#MightyMorphinMonday: Power Rangers (2017)

(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Heroic Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

“A group of high-school students, who are infused with unique superpowers, harness their abilities in order to save the world.” (Lionsgate/Saban)

As I mentioned in my Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic book review, I loved this television series as a kid. This movie stars the same characters in the original show, with different actors in the Zord’s, turning what was essentially a campy live action Saturday morning cartoon, into a live action science fiction, action adventure superhero film. While there is a shift in tone, to something that takes it source material a little more seriously, the core essential elements of the brand are upheld and respected. The Rangers are still teenagers under the guidance of Zordon, with the help of his assistant, talking robot Alpha 5. The Power Rangers derive their power from power coins which connect them to the morphing grid. They still are the pilots of Zord’s aka mechanical dinosaurs that can join together to form a giant robot known as a Megazord. Their main goal is to protect the zeo crystal and the world from Rita Repulsa, the sworn enemy of Zordon, who is aided by her putty patrol and Goldar, her chief lieutenant. With the core retained and carried over, the filmmakers still managed to deviate and change elements within the core ideas and those decisions, I feel, make major improvements. One aspect I absolutely loved is the back story and history of the Power Rangers. The Power Rangers go back all the way to pre historic earth. These alien warriors were charged with protecting the relatively young Earth and the life forms on it. The dominant life form at this time being the dinosaurs, which explains why the Zord’s take the form of those animals. In this iteration, Zordon is the leader of that team of Rangers, the red ranger. One of his teammates was Rita Repulsa, the Green Ranger. However, a power hungry Rita Repulsa betrays them in an effort to steal their power coins, the source of their power. However, Zordon hides the power coins, instructing Alpha 5 to cause a meteor strike from their ship. This results in Zordon’s death and sends Rita to the bottom of the ocean. The fallout of all this is the extinction of the dinosaurs. What I love bout all this is that, in the show Rita created the Green Ranger, so it’s serendipitous that in this take, she is the Green Ranger. It also gives Zordon and Rita a deeper connection and fuel for their hatred. Tying the original team of Power Rangers, to the time of the dinosaurs, not only explains why the Zord’s are dinosaurs, the film also makes Zordon and by extension Alpha 5, somewhat responsible for the dinosaurs extinction. That was surprising. I like that the filmmakers actually created an alien language for Zordon and Rita to speak. It makes the events of the scenario and the story conceit more believable. Most films don’t go that extra mile and just have the aliens speak English as if it’s some intergalactic and universal language.

The TV Series boasted that the Power Rangers were “teenagers with attitude.” Yet given the nature of the show, we got the most cookie cutter Leave it to Beaver kids you could possibly have. This film actually gives us teenagers with attitude, or at least ones dealing with issues. Jason was a football star in the making, who ruined his career after a prank gone wrong led to a car accident, ending his playing days. Kimberly Hart was a bit of a cyber bully of sorts, who sent nude photos of a fellow student throughout her previous school. Now in a new environment, she is the one who is ostracised by classmates. Billy Cranston is a science nerd whose experiment caused a minor explosion on school property. The added intrigue for this character is that he has Autism. These 3 Rangers meet in Saturday after school detention. It has a very Breakfast Club feel to it, which I think is great and highly appropriate, given they are teenagers. Trini, the yellow Ranger is dealing with her sexual orientation and struggling with coming out to her family, while Zack, the Black Ranger, frequently skips school, to take care of his ailing mother. These two outsiders often skip school and hang out in the Angel Grove gold mines or mountainous regions. While they all go to the same school, they aren’t necessarily friends and don’t know each other very well. That’s great for this film because the best part is the interactions between the Power Rangers. You see their friendships grow and you watch them become a team. They need to be in tune with each other to morph and to pilot the Megazord, so when all that finally happens in the third act of the film it’s earned. For the most, I’ve got nothing but praise for the young cast. Dacre Montgomery and Ludi Lin were solid. I thought both actors were believable in conveying their character various issues but I didn’t buy them 100% as outcasts or “teens with altitude.” The two best of our young cast are Naomi Scott and RJ Cyler. I had a huge crush on the original pink ranger as a kid, so any actress who can get me to totally invest in her take on a character is doing a good job. I really believed she was remorseful for her past deeds and was trying to escape the shackles of her past. RJ Cyler highlights how intelligent and uniquely awesome people with Autism are. I find people with disabilities are highly under-represented on film and when we are, we’re all painted with the same brush. Here though, this character is given his due. Not only is he incredibly smart, but he is the audiences conduit to what it would feel like to be a Power Ranger and how cool it would be. He’s the first one to morph and is actually the glue that ultimately binds the team together, allowing them to become the heroes they’re supposed to be. As a kid I didn’t care for the Blue Ranger, but in this film he was my favorite. Part of that is how the character is written, but a lot of that comes down to the actor’s performance. The weakest of our heroes in terms of performance and character is Becky G, as the Yellow Ranger. First off, her struggle with revealing her sexual orientation to her parents is only glossed over, while every other character got more screen time. Also, the actor is a pop singer by trade, and only a select few have been able to make the transition with any success. Unfortunately for Becky G, I don’t think she will join that club!

Elizabeth Banks relished her role as villain Rita Repulsa. Yes, her plan was straight forward, almost “mustache twirly” at times but I felt it was written that way on purpose as homage to the source material. Yes, Ms. Banks chews scenery and goes over the top, but she’s far less ridiculous than the Enchantress (the only thing I really didn’t like about Suicide Squad). Elizabeth Banks was genuinely frightening as Rita and in those moments she was money! (See what I did there… Money in the Bank). Bryan Cranston as Zordon was stunt legacy casting, as he voiced monster roles in the original show, but it is genius casting. His Zordon is confused at the complicated inner workings of the teenage mind. He’s stern, when the teenagers aren’t grasping what they need to learn, yet he is calming and compassionate when the need arises. Having Zordon be a former Power Ranger who experienced failure, makes his bond with the team feel stronger. He’s no longer just the man behind the curtain. He’s not an all-knowing Wizard of Oz fraud. Let’s look at the visuals and action in this film. Gone are the spandex costumes and in its place is an armor with an alien look and feel to it. The updated design still honors the original concept but ultimately makes so much more sense, since the original team were in fact aliens in the film. The Power Rangers command center being Zordon’s old ship also makes sense. I also think it being buried deep underneath the Angel Grove gold mines, where the meteors strike at the beginning of the film took place is a more practical story point. While I though the exterior of the TV show’s command center looked cool, largely because it looked like an Egyptian pyramid, its location never made sense. Rita Repulsa’s wardrobe is a definite improvement over the television predecessor. Since she was once the Green Ranger, I like that her outfit is essentially a defunct, dark and twisted take on the Green Ranger armor. Her armor has morphed to fit the characters personality. Goldar’s redesign seemed a little too much for my liking. He was literally a giant liquid gold monster. He reminded me of the golden fountain in the Ferrero Rocher chocolate commercials. Just imagine that fountain could walk and you’ll get what I’m talking about. Given the success of the Planet of the Apes franchise, there’s no reason they couldn’t have gone with a talking gorilla in gold armor like the original show. The Megazord forming and fighting looked great. There’s even a nod to the original show in that it forms in the cover of fire, from the bottom of the damage from the Angel Grove goldmine. The fighting between the Megazord and Goldar was very clear and concise. I appreciated that I could actually clearly see fighting moves being performed. This isn’t always the case in some movies, like Transformers or Pacific Rim. There’s even a joke about the Transformers film in the third act fight that got a laugh out of me. While the fighting between the Megazord and Goldar was well done, the hand to hand combat between the Power Rangers and Rita’s Putty Patrol as she attempt to steal the Zeo Crystal leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not that the fighting was bad, it’s just there wasn’t enough of it to really judge. That’s a shame, especially since the cast said they worked hard at martial arts training for the film.

As a fan of the original show, I was worried that this franchise had passed its exploration date in terms of appeal with modern day film fans, who weren’t already fans of the property. I was worried the filmmakers would change the DNA of the property so much, that it wouldn’t feel like a Power Rangers. However, the film stays true to the most important part of the concept and for my money, the changes made the Power Rangers better. As is sometimes the case with origin stories, the action beats and fighting sequences are less than I expected, though the Megazord battle does satiate that need to a degree. However, the focus was clearly on the characters and the team dynamics of the Power Rangers and in that department the film succeeds. Whether you’re a long-time fan of the franchise, or totally oblivious to it, give the film a look for yourself. I think you’ll have a morphenomenal good time at the movies or watching it from the comfort of your own home when released digitally and on Blu-Ray.

#ThemysciraThursday Comic Book Review: The Legend of Wonder Woman #1-9

(Rejoice, Kinky Ho-s, as our long awaited Wondy movie is now just around the corner…Prasie Hera! 😉 Here to help us get properly prepped for the Wondrousness is our resident SuperheoSciFi Guru, Mr. Prince Adam…Thank you, Super Friend! 🙂 xoxo)

“On the hidden island of Themyscira, the Amazons, led by Queen Hippolyta, live in a kingdom of peace, protected by the gods. But the balance is upset when Hippolyta is granted what no immortal may have: a child, given life from the clay of the island. She is the princess Diana, who alone can sense the evil that is infesting the Amazon’s home.” (DC Entertainment)

The first nine issues of this digital first comic book retrace Wonder Woman’s origins and time on Themyscira. Many elements from the other Wonder Woman origin story I reviewed for you (Wonder Woman: The True Amazon) overlap in this story, but the perspective is different and makes this story unique. What I notice here is that while man’s world was full of hate and war, Hippolyta, along with her sisters forged her nation of woman who spoke of love and compassion, but were equally as mighty with their sword and axes. However, unlike the men, the Amazon’s were never inherently cruel. Impressed with this balance, Zeus granted Hippolyta and her sister’s immortality so that they would be able to oversee the growth and prosperity of the Amazon’s. As years pass, Hippolyta is filled with sorrow because immortals cannot give birth. Her festering anguish led her astray. During the invasion of Hercules, she had a sexual tryst with Theseus, allowing Hercules’ army to gain the upper hand leading to the defeat and death of one of Hippolyta’s sister, Penthesilea. After seeing the results of her indiscretion, she chose to abandon her longing for children and while her Amazon sisterhood were upset that she betrayed them, they chose her to lead them back to peace and prosperity as their Queen. Meanwhile, in the heavens, the gods were at war with a Titan. While they defeated the Titan, the battle ravaged the Earth, so the gods created an island sequestered away from humanity to prevent further disaster. Zeus invites the Amazon’s to live on a piece of said island known as Themyscira, in exchange for making it a place of peace and provide worship to the gods. To seal the deal, Zeus promises to give souls of daughters to mortal Amazons, once every 10 years. Still left childless, it is the mystical sands and wishing of Hippolyta that bring Diana into this world. I find in this book compared to most others, the Amazon’s are far more harmonious with the ancient gods. Most books don’t showcase the Amazons as being so submissive and worshiping the Gods in such detail. So much so, that Hippolyta’s sisters align themselves with worshiping and being somewhat of an emissary of those gods. However, while men are shown for their propensity for hatred and warfare, this books puts the blame for the suffering and devastation in Man’s world on the gods. This book also clearly identifies the Amazon’s as human beings who are granted immortality and extra ability. I think that past iterations of Wonder Woman stories have made them quasi god-like in their own right, however when doing that, it makes the presence of the gods somewhat moot. I didn’t like Diana’s clay origin this time around. The clay being able to bring Diana to life because Hippolyta essentially thinks/wills her into being, basically makes her a Green Lantern minus the ring, or his duties. Diana being given life by the gods, makes her extra special in my book.

Speaking of Diana, she is much more the traditional one we are used to, as opposed to the bitchy spoiled brat from Wonder Woman: A True Amazon. Here, Diana has a strong unwavering desire to join the military of Paradise Island and commence her training. However, her mother would rather groom her to be future Queen so she can win favor from the gods, ultimately being granted immortality by the gods. While mother and daughter are at odds over this, they share the same reasoning; to protect the other. Hippolyta worries that Diana’s mortality will be tested if she joins the warrior ranks, while Diana wants to use her training and warrior status to protect her mother and home world from a dark mystical threat, only she seems to sense. In this segment of the story, ultimately Diana pretends to abide her mother’s wishes, while secretly training with Alicippe. While Diana feels disheartened for disobeying her mother, it turns out she knew all along and despite her misgivings, allowed Alicippe to continue her training because it makes Diana happen. During her training, Diana learns that her mother was the fiercest warrior the Amazon’s have ever known. Thus, Diana realizes her mother’s concern for her because she’s fought in battle and knows the costs. Still, this only brings Diana closer to her mother, strengthening her resolve to fight alongside her fellow warriors. Honestly, of all the Wonder Woman stories I’ve read, this one makes me feel the most genuine and invested in the mother/daughter bond of Hippolyta and Diana. The arrival of Steve Trevor on Themyscira is more purposeful and serves an added purpose in this story. It seems as though whatever great dark threat Diana sensed was to plague Themyscira, actually pulled Steve Trevor’s plane towards the island. Think of it kind of like the Bermuda Triangle myth. I think I like this idea better, then it just being a happy accident. When Hippolyta’s sisters learn of the plane crash, they plan to use a “wild man” scampering unchecked around the island, to discredit Hippolyta’s leadership, and take her place as Queen. One of the sisters even contemplates murder. However, their plan is thwarted by Diana and Alicippe, with Alicippe ultimately losing her life in the process. I love that there is jealousy and resent among Hippolyta’s sisters. Look, I can suspend disbelieve that most women can live on an island and live in harmony together. But I’ve known too many woman who hold grudges and “hate” each other, for the most ridiculous of reasons. So it makes sense that if one sister was favored by Zeus over others, there would be some anger and jealousy at play. The gladiator games that bring Wonder Woman to man’s world are not a mere commemorative ceremony in this book. Here, the winner gets to decide the fate of the intruder Steve Trever. Diana of course wins the event and decides to escort Steve home. I like that the Amazon gladiatorial tournament had more stakes involved then just being something ritualistic. While we never see Wonder Woman in costume yet, she is given her heroic wardrobe by her mother and it’s confirmed that in this iteration, the gods have embed the elements of her heroic costume with blessings, that when worn, give Diana her extraordinary abilities. In previous iterations, her divine birth has been the cause of her abilities. Truly, I’m fine with both interpretations. The relationship/infatuation is just started/teased here between Diana and Steve. It seems as though they are going to expand that over the course of several issues. I prefer this, rather than having it force fed to us in one shot.

The art drawn by Ray Dillon. The art is much more modern looking than the last Wonder Woman graphic novel I reviewed here. It also has a little bit of an animated feel to it, without ever veering into overly cartoonish. Diana, as she ages from childhood to adulthood, looks like our very own Miss Kinky Horror. That’s perfectly fine by me by the way. My favourite page is the splash page of the gods battling Titan at the top portion of the page, while the Earth is being ravaged by volcanic eruption and flooding as a result of their war. It’s powerful and mythic imagery that highlights the powers of the Gods. I noted that the gladiatorial games as drawn in Wonder Woman: A True Amazon looked like Ben Hur. The gladiatorial tournament in The Legend of Wonder Woman visually reminds me of 300! A huge part of the beauty of this art is the colors. The shot of Pegasus prancing elegantly with sunlight shining in behind is literally the most beautiful shot I’ve seen in a comic book over the last year. Also, the cloud of darkness engulfing Themyscira is perfectly creepy and menacing. If you had any doubt that Themyscira is the most beautiful location in the DC Universe, this book will confirm it.

This is a fantastic read. You may feel as though you know Wonder Woman’s origin, but the twists to familiar scenarios, a deeper connection between mother and daughter, and spectacular looking art makes this a must read for Wonder Woman fans everywhere. Now I don’t know specific details of the Wonder Woman film, but there are scenes from the trailers that seem to be pulled right out of this book. For that reason, I recommend reading this book, as a pre-movie ritual leading up to your viewing of the film. For myself, the week leading up to the release, I plan on doing a Wonder Woman marathon consisting of, the television series, episodes of the Justice League animated series and a stack of comic books. PS: The wait is almost over my friends!

#TerrorTuesday Comic Review: The Walking Dead Volume 3

(Submitted by our Superheroic Ho-mie, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Mr. A! 🙂 xoxo)

“This volume follows our band of survivors as they set up a permanent camp inside a prison. Relationships change, characters die, and our team of survivors learn there’s something far more deadly than zombies out there…each other.”


This story picks right up where Volume 2 ended. Our weary group of humans have found an abandoned penitentiary. Well, save for a group of zombies sloshing around the front gate. After dispensing of the zombies, and a little cleanup, Rick and crew believe they have found their new home, the most spacious, and safest yet.  If this sounds at all familiar, it’s reminiscent of last volume when they found the estates.  Much like that story, they found other survivors who gave them food, before also encountering other zombies.  In that story, those people were Tyreese, his daughter and her boyfriend, who are now members of Rick’s zombie hatin’ posse.  In this story, the human survivors found are four inmates, locked safely in the cafeteria.  Sure, they’re convicts, one of which was falsely accused, the other a murderer, another was a drug addict. The final member, was a tax evader.  Still, they seemed very peaceful, reformed and best of all for Rick and company, they have a kitchen full of food, canned and otherwise; enough for a prison full of people. With that in mind, Rick heads to Hershel farm, to get Hershel and the remainder of his children to move into the penitentiary.  Despite the chaos that ensued previously between Hershel’s group and Rick’s survivors, coupled with the fact that Hershel almost shot Rick, I think this gesture is a sign of Rick’s hopefulness and positivity in the face of this hell on Earth.  For the first few issues of this volume, I fell for the false sense of security Rick and Tyreese were feeling.  This is the second volume in a row, where Robert Kirkman played me for a fool. In this case, it’s a mark of great storytelling, so I am not ashamed.

Things start turning sour when Lori begins to worry and express fear about having a murderer and drug addict in their midst.  Rick agrees they should be mindful of potential threats and be cautious, yet remains staunch and optimistic that this new status quo is best for everyone. Tensions are raised higher when Tyreese’s daughter and her boyfriend botch a simultaneous suicide after a night of passionate sex. They planned to shoot each other simultaneously, but Chris accidentally fired too quickly.  When Tyreese discovers what occurs he kills Chris in a fit of anger. I can see both sides of this scenario, On the one hand, the two young lovers know their chances of surviving this zombie apocalypse are slim, so why not go out of this world on their terms, together, and as the Joker says; “If you gotta go, go with a smile.”  It’s very Romeo and Juliet…but with zombies. I understand Tyreese’s actions too, because planned or not, Chris still killed his baby girl. I’d choke the bastard too! I can rationalize both acts from both parties, given the world they inhabit.  These scenes throw an added wrinkle into the story.  What was once human on zombie violence, now has taken on an element of human on human violence.  If that isn’t a twist enough for you, how about the fact that Tyrese’s daughter and her boyfriend turn into zombies after death….without having being bitten!? Holy Plot Twist Batman! I seriously didn’t see that coming.  It’s not explained, as to how it’s possible either. So I wonder, is the zombie gene within every human? Will this ever be answered? It better damn well be because I’m so curious. This plot point leads to a cameo from a character we haven’t seen since the first issue.  If that wasn’t enough proof of the unpredictability of this book, Hershel’s two daughters are murdered and beheaded.  Yes, in the midst of all this, Robert Kirkman had to throw a murder mystery into this story and at no point does this book feel overstuffed or bogged down by it.  Naturally, Team Grimes, specifically Lori, lays blame on either the murder suspect or the former drug addict.  Unsure, the group decides to lock them both in separate cells.  When Andrea is attacked by the criminal who was convicted for tax evasion and her earlobe cut off, Rick loses it, and nearly beats the man to death. Despite protests from his fellow survivors, Rick unilaterally decides that murder will not be tolerated and death will be met with death. So Rick has him thrown outside the gates of the penitentiary, where he is attacked and killed by zombies. The previous suspects are released, but stage a mutiny holding Rick and company at gunpoint, ordering them to leave the penitentiary. Rick finally snapped and the tipping point was Hershel’s daughters being killed. He blames himself for their deaths. However, you can see the events of each volume chipping away at Rick’s calm and sanity.  It continues to affect his relationship with Lori. She’s even getting more snappy with him, though part of that is self admittedly her pregnancy hormones.  One thing I love about this book is that every event counts and affects the next story. Nothing is written as filler. Even if I leave this books for weeks or even months, the preceding storyline stays in the back of my mind, racing to the forefront when I pick up another volume.

Charlie Adlard returns for his second stint on the title.  He definitely seems more comfortable in this world and with these characters. There seems to be more detail in his work.  Last volume, I said the lack of color detracted from the setting of winter.  This time though, it works for the setting.  Inside and outside, the penitentiary looks spacious. There’s a dichotomy with the art on the interior of the Penitentiary.  The kitchen looks plentifully, while the rest of the place looks baron and desolate.  The best two zombie images are the pov shot of Rick and Tyreese peering into the gym seeing a horde of zombies on the other side of the door.  The other standout is when Tyreese is attacked by the zombie horde and they all swarm on top of him.  .  The most gruesome images are the human vs human violence. Tyreese’s dead daughters lying beheaded was disturbing, but the details of Rick dolling out a beating on the murderer is intense.  You can see the welts and bruises on his knuckles, without the aid of coloring.  The best cover of this volume is the one with Rick riding his motorcycle. When in doubt, remember that riding a motorcycle always looks badass!

At this point, I’m not sure if I’m going to watch the TV show.  Too many friends of mine have said it deviates too much from the book and that the storyline has disappointed as the seasons have gone on. One thing is for sure, I’m sticking with the comic book because it keeps getting better and better. I have a long way to go but I’m excited to read more, It’s no wonder this book tops the charts every time a new issue is released each month.

Comic Book Review: Y: The Last Man Volume 1: Unmanned

(Submitted by with love by Mr. Prince Adam…Ho-pe you’re having a very Happy New Comic Book Day, Kinky Ho-mies! xoxo)

“Written by Brian K. Vaughan (Lost, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD, EX MACHINA) and with art by Pia Guerra, this is the saga of Yorick Brown–the only human survivor of a planet-wide plague that instantly kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome. Accompanied by a mysterious government agent, a brilliant young geneticist and his pet monkey, Ampersand, Yorick travels the world in search of his lost love and the answer to why he’s the last man on earth. Collects issues #1-5.” (Vertigo)

This comic book gets a lot of critical praise and is lauded in the fanboy community as well! The way some of my friends talk about it, you’d think it’s the greatest thing you’ll ever read. Having just read the first volume, I just don’t get the high praise. For me it was okay, but I definitely had problems with it. One of the things I did like, was the idea that a virus/plague was killing every male on Earth. Now I didn’t like it because my male brethren were dying off. However, this was an intriguing plot point that is unique to any comic book I’ve ever read. The male death epidemic, allows the story to give us incredibly strong, prominent and badass female characters. Sure, Yorick Brown is the last man and he’s at the center of this story, along with his pet monkey Ampersand but this story would be pretty boring if it was about a dude and his monkey. By the way, this book gets extra points because a lead character has a pet monkey. The monkey is a pest, and a pain in the ass to Yuri, which drives most of the humor in this post-apocalyptic story. Also it reminds me of Friends and Joey. The president is obviously now a woman, and Yorick’s mother is a state representative in Washington. In an effort to set the scene for these two characters and this book before the male population goes extinct, this book gets quite political. We see Yorick’s mom arguing with a male counterpart over the issue of an abortion amendment. We see the soon to be President in Israel in the midst of Israeli/Palestinian warfare. Both abortion and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict are still big issues even a decade plus after this book was published. I’m pleased that these issues are present, as comic books rarely touch on them. I only hope that it wasn’t all for exposition, or that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, when the story shifts its focus to Yorick’s journey. Speaking of Yorick’s journey, to find out the nature of the virus, why he wasn’t affected by it, he’s joined by two other awesome female characters. The first is Agent 355. The character is tasked by the President to guard and escort Yorick from Washington to Boston. The interesting thing about Agent 355 is that she is no simple body guard, she is a member of the clandestine group Culper Ring. She says they are a part of American history but you can sense there’s more going on with this group and I can’t wait to delve into that history and their ultimate machinations in future volumes. The third member of Yorick’s Scooby gang is Doctor Allison Mann. Dr. Mann is a geneticist, with a special aptitude for cloning. She successfully attempted the cloning process before, and cloning Yorick seems like a way of re-establishing the male population to ensure the births of future generations of humanity. If you suspend disbelief, that sounds like a viable option and she sounds like someone who can get it done.

The main antagonist of this first five issues is the Daughters of the Amazon. They view extinction of all men as a blessing and as a chance to rise up and return Earth to its glory days, when it was led by only woman. These women take Amazon mythology to its extreme. To the point where they cut off one breast because it makes it easier to shoot a bow. If one of their ranks or another woman doesn’t fall in line with the exact ways of the group they are killed. Brian K. Vaughan writes the Daughters of the Amazon with the most extreme stereotypes people have of feminists. This group of women are man hating vandals, societal disrupters and killers. I don’t think the writer is doing this to disparage normal, sane and legitimate feminist, he’s just creating a hyper stereotypical version, who do horrible things so that the readers have an antagonist to root against and despise. If he depicted feminists as they really are, this book would have zero action beats at all. It’d just be marching and protesting. While that may be real world appropriate, it translates to one boring comic. With Yorick, Agent 355 and Dr. Mann getting into confrontations and being on the run from the Daughters of the Amazon, this book has a bit of a Mad Max vibe going for it. The book ends with our trifecta in a bind. Not only are they on the run from Amazon wannabe’s, but they reach Dr. Mann’s Boston lab, only to find the building and her research up in flames. However, the perpetrator of this arson, is a lieutenant general of the Israeli Defense Force. She was seen briefly and early in the story and is after Yorick, to ensure the future of her nation. That’s what I liked about this book. What I didn’t like was Yorick. This guy is in his mid-20’s, jobless and is obsessed with maintaining a long distance relationship with a girl who, it is clear that she’s on the verge of breaking up with him, so the guy proposes to her over the phone. What a douchebag. When the plague hits and all the men die, and it becomes clear that he is the only person capable of insuring humanity’s ultimate survival, his only concern is going to Australia to find his girlfriend. Really? I mean the savior of humanity throughout the book, acts like a petulant child when he doesn’t get his way. Yeah, if the future of the human race was really left up to someone like him, I’d rather we all die off. The other thing the book does poorly is deal with the relationship between Yorick and his sister Hero. He tells us how close they are, yet we never see them interact. A flashback to Yorick and Hero’s youth would’ve helped build the bond. Instead, we see Hero at the very beginning and end of the book. At the beginning, we see her banging her figherfighter boyfriend in the back of a fire truck, while at the end we see her with one boob and she is one of the members of Daughters of the Amazon tasked with finding Yorick. Seems to me Brian K Vaughan jumped the gun with her character arc, if you can call it one. Then there’s the issue of the plague killing all the men. The biggest plot point of this book and we don’t get so much of a hint at what it is, or what might have caused it. I understand there’s lots of story left to be told but come on, tease us with something.

Pia Guerra is the artist on this book and it’s the first time I’m seeing her work. To me it has a similar style to the artist of iZombie. While the work is good, given the nature of this story, there aren’t many action scenes to gush on about. I do like the picture of the wives of the dead republican male senators, approaching the White House with weapons, demanding their husband’s places on the senate. The image looked like something akin to zombie’s attacking in a movie or TV show. The page where Yorick gets into a fight with a few Daughters of the Amazon’s resembled the aftermath of an nWo wrestling match. A couple Amazon’s held Yorick down, while the ring leader roughed him up a bit. There was even spray paint involved! The final splash page is an aerial shot showing our characters lost in a literal fork in the road, with the road making the shape of a Y. Now that’s a cool way to end the first arc of a book. Ultimately though, I wish cover artist J.G. Jones was doing the interiors. His art is far more realistic looking and suits the real world story and scenario’s this book deals with.

I’m mostly split on this book. There’s a lot to like about this book but there’s a lot I don’t like about this book. Right now, I’m skewing more negative, due to an unlikable idiot of a main character, under developed backstory and character relationships, and bad pacing in certain places. I’ll probably give this book another go, in the hopes that another volume will build on the parts I did like, and reveal answers to the questions I have about the virus/plague. After Volume 1, I’m left wondering “Y” The hell do so many of my friends and critics think this book is great!?

Comic Book Review – The Lost Boys

(Submited by our Heroic Ho-mie, Mr. Prince Adam…Thank you, Super Sir! 🙂 xoxo)

“Santa Carla, California is on edge. The eccentric coastal town and haven for the undead was finally returning to “normal” after its last supernatural scuffle left the local coven’s head vampire dead and gave newcomers Michael and Sam Emerson a housewarming both violent and bizarre. Now the brothers must once again team up with militant vampire hunters Edgar and Allan Frog when a new gang of ruthless, stunning, life-sucking nightcrawlers known as the Blood Belles emerges from the aftermath to collect Michael’s love interest and their lost sister, Star.” (Vertigo)

It’s confession time; I have never seen The Lost Boys. I know, shame on me! The only reason I knew of it was because Kiefer Sutherland was in it. I really became intrigued by it, when Ms. Diana Prince got all excited over The CW developing a TV series based on the film property. So I tracked down the film, before hitting another stumbling block. That stumbling block was the film being directed by Joel Schumacher. Ever since Batman & Robin, my movie viewing has consisted of a “Sans Schumacher” rule. So I thought me and this film ever crossing paths was a no go! Then DC Entertainment, through the Vertigo imprint announced a comic book miniseries. So this was my compromise. Having read the book, and thoroughly enjoying it, as well as for reviewing purposes for this site; I will break my “Sans Schumacher” rule and watch The Lost Boys! See how much I love this site! Aside from liking this book, another reason I must watch the movie is because this book is a sequel to the film! I simply have to watch the events that led to this story unfold. Having said that, if you’re like me and have never seen the film, this book is not confusing. It tells you the basics. Brothers Sam and Michael move to Santa Carla. Michael falls for a girl he meets on the boardwalk named Star. However, Star has ties to a guy named David, a Vampire. Michael is lured into and seduced by the world of the Vampire’s. That leaves Sam, his grandfather James, and two other Vampire Hunters known as the Frog Brothers to save Michael. Our story picks up with the David and his gang of Vampire’s seemingly dead. Sam works at the local comic book shop (bonus points), Michael works at a retirement home, but is also making a life with Star, who’s trying to live amongst us as a human with his family. Meanwhile, his grandfather operates a flailing vampire hunters group out of a Veterans Center known as the Santa Carla Hunters Union. What I loved about this early portion of the book was that writer Tim Seeley catches the reader up to speed with the film just enough, yet works some other spoilery pertinent information about the film for later, when it serve his new story. I enjoyed the Frog Brothers. They kind of remind me of a younger version of Bill and Ted, mixed with the Stranger Thing kids. My one problem is that they seem to be too young for any responsible adult to train and allow go out & hunt Vampires. This is the same problem I have with Bruce Wayne allowing and training 9 year old Dick Grayson to fight crime and be his partner. Both cases are socially and morally irresponsible. Maybe it’ll play out differently when I watch the film, but right now, as they are presented in the book, it bugs me a little. I like that Sam works at a comic book store and in said store, there is a book that mirrors the events of the film. I like when comics and movies have that cool Meta aspect to them.

The peaceful status quo is interrupted when a fire erupts at SCHU headquarters. This lures the remaining few hunter left outside and the vampires kill them, including Michael and Sam’s grandfather. This action causes Star to flee and Michael to chase after her. Meanwhile, the Frog brothers are on the case, trying to figure out what the vampires are up to. Armed with wooden stakes, crosses, holy water and garlic, they find themselves at the Santa Carla Sea Caves, where they discover an underground female gang of vampires known as the blood belles, who revived David and secretly used an unknowing Star, to lure Michael and the Frog Brothers to their caves. Their ultimate goal; to resurrect the lost Vampire City of Xibalba, which had been lost under these caves thanks to earthquakes for six thousand years. Along with the city, their inhabitants, the Mothers of Vampires will be resurrected. To do this, they need to drain the blood of a half human/vampire of his blood, which is why they have Michael, as well as sacrifice a virgin, which is why they kidnapped the Frog brothers. This aspect of the story offers so much to like. First, is the classic method to kill a vampire. I’m a sucker for the tried and true techniques of killing a vampire and it’s nice to not see a story try and reinvent the wheel just to be different. I love that the new vampire threat in town is a gang of women, better still that they are revving an ancient civilization’s group of vampire’s. With rare exceptions like Buffy, Vampirella and Van Helsing, the vampire genre’s history is to position women in the roles of damsel’s in distress. It’s good to see them take the lead here and to be villainesses power houses too! Even David, the lead Vampire is working FOR them. He is their minion and that is a bold statement by our writer. As for how David survived death from the film? He was given an injection of blood from the Mother’s in stasis, which heals his wounds. I like the idea that their blood can save fellow vampires, as well as the conceit that a mere injection of vampire blood can turn humans into vampires. Typically, a human injected with vampire blood has to die before turning but here the change can happen amongst the living, which is unique. At least to me it is. Star’s Sire and chief member of the Blood Belle’s, Billy was the daughter of a master and a slave. While she was freed, she was chased by a witch hunter who branded her with the mark of a witch. As a result, her townspeople attempted to burn her. However, she was saved by a vampire, one of the original Blood Belle’s. Ultimately, she dies in the third act of this book, by watching sunrise, one last time. I was entranced by her origin but feel as though it was glossed over. They could do her origin story and early history justice with a comic book miniseries. Her death served to tell the reader that in this books mythology, when a sire dies, their offspring return to being human. This presents Star with a dilemma at the end of the story. Does she take the injection of blood from the mothers of vampires, or does she live out her days as a human, waiting to succumb to her pre-vampire disease of cystic fibrosis? Oh btw I am so not spoiling the end. Read it and see for yourself.

I do have some problems with the finale of the book. For one, Michael, Star and the Frog Brothers are rescued by Sam and an underdeveloped character known as The Believer. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy this guy as a vampire hunter. He has more in common with Ashton Kutcher in Dude Where’s My Car, than he does with Abraham van Helsing. Not to mention, we’ve already chronicled Sam’s non experience as a vampire hunter. The Mothers of Vampire’s were built up as such a threat, with their blood holding so much power, yet, they are given so little time to showcase their true levels of badassery. In the end, they are felled by a Vampire bomb thrown into the cave by Sam, which causes the cave to crumble on top of them. I think that was a waste of great setup for these characters. Also a waste, was the subplot of the residents of the Hughes Retirement Home being turned into vampires. First off, the turn was done off page, so you didn’t know it happened until you see them. Add to that, the fact that they are confronted and killed within half an issue. This book suffers from pacing problems, and could have easily been an 8 or 12 issue maxi series. All is not lost though. These problems could be fixed in a follow-up comic, which I believe is likely, since the ending suggests that original Lost Boy, David, once again escapes eternal death in this story.

Steve Godlewski is the artist for this book and provides great work. While his art is nowhere near as realistic looking as Alex Ross, I think the characters bare a strong resemblance to their film actor counter parts. This is especially true of David. You can definitely see a young Kiefer Sutherland in the rendering. One panel that is particularly beautiful is the shot of the Santa Carla boardwalk all lit up during a night setting. Also, in terms of picturesque beauty, the final image of Michael and Star kissing on the bluff as the sun sets, looks like something you’d see in and old school film like Gone With the Wind. Let’s get to the vampires shall we. I loved the look and wardrobe of the Mothers of Vampires. The Ancient Egyptian look really gave weight to their distinction as the mothers of vampires. One extremely striking image was the pages featuring the residence of the old age home as vampires. It’s striking because recent movies, television and books don’t depict elderly people as vampires. It’s typically reserved for the “young and beautiful.” The most gruesome images of the book go to the flashback of Billy being burned at the stake and David being skewered in the head/eye. I have to give special mention to the early pages of Sam working in the comic book store. On the walls, you can spot actual comic books from the 80’s including John Byrne Superman and John Ostrander Suicide Squad issues.

This was a really good book. I’m glad I decided to read it. Sure, I had some issues with it but overall it was fun and I got invested into most of the characters. This book is so good it has me eagerly looking forward to watching a Joel Schumacher film. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the highest amount of praise I could give to a comic book.

Comic Book Review: Fathom: Blue Sun

(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam, who was very brave to tackle this, as he knows I love Aspen and Michael Turner with every bit of my heart and soul… 😉 Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Heroic Ho-mie, and I hope all my lil’ Kinkbots are having a very Happy NCBD! 🙂 xoxo)

“There are two worlds. The one we know, and the one below. Aspen Matthews was a marine biologist who, in a failed experiment, discovered that she is actually a water nymph, able to live and thrive beneath the water.” (Aspen)

The first I’d became known of Michael Turner was his turn as artist on Jeph Loeb’s Superman/Batman book. More recently I’ve tracked down Witchblade, initially because it was being drawn by him. I’ve constantly seen Fathom artwork at my comic book store and at conventions I’ve attended. Every time I see it, I say to myself; I’ve got to read that. Well, thanks to a New Year’s sale on Comixology, I found my opportunity. While the art is certainly a main draw for purchase, the mystery surrounding the story definitely hooks you in. We first meet Aspen Matthews in flashbacks at age 11. She is a stowaway on a ship that had disappeared 10 years prior to the beginning of our story, only to be mysteriously found in San Diego. Our young protagonist has no memory, history, or name. So she is taken in and adopted by the ship’s Captain Matthews. When our story picks up in present day, the little girl is now in her mid to late 20’s. Her name is Aspen Matthews, a former Olympic swimmer and now a Marine Biologist. Yes, when setting up this story, writer Michael Turner makes it obvious, painfully so, that our protagonist feels at home in the water, as though she was born to be one with it. So if the cover to issue one doesn’t hint that water would be a major theme then the prologue to issue one most certainly will. Things get more unique when she gets recruited to Deep Marine Discovery Limited to research underwater habitat 1200 feet below sea level. When the underwater habitat that Aspen and her crew are in, is accidentally hit by a torpedo the vessel is capsized, fully submerged in water, where most of her crew dies. Fully submerge under water Aspen feels at peace, and calm. She is greeted by humanoid individuals wearing alien armor, who can seemingly manipulate and communicate with the water. They swim away from her, when they realize she is being rescued. When she regains consciousness in a hospital bed she shrugs this group of individuals off as hallucinatory visions as a result of almost drowning to death. She even recalls having similar visions after almost drowning during a scuba diving training, years earlier.

Those “humans” in the water weren’t a vision caused by a near death experience but instead are a race of aquatic humanoids known as The Blue. They hail from a place known as Chanarnay, which is beyond the Earth’s crust. For decades, there has been conflict within the ranks of The Blue. The majority want to live separate, and peaceful from the surface world. Another faction wants to attack and subjugate the surface world for all the atrocities they’ve committed. Aspen learns she is a member of The Blue, and that years earlier an attack by the extremist sect of the race, lead to the death of her parents, the disappearance of her brother, and caused her to flee, which lead her to find her way to that missing boat and onto the surface world. In the intervening years, two members from both sides of The Blue have been keeping tabs on her. Killian is the extremist trying to win Aspen’s favor, while Cannon Hawke is trying to recruit Aspen to help him keep Killian’s machinations at bay, Killian gets to her first, luring her in by teaching her how to use her abilities. Killian tricks her into helping him create a doomsday type weapon known as the “Blue Sun.” This weapon is a ball of energy in space, which is powered by three underwater stations. With this weapon, Killian intends to drill a hole in the Earth’s crust to reach The Blue’s home of Chanarnay. When Aspen see’s the destruction and loss of life this will ultimately cause to Earth, she begins to regret and question her involvement. It is here, where she is approached by Kyla, a spy in Killian’s ranks who is working for Cannon, so she defects and helps them try to destroy the “Blue Sun” and defeat Killian. I’ve left out several key surprises and the books finale for those who haven’t read it. You’ll have to read it yourself to find out what unfolds.

The idea that there is a race of aquatic humanoids living in the depths of the Earth’s waters and in the Earth’s crust requires suspension of disbelief, yet I can let myself go there because we’ve explored so little of the Earth’s waters, who knows what’s truly down there. I love the idea that there was political upheaval within the ranks of their civilization. While Killian’s end game is somewhat unclear, what we do know of it reminds me of Zod’s plan in Man of Steel, where he wanted to terraform Earth into New Krypton. So maybe Killian wanted to turn Earth into New Chanarnay. While I wish this was further explained, what Michael Turner did fantastically was give us enough backstory and interaction with Aspen Matthews, so that we as readers got excited and cared for the character, prior to all the sci-fi trappings kicking in. In doing so, it intensified reading and seeing Killian’s plan unfold because as that happens, we are learning about the history of “The Blue” as well as learning about Aspen’s true nature. One thing that wasn’t clearly defined, is what exactly “The Blue” are. Is their origin rooted in Atlantis, I’m not sure. Atlantis as their home is never mentioned. Also, “The Blue” aren’t confined to the water. They have flying ships, so they could very well be aliens. I’m hopeful that we’ll get an answer as I progress with the story. I will say that it doesn’t bother me not knowing right now, as I’m a sucker for speculation, even if it’s my own.

I could sit here and write Michael Turner’s art is amazing and end the review there because it’s true. However, I’ll point out a few specifics while I’m at it. First off, every character in this book looks like they could be cast in a show on The CW. Holy Hotness Batman! I mean seriously, if you’re a man, and hey, even a woman in some cases, there’s no way you can look at Michael Turner’s rendition of Aspen Matthews and not get aroused. Or maybe you can and it’s just me. In that case, never mind. For the women who prefer men and the men who prefer men, don’t worry, this comic book has eye candy for you too. Having said that, it wouldn’t hurt this book to draw some plain average looking people. Just saying, not everyone looks like a super model you know! The San Diego view is also beautiful! Damn, this book makes me want to take a vacation. Michael Turner’s pencils combined with Jonathan D, Smith’s use of gold and orange for sunlight and sunset, along with the crystal blue water make San Diego look stunning. The only other selling point one needs, is that Comic Con takes place there. The armor worn by The Blue, as well as their aircraft and weaponry look crustacean, which is the perfect aesthetic for these aqua based humanoids. The image of the Blue Sky disrupting the water and for moments nearly flooding the Earth, make the flood described in the Bible look like a light sprinkle of rain. Also the scene where Aspen battles the beam of energy of the Blue Sun, called to mind the scene where Superman battles the World Engine in Man of Steel. Such a great final set piece for this book and that film.

I’m glad I came to the Fathom party this late. It means I have plenty of work by the late, great Michael Turner to get to! What this book shows me is that Michael Turner was a strong writer with a fantastic idea, He was blessed with talent on both ends of the comic book creative spectrum and brought it to life. I can’t wait to read and review more. Also, Fathom NEEDS TO BE A MOVIE! I have the perfect choice to play Aspen Matthews, our very own Miss Kinky Horror, Diana Prince herself. No, I’m not just saying that to kiss the bosses ass. Nor am I saying that because I want to see her wet and in a bikini, though there’s no denying that is a vision of true epic-ness and beauty! I sincerely believe she’d be great in the role. So make it happen Hollywood! (Lol Yeah, yeah…That raise is a comin’!! 😉 xoxo)

Opinion Piece: Justice League Trailer Breakdown & Wonder Woman Thoughts

(Submitted by the stately Prince Adam…Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Kinky Ho-mie. 🙂 xoxo)

March 25th marked the one year anniversary of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. To commemorate this fact, Warner Brothers dropped the first legitimate trailer for the first ever live action Justice League film. Before I discuss that, there’s another important DC Films project releasing on June 2. That film is the long awaited, long overdue Wonder Woman film. For my money this is the first bonafide female led superhero film. No I don’t count the Catwoman or Elektra films, as they were utter horse shit and complete bastardizations of their characters. Unlike those farces, Wonder Woman directed by Patty Jenkins and starring Gal Gadot looks incredible.  I love that the film is a straight up origin tale. Some fans may be getting tired of origin films but Wonder Woman has never had one and thus, I think it is necessary.  From the trailers, specifically the most recent one, I love the contrast of the pristine, seemingly untouched beauty of Themyscira, compared with the smoke filled war torn London England. The home of the Amazon’s is a parallel for heaven, while man’s world looks like hell.  Diana’s journey from childhood princess to warrior/superhero is reminiscent of Bruce Wayne’s journey from orphan to vigilante in Batman Begins.  My favorite scenes of the trailer are the training on Paradise Island and Wonder Woman emerging from the trenches onto the battlefield, deflecting bullets with her bracelets. That’s symbolic because Wonder Woman is emerging from the trenches into a no man’s land while the men fall behind her. This film is culturally and socially important because Wonder Woman is stepping out of the shadows and standing front and center, in a film genre, that for far too long, has been dominated by men.  I think the movie is going to be a big hit at the box-office. However, there is a smear campaign going on against the film in the blog sphere.  It started way back when Gal Gadot was first cast.  They said she was not muscular enough and that her boobs were too small.  Then she appeared in BvS and fans loved Gal as Wonder Woman. So now that the fans are onboard, the clickbait websites need a different kind of hate to spew, so they make up headlines about Wonder Woman’s armpits being bleached, and joke about the JL Wonder Woman poster looking as though she’s pissing fire.  My message to fans of Wonder Woman and DC Films; when Wonder Woman hits theaters, buy tickets to see the film.  If you can, pre-order them. Buy Wonder Woman related products and apparel from the film. Let’s show these haters that we want more Wonder Woman, we want more DC Films and we want more female led superhero films.

June 2nd isn’t the only time you’ll see Wonder Woman on screen in 2017.  She’ll join Batman and form the Justice League on November 17th.  The first trailer for the film has just been released and I love it. It is a fantastic teaser. I know it’s long to be classified as a teaser, but they’re typically all that long now.  As a teaser, it gave us the right amount of nuts and bolts of story for still being 8 months out.  An alien threat has come to earth, and Batman and Wonder Woman are recruiting a team of meta humans to stand against them.  We then get character moments highlighting how “super” each one of them is.  Aquaman got the best few solo shots of the trailer.  First, parting the sea by smashing the butt of his trident to the ground.  I mean, even Moses would be jealous of that shit! There’s also the scene where he throws his trident, impaling two pardemons.  Ezra Miller’s take on The Flash looked cool as well. This iteration seems to run through the speed force every time he uses his speed, which is a novel approach that differentiates from the television incarnation. I love how happy he is to be doing the superhero thing and being part of this team.   For the most part, I liked the look of Cyborg.  My favorite frame of his was when he was in flight. You can tell the visual effects on him aren’t finished but given that we’re 8 months out, I’m not concerned.   We know how BADASS Batman and Wonder Woman are already, but Zack Snyder reminds us by showing Batman using the Gatling gun on the Batmobile to take out parademons. I’m honestly shocked to have seen this because after years of WB being under the Chris Nolan worldview, the thought of Batman fighting aliens seemed like a nonstarter. Also, Wonder Woman’s apparent signature slow motion leg sweep/kick is present and accounted for.  The humor in the trailer works, it doesn’t seem forced at all. Barry asks Bruce what his super-power is, to which Bruce says; I’m rich.  There’s also a scene of Batman being joined by Aquaman on the roof of the GCPD, where Aquaman says; “Dressed like a bat. I dig it.  Also, this scene gives us our first look at J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon. God bless Zack Snyder for giving us vintage Jim Gordon, complete with big white mustache, fedora and trench coat. The brief moments of character interactions we got between the heroes reminded me so much of the Justice League animated series. In fact, my favourite scene is the “line up shot”, featuring every Justice League member with the sun glistening behind them.  This was a clear homage to the intro of the animate series that gave me goosebumps.

What I love about the last Wonder Woman trailer and first Justice League trailer, is that they showed us a lot, while revealing very little.  With Wonder Woman, we have yet to see Ares and for Justice League, we’ve yet to see Superman’s return or Steppenwolf.  To be honest, I hope we don’t see them until we’re all sitting in the theater watching the films. No need to blow your proverbial Ares and Superman loads too quickly Warner Brothers.  I was extremely happy and satisfied with both Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad.  However, Wonder Woman and Justice League prove the best is yet to come for DC Films,

Kinky Komic Review: American Vampire- The Beast in the Cave

(Ho-wdy, fiends! Back to ho-st post duty after my mini-hiatus. You know ho-w much prep goes into Anuual Purge night …Ho-pefully you made it through ok without me. 😉 Let’s get things Crypt Jam-min’ round here again, starting with a Kinky Komic review from our prestigious pal, Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks so much, you Superheroic Stud, you!!;)  xoxo)

“This tale comes from the early 1800’s with the “The Beast in the Cave” featuring art by the legendary Jordi Bernet (Torpedo, JONAH HEX). Learn about the original American Vampire, Skinner Sweet, and his involvement in the brutal Indian Wars, and an ancient evil hidden in the heart of the Old West. Plus, more about the man Skinner used to call his best friend – James Book!” (Vertigo)

This book has always been set in past eras but the story itself, always moves forward in time.  For the first time, writer Scott Snyder takes us back to the 1800’s and the great Indian Wars.  Before that though, we’re taken to the late 1700’s. Here we see a young Skinner Sweet whose family farm has been burned and scorched to the ground as a result of war.  With his family and his home gone, Skinner is taken in by his best friend’s family. That best friend is James Book.  Yes, with this storyline, Scott Snyder is essentially giving us the Smallville story for American Vampire.  Obviously, James Book is the Clark Kent character, with Skinner Sweet being the equivalent of Lex Luthor.  As kids, they always played Lawman Vs Outlaw, which foreshadowed the future of their relationship. I didn’t consider the possibility of a prior friendship, but when you look back at the first story featuring their adult counterparts, it makes total sense. In that first story James Book was always more laxed with the law when confronting Skinner, while Skinner would attempt to save James Book from the European Vampires in that first story arc.  All this, in spite of their adversarial nature at that point in time.  You also see how the child Skinner is fearless as he shoves his arm in a rattlesnake’s cave hole. Once again, Snyder foreshadows, this time the end of this story, when Skinner fearlessly travels into the cave of the fist Native American vampire’s. When the book transitions from the children to the adult armed soldier versions of Skinner and Jim, we see the versions of their characters we are familiar with nearly fully formed. Jim Book is straight laced, follows the rules, and upholds rank and the chain of command.  Skinner meanwhile, is the risk taker who falls out of line, breaks the rules, and even deserts the army, all to prove that his supervisor’s information and tactics are wrong. He feels the natives are undermanned, while his supervisors feel they are outnumbered. Of course Skinner is technically right. The circumstances may be different but his attitude and behaviour is exactly in line with what got vampire Skinner into trouble with the ancient European vampires in the first story. This book is a lesson in Scott Snyder being a master at the art of the callback and seamlessly tying his previous work with his newest installment. One area this book suffers in is its portrayal of the Indian Wars.  We’re told that they’re brutal, but we never really see the affects the war has on the combatants.  This is unfortunate, especially when you see how fantastically Snyder handled World War II Japan in the last arc.  Snyder had a chance to highlight the horrors Native American’s experienced, yet here it was simply glossed over.

The reason I said Skinner was technically right about the Native American forces being undermanned, was due to the fact that he had no knowledge of their ace in the hole or should I say, ace in the cave!? This being Mimiteth, the Goddess of Death.  The second issue of this three part story tells the story of Mimiteth, a young Native American woman who was sold into slavery by her French husband, to other European travelers who wanted to use her as a translator.  One night, she followed them from their camp into the woods, she saw them transform into Vampires and maul a bear. When they catch wind of her they drain her of her blood.  However she survives due to an immunity to wood and her ability to feed on sunlight. When she comes to, after herself feeding, she absconds to a cave in her village of origin.  In this story’s present day, the head of the Apache tribe summons her and asks her to help save their people and turn the tide of the war. She agrees but ultimately her hunger is too strong. She kills the members of her tribe and absconds back into her cave.  The book closes with a wayward Skinner arriving at the top of the cave, seeing all the Apache warriors’ dead, before fearlessly entering the cave.  This segment reminded me of the Smallville episode Skinwalkers. That episode featured a woman who would turn into a wolf to protect the sacred Native American caves that Lionel Luthor wanted to excavate and then demolish. Initially she just wanted to scare Lionel’s contractors, but the animalistic nature of the beast within her took over and she killed. In this story Mimiteth didn’t want to kill, which is why she secluded herself in a cave.  However, her vampiric thirst and hunger for blood led her to killing her own people.  I assume that when Skinner walks into the cave, shortly thereafter he is turned into a vampire. I could be wrong, but it’s never shown.  If this is the case, I’m slightly disappointed at being robbed of that iconic moment.

Jordi Bernet steps in on art for this three issue story.  While I’ve grown to appreciate the regular artist on this book, I really enjoyed this artwork.  It was certainly refreshing to not have to see every character have a constipated look on their face once every issues.  The art had a very Lone Ranger/Zorro aesthetic to it, which is perfect since were dealing with a “Cowboys vs. Indians tale. The canyons, mountains and ridges looked stunning.  While there was little to no war battle action, the two images of both groups in their bunkers, waiting for the other side to make the first move, looked particularly intense.  To the delight of Miss Kinky Horror herself, this book isn’t afraid to free the nipple. Several times in this book, Mimiteth walked around with her breasts and full nipples exposed.  The two scariest/horrific pages of this book are Mimiteth with her fangs expose ready to attack the Apache tribe and Skinner Sweet and James book discovering those bloodied dead bodies scattered all over the ridge.  Mimiteth full Vampire look is monstrous, specifically classic devil looking.  While this design looks too unoriginal and safe, I appreciate that the artists give us new vampire designs every time the story takes us to a new era.

Is this portion of the American Vampire a must read? I would say no, simply because it doesn’t advance the overall mythology forward.  Would I still recommend you read it? Yes. It gives readers our first taste of the true American Vampire.  I for one love that it’s a woman and a Native American woman too. Taking two often extremely marginalized groups, and putting them at the forefront of a popular series, with a brand new vampire mythology makes for a great idea, and a good story.

Kinky Komic Book Review: Spawn #6-7

(Submitted by Prince Adam…Thanks, Ho-mie O’Brien! 😉 xoxo)

“The Mob is fed up with losing their men to an unknown assailant. Finally deciding that Spawn is the killer, they send hit men to kill him. When Spawn defeats these attackers, the mob calls in Overtkill, a cyborg assassin. This foe is unlike any Spawn has ever faced, so he flees their battle to prepare. Luckily, he knows a secret armory stacked with the latest firepower.” (Image)

Following last issue’s emotionally charged socially relevant drama, where Spawn brought a child rapist to justice by killing him, Todd McFarlane, gets back to the super heroic horror the book featured in its first four issues.  Speaking of the first four issues, Spawn’s heart evisceration killing spree of the mafia has its consequences. The mafia has pooled its resources to higher the aforementioned Overtkill. The book does a great job in telling and showing us how much of a threat he is, however does a piss poor job at giving us any background on who Overtkill is, or how he came to be.  McFarlane tells us that he is a nemesis of the Youngblood’s and expects that to be sufficient.  Here’s the problem, I’ve never heard of Youngblood’s and have no inclination to read that title. I’m sorry but, it’s Rob Liefeld and the only character of his I can stomach is Deadpool. I find the rest of his work derivative, and the comic book equivalent of horse shit. Also, his art sucks. Anyway, if Todd McFarlane felt it necessary to borrow from that area of the Image universe, then it falls on him to give us details on Overtkill, for potential non Youngblood readers like me.  This is especially true for the early 90’s, when this book was written and the internet/Wikipedia wasn’t at our finger tips.  I did love that McFarlane showed Spawn being mindful of not using his power unless absolutely necessary, so as not to expend them, which would expedite his souls return to hell. It would be so easy for a writer to not acknowledge this fact from time to time, in favor of an awesome use of mystical powers.  Hoverer, the fact that this implication constantly affects and impacts Spawn, gives every scenario where he uses his abilities more weight and importance. This forced the character to rely on firearms he knew about from his days in the army.  What that does is bring both his past life and present life into conflict.  McFarlane uses this to give us more info about Spawn’s death. In the first volume, flashbacks inform us that a hit was ordered on him by a high ranking government official.  Here, through flashbacks, we learn that the mystery goes deeper and the person who carried out the kill, was someone he knew. In this flashback/nightmare sequence the face of his killer is seen as a skeleton. So we get a hint of new information, yet we don’t see who it is.  I like that we are getting teased, with the reveal being a slow burn. It puts us in Al Simmons shoes, almost like you’re watching a P.O.V, Telltale video game story play out.

As with the first five issues of this title, Todd McFarlane handles both writing and art duties.  While I thought character wise, Overtkill was disappointing, look wise he was great. He looked like a cross between Deadshot with is laser eye patch and Cyborg with all that armor.  The two fights between Spawn and Overtkill were incredibly short, but certain imagery from each really stood out. When Overtkill grabbed Spawn’s cape and chains, using them against him it showed how much of a hindrance, the superhero aesthetic can sometimes be. Most costumed character books don’t touch this issue, so it made this page stand out.  The page in issue 7 where Overtkill is turned inside out, thanks to a bazooka blast, is pure off the wall insanity that really pops off the page.  The image looks so great, it even counteracts the annoying amount of white background present on the page.  Spawns nightmare sequence was the most haunting of the book, as it featured an American flag riddled with bullet holes, with his killer being a skeleton. There’s blood red colors through the page.  The close up on Spawn’s face really accentuates the pain and anguish, each new memory causes Spawn.    While I love that Todd McFarlane highlights how kind and accepting the homeless community is to Spawn in his writing, he doesn’t glorify homelessness in the art.  The streets are dark, and full of garbage. You can see the toll homelessness causes on those who suffer through it, in the face of the homeless man Spawn interacts with.

These two issues aren’t as good as the first five. This is mainly due to an underdeveloped adversary, who feels like a throw away character we’re only going to see these two times.  However, I enjoyed every aspect that dealt with Spawn, his story movement and character development made this book a decent read and is the reason I want to continue reading the early adventures of this modern independent classic character.

4 Attachments

Comic Book Review: X-23: Innocence Lost

(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam, and a perfect complement to #InternationalWomensDay…Thanks, my heroine-hailing ho-mie! 😉 xoxo)

“Collects X-23 (2005) #1-6. Now the full story can be told – witness the machinations behind the origin of X-23 – who she is, where she came from, and the exact nature of her relationship to Wolverine.” (Marvel Comics)

I recently reviewed Wolverine: Old Man Logan, as it in some ways influenced Hugh Jackman’s last film as the adamantium clawed mutant. Before you read my review of the film (coming soon), let’s look at another book that undoubtedly influenced the film, “X-23: Innocence Lost.” They’ve tried to recreate the Weapon X program before but not quite like this. Creating a clone of Wolverine, or more specifically a genetic twin of Wolverine is such a fantastic proposition, I wonder what took Marvel so long. Writers Craig Kyle and Chris Yost avoid any repetition with the Wolverine story by making X-23 a female. What I love about this decision is that it wasn’t done, or at least doesn’t feel like a PR movie, the way Jane Foster becoming Thor did, or whoever the female Iron Man is. Here, X-23 is a female because the male Y chromosome is damaged and fails to bond with the mutant gene during the experiment. So after 22 failures, Mutant geneticist Sarah Kinney decides to double up on the female X chromosome. She does this in secret as she gets strong objection and opposition from the director of Weapon X Dr. Martin Sutter, and his chief surgeon on the project and head of operations, Zander Rice. I feel that their objection to the future of the Weapon X – Program being a female, and the fact that Sarah did it anyways was a play on comic fans fear of change and over-reaction and negativity towards established popular name brand characters being altered or gender bent. I’m okay with it as long as the change is story dictated. I really appreciated that this story was focused pretty exclusively on X-23 and didn’t rely on an appearance from Wolverine. He only appeared at the start of the book in flashbacks to establish a connection between the original Weapon X program and this new iteration. I was very surprised at the purpose behind creating X-23. It wasn’t grandiose. Magneto and Mister Sinister weren’t trying to enslave humanity, or wipe out the mutant population. This was simply a genetics company trying to recreate the Weapon X program, to sell an assassin with the claws and killing prowess of Wolverine to the highest bidder. The simple monetary reason behind Dr. Sutter’s motives are refreshing, disturbing but refreshing. Zander Rice’s motives on the project are more personal. His father was killed by Wolverine in his berserker rage during the original Weapon X program, so he wants to use X-23 to kill both Dr. Sutter and Wolverine, as revenge for his father’s death. While I understand his motives, of the two, he’s more of a douchebag because of how he treats X-23.

I was going to comment on this book exploring the nature vs. nurture theme through the character of X-23. However, it’s more nurture vs. brainwashing/conditioning and which one will ultimately win out. Dr. Rice treats X-23 like a rabid animal, keeping her in a padded Asylum type room. He rigorously trains her heightened sense of smell like one would a hunting or police dog. He sends her out on violent killing missions, to showcase her and to brag about her skill to perspective bidders. This is something that I’d imagine someone involved in underground dog fighting would do, which makes it even more sickening. The most inhumane moments of treatment X-23 receives at the hands of Dr. Rice, including sharpening her bone claws, then coating them with adamantium, without the use of anesthetic. The second overtly horrific moment was when he left young X-23 at the mercy of an AIM firing squad because she was “late” to a rendezvous point, without knowing the extent of function of her healing factor. The nurturing X-23 gets is from the woman who gave her life, Sarah Kinney. We see Sarah comforting X-23 after a tough training session or mission, wiping away her tears when she cries .and cuddling her while she sleeps. She even reads Pinocchio and other fairy tales to her, in an effort to counterbalance the violence and harshness and horror she is participating on. Most importantly she gives X-23 her human name, Laura. The programing and brainwashing clearly worked early on, as she had no problem mowing down everyone from mafia dons, or drug dealers. Her killing isn’t reserved for criminals, as she has no problem killing a Presidential candidate and his entire family, at the behest of Dr. Sutter and Dr. Rice, However, Sarah’s mothering skills also have an effect as X-23 spares the life of Dr. Sutter’s son, despite killing him and his wife. She also uses her mutant ability to rescue Sarah’s niece from a child kidnapper. By book’s end, despite killing Dr. Rice in the hopes of running away from the Weapon X program with her mom, Laura kills her mom after Dr. Rice triggered her berserker rage, by secretly applying the trigger scent to Sarah, hours before his final confrontation with Laura. The book ending on this note actually makes things more intriguing going forward, as the journey of a dark, tortured hero, trying to find their way and seek redemption or not, always ends up being exciting.

Art for this six issue miniseries was handled by Billy Tan. His art was very sleek and modern. It’s from the same style as Brett Booth. First and foremost I love the two claws instead of three. Throw in the single claw on each foot and it makes her so visually distinctive from her three clawed male predecessor. Tan does a great job drawing X-23’s disguises when she goes on missions. Seeing her posing as a girl on crutches in one mission and a girl scout selling cookies on another mission, is believably distracting to the point where even I bought her as this meek, innocent child. That is a sharp contrast to seeing her as X-23, blood red eyes in full berserker rage when she kills her mother on the last few pages. The art perfectly displays the internal struggle of the character. There was violence and blood in this book. The two most violent pages were the end scenes where X23 kills the vice president and his family, and later when she kills Dr. Rice. Sure the battles are bone breaking and you definitely sense that, but 99% of the time, all you see is excessive blood splatter. Yet, I only counted one or two times where you actually see her claws pierce into someone’s skin. Only once, do you see someone lose a body part as a result of Laura Kinney’s claws. After reading two volumes of Deadpool and Wolverine: Old Man Logan, this book definitely skimmed on the violence by comparison. I feel this book merits more intense depictions of violence and I feel somewhat cheated.

This book continues the hot streak of being a great book set in the X-Men corner of the Marvel Universe that I have reviewed here. This book did a great job of intriguing and maintaining my interest in a character I had previously only had a passing awareness of. I’m glad they didn’t rely or force feed the character of Wolverine onto this story. This book needed to establish Laura Kinney as a character and get the reader to invest in her on her own merits. I feel this book succeeded in that regard. Plus, now they can save the first meeting of Wolverine and his genetic twin/somewhat daughter for later and maximizing the hype, instead of blowing their proverbial load in the first story arc. I look forward to reading that story and many more. If Laura aka X-23 is half as awesome in Logan as she is in this book, then I think FOX may have the answer to who will eventually replace Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Do yourself a favor…READ THIS BOOK!