xavier, the X-Men are not formed when they were; and the consequences are drastic, including Apocalypse rising to power and ruling the entire world.

So based on the logic, already provided by the X-Men mini Legion Quest which led to Age of Apocalypse, the very actions of Hank McCoy pulling the younger version of the X-Men from the 616 past time line should have had dire consequences. Based on the issues in X-Men Blue, which features the time displaced X-Men, the X-Men are not (or don’t appear to be) familiar with Juggernaut. The original X-Men battled Juggernaut in X-Men #12. So, it’s probably safe to assume that Beast pulled the Young X-Men from sometime before that. And even if it was after that – let’s say, before the events of Uncanny X-Men #94/Giant Size X-Men #1 (which is a safe bet, since the X-Men Hank pulled do not have any new X-Men, and the X-Men are still young).

If they were pulled before the ever went to Krakoa – that technically means the new X-Men (Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Banshee, Thunderbird, Sunfire, Storm, and Colossus). Think of the rippling effect that should have had? Storm would still be in Africa, Nightcrawler would have probably been killed by the mob, Thunderbird would still be alive, Wolverine would probably still be a part of Department H {and probably leading or at least a part of Alpha Flight), Colossus would be in Russia. And if Colossus was in Russia, that means Illyana is never kidnapped. She never becomes Magik. Also, Professor Xavier never forms the New Mutants to replace the X-Men he believes to be dead from the Brood (well, actually, his ulterior motive was that he had a Brood Queen egg in him and he wanted more mutant hosts).

Some might say, I am thinking too much. I, however, think what I am doing is something Marvel has given up on – consistency. As I said, Marvel themselves showed going back to the 616 timeline and making a change has a rippling effect (Legion Quest/Age Of Apocalypse), and yet – there was absolutely no rippling effect, no consequences, no anything for bringing these young versions of the X-Men into the 616 Marvel Universe. All it did was make it more confusing, and more cluttered with existing mutants (there is, after all, adult versions of Angel, Beast and Iceman running around; while the adult versions of Cyclops and Jean Grey, currently remain dead).

All of that said, I’ve been enjoying Cullen Bunn’s writing on X-Men Blue. He’s always been a fantastic writer (I first discovered his amazing writing during the New 52’s Sinestro run – which immediately became a favorite of mine, though I knew very little of the villain – other than being Green Lantern’s main villain, the way Magneto is to Professor Xavier). But Cullen Bunn’s writing got me interested in the character. Then Cullen Bunn took on Uncanny X-Men – you can read on here, how after over 30 years, I gave up on reading Uncanny X-Men until Cullen Bunn took over Uncanny X-Men.

But… even with X-Men Blue, which features the time displaced X-Men, did we really need to bring in Jimmy and have ourselves another Wolverine? X-23? Draken? Old Man Logan? These weren’t enough? We have to add another Wolverine like character from an alternate reality?

But that’s a post for another time.

  • Tawmis
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Comic Relief Podcast – Issue #27 – Old Men Podcasting!

In this episode, Tawmis Logue & Maico Moreno go over quite a few movies, to make up for the times they’ve not podcasted! So in this episode, they cover Logan, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming. They also continue down the list of their “Favorite X’s” – and by that, we mean X-Men (well, there’s plenty of X-Women in there too) – and not as in men or women we dated – more like the X-Men characters from Marvel’s X-Men books. (This is getting far more complicated than it needs to be, and I swear we’re comfortable in our sexuality…) So the list is from those that joined the X-Men in the 2000-era of the X-Books. It’s a pretty long list, and we agree on some things, while we strongly disagree on others!

Because we had some catching up to do – it’s a bit of a length episode, weighing in at – I think one of our longest podcasts to date – an hour and 42 minutes! (Originally, the recording had been 4 hours and 7 minutes long! So a lot ended up on the chopping floor for the sake of your sanity!) Please give it a listen – and if you have iTunes, please take the time to rate us on there and leave a comment or two (or three or four). Please tell others about us – word of mouth is gold in convincing others to give something a swing!

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

If you love us so much, that you want to put it on your favorite audio player on repeat, you can download the MP3 also.

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Things will be headed to eBay shortly!

In the next coming week or so, now that my Postal Scale has arrived, I will be placing some comics on eBay, ideally, reasonably cheap (I just need them to be sold and find a good home, and if I make a little bit of money to help pay for the website, podcasting equipment, etc., and pay for bills around the house, even better!) I have probably around 500+ comics that will be going up on eBay; probably in large bundles (some of them will be sets of comics, some of them are going to end up as random bundles). So the only true cost is probably going to come from the S&H which is why I decided to purchase a Postal Scale, so I can get a fair price of what the S&H will be, and so I can get a good price for what I want the comics to sell for as well.

I’ve been collecting for over 35 years, and have amassed a ton of comics that I no longer read. Some of them are old, read, and beaten up a little; some are old, read, but in good condition; some are brand new (including stuff from recent Marvel, like Uncanny Avengers, to books from The New 52 and Rebirth from DC Comics), so it’s a pretty crazy mixture of what’s going to land on eBay. When I can, I am going to sell sets of things together, rather than single individual issues, so I can move the comics (hopefully faster), and when I make the random bundles (when they’re not sets), I will try my best to make them somehow be related to one another.

A guy at work discovered I did the Comic Relief Podcast, and contacted me and gave me a large box of comics, full of a lot of random books – all for free. And then, about a year ago, my childhood friend, Charles, also sought to get rid of his comics that had been aging in the garage, so I gave him some cash, with no idea what he had in his boxes, so that I could help move them and get them sold, and hopefully they find a new good home as well. So between his own collection that I took over, and my own expansive collection I have already partially sorted through (more of my collection may end up on eBay if the eBay store does well enough for me), keep your eyes peeled on our eBay Store, because stuff is definitely headed that way – and anything you purchase from there is going to greatly help us out! And who knows, you may find some things you’ve wanted, or books you always wanted to read, and you will be able to grab them at decent prices!

Comic Relief Podcast


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We’re back… on iTunes!

With everything sorted out, we’re back on iTunes! So if you have an AppleID, why not head into your Podcasts and swing by and give us some returning love! Leave a comment about how much you love us, and drop a rating down for us (maximum stars, obviously, because you love us so much!)

Maico and I hope to get to recording a new episode soon, because we have a lot of things to cover – from movies, to TV shows, to comics themselves!

So hang tight, while we wait for the ripples of life to calm down a little, and your favorite dynamic duo will be back, filling your audio orifices with comic knowledge!

Much love,
– Tawmis


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Why aren’t we on iTunes suddenly?

You may (or may not) have noticed that for some folks, we’re no longer showing up on iTunes. Don’t worry – we’ll be back! This was a result of a plugin that we were using requiring a little extra help to work; so rather than tinker with it, I found another way to submit the podcasts to iTunes. Now, I am not sure if it’s going to pick up the old episodes again, once it validates in the next 24 hours, or if it’s just going to be new episodes going forward. (The suspense is killing you, isn’t it?)

I just wanted to let everyone know, you haven’t gotten rid of us just yet (even though, it’s been quite a bit since Maico and I did an episode together; since I had to have my wife fill in for him at Free Comic Book Day – which, if you haven’t – you should give that episode a listen – either on the site, or on iTunes when it appears there!)

Much love,

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Retro Review: Deathlok.

Welcome back to another Retro Review! This time, I am covering Deathlok. Deathlok first appeared in Astonishing Tales #25 (which I don’t have – my run of Deathlok begins with the following issues, because his first appearance fetches a pretty good price). Now, I came to the Deathlok scene a little late to the game. As I said, he debuted in Astonishing Tales #25, which came out in 1974. I had seen Deathlok around, but it wasn’t until Captain America #286-288, where I really got interested in the character. So I had gone back and collected the previous issues of Astonishing Tales that I could find (and afford, which – to date, was all of them, except his first appearance in Astonishing Tales #25). Like all my Retro Reviews, I enjoy going back and re-reading comics that I collected, because I enjoyed the series back then – and want to see how those same stories hold up today, to my older, more mature (well, that’s debatable) self.

So I just finished reading all the issues of Astonishing Tales (except issue #25, which still eludes me), the Deathlok 4 issue limited series, and then the Deathlok series that ran in the 1990’s – and now I’m here to share my thoughts!

Now the Deathlok stories that ran in Astonishing Tales featured Luther Manning, a soldier who became Deathlok. The stories had their weak moments, to be certain (for example, Ryker – who was the main villain behind the series, seemed way over the top and entirely too difficult to believe) – and he had some pretty lame villains (all created by Ryker, like War-Wolf, and a super tank) – but over all the Astonishing Tales run over Deathlok remained a somewhat enjoyable read. I would not drop the title down as a must read for anyone; but if anyone had some time to kill and wanted to read a mostly entertaining series, I’d recommend it then.

Marvel would eventually want a pitch for a new Deathlok series, and so Michael Collins, a pacifist and a scientist, would be tricked (and mostly forced) into becoming the newest version of Deathlok. Now, it’s a little odd that this version of Deathlok, despite being a new person, looks almost exactly (as Deathlok) as the Luther Manning version of Deathlok. With the same side of the face being metal, having the cybernetic eye, same color scheme and everything. Even the facial traits are similar, despite the fact that Luther Manning was white, and Michael Collins was African American. The only notable difference is the fact that Michael Collins as Deathlok doesn’t wear the American Flag on the armor, over his heart. Now all of that aside, the four issue limited series that introduces Michael Collins and how he becomes Deathlok, and the mental anguish he endures in regards to his family, makes this four issue limited series an excellent read. All four issues weave into one another very nicely; there’s a lot of character development throughout.

Then came the Deathlok series in 1990, featuring Michael Collins, continuing his role as Deathlok. The series started strong and interesting; but as it progressed, it became a roller-coaster of a ride; and not the fun kind; but the kind where “X” amount of issues would be really good, but then the next few issues would have absolutely no direction at all, and feel like fillers. Then there was a change in artists after awhile, where you could see the significant change – and usually not for the better. The starting art seemed fine; but later (it may have even been the same artist; I’d need to look again – it could have been the inker) – the art became very dark, where 90% of the issue was shaded in black (included Deathlok). It began to remind me a lot of Jae Lee’s artistic style (and don’t get me wrong, Jae Lee is an amazing artist; but it’s not an artistic style I enjoy). As a matter of fact, Jae Lee did a guest cover art or two in the series (probably because the art inside was similar to Jae Lee’s art). The art would even go on to become the “cliche, bad 90’s art style” where everyone has long hair and wearing sunglasses, and looks way over the top. This inconsistency made it difficult to enjoy the series.

Where the series also fell short was it’s villains. Deathlok never had a villain to call his own, that pestered him throughout the series. And the unique villains he had were less than… lame? For example, there was the villain, Biohazard… who… I can’t even put into words. Was a brain that was experimented on (of a former Deathlok initiate, who perished – John Kelly), that gained its own sentience, consumed whatever it could, trying to rebuild it’s memories and make sense of itself. I can’t put into words just how much I disliked the entire story, concept, art, even the look of Biohazard. There was just nothing to the villain. We did get to see Moses Magnum, who seemed like he was going to be doing something big – but then, he pretty much falls off the pages of the book until much later in the series, as if the writer suddenly remembered that he had put Moses Magnum in the book earlier as a potential villain for Deathlok to face off again. They say that a hero is only as good as his villains; and because of that, I feel like this Deathlok series suffered, now that I re-read it. (I am sure my teenage self thought that a living brain out to consume Deathlok was a “totally radical idea”).

I feel like the series knew they were in trouble, and needed to make the book stand out; because for no reason at all, Deathlok #19 features a foil cover. Even now, I can’t figure out why, other than they were desperate to catch the reader’s attention. There’s nothing special about this issue. Foil, trick, covers, were usually reserved for special issues, or issue #25, #50, etc – like land mark issues. However, issue #19, has nothing special to the story. It’s not the first issue of the CyberWar story; it’s the third issue (out of 5). There’s literally no reason for a foil cover and a hiked up price cover, because of the foil cover, for this issue. As a matter of fact, this CyberWar story introduces a character named Siege; who, like Deathlok is part human, part Cyborg. Now sometimes, things like this work out – when you introduce a “villain” who is, in many ways, much like our beloved hero. The most famous (in regards of Marvel), I would think is the comparison of Wolverine and Sabretooth. However, Siege, like the rest of the villains that were introduced in this series, simply fell flat.

As I said, early in the series, Moses Magnum was shown as a potential villain for Deathlok, before seemingly being forgotten – before resurfacing for issue #25 (look, another foil cover!) By this time in the series, it’s included guest stars such as Forge, of the X-Men in issue #2 (though, really, even though they have him on the cover, he’s in it for like 2 pages), Misty Knight, also issue #2, Doctor Doom, Thing, Mister Fantastic, Reed Richards, and Wolverine in issue #5, Punisher in issue #6, Ghost Rider in issue #9 and #10, Infinity War crossover in issue #16, Silver Sable in issue #18, and then Black Panther in issues #22-25. The story arc introduces Killjoy as a potential villain; who has an adamantium sword (really? Adamantium? How common is that, these days? Why couldn’t it just be really sharp vibranium, you know, since they’re in Wakanda during this storyline? But, I digress…) – however, once Killjoy is defeated, he literally turns into a whimpering, cowering, loser. So… the potential, killed in two issues. Anyway, with issue #25, Moses Magnum makes his plans known and attacks Wakanda, and Deathlok wants no part of the war, until he sees a young boy killed, thinking it’s his son; he realizes he has to take part, and Moses Magnum is defeated. The Wakanda story is an interesting one, and one that could have been much better, had they not ruined Killjoy as a potential reoccurring villain for Deathlok.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraphs, between the random foil cover for issue #19, and the insane amount of guest stars throughout the series; it definitely felt like they were trying to keep the book afloat, through those guest appearances. And normally there’s nothing wrong with that – all those character cameos were characters that were quite popular in the 90’s – so it’s a natural tactic to have someone pick up a new book to read it because a character they enjoy happens to be on the cover and in a few issues. But the problem comes from that the book seemed to rely on those guest appearances rather than making them organic. Each time someone guest appeared, it seemed to be just for that quick story arc; and then when it was over, the next issue didn’t feel like it connected to the previous one smoothly. So it was more about having those guest appearances, than making a story that seemed to flow. As the series was approaching end of life, it crossed over into the Infinity Crusade where “The Goddess” appeared and told Michael Collins (as Deathlok) that she had kept an eye on him; and then realized, “No wait, you’re not the right one. You’re not worthy after all.” Which sends Michael Collins into this deep thinking issue of why he (and Siege, who was with him) were not worthy and what they had done that was so wrong. Then, Luther Manning (of the current time) begins dreaming that he’s Deathlok and becomes Deathlok, eventually. That’s when Timestream (an ongoing villain for Deathlok, who talks like Yoda – and no, I am not even kidding – shows up and rants about how he will rule the time lines, or something).

That’s when they bring in Luther Manning as Deathlok in the ongoing; but that’s when Timestream makes a third version of Deathlok; so that there’s literally three of them running around in the final story line that involves an overly convoluted and senseless plan revolving the time paradox, and it even involves the Time Police (wish I was kidding here; reminded me of New Gods, meets Judge Dredd, meets the Sylvester Stallone version of the Judge Dredd movie). Essentially, Luther Manning dies, Michael Collins and the Timestream Deathlok version team up; stop and kill the future Timestream, and save the current version of Timestream, who will go on to fulfill (and repeat, I assume?) his destiny. And the Time Police (actually called – Time Variance Authority (or TVA)) are thankful for the timeline being set right, and send Deathlok and Timestream’s version of Deathlok back to their proper time lines. The two Deathloks think about how Luther Manning saved everyone, and the time line, and thank him for his service.

Over all, I’d give the series a “C-.” It’s just below average. It has it’s really good moments, but it’s out weighed by, what I feel is a lack of pacing and artistic problems (for myself, others may utterly disagree with me)!

Let’s hear your thoughts! Let us know on Twitter or Facebook!
– Tawmis


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