Indie Cover Spotlight: Myth Adventures #1

Back in my high school days, I consumed an awful lot of fantasy novels. Then my best friend Jason introduced me to Robert Asprin’s MythAdventures series of humorous fantasy books, and I was hooked. However, I’ve actually never read any of the comics based on the books, but hope to track them down some day.

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Myth Adventures #2 was published by WaRP Graphics in 1984, and featured cartoonist Phil Foglio’s artwork (as well as scripting, adapting the first book in the series, I believe). And check this out: inking Foglio was none other than current superstar, Tim Sale!

Review: Agents of SHIELD TV pilot

Well, I finally watched the pilot episode of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (talk about an unwieldy name) and it was…ok. I didn’t have any high expectations, or any kind of expectations, so it wasn’t a letdown or anything. And besides, it’s difficult to judge a whole series by just the first episode, so I’ll give it a few more chapters to see how it’s going to shake out. But it didn’t impress me that much.

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A few things that struck me about the show:

One was how utterly devoid of superheroes it was, given that it’s a spinoff of multiple billion-dollar blockbuster movies that are all about superheroes in the biggest way. I suppose the TV budget probably limits what they can do, but still, I’m guessing an awful lot of kids (and adults) walked away from the first episode a bit puzzled and disappointed if they were looking for the Marvel Superhero Brand (TM).

The other was just how uninteresting the cast was. And here’s where I feel like I need to make a statement on where I stand on the Joss Whedon appreciation spectrum. I don’t hate him, nor am I a devotee. He’s hit or miss with me. I’ve liked some of his work, I think he is capable of writing great characters and fun dialogue, and can be very entertaining. But I also get annoyed by his style sometimes, especially when taken in large doses. And the writing on this pilot episode was definitely very Whedonesque. Lots of oh-so-clever, self-aware dialogue and smug attempts at humor. I found it distracting and annoying at times.

As for the characters, Agent Coulson is very much the glue of the show, mostly coming off as charming and likeable. Which is good, because the pilot didn’t do much to make me care about any of the other characters. Both the uptight agent Grant Ward and Ming Na Wen’s Agent Melinda May were rather bland, with not much personality to speak of. And then there were Agents Fitz and Simmons (Oooh so clever! See what they did there?), which were pure Joss Whedom stock character type 24A (fast talking, socially awkward, young scientific genius) split into a male and female counterpart. The sexy computer “hacktivit” Skye, meanwhile, was just a generic Mary Sue stock character #146, gussied up with some Whedon sass.

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Also: six lead characters, but not much diversity? Really?

To be fair, this was just the first episode, and there’s always an awful lot of setup that needs to happen in these things, so there’s no room for character development. We’ll see how it goes in the next few episodes. I’m not sold on it yet, but there were a couple of mysteries hinted at, and there’s always the curiosity factor of seeing just how much of the Marvel Universe they’ll bring into the show.

Oh, one final thought…I guess maybe subconsciously I did have one expectation from the show. Given its pedigree, the high profile involvement of Whedon, and the massive Marvel/Disney hype machine behind it, I guess I expected it not to be as clunky a pilot as was on display. I mean, I do enjoy the CW’s Arrow show, though I have no illusions about it being a great show or anything. But at least when you see lazy writing or cardboard characters on that show, you can chalk it up to its much smaller budget and, well, the fact that it’s on the CW.

And those guys don’t shy away from their costumed superheroes.

Indie Cover Spotlight: Concrete #6

So, around the same time I discovered the Justice Machine from Comico, I also picked up one of the early issues of Dark Horse Presents, the seminal anthology series. Through that book, I discovered and fell in love with Paul Chadwick’s Concrete character, and started to pick up that book. here’s one of my favorite covers from the original run, published in 1987:

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I mean, can you imagine going from Spider-man and Green Lantern…to this book? My mind was blown. You see this cover, and you know you’re in for a completely different storytelling experience.

Indie Cover Spotlight: Justice Machine #5

Last week I featured some current books, so this week I’m going to go back in time and shine the spotlight on some of the earliest indie comics I ever picked up, starting with the series that started it all for me, Justice Machine:

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This is a series with a very complicated publishing history, having come out under half a dozen different imprints. But I became familiar with it during its Comico incarnation, which this cover (featuring the artwork of Mike Gustovich) is from. The early issues had wraparound covers, which to me was such a unique thing, having only read Marvel and DC books to that point. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a good scan of the full cover, but the back half features a couple of the team members in the water, fighting a shark. Here’s a real small version:

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This issue was published in 1987. (Here are some other Justice Machine covers featured on ICS.)

Indie Cover Spotlight: Shadowman #4

Wrapping up this week’s look at some of the indie books I’m currently reading, here’s the variant cover to Shadowman #4, from Valiant Entertainment:

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Now, normally I’m no fan of variant covers, which I see as a terrible sales gimmick that’s led to the industry’s downfall in the past, as is just a means towards a short-term money grab. But I’ll make an exception for the talented Mr. Dave Johnson, who drew this. If this cover doesn’t tell you exactly what you’re in for with this book, nothing will.

Indie Cover Spotlight: The Massive #13

Continuing a look at series I’m currently reading, here’s a book I’ve featured before: Brian Woods’ The Massive:

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This pseudo post-apocalyptic, environmentalist, pseudo science fiction/supernatural series from Dark Horse Comics is…well, difficult to classify really. But it’s highly unique, explores some new territory, and has a good mystery that’s been unfolding at a slow pace.

The cover here is by the talented John Paul Leon.

When is a parody not a parody?

When it’s the real thing.

So I just accidentally came across the kind of ultra-conservative, homophobic, xenophobic, right wing diatribe that you typically only see as a parody. I mean, I know actual people write hateful and ignorant stuff like this, but I’ve mostly shied away from the source material, preferring the Daily Show satirical version. So anyway, I was doing a Google News search on YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association) and this dude’s “editorial” and was the second hit (today, at least).

It’s on a “news” site claiming to be non-agenda, non-partisan, even though they also say “We believe in God and our Lord Jesus Christ the Savior of mankind.” I’m not going to link to it, but he was ranting against a multiple award winning YA novel called “Boy Meets Boy.” I’m sure you can guess why. Here’s a choice quote from him:

“It seems there are a lot of adults who think it a desirable thing for your 14-year-old son to be engaged in homosexuality.

And Jerry Sandusky is sitting in jail becauseā€¦?”

No, I’ll wait. I know your brain is hemorrhaging, trying to figure out how to process that statement. Compared to that, this next one is just plain pedestrian:

“Christians, I say, have a duty to pull their children out of the homosexual-proselytizing public schools…”

Then there’s a jab at illegal immigrants for no good reason. The end.

Faith in humanity: -1

PS. this self-identified “former newspaper reporter and editor, small businessman, teacher, and horror novelist” also wrote the phrase “…just another agent of Big Sodomy.”

PPS. Someone should do a documentary expose on the illicit and perverted relationship between Big Sodomy, Big Hollywood, Big Data, and Big Pharma.

PPPS. If I ever started a death metal band, I’d call it Big Sodomy.

Indie Cover Spotlight: Storm Dogs #2

After a long hiatus, ICS is back, and I’m going to spotlight some current indie books I’ve been enjoying, starting with this cover for Storm Dogs #2, from Image Comics:

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Cover art is by co-creator Doug Braithwaite, with colors by Sue Braithwaite. This science fiction series is co-created by writer Davine Hine, and deals with the age-old theme of indigenous cultures clashing with technologically advanced newcomers. A good read, with the first 6-ssue series having just wrapped up and “season two” coming soon.