Saturday, September 21, 2013

Epic Beards of Review: Batman '66 #1 & Batman Beyond Universe #1

Holy time-travel, Batman!  This review originally published graciously at Striptease The Magazine!

Batman ‘66 #1
Jeff Parker (w) Jonathan Case (a)

DC Comics $3.99

I’ve not read a Batman comic since the first three issues of DC’s New 52. Not that I read much before, but I couldn’t wrap my brain around continuity issues of the entire line. I’d never been much of a fan of Damien Wayne, either. But with my own super-baby on the way, money’s going to be tight and I’m going to be picky.

I’ve still a box of my uncle’s from the 80s that I’ve still not read, as well as a great big honkin’ gift of Superman titles that I got for my birthday. I’ve even got three or four longboxes of stuff that I’ve been meaning to pore over again, maybe with said super-baby.

I’ve also not yet gotten into the cheaper digital comics, but my deficient computer handling skills coupled with the fact that I already spend so much time on the internet just sounds like bad news. How ironic, then, that I should pick up the two first issues of comics that were A) Batman and B) originally distributed as digital issues? I just now picked up on the fact that these were both television shows, too.

In our first review, Jeff Parker (Bone) and Jonathan Case (Dear Creature) bring a rowdy and raucous take from the small screen to your fingertips in Batman ’66. The feel of the original television program is here, almost as if it never left us. The announcer introduces us to the perfectly mundane Gotham City before some spectacularly dazzling crime takes place—this time in the throes of that Pasha of Puzzles: The Riddler. We’re thrown into the action and it isn’t long before Bruce and Dick are missing, the day saved by Batman and Robin.

There are some Bat-tastic nods here including Robin pounding his fist in frustration and Bruce/Bats telling him to “’Take heard, old chum.’” And how can you not mention a super-surprise guest-star appearing out the window as the Dynamic Duo climb up the side of a building?

There’s a cacophony of camp an color here, but the color concerns me: the shading and dot texture giving a feel of the sixties make for some hard-to-digest scenes, as if were almost meant for 3-D. Maybe something to do with the comic originally intended for the digital market.

Despite that little bump, $3.99 for thirty pages is a steal which the Caped Crusaders will be more than happy to let you get away with.

Batman Beyond Universe #1
Rewired Kyle Higgins (w) Thony Silas (a)
Power Struggle Christos N. Gage (w) Iban Coello (a)
DC Comics $3.99

In going with this time travel theme, how will we read comics in the future, especially now that we’ve gone a bit digital. Not sure why I’ve never picked up Batman Beyond because I’m a huge fan of appropriating old characters for new situations. Originally billed as Batman Beyond 2.0 and Justice League Beyond 2.0, Batman Beyond Universe has somehow helped me buy into DC Comics for at least a little while.

Gotham of the future goes back to its roots with the Arkham Institute, working very hard to “rehabilitate” the city’s biggest and baddest. In short order, the mayor is killed by an unforeseen murderer which we later find out is bioelectric in nature. There is no one the boys can put their finger on, so it seems there’s a new player in town. As usual, Terry is left completely unprepared for what lay ahead.

Next up is Justice League Beyond and Superman is experiencing issues with his powers having vaulted into overdrive. The League is there to help out when Supes’ powers go haywire, but the only way they can prevent further damage is Kryptonian nanotech which blocks his power to absorb solar energy.

There’s a neat twist here with a flashback aside remembering Lois which ties in nicely with Kal’s (Clark’s new alter-ego) fitting into normal society as a firefighter. Lots of flirting with a lady firefighter who seems to be asking him out, and not taking no for an answer.

Great art by Silas on Batman Beyond with plenty of panels to shake a stick at. Coello hits home with his depictions of Superman in Justice League Beyond, both in and out of the suit.

Even though neither story is wrapped up in this compendium, weighing in at FORTY PAGES for $3.99, you’ll be more than happy to pick up the next installment.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fall of Babylon

I can remember where
we were, but only
because the picture
tells me so.

Not the exact moment—
but memory serves me,
over easy
cold breakfast conversations.
Playing games 
on the back of a cereal box,
waiting for you 
every day,
offering up mere Fruity Os
however well
you can see through them,
the bag, 
and my veiled intentions.

Dainty, child-like fingers
small enough
to ring me a winner.
Choosing your suitor
based on the flavor of the day.
Struck with this, not
once, but twice,
breaking our engagement
as you stand,
cutting me open and
spilling my remains along the ground.
People pass us by, and
will forever walk all over me,
crushing me beneath their heels,
to sugary powder—
the kind that tastes so
sickeningly sweet
in the milk at the end of the bowl.

Couldn’t always hang onto
you, your gaze
forever, could I?
Forever unsure of the right words
to use and
where to place them,
with the perfect caption
next to the snapshot
of our “lives.”
These ideas expressed
I’ve longed to write,
these scribbling which will
somehow find their way
into a slushpile of works-in-progress,
and anthology, perhaps,
a future I always meant to 
write, until I was written off.

WARNING: The following material may not be suitable for some viewers.

The television shows
flicker and flash,
a continual burn and crash,
of images immolated
into the screens
of our collective unconsciousness,
Beyond our wildest
imaginations, playing with us,
over and over, again and again,
we want to see,
can’t help but look.

People pressing in, 
unable to breathe, 
constricting movement
to any other place
than here.

Up, up, up those steps
longing for
the answer at the top.
Wouldn’t be climbing them
without the promise
of the stairway
that leads to cleaner breathing air.

So much for comfort,
this empty space between the beds,
hard and unyielding, 
like your heart, 
open for suggestion.

Even as towers fell,
I was erecting my own.
Wish I could say mine
withstood terroristic tests of time.
Pedestal’s placement,
the mortar mixed,

Nothing like
tragedy to tear
things apart.

My mind was on this morning.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Going Solo

driving through the nite
in time to see the dawn
last saw you this afternoon
but it's been far too long
cause I miss you
I miss you

sorry there ain't too much room
just me and my bucket seats
with you by my side
babe you're all I need
cause I miss you
I miss you

some times I remember
how things were
then I stop and think
and see how much I've learned
the price I've paid
living a life for which I should be ashamed
but I've got you
and that's more than I deserve

woah woah woahs

gonna put the visor down
'cause the morning light's arrived
pretty soon I'll be in your arms
you're what keeps me alive
cause I've found you
I've found you

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Epic Beards of Review: Versus.

This was originally published at Strip Tease.

Not that I’ll ever deny it, but there are times a-plenty when I get barbs thrown my way for being a nerd—but then, I’m thirty-five. Of course, the main protagonist of Versus. may have been around that age when cartoons like G.I.Joe and Transformers were actually on the air, it’s no wonder his co-workers are giving Engel a hard time.

There’s something to be said for Buddy Beaudoin and Andrew Meigel (Meibuddy Comics) and their approach to this inaugural issue: their fascination of the 80s not only encompasses Saturday morning madness, but also sizzles with a Labyrinth poster on a bedroom wall and a panel-by-panel Simple Minds tribute. Versus. is destined for greatness, but throwing in Patrick Swayze was a nice touch.

Our hero Engel is a cop with the Metro County Police and is soon embroiled in some pretty heavy (“There’s that word again.” –Dr. Emmett Brown) shenanigans by some super-shady thugs. We’re as yet unclear as to what’s happening, but I’m betting Superpara Industries where “Science is the New Religion” may have something to do with said malarchy.

Meigel has some pretty fantastic art reminiscent of Ted McKeever and fills the panels up with some crazy eighties fare. Panels and pacing are pretty perky and breaks things up nicely with full-page and smaller story elements. Colors and shading make it hard to remember this is an indie title. Versus. has got a trippy, heady cover with a glimpse into something melding James Bond with The Matrix.

They’ve chosen wisely with publisher KA-BLAM, and though this is my first experience with their product, I’d highly recommend them upon seeing the outcome.

In addition to twenty-five great pages, there’re a few with some sketches for future issues. There’s even a nice map of the Metro County Public Transit with some nice nods to comic greatness past and present. Whether or not this is a story akin to the likes of Fringe or Lost (or something much deeper) it’s still too early to tell, but I’m anxious to see where Versus. is headed.

As one prone to reading comics over and over again, I’ll have to order another myself considering there’s a fingerprint marring the front cover.

Versus. is available at Aquilonia Comics in Troy, NY, Fuzz Recordshop in Albany, NY, or directly plus shipping at  Versus. #2 will be available Fall/Winter 2013.

versus cover

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Epic Beards of Review: Seven Forges

I'm not sure what's just happened to me.

It's as if I"m just a lonely reviewer on Law & Order: Criminal Intent: Writer's Edition, and I've been quietly stabbed in the back by a would-be assassin.  I'm coughing up blood and my hands are slippery with the warm stuff as they struggle behind me, futilely grasping for the weapon.  Of all the back-handed, double-cross things to've done to a guy.

If I make it out of this alive, I'll gladly offer to be slapped around with the fiction of James A. Moore again.
Seven Forges isn't due out until September 24, but I'm already champing at the bit for the sequel.

What starts out as a seemingly routine trek across the wilderness wasteland of the north turns bleak right quick. What had been plodding for months through the ice and dust of a blasted cataclysmic landscape leads to an attack from mutated hyenas and a save from a barbarian as big as a house.

Oh, and there's a wizard behind all this madness.

Seven Forges is high fantasy like I've never seen--nary and elf, dwarf or dragon to be seen--but makes up for it with that pesky wizard and his harem, a mysterious race and a city hidden in the mountains.  After one character loses the use of his hands one of this mysterious race says something akin to 'Here, put your stumps in this magic box and "presto-change-o" you've got metal hands!'

Weird, yes.  But there's something about the function of this plot point that sings with the essence of the believable.  Moore gives us magic, swordplay and a fine mix of diplomacy that's perfectly well-rounded and doesn't bog the story down.

Seven Forges by James A. Moore is due out in paperback September 24 from Angry Robot Books.