Cloak & Dagger (on Freeform)

Honestly, if you’re not watching Cloak & Dagger on Freeform… you’re truly missing out. While they’ve made a few small changes (for example, how they got their powers), the show has been fantastic.

The filming, the writing, the acting – all of it has been absolutely wonderful. Even their “childhood” actors have been pulling it off beautifully when it does a brief flashback.

Take a moment, check out the show – there’s currently three episodes out. For myself, I am going to go out on a ledge and say – I actually have enjoyed the first three episodes of Cloak & Dagger far more than anything I have seen on Netflix – and that’s saying something, because other than Season 2 of Jessica Jones (which I felt like it dragged and was a little all over the place), Netflix and Marvel have been dishing out some incredible things.

You can learn a little more about the comic book versions of Cloak and Dagger on the New Warriors website. You can read about the Cloak & Dagger (Limited Series), Cloak & Dagger (Volume 2), Cloak & Dagger Graphic Novel, and Cloak & Dagger (Volume 3) – Work in Progress. If any of the books interest you and you want to buy them, each one of them has a link to the Affiliate Program that helps us out over here.

– Tawmis

 

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A Plethora Of Indie Comics.

I’m not going to lie. We’re way too backed up with potential interviews due to our scheduling of the podcast becoming very erratic. So what I am going to do is just list them, where to find them, so folks can check them out.

I want to thank everyone who has reached out to us to be on our podcast and talk about their comics – but time is currently not on our side when it comes to scheduling when we’re going to be able to sit down and do our next podcast; and the submissions we’re getting from people keep building (which is utterly flattering!), but it’s also getting to my anxiety that I can’t accommodate these people who have taken the time to share their comics with us.

So first one I wanted to mention is Vengeance, Nevada by B.J. Mendelson. He was kind enough to say that the first issue was ours to post, share, and distribute how we’d see fit. So if you’re interested, I’d recommend downloading it from our site right here: BJ Mendelson – Vengeance v04 copy. The other issues of Vengeance, Nevada can be purchased through ComiXology at VengeanceNevada.com for $2.99. A little background, Issue #1 Credits: Cover Art by Isidore Koliavras. Interior Art and Letters by Peter Czaplarski. (Pronounced Cha-Plar-ski). Story and characters by B.J. Mendelson.

 

Next on the list is Skip To The End. 

Bassist-turned-junkie Jonny Wells is addicted to his past, but the only way to get there is through his music. Insight Comics is publishing Skip to the End, a riveting graphic novel created as an allegory to the history of the legendary band Nirvana.
Skip to the End tells Jonny’s story as he tries to cope with his bandmate and best friend Kirk’s suicide. Twenty years later, Jonny struggles with heroin addiction, lost in the songs they created and desperate to relive the past—until one day he discovers he can. With the aid of a mysterious guitar, Jonny begins to make trips back in time, searching for the roots of Kirk’s unraveling. At Nar-Anon meetings and in conversations with his sponsor Emily, he starts to cope with the events that led to Kirk’s death. But by the time Jonny realizes that his visits can’t change the present, he might be too addicted to stop.

Skip to the End explores music’s transportive property, while sharing a story of friendship, combating addiction, and suicide awareness.

They’re also responsible for another book called Dead Horse, which I would recommend. I’ve only read Book One: Dead Birds, but it starts off with an interesting hook, that leaves you turning the pages, wanting to know what’s going to happen next. Dead Horse was a part of a Kickstarter project that was funded.

If you’re interested (and again, I think you should check it out!), please take a moment to visit the Dead Horse Website to learn more.

 

Next on our list is the colorful, post apocalyptic, sci-fi, mixture of chaos! This is The Fist, who – now, follow me here – has a spaceship (because we all need a space ship if we’re doing the scifi thing!) – but there’s something special about this space ship. It’s… his wife! And if someone talks poorly about his ship – well, they get punched! And punched hard! From the writer, Jordan Kroeger:

It’s a big, action-packed, weird, silly, four-color, fun, dumb love-letter to all the comics, cartoons and video games that formed my brain as a kid.

It’s a book I’ve been working on and off between projects for four years. I “write”, illustrate, color, and publish it all on my own. I say “write” because it’s more of a freeform kind of thing. I use a loose outline, but make up a chunk of it as I go.

The Fist currently has an active Kickstart going, and you can contribute on their Kickstarter Page for The Fist!

We’re not done! Next is a comic from the folks at Darkhorse, who reached out to us working on a book called Gregory Suicide.

​Gregory Suicide is available in comics shops now from DARK HORSE BOOKS. This hardcover graphic novel is written by Eric Grissom (DEADHORSE) with art by Will Perkins (Berware…Comics)

An obsolete A.I. program known as Gregory wakes in an unfamiliar world and is haunted by the memories of his past lives, each ending in death by his own hand. On the path to discovering the truth about himself, Gregory slips into the trenches of two opposing forces: the deadly A.I. who replaced him and a group of humans who want to destroy him and all his kind. In the end, Gregory must choose a side in the coming revolution and the key to everything may lie in the strange visions he has between life and death.

Set in a dystopian future, the thought-provoking science fiction explored in the the book’s 144 pages brings to mind the likes of Blade Runner, Looper, and Westworld. Rather than merely relying on genre tropes, Gregory Suicide uses the vivid aesthetic as a backdrop to a universal story about human struggle.

“Gregory Suicide is the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever worked on,” explains Perkins. “It deals with what it means to be flawed and the wonderful humanity in that. It tackles our disposable society while still having plenty of murder and mayhem. There is also a heart in Eric’s writing that you don’t find in typical genre comics.”

For a taste of Gregory Suicide, a free prologue can be downloaded from GregorySuicide.com, where you can also learn more about the graphic novel.

Next on our list, coming from Iron Age is a book called Jaded. This was recently launched – and funded – through their Kickstarter – Which is still live – so feel free to donate to a great book!

Jaded takes a hard look at four super heroes facing personal tragedies that find that their lives – and even their core values – are forever changed.

It all begins with Adam Sovereign who has a persistent suicide jumper forever change his life… The following issues follow other characters (who are all beautifully designed) including Kid Prodigy, Grady O’Connell, and Etherea! The world… is it about to be destroyed or saved… by the arrival of Adam Sovereign? Go check out their Kickstarter – check out the rewards – and back this thing up!

We’re not done yet! (I told you we had a lot backed up, and now you can see my anxiety of why I felt guilty not being able to accommodate all these wonderful projects!) James Emmett reached out to me about their book I Am Hexed. Here’s what James had to say:

I’m James Emmett, the writer of I Am Hexed, a comic that we’re going to be releasing through a Kickstarter campaign this June.

Kirsten Thompson is our writer on I Am Hexed, whose past work includes being the linguist on Kim & Kim Volume 2, editing Strange Wit, The Bargain, and other projects. She is also a staff writer at ComicsMNT, and has contributed to Teen Vogue, Femsplain, Women Write About Comics, Talking About Comics and various other sites.

Christianne Goudreau is doing amazing work on the interior art for I Am Hexed. Christianne was also recently nominated for a Dwayne McDuffie Award for Diversity for the webcomic Full Circle.

Sara Duvall (Little Corvus), the cover artist on I Am Hexed, is an Eisner-nominated queer, non-binary Latinx comic artist. They’ve worked on projects such as Stela’s digital short-comic Deja Brew, and recently wrapped up a historical fiction graphic novel from Abrams, debuting in 2018.

Taylor Esposito is a comic book lettering professional and owner of Ghost Glyph Studios. As a staff letterer at DC, he lettered titles such as Red Hood and The Outlaws, Constantine, Bodies, CMYK, and New Suicide Squad. Taylor has also been credited on numerous titles for Marvel as a production artist.

So what is I Am Hexed, you ask yourself?

Hexed is a magical thriller mystery. There’s magic, personal drama, politics, and an accidentally carnivorous plant. Witches have been a part of the political fabric of Washington D.C. since it was founded. It’s only within the last few decades (since the 1960s, witches chose to show off their broomsticks) that they have revealed themselves. Now, with the struggle for equality ongoing, Charlotte Helm, a junior staff member from Roanoke has been thrust into the murky and dangerous waters of political games between witches and their political adversaries.

With her boss under suspicion for political corruption, Charlotte, her ex-girlfriend and whatever other help she can find, scrambles to keep one step ahead of the political and magical forces hunting her as she tries to figure out why she’s D.C.’s Most Wanted Witch.

I Am Hexed is heading to Kickstarter soon. Be sure to follow them on https://www.iamhexed.com/ and on Twitter for updates on their upcoming Kickstarter!

The last one is not a comic – but has to do with comics! Jaime S. and I chatted comics on Twitter – and they shared their piece that they wrote in regards to Nightwing & Batgirl – and it’s a long piece – but it’s also so very well done – and stays true to the characters! You can tell there’s a lot of caring and thought that went into the Nightwing & Batgirl: Year One piece. So if you’re interested, you can read Jaime’s piece right over here.

Once again, I want to thank everyone who submitted to us. Sorry we couldn’t accommodate doing an actual interview on the podcast. Perhaps sometime in the future! But I wanted to get a chance to talk about your books – at least in a post!

  • Tawmis

 

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Wolverine: He’s The Best At What He Does…

… and currently, that means coming back from the dead. Sorry, Wolverine… you have some serious competition for resurrection counts. Jean Grey still holds that title. Probably higher count in Jean Grey alone than all the Marvel Universe characters combined… But that’s another blog. This is all about Logan coming back from the dead, after being deceased for a few years.

Charles Soule who wrote the Death of Wolverine mini, in which Wolverine’s healing factor has failed him, and in the end, is encased in admantium… somehow comes back from that. And that’s part of the mystery. Well, Charles Soule will be writing Hunt For Wolverine: Dead Ends which is apparently going to lead into… wait for it… a new Wolverine on going series. Now, since Charles Soule wrote the death of Wolverine, and he’s writing this mini that leads into the new Wolverine series, I think it’s a fairly safe assumption that Charles Soule will probably also be the writer of the new Wolverine series; as I am sure Marvel had his death and resurrection all planned, from the moment Wolverine’s death was pitched.

Unfortunately, for me, Wolverine is one of those characters that has become over saturated. The irony – not because of Wolverine himself. Back in February of this year, I had shared my thoughts on this whole Hunt for Wolverine gimmick. And in that post, I talked about how I was tired of all the Wolverine knock offs…

We’ve currently got…

  • 616 Logan is now back.
  • Daken “Wolverine’s Son” -sigh-
  • X-23 (who I’ve come to tolerate)
  • Gabrielle (the uh clone of X-23… really people?)
  • Jimmy Hudson (coming from the Ultimates universe)
  • And then there’s Old Man Logan… a future… version of Wolverine….?

All of these characters running around the Marvel Universe… all at the same time… all directly tied to Wolverine in some fashion… is, literally, overkill.

So I’d like to say I am excited about our regular Wolverine’s return, but I am so burnt out on seeing anything related to Wolverine… And that makes me sad.

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– Tawmis

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The new WEST COAST AVENGERS.

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Well, first let me disclose – I am happy for those that will enjoy this version of the West Coast Avengers. So before I go too deep into my thoughts about it, let’s go over this version.

First, it will be written by Kelly Thompson – who has written Hawkeye, Rogue & Gambit, and quite a few other books. The art duties will fall on Stefano Caselli.

So let’s talk about the cast. First, we have Clint Barton (the original Hawkeye) who will probably be the leader of the team. Then there’s Hawkeye (Kate Bishop). Kate’s boyfriend, who I believe goes by the name Fuse. Joining them is Gwenpool, along with Quentin Quire (from the pages of the X-Men) better known as Kid Omega. And then rounding up the group is America Chavez, who I think just goes by the name America. The first issue comes out Wednesday, August 22.

Now, it might be me and my idea of continuity, that Marvel seems to have no problem forgetting. But in the piece on Marvel’s site, they said:

Like the original West Coast Avengers, the team will be living together—but it’s not quite the same Tony Stark-funded flat that we saw in the ‘80s. Instead, to get funding, the team will be part of a reality show while living together under the same roof.

Now. Wait a minute. Why does this sound very familiar? Oh, that’s right. The New Warriors did this before! Which led to Marvel’s event Civil War, in which over 600 children (as well as several members of the New Warriors; including Night Thrasher, Namorita, and Microbe) were killed when Nitro ignited himself.

So now, these superheroes are going to do the same thing? Film a reality show? And not consider the similar consequences, that in terms of the Marvel timeline was not that long ago? (I would love to see a story where the New Warriors face off against the West Coast Avengers to tell them what a bad idea this is).

I was a huge fan of the original West Coast Avengers run, because I loved all of the characters that were on the team from my long history of reading Avengers (beginning with Avengers #159). My problem with this version is; other than Hawkeye (Clint), I am not familiar with the rest of the members (I know of them all, except for Fuse – who I know nothing about), but couldn’t tell anything about their stories, origins, or anything. And the idea that they’re doing a reality show, similar to what the New Warriors did, without considering the fresh wound that should have, admittedly bothers me. You’d think the super hero community would be like, “Whoa! Stop. This is not a good idea. Remember when the New Warriors did it and all those people died?” And maybe there will be some super hero opposition; especially if it’s the New Warriors, I’d pick up those issues for sure.

What are your thoughts about this West Coast Avengers – you excited about the characters they have selected? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter! We’d love to hear your thoughts, whether you disagree or agree!

  • Tawmis

 

 

 

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X-Men: Extermination.

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First, I must congratulate the X-Offices for not making this X-Men: X-Termination.

That alone deserves quite a bit of an applause; because that just seems like that would have been the easy answer to call this book. (And did anyone else, besides me, think that was Rachel Summers next to Ahab? So, now rather than young Jean Grey imitating – poorly, I might add – the original Jean Grey, now she’s going to be imitating Rachel Summers/Grey.

Apparently red headed mutants don’t know how to have any original ideas.

But, let’s dig into what this will be about… From writer Ed Brisson himself:

Ed Brisson: This series is about the Original Five—Jean, Bobby, Warren, Hank and Scott. Years ago, they were brought from the past to our present so that they could see how badly things went wrong with their older selves and, theoretically, fix it. They were only meant to be here briefly, but have stuck around for far, far too long and their presence is finally going to have some very serious consequences—not just for themselves and the X-Men, but for all of mutantkind. If the X-Men are here, then they’re not where they’re supposed to be, fighting those they’re supposed to fight. What happens when that past starts to unravel? What’s the butterfly effect on our present?

Now… I don’t know how time lines work, but I’ve argued for quite some time, that the moment Hank yanked out the “616” versions of themselves; their adult selves should have either ceased to exist or been drastically changed. For example, when the time displaced Angel got his energy wings; how did “616” Archangel not suddenly sprout energy wings also, rather than the metallic wings? I even wrote an earlier piece that ended up broken into two parts; about this very thing. I even used how tampering with the “616” past, as Legion did, which resulted in the (accidental) death of Charles Xavier led to the Age of Apocalypse. So… how has the “616” X-Men being yanked out of the past not also triggered a similar result? Essentially the very thing that Ed Brisson is basing this “Extermination” on when he said:

If the X-Men are here, then they’re not where they’re supposed to be, fighting those they’re supposed to fight. What happens when that past starts to unravel? What’s the butterfly effect on our present?

So, what makes Extermination odd is that it is about the original five X-Men (once again, focusing, what appears to be the time displaced X-Men), but then, it seems to take place in the future (since it seems to revolve around Ahab and the Hound program; and that Marvel even said:

The highly secretive series, brought to life—or death—by writer Ed Brisson and artist Pepe Larraz, tells a story set 20 years in the future as all of mutant existence is on the brink.

So now our troublesome time displaced mutants, who got yanked out of the future, into the present, are now also in a messed up future. And why is it 20 years in the future? And why is it the original X-Men? Where are the other mutants? I am sure it will be all uncovered in this book, but this book – let’s face it – is nothing more than an (ongoing?) What If…? issue because whatever they write in this grim future, will probably never truly come to pass for Marvel (similar to Days of Future Past, or any of the alternate realities we’ve seen others come from, such as Cable and Bishop). So they will have the liberty to kill and do whatever they want in this series, because it truly has no real consequences to the actual future of Marvel characters.

  • Tawmis
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All of the Episode/Issue Pages…

Now have a link to the individual episode on iTunes. If you happen to have an iTunes account, consider rating us on there (and if you’re so inclined, please leave us a review as well!) It helps increase our popularity and our reach!

We’d love you forever, for it. Really, we would.

 

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Comic Relief Podcast – Issue #29 – To Infinity And Beyond!

Click the image for a larger size!

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In this episode, the dynamic duo of Tawmis Logue & Maico Moreno discuss and geek over Avengers: Infinity War. BE WARNED! If you have NOT seen the movie – this episode is so full of spoilers, that the two felt like spoiled children! Do not listen to this episode if you have not watched Avengers: Infinity War. Or if you have not seen it, and you’re here because you want to listen to our beautiful, sultry voices as we geek out about fictional characters, that have been building up in the cinematic universe for ten years – well, then go on, listen to this episode! We not only discuss the movie, but some of the moments in the comics – as well as some of the characters themselves, and their references to various comics.

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.

As a side note – if you are listening and wondering what we’re talking about, when I am talking about pulling a guy out of a burning SUV… read about it here and see the video.

Now on iTunes!

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Thunderbolts – Justice Like Lightning (1-33) – Kurt Busiek/Mark Bagley Run.

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First, I am going to re-read Fabian’s run next. But first I wanted to just focus on Kurt Busiek’s run of Thunderbolts. If you know anything about me, you know how much I love obscure characters – or, more so – characters who are not fleshed out, and suddenly given a chance to shine. One prime example is The New Warriors. Fabian’s original run of The New Warriors was amazing; because he took these characters that had been used on and off again, only a few times, and fleshed them out beautifully. (Evan Skolnick, who picked up after Fabian left the book, continued the incredible book until the end).

So what’s the concept of Thunderbolts – let’s start there. Well, after the events of Onslaught, which led to the Heroes Reborn fiasco – in an attempt to stop some merger between Professor Charles Xavier (of the X-Men) and Magneto, which became a being known as Onslaught, all the heroes (except for the X-Men, pretty much) were apparently “blinked away” when Onslaught was defeated – this left the world without heroes. (What had actually happened is they were transported to a “Second Earth”). So, our world is currently without any heroes, so a new team shows up consisting of Citizen V, Atlas, Meteorite, Mach-1, Songbird, and Techno.

The first thing that stuck out to me, was how great their costumes looked. These “new” heroes looked pretty amazing. (Still some of my favorite costume designs to this day!) Anyway…

So the Thunderbolts are seen fighting this organization who is going around kidnapping people (kids, mostly) who are homeless after the carnage of Onslaught, and they even go toe to toe with the Wrecking Crew (and again, if you know me, you know how much I love the Wrecking Crew!) So, as they go around, getting good press, Dallas Riordan – who represents the Mayor asks to officially endorse the Thunderbolts, and Citizen V agrees. (Note that Atlas immediately notices how attractive she is – that comes into play later).

But then, at the very end of the very first issue, the big reveal happens. There aren’t heroes at all. As a matter of fact, they’re some of the most notorious villains in the Marvel Universe, led by, undoubtedly, one of the most intelligent, and also, one of the most vile villains of them all!

Turns out Citizen V is actually Baron Zemo; Techno is actually Fixer; Mach-1 is actually Beetle; Songbird is actually Screaming Mimi; Atlas is actually Goliath; and Meteorite is actually Moonstone! And they were all former members of the Masters of Evil!

Now, someone might ask, “Well how is that any different than Suicide Squad over at DC?” Easy. This kicks it up a notch. The folks in Suicide Squad typically do what they do, because they’re forced to – and none of them are using another alias to hide who they are. With Thunderbolts – it’s all about the deception of being heroes by posing as new people. We learn that Zemo’s plan is to pose as new heroes to essentially gain the same level access that the Avengers, Fantastic Four, etc., all had – being the only big team of (new) heroes replacing the Fantastic Four, Avengers, etc. Other teams still exist (such as the New Warriors), but they’re not on the level of the Thunderbolts who are tackling folks like The Wrecking Crew.

Things begin to get a little twisted when a new team of the Masters of Evil suddenly surfaces, being led by the Crimson Cowl. This new version of the Masters of Evil consists of Crimson Cowl (a woman, by the shape of her body), a mutated Tigershark, Cyclone (Pierre Fresson), Man-Killer, Klaw, and Flying Tiger. Baron Zemo is immediately furious that another team has begun calling themselves The Masters of Evil (although, technically this is beneficial, because it would throw off the scent that the Thunderbolts are former members of the Masters of Evil).

By the 4th issue, we’re introduced to Jolt, who was orphaned during the events of Onslaught, captured by the organization who was grabbing kids, and experimented on which resulted in her having powers. She is a literal dictionary/fanatic of all things heroes and villains, and has a great amount of knowledge of all the heroes and villains around the world. She joins the Thunderbolts, when the media asks if she will be joining, and Meteorite convinced Citizen V that having her on the team would be a good idea, despite how much he disagrees with the notion.

When Issue #11 rolls around, the event Heroes Return happens, where essentially all the heroes that “blinked away” to the Second Earth, suddenly return back to Earth (because I think the Heroes Reborn idea was a stinker, and Marvel realized it, and needed to return the heroes back to the regular world). This is where this issue felt like it was a drastic change in pace; because Citizen V/Zemo finally got the file access he has wanted for the past ten issues, and he forgoes it all to reveal they’re the Masters of Evil – though he explains his actions as that he was tired of the charade and that too many members on his team were beginning to enjoy being heroes too much (essentially Atlas, Mach-1, and Songbird), and he was tired of Meteorite (Moonstone) trying to manipulate him.

I asked Kurt that if the whole Heroes Return skewed any plans he had for Thunderbolts and that’s why Zemo did what he did and Kurt replied:

It seems crazy to me that they didn’t have concrete plans, because the series clearly has many layers that are being put down. For example, the romance between Atlas and Dallas bloomed; but Atlas couldn’t tell her who he really is, because that would reveal who he truly was (Goliath), and when Zemo revealed they were the Masters of Evil, she feels absolutely betrayed… then there was the question of who is Crimson Cowl… there was the question of who is fixing things in the new base – more on that in a second. Back to Thunderbolts… One of the greatest moments is when Graviton is released back into the world. I’ve mentioned it before, how Avengers #159 was one of my first comics (along with Uncanny X-Men #121). Well, Avengers #159 featured none other than Graviton as the villain; so I have always been very partial to him. He was my first “big, seemingly unbeatable” villain I had read in comics (since in Uncanny X-Men #121, Alpha Flight were considered good guys, that the X-Men were fighting). Even in Avengers #159, Graviton, for all of his intense and insane power, had an extremely fragile ego. So, when the Thunderbolts seem like they can’t beat them, it’s Meteorite who uses her days as a shrink, to get inside of Graviton’s head and rattle his ego, so that he leaves to go find a purpose. (And that will also come back to haunt the Thunderbolts in the very near future).

Now what’s something every kid who reads comic want? To design a super hero or a super villain that would be featured in Marvel Comics, right? Well, the folks of Wizard Magazine held a contest to do just that. And so Charcoal, the Burning Man was created. Imagine, designing a character, winning, and getting it in (at the time) one of Marvel’s most popular magazines? And not just a one off, but the character becomes a part of the team? You would think that would make anyone excited enough to know that a character they designed had become a part of the Marvel Universe, and a part of a popular team. I’m going to dip here and talk about what happened next with the character briefly. Kurt also answered this previously on his FormSpring page on June 10th 2013: “The issue with Charcoal is that the creators [Wallace & Kroja Frost] of the character entered him in a contest which they knew meant that if he won he’d be property of Marvel, then after the fact tried to threaten a lawsuit in order to get Marvel to pay them lots of money. That seems pretty crass to me — if you don’t want Marvel to own the character if you win, don’t enter the contest.

At the time they were making their fuss, Charcoal had been temporarily killed — Fabian had done a story where he was seemingly dead, but would be coming back. But Tom Brevoort didn’t like the way the creators were acting, so even though Marvel resolved the issue, Tom asked Fabian to simply leave Charcoal dead. If they were going to be a pain in the ass about it, don’t reward them by having the character appear regularly.

In the end, it was a fun way to involve fans in the book, but one that left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, so it’s probably best that Charcoal wound up not sticking around.”

So you know that Charcoal is about to end up dead – but that doesn’t happen in Kurt’s run, so we won’t talk about that yet. I am going to side with Kurt – as I said, I would have been happy just to have a character I designed be in a Marvel Comic, let alone on a team, let alone on a popular book at the time. The fact that it left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth at Marvel, sealed the deal that they would never do a contest like that, so that there’s no legal issues to deal with. It was so bad, that even though, it sounds like Marvel ended up sorting out the rights, they just figured it was better off to leave the character dead, and leave it at that.

One of the craziest moments of Thunderbolts, is when Hawkeye reveals he’s not Dread Knight (who he posed as to “join” the Thunderbolts), that he will only lead the team if Mach-1 turns himself in; because he can accept criminals but not murderers, which Mach-1 committed during his time as Beetle. Beetle eventually agrees to turn himself in, and in prison does some redeeming things that show, he truly does want to be a hero.

Anyway, one of the coolest issues was Issue #25 of the Thunderbolts, because this is when the Thunderbolts clash with the Crimson Cowl’s version of the Masters of Evil – and this version has 25 members! By this time, after Baron Zemo revealed who they were; only Techno stuck by his side; and the rest defected, and would come under the leadership of Hawkeye, who, as an experienced Avenger (and a former criminal himself, to some degree) knew all about redemption. Her massive team consisted of (are you ready?) – Crimson Cowl (leader), Aqueduct, Bison, Blackwing, Boomerang, Cardinal, Constrictor, Cyclone (Pierre Fresson), Dragonfly, Eel (Edward Lavell), Flying Tiger, Icemaster, Joystick, Klaw, Lodestone, Man-Ape, Man-Killer, Quicksand, Scorcher, Shatterfist, Shockwave, Slyde, Sunstroke, Supercharger, and Tiger Shark! (Now a lot of those you might be saying, “Who?” – but that’s why I love Kurt’s stuff – he’s got such a vast knowledge of the obscure that he can pull them out for this kind of thing!) The Thunderbolts take over the former Masters of Evil fortress, which is enormous and that’s when odd things begin to happen – things like their uniforms randomly get fixed, one of their jets is redesigned, atomic steeds (mostly used by Black Knight) are made for everyone – but no one knows whose doing all of this!

With the defeat of the Masters of Evil, it’s revealed that it’s none other than Dallas Riordan who is actually the Crimson Cowl who has been leading the Masters of Evil. As if that were not bad enough, Graviton comes back – this time with a purpose, hoisting a huge portion of the ground in the air (similar to what he had done in Avengers #159), claiming he was a king of a sovereign land and that he imbues people who swear loyalty to him with the ability to fly. Jolt being the hero fanatic that she is, knows that X-51 is in the area and enlists his help, who gives her “Anti Gravity Bands” which is how he flies. Meteorite (now accepting that she is just going to be called Moonstone), takes the bands and throws them at Graviton who suddenly folds within himself, similar to a black hole, and he’s defeated again. (Oh, but he’ll be back in Fabian’s run – but I will get to that later!)

Moonstone soon finds, despite all her efforts to manipulate things her way, she has begun caring about both Jolt and Hawkeye, who were originally just tools for her to use. The relationship with Hawkeye gets really intimate during a training session the two are having, and she removes her clothing and the two embrace and kiss. That kiss and moment is broken up shortly after, when Songbird walks in on them to tell them something.

A short while later, Hawkeye decides it’s time to find out who has been fixing everything around the base, and the team separates to find out who it is. They find the figure in the shadows, and Atlas talks him out of the shadows and we discover it’s another obscure character – none other than Ogre. Ogre is happy to be accepted as main technician of the team, and as he heads back is ambushed by Techno, who puts Ogre in suspended animation and assumes his form!

And that roughly sums up Kurt Busiek’s run on Thunderbolts. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the greatness that’s in the first 33 issues of his run. I can not recommend it enough to go out there, find it (in trade or individual issues) and give this thing a read!

– Tawmis

 

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ElfQuest #4 & #5 (Original Quest) – #FortyYearsOfPointedEars

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Been busy with a lot of things going on (before you ask, we’re doing all right now) – but I definitely wanted to get back to talking about ElfQuest, especially since Issue #4 of the Original Quest was probably one of my favorite issues for a very long time. (Another set of issues would eventually come along and usurp it’s top issue position, but that’s a long ways down the line!) This issue essentially gives the reader some backstory to Cutter, his father, his mother, and members of his tribe – and why, besides humans – that their numbers are so few. But not only do we learn Cutter’s father & mother’s names, we also get to track his family 10 generations back, and we discover that Cutter has the title of Blood of Ten Chiefs (which, come on, is a pretty cool title to have). So, in the story, Leetah who can’t stop dreaming about Cutter (much to her dismay) hears howling and goes to eavesdrop on what’s happening.

Cutter pricks his hand, and for each drop of blood, they call out the chiefs before Cutter, all in order. This continues until the drop for Bearclaw, his father is called out, in which Cutter catches the drop of blood with his sword, New Moon (which you’re about to learn has some significance; but that’s just the tip of the iceberg about this special little sword).

 

As we go into the flashback of Bearclaw, being told by Treestump, the oldest member of the Wolfriders, we learn that not only did he not have a problem tampering with the humans, but he also dealt with (and gamed with) the very trolls that would eventually go on to betray Cutter and his tribe (locking them out so that only the desert was before them). But we also see that it’s Bearclaw who owns New Moon; and since we know Bearclaw isn’t the leader of the tribe, we can assume something happens to him.

As I said, it wasn’t just the humans that were a problem for the Wolfriders. A new threat enters their woods, and becomes a thread to elf and human alike; killing for sport. The Wolfriders sense it during one of their hunts, and before they know what’s happening, the creature that became known as Madcoil struck with a vengeance, killing the one that could heal people first – murdering Rain, with a brutal swipe of it’s claw. But Rain was just one of the many casualties. Among the slain were other elves, including Joyleaf, Cutter’s mother.

This made Bearclaw furious and he attempted to hunt Madcoil down on his own, but young Cutter would not let him go alone. Bearclaw did sneak off and try to face off with Madcoil and paid for it, with his life. Cutter found his dying father, and took New Moon for himself and returned to the tribe and formed a plan. With his tribe, he was able to lure Madcoil out and deliver the killing blow with New Moon.

By the end of the tale, Leetah has a much deeper understanding of not only the Wolfriders, and what they have endured and what they have lost, but also a much deeper understanding of Cutter.

In ElfQuest #5 of the Original Quest, the story centers around these large horse like creatures that the Sun Villagers call “Zwoots.” Several of these creatures can be spotted around Sorrow’s End as beasts of burden; but when a rumbling volcano sends these untamed zwoots in the desert on a stampede that often takes them through Sorrow’s End; as the villagers hide, and accept that the zwoots will destroy much of their land and food, the Wolfriders offer to find a way to save Sorrow’s End by diverting the Zwoot stampede. The Wolfriders do manage to divert the wild Zwoots, and then they proceeded to hunt some of them during the stampede as forms of meat; and Scouter and Dewshine of the Wolfriders, even try to bring a wild zwoot to the village to be tamed and be used as a beast of burden; however, the zwoot is erratic and cause Dewshine to be flung from it and wounded.

Leetah is able to get to Dewshine and save her from being trampled, and similar to how she healed Redlance, she now uses her magical abilities to heal and save Dewshine. In this episode, you can also see the interaction between Wolfriders and Sun Folk have really developed and the two have come to accept one another. And later that night, Leetah finally surrenders to Recognition, and she and Cutter “seal the deal” if you will.

When Savah appears as an Astral Projection to tell Rayek that Leetah has accepted Cutter’s Recognition, Rayek determines that there’s no place for him in Sorrow’s End anymore; now that the Wolfriders are there, there’s ample protectors for Sorrow’s End.

Rayek determines that, with him not being needed, that there might be something out there for him; similar to how the Wolfriders found Sorrow’s End, perhaps there is something out there – even though he has no Lodestone – that he can go out there and find.

So what is Rayek’s fate? We will find that out soon enough. However, issue #6 fast forwards a few years, and I will cover that next time I do another ElfQuest post!

– Tawmis

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ElfQuest #3 (Original Quest) – #FortyYearsOfPointedEars

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Back again – this time to talk about the original quest of ElfQuest #3. A little reflection on what happened previously with our beloved Wolfriders – Cutter (chief of the Wolfriders) rescued a tribesman named Redlance, which resulted in the humans burning down the forest – and the Wolfriders were forced to go underground to where the trolls lived. The trolls turned around and quickly betrayed them. The Wolfriders braved the desert sands, following Skywise’s lodestone, which led them to a group of desert dwelling elves, known as Sun Folk. So at the end of the second issue, the Wolfriders were taken before Savah, the Mother of Memory, who is the eldest among the Sun Folk, and certainly centuries older than the oldest Wolfrider. She goes on to explain the same story that we saw in the first issue, that the humans attacked the elves of the Palace, our of fear, when the confused elves extended their hand in friendship. She explains that her own people were forced to also make the trek across the desert, and that’s how Sorrow’s End (the name of the Sun Folk’s village) was formed.

Cutter asks if Savah is what is called one of the High Ones; and she assures him, though she may be old, she is not one of the High Ones. The High Ones are the first elves to have landed on the world, from inside the Palace. The Wolfriders celebrate one of the High Ones, as a part of their bloodline (but more about that in the next issue! So hold on to your hats – or wolf fur – for right now, we will get into that tomorrow!)

Eventually, with the Wolfriders settled among the Sun Folk, the Sun Folk determine it’s a cause for celebration that there’s other elves – and that the Wolfriders are welcome in Sorrow’s End. The Wolfriders see that the Sun Folk are very different, not just in appearance, skin tone, or clothing – but in the way they celebrate, their music, their very culture is something that’s utterly different than anything any of the Wolfriders have ever seen before. All of the Sun Folk seem very welcoming to the Wolfriders, despite those differences. All of the Sun Folk, save one.

Rayek is less than pleased with the arrival of the Wolfriders. There’s several reasons that Rayek’s hatred of the Wolfriders runs deep – these new elves are excellent hunters, which puts Rayek’s value in Sorrow’s End, much lower. They’re new and different and catch the attention of many of the Sun Folk, when Rayek and his power, might, and magic, was often the center of the people of Sorrow’s End. But the deepest part of that hatred is born out of sheer jealousy of Cutter – and his inability to understand, that in Rayek’s eyes, Leetah is to be his and his alone. But something draws Cutter repeatedly to Leetah, from the very moment he saw her during the siege on Sorrow’s End – something that makes her irresistible to him.

During one of the days, Cutter is out hunting, when he spots Rayek and taunts him that hypnotizing his prey is unfair and takes the game out of the hunt. Rayek doesn’t take kindly to Cutter’s taunt, and turns around and uses the hypnotized animal as an example of what Rayek will do to Cutter if he continues to get in his way, and does not respect him.

Later, Cutter is seen wistfully leaning on his wolf, gazing into Sorrow’s End, and Treestump explains that when two elves see one another and Recognize one another – there’s nothing that can be done, but accept it. You learn that there’s a thing in the world of ElfQuest called Recognition. This is a essentially instinct built into an elf’s genetic pattern, triggered when two elves whose genes would combine to make a good, viable, elf come in contact with one another. Through Recognition, an elf with a Soul Name (not all elves have Soul Names) will have their Soul Name known by the other. So then, what’s a Soul Name? I’d best describe it as the undeniable truth about who you are, down to the very fiber of your being, void of any deception or lies. So essentially, the person knows who you are, fully and truly. That’s about to be important in this issue.

Rayek, tired of Cutter and the Wolfriders, challenges him to a Sun Folk custom called The Challenge of the Head, Hand and Heart. This forces Leetah to make a choice between Cutter and Rayek, and if she can not, they will compete for her hand. Leetah wants to choose Rayek, because they have been courting and flirting for a long time; but when she turns and looks at Cutter, she feels that Recognition; but thinks that she can’t choose Cutter, because she would rather mate with his wolf than him. (Why would she say that? Well, because she knows Cutter down to his core – but still, seems a little extreme, right? He seems like a great guy, and an attractive one to boot! Well, the next issue tomorrow I go over, will shed some light on this!) Unable to choose, the competition begins, and fate will decide who is to be with Leetah based on who wins. Skywise allows Cutter to wear his lodestone for good luck (since it was lucky enough to lead them to Sorrow’s End).

There are three competitions that they must complete. The first one has them blind folded and standing on two sticks that the Sun Folk move up and down, back and forward on a circular device. Cutter and Rayek seem evenly matched her for a considerably long time, trying to knock the other off, but it’s Cutter who eventually wins the first competition.

The second competition has the Sun Folk taking Rayek’s dagger and Cutter’s sword, New Moon (which he puts up a fight surrendering; the importance of that sword and why it means so much will also come up the next issue). Their weapons are hidden in a nearby cave. But to make it more tricky, both Cutter and Rayek are blindfolded, their hands tied behind their back. So now they must escape their bondage, remove their blind fold, and find and recover their weapon. Cutter does so and stumbles and sees New Moon in a small crevice (similarly, Rayek’s dagger is hidden in the same fashion). Cutter’s not able to reach it, while Rayek uses his necklace to create a device to grab his dagger. He returns to Sorrow’s End and finds that Cutter is already there, defeating Rayek in the second competition. It turns out as Cutter leaned in to get it, the lodestone did that whole magnetic thing and got the New Moon for Cutter.

The third competition is about facing their fears. Cutter’s fear is revealed to be heights. So they go to a place (if you look, you can see it at the end of the second issue as well!) known as The Bridge of Destiny. For Cutter to win this, he must overcome his fear of heights, cross the Bridge of Destiny, and touch the sun stone on the other side, then cross back across the Bridge of Destiny successfully. Clearly, the most lethal of the three tests – as falling off the Bridge of Destiny means falling several hundred feet to your death on the hot sands below. Cutter makes the attempt to try and cross the Bridge of Destiny, but between his own fear, and the winds that threaten to blow him off the bridge, Cutter’s not able to, and is overcome with fear and returns back to safety. Not to let this slide, Rayek takes this opportunity to try and belittle Cutter and his foolish fear of heights. Rayek strolls out onto the Bridge of Destiny, arms wide, walking backwards, taunting how Cutter is gutless and isn’t someone worthy of Leetah’s hand. However, Rayek’s overconfidence is his undoing as a gust of wind knocks him off his balance, and knocks him from the Bridge of Destiny. It is only by sheer luck that Rayek is able to barely catch the edge of the Bridge of Destiny. Cutter, fearful that Rayek will fall to his death, pushes his fear down, stomach churning, and slowly crawls towards Rayek in attempt to rescue him; and in that moment, Leetah mentally calls out Cutter’s Soul Name, which is Tam.

And this issue ends, literally, with a cliff hanger.

You can read the original quest, ElfQuest– online, for free – recolored (with the screenshots seen in this write up) – online, for free – legally – on the ElfQuest website! I would highly recommend it!

Here’s some cool bonus stuff. Each of the issues of the Original Quest had prints on the back of each issue. Issue #1 had Cutter, #2 had Leetah, #3 had Rayek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was a nice thing to have in the third issue – a break down of the Wolfriders (click on it for a larger image) – :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, a black and white cover of Fantasy Quarterly #1 which is where ElfQuest officially first appeared:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shade & Sweet Water,

  • Tawmis

See you tomorrow for more ElfQuest goodness!

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