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

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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!

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– 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.

Interested in purchasing ElfQuest? Use our Affiliate link and help us out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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ElfQuest #2 (Original Quest) – #FortyYearsOfPointedEars

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Continuing the celebration of Forty Years of Pointed Ears, you can read ElfQuest #1 (Original Quest) piece from yesterday… Today, I am going to talk about ElfQuest #2 from the original quest.

As you can see from the cover, you can tell that Wendy Pini is an amazing artist. But as always, never judge a book by it’s cover – well, unless it’s ElfQuest and Wendy Pini is doing the art of the cover and the inside.

We return to the Wolfriders having been betrayed by the trolls now staring at a vast and endless sea of scorching hot sands. Once again, Wendy Pini takes the time to draw some beautifully pieces in these panels, where each of the Wolfriders stand out in their appearance and convey such realistic emotion in the panels. Cutter is feeling the doubt of being a young chief and leader of the Wolfriders, while Treestump, one of the oldest living members of the Wolfriders assures him that things will be fine.

Remember, in the previous issue, where I said everything has a consequence, and Wendy and Richard have set things up? Well, the lodestone that Skywise acquired from the trolls (before their nasty betrayal) once again comes into play as it continues to always point in the same direction. (Rest assured, this isn’t the only time that lodestone comes into play… but much more on that later).

One of the most incredible things about ElfQuest (aside from the art and story) is the unbreakable bond that exists between Cutter and Skywise; they’re more than best friends, as they say in the series: We are brothers in all but blood. That friendship shows as the series progresses – but I am getting ahead of myself again. Believing that the lodestone is pointing them to their new home, they follow it’s lead. The Wolfriders venture int the desert – and struggle through the searing heat of the sun, with no food, and no water (until Cutter is pricked by a cactus and cuts it in half out of frustration – only to discover that it contains water).

The panel where you see Rainsong, with her infant Wing, and young daughter, Newstar, you really get a sense that what these trolls have done, by tricking the Wolfriders to be stuck, is a pretty despicable act. That point is further driven, when we get to see Redlance (who was captured and wounded by the humans in the previous issue), is barely able to cling onto his wolf.

Eventually the gut wrenching moment comes, where Redlance knows he’s slowing the others down – and that he will wait for them to find water and food and come back for him (knowing full well, that may never happen). Nightfall, his lifemate, refuses to leave his side.

Cutter makes a promise that he will come back for them. It’s a touching moment, where he’s forced to leave Redlance and Nightfall behind…

The others press on, and spot what looks like mountains in the distance, which is a hopeful sign of plants that might be edible, perhaps animals that could be feed upon, and water from a stream or river – but what Cutter and the other Wolfriders find is something beyond what any o them could have probably thought.

What they do discover is another civilization of elves – but like none they’ve ever seen before. These elves appear to live in tiny huts, and having a small farming community. On top of that they don’t ride wolves or any kind of animal that’s visible to the Wolfriders.

We return to what I mentioned in the previous issue; that every action has a consequence and reaction. Because of what happened with the humans (and how these elves even seem to live like humans), Cutter decides that this time – they won’t politely ask. They will simply take, because that’s what needs to be done.

When the Wolfriders charge in, it’s Leetah that Cutter is headed for – but… again, things take an unexpected turn for Cutter. When Cutter looks down at Leetah – and their eyes lock – he feels something change inside of him. Immediately, he decides to capture her and throw her on his wolf, while the other Wolfriders grab food and water, and retreat back to the top of the mountain.

Rayek, from these new elves who had been seen attempting to court Leetah before the arrival of the Wolfriders, seems to be the only one from these elves who has the courage to go after the Wolfriders. (And truly, you have to admit – given the situation – how the Wolfriders look and the fact that they’re all riding massive wolves – one indeed has to be very foolish or very courageous to go after the Wolfriders). Treestump, from the Wolfriders gazes down as Rayek shouts at his people for being spineless and sends (the Wolfriders have the ability to communicate telepathically called ‘Sending’) to the others that Rayek looks like he has some spunk.

Rayek indeed turns out to be more than spunky – as he almost immediately proves to be a threat by using his own magic to hypnotize Pike, of the Wolfriders. After some fighting where the Wolfriders use Rayek’s headband to cover his eyes, Cutter is reminded of Redlance and Nightfall. He pleads with these new elves for their help – and Leetah reveals that she, like Rayek, has magical abilities – namely, her ability to heal. Rayek demands that Leetah not go, but we see Leetah shows off just how strong of a female she is as she denies Rayek and says that a life is a life, and that she must help.

Rayek refuses to let her go with Cutter alone, and accompanies her and watches on with some distrust still for these savage, barbaric Wolfriders. Leetah however, taps into her magical abilities to heal and manages to save Redlance. This immediately earns Nightfall’s respect and trust, because her lifemate had been saved.

Returning to the village of these new elves, Cutter and the Wolfriders discover that they’re called Sun Folk; and we meet Leetah’s father, who is one of the elders (who is blind, but sees far more than his eyes could ever see). And they decide to take the Wolfriders to Savah – the Mother of Memory – the eldest of all the Sun Folk – and an elf, far older than any Wolfrider ever lived!

You can read the original quest, ElfQuest #2 – 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!

Interested in purchasing ElfQuest? Use our Affiliate link and help us out!

Shade & Sweet Water,
– Tawmis

PS: It’s Mandy’s birthday tomorrow (Weds) and she’s trying to hit 500 Subscribers. Consider going over there and subscribing to her channel!

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ElfQuest #1 (Original Quest) – #FortyYearsOfPointedEars

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To say ElfQuest is an amazing comic would be sorely under stating how incredible this book is. I admit, I was enthralled by The Hobbit in the 4th grade, so when I saw the cover of ElfQuest – it captured my attention. Not only did it have these more… barbaric looking elves… not your traditional pretty elves, in pretty colors, in pretty clothing – but also these elves… they rode wolves?

This was certainly something that was unheard of. At the time, I was knee deep into my Uncanny X-Men and Avengers books – and ElfQuest was a black and white book – but at the time, actually in magazine format. So it was larger than your standard comic book. Flipping through it, it seemed everything was very … homegrown.

Immediately, the first thing that captured my attention that “super hero” comics did not – was Wendy Pini’s ability to capture sheer emotion in these characters. Covers are one thing – because you can take all the time in the world to make a beautiful cover. But opening the first issue – I saw that remarkable talent for capturing and conveying emotion in every single panel of the first issue. There was no need for words in most panels, because of Wendy’s distinct ability to show something happening; and showing someone’s reaction to those events.

ElfQuest showed so much emotion – and more so, it was… realistic… which is odd, coming from a fantasy setting. I completely understood why the humans feared the “pointed eared demons” – and also, why the elves hated their “round eared enemies.” A hatred was born out of fear, and that hatred carried on for endless generations, which was so beautifully portrayed in the first issue of ElfQuest. There is no question to the reader as to how this world works and why people hate the people that they do. (It’s hauntingly real, in that, to this day, we have hatred in this world, simply because someone is different… so it’s easy to understand how this world works… because you need not look further than our own to understand how it applies).

The other amazing thing about ElfQuest was that every action had a consequence. Rarely, in ElfQuest did someone do or say something, without there being an effect that impacted the entire story. For example, in the first issue, the elf known as Redlance is captured by the humans, to be sacrificed because they’re “demons” and their gods demand the sacrifice. However, Cutter (the chief of the elves known as Wolfriders) is not about to let someone from his tribe be killed, and pulls together some of the elves for a rescue mission. That rescue mission results in one of the humans (the one that was going to kill Redlance) being killed by Cutter.

This, you would think, is not unexpected – this war between elf and human, has been shown to have gone on for centuries. But, this time – because it’s a part of the main story – Cutter’s action has drastic consequences. Demanding revenge, the leader of the humans claims that his god has spoken to him and that the lands must be cleansed – with fire.

This leads to the humans burning the lands down, with no regard for themselves or anything else, as the fire immediately burns out of control. This forces the Wolfriders to seek shelter – and that they must turn to the trolls (who are unlike any kind of trolls you’ve probably seen before) in order to seek shelter from the fire. But before they escape, Wendy Pini manages, to yet again, capture the emotion on One-Eye’s face so tragically… so beautifully.

Speaking of One-Eye, it reminds me how unique all of these characters are in their appearance. It’s very easy to identify this small tribe… which brings me to another point. Usually in Uncanny X-Men or Avengers or any other standard comic book, you’re only reading about five to seven primary characters. While ElfQuest certainly focuses on Cutter, Skywise and eventually Leetah – the rest of the cast are predominately written throughout the story, so much so, that their personalities shine in just about every panel of this issue; but more so as the original quest continues.

As I was saying, the Wolfriders need to seek the help of the trolls, whom live underground, from the fire that threatens to burn them down. Now, you’d think that these trolls whom they turn to – well, first, you immediately get the impression you shouldn’t trust them… while they seem like a bumbling lot, they also look like the type of people (er, trolls) you shouldn’t trust. But the Wolfriders have little choice but to trust these trolls – who promise them that there’s a new home for them just down this special tunnel.

But before they go, the current troll king has his foot, seemingly resting on a normal rock – that is anything but a normal rock. That rock turns out to be a lodestone, fallen from the sky. Skywise gets a piece of it, and uses each of his tribes members hair strands to weave a necklace to keep around his neck.

At any rate, the Wolfriders are led down this tunnel by Picknose, who uses a lever and betrays the elves – leaving them stranded, staring out into a vast sea of endless sand dunes. Things, for our beloved Wolfriders seem to have gone from worse… to… well, even more worse.

I am going to try to cover each of the issues, of at least, the original quest for the 40th Anniversary of ElfQuest’s “Forty Years of Pointed Ears.” But – I recommend that you read the original Quest and the others – legally – on ElfQuest’s own site.

Interested in purchasing ElfQuest? Use our Affiliate link and help us out!

Shade & Sweet Water,
– Tawmis

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Fantastic Four Return To Marvel In August.

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Marvel just announced that The Fantastic Four will be returning to Marvel’s publishing schedule. With the writing duties falling on Dan Slott who has historically done Spider-Man books quite a bit, and artist Sara Pichelli (who, I am not familiar with by name), but by the looks of it, has also done quite a bit of Spider-Man related books. Our latest podcast had a Fantastic Four theme to it, because it focused on Black Panther who made his debut in Fantastic Four. The additionally irony to this is, new books have not really been doing much for me, so I dug up my Fantastic Four collection recently, which is chalk full of holes in the collection and have been reading them and posting about them. This new book has a good writer, and by the looks of it, a solid artist on it – so I am willing to pick this up and see how this goes.

– Tawmis

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The X-Men Franchise – and in the Movies – and the Epic Twitter Battles.

Needless to say, I grew up on the Uncanny X-Men. If you don’t know that, you’ve clearly not listened to our podcast or read any of the posts I’ve made here. An interesting conversation which quickly escalated into a debate formed on Twitter (which I wasn’t a part of, because really, I can’t convey my thoughts in 140 characters, when it comes to the X-Men). So I thought I’d take to the blog to share my thoughts.

As I’ve said, I grew up on the X-Men. While I collected Uncanny X-Men and Avengers – the Uncanny X-Men always held a spot just above the Avengers. There came a time, somewhere around the year 2000 where I began losing interest in the X-Men (and I had already dropped Avengers), because the state of comics was just rapidly going in spiraling toilet… The writing changed all of the characters, the art was subpar… these were not the Chris Clairemonet/John Byrne X-Men… or even the Jim Lee/Marc Silvestri type X-Men… these were X-Men who gave up their costumes, decided to go with all black, leather, more realistic look. I collected for the sake of collecting, until I reached a breaking point. But, the powerful writing of Cullen Bunn brought me back towards Uncanny X-Men again, later.

This is to say, I am clearly very invested in the X-Men. So when the first X-Men movie came out, I liked it for what it was – but was still disappointed that they were in black leather. People countered that “it had to be that way because superhero costumes wouldn’t convey well on the big screen.”

To which, I always countered, “Has anyone told DC comics that? Because… Batman… Superman… Riddler…”

And someone always said, “Yes, but were those good movies?”

Naturally, I didn’t think so. But that had nothing to do with the fact they were wearing costumes, and had more to the fact that, there wasn’t much there in the way of a story.

Skip a few years, and we get X2, which tries to follow God Loves, Man Kills … very, very, very loosely. But still, they’re in the leathers. X-Men 3 comes out, and it’s the worse of the bunch. Then there’s a blur of First Class, Days of Future Past, Wolverine, and probably more that were, over all, less than memorable (Logan is the exception).

It seems there’s a deep cut in the “X-Men Fandom.” There are those who are avid fans of the X-Men films, and mock the “Disney Overlords” idea of the MCU. But then I point to the Disney MCU movies and think, “Well, Cap is in a costume, Thor is in a costume, Iron Man is in a costume, Black Widow is in a costume, Winter Soldier is in a costume, Ant-man is in a costume, Falcon is in a costume…”

So all those people who swore up and down that costumes would not convey on the big screen very well? Certainly, just putting the heroes and villains in costumes isn’t what makes them successful. You need only look over to DC’s Justice League movie and see how, in terms of earnings, it was a flop. (And when did we think that we’d see a day where DC’s most iconic characters – Batman, Superman, Flash, Cyborg, Wonder Woman – all in one movie would be slammed by a single, less popular character like Black Panther)?

So for all the X-Men movie fans who love the movies; kudos. But I am one of those that believes that the X-Men movies can be done right – as in putting them in costumes and giving us a super hero movie similar to what we see over in Marvel/Disney MCU.

It’s like when I saw the 1990 (was it?) Captain America movie. I thought the movie was great, because, really, I had nothing to compare it to. (There was a 1979 Captain America special – I don’t recall much of it… I just remember a motorcycle with his shield on the front). So when I saw the 1990 Captain America – I thought it was pretty good, because there was nothing else to say “Do you like Option A or Option B?” To me, it had Captain America in costume and… well, a very disturbing looking Red Skull (who is one of Captain America’s main foes).

So when I saw the X-Men movies, despite the costume gripe I had, I thought those movies were good. But then Marvel/Disney comes along and says, This is how you do a superhero movie right. Then I saw the potential of what the X-Men movies should look like.

  • Tawmis
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The Signal #1 – Review.

The folks at The Signal Is Real have kindly allowed me to review their first issue of The Signal. I enjoyed it – the art, colors and writing are all spot on. I wish we got some background on the friction (hatred!) between our star, Annie and the military jerk, Ben, even if it was just through a few lines of dialogue to reflect on whatever past they have to create that angry tension. (I mean, really, Ben comes off as a jerk, right from the first panel – and that’s putting it very, very mildly). But there’s certainly a sense of something happened between them previously! But it’s the first issue! So undoubtedly this isn’t the end we will be seeing of interaction between Annie and Ben (or I hope not – he seems to be the perfect pain in the rump for Annie, because he is so real…) And Annie herself, reminds me a bit of Jessica Jones (mostly what you see on Netflix). She’s the tough, take no $#!+ from anyone (man, woman, doesn’t matter), who will throw down, no matter the odds, take some hits and keep on standing – who has also, has an affection for the bottle.

The Signal reminds me if Jessica Jones was in a crossover with The X-Files meets “Impending World Doom” type of show. It’s good. It’s fun. It’s entertaining. But definitely for adults (because it’s not your traditional kid friendly comic – plenty of “adult” words used in this!) So, stop by their website and give it a chance!

– Tawmis

 

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Comic Relief Podcast – Issue #28 – The Perfectly Pitched Black Panther Movie!

Are you looking for these issues? (Or any comics?) – Consider using our Affiliate Link to help keep the site ad free: Shop Here.

You. Yes. You. Don’t look behind you. I am talking to you. Yes. You reading this right now. You didn’t think it was going to happen did you? Don’t look confused or surprised. I can see it in your eyes.

You didn’t think we were ever going to do another podcast, did you?

Don’t worry – we thought the same thing! But we’re back! And better than before! (Okay, I am not sure if we are better than before, but everyone always says that when they’re back… so there was this… unseen peer pressure to be like everyone else for a moment there!) If the silly cover image isn’t giving it away – in this podcast we talk Black Panther – and I won’t give away spoilers on this podcast… but this is one of the few times Maico and Tawmis agreed … they both hated the movie. Well. Correction. They hated that the movie came to an end. That’s probably a more accurate statement. What else did they say? Well! Buckle up listener and give’er a listen down below!

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.

Now on iTunes!

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