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By Jonathan Balofsky On 14 Sep, 2016 At 10:28 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Editorials, Featured, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No Gravatarsimpsons

The Simpsons have had a long history with comics and some have been absolutely amazing. I recently had the chance to read Simpsons Comics Colossal Compendium volume 4 and loved it. This collection has some of the best stories the series has ever had.

To highlight a few stories in particular, we have two stories of “Tales from the Springfield Bear Patrol”, a throwback to the season 7 episode “Much Apu About Nothing”. The stories are hilarious and help touch on ideas the show hasn’t used in decades. We see how inept the bear patrol is but they always manage to save the day (sort of).

Other stories include “Judge Dreadneck” a parody of Judge Dredd with Cletus in the role. This is the second best story in this collection, with loving references to not just the comic but also 80’s movies like Mad Max. This story is one of the reasons I love the comics. They have a creativity to them that the show now lacks.

The best story in this collection though, is “The Duffman Corps” a parody of Green Lantern with Duffman in the role. It is far better than it has any right to be, with the Duffman Oath, the villain Vinostro and the Guardians of The Party. This is one of the best comic parodies I have ever seen and I was laughing so loud while reading this, that I was out of breath more than once.

These are just 3 (technically 4) of the stories within and they are all amazing. This is a comic you should take the time to seek out. The TV Show may be out of steam but The Simpsons Comics are still going strong.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 13 Sep, 2016 At 05:21 AM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Editorials, Featured, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No Gravatarlove-and-capes

I previously wrote about Love and Capes here, and now it is time for me to continue the discussion by talking about Love and Capes volume 2: Going to The Chapel.

We start off with Mark ( the crusader) planning to propose to his girlfriend Abby on Christmas ever. He is stopped, not by a villain but by her sister Charlotte who reveals that Abby would hate that type of proposal. What follows is one of the most amusing sequences in comics, as Mark comes up with idea after idea to try and propose.

Once that is done with, the volume really kicks into high gear. Abby and Mark grow closer than ever together while planning their wedding, Charlotte goes off to school in Paris ( thanks to Darkblade) and a new hire is made at Abby’s bookstore. The good times don’t last however as Mark and the rest of the super heroes are dragged off into a cosmic gladiator battle that leaves Abby alone….in more ways than one.  Thom Zahler does a really great job of breaking down the non super heroics parts of Super Hero tropes and ideas. Namely, if a super hero and their romantic partner fly off to another country, what happens when the partner becomes stranded in said country when the hero is pulled away. I thought it was excellent to show how the situation gets solved without Mark’s help. From their we deal with an evil clone that nearly destroys the romance between Mark and Abby and makes things awkward with his ex-girlfriend Amazonia. But you cannot keep a good hero down and Mark and his friends help put things right.

The next part of the comic is the best part for me. We get to see the fallout of such an event and what other characters do for support. Abby decides that the only way she will ever understand Mark is to get super powers of her own. This is accomplished thanks to Doc Karma ( who can read anyone’s mind but Abby’s), who can help her because Abby is doing this for love. It does have a warning though, as she will keep the powers until she decides she no longer wants them.  We then see Mark and Abby begin to understand each other better while working together ( and getting in some excellent jokes at the same time), while Amazonia begins to confide in Darkblade due to needing support. Abby excels for a time but Doc Karma’s warning proves true and she decide that powers are not for her. The circumstances surrounding Abby losing her powers show Zahler’s ability to write emotional scenes that really get to you, and you will feel deeply for Abby and what she is going through.

After that it is time for the wedding, but Zahler isn’t done yet. What follows is a time travel storyline, that while confusing ( and later issues joke about how confusing it is), show the depth of Abby and Mark’s relationship, as she will do anything she can to save him from an enemy. It is even pointed out in this issue that Abby has gone from being a bystander to being a badass in her own right. She is able to save Mark and foil the villain’s plan and Doc Karma then helps her return and get to the chapel for her wedding. Sorry for the lack of details but I am trying to cut down on spoilers.

Love and Capes volume 2 is a comic with excellent humor, drama and emotion. It takes the super hero concept and without trying, deconstructs then reconstructs the entire genre. It looks at what would realistically happen, then reminds us why we love these comics in the first place.

If you have not yet checked out Love and Capes, then I recommend you do so!

 

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 9 Mar, 2016 At 10:27 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Featured, Reviews, Reviews, ROG Humor, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarArchie_vs_Predator_3

 

Archie comics have a reputation ( mostly deserved) of being a kiddie comic that plays things way too safe and comes off as cheesy. In recent years however, the company has taken steps to shed that image. From Afterlife with Archie (Archie with zombies and not for kids at all) to new horror comics with Sabrina ( again definitely not for kids), the company has done a lot to push Archie out of the niche it was stuck in. That said, would anyone have predicted a crossover with the Predator franchise? Or even more, a crossover that is aimed at older readers that unlike the crossover with the Punisher in the 90’s, doesn’t hesitate to show violence?

This comic is insane. I was amazed at what they put into the comic, from references to the movie protagonists, to lines being quoted. Seeing Reggie call himself a “Gosh Darned Sexual Tyrannosaurus” left me speechless. The violence was not hidden at all. Seeing Archie characters get their heads ripped off and blood splattered is a far cry from the cheesy comics of previous years.

The art is of high quality and almost eerie in how the Predator is drawn to resemble the Archie style. The story? Archie and the gang go to Costa Rica after winning a contest and during the heat wave a teenage predator comes to Earth to hunt. The predator is drawn to Betty and Veronica’s fighting and follows the gang back to Riverdale where things really hit the fan.

The writing is witty and clever and after you get passed how disturbing this can be, its actually a fun read. Although its called Archie vs Predator, the story focuses more on Betty and Veronica and their fight against the predator. Everyone else gets caught in the middle.

Be aware this is NOT a lighthearted story. Like Afterlife with Archie, this one is not for kids, or the faint of heart. If you are easily disturbed by dark imagery, then this comic is not for you. This is a comic where anyone can die and who makes it out at the end is rather surprising.

The hardcover collection includes mini comic crossovers between other Dark Horse comics and Archie characters, my favourite being Hellboy meets Sabrina.

archie-vs-predator-1-thermal-vision

In the end, I have to recommend this, but be warned once again, this is a very dark comic.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 21 Jan, 2016 At 03:38 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Featured, Reviews, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarSuperheroes are awesome. We can all agree on that, but sometimes we need to look beyond the super heroics. What if I told you there was a comic book that was essentially a super hero sitcom? And that there are 4 volumes out that you can read now?

Love and Capes was created by Thom Zahler, an extremely talented cartoonist, who applied TV sitcom writing to comic book superheroes. The result was an amazing comic book that will provide hours upon hours of entertainment.

Volume 1.

 

We begin the comic by seeing bookstore owner Abby Tennyson on a date with her boyfriend, accountant Mark Spencer. They’ve been dating for a few months and Abby thinks Mark is a great guy. But Mark has a secret. He is the most powerful super hero on the planet, The Crusader. Mark decides to reveal his secret to Abby after talking with his friend Darkblade (a Batman analogue with some of the wittiest lines) but really should have thought of a better way and he learns you should really catch people when they faint.

 

l and c 5

 

 

After getting over the initial shock, Abby starts enjoying the perks of being a superhero’s girlfriend

l-and-c-3

….and the downsides, like Super Ex-Girlfriends in the form of Amazonia, one of the top heroes, as well as the fact that Mark will constantly be in danger and on call, thus interrupting dates as well as leaving her worried.

capes17

 

Fortunately Abby has her sister to rely on for support…and vice versa as we see later. Love and Capes is an amazing exercise in showing a supporting cast. Yes there are awesome characters like Doc Karma (and his love of TV shows that haven’t been released on DVD stateside) who perfectly captures the kookiness and awesomeness of the Ditko era Doctor Strange and Arachnerd (3 guesses who he is based on and the first 2 don’t count).

l and c 4

 

However, we also have excellent supporting characters like the aforementioned Charlotte, Mark’s parents and the rest of Abby’s family.  The superheroics are off panel and the focus is on the human side. We see Mark get jealous of other heroes and the reason why become a plot point. We see Abby grow more and not just as a superhero’s girlfriend but also as her own character with her own interests, as does Charlotte and Darkblade whom we learn more about. The last part of volume 1 deals with Mark and Amazonia’s former relationship and its at the end w see why Mark and Abby go so well together. That they are a good couple. If that sounds sappy I’m sorry because the comic is also incredibly funny and witty.  The drawings are excellent and evoke both classic and new TV cartoons.

 

If you like comics you owe it to yourself to get this.

 

 

 

By otakuman5000 On 22 Sep, 2014 At 09:31 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Featured, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarI already covered how I like comics in my first comic quickie here. So on to the recommendation. This week? Jason Aaron & Jason Latour’s Southern Bastards vol 1: Here Was a Man, which compiles issues 1-4.

Southern Bastards vol 1 cover for cq2

                     Property of Image Comics

 

This arc features a morally ambiguous Earl Tubb, who is now one of my all-time favorite characters in any media. To leave the description short and spoiler free Earl returns to the county he born in after some time away only to find it is quite different than what he remembered. He makes some friends and enemies very quickly while looking for answers. The four issues are paced great enough that even as I read the single issues I never felt that any one issue ended too quickly or dragged on.

This first arc is written extremely well, which isn’t surprising of superstar author Jason Aaron. The accompanying art from Latour fits extremely well. The visual portrayal accompanied by the story give an amazing atmosphere to Castor County. So much so that I can almost taste Boss’s BBQ.

This volume will release in stores on October 1, but Amazon has its date set for October 14 if you don’t have a LCS you go to. The Jasons’ work should be essential for any fan of mystery or crime novels. Everything about the series should have you hooked before you’re halfway through.

By otakuman5000 On 25 Jul, 2014 At 10:39 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Company Spotlight, Featured, News, Reviews, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarComic books are one of the many joys in my life. Comics should be a joy in others’ as well. I am going to begin shooting off some recommendations every week or so. Not exactly a review, just a short description so you know why you should be reading.

My pick for this week? Deadly Class Volume 1: Reagan Youth. NOTE: some of the first issue will be spoiled, to cover the basic plot. Nothing past that should be.

DeadlyClassVol1-cover

  Property of Image Comics

It’s a witty, colorful book about a band of misfit friends attending a secret school for future generations of assassins called King Dominion’s School for the Deadly Arts. Rick Remender writes the book and does so extremely. He lets in humor, romance, and action into a lovely combination. The excellent writing is coupled with amazing art by Wesley Craig, and colors done by Lee Loughridge.

One of the most interesting aspects of the story is such a finely blended cast. The main character, Marcus, is a Nicaraguan orphan and the rest of his adventurous posse is composed of characters from across the globe. Every main character in the first major arc experience great development to get you really more interested in each character than perhaps any

The art compliments everything that is done in the story. From a car chase (rare in comics due to the difficulty of showing the true “action” due to static images), to fight scenes, to drug trips. The coloring and lettering stays on point throughout the first six issues.

Events occurring within the first six issues, all compiled in this one volume, leave the series with a lot of breathing room for story development. Remender’s writing is sure to continue to be as solid as it has been between this series and fellow Image series Black Science. This is definitely a solid choice for any fan of action or suspense to get into. Overall the comic brings everything one could hope for to the table.

The first volume is available on Amazon for a cool $9.99 here. You can always stop into your local comic shop as well and snag the trade. Maybe some other great titles as well. The series will pick back up in September so now is as good as a time as possible to pick up the trade and follow this great series. This is not a series you want to miss out on.

By Jessica Brister On 2 May, 2014 At 07:10 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarStar Wars has been in the news recently for the announcement of the new cast for Episode VII.  Many fans are excited that their beloved characters are coming back to the silver screen, albeit a bit older.  It may be the natural tendency for some die-hard fans to reach for one of the many novels while waiting for the new movie to come out.  However, there are other options for Star Wars literature.  Star Wars comics are nothing new, but they are one of the Star Wars universe’s best kept secrets.  Typically grittier in tone, the comics expand upon the Star Wars universe, and their plots are interwoven between the novels.  One of the darker series is the Star Wars: Dark Empire Trilogy.  Set six years after Return of the Jedi, Dark Empire explores Luke Skywalker’s decent into the dark side.

The Dark Empire series was originally a bi-monthly series that started in late 1991.  Published by Dark Horse Comics, the trilogy consists of Dark Empire I (six issues), Dark Empire II (six issues), and Empire’s End (2 issues).  The series is written by Tom Veitch.  However, there was an artist change between Cam Kennedy, who did Dark Empire I and II, to Jim Balkie, who drew for Empire’s End.  The trilogy was published in a hardcover edition in 2010, which unfortunately appears to not be in print at the moment, which has caused the price of this edition to skyrocket.  However, buyers can still purchase the individual paperback books fairly cheaply.  Another alternative is purchasing in e-book format.  For the purposes of this review, the hardcover addition will be highlighted.

Dark Empire begins after Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy.  The New Republic is desperately trying to battle the last remnants of the Empire.  However, they have even more to deal with than they had bargained for: a new type of weapon, called “World Devastators” are wrecking havoc all over the galaxy.  Not only that, but Emperor Palpatine is back in a cloned body.  Wanting to smash the rebels once and for all, he develops his power even more by studying the Sith.  The Emperor, however, has plans in mind for Luke, who this new Emperor “Reborn” hopes to turn to the dark side.

The story is especially fun, since Luke turns into a much darker character.

The story is especially fun, since Luke turns into a much darker character.

The story is faster-paced when compared to some of the novels and highlights the “core” Star Wars characters: Luke’s struggle with the dark side, Han and Leia’s relationship, and the Emperor, a bad guy that readers just love to hate.  The tone is dark, serious, and desperate.  For Star Wars fans who want to see the darker side of the series, it is a must-read.  If reading as a stand-alone from the rest of the novels, the story could become a bit confusing at times, as it assumes that the reader had prior knowledge of many of the plot lines that have happened in previous books and movies.  These comics are not recommended for casual Star Wars fans.  If reading the hardcover edition, it does include the Dark Empire Handbook that walks through all of the characters, places, and terms.  It still might be a little daunting, though.  However, many die-hard fans will enjoy the direction that Veitch takes with the storyline and tone.

Both Kennedy and Balkie are amazing artists.  Although their styles are different, the overall tone was kept the same, making the transition from Dark Empire I and II to Empire’s End pretty easy.  Kennedy’s  drawings are a little sharper, focusing on sharper lines.  Balkie’s art is a little softer both in the way that he draws the characters and scenes.  Both are enjoyable to go through, although probably the best piece in the hardcover edition is the cover art by Dave Dorman, which features Luke Skywalker in his “dark side” outfit.

Here Luke and the cloned Emperor fight.  Kennedy is a bit more sharp in his images.

Here Luke and the cloned Emperor fight. Kennedy is a bit more sharp in his images.

Overall, this series is a must-have for hard-core Star Wars fans, especially ones who have all of the rest of the novels lining their bookshelves but haven’t dabbled into the comics.  The writing, storyline, and art are top-notch.  Star Wars: Episode VII writers and producers might want to take note of this one.  This is the way to do a good Star Wars plot.  Dark Empire is a series that takes the fantasy of Star Wars and adds a more artistic element to it, not only in the artwork but also the story.  Here’s hoping that Episode VII is half as good.

By Amy McGarey On 30 Apr, 2014 At 07:09 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Featured, News, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarThe real Peter Parker is back in a seven story giant-sized comic!

spiderman

This issue sets up the rest of the series – how Peter Parker is cleaning up the mess Doc Ock made as the Superior Spider-Man, the villains he will face this series, and his alliances. If you didn’t already know, in the past 31 issues of Superior Spider-Man, Doc Ock had been possessing Peter Parker’s body, while the real Peter Parker remained hidden inside Doc Ock’s subconscious. Doc Ock decided to take on the challenge of keeping Spider-Man a hero, saying he would be superior to Peter Parker before him. In the past year, Doc Ock had made some improvements to Parker’s life – curing Aunt May’s bum leg, getting a PhD, and opening his own “Parker Industries” for research. However, Doc Ock had messed up a lot of things, too – quitting the Avengers, putting up surveillance all over New York, blackmailing people, and being generally disliked among the neighborhood. One thing that caused a change in Doc Ock was falling in love with Ana Maria Marconi. Ana Maria ends up getting captured by the Green Goblin, and Doc Ock knows the only way to get her back is to let a real hero, Peter Parker, take over his body to save her.

blackcat

In issue #1, we see how Peter Parker plans on repairing the damage of the past year. He makes a public vow to separate himself from Spider-Man, saying he will no longer provide tech for him. “Recapturing That Old Spark,” shows us that Electro will be a main villain in the series, which is no surprise since he’s the main villain in the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie. Another major player is Black Cat in “Crossed Paths,” which shows her getting put in prison by Spider-Man. You can tell she’s going to be around for a long time when she says, “You took everything from me. Now you’re going to pay for it with your life. But only after I’m done playing with it.”

amazing

We also get to see previews of upcoming series. In the beautifully illustrated “Homecoming. Sort of,” we get a sneak peak of the new Spider-Man 2099 comic coming out in July. “Kaine” is a tie-in for New Warriors. Two stories also pay homage to vintage Spider-Man – “How My Stuff Works,” will take you back to the days when Spider-Man used to explain his gadgets at the end of each Amazing Spider-Man volume one issue. “Learning to Crawl: Amazing Reality,” gives you the point of view of a boy in the audience of Spider-Man’s old wrestling shows. This story suggests we will see alternate points of view of major Spider-Man events in the future.

Amazing Spider-Man #1 has raised some questions for me, though. How is Peter Parker going to handle Ana Maria – especially now that she knows his secret? Also, is Spider-Man going to make his way back into the Avengers? This issue has opened up many new stories in the Spider-Man universe and has grown it exponentially. I can’t wait to see what more Marvel has in store for us with the Amazing Spider-Man!

By Amy McGarey On 24 Apr, 2014 At 11:37 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

No Gravatarlumberjanes

Publisher: Boom! Studios
Written by: Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Illustrated by: Brooke Allen

Have you ever wanted to go to summer camp for hardcore lady-types? Lumberjanes tells the tale of five cabin mates at an all girl adventure camp. Their motto? Friendship to the max! Our story starts with the girls sneaking out of their cabin late at night to investigate a “weird old lady” outside of their cabin. They end up in the forest and fight off a pack of three-eyed foxes. After defeating the foxes, their howls spell out a message: “Beware the kitten holy.” Believing to have just beat some cat-hating foxes, they sneak back to their cabin hoping not to wake up their camp counselor, Jen. Of course, Jen catches them on their way in and takes them directly to the camp director for punishment. After all, they broke eight camp policies. When the Lumberjanes tell their story to Rosie, the camp director, she seems more interested in the adventure, rather than kicking the girls out for sneaking off. She gives them a badge for being “up all night.” The girls are shocked that she isn’t going to call their parents.

I loved the first issue of Lumberjanes. It was full of action, adventure and it reminded me of the same kind of humor as Adventure Time. I can’t wait for the next issue to find out what kind of magical items the girls discovered. Also, I can’t wait to see more of their battle formations, like “Little Red” formation. The next issue will be out May 14th.

By Amy McGarey On 16 Apr, 2014 At 06:18 AM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Featured, Reviews | With 1 Comment

No Gravatarbatman_eternal

As part of the 75th anniversary celebration of Batman, a new comic book series called Batman Eternal debuted last Wednesday. This series will last 60 issues and be written by a revolving team of all-star Batman writers including John Layman, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins and Tim Seeley. Batman Eternal will work alongside the regular Batman series, which is also written by Scott Snyder. Batman #28 serves as an introduction to this new series.

In Batman Eternal #1, we see Commissioner Gordon battling head to head with Professor Pyg. Gordon makes a mistake while trying to apprehend one of his henchmen and causes a disaster of epic proportions. Batman can’t even save Gordon from the wrath of the corrupt Major Forbes. We’re also introduced to a new transfer cop from Detroit, Jason Bard, who seems to represent a younger Jim Gordon – someone who believes that Gotham City is worth fighting for.

With Gordon off the grid, I’m excited to see how Batman’s relationship with the Gotham City Police will survive. Will Jason Bard be Batman’s new go-to man? Are Batman’s allies going to be picked off one by one? Batman Eternal is well worth picking up. The first issue already has some movie-worthy scenes which further the battle between light and dark in Gotham. This first issue was written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV with art by Jason Fabok.