Categories
Comics

Fun-Size Roundtable: The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton #1

Thank you everyone for coming here on such short notice. We are gathered here today to— Hey, you in the back with the headband, quiet down! Damnit, where was I….? Right. We are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Trigger Keaton, a man loved by— HEY! Stop throwing tomatoes at me! The casket’s over there!

You know what, I’m skipping the rest of this script. You know why we’re here. The first issue of The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton, written by Kyle Starks and illustrated by Chris Schweizer, is out today. I’d like to thank the five panelists gathered here today for actually responding to the invitation, even if one of you scoundrels keyed my car. But I digress, let’s hear what each of you have to say about a man we all tolerated at best, and loathed on average.

Jimmy Gaspero

The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton #1. Credit: Kyle Starks, Chris Schweizer.

The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton is about an extremely unlikable action star whose former TV sidekicks team up to investigate his murder. Starks never misses an opportunity to showcase Keaton’s terrible behavior, but the character never feels too exaggerated or over the top. This isn’t a caricature, so when the TV sidekicks are introduced it’s understandable that they have complicated feelings about the death of Trigger Keaton as they attend his memorial service. The sidekick introductions are smartly done with names and sidekick number, along with panel inserts giving a glimpse of an article or TV Guide entry for the TV show they were in with Keaton. They are all very different and the characterization work is strong, but also Schweizer’s design for each character makes them stand out in their own way.

The biggest takeaways from The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton are its sense of humor and action scenes. Terry Komodo is brash, obnoxious and probably the only former sidekick with anything nice to say about Keaton, so there’s plenty of comedy to be mined there, but Paul Hernandez has a subtler, dryer wit and this comes across too in the panels. The opening panels provide some action for Schweizer to show off a little (the “SPIN KICK!” and “LEG SWEEP” SFX are great too), but the end fight scene is tremendous both in how dynamic Komodo looks fighting, but also the movement and anxiety in Hernandez attempting to avoid the fight.        

Overall, this was a fun first issue that was funny, with great action and a compelling mystery at its center that fans of Rock Candy Mountain and Assassin Nation are sure to enjoy.


Bobby Varghese Vinu

The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton #1. Credit: Kyle Starks, Chris Schweizer.

While this is an interesting premise, the first issue seems to move at a rather fast pace to the detriment of the story that’s being told. It can be rather jarring with certain scenes, and it disrupts the story’s flow at times. However, not all is imperfect.

The supplementary material for this comic is fascinating as while it is a recounting of an incident involving the man, it adds to this issue’s depiction of who Trigger Keaton is, which is all too relevant when considering the behaviour of certain people in Hollywood towards those they deem “lesser.” There’s also potential here for character exploration with his former “sidekicks:” the actors who he burnt bridges with thanks to his attitude. Even as a posthumous character, he still lives through the protagonists

And the art is excellent. There’s a sort of vintage pop culture aesthetic with the colours used by Schweizer, which is very cool and fitting for the story being told. It blends well with the cartoony linework used by Schweizer, giving me the impression of a late night cartoon on Adult Swim.


Elle Worthy

The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton #1. Credit: Kyle Starks, Chris Schweizer.

Trigger Keaton was Bonafide Pictures’ cash cow, having had a contract with them for an unheard-of twenty-five years. This security gave Keaton the freedom to act without regard to others or even his own wellbeing. In a not so surprising turn of events, Keaton, “the world’s most unlikable action star”, is found dead in his trailer. With the police uninterested in looking deeper into what they have prematurely deemed a suicide, it’s up to those he’s scorned the most to get to the bottom of the mystery.

The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton finds a ragtag group of Keaton’s former and most current onscreen sidekicks gathered at a publicity event after the discovery of his body. They will need to set aside their personal biases and issues to work together.

This was a visually pleasing story to get into. It had a lot going on without being too busy. I really enjoyed the title cards introducing the Six, as well as the panels highlighting their Hollywood connection to Keaton along with the fallout attached to their projects. I was especially entertained by Sidekick No. 6, Miles Nguyen, Keaton’s most recent on-screen partner. I got big Phoenix Wright, over-the-top, wannabe detective vibes from him and it just worked so well with the rest of the crew. 

This was a great first issue that definitely reeled me in for the rest of the series. 


Bethani Lynda

The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton #1. Credit: Kyle Starks, Chris Schweizer.

There’s something about comics that makes the medium a prime breeding ground for legendary asshole characters, and Trigger Keaton is determined to sucker-punch and leg-sweep his way into that pantheon. It helps that he’s doing it in a book that’s incredibly warm, funny, and fully committed to its nutty premise.

There’s a lot to love here, from the clear personalities of each sidekick to the wonderful character acting. I was able to read this issue on my phone without having to zoom in to parse what was happening (though I still did anyway, the art’s just too delightful). Schweizer’s style won’t be for everyone, but he deserves the attention of anyone who cares about cartooning. Lovely colors, too!

Starks has a great ear for dialogue and which writing style is appropriate for which situation. Whether it’s a tawdry celeb profile, a TV guide listing, or a canned speech to the press, everything sounded right to me. It’s that kind of attention to detail that makes for a great crime farce, and I am definitely along for the ride.


Logan Dalton

The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton #1. Credit: Kyle Starks, Chris Schweizer.

The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton #1 is a joke-dense action comedy ride from writer Kyle Starks and artist Chris Schweizer. Using press clippings and flashbacks, they construct one of the most unlikable characters, period, kill him off, and then set up a stone-cold whodunit. Keaton is a lot like how I imagine Chuck Norris to be like when the cameras are off. However, Six Sidekicks isn’t just a mystery, but a multi-genre feast drawing on Trigger Keaton’s long career on television shows you’re more likely to see on some random local channel at 3 AM than getting big reunion specials on HBO Max.

This is a comic that can go from a heartfelt anti-suicide PSA to a no-holds-barred street brawl, with Starks and Schweizer playfully blurring the lines between fact and fiction. Each of the six sidekicks have a distinct personality that draws on different Hollywood archetypes from the failed, recast child star to the child star with a career in another field, the professional athlete who’s crossed over into acting, and more. They’re introduced in a funeral scene that feels more like reading through the guest list of a flyover state comic con, but it’s an effective way to introduce a large ensemble cast and get to the fun ass kicking bits.

The upcoming Stuntman War teased at the end of the issue does seem like a distraction rather than a compelling plot point, but I really wanna get to know this motley crew a bit more. On a craft level, I also want to continue to bask in the comedic alchemy of Kyle Starks and Chris Schweizer because a well-placed beat panel or reaction shot can make a funny line a laugh-out-loud one.

Categories
Film

GateBuster: An American Werewolf in London

The car door swung open as I gazed upon a ghost; not the one under the white sheet mind you, but rather the visceral one that elicits emotions long thought dead and buried. The blue and yellow sign was welcoming, but my mind pushed out a sentence, just to alert the spirits I was here: “GateBuster, weren’t they all called… erm, never mind.” The neon sign said open, but the lack of any human presence told another tale. The door was slightly ajar, so I pushed all the way in and was subsequently greeted with that acrid smell of cleaner. It was clearly used with reckless abandon, possibly trying to mask something more nefarious. Who knows, perhaps I was having a stroke. My eyes shifted from right to left until I spotted 25 V/H/S tapes lined up perfectly, like toy soldiers at attention, waiting for my approval. The names were familiar with an accompanying list behind them. I scanned the tapes until one leapt into my brain like a poker through the eye; the horror classic “An American Werewolf in London”. At this point, my body was practically yipping with excitement over its eerie cover of two backpackers with a foreboding full moon in the background. Had it not been for the chunk of my arm that was still missing (I’ll get to that), the cassette would’ve been thrown into my bag carelessly, so I gingerly placed it instead.

Heading back to the front of the store, the lights flickered like an ominous warning…or perhaps a warming invitation. No one was there at the counter, just a stack of review cards to fill out, and a simple set of sentences:  

Be Kind, Rewind. Return on time. If not, Late Fees for the Crime.  

The hairs stick up on the back of my neck, and I don’t hear my voice come out, but the word “odd” escapes. Possibly an unfair assumption, I mean where is the harm here…harm, sounds like arm, like that piece still missing, fuck. People really need to control their dogs, ESPECIALLY, when you are minding your own business running on a cool summer night. Apologies for the sidetrack there, the mind… it wanders. But, let me digress because we have a film to enjoy!

As I’m sure people who are over 65 are the last VCR holdouts, I take the video to my parent’s house. Recalling my father’s opinion on V/H/S tapes (in his best Terminator impression stating, “They’ll be back”), I slide the film into the VCR using my good arm. The screen brightens, and it’s as if a nostalgic aneurism goes off in my brain. The movie begins innocently enough as we meet David and Jack, young backpackers from the Big Apple making their way through the English countryside. A friendly farmer warns them, “keep off the moors, stick to the roads.” Why is it when any knowing Englishman tries to give sage advice to young Americans, it is so quickly left to the roadside? My nocturnal attack was different, there was no sage advice to heed, only a closed park sign. I ALWAYS run in the park, closed or not, it’s a PUBLIC park paid for by MY tax dollars. Leash laws exist for a reason, it’s… again, sorry, this gaping wound in my arm is still burning and reapplying Neosporin to it is like treating cancer with Kool-Aid. It ain’t worth shit. Last outburst, I swear. 

We find David and Jack as unwelcome patrons in a quaint English pub, “The Slaughtered Lamb,” where the locals unceremoniously tell them to move on. As any ignorant American does when abroad, they ignore all local customs and find themselves wandering the foggy moor, on a night very similar to the one I find myself watching this on; a full moon. Deep in the moor, a howl rents through the pitch of night. The screams of the beast convince the boys to make a run for it, but alas Jack finds himself torn to pieces while David is maimed, and subsequently saved by the same pub-goers who cast them out. 

David, now marked with the curse of the beast, begins convalescing at a hospital. He’s being cared for and eventually REALLY cared for by Nurse Alex (vis a vi they have adult fun). Jack appears in the initial stages of a decaying zombie to warn David of his eventual turn into a werewolf, and his need to commit suicide before the next full moon. As the damned are want to do, David passes off his rotting friend’s advice as trauma induced delusions. Like so many horror films, the protagonist rarely sees the light before the train hits. Itching, itchy, itchiness, more interruptions and more apologies, but god, this arm, THIS ARM, I would lop it off if I could. 

Where was I? Oh yes, enough plot, more review. Rick Baker steals the show here with his Academy Award Winning Makeup, it just… SOUND. WHAT IS THAT SOUND? THE DRYER IS SCREAMING! WHERE DID ALL THIS NOISE COME FROM?

Just need, to adjust here. God, my muscles feel so tight. The itch… the itch is under my skin. What is happening to…

Needles. Thin. Needles. EVERYWHERE. It’s as if 10,000 arrows are ERUPTING FROM MY SKIN. Hands,      HANds.   Hansds.   FIJngers    Aaarrr too bigd forr thissl

My mouth is dry, but tinged with a metallic taste. Dried Blood. Whose Blood? My blood, their blood….their..? The house is turned upside down, I don’t understand. Was there a robbery?? I DON’T UNDERSTAND. My muscles burn and my lungs won’t catch enough air. The movie is paused and an image is burned on the screen. I look into a pair of eyes attached to a beast glaring back at me, but I see the soul beneath it; David’s. His eyes were filled with fear, pure fear. The eyes of a son who has done wrong. The eyes of a man unable to control the animal it has become. My mind cannot keep up with the wave of horrible memories torturing me. But something is certain; late fees be damned, I don’t think this film is making it back on time.

RJ.

Categories
Comics

Re-Re-Rebirth of The Cool: Static, Icon, and Rocket Bring Milestone Into the Modern Era

When Milestone Comics debuted in 1993, it felt like the entirety of comics up until that point had just been the opening act. Sure, the predecessors, your Claremonts, Simonsons, hell, even Kirbys, were great in their own rights, but Hardware, Icon, Blood Syndicate, and Static were a four-note chord that was unlike anything that had come before. Their diversity, both on and off-panel, and authentic storylines and characters, set a bar that even now, almost thirty years later, mainstream comics struggle to reach. Far from the public perception of Milestone as just “the Black comics,” the books, often referred to as the Dakotaverse, were largely intersectional in nature with honest portrayals of topics from gang violence, to disability, to class privilege, to trans rights, all with some of the industry’s best and brightest behind them. 

While the comics themselves didn’t last long, with gradual cancellations from 1995 to 1997, Milestone lived on with the much-loved Static Shock cartoon, before having the comic characters brought into the DC Universe proper in 2008. Previously, with the exception of a brief crossover, the relationship between Milestone and DC had been more about licensing – DC handled distribution, but Milestone owned the rights, able to publish whatever they wished as long as DC didn’t object. For the most part, everything went smoothly in that regard – while Milestone touched on topics that made DC uncomfortable, they recognized the need for most of the stories to be told. Unfortunately, much like the initial run of the imprint that created them, Milestone’s characters vanished from DC far too soon, with little more than occasional cameos in the Young Justice cartoon, and a best-forgotten Static Shock run at the beginning of the New 52.

While there were yearly announcements that hinted we’d be seeing more Milestone “soon,” nothing concrete took form until the surprise, limited-time digital release of the 17-page Milestone Returns #0 during last September’s DC FanDome: Hall of Heroes event, after legal issues with the rights were resolved. The book served as an introduction to the new “Earth-M,” reintroducing classic characters such as Rocket, Static, and Icon, along with the characters who comprise the new hero, Duo. This Re-re-rebirth of the Cool, bringing back some of the creatives who made the original Milestone so iconic, was supposed to usher in a new era of digital-first comics in the universe, bringing the characters and the world into the modern day. However, in what I can’t help but think of as a truly amazing instance of C.P.T., the digital comics were all delayed by months, so that physical releases could come out the same day, with the exception of the expanded Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0. This “extended cut” was released digitally on 2/26/21, with a physical release on 5/26, and adds an additional 24 pages teasing the stories yet to come. 

The biggest change here is the updated take on the Big Bang, the source of most of the universe’s superheroes. In the original Milestone, the Big Bang happened when the police used experimental chemical weaponry in the middle of a gang war  – here, perhaps to be more topical, the chemicals were unleashed during the meeting of a Black Lives Matter protest and counterprotest. The exact circumstances of the Big Bang were an important point of nuance in the original Static stories – the fact that at his worst, Virgil found himself strapped up in the middle of a gang war played a big part in his desire to do the right thing, and stop Bang Babies who threatened the peace. Without that, we’re either going to lose that shade of grey, and that motivation for him, or, and hopefully this isn’t the case, BLM is going to be equated to the gang war. At best, it seems that Static will be overly sanitized. At worst, it’ll portray a peaceful protest for the right to be treated like people as something to be looked down on, a sin that warrants police escalation. While police brutality is clearly a part of both incarnations of the universe, I can’t help but worry, especially in today’s climate, whether it will be portrayed with the honesty it needs.

All that being said, it feels good to pick up a comic with the Milestone logo again, and I’m certainly hoping that my misgivings will prove unwarranted! Milestone is an imprint with a lot of potential, and I’m looking forward to seeing how some of the talented creators that have been brought on will leave their mark on the industry. With how widespread the superhero genre is today, Milestone’s return has the opportunity to bring a spotlight to diverse creators and characters that might otherwise fall by the wayside, and tell stories that are screaming out to be told. And hey, even if it doesn’t reach the heights of the early nineties, it might get people to check out those older comics! Either way, one thing’s for certain: it’s gonna put a shock to your system.

Categories
Episodes

Talkin’ Killadelphia with Rodney Barnes

Rodney was kind enough to join Dan to talk all about the first 2 arcs of Killadelphia. They spoke about some of the things that made it feel authentically Philly, horror, and discuss the future of the Killadelphia universe. Check it out and then make sure to pick up the trades!

Subscribe now or listen below!

Talkin’ Killadelphia with Rodney Barnes GateCrashers

Rodney was kind enough to join Dan to talk all about the first 2 arcs of Killadelphia. They spoke about some of the things that made it feel authentically Philly, horror, and discuss the future of the Killadelphia universe. Check it out and then make sure to pick up the trades!
  1. Talkin’ Killadelphia with Rodney Barnes
  2. Black Cat, Taskmaster, and the Infinity Stones with Jed MacKay
  3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  4. Cruisin’ the Infinite Frontier with Joshua Williamson
  5. Star Trek
Categories
Comics

GC52 News (DC Comics Releases for 06/01/2021)

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

(Spoilers for DC Comics released 06/01/2021)

(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 the same outfit as last week… his clothes look singed and battered as if he’d been through something quite difficult.The Daily Planet globe is visible behind him as he stares off blankly into space, face turned away from direct eye contact with the camera. The GC52 theme music begins to dim as the actual program begins. Dan barely moves until the audience can hear Jerry snap.

Jerry: Uh, Dan, you’re live. Are you okay boss?

The snap to attention isn’t quick but rather a slow turn towards Jerry and the camera.

Dan: I’m sorry, I just got back from the other Earth after being invited to that Lake House by an old friend, Walter. I barely made it out of there alive, Jerry. I was so scared that I’d never make it back to our Earth. I was given a label of “News Anchor” and a symbol. I cannot describe just how dehumanizing that is to have your identity boiled down into a simple phrase as you fight for your life against an apocalypse that you were hand-picked to survive against like a prized pig.

Jerry: Jesus Christ, why don’t you go home? That sounds like you need a day off. We are live…

Dan’s eyes widen and he takes a deep breath as it clicks just where he is before that familiar voice and charm return like someone opened the floodgates.

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!

Dan: As usual, a lot of stuff is going down in Gotham City. Batman seems to have it covered… but does he really? The Mayor signed off on Simon Saint’s Peacemaker Program. I have some weird itch in the back of my mind that it isn’t going to be good for the state of the future in Gotham. There has been footage of a large explosion in Gotham… the fires… just like at the Lake House…

Jerry: CUT TO GREEN LANTERN COVERAGE!

An image of static clears up and Thomas is shown listening to a pair of earbuds, which he quickly removes from his ears. Superimposed behind him is an image of some Green Lanterns at… school?

Thomas: Oh hey, sorry about that. Another broadcast just dropped from Lantern Mullein. Even in their dismantled state, the Green Lanterns are a memo-based organization. Her latest message is a reassurance that the Lanterns across the universe will be recovered and accounted for. At the moment, though? The Corps consists of her, a recovering Lantern Baz with a medicinal arm enhancement, and Teen Lantern Quintela. Fortunately, the United Planets have their back, led by an alien race that is always baring their teeth, either smiling or modeling for a part in the next Doom videogame…

Thomas holds a finger up to his earpiece.

Thomas: I would like to apologize to the United Planets for resorting to a stereotyped description like that. It’s just, who can Oa turn to in its hour of need? Hal Jordan can’t charge in and punch Sinestro this time. As for Lantern Stewart and his starship of a thousand Lanterns, there’s still no communication. Lots of superheroes tend to phase into some kind of altered state at the edge of the universe-

Thomas pauses again.

Thomas: Yes, our fact-checkers can confirm that has been the case often enough to be a safe assumption. The question remains, will the lost Lanterns return as the heroes we once knew, or will they bear scars and transformations from unknown cosmic forces and beings? Stewart is no stranger to a cosmic odyssey here and there, but who knows how he might power up in this unprecedented leadership role? Our computerized AI scenario artist has a most-likely rendering to share of the state of affairs out there:

The image seen behind Thomas now comes to take over the whole screen.

Oh no. We’re boned. Back to you, Dan.

Dan sits with an ice pack on his forehead and an iced coffee on his desk. His wardrobe has changed to what looks to be a hand-knit sweater they keep for breakdowns like this. It has the GC52 Logo on the center.

Dan: Sorry about all that before, I know Batman has this covered. I was just letting the terrible Memorial Day Weekend get me down. I saw reports that former Teen Titan, Crush, was having some romantic troubles. She went to her girlfriend’s birthday party and sort of let out an alien spore of some sort. I do feel for her. Crush is the daughter of intergalactic criminal, Lobo so things can’t be easy for her but it seems like she is headed off planet to work things out. Sending her our best! Let’s check in with Katie! 

When the camera cuts over, Katie is dusting off her shirt and sneezing.

Katie: Ugh, my allergies are atrocious today. All these plant spores and — Oh hi! Welcome. I didn’t know we were filming already ha…ha…

She sneezes again violently.

Katie: Whew! I’m standing here in front of Prescot Headquarters to give you an official update on the missing individuals inside the lab. Unbeknownst to my allegedly reliable witness, Ms. Jennifer Reece and her male companion were only missing for a few moments. It was the end of the day, and we all know how our minds can play tricks on us after long hours in this hell-hole rat race.

Oh — wait. I mean, not this job of course! I always feel like doing yard work and pulling weeds when I get home from reporting all day . . . Ahem.

Anyway, you should disregard any false reports of people disappearing in the technician lab that night. My real quick-footed confidante provided me with details on Ms. Reece’s friend. Mr. Levi Kamei had recently traveled back here to New York from his New Delhi trip. I am to understand that Levi and Jennifer exited Prescot Headquarters that same evening, unharmed and certainly not after vanishing in plain sight. 

Katie’s trusty black cat leaps from the ground onto her shoulder. The cat holds a small piece of paper in its mouth and tries to thrust it into Katie’s own mouth. She turns her head away and snatches the note.

Katie: Felicia, we’re not that close! Cats, right! Who knows where their mouths have been . . .

She shakes her head in awe of the cat’s delivery.

Katie: Apparently, collecting the DEETS — that’s where! Forget everything I said earlier! Those two were definitely up to something! Less than an hour ago, a cleanup crew in yellow hazmat suits and a man with a ventilator swept the room in the Prescot Headquarters building. The team found a peculiar piece of flora left behind and extracted data from Jennifer’s tests on Levi. Not to waterlog the story further, but Amanda Waller of Belle Reve has been contacted in regards to this investigation? Don’t tell me the Suicide Squad is going to make this phenomenon more swampy? Do we need a crossover? 

I’m signing off tonight and warning you all to stay away from flowers these days! They could give you more than just a–a–allerg–ACHOO! Ugh. Over to you, Dan.

Before the camera cuts back to Dan, Katie can be heard assuring her black cat, Felicia, that she definitely isn’t the cause of Katie’s sneezing. 

Dan: Thanks for that Katie! Well, looks like 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. I’m gonna go sleep for a week.

As Dan finishes the outro and the music starts to play, the credits roll and a burst of static takes over the screen. When the picture returns to normal, the GC52 studio has vanished, and instead, security camera footage of an office is being played. At his desk, Mr. Bones, a cigarette in his mouth, is listening to an audiotape. We’ve seen this room before.

On the audiotape a voice is speaking, one of Bones’ agents in the field, delivering a report of an incident involving the Justice League Dark. It’s difficult to make out every word but what can be heard makes for tense listening.

The voice on tape: — Merlin… more power — Zatanna… controlled — Backup requested…

Mr. Bones: That’s gonna get out of hand. Agent 17, can you come in here?

Agent 17, Ethan, the GC52 reporter-revealed-spy, enters the room wearing a black suit and tie. The type all secret agents wear.

Mr. Bones: Good, good, Agent. Assign two more people to 14’s JL Dark investigation. It sounds like it’s about to kick into high gear.

Ethan: Very well sir, but there’s actually something you need to hear. We’ve had reports from our sources in the Hall of Justice. It sounds like the League has jumped over to another universe, tracking down that Brutus guy who was rampaging around here the other day.

Mr. Bones: They… went… to… another… universe… and didn’t tell anyone? I’m gonna wreck their whole world when they get back. It’s not like the whole purpose of the DEO is to be informed when something like this is happening, right, Agent?

Ethan: Yes, sir. Should I assign anyone to actively monitor the situation?

Mr. Bones: No, no, just have our contact inform us the MOMENT they’re back.

Bones takes a drag on his cigarette and static overtakes the screen again, before cutting to black, the broadcast ended.


Books covered this week:

  • The Nice House on the Lake #1 by James Tynion IV, Álvaro Martínez Bueno, Jordie Bellaire, and AndWorld Design.
  • Batman #109 by James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey, and Clayton Cowles.
  • Green Lantern #3 by Geoffrey Thorne, Tom Raney, Marco Santucci, Michael Atiyeh, and Rob Leigh.
  • Crush & Lobo #1 by Mariko Tamaki, Amancay Nahuelpn, Tamra Bonvillain, and Ariana Maher.
  • The Swamp Thing #4 by Ram V, Mike Perkins, Mike Spicer, and Aditya Bidikar.
  • Justice League Dark: The Trouble with Books by Ram V, Xermanico, Romulo Fajardo Jr, and Rob Leigh.
  • Justice League #62 by Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, Ivan Plascencia, and Josh Reed.
Categories
Comics

Fun-Size Roundtable: Everfrost #1

GateCrashers HQ:

       We’ve made an incredible find in the ice north of Ward Precinct close to where the Ennio’s skull is located. I was shocked at how well preserved it is considering the harsh conditions here. It’s an ancient form of serialized, visual story-telling called a comic. I hope you’re sitting down when you read this because it’s not on a datapad; it’s actual paper. Paper! How it wasn’t destroyed by all the Branq in the area remains a mystery.

       This comic is titled Everfrost #1 by Ryan K. Lindsay, Sami Kivelä, Lauren Affe, and Jim Campbell. It tells the story of Van, a scientist trying to use the offspring of the dead Ennio to find a way off-world, with the help of her companion, Eight. At the same time, there are tales of the troubles between the Warlords of Ward and the Bloom. There’s much more to it and I’m giddy with the possibilities of studying this ancient text.      

In order to ensure speedy results, it was necessary to recruit some members from Project Yeti. This is the team studying the mysterious Pragg and you can read all of the previously published reports here. I have also drafted two recruits from Astounding Tales, Jake and Ray, and you can pick up what they’ve been working on here and see a free preview here. Once assembled, my team was in a position to analyze Everfrost #1 and report back immediately. Below I leave you with my team’s findings.

Katie Liggera


Everfrost #1. Credit: Ryan K. Lindsay, Sami Kivelä, Lauren Affe, Jim Campbell

Sci-fi genre comics require work. The writer’s work hinges on their responsibility to create a future/dystopia immersive for readers, also providing essential constituents to parse the lore wrapped up in these plots. Illustrators must work to manifest the writers’ script visually, adding layers of tangible details. Everfrost #1 does the work of a sci-fi comic in that the necessary rudimentary elements are present. But the comic overworks itself by stuffing an abundance of information into one single dense issue. As a reader, I felt I was working hard to understand Ryan K. Lindsay’s multi-latticed, in media res storylines. The enormity of ideas percolating, while innovative, felt overwhelming.

Van Louise and Eight’s story should have remained this first issue’s sole focus. Foul-mouthed primate companions always add levity to comics wavering tonally. I wanted to know more about Eight and loved his cheeky dynamic with Van. I primarily found myself invested in Van and her backstory. Masterful flashback sequences enhanced characterization. The close-up focus on only Van’s eyes tearing up immediately following the memory of her family’s deaths was poignant. Sami Kivelä and Lauren Affe’s artistry elevate moments like this grandly.

Lindsay’s prose-style writing is beautiful. The art, lettering, and design of Everfrost #1 all stunningly capture the story’s atmosphere. Hopefully, the scattered plot will find an even ground with further issues. And the more Eight in the comic, the better.

Jodi Odgers


Everfrost #1. Credit: Ryan K. Lindsay, Sami Kivelä, Lauren Affe, Jim Campbell

From the first page of Everfrost, the creative bond between artist Sami Kivelä and writer Ryan K. Lindsay is as evident as it has been throughout their numerous previous projects. While Kivelä’s gritty realisation of Lindsay’s intricate visions is a dynamic that I personally relish, it can be occasionally nebulous. There is a lot of information thrust upon the reader, and a host of ideas that will, no doubt, be explored in some way as the series goes on. This makes the issue a very good litmus test – either you will be intrigued by the prospects of escaping a planet by spawning eggs from a decaying dead god, clone children, class war, and crystal beings that have a deeper connection to the universe, or all of this coming at you at once will help you realise that Everfrost just isn’t your cup of branqblood soup.

Ray Griffith


Everfrost #1. Credit: Ryan K. Lindsay, Sami Kivelä, Lauren Affe, Jim Campbell

Everfrost is a wild Sci-Fi ride with a lot of ideas.

Maybe too many of them.

We’re whisked from one splendid visual to the next with wicked abandon – characters are introduced at a breakneck speed, often with dialogue that strains the word balloons as it struggles to provide context. Flying dragon creatures and slow-witted ice giants provide wonderful flavor, but the plot has a lot of threads that don’t come together in this first issue – the initial conceit, that scientist Van Louise needs to use the corpse of an eldritch abomination to gestate a way off world, is put to the side as she and her primate companion investigate mysterious miniature clones – and that’s before the android spider woman. If the threads laid down in Issue one come together, it could be amazing, but I can’t lie, without further context it’s hard to say if this is the beginning of brilliance or just a mess.

Jake Cohen


Everfrost #1. Credit: Ryan K. Lindsay, Sami Kivelä, Lauren Affe, Jim Campbell

The art in Everfrost is fantastic. The last page of the comic is a gorgeous splash page. Everfrost has great character designs that are both creative and communicate information about the characters. I particularly enjoyed a creepy antagonist that becomes a cyborg due to a beheading. This may remind X-Men fans of The X-Tinction Agenda’s villain Cameron Hodge.

The art design and the textures of the technology are creative and interesting, yet familiar enough to let you know what genre the story is taking place in. The art is terrific and the dialogue and narration was serviceable, but unfortunately, I never felt that they were in service of each other. Jim Campbell did a nice job conveying the volume of speech with how bold or light the lettering was. 

Everfrost is a genre piece. It’s mostly sci-fi and space opera with some splashes of fantasy like a battle with dragons, axes, and robot drones. In the tradition of the space opera genre the protagonist of Everfrost has a cool animal/alien sidekick, a monkey with a very long prehensile tail.

The dialogue and narration are sometimes clunky and a lot of the world building is provided through exposition. The exposition dumps and world building don’t add much context to the story. The narrative felt a bit like when someone pitches a story, but they spend most of the time explaining lore and world building before telling you the plot or most importantly, what the story is about.

While having its flaws, Everfrost does transport the reader to an intriguing universe that I would be interested in visiting again.

Rob M. McDonald


Everfrost #1. Credit: Ryan K. Lindsay, Sami Kivelä, Lauren Affe, Jim Campbell

Everfrost is a very good looking puddle: it covers a lot but not in any amount of depth. It is what I imagine the inside of JJ Abrams’ brain looks like. Zingers! Dead Gods! Environmental catastrophe! Robots! Talking Monkey! Dragons?

There is a very contagious disease amongst indie comics at the minute: an inability to tell a story across a single issue. I can’t imagine this will tell a story over two or three issues, either. It wants you to buy in and trust the creators over the long term that you are jumping into an ocean and not about to break your ankles. It may well be the case. This issue just gave me a headache. The dialogue is clunky at best and the narrative jumps so far without telling us anything really. Just slow down.

Please.

Categories
Comics

Young Animal//GateCrashers: It’s Bright

Hi there, it’s me again. Don’t tell me that you’ve forgotten the Grave Robber! I know I have been absent recently but I am still here. Always here in this graveyard. I have been spending a lot of time near the Shade tombs… a friend named M Cruz made me a sweater because it’s been so cold. This sweater has kept me warm. Made me feel safe in my own madness. Sometimes you can feel like you’re falling apart but just remember that you are loved. Put on your favorite sweater and pick up your favorite comic. Plunge into the pages to escape for awhile. M put a note in the pocket of the sweater for me so I knew their intentions with this masterpiece. You can find them on twitter and instagram at @vellvetgoldmine. Please do check them out! Anyway, here is the note and some photos of my new sweater…

I chose to paint this piece inspired by Shade The Changing Girl because of how colorful & surreal the universe is in those comics. I pulled various images from different comic scenes & covers to capture the essence of Loma’s character. The quote “It’s bright” refers to the opening scene where Loma has just woken up in Megan’s body & is observing her surroundings as she walks through the Hospital halls. I love how the lines between reality & Loma’s imagination are often blurred & I hoped to do the same with this sweater!

Categories
Comics

GCPride: Alan Scott

By Gabrielle Cazeaux

The first time I became acquainted with the first Green Lantern was in the series ‘’Batman: The Brave And The Bold’’. By that time, I already knew the legacy that he forged and left in the hands of many other superheroes, thanks to characters like Hal Jordan or John Stewart.  But I didn’t know about him. Created in 1940 by Martin ‘’Mart’’ Nodell along with Bill Finger for All-American Comics #16 (1940), when I first saw him in that show that premiered 68 years after the characters’ birth, I was very interested in him, despite his little screen time. He felt like a superpowered James Bond instead of just an ill-tempered boomer superhero. That, along with his cheesy and vibrant costume that seemed like it belonged to a magician turned vigilante, was enough to make me want to learn more about him. And he stands out a lot from other superheroes from that era. Batman or Superman, no matter how many years pass, how many sidekicks or sons they have, they stay mostly the same. But as the years passed for the readers, they also passed for Alan. He now has two children, his hair went white, and wrinkles are present on his face. Yet, he still retains the atmosphere of a sci-fi noir detective from the 40s in him, even in 2021, and around modern superheroes. 

Alan was depicted as a gay man not once, but in two occasions, with the first one being an alternative and younger version from Earth 2, in the first issue of the book of the same name, made by James Robinson, Nicola Scott and Trevor Scott in 2013. At the start of that story, he’s been away in other countries, thanks to his job. And after arriving in China, he meets with his boyfriend Samuel, and we’re given a full panel of them kissing, with a single dialogue that reads ‘’God, I’ve missed you’’. 

But the character from the main universe remained untouched for a long time, and while it could’ve been thought that’s because he’s straight, the same Alan Scott that appeared on the pages of comics from the 1940s officially came out as a gay man on Infinite Frontier #0 (2021) by James Tynion IV and Stephen Byrne. In a calm and cathartic sequence, he explains to his two teenage children how he decided that it was time to be himself to the full extent of it, followed by a heart-softening hug between the three, that marks the end of a scene that I think redefines how we view the Golden Age superheroes, giving a lot more possibilities when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation, and also reflecting the lives of those that had to take more time to accept who they are. Because Alan Scott, after 80 years of passing as a straight man, realized that it’s never too late to be ourselves. 

RECOMMENDED READING;

  • Brightest Day, Blackest Night (2002) – By Steven T. Seagle and John K. Snyder III
  • JSA Classified (2005-2008) – By Stuart Moore, Paul Gulacy and Jimmy Palmiotti
  • Justice Society Of America (2006-2011) – Gardner Fox, Everett E. Hibbard and Sheldon Mayer 

RECOMMENDED WATCHING;

  • Batman: The Brave And The Bold – Episode ‘’Crisis: 22,300 Miles Above Earth!’’ (2011)
  • Green Lantern on HBO Max (TBA)
Categories
Anime Manga Television Various Media

AnimeCrashers: Horror

Welcome to the first installment of our new Anime and Manga column where each month we will be making recommendations on starting points in various manga and anime genres! This month’s genre is HORROR!

Promotional art from NETFLIX

DEVILMAN: Crybaby 

By Science SARU

In this remake of Go Nagai’s classic Devilman, you are hit with tons of style and themes. Director Yuasa Masaaki and his studio Science SARU take their flattened, high contrast, and high energy animation style to breathe new life into the story from 1972. In Modernizing the story, the classic anti-war themes change to cover things more for today’s world like sexuality, self-confidence, and more. From a Black Sabbath to a drug and sex-filled rave there are many changes that make this ten-episode Netflix Original anime, an amazing series worth watching for anyone.

Follow Akira as his old friend, Ryo, drags him into the world of demons and possession. Akira is one of the few to be possessed by a demon; becoming the first Devilman! Akira must lead the Devilmen in taking on the demon hordes, led by Lucifer, as they bring upon the apocalypse. Can the soft-hearted crybaby Akira stop the destruction of Earth and save his loved ones? Find out.

I genuinely loved this when I watched it during a winter break in college. The color palette of the series just pops at all times because of the flatter art style causing the high contrast bright colors to work so well. Also, there is a character who is always rapping and he ends up being a decent guy in the end. It lived up to the hype that I had been seeing from all my friends.

  • Jake McMahon
Cover to Volume 1 of Tokyo Ghoul

Tokyo Ghoul 

By Ishida Sui 

Imagine, you meet a cute girl and she asks you out on a date to talk about books over coffee. One thing leads to another and you become a flesh-eating, coffee-sipping ghoul! Well, that’s exactly what happened to Ken Kaneki. Now as a half-ghoul, he must navigate the worlds of humans and ghouls while managing his new diet.

For me, this series is best read rather than watched. The anime’s second season outpaced the manga and took on an alternate story to the source material. To add more confusion goes back to the original story for the third season. But the manga is a fantastic read and the art is so kinetic I could look at single panels all day. I admit while reading it on the Shonen Jump app I screenshot so many of my favorite panels.

  • Jake
Cover from Volume 1 of CHAINSAW MAN

Chainsaw Man

By Fujimoto Tatsuki

I read Chainsaw Man very recently and devoured all 11 volumes in less than 48 hours. I truly wasn’t interested in it for the longest time and then all of a sudden, I found myself paying $2 for the Shonen Jump app solely to read it. There’s so much to say about Chainsaw Man and how utterly fantastic it is. The thing that really stands out for me the most, even beyond the stunning art, is how it treats its female characters. This is the first Shonen Jump series I’ve read in a long while where the women dominate the story, even though its main protagonist is a man. While Denji certainly falls into the stereotypical trappings of being a Shonen Protagonist, there is still a lot of care taken to give his character more everything and make the reader feel like he’s unique in a very oversaturated genre. Makima, Power, Kobeni, etc. all have more spotlight than almost every male character, and even female characters we see for only a volume feel like someone we’ve been with for a while. Each one has substance, an arc, and though they leave just as quickly as they came, it doesn’t leave you feeling unsatisfied. Warning for body horror and gore, but if you’re a fan of things like Invincible, Slasher movies, Berserk, etc. where the violence isn’t just there for gratuity’s sake, and you want some really beautiful looks at trauma, humanity, and morality, all mixed in with goofy fun, I truly cannot recommend Chainsaw Man enough.

  • DW

Parasyte

By Iwaaki Hitoshi

Parasitic aliens fall to Earth and begin implanting themselves into the brains of people with few special cases. One of those special cases is Shinichi Izumi. Through his fear of bugs, panics at the parasite tunneling into his body, but stops it from getting past his arm. He is rewarded by a shapeshifting talking hand named Migi, who helps Shinichi fight off other parasite hosts in a bid for survival.

I’m not too far into the anime but it’s super easy to follow. I appreciate that it doesn’t have Migi give a long-winded explanation of his origins because he doesn’t know much himself. I thought it had some really cool ideas and even some funny bits in how Migi tries to understand things. It’s an interesting take on body horror without seeming to go overboard with it

  • Jake

Categories
Episodes

Black Cat, Taskmaster, and the Infinity Stones with Jed MacKay

Dan and Ethan are joined by comics writer Jed MacKay to talk about his work over at Marvel Comics on Black Cat, Taskmaster, his upcoming relaunch of Moon Knight, and working on a big event series centered around the Infinity Stones.

Black Cat #7 and the launch of Infinite Destinies in Iron Man Annual #1 are both out today, and Moon Knight #1 launches July 21, 2021.

Subscribe now or listen below!

Talkin’ Killadelphia with Rodney Barnes GateCrashers

Rodney was kind enough to join Dan to talk all about the first 2 arcs of Killadelphia. They spoke about some of the things that made it feel authentically Philly, horror, and discuss the future of the Killadelphia universe. Check it out and then make sure to pick up the trades!
  1. Talkin’ Killadelphia with Rodney Barnes
  2. Black Cat, Taskmaster, and the Infinity Stones with Jed MacKay
  3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  4. Cruisin’ the Infinite Frontier with Joshua Williamson
  5. Star Trek