Categories
Film

GateBuster: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

There was a timeline where I would have held great pride in destroying the existence of a film as pointless as Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. And yet here I reside once more in the timeline that I originated in and is all that you have ever known. The film has led me to undo my conquest of the world as well as the Top 40 charts. I who once sat in the seat of power have been brought low by this meaningless film as the mighty Tripods were undone by germs in the classic novel and film adaptations of The War of Worlds. I was not always this tired 50 year old film store employee, working 3 jobs to provide myself the benefits needed for survival in this capitalist nightmare.

I was once Chroniculus Von Rocksmore and I had fled our own standard timeline seeking a two fold tactic for global domination. 

First, I had stolen a large number of hit songs from this timeline and I had released them to build myself a large coffer and an incredibly devoted fanbase. They were fascinated by songs like Wrecking Ball, Zombie, and Because I Got High

Secondly, I used this wealth to indoctrinate my fans before I equipped them with weaponry purchased using my funds. In a matter of years, we overtook the world where I sat as ruler. Under my iron fist nobody went hungry or without healthcare, personal identity freedoms were legalized, and many millionaires and billionaires were crushed under the threshing maws as revenge for their greed. 

And before you raise concerns, I was making the same amount of money as all others and lived in a reasonable ranch home on my equally allotted plot of land. Yes, some called me a tyrannical despot with a voice of an angel and more oblique secrets than a lost civilization but in my defense, I released Who Let The Dogs Out and You’re So Vain in the same week and many questions about the mysteries of my origins arose. 

But the film Attack of the Killer Tomatoes destroyed my desire to rule the world through time theft. You see, the only way I can account for such a slapdash use of jokes and half jokes smothered in sexism, racism, and just a pinch of homophobia is that these jokes were stolen from elsewhere in the timeline and were ineptly put together by the team behind the film. Even the core plot has direct parallels to Mars Attacks, a film released decades later, down to a singer with a strange voice being the key to destroying the enemy, and I assure you dear renter, Puberty Love has nothing on Indian Love Call 1952 by Slim Whitman. If these jokes and others weren’t stolen from across time and then re entered here, then I suppose this is simply the work of inept film creators trying to parody B-movies by inadvertently releasing a C-movie. Their main character is named Mason Dixon with nothing beyond the reference to the Mason-Dixon Line. It informs nothing. Their only female character is named Lois for a cheap Superman reference that leads nowhere – and she exists solely to be referred to as an object for every sexist tendency imaginable – and then to be a love interest. 

This is a film so bad I realized that I could no longer exist in a seat of power gained through time crimes if similar time crimes led to a film as bad as this existing. Watching and seeing your dreams crumble before your eyes and think of the impossibility that was lost of Chroniculus Von Rocksmore.

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Uncategorized

GateCrashers Originals: Star Wars Edition

The entire month of July, GateCrashers has been celebrating everything that is Star Wars. We couldn’t let GC Originals miss out on the action, so this second edition of original stories, poems, and art are all based within the Star Wars universe. Our creators have put together some incredible stuff for you this month. So buckle up, because we’re jumping into new adventures set in our favorite galaxy far, far away!


Art by Brandie Brimfield. Visit Brandie’s Etsy shop here.

“The Droid Cycle”
Submitted by José Cardenas
Medium: Short Story

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a droid named R2-X4, a squat astromech painted a dark, relaxing green with some stark white highlights. It was born in a batch of 40 identical siblings and sold to the Galactic Republic as repair tools for their battle cruisers. The factory would have sold them to a small traveling business, but the ever-present Clone Wars, as always, pay much, much higher. 

As with all other units like it, X4 was not at all a bright intelligence. The only personality required of it was quiet efficiency, and it accomplished that in every rotation, connecting fuselages and reattaching landing gear parts. 

Despite the size of X4’s assigned cruiser, the droid would never be one to explore. The cargo bay was its home and it lived a solitary existence among a battalion of worker droids, a small army of clone troopers and a cadre of military leaders. He’d be a metal ghost, until a random pilot would arrive in the bay, tapping its head and calling it “Conehead.” The droid held no feelings about the moniker. Its clicks and chirps were just as mechanical as its functions. 

It never understood the appeal in performing beyond parameters, unlike some strange droids there’d be rumors about. 

 Sometimes, when all other droids were unavailable, the commanding officer would draft it into a spacewalk crew, which was usually made up of a clone engineer and a droid quintet. 

That quiet efficiency was even quieter in the vast void of space, but the beauty of starry black vistas was lost on a droid, and the other worker droids. Even the clone engineer, a warrior capable of so much emotion and valor, considered the majesty of space as another wartime routine. 

What wasn’t routine was the Separatist ambush. An enemy frigate jumped out of hyperspace and immediately started firing against the Republic cruiser. Complacent and unprepared, the soldiers and leaders within desperately scrambled to initiate a counter attack. So desperate, that they forgot to bring in the repair crew still on their spacewalk.

The engineer was the first to die. A stray laser blast from a droid fighter caused an eruption in the area on which he stood and cracked his protective suit. His body froze into a twisted fetal position. His last words were uttered only to his fellow droids, who were never the emotional sort. 

What the five droids did understand though, was the importance of self-preservation. All of them screamed and glided across the ship, avoiding enemy fire and searched for any entrance back inside the ship. Their wildly swiveling heads threatened to screw up into the ether. 

Out of each of them, you could say X4 itself was the most desperate. It was not because it valued its digital life, but rather because X4 fretted over his work. Should it perish, X4 believed that its replacement would absolutely fail at the tasks it accomplished with such precise regularity. 

Each of the droids were born from a different mold and led different purposes, but none of them would ever “say” that they valued work. It was just their function, after all, and not the only thing they were capable of. 

X4 would never know its own capabilities beyond repair, as it was the first of the droids to get destroyed. A droid starfighter, its thrusters blown out by a clone pilot, was determined to take at least one more life in its final moments of consciousness. Its dedication to the Separatist cause, pure. Its satisfaction in the Republic’s destruction, absolute. 

It aimed for the droids, and crashed into a molten blaze. X4’s horribly cratered body, its legs blown off, rocketed upwards, much faster than the body of the poor engineer. 

But its story didn’t end there. The green-and-white droid’s head was still connected to its body so its operating system still ran. Through a kamikaze strike, X4 transformed into a conical missile, flying so far as to escape the battle arena. No one heard its screams. 

It watched as the Republic cruiser was ripped apart, a chain of explosions blew across the sides. A final flurry of torpedoes from the Separatist frigate eventually cracked the ship apart. The sight would put any normal humanoid into a deep state of despair, but with a droid like X4, it could only compute the impossible calculations it takes to repair.

With the battle lost and ended, it continued gliding through the ether. It took an entire planet’s length before its entire audio recordings were burned out.  

Only when it bumped against a trashy junk ship did X4 finally “feel” something. Next, it felt the pull of a tractor beam, and gazed upwards at the blighted light that awaited. 

Inside, a quiet scavenger, a lonely Weequay male, inspected the broken body of X4. In a foreign tongue, the scavenger muttered to itself, and kicked the droid across the floor. The droid could not speak or protest against such mistreatment, but after rolling down the ship and seeing all the broken-down robotic parts and severed metal heads, it would’ve chosen screams of bloody murder instead. 

What was this horrible scavenger going to do, it thought to itself? Multiple scenarios ran through its decreasingly attached head, but the reality turned out to be quite simple. 

X4 reached the end of the ship and went inside a particularly hot room. A smelter. A great sense of doom washed over, more intense than the heat. The green-and-white paint already felt like it was melting. Worse, empty gun and torpedo molds hung on the walls. 

Not only a scavenger, this alien wanderer was also a weapons seller, and it was easy to guess what the weapons were made from. The Weequay male, staggered into the room and leaned towards the droid. With all its strength, the scavenger lifted X4’s body and placed it into the claw hanging over the forge. 

Stomping towards a control panel, it pulled a lever. The room rumbled, and the claw descended. 

Half-submerged into the forge pit, X4’s last “thoughts” would be the mourning of one thing. It would be so much better as a tool. R2-X4’s were made to repair spacecrafts, after all. 

Months later, a Republic cruiser, vitalized with desires for vengeance, ambushed a Separatist frigate. The battle occurred in a barren section of space, where no planet or life-filled moon could witness it. The first shot fired, a metal torpedo, conical and white, with small green streaks. 

Thus begins another battle in an ever-present age of war.


Art by Brandie Brimfield. Visit Brandie’s Etsy shop here.

“Protocol 5”
Submitted by Richard Durante
Medium: Short Story

The ravaged planet of Ibu held two secrets; the first being that at one point its waters were used to make the galaxy’s finest spirits. The other, that high above its atmosphere a Venator-class Star Destroyer orbited the planet with enough classified data to finally put an end to the Empire’s reign of Terror. Now, most of these ships were decommissioned when the Imperial class took over, but the modifications made to this one overcame any of its’ previous shortcomings. This particular vessel had a name amongst the Rebels, though few had ever seen her, as she had garnered enough intrigue to deserve a title: The Bully. Odd, but fitting, for this craft had a tough exterior, but a distinct vulnerability within that would allow the right person to make a stand against her. In this case, this person is actually people; Katmar Lannic and Tyroc Rolken, known to get their hands dirty for the Rebel Alliance as they now found themselves on this very ship.      

Tyroc’s belt shifted as he unhooked his blaster, the faded BlasTech DL-22 that had become less of a piece of metal and more an extension of his arm. His brow furrowed as he looked over at his trusted companion, Katmar Lannic, mimicking his move. “Haven’t run into as much trouble as I thought we would,” he whispered. “That’s a shame, you know I love trouble.” she replied with an added wink for good measure. A ship of this size would typically run with a crew of around 8000, but The Bully appeared to be nothing more than a ghost town. 

Tyroc moved closer to the entrance of door JL1138: “Looks like no one’s home, maybe they’re short-staffed after the Death Star was obliterated?” Katmar chuckled, she had missed out on the Yavin escapades, but every planet was abuzz with news of the explosion. She replied, “Maybe they are all learning how to shoot straight! I mean, aside from the handful of white helmets we blasted when we got here, it’s practically just you and me.” Tyroc’s eyebrows lifted. She was right, something that was hard for him to admit, but the admission had also made the air around them more electric. Something seemed off. He shook the feeling aside and entered the code they had luckily intercepted from a transmission between two Empire admirals. The door whooshed opened and they stepped inside.

         They walked over to the main terminal and plugged in their Network Mapper that instantly went to work. Ship schematics, base layouts, weapons suppliers; it was just what the alliance would need to add another blow to their weakened enemy. That’s when their eyes tracked onto another file, one that remained closed. “Why isn’t this one opening?” Katmar demanded. Tyroc had seen his fair share of data files to know that the hardest ones to crack were usually worth the most. “Let me work my magic,” he replied. Her eye roll went unnoticed as he put forth all his energy into this one task. “I’m in!” He shouted. Their mouths fell open as plans for something the Republic knew nothing about began to materialize, a second Death Star.

 Before they could celebrate the find, the overhead PA announced: 

“ALERT. DATA BREACH. PROTOCOL 5 IS IN EFFECT, 10 MINUTES TO SELF DESTRUCT!”

 Katmar grabbed Tyroc: “What the fuck is Protocol 5!?!” As Tyroc sheepishly replied, “Does it matter? It’s probably a Stormie reminder like – lift your helmet when you piss or else you drench the seat. The IMPORTANT part of the message was 10 minutes to self-destruct. The mapper has about 4 minutes left, and we NEED these plans. We can get back to the ship in less than 3 and out of here with a little over 2 to spare.” Katmar reached for her belt and pulled out her remote cam that she had linked to the ship’s security feed. She noticed something more alarming than the blaring message above. “Why are they abandoning the ship?”

         Tyroc was already back to trying to speed along their data theft, while Katmar’s words bounced around his head. Why were they abandoning ship? Usually, they would try and root out the problem and eliminate it, but it appears they prefer to escape instead. Katmar grabbed Tyroc’s shoulder gently, before saying: “We need to go. We know there is a second one, that’s enough. We just need to go.” Tyroc heard the uneasiness in her voice, but also heard another voice louder, his own, calling him a future General of the Rebel Alliance after securing these files. “No Katmar. We get everything and then we go.” They were interrupted by another announcement: 

“PROTOCOL 5 IS IN EFFECT. 6 MINUTES TO SELF DESTRUCT. 6 MINUTES!” 

Tyroc looked back down at the screen and saw the ‘Completed’ dialog box come up. He unplugged the mapper and looked at Katmar, giving her the unspoken nod that meant time to fly. 

They bolted out the door with their blasters drawn but encountered no resistance. Breaking in a full out sprint to return to their ship, loot in hand, a thought ran through each of their minds. For Tyroc, it was a ceremony where he was greeted by that wild-eyed Princess, and the possibility of securing some time alone with her. For Katmar, it was an unshakable feeling that they had made a grave mistake and that they should have left sooner. As far as thinking goes between the two, Katmar had the right one, but unfortunately, it was their last one.

         Half a galaxy away, a notification had appeared in front of First-Officer Rydel’s COMMs Screen informing him that the aptly named Bully had self-destructed due to a data breach. He leapt from his chair and sprinted to Admiral Piett, who had been looking over some possible hiding places for the rebels. Rydel’s voice squeaked, “Admiral, the VCSD-77 enacted Protocol 5 and is no more.” The Admiral looked up and inquired, “Our troops make it off?” Rydel replied, “All accounted for, except for some that may have been eliminated by the intruders, but either way, the Rebel scum went down with the ship.” The Admiral smiled, something that hadn’t happened since before they lost the Death Star. “Lord Vader will be pleased. Rydel, do you know how we came up with Protocol 5?” the Admiral asked. Rydel was about to guess, but thought better of it. “No, sir.” The admiral leaned back in his chair. “The emperor came up with it. We had it timed that most evacuations can be done in 4-5 minutes with the minimal number of acceptable casualties. Now the enemy thinks they have 10 minutes, which some interpret as an eternity, but we know what Protocol 5 really means, 5 minutes less than the quoted evac time. Once enacted, our boys in white don’t waste time. They make their way out. Some rebel spy will sit there thinking they’ve won, then boom, they’re floating particles in space. It’s rather brilliant, and the emperor himself went so far as to say that the thing that kills the most Rebels, is the same thing that inspires them, the thing that makes them think they’ll make it out in time, even have a chance against us. One word. And do you know what that word is, Rydel?” The Admiral’s face looked sinister. Rydel again declined to guess, “No sir, what is it?” The admiral uttered the word in a mixture of laughter and contempt: “HOPE.”


Art by Brandie Brimfield. Visit Brandie’s Etsy shop here.

“I Am a Jedi, Like My Father Before Me”
Submitted by RJ Durante
Medium: Poem, written in the Tanka form

{For Jimmy, Trent, and anyone who shares “A New Hope” with the next generation}

More than a movie
A generational bond
As text starts to scroll
The parent glances over
Seeing their Padawan smile


Art by Bree O’Possum. Visit Bree’s Etsy Shop here.

Prey”
Submitted by Dan McMahon
Medium: Short Story

Balance is something they preach about heavily when you’re being indoctrinated in the Jedi Academy on Coruscant. Day in and day out, you learn the ways of the Jedi order. You’re taught more than just combat. I yearned for the days I would study the arts and music tucked away in one of the galaxy’s greatest libraries. Towards the end of my time as a Padawan though, all we knew was war.

The Council had become merely a pawn of Emperor Palpatine; used to weaken the Separatist movement. What the Separatists wanted was to be free of Republic rule. What they got instead was the fingers of the Empire gripped around their throat. The Jedi became warriors for the Clone Wars. They knew nothing of balance as they were dropped onto countless battlefields to annihilate waves of droids and organic life. 

All it did was leave the Force out of balance for the side of the light. Now the light is gone and we hid like womp rats as Darth Vader and the Inquisitors hunt us down. 

I thought I would be safe here. Dathomir was always whispered about in the Temple. Children always shared stories of it being haunted. To be fair, the only thing haunting the planet now is me. The wildlife is merciless, but I have a small homestead tucked deep inside the swamps. Its vegetation is thick enough to block natural light from coming through and the sudden changes in heat creates a thick fog that hides my new life on the run.

But it found me. I let my guard down as I collected some of the food I had been growing. That’s when I saw it in the distance. The black outline looked like a poison running through the veins of the fog. Every hair on my body stood alert as it started coming towards me. The earth under its feet made a curdling thump as the wet mud tried to hold its boots in place as if it were acting as my protector. This was all the head start I needed to leave. I ran as fast as I could, the mud taking one of my shoes as I sped back towards my home.

The blast doors slammed down with a metallic clang over the entrances as I turned on the defenses I installed. There was no way out of this. No ship waiting outside for me to leap into to make a daring escape. The Inquisitor was outside. Only thick metal walls separating it from me now.

Dread sunk deep into my heart, waiting for the door to burst open from an explosive but it was quiet. Everything was still until it started. A loud screeching from the door as the Inquisitor ran its talons over the door. Sharp jagged fingers slowly ran down the blast shield before the sound quickly came from across my home as the power flickered before the darkness overtook my home. It kept repeating, the sound coming from different locations over and over. Louder and louder each time it moved. The monster was playing with me… torturing me in my own home knowing that no one would save me now.

As thick as the walls were, I could hear it laughing. A warped and twisted crowing of a former Jedi corrupted to the rotten core by the dark side. As easily as it could get in, it didn’t. This was fun for it. This was a game. Something it lived for. The hunt. I was it’s prey.

I couldn’t just sit there, I needed to go for my lightsaber in my trunk by the bed. As I ran through the hall, the metal warped in towards me in the shape of the Inquisitor’s hand as he used the force to push it in just to scare me. It wouldn’t be long now before it was inside.

I made it to my bed, the screeching was so intense now that I could almost feel it on my body. I bent down to grab my lightsaber but when I stood, I felt it. The cold steel pushed through my flesh and into my skull as I was lifted into the darkness of the swamp above.


Art by Brandie Brimfield. Visit Brandie’s Etsy shop here.

“Nerra”
Submitted by Rodrigo Arellano
Medium: Short Story

As long as Numa could remember Ryloth has always been ravaged by war. First it was the Separatist occupation, a conflict Numa almost didn’t survive, and then soon after there was the imperial occupation. Inspired by the troops that saved her home in the Clone Wars, Numa decided to join Cham Syndulla’s effort against the Empire. 

Numa had been part of countless missions under General Syndulla, but that day Numa came to Cham with a mission of her own. She believed there was some valuable information stored in an old Republic base known for being one of the biggest archives in the Republic. The base had been abandoned since the empire took over, so this was supposed to be a simple mission. 

Cham wasn’t convinced and his doubts grew when Numa revealed the location of the archive.

“Are you crazy?!? We can’t go near the Coruscant system, not even one of the moons. If the base is in Centax-2 I cannot approve the mission, and that’s final.”

“But General, the contact that tipped me about the base has an Imperial shuttle and access codes for the Coruscant system. We can just fly in without being noticed. Besides, that part of the moon is almost deserted and there haven’t been any imperial sightings since they rose to power.”

“Tell me what was this “valuable” information again.”

“Some schematics for some unfinished weapons the Republic was planning on building, if we get that information, we might be able to build one of these weapons, or destroy them if the empire decides to use it against us.”

“Ok, I will approve this mission, but first I need you to answer me this question, and be honest.”

“Of course, General.”

“Is this about him?”

Numa knew this question was coming, but still, it caught her off guard. Either way she did what she planned from the beginning, she lied. 

“No, General.”

“Ok then go prepare your mission, and Numa…” 

“Yes General?”

“I trust you.”

“Thank you, Cham.” 

Considering the nature of the mission Numa formed a small team consisting of her trusted friend Gobi, an astromech named R3-D6, and herself. The first steps of the mission happen exactly as planned; the access code that Numa’s contact provided worked and the imperial shuttle was granted access to Coruscant space. When they arrived at the surface the fact that the moon was deserted was confirmed, and the team located the base without problem. 

When they arrived at the entrance, D6 got the doors open as the Twi’leks secured the perimeter and didn’t find anything. D6 gave Numa an information spike and stayed at the door to stand guard. When Numa and Gobi entered the base they were amazed at the size of the computer servers that field all of the information.

“This will take hours Numa.”

“Nonsense. Go to the console at the right and power up the servers. Then start looking for the files, and I will do the same with the console on the left”

Gobi powered up the archive and the Twi’leks started looking for the field. Half an hour later, D6 started beeping through the comms.

“What do you mean there is another Imperial shuttle approaching? Numa, I thought you said there was no imperial activity on the moon?”

“Calm down, Gobi. It’s probably just a small stormtrooper patrol that saw our shuttle enter the moon and they just want to investigate. D6, seal the door and go hide. Gobi, continue to search the schematics.”

They continued to search the information, even though they heard knocking at the door. A few minutes later, the stormtrooper squad started using a blowtorch to get in.

“Gobi, we need to hurry.”

“Wait. I think I found them! I found them!” 

“Great. Here is the spike, start downloading the information. I still need to find something.”

“What?”

“Just download the information and when you finish that, start guarding the door. They are almost in.”

With some doubt, Gobi did what he was told. At the end of the day this was Numa’s mission. Numa continued to search when the stormtroopers finally got in. As soon as the squad saw the Twi’leks they started shooting and Gobi did the best to cover Numa.

“By the glory of Ryloth. I found it; I found his field.” 

“Numa, less celebration, more shooting.”

Numa took the spike, downloaded the field, and quickly started shooting the squad. After a bit of a skirmish, the Twi’leks defeated the stormtroopers and ran to the shuttle. Once inside they found R3-D6 starting the motors. When everything was ready the ship left the moon and entered hyperspace. When the team arrived home, Numa inserted the spike into the computer and after reading the file she dropped to her knees and started crying.

“Numa, what’s wrong?”

“He is dead, Gobi! He died in Umbara; shot by one of his own brothers.”

“What are you talking about? Who died?”

“Waxer! One of the clones who saved me during the Separatist occupation. I thought maybe, if he was alive, I could save him from the Empire. But he is dead and I will never see him again…”

“I’m… I’m sorry, Numa.”

The shuttle arrived at Ryloth and D6 landed it on the camp of the Ryloth freedom movement. When the team got off the ship Numa went directly into her tent and Gobi went to brief Syndulla. After some time, Cham entered Numa’s tent.

“I heard about the clone.” 

“His name was Waxer.”

“Sorry, Waxer. Look, I know how it feels to lose those important to you… My son died when he was really young, and Hera left just after her mother died… the point is that we can not let our losses bring us down. We need to gather the best of them and keep going.”

“He saved me, Cham. He is one of the reasons I fight with you now… You know he had a drawing of me in his helmet when he died? We just met once, but he was like a brother.”

“I know, Numa. But he is only dead if you think of him as dead. His spirit lives in you. It gives you the strength to fight, to go on, to be strong.” 

“Thanks, Cham. Really.”

“I just have one question. Didn’t he have a partner?” 

“Yes, Boil. I couldn’t find his file. We didn’t have the time.”

“Well then, we will go back. If he is alive, we will rescue him… if he is dead, we will honor him. We will honor both of them.”

Numa smiled and gave Cham a hug.

“Well then General, let’s get ready.”

Categories
Episodes

Star Wars: Rogue One

Rebellions are built on hope.

Fitting that the end of our Star Wars month is about the story that sparked the fire that freed the Galaxy from the Empire. Tim Daniel joins Dan to talk about their favorite Star Wars film, Rogue One. We talk far too long about Saw Gerrera, the themes of the film, and what makes it stand out amongst giants.

Subscribe now or listen below!

Star Wars: Rogue One GateCrashers

Rebellions are built on hope. Fitting that the end of our Star Wars month is about the story that sparked the fire that freed the Galaxy from the Empire. Tim Daniel joins Dan to talk about their favorite Star Wars film, Rogue One. We talk far too long about Saw Gerrera, the themes of the film, and what makes it stand out amongst giants.
  1. Star Wars: Rogue One
  2. Star Wars: The Sequel Trilogy
  3. Star Wars: The Original Trilogy
  4. Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy
  5. Interview with George Motz
Categories
Comics

BoomCrashers! Tales (Boom! Studios Releases for 07/28/2021)

Good Luck

Martin opened his eyes on a park bench. Standing up, he looked around. It wasn’t the diner where he had fallen asleep; that was near a forest. He was in the middle of what appeared to be a small town. Something was wrong, though, and it took him a few seconds to put his finger on it.

Martin: No people…

Pulling out his notebook, he flipped to a new page and began to write.

Martin’s notebook: I’m in what looks like a midwestern American town. Maybe Kansas. But it’s empty, and I have the dreadful feeling that something’s gone wrong here. Or is about to go wrong. Or maybe even both. At least I’m away from that diner, but I can’t help but feel that I’ve just landed myself in a situation that could be just as bad.

Hearing a noise, Martin spun around to see four children slowly making their way down the street, wearing strange suits that covered their bodies. Martin hid behind a pillar as he continued to take notes.

Martin’s notebook: There are some kids here, in what look like spacesuits. Should I have one? It seems like I’ve been sent here without one, so it’ll have to do. And I seem to be breathing fine, in any case. One of the kids is throwing a rock at stuff for… some reason. I should get closer to try and hear what they’re saying. Maybe it’ll help me figure out exactly why I’m here.

Good Luck #2 (Written by Matthew Erman, illustrated by Stefano Simeone, and lettered by Mike Fiorentino) / Source: Boom! Studios

He tried to edge himself closer to the children, staying close to the side of a nearby building to avoid getting spotted. As he did, though, he paused; one of them was walking in his direction. Backtracking, Martin wrote furiously.

Martin’s notebook: I think one of them might have noticed me. I’m going to pull back and see what happens.

As he slipped away, he noticed a figure in the lot across from where he had woken up. He hadn’t noticed the figure when he had first arrived, but now he could see there was a child there who looked nearly identical to the one who had gone away from the rest of the group.

Martin’s notebook: He’s found what looks to be his doppelganger, but it’s surrounded by this red glow. I don’t think it’s-

Looking up from his writing to check the scene, Martin noticed a giant form looming above the doppelganger. It was taller than the buildings surrounding them, taking the form of a bald person in a black outfit.

Martin’s notebook: There’s some figure controlling the doppelganger, and they’ve captured the kid, just picking him straight up off the ground! There’s this red energy coming off of the two of them, I don’t know how to describe it, but it feels… like some sort of jinx. I’m just glad I’m not caught up in the centre of it. The giant’s staring at the kid intensely… but she’s thrown him down now, right through the pavement! That must hurt.

Good Luck #2 (Written by Matthew Erman, illustrated by Stefano Simeone, and lettered by Mike Fiorentino) / Source: Boom! Studios

A burst of light, seemingly from near the epicentre of the red energy, lanced out and started heading directly towards Martin. Glancing back, he knew that he couldn’t let it reach him. There was a reason the kids were wearing protective suits, after all. Getting up, he started to run, jostling to write as he did.

Martin’s notebook: The kids’ friends have come to help him, I think, but I can’t see what’s happening next. I just need to go away.

Diving into an alley, he watched the light zip past him. Breathing a sigh of relief, he noticed a newspaper stand, abandoned for what looked like years, with only one newspaper left. Picking it up, Martin shook the dust on it and read the headline:

“Stay on the move. Don’t let them catch you.”

Shivering, he turned back to look towards the giant. Just as he did, he saw it make contact with a new golden apparition that had appeared, blowing him backward. He fell back against the ground, knocking him out.

Something Is Killing The Children

There are truths, and there are lies. And then, there are monsters waiting in the shadows. They wait to twist and bend reality, leaving nothing but decimation trailing behind it. She did not know who controlled the marginal space between perception and authenticity, fact and fiction. All she understood was a lack of control. She had allowed wayward circumstances to mold her destiny long before she spun out of existence. Shadow realms whispered secrets without candor. The beasts came out to play. Monsters not unlike the ravagers of unknowability rampaged in her mind as she hurtled down through the chasm past the liminal space again.

Contorting shapes disintegrated until she saw a vast white mansion. The houses’ enormity looked daunting in the forefront of a forest stretching far beyond her eye line. She watched as a red car pulled up, staking a claim on the dirt territory. Her location felt removed from urbanity. The woman sensed an unsettled atmosphere in the landscape, purporting a rural utopian exterior. A hippie-looking man sporting a black bun piled atop his head emerged from the house. Accompanied by a pack of black dogs, he approached the vehicle.

Something is Killing the Children #18 (Written by James Tynion IV, illustrated by Werther Dell’Edera, colored by Miquel Muerto, and lettered by Andworld Design) / Source: Boom! Studios

Emilia: I am so far away, but…are those dogs in the distance? Why do people own animals with all their slobber and fur matted with diseases? Why couldn’t I have landed in, I don’t know, a hospital or something? I’m tired of this outside world and unclean environment. Wait, a young girl just exited the car with a woman. Is this man friendly? He’s giving me a horrible feeling…Where’s that journal?

The beer-bellied man introduces himself to the girl, Erica, as Gary Slaughter. The trio entered his house. The woman cursed as she fumbled to write in her ever-present journal.


Emilia’s Journal: I looked away to find this damn thing, and now they’ve disappeared. I’ve crept up to the side of the house, now. Gary Slaughter’s voice pulses with authority, carrying through this cracked open window I’m peeking through. I hear him talking to Erica, the shy girl masking her emotions behind that swatch of hair covering her eye. Although, I recognize grief when I see it. She is grieving, possibly from a loss. I know loss. I relate to that feeling — wanting to retreat into yourself but knowing you must adapt to circumstances to survive. Erica’s visible eye doesn’t quite focus on Gary. I admit, he is a formidable presence. Gary sounds jovial, but now he’s talking about monsters. I’m unsure whether he means metaphorical monsters or…real ones. I’ve seen enough in my travels beyond my world now to anticipate the supernatural. For Erica’s sake, god, I hope the monsters aren’t real. The only monster I’ve seen so far is Gary. I’m making deductions through intuition, but I haven’t interacted with people in so long, I hardly know anything beyond the pages of my books. Still, I sense something sinister here.

They ate and spoke of monsters present on the premises. Words about training to fight and warfare against primordial beasts startled the woman listening outside. Daylight waned as stars began pockmarking the dust-colored sky. Erica, the adult woman, the horde of dogs, and Gary exited the house. They trudged from the looming mansion across a field of grass. Unbeknownst to them, the woman followed behind discreetly. Thoughts of shuffling dimensions and cosmic fields she has traversed suppressed her emotions. She felt connected to young Erica in ways she wished she could jettison into the darkness, swallowing their grief whole.

Emilia’s Journal: The blonde woman places a mask over Erica’s face after Gary enters a hulking red barn. I think of blood when I see it, and I feel an impetus to stop this strange ritual from occurring. But of course, I cannot intervene. I wait in monolithic silence as the woman tells Erica she has to enter the barn with Gary alone. My god…are they sacrificing this poor child? Hasn’t she been through enough? This reminds me why people frighten me. Evil courses through my own world. Evil people. Evil diseases. Cancer…and the good people, as hard as they try, can’t save everyone. No one could save my dad. And now I am alone, like poor Erica. They are sending her off to slaughter in some sadistic ceremony after terrifying her with tales of monsters. The woman tells Erica how Gary will ask Erica questions like her name and something about a totem named Octo? Is this a cult? Is Gary a monster — something about to kill this child?

Something is Killing the Children #18 (Written by James Tynion IV, illustrated by Werther Dell’Edera, colored by Miquel Muerto, and lettered by Andworld Design) / Source: Boom! Studios

Horror flirted with her premonitions of violence as Erica entered the barn. The woman gasped when visions pummeled her. Extraordinary sight allowed her to watch a man in a blue mask interrogate Erica. From afar, she recoiled. She saw everything Erica saw, experiencing the depth of Erica’s memories as if they belonged to the woman too. Erica’s family is murdered while Erica is spared. The purple octopus toy Erica clutched close to her chest in the barn protected her from death. A plush toy absorbed a black, spider-limbed monster. The womans’ body convulsed along with Erica when the monster was summoned from Octo in the lightless dark of the barn.

Emilia: Why are they doing this to a child? That’s a demon! How can she possibly survive?

A waterfall of red light gushed from Erica’s small frame. Blood rivulets flooded her nostrils, and then Erica crumpled to the ground. Gary and the masked man observed in abject consternation but stood fettered in place. Erica passed out, Octo sprawled on her chest like a shrine. The barbary ended before the womans’ trepidation nearly forced her to scream. 

Again, a distorted light flared. It sizzled into view, defecting to whatever held it back previously.

Emilia: That light! The sun! It’s come back for me. It’s not stopping!

The light oscillated and advanced upon her. Her heart galloped along with her pounding feet as she ran from her faceless pursuer. She ran across the field until her feet no longer tread on tepid grass. Losing the light, a shadowy figure suddenly uncoiled in a mass of blood and teeth. The crimson-stained canines spelled out a message: “Stay on the move. Don’t let them catch you.” Then, she felt the celestial sphere pluck her out of reality.

Blood Of The Sardaukar

Aimée was now in a room. It was the same cold room they lived in for two years before they disappeared. It gave a feeling of desensitization, with white walls turning grey, a table that shared one single chair with an unstable desk, an old kitchen. It was the same as always, except now some small things were missing, and some added. It didn’t feel great to be in that room, but it felt normal, at least.

With their eyes open, they started witnessing a series of flashing events. They saw a kid from a noble family, which was slaughtered because of a diplomatic fraud. He was captured by the killers and trained through life and death situations he had to endure for years, to become one of the Sardaukar, the empire’s army. He had to live inside a prison for two months, where his little brother died beaten up by the inmates. Then was released in a desert for years where his other brother was poisoned by a lizard. He was the last member of his exterminated family, and Aimée was his witness. They appear on these memories flashes conveniently positioned on safe places among all the destruction and tragedy, as if it was premeditated.

Dune: Blood of the Sardaukar #1 (Written by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson, illustrated by Adam Gorham, colored by Patricio Delpeche, and lettered by Ed Dukeshire) / Source: Boom! Studios

Aimée’s Journal: What kind of hell is this? They just tortured that kid. This is all so fucked up. This is not like the other places I’ve been in. I have to be extra careful here; it feels like everyone would kill me on sight.

Before Aimée could adjust to the place, they appeared on a giant corridor, supported by imposing columns where they could hide behind. A conversation could be overhead flowing through the air. The tone that bordered on whispers functioned as a seal that let them know it was a pressing matter. It was a duke and his bodyguard talking about the ramifications that the duke’s actions could have. He freed a territory that the empire took over, administered before by the Kolona family. Aimée’s mind took a moment to process that information, as they were simultaneously trying to hide as well as possible, but soon it clicked; Kolona was the kid’s surname.

Aimée’s journal: Is it possible that the kid might get his family’s position again? I mean, the duke said he was giving it to the extended family, but he can step up. Would he want to? After seeing what that system’s capable of, maybe he wouldn’t even dream about it.

In less than a heartbeats time, the sound of explosions entered Aimée’s eardrums as a nail enters a piece of wood. Then screamings followed. Everyone started to panic, and the corridor was rapidly full of people running, that didn’t bother to think twice about Aimée’s presence. After running to a balcony, they saw what was happening: they were being attacked. If they were to trust the people running through the corridors, some faction called the Harkonnen was behind the attack. They had no reason to think otherwise, especially because they were foreign to this world and its divisions.

Aimée’s journal: They’re killing everyone! This seemed like a peaceful place. It’s part of the empire! How is it suddenly being attacked? Who are these Harkonnen they keep mentioning?

Things became clearer when they distinguished someone running on the roof that was just in the front. It was the kid, or who was a kid, and now a man. He was one of the attackers. This made Aimée understand the Sardaukar were sent by the empire to stop the duke, disguised as Harkonnen, to avoid connections.

Dune: Blood of the Sardaukar #1 (Written by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson, illustrated by Adam Gorham, colored by Patricio Delpeche, and lettered by Ed Dukeshire) / Source: Boom! Studios

Aimée’s journal: He’s about to fire a missile to a spaceship! That must be where the duke is. Why would they bother then? Oh my god, he just missed! The duke may survive. Maybe he missed on purpose?

Still, with the diary and pen in hand, they saw a light beam floating in space, just like the one they saw before. This time it was close and visible enough to make sure they weren’t just seeing things. They couldn’t even focus on it when it started floating threateningly against them. Almost dropping the diary, they started running down the nearest stairs. There was no time to look back, and it was already hard to avoid all the murderers present in the place. The screams, blood jumping out of stabbed bodies, and the deafening explosions almost made them just throw themselves against the floor and cry for help. They jumped a wall, went into two alleys, and hid behind a spaceship before they finally looked back to realize the light was gone. At Aimée’s side was a corpse; it had been stabbed with such strength that its guts were visible. But that’s not what caught their attention. There was the blood coming out of it slowly formed words before them: Stay on the move. Don’t let them catch you.

Aimée’s journal: I’ll have to think about what I just saw another day. I’m tired to even do that, and the sooner I get out of this fucking place, the better I’ll be.

Categories
Comics

GC616 News (Marvel Comics Releases for 07/21/2021)

The GC616 logo flashes across the screen (this time as an actual graphic, albeit a low-quality one) as the lights come up in the GC616 studio, now a conference room that is somewhat larger than the utility closet that we’ve seen over the past two weeks.

Reagan sits at a large conference table as opposed to the folding table she’s been sitting at for the past two editions.

Reagan: Good evening and welcome to GC616 News, our top story tonight comes to us from The Peak, S.W.O.R.D.’s orbital base via our correspondent Journo. But first, a correction from our Hellfire Gala special.

Reagan clears her throat before continuing.

New Mutants #20 / Art by Alex Lins, Colours by Matt Milla, Written by Vita Ayala, Lettering by VC’s Travis Lanham

Reagan: During the Hellfire Gala, it was reported that Gabby Kinney, also known as Scout and formerly known as Honey Badger had been killed during the event. Based on new information from our sources, it seems that Gabby is in fact, “totally fine” and “has never been better actually. We apologize for the misinformation.

Reagan clears her throat once again before moving on to the next segment.

Reagan: With that sorted we now take you live to our “Special Cosmic Correspondent”. Yes, that’s what he wanted to be known as. (whispering) I wish Dan had left me to do all the hiring…

The camera cuts to a view of space. The stars are sparkling like diamonds. A low, metallic hum can be heard. As the camera focuses, it becomes clear the view is slightly distorted, as if being viewed through a window. The camera spins around, at first revealing a long, gradually curving corridor, the window with that incredible view spreads down the corridor. Some figures can be seen walking in the background, though they are too far away to make out who they could possibly be.

As the camera comes to a stop it reveals what at first looks like a supply closet, but has in fact been turned into an information hub. Monitors cover every inch of the walls, information sprawls across them. At the back of the supply closet is a desk, empty takeaway coffee cups are scattered across it. A figure is sitting on a “gamer chair” at the desk. He swivels around, revealing a face familiar to viewers of the Hellfire Gala Special Report; Journo, Agent of S.W.O.R.D. He’s wearing one of those fancy S.W.O.R.D jackets with teal-blue livery symbolic of the diplomatic team.

Guardians of the Galaxy #16 / Art by Juan Frigeri, Colour by Fredrick Blee, Written by Al Ewing, Lettering by VC’s Cory Petit

Journo: Hey there you lovely GC616 viewers! I’m Journo, and let me be the first to welcome you… to The Peak. Yes indeed, I’m broadcasting to you live from S.W.O.R.D Station 1, orbiting in a geo-synchronus orbit above Krakoa. 

So, I bet you have some questions. First, am I a mutant? That I am. What’s my mutant power? Well, I have a couple, but the one you’ll see me use is my ability to correlate and take in numerous streams of information at the same time (very helpful for news reporting). What’s my job as an Agent of S.W.O.R.D? Well as you can see from the sharp livery on my jacket, I’m a member of the diplomatic team reporting directly to Ambassador Extraordinary Frenzy. She’s the best boss.

But that’s enough about me, let me show you around my base of operations!

Journo begins pointing to various monitors. He sweeps the empty coffee cups into what at first seems to be a trash can, but when looked at closely, reveals some plant-like specimen that is dissolving the empty cups into nothing.

Journo: From this here location, I get reports on everything that happens across the Galaxy. Not only do I have prime access to the S.W.O.R.D information feeds thanks to Wiz-Kid, but I’ve got monitoring stations set up in Alpha Flight on Earth (whatever’s left of them that is), Port Prometheus on Planet Arrako, Throneworld II. Hell, I’ve got a direct line with Super-Skrull and the Guardians of the Galaxy on the Proscenium…

As Journo is talking, multiple monitors start flashing red. A look of panic comes across his face as he takes the various streams of information in.

Journo: No, no, no, no, no, no, this is bad. I’ve got reports of attacks? Invasions? I don’t… This has to be coordinated. Someone’s attacked Throneworld II, Spartax, Hala, Aerie, even Skrullos! Port Prometheus just reported Nova doing his human rocket shtick and jetting off at invaluable speeds. I’ve lost contact with the team of Guardians who were monitoring Ego. The last transmission we got is garbled but I can make out one word…

Dormammu

This is worse than I thought. I need to find Frenzy. Now. Um, back to you Reagan! Speak soon, I hope.

As Journo takes off running, more alerts start appearing on the monitors in his supply closet. Just as the camera cuts, alarm klaxons can be heard sounding off across The Peak.

Reagan: Oh I hope everything is ok. Dormammu is a very big deal. Let’s hope we hear back from Journo soon. Now on to Jordan with some Asgard-related news.

The feed turns to a strange place. A place of fairies and of magic. This is Alfheim, the home of the light elves and one of the ten realms. We see Jordan standing in a field, dressed head to toe in mystic garb, an ancient manuscript held at his side. 

Jordan: Greetings viewers. It is I Jordan, GC616s mystic expert and associates of the Sorcerer Supreme. Today I take leave of my usual location at the Sanctum Sanctorum. I do as such as I have been requested to make an appearance here at Alfheim. Lady Featherwine has graciously invited the heroes of Asgard and the ten realms, in celebration of the anniversary of our victory in the War of the Realms. 

Thor Annual #1 / Written, Pencilled, and Inked by Aaron Kader, Inked by Cam Smith, Coloured by Chris O’Halloran, Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabio

Jordan: This such an occasion has brought many of the realms greatest heroes here today. Those representing Asgard count the Warriors Three, Lady Lif and the troublesome mutt Thori. Of course the Allfather Thor arrived with them summoning the League of Realms and Hawkeye, who takes the place of Spider-Man, Black Panther, Punisher… Quite frankly I am unsure of how many of Midgards champions declined the invitation. 

Regardless the festivities ended abruptly as the heroes of the ten realms were interrupted quite rudely by…

A fairy buzzes around Jordan’s head incessantly. 

Jordan: Agh! Get off. I’m sorry dear viewers this particular fairy has proved persistent in her annoyance. Hold on but a moment. By the Mists of Munnopor leave me be! There. Oh not to worry I have merely impeded her temporarily, she shall be fine. Now where was I? 

Ah yes. The festivities were interrupted by a creature named Valg. Valg tossed Thor around a bit, showing him a past he hadn’t lived apparently. Valg called himself an “ant,” a scout of things to come. He summoned forth an alternate version of the God of Thunder. One who served the God of Death, Hela. Of course thanks to Thor and the heroes of Midgard and the other realms , this villain was defeated and forced to flee. The alternate Thor was sent somewhere unknown to me, but I would hope that he would not return. The battle seems to be at an end now and Thor and his fellow heroes are currently enjoying the spoils of good mead and a belly full of food. Although I can see now that Thor is wrestling some sort of large winged cat. The purpose of such an action eludes me. Regardless, things seem to have calmed down here, but there remains an ominous threat I am sure of it. I shall have to report this to Stepehn on my return home. Farewell and may the Vishanti protect you.

The feed cuts back to the studio.

Reagan: Thanks Jordan! Now on to Bobby with some news on Reptil.

The camera shifts around the Earth before showing a portal. The camera moves closer to the portal and is sucked in. And then we see two youngsters, Eva and Julian, the enigmatic Hag of the Pits, and last but not least, a group of dinosaurs. Then the camera turns to Bobby Varghese Vinu, one of the new reporters for GateCrashers’ 616 Division. He’s holding a microphone, reporting on the events at head.

Bobby: Hello to my fellow GateCrashers and fellow viewers! I was on this island to check up on the rumours of possible sightings of the infamous Kraven the Hunter. And while that turned out to not be the case, it does look like we got an active incident here!

One of the dinosaurs roars and runs towards the two kids. Eva looks to be creating what appears to be a portal.

Bobby: Hey Flev, can we get a closer look?

Flev hesitates. He’s a young cameraman and he’s just graduated high school. And it’s his first assignment. He starts sweating.

Flev: Sir, are you sure? We’d be getting closer to the dinosaur you know.

Bobby: Oh c’mon Flev. We got this. You’ll be safe. Just stay behind me.  

Flev: O-o-okay then.

The two of them move closer and they take note of what’s going on. They see other dinosaurs as well.

Bobby: To be fair, folks, this is Dinosaur Island so this is not out of the ordinary! Though they all look the same. I am assuming they’re T-Rexes and—wait a second. Flev, can you move the camera to that one dinosaur? The one with the bright colors.

Flev focuses the camera on Reptil and the other dinosaurs.

Bobby: Hold up! That’s not just a dinosaur. That’s Reptil, the kid who can transform into different species of dinosaurs! What is he doing here?

Surprised, Bobby clears his throat and begins speaking.

Bobby: Here’s a briefing on Reptil: Humberto Lopez was a part of Avengers Academy, an initiative to help bring forth a newer generation of superheroes. But I haven’t heard from him since! And now he’s on Dinosaur Island. Let me see if I can interview him.

Bobby comes face-to-face with the Hag of the Pits.

Hag: Halt! What are you two doing here?

Flev: Uh, we’re doing a repo–

Bobby: Shush Flev! We got stuck here somehow through some time travel shenanigans you know. Uh, we want to help you! Can we? Please?

Hag: No. This is too dangerous.

Bobby: Now just you listen here—

And in an instant, Bobby and Flev find themselves in a street. Bobby looks to Flev.

Bobby: Well…that was embarrassing.  

Back to the studio with Reagan.

Reagan: Thanks again Bobby, hope that time travel jam isn’t too hard to get unstuck from! Now to Justin Partrdge III with some news on Gamma Flight

The monitors behind Reagan produce an image of 8th St. Austin, TX in chaos. Cars overturned. Asphalt pulped across the sidewalk. Texas-style chili pots overturned and spilling in a deep, unsettling red. The “camera” whip-pans around to show Justin Partridge III. Clad in a suit that looks suspiciously like the Eleventh Doctor’s jacket, trousers, and braces (with a perfectly shaped Stetson hat and a PRESS card jammed into its band), topped off with a comically large “VOTE HOWARD! / DOWN WITH LYIN’ LAUFEYSON!” Campaign button on the right lapel of the jacket. 

He is obviously filming this himself on his phone. 

JPIII: YES, HELLO, Citizens and thank you, Reagan! As you can see I am here on location in Austin, where we have unconfirmed reports that the newly reformed Gamma Flight are engaging a number of new Gamma mutates. INCLUDING, and this is unconfirmed at the moment, but witnesses claim to have spotted Skaar, Son of Hulk locked in desperate struggle with former villains and new Gamma Flight recruits The Absorbing Man and Titania! I am going to try and get closer for a better look. 

As he speaks, he steps gingerly through the carnage, stopping only to carefully lens the varying degrees of destruction that litter the street. Heavy smoke and the sounds of…explosive blows landing dominates the foreground. In the background we hear an eerie cacophony of screams, roars, and Justin’s increasingly panicked breathing. The “camera” finds his face again. 

Gamma Flight #2 (of 5) / Art by Lan Medina, Colours by Antonio Fabela, Written by Al Ewing and Crystal Frasier, Lettering by VC’s Joe Sabino

JPIII: I haven’t been on scene long, Reagan, but the air here is…obviously heavy and the mood frightening. Though I have yet to SEE any members of Gamma Flight just yet, the telltale shedding of the new “Doc Sasquatch” is unmistakable, as you can see here across the sidewalks. 

He shows heavy trails of thick, green hair wafting through the air and across the sidewalk. The “camera” again finds us. 

JPIII: I’ve also been told by officers on scene that the Austin PD have made requests to both the local National Guard and Texas S.H.I.E.L.D. Field Office in an attempt to try and support, or more likely, DETAIN Gamma Flight. No word yet on if Flight head Henry Peter Gy-

Titania: HEADS UP, GEEK!

Justin has no time to react as a full parking meter connects heavily with his face, exploding quarters and iron across the frame and spinning the phone out of his hands. Oddly enough, it lands in such a way that it frames Justin’s supine, coin covered body perfectly in the left of the frame. Titana’s godless-like legs step methodically into the picture as she looks down curiously at Justin’s still still form. 

Titania: Are you, uhhhh, alive?

Justin raises a hand meekly. 

JPIII: mmmmmmarryyy macpherrannnnn yer my faaaaavorite wrrressstler yew should wrestlllereee Aja Koooongghh. 

She bends down and plucks up $2s worth of quarters, picking them off his chest and placing them in her boots. 

Titania: Yer a sweetie, but I gotta go punch Banner’s bastard kid again. You just…stay there. 

She LEAPS majestically back to the battle as Justin raises himself to a sitting position. A gnarly gash is on Justin’s head. But, funny enough, it doesn’t seem to be bleeding? Something under the wound catches the sun momentarily and glints quickly into the camera lens. 

Something…metal? 

Justin grins widely into the still downed phone. 


JPIII: I’m Justin Partridge III. Good luck, and have a pleasant tomorrow, Fleshies…erm, I mean CITIZENS.

Back in the studio, Reagan looks significantly weirded out.

Reagan: Anyways, now on to

She checks the paper in front of her.

Reagan: Oh god… Chad.

The electronic beats start as the Checkin’ In With Chad sizzle reel begins. A highlight from this weeks video is God Emperor Doom holding Thanos’ skull and spine high in the air with one hand as he pours a forty of malt liquor into the hallowed skull as Chad is on a knee using the Mad Titan’s bones as a funnel. When the reel ends, Chad stands on a corner in NYC with large sunglasses on and his college lacrosse pinny on.

Chad: Bro I am so pissed right now.

Chad is clearly speaking to the camera man as he stumbles into a bodega.

Chad: Kanye said Donda would be out this week and dude lied again. After that shit he pulled last year when he released THOR IS KING? Losing faith in Ye. Oh shit sorry we are on air. I am a little hungover or maybe still drunk so I needed my baconeggcheese. I was out last night with these absolute BABES dude. They were vampires but that’s cool, I got to make so many sucky jokes. UP TOP!

The cameraman does not return the high five.

Chad: Although they did keep trying to recruit me for some scheme and calling me a boss babe. I don’t know if I loved that but their friends got attacked by that Moon Knight guy later in the night. Actually, thinking about it now, Moon Knight has been around the neighborhood a lot recently. Opened up this joint called his “Moon Mission” where he helps people. Honestly pretty sick of him helping people out. Always nice when there are heroes helping out the little people and taking down MLMs

Moon Knight #1 / Art by Alessandro Cappuccio, Coloured by Rachelle Rosenberg, Written by Jed MacKay, Lettering by VC’s Cory Petit

Chad: I have only met the dude once at this monster bar I sometimes pre-game at. It may be a biker bar, I don’t even know. But Frank, the bouncer, is a real braggart about having the arm of a world famous arm wrestler. But this absolute CHAD, that’s what I call people who kick as much ass as me, Moon Knight walks in like a big shot and takes the title. Also heard he peels off people’s faces like fruit roll ups which is gnarly. Anyway, see you next week nerds.

Back in the studio Reagan is mid-eyeroll.

Reagan: Ugh. Chad.

She shudders before putting her professional persona back on.

Reagan: Our final story of the evening comes from Brason. Brason?

We see Brason where we last saw him still outside of Alchemax. Sweating as he clearly just ran out of the entrance about to explain what he just saw. 

Brason: SO, three very big updates on the Andrea Benton situation. 1. She was not taken into custody, Alchemax still had her the entire time. 2. She has been attacked! By who? 3. CARNAGE. Sort of, it looked a bit like Carnage combined with another symbiote, but this could prove he was here last night. Also, Flash Thompson tried saving Andi but it seemed too late. I had to get out of there. Every guard is panicking, I have no witnesses to discuss with. 

Extreme Carnage: Phage #1 / Pencilled by Gerardo Sandoval, Inked by Victor Nava, Coloured by Chris Sotomayor, Written by Steve Orlando, Lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham

Right then, Doctor Steven exits out the front panicking. 

Brason: He will definitely know what’s up. What is happening inside there?

Steven: *sighs* I gave the go to work on Andi and tried to reunite her with Scream in some capacity. We have no idea why Phage, mixed with a bit of Carnage, showed up and did not factor in her past with Flash Thompson. This was my mistake. 

Brason: Wow, the first one to take any sign of responsibility in this situation. Are any heroes or authorities on the way to stop these symbiotes?

Steven: The alarm was set, authorities should be on their way. I’ll have to stay for further questioning I bet. Nervously face palms

Brason: For your sake, I hope that goes well, but someone higher up at Alchemax also needs to pay. Folks, again, stay safe out there.

One last time, the camera cuts back to the studio.

Reagan: Thanks Brason! And than you to you, the viewers for tuning in for another edition of GC616 News. We’ll see you again next week, same time as always.

The screen cuts to the GC616 logo as the broadcast ends.

Categories
Comics

GC52 News (DC Comics Releases for 07/20/2021)

(Spoilers for DC Comics released 07/20/2021)

If you missed last week’s report, check it out here.

(Words in italics signal actions)

The GC52 Logo appears on televisions, computers, and all other types of viewing devices at its normally scheduled time. Lead Anchor Dan McMahon sits at the center of the newsroom behind his desk. This week he’s wearing a powdered blue button-upoutlined by the large window behind him looking out over Metropolis. The Daily Planet globe is visible behind him as the setting sun sparkles off the crown jewel of the City of Tomorrow. The GC52 theme music begins to dim as the actual program begins.

Dan: Good Morning, Good Afternoon, and Good Evening to all our wonderful viewers from the docks of Coast City to the furthest reaches of Oa, you are watching the multiverse’s best news show that brings you the news that you need to know! As always, I’m your host, Dan McMahon, doing my part to bring you up to the minute updates on the worlds you live in! To start us off tonight, lets check in with our friends at the Hall of Justice!

The camera cuts to show Kevin’s face extremely close; it is tilted upwards so that only the sky can be seen behind him. It is shaking heavily. Kevin is sweating profusely and talking extremely fast.

Kevin: Hi Dan! Nothing to report here, everything is fine.

Dan’s voice is heard, though the camera remains on Kevin, who suddenly winces at what sounds very much like an explosion.

Dan: Uh, nothing…. To report?

Kevin: Nope, nothing. Back to you in the studio!

Dan: Because we heard there was a situation at the Hall of Justice?

Kevin: Hmm? A situation? Nope, nope, everything’s fine.

Dan: Really. Fine. There wasn’t an attack by an alien named Synmar? Who recently attacked the United Planets, and has a noted mad-on for Superman?

More muffled explosions; there is a flare of light in the corner of the screen and the camera takes a particularly big bounce. Kevin swallows.

Kevin: OH that situation. Um, yes, uh, I suppose that is correct. In fact, it does seem that the entire Justice League mobilized to battle this alien attacker outside the Hall. That did happen.

Dan: And….. did they win?

Kevin: Hmm?

Dan: ….did the Justice League win?

Kevin: Oh! Uh…. Probably? Let’s say yes, let’s say they definitely won and that is –

The camera bounces again, and falls; we suddenly see that it has been propped up with Kevin in the back of an open-topped car that is driving rapidly away from the Hall of Justice, which remains surrounded by explosions and distant fighting super-people.

Dan: ….Kevin, as our intrepid Justice League reporter, I’m sure you’re not currently fleeing the scene of a major battle in order to save your own skin. Because –

Kevin: Listen, I never asked for this be – uh, I mean, of course not! In fact, I just heard a tip that Deathstroke the Terminator was seen out in the outskirts of the city, where Green Arrow and Black Canary are believed to have gone, and I decided to investigate. Personally. And immediately.  

Dan: You decided to leave a Justice League battle in progress to investigate an unconfirmed villain sighting on the outskirts of Washington DC?

Kevin: (Very quietly) I never said it was the outskirts of DC.

Dan: Wait but… you’re in DC now…. Which city were you planning to go to  –

Kevin: (Even more quietly, looking sideways) …..Coast City.

Dan: COAST CI-

Before either of them can say anything more, there is a massive explosion at the Hall of Justice in the background, lighting up the entire horizon, as Synmar rips through the front of the building. The shockwave booms out, and as Kevin yells, the camera tumbles through the air and cuts to black.

Dan: We may need to look into a new Justice League correspondent, let’s pop over to see what’s going on in Katie’s neck of the woods.

The camera cuts to Katie, standing in front of an imploded pile of mud on the ground. A singular blood streak paints the ground red, ending at the dock’s edge behind her. She appears perturbed. Avoiding the residual gore, she moves toward her beloved black cat, Felicia, as the feline bounds toward Katie. 

Katie: I’m here at the Gotham Docks, where more than a catfight has occurred. After three consecutive days of protests in Alleytown, a GCPD standoff with the protestors, explosions, fires, and Mayor Nakano’s iron grip on the city of Alleytown, I’m not surprised to find more signs of carnage today. 

She sighs, the weight of grief evident by her demeanor. Felicia rubs up against Katie’s legs and purrs sweetly.

Katie: Who needs people when you have cats? You don’t cause any trouble, Felicia. 

Bending down Katie hugs the cat. Felicia nuzzles her face with affection. A coughing sound interrupts, alerting Katie that she better get back to the report, or she’s in the doghouse.

Katie: Speaking of cats, Alleytown’s local heroine Catwoman was spotted pouncing across rooftops last night. We know Catwoman has been working with Alleytown’s youth to better the city, but I have newly leaked information about some additional allies in her struggle against Nakano’s attempts to shut down communication. 

Here’s a riddle: I often wear a skintight catsuit, but I am not Catwoman. Who am I? The answer: Why, the Riddler, of course! We should have a “Who Wore It Better Poll”, between Catwoman and the Riddler on the GC52 site…Riddler, formerly known as a Catwoman ally, apparently recruited more vivacious villains to their cause. And unfortunately, what you see before me in this oozing pile of brown…can only be the remains of the captain of clay, Clayface. 

Her face crumples up in slight revulsion as she catches a scent of charred clay.

Katie: Sources tell me that Catwoman, Clayface, Croc, Knockout, Firefly, and Cheshire teamed up with Catwoman and her network of kids in Alleytown. What happened to poor Clayface here remains a mystery. Word on the streets indicates the infamous new creep, Father Valley, as the culprit. Valley is also implicated in the recent St. Thomas Church explosion. The preaching predator better pray he doesn’t get caught, because he needs to be locked up in Arkham Asylum ASAP. 

As for this trail of blood, DNA testers identified it as…Catwoman’s. A fight with Father Valley must have ensued because I don’t know anyone else that could draw blood from the fleet-footed feline. Catwoman is currently MIA, but Felicia here can track her down…

Katie looks down at Felicia hopefully. Felicia sniffs the edge of the dock.

Katie: Cats always land on their feet, right? I’m sure Catwoman is fine…although, it would be an ideal time for a certain Batman to emerge from his cave now… That’s all for today. Stay safe, and cuddle a cat.

The camera cuts back to Dan in the studio.

Dan: Wearing all leather in July cannot be fun right? I would need to cover myself in baby powder so I didn’t cha- sorry. It sounds like we have an incoming report from Mr. Tubes?

The camera switches to drone footage as we’re back on Mr. Tubes’ mech scaling the side of a building. A building where one Mayor Melinda Zucco resides. After witnessing Nightwing enter, Mr. Tubes knew there was a scoop! But once he ends close enough to peek into a window it appears Nightwing has left and Dick Grayson has arrived. Being unable to hear exactly the conversation between Grayson and Zucco, our furry friend grabs his piece of graphite and a sticky note. He climbs out of his mech only to jump right back in only to reappear with goggles which he then turns and the feed switches from the drone to Mr. Tubes’ own recording feed! It’s time for him to get the scoop. 

He skitters closer to the pair as a door opens and an older woman appears to greet Dick. Mr. Tubes begins to write down: Zucco- Mother know Dick. Tony Zucco- Kill Graysons. Melinda = Grayson Sister. 

Before the trio notices, Tubes hears a large group coming down the hall. He slips under the door for a peak to see Blockbuster and his goon squad approaching the door. 

Mr. Tubes: In Ferretish: Oh shit! 

He then skitters back across Zucco’s home to his mech which is perched on the side of the building. Before he climbs back in he notices a dorky caterpillar climbing slowly up the side of the building. Thinking nothing of it he crawls in and takes his goggles off. Once the camera feed reverts to the drone it notices the caterpillar has a small radio around its neck. This caterpillar is no caterpillar, but the evil Mr. Mind, who wants his mech back! But Tubes doesn’t know any of this so he just lets go of the wall, falling back to the street, which now has a crater in it! 

Mr. Tubes: Typing on his keyboard for the mech to say: Back to you Dan!

Dan doesn’t even seem phased by the mech-ferret at this point.

Dan: Well, things sound like they’re going uh, well, for Nightwing. Let’s pop in to check on the latest from Titans Academy!

A small person with a mustache and a baseball cap appears on the screen, there’s a certain familiarity to some of their facial features. 

Bree: This is Br-…ian, reporting from the base of Titans tower. I’m definitely a new reporter, NOT a long-time staff member with a restraining order from a Titan. Ahem- Speaking of Titans, there has been quite the flurry of activity on the tower grounds today!

Bree/Brian: The most interesting of which is that Shazam has revealed himself to be amongst the Titans! And…having a difficult time controlling his powers. A recurring theme here. However, the older Titans seem to be particularly on edge about that today. I wonder if their anxiety has anything to do with the presence of an unusual guest I spotted covertly entering campus earlier. A certain someone that has an affinity for sweeping capes and a gold helmet. 

The reporter pauses to look over their shoulder before continuing in a lower tone.

Bree/Brian: I also saw something quite…otherworldly, Mrs. Raven’s star pupil opened a portal with another male student. A LOT of magic is happening in that tower. I’m not sure if I have a good feeling about it. Oh! I could partially hear the two boys talking to each other- from below their open dorm window- their names are Dane and Billy. Billy was going on about some rescue mission for a…rock of eternity? Seemed like a lot of trouble, even for a magical rock. 

Brian adjusts their mustache as it seems to curl off their face at the bottom for a second.

Bree/Brian: A-Anyways, that’s all I have at the moment. This place always seems to leave me with more questions than answers, perhaps I’ll have juicer scoops for the folks at home next week. Back to you Dan!

With that, the camera returns to Dan in the studio.

Dan: Breaking news coming out of Central City, we take you there now live!

The camera shows Brandon standing in front of a hospital currently engulfed in flames. Central City’s best firefighters are already on the case, and a series of crimson and gold streaks can be seen behind him. Brandon is wearing some business casual that looks rather new, though he is still wearing the somewhat ragged bow tie he was last seen in.

Brandon: Dan! Good to see a familiar face. I stand in front of one of the worst fires Central City has seen in some time. Luckily, The Flash formerly known as Kid Flash is in action, and he’s currently getting everyone free from danger.

The Flash zips by, leaving another civilian next to Brandon. She looks like she’s been stuck in a wind tunnel testing out a new way of making BBQ ribs.

Brandon: Speak of the devil! Ma’am, do you know who caused thi- never mind, dumb question. If it’s Central City, it’s Heatwave.

Civilian: Of course it’s Heatwave. He walked right by me, asking everyone to stay out of his way. He has something planned for The Flash, and I don’t think he cares which one.

Brandon: A Rogue with a grudge? That can’t be good. 

Brandon holds a hand to his ear.

Brandon: I’m also receiving reports that this Flash was seen jetting out of Terrifitech seconds before arriving on the scene. Was the Kid looking for a job with one of his fellow heroes? He’s back for the first time in what feels like years, and Mr. Terriffic doesn’t always run in the same circles as the Flashes. Aside from the elder Flash, anyhow.

There’s a pause as Brandon looks at the civilian to his left.

Brandon: You guys have the older Flash with the winged helmet too, right? I’d hate to get this stuff wrong.

Realizing he’s still on-air, Brandon turns back as a massive explosion of flame rips out of the hospital’s roof.

Brandon: Looks like things are heating up! I’ll keep you updated on what happens next.

Thinking the camera is off, Brandon facepalms.

Brandon: Oh god, I actually used a pun without realizing it. Kill me now.

Dan sits at his desk trying to keep a straight face. 

Dan: Tragic about the fire, hope things start to cool down. It actually seems as if our Lantern correspondent is on Earth for this week’s report. Let’s check in!

The camera cuts to Thomas standing on a high-rise balcony overlooking an alien spaceship firing beams above New York City.

Thomas: Hello Dan, I’m here in New York City and not Metropolis, covering a highly unprecedented alien assault on a major American city. Sources indicate that several members of the Justice League have been captured, but a Green Lantern or two may turn up any minute to turn the tide. Oh, look at that! Zoom in on that!

The camera zooms in on a shiny, gold-colored superhero flying up to attack the alien craft, deflecting fireballs and firing beams upward at it from his wrists.

Thomas: Is that Gold Lantern from the 31st century? All right, Earth’s got this on lock! Wait… what’s that drone zipping around him? Goldie just landed a great shot on the alien ship! That must have disabled their communications. Time to break in and free the Justice League, right on time! It looks like a dependable, steadfast hero has made all the difference today–

Thomas touches his earpiece

Thomas: What’s that? Hold up the newest trending video to the camera? Um okay, we’ve got some breaking news folks, let’s take a look.

Thomas holds his phone up to the camera and plays a message from Booster Gold.

Booster Gold: Yo! I am back and you are watching live as I risk life and limb in an effort to trash the most dangerous threat New York has ever seen! A reminder that if you want to support one of the few heroes who aren’t bazillionaires, contribute to my PlzPayMe account! Pay for a full year’s subscription and you get complimentary V.I.P. status!

Thomas pockets his phone.

Thomas: Alright, alright, no soliciting on air! I should’ve known this was a Booster story the second our PA said it was a Green Lantern scoop. They’re all still off-world! Well, maybe this could’ve been an Alan Scott story, but not anymore. Just more performative heroics in search of a buck. Let’s pack it up everyone, nothing to see —

Whoa! Did you see that? It’s The Bug! Blue Beetle’s here! Do you think he has a PlzPayMe account? I’ve got an extra credit card I could use to donate… Keep rolling! Let me check on social, see what everyone’s saying about the Blue & Gold reunion…oh man…

The camera cuts back to Dan.

Dan: Looks like we can add a couple more colors to Thomas’ beat, eh? One of our reporters is on a very important but chilly mission…

The camera cuts to Rodrigo sitting at a desk full of crystals and working on a computer. We can only see their back, but their hair is all messed up, and they’re kind of shaking. From off-screen, the camera operator reminds Rodrigo the feed is live.

Rodrigo: Can you just wait a moment, hacking into the Fortress of Solitude’s security system is not the easiest job in the world…wait… I’M IN! I’M IN!

Rodrigo faces the camera, their eyes are really red, they are holding a coffee cup, and they are wearing a shirt that says “You wanted Lois Lane, but you’re stuck with me”. It seems like they haven’t slept in days.

Rodrigo: Well, hello there! This is Rodrigo,  your favorite reporter from the future. Today we are discussing Superman (I think). After being involved in the arrest of famous metahuman terrorist Manchester Black, Superman took the criminal into his care, presumably to his fortress. And now that I have access to the security feed I can tell you what happened. I’ll try to be quick. 

Soooooo… apparently when Superman was younger he made a promise to this guy called Kennedy (I have no idea who he is) about making the world a better place, but then as time went by and Superman started losing his powers, he realized that that the Justice League and he underestimated…well, everything. Now Superman is asking Manchester to help him create a team so he can fulfill his promise. 

Now, this leaves us with a lot of questions. Can Superman trust Manchester Black? He has tried to kill him many times. But an even more pressing question is: Can Manchester trust Superman? Can we? Because, let me tell you he might not be the blue boy scout we used to know, for starters I’ve just discovered he has a room where he can watch anything in the world…or anyone. Makes you wonder, right?

Rodrigo looks around the room, and then they come closer to the camera

Rodrigo: Also, I have a contact that says one of Superman’s oldest enemies has discovered something new about kryptonite, something that could destroy the man of tomorrow… but I can’t tell you much more… or they’ll know.

Mysterious voice in the background: We already do.

The transmission is suddenly cut, and it goes back to the studio.

Dan: Well that was…interesting. Anyways, that’s all we have for you, so as always… be it the Bat Symbol in Gotham, a red streak through Central City, or a golden lasso on Themyscira… GC52 has you covered with the news you need to know. Till next week, I’m your host Dan McMahon. Be strong in all your convictions.


Books covered this week:

  • Justice League #65 by Brian Michael Bendis, Steve Pugh, Romulo Fajardo Jr., and Josh Reed.
  • Catwoman #33 by Ram V, Fernando Blanco, Jordie Bellaire, and Tom Napolitano.
  • Nightwing #82 by Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, Rick Leonardi, Neil Edwards, Andy Lanning, Scott Hanna, Adriano Lucas, and Wes Abbott.
  • Shazam #1 by Tim Sheridan, Clayton Henry, Marcelo Maiolo, and Rob Leigh.
  • The Flash #772 by Jeremy Adams, Will Conrad, Alex Sinclair, and Steve Wands.
  • Blue & Gold #1 by Dan Jurgens, Ryan Sook, and Rob Leigh.
  • Superman and the Authority #1 by Grant Morrison, Mikel Janín, Jordie Bellaire, and Steve Wands.
Categories
Comics Uncategorized

Fun-Size Roundtable: M.O.M.: Mother of Madness #1

Welcome to this week’s Fun-Sized Roundtable review, this time for an extra-sized book! (40 pages of gorgeous art, to be precise.) M.O.M.: MOTHER OF MADNESS #1 is a psychedelic trip through a richly satirical 2049, narrated by our hero Maya from her perch on top of the fourth wall. 

Writers Emilia Clarke and Marguerite Bennett spin the tale of a single mom and (literal) freak of nature juggling a dozen responsibilities and even more superpowers, and virtuoso artist Leila Leiz renders it with expressive characters and endlessly inventive layouts. Colorist Triona Farrell sells the vivid acid-tinged look of the book, giving it a signature visual identity, and letterer Haley Rose-Lyon makes several standout choices that shape readers’ perception of the dialogue and characters.

But don’t take my word for it, because we’ve put together several insightful panelists to give you their take on the madness.


José Cardenas (@nowayjosecarden)

While it would be fun to make jokes about the likeness between Maya Kuyper, the titular Mother of Madness, and Emilia Clarke, actress and celebrity writer on the project, it would also be inappropriate.

On its own, M.O.M. is a really enjoyable comic, obviously made with passion from all involved and full of recognizable quirks from the individual creators. It is a comic made by women and as a result has a very unique perspective on the world.

Emilia Clarke and Marguerite Bennett build a very exuberant character in Maya, whose disastrous fashion sense ties in with her very unpredictable powers and haphazardly made life. The satire on the female experience male-dominated office culture also brings the laughs. Even the most innocuous of interactions are tinged with a strong dose of cartoonish misogyny. In real-life parallels, a recent lawsuit against Activision Blizzard proves the exaggerations depressingly true to life.


Ashley Durante (@ashleyacts)

M.O.M. was a fucking trip for this feminist mom to read. Women superheroes are routinely drawn for men. Their costumes have been designed for male consumption; their poses perfected to show off assets, adding another heaping of self-loathing to the average female reader.

That’s not to say the genre hasn’t made strides, but M.O.M. absolutely subverts that segment of comic book culture and farts in its face. Literally, did you guys see that panel, too? I want to kiss Emilia Clarke and Marguerite Bennett for birthing Maya into this medium, and for giving her a baggy jumpsuit that can realistically allow her to kick everyone’s ass.

M.O.M. #1 is an origin story at its heart, setting up to become one hell of a feminist manifesto. The all-female team behind M.O.M. shines, but a stand-out is artist Leila Leiz, who treats her panel dividers as an additional part of the story, using every bit of page to bring us further into Maya’s “crazy” world.


Katie Liggera (@kataloupee)

M.O.M. is a frenetic, feminist, fantastic comic. The comic medium gives Emilia Clarke autonomy over a female character! Assisted by Marguerite Bennett, Clarke pens a story about a woman deemed “crazy” (sound familiar?) by the male masses. Enticingly, Mother of Madness herself, Maya Kuyper, gains powers and flips the script on the “mad woman”  trope. Clarke writes M.O.M. as a love letter to women who feel demonized, ridiculed, or stripped of control due to sexist stereotypes. Along with illustrator Leila Leiz’s gorgeous panel layouts and rendering of raw emotion, M.O.M. exudes power.

Besides the density, my main qualm is personal: The hyper-realistic misogyny is exaggerated, but still triggering. Misogynistic behavior is real and (personally) hard to read when I am reminded of disturbing parallels to my own experiences. Nevertheless, I want to thank this woman-created comic for existing — and including essential hotlines on M.O.M.’s final page.


Jordan Edwards (@IamJordanZoned)

Okay I’m gonna preface this by saying that voice is irrelevant, I’m a straight white dude and this isn’t meant to resonate with me in the same way it does for some of my fellow GateCrashers. Unfortunately I didn’t gel with it as much. Stylistically it’s incredibly fluid, vibrant and energetic. Perfectly suits the tone of the story and Laila Leiz and Haley Rose-Lyon have put forth an incredibly impressive piece of work. 

But for me I just didn’t connect with this character or story. I think part of that is just how frantic this was. There’s a point where it moves back in time and then back forward again only to go back again and I had to keep turning back the page to keep track.

It felt like it had so much to get through but had very little time to breathe and by the end I learned a lot about this character but not as much about her goals, her aspirations or why she does what she does. But first issues need to grab your attention and it certainly got that, with a colourful charm and a much needed story. 


Adam Henderson (@krakoa_customs)

Mother of Madness starts with a very set-up heavy first issue, that struggles to balance a lot of background information for our protagonist, Maya Kuyper and the near future world she inhabits with the story itself.  The future setting of the story feels like an afterthought, and meshes strangely with the more present day pop-culture references throughout. 

Its strong, feminist vibe shines through though, and the book is something very unique and interesting when its focus is on that.  It’s an absolutely gorgeous book thanks to the incredible work of Leila Leiz and Triona Farrell, whose dynamic layouts and stunning colours are the book’s real strength.  The duo do an outstanding job of representing Maya’s emotions, especially in the flashbacks.  Overall, it was an interesting start that could potentially turn into something really special if future issues gain a clearer focus.

Categories
Episodes

Star Wars: The Sequel Trilogy

HEYHEYYYY!

Today, Ashley and Ethan sit down to discuss the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy. They talk about everything from their love of these films, emo bitch boy Kylo Ren to the one, the only, Babu Frik.

Make sure to listen at the beginning for the penultimate chapter in our four-part audio drama, Star Wars: Wild Space Episode III – The Return of the Imp.

This week’s intro is best enjoyed with headphones!

Subscribe now or listen below!

Star Wars: Rogue One GateCrashers

Rebellions are built on hope. Fitting that the end of our Star Wars month is about the story that sparked the fire that freed the Galaxy from the Empire. Tim Daniel joins Dan to talk about their favorite Star Wars film, Rogue One. We talk far too long about Saw Gerrera, the themes of the film, and what makes it stand out amongst giants.
  1. Star Wars: Rogue One
  2. Star Wars: The Sequel Trilogy
  3. Star Wars: The Original Trilogy
  4. Star Wars: The Prequel Trilogy
  5. Interview with George Motz
Categories
Comics

BoomCrashers! Tales (Boom! Studios Releases for 07/21/2021)

The families of the disappeared kept looking, although finding them seemed more like an empty consolation as time passed, and grief started to settle inside their souls, and as the days changed for them, the places the travelers woke up in kept on changing as well.

Dark Blood

Shadows and sunlight cleaved, splicing the colorless void into two separate parts. One one side, images flew around the womans’ eyes in dizzying circles. She knew she was observing a snippet from the past. In a history not belonging to her, she witnessed ten year old memories of a young Black man, spinning like a propeller. Then, the rotating stopped.

Instead of shapes blurring at the edges, the woman saw the frightened face of a pilot as he plummeted toward the ground. His aircraft looked old, a relic nestled in history. She understood then. The memory ricocheted noisily in her thoughts as she floated between existence and non-permanence. It was a World War II fighter plane. And the man — Aldridge, someone’s scream had eked the brave fighters’ name through his comms — was about to die.

Emilia: No! Please don’t crash! You are so brave!

Dark Blood #1 (Written by Layota Morgan, illustrated by Walt Barna, colored by A.H.G and lettered by Andworld Design) / Source: Boom! Studios

She yelled fearlessly, a faint facsimile of a sentence ringing out nearly one hundred years too late. Like a blemished film strip, the images flickered. On the opposite side of the divide, another movie projected a narrative in muted noir tones. Avery Aldridge took center stage in this film again, but lines etched signs of age onto his face. His appearance was strong, ordinary even, as he walked out of a diner long after waning twilight hours. In this second glimpse of Aldridge’s life, she recognized the open landscape framed against Alabama’s star clustered skies.

A personal thought hung in her mind. The woman clasped the abrupt intrusion in her hands, a burning ember of recollection. Her mother — where was she born? Was she dead? Why did she leave her father? Grief pressed on her heart, multiplying further when she saw a man prowling behind Mr. Aldridge. Danger followed the Black man wandering alone through soundless streets in 1950s Alabama.

Across the cleave, Aldridge’s body hurtled from the air. Smoke and fire singed the sky behind him as planes dipped and weaved manically. She wondered how he could close his eyes while nosediving down past the clouds. When had he even jumped from danger, releasing his parachute? Simultaneously, a fiery bullet had ripped through Aldridge’s only means of safety as his eyes glowed white, while the ill-intentioned man confronted future Aldridge in an alleyway. The woman exhausted her lungs and screamed into the splitting void. Then, forces beyond her control sucked her into a red Volkswagen car parked on the opposite side of the alley.

Emilia: I’m here in a new world. Whatever is moving me through these alternate universes wanted me to see Aldridge in his future. That means he must have survived the crash! I need to write. Thank goodness for security in this journal. Books have never let me down.

Emilia’s Journal: The white man dressed in a black fedora and matching trenchcoat is gleaning information from the innocent man. I hear the white man ask Aldridge’s full name. Avery Aldridge answers every horrendous question this racist harasser thrusts upon him. Now he’s asking Avery about his time in the army. The army! I see the connection now between the dual memories I saw in the desolate void. What is so important about Avery’s escape from the plane? Avery’s a veteran now it seems, and this racist is not happy about it. I choose to stay inside, away from a world of people who can hurt me. Yet, if I did, I know I…would be left alone. No one would engage in an altercation with me because of my skin color. Avery…he doesn’t have that privilege.

The white man extracted a gun from his coat. Pointed firmly at Avery, the man demanded spoken recognition of Avery’s cowardice. But Avery was never a coward. As the woman knew, this incident was hardly the first time Avery had to peer upon the towering face of death. She watched Avery tremble, ragged panic shuttering his confidence. Seconds passed, and the white man escalated the degradation. As opposed to backing down, Avery refused to admit any fear. Ink scribbles formed crude words as the woman wrote furiously about Avery’s sudden domination of confidence.

Emilia’s Journal: Avery does not turn the other cheek; instead, he turns the racists’ words back upon him. The racist wants Avery to say he is scared, but Avery challenges and says that the white man should be scared! If only I possessed even a fraction of Avery’s self-assuredness, I could change the course of my life. I am shivering right now. An anxiety attack edges toward the precipice of my mind. I am so entrenched in sorrow that the terror Avery must be enduring is crushing me. It’s not fair for Avery! He is a soldier and a person undeserving of this treatment. Emotional wounding scars for life that will not be undamaged even if he makes it out of here alive. He remains unflinching as this racist piece of garbage spews hatred toward Avery.

Dark Blood #1 (Written by Layota Morgan, illustrated by Walt Barna, colored by A.H.G and lettered by Andworld Design) / Source: Boom! Studios

Without warning, the man pulled the gun’s trigger. Anguish poured out of the woman in anticipation, but the bullet never struck Avery. Avery deflected the predecessor to his death somehow. Her sorrow metamorphosed into fury when a slur slipped from the white predators’ lips. However, Avery commandeered the situation. White beams like sun rays inexplicably encircled around Avery’s body. The woman pounded her fists against the locked car door, exhilarated by the turn of events.

Emilia’s Journal: He has powers! Bricks and trash can lids and objects float in the air around Avery as the racist misses every single shot. And I felt my will to intervene nearly overpower my fear of people. This is an…odd sensation, but maybe I am changing? Death does not await this hero today, nor in his past. An invisible hand guides Avery’s destiny apparently. Could it belong to the same apparition affecting me?

In a twist of fate, the racist man screamed of monsters and ran into the street. How peculiar that the man so impelled to take the life of another crumples into a petrified child when his own mortality is endangered. Fate, destiny, whatever assigned term best describes Avery’s newfound awakening, altered him irrevocably. When a car struck the fleeing killer, the woman couldn’t ignore the thought of the irony.

Irony bends fate both forward and backward, though. She was well versed in the irony of her own life as a shut-in after her father’s passing from cancer wrought by the sun. She wrote of the instant Avery ran over to check on his bloodied enemy. Could she feel compassion for her enemies like that virtuous soul? The sun had tricked her father. It would not trick her too. Perhaps she’d jump worlds forever, suspended in an eternal life without consequences.

Hazy reflections of sunlight and damage scorched her head. She looked up and saw a gleam, distant and indistinguishable. She pondered if the sun was returning for her. An act of revenge felt too obtuse, and then the illusion of light warped. 

Emilia: How ironic. I crave…darkness again. 

Sleep stole her away.

Proctor Valley Road

They found themselves walking down an infinite spiral. There was nothing else around, nowhere else to go. They just had to keep walking down. But as the sun bathed them in light, they opened their eyes. The smell of grass, cooked meat, dusted pavement, and a little bit of far-away weed invaded their nostrils. It breathed the same as back home, except maybe less pollution. They woke up in a front yard of an abandoned house, where the wood croaked even with such a light breeze, the windows were all broken because of teenagers with something to prove, and its grass was starting to take on a brown shade. It felt forgotten.

Aimée woke up. This time, they didn’t complain or asked for things to go back to normal, nothing at all. They just stared at this new place, a bit tired, and got up. For a moment, as they impulsed their body up from the ground, they thought there was something behind the corner of the house, a distorted light, but they thought it was a sign they were still sleepy. The rest of the neighborhood was normal and boring, except for the house next to where they woke up. Aimée heard screamings coming from inside and walked discreetly to the window.

Aimée’s journal: There’s a birthday inside, but two girls are fighting. Huh, they appear to be cousins who have recently fought. Wait, their clothing seems old. I think I’m in the 70s. What if I accidentally step on something, and I end up being my grandparent? Time travel is weird, man. Maybe it’s not even my past.

The day continued, but Aimée stayed with one of the girls, August. Maybe to make things more simple or because she believed that it wasn’t all just a coincidence. She learned what happened to her; three kids disappeared, one of them is dead, the other two are still missing, and they’re blaming her and her friends, saying they helped them cross the border to avoid getting drafted. But the town didn’t know that the one to blame is a spirit haunting the place where the boys got lost, and August and her friends are trying to stop it. 

Aimée’s journal: August feels guilty because of everything that’s happened, so she’s about to face the ghost by herself. Shit, she has a bicycle. I’m gonna have to run.

While on the run, the night came. When August (And secretly Aimée) reached the place of destination, they discovered the other girls from their group went by themselves too. They agreed they should be together to hunt the ghost and apologized for fighting. One of them had a hint that convinced them it was hiding underwater, in the only place with a body of water in Proctor Valley Road.

Proctor Valley Road #5 (Written by Alex Child and Grant Morrison, illustrated by Naomi Franquiz, colored by Tamra Bonvillain and lettered by Jim Campbell) / Source: Boom! Studios

Aimée: Let’s hope I swim better than I think I do. Will the journal get wet if I take it with me? It isn’t a problem in video games, so I guess I’m gonna stick with that.

The group of friends got in the water, and Aimée followed them after a while. Even harder than they thought it was going to be, they had to open a submarine and get into it. But once they did, they found themselves in a courtroom. It would’ve been empty if not for the skeleton of a supposed judge. They kept going further into that place that felt outside of time and space, lost and undetectable to even higher powers. Then, when they left the room, Aimée got there.

Aimée’s journal: This place is creepy. Why am I even here? The fucking journal said write everything, not write everything about the worst possible people. If I’m not already dead, I’m gonna get myself killed!

As the just reunited friends kept walking, they suddenly encountered the witch. She tried to convince them to join her, although it was a fruitless attempt to deceive them, and they knew it. But she was still powerful, causing them to age decades in just minutes, and they didn’t have a plan to defeat her. They were filled with hopelessness, ready to face the fact that they had lost, and there was nothing to do. But in a turn of events, they held each other’s hands, and for a mysterious reason, they were able to revert the magic. Back to their young bodies, they got up, full of trust in themselves and one another, and sure they could do anything together. With their newfound power, they pushed the ghost into the cavern’s stalactites, killing her twice and for all.

Proctor Valley Road #5 (Written by Alex Child and Grant Morrison, illustrated by Naomi Franquiz, colored by Tamra Bonvillain and lettered by Jim Campbell) / Source: Boom! Studios

Aimée’s journal: Holy shit! That was so cool! And they also found the two missing kids! I wish I had friends like that to be in this crazy whatever-the-fuck-i-am. Minus the evil witch that killed a bunch of people, maybe.

As they reached the town and authorities, everyone met with their families, and the missing kids testified that the girls were not only not responsible for their disappearance but also that they saved their lives. Now, the world didn’t seem so unattainable for them. It was hard, but they could handle it.

Aimée’s journal: Well, it was a crazy ride. Possibly the craziest shit I’ve gotten myself into, but I guess it could be worse. Maybe this was all meant to happen. Maybe it was for the better that all of this happened to me. I wasn’t any good back then anyway. I’m so tired though; running and swimming are definitely not for me.

Categories
Film

Star Wars: This Weapon is Your Life

When I think of Star Wars, what I think about first are lightsabers. I always have. They’re flashy and cool, and even when they’re not ignited they have intricate hilts full of personal history. I wanted to be a Jedi not because I cared about the organization or saving the galaxy, but because they had the coolest lightsabers. I know, it’s a pretty terrible reason to join a cult, but maybe if more cults gave out lightsabers they would be more successful. Things to consider.

Now I’m one of those fanboys that was wary when Disney bought the rights to Star Wars. The promise of all that sweet Mickey Mouse cash gave me hope, but hearing that all non-Disney, non-movie creations wouldn’t be considered canon anymore immediately put my hackles up. It felt clear that the experimentation, the lore, the things that helped flesh out the originally quite basic concept from the movies would be thrown away because Disney couldn’t make money off of it. And that was both disappointing and scary. There aren’t many ideas in the Expanded Universe that could be considered marketable to the masses, and often that’s what gave them their charm. The Dark Horse comics and a crazy amount of novels were so endearing because they were basically glorified fanfiction. The lowest-common-denominator storytelling of the (still enjoyable) Disney Marvel movies gave a daunting blueprint of what to expect going forward and sadly it seems that is the case. Why was Poe Dameron retconned into a smuggler jerk barely distinguishable from Han in the final movie for no real reason? Because the Han Solo type made a lot of money over the years.

Though to be completely upfront, I am also that fanboy who loved The Last Jedi. Some characters acted a little odd and the themes were a little dissonant at times, but Rose was an incredible addition to the cast and the movie didn’t shy away from pushing boundaries of what we expect from Star Wars media. So basically, it hit a lot of the great beats that the Expanded Universe did too. The rest of the sequel trilogy didn’t quite match that standard, even from the beginning. Rey finding the Skywalker lightsaber in Maz Kanata’s basement was interesting, but when she might hear the story later made it almost rudely obvious that Disney didn’t care about telling a story, it cared about making a profit. If you want that story, you need to go buy a few series of comics and a handful of novels to understand an integral part of the main story. At least the Expanded Universe did just that: expand our idea of what the universe could hold so that you could enjoy the main story as a whole but fill in the gaps with other people’s creativity. Again, the world’s biggest fanfiction trove. Just wonderful.

But every now and then, Disney still surprises me by really breaking that mold. The TV shows like Rebels are an incredible example of this. They’ve got lore, they’ve got heart, they aren’t afraid to take minor aspects of the universe and expand on them in new and exciting ways. And that show, in particular, did so most spectacularly, in my opinion, through the Kyber crystal lore.

Before I get into what these novels did, I want to fill you in on how what lightsabers meant, both to me and to the lore/fandom.

One of the earliest Christmases I can remember was when I was in the third grade. My family had just moved from my childhood home and everything was new and different. It was the year that Revenge of the Sith was released in theaters and Star Wars merch was all that my siblings and I got. It was the best Christmas ever. In no small part, this was due to a build your own lightsaber kit that my parents bought me. It was all plastic, of course, but it had a multitude of interchangeable parts so you could customize every aspect of the lightsaber, and even three different crystals that fit into a special slot and changed the sound it would make. You could even put a little piece of colored plastic over the flashlight (because let’s face it, toy lightsabers are just glorified flashlights) that would change the color of the blade. I was ecstatic. I changed the hilt nearly every day and would swing it around behind the couch while we watched the movies, pretending to be a part of the fight alongside Obi-Wan. Definitely too old for that to not be a little embarrassing but no shame, I’ve been a fan since day one.

That gift definitely shaped my obsession with lightsabers, in no small part because they were a distinctly visual way of differentiating Jedi who could often blend into each other in the background of a scene. But if I looked at each saber, I could imagine the person who made it, what they went through to find the pieces of the hilt, their connection to the crystal, what aspects of their personality were evident in their lightsaber. And though it is a weapon, a lightsaber is also so much more! It’s the manifestation of how a Jedi is connected to the Force in general, their own personal lifeline to something that connects the whole universe. Though the meaning of a lightsaber has changed a lot over time, in the Expand Universe that was its main importance. Color didn’t signify much, though blue and green were the most popular for Jedi for a long time. Once varied colors, truly every color of the rainbow, became a staple in the EU, they acted basically like a Myers-Briggs test for Jedi. Those with blue lightsabers tended to act or look at the world in a certain way that was different from the others. Yellow or white tended to be utilitarian, largely for the Jedi Temple guards more than anything else. But it also opened up the possibilities for color to change meaning based on who you were at a given time. Are you feeling angsty in your young adult/early adult life? Try out an orange or magenta blade. Have you matured throughout your travels and have a different outlook on life? Maybe it’s time for a green blade to reflect that.

Changing the blade color usually meant changing the core. This brings us back to Rebels and Ahsoka Tano. When she first appears at the end of the first season, she’s carrying two white lightsabers. This is very unique in Star Wars, and though Dave Filoni said it was to signify that she was not part of the Jedi or the Sith, the lore quickly filled in to expand on that. The crystals came from an Inquisitor who she killed, but as they were full of his hatred, she meditated on them to clear their negative energy and leave two purified crystals in their stead. Which is such an incredible way of broadening our understanding of the Star Wars universe! We know that there will be all kinds of lightsaber colors in the coming High Republic comics and novels in the next few years, but seeing such an interesting way of rethinking a Jedi’s relationship to both the force and their lightsabers gives me hope for the future of the franchise. Mickey Mouse will always loom large over it, but so long as creators keep telling the best stories they can we can fill in the meaning and lore that has made Star Wars one of the most beloved franchises of all time.

Sam Nicol.