Some recent banner ads I created for the different verticals my company is trying to target for Mobile Device Management.
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Barry Kitson
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
I’ve sung the praises of Valiant so many times now I’m waiting for the “house that Shooter built” to send me custom knee-pads with a big red V embroidered on the front. I’ll be the first to admit I have a pulled-punch approach at times because I love comics so. And I’ll also admit I can be viewed as sycophantic if you’ve never read one of my scathing reviews. I can’t stress enough though; I’m not pandering with Valiant. In the course of one short year they have resurrected from the ashes of the 90s like a phoenix with two nacelles strapped to its ass for a warp 9 ascent to greatness.
Valiant is a salvation from the convoluted and inconsequential continuity at the big houses. To be fair they don’t have as much history to carry, but even at an individual issue level Valiant is trumping the best efforts of other publishers. They are adult without being bawdy, dialog is genuine instead of camp and the universe is carefully orchestrated by meticulous editors instead of a bunch of guys looking for individual title glory. Case in point: the big yet contained crossover HARBINGER WARS, which is now serving as the undercurrent for the titles BLOODSHOT and HARBINGER.
BLOODSHOT 11 is the perfect encapsulation of how a crossover should be managed. It is the space between the raindrops of HARBINGER WARS. It’s a focal point without being required reading, it adds new information, but not so much that those on limited budgets would be punished if they aren’t reading the rest of the series. Quite simply, it cares about a good story first and serving the event second.
If you’ve never read BLOODSHOT or Valiant before, I’m amazed you’ve read this far into the review. For all of you Valiant Virgins here’s the skinny on the story without getting too spoliery. Harbingers are Valiant’s answer to mutants, these next generation humans started when we nuked Japan and irradiated the Omega level Toyo Harada. Today new harbingers are cropping up all over the globe; HARBINGER WARS is the power play to see who will control them.
The two main puppet masters are of course corporations, a sad but accurate reflection of the age we live in. In one corner is the aforementioned Toyo Harada’s Harbinger Foundation, a multinational conglomerate that rose to power in the 20th century thanks in no small part to Harada’s Xavier like mental capabilities. In the other corner is Project Rising Spirit (PRS), an organization more clandestine than Harada and infinitely less virtuous. Harada is the villain you love to hate; he leaves room for sympathy in the fact that he does bad things towards a possible good end. PRS is basically Blackwater, a government contractor that will do anything for any government if the price is right.
BLOODSHOT is the PRS weapon of choice. A man with nanotech in his blood and a host of constructed memories meant to control him. And as we find out in this issue, he’s more than a rogue HARBINGER hunter, he’s also PRS’ final fail-safe to stop Harada.
HARBINGER WARS unfolded a deep history between Harada and PRS and it’s not a good one. Apparently back in the 60’s these two warring entities were once friends…or at the very least in co-opitition. Now though, as the race to see who can collect the most Harbinger kiddies continues to accelerate, each organization seeks to put the other permanently in the red.
As the confrontation between Harada and PRS escalates over in HARBINGER WARS, BLOODSHOT 11 takes the time to expand on the protocols PRS embedded in their albino killing machine to take down the most powerful man on the planet. What was only a few pages become a full 22 as we shift from Harada’s POV to the little boy living in BLOODSHOT. No this isn’t a set-up for a Michael Jackson joke.
The original BLOODSHOT in Valiant universe 1.0 always left me unfulfilled. His blood of heroes was more back-story for the future samurai RAI versus being an engaging character himself. He still had nanotech coursing through his veins, but that is where the similarities ended. For Valiant 2.0 they made one small move that made a huge difference in the story: sentient nanotech. That’s right this blood talks and takes on the form of a small little boy, with a larger than life arrogance. For each Harada protocol released during the battle, the creators take us inside BLOODSHOT to see just how much this is fucking with his mind. An EMP blast, a purging of the nanotech akin to two-girls-one-cup and finally a head explosion that leaves you wondering whether BLOODSHOT’s regeneration can truly handle anything. This would be as good a time as any to give Kitson his kudos on switching between extreme gore and the sterile operating room of BLOODSHOT’S mind.
The Eisner award nominees were just released a few weeks ago and a stark trend is forming. While Valiant didn’t make the list, their indie counterparts dwarf the modicum of accolades bestowed upon the Big 2. This is a sign of our storytelling times. I consider Valiant and Image to be some of my top reads right now. Valiant satiates my thirst for an interwoven universe, where I turn to Image to deliver cool quick-hit concepts. Not three years ago I was being satisfied on both fronts by DC and Vertigo. The ability to dethrone a giant in the hearts’ of readers is probably the best compliment I can give Valiant and of course BLOODSHOT.
By Rob Patey
It’s human nature to fear the unknown. While a few brave pioneers will valiantly traverse unchartered waters, as a whole our species will pick up pitchforks versus embracing that which is new and different. Case in point; Google Glass. The wearers already have derogatory terms in place, Tumblr sites are already showcasing demographic disparities in its wearers, and everyone has written off this moonshot project before it has even hit the Launchpad. I’m offering a different answer. Even if Google Glass sputters before it gets out the door; let’s look at the elements of this baby before we toss it out with the bathwater.
Google Glass – Our new PC, Not Frankenstein
When Google Glass started hitting the streets recently, the Internet responded as it often does. Fear, chiding and a slew of puns have already become some of the top searches for life’s little Heads-up-Display (HUD). I won’t say Google Glass is perfect, but show me any pioneering technology that hits a homerun on the first pitch? It took a few Apollo flights to get to the moon. The PC didn’t make it to every desk until long after its inception, and despite the information sharing benefits of social media there is still a wide world of naysayers who simply find it a waste of time. Sure Google Glass has some problems in functionality and design, but that’s today. Instead of simply writing off this technology I would like to play an optimistic game of “what if” to imagine what Google Glass could be.
Data Hands Free, for Every Industry
No matter how slick the new iOS 7 interface looks or how gargantuan Samsung makes its next Android devices; there is still that persnickety problem of having to actually hold the device and avert your eye focus to look at the screen. This archaic way of getting information takes away a necessary appendage (possibly two depending on how small your hands are and how big your smartphone is) and can be a frustrating exercise in swipe sizing information so it can be seen clearly.
Yes, Google Glass has induced a few headaches, but it’s hard to deny that this perfect positioning of all life’s information will let you keep your hands free for say:
- Healthcare: Imagine a world where a surgeon can keep their eye on the insides of the patient, but with a quick glance up get all vitals and any research needed to make things run smoother. I’m not condoning that anyone should multi-task during pivotal life moments, but the “dual-screen” approach to information gathering has already proven beneficial.
- Manufacturing: Real-time information from Supply Chain Management systems have already replaced the human eye for inventory control and productivity efficiencies. With Google Glass though, a floor manager can keep their eyes on the actual floor and dashboards at the same time allowing for a perfect integration of real-time reaction to any data streaming in from information systems.
- Education: Teachers have always wanted eyes in the back of their heads, but with Google Glass you omit the need to turn around. Currently teachers are using iPads and Android tablets to obliterate the need for a chalkboard with Educational Apps that deliver problems directly to students’ devices. In the Google Glass world the teacher won’t even have to look down to distribute the geometric equation or administer a poll about the Presidents. Answers will come back in real-time and will ensure full participation – even from the kids trying to hide in the back of the room.
IT – Google Glass’ First Frontier
All of this prognosticating will take time. Not a lot of time, but certainly a few years since Glass is still in its Beta infancy. Short term usage and rewards are here though, and they seem to come from the most likely of places – the lovers of all things Bleeding Edge, IT.
Fiberlink, the leader in cloud-based enterprise mobility management (EMM), announced that its MaaS360 platform supports the ability to monitor a mobile IT environment and perform administrative actions directly through Google Glass. The leader in Mobile Device, app and doc management even has a pair on site.
“Google Glass is a great example of how IT can adopt innovative technology to enhance the management and enablement of the mobile workplace,” said Frank Schloendorn, Google Glass test driver and director of Android ecosystem at Fiberlink. He continued, “The freedom to take action on the go and help someone at any time, all by looking through Google Glass, is an amazing experience. It’s just plain cool.”
Google Glass isn’t an immediate problem solver, but rather a window of pure evolutionary potential that further breaks the barriers in human and machine interactions.
Overcome by tablets and smartphones entering the office, school or hospital? Not sure how to start deploying, managing and securing these devices? What about Bring Your Own Device? Let us help you get moving with mobility!
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Writer: Neil Gibson
Artist: Caspar Wijingaard
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
The best way I can describe Neil Gibson is the product of Wes Craven prison-taking Rod Serling. Neil crafts stories with “twists” that are morose, despondent and a stark reminder the ultimate goal of the universe is cold entropy. TABATHA is Gibson’s first foray I know of into an ongoing serial, and he has successfully blended his TWISTED DARK vignettes of soul draining surprises into beat moments of ever page in this tale of dumb as fuck robbers in suburban Los Angeles.
TABATHA plays on a couple levels of the human spirit. Greed, lust, love and charity all collide, but none are delivered as expected. For greed we have our four unlucky protagonists of Luke the mailman who cases empty houses so he and his cohorts can rob them blind. Unfortunately they hit a snafu when they break into the house of a retired SFX guru who is lusting to transfer the title’s eponymous sex doll TABATHA into a real woman. Luke gets caught in the first issue break-in and is now being held hostage by a mad man.
It sounds convoluted, but Gibson keeps it from being cumbersome through naturalistically letting the characters motives and personalities shine above the premise. It’s a much appreciated and often times hilarious juxtaposition to lighten the gore and depravity of the villain. There’s a Brotherly love that comes across effortlessly as Luke’s Brother Fin tries to once again save his baby brother from the clutches of Dr. Fuckenstein. Fin’s partner Baily and her brother Ty are ancillary, but their addition adds a level of sympathy since the gang is doing most of their dirty deeds to pay for an operation to save their Mother. Plus they give Ty someone to interact with as he formulates his rescue plan for Luke.
Much of Gibson’s talent comes across in the dialog. Part of me wants to type it all out to entreat readers into giving this guy a shot, but I know that’s an egregious crossing of spoiler boundaries. Suffice to say, when you have lines discussing the defiling of a sex doll for laughs, the earnest belief that a real woman’s brain will animate a sex doll or vice versa, the slow dismemberment of limbs and trying to score a gun in East LA through legitimate channels hilarity will ensue if your soul is steeped in darkness.
I was half and half on Caspar the friendly artist’s work. On one hand his cartoony style was more than sufficiently creepy in close-ups, but this wasn’t carried through in the wide angles. Ugly, cute, ugly, cute made for a somewhat disjointed experience at times. I know I just basically applauded this cadence in the writing so I guess I’m a hypocrite, but I expect more evenness from artists. If he made every background like the gun shop where Ty tries to legitimately get a piece to save Luke I would not be writing this paragraph.
Gibson is a rising talent, go to his Facebook page and you can see the likes of Frank Miller, Samuel Jackson, and a bunch of other Comic Brits enjoying his Twilight Zone like anthologies TWISTED DARK. If you find yuck-yucks in dismemberment and love the Monty Pythonesque malaise towards life’s atrocities look no further than TABATHA.
OZ is one of the most beloved properties in fiction. Its public domain status has also made it a much revered property for reimagining. Now Zenescope is following the yellow brick road infusing their own style of female empowerment for friends of Dorothy everywhere (wait…uhhh…well you know what I mean).
I recently sat down with OZ writer Joe Brusha and artist Anthony Spay to find out why this version of OZ will be worth picking up this July.
Optimous Douche (OD): With all the fantasy worlds at your disposal, what made Zenescope choose OZ as its next playground for modernization?
Joe Brusha (JB) – When we created the Grimm Universe we established early on that there were four realms of power surrounding earth; Neverland, Wonderland, Myst and Oz. We planned to eventually introduce and reinterpret each of these realms to fit into that overall universe. So we’ve been planning to introduce Oz and modernize it for at least three years.
Anthony Spay (AS): There have been references to Oz in Grimm Fairy Tales and other titles as far back as 2009. Zenescope has made a name for itself with the reimagining of some popular fairy tales; but what the casual reader might not realize is that we have been molding these stories and characters into a cohesive, interactive universe- the Grimm Universe. OZ was a natural progression.
Optimous Douche: Will Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Lion and Tin Man all be present?
JB: All of the familiar characters from the original Oz story everyone knows will be present. Of course they are getting our typical dark and edgy reinvention so they aren’t going to look like, or act like they did in the original stories. I really love the way both the look and personality of the characters turned out for our Oz story and I hope that our readers do too.
AS: Yes, all of the characters we know and love will be appearing, as well as some incredible new ones. As for those four main characters, we have definitely put our own spin on the characters. Oz was originally a children’s book, so we had to make them fit in our universe- which can be pretty dark! At the same time, they will be instantly identifiable, so I think we have struck a good balance.
JB: Dorothy doesn’t look much differently than she does in other versions of Oz. She definitely has more sex appeal but her main changes are in her personality and she’s tougher and scrappier in this version. The lion is much more humanoid and his look was established by a race of characters we’ve already seen in other Grimm stories called the Kavari. They are a tribe of warriors and Oz is their home realm. Anthony designed both the Tin Man and Scarecrow as well as most of the new characters so I’ll let him tell you about them.
Optimous Douche: Zenescope is known for gender switch-ups from the original work, will we see any flip-flops here?
JB: Not in this series. There are basically two reasons we’ve done the gender switches with characters in the past: The first is that is gives us the ability to feature sexy, badass female characters in our artwork and that seems to appeal to the core demographic of comic book readers. The other reason is that we have a large base of female readers who really seem to identify with the strong female characters we create. So by focusing a lot of our stories on female characters we’re able to satisfy our two main customer bases. We have been introducing more leading male characters into the universe but I think the success of films and books like the Hunger Games and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo shows that you can build successful franchises around strong female protagonists.
AS: No, not in this series. In the case of Robyn Hood and Jungle Book, the stories dictated that we made those changes, as they were written for female leads, and there weren’t all that many female characters to play with in the original works. Between Dorothy and the various witches, there were plenty of strong women in the previously established lore of OZ. Somehow, I don’t think the ‘tin woman’ would have fit, haha.
JB: This is an origin story. In keeping with the idea of reinventing Oz to fit into the Grimm Universe we wanted to start at the beginning and not only introduce these characters to our readers but to each other. This story is a prequel of sorts and takes place in the past mainly so we could do an origin story.
AS: Yes, this series is actually a prequel to a larger story arc, and details Dorothy’s initial journey through the realm of OZ, and her introduction to all of the other characters.
Optimous Douche: So does Zenescope’s OZ start in Kansas, OZ, or somewhere else entirely?
JB: It starts in Kansas. That was one of the things I wanted to keep the same as in the original story. Dorothy is an average farm girl from the Midwest when the story starts and we see her at home before the events of the story transform her into something much more.
GRIMM 0 & 1
Writers: Marc Gaffen and Kyle McVey
Artist: Jose Malaga
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
Generally it’s readily apparent that TV properties turned comics are for that rare breed of fandom that A) Still reads comics and B) loves and adores characters so much that even non-canon doings are an engaging read.
I’m a huge fan of GRIMM the TV series. When it launched the same time as “Once Upon a Time” on ABC I decried both series were ripping off Willingham’s FABLES and I would have none of either. Mrs. Douche, ever the voice reason, and staunch disbeliever of the comic medium, coerced me into giving both a shot. I dropped “Once Upon a Time” faster than you can say convoluted soap opera. GRIMM kept me though; it wasn’t a FABLES rip-off despite the spilling over of Germanic fairytales into the real world. The cop drama element of it where lead character Nick is a real cop for the Portland PD and a cop of the fantastical Wessens (pronounced Vesens) was different enough to provide sheer enjoyment for the better part of two years. First off FABLES focuses on all fictional characters and each is an immortal version of self. GRIMM takes the stance that there wasn’t just one big bad wolf or sentient rabbit, they are collectives and for the most part they simply want to live normal mundane (or mundy) lives. Secondly, it has turned into a character piece focusing not just on Nick’s dealings with the Wessens, but also all the elements of humanity like love, friendship and fear of the unknown. And sadly it’s on these points the comic simply fails.
The writers made a valiant effort, but the simple nature of the comic medium coupled with trying to be all things to all readers new and old left this is as an unsatisfying “just the tip” experience for all. My cervix is simply too deep when it comes to GRIMM as it is for most of us who have watched the series since day one. And the fact the comic is picking up from season 2’s finale, provides a very confusing experience given the current happenings on the TV show.
New readers I fear simply won’t care. Who is Nick, his Blutbad friend Monroe, his partner Hank and their Hexen Beast Captain? Why do they all know about this world and how come it’s so easy for them to fly off to Germany to hunt down demonic coins when I have to go through 12 HR requests to take my dog to the vet? It stretches lines of credibility even for comic fans. Longtime fans will understand the discovery of this world, how Hank found out about the GRIMMS, how the Captain was once believed on the side of evil and just how unique the relationship is between Nick and Monroe.
I’ll admit the inclusion of a new female GRIMM was pretty cool, and I would have appreciated it ten-fold if I hadn’t just watched Nick get back together with his estranged girlfriend Juliette. That’s called timing folks….bad timing.
Issue Zero actually had things right, it provided a moment in time that could easily coincide with the show’s chronology. It held no consequence, but it was fun. Issue 1 simply sets up too different of a universe. Sadly issue zero was a free comic day giveaway that probably won’t make it into any of the right hands.
On art, Alex Ross’ cover is gorgeous and really captures an emotional visage of the real-life players. As for the interior art…it lives behind a spectacular cover by Alex Ross.
GRIMM isn’t a failure and I think there are corrective measures that can take place, but I’ll certainly be walking away from this first arc so I can go on enjoying the show.